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June 22, 2006

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William Bendzick

I looked up this article after just finishing Gil Bailie's "Violence Unveiled". Rene Girard is onto something, in particular because he has unpacked the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in about the only way I can see that our age is capable of understanding it. Whether we like it or not, we are the post-Shoah generation: we have had our faces smeared down into the mud of our violence like never before in history. We have to undergo a deeper conversion in order to come to grips with this sordid mess in all its horror and filth. As a child, I remember being told that at the Pearly Gates of Heaven I would be met by St Peter. I rather doubt that today. The only Pearly Gates worth dreaming of are those at which Jesus is greeting new souls accompanied by Pilate, Judas, Hitler, and Stalin--and all of them laughing and joking around like they have made complete peace with all the victims of their former evil acts and attitudes. This is my take on the insights of Rene Girard.
Bill Bendzick, Dover, NJ

Professor Frank S. Ravitch

I found this review while looking for citations to Weddig Fricke's, "The Court-Marshall of Jesus." Contrary to Mr. Northey's assertions Fricke's account, which by the way is nothing new other than the focus on Court-Marshall (and being highly readible), does not evince a bias toward Christianity of the type Northey asserts. As a Law & Religion Scholar, quite familiar with Jewish History and Law and Christian History, I ask Northey to "prove it." Fricke cites only a small number of the sources demonstrating the implausibility of the passion story as written in the New Testament by scholars of religion, Roman history, Jewish hstory, and Christian history. There are numerous reasons from within Jewish law, Roman law, Jewish history and Roman history that demonstrate the story is implausible and none of it takes anything away from the key aspect of the story---that Jesus was crucified---and whatever beliefs go along with that. The most obvious points, such as the Sanhedrin would never have met on the day after Passover, that they never passed judgement and assigned a verdict on the same day, that death sentences even by stoning (which would have been the method used if Jews had really been asing for his death) were virtually non-existent, especially in the era post Rabbi Hillel, where leniency based on social justice was a major influence. Moreover, the Romans didn't care what Jews thought and the idea that a Roman leader like Pilate would have listened to the Sanhedrin is a historically ridiculous, not to mention the idea that the Sanhedrin would have tried him, convieted him, Pilate would have done the same, and Herod would have approved it on the same day. Weddig Fricke mentions some of this, but of course he cites to several of the numerous works that support these points. I do not understand Northey's joy in sanctioning the deicide story just because its in the New Testament, even given the rest of the review. I wonder what Jesus would have thought about the persecution of his people for nearly Two Thousand years based on and obvious piece of pragmatic revisionism. Would he say take the story literally even if there is great evidence it is false, or take the message seriously while lamenting for the heinous crimes commited based on the false evidence.

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