14. After the death of Jesus: the historical events
On 18 October 31 CE emperor Tiberius stripped Seian of power and restored the imperial authority.
Crucially for the success of the coup, Seian was immediately executed. Otherwise the most powerful man in Rome yet would have been able to mobilize his followers and take steps against his prosecutors.
Jesus, too, was immediately crucified, and the burial of his dead body was prevented in order to deprive the rebels of his leader and to nip the revolt in the bud.
Now, however, some odd events took place which held the myth of Jesus alive. Jesus’ enemies could not enjoy their victory over him for long. Pilate and Caiaphas were dismissed, with Pilate awaiting trial in Rome; Herod Antipas suffered a humiliating defeat and was later deposed and exiled. A few months later the hated Emperor Tiberius died.
His young successor Caligula gave the principality of Philip, which the citizens would like to have been given to Jesus, to the likeable grandson of Herod I., Agrippa I., who was able to continue Jesus’ policy of reconciliation.
Did Jesus triumph posthumously? Did God justify Jesus afterwards (Is. 53, 4s.)?
Early Christianity originated in Samaria-Sebaste. That is where Jesus was crucified in 36 AD;
the protests that led to Pilate being recalled started there. Simon Magus was active there; he was the leader of the Gnostic Jesus movement, and in Christian tradition he became Simon Peter, the disciples’ and Apostles’ spokesman. The first baptismal community also emerged there, though it did not feature the Gnostic idea of receiving of the spirit at baptism; Acts 8:12; 16.
And the great speech of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in Acts 7 expresses the spirit of James’ Samaritan Jesus movement: Stephen refers to the Samaritan Messiah, the Taeb: Acts 7:37 = Deut. 18:15.
Philip’s mission in Acts 8 starts there and Luke continues the Acts of the Apostles there too, only interrupted by Paul’s conversion, and Peter’s missionary activities in Lydda, Joppa and Caesarea Maritima.
The situation changed radically at Mt. Gerizim. Jesus was taken prisoner as a rebel by Pilate and was crucified. A dead Messiah
is not a Messiah. Jesus had disappointed the followers who had expected an earthly Messiah and an earthly Messianic kingdom. The followers of the Messiah’s journey scattered and returned to their home villages and towns. Because Jesus had no disciples, there was no successor and no one to continue his work.
The end of Jesus’ enemies
Jesus’ opponents were not able to enjoy their victory over the Messiah for long. Pilate and the high priest Caiaphas were removed from their positions in the same year, 36 AD: Ant. 18.4.2f; Emperor Tiberius died on 16 March 37 AD; Antipas was deposed in 39 AD and banished to Gaul, his wife Herodias going with him.
The misfortune of Jesus’ enemies rehabilitated Jesus in his followers’ eyes. They believed that God himself took revenge on Jesus’ enemies for his death.
Why does Josephus’ account of the Samaritan Messiah (Ant. 18.4.1) relate to Jesus? What details in the accounts are identical
in both Josephus and the Gospels? What differences are there? How can they be explained? Identical details are the Roman Pilate, the insurrection, the execution by crucifixion, (assumed in Josephus due to insurrection being given as the reason for the condemnation).
Other similarities include: the executed man’s guilt is doubtful (Josephus mentions this immediately after his account); the date (in Josephus, this can be deduced from the end of his period in office), the exact date is not given in the Gospels, but the period of time can be deduced from the fact that it was during Pilate’s term of office.
Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea and Samaria, saw Jesus’ triumphal journey as an anti-Roman insurgency; he scattered the crowds
and had Jesus and the other leaders crucified on the holy mountain Gerizim in Samaria in 36 AD. Josephus writes (Ant. 18.4.1):
The Samaritan nation too was not exempt from disturbance. For a man who made light of mendacity and in all his designs catered to the mob, rallied them, bidding them go in a body with him to Mount Gerizim, which in their belief is the most sacred of mountains…