So what’s the Passion story, really? It’s difficult to peel the historical layers back to Jesus because the closer you read the scant source material (four Gospels, a few letters of Paul) the more, um, different they seem.
Luckily, smarter people than I got here first. For example, there’s this reconstruction, helpfully color-coded in the style of the Jesus Seminar, based on a tabulation of the work of thirty-four scholars done by Marion Soards. Colors represent “heat” — i.e., a greater number of scholars believing it to be authentic, the redder the words.
There’s also this “tentative reconstruction” by Yarbro Collins (2007).
Paraphrasing, the “original” probably went something like this:
Jesus goes to Gethsemane and is upset. He can’t sleep and prays while his posse sleeps.
While he’s speaking, Judas comes up and kisses him. Jewish leaders take Jesus away, even as one of his followers (unnamed) cuts off the ear of the chief priest’s servant.
Jesus’ followers all flee, including a naked young man.
There may have been an appearance of some sort in front of Jewish authorities. (The charge isn’t clear: What did Jesus do?) They turn him over to the Roman leader Pilate.
Pilate asks Jesus if he is “King of the Jews,” and Jesus neither confirms nor denies.
Pilate releases a criminal named Barabbas and delivers Jesus to guards to be crucified.
Jesus is mocked by the crowd and brought to Golgotha, where he is given tainted wine and crucified between two other convicts.
On the cross, he is taunted by those who say, “If you’re King of the Jews, come down here.”