The John Wesley Fellowship began in 1977, with Steve Harper and yours truly being two of the first John Wesley Fellows chosen. I have told the story of Ed Robb and AFTE this past Fall on the blog so I will not repeat it. Here are some of the senior fellows attending the meeting. […]
CHAPTER FORTY FIVE: STONE AT HOME
Patrick Stone arose Friday, packed his bags, paid his tab, and revved his engine for a trip back to Monaco. This time, the Chateau gates opened for its new owner. He arrived in time for afternoon tea on the terrace. Anjolie brought him fresh shrimp salad in an avocado shell, a glass of local white wine and the recent editions of the papers – it was time to catch up on the news.
Stone tended to read the papers back to front, doing the crossword and the comics first, leafing through the sports and the business news, and finally looking at the dreary and depressing headlines. He came to Thursday’s headlines. At that moment, he choked and spent the next minute trying to stop coughing while he wiped his eyes.
On page one of every major newspaper to be found in Monaco there was a story about the Lazarus stone and the other related artifacts.
The Times of London read –
STONE STOLEN: MUSEUM HOODWINKED.
The NY Times article headlined –
LAZARUS STONE RAISES LEGAL ISSUES
The International Herald Tribune article reported –
LAZARUS STONE REAL, BUT NOT THE DEAL.
Reading the article closely now he notice that his name was nowhere mentioned, thankfully, but the story did say that the British Museum was co-operating with the Jerusalem authorities. Reading on, he discovered a quotation from the Jerusalem press conference – “prosecute to the full extent of the law.” Stone murmured to himself, “I’m a US citizen. The long arm of the Jerusalem law can’t stretch this far. Besides, they don’t even know I’m here. I haven’t used my real passport since London, or any credit cards. How can they find me?” He was wrong about that, for he had forgotten to use his fake passport at the Monaco border so preoccupied was he with he thoughts about the house.
All the same, he decided he would go ahead and transfer the rest of his millions into his Credit Lyonnais account, because he remembered that St. James had his Swiss bank account number. Going back into the house to the library where he had set up his laptop he hopped on the internet, went to the bank website, punched in his access code and account number and the following message came up ACCESS DENIED: ACCOUNT FROZEN. A wave of panic hit Stone and his thoughts began to race in various directions.
Thus far he had paid $2.5 million for the house, $100,000 plus on the car, and who knows how much on hotel tabs, food, clothes and the realtor’s fees. He had been informed that the upkeep on the house and the staff cost $10,000 a month. There was in addition the usual expenses like gas, food, heating, cooling, not to mention the enormous insurance premiums.
When Stone calmed down he figured he still had plenty of money left from the $10 million he had transferred into Credit Lyonnais. He knew the Swiss Bank would never give out the number of the account into which the money had been shifted. They were famous, or infamous, for stonewalling such requests. Nevertheless, he decided he had best retain an attorney, so on the advice of his butler he called a local firm, chatted for a while with one of the barristers, promised to send in a retainer fee, and felt altogether better. Let the world fuss and fume, he was safe here in his fortress, his Chateau Puissant, his powerful home.
Authorities on both sides of the French border with Monaco were busy Friday after being alerted to the possibility of an alleged international criminal in their midst. Extradition papers were being drawn up. The Duchy especially had no desire to harbor a rich thief in a nation full of rich people worried about neighbors who steal stuff. Should Dr. Stone use his real passport again, they would be ready.
A weekend of intense detective work determined that one Dr. Patrick Stone had purchased Chateau Puissant in Monaco just three days earlier. A very unhappy Francois Boule was obliged on Sunday to open his files and reveal details about his client. Stone lived alone. Boule described a quiet man happy just to sit in a library. He knew Jacques, the butler, quite well. Quiet phone calls were made to the estate. The coast was clear; all was ready.
Sunday evening at eight o’clock, Stone was taking a bubble bath in a huge porcelain claw-foot tub. He had nearly dozed off and never heard the police enter the room. Stone opened his eyes to see a gun pointing at his face!
“Dr. Stone, please step out of the tub, here is your robe.” Stone was in such shock that he actually did what he was told like a robot. He was taken to his bedroom, told to dress and then handcuffed with his arms behind his back.
The staff, having been roused by Jacques, was lined up at the main door. Anjolie cried – she rather liked the little man. Stone was marched out, put in the back of the police van, and driven off. All the paperwork being in order, Stone was turned over to the Israeli authorities who had a jet waiting at the airport. Tel Aviv was a short flight away, where yet another police van was waiting. So too were the press – and the presses were held long enough to roll with the story and photos of Stone’s capture. But would he implicate Art West, or blame him entirely? Thus far he remained silent, as a stone.
CHAPTER FORTY SIX: JACTA ALEA EST
Sammy Cohen bought every paper he could find at Steinmatsky’s on Ben Yehuda and took them to work early Monday morning. Grace had already arrived.
The Jerusalem Post reported –
STONE CAUGHT WITH HIS PANTS DOWN
Ha’Aretz read in modern Hebrew read,
STONE WIPED CLEAN
The International Herald Tribune lead with,
STONE TURNED OVER TO JEWISH AUTHORITIES
“I reckon this begins to redeem our honor,” he said to Grace.
“Not until the trial sorts things out,” she replied cautiously.
“You sure do know how to take the fun out of things,” he said grumpily. “I am on my way to the jail to interview our Dr. Stone. It should be a most enlightening morning.”
By mid-morning, Sammy was on the phone with the local authorities. Judge Joshua Dershowitz had set a pre-trial hearing for Thursday, and it was clear that the Israeli court system was clearing its dockets to make room for an expeditious trial. There would be no delaying motions slowing down this juggernaut. Patrick Stone, of course, was entitled to expert legal counsel, and it would take time for him to choose a lawyer and prepare for trial. Stone had been savvy enough and had enough wits about him to demand a trial by jury, since he was an American citizen.
Sammy had spoken with the firm of Levi, Levi and Strauss and they had informed him that they were the team selected to prosecute Stone. The senior partner, Mr. Benjamin Levi, told Sammy that the best way to head off extradition to Britain was to make clear to Judge Dershowitz that the crimes Stone had committed occurred right here in Jerusa
lem, with the exception of selling the inscribed stone to the British Museum. Sammy quite agreed. He also informed Benjamin that Harry Scholer, an American lawyer and expert in antiquities, was in town and familiar with the case. Mr. Levi agreed to invite Harry to work with him and come to the pretrial hearing. Sammy was feeling good about his mended relationship with Harry. He called Art and invited them both to the IAA office.
Sammy’s secretary ushered them both in as soon as they arrived. Sammy handed the papers to Harry and Art who remarked,
“Well, they got their man. It sounds as if it was humiliating though – the butler must have known Stone was still in the tub! How did he get caught though?”
“I interviewed Stone this morning. He had two passports – one real, and one not. Thursday Interpol tracked down the information that he had just purchased a house in Monaco, complete with street address! Trust me, Stone is genuinely in shock at having been caught. He’s either very naive or very stupid!”
After rehashing all the news stories and Sammy’s interview, Harry exclaimed, “Jacta alea est!” Art smiled, and remembered his years taking Latin in senior high school. Julius Caesar, crossing the Rubicon, cries out, “Let the dice fly!.” Indeed many in Jerusalem would be riveted to the trial for the next few weeks. For this very reason Art had decided to have his press conference on the Lazarus findings just before the trial began, otherwise it would receive little notice at all in the aftermath of the trial.
Lunchtime was approaching. Harry and Sammy agreed to continue their conversation over local Mediterranean delicacies. Art decided to join Grace, busy working on manuscripts for the day. He caught her in the midst of examining the smaller papyri fragments from the Lazarus tomb.
“I’ve decided to do the press conference before the trial, giving my lecture on the religious implications of the Lazarus scroll this week. It’s just too much competition to wait until later. I’ve notified the press I will do this day after tomorrow, and Hebrew University is amenable. Will you come and introduce me?” said Art.
“Of course. This is a wise move in my judgment, as Jerusalem is going to be talking about this trial and its outcome for a long time. Hey, I’ve discovered lots of surprising details about these little manuscripts. Care to spend the afternoon here?”
“Absolutely, but let me ring up Hannah. I want to know if they’ve seen the papers and how Kahlil reacted.” Art called the shop. Hannah was excited. Her words tumbled over themselves.
“You will never guess what happened this morning. When I showed the picture on the front page of the Palestinian paper to my father, he cried out, “There he is! I remember him now! He is the man who shot me!”
Hannah rushed on. “But I said to father, ‘We have shown you this picture before! Why now do you remember?’ All he said was, ‘I don’t know, my daughter, but Allah’s will be done!’”
Art turned to Grace. “I have some surprising details for you too,” he laughed and related his conversation with Hannah.
For the rest of Monday afternoon, Grace and Art enjoyed pouring over the Aramaic of the Lazarus documents. Grace brought out the fragment of John 21 with the story of the breakfast by the sea.
“Notice that this fragment is in the same hand as the main manuscript, but the fragment that tells the tale of the demise of the Beloved Disciple, right at the end of John 21, may be in another hand. The last few verses, 23 to 25, certainly are in another hand. Note the part which reads,
‘”But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said
‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’”
“Plus, the following verses about the Beloved Disciple writing these things down and there not being enough books to contain Jesus’ stories are clearly by the later hand. The comment about thinking the Beloved Disciple would not die before the second coming makes good sense,
assuming the Beloved Disciple was Lazarus and had been raised from the dead. You can see the disciples thinking, Jesus had already raised him from the dead, surely he would not die again. It must have been something of a shock when he did die again.”
“I agree,” said Art. “And I have been pondering another mystery. We have no fragments of the so-called prologue which begins John’s Gospel. When was it added? Apparently it was added by the final editor of the Gospel sometime later, and perhaps in a very different venue. The logos hymn is profound and reflects on the idea that the divine Son of God existed before all time, helped in making all of creation, and then took on flesh himself and became Jesus. It is the kind of philosophical reflection one might expect in the Diaspora, when there was concern to witness to Gentiles who knew Plato and Aristotle but did not know the Old Testament. And here’s another interesting and tantalizing clue. You remember the story about Jesus speaking to the Greeks, probably Greek speaking Jews? In this Aramaic manuscript it makes clear that Jesus is speaking to Jews from the Diaspora present in Jerusalem for the festival who speak Greek, but in the Gospel of John it is ambiguous, it could actually refer to Greeks, or Gentiles in general.”
“Fascinating,” said Grace. “Do you think then that Lazarus knew he was coming close to the end, and that while he had written down individual stories all along during his life, stories say like the woman caught in adultery, that when he sought to compose his memoirs, he had way too much material for one piece of papyrus, and so many of the stories got left out – he had to pick and choose? This is what John 21.25 [“Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them was written down, I suppose that even the whole world could not contain the books that would be written”] suggests – frustration due to the limitations of working with a papyrus. If the writer of that verse had been dealing with a codex, a book to which leaves could be added, then we might not have that verse added by the editor.”
“No, and now we clearly know that the Beloved Disciple, Eliezar, had other tales to tell, but they wouldn’t fit in this papyrus. We are just fortunate to have what we have. This is going to revolutionize Gospel studies, and historical Jesus studies.”
“Suppose for a minute, Grace, that the earliest image of Jesus we have is the image in the Fourth Gospel. I have argued that this is perfectly possible since this Gospel bears a clear resemblance to other early Jewish wisdom literature like the Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach. The so-called high Christology of this Gospel is not the residue of a long evolution of thinking about Jesus that started with the idea he was a man and finished with the idea he was divine as well as human. Suppose again this Gospel is the earliest portrait of Jesus. Then what? It certainly shoots the Jesus Seminar ideas about Jesus all to pieces.”
“Yes,” said Grace. “And most contemporary Jewish ideas about Jesus receive a pretty good challenge as well. I am going to go back and read through Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, and this Gospel again and see what I can come up with. I’ll let you know whether I think it is possible this is the earliest Gospel tale.”
“But Grace, on the basis of the textual evidence we now know beyond reasonable doubt that this is the earliest Gospel material. One can say that it involves the perspective of a unique person and therefore a unique perspective, but one can’t question the timing, I don’t think. This means too that the divine and human Jesus portrayed for instance in Paul’s letters, say in Philippians 2. 5-11, is not a creation of Paul, who in any case was writing in the fifties, not after the eyewitnesses had all died off.”
“Well,” said Grace. “It’s a theory. I’ll think about. I just have a hard time getting my mind wrapped around the idea of monotheistic early Jews thinking of Jesus, a real human being, as God, or divine. As Acts 17 says, “We will talk about these things . . . another time.”
The small article that appeared on the first page of Ha’ Aretz on Tuesday morning announced that Professor West would be lecturing at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning on the theological and historical implications of the Lazarus tomb artifacts. It caught the attention of many, including the TV crews already arriving for the trial. But by far the most important person who noticed this article lived on the north side of Jerusalem, cut out the article tacked it to his bulletin board, and wrote over it THIS MUST BE STOPPED NOW.
CHAPTER FORTY SEVEN: THE SIEGAL HAS LANDED
Simon Siegal was minding his own business sitting in his favorite café in Harvard Square, drinking an iced latté and checking the headlines on his laptop. A photo of an American citizen, a Yale professor, arrested and extradited to Jerusalem on charges of theft, forgery and attempted murder certainly caught his attention. Here was a legal situation that made anyone sit up and take notice.
Standing 5’9″ tall with curly hair, some said he looked like Billy Crystal. Simon Siegel had a propensity to talk at 900 miles an hour with a thick New England accent. His detractors called him ‘Simon Siegal, the legal beagle’ but he wouldn’t have generated such responses if he hadn’t become a very high profile lawyer who loved to throw himself into high profile cases. He wasn’t an ambulance chaser but the analogy with pirana in a feeding frenzy described pretty aptly how he normally behaved in courtroom. Simon loved both the challenge and the spotlight.
Siegal was born and raised in Portland Maine, and did his schooling up through college in that northernmost New England state. He went to Harvard Law School on a full ride scholarship. After some years of being part of a law firm in Boston, Simon was asked to join the American Civil Liberties Union, an offer he could hardly refuse as it gave him the opportunity to be involved in some of the most interesting cases imaginable.
He had successfully defended all of the following sorts of people: 1) African Americans fired from jobs apparently because of their race; 2) a Klan member denied the right to attend a major university because of his politics and racial opinions; 3) a prominent rap star on trial for using obscene gestures and even more obscene lyrics at concerts.
On the down side, he was still smarting over a recent loss. His client, a major tobacco company, was now required to pay out huge sums in a class action suit by cancer victims. He would like to be ‘The King of Torts’, as John Grisham put it, but his path took him in another direction. While he had won more detractors than admirers in most of those trials, he had also gained a reputation of being able to defend the indefensible. What was perhaps most interesting about Siegal on this morning is that for a period of three years right after law school Siegal had gone to Israel and had been first a law clerk and then a lawyer in the Israeli court system before beginning his Boston job.
Today, Siegal had no official plans – he was on vacation hoping to visit family and friends in the New England area. He made a spontaneous decision to use his influence to contact the Israeli authorities and offer his legal services to one Patrick Stone. This case was too juicy to ignore. His mind was already working on how he would defend Stone in the Israeli system. For now, however, he started a list: return to his apartment, contact his buddies at ACLU, pack, and catch the last flight to Tel Aviv – yes, Monday, June 14 had now become a major calendar event.
Monday night’s trans-Atlantic flight proved bouncy – but he arrived in Tel Aviv about 3 PM Tuesday. On the flight, Siegal tracked the story over the internet and knew that the pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning. He would need to act fast. While waiting for his baggage at Tel Aviv airport, Siegel called the authorities.
“Jerusalem police, how may I direct your call?”
“Yes, this is Mr. Simon Siegal of the United States. Dr. Patrick Stone’s new lawyer. I have just arrived from Boston. I need to speak to my client immediately!”
said Siegal with all the power he could muster. Siegal realized his chances were slim of getting Stone himself, but he also knew he would get someone’s attention just by mentioning the name. Surprisingly, Patrick Stone himself was put on the line!
“Hello, is this really Simon Siegal?”
“Yes, and Simon says he is here to represent you!”
Stone’s response was instantaneous for he had heard much about Siegal and knew his reputation. “Wow! I convinced the police here that you really were my lawyer, even if you weren’t on record yet. I figured it was either the real you or someone at least interesting to talk to. That was quite a bluff on your part! When can you start?”
“I already have,” said Simon. “I’ll be in Jerusalem in about one hour. Until I arrive, and from now on, say nothing to anyone got it? Wednesday morning, first thing, I will see the judge. Then I will visit you. So, for now, just sit tight.”
“Right!” exclaimed Patrick, his spirits reviving a bit. Perhaps there was hope after all.
“Oh, one more thing, we need cash,” reminded Siegal.
“You will have to check all my accounts – Tennessee, Connecticut, Switzerland, Cannes – who knows what’s left?” said Stone, once again dejected. “There should be plenty still in the Credit Lyonnais account.”
“I’ll look into it,” said Siegal. “We will need secretaries and detectives to gather information. I would rather not engage a firm here to help me. There are some people here I can call on; I once worked in this legal system and know it fairly well.”
Even if he couldn’t get Patrick Stone exonerated, he could go for lesser charges, a lighter sentence – the legal limit. Siegal’s name would be in the news for some time.
Siegal rented a car, drove to Jerusalem and checked into the Seven Arches Hotel in time for a late dinner. True, it was a touristy spot, but he loved the view of the city from atop the Mount of Olives. Standing on the front steps, he looked across the Kidron Valley at the Dome of the Rock gleaming golden in the sunset. The city looked awash in twilight and shadow. Peaceful enough, now. Tomorrow Siegel would spread his legal wings. Thursday he would land in the courtroom.
CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT: THE SIEGAL SYSTEM VERSUS THE LEGAL SYSTEM
Judge Joshua Dershowitz had been on the bench for many years and had gained a reputation for being tough on crime, while staying within the spirit of the law. Carrying his briefcase and computer bag, Siegal announced himself to the Judge’s secretary: “I am Simon Siegal, attorney-at-law, and I need to see Judge Dershowitz urgently as I am representing Patrick Stone.”
The secretary spoke into her call box and relayed the message. “Please have a seat and help yourself to a cherry Danish while you are waiting.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” said Siegal. In about fifteen minutes Siegal was summoned. Wiping crumbs from his mouth with a handkerchief, he marched forward into battle.
Simon had met Dershowitz once many years ago when Simon was just a law clerk, and Dershowitz was not yet a judge. Simon had been impressed with the tenacity of the man in the search for something resembling truth and justice. They shared a number of cases at that time. But now both men were much older and more seasoned, and it would be interesting to see how they would interact – the irresistible force meets the immovable object. Something had to give.
Dershowitz looked up from his desk and stood as Siegal came in and said “Shalom alechem,” to which Siegal responded, “Alechem shalom.”
“I see you haven’t forgotten your Jewish manners! Please have a seat Mr. Siegal, make yourself comfortable. You are here about the Patrick Stone matter?”
“Yes, indeed your honor, and I’m impressed that you remember me.”
“I do indeed. First, let me tell you that I have spoken with the US ambassador and he understands and accepts the need for justice to be done in this case here in Israel. The US government will not be intervening on Dr. Stone’s behalf. He got himself into this hot water, and it appears it will be your job to try and extricate him from his legal quagmire. Do you intend to do this solely on your own?”
“At this point, yes, but I’m keeping other options open. I presume my client cannot be tried here for any crime he allegedly committed in England.”
The judge pondered this and said, “Yes, you are right. Currently, he is being charged with forgery, attempted homicide, and theft of an antiquity. That’s a legal bundle for now. I’ll have my secretary give you a copy of the formal charges. The British authorities will want to try him for fraud. They are currently out of a great deal of money – insurance is pending of course.”
“Yes, that is an interesting list of allegations,” said Siegal smiling.
“The pre-trial hearing is Thursday morning, I believe. I hope you will give me sufficient time to prepare my case.”
“No more, no less, than the usual. If you need more time, then I suggest you hire more help or, better yet, work with one of our excellent legal offices.”
Siegal realized at this point that Judge Dershowitz would not appreciate an American stealing the limelight. He decided to gracefully bow out of the office.
Siegal had never been in this police building in Jerusalem because it was relatively new. However, when he arrived at the jail itself it looked anything but new. He noted the primitive conditions and the lack of air conditioning. His brain put this item in the credit ledger for the trial. Maybe he could allege poor treatment of Stone in general, or in particular for his US citizenship.
Siegal waited in an interrogation room until Stone was brought in. The guard left them alone and waited outside the door. Siegal began.
“First of all we must try to clean you up and make you look good for the papers for the pre-trial hearing tomorrow. Have you any other clothes?”
“Well, some of my belongings are still in my apartment. I left quickly with just two suitcases. Anything decent, well it’s all back in Monaco.”
“Fine, I will go get you a suit. Just write down your measurements. I will also bring you the necessary toiletries. You must look your best. There will be a lot of press nosing about and taking pictures. I need to ask you a few questions if I may? These questions will help me determine how to pursue the case and you must be candid with me.”
“OK,” said Stone with a sigh, realizing that nothing he was about to say was great for his case.
“Did you or did you not shoot Kahlil el Said?” asked Siegal.
Patrick began to relive the horror. “Yes, I did. We had had an argument in his shop on Tuesday, June first, and he refused to help me broker the Lazarus stone. I followed him later that night waiting for a good place to talk to him. He sat down on a bench in the park behind the Shrine of the Book. I intended to reason with him – and threaten him if necessary to sell the stone. At the least I wanted him to keep silent about my having the stone. I drew my derringer to scare him. The foolish man grabbed my hand! The gun went off – I didn’t even know it was loaded. He fell on me, grazing his head on the hard park bench on the way down. My arm was trapped under him. He is a very large man. I panicked, yanking my arm out from under him. I left the little derringer behind.”
“ So the prosecution, may in fact have some fingerprints of yours from the derringer, right?”
“I suppose, I didn’t mean to hurt him, you know.”
“OK, tell me about your derringer?”
“It’s a Civil War antique – belonged to my father. It only has one shot and only works at close range. Not very deadly I guess. I didn’t mean to hurt him, you know.”
“You keep saying that. Third question, did you or did you not, steal the Lazarus stone from the tomb?”
“Oh yes. Stupid I realize, but after all those years of being treated like an also ran compared to people like Arthur West – just looking at that stone – it was incredible. My teaching assistant, Ray Simpson, followed Art West when he was scouting out the tel behind the church in Bethany. He rang me when he was sure Art had found something. I got to the scene and West was already in the tel discovering this that and the other. I got angry. Simpson and I decided to entomb him – just to scare him.” Stone started laughing inanely.
“You didn’t really answer my question, Dr. Stone. But let’s talk about Simpson – was he in on this from the beginning?”
“Well, he agreed to follow Art West. That’s not kosher either, is it? Anyway, he agreed to help me entomb West. I convinced Ray it was a prank – to get him back for whatever. We figured he’d get out quickly enough – I planned to come back and check on him.”
“And you did go back, right?”
“Yes, around 11:30. I went alone. West was already gone – I guess the cemetery ghosts really scared him away! The opening wasn’t even closed up tight – sloppy work on West’s part. I think he got help from the church caretaker. I saw him earlier. Anyway, I photographed the inscription. I chiseled out the stone.”
“Finally. For the record, who made the copy of the stone and sent it to West?”
“Like I said, I took good pictures. And Ray is good at making copies. He knew I got that stone from the tomb, however. I didn’t even have to tell him. He’s not stupid. But he made the copy. I had him bring it to a courier and ship it to Art West to arrive Wednesday morning.”
“I have already made sure that any charges related to acts in the U.K. have been excluded. So, are there any other shady things done here in Israel I need to know about?”
‘”Well, there’s the papyri!”
“What, there’s more?!”
“Oh yeah, I found a small jar in an empty niche. It was full of manuscript fragments. You won’t believe what I did with those.” Stone started giggling again.
Siegal groaned as Patrick explained how he hid the manuscripts in the figurines before fleeing to the UK with the inscription.
“What have I gotten myself into?” thought Siegal. How could this mild–mannered professor, who never did anything wrong before, get himself into so much trouble?
“Very good,” said Siegal, although he was really thinking, very bad, indeed. “Let’s get ready to rumble. I’m going shopping for you and will be back later in the day. I’m hoping they will let me interview Raymond today. Do you have any friends or family that can come and support you?”
“No, there’s no one. Thanks so much, I could use a friend right now,” said Stone politely, hardly looking like a criminal of any sort.
But Siegal had already requested to be let out. He was in motion. So was this case – and that was all that mattered to him.