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Book Review : “Who Moved The Stone”

Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morison, Zondervan Publishing ISBN: 0-310-29561-0 MSRP: $10.98

It's Easter 2002, and I thought it would be appropriate to write a review of one of the most logical and well reasoned publications about the Resurrection. Frank Morison was a lawyer by profession. He set out to write a book that logically disproved and once and for all settled the question that many people have: Could the Resurrection have happened? After much research and diligent "discovery of facts" to use a legal term, Mr. Morison ended up writing a book that was completely the opposite of what he had originally set out for. To be sure that was not at all his intention. He most definetly was not a religious zealot or highly spiritual individual. He was a man like many others with some vestiges of religion left over from his childhood.  The interesting thing is that instead of disproving the notion of the Resurrection, Mr. Morison writes that having seen all the facts one is left with only one conclusion - yes it happened. As strange of an idea as it maybe. Just like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's  Sherlock Holmes -  Mr. Morison showed logically and diligently that after all the facts have been weighed, the solution that is supported by those facts - however unlikely it may sound or look - would have to be the truth.

Guided by his legal training, Frank Morison takes the reader through the last two days of Jesus' ministry, as well as evaluating what information is available on early Christianity during the time of Paul.  The author dissects all available information and walks his readers through a time table that shows so many unusual and inconsistent events that one is left to wonder how one could have missed these clues in the original Scripture.

You feel as though you are the member of a jury and Morison makes his case.

A few things, not directly related to the central subject of the book but nonetheless very unusual to me, are detailed in Morison's descriptions of how Jesus' trial diverted from the standard and norm of "life and death" trials for Jewish citizens of those days. It makes you wonder why Caiphas went to such lengths to break some of the basic legal tennets by which he is supposed to judge.

Did you know that according to prevailing law at that time, no accused Jew could be put on trial for his life during evening hours? No accused person could be questioned by the High Priest himself. The key accounts of witnesses, on which this life and death deliberation hinged, were so disparate from one another, they are to be thrown out.  And one more thought: A sentence of death was never to be handed down immediately after a courts finding. Instead the judges were to take a break from the case and make their pronouncements at a later date (presumably to make sure they were certain in their findings). Did you know that it would have been as likely for Caiphas to send Jesus to the court of Pilate on such short notice after his arrest , in order to actually have Pilate judge him,  as it might be for  you or I to walk into the office of our respective governor's ? Pilate was the presence of Rome - he didn't just jump for any desert priest like Caiphas. Therefore, a preliminary conversation between Caiphas and Pilate had to have taken place, a priori ( to use another legal term). And last but not least the offense for which Jesus was being prosecuted changed no less than three times. That's another completely unheard of incident under Jewish Law.

There are so many odd and inconsistent facts in the story of Christ's passion that by the time the reader gets to an empty tomb you are left saying "of course - what else could it be".  Starting with the well known fact that Jesus could have easily fled into the desert behind Gethsemane when he saw the arrest party make its way across the Kidron valley. That group, by the way, consistet of over 1,100 people - much more than typically assumed. So from the way Jesus almost had himself arrested to the trial to the appearance of what Mark called a "young man in white clothes" (and what Matthew and Luke thought were angels), this book is well worth your time.

Logic is a powerful instrument, especially when used to answer one of the key questions of Western Civilization: Did this really happen? 'Who moved the stone" is not what you would call an entertainingly easy read. But once you get the feel for Morisons reasoning and language (he was English) it is quite a marvelous 200 page concentration of well thought out reasoning.

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