I’m launching a new YouTube series linked to this blog called History’s Terrorists. Over several episodes, I’ll look at groups and individuals we previously might have regarded as heroic or charismatic and ask – if we’d been there at the time, would we have sided with the authorities and branded them as terrorists? And my first question in episode one is whether Jesus and the zealot cult known as the Sicarii could be classified as terrorist or not?
The intention isn’t to cause offence but to re-appraise historical events. Think about it. You are a merchant in biblical Judaea in the first century AD. You attend the Temple every week, pay your taxes and keep out of trouble. The Romans maintain order though you may not like them particularly but Judaea has nearly always been under foreign control. The Temple priests are a well-heeled bunch who clearly do well out of their position but they are the leaders of your religion, which you adhere to out of deep faith.
Jesus the Terrorist from Galilee
Then along comes some loudmouthed peasant from Galilee and a rabble of disciples. They go into the Temple and overturn the tables of the money exchangers during the sacred festival of Passover. Their leader, in his rustic accent, loudly claims to be the son of God. That he will one day rule over Judaea with his father in heaven. You snort derisively and are shocked, maybe even angered by his blasphemy.
DISCOVER: Jesus Christ – man or myth?
Hopefully, the Roman procurator or the Temple priests will deal with these troublemakers. Well, sure enough – they do. And it’s not an end for Jesus that especially troubles you. Those guilty of treason and sedition are routinely crucified. It’s a deliberately demeaning form of death meant to discourage others. You don’t go along to watch. It’s all rather tawdry. Instead, you heave a sigh of relief and get on with your business.
Imagine if somebody like Jesus entered your town today. Would you hail him as the Messiah or just see another cult leader taking advantage of the gullible and vulnerable? It’s more than likely he’d be viewed by you and your neighbours as a madman or a terrorist. You’d expect the local police to act quickly and restore peace and order.
Well, in the episode of History’s Terrorists below – I argue that not only Jesus but a cult of dagger-wielding zealots that operated around the same time in Judaea called the Sicarii would all have been viewed as a dangerous terrorist phenomenon. Watch and tell me if you agree!