A Kenyan lawyer wants Jesus’ conviction overturned — and doesn’t care that he’s fighting a 2,000-year-old case. Dola Indidis says that Jesus’s “very choosy and viouious prosecution violated his human rights through authoritative misconduct, abuse of office unfairness, and prejudice.” From a religious or even historical standpoint, this is not a very controversial statement, but Indidis is taking it further by filing a case with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), charging long-dead figures such as Pontius Pilate and King Herod, a former Roman emperor, as well as the modern states of Italy and Israel. Indidis seems to have a loose grasp of both historical reality and Christian theology.
Indidis, with either a very poor understanding of history or very poor judgment, believes that because modern-day states have historical ties to the Roman Empire, they are somehow responsible for the Roman Empire’s crimes under the modern legal system. As if suing Italy weren’t baseless enough, the fact that Indidis includes Israel, a state where four-fifths of the population is Jewish, is particularly provoking. Although the crucifixion of a single first-century activist is indeed an injustice, the Roman Empire was responsible for a much greater injustice when it expelled the Jewish people from Judaea in response to their rebellion over the Romans’ iron-fisted rule. The idea of holding modern Israel accountable for the historical crimes of the Roman Empire is particularly shocking and reasserts the anti-Semitic notion that the Jews were somehow responsible for Jesus’s death — a notion that has plagued certain strains of Christian thought for centuries.
Although most scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus, or Yeshua before his name was translated from Hebrew to Greek and then to English, was a real historical figure, Indidis is not interested on pursuing the case on historical grounds and is instead basing his lawsuit on the Bible, adding an extra dimension of absurdity to the case. Aside from the inanity of bringing a religious case to the ICJ, prosecuting others for Jesus’ death is also questionable in terms of Christian theology.
In Christian thought, humans needed Jesus to be convicted and killed, so that he could sacrifice himself and redeem humanity’s sins. In the Bible, God sends his son to Earth to be killed for this very purpose, and in spite of his sacrifice, Jesus forgave everyone, including his killers. Indidis’s attempt to undo the Roman Empire’s conviction of Jesus undermines the very purpose of the sacrifice Jesus made.
The historical and theological questionability of Indidis’s case aside, his knowledge of law is further called into question by the fact that he’s attempting to bring the case to the ICJ — a body that can only have jurisdiction over claims pursued by states, not individuals. In fact, Indidis’s case hit a dead end before it began, as the ICJ has confirmed that “it is not even theoretically possible for us to consider this case.”