Friday, May 22, 2009

Why are you picking on me? (John 18)

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novel The First Circle has several interlocking plots. A young Jewish scientist, Roitmann, takes the risk of warning a beloved mentor to run for his life. The call is tapped[1] and recorded. Convict scientific laborers are given a list of five suspects, and asked to identify the caller using electronic voice analysis. They eliminate three possibilities, so the Soviet Secret Police arrest the two remaining suspects. When one of the convicts objects that one of the two warrants is for an innocent man, the thug in uniform retorts contemptuously, "What? You think that he never did anything? Don't worry, we'll sort him out." Roitmann's story end with him in a cell, suddenly realizing that there is, after all, a difference between good and evil. He is apprehensive about the interrogation coming up, but knows exactly why he was arrested.

His mental condition is far better than the blind terror of the other suspect, who was arrested, and has no idea why he suddenly attracted the feared attention of the police.

The words of Jesus echo the stunned disbelief of every guy who's walking innocently along, minding his own business, and is suddenly ordered to produce his internal passport.
Joh 18:19 Başkâhin İsa'ya, öğrencileri ve öğretisiyle ilgili sorular sordu.
Joh 18:20 İsa onu şöyle yanıtladı: "Ben söylediklerimi dünyaya ıkça söyledim. Her zaman bütün Yahudiler'in toplandıkları havralarda ve tapınakta öğrettim. Gizli hiçbir şey söylemedim.
Joh 18:21 Beni neden sorguya çekiyorsun? Konuştuklarımı işitenlerden sor. Onlar ne söylediğimi biliyorlar."
Joh 18:22 İsa bunları söyleyince, yanında duran görevlilerden biri, "Başkâhine nasıl böyle karşılık verirsin?" diyerek O'na bir tokat attı.
Joh 18:23 İsa ona, "Eğer yanlış bir şey söyledimse, yanlışımı göster!" diye yanıtladı. "Ama söylediklerim doğruysa, niçin bana vuruyorsun?"
And, a few words:
  • Eğer yanlış bir şey söyledimse -- If / evil / some thing / I have said
  • yanlışımı göster -- to my side / show (it)
  • Ama söylediklerim doğruysa -- but / those things I have said / if they are straight, correct, honest
  • niçin bana vuruyorsun -- why / me / do you beat?
The issue, of course, had nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the accused. Political considerations were in the driver's seat.[2] The formal niceties were observed. Even though the leaders of Israel were determined to destroy this upstart, they harangued the Roman governor from outside of his palace. Stepping into that building would have made them ceremonially unfit to eat the passover religious meal later on that day. It's OK to railroad an innocent man to his painful and humiliating death -- but ceremonial rituals must be maintained.


[1] Another English idiom. To "tap" an phone message means to allow someone other than the party being called to listen in on it.

[2] Yes, America has a car culture. To say that something is "in the driver's seat" is to identify the issue or person in control of a situation.

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