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Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment Hardcover – February 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687647568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687647569
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Baylor University law professor and former prosecutor Osler challenges Christian support for the death penalty by fitting the story of Jesus' trial and death into the modern criminal justice process in the United States. His chapters follow the arc of Christ's last days and examine their symmetry with aspects of modern criminal trials, noting the use of a paid informant, denial of habeas corpus and humiliation of the convicted. The chapter on last meals offers compelling ligatures between the public's fascination with death row inmates' last requests—foods like chicken-fried steak and chili cheese dogs—and the celebration of the Eucharist, which commemorates "the last meal of a man who knew he would be killed by the state the next day." At times Osler's thesis—that God's "creation of an earthly Christ subjected to capital punishment seems to reveal his intent that we care not only about that man, but that process"—gets lost in the details of the extended parallel. Yet the book makes an effective, and surprisingly gentle, case against the death penalty, an argument aimed at the majority of American Christians who see no irony in supporting capital punishment while following one who was a defendant and victim of it. (Feb.)
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About the Author

[2009] Mark Osler is Professor of Law at Baylor University School of Law. A former federal prosecutor, he is an expert on federal sentencing guidelines who has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, ABC's Good Morning America, and in more than 30 newspapers. His work on sentencing has been cited and extensively quoted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

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Customer Reviews

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By RFDIII on February 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Jesus on Death Row" is a wonderfully rewarding surprise. Elegantly written, with a host of fascinating stories and allusions, Prof. Osler delicately stitches together a narrative of the trial and execution of Jesus with modern American Christian views on the death penalty. This is NOT a dogmatic screed. Instead, "Jesus on Death Row" is a thoughtful, sometimes surprising essay on what we believe -- and why. I loved every page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dream factory on April 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Good Easter Morning!
Jesus on Death Row - - A surprising and enlightening book. Challenges you to examine capital punishment under a unique perspective. Jesus Christ, a criminal indicted and convicted of an offence worthy of the death penalty.
Taking each of the four Gospels Osler expertly dissects the chapters of Jesus' trial & execution.

In the USA 85% identify themselves as Christian. The debate over capital punishment is important. Thus to a Christian this presents itself as an important book. We follow our elected leaders' choices regarding execution. But do our leaders (Clinton, Bush, Obama) follow their Christian roots and professed convictions?

This book is an enlightening read to help one better partcipate in the debate regarding the death penalty. To better appreciate the judistcal atmosphere of the court and death penalty. Could YOU pull the switch? Or could you elect someone to do it for YOU?

As viewed through the eyes of a well versed Christian lawyer. Understanding Christ as a criminal.Caught in a web: the violence of arrest, due process, witnesses, clemency refusal, provision of trial, prosecutors emotions, cruel & unusual execution.

At a deeper spiritual level this book gives life to the experience Jesus endured both psychologic and physical.

An easily digested book about an important contemporary subject. Intriguing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amy Garrou on March 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this unique linking of Biblical scripture and current law, Osler cites and examines much of his own experience as a federal prosecutor to illuminate the similarities between the steps in Jesus' arrest, trial, and execution with contemporary criminal practice and attitudes about punishment in the US. This book could rightly be called "Jesus Christ, Defendant," as that is exactly the lens Osler uses to examine the death penalty in the US.

And his result is striking. Consider this excerpt from the chapter entitled "Last Meal:" "With the murderer we have almost nothing in common (we hope), but still he wants chicken for dinner . . . We are somewhere in between the Savior and the killer. We exist in that wide chasm between the murderer and Christ, yet our common experience meets the murderer in the precise place where it meets the life of Christ" (p. 67). By yoking the two extremes, he reminds Christians that they follow "a religion whose central narrative is an execution and its aftermath" (p. 144), and allows all his readers a generous window into the complex, fraught practices of the current prosecutorial system. Osler's plain style shepherds readers effortlessly through his argument, showing us all our fragile humanity.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Sandlin on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What do the life and death of Christ have to do with the way Christians approach the criminal justice system? The death penalty? More than you might think according to Mark Osler, former prosecutor and current Baylor Law professor. Far from settling for worn clichés and easy answers, Osler presents a thoughtful, reflective look at the United States criminal justice system through the lens of the crucifixion of Christ. In taking this cruciform look at how we try, convict, and punish criminals, Osler provides compelling insights into the ways Christians can bring both justice and mercy to the criminal justice system.

His insights alone are worth the price of the book, but I also see great value in exposing believers to not just the content of the book but also Osler's method. As a pastor, Osler does what I hope every believer in Jesus Christ would do, he takes the life and the teachings of Christ and applies them in a reflective manner to his daily life (not simply his devotional life). Believers from all types of professions would benefit from following Osler's example of allowing the life and death and resurrection of Christ to inform, question, and challenge their own professions and areas of expertise.

Not only will I encourage others to read his book but will also encouge them to likewise engage other areas of life (Health care, education, etc) from a cruciform point of view.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas W. Brooke on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Many books on political, social, religious and philosophical issues are heavy-handed, ponderous and much too long. This book makes its points in a highly engaging fashion and does not repeat the same themes over and over.

Its a brisk read that will leave the reader thinking about the issues raised instead of confused over the reasoning. Like a good lawyer, the author gets to the point and provides evidence in the form of biblical citations to back up his argument.
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