Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trial of Jesus Christ and The Last Supper


In addition to the tremendous theological and historical literature existing about the trial of Jesus, a number of interesting novels have been written about the life and death of Jesus.   Perhaps the most distinguished are The Last Temptation of Christ, by Nicolas Kazanzakis, and Barabbas, by Par Lagervist.  Both were made into films.

Every few years a film is made about the life of Jesus.   These began almost at the dawn of movie making, and continue up to the present-day Mel Gibson film.  Most of them are spectacular, such as the Cecil B. deMille film, The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Deferring judgment of Gibsons film for the moment, the best one, in my opinion, was the relatively recent film by Franco Zefferelli.

Despite all of the valiant, and often interesting, efforts of theologians, historians, and Biblical scholars, the true sources for the study of the trial of Jesus are the Books of the New Testament, particularly the Gospels, with some earlier references to prophecies in the Old Testament.

If one goes to the Internet, one finds an enormous number of listings under the heading The Trial of Jesus.   I browsed 140 entries, and, I suspect, I could have gone on for quite some time.  Hundreds of published articles in both popular and scholarly journals are available.  Likewise, books on the subject exist in the thousands.

Faced with this overwhelming literature, I chose to use the primary source, the New Testament, and a sampling of books.   The books selected were from titles that caught my eye in bookstores, and represent a truly random selection, with one exception, that of Michael Grant (1977).  After reviewing the contents of each book, I alternately selected from books that were written by believers and by the uncommitted.  The first group of books was written from the perspective of committed Christians who were intent on accepting the accounts in the Gospel as unreservedly true and accurate.  The second group of books was written by historians and scholars who approached the trial of Jesus as a verifiable historical event.  Without identifying the camp that they belong to, here are the most interesting and useful of the books I used in writing this study.  I am sure that there are dozens of books that interested readers find missing from this brief list, but, despite these omissions, I am convinced that the four Gospels are the necessary sources.  Everything else can be considered interpretation, and that, after reading the Gospels for ones self, is pretty much what anyone can do.


The Holy Bible.   Authorized King James Version.  Oxford University Press.

The New English Bible. With the Apocrypha.  Oxford University Press.


Boice, J.M. and P.G. Ryken.   2002.  Jesus on Trial.  Authentic Publications.

Brandon, S.G.   1979.  The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth.  Stein and Day.

Bunch, C., editor.   2000.  Jesus Final Week.  Intervarsity Press.

Chandler, Walter M. 1976 (reprint) The Trial of Jesus.   2 vols.  The Harrison Company.

Grant, Michael.   1977.  Jesus:  An Historians Review of the Gospels.  Scribners.

Grant, Michael.   1992.  Readings in the Classical Historians.  Scribners.

Kazanakis, N.   1960.  The Last Temptation of Christ.  Simon and Schuster.

Lagervist, Par.   1958.  Barabbas.  Knopf.

Mencken, H.L.   1965.  Treatise on the Gods.  Knopf.

Schonfield, Hugh J.   1966.  The Passover Plot.  Bantam Books.

Strobel, Lee.   1998.  The Case for Christ:  A Journalists Personal Investigation of the    Evidence for Jesus.  Zondervan.

Wilson, A.N.   1992.  Jesus:  A Life.  Fawcett Columbine.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'