By Vernon W. Redekop
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Extra resources for A life for a life?: death penalty on trial
By writing in the sand, Jesus may have spelled out the regulations for the special Jewish courts to handle capital offenses. It was obvious that these had not been fulfilled. '' The woman's accusers wanted to execute her without Roman consent, knowing they would get away with it. Jesus showed that the death penalty of the Old Testament was intended to encourage moral behavior. On several occasions they tried the same trick on Jesus. They tried to prove he was either mad filled with an evil spirit (John 8:48; 10:1933)blasphemous, or a false prophet (John 7:52).
This book also assumes that our decision about the death penalty involves religion on its various levels. A Religious Issue Most churches have taken a stand on the death penalty. Some churches favor capital punishment. For example, the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada asked the Canadian government in 1985 to require the death penalty for first-degree murder. On the other hand, many denominations oppose it. The Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec passed a resolution asking Canadian government for the continued abolition of capital punishment.
To say that the Israelites favored the death penalty is beside the point. In the cases of biblical executions, God made the decision to have them killed. In two cases Moses slept on the decision and God revealed to him that the executions were to take place. In the case of Aachan, who stole some property, lots were used to determine his guilt. In the case of sleeping with the wrong person, the execution by javelin doesn't fit into the deliberate, planned taking of life by the community. Since the story is told as though the executioner did the right thing for the community, it may be included in our study.
A life for a life?: death penalty on trial by Vernon W. Redekop