Christianity, The Last Great
Creation of the Pagan World
(Roy, Utah: self-published, 1994)
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The great battle of 70 C.E. between the Jews and the Romans at Jerusalem, marked the last time in Jewish history that gentile nations attempted to destroy the pious Jews and their belief in the God of the Old Testament. Earlier the Babylonians and the Assyrians had conquered Judea and replaced its citizens with its own people in an attempt to do away with the Jews and their God.
Later, in ca. 170 B.C.E., Antiochus Epiphanes the Macedonian general tried unsuccessfully to Hellenize the Jews at Jerusalem. Now, in 70 C.E., the Romans, who had also failed to dominate the Jews, would completly destroy the city of Jerusalem and scatter its remaining inhabitants throughout the gentile world.
After the great war the fleeing Jews flocked to the Roman centers; Antioch, Ephesus, Alexandra, Corinth, and Rome in increasing numbers. No doubt Roman officials could see that if the influx of Jews into Roman cities continued, the same age-old conflicts with the Jews and their religion would eventually present themselves in the entire Roman domain.
The obvious solution, for Roman officials, would be to displace, if possible, the religion of the Jews and at the same time create a "new" religion which both the Jews and the Romans could accept. The new religion would be based primarily on the Messanic hope of the Jews, while retaining Roman mythology.
For centuries the Greeks and the Romans made Gods of their living rulers. The "new" religion, to satisfy the Romans, would present a new "living God." And to satisfy the Jews a "Messiah God" based on prophecies of this God in the Old Testament. The writers of the "New" Testament would use these lines from the prophets:
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Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bare a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.... for unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given... and his name shall be called Wonderfull, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father the prince of peace. (Isaiah 7:14, 9:29)
With the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Saviour on their desk, the Roman writers proceeded to make the prophecies come to pass in a "New Testament" which the Jews could accept. A new pseudonymous
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history, as was generally written in those days * would be written which would satisfy both the Jews and the Gentiles. In addition to Old Testament prophecies, the writers would lavishly insert wise savings from the same source, such as: "for he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head" (Isa. 59:17, Eph. 6:14-17). "For the wisdom of itheir wise men shall perish and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." (Isa. 29:14, 1st Cor. 1:19).
The pastoral letters of the New Testament are said to be, by most Biblical scholars, the earliest written of the New Testament documents, mainly because they make no reference to, or use any material from, the synoptic gospels. It is logical to assume then, that the Epistle to the Romans may have been the earliest written of the pastorals, as it was addressed to the (supposed) new Jewish-Christian church at Rome.
The real purpose of the letter may not have been to lend aid to the fledgling church at Rome, but to establish a fictitious remote date for the formation of the church, and, by interpolating from Old Testament literature as many as two hundred sayings, convince the pious Jews that the "new" gospel was the same as the old.
* The pseudepigrapha has traditionally included pseudonymous and anonymous Jewish writings between ca. 200 B.C.E. and 200 C.E. They usually purport have been written by illustrious figures from Jewish history who lived long before they were actually composed. (Tanner, Rogers, and McMurrin, Toward Understanding the New Testament, 1990, footnote p.59)
This period gave rise to "a quite unique literature, in which were manufactured facts for the past and for the future, and did not submit to the usual literary rules and forms, but came forward with the loftiest pretensions..." particular sayings and arguments of assumed "apostolic teachers" were brought forward as being of great authority. (G.R.S. Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, 1960, p. 125)
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A second purpose, in writing the epistle to the Romans, was to create passages which would make it more agreeable for the Jews to accept the gentile Romans into the new religion. Passages such as: "But glory, honour, peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jews first, and also to the gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God." "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the gentiles?"
In the first verse of the epistle the writer is careful not to offend the Jews. He begins by telling his readers that his gospel is "The gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures."
The writer is quick to mention that Jesus "was made of the seed of David according to the flesh... and declared to be the Son of God... by the resurrection of the dead." Apparently the writer knew nothing at this early date of the paternity of Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
A second early source may have also been used by the writers of the "New" Testament. Flavius Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, published his Antiquities of the Jews in C.E. 94. Several historical Jesus stories may have been taken from his writings and adapted to the story of the obscure teacher whom the New Testament writers called "Jesus of Nazereth." William Wiston has this to say about Josephus:
"Josephus, or more accurately Joseph ben Matthias, was born in the year Gaius acceded to the throne of the Roman Empire A.D. 37, and died sometime after A.D. 100. He was born of a priestly family and through his Hasmonean mother he could boast of royal blood... In brief we can divide his life into two parts... the first half could be described as the life of Joseph ben Matthias Jewish priest, general and prisoner; the second half... as the life of Flavius Josephus the Roman citizen and author....
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Josephus' first literary work was the Wars of the Jews, published in A.D. 78.... His Antiquities of the Jews was published about fifteen years later (A.D. 93 or 94) His Life was written... shortly after the year A.D. 100, principally as an apology for his own life." (William Wiston, Josephus' Complete Works, 1978 ed., forward by W.S. Lasor, pp. vii-ix).
THE MANY FACES OF JESUSSince it is evident that there may have been considerable borrowings, from the writings of Josephus, by the New Testament writer or writers, it seems logical to look for the historical Jesus among those writings. Josephus tells of over a dozen high priests whose names were "Jesus." The name Jesus, in Hebrew, means "Son of Salvation." Technically speaking, any one of the Jesus'mentioned by Josephus could be called "The Anointed One" (which means christ) or "Saviour." The appellation "Saviour" was given by Josephus to several persons: King Artaxerxes called Mordecai, "My benefactor and saviour" (Antq. XI,VI,12. Ptolemy Epiphanes, king of Egypt, was called "My saviour" (Antq. XII,I,1) Antiochus Epiphanes (God manifest) was called "my saviour" (Antq. XII,V,5). King Herod was called "saviour" at Antq. XIV,XV,8, and Caesar was called "Common saviour of all" at Antq. XVI,IV,3)
The twelve year old JesusJosephus tells a remarkable story of the child "Josiah" (Hebrew for Jesus) which is much like the childhood story of the New Testament Jesus:
Josiah... was of a most excellent disposition, and naturally virtuous... when he was twelve years old, he gave demonstrations of his religious and righteous behavior; for he brought the people to a sober way of living... he prudently corrected ... what they did wrong, like a very elderly man...
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sacrifices and burnt offerings upon the alter. He ... called for Eliakim, the high priest, and for the scribe... and sent them Huldah the prophetess... and bade them go to her and say that he desired that she would appease God...
The writer of Luke has this to say about the twelve year old Jesus:
And Joseph went up... unto the city of David. .. because he was of the house and linage of David...
The parallels between the ca. 593 B.C.E. childhood story of Josiah/Jesus, in Josephus' writings and the childhood story of the Jesus of the New Testament are striking. Both stories tell that the child was "twelve" years old, both say he was known for his "wisdom' In both, the, accustomed sacrifices were performed, both accounts tell of a prophetess who prays to God, (presumedly
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on behalf of the child), and both accounts mention the "feast of the passover." The Josephus account tells that Josiah/Jesus acted in compliance with the advice and instruction of the Elders. The Lucan account has Jesus "sitting in the midst the doctors,both hearing them and asking them questions. Both accounts tell that the child was of the house of David."
The idea of Jesus of Nazereth being of the "House of David," may have been taken from the Josiah story in Josephus, which may account for the fact that New Testament writers could not establish a genuine genealogy for their Jesus (see below).
The Jason JesusThe more prominent of the Jesus stories in the writings of Josephus is that of the Jesus who changed his name to the Greek "Jason." Josephus gives this interesting account:
But when he (the president of Syria) was dead his brother Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, (God Manifest) took the kingdom.... about this time, upon the death of Onias the high priest (of the temple at Jerusalem) they gave the high priesthood to Jesus his brother... but this Jesus... was deprived of the priesthood (after three years time) by the king, who was angry with him, and gave it to his younger brother who was Onias... this Jesus changed his name to Jason; but Onias was called Menelaus.
The scene was Palestine ca. 175 B.C.E. The Selucid empire, which included the Holy Land, with its capital at Antioch Syria, was ruled by king Antiochus Epiphanes IV whom the Greeks called "The God." The Selucid empire, for the most part, had been "Hellenized by its Macedonian rulers, the exception being
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the city of Jerusalem with its pius Jews whom Antiochus sought to bring over to the Greek way of life.
The high priests of the Jerusalem temple reigned over their peoples only with the permission of king Antiochus who extracted taxes from the temple treasuries. Jesus, called Jason, a direct descendant of king David, had usurped the high priest office from his brother Onias, by offering king Antiochus more in tax revenue.
Immediately upon taking office, Jesus/Jason the high priest, no doubt at the urging of (his God) Antiochus, attempted to bring his felldw Jews over to the more relaxed and enjoyable Greek way of life.
By overthrowing the overbearing laws of Moses, which included circumcision, sabbath day restrictions and animal sacrifice to their God Jehovah, Jesus/Jason hoped to bring the backward Jews of Jerusalem into the Hellenistic world.
Jesus/Jason's fellow priests, eager for freedom from their rigorous sacrificial ceremonies neglected their work, made light of their temple duties and engaged in the entertainment of the new-built Greek gymnasium.
Jason/Jesus the MessiahThe New Testament book of "Saint John," tells that the Messias was "The Christ" of New Testament times. (John 1:41, 4:25) But we must turn to the book of Daniel, in the Old Testament, for the correct dating of the "Messiah." The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel and said:
O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.... Know therefore and, understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild: Jerusalem (by Cyrus ca. 593 B.C.E.), unto Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks (of years; See Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6) ...And after three score and two weeks (434 yrs.) shall Messiah be cut off... and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the
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sanctuary.... and he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and the spreading of abominations he shall make it desolate... (Daniel 9:22-27)
It seems incredible that the angel Gabriel would say that the people of the Messiah would be responsible for the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple, and the bringing about of the "Abomination of desolation." This would be unbecoming of the New Testament Jesus or his people. But these events fit the historical Jesus/Jason perfectly.
Dating the MessiahTo date the Messiah of the book of Daniel we need only subtract the "Three score and two weeks," (434 yrs.) when the Messiah was to be cut off, from the ca. 593 B.C.E. date when Cyrus was commanded by God to rebuild the Jerusalem temple. We find that the Messiah of Daniel's vision would live ca. 159 B.C.E., the very time of the historical Jesus/Jason.
Josephus confirms this date when he tells that "This (abomination of) desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel which was given four hundred and eight years before." (Antq. XII, VII,6) When the "Abomination of Desolation," (which had already taken place in 159), is spoken of by Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14, as if it were coming in their day, they are placing the events of Jesus/ Jason's life in the time period of Jesus of Nazereth which implies that the two Jesus' were the same person. Actually, New testament writers used the Josephus story of Jesus/Jason when they wrote of their Jesus of Nazereth.
Daniel tells that he "saw in the night visions and beheld, one like the Son of Man come with the clouds of heaven..." (Daniel 7:13). It is clear that Daniel is still referring to the ca. 159 B.C.E. Messiah. The New Testament writer again erroneously applies the time period of the Son of Man, to his own time for he writes: ...and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven... this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled Matt. 24:30,34).
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The writers of the Qumran "Zodokite Document" apparently also knew the story of the Messiah Jesus/ Jason:
After 390 years of captivity God restored his people; twenty years later he raised up a teacher of righteousness, and that 40 years after the death of the teacher of righteousness the men of war' will be consumed in a great battle (D.S. Russel, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, p. 201).
According to Wells: "Jewish traditions on 'which the Talmud drew, persistently (date Jesus) somewhere in... the second century B.C. (G.A. Wells, The Historical Evidence For Jesus, p.40)
The ca. 159 B.C. date for the reign of the Messiah is validated again in the interpretation of the dream of king Nebuchadnezzar; Daniel tells of four successive kingdoms which will rule on earth. At the end of the fourth kingdom "shall the God of heaven. setup a kingdom (with the Messiah as king) which shall never be destroyed... and it shall stand forever," (Daniel 2:44).
The first of the four kingdoms was that of king Nebuchadnezzar, which was represented by a head of gold on a great image. The second kingdom was that of king Darius the Mede, represented by arms of silver. The third kingdom was that of king Cyrus of Persia, represented by a belly and thighs of brass. The forth kingdom was that of Alexander, the Macadonian, represented by legs of iron, and feet part of iron and part of clay. (The Interpreters Bible, pp.387-389).
Alexanders kingdom continued, after his death, under the leadership of Selucid, one of his generals, whose
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descendants continued to rule until Antiochus IV was defeated by Judas Maccabees, which ended the rule of Daniel's fourth kingdom. It was during the reign of the forth ruler (ca. 159 B.C.E., that the "God of Heaven" would set up a kingdom with the Messiah as king.
Josephus understood the writings of the book of Daniel and what was meant by the "rule of the four kings", for he writes:
...there should arise a certain king that should overcome our nation and their laws and should take away our political government and should spoil the temple, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for three years time. And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel's vision... (Antq. X,XI,7)
From the above citations , we can only conclude that the true date for the coming of the Messiah was ca. 159 B.C.E. Even though traditional Christians of today believe Jesus of Nazereth was the promised Messiah of Daniel, the historical evidence shows that the "Jason" Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Jason/Jesus reigned as high priest of, the Jerusalem temple for three years (the same time as the ministry of Jesus of Nazereth) but his more pious brethren refused to submit to the Hellenization process, fearing that their God would punish them. This caused a schism to develop among the Jews. Some were eager for change while others were afraid to depart from the religious practises of their forefathers. Jesus/Jason made suspicious enemies as well as devout followers. After a troublesome three year reign, Jesus was deposed by his wicked brother Menalaus who had offered king Antiochus even more in tax revenue.
Thus, Jesus/Jason. who had had the full support of his God Antiochus, and who had usurped his brothers office, saw his own usurped by another and was forced to flee to the Amanites (modern Amman Jordan) where he officiated, for a time, in a schismatic temple.
In the meantime a false report came to the exiled
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Jesus that king Antiochus had been killed in Egypt.
Seizing what he thought to be an opportunity to regain his former position as high priest of the Jerusalem temple, Jesus raised an army from among his followers, crossed the Jordan and attempted a coup.
But Jesus' enemies repulsed the attack and forced him to flee back across the Jordan to his sanctuary in Arabia. A grave situation faced Jesus in the Amanitis. Aretas, the Arabian king, out of respect to king Antiochus, arrested Jesus as a fugitive and brought him to trial. Jesus was eventually released, or escaped, and fled to Egypt where he (as far as can be determined), lived out the, remainder of his life as a political fugitive.
This abridged account of Jesus, (who changed his name to Jason), is found in 1st and 2nd Maccabees and told in part by Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, XII,V,1)
If this Jesus was one of the models for the New Testament Jesus, it would explain several controversial statements said to have been made by the Nazerene. It seems inconsistent to have the peace loving; New Testament Jesus say:
Think not that I have come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law, and a man's foes shall be of his own household. (Matt. 10:34-36)
But the statement would fit very well the Jesus who was attempting a coup in Jerusalem to regain his former standing as high priest of the Jerusalem temple. It seems strange that the obscure Nazerene would have the authority to enter into the temple and "cast out them that sold and bought in the temple and overthrow the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those that sold doves..." (Mark 11:15). But he might do so if he were the new high priest of the temple, and was in the process of changing the old
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Jewish temple rites into the new Greek form of temple worship. Jesus/Jason could not "put new wine in old bottles, nor a piece of new garment upon an old."
Mark tells that: "They were astonished at his doctrine for he taught them as one having authority." The pious Jews were certainly astonished when Jesus/ Jason began teaching them Greek philosophy. The New Testament Jesus said: "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." Jesus/Jason did not attempt the Hellenization of the Jews on his own authority, but under the direction of Antiochus Epiphanes, his God.
When the writer of Acts has the witnesses say to Steven: "This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law; for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazereth shall... change the customs which Moses delivered us," they are describing perfectly the mission of the Jesus of ca. 159 B.C. And when the synoptic writers told that the "Kingdom of God would come with power," they were not telling of the meek teacher from Nazereth, but of the "Jason" Jesus who had become the new high priest of the Jerusalem temple, with religious, as well as secular power over the Jews of Jerusalem.
When the "Jason" Jesus, the Messiah of the book of Daniel, fled from Jerusalem after being deposed by his brother Menalaus, he no doubt visualized the day when he would return to Jerusalem to retake his former position as high priest of the Jerusalem temple.
Jesus/Jason may well have said:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto thee; How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate. (The Abomination of Desolation):and verily I say say unto you, ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say
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'blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' (That is, until they would hail Him as the Messiah) (Luke 13:34, 35).
Jesus' devout followers, no doubt, were saddened by his departure from Jerusalem a second time, but expected his imminant "second comming," which Christians are still awaiting to this day. But alas, Jesus had fled to Egypt never to return.
GENEOLOGY OF JESUSThe Old Testament prophet Samuel tells of the future posterity of King David:
And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came to Nathan saying, 'go and tell my servant David... I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom... forever.' (2nd Samuel 7:4,5,12)
Luke, applying these verses to Christ tells that David:
being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that out of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne." (Acts 2:30)
New Testament writers seem to be suspiciously determined to inform their readers of Jesus' decent from King David. (See Matt, 9:27, 12:23, 21:9, Mark 10:48, Luke 2:4, John 7:42, 2nd Tim. 2:8, and Rev. 22:16)
Matthew tells, that there were fourteen generations "from David until the carrying away into Babylon.... and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations" (Matt. 1:17). Matthew's list is almost completely different from the seventeen generation list given by Luke (Luke 3:23)
Matthew's list from David to the captivity follows closely the list in 1st Chronicles 3:10, except four of the names, Joash, Amaziah, Azeriah, and Jehoiakim, were left out of the Matthew list apparently to make the number come out to "fourteen." This omission on the part of Matthew makes his list artificial.
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Matthew's second list of names, from the captivity to Christ, cannot be varified from Old Testament name lists and also appears to be artificial. The writer of Mark omitted any reference to the genealogy of Jesus.
Josephus also gives the genealogy of the priesthood line from David to the captivity, listing twenty-three names, (close to Lukes twenty-one) and fourteen names, (The same number required by Matthew) from the captivity to the Jason/Jesus.
Genealogy from David to the captivity
*Names left out of Matthew genealogy.
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Genealogy from the Captivity to Jesus
With the Ancient Greeks, and many other people; 'At the end of every genealogy stood a Deity.' (Will Durant, Mansions of Philosophy, p.530)
* This genealogy would be useless if at the time of its compilation Jesus had not been regarded as the natural son of Joseph.
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"This day has given the earth an entirely new aspect. The world would have gone to destruction had there not streamed forth from him, who is now born a common blessing.
The author of Acts also tells of the Emperor Augustus and the birth of a God:
And it came to pass in those days, there went up a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed... And (Mary) brought forth her first-born son... And the angel of the Lord said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great
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joy, which shall be to all people.
If the date for the commencement of the new Julian calender was ca. 9 B.C.E., the inscription telling of the birth of God could only have been dedicated to the birth of the'Roman god Julius Caesar, not Christ.
According to Durant:
To the Greeks there was no unbridgable gap between a man and a God; a great man could become a God, or a God could become a man; the Gods mated with human beings, and were like men in almost everything eccept they did not die. (Will Durant, Mansions of Philosophy, p. 530)
THE KING HEROD STORYAccording to Matthew, king Herod was "troubled" when the wise men intormed him of the birth of "the king of the Jews." Josephus tells us the reason he was troubled:
Herod offered (Markus Antonius) money to make him tetrarch, and chiefly because of his hatred to Antigonus... but Antigonus... said, that they would not do justly if they gave the kingdom to Herod, who was no more than a private man, and an Idumean, i.e. a half Jew, whereas they ought to bestow it on one of the royal family, as their custom was; for, that in case they at present bear an ill-will to him, and had resolved to deprive him of the kingdom... yet there were many others of his family that might by their law take it... and being of the sacerdotal family it would be an unworthy thing to put them by. (Antq. XIV, XIV,4, XIV, XV, 2 )
Josephus goes on to say:
Strabo (the historian) attests to what I have said, when he thus speaks; 'Antony ordered Antigonus the Jew, to be brought to Antioch, and there to be
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beheaded... as supposing he could in no other way bend the minds of the Jews so as to receive Herod, whom he had made king in his stead; for by no torments could they be forced to call him king, so great a fondness they had for their former king; so he thought that this dishonorable death would diminish the value they had for Antigonus' memory, and at the same time would diminish the hatred they bear to Herod.' Thus for Strabo. (Antq. XV,I,2)
From these statements, of Josephus, it is plain to see that from the beginning there were serious reservations, on the part of Herod's own family, as to whether Herod should be made "King of the Jews."
Herod took Jerusalem by force and was made king and governor, without having just claim to the kingdom. To further secure his government, Herod deposed the royal high priest Hycranus and repladed him with Ananelus "an obscure priest out of Babylon." This action, on the part of Herod, "occasioned the sedition of his own family." Alexandra, the daughter of Hycranus, could not bear this indignity, believing that her own son, the child God Aristobulus, the rightful heir, should be made "King of the Jews."
THE THREE WISE MENIt is only in the Gospel According to Matthew that we find any mention of "wise men" in the New Testament. These wise men were said, by the writer, to have seen a "star in the East" which was a sign to them that the "King of the Jews" had been born. The appellation, "three wise men" was apparently a later tradition added to the story. There is also no historical basis for them being called Casper, Balthasar or Melchior, or that they were called "Magi" (Magicians). Eusebius, ca.324 A.D., the Christian historian, may have been the first to give the wise men this title.
If the source for the "Wise Men" story in the "New Testament" is to be found, in the 605 page works of
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Josephus, it is likely to be found in the same context which it is found in the New Testament. In the Gospel According to Matthew, the wise men story is found in connection with the approaching death of king Herod and his slaying of the infants.
Josephus tells of "the wise men" on two occasions, (Antq. XVII,VI,2,3), and both times, as in the New Testament, in connection with his story of the approaching.death of king Herod, and Herods slaying of "one of every family."
The names of the "wise men" in Josephus were not the traditional names, but "Judas and Matthias," "two of the most eloquent men among the Jews and most celebrated interpreters of the Jewish laws... all that were studies;... frequented their lectures every day." Very "wise men" indeed!
In the Josephus account, Matthias, the high priest, "had a dream." In, Matthew's account the wise men were "warned in a dream." The wise men in Josephus did not see a star in the East but,"That very night there was an eclipse of the moon."
This eclipse of the moon, which is the only eclipse mentioned by Josephus, is of the greatest consequence for the, determination of the time for the death of Herod... and for the birth and the entire chronology of Jesus Christ. It happened March 13th in the year of the Julian period 4710 and the forth year before the Christian era. (Wiston, footnote p.365)
If the eclipse in the Josephus story happened in 4 B.C., at the time of Christs birth, it was likely the origin of the new star story told by Matthew.
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPTAlexandra had two children by Alexander:
The son, was one of the greatest comeliness and was called Aristobulus: and the daughter, Mariamne (Greek for Mary) was married to Herod and eminant
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for her beauty also... these children seemed not derived from men, but from some God or other XV,II,5,6)
The writer of Matthew tells a different version of the story, naming Jesus as the "Child God" instead of Aristobulus. He also replaces Cleopatra with an angel:
When 'Herod the king heard these things he was troubled... and when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.... and the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, arise, and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt... for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. And when he arose he took the young child and his mother by night into Egypt; and was there till the death of Herod. (Matt. 2:3, 4, 13-15).
When Josephus tells that Aristobulus "seemed not derived from men, but from some God or other" he is in effect saying that Aristobulus was the Son of God. The writer of Matthew changed Aristobulus the child God to "Christ the Son of God."
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Nowhere in Jewish history, or in the Jewish Talmud, or in Mark, Luke or John, do we find the story of Herod's slaying the infants. The story is found only in the Gospel According to Matthew:
Then Herod was exceedingly wroth and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and all the coasts thereof, from two years old and younger...but when Herod was dead... Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod. (Matt. 2:16, 19,22)
If the slayings realy happened, surely other historians would have recorded the tragic event. It is to Josephus' works that we must turn for the origin of the story. When Herod was near his death:
...he'spake thus to them: I will die in a little time, so great are my pains... but what troubles me is this, that I shall die without being lamented and without such mourning as men usually expect at a kings death. (so Herod) took care when he was departing out of this life, that the whole nation should be put into mourning, and indeed made desolate of their dearest kindred, when he gave order that one out of every family should be slain... Now Herod altered his testament and granted his kingdom to Archelaus. (Antq. XVII,VI,5,6)
The story in Josephus, of the slaying of "one in every family," at Herod's command, after his death in 4 B.C.E., corresponds in time to the story in Matthew that Herod slew all the children at Christ's birth in ca. 4 B.C E. It is highly unlikely that there would have been two different mass slayings by Herod in 4 B.C.E. This seems to confirm that both accounts were telling of the same event. It also seems logical that Josephus' historical account of the slayings would be the correct account.
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Josephus writes that Herod feared that he might be deprived of the kingdom by the child God Aristobulus the rightful heir, whom we have said was "not derived from men but from some God or other," So he:
...fully proposed to himself to put this man out of the way.... And now upon the feast of the tabernacles.... (Herod) drew (The seventeen year old) into a lonely place while such of Herods acquaintance as he had appointed to do it, dipped him as he was swimming, and plunged him under water, in the dark of the evening... till he was entirely suffocated, and thus was Aristobulus murdered....
An early second century Gnostic legend, of Clement of Alexandria, also tells of the death of the seventeen year old God:
Epiphanes, (God manifest) was the son of Carpocrates and Alexandra, A lady of Cephallenia He died at the early age of seventeen and was worshipped as a God with the most elaborate and lascivious rites by the Cephallenians, in a great temple of same, on the day of the new moon. (G.R.S. Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, p.234)
The New Testament story of the death of Christ is told by the author of Mark:
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After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the Scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said no, not on the feast day, lest there should be an uproar of the people... (so they crucified him and the centurion said:) Truly this man was the Son of God.... there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was... Mary Magdalene, and Salome. And Joseph laid him in a sepulchre... and Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. (Mark 14:1,2, 15:39-46, 16:1)
While the method of death, of the two Gods, was different, still there are remarkable similarities in the two accounts. In both stories there was a conspiracy to kill the son of God. The killing took place, in both stories, immediately after the feast day; Mark says: "Not on the feast day lest there should be an uproar," and Josephus tells that Herod "let those feast days pass over" before he ordered the killing. In both stories "spices" were brought to the "sepulchre" to anoint the body of the dead God, soldiers are mentioned and in both, it was only women who come to the tomb to mourn. In Josephus the names of the women who came to mourn are not given. But it is logical that the dead God's relatives; Mariamne. (Mary) his sister, and Salome, Mariamne's sister-in-law (The only women mentioned in the story) would be those who visited the Sepulchre. In Mark it was the two Marys and an unidentified "Salome" who came to mourn. And finally, it was the same God, that was buried in the sepulchre, in both stories, that, as infants were taken into Egypt by their mothers to escape the wrath of Herod.
Jesus of Nazereth?Matthew informs us that Joseph, Mary and the new born child "came and. dwelt in a city called Nazereth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets: 'He shall be called a Nazerene' (Matt. 2:23).
The scripture Matthew is refering to is found in Judges, 12:5-24,
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For lo, thou shalt conceive, and bare a son, and no razor shall come upon his head: for the child shall be a Nazerite unto God from the womb... to the day of his death.
The Nazerites were an Old Testament sect that had their origin in the writings of Moses, (Num. ch. 6) and continued till the time of king Herod Agrippa. They were forbidden to drink wine and to cut their hair. They dedicated their entire lives in service to their God.
There is no such place as Nazereth in the Old Testament or in Josephus' works, or on early maps of the Holy Land. The name was apparently a later Christian invention.
JOHN THE BAPTISTJosephus records the story of Banus:
...he was informed that one, whose name was Banus lived in the desert, and used no other clothing than grew on trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both day and night, in order to preserve his chastity, I imitated him in those things, and continued with him three years. (Life sec. 2)
The author of Mark tells a similar story:
John did baptise in the wilderness and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.... And John was clothed in camels hair, and with a girdle of skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazereth of Galilee and was baptised of John in Jordon. (Mark 1:4-9)
There are many subtle similarities in the two accounts. Both Banus and John lived in the wilderness or desert, both accounts tell that the clothing which was worn... and the food that was eaten; was that which the desert provided, and both tell of a
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baptism or ritual washing connected with the remission of sins or the preservation of one's chastity.
When Josephus tells us that he "imitated (Banus) in those things", he is saying that he also participated in the ritual washings. Josephus then, followed Banus into the washings, just as Jesus followed John the baptist into the waters of baptism. Josephus "continued with Banus three years" after his ritual washings, and Jesus' ministry lasted for three years after his baptism at the hands of John.
JOHN THE BAPTIST CONT.Josephus gives the story of the "historical" John the Baptist:
Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for he slew him who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue... and come to baptism not in order to the putting away some sins only, but for the purification of the body... Now when many 'otters came to crowd about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words. Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause.... Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, to Macherus... and was there put to death. (Antq., XVIII,V,2)
The writer of Mark gives a somewhat different version of the story:
And king Herod heard of him (Jesus) for his name was spread abroad, and he said, that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him... for Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John and bound him in prison for Herodius' sake, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. For John had said to Herod, it is not lawful for thee to have thy brothers wife.
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Therefore Herodius had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not; For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy... and heard him gladly.... and when the daughter of the said Herodius came in and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said to the damsel, ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee .... and she came in straightway with haste unto the king and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist... and immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head be brought and he went and beheaded him in prison... (Mark, 6:14-28)
It is interesting that neither Josephus nor Luke tell anything of the beheading of the Baptist or of the daughter of Herodius in their accounts, it is also noted that Josephus knew a great deal about John the Baptist but scarcely anything of the Christ.
The "woeful" Jesus
Therefore Her But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus... who, for four years before, the war began (ca. 62 C.E.)... came to the feast (and) began on a sudden to cry aloud... A voice against Jerusalem and the holy house... A voice against this whole people! This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night... whereupon our rulers supposing, as the case proved to be that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator -- where he was whipped till his bones lay bare; yet did he not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem."
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every day uttered "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!"..."Woe, woe to the city again and to the people, and to the holy house!" And just as he had added to the last, "Woe, woe to myself also!" there came a stone... and smote him and killed him immediately and he gave up the ghost. (Wars VI,V,3)
The writer of Matthew has Jesus of Nazereth also go to the temple and chastise the Scribes and Pharisees in the same lamentable chant:
But woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men... Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites! for ye devour widows houses... Woe unto you... for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte... Woe unto you, ye blind guides... woe unto you... Hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin and have omitted the weightier matters of the law...Woe unto you... for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess, Woe unto you... for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead mens bones... ye serpents ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell.... O Jerusalem, Jerusalem thou who killest the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto thee... (Matt. 23:13-37)
Once again it is seen that numerous concepts in the writings of Josephus are found in the New Testament. In both of the above stories, it was a Jesus who, in the temple, pronounced "Woe" against Jerusalem and its people. In Josephus, Jesus was whipped (scourged) by the Roman rulers. In Matthew, Jesus prophecies that some of the prophets "ye shall scourge in your Synagogues." When the Josephus "Jesus" was asked, by the Roman ruler who he was? and whence he came?, and why he uttered such words? "he made no reply to what was said." At Matthew 27:12-14, the New Testament Jesus, standing before the Governer and being accused, "Answered nothing." When Pilate questioned Jesus, "He answered him never
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a word." In Josephus, the Roman ruler "Took him (Jesus) to be a mad man, and dismissed him." In Matthew, "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing he... washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of this just person: see ye to it." In Josephus, his prophet Jesus was smote with a "stone" which killed him immediately. And the writer of Matthew has Jesus of Nazereth say: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem thou that killeth the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee."
Jesus of GalileeAnother prominant Jesus story in the writings of Josephus is found in his "Life" sec. 39,54. There was "A certain Galilean that then sojourned at Jerusalem whose name was Jesus." Jesus, the son of Gamala, was an "high priest" and "ruler" in Jerusalem.
Jesus lived in a house "which indeed was a castle, and in no way unlike a citadel" ...Jesus and his fellow high priest, Ananus, were part of a seditious faction of high priests who were attempting to depose Josephus, who had been appointed governor of Galilee, and was called by the people of Galilee "their benefactor and saviour" (sec. 50).
In a speech. to the Galileans Jesus berated Josephus "but the multitude were not pleased with what was said, and would certainly have gone into a tumult, unless the sixth hour, which was now come, had not dissolved the assembly..."
The people of Galilee attempted to kill Josephus but he escaped by ship, (as did Jesus of Nazereth) across the Sea of Galilee.
Josephus tells more about this "Jesus of Galilee," in his previously written "Wars." The scene is now Jerusalem, in the last days of the wars with the Romans. The Zealots were a seditious band of robbers who had taken possession of the Sanctuary which
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"was now become a refuge, and a shop of tyrany" (Matthew and Mark called the temple "a den of thieves") "And now the people could no longer bear the insolence... but did altogether run zealously in order to overthrow that tyrany...and to purge the temple of those bloody polluters of it."... (Josephus tells of the "cleansing" of the temple at Antq. IX,XIII,1, XIV,IV,4, and wars, I,I,4.)
G.A. Wells agrees with the theory that the Jesus of the New Testament was an obscure preacher of the same name:
I find it more satisfactory to regard the Jesus of the earliest documents as someone whose life nothing was known... but who was later regarded as having lived about AD 30, and as having preached in Galilee before his death in Jerusalem, perhaps because he was identified with an obscure preacher of the same name. (G.A. Wells, The Historical Evidence For Jesus, p. 216)
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Josephus tells of "three" of his friends who were crucified at the hands of the Romans:
I saw many captives crucified; and remember three of them as my former acquaintances. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physicians hands, while the third recovered. (Life, sec. 75)
Basically, the story outline of Josephus' "Jesus of Galilee" account, is the same as the Jesus of Galilee story in the Gospels. Both Jesus' originated in Galilee and met their deaths in Jerusalem.
Both gave lengthy speeches in Jerusalem just prier to their deaths. The Josephus Jesus said:"These men accuse us falsely," and in the Gospel story the council "sought false witness against Jesus... but found none." In both accounts of the "Three" that were crucified, a person named "Joseph," (Joseph Ben Matthias in Josephus and Joseph of Arimathaea, in the Gospels), petitioned the Roman authority, (Titus in Josephus and Pilate in the Gospels), to release the crucified person or persons, and in both the crucified were removed from the cross "in the even" or "before the going down of the sun." In both stories there were "three" that were crucified, two died and one lived.
THREE DAYS IN THE TOMBJosephus gives the story of Niger:
Niger... was drawn through the middle of the city and, as he went, he frequently cried out and showed the scars of his wounds; and when he was drawn out of the gates (of Jerusalem)... he besought them to grant him a burial... now when they were slaying him, he made...(an) imprecation (curse) upon them.... so when this Niger was killed, their fears of being overturned were diminished... (Wars, IV,VI,1)
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...the Romans went away rejoicing, as taking it for granted that Niger was destroyed... On the third day afterward he spake out of the ground to those who with great lamentation were searching for him, in order to give him a decent funeral; And when he was come out, (of the ground) he filled all the. Jews with unexpected joy, as though he was preserved by God's providence to be their commander for the time to come. (Wars, III,II,3)
The New Testament story of Jesus' death and resurrection, after three days in the tomb, is very similar to the Niger story told by Josephus:
...the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him, and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day...(Mark 9:31)
In both stories, the Romans thought they had killed. the opposing leader. In both, the opposing leader came out of the sepulchre or cave after "three days" and spoke to those who were mourning his death. In both accounts the Jews were filled with "unexpected joy" or "great joy" on learning he was still alive. In both stories the person would be their future leader, and in both a person named "Simon" is mentioned.
There are also some subtle similarities in the two accounts; both Jesus and Niger were captured in Jerusalem and taken outside the city gate to be killed. Niger "showed the scars of his wounds" and Jesus showed "the print of the nails" to doubting Thomas. It is recorded in both accounts that both Jesus and Niger spoke out in agony as they died.
It is interesting that the writer of Acts 13:1,
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tells of a person called "Niger." The name Niger is not found in the Old Testament record. The name is found only in Josephus' history and in the Acts of the Apostles. This may be an indication or conformation that the writer of Acts was familiar with the Niger story in Josephus.
PAUL ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUSThe author of the "Apocryphal" 2nd Maccabees (which was also available to the New Testament writers), recorded an account of one "Heliodorus" which is very much like the New Testament account of Paul on the road to Damascus:
...the Lord of spirits and the prince of all power, caused a great apparation, so that all... were astonished at the power of God and fainted, and were sore afraid.... Two young men appeared before him, notable in strength, excellent in beauty, and comely in apparel, who stood by him on either side, and scourged him continually... and Heliodorus fell suddenly to the ground and was compassed with great darkness: but they that were with him took him up, and put him into a litter... (and) they acknowledged the power of God: for he by the hand of God was cast down and lay speechless without all hope of life, but they praised the Lord, that had miraculously honored his own place: for the temple, which a little afore was full of fear and trouble, when the Almighty Lord appeared, was filled with joy and gladness.
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testified Heliodorus to all men the works of the great God, which he had seen with his eyes. (2nd Maccabees, 3:24-39)
The writer of The. Acts of the Apostles tells that as Saul journeyed:
... he :came near Damascus; and suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said...what wilt thou have me do? And the Lord said unto him, arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Saul later retold the story at Jerusalem and adds that he saw the Lord in the temple and was "examined' by scourged" (Acts, 22:17,24)
It is seen, that in both accounts, an apparition (The presence of one who was once dead), appeared to several persons in the story. One person, Saul in the New Testament and Heliodorus in the Maccabees story, was the object of the visitation. In both stories the apparition directed his message to the person, who fainted or fell to the ground. Saul was "Blinded" while Heliodorus "was compassed with great darkness." The men who accompanied Saul "stood speechless" and Heliodorus "lay speechless." In both stories the subject lay helplessly on the ground, then was taken to the religious authority who restored the health of the subject by the power of God.
Both Saul and Heliodorus were "scourged" and in
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both stories the subject saw the Lord in the temple. And finally, the message the Lord had for both Saul and Heliodorus was that they should testify of Him.
JOSEPHUS AND PAULThere are many similarities between the events of Josephus' life and those told of the apostle Paul of the New Testament. Both Josephus and Paul, in the early years of their lives, subscribed to the sect of the Pharisees. Paul changed his name from the Jewish "Saul" to the Roman "Paul." Josephus changed his name from the Jewish "Joseph ben Matthias" to the Roman "Flavius Josephus." Paul was a Roman [citizen] before being converted to Christianity, Josephus was a priest before becoming a Jewish army commander.
Both Josephus and Paul made a disastrous sea voyage on their way to Rome. Both crews swam to saftey after their ship was abandoned to the storm, which drove them into the Adria. Both crews boarded a second ship which took them to Rome, their destination.
The purpose of the sea voyage, in both stories, was to deliver the priestly prisoners, (Paul in the New Testament and an unnamed priest in Josephus) in bonds, to Rome to be tried before Caesar. In both stories the prisoners had been previously tried in Jerusalem by the procreator Felix.
There is no question that the two accounts were telling of the same event. The question that must be asked is: was the writer of the Luken account telling Paul's version of the story? or did the New Testament writer plagiarize from the Josephus account? G. Paul Bornkamm believes the later:
For his account of the whole voyage, Luke drew on an existing piece of writing that had nothing to do with Paul and inserted such episodes into it. (G.A. Wells, The Historical Evidence for Jesus, p. 149).
THE HISTORICAL JOSEPH AND MARYWhat little is known, from New Testament sources, of the historical persons called Joseph and Mary, is limited and highly questionable. Matthew tells that
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Joseph was the son of Jacob, the thirteenth generation from the captivity. Luke calls Joseph the son of Hili twenty-two generations from the captivity.
It has been snone that both genealogies were probably fictious. Nothing is told of Mary's background except she was espoused to Joseph and that she was a cousin to Elisabeth.
The earliest written of the New Testament documents, the pastoral letters, tell nothing of Joseph and Mary. Mark, said to have been the earliest written of the Synoptic Gospels, also omits any reference to the privileged couple. The writers of Matthew and Luke may have purposely left the historical Joseph and Mary's identity obscure to conceal their true identity.
Since it has been shone that the pattern, used by New Testament writers, was to take secular history from Josephus' works, and turn that history into a supposed religious history, we must look to Josephus for the historical Joseph and Mary.
It seems logical that if the Joseph and Mary stories in the New Testament are found in connection with the king Herod story, this would be the proper place in Josephus' works to find the historical Joseph and Mary.
In Josephus' "Wars of the Jews" we find the true story of Joseph and Mary, but quite different from that found in Matthew and Luke. "Mariamne," (Greek for Mary, and "Miriam" in some translations) was of royal blood. Her father was the great high priest Alexander and her grandfather, the high priest Hycanus (Wars I,XII,3). Mariamne and her brother Aristobulus, as mentioned above, were said to have been "not derived from men but some God or other."
It was Mariamne's brother Aristobulus who was taken into Egypt to escape the wrath of king Herod. Miriamne's husband was none other than Herod "King of the Jews," whose sister Salome, as we have seen, brought spices to the sepulchre to anoint the body of the dead child God Aristibulus.
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The historical Joseph's ancestry is not given by Josephus. He was the husband of Herod's sister Salome. Josephus tells this story about Joseph:
When Herod was about to take a journey abroad, he committed his wife (Mariamne) to Joseph his sister Salome's husband, as to one who would be faithful to him, and bear him good will on account of their kindred: he also gave him a secret injunction that if Anthony slew him, he should slay her.
Josephus explains that while Herod Journeyed to Rhodes, for a parley with Caesar, Mariamne was confined at the fortress Alexanderium until Herod's return. Joseph, Herod's treasurer, was assigned to the fortress for the protection of Mariamne. (Antq. XV, VI, VII,1)
It may have been, that while Joseph and Mariamne were confined at the fortress, for this extended period of time, that Mariamne was "false to Herod's bed." Or, it may have been that the stay at the fortress was to "put Mariamne away privily" to conceal her pregnancy. It is more than likely that the Jews at Jerusalem knew of the public scandal involving their queen and the king's brother-in-law. The scandal was apparently passed on by Jewish authorities for, as we shall see, the record of the illegitimate child was entered into the temple genealogies.
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The Rabbinical record confirms the Josephus story of Mary's unfaithfulness to her husband:
...the Talmud Mary stories.., revolve entirely around the accusation of her unfaithfulness to her husband...Simon ben Azzai has said: 'I found in Jerusalem a book of genealogies; therein was written; that so and so was a bastard son of a married women'... this book of genealogies can be taken to mean nothing else than the official record: nevertheless we are told that it contained the proof of Jeschu's bastardy, for "so and so" is one of the well-known substitutes for Jesus and Jesus alone in the Talmud as has been proved and admitted on either side... The virgin birth doctrine was invented in answer to this record.... we therefor conclude that the earliest Mary legends came to birth somewhere towards the close of the first century.'(G.S.R. Mead, Did Jesus Live 100 BC., pp.162-166)
Mark, the earliest written of the gospels, at 6:3, has the Jews say: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?..." According to Morton Smith: "The son of Mary" was certain to be understood as implying Jesus' illegitimate birth." "In Jewish custom, to describe a man as the son of his mother, would carry this implication." (G.A. Wells, The Historical Evidence for Jesus, p. 236).
The writings attributed to Matthew seem to confirm the scandalous story of Joseph and Mariamne told by Josephus:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child... Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example was minded to put her away privily. (Matt. 1:18,19)
JOSEPHUS' CHRISTThe earliest non-Christian reference, for the historicity of the Jesus of the New Testament occures in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, C.E. 94:
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Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, -- a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [The] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, condemmed him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (William Whiston, Josephus Complete Works, p. 379)
According to Durant:
There may be a genuine core in these strange lines; but the high praise given to Christ by a Jew uniformly anxious to please either the Romans or the Jews -- both at that time in conflict with Christianity -- renders the passage suspect, and Christian scholars reject it as almost certainly an interpolation. (Will Durant, Caesar and Christ. p. 554)
The possibility of a Christain interpolation, to Josephus' statement on Christ, is increased when it is known that the last four books of Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, (which contain the controversial verses on Christ), were written by his secretaries from his notes (Durant p.546). The possibility exists then, that if Josephus' secretaries were sympathetic to an early Christian community, they could have dressed up Josephus' account further than he intended.
The historian, "Justus of Galilee," a rival of Josephus, whose history of the Jews paralleled that of Josephus:
... makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ or what things happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did. (Whiston p. 18)
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It seems incredible, that while the New Testament tells that Jesus lived most of his thirty-three year life in Galilee, and according to Matthew, "His fame was spread abroad" in Galilee, that Justus, also from Galilee in the same time period, would write nothing of him if he realy did exist, and was as famous as the gospel writers made him out to be.
JESUS IN RABBINICAL TRADITION
There are other references to. Jesus in Jewish literature, beyond those found in the works of Josephus, he is mentioned, expressly or allusively, in a number of places in the earlier Rabbinical literature.... It is from the Tannaitic period that we should expect the most reliable traditions about Jesus, if indeed any traditions about him are to be found at all. The most important is a baraitha preserved in the Talmudic tractate Sanhedrim (43a):
The Rabbinical literature may contain the only solid historical evidence that the New Testament Jesus actually existed. We can be sure that the Jesus of Rabbinical literature was the Jesus of the New Testament, by comparing the two accounts. The Rabbinical tradition has it that "Jesus was hanged on passover eve." Mark relates that:
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After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavend bread: and the chief priests and the Scribes sought how they might take him by craft and put him to death (Mark 14:1).
Both accounts mention the passover in connection with the death of Jesus. That Jesus was "hanged" is supported by the writer of Acts, 5:30: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." And at Acts, 10:39: "And we are witnesses of all things which he did... whom they slew and hanged on a tree."
It is interesting to note that the writer of Acts, on the two occasions cited above, tells that:
"They slew and hanged Jesus", indicating that Jesus may have already been dead before he was "hanged" on the tree. This is in agreement with the Rabbinical account where the Herald had cried: "He is being led out for stoning" and was "hanged" on Passover eve" indicating, like the New Testament account, that Jesus was more than likely already dead before he was hanged.
The Jewish method of capital punishment was "stoning." "It was a custom of the Jews, as a warning to others, to expose on a stake, the bodies of those that were stoned" (Mead, p. 342). If Jesus was already dead when he was hanged on the tree or cross, it would contradict the Gospel account and confirm that when Jesus was made to say "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me," the writers were borrowing words from the book of Isaiah as indicated above.
The information about Jesus, which is found in the Rabbinical literature, may not be as important as the information which is "not" found in that account.
If Jesus was brought to trial for "sorcery," "apostacy," being a "deceiver" and was put to death on those charges, surely he must have been well known to Jewish historians in Jerusalem. But nothing is said, in the Rabbinical account of his parentage, the virgin birth, the place of his nativity, the wise men, the reaction of king Herod, the journey into Egypt, his siblings ect. All that is said of Jesus in the Rabbinical account is that he practised
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sorcery (casting out devils) and had enticed and deceived his fellow Jews into apostacy. According to Mead:
The historical origins of Christianity are hidden in unpenetratable obscurity. Of the actual history of the next hundred years also, we have for the most part, to rely on conjecture.... The view of the Christian origins which eventually became the orthodox tradition based itself mainly upon gospel documents composed, in all probability, sometime in the reign of Hadrian, (AD. 117-138). (Mead, pp. 120,122)
Again, it is noted that Josephus published in 94 C.E.
THE EGYPTIAN PROPHETThe writers of the New Testament apparently used stories of false prophets, as well as Jesus stories, when telling of their Jesus of Nazereth:
...now these imposters and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs, that should be performed by the providence of God. Moreover, there came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem, one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude... to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city.. .He said further that he would show them, how, at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall down. (Antq. XX,VIII,6)
The writer of Mark tells a similar story:
And as he went out of the temple one of his disciples sayeth to him; Master see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said to him: see thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately: tell us when shall
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these things be... and Jesus answering them began to say. Take heed lest any man deceive you for many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many... for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and show signs and wonders, to seduce if it were possible, even the elect. (Mark, 13:1-6,22)
The writer of Acts apparently knew of Josephus' Egyptian prophet, for he has the chief captain ask Paul:
Art thou not that Egyptian which before these days madest an uproar, and ledest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers. (Acts,21:38)
In this parallel the Egyptian prophet in Josephs becomes the prophet Christ of the New Testament. In Josephus, the false prophet would "manifest wonders and signs". In Mark, the prophet Jesus reversed the saying and would "show signs and wonders."
In both stories, the "Mount of Olives" is mentioned and both prophets prophecied to the destruction of the walls or buildings of Jerusalem.
At Acts 13:6, the false prophet is called "Bar-Jesus, and Jesus is called a prophet at Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24, 7:16, 13:33, John, 4:19, 4:44, 6:14, 9:17, Acts, 3:22, and 7:37.
If the Jesus of the New Testament was the false prophet of the Rabbinical literature, he may also have been the false prophet of the Mount of Olives story in Josephus.
HILLEL THE BABYLONIAN
Hillel the Elder (ca. 30 B.C.E.-10 C.E.), stands as the classic figure of a Pharisee scholar... as little is known with certainty about his life as about the life of his near contemporary, Jesus, whose saintly silhouette suggests similar qualities of sensitivity and wisdom... according to the accepted tradition, he was born abysmally poor, of non-priestly lineage in Babylon. He became the leading scholar of his century in Jerusalem....
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In the tradition of many exciting teachers Hillel founded a school named for him, Bet-Hillel and uniquely a dynasty which gained for itself a teacher as well as a scribe, a mystic, a man of retreats and silence, and a sensitive man who knew well the anguish of the poor... Analysis of Hillel's few surviving decisions reveal a special concern for the common folk, women, and the outcast. To be sure, the search for the historical Hillel is almost as difficult as the much more famous search for his near contemporary, Jesus...
To a pagan who said he would become a Jew if he could be taught the Torah while standing on one foot, Hillel is said to have replied, 'What is hateful to you, do not unto your neighbor: this is the entire Torah. All the rest is commentary -- go and study it.'
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Jesus was a member of Hillel's school, and may have sat under him, for Hillel had many pupils. He repeated this famous saying of Hillel's and it is possible he used other dicta, for Hillel was a famous aphorist (short saying stating a general truth)
If the historical Jesus was in fact a student of Hillel's school, as stated by Johnson, it would explain the true source of the many "aphorisms" recorded in the gospels, which made Jesus so popular among his followers. Jesus would have also learned the doctrine of resurrection from Hillel the Pharisee.
It is interesting to note that the genealogy of Jesus, given by Luke, lists a person called "Heli" as a close relative. "Heli" may have been the great Jerusalem teacher Hillel.
CONCLUSIONThe Jesus of the New Testament appears to have been a composit figure. He was a combination of several Jesus personalities who lived down through the centuries, and recorded by the first century historian Flavius Josephus.
There was the ca. 593 B.C.E. Josiah (Jesus) who at twelve years of age offered the accustomed sacrifices at the Jerusalem temple. There was the ca. 179 B.C.E. Jesus, the high priest of the Jerusalem temple, who attempted to Hellenize the Jews but failed. There was the ca. 60 C.E. "Jesus of Galilee," the high priest of the Jerusalem temple who met his death in Jerusalem at the hands of the Idumeans. And finally, there was the ca. 65 C.E. Jesus who pronounced "Woe" upon the peoples of Jerusalem.
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G.A. Wells agrees with the theory that there is more than one Jesus displayed in the New Testament:
In the twenty seven books of the New Testament there is not one Jesus but many. And from the beginning Christians were divided about his fundamental nature. (G.A. Wells, The Historical Evidence For Jesus, p. 197).
New Testament writers also adapted other stories from Josephus' works, to their Jesus of Nazereth; The 4 B.C.E. story of the child God Aristobulus who was taken into Egypt by his mother to escape the wrath of Herod. The unnamed Egyptian prophet who, on the mount of olives prophesied that the walls of Jerusalem would fall down. And finally, the unnamed friend of Josephus whom he witnessed being crucified (with two others) and who alone survived the crucifixion.
By the time Josephus published his works in 94 C.E., stories of the historical Jesus became more and more obscure until they had almost completely disappeared from folklore. A new "pseudonymous history," (which was common in those days) could be safely developed by the writers of the "new" history, partially from the embellished folklore of the Rabbinical Jesus, partly from the Jesus stories taken from Josephus, and, to give the writings an historical setting which could be varified, partly from the king Herod and John the Baptist stories found in Josephus' writings.
It was seen that the Herod-Joseph-Mariamne story in Josephus may have been the origin of the Herod-Joseph-Mary story in the New Testament.
Since certain events in the life of the New Testament Paul, (his vision on the road to Damascus and his sea voyage to Rome), seem also to have been taken from earlier writings, it seems probable that the life and teachings of Paul were nothing more than pseudonymous writings created to give the impression that the church had been in existance for some seventy years, when in fact it may have had its beginnings with the first Roman bishops, St. Clement (?-99 C.E.) and Polycarp (ca. 70-156 C.E.)
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According to Durant: "Clement of Rome refers to the writings of Paul in ca. 97 C.E. in Rome, and Polycarp soon afterwards" (just three years after Josephus published in Rome). (Durant, Caesar and Christ, p. 588).
The character known as Paul, in the New Testament, seems to have had scant knowledge of events recorded in the gospels. According to Wells:
The eight Pauline letters I have accepted as genuine are so completely silent concerning the events that were later recorded in the gospels as to suggest that these events were not known to Paul, who, however, could not have been ignorant of them if they had realy occurred....
The validity of the gospels is also questionable, according to the German writer Brandt:
The synoptic tradition goes back to Mark alone. His gospel is... a sufficent basis for the whole tradition. But his gospel is not a purely historical source. It is also, and in a much larger degree, poetic invention. Of the real history of Jesus but little is preserved in the gospels. (Albert Schwietzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, p. 258)
It was also seen, at the beginning of this monograph, that gospel writers used many of the most impressive theological concepts concerning their "new God" from the writings of the Old Testament:
Their suffering servant would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, He would enter Jerusalem riding on an ass, every knee would bow to Him, he would be despised and rejected of men, He would be wounded for
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our transgression, we would be healed with his stripes, His hands and feet would be pierced, they would cast lots for his garments; He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver which would be cast to the potter, by His sacrifice He will save all the ends of the earth.
Thus, the whole foundation of the gospel stories, was built upon the poetic ramblings of Old Testament seers, by the "In order that it might be Fulfilled" school of anonymous pseudo-history makers.
According to Albert Kalthoff:
The fire ignited itself -- Christianity arose by spontaneous combustion when the inflammable material, religious and social which had collected together in the Roman Empire, came in contact with the Jewish Messianic expectations. Jesus of Nazereth never existed; even supposing he had been one of the numerous Jewish Messiahs who were put to death by crucifiction, he certainly did not found Christianity. (ibid. p. 315).
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Bruce, F.F., Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament.
Durant, Will, Caesar and Christ.
Johnson, Paul, A History of the Jews.
Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews.
" " Life.
" " Wars of the Jews.
Mead, G.R.S., Fragments of a Faith Forgotten.
Meyer, Marvin W., The Secret Teachings of Jesus.
Russell, D.S., The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic.
Schweitzer, Albert, The Quest of the Historical Jesus.
Silver, D.J., A History of Judaism, vol. 1.
Tanner, Rogers and McMurrin, Toward Understanding the New Testament.
The Interpreters Bible
Wells, G.A., The Historical Evidence for Jesus.
Whiston, William, Josephus' Complete Works.
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IN HOC SIGNO VINCES
Christianity, The Last Great Creation
of the Pagan World
Although Vernal's cover advertisement describes this booklet as a "comprehensive study of the use of the works of Josephus in the New Testament," it was never meant to be truly "comprehensive." The pamphlet was Vernal's 1994 experiment on applying textual comparisons of selections from Josephus' writings with a few representative biblical excerpts. He evolved his research into this study, after having spent a few years making a similar comparison of Josephus and the Book of Mormon.
The results, as published in a limited edition of fifty copies of Christianity, The Last Great Creation of the Pagan World, were an amateur's observations and preliminary conclusions. Vernal realized that his reporting was inconclusive, but he felt he had made some personal progress in coming to see Christianity as as creation of early second century Hellenistic writers and religious practitioners.
For several years Vernal was uncertain whether the "historical Jesus" and the historian Flavius Josephus were real people in antiquity, or fictional characters in a series of Roman literary creations. His initial thoughts were greatly influenced by writers such as Will Durant and Edward Gibbon, but he also consulted Albert Schweitzer, and was aware of Bruno Bauer's writings from a chapter in Schweitzer.
At the time of his death, in 2000, Vernal had come to the conclusion that "Josephus" was a pen-name for a member of the Roman Piso family. This viewpoint he adopted from the pseudonymous Jewish writer, "Abelard Reuchlin" -- whose writings Vernal had commenced studying as early as the 1980s. Unfortunately Vernal did not survive to learn of the scholarship of Joseph Atwill, whose recent book would have greatly interested him.
Although Vernal's research led him to believe that Christianity and "Jesus Christ" were Roman creations, he was unable to resolve to his satisfaction what their earliest sources were. In adopting Reuchlin's notion of a non-historical Josephus, Vernal was left with little but the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea scrolls to consult, for what he felt to be authentic, pre-Christian Judaism. He was unable to come to any firm decision on the origin or authenticity of the "Q" material, attributed to Jesus in Matthew, Luke and the Gospel of Thomas. Vernal had not finished reading the 1993 and 1995 books by Joseph Mack at the time of his demise. His last couple of years' notes passed into the hands of a Mr. Allred in 1999 and are not available for transcription. Presumably Vernal would have attributed the Q sayings to a Galilean sage or rabbi.