Instead of an Oscars party, Sunday night found me in Hunter College's Kaye Auditorium on 68th Street for the annual Erasmus Lecture sponsored by the journal First Things.
It was the first Erasmus Lecture since the death of First Things' founder, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.
This year's lecturer was Professor J.H.H. Weiler of the NYU School of Law. His fine remarks were titled "The Trial of Jesus" and reflected the seminar of a similar name he teaches at NYU Law.
I am proud that the law school of my alma mater provides such a course for its students.
The Seminar will examine the historical context, the factual matrix and the legal issues concerning the trial(s) of Jesus by the Jewish and Roman authorities. Readings will include some of the principal primary sources and a selection from the vast secondary literature. For serious learners. Tons to read and plenty of hard work. Do not enroll just for curiosity.
Professor Weiler's remarks were textured and thorough and gentle. I was particularly interested in his speculation that the historical impact of the trial may have been different were it not for the Gospel of John in which the "Jews" play the greater part.
Had only the three synoptic gospels been part of the New Testament, he said, more emphasis may have been place on the role of the Roman authorities in the condemnation of Jesus.
Professor Weiler rightly noted that, unlike the Jewish people, later-century Italians were never blamed for the crucifixion.
An aside: After the lecture, I had the pleasure of meeting The Anchoress in person for the first time.
The image above is "The Morning Judgment" or "Le jugement du matin" by James Tissot. It is part of the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.