Jesus was Caesar – I am not King, I am Caesar

Extracts from the book «Jesus was Caesar»

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten

© 2005, Uitgeverij Aspekt b.v., Soesterberg, The Nederlands

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I am not King, I am Caesar

p. 181 (original German Edition), = p. 182(English Edition)

Caesar’s family descended via his father’s mother, from the Marcii Reges. Following his maternal lineage, he was also a ‘King’.381 He used this word association to humorously play down the cheers of the people who wanted him to be king. As is well known, he was unsuccessful, for his opponents used this as further proof that he still wanted to be made king. Suetonius: ‘It was useless.’ Plutarchus: ‘Great silence followed these words as he gloomily and vexedly walked along.’

There is no historical agreement as to when and where Caesar used this expression. Plutarchus says, ‘As Caesar one day returned from Alba’; Appianus, ‘on the way home near the city gates’; Suetonius does not name the place or the occasion: ‘as the plebs greeted him as king.’

In John’s Gospel the sentence is found when Pilate leads Jesus to ‘a place that is called the Pavement,’ saying to the screaming crowd:

    ‘“Behold, your King!”
    The chief priest answered:
    “We have no king but Caesar.” (Jn 19,13-16)

    Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.’

In spite of all the uncertainty concerning the location, there is still a similarity in the situation: the road to Alba or the returning home at the city gate on the one hand, ‘the Pavement’ on the other; screaming crowds in both scenes; being addressed as ‘King’; the answer: ‘not a King, but Caesar’ (our differentiation between Caesar and Emperor does not exist in Greek). Hopelessness and leading away: ‘It was useless’ and ‘he gloomily and vexedly walked along’ on the one hand, ‘delivered to be crucified’ on the other.

The only difference is that Jesus does not say, ‘I am not King’ as Caesar does. Instead the chief priests say: ‘We have no king’. However, this is a difference that makes no difference, because Caesar himself was chief priest, archiereus, pontifex maximus.