Baker Academic

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is There a Trial of Jesus in Luke?

J. R. Daniel Kirk offers a close reading of Jesus' "trial" narrative in Luke. You might be surprised by what he observes: "In short, there is no trial in Luke. There is a pre-trial hearing, perhaps, something to gin up charges. But no trial. No sentence of condemnation. No aspersion of guilt."

Read the full post here.



  1. "According to Luke the Jewish 'trial' was not a trial at all, but the chaotic prelude to a lynching which even Roman jurisprudence could not overcome" (Walaskay, "The Trial and Death of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke" JBL 94.1 [1975], 81–82.

  2. Joshua, to make it clear, Walaskay did not himself think that Jesus was the victim of a "lynching." Walaskay stressed Luke's "pro-Roman, anti-Sanhedrin, bias." He wrote that Luke's description of the crucifixion was "rooted more in the mind of the evangelist than in the events of history." Throughout this piece, Walaskay casts considerable doubt on the accuracy of Luke's passion account.

    In other words, Jesus' execution was not a "lynching," and that fact that it appears that way in Luke (at least as Walaskay sees it) is proof of how far Luke's account is removed from reality.

    1. Indeed, an essential part of the quote I share is the phrase "According to Luke." My point in sharing the quote was to give a 40 year old example of a what is a very similar reading to that of Kirk.

  3. To me, it looks a bit more complicated. Jesus claims to be the "Son of Man" sitting at the God's right hand. They conclude that he is the "Son of God" and they take him to Pilate accusing him of forbidding taxes to Caesar etc.
    Now, I don't think that "Son of Man" and "Son of God" can be all straightforward interpreted as Christ/Messiah and we don't know how accusers came to the conclusion that Jesus was against Roman taxation. This could mean that we have gaps in Luke's trial account, that Jesus was taken to Pilate with false accuses which hardly match Son of Man/Son of God titles (they sound a bit more nuanced than simply Messiah, a bit more religious than political).

  4. The text waffles artfully. At first the Romans do not judge, in part because Jesus waffles. He will not unequivocally say he is, say, "Christ." But sez: others say that.