[quote="irishcolleen45, post:1, topic:267779"]
The Jewish leaders could stone an adultress and also St Stephen to death. Why couldn't they kill Jesus?
Yet another stock answer by myself: :blush:
[quote="patrick457, post:19, topic:260351"]
My two cents.
There is some uncertainty as to how capital punishment worked in the time of Jesus. One camp thinks that Jews did have limited right to give out death sentences, but only did so in the traditional methods (stoning, beheading, burning, and strangulating) and mostly in religious matters; secular cases being tried under Roman law. Another (more plausible IMHO) camp meanwhile thinks that only the Roman governor had this right, citing the fact that the Romans seldom granted anyone capital power, preferring to keep it to themselves in order to avoid any abuse of authority that might occur, such as local courts in Roman-unfriendly areas turning on Roman collaborators. Hence, all cases would have to be submitted to the prefect after the responsible local officials have reviewed them and made recommendations, as in the case of Jesus. If this authority was jealously withheld from other provinces (a decree of Augustus to the proconsul of Cyrene, dated 7-6 BC, in fact specifically excludes capital power from the province of the native court), why would Judaea be an exception?
During the 1st century, the provincial ruler's power was very considerable; it was only in the following century that authority was severely limited by the emperor himself. In these outposts of the empire, the prefect had to be able to do whatever he thought necessary for the good of Rome, and this included the power to discipline the army. The prefect's right to sentence people to death was not only exclusive but also absolute; he could execute a citizen, and he did not have to formulate a charge that would stand up in a court at Rome.
The only undisputed occasion the Jews are allowed to put people to death is when gentiles transgressed the allotted boundaries of the Temple. The Jews were allowed to kill any non-Jew who entered the sacred inner court, even if they were a Roman citizen. But this is somewhat an exception from the rule, in line with the custom of granting provincial subjects as much freedom as possible in practicing their religion.
As for Stephen's death, if we go by the opinion that only the prefect had the sole right of handing out death sentences, it would then be a lynching rather than an execution. His listeners just had enough and decided to put an end to him right then and there without any official sentence:
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Why would Stephen's 'lynching' and this woman fly past under the radar then?
Judaea was a province ruled by a prefect (or after AD 41, a procurator), who commanded auxiliaries recruited from peregrini, local non-citizens: being an equestrian, he was not of high rank enough to command a legion; his immediate superior, the legate of Syria, meanwhile, had four legions under his belt. And even then, unlike in standard retellings of the Jesus story where Romans are barbarians who roam, loot and pillage around the countryside, all the while kicking old men and forcing people to carry their loads, in reality the prefect and the majority of his soldiers stayed in the capital of Caesarea Maritima for most of the year far away from the sight of Jews, preferring instead to let the native rulers (in this case, the high priest and his council) run daily affairs for him. These locals were the responsible officials for the area and was normally in charge of ordinary police and judicial procedures, though the prefect would have the final word. All in all, the prefect only had 3,000 troops at his disposal, which is not sufficient to handle serious trouble, thus in emergencies he would need the aid of the Syrian legate and his legions.
The Romans were totally unable to police the internal life of the provinces closely; and would not have done so if they had been able. So yes, they generally cared little about whatever excesses the provincial courts had in dealing with alleged offenses as long as Roman citizens were not involved. So it's more like a 'yeah, I know them locals are exercising vigilante justice, but so what?'-type of situation.