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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Religious
  • Language:English
  • Pages:404
  • eBook ISBN:9781617924996

Christ on Trial

An Easter Hymn

by Paul Toscano

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Cliff Harward, a small-time lawyer, has a near-death experience in which Christ appears to him and hires him as defense counsel in a criminal trial brought against Christ by the devil. The charges against Jesus are blasphemy and atrocity. Through a series of twists and turns, this Easter story (written in the tradition of The Devil and Daniel Webster and A Christmas Carol) paints a contemporary portrait of Jesus that manages to be both faithful, subversive, and full of surprises.
Cliff Harward, a lawyer in a solo practice, chokes on a fish bone and has a near death experience in which he is visited by Jesus Christ, who asks Cliff to serve as defense counsel in an criminal trial brought by the devil, who has accused Jesus of blasphemy (for putting himself higher than the law) and of committing atrocities (for refusing to prevent evil, pain, and suffering). Despite the initial doubts of Cliff's wife, Ann, the couple work together to prepare for trial, which is limited to a single day and to three witnesses per side and which takes place before a jury of plain faced men and a mysteriously hooded judge. Satan, the Prosecutor, calls as witnesses Bertrand Russell, Herman Goering, and Ann's father George. Cliff rests his defense on the testimony of witnesses he has had no chance to interview: Abraham (the Old Testament patriarch) and St. Paul (the New Testament apostle). Cliff's third witness turns out to be Ann, who rebuts the testimony of her father but, in the process, exposes herself to the vicious cross-examination of the devil. With each witness the plot becomes more convoluted, roles are strangely reversed, the past is recontextualized, and the characters of Christ and Satan are illuminated.
About the author
Paul Toscano is a writer, sometime theologian, and lawyer who represents debtors in bankruptcy. He has written and published The Sanctity of Dissent, The Sacrament of Doubt (essays on religion), and Invisible Religion in the Public Schools: