The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop
Confessing the impossibility of any Christian (including himself) to be perfectly objective when viewing the death of Christ, Bishop here reconstructs both the historical events and the background of Christ’s crucifixion with intense clarity and force.
To read this book without first reading the preface is to rob yourself of the proper frame of mind in which this book should be read, and also deprives the author of the opportunity to point out various devices used in the book to add continuity.
As the author explains it: “No liberties have been taken with the facts, except in minor cases for the purposes of narrative continuity or the “logic” of the story, and then only when the weight of probability points in that direction.” Thus when he mentions that a light evening breeze ruffled Christ’s garments as he walked along the road discussing his impending death, this is not intended to be taken as an absolute, verified account of the weather, but since at that time of the year, in that particular locale, evening breezes usually caress the countryside, most likely this also occurred when Christ visited this same place at the same time of the year.
Without the author’s explanation, one could begin to question the veracity of such details, and soon this suspicion wedges itself between author and reader. By all means, if you read this book, (and I sincerely recommend it) take a few minutes to read the preface.
This book is divided into two kinds of chapters: the historical chapters dealing with the narrative as we know it, and the background chapters which perhaps comprise the most useful segments of the book. It is interesting to notice as these background chapters unfold, that the crucifixion of Christ even in its many details was not an unnatural act forced by God upon the Jews and Romans of that day, but their laws, customs, and even certain modifications of Roman law (allowed by Rome to pacify the Jews,) all interlocked in a definite pattern to fulfill Old Testament prophecies.
Distracting from the value of this book is the author’s contention that Christ’s feet and wrists were nailed to the cross, while Scripture very plainly indicates “hands and feet.” Although incidents where the author upholds the evidence of his own research over against Scripture are extremely rare, it does indicate a weak attitude toward the infallibility of Scripture.
If one will exercise the usual precautions when reading this book, he cannot help but enrich his knowledge of the Jewish culture of the time. Of even greater benefit is the overwhelming feeling, brought on by the intense portrayal of even minute details that “I was there.”