Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Seattle Greendrinks Tonight | The Surge »

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Robbers In Jesus’s Time

posted by on January 9 at 14:23 PM

This painting by Rubens is called “Christ on the Cross between the Two Thieves” (1620):
1rubens4.jpg The men who were crucified on either side of Jesus were not thieves in the modern sense, common criminals, but actually highway robbers who had a position in Roman society that was close to that which Robin Hood had in 12th century England. These robbers where enemies not of the people but the Roman state. Unlike obedient members of society, they were armed and posed a real threat to the army. According to Flavius Josephus, an invaluable 1st-century Jewish historian, the revolutionary eruptions that frustrated and challenged Roman power during Jesus’s time were often instigated, ignited, supported by highway robbers. This is why they were crucified when caught: Roman authority recognized their revolutionary potential. In short, Jesus was not, as Christians of today like to believe, hung with two pathetic crooks, but with men who were as revolutionary and dangerous to the Roman order as he was. It is the slave morality (the morality that turns pity and ‘ressentiment’ into power) that has distorted this fact, brought Jesus down to the level of the weak, and disassociated him with whom he actually belongs: the strong, the dangerous, the master’s enemy. Jesus died with his own kind.

RSS icon Comments


thank you for this...imagine that jesus hung between two pirates...

Posted by downtown kitty | January 9, 2007 3:19 PM

One of your best slog posts Charles. Bravo.

Posted by Monique | January 9, 2007 3:34 PM

Interesting since Flavius Josephus is largely discredited by all of the Roman historians.

Posted by Roman Guy | January 9, 2007 3:44 PM

i like when history is deconstructed like this, not in painting (i prefer a Rubens over 99% of the crap posted on slog), but the story; kind of like VH-1 Behind the Music.

i came across an article today in the BBC that got me thinking.'s basically about a current quest to find the correct geography of Homer's Odyssey.
maybe Greek culture has had a more significant, important and progressive impact on western civ than the overblown story about some Jew savior.

Posted by i'm bored | January 9, 2007 3:47 PM

The should of put Caligula and Nero on those crosses next to him. He brought Christianity and Catholiscism to an empire, Rome. Those two freaks of nature brought the Empire down into shame.

Posted by Damien | January 9, 2007 3:49 PM

This post demonstrates why Mr. Mudede deserves a Stranger Genius Award: Depth, clarity, shape, rhythm and meaning to burn your eyes back into your brain, where they belong.

Posted by regina hackett | January 9, 2007 4:09 PM

Interesting, thanks Charles.

Posted by Dougsf | January 9, 2007 5:58 PM

So, Mudede has decided to write about Christ and his Crucifixion. This post is once again one you should do your very best to avoid. Why? Because few writers in the tradition of American commentary are as bad, as vapid, as blunt, as boorish, as obtuse, as this Mudede character. It is a wonder that anyone would go out of their way to publish one of his pieces, all of which have neither the alacrity of a keen intelligence or the force of good instincts. They are filled with a false sense of importance. They are filled with mucky muck. They are, in the Samkhya theory of matter, the epitome of the tamas guna—heavy, murky, dull. They are noisy and oppressive. They are the products of an imagination that is fueled by big chunks of elephant dung. Mudede is an artistic elephant. You know that, right? Of course you do! With just one ear you can hear, from many miles away, his muddy mind plodding on a bad piece. There is no grace, no sensitivity in the text of his work, just the dumbness of a mass that crashes through trees, stomps on fallen leaves, breaks bark with its rough and thick butt. This is the elephant that writes pieces in, that tromps on, our fine language.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | January 9, 2007 6:48 PM

Charles Mudede is the only reason I keep coming back to Slog. Brilliant and beautifully written.

Posted by Boomer | January 9, 2007 8:13 PM

Thank you, that was beautifully written well presented.

Posted by LM | January 9, 2007 8:18 PM

Good for you Boomer. Back up your claim and refrain your comments to posts by Charles. Your comments elsewhere usually make me ill.

Posted by dwayne | January 9, 2007 9:23 PM

*working my way backward to the posts I've missed the last couple of days - couldn't help commenting*

This was lovely, Mudede. The dumbing down of "supporting characters" in the Bible - Mary Magdelene, these theives - is one of the reasons I abhor modern Christianity, because it ultimately works to dumb down the worshippers, too. Thank you.

Oh, and @#8, YGBKM? That was very eloquent, I especially like the whole elephant metaphor, very imaginative. It's almost, well, Mudede-esque, really.

Posted by SeattleExile | January 10, 2007 9:57 AM

From this young queer revolutionary preparing for ordination as an Episcopal priest: Best. Slog. Post. Ever.

Posted by shock | January 10, 2007 1:49 PM

In the event you're ever involved in the mother of all trivia competitions, please know that:

While the scriptures do not reveal the names of the two criminals crucified with Jesus, tradition has their names as Dismas (the "good thief"), and Gestas (the one who rejected Jesus).

Insofar as is known, neither suffered from strabismus.

Posted by TRIVIA BUFFALO | January 10, 2007 5:18 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).