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Thread: Jesus of History

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    Light Jesus of History

    Sita Ram Goel, the great patriot and crusader against the agression of Christian and Islamic zealots says in his book Jesus Christ, An Artifice for Aggression thus:

    I have wondered over the years why we Hindus have remained preoccupied with the behaviour patterns of Muslims and Christians and not with the belief systems which create those behaviour patterns. We object to Christian missions, but refuse to discuss Christianity and its God, Jesus. We object to Islamic terrorism, but refuse to have a look at Islam and its prophet, Muhammad. I see no sense or logic in this Hindu habit.
    This book was first published in the year 1994, but most Hindus have either not read it or have no knowledge about it. In these days of pseudo-secular and Marxist diven false propaganda, books that carry the truth are effectively shielded from wide public view.

    With the Christian missioneries having succeeded widely in their heinous tasks with the tribals and the poor in many parts of India, and starting to look towards the middle and upper classes, this book has become a must read for every Hindu to safeguard his religion, country and Her traditions.

    Here I have presented selected passages from the first chapter of the book that seek to explode the historicity of Jesus Christ that the gospels would have us believe. This compilation is indended to serve as a quick reference for Hindus who take their religion seriously, and for the discerning Christian.

    The entire book is available for downloading at http://www.hamsa.org/

    Jesus of History

    (from the book Jesus Christ, An Artifice for Aggression
    by Sita Ram Goel - downloadable at http://www.hamsa.org/)

    The historicity of Jesus Christ as described in the gospels has been for a long time one of the principal dogmas of all Christian denominations. In India where the history of the search for the Jesus of history remains unknown even to the so-called educated elite, the missionaries continue to hawk this dogma without fear of contradiction. The scene in the modern West, however, has undergone a great change. What we witness over there is that this “solid historical figure” has evaporated into thin air as a result of painstaking Biblical and Christological research undertaken over the last more than two hundred years, mostly by theologians belonging to the Protestant churches.
    ...

    The quest of the Jesus of history commenced when Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768), Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Hamburg in Germany, subjected the Bible to higher criticism and wrote in secret some 4,000 pages. His work was published in seven fragments by his friend Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, several years after his death. The last fragment, The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples, published in 1778, presented Jesus as a failed Jewish revolutionary whose dead body was stolen from his tomb by his disciples in order to spread the story of his resurrection. A storm of agonised protest blew over the Christian world. But that did not stop the theologians from pressing forward on the path blazed by Reimarus.
    ...

    The Jewish Evidence

    Christian tradition tells us that Jesus was a Jew who lived in Palestine during the first 30 or 33 years of the era which is supposed to have commenced from the date of his birth. It is, however, strange that Jewish historians who lived and wrote during the same period or a little later, fail to notice him as well as the religion supposed to have been founded by him. Philo (20 BC-54 AD), who wrote a history of the Jews, knows no Jesus Christ and no Christians. So also another historian of the same period, Justus of Tiberius.
    ...

    The vast rabbinical literature of the Jews, composed during the first two and a quarter centuries of the Christian era, contains only five authentic references to Jesus. But they “do not conclusively establish his historicity, as none of them is sufficiently early”. Moreover, “they are so vague in their chronology that they differ by as much as 200 years in the dates they assign to him”. None of the five Jesuses fits the Christian scheme of Jesus Christ’s birth or life or death.

    The Pagan Evidence

    The Greeks and Romans have left to posterity a vast historical and philosophical literature written in or referring to the time-bracket when Jesus is supposed to have lived. But it is unaware of him. Seneca (2 BC-66 AD), Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), Martial (40-102 AD), Plutarch (45-125 AD), Juvenal (55-140 AD), Apuleius (d. 170 AD), Pausanius (d. 185 AD), and Dio Casius (155-240 AD) do not mention any Jesus or Christ. Epictetus (50-100 AD) refers to Galileans starting with Judas the Galilean who led the Jewish revolt against Rome in the first decade of the first century, but not to Jesus of Nazareth who is supposed to have come from Galilee shortly afterwards.

    Much has been made by Christian apologists of a few words or stray passages referring to “Chrestus” or his worshippers in Pliny the Younger (60-114 AD), Tacitus (55-120 AD), Suetonius (70-120 AD) and Sulpicius Severus (d. 400 AD). But critical scrutiny has shown that all these references either do not relate to Jesus of Nazareth, or are influenced by Christian tradition, or are clever Christian fabrications. Ian Wilson concludes that “in all this there is scarcely a crumb of information to compel a belief in Jesus’ existence”.4 Paul Johnson comments that fabrications “occur throughout the history of Christianity up to Renaissance and even beyond”.

    The word “Chrestus” which occurs in some of these Pagan sources and which has provided grist to the mill of Christian apologetics, did not mean in the ancient world the same as the word “Christus” or “Christos”. This appellation simply meant “good” or “agreeable” and was claimed by characters belonging to several sects which practised initiation by anointment. That alone can explain the attempt by a Christian scribe to scratch the “e” in Chrestus and replace it by an “i” in a manuscript of Tacitus.6 What clinches the argument is that the word “Christian” does not appear in the Christian literature itself before 140 AD. On the other hand, anti-Christian polemics which appears for the first time around 160 AD, starts by questioning the existence of a character called Jesus Christ.
    ...

    Gibbon confirms that Christians were little known in the first two centuries of the Christian era, or, if known to some notables in the Roman Empire, were despised as dismal fanatics. ... (He writes about Seneca, Pliny, Tacitus, Plutarch, and so on) "Yet all these sages (it is no less an object of surprise than of concern) overlooked or rejected the perfection of the Christian system... Those among them who condescend to mention the Christians consider them only as obstinate and perverse enthusiasts who exacted an implicit submission to their mysterious doctrines without being able to produce a single argument that could engage the attention of men of sense and learning.

    Evidence of the Gospels

    All languages which have been influenced by Christianity contain the expression, “gospel truth”. But truth is exactly what we find completely missing from the gospels when it comes to the life and teaching of their hero — Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, the gospels violate one of the Ten Commandments — thou shalt not bear false witness — and can be easily caught in the act.

    1. Year of Birth: “Both Matthew and Luke assign Jesus’ birth to ‘the days when Herod was the king of Judea’ — consequently before 3 B.C. Luke, however, describes Jesus as ‘about thirty years old’ when John baptised him ‘in the fifteenth year of 7 Ibid., pp. 35-36. 8 Edward Gibbon, op. cit., p. 442. PDF created with pdfFactory Pro trial version www.pdffactory.com JESUS OF HISTORY / 7 Tiberius’ i.e., A.D. 29; this would place Christ’s birth in the year 2 B.C. Luke adds that ‘in those days there went out a decree of Caesar Augustus that all world should be taxed... when Quirinius was the governor of Syria.’ Quirinius is known to have been legate in Syria between A.D. 6 and 12; Josephus notes a census by him in Judea but ascribes it to A.D. 6-7. We have no further mention of this census. Tertullian records a census of Judea by Saturninus, Governor of Syria, in 8-7 B.C.; if this is the census Luke had in mind, the birth of Christ would have to be placed before 6 B.C.

    John’s gospel states that Jesus was not fifty years old when he died, so that Jesus must have been born around 22-15 BC. Eusebius places his death in 22 AD, which takes his birth to 9 BC if he was 30 when he died, to 12 BC if he was 33, and to 28 BC if he was nearing 50. The year 1 AD as the year of his birth was assumed by the sixth century Roman monk, Dionysius Exiguus, when he worked out the chronology which has prevailed since then.10 It is significant that neither the gospel of Mark nor that of John bothers to mention his birth. They start with his baptism by John the Baptist. Modern scholars think that the nativity stories in the gospel of Matthew and Luke have been added later. The interpolators were either unaware of one another’s doing, or did not care to crosscheck. They contradict one another at several important points.

    2. Date of Birth: “We have no knowledge of the specific day of his birth. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200) reports diverse opinions on the subject in his day, some chronologists dating the birth April 19, some May 10; he himself assigns it to November 17, 3 BC. As far back as the second century the Eastern Christians celebrated the Nativity on January 6. In 354 some Western churches, including those of Rome, commemorated the birth of Christ on December 25; it was already the central festival of Mithraism, the natalis invicti solis, or birthday of the unconquered sun.”

    Other sources give other dates. “As for the date of Christmas, the chances are no better than 1 in 365 that Jesus’ birthday fell on 25 December. A number of different dates have contended for the title — including 20 May, 19 April, 17 November, 28 March, 25 March and 6 January — and it took nearly five hundred years before 25 December came to be generally accepted. The reason for the choice of this date owes nothing to historical evidence but a great deal to the influence of other religions. It was no accident that 25 December happened to be the birthday of the ‘Unconquered Sun’ (Sol Invictus), the chief festival of the Mithraic cult, a popular mystery religion of the late Roman Empire which shared quite a number of elements with Christianity, notably its emphasis on rebirth and salvation.”12 Ian “Wilson concludes, “Not only the date but also the year of his birth are unknown, and on present evidence unknowable...”1

    3. Place of Birth: “Jesus was born at Bethlehem. Or was he? It is one of the best known ‘facts’ of Christianity, on the strength of which the town of Bethlehem has developed a thriving tourist trade. But is it true? Was Jesus really born in Bethlehem? Unfortunately, even the Christian scriptures disagree among themselves. Matthew and Luke both say yes, while John (7: 41-2) and Mark (1:9 ; 6:1) give the impression of never even having heard of Jesus’ supposed birth at Bethlehem but assume that his birthplace was Nazareth, a small town in the northern region of Galilee, at the opposite end of the country from Bethlehem.”

    When we come to details, however, even Matthew and Luke part company. For Matthew, Jesus is conceived and born in Bethlehem straight away. Luke finds his parents in Nazareth at the time of his conception, and drags them to Bethlehem so that they may he counted in a census. Even if we forget the fact that there was no census when Jesus is supposed to have been born, the story does not make sense. Firstly, neither Nazareth nor Bethlehem was under Roman jurisdiction in 1 AD. Secondly, unlike Joseph, Mary did not belong to Bethlehem and there was no reason for her to travel to that town all the way from Nazareth, particularly in a state of advanced pregnancy. The only reason for Bethlehem being presented as Jesus’ place of birth is the prophecy in the Old Testament (Micah 5:2) that the Messiah will be born in that place.

    Joan Taylor, a historian from New Zealand, has shown {Christians and the Holy Places, OUP, 1993) that the Nativity Church at Bethlehem was built after demolishing the Pagan temple of an ancient God, Tammuz-Adonis. As Arnheim has shown, the Christians claim to Bethlehem was a fraud from the very beginning.

    Nazareth fares no better as the place of Jesus’ birth. There is no positive proof that this place existed at the time when he is supposed to have been born. It does not occur in any Roman maps, records or documents relating to that time. It is not mentioned in the Talmud. It is not associated with Jesus in any of the writings of Paul. Josephus who commanded troops in Galilee does not mention it. It appears for the first time in Jewish records of the seventh century. Scholars of the subject think that Nazareth was brought into existence and became hallowed simply because of a mistake in translating the term “Nazarene” found in the Greek versions of the two gospels as well as in the Jewish literature of that time. The word denoted a Jewish sect to which Jesus is supposed to have belonged. The Quran and early Islamic literature know the Christians as the Nasara, but are not aware that Isa Masih came from the town of Nazareth. But in Latin and other translations “Jesus the Nazarene” became “Jesus of Nazareth”. New translations of the gospels have corrected the mistake but retained the story unchanged.

    4. Genealogy and Parentage: Of the four gospels, Matthew and Luke alone provide Jesus’ family tree in an effort to trace him back to King David and even to Abraham and Adam. But there are huge and ir reconcilable differences in the two genealogies, not only in the names of Jesus’ ancestors but also in the number of generations. There are only three names that are common in the two family trees. Even the name of Joseph’s father and Jesus’ grandfather is not the same. Matthew accommodates 28 and Luke 41 generations of Jesus’ ancestors in the same span of time. It seems that the writers of the two gospels share nothing in common except their zeal to prove that Jesus was descended from King David. The biggest puzzle, however, takes shape when both of them announce in the next breath that Jesus was the Only-begotten Son of God born of a virgin! In fact, Matthew (1.23) quotes Isaiah (7.14) from the Old Testament in order to fortify this announcement — “Behold! A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” Will Durant comments, “The virgin birth is not mentioned by Paul or John, and Matthew and Luke trace Jesus back to David through Joseph by conflicting genealogies; apparently the belief in the virgin birth rose later than in the Davidic descent.”

    5. The Virgin Birth: It is the conflicting versions of virgin birth we find in Matthew and Luke, which give away the game. Matthew says that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was betrothed to Joseph but they had not lived together when Joseph discovered that she was pregnant. He was a kind man, and did not want to expose Mary to death by stoning, the standard punishment for adultery under the Jewish law at that time. He, however, made her leave his home. It was then that an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and informed him that Mary had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit. The angel added that Mary’s son would save his people from their sins, and was to be named Jesus. It is at this point that Matthew quotes the prophecy from Isaiah in order to confirm the angel’s announcement. Joseph awoke, took back Mary into his house, and she gave birth to Jesus. It is only then that Joseph had conjugal relations with her, that is, Mary did not remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus. All this happened in Bethlehem.

    Luke, on the other hand, informs us that the angel visited Mary in a waking state, and announced the birth by her of a son whom God would give the throne of David. Mary wondered how that could happen because she was still a virgin. The angel assured her that she would be visited by the Holy Spirit, and that her son would be the Son of God. Luke does not invoke any Old Testament prophecy in support of this assurance by the angel. And he makes all this happen in Nazareth, months before Mary travelled to Bethlehem with Joseph in an advanced state of pregnancy. Nor does he confirm that Mary and Joseph had conjugal relations after Jesus was born at Bethlehem. They were only betrothed when they travelled to that city. “In other words, so far as Luke is concerned, Mary appears to be an ‘unmarried mother’.”

    Matthew’s citation from Isaiah can be dismissed straight away as a clumsy attempt at cover up. As a Jew conversant with the Hebrew Bible, he must have known that the word “almah” used by Isaiah did not mean “virgin” but “young woman”, and that the correct Hebrew word for “virgin” was “betulah” which Isaiah had used five times but not in this context. He chose to cite from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible, because there the word “almah” had been wrongly translated as “parthenos”, the Greek word for “virgin”. New translations of the Bible have corrected the mistake. It is only the Catholic Church which continues to stick not only to the dogma of the virgin birth of Jesus but also to the myth of Mary’s permanent virginity, and refuses to face the fact that Matthew, who floated the myth, himself mentions Mary as having conjugal relations with Joseph only a few lines later. Elsewhere in the gospels we find Mary being mentioned as the mother of several children besides Jesus. The Catholic Church, however, has extended the dogma of Mary’s virginity to her and her female ancestors’ immaculate conception ad infinitium. This ridiculous exercise provoked Anatole France to write a story in which a prostitute in Paris kneels before a statue of Virgin Mary and prays, “Holy Mother! You conceived without sinning. Let me sin without conceiving.”

    It is also significant that all the four female ancestors of Mary mentioned by Matthew in his genealogy of Jesus happen to be fallen women. “Tamar was a temple prostitute; Rahab was the madam of a brothel; Ruth, the most moral, indulged in some pretty shameless sexual exploitation; and Bathsheba committed adultery with King David. Was the author of the Matthew genealogy implying something about the only other woman mentioned, Mary herself?”17 In any case, a clear reference to the circumstances of Jesus’ birth is found in the gospel of John (8.41) where, in a heated debate between Jesus and the Jews on the Mount of Olives, the latter fling at him the taunt that “we were not born of fornication”.

    The real reason for floating the myth of virgin birth seems to be that “there had always been a question mark hanging over Mary’s sexual morality” and that “it was clearly a subject which caused the early Christians acute embarrassment”.18 In fact, there has been a long-standing tradition among the Jews that Jesus was the fruit of an adulterous union between Mary and a Roman soldier named Panthera. The story had also spread to the Pagans in the ancient world. Origen found the Roman philosopher Celsus referring to it in his anti-Christian polemics around AD 178.

    Christians have tended to dismiss the story as a malicious piece of invention, suggesting that Panthera may have been a corruption of ‘parthenos’ meaning virgin. “Intriguingly, their interpretation fell a little flat with the discovery at Bingerbruck in Germany of the tombstone of one Tiberius Julius Abdes Panthera, a Roman archer from Sidon in Phoenicia. Although it would be fanciful seriously to suggest that Panthera was Jesus’ real father, the tombstone does happen to date from the appropriate early Roman Imperial period.”

    This “unfortunate circumstance” of Jesus’ birth may explain his hostility to his mother and lack of enthusiasm for his brothers. In John (2.3-4) we find him giving short shrift to his mother at the marriage in Cana. In Luke (11.27-28) there is more than a hint that Jesus did not consider his mother among those “who hear the word of God and keep it”. In Matthew (12.46-50), Mark (3.31-35), and Luke (8.19-21) he shows no warmth for Mary and his brothers who come all the way from Nazareth to Capernaum to pay him a visit.

    I may comment at this point that as a Hindu I do not consider Jesus’ unconventional birth a reflection on his character as a worthy teacher, assuming that he was one. Marriage is after all only a social convention, and it does not necessarily put the stamp of nobility on those who are born “legitimately”. Nor does birth outside wedlock detract from the moral or spiritual worth of a person. I have discussed the dogma of virgin birth at some length simply because Catholic theologians insist on presenting it as a historical event. It is a different question altogether whether Jesus was endowed with moral and spiritual qualities such as can distinguish him as a great teacher. I shall take up this question at a later stage in this book.

    5. Ministry: The gospels tell us very little about the life of Jesus between his birth and his baptism by John the Baptist. Matthew informs us of Joseph’s flight to Egypt along with Mary and Jesus in order to escape the massacre of infants by King Herod, and his return, after Herod’s death, to the land of Israel where he withdrew himself to Nazareth in Galilee. Luke mentions no flight to Egypt. He keeps Jesus in Bethlehem all the time so that he is circumcised when he is eight days old, and taken to the temple at Jerusalem where he is hailed as the saviour by Simeon and Anna the prophetess. ...

    Obviously, the gospel writers are interested only in his ministry as the Messiah. But here too the accounts differ. If we leave out the miracles and the parables, the biographical data we are left with is very meagre indeed. The total record of his doings covers only eight days. About the duration of his ministry also there are two traditions. One tradition says that it lasted for three years, another says for one year. The only points which emerge with some prominence are that he preached to some gatherings of people at a few places on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem, was arrested and tried, and crucified along with two bandits.

    6. Trial by the Jews: All the four gospels say that Jesus was tried for blasphemy by the Jewish authorities at Jerusalem before he was handed over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. But they differ materially on details.
    ...

    Jewish scholars have examined the gospel accounts in the light of Jewish laws and administration prevailing in Palestine at the time Jesus is supposed to have been tried by the Jewish authorities. They have come to the conclusion that the whole story of Jesus being tried by the Jewish authorities for blasphemy sounds spurious. Firstly, they hold that in terms of the Jewish law it was not blasphemy for any Jew to claim to be the Messiah or the Son of God. Secondly, they point out that sessions of the Sanhedrin could not be held at the times and in the ways mentioned in the three gospels. Finally, they maintain that if Jesus had been found guilty of blasphemy for saying something which is not mentioned in the gospels, the Jewish authorities at Jerusalem were quite competent to get him stoned to death, the penalty prescribed by Jewish law, and were not at all called upon to hand him over to the Roman governor for getting him crucified. The very fact that Jesus was crucified and not stoned to death goes to prove that he must have violated a Roman and not a Jewish law.

    Interestingly, the Pontius Pilate of history we meet in authentic Roman accounts is not at all the kind-hearted character we meet in the gospels; he was a cruel and blood-thirsty man who seldom stopped from committing gruesome atrocities.

    “All the four gospels,” observes Michael Arnheim, “agree in pinning the blame on the Jews and in exonerating Pontius Pilate, but disagree on practically everything else. In other words, their conclusions agree, but not the evidence adduced in support of those conclusions... In short, it would appear that the gospel writers first reached their conclusion (namely, that Jews were guilty of Jesus’ ‘murder’) and only afterwards put together a story to support this conclusion.”

    James P. Mackey remarks, “Finally, we are reminded by more than one exegete that we dare not ignore the increasing apologetic tendency of the gospel writers to shift the blame for the death of Jesus from the Romans, whose empire the Christians by this time were trying to win for the faith, to the Jews. ..."

    It is, however, not the historicity of the so-called Jewish trial but the theology to which it gave birth, which invites greater attention. It is because of this spurious story that all through nearly two thousand years of Christian history, Jews have been accused of deicide and subjected in practically all Christian countries to cruel pogroms which culminated in the Nazi Holocaust. The gospel writers can, therefore, he held guilty of committing one of the greatest crimes against humanity in inventing this history. John (8.44) goes to the extent of labeling the Jews as sons of the Devil!

    The less said about the ridiculousness of the theology itself, the better. If Jesus was the Son of God who was sent down specifically for the purpose of washing the sins of mankind with his blood by mounting the cross, knowingly and willingly, the Jew should have been glorified for helping the divine plan, even if unknowingly, assuming that they did connive at his death. On the other hand, Pontius Pilate should have been condemned in the strongest language for trying to frustrate what God had himself designed in his supreme wisdom. But what we find in Christian theology is the other way round. The Jews have been painted in the darkest colours, while Pontius Pilate “missed canonization” because “the Edict of Milan (312) made it unnecessary for the Church to have in Pilate a witness that ‘found no guilt in this man”.

    7. The Crucifixion: All the four gospels agree that Jesus was awarded a typically Roman punishment, crucifixion. But they differ in details.
    ...

    In Matthew and Mark, Jesus cries loudly on the cross, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” but does not die immediately. In Luke, he cries “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit,” and expires. In John, he says simply that “it is now completed”, and dies.

    The time of Jesus’ death is also different in the two sets of gospels. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, it occurs at three o’clock in the afternoon when darkness falls on the whole land, and it is late in the afternoon when Joseph of Arimathea takes down Jesus’ body from the cross. In John, it is already evening when a Roman soldier is ordered to break Jesus’ legs in order to expedite his death, and finds him already dead.

    There are some other details also on which the gospels differ. Some scholars have doubted the whole story of Jesus’ crucifixion. They point to Acts 5.30 and 13.29 which say that Jesus was hanged on and taken down dead from a tree.26 An apocryphal Christian apocalypse, The Ascension of Isaiah composed in stages during the first and second centuries, also says that he was “crucified on the tree”. This is in conformity with the Jewish tradition which tells us that Jesus was first bound to a pillar and scourged, then stoned to death, and finally hanged on a tree.

    The Jewish tradition acquires weight when we find that the cross appears quite late as a Christian symbol. The Roman cross on which Jesus is supposed to have been crucified was not at all like the one represented by Christian painters. The Christian cross, in fact, is patterned after the mystic cross which we find in Egyptian hieroglyphics dated to an era long before Jesus is supposed to have been crucified. We do not meet this Christian cross among Christian symbols till Helena, the mother of Constantine, travelled to Jerusalem in 337 and “discovered the true cross”. And it was not until the Council of Constantinople held in 692 AD that the Church pronounced the cross as real and not symbolic. The story that the cross had appeared to Constantine in 312 AD on the eve of the Battle of the Mulvian Bridge is pure fiction.

    Joan Taylor to whom we have referred earlier in this chapter, finds that the Holy Cross Church at Jerusalem has been built after demolishing a temple dedicated to Venus, a Pagan Goddess of ancient Greece and Rome. The crime was committed at the behest of Constantine, the Roman emperor who converted to Christianity, simply because his mother, Helena, saw in a dream that Jesus had been crucified at that place. Constantine’s minions had no problem in “unearthing” a cross and claiming the site. We have many instances of such crosses being “unearthed” in South India, particularly at places where St. Thomas is supposed to have built the first seven churches.

    8. Resurrection: We are entitled to dismiss the gospel stories of Resurrection like the rest of Jesus’ miracles. We are entitled not to treat it as history at all. But as Resurrection happens to be the core of the Christian creed, we will better see what sort of puerile invention it is. Inventors of falsehood enjoy an advantage over tellers of truth, especially when the inventors become powerful and wield big guns and/or weapons of big propaganda. Tellers of truth are forced to discuss the fictions floated by the inventors of falsehood.

    Scholars who date some epistles of Paul as earlier than the gospels regard this man as the first propounder of Resurrection. “Now if Christ is preached,” he wrote to the Corinthians in 49 AD, “as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.”28 The ifs and buts used by Paul in this statement go to show that for him Resurrection was the starting point of a story which had yet to be concocted and that to start with there were few buyers for this starting point.

    Some theologians have tried to interpret Paul as saying that the risen Christ was not a being of flesh and blood but a spiritual being. But that would mean dismissing the whole of the New Testament and wellnigh two thousand years of Christian tradition. In fact, Paul himself seems to repeat the gospel accounts when he says earlier in the same epistle that Jesus appeared after his death first to Cephas, then to the twelve disciples, then to more than five hundred people, then to James, then to all the apostles, and lastly to him.

    Before we take up the gospel accounts of Resurrection, we may point out that, according to scholars, Jesus’ appearance after his death (16.9-20) formed no part of the original gospel of Mark and has been appended to it later. “This is in itself peculiar. If Jesus had been raised from the dead and had appeared to some of his chief disciples, then surely Mark could not have failed to record it. The fact that this had to be tacked by someone else also indicates that Jesus’ appearance and ascension were not known to Mark, whose Gospel, it is generally agreed, was written about thirty years after Jesus’ death. In other words, the story of a raised Jesus appearing to his disciples and others and then ascending to heaven was only invented a generation or more after the events were supposed to have occurred.”

    “There seems even less prospect,” observes James P. Mackey, “of arriving at a concordant account of the details of the appearances of Jesus than there is in the case of the empty tomb stories, when at least Mary Magdalene is consistently a principal character. That has to be recognized at the very outset. Apart from the major discrepancy amongst the gospels as to whether the appearances of Jesus took place in Galilee or in and around Jerusalem, all the appearance stories have different settings, details and messages. ..."

    “The embarrassment,” comments Michael Arnheim, “which Jesus’ death occasioned his disciples must have been acute, and it comes through very clearly in Paul’s creed in which he twice specifically links Jesus’ death with Jewish prophecy ‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures’ and ‘he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures’ (my emphasis; 1 Cor. 15: 3-4; cf. Acts 13:27-9). Which scriptures is Paul referring to? There is this verse in the prophet Hosea: ‘after two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him’ (Hosea 6:2). But the reference here is not to resurrection at all, but rather to God’s reconciliation with the Jewish people after punishing them. Hosea, it must be stressed, was writing some seven hundred years before the time of Jesus and his prophecy must be understood in terms of the circumstances of his own day, a time when there were still two independent Jewish kingdoms, Judea and Israel, but when their independence was threatened from without by powerful foreign states and, as the prophet saw it, by moral and religious decay from within.”

    The Jewish tradition also confirms that Resurrection and Ascension were only stories invented and spread by the disciples. According to this tradition, Judas, the resourceful Jew, who had captured Jesus, the evil magician, and helped the Jewish elders kill and bury him, became suspicious when he saw Jesus’ disciples sitting round the tomb during the night. So he removed the body from the tomb and buried it elsewhere. Next morning the disciples came to the tomb again and, finding it empty, started crying out that Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended unto heaven. Judas produced the body from its hiding place so that it was tied to a horse’s tail and dragged around for some time. But Paul, the apostate disciple of Rabbi Gamaliel, took the false story of Resurrection to Rome and spread it there.

    The Jewish tradition is also confirmed by Acts 13.29 which states quite clearly that Jesus’ body was buried by the Jews themselves and not by Joseph of Arimathea who appears like a deus ex machina in the gospels.

    9. Character of the Gospels: The writer of John’s gospel declares at the end of his account (21.24) that “This is the disciple who is both witness of these facts and the recorder of these facts; and we know that his testimony is true”. The same claim of being eye-witness accounts is advanced by Christian apologetics on behalf of the other three gospels, though the gospels themselves do not say so. We have, however, seen that the gospels contradict and cancel out each other when it comes to the salient features in the story of Jesus — the date and year and place of his birth, his ancestry and parentage, his ministry, his trial and death, and his resurrection. This claim on behalf the gospels, therefore, falls to the ground.

    In fact, this claim was dismissed most forcefully by David Friedrich Strauss who published his two-volume work, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, in 1835-36. “Because of the discrepancies he found, he cogently argued that none of the gospels could have been by eye-witnesses, but instead must have been the work of writers of a much later generation, freely constructing their material from probably garbled traditions about Jesus in circulation in the early Church.”

    Even the names by which the gospels are known today have been found to be later inventions. “Few realize, for instance, that despite the fact that the canonical gospels bear the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, these names are mere attributions, and not necessarily those of their real authors. The earliest writers who referred to the gospels significantly failed to mention names of authors, it being apparent that each gospel, both those surviving and those that have failed to survive, was originally designed as the gospel for a particular community. A canon of the four ‘recognized’ gospels only gradually came with general usage, at the same time acquiring associations with specific names from Christianity’s earliest years, though the connection was not necessarily legitimate.”35 For all we know, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John may be mere names rather than real characters who actually lived and wrote in the remote past.
    ...

    It is significant that Christian writers before 100 AD quote the Old Testament quite often but never the New Testament. Obviously, the material of the New Testament including the gospels was either in a formative stage, or was not deemed authentic enough to enjoy the prestige of scriptural authority. In any case, the existing codices of the gospels do not “take us further back than the days of Jerome and Augustine, still leaving a huge 300-year gap”.38 The original compositions that might have existed at earlier dates were thus “exposed to two centuries of errors in transcriptions, and to possible alterations to suit the theology or aims of the copyist’s sect or time”.39

    The gospels cannot, therefore, he accepted as reflecting the time and clime in which Jesus is supposed to have lived and functioned. What they represent are the beliefs held by certain Christian communities in the middle of the third century AD.

    There is also plenty of evidence that the gospels have been subjected to considerable editing in course of time. Passages have been interpolated as well as expunged. It is now well known that Mark 16.9-20 referring to Jesus’ appearance after death and the world mission of Christianity, have been added at a later stage. The original gospel comes to an end at 16.8 in the ancient manuscripts.
    ...

    What scholars have come to suspect the most, apart from the miracles, are the Old Testament prophecies which abound in the gospels. Almost every event in Jesus’ life, from birth to death, is presented as fulfillment of some prophecy. Michael Arnheim has devoted a whole chapter (the Sixth) of his book to this subject. “One of the chief concerns — if not the chief concern — of the Gospels is to ‘prove’ that Jesus was the Messiah as prophesied in the Jewish scriptures. There are essentially two ways in which they set about doing this, depending upon the need of the case ... either to bring your story into line with the prophecy or to interpret the prophecy in such a way as to bring it into conformity with the story.”41 He has analysed the various prophecies in order to show which of the two ways has been followed in which case. He has also found instances in which both the ways have been used.
    ...

    Summing Up

    This being the character of the gospels, the search for a Jesus of history in them has had to be given up. It may be noted that the search was started and continued not by atheists or anti-Christians of any type but by pious theologians whose aim was to install Jesus on the firm ground of recorded history and thus fortify the fundamental Christian belief that Christianity is a historical and not a mythological faith. They cannot he blamed if the results of Christological research have turned out to be disastrous for Christianity, as we shall see.
    ...

    Coming to the “Results”, he (Albert Schweitzer, the world famous theologian and missionary,) mourns, “There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the Life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. This image has not been destroyed from without. It has fallen to pieces, cleft and disintegrated by the concrete historical problems which came to the surface one after another, and in spite of all the artifice, art, artificiality, and violence which was applied to them, refused to be planed down to fit the design on which Jesus of the theology of the last hundred and thirty years had been constructed and were no sooner covered over than they appeared again in a new form..”52 He concludes, “We thought that it was for us to lead our time by the roundabout way through the historical Jesus, as we understood Him, in order to bring it to the Jesus who is a spiritual power in the present. This roundabout way has now been closed by genuine history.”53
    ...

    Pope Leo X had confessed in the early sixteenth century that “It has served us well, this myth of Christ”.55 Now that the myth was getting exploded, Pope Pius X condemned in 1907 the Modernists who “were working within the framework of the Church” and “an anti-Modernist oath was introduced in 1910”.56
    ...

    Pastor J. Kahl pronounced in 1967 that “nothing at all is known of Jesus beyond the bare fact that ‘he existed at a date and place which can be established approximately’ and that both his teaching and manner of death remain unknown so that ‘the name of Jesus is bound to remain cryptic and meaningless, indistinguishable from a myth’.”59
    ...

    G.A. Wells has continued to examine the arguments of those who are still out to prop up a Jesus of history. He has written three challenging books in 1971, 1982 and 1986. In his latest book he concludes that “The existence of strongly divergent Christologies in early Christian times is a strong argument against Jesus’ historicity”, and that “if he had really lived, early Christian literature would not ‘show nearly everywhere churchly and theological conflicts and fierce quarrels between opponents’ nor disagree so radically as to what kind of person he was”.63

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    Re: Jesus of History

    Quote Originally Posted by saidevo View Post
    Sita Ram Goel, the great patriot and crusader against the agression of Christian and Islamic zealots says in his book Jesus Christ, An Artifice for Aggression thus:
    I have read Mr. Goel's book and I agree that this book is a must read for every hindu. Not only just read but we must internalize his thoughts. If he were alive today, I would have dropped to his feet and accepted him as my guru immediately!
    satay

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    Re: Jesus of History

    Another good book that is must read for every hindu is - Age of Reason by Thomas Paine

    "No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.

    It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him."

    -Chapter 2
    http://www.thomaspaine.org/Archives/AOR1.html

    One can find his works at http://www.thomaspaine.org/contents.html
    satay

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    Re: Jesus of History

    I happen to catch the 'Myths of Mankind' series tonight http://www.onebodymindspirit.com/Myths_Mankind2.htm ; a documentary by channel one body mind spirit.

    The series on jesus' myth is quite interesting.
    satay

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    Re: Jesus of History

    Namaste Satay.

    Interesting link. Ironically “The Son of God” questions the very historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth, whereas the following text “A Christianity Before Christianity” says that the first followers of Jesus Gnostic christians who "maintained that divinity lies in each of us, and can find our way to God through self-knowledge."

    The text also says that "Gnostics saw the life and death of Jesus in metaphorical terms", and that it is " rooted in ancient mystery religions." This throws up some interesting implications: If Jesus was metaphorical, he did not exist. But the image of Jesus should have been modelled on some ancient religious personality, may be a rishi? And the teachings should have been grouped by a set of disciples, and who were they? Who was their guru?

    Swami Shyamendra has traced the Hindu origins of names and places throughout the world in his Website http://www.swamishyam.org. Some of his obversations include:

    1. A verse of the Mahabharata expresses the same conclusion: "There is a sacred place named Saptcharu in the bank of river Devika, a branch of the Vitasta or Jhelam River which flows in Kashmir, and that is the birthplace of the first rishis." Kashmir was larger in those days and spread from the Arabian Sea to Mount Kailash, from the Punjab to Southern Siberia.

    2. From the beginning, Aryans were born in India and have been living there for four million years without interruption (2). The concept of "pre-Aryan" has no meaning. It is like asking "What was pre-creation?" or "What was before God?" They are irrelevant questions. The seeming discrepancy between 4 billion, 2 billion, and 4 million years of civilization is due to the interruptions of natural disasters in the course of the Earth's history, interrupting the course of life, but not annihilating it.

    3. When the Lovetrance* race of India migrated to distant countries, the climate printed on their bodies and eventually their genes reformed to give birth to more environmentally suitable appearances. Yet, they carried their ancient culture, including their language, dressing style, religion, policies, rites, ceremonies, and customs with them. Remnants of these are observable throughout the ancient world. Part of this carry-over includes the names of countries and cities on all continents. Many of these are the names of Vedic rishis, or some other Sanskrit word. One example is Atropaten; in pure Sanskrit this word is Atripattan, which means, the abode of the great rishi Atri. Here are a few more:

    Syria (Suria) - Sura
    Assyria - Asura
    Galilee - Gawalaya
    Nazareth - Nandrath
    Russia - Russiya
    ( Land of the rishis. The Sanskrit suffix "ia" means: Land of, and was used in countries such as: Siberia, Prussia, Rumania, Bularia, Iberia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Austria, Australia, Scanidinvia, Armenia, and Albania.)

    Siberia - Shibireeya (Region of temporary habitations)
    Soviet - Svet (White, as in snow-covered)
    Caspian Sea - Kasyap
    Budapest - Buddhaprastha (The city of Buddha)
    Austria - Astriya (Land of missiles)
    Poland - (There is an ancient saying in Poland: Kto poznal India, poznat coly Swiat. "He who sees India has seen the whole world.")
    Scandinavia - Skanda-simha
    Sweden (Sverige) - Swarge
    Norway (Norge) - Narka
    Greece (Macedonia) - Maha-Sadaneeya
    Italy - Etaly
    Rome (Roma) - Rama
    Madrid - Madri
    France - Pravar
    Paris (Parisorium) - Parameswarium
    Angul - Angulisthan(Finger-size and length country)
    Britain - Brihat-Sthan
    London (Londonium) - Nandonium
    Stonehenge - Stavankunj
    Woodhenge - Vanakunj
    Salisbury - Shaileshpury
    Ireland - Aryasthan
    Iran - Iranam(Salty land)
    Arabia (Arbasthan) - Arvasthan
    Egypt - Ajapati
    (Ajapati is an epithet of Lord Rama of India, born in the Solar Dynasty in the Silver Age. He has stood as the epitome of Kingly rule throughout the Vedic civilization. Egypt is named after Rama, and therefore was of the Solar Dynasty, and named its emperors Ramesis.)

    Rhodesia - Rhid-desh (Heart-land)
    Guatemala - Guatamalaya
    Japan (Nippon) - Nipun (The word "nipun" in Sanskrit means expert or smart.)
    Korea - Gauriya
    Malaysia - Malaya
    Singapore - Simhapur
    Manchuria - Manjushri
    Bali - Bali
    Burma - Bramha(desh)
    Australia - Astralaya (Land of missiles; P.N. Oak suggests this might have been a land where nuclear missiles were experimented, leaving larges parts of it a desert.)

    *The name given by Shyamendra for the most ancient race of mankind that originated in India and is still found, according to him.

    (Source: http://www.swamishyam.org/THOTW%20On...n/THOTWO_1.HTM)

    While personal subscriptions to these suggestions might differ, everyone would agree that an intensive research done by Indian scholars and sages would throw new lights on the true History of the World and Mankind and banish the prejudiced history written by the conquerors that circulates today.

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    Re: Jesus of History

    on banning:
    Yes, just like osho's several books are banned by the vatican. This banning stuff seems to be normal practice unfortunately.
    satay

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    Re: Jesus of History

    Jesus' Resurrection Theory in Question Again

    Titanic director tackles Jesus
    February 26, 2007 - 8:44AM

    (Source: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t...cid=1113889362)

    Titanic director James Cameron's latest project is a controversial new documentary claiming Jesus was never resurrected, and had a son with Mary Magdalene, according to a US report.

    The Canadian filmmaker will unveil three coffins he claims are those of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene at a press conference in New York tomorrow, Time magazine's website said.

    It reported that Cameron and colleague Simcha Jacobovici use evidence from DNA tests, archaeological surveys and biblical studies, attempting to show that 10 stone coffins discovered in a Jerusalem suburb in 1980 by Israeli construction workers, belonged to Jesus and his family.

    Some 20 years later, archaeologists apparently deciphered some of the names on the tombs in the 2,000-year-old cave as Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.

    The 90-minute Discovery Channel film is produced by Cameron and directed by Jacobovici.

    Builders in the Talpiyot were digging the foundations for a new building in the industrial park when the earth gave way and revealed the cave containing the coffins.

    But prominent Jerusalem archaeologist Amos Kloner, who officially oversaw the work at the tomb, dismissed the claims.

    "It makes a great story for a TV film," the professor reportedly told The Jerusalem Post.

    "But it's impossible. It's nonsense."

    Agencies
    It seems that Christians may now have a sigh of relief that their prophet and son of God Jesus does have historicity about him, though this new discovery, if accepted as truth, would question the resurrection theory of Jesus Christ, which is a cornerstone of Christian Theology that seeks to establish Jesus as God. Discover Channel gives a picture of the tomb: http://www.discovery.com/tomb

    There are other news also in this link:
    http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ne...ncl=1113889362

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    Re: Jesus of History

    Here is an account of Swami Vivekananda's opinion about the historicity of Jesus Christ. Curiously, he also has 'doubt' about the historicity of Sri Krishna! Besides, he expresses his opinion that the Christian rituals were derived from the Buddhist's which in turn from the Vedic.

    "Swami Vivekananda on Historicity of Christ"
    From chapter 8 of "Notes of some wanderings with Swami Vivekananda"
    By Sister Nivedita
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/12902445/S...f-Jesus-Christ

    "At that rate, then, you accept Catholic ritual as Aryan!"

    "Yes almost all Christianity is Aryan, I believe. I am inclined to think Christ, never existed. I have doubted that, ever since I had my dream-that dream off Crete!* Indian and Egyptian ideas met at Alexandria, and went forth to the world, tinctured with Judaism and Hellenism, as Christianity.

    "The Acts and Epistles, you know, are older than the Gospels, and S. John is spurious. The only figure we can be sure of is S. Paul, and he was not an eye-witness, and according to his own showing was capable of Jesuitry "by all means save souls" isn't it?

    "No! Buddha and Mohammed, alone amongst religious teachers, stand out with historic distinctness, having been fortunate enough to have, while they were living, enemies as well as friends. Krishna I doubt; a yogi, and a shepherd, and a great king, have all been amalgamated in one beautiful figure, holding the Gita in his hand.

    "Renan’s life of Jesus is mere froth. It does not touch Strauss, the real antiquarian. Two things stand out as personal living touches in the life of Christ, the woman taken in adultery, the most beautiful story in literature, and the woman at the well. How strangely true is this last, to Indian life! A woman, coming to draw water, finds, seated at the well-side, a yellow- clad monk. He asks her for water. Then He teaches her, and does a little mind-reading and so on. Only in an Indian story, when she went to call the villagers, to look and listen, the monk would have taken his chance, and fled to the forest!

    "On the whole, I think old Rabbi Hillel is responsible for the teachings of Jesus, and an obscure Jewish sect of Nazarenes a sect of great antiquity suddenly galvanised by S. Paul, furnished the mythic personality, as a centre of worship.

    "The Resurrection, of course, is simply spring-cremation. Only the rich Greeks and Romans had had cremation any way, and the new sun-myth would only stop it amongst the few."
    *This is the account of Swami's dream:

    In travelling from Naples to Port Said, on his way back to India, in January 1897, the Swami had a dream of an old and bearded man, who appeared before him, saying "This is th island of Crete," and showing him a place in the island, that he might afterwards identify. The vision went to say that the religion of Christianity had originated in the island of Crete and in connection with this gave him two European words, one of which was Therapeutae which it declared, were derived from Sanskrit. Therapeutae meant sons (from the Sanskrit putra) of the Theras, or Buddhist monks. From this the Swami was to understand that Christianity had originated in a Buddhist mission. The old man added "The proofs are all here," pointing to the ground. "Dig and you will see!"

    As he awoke, feeling that this was no common dream, the Swami rose, and tumbled out on deck. Here he met an officer, turning in from his watch. "What o clock is it?", said the Swami. "Mid-night!" was the answer. "Where are we?" he then said; when, to his astonishment, the answer came back "fifty miles off Crete!"

    Our Master used to laugh at himself for the strength of the impression that this dream had made en him. But he could never shake it off. The fact that the second of the two etymologies has been lost is deeply to be regretted. The Swami had to say that before he had had this dream, it had never occurred to him to doubt that the personality of Christ was strictly historic. We must remember, however, that according to Hindu philosophy, it is the completeness of an idea that is important, and not the question of its historical authenticity. The Swami once asked Sri Ramakrishna, when he was a boy, about this very matter. "Don’t you think!" answered his Guru, "that those who could invent such things were themselves that?"
    रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
    ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥

    To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.

    --viShNu purANam

  9. #9

    Cool Re: Jesus of History

    Namaste Satya G and Saideo G,

    but err.. sorry I don't understand what kind of thread is this? And for what purpose.
    JAI DEV

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    Re: Jesus of History

    Namaste Pretnath.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pretnath View Post
    but err.. sorry I don't understand what kind of thread is this? And for what purpose.
    Under the pseudo-secular government ruling India at the Centre and in the States, the conversion activities of Christian missionaries are at their peak, targetting not just the poor and backward caste Hindus but wealthy and educated Hindus too. The net of mAyA they and the western scholars cast is so widespread that many Hindus are led to believe that mainstay popular scriptures like Ramayana and Mahabharata are just mythological stories--not like the Gospel truth of the Bible whose every word about the life of Jesus is true.

    This thread is a repository for the discerning Hindu to understand that Jesus Christ, the supposed founder of Christianity himself is not a historical figure as many Indian and Western scholars are discovering with hard evidence. If the Hindus realize that Jesus is not all that he is made out to be in the Christian scriptures and dogma, and they spread this message to their brethren, then this knowledge would serve as an effective weapon against the onslaught of their religion and culture. So you don't have to take offence at the bare opinions and evidential facts laid out in this thread.
    रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
    ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥

    To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.

    --viShNu purANam

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