APOSTLES’ CREED 8 He was crucified, died and was buried..

As early as St Paul,Christian writing about Jesus’ death had become a theological exercise using texts from the Hebrew Bible, especially Isaiah 53, and much ingenious argument to show that this crime was within the prophesied will of God, and efficacious for the eternal salvation of believers.

I accept that Jesus of Nazareth was tortured and murdered by the Roman administration of Judaea as a messianic jihadist. Before anyone finds in this event any signs of God or salvation, one should note the all-too-common imperialist brutality, justified by the usual specious justification of public peace. The management of such an event would have been well-known to the Spanish, French, or British imperial staffs.

It is however the story of an atrocity and should be taught as such by the church. Mel Gibson’s muddled The Passion of the Christ at least has the merit of depicting gratuitous violence towards a failed religious radical. Crucifixion was a form of Roman punishment reserved for those who never had any civil rights or had been deprived of them designed to cause maximum pain and loss of dignity. Only in Mark and Matthew is the stark horror of the event preserved to some extent, along with a record of Jesus’ anguished questioning.

The statement that Jesus died and was buried is doubtless intended to rebut any teaching that explained his resurrection by denying his death. The ending of Jesus’ physical life is important to Paul who sees it as the full expression of the “emptying” of one “who always had the form of God.” It is the end of one sort of body. I guess he would not have been over-disturbed by the discovery of Jesus’ bones.

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