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PRESS    9'1m*f RT: A press conference after the resurrection

(RT == Readers' Theater: requires little or no memorization,
little or no rehearsal. An indefinite number of reporters are
salted throughout the audience)

CENTURION -- (enters wearing Roman helmet, chest armor, tunic
and sandals, crosses to podium ignoring reporters' questions)

(all reporters stand, shout overlapping lines)

REPORTER --- Is it true that the body disappeared?

REPORTER --- Has anyone found the body?

REPORTER --- Is it true that the body was stolen?

REPORTER --- Can you confirm that there was a resurrection?

REPORTER --- How many witnesses were there?

CENTURION -- (holds up hands for quiet)

REPORTER --- Is it true that the governor's wife is involved.

REPORTER --- Is it true that the governor's wife predicted a
disaster?

REPORTER --- Why isn't the governor here to explain things?

REPORTER --- Can you tell us where the body was buried?

REPORTER --- Is it true that the rabbi predicted his own
resurrection?

CENTURION -- Quiet! (waits for quiet) My name is Malthus. I am a
centurion in the palace guard of his honor the Governor of the
province of Palestine. Governor Pilate has asked me to make a
brief statement to the press. So, here it is. (reads) A Jewish
rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth was executed by crucifixion three
days ago. His body was buried in the tomb of an official of the
Jewish temple immediately after his death. This morning just
before sunrise, the body was apparently stolen by the
overzealous disciples of the rabbi in an effort to make it look
like the resurrection which had been prophesied by the rabbi
himself. At this time we have still not located the body. But
when we do, we will make it available to the press so that this
hoax may be put to rest. (looks to audience) That's all I have
for now. Thank you. (turns to exit)

REPORTER --- Mr Malthus, is it true that Jesus was not really
dead when he was laid to rest in the tomb?

CENTURION -- I'm sorry, I'm not prepared to answer any
questions.

REPORTER --- It's a simple question, Mr Malthus. Was Jesus dead
when when he was taken down from the cross or not?

CENTURION -- He was dead. Now, if you'll excuse me.... (turns)

REPORTER --- How do you know he was dead?

CENTURION -- Because I the presiding officer at his execution.
(turns)

REPORTER --- You still haven't answered the question.

CENTURION -- (impatient) When a Roman officer presides at an
execution, he has one main duty: to make sure the prisoner is
dead before he is removed from the cross. To make sure a
prisoner is dead, we slide a vary sharp spear under the
prisoners ribs and UP (demonstrates) into his heart and lungs.

(reporter's body reacts as if stabbed)

CENTURION -- So, even if he hasn't died from suffocation from
the crucifixion the prisoner won't survive a three inch gash in
his heart and lungs. In the case of Jesus, blood and water
poured out of the spear wound, indicating that he had been dead
for several minutes or even hours. (turns)

REPORTER --- Is it true that the tomb was heavily secured and
guarded in anticipation of this body snatching.

CENTURION -- I told you, I'm not prepared to answer questions.

REPORTER --- You are in charge of security for Governor Pilate,
are you not, Mr Malthus?

CENTURION -- Well, yes, I am. But...

REPORTER --- So, if security was beefed up around the tomb where
the rabbi was buried, you would have been the one in charge of
it, would you not?

CENTURION -- Yes. Yes, I was.

REPORTER --- So, was security beefed up around the tomb or not?

CENTURION -- (pauses, examines the faces in the audience) Yes,
it was. We sealed the tomb. That's all I can say for now. I'll
keep you posted... (turns to exit)

REPORTER --- Can you tell us HOW the tomb was sealed, Mr
Malthus?

CENTURION -- (pauses, examines the faces in the audience) The
tomb itself is a small cave carved into the side of a limestone
cliff. We covered the mouth of the cave with large rock and
after the rock was in place, we sealed it with hot wax around
the edges, so that if someone moved the rock, the wax seal would
have to be broken. Thank you for your attention. Now, I...

REPORTER --- Mr Malthus, how much did the rock weigh?

CENTURION -- It weighed about one ton.

REPORTER --- One ton? Two thousand pounds?

CENTURION -- Yes. Now, if you'll excuse me...

REPORTER --- Mr Malthus. Did you place any guards in front of
the tomb?

CENTURION -- (deep breath) Yes. The temple leaders were worried
that the disciples of Jesus would try to steal the body and make
it look like a resurrection. So, at the request of the Temple
leaders we posted guards in front of the tomb around the clock
for the last three days.

REPORTER --- So, in order for the disciples of Jesus to steal
the body, they would not only have to move a one-ton rock, they
would also have to overpower the guards. Is that right?

CENTURION -- We're not quite sure HOW the disciples stole the
body. We were just told that they did.

REPORTER --- Were any of the guards injured?

CENTURION -- No. No, they weren't.

REPORTER --- So, these well-armed soldiers let the body be
stolen without a fight?

CENTURION -- I'm told the guards all fell asleep.

REPORTER --- Mr Malthus, what's the punishment for a guard who
falls asleep on guard duty?

CENTURION -- Under Roman law, that infraction is punishable by
death.

REPORTER --- May we speak to the guards before they are
executed?

CENTURION -- The guards are not available for questioning. They
have been transferred to the garrison at Caesarea.

REPORTER --- Are you saying that the guards have been
transferred instead of being executed?

CENTURION -- That was not my decision. His honor the governor
made that decision.

REPORTER --- How convenient.

CENTURION -- Excuse me?

REPORTER --- Is that why Governor Pilate didn't appear at this
press conference?

CENTURION -- The governor is not feeling well.

REPORTER --- Is it true there was an earthquake around the time
the body disappeared?

CENTURION -- Yes. I believe there was.

REPORTER --- So, what you're telling us is that the guards slept
while a two thousand pound rock was rolled away from the mouth
of the tomb AND during an earthquake?

CENTURION -- That's their story. Yes.

REPORTER --- Mr Malthus, is it true that several hundred feet of
body wrappings were unwound from the body before it was taken
away?

CENTURION -- Yes. The wrappings are still in the tomb.

REPORTER --- Do you really believe that grave robbers would take
the time to unwrap the body before they stole it?

CENTURION -- I can only report to you what was was reported to
me.

REPORTER --- You don't believe this story any more than we do,
do you, Mr Malthus?

CENTURION -- I'm sorry, I'm just a soldier. I am not allowed to
interject my personal opinions into matters of state.

REPORTER --- Is it true that while Jesus was alive he healed one
of your own servants who had been paralyzed?

CENTURION -- (pause) Yes. Yes, that's true. But I don't see what
that has to do with....

REPORTER --- Can you tell us what medicines Jesus gave your
servant to heal him.

CENTURION -- He... He didn't give him any medicine. None at all.

REPORTER --- Well, how did he heal him?

CENTURION -- He just gave the word and he was healed.

REPORTER --- You mean Jesus didn't even touch your servant?

CENTURION -- (pause) Jesus didn't go to my house. He was across
town.

(all reporters rise, pause, exchange eye contact)

REPORTER --- You mean Jesus healed your servant sight unseen?

REPORTER --- He said HEAL and he was healed?

REPORTER --- Across town?

REPORTER --- Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

REPORTER --- Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, just
as he predicted?

CENTURION -- I'm sorry, I'm just a soldier. I am not allowed to
speak about matters of religion.

REPORTER --- Mr Malthus, this is not a matter of religion. Under
these circumstances, it would take more faith to believe that
the body was stolen, than to believe that a man who performed
miracles could rise from the dead. Isn't that right?

CENTURION -- I.... I'm sorry. I really must go. (exits)

REPORTER --- (follows) Mr Malthus, are you a Christian?

REPORTER --- (follows) When did you first meet Jesus?

REPORTER --- (follows) When did you become a Christian?

REPORTER --- (follows) How did you become a Christian?

REPORTER --- (follows) Can we speak to your servant who was
healed?

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