The Inquest
    “So, Jesus took up the reins of the sect founded by Johannes the Baptist, following the Baptist’s death?” Varro established.
    The king nodded in reply.
    Crispus quickly asked another question. He seemed to have developed a particular interest in the subject of baptism. “Did Jesus also baptize people in the Jordan, Your Majesty?”
    “I gather that he left that to his subordinates.”
    “Your Majesty, what do you know about the circumstances surrounding the arrest and execution of Jesus?” Varro asked.
    Agrippa sighed. “I cannot contribute any information in that regard, Varro. I was only three years of age at the time. You must ask people who were there.”
    “Yes, of course.” Varro sounded disappointed.
    “I have my own opinion about the execution, of course,” Agrippa then volunteered.
    Surprised, titillated, Varro leaned forward. “Yes, Your Majesty…?”
    “It is obvious to me that Jesus of Nazareth attempted to conform to the prophesies of Moses and the minor prophets,” the king solemnly declared.
    Varro was mystified. “I am not familiar with this Moyses, Your Majesty. And, the ‘minor prophets’…?”
    Agrippa smiled to himself. So many Romans considered themselves learned men, but, to his mind, more often than not their learning was confined to their own country, their own customs, their own gods, their own origins. So many insular Roman administrators had come to this part of the world full of Roman notions, only to run head-on into the sensitivities of subjects who saw the world through quite different eyes. “I shall not bore you with a long lecture on Judaism, questor. Suffice it to say, it was written, long, long ago, that a holy man, a descendant of an ancient king of the Israelites, would arise to save the people and become their new king. In Hebrew, the Jewish people call this savior the Messiah, or the ‘anointed one’ as you would say. In Greek, this translates as the Christos. This Messiah would be divine. To prove his divinity he would be crucified, and would rise again and walk among men two days after his death.”
    “These prophesies are ancient, you say, Your Majesty?” said Varro.
    “Many centuries old,” Agrippa replied. “To this day most Jews believe and expect that the Messiah is yet to come, but the followers of the Nazarene believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.”
    “Only a handful of Jews believe that the Nazarene was divine?” Martius asked.
    “A small number of Jews, and some Gentiles, or non-Jews, hold that belief, tribune,” Agrippa told him. “There are good reasons to be skeptical of the claim that the Nazarene was the Messiah. Very few people, members of his family and some close followers, claimed to have seen Jesus alive following his crucifixion. If you have proven your divinity by rising from the dead, why would you not go far and wide to show the world that you had risen?”
    “A good point, sire,” said Martius approvingly.
    “We have a copy of a letter from one of the Nazarene’s followers,” said Varro, “in which the author states that the Nazarene set out to have himself crucified.”
    Agrippa responded sagely. “As I have said, it has always been my contention that the Nazarene strove to conform to the old prophesies and so be declared the Messiah. For that reason, he would have willingly delivered himself up to be executed.”
    “Having attracted only a portion of the Baptist’s following,” said Martius, thinking aloud, “Jesus felt that if he did not do something dramatic, such as claiming the mantle of this Messiah or Christos, he would always be seen as a mere disciple of the Baptist. As just a soldier, not the general.”
    “The Jewish people have always been divided by various sects and false prophets,” said Agrippa gravely. “It is the nature of their faith that they will be tempted from the true path from time to time, to be tested by Heaven.”
    “A false prophet?” Varro mused. “Do most

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