Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mark 15 (a) -- beware the company you keep

We know that the leaders of Israel could initiate and did execute capital punishment by stoning. This was, after all, how Stephen, the first Christian martyr, died in Acts 7. Yet, stoning Jesus would not have suited their purposes. For some reason, they wanted the Romans to do their dirty work for them.[0] Perhaps, given the popularity Jesus had accrued in many parts of Israel, they wanted "plausible deniability."[1] Or, maybe they wanted to make a particularly gruesome example out of this threat to their hold on their political positions and popular power:
Mar 15:1 Sabah olunca başkâhinler, ileri gelenler, din bilginleri ve Yüksek Kurul'un* öteki üyeleri bir danışma toplantısı yaptıktan sonra İsa'yı bağladılar, götürüp Pilatus'a teslim ettiler.
Mar 15:2 Pilatus O'na, "Sen Yahudiler'in Kralı mısın?" diye sordu. İsa, "Söylediğin gibidir" yanıtını verdi.
Mar 15:3 Başkâhinler O'na karşı birçok suçlamada bulundular.
Mar 15:4 Pilatus O'na yeniden, "Hiç yanıt vermeyecek misin?" diye sordu. "Bak, seni ne çok şeyle suçluyorlar!"
Mar 15:5 Ama İsa artık yanıt vermiyordu. Pilatus buna şaştı.
An irritable military occupation governor is roused out of bed by the native rabble in the wee hours of the morning. He is not inclined to go along with their project. Just to make matters even more annoying, the prisoner is not cooperating in his own defense:
  • Hiç yanıt vermeyecek misin? --
  • Hiç -- no
  • yanıt -- answer
  • vermeyecek -- to give
  • misin? -- is there?
  • Bak, seni ne çok şeyle suçluyorlar! --
  • Bak, seni -- Behold, against you
  • ne çok -- how many
  • şeyle -- things
  • suçluyorlar! -- they accuse!
Pilate tries to throw several monkey wrenches into their project, including the tradition of releasing a prisoner. The rent-a-mob[2], however, will be satisfied with nothing less than the death of Jesus at Roman hands.

You need to be careful about choosing others as tools for your own evil purposes. Those whom you use may well turn against you at a later date -- as Israel found out the hard way 40 years later.


[0] There's a colorful Afrikaans proverb, Kommandeer jou eie hond en blaf self. Grab your own dog and bark. When I tried it on an Afrikaaner, though, she looked puzzled. "What did you just say? Was that German?" The perils of pretension, of trying to show off!

[1] This term appeared during the Reagan administration, I believe. If the President wants something illegal to happen, his underlings seek to insulate him from the consequences if the events come to light. They try to make it possible for the president to deny knowing of his staff's actions.

[2] This expression, coined by conservative pundits, refers to the parasites on the public payrolls, bureaucrats and welfare recipients, who can be produced when necessary to make noise in public places by advocating further growth in the public sector, further encroachments on private life, liberty, and property. They usually have suspiciously uniform signs, professionally printed, and chant simple-minded rote slogans. In a democracy, the rent-a-mob gives rapacious politicians "plausible deniability" -- "I was just giving the voters what they wanted."

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