Trial of Jesus Set for Carson-Newman

A Trial Supreme – Prosecutor Mark Osler listens to Jeanne Bishop as she argues against the execution of Jesus Christ during a recent event held in Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. Osler and Bishop will retry the case at Carson-Newman Monday evening.

Chicago Public Defender and Former Federal Prosecutor to Argue Case

Carson-Newman College will offer a new perspective on the world’s most historic criminal case at 7 p.m. Monday, February 27. The Trail of Jesus will be held in Thomas Recital Hall, part of Tarr Music Center.

The trial, actually the sentencing phase of Jesus Christ, is “ideal for Lent,” said C-N Campus Minister Rev. Nenette Measels.

“Lent uses the 40 days prior to Easter to focus the attention of believers on the life of Christ and the ultimate sacrifice. This experience, which will happen in the first week of the season, offers us the opportunity to think about Christ’s death in ways I suspect never crossed our minds. I expect it to be a powerful event.”

Professor Mark Osler, of Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas and a former federal prosecutor, will argue for Rome while Jesus will be represented by Jeanne Bishop, assistant public defender in Cook County, Illinois and adjunct professor at Northwestern School of Law. Volunteers will fulfill the roles of the judge and witnesses for the prosecution and defense.

Osler and Bishop bring interesting perspectives to the trial. Osler authored Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment and has worked on sentencing issues for most of his career. He was on faculty at Baylor Law School before joining St. Thomas in 2010.

Bishop, a board member of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langer, who was shot to death along with her husband and their unborn child in 1990. Bishop was in attendance for the bill signing that stopped capital punishment in Illinois and was given the pen the governor used to sign the document.

Osler and Bishop note that their hope that presenting a familiar story in a new format grants participants and attendees new material to think about.

“It's important sometimes to challenge ourselves in a different way, and that's what we're trying to do here,” said Osler, who holds that Christians view the death penalty in isolation from their faith. “By mashing (political issues and our faith) together, we're hopefully forcing people to confront those two things together."

"I've been reading the Gospel really closely in preparing for this, and I'm noticing things I've never noticed before," said Bishop. “If we call ourselves Christians, then … we're followers of Jesus Christ, and if we're going to be that, we need to look at what he said and what he did and the way that he lived and died.”

For more information, contact C-N Campus Ministries Office at 865-471-3537.