The Historical Jesus 

By Ted Belman

Scholars have long recognized that the historical Jesus and the Jesus of faith are not one and the same. Many such scholars both Christian and otherwise participate every few years in the Jesus Seminar which reviews recent discoveries and treatises which shed light on the historical Jesus. They cast ballots to state their opinions on whether each statement or act attributed to Jesus in the Gospels can’t be true, might be true or probably is true. Much has been written on the historical Jesus and continues to be written. Most scholars, except for the fundamentalists and literalists, are of the opinion that very little in the gospels is true. But does it matter.

Some Christian scholars argue that the historical Jesus is irrelevant. Its the Jesus of faith that counts. Others would say that if Jesus wasn’t the son of G-d or G-d himself or, less extreme, if he didn’t say the things or do the deeds or have the personality attributed to him in the Gospels then Christianity is meaningless. Before we Jews get too smug, we must realize that one could also argue that if the Torah wasn’t inspired by G-d or if G-d didn’t liberate the Jews from Egypt or enter into a covenant with Abraham that Judaism would have no foundation in truth. In both cases religion would be a man made construct executed after the events depicted. Yet before we dismiss these religions and all others of which the same can be said, we must realize that man has always enshrined basic truths as they understood them in mythology. What counts then is the message and not the facts; or, what counts is not what happened, only what people think happened.. My purpose is not to delve further into this debate but simply to identify for you what is known about the historical Jesus.

The New Testament

We learn about the Jesus of Faith from the New Testament. It consists of, among other things, the Epistles of Paul written (50-60 CE) after the death of Jesus (32 CE), Acts of the Apostles, written about 100 CE, which describes the putative beginnings of the Church and the role of Paul, and the four Gospels ( 70-110 CE) which deal with the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. When studying the New Testament, it is important to keep in mind that although the Gospels deal with the life of Jesus, they were written long after the Epistles of Paul which are the first writings. Accordingly the Gospels were greatly affected by Paul’s ideas and interpretations. As you can well imagine there were many rewrites to these entities over the first 300 years of the C.E. and there were many other testimonies and written stories. What we have today as the New Testament was compiled and edited into final form in 325 CE when Christianity became the official religion of Rome.

The question arises,.. to what extent is the Jesus of faith set out in these Gospels, coincident with the historical Jesus.

Josephus

Before dealing either with the Jesus of faith or the historical Jesus, it’s important to introduce Josephus (37-96 CE) to you. Josephus wrote The Jewish Wars in the seventies, after the destruction of the Temple and wrote Antiquities in the nineties, He originally fought with the Jewish resistance against the Romans but ultimately switched allegiance to the Romans. He became connected at the highest levels and became a Roman citizen. His meticulous reproduction of events and persons in Palestine in this period is without equal in almost any time or place up to the era of modern record keeping and reportage. It is because of these books that we know so much today of what took place. These books were preserved by the Church, because they were thought to refer to Jesus. In them, Josephus suggests that Jesus was “more than a man”, avers him to have been “the Christ” and refers to his resurrection “on the third day”. From such a lover of detail, not much at all for someone, the Gospels consider to be the center piece of the times.

Scholars do not accept that Josephus would have written thus, because it is in line with orthodox Christian teachings which developed after he wrote these books and is in conflict with his view, elsewhere expressed, that the troubles were caused by the messianic deceivers of whom Jesus would have been one. They suggest that the Church was the author of these interpolations. In fact Josephus did not refer to Jesus, James his brother or John the Baptist in Jewish Wars, but did so in Antiquities, presumably because he felt more secure twenty years later.

Where the Gospels and Josephus agree, is on blaming the Jews and praising the Romans, in general, and Pilate (who crucified Jesus) and Titus (who destroyed the Temple) in particular, for their clemency and indulgence. The Gospels blame the Jews for rejecting Jesus and Josephus blames the Jews for rejecting Rome. For the destruction of the Temple, Josephus says “we have only ourselves to blame” and “the Temple was burned against the wishes of Caesar.”. In the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus is crucified, the Jews are reputed to have said “his blood be upon us and upon our children.” and Pilot is reputed to have been agreeable to releasing Jesus or Barabbas and the Jews picked Barabbas thereby condemning Jesus. The parallels are striking. It is obvious that they were both marching to the same drummer, Rome.

Paul

Our search for Jesus must start with the study of Paul who was the founder of Christianity. He is regarded as the great interpreter of Jesus’ mission, who explained, in a way that Jesus never did, how Jesus’ life and death fit into the cosmic scheme of salvation. It was as a result of his theories and efforts that Christianity came into being.

He claimed in his Epistles to have been born a Jew and to have been a Pharisee. The Pharisees at the time were held in high regard by the Roman and Parthian empires as dedicated group who upheld religious ideals in the face of tyranny, supported leniency and mercy in the application of laws, and championed the rights of the poor against the oppression of the rich. Paul, who was earlier known as Saul, was claiming a high honour. It was only as a result of the Gospels that the Pharisees got an undeserved reputation for hypocrisy. Paul obviously was attempting to get greater legitimacy for his views by showing he was learned in the Law.

Acts of the Apostles surprisingly, in telling the life of Paul many decades after his death, adds to and subtracts from the details given in the Epistles. I quote from Acts words reputed to be said by Paul when speaking to Jews in Palestine,

  1. “I am a true-born Jew, a native of Tarsus in Cilicia. (Earlier he claimed to be born a Roman citizen which means his father was a Roman citizen.) I was brought up in this city, and as a student of Gamaliel (This is very doubtful), I was thoroughly trained in every point of our ancestral law. I was always ardent in G-d’s service as you all are today (He is acknowledging that Jews adhered to the Law.). And so I began to persecute this movement to the death, arresting its followers, men and women alike, and putting them in chains (He doesn’t say why.). For this I have as witness the High Priest and the whole Council of Elders.”

and later when speaking to King Agrippa

  1. “My life from my youth up, the life I led from the beginning among my people and in Jerusalem is familiar to all Jews.(This is not considered to be true.) Indeed they have known me long enough and could testify, if only they would, (but as you will see, they would never testify for him.) that I belonged to the strictest group in our religion: I lived as a Pharisee. (There were stricter groups.) And it is for a hope kindled by G-d’s promise to our forefathers that I stand in the dock today. Our twelve tribes hope to see the fulfillment of that promise … I myself thought it my duty to work actively against the name of Jesus of Nazareth; and I did so in Jerusalem. (Actually he worked for the High Priest who was a quisling and wanted to suppress the messianic revolt against the Romans and the establishment.) It was I who imprisoned many of G-ds people by authority obtained from the chief priests (you see); and when they were condemned to death my vote was cast against them (as though he were a member of the Sanhedrin and entitled to vote or perhaps it was the Romans who condemned them to death for being part of the resistance after Paul turned them in). In all the synagogues I tried by repeated punishment to get them to renounce their faith (more likely, their resistance.); indeed my fury rose to such a pitch that I extended my persecution to foreign cities. On one such occasion I was traveling to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests….”

The Pharisees are depicted in Acts as opposing the persecution of the followers of Jesus and at odds with the Sanhedrin. Yet Paul as a Pharisee is virulently anti-Christian. To add to the confusion Paul is also described here as on a mission for the chief priest who was by definition a Saduccee. It is unlikely that the high priest would select a Pharisee to work for him. Why all the confusion. We’ll see.

Epiphany

On the way to Damascus, Paul had an epiphany in which he had a vision of the resurrected Jesus and became a convert. He articulated the doctrine that Jesus was a divine-human person who had descended to Earth from the heavens and experienced death for the express purpose of saving mankind. This doctrine had much in common with Greek mythology that has many a god coming down to earth for a particular purpose and then returning and nothing in common with Judaism except by distortion. Yet Paul claimed that every line of the Jewish scriptures was a foreshadowing of the Jesus-event and must be interpreted in this light. Paul wrote in his Epistles, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” and “he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” All Jews including Paul looked to the scriptures to support their position.

Christianity

Christianity insists that it is a progression of Judaism and contains a ’new covenant’ and a ‘new testament’ which overrides the old. Inconsistently the Gospels also have Jesus proclaiming a New Church. It also insists that Christians are now the chosen people. Mind you, fundamentalist Christian denominations still believe that God has a special relation ship with the Jews and will restore them to the promised land. That is why they are such strong supporters of the State of Israel. Judaism on the other hand rejects Christianity outright. Both claimed that they alone interpreted the Scriptures properly. The more they fought over this the more they distanced themselves from each other. The final fracture came in the late 80’s of the Common Era when Jewish services were altered to include “anathemas” against all who deviated from strict orthodox standards and who relativized the ultimate truth of the Torah. This resulted in the excommunication of the Christians from synagogue life and ultimately from Judaism. No doubt a major cause of this was their abrogation of Mosaic Law. This conflict is similar to the present conflict between the orthodox and liberal or secular Jews in Israel.

Christ

As you know, ‘Christ’ is the Greek word for ‘Messiah’, the anointed one. That doesn’t mean that the two words today have the same meaning. For Jews, the messiah has always meant a normal person born of a young woman in the Davidic line who would lead the Jews to a military victory and restore the Kingdom of G-d on earth with him as King. While Jesus was alive Jews may have looked to him as the messiah destined to defeat the Romans militarily and restore sovereignty to the Jewish people. Such victory over the forces of evil, it was thought, could usher in the Messianic era of peace and prosperity; in other words, the Kingdom of God on earth. To Jews therefore, his crucifixion should have ended all speculation that he may have been the Messiah. Yet many continued to hope that Jesus, the human, had entered heaven alive and was waiting for the moment to return to earth. This was in accordance with a long standing tradition in Judaism concerning many a folk hero. Paul was in agreement, with the caveat that Jesus was also somewhat divine although he didn’t define this and probably didn’t believe Jesus was God incarnate. He also argued Jesus died for our sins, (which he did not explain), but did hint at the notion of the “original sin” of Adam. It took 400 years for such Christian theology to develop. What resulted as “Christ” is an entirely different concept from the Jewish “messiah’.

Faith vs Works

Another difference of opinion relating to the abrogation of the Law was that Paul said “Justification not by works of the Law but rather through faith in Jesus Christ.” and “if Righteousness is through the Law, Christ died for nothing.” Judaism believed that you must follow the law and do good works to have a portion in the world to come whereas according to Paul, faith alone is enough for salvation. This difference is expressed many times throughout the literature of the times. The Koran follows the Jewish view in this regard. Today Reform Judaism rejects much of the Law but doesn’t accept Jesus as Christ or Christians as replacing Jews as the chosen elect. Similarly, Christians believe that good works are also important but that they are not necessary for salvation.

Furthermore, Paul claimed that his interpretations came to him by personal inspiration and that he had a personal acquaintance with the resurrected Jesus gained through a vision. He also claimed that such visionary acquaintance was superior to a lifetime acquaintance.

Abraham

Paul describes the Gentile Christian Community as the true Children of Abraham’s wife Sarah and the Jews as the Children of Hagar the bondservant. He intentionally links the Bondage of Hagar with the bondage of the Jews to the Law. This is a prime example of the New Testament offering an inversion of the scriptures. No lie is too big. It is rife with such distortions and inversions. Mohammed, six centuries later also claimed descent, for all Arabs, from Abraham through Hagar and Ishmael. And Ishmael was the first born. Thus Abraham becomes the father of all three religions.

It is interesting to note that Paul never met Jesus, appears on the scene a few years after the death of Jesus and either knows nothing or is willing to tell us nothing about him. Isn’t that odd. Only two historical points emerge from his writings; firstly that Jesus was crucified and secondly that he had several brothers one of whom was called James. In fact, taking the brother relationship seriously may turn out to be one of the only confirmations outside the New Testament, that there ever was a historical Jesus.

Ebionites

In contrast to what the New Testament says of Paul, writings by the Ebionites, a Jewish messianic sect, claim that Paul had no Pharisaic background or training, converted to Judaism, came to Jerusalem as an adult, and attached himself to the high priest as a henchman and tax collector.. This is by far the more credible biography.

The name Ebionites comes from the Hebrew word “ebion” meaning “the poor”. They were a Jewish messianic sect who followed the Law, revered James and believed that Jesus was a human conceived by natural means. In the Letter of James which is included in the New Testament and is thought by some to be authentic, James refers to “the Poor chosen by God as the heirs to the Kingdom to whom the piety command of loving God is applied”. The focus of Christianity on “the poor” or “the meek” derives from Jesus’ association with this group. Also it is easy to see where the Christian notion of ‘the meek inheriting the earth’ came from.

Before pursuing the historical Jesus further or expanding on his brother James who keeps cropping up, it is necessary to provide the Jewish context of the times.

Phinehas

Strangely we must go all the way back to the Book of Numbers in the Torah where it is written “the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their Gods, and the people did eat and bow down to their gods”. G-d was angered by this and ordered Moses to kill the wayward Israelites and the Torah states that four and twenty thousand were killed by Moses. One Israelite took a Midianite woman into the sanctuary before Moses and the congregation and fornicated there with her. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, in a moment of zeal killed them both and G-d rewarded “him and his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his G-d”. In Psalm CVI, we read that “his zeal was counted unto him for righteousness”.

These writings are the origin of the attitude that Jews must not have intercourse with gentiles for it would pollute them. Also that G-d rewards those who are zealous for the law and brook no compromise.

Chanukah

The occupation of Palestine by the Greeks (333 BCE) not only resulted in the Hellenization of the Jewish establishment but also the Hellenization of Jewish religious practices. This Hellenization was not unlike the intercourse with the Moabites described above. The masses led by the Maccabees rose up (167 BCE) and defeated the Greeks over a period of 30 years and cleansed the Temple of their pollution. The masses yearned for a return to the purity of the Jewish people and the Jewish religion. All foreign influences had to be expelled. Chanukah as you may know, means “rededication”.

The Maccabees held the position of High Priest, having come from a priestly family, and continued so until the Romans conquered Palestine 100 years later. They were popular, nationalistic and zealous for the law. The Pharisees we hear so much about in the New Testament may have got their name, which means “those who separated from”, from a group that deserted the cause of the Maccabeans in favour of a foreign appointed High Priestly claimant during the second century BCE. More about this later.

Alexander Jannaeus, Judas Maccabees’ grand nephew (103-76 BCE), also had similar problems with Greek intervention and with the support of the people defeated the Greek Syrians (Seleucids). He then turned on the Pharisees who had collaborated with the foreign invaders, and killed some 800 of them according to Josephus. Alexander had two sons; one was nationalistic and was supported by the people because “they were sick of servility” and the other was anti-nationalist, more accommodating and supported by the Pharisees.

It would appear that the Pharisees were more accommodating to foreign influences and thus less nationalistic, then the people. This may explain why they were held in high regard as mentioned earlier and why Paul, being a Roman citizen, claimed to be one of them. The Gospels also considered Jesus to be a Pharisee.

The Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel was written after the defeat of the Greeks and was one of the last books included in Jewish scriptures. Centuries later the Rabbis down graded it from “Prophets” where it was first placed to the lesser “Writings”. No doubt the Rabbis saw it as a prophetic expression we now call apocalyptic and one that gave rise to the Uprising against the Romans and the destruction of the Temple. It was at the time, the expression favoured by the nationalistic masses. Along with Ezekial and Isaiah, it is the most important scriptural inspiration for much of the apocalyptic ideology and symbolism of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as for the literature of Christianity. Daniel includes the only overt reference to resurrection in the entire Old Testament., “Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth, many will wake, some to everlasting life…, for their share at the End of Time.”

Although the Messiah is referred to in Daniel as the “Son of God”, Judaism never took this literally.

Romans

Prior to conquering Palestine in 63 BCE, the Romans got along well with the Jews within their empire and accorded them religious liberty. They even regarded them as allies in the Greek cities they had conquered because the Greeks remained hostile. By the beginning of the Common Era, one/tenth of the entire Roman Empire was Jewish and as much as 40% of Alexandria was Jewish.

The problems started in the decades following the conquest with the appointment by Rome of the gentile Herod to be king of the Jews and with the appointment Alexander’s anti-nationalist son to be the High Priest. There followed certain disturbances which resulted in the nationalist leaders taking refuge in the Temple. The Pharisees joined the Romans in storming the Temple “against the will of the people”. As Josephus bears witness, “the Pharisees engaged in the wholesale slaughter that ensued, even more enthusiastically than the Romans”.

Josephus reports in Antiquities that a movement began at this time among the people “who had an inviolable attachment to liberty” and were “zealous for the law”. He further notes that “the nation was infected by it to an incredible degree.”.

Thus the stage is set for an endless succession of revolts culminating in final Uprising in 66-70 CE.

On the one side we find the spiritual successors to Phinehas and the Maccabbees who were messianic, nationalistic, anti-foreign, anti-accommodationist and zealous for the law. These included such sects such as the Essenes, Zealots, Ebionites and the Qumran Community. It also included the early Christians, whoever they were.

On the other side we have the Romans supported by the establishment i.e. Herodians, Pharisees and Saduccees. They were all accommodationists or as some historical writings put it, “seekers after smooth things.”. To the nationalist camp this was a betrayal of the worst kind and was “breaking the law”. They resented the foreign king Herod, the foreign appointed High Priest and sacrifices in the Temple by and on behalf of foreigners. They also resented that the Jewish daughters of Herod were marrying blood relatives contrary to Mosaic Law. They referred to them as prostitutes. In the Gospels, Jesus is shown to be befriending or eating meals with “prostitutes” and “tax collectors” whereas in reality it was the actions of these “prostitutes” and tax collectors which so offended the nationalist camp.

Both Josephus and Vespasian blamed the uprising against Rome on the Messianic fervor that gripped the land. This flies in the face of the Gospel claims that Jews suffered the destruction of the Temple because they rejected the Messiah. The New Testament makes much of the persecution of the Christians due to their belief in the Jesus of faith. In fact, the persecution was due to their support of the historical Jesus who wanted to restore Jewish sovereignty. Actually the Romans tried to suppress all the groups which were messianic and nationalistic. Herod even ordered that all Jewish males in the line of David be put to death to put an end to this fervor. Once the Christians were removed from Judaism and accommodated themselves to Roman rule, they were no longer persecuted although they weren’t respected by Romans at first, because they were religious radicals in breaking with Judaism, and Rome preferred respect for authority and the established order.

This movement was reflected in Masada and breathed its last gasp in the Bar Kochba Revolt in 132CE.

Jesus

The historical Jesus was part of this resistance and as such, he would have been against the “prostitutes” and tax collectors.. He followed the law and worked toward the overthrow of the establishment and the Romans. Thousands of such Jewish revolutionaries were crucified by the Romans during his lifetime.

There may be some truth in the Gospels which say that the High Priest or Saduccees turned him over to the Romans saying he claimed to be the King of the Jews. (they meant in the political sense and not in the religious sense.) After all, the High Priest was a quisling and part of the establishment aligned with the Romans. This could explain why Paul persecuted Christians on behalf of the High Priest. The Romans then crucified Jesus for sedition. The part of the story which claimed that he was tried by the Sanhedrin before being turned over to the Romans to decide his fate can not be true. No offense was alleged in the Gospels, over which the Sanhedrin had jurisdiction and the Sanhedrin would not have convened on Passover to try him as alleged in the Gospels. The story of Jesus over-turning the tables of the money-changers in the Temple could also have been true because the nationalists were angry about what was going on in the Temple and at odds with the High Priest. The nationalist camp often robbed the establishment as part of their war against them. As a result, they were referred to as “robbers”. Jesus, we are told, was crucified along side of two such “robbers”.

In “A Search for the Historical Jesus “ written by a far eastern scholar it is argued that Jesus did not die on the cross but feigned death and survived. Afterwards he went to the East and lived for another 70 years. This would explain why his body was not found after the Sabbath and how his disciples could have seen him apparently alive in the days following as he was on his way to the East. Jesus is quoted in the Gospels as saying to his Apostles after his resurrection, “feel me, I am real”, to allay their fears. Much evidence is quoted in support of this theory.

James the Brother of Jesus

In contrast to the paucity of extra-biblical sources mentioning Jesus or Paul, there are a myriad of extra-biblical sources about James, the brother of Jesus, whose Jewish name was Jacob. One might ask if Jesus was by far the more important of the two, why is so much written about James and so little about Jesus. One might also ask, what has James got to do with the historical Jesus. The answer,.. lots.

James, the brother of Jesus, is the key to unlocking the secrets of early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls according to Professor Eisenman. He is one of the most eminent scholars on first century Palestine. He led the fight to get the Dead Sea Scrolls made public. His thesis is set out his book entitled James the Brother of Jesus which I will refer to later on.

From Acts and other sources we learn that Jesus appointed James to be leader of the “early Church” or “Jerusalem Assembly”. He fulfilled this role from the 30’s to the 60’s.. To have been “Head” or “Bishop’ of the ‘Jerusalem Church” was to have been head of the whole of Christianity as it then was. Paul, who was actively promoting “Christianity” in the same time period, bridled under James’ authority and was constantly at odds with him. Paul speaks of this conflict many times and acknowledges that James is the leader. But nowhere is the conflict over whether Jesus was divine. There was room for some disagreement on that. What mattered were their differences over whether the Law had been abrogated and whether Jews could fraternize with gentiles.

James, because of his great righteousness, was called ‘James the Just’ or ‘James the Righteous’. He was also the acknowledged leader of the opposition alliance as well as the Bishop of the Jerusalem Community. At one point in the ‘40s, according to early Christian sources, the Jewish establishment, concerned that “there was danger that the whole people would now expect Jesus as the Messiah”, called on James with the following request;

  1. “We Beseech you, persuade all the people who are coming for the Passover Festival concerning Jesus for we all have confidence in you. For we and all the people testify to you that you are the Just One and not a respecter of persons. Therefore persuade the people not to be led astray concerning Jesus for we and all the people must obey you.”

James replied “Why do you ask me about the Son of Man (Son of Adam). He is now sitting on the right hand of the Great Power and is about to come on the clouds of Heaven.” These words were originally coined in the Book of Daniel. In Christian theology, Son of Man, as denotative of Jesus, is one of the most precious references..

In the tradition of Phinehas and the Maccabees, James viewed the Romans and the Herodians as polluting the Temple. He held that Jews should not fraternize with the foreigners which included breaking bread with them. Paul on the other hand argued that the Law no longer applied and that anything could be eaten with anyone and circumcision was no longer necessary. Paul wanted gentile converts to be converted without the necessity of circumcision and bondage to Mosaic law and went so far as to argue that the Law no longer applied to Jews. James found it necessary to advise all communities in his movement that he in effect sets the party line and to police Paul. Acts tells us that Paul so angered the Jews that they tried to kill him. In an early Church document we are told that Paul began a riot in the Temple where James was preaching and “the enemy (Paul) attacked James and threw him headlong from the top of the Temple steps” and left him for dead.

James became an alternate High Priest to one, Ananas, appointed by the successor of Herod. This was one more reason why Paul was persecuting Christians on behalf of the High Priest as above set out. James also was permitted to enter that part of the Temple to which only the High Priest could enter and to wear the vestments of the High Priest. The bitter rivalry between James and Ananas resulted in Ananas convening the Sanhedrin to try James for blasphemy. It dutifully sentenced James to death by stoning. The sentence was carried out (62 CE). In retaliation, the nationalists assassinated Ananas and then rose up against Rome.

Prior to the death of James (62 CE), Pauline Christianity had made little headway. Paul died about six years after James but not before establishing a foothold for his ideas in the Jewish communities in the Greek and Roman world.

All the foregoing comes from the New Testament and other early Christian writings.

Aftermath of Temple destruction

The uprising resulted in the wholesale slaughter of Jews (1 million in Palestine and 1.5 million in Alexandria) and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lesser temple in Alexandria.

After the destruction of the Temple, the accommodationists curried even more favour with the Romans in order to survive and prosper. Pauline Christianity grew into Christianity as we know it and Jamesian Christianity died out. The other accommodationists, the Pharisees were appointed the tax collectors for the Romans and survived to become the dominant force in Judaism.

Thus messianic Judaism died out and Rabbinic Judaism took hold. There was no longer a need for the priestly class to oversee the Temple rites and sacrifices and they lost their power and position. The destruction of the Temple irrevocably changed both “Christianity” and Judaism forever.

The highly Hellenized movement that developed overseas after the destruction of the Temple, which we now call Christianity, was far different from the Jerusalem Church under James. Even so, Eusebius, a Christian scholar records around 300 CE that the first 10 Bishops of the Jerusalem Church were all circumcised Jews. They observed the dietary laws, the Jewish Sabbath and the festivals including Yom Kippur (thus showing that they did not regard the death of Jesus as atoning for their sins

Scholars assume that since Jesus appointed his brother James to lead his movement they must have been in agreement. They believe that anything in the New Testament about Jesus not in keeping with what they know about James is simply a fabrication. The scriptures are not accepted as historical because they present Jesus as anti-nationalistic, cosmopolitan, antinomian and accepting of foreigners and persons with perceived impurities. Just the opposite of James.

True Prophet Ideology

Deuteronomy is among the proof text found at Qumran and is the basis of the idea that a Prophet would succeed the heritage defined by Moses in the Old Testament. This is known as the “True Prophet” ideology. Following this legacy, Christians and Muslims consider Jesus and Mohammed to be “True Prophets” respectively. Judaism rejects both prophets believing that revelation in the Hebrew Bible is the be all and end all of revelation. In other words, there would be no new prophets or revelations..

Dead Sea Scrolls

Professor Eisenman turned to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which included the Habakkuk Commentary, to look for new insights. He was surprised to note that the story they told was surprisingly similar to that told by Acts, Josephus and other early Christian historians as set out above. They told the story of the Teacher of Righteousness, unnamed, who was an exemplar of righteousness and the acknowledged leader of the sectarian religious community who were zealous for the law. The “Teacher” had to contend with two distinct enemies. One was called the “Liar” or “Spouter of Lies”. He was an outsider who was admitted to the community, then turned renegade, quarreled with the Teacher and hijacked part of the community’s doctrine and membership. He “did not listen to the word received by the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of G-d”. He appealed to the “unfaithful of the New Covenant in that they have not believed in the covenant of God and have profaned his holy name”. “The Liar flouted the law in the midst of their whole congregation“ and ”led many astray”. The second adversary was the “Wicked Priest” whose story conformed exactly to that of Ananas with much more detail added. Thus Eisenman argues that part of the Scrolls and the Habakkuk Commentary deal with the same events recounted in Acts and Josephus and that Paul is the “spouter of Lies” and James “The Teacher of Righteousness”. Christianity tried to withhold the Scrolls from public study, preferring to impose their self serving interpretation on the world at large as they have for 2000 years. They also argue that the Scrolls were written before the time of James and thus couldn’t refer to him. What they were resisting and continue to resist is the inescapable conclusion that Jesus and the early Christians were part of the nationalist camp and zealous for the Law. This is the opposite of how they portray Jesus and his followers today.

In his exegesis, Prof. Eisenman dissects all the stories and word usages in the Gospels to show the origins of same and to clearly demonstrate that either the stories were either inversions of truth or misappropriations of truth or allusions to truth. As for word usages, he demonstrates the real meaning of the words or why the particular words are being used. I have already pointed out the special meaning for the words “robbers” and “prostitutes”. You are aware that the Gospels contain stories of Jesus and the Apostles fishing in the Galilee. Eisenman argues that the literal meaning is of no value and the real meaning lies in what the ‘fish’ represent (dead Jews), and what the ‘casting of nets’ represent (the “casting down” of James from the Temple Walls) etc. It is truly fascinating to see behind the words and stories of the Gospels.

Faith and Salvation

“Faith” was the foundation piece of Pauline theology. Although it was not part of Judaic teaching at the time, it in fact comes from the Book of Habakkuk a text of Old Testament apocrypha dating from before 500 BCE which reads “the upright man will live by his faithfulness”. Paul uses these exact words to support his theories. But the Habakkuk Commentary found among the Scrolls comments on this statement as follows.

  1. But the righteous shall live by his faith. Interpreted, this concerns all those who observe the Law in the House of Judah, Whom G-d will deliver from the House of Judgment because of their suffering and because of their faith in the Teacher of Righteousness.

This extra-ordinary passage is tantamount, in effect, to a formulation of early Christian doctrine. It states explicitly that suffering and faith in the Teacher of Righteousness constitute the path to deliverance and salvation. This is where Paul derived the foundation for his theology but he contrives to leave out the most important part, namely, that it only applies to ‘those who observe the Law in the House of Judah’.

Yohannan ben Zacchai

As an interesting side note, the Talmud tells the story of how Yohanan ben Zacchai was smuggled out of Jerusalem in a coffin during the siege of Jerusalem and sent an arrow into the camp of Titus with the following note “Rabbi Yohanan is one of the Emperors’ friends”. He also applied the “Star Prophecy”, the most precious prophecy of the Jewish people at the time, to Vespasian, saying that he was the Ruler prophesied to come out of Palestine and rule the world. Talk about obsequiousness. Ben Zacchai was rewarded with a Jewish academy at Yavneh. Some draw a parallel with this story and the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Ben Zacchai also died so to speak, i.e. was put in a coffin, and was subsequently ‘resurrected’.

Socrates

A second interesting side note is to compare the story of the crucifixion of Jesus with the execution of Socrates. Both refused to answer their interlocutors or to avoid their fate. Indeed much of the legacy of Socrates and Plato is incorporated into the materials about Jesus including the notions of non-resistance to Evil and a Justice that does not consist of helping your friends and harming your enemies; all doctrines absolutely alien to the Palestinian milieu.

Liberating the Gospels by J. S. Spong, Episcopalian Bishop

According to Bishop Spong, and after reading this book you will have no doubt, the Gospels were written in the style of the Midrash with a thoroughly Jewish context and content. As the Midrash is not to be taken literally, so too, the Gospels were not intended to be taken literally. He argues that the stories are interpretive narratives about the meaning of Jesus using images and themes from the Hebrew Bible and are meant to be read along with the Torah readings weekly throughout the year..

To prove his point, he superimposed the Gospels on the Jewish liturgical readings. This took some work. First he concluded that the earliest and most reliable Gospel, Mark, was intended to cover the period from Rosh Hashanah to Passover. Since the event of the crucifixion brought the Christian people into existence as the people of God it had a parallel in Passover which saw the birth of the Jewish nation. Jesus was the Pascal lamb. His blood was put on the cross to save mankind as the blood of the Pascal lamb was put on the door posts to save the first born. To partake in the body or blood of Christ as all Christians do symbolically today, is to partake of the pascal lamb. The balance of Mark, when divided into weekly portions deals with the same issues as the weekly Torah readings do. Yet Mark, which was anti Jewish, presents Jesus as a perfectly normal man with a family including brothers and sisters.

Matthew, which was written next and was the most Jewish of the Gospels, covered the whole year and does likewise. For instance the Sermon on the Mount comes at Shavuoth, the time of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The same principal was discovered to apply to Luke which is the most gentile in outlook and John, which was the most anti-Jewish. Remember that the Christians were excommunicated from Judaism before Luke and John were written.

These later Gospels articulated the virgin birth and that Jesus was G-d incarnate. As a result, these Gospels did away with the family of Jesus, and the Jewishness and the existence of his Apostles, and the role of James. They were excommunicated so to speak. They went so far as to have Jesus reject his mother and brothers. They also whitewashed the Romans and condemned the Jews as Christ- killers.

Not only does Spong conclude that the subject matter coincides when overlaid as I have said, he also concludes that many of the characters in the New Testament are fashioned to be like Old Testament personalities both in name and in deed. The “signs and wonders” performed by G-d in the Old Testament are performed by Jesus in the New Testament. Moses is the prophet to whom God revealed himself, who gave the Law and who died in an unknown place. Maybe he didn’t die. Jesus likewise. The Promised Land of the Jews became the Kingdom of G-d promised to the Christians. One more example to make the point. Luke introduces Zecharia and Elizabeth as the parents of John the Baptist who baptized Jesus. He overtly portrayed them in the pattern of Abraham and Sarah. Both sets of parents were called righteous, both women were barren and advanced in age, both fathers were disbelieving of the possibility of theirs wives giving birth and both were told that nothing is impossible for G-d.

Nativity

The Nativity story demands close attention. In short, Jesus was born of a virgin in a manger in Bethlehem and was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Three wise men came riding on camels, bearing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh, to witness the birth and a star rose in the East. What are its antecedents? In Isaiah, “kings came to the light and to the brightness of G-d’s dawn, riding on camels and bringing gold and frankincense”. Isaiah also tells us that a messiah would be born in Bethlehem of a young woman. In Wisdom of Solomon, Solomon says, “I was nursed with care in swaddling clothes for no king has had a different beginning of existence.” Even the word “manger’ comes from Isaiah where it conveyed the meaning that the whole earth was a crib or bin where G-d fed his people. So Jesus was presented as sustenance from G-d. Finally there is no mention of camels in the New Testament, only in Isaiah so we conclude that the early Christians knew the source of the story and never forgot the camels. The Gospels were written in Greek and ‘young maiden’ was translated as a ‘virgin’ because the concept of young maiden and virgin are merged into one Greek word. The rest, as they say, is history.

Crucifixion

Among the details of the crucifixion given by the Gospel of John are that a Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a spear and did not break his legs (whereas the other two robbers had their legs broken). You might think that these are innocuous details that are historically true. But no such thing. John relates them as fulfilling Jewish Scriptural passages namely Zachariah which refers to “being pierced” and Exodus which according to John, says “not a bone of him shall be broken”.

Of greater interest is the Exodus passage which, when referring to the Pascal Lamb, laid down that the meat thereof “shall not be carried out of the house, nor shall a bone of it be broken”. Thus John is implying that Jesus is the pascal lamb whose bones (legs) were not broken. Or in other words, that Jesus is the new Passover meal – that is, Paul’s “communion” with the body and blood of Christ Jesus. This passage further provides when referring to the Passover meal, that “No uncircumcised person may take part.”. Nothing could be further from the spirit of Christianity; in fact the opposite of it. This is another example of how the Gospels have used scriptures for their own purposes in a way that totally distorts or inverts their original meaning. In contrast, Jerome, an early Christian historian, when telling of the stoning of James, makes the point of his legs “being broken” from the fall from the Pinnacle of the Temple.

That leaves only the message. Jesus was shown to be cosmopolitan, accommodationist, universalistic and pacifistic. This was in keeping with the Pauline attempts to have the movement all inclusive and acceptable to Rome. As I have shown, scholars believe that this was the mirror opposite of what Jesus would have stood for. To the extent that Jesus is presented as teaching a concern for the weak and the poor and the giving of charity, this was mainstream Judaism at the time. When Jesus talked of the golden rule, he was merely following Rabbi Hillel. The Gospels, in part, presented Jesus as being against the Law but in real life he would have followed the Law to the last letter.

References to James in the Dead Sea Scrolls include “not being a regarder of persons”, “Holy from his mother’s womb”, and “standing on the pinnacle of the Temple”. These and many others including the James’ Sanhedrin trial are retrospectively inserted and sometimes reversed into the pro-Roman, anti-Jewish biography of Jesus. One account of the stoning of James, reports that he said on dying “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” . Astonishingly these words too, are later attributed in the Gospels to Jesus. The destruction of the Temple which Christians attribute to the “killing of Jesus by the Jews” some 40 years earlier, really came about as a result of the killing of James.

I have only scratched the surface of the scholarship presented by Eisenman and Spong. Hardly a detail goes unnoticed.

Josephus in the Preface to the “Jewish Wars” writes:

  1. “The War of the Jews against the Romans was the greatest of our time, greater too perhaps, than any recorded struggle whether between cities or nations. Yet persons with no first hand knowledge accepting baseless and inconsistent stories on hearsay, have written garbled accounts of it; while those of eyewitnesses have been falsified either to flatter the Romans or to vilify the Jews, eulogy or abuse being submitted for accurate historical record.”

In conclusion it may be safely said that all we know of the real Jesus was that he was crucified and had many siblings including James. Most incidents of his life and death and most teachings attributed to him as set out in the New Testament, either come from symbols from the Old Testament, facts about the life and death of James or the desire to produce an inclusive theology acceptable to gentiles or an historical record acceptable to the Romans.

I leave you with one final thought, Messianism is a nationalistic ideology. To be anti-nationalist messianists as the Christians fashioned themselves to be is a contradiction in terms..

CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
325 Christianity became the state religion of the Holy Roman Empire
132 Second Jewish Revolt (Bar Kochba)(132-136)
110* Gospel of John
100* Acts of the Apostles
96 Death of Josephus
92* Gospel of Luke
90* Antiquities written by Josephus
85* Christians excommunicated from the Jewish religion
80 Judaism declared certain practices of Christians as “Anathemas”
75* Jewish Wars written by Josephus
77* Gospel of Mathew
73 Fall of Masada
72* Gospel of Mark
70 Destruction of Temple
69* Death of Paul
66 Final Uprising against Rome (66-70)
62 Death of James
55* Epistles of Paul
33* James becomes Head of Jerusalem Assembly (33-62)
32* Crucifixtion of Jesus
06* Birth of Jesus
000 ————————————————————————————————-
20* Herod killed last of Maccabee priestly line and appoints his own High Priest
37 Herod appointed King of Palestine by Rome (37-4 BCE)
63 Romans conquered Palestine
100* Alexander Jannaeus grand nephew of Judas Maccabee defeats Seleucids
120* Maccabees 1 and Maccabees 2 written
130* Book of Daniel written
137 Chunukah
167 Start of Maccabee Revolt
333 Occupation of Palestine by the Greeks
440* Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah
540 Return from Babylonian exile
586 Destruction of First Temple and exile to Babylon
1000 Solomon completed First Temple

* Denotes approximate date.

May 7, 2021 | 171 Comments »

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  1. @ Michael S:
    You may have been a working scientist…of some sort…but as far as common sense, logic , and truthfulness you are a dud …DUD. So go and crawl back into your hole in the woodwork.

  2. @ Reader:
    No, it makes nonsense of the missionaries’ claims of objective truth. And, it’s history. Real history. Not the fake one that has been used to incite violence against us for 2,000 years.

  3. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    Then why can’t we stop discussing the “historical” Jesus and printing articles by Melanie Philips who writes nonsense because she doesn’t know anything either of Judaism or Christianity and calls for us to just be friends?

    To make it easier for the missionaries to do their work?

    Is this Israpundit or Jesuspundit?

  4. @ Reader:
    We are reading this again 4 years later because it doesn’t date. And, in addition to the recent missionary scandals in Israel, Jewish groups on Facebook are continually inundated with Christian conversion attempts by people who say they are ardent supporters and who claim that the New Testament is objectively verified.

  5. @ orangeladytrumpkin:
    So?
    How do you know Yeshu and Jesus are the same person?

    There must have been thousands of people named Yeshu in those days.

    All the Christian writings were edited retroactively to correspond to what they call Old Testament.

    The Christian scholars learn Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

    After the printing press was invented, the Talmud could not be printed without going through a Christian censor – who made corrections, BTW.

  6. @ Michael S:
    According to the mainstream Christian beliefs, Jesus was a Son of God (and God himself – I don’t get it but I am sure you do) and he was sent by his Father (to whom he vociferously complained on the Cross) to the planet Earth to be a huge “human and Jewish” (how can God be human? or belong to an ethnic group?) sacrifice “to save everyone’s sins”.

    In fact, the more and bloodier he suffered, the greater the “expiation”.

    Logically, the non-Jews should have cheerfully crucified him and kicked the Jews out of the place, so they couldn’t share in the mitzvah.

    The whole thing never happened, Jesus never existed, and the Jews really have better things to do on Passover than participate in public executions.

    Titus crucified anyone who escaped Jerusalem during the siege around the walls of the city, and this did happen, so the Romans invented a fairy tale which was edited and standardized centuries later to dump eternal guilt on the Jews.

  7. besides Josephus, who actually worshiped the Christ, saying he doubted that He was only a man, there were other ancient writers which so many love to toss out:
    Pliny
    Thallus
    Phlegon
    Origen
    Tacitus
    Emperor Claudius
    Eusebius
    Suetonius
    Lucian
    Celsus
    Mera bar Serapion

    and even:
    Evidence from the Babylonian Talmud

    There are only a few clear references to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled between approximately A.D. 70-500. Given this time frame, it is naturally supposed that earlier references to Jesus are more likely to be historically reliable than later ones. In the case of the Talmud, the earliest period of compilation occurred between A.D. 70-200.[20] The most significant reference to Jesus from this period states:

    On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald … cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.”[21]

    Let’s examine this passage. You may have noticed that it refers to someone named “Yeshu.” So why do we think this is Jesus? Actually, “Yeshu” (or “Yeshua”) is how Jesus’ name is pronounced in Hebrew. But what does the passage mean by saying that Jesus “was hanged”? Doesn’t the New Testament say he was crucified? Indeed it does. But the term “hanged” can function as a synonym for “crucified.”

    The Toledot Yeshu (1000AD)
    The Toledot Yeshu is a medieval Jewish retelling of the life of Jesus. It is completely anti-Christian, to be sure.

  8. “Some Christian scholars argue that the historical Jesus is irrelevant. Its the Jesus of faith that counts. ”

    Exactly. In reality, Jesus was not rejected by the Jewish leaders because of who he WAS (namely, a human being standing historically and presently right before their eyes), but because of what he SAID; and what he said has been dutifully recorded in the New Testament and preserved to this day.

    There are some real nuggets in the NT that I love, such as,

    Luke 20:
    [19] And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.

    Scholars and idiots alike can dispute the historicity of Jesus all they want; but what he SAID endures to this day; and the responses today are exactly as they were in Jesus’ time, whenever one thinks that was or wasn’t.

    Put bluntly, there are some odious fellows on Israpundit, who would gladly crucify Jesus if they could get their hands on him — which, to me, is proof positive that every word in the NT is true.

  9. @ Reader:
    Just another exaple of your contrariness. Who’s talking about Yemeni Muslims in the 21st century.. At least 2 acounts I read years ago said that the Samaritans, who were not considered Jews, except by themselves, refused to return home when ordered, killed a number of Roman soldiers, and therefore, a huge fight broke out and Roman discipline precailed, resulting in the slaughter of over a thousand Samaritans.

    What do you mean..”that’s how it was supposed to be”…. such nonsense to prove an even more neonsensical point which is not even there.

    As for the rest, you are kind enough to let that go and desist from arguing, for which I thank you sincerely and even devoutly. Thank you, thank you thank you…!!! Ohmayn..

  10. @ Edgar G.:
    Yes, they were armed.
    And the Yemenite Muslims walk(ed?) around with a huge knife stuck behind their belts – does it mean that they are constantly in the state of aggression and rebellion and in dire need to be subdued?

    “Everyone is relying on Josephus” because there is nothing else from that period left to rely on which is how it was supposed to be – his was to be the only official history.

    As far as the rest of it, you are repeating what you already wrote, please, read my answer to your previous post.

  11. @ Reader:
    Not unusually, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you should read other than Wiki. The Samaritans were armed and aggrssive, and it was regarded as a rebellion, which is a historical fact, attested to by many contemporaneous writers.

    Josephus was regarded as a Roman proagandist for many years until more observant scholars looked into his writings and saw that he was a confirmed Jew and whilst a bit reticent about Rome, due to the politics, was writing to uphold Judaism, and is now accepted by all major authorities as a Jewish Historian of great importance, whose books give us the only authentic acount of those turbulent times. Eveybody depends on Josephus and whatever histories or researches that are done, ALL depend eventually on Josephus. He delved into everything, the most trivial as well as the most important, and all in between. Without him, we’d know almost nothing, other than what archaeologists dig up. And then, we’d have to puzzle it out.

    You Reader ae against everything which does not suit your preconcieved concoctions, which you may have read in some obscure publication,long forgotten and never highly regarded.

    What about Johanan Ben Zakki…was he a Roman propagadist too, and a traitor to Israel…???

    And, particularly if any “yes”, you instinctively say “no”. Enjoy it -if it makes you feel good.

    It is what it is, which is not what YOU think. This subject is played out.

  12. @ liz44:
    There are undoubtedly many sincere and non-coercive Christian Zionists but this recent article makes it very relevant. All Jews from secular to ultra-orthodox regard attempts by Christians to convert Jews as a form of assault and one that opens very old wounds and pours salt in them. For that reason, a Christian broadcasting station had its license taken away, recently, for trying to convert Jews instead of sticking to preaching to Christians. Israel is the only country in the MIddle East that respects religious freedom. That’s something for Christians to be grateful for. Israel is a haven for Christians. It is in the self-interest of Christians to support Israel on civil rights grounds. I had no problem supporting Mike Huckabee for President in 2015/16 because he extends solidarity without making demands.

    American ‘Frum’ Family in Jerusalem Revealed as Christian Missionaries
    April 25, 2021 – 13 Iyyar 5781

    This Content Was Published at https://collive.com/american-frum-family-in-jerusalem-revealed-as-christian-missionaries/

  13. @ Edgar G.:
    Josephus was a liar and a Roman propagandist.

    The Samaritans were revolting while heading to get the sacred vessels?

    Don’t make me laugh!

    Josephus also wrote that the Jews of Jerusalem rioted and the procurator (whoever he was at the time) decided to passify them by taking money from the Temple treasury, and a large number of the rioting Jews were left dead on the Temple grounds.

    This idiotic account should properly translate into:
    The Roman felt a need for more cash and decided to get some from the Temple treasury, the Jews (naturally) resisted, and a large number of them were left dead by the Romans on the Temple grounds.

    And this is only where one CAN tell that he is lying.

  14. Sorry, slip of the keys…Not LIvy, I meant Pliny. Even Josephus mentioned the “small revolt”..of the Samaritans. He says that a nut was leading them to where he said the sacred vessels of Moses were hidden. They complained to Vitellius, and he passed it on to Rome, He was the Governor of Syria and Pilate’s superior.

    Just recalled…the reason that Pilate was often called a procurator, is that they were involved in financial matters and were basically minor officials. There were several books written about this double reference to Pilate as Governor, and also Procurator. They were notorious for enriching themselves whilst sending back other loot to Rome. It was an eagerly sought for position, and depended on influence in Rome, not ability.

    So he was a sub- governor under the authority of the governor of Syria a much larger country and a correspondingly higher position.

  15. @ Edgar G.:
    What you are saying is utterly ridiculous.

    Your guesses, assumptions, and analyses of the Roman personalities are completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

    I don’t want to have anything to do with them.

    “He WASN’T THERE”

    But you, of course, WERE.

    And you do guess.

  16. @ Reader:
    Thy were not punished for “screw-ups” as you call them.The made many. It depended on the “political” situation in Rome at the time, who was paying whom, who achieved preeminence in influence with the Emperot. It so happened, which you seem not to know, that Sejanus, a former “freed-man” became Tiberius’ right hand man. Tibby was a gloomy (family problems for mnay years) detached person who moved out of the plitcal arena t Cari, he was old and sick, tired and depressed. Sejanus ruled the roost and began plotting to displace Tibby, with himself. Tib, caught on and had him executed.. By then he was 78, and very sick. He got a complaint from Palestine, that Sejanus’ man was misbehaving, so recalled him. Then died before Pilate landed.

    Rome was a cesspit of intrigue, assassination, money, and worry over the succession. Caigula was brought up already crazy for years. but succeeded . he didn’t last long.

    The Samaritans were actually revolutionaries, and looked down on by Jews, so they were only an excuse to displace Sejanus’ man. Livy -and others-writes that it was an UPRISING. Get wise..Get Smart. !! I don’t care what book you read, the writer was only guessing. He WASN’T THERE The contemporary Roman writers say differently. Your writer was a contrarian…like you. Wanted to give his book a different slant for better sales Money Money Money… I can guess too.

  17. @ Edgar G.:
    That was his final screw-up – his ” suppression of an armed rising of thousands of Samaritans”.

    There was NO “armed rising by Samaritans”, it was a religious march to Mt. Gerizim, and they did bear arms as directed by their “prophet” whom they followed there.

    Someone informed Pilate and he sent soldiers there to “suppress the rising” which they did, hurting and maybe killing a few Samaritans.

    This was what caused him to be recalled after the Samaritans complained to the emperor..

    The above comes from a book by a British historian, as I recall.

    Tiberius preferred that his officials stay there for longer periods of time because he knew that they were going to rob the population to enrich themselves, and if they thought that they would be staying for a while, they wouldn’t be treating their subjects as harshly (having more time to rob them).

    This is what Tiberius said according to his contemporaries, it is not my idea.

  18. @ Reader:
    There were 2-3 other “complaints” to the Emperor, over 10 years, who happened to have been Tiberius. Pilatus make several “errors”, doing things against Jewish Law. Well he hasn’t a Jew..and didn;t know the customs. His main reason for being there was to become rich. He did a good job there. If I recall his appointment had something to do with Sejanus Tibby’s right hand man “at the time”., and sent him his “split”..Tiberius had retired to Capri by then and Sejanus actuallt made the major decisions., as coming from Tibby,..until he got caught doing a no-no, and was “disposed of”.. Rome was always full of inrrigue and created monsters.

    BUT..he was the local governor for a whole 10 years, the longest of any Roman, so was trusted and supported by Rome. He suppressed an armed rising of thousands of Samaritans.and was recalled for an enquiry.. Whilst on his way . Tiberius died and Caligula is said to have retired him…..AWFUL punishmen. He was replaced by one of Caligula’s yes-men who also wanted to make his fortune. This was how they did it…

  19. @ Tanna:
    Yes, I wrote the article about 30 years ago just after Eisenman published “James the brother of Jesus”

    I was aware of one error Eisenman made namely that he dated the Dead Sea Scrolls 100 years later than he should have. In other words they preceded the C.E.

    It does not suffice to say that Eisenman and Spong got somethings wrong. Because they also got some things right. The wrong doesn’t invalidate the right.

    I was very specific about what I wrote and did not generalize as you do.

    My basic challenge to Christian thinking is this;
    “I leave you with one final thought, Messianism is a nationalistic ideology. To be anti-nationalist messianists as the Christians fashioned themselves to be is a contradiction in terms..”

  20. @ Edgar G.:
    Real Pontius Pilate started screwing up as soon as he showed up in Judea.

    Finally, he really screwed up by sending soldiers to attack a group of Samairtans who were marching after their “prophet” on the way to dig up some treasure.

    The Samaritans complained to the emperor, Pilate was recalled, and no one knows what happened to him since,

  21. @ Adam Dalgliesh:
    Adam, much of what you write is just wrong. I won’t bother to go into it except to say that over the past months I have noticed that any self deprecation you ever had has vanished and the words you lay down are as if from the Lord on High…. Pompous and overdefinite..

    Just one item. Pilate WAS exculpated, so you are totally WRONG in your assertion (perhaps without undestanding the action) . Washing the hands was an OLD tradition of showing innocence of having any involvement in whatever was taking place. Pilate’s actual words whilst washing, are supposed to have been “I am innocent of this man’s blood”…etc.

    It was also an old biblical custom from the times of the first Temple, to use that huge brass bowl for the priests to wash their hands before assuming their duties. Also an old psalm saying of “clean hands, clean heart’..and etc.etc.

    The Christian version was deliberately skewed towards Rome and against Jews, as is obvious from involving the Sanhedrin, and “Jewish Mobs”….Rome was in charge, the Jews were vanquished. If you read that properly you’ll see it was just a “scenario”, like a Hollywood play.. This has been noticed by many.

    ****** As for Paul-if he ever existed-, we know at least one thing..He was a liar,.
    At least 8 of his “letters” are now accepted as forgeries and the remaining 5 are doubtful. Meaning that they were written by some unknown Christian apologists, who supported a Christianity which had little to do with the Gospels accounts******

    There is much that I don’t understand about that period athough I spent many years of study and reading both pros and cons. Records have been destroyed by the tons, the country was in complete chaos, destruction everywhere, Bar Yonim and innocent together hunted for their lives. Also “editors” and fakers have worked overtime to make favourable situations for their own beliefs..

    ,For instance I have read Josephus from cover to cover both his Wars and his Antiquities, at least 4-5 times and gone back to re-read whole sections. I read at least 100 or more (actually countless) scholarly books on the periods, and possess about 70 others. . I was collecting material for a book. It wasn’t completed because much else interevened. But take my word for it, I went through from David on, but more specifically from the Hasmonean entry to history to past the Bar Kecheba War, and even up to about the 11th cent, for specific items of interest. Which is how I found the letter from the Bishop who visited Palestine in the 6th cent. to his French friend, complaining that there are so many Jews, they are crowding out the Christians etc.

    There is no point in our working our gums on this subject as we are here now, and have not much idea as to what happened then, except to know that despite thousands of vitally interested people digging everywhere for evidence of the mere existence of Jesus of Nazareth, (never mind trying to show the truth of the Gospels) not a scap, not an iota has ever been found. And it never wiil.

    Notwithstanding the amount of holy relics, bones and chips of “the true cross”, and the shroud of Turin,( which even though it was exposed in an extant letter from the local bishop as having been painted,with the name of the artist, a few years after it suddenly appeared).

    By then a whole history had been invented, going right back to the cruxifiction. It was a massive industry.

  22. This essay must have bee written over 30 years ago. Lots of Spong’s and Eisenman scholarship has not stood the test of time and scrutiny. This historical search for the Real Jesus(Yeshua) has been going on for a long time and will most likely continue until the real Moshiach shows up.

    There is much in this article to disagree with and not enough time nor space. Eisenman and Spong got some things correct but in my opinion missed the forest for the trees.

    When the Jews and Christians split and parted ways, One built a Synagogue on one corner and the other built a Church across the street on the other corner. They each stood in the street screaming at each other and if one pick one doctrine the other picked another in opposition. If they had to have the same teaching they reinterpreted the theology to suit them and twisted it just different enough to call it their own.

    Is there truth in the Torah and the Hebrew writings, both O.T. and N.T.? I believe there is!!!

    The Bible teaches that the “fathers have lied”! how far back that goes I cannot figure out at this time. Both Rabbi’s and Monks, have monkeyed with the text.

    If you study the New testament and try to understand Yeshua in the context of which is HE at this time, this point of the story, at this particular verse . It would greatly increase your understanding of Yeshua’s work and ministry. What am I speaking of? Is Yeshua operating, speaking, functioning as…… Messiah ben Joseph or as Messiah ben David. sometimes MBJ and sometimes MBD and sometimes one can sense a little of the character of both operating.

    Another thing one should do is take the time to look at who Paul (Sauls) audience is that he is addressing. It will make a difference in how you understand what he is saying. .i.e. IF a person is a Jew, A ger, righteous gentile living amongst Jews, IF one is a proselyte that has converted, or a pagan gentile who is just curious and looking in to see what is going on.

    Many many questions and not enough answers. But after a life time of study it is obvious that when the real Yeshua shows up he got….. lots and lots of stuff to straighten out on both sides.

  23. @ Adam Dalgliesh:
    The Gospels:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel

    They cannot be viewed as historic documents, they were “preaching and propaganda”.

    They could have described Jesus as a Jew for the purposes of making him more acceptable to the Jews whom they were trying to convert or to those Gentiles who were interested in Judaism but needed to be drawn away from it..

    Since I last looked (more than 10 years ago) Wikipedia has been heavily edited.

    Before the Gospels were standardized (in the 4th century, I believe) there were numerous versions floating around (old Wikipedia when it was still reputable).

  24. @ Edgar G.:
    You are being unfair, Edgar. I am not a bishop, and have no intention of becoming one. My point is that many (although not all) events described in the first three gospel narratives, and even some of the sermons and sayings attributed to Jesus, like descriptions of a real individual and his associates, not fictitious characters. In particular, Many of the alleged facts mentioned in the gospels contradict the Christian doctrines proclaimed by Paul, and the gospel authors have clearly been influenced by Paul’s doctrines. In some places the gospel writers try to “square” what Jesus said with Paul’s doctrines, but they fail to make a plausible case that Jesus and Paul agreed with each other.

    Then there is the gospel writer’s grudging admissions that Jesus’s execution was ordered by Pontius Pilate, a Roman official, and carried out by Roan soldiers. The gospel writers go to great lengths to try to prove that ‘the Jews” were really to blame for his execution, and that Pilate was only trying to plascate them. But they don’t try to claim that Pilate was not involved at all. If they were making Jesus’s life up out of whole cloth. they certainly would not have mentioned any role at all in his death by Romans.

    Most convincing to me that Jesus was a real person, not a fictitious character, is that many statements in the gospels describe Jesus as a Jew who observes Jewish laws and urges his followers to do the same. Yet the early church under Paul’s leadership proclaimed that God had abolished all of the Jewish laws. One verse even has Jesus telling his desciples to preach only to their fellow Jews, not to Gentiles. This is of course the exact opposite of what the early church did under Paul’s leadership.

    THe gospel writers obviously detested the Jewish religion. Yet they describe their messiah and “Son of God” as a practitioner of and believer in the Jewish religion. The only possible explanation for these inconsistencies is that they knew that many of their readers were familiar with the actual facts of Jesus’s life, and they would lose all credibility with their own readers if they tried to flat out deny them. So they employed “spin” to try explain away the inconsistencies, but without much success.

    Writers only use “spin” to try to explain away and rationalize facts, not to invent them. When you write pure fiction, you can make up the entire narrative, and don’t have to admit to anything that doesn’t fit your view of the characters. You own the narrative completely. But the gospel writers clearly did not have complete control of their own narrative. This is why I think that Jesus was a real individual, and that most although by no means all of what the gospel writers write about him has some basis in fact.

  25. @ Edgar G.:
    No, I didn’t make up the “rumour”, if anyone, it was Josephus who made up the “rumour”.

    It was in one of his books and it really freaked him out, and I read it personally.

    The reason it freaked him out is because his history was approved by the Romans as “official” and there wasn’t supposed to exist any alternative histories.

    He tells lies for sure, sometimes they are obvious but it is pretty hard to lie about geography and topography, and what would be the need for doing so?.

    He could have defended Judaism all he wanted but he WAS a traitor, he became a member of the Flavian family, and he never again visited Judea (I wonder why) in spite of the fact that the Romans gifted him with property there.

    Yochanan Ben Zakkai was a rabbi who tried to preserve what’s left and not a military man who surrendered to the enemy and sold out to that enemy completely and wrote official propaganda for them in exchange for the good life, various perks, and fame as an official historian.

    I think it is YOU who is a contrarian, and you consistently choose to ignore what politicians DO in favor of what they SAY, their social standing, their appearance, and their ability to do political saltos mortales and “adroit maneuvers” to save their own a$$.

    BTW, just because you don’t like what people say, doesn’t give you the right to put them down.

  26. @ liz44:
    I truly value the support Israel gets from evangelical Christians. If only American Jews would give Israel a small fraction of the support you do. Alas.

    At the beginning, I took pains to soften the blow from my recitation of the facts.

    In the second paragraph, I wrote,
    “Some Christian scholars argue that the historical Jesus is irrelevant. Its the Jesus of faith that counts. Others would say that if Jesus wasn’t the son of G-d or G-d himself or, less extreme, if he didn’t say the things or do the deeds or have the personality attributed to him in the Gospels then Christianity is meaningless. Before we Jews get too smug, we must realize that one could also argue that if the Torah wasn’t inspired by G-d or if G-d didn’t liberate the Jews from Egypt or enter into a covenant with Abraham that Judaism would have no foundation in truth.”

    I went on to say,

    “Yet before we dismiss these religions and all others of which the same can be said, we must realize that man has always enshrined basic truths as they understood them in mythology. What counts then is the message and not the facts; or, what counts is not what happened, only what people think happened.. My purpose is not to delve further into this debate but simply to identify for you what is known about the historical Jesus.”

  27. @ liz44:
    Welcome. I suggest that you are reading into the essay items which are not there. It is an account which adheres very much to the Goapel described version, and occasionally gives alternate suggestions to explain the otherwise inexpicable. You may have read that this essay was written over 30 years ago. I say it’s an admirable effort from a non biblical scholar, and makes interesting reading.

    Rather than attacking Ted, you should be venting on people like myself, who firmly adhere to the mythological nature of the Jesus Cult, concocted from documented Sun God myths etc, whicj were prevalent then, and mistranslations of the original Hebrew (like the “virgin birth”) and downright falsifications and forgeries (like the “Testimonius Flavianum”.) Also the topography, geography and contours of Palestine at that time, and still today, as described in varios events on the Gospels are all very much wrong, and never existed. The Synoptic Gospels contain much f this. Have you ever studied them in their side-by-side columned forms…??? You should and wil se ethat one copies the other to a large degree, wih add-ons for the later written. All taken from Mark, the first one. And, those are just names bestowed, no one knows who actually wrote them. But they wer not Jews and were written outside Palestine. This has been documentarily proven by experts.

    Because of the indescribable effect Chrstianity has had and still has, in stunting the expansion of Judaism and Jews, we often take a strong interest in the source of our miseries, and try to read some sense into it, sometime exculpatory, sometimes denunciatory, and often just from curiosity.

    As a devout Christian Zionist, you should bow your head in shame and grief for the horrendous fate that your fellow-co-religionists, perpetrated on a helpless, innocent people, hounded and burned throughout a never-ending over 2000 years, and still going strong, indeed reviving .

    I admire your sentiments and actions, which, in this miserable world are not easy to sustain, and wish you all good things for doing so.

  28. None of the writings cite are histories in our modern sense, not even a chronology. None of the authors makes any pretense of objectivity. Not these religious texts nor any of the ancient authors.
    Criticisms levied against Josephus are always prefaced by his volte face to the Romans, but no one mentions that he wrote in and we don’t have his Greek manuscript or that most commentators are reading from a faulty highly edited Xtian English translation. For example, the current in print English version totally omits at least 5 references to a ~600 footlong military bridge between the Antonia and the Temple simply because the translator didn’t believe that it existed. It’s in the Latin text! There’s a long list of omissions. Ancient translation, ditto. Current English translation, ditto.
    I look forward to an in person interview with Jesus next time I see him in order to clear up all these matters. Look here soon for my in depth report.

  29. As a Christian Zionist – connected by friends and family and by culture to the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities in the UK – I find this article somewhat disturbing. Not so much what you are saying, as the fact that you have included what amounts to a pop against Christianity in a newsletter which is otherwise devoted to Israel and the Jewish people. I do a lot of unofficial hasbara work on behalf of Israel, and have done so for many years. I write letters and articles (and occasionally get published in the Christian press!) giving the facts about Israel and the Jewish people to various church and civic groups, who otherwise get their views from the BBC, the Guardian, or any number of anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist media. I have found your newsletter so helpful in this respect, and although I receive absolutely no money from doing so, and am a retired pensioner, I do this work through love of Israel and the Jews. I don’t seek to convert Jews to Christianity – you don’t need it. God’s covenant with you is forever. What’s more, whoever Jesus was, he was Jewish! A lot of so-called Christians don’t even know that much! And I have to ask why you decided to include a piece that clearly intrigues some, but may alienate many more? Please think again. This is not the place for sowing doubt and confusion about another religion. It is for discussing and explaining Israel, her politics, and the ways in which she is affected by world events and hostile political leaders.

  30. @ Reader:

    Ah….. the Contrary Crumb strikes again !!!

    READER- It’s really astonishing, and I am not joking… to see how much you actually KNOW, about those times withut even having been told….. A modern day prophet…

    What you say is not true. Old Joe may have shaded his Roman descriptive adjectives a bit, but ALL experts on the subject-not you- appear to agree that he was a staunch Jew from Jewland, “fun der heim arou”s. He DEFENDED Judaism and Jews very strongly, all through the History and The Jewish War. Remember, he saw his nation crushed, and ground under the Pagan Roman heel. He was bitter against the Sicarii, and Bar-Yonim blaming them for the whole disaster..

    ******The revered,famed Sage Yochanan Ben Zakki, who was smuggled out of besieged Jerusalem in a coffin, and directly to Titus,…was he also a traitor and Roman “Quisling”…in YOUR eyes….(forgive the anachronism)******

    I know that the oldest “surviving” copy is early 10th cent. BUT…that doesn’t mean that your “rumour” about an Armaic copy is true. Being rumour, it’s like “Tiny Bubbles In The Air’…and means exactly ZERO. Perhaps you just made up the rumour from your generally feverish mind. Imagine sensing Josephus” annoyance from 2000 yeara ago, and accepting it as FACT. There are very many quotes and other mentions from Josephus in later surviving writers…ALL Christian, I may remind you and altered and “edited” countless times, . None of them display the tone that you take,,,, but still regard Joseph as an antagonist of Christianity and Jesus.

    His descriptions of geography, topogaraphy and all of Israel are faultles, according to biblical historians who know at least as much as you do about “poor ole Joe”… He defended Jews in ALL his writings, and that includes the Jewish religion.

  31. Josephus is NOT a true history of the period.

    His was the official Roman version, all others were, most likely, destroyed.

    There was a rumor at the time that a history of the time of the Jewish Revolt was found which was written in Aramaic and Josephus was very upset about it, so we can be sure that his “history” was heavily biased in favor of the Romans.

    The oldest copy of his writings is from the 10th century which means that it was recopied and possibly altered by generations of Byzantine monks (scribes).

    The whole Christianity thing was invented to spite the Jews and retroactively adjusted to correspond with the events recorded in the Torah in order for the Christian teachings to look authentic.

  32. <b@ Adam Dalgliesh:

    I suppose this is the sermon that Bishop Dalgleish gave last Sunday. Quite humourous in it’s own descriptive way. It’s a well known historical, documented fact that many Biblical scholars disagree with our beloved Bish, who seems to hew closely to the “information” in the Gospels..

    The Christian apologists…which is what they are called, all had read Josephus exhaustively, and nowhere in any page was there a single mention of a Jesus of that period. Joe mentions the most insignificant things, digs deeply into everything, social lives, rumours, legends etc. and describes them as such, but not a single word about a Jesus of the Gospels, (written by non Jews and not in Palestine,).

    The “Testimonium Flavianum” is a similarly acknowledged fake insertion by the dominant Church. The culprit is reputed to have been Eusebius the Church “historian” in the early 4th century. He was known as “the father of fraud”, for his “pious interpolations”, a polite way of saying that for religious reasons, he faked events and invented more convenient lies.

    Origen, an even more famous Church Historian, who lived before Eusebius, also wrote about the very same period (in fact E cribbed quite a bit from Origen) and never mentioned the “Testimonium”, not did any other contemporary historians, all of whom had deely delved into Josephus, regarded by them the way Baedecker was seen by world travellers in more modern times..

    *****Josephus was regarded by early Church historians to have been antaginistic to Christians and Jesus, just because he didn’t mention them at all*****.

    Josephus gives a good description of John (The Baptizer), whom he records as having appeared in the year 6, wearing a hair shirt, and a girdle, looking like the general description of ancient biblical prophets. He describes the baptism as a “cleansing of the body togo with the already cleansed souls”. In fact, just a good wash. .

    Sorry… Politically Correct I definitely am not…can’t help it. I’m a normal, free thinker….!

  33. Was Jesus a real Person?

    I have no doubt that Jesus existed and was a real Jewish preacher in the first century C.E. Much of what is reported in the “synoptic” gospels about his life and opinions seems to be a realistic description of the life of an itinerant Jewish preacher with messianic hopes or ambitions.

    He appoints twelve “apostles”
    (apostles being a Greek translation of the Hebrew Schlichim, or “messengers.”0 These twelve are also the same number as the “Overseers” of the Essene community at Qumran. Also, twelve is the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. One of the Gospels says that Jesus told the Twelve that they would rule over the “twelve tribes of Israel when his “Kingdom” comes into being. This is just what one would expect of a Jew of this era who aspired to be the messiah, meaning “King of the Jews.” (Jews of the era did not think of the Messiah as God).

    In one of the gospels Jesus also appoints a group of “seventy” followers to form his “council.” This suggests that he wanted to repace the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, also a council of seventy. And it would make it possible that the actual Council of Seventy, which the Romans allowed to have some authority over the purely internal affairs of the Jews, would be hostile to Jesus, if they heard about this plan of Jesus. That lends some credence to the claims of the gospel authors that representative s of the Sanhedrin complained about Jesus to the Roman procurator, Pilate.

    The description of Jesus overturning the stalls of the money-changers in the Temple courtyard recalls the complaints found in the Dead Sea Scrolls about the exchanging of Roman coins for the Temple own tithing tokens in the Temple courtyard. The Essenes thought that Roman coins should not be allowed in the temple precincts at all. Jesus seems to be supporting this position when one of the gospels reports that he responded to a question about whether Jews should pay taxes to the Roman authorities. His reported answer, “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” resembles the view expressed in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls that it is OK to use Roman coins to pay taxes to Rome, since this is simply returning to the Romans what originally belonged to them, but only “pure” currency minted by the Temple itself, with no human being represented on it, should be used to pay the tithes due to the temple. Of course the gospel writers gives this alleged saying of Jesus a completely different spin.

    Perhaps the overturning of the money-changers stalls was part of a riot by Jesus’s followers, who might have attempted to seize control of the Temple and its compound. That, too, would have angered both the Roman governor and the Temple priests.

    All of this and much much more in the Gospel narrative “locates” Jesus as real Jew in the in the Land of Israel during the first century C.E., as it is described by Josephus. It is not the kind of narrative that someone who wanted to create a fictitious god would be likely to make up. Least of all would antisemites have invented a Jew who lived a very plausible Jewish life and practised Judaism as a god to be worshipped. And at least three of the gospel authors do express antisemitic sentiments. The gospel accounts of Jesus’s lifestyle, religious beliefs and ethnic origins read like admissions by antisemites to facts they could not readily deny or hide, even though it went against their antisemitic grain to report them. When the authors of a narrative report alleged facts about their hero that must have been distasteful to them and their readers, since it showed him to be the kind of person they disliked (i.e. a practising and believing Jew), then the only explanation is that these facts about their hero are so well-known that they would lose all credibility if they denied them. All this points to a real human being who was an odd choice for the early Christians to deify.

  34. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    Some of the posts, hold essential documented information , comparatively unmined which are more provokative and historical that in the essay itself., Like Yamit’s, for example of just one. He brought in Acharia S. who was VERY much the sunderer of previously accepted “facts”. Very acute, as I recall, poor girl.

    Just my opinion.

  35. @Ted Belman: This is a great essay. I have often posted links to it but it is too long to copy to an FB Post. Signing up for Israpundit is a headache that many people won’t bother to do who should read this, especially Christian missionaries who post memes, articles and comments on Jewish sites that claim that the New Testament is the scientifically verifiable unimpeachable uncontroversial, universally accepted historical account. Can this be republished as an article to a website to which people can just click on the link and go?

  36. Although most of the history is on point in this article and very well written. I have to disagree with Paul doing away with the law or the instructions. For even Peter warned how the unlearned would pervert his writings for lack of understanding…2Pe 3:15  And think of the long-suffering of our Lord as salvation (as our beloved brother Paul also has written to you according to the wisdom given to him 
    2Pe 3:16  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable pervert, as also they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction). 
    2Pe 3:17  Therefore, beloved, knowing beforehand, beware lest being led away with the error of the lawless, you fall from your own steadfastness. .The ant/Christ is described as the lawless one. Without the law/Torah of the Father. Jesus/Yehshau was the law in the flesh. Do away with the law then we do away with the one who came as that in the flesh, without sin. It was the papacy that brought these heresies into modern traditional Christian teachings as a form to control the people and tickle their ears…..2Pe 3:3  First, knowing this, that there will come in the last days scoffers walking accoding to their own lusts , but Jesus ownn brother said it bestr in chapter 2 of his book…Faith Without Works Is Dead
    Jas 2:14  My brothers, what profit is it if a man says he has faith and does not have works? Can faith save him? 
    Jas 2:15  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 
    Jas 2:16  and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it? 
    Jas 2:17  Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself. 
    Jas 2:18  But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works. 
    Jas 2:19  You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble. 
    Jas 2:20  But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 
    Jas 2:21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 
    Jas 2:22  Do you see how faith worked with his works, and from the works faith was made complete? 
    Jas 2:23  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.” 
    Jas 2:24  You see then how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 
    Jas 2:25  And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way? 
    Jas 2:26  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

  37. Forgive me Ted, but I was quite ill back when you wrote this–and just saw this great piece of yours now.

    I too studied much about this subject during my own doctoral studies in M.E. Affairs–past and present.

    While there are other relevant comments I could make, I’ll just focus on the distinction between the Jewish and Christian concepts of the special Hebrew human tool of G_d, the Meshiach, for now.

    Many Hebrew prophecies spoke of a new age of peace, righteousness, and a return to living what was considered a Godly life. This included the whole world, not only Jews, except requirements for non-Jews were easier as they only had to follow the 7 Noahide Laws.

    The Hebrew Meshiach was to be foremost a Liberator–first of Jews–setting the stage for all the wonders of the new Messianic Age to come in the former’s wake. Peace–“the lion shall lie down with the lamb, men shall beat their swords into plowshares,” etc. and so forth would finally arrive to a troubled Earth.

    So…..Peace, a righteous new “world to come,” and LIBERATION by a G_d-chosen human liberator king was the Jewish expectation for the Meshiach.

    Rome knew this very well–that’s why it sought out and killed any and all such leaders among the Jews. And that’s why the New Testament account of Jesus ordering his folks to find a white ass to ride into Jerusalem upon on Passover–the Holiday of LIBERATION–was a death sentence for Jesus. All knew the message this would send. The Bible said that the Meshiach would enter Jerusalem on a white ass.

    The reason Christians can to this day see constant wars, Hatred, unrighteousness, and oppression on Earth and still claim Yehoshua/Jesus as Messiah/ Christ is that they have a totally different expectation of what THEIR changed version of the original Hebrew Meshiach is all about.

    For the very Hellenized Paul and the Gospel of John, Jesus was the Greek Logos.
    In a very flawed world, such later Greek thinkers saw man incapable of reaching G_d by himself. This was due to Original Sin, etc. A Heavenly intermediary was thus needed–without which humans were doomed.

    The Christ for Christians thus was the ticket to get through the Pearly Gates–without which, as added later, the fires of Hell awaited.

    This is why at Christmas time, Christians can adopt the Jews’s sayings for the Hebrew Meshiach–“Peace on Earth, Good will towards Men”–i.e., what SHOULD be in a post-Messianic Age, but obviously ISN”T–for honoring the birth of their man god…which Jesus himself would have not agreed with.

    This pagan influence was finalized as a creation of the Council of Nicaea by Rome after the conversion of Constantine centuries later–who/which conducted “wars of the heresies” to destroy all rival accounts of Jesus’s life, including seeing him as a totally human leader, not another version of Greek and other demigods. Paul preached to such Gentiles…

    The Christ’s main job is to save souls and prevent eternal damnation…not to worry about what life for humans on Earth is like. Read two paragraphs above here again…

    The human Hebrew Meshiah is concerned about a better world for mankind in the here and now on Planet Earth–not in a “heavenly Jerusalem” as the Church would say.

    After Nicaea in the 4th century C. E., Christians realized they had a problem here if they were to base any claims for their Christ on the Hebrew Bible’s prophecies about peace, righteousness, and so forth. SO…………

    Christianity invented the “Parousia”–the Second Coming–for some distant future, when Jesus would return to do what wasn’t done the first time around.

    Christians are entitled to believe whatever they want…But so are Jews, who gave the world the very concept of the Messiah in the first place.

    Instead, Jews became the “unbelievers” (and worse) in the Church’s eyes…and the road to Auschwitz was paved with many Church teachings and actions over the millennia.

  38. Very notable scholarship, but the conclusions drawn, and the excessive editorial comment diminish the work. Much here to think about, however.

  39. @ Michael S:

    You may know I was born and grew up in Ireland and a few Irish-isms brushed off on me. “me lad” is purely a cordial way of addressing a friend.

    So don’t get upset about it. You seem to be breaking up a bit. Calm down.

  40. @ Michael S:

    You may know \i was born and grew up in \ireland and a few Irish-isms brushed off on me. “me lad” is purely a cordial way of addressing a friend.

    So don’t get upset about it. You seem to be breaking up a bit. Calm down.