Saturday, May 23, 2009

Who's in charge, here? (John 19)

Reza Aslan, American Iranian Muslim and thoughtful writer, knows where the bodies are buried. His book How to Win A Cosmic War has unkind things to say about 20th century Jihadis, 11th century Crusaders, and first century Zeolots. The Zealots were a particularly nasty and thuggish group, who felt they had carte blanche[1] to assassinate anyone they viewed as a collaborator with the Roman occupiers.[2] The folks in power in Palestine were determined to maintain civil order, no matter who they had to throw under the bus[3]. The Zealots were just as passionately committed to civil disorder, since they viewed the rulers as idols for destruction. Then, there's the guy who's trying to stay on top of the situation, trick-riding on several wild horses, Pontius Pilate. Let's look into the trial of Jesus again:
Joh 19:10 Pilatus, "Benimle konuşmayacak mısın?" dedi. "Seni salıvermeye de, çarmıha germeye de yetkim olduğunu bilmiyor musun?"
Joh 19:11 İsa, "Sana gökten verilmeseydi, benim üzerimde hiçbir yetkin olmazdı" diye karşılık verdi. "Bu nedenle beni sana teslim edenin günahı daha büyüktür."
Joh 19:12 Bunun üzerine Pilatus İsa'yı salıvermek istedi. Ama Yahudiler, "Bu adamı salıverirsen, Sezar'ın dostu değilsin!" diye bağrıştılar. "Kral olduğunu ileri süren herkes Sezar'a karşı gelmiş olur."
Joh 19:13 Pilatus bu sözleri işitince İsa'yı dışarı çıkardı. Taş Döşeme İbranice'de* Gabbata denilen yerde yargı kürsüsüne oturdu.
Joh 19:14 Fısıh Bayramı'na* Hazırlık Günü'ydü. Saat on iki sularıydı. Pilatus Yahudiler'e, "İşte, sizin Kralınız!" dedi.
Joh 19:15 Onlar, "Yok et O'nu! Yok et, çarmıha ger!" diye bağrıştılar. Pilatus, "Kralınızı mı çarmıha gereyim?" diye sordu. Başkâhinler, "Sezar'dan başka kralımız yok!" karşılığını verdiler.
Let's look at two sentences:
  • Bu adamı salıverirsen, Sezar'ın dostu değilsin! -- This / man / if you release, / of Caesar / a friend / you are not!
  • Sezar'dan başka kralımız yok! -- than Caesar / other / our king / there is not!
The rulers of Israel knew which side their bread was buttered on. [4] Canadians describe their relationship with the United States as "being in bed with an elephant." Superpower problems tend to become everyone else's problems. "If the US sneezes, the world catches pneumonia." Rome was the power in power, and, as the rulers of Israel hastened to remind Pilate, power trumps justice.


[1] Carte blanche (French: white paper) refers to the idea that one has permission to do anything necessary to achieve a stated goal.

[2] Our Lord's twelve disciples included one named Philip, after the fther of the Greek guy who'd subjugated Israel several centuries earlier, and imposed Hellenic culture upon them. Another, Simon, was a Zealot. One who was apparenty at home in the pagan culture, and one who was its sworn enemy.

[3] American version of the Russian idiom "to throw to the wolves."

[4] Idiomatic expression -- cynical assertion that the party described knows how to further his own interests, regardless of personal honor or other loyalties.

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