An Accursed Death?

Hi Folks,

I am new to the forum. I wish you all peace.

I’d like your comments on the following excerpt from the Jewish Encyclopaedia:

“This last utterance was in all its implications itself a disproof of the exaggerated claims made for him after his death by his disciples. The very form of his punishment would disprove those claims in Jewish eyes. No Messiah that Jews could recognize could suffer such a death; for “He that is hanged is accursed of God” (Deut.xxi, 23), “an insult to God” (Targum, Rashi). How far in his own mind Jesus substituted another conception of the Messiah, and how far he regarded himself as fulfilling that ideal, still remain among the most obscure of the historical problems.” (Jewish Encyclopedia under Article ‘Jesus” sub heading ‘Crucifixion’ Vol 7, P 166)

As I understand it, accursed means distant from God and near to the devil.

Is this Jewish objection valid?

Peace,

One has to wonder if the Jewish interpretation of Deuteronomy ever takes into account that innocent men have ever been hanged?

Is it the position of the Scriptures that every single individual, in the history of civilization, that has ever been hanged has been guilty and accursed by virtue of his punishment?

Rather, I’m quite sure that the Jewish position is that we are made guilty by our actions, not by our manner of death.

The Jewish argument you pointed to neglects Isaiah 53, specifically verse 1 -

[quote=NAS] Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?"
[/quote]

Isaiah 53 continues on to describe the sufferings of Messiah, and why (very important!). This is repeated in John 12:38 -

[quote=NAS] This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?”
[/quote]

Verses 39-40 explains why the Jewish source you cited gives the definition it does -

[quote=NAS] For this cause they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them.”
[/quote]

I think Paul gives an excellent explanation in Galatians 3:13 -

[quote=NAS] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree "
[/quote]

If you’re really intested in truth, I can direct you to someone that knows Arabic, can read the Q’uran (sorry if I misspelled it) in the original language, and has debated Muslim apologists on different subjects.

Hope this was helpful!

Pax!

Hi PRmerger,

Many thanks for your response. You are arguing that Jesus wasn’t accursed of God, but the problem is that Paul accepted the Jewish application of [Deut 21:23] on the matter, and stated that Christ did indeed become accursed of God [Galatians 3:13]. Do you disregard Paul?

Peace.

Hi,

I think PRmerger’s point that one’s manner of death is not indicative of innocence (or lack thereof) was to reconcile Christ’s death with Paul’s view and the Jewish position. Maybe it is easier to understand if we say “Christ became like one who is cursed” or “as an accursed one”. That is, Christ took on the cursed state that we, as sinners, would all rightfully deserve. This, however, did not in any way remove Christ’s innocence or divinity. Nor did it turn him into a man actually cursed because of his actions or as an insult to God.

Imagine taking on a friend’s muddy coat so that they can go meet someone extremely important with a clean coat on. Suppose that the coat is yours and has always been clean. Are you the one who got the other coat muddy in the first place? No, but by taking the dirty coat and replacing it with your clean one, you are switching places with your friend; you are saving your friend from guilt and a very difficult situation. In no way has your innocence (that is, the fact that you never got your coat dirty in the first place) changed, however.

Peace be with you.

I am not understanding where the disconnect is for you.

Does not St. Paul proclaim that Christ redeemed us in Galatians? Is there something in that verse that you believe Catholics disregard?

Then should Paul have accepted that [Deut 21:23] applied to Christ in [Gal 3:13]? Not only that, it is part of doctrine that following the alleged death on the cross, Christ suffered in hell, as other cursed people suffer punishment in hell being distant from God.

Peace.

Yes.

One who is hanged, experiencing the great suffering of this punishment, is indeed experiencing an accursed form of punishment.

I don’t know anyone who proclaims that hanging is a pleasant experience.

Not only that, it is part of doctrine that following the alleged death on the cross, Christ suffered in hell, as other cursed people suffer punishment in hell being distant from God.

Peace.

If you are talking about Catholicism, then you are INCORRECT.

Christ did not suffer in hell.

Christ preached to those in the bosom of Abraham.

Paul did not reject the Jewish application of [Deut 21:23] on the alleged death on the cross; rather he confirmed it as correct, albeit whilst offering his own explanation for it.

If you’re really intested in truth, I can direct you to someone that knows Arabic, can read the Q’uran (sorry if I misspelled it) in the original language, and has debated Muslim apologists on different subjects.

Then invite him here. He is more than welcome to give his truth on this issue in this thread.

Peace.

Again, to emphasize the error in your assertion above:

From our Catechism:

The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.-CCC632

Amen! This is very Catholic. :thumbsup:

[quote=Dialogues] Paul did not reject the Jewish application of [Deut 21:23] on the alleged death on the cross; rather he confirmed it as correct, albeit whilst offering his own explanation for it.
[/quote]

Sorry, you seem to have misunderstood what I was saying. The Jewish source you cited does not take Isaiah 53 into account when it says, “No Messiah that Jews could recognize could suffer such a death;”… Deut 21:23 is a given, and is not directly relevant to the discussion. In Gal 3:13, Paul tells us that Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us”

Then invite him here. He is more than welcome to give his truth on this issue in this thread.

I’m not sure how welcome he would be here. He has also debated many Catholic apologists (as well as Mormons, athiests, homosexuals, and some other groups). I will send you some info about him by PM.

It seems to me the writers of the apostolic creed knew what was meant by punishment for sins. Otherwise, how did Jesus allegedly carry the sins of mankind if he was not punished in hell at all, when some people are to be punished in hell for all eternity? Indeed, one could question why the descent into hell was not for a much longer period, as the sins of mankind are many.

Just going to preach in hell does not explain how Jesus took on the punishment for the sins of mankind. Is being on a cross for a few hours enough to bear all sins? The entire doctrine of vicarious atonement doesn’t add up, more so if he wasn’t even punished in hell in the first place.

Moreover, ‘accursed’ means ‘distant from God, close to the devil, deprived of divine mercy, with the soul blackened by sin’. Hence the Jewish objection. Paul couldn’t refute it, so he felt he had to embrace it somehow.

Peace.

Hi,

[Deut 21:23] is central to the discussion, and Paul felt he had to accept it’s application. As for Isaiah 53, how does it even apply to Jesus when it talks about the person concerned seeing his offspring, but you deny Jesus even got married?

In Gal 3:13, Paul tells us that Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us”

This doctrine is Paul’s invention. The law was a source of enlightenment and right guidance, not a curse. Paul is the only one to consider the law to be a curse. And to consider Jesus as accursed is to insult him. I wouldn’t dream of it, as I consider him blessed, not accursed.

I’m not sure how welcome he would be here. He has also debated many Catholic apologists (as well as Mormons, athiests, homosexuals, and some other groups). I will send you some info about him by PM.

The PM was blocked by the pop-up blocker, and was then lost. There are some other non-Catholics on the forum as well. If he abides by forum rules, he may be accepted here :slight_smile:

Peace.

Indeed.

Otherwise, how did Jesus allegedly carry the sins of mankind if he was not punished in hell at all, when some people are to be punished in hell for all eternity?

Ah. I see now the source of your error. You seem to think that the Catholic teaching that Jesus descended into hell means “the place of eternal punishment.”

That is a common error and no one need blame you for your ignorance on this concept.

Our modern understanding of the word “hell” associates hell with the place of those who are eternally damned.

However, **initially “hell” was translated from the Greek word “Hades” and from the Hebrew word “Sheol”, which simply referred to the place of the dead. ** That is, the place that souls went prior to Christ’s atoning death on the cross. After Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, those souls were “released” into heaven or hell.

The term “hell” is a Germanic term that used to be a synonym for Hades. As such, it could refer to the place of the unrighteous or the righteous dead.

Eventually, over time, “hell” in English has come to refer exclusively to the place of the damned.

But at the time of the early Christians, “hell” simply meant the abode of the dead, where the good and bad went, and this is where Jesus descended.

Egg-zactly.

And that is why Catholicism rejects “vicarious atonement” as you describe it. Perhaps you thought you were in dialogue with Calvinists perhaps? I should remind you that you are on a Catholic forum, in dialogue with Catholics.

From New Advent: “The second mistake is the tendency to treat the Passion of Christ as being literally a case of vicarious punishment. This is at best a distorted view of the truth that His Atoning Sacrifice took the place of our punishment, and that He took upon Himself the sufferings and death that were due to our sins.”

Hi,

Okay, please explain what exactly it was that took the place of the punishment of others.

Keep in mind that people are martyred from time to time, as for example some of the disciples were. I don’t recall reading about them or other martyrs praying as earnestly and in anguish as Jesus was, for their martyrdom to be averted.

Jesus was not behaving as though he knew that it was part of an eternal plan for him to be martyred for the sake of others. Rather, it appears that he was praying fervently for what he saw as an accursed death to be averted.

Peace.

Here is the Catholic understanding of Atonement:

Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned.(Jn 8:46) But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Mk 15:34; Ps 22:2; cf. Jn 8:29.) Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners, God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all”, so that we might be “reconciled to God by the death of his Son”.(Rom 8:32; 5:10)–CCC603

Unless you are privy to their private prayers, it’s curious that you could claim knowledge that they did not wish for their martyrdom to be averted.

Jesus was not behaving as though he knew that it was part of an eternal plan for him to be martyred for the sake of others. Rather, it appears that he was praying fervently for what he saw as an accursed death to be averted.

Peace.

I would have to disagree. All of the Scriptures seem to indicate that he knew exactly what was part of the eternal plan for salvation.

That he prayed for an aversion from an accursed death is testimony to his humanity.

Hi,

Martyrs willingly sacrifice their lives for their cause or faith. Religious martyrs have faith in meeting with their Lord God, and they bear witness to this by their willing sacrifice. They don’t behave with cowardice.

That he prayed for an aversion from an accursed death is testimony to his humanity

You make him out to be faithless and a coward. Rather, it was because he knew it was not his mission to die an accursed death on the cross. Look:

  • Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (John 26: 36) … And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. (John 26: 39) …. He went away again, and prayed the second time and prayed, saying ……and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (John 26:42-44)

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22: 43-44) *

An angel strengthens him to keep praying, and he prays even more earnestly. Even an angel sent by God opposes a supposed plan or mission for him to die on the cross. This is just like the dream Pilate’s wife saw, which did not tell her to send word to Pilate to hurry up and crucify him according to a supposed plan; rather, it was the opposite, not to have him crucified, and she acted accordingly.

  • “…saith to his disciples, sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder…. And began to be sorrowful and very heavy… And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and said unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray…” (Matt 26: 36-41) *

He even wanted his disciples to pray for him. Clearly, it was not his plan or mission to die on the cross, or he would not have been opposing it so much.

Peace.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.