Wednesday, January 27, 2016


This may get boring to people and somewhat humiliating for myself (what would my life be without a lot of humiliation?), but every so often I have to repeat my appeal to TV writers of crime dramas. They understand scientific method better than anyone else. They know what it means to speak truth to power which is what their detective creations are often called upon to do. Could we please pay attention to the evidence and not go after someone for ideological reasons or emotional reasons? That is scientific method in a nutshell.

All the TV detectives I have seen know that a fundamental rule of science is that if a theory is not explaining the evidence very well, then for pity’s sake, TRY ANOTHER THEORY!

In historical Jesus studies, no one does that. Everyone knows that “Jewish leaders prosecuting Jesus or helping Rome to prosecute Jesus” does not explain the evidence in the Gospels. Never mind that it also does not fit the Jewish historical context. Nothing in the Gospel accounts (of what happened on Jesus’ last night) resembles a Jewish trial. But instead of trying a different theory, scholars just try spinning the old theory in new ways. So they will try: Well, maybe Jewish leaders held a hearing, not a trial, and maybe it was a preliminary hearing for the Roman trial. But this is the same old idea of a Jewish procedure hostile to Jesus, dressed up to sound new. This does not explain the evidence any better BECAUSE IT IS JUST THE SAME THEORY of hostility and persecution by Jewish leaders. It does not work any better than the previous spin on this ancient idea. 

Never mind that ancient Jewish culture did not hold hearings and never, ever helped Rome prosecute Jews. It seems to be too much to ask scholars to pay very close to Jewish context.

Maybe try a truly different theory. Like: Jewish leaders trying to help Jesus and save him from a Roman execution. That would explain why the details in the Gospels resemble an informal hearing more than a trial. And it explains a whole lot more, like the details concerning Judas. His story is so ambiguous. No one would tell the story of a traitor that way. The ambiguities can more easily be explained if he was helping Jesus.

I realize I am laying down only broad hints here.  The full case for everything is presented in my two books. True Jew is more recent and shorter. Think of me as Brenda Leigh Johnson or Adrian Monk or any of the CSI detectives or the new Sherlock Holmes. I am just going after the most reasonable theory that will explain all the evidence without mental acrobatics.

There is another way to look at this. And I am hoping that some TV writer will be intrigued enough to take a look at either one of my books.  Links are at the right.

Thanks so much, and have a lovely, crime-free day.

© 2016 Leon Zitzer

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