A few years ago, a couple of news stories—written with tongue firmly in cheek—suggested that time travelers are among us. Or were, as the case may be. One story claimed that a street scene in a 1920s Charlie Chaplin film shows a woman talking on a cellphone. The other story insisted a man at a 1940s gathering was a time traveler as well, sporting modern-day clothing and sunglasses.
Both instances have perfectly logical explanations that don't involve time travel. Still, those were the images that prompted me to write “Gabbatha.”
There’s another motivation as well. We like to pretend that we’re enlightened in the 21st century and would never make the poor choices that our ancestors made. Christians, for example, insist they’d be far more faithful to Jesus than his disciples proved to be. Had today’s believers been in Jerusalem then, they would stick up for him, stand beside him, be prepared to suffer with him.
“Gabbatha” suggests that isn’t so.
Rhys, our time traveler, glimpses a Christ we don’t like to think about: a Messiah who takes on all of our sins and failings. We applaud this in our church services, but we really don’t consider what it must have been like—what it looked like, if we could literally see that ugliness. Rhys sees it, abhors it, and joins in with the deadly chorus.
Finding the ancient Greek phrases was more difficult than I’d expected. Google Translate doesn’t do koine. Fortunately, I found a history text that offered phrases I could write around. I thought it brought a little realism to the final product.