Fortress Press

Jesus on Trial: A Study of the Gospels, Second Edition

Jesus on Trial

A Study of the Gospels, Second Edition

Gerard S. Sloyan (Author)


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How did Jesus, a much-loved and highly respected Jewish teacher, get sentenced to death as a criminal? The questions of students and scholars about the actual circumstances, legal situation, and subsequent development of the Passion Narratives are here answered in Sloyan's second edition of this reliable resource, first published by Fortress Press in 1973. This second edition includes additional text, updated bibliography and notes, and a new preface.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800638290
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 168
  • Publication Date January 11, 2006


"Unraveling theological and historical strands in the sources of the Gospel narratives, Sloyan seeks to disclose the social and political realities of the trial of Jesus. Let a new generation of Christian and Jewish interpreters take notice!"
— David L. Tiede, Augsburg College

"This new edition of Sloyan's classic study offers a significant contribution to historical Jesus research and to ongoing efforts at improving the climate of contemporary Christian-Jewish relations. His exegetical expertise and knowledge of extra-biblical sources are matched by a dispassionate commitment to inquiry that refuses to settle for convenient solutions or to claim more than the evidence will allow.... Taking issue with many recent studies on the execution of Jesus, Sloyan demonstrates an exemplary devotion to critical responsibility, which, in the long run, will prove more satisfying than the 'quick fix' suggestions that have been proffered."
— Mark Allan Powell, Professor of New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH


"I am convinced that a serious and dispassionate inquiry into the trial of Jesus from the Gospels and contemporary sources is capable of doing something — however little — to improve the climate of Christian-Jewish discourse. This is true if only because so much that has been written on the trial that is harmful to good relations is demonstrably false."

— from Chapter 1

Table of Contents

  1. Scholarship Regarding Jesus' Sentence to Death
    Some Historical and Theological Presuppositions
    A Scholarly "Bent" in All Writing on the Trail?
    The Kind of Writing That the Gospels Are

  2. What Roman Law Allowed
    Something of the History of Roman Palestine in the Period
    What Can Be Known of Pilate's Legal Powers
    The Pilate of Jewish History versus the Pilate of the Gospels
    A Thoroughgoing Historical Skepticism

  3. The Interrogation and Trial according to Mark
    Some Theories on Mark's Target Audience
    Belief in a Suffering Son of Man Rather than Historical Concern
    The Roles of Judas, the Sanhedrin, and the High Priest
    The Use Mark Made of Daniel &:13 and Psalm 110
    Jesus' Confession before the Hight Priest and the Church's End-Time Faith
    challenge and Response: Mark's Faith in Who Jesus Is
    The Charge of Blasphemy
    Jesus Mocked, Betrayed
    Mark's Setting of Times and Places; The Barabbas Story
    The Unavailability of Clear Answers to Clearly Posed Questions

  4. The History of the Tradition of the Interrogatino and Trial in Matthew
    Jesus' Conduct in Trial and Passion Consistent with His Teachings
    A Commonplace on the Temple's End-Time Destruction Made a Charge against Jesus
    Matthew's Further Modifications of Mark and Special Insertions
    Matthew's Primary Concerns Theological

  5. The Inquest and Trial Narratives in the Gospel according to Luke
    The Lukan Supper and Gethsemane Narratives; Peter's Denials
    Jesus before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod Antipas
    Luke's Hypothetical Passion Source Distingquished from Mark
    Theology and Historical Tradition Blended in Luke's Passion Source
    Luke's Christology Requires That Jesus Be Found Guilty and Pilate Innocent
    The Final Days

  6. The Caiaphas and Pilate Narratives in John
    Theories of a Mark-John and a Luke-John Relation
    What John Added to His Hypothetical Source
    John as Master Dramatist

  7. Conclusions
    Acknowledging the Biases of the Gospels as They Come to Us
    Can Gospel Scholarship Reduce Christian Anti-Semitism?
Select Bibliography on the Passion and Trial of Jesus
General Index
Index of Scripture Passages