Friday 19 April 2019

Join #HistoricalFiction author and historian, JB Richards, as she takes a look at the history behind Good Friday @JeanneRichard11

Good Friday:
 Finding the Way Home!

By JB Richards

;Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteyer for @eberhardgros 

"I may be an historian who relies on cold, hard data to reveal the past, but I also hold dear to my belief that—legend or not—the unique teachings that came out of 1st-century Galilee and Judea can be attributed to one extraordinary individual who saw far beyond our mortal world into the world beyond, leaving us with a message of hope, faith, and charity, and perhaps most importantly, a way Home."
JB Richards

y day’s end, it would all be over. He would celebrate no more seders with his family and friends... He would no longer preach to the excited masses who came from near and far each and every day to hear his heartfelt descriptions of what life was like in his Father’s kingdom... He would enjoy no more days, standing on the hills outside Jerusalem, watching the sun rising over the well-populated City of David before it arced over the splendid Temple Mount to finally set on the sweeping horizon beyond the Mediterranean Sea.

Yeshua grieved not for himself, but for those he was leaving behind. Today was his last day here in the mortal realm. By the time sunset came to the denizens of the great city that Golgotha, the place of his impending execution, overlooked, he would be Home. His soul would be mended and His Mission completed. As the Christ, He would assume His place overseeing Heaven and Earth and accept His rightful place at the right hand of His Heavenly Father.

Yeshua knew his detractors were coming long before they arrived. With mild curiosity, he watched the procession of angry men making their way up the hillside to the old olive press. He and his four closest disciples, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, along with their old fishing comrades, James and John—who Yeshua had jokingly nicknamed The Sons of Thunder, had retreated there after the final meal they had shared with the others earlier that evening. Even as Yeshua pondered his grim future and prayed to his Heavenly Father to protect his dear friends during the trials they were about to endure, the stalwart fisherman who had faithfully followed him since the earliest days of his ministry, when he had preached on the shores of Capernaum and throughout the Galilee, had already succumbed to sleep.

Of course, Peter was snoring... again.

Yeshua smiled wistfully. He shut his eyes for just an instant as he savored the memories of the many nights they had slept out in the open like this. He was calmed by the sound of John mumbling in his sleep and the other’s slow-paced breathing. Like a Guardian Angel, he faithfully kept watch over The Four as they remained blissfully unaware of the danger moving in on them.

Closer and closer, with each passing cloud in the night sky... with each purposeful step of the procession... with each slipping breath, Yeshua’s felt his Destiny looming nearer and he became quite somber. Earlier, he had retreated to the Mount of Olives after he asked the four men to accompany him to the old grove familiarly called The Garden of Olives. He expected that they would sit-watch and pray along with him, for he already knew these final, precious few hours would be his last here on Earth.

Oh, how Yeshua had hoped to spend more time teaching them, preparing them for their own journeys, and above all, enjoying the warmth of their friendship and love. But now, time had run out. Pendulous tears streamed down his cheeks, soaking his well-trimmed beard as he struggled to come to terms with his Fate. After several hours of prayer, and bargaining with the One Who had sent him here, he realized there was nothing left to give but Himself.

When the arrest party had made it halfway up the hillside, Yeshua briefly glanced down to see that his hands were shaking badly. His breathing had turned shallow as he watched each step progress in his direction. His heart beat wildly and he pulled his mantle snugly around his own form as he tried hard to keep himself from falling apart.

He knew what they would do to him after he was positively identified and taken into custody. He knew, in the end, he was going to die.

Nevertheless, whether it was out of sheer fear or some loss of sanity, he suddenly stood as upright as the ancient olive tree centered at his back, rooted his feet to the ground, and silently swore to see his Father’s vision through... no matter the cost.

Photo courtesy of Antoine Perrier for

As the men crested the nearest bern, Yeshua saw that one of his closest disciples, Judas Iscariot, was in the lead. He cocked his head, troubled as he noted the darkness and fear shrouding the man’s troubled eyes.

As soon as Judas felt someone’s gaze upon him, and saw a man standing there like a silent sentinel waiting for them at the top of the hill, he faltered and stopped dead in his tracks.

The image of the lone figure keeping vigil at the top of the hill burned into Judas’ soul. He knew it was Yeshua, and he kept his gaze locked on his former teacher—his rabbi—even when a temple soldier in full armor gave him a rough nudge forward with the hilt of his broadsword.

The perceived confidence of the man, who so placidly awaited their arrival, brought up some fearful question in Judas’ mind...

Will Yeshua allow himself to be taken into custody, or will he choose to fight?

Judas shuddered to think which choice the unpredictable Galilean rabbi would make. As a member of the Sicari, a secretive zealot sect determined to oust the Romans from the Promised Land, Judas knew from experience that whoever held the high ground nearly always won the battle. And as the line of men continued to snake their way forward toward their intended prey, the former Apostle’s keen mind was already taking flight...

Is there a chance that Yeshua has already rounded up a hidden band of allies—those who, along with the four big fishermen, would fight for their freedom? Or, was he planning to use those incredible powers of his to fight off his arrestors, neutralize Pilate, and usurp Herod Antipas?

Judas hoped it was the latter, for he had often coaxed Yeshua into using his powers, declaring himself to be the Messiah, and take charge of the Zealots in an armed rebellion against their Roman oppressors. If Yeshua chose this route and overcame his arrestors, he could then march on Jerusalem and force both Herod and Pilate to bow to him and his army.

Judas’ eyes glistened as he thought about the outcome for this timeline. He would gladly fall back in line with his rabbi if Yeshua could prove that he was now ready to lead a military coup. After all, it was what Judas had wanted for Yeshua all along—to prove the Galilean was the long-awaited Messiah and crown him king... King of the Jews.

Photo by William Krause for

Peter awakened to the sound of many footfalls on the ground. He was groggy as he watched a cohort of men—a few members of the Sanhedrin and several soldiers led by Judas—step forth into the clearing. Wary, he shook his brother, Andrew, and James awake, warning them to remain silent before cautiously pulling his sword out from underneath his mantle. As John was quickly roused awake by James, Peter stayed his weapon and watched Judas walk several paces forward to embrace Yeshua.

It was a strange scene to Peter and the others, this mixed body of men coming out to personally meet Yeshua. The big fisherman felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand straight up just before Judas parted from Yeshua and a temple soldier promptly clamped his wrists in iron chains.

The moments afterward were a blur for the four Apostles and the rabble of arrestors...

Peter raised his sword high up into the air, shouting incoherently as he rushed one of the soldiers. He had meant to slash his throat, but only nicked his ear when Yeshua suddenly reached out and shoved the man aside. Yeshua immediately shouted for all of them to stay their weapons with such force, it seemed the entire Universe held its breath and remained at a complete standstill for several moments afterward.

Yeshua picked up the man’s ear which was now lying at his feet and beckoned the soldier to draw near. The man flinched slightly as Yeshua raised the ear up beside his head. After gracing the man with a reassuring smile, Yeshua pulled back his hand to reveal the ear had miraculously been put back into place.

The awe that everyone felt as a result of witnessing Yeshua’s feat was palpable but short lived when one of the Sanhedrin members exclaimed it was merely a trick... a sleight of hand. The healed soldier looked on with a mixture of confusion and gratitude as one of his peers followed orders and grabbed Yeshua’s bound wrists roughly, tugging him along as the arresting party and their victim made their way back down the Mount of Olives and back into the city.

Photo by Mat Reding for

The Passion of Christ runs throughout Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. The true story of what made Jesus such a compelling and iconic figure, however, begins here—upon his arrest. His is a well-known tale among the faithful who observe the most grave and sorrowful holiday on the Christian calendar—the day The Lord was beaten, tortured, tried, and finally, crucified and buried... Good Friday.

Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen for

The details of what Jesus endured on Good Friday are related in minute and excruciating detail by the authors of the four Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament—Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. From the back and forth handoffs between Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate—two men who were each unwilling to accept responsibility for sentencing Jesus despite both harboring wishes to have him eradicated. From the jailer’s mockery of the preacher’s alleged claim to be the King of the Jews, to the placement of a crown of thorns mercilessly shoved onto his head, to the scourging of his flesh with forty lashes, to the nailing of his hands and feet on the cross, to the piercing of his heart with a Roman lance, to the lowering of his battered and bruised body from the cross, to the placement of his unwashed corpse in a newly hewn donated crypt, the incredibly powerful story of what happened to Jesus on that fateful day in Jerusalem is told with such clarity and emotion it is nearly impossible to doubt the voracity of the biblical accounts as real history.

The very symbols of Good Friday—the crucifix and the cross—are venerated by more than 2-billion Christians in countries all across the globe. Even among other faiths, these symbols are instantly recognized as powerful Christian icons.

But, what does History have to say about Good Friday?

Independent of the New Testament, are there any independent and factual historical accounts that record the events of Holy Week... of the Passion of Christ... of Good Friday... or of Easter? Is there even a single mention through any independent sources from that time that a man named Yeshua (Jesus’ true name in his native Aramaic tongue), who became the one we now call the Christ, actually existed at all outside the Gospel accounts?

When Mary Anne Yarde first approached me about writing a guest blog for Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots, I was torn as to how to approach the subject of Good Friday. As a fiction author, I always have leeway to be creative with characters and situations in a story, but as a biblical scholar and historian, I depend on verifiable evidence—that which can be found and proven by several different sources—to know the truth. With over 2-billion Christians believing that Jesus was the Son of God—His only begotten Son—I’d certainly be stirring up a certain amount of controversy by approaching this story from a historical point of view.

Of course, saying that Jesus never existed is a slap in the face to most believers. It would be akin to telling a Buddhist that Siddartha Gautama never lived, or trying to convince a Hindu that Brahma and the other gods never interacted with people on Earth. At this time, however, there is little hard evidence to support the life of an individual we refer to as Jesus, including his other familiar monikers, such as Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus of Galilee, Jesus Son of Mary, and Jesus Christ.

Many believers who are anxious to support the notion of a historical Jesus point to a vast collection of religious relics as proof of his life here on Earth. The famous Shroud of Turin is believed to have been the burial shroud of Jesus which was left behind in the tomb after his resurrection. This length of linen cloth depicts the negative anterior and posterior images of a what is alleged to be a crucified man’s corpse, complete with blood markings from a scourging, a crown of thorns, holes in the wrists and feet, and a puncture to the upper right torso. It is a fascinating, if not convincing, Christian artifact. But, DNA testing, radio carbon dating, and a multitude of other scientific tests and research have thus far been disappointing for those who hope to prove that the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial cloth of Jesus.

Turin Shroud before 2002 restoration. Photo courtesy of

Shortly after the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte rescued a crown of thorns along with other relics. It was given to the National Library in 1804 until Christ’s Crown was sent to the Archbishops of Paris on August 10, 1806, when it was placed in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. According to the website of the Cathedral of Notre Dame (, a goldsmith, using an architect’s design, fashioned a circular container made of crystal and gold in 1896 to hold the woven rose shrub wreath which is on public display during Lent. It is worth noting that the Catholic Church has allowed no modern studies of the wreath to verify its authenticity or date it to Christ’s time.

Other relics of the crucifixion that are held in multiples by cathedrals and churches at many sites around the globe include various vessels that have been labeled as the Holy Grail—the chalice Jesus used at the Last Supper, dozens of nails that supposedly pierced the wrists and feet of Jesus (The Gospels records three nails, and newer findings on 1st-century Roman crucifixion methods indicate that perhaps as many as 4 nails may have been used.), and hundreds, if not thousands of minute slivers of wood alleged to have come from the True Cross.

History can only trace many of these aforementioned items as far back as the 4th-century, when the Emperor Constantine sent his mother, Helena, to the Holy Land to look for physical evidence of Christ’s life. With compensation and precious gifts given to the many who brought treasures to Saint Helen, and fortunes to be made selling artifacts to the newly-found Church, it’s not at all surprising that the world can claim as many multiples of relics as basilicas and churches can hold.

Logic dictates that not every relic the Church claims to be related to the life of Jesus—or the Saints for that matter—is genuine. Many of the items that the Church holds as sacred, and originating from the time of Jesus, came to the popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests usually came to them under the most questionable of circumstances, and certainly with no certificates of authenticity to support said claims. Unless DNA evidence can be found that ties the bloodline of Jesus—of which we have none at this time—to these items, not one of these items can contribute any proof at all as to the existence of an historical Jesus.

By now, you must be asking, “Historical events, like Trajan’s March, were important to the Romans—Didn’t they keep any records about the trial of Jesus?”

Trajan’s Column is a Roman triumphal column located in Rome, Italy, that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. Photo courtesy of

Although the Romans did keep records about everything from battles, to trade routes, to financial data, in Jesus’ time, Roman officials governing occupied areas like Galilee and Judea acted quite independently of Rome and—at best—they only sent sporadic reports to Rome or the Emperor himself. Messages that were sent from governors or prefects ruling occupied territories referred mostly to issues that were considered to be of significant value to the Empire, detailed military maneuvers, or benefitted the governor’s own career. Short of a direct threat against Rome, unless and until the Emperor was informed that the governance of an occupied land was being mishandled, or was militarily or economically threatening to the Empire, local leaders were left to keep the peace, clean up their own messes, and rule by their own accord.

Local criminal hearings, like that which allegedly took place between Pontius Pilate and Jesus, were usually dispatched quickly and with cruel efficiency. Since the outcomes of arrests and the sentencing of criminals came under the sole discretion of the local authorities, such news matters seldom traveled past the immediate borders of a particular territory. If ever a criminal hearing was held to determine the fate of a local young religious zealot like Jesus, it would have been considered as a local matter—a common event. Pilate, who was recorded by History to be a man determined to enhance his own career, certainly would have deemed such a trial unworthy and unnecessary news for his glorious Emperor. Certainly, he would not have ordered such a common trial to be recorded for posterity. We are, therefore, quite unlikely to dig up any historical documentation substantiating such an event.

So, did the famed meeting between Jesus and Pilate that was depicted in the Gospels ever take place?

Even though the chances are slim, there is always a possibility that the trial of Jesus before Pilate could have indeed been held, but—and it’s a big but—at this point I’m time, without any official documentation or record, both the trial and the existence of Jesus remain unsubstantiated in History.

Is there any mention at all of Jesus by any credible source?

Throughout all the research that historians and biblical scholars have performed and gathered over the centuries, only one mention of Jesus may be considered as evidence that this man—the actual historical figure—may once have lived a real life in the Middle East. Unfortunately, this reference is quite brief.

Evidence to support the existence of an historical Jesus (a real-life, living being) comes from the annals of Flavius Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (Book 20, Chapter 9, 1) in which he refers to the stoning of "James the brother of Jesus" (aka James the Just) by order of Ananus ben Ananus who was a Herodian-era High Priest. Recorded by a highly respected source, this single mention is considered extremely valuable in the search for the historical Jesus since it is the only proof outside the Gospels that suggests he did exist.

It’s worth noting that, in the Testimonium Flavianum (meaning the testimony of Flavius Josephus) in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities, there is a passage describing the condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Roman authorities which many scholars point to as further proof of Jesus’ existence here on Earth. However, the earliest secure reference to this passage was found in the writings of the 4th-century Christian apologist, Eusebius, who extensively used Josephus' works as a source substantiating his own Historia Ecclesiastica. Most historians and biblical scholars agree that this passage may have been devised as a ruse by Eusebius to bolster belief in Christianity and provide an outside Jewish authority that would support the Gospel accounts on the life of Christ.

“The Sermon on the Mount” by Artist Carl Bloch, 1877.

According to believers in the New Testament and other so-called “Hidden Gospel” accounts, Jesus walked the Earth as God/God’s Son made incarnate. His mission was to be sacrificed on the cross to absolve humankind of all sin and to open the doors to life everlasting in his Father’s Kingdom.

For historians who rely on concrete evidence, however, the proper physical evidence remains elusive and undiscovered. In the end, biblical scholars and historians alike will debate the question of Jesus’ existence and his place in history until that proof is found.

The simple fact is that one cannot say for certain whether or not a man named Jesus ever actually existed. The only real truth we have at this time is that there are over 2-billion Christians who believe in Christ and follow his teachings more than 2,000-years after this man left behind his teachings. These teachings incorporated both Jewish and Eastern philosophies, along with other ideas and beliefs that were quite unique to the area and that somehow developed and flourished around this same time. This leaves us with a very pertinent and compelling question regarding the origin of the early Christian movement—If Jesus was not the individual responsible for implementing and establishing the core beliefs of Christianity, then who was?

I may be an historian who relies on cold, hard data to reveal the past, but I also hold dear to my belief that—legend or not—the unique teachings that came out of 1st-century Galilee and Judea can be attributed to one extraordinary individual who saw far beyond our mortal world into the world beyond, leaving us with a message of hope, faith, and charity, and perhaps most importantly, a way Home.

Photo courtesy of Laura Vince for    

For the sequel to this article, please feel free to read “Easter: A Matter Of Faith” by JB Richards on The Writers Block Blog.


From "Miriamne the Magdala: The First Chapter in The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series" to "The First Christmas: A Yeshua and Miri Short" to "Once Upon a Fabulous Time" - An Adult Fairytale Collection by the Indie Fabs, find all of Author/Historian JB Richards books at

Subscribe to the Indieverse Newsletter on our website for exclusive announcements regarding future releases by JB Richards, including "Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road", along with my new Fantasy series, the Dragon’s Heir Trilogy—“The Curse of the Dragon Stone: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 1” (due for release on Amazon at the end of April 2019), "The Sorceress’ Vengeance: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 2” (to be released at the end of June 2019), and “Magic Awakens: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 3” (to be released at the end of September 2019)—and "Sefer Raziel: The First Chapter in the Heaven's Guard Series" (release date to be determined)!

JB Richards

JB Richards is an historian and international multi-award-winning, multi-genre Amazon, Goodreads, and Xlibris author. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and History.

Richards is the founder and driving force behind the Indies Helping Indies Book Review Project (IHIBRP)—which she created and initiated in April 2017 to provide qualifying Indie authors with high-quality book reviews and free promotional services, the Indieverse Resource Library (IRL)—a free online eLibrary for Indie authors and readers who wish to obtain information and guidance on a variety of book-related topics and services, the Indieverse Newsletter—a community-based, up-to-date resource for Indie authors and readers, and the #IndieBookParade—a promotional vehicle which brings Indie authors and readers together in celebration of various holidays. Richards is also the founder of the Indie Fabs—a team of authors who are equally dedicated to offering free assistance, guidance, and support to Indie (independent) authors with the aim of building strong bonds of cooperation and fellowship within the Indie community. Richards has been a member of various author venues, such as the Authors Den, the Women Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG), and various writing groups since 2016.

In November 2016, Richards was nominated “Top Female Author” by In April 2017, she received a nomination for “Author of the Year” in the Indie Author Books 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. In 2017, Richards was voted Best Fantasy Reviewer in the Virtual Fantasy Con Awards. She received a nomination for the Liebster Award for her IHIBRP blog in July 2018. Richards is also a regular contributor to several Indie news magazine publications, including Indie Publishing News and Golden Box Books Magazine. Her books have been featured in Reader’s Choice Magazine (2016-18), Reality Bites Magazine (2017-18), Golden Box Books’ All About Love 2018 Valentines Day publication, and Books Go Social’s 2018 Your Secret Library Holiday Magazine.

Richards’ fantasy saga, “The Dragon’s Heir”, is included in a multi-award-winning adult fairy tale anthology called “Once Upon a Fabulous Time” that was published in December 2017. Her multi-award-winning debut novel, "Miriamne the Magdala"—Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 Golden Quill Award—was published in 2015 after more than 20 years of extensive research into the lives and times of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Her reimagining of their lives together provides an intimate, yet provocative and controversial look into a relationship nourished by a rich culture, forged by ancient traditions, transformed by an insurmountable love, and threatened by a turbulent and oppressive political landscape. “The First Christmas: A Yeshua and Miri Novel Series Short”—released in December 2017–received a Golden Squirrel Independent Book Award from Book Squirrel for Best Holiday Themed Novel for 2018, and her upcoming sequel, “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road”, is currently in production. In November 2018, Richards completed her first two fantasy novels, “The Curse of the Dragon Stone: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 1”, to be released in April 2019, and “The Sorceress’ Vengeance: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 2”, to be released in July 2019, while participating in NaNoWriMo2018 (National Novel Writing Month). While she is working to complete “Magic Awakens: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 3” for release in September 2019, Richards is also developing several other multi-genre novel series’ including The Heaven’s Guard Series, a Mystery series, a Sci-Fi series, and a number of illustrated book series for children.

Richards is a lifelong resident of Manchester, New Hampshire, where she resides with her husband of 35-years, Daniel, her son, Matthew, and her two rambunctious but lovable fur babies, Monty and Ayden.

Connect with JB Richard: EmailWebsiteFacebookGoodreadsTwitterPinterest InstagramBookBub.

1 comment:

  1. Such an insightful post, Ms Richards. As a lifelong Christian I have had moment of doubt as to how accurate the story of the Passion is. I have always suspected that the story has been embellished by the Church for its own purposes, which goes against everything that Jesus stood for, and of course, any evidence that went agains the Churches agenda would be swiftly destroyed. My daughter took me to the cinema to see The Davinci Code many years ago. At first, I was reluctant to go, having heard from others, that it is a rather controversial take on Christianity, but I came out of that cinema nodding my head in agreement, and I am doing the same with your post. Did Jesus exist? I am certain that he did. Can the story in the Bible be 100% relied upon as accurate, parts of it, more definitely, but others not so much.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx