According to Mark’s gospel, what was main issue dividing Jesus from the leaders of Israel?

There are four gospels in the New Testament, the shortest of the four, is the gospel of Mark.  In the gospel of Mark, the main issue dividing Christ from the Leaders of Israel,  was a form of envious fear; fear on behalf of the leaders.  The leaders of Israel possessed significant fear of the power and authority Christ had.  Christ rejected the commandments of men, but rather honored and reinforced the commandments of God.  Christ was one of the few individuals, this early in time, that successfully challenged, and threatened the power of the Israelite leaders, and this inspired both envy and fear among them.

Christ had authority over many things of which the leaders of Israel did not have power over. For instance, he had authority over sicknesses, diseases, and demons, he had authority over nature, he possessed the ability to walk on water, etc.  Christ had authority over things that humankind could not possibly imagine having authority over.  This made the Israelite officials fearful.

Because of Christ’s authority, he attracted large crowds of people, many of which who traveled great distance to see him.  The population began to recognize Christ as their leader, rather than the Israelite leaders.  The idea of the leaders losing their authority was a very daunting thought to them.

Christ had the ability to distribute this power, given to him by God the Father, to his disciples.  They were then sent out to perform miracles in Christ’s name, and spread his message.  In the mind of the leaders in the synagogue, Christ was expanding his authority, which rapidly became more of a threat to their own authority.  One of Christ’s main reasons for sending out his disciples was so that his message could be spread to the people in as many regions as possible.  The Israelite leaders saw the teaching’s of Christ as a threat to their society, rather than what it actually was; a purification of their society.

The accusations against him were made mainly because the Israelite leaders felt threatened by his authority.  Christ was undermining their law, with the law of God, and they could see that he was making a substantial impact on the population.  There were multiple efforts to turn him in, but many of them lacked validity.  Even Pontius Pilate could see no offense that was enough to condemn him to persecution for.  In Mark 15:10, the author writes, referring to Pilate, “For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over.”

He called thousands of people to repentance and renewed the mosaic laws which they had practiced for ages, specifically the law of divorce.  Again, this inspires fear in the leaders of Israel.  Christ had the authority to renew laws given by Moses, only the Son of God could have power like this, and that contributed to the fear and envy amongst the officials.

There were several different issues that divided Jesus from the leaders of Israel, but the main one is the envious fear possessed by the Israelite leaders.

The importance of the miracles performed by Jesus in his early ministry, according to the book of Mark.

“How important were the miracles in the book’s account of Jesus’ early ministry?” 

In the New Testament, the book of Mark is one of the four gospels in the bible.  The gospel of Mark, is the earliest, and shortest of the four gospels, it provides account of Christ’s early ministry.  The word “gospel” actually means “good news” in the Greek language.  This was an account of the fulfillment Christ brought to the people in his early ministry; good news.

Miracles were very important in Christ’s ministry.  We see in the accounts of Mark, that Christ used miracles to communicate certain ideas.  The miracles performed, not only impacted the people of that era, but also the people who have read and studied the gospel ever since, and all the people who will read them in the future.  These miracles are eternal.

Christ performed these miracles through the power of God, he was not a wizard, but the son of God.  Christ mainly performed miracles of healing (physically and spiritually), this symbolizes not only the power of God, but also the mercy of God, and his will to heal.  Miracles were a reinforcement of the teachings of Christ.

He did not simply perform one solitary miracle.  Christ performed many miracles, and immediately developed a crowd of followers, he performed miracle after miracle and amazed his many followers.  Later on, he ordains 12 disciples, known today as the 12 apostles, who preach the teachings of Christ and perform miracles by healing the sick and exorcising demons from troubled individuals.  Miracles were a central aspect of Christ’s early ministry, they are the basis on which he built his followers.  Christ freed men who were possessed by demons, as well as relieving them of physical injury, but most importantly he performed the miracle of forgiving man’s sins.

The Pharisees, were very skeptical of this behavior, Christ knew this, and he provided logic that answered their questions.  On one occasion, Christ healed a man with an injured hand, on the Sabbath, which was perceived by the officials of the synagogue as work.  The Pharisees accused Christ of breaking the law that commands rest on the Sabbath. He explained to them that healing a man was more important than the law of resting on the Sabbath day.  Christ looked at the issue from a more realistic standpoint; the man was suffering, and he needed that hand to work  the other six days of the week.  Unlike the Pharisees, Christ emphasized the importance of healing the man as a higher priority than keeping the law to rest on the Sabbath.  The law was still important, but under the circumstances, healing was necessary.

Jesus did not perform these miracles in private, rather, he performed them in front of vast crowds of people.  There were many people who witnessed the power he exercised in performing these miracles.  This was emphasized, which persuades the reader that these events actually took place; they were not fantasies.  Miracles were a crucial aspect that reinforce the message of God by demonstrating the power of God.

He explained to them that healing a man was more important than the law of resting on the Sabbath day

 

What was Horace’s concept of personal ethical cause and effect?

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 BC, known in English as Horace, was a Roman poet during the time of Augustus.  He aspired to deliver his idea to the individual, in a way that it would stick mentally with the individual.  Horace’s basic concept of ethical cause and effect poses that the individual should remain in the golden mean.  He or she should expect no more, and no less than the healthy medium.

In his odes, Horace ultimately provides that the only major thing in life, is death.  Death comes to everyone.  With this inescapable end, all men will be equal during and after their last breath, and thus they are equal throughout their lives.  The amount of wealth an individual possesses will not mean anything after that person is deceased.  A person can work really hard to obtain riches, however, ultimately, this doesn’t change their position.  However, he points out that a person does not want to find himself in poverty, because this will lead to material suffering.  What is the solution? Live in the healthy medium; the golden mean.

Horace discusses this Stoic idea, and his reasoning behind it.  There is not a substantial need to overwork yourself to obtain excessive riches, however, you must avoid poverty.  In a nutshell, Horace says to live a balanced life, don’t allow less, and don’t do any more.  You should make an effort, but don’t go too far out of your way.

Another reason he provides for living in the “golden mean,” is simply that of avoiding disappointment.  If you make significant plans for yourself, you are enlarging the possibility of disappointment.  Why? Horace says the fates have plan for every individual.  The plans the fates have may or may not coordinate with those of the individual.  If individuals position themselves in a middle class type of lifestyle, that is adjustable, then they will not encounter major disappointment.

Horace provides the example of the ant.  She consumes what she gathers, and lays up only when she needs to.  He says that people should follow this example.  He poses the question, what is the point in having piles of gold? You cannot take your wealth with you when you die, it will be taken by friends and family, and your effort will be forgotten.  Throughout his writing, he points to the golden mean, not too hot, not too cold; just right.  In his first satire, he explains that individuals should not equate wealth with who they are; it does not define them.  Rather, they should seek a balanced lifestyle, in which they can imitate the life of the ant.

Death is certain, no one can escape it, but living in the golden mean as Horace says to do, according to Horace, will provide satisfaction.  Horace describes what we call today, the middle-class lifestyle.  You do not have to depend on other people, and other people do not have to depend on you.  This medium will give individuals a balance.  Ultimately, the middle-class will be equal to the wealthy, because both WILL encounter death.

What was Ovid’s view of the gods’ ethical performance?

Whether he actually believed it or not, Ovid made clear in the metamorphoses, his view of the gods’ ethical performance.  He, in detail, described the systematic ethical process of the gods, and how they inflicted positive or negative sanctions accordingly.

Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid (43 BC-AD 17) was a Roman poet active around the reign of Augustus.  In the year 8 AD, Augustus banished Ovid to the black sea region.  In 8 AD, Ovid wrote a series of poems which he called the metamorphoses.  In this series of poems he provide multiple examples that demonstrate his view of the gods’ ethical performance.

There is a basic theme, that is displayed in several different examples.  The ethical system of the gods is centered around pride.  Pride is the key factor for the gods when making ethical decisions.  The gods were prideful beings, and if an individual challenges a god’s pride, they will suffer extreme negative consequences.  However, if an individual respects gods’ pride, and is especially obedient to the will of particular gods, he will receive extreme positive sanctions.

In book 6, there is the story of “Rustics changed to frogs.”  Latona, a goddess, gave birth to two gods, and she suffered from extreme thirst.  She approached a pool, in which she would drink from.  However, upon entering the pool, she was told by the men there that she could not drink.  They, knowing she was a goddess, saw themselves as above the divine nature.  They felt prideful of themselves because they could prevent a divine being from satisfying her thirst.  After being constantly rejected, Latona prays.  The men surrounding the pool were then transformed into frogs.  These men would no longer have a relationship with the gods, and they could no longer impact the world.  The men were reduced to a simple object of nature.

The issue is pride.  When men get the sense that they are more powerful, or more wise than the gods; when they get too prideful, the gods in turn punish this.  There are multiple examples of this same ethical system, with different gods and slightly different situations.  If a man sees himself as equal to a divine figure, the given divine figure will reduce his position to an object of nature.  For instance, the men who were transformed to frogs could no longer have any influence in history.  They lost their position as men, by challenging the gods.

Ovid also demonstrates that it was possible for man to achieve divine nature.  For instance the goddess Venus, asked Jupiter for permission to let Aeneas become a god.  Jupiter gave her permission and she takes him to the river Numicius to cleanse him of his mortality.  This poses that within man there is a divine nature.  Mars asked Jupiter to turn Romulus into a god, and Jupiter complies to this request.  Ovid conveys in his poetry that it is possible for mankind to achieve divine nature.  To do this, individual must not speak out of turn, and must comply with the will of the gods.

Ovid’s view of the gods’ ethical performance regarding the imposition of negative sanctions was that the god’s pride could not be challenged.  If  the pride of the gods’ was challenged, at all, the challenger would be reduced to an object in nature.

 

Was there any basis for an optimistic view of Rome in Livy and Ovid?

Livy, or Titus Livius Patavinus (59 BC-17 AD), was  a Roman historian.  Among his works, he wrote a series of accounts on the history of Rome, which survey a period of about 700 years.  Unfortunately, most of these books did not survive.  Livy acknowledges the weaknesses in historical writing, and explains that it is the work of a poet and not the work of historian.  Without account on ancient events, the historian is required to either leave out detail, or fill in the blanks with what might have happened.  Livy’s writings on the history of early Rome provide us with insight, but we cannot rely on them literally.

Ovid, or Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17/18 AD), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus.  Ovid was banished to the black sea region by Augustus in 8 AD, around the same time in 8 AD, he wrote the metamorphoses. The metamorphoses tell the story from the creation, through to the death of Julius Caesar (44 BC).  The central  theme of the metamorphoses, is the change of the gods, and thus the world they were worshiped by.  Both of these writers start with the story of creation and provide background, and use this background when they later describe the events that brought  Rome to be an important part of western civilization

Livy and Ovid both provided accounts of the origins of Rome.  These two accounts are distinct, however, similarities are drawn between the two.  It is the same basic story of creation that we are given by the Greek writer Hesiod in Theogony.  They are slightly different, but it’s the same general story line.  Following the story of creation, the stories follow different paths, but they both include the idea of the corruption of mankind.  The metamorphoses and Livy’s series of books, each displayed different ways of dealing with this corruption of mankind, it was not the same series of historical events.  However, they both resulted in establishing hope for the city of Rome.

Livy wrote about the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, Romulus killed Remus, and he reforms and goes on to develop Rome.  He gives the Roman people a set of laws.  He gives the city hope, and he builds it up.  Some of his methods lacked a system of ethical balance, but he was believed to have led the early Romans and build their civilization.  Ovid, in comparison, writes about an event that reflects the story of Noah and the flood.  The corruption of mankind was so vast that Jupiter sent a flood to wipe mankind from the face of the earth.  There were two survivors,  Deuclion and Pyrra, who repopulated the earth, by tossing stones over their shoulders that turned into human beings.

The basis for an optimistic view, in both stories, is hope.  Hope that the corruption will be demolished.  These people had motivation to build a city, and they did.  Hope for relief is a powerful motivation in the mind of man.

How Important was the rhetorical Context of Cicero’s orations: his listeners’ fear of Catiline’s conspiracy and army?

Rhetoric was a central aspect of Cicero’s orations.  Without the use of rhetoric, he would not have made the same impact during his era, nor would he have impacted the modern world.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), is considered to be one of the most effective users of rhetoric in history.  He was a Roman politician who served as consul in 63 BC.  This man, was regarded even in his own time for his rhetorical abilities.  The thought of being pursued by this in front of the Roman Senate is daunting for the victim. In each of his speeches he delivered, he had a goal, and he was consistent with that goal throughout the speech.  For this reason, the victim knew they would be defeated if they attempted to deny Cicero’s accusations.

Cicero pursued a man, known in English as Catiline (108-62 BC), he was a member of the Roman senate.  Cicero believed, and argued, that Catiline was conspiring an attempt to overthrow the city.  He verbally addressed him in front of the Roman senate.  He accused Catiline of being the source of evil in the city of Rome.  He delivered four different orations, each with different goals, all of which had a focus on removing Catiline’s conspiracy from the city.

Rhetoric was central to Cicero’s series of orations.  The use of rhetoric, was the heart of his speech.  What exactly is rhetoric? From Wikipedia: “Rhetoric is the art of discourse, wherein a writer or speaker strives to inform, persuade or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.”  In order to make his audience fear Catiline’s conspiracies, Cicero had to use rhetoric to effectively motivate his audience.  He had to persuade and motivate his audience to take action against the conspiracy of Catiline.

The orations he delivered were not in the format of a trial.  They were strictly political speeches.  He did not specify his accusations and he offered no proof of his accusations.  He did not order sanctions against Catiline, he just gave him advisory.  The goal of his first oration was to persuade Catiline to leave the senate, and to ultimately leave the city of Rome.  He accomplished this goal through use of rhetoric.  Cicero was successful in this task, and Catiline departed from the city.  This was done, not through lawful force, but rather by means of effective rhetoric.

If Cicero had not accomplished what he did with his rhetorical techniques, Catiline may have been successful in his attempt to overthrow the city.  If not successful in his attempt, there would have been executions of innocent Roman citizens.  It was not over, however.  When Catiline left the city, his allies were still corrupting Rome, Cicero confronted this in the following orations.  Catiline would later attack the city, but he was no longer inside the walls of the city, and he lost power because of this.  Without the rhetorical context of Cicero’s orations, his audience would not have taken action, and the course of history would be vastly different.

If you had been Catiline, what would you have said to undermine Cicero’s case?

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) was a Roman politician who served as consul in the year 63 BC.  He is believed by many to be one of the greatest masters of rhetoric in history.  He was persuasive in his arguments and had significant power because of this.  Cicero was also a lawyer as well as a politician, and in a verbal confrontation, he attacks a figure of that time, Cataline.  Cataline (108-62 BC) was a member of the Roman senate, but he had his own organizations by which there were suspicions that he might attempt to overthrow the city.

Cicero uses his rhetorical tactics to dramatically addresses Cataline in front of the senate.  This was not a trial however, this was a political oration delivered by Cicero.  Cicero, even in his own time, was regarded as a master of rhetoric.  Being verbally pursued by this man raises a level of fear in the victim. Cicero had goals in his speech, but he did not make these obvious.  Among other goals, the main goal of Cicero in his oration was to persuade Cataline to leave the city of Rome.  The entire oration was centered around this goal.  Had I been in the place of Cataline, I would have made an effort to react differently to Cicero’s accusations.

Cicero made several vague accusations towards Cataline, and basically portrayed him as a monstrous threat toward the Roman Republic.  While the accusations may have been true, they were neither specific or direct.  He did not refer to specific events in which Cataline conspired in wrongdoings.

I do not know if, in this confrontation, Cataline had the opportunity to speak, but if I were in his place, I would have made an effort to intervene.  I would have requested Cicero to specify his accusations, and provide relevant proof for them.  And if he was unable to speak during the oration, I would have confronted it when Cicero had finished speaking.

Perhaps Cataline did not make an effort to deny these accusations of being a danger to the Roman Republic, because perhaps they were true.  Perhaps he really was conspiring against the city, and perhaps he knew that it was true that he deserved death.  It is not apparent that he made any effort whatsoever to defend himself.  He could have demanded evidence that what Cicero said was true, but if Cicero was able to provide it, Cataline could face death charges rather than simply charges to leave the city.  It could have been that the reason he didn’t deny it was to avoid the possibility of the Senate uncovering some of his monstrous deeds.  Perhaps he saw it as a safer option to remain silent, and be sentenced to leave the city with his army.  Then he could later attack Rome through warfare (which is what he did).

The reasons for his silence in the process is unknown to the text.  If I were in his place, I would have confronted Cicero in a similar way that he was confronting Cataline, using logic and a means of rhetoric.  I would have asked the senate how they accepted these accusations against him when there was no specified proof that they actually happened.

Comparison of Ethics, Works and Days vs. The Eumenides, part 2

(to see the first part of this assignment click here, this will provide a background for this article)

“How does the view of ethical cause and effect in history in Works and Days compare with the furies’ view in The Eumenides?”

In these two pieces of Greek literature, there are two substantially different views on ethical cause and effect in history.  In Greek civilization, it is noticeable that there was some confusion; there is no ultimate sovereignty.  Zeus is supreme over the other gods, however he does not have ultimate sovereignty.  This raises the issue of which gods’ laws should be followed, because they each had a different system of laws.  This creates confusion in the society, because there is no obvious ultimate good or evil, it is up to the individual to determine which god to obey.  However, we begin to see in these two pieces of literature, foundations of a system of ethical cause and effect.  While these are two separate systems, they share some essential similarities.

In Works and Days, Hesiod lays out to his brother Perses how to live a good life.  He writes about a lifestyle that possesses a system of ethical cause and effect.  He describes what his brother must do to please the gods and tells him how to live his life, he actually goes into impressive detail.  Unlike in The Eumenides, Hesiod explains to his brother that he should not listen to the decisions of the courts, but rather the omens sent directly by the gods.  He attempts to persuade his brother that the decision of the court is not necessarily something he should abide by.  However, in The Eumenides, we see the goddess Athena convince the furies to submit power to the courts of men.  The gods are perceived as above men, but they give men the power of judgment in jury.  This is a contrasting situation.

In The Eumenides, when the furies submit to the court of men by the persuasion of Athena, we see a tremendous transfer of power in history.  The furies had a reputation for being relentless in pursuing their victim.  In the end, the court decision, was against the furies and they were bribed by Athena and for love of fame, accepted her offer to live in Athens.  In lust for fame, the furies submitted their positions as huntresses for violators of the laws against family murder, and changed to a different life, out of the under-ground.

There are two systems here, Hesiod is telling his brother not to trust the decision of the courts, but in The Eumenides, the furies submit to the idea of the courts, and the gods transfer substantial power to men.  Hesiod, in Works and Days is saying to obey to the gods directly (he gives account on which gods to obey and pray to), while Aeschylus, in The Eumenides, is demonstrating that the gods transferred this power to the hands of men.  It is a confusing situation.  If one believes in the Greek religion, how would that individual know which of these accounts is accurate?  It is inconsistent.

Comparison of ethics, Works and Days vs. The Eumenides, part 1.

“How does the view of ethical cause and effect in history in Works and Days compare with the furies’ view in The Eumenides?”

Both pieces of literature, “Works and Days,” and “The Eumenides” state general principles of ethical cause and effect.  However, the ethics are different and produced to the reader in different forms.

Works and Days is a poem written by the ancient Greek poet, Hesiod, who was assumed to have been active from 750-650 B.C..  In this poem, he tries to convince Perses, his brother, to be ethical and to live a good life.  Hesiod provides account to his brother of the sanctions that will occur whether he lives a life of good ethics or whether he lives a life of corrupt ethics.  He gives Perses an example of what the good life is like and what he must do to attain this lifestyle.  Hesiod’s real goal in this poem was to persuade his brother to allow him his fair share of the inheritance, he did this by presenting him with ground laws of ethics.

The Eumenides is the third tragedy of a trilogy, leading up to this third tragedy there were acts of blood revenge in the family.  It started with Agamemnon, the head of the house, sacrificing his daughter Iphagenia to the gods during the Trojan war.  Clytaemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, conspires with Aegisthus, her new lover, to deceive Agamemnon and murder him.  Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, vows to the Greek god Apollo to avenge his father and kill the murderer, however to do so he must kill his mother.  With some hesitation, he kills his own mother and for this, the relentless furies pursue him.  This was an act that violated the ethical system of a household, therefore the underground gods had to send the furies to restore justice.

Unlike in Works and Days, the furies only demonstrate that this is the wrong way to live, they do not provide example or instruction for the goo, ethical life.

What would have been Orestes’ proper course of action, had he been living today?

The libation bearers is the second part of a Greek trilogy written by Aeschylus, a Greek tragedian (6th century-5th century B.C.).   In this tragedy, dialogue is continued from the first section of the trilogy; a series of blood guilt justice within the household of Agamemnon.  Like most ancient Greek tragedies of this time, this tragedy was a story of the effects of the Trojan war.  This was a series of events that followed the Trojan war, it did not take place during the Trojan war.

The character Orestes, son of Agamemnon, is faced with a difficult decision.  He makes an oath to the Greek god Apollo to avenge his father’s death.  To do so, he must kill his father’s murderer. In this case, his father’s murder is Orestes’ own mother, Clytaemnestra, and her new found lover, Aegisthus that she conspired with to kill Agamemnon.  Orestes is trapped with a decision, if he does not avenge his father by killing his mother, he will face the consequences of his father’s furies, and the consequences of Apollo.  However, if he does go through with the action of killing his mother, Clytaemnestra, he will face her household furies.  He is facing a decision in which he is potentially doomed either way.  Orestes asks for advice from his associate and ultimately kills his mother, and announces at the end of the tragedy that he must flee to avoid her furies.

It was a complicated system of justice.  One act of blood guilt in the family required another act to attain justice, but the system is endless because every murder will require another murder.  It was an “eye for an eye” system of justice.  This is a system that any given individual in the modern world would perceive as corrupt.

If Orestes had been living today, he would have needed to take a completely different course of action.  The series of slaughtering started with Agamemnon offering his daughter Iphogenia, as a sacrifice during the Trojan war, then Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus conspired the murder of Agamemnon to bring justice on his actions, and Orestes followed by avenging Agamemnon.  In this system, the murders are justified by personal reasons, there is no ultimate sovereignty that lays down laws.  In terms of courts, there were no ultimate laws that prevented this slaughtering of family murders, it was all personal to the family.  In most modern systems of justice, this is an issue that would be taken to the court and settled by the system of justice in that state.  No matter how personal the issue, murder is not permitted.

Orestes, if operating today, would have to take this issue to the courts, or he himself would be liable for his murderous actions.  In most modern systems of justice, decisions like the decision Orestes faced, would be made according to the law of that particular society.  In the time of this event, Greek religion played a big role, however, today, in most societies, it is not acceptable to justify murder based on one’s religion.  Had Orestes been active today, perhaps he could have avoided the situation and the difficult decisions he faced by appealing to the court and attaining justice for his household.