The Trial of Christ, by David K. Breed, , at sacred-texts.com
We have raised a question as to how far the Mosaic "lawyers" in the Sanhedrin were learned in secular law as we have used the term "law" in this work. The idea of St. Paul as a lawyer, for example, is referred to in passing in Smith, Life and Letters of St. Paul, p. 30; Xenophan P. Wilfley, St. Paul the Herald of Christianity, pp. 17 & 22; Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics, XI, p. 185; Goldberg & Benderly, Outline of Jewish Knowledge, Student's Edition, III, p. 516; Edersheim, op. cit., II 556; Wigmore's Panorama of the World's Legal Systems (1 vol. "Desk" reprint 1928) pp. 113 and 119 quoting Mischna, V, on Sanhedrin application of the civil law of bailments; Whiston's edition of Josephus' Works, p. 497; Peloubet's Bible Dictionary, p. 591. None of these except Senator Wilfley refers to Paul as a lawyer but we know that Paul was a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin, and that the Sanhedrin
had legislative, executive, judicial, civil, criminal and ecclesiastical power under the Romans, only Roman Citizens having a right of appeal to Rome. Paul's writings abound in references to Roman Law which, judging from their content, he must have known considerable about; see Acts 25:8; Gal. 3:15; I Tim., Chap. 1; and Wilfley, op. cit.
According to a concordance at hand, the word "Lawyer" is found in the Bible only in the following usages:
(1) Matt. 22:35: "then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying," (Great Commandment).
(2) Luke 7:30: "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God."
(3) Luke 10:25: "And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying . . ."
(4) Luke 11:45 ff: Several references where Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Lawyers for too much ritualism and (v. 52) for throwing away the key of knowledge. Did he mean that they were trying to make legal exactitude a substitute for salvation? This
passage may be basis for our very argument that as Christians we should observe but alter harsh technicalities of law!
(5) Luke 14:3: "And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees"concerning eating meat on the sabbath and also teaching that Acts of Mercy are always permissible.
(6) Titus 3:13: "Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently."
In Luke, the closing part of the second chapter, we find a narrative of Jesus staying behind at the age of twelve, discussing with the Doctors in the Temple and amazing them with his knowledge, but the record does not show any legal discussions.
For our own part, we cannot see how the Sanhedrists could handle civil and criminal matters unless they knew civil and criminal law. Mr. Wilfley, an astute exemplar at the Bar in St. Louis for half a century before his death about 1940, is the only modern lawyer whom we have found writing a life of Paul, and we feel satisfied to hold with him that the Sanhedrists and Paul were trained in secular law. We agree that they
were primarily church luminaries, dealing with and interpreting the Mosaic Law, but when we consider that seven of the ten commandments and much of the other Mosaic Law is enforced in our courts today, and that Paul quoted Roman Law with unfailing accuracy, the conclusion seems to us unescapable that the Sanhedrists were learned in the law, even though not practicing lawyers in a modern sense. We regret that limitations of space and scope of this brief study prevent further discussion of this interesting issue. It is significant that in his "Trial of Christ", Rabbi Drucker tries to repudiate Christ by showing that the Sanhedrists were too good lawyers to be a party to such a farcical "trial."