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Christ’s Execution in a Marble Jar March 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern , trackback

Beachcombing must yet again apologise to his readers for a brief post, but the last exams before spring break need to be corrected (hurrah! hurrah!) and in any case the Huntsville Daily Times (29 Jan 1911: MO) wanted to do all the talking for him.

George Carter, son of the late I. M. Carter and nephew of Uncle Joe Carter of this city has handed us a newspaper clipping which as been in the Jackson-Carter families for about ninety years. George says his father came in possession of the copy of the ‘warrant’ in 1874; Will Jackson gave it to him and that Mr. Jackson’s father brought it from Kentucky to Missouri in an early day and that it had been in the Jackson family long before they came to Missouri. The clipping shows age all right and reads as follows: ‘Death Warrant of Christ’.

The what? The newspaper continues with a quotation from this extraordinary artefact (ahem!). Beach could have cut and run with the Missouri connection but he loved the yellowing paper being passed from father to elder son as the family crowded around the death bed. Anyway, back to the actual death document.

Chance has just put into our hands the most imposing and interesting judicial documents to all Christians, that every has been recorded in human annals; that is the identical death warrant of our Lord Jesus Christ. We transcribe the document as it has been handed us. Sentence rendered by Pontius Pilate acting governor of lower Galilee, stating that Jesus of Nazareth shall suffer death on the Cross.

The document is then quoted from.

In the year seventeen of the empire Tiberius Caesar, and the 25th day of March, in the City of Holy Jerusalem, Anna and Caiophas being priest sacrifactors of the people of God, Pontius Pilate, Governor of Lower Galilee, sitting on the presidential chair of the practory, condemn Jesus of Nazareth to die on the Cross between two thieves, the great and notorious evidence of the people saying:
1. Jesus is a seducer.
2. He is seditious.
3. He is an enemy of the law.
4. He calls himself also the Son of God.
5. He calls himself falsely the King of Israel.
6. He entered into the temple, followed by a multitude bearing palm branches in their hands.
Order the first centurian, Quillus Cornelius, to lead him to the place of execution.
Forbid to any person whatsoever, either poor or rich, to oppose the death of Jesus.
The witnesses who signed the condemnation of Jesus are viz: 1.—Daniel Bobana, a Pharisee; 2. Joannus Hoabable; 3. Raphael Robani; 4. Capet, a citizen.
Jesus shall go out of the city of Jerusalem by the gate of Stuenur.
The above sentence is engraved on a copper plate; on one side are written these words: A similar plate is sent to each tribe.

Other sources – there are many – claim that the plate was found in a marble jar ‘while excavating in the ancient city of Aquila in the kingdom of Naples in the year 1810’: no mention is made of which tribe the artifact was sent to and, in any case, sending a copy to each tribe seems to so third-century-BC. Also it was discovered ‘by the Commissioners of Arts of the French Army. At the expedition of Naples, it was enclosed in a box of ebony and preserved in the sacristy of the Chartem (Certosa). The French translation was made by the Commissioners of Arts. The original is in the Hebrew language.’

The ‘original’ is ‘peculiarly’ close to the Gospel account: if someone faked a document today they’d at least have the decency to throw in some reference to Christ’s bloodline or Jack the Ripper. Anyway, enough moaning. The newspaper report concludes with the following interesting addition.

At the sale of his collection of antiquities, etc., it was bought by Lord Howard, for 2,800 francs.

So a Lord Howard in the early nineteenth century: who could this be? Did this sale ever take place? Who put this honestly-not-very-imaginative fake together? And does the death warrant still survive today? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

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30 April 2012: Rayg brings up a reference: I just had a brief search: the story kicks off around 1839 in French journals (see Google Books – “Lord Howard” “Denon” – for that period). The sale itself did exist: this must be the 1826 sale of the Baron Vivant Denon’s museum collection after his death. See Museum Masters, page 104), which says there was a catalogue … and here it is:   Jay meanwhile has a wanted poster to go with this. Thanks Jay and Rayg!