This week’s churchpoasting is a continuation of this blog’s emergent theme that Jesus’ message was an inversion of the humanistic Luciferianism to which humans return as a default position.
MARK 15.16-32: THE CRUCIFIXION NARRATIVE AND THE ROMAN TRIUMPHAL PROCESSION
By Thomas E. Schmidt
Robert Gundry, in a new major commentary on Mark1, advances convincingly the thesis that the second Gospel is an extended apology for the cross. More specifically, Gundry argues that Mark portrays the passion of Christ as an aspect of his glory. This article intends to follow that thesis up an avenue not traveled in Gundry’s commentary – namely the Via Dolorosa, which, I will argue, replaces the Sacra Via of Rome and renders the passion a triumph in a quite literal sense. In other words, I will maintain that details of a particular segment of the crucifixion narrative (Mark 15.16-32) evoke a Roman triumphal procession, and that Mark designs this ‘anti-triumph’ to suggest that the seeming scandal of the cross is actually an exaltation of Christ. In this interpretation, many details of the crucifixion narrative that appear to be incidental are in fact important features in a parabolic drama which a late first-century Roman audience would be uniquely situated to comprehend.
An odd feature of Mark 15.16-32 is that, in contrast to an otherwise tightly worded passion narrative, this section includes a number of very specific details. These include the gathering of the whole guard, the requisition of a bystander to carry the cross, the translation of the name Golgotha, the offer and refusal of a drink, the specification of the time of crucifixion, and the numbering and placement of the bandits. It is not possible to account for all these details in terms of OT allusions. If, alternately, Mark is attempting to heighten the realism of his narrative, why to such an extent only here and why these particular details? I will argue that parallels between the crucifixion narrative and the Roman triumph supply a unifying scheme which best accounts for these details both individually and corporately.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRIUMPH
H. S. Versnel’s detailed monograph Triumphus3 explains how the Roman triumph evolved from Etruscan and Greek ceremonies calling for an epiphany of Dionysus, the dying and rising god. In the Athenian New Year festival Anthesteria, Dionysus, portrayed in costume by the king, was carried into the city in a formal procession which included a bull to be sacrificed. The king was a fitting representative of the anthropomorphic god because Dionysus was generally portrayed as the god who triumphs, especially over men. The procession culminated in a cry for the epiphany of the god (epia!l~£, triumpe in Latin4), the bull was sacrificed, and the king appeared as the god. It is noteworthy that several ancient cultures celebrated similar rites and tolerated the simultaneous presence of the bull and the king, who both represented the god.
In other words, Great Man worship. The emperor is worshiped as an avatar of the emergent tribal gestalt, i.e. a man-made God, made man, who overthrows the old order (sacrificing the sacred cow). You can probably see why the Nazis were interested in reviving the specifically Roman form of Zodiacism.
The connection between the triumphator and Jupiter8 is remarkable. The triumphal robe (ornatus louis), a garment of regal purple embroidered with gold, and the gold laurel wreath, were both taken from the statue of the god in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.9 The face of the triumphator was painted red in imitation of the same statue,10 The crowd cried triumpe, a call for the manifestation of the god.11 It is remarkable that these and other signs both of deity and of kingship were not recognized or acknowledged during the republic due to contemporary views of ‘political correctness’. The epiphanic nature of the triumph remained latent until the first century, as we will observe below.
Today’s metal selection is an old favorite.