A Quick Linkset to JRP's Sceptical Resurrection Series (so far)

Due to being busy on other projects, and also fighting off a nasty round of spring allergies, I didn't do an Easter series on the Cadre this year; and besides Joe was taking point on that this time. So I'll just put up a post for handy links to the first two parts of an ongoing series I've previously been working on, and call it a season. {g}

Let me clarify and stress that the point of this series, is NOT to argue (directly anyway) for the historical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in any religiously Christian sense -- although, since I have somehow been mistaken by some fans of Richard Carrier in thinking I don't believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, I'll also clarify here that I do, with full trinitarian Christian theological meaning. (They were referencing a discussion I was having with Keith Parsons where I was taking the side of bodily resurrection vs a mass hallucination theory, not referencing this series; but eh, fans of Richard Carrier, in my experience over the years they tend to get confused easily.)

On the contrary, this series is just an intellectual exercise, for self-critical purposes (interesting to me anyway), in seeing how far I'd get in accepting various historical claims around religiously Christian claims about Jesus of Nazareth (including but not restricted to resurrection claims), if I was not only a dedicated atheist (so bracketing out my religious beliefs per se and subbing in disbelief for the existence of any type of ultimate God), but also starting from the most feasibly extreme sceptical positions I can find (albeit "feasible" by my estimation, keeping in mind that people have varying estimates of feasibility) and working forward from there only where I see logical advantages to increasing belief vs scepticism. Considering that I start with an unknown author totally inventing his whole text in an unknown year for unknown reasons, and considering options from there, I don't think I'm starting mild! But then of course I'm factoring in, sometimes at shorthand, various details about the situation I've learned about over the decades.

One point I'm provisionally importing as a prior conclusion, is that no amount of historical argument can logically stand as deductive ground for deciding that my atheism is false. At most it might give me grounds for re-evaluating why I think atheism is true and theism false, but that's rather a different intellectual operation going back to metaphysics. Nor do I mean to introduce this provision as some kind of belief foreign to my real beliefs; since I am on record (here now as elsewhere) as believing and arguing the same thing as a theist (and as a trinitarian theist): historical conclusions are not metaphysical conclusions and should not be elided between. This is why I have never once tried to use historical arguments to convince atheists (or alt-theists) to be theists (or my kind of theist). This is also related to why in my historical arguments I either specifically argue along lines I would accept even if I held a different philosophy (though admittedly any philosophy that allows for real history and other topics related to historical arguments), or else if I'm factoring in various levels of my actual religious beliefs I clearly qualify what I'm doing with acknowledgements that those who don't agree with my beliefs might or will certainly consider the matter differently.

Consequently, I do not expect to reach a conclusion that Jesus Christ was raised by God (including by His own power, in trinitarian theology) from the dead; I'm provisionally expecting that this is even impossible to reach as a purely historical conclusion. I am not, on the other hand, provisionally expecting that it is impossible that Jesus was raised bodily from death by some other means: atheism just excludes theism being the cause. Technically, atheism doesn't even exclude supernatural causes, just not supernatural theistic causes. I might think that zero point energy is supernatural energy, substantially independent of natural reality and upon which natural reality depends for existence. But I wouldn't think the zero point energy was God. If I was a naturalistic atheist, then I'd be excluding supernatural causes, too, even if ultimately still atheistic. But for purposes of this extended exercise I'm acting as agnostic on the naturalism/supernaturalism question, with a majority expectation however for natural causation based on past experience to the best of my knowledge. Consequently I don't expect to conclude in favor of a supernatural cause for the shape of the data, even though I'm not philosophically ruling that out as a prior metaphysical conclusion.

In one sense I haven't gotten very far yet: I haven't even strictly concluded I would believe Jesus was executed on a cross yet, although I've gotten close. (I've even most recently argued that, ironically, sceptical arguments about Paul positively not referring to burial in a tomb, necessarily rely on at least implicitly accepting a crucifixion as historical background, even though the tomb burial is equally attested in the same material attesting the crucifixion. Passing by the topic that way, I'd be pretty close now to accepting that Jesus was crucified as a historical fact.) But in another sense I've already decided in favor of a number of topics, and passing close to accepting a number of others (some of which will likely soon feature in future stages of the series -- I've been working on it for fifteen years or more now, so I move pretty slowly.)

Here then is a quick linkset to my sections and chapters of this series so far, with some brief descriptions.

SECTION ONE: A CURIOUS KEY TO A HISTORICAL JESUS
------------------------------------------------

Key evidence? -- introduces the topic with the story of the guards' report toward the end of GosMatt, and considers an exhaustive number of options for its existence including total fabrication by the GosMatt author.

A pauce list of possibilities -- from the one small conclusion of historical accuracy (a certain prevalent number of Jews were saying to GosMatt's intended audience, "the disciples stole the body,") further implications and sceptical options are considered.

A shape of results, and other shapes -- collating implications of the analysis so far, including the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth and the missing body of Jesus.

They ain't got no body -- some implications of the guards.

No body knows the trouble they seen -- more implications of the guards.

The backhanded strength of a weak story -- if a weak story is still being used against GosMatt's audience, what does that imply?

Hints of a particular person and place -- putting various things together so far, someone rather like Joseph of Arimathea (by function and capabilities anyway) and something very much like a tomb emerge.

So why a theft? -- this particular detail of the opposition provides further implications (of various strengths).

Some body, give us a summary! -- at least 40 historical conclusions from the Key, even starting from extreme scepticism. (The number was accidental.)

An appendix considering an alternate theory of fabrication rounds -- what if both sides had been inventing details against each other, never corrected on either side by any actual facts, and without contact with each other?

Why didn't the Sanhedrin produce a fake body of Jesus? -- an interesting side effect to the preceding argument, in solving a subtle strategic problem for historical body disappearance theories.


SECTION TWO: DID GOSMARK'S AUTHOR POSSIBLY INVENT THE EMPTY TOMB? (NOPE.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
A sepulchral no -- introducing the topic, acknowledging its validity as a question (not metaphysically impossible or nonsense), and a quick number zero answer I won't be using. Also discussion of Crossan's novel theory (of the tomb, and Jesus rising from the tomb, being invented long before GosMark, as a poetic figure, later mistaken for history.)

If it waddles like a tomb and quacks like a tomb... -- importing relevant conclusions from the previous section: i.e. something tomb-like from which Jesus' body disappears, substantially predates GosMark.

A flock of tombs -- the tomb is accepted immediately without trace of authoritative competition, which has implications for historicity and against literary invention not often noticed.

Love a tomb -- inventing the women as the first allies to find the tomb empty, doesn't help the tomb as a literary invention.

Oblivion-gushing does not help -- problems with inventing the rejection of the women, and with inventing the women being wrong about a mundane explanation, for an invented tomb theory.

Special authoritative snowflakes shattering on a tomb -- the (near-)total disassociation of the subsequent Christian authorities from the tomb, is pretty much fatal for an invented tomb.

Disappearing acts of the tomb -- the example of the canonical Acts of the Apostles, over-against arguments from silence about lack of explicitly mentioning a tomb in various sources. Plus implications of Paul in Acts, if the author is otherwise concluded to be generally trustworthy in reporting mundane historical data.

Like one untimely born -- the irony of trying to count Paul's terminology in 1 Cor 15 explicitly against a tomb burial: such an argument against expecting a tomb burial, relies totally (if implicitly) on a historical claim which shows up joined repeatedly and explicitly to a historical tomb burial.


Were the Canonical NT Authors Bowing to Popular Pagan Converts? Part 1 and Part 2 -- a sidebar, between sections in effect, which explains why, even as an atheist, I'd be vastly sceptical of theories of pagan syncretism to explain content of historical claims about Jesus.

I expect to add to this linkset whenever I get around to adding more series entries (or perhaps relevant side posts).

Comments

Jason Pratt said…
Just registering for comment tracking.
Anonymous said…
I had a read of part #2. Here is a scenario that seems likely to me, and as far as I can tell you do not consider (but I must admit, I am not sure I get what #6 and #7 are exactly):

Jesus was real, and was know to be real to the Jews of the time that Matthew was written. The story of the Empty Tomb was already circulating by then, as Mark had already been written, and so the Jews (some at least) also knew that the Christians were claiming an Empty Tomb as part of their apologetic. Sometime between Mark and Matthew some Jews were saying that the disciples had stolen the body (so far, I do not think any of this is particularly contentious). In response to the Jews, the author of Matthew made up the guards on the tomb.

Can you tell me why you would reject such a scenario?

Pix
Joe Hinman said…
the guard attested to by a second impediment tradition that is earlier than Mat and does not follow Mat. but thyey have the sane events but the earlier one (GPete) follows Psalms for it;s order.
Joe Hinman said…
Because both guard traditions follow different sources for the framing device we can assume they are not necessarily both coning from the same source, but refer to the same event.
Jason Pratt said…
Meta is saying GosPete is, or rather via the hypothetical Cross Gospel includes, a second independent tradition about their existence. I don't know that that answers your question, Pix, about the GosMatt author inventing the guards in reply to Jewish opponents in contact with his group claiming the disciples stole the body -- at best it would only seem to put the theory for inventing the tomb guards back at another stage for no gain. (Which is exactly how Crossan uses the hypothetical Cross Gospel, although for reasons entirely different than answering Jewish assertions about disciples stealing the body.) But then, I'm not a fan of the Cross Gospel thesis, so I wouldn't appeal to it anyway.

More on my actual answer in a minute.

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
Pix,

You're talking about a variation of Proposition #6 or #7 (of chp 2 of sec 1 in that linkset). I can't tell from your theory yet which version.

Are the Jewish opponents making use of their own independent knowledge of Jesus in making the reply that the disciples stole the body? If not then it's a version of Prop #6: Matt competes with this charge by inventing a story of guards who did not exist; taking (newly) invented orders to guard a tomb (which the Jews on this theory have no independent knowledge about and so might as well regard as not existing either); who witnessed the (newly) invented breaking of the non-existent seal and the non-existent rolling of (might as well be, for these Jews) the non-existent stone; and who, when making their (newly) invented report, were bribed by (existent!) Sanhedrin officials with non-existent money to spread a (newly) invented story (newly invented by our writer, remember) about how they fell asleep at their non-existent posts.

He won't in the case of Prop #6 (unlike the similar Prop #5) be inventing details that have absolutely no bearing on anything at hand; but why wouldn't his Jewish opponents, in their jockeying with Matt's group, start laughing riotously and crow, "What guards? We never said anything about getting this idea from guards, we never heard one word from you or anyone else about guards before! You literally made that up right this moment! This is the type of man you are following, guys: someone who very obviously makes up new claims on the spot to get himself out of a problem! Losers! By the way, you're all going to die as freaking blasphemers against God, enjoy boiling in semen."


Prop #7 would be similar, except while making use of their own independent knowledge about Jesus, the Jews (as per your theory) never say anything about guards or anything like that. Wouldn't this be an even worse failure by contrast? -- now the Jews can appeal from the position of their own independent verification of some details, against Matthew very obviously just making up things out of nowhere, specifically the claim that the Jews were getting this idea from testimony of previously non-existent guards!


The key point here isn't that Matthew is only making up a story of guards guarding the tomb. It's that Matthew is, per this theory, inventing a story of his Jewish opponents getting the idea of disciples stealing the body from the testimony of tomb guards, and introducing both this and the guards after however-so-long the empty tomb story has been used so far. It would be exponentially-of-expontentially worse than me replying that you got your theory from President Trump sending Secret Service agents to give you this theory which they came up with while they were asleep, which is why you believe it!

Your theory necessarily involves the GosMatt author (as I put it in that chapter) exposing himself to his own target audience as a liar who fabricates fantasies that don't even have proper connection to his current historical situation and pressures. And then GosMatt subsequently becomes the most popular of the Gospel accounts anyway. That situation doesn't lead plausibly to that result.
Jason Pratt said…
If the Jews don't bring up guards as an authoritative reason for their charge about the disciples stealing the body, then there is no reason for Matt to invent that as an explanation for their charge. But then we have no plausible way to get to the actual (not theoretical) shape of the data.

But let's try another variant: the Jews say, on no independent information of their own, that the disciples stole the body. Matthew doesn't have to say anything other than, "you're just making that up out of nowhere just now." (Maybe adding tradition along the line that the disciples were a bunch of losers who didn't even find the body gone, and who didn't believe the women who did find it. Making up embarrassing claims which undermine his authority, out of plot-nowhere, doesn't help him, or the other authors either: this would have to be material already solidly established and accepted on his side at least, that he can point back to for sourcing.)

"Oh, no, we have independent tradition that they stole the body, we heard that long ago!"

"Right, and you're just bringing it up now. Fine, and who did you hear it from?"

"Well, not from guards at the tomb..."

"HAH, YES YOU DID, YOU HEARD IT FROM GUARDS AT THE TOMB!" Matthew crows, and instantly commits plausibility suicide.

Duh?

No, they reply, "We heard it from the tomb guards, who testified the disciples stole the body."

The obvious retort from Christians who have never heard of guards at the tomb before is, "You never mentioned tomb guards before; we've never heard of tomb guards before; you're just making that up to try to make your charge of body theft sound better! And what dumbass failure guards stand there and let disciples steal a body?! Or are you saying the treacherous, lying guards who can't be trusted told you they let the disciples steal the body?"

The plausible path, and I think the only plausible path, to the shape of the actual data, is that both sides agreed from independent tradition that there were guards at the tomb who personally testified that the disciples stole the body when they all fell asleep at the same time -- a weak explanation that would, naturally, not get trotted out by the anti-Christians very often, and so would only be bothered with at all if it had once had some hugely authoritative support which had never strictly been withdrawn.

What might be plausibly new is GosMatt's explanation of bribery and protection from threat, even if that's an educated guess under the circumstances. But that's irrelevant for our purposes.

JRP
Joe Hinman said…
how could the author of Matt have created the guards when the presence of guards in GPete proves they were present in Passion narrative written decades before Matt?
Anonymous said…
We do not know what was originally in Peter, as we only have one manuscript from centuries later. We do know these texts had material added to them, such as the ending of Mark and the last chapter of John, and the anti-Semitism in Peter argues that there was later revision.

It therefore seems entirely possible that the guards in Peter were a later addition, and were based, if loosely, on the account in Matthew.

Indeed, the account in Peter is rather more comprehensive than that in Matthew. Given how Matthew used virtually all of Mark, it would be strange that the author chose to omit so many details from Peter. A more likely scenario, in my opinion, is that a later redactor added the guards to Peter, and did so to shore up the holes in Matthew's account.

If Matthew is to be believed, the guards and the priests know Jesus is resurrected (according to Peter they had an excellent view of the resurrection), saw dead saints walking around, and experienced an earthquake, and yet this was not enough to convince them of Christianity, which apparently would earn the life etyernal, and instead the guards took brides which was punishable by death! I think that stretches credability.

Pix
Jason Pratt said…
Not that we need reference to a hypothetical early 1st-century source extrapolated from a text composed in the late 2nd / early 3rd century (at the earliest), massively exaggerated for poetic effect to the point that it looks fictional even in its putative 1st century form. But, sure, hyper-sceptics love GosPete, or think they do, or used to think they do, so if they insist on it, there's something that sort of seems like evidence of the guards existing purely as a story function before GosMatt.

But I'm not going to appeal to it. For reasons. {g}

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
Pix,

Actually, the GosMatt details are less than you're making out. He only says the guards saw the angel descend and the stone roll away (and implicitly felt the earthquake -- an earthquake throwing a stone out of place, or even throwing ossuaries out of tombs, isn't naturally implausible). He flashforwarded back in 27:53 to the resurrected saints appearing to many after Jesus' resurrection, but didn't say they appeared to the guards or the Sanhedrin.

More to the point, I'm not appealing to any of that in the argument. Not even strictly that the guards saw something screwy, other than that _something_ happened while they were around which convinced them to check on the body and discover that it had gone missing; after which for at least a brief time (from the data I expect only a brief time) they gave public, shaming testimony that they had failed in their duty so that the disciples had stolen the body while they were all asleep -- a weak explanation that must have been backed, at least briefly, by strong Jewish authority, even if that support was quietly and quickly dropped.

Notice: I'm not even arguing explicitly for a tomb from the shared details of the Key polemic! (Although the data points to something-that-might-as-well-have-been-a-tomb.)

JRP
Anonymous said…
Just to be clear, in my scenario the Jews know Jesus existed and was considered a religious leader. When Jesus was crucified they did not know anyone thought he was supposed to return (and neither did his disciples!), but by the time Matthew was written, they knew this was what the Christians claimed. Matthew was the first the Jews heard about the guards, but by the time Matthew was written, Jews were saying the body had been stolen.

JP: ... why wouldn't his Jewish opponents, in their jockeying with Matt's group, start laughing riotously and crow, "What guards? We never said anything about getting this idea from guards, we never heard one word from you or anyone else about guards before! You literally made that up right this moment! ...

The Gospel was liklely written by a community (I am sure Joe has written about this). Maybe one person scribed it, but it reflects the beliefs of te community, and the idea of the guards appeared and flourished in that community. It would not have been a retort to the Jews at first, but a way to counter doubt wihin their own ranks.

The point here is this is not an exchange like we are having, with one person claiming, the other counter-claiming, back and forth. These are ideas that are appearing in a community and evolving and getting stronger, before going into the wild, as it were.

JP: It's that Matthew is, per this theory, inventing a story of his Jewish opponents getting the idea of disciples stealing the body from the testimony of tomb guards, and introducing both this and the guards after however-so-long the empty tomb story has been used so far.

No, it is not that. The Jews presumably were saying the body was stolen. Matthew did not make that up.

JP: Your theory necessarily involves the GosMatt author (as I put it in that chapter) exposing himself to his own target audience as a liar who fabricates fantasies that don't even have proper connection to his current historical situation and pressures.

Not so, because the Gospel is the work of the community. The target audience is also the author. It is a fabrication that appeared in the community and managed to get established in the folklore, and then in the text. Like the earthquake and the dead saints walking around. Or were these events so insignifcant they got missed by the other authors?

Pix
Jason Pratt said…
With a death in my brother's family this morning, which for various reasons will also make the family business more busy for me specifically (and the spring construction schedule seems to be picking up as well, so magnifying that), I probably won't have time or energy to post for some days or even a few weeks.

Guests and fellow Cadrists are welcome to continue in the comments as you think best, of course. I have appreciated the recent discussions so far, and once things calm down I may catch up on them again (although by then I may not try to restart any conversations).

JRP
Anonymous said…
Thought it had gone a bit quiet. Sorry to hear about your loss; my aunt passed away a couple of months ago, so you have my syumpathies (and we are still sorting out her affairs).

Pix
im-skeptical said…
The whole story of the guards at the tomb seems contrived and illogical.

First of all, none of the other gospels mention this. But in Matthew, they are a key part of the resurrection account. Why this significant discrepancy? Could it be that the author(s) of Matthew put their own twist on the story? Since we are considering all the possibilities from a skeptical perspective, why don't we put that on the table? Naw, it just couldn't have happened that way, could it?

Then, why in the world would the Roman authorities agree to do this? If there was a concern that the Christian claims might be true, and they wanted to suppress the rise of this new religion, it would make sense for them to take decisive steps: don't allow this Jesus the dignity of a proper burial and then further honor his body by placing guards at the tomb. That's ridiculous. Dispose of the body securely. Make sure it is un-recoverable (perhaps by burning). And don't give the Christians a known burial site the would surely become a venerated shrine. (Why didn't that happen, anyway?)

And if they did decide to post guards, why wait a day to do it? The body could easily have been taken during that time. These Roman authorities must have been grossly incompetent.

And another puzzling thing. If the guards witnessed the resurrection, wouldn't it make sense that they become Christians themselves? I think if I actually saw such a thing, much my skepticism would be satisfied by direct evidence. But, no. The guards instead participated in a cover-up of the whole thing.

As a skeptic examining these stories, I can't so easily dismiss all these things that just don't make sense. But then, I'm not a Christian.

Joe Hinman said…
The whole story of the guards at the tomb seems contrived and illogical.

First of all, none of the other gospels mention this. But in Matthew, they are a key part of the resurrection account. Why this significant discrepancy? Could it be that the author(s) of Matthew put their own twist on the story? Since we are considering all the possibilities from a skeptical perspective, why don't we put that on the table? Naw, it just couldn't have happened that way, could it?

Brown identified the guard tradition imn GPete as older than Matthew and independent of the Synoptic. Crosson and Koester both understand GPete as contrarianism PMPN and thus that early tradition of guards is part of the oldest strata of the story. Guards probably fell out of the story because the Jews had stopped saying the body was stolen. Mark left then out.Matt included them because Mark didn't and Luke left them out because they were no longer a crucial issue.

Then, why in the world would the Roman authorities agree to do this? If there was a concern that the Christian claims might be true, and they wanted to suppress the rise of this new religion, it would make sense for them to take decisive steps: don't allow this Jesus the dignity of a proper burial and then further honor his body by placing guards at the tomb. That's ridiculous. Dispose of the body securely.

They could not do that because it profane the Passover and trigger the major upraising that came in 64, that were trying to avoid. It was Roman policy to cooperate with the local religions. you really need to read Death of the Messiah by Ray Brown.



Make sure it is un-recoverable (perhaps by burning). And don't give the Christians a known burial site the would surely become a venerated shrine. (Why didn't that happen, anyway?)

It was actually quite a big emergency to get him burred in time, they had to do it before the sun went down.

And if they did decide to post guards, why wait a day to do it? The body could easily have been taken during that time. These Roman authorities must have been grossly incompetent.

The Romans didn't decide to, they were going along with the request of the Sanhedrin. There had to be time for the request to be made.It had to occur to someone it was an issue.

And another puzzling thing. If the guards witnessed the resurrection, wouldn't it make sense that they become Christians themselves? I think if I actually saw such a thing, much my skepticism would be satisfied by direct evidence. But, no. The guards instead participated in a cover-up of the whole thing.

They probably did, Roman soldiers in Palestine were doing short tours and then back to home base in Ostia,Norther Italy. They may have been out of there before anyone had a chance to find out ab out them, Besides If I'm right they may have been killed except I think Matt says the Jews interceded for them.

As a skeptic examining these stories, I can't so easily dismiss all these things that just don't make sense. But then, I'm not a Christian.

If you weren't so afraid to read things with which you disagree, you really need to read Death of the Messiah.


4/21/2017 10:03:00 AM Delete
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Anonymous said…
JH: Brown identified the guard tradition imn GPete as older than Matthew and independent of the Synoptic. Crosson and Koester both understand GPete as contrarianism PMPN and thus that early tradition of guards is part of the oldest strata of the story. Guards probably fell out of the story because the Jews had stopped saying the body was stolen. Mark left then out.Matt included them because Mark didn't and Luke left them out because they were no longer a crucial issue.

Can you quote Brown on this? I appreciate Peter was early, but on what basis does Brown claim that the guards were in the original version, pre-Matthew?

JH: They could not do that because it profane the Passover and trigger the major upraising that came in 64, that were trying to avoid. It was Roman policy to cooperate with the local religions. you really need to read Death of the Messiah by Ray Brown.

Jesus was crucified for treason by the Romans because of his claim to be King of the Jews. If the Romans wanted to suppress a major uprising, they would have ensured the body was quietly disposed of. Letting a Jew take the body to a fancy tomb were it could potentially be venerated as a martyr makes zero sense for the Romans.

JH: It was actually quite a big emergency to get him burred in time, they had to do it before the sun went down.

So rather than dump the body in the grave for criminals, which would be near to the site of crucifixion, they dragged it all the way to this rich man's tomb which would presumably be as far from that as possible. Again, not making much sense.

JH: The Romans didn't decide to, they were going along with the request of the Sanhedrin. There had to be time for the request to be made.It had to occur to someone it was an issue.

In which time the disciples had plenty of time to steal the body. Matthew added the story of the guards, but he was obliged to have them posted the next day, because of the timing involved (Jesus getting taken down quickly before the sabbath). This loop hole was later clsed up by the redactor of Peter, who said the resurrection itself was witnessed by the guards.

Peter also has the fanciful addition of Jesus being buried with the cross!

Pix
im-skeptical said…
They could not do that because it profane the Passover and trigger the major upraising that came in 64, that were trying to avoid. It was Roman policy to cooperate with the local religions. you really need to read Death of the Messiah by Ray Brown. ... It was actually quite a big emergency to get him burred in time, they had to do it before the sun went down.

Wait a minute. Jesus was a threat that they needed to put down. With the support of the Jews, they subjected him to the most severe humiliation and punishment because they wanted to suppress the movement that they saw as a danger. So then, they should violate their own practices and treat his body with kid gloves and give him a level of respect that they didn't accord to other criminals, and this was supposedly to prevent an uprising decades later by the same people who wanted him tortured and killed in the first place? Sorry, Joe, but this is complete nonsense. I don't buy any of it.

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