Professor Welch on 'Making Sense of the Trial of Jesus'
In honor of Good Friday and the Easter season, Professor Jack Welch lectured on the trial of Jesus. The title of his lecture and slideshow presentation was, “Making Sense of the Trial of Jesus.” His lecture held on Friday, April 6, was sponsored by the JRCLS Ancient Law Forum Association (ALFA), a new student organization.
Professor Welch examined the events of and leading up to the trial, relying heavily on the gospel account of John for evidence. He also read passages from Josephus, Peter, the Babylonian Talmud, and the Book of Mormon. As one must do in analyzing a legal case, he taught that when examining the trial of Jesus, one needs to get the facts right. This can be difficult, he said, because facts are not self evident, especially in this very complicated and highly charged case.
Cross referencing and translating scriptural accounts from ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, Professor Welch arrived at the conclusion that fear was perhaps the greatest motivating factor driving people to arrest and try Jesus; and that Jesus’ reputation as a miracle worker was crucial to the urgency behind legal charge explicitly raised against him in John 18:30, that of being a kakopoios or malificus (a wonder-worker).
Next, Professor Welch taught that it is important to recognize the questions and uncertainties involved in the case.
“There is much to ponder as we try to make sense of the trial of Jesus,” Professor Welch said. “How do we make sense of the trials of Jesus? Always maintain a cautious approach, proceeding with humility and a heavy dose of cautiousness.”
But, above all, Professor Welch was quick to recognize that this was no ordinary trial.
“Jesus was not a victim,” he said. “We shouldn’t, I think, even speak of the 'passion' [passivity] or the suffering [pathos] of Jesus, but much rather of the victory, the triumph. It’s not just the triumphal entry but the triumphal completion of his life and mission as the ‘Atoning Messiah.’”
Professor Welch has researched the trial of Jesus for over thirty years and has published several articles on the topic. He teaches a class on Jewish, Greek and Roman Law in the New Testament, and will teach that class again in the fall.
Posted:April 10, 2012