Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

14. About Jesus / Curtain Torn |
Madman or God?

This is a continuation of the thirteenth segment (Pontius Pilate) of Chapter One on Jesus of Nazareth entitled Madman or God?. It is from Volume One, The Veil is Torn, of the twelve-volume historical series: The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years. This section of the chapter describes Jesus’ stoic decorum while experiencing Rome’s most painful form of execution and the ominous event of the curtain surrounding the most sacred spot within the Great Temple tearing in two at the moment of Jesus’ death.

Upon expiry on the cross, the Great Curtain surrounding the Holy of Holies within the Great Temple inexplicably rips in two — probably not a good sign

Jesus unquestionably died well. None of the usual cursing and screaming. Even the duty centurion commanding the execution squad was impressed, calling him “Truly, the Son of God.” Not that it proved much. This Jesus seemed to have had what people would consider an unhealthy respect for the Roman army. He had actually once cured the servant of a centurion and announced the man had greater faith than anything he had encountered among the Jews. Something about their discipline, no doubt. In any event what did it matter that a Roman called someone “Son of God”? Roman gods constantly haunted the earth, even breeding with mortals to beget hybrid children.

By that night, the prisoner was declared dead, and the Passover Feast had still not begun. The whole business was over and done with in little more than a day—all told, a very efficient piece of work by Caiaphas, considering the problems he faced. Understandably, therefore, by that Passover eve it seemed certain that this would spell the end of the “Jesus” movement, or whatever they called it.

There had been, or so it was rumored, a curious incident, however. When the man died, the veil of the curtain covering the Holy of Holies, the most sacred precinct in the Temple, had suddenly split in two from the top to the bottom. If true this was a most ominous sign. Then, two days later the whole thing began blowing up. His followers, who it was assumed would rapidly disperse, instead were all over the city and countryside. “Jesus is alive,” they proclaimed. “He is risen.” They seemed absolutely convinced of it—convinced enough, anyway, to risk arrest for saying so. For the high priests, the thing was getting completely out of hand, and now came this drunken extravaganza in the streets.

Messiah is come, said the Nazarene’s followers. They will convert Jewry. They will convert the world. “Some hope!” the high priests no doubt scoffed. A ragged mob of fishermen, ex-tax collectors, shopkeepers and sheepherders. Human gullibility seems boundless. They have no leaders, no money, no sound scholarship, no credibility, and no official status. And what was all this babbling about the coming of the Holy Spirit?

Do they not understand that the faith is as permanent and secure as the Temple itself? And firm the Temple would stand, the high priests said, until the real Messiah finally arrives.

This is the end of Chapter One on Jesus Christ entitled Madman or God? from Volumne One, The Veil is Torn, of the historical series The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years.