Schonfield Vs. Easter And The Invincibility Of Scripture -- By: Daryl E. Witmer
BSP 7:1 (Winter 1994) p. 16
Schonfield Vs. Easter And The Invincibility Of Scripture
It is the moment before sundown in Jerusalem. On the hill of Golgotha three bodies are suspended on crosses. Two, the thieves, are dead. The third appears so. This is the drugged body of Jesus of Nazareth, the man who planned his own crucifixion, who contrived to be given a soporific potion to put him into a deathlike trance. Now Joseph of Arimathea, bearing clean linen and spices, approaches and recovers the still form of Jesus. All seems to be proceeding according to plan.. .. it was a nightmarish undertaking, the outcome of the frightening logic of a genius, and it worked out.” from The Passover Plot, Bernard Geis Associates, 1965.
Twenty-eight years ago Hugh J. Schonfield published The Passover Plot. Controversial, provocative, and sensational, the book was instantly very big news. In sum, it alleged that although Christ was the Son of Man, He certainly was not the Son of God. The author laid out in elaborate detail just how Jesus contrived to be arrested the night before the Passover, how He had arranged to be given a drug that would render Him unconscious, and how His accomplices would then nurse Him back to health and stage a “resurrection.”
Schonfield claimed that his book was the result of forty years of research. 275 pages long, it was carefully footnoted and included a five-page index as well as an extensive, detailed, bibliography. It was billed as a scholarly work. The author himself, a Jewish man educated at the University of Glasgow, insisted
BSP 7:1 (Winter 1994) p. 17
that the book should by no means be regarded as a “far-fetched. .. fictitious” attack on Jesus. No, this was “high scholarship.” And so, when it was released, The Passover Plot was accorded great credibility. It received many notable reviews from the likes of Time magazine, The London Sunday Times, and Publisher’s Weekly. It shook the faithful like a megabomb exploding at the heart of the Christian faith. In the end, however, it turned out to be more of a firecracker.
Hugh Schonfield, in the spotlight of international acclaim, was temporarily regarded as the man who may have fired a deadly shot at the risen Christ. In the light of history he has come to appear more like a little boy shooting a cap gun at the Rock of Gibraltar.
This is 1993. Schonfield has disappeared. The Bible stands. Easter survives. Christianity marches on. The risen Christ lives!
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