Does History Tell us that Jesus Predicted His Own Death?

The clear answer is "Yes," and the rationale is provided in a new article hosted at From the conclusion:

The passion predictions of Jesus' death and/or subsequent vindication are very well attested throughout the Gospel Tradition. They are found in several well-attested Scriptural allusions made by Jesus. They are found in cryptic sayings such as in the saying of the Temple being destroyed and raised within 3 days as well as in the saying about the Sign of Jonah. They are found in one of Jesus' parables (i.e. that of the Wicked Tenants) and other riddles. They are found within the context of memorable historical events like the Last Supper. And finally, they are found in sayings which detail the events to come in quite explicit terms (i.e. Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34 and par.). We have found that there is a very substantial body of evidence pointing to the authenticity of most (if not all) of these predictions. Moreover, we have shown in the opening section of this article that there is sufficient evidence from contemporary Judaism that supports Jesus' mode of thinking regarding an atoning death, and that there exists a reasonable possibility that the belief in a suffering Messiah predates Christianity. There can be no doubt then that Jesus expected to die and believed that his death would have great eschatological import.


Tenax said…

This is very interesting. I remember Ehrman noting that Jesus' prediction that not one stone would be left on another in the temple an unlikely creative addition: the prophecy was not fulfilled precisely, though metaphorically, perhaps; of course the temple was destroyed.

I wonder if Jesus was also talking about the entire sacrifical system which ended in the Roman War and has never resumed; in more orthodox terms, the end of the covenant itself?

I want to know more about messianic expectations during Jesus' life (I'm figuring Wright's series will provide this and his first book is next on my purchase list for summer) because reading the Tanakh for the first surely isn't clear that the Messiah must die. The servant atones, yes, and suffers vicariously for others, but the coming King, the heir to David, is so often described in victorious terms. He will rule the world from Jerusalem, destroy the enemies of God and reunite the tribes of Israel, not be executed as a criminal.

When John says 'behold the Lamb of God' it's the first time I think that idea surfaces in the scripture at least: here is an individual that will die for the sins of all humanity.

All intriguing. Maybe I'll check out the tektonics article.

As much as I get overwhelmed by all the details of faith in the modern world, the difficulties of the Tanakh (and they are many), and sometimes by the perspective of the atheists, our faith, truly, is an astonishing tapestry.

As always, I dig your stuff.
Layman said…

Great to see you drop by.

I agree that the model of Jesus does not seem to fit initial expectations of what the Jewish people would have expected in a Messiah. Which is one reason I am so convinced the story is true. If they were going to invent a messianic figure, or fit an existing man into the messianic expectations of the day, the story of Jesus is not what we would have expected. That they nevertheless maintained that Jesus was the Messiah cries out for explanationa, and I have yet to hear a better one than their belief in Jesus' resurrection.

NT Wright's books are excellent. I actually prefer them in reverse order myself.

All the best,


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