There are numerous branches of the San Jose Public Library all over the city to serve it’s 750,000 inhabitants. The Main branch is the largest and is located on West San Carlos Street right across from the Light Rail Trolley tracks. Josh was standing in the small foyer of the Library looking at the free magazines and public notices on the bulletin boards. They shook hands and went into the large building. As they walked in something above Varella caught his eye. He noticed that the library ceiling was about 4 stories up, and tied at different heights all the way up were numerous kites of all shapes and sizes. Each had a little placard describing what nation or culture the kite came from and what it represented. Some represented values, and some represented spirits, depending on the culture it came from. Varella noticed that there weren’t any Egyptian kites. Maybe the Egyptians didn’t fly kites. But then what did he expect. A big kite with a Pharaoh on one side and an ankh on the other?

They stopped at a large counter that was facing the door. There was only one person behind the counter and she was a very pretty lady, who looked like she was not quite out of college yet. This surprised Varella since most of the libraries he’d been in had been predominantly run by older ladies. This one was certainly not your stereotypical librarian. Her name tag said, “Kristin VanSoldt”.

Josh had brought a list with him, but they agreed that they should first check to see if they could find out what books Carl had checked out in the weeks before his death. Varella wasn’t quite sure how to handle their request but Josh seemed to think that the straight forward way was the best way. “Hi, I’m Josh Nunsson, and we have a rather strange request.”

The pretty blonde head looked at them curiously but with very kind hazel colored eyes. “Nice eyes” thought Varella absentmindedly. Josh was still talking “A very close friend of ours was just recently killed.” Josh paused to let that sink in.

Varella thought that either the ‘just’ or the ‘recently’ was redundant, or as the editor in Carl would have put it ‘redun-dun-dant.’ He smiled to himself at the memory of Carl. But suddenly the image of that putty like face came to him again. Carl is dead. He felt cold and sighed heavily. His eyes were smarting and he turned away. Damn it all. He didn’t want to be here, he wanted to go home and curl up in a warm bed and wake up.

The girl with the beautiful kind eyes was talking to him. “I’m very sorry” she said, Varella felt that she really meant it.

“Thanks,” he muttered suddenly grateful for her concern.

Josh explained how Carl had been doing some research before he was killed and they were wondering if they could find out what books he’d checked out in the last few months. He also explained that he doubted that the cops would get around to investigating all this for a while, if they did at all. Since they’d probably feel that it was a slim chance that his research had anything to do with his death.

Kristin hesitated only momentarily before agreeing, something in Varella’s eyes must have convinced her. Both he and Josh realized that records like that were probably confidential.

The handwritten list that Kristin gave them about 10 minutes later had 7 books on it. She was left-handed, and Varella noticed the wedding ring on her finger as she handed Josh the list. While Josh was looking at the list she asked Varella to describe Carl to her. Varella did but Kristin was unable to place him, so she asked him to bring a photograph with him the next time they visited the library. There was a slim chance that she’d recognize him. She told them she worked most weekends till 4 pm.

(Plate 1 shows a handwritten list)

    1. Josephus, Antiquities 7/6-7/202. The Annals and The Histories, P. Cornelius Tacitus, 7/6-7/20

    3. Plinius Secundus, Epistles 7/6-7/20

    4. Pliny Letters 7/8 – 7/20 878.7S

    5. Egyptian book of the dead 7/12 – not returned.

    6. From Gracchi to Nero, H.H. Scullard 7/6-7/20 937. S

    7. The Koran 7/20- not returned.

Josh recognized 4 of the books, “I recognize the the top three, they are references that I gave him from a book called Evidence that Demands A Verdict. Varella had never heard of the book. He made a mental note to ask Josh later for the book. Right now he wanted to see if the other books were available. Kristin directed them to a number of computer terminals that sat off to the side. Varella sat down in the seat and typed in the first author name.

“Josephus”

The computer did a search and came up with 3 Josephus books, all were available and could be checked out.

Flavius: Jewish historian, commander of Jewish forces in Galilee. Antiquities. file no: xxxxx

They wrote down their index numbers and went on to the next book.

Tacitus, Cornelius: Roman historian, 112 AD, Governor of Asia, son-in-law of Julius Agricola the Governor of Britain. Annals…file no: xxxxxx.

There was only one of this one, luckily it was also in.

When they had the indexes of all the books they went searching for them. Josh took the bottom of the list and Varella took the top as they headed to the historical section. When they got there Josh split up towards his section leaving Varella alone surrounded by centuries and centuries of historical documentation. He started walking down the stacks scanning for the number *****. He ran into ***** first and found Tacitus before Josephus. It was a thick book. His initial enthusiasm was dampened considerably when he saw how thick a book it was. He hoped he wouldn’t have to read through the whole thing and that Josephus’s Antiquities would be smaller.

It wasn’t. Varella pulled the thick Antiquities volume down and then walked over to a table and sat down. This process was going to be long. He wondered how Josh was doing.

Varella opened Josephus first and turned his attention to the introduction. Apparently Josephus was a 1st century Hebrew historian. After the rebellious Jews had been subdued, he had defected over to the Romans and had been attached to the Roman headquarters as a historian.

Varella flipped to the index at the back of the book and looked under Christ. There was no reference. So he tried Jesus. There was one in section xviii 33 and one in section XX 9:1.

He took the first one xviii and calculated, let’s see x was 10, v was 5 so that meant ch 18, pg 33 or section 33. He turned there. Someone had underlined it with a red pencil. He wondered if it had been Carl. Carl never had respect for other people’s books. Even in college he used to write all over the library books. He started to read.

    “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him: for he ….(see plate)

Varella sat back. So here was a historian, the one whom we used extensively as proof of other goings on during the Roman empire reporting that there did indeed exist a man named Jesus.

There was another reference XX 9:1 he turned there, it wasn’t underlined, it mentioned something about a man named Ananias: “so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.” (see plate)

So not only was Jesus Christ historically documented in manuscripts besides the Bible, but he also had a brother, but why was Carl interested in this? That was a question with no answer.

Varella looked for some more references in Josephus’s book but was unsuccessful. The book seemed fascinating, it was an account of the happenings in the Middle East around the time of Christ with remarks about the situation in Rome. It read like a gory, Tom Wolfe story. He turned his attention to Cornelius Tacitus.

Tacitus had no reference to Jesus or Christ, but he did have a reference to Christus. Annals, XV. 44.

He flipped over, Cornelius was talking about Nero, but Nero was long after the time of Jesus Christ. Maybe that was something else. This one was underlined by the same pen. For some reason Varella knew it had to be Carl who had done that. He read on:

    “But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.” (see plate)

That was 2 historians. There was just as much proof that a man named Jesus existed who was crucified as there was proof that some of the Caesars existed. But what did this have to do with Carl’s death. Did Carl find something here that so effectively disproved Jesus Christ, that some Christian, maybe even this Josh guy killed him? No, that was ridiculous. And if that was so why was Josh here now, looking with him for the same thing?

Josh suddenly showed up at his side, Varella almost jumped. For such a huge man with a limp, this football player moved as soflty as a cat. He was going to be very very careful around this person. He felt the weight of the gun in its holster next to his chest and was reassured.

The football player had 4 books in his large hands. Josh had obviously decided to find all his books in one swoop. Varella had been too impatient to do that.

Josh had From Gracchi to Nero, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Pliny, and a Koran. He sat down and they started to look through them. From Gracchi to Nero had been written by a modern day historian, Varella looked over Josh’s shoulder at the inside cover. (see plate).

The index directed them to 5. Judaism and Christianity on page 374. Josh flipped over the pages and they started to read. Varella read a lot faster than Josh and waited slightly impatiently to turn the page. The author Scullard went through a brief synopsis of the other sects that had risen amongst the Jews and then when Josh had turned the page they saw Carl’s pen again. Half of the page had been underlined. (see plate).

There was an interesting sentence by Scullard that was talking about Jesus Christ:

    “It is sufficient here to record the indisputable fact that what he said and did in the two or three years of his ministry changed the whole course of human history.”

The next page continued:

    “…After his entry into Jerusalem, tension with the Jewish authorities increased until finally after a preliminary investigation by the Jewish supreme court of the Sanhedrin on a charge of blasphemy he was then handed over by them to the Roman procurator on a charge that he was a rival to Caesar and was seeking the throne of David as ‘King of the Jews’. Pilate who ‘found no cause of death in him’, was willing to release him but, fearing a mob-rising and its political repercussions, weakly gave in to the hatred of the Jews who cried out for the crucifixion of Jesus.

    If that had been the end, there would have been no Christian Church. But his sad and disillusioned disciples, who must have felt that all their hopes had been thwarted, suddenly gained a new assurance: Christ’s death was followed by his resurrection. However the accounts of the empty tomb and the various appearances of their Risen Lord to different groups of his followers are to be explained, it is quite clear that these disheartened men suddenly became completely convinced that Jesus had ‘risen from the dead’ and was actively guiding and commissioning them to continue to spread his teaching….”

The other books, except for the Koran and the Book of the Dead also had references to Jesus Christ and his followers. The Pliny book wasn’t as impressive since it didn’t refer to Chist as a historical figure but rather as someone that Christians believed in. Aside from the fact that none of this helped figure out who killed Carl, and it didn’t reveal and deep dreadful secrets worth killing anyone for, Varella was intrigued with all this. Ever since his abandonment of the Catholic Church he’d always considered Christianity as one of those religions that were more based on legend than on fact. Scullard, a historian however seemed to have no problem with the historicity of Jesus. Varella had assumed that Jesus had just been some good teacher in history and hundreds of years later his followers or the Catholic Church had twisted his good teachings to include that he’d claimed that he was God.

Varella turned to Josh, might as well ask him, “Yeah, but did Jesus ever actually claim that he was God?”

Josh nodded and replied with a low voice, “Well it says here that they charged him with blasphemy, which means is that he actually claimed that he was equal to God. You see, the Jewish prophets had foretold of a Messiah who would be from the family of King David, and would be the Son of God, and thus God himself. They refer to it here, when they say, they said he was seeking the throne of David as ‘King of the Jews.’ Josh pointed to the passage in Scullard’s book. In fact the Gospel of John says that at one point Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Now to you and me this may not be such a big deal, but you see what Jesus was saying here and, I must mention, the Jews understood perfectly was, before Abraham existed, I was God.”

Varella didn’t see how ‘Before Abraham was, I Am.’ translated into a claim of divinity, he could understand the ‘before Abraham’ part. But the ‘I was God’, part didn’t make sense.

Josh saw the look of confusion on his face and explained. “You see, when God first revealed himself to the Jews, He said that His name was the Great ‘I Am’, the God who has existed from all eternity to all eternity, you can find that in the Old Testement in Genesis 3:13&14. Now for the rest of history ‘I Am’ was one of the Holy names of God. So for this man Jesus to come by and claim he was the ‘I Am’, and had been the ‘I Am’ even before Abraham, the father and patriarch of all the Jews was born, was just utter blasphemy. So immediately they tried to stone him.”

Varella had never heard all this. This was fascinating. He naturally didn’t believe that Jesus Christ was “a god” or “the God”, but based on these books, he couldn’t doubt that the man had claimed that he was God anymore. Nor did he, or could he, doubt that the man had actually lived. To him these, as Josh put it, “secular” documents proved that the man had existed, had occupied time and space. But all that certainly didn’t make him a god. Varella was just surprized at the wealth of historical knowledge there was about this Jesus Christ. He’d always assumed that Christianity had started in obscurity and had suddenly broken onto the scene as an organized religion, organized by priest who wanted to dominate the masses as Carl always put it. This stuff right here was depicting the birth pangs of Christianity. It seemed to be historically authenticated.

Josh picked up the Koran. Josh knew what a Koran was, he’d seen and heard about it in contacts with Moslems. But he’d never seen an English translation of one. Varella on the other hand wasn’t sure what a Koran was. Josh explained, “It’s the Moslem Holy Book”.

That triggered a memory, Varella had heard of a Koran before. He’d heard it from Mubarak at Antonio’s back in college.

Mubarak was one of the international students at the State College. He worked with Varella at Antonio’s restaurant for extra cash.