The Sanhedrin by James Jacques Joseph Tissot [19th c.] (Public Domain Image)
The Trial of Christ
by David K. Breed
Could Jesus have gotten off on a technicality? Mr. Breed, a Missouri attorney, presents the brief for acquittal, and then withdraws his plea--on the basis that Jesus is fulfilling an ancient prophecy, and must die anyway, to save mankind.
He points out major discrepancies between Jewish and Roman legal procedures and the gospel accounts. For instance, the Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme court, would never have met on the Sabbath, nor condemned a man to death on the same day as his trial. Roman law also gave defendants many rights we now take for granted, such as the right to a public trial, and to cross-examine witnesses, which were not followed either.
Why care about this, the ultimate moot point? In particular, the actions of the Sanhedrin in the Gospel narratives were used to inflame anti-Semitism for centuries. This toxic stereotype seeped into every aspect of the Jewish-Christian relationship. (see this book). While Mr. Breed does not address this issue directly, it is implicit in his thesis.
Some will say that Breed's conclusion is undermined by his evidence. However, this book demonstrates that a devout Christian can use Biblical criticism to reinforce their faith, and even renew it. Whether you believe that Jesus was completely historical, or a fable based on ancient memes of a dying god, this book will provide much food for thought.