THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

After thirty-seven years of work, my nineteenth book is coming out – and this is a special one!

Many of you have let me know your appreciation for the blogs below, which are “teasers” from the commentaries included in this work. If you’ve read them, you’ll want to read the whole thing. If you haven’t read them, enjoy them below, and know that there’s MUCH more of the same in this book.

So what is this nineteenth and special published book?

The Gospel of John is one of the world’s greatest works of literature, modelled on classical Greek philosophy and drama, but soaring above these in its own new genre. It was itself less successfully imitated later.

And John’s is the only narrative gospel with a legitimate claim to composition by an eyewitness to Jesus – the anonymous Beloved Disciple. But the original work was never completed. Others later edited the manuscript to suit the doctrines of the new Christian religion, even adding some spurious new material. Making things worse, much of the book got badly disordered over time. Simply put, the gospel as we have it today is a mess.

This translation undoes the damage to restore – not the unfinished original text, but the masterpiece the Beloved Disciple and his amanuensis sought to compose. By so doing, we gain a sharply drawn first-hand account of Jesus of Nazareth. Here we encounter a vividly real man sent by God to urge humanity to accept God’s will – described in a narrative set down before creeds and doctrines repackaged him as God incarnate.

For a world that has replaced truth with lies, spirituality with commerce, wisdom with hatred, this is a work that gives us pure, undiluted sacred wisdom as shared with us by a man many call the greatest who has ever lived.

Includes Introduction and Commentaries that burnish this masterpiece for the modern reader.

Several of the blog entries below are taken from the Introduction, giving you a taste of what this book has to say.

The book is available now in hardcover IF YOU CLICK HERE and also in softcover IF YOU CLICK HERE.

And either you can watch here or THIS PAGE for a link to the e-book editions as well, which will be published very soon.

Finding Jesus Guilty in Roman Law

This blog discusses the basis in Roman law for Jesus’s conviction before Pontius Pilate. It comes from my commentaries to the Gospel of John, appended to my restoration of its original text. The gospel as generally known today, suffered a hatchet job by early Christian leaders to conform it to their dogma that turned Jesus into a Roman-style godling. The forthcoming book will include a fresh translation of the gospel from the original Greek. This is a work in progress; feedback is most welcome, and people are encouraged to get the book when it comes available, by the end of this year.

The main reason Pilate sentenced Jesus to death was that he had little choice; he was probably fully aware that these high priests from the Temple had cleverly outmaneuvered him. They wanted this Jesus dead, and they could cause a lot of trouble for Rome if he didn’t give them what they wanted. Besides, he surely reminded himself, much as he found himself liking the man [see previous blogs], this Jesus wanted to die. The question was exactly how to do this according to Roman law, so Pilate could at least maintain the semblance of being in charge.

Pilate could have declared him guilty of challenging the emperor by calling himself a god, but this would have been hearsay from what the high priests had told him, and the Jesus had never said that to Pilate, so the foundational corpus of Roman law, Leges Duodecim Tabularum (Laws of the Twelve Tablets, instituted by the Decemviri in 449 B.C.E.) forbade hearsay convictions in capital cases.

Pilate might have adjudged him guilty of lèse majesté, of claiming to be a king in opposition to the emperor’s rule over Judæa, but Jesus had made it abundantly clear that his kingship was more philosophical or hypothetical. This man was a mystic, a saint, and clearly not a worldly king like the despicable Herodians, and very far from a Lucius Ælius Seianus (“Sejanus”), whom Tiberius would execute a year after Jesus’s death for conspiring against the emperor. The discussion in these verses is about Jesus as the Jewish king, but the way Pilate speaks (“Behold your king!” and “Shall I crucify your king?”) makes it clear that Pilate is convinced that Jesus is a king, even if one “not of this cosmos”, and that he is not convicting Jesus on the grounds of illegally claiming kingship but that he is appealing to the high priests to forsake their insistent demand that this good man, this philosopher-king, be killed.

Roman law was at the time far from codified, and Pilate was far from Rome besides, so he did have some leeway in how he executed his official decisions as a judge. That leeway was tempered by his always being covertly watched and reported upon; his staffers, eager for advancement and probably eager to escape this distant and alien city, would instantly alert the imperial court to any deviation from the proper execution of his job. Still, some early codified laws were widely respected, and Pilate would have been likely to follow them, at least in his reasoning, especially the Leges Duodecim Tabularum. The original is lost today, but a classical writer named Marcianus gives us a law from the ninth tablet stating: iubet eum, qui hostem concitaverit quive civem hosti tradiderit, capite puniri (“Anyone who has aroused a public enemy or handed over a citizen to a public enemy must be given capital punishment”). What is more, Emperor Augustus had established the Lex Julia Maiestatis, which included a provision making a capital crime of actions taken against Roman citizens and the empire’s security. These may well be the laws that Pilate invoked, since there was abundant evidence that Jesus had a lot of followers and, even if he was not actually advocating insurrection, his teachings were nevertheless bringing them nearly to the point of violent action against Roman citizens living in Judæa.