Wednesday, February 13, 2008

crucifixion not that bad?!

One Terry Eagleton, a professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Manchester, tries to claim that Jesus "got off pretty lightly" because it only took him three hours to die. Got off pretty lightly? It would seem that Professor Eagleton knows little of crucifixion. He adds that Jesus's scourging was a "blessing in disguise" because it hastened his death. In one talk, Professor Eagleton, one of the world's leading literary theorists baldly declared, "The Crucifixion of Jesus wasn't as bad as its been painted," he says. "All things considered, he got off pretty lightly." He goes on to say,
"If the New Testament account is to be believed it took him only three hours to die whereas a lot of those killed by this hideous mode of execution thrashed around on their crosses for days." He concludes his talk with an attack on contemporary Christianity, which he says has abandoned the poor and dispossessed in favour of the "rich and aggressive"

At the same time, he also attacks modern Christianity for siding with the rich and abandoning the poor the very thing Jesus tended to rebuke the Jewish leadership of doing (and his brother James too). He might be partly right here. In some respects the Church has abandoned the poor.

This quote was interesting: "It's horrified by the sight of a female breast but nothing like as horrified by the obscene inequalities between rich and poor. "By and large, it worships a god fashioned blasphemously in its own image and likeness."

However, he was slam-dunked by the Rt Rev N.T. Wright when he responded:
"It is all a bit tired, this rhetoric. It is all a bit sad. Of course, caricatures of Christianity are all over the place, but they do not reflect reality. He should get out more.


He then added: "Perhaps the professor might also like to get his facts straight. Jesus took six hours to die on the cross, not three."

Here is someone who might know something about the Bible, but not really know the Bible (or the one to whom it points).

Here is the article in the British Telegraph


At 5:38 PM, Blogger Pascalian Awakenings said...

Thanks for the post and article link. This quote from the article said what I was thinking and then some. But he said it better than I would have:

"Tony Kilmister, a vice-president of the Prayer Book Society, said: 'Terry Eagleton is totally belittling of Christianity. How would he like it if he was strung up and scourged, let alone nailed to a cross?'"


At 10:38 AM, Blogger Ryan Jones said...

I am not familiar with Eagleton's work, but I have some sympathy for his comments here, especially in light of the tendency to play up Jesus' sufferings. Take for instance Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ", where Gibson wants us to meditate on Jesus' suffering. I thought to myself how many Christians through the ages have gone through even more gruesome forms of martyrdom. The point of the crucifixion (contra Mel Gibson) is not that Jesus suffered for us but that He died for us. If we insist that somehow Jesus suffered more than anyone else, then what are we saying about all the other martyrs that have also experienced excruciating deaths? Should we minimize their deaths in order to keep Jesus' as the worst?

To say that Jesus' crucifixion was less torturous than other crucifixions is not (a) to say that it was not still terrible, or (b) to diminish its theological importance. The gospel writers themselves do not place their emphasis on how badly Jesus suffered. I do not think it is healthy for us to place our emphasis there either.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I can see your point Ryan, thanks for the comment. I do think he is going over the top and trying to downplay the crucifixion.


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