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Religion and Social History

Workshop: 103 Prophets on Trial

Who is this Workshop for?

High School students are interested in researching political science and law using the study of great trials in history.


Class on European and U.S. history is helpful.


Prophets are a profound challenge to any society. Why are prophets so dangerous? Why do they inevitably come into conflict with political and religious authorities? What is the difference, if any, between a true prophet and a false prophet? Many famous prophets were put on trial, creating the most notorious courtroom dramas in world history: Socrates, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Thomas More, Galileo, Oscar Wilde, and John Scopes. We shall be studying the lives and deaths of these fantastic personalities to see what their trials tell us about the meaning of justice and order in society. In these trials, we see the conflict between three kinds of authority in the community: prophetic, religious, and political.

Sample Research Topics

  • Why do prophetic, religious, and political authorities often come into deadly conflict?

  • Why are the most famous trials in history usually examples of the miscarriage of justice?

  • What do these trials tell us about the relation of law to justice?

  • Have prophets been put on trial in China? 

  • How do we distinguish a true from a false prophet?

  • Who are the prophets in today’s world?


Past Students' Research Projects

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103-22 Student Research - Eureka Program Philosophy.jpg
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