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

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Washington on July 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not super religious but this book was so well written, it explained the comparisons of the modern day judicial system and the teachings of the stories from the bible. I also liked that he did not focus on just 1 story from the bible but made reference to all 4 stories in his comparisons and acknowledged that they are not all comparable in every step to the modern day trial. A great read for anyone who is interested in criminal justice, the bible or is open minded enough to accept that there are indeed similarities between the teachings of the bible and the way Capital Punishment cases are handled.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this thought provoking and enjoyed the quick look at how the trial and execution of Jesus patterns various aspects of the death penalty today. Down to earth writing does not decrease its force.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Osler draws interesting parallels - really substantive ones - between the trial and execution of Jesus as presented in the gospels and the modern American capital punishment system.

He's at his best when addressing the reader as a Christian. That is to say, Osler isn't preachy, and he doesn't have a political agenda. He asks, without making (this reader, anyway) defensive, to examine the meaning of the gospels - is it happenstance that the narrative has God the Father yield up his innocent son to be executed by the state?

Or are Christians supposed to infer something from that?

Would the story be the cornerstone of a religion if Jesus had been killed by an extralegal gang? If the mob had lynched him? Or is it significant that it was a legal process that rushed to judgment, convicted him, and executed him?

They are questions I hadn't considered before, among others, and although it's a quick read (about 140 pages), it'll leaving me thinking about it for a long time.
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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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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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