14 JÉSUS IN ART AND LITERATURE After three years of fruitful preaching, Jesus left Galilee and the surrounding areas to go to Judea. He knew Judea and Jerusalem, its religious capital, with its Temple and its pilgrimages. He had family and friends there, particularly Lazarus, whomhe raised from the dead, as the Gospel relates. FromGalilee, regular incursions ledhimtoward the province that was now governed directly by Rome. Two authorities— administrative and religious—were exercised there in two distinct capitals, Caesarea and Jerusalem respectively. Since the year 26, the Roman governor, called the “procurator” or “prefect,” had been Pontius Pilate. He resided in Caesarea, a new city that Herod the Great had ordered built on the Mediterranean to rival the Athenian port of Piraeus. All the military, administrative, and cultural services were located there, and of course the games. Jerusalem, for its part, with its Temple, was the city of the high priest and the priestly profession, and also of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish authority for official studies of the Scriptures and debates on the Law; in short, it was the institutional center responsible for the smooth running of the wheels of the Jewish social and religious system that Christians would later designate by the name “Judaism.” Jerusalem was also the focal point for Jews who flocked from all Palestine and the diaspora during the major feasts—which sometimes became turbulent. In Judea, there was no lack of conflicts, and most often they were severely repressed. The balance of the two powers was not automatic, but it was firmly maintained. IS JESUS “THE MESSIAH”? These are the complex circumstances in which Jesus appeared in Judea, accompanied by his apostles. He was preceded by a solid reputation of being a highly successful leader. The proclamation of the coming of the kingdom of heavenwas always the point of his teaching. It was not neutral with regard to the two coexisting authorities. Among the Jewish leaders principally—since the Roman authority intervened only in cases of serious disturbances—suspicion would develop into opposition and then into hostility. It must be noted that the moral doctrine advocated by Jesus, as an accomplishment of the prophetic texts of Scripture, drew positive lessons from the fact that the political jurisdiction of the national land was under foreign domination. This situation had value as a parable. The innovative message of Jesus tolerated the distinction of roles between God on the one hand and Caesar on the other, with their respective rights. Jesus’ message was universal, insofar as he addressed every conscience, starting of course with the conscience of each member of the Jewish people, but without making that group exclusive or even privileged. Thus Jesus was, in fact, a serious competitor of the Pharisees, influential promoters of a doctrine elaborated for the Jewish people considered as a holy, sovereign entity. For these Pharisees, the practice of interpreting the Scriptures, traditionally the prerogative of the priests in Jerusalem, must expand everywhere, into the residence of every subject of the Mosaic Law. The necessary act of sanctification becomes possible far from the Temple and without the priests, since every family table purified according to the rules has a function analogous to that of the altar of sacrifices. Inmany of its aspects, the “new and eternal” Law that Jesus proposed coincided with this ideal. But it also surpassed it, being open to all human beings, wherever they are and whatever they are; and it raises it to the highest power by setting as its criterion not external attitudes that are often marked by hypocrisy, but the disposition to love in deed and in truth (1 Jn 3:18). Another factor worked against Jesus: the ever stronger influence that he had on the crowds and, far more importantly, the character of it. They were inclined to acknowledge himas theMessiah, the descendant of King David who would liberate Israel from pagan occupation, as many hoped. According to the Gospel accounts, the titles “Messiah” and “son of David” were proclaimed repeatedly in the presence of Jesus or in reference to him. This fame gave rise to demonstrations of enthusiasm on the occasion of major religious feasts, in Jerusalem and its environs, but also to controversies that were sometimes vehement. Within Jewish society under Roman occupation, the expectation of the Messiah was most often imprecise, hesitant, and timid. Around Jesus it assumed a resolute, full, and dynamic form. The people who had been edified by Jesus found themselves increasingly won over by the idea that he personally combined all the so-called messianic virtues. In Greek, messias, in other words, “one consecrated