“The story is most powerful when incorporating details of the time period. Even readers familiar with Judas’ life may not grasp the finer differences among the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes or the threat of revolution apparent at the time. Likewise, information about the intersection of Roman and local powers provides insight into how a figure like Jesus, so seemingly innocuous to the mighty Roman Empire (particularly when compared with the violent Zealots), could be put to death in such a grisly way. Period particulars augment this multilayered portrayal of Judas.”
San Francisco Review of Books
“As in Daniel’s other novels Judas Son of Simon is history shared and the early stages of Christianity explored in a manner that makes them irresistibly fascinating…Daniel’s gift for storytelling is fully unleashed here as he re-writes stories we have all learned and in doing so makes them so very much more real and tenable. Another very fine book from this young and sophisticated religious historian.”
This photo is of a first-century Judean tomb, like the one Jesus would have been placed in. Notice how low the entrance is, little more than three-feet high; and the large stone to block the entrance. (Part of the outside wall to the tomb has collapsed.)
Matthew 27 says, Joseph (of Arimathea) took the body (Jesus’) and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.
If an Israelite family could afford a family tomb, it was a cave hewn out of the rock. A rock bench would be there on which the body was placed. And the body would be wrapped in a shroud, but was otherwise uncovered.
Tombs were visited and watched for three days by family members and friends. On the third day after death, the body was examined.
At this point, the body would be treated by the women of the family with oils and perfumes.
After visiting the tomb on the third day the body was then left for a year, by which time it had decomposed. The bones were then collected and placed in an ossuary, a ‘bone box’.
One of the great archeological finds of recent times was discovery of Caiaphas’ tomb. It was accidently found by a construction workers almost 30 years ago.
Inside the tomb archeologists found several ossuaries (bone boxes). On one of the ossuaries was written in Aramaic, “Caiaphas,” and on another was written, “Joseph Bar Caiaphas.”
We know from the ancient Jewish/Roman historian, Flavius Josephus, that Joseph Bar Caiaphas is the Caiaphas mentioned in the New Testament as the high priest who presided over Jesus’ trial and death.
Inside the ornate bone box marked “Joseph Bar Caiaphas” the bones of a sixty-year-old male and several other family members were placed.
On this day after Good Friday, we have Caiaphas’ bones who rotted inside his tomb; but for Jesus, we have the empty tomb of Easter.
What day and year was Jesus crucified? The following is part of Appendix 1 of my book, Judas Son of Simon.
Luke 3:1-2 provides numerous historical references to the religious and political leaders during John’s and Jesus’ ministries. It says, “in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesars’ reign, when Pontius Pilate was ruler of Judea, Herod (Antipas Bar-Herod) was Tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip (Philip Bar-Herod) Tetrarch of Iturea…while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John.”
The fifteenth year of Tiberius’ reign – circa 28AD
Pontius Pilate – Prefect of Judea, 26-36AD
Antipas Bar-Herod – Tetrarch of Galilee/Perea 4BC-39AD
Philip Bar-Herod – Tetrarch of Iturea, 4BC-34AD
Joseph Bar-Caiaphas – High Priest, 18-36AD
Annas Bar-Seth – High Priest, 6-15AD. Annas continued as the power behind succeeding High Priests for decades. Caiaphas was his son-in-law, and five of Annas’ sons served as High Priest.
So, from Luke 3 we know that John’s and Jesus’ ministries took place between 26 and 34AD.
Luke 3:23 says, “Jesus was about 30-years old when he began his ministry.” – circa 26-28AD.
John 2:20 says, “It has taken us 46-years to build this temple.” Herod began to rebuild the Temple circa 18-19BC. Therefore, John 2:20 takes place circa 28AD
The Gospel of John records three Passovers during Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptizer and Jesus both appear to have begun their ministries circa 27-28AD. Jesus’ baptism by John likely took place in January of 28AD.
During Pontius Pilate’s term of office as Prefect of Judea, there were only two years when Passover fell on a Sabbath – the years 30 and 32AD. So, Jesus’ crucifixion appears to have occurred on one of these two dates. Given the overall timeline, it is most likely that Jesus was crucified on April 7, 30AD.
This is “The Mona Lisa of Galilee” a 2000-year old floor mosaic, called this because of the artist’s skill in capturing the subject’s beauty. It is located in Sepphoris. During Jesus’ childhood, Sepphoris was Galilee’s capital and largest city. Many mistakenly think Jesus grew up in a tiny rural village. But Nazareth was a suburb or Sepphoris, only three miles away. During Jesus’ childhood, Sepphoris was undergoing a tremendous building project. This is likely one of the main reasons Joseph and Mary moved their family to area. Sepphoris had plenty of employment for Joseph. Joseph and Jesus were not “carpenters,” as has been mistranslated. The correct translation is “builder.” Even the word “mason” would be a more accurate than “carpenter.” The Greek word used in the New Testament for Joseph and Jesus is “tekton”. From it we get our English words “technician” and “architect (meaning head builder)”. There is little wood in Israel, and homes are not built from wood. In Galilee, homes and other buildings were built of stone, such as black basalt. Herod Antipas rebuilt Galilee’s capital, Sepphoris, in Greco-Roman style. It is likely Joseph, and perhaps even Jesus, worked as builders in Sepphoris. Although I have little evidence to back it up, I wonder if Joseph, Jesus, and family, could have specialized in the construction of synagogues. We also have indications of Jesus’ familiarity with theatre in Sepphoris, because he frequently used the Greek word “hypokrites” meaning actor. In Greco-Roman theatre, the actors wore masks, hiding their faces. They were literally two-faced. So, when Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, he was calling them actors, hiding their true selves behind a false façade.
Jerash (known in the Jesus’ time as Gerasa) – One of the Greco-Roman cities of the Decapolis (meaning “ten-cities,” but in Jesus’ day there were some 18 cities). In Jesus’ day Gerasa was approximately the same population as Jerusalem. But apart from the size and grandeur of the Jerusalem Temple, Gerasa was more impressive architecturally. Josephus tells us that Scythopolis (Beth-Shean) was the largest city of the Decapolis, and was less than 25 miles from Nazareth. In Jesus’ day, the contrast between Galilean towns, constructed of black basalt, homes having roofs of mud and sticks, would have been a striking contrast to the beauty and allure of the nearby Greco-Roman cities, with their theatres, athletic arenas, running water, indoor toilets, bathhouses, gymnasiums, beautiful streets, public buildings, and fleshly pleasures. Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son was a common problem for Israelite families, where Jewish boys were seduced away from Judaism and their families by the majesty and temptations that the pagan world offered. To illustrate this – when Jerusalem fell to the Roman legions and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, it was a Jew who was second in command under Titus, Tiberius Julius Alexander, the Alexandrian Jew, was the embodiment of a Jewish prodigal.
The Nazis began the mass arrests of French Jews in 1942. Many Jews came to Father Dimitri Klepinin asking him for baptismal certificates, to avoid being deported and sent to the Nazi death camps. Father Dimitri believed his Christian Faith demanded that he act saying, “I think the good Christ would give me that paper if I were in their place. So I must do it… If a man surprised by a storm takes shelter in a church, do I have the right to close the door?”
In February, 1943 he Father Dimitri was interrogated by a German Gestapo officer named Hoffman.
Hoffman: “If we release you, will you promise never again to aid Jews?”
Father Dimitri: “I can say no such thing. I am a Christian, and must act as I must.”
Hoffman: (striking the priest across the face he screamed) “Jew lover! How dare you talk of those pigs as being a Christian duty!”
Father Dmitri: (raising the Cross from around his neck) “Do you know this Jew?”
Father Dimitri was then sent to a prison camp. He was abused and ridiculed by the guards who shoved him shouting, “Jew! Jew!” In response Dimitri said, “Remember that Jesus Christ had to bear much greater humiliations.”
A year later, Father Dimitri was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, in Germany. His health broken, suffering from pneumonia, he died on February 9, 1944 and his body was burned in the Buchenwald crematorium.