The Trial of Christ

In this powerful presentation, Professor Mark Osler and Jeanne Bishop enact the sentencing   of Christ.  Osler plays the prosecutor arguing that Jesus should be killed and Bishop plays the defense attorney. 

2012 Dates and Locations:

  • January 15—Trial of Christ, Fourth Presbyterian, Chicago, 12:30 pm.
  • February 7—Trial of Christ, Episcopal Divinity School/Harvard, 7 pm.
  • February 24—Osler/Bishop Death Penalty presentation, Belmont University, Nashville
  • February 25—Osler/Bishop presentation to Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty conference, Nashville
  • February 26—Osler/Bishop presentation at St. Henry’s Catholic Church, Nashville
  • February 27—Trial of Christ, Carson-Newman College, Jeffersonville, TN
  • March 18—Trial of Christ, St. Henry’s Catholic Church, Nashville
  • March 25 —Trial of Christ, Westminster Presbyterian , Oklahoma City, OK
  • October 9 - Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA 

From coverage of the Trial Presented at the School of Law in April 2011:

The event is an enactment of the sentencing of Christ, in which Osler will play the prosecutor arguing that Jesus should be killed and Bishop will play the defense attorney. Volunteers will play the role of judge and witnesses. During the Lent season, Osler and Bishop are also presenting the trial at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Richmond, Va. There the presentation has been expanded into a three part series that includes other phases of the trial of Jesus and discussion. Osler noted the first event in Virginia was powerful, and he suspects that the event at the School of Law will cause others to look differently at the crucifixion and its meaning. "I had always thought about that story from the position of Jesus," said Mark Osler. "I realized that I'm not Jesus. I'm one of the people with a rock in my hand."

Osler is the author of Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment, and has worked on sentencing issues for most of his career. He comes with the courtroom experience of a former federal prosecutor. 

Bishop is a board member of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights. She is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langer, who was shot to death along with her husband and their unborn child in 1990.  This season marks the twentieth anniversary of those deaths, and Bishop brings that perspective with her along with her many years as a public defender in the State of Illinois.  Bishop recently attended the signing of the bill stopping capital punishment in Illinois and was presented with the pen used to sign that legislation by the governor.

Both Osler and Bishop hope that, by presenting a familiar story in a new format, attendees will reconsider and reexamine the take-away messages. "It's important sometimes to challenge ourselves in a different way, and that's what we're trying to do here," said Osler, who noted that too often 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. "I think the people who come to this will experience a similar blessing. If we call ourselves Christians, then what we're saying ... is that 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."