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Jesus' crucifixion was legal: Spanish study

Published: 11 Nov 2013 17:21 GMT+01:00

The death of Jesus on the cross was not the end result of a thinly veiled legal farce, argues José María Ribas Alba, Professor in Roman Law at Spain’s Seville University in Spain's 20 minutos newspaper.

Instead, Jesus' court case ticked all the boxes for "what we know about the legal criteria of the time".

The law professor has spent 25 years raking over the details of the trial against Jesus and has just released a 300-page study on what he believes is "one of the most important events in history".

His conclusion? The trial was perfectly legal.

In fact, Ribas Alba claims there were two separate but interconnected trials against the historical figure Christians consider the son of God.

One of those involved the Jewish crime of blasphemy while the other related to the Roman crime of lèse majesté, or insulting a monarch or head of state.

But these weren't separate issues. Both were religio-political crimes.

"Religious and political thinking then mixed in a way that is very difficult for people to understand nowadays," says the Spanish legal expert.

To back up his claims about the legality of Jesus' trials, the Spanish professor has compared them with other contemporary legal proceedings.

His lengthy study includes profiles of key figures involved in the trial including the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate and the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas, who is said to have orchestrated a plot to kill Jesus.

The second part of the study looks at why Jesus’ teachings caused anger among Jewish authorities.

Ribas Alba then examines the so-called Sanhedrin trial of Jesus which saw Jesus tried before a Jewish Council before being passed over to the Roman authorities.

In the final part of his study, the professor casts an eye over the powers of Pontius Pilate and looks at the connection between blasphemy and lèse majesté.

This is "one of the most important historical events in history" argues the professor, because it involves “a figure who had a decisive influence on world history”.

Jesus "helped configure our culture and the mentality of Western civilization," Ribas Alba concludes.  

The "criminal proceedings against him were legal". 

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

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