Sam Roberts, an obituary writer for the New York Times, was asked to imagine what Jesus’s obituary would have been like.
Jesus of Nazareth, a Galilean carpenter turned itinerant minister whose appeals to piety and whose repute as a healer had galvanized a growing contingent of believers, died on Friday after being crucified that morning just outside Jerusalem, only days after his followers had welcomed him triumphantly to the city as “the anointed one” and “the Son of David.” He was about 33.
For a man who had lived the first three decades of his life in virtual obscurity, he attracted a remarkable following in only a few years. His reputation reflected a persuasive coupling of message, personal magnetism, and avowed miracles. But it also resonated in the current moment of spiritual and economic discontent and popular resentment of authority and privilege, whether wielded by foreigners from Rome or by the Jewish priests in Jerusalem and their confederates.
After running afoul of the Jewish elite in Jerusalem for blasphemy and his arrest on Thursday, Jesus was sentenced to death by Governor Pontius Pilate. (The Jewish authorities lacked jurisdiction to impose capital punishment.) The charge, in effect, was treason, for claiming to be King of the Jews or “the anointed one” (Messiah in Hebrew and Aramaic; Christos in Greek). After he was declared dead on Friday night, he was buried nearby in a cave.
On Sunday, his disciples reported that the body was missing.
Click on What Would Jesus’s New York Times Obituary Look Like? to read the whole thing in Vanity Fair. Hat tip to kottke.org.