The Case of the Disappearance of the Body of Jesus of Nazareth
Translated by Nikolai and Mimi Tsankov
Stephan Gechev (1911 - 2000) is a Bulgarian writer whose achievements deserve world recognition. When awarding him the Greek Golden Cross Of The Legion in 1996, Ambassador Atanasios Sideris borrowed a term from Plato to compliment the Bulgarian author on his spiritual greatness and called Gechev "kalos kai agathos." A year later France made him Chevalier de l'Ordre de l'art et de la littérature for his "contribution to world art."
In his plays The Case Of The Disappearance Of The Body Of Jesus Of Nazareth (1962-72), the translation of which was staged in Washington, D.C. in 1995, and The Golgotha Of Barabbas, he created two of the best contemporary interpretations of Jesus Christ's personality. They present a new, unfamiliar image of Jesus Christ. The Son of God does not appear on the stage, but because of His very absence he enjoys a stronger, freer, and more captivating presence in the hearts of both the protagonists and the audience. In fact, the author does introduce the tragically beautiful face of Jesus Christ taken down from the cross through the evidence of Joseph of Arimathaea: "His eyelids were so thin from the suffering that his black pupils showed through under them like He was watching me through a veil." From there on, however, the protagonists discover and fill Him with their own feelings, desires and aspirations. This is very important for the contemporary individual, for Christ becomes neither an icon nor a dogma. He is, instead, a spiritual space for the fulfillment of modern man who must reconcile an enormous amount of new knowledge and culture with inherited Christian morality, which will serve as the basis for more noble conduct. This anti-dogmatic communication takes in the entire being of seeking and devout individuals. The openness of Jesus Christ is important in the 21st century as intense communication between world cultures and religions begins.
The achievements of nuclear physics, molecular biology, archaeology, palaeo-archaeology, and the secrets of Orphism - all that is a part of the present-day spirituality - constitute a field of self-development within the sphere of Jesus Christ's boundless love for man. The Gnostic and existential satisfaction from the appurtenance of truth could also prove to be an imitation of Christ, imitatio Christi, a view that is an important contribution of this play to the modern, secular world and to traditional Christian literature mainly dedicated to ecstasy. The Judge in the trial chooses truth for his own Calvary, but this is a Calvary that sets him free, giving him both impetus and infinity: "You will crucify me… So what? I have been crucified for centuries, hanging between "yes" and "no", between the law and the miracle. Finally, thanks to this case, I have discovered the truth. And I have become whole, and sound. Yes, I was lonely. Desperately lonely. But complete. I have found peace of mind. Because I have found my truth. I don't really care whether this truth is the Empire's truth, or not. You cannot crucify me now, when my soul has its truth. I won't feel the pain. No one can make me suffer, nothing bring me joy, or death, or life."
This translation of The Case of the Disappearance of the Body of Jesus of Nazareth is based on the original, Bulgarian-language production of the play directed by Mladen Kisselov in 1989 for Theatre 199 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Nikolai and Mimi Tsankov's English-language translation of Gechev's play was performed in 1994 at the Columbia Arts Center in Washington, D.C.
The Case of the Disappearance of the Body of Jesus of Nazareth
JOSEPH OF ARIMATHAEA
THE VOICE OF PONTIUS PILATE, THE EMPEROR'S PROCURATOR
PART I. WITNESSES
THE JUDGE: At last, today we are here to consider the case of the disappearance of the body of Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, father unknown, condemned to death at the request of the Jews, crucified and died on the cross last Friday. Call the first witness. You are the first witness. Approach. Identify yourself and describe what you do.
1st WITNESS: My name is Joseph from Arimathaea. Landowner. Member of Sanhedran.
THE JUDGE: Swear on your life that you will tell the truth.
1st WITNESS: I swear.
THE JUDGE: You requested that the Emperor's Procurator give you the body of Jesus Christ to bury. Why did you do this?
1st WITNESS: There were rumors that His followers would steal the dead body and then proclaim to the people that He had resurrected, as He himself predicted. That's why.
THE JUDGE: If the followers stole the body then they know that their Teacher hasn't resurrected. Ergo, He isn't the Son of God and has lied to them. Do you think that they, too, could lie to the whole world about a thing so great as heaven and divinity?
1st WITNESS: Even if they know that their Teacher hasn't resurrected, when the word spreads they, His followers, will gain great fame and respect. This will ease their conscience and maybe years later, when the whole universe believes in their lie, they will believe in it too. You know how easy it is to believe in any lie, which promises heaven and immortality.
THE JUDGE: Would you believe such a lie?
1st WITNESS: Do I have to answer such a personal question?
THE JUDGE: You are before the court.
1st WITNESS: I prefer to die knowing that I'll be dead for ever instead of standing before heaven's gate begging for immortality.
THE JUDGE: So you don't believe in your God who promises you resurrection?
1st WITNESS: At the end of the world and for everybody.
THE JUDGE: So, you do believe in something?
1st WITNESS: Dogmas give structure to society. I live well in this society and I don't want it to collapse around me. That's why I believe in following the dogmas in which I don't believe.
THE JUDGE: Isn't something in which you really believe?
1st WITNESS: There is emptiness full of atoms, which move aimlessly for all eternity. They unite and scatter senselessly.
THE JUDGE: I am here to learn the facts. Only the facts will help me to find the truth. I want to hear what really happened.
1st WITNESS: I laid the body in a small cave in the garden of my country house, sealed the entrance with a big stone slab and placed two armed soldiers to guard it. That was on Friday morning.
THE JUDGE: Did you personally see the body? Were you certain that He was dead?
1st WITNESS: Yes, He was dead. His face was gaunt and yellow with bluish shadows. His eyelids were so thin from the suffering that his black pupils shown through under them like He was watching me through a veil. The wound on His hip wasn't bleeding. He was ice cold and stiff. Yes. He was indeed dead.
THE JUDGE: The Court is aware that your slaves brought the body. Do you think that they could have been mistaken? Could they have brought the body of one of the two thieves crucified with him?
1st WITNESS: I knew Him. I've seen Him.
THE JUDGE: When and where?
1st WITNESS: When he arrived in Jerusalem on a mule, when He drove out the dealers from the temple and when we condemned Him eight days ago. I will never forget His face… Do you really think it's more likely for a thief to resurrect than the Son of God?
THE JUDGE: You have no right to ask questions. When and how did you learn that the body had disappeared?
1st WITNESS: On Sunday morning, a slave ran from my country house and brought the news. I went straight there without telling anyone. All the slaves were scared to death. The two soldiers were still beside themselves. They could barely say what had happened.
THE JUDGE: Well, tell us what had happened.
1st WITNESS: At midnight, when they were guarding the grave, a blazing light suddenly blinded them. There was a thunderous blast and they felt the earth shake. They fell on the ground, trembling with fear. When they came to, they saw the grave open and the body wasn't there. That's what they told me at first.
THE JUDGE: At first?
1st WITNESS: Later, one of them told me something else. He said that after the nightfall some man appeared before him.
THE JUDGE: What man?
1st WITNESS: A man with a torch in his hand. They didn't know him. He sat down with them and they started talking. It was chilly that night and the man had a jug of wine with him. He offered some to warm them up.
THE JUDGE: Didn't the soldiers find this suspicious?
1st WITNESS: They're not from here - strong, but simple people. Barely speak the language. They were ordered not to let anyone approach the grave. The man didn't approach it, he just sat with them.
THE JUDGE: Then what?
1st WITNESS: After a few sips they felt dizzy. They tried to stand up but fell back on the ground and lost consciousness. When they awoke the stone slab had been removed and body was gone.
THE JUDGE: That's what of the guards said. What about the other, did he agree with him?
1st WITNESS: No, he didn't. He insisted to the end that the story with the blinding light was truth.
THE JUDGE: Huh. Maybe he was afraid he would be punished for drinking wine on duty?
1st WITNESS: Maybe. But I promised them forgiveness and a reward for telling the truth.
THE JUDGE: For reward one might lie.
1st WITNESS: Doesn't the truth deserve a reward?
THE JUDGE: What do you think happened?
1st WITNESS: Some of his followers snuck into the garden of my country house. One of them gave the soldiers wine, which had sleeping herbs in it. As soon as the soldiers fell asleep, the others came, removed the slab and stole the body. And the very next morning the rumor that He had been resurrected spread. That's it.
THE JUDGE: How many slaves lifted the stone slab to close the grave?
1st WITNESS: Fourteen. With ropes and levers.
THE JUDGE: And He had only 12 followers?
1st WITNESS: Eleven. The twelfth betrayed Him and then hanged him.
THE JUDGE: Well, it has come to the court's attention that on the night when the body disappeared all the followers of the Nazarene were gathered at the house of Simon. Therefore, your hypothesis that they have abducted the boy seems to be in error.
1st WITNESS: If it is error, then the only conclusion we can draw is that He must have
had other, secret followers.
THE JUDGE: Maybe you are one of them.
1st WITNESS: I voted in the Sanhedran for His death.
THE JUDGE: That doesn't matter. Judas betrayed him too, and as you know, he was His most faithful follower.
1st WITNESS: My life and my service place above reproach. Besides that, as I said, I hate anyone who wants to demolish the structure of the society of which I am a part.
THE JUDGE: Then, why did you bury Him in your garden, and what's more, in the grave that you prepared for your self? Jesus ought to have been buried with the other criminals, deep in the ground. And there, not just two but ten soldiers would have guarded the grave. Then it would have been much more difficult to drug the soldiers and dig up the grave. Isn't that so?
1st WITNESS: I refuse to respond to such an accusation.
THE JUDGE: But, I do not accuse Joseph, my friend. I just suspect you. And you know that no one can be convicted on mere suspicion. I don't have any further questions. May be THE PROSECUTION and THE DEFENSE would like to ask you something?
You said, Joseph, it's possible that Jesus had other secret followers. Maybe more that we're aware of. In Judea, there were and still are many prophets. Why is it only Jesus that has so many followers? You are a Jew you explain it.
1st WITNESS: Do I have to answer this?
THE JUDGE: Since the question relates to the case, yes, you have to answer it.
1st WITNESS: The prophets before Him proclaimed themselves to be messengers of God. Jesus proclaimed to be God's son.
THE PROSECUTION: Deep within themselves people know that there is no God. Why did they
1st WITNESS: The minority knows and they keep the secret. The majority doubts, but out of fear of death they're willing to believe that God exists, that they are His children, and that someday they will be given forgiveness and resurrection, which means immortality. That's why Jesus had to be resurrected, to convince the masses.
THE PROSECUTION: And why did Jesus need so much to make people believe?
Even sacrificed his life?
1st WITNESS: Not Jesus - His followers. They exploit His supposed resurrection to make the masses believe in their own immortality. Then the people do whatever they're told in the name of the Resurrected. When one believes in eternal life, you can make him achieve the greatest feat or the worst crime. He
defeats death and fears nothing. That's why the resurrection of Jesus is dangerous. The believers could destroy our society. And they will, unless it is proven that Jesus is not resurrected.
THE PROSECUTION: Now, I want you to answer directly and sincerely one question. You, personally, in the depth of your soul, what do you believe, that He is resurrected, or that His body was stolen?
1st WITNESS: The body was stolen.
THE PROSECUTION: But you believe in the dogmas of your religion, don't you? You do believe that at the end of the world there'll be resurrection, and for everybody, don't you?
1st WITNESS: As I said.
THE PROSECUTION: No further questions.
THE DEFENSE: Yes, I would like to discuss this matter with the witness. First of all, I want to register my disagreement with the Honorable Judge. Personally, I haven't any suspicious about you, Honorable Joseph. Not for a moment have I thought you could be a secret follower of the Nazarene. I consider you a loyal citizen, a thinker, who asked himself questions about life and death, faith and society, and has reached the conclusion that even though God doesn't exist, religion is needed as an anchor for society. And if another religion appears, especially one that comes from the depths of the simpleminded, it would demolish the structure of society.
1st WITNESS: Yes…
THE DEFENSE: That's why you requested the body of Jesus. Although you were sure that He wouldn't resurrect, you were afraid that His body could be stolen and the resurrection proclaimed. That's why you buried Him secretly in the grave prepared for you and placed soldiers to guard it. Isn't that so?
1st WITNESS: It is so…
THE DEFENSE: However, it turned out that, as the Honorable Judge said, in spite of your desire to do it right, you inadvertently did it wrong. Wrong? Let's imagine for a moment the impossible. Let's suppose that Jesus was the Son of God and He would've been resurrected. Let's suppose further that He was buried with the other criminals, deep in the ground. As we said before, He would resurrect from there too, wouldn't he? Then if He had resurrected from there, there wouldn't be any about His resurrection. The people would see that the grave hadn't been dug up and that the earth simply opened and He had come out. And, of course, then everybody would believe in His resurrection, even you, even us. Because faced with the obvious, all doubts vanish.
1st WITNESS: Yes…but…
THE DEFENSE: But when you buried Him in the grave and closed it with a stone slab, even He had resurrected, the doubt that He was stolen remains. The stone could be removed as easily by supernatural power as by human hands. Now, do you understand that you haven't done it as wrong as it looks at first glance? You have planted doubts in the hearts of the strongest believers. Now tell me what you wanted to say.
1st WITNESS: Nothing - you're right…Your logic absolves me completely. Thank you.
THE DEFENSE: That's quite all right. I am here to find and reveal the proof people's innocence. If they are innocent. And now if the Honorable Judge will allow me and if you will permit it, I would like to ask you a few questions.
THE JUDGE: I already allowed it.
THE DEFENSE: Thank you. Honorable Joseph, I don't believe you haven't heard that Jesus has performed miracles: turned water into wine; fed thousands of people with a few fish and loaves of bread; given sight to blind people. Well, do you believe that?
1st WITNESS: Do I have to answer questions like these?
THE DEFENSE: Joseph, I'm not questioning you. We are just discussing an interesting issue.
1st WITNESS: There was a man who was born blind, a beggar. He stayed on the crossroad in front of the market place. His eyes were white … like the statue. The gossips say that the beggar was given sight by Jesus.
THE DEFENSE: Do they?
1st WITNESS: Yes. So, we asked him to come to the Sanhedran because there was a fervor building within the public. We questioned him. He said that a man named Jesus saw him, spit into the dirt to make a mud, spread some on his eyes, and told him to go and wash at the well at Siloam. He did so and began to see. I saw him myself. His eyes were black with huge pupils. Clean, like new.
THE JUDGE: And what did you in the Sanhedran do?
1st WITNESS: To deny that he could not see was senseless. But to accept it meant to confirm that Jesus possessed God's power. The matter was extremely delicate. I suggested an explanation that seemed to be plausible and practical.
THE DEFENSE: What was it?
1st WITNESS: Man can do miracles only if he possesses supernatural power. But such power comes not only from God but from the devil as well. I proposed, I think quite reasonably, to admit that Jesus had performed that particular miracle with the power of the devil. We ordered the man to tell everyone that he could see because of the help of the Satan.
THE DEFENSE: Did he comply?
1st WITNESS: He said, "I don't know whether it is from the devil or from God. I just know that I was blind and now I can see.
THE DEFENSE: I have no doubt that you don't believe in God and likewise that you don't believe in the devil. Or…
1st WITNESS: I shall not answer this question.
THE DEFENSE: Why? All right, we'll forget it. So you don't believe that Jesus could perform
1st WITNESS: I don't believe, I know that He has done the miracle about which I told you.
THE DEFENSE: I understand. Do you personally think that the resurrection is a miracle?
1st WITNESS: The resurrection is a blessing from God… if it is possible. I personally don't
believe in it.
THE DEFENSE: I don't have any further questions… If the Honorable Judge…
THE JUDGE: Yes, you may go. Wait a minute. Approach the bench. I want to ask you one last question. But please, tell me the truth. Why did you bury Him in the grave, which you had prepared for yourself? Him, the man for who's death you voted, the man who you condemned as a servant of the devil, who you proclaimed as an enemy of your society?
1st WITNESS: I've explained that.
THE JUDGE: No, no. You could have still buried Him in your garden, but in the ground. Why in your own grave? Why? Please, answer me! I beg you.
1st WITNESS: Because, if He resurrected somehow from my grave it would be like me myself resurrecting. At least a little.
THE JUDGE: Now you can go. Call the second witness. Approach. Don't be afraid. You are not on trial. We just want you help us find the truth. Tell us, what is your name and what do you do?
2nd WITNESS: I'm not afraid. My name is Mary. Before I was a whore. Since the Teacher forgave me, I've have been His servant.
THE JUDGE: Yes, I know this.
2nd WITNESS: If you know, why do you ask?
THE JUDGE: Do you swear in your life, Mary, that you will tell the truth?
2nd WITNESS: I swear I'll tell my truth.
THE JUDGE: What does it mean "my" truth? There is only one truth.
2nd WITNESS: Yes, there is only one truth. But there are many eyes, which see it differently. For them, the truth is like a cloud that floats and changes its shape. For the truth is bright and everlasting like the sun.
THE JUDGE: Your truth is important to us now.
2nd WITNESS: Then, I swear on my life.
THE JUDGE: All right. Tell me now what happened Sunday morning.
2nd WITNESS: It was the most secret and frightening, the greatest, and the most wonderful thing that happened Saturday, before Sunday, at midnight.
THE JUDGE: All right. But you didn't see it. What did you personally see Sunday morning?
2nd WITNESS: You know, don't you? Why do you want me to say it again?
THE JUDGE: Because we want to find the truth.
2nd WITNESS: About what?
THE JUDGE: About what happened with the body of Jesus.
2nd WITNESS: Don't you know? He resurrected! On the third, day, as He said.
THE JUDGE: To whom did He say this? To you?
2nd WITNESS: To me personally.
THE JUDGE: When?
2nd WITNESS: Wait… Yes, it was on the second day before Passover. I remember. It was afternoon. He was relaxing in the cool back room of the house of the other Mary. I entered quietly and kneeled down. He was lying facing the window…flat and still, staring at the sky through the square window. Suddenly, I started shaking inside. The thought that He could be dead gripped me. Then He began to talk. His voice was like a rain for me. No! I can't say like what. Like everything. It comes somewhere from heaven and carries with it melodies I heard in my dreams as child. Yes. Maybe because it was coming from so away that sometimes His voice was tired, monotonous. And it was full of many sounds. Full of the voices of all living creatures, full of the echo of angels' songs, and of the silence of the everlasting night, and of all the voices that I dreamed before my birth…
THE JUDGE: Mary, what was his voice like - monotonous or full of sounds?
2nd WITNESS: Monotonous and full of endless variety of sounds. That's why when I heard Him for the first time I knew He was the Son of God.
THE JUDGE: When did you hear Him for the first time?
2nd WITNESS: It was when the crowd dragged me to kill me. They took me to a small hill north of the city. There, at the bottom, a very old fig tree with leaves graying from dust and sun. He was under it with a few young men. The crowd stopped and started to complain about me. Their shouts were like rolling down a cliff. And they asked Him if I didn't deserve death. Then He uttered something without looking at me. He was sitting with His head down and drawing something on the ground with a twig. And the crowd silenced. And there He was. I understood that my sins had been forgiven, and I was freed from them, ad I was like a newborn.
THE JUDGE: What did He say?
2nd WITNESS: I don't know. I never heard His words. I hear His voice - and I know.
THE JUDGE: How know if you don't hear the words?
2nd WITNESS: You are beautiful. You must understand. Because I am beautiful. Don't think that if I say you are beautiful you are handsome and good-looking. No! To be beautiful means to be in harmony, harmony always being destroyed and rebuilt again.
THE JUDGE: For now let's leave the abstract out of this.
2nd WITNESS: Abstract? This truth, which gives live to everything.
THE JUDGE: Then let's leave out "the truth which gives live to everything." Tell me what He told you when He was laying still and staring through the window.
2nd WITNESS: I told you, didn't I? Then He began to talk and said that He would soon die and on the third day after His death He would resurrect. Nor for Himself but for the people to believe in Him and to change them and the word in His name.
THE PROSECUTION: Remember these words, Your Honor!
THE JUDGE: I remember everything. Go on Mary.
2nd WITNESS: But I've finished. This is what you wanted to know, isn't it?
THE JUDGE: Did you ask Him anything? Why He would die, how He would resurrect?
2nd WITNESS: I never ask Him. He talks, I listen to His voice and I feel that I'm inside Him, a small part of Him. And He is inside me, big like the whole universe, cuddled in my heart.
THE JUDGE: Look, Mary, it's not possible for you to be a small part inside Him and Him to be a small part inside you.
2nd WITNESS: This is the only way when you love.
THE JUDGE: Oh, that's different. You were in love with Him.
2nd WITNESS: Shut up! That's sacrilege! I'm not in love with Him, I love Him! Don't you know the difference? I love Him like the desert loves the wind that changes its face, like the mother who loves the child she hasn't yet born, like…
THE JUDGE: All right, I understand.
2nd WITNESS: No, you don't. You can't understand. You don't know how to listen to voices. If you had heard my voice, you would understand everything. You would simply kneel down and ask me to help you to hear the voice f God.
THE JUDGE: Right now I have more important things to do.
2nd WITNESS: There is nothing more important that to be born again.
THE JUDGE: Maybe. But I'm here to learn the facts.
2nd WITNESS: You're lost. Go ahead, ask.
THE JUDGE: So, you're judging me, your judge.
2nd WITNESS: You are not my judge. Ask.
THE JUDGE: What happened Sunday morning? I want short and precise answers. I'm very tired and sad.
2nd WITNESS: By tradition, on the third day after death the body should be anointed. I didn't sleep. I trembled and cried the whole night.
THE JUDGE: Why did you tremble and cry?
2nd WITNESS: I cried because I knew He was dead. I trembled because I would see Him dead.
THE JUDGE: Wait. Didn't He tell you that He would resurrect on the third day? So you didn't believe His words! You doubted Him!
2nd WITNESS: How can't you understand? I told you already. I never hear His words.
Only His voice.
THE JUDGE: But you said a minute ago that He told you He would die and resurrect on the
THE DEFENSE: This woman doesn't know what she's talking about. She's probably gone crazy from sorrow. The Honorable Judge shouldn't look for logic in her words.
2nd WITNESS: There is no need to defend me. I'm not guilty of anything. Yes, I heard His voice and knew that He would resurrect, I knew it in my heart, but my eyes cried and my body trembled. This not doubt - this a knowledge of the soul which the body cannot understand.
THE JUDGE: All right. All right. Go on. And try to calm down.
2nd WITNESS: We took the vase with the precious ointment and went with the other Mary. We went early because it's a long way to go without any shade. The sun had just come out behind the red hills in the east. It was golden with blazes around it. I carried the ointment to keep myself from crying and trembling.
THE JUDGE: Mary! Was it the ointment that stopped you from crying and trembling?
2nd WITNESS: Of course! I had to be very careful - if my hands shook I would drop the vase and if my eyes filled with tears I would trip. The other Mary and I worried the most about the stone slab. We are weak and we didn't know if we'd find somebody to help us move it. When we got there we entered the grounds through the side door. It was cool under the trees and I handed the vase to the other Mary.
THE JUDGE: You handed the vase because it was cool?
2nd WITNESS: Because we were approaching the grave!
THE JUDGE: I'm sorry… I told you I'm very tired.
2nd WITNESS: You were born tired. But the worst is that you will die tired.
THE JUDGE: People usually die when they get tired.
THE PROSECUTION: How can you allow this woman to talk to you in such a… daring
THE JUDGE: Let her be. And then?
2nd WITNESS: When we approached, we saw that the slab was removed and the cave was open. My whole body began to shake.
THE JUDGE: Why?
2nd WITNESS: I thought they stole the body.
THE PROSECUTION: Please, Your Honor, remember these words!
THE JUDGE: Mary, but you new that He would resurrect!
2nd WITNESS: God, how many times must I say it? Of course I knew. My body didn't know
THE JUDGE: Go on.
2nd WITNESS: I heard the other Mary yelling, "They stole the body of Teacher!" And then I ran into the grave.
THE JUDGE: Why did you stop? Why are you looking at me like this? What did you see there?
2nd WITNESS: I saw the shroud and His turban on the white sand.
THE JUDGE: Why do you say that so… triumphantly?
2nd WITNESS: It means that He had indeed resurrected!
THE JUDGE: Couldn't He be resurrected with the shroud and the turban?
2nd WITNESS: Man always resurrects naked. What use is clothing to the resurrected?
THE JUDGE: One might suppose… Then?
2nd WITNESS: Then the other Mary came. She saw the empty grave ad began to cry. I did too… I was looking at marks left no the sand by the His body and I was crying.
THE JUDGE: But why were you crying?
2nd WITNESS: What do you mean "why"? He wasn't there!
THE JUDGE: But you knew that He had resurrected, didn't you? You should have been happy.
2nd WITNESS: Yes. But He wasn't there.
THE JUDGE: Go on.
2nd WITNESS: We went out crying. Suddenly I saw a man nearby in the alley. I recognized him - a young gardener of Joseph's. I called him. He turned and I asked him: "Young man, do you know who opened the grave and took the body of the Teacher?" He looked at me and said, "Don't you recognize me, Mary?" I heard the other Mary say, "If you know where they put Him, tell us because we have come to anoint the body in accordance with the tradition." But he continued to stare at me. Then I asked him, "Teacher, is it you?" He smiled faintly and said something. The He turned and walked away…
THE JUDGE: Well, who was He? Jesus or the gardener?
2nd WITNESS: The Teacher of course.
THE JUDGE: But you said you recognized Him as the gardener.
2nd WITNESS: Do you think that the Resurrected cannot take the image of a gardener?
THE JUDGE: Then how did you recognize Him?
2nd WITNESS: He wasn't in my heart…
THE JUDGE: What? Speak louder.
2nd WITNESS: I'm saying, He wasn't in my heart anymore. He had resurrected from there, too.
THE JUDGE: Come on now, stop crying. You should be happy if you believe that He was resurrected.
2nd WITNESS: I don't believe, I know He has resurrected. That's why I'm crying.
THE JUDGE: I don't have any desire to question her anymore. THE PROSECUTION?
THE PROSECUTION: Woman, you must answer may questions clearly and precisely. This is a court. I'm not as patient as the Honorable Judge. Listen carefully. How did you find out that the Nazarene was buried at Joseph's country house, and, what's more, in the cave.
2nd WITNESS: Some Joseph' people told the other Mary… and she told me.
THE PROSECUTION: Did you tell this to His followers?
2nd WITNESS: I don't know. I can't recall talking to them. I was silent and I was listening and I was waiting.
THE PROSECUTION: What for?
2nd WITNESS: Something.
THE PROSECUTION: What?
2nd WITNESS: I don't know. The grave couldn't be the end. It wasn't even the beginning.
THE PROSECUTION: Did He have many followers?
2nd WITNESS: Followers? I don't know… yes. He does. Many.
THE PROSECUTION: How many?
2nd WITNESS: Ten. No, twenty… Tens of thousands.
THE PROSECUTION: So many! And you are one of them, aren't you?
2nd WITNESS: Follower? No. His - yes.
THE PROSECUTION: What was His teaching?
2nd WITNESS: His teaching? I don't know. I don't think there was teaching. I had reached the point where if I needed to love I could love only animals. Everyone was like that. And He came to be the man we could love.
THE PROSECUTION: So, He wasn't God but a man.
2nd WITNESS: He was God. And He was a man.
THE PROSECUTION: You told the Honorable Judge that when you saw the cave open you thought: "They stole the body of the Teacher." Why?
2nd WITNESS: For me the resurrection was stealing too.
THE PROSECUTION: Don't play with me.
2nd WITNESS: I'm not playing. I'm telling my truth, as I swore.
THE PROSECUTION: So you insist that you didn't know that the body would be stolen? Think before answering because you could be subject to severe punishment for perjury.
2nd WITNESS: What punishment? You would kill me? All the better, because I might resurrect too and I will be close to Him again.
THE PROSECUTION: You said that the resurrected had no use for clothing, didn't you?
2nd WITNESS: Yes, I did.
THE PROSECUTION: When you left the cave, you saw a man who you thought was the gardener.
2nd WITNESS: Yes.
THE PROSECUTION: But when he turned, you saw He was Jesus.
2nd WITNESS: When He began to talk… Yes, it was the Teacher.
THE PROSECUTION: Now, be careful. This man was wearing clothes or was He naked?
2nd WITNESS: Of course He was wearing clothes!
THE PROSECUTION: And you are saying that you recognized Him as Jesus.
2nd WITNESS: Didn't I tell you? It was He!
THE PROSECUTION: You were mistaken. It wasn't Him.
2nd WITNESS: How clearly I understand your words. It's because it's not necessary to hear you voice.
THE PROSECUTION: You said that the resurrected had no use with clothes. And this man was wearing clothes!
2nd WITNESS: Maybe when a resurrected takes the image of a gardener it needs the gardener's clothes.
THE PROSECUTION: If so, how would you know that it was the Resurrected taken the image of a gardener, and not the gardener himself.
2nd WITNESS: I told you. I recognized Him because my heart was empty like his grave. And the voice! The most important thing. God, how could I forget! The voice! It was His voice.
THE PROSECUTION: You said before that the Nazarene had told you He would resurrect.
2nd WITNESS: Who?
THE PROSECUTION: The Nazarene. Jesus.
2nd WITNESS: Why do you call Him the Nazarene.
THE PROSECUTION: Because He was born in Nazareth.
2nd WITNESS: He was?
THE PROSECUTION: And so you said that He told you personally He would resurrect on the third day after His death.
2nd WITNESS: Yes, that's He told me.
THE PROSECUTION: And you went to anoint the body n the third day, didn't you?
2nd WITNESS: Together with the other Mary.
THE PROSECUTION: Do you trust Jesus?
2nd WITNESS: Me?
THE PROSECUTION: If you had known that He would resurrect on the third day, what's the sense of anointing His dead body on the third day?
2nd WITNESS: That's the custom.
THE PROSECUTION: That's the custom for the dead. But you knew he would resurrect. And even so you went to anoint the body!
2nd WITNESS: The other Mary said that… we must follow the custom.
THE PROSECUTION: For the dead. But you that he would resurrect didn't you?
2nd WITNESS: Yes, I did.
THE PROSECUTION: Then?
2nd WITNESS: The other Mary didn't know… or may be she didn't believe. But I believed.
THE PROSECUTION: And you went with ointment.
2nd WITNESS: Yes, I did.
THE PROSECUTION: Why? You don't know how to answer, that's clear. You said you brought precious ointment. Correct?
2nd WITNESS: Yes, the most precious. Lebanese ointment.
THE PROSECUTION: Very well. You, His followers, are poor people. Where did you find the money to buy the most precious ointment? Who bought it? Or maybe rich, secret followers gave it to you?
2nd WITNESS: No. I bought it.
THE PROSECUTION: Where did you get the money? Where? Answer!
2nd WITNESS: I slept with a very rich man.
THE JUDGE: Mary, why would you do that? He forgave you and you were absolved. That's terrible… How could you do that?
2nd WITNESS: I did it for Him. It's not a sin. For Him I had to buy the most precious ointment.
THE PROSECUTION: Why, if knew that He would resurrect?
2nd WITNESS: I told you already. I knew it but my body didn't. You are pulling me off the path of my truth and you are making me stumble in the dark, helpless like a child. My body and my brain are helpless. But not me. My truth has its own consciousness and it is much brighter that yours, like the sun is brighter than the moon.
THE PROSECUTION: I don't have any further questions.
THE JUDGE: THE DEFENSE?
2nd WITNESS: How much longer will you torture me?
THE DEFENSE: No, I won't torture you. Just the opposite. All the time I was trying to understand you. And I think I did. That's why I don't want to question you. Instead I just want to talk with you.
2nd WITNESS: What did you understand?
THE DEFENSE: I understood your way of thinking. Yes. Let's take, for example, the story of that 'infamous' ointment. Just before it was said: If you had known that Jesus would resurrect it wouldn't have been necessary to bring the ointment. Therefore you didn't believe that your Teacher would resurrect. But it's only a dogmatic brain that uses this narrow logic. You believed that Jesus would resurrect. No, you wanted to believe it with your heart and your soul because you loved Him. But you are a smart woman as well and you know that the resurrection is an incredible miracle. Wait. Let me finish. And even though your heart believed completely, your brain doubted it. That's why you were shaking and crying when you were approaching the grave. You believed that you would find the Teacher resurrected even though you knew how impossible it was. You knew that ointment had to be bought. And you bought it! Yes, I agree, on price of sin. No, I say not sin, but sacrifice! So, this disagreement between soul and mind, between belief and doubt, combined with the hypersensitivity of your personality, clarify for me the apparent illogicality in your words. Am I right?
2nd WITNESS: I don't understand. Maybe…may be you are…
THE DEFENSE: All right. You see I intend neither to accuse you, nor to torture you, but to help you understand yourself. That is why I would like to talk to you - friendly and openly. Do you mind?
2nd WITNESS: Not really.
THE DEFENSE: We said that for a man to resurrect was a great miracle… an impossible thing. Yet you're insisting that you have almost witnessed this. Let's
assume it is true. Have you ever asked yourself who might need this miracle?
2nd WITNESS: I don't understand.
THE DEFENSE: I can explain. Earlier, you said that we, the people, had reached the point where if we had the need to love, we could love only animals. Am I quoting you correctly?
2nd WITNESS: Yes, but.
THE DEFENSE: Let me finish. You meant that we, people, had become so mean, selfish and cruel to each other that we were turning into beasts. Right?
2nd WITNESS: I meant… what I meant…
THE DEFENSE: Exactly! So Jesus had come to teach us that we can and we must be better, love each other and even sacrifice our life for others. That was what you meant. But, we the people didn't get the message and killed Him. Wonderful! That sets an excellent example of a supreme sacrifice, which proves the real value of His teaching. Great! Just why did He have to resurrect? It makes his sacrifice meaningless, because it's easy to die for the people when you know that there will be resurrection for eternal life on the third day. What do you think?
2nd WITNESS: Maybe He wanted us to know that He was free… free to resurrect even. Every man has the right to… I don't know. I just thought of it, may be its not true. You've overshadowed the light of my truth.
THE DEFENSE: No, just the opposite, what you're saying makes sense! The question is whether we, the people need this absolute freedom and if we do, are it healthy to have it? Yes, if we know that we will resurrect, we will be free. Free to do whatever we want. Some of us will do well, some bad. Isn't that so?
2nd WITNESS: Yes, if I know I am immortal. I am free. And yet I obey the law of immortality. This law I can never violate.
THE DEFENSE: Yes, but this law of yours…
2nd WITNESS: It is not my law! It is the law of immortality! That law which will grant me resurrection!
THE DEFENSE: As you will. This law, does it comply with the public one?
2nd WITNESS: It is the only public law.
THE DEFENSE: Even so, let's back to the question: Doesn't your Teacher discount His sacrifice by resurrecting? Isn't it better to assume that He hasn't resurrected in order to glorify His sacrifice? To give up the belief, that He is God, or God's son and to promote Him as a supreme human being?
2nd WITNESS: You're cunning. You're like that one over there, only much slicker. What about hope? The superman who dies as a human, can he give a hope to people? Don't you know that is much easier to die for people then to resurrect for them?
THE DEFENSE: Don't you think that if one for the people, one will be resurrected by the people anyway?
2nd WITNESS: You! You're turning your ignorance into knowledge and your disbelief into faith…
THE DEFENSE: No further questions.
THE JUDGE: You can go, Mary. No, wait! Come back. I want to ask you one last question. Not as a Judge, but as a person and as friend of yours… Only, I beg you, please tell me the truth! Are you really convinced, in your heart and soul, that that man wasn't the gardener, but Jesus?
2nd WITNESS: There are frightful moments, especially at night…
THE JUDGE: Now leave! And don't ever come back.
THE DEFENSE: The Honorable Judge is tired. Shall we postpone the case till tomorrow?
THE JUDGE: No, we will hear the last witness. Call the last witness. Approach. Who are, you, what is your name and what do you do for a living?
3rd WITNESS: Peasants we are…
THE JUDGE: Your name?
3rd WITNESS: Master, men like me have names only for their fellowmen… For the masters we are peasants. Thomas is my name.
THE JUDGE: Thomas, swear no your life that you will only tell this court the truth.
3rd WITNESS: Are you gonna try me or somethin'?
THE JUDGE: For now we will only question you. Now swear.
3rd WITNESS: Yeah, why not… I swear.
THE JUDGE: You've been telling everybody that you saw Jesus after His resurrection. Is that true?
3rd WITNESS: What? That I've been telling everybody?
THE JUDGE: No, that you saw Him.
3rd WITNESS: You asked me to swear I'd tell you the truth, I did swear. Now I want to ask you, master, which truth should I tell you - one that you wonna hear, or the one that I know?
THE JUDGE: I want to hear everything the way it was, and I swear that nothing will happen to you.
3rd WITNESS: Well, if we both swear… Anyway, what could happen to me? It can't be worse than what's now.
THE JUDGE: Now cut it out and say me what you saw last Sunday.
3rd WITNESS: Oh, boy, I'm telling you!
THE JUDGE: You better tell it the way you've told a hundred times before, haven't you?
3rd WITNESS: If you see the miracle I saw, I bet you'd do the same.
THE JUDGE: What miracle?
3rd WITNESS: You know what. The guy, the crucified one, appeared.
THE JUDGE: What do you mean - appeared? Like a ghost?
3rd WITNESS: No, what are talking about? He was like you and like me.
THE JUDGE: All right, you better star from the very beginning.
3rd WITNESS: As I was just about to tell you, every Sunday we go to the city market. There we sell a bit, buy a bit… in fact. What can you buy with our money?
THE JUDGE: I don't want to hear that now. Tell me about the miracle.
3rd WITNESS: It is a miracle for us to buy what we need… O.K. O.K…. When we arrived, we noticed the whole market was buzzing. We asked around and found out they tried the man, the Messiah, sentenced to death, racked him on Friday, he died and they buried him. And three nights later He resurrected! Boy… but later word got around that everything was a lie, told by the Messiah's followers so the people would believe He was God's son. The followers stole the body and then spread the rumor.
THE JUDGE: And what did the people at the market believe?
3rd WITNESS: They were kind of split.
THE JUDGE: And how about you?
3rd WITNESS: Me? I'm simple man, you know, and I think for myself. So, I thought I'd never heard of that - a dead man resurrecting!
THE JUDGE: According to your religion, all dead shall resurrect one day, right?
3rd WITNESS: Right, but who knows when. And we'll resurrect at God's will - God is almighty.
THE JUDGE: So, you do believe that God exists and He is almighty. Then why didn't you believe that He had resurrected His own son?
3rd WITNESS: I told you already. My simple brain couldn't take it: a dead man coming back to life! But when that thing happened…
THE JUDGE: What thing?
3rd WITNESS: You know what. The thing you asked me to come here for.
THE PROSECUTION: Watch your mouth, peasant! You are talking to a Judge!
3rd WITNESS: Forgive us, master. Rustics are like oxen. If you leave them, they stop or curve off. But when you whip them, they go straight and even trot. Forgive us…
THE JUDGE: It's all right. Now tell us what happened and how it happened. Wait! Why do you always refer to yourself as "we", like royalty?
3rd WITNESS: Oh, no, the royal stuff is different. The kings say "we" 'cause the whole kingdom is behind them, the soldiers and slaves. We, the peasants, use "we" 'cause if I say "I", I'm nobody. And when I use "we' I somehow encourage myself. It feels like I'm not alone. That's why.
THE JUDGE: All right. Go on.
3rd WITNESS: Anyway. So we sold what we had, bought what we needed, and headed home. As we walked, we talked - about the prices, about the market. But my thoughts kept turning to whether the Prophet resurrected or whether it was all scam, My brain was telling me it couldn't be, but my heart was trembling at the thought He might've resurrected.
THE JUDGE: Why on earth you were so happy? It wasn't you that resurrected, was it?
3rd WITNESS: It was my heart, not me. And master, why not? What kind of life do we have? You break your back from down to dusk sweating like a pig. And for what? For apiece of bread, which you don't get everyday. It's a beautiful life, right, but only for the rich. For us it's ugly, like hell. And you cant even tell when your time is up and you're gonna die. What did you get from life? What did you live for any way? For pain like an animal. See, if I know that God's hasn't forgotten me, that I will resurrect some day too - and not like a ghost, but with my own body, and get a beautiful life in heaven - that's a different story. Then I'll say to myself: yeah, man, you had it for almost fifty years, but now it's fun forever. You're not gonna plow or dig anymore and you'll still have everything. That's why my heart was trembling. And if you really wonna know, I'll tell you something. When I'm sure of my own resurrection, by the resurrection of the prophet, maybe I won't be such an ox anymore. What they gonna do to me? Kill me? Then I'll resurrect - I don't care. Then I'll say what I have to say in this life.
THE PROSECUTION: Please, may the Honorable Judge remember this!
THE JUDGE: All right, I hear you. You carried away again. Weren't you supposed to tell the court what happened on your way home?
3rd WITNESS: Yes, that's right. Forgive me. So, we were walking on the road and
and somehow the conversation turned to the Resurrected again. I was just walking. At some point, a fellow caught up me and asked me, "What are those people talking about?" I looked at him - he was young but I couldn't see him well because the sun was glaring behind him. As we walked I told him what happened and what we heard at the market. Then he went, "How 'bought you, have you seen that prophet?"
THE JUDGE: Have you seen him?
3rd WITNESS: You bet! I saw him a few times. Once, it was a long time ago, he passed y our village. He was with about 10 men, later we found out they were his followers, always with him. The other time I saw him at the lake, talking to a huge crowd. He spoke beautifully. He warmed my heart.
THE JUDGE: About what was He talking?
3rd WITNESS: I can't remember now… But the voice! His voice was gentle, but strong. You just sit and listen to it.
THE PROSECUTION: Please, may the Honorable Judge take note that the witness remembers?
only these particular words of the Nazarene.
THE JUDGE: I know. What happened next?
3rd WITNESS: So the man asked me: "If He was resurrected and you saw Him, would you recognize Him?" And just then something struck me… may be I got scared. "Of course I would recognize Him", I said, "but I don't think that He resurrected, and even if He has, do you think He'll show up before the us?" Before who, then?" - He asked. "The scholars from the Sanhedran that didn't believe He was God's son and killed Him. He would appear in front of them, to make them feel ashamed!" So the man smiled and said: "If He appears at He will do it before somebody like you so that you believe fully and are saved. Because right now you believe and yet you don't. Isn't that so?" That's right", I said. And he went on: "He has come to this world not for the strong and the rich, but for the poor and weak, to save the innocents." Then I started to wonder how come that guy knew so much about the prophet's teaching and I asked him: "Are you one of His followers?" He smiled at me again and said: "No, I am not, but I know what He preaches." As we were chatting we got to the village, and, 'cause we kind of became friends, I asked him in for a drink. I knew a woman, Ruth, she had great wine, smelling of sun and mountains. The man agreed. Do I have to go on?"
THE JUDGE: But of course! That's why you are here.
3rd WITNESS: Cause you got quiet and I thought I was talking too much again. So we walked into Ruth's house and sat at the table with the others. We chatted, we laughed, and somehow we went on about the Crucified again. The man asked what we made of the resurrection. Then one of my neighbors whispered in my ear: "this guy might be send by the Sanhedran, or by the Romans, to catch us. I'm going home." Soon after that everyone left.
THE JUDGE: And you stayed. Why?
3rd WITNESS: What could I do? I asked Him to come with me and it wasn't right to leave Him like that. So we stayed, both of us, and Ruth, the hostess.
THE JUDGE: Why did you stop?
3rd WITNESS: Oh, boy, it's the toughest part. I don't know what to tell you.
THE JUDGE: Tell me the way it was. Didn't we swear: You, to tell the truth, and me, not to punish you for telling it.
3rd WITNESS: The truth. What is the truth… anyway? So when everyone left, the man asked me why they did so. "they think I'm a spy, don't they?" "I don't know", I said, "Nowadays the people don't even trust themselves." Why didn't you go? Aren't you afraid" "No, I'm not" I said, "I'm good with people and I can tell - you're a nice man. It's in you voice and in you eyes. It was the same with the crucified one - when I saw Him for the first time I understood He was a good man, a holy man. So He looked at me softly, kindly, it felt like a salve to a wound, and said with a gentle smile: "you told if you saw Him you'd recognize Him. Now, look at me." So I looked at Him. It was dim in the room, almost twilight and suddenly His face brightened up. I'm telling you His face brightened up with a soft, soft light and His eyes looked at me like an angel. For a moment, I lost my mind - it was Him, the very one! How come I didn't recognize Him before? I felt great fear and joy, my heart was pounding, I couldn't move, I could only sit and watch. The, the woman, Ruth, she was standing aside, suddenly cried out: "Oh, God", and threw herself down before Him. And the man told her: "Don't kneel down, I'm not an idol. Stand up, woman, and be joyous, because you are the first to recognize me. You are blessed, both of you, because, because you merited my appearance, so you can believe in me. But twice blessed shall be those who believe in My resurrection without seeing Me." Ant the woman got up and said, "Oh, God, let me bring my children so You can bless them." He smiled and said, "Bring them here."
THE PROSECUTION: Did he say anything when the woman called him "God"?
3rd WITNESS: If He's resurrected, He's God, isn't He?
THE JUDGE: You will question him later. Continue, Thomas.
3rd WITNESS: So she got the kids - a boy and a girl, little ones. She's pushing them towards the man, they're pulling back. Maybe they got scared by the light surrounding Him. The youngest one started to cry, and the man took her hand, pulled her close, and she stopped. He laid His hands on their heads and said, "I bless you in faith, in hope, in love." And me, I was sitting watching Him and thinking to myself: You dumb rustic, when are you gonna see a man resurrected from dead, and what's more, a son of God? Why don't you ask Him so you'll know? So I started to talk and said to Him, "God", I said, "can a dead body come back to life? Nobody's ever heard or seeing anything like that." And He looked at me with a kind of wonder, I thought, and said, "But you, you steel don't believe, do you?" "Not that I don't believe you", I said. "Don't be angry with me, but I just don't know. I think that those who haven't seen you will believe in your resurrection much easier than I that saw you". And He smiled at me and turned His palms up. And I saw the wounds from the nails. They'd begun to heal but were still wet. "Now do you believe, doubting Thomas?" How does He knows my name I thought. "Yes, God", I said "I believe. So now, after You've come back and we all know that there is resurrection, is our life going to change?" "If you know that you will resurrect too, and go to heaven, "He said, "Wouldn't be easier to put up with the suffering and the misfortune?" That's true", I said, "but it would've been nice if life changed a bit. Because, right now, if the masters know that we will all resurrect and will be judged by what we've done, and that they can go to hell, don't you think they're to give us a break?" He looked down and said quietly: "I bring not peace, I bring a sword". And grew sullen. He got up and said: "I have to go, there are many things to be done." He stroked the children's cheeks and left in silence. That was it and forgive me it took so long.
THE JUDGE: You've been telling this story to everybody, haven't you?
3rd WITNESS: Why not? Was it wrong? I thought I might become famous along the
THE JUDGE: Is that why you did it?
3rd WITNESS: Well, I also did it because of the people - let them have some hope.
THE JUDGE: I don't have any more questions for the witness.
THE PROSECUTION: I do. You, peasant, said you walked together with the man, who
pretended to be resurrected, for quite a long time - maybe an hour and a half?
3rd WITNESS: Maybe.
THE PROSECUTION: You said that you'd heard and seen Jesus a few times before. You even
liked his voice a lot. Is that correct.
3rd WITNESS: That's right.
THE PROSECUTION: And if it is, how possible for an hour and half to talk to the man and not
recognize his voice?
3rd WITNESS: I don't know. Was it the same voice or not? To tell you the truth, there was
something about the man, but could I guess it was Him?
THE PROSECUTION: You should've thought of it. Moreover, you told us that you'd talked
about him on the road. Therefore, your thoughts, attention and obviously, your desire had been turned to him. In this condition, every stranger would've looked like him to you.
3rd WITNESS: Well, if you look at this way… but I wasn't thinking like that.
THE PROSECUTION: You told us that you couldn't get a good look at his face because the sun
was behind him. How about when all of you were in the house? Couldn't you look at him then?
3rd WITNESS: It was dim in the room. I was used to Him. We were drinking wine.
THE PROSECUTION: I see. What kind of wine?
3rd WITNESS: Oh, it was old wine, a good one!
THE PROSECUTION: I see. How much of it did you drink?
3rd WITNESS: You can't drink too much of that wine 'cause you get high. We didn't drink more that one jug or two.
THE PROSECUTION: Was he drinking?
3rd WITNESS: He was, but not that much.
THE PROSECUTION: If one drank a whole jug of strong, old wine, wouldn't be able to see even
himself as resurrected.
3rd WITNESS: Wait a minute. You're saying I got drunk and that's why I saw that man as the Resurrected, right? Well, what about the light? I saw light around His head?
THE PROSECUTION: You said that you were sitting facing each other.
3rd WITNESS: Right, he was by the wall and I was in front of the door.
THE PROSECUTION: Was there anything on the wall behind him? Like a torch, or a candle,
or some kind of lamp?
3rd WITNESS: Behind Him? There was a tiny window. And it was still early for a lamp, the sun was going down.
THE PROSECUTION: How do you know?
3rd WITNESS: I saw it through the window.
THE PROSECUTION: So that's it. The man was sitting with his head in front of the window,
through which the sunset was visible. I believe the Honorable Judge has already understood the nature of the light around the head of that man. How about, peasant, did you get it? If you were sitting in His place there would've been light around your head around your head, too!
3rd WITNESS: How about that! Oh, boy… Wait, wait…what about the wounds on His palms?
THE PROSECUTION: Did you touch them?
3rd WITNESS: I just…couldn't do that. Bu I saw them.
THE PROSECUTION: Have you ever seen anything painted?
3rd WITNESS: What do you mean "painted"?
THE PROSECUTION: I mean…with paint.
3rd WITNESS: Aha, with paint… I've seen that.
THE PROSECUTION: How did you know that the wounds weren't painted on his palms if you
didn't touch them? You said that it was dark in the room and you had been drinking.
3rd WITNESS: Huh… and what about Ruth? She recognized Him, too!
THE PROSECUTION: She did… only after he told you both that he was the One. Besides, we
all know how credulous women are.
3rd WITNESS: So you're saying we made a mistake, huh?
THE PROSECUTION: One who believes in the Devil believes in the Resurrected, too.
3rd WITNESS: Then who was He? Maybe he stole the body and now he is pretending he's
THE PROSECUTION: You said it! He was Jesus as much as you are.
THE JUDGE: Thomas, you tell us the truth. Don't be afraid, listen only to the voice of the truth inside you. I am THE JUDGE here and only I can judge you.
3rd WITNESS: Forgive me, Master. Were little people? We agree with the strong ones just to stay out of trouble.
THE PROSECUTION: I have no further questions.
THE JUDGE: THE DEFENSE?
THE DEFENSE: Come closer, Thomas, don't be afraid. I won't corer you with questions and I wont accuse you of anything. I just want to understand you, to get into your heart and mind. I don't know if you can realize how important your testimony is. Yes, you are the only person, with the exception of a few of the Nazarene's followers, who may not be objective, who actually has seen the Resurrected, talked with Him, even touched, so to speak, the miracle.
3rd WITNESS: No, I haven't touched…
THE DEFENSE: That's a figure of speech. So you, as the most valuable witness, must tell us everything the way it happened.
3rd WITNESS: But I did.
THE DEFENSE: Yes, you did. And then, when they put you under pressure with those "common sense" questions, you gave up on almost everything you told us. You agreed that you had made big mistake. Now tell me, did you really, with all your heart, believe that you were mistaken, that the man who told you He was the resurrected Jesus was not telling the truth?
3rd WITNESS: I don't know anymore. Before I was pretty sure. But when this master ere explained those things to me, I began to doubt it. The wine, the sun in the window, and the wounds I didn't touch. He was right - I probably made
a mistake. It happens, sometimes, you know, the heart lies to you, and sometimes, your mind does too.
THE DEFENSE: What do you think, back there who was telling you the truth - your heart or your mind? Say it, Thomas, you still think it was your heart.
3rd WITNESS: It seems like you believe that I saw the Resurrected.
THE DEFENSE: I want to know what you believe.
3rd WITNESS: What I believe. I don't know. Somehow I want to believe that I wasn't mistaken.
THE DEFENSE: Why?
3rd WITNESS: Why? I told you already - it feels different when you know that you will be resurrected. So different… There is joy in your heart.
THE DEFENSE: Tell me, Thomas, where the woman was sitting?
3rd WITNESS: What? Ah, Ruth. She wasn't sitting at all, she was running around. You know - bringing things to the table.
THE DEFENSE: Did she have any wine?
3rd WITNESS: Her? Ruth never drinks. She is not the kind of woman you think she is.
THE DEFENSE: Very well. Then explain this to me. She wasn't sitting opposite the man, she wasn't drinking, and still she recognized the Prophet, and saw the light around His head and His wounds, too. Let's say you were drunk and made a mistake. What about her?
3rd WITNESS: Didn't we say that the woman was…gullible?
THE DEFENSE: Who runs her business?
3rd WITNESS: She does, who else. She's a widow.
THE DEFENSE: A woman that runs a business all by herself, a woman capable of dealing with all those drunk men… is a woman like that so gullible?
3rd WITNESS: Well, if you put in that way, you're right. She's smart…and tough, if you know what I mean.
THE DEFENSE: I, do. And you, do you realize that if she recognized Him and kneeled before Him, then se saw something in that man?
3rd WITNESS: O, boy… if you look at it this way, then…
THE DEFENSE: Then you see that everything depends on the point of view. Now tell me, Thomas, do you still believe that you made a mistake.
3rd WITNESS: I don't know anymore what to believe! Your eyes can lie, your heart can lie. Who can we trust?
THE DEFENSE: One has to decide for him-self. No one can help you with that. However,
when both the eyes and the heart are saying the same thing, may be we should believe
them. No further questions of the witness.
3rd WITNESS: May I now go?
THE JUDGE: Before you go, I want you to answer one last question. Listen very carefully.
You personally, what would you prefer for that man: to be resurrected Son of God or an imposter?
3rd WITNESS: You, master, are asking me a question that you don't dare to ask yourself. But I think its O.K. Asking is the most difficult thing - it takes a lot of courage… Then the answer comes easily.
THE JUDGE: If it is so easy, answer me!
3rd WITNESS: You see, when the master made it clear to me that the man was a liar, I felt relief. It meant that everything would be way it was. Bad or good, it doesn't matter. And then, when the other master convicted me that I saw the Resurrected, I got confused, but I was excited too. There was something new, something that would lead me somewhere. You don't know where, but you're going there. The old is simple, the new is scary. Now let me ask you: which is easier - the simple one, or the scary one? Why are bowing before me, master? I'm only a stupid peasant.
THE JUDGE: Because you asked me question I could not answer. You may go.
PART II. PLEADINGS
THE JUDGE: We've heard from the three most important witnesses in the case we are examining. Before giving you the floor, I would like to ask you to consider only the facts and to express your thoughts freely, without fear. Remember, we are not enemies; rather we've three minds, united as one. One that has to find the truth. Th truth - no matter how frightening or trivial it might be. Now, in accordance with procedure, let THE PROSECUTION speak first.
THE PROSECUTION: I have bee given the part of THE PROSECUTION in a peculiar case.
A case, where the defendant's bench is empty. So, who do I have to prosecute? Jesus of Nazareth? Either he did not resurrect, and therefore he is dead, and the dead we don't try, or he did resurrect, which means he is God, and Gods we can't try.
THE JUDGE: If the body has been stolen, someone has to be accountable.
THE PROSECUTION: And where are those accountable? I'm not an investigator. I'm a
THE DEFENSE: Honorable Judge, I suppose that my opponent is insinuating that we all take part in a senseless exercise. On the contrary, it is a vital inquiry.
THE PROSECUTION: Will the Honorable Judge explain to my opponent that I do not wish to
be interrupted or given an advise?
THE DEFENSE: Please, accept my apologies. I state for the record that the attempt to deceive the mankind is a despicable crime, and that…
THE PROSECUTION: I know that better that you. That's why I accept a part in this case.
And I will go further: in spite of the obstacles on the path to justice, I still manage to find criminals and they will be punished justly.
THE JUDGE: Who creates obstacles to justice?
THE PROSECUTION: I will explain this in due time, if I am given the opportunity to speak. So, what is the point here? There is a man who preaches that he is God's son, and who promises people immortality. To make them believe he says that he will resurrect, which will prove that he is God's son. And it so happens, that the same man is condemned to death as an enemy of God and the empire; he is crucified, dies, and is buried. On the third day - exactly as he said -his body disappears. Resurrected? Or Stolen? Yes, the attempt to deceive mankind is a despicable crime. Science and common sense tell us it is impossible for a dead man to resurrect. Nevertheless, they want us to believe that this case involves a miracle. They tell us "Your science is only the half of it. Th other half, maybe the more important one, is not known. And that's where God is, and that's where the miracle is." I, personally, do not, even for a second, accept the existence of the miracle of the resurrection. It is clear to me, without a doubt, that the body was stolen. In fact, the purpose of this trial was to find the people responsible for the theft. Nevertheless, I see that everything done here is done solely to prove the antithesis - that he has indeed resurrected.
THE JUDGE: What do you mean?
THE PROSECUTION: First, the witnesses. We saw only three of them. Why just three and why
them in particular? Where is Caiphas, the Jewish high priest? Were are the soldiers who
guarded the grave? Where is the Joseph's gardener? Now, these are the most important witnesses. Witnesses, who cold have objectively - I repeat, objectively - reveled the course of the events. Their miracle to be examined here today. Instead, the Court has called… I'm not afraid to say it… carefully selected witnesses, who…
THE JUDGE: What? What are you saying?
THE PROSECUTION: I believe that all three witnesses were chosen intentionally. All three of
them who tried to convince us that the Nazarene had indeed resurrected.
THE JUDGE: That is not fair. On the contrary, Joseph tried to prove that the resurrection was impossible. Mary longed to believe, but she had her doubts. Thomas was even ready to deny everything he saw and felt.
THE PROSECUTION: No. All three of them believed in the Resurrection. Joseph was the
cleverest one - he played the role of the heathen so his belief appeared more credible.
THE JUDGE: Prove it.
THE PROSECUTION: It's easy. He stated clearly that he knew that the Nazarene has performed
miracles - for instance, giving sight to a man blind since birth. One who believes such nonsense can believe anything, even the resurrection. Remember, at the end he said that Jesus would resurrect him, too?
THE JUDGE: He didn't say that. In fact, he said something entirely different.
THE PROSECUTION: No, that's what he said. Only he said in his usual twisted manner.
However, we are here to find the true meaning of the vague statements. What can we say about Mary? About this ostensibly hysterical woman? Yes, ostensibly, because she acted insane in order to deflect responsibility. But, as a matter of fact, she is convincing and extremely dangerous propagandist.
THE JUDGE: Propagandist? For the dead Jesus?
THE PROSECUTION: No, not for Jesus. He is, perhaps, an innocent victim of dangerous and
clever conspirators. She propagandizes on behalf of those conspirators. I am afraid that her stories might blur many people's mind, making them believe in the Nazarene's resurrection.
THE JUDGE: But she doesn't believe in His resurrection. Didn't you understand that at least? Didn't you hear what she said at the end?
THE PROSECUTION: It was simply a precautionary tactic.
THE JUDGE: You are simply distrustful of her.
THE PROSECUTION: No, I doubt. Doubt is the only path to truth. Only doubts encourages a
man to pursue, to study, to analyze.
THE JUDGE: What about the faith?
THE PROSECUTION: Faith, whatever it is, drives you to look only for evidence on its behalf.
THE JUDGE: What about the unbelief - doesn't it drive you to do the same?
THE PROSECUTION: I am saying neither faith, nor unbelief. I say doubt. Doubt is the path to
knowledge. Knowledge needs neither faith, nor unbelief.
THE JUDGE: Can you achieve such absolute knowledge, which doesn't need faith or unbelief?
And if you can, what will you do then?
THE PROSECUTION: I don't know.
THE JUDGE: All right, continue. What do you have to say about the third witness? He neither believed, not ignored anything. He had seen everything.
THE PROSECUTION: This so called "witness"…
THE JUDGE: What is that supposed to mean?
THE PROSECUTION: I will explain. And , please, do not interrupt or provoke me - don't you
understand that this can only hurt you?
THE JUDGE: Although I read unjustified threat in your words, please, accept my apology.
THE PROSECUTION: As I said, the so called "witness' was unquestionably the most artful of
all three. Donning the mask of naiveté and innocence, he had to summarize and illustrate all the "evidence" - direct and circumstantial - of the Nazarene's resurrection. And now, let me set forth the entire plot: Joseph, the man of reason and logic, dismisses unwillingly these virtues, have been convinced by a miracle. Mary, the woman, replaces reason and logic with mysticism and God's blessing - she "knows" with her heart. Thomas, the "foolish" peasant, after being persuaded by the miracle, draws a convenient conclusion, quote: "When I'm sure of my own resurrection, maybe I won't be such an ox anymore. What they gonna do to me? Kill me? Then I'll resurrect - I don't care. Then I'll say what I have to say in this life", unquote.
THE JUDGE: You are saying that the three witnesses had plotted? That doesn't make any sense - the rich, educated Joseph, with a fallen woman, and a peasant?
THE PROSECUTION: Maybe, if they were the real people. But they are not and there lies the
great conspiracy. There are not Mary, Joseph, ant Thomas, but impostors, actors. Untalented, indeed, because no good actor would agree to take a part in this…
THE JUDGE: These allegations must be proven.
THE PROSECUTION: Nothing could be easier. Let's begin with Joseph. "The Honorable
Joseph." This amateur, who couldn't even to memorize his lines, stated proudly that he believed in some "emptiness full of atoms". We know, however, that the real Joseph is not an avid supporter of Judaism, but an extreme Jewish nationalist. He had joined the Nazarene in order to use him as a flag in the revolution against the Empire.
THE JUDGE: There are many people inside some of us, many people with their own beliefs…
THE PROSECUTION: That is, with your permission, an excuse for cowards.
THE JUDGE: I have no desire to argue with you, it's beneath me… Also, I'm tired.
THE PROSECUTION: However, the strongest proof of my theory was the third witness,
Thomas. Whoever brought him here and gave him the part, didn't know the facts himself. He confused an unknown peasant with Thomas, the follower of Jesus who believed in the resurrection of his Teacher only after seeing the wounds on his palms. That is why he - the follower, not the peasant - was "Doubting Thomas".
THE JUDGE: Can't two people have the same name?
THE PROSECUTION: Naturally, they can. Nevertheless, it is not only the name - here we have
two Thomases, in the same drama, and both of them doubting. And that's not at all - it has been confirmed that the woman was not Ruth, but Rebecca, and she had no two, but five children. How ignorant of the dramatist! He couldn't deceive me, but he did deceive others who wanted to be deceived.
THE JUDGE: I'll make no comment - I have my dignity. Please, continue.
THE PROSECUTION: Nothing shall prevent me from revealing the truth. I denounce the
credibility of the three witnesses. Therefore, I refuse to accept their testimony, which is intended to prove the existence of the miracle of the resurrection. Now, let me ask the question: What would happen if the miracle existed? Who would have exploited the resurrection? What would have happened to our civilized society if a man knew he was immortal? The answer is simple: A man would not be afraid of the law. The rule of law would not exist any longer, because the people would not obey the law.
THE JUDGE: Perhaps the people would obey a higher law.
THE PROSECUTION: One who does not obey public law will not obey any other law. What
would this have meant on a practical level? Remember what the Resurrected allegedly said to third witness: "I bring not peace. I bring a sword." There are millions like that so-called "Thomas". Can you imagine what could happen to our great society based on legal values, if they all believe that they are immortal? Now, the majority obeys the rule of the law because they are afraid of punishment; they are afraid of death. What if they know that there is no death? They will rise up, the socially deprived - peasants, slaves, bums, armed with the sword of the Resurrected and with the faith in eternal life (which means faith in their impunity). Millions will rush our marble cities, monuments, our peaceful homes, without fearing the weapons of our soldiers. And they will overcome because they are countless. They will slaughter and destroy our culture. And, there will be a new world order - chaos. The, naturally, when we are no longer there, they will consume each other. And the earth will become a kingdom ruled not by God, but by beast. Now, I ask you, is there a worse crime against the people and their future, than the acceptance the idea of the resurrection? I accuse the people who stole the body of Jesus of Nazareth, of attempting to deceive mankind and nature, by spreading rumor of his resurrection. I propose, as well, that the court prosecute the three witnesses for their intentional efforts to prove the existence of the miracle of the resurrection.
THE JUDGE: The witnesses? In accordance with procedure, and my personal vow that they would not be held accountable for their testimony…
THE PROSECUTION: Your vow and your procedure cannot be honored in a political case such as this. THE PROSECUTION rests.
THE JUDGE: Let THE DEFENSE have the floor.
THE DEFENSE: In contrast to my opponent, my pleading will be guided by a single principle: "Testaments rather than statements".
THE JUDGE: Say what you think, and don't be guided by what was said before.
THE DEFENSE: With all due respect to the thoughtful remark, the Honorable Judge himself said before: "If the body has been stolen, someone has to be held accountable." I am not afraid to go even further - if Jesus has been resurrected, someone has to be held accountable.
THE JUDGE: I beg your pardon?
THE DEFENSE: If Jesus has indeed been resurrected, the people who hope for their own resurrection have to be accountable.
THE JUDGE: Then you are accusing the majority of the people.
THE DEFENSE: With your permission, Honorable Judge, I am not the one accusing here.
THE JUDGE: Well, who are you going to defend then?
THE DEFENSE: I will try to answer this essential question in the course of my pleading. In order to do so, Your Honor, please have a little patience.
THE JUDGE: Forgive me. Continue, please.
THE DEFENSE: Thank you, Your Honor. I won't question the arguments used by THE PROSECUTION in his efforts to eliminate every possibility of the existence of the miracle. Nevertheless, I must state for the record: We cannot deny something before defining it. So, What is the definition of "miracle"? "Event that cannot be explained by known laws of nature." Now I ask you: Do we know all the laws of nature? I dare say: No, we don't. Therefore, the event we today label 'miracle', because it can't be explained, tomorrow, we know haw to explain it, will no longer bear frightening name of 'miracle'.
THE JUDGE: So, you assume that miracles do exist?
THE DEFENSE: I assume that the events we today call "miracles", may be scientific facts tomorrow. Which means that no one has the right to enjoin people from believing I miracles. Ant that's what this case is about. Yes, I agree with my opponent that the court procedure is not appropriate. Yes, I agree that the witnesses were chosen intentionally.
THE JUDGE: You, too?
THE DEFENSE: Yes, with a light difference. I believe that we examined only witnesses who do not believe in the miracle. They did everything possible to prove that the resurrection was impossible.
THE JUDGE: This is too much…. I mean, this remains to be proven.
THE DEFENSE: And I will prove it, if I'm given the opportunity to speak.
THE JUDGE: I apologize.
THE DEFENSE: Let's look at the first witness, the Honorable Joseph from Arimathaea. He didn't even try to disguise his skepticism - he formulated it in a philosophical manner.
THE JUDGE: But he'd accepted the miracle of the blind beggar.
THE DEFENSE: Only as evidence that Jesus was a sorcerer. This way he came to terms with his conscience, since he voted for the Nazarene's death. And there is something that I can't quite understand…
THE JUDGE: What is it?
THE DEFENSE: In dealing with THE PROSECUTION, you argued that Joseph did not accept the miracle. Now, you are arguing the opposite.
THE JUDGE: Because I trying to be impartial.
THE DEFENSE: I thought as a Judge in this trial, you were impartial. Well, so much for the first witness. Now the second. At first glance, it seems like Mary believes passionately in Jesus' resurrection. Only at first glance, because she offered us no serious proof of her faith. On the contrary, he testimony - senseless, illogical, and hysterical, I'd say - de facto impeached her credibility as a witness. For example, she couldn't explain why she went to anoint the dead body of the Teacher, if she believed He would resurrect. The explanation, however, is simple: she needed the miracle, but she knew that it was impossible.
THE JUDGE: You haven't read her well…
THE DEFENSE: I have read her perfectly well. She wasn't able to say who she saw in the garden - Joseph's gardener or the Resurrected. Who do you think would believe that she saw the Resurrected, when she herself clearly doesn't believe it? And what about her last line? "There are frightful moments, especially at night…"
THE JUDGE: Faith without doubt is a dogma.
THE DEFENSE: That, with your permission, sounds like a dogma itself. Finally, let's examine the testimony of the third witness, Thomas, the peasant. He was supposed to be the witness who had seen the miracle, even touched it, so to speak. And what happened? At the slightest suggestion that he might have been mistaken, he easily admitted he was mistaken. Then later, after only a few questions, he was ready to believe again. Considering this mercurial attitude, can we rely on his testimony?
THE JUDGE: He was a simple man and his is frightened by these proceedings.
THE DEFENSE: With all due respect, why should he be frightened? The Honorable Judge swore to him that nothing would happen to him for telling the truth. And yes, he is a simple man, but we all know that history bears fourth thousands of cases where simple men, like Thomas, have died heroically in the name of the truth. Now. I do believe that everyone can see the blatant attempt of the three witnesses to prove that the miracle didn't take place, that Jesus didn't resurrect, and, therefore, that immortality doesn't exist. However, sense and logic tell me that the event we today call miracle, could in fact occur. That's why I am certain that society will accept the idea of the resurrection, which evokes the belief in immortality. Oh, don't frighten us with the apocalyptic images of a kingdom ruled by beast. When all the people believe in immortality, their leaders - yes, there will be leaders then, but they will be the strong and the clever ones.
THE JUDGE: Maybe, the crafty ones?
THE DEFENSE: I said the clever and the strong ones. The leaders who are able to instill obedience in the people. Obedience not to the leadership, but rather to a higher law designed to strengthen the new world order. Yes, there will be a rule of law again, and it will grant immortality only to the people who obey it. Diligent work, positive attitude, respect for the leadership - this the only way to earn the right to resurrect, for yourselves and for your children. Harmony, not the chaos, will be established in our land. A place where people work voluntary - here on earth, and after the resurrection.
THE JUDGE: You believe neither in resurrection here, nor in heaven there. You simply want to use people's faith so you can manipulate and rule them. That is what you are pleading for.
THE DEFENSE: If you just let me finish you will understand what I am pleading for… I stated for the record, that the attempt to deceive mankind is a despicable crime. Especially regarding something so great as immortality. Isn't the pursuit of immortality the force that drives human progress? When the artist creates, when the philosopher thinks, when the mason builds, when the general wins battles, aren't they all dreaming of being immortalized? Now, let's assume, just for a second, that there wasn't a resurrection and the body was abducted. I ask you: can we prosecute the people who supposedly have stolen the body of Jesus in order to convince the masses that there is eternal, life? Of course not - they are our saviors, chosen to keep secret the fact that there is no immortality. Nevertheless, as I said, this just a hypothesis - my conclusion is that Jesus has indeed resurrected and we must proclaim the holy truth. THE DEFENSE rests.
THE JUDGE: Will THE PROSECUTION rebut?
THE PROSECUTION: Although it is difficult for me to respond, I'll do so because I feel obligated. Whether the dead body of The Nazarene was resurrected or abducted, is not the issue of this case. Rather, I believe the issue is whether we will create a heaven on earth based on human rationality and pride - a place where free and equal individuals live I harmony, or whether we will become a herd of cowards who work and pray, never raising our eyes to look at the stars. Shall the paragon of society be a human being who incarnates the divine power of knowledge, or an ox who obeys in order to have the impossible, immortality. The choice is yours, you are THE JUDGE… I have nothing more to say.
THE JUDGE: Does THE DEFENSE have any closing remarks?
THE DEFENSE: I certainly do. My opponent fears that if the people believe in immortality, they will raise a sword against, according to his words, "our great society". But is our society really great? Is it a society of equal and free people, commanding the absolute power of human knowledge? No, it is not, and you know it. The truth is that our society consists of millions of slaves and a handful of masters. This sad reality is the strongest proof that without a common spiritual ideal, pursued with religious faith, a society turns into pack of wolves, each of them fighting for his own interest. That is why, regardless of whether the body of Jesus is stolen or resurrected, we must conclude that He has come back to us. This verdict bestows upon us belief in the ideal and glory for mankind. The verdict acquits everyone, except those who are guilty of disbelief. That is all I have to say…
THE JUDGE: Now I shall step down to deliberate by myself in order to reach my verdict.
PART III. VERDICTS
THE JUDGE: All stand. I've reached my verdict. Given the part of THE JUDGE in this case, I have heard the witnesses, Joseph, Mary and Thomas, and the pleadings of THE PROSECUTION and THE DEFENSE, and after long nights of deliberation by myself, longing to reach a just verdict which establishes the truth about the disappearance of the body Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ, and knowing that that there could be many just verdicts in this matter, I am ordering the one that is my own. It is as follows. First, the body of Jesus has been abducted by unknown individuals and spirits, delivered to a place forever unknown, and has been resurrected for eternal life on earth and in heaven. Second, if the individuals and spirits referred to above are apprehended, they shall be punished with full arm of the law, crucified and elevated to the stature of saints and angels. All witnesses, THE PROSECUTION and THE DEFENSE shall be free from any guilt, except from the guilt of being partial. He who doubts this verdict shall be plagued by doubt in his faith and faith in his doubt, until the end of the world. Day seven in the year one.
THE VOICE OF PONTIUS PILATE: We must talk.
THE JUDGE: Hail to you Pontius Pilate, the Emperor's Procurator! Are you satisfied with the verdict?
THE VOICE: What do you think?
THE JUDGE: I think that you ought to be satisfied - this was the fairest verdict I have ever reached. The only one possible in a case such as this.
THE VOICE: Tell me, my friend, do you know why I gave you the part and the power of THE JUDGE?
THE JUDGE: Because you wanted me to find the truth.
THE VOICE: Which truth?
THE JUDGE: The truth!
THE VOICE: Not just "the truth". The truth which the Empire needs. Your verdict, dear friend, reflected your own truth, which was not the Empire's truth. You see, simple people can have their truths; the Empire employees, never. They are part of the Empire, and, therefore, the Empire's truth must be their truth.
THE JUDGE: You should've told me that.
THE VOICE: You should have known that. The Empire needed the truth that establishes its eternity. The truth which says that no one and nothing is higher than the Empire. Instead of condemning Jesus for his disregard of the Empire, you as a Judge…
THE JUDGE: Wait a minute…I didn't know that Jesus himself was supposed to be on trial. By the way, my friend, didn't you wash your hands clean by proclaiming that He was innocent?
THE VOICE: I did. I was sure that other would get their hands bloody.
THE JUDGE: And if you hadn't been so sure?
THE VOICE: Then I wouldn't have had any choice. I would've kept his blood on my hands, so the Empire could see it and appreciate it. You, however, were given a choice: Jesus or the Empire, the law or the miracle. The Empire always gives the people a choice. It just punishes the wrong one.
THE JUDGE: I made the only choice possible after considering the witnesses' testimony.
THE VOICE: I heard their testimony. THE DEFENSE and THE PROSECUTION were right about the witnesses.
THE JUDGE: Those were the only witnesses who knew…
THE VOICE: Those were the only witnesses who believed.
THE JUDGE: Both THE DEFENSE and THE PROSECUTION were strongly against me, personally. Yes, they were right, but they limited their understanding to the law of reason.
THE VOICE: This not the time for rhetoric. You have more important things to do.
THE JUDGE: What do I have to do?
THE VOICE: To bear the burden of proving your innocence. Or, at least, stop incriminating
THE JUDGE: You mean, confess sincerely that I have ordered the wrong verdict. How can I do that? I just couldn't rule the resurrection didn't occur, because it might have. Nor could I proclaim that the resurrection did occur, because it might not have. I realized that in order to reach the truth, I had to unite these two alternatives in a complete and irrefutable oneness.
THE VOICE: In order to exist in the Empire, you had to choose one alternative.
THE JUDGE: Even if I had chosen the miracle?
THE VOICE: Even then. The Empire would recognize and punish you as a respected enemy. This way you could've become a part of the Empire again.
THE JUDGE: Oh, that would've been beautiful.
THE VOICE: However, you've issued your verdict and you've lost the privilege to live in the Empire. There is nothing beyond the Empire. Ergo, you've lost the privilege to live anywhere.
THE JUDGE: I knew it… I knew it…
THE VOICE: You do not exist anymore, and because the Crucified is the reason for your non-existence, I grant you, as last comfort, a death like His.
THE JUDGE: You will crucify me… So what? I have been crucified for centuries, hanging between "yes" and "no", between the law and the miracle. Finally, thanks to this case, I have discovered the truth. And I have become whole, and sound. Yes, I was lonely. Desperately lonely. But complete. I have found peace of mind. Because I have found my truth. I don't really care whether this truth is the Empire's truth, or not. You cannot crucify me now, when my soul has its truth. I won't feel the pain. No one make me suffer, nothing brings me joy, or death, or life.
THE VOICE: What a pity. You are dead.
THE JUDGE: I want to ask you something. Please, tell me the truth, in the name of our lost friendship. When you made me THE JUDGE in this case, did you know that I would order a verdict for which I had to be punished?
THE VOICE: I did. And I doubted it.
THE JUDGE: Well, do you think that when they drive the nails into my palms it will hurt a lot?
THE VOICE: I hope it hurts. A lot.
© S. Gechev
© Nikolai and Mimi Tsankov
© G. Vasilev