Why did the Witnesses at Jesus’ Trial “Falsely Accuse” Him of Predicting the Destruction of the Temple?

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The Destruction of the Temple

 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”

-Gospel of Mark 14

Gary:  Why would it have been false testimony to claim that Jesus had said that he would destroy the temple if Jesus had said the following just one chapter earlier:

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

-Gospel of Mark 13

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According to New Testament scholar Raymond Brown in his book, The Death of the Messiah, the above passage in Mark 14 has puzzled scholars for two millennia.  On the surface, the allegation against Jesus seems to be accurate!  So what about it was “false testimony”…unless Jesus never made a prediction about the temple!

(Spoiler alert:  Raymond Brown believes that the claim that Jesus had predicted the destruction of the Temple was part of early Christian tradition.  He does not believe that the Gospel authors invented this prediction.  Whether Jesus actually said it is of course unprovable.)

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Remnants of the Temple today

2 thoughts on “Why did the Witnesses at Jesus’ Trial “Falsely Accuse” Him of Predicting the Destruction of the Temple?

  1. Uh – Gary did you read the New Testament at any point?

    Read those quotes you have there. Read the Bible passages.

    Then you’ll notice the false accusation is that Jesus said He would destroy the temple. He says no such thing in the passages you have quoted.

    Anyway have a good Sunday.

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    1. “The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” -Gospel of John 2

      IF Jesus was schlepping all over Palestine claiming to be God (or at least the logos of God) as the author of the Gospel of John states, and God is in control of all that happens as Christians claim, then when Jesus stated (if he did) that the Temple would be destroyed, he was announcing to all listening that He would be the power behind that destruction.

      Ask any conservative Christian apologist or theologian why the Temple was destroyed and their answer will be: God’s judgement. (Jesus’ judgement)

      My personal opinion is that Jesus may have said something about the Temple eventually being destroyed, but I bet that some or all of the “Temple destruction” predictions in the Gospels were inventions by the Gospel authors, writing after the fact.

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