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Jewish and Christian Origins

Jewish and Christian Origins

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Published by: Miciagialla on Oct 11, 2010
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  • 1. Personal Introduction
  • 2. A Religion of Puzzlement
  • 3. The Bible
  • 4. The Bible—Absurdities and Contradictions
  • 5. Is the Bible Fact or Fiction?
  • 6. The New Testament—History?
  • 7. Revising the Jesus of History for the Future of Faith
  • 8. The Quest for the Historical Jesus 1
  • 9. The Quest for the Historical Jesus 2
  • 10. Was Christ a Fiction?
  • 11. H
  • 12. T
  • 13. The Gospels 2
  • 15. The Gospels 3
  • 16. Mark: First Gospel or Pious Forgery?
  • 17. The Hellenistic Background to Christianity
  • 18. Summary and Background


Analyzing the Bible Scientifically
Faith is knowing everything.

I. The Origins and History of Christianity Exposing Biblicist Falsehoods
My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the  scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I  shall ever change them.   Abraham Lincoln 

1. Personal Introduction
Christian doctrine is… presented as having such unique authority that it must have been made in heaven  rather  than  being  the  work  of  thinkers  and  negotiators,  in  particular  periods  in  church  history,  and  therefore open to historical criticism and the problems of cultural relativism.   John Bowden, SCM  

© Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Monday, July 19, 1999
• • • • • • • •

Scholarly Integrity   Truth   Pious Lies   Jewish Myth   New Testament   The Fashion for Dying Gods   Gospels   An Honest Religion  


Abstrac ct 
The gent Christian bishops did not tell the truth but d tile n d e deliberately o obscured it. Pious lying i not is simply an ‘aberration of Christia n n’ anity; it is its very found ts dation. These original pi e ious lies wer not re merely w whims of ove enthusiast converts but were de ver tic eliberate dec ceptions need to refut the eded te stories ab bout the rea Jesus that people we bringing back from P al t ere Palestine. Th here never w a was Jesus of f faith until th first Chris he stians invente him by t ted telling pious lies about a another Jesus the us: Jesus of history. Aga the oral tradition w strong an could ne ain was nd either be ign nored nor de denied because too many people were telling the truth. In t lead up to the Jew p e e the p wish War an its nd aftermath many Jew left Palest th, ws stine to join their brothe in the w hers wider empire They knew the e. w story of J Jesus the Na azarene and t told it freely It was a di y. different story from that o the first ge y of gentile bishops.

Scholar rly Integrity 
Certain re eaders of the bible, namely y theologians s, masquerade as historian ns. 


I have be intereste in the orig of Chris een ed gins stianity since the mid 19 e 950s when I was a schoo olboy and the d discovery of the Scrolls by the Dead Sea had st f d timulated in nterest in bib blical studies My s. father ha been diag ad gnosed with tuberculos and had to spend a year in hos h sis spital, event tually having a lung removed before he recovere Being of Irish imm ed. f migrant desce he had been ent, brought u as a Cath up holic but, hav ving met and fallen in lo with a stu d ove ubborn Prote estant woma he an, had decli ined to bring up his chil g ldren as Catholics and h fallen ou with the c had ut church. In th TB he sanatoriu no doub conscious of his own mortality an having lo of spare time, he took to um, bt nd ots exploring various religious alternatives, n g r none of wh hich he fou und satisfact tory. During his g explorati ions howeve he read va er arious books that examin the histo s ned orical origin of Christia ns anity. Amongst them were King Jesus the didac novel by Robert Gr t e s, ctic y raves, The N Nazarene G Gospel Restored by Graves and Podro, T Other Si of the Sto by Ruper Furneaux and a book a d a The ide ory rt about the libera Babylonia Rabbi, Hil the title of which I h al an llel, have forgotte en.


When I cycled the seventeen miles to Ilkley to visit him each Saturday, he would tell me about his week’s explorations and we would discuss them. It was sufficient to ease his conscience about his split with the church but naturally when he recovered, as a working man, he found less time to continue his studies and his interest waned. I too found myself doing school examinations and eventually entering university to study sciences and my interest also waned. It remained but in attenuated form and I would still read popular books about Christian origins from time to time. When I retired from government service the chance arose for me to follow these long suspended interests and that is how I came to write these books. My discoveries astonished me. They seemed so obvious that they quickly led me to doubt the integrity of scholars in the field of biblical scholarship. Trained as a scientist, I looked for rational answers to the questions that arose, but biblical scholars seek to confirm their religious outlook. Experts in biblical studies are usually religious people, whether Christian or Jewish. Those who have no interest in religion turn to physics, molecular biology, music or literature. Though religious people might well opt for any of these subjects too, non-religious students rarely opt for religious studies. The result is that, whereas normal endeavours of life are practiced by a cross section of society in respect of religious views, religious studies are the field of religiously inclined people almost exclusively. So, in biblical studies, a subject that professes to be scientific—nowadays at any rate—the normal checks and balances that allow science to progress do not apply. I speak generally knowing that there are some who try hard to be objective but for most it is either too difficult or they are so indoctrinated in religious belief they do not want to try. Religious experts are consequently far from a fair sample of society. They are biased towards the beliefs they have grown up with and unlikely to question their basic tenets. Quite the reverse, though they profess to be scientific, they are really apologists for their religious view. When astonishing hypotheses are published which cast doubt on the accepted views of the religious experts they will be ignored. This allows biblical scholars to continue in well-paid careers raking over the same muddy spoil and coming to false conclusions forever. Sometimes the same happens in science but there, new discoveries cannot be ignored for long. Science is too big and scientists too diverse for an important discovery to be ignored. What some group would prefer to go away, another group find is just the link or breakthrough they have been waiting for. Essentially biblical research is monolithic. Everyone wants to confirm God’s plan. No one wants to have their lifelong beliefs destroyed. Strong pressures have always existed for biblical scholars to maintain the status quo—their peers who value the sinecures they have, their own careers within this orthodoxy, their belief that Christians are saintly people and do not tell lies except to glory God and their conviction that they could not have been wrong all their lives and the church wrong for two thousand years.


The key to it all is honesty. Sincere Christians are honest people but Christians since the beginning of their religion have not thought it dishonest to tell a lie—when Christianity benefits! This pious lying has become so accepted since the introduction of state education, with its religious emphasis on Christianity, that not only does no one now think it unusual, few people recognize it.

The starting point for the Christians was Jesus the Nazarene who is perhaps the most influential person who has ever lived, even though, in scientific historical terms, little is known about him. Whether this is the power of God at work or the astonishing credulity of human beings is the moot point. The authorized accounts, the gospels, suggest that he was active for between one and three years, and within only two generations of the crucifixion, a Christian group, the Docetists, attracted converts saying Jesus had never lived at all, except as a phantom. It is possible to argue that Jesus indeed never lived but was invented to explain the origins of the belief in a cosmic person called Christ. Yet the gospel stories are not conducive to the idea that the earthly life of Jesus was invented because to have been crucified was a liability to the gentile bishops. It must therefore have been what they had and had no choice about accepting. What they could do was pretend that the stories about Jesus had been confused by their tellers in the confusion of the times. So, we can assume that Jesus did exist, that he was a man of inspiring deeds and a religions leader, that he was crucified, that his followers believed he had risen from the dead and was intending to return to earth in glory. Beginning in Sunday school or in the religious instruction classroom, worthy Christians embellish arguable stories about Jesus as if they were true. No teacher of infants and juniors stops to consider what truth there is in what they themselves know about the founder of their religion and they then compound the felony by painting astonishing fairy tales based on their own conceptions and not on any evidence. None of it matters to Christian teachers who know they are doing God’s work. Psychologically they are telling lies believing it to be God’s truth put into their hearts. Jesus himself justified it when he instructed his disciples in Matthew 10:19:
Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall  speak. 

It differs from having God’s conviction that heretics should burn at the stake only in degree. A mass religious delusion has been created and given social approval. If some pious lie fits the delusion then it is all right by God and society.


There are Christian books purporting to tell the childhood of Jesus, but no one can truthfully say anything positive about Jesus’s childhood. These books seem like novels but their writers, if they claim anything, say they are writing inspired or spiritual history. Novels can be quite instructive and they are intended to be entertaining. A novel can indeed be inspiring but, however inspiring it is, it is not history. Do we “believe in” novels? Christians certainly believe in the inspiration of the spirit or the Holy Ghost. But even the inspired gospels contradict each other interminably. The Christian will consider such pious works of imagination as “God’s Truth”, if it does not contradict the mass delusion of our age. If it does, it will be ignored or decried, according to its importance. Biblical scholars equally build themselves reputations by writing fantasies called doctoral dissertations about a few sentences of some ancient epistle, the significance of the prophet Elijah at the Transfiguration or whether Jesus ascended to heaven after a few days or forty days. Such contributions to knowledge are no different from discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a needle, the example always quoted of how enlightened we now are compared with the middle ages. All of it is dryly accepted nowadays by Christian and secularist alike. The pious dishonesty underlying Christian belief pervades society to the extent that editors, historians, scientists and literary reviewers accept it and excuse it as tradition, if they find an excuse necessary. Practicing Christians in the UK now comprise about a twentieth of the population, but every newspaper will have a “Faith” column devoted to Christian speculations. New Agers, Pagans, Witches, Druids and even Moslems and Hindus do not get this coverage yet together there are more of them than there are Christians. Most people believe in no religion, though many have the habit of answering the question, “What religion are you?” by saying, “Christian”. They run their lives with no recourse to Christianity at all. This is pious dishonesty writ small. It is a legacy of the time when any answer to this question other than “Christian” would have meant a roasting over burning faggots. Or perhaps, like the Romans, people are chary about offending a god.

they destroyed and the rest of it they altered or obfuscated. This one is concerned for truth. and the loss of positive evidence makes speculation essential. but truth is too abstract for him. Christians have over the years been doing what the modern apologists still do. of his “passionate concern for the truth of things and what I would dare to call the love of the God of Truth”. but the fact that I do not believe them makes me a less biased observer than the experts. That makes it hard.6      Religious people will counter me by saying I am being deliberately iconoclastic. Jesus: the Unanswered Questions. and the chief executive of the SCM. John Bowden. in the modern world. SCM. speaks in his valuable book. who is an intelligent and liberal Christian. . It illustrates something about the psychology of Christians. although with rather greater vigour. I find it hard to believe that. Much of the evidence they did not like. 1988. people still believe fairy tales. and he finds the need to personify it into the “God of Truth” for him to really love it! Christians have to personify abstractions to make them real to them and therefore important enough to bother about and they must have the authority of a god behind something for it to count. today to get at the truth. I hope I am. Why cannot the Reverend Bowden train his Christian readers to value virtuous abstractions like truth for their own sake? Without the supernatural floss they might actually get more of a response in this modern age.

Caesar gives a distorted account of the Druids. Christian experts have others tacks available lest anyone should begin to think the Scrolls have any meaning for Christian interpretation. tries to save face by finding excuses for the absurd delay. Christian and critic alike. Yet careful study can reveal what the archivists and official historians have sought to conceal. the expatriate Jewish philosopher. they publish books highlighting the reasons why the sect of the Scrolls has nothing in common with Christianity other than what would be expected of contemporaries living in the same place. We have always had Josephus. Philo. For Nixon. That is just what I was saying above about Christian experts. The standards exist and are just the ones that ought now to be taught whenever the gospel stories are taught—but are not.7        Pious Lies  I was surprised to find the story underlying the Christian religion not hard to discern once it is read critically and with information from other sources. These have proved such a severe embarrassment to the biblical experts that accusations have been made that their translation and publication have been deliberately delayed by Christian and Jewish authorities scared that their flocks might get skeptical. and all that needed clearing up were some confusions which had been accidentally introduced. It is true that it has taken fifty years for the full corpus of the scroll fragments to be released to the general public. Victors do not give objective accounts of their beaten enemies. While suspending the publication of the Scrolls themselves. the traditional sources and the fresh information we have from the Scrolls. the Christian fathers and the Talmud but now we also have the Dead Sea Scrolls. Do not believe it! The story of the founder of Christianity can be told in considerable detail from the New Testament. This is history not faith and it fits into the known history of the times. This latter is the stumbling block for most people. the Romano-Jewish historian. Few people even read the gospels these days but those that do have no comparative historical standards to position the tale they are reading. The problem immediately arises that public records are those which the authorities approve. They are many and widespread throughout the story. They believe they have had the story since the first century when it happened. but everyone. It has been summarized as: History is written by the victorious. Christians might protest that we already know all we need to know about Jesus from the gospels. the Vietnamese were only Gooks—sub humans. Official sources often ignore or give distorted images of whatever they do not like. . The truth is that the confusions are not just incidental. History is taken from contemporary written sources or later accounts.

making liars of everyone ariving from the east. they had not. It was a different story from that of the first gentile bishops.8    The Jewish scriptures. Of course. would you believe? Today historians doubt that the glorious kingdom of Solomon ever existed. albeit suitably altered to fit new notions brought from Babylon. and could accept that the stories had been given the wrong interpretation in the light of bad feeling. Simple denial would have seemed unreasonable. Again the oral tradition was strong and could neither be ignored nor denied because too many people were telling the truth. Their stories were true but in the context of the War and the jealousies of the Jewish Pharisees. For these reasons among others. There never was a Jesus of faith until the first Christians invented him by telling pious lies about another Jesus—the Jesus of history. The New Testament is similar. They knew the story of Jesus the Nazarene and told it freely. but the bishops then deliberately garbled them! They simply changed a few details of the stories and recast them in a more favourable light. . continued to the time of the founders of the second temple—descendants of Zadok. These original pious lies were not merely whims of over enthusiastic converts but were deliberate deceptions needed to refute the stories about the real Jesus that people were bringing back from Palestine. blessed by God. the Old Testament. is not an haphazard compilation of ancient histories collated by God’s will as many believe. They probably played games like the game of consequences just as we do. Few Judaeans then were literate but in illiterate countries the oral tradition is strong. they had been garbled. the Jewish Torah. The indigenous Jews would still have been familiar with the old tales and especially those who followed older non-Yehouist religions for which the traditional stories had mythological value. They had to refute them by pious lying. Central to the ideas herein is that the gentile Christian bishops did not tell the truth but deliberately obscured it. The Pentateuch. The old story of Israel’s liberation from bondage in Egypt was rewritten to climax in the unification of Israel under David and then Solomon who set up the priesthood which. The enemies of Jesus had propagated these tales in the first place to mislead the innocent storytellers. the priests wanted to incorporate the essence of the old tales. in particular was produced by Judaean priests sponsored by their Persian masters as the official law-book of the new Jewish puppet of the Persian Empire. Pious lying is not simply an “aberration” of Christianity. it is its very foundation. many Jews left Palestine to join their brothers in the wider empire. They could not simply deny the stories because there were too many of them and they came from different people. The tack of the bishops was to claim that the storytellers were confused and mistaken. In the lead up to the Jewish War and its aftermath. Such distortions would arise as stories were passed on. It was the official history of the theocracy of Judaea— ruled by the second temple priesthood not by God. The bishops had a problem. The flocks were reassured.

as everyone now knows except Christian teachers. It was created from a number of different sources by unknown editors. Was Moses resurrected so that he could write or finish his books? Scholars hold that the Pentateuch did not achieve its final form until well after the “exile”. Jewish Myth  Christians are told by their lying tutors and priests that the bible tells a story that goes back to the beginning of time and was first set down by Moses around 1400 BC. The content of the books of Kings and Chronicles goes back to about 1000 BC. the Hebrew god. Though it draws upon older material. Moses is supposed to have written the five books of the Pentateuch but they consistently refer to him in the third person and include an account of his own death. All other pious works were rejected. taking stories from earlier idols. of which two of each are present in Genesis. Not . Among the earliest parts of the Old Testament are the creation and flood myths. So why is God. No one now believes it. Yehouah. now considered to be God. The best that can be said is that the bible contains material that is ascribable to Hebrew tradition and no other going back to about 1000 BC. The point of gospel interpretation therefore is to see how a gospel pericope could be reconstructed into something feasible rather than the fantasies invented by the bishops to make Jesus into a superman or even a god. Yehouah. The bible is therefore not as ancient a book as the preachers make out. but to other gods now considered to be devils. They have their origins in earlier Babylonian and Sumerian myths. These older myths did not relate to the Hebrew God. it was written in its present form around 100 BC. Once the habit of pious lying had started it spread rapidly. Idolatry is or was a sin. though it was based on some earlier sources. although again it was re-written around the second century BC. Eventually the church had to call a halt to the burgeoning number of increasingly fantastic gospels that were being written under the name of Gnosticism.9      Old habits die hard. They picked out the versions that they preferred and started the New Testament canon. according to Jews and Christians.

are fairly well attested by external sources. Peter. Solomon. The collection and writing of the Hindu scriptures continued well into the Christian era. Daniel. again as old as the Old Testament sources. which include such epic poems as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. making it probably older than the surmised Old Testament sources. 14:20 and 28:3. None of these can be substantiated. We cannot apply modern standards to the author of Daniel and say he forged the book. There are religious texts written before the earliest parts of the Old Testament. Obscure references possibly to David have been found but their interpretation is doubtful. Certainly Christian scholars are well aware of the practice and even earn their living looking into the practice financed by famous US universities willing to endow such relatively pointless work. but scholars. There is no hard evidence that Moses. Some of Paul’s epistles might have been written by him but they might have been pseudepigraphs written a hundred years later. While the later reigns of the kings. The truth—which is known to any Christian preacher unless he is a Martian—is that no one knows who the authors of these books were. Most scholars are concluding that Saul. around 167 BC. The author pretends he is the Daniel of Ezekiel 14:14. the Hindu Upanishads date from sometime between 1400 and 800 BC. not historical ones. and Solomon and Saul are not mentioned in any archaeological monuments yet found. The books of the Bible are anonymous. Joshua or Solomon are even real people. David and Solomon are mythological figures. writing about 550 BC. Luke. being named simply after the main character and even when the author is named. Nehemiah. If Christian preachers want to make something . including the Bhagavad-Gita as a later insertion. statesmen. Matthew and Paul are claimed by some Christian liars as as authors of the Biblical books. Moses. Their ascription to Jesus’s disciples and their aides is a later Church tradition. Parts of it were written in Aramaic not Hebrew suggesting a time when Aramaic was being used instead of Hebrew and therefore a late date. are just lying to little children who have no way of judging. peasants. the earlier Kings are not. Amos. written during the reign of the Greek king Antiochus IV. The book of Daniel is a pseudepigraph. The Hindu scriptures are a vast body of literature.10    counting apocryphal books. giving them a span longer than the bible. or books under the name of a famous person to give them credibility. about 500 AD. including Christian ones. from the Assyrian captivity of the Northern Kingdom. any honest person would have to consider the practice that was common in those days of writing pseudepigraphs. poets. The gospels are anonymous. possibly as early as 1500 BC. Likewise. Christian Sunday school types also like to impress their impressionable charges by claiming the bible was written by over 40 authors including kings. The Rig Veda dates from before 1000 BC. down to the Babylonian captivity of the Southern Kingdom. is the latest. Daniel. because it was quite acceptable to do this. 400 years later. Joshua. fishermen. but modern Christians who still pretend that the book was written in the Babylonian exile and tell their Sunday school classes so. philosophers. Nehemiah was long thought to have been genuine but not now. scholars and so on. are agreed it was written in 167 BC.

11    of ancient works collected over a long time. John 11:38‐44—Two dead persons are raised (by Jesus himself). is that Christian priests and preachers will use any ploy to impress children and the gullible. How is this harmonious? Even more damning of this lie is that Jesus supposedly abrogated part of the law of Moses (Mk 7:5-9) all of which had been obligatory for the whole of the Jewish scripture. Romans 10:13—Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.   Matthew 7:24. Sexual promiscuity is another example. the Christian bible covers works from about 1100 years of history. Luke 10:36‐37. So. Romans 3:20‐26. in case anyone remains puzzled. And even more so yet.   Matthew 9:18‐25. The Hebrew idea of death originally had no concept of heaven and hell. 13. as Christian teachers persistently do. therefore. Jas 1:17) commanding the Israelites to massacre men. but Jesus says that a man and a woman should cleave together as one (Mk 10:6-12). women. they have always felt that any deception and any lie is forgivable as long as it is to enlarge their own god’s empire of captives. It is another outright lie. the just and loving God of the New Testament (1 Jn 4:8. why do they chose the bible rather than the holy books of the Indian sub-continent? The answer. There are so many more that a great part of Christian “scholarship” is trying to find ingenious ways of harmonizing these discrepancies: • • • • • • • • 2 Kings 4:32‐37—A dead child is raised (well before the time of Jesus). children and infants of the Amelekites. Galatians 2:16—We are justified by faith. This is plain in the scriptures. not by  works. though the Old Testament was really written in the second century BC and the New Testament from about 50 to 150 AD. although the chronology has been mixed up. 2 Peter 3:9. That the ideas in the bible evolved is plain from the bible itself. Christian schoolteachers also tell their little ones that the bible is full of harmony despite its many authors over thousands of years and the difficult matters they had to deal with. to 150 AD for some of the other letters. to claim that the bible was written over a period of thousands of years prior to the gospel evangelists completing the message. and persuade them that their particular choice of god is the only one worth reading.   Matthew 7:21—Not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.   Acts 26:23—Jesus was the first to rise from the dead. New Testament  The books of the New Testament range from about 50 AD for the letters of Paul. and the law of Moses even contained provisions relating to inheritance for the children of multiple wives (Dt 21:15-17).   . It is false. Ephesians 2:8‐9. James 2:24—We are justified by works. Paul the apostle makes it clear that the whole of the law is abrogated (Gal 2:16) for Christians.   John 3:16.   Acts 2:21. To do this.   Acts—2:39 Those God calls to himself will be saved. Romans 2:6. not by  faith. The patriarchs and kings David and Solomon were outrageous in their promiscuity.

The spirits of men or women of power and influence were favoured by Greeks and later by Romans in the cult of heroes. and ready to intervene in human lives. Romans sincerely believed that the gods were sensitive. They just take what they want or what they are taught to take from it and ignore the rest. important to the happiness of family life. They did not need a feeble mortal to defend them. Even sophisticated people became less rational. simple and superstitious peasants. If a republican Roman thought he had angered a god. Those who derided a god were foolish but Romans did not take personal offence if the god was their own—gods could look after themselves. Christians believe a fraudulent book completed almost 2000 years ago but known to be a hotchpotch of incompatible ideas. Christians too lack the capacity for rational thought. the people became absorbed with unusual events. When the Roman Republic became an Empire. indeed it was absurd for a mortal to take up cudgels to defend a god. Mormons plainly lack the capacity of rational thought. The native Romans did not build mythologies like the Greeks and the Egyptians but instead had the simple idea of spirits—everything had its spirit or “numen”. going back to its origins in the Roman Empire and explaining many of the puzzles of the New Testament. If a man offended a god then the poor fellow had better watch out—he’d find his luck was out. They said Orpheus and Hercules were once living men just as the Egyptians thought that Osiris and Isis were the original rulers of Egypt. but they are only unusual in that they believe a recent fake.12    It is not surprising that Christianity is composed of over thirty thousand sects. Mormons accept it as true despite evidence it is a fake. pious lying was the foundation of Christianity. They were tolerant of religious differences and came to enjoy novelty. or worse. A general fear of divine anger not blasphemy invited Roman displeasure with those who taunted gods. any of which can be quoted to establish different points of view. with the supernatural and with mysteries. If they were. It does not matter. The Book of Mormon is studied. inconsistencies and all. What does that make their sophisticated preachers and ministers with their university educations or their radio stations? The Fashion for Dying Gods  So. a complex of myths and legends were attributed to them after they died until they became fully-fledged gods. he would often commit suicide rather than invite a divine response that might destroy his city or ravage it with plague. spread at all? The answer was that there was a religious vacuum in the Roman Empire. partly because they were indifferent to blasphemy. The home and the hearth had their own spirits. built on a supposedly real figure who had to be hidden to be acceptable. But Romans were open minded about religion in a way which we cannot understand. Why though did this strange new religion. . Romans did worry that angry gods might respond indiscriminately and innocent bystanders might suffer. read and believed by millions of people despite being known as an amateurish fake. precisely because the bible is such a mass of contradictions. petulant. all of which can affirm their particular interpretation of Faith with explicit biblical proof texts. but most of them are badly educated. A man had a spirit called his “genius” and a woman’s was called her “juno”. a power for good or ill.

It had begun beyond the Roman Empire in the countries of the Middle East. By the end of the republic Roman religion had ceased to be a religion. in Titus 1:12 and Acts 17:28. magic that made the gods to do the will of the practitioner. In Crete. Persia. Native Roman religion was worthy and pious but totally this worldly. Dying and rising gods were known in Egypt. Augustus. the Babylonian God. highest and greatest—the Cretans. In our chronological reckoning. Romans simply joined the “Good People” (no singular). They were impressed by ancient history. but people sought a way of compelling the gods to help them. the Cretan philosopher wrote in the sixth century BC: A grave have they fashioned for thee. Syria. evil  beasts. idle gluttons. O Zeus. The population was getting more cosmopolitan. was to come to earth as a saviour. had formed the Empire. The Egyptians as early as 2200 BC expected Osiris. People felt dissatisfied and sought novelty in eastern ceremonial. The worshippers wanted to improve their fortune by having a god walking beside them. for in thee we live  and move and have our being. Its festivals had become occasions of state ceremony. Foreign gods interested the Romans because they had powerful spirits and a long history. Saoshyant was the saviour of the Persian religion and Krishna in India had the same role. Epimenides. Most often these were dying gods who had originally signified the annual death and revival of vegetation with the seasons. it was a millennium and similar madnesses have followed each thousand years ever since. the adopted son of Julius Caesar. always liars. Meticulous observation of ritual had always been essential to getting the gods’ favour. . the figure of the dying and the rising god. adopted for Judaism. It paid no attention to an after life because Romans at first had no thoughts of survival of the personality. an empty tomb was displayed as the “Tomb of Zeus”. The site was latterly marked by a chapel to the Lord Christ! Professor H Gunkel traced Babylonian myths in the imagery of Genesis and Revelationin his book Creation and Chaos. But thou art not dead. became fashionable. On death. The stars reflected the actions of the gods and enabled diviners to tell the future.13    Religious tolerance meant they could freely admit and copy other people’s religions.   This poem is cited twice in the New Testament by Paul. Babylonia. Astrology became increasingly popular and the idea that gods lived beyond the stars. probably introduced from the Persians via Babylonia and developed by Plato. Eventually the popular imagination was captured by the idea that the gods loved mankind and sought only to help them—they were saviours! The idea was not new. Phoenicia. and first adopted the Greek gods and then Oriental ones. the god was born again to fertilise the crops and stimulate the reproductive cycle. the spectacular and the supernatural. India. culture more varied and the old religion less attuned to the needs of worshippers. for to eternity thou livest and standest. Marduk or Tammuz. Gunkel sees in the background of the “Servant of the Lord” in Deutero-Isaiah. Like the withering vegetation they disappeared into the underworld where dwelt the dead—they died— then when the onset of summer was signalled at the spring equinox. a saviour described as the “shepherd of his people who shall gather together his scattered flocks and in whom there is no sin”. Theurgy.

The new religion offered itself as Judaism for gentiles and inevitably had early success. it was a religion that began with an ancient book of prophecy which proved that the god. Put bluntly. The new religion was therefore a religion of a god who really had died and there were people who confirmed it—the story told until this day by Christians. Finally. They are admitting the gospels are not necessarily true. This was the holy book of the Jews—the Jewish scriptures—purloined from them by the first bishops to give their new religion a bogus history. Matthew and Luke both used Mark extensively. Let the question of the historicity of the gospels be asked and Christians admit to pious lying. so Christians believe they are acceptable lies. It is no coincidence that. yet another religion arose in the east in which a god died for the sins of mankind. Even more Roman women had attached themselves to the Jewish faith because they had no such worry. Jesus confined his mission in Judaea to Jews. The Logia is probably the earliest constituent of the gospels but we do not have . called the Messiah. the more suspect they are. At the time of Jesus. accept that the gospels were not written as history but to persuade their readers to believe the claims of the church. Today in an equivalent desire for novelty. The bishops had a ready made market for their new religion in the many Romans who had attached themselves to the Jewish religion but were scared to be circumcised—a serious operation for a grown man—as the Jewish religion required. but they are lies intended to convince people Jesus was the divine saviour. Tammuz. They did not tell lies themselves. Jews constituted as many as ten percent of the population of the eastern part of the Roman Empire—the part that had been part of the earlier Persian empire. Osiris. Pious lying added a sense of realism to the event because. Dionysus and Prometheus all were introduced to Rome as new gods and worshipped as divine victims whose resurrection offered salvation for their mourning followers. one at least of which was a collection of wise sayings attributed to Jesus called the Logia—or sometimes just Q. The later these works are. The gospels were not all written at the same time and by independent authors. Few experts disagree that Mark was written first and John last. Gospels  There is no need to suppose that the original followers of Jesus were other than sincere in their belief that he had risen from the dead. they contain lies. Furthermore. but had other sources too. and the first Christians were Jewish. The lies were told by the gentile bishops a few decades later when the Hellenized Jewish believers in Jesus had told some aspects of the story in the Roman empire away from Judaea. Christianity sprouted out of the Jewish community in the Roman world. was expected.14    Arriving from the east. at this very time of change. Adonis. All scholars. Druidism. we find people taking to Buddhism. Then Attis. Wicca. Christians and critics. the confused travellers who told the true story confirmed that it had really happened even though they had mixed up the details. Taoism and even extra-terrestrial religions like Raelism and the disastrous Heaven’s Gate. these religions became common in the east of the Empire then spread west to become popular throughout.

Mark is therefore likely to contain the gospel message in its least elaborated form. Matthew. Eventually scholars like Bultman and the more recent Jesus Seminar almost totally rejected the gospels as history. The narratives of Mark. converted and waited for the angelic host. Mark and Luke. When additions have been made. Better eliminate Jesus all together as a historical . The aim of each editor was to make the story more convincing for potential believers—to add more pious lies to the glory of God. One more point. Nothing happened but stories began to emerge that their dying and resurrected god was really a Jewish bandit. They were false historically but nevertheless true! Some scholars were more honest and rejected all the supernatural events as embellishments. and must have been amazed that many of their flocks believed their excuses. We have to deduce it from Matthew. Often we notice a phrase or a whole passage that puzzles us because it does not fit the character of the Christian Jesus. Christian scholars suspended their reason and. They believed it. They left themselves with only a few of the sayings of Jesus as genuine tradition but the actual context of the sayings was considered irretrievably lost. which is perhaps what they intended. it was written down as the gospels. John’s gospel is too late and elaborated to be a reliable source. If we infer something from Mark or other sources like Josephus or the Dead Sea Scrolls and find support in John’s gospel all well and good.15    it. The need to explain the stories that came from Palestine rapidly gave the new god a history. It did not matter because his return would explain all. accepted the New Testament accounts as God’s Truth. Theologians invented pious lies and have made a profession out of elaborating them. The bishops suddenly found themselves with a large number of cracks to paper over. It follows that they must apply to the Jesus of History. They invented excuse after excuse. The gullible gentile converts had been persuaded that a god had died and been resurrected because the world was soon to be renewed under the direct rule of God. They used the form critical method to judge what was true and what not. taking Jesus to be divine. Now. The earliest text we have in its own right is Mark. thus leaving huge gaps for scholarly speculative theses—provided they did not threaten the Christian consensus. No scholar will deny that the books of the New Testament have been repeatedly edited. Where the other gospels expanded upon Mark. and John were a sort of anti-history—expressions of faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ. sometimes it is obvious because the theology or Christology is too advanced for the time being described and the passage can be disregarded. Such passages must be due to editors failing to rewrite or to scratch out the original. but such elaborations have to be considered with care. Christian punters mainly believe the Christian bible is infallibly true but biblical scholars think most of it is not true even if they are Christian biblical scholars! They threw out the baby with the bath water. Luke. explanation after explanation. No editor would add in a passage that contradicts the Christ of Faith. and beginning with Mark. which should be sufficient for us to distrust it. Christians refer to the author of John as the “Theologian”. they might be drawing on the same tradition and adding to our understanding of it. because they knew or suspected that Jesus was not really what Christians are taught. Previously the new god had had no history. Though they are not historically true.


figure and thereby make him impregnable as a religious symbol than to risk it being proved from some alien source that he was not what Christians have always claimed. Not until Albert Schweitzer (1906) did scholars generally recognised that the obvious was true. If the gospels had any historical value at all, their central figure was in the apocalyptic Jewish tradition. Christians were never pleased with this revelation. After all over a hundred years before Schweitzer, Reimarus had declared Jesus a revolutionary, but that had been ignored. After limply acknowledging Schweitzer for a hundred years they wanted to return to the sagacious old mendicant teacher, kind to children, that they preferred. They are now carrying on in this vein even though the main background to Jewish apocalyptism has been found in the Scrolls of the Dead Sea. Yet simple mendicant country teachers are not the stuff of history. Sages have to have a political role of some sort to be noticed. Scholars failed to consider the political factors of the time that necessitated the involvement of Jesus. Once the political circumstances are understood, the reason for pious lying becomes obvious and the gospels can be explained. I offer the hypothesis presented here knowing that no Christian will take any notice. There is no persuading irrational people as we can tell increasingly at the millennium when bizarre beliefs of all kinds multiply. Those willing to examine a non-mystical explanation of the formation of Christianity through pious lying might find this book satisfying. There is not the least doubt that some Christian scholars know Christianity was built on lies and would willingly allow the Jesus of History to be exposed so that God’s ministers can concentrate on the Jesus of Faith. Perhaps I can be of some assistance.

An Honest Religion 
Faith, Tillich argued, is not belief, it is struggling with the questions. Christianity promises joy and peace of mind, and troublesome questions are not part of the Christian prescription. Christians are relieved of mental wrestling by being taught unquestioning belief, and being given ready made answers. Does not the Holy Book say, “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven?” Goodness is equated with innocence, and Christ himself is depicted as a bemused child, innocently trying to be good in a wicked world. This stereotype is urged on believers. As children, their minds are made up for them, and ministers supply prepackaged values and opinions to do it. Christianity aims to keep its lambs child-like, immature and dependent, the better to shepherd them and fleece them. Christians are taught to see the guiding hand of God in every circumstance. God teaches them lessons through their fate. He punishes them for wrongdoing and rewards them for doing good. No wonder so many people today are criminals—it is rewarding so cannot be wrong! Christianity, for all its concern with free-will, sees people as puppets, and God is the puppet master. Society and ultimately Nature, not God, punishes people for doing wrong, otherwise peoples’ fates fall within the normal distribution of events—some are fortunate and some are not, but most lives are neither one nor the other. The bible is mythical, and when that is accepted its values can be examined with more objectivity and relevance to today. Myths giving people ways of living 3000 years ago are not necessarily any good today, and in practice much of the bible, Old and New Testaments, is


ignored while other parts are arbitrarily considered unviolable. Jesus plainly tells us as graphically as possible that there would be far more camels than rich men in heaven. Though Jesus related mainly to men and could see no merit in being rich, for Christians it is far more important not to be homosexual than it is not to be rich. Religion is a kind of aesthetic experience. Worship is the awe we feel at wondrous things like natural vistas, a storm, beauty, great art or the night sky. Religion exploited these emotions, captured natural awe for its unnatural purpose of propagating falsehood. The mystical and numinous were divorced from their source and presented as evidence of a phantasm instead of our feeling of oneness with Nature. Religion is a creation of human imagination, using human experience of the real world not an imaginary world. Our instinct to be awestruck at natural experience has been hijacked by mental vampires called Christian priests and ministers. Ministers tell us we can have eternal life, and we imagine it is foolish to refuse such an offer. But we pay now and get the goods after we die, when we are in no way fit to complain that we’ve been had. We are persuaded that death is life, and attend God’s house regularly as insurance. Yet, if any minister assures us he is certain of eternal life, he is either deluded or he thinks we are. How can something beyond the reach of the senses be certain? Meanwhile life is a bed of nails for us to endure to prove we merit the reward of eternal life. An honest religion is needed that emphasises the life we have, not some pig-in-a-poke of a life when life is impossible. Any decent religion should emphasise our human potential here and now, the protection of our world for the future of our children and their children, and whatever of the natural world we can still protect for them! Our purpose is not to hope for some selfish if deluded personal salvation of nuzzling up to Jesus when we are dead, but to promote our own role as saviours—salvation of life here on earth while we are alive as our duty not some empty right because we have been foolish enough to believe impossible stories. We should be the saviours, saving our world for our descendants when we die. Most of all, we get one chance only!
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More about Christian Mythology   More about Jewish Mythology   More about Pious Lying   Questioning belief   More about science   More about Mike Magee  

Before you go, think about this…  Ian Musgrave emphasises that ID is a political, not scientific movement. In many ways, it is an anti‐ science movement. People who are interested in knowing more about the ID movement should consult  the US National Center for Science Education’s web site. A detailed examination of the ID movement  and its claims can be found in the book Why Intelligent Design Fails 

Examining the Bible Objectively

18    A fool and his money are an evangelist’s best friends. 

2. A Religion of Puzzlement
© Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Friday, May 14, 1999
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A Religion of Puzzlement   Criticising Christianity   Life after Death   The Existence of a God   Revelation   Christian History   Religious Instinct   Holy Book   Christ or Anti‐Christ?   Truth and Dogma  

Occasionally, religious people feel the awe everyone used to feel, and, because it is now so unusual,  think it is supernatural. Yet, it is the exact opposite—it is entirely natural, although it signals to us the  ‘superness’ of Nature. A belief in God is not necessary for people to be religious. Are Buddhism and  Confucianism religions? They are so described, but Buddha and Confucius were agnostics, and  Confucianism has been faithful to its founder’s agnosticism. Was Stoicism, one of the greatest of moral  systems, a religion? Stoics were indifferent to gods and were concerned only with the life of people here  on earth.  

A Religion of Puzzlement 
What is religion? It is a puzzle. Henri Bergson wrote:
How is it that beliefs and practices that are anything but reasonable could have been, and still are,  accepted by reasonable beings.  

Quite! Today not everyone means the same thing by religion. Many people use the word as meaning any set of personal ideals or beliefs. Thus communism, though atheistic, is called a religion. In its early stages, religion did not have this broad meaning.



Religious thinking is the simplest kind of thinking. It is the thinking of puzzled people trying to comprehend things that they do not understand. Left to themselves, as they learnt more about the world and explained the puzzles of yore, religious thinking ought to disappear and be replaced, first by common sense or intuitive explanations, then by reasoned and ultimately scientific explanations of the world. Unfortunately, people were not left to follow this natural development. Early in history a caste of them saw the value of puzzlement and set out to keep the others—the unsophisticated ones— puzzled. They called themselves priests and they invented gods so that they could control people’s lives. They are still with us doing the same things, and modern people still let them, though they have no proper excuse for doing so—they are mainly not now unsophisticated. Today we are able to choose between facts and rhetoric, between history and mythology, between common sense and religion, between science and obfuscation, and between free thought and enslaving creeds. Unlike other animals we have the power of abstract thought. Why do most of us not use it on the religions which still exist in the West notably “our religion”, Christianity? It is because people are normally brought up conditioned by some religious superstition imposed upon them by their parents through their sense of duty. For centuries, in the West, the superstition that has fettered the human mind has been that of the Christian priesthood. The priest historically claimed a person’s whole life. Scarcely had children entered the world than their will was made captive:
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they lost their freedom in the rite of baptism;   they were taught incredible fairy stories to increase their gullibility;   they were then taught that their personality lived independently of their body in something  called the soul;   this soul could live on after death, but only if they obeyed the priests.  

And so, believing they were to be rewarded for it, they happily accepted the priest’s dogmas as being divine and revealed supernaturally. The majority of people in the western world in the last


two thousand years have thus made themselves slaves to the clerics and the bogus authority of the church. But nobody is forever committed to their parents’ prejudices. If this were so, humans would always have remained in ignorance. Knowledge progresses by each generation adding to the knowledge of the preceding one. Each of us must test our knowledge to determine what we must reject and what we should retain and to dispose of superstitions instilled into us from infancy. Most believers hold to their Christian opinions without so much as an hour’s genuine reflexion on them. The reason is that they dare not. The priests have told them it shows lack of faith and the salvation of their soul depends upon them having faith. There could not be a better confidence trick. The tricked party dare not even start to think it has been tricked. Well it has, and no Christian should worry that their God has forbidden them, on pain of everlasting death, from using the brain that evidently He gave them. Do facts, like natural facts and historical facts, mean anything at all? They do? Then we must apply them to Christianity as to the natural world. Christianity must stand or fall by the facts. Unless the Christian god is the Devil in disguise, no Christian could think God would trick them. We treat Christianity differently from other matters of study in the world because the priests, who want to guard their sinecures, tell us Christianity is different. Christianity should be treated like any other subject—in a strictly realistic manner. We should weigh Christianity critically in the scales of knowledge and the priesthood in the scales of justice.

Criticising Christianity 
A theist is not a deist. Theists believe in God for personal and quite irrational reasons, often an unproven belief in revelation. A Christian is a theist. A deist believes in something divine, but regards all religions as human constructs or frauds. Deists are often labelled infidels, unbelievers, skeptics or Rationalists because they are people who follow reason and good sense rather than tradition or some authority declaring the supernatural exists and effects us all daily. In the last two hundred years, there has been an increasing body of people questioning this authority and its ethical basis, since it is manifestly untrue! A similar thing happened two and a half thousand years ago, in Asia, when beliefs in supernatural entities were getting so convoluted that Buddha in India and Confucius in China urged men to concentrate on human problems and “ignore spiritual beings, if there are any”. The mass of the people took no notice. It was the same in ancient Greece and Rome. The poet Dante tells us that many intellectuals were skeptics at Florence in his day. But they were dangerous times. The stench of burning human flesh pervaded Europe. The Papacy could stand no opposition. The noble Giordano Bruno was burned alive as late as 1600 for teaching an enlightened philosophy of the universe. How many in the seventeenth century knew of the work of Copernicus or Galileo? Few. After a thousand years of absolute domination of Christianity—”the greatest patron learning ever had”,

sultans and czars. This is one of the very important points overlooked by the Fundamentalists. The proper human situation was the republic of of the pagan Greeks and Romans. Skepticism increases as knowledge grows because Christianity cannot be reconciled with recent discoveries. showing that the priestly editors used legends but the vast range of history the books purposrt to cover is not there. money-grubbing protestant ministers. Only charlatans today pronounce the most distinctive dogma of Christianity—eternal torment. and the few books available were full of clerical mendacity.21    Christians tell us—ninety per cent of the people of Europe were unable to read. At the same time. so how are they created by God? Modern history equally cuts out the hand of God from the human record and dispenses with the miraculous. no one was in a position to question their lies. biblical criticism became more scientific—Higher Criticism—a careful study and analysis of original Hebrew and Greek texts. Who but rogues or fools can accept God’s primitive curse on mankind and the necessity of the atoning death of Christ. Yet now many accept the same lies from their weeping. which the church had blessed since it began. . There is some genuine history in them. Protestant Americans were among those who broke the tyranny of the Papacy and laughed at its divine claims. They broke the chains of the slave. and very considerably altered. They maintained that the Church had lied about religion for a thousand years and the world had acquiesced in the deception. Proper historical investigation requires as much skepticism as science to operate successfully. The old creed was based on a conception of the universe which was objectively wrong but right for the church. Today. They tore up all the ancient deceptions. The authority of the Bible they accept evaporates without any assistance from evolution. Adelphiasophists refuse to worship. so we ought to see marked differences in the Hebrew text of the different biblical stories. The books are quite uniform in style. Science and history are one. there is again healthy skepticism toward religion. bloody sacrifices and bells obliging people to make their due attendance at church. and supernatural revelations. by the Jewish priests a few centuries before Christ. Genesis is historically untrue as well as scientifically untrue. Adelphiasophists deplore blood. Persistent attempts to stem the tide of disbelief by banning evolution from schools is only the latest example of how the church has forced ignorance upon the world. all put together. because worship was the oriental flattery of potentates. When only the clergy could read. largely in Germany. if they were genuinely old books. Species can be seen evolving. History is the scientific investigation of the story of man. At once the Hebrew text of the Old Testament was shown to be a compilation of fragments of books of very different ages. The church’s lies were questioned in proportion to the degree of universality of education and of printed books. differences signifying only a few hundred years at the most in the different redactions. so the Protestant Americans smashed the divine right of kings. Just as we can easily tell the English of the tenth century from that of the fifteenth or the nineteenth.

philology.. the typical Fundamentalist dismissal. Protestants took to this myth even more than the Roman church. The biblical myth of the Tower of Babel was therefore. even non-Christians today. and the stories of creation. So. all of them speak about “the Word of God” as if ancient Babylon had never been uncovered. They are not concerned to preserve souls but to preserve the weight of their wallets. of the garden and the fall. basing his famous Christian epic on the pagan poet Virgil. They are not “mere hypotheses”. most of these fundamentalist believers would stick to Genesis as God’s revelation. Yet the implications of evolutionary theory were greater. . yet the churches prescribed that all the world was in darkness until Christ. in a series and realised that even Christianity evolved. correspond perfectly with the stories reproduced in Genesis. Egypt’s many gods and goddesses had even evolved into ethical monotheism in which the god Aten or. They were biblical so-called revelations written in tablets of clay! And the rulers of this “primitive immoral pagan” country drowned people in the river for adultery and burned men alive for rape! Their account of the origin of the universe and of man emerged from the mud and astonishingly showed that Genesis is a collection—altered to suit Jewish monotheism—of legends going back several thousand years. quite rightly. of the first human pair. Experts on the science of comparative religion arranged all the religions of the world. language was known to have evolved. Nothing was more damaging to biblical revelation than the discoveries of the same legends in pre-biblical Babylon. They know of these discoveries but pretend to their distinctly stupid followers that they do not exist. including Christianity. Hindus and Persians—were related to each other. If people evolve from an earlier form. as being largely pagan anyway. a myth so widely accepted that few people. Dante recognized the greatness of ancient Greece and Rome. Even if the evidence was dropped into their laps.22    One of the untruthful and unsound aspects of church propaganda was a contempt of all things Pagan. Every fine sentiment in the New Testament has a parallel in the words of Plato or the Stoics. archaeologists found an immense literature and the Babylonians’ code of laws. No Fundamentalist admits to the dimmest notion of what scholars have long known about Babylonian stories being in Genesis. One of the earliest branches of science in the nineteenth century was the science of languages. just a myth. The story of creation. would demur. when does the soul evolve? The tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues offered another ground for disputing the biblical explanation of things. later. and of the deluge. fall and deluge were not just ancient legends. The first scholars to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs were astonished to find that the ancient pagan kingdom had been deeply religious and proper in moral terms. Amun-Ra was thought of precisely as people today think of God. which they regarded. Before species were known to have evolved. In ancient Babylon. Many are not stupid. Scientists found that the languages of widely different nations—such as most Europeans..

Shallow thinkers. The history recorded in Deuteronomy. people should be asking sensible questions about how we are treating the world and its creatures. they pronounce. These men who tell us to be honest must be honest to us. inquisitive thinkers. When they say science is not opposed to religion. What then is original sin and the need for atonement? Christianity is an ethic. Some scientific men throw as much dust in the eyes of people as Fundamentalist preachers do. These are supernatural phenomena and science studies phenomena in nature. Clear. The prophecies were not prophecies. “Science is not opposed to religion”. inevitably reject Christianity. are hopelessly divided as to what kind of a God we may believe in and the reasons why we should believe. Judges. who constantly ask why. . They retain a book known to be full of pious forgeries—lies in truth—to make us believe in God. the men who ought to know most about it. Philosophers. History. surely! Because Christ remains as the prophet. A few preachers say that they surrender all these things. including ourselves. Yet nothing in this ethical code seems originally and peculiarly Christian. Chronicles and the prophets is full of errors. The reason is that the Bible is not a science or history book. who mistake insincere sentimentality for natural love and concern. Science is not concerned with God and immortality. philosophy. Instead of wasting their time asking fatuous questions about God. God is the most disputed element of all religion. the fall and the flood. common sense—all that we know and the best that we have thought—will tell us that priests have been lying for centuries. the Garden of Eden. demand proof and live in the real world not a fantasy world. science. but it does not look much like old Christianity. In so doing. and how can twentieth century society benefit from pasoral oracles of two thousand years ago? Why should anyone look for social guidance to a prophet who thought that the end of the world was at hand? The third and chief element of the new Christianity is God. and the New Testament was written so many decades after the death of Christ that an historian would not regard it as a reliable biography. It is idle therefore to consider whether science is consistent with God. they surrender Adam and Eve. and it is the most disputed and disputable of the three. It was written to make people believe in God. because they use their authority as scientists to give what is no more than their personal belief that the facts brought to light by science are consistent with religious beliefs. they say. The early chapters of the Old Testament consist of legends taken from the Babylonians. The Old Testament was compiled and conflated with pious fiction a few centuries before the birth of Christ.23    Modern Christians take the Bible as an inspired book or a revelation only in a dilute sense. Kings. cling to traditional belief. The majority of them refuse to believe in a personal God. the miracles were not miracles. they mislead. On that they have no authority at all. so why keep the name? Not pure opportunism.

Can anyone figure out any form of immortality that might be plausible? The “soul” which is supposed to be immortal is itself nothing more than a myth. and indeed it becomes more unreasonable the more one reflects upon it. unsolved questions remain but so far there is no need to imagine that the methods of natural investigation will not produce answers. if God is good. because the creation of the god has then to be explained. he could not have made mankind incapable of sin. then. having lapsed in the standards of the Almighty and incurred his displeasure. one might find plausible arguments for the existence of a God— the need for a creator. There is no reason in nature for immortality. Naturally. The wish for immortality is nothing more than the other vain wishes that men have. But as we satisfy ourselves with nuggets from the goldmine of knowledge. What happiness is there in the doubt that their departed lovers. Supposed evidence is all anecdotal and invokes the most primitive ideas of superstition. design in nature. It is not parsimonious and it is not an explanation. who know no more about the mystery than they themselves. Not so much as a pin-point of reproducible evidence in proof of any life after death has been presented. we constantly reveal new lodes . rather than enjoying the balmy plains of heaven where we hope to meet them again. Anyone of a skeptical bent would still not be satisfied. merciful and omnipotent. They assume too much and should think again. the necessity for a hell would not have arisen. Why do so many people stake their happiness on a transcendental future which might not exist instead of fulfilling the possibilities of this life which we know exists because we experience it daily? Asked to reject future life—the idea of the extension of the personality into the future—some people find it hard to accept they will not meet again those they have loved in the present life. and the like. Why not accept that the personality dies with the body just as the original loss of the loved one when they died had to be accepted. a legislator to decree the “laws of nature”. Should we believe in the supernatural because it gives us comfort in bereavement or because charlatans preying upon our grief assure us it is so? The Existence of a God  By reason alone. ghosts and portents. Science gives natural explanations of these things and supernatural explanations have become pointless except as moral tales. for. Postulationg a creator only suggests a greater mystery. The way of all life is toward death. Those who accept the belief in immortality do so simply on the word of others. however.24    Life after Death  Take the idea of immortality. Death is the irrefragable ultimate fact. If we concede for the sake of argument that this “evidence” can be weighed in the balance. it has to weigh heavily in the face of the remaining 95 percent of evidence that tells us that our personality ceases when we die. children and friends—good as they seemed—might have finished up in the eternal fires of hell? Can they be happy to imagine their loved ones minute by minute burning in hell. We are entitled to wonder why.

Two of the loftiest ethical systems in history—the Stoic and the . ignorantly stressed by some preachers but there is also a lot of deliberate misrepresentation. impiety and a low. Only from a careful study of the Goddess in her many ramifications has a coherent. philosophy. We regard Nature as a goddess. A mature. untramelled by having to root it in reality. you will get no meaningful answer. We can resolve to preserve her for others and not neglect her as unimportant or even destroy her because she is derogated as a “Vale of Woe”. to the spread of knowledge of our situation that we might enjoy future happiness not misery or extinction. let us dedicate our lives to the interests of this world. ensconced somewhere in a transcendent dimension can. to social cooperation and cooperation with the other species which share the planet with us. We can treasure her as the womb within which all living things are developing. No divine whim can change the local laws of mechanics. or rather you will get as many answers as people you ask. We must transfer our allegiance from God to Goddess. convincing picture of the universe and the evolution of life emerged. The defenders of Christianity have had to rely upon glaring falsifications of Pagan beliefs. Is it more foolish to worship a tyrant of a father consciously judging and punishing. unblessed state of being.25    beyond. intelligible view of things has replaced theology. but because she gives birth and succours—her primary attributes are motherly. willy-nilly alter her laws. not one tenable argument for belief in God has yet been dug up. the only true life coming after death. Why then do they insist on libelling Paganism. and obeying the selfish motive of desire for future salvation in a transcendental heaven. Even a moderately intelligent priest must learn enough about the Classical and Hellenistic periods to briefly glimpse their art. Since the Renaissance. Meanwhile. yet to be mined. to the study of natural science so that we can understand how we are affecting our environment and preserve it. But it is no more foolish to adore the glorious and beneficent sun than to adore a being who exists only in the human imagination. Instead of wasting our time and energy in contemplating and appeasing a fictitious deity. more truthfully. If you ask a clergyman where this Almighty exists. Yet we can see Nature all around us and marvel in awe at her beauty and complexity. and hold up their hands in sanctimonious horror at the worship of natural objects. This false picture is innocently or. not because we belief that she is a sentient giantess living somewhere in the sky or in another dimension. culture and orderly social life. the growth of science has led to a new appreciation of Nature and a growing rejection of the view that a supernatural king. or Nature personified as a mother because she constantly gives birth to the beauty of our world and rewards us with all the joys of it? To this day in familiar Christian rhetoric the term “Pagan” connotes immorality. to the development of the neglected intuitive and creative aspects of our being rather than only seeking knowledge through destruction. the infantile game of inventing whatever explanation is convenient.

would it be expecting too much that it should be done in a sufficiently clear and unmistakable way that it would seriously challenge our disbelief? That has not happened. It rests only on the inspiration of the bible—a collection of Jewish legends. even if it exposes Christianity in a bad light. We want the truth. Revelation  We want a comprehensible. an understanding of the way men lived and what their ideas meant to them. that it burst suddenly as a brilliant. stems directly in an unbroken and uncorrupted line from these divinely inspired. and that Christianity. shows it to have been an influence hostile to civilized aims and contradicts the false history with which Christianity has sought to justify itself. wretched rule of faith. a knowledge of the genuine character and influence of institutions. however much it is opposed to reason. No bad spirits make anyone ill or wicked and no pious appeals to good ones will make the least difference. beautiful light upon a world all in darkness. an invisible fetish established for the benefit of the Jewish clerical caste returning from bondage in Babylon. that with speedy and singular unanimity the world accepted this truth. Miracles add as much to the wonder of nature as a plastic doll does to motherhood. By the middle of the nineteenth century the world had only reached once more the level of civilization at which the Pagan world stood when Christianity came. We want complete living history (as nearly complete as scholarship can make it) and not an imperfect skeleton made up partly of invisible bones called “spiritual”. We are bid to ask no questions because doubt is sin and so we must believe to be saved. Is there any truth in Christian revelation? And. self-evident and undisputed teachings of Jesus. Christianity was the work of men. further. we are required to accept whatever the priests say. If a revelation had been made to the human race by a divine and almighty being. and snap the rod of hell so long laid across our backs. we find that the Christian myth is based on no valid evidence. The divinity worshipped by the churches is an imaginary figure. It does! The simple idea of the average Christian is that Jesus gave the gospel truth to the world. It is time to cast off the bondage so long imposed upon us. bringing not light but darkness. and science. and it was worked into something . Instead of being furnished with proofs. and subsequently maintained by the Christian priesthood for the same ends—subtle control of people and the wealth it brings. As for culture. has any revelation of a supernatural character ever taken place? On examining the alleged revelation. Faiths and dogma is not inspired. Nothing has been supernaturally revealed to Christian bishops. realistic picture of the religious past.26    Epicurean—were Pagan. and all the fine and interesting and orderly things that make a civilization. Morals were far higher in the Greek-Roman world than they were in Christian Europe for centuries after the fall of ancient civilization—as high as morals are today. as a system of doctrine. Nature. the Pagan world was brilliantly superior to Christian times throughout the weary.

Christians would be upset if they read Firmicus’s book. incense and sacred water were part of the ritual. whose birth was celebrated every year. religious myth and rituals evolved just as species. Firmicus concluded that the devil had inspired these things to pagans before Christ was born to show that Christianity was not unique. often in midwinter. bread and wine were used at the altar. like Frazer. There is a science of religion. Religion has for so many years commanded such a part of human life that it is a valid subject for scientific study. evolved. and some experts. jealous and liable to cast them into the pains of hell. Like other Christians. Until evolution was discovered in the nineteenth century. the death and resurrection of the gods were celebrated. who wrote down all he knew about the pagan religions in The Errors of the Profane Religions. In some of these religions. Many of the pagan religions of the Roman world had saviours or redeemers. and candles. have devoted their life to studying the origin and development of religion. often about the time of our Easter. or comparative religion. It is ridiculous to say discoveries in religious history have no bearing on the truth of religion. “The devil has his Christs!” Fermicus pronounced. They apologize for applying the scientific spirit to so sacred a thing as religion! They beg us to understand that they have no opinion on the truth or value of religious beliefs. were suppressed by law after the Christian victory in the time of Constantine. that creeds. Why should beliefs be considered independent of the reasons that they arose? If we discover that . especially false beliefs. Some people fear lest. Such purely selfish motives to right conduct ignores the welfare of our fellow creatures. Christian writers do not tell us much about them except for Firmicus Maternus. vindictive. came from God. Science is the accurate and critical study of anything that exists. are too timid. and indeed the whole cosmos. and their dread of losing heaven and life everlasting. All evil things. Unfortunately Christian “scholars” all too often enter the field to create as much fog and obfuscation as they can in an attempt to preserve an illusion that evolution is mistaken and revelation is a fact. not revealed by God. came from the devil. All good things. but merely study it dispassionately. people would choose to do as they liked giving way to debauchery. They bend over backwards to placte the mullahs of the world whether they are Moslem or Christian. especially all true religion. the desire to please our fellow-men and make others happy. if the Christian myth were discarded. Moral ideas which Christians suppose to have been revealed through Jesus are of far greater antiquity than they suppose. Firmicus gives us evidence otherwise destroyed by Christians. Most writers on the science of religion. in the first few centuries AD. creation was divided between God and the devil. and every year. a Father of the Church. and the preservation of the beauty and diversity of our world. But this fear suggests improper motives for goodness—people’s fear of offending a god who is cruel.27    quite different from the Jewish message of Jesus. The doctrines and practices of the old religions of the Roman world.

However. The hunter-gatherers also changed little. Thus science can build up an edifice of knowledge but it is impossible to demolish a mirage or illusion. pushed an earlier breed into marginal lands. why should those. because a general philosophical principle is that it is impossible to prove a negative. Small numbers moving around large land masses hunting and gathering. And. or even in the few tens of thousands of years of pre-history. Priests and their acolytes begin with knowledge and demand that it should be falsified. Tens of thousands of years ago people began to carve figures. We are flattering ourselves. Christians will tell us that the scientist knows no more about God than a believer. The South American Inca people seem abject today. They buried their dead. it seems that this breed of Indians that entered America from Asia. despite their salvation. Physical evolution is not that fast. That is true too of human beings. it is merely a form of hypnosis and the real benefactors are the evangelical sellers of this salvation. It is common to call each conquering people superior because. but it is safe to say . Dealing with facts. in ivory and stone. suggesting that their friends and relatives thought they would have need of them or would appreciate them after death. the scientist can show that they are or are not consistent with certain beliefs. sometimes with stone implements and ornaments round the body. not its cause. lived in a stable and essentially unchanging environment. Animals or plants need to change only when their conditions change. animals can change their own environment just by being there and that is what humans have done. Ultimately they had to respond to each other and history as opposed to natural history began. But that is the psychological result of the conquest. as populations slowly grew and seasonal patterns of living evolved. It often seems that conquered pwople are inferior because they finish up abject. yet 500 years ago they were a noble race of conquerors themselves. who always get rich faster than anyone else. It is the priest that is on firm ground to the ignorant observer. despite this knowledge. and these might have been religious in purpose. command our respect? Our beliefs are worth no more than our reasons for believing them. we are the outcome and so we must be the top of the tree.28    a belief is based on an error or a fraud. humans began to change the world in which they lived and they had to respond to that. Evolution does not mean that every living thing continues to evolve. Successive waves of conquerors were not superior human beings. in general. but if the reprobate is happy to believe despite the facts then science can do nothing more. but were human beings with superior weaponry or better organisation. Anyone coming freah to religion should be aware of these simplicities. to propagate the error or fraud. though they might find emotional satisfaction on the thought that they have been saved by Jesus. However. Proofs have to be positive. The implication is that these people believed in an after life. Knowledge was the key. or whatever. but that is not true and shows that the believer hasn’t the least idea about science! Science happily begins with ignorance and demands proof. often of pregnant females. who continue. it is not a question of intelligence because there is little or no evidence that the intelligence of humans has altered significantly in the few thousand years of history.

severity and barbarism of the wars that we wage. it was not. or even suggested. Had it not been for the . The development of weapons. especially in the USA where right wing churches still have political influence. for example. and the burning of dissenters. history. History vividly exposes the intellectual obscurantism and tyranny of the church. the church has supported every social evil—monarchy. In morality. Christianity is the enemy of the Goddess. quite ignoring the scale. not the best (and poor enough) arguments for God and faith and “the religious sense” of mankind. No doubt. regarding knowledge as having the potential to undermine its authority. empty. and still grafts for laws to be passed in its favour by governments. yet will learn no lessons and take no actions. of houses. ethics. On its record. does the Christian want to suppress it? No Christian in these liberal and liberated times will admit to wanting to suppress or alter history. Church antagonism to knowledge operates still. and not on any objective grounds. And the fine claims made of Christianity are false. politics—it obscures. Science. corrupts and reduces to nonsense any subject it touches. but rather the opposite. slavery. What has the church contributed to civilization? In what field of life does the church usefully instruct or guide us? The church is the enemy of knowledge. Give us history truly and unsparingly and let Christians respond. They will say that the wolves came among the sheep. Mere argument offers the possibility of endless slippery evasions and distortions. Christianity has been at war with Nature and humanity throughout most of its history. It shows that the church thinks knowledge is bad for religion! The church is the enemy of learning. Christian History  Has the Church been friendly or inimical to truth. and that simply because we are later and evolved in circumstances favourable to developing an aggressive and highly co-ordinated culture. yet the churches did and still do. the oppression of women and the exploitation of child labour. can stand defensibly against the actual record of the Church and the working of Christian policy. It continues to attack the teaching of evolution. but the facts of history are commanding and unanswerable. The church is of no benefit to the educational life of humanity. Moralists freely condemn tribal cultures for being cruel and warlike. justice and liberty? If investigation proved. Some indeed have been the church’s own—the imposition of bigotry. of art. The study of the evolution of moral ideas shows no particular progress. the Church is condemned. from stone to bronze and iron. Not all the theological solemnity and dexterity in the world. of clothing. The church promotes and shores up decadent. racism. presumed to be the best. We can play games at categorising people according to the degree of development of their culture. but all we are doing really is arranging human cultures in relation to ourselves. literature. it is God’s will. and so on is not particularly accompanied by any better practicing of rules forbidding murder.29    that we are superior only in technology not in mental power. nationalism. and absurdly unscientific notions. Knowledge has been gained through secular agencies—unsurprisingly because the church has never been concerned about discovering knowledge. On its record.

vaguely. considering its enormous power. commision. Only priests and evangelists ever got rich through worship of a supernatural being. knowing the truth only in outline. Some. with its harsh customs introduced for a long forgotten purpose. In recent centuries. Think of the astonishing effrontery of this claim when we commonly and correctly identify by the name “Dark Ages” the dismal. it is through movements outside of the church. It has negligible social use except for keeping some bigots wasting their time on ritual matters rather than torching people they do not like. Even today. obsessed with “sin”. humanity. Priests supported kings in keeping men bound to tyranny and superstition. . The church has been a burden to humanity. they shrug it off. humanity would today be farther advanced towards a civilised way of behaving. Some. The average man knows. giving us democracy whereby the authority to make and execute laws proceeds from the will of the governed not from the king of kings in heaven. Nothing could be more grotesque than the effort to make the Church appear today as liberal.30    onerous influence of the church. The church’s pronouncements on morality have always been weakened and made futile by its refusal to accept that morality is human—a worldly concern—not one of any supernatural father. vaguely know that the history of the Church is superstitious. which merely means whatever his priests decide is disadvantage to his worship—or rather theirs. scientific achievement—in almost anything that has improved living—have been the efforts of people who have been wise enough and strong enough to throw off the medieval yoke of the priesthood and their supernatural threats—priests like street corner beggars who demand money for supposedly cleaning your windscreen. it struggles to preserve the vestiges of primitive theology. slaves in the mightiest country in the world were not freed until a hundred or so years ago and had no rights until only decades ago. bloody and ignorant centuries of Christian supremacy! If the Church ever tried to help progress. that monstrous crimes have flourished in the name of Christianity. and insincere apologies have obscured the force of the historical truth. indeed usually facing the opposition of the church. The church has always resisted movements for freedom and consideration. know it but. the powers of kings have been taken from them. The church has contributed nothing except harm to civilization. evasive replies. polite excuses. Freedom of thought and life was incompatible with every dogma of the Church. This record is not uncertain. If God has fed the hungry. cruel and intolerant. humanizing and uplifting when in history the sharp and terrible contrary was the truth. with the growing strength of the merchants. That the struggle for freedom has been a struggle against Church and State is known vaguely. If it has improved its own outlook compared with its worst days. It is time the mythology about churches was exposed. but really for not trashing your car. Nor is prosperity the child of prayer. social law. Yet omission. Liberation is not the reward of the humble. then it was strangely incompetent and ineffective. Gains in culture. perhaps many. But we know that the Church was not progressive. who have not studied extensively. Though slaves were freely accepted into the congregations of the first gentile Christians.

Pre-Christian Pagans were fortunate in having a number of gods instead of one terrible.31    again it is little more than a hundred years ago that millions died of starvation in the lesser but more Christian of the two British Isles while Christian bishops. Such men as Calvin and Luther and Knox were not interested in liberty. As Christianity declined. Protestants were pawns in the easing of the bonds of Christianity. . in free institutions or in free progress. avowed skepticism. Yet. invention and the growth of secular life. When Christianity flourished people were abject. they wanted to assert their own dogmas. eating bread made of flour exported by the starving Irish. The historical indictment of the Christian religion is clear and forcible. The struggle for human rights was fought by skeptics and liberals. richer age we live in today compared with the height of ecclesiastical power in the Middle Ages. Tolerance. against the bitter opposition of the Church. Christianity in the modern world has not reformed but has been restrained. It was dogma eat dogma until. the Church cannot enforce its dogmas with dire threats and penalties that were once all too common and deadly real. the status of people improved in inverse proportion. dogmatic. or even a judicious silence to give the appearance of belief. Better have many gods and many priesthoods all vying with each other. jealous God manipulated by a single caste of priests. believing the Reformation successfully distinguished sheep and wolves. resisted calls for poor relief in the House of Lords. Christianity in its heyday exceeded other religions in intolerance and psychological tyranny over society. In a liberal world. The Church today is reformed because it is weaker—it cannot compel belief. Christianity is less evil today only because it has been hobbled. Protestantism as a purely religious phenomenon would have disappeared but it was a reflexion of a much wider movement of trade. dogmatic and punitive as Catholicism and only arose because of a wide movement for liberty of which it was one of the effects. exploration. freer. then poor humanity has a chance of seeing them all as the fakes they are. eventually they settled on a truce and let bigots be bigots. Modern Christians say this is only history—a reflexion of general ignorance. Protestantism is as illiberal. humanistic culture and a power of free speculation flourished under Paganism that was only matched in the modern age. Protestants place the burden of guilt wholly upon Catholicism. which allied itself stubbornly with the forces of reaction. The Reformation of church ritual and livery was only the outward challenge to its bigotry and superstition that had held Europe in check for a millennium. The Church deserves few thanks for the brighter. None of them believed in free thought. Evidently it did not since some of the most represive and superstitious of churches now are Protestant. Christian fanaticism still has political power in moralistic legislation such as the illegal acts of opposition to abortion laws. It has been the most hostile to culture. Hellenistic civilization was not dominated by an absolute religion as was medieval Europe by Christianity.

How did man come to be religious? Was be always religious? What forms of religion have appealed to him and why? There is nothing mystical about it. Intelligent examination of a subject can only begin by tracing how it evolved. Nature sets us in time and nothing can happen in an instance. They are not religious but have become time servers or pretenders. Pagan culture has given us more useful things than “Christian culture”. As human beings developed their powers of observation and their ways of thinking. Ask most Christians what religion is. more refined.32    Religious Instinct  We have outgrown every excuse for superstition. the nightmare. the true relations of Christianity and morality. become less crude. to last forever. like morals and government and war and industry. At one time humans had no religion. Religion is an abstract conception and early people had to begin thinking concretely before they began abstract thinking. it is the exact opposite—it is entirely natural although it signals to us the superness of Nature. and finally more enlightened. the annual birth and death of vegetation. religion grew by people drawing wrong inferences from observed facts�the shadow. and we should certainly expect that as humans grow in knowledge their ideas would. memory of ancestors. disease. they longed to make sense of the world. Certainly a belief in God is not necessary for people to be religious. has been produced by natural conditions. the dream. Christianity and government and Christianity and culture. like all things good and bad. and a theoretical acceptance of certain moral obligations. Are Buddhism and . People have a natural awe of the world we live in. the rain. Do we have a “religious instinct”? From the beginning. Awe is essential to “religious” people but not foremost in a Christians’ characterisation of religion. but is it a requirement of the religious? Spiritualists are religious but they are not in awe of the spirits they claim to contact. irrespective of whatever new is meanwhile discovered. During the long medieval night there was no “Christian culture” worthy of the name. even the superstitions of classical Paganism that allowed such an astonishing civilisation to grow as that of the Greeks. because it is now so unusual. It has evolved. the sun and moon. All thought is a recollection of moments. One sees that religion. and they will answer. Occasionally they feel it and. Yet. death. Progress was made in liberating the human mind from misty. Admittedly. Even so. think it is supernatural. occasional attendance at church. correct belief. It was a form of primitive science until the priests got hold of it and set these naieve and fearful explanations on tablets of stone. but nevertheless it must be there for the truly religious. That people still adhere to these simplistic ideas when they have plainly been long superseded only proves one thing—most humans are mentally still extremely primitive animals. From beginning to end religion is an explanation or interpretation of obscure and dark things. even if only incipiently. the movements of wind and river. religion is no longer an emotional reaction to the world or the phenomena of nature. confused dogmas when people began to examine the evolution of Christianity—the actual way religious policies worked. the reduction of people to cogs in the social machine has taken away much of the awe we used to feel. Thinking can hardly begin without the history of an idea. For most Christians.

Persia. but Buddha and Confucius were agnostics. The new rulers wanted to justify their actions and introduced gods after their own image—warlike. as “proofs” of its divine origin and sanction. Holy Book  Defenders of Christianity have most cherished. Nor is its divine origin attested by any reliable evidence and indeed its purely human development can be clearly traced in the older religions of Babylonia. inspired from heaven. Often these spirits were considered as female and ultimately the whole of Nature was conceived of as a goddess. the goddess was doomed. called warriors and priests. When physical and mental bullies. child rearers and a source of intuitive wisdom. hoping to win it over to their benefit. Though primitive people had more experience of Nature than do modern people. This inherent reaction to the wonder of life is praised by priests as the human “instinct” for religion. superior to Nature. saints. The . introduced monotheism 1500 years earlier. as his royal court. along with the other myths. Yet its originality is non-existent. Yet. is that it gave monotheism to the world. Monotheism was never really that but the elevation of one god to the supreme throne accompanied by the relegation of rival gods to demons or angels or. through animism and ancestor worship. demons. from the idea of many gods to the idea of one God. priestcraft and creed. humanity came to patriarchal religion. Morality was expressed as total obedience. Priests tell us that a virtue of Christianity. an instinct they used to lead us into emotional tarpits like the foolish and contradictory notions of Christianity. Yet the Egyptians under Akhenaten. the Bible’s originality. cribbed and fibbed to make the biblical melange. Nevertheless they respected it and. a myth. and humans were careful not to offend the goddess through their actions. singularity and virtue. This was when human societies were in awe at the wonder of childbirth and valued the contribution of women to society as gatherers. they did not understand it. father or brother of king Tut.33    Confucianism religions? They are described as such. not now to the requirements of Nature. but to the supposed commands of the absolute Lord. men and Nature. leading to pantheons and hierarchies and ultimately to the ideal god as an absolute monarch over lesser gods. one of the greatest of moral systems. angels. realized that they could take what they wanted by force or superstition. From this original feeling. When warlords conquered other peoples they subjected their gods to their own. and Confucianism has been faithful to its founder’s agnosticism. a religion? Stoics were indifferent to gods and were concerned only with the life of people here on earth. from the earliest ages humans have believed in the supernatural. Nature itself was supernatural—in the sense that it was inexplicable—to primitive people. cunning and vengeful. Egypt and the mystery religions of the Roman Empire. Was Stoicism. Indeed most ancient civilisations were effectively monotheistic because each race of people thought their own god was the God. personified it as a variety of spirits guarding each feature that impressed them. nowadays.

except unusually. rather. but laws depend upon people actively obeying them. Even educated Christians consider ignorance as bliss when it comes to the sources of their beliefs. To speak of Christianity and education in the same breath is risable. for few scholars would disagree. Moreover. they were more predisposed to . far from owing this to Christianity. Christianity was reluctant to grant them the useless bauble that it peculiarly valued. or. it would come in the next! When people were taught this myth from an early age. that was contradictory in its different parts. The Old Testament is a work of “priestly forgery”. it is in itself an indictment. thought religion was invented to help rulers to rule by stabilising society. Sodden serfdom was the rule. Christ or Anti­Christ?  The Greeks. could we believe that it was really divine? Yet these are just the characteristics of the Holy Bible. according to Plato. but seeing everything that went on. if they do. Christianity supposedly brought relief for the workers. The last and most stubborn claim of Christianity is that. The Church was indifferent when not actively opposed to such reforms. It is gods or God. when one reflects that illiteracy prevailed almost entirely during centuries of Christian power. it has been a great purifying. legends and moral codes. that was unscientific and that featured horrible people as rolemodels. poverty and degradation. gods were immortal so whatever they saw could not be forgotten. Humanity has consistently found Christianity a dragging rather than a lifting and liberating force. Hoi polloi might not be too intelligent and so they need to have a simple reason to accept law as being unbreakable. education and equality of sex in social life have all improved but.34    Christian Bible is largely a collection of conceptions. and even if justice could not be done in this world. instructing and emancipating agency. even educated ones. To fight for freedom was—and to how great an extent it still is!—to fight against the Church. The rulers of a society enact laws. whatever its errors of doctrine and its mistakes in this or that sphere of policy. Medievalism is synonymous with ignorance. These may seem indelicate words but. Gods were supernatural spirits who floated around everywhere unseen by people. People have to see that they are for everyone’s benefit or they will not obey them. Today freedom. and regard for education—precisely what it did not. These “holy” books are spurious. Women had a lower status than in Greece and Rome—indeed. assimilated from older religions. a “soul”. then they prove how hidden the truth remains for far too many people. If we received a message said to be divinely revealed which came in bits not as a unity. sometimes crude and sometimes poetic. The broad picture ought to be familiar to even a casual student of history. respect for women. the agencies of liberation responsible did it against the opposition of Christianity. they were meant to deceive and that is why they were fabricated. but will find every possible way of evading them. Knowledge that is commonplace among scholars hardly touches members of the Christian congregations.

he ceases to inspire awe and worship. Christian mobs began to plunder wealthy homes and to pillage the shrines of gods whom the Christians hated. When a god’s impotence is shown. and they forgot about it. taken from their mentor Leo Strauss. despite their supposed inalienable principles. if their gods could not protect their own beautiful temples adorned by pious Pagans with the masterpieces of the Pagan world. before they had control of the state. attendance at and participation in religious ceremonies was a political act affirming loyalty to the state. The modern day neocons of the USA have the same philosophy. lying has become a Republican political norm. let alone to worship them. Lies told by Republican leaders are described as and serve as modern myths to keep the rednecks happy. Symmachus blamed the disasters of the dying empire on to the impiety of the new believers to the old gods. The god not the state would deal with anyone being personally offensive to the god. Christians were considerd as ingrates. That would have been the sensible thing to do from the beginning. a classicist and a philosopher who decided what was good enough for hoi polloi of Greece is good enough for hoi polloi redneck American believers in the great god Jarvay. it was to expose religious fanatics dogmatically attached to matters incapable of rational determination. Nor was it a principle that was maintained in Britain when Christianity was at its most fervant. but that of refusing their loyalty to the state and to serve it in return for its benefits. In classical times. everyone knew many of the scholars did not accept them. When Christianity led by the Fathers of the Church acquired control over the Roman empire. but for centuries. their gods must have been displaced by the new and vulgar one. Modern Christians claim to have a personal relationship with their God but it is a relationship in which the God apparently wants the believer to pester everyone else in the world to believe too. but the state demanded loyalty by its citizens for what it provided them. Pagans thought. and. The aim was not to please the Anglican god but. Scholars at Oxford and Cambridge had to swear to affirm the Church of England’s Thirty-Nine Articles. They refused to offer even token service to the state.35    be lawful. and so it ceases to be personal. afterwards they had no reservations . it exposed Christians. the disloyalty shown by refusing to participate was to the state not to the god. Cardinal Dubois’s dictum was that God is a bogeyman uncaged to scare people into obedience. but it was the bad example they offered in their refusal to defend Roman culture against the barbarians incursions. before they ever came to power in Rome. The neocons think they will believe anything. The ceremony did not require and protocol did not expect those taking part to believe in the gods being honoured. but Christians like their myths of ravished virgins just as much as heathens did. In the state religions of Greece and Rome. consuls with their “Pagan” state duties. Christians were serving the state in normal ways. as soldiers. preferring to be thrown to the lions. but the crime was not that of refusing to worship a god. accordingly. They obviously came to realise that being eaten by a lion was an unnecessary sacrifice. In Rome. The Christians brag in their own mythical history that they would not worship Pagan gods. and so on. But. like the Roman required to burn incense to Caesar. Though many Christians used their religion as an excuse not to serve in the military. People were truly personally responsible to their god and that relationship did not and could not involve anyone else.

The French led the reaction and swept away the ruling ancien régime. Seaparation of church and state is fundamental to democracy. Indeed. The principle of the separation of church and state was one of the bases of the US Federal Constitution. The USA is now a theocracy. before their rational faculties developed. The Republican Party is now a political front for the evangelical movement which has succeeded in placing a worshipper of Mammon (disguised as Yehouah) in the White House. All living things had an appropriate psyche. with all the dangers it offers to liberal values. God had not come down unequivocally on either side in the centuries of warfare. not least those who ought to. But Aristotle had no thought that human psyche could live after death. and the people of Europe were exhausted by the mania of continuously brutal religious conflict. . Mortals could not be immortal. subjected in their early years. some people might achieve academic distinction in non-religious. including democracy itself. Children instinctively take pleasure in fairy stories. and too easily persuaded by demagogues to rule. and death was the sign of its death. The separation of church and state has proved temporary in practice in the United States now that Christian organizations have become privileged political parties engaged in subverting national cohesion. His Son. but naturally outgrow serious belief in such things as they grow up. the coalition of church and nobility. Many concluded there were no gods and religion was only a grand hoax. and I shall give you the man”. such as politicians. journalists and media moguls. Psychologists reject religion unless they are Christian psychologists when they find Christianity in psychology! Psychology is the measurement of human behaviour. Psyche to the Greeks was the life-force that distinguished what was living. and manipulable by fashions. Even intelligent people. implanting a physical and mental habit. But if childish belief in some fairy tales is enforced. too ignorant to be useful in society. His Holy Ghost. and faddiness. is leading to increasing belief in impossible things. and was taken up by modern states like the embryonic USA. exempting religious organizations from taxation. the psyche remains permanently disfigured by the habits forced upon it. and inevitably it leads to wondering why some people are susceptible to the orgnised superstition called religion. It was considered a democratic advance. It might seem ideal for the neocon Evangelical Christian ruling class. So. can never throw them off. These days it has been nullified by various states. fancy phrases. but taken too far. to conditioning by teachers and parents to accept certain beliefs. and even anti-religious subjects while hanging on to religious bad habits formed in childhood.36    about using the army to persecute the worshippers of the Pagan gods. The people are being reduced to the level of giddy dolts interested only in trivia. and His myriads of holy saints and angels. it was the property of life. and the Federal government itself. of the human psyche. Atheism spread everywhere. people will be too idiotic to think. “Give me the child until the age of seven. The psyche of any living thing dies when the organism dies because the psyche was a property of life. tales of the marvellous and impossible. said Ignatius Loyola. Failure to accept the importance of science by most people. His ever virgin spouse. That they were able to do it was proof that the Christian god approved! Centuries of internecine Christian warfare at the end of the Middle Ages and in the first centuries of the modern era left many people in utter disbelief in the Christian gods—God Himself.

but having accepted it. Nevertheless people will happily believe that a similar being. though invisible. Some will be offended and will refuse to read it. It is not dogmatic. fact or fiction. for a start. All erudition.37    Truth and Dogma  Christianity is a backwards. But false doctrines cannot just be banned. People must find their own salvation. but whichever is used. that is true. Humans have evolved to be taught and their long childhood offers the time for them to be taught. Knowledge can be obtained in different ways. though each successive generation will prove it by its own experience. A few might be influenced. but knowledge is not that which cannot be tested—like superstitions. It is always chastening to have to accept an error. Teaching at all but the highest level demands facts. Then it can be passed on dogmatically. a real task not a fancied one. unverified or unverifiable beliefs which must not be questioned but be held on faith. or reject it. rational and intuitive. Not only have we our own long experience of this daily event. If dogmatism can bear examination. They will not want to submit to any chance that their faith might be undercut. we must offer true beliefs—a philosophy of life which is convincing and acceptable but sounder than the beliefs which are now held and which are blind to today’s crises. Otherwise why would we need an extended childhood? Nature would have thrown us in at the deep end to learn everything fresh from daily struggle just as our ancestors did. They are the ones who will look back and realise why we are so desparaging about Christianity and other patriarchal religions. however assertive you might be. Each generation benefits from receiving from its parents and elders the knowledge they have accumulated. but these must have been firmly established in truth. but when that outlook leads. Others will read it and emerge with unshaken faith. as it inevitably does. exploitative religion which has condoned—indeed impressed—suffering. then it becomes truth. hears our every prayer and answers them despite the fact that this is even more fanciful than a belief in the sun god. It would not be true to imagine that the sun is a sentient being leaning towards us to hear our prayers. many others in history confirm it and we have a sound scientific explanation of why it happens. It is. People might have once believed that but today few do because there is no evidence for it and it defies all human reason. This is a selfless task not like the “task” of saving one’s own soul. This sounds dogmatic. whether material or spiritual. occupies the whole of the universe. true or false does not have to be found anew by each generation. to an overwhelming selfishness that threatens to destroy the present world then critical words have to be blunt. but so it must be. selfish. principles and methods to be asserted. no doubt. It is too late to be squemish. Most devout Christians will be shocked and frightened by all this. Properly dogmatism is the assertion of “dogmas”. and it . the magnitude of the task of saving the world for posterity faces them. be proved by evidence and be explained by human reason. In the place of false beliefs. it is not knowledge until it has been proved. to insist that the sun will rise tomorrow.

 On the other hand. disobeyed God.38    has real rewards in that one can face death knowing that you have tried to make the world a better place—literally! Before you go. correct  ideas. introducing sin—original sin—into the world. but the ideas will still be there. that He  Himself placed on mankind. The Bible © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Friday.   Mau Tse Dong  Studying Belief in the Bible Will we succeed in throwing off the shadow of the serpent and disown the dinosaur heritage?   Who Lies Sleeping?  3. Adam. the first man. In the Old Testament. May 14. To lift the curse. if pampered in hot‐houses without being exposed to the elements or immunised against disease. Christians need these Jewish legends to  . 01 April 2006 • • • • • • • • • • • • Inspiration   Origin   Scriptural Mistranslation   Forgery   The Priestly Forgers   The Mistake of Moses   The Mythical History of the Jews   The Truth about the Prophets   Pious Fiction   God and Man?   New Testament Mistranslation   Moral Lessons of Religious History   Abstract  The most important theme of the Old Testament is the fall of man. thus  propitiating the sin committed at the beginning of human history—though not everyone’s but only  those who believe unquestioningly the fancies of the Christians. think about this…  You may ban the expression of wrong ideas. 1999 Saturday. That of the New Testament is the  career of the Christian saviour.  will not win out against wrong ones. overcome wrong ideas and really settle issues. Jesus. who  cursed him and his offspring. God had to manifest Himself on earth as the Son and be sacrificed. That is why it is only by employing methods of discussion. criticism  and reasoning that we can really correct ideas.

Yet. How can any writing claim to be the infallible word of God and yet contain false statements and be selfcontradictory. which otherwise is inexplicable.   Inspiration    The Bible comprises a Hebrew portion—the Old Testament. At the age of seventy. called by the Jews. in the first and second chapters of Genesis. the first man. Every sane person today accepts the theory of Copernicus that the sun is the centre of our planetary system. The most important theme of the Old Testament is that of the creation and the fall of man. So they say the bible is the inspired or even  infallible word of God. God had to manifest himself on earth in His aspect of the Son and be sacrificed. and silenced by threats. at least. it being popularly supposed that the New Testament contains the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old. two contradictory accounts of the creation which disagree in nearly every detail. Galileo was summoned before the Inquisition. In 1616. the inspired word of God. they cannot be discounted elsewhere and everything must be verified. by order of its “Congregation of the Holy Office” (Inquisition). The Catholic Church. and that the sun rose and set daily over it. But until only a few hundred years ago Christianity taught that the earth was the centre of our system of planets. burned Giordano Bruno at the stake in 1600 for supporting the Copernican theory. who cursed him and his offspring in His anger. the reason being that it was “contrary to the bible” and for suggesting that the bible did not contain the whole of science. When errors occur in any one particular. thereby propitiating the sin committed at the beginning of human history—though not everyone’s but only those who believe unquestioningly the fancies of the Christians. the idea that the bible is inspired by an almighty god does not bear examination. To be divinely inspired. yet the bible suffers both these errors of fallibility. The bible not only makes mistakes in matters of Nature but it puts forward. To lift the curse. which otherwise is inexplicable. introducing sin into the world—called original sin. The more one reads the bible critically. Christians have to hang on to these interesting but primitive Jewish legends to justify their God’s sacrifice. the scriptures— and a Christian portion—the New Testament—both of which are accepted by Christians as inspired. the reader had a right to be sure it was unimpeachable in history and logic.39    justify their God’s sacrifice. and the leading topic of the New is the career of the Christian saviour. the more convinced one is of its lack of authority and educational value. disobeyed God. In the creation stories of the Old Testament. Then our confidence has evaporated and the whole theory of inspiration is vitiated. To do so they assert that the whole of the bible is the infallible or. so that no doubt could have arisen. that He Himself placed on mankind. he . Adam.

. the bible suggests there was only one copy of the Law of Moses in the whole of Judah. Is this God’s doing? The divine message has been inscribed on old skins from which Pagan writings had been partly erased so that the “Word of God” could be written on them by Christian pens. in this instant. In the reign of Josiah. and are returned to the arbitrary salvation offered by Paul—those are saved who believe! Thus we are left to gamble on the mode of our redemption from a sin which we did not commit. instructions so clear that defiance of them would be the wilful act of those who chose a sinful life. surely we could expect a miracle which would clearly delineate the path of salvation for people innocent of the sin of Adam. we are told. We do not get one. Why? God could have mercifully prevented the birth of any of us. Books once included in the sacred collections of the early churches are now cast into outer darkness. Two thousand years later we still wait. All that the Jews knew about Moses and his religion they learnt from hearsay. Origin  Pre-“exilic” Jews did not have their bibles as Christians now have. If a miracle was worked for the trifle of providing wine for a wedding. unless God is as indecisive and sadistic as men. and that he would never again spread this “damnable heresy”. If Paganism was wrong. Clerics made him kneel and swear with his hands on the gospels that the earth did not move round the sun. Judgement! Vengeance! A revengeful God will administer justice upon the hapless creatures because of the guilt of Adam and Eve. it was not inspired. but two billion Christians seem happy that God has a faulty timepiece. In short the bible is wrong! Plainly. It is just as well that His watch is not too accurate because Jesus promised the day of vengeance would dawn before some of his followers tasted death. The church made the mistake of condemning and even murdering men who proposed what is now known to be true. In so doing it asserted that the Copernican theory ran counter to the science of the bible. Look at the attitude which God adopts towards the human race which he created! On the day of vengeance Jesus would return on clouds of glory and supervise the judgement of God. did God allow mankind to be misled? If it was all that wrong. why is much of it adapted for use in Christianity and not treated with disgust? None of this reflects divine behaviour. It was neither read nor even consulted by them. but might yet incur the penalty for. it was announced as a wonderful discovery. for when Hilkiah the priest accidentally found a copy in a the builders rubbish of the temple (2 Kings 22:8). All of it cries out that one set of priests seeking power over people’s destinies have succeeded in ousting an earlier group. any just god would have given us all unequivocal instructions on its removal. If we are born tainted with original sin and it is removable. just as the Greeks and Romans knew about their mythology. about 100 years before the captivity. Instead. to save us this punishment. we have stories of miracles performed where they were not needed and not performed where they would have helped.40    wrote a book in which he proved the truth of the Copernican theory. but it was afterwards destroyed by fire.

writing vast numbers of tomes all professing to clarify something.000 monks were employed in religious composition. Ezra must have been born in in Babylon or Persia and he supervised the setting up of a “restored” Judaism meant to suit the Persian rulers. where about 60. The first that we know of the four Christian gospels is in the time of Irenaeus. the Persian king. fourteen were deemed as uncanonical and classed as “apocryphal” by Wycliffe—the Reformer and bible translator. Many of the other old writings are now lost. was the only man who knew the books of the law by heart. and yet were believed by poor. After the mythical “return from captivity” in Babylon. the reamining Jews must have lost much of any tradition they had peculiar to themselves. Ezra. supposed to have been inspired by the spirit of God. The writing consisted of badly formed capital letters only. in the apocryphal 2 Esdras 14. a Persian Fort Knox. in the second century. who. Moses and Joshua could not have been the authors of the books attributed to them. were formerly considered by the Christian church as canonical. though considered useful “for example of life and instruction of manners”. The other 170 books were not noticed as forgeries by the Holy Ghost. The colonists had the duty of setting up a temple as significant for the nations of Syria and the Levant as the Tower of Babel was to the Eastern Semites. or even a Persian ministry. written from right to left. stops or division into words by spaces. Ezra being the head of a priestly school.41    It was a system practised by their priests. including the Pentateuch or five books of Moses. In 1380 AD. These fourteen books were omitted from the Protestant bibles. but most of it tosh. Twelve were excluded at first. with no vowels. The ones left behind were poor and illiterate and were called the Am ha Eretz and the Samaritians by the sophisticated colonists. as opposed to Canaanites generally. When the literate class of Jews were taken away by the Babylonian conquerors. also in capital letters with no divisions between words. Out of 182 works accepted for centuries as the genuine writings of Christians during the first 180 years of the present era. Twentyseven books are now considered to be canonical. like modern Hebrew. aided by five scribes and by drinking a cup of some strong liquor. in Salonica. for they describe their own deaths. and his priesthood in Jerusalem. Fifty-three. though the original Matthew was possibly written in Aramaic. Here it is being admitted that the books of the scriptures were re-written by the Persian colonists sent from Babylon. There were originally about 150 books like this. intimates that he has “received four gospels as authentic scriptures”. far longer than the Persians who set it all in place. Christians today are even more prolific. undiscerning Christians. Irenaeus was . They therefore wrote the stories emphasizing God’s messiah. on rough skins in ink. only twelve are now accepted by theologians as genuine. The books of the New Testament were written on papyrus in Greek. of the substance of water and the colour of fire! Sounds like whiskey. but afterwards received as canonical. but there were sixty-one others now classed as apocryphal. he had to retire to a field for forty days to dictate the five books of Moses and other books totalling over 200. and a sinecure for themselves and their descendants that would last for millennia. It was glossed in different inks and languages and eventually became almost obliterated by age. The manufacture of some of these manuscripts probably took place at the great monastery at Mount Athos. The Old Testament was written in ancient Hebrew.

On a coin from Gaza of the fourth century BC is a figure of a deity in a chariot of fire. Names used for the Hebrew sun god . in his Synodicon to the Council of Nicaea. and Christians believe in Angels and Demons and what are they if not gods? Indeed the “two angels”. literally the gods. while the Acts of the Apostles and Revelation. over whose head is written Yho in old Phœnician characters. were  rejected as forgeries. and bids all inferior creatures “cast up a highway for him that rideth through the heavens (not deserts) by his name Jah”. gods. Adam’s demon-wife. has been suppressed in Isaiah 34:14. the apocalypse. and YHWH Elohim is given as “Lord God” when “Yehouah of the gods” would be more precise. though Jews were not allowed to say the ineffable name and used other words instead. carried on the tradition. says that 200 versions of the gospel  were placed under a communion table and. “Let the Mighty One arise” (misleadingly rendered “Let God arise”). in the original text.   2. usually written YHWH. while the council prayed. Elohim. arguing with the Amorites in Judges 11:24 that every nation is entitled to what its national God bestows upon it. or Yeho. who appeared to Lot in the city of Sodom.   3.42    himself a pious forger and possibly the editor of John. Psalms 68 is positively a song to the Sun-God! It begins. which name literally means the “Servant of Yehouah”. is deliberately mistranslated “God”. Other Semites worshipped Yehouah pronouncing it as Yahu. are. the throne of Hamath was occupied by YahouBehdi. That by Irenaeus says the church selected the four most popular of the gospels. That by Popius. That by the Council of Laodicea (366 AD) says that each book was decided by ballot. which does not convey any idea of the Hebrew pronunciation. 1. The Phœnicians venerated this deity also. Jephthah. Luke  escaped by one vote. The Jews came to call their god Yehouah. where she is reduced to “the night monster”. for in the inscriptions of Assurbanipal. Three accounts are given of how the books which now appear in the New Testament were chosen. In the reign of the Assyrian King Sargon II. The frequent references to sun gods under various names are all disguised by the bible. Any honest translation makes it glaringly plain that Jews were not always monotheistic—if they actually are now since they. Christian bibles consider no name necessary for God because they have no need to distinguish Him from any other god and prefer to translate YHWH as the Lord or simply God. but Yehouah held only a subordinate position in the general mythology of the Semites and is famous only because he was the father god of the Children of Israel and therefore of the Christians. the name of the crownprince of Tyrenus is given as Yahu-melek—“Yehouah is my King”. as monotheists. the inspired books jumped  on the slab but the rest remained under it.   Scriptural Mistranslation  The Jewish scriptures have been manipulated to induce the reader to believe that the Jews were always monotheists or worshippers of one God only and Christians have naturally. Lilith. confirms that the Israelites accepted the existence of other gods. who sacrificed his daughter because she came to greet him. another Assyrian King.

It is often translated as “The God of Truth” as in Isaiah 65:16 or as “Amen” (Truly) as in Psalms 89:46. it is given as “the Lord God”. He means it is hard to separate any truth in it from the fiction. Of course sensible people will see that in ancient times the Jews worshipped the sun god and other gods and then later used various of their names for their adopted single God. The translators of the revised bible admit the word Ashera or Asherah to be consistently wrongly rendered “grove” in the Authorized Version. Amun-Ra (or Ammon. In Revelation 3:14 we ought to read. In Revelation written. when it is met with in conjunction with YHWH or Elohim. the Syrian sun god. The idea connected with the word Jesus in its Semitic original. their legendary character. Men forged a book in God’s name. their conformity to a scheme. half discloses. but ministers of the Christian gospel of hundreds of forgeries. Christians and Jews say these martyrs were religious men and the charge insults them. The present Old Testament as a whole is a deliberate attempt to convey an historical belief which the writers knew to be false.” He means they were lying. a senseless expression if “truly” is meant. “These things. The Jewish priests had done the same thing a thousand years before. He must “constantly bear in mind the peculiarities of the narrative. is translated “the Lord” but. “YHWH said to Adonai”—which should be translated. Many books of the Jewish scriptures pretend to be written by men who did not write them. the true and faithful witness”. as in the Arabian fertility god Isa. but not if the meaning is “by the God Amun”. But even Protestant preachers accuse. and their didactic purpose”. not merely religious men. Why? Because the Ashera was an upright stone used as a phallic symbol in some fertility rite. yielding “The Amen”. The “Word of God” a forgery? God cannot forge books. The title Adonai. Even some Roman Catholic scholars concur. A Christian professor diplomatically admitted that the writers of the Old Testament displayed “the workings of a primitive nature” in their “mode of regarding the facts. Another Christian says that “the imaginative element in the story of David is but the vesture which half conceals. Most non-Catholic historians agree that the documents on which the power of Rome is based are forgeries. much to their own profit. is met frequently. Consequently the historian has a hard job “to remove the materials of his story out of the false light in which he finds them”. sometimes preceded with the prefix El. He means the . Psalms 110:1 says. was phallic vigour. “Yehouah said to our Lord (the Sun-God)—Sit at my right hand”. certain facts treasured in popular tradition”. Many books were deliberately written as history when the writers knew that they were not history. the Phœnician name for the sun god. But that is accepting that earlier Jews did not have this monotheistic God as their god and so the long history of His plan for His chosen people is shown to be false. The popular deity of Thebes. Amen. when it occurs singly. of course.43    are Shaddai. Forgery  Almost all of the stories of saints and martyrs which are treasured in the Roman Church are forgeries. From the sixth to the twelfth century Roman priests poured upon Europe a flood of forgeries. the Babylonian sun god and Baal. Bel. the hidden sun). He means that these polite paraphrases must serve to excuse what plain men call forgery or lies. saith Amun. in Greek the word is written with Ho prefixed.

5. That Belshazzar was not king of Babylon. was really  his father.   That it was Cyrus. who is said (11:1) by Daniel to have been the son of Ahasuerus (Xerxes). another set of writers recast the whole of these honest legends and dishonest “contaminations”. In its present form it was mainly composed in the third century and re-assembled after partial destruction in the second century by the Maccabees.  The tablets of Cyrus describe the taking of Babylon and show: 1. declared that Daniel is “not historical in the modern sense of the word history!” The only sense of the word history he could mean is that it is myth. a vigorous opponent of higher criticism. not Darius the Median. 2. expressly ascribing it to Moses. clothed in an Oriental dress. The “scribes combined different copies according to their own judgement and interests”. The higher criticism has brought into relief certain essentials.   That the name of the last king was Nabonidas. and added a vast amount of new matter. After a hundred and fifty years of highrer criticism the scholars have yet to get the facts straight. for which they probably had no sources except their imagination and “interests”.   . “I Daniel” occurs in every chapter. Another Christian excuse for the scriptural lies is that the early historical writers of the Old Testament were honest collectors of stories. The Protestant Reverend Professor Sayce. and Darius the Median took the kingdom. A Cambridge professor writing about Jews says. and such documents last forever. The Old Testament did not slowly evolve from Moses to Ben Sirach but was started towards the end of the fifth century and had a turbulent history of rewiting and additions until the second century. by guile. 4. A similar circumlocution by a Christian dignitary regarding the story of Abraham is that the biblical history of the patriarch is a tissue of “legends purified both by abridgement and expansion”. to give us “a different religious point of view”—a view which is false—but the scribes merely acted “in a prophetic spirit”. The Persians had adopted the Babylonian custom of writing on clay. but that later books were put together by the “mere literary process of conflation and contamination”. the Old Testament does not contain objective records. Would a court accept that a witness’s statements were sound “subjective history for a specific purpose” as a defence against perjury? He assures us. then baking the brick or tablet. not by bloodshed. “Written by Oriental people.” but “subjective history for specific purposes”. The Book of Daniel claims throughout that it was written by Daniel himself. 3.   That the city was taken peacefully.   That Darius.44    history of David is a myth. In the end. who took it. The result is our Old Testament. Recovered tablets of the great Persian king Cyrus can be compared with the words of Daniel: In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. “Scholars are now almost unanimously agreed” on these manipulations.

So we can with Hebrew. It is a forgery. That all the Babylonian names in Daniel are absurdly misspelled and quite strange to the writer. And this is the simple method of the higher critics. And this gives us the clue to the date. tried to compel the Jews to break their law. an Egyptian! There are two chief ways of detecting these forgeries—the style of the documents and the testimony of other and undisputed documents.45    6. Yet there is no language that does not change in the course of centuries. The first method has been much ridiculed by pious people. The book is full of errors. It was “a work of edification”. Tell an Oriental Moslem that the things said about the Prophet in the Quran were “subjective history with a specific purpose”. Daniel pretended to be history. The Oriental loves stories. but has as keen a sense as any of the difference between stories and sacred history. The same is true here. and pretended to be alive in 539 BC when Babylon fell. Susanna and Bel and the Dragon are also the same. contradictions. ridicule. the Old Testament was written at different periods over more than a thousand years. This method shows us fragments of different ages in the Old Testament put together at a far later date. Moslems believe it to be Allah’s exact word. which preachers who do not know a word of Hebrew and could not even themselves read the English of Chaucer. Otherwise it would have had no effect. we find inconsistencies.   7. It was in the second century BC. clumsily. then wrote this book. he would be insulted. Further. did not live until three or four centuries later. and duplications . Now we have recovered the real contemporary documents. Antiochus Epiphanes.  They too are ancient Jewish forgeries. as we find by authentic documents and by reading the real Babylonian names on the tablets. The decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions has finally destroyed all claim on the part of the Books  of Tobit and Judith to be considered as history. The writing of the Old Testament is believed by Christians and Jews to cover at least seven hundred years. A pious Jew. Esther. People today find it almost impossible to read the earliest English literature and most can see that English as late as the eighteenth century is different from the way in which we write it today. probably a priest. Literary experts have learnt how to date books easily from their style. On the orthodox theory. one of the “hagiographs” or “holy writings”. Christians say those who talk of forgery do not know the oriental mind which is different from ours today.   The man who wrote Daniel. and there is no room for dispute. Sayce also decisively proved that Genesis is a compilation of Babylonian legends ascribed to Moses. Now why did the writer do it. for in the course of three centuries the facts and names had been forgotten. and what was his object? Quite clearly he wanted to convince the Jews that Yehouah would miraculously protect any Jews who refused to obey a sacrilegious king. Tobit and Judith are the same. when the Greek king. That the writer describes the Chaldeans in a way that no writer could have done before the time  of Alexander the Great.

So the priests were forgers. Jews twenty centuries ago believed the events they described had actually happened—they believed they were historical! If they had known they were not written by the prophets they revered. Why should anyone. After the arrival of the Ezra school in the fifth century. but not accurate. we have a very great deal of history and archaeology by which we can check the Old Testament. and perverted the entire history of the cult and the priesthood to link the people with their allies. The belief that Moses wrote them is a statement in Kings. The first page of the bible is in flat contradiction to what every educated person now knows. A priestly group now free of Persian control in Jerusalem and keen to line their own pockets and curry favour with the scholarly Greek kings of Egypt. or the Five Books of Moses with which the Old Testament opens. over a thousand years of Jewish history. The Jewish priests did it. Few scholars dissent. Judges. made a priestly code.46    which cannot otherwise be explained. as we have it. The Mistake Of Moses  Now let us examine the Pentateuch. using the law given by Darius. Now. The orthodox believe the Old Testament to be. now called by Christians their Old Testament. What they composed and published was most of the Pentateuch as we hove it now. a set of books which appeared at intervals. be impressed that a god could do wonderful things in a work of fiction. No one sensible now attempts to reconcile Genesis and science. oriental or otherwise. The Hebrew text is poetic in an anciently ritual sense. Yet no part of the Old Testament. Kings. they also would have called them forgeries. Assyrian and Babylonian annals were combined together into a sacred history. a semi-Egyptian. and even Christian scholars admit that the early chapters of Genesis are modifications of Babylonian legends. The Priestly Forgers  Whole books of the Old Testament like Daniel are in modern terms forgeries. . Is that forgery? The standard opinion is that the Septuagint published by the Ptolemies for the library of Alexandria was written by Jerusalem priests in collaboration with Egyptians. and it professes to be. Drastically re-written in the time of the Egyptian Ptolemies and the Maccabees it yielded a Jewish “history” which is mainly untrue. ded new clauses. The Prophets were added from the ninth century onward. Fiction was represented as fact—as a speudepigraph. and so ascribed it to Moses. Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Psalms and Chronicles go back to the times they describe. in addition. is older than the fifth century except for odd lines and verses of possibly older poems and blessings. with divine inspiration. Chronicles and Ezra—all very late books—that Moses wrote them. Their aim was to represent the Jewish priesthood and its rights and customs to have been established in the days of Moses.


There is first a dark chaos, created by God. Apologists tell us that science has come to a similar conclusion—everything in the universe began as chaos. It is not so, but whether Genesis reflects science or not, to a non-believer it is a puzzle why God should have created matter in a chaotic state, and then, in six days, put it in order. The creative word could have made the universe orderly in the first place. The Hebrew for the chaos is “tohu wah tohu”, which is a primitive people’s corruption of the Babylonian “tiamat”, the original chaos. To the learned Babylonian, the first state of things was a watery waste, land and water mixed up together, and the gods had first to separate them. The Hebrew follows the Babylonian legend in all that it says. In fact science is not in harmony with Genesis. The order of creation: (1) light, (2) division of water from the sky or firmament, (3) division of land from water and creation of plants (including fruit trees), (4) appearance of the sun and moon, (5) production of birds from the water and (6) production of reptiles (after birds) and mammals and man is quite silly. The second chapter of Genesis is worse, contradicting the first by creating man, then trees, then mammals, and finally woman. The only agreement with science, and this is undone by the second chapter, is that the grass was created before the cattle, which eat it, and the cattle before the man, who eats them. Does one need inspiration to guess that? The bible puts creation about 4000 BC. Some Christians admit that, as science claims, the universe is more than ten billion years old. Why then are they contradicting God’s word? Go through the bible noting the age of each patriarch and trace through the generations—the bible does date creation about 6000 years ago! There is the lovely Garden of Eden—the Babylonian “edin” or plain—and the madly unjust story of the curse of the whole human race for the sin of two people. It is a Babylonian story, but the Hindus, Egyptians, and others had essentially the same story. As to Noah and the flood, every theologian in the world has thrown up the sponge on this early idea of divine justice. It is all in the Babylonian tablets, even down to such details as the sending out of the dove and the raven, and the resting of the ark on a high mountain. The story of Babel also is a legend of which we have traces in Babylonia. God gets jealous of man’s progress in civilization. Man has built a city, which is clearly Babylon, as Christians admit, and a tower which means one of the stepped temples of Babylonia—the ziggurats. The story is a primitive attempt to explain how men came to speak different languages. No scholar questions the Babylonian origin of the Genesis legends. The Persian colonists into Yehud probably brought these legends from their homelands in the upper reaches of the Euphrates river. No one can read the Babylonian originals and doubt the source of the early chapters of Genesis. Clergymen say that their inspiration is the change from polytheism to monotheism. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, is said to rise high above all ancient literature. Yet in the Babylonian legend, one god also puts chaos in order and creates the world—Marduk. Moreover, monotheism was established in Egypt centuries before a line of the Old Testament was written. And ethical monotheism was effectively invented by Zoroaster somewhere in Afghanistan hundreds of years before the Persian colonists ever got to Judah.


The Mythical History Of The Jews 
The story of Abraham is very simple. His original name was Abram and he lived in “Ur of the Chaldees” but God called him and changed his name to Ab-ra-ham, which is the Hebrew for “Father of many peoples”. In fact, no Hebrew scholar can make Abraham mean anything, except with difficulty. It has no meaning in Hebrew. It therefore does not mean “Father of many peoples”. Abram may have come from Ur but it was not a city of the Chaldees until about 1000 BC which proves that the legend was written at a later date by the priests. If Abram means anything it is something like “great father”. Late in Jewish history, he began to be regarded as the ancestor of the people, but Christians say this grew out of genuine tradition about him. This is proved, they say, by archaeological discoveries which have confirmed the names of certain kings in the story of Abraham. This illustrates why critics of the clergy call them dishonest. Of the entire story of Abram, only the fact that three or four kings mentioned are now known to have really existed is confirmed. It would follow only that there was an ancient legend about Abram, but of the whole supernatural story about him there is not a tittle of confirmation. A few names of kings, or alliances, or battles in many centuries are confirmed, a vast amount is disproved. In honesty, only the view of the Old Testament as a fabrication in the fifth century which included some older writings based on tribal traditions is confirmed. One of the royal names discovered is King Hammurabi of Babylon. Christians tell us Amraphel in the Abram story is obviously the same person! Well, actually, it is not obvious. It is an ancient northern Canaanitish or Syrian narrative which shows us Abram as a valiant chieftain, perhaps originally a god. The Jews, who came later to Canaan, probably brought the legend with them from Beth eden where they had previously lived. This Abram was possibly an ancestor of their race, and the priests incorporated this scanty story into the sacred history of the mixed people of Abarnahara, the Persian satrapy that had Jerusalem as its temple. Joseph is the next outstanding historical character in the Jewish scriptures. Joseph retires with the Khabiri chieftain into the very dim mists of ancient legend. In Genesis 41:43, Joseph was set high and the Egyptian people called before him, “Bow the knee”. This is a fanciful rendering of a word which the translators did not understand. Sayce tells us the word is a Babylonian title of honour! Strange, isn’t it, to find an Egyptian crowd talking Babylonian? It takes a long time for discoveries to reach the faithful. The story of Potiphar’s wife has so close a parallel in an Egyptian story that it is, according to Sayce, writing a century ago, “impossible not to see the connexion”. Scholars found the Orbiney Papyrus, now in the British Museum at London, in 1852 AD. In it two brothers lived together. They were working together in the field one day, and the elder, who was married, sent the younger back to the house for some seed. The elder’s wife, had had her eye on the younger for some time, said, “Come let us lie together for an hour. That will be pleasant for you, and I will make fine clothes for you.” The blushing youth indignantly refused, and fled, saying much for the morals of ancient Egyptian youth. So the wife, to protect herself, told people he had tried to seduce her, and when her husband came home, she accused the younger brother of saying to her, “Let down thy hair, and let us lie together for an


hour.” And the elder slew the younger brother. Compare Genesis 39 with this. Joseph went to his master’s house to do his business, and, as there was no one else there but the wife, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me”. He refused, and she turned the tables on him, as in the Egyptian tale. The Pentateuch is supposed to have been written by Moses, before the Israelites had entered Canaan. Yet it contains phrases like “the Canaanite dwelled then in the land” (Gen 12:6;13:7), and “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel” (Gen 36:31), which must have been written after Moses’s death when the land had been entered, the Canaanites had been evicted, and there were even kings in Israel. Moreover, nearly every occurrence from the creation of the world to the death of Moses is related to us twice, and in some cases three times. The writer of Joshua, who never pretends to be Joshua, often says that a thing goes on “unto this day” (Josh 9:27;15:63). In Joshua 24:31, the author intimates that he is writing at least after the death of the eldest person who had known Joshua. There are the same doubles and contradictions. The Samaritans did not accept the book, so it is a priestly third century forgery. Judges, Samuel and Kings have all the same faults. The plain truth is that we cannot by independent authority prove a single statement of any importance in the history of the Jews until their history is no longer miraculous. Even the latest historical works are a series of forgeries including, in a changed form, ancient otherwise lost traditions. In 1 Chronicles 24:7, money is paid or valued in darics, coins of the Persian Darius. It must have been written after 520 BC, the first year of Darius I. In 1 Chronicles 3:19, six generations had elapsed since Zerubbabel, so the book must have been written about 400 BC. In Nehemiah 12:126 is a list of names to the time of Alexander the Great (d 323 BC). Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah must be forgeries of the fourth century, possibly using older Assyrian and Babylonian royal annals but giving a revised version of the events. Even the most contemporary prophets of the setting up of the temple state, Haggai and Zechariah, Ezra and Nehemiah are full of purposive misstatements. Their editors' contributions are agreed to be often inventions, especially what they say about the “return of the Jews” from Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple. Zechariah says the exiles were still in Babylonia when the temple was rebuilt, yet the author of Ezra gives us a glowing description of 42,360 Jews, with 7,337 servants, two hundred singing men and women, and great troops of horses and treasures of gold returning. Only about 4,000 men had been deported. We are asked to believe that in two generations they grew, on the fertile plains of Babylon, to 42,360 plus the thousands more who never returned. In those days a population took several centuries to double! In fact, the total population of Yehud, after the colonization, was only about two myriads, and that includes the native Am ha Eretz who never left. This extended list is centuries older, probably from the time of the Maccabees, and was written to give certain families kudos. The value of the history of Ezra, was bringing out the real author of the law of Moses. No serious scholar doubts that it was written in Babylon by Persian ministers.


Experts assure us that much of the Old Testament history has been discredited. The books are a tissue of inventions, expansions, conflations, or recensions dating centuries after the events.

The Truth About The Prophets 
A prophet in those olden days was not a man who in particular predicted events, but, in the Greek and Hebrew understanding of the word (respectively, “prophetes”, “nabi”), was a man who was believed to speak for and interpret the words of the gods. In the Jewish scriptures, they were men who spoke out, as Jeremiah did about Hilkiah’s pious fraud. They called a whore a whore. The modern interest in the prophets is the supposition that they made remarkable predictions. These supposed predictions are quite simply false, unless you are a Christian. In reality, prophets were the messengers of the king, but the king spoke for the gods, or God. They were also propagandists for enemies of the king, or even for foreign kings wanting to interfere in the affairs of foreign countries. By claiming to be speaking for God, and usually having a king's authority to do so, they had a certain amount of security. Even so, it must have been a dangerous job sometimes, though most of them were more like the medieval town criers, simply spreading news that the king wanted to be spread. The works of the original prophets, if they existed in written form, were edited like all the other scriptural literature, but most of the biblical prophecies were written long after the events they described, so, they were easy to get right. Sometimes the “prophecy” was in any case a reference to past events as when Isaiah wrote descriptions of the “Servant of God”, regarded as predictions about Christ, and are really of Moses, or are a personification of Israel. Only occasionally are the predictions shrewd forecasts, and they have been emphasized, while failed ones have been ignored. Correct ones are when the fulfilment of some dire warning from the prophet of a foreign king comes true because it was meant to intimidate the local people. The king then followed up with an invasion, and the people were meant to expect it and willingly surrender. Sometimes supposed biblical prophecies of Jesus are wrongly translated, as in the famous “Behold a virgin will conceive”, a prophecy that came true even though it is wrongly expressed. The Hebrew word means not “virgin” but a pre-menstrual girl, and conception by such a girl was not miraculous, even in ancient Judaea. Biblical prophets regarded themselves as superior people because often they spoke for very superior people. They wanted to be striking in appearance so that people would hear them, and, apparently, dressed in a sort of uniform of a mantle of goat’s hair. They also like to have mystic marks on their foreheads, possibly official tattoos to show their authority. Some had schools of prophets, again suggesting their official role. Such was Elijah. There is, the experts say probably a basis of fact in the story of Elijah and Elisha, but we can’t disentangle it, as “the interests of prophetic orders led to unhistoric fictions and exaggerations” besides valid warnings. They were not forgeries, though! Amos and Hosea were supposed to be the first and, naturally enough, they are the crudest and most poetic. Memory is assisted by poetry, and so messages will have been committed to memory in poetic form. But Amos and Hosea are morally crude. Amos, whose story makes him active about 750 BC, was a sheep trader. The great sin is what the


translators honestly call whoredom. Judaea was full of whores, in spite of polygamy and concubinage. And, figuratively, the great collective sin of the nation was whoredom—a courting of false gods, whose existence is not denied. Hosea, who purports to have been active in the northern kingdom about the same time, or about 750 to 725, is a shade worse. The call of Yehouah to him was, “Take unto thee a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom, for the land doth commit great whoredom”. He literally obeyed the divine command, and learned to love the girl, a metaphor for Israel and her sins. For centuries Christians have taken it that all ancient people were thoroughly immoral, even God’s own people needing stern lessons from time to time. Yet Egypt was then as moral as the bible belt is today, and, in Babylon, they drowned people for adultery. However, the Book of Isaiah is, apart from later manipulations, the work of several totally different writers, separated from each other by two centuries. The real Isaiah seems to have been a man of good social position and education, and keenly interested in politics. He was proAssyrian—though Assyria in these pseudepigraphs probably stands for Persia—and he was opposed by the pro-Egyptians at court. His opponents won, and Judaea cast off its allegiance to Assyria and turned to Egypt. Isaiah gave a reasonable forecast of the punishment of Judaea by the Assyrians. These “prophecies” made after the event are really warnings that it will happen again unless the people co-operate with the conqueror. When the Persian colonists came from Babylonia, some other prophet or prophets gave other warnings that also were incorporated into Isaiah. The colonists had been told they were being returned to Yehud from a previous exile, whether this exile had actually happened or not. So, this “prophet” “predicted” “the exile”, and it was attributed to Isaiah. He also predicts a terrible destruction of Babylon, which the Persians actually took peacefully, and he says it was taken by the Medes, though they did not. It shows that the prophecy was false , and that it was actually written sufficiently later that the truth had been forgotten. Babylon was in the time Isaiah pretends to be writing was not the enemy of Judaea, and the city was actually destroyed by Xerxes in a much later punitive action after an act of rebellion. So, the prophecy was added after the time of Xerxes. The later Isaiah's language and religious ideas are quite different from those of the earlier one, but the two have been pieced together in one book together with a third one. The scholars call them Second Isaiah, amd Third Isaiah. Why would God want to do this sort of thing? The second major prophet is Jeremiah. He is described as one “of the gentlest of men” though he told Hilkiah in very good Hebrew, and us also, that his new book was a lie. Judaea was so wicked and perverse, according to these propagandists, and the pessimism of the prophets reaches its deepest in Jeremiah. The prophecies took the same general shape. The Jews were going to be fearfully punished—rebels generally were in those days—but the Lord would some day rehabilitate them. Jeremiah was the son of a priest, and was called in the year 626 BC in his pseudepigraph, but probably lived in the fifth century in fact. Micah is supposed to have been a contemporary of Isaiah but his work is hopelessly adulterated. Ezekiel was a priest, of the sterner type, and was shown as deported to Babylonia, but the whole

He believes in God. breasts and bellies. is one that could possibly go back in parts to the tenth century BC. and it was always quite absurd to suggest that the author of these was David or Solomon. probably going back to the fourth century. taken bodily from the Egyptian liturgy. In the east. supposed to have been royal. It was the “hierogamos”. In the second century BC. words. Some of these songs may be quite old. He was not. Over and over again he expresses his skepticism. and even Greek. as in the close of Psalms 72. but actually divine. and songs about the charms of the bride and the bridegroom’s particular interest in her are features of the celebration. but others include Persian. but is an agnostic about a future life. Psalms is an anthology of Jewish religious songs and poetry. so that the one verse which does profess belief in a future life is palpably part of the retouching which the book suffered later at orthodox hands. are written in Greek in the first century before Christ. The writer disdains the temple sacrifices (5:1) and constantly urges his readers to eat and drink and be merry while the sun shines. 21. perhaps by the Hasids. The Song of Solomon. or the union of Yehouah and the synagogue. the popular festival of marriage in the ancient near east. Now every fundamentalist Christian in the USA is sure that he was. so that the collection must belong to about the fourth century.) are actually addressed to the king. He was probably a Jew living in the new Greco-Egyptian city of Alexandria about 200 BC. and Ecclesiasticus. Malachi and Obadiah are Persian forgeries of the fourth century. 63. Proverbs is much earlier. etc. As a whole it is a collection of marriage songs. Joel. The Psalms are called The Psalms of David and Christians believe or pretend they really were written by king David. a marriage festival lasts a week. They had nothing to do with Solomon. There might be a mythological element in parts of it. 61. By that time the forged historical works had made Solomon . Internal evidence and the language itself show that they are a collection of songs or chants composed mainly seven hundred or more years after the mythical David is supposed to have lived. So. Psalms 104. Others (such as 20. Pious Fiction  Ecclesiastes is a strange book to include in a Jewish sacred collection. It was used as a symbol of the union of Christ and his Church. There is not a scholar in the world who now believes that any of them were composed by David. which seem to celebrate the union of the sun god and a goddess (Shelamith) in the hierogamos. The author is an Epicurean philosopher. Songs composed for wedding feasts were sung to the psaltery and some of the psalms (such as 45) were poems to be sung at a marriage festival. is openly erotic. it was a much disputed question amongst the Jews whether David was really the author.52    book has been massively edited in Hellenistic times. The psaltery was a Jewish stringed instrument and a song or hymn sung played on it was a psalm. Some of the psalms are so crude and bloody in their sentiments that the Church of England has debated in solemn conferences whether it ought not to omit them from its services. but the Wisdom of Solomon. Some psalms are written word for word in Samuel. full of thighs.

53    and all his glory and his wives very popular amongst the Jews. genuinely. hunger and thirst as did Jesus? Can an unceasingly watchful omnipotent God. Now has this god really come to earth as an infant. Solomon was at best a petty king living in a third-rate oriental mansion who did not build the first temple even. devils and crawling serpents? When God who owns “the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalms 1:10) said he had not . Can anyone believe that God could have been really tempted by demons. if God is simultaneously looking after everything whilst being a human baby. or is he a god just giving the illusion of it? Does it really like being tickled with a straw or is he really looking on from another dimension. unconscious of the world around him? Truly? Anyone can play an arcade game and finish up being killed by the aliens. Solomon was not wealthy. sink into unconscious sleep night after night for thirty years. all of whom did not immediately shrivel up. and cry. and smile! Why then did the devil not use these few years of God’s weakness to take control of the universe? How do Christians know he didn’t? Or. He could suffer a blow from an insulting priest but if he’d got annoyed could have squashed him like a greenfly. Is that what it is like for God pretending to be human? He can die on the machine but if he lost his temper he could take up an axe and smash it into smithereens. Knowing their scripture. as in the legend. why should God expect other people who never saw him in this spectacular incarnation to believe it on the say so of men who might be devils in disguise for all anyone knows? Can an infinite being. while still looking upon his works from beyond is manifestly impossible. pretending. The idea of the creator of the universe experiencing the role of a human baby. how can he truly experience what it is to be human? Then again if God (Ex 33:20) was not kidding that “no man can see me and live”. whose eye “never slumbers”. how could it be that God could live as a human on earth for some thirty years meeting many people plainly. If the god is a baby then he has left his heavenly throne for a tadge while he grows up as a human. and an aspiring author could not do better than borrow his name. The builder was probably Ahab. God and Man?    Imagine the mighty creator of the universe lying in a crib wailing to be fed or to have his bottom wiped. absolutely and eternally unchangeable. but Ahab was. Omnipotence shorn of all power but to breathe. Solomon most probably never existed. Indeed. could they be expected to believe this man to be God? And if Jesus’s companions could not be expected to believe it.

Mortal weakness was wedded to omnipotent power. an infant god and a vengeful god appeased by murder and streams of blood. how can He expect other men to be able to distinguish men from God? How is anyone to know that a certain man. If God has appeared on earth in the form of a man. is taken up by an infinite being. whatever its nature and throughout time. And whoever and whatever does exist must constitute a part of this infinite whole. We have a bleeding god. it covers the whole ground. For Christians the Father is God and is all we can conceive of as constituting God and was such from all eternity. His extent is infinite. but God is not being a real human child because no human child has the powers of a god and God must be simultaneously retaining his powers. You cannot introduce another being as God in the infinite sense until the first-named infinite God is dethroned and put out of existence. and an infinite impossibility. instead of hating him? It is all totally incomprehensible and the only way it can be accepted is by suspending the faculties that the Creator gave us. or any part of the Godhead. The moment you try to make Christ God. and take it up again” (John 10:17). or any other being. Christians tell us that the human and the divine were united in Christ Jesus.54    “where to lay his head”. then how could he have been an infinite god? As an infinite being God must necessarily constitute the child. who acts peculiarly. before Jesus Christ was born into the world. Paul cuts through the sophistry of Christendom (1 Cor 8:6) by declaring: “To us there is but one God. it fills the immensity of the universe. it follows that there can be only one such being. the Father”. then it is evident that he is not God! No philosopher does or can believe in the absolute divinity of Jesus Christ. If the description infinite means that every cranny of the universe. both absolute and infinite. how could he have suffered like a man on the cross knowing that his end was not final? Why could he not cause that all of these Chosen People of his should love him as the saviour. and thus exclude the possibility of his apotheosis or incarnated deityship. was he just kidding? Why bother suffering as he supposedly had to when other. Otherwise we should have two Gods. How then can a finite body contain an infinite body? If Jesus Christ is only a part of the infinite God. and fills it to repletion. The incarnation of an infinite god is a shocking absurdity. and not just the infant Jesus but every child. If Christ was a mewling helpless infant with a dirty bottom. An axiom in philosophy is that the less cannot contain the greater. All other beings in the universe are cut off from any participation in the Godhead with the Father. more effective. Impossible. means must have been open to him? If he had “power to lay down his life. The omnipresence of the Father does and must exclude that of the Son. The word infinite comprehends all. so that there is no room left for any other being to exist. Human foibles were mingled with divine perfection. The supposed omnipotence and omnipresence of God is based on the idea that he is everywhere and can act everywhere in the universe. is . The Father alone is God. But we saw above that only the father therefore can be God. you declare God not to be infinite or you are dishonest in elevating another to join him in his place.

and interpolations known by the translators are allowed to remain. supposedly John the beloved disciple. An example is the whole of the end of Mark’s gospel from Mark 16:9 to the end. from “spiro” meaning “I breathe”. A few recent bibles have a note that it is a false ending but older ones and most modern ones do not. all human. Since they have accepted it. and even a theory of apostolic succession! The word rendered Ghost. Such is Christian logic. Nothing could favour false worship better than to obliterate the demarcation between God and man. tell people that God appeared on earth as a man. in Genesis 8:1. Both words mean “air in motion” or “breath”. how can Christians condemn any people for worshipping a fellow human as a god? Anyone who could believe that God was Jesus. which suits the Catholic priesthood. In the Latin Vulgate. its absence is more than slightly important. “ruach” is rendered in Genesis 3:8 as “the cool” of the evening where “breeze” would be better and. which is the equivalent of “ruach” in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Since it contains the earliest gospel account of the appearances. and the thing is done. Now we only know from professional Christians. In Genesis 1:2. but it should be “the breath” of the gods. we surely have a strong argument against such a doctrine. and a being wrapped in human form. 22:9) fell down to worship a man whom he mistook for God. Only professional Christians who get a living—often a substantial one—from persuading people of the truth of the story. Christianity depends upon the appearances as historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. appropriately as wind. The New Testament itself illustrates the difficulties created by God appearing as a man. New Testament Mistranslation  The current translations of the bible are marred by many faulty readings. Substitute the Grand Lama for that of Jesus Christ. Only the name differs. If Christ’s own disciples could be betrayed into the sin of idolatry by the abolition of the distinction between the divine and the human. and Spirit in the New Testament is the Greek word “pneuma”. Another is the word “repent” which has been in the Douay version wrongly rendered through the Latin “do penance”. “pneuma” is rendered “spiritus”. the author of Revelation. Isn’t this the origin of idolatry in pagan countries? They failed to maintain a distinction between a God of infinite attributes. (Rev 19:10. Common sense tells you that God was inviting trouble among his flocks by doing this. It is easier to believe that Christian ministers are frauds than to believe that God is a fool. Let us look now at some of the many renderings of the Hebrew word “ruach”.55    not a God? If everyone knew that God never appeared as a man then there would be no confusion and one source of error would have been removed from human behaviour. “ruach Elohim” is translated “the spirit” of God. Twice. Translated . something that only a god could do. that God took the form of a man. Holy Ghost. cannot criticise those who believe that the Emperor of Japan or the Grand Lama of Tibet is God. and shall see how they illustrate ecclesiastical ingenuity in building up a system of ghosts.

 and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. from failure to failure. the same word “pneuma” is translated in two different ways: And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost (“pneuma”) returned from Jordan. we read: And her spirit (“pneuma”) came again. As bibles represent only the morals and state of society in the age in which they are written. known only to an inner circle.56    into Anglo-Saxon. but the world moves on leaving them behind. is that eventually it looks less and less divine. What do the faithful do then? They have to claim there is more to the sacred text than meets the eye. Ho hum! Bibles are considered the words of God himself and therefore forever true. It then permits a whole industry among those with time to waste “deciphering” the mysteries. when Jair’s daughter is brought back to life. The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost really means “the breath of God”. whence “ghost”. It never ends. just as the interpretation of prophecy goes on. “spiritus” became “gast”. undaunted.  In Luke 8:55. Moral Lessons of Religious History  The fault with any religious or sacred text. and “receive ye the Holy Ghost”. and was led by the Spirit  (“pneuma”) into the wilderness. bibles prevent the moral growth of the people . always commanding an audience of those willing to ignore the long history of false prophets and readings in the certain knowledge that this latest one is right! Followers of the prophets always have to claim they have the extra hidden elements of the teaching. and they will always be in business for the credulous types who pay for it. they would be out of a comfortable job and probably out of the tied cottage as well. and some—a very small circle— are honest enough to reject all of this nonsense when they find it out. The rest realize that. and selling worthless books about their endeavours. as Paul Carus has pointed out. These are only a few of the inaccuracies to be found. but just those elements that make an obviously flawed teaching into a one of divine perfection.  The translation implies that a supernatural spirit or soul re-entered the girl when it simply means she began to breathe after seeming to be dead. if it were accepted by worshippers. Actually to reveal the mystery is to put an end to the mystery business. They keep it quiet. In Luke 4:1. “Jesus gave up the Ghost”. but all the mystery floggers know that will never happen. It is known in the narrow circles of Christian and Jewish scholars. and compel them to teach and practice the morals of the age found in their bibles. Sacred texts are fixed. present in it as allegories or otherwise present as enigmas. It has within it arcane mysteries. they hold their disciples back in all coming time. and more and more fallible. not the admirable but faulty attempts of primitive people to account for their world. are all mistranslations. and these are said to be encoded in the text. “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee”. Translations of the bible maintain a disgraceful and dishonest bias to the views preferred by the theologians rather than the truth. and are not allowed to be altered or transcended.

The people are abject and starving. despite the recent interlude of communism. They are not supernatural violations of nature or feats of God in violation of his own laws. Even now.57    just as the growth of the feet of Chinese girls were prevented by their being permanently bound into wooden shoes. and then to condemn it. Japan has advanced into one of the most advanced civilisations in only a century without any Christian bible. are an outgrowth of the moral and religious elements of the human mind. Morals can be taught without spiritual bindings on the mind. Paul uses the word “science” only once. There is no basis in these hypotheses for any claim to a divine origin of anything in any religion. it is still a refined and orderly country. especially those advocating the spiritual benefits of poverty. or a belief in miracles. religious devotion. Christians are and have always been hypocrites. relatively free of the crimes and vulgarity that plague middle America. Christian gentlemen tried to make the Chinese into a nation of opium eaters. and Jesus omits any allusion to science. Common features can be seen in all religious systems. The daily practice of reading their bible has not benefited these poor people. Preaching and praying are heard every day. whether doctrine. Nations without bibles advance faster than those well supplied with them. are the supernatural acts of pagan gods attached to the Jewish martyr to make him also into a god. It evolved from Confucianism into atheistic communism. Various heathen gods had. Yet modern Christians are thoroughly materialistic and reject every teaching of their god. Many stories regarded by Christians as miraculous were distortions of real events which could not be told by Christian converts within the Roman Empire. The early disciples of the Christian faith were so thoroughly convinced that the teachings of their bible were inimical to the arts and sciences that they destroyed works of art wherever they could find them. No advancement has often been made in morals or civilization in any country by the introduction of the Christian bible or the Christian religion. This type of story related of Jesus Christ have no other foundation than that of heathen tradition. long before Christ’s advent. imbued with the cultural imperialism of the USA. all without the assistance of the bible. or natural law. Other miraculous stories. reports were published of the judgement of God manifest as showers of blood. philosophy. prayer. Bibles and churches are numerous. India became corrupted and economically sunk in morals largely after the introduction of the Christian bible. The Christian bible does not approve of the words “science” and “arts”. precept. Subsequently science proved the blood was the ordure of butterflies migrating . In the early days of the USA. They have no supernatural origin. and now is growing faster than the US ever did. All religious conceptions. and crimes of all kinds are commonplace. Where then are its practical and spiritual benefits in the instances of these quite different people? Christians claims to defend the world against excessive materialism and instead to be defending spiritual things. easily identified. as spotless Christians like to call it. prophecy. and regularly opposed every new discovery in social science and the sciences. filled the same chapter in history reserved for saviours now granted to him in the Christian New Testament. Ethiopia is Christian. explicable by the common features of human psychology.

1999 Saturday. and might also be spread out over a period of time. it’s your hell. Before you go. 01 April 2006 • • Absurdities of the Bible   28 of the Contradictions in the Bible   Abstract  The absurdities of the bible are used to indoctrinate children still. think about this…  A major exchange of bombs on the scale we have them at present could release the same energy as the  fall of a 1000 yard wide asteroid. How long will Christians continue to tell their children lies like this when the true explanation is known? Facts. but the truth is the exact opposite. you burn in it!  4. even out into space. The Bible—Absurdities and Contradictions © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Friday. but what did go up would be more  evenly distributed geographically. he cut out one of  Adam’s ribs and made it into a woman. The asteroid would concentrate all the impact in one spot and be  capable of blowing chunks of terrestrial matter high into the atmosphere. proofs. It all began with Adam and Eve who  led the human race into sin! When God made woman in the Yehouistic creation story. Christian children continued to hear that these bloody showers came from God out of heaven to show his displeasure at the sins of the people.  Few preachers would say it was a myth. Everyone begins life as a female but by birth about half  develop features of maleness. Yet.   Who Lies Sleeping?  Analyzing the Bible Scientifically Hey you Christians. women are inferior beings.58    in vast swarms. demonstrations the reasoning of science can rarely eradicate dogma from the stubbornness of the religious mind once it is instilled in early life. So. Males are the  afterthought—the first sex was the female. only made as an afterthought. A nuclear  exchange would not put as much matter into the high stratosphere. The Christian has always had a faith which was proof against science and reason and would not give up the story of falls of blood. and the US creationists continue to prove it. May 14. Ignorance is the business of the bible.   . Here a few biblical absurdities and contradictions are considered.

then. equally and at the same time—contradict the second story of the creation of mankind— that of Adam and Eve. absurdities which are used to indoctrinate children still. Here are a few. Adam first. he took one of Adam’s ribs and cut it out and made it into a woman. Even so. Everyone begins life as a female but by birth about half have developed secondary features of maleness. Whence did this curious and mistaken story arise? In ancient Babylonia. which an omniscient God ought to have known anyway. How many Baptist preachers would say it was a myth? None! There are some people who still occupy Christian pulpits who say it is. in the image of God he created him. Eve is the “Lady who makes Alive”. In the biblical story.   Genesis 5:2  It is obvious that these statements—in which men and women were created in one act. Plainly a memory of the Sumerian myth has been recast in Genesis with Eve not being beneficial to Adam as Ninti was to Enki. but many Christians would say by so doing the vicar is putting his immortal soul in danger. and at different times—the story that is biologically untrue. She was made by Nimhursag to heal Enki’s sick rib. is the Lady of the Rib. Ninti. in which the two were made separately. The goddess. the woman turned out to be a bad lot. male and female he  created them. and not long ago they would have sent them to the stake to prove it. Of course. but dependent on the male figure to suit the Jewish priesthood. The truth is the exact opposite. both sexes together. Genesis has two different accounts of the creation of man.59    Absurdities of the Bible    It would take a long time to go through all the absurdities of the bible. only being made as an afterthought. the Sumerian word “ti” meant both “rib” and “to make alive”. women are inferior beings. Actually. and is called “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). one of them mentioned twice: God created man in the image of himself. God wanted Adam and . Naturally. then Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. The message of Genesis is that women are secondary and inferior to men. it all began with Adam and Eve who led the human race into sin! When God made woman in the Yahwistic creation story. and the Lady who makes Alive.   Genesis 1:27  Male and female he created them and blessed them and called their name man on the day of their  creation. Males are the afterthought because the first sex was the female sex. and she got Adam to disobey God’s instructions. just as Ninti was. and are not to be trusted.

sometimes written with two signs. so it has nothing to do with confounding. and each dedicated to one of the seven planets. and to their innocent wives and families. The place was a temple of seven platforms. Alexander the Great experienced the nearest to it when crossing a tidal estuary in asia Minor.    the name “Babel” supposedly deriving from “balal”. Why? Because reason won’t confirm it. The story of the confusion of languages was a reflexion of the cosmopolitan nature of the country that Babel represented. “confound”. “the gate of God”. The Holy Ghost was kidding us again! The cuneiform tablets found in the ruins of Babylon tell us exactly what the Babylonians called it—Bab-ilu. so there can be no doubt about it. Moses had a miraculous rod which could change into a serpent and draw water from a rock. and this might have been the source of the myth. though God’s supernatural power could have prevented it. In the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 7) we find the story of Moses who led the Israelites from Egypt into the Promised Land. who were simply carrying out their orders. .protected Daniel is saved by the power of God. The author of the story therefore had knowledge of the identical story of Bacchus or Orpheus who had a rod with the same miraculous properties and who also passed through the Red Sea dry shod at the head of his army. The same God allowed a gross injustice for a fault they did not commit to the royal officers. “the gate of God”. The bible says the Tower of Babel was so named: because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth.60    Eve to stay ignorant. Now the obvious etymology of Babel in Hebrew is precisely the same. The story is supposed to be set about 1400 BC but was not written down until over a thousand years later. Eve learnt about this from the Serpent and persuaded Adam to have a bite. a gate and god. God has punished people ever since. Nice God! What has the human race done that was so bad? Why should eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge bring sin into the world? What are these sins? Did anyone really have to save mankind from their sins in a miraculous way? It is an absurd piece of theology which priests say people must accept on faith. In the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6) the God-fearing and divinely. each tinted a different colour. so they were not allowed to eat of the fruit of a certain tree which would give them knowledge. Nothing of either story is recorded by any historian and it is likely to be purely mythical.

especially born-agains must believe their bibles without a shadow of doubt. but found himself short of time at the battle of Jericho. Joshua was very righteous in the sight of God and the great Israelite general who led them into the land of Canaan after the death of Moses. Jonah is swallowed up by a fish within which he lived three days and nights. where most of Christianity developed. Minos. Samson. since that could have been a mistake. are they wicked and doomed to hell fire? Have they got to get rid of all their knowledge and common sense to save their souls? Some Christian preachers say precisely that! Samson’s six exploits are from the labours of Hercules. Caesar had a miraculous birth. Jesus was born of a virgin. In Matthew 12:40. But the motion of the sun through the heavens is only apparent. Alexander the Great— great men just had to have miraculous births. John the Baptist and Jesus. The earth would have had to have stopped rotating! So if Christians reject this story because it defies all reason. If they do not they are saying that the bible is not true. Shamas. the Persian. A similar legend is told of Zoroaster. the night would not come on. “Stand still”. and it stood still? Are Christians seriously expected to believe this to gain salvation? It is a greater miracle than the world wide flood. Samson. as the bible itself bears endless witness to. “Stand still till I finish this job”. Now Hercules was a sun god and his twelve labours were an allegorical account of the sun’s journey through the zodiac. and post-exilic Judaism is constructed from the Persian religion. God answered his prayers by making the fish vomit on to dry land and among all the contents of the fish’s stomach was Jonah. yet Christians. . praying to God. the Cretan law-giver. alive and well! Christians are fond of miracles but it takes some gullibility to believe this one. whose name means the sun. ascended Mount Dicta and received from Zeus the sacred laws. The Jews. especially in Rome. or were they all fanciful? Today. the Christians say. the warrior king Cyrus.61    Almost every nation of antiquity had a legend of their holy men ascending a mountain to ask counsel of their gods. to whom Ormuzd handed The Book of the Law—the Zend Avesta. If it is not true. is God in human garb guarantees the truth of the story of Jonah and the big fish. it must be lying. at one time in their history worshipped a sun God. such tales would be rejected. Ancient Jewish authors thought that if the sun stood still. was almost certainly a follower of Zoroaster. they used many elements of the myths of the country in which they had previously lived before they were captive. Miraculous births were fashionable in those days. Jesus who. also had twelve labours but six have been lost or deliberately dropped to loosen the connexion. and arguably than the resurrection of a dead man. He was busy killing the people he found there to make room for God’s people. Originally. being caused really by the rotation of the earth on its axis. Have the laws of Nature changed since then. Could anyone get any positive evidence that would compel believe in this story today? No sensible person could consider it today without artificial insemination but there were at least four miraculous births recorded in the bible—Sarah’s child. Cicero. Their saviour. When the Old Testament was being written down by priests after the Persian colonization. and it stood still for a day! Joshua said to the sun. He turned to the mountain top and said to the sun.

62    Proof is that Jesus had brothers and sisters. and others}. are the infallible word of God which must be believed by anyone not wanting to lose their immortal soul to the flames of Old Nick: • • • • • • • • • Elijah ascending in a whirlwind.   human sacrifice (Exodus 13:1‐2). Joseph.   the talking ass.   indiscriminate slaughter (Exodus 32:27). The absurdity of believing in Yehouah as a kind or logical entity may be exposed with impunity from the pages of the Holy Book itself.   the talking cloud. still believe to this day though most of it is incredible. 13:6‐ 9). even if this be accepted. which anyone may freely search. If he wasn’t Jesus’s father.   the defeat of 600 Philistines by one man armed only with an ox‐goad.   violation of virgins (Numbers 31:18). Leviticus 25:44‐46). a justification for human ghouls everywhere in Christendom. A God who destroyed 70.   the formation of an army out of bones.   the talking serpent. and his genealogy by Matthew is traced to his father. and others).   Moses turning the Nile into blood and inducing many plagues. being biblical. or for seeking false gods (Deuteronomy 21:18‐21.   sacrifices of animals (Leviticus 1:14‐15).   deception (Ezekiel 14:9. The difference is that these. speaking in his aspect of the Son. we have then to ask why they remain in the infallible word of God.   cannibalism (Jeremiah 19:9.   And many more! These are the infallible or the inspired word of God—depending upon your degree of fundamentalism—which God. for that reason.000 of his chosen people .   slavery (Exodus 21:2‐5.   capital punishment for rebellious sons. why was he in the story at all? There are many curious tales but also many revolting and immoral ones in the Jewish scriptures. advocated wholeheartedly and which Christians.   stealing (Exodus 3:21‐22).   and other primitive acts expected of primitive people. Can Christianity therefore be sound in its moral teaching? According to the scriptures.   the retrograde motion of the sun (2 Kings 20:10‐11). It can be argued that these are practices that were appropriate to their time but.   selfishness (Deuteronomy 14:21):   conquest by force (Numbers 31 and others).   the army which woke up one morning and found themselves all dead men (2 Kings 19:35). God advised or countenanced: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • adultery (Genesis 12:10). some of which have their equals in other mythologies.   murder (Deuteronomy 7:16.   killing witches (Exodus 22:18). Numbers 14:30‐34).

 and he died.   Numbers 23:19  Despite these assertions. for in the day that thou eatest  thereof thou shalt surely die.   Genesis 5:5  2—God is pleased with his work: And God saw every thing that he had made.   Genesis 1:31  Furthermore. and behold it was very good. He declares that He does not lie or repent: God is not a man that he should lie.63    because their king took a census (1 Chronicles 21) is too paranoid for any but the insane. neither the son of man that he should repent.   Genesis 6:6  He repents in other places such as: . we find: And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth. and they have to suffer for Adam’s defiance.   Genesis 2:17  Instead Adam lived to produce all the people on earth. Clarence Darrow said: They haven’t eaten as yet. Adam and Eve were put in a garden where everything was lovely and were allowed to stay there on one condition—that they didn’t eat of the tree of knowledge. As a rule they do not!   28 of the Contradictions in the Bible  1—God condemns Adam to a sure death if he were to eat the fruit of the tree of life: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. the gullible and theologians to worship. Indeed it is indicative of the totalitarian power of the priesthood and the gullibility of the people that this pigs ear of a religion has survived for so long. That has been the condition of the Christian church from then until now. thou shalt not eat of it. and it grieved him at his heart. The bible even makes a point of telling us how long Adam lived: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years.

  and the arm of thy father’s house. God is merciful: The Lord is good to all. should walk  before me for ever. the days come.   1 Samuel 2:30  But elsewhere. and his tender mercies are over all his work.   1 Corinthians 14:33  But that is not what Moses thought when he sings in joy that the Egyptian chariots had been drowned: The Lord is a man of war. in His aspect of the Son of God.64    And God saw their works. and the house of thy father.   Matthew 10:34  5—In Psalms.   Jonah 3:10  3—God reserves the right to change His mind: The Lord God of Israel saith. Be it far from me. Behold. that they turned from their evil way. saying: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. and God repented of the evil that he had  said that he would do unto them. that I will cut off thine arm. I said indeed that thy house.   Exodus 15:3  And Matthew has God himself.  and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. I change not.   Psalms 145:8  Elsewhere. I came not to send peace but a sword. for them that honour me I will honour. He is immovable: For I am the Lord. once He has made up His mind. He will always be merciful: . that there shall not be an old man in thine house.   Malachi 3:6  4—The chief apostle of Christianity tells us: God is not the author of confusion. but now the Lord saith. but of peace.

   Joshua 11:9  The prophet. and live. he tells us: No man hath seen God at any time. that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel. James. nor spare. utterly destroying them. nor have mercy. and burnt their chariots with  fire . and hang them up before the Lord  against the Sun.   Jeremiah 13:14. but destroy them. for there shall no man see me. John is the truly authoritative gospel of the four.   Numbers 25:4  6—According to many Christian clergy. He houghed their horses. But what did John know? Supposedly recording a speech of John the Baptist. with the edge of the sword.. For ye have kindled a fire in mine anger that  shall burn for ever.   James 5:11  But Joshua believed that God told him not to be merciful: And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him. take all the heads of the people. confirms it for Christians: The lord is very pitiful.   John 1:18  Well God did say to Moses: Thou canst not see my face.65    For his mercy endureth for ever.. and of tender mercy. 17:4  Numbers proves that Joshua probably had the right idea because God can be pretty gruesome when he gets angry: And the Lord said unto Moses.   Exodus 33:20  It is a bit odd since earlier Moses is supposed to have written: .   1 Chronicles 16:34  And the brother of Jesus. and smote all the souls that were therein. is certain that God is not merciful: I will not pity. Jeremiah.

   Exodus 23:11  Furthermore Jacob who God met and renamed Israel thus giving the tribe their name also claimed: I have seen God face to face. For example. the Lord.   Genesis 32:30  7—In case we had not noticed it. in God has to go out to check Sodom and Gomorrah: And the Lord said. God’s ability to spread himself about had vastly improved: Whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven. behold thou art there. Exodus explains: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth.   Isaiah 40:28  8—A characteristic of the earlier stories in the bible is that God is not omnipresent.66    And the Lord spake to Moses face to face. even there shall thy hand lead me. and my life is preserved.   Genesis 18:20  By the time the Psalmist was writing Psalms. If I make my bed in  hell.   Exodus 31:17  Nevertheless. because of the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great. and thy right hand shall hold me. and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. Adam and Eve finding it easy to hide from their creator: . neither is weary. I will know. thou art there. in the justification of the sabbath day in the creation story in Genesis. If I take the wings of the morning. and because their sin is very  grievous. as a man speaketh to his friend. and dwell in the uttermost parts of the  sea.   Psalms 109:7  9—The same evolution occurs with God’s omniscience. however. and if not. such a famous man as Isaiah had evidently not read his Torah because he says: Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God. fainteth  not. I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which  is come unto me. the creator of the ends of the earth.

   Judges 1:19  It is remarkable what advances can be made in a thousand years and by the start of the Christian era we are told in Matthew: With God all things are possible. there was nowhere to hide: For his eyes are upon the ways of man and he seeth all his goings.   Romans 2:11  But.67    And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God.   Genesis 3:8  Again though. because they had chariots of iron.   Matthew 19:26  11—In the writings of Paul we find: There is no respect of persons with God.   Malachi 1:2‐3  And Paul quotes this in his argument in Romans 9:13. whence the Christian use of “Amen” as an affirmation of a prayer—it supposedly means “truly”. among the trees of the  garden. there is no darkness nor shadow of  death. but could not drive out  the inhabitants of the valley. where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. or today people might say “right on”. we read: . God managing to stay one step ahead of mankind usually but.   Job 34:21  10—Evidently it all had to do with technology. God makes a point of being partial. God was improving with practice because by the time Job was experiencing his miseries. 12—Frequently the Jewish scriptures are keen to depict God as the God of truth. So far from being impartial. God says: Saith the Lord: I loved Jacob. In Deuteronomy 32:4. God had not yet entered the iron age: And the Lord was with Judah. and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain. in Malachi. And I hated Esau. in Judges.

   Nahum 1:2  The Israelites are struggling through the deserts of Sinai starving except for the manna provided by God.   Psalms 145:8  In the Christian part of the bible. and I will be a lying  spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. God deliberately sends out a lying spirit: And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord and said… I will go forth. slow to anger. But watch out. and the Lord revengeth. even a jealous God.68    A God of truth he is.   Numbers 11:31  . then apparently there is a blessing. the wrath of the Lord was kindled against them.   Deuteronomy 32:4  Yet. A storm blows in a load of quails and the grateful Israelites tuck into a feast at last. And be said… go forth and do so. and is furious the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries. and let them fall by the camp… and while the  flesh was between their teeth. the Old Testament. and of great mercy. and without iniquity.   Deuteronomy 4:24  Nahum has: God is jealous. you Israelites! This boon was sent only as a temptation and He is vengeful: A wind from the Lord brought forth quails from the sea.   1 John 4:16  What are we to make then of a large number of citations from the Jewish part of the bible. in 1 Kings. God is love. which give quite a different picture? Deuteronomy states: For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire.   1 Kings 22:21  13—The Christian idea of the Almighty is that he is a god of love and compassion: The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. and he smote them with  a great plague. it is explicit: And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.

69    Incidentally. Nevertheless. God does not agree with entrapment: Let no man say when he is tempted.   Joshua 7:10  Nor was God averse to killing children to punish the disobedience of their parents: I will send wild beasts among you that will rob you of your children. daughters…  and burnt them with fire and stoned them with stones. should a good god be tempting people? In the US today people should not be tempted according to the legal code—it is the crime of entrapment—though in the UK it is legal. so the Lord turned from the firmness of his  anger. he and all that he hath. According to James.   James 1:13  Well the passage cited above doesn’t actually say that the quails were sent as a temptation. and his sons. neither  tempteth he any man. God gives commands for the brutal punishment of those who had stolen booty from Jericho intended for the treasury of the priesthood: And the Lord said unto Joshua… he that is taken with the accursed thing [the booty] shall be burnt with  fire. In an illustration of the true purpose of all priestly religions.… and Joshua and all Israel with him took action. in Genesis. must have been wrong.. we read: And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham. in his epistle. the brother of the Son of God. I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted of evil.   Leviticus 26:22  Not only that but. though they were sent by God and they plainly were a temptation. the brother of Jesus. 14—God is not kind but brutal.   Leviticus 26:28  But he wasn’t awful only to the Israelites. he killed off plenty of their enemies too: . if anyone continued in disobeying the tyrant god. He says He will make them eat the flesh of their own children: Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury… and ye shall eat the flesh of your sons and of your  daughters.   Genesis 22:1  James..

as we saw at the creation. that God is peevish and out of spite. similar to the behaviour of the American soldiers at Mi Lai in Vietnam. Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites… and they slew  all the males. and to come unto the knowledge of truth. massacring all their males and. And the Lord spake unto Moses. and raping all the female children. and more recent examples in Iraq. and that they might have no favour. and judgements whereby they should not live. 15—Perhaps God is right and it is the people’s fault: The statutes of the Lord are right. It is.000 men.   Numbers 31:2. Have ye saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the children and every woman that  hath known man. he sometimes gives statutes that are not right: Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good.   Joshua 11:20  He ordered the most brutal savagery by the Israelites on the Midianites. having captured the women and children.17‐18  It is difficult to believe that children can be brought up with this god as an example but it might explain a lot of the savagery of the soldiers of supposedly civilised countries. and the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives… and Moses said unto  them.   Psalms 19:8  so if the people follow them they will live correctly.   . butchering the women and male children. for example.… but all the female children… keep alive for yourselves.70    And that night the angel of the Lord smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185. What are the right statutes and what are the wrong ones? It seems that Paul the apostle was aware of the same dilemma: God our saviour —will have all men to be saved.   2 Kings 19:35  this being the occasion when they woke up dead! God deliberately set up all the tribes of Canaan for destruction by the Israelites: For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle. confirmed by Ezekiel.   Ezekiel 20:25  That leaves any Jew or Christian with problems. that he might  utterly destroy them. The trouble is. saying.

 that all might be damned who  believe not the truth. his work is perfect.   Isaiah 14:21  But where did this iniquity come from in the first place? Again He tells us because we would never guess.   Exodus 20:5  It is repeated: Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers. that they shall believe a lie. and create evil.   Isaiah 45:7  . for all his ways are judgement. a God of truth and without iniquity. is just and right about punishing children for their fathers’ errors? Yet that is the theme running throughout the Christian theory of redemption. I the Lord do all these things.71    1 Timothy 2:4  And God assists with the work of the devil to tempt the unrighteous.   Deuteronomy 32:4  And He is a righteous judge: Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?   Genesis 18:25  What. especially if we are Christians: I make peace. though.   2 Thessalonians 2:11‐12  Evidently this lie is not an easy one to see through—it is a strong delusion. God tells us himself: For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.  just and right is he. visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the  third and fourth generation. accepting that some cannot be saved: God shall send them a strong delusion. 16—Perhaps that is the only way to reconcile the evidence with the claim that God is just in : He is the Rock. A reasonable guess at what it is would be the Jewish-Christian religion.

 concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. an offering made by fire. a couple of significant prophets if ever there were any: To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me.  until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was consumed.   Psalms 30:5  but. when the Israelites were in the wilderness: The Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel.   Numbers 32:13  18—Christian churches no longer have the ritual sacrifice of animals that the Jewish religion required. But is that right? Does God want sacrifice or doesn’t he? As usual it depends where you look. but joy  cometh in the morning.   Leviticus 1:9  That’s clear enough then. saith the Lord… I delight not in the blood of  bullocks or of lambs.   Isaiah 1:11  Jeremiah says that God never told them to offer sacrifices anyway: For I spake not unto your fathers. and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years. But what about Isaiah and Jeremiah.   Jeremiah 7:22  . 17—Psalms seeks to persuade us His anger endureth but a moment: For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night.72    There is a curious circularity here which renders God an unsuitable judge but which God doesn’t seem to notice or doesn’t expect us to notice.   Exodus 34:36  And the priest shall burn all on the altar to be a burnt sacrifice. In the Jewish scriptures in many places God commands His people to offer up sacrifices: Thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement. of a sweet  savour unto the Lord. nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land  of Egypt.

you Christians.   Deuteronomy 12:30  So do not look back in your bible. Only bits of the animal are burnt to offer up a savour to god. The rest is scoffed by the priests. a follower of the God of love.73    It’s all in the Holy Book. both of man and of beast. who therefore do not have to work. but I will not answer. And that is what God seems to command: Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them… for even their sons and their daughters  have they burnt in the fire of their gods. The priests never had to atone for the sin of Adam by the sweat of their brow. Nowadays. but shall not find me. must expect that their God forbids human sacrifice. They shall seek me early.   . and the Lord hath not done it?   Amos 3:6  20—Any Christian. because you find in Leviticus that God commands human sacrifice among the sacrifices that shall be offered to Him: No devoted thing that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath. but shall surely be put to death. and he that seeketh findeth. shall be sold or redeemed.   Leviticus 27:28  21—Christianity depends strongly upon the supposed compassion of the otherwise vengeful God: Every man that asketh receiveth. None devoted which shall be devoted of men shall be redeemed.  and of the field of his possession. every devoted thing is most holy unto the  Lord.   Psalms 25:8  but Amos says that whenever evil occurs it is the Lord’s work: Shall there be evil in a city. sacrifices are not needed because priests get their income from the platter or by special donations from those trying to buy their way into heaven— altogether more sophisticated! 19—Psalms assures us: Good and upright is the Lord.   Matthew 7:8  Let the Christians only read Proverbs: Then they shall call upon me. so what do you believe? Of course the purpose of sacrifices is to feed the priesthood.

 and ye shall put them on your sons and  your daughters.   Leviticus 24:17  23—What of lesser crimes? God firmly forbids stealing: Thou shalt not steal. infants and babes in arms: Now. and go in and out from gate to  gate throughout the camp and slay every man his brother… his companion. God liking to have it both ways—an eye for an eye. Naturally God forbids murder.   Exodus 32:27  And murder his enemies. Put every man his sword by his side. being adamant that: Thou shalt not kill. Curious it is then that in God tells people they must murder those close to him. jewels of silver and of gold and raiment.   Exodus 20:15  Yet the passage when the Israelites are preparing to leave Egypt seems to command stealing.   Exodus 3:21  . but every woman shall borrow of her neighbour. “spoil” meaning “despoil” or plunder: When ye go ye shall not go empty. and spare them not. and… his neighbour.   1 Samuel 15:3  Do Christians really believe this barbarity? Admittedly. in Leviticus there is the crudest evidence of justice. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel. and of her that  sojourneth in her home. infant and suckling. man women.   Exodus 20:13  It seems fairly definite. go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have. but slay both man  and woman. though now rape perhaps is worse. a murder for a murder: He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.74    Proverbs 1:28  22—The worst crime in our society has always been murder.

But is that what turning the other cheek means? 26—All of this is simply taking advantage of the innocent inconsistencies in an old book.75    24—God is certain in Exodus that he forbids adultery: Thou shalt not commit adultery. if the woman is not the wife of anyone you know: When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies. and his wife a widow… Let his children be continually vagabonds and beg. You have to look to the New Testament for that.   Psalms 109  One might argue that in the one case the revenge is against one’s own people and that is wrong. but it is all right to take revenge on one’s enemies. some might say.   Deuteronomy 31:10  25—It might seem surprising that such a vengeful god should command that vengeance is wrong. but he does: Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people. So we hear from Paul the Apostle in his own words: Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. then shalt thou bring her home to thine home …and she shall be thy wife.   Leviticus 19:18  It almost comes as a relief when we read as far as Psalms to find: Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the lord and of them that speak evil against my soul…  Let his children be fatherless. The Old Testament is not meant to be the full revelation of God.   Romans 10:13  This surely is the epitome of Christianity. Why then does Matthew disagree: . and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thy  hands… and seest among the captives a beautiful woman.  let them seek their bread also out of desolate places. but thou shalt love thy  neighbour as thyself.   Exodus 20:14  But by the time we get to the book of Deuteronomy. and thou hast a desire unto her that thou  wouldst have her to thy wife. things have changed a bit and now He commands adultery.

If Simon carried it.   Matthew 26:19  Yet. Jesus was a magician in the eyes of the Pagans. Is John right? If so.76    Not every one that saith unto me Lord. then Matthew.   1 Corinthians 1:17  We could go on. as a book which is reliable in its statements. while the fourth gospel says that Jesus himself carried it. lord. Priests and Pastors like to have it both ways. It is easy when you are joining. and if Jesus carried it. think about this…  The oracles of Delphi were divine to a Greek mind. Christians put forth the bible as a work which in some way came from God. 28—Jesus says: Therefore go and make disciples of all men. but. and if one is true the other is false. 27—Who carried the cross upon which Jesus was crucified? Three of the gospels declare that Simon carried the cross. baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and  of the Holy Spirit. Mark and Luke are wrong. it is patent to everyone that in the gospels there are two distinct accounts of the carrying of the cross. Jesus could not have done so.  .   Matthew 7:21  This is the fundamental disagreement between Paul and the Jerusalem church that no Christian can resolve. thereafter. shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. but they were of diabolical origin according to the  judgment of Christians. then Simon did not. Paul can declare: For Christ did not send me to baptise. and correct in its narrative of events. Before you go. Now. It must be admitted by all that a rational mind could not have written or inspired both of these stories. Paul says anyone can be saved but James says it depends on what you have done. while the Christians worshipped  him as the son of God. and a man who performed miracles. How can Christians reconcile this fact with their theory that God is the author of the bible? There are too many gospels. it depends on whether you do what you are told. too many stories of Jesus. but he that doeth  the will of my father which is in heaven. They contradict each other in so many essential points as to make them totally unreliable as records of facts. It would have been better for Christianity had all but one of these narratives been destroyed.

 because it promises believers eternal life. 30 May 2002 • • • • • • • • • Life or Death?   Truth or Lies?   Historical Settings   House of David?   Shishak—Sheshonq?   Exodus   Ur or Urfa?   Belshazzar and Darius   Overwhelming Evidence   Abstract  The “truth of the bible is of vital importance to all of us”. Is the Bible Fact or Fiction? The Bible. and one  offers us over 40 major archaeological discoveries which endorse scripture. It is the core of the  Christian scam. rightly or wrongly.   John Bowden. Christians therefore claim evidence for the truth of the bible is overwhelming. The skeptic wants to know what  position these “scholars” held vis‐a‐vis biblical truth. the US ranked last in algebra. SCM  © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Thursday. Christians tell us—a matter of life and death. Were they objective or did they have a biblical axe  to grind? Here the evidence offered is examined. like other areas of Christian theology.77    Understanding the History of the Bible In tests of 17 year olds across the world. had put in it. Christians are also fond of  claiming biblical critics have been “roundly defeated by scholars”.  5. US kids averaging 43% (F) and  Japanese kids 78% (B). has actually failed to stand up to the trust that  Christians.  meaning eternal life and eternal death.   Life or Death?    .

He is saying that no one should ask questions like that! Christians do not like to be questioned about their beliefs.   “Did Moses really exist?” is a perfectly sensible question. says it “echoes the scepticism and the agnosticism that is both fashionable and respectable with so many leading scholars and academics today”. Rom 6:23. but who knows that these are the words of Christ. if the bible is not true. how shall ye believe my words?   John 5:46‐47  So the question arises as to whether even the words of Christ are to be believed. He adds that this includes the recorded statement of the Lord Jesus Christ that: Had ye believed Moses. If no one is allowed to question them. Christians cannot consider that either. It depends on the integrity of the biblical authors. he could have been mistaken. We are back to the heathen hordes who will get no blessing from God. ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. If he were a man then he could. the nation that turns its back upon the word of God and His teaching cannot expect His protection or blessing (Gen 12:3. whereas unbelief and sin will result in death” (Dt 30:19. and if Christ were himself a Christian we can be sure he would! If he were a plain man. The “truth of the bible is of vital importance to all of us”. and their human fallibility. Jn 5:28-29). then its promise of life must be false. What would it matter if they were indeed false words? It is only because Christians believe that the bible is true and Jesus was God that they think the words the New Testament records are true and Jesus could never lie. Of course we should consider their integrity. then they have no need to defend the indefensible. but it seems it has not. Jer 18:7-10). as well as of those who later endorsed them. not anyone with discernment) because. Moreover.78    Is the bible fact or fiction? Are the accounts of the bible true? Our answer is a matter of life and death. locked into Christian irrationality. ultimately because they know they are irrational and ill-founded. says the bible. for “belief and obedience will bring us life. It is true. But if ye believe not his  writings. This sort of racist monoculturalism ought to have been rejected even by Christians. because they are not considering evidence but only testing their own dogmatism. Ps 9:17-20. according to somebody called Paul Billington. but there are two possibilities at least—they had it or they did not—and Christians will consider only one. but Billington. (he means Christians. Billington wants us to consider the integrity of those who wrote the scriptures. Mk 16:15-16. while the Christian nations will. This was the state of Europe for over a thousand .

Well. It proves that even Christian metaphors are lies. The film contains historic truths but from the film alone. . and offers us over 40 major archaeological discoveries (“and this is by no means exhaustive”) which endorse scripture. Never to seek whether it was true. It might be that the realism of the setting tells us something about history. because Christians have never been encouraged to inquire. in this. Yet all of them are fictional! They are not true. that really happened in history. we shall look in a moment at the evidence Billington offers. It suited the rulers of society whether it suited God or not. In fact. we might note that there was a Roman emperor called Marcus Aurelius. history shows that Christian control brought down a profound darkness and it only lifted with the Enlightenment. Yet. but he had no general Maximus who became a gladiator. and Christians generally. are so besotted by the book that they have already been told—in their indoctrination into Christianity—is a holy and therefore infallible book. Why should the emergence from Christendom be called the Enlightenment? Christianity always claims to be light. People had to believe it. but backwoodsmen like Billington want to take us back there. there was an Emperor Marcus Aurelius. in a more or less realistic setting. but first let us consider precisely what he is trying to claim. Billington has no idea of how inquiry works. is true? We simply cannot tell from the film alone. Christians were expected never to ask anything about what they believed. What. “The bible is not true”? What does Billington understand by this. and that was it.79    years before the Enlightenment. none of them are true. It is not a matter of discernment on their part. in Gladiator. He says questioning “reflects the unbelief which we see in modern society”. because people have passed beyond this backwards and superstitious phase we had in our history. that they believe everything in it. He speaks of the truth of the bible. but it is only something we can accept because we have independent historical proof. although they contain various degrees of truth in them. Now Billington. Thus. but what does he mean by this? Is he saying he is refuting some such claim as. but simply stick to “belief and obedience”. and the realism of the setting does not make them true. Truth or Lies?  Billington says evidence for the truth of the bible is overwhelming. The fact that the settings are fairly realistic does not mean that the storyline is true. mainly fiction set in a variety of more or less realist settings in the first millennium BC up until the first century AD. if it is what he is refuting? Is the film Star Wars true? Is the film Four Weddings and a Funeral true? Is the film Gladiator true? Is the film The Madness of King George true? Is the film The Longest Day true? Of course. They vary from purely fantastic science fiction. It is not true now. and he had a general called Maximus who finished up as a gladiatior. It is true! That is the end of it! Biblical skeptics say no more than that the bible is essentially a devotional literary work. through everyday fiction set in the modern day to fictional representations of events. no one knows what they are.

it does not verify the rest. It is general evidence that any intelligent person—of the type likely to be writing such a book— would know at the time. if ever. it  provides physical evidence of bible truth. Pettinato identified as Sodom a city mentioned in the Eblaite tablets as Sidamu. but when it is found in some cases.80    What is true can only be determined by external evidence. or that Moses was invented by the Maccabees. but that is what Christian tricksters like Billington try to make out. nowhere near the Dead Sea.   One could claim with equal ease that Billington is doing the opposite. and even . Billington blames the change on to pressure from the Syrian Government. but scholars should never mix up truth with Christian “truth”. even though he deigns to accept that “professionals” were involved. Rarely. then scholars must say so. The Inquisition is not yet repealed. the gospels must be true. Since they were originally written by the Persians who had access to the royal and diplomatic archives of Assyria and Babylon. but only verification from outside proves it. Billington rightly says that archaeology puts us in direct contact with the past—and in a different way from written records. professor Giovanni Pettinato. An example of recent battles over historicity has been one concerning the Ebla tablets discovered in 1976. epigrapher of the Italian excavation team. and he can hardly deny that even the Syrian government could not alter baked clay tablets 4000 years old. It shows the scandalous depths that supposed Christians will sink to to defend their so-called faith. but Archi said another tablet placed Sidamu in northern Syria. or could find out. All Billington is doing is finding the parts of the biblical setting for which there is external evidence. Billington even says without a blush: Anti‐Zionist elements did not want to see any evidence brought to light which might support the book of  Genesis—and therefore Israel’s early claim to the land of Canaan. Scholars with the temerity to question the validity of scriptural ideas have been faced with this unpleasant and intimidating baloney. was discredited for saying that the Ebla tablets referred to Sodom and Gomorrah and other biblical cities. When a stone monument or clay tablet is unearthed bearing the name of a person in scripture. and so Jesus really rose from the dead” is obviously absurd. that such “evidence” does not prove the bible stories to be true. is it particular evidence. An Italian archaeologist. If scholarship finds that the Passion of Jesus was a mystery play. Using the vilest calumny. His successor. it is true that there is genuine history in the bible. Let us be clear again. Christian “truth” says otherwise. Historical Settings  So let us be clear. Christian truth is too often pious lying. Alfonso Archi disagreed. It is not isolated. because much of Billington’s “evidence” is simply that the settings of the biblical stories actually fit the first millennium BC. At best all it shows is that the authors made some effort to be sure that the books they were writing for their own political purposes were as historically accurate as they could make them.   But to say “because Pontius Pilate in the gospels is a real historic figure.

Let us say it does mean that. do they want to defy their own God? Another fierce controversy has raged over the Dead Sea Scrolls. with awkward questions being asked as to why the scrolls were not being published—and why even fully qualified experts were not being permitted to see the unpublished material. Hershel Shanks. House of David?  In 1993. Were they objective or did they have the biblical truth axe to grind? The fact of the matter does not need scholars. will resist anything contrary to the bible. or whether Israelites lived there all the time because they were Canaanites as claimed by bible skeptics is a controversial question. as Billington tells us. then it has gone for good! Billington thinks whether Joshua conquered Palestine (as the bible says). Billington deceptively writes: When experts themselves cannot agree. it has to uphold the bible. as often happens. though. although what remains strongly suggests Jesus was an Essene with an eschatological aim—well outlined on these pages—not enough alters the essence of Christianity. The question has been settled apart from dyed-in-the-wool rednecks who will not accept plain evidence because of their faith or politics. to damage it. If any did. then it has been thoroughly suppressed because. far more so than if it had not been  subjected to that process. challenged the claim. The inscriptions says “bytdwd”. It is not merely a question of certain discoveries supporting the bible’s record. but typically.” Thus he says: When. or calls the experts “skeptics. but it is far from certain.81    Christian scholars should not indulge in it.   And. on the other hand. why do they think He wants them to lie for Him? If He has a purpose in exposing Christianity as a scam. The debate is over what it means. If Rome was involved in suppressing evidence.  but that those discoveries have been subjected to the most rigorous examination possible by men who  are often hostile to the concept of bible truth. scrutinized and questioned—and yet survives the  scholarly critics and sceptics—then we know that it is reliable indeed. what are laymen to make of it all?   Billington wants to use the close examination of experts as part of his argument for biblical truth. for believers. that evidence is examined. Philip R Davies. otherwise he does not want to hear it. It seems to say. in Dan. “House of David”. Evidence has been presented to show how that the Vatican was at work suppressing scroll material. the first inscription apparently bearing the phrases “House of David” and “King of Israel” was found. in many cases. Billington tells us a critic. but can easily be explained for people to make up their own minds. editor of Biblical Archaeology Review defended the Vatican (Nov/Dec issue 1991). What .” The skeptic wants to know what position these “scholars” held vis-a-vis biblical truth. saying the inscription had been wrongly translated. If they believe in God. “Davies was later roundly defeated by two other scholars. whatever the evidence.

otherwise he could not have been in it. Skeptics are interested in history. Billington turns again to context.82    does “House of David” mean? The bible truth crackpots immediately say it refers to the Jewish founder David. it could imply that David. but the biblicist Egyptologist. only fools and charlatans pretend it is. a house really meant something grander. but after 164 BC. not always honestly. Daniel alludes so plainly to events of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes of Seleucia that the book can be dated within a year or two of 164 BC. not dogma. Shishak—Sheshonq?  Billington goes on with his citation of kings. and that house means dynasty. So.   The Egyptian kings. However. a later king is alluded to so clearly that he can be identified without a name. seeking to amaze ignorant Christians by citing the kings of Israel and Judah whose names have been found in Assyrian and Babylonian records. since people lived in tents or simple houses. called Darius only and wrongly assumed by biblicists to be the Great Darius. because nothing after then can be identified. Hezekiah and Manasseh. says that the “n” was silent in the Egyptian pronunciation. Jehu. It is nothing less than the line of people that led to Jesus. If the “k” was deliberately added. When it is not. whose popular name was Shisha. hoping that no one will notice. there are five of them. But “house” is more likely to mean a… er. so everyone in the country were of Khumri’s house. supposed to be Shishak are called Sheshonq or Shoshenq. several Syrian kings. Billington actually admits this in his list of examples. are not among them. Others are less convinced and think that Shishak might have referred to Rameses II. Christians like to think. if house means followers as it often does. might have been a god with a temple. Omri. but skeptics already accept that it is not! What he succeeds in doing is showing that the bible was not written until the last of these kings lived. professor Kenneth Kitchen. Billington desperately seeks to prove that the bible is not science fiction like Star Wars. an Egyptian king. but House of Khumri in Assyrian records did not mean the dynasty but the country. Ahab. Darius I. The Assyrians called Israel the House of Khumri. supposedly the greatest kings of Israel and Judah. a Babylonian king and several Persian kings found in the bible had been identified in external records. Hoshea. Khumri. Azariah. Daniel suddenly lost his prophetic skills. The “n” is absent from the Hebrew rendering. and several Assyrian kings. He might even have been a god with followers. house! Or rather. If David is shown to be a great tenth century prince. for their own reasons. Christians will tell us it was prophecy. naturally: In 1799 the discovery of an Egyptian relief depicted Pharaoh Shishak who is mentioned in 1 Kings 14:25‐ 26. they are glad that the evidence is clear. it . apparently the biblical Omri. a dwelling for a god—a temple. The “k” was a diliberate addition by the biblical authors to make the name sound like “Hooligan” in Hebrew. The last one is probably Darius II of Persia. Pekah. who has never been mentioned as a king of Judah outside the bible in any documents. certainly had a dynasty which ruled Israel for a short while. Menahem. not Shishak. David and Solomon. but he is pleased to announce that by 1870.

any of the Sheshonqs could have been the model for Shishak. Isa 36-37). which refers to King Hezekiah of Jerusalem by name. In about 1850 an Assyrian prism was discovered which described Sennacherib’s invasion of the kingdom of Judah. if the story of Solomon is a romance. and his name is Solomon (Salimanu-eser. but the prism and the bible are unanimous that Hezekiah paid a large tribute. but. There is no mention of a murderous angel killing a large body of Assyrians. and. finds it impossible to tell the truth.83    means that the various Sheshonqs are less likely as Shishak because even if Kitchen is right that the “n” was silent. Billington does not stop to consider that. and was a contemporary of a Jeroboam. The Taylor Prism. but Jeroboam II (794-754 BC). Indeed. Sheshonq V who reigned 773-735 BC. The Moabite Stone tells a different story from the bible. but not Jeroboam I. The best candidate is the last. the single biblical verse is so terse and out of context. but the Moabite god was not Yehouah! Billington jumps to Hezekiah of Judah. and  brought water into the city. indeed. such as that they both had the same attitude to god. The Moabite Stone tells us that certain things were common between Moab and Israel. that a set of kings from the eighth century have been written backwards in history as the basis of the biblical romance of the greatness of an Israelite Solomon. according to N P Lemche. and a conduit. It looks more likely to the skeptic. since it can be seen today. the two cannot be reconciled. who could have reported with no other knowledge that the tunnel was built by Hezekiah. It so happens that Shalmaneser IV (782-773 BC) was a strong king of Assyria at this same time. In no way does the biblical mention show that the reports in the bible of Hezekiah are contemporary. A king of Phœnicia also at this time was a Hiram. like all Christian apologists. the “q” was not as well! Shishak is assumed to have been Sheshonq I because he lived at the right time for Solomon. some of those skeptics that Billington does not like to open their mouths think the verse was added because the tunnel was built by the Maccabees. Solomon directs). and all his might. are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?   2 Kgs 20:20  “Hezekiah’s” tunnel can be seen by visitors to Jerusalem still today. it could be seen by the authors of the bible. . The discovery of the Moabite Stone in 1868 revealed that 2 Kings 3:4‐5 was describing a real event  involving real people.   Billington. The prism shows that Sennacherib seiged Jerusalem into submitting and Hezekiah paid a large tribute to be spared. is the Assyrian version of the story told in 2 Kings chapter 18 (2 Chr 32:1-23. in the absence of any evidence of the biblical stories of the tenth century. and how he made a pool. In 1880 a plaque was discovered in a tunnel in Jerusalem and describes the construction of the conduit that brought water into the city: And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah.

We are now well into recorded history. other than in the last decade or so of Israel’s existence. he cannot resist returning to it in a few paragraphs. and so regularly gets cited by crooked apologists like Billington. Kathleen Kenyon. sub voce “Jericho”  . although. Since the skeptics are not questioning the historical background to the bible after about 850 BC—except perhaps that Judah was never a parallel kingdom with Israel. “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Billington therefore leaves it at that. Exodus  Scholars say that there is no proof whatsoever that the exodus took place. William Dever.84    The same applies to the seige of Lachish by Sennacherib. He does however have a go at British archaeologist. Even Father Anthony Axe of the Ecole Biblique. c 2300 BC at latest. there is no sign of cultural change in the centuries of deposits excavated around the supposed conquest. Jerusalem. admits: A massive exodus that led to the drowning of Pharaoh’s army would have reverberated politically and  economically through the entire region. calls Moses a mythical figure. Archaeolologist. and most importantly.” He says that those who sensibly think without evidence nothing should be presumed to exist are on the “dubious ground of having to argue from silence”. The city was deserted during the time of Joshua. his only claim to fame is that he contradicts every reputable archaeologist about Jericho. when Judah probably seceded from Israel with Assyrian support—Billington turns to the real points of contention. like most apologists. When something is believed despite the silence. with the Assyrians keeping concise but well publicised records and drawing bas reliefs of their campaigns. He simply contradicts Kenyon. it is impossible to argue rationally for it. take comfort in the ramblings of Bryant Wood. the history of Israel and Judah before 850 BC—the period of biblical history before the so-called divided monarchy. A singularly inconsequential man. a popular pastime for timewasting believers these days. She found no evidence whatsoever of Joshua’s conquest of the city of Jericho.   Billington resorts to the old Christian fall-back. a Vatican institution. Kenyon. He did find evidence of Joshua’s assault on Jericho and Kenyon was biased or got it wrong. however. is no biblical minimalist but says of Kenyon’s work at Jericho (emphasis added): Garstang had dated a massive mudbrick city wall to the fifteenth century BC and thus adduced it as  evidence of the Israelite destruction claimed in Joshua 6 (relying on the date of c 1446 BC for the exodus  as typical of the scholarship of the day). Billington. William Dever. a University of Arizona archaeologist and scarcely skeptical. showed conclusively that this was the city  wall of the last urban Early Bronze phase. Other biblical critics argue that the Israelites cannot have settled the land of Canaan by conquest because there are no signs of any such conquest that are not better explained by local wars. Records like these would certainly have been known by the Persian or Greek authors of the bible as we know it.   Lutterworth Dictionary of the bible.

No one who is sane would do it. The fact is that the Moslem tradition. and from  there to Canaan?   Especially if the Ur is Urfa. Do not expect biblical apologists to be selfconsistent. The conspiracy has always been by professional Christians against those who want to get at the truth. Billington is merely stating his beliefs in that the home of Abraham was the southern Ur rather than the northern one. Billington introduces the same excuse over the conquered city of Ai. and the name had stuck. The biblical authors knew it as a ruin at best. He asks: What reason is there then. it would be remarkable if a civilization as long as Egypt’s did not have plagues and pestilence. and especially the last one! Billington’s excuse for the absence of archaeological evidence of Moses and the exodus is that no one really knows just where to look. but gets pretty hazy from sheer dishonesty. supported by many modern scholars. or is this more chicanery? In the bible Chaldaea is synonymous with Babylon. The conquest of it is therefore an attempt to explain aetiologically why it was ruined.” He must mean the mountain. but they did not have the biblical sequence of plagues. not in the previous one when Abraham is supposed to have founded the patiarchal tradition. He simply does not know. to Haran.85    To believe Wood against these reputable archarologists is like believing Yuri Geller against Einstein. Ur or Urfa?  Ur of the Chaldees—the native city of Abraham (Gen 11:31) has been identified.  Has it indeed. “The real historical location of Sinai is still largely guesswork. It is far from being quantum mechanics. but the scholars consider it was only so in the last millennium BC. Haran was famous as a transit and trading city. Nor is it strictly true that there is absolutely no evidence of the Exodus—an ancient Egyptian account of  a series of disasters suspiciously like the famous ten plagues came to light several years ago. The route was a regular trade route and was plied with caravans. there is every reason to think that a lot of men and women undertook the journey. This  evidence was quickly buried…   Billington often likes to hint at suppressed evidence. and most Christians intelligent or curious enough to know this think that this Ur is the one meant in the bible. to doubt that a man called Abram travelled from Ur. and obviously they did. he will not want to know. implying some sort of conspiracy against the faithful ones. and otherwise a place called “Ruin” because it had once been a noted ruin. and it is possible that any of the men could have been called Abram. . and implied by the bible is that the city of Ur is really Urfa in modern Turkey. “Scholars just aren’t sure if they have the right spot!” The truth is that Ai means ruin. near the border with Syria. He even tells us among his set of examples that maps have been discovered of their journey. The city of Ur is in the very south of Mesopotamia. This is a neighbouring town to the city of Haran with which many of the patriarchs were plainly associated in the bible. Needless to say. but if the scholars find out. because there is no need to guess where the Israelites had to go to get from the Nile Delta to Jericho.

merely because we have not found any external evidence to confirm it? To reject Humpty-Dumpty on such grounds must. The plain original of the Genesis Creation myth has been found in Mesopotamia in more than one version. require pre-conceived anti-Humpty prejudice. Possible also. This sadly simple man says the mythology of India has the Nagas which “usually appear in the form of ordinary snakes”. and the general set of myths in Genesis obviously originate as a whole from Mesopotamia as the story of Tower of Babel plainly shows. statues of which “are always placed under a tree”. Going to desperate extremes.” Such echoes of Genesis are too close to be missed!   Anything so foolish can hardly be argued against. the fall into disgrace and the expulsion  from paradise. is that ancestor worship developed heroic tales of the ancestors and these became local gods.   So. the role of the serpent. Billington claims now that the fact that the bible contains so many identifiable early and widespread myths is proof of it! The creation of man. and how is it that the bible plainly relates . if nothing else. the fruit of the tree. Noah already had the bible complete in those just post-diluvian times because Billington declares the bible “is the original (as this writer believes)”. 10:32). since the bible implies it. Billington fatuously argues: Is it reasonable to claim that the bible account of this is a fable. are themes which are found in various forms and in most cultures throughout the  world—and those themes are found to be as old as the cultures themselves. Isaac and Jacob were possibly local gods still remembered when the bible was first set down in the middle of the first millennium.   Is it reasonable to claim that Humpty-Dumpty is a fable. But fear not. It is unlikely and unreasonable to believe that the tales told of them are true history miraculously preserved. those among you Christians who thought the bible was the unique revelation of God will have to think again. then why were not equivalent myths from the rest of the bible so derived. require pre‐ conceived anti‐bible prejudice. Buddhism has “the tree of wisdom. Abram. Yet their author was supposed to have been an Egyptian! If the bible preceded all these other myths and they were derived from it. it seems. Billington notices a potential gaffe here and turns it to his advantage—all world cultures are derived from a common beginning—Noah and his sons (Gen 9:19. Wanderers like nomads and travellers kept each other entertained at night with tall stories just as Chaucer told 3000 years later. merely because we have not found any  external evidence to confirm it? To reject the bible on such grounds must. perforce. perforce. Keeping diaries on tablets of stone was not practical. and other myths must be “corruptions that have evolved from that source”.86    What is impossible is that the detailed adventures of one of these should have been set down contemporaneously for us all to read 4000 years later.

Whoever wrote the romance of Daniel in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. stated: “There is no Belshazzar. These letters also refer to a prophet who was seen to be demoralizing the people and instigating a policy of non-resistance to the Babylonians (Jer 38:1-4. Belshazzar was the son and regent of king Nabonidus. says: The story of Belshazzar has all the hallmark’s of historical fiction and needs to be read in the light of the  Jewish persecution by Antiochus IV Epiphanes…   Belshazzar was not the king (Dan 5:1). sub voce Belshazzar. discovered in the 1930s. was not the son of Nebuchadrezzar (Dan 5:2) and probably died fighting the Persians rather than while feasting. John C H Laughlin in Lutterworth’s Dictionary. Xenophon refers to it in Persian times. 2 Kings 24:17). or Jer 26:20-21). In fact. so Farrer. That is God’s Truth! The city of Lachish was one of the few remaining cities prior to the complete collapse of the kingdom of Judea (Jer 34:7).87    historic events up to the second century BC when it was. They mention several names that also appear in Jeremiah—Gemariah (Jer 36:10). Billington jumps to the conclusion. like Belshazzar at the start of this section. mixed up these two conquests of Babylon. some of which had already become legendary. according to Billington.” No such king was known and indeed.   . the original of myths thousands of years older? Prophecy? Even Christians must have difficulty accepting this. with most scholars admittedly. and Billington concludes hopefully: The unexpected sometimes shows up!   What Billington does not want to tell his little luvvies is that Daniel was written 400 years after all these events. though he evidently did have a great feast at some point. The Persian king when Babylon fell was Cyrus. because Belshazzar was regent (second ruler) to the king and Daniel would be the next in authority. Farrer was proved wrong. So. but the confusion is that Babylon rebelled at the start of the reign of Darius the Great and he recaptured it in 521 BC. in 1895. and the bible right in this instance. Billington now comes to the Lachish letters. no such king ever existed. Mattaniah (who is King Zedekiah. Jaazaniah (Jer 35:3). Billington retrieves the historicity of Belshazzar but omits to tell his admiring clappies the rest of the story. So. and the offer to Daniel that he would be “third ruler” meant just that. thought he was an invention—like Maximus in Gladiator. 400 years after the events. that these are the people mentioned in the bible and he writes: The reality of these people and of the situation as described in the bible is thus confirmed for us. the devout Christian scholar and Dean of Canterbury. surely? Belshazzar and Darius  Billington tells us that Dr Farrer. Neriah and Baruch (Jer 36:4). The conqueror of Babylon was not Darius the Mede (Dan 5:31). an unknown man. Belshazzar’s feast was well known widely.

If the dating is wrong. soon after tha city had started to be rebuilt. together with other seals and bullae. Billington says: Without any doubt this is the man who was Jeremiah’s scribe (Jer 36. It is like someone dating the Last Days of Pompeii. A finger print on the seal is  probably his. to the first century AD because that is what its contents were about! The seal should have been dated independently and the book called Jeremiah dated from that. and other parasites.88    Well. works set in the past but really allegories of the then present day? The Persian period is almost absent in Judah for the simple reason that the bent scholars dated all Persian strata as Babylonian or Assyrian strata. 45). The actual situation might have been 100 years later when the Egyptians. revolted against Persia and had to suffer corrective expeditions which were quite savage. Yet in “the burnt remains of a home” were pig bones and other un-Jewish items! A toilet was also discovered which revealed that the people were infested with tape worms from pork. One of these seals read “Belonging to Baruch son of Neriah”. but Jeremiah is dated from its own account. but was the situation the right one.   The seal is dated from Jeremiah. unless they came to order! A number of seals were identified in 1986 which dated to this same time (supposedly 586 BC). The seal of Gemariah. The author of Jeremiah had written his account dated at the time of the previous conquest by Babylon to show that the situation was parallel and so would the fate of the Jews be. This man was among the first audience ever to hear the prophecy (Jer 36:12-13). the people might have been real. if the identities were felt to be secure. and the destruction is from more than 100 years later in the Persian period. or that people being settled in the area by the Persians did not have the same taboo against pigs that the Jews had. The dating is circular in all of these instances. If the archaeologists have dated this layer correctly. and that is that many more seals and bullae come from the Persian period than from earlier times in Judah! Another example is a seal-bulla found in excavations in Jerusalem (1982-1983) which reads “belonging to Gemariah son of Shaphan”. The biblicists immediately react that it is proof of “idolatry and wickedness”. The Babylonians burnt the great houses of Jerusalem to the ground (Jer 52:13). it is proof that before the Persian conquest the religion of the people was not Judaism as it became. and note the absence of grain foods and the presence of pollens. but if one happened in about 450 BC. by Bulwer Lytton. One thing is certain. it suggests that the Persians had still not introduced Judaism. Biblicists see in it evidence of the Babylonian siege. . that would be the most evident destruction layer. The destruction found at Lachish among which the letters were found was assumed from a comparison with Jeremiah to have been the conquest by Babylon in about 587 BC. It might indeed be interpreted as a seige. or were to have. or had Jeremiah done what the author of Daniel and other biblical authors did—written pseudepigraphs. were discovered in a “thick level of soot” according to The Jerusalem Post. assisted by the Jews.

 and Accad. the call of Abraham and his journey of faith has a historical basis to it that cannot be denied.   Genesis 10:10‐12  Billington says. The argument is not that the bible is set in an imaginery place. 2. to improve trade through improving trust. Typical Christian trickery. remembering that the realistic setting of a novel does not make its storyline true. Why should anyone imagine that the ancient authors did not know about them? The fact that it is set in the ancient near east does not make its content true! Compare the film. and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his  countenance upon thee. Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons. For this reason. and  Calah. but that ought to be clear enough anyway. and introduced coinage.89    Some false weights were also discovered. hollowed out to give less than true value. and keep thee:  The LORD make his face shine upon thee. Thus the setting for the Genesis narrative. The setting is not denied. Gladiator. and I will bless them. And the LORD spake unto Moses. The tirade of Jeremiah against deceit is far more appropriate for the Persian period that any time before. They show the biblical authors were not dunces. and Erech. Overwhelming Evidence  Let us look at the list Billington gives as his overwhelming evidence of the truth of the bible. and Calneh. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel. saying. simple historical facts from the bible that have been shown to be historic are simply listed at the end. On this  wise ye shall bless the children of Israel. but the story and the main characters were still fictional. Inded. the earliest that are mentioned in the bible were uncovered by archaeologists over a century ago and have been positively identified. and can not be used as evidence that the events in it actually happened. but that does not date the account. Billington says it brings to life the picture described in Jeremiah 9:2-6. And they shall put my name upon the children of  Israel. and give thee peace. And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. and even had some historic characters in it. these cities. saying unto them. It was convincingly set in the second century Roman empire. The Persians were sticklers for honesty because of the importance of trade to the empire. So also the ancient Canaanite and Egyptian civilizations are known. and the city Rehoboth. in the land of  Shinar. A lot of the evidence is merely commonplace historical information that was well known when the bible was written. and builded Nineveh. it does. Out of that land went forth Asshur. The LORD bless thee. 1.  Numbers 6:22‐27  . saying. and fixed weights and measures. It was written in the ancient near east where these cities were famous cities of ancient civilizations.

90    Billington says a silver scroll dating to 600 BC quotes this passage. The old scroll shows that the authors of the bible wrote into it a simple. but he was one of the Canaanite pantheon of deities. Aaron and the Children of Israel are all mentioned. not in Moab. known to the locals as a prophet who would receive his prophecies at night. It seems it was part of a standard highway to Jordan. May Yehouah cause his face to shine upon you and grant you peace”. and doubtless well-known blessing. not in any context of exodus. but lived in Mesopotamia. The inscription was found in the Jordanian village of Deir Alla. Yet Charles Krahmalkov notes what are apparently the same names on the walls of Egyptian temples like Karnak. The biblical Balaam was a Moabite. Nevo. If the places are marked on the temple walls in precisely the same order. This is outrageous trickery. the talking mule) or perhaps even a god (“Lord of the People”) and was incorporated into the Hebrew bible because Moabites lived in Abarnahara under the Persians too. Almon-divlatayim. This inscription tells of a Balaam ben Beor. The trickster wants his converts to think that Moses. Divon. Another minor detail is that there is a 700 year difference between the Balaam in Numbers. Most scholars would be troubled by a difference of 700 years but not Christians. which was Moabite territory in the first millennium BC. 3. The scroll does not quote this passage but only: “May Yehouah bless and keep you. Exodus route maps?  Numbers 33  Billington says Egyptian maps found at Karnak confirm the geography of the exodus route taken by the children of Israel as recorded in the bible. 4. showing that this scripture existed before the date admitted by critics. Balaam might have been famous locally as an oracle (his donkey talked like Francis. supposedly about 700 BC. Balaam the son of Beor  Numbers 22‐24  Billington says an inscription found in 1967 and published in 1976 refers to Balaam Son of Beor and records a prophecy similar to that found in scripture. They are not. Maps? Most of the cities along the alleged route that the Israelites traveled immediately before reaching the Jordan River—Iyyim. supposedly about 1400 BC and the Balaam in the Ammon inscription. a god that no one doubts was Canaanite. and are so obviously places on the way from Egypt to . and those that have been found did not exist at the time the bible reports. and Avel Shittim (Num 33:45-50)—have not been located. The scroll has a plain and simple blessing which does not say “the LORD” but Yehouah.

5. and it has nothing to do with the Merneptah Stele which told us that the Pharaoh. Solomon’s temple is more likely to have been a temple to the god. Yehouah was a Canaanite god and will have had more than one “house”. to leave Yehouah as the only “true” god. which is in Gilead. and the gods of the Philistines. and served Baalim. (1 Kg 12:19-20) Billington repeats what has been noted above. David and Solomon. and the gods of  the children of Ammon.91    Canaan. then that could have been the source of them used by the much later author. and into the hands of the children of Ammon. Moreover the children of Ammon  passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah. Here his juxtaposition of the “House of Yehouah” meaning a temple and the “House of David” meaning a dynasty shows perfectly well why some scholars will not jump to the conclusion that “bytdwd” refers to a historic David. in the biblical myths. 7. and against the house of  Ephraim. The Jewish scriptures are full of names of temples to gods and goddesses other than Yehouah. and against Benjamin. and he sold them into the hands of the  Philistines. refers to the “House of David” and thus shows that David is a real historical character. An inscription found at Tel Dan in 1993. could have been popular gods brought down to earth as heroes. and the gods of Syria. And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD. and the gods of Zidon. all the children of Israel that were on the other  side Jordan in the land of the Amorites. An inscription discovered by archaeologists refers to “the House of Yehouah”— Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem (1 Kg 6). the sun). so that Israel was sore distressed. If Merneptah laid Israel waste in the time of the Judges. not the Philistines was doing any “laying waste” to be done. the House (Temple) of El. What dishonesties will these Christians not sink to? The passage in Judges does not say “laid waste” but “sorely distressed”. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. and the gods of Moab. . and forsook the LORD. That would explain the absence of any mention in external annals of any such astonishingly great men in reality.  Judges 10:6‐9  Billington tells us the earliest known reference to Israelites says that they were “laid waste”. the bible does not record it! 6. and  Ashtaroth. It appears on the Merneptah Stele dating to 1209 BC. and served not  him. And that year they vexed and  oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years. Solomon (Shalim. Billington assumes that the House of Yehouah mentioned on the inscription is Solomon’s temple. They are names like Beth-El (Bethel).

Jereboam’s “High Place” was discovered at Dan in 1979. Victory relief of Shishak discovered at Karnak in 1799 shows him with prisoners from Palestine. Christians assume biblical Shishak is Sheshonq I. (2 Kg 10:31-32) This is correct and it is the only picture ever found of a contemporary likeness of a king of Israel. The Assyrian Black Obelisk discovered in 1846 depicts king Jehu. (1 Kg 14:25-26) This has already been discussed above. 14. The Canaanites probably set up their temples in high places.92    8. The black basalt Moabite Stone discovered in 1868 describes the battle between Mesha King of Moab and Ahab son of Omri. most scholars agree. The rubric to the relief describes the king as “Iaua (Yehouah) the son of Khumri (Omri)”. (1 Kg 12:28-31) Billington assumes the “bamah” is Jeroboam’s. known as the “Kurkh Monolith” mentions Ahab the Israelite. (1 Kg 16:23-24) Omri is accepted by biblical critics as the founder of the statelet of Israel. (1 Kg 12:20) There are two Jereboams in the biblical account of Israelite history. 10. 11. among other things. but the main account around the top and base of the . and this one might have been there for centuries. including the savage use of the “ban” (herem) whereby whole populations are murdered as a promise to the god! 13. who. (2 Kg 3:4-5) What is surprising. is Ahab. A seal bearing the inscription “Shema servant of Jereboam” is but one confirmation of this king’s existence in history. Yehouah. The historical setting of the bible approximates more closely to the historic from Omri onwards. 12. (2 Kg 17:3). about the stone is that it does not mention Ahab even though it mentions Omri! The attitude of the king of Moab to his god. The monolith mentions “Akha-Abbu matu Sir-’la-ai”. 9. One is likely to be historic and one is likely to be a myth. is precisely that of the Israelites to their god. perhaps based on the historic one but set 200 years earlier. This seal is obviously of the historic one. The Royal buildings of Omri and Ahab were found by archaeologists in 1933. Chemosh. The details of Israelite kings will have been taken by the Persian authors of the scriptures from Assyrian annals. An inscription of Shalmanezer II.

What is in question is what happened when he was. but since Jerusalem was completely razed in 135 AD and rebuilt as a Roman city by Hadrian. Two separate inscriptions have been found mentioning the name of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. As for the earlier destruction of Jerusalem being a prophecy of Jesus. and it is likely that they will never be because they are Essene code names for other places. (Mt 27:2) What is Billington trying to prove? No one doubts that Pontius Pilate was the Prefect of Judaea. fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus in this chapter. 16. The foundations of Jesus’s synagogue at Capernaum were identified in 1983.93    obilisk makes no mention of him. The Franciscans excavated a site which is most unlikely to be Capernaum. which he rebelled against! 15. The huge platform upon which the temple was built in the time of Herod is there for all to see in Jerusalem today. Only drunkards and dunces ignore these truths. (Lk 21:5) The platform there today might be part of Herod’s. (Mk 1:21) This is quite simply Christian trickery at its most elementary and crudest. to include a prophecy that was already fulfilled. (Mt 26:57) What is Billington trying to prove? No one doubts that Caiaphas was the High Priest at least some time during this period. it was an easy one to write since the gospels were not completed before the temple was destroyed. 18. Scholars believe that the tomb of Caiaphas himself is among them. what we see now is more likely to be the platform of Hadrian’s temple in Aelia Capitolina. full stop. the dynasty founded by Omri. are identified. possibly major cities or possibly simply their own “camps”. the name of the new city. The tomb of the Caiaphas family was discovered in Jerusalem in 1990. The bible says Jehu was “the son of Nimshi” (1 Kg 19:16) or he was “the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi” (1 Kg 9:14). What is in question is what happened when he was. during the Jewish War. and so could easily have been revised in the immediate years after it. They are not earlier. it lay underneath a later construction built by Jews around the third century. 17. The earliest gospel written was Mark. and the foundations are most likely the foundations of the later building. like Capernaum. . and not of the “House of Omri”. and few will deny that it was written at the earliest. Few of the places mentioned in the exploits of Jesus. Archaeologists have also uncovered amazing evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

They demonstrate the accuracy and reliability of the biblical text. (2 Kg 24:10-17) The Yaukin Tablet found at Babylon (1932/3) mentions king Jehoiachin and the rations allowed to him. In 1947 the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves. One of the Qumran versions supports the Greek over the height of Goliath (four cubits and a span) but otherwise seems like the Masoretic. one broadly like the Masoretic and the other broadly in agreement with the Septuagint. While it is true that the Great Isaiah Scroll. (2 Kg 15:29-30. 16:7-9) In 1955 a tablet was deciphered which records the captivity of king Jehoiachin and the appointment of Zedekiah. The usual dissimulation. but none are anything that an educated man writing in the latter half of the first millennium BC would not know. almost the complete text of Isaiah. All are examples of the bible being validated by external sources. which is a fictional.17) A Babylonian tablet describes the capture of Jerusalem by king Nebuchadnezzar.15. The same observations are true for 1 Samuel which also seems to exist in different versions equivalent to the Septuagint (33 verses) and the Masoretic (58 verses). seems almost total fantasy. and little or nothing has so far detracted from that view. is found at Qumran. but were listed separately by Billington. What is in question is the detail. • • • • • • A Hebrew seal found bearing the inscription: “belonging to Jehoahaz son of the king. The Septuagint version is about 12 per cent shorter. is astonishingly similar to the present Masoretic version. though we can praise the abilities of copyists to copy the ancient texts correctly most of the time. The versions of the Psalms also differ considerably at Qumran. The text of Jeremiah from Qumran comes in two versions. other texts are astonishingly different considering these are sacred books that are always assumed to be unalterable. biblical skeptics are not saying that the bible is made up in its entirety. (2 Chr 32:9) . A whole passage missing from all modern recensions but mentioned by Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews. The history before Omri. It is set in a historical sequence of kings and major events. Thus. The clear evidence from Qumran is that originally there were different versions in circulation. no one should imagine that there is some divine perfection in the transmission of these sacred works from a divinely dictated original. To repeat. (2 Kg 24:10.” (2 Kg 10:35) A cunieform text discovered about 1850 is the record of Tiglath-pilesar and mentions kings Pekah and Hosea. (2 Kg 25:27-30) A relief discovered at Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh (about 1850) include the seige of Lachish. however. devotional romance about the intervention of God in human affairs.94    19. (Isa 30:8). Holy Ghost was being slack as it usually is! The following set of examples have been considered already in the discussion.

 think about this…  An atheist whose life had been blameless. begged to be admitted because. (Ezra 1:1-4) A reference to Sanballat. The atheist said he had  always treated his fellow humans as he had wanted to be treated by them. and consulted his Book of Life. “Any reasonable man” would remain skeptical. looking up. and which can be viewed in the British Museum are burnt black by the fires of destruction. S Peter frowned. said “Pass”. arrived at the Pearly Gates just as a famous televangelist did.15) This evidence—which to any reasonable man would be considered overwhelming—still isn’t enough!   Paul Billington  This biblical “evidence” is no more convincing that a man rose from the dead than that Bulwer Lytton was able to write a realistic story about the destruction of Pompeii. he  called. “Fail”. whereupon. “Why did he fail?” he asked. So. S Peter turned to his Book of  Life and. if anyone wanted to persuade people of impossible things then they would try not to get elementary things wrong. Only a gullible fool would believe it. Christ never was!”  .  “He is a Christian. replied S Peter.95    • • • • • The famous Cyrus Cylinder—a clay cylinder of king Cyrus describes the restoration of people after the liberation of Babylon. “Simple”. (Isa 20:1) Evidence of the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah (ie when this king supposedly lived) found at Gezer and other locations. though he knew he was a terrible  sinner. (Neh 4:1-2) In about 1850. the governor of Jerusalem was found. • • Judaism   Pious Liars   Before you go. The televangelist. (Nahum 3:7. and the atheist entered. 1800 years later. Certainly. (Amos 1:1) Reliefs found at Nineveh in the 1850s. the clouds opened beneath him and he fell all the way to hell. the gates opened. he always had been a faithful Christian. it is with the biblical authors.  S Peter asked the atheist what he had done to merit admission to heaven. That they knew some battles and some kings should not easily persuade anyone that the supernatural events in these romances actually happened. the records of Sargon were discovered. asked the  same question. S Peter entered by the  postern gate and found the atheist waiting inside. broke down sobbing.

a decade after the death of Herod. He “was carried up into heaven”. Luke is the only gospel that gives the story.  help yourself!  The Saviour Jesus  Many biblical authorities agree that the gospel story of the birth of Jesus is false. yet Christians. and a cloud received him out of sight”. he was not the mysterious being of the fourth gospel.askwhy. especially to children. according to Matthew.96    Exposing Biblicist Falsehoods Schoolboy sense—Faith is that quality whereby we believe what we should otherwise think is false. that belief in it has become the first test of the Christian.” but the twelve verses in which the account appears are admitted in the revised edition to be spurious. “He was taken up. except in the same way as anyone believes fairy tales—as  entertainment. Without the supposed God‐required necessity of unquestioning faith. Both Luke and Acts were written by the same man.  6. in 40 BC under Antony. who was chosen as Governor of Judaea in the Roman province of Syria. In Luke. wandering stars and virgin births simply do not occur in Nature and the legends can be explained straightforwardly by reference to the times. though a link to www. He was born. Herod died at Jericho in 4 BC after a period of absence on account of illness from Jerusalem. Acts says. Matthew and John do not mention the Ascension. Christianity is based on myths. Copy freely • • • The Saviour Jesus   Myths and Miracles   Jesus in History   Abstract  The New Testament is mystery not history. The New Testament—History? Public domain. That is  why belief is so important to it. A careful examination of the New Testament reveals many disagreements concerning the details of the life of Jesus. . Jesus rises again on the third day and ascends in company with Adam and numerous saints into heaven. with no corroborating evidence. miracles and mystery. to this astonishing spectacle. cannot believe otherwise. during the sovereignty of Herod.co. Yet it is such an attractive story. so we really have the testimony of only one man. The content of this page is in the public domain and can be freely copied and copied  wherever you wish. Anyway. Mark says that “Jesus was received up into heaven. If he was the man of the Synoptics. no  one could possibly believe any of it. and later was king.uk would be appreciated if it is possible. Angels. and sat on the right hand of God. the birth is said to have taken place in 6 AD when Augustus was Emperor. especially unscholarly ones.

“May this tree prove that I am right”. raising the dead to life again. If they could have been present at one of Uri Geller’s shows. One is said to have cried out. If “Chrestus” is Jesus. Such extraordinary events as earthquakes at the death of a god. should ever have referred to them. and it is not the same as Christus which is derived from the Greek “Christos” meaning “anointed one” or “Messiah”. Christians say that Suetonius preserved evidence of Jesus in his book Lives of the CaesarsSuetonius lived from about 75 to 150 AD and his book was published about 120 AD. All accounts of miracles should be banished altogether to their proper region—that of fiction or legend. feeding thousands of people with a few small loaves and fishes. Nothing. “May this stream then witness for me”. arose and came out of their graves and went into the holy city and appeared to many. then what was Jesus doing in Rome in 49 AD when he was supposed have been crucified under the Prefecture of Pontius Pilate between 26 and 36 AD? “Chrestus” is the Greek “Chrestos” meaning “good one”. wouldn’t somebody have obtained from the resurrected saints some account of their experiences in the other world? History records nothing. and at once it flowed the opposite way. Myths and Miracles  Miracles are imaginary deviations from the known laws of Nature—proved by experience to be firm and unalterable—by the power of a god. at the death of Christ. many bodies of the saints. . he mentions that the emperor expelled the Jews from Rome (about 49 AD) because they caused continual disturbances at the instigation of a certain “Chrestus”. The miracles of the primitive church were mere fictions. which slept. In the section on Claudius. Miracles were not uncommon among the Jews before and during the time of Jesus. and miracles were frequently wrought to confirm the sayings of the rabbis. Cures being wrought must have interested the writers on medicine. must have formed topics of general conversation and must have found a place in the literature of the day.97    Matthew recorded that. when his opinions were disputed. But no intelligent person today could accept such miracles as other than tricks. which the pious and zealous Fathers. And when his opponents declared that a tree could prove nothing. these credulous ancients would have certainly wanted to worship him as a god. The primitive Christians were perpetually reproached for their credulity. and Julian says that “the sum of all their wisdom was comprised in the single precept—believe”. who are supposed to have written the gospels. Faith in miracles comes from ignorance or a confusion of belief with knowledge. If such extraordinary events had really happened. Nothing. It is incredible that no one except the four interested partisans. Nature does not allow her laws to be fooled with. were induced to espouse and propagate for the support of a righteous cause. he said. The people who lived contemporary with Jesus tended to believe in anything—it was a credulous age. and the tree was uncannily torn up by the roots and hurled to a distance. Casting out devils was an everyday occurrence. partly from a weak credulity and partly from reasons of policy.

Cardinal Newman. Astonishingly. and others as they now regard Jesus. Lk 3). Tammuz. people started inquiring into the truth and origin of Christianity. since when some have worshipped him as the god. astronomy. in his Grammar of Assent. we should naturally expect to hear something about him in the writings of the period. Adonis. The mendacious writings of anonymous monks have been exposed even by Catholic historians. Large sums of money were offered for the discovery of ancient manuscripts. writers of the Augustan age of letters. has exposed the lies of the Patristic Fathers. The celebration in honour of the resurrection of Adonis came to be known as a Christian festival. unrolled themselves. Examples can be continued from ancient religious myths. Christendom was seriously menaced and it instituted the Inquisition. Christ was modest about his miraculous birth. This god is propitiated as “O Adonai” in one of the Greater Antiphons of the Roman Catholic church. where the followers of Christ were first called Christians. The original evidence for the virgin birth is not in Mark and John. Father Hardouin. fables. after being put to death. The coverings of the body of Buddha. Not one of the classic writers in the first century. not one unequivocally mentions Jesus or his apostles or his miracles. and the Syrians celebrated the festival of the resurrection of Adonis in the early spring. The festival was observed in 363 AD during the reign of the Emperor Julian. in the time of Bishop Cyril. Lao-Chun. history. in Alexandria. rose from the dead. says: Most of our Latin classics are forgeries of the monks of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. while Luke says it was when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. while Cyrenius did not become governor of Syria until 7 AD. at Antioch. and the ceremonies held in Catholic countries on Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the festival of the death and resurrection of Adonis. . There are no tombs or sepulchres of any of the popes prior to this date.   A learned scholar and a writer high in the Jesuit College in Paris. Following the failure of Christ to appear at the millennium as promised in Revelation. That leaves a fraudulent list of some 180 popes who never had an existence other than in the imagination of the compilers. (Mt 1. The lists of popes before 1227 are fictitious. and in 412 AD. The myth of the messiah or saviour demanded that something miraculous should happen at his death. centuries before Jesus. Lao-Tse— the virgin born—ascended bodily into heaven. and the lid of his coffin was opened by superhuman agency. the cradle of Christianity. son of the virgin Maya. It is found in Matthew and Luke and both contradict it when they trace the descent of Jesus from David through Joseph. when he ascended bodily into heaven. and erected splendid temples to his memory. For the church. the ancient capital of the Greek kings of Syria.98    Matthew says that Jesus was born in the days of Herod. Supply meets the demand and monks saw a source of income—they started to manufacture manuscripts. which would bear testimony to the divine authority of the church. The saviour. natural history. people regarded Adonis. miracles. Herod died in 4 BC. as a risen saviour and confidently hoped to rise from the grave as did their god. Krishna rose from the dead. Jesus in History  If all the wonderful things said about Jesus were true. and ascended bodily into heaven and all men saw him. He never mentioned it. medicine. writers in satire.

 the “history”  which Christians have used almost from the start—the Old Testament narrative. being prejudiced and partial. Even if this book is authentic—as it was never mentioned in history until its late discovery. written before Pliny’s death in 114 AD but after he was sent to Bithynia in 111 AD. Before you go. but it simply says that Christians had cursed their “Christ” to avoid being punished. Matthew and Luke which had been written before the Annals. Tacitus was not a great historian in modern terms. The Annals were published after 115 AD and were certainly not written before 110 AD. the claims being made by the Christians themselves and appearing in the gospels Mark. is evidence of an historical Jesus (Letters 10:96). notably the sun gods. as a basic framework for our understanding of Christianity.   Catherine Belsey  It is time to start abandoning. In Annals 15:44. It too has its nonobservable entities. probably in the year 112 AD. Jesus has been overlaid with mythology taken from contemporary religious belief. That is so because it is now possible to see that this  is an ideology. But many religious people despise science. Why do religious people find imaginary conscious agencies so attractive?  Investigating Biblical History High Society is for those who have stopped working and no longer have anything important to do. Any historical evidence of the original Jesus that existed anywhere was destroyed by Christians to hide the truth when they were able. Tacitus says that the name “Christians” originated from “one Christus” who was “put to death under Pontius Pilate. it has been suspected of being a papal forgery—it tells us nothing except that some people believed in the death of a man they revered called Christ.  Acts and the Church History of Eusebius of Caesarea.   Woodrow Wilson  7. party history which does not fall within the canons of what is acceptable history for us. and had left behind him a sect called after him”. Revising the Jesus of History for the Future of Faith Ideology… is… a way of thinking. speaking. Tacitus merely asserts what he knew from the members of the Christian sect. but it does not show this Christ ever existed. the Gospel narrative. What they  really like about the nonobservable entities of religion is that they think like us.   . Any historical Jesus has been deliberately disguised to hide him from the historians. experiencing. Then it ought to like  science. think about this…  Some say that religion is about the existence and power of nonobservable agencies. He accused Christians of abominations. The scientific ones do  not.99    Christians claim that one of the younger Pliny’s letters to the emperor Trajan. Tacitus describes how Nero blamed the Christians for the fire of Rome in 64 AD.

   A Crisis of Faith    Historians have become increasingly important in many fields but notably religion. keep disputing these facts of history. It is not new. Unfortunately. but in the latter half of the twentieth century. people. died and was resurrected. Attempts to separate the two were abandoned when Albert Schweitzer declared the effort hopeless. The plan of some Christian  revisionists is to discard the Jesus of History.100    John Bowden  © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Wednesday. the German scholar over two hundred years ago first tried to separate the “Jesus of History” (the Jesus revealed by sound historical scholarship) from the “Christ of Faith” (the mythical saviour of Christian belief). Unfortunately. some of them Christians. people. and these are indisputable historical  facts. some of them Christians. history is more central than in any religion because Christians claim Jesus of Nazareth appeared on earth as God incarnate. Reimarus. . the Christian world experiences a crisis of faith. keep disputing these “facts” of history. and these are indisputable historical facts. the Christian world experiences a crisis of faith. September 08. For Christianity. history is more central than in any religion because Christians claim Jesus of Nazareth  appeared on earth as God incarnate. died and was resurrected. and as more  people note the alternatives. and as more people note the alternatives. 1999 • • • • A Crisis of Faith   Stages of Tradition   Faith and Belief   Christians should Applaud   Abstract  For Christianity. biblical scholarship has revived the “quest for the Historical Jesus” in a rebirth of interest in the truth behind the short life that has dominated the ideas of the West in the past two-thousand years.

seek to to reconstruct the historical Jesus by separating the words and deeds of the Nazarene from myths. after all. and beliefs added subsequently. Schweitzer concluded that the one historical fact that was certain about Jesus was that he was an eschatological prophet who saw an imminent end of the world. As long as punters believe something and think that the professionals have some special power to help them benefit from it. “Historicists”.101    There are two opposing views. even if Jesus’s apocalypticism were to be discarded. if that is how the decision was made. but also like Paul. resurrected. And. like the “Jesus Seminar”. however. Since Jesus was manifestly wrong about this. the problem remains of which parts of Jesus’s gospel messages are historically true. then let the suckers believe anything! What has such a Christian to gain from more detail about Jesus’s life? The answer is only embarassment. More orthodox ones follow Paul and still see the death on the cross and the resurrection as the core of Christian belief. The idea that these accounts should be scrutinized according to the rules of historical-critical scholarship. legends. . The “Jesus Seminar” says this mistaken apocalypticism was the product not of Jesus but of his followers. take the gospel accounts as divinely inspired and therefore true. like any ancient writings. a totally absurd idea that can only discredit democracy. Christians are therefore not subject to reason about these things. challenges their faith. Eschatology is thoroughly mingled with the whole concept of the kingdom of God that every Christian assigns to Jesus as his most important message. For them just to consider the historical Jesus is to fail to take faith in the resurrection seriously. Ministers and preachers defend their dishonest living while the punters accept any lie they are offered rather than forego the falsehoods they have been taught and accepted for a lifetime and instead recognise Jesus as a historical figure typical of others in his time. Most Christians. how could he be correct about anything else? The immoveable Christians. William R G Loader says the gospels: are their own reality and in themselves contain a world where we meet our Jesus. as they have done for so many other objections to Christian belief. need no details or proof.   It is hard to know what clearer confession could be given that professional Christians promote a mental fantasy or figment. find excuses. Some Christians like to argue that they are not concerned with an historical Jesus because “Jesus Lives”—he was. No pair of socks or trousers has ever been as patched as Christianity.

like the “Jesus Seminar” should find it so easy to discard most of their historical god as unhistorical.102      Stages of Tradition  The Vatican distinguished three stages of tradition in the gospels. The quacks and mountebanks want to discard the life of Jesus and base Christianity on his faith instead—his unconditional trust or “faith” in God. They want to replace . Is there any criterion by which we might decide to what stage some part of a gospel belongs? If there is none then the same dilemma pertains: what is historically true? Traditionalists and fundamentalists use the unproveable artefact—in short. The second is an assent to prescribed doctrines or “beliefs”. It is the prime Christian justification for their age old habit of pious lying—and everybody today accepts it without a flinch! Now it seems strange that a curia of different varieties of professional Christians. The second stage was the proclamation of the the “kerygma” or original central message that is the essence of Christian belief—primarily the resurrection and its significance. Note that “faith” is unconditional but “belief” can properly demand confirmation in the form of signs. Faith is entirely personal and needs no mediators in the form of priests or ministers. Rudolph Bultmann. a leading light of the “Jesus Seminar” readily discards 75 per cent of the words of the gospel Jesus. The first stage was the recollection of the words and deeds of Jesus. in a circular argument sanctifying all scripture. Lastly. including those parts that promise the Holy Spirit itself! This Holy Spirit enables any Christian to say anything that comes into their head and maintain it is true because inspired. the quacks who sell “belief” as faith to secure themselves a lifetime of idle sponsorship. in an earlier time foremost among those who turned aside from the “quest for the historical Jesus” after Schweitzer recommended giving up the task as hopeless. The two are quite different though confused by most Christians and Christian critics. Faith and Belief  Wilfred C Smith made a distinction between “faith” and “belief”. the third stage was the elaboration of the kerygma by the different authors and editors. The first is an unconditional sense of trust in God. shown in his certainty of the resurrection of the dead—the basis of the Christian belief that death is not the end. Robert Funk. miracles or persuasion by convincing argument. was also trying to “demythologize” the scriptures in favour of a return to faith in Christ. fiction—of the Holy Spirit.

. prince of Israel. So it can be believed by committed Christians even if the historical facts of the life of Jesus turn out to be quite different from former conceptions. All of humanity are children of God.103    Christian faith as a belief in the historical accuracy of the stories relating Christ’s postresurrection appearances with a faith in God’s promise to Jesus—the promise that Jesus unconditionally accepted. Jesus was also “raised” even before he died and was resurrected. It boils down to a sort of extrapolation backwards in time. If that is the case. it was an honorific title applied to Jesus because he was a priest and a “prince”. Only later did these statements become metaphysical statements about a god who “rises” from the dead by his own divine power. Separation of Jesus of Nazareth. If the empty tomb stories are true. so “Son of God” is a banal title at root. The spring of “metahistorical” reality is all that faith requires. And Schweitzer was correct in stating that the circumstances were that the world was expected to end and righteous people were to be resurrected into the kingdom of God! What of the third stage. but there is no denying the huge and lasting phenomena it gave rise to. this is still not historical “proof” that it did. a prince or a leader being “one who is raised up!”). if Schweitzer is to be believed. to describe the resurrection. Whatever it was that gave rise to Christianity cannot. they can have it how they like without any regard to the facts of history. Of course. “Christ” is the Greek word used to translate the Jewish word “Messiah” and would have been used of Jesus in his life or immediately on his supposed resurrection. be known. proclamations of the status of a Jesus who is “raised”. both of which were designated as “Sons of God”. Men do not rise from death in nature. is the resurrection of Jesus itself the product of faith? Indeed it is. It is proof though that the disciples believed it was possible under the circumstances. By regarding Jesus as “metahistorical” in the sense that Berdayev used. because it is the root meaning of the word “prince” that was used of him (“nasi”. The trouble is that believers always like to think that the object of their adoration has walked among them. Christians like these are trying to demolish the historical Jesus and change the foundation of Christianity from its hitherto historical basis to a purely metaphysical one. But that is not to say that Jesus did not have these terms applied to him earlier in his lifetime with non-metaphysical meanings. from the dying and resurrected saviour god known as Christ would allow believers to indulge purely in a mystery religion with no embarrassing pretensions to historicity. and the subsequent behaviour of the disciples is unexplainable except by their belief that a resurrection has occurred. they can easily come to believe that the circumstances have given rise to what is in fact impossible. that of theological expression or beliefs? Were “technical terms” like “Christ” and the “Son of God”. and if they come to believe that the circumstances have been realised. Their argument is that at some point in the past a spring of truth spilled into the world and gave rise to the Christian faith. but if some people have an expectation that resurrection is possible and even probable under some special circumstances.

to Christians. Christians dehumanized him from the beginning. Christians should Applaud  Christians should be applauding the work of the “Jesus Seminar” and others who are demolishing the historical Jesus and seeking to return to the divine monophysite Christ of Augustine. The whole plan is a brilliant attempt to discard the aspects of Christianity that are getting more and more embarassing—the very parts that formerly had been the basis of the religion. The real conservatives of Christianity can even continue to believe everything they presently believe. Christianity effectively denied the humanity of Jesus and became “monophysite”—certain he existed as a god. The closest they want to come to a human Christ is a Jesus whose unconditional faith committed him unreservedly to carrying out God’s will as he understood it. immortal life. happy that the veil of history might be drawn but can reveal nothing to the believer in “metahistory” that could dent their faith. For those who accept this. priests. Far better for these Christians to lop off the limb that is damaged and attacked by termites and dry rot—even if it was previously the main . The “Jesus of History” is he whose life was lived in the loving trust in God throughout doubt and despair. His unconditional faith or trust in God revealed him. to be the Son who brings a share in the divine. he knew all the answers and he could do anything. The human Jesus was all but completely swallowed up by the divine Christ. The race is on between those who would drop the historical Jesus before proof positive is found that he was a bandit or a homosexual. for he had to assume human form to redeem humanity. or some other unacceptable reality. through the power of God’s Spirit. he could not have been tempted. Nor does it matter that little of his teaching was original. in the early fifth century. and Christianity is thrown into chaos because this Jesus is its core. the Council of Chalcedon defined Jesus as both completely human and fully divine—a fatuous contradiction for how can a fully human entity walk on water? So. Augustine’s divine Christ prevailed. We can never be sure about history but “metahistory” stands before us everywhere in the form of churches. The trouble for these Christian revisionists is that they have been so successful in the past in getting Christians to believe that black is white and lies are truth that they are finding it no easy task to make their fellow Christians realise that unsafe branches are best pruned. that in God all shall live. Despite the insistence of the early theologians that Jesus possessed a complete human nature. What matters to the believers in the “metahistorical” Christ is his call to universal love and service to God and other human beings confident in the face of suffering. They hope what will characterize the follower of Jesus most of all is this trusting faith in God— like that of Jesus himself—not a set of beliefs about who he really was. it will not matter that the historical Jesus in fact got some things wrong. preachers and believers. whence the miracles. Augustine reprimanded a colleague who suggested Jesus might have been tempted in his faith. and whose missionary call was that others should follow the path of total trust in God. Since Jesus was a god.104    In its hurry to deify Jesus. In 451 AD.

 often contradictory and sometimes demonstrably wrong. self‐effacingly  cleansing the earth of the parasite that we have become?   Who Lies Sleeping?  Examining the Bible Objectively If you are against abortion. The Quest for the Historical Jesus 1 © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Sunday. the rebel was acclaimed as God. the events Jesus  prophesied in them did not come to pass.  A survey of the quests for the historical Jesus. 1999 • • • • • • • • The Slippery Christ   Three Quests   Historical Evidence   First Quest   Albert Schweitzer   Rudolf Bultmann   Ernst Troeltsch   A New Quest   Abstract  The four gospels are our chief source of direct information about Jesus. however. Moreover. Instead.   . June 5. but Christians do not mind.105    support—and replace it with an unnassailable metahistorical limb that non-Christian insects can gnaw and nibble but never damage. These. In the quest for the historical Jesus there  are more bad odours generated by Christian scholars than feasible pictures. a process or metamorphosis took place by which  the proclaimer became the proclaimed. November 14. he endured the ignominy of a Roman crucifixion. from the corpse of the Jesus of history. and Theology. • Based on an article by R W Kropf in issue #6 of Dialogos: An Interactive Journal of the Sciences.  Within the movement which sprang up after his death. nobody is making you have one!  8.  Philosophy. and the Christs of faith began  to rise.  as long as the exasperated doubter gives up the quest and remains within the fold of the believing flock. 1997. are we preparing to sacrifice our lives and  maintain in death the humanity which we can see we are losing? Do we justify our drive for this  luxurious existence by subliminally accepting that we are committing gigasuicide.   Before you go. are always  tendentious. like bad odours. think about this…  In subconscious atonement for the guilt of our selfishness.

Jaroslav Pelikan (Jesus through the Ages. People have offered a bewildering variety of pictures of Jesus. often contradictory and sometimes demonstrably wrong. Christ as the prototype of the Renaissance “universal man” or the Enlightenment’s “teachet of reason” and the modern resurgence of Christ the liberator. Jesus was an Essene who expected . over the last 20 centuries men and women have seen Jesus. in the gospels. not because he was an awful tyrant who murdered his wife and was so hated by the population of Rome he had to move his capital to a different city. He pointed out that. Jesus is credited with few sayings about love for one’s fellow men. and worshipped him as “the Christ”. These. C H Dodd. Since people see in them what they want. the Christ crucified of the medieval world. Even so. western European Christian of today is likely to be chary of the Emperor Constantine. Believers always convince themselves that they—and usually they alone—have come face to face with the “true” Jesus. The urgency of his message was elsewhere. including the cosmic Christ. the Romans. the mystic “bridegroom of the soul”. but because he obtained the throne with God’s supposed help in sending the miracle of a cross in the heavens saying “Conquer by this”. The Jesus that emerged from the historical work was a Jew of his time—a time when the Jews were in rebellion against the foreign oppressors. creator of the universe. are always tendentious. According to medieval scholar and Christian. 1985). not least for the resilience of the faith despite vast historical changes. the “infinite variety” of the forms it can take and the changing ways in which. The roots for this saga are the four gospels. our chief source of direct information about Jesus. a mirror might be a more accurate analogy. the Jesus they yield “resembles a set of paintings more closely than a photograph”. his story becomes rather thin in the modern era when the Jesus of history began to dethrone the Christs of faith. was less sure.106    The Slippery Christ    The history of Christianity is remarkable for many things. who made Christianity the official religion of the Empire. and what he does say would have been commonplace among first century Pharisaic Jews. Today’s Christian is certain that the essential message of Jesus was not to go around conquering in his name but that we should love one another. however. A liberal. Yale University Press. The biblical scholar.

 but not historically. theological. on the basis of religious experience and conviction. ignorance is bliss. it should not refer to a historically reconstructed Jesus. Three Quests  It is fashionable these days to speak of three “quests” for the historical Jesus. and the Christs of faith began to rise. But usually Christians say they are concerned with a living Jesus not a historical one. there has only ever been one quest. If he did his part and the Jews repented. Interest in the historical Jesus signifies a failure of faith. Within the movement which sprang up after this death a process or metamorphosis took place by which the proclaimer became the proclaimed. consider research on the historical Jesus as demanded by historical inquiry and the need to reach an adequate theology. Instead. like bad odours. then God would respond by sending the angel Michael and his heavenly armies to defeat the Satanic Romans and join heaven and earth together as a home for the righteous. as long as the exasperated doubter gives up the quest and remains within the fold of the believing flock. Such  a Jesus is not “real” in any sense. can be  challenged on a number of fronts (religious. some of them Christians. But the events he prophesied did not come to pass.   The quest for the historical Jesus is therefore valueless to evangelical Christians whose beliefs do not depend on historical facts. and to make ready for this divine intervention in which. and it will continue while the supernatural Jesus is claimed by Christians to be historical. from the corpse of the Jesus of history. . The Christian’s claim to  experience the “real Jesus” in the present. as the signs multiplied. except as a product of scholarly imagination. of course. In the quest for the historical Jesus there are more bad odours generated by Christian scholars than feasible pictures. One apologist argues: If the expression the real Jesus is used at all. he endured the ignominy of the Roman crucifixion.107    from the signs of the times the literal coming of the Kingdom of God in the lifetime of those whom he addressed. the rebel was acclaimed as God. For them. He called upon Jews to repent. though. but Christians do not mind. he saw himself as playing the role of liberator or the earthly saviour of the Jews. Honest people. moral).

but this is true of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Historical Evidence  Little external evidence supports the biblical evidence of the historicity of Jesus. none for the flight from Egypt by the Israelites. This is not much of a base for a history of Jesus. The hypothesis that makes best sense of the relations among the gospels is that Matthew and Luke independently used Mark and another source Q. The biblical quest for the historical Jesus is confined to the three synoptic gospels. Belief in him is a form of MPD. the second having been launched by Bultmann and those of his era. add up to only thirtyone days of Jesus’s life. and his ministry lasted about a year and a half. and heavily dependent on the hypothetical pre-Christian document called “Q”. of little historical worth and that overlaid with mythology. The gospel of John is not narrative. for rational historically minded people. The narratives. in the three synoptic gospels. and should be treated in the same way—by psychiatry. John is seen as essentially independent of the others. It will be impossible ever to get a consensus on what the life of the historical Jesus was. and broadly it was the very first Jesus offered by Reimarus. the quests have led to a good idea of who the historic Jesus was. and the third or modern quest having been founded in the seventies with Jewish scholars and some skeptical Christians prominent. none for a battle of Jericho where the walls could .108      It always has been for most Christians because no priest or preacher wants to spill the gravy boat and no punter wants to lose the fantasy of their imaginary friend. The primary sources are still the four gospels. who is considered to have initiated the “first” quest. The reason is that the Christian Jesus is obviously not historical. it is only Christology. No gospel writers witnessed the events they describe. Nevertheless. No archeological evidence has been unearthed for the Mount Sinai where Moses was said to have received the Ten Commandments. because no Christian will accept history. Jesus. so the quest will be an eternal merry-go-round.

   the Romans walked under the river. however.   they did it by mirrors. and so on. they are on the other bank.000 page manuscript titled The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples. and so on. They have also stimulated new attention to the works of Josephus and Philo. Since the middle of the twentieth century. we would say they were insane.   aliens took them over.   they were not Romans but were Vikings.109    not have come tumbling down because the town had no walls at that time. we still have lacunae to fill.   Plenty of Jesuses can be imagined but few of them meet the criteria of feasible history and most can be discounted. none for the military conquest of Canaan. the Dead Sea Scrolls have revealed to anyone not besotted by the lies of Christian “revelation” the true source of the beliefs of Jesus. the theologians come up with a mass of unfeasible answers just to leave the faithful saying: “I might as well believe what I’ve always believed. but also they alerted us to diversities in understanding Torah. and have to make judgements where there are gaps. Reimarus like Copernicus being worried by the consequences. So we get Christian scholars coming up with theories: • • • • • • • • • the Germans pretended to be Romans. Gotthold Lessing published it posthumously in 1774. The scrolls not only revealed a diverse Judaism which freely employed dualism more familiar to us from the language of earlier Mazdaism and later gnosticism.   they went via the Behring strait. An analogy is this. The first to undertake a scientific investigation was the German orientalist Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) who wrote a 4. we cannot say for sure how they got over the river. The Christian scriptures are equally unreliable history.   they flew over. Solomon. and this is where the Christians are able to obfuscate.   they stood on the backs of whales. that the waters parted”. How did they get there? The true answer is. Nevertheless. The historian would boringly say that the Romans built a bridge. both feasible answers. The Romans are on one bank of the Rhine. but it received little attention until Strauss published his own famous work fifty years later. . Yet that would be the Christian answer. if that is all we know. It aimed to use the Jesus of history as an ally in the struggle against the tyranny of church dogma and power in setting belief and practice. In the quest for the historical Jesus. That a miracle happened is not.   they tunnelled under. none for David. if someone said the river parted and they were able to cross dryshod. or used boats. First Quest  The first historical quest of a Jesus unadulterated by theological mud came out of the eighteenth century Enlightenment. Nevertheless. A little later.

and in later life became a senior brother of the Essenes.   All the writings of Paul are fictitious.   Karl Friedrich Bahrdt (1741-1792) wrote a fictitious life of Jesus but one with clever insights. Jesus retired to the Essene community where he died in old age.   None of the miracles happened. It emerged new from these failed expectations.   The gospel of John contains no historical material at all. mentioned in scripture. His Life of Jesus emphasised the unhistorical gospel of John which prompted Albert Schweitzer to comment: . In 1835.   His notion of the Kingdom of God was the messianic expectation of Jews at the time. but no more. and again in 1864. They rescued Jesus from the tomb and Luke’s medicine brought Jesus to health. He concluded that: • • • • • None of the gospel writers was a witness of the events they discussed. David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874) published a two volume life of Jesus. Strauss argued that one needed to unravel the historical Jesus from the overlaid myths and miracle stories of the evangelists. like Socrates. revised in 1839. Jesus was reared by the Essenes and studied Plato and Aristotle under Greek teachers. Jesus’s life rests on  one person who was not a witness.   The birth stories are literary inventions.110    Reimarus saw in Jesus of Nazareth a Jewish messianic revolutionary whose failure led his followers to steal his body and create a new story of Jesus based on aspects of Jewish messianism. His major points were: • • • • • We should draw an absolute distinction between the writings of the later church and what Jesus  might have said.   Jesus performed no miracles. He learned that he must die.   Every story prior to Jesus’s baptism is a fabrication.   The Frenchman.   Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) wrote a life of Jesus in which he concluded: • • • • • Matthew and Luke copied from Mark and added nothing new to the story. After a few physical appearances. The Christian religion did not grow out of the teaching of Jesus.   The gospel of John is a complete fabrication.   The Jews did not expect a Messiah and Jesus did not claim to be one. Their accounts were  second hand.   Jesus spoke as a Jew—Christian readings cannot be attributed to him.   The story of Jesus calling twelve disciples is not historical.   He was a man not a god. followed with his Vie de Jésus in 1860 in which he romanticised Jesus as a great moral teacher. Joseph Ernest Renan (1823-1892). and Luke and Nicodemus plotted how to bring this about. He performed no miracles.

The result of the latter was a Jesus whose message of a “spiritual kingdom” was that of nineteenth century German Protestantism. and:   “In the last resort this book can only express the misgivings about the historical Jesus as  depicted by modern theology.111    There is scarcely any other work on the subject which so abounds in lapses of bad taste… It is Christian  art in the worst sense of the term… There is insincerity in the book from beginning to end. It seems that any Christian version is not a product of prejudice and must be accepted. Counter quests were Christian theologians hoping to to fend off the criticism by building from theological bricks a “real Jesus”. He firmly denied that it was: …possible to describe the historical figure of the one from whom Christianity derives its very name and  existence in such a way as to satisfy all just claims of scrupulous historical critical investigation. concluded that a biography of Jesus was impossible. This was a hugely important discovery for Christians who ever since have been able to say that any historical Jesus is merely a reflexion of its author’s prejudices and can be discounted. convinced the world was in the End Time. who tried  and failed in a mistaken mission to bring in the kingdom of God. The initial questors were rationalists trying to discredit traditional Christian teaching.  Albert Schweitzer  Albert Schweitzer published his The Quest of the Historical Jesus in 1906. 1896. The teachings and activity of Jesus could not be honestly examined without reference to Jewish . He concluded: I regard the entire Life of Jesus movement as a blind alley. had revealed new insights into Palestinian Judaism—a prominent trend had been apocalyptic. Schweitzer concluded: • • • Jesus was an eschatological Jewish leader. in The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ.  Nineteenth century research into the so-called “Pseudepigrapha” of the Hebrew Bible. scholars should only be interested in the Christ of faith. He reviewed and exposed the fallibility of the previous lives of Jesus and the problem of whether anything could be safely known about him. He argued that as the Jesus of history was inseparable from the Christ of faith and yet since the New Testament mainly concerns itself with the latter as does the church—and it is this Christ that has influenced history. He found previous questors had fashioned Jesus according to their own worldview. No one had properly recognised  this.   Martin Kähler.   There is no history of Jesus that can be discovered.  At the turn of the 20th century Heinrich Julius Holtzman developed the theory of Mark’s priority as the first gospel of the synoptics and argued that we can know the historical Jesus by unravelling the connexions and borrowings between the gospels.   The quests had been fruitless. There is nothing more negative than the results of the critical  study of the life of Jesus”.

whether reconstructed from the gospels or Paul.   The historical quest is impossible. and supernatural deliverance of the elect from temporal earthly existence. No modern Christian commentator likes to think about it. the concept was one of a cosmic battle.   Since the message is in the myth. irrelevant. are moreover fragmentary and often legendary.  What can be known by examining Jewish tradition of the time is Jesus’s message. the gospel of John is the preferred one. unlike modern Christian “scholars” he did not try to escape from his honest conclusions. and pretend to perform miracles. Rudolf Bultmann  In his treatment of the historical Jesus. and his words must only have been an interim ethic which had nothing to offer us. involving ideas of the last judgment. that Jesus taught pure eschatology. The recognition of Jesus’s “thoroughgoing eschatology” is Schweitzer’s unassailable contribution to scholarship. he would be institutionalized. He upheld Johannes Weiss who had convincingly shown. Jesus and the Word. and illegitimate. he abandoned devotional for practical Christianity. resurrection. Schweitzer himself hated the idea but. since the early Christian  sources show no interest in either. Many features of the early church. The earliest community beliefs also could not be honestly disconnected entirely from the beliefs of Jesus and his disciples before Easter. Bultmann concluded: • • • The Christian proclamation (kerygma) will never be confirmed by historical investigation. Eschatology. the gift of the Spirit (meals. wholly determines the present… because it now compels man to decision”. the coming of the Kingdom of God. was psychologically sick. claim to be the only begotten Son. In the first century Jewish milieu. as Schweitzer knew: The historical Jesus will be to our time a stranger and an enigma. Nineteenth century scholars concluded that a Jesus who would curse fig trees. but one that has to be interpreted existentially: “the Kingdom of God is a power which. in The Preaching of Jesus concerning the Kingdom of God.112    eschatology.  Since Schweitzer recognised that Jesus was an eschatologist. only make sense against the background of eschatological expectation: resurrection. in 1920. his “word”. Rudolf Bultmann thought it a happy conclusion that: We can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus. and the continuing anticipation of God’s imminent intervention. This Jesus is foreign to Christians. Albert Schweitzer wrote The Psychiatric Study of Jesus to refute these claims that Jesus was mentally unbalanced and that if he were alive today. though nominally Christian.   . because it answers too much. Jesus was a first century Jewish leader intent on seeing in the cosmic victory of God over evil. although it is entirely future. baptism). as a medical doctor in Africa. a “miraculous eschatological event”. has been lost in fairy tale ideas like that of “the Rapture” based upon Thessalonians.

Ernst Troeltsch  Ernst Troeltsch saw the historical method of analysis as having three essential features: probability. They discover events with a degree of probability attached to their likelihood.  Is it surprising the world is a mess when it is run by people of this teeth grittingly irresponsible philosophy? Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book. Correlation is the principle that events influence each other. From the rule of correlation it is idle for Christian or Jewish theologians to claim that Jews invented the concept independently. Historians cannot deal in certainties. not the ultimate accolade that Christians suppose it to be. Nothing occurs in isolation and the likelihood of an event occurring has to be judged in the knowledge that it can be influenced by other events. Rudolf Bultmann and others accepted Kähler’s conclusion that faith could not depend on the historical Christ. Its pronouncements are absolute. The natural world was irrelevant to him because only Christ was important and Christianity was the “end of all religion”. in the improvement of  society. In The New Testament and Mythology he concludes: The Christian life does not consist in developing the individual personality. Karl Barth preferred not to participate in the quest for the historical Jesus. such analysis might tell us what others thought Jesus was like. The simple fact of the Christ event— that God acted—sufficed. The dogmatic viewpoint of traditional Christianity violates all this. in times we know. a scholarly “quest of the historical Jesus” is impossible and theologically illegitimate because it substitutes worldly proof for faith. analogy and correlation. Christ the Center. The world thereby might be saved. it only is because it will be the end of humanity. (1960) concluded that. He agreed with Bonhoeffer that nothing in historical investigation could add anything to faith. it looks impossible that anything like 600. it would show that Christian faith had been an illusion. The inhabitants of the hill country of Palestine had no knowledge of an Evil Spirit until after they had been colonised by the Persians who already had an Evil Spirit in their cosmogony. or in making the world a better place. If that is so. being the Word of God and so they too are utterly divorced from any historical situation.000 able-bodied men left Egypt in the Exodus. The Christian life means turning away from the world.113    For Bultmann. if we did find an historical Jesus. The probability of an event has to be judged by analogy with such a similar event occurring today. are familiar with and have some estimatable degree of attestation. about whom nothing could be known. At most. By analogy. Christianity cannot be judged only on its own claims about itself but in the wider context of human history. Barth with Paul Tillich. Christian authority stems from its very falseness in historical terms—it is separated from history in practice despite the claimed historical setting of the mythical stories. We should take this as the severest warning to us. Troeltsch says it is invalid to place all emphasis on one event to the exclusion of others because all relevant events have to be judged equally by the same set of rules. because it divorces a fixed set of events entirely from their realistic setting. But Barth was an alien as far as the natural world was concerned. .

114    Its appeal is to the supernatural. in a famous address to the annual gathering of the “old Marburgers” (the Bultmann school). It is its impossibility that makes it a miracle. Only by eliminating the likely possibilities can the miracle be given credence. Salvation history is supernatural history. and he set in motion the “New Quest of the . Ernst Käsemann. The only justification for the doctrinal basis of Christian tradition would seem to be miracle… for only  such a belief can save it from being a contingent part of the ongoing fabric of history.   John Bowden   Critics of Troeltsch accuse him of not knowing what to do with a miracle if one happened because his method rules them out. A virgin birth would admittedly be pretty miraculous. mistaken or crooks than that the event happened. such as someone surviving a severe fire or fall are not miracles although they are called miracles in popular usage. If it is. as Christians are expected to. after all. it is so miraculous that few scholars and many ordinary Christian believers do not think there ever was a virgin birth. the sphere of the human imagination. Nevertheless. why did he not ensure that it was miraculously distributed without errors? Christians believe the New Testament because they are Christians. Troeltsch’s ideas help us to distinguish the two. if God produced a miraculous book. The latter can be made to look wonderful but will not feed anyone. In brief. The point about a miracle is not that it is unique—all events are unique. As it stands. not the other way around. Even Rudolf Bultmann said that it was impossible to believe in demons and spirits. but it is such a poorly attested miracle that it is much more likely that the witnesses are deluded. though scientists might be able to think of a peculiar set of natural circumstances that could lead to one. It has zero probability of occurring. should we have trouble. and Troeltsch shows that it is therefore not history at all but romance based upon loyalty to a church or purely subjective inner experiences. even the most trivial—but that it cannot happen in Nature without God’s intervention. None of the “miracles” in the bible are well attested unless the miracle of the bible being the very word of God is true. Spectacular single events. A miracle simply cannot happen. A New Quest  In 1953. it has none to anyone except those who will believe despite the evidence. declared the Lord of the Church could not have had no historical existence or he would have been completely mythological! Interest in the historical Jesus was theologically valid. A genuinely dead and already decaying man being resurrected would certainly be a miracle by any standards. one of Bultmann’s students. while using electrical appliances and modern medicines. and it therefore forms the basis of Christian faith. then believers have to explain why everything that can be learnt by scholarship about the bible shows it to be the manufacture and composition of human beings. and is full of just the errors and contradictions that a human work copied by hand for many generations would contain. History is like the fruit of a real tree but salvation history is like the fruit of a tree drawn on a piece of paper. not history.

it will be found in the things wherein he differs from Judaism. leaving just 10 percent for the real Jesus.   Donald A Wells explains that the following assumptions were made by the Jesus Seminar to begin its analysis.   In fact. 10:30 the  story of the Good Samaritan 11:2 only the word “Father” in the Lord’s prayer. The premise that the authentic Jesus was to be found not in his Jewish context but in whatever was different from it. Nothing in the gospel of John was accepted. hungry. and recognising that the kerygma of the church emerged from an eschatological message. the scholars accepted: 2:20 “Blessed are the poor. Robert W Funk. “go the second mile” and “give your shirt”. Not much survives and even the Lord’s Prayer goes. Bultmann had already formulated one such criterion.  Omitted were the references to the meek. merciful. But the scholars gave credence to the Gospel of  Thomas and used it to confirm or deny Jesus’s words. poor and sad.   3.   2. An assessment is appended to each: . and sad” 6:27 “love your  enemies” 6:29 “turn the other cheek”. About 90 percent of Jesus’s sayings are found in contemporary Jewish teaching. “the criterion of dissimilarity”: The earliest form of a saying we can reach may be regarded as authentic if it can be shown to be  dissimilar to characteristic emphases both of ancient Judaism and of the early Church. but criteria were needed to settle the authenticity of Jesus’s sayings.   4. dubbed by Norman Perrin. 22:21 “render unto  Caesar… “ None of the Sermon on the Mount was accepted. based on scholarly investigation. 20:1‐15 The parable of the workers in the vineyard. The only words in Matthew were: 5:38‐39 “Turn the other cheek”. In Luke. Around 200 people have participated to discuss. the only part of the Lord’s Prayer  were the words “Our Father”. became a typical Christian confusion of true inquiry.  Or. the scholars of the Jesus seminar concluded that 82 percent of the words ascribed to Jesus were not actually spoken by him: 1. such things as would be “new and startling to Jewish ears”. The only words in the gospel of Mark were 12:17. Critical analysis such as form criticism would allow information about the historial Jesus to be found in the gospels. because its underlying assumption—that Jesus was deliberately being different from contemporary Jews—is what Christians want to hear.115    Historical Jesus”. 13:20 the parable  of the leaven 16:1 the parable of the shrewd manager. then vote with beads on historicity. The Jesus Seminar agrees that: …way less than 25 percent of the words attributed to Jesus were his. “Render unto Caesar the things that are  Caesar’s”. pure in heart and peacemakers. founded the Jesus Seminar in 1985. “if we are to seek that which is most characteristic of Jesus”. calling scholars together to offer an alternative to the fundamentalist pictures of Jesus in American society. Plainly this criterion begs the question. 13:33 The parable of the  leaven in the flour. and only three of the beatitudes: the hungry.

Since the oldest gospel manuscripts in our possession were written 175 years after the death of  Jesus. Nonsense.  so long as they treated her with respect. It was assumed that Jesus was not an eschatologist (he did not believe in the imminent end of  the world). The gospel of Mark is the oldest and Matthew and Luke copied from it. Meaningless.  . This system gave people. The Synoptic Gospels: Matthew. He means “fiction” which is too sweeping. All the gospels were widely circulated for many years anonymously and were later given  authorship names by persons unknown to make them more acceptable. Paul never read the  gospels.   9.  All writing is literary.   5. Matthew.   4. we ought not put much too emphasis on the  particular words.   3. and Luke are assumed to be literary narratives and not history. Agreed. Paul’s writings were in circulation long before the first gospel appeared. that the natural state of human beings is to enjoy a feeling  of oneness with Nature.  They might as well say the Jewish tradition is no help because it was founded before the birth  of Jesus. waterlogged or  frozen. Jesus plainly was an Essene and the Jesus Seminar wants to count the truth out at  the start. though. Nature. The Church Father. There was no alienation between the individual and the  community they lived in. Agreed. hunter‐gatherer existence is  indeed secure so long as the people were not forced to live in marginal land. to us their lives seemed precarious. The most likely passages are those consistent with an oral rather than a written tradition.  Meaningless. a deep  sense of security. and a feeling of identity with our own  community as an extended family—a kinunity. and Luke are more reliable than John in separating the  legendary and the mythical from the historical Jesus.   2. Agreed. his conjectures cannot be the basis for any facts about  Jesus. In fact. had stated (300 AD) that Christians would not accept a writing as authentic unless it  had been written by a famous person. and that whole community saw itself as under the care of the Goddess. The Dead Sea Scrolls are of no help since they were written before the birth of Jesus.116    1. along with others. and since every scholar who copied a manuscript added marginal notes which subsequent  scholars commonly added to the body of the text.   7. Mark.   Before you go.   8.   6. Mark. in the hunter‐gatherer phase. All of it is oral tradition. dessicated. Total nonsense. Agreed.  Eusebius. a feeling of wholeness in the world. think about this…  Adelphiasophists surmise. Since Paul had never met Jesus. He plainly was. Far too sweeping.

 and the early kingdom movement—the expectation of God’s  earthly rule and Israel’s liberation from foreign oppression—is not the founding of a religion called  Christianity but a Jewish phenomenon. A distinguishing feature is the involvement of  Jewish scholars trying to recover the historical Jesus. The heavenly kingdom is about God. and is on earth. The Quest for the Historical Jesus 2 © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Sunday. not Jesus  himself. November 14.   . Continuing surveying the quest for the historical Jesus. The church had to deliberately distort the stories brought by Jews from  Judaea after the diaspora of 70 AD. 14 November 2003 • • • • • • The Third Quest   Jesus the Jew   Eschatology   Clever men Speak of Jesus   The Spread of Christianity   The Hidden Jesus   Abstract  The Third Quest has been so named since perhaps the 70s. 1999. The historical Jesus and the Jesus of the early church bear little  resemblance to one another.117    Investigating Biblical History Having left the Garden of Eden human females stopped suckling earlier and lost the natural  contraceptive protection that went with it. Even more tenuous is the connexion between the historical Jesus  and later Christianity. Friday.   Who Lies Sleeping?  9. Jesus is a Jew.

has been so named since perhaps the 70s. For this “analysis”. the view of Wolfgang Kirchbach (Was lehrte Jesus? Zwei Urevangelien). denying Jesus was a teacher of Judaism but saying he was instead a wandering cynic preacher heavily influenced by Greek thought. Hebrews. He bases his conclusions on a series of fantastic revisions of accepted chronology and a vivid imagination. Jesus and some of his followers are depicted as “wandering charismatics”.118    The Third Quest    The “Third Quest”. dependent on sympathizers in the local villages. renouncing home. It places Jesus squarely within the context of first century Palestine and Second Temple Judaism. F Gerald Downing found that Cynics must have been active in Galilee in Jesus’s day because Jesus proves it! Jesus can equally be proved to have been an Epicurean. Egyptians. Gerd Theissen’s analogy depicting Jesus as a Cynic spawned an industry of pseudo-scholarship. families and possessions. Crossan places the Gospels of Peter. as a Jewish revolutionary. A distinguishing feature is the involvement of Jewish scholars trying to recover the historical Jesus. takes up the cynical idea. whilst Vermes saw him as a Galilean Hasid. a stoic Greek philosopher who gathered disciples around himself. apparently accepting that Jewish holy men could perform miracles. . For Crossan. the eschatological Jesus had been foisted on the tradition by the early church. written in 1994 and dedicated to the Jesus Seminar. Jesus founded. Crossan concluded that Jesus was a peasant Jewish Cynic. and Jesus himself had rejected the eschatological message of John the Baptist to instead adopt wisdom teaching appropriate to a Jewish peasant. analogous to wandering Cynic philosophers in the gentile world. Geza Vermes’s book Jesus the Jew boldly declares this. They too led a vagabond existence. like Reimarus. in The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. Gerd Theissen applies sociological analysis to the “renewal movement within Judaism”. Dominic John Crossan. It claims that critical historical research can lead to who Jesus was by careful sifting of the sources. S G F Brandon and Hyam Maccoby saw Jesus. a hippie deriding the yuppies. according to Schweitzer. or anything else by being suitably selective. one of the Jesus Seminar’s chairmen.

   He was masturbating! The Jews were quite prudish and one of the complaints of the Maccabees against Greeks culture was its lack of prudishness. the earliest of which consisted of a collection of wisdom sayings. a Jesus emerges who is only just Jewish and not focused on eschatological hope. In short. alongside the four canonical writings and Thomas as having historical worth. If these are the most authentic traditions and others are secondary myths. who went about Athens doing in public all that a dog did. Crossan’s attempt to make the passion narrative of the Gospel of Peter the source of the passion narratives in the canonical gospels has won little support. He was not interested in eschatology or Jewish law and history but challenged the establishment. but it is a question of to what degree. by selecting the earliest wisdom layer and supporting it with the Gospel of Thomas. . “the Dog”. According to Kloppenborg. dialogue and apocryphon writings. while hurling insults on spectators and public figures alike. The new element in gospel research comes partly from continuing research on Q and from the Gospel of Thomas. “dog-like”) from one of their founders. All gospels cannot count equally as sources. in the fourth century BC. Flouting social convention. expanded secondarily by material with a stronger eschatological flavour. Burton Mack in The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. they derived their name (kynikoi. it is absurd to imagine that the first Christians were anything like as liberal as the Cynics. like Diogenes. but this has been the conclusion of some scholars. Jesus’s and Paul’s prudery have come to us in Christianity. not Jesus’s. discounts Mark as a fiction. Q can be divided into three strata. and increasingly scholars like H Koster see the Gospel of Thomas as containing some traditions earlier than the canonical gospels. so cannot have been absent in the earliest Christians. Mack.119    Nazoreans. Mack supports the idea of Jesus as a sage of the Cynics. That might be true. focuses on the lost gospel of Q. a rationalisation by Mark of Christian failure. So. notably Mack. and adequate identification of the historical bits. and it reveals the author’s cynicism. Kloppenborg himself does not argue that the earlier layer existed in isolation from other traditions later introduced into Q. various fragments. By identifying Jesus with the wisdom layer of Q and Thomas’s gospel. Ebionites. Thomas and the collection thought to be Q are remarkably similar. Few deny these are late works and later works are less reliable. Diogenes of Sinope. Secret Mark. though it impresses publishers. The Cynics were itinerant preachers of a philosophy of freedom from every constraint and a life lived with minimal requirements “according to nature”. One time while behaving like a dog in the market place he said. no one believes a word of it. often in a way that shocked. according to Diogenes Laertius: Would that it were possible to relieve hunger simply by using the hand.

Crossan. an Essene. as a holy man. They accept that Jesus began with the eschatological John the Baptist and was followed by an eschatological Church. a hasid. Commentators can write off all of these “historical Jesuses” in favour of the twentieth century religious image Christians have. Jesus the Jew  Another major trend has been to emphasise Jesus’s Jewishness. bore a common Jewish name. Vermes. a Greek philosopher.120    Marcus Borg. It is scarcely less overwhelming to anyone except a Christian that Jesus was what he died as—a Jewish rebel. Borg’s Jesus is more Jewish but is still the model of sage and spirit person that Borg likes to appeal to popular religious feelings of our day. on the grounds that Jesus can indeed have been anything. A member of the General Synod of the Anglican Church said this was “a rather derogatory term”. . Joseph was the second most common male name and Mary the most common amongst women. Yet all of these proposals are not equal in evidential content. At his birth. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary called Jesus a “Jewish preacher”. The Jewish scholar. Yeshua was the fifth most common Jewish name. Jesus was a Jew and he was a particular kind of Jew. causing an outcry. Torah as God’s gift and the priority of God’s grace seems clear in the early writings. Vermes. but tell us Jesus had no interest in eschatology! Christians have always sought to deny Jesus’s eschatological aims because they point too clearly to historical reality. a recluse. Jesus did not stand outside his own religious tradition. also of the Jesus Seminar. Mary and Joseph”. Jesus’s genealogy shows he was a Jew. made Jesus a Marxist in that he saw society rather than personal sin as the cause of evil.21).21). Sanders too has urged that Judaism should be re-assessed within New Testament scholarship. was reprimanded by chaplains at an English University for saying Jesus was a Jew! The problem is that Vermes’s rabbinic sources are late. an Hillel Jew. Sanders has made a strong case for understanding Jesus in his Jewish context. “Yehouah saves” (Mt 1. Yeshua. acclaimed Jesus’s Jewishness. The charge on the cross was not unjust—it was just and legal under Roman law! One wonders whether these “scholars” are putting their ideas forward for serious consideration or for purely cynical reasons—to obfuscate the truth. Sanders emphasises Jesus’s faithfulness to Torah and his espousal of restoration eschatology. Borg and the Jesus Seminar is their dismissal of the eschatological Jesus though they instead make him into an anarchic and outrageous Greek dissonant. The weakness in Mack. this in itself is sufficient evidence to throw doubt on the recently found tomb of “Jesus. a married man with children. He was circumcised the eighth day (Lk 2. The evidence for these facts is overwhelming. Jesus’s Jewishness and Torah observance are central. He was not a Christian among Jews—he was a Jew. like Honi the circle maker or Hanina ben Dosa. four out of the 28 Jewish High-Priests in Jesus’s time were called Yeshua. Everything else is a smokescreen.

and so pretended from the outset that references to brothers and sisters in this context meant real brothers and sisters. Yet.121    Mark portrays a clever Jesus engaging in refutation. and He appeared without comeliness. Greek philosophy was equally deprecated by Jews who were not Hellenistic. A Jew would not bless the object rather than the creator. by wit and aphorism rather than by argument. Jewish scholars used to hold that the object of the blessing was not the food but God (Dt 8:10. When the New Testament inserts “it” or “the bread” in such verses it is not found in the Greek. Jesus never wished to see his fellow Jews change one iota of their traditional faith and remained within the range of acceptable Jewry to his last moment. Where do we get the idea from that Jesus was a carpenter? Matthew 13:55 based on manuscripts of Mark only describes Jesus as “son of the carpenter” not as the “carpenter. The study of Greek in Palestine in Jesus’s day was not encouraged by pious Jews. son of Mary”. Jesus said a blessing at meals (Mt 26:26 and Lk 24:30 which is post resurrection. and He was deemed a carpenter (for He was in the habit of working as a carpenter  when among men. by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an  active life). Joseph. James. Didache 10:1). The philosopher Seneca remarked that the Jews were the only people who knew the reasons for their religious faith. against extreme legalist positions. according to Mark 6:3. he evidently observed the law. It is fair to ask why particular ones should be picked out and called his brothers. was the head of the church in Jerusalem as testified in the book of Acts. although it was a necessity of daily life in the diaspora lands outside of Palestine. The main reason is that the gentile church wanted to hide the fact that Jesus was a member of a brotherhood. Naturally. According to the gospel legends. Most were taught to read and write. as the  scriptures declared. One brother. The early third century church writer Origen writes against Celsus’s assertion that Jesus was a mere carpenter. Jesus was an Essene and they . by the age of 12 Jesus was found in the temple precincts “both listening and asking questions” (Lk 2:46). James. Early church theologians were later to remark “what has Athens to do with Jerusalem” decrying Greek thinking. this plan pre-dated the virgin birth and the idea that Mary was a perpetual virgin. that “in none of the Gospels current in the churches is Jesus Himself ever described as being a carpenter!” Yet. The Jews of Jesus’s era were imitators of the Greeks in comprehensive universal education. and Simeon and two sisters. Juda. expounded its values all in a way acceptable to Judaism of the time because we find Jews defending him and his followers. He was conservative in sexuality even by Jewish standards and his dealings with gentiles reflect a conservative Jewish background.   Jesus had brothers and sisters. interpreted it defended it wittily. cf. making ploughs and yokes. The trouble with this is that if Jesus was a member of a botherhood like the Essenes or the Therapeuts well then his brothers and sisters were not blood brothers and sisters but other members of the fellowship. Many such mistakes are made based on the assumption that first century Judaism was Rabbinic.). the earlier church writer Justin cites it in his dialogue with Tryppho the Jew: He was considered to be the son of Joseph the carpenter.

and bringing righteousness and peace. Eschatology    Jesus’s eschatology is expressed most often with his favorite term: “the kingdom of God”—the expectation that God would cleanse the land and rule it directly. In the same way. healing and deliverance. . the renewal or rebuilding of the temple. whether God’s alone or one assisted by the Chosen People. The eschatological focus of much of the Jesus tradition makes good sense in the light of the diverse eschatological expectations of the day. Sanders makes the point that much of Jesus’s teaching makes the law strict. especially for the people of Israel—Jews not gentiles—for whom it was Good News. Bowden urges us to see all of this as sensible and reasonable in terms of Jewish beliefs at the time. The imagery associated with this hope in the Jesus tradition reflects prophetic hope for Israel’s restoration. but why then cannot the healing of the blind. the deaf and the maimed be seen as equally symbolic rather than as actual miracles? The driving out of devils might be metaphorical too. the rising of the saints from their tombs. warns New Testament readers to distinguish between symbolism and history. symbolises the general resurrection prophesied for the righteous dead (the saints) at the End Time. liberating her from her oppressors. The darkness comes from the prophecies of the cosmic events that would accompany the End Time (Joel). the darkness at the crucifixion cannot have been an eclipse as interpreters of the stories have often assumed but even some early commentators realised. the gathering of the lost and scattered sheep. The hope was an expectation of changed reality. His own ministry indicated that the hope was beginning to be realised. which crystallised around would-be messiahs or prophets of hope. restoring Israel to wholeness. The Scrolls (1QSa 2:10) tell us that the Priest blessed the “first fruits of the bread and wine”. The Essenes had the stricter view of the law. spoken of in Matthew. Our Jewish sources also offer examples of the kind of emphasis on attitude in relation to sexual behaviour and anger which characterised Jesus’s teaching. beliefs that provided for the Essenes a technical code language based on the Jewish scriptures. SCM Editor. His vision implied a political or military solution. the eschatological banquet.122    treated meals as a messianic meal. His hope was an urgent one like that of John the Baptist. None of them need to be miracles but all relate to beliefs of the time. the establishment of new leadership in Israel. John Bowden.

People just had to start being good—just what modern Christians want to think. The old world ended for the wicked but the righteous were resurrected in uncorruptible and therefore immortal bodies into the purified world—the kingdom! If Wright is correct. John Meier also agrees except that Jesus was an eschatological teacher for whom God’s kingly rule was already present but not yet complete. No one other than the . There is  abundant evidence that they… knew a good metaphor when they saw one. so he might as well be the orthodox Jesus Christ of the Christian churches. There is virtually no evidence that Jews were expecting the end of the space‐time universe. Heaven and earth joined. other than the messiah of Jewish expectation—a leader of god’s armies. the wicked world was not meant to end. preparing the people for the future coming of God’s kingdom. being at table with Abraham. Jesus and the Victory of God on the historical Jesus. he reassures Christians.123    Wright’s work. and used cosmic imagery to  bring out the full theological significance of cataclysmic socio‐political events. They took it as given that Jesus was the messiah then looked for as many titles as possible that they could give him. destroying forever the old wicked world but creating a new one that differed only from the old in being perfect and uncorruptible. Clever men Speak of Jesus  J D Crossan admits Jesus was not preaching himself as John’s gospel seems to make out. it was a polite self designation intended to avoid the conceit of using “I”. Jesus and John the Baptist. These writers cited are however more or less correct. if pursued. So. resurrection. References to Jesus as messiah are few and so ambiguous that. E P Sanders agrees. Jesus was offering an alternative to the way of being Israel. but was preaching God’s kingdom. Christians are preoccupied with titles of authority. would lead the nation to disaster.   It was only warning about Israel’s immediate future. but sees Jesus as an eschatological prophet. all that talk and imagery about a judgement day. Christians like crazy ideas about Jesus because they can then say that Jesus is anything that people want him to be. if Jesus saw himself as messiah. But in Palestine at the time. If this was a common use. Son of Man? It is taken by Christians to mean the vision of Daniel 7. Isaac and Jacob in the restored Israel. Jewish apocalyptic did not imply the end of the world. The general was soon made king—as they are—and replaced the kingdom of God as the centre of Christian preaching. and so on simply mean that Jews should take care! How could there be such confusion of understanding of eschatology apparently shared by James. What of the expression. which. takes Sanders’s notion of restoration eschatology further but. then how was the special meaning given it by Jesus meant to be distinguished from the everyday use? Most people will have understood it as derekh eretz— Jewish etiquette. and that of the early church? The truth is the Essenes saw the kingdom of God as a renovated world. he left no indication of what he understood by it.

but he was himself certain of one thing—that Jesus thought he was acting in the End Time. Crossan. Sanders remarks that Jesus may have died a disappointed man.124    deliberately obtuse or those desperate to lie for God. They were parables of the kingdom. he took some of the Baptist’s followers with him. whence the importance of marriage and divorce parables. but it had not yet arrived. We know them as the Essenes. While contemporary scholars would acknowledge that the relation with the Baptist is one of the most likely authentic pieces of the gospel traditions since the evangelists seem embarrassed by it. Borg. Even more tenuous is the connexion between the historical Jesus and later Christianity. There is no doubt that Jesus came to believe that he was the messiah. The historical Jesus and the Jesus of the early church bear little resemblance to one another. though soon—very soon! But Jesus was not preaching any form of reform of society. there is no reason not to believe that the Baptist was jailed and Jesus had to take over the leadership from him. In fact. Meier was right that it was both present and future. and Sanders was right that it was still to come. not Jesus himself. “There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus”. Meier develops the idea that Jesus was probably part of the Baptist’s early circle and his fiery apocalyptic theology was a constant in Jesus’s own ministry. can deny that Jesus was an echatological figure calling people to repentance in the immediate expectation of the coming kingdom. The kingdom had not come but was imminent at any moment. Jesus is a Jew. He came to see himself as the Messiah. The Spread of Christianity  Jesus’s view of himself differed widely from the early church’s. and Mack were therefore right in thinking that Jesus believed the kingdom was already present in embryo in his ministry. The urgency of it was the characteristic message of Jesus deliberately ignored by Christian commentators because 2000 years have passed since. Once Jews showed their true desires by military rejection of the Romans then God would act to secure His bride. not suggestions about how couples should behave. and is on earth. Meier fails to understand that the Baptist was Jesus’s predecessor in a movement already established. and in the sense that the messiah was the immediate instigator of the kingdom of God in earth—that his own actions were initiating the arrival of the kingdom. The church had to deliberately distort the stories brought by Jews from Judaea after the diaspora of 70 AD. This kingdom is about God. Israel. but he did not see himself as divine. John the Baptist exerted tremendous influence over Jesus and his message. and the early kingdom movement—the expectation of God’s earthly rule and Israel’s liberation from foreign oppression—is not the founding of a religion called Christianity but a Jewish phenomenon. The earliest gospel reports his final cry from the cross to be one of utter despair: . proving that Jesus was wrong in his expectation. Meier thinks that when Jesus left the Baptist to start his own ministry. God was forever devoted to Israel as a bride and a groom. He saw the kingdom as coming by a revolution against the rule of Rome and the Jewish apostates who collaborated with the Romans. Albert Schweitzer might have said.

125    My God. The Hidden Jesus  Dr Michael D Magee has stiffened the quest for the historical Jesus with a little realism in his 1997 book The Hidden Jesus: The Secret Testament Revealed. What is embarrassing to Christianity is likely to be genuine because there is no other good reason for it being in the tradition at all. It was the belief that Jesus had risen that started Christianity. The reason is ultimately that the spread of Judaism into the gentile world had happened already and could not happen again. Jesus was the first to rise as prophesied into the kingdom of God. This was obviously the center of Christianity as Paul soon after established without doubt. Crossan denies this. Moreover. He sticks to the earliest tradition we have. symbolically showing that God—who is light—had indeed forsaken him. The existing Judaism for gentiles naturally would resist any other. Other embarrassing elements have been purposely distorted. except that Sanders wants to dilute the message to avoid offence to the believing masses. . that of the gospel of Mark. Much of Q. because tales were emerging that had to be explained away. John is too overlaid with legend to be anything other than secondary and Matthew and Luke are used only to enlarge upon the skimpier material in Mark. He thinks the remarkable spread of Christianity was the miracle not the resurrection—but without the resurrection there would have been no belief to spread! Claudia Setzer. Indeed it is. the earth went dark. but believes it is not presented at face value as Christians do. Ancient history. where important elements of a story have been lost or deliberately destroyed. my God why have you forsaken me?   It is difficult for a rational mind to see why there should be any doubt about it. and interprets it in the light of the discoveries in the Judaean desert. is a matter of judging probabilities. is considered to be pre-Jesus. like Jesus’s eschatology and his baptism by John the Baptist. and we can explain it now with a good deal of probability of being historically correct. As if to emphasize the rejection. the spread of Christianity depended on a set of circumstances that could not be repeated. The central fact was that the corpse of Jesus disappeared and the followers decided that the revolutuion had actually succeeded. Other apocalyptic leaders have arisen throughout the course of Jewish history—Bar Kosiba and Sabbatai Sevi drew significant numbers of loyal followers—but their movements did not last. Dr Magee accepts much of the tradition of Mark. whose obsevations this is a comment on. as agreed by most biblical scholars. Some things are unlikely to be invented. being a collection of Essene wisdom sayings many of which were doubtless used by Jesus but tell us nothing about his career except when they are linked to the narrative of Mark. concludes that the transformation of some disappointed messianists into a dynamic movement is one of the fascinating stories of history. the hypothetical document used by some Jesus seminar scholars to reject a revolutionary Jesus.

 this is what really happened. It was not quite like that. had to be “corrected”. but too many  differences. The bishops had to say to their flocks: Ho. kept coming to the bishops and when they did not match their preferred image of a saintly Son of God. although two thousand years of conditioning and the invention of spurious translations of Greek words to suit Christian belief in the so-called New Testament Greek have succeeded in blinding even the most critical of scholars.126    Though Mark is the earliest and best tradition. they say. The resurrection and appearances that gave rise to Christianity are about the disciples’ perceptions. In summary: 1. The truth is peculiarly transparent. the first of the Righteous to have been raised up by God in the general resurrection prophesied in Hosea. That Jesus had been resurrected into this higher order of reality proved. Did Jesus really try to tell every Jew in Palestine at the time to love their Roman oppressors?  Why then do even the gospels contradict this? Was his message intended only for Jews and  . individual stories about Jesus. and explains  why there were differences from the Essenes described by Josephus. and one of their leaders. the Roman historian. God’s restoration of the world was a restoration of the sinless world before Adam! The Righteous were resurrected into the world but it was now joined to heaven and was therefore perfect and incorruptible. or was this an invention to hide its real meaning?   3. Theophilus. Nazarene? Does it really refer to a previously unknown  hamlet. Jesus had been vindicated through the disappearance of his body and this provided not only evidence of his exaltation to God’s presence as the first fruits of the dead.  Then they would change a few subjects and objects and retell the tale such that a core remained but the sense favoured the view they were propagating rather than the truth. it has been deliberately distorted by the gentile bishops to make the gospels acceptable to the Romans and the basis of a universal religion. The gentile bishops of the embryonic religion were faced with travelers’ tales from Palestine that Jesus was not what he seemed. There never was a gate in Jerusalem called “The Eye of a Needle” but it was invented by clerics to allow the rich to be saved when the plain sense of Jesus’s aside was that he considered it impossible for the rich to be saved. It still happens today. Dr Magee peels off the pious accretions and interpretative wrappings added by the earliest gentile bishops to the story of the exploits of Jesus. There are some similarities. for them that history had ended. Pericopes. This book shows Jesus was indeed an Essene. how silly you are. No. What is the meaning of the word. This oral tradition was strong because Jews were already widespread in the Empire and after the defeat of their rebellion in the Jewish War and their dispersion in 70 AD many more arrived from Palestine. In the minds of the disciples. as Christians believe.   2. but also of the truth of his claim that the kingdom of God was at hand. Ho. Was Jesus an Essene? Christians deny it.

7.127    meant to be a rallying cry against gentiles? The Christian universal faith depends on this being  untrue. a feminist Christ. The hope of the true believers is that the historic Jesus will turn out to be just another Christ of his times.. For honest reasoning people. or zealots as they came to be known? Christians pretend they were pacifists but is that  because the early church had to paint such a picture to disguise the opposite. an inland town  the correct name for these swine? What was the Field of Akeldama where guts were spilled. “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto god what is God’s?” Aren’t the  only characteristic possessions claimed by God. All this is hardly the basis of a religion. teaching people to blame devils instead of facing up to their own responsibility for their actions. though not those who are irrational or emotionally dependent on the traditional image of Jesus. His Children and the land he promised them?  Jesus was refusing to pay tribute when he uttered this famous sentence. Our gods and devils are within us and there we must seek and come to terms with them. savage demon that Jesus rendered impotent when it revealed itself  to be really 2000 Gadarene swine and to have the name Legion? Is Gadarene. Recent years have seen the promotion of a gay Christ. and has done so  ever since?   What did Jesus consider to be God’s when he. This book is a tour de force. This picture of Christ is the most powerful and original one of our century. All these and many more questions are convincingly and controversially answered in “The Hidden Jesus” which can be ordered from good booksellers and libraries and is available by mail order at £14. It is because this undesirable but realistic and historic Christ is at the core of the Christian religion that such a profusion of fanciful alternatives have always been sought. 6. gospel stories will never be the same again-they now make sense. 8. Oddly. Why have these questions not been adequately answered? Forget the obfuscations of the Jesus Seminar. saying.   Why do demons get driven out of opponents of Jesus when he and his henchmen arrive on the  scene? Why are these people torn and left for dead? Was it because the disciples were doing  the tearing and beating to silence the opposition?   Why are Jesus’s main apostles given such thuggish nicknames? Could it be that they really were  thugs. the message of many modern Christians is upheld-that God is not an external supernatural entity ready to interfere with the world at a whim or a prayer. but it is negative in that Christianity is found to be based on a mistake. agreed to pay the tribute  money. no “truer” to the original than the cosmic Christ of the Byzantine world. . Jesus believed an external God was ready to intervene—he was forsaken or rather mistaken—but Christians have made the same mistake ever since.  gentiles were supposed to have lain asleep and had the nickname the field of blood? Who were  the Galilaeans whose blood was spilt in the temple?   Why did Jesus curse an innocent fig tree? Could it have had anything to do with the fig tree  being a symbol of Rome?   4.   What was the unbindable. according to Christians. and that Jesus was not really the Son of God but merely had that title as a priest and prince. 5. Christ as a druggie and Christ as an alien from outer space.49 inc p&p (UK) or $30 inc shipping and dollar conversion(US).

 and all left with no trace. For such Christians. Rome had collapsed only a few decades  before and had not yet advanced far in its long decline. preached endlessly. think about this…  Christians object. Bishop of Arles.128    Then again. no! Many Christian theologians want to get the historic Christ out in the open so that the Christian churches can metamorphose themselves into the purely mystical concoction of mystery beliefs that it rapidly picked up from the religions of the times. who died in 546 AD. they can gulp. breathe a sigh of relief and then get on with it. and sacred groves burnt  along with all the little wayside shrines that dotted the countryside. leniency was misplaced. quite naturally. altars pushed over. the Christ of history was always likely eventually to be exposed by an Alexander who cared not for the conventions and respectabilities of his times and unceremoniously cut through the Gordian knot of lies that Christianity had to be to escape the unpalatable truth. When it happens. like S Caesarius. by flogging them and shackling them in “iron  fetters” to keep them “from mischief”. For people ready to believe in Christ the alien. bringing down the  Roman empire and setting up a thousand year dark age was quite all right! Early Christian  propagandists. and in a  popular rabble rousing style. Before you go. He continued to urge a people whose society was collapsing around them to give it  every assistance in so doing—temples must be destroyed. it will be a great advance.  . but there was no letting up for the Christian  demolition men. but the  previous destruction of western values—Pagan ones—by the Christians themselves. they must be assaulted and  chastised by cutting off their hair. and. if they persisted. declaring that nevertheless there is a saviour—it is simply that he is a heavenly one. of the need to end Paganism. to the Islamists saying they want to destroy western values. If  someone disagreed and tried to defend tradition.

 priests  and other crooks to catch people to control them. Price declares  he was in more ways than one. apologists cannot face the argument that Jesus never existed because their whole mentality  presupposes a Jesus who died around 30 AD. asks. 08 September 2005 • • • • • • • • • • • Jesus Never Lived   Evangelical Fly Fishing   The Fiction of the Gospels   Internal Tests and Consistency of the Gospels   Jewish And Pagan Witnesses   Mythological Hero   Crucifixion   Mythological Language   Forty Years   Objective History?   A Broad View   Abstract  Robert M Price. Orally transmitted legends usually come from the generation before last. That Christ is mythical means there was no Jesus alive in  Pontius Pilate�s time to give rise to a legend but instead. Leviathan (1651)  10. 1999 Thursday. In  any case.129    How to Understand the Bible as History Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which everyone in himself calleth religion.  . Pilate�s time was later selected as the time  when Jesus lived.   Thomas Hobbes. but 40 years is quite sufficient. Was Christ a Fiction? © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Friday. “Was Christ a Fiction?”. Apologists’ say there was “too little time between the  death of Jesus and the writing of the gospels for legends to develop”. a former evangelist turned battling skeptic. The worst way is that Jesus is really the fly used by evangelists. September 10.

Jesus is. Mithras or Adonis created for gentile use. Former evangelical theologian.   Latterly. Jesus. Samson is a legend. J M Robertson. . who argued in The Historical Jesus: A Survey of Positions (1916) and The Jesus problem: A Restatement of the Myth Theory (1917) that all the elements of Christianity can be derived from the mystery religions. Bauer thought scripture offered no sure evidence that he lived. thus. Arthur Drew. a German Hegelian philosopher. London. a Jewish Osiris.130    Jesus Never lived. Robert Price. King Arthur. Earl Doherty has presented similar arguments in The Jesus Puzzle. and on his excellent website. Homer. Adam is a legend. A long standing feature of the Semitic world was an annual sacrifice of a “Son of the Father”—Barabbas. People whose historical existence was as certain as the sun to whole ages—Hercules. of Birkbeck college. G A Wells. originally called Jesus Barabbas.   He did not exist but was invented like Osiris to explain Pauline religion. The lack of many details of him that we could reasonably expect of a historical person leaves us with two options: • • He did exist but made no significant impact. an English theologian. thinks there is no convincing historical evidence that Jesus ever lived. actually lived. If the historicity of Jesus is so certain. argued that first century Christianity was a social ethical movement which needed no founder to explain its rise. “Did Jesus Ever Live?” is a serious question. in Did Jesus Exist? also concluded that Jesus never existed. in his books Christ Myth (1924) and Legend of Peter (1924). This may account for the myth that an historical person. William Tell—have proved to be legendary. Christianity was built on the model of the mysteries because they were fashionable and to combine them with the Jewish scriptures that were also widely admired. we should have a more detailed description of him.     The clergy pour scorn on the denial of the historicity of Jesus. Moses and Abraham are legends. From the time of Bruno Bauer to the end of the twentieth century. where are the indisputable witnesses to it? Among the scholars that thought the life of Jesus was a complete fabrication were the following. If he had existed. scholars argued that no historical evidence existed to prove that Jesus ever lived at all. Yet.

Christ is a fiction because he is not simply the god-sent saviour of souls but an umbrella for unquestioning acceptance of what some institution tells us to believe. So the gullible or weak punter signs up for Christ and gets a mass of largely conservative political doctrine on someone else’s say-so. were paralleled in the literature of the time and common to priests of Isis. If it proves a psychological help. The chief teachings of Jesus. habits of church attendance. and insists on the “obedience” of faith. Esmun. anti-Darwinism and other questions that theologians have debated for centuries and still have not agreed. Central ideas pass from age to age. in more ways than one. Not one point in the teaching of Christ was new to the world. no Jesus ever lived in first century Nazareth. but here and there a refinement is made and occasionally a breakaway gives a novel synthesis of the central tenets. There only ever was a Christ of faith and there was no Jesus of history. Mithras. It is hard for anyone of a reasonable nature to discredit all this but Price has other ways in which Jesus is fictional too. Apollo. and that often ends up no longer purely personal. No evangelist ever invites people to accept Christ by faith and then to start examining all these other associated issues for themselves. As Price puts it. Christ is shorthand for the institutions on whose behalf he is invoked. as noted above. not only in the sense that the “Christ of faith” is an invention of theologians—a Christian lucky rabbit’s foot with lashings of gravitas—but. but yet are not taught by the godly chap the punter signed up for. they are smuggling in other issues— Chalcedonian Christology. usually ready made rightwing politics. priests and other crooks whose real interest is to catch people to control them. the Protestant idea of faith and grace. a particular theory of biblical inspiration and literalism or inerrancy. Christ is a euphemism for the dogmatic party line of an institution. Serapis. the personal Jesus might be of value. and Yehouah. the doctrine of the Trinity. The chief doctrinal features of the Christ of . Ormuzd. but all the rest of the package has to be accepted too. and one at least virtually implies that history is bunk! He says Christ might not be based on any historical individual. Price also shows that Jesus as the personal saviour. with whom people have a “personal relationship” is fictional—a comfort blanket or Harvey the Rabbit for children and grown ups alike. The worst way is that Jesus is really the fly used by evangelists. as well as wandering Stoic apostles. This is what Christianity always was as Paul proves when he wants “the taking of every thought captive to Christ”. To be saved they have to toe the party line.131    Evangelical Fly Fishing   Robert M Price is a former evangelist turned battling skeptic who declares Jesus Christ to be a fiction. When an evangelist invites you to have faith “in Christ”. They are non-negotiable. The Fiction of the Gospels  Christianity perfectly illustrates evolution in religion. even his phrases and moral sentiments to a great extent.

but no one else sees them. in 1850. and resurrection—were familiar myths at the time. They do not claim to be written by any named authors. he admits in Luke 1:1-3 that he is not an eyewitness but is writing. Why then couldn’t it happen in far more gullible and less well recorded times? The gospels were not .” That too is a lie. however convinced they think they are. This magnification of an exceptional but perfectly human person happened little more than a century ago. as “many” others have done before him. He and hundreds of his followers were put to death. The first biographies written about him were simple accounts of the life of a saintly Moslem. The Persian reformer. Luke or John. it would not follow that they were. the gospel writers were doing exactly what the priests and preachers have done since—lying to win over gullible minds. Mark. but biographies toward the end of the nineteenth century were embellished with all sorts of miraculous and unbelievable additions. Millions of people are convinced they are being abducted nightly by aliens. “Is he truthful?”. and. an account of what they have heard about Jesus. Did the men who wrote the gospels know the facts? Were they truthful? The vampires who foster superstition in the minds of the young and the simple are categorical that the writers were eyewitnesses and. even innocently. etc. In 1844 AD. as God’s instruments. and were taken from Paganism. It will not do. and is no defence to say. They do not know it. The growth of such legends can be seen in fairly recent times. Even if they professed to be written by definite people. he set out to reform the Moslem creed and to bring people back to the worship of a purely spiritual God. Who wrote the gospels? No one knows. Historians ask two questions about any reporter. could be nothing other than honest. gained adherents in the west and biographies of him were written after his martyrdom at the hands of the Persian Shah. They are not remotely likely to be true. death. “But we know it is true. where X is Matthew. The proper word for such conviction is delusion.132    the gospels—the birth. Ali Mohammed. Yet.   Enthusiasm. And even if Luke was written by a man called Luke. a founder of the religion which became the Bahai faith. They are entitled “According to X”. “Did he know the facts?”. after a series of visions. They do not claim to be “by Matthew”. called the “Bab” (Gate). always glorifies its cause with miracles. by the Persian government with the connivance of the ayatollahs.

The gospels display only a general and often inaccurate knowledge. the Romans had scattered the Jews over the earth in the year 70 AD. They would make Keats a native of Corinth. The miraculous birth. cannot be proved by anybody to have been in Mark originally—what we now read has been added. is inaccurate in Jewish customs and imprecise in topography. if the stories about him passed from mouth to mouth for a generation after his death. The story passed from mouth to mouth in these confused circumstances for several decades. as not even Christian scholars attempt to dispute. If Christians dismiss this as hypothetical. to a lesser extent Luke. Few people doubted he had been there. Preachers dogmatically assert the gospels were inspired. Prescott. and those who urge it are dishonest. Matthew and. It is a known forgery. Take the book of Daniel. the nature miracles and the healing miracles had to be abandoned by Christians who . In any case. used a collection of teachings to augment the sketch. H G Wells minutely and accurately described Labrador in one of his novels. Questioned. In those days. Consider these. if the gospels were not written until several decades after the death of Jesus. They would break down hopelessly in Homer. A sketch of the life of Jesus. as vivid and precise and circumstantial in the descriptions of its time and place in ancient Babylonia as any gospel. the principal evidence Christians offer. the resurrection and ascension. though the opening verses of Luke declare he used sources. for even the best people can be found to be unreliable witnesses with the passage of time. casting doubt on the whole myth. Blatant errors in them do not support the idea that their authors lived in Palestine at the time. So internal consistency is no guarantee of authenticity. Internal Tests and Consistency of the Gospels  Christian writers try to apply what they call internal tests of the consistency of the New Testament.133    written until some decades after Jesus’s death. let them reflect on their own position. written centuries after the time it describes. It backfired. Such tests are useless. the oldest gospel. the framework of the first three gospels. He had not! He read and researched the place and used his creative imagination. he was compelled to admit his memory was wrong in every important detail. Moreover. They would prove that Dante had really visited hell. absolute faith cannot be placed in them. customs and daily life in Judaea is so confident and precise in the gospels that the writers were evidently familiar with the country at the time. is most purely seen in Mark. Criticism of the gospels began when Christian clergy tried to prove the historicity of Jesus. the Christian claims for these tests are false. and must be read with caution. and Christians take their word as simply as a child. an eminent British judge published some such experiences he had earlier had. and the Hebraic Jews had earlier scattered the first Hellenized Christians. who vividly portrayed these countries never saw either land—he was blind. So. The appearances. the American historian of the conquest of Mexico and Peru. They say the description of places. and without making the least inquiry into their authority. The Christian response is to completely change their tack and say that careless errors are human and prove that the gospel writers did live in Palestine! Mark. few ordinary people could read and write. When Spiritualism first became a fad. They trust the gospels without any evidence. The same is true of much of the Old Testament.

Mark seems to have been written between 65 and 70 AD. though probably a Christian forgery. Persian. Clement of Rome wrote an important letter about 96 AD. is known to us only from quotations by the fourth century historian Eusebius. to break bread and pray to Jesus. a man who freely admitted that lying was acceptable to the church. There is no evidence that the gospels existed much before the end of the first century and much to suggest they did not. A hundred years ago. Matthew and Luke in the last decade of the first century. and a second letter bearing his name. All the gospels were written long after the supposed events. In truth. suggesting the writer did not know the gospels. Not until about 140 or 150 AD do Christian writers refer to and quote from the gospels. The Sayings of Our Lord (or Logia). was written later. at Corinth or Ephesus or Thessalonica. or refer to. sayings of Christ circulated in the Church. only two of which are from the gospels. It is not evidence that any historian would credit. The Christian usually knows nothing about the first century world and so cannot appreciate any of this. Marcion and Papias. and letters of Bishops Ignatius and Polycarp. from about 50 to 150 AD. and John in the second century. and all kinds of religious ideas were blended to form varieties of Christianity. They confirmed that there was no trace of gospels until about the middle of the second century AD. the gospels. . if it led to the greater glory of God! This fourth-century quotation by a lying Christian historian of a second-century obscure bishop is the only serious evidence for the gospels! Papias says that he learned from older men that Mark and Matthew really wrote gospels. That is serious. The response of the other set of Christians was to denigrate the investigation. None of them quote from. long before the Jesus Seminar participants were born. Greek. except perhaps Mark. The Shepherd of Hermas. in the second century. the first account of which turns up at least ninety years after the supposed event! No Christian writer mentions or makes any clear and certain quotation from any gospel until a hundred years after the death of Jesus.134    refused to abandon their reason. the Bishop of Herapolis. surely. do not mention the gospels or makes a clear quotation from them. They are known to Justin. a hundred years after the hero had died! Mark knows nothing about the miraculous birth of Christ. a committee of historians and clergy were appointed to study this question by the Oxford University Society of Historical Theology. a second-century fragment containing seven sayings. Gradually they were thrust outside the Church and called Gnosticism but in the first century and the early part of the second Christian they were Christianity. They quote certain words which roughly correspond to some gospel expressions but. Egyptian. It never impinged on an active brain cell in the head of the average Christian punter or deterred the dishonest parasites who read them sermons. by the second century. and the clergy do not believe it. A score of these varieties and their intellectual leaders are known. About the same time was also written the so-called Epistle of Barnabas and the Teaching of the Apostles. Papias. Jewish. early Christianity was an intense ferment of contradictory speculations. They imagine a loyal group of virtuous men and women meeting secretly here and there.

under inspiration. They therefore retold them to their flocks. Philo and Josephus spoke about the Essenes but had reason not to give any publicity to the Christian heresy . You may think it probable that Jesus really did this or that. and his teachings would have made no impact at all on any Roman writer. some describing him as a Jewish bandit and others as a dying and rising god. Since Christians were apostates from Essenism. a god. stories about a man called Jesus circulated. Our four gospels are just four that were selected in the fourth century out of a large number of contradictory stories about Jesus. For decades. who themselves know differently. The faithful talked about Christ’s impending return and skeptics decried it. virtually from the beginning. from the Christian point of view. Here and there. That someone sat down one day and. Josephus. There was not the slightest approach to what we call standardization. but you cannot call it an historical fact because it is in the gospels. They had to explain the tales as misunderstood stories about the god. There was no central authority to check them. For forty or more years the faithful waited for the return of their resurrected god. some of the few who could write put upon parchment what was being said. his crucifixion would have been heard of with relief and dismissal. It was for this reason that the gospels were written. Jewish And Pagan Witnesses  In the way of non-biblical witnesses to Christ. to aid the cognoscenti of the religion. While the rebellion of Jesus might have caused a temporary stir in Rome. Luke’s gospel admits the truth. both as apostates and as Essenes. To judge by his epistles. keeping as much of the original as they could whilst making the tale acceptable. Paul had little to say about an earthly life of Jesus—his Jesus was Christ.135    The gospels took shape in this world. without arranging for more publicity than half a dozen disputed lines. The silence. They could not simply deny them without creating the worse problem of how the god had got such a bad reputation. so sometimes contradictory explanations were made and the New Testament now has both. the bishops and priests. There were too many consistent stories about the bandit for the Christian bishops to ignore. They found an excellent way of doing this was by converting the original story into some kind of miracle. Of the twenty genuine lines twelve (which most people also regard as spurious) are in the Jewish historian. and preached the new gospel for money. we have only “twenty-four lines” from Jewish and Pagan writers. dwarfing every event in human history. they were kept as apocrypha for almost a century before the church began to refer to them openly. wrote a gospel is a childish belief spread by dishonest manipulators. but it never happened. thus killing two birds with one stone. going about. Men like Paul went from group to group. much as cheap evangelicals do today. is blaring. Yet it never strikes the Christian as strange or ironic that God should have lived on earth. but to judge by their absence in correspondence. four of which are accepted as spurious. The immense Latin literature of the century after the death of Jesus has only eight lines about him and each of these is disputed. for the salvation of everyone and died as the ultimate sacrifice. Jewish writers were hostile to them.

was a Palestinian Jew.  those men. from whom the name was  derived.   This passage is so obviously spurious that no competent theologian or historian accepts it. as Jesus is traditionally depicted. He was intensely interested in religious questions. and. He wrought miracles. Philo was born about the same time as Jesus. a full and unflattering portrait of Pontius Pilate. and he tells of other zealots and reformers in the Jewish history of the time. if indeed be should be called man. It is likely that he found there a reference to Jesus that he bluepenned. that he taught the truth. He was the Christ. The historian. He mentions the fire which burned down the poorer quarters of Rome in the year 64 AD. but left untouched the last sentence of the passage. He. Making a zealous Jew recognize Jesus as “the Christ” at the height of the bitter feud of Jews and Christians was clumsy enough but he would hardly pick any random page of the historian for his purpose. in Jewish Antiquities. with whom Jesus was connected. which would be just as odd for a Christian to write. Christus. which caused great misery at the time. that he wrought miracles. Tacitus says. that he rose from the dead. If he ever did. the Emperor diverted suspicion by blaming the Christians for it and persecuting them: To put an end to this rumour therefore. Although Pilate. For he appeared to them alive again on  the third day. In the Jewish Antiquities. and he gives a detailed an account of the Essenian monks. a man of high connexions and great culture. and substituted his own piece. condemned  him to die on the cross. in one of his works. and that the messianic prophecies of the scriptures expressly refer to him.  . whom the people call Christians. and might be expected to mention Jesus and his followers. 18:3 is the following passage: About this time lived Jesus. born at Jerusalem in 37 AD. it was censored at a later date by the Christians. reasonably be expected to speak of Jesus and his followers. a wise man. Nero is thought to have ordered the fire. It hints that Jesus was divine. To imagine Josephus writing such things is preposterous. was put to death by the Procurator Pontius Pilatus in the reign of Tiberius. Flavius Josephus.136    that pretended to be Judaism for gentiles. He was interested in the Essenes or their brothers the Therapeutae and people of a contemplative nature. as god‐sent prophets had foretold this and a thousand other wonderful things of him. Was a real reference to Jesus cut out by the Christian censor and replaced by this clumsy forgery? Probably. He even includes. the chief of which are his History of the Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities. It is a Christian interpolation. The  tribe of the Christians. hateful for their crimes. at the complaint of the leaders of our people. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. and had a large following among the Jews and  pagans. he resided in Rome and wrote his works. Nero laid the blame on. and visited with severe punishment. which is called after him. survives until the present day. his earlier followers were faithful to him. In one or other of these lengthy and exhaustive works he would. The next most important reference to Jesus is in the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus (15:44). though a Pharisee. and  was a teacher of those who gladly accept the truth. Josephus was a zealous Jew and most of this is rank blasphemy from the Jewish point of view.

Though it looks like a Christian interpolation. Tacitus was not the man to look up the archives. has understood it to be Chrestos. and. Claudius died in the year 54 AD. If the passage is genuine. However. though were not apparently widely available. and it is possible that sectarian fighting between Jews and Christians at Rome over messianism caused the rioting. that some Jews as early as this thought the messiah had been. if Suetonius did not understand the word Christos when he wrote in 120 or 130 AD. Christianity cannot have been known to him even so late. Some Christian writers argue that Tacitus must have seen the official record of the crucifixion. the reference to Pilate in 1 Timothy. they were always making  trouble. Suetonius. and were convicted “not so much of the crime of arson as of hatred of the human race”.137    Tacitus goes on to describe how “an immense multitude” of Christians were put to death with fiendish torments. Of the twenty lines. but Chrestos was quite a common Greek name. which seems to refer to the Christians: Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome because. That was not new at the time. There cannot possibly have been “an immense multitude” of Christians at Rome in 64 AD. Tacitus has one of the most distinctive and difficult styles in Latin literature. ninety years after the death of Jesus. He did not do such research. What does it prove? Only that after the year 100 there was a general belief in the Christian community that Jesus was crucified at the order of Pontius Pilate. And. being much more of a gossipy type of historian rather than a meticulously researched one. probably being as old as that. of which Pliny was Governor. And three of the gospels were then written. or Christ in Greek. if this whole passage is a forgery. in his Life of Claudius (chapter 26). Possibly the riots were between Hellenized and Hebraic factions of Christianity. there remain only five in a letter of Pliny the younger to the Emperor Trajan. to cause him concern. it is a perfect imitation. This passage has many peculiar features. but he speaks of them as respectable. but the peculiarities of the style of Tacitus count against the whole passage being forged. at best. and that there was no persecution of Christians under Nero. Only a few thousand were there a hundred years later. law- . and a good Latin scholar could easily forge those. like those we read of in Acts. has an obscure passage. and it might have nothing to do with Christ. The short sentence about Pilate may be an interpolation. Another Roman historian of about the same date. In any event they tell us no more. into which other Jews were drawn. ninety years later. whether Pauline or not. They say that the Christians were numerous enough in the province of Bithynia (in Asia Minor). Suetonius. it shows only that there were in 117 AD Christians in Rome who said these things—nobody doubts it.  This sentence would be quite meaningless as a Christian interpolation. Tacitus is supposed to have written this about the year 117 AD. only the few words about the crucifixion matter. It would be too remarkable a coincidence to find the Jews rioting about someone named Chrestos just about the time that they might have been rioting about the messiah. unfamiliar with the word Christos. for such a thing or the type to be interested in such a point. Some scholars believe it to be a forgery in its entirety. at the instigation of Chrestos.

 wins acclaim. today. to prove that Jesus really lived nearly a century before. losing popular favor. the infant hero escapes attempts to  kill him. considered by many to have been the earliest one written. “with nothing left over”. Some believers glibly accept these other myths but declare them false. defeats  demons. Yet that is what the born again punter does and that is what the scheming priests make children believe before thay have developed any critical faculty. often on a hilltop. This is where we have to part company with Mr Price because a great deal of Mark’s gospel. So. The Christians remained a obscure sect in a world that was seething with sects. If we do not use the standard of current real-life experience to assess history.   If these features are found everywhere in heroic myths and epics. Christian apologists reveal the desperate poverty of their case when all they can quote. but it can no longer be considered particularly probable. by 113 AD a good many Christians were in Asia Minor. to which one has to accuse them of special pleading. then betrayed.  and is vindicated and taken up to heaven. and would finish up drowning in a morass of make-belief. has quite specific details of an . and it hardly seems plausible that a Proconsul should write to the Emperor about such a matter. receives a divine commission. but never in real life. There may have  been. And why would God or Nature do things that do not happen now? As Price says: “Isn’t God supposed to be the same yesterday. are these few sentences. executed. It is therefore: arbitrary to assert that there must have been a historical figure lying back of the myth. If true. is hailed as king. and that’s all the historian can deal  with—probabilities. demonstrates his precocious wisdom already as a child. and forever?” So far so good. but here Price begins to get carried away because he says the whole of the Jesus saga is captured in the standard myth. Mythological Hero  The life of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels is that of the worldwide hero of mythology: The divine hero’s birth is supernaturally predicted and conceived. That is all we can infer. it is not safe to believe anyone who tells you that in one particular case it really happened.138    abiding folk who meet to sing hymns at daybreak to Christ “as a God”. we would find ourselves accepting every myth and outlandish fairy tale there ever was.   He says he is more and more attracted to the theory that Jesus never existed and so is simply a fiction. They do not know that this one rather than any other is the “true” myth. no non-Christian writer of the first century mentions Christ—Josephus being equivocal and adulterated—and references in the second century are proof only of what Christians had come to believe a century later. A number of scholars have disputed the authenticity of the passage or the whole letter.

The popular hero in Palestine was caught and crucified. Attis. Lewis being a soft-headed apologist for Christianity. Now. searched out by holy women and then reappears alive a few days later. Then. He was a holy man because those who fought for independence for Judaea in those days generally were holy men. C S Lewis suggested that in Jesus’s case “myth became fact”. The interesting thing about this is that it is set in a particular and known historical period and involves historical characters and historically verifiable institutions. It was a period of deep discontent and of prolonged revolution ending in a four year bloody war. Grave robbers discover her reviving and kidnap her. Apologists contend that all these myths are plagiarized from the gospels by Pagan imitators. he goes in search of her. During his adventures. been killed. but manages to escape. these figures were believed to have once lived a life upon the earth. But though Lewis meant this as an apology for his belief. and risen shortly thereafter. but this one actually happened.139    extended and peculiar campaign in Galilee and a march on Jerusalem. When at length the couple is reunited. Crucifixion  So this is where history and myth begin to merge. who knew the real thing would be coming along later and wanted to throw people off the track! They could not have argued this way had the Pagan myths of dead and resurrected gods been more recent than the Christian. Like Jesus. the mythical Jesus turns out to have been crucified as a rebel against Rome. and began to merge history and myth. Price adds that the details of the crucifixion. Tammuz. At a time when news passed by word of mouth. The early Christian apologists prove it by arguing that these parallels to the gospels were counterfeits in advance. an argument that Price poohpooh’s. realizing what must have happened. it is likely to be true—not by accident but by design. and first concludes she has been raised up from death and taken to heaven. by Satan. Adonis. In many myths. graveclothes still in place. Since they were expecting a miracle from God—though it never came—they persuaded themselves it had. Price goes on to say that the passion stories of the gospels are too similar to contemporary myths of dying and rising saviour gods including Osiris. Her lover finds the tomb empty. the Jews considering themselves God’s Chosen People. having long imagined the other dead. the rumour machine was probably highly efficient and many of the rebel’s followers might have had the myth not long after it was invented. Their deaths and resurrections were in most cases ritually celebrated each spring to herald the return of the life to vegetation. he is sooner or later condemned to the cross or actually crucified. can quite believe the lover is alive and not a ghost come to say farewell. Baal. neither. the saviour’s body is anointed for burial. burial and resurrection accounts are similar to the events of several surviving popular novels from that period in which two lovers are separated when one seems to have died and is unwittingly entombed alive. The others were myths. Nevertheless much is pre-Christian. pointing out that some of the evidence is post-Christian. a most likely happening if a rebel is what he was and a most unlikely choice of death if the designers of a new religion wanted to choose a hero. The very point the earliest gentile bishops . Hercules and Asclepius to be real. so to speak.

the Jews having been dispersed from their homeland. there were even more. reminding them that the Roman authorities never punish the righteous. They confirmed the fundamental fact. Only twice does he speak of “words of the Lord”. All of these lies are set down in remarkably unadulterated form in Mark’s gospel and have been interpreted in The Hidden Jesus [†] Click for AskWhy! Books In Print and order form  . but only the wicked. they simply told their followers pious lies. and for the first gentile Christians as for born again converts today. These witnesses confirmed that there had indeed been a Jesus who was crucified. They wanted to accept they were true. He never speaks of Jesus as a teacher because Jesus was not particularly known as a teacher. but rather to the designs of evil “archons”. Jesus Christ. because that would undermine their case. then any lie is the truth. there were plenty of skeptics then. an obvious early attempt to put space between the historical Jesus who was murdered by the Romans he hoped to convert and the God Jesus. Romans and 1 Peter both warn Christians to watch their step. it was sufficient—they wanted to believe. besides gullible souls. Paul. This latter is both the reason why an absurd religion got a foothold at all. If it is for the glory of God and his son. There were witnesses and after 70 AD.   Mythological Language  Despite the bishops’ best efforts. just as they have done ever since— the Jewish witnesses had got the story a bit confused. How were they to be refuted? The bishops could not say they were false. and the reason why the gospels seem unhistorical. just as there are gullible souls and skeptics today. Paul attributes the death of Jesus not to Roman or Jewish governments. Price amazingly asks: “How could they have said this if they knew of the Pontius Pilate story?” The answer is that they were trying to deceive their flocks—who at that stage will not have known the story—as preachers have done ever since. Paul would not have wanted to mention this.140    would have been making to the Roman housewives and slaves they recruited was that this dying God had “actually happened” recently. He never mentions Jesus performing healings because the healings were not physical healings at all but spiritual ones. and what he did teach was rebellion. Paul set out to create. so they confused the truth with their distortions but still retained enough of it to keep the essence of the story of the witness. persuading Jews to take courage and oppose the foreign rulers. the first evangelist to the gentiles. and witnesses could confirm it. angels who rule this fallen world. . then their god was proved to have lived in detail. did not want to talk at all about the god except in mythical language. So. What of the details though? The Jewish witnesses could quote particular cases and did. but he was not a god but a rebel against the Romans.

First century bishops did not have the internet. could ever have arisen! We must take. Pilate’s time was selected as the time when Jesus lived. The gospel clues suggest that Jesus began his campaign in 18 AD and died in 21 AD which precedes the governorship of Pilate. doctored the dates of Pilate in Josephus so that anyone who found or had kept a copy of the Roman archive pertaining to the crucifixion of Jesus could be discredited as a fraud. Pontius Pilate and even Alexander Jannaeus in the first century BC! Now. despite the attentions of hundreds of “scholars”. answering the apologists’ claim that there was “too little time between the death of Jesus and the writing of the gospels for legends to develop”. The story was by then out in the open. on the idea outlined in The Hidden Jesus. successfully smudged by the bishops as it has since remained. He also points out the apologists are not facing his argument that Jesus never existed for they presuppose a historical Jesus who died around 30 AD. Different versions of excuses were made and some of them now appear in the New Testament even though they are contradictory. It just about remains possible that the dates of Pilate are correct and Jesus was crucified by an earlier governor.141    Two epistles. Now. Moses. Only two easy alterations were needed to the letters which served as Greek numbers. do blame Pilate or Jews for the death of Jesus. There is reason to believe that Christians. Solomon. Price says there is simply no way such a variety of versions. says 40 years is easily enough time for legends to arise. this is possible. . Joshua the son of Nun. orally transmitted legends usually come from the generation before last. decided that the bloody defeat and diaspora of the Jews and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD sufficed for it. when they took state power in the fourth century. The theory that Christ is mythical means there was no Jesus alive in Pontius Pilate’s time to give rise to a legend but instead. for obvious reasons. and though they had forgotten exactly when the events had happened. Enoch. Some bishops might have tried to make out that Jesus was punished by a Jewish king not a Roman governor. if the death of Jesus were an actual historical event well known to eyewitnesses of it. Gad. 1 Thessalonians and 2 Timothy. David. redrawn as a human being. Jabal. Different attempts to locate Jesus in recent history were made by laying the blame for his death on well known tyrants including Herod Antipas. Price’s word for it that there were these other attempts beside the familiar gospel ones to ameliorate the story of Jesus. who had been waiting fifty years for the end of the world. that later. much as Abraham. Forty Years  Price himself. differing on so fundamental a point. Joseph. Just as somebody always knows somebody who had a miraculous experience. Price claims that Jesus was eventually “historicized”. simply extrapolated them back forty years—a Jewish generation. but that they should have been made is not in the least surprising. Samson. the maximum extent of the prophecy—from then into the reign of Pilate as Prefect of Judaea. and other ancient Israelite gods had already been. and can be shown on other grounds to be non-Pauline and later than the gospels. The legend that it happened in the reign of Pilate then arose because Mark and the first Christians.

but any exception invalidates the rule. Price hints that Schweitzer was the “single” exception. is found by the continuation of this process until by trial and error and eliminating the excesses and the mistakes and bringing in new discoveries. The truth. He says the “historical Jesus” found by those bothered to look is “just” a reflexion of the individual who is looking. there isn’t one any more. as all Christians do. so begin to take messianic references from the scriptures and apply them to Jesus—now Christ. All attempts to recover him turn out to be just  modern remythologizings of Jesus. The documents say what they say and cannot be added to”. that the gospel picture is sufficient—it is true. eventually a reasonable approximation will be found. Every “historical Jesus” is a Christ of faith. he can never be recovered. On the other hand. but we still have a reasonable picture of him. of somebody’s faith. and almost inescapable. “Not necessarily. He asks also why does 1 Peter have nothing more detailed than Isaiah 53 to flesh out his account of the sufferings of Jesus? The answer is the same. Lewis took it for granted. Objective History?  Price also gets on dodgy ground when he disparages quests for the historical Jesus by turning to Albert Schweitzer. the story had to be embellished. If there  ever was a historical Jesus. being mere clones of the scholars who  design them. The legend of Jesus was now being made and the followers were not going to tell the truth about their god. And the more recent gospels carry on mythologising. mate! What about this? And what about this too?” By assessing the “probabilities” in all these pictures. Why does Price object to this? He explains that: Even if there was a historical Jesus lying back of the gospel Christ. inasmuch as it is possible to get it. It is pure defeatism in history to say that the historian can never get the truth because he projects himself into his picture. Even President Kennedy is now a myth. the answer is plain. So the  “historical Jesus” of modern scholarship is no less a fiction. even finding a book of wisdom sayings and attributing them to Jesus. that everyone is moulded by their own experiences and social situation.142    Price questions the historicity of the passion by asking why the earliest gospel crucifixion account in Mark spins out the terse narrative from quotes cribbed from Psalms 22? Well. Says Price: Today’s Politically Correct “historical Jesuses” are no different. an approximation to the truth will be found. Plainly once someone is dead and times have passed. the truth can never be resurrected. an admirable scholar but a Christian. All investigators therefore paint themselves into their findings. it is quite natural.   So there is no point in doing history at all? Nonsense! Price now finds comfort from C S Lewis: “Each ‘historical Jesus’ is unhistorical. All the questors are doing is saying.  . Whether Jesus in reality died a noble death or otherwise.

as in the case of Jesus. daintily curled. A figure “very like Jesus” is not Jesus! While Wells is probably wrong that Jesus never existed. He did exist and was “very like” the gospel Jesus but he was an historical person. Facts have to be selected to present an accessible portrait. If all the facts about someone’s life are available. says that Jesus was insane. in the preface to Androcles and the Lion. not of selection. None of this makes the task not worth undertaking for otherwise history—and indeed many other fields of inquiry—is pointless. then it becomes harder still because it becomes a matter. The Evidence for Jesus  Dunn thinks he is preserving the gospel Jesus with this argument. uttering pretty commonplaces gathered from The Treasury of the Lowly. is “a lifeless. George Moore. the more zealous he is to magnify the grandeur of his personality. It’s baloney. preferably. of which the preachers are fond. waxen figure. astrology and fantasy—any means as long as it does not involve reason or facts—to discredit. a conventional piece of learning generated by someone else’s sincere efforts and that is scholarship. It seems that Price is being distracted by the fashion for postmodernism—a denial of scholarship in favour of empty verbosity. with tinted cheeks. while denying Jesus’s divinity. Renan. That is the thesis of these pages.143    The correct attitude is that they are all approximations to the truth. the creation of his personality by some obscure writers of the first century is itself a miracle: The thesis is within thirty years there had evolved such a coherent and consistent complex of traditions  about a non‐existent figure such as we have in the sources of the Gospels is just too implausible. If many of the facts are missing or have been deliberately altered. but neverthless a remarkable Jewish leader. All you have to do is make up anything you like by association of ideas. it is still impossible to know the historical person. . thought that there was “something divine” about him. negation. as he goes by”. Jesus was likely to have been the same. if the Jesus of the gospels did not exist. but he is not. but typical of the insanity of the world. and unsurprisingly Christians are at the forefront of it. but of interpretation and we have to look for clues in the events and circumstances. A Broad View  G B Shaw. free of the supernatural. The more the liberal Christian feels compelled to sacrifice the miracles and divinity of Jesus. Most Christians say Jesus is “the grandest figure in all literature”. The  fact of Christianity’s beginnings and the character of its earliest tradition is such that we could only deny  the existence of Jesus by hypothesizing the existence of some other figure who was a sufficient cause of  Chrstianity’s beginnings—another figure who on careful reflection would probably come out very like  Jesus!   James Dunn. It is a sort of extension of Christian pious lies into every field of scholarship. in his Apostle says that the figure of Christ in Luke. or that. in contrast to the much simpler explanation  that there was a Jesus who said and did more or less what the first three Gospels attribute to him. It  involves too many complex and speculative hypotheses. he also draws a parallel with Faust who did exist but as a shadowy figure not that of legend.

scornful of all that is enjoyable in life. The documents are even further removed from the events than the epistles and gospels are. In the gospels. and he never mentions any member of a church who doubts it. taught. It was not the same man who made Jesus into a wine-bibber and yet tell us to live on bread and sleep on stones. The Gnostics with their spiritual Jesus came later. quite impracticable. living in Judaea. with overseers (bishops).144    Jesus believed in eternal torment for people of weak will. Probably Peter was never at Rome. elders (priests). and there were churches all the way between. he admits. Jesus recommends hardly a sentiment that he does not violate. He scorns synagogues and meeting-places. groups of Christians existed in every large Roman city. he bitterly and vulgarly abused the Pharisees. Paul’s letters show how they began to change according to the audience. tried to teach in the first half of the second century that Jesus was never a man. and the whole Church promptly and emphatically repudiated him. and those lives or gospels do present Jesus as a man. to another about correct ritual. The Church combatted and defeated the Gnostics who held that Jesus was never contaminated by a body. One spirit did not dictate them. cutting at the root of family life and blighting love. They embody the contradictory excuses of isolated and often hostile communities in different parts of the Greco-Roman world. By 60 AD. He loved little children but advocated virginity as the higher ideal. not accepted by all. and was executed in Judaea is at the basis of Paul’s teaching. One man did not write any gospel. It was not the same man who made up the excuse of Jesus loving children and scorning his mother. was consistent in his views. Paul’s belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus is. an Alexandrian. It was hard to accept but that Jesus was born. We can assume Jesus. but the other Roman bishops named. . the modern world has no use for Christ. half-Christian sect. The phenomena of a Christianity in the first century implies an historical person. Lives of Jesus were circulating amongst them. He has no word of guidance in the problems of social life because be believes that the world is about to end. From a general knowledge of Hindu and Chinese sacred literature. but sets the lying agenda for Christianity by being all things to all men. one of the ablest of the Gnostics. He cites little from any knowledge of Jesus. from about 70 AD onward. and then founds a Church. even foolish. are not doubted. He is the archetype of the Puritans. The epistles of Paul seem to take us back to about the middle of the first century. This group was a thousand miles from Judaea. He had to found a special half-Persian. Not surprisingly. One solution of all this tissue of contradictions is that a dozen different people’s excuses for Jesus have been mixed together in these composite writings. who made Jesus the friend of whores and then deny human sexuality. to which you will find no parallel in any Pagan moralist of the time. the gospels. in many of his counsels. Yet no historian doubts their historicity. we have less evidence of the personal existence of Kong-fu-tse or Buddha than of Jesus. to another about points of theology. To one group he has to talk much about fornication and feasting. Basilides. as an Essene prince. Though gentle to the adulterous woman. bitter and unjust to those who differ from him. and servers (deacons).

of the great God of the universe.   Who Lies Sleeping?  . Jesus is not primarily a teacher. but for believers from the beginning he was seen as an incarnate god and given the divine attributes of “the great God of the universe”! Before you go. hundreds of millions of years  ago. but land vertebrates have often  taken to the water since. think about this…  Evolution is irreversible—but except in a strict sense. They all knew he did. A collection of wise teachings might in time get a mythical name attached to it and the myth might in further time become a real person. No Jew there seems to have told him that Jesus was a mere myth. In all the bitter strife of Jew and Christian the idea seems to have occurred to nobody. the essence of their belief is that Jesus was an incarnation. not that he was man. In 2 Corinthians 4:10 Paul says that it is fourteen years since he first came to believe in Jesus. to conclude that Jesus existed. and told the truth about him as they understood it.145    Paul speaks of Cephas and others who were actual companions of Jesus. Many of these people will have had quite different ideas about Jesus from the myths that the churches were building up. but none of them said that Jesus did not exist. So it seems more reasonable. They knew he was not a god! To early Christians. within less than ten years of the execution of Jesus. The supreme emphasis is on the fact that he assumed a human form and shed human blood on a cross. left the water ultimately to evolve into terrestrial vertebrates. in Judaea. But from the earliest moment that we catch sight of Christians in history. more consonant with the facts of religious history. more scientific. Setting aside the gospels entirely. it is not true. The genuineness of all the epistles must be questioned to doubt this. So he joined the Christian body. ignoring all that Latin writers are supposed to have said in the second century. and mingled with them in Jerusalem. to believe that he was God. and have assumed the shape and lifestyles of fish. The strict sense is that they  have not become fish again. a large and roughly organized body of Christians existed at a time when men were still alive who remembered events of the third decade of the century. A fish.

 Such ob bjections are variations of f the assertion n that the historical‐critica al  narratives method is s based on arbitrary presuppositions. C Christian belie ef debases ab bsolutely. This accusation is unjustifie ed. Christians s forego God Himself in favour of literary idolatry. D W December 05 2001 5. is inappropriate. H rical C Histor Criticis and Sacr Hi sm d red istory © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Wednesday. jections are variations of the f . They try to show that the method for r verifying eve ents used by  historical criticism with h regard to bi iblical narratives. and in pa articular with h regard to the resurrection  s.  11. In their de esire to be jus stified  by holding g “sacred hist tory” to be true. • • • • • • • • • Verifying Truth h   Presupposition n   Sa acred History y   Historical Critic cal Method   Objectivity   O Higher Knowle edge   Fa actuality   Ev vangelical Me eaning   Li iterary Idolatr ry   Abstrac ct  Christians s cannot hone estly ground t their faith in t the truth of a a “sacred histo ory” recogniz zed by natura al  criteria as s pseudo‐histo orical or false e.  Verifyin ng Truth      Christian theologians advance all conceivabl theologica grounds to show that t method f n s l le al o the for verifying events used by historical criticism w regard to biblical n g d with narratives—a in particu and ular with rega to the res ard surrection na arratives—is inappropria Such obj s ate.146    Exam mining the B Bible Objec ctively y Mere belief debases.

the historian simply applies. Regarding events found in the bible. the critical historian does not begin with arbitrary assumptions whether ideological. faith offers no basis for distinguishing true historical statements from false ones. the historian is not necessarily questioning the subjective conviction of the biblical authors. in December 1976. but there are many ways in which they might have been misled or even deceived. A merely asserted but unverified statement of a historical event can be no more than a possibility. Unfortunately for Christian fears. Kantian. Positivist. but simply requiring that what they wrote is verified. Does the historical truth of the event stand independently of the subjective presentation by the narrator? If so.147    assertion that the historical-critical method is based on arbitrary presuppositions. refers to its far-reaching application to history as “in fact only a ridiculous and middle-class habit of the modern western mind. Karl Barth. As someone concerned with truth. Elsewhere he says: “Proper theology begins at the point where the difficulties disclosed by Strauss and Feuerbach are seen and then laughed at”. the universal criteria of truth to statements about events from the past. Atheist or any other concept of history—often used by Christians as refutation in place of argument. though he might well do because their honesty cannot be presupposed either. The historian must determine whether what such documents affirm did in fact take place and in the way the documents say. The historian is necessarily critical. . recognizing this shakes the centuries old systematic defence of the Christian faith. in his remarks concerning the historical-critical method. the historian confirms the event as historical and the account of the event as true. and criticism is necessary so long as the possibility for error exists. Hartlich sets out some principles that Christians might well follow. which is supremely phantastic in its chronic lack of imaginative phantasy”. Christian Hartlich of Tübingen. The author of a document might have supposed an event occurred and recorded his supposition in good faith. Critical procedures must be followed to verify them. in a methodical way. In determining the truth of statements concerning events from the past. or he might have written what he did to have a particular effect on the readers without regard to its historical truth. it is bad method to presuppose that even the most honest people are truthful in recording history. What follows is a freely rendered synopsis of them with additional commentary. commented that this derision betrays Barth’s inability to engage historical criticism in the only field where the truth of statements concerning events can be decided—in the sphere of human discovery of truth. Equally. Presupposition  The historian cannot presuppose the truth of statements of events in old documents. Notwithstanding Barth’s monumental reputation. This accusation is unjustified. What they record might be honestly recorded. or conditioned by a predetermined Cartesian.

it can be argued that historians are able to grasp only a part of history as it really happened. Real events can never be fully reconstituted by later historians if only because of the finer detail that is inevitably lost. The descent of an angel is not verifiable. supernatural creatures are products of the imagination. In the light of all modern experience. and what there is is hysterical. In principle. an angel descends to earth and moves a heavy stone causing. the earthquake could be verified by the accounts of others who noriced it. demonic. two types of events present themselves. If God has made the world such that we can only have imperfect knowledge of the . but— given that observers are not reporting trickery and often they are—knowledge of the reality of events and the actual reality of events must have been correlated originally. because historical knowledge is so determined. an earthquake. not to historians and their methods. Statements about events in the past must be verified in the same way as we verify events today. “Sacred history” has to be taken by the historian with a pinch of salt. but have been shown in practice to reveal historical truth where it can be revealed. unless there has been deliberate destruction of data. and though loss of information loosens the correlation over time. Historical Critical Method  Testing the truth of statements concerning events in documents from the past is only possible by means of the historical-critical method. or by means of. the “history” of beings not known to normal experience.148    Sacred History  The bible is called “sacred history”. What is supernatural is not natural. beings of divine.   When in Matthew 28:2ff. The accusation of limitation in this matter must be addressed. This objection is valid up to a point. It is hard to believe that an omnipotent God would choose such unlikely ways of revealing himself. and so does not and cannot meet natural criteria. but to God. “Sacred history” cannot be verified. if we must suppose the author is not deliberately exaggerating or deceiving. and supernatural origin yet apparently active in an otherwise natural world. An angel is fundamentally removed from verification. and is likely to have been a hysterical interpretation of the earthquake. Indeed. But the evidence for the supernatural is tenuous. When they cannot be. Its stipulations are not arbitrarily chosen. then they cannot be admitted as truth. A possible event only becomes a real event for human beings when they confirm it by proven means of knowing reality. and can only be classified as unhistorical. it takes a long time to diisappear all together.


avenues He choses to use, then His salvific efforts on our behalfs look misplaced. One might feel that conditions for knowledge are unfortunate, but they still do not mean we should seek to deceive ourselves. If God has not made it clear in the reality he has provided, then however we might strive or theologize, we cannot make certain what, according to the way God has constituted knowledge for us, is merely a possibility.

The only criterion for determining whether an event in an old document actually took place is to find it in the framework of experience of history in its present state of knowledge. The discovery of other frameworks might force a review, but until they are discovered, conceivable possibilities do not abrogate the validity of this principle. In old documents, the historian is presented with individual opinions concerning what could be true. The historian’s task is to test whether objectivity can be granted to these opinions. The Roman historian Suetonius reports that, after the death of Caesar Augustus, at his funeral, a highly placed official with the rank of praetor swore that he saw Caesar ascend into heaven as he was cremated. The historian, therefore, has a report from a reliable source in the ancient world of a statement by an eyewitness, an honorable senator, confirmed by an oath. Should the historian accept this as being true? Surely God, or the gods, can take up into heaven the Caesar who had just died? For a being endowed with almighty power, all things are possible. Does the sworn statement of an eyewitness suffice to insert into history as a fact the heavenly journey of Caesar Augustus—a possibility conceivable to those who believe in an Almighty. Then, the historian could write, “After his death Augustus was taken up into heaven, a fact confirmed by a respectable eyewitness, as the near contemporary historian Suetonius reported in his book on the life of Augustus”. No historian who merits the title could conclude this. No instruments of knowledge at the historian’s disposal place him in a position to validate such assertions concerning journeys into heaven because they fall outside the continuum of ordinary experience. An event must cohere in principle with other events—stand in a verifiable connexion with them. An absolutely incoherent event is not verifiable as an event, even if it is notionally accepted as possible. The concept of contingency, dear to theologians, is no help in this matter. It is possible to conceive of an event which has no ascertainable connexion with other ascertainable events, but such a contingent event, by definition, cannot be shown to have taken place. Since historians can grant no objectivity to the Praetor’s sworn sense-perception in the story of the ascent of Augustus, they have to examine the subjective conditions which led the Praetor to make his statement. Was it a vision—a psychological impression caused in his grief for Caesar, who already during his lifetime was revered as God and Lord? Stories of such heavenly journeys are widespread. What should the historian make of them? Dio Cassius relates the same incident and names the official.



He adds that Livia, Caesar’s wife, paid the Praetor 250,000 denar for his oath! It could be an explanation of an unlikely event, but can the additional information be trusted in itself? The historian has to ask whether Livia would do such a thing, and, if so, why. It might be a derogatory accusation by her political opponents. The historian will have to investigate Dio Cassius’s sources for his report, and whether his own historical work, or the sources he used, saw the house of Caesar in a bad light. Even if the Praetor is proved to have been honest, the historian cannot conclude that what the Praetor claimed to have seen is historical. Considering the statements of events in the New Testament, historians have the same problem with the ascension of Jesus—whether or not it was an objective event. The reasoning and outcome are just the same. The only fact the historians have is the fact of the statement, not the factuality of that which is stated as fact. It matters not whether the tradition is early or late, for the statement is unverifiable in either case. A common false assumption overused by theologians and evangelists is that earlier recorded events are more likely to be true. Even if this were true, it is not the point. If it is unlikely as a late tradition and twice as likely as an early one, it is still unlikely. The evangelists mean not that an early tradition is more likely, they mean to imply it is certain. When an event is deemed unverifiable, an earlier portrayal of the event can claim no higher degree of objectivity than a later. These observations are wholly valid with regard to the assertion that the event of the resurrection of Jesus is a historically demonstrable reality. P Stuhlmacher asserts as an historical affirmation from a theological perspective, “that only the event of the resurrection of Jesus and the confession to this deed of God fulfilled in Jesus makes the historical development of the primitive Christian mission understandable”. This is to reason backward from the historically demonstrable consequences of the resurrection faith and its history to the factual reality of the resurrection. Historians, who are conscientious about their methodology, would be unable to come to this conclusion unless they were willing to admit the same reasoning in other cases too,


opening many impossible myths that accompany religions, cults and beliefs, as foundation legends, as historical reality. No historian doubts that belief in the resurrection is historically demonstrable as a significant factor in the growth of the Christian faith. It is, though, an error to maintain that the resurrection of Jesus itself is therefore an historically demonstrable fact. The factuality of what is believed cannot be derived from the historical demonstrability of its consequences. Myths are commonly invented to account for otherwise inexplicable traditions and behaviours. The historical-critical method shows the resurrection of Jesus is not the basis of the Christian faith, but the content. Given that statements of the events of “sacred history” are not objective, the critical historian questions further, concerning the conditions under which statements of this kind could arise at all.

Higher Knowledge 
Because “sacred history” was popular in ancient documents, some people conclude that the authors of it had access to higher knowledge. Yet, in other respects, these narrators were subject to the same human conditions as the rest of us. These ancient authors have to be supposed to have had special knowledge in certain sacred things but otherwise were subject to the same laws, and therefore errors as us all. This includes error with regard to empirical facts, making statements in the form of “sacred history” just as subjective as all other human knowledge. The writers of “sacred history” had no source of knowledge that allowed them to make truthful statements about events unknown to ordinary mortals. Is it credible that “sacred history” is all error, deception, illusion and invention? It might have to be so concluded. What conditions impelled the writers of “sacred history” to relate historical happenings as if they had really taken place, even though they never took place in fact? What concrete, subjective conditions allowed the statements of “sacred history” to become real? How can it be explained that the biblical writers seldom if ever seem disturbed in their accounts by the question that today concerns everyone who seeks to report events truthfully—whether these events in fact took place?

“Fact” is a modern word. Its rapid introduction was not accidental, but related to the growth of the scientific and naturalistic methods of investigation. Science created a precise concept for a methodologically verified, confirmed, and demonstrated reality. Earlier, human historical experience had not yet discovered the formal principles of true objective knowledge. They had to be acquired step by step, as the consequence of prolonged, often fruitless searching. The awareness of verification, as a necessary condition for truth, was first recognized when reason was faced with a multitude of supposedly true but conflicting opinions about reality, when enquiry into all things was popularized by the growth of science. It ackowledged the need for reflexion about the necessary conditions for the validity of such judgments. So long as the conditions for truth were not reflected on in this way, the objective truth of statements could not be distinguished from opinions, hopes and wishes. The concept of factuality was unknown to the


writers of “sacred history”. Their way of narrating is naïve, taking place without thorough critical reflexion on what made true events true. In their narrations of events they allow to flow together heterogeneous elements which the historian today must separate. Whatever was believed to be true was not yet governed by reason, and could without qualm be set down as objective truth. There are biblical stories that relate events that could not have been witnessed, according to the narratives themselves, yet even so are related by the writers as if they had seen it—such are the report of creation, monologues by Yehouah, the burial of Moses by Yehouah. Stories like this show that a distinction between belief about what is real and demonstrable reality was absent from the perspective of the narrator, or that the narrator thought it was absent from the perpectives of his audience. Many Christians do not differ today. They consider their subjective experiences as “truth”. A concern for the objectivity of sacred narratives was no more crucial for the community which received them than for the writers of “sacred history”. The church accepted narratives into its canon that contradict one another historically showing that it was indifferent to contradictions like this in its canonized histories. These kinds of contradictions are found at the center of christological affirmations, in the genealogies of Jesus and even in the resurrection accounts. Their inclusion in the canon cannot have taken place with any concern for the actual events because then the church would have had to decide which reports were true. It significantly did not do this in the process of canonization, and nor did incongruous accounts become subjects of discussion for the purpose of verification. These accounts obtained an equal authority through acceptance into the canon, even though they could not all be true at the same time. The attempts to create a harmony of the gospels, beginning with Tatian, show an attempt by some to establish a chronologically and historically unified course of events. However, the rejection of harmonizations by the church shows that the narratives are not to be evaluated according to the criteria of historical truth, but that they pursued an entirely different intention.

Evangelical Meaning 
The writers of “sacred history” use history as a form to call forth faith. Whoever misunderstands their method, and thus conceives the statements of “sacred history” to be assertions of facts, commits a fundamental hermeneutical error. Narrators of “sacred history” treat history as a plastic substance that can be formed according to the intention of the narrator, one that is not bothered by the concept of facts. Their intention is not directed towards a discerning historicalcritical acceptance by the hearer, but appeals to the hearer to grasp the evangelical meaning. Treating the history-like statements of “sacred history” as assertions of fact removes them from their proper context of religious propaganda, and puts them under the scrutiny of modern historical method, the product of recent scientific thinking that must necessarily refute them. This false hermeneutical perspective causes a disastrous theological error. “sacred history” is simply a means of missionary expression, but is itself made the primary object of faith. Faith in God is different from holding a story to be true. The New Testament used the form of history to appeal to proselytes to believe. Christian preaching today does not understand “sacred history” as


it was meant to be understood. It is not a faithful rendering of objective events, but an indirect appeal for faith using historical narrative as a method. “Sacred history” is instead made the primary object of faith, and has to be be regarded as true. It is this truth which is used by modern preachers to establish faith in God. Faith in God is not primary for the Christian, any more than it is for an atheist or a Pagan. The Christian convert must first have faith in something other than God, in the truth of “sacred history” called the gospels. Faith decays because Christians have to suspend their critical faculties to believe the bible. The alternative is simply to believe in God without having to believe the sacred histories are true. Many modern Christians are trying to move in this direction, but with opposition from traditionalists.

Literary Idolatry 
Hartlich concludes that when the pseudo-historical statements of “sacred history” become dogmatized and made obligatory by churches, paradoxically, the historical-critical method becomes the requirement for Christian faith. Christians cannot honestly ground their faith in the truth of a “sacred history” recognized by natural criteria as pseudo-historical at best, if not false. In the desire to be justified by holding “sacred history” to be true, Christians forego accepting God Himself in favour of an inadequate support for faith—a form of literary idolatry. Yet, given that something must be believed without any evidence at all, why must it be God. Nature is the more appropriate choice, and more original. That it manifestly exists and is wonderful ought to be enough.
Before you go, think about this…  The solution of the problem of the evolution of intelligence in mammals and dinosaurs would yield  similar features in both.   Who Lies Sleeping? 

 On ntario  12. it  is claimed d. th published d today that abounded in m miracles? Her re is the first p part of an exa amination of the gospels. Yet. SCM   © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Tuesday.154    Expo osing Biblic Fa cist alsehoo ods In every a age. most of us are brought up as Christ tians.   John Bow wden. 1 1998 • • • • Belief   Ex xamination   Christian “Scho olars”   Th he Gospels   Abstrac ct  Christianit ty distinguish hes itself from m other mono otheistic religi ions in its dev votion to a div vine being wh ho. appeared at a known tim me and place in history and d whose life a and teachings s are accurate ely  known be ecause they w were recorded d by people alive at the tim me. if any yone today claimed to be a a Son  of God. The clergy agree that al ll gods are my yths  other than their own. Christianity disting guishes itsel lf from othe monotheistic religions in its devotion to a div being wh it is claim appeared at er vine ho.  Belief    In the we estern world. sh how it. . w we should consider them to o be deluded or a charlatan. T Gospels 1 The G s Vitually no one of the modern transla ations [of the New Testament] can be trusted to bea ar the weight that  is put on t them. the Churc ch has both p proclaimed an nd misreprese ented Jesus. med. Dec T cember 01. Profe essor of New Testament L Literature and d Criticism. b but what mak kes the Christ tian god an ex xception to th he rule? They y say the holy y  he bible and p particularly th he gospels. Who though could believe a boo ok  book of Christianity.  N M Micklam.

the bible. Because humanity’s sins have been forgiven by the sacrifice of the Son of God. from the advent of Jesus. which narrate the unfolding of God’s plan for his chosen people. even in these cultured societies. really believe that Jesus was the absolute god who came to earth as a man. the evangelist). Yet because we are brought up to it. a religion which today holds the hearts and minds of over a thousand million people—many in the most advanced countries of the world. one of the Trinity of God the Father. The gospels describe the human sacrifice of the incarnate God and include a core of teaching broadly expressed as love thy neighbour. the holy scriptures of the Jews. what special authority has the church? If the gospels were not the foundation of our own religion we would find them preposterous and would not comprehend how anyone could . Christianity teaches that its founder. the saviour promised by God. But is it? Many other gods were thought by their devotees to have been historical people who wandered around doing good deeds—Orpheus and Hercules. As the Son of God. originally the Jews but. the Acts of the Apostles (mainly of Paul. the whole human race. fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. was crucified to atone for the sins of humanity. for example—yet most people do not now believe they existed. The holy book of Christianity. and an apocalypse. and our skepticism would be justified. consists of a version of the scriptures of the Jewish religion added to which are four gospels describing the ministry of Jesus on earth. These are the essentials of Christianity. Christians. was resurrected as proof of his divinity and ascended into heaven. and this is a fact of history. A saint he may be but his argument is circular. The principal form of Christian worship is the mass or holy communion in which worshippers achieve communion with God by consuming consecrated wine and bread which miraculously is the blood and body of the crucified god. Jesus was the Christ. Even S Augustine admitted. Jesus of Nazareth. the Messiah. it would not be possible to believe the gospels. salvation and eternal life await for those who believe it—those who have faith. Why do we consider worshippers of Hercules to be insane but worshippers of Jesus inspired? The clergy teach that all gods are myths other than their own but what makes the Christian god an exception to the rule? Who could believe a book published today that abounded in miracles? If the holy book of another religion had miracles comparable to those in the gospels. again mainly Paul. God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. “I should not believe in the gospels if I had not the authority of the church for so doing”. we accept it without question of a man whose followers proclaimed him a god around 2000 years ago. yet. we should consider them to be deluded or a charlatan. would a Christian believe it? Why are events as remarkable as miracles recorded only in some gospels and not in others? If anyone today claimed to be a Son of God. he was incarnated on earth. if the gospel story is not to be believed. Christianity has several holy days—the principal ones being the supposed anniversaries of Jesus’s death. resurrection and birth—and has adopted Sunday as its sabbath. letters of some of the apostles of Christ.155    a known time and place in history and whose life and teachings are accurately known because they were recorded by people alive at the time. for he admits without this special authority. a divine being.

The Christian scholar. Could Roman slaves and housewives be expected to understand what motivated the Jewish nation in its plight?—that Jesus was not what the church is now compelled to teach. fallible as they are. Or. The bible is the holy book. Though written by men they are still infallible. God made us in his own image. If Christian faith rests upon a particular event in history. for they dare not risk discovering they are mistaken! Perhaps the origins of Christianity are not what they seem. And. if necessary. and a Christian would say we cannot be expected to understand. he could have sent an angel to reveal it inscribed on tablets of gold. Why didn’t he do something obviously infallible and save a lot of trouble? Evidently he chose not to. Quite the reverse. practising Christians or otherwise—like S Augustine—believe that they are absolutely or essentially true. but they include the belief that the original testimonies. pleads that the basis of Christianity demands historical and critical study—its piety depends upon it. Examination  Those a little more skeptical might wonder why God leaves the reporting of his incarnation on earth to disciples who are terminally stupid and succeed in botching up the story. and. how do we explain the many contradictions in them? Why is God so confusing—or confused? Can we be sure the Son of God of the gospels is not an illusion or a fraud? Could we be gullible dupes whose ethical base is a confidence trick? For Christians such questions are impertinent.156    believe such nonsense. Christianity is genuine. Pagan! Christians have sufficient proof—their belief! Celsus. It would be unreasonable to believe he does not expect us to use them. The gospels have such authority in our society that most people. It is the only genuine religion. Some Christians seeking rationality. and our systems of beliefs seem to depend upon it. said the Christians do not examine but believe. Sir Edwyn Hoskyns. or by an aspect of Him—the Holy Ghost. uncover false doctrine. struggling with the knowledge that men wrote the accounts they revere. endowing us with brains. are the infallible testimony of God. worldly people today will not examine but simply believe? It is credible! They do—just believe! These difficulties arise because Christian beliefs are built upon the fallible testimony of men. when he could have rendered it accurately himself during his sojourn here. if our faith is greater than S Augustine’s and we do not need the authority of the church to accept the gospels as God-given truth. Is it credible that highly educated. Perhaps cautionary tales that circulated among oppressed and ignorant people came to be believed. Yet. lest it should destroy its own foundation? It is hard to be dispassionate about the bible when we have been taught to revere it all our lives. those who refuse to investigate it honestly must betray a lack of that faith. an early critic of Christianity. The gospels can be nothing other than true: they are the gospel truth—the word of God himself. All others are heathen. according to Genesis. resolve their doubts by claiming they were inspired by God. Having given us brains He must expect us to use them. Jews and Christians are indignant when anyone suggests that .

Rudolf Bultmann spoke despisingly of ”mere metaphors or ciphers.” He did not know how close he was.” Professor Matthew Black thought the parables were allegories . That it was set in first century Jerusalem is not evidence that the allegory is history. The details of the lost sowings are also allegorical. In case no one noticed. guided by God through the Holy Spirit lie? Outrageous! Of course they don not lie!” They presume the biblical authors were upright and honest people because they believe. The allegorist has made real history symbolic. The gospels are indeed ciphers. Modern bishops fear that by accepting the gospels as allegorical. all biblical commentary is allegorical interpretation.157    the authors of the scriptures were lying. and still be God’s truth. ”Can saints and prophets. the allegory was institutionalized as history! Any counter evidence was carefully destroyed or suitably edited.” So. E J Tinsley. It is an assumption. images and metaphors thrown up and conditioned by a particular series of historical events. so the heirs of the Essenes. Christianity was unnacceptable to the Roman authorities anyway. which would have been quite unacceptable to the Romans. and even if they are obliged to consider them. A typical yield would have been eight times. That the parables of Jesus require decoding is implied by the refrain: ”He that hath ears to hear. What we have in the gospels is a story about a movement against the puppet king of Galilee and then against the Roman Prefect of Judaea. but over that time. Allegory is the enemy of gospel exegesis based on the historical assumption. the gentile bishops. and what they write is not history.” In the parable of the sower. that the religion eventually became institutionalized as the state religion. they will dismiss them as Satanic temptations. the myth is immediately condensed into history. let him hear. thought the gospels could be written as crude allegory to hide their real nature. The symbols must be interpreted properly. the harvest is unnaturaly large. The harvest is therefore an allegorical benefit of unimaginable value. Even the lowest. Thereafter. rather crudely done. The mind of the allegorist is flying on magic carpets. so reading the symbols as the real history is plainly wrong. the historical Jesus will be immediately vaporized into myth. a professor of theology at Leeds University says ”biblical literature is a structure of myths. the allegory fooled enough ordinary people that it was a true history of an innocent and misunderstood man. because it has no corroborating evidence. Christian commentators have carefully steered away from accepting anything in the gospels as allegorical or metaphoric. yet with the same idea at root perhaps. Yet C H Dodd in Parables of the Kingdom says Jesus ”did not feel the need for making up artificial illustrations for the truths he wished to teach. The whole of the Christology of Jesus also depends on his historicity. walking on water and seeing bodies rise fronm the dead. and remained so for 300 years. not very finely done as Barabara Thiering claims. The idea of the Essenes was that the scriptures were allegorical and properly deciphered contained God’s absolute truth. What they read of these authors—the bible—is why they believe! They refuse to examine the many problems especially of chronology in the biblical texts. In fact. but the wrong christology must emerge if the allegorical Jesus is taken to be the historical one. but deliberately allegorized to disguise the underlying sedition. 30 fold is hugely optimistic.

They must be willing to look at the books of the New Testament in their human and historical context. there is sure to be a deeper truth waiting to be discovered. the servant owed 10. for the poorest labourer would be at least �25.” he believed.   In short. Professor Tinsley saw long ago that the ”mission of Jesus had been allegorized” in the gospels.   You do not have to show.  It is obviously quite impossible to reason with such people although Jews. What We Cannot Show We Do Not Know. they must be willing to accept the Christian holy books are merely the work of men wilfully or misguidedly duping their fellows. The Ten Virgins (Mt 25:1-12) are all unnatural and unrealistic. So this servant owed over two billion pounds or 4 billion dollars. . Rational people must want to examine the origins of their beliefs and show that they are well founded.000 denarii. non-supernatural way. Equally. criticises Christians for: • • • failing carefully and critically to analyse the literary and historical traits of every pericope  adduced as evidence. ”Belief” is irreconcilable with reason. ”To make them acceptable.000 talents! Each talent is 10. if God inspired their composition. by any standards. the pay of a day labourer. pace Neusner.   using anachronistic or inappropriate analogies and the introduction of irrelevant issues. The debt is unimaginably huge! The tribute of Galilee and Peraea (Herod Antipas’s kingdom) in 4 BC . ”to make it contemporary. it would shine through.158    and said of Dodd that he ”managed to get the benefit of allegory while denying that it is allegory. accepting that. He was a rich servant.” In the Unmerciful Servant (Mt 18:23-35). Would God want us to believe it if it were not true? Pilate asked: “What is truth?” Whatever we accept as the truth of Christian origins.   assumping that things happened exactly as the sources allege. and thereby recover from the Christian gospels the remnants of historical truth. according to Josephus was 200 talents. The parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. Jacob Neusner in Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament.” is the truth. Christian belief boils down to: What you do not know. are scarcely any different. But the gospels themselves offer serious problems to any rational interpretation. Why should anyone fear it? My purpose here is to offer the Christian story from the viewpoint of a skeptic—to show that it is possible to interpret the facts offered to us by the early Christian writers in a non-mystical. A days pay today. if it does not. They must be sufficiently curious to wish to examine the relevant Christian texts to justify and confirm their views. the Great Feast (Mt 22:1-13).   Just say… and it is so.

anything that is not a problem. to give a fuller.159    Christian “Scholars”    Modern Christian ”scholars” apparently only want to tackle easy problems—in other words.” a deliberate implication that those who accept it—unlike the sophisticated ”scholars. testable theses about the New Testament. but suggest the process was not simple. perhaps a version of the document called ”Q. Christian ”scholars” disparage the ”Two Document” thesis as ”simplistic. and some editors might have transferred stories from one to the other for the sake of harmony. but no objective scholar ever believed this. Christian scholars are intent on doing what they have successfully but dishonestly done for millennia—muddying the waters as soon as proper scholars begin to clear them a little. so the process was quite straightforward. The long accepted theory is the ”Two Document” theory that the synoptic gospels were based on Mark’s gospel and another work. at a time when books were not easily made. They want to be free to bibble to their heart’s content secure in the knowledge that their scholarly peers will approve—so long as they do not actually try to discover any truths about biblical history or myth.though the authors of Matthew and Luke drew on Mark and ”Q. Plainly. This is the meaning of ”scholar” applied to a Christian student of the bible. earlier drafts might have been kept in circulation even though they were strictly superseded by a later version. A similar scheme applies too to Matthew which was originally not at all like the gospel we now have but was a collection of sayings. whatever they were. now lost. no one imagines that the synoptic gospel writers took their sources. There is good reason for thinking that both could have existed initally as a draft form (proto-Mark and proto-Luke) and this was worked up by many hands into the books we now have.” This was cobined with Mark. None of this detracts from the basic thesis that the synoptics are composed of Mark and Q. and it is not even clear that the gospels of Mark and Luke even existed in an agreed form at first.” neither Mark nor Q might have been the latest version. These clever Christians tell the simpletons that the Two Document . This theory superseded an earlier theory called the ”Griesbach Hypothesis”. richer and more polished gospel and this was edited by many editors before it reached the modern form. The gospels have obviously been changed frequently by deliberating editing or by copying errors since they were first written. These ”scholars” like to place tags of disapproval upon anyone who really tries to formulate serious. Not long afterwards. So. They do not want to risk discovering something that might rock the holy boat. incomplete versions of all three synoptic gospels might have been around. wrote and handed to the general public the final version of their gospels—the ones we can read today.” Christian ones—are simple. Yet. Christians might like to think that God inspired the writing of gospels. Now. called Q.

They are playing to the gallery of their own gullible followers who will guffaw at the slight on the critics—God 1 .   he rose from the dead on the third day.   . like all drug dealers. Indeed the absence of detail about the life of the founder of Christianity by his most important apostle seems astonishing. Like the exaggerated colours of the brochures. But Paul’s letters tell us almost nothing about Jesus. the gospels. The earliest of Paul’s epistles may have been written only a few decades after the crucifixion. gospel stories could be mainly hype. They were not written as historical documents but to recruit converts. but problems remain. The truth is that those who paint the absurd picture of the Two Document hypothesis are its detracters.   he started the tradition of the Eucharist. head and side. The Gospels  As rational people we might wish to discover what we can about the origin of Christianity from the evidence. decayed or despoiled by the ravages of time but destroyed by the Christians themselves! Anything that has not been destroyed has been savaged by early Christian editors until it is difficult to know what was original and what has been interpolated or re-written. Christian mainliners preserve their fix against the nasty thought police who want to dissuade them from their addiction and. but some of Paul’s epistles. hand out a little truth in pure. unsanctified needles. Most evidence deemed unacceptable has been destroyed. it is for their usual self-seeking and dishonest reasons. The reason that Christians do not like the Two Document hypothesis is that it reduces the evidence of Jesus to Mark’s gospel which lacks the dead Jesus walking around with holes in his hands. and gentle Jesus simply a glossy picture to attract new punters! Nor are the earliest Christian records those which appear first in the New Testament. instead. The Two Document hypothesis successfully explains most of the perceived relations between the synoptic gospels. in about 52 AD. but not much evidence remains other than the works long ago categorized by Christian bishops as canonical.   he was crucified. Paul can say very little about Jesus: • • • • • he was a Jew of the line of David—Paul knew of no divine impregnation—and was the first of  many children. showing them off to everyone he can find.   he appeared to various people after his resurrection. just as modern holiday brochures are written to persuade people to spend their money. and. the person.the Devil 0. but there are no problems that cannot be solved on the basis of the Two Document hypothesis followed by editorial attempts at harmonisation. They do not realize that the gospels were not written as accurate records for the archives but purely to persuade people to believe. and more successfully than rival theories. including a multitude.160    hypothesis cannot account for the complexities of the gospel texts. Most Christians who are not theologians do not realize this. which is to say those which they deemed acceptable for general consumption. feet. Not simply lost. The explanation will never be known because it lies long ago.

Paul was preaching his own message. the tellers of the stories. We can safely conclude that the gospels did not exist in documentary form when Paul wrote his letters. the Nazarenes. considered the second coming—in Greek. If you believe in the risen Christ. parousia—and the end of the world as imminent and regarded it as a pointless exercise to record the events of Jesus’s life. Accounts in the form we now have them were years later still. the evangelists and those who preceded them—a church already existed at Rome when Paul arrived there—had founded many Christian churches in the Roman Empire. If they existed. and the stories had become stylized and idealized. The dominant themes of the early church were the passion. missionaries. and Paul could not know what was attributed by the church to Christ later. and even contradict Christianity as it has come to us via Paul. Being Jewish. By then the stories had been told many times. a semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic. Paul’s epistles were written around 50-60 AD whereas the earliest narrative gospels are from around 60-90 AD. These are the reasons why much of the teaching of Jesus seems mysterious. For the same reason the apostles—preachers not writers—practised an oral tradition rather than any written one. They could make use of Paul’s teaching and also incorporate the theory and practice of the church as it had evolved in the years following the death of Jesus. Paul had no gospels but at some stage the gospel writers or editors discovered Paul. After the Roman destruction of . and then other details of Christ’s life and thought. Why was it not until about 30 years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death in 33 AD that the earliest written accounts of his mission appeared? The Jewish disciples of Jesus. They would have been less interested in events preceding the week of the passion. Nor would they have been too concerned about any peripheral teaching of the fledgling god.   Paul overcame the last impediment by claiming a superior way of knowing Jesus— supernaturally! Paul apparently was a medium. The first Christian missionaries. Whatever Jesus thought while he lived simply did not matter to Paul.161    • he had died before Paul was converted and Paul never met him. From time to time he would fall into a trance and have visions of the risen Jesus telling him where the chosen apostles were going wrong! Paul uses very little of the life or teaching of Jesus because he did not know it and thought it irrelevant anyway. The first Christians were not expecting to have to teach teachers. the Jewish vernacular of the time. Whatever the apostles knew about these. the resurrection and the impending return of the messiah. they would have told. Only as time passed and the second coming did not arrive did those who retained their faith decide to write down details of the passion. you are saved so what does it matter what Jesus taught? Nor do Paul’s epistles refer to written accounts of the life of Jesus. The original oral tradition of the Nazarenes became a written tradition. had dispersed to many lands. it is inconceivable that Paul would never have quoted from them when it suited him. the apostle’s teachings initially were transmitted orally in Aramaic. These different churches produced different holy books. For Paul a belief in the risen Christ was all that was needed for salvation.

They would have been collections of messianic scriptural prophecies and testimonia which the gospel writers indiscriminately applied to Jesus. It seems likely. who believed the world was about to be renewed under the direct rule of God. but it is also a boon for the inquirer because ad hoc editing leaves inconsistencies that can be revealing. It means they were the ones that best suited the growth of the church in its Roman milieu. The gentile churches including those set up by Paul were interested in the dying and resurrected god and had little interest in Jesus’s life otherwise. are not at all in their original form. For these reasons the four canonical gospels are not reliable. they have since been lost. Unauthentic elements were incorporated into them. that if these were systematic collections of any sort then they preceded Jesus. Jewish converts who did not revert to Judaism. another passion narratives. The results of the divers sources and interests of the writers were a number of variant accounts which at first circulated separately in particular communities. Luke is admitting he had earlier sources—earlier gospels—but. Others saw parallels between Jesus and Orpheus or Adonis and it became expedient to write in appropriate stories and parables.162    Jerusalem in 70 AD no single church had any special seniority. like the church of Alexandria in Egypt. always able to quote some bit of scripture in justification. Matthew 16:18-19. Evidence of this is taken to be the prologue of Luke in which he refers to a number of writers who have established the facts of the religion as handed down by the original eyewitnesses. For example. because they were omitted from the canon. . Some gospels. however. like Luke. though fragments are discovered from time to time. essentially Jesus the rabbi. on the role of Peter when Jesus says. That was to be a boon for the church. notes a later concern of the church not a concern of Jesus. another miracles. Among them were the four gospels or their prototypes which the church later defined as being authoritative but which were evidently not accepted by Christian writers until after 140 AD to judge by citations by early churchmen. The acceptance of the four gospels by the church does not mean they were the most original or the most accurate accounts. Some Christian historians think different followers of Jesus specialized in different aspects of Jesus’s ministry. consisted largely of Jewish Christians who felt better able to understand the teachings of a Jew than the essentially gentile congregations of other churches like that at Rome where the Jewish War had left a bad impression and local Christians were keen to play down the Jewish origins of their religion. These different congregations saw Jesus in different ways. the personal views of the evangelists were written into the gospels because the translator or scribe had no way of knowing whether something was true or the evangelist’s opinion. They were heavily and clumsily edited by their authors and by later theologians who felt they could be improved in this or that small way. But no single editor ever had the authority to rewrite all the holy texts to eliminate contradictions. and therefore keen on his sayings. They contain anachronisms—confusing Nazarene beliefs with what the church at a later date wanted converts to believe. “upon this rock I will build my church”. and so on. allowing it to do as it wished. One collected parables. Some. were interested in the thought of Jesus.

When christologically advanced concepts appear in the gospels they were probably inserted by a later editor. Before you go. Why.   Who Lies Sleeping?  Analyzing the Bible Scientifically . Like Eichmann.163    What editing happened before 140 AD or so. But even the completed versions were altered in parts by later editors and copyists. The paraphernalia and dogmas of the church were constructed in imitation of rival religions or through political necessity not from any prescriptions of Jesus. The copyists of Herodotus and Thucydides had little reason to alter them. reducing guilt more. Earlier drafts of the gospels are now lost and lost versions could explain some of the puzzles of the connections between the gospels. for example. The answer is that Herodotus and Thucydides are not the sacred books of millions of people who believe they are the true word of God. Jesus’s own message of a personal repentance from sin to join the elect of God and secure entry into the coming kingdom was replaced by Paul’s innovations. differ in important respects. Deliberate alterations were made to the gospels within only a few years of their being written. whereas the copyists of the New Testament texts had every reason to alter the holy books to suit church politics and to match its changing dogmata. And there are many more manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts of the gospels preserved from long ago than of any other book. An inquirer will examine the culture of first century Palestine and will believe the gospel account when it agrees with the culture of Palestine at that time. we are doing our duty. The skeptic therefore takes the view that anything in the Christian scriptures which seems inappropriate or contradicts church doctrine is likely to be a remnant of the original tradition that has escaped editorial correction. Even after 140 AD variations continued to be introduced because the fourth century codices. only  obeying orders—it is not our fault! Furthermore those who give the order also absolve themselves from  guilt—they do not have to do the dirty work themselves. is unknown but considerable. A chain of command or a technological device  (like a B52 bomber) diffuses the responsibility. you might ask. the gospels were written successively and the evolution of theology can be seen from gospel to gospel. Jesus growing. Otherwise he will doubt it just as he would doubt the authenticity of a Roman bicycle pump. are we so fussy about the reliability of the New Testament books? Our oldest copies of Herodotus and Thucydides are only hundreds of years old yet we do not question the accuracy of their every word. from the modest son of man of Mark into the fully fledged god cast in the eastern saviour mould of John. redemption from original sin by irrational faith mediated by the power and ritual of the church. the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus. Still. Surely such fussiness is unwarranted. think about this…  By yielding to authority we can absolve ourselves of guilt.

December 01. which pre‐ date the gospels. Matthew and Luke are mostly based on Mark and Q.164    There have been many prophets of the forthcoming catastrophe but they are not hailed and praised for  their forethought—they are ignored or condemned as Jeremiahs. seems to be a collection of wise sayings with little or no narrative. so can add relatively  little to the gospel story. 1998 • • • • The Gospel of John   The Synoptic Problem   The Gospel of Matthew   The Gospel of Luke   Abstract  Christians might believe that in the gospels they have independent accounts of the ministry of Jesus. which is largely narrative. stem from Q—roughly the version of Matthew—suggesting it was the earliest Christian  text.   Bruce Chilton  © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Tuesday. but Q. The Gospels 2 No single translation of the New Testament can be recommended as a completely clear and accurate  reading. seems  to stem from a different tradition from the other three especially in its account of the last week in  Jerusalem but is too late to be of primary interest.  One observer. The few sayings of Jesus in Paul’s epistles.  though earlier. The fourth gospel.The Gospel of John    . John. they might argue. could have been mistaken but could four? But Matthew. Mark and  Luke are not independent.   Who Lies Sleeping?  13. There is evidence for Q also in the non‐canonical Gospel of Thomas. a missing source.

We must treat these additions with skepticism not least because Matthew and particularly Luke obviously made determined attempts to pull together every particular of tradition they could find. The history of the church is of doctrine becoming more and more elaborate not of it being simplified. healing a cripple and a blind man in Jerusalem. omitting—apparently deliberately—much of their content. vocabulary and grammatical peculiarities one begins to suspect copying. the Samaritan woman. In John this was so amazing a miracle it was the . John is quite different from the other three. Very little. It is more than the set of pericopes—units of oral tradition—that can be seen in the synoptic gospels. John is more didactic. of the New Testament is written by people who knew the Son of God in person. It is mainly discourse rather than narrative. Despite its own claims. The one which does seem to be independent of the others in large measure is the last in the New Testament and the last one completed. philosophical and theological than the synoptics. could have been mistaken but could four? Regrettably examination of the texts tends to explode this argument. Matthew. Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because they tell essentially the same story—they have the same viewpoint. at a late date. its parts being linked together as a uniform whole to a much greater extent than the other gospels. One expects different accounts of the same events to tell broadly the same story. Furthermore. raising Lazarus. It is not mentioned by Papias or Marcion writing about 140 AD and Justin Martyr only quotes from it tentatively in 163-167 AD as if he knew his readers would not regard it as authoritative. which were worked up by authorities in one of the regional churches. certainly mistakenly. the others being Peter and James. The author of John was writing a work to complement the synoptics. they might argue. parts of the passion and the prologue. The author seemed to feel another full account could serve no purpose but that there was scope for refinements—doctrinal clarifications and additional material to answer criticisms. One observer. the evolution of Jesus from man to messiah to divinity to equality with the Almighty places John late in the timescale—advanced elements would not be lost once established so it could not have preceded the synoptics. and depicts Jesus as giving lengthy disquisitions rather than the homely sayings and parables of the other gospels. the farewell discourses. much that is not in the other gospels and is overlaid with later theology. but when the common material extends to the same word order. The high prestige of John for Christians partly comes from Paul’s description of John in Galatians 2:9 as one of the pillar apostles. washing the feet of the disciples. As it adds.165    Christians might believe that in the gospels they have independent accounts of the ministry of Jesus. but it is unlikely that John the apostle wrote it. These long connected discourses suggest the source was a programme of sermons. and yet never heard of such an astonishing event as the raising of Lazarus. so long after the events it records that the apostle John must certainly have been dead. Not until the third century did it become generally accepted. The first three gospels. John propagates a well developed theological outlook. if any. John could have been written as early as 100 AD or some say. as late as 160 AD. Nicodemus. it can only be used as a secondary source. The four gospel writers are not independent witnesses. the signs are that it was written late. The material peculiar to John is the miracle at Cana. possibly derived from originals by the evangelist.

Yet.166    reason for Jesus being crucified. The cleansing of the temple and the anointing are in a different setting and order from the other gospels and there is little verbal agreement with them. Concepts like light and truth. It was always controversial. which. Some scholars take all John’s references to time to be symbolic. Jesus’s messiahdom is recognized very early (Jn 1:14). Unlike the synoptics. There are parallels with the Hermetica of Hermes Trimegistus in Egypt in the second and third . either by him for doctrinal reasons or by editors. we now realize the gospel of John also has Essene features and vocabulary. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is the immediate cause of Jesus’s arrest not the cleansing of the temple. are found in the scrolls as is the contrast of light against darkness. John is the most hostile of the three to the Jews. being largely Essene. who love it! Historically it is valuable. or perhaps by accident—some pages look as though they have been interchanged for no clear reason. or leave it to fundamentalists. It is difficult for the modern mind to understand how such mumbo-jumbo continues to be included in the Christian canon but. Marcion rejected it. since no one now has the authority to change God’s bible. But John is very free with the rendering of his Old Testament quotations and it is possible that he was equally free with his rendering of the bits of the synoptic gospels he chose to use. it is a Passover meal but in John it is one day before. But even this puzzle. it is easier to ignore it. taking measures to evade the crowd. The date of the last supper in the synoptics and John differ. so it could hardly have been forgotten by those interviewed by Matthew and Luke. Since the discovery of the Qumran scrolls—dubbed the Dead Sea Scrolls from the proximity of the site to the Dead Sea—about fifty years ago in the Judaean wilderness. but some scholars think John 2. when the multitude want to make Jesus king. he refuses to accept. previously thought to be Hellenistic. Possibly an editor attempted to answer the criticism that Jesus’s behaviour in the temple was an act of banditry and redolent of rebellion by deliberately moving it earlier in the story. Or perhaps the synoptics used the reckoning of Jews in the diaspora in which the Passover was fixed not varying according to the phase of the moon. is in the style of the Essenes. but it has more in common with Jewish mysticism than with Rabbinism. In the synoptics. Jerome as late as 420 AD rejected it.13b-25 has been misplaced and should really be after the raising of Lazarus thus restoring the cleansing of the temple to its proper place. looks less like calendrical confusion than that John thought it suited God’s purpose to depict Jesus as the paschal lamb—simply altering the chronology to have him crucified on the day when the lambs were being sacrificed in readiness for the Passover. but Justin Martyr accepted it and gradually it became accepted universally. In several places in John. The author of John also allegedly wrote the Revelation of St John the Divine between 69 and 93 AD. being an apocalypse. Besides these. which John creates. This difference might be due to the Nazarenes’ use of a different calendar. the solar calendar of the Essenes prescribed in Jubilees not the lunar one of Jerusalem. John’s chronology has been mixed up. The title Son of man is less used than in the synoptics—Son of God is favoured. which occurs near the start of the gospel. in John 6:15. transpositions would improve the flow of the text.

167    centuries AD and some common imagery in the work of Philo of Alexandria such as the metaphors for God of light. Of men. and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. being the last and the most highly developed in its thinking. If we shall say. and the scribes. I also will ask you one  question. The Synoptic Problem  Matthew. or from men? answer me. I will ask of you one question. • • These three gospels have much common material. Only four passages of Mark. Mark and Luke are earlier than John but are not at all independent. Neither tell I you by what authority I do these  things. The baptism of John. We know not. From heaven. Why then did ye not believe him? But if we should say. Of men. the chief Priests and the elders of the people came  unto him as he was teaching.  they feared the people: for all verily held John to be a prophet. he will say unto us. was it  from heaven. If we shall  say. John might contain therefore some elements of genuine Nazarene tradition. the synoptic problem. we fear the multitude. the grammar and phraseology and even  unusual vocabulary are often the same. Compare for example the following three passages from  the synoptic gospels. John remains historically the least reliable of the gospels. The problem is to explain the following facts. Indeed. Matthew covers 90% of Mark! These two  have 250 verses in common. which if ye tell me. for all hold John as a prophet. and  the elders. saying. and  answer me. he will say. And they answered  . Why did ye not then believe him? But if  we shall say. many containing the same words and phrases. I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. Luke contains almost 50% of Mark but misses out  the whole chunk of Mark 6:45 to 8:26. By what authority doest thou these things? or who gave thee  this authority to do these things? And Jesus said unto them. And Jesus saith unto them. are not  covered in either Matthew or Luke. And they answered Jesus and  say.   …and as he was walking in the temple. about 30 verses. and said.   Mark 11:27‐33  And when he was come into the temple. John still has to be treated with the most caution. From heaven. in some respects they are so similar they create a problem of their own.   In about half of the material common to all three. By what authority doest thou these things? and who  gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them. or of men? And they reasoned with themselves.  saying. treated from a different perspective from the other three gospels—but. there come to him the chief priests. fountain and shepherd. Only seven short  passages of Mark fail to appear in Matthew. And they reasoned with themselves. called by scholars. and they said unto him. whence was it? from heaven. and especially where it reports remarkable incidents that no one else ever heard of. Philo also uses the concept of the Logos. The  baptism of John.

 And Jesus said unto them. there came upon him  the Chief Priests and the scribes with the elders. passages are  constructed too similarly to be independent. where they used it. Since only seven short passages of Mark do not appear in Matthew. From  heaven. G E Lessing attempted to solve the synoptic problem by proposing that the gospels were different translations of an original Aramaic gospel—the story of Jesus told by his companions and early Jewish followers. and tell me: The baptism of John. we can deduce that Mark was the original gospel and the other gospel writers had sight of it before they completed their own versions. We know not.   Mark’s order is followed in both Matthew and Luke. that they knew  not whence it was. accounts of apparently the same event with slight  differences. and they spake. And he also said unto them. he will say.  There is also a body of material in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark.   As long ago as 1778.  was it from heaven. saying unto him. The reasons are as follows. Neither tell I you by what authority I  do these things. Not only are they from the same source they are copied  almost unaltered. • • We have seen that. and said. they copied it virtually word for word. and. mostly the teachings of  Jesus with little narrative and no passion.   Luke 20:1‐8  • • • • These passages are effectively identical. or of men? And they reasoned with themselves. there are parts where the same events in Matthew and Luke are given very  different settings and quite different vocabulary is used. The differences in Matthew are because  Matthew has consciously grouped his material into five themes yet this order is not reflected in  Luke or Mark. Tell us: By  what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? And he  answered and said unto them.168    Jesus. If we shall say. as in the healing of the centurion’s  servant (Mt 8:5ff. Why did ye not believe him? But if we shall say. Again the similarity often extends to wording but  Matthew and Luke rarely agree when Mark differs. And they answered.   On the other hand. in the sections common to all three synoptic gospels.   Matthew and Mark often agree when Luke differs and Luke and Mark sometimes agree when  Matthew differs but in each case the order of the common material is nearly always the same. Neither tell I you by what authority I do these  things. Lk 7:1ff). and preaching the gospel. Each of these two gospels also have aspects peculiar to themselves: Luke’s travel  narrative is largely his own (Lk 9:51‐18:14) whereas Matthew groups his material into five  themes.   Matthew and Luke often include doublets. all the people will  stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. Of men. But the best explanation is that two of the gospel writers used the work of the other. saying.   Matthew 21:23‐27  …as he was teaching the people in the temple. evidently  . I will also ask you one question. Since Matthew and Luke between them contain almost the whole of Mark.

   Though Mark is more verbose he is often less precise. In the stilling of the storm. but was it a single one? Many scholars postulate two written sources for “Matthew” and “Luke”—“Mark” and a source labelled by scholars “Q”. They also usually improve Mark’s  style by omitting unusual words and unwieldy grammatical constructions. usually retaining the same order. Matthew was considered the most important of the gospels for almost the whole history of the church. It was placed first in the canon because of the regard in which it was held. he was only a tetrarch (Mt 14:1. Humanity fades in later  editions as the man receded and the god advanced. Matthew  says not many (Mt 13:58) and Luke omits it. Mark  has been corrected in Matthew and Luke so must have come first.   Mark is more honest in his accounts. The Gospel of Matthew    Though sophisticated Christians today prefer John. the doublets mentioned above can be explained as accounts from both “Q” and “Mark” that differed sufficiently for Matthew or Luke to want to include both. “Mt” 8:26. These are signs that  Mark has been edited in Matthew and Luke. only two verses are  required and in Luke only three (Mt 12:15‐16 and Lk 6:17‐19). as Matthew and Luke correctly state. “Do you still have no faith?”. and  Matthew’s.   As the gospels became aimed at an increasingly gentile audience editors would be expected to  eliminate Aramaic words. showing Jesus with a full range of human emotions and  even some foibles. “Lk” 8:25). . Also Mark was not writing for Jews because he explains Jewish customs like  handwashing (Mk 7:3‐4) and defines the Aramaic words and phrases he uses—unless it is  expedient not to. In Matthew. Mark has more Aramaic words in the sayings of Jesus than Matthew  and Luke.   Matthew and Luke are more concise than Mark. Mark is definite in his  wording. “You of little faith” (“Mk” 4:40. We saw  that Luke covers almost half of Mark.  • • • • Modern biblical analysts do not doubt that the similarities between the synoptic gospels must imply common sources. Thus.169    Matthew had Mark to work from and incorporated nearly all of it into his own account. Lk 9:7). as when he calls Herod a king in Mk 6:14  although. Mark says Jesus could do no mighty work in Nazareth (Mk 6:5). “Where is your faith?”. Mark has six verses to describe how Jesus  healed in crowds by driving out the unclean spirits (Mk 3:7‐12). Such late assignments cast doubt on their validity. compared with Luke’s. Luke and Matthew were not named as the authors of their gospels until Irenaeus did so in 180 AD.

It has many similarities with the Damascus Rule of the scrolls. a parable discourse. in that sense it seems to anticipate a Jewish readership. Matthew is more carefully constructed than the other gospels. Attempts were made to stem the ebbing of the tide in vain. it propagates the Hellenized view of the Christ—that conditioned by Greek culture—rather than the Jewish view of the messiah. a missionary discourse. Matthew is keen to show Jesus—who is a parallel figure to Moses—as the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. and an eschatological discourse. Some see this strong Jewish flavour as proof of its authenticity. His approach is akin to the pesher method of commentating on scripture favoured by the Qumran community whereby current events are interpreted as prophesied by the scriptures. both of which could point to the source of Matthew being a city like Alexandria or Antioch where Jewish communities had long been Hellenized. Jewish Christians were reverting to orthodox Judaism as time went by with no sign of the kingdom appearing. Others dislike it as signs of the work of Judaizers. Though not being quite so obviously a manual of rules. it gives some history of the foundation of the movement and some exhortations or discourses—in Matthew they end with the formula. dispersed to various centres where their brothers the Essenes had strong communities. Even in these largely Jewish cities. the gentile theology of Paul began to dominate. thus serving as a vade mecum for members. a church discourse. The author seems not to be defying or negating the Jewish religion but rather is showing here is a thoroughly Jewish faith of a firmly established church. a mythical breed of early Jewish Christians who tried to deny the innovations introduce by the Son and revert to good old Mosaic Jewishness. the Greek version of the scriptures. Its strong emphasis on the leadership of Peter in the years immediately after the crucifixion (in Matthew. His purpose is exactly that of the sectarians of Qumran—he is stating categorically that only the elect. like the Damascus Rule. Nazarenes. It does not use as many Aramaisms as does Mark and most of his quotations are from the Septuagint. will enter the kingdom of God. He does just what the sectarians of Qumran did—change the quotation subtly to suit his purpose. Jewish customs and words are not explained as they are in Mark and. and so it is not unreasonable to believe that Matthew did have its origin in one of these cities. Matthew has five scriptural references in the birth narrative to show that prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. Matthew’s use of these quotations is rarely precise. and Jesus had to become divine—but in Matthew it was Jews who recognized it—the disciples not the Roman. The original draft of Matthew might have been written in Alexandria where many of the survivors of the fall of Jerusalem settled because of its proximity and its large Jewish population—a third of its population of three million—or Antioch where an early church was established possibly based on an existing Essene community. There are thematic indications that Matthew is Essenic in nature. “…and it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings”. there are rules in it—most notably in the sermon on the mount. Matthew is a polemic with the rabbis of the synagogues—a polemic which continues the polemic of the Essenes with the Pharisees.170    Matthew is the most Jewish of the gospels and probably reflects most strongly the ambience of the Jerusalem Church. And. formerly the Essenes but now the Christians. as the Damascus Rule did. Despite Judaizers and its Jewish tone. each being devoted to a topic—the sermon on the mount. Peter is granted . escaping the troubles in Palestine after the crucifixion.

An aim of Matthew seems to have been to answer criticisms and to do so he concocts unlikely explanations. 18:17). This collection they called the Logia. as it obviously does. A church Father. It seems odd that Matthew. The infancy narrative seems to answer charges of Jesus’s illegitimacy. the Logia is combined with Mark’s account to create a richer synthesis than Mark alone. Judas bargaining for silver and Pilate washing his hands serve respectively to boost Peter. Similarly. He says the Logia was a collection of Jesus’s sayings compiled by Matthew for the use of Christian teachers—it was indeed a manual. Scholars have long recognized that Matthew had at hand a collection of citations written in Aramaic because he punctuates his narrative at various points with the formula. but Jesus’s family return to Nazareth. Peter having dictated it to Mark. for example in one of the Qumran testimonia documents in which three sections consist of quotations of messianic prophecies and the fourth is from the apocryphal Psalms of Jonah. The reluctance of John the Baptist to baptize Jesus and the guards at the tomb serve to explain respectively that John the Baptist recognized Jesus as superior and that the disciples could not have stolen the body. There is no historical evidence for any such gate. “…this happened in order to fulfil what was said by the prophet”. often translated “congregation”. The explanation can only be that Mark carried great authority. Some wiseacres in the empire might have remembered that the Nazarenes were a group of Jewish revolutionaries so an innocent explanation of the title was needed. if Matthew belonged to a group which. it is easy to see how many of the texts would spring naturally to his mind when he was writing the narrative. damn the Jews as money-grabbing traitors and absolve Romans of any responsibility for torturing a god. The flight to Egypt and subsequent return parallels Moses and the children of Israel’s sojourn there in the scriptures. Additions continued to be made for another 100 years. instead of Bethlehem. Latinisms and other foibles because he was passing on the words of the man who had been Jesus’s minder. should lean so heavily upon Mark. embarrassed by Jesus so plainly stating that to be rich is to be a sinner.171    special authority) suggests it arose in a Jewish milieu where Peter was revered. But since it was not completed until around 100 AD. though it might be based on the word used by the Essenes. providing an explanation for Jesus’s title—the Nazarene. Such collections existed in the Jewish world. and that authority traditionally is that Mark is really the Gospel of Peter. have invented a narrow gate in the walls of Jerusalem called the Needle’s Eye. Jesus’s metaphor is paralleled several times in the Jewish Talmud which also has large animals attempting to do incredible things serving as visual images of the impossible. In like fashion. According to the biblical scholar. like the men of Qumran were devoted to such exegesis. Antioch being the place of choice. Matthew could forgive Mark his clumsy style. narratives of Peter walking on water. Donald Guthrie. certainly a late interpolation. Matthew is the only gospel to mention a church (Mt 16:18. Their use suggests the author was a member of a sect like the Essenes. The version used by the gospel writers was probably a good Greek translation of the original . In Matthew. modern apologists. a gentile composition. Papias allegedly affirmed that Matthew collected oracles or sayings—the Logia—which were translated by others as best they could. Matthew also shows late influences in the concluding passages (Mt 28:18-20). a Jewish composition. the apostle Matthew cannot have had any part in the final editing.

prayers. The Acts of the Apostles was probably written by Luke in part as early as 64 AD. Luke was well versed in the Septuagint. probably arranged in five parts to reflect the five books of the Pentateuch. He also wrote Acts. Acts ends tantalizingly with Paul awaiting trial in Rome in around 64 AD suggesting to some theologians that the work was written about then. though not classical (writers of literary Greek always copied the classical style) and who. some sayings and testimonia. and the narrative in Acts might have been left deliberately unfinished. deriving from a collection of Essene liturgy. Luke is thought to have been a doctor. and perhaps some anti-Pharisaic material. Paul. Luke would have written down first what he was familiar with—the history of his companion. There is much in Matthew to value though it is not a Greek translation of the Aramaic Gospel of the Nazarenes. and Acts is usually dated at about 100 AD. Christians had long abandoned the idea of an early parousia. Josephus. If Matthew belonged to a community of Nazarenes then even his collection of oracles will be of interest in understanding them although they might not help us greatly in settling the narrative sequence. So. Acts—or parts of it— was probably drafted first. so parts of Acts might be quite early but the gospel much later. Much of it seems to have been in practical form. the companion of Paul on his travels. Now we can see that the Logia preceded Jesus. maxims and orders. . The Gospel of Luke  The gospel of Luke also is not independent. by his own account. Luke arguably had knowledge of Antiquities of the Jews written in 93 AD by the Jewish historian. The source called Q is essentially the Logia but Luke evidently left out much of it as being too Jewish—emphasis on the fulfilment of the law. Matthew’s apocalypse is much longer than Mark’s and eschatology also shows in the parables of the tares and the talents suggesting a pronounced Essene influence. remarks about the lost sheep of the house of Israel. and apparently an early catechism or manual of discipleship. By the time he put it all together. did some research before writing. Its rural character arose because the Essenes were farmers and herdsmen. Luke himself or editors then tampered with it considerably. Luke evidently was an educated man whose Greek was good. but some consider it could have been much earlier. because its allusions are often rural. But Paul’s fate might not have been what the early church wanted to record. Scholars consider it was assembled 25-30 years before the gospels and some clergymen believe it might actually have been collected in Jesus’s lifetime. as was Mark—Paul only met Jesus in his imagination. Though the events of Acts follow those of Luke. both his books being written for gentiles. The prologue to Luke’s gospel says he used the works of a number of writers who had recorded the memories of the original disciples of Jesus. the two did not communicate a great deal because Luke does not seem to use Paul’s epistles or understand Jesus in quite the Pauline way. If Luke was the companion of Paul. believers consider they give an insight into Jesus’s character.172    Aramaic. he was neither an eyewitness of the events he describes nor the secretary of one. testimonia. inspiring Matthew’s fivefold arrangement. and.

L. If it were a collection of sayings. He shows every indication of being either an Essene proselyte of Stephen’s Hellenistic wing of the Nazarenes. the problem is enormously complicated by later editing when copyists tried to harmonize the gospels or improve them for the sake of doctrine. Providing that care is taken to resist Luke’s universalistic desire. and omits quite a lot. Naturally. Luke refers to Jesus as “the Lord” on 14 occasions—Mark and Matthew never do (except in the fictional dialogue of demons or angels) indicating that in Luke the split from Nazarene teaching was essentially complete. or a godfearer who had stood for a long time at the edge of the Essene movement. Comparison of the three synoptic gospels allows the missing source Q to be crudely reconstructed. These additional sources are called M and L. evidence about the Nazarene mission can be gleaned from his gospel. Other curiosities of Luke are that the travel narrative gives little indication of an itinerary and that it gives unusual prominence to the role of women. So there are dangers in accepting Luke as a primary source but indications that he was familiar with precrucifixion Essenism. isolated sayings and narrative material. but he is one who seems quite well versed in Essene ways of thinking. which might be explained if there were yet more sources besides Mark and Q. The two accounts of the centurion’s servant differ considerably. It must be remembered that some of the Logia might not have been used in either Matthew or Luke and is lost altogether. He is evidently a gentile writing for gentiles. Other parts of Luke are similar to accounts in other gospels but are also different enough to suggest another source (Lk 24:1-12). and thus helps to universalize the narrow sectarianism of the Essenes. but—like Stephen—he extends repentance beyond the Jews to everyone. The narrative material independent of Mark could have been common to M and L leaving Q a collection of pure sayings. which we have seen pre-date the gospels. The few sayings of Jesus in Paul’s epistles. However. longing to join but not having the courage to be circumcised and grateful for Stephen’s revisions of the law allowing gentiles to be admitted into a form of Judaism. He renders some of the passages in Mark much more freely. it ought to contain no narrative yet it seems to include the healing of the centurion’s servant which Guthrie considers mystifying. that is plain. Luke was often much freer with his material than one would expect of an editor—he was more a re-writer. The additional source for Luke. comprises parables. There is evidence for Q also in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas. as indeed he seems to with all his material. Parts of Luke seem to be taken from both Mark and Matthew. repentance being a central theme of Luke. but is much less deferential towards it than Matthew. stem from Q—roughly the version of Matthew—suggesting it was the earliest Christian text.173    Luke has much to say about the conversion of gentiles and gentiles are often painted in a good light. and some might have been used by one gospel writer but not the other so that M and L both are partly Logia—like the strongly Jewish material of Matthew omitted by Luke. He shows his Nazarene influence in his desire that people should repent. most scholars believe that the material common to Matthew and Luke but absent in Mark came from the source Q which Luke as well as Matthew had before him as he wrote. Luke uses Mark. Some scholars think that Luke used Mark and Matthew but regarded Matthew as only a secondary source much of which he rewrote. and indeed by the possibility of .

174    there having been earlier editions. who were Christians.   Different words are used in the Greek for those rigidly adhering to the law—“grammateus” in  the parts from Mark but “nomikos” in the other parts.   The proto‐Luke text lacked Galilaean material. The Jerusalem Church must have had a gospel and written it down in Aramaic as the Gospel of the Nazarenes.   In the main narrative of the ministry. convinces us that Luke combined Q and L to give a proto-Luke which he later combined with Mark when he came across that gospel. An editor at some stage split off Acts as a different book and subsequently it was blown hither and thither by the zephyrs and whirlwinds of early church politics. labelled Q. Later he came across it and added into proto-Luke what he thought was useful.   The same seems to apply to Luke 21 (the eschatological discourse) where verses 20‐34 at least  are non‐Marcan but with insertions from Mark. It seems then that there were two primary gospel sources. the first biographer of Muhammed. We know from Jerome this was still used by the Nazarene sect of Arabia in the fourth century. but in circulation before the ultimately accepted versions. who probably had this among the . Vincent Taylor. which was known as the Logia. which must have been the Gospel of the Nazarenes evidently still existing in Arabia at the time of Muhammed in the seventh century and revered by local Christians. miracles and kingdom parables. It was written in Aramaic. followed the same gospel as the Christians of Arabia but were circumcised. it probably contained little narrative. The second source was an unknown book of gospel sayings.   The dating in Luke 3:1 was the start of proto-Luke. When the material from Mark is extracted a reasonably continuous story  remains. He reasons thus. The birth narrative was added later. tells us in the eighth century that the Abyssinians. The source of the gospel narrative was Mark. there are blocks of material from Mark alternating with  other material. if this is true. but the authors of Matthew and Luke had additional material. now lost. Paul.   Luke’s passion narrative contains only 20% of Mark also suggesting Luke had another source. the collection of sayings and testimonia of the type found at Qumran. a professor of New Testament language and literature. in the singular. Some critics believe that a Nazarene Gospel existed even before Jesus and that his followers applied it to him after Jesus’s crucifixion—a distinct possibility if the Nazarenes were inspired by Essenes. The Quran speaks of the Gospel. • • • • • • • Luke omits half of Mark suggesting he had other material he preferred.   Q material is often combined with L material but never with material from Mark which appears  in distinct blocks suggesting it was added afterwards. Luke changes Mark’s order  unusually often (12 instances between 22:14 and 24:11). Ibn Ishaq. Essentially it would have been Q. Ancient scholars identified the Nazarene Gospel with a version of Matthew and.  When Mark’s material is subtracted a continuous narrative remains. Possibly Luke originally wrote proto-Luke-Acts together as one book with no knowledge of Mark’s gospel. These were  inserted from Mark. revered what was claimed to be the Ark of the Covenant and kept the laws of the Torah including the food taboos.

They rashly accepted all of the gospels as equally true. whence came the  word “propaganda”. and the enemy is wicked. John. 3. What is left is Mark’s gospel. Mark and Luke are not independent. 4. would have been content with it since he ignored any stories about Jesus’s life as irrelevant to the spiritual person wearing the body. Truth is the first casualty of war. 2. seems to be a collection of wise sayings with little or no narrative so can add relatively little to the story I seek to uncover which is largely narrative. 7. though earlier. to restore this Nazarene Gospel rather fancifully. Matthew and Luke are mostly based on Mark and Q. but Q. 6. think about this…  Pope Gregory XV in 1622 set up the Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith. 5. It did not last long but it produced a standard list of propaganda methods still used. seems to stem from a different tradition from the other three especially in its account of the last week in Jerusalem but is too late to be of primary interest. I do not accept the gospels as equally valid.175    books he carried with him. Propaganda is particularly important in war. Bandwagon—Pump up the party and the message   Card‐stacking—Biased the case for your position   Glittering generalities—Evoke emotions with power words   Name‐calling—Denigrate opponents   Plain folks—Sell the leader as an ordinary man to increase trust   Testimonial—Get independent celebrities to give their backing   Transfer—Link the leader with trusted people of past and present  Few people realise they are being manipulated by propaganda all the time. In the post-War years. The fourth gospel. and. each relating genuine Nazarene tradition. Matthew.   1. Before you go. Robert Graves and Joshua Podro tried.  . together with bits of other books whether canonical like Acts or non-canonical like the Recognitions of Clementine. by combining classical and Jewish scholarship. Boston  merchant Edward Filene set up the Institute for Propaganda Analysis to show Americans propaganda  methods. In 1936. when governments want voters to  believe they are right. tried to restore the original as a rearranged and reinterpreted combination of them all! My objective also is to try to retrieve the true events of the gospel but I shall be less rash.

The Gospels 3 Vitually none of the modern translations [of the New Testament] can be trusted to bear the weight that  is put on them. possibly not an inhabitant of Palestine and possibly not a Jew. if Mark’s is the first gospel to be recorded. as church tradition has it. the story of the Nazarenes as perceived by Peter. then Mark should contain the essence of the Aramaic oral  tradition. if it is considered accurate enough by  two more gospel writers to be reproduced by them in large measure and.176    Investigating Biblical History Not all genetic mutations are equally likely. December 01.   . Nevertheless. Mark was not a  companion of Jesus.   John Bowden. is confused in its geography and sociology and has a false  ending. His gospel includes  garbled bits of Essene and later material. if Mark really wrote down  what Peter said. SCM   © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Tuesday.   Who Lies Sleeping?  15. it has ‘priority’ over Luke and Matthew  because they used Mark in composing their own gospels twenty or so years later. supposedly Jesus’s right hand man. 1998 • • • The Gospel of Mark   Analysing Mark’s Gospel   Abstract of the Thesis   Abstract  The Gospel of Mark is considered the first written gospel.

Perhaps Mark translated lessons given in Aramaic by Peter for the Greek speakers in the audience.177    The Gospel of Mark    The missionaries to the gentiles spread stories about Jesus by preaching the “kerygma”. . though Matthew is the most Palestinian. writing around the beginning of the third century but quoting Papias who wrote about 130 AD. It suggests Mark is not familiar with Greek. Mark’s gospel is simple. it has “priority” over Luke and Matthew because they used Mark in composing their own gospels twenty or so years later. so the early Church preferred them and neglected Mark. The gospel of Mark is considered the first written gospel. clumsy and breathless—everything happening “immediately—the author joins “pericopes” with the Greek word “euthus” meaning “immediately”. the main characteristic of a gospel. He had not known Jesus. according to Eusebius. No one has yet thought of a reason why such a crude and clumsy work could have been adopted by the church while elegant writers like Matthew and Luke had already published their own versions. between 65-71 AD. Mark is. They were more complete works and written in better Greek. to be attributed to Mark. the interpreter and companion of Peter in his later travels. simply meaning to say “then”. or “straightaway”. That is how the sayings and deeds of Jesus got to Rome where someone wrote a gospel. Mark’s gospel was anonymous until a second-century tradition linked a “Mark” mentioned in the epistle 1 Peter 5:13 with the gospel. Mark was therefore not first hand. At any rate Papias says he recorded in no particular order the old man’s memories of the acts and sayings of Jesus. but from Peter’s sermons and anecdotes he was able to write his gospel shortly after Peter’s death in about 64 AD. Mark is theologically the most primitive of the gospels. “that which is proclaimed”. Mark’s gospel must have been retained because it was the first one.

It seems to have assumed a shape close to the present one by about 90 AD. It gives a description of the work and movements of the Nazarene band but its true meaning has been thinly disguised to anyone who cared to believe other than the Christian gloss. Matthew. When Paul’s influence waxed the gospel would have been edited to suit his outlook. Inasmuch as Peter must have followed the Nazarene tradition in his sermons and the other material. and then to the events leading to the crucifixion. and has given Christian translators a marvellous time in making up translations of abstruse words—perhaps vulgarities or profanities or just bad grammar and misunderstandings—as words that suit them. uses Mark lending some credence to the view that Mark must have been based on the testimony of an authoritative Jewish figure—Peter—and possibly Peter emulated Jesus in his modesty. sitting in Jesus’s tomb that Jesus is risen and gone ahead of them to Galilee. Mark writes in this colloquial Greek not the more refined classical Greek of an educated man. though it seems to be the  same as Magdala of Matthew 15:39 properly rendered Magadan   in Mark 5:1 the country of the Gerasenes extends to the Sea of Galilee but Gerasene is really  some forty miles from the lake. How many Christians realize that all these essential notions of their religion are absent from the earliest version of Jesus’s life? New Testament Greek is called “koine”. being very early. the garment of the fully initiated Essene. it too should be included with that thought to have been Peter’s. Significantly. Whereupon the disciples fled in fear and said nothing to anyone. behind the mountains in what is now Jordan and then was the  country of the ten Greek cities called Decapolis   he describes the town of Bethsaida in Mark 8:26 as a village   . considering the ending inappropriate. He includes Latinisms suggesting the influence of Rome—Marcus was a very common Roman name at that time. which might be considered as meaning “common” or “colloquial”. In the version which we now have there is a broad chronology leading from Galilee to Jerusalem. the last twelve verses are not original—these last verses cannot be the recollections of Peter. since Mark’s is considered the earliest gospel. feeling little need to play up his own role. Some of the adjacent material seems so closely related to it that. but individual episodes cannot be assumed to be in the correct order. It was not classical or even refined Greek. Difficulties with the testimony of Papias are that Peter has no special significance in Mark’s book and Mark’s theology is Hellenized like Paul’s.178    The passages in Mark related in the third person plural might have been Peter’s own words. the singularly Jewish gospel. The rest of the material in Mark seems to be in well arranged blocks or pericopes suggesting already collected pre-Marcan material. Mark had been written down “in no particular order” but later was tampered with by editorial additions and rearrangements. Mark should be closest to the true story of the Nazarenes. added the last eight verses in which Jesus appeared all over the place and then rose into heaven to be received at the right hand of God. He seemed unfamiliar with the country of Palestine or common Jewish customs. No appearances! No ascension! A later editor. can hardly have lost much of its original content. Peter’s story ends with the message of a young man in a white robe. scholars giving the following examples: • • • Dalmanutha referred to in Mark 8:10 does not exist by that name. sensibly.

 and  excusing the character of the early Christians.179    • • • • he invents Jewish proceedings   he confuses references to the Herodian family in Mark 6:17   he thought the appearance of Jesus before the High Priest was a trial not the committal hearing  that it was   he thought a wife could divorce a husband contrary to Jewish law in Mark 10:12.  treacherous. The missionaries were trying to get converts among the gentiles of the Roman Empire so the Romans in the story had to be blameless. and there has been given to thee understanding to know  the mysteries of God. vain. The  darkness in thee has passed away from thee. for  assuredly thy name shall be changed to Mark. baptism. weak. Confirmation that Mark was a pagan convert comes in the Acts of Barnabas supposedly written by John Mark himself. Jupiter is the Roman name of Zeus. He could have been a gentile. being formerly a servant of Cyrillus the high  priest of Jupiter. possibly a Roman Christian convert with no direct experience of Palestine. was so thoroughly Hellenized he retained few traces of his Jewish roots.  Note the symbols of Essenism. He writes: I John. it seems Mark either was not a Jew or. white garments and hidden mysteries of God. judging from his name and his Latinisms. if he was. There are several signs of this. cowardly—all part of the process of dissociating the Son of God from the Jews. Simon. but now having received the gift of the Holy Spirit through Paul and Barnabas and Silos.  who were worthy of the calling. Luke has no need to be as cautious. a Cananaean to avoid the word “Zealot”   He relates the story of the tribute money apparently to acknowledge Caesar’s authority not  reject it   He puts the responsibility of the death of Jesus on the Jews and relieves Pilate of it by inventing  the custom of releasing a prisoner.   Though some of these anomalies might be explained. and who baptized me in Iconium. John. and he said to me: Be of good courage. in his gospel.   Writing a couple of decades later when Jewish nationalism had ceased to be an issue. and writing in Rome for a gentile readership. Roman distaste for the Jews had faded and Josephus had published his . a custom which is otherwise unknown and most unlikely   The divinity of Jesus is first recognized in Mark by a Roman   He inserts the passage attributed to Jesus that a prophet is not without honour except in his  own country and among his own kin to indicate that Jesus acknowledged his rejection by his  family and countrymen. • • • • • • • Paul and the authors of Matthew and Luke accept the descent of Jesus from David but Mark  ignores it dissociating Jesus from any claims to the throne of Israel   He calls the disciple. argumentative. I saw a  certain man standing clothed in white raiment. and. then. accompanying the holy apostles Barnabas and Paul. After I was baptized. But it rests uneasily with his brother James and thereafter his nephew  succeeding him as the head of the Nazarenes   He runs down the apostles appointed by Jesus—they are stupid. and thy glory shall be proclaimed in all the world. Mark tries to flatter the Romans and denigrate the Jews it being composed when Jewish nationalism was a nuisance in the empire and Christians had to be distanced from the Jews.

Codex Vaticanus (mid-fourth century). It is most likely a secondcentury compendium of appearance stories based primarily on Luke 24. the “Frear Logion”   Eusebius and Jerome in the fourth century did not know of the added twelve verses   the style and vocabulary cannot possibly be first century. many have just two sentences added to the end of Mark  16:8. . verse 8. In Secrets of Mount Sinai. James Bentley made this observation: The scribe who brought Mark’s Gospel to an end in Codex Sinaiticus had no doubt that it finished at  chapter 16. and wrote. and was absent from manuscripts in patristic times.   The fourth-century AD Codex Sinaiticus is the only ancient Greek manuscript that contains the entire New Testament. and Codex Bobiensis (fourth or fifth-century Latin) are all early manuscripts that exclude the Marcan Appendix. Immediately following begins the Gospel of Luke. He underlined the text with a fine artistic squiggle. Manuscripts written after Sinaiticus and Vaticanus have been found that contained the Marcan Appendix but with scribal notes in the margins that said the verses were not in older copies. differs in vocabulary and style from the rest of the gospel. the post-resurrection accounts. Mark’s gospel has a false ending—the so-called Markan Appendix—the final verses of Mark (Mk 16:9-16:20). some have another addition to  Mark 16:14. About 100 early Armenian translations and the two oldest Georgian translations also omitted the appendix. with some influence from John 20. having been added a long time after the original composition: • • • many manuscripts end at Mark 16:8. Others have dots or asterisks by the verses to mark them as different. Jews were no longer a threat and poor and illiterate Christian converts would not have understood references to them.   James H Charlesworth has pointed out that Codex Syriacus (a fifth-century translation). Mark includes as part of chapter 13 what was originally an Essene explanation of the signs of the coming kingdom now garbled with a Christian prophecy of God’s punishment of the Jews inserted after the fall of Jerusalem. The non-Marcan language and the weak manuscript evidence indicate that this passage did not close the gospel.180    Jewish War as a warning to potential hotheads in Palestine. The shorter ending consists of the women’s reports to Peter and Jesus’s commissioning of the disciples to preach the gospel. traditionally designated Mark 16:9-20. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary notes that the longer ending. The addition at Mark 16:14 of the longer ending is a late gloss aimed at softening the condemnation of the disciples in this verse. some have both the two sentences and the twelve verses. It does not however have the Markan Appendix. All the endings attached to Mark in the manuscript tradition were added because scribes considered Mark 16:1-8 inadequate as an ending. are false. “The Gospel  according to Mark”. None of the variant endings were the work of the original writer. is absent from the best and earliest manuscripts now available.

Dr H Kee sees Mark as written to strengthen the church as it faced its impending problems— interest was waning. if Mark’s is the first gospel to be recorded. is confused in its geography and sociology and has a false ending. if it is considered accurate enough by two more gospel writers to be reproduced by them in large measure and. It is this gospel that should be the central reference for anyone reconstructing the true events at the foundation of Christianity. They were shown as failing to comprehend even the simplest things Jesus had said. but. That is not true. Origen. the resurrection has no basis. we follow the gospel of Mark. Mark was not a companion of Jesus. the story of the Nazarenes as perceived by Peter. The earliest gospel is unable to testify to the appearances. and that they would suffer before the coming of the kingdom. Mark’s should be accepted as the most authoritative rather than the least of the gospels. None of the early Church fathers. Matthew and Luke and less so John can be used to flesh out the shorter but more original account of Mark. Eusebius and Jerome. Mark wanted to prepare the faithful by papering over the cracks and showing that even the disciples had not understood Jesus’s real intentions. and suffering for those converts who remained faithful. They were added because there were no appearances in the earliest tradition. because apocalyptic hopes had not been fulfilled. An examination of Mark shows that there is a broad sequence of events which could hardly be altered. The bishops feared a crisis of apostasy among converts. if Mark really wrote down what Peter said. It ends perfectly well in the middle of Mark 16:8 before anyone knew of appearances. and less assured when the references are traceable to the gentile church. Nothing that occurs only in John can be trusted unless it can somehow be traced to Mark or to the Essene tradition. possibly not an inhabitant of Palestine and possibly not a Jew. as church tradition has it.181    Some say they replace an original ending which was lost. supposedly Jesus’s right hand man. The other two synoptics are obviously later but have much of the original tradition and can be used to supplement deductions from Mark. mention anything after Mark 16:8 when they could have strengthened an argument by so doing. So it was understandable that lesser mortals like ordinary gullible converts were confused and disappointed. His gospel includes garbled bits of Essene and later material. Tradition is that Mark took Peter down in no particular order and yet the arrangement of Mark does seem to be ordered. The other gospels are of less value the later they are but they can help when they clearly relate to episodes in Mark. That broad sequence can be used and the individual items of the . We want to build on the earliest tradition and the one most free of later Christian accretions. Clement. without the appearances. Mark was written before Paul or some early editor of his epistles had invented them. John is much too late to be anything but secondary. In accepting assistance from these other gospels we can feel more assured when there is a clear Essene reference. and so theologians have to claim that they are accidentally missing. Nevertheless. then Mark should contain the essence of the Aramaic oral tradition. Analysing Mark’s Gospel  In reconstructing the events leading to Jesus’s death.

That is not to say that an apostle like Peter would not tell other parts of the story. 15. The withering of a fig tree is a metaphor of the destruction by God of the enemies of Israel but was taken to be a metaphor of the destruction by God of Israel implying that Christianity had superseded Judaism. It comprises: Mark 14:1-2. 10-11. The healing of a blind man was probably code but used as a metaphor of the light of the world. since they were based on a Palestinian tradition. Furthermore. 17-21. Mark wrote the first and most factual gospel with these two objectives in mind to provide a new authority after the destruction of the Jerusalem Church. the heresies of Paul had no one to oppose them and found new favour among the godfearers of the empire. Others could have arisen as metaphors of sayings or titles of the messiah. 15:1. 55-64. 29-33. The gospels and Acts arose in an atmosphere of racism that New Testament scholars are aware of but say nothing about. Chapters 1-13 told the mission story and it was added to the passion narrative of chapters 14 and 15. 43-46. They aim to disassociate Christianity from its Jewish origins and remove any hints that it was anti-Roman. We must try to see more closely the relevance of such scattered sayings to the general argument and place them accordingly. Without a general theory that is difficult but given a hypothesis along the right lines the pericopes can be fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. 16:9-20. the purpose of the bowdlerizing was clear—Jewish nationalists were unpopular. The four gospels are anti-Jewish. Many of the miracles are complete misunderstandings of the mystical language or code used by the Nazarenes. with the dispersion of the Jerusalem Nazarenes. E Trocme believes that Mark was originally in two main sections. Gentiles were mainly interested in the dead and resurrected god. The result is the bizarre story of the passion in which a monster like Pilate is an angel and respectable religious sects like the Pharisees are demonic. The first details of the new gentile religion that were put together were the details of Jesus’s suffering or passion. Some of these can be perceived in the gospels dotted here and there. Yet. elements of it still emerge from the deliberate obfuscation of the New Testament. or pericopes as they are called. and the passion must have formed the central part of missionary preaching in the first few decades. 34-37. Since the gospels were completed and widely circulated only after the Jewish War. 39. but these would have been most often related to close associates in private company. 26-31. Vincent Taylor believes that Mark’s passion narratives themselves stem from two sources—a narrative form from a gentile source. and a semitic collection of self contained narratives. This idea does not contradict the tradition that Peter was the original prime source. 21-24. One or two other doubtful passages have been given here the benefit of the doubt. The gentile source has to be treated with suspicion. They were written to disassociate Jesus from the Jewish cause at a time when Jews were looked upon unfavourably by most citizens of Rome. Mark was apparently the first to combine the private recollections of Peter with the public ministry centred on the passion. 3-5. The Hellenists took over and were able to dictate policy. can then be themselves examined to find whether there is any better way of fitting them into the outline. Some pieces are missing and some have been bent but a reasonable picture emerges. to use the technical term. Of course it must be true that some sayings Jesus used in his eschatological speeches were used more than once so there is no fixed context. Jesus and his followers are depicted as harmless healers and preachers. .182    tradition. which was either from an older written source or from an oral source so often repeated that it had already become stylized.

The premise is that Jesus Christ. 38 6:53-54 8:22 9:14 30 33 10:32 46 11:1 12 15 20 27 14:18 22 26 32.   Abstract of the Thesis  To follow the arguments and judge whether they are valid. The information missing from the gospels is who the Essenes were. One sect of the Jews believed this so strongly that they had separated themselves from the ungodly to prepare the way for the messiah and begin to create the kingdom of heaven on earth—they were the Essenes. They believed that God had promised them a messiah. But they believed that the kingdom of God could not encompass the world until the men of . to be a foundation of the heavenly kingdom. T W Manson added more material to Turner’s on the grounds that the adjacent material could not be detached from that thought to have been Peter’s giving 1:16-39 2:1-14 3:13-19 4:35-5:43 6:713 50-56 8:14-9:48 10:32-52 11:1-33 13:3-4 32-37 14:17-50 53 54 66-72. a great king who would drive out the gentiles allowing the promised kingdom to begin. on earth. and their members had to behave as perfectly holy people. how they related to the other Jewish sects which do appear in the gospels. as an extension of heaven. The rest of the material seems to be well arranged blocks suggesting already collected pre-Markan material. The synopsis which follows should give preliminary answers to these questions enabling the reader to see the point of the preparatory material and understand the subsequent commentary. why Jesus seemed not to be even an orthodox Essene and what it all had to do with the Roman occupying forces. was an Essene leader. Most Jews yearned for their gentile enemies—especially the Romans who ruled them—to be overcome so that they could be ruled as a theocracy—a kingdom of God. the God of the Christians. checking where appropriate the parallel accounts in other gospels.183    C H Turner thinks the passages in Mark related in the third person plural were originally related by Peter—1:21 29 5:1. readers need to know my premise and some information missing from the gospels to persuade them that this premise has some foundation. Jesus was an devout Jew—he stoutly defended the law of Moses as the gospels illogically admit. Their community they considered to be perfectly holy. We adopt the procedure of trawling through Mark’s gospel noting each event and assessing its authenticity and place in the story.

They had to urge the simple of Ephraim to prepare for the coming kingdom.184    perfect holiness detected the signs of the times which announced the acceptable day of the Lord—the day of vengeance of God—when God would avenge the wrongs done to His people. Jews who had been misled by their pragmatic and collaborating leaders—the Pharisees. then ventured back into Antipas’s country. precipitating the cosmic battle for the kingdom. Essenes felt that God only helped those who help themselves and the kingdom of God had to be won by the righteous taking on their enemies. Jesus was appointed nasi by John the Baptist. who the prophet Daniel told would come on a cloud from God—probably the archangel Michael with a heavenly host riding out of the Mount of Olives as it cleaved east and west—would arrive to institute the kingdom. those who were perfectly holy. But though Essenes had the secrets of discerning the signs of the times. Those who were thus purified could enter the kingdom and were the soldiers in the messianic army. and the Essenes had to send out leaders with the mission of converting the simple of Ephraim. Then one like unto the Son of man. many followers asked Jesus and his generals to leave them alone and they had to flee from Antipas’s soldiers to Phœnicia. The success of these missionaries would itself be an important sign of the coming kingdom. then God would intervene with a miracle. making the blind see and healing the sick. If the nasi were successful than the kingdom was nigh. The nasi represented the messiah but could make no claim to be him. When the time was right there would be a cosmic battle in which the forces of darkness and evil would be overcome by God’s miraculous intervention. being children of Israel. a leader in the Davidic mould who would convert sinful Jews and assert the authority of God’s righteous. He was still certain the signs were correct but had come to believe that God wanted him to to capture Jerusalem and the temple and that to . When the signs indicated that God was ready to create His kingdom on earth. Jesus hid. the prince of Israel. After initial successes recruiting the simple. would revert from sinfulness to godliness—they were the simple of Ephraim. Only “the righteous” could enter the kingdom so sinful Jews had to repent sincerely. against the forces of darkness— the Romans and their allies. the chosen people of God. In his acts of conversion. The men sent on this essential mission were senior figures in the Essene hierarchy. sinful Jewish collaborators. the Nazarenes were seen as a liability. the appointment being God’s alone at the end time. it was not a perfect art because heaven had not yet arrived. Jesus was the nasi. ritually purify themselves through baptism and prepare for the coming battle. most Jews. the nasi was metaphorically casting out evil spirits. and if the sum of the signs were such that the acceptable day of the Lord was imminent then the forces of light would engage the forces of darkness. Jesus was such a man and so was John the Baptist. the authorities caught on and hounded them. The duty of the Essenes was to watch for the signs and lead out the saints.

a likely occasion for a miracle. errors. It did not occur. Jesus and his generals in hiding took a last supper together—an Essene messianic meal. even  when just consulting reference books would settle the issue. Pseudoscience nearly always depends on an old classic book or  books that are forever true. Even obvious mistakes.org)  . They depend on ignorance and apathetic  acceptance of seemingly authoritative statements. A body of the temple guard arrived instead. They went to the Mount of Olives where. His disciples crowned him Melchizedek—he was transfigured! His band proceeded to Jerusalem with Jews travelling for the coming Passover. Before you go.  there is never any need to update them. battered the Tower of Siloam where some were holding out and recaptured the city. Then God would intervene with a miracle. No one could address him by any title that might draw attention to the spies of the authorities. Because the facts of the pseudoscience are untrue. according to prophecy. Proponents of it make up anything to convince the gullible. Jesus.  Mistakes in it are explained away. said he expected to be eating his next meal in the coming kingdom. the miracle would take place and Jesus urged his men to keep watchful—not for the enemy but for God’s intervention. Still there was no miracle. killed the Galilaeans in the temple.185    inaugurate the kingdom of God he was required to play the role of the messiah. Succeeding pages expand this thesis and look into its consequences in the history of Christianity. and misprints are not or rarely corrected. Outside the city the Nazarenes overcame the inadequate Jerusalem garrison and Jesus purposely revealed himself by fulfilling the prophesy of Zechariah—entering the city on a foal of an ass—and controlled the temple. The next day was the Passover. Jesus had been proven a false prophet and had to suffer the appropriate fate prescribed in Zechariah—he had to die as the worthless shepherd. The defeated Roman garrison in the Antonia barracks withdrew to await reinforcements from Caesarea. csj. Science is continually revised and textbooks are frequently updated  because of the progress of science. think about this…  Pseudoscience is indifferent to facts. convinced that he had done all that God required and that a miracle was still in the offing. Pilate’s troops counter attacked after a few days. Melchizedek. His men remained armed. (Distinguishing Science and Pseudoscience.

Christians keep plodding round the same material until they return to the conclusions they had long ago discarded. which is now lost. . Mark: First Gospel or Pious Forgery? © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: 31 October 1998 • • • • • Gospel Priority   Marcan Priority and “Q”   Criticisms of the Two‐Source Hypothesis   The Direction of Early Christology   Conclusion   Abstract  For over a hundred years most scholars have been satisfied that the shortest and clumsiest gospel. simply German for “source”. The lost source was noncommittally called “Qwelle” (“Q”). then first Matthew and then Luke each used Mark independently as a source for their own gospels. Where did this common material come from if Matthew and Luke wrote independently? This generated the “Two-Source” hypothesis. largely of the sayings of Jesus. Matthew has arranged his material in a non‐narrative way to give Jesus several major  discourses. Mark’s.186    What is True History in the Bible? Experts. The hypothesis of the priority of Mark is that Mark wrote. but with narrative material too. it is hard to see that later evangelists would be so cavalier with his work. A lost source. mainly sayings of Jesus. For over a hundred years. Matthew and Luke both used Mark but each had another source. was the first one. as a few still  think. though they defend their own dogmas as determinedly as any medieval prelate.   Who Lies Sleeping?  16. But Matthew and Luke have a lot of common material not in Mark. most scholars have been satisfied that the shortest and clumsiest gospel. an idea called the “Priority of Mark”. Q. If Matthew was the original author. such things are not problems.   Gospel Priority  Christian scholarship is a type of treadmill. alongside Mark explains  most of the problems of commonality between Matthew and Luke while allowing them such different  approaches. Why also should Luke be  so respectful of Matthew’s words when he thought his order was wrong? If Luke and Matthew knew  nothing of each other’s work but used common sources. the most famous of which is the Sermon on the Mount. are liable to  regard unorthodox ideas with contempt and show little eagerness to investigate them. Sayings from these discourses  appear all over the place in the other two gospels.  Mark’s. an idea called the ‘Priority of Mark’. was the first one.

 It is too complicated to be validated and seems  less likely than the Goulder and Austin Farrer theory. Farmer asserts the reasons for Marcan priority are not valid. But Christians never liked Mark being the first gospel because it lacks many of the features that they hold dear. This has been taken to be evidence for his use of Mark and Q as main sources and other lesser ones. The treadmill having revolved a turn. since the Synoptic Problem is the problem of explaining the agreement and disagreement between the Synoptic gospels—Matthew. Its supporters believe the gospels were written in the order Matthew. Luke admits that he had sources.   Austin Farrer’s and Goulder’s theory of Marcan priority—Mark without Q—explains the  agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark by accepting Luke’s direct use of Matthew. Its failing is providing a comprehensible account of Mark’s  composition. Luke and Mark. in 1926. Denmark. Boismard takes us into the realm of  conjecture.187    In the introduction to his gospel. expounded the Two-Source theory fully in his study of the origins of the gospels. Here they are summarised. Goulder is not convincing that Q can be  abandoned. the implication is that they were invented for later ones. If these did not appear in the first gospel. where everything is possible whereas the scientist tries to keep to the simplest of  hypotheses to meet Occam’s razor. Q. For 60 years. 4-8 August 1998) is savage but not convincing. such as Jesus’s appearances and the birth narratives. He adopts a high scientific posture but omits much of the context. There are also other theories that dispense with Q and Marcan priority. and Luke—it is important to see these three gospels as synoptic. • • • The Griesbach hypothesis—Matthew was copied by Luke. today Christian polemicists like William R Farmer champion the idea again—in the “Two Gospel” or “Griesbach Hypothesis”.  dispensing with any need for Q.   Farmer’s lengthy article in support of the Two-Gospel hypothesis and attacking the Two-Source hypothesis (Synoptic Problem Seminar at SNTS. saying that “many” including eyewitnesses had declared that which Christians believed. Luke made use of Matthew and Mark made use of Matthew and Luke thus dispensing with Marcan priority and the hypothesised source Q. Mark. If Luke did not use Matthew directly. Christians always wanted Mark to be an abbreviated version of Matthew and Luke as people had once thought. then material common to Matthew and Luke not derived from Mark. he went further because some material in both Matthew and Luke are exclusive to each gospel and so must have been the authors’ own work or taken from further sources of which we know nothing. must be from the hypothetical source. Streeter’s exposition was accepted almost universally. Copenhagen. and Mark conflated them both—can  explain the alternating support in order of pericopes of Mark by Matthew and Luke without  appeal to “lost sources”. the real history of the gospels will have been  complicated. that Matthew used Mark and Luke used Mark and Matthew is more  convincing than the previous hypothesis—that Mark used Matthew and Luke. but it cannot explain the order in Mark in relationship to  Matthew and Luke as well as can the Griesbach theory.   The Boismard Multiple Source theory affords an explanation for agreements between Matthew  and Luke against Mark but it fails Occam’s Test. . He pleads that his opponents atomize the gospels in analysing them and says. particularly explaining Mark’s major omissions from his sources Matthew and  Luke. But. if Q did not exist because Luke had Matthew to hand. Indeed. Nevertheless. However. Streeter.

It is hard to analyze something without pulling it to pieces. scientific criteria cannot be so strict. The evidence is conflicting.   Science has to work in different ways according to the circumstances. . Their own personal convictions are proof enough—they are certain. In experimental science. Yet. but only by taking it to bits can the engineer understand how it flies. palaeontology and textual criticism amongst others. Surely. Unless we unearth an unequivocal statement that So-and-so’s gospel was the first. the more fundamental they are. Its bases of observation. tests them. and the only reason that was doubted was because it posed problems in conjunction with our reading of the other synoptic gospels. 100 per cent. or an indisputable statue to Soand-so the author of the first gospel. he ignores the background of the early Christians as if it was so irrelevant as to be a distraction. experiments cannot often be carried out and the evidence is fixed pending new physical discoveries. Nowadays. However many times an event is observed there is no certainty it will happen in the same way next time. In these cases. an experiment. Unfortunately. hypothesis and deduction are constant but the ways of testing hypotheses have to change. We might never know for certain which gospel was first. and the evidence will be unbalanced to different people to different degrees. It is always impossible. devised to distinguish between hypotheses. Most scholars still use the Two-Source Hypothesis because the other ideas offer even greater problems. we are unlikely to be able to certainly deduce which of them came first. the term used is “backward engineering”. We have to take the balance of the evidence. that is an aspect of science. the more affirmatively. Christian scholars speak of “proof”. in history.188    “together in the same view”. The enemy aircraft is taken to pieces to find out how it can be synthesised—put back together again! No one pretends that an aircraft in bits can fly. They often demand the same degree of proof from scientific investigations. The churches always took it to be Matthew.

 Once  thought to have been a strong argument.   . he ignored  his special groupings. why  has he missed out the most consistent parts?   7.189    Marcan Priority and Q  Since the point of Farmer’s article is to attack Marcan priority let us. a strange decision when Matthew was supposedly the first gospel and  highly regarded. Sanders and Margaret Davies say that though no one can recover  ancient intentions. briefly. Farmer would reverse this argument saying that Mark was trying to correct  Matthew’s error. In other words. omitted while Jesus’s foibles are included? It is more feasible to believe it is both  shortest and partial because other traditions had not yet been invented or collected. not to mention either birth  narrative. it is nigh on impossible  to imagine why the developing church would want to adopt such a poor gospel compared with  the ones it already had. following the order of either one or  the other. 1.   2. whenever Luke departed from Matthew. In  Matthew 14:5 Herod was only stopped from murdering John the Baptist because of the crowds  who thought him a prophet. why were much loved verses  from both like the Good Samaritan and the Sermon on the Mount. the argument has to be taken in context. The order of Luke is essentially that of Mark and the order in Matthew is also that of Mark  except where he has deliberately grouped items into general discourses by his hero.   4. though they do not rule it out. as the Griesbach hypothesis supporters believe. Some passages in Matthew and Luke are almost identical. and he was often unclear. His Greek was poor. arguments this way round carry no weight. so preservation of order in Mark is not a strong  argument for it being original. the common general order of Matthew. The argument from order is  that the priority of Mark is simpler and more reasonable in the context of all three Synoptics— one of Farmer’s bleats!   6. Mark is the least polished and most vivid suggesting its early date as the recollections of an  eyewitness—traditionally. If Luke copied Matthew. he was critical of both Jesus and the disciples. Streeter  argued for Marcan primacy from Matthew’s tendency to improve Mark’s style.  His sorrow matches Mark where Herod admired John as a good man and just—an Essene.   3. If Luke used Matthew. Peter. Occasionally Matthew alters Mark then fails to make a necessary later change to match.  Matthew altered Herod’s admiration to murderous distaste but forgot to alter his sorrow. Mark is the shortest gospel. recapitulate the arguments for it. However. If it is a synopsis of Matthew and Luke. Incongruously. Later evangelists  expunge Mark’s frank descriptions. He  was copying Mark. there are strong objections to accepting Griesbach’s Mark as the third  gospel. in verse 14:9 he was sorry he had to behead him. If Mark followed Matthew and Luke. critics point out that the order would largely have  been followed whoever did the copying. Here also is a curious inconsistency. Luke and  Mark can be explained by turning Streeter’s argument round. Only someone writing after  Matthew and Luke and deliberately combining them can keep the order Luke preserved from  Matthew and yet. So. he sometimes follows Matthew’s words closely but not his order of  events and other times he does the reverse. we have to suppose that Luke ignored the special ordering of Matthew and  then so did Mark who was copying from both Luke and Matthew. If Mark is basing his choice of extracts  from his two master texts on consistency. Mark’s text is altered in Matthew for good reasons.   5. his knowledge of  Palestine poor. but Mark’s style is so bad.

But is it? Is Streeter really demolished? Are the attacks on him well founded or just the perambulations of the Christian “scholars” round their cloistered universe in which the same texts are consumed and regurgitated in different patterns according to the current fashion? Why are the reasons for Marcan priority more “weak and inconclusive” than those of Farmer’s alternative hypothesis? Criticisms of the Two­Source Hypothesis  Are Matthew and Luke independent as the Two-Source hypothesis requires? Of all the counter arguments to the Two-Source hypothesis. the most famous of which is the Sermon on the Mount. Farmer argues that advocates . a supporter of Farmer’s view. It does not prove that the only possibility is that Mark’s gospel was the source of Matthew and Luke. Different instances in both Matthew and Luke seem to preserve the original story most closely. The hypothesis of the source Q explains these puzzles because both evangelists took passages they admired almost verbatim from Q. On the other hand. Sayings from these discourses appear all over the place in the other two gospels. If Matthew had been the original gospel. notes that nearly all of Mark is paralleled in Matthew or Luke or both.190    A lost source surmised alongside the priority of Mark explains most of the problems of commonality between Matthew and Luke while allowing them such different approaches. Tuckett declares in this “flagship publication” the “weak and inconclusive nature” of some of the arguments for the Two-Source Theory. such things are not problems. 1995. but Mark had no access to it. yet all this shows is that some literary relationship exists. Why also should Luke be so respectful of Matthew’s words when he plainly thought his order was wrong. it should have a clear predominance of original wordings. Christopher M Tuckett. It is hard to accept that later evangelists would be so cavalier with the work of the original one. Matthew has plainly arranged his material in a non-narrative way to give Jesus several major discourses. the weightiest is the question of minor agreements between Matthew and Luke—they seem to be prime evidence for literary contact between the two. Hoping to be iconoclastic. as if it is obligatory for editors to use all of the material at their disposal. copying from the two. and should be added to that category of evidence against the Two-Source hypothesis. It only shows that Mark is some kind of “middle term” between the other two in any pattern of relationships. The failure of Matthew and Luke hardly ever to agree against Mark in order and wording does not prove that Matthew and Luke independently used Mark as a source. adding that since Streeter’s arguments for Marcan priority are no longer reliable. Proponents of the Two-Gospel hypothesis take these passages to be agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark. To Farmer’s glee. One such is the seed growing in secret in Mark 4:26-29. why should Mark. in the New Interpreters Bible. miss out passages which are effectively identical in both and therefore apparently doubly reliable. work based upon Streeter has to be questioned—most of the work this century! The situation seems serious. If Luke and Matthew knew nothing of each other’s work but used common sources. There are also about six pericopes of about 32 verses present in Mark but absent from Matthew and Luke.

are merely grammatical agreements. though hardly minor. The word “minor” disguises a few quite serious agreements that cannot have come from Mark or from Q. is that any one of them serves to destroy the idea of the priority of Mark. Though there are arguably many examples of minor agreements. Other contributions were elements of the oral tradition which emerged. Stoldt’s excessive list actually makes the argument of minor agreements ridiculous. almost every minor agreement can be explained in an innocent way. Mark itself probably came in at least two versions—pre-Jewish War and post Jewish War—parts of which were eventually bound together probably in error. If two editors don’t like split infinitives we can get “to boldly go” altered to relatively few alternatives. this reduces to an absurdity the chief tenet of the Two-Source theory. and “Q” to explain their agreement in sayings of Jesus not in Mark. Many. other than that both are using the same language and have the same idiosyncrasies of style. The reasonable Two-Source theory is that Mark and Q were the original sources. perhaps quite late and became included in slightly different forms in both gospels then were perhaps harmonised to some degree by later editors. et al. the argument leads us back to questions like Luke’s blatant ignoring of Matthew’s arrangement of events. however. if they thought it illuminating. Mark about 60 AD and “Q” possibly a pre-Christian book of wisdom sayings—Essene. who has taken what Streeter designated as one of his “residual cases” where Jesus is being mocked and has shown that the agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark cannot be explained except by requiring Q to expand to include a passion narrative. Yet. Who can say it is not true? Here. doubtless—but Christianised as the Logia about mid-century and conceivably. If Matthew and Luke copied parts of this earlier edition of Mark. do they necessitate the hypothesis that Luke used Matthew? If he did. even then. associated with the name Matthew. Hans-Herbert Stoldt has compiled 272 minor agreements. If Matthew and Luke independently used Mark but corrected him. that it can most simply satisfy the synoptic data by offering Mark to explain narrative agreement of Matthew and Luke. He cites Goulder. we meet another absurdity of the critics of the Two-Source hypothesis. It is treated as if it alone must be a complete solution to the Synoptic Problem. and deliberate or inadvertent harmonisation between the two gospels by copyists familiar with both. an apparently impressive number. Doubtless there will be an outcry—“All this speculation isn’t very scientific!” Perhaps not. of course. and there will never be any way of knowing precisely.191    of the Two-Source theory have never satisfactorily explained the agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark. but it is probably what happened. So. If both choose to alter it to “to go boldly” is that a minor agreement proving literary contact? Of course not. Some have suggested that Matthew or Luke got hold of the other at a late date in writing his own gospel and plagiarised a few stories he thought impressive. For Farmer. But. there was time for editors to take episodes from one gospel into another. the attitude of Farmer. parts of which . giving us the curious double image in the middle of Mark which a diligent editor tried to rationalise but which Matthew and Luke were unaware of. anyone knows that the evolution of the gospels took at least a century and probably as many editors.


were later omitted or changed, their agreements together against our present edition of Mark are explained. Later, a learned editor improved the Logia “Gospel of Matthew” by incorporating Mark to give us essentially the modern Matthew. Later still, another compiler, known now as Luke, put Mark and Q together in a different style suitable for gentiles rather than Jews. It seems that Mark fell out of fashion and was almost lost because the two newer gospels were preferred, but was eventually saved when the church put together its canonised books. Q was not so lucky perhaps because it was essentially a book of sayings with little or no narrative. It disappeared into history’s dustbin. Before the gospels became well known and eventually canonised, copyists made piecemeal changes in pious attempts consciously or otherwise to harmonise them. One might ask why the editors did not go the whole hog and just harmonise the gospels instead of writing new ones. Well, Farmer is trying to say they did—the result was Mark, a gospel that was the bare consensus of the other two gospels. If so, the bishops picked a dunce to compile it. Later, there was a complete harmonisation of the four gospels, which was popular for a long time. But some people and some churches preferred the originals. In short, nobody had the authority to replace earlier gospels with harmonised versions, and eventually we finished up with four of them in the New Testament and many others lost or rejected. The Two-Gospel hypothesis requires the author of Mark to rewrite Matthew and Luke omitting the miraculous birth of Jesus, the sermon on the mount, and the resurrection appearances, but adding the young man fleeing naked, a difficult healing miracle for Jesus and the putative God supposed mad by his family. Farmer merely says that all this needs to be explained if Mark was the third gospel. Why adopt a hypothesis with such serious defects? But the least credible aspect of it is that the church would accept such a poor rendering of the gospels of Matthew and Luke as that of Mark. Not only that but it then added to this simplistic piece of work the legend that it was the gospel spread by the church’s greatest Saint, Peter. If the church really did this then it was the very first pious forgery!

The Direction of Early Christology 
Whatever Christians believe, there is no doubt that Jesus, if he lived at all, was a man. From a man he was transformed into a god. That change can be seen in the progression of the gospels. In almost thirty verses, Mark has a more human Jesus than Matthew. If Mark followed Matthew, the Church sanctioned a work in which Jesus was made less god-like than he was in the source gospel. Farmer, quite feebly tries to refute this by saying no one knows the direction of primitive Christology, arguing a high Son of God Christology was well entrenched in the church long before the gospels were written, to judge by Paul’s letters. Paul’s letters themselves have been jumbled up and multiply re-edited before they reached their present state. Furthermore, by Paul’s own evidence, he and Peter were at loggerheads, so why should Paul’s Christology have to be overwhelmingly present in a work that is, according to tradition, Peter’s? Semitic expressions are found in Mark but not in Matthew. Why should Mark writing for a gentile audience introduce foreign words into his supposed summary of Matthew and Luke? The


only explanation again would be that Mark was a deliberate forgery, intended to be attributed to Peter, a simple Aramaic fisherman. A similar problem is that the Greek text for Jesus’s question from the cross,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,  

conforms to Aramaic orthography in Mark 15:34 whereas Matthew’s parallel Greek text (27:46) conforms to Hebrew orthography. Only Matthew’s Hebrew “Eli, Eli” properly explains the bystander’s observation. “This man is calling Elijah.” Mark’s Aramaic “Eloi, Eloi” seems unlikely to have been mistaken for the name of Elijah. Farmer believes Mark made the change for some curious reason and so destroyed the credibility of the words of the onlookers. Really, this is an argument for Marcan priority. Mark was, according to tradition, Peter’s interpreter and Peter was an Aramaic speaker. Jesus was well versed in the scriptures as he would necessarily have been as an Essene leader. In his agony, Jesus would have quoted the scripture in Hebrew, as he had learnt it, but Peter would have related the story in Aramaic. Matthew, a Jewish scholar, would have realised Jesus must have quoted Hebrew not Aramaic and therefore restored the original when he corrected Mark. In the 60s of the first century, the church must have had some Aramaic speakers accessible to it, even if most Jewish Christians had by then abandoned Christianity. Why then would it have permitted Mark to make such a blunder in his harmony? “Eloi” in Mark favours the idea that the book records the memories of an Aramaean speaker. Many of Mark’s readers did not understood Aramaic expressions because he generally translates them (Mark 3:17; 5:41). He translates the Aramaic word “corban” (Mark 7:11) whereas, when Matthew uses a related word elsewhere in his gospel (Mt 27:6), he leaves it untranslated. Farmer believes this shows some of the Greek text of Matthew was first used in circles where Aramaic loan words in Greek were well understood. Possibly! Matthew wrote for Jews, but they would have been worldly Jews in the wider Empire and so would have understood both Greek and Aramaic. Otherwise, it shows that, when Matthew’s gospel was offered to gentile Christians, it did not need “corban” editing out or translating because the gentile Christian audience knew what “corban” was—Mark had explained it, Mark being the earlier work. Farmer thinks that the use of Aramaic expressions in his gospel shows that Mark had an interest in including such expressions in his text for effect. He explains that the well established use of the Aramaic word “abba” for Father, meaning God, in churches acquainted with Paul’s letters, including the Christian community in Rome, reminded Mark’s readers of Jesus’s origins. So, Mark deliberately wrote the text of his gospel in a bogus Aramaic style to make it seem authentically Nazarene. Farmer is telling us the author of Mark was not honest. Why not believe that Mark wrote what Peter had said and translated it for his Greek speaking audience, as the church always said? Otherwise, the Church is being accused of blatant forgery. No critic would deny that the gospel of Matthew is more Jewish than Mark, and more Palestinian. Matthew evidently was a Palestinian Jew, though he would likely have been writing in Alexandria or Antioch. It seems odd that Matthew, a Jew, should have taken the clumsy work


of the gentile, Mark, to write a Jewish gospel. This can be taken as an argument against Marcan priority, but it is fully understandable if Mark’s work was known as the reminiscences of Peter. Overlaps between Mark and Q, Farmer’s school tells us, are not allowed in the Two-Source hypothesis. Nor is Q allowed to grow to explain the agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark. The Two-source hypothesis must maintain the independence of Matthew and Luke. These restrictions are placed on the Two-Source hypothesis because, if it didn’t have them, it would undermine the ground for the Griesbach hypothesis. It is difficult to imagine that Mark and Q did not overlap. Why should the author of Mark not know any of Jesus’s sayings recorded in Q? Mark’s gospel is not rich in sayings but why should some of those which appear in Mark not have also appeared in Q? If Q contained elements of narrative, some of those too might have overlapped. Moreover, Streeter postulated specific sources M and L for material peculiar to Matthew and Luke. Who is to say for certain that none of this M and L material was not part of Q? The source, Q, is not merely the material common to Matthew and Luke but a different book in its own right. Who knows that Matthew did not omit verses that Luke liked and vice-versa? Parts of M and L therefore originated in Q. Q is understood to be sayings with little or no narrative, but the gospel authors might have changed sayings into narrative. The physical dumbness of the priest Zachariah in Luke’s birth narratives was a metaphorical dumbness in a thanksgiving chant. So, what is to stop Q from expanding, if it explains things? Once Boismard is followed and it is accepted that one or more gospels existed in more than one edition and that the gospels as we have them may have been dependent on more than one proto or intermediate gospel, the criticisms of the Two-Source hypothesis start to evaporate. Only when forced into its conventional straitjacket, does it fail to explain the agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark.

The basic Two-Source hypothesis adequately explains almost everything that needs explaining but there are a few rough edges that might never be fettled off. Common sense suggests the historic answer is more complicated than the basic Two-Source hypothesis, but the complete answer is unlikely ever to be certainly known. The Two-Source hypothesis at core is secure, but editorial changes, copyists errors and harmonisations, and later interpolations must have complicated the central idea. These relatively minor problems are being used by the Two-Gospel school to beat the advocates of the Two-Source hypothesis. The Two-Gospel advocates are on the thinner ice, though further discoveries might prove them correct. If so, the earliest bishops will be found guilty of forging a gospel of Peter!
Before you go, think about this…  Pseudoscience is indifferent to valid evidence. The emphasis is not on meaningful, controlled,  repeatable experiments, but on unverifiable personal experience, hearsay, rumor, and anecdotal  evidence. Scientific evidence might be cited but is rarely relevant, and is simply to give the  pseudoscience the appearance of scientific respectability. (Distinguishing Science and Pseudoscience,  csj.org) 


What is True History in the Bible?
Faith is knowing everything. 

17. Manipulating the Good News
© Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2001
• • • • • • • • • •

Christian Censorship in Josephus   Testimonium Flavianum   Acta Pilati   Suetonius   Thallus and Pliny   The Talmud and Lucian   Tacitus   Missing Records   Lack of Evidence   Comment  

If Nero persecuted Christians, it was the only example of Roman intolerance up to the Jewish War.  Origen, the early Christian apologist, declared that the number of martyrs was inconsiderable. The  Christian fathers, Acts, Justin and Origen all say little or nothing about the Christian persecutions of  Nero, because the victims were predominantly Jews. Acts concludes by saying that Paul was not  forbidden to teach in Rome, he did it with all boldness—and the year was around 64 AD. How Christians  have manipulated their good news to create myths—aka lies—still told.  

Christian Censorship in Josephus 
Christians are fond of quoting authorities to their bemused converts. It stems from the absolute authority they give the bible as the supposed infallible word of God, but they extend it to any written word that an evangelist choses—under the influence of the Holy Ghost—to quote. Usually the authorities quoted are simply other fundamentalist believers, but they expect their flock to take them on trust and being sheep, they do!
What, then, does the historian know about Jesus Christ? He knows, first and foremost, that the New  Testament documents can be relied upon to give an accurate portrait of Him. And he knows that this  portrait cannot be rationalized away by wishful thinking, philosophical presupposition, or literary  maneuvering.  

196    John Warwick Montgomer, History and Christianity.  

This quotation is untrue in every particular, but being a Christian, it can be written without a blush. It is even only possible to write this rubbish because many of the historical records of Jesus have disappeared. Lost! Who lost them? The Christians! Flavius Josephus was the Roman name of Joseph ben Matthias. Josephus during the second half of the first century AD, produced two long and detailed histories of the Jews and the events leading to the Roman victory in the Jewish Wars, History of the Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews, but has almost nothing to say about Jesus and even that is probably added by Christians to fill a prominant gap left by the censors.


Josephus was born in Jerusalem only a few years after the crucifixion. He shows an interest in the Jewish religious groups of the time. He tells us about the Jewish religious parties, about John the Baptist who Christians say was the herald of the Messiah and about Jesus’s brother, James, whose death he says was a reason for the start of the War in 66 AD. But he tells us nothing about the crucifixion or how it occurred. A man almost contemporaneous with Jesus and whose reputation was built on detailed histories of the Jewish people fails to mention him except in two brief passages, if they are genuine. The precocious Josephus had studied all the Jewish religious sects before the age of 19 when he decided to become a Pharisee. He became a clerk to the Sanhedrin and at 26 went as an envoy to Rome to plead for some priests sent to Nero by Procurator Felix for trial. With the help of Poppaea, the Empress, who was possibly a Jewish proselyte or at least a godfearer, he succeeded. He was thus in Rome at much the same time as Paul, the Apostle to the gentiles.

Also strange is the omission of the fire in Rome in 64 AD which Nero attributed to the Christians. Thus even non-signalled passages from official sources can be identified by their style. This he polished into his book. John the Baptist or Menehem. His work had the ultimate stamp of approval—that of the Emperors themselves. Josephus wrote a draft in his native Aramaic which he called On the Capture of Jerusalem. the Emperor’s commentaries and he also corresponded with Agrippa I. an act grossly contemptuous of the Jewish religion. as the appointed historian of the Emperor. In their outrage. It looks as though a whole chapter might have . When Josephus uses official sources it is usually evident. the campaign diaries of Vespasian and Titus. predicting that he would become Emperor. he was granted access to official archives. which he did. He records that the Jews merely protested when the Romans erected a statue of Caligula in the Temple. Our present versions of the Jewish War mention none of Jesus.197      Back in Jerusalem in 64 AD. Vespasian captured him after the town of Jotapata had been sieged for 47 days and decided to use him as an interpreter. history suggests they must surely have rioted. When writing from experience he is more informal. When the war broke out Josephus was made a general by the Sanhedrin and fought in Galilee with John of Gischala. Such passages smack of censorship because Josephus usually fastidiously records the smallest detail of events relevant to his subject. the Jewish War. but they do tell us of Judas of Galilee and Theudas. the Zealot leader of the Galilaeans. both messianic nationalist leaders. This is a curiously subdued response for the fanatically religious Jews. revolt was simmering. for a short while King of Judaea before the war. Josephus was patriotic enough but had seen the power and extent of the Empire and knew that rebellion was futile. a Roman victory parade. Vespasian asked Josephus to write an account of the Jewish War for his campaign Triumph. To gather his material. if not revolted. sounds less official and is less impersonal in the information he imparts. to the Reports of Roman Governors. who revolted in 66 AD. It was to be a warning to the people of the East not to try to defy Roman might. Josephus got on well with Vespasian. He often tells us who filed the report from which he is quoting and transcribes it verbatim with little effort to paraphrase.

 For he was one who  wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. When Pilate. a wise man. On the third day he appeared to them restored  to life. at the instigation of the chief men among us.   Josephus. Testimonium Flavianum  Some manuscripts of the Jewish War contain a passage on Jesus extracted from Josephus’s companion volume. so called from him.  had condemned him to the cross. the so called Testimonium Flavianum (18:3:3). Neither is in the Jewish version of the Josephus’s Antiquities. As Josephus was a Jew. rightly or wrongly. This was the Christ. it was considered all the more valuable. It reads: About this time there lived Jesus. And the sect of christians. Remember he was a captive who had been adopted by Vespasian and given certain privileges in return for certain duties—privileges which could easily have been withdrawn. He won over many  Jews and many of the Greeks. For on the third day he appeared to them alive again. presumably in an attempt to fill the obvious gap left by the initial excision.   At that time lived Jesus. is cited by Christians as independent confirmation of Jesus’ existence and resurrection. those who had in the first place  come to love him did not give up their affection for him. for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvellous things about him. the divine prophets having foretold  these and many other wonderful things concerning him. if indeed one ought to call him a man. He even ordered all descendants of King David to be rounded up for questioning in an attempt to detect potential rebels and he banished two members of his own family for wanting to be Christians. The longer passage. are two passages describing Jesus. Domitian.  subsists to this time. so called after him. . proving that someone has tampered with the original text. Josephus would have been taking an unlikely risk by making such an assessment. the Antiquities of the Jews. they who before had conceived an affection for him did not cease to  adhere to him. and that he nevertheless himself still did not believe in Jesus was even more confirming evidence of the power of the redemption of Christ. if he may be called a man. Antiquities 18:3:3 (Lardner’s translation)   Church historians never doubted this testimonium of Josephus for over a millennium. The inserted passage is favourable towards Jesus even though he was viewed. who was Emperor when the Antiquities of the Jews was published. edited by Christians. a wise man. In versions of the Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus. for he performed many wonderful  works. has still to this day not disappeared. upon hearing him accused by men of  the highest standing amongst us. could have been no lover of Jesus or his followers. He drew over to him many  Jews and Gentiles. And when Pilate. He was a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He was the Messiah. had condemned him to be crucified.198    been erased by Christian censors because it depicted Jesus and his followers as fomenters of rebellion. by the Roman hierarchy as a terrorist.  And the tribe of the Christians.

and whether it was Josephus seeking to impress Christians or Eusebius it did not matter. first pointed out that the testimonium interrupts the logical structure of the narrative. Hubert van Giffen. but because in between  them is told the history of Jesus. but they regarded him as a careerist and opportunist. acknowledging him to be the son of God. if the testimony were indeed authentic. 1588  The church claimed even an unbeliever and an adversary of the faith had to confess to its truth! Quite why is hard to say. or even thoughtful. A Portugese rabbi.199    In so far as he confesses Christ. it could only be the work of a Christian. Snellius. that is extra-biblical. this interpolation could not have been more ineptly inserted anywhere else. though there is no such written claim in his own work. But Christians are still not too critical. the Christians claimed the passage had been erased. the text doeth not hang together. saying: And about the same time another calamity disturbed the Jews. Others noted that.   Cardinal Baronius. and must therefore be regarded as an interpolation. Robert Eisler in The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist examined the “Testimonium Flavianum” in Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews that the Churches had used since Eusebius as independednt. The first extant printed questioning of the testimonium was by the Lutheran theologian. Medieval Jews are on record as saying their own Hebrew manuscripts of Antiquities did not contain this passage. Lucas Osiander. According to Pastor Johannes Muller. It was a dangerous thing to say. and indeed it had been in many instances. Rabbi Lusitanus. was the next. is said to be the first Christian scholar to declare the testimonium a forgery. Giphanius. rather than the opposite.  The French Huguenot Tanneguy Lefevre argues in quite a similar strain: To speak in plain Latin.   The second. described in chapter 5. Critics of the passage were chiefly philologists while its defenders were theologians. Josephus ends the first with: And so the riot (stasis) ceased. the other tumult pointeth to the first. He regarded the Josephus passage as entirely spurious. Many Jews were ready to accept it as the work of Josephus. evidence of Jesus as Christ.  In this part of the text two calamities (thoruboi) are mentioned.  . That such remarkable witnesses can nevertheless not believe seems to be a failure of something in the redeeming powers of the Christ. Professor Sebastian Schnell. he connects with the first. who possibly inserted it because some members of the Flavian family were influenced by Christianity. It is like the soldiers who were present at the crucifixion in Matthew. he was compelled and  constrained to do so solely by the power of God. Lusitanus states: Josephus telleth first how Pilate hath given cause for rebellion whereupon the text should continue to  say how about the same time still another tumult happened unto the Jews. Protestant philologist and lawyer. Of course.

that is scholars who eschew scholarship when it comes to their belief. It shows  that the text of Josephus has been altered. Eichstadt (1814) and Niese (1893-94) repeated Lefevre’s argument. Jerome’s Latin version has the insertion but it is less  assertive. The church fathers liked to quote passages that supported Christianity. a power conferred by an edict of Constantine and  re‐enacted by the Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian after Julian’s Pagan revival. Previous Christian writers make no  reference to Josephus’s commendation of Jesus even when it would have suited them. so it seems quite unlikely that he would have risked it by a concurrent denial. Plainly  Origen’s version of Josephus’s works did not have the passage to which we are referring. hostile to Jesus  and the Christians. is clear in two passages that the Antiquities did not note  Jesus as the Christ. and depended upon it for  his life. His Works were published in 11 volumes in London in 1788 and there were later editions. Why should we accuse it of being a forgery? 1. many other scholars have written about it. although he was the first scholar the church had and one of the best. even those that  . but by  330 AD the version used by Eusebius did. it is a forgery. Eusebius (died c 340) quoted it three times. Christians  even imposed laws requiring capital punishment for anyone who concealed possession of  writings hostile to Christianity.  He was explicit about it. because no church man has made that inference from  Matthew where the same expression is found. Whatever Origen read in his edition cannot have  been the text as it was the century after and now is. Since Lardner. and Professor Norden again in the twentieth century. but quite a different text. writing in  about 250 AD long before Eusebius.   Elsewhere adding:   …although [Josephus] disbelieved in Jesus as Christ. rendering “He was the Messiah” by “He was believed to be the Messiah”. John Seed. as they  must surely have done had it existed. and could hardly have been explicit unless Josephus had said so  explicitly. He quotes other parts of Josephus but never this passage. there is no proof of the testimony before Christianity was the state religion. Josephus had flatterred Vespasian as the messiah. Who would or could have altered it?—only  Christians. In other words. Nor could it have been a doubtful inference from his saying “Jesus was called  the Christ”. He was a Christian but a liberal religious dissenter. and  able to suppress hostile and contrary writings. according to a correspondent. The truth is. even something of an early Unitarian. only scholars speaking for the churches. Indeed. Now. he  puzzled:   Though he [Josephus] did not admit our Jesus to be the Christ he none the less gave witness to  so much righteousness in James. Christians were in a position to censor books. but Origen  (died c 254). perhaps implying he was not. it was not simply an omission of the testimonium from the text but  the negative of it. So. about  330 AD. regard the passage as genuine. writing Credibility of the Gospel History in the 1730s and 40s.200    A thorough examination of the validity of this paragraph in Josephus was made by Nathaniel Lardner. so no Christian apologist can plead ignorance of their findings. yet not one of them  quoted this passage in defence of Christianity until Eusebius did in the fourth century. though the works of Josephus were famous.

Christian editors who Christianised the text might have cleverly retained these phrases to keep the flavour of Josephus. Then he mentions Jesus and concludes with two incidents in Rome that occurred. booksellers. or libraries and synagogues. Greek. such a point could have been made when  Josephus wrote about 60 years later. being hand copied. The passage giving testimony to Jesus in Antiquities comes during a catalogue of calamities that the Jews experienced at the time of Pilate taking office. This chronology implies that Pilate was governor earlier. and because books were expensive.  whether individuals. Josephus seems here to be drawing upon official sources and lists Pilate’s raising of the standards in Jerusalem and his taking Temple funds to finance the construction of an aqueduct into the city.   4. Josephus says this man performed “wonderful works” yet fails to describe any one of them  though he quotes the miracles of others. would rather they were altered so  that they could retain them than let them be confiscated and burned. according to Tacitus. but it would have matched the time when Eusebius wrote  better. For the same reasons Josephus would not have said the Christian religion was the “truth”.   3. Only a Christian could write this. He would have been courting personal disaster to say that the followers of a  crucified rebel told the “truth” about him when he was under the guardianship of the general  who put down the massive Jewish rebellion in 68 AD. and Jesus was active much earlier. Many glosses and marginal notes in the manuscripts of Antiquities we still  have show every one of them. Latin.   6.201    had already been issued. a Jew in the pay of the Roman Emperor and at his mercy as  a captive. The passage is amid stories about calamities that have befallen the Jews. who later became emperor. what do we find? Not that the passage was  forged but. The passage sounds much like Josephus in style. Josephus says that Jesus was the Christ. and others were owned by Christians. Because the passage was not quoted even in an attenuated form. and interpolated brief but suitable references based purely on Christian belief. we can conclude that the reference was too defamatory for Christian bishops to quote. Stating that the sect of Christians “…subsists to this time”.   Josephus’s work will have referred to Jesus but unfavourably. or risk hiding them with  worse consequences. Christian redactors found unsuitable references to Jesus. If it is a bald insertion it has been written in a style compatible with Josephus’s. Slavonic. This is not a calamity  as it stands. and because Vespasian  found him useful. . an unlikely statement  for him to have made. could not possibly praise a man killed—as far as the Romans knew—as a rebel and a  threat to Rome. Josephus. Conceivably. than Christians today believe.   2.  Josephus was effectively a prisoner of the Romans. Phrases such as “tribe of Christians” and “wise man” which are typical of Josephus are possibly relics of the original. not only because he was a Pharisaic Jew but also because he was critical  of messianic movements. but it could be a skilful redaction of a genuine passage. but has been inserted instead of the original piece which will have described Jesus’s  failed rebellion—certainly a calamity. the owners. Vespasian. implies it was written a considerable  time after the events he was describing. given a privileged position because he  flattered the Roman general. The passage is too pro‐Christian. So. in 19 AD. Christians declare Josephus to be a secret Christian!   5.

202    The next section of Antiquities has skipped almost two decades to a revolt led by “The Egyptian” (the one that Paul was mistaken for in Acts) in Samaria in 35 AD. Eusebius is one of the few Christians to admit that lying for the advancement of the church was acceptable (though Paul started it all). despite its introduction. so it is not at all peculiar. he had appeared to them  alive again. a certain Jesus. Something looks amiss. on the indictment of the principal  men among us. . new at the time. although it might have been included as a satirical commentary on the myth. This section was deleted in some copies of Josephus and strongly edited and put forward in others so that the ministry of Jesus would not be described as a calamity. left the existing version. After the Christians became supreme in the reign of Constantine they evidently planted evidence on Josephus. it must have been hostile to Christianity. a passage eight times longer than that allocated to Jesus and of no apparent relevance to the Jews. still those who before had admired him did not  cease to rave. shown here by ellipses. For it seemed to them that having been dead for three days. Pilate had sentenced him to the cross. He reconstructs the passage in this way: Now about this time arose an occasion for new disturbances. as having done wonders such as no man hath ever yet done … He was in fact a teacher of  astonishing tricks to such men as accept the abnormal with delight … And he seduced many also of the  Greek nation and was regarded by them as the Messiah … And when. Because something was deleted.   Because the passage sounds like the work of a Christian. if  indeed he may be called a man. then there is a jump forward of 15 years to the next strand of the story. who was the most monstrous of all men. And even now the race of those who are called messianists (christiani) after  him is not extinct. it must have been added to Antiquities some time between Origen and Eusebius. That is clear from the gospels. Jesus was hanged because he led a rebellion. Following the testimonial to Jesus. as the divinely‐inspired prophets had foretold—these and ten thousand other wonderful  things—concerning him. that Jesus was born of a virgin. when Christians got the power to edit books. He most likely interpolated this passage into Josephus. the first of the two incidents in Rome is introduced by: About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder…   but there follows a description of a woman tricked into intercourse with a man pretending to be a god in the Temple of Isis in Rome. Eisler suggests a minimum of hostile text that deleted. The only relevance to the story of Jesus was that the conniving Priests of Isis were crucified by Tiberius. So two tumults in Jerusalem and two incidents in Rome bracket a short paragraph praising Jesus. a wizard of a man. whom his disciples call a son of  God. Logic requires this introduction to be that of a passage about the tumult accompanying the arrest of Jesus and described in the gospels. turning the leading Jewish historian of his day into a witness for Jesus as Christ. Many such deletions made in Jewish works. What Christian textual analysts of the events in Josephus will not consider let alone credit is that the original reference to Jesus here was a reference to a tumult. Eisler says the word “tumult” has been deleted by a Christian censor.

they still quote it in support of their Jesus. it is exploiting the Christian’s self-styled virtue of being truthful to spread lies. This is not only dishonest. son of Ananus the high priest] assembled the sanhedrin of judges. and that is what Origen says long before Eusebius reports something quite different. More space is devoted to John the Baptist in our editions of the Antiquities than to the master whose coming the gospels assure us he was proclaiming. The obvious unbuttered truth is that Jesus was hanged as a rebel.203    Some Christians admit that Josephus’s quotation about Jesus is “contested”. The people fooled by this are mainly ignorant. in passing. does mention both John the Baptist and James. Even though Christians of all denominations are aware that the passage is suspected. So what Origen could not see. and otherwise treat the quotation as authentic. he delivered them to be  stoned. but do not say what they mean. Contested means that the majority of scholars since the early 1800s have rejected the entire Testimonium Flavianum as a Christian insertion. by the best experts. An unfavourable reference to Jesus in the original version must have been excised to render it publishable but Christian copyists. A section covering the career of Jesus in considerably more detail than the short passage we now have must have been deleted.   Antiquities 20:9:1  Many scholars think this too is forged. . disdainful of honesty. mentions Jesus later in Antiquities: So he [Ananus. The intelligent will cringe at the dishonesty involved and disregard Christian “evidence”. They follow their masters Paul and Eusebius in using lies to propagate their own “truth”. Antiquities. whose name was James. Eusebius could. but Christian clergy and preachers. If not. and brought before  him the brother of Jesus. and here in Josephus the obvious explnation of the facts is that a reference to it has been excised and a passage supporting the Christian myth inserted. It is remarkable how the preconceived version of Jesus that Christians over the years have manufactured by such steps as this censoring of Josephus holds them in thrall. Josephus also. and some others (or some  of his companions) and when he had formed an accusation against them. finding that their crudely censored versions contained no reference to Jesus felt obliged to insert one. he who was called Christ. the brother of Jesus. still say it is genuine. it confirms that a previous mention had been made of Jesus. The change was necessitated because it was hostile. of being a forgery.

Important trials such as those requiring the death penalty had to be filed. .204    Acta Pilati    Provincial governors had to dispatch. the books of Nicholas of Damascus. and paid meticulous attention to the governance of the provinces. particularly if the trial concerned an attempt at insurrection against Imperial rule. official reports of all that occurred under their jurisdiction. court historian to Herod the Great. “acta”. Josephus had access to the Acts of the Governors and he would have needed it to get an accurate view of events between 6 AD when his earlier source. It is inconceivable that Tiberius should not have been informed of the trial of a man charged with riotous assembly and treason. and one must have existed in the Roman archives. Christians take refuge behind this uncertainty.” Justin was also confident that the Roman records of the census of Cyrenius would reveal the birth details of Jesus and his family.53) “And that He did those things. but Justin himself has no doubt and writes (1 Apol 48. On the evidence of the gospels Pilate must have filed an account of the trial of Jesus. He knew what the duty of a Roman governor was. to the Emperor. ” and “And that these things did happen. Josephus’s main source would have been Roman and Herodian archives. Justin Martyr was certain that Pilate would have sent a report of the crucifixion to Tiberius at Rome. you can learn from the Acts of Pontius Pilate. So for the period of about 50 years. you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate. Taxation was light and the policy in frontier regions was to avoid conflict. Officials had to take care not to step outside of their powers and particularly not to oppress their inferiors. which covered the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. but Justin cannot have had access to the records and could not have verified there definitely was such a report. ended and about 55 AD when his direct experience as a scribe to the Sanhedrin would have become relevant. Augustus. We know that Tiberius had an almost obsessive reverence for the legal and civic reforms introduced by his predecessor. and it involved being a dutiful bureaucrat. He had to despatch his reports.

What reason could they possibly have to want to alter the date especially with Josephus so well known? It is more likely that the triumphant Christians only a few years later decided to alter Josephus to put Pilate’s rule outside of the period when the Acta were dated. (Justin Martyr. It shows that they did not support the Christian case. If Jesus did live. someone forged a report that Christian theologians know is a forgery but nevertheless quote as if it were genuine. his predecessor (3 to 11 years). That is just what Gratus had been doing. Of course. 1 Apol 34)   The point about these assertions is that no such evidence has ever been adduced by Christians. Such a report would prove Jesus was a criminal in Roman law. a man claiming to be the king of the Jews. but they have never produced them and they are not part of the New Testament as they ought to be. In his History of the Church in 325 AD. apparently at odds with Josephus who says Pilate did not take up office until 26 AD.205    Now there is a village in the land of the Jews. In the fifth century. your first  procurator in Judaea. it seems incredible that there was no reports like these. Gratus had appointed four High Priests according to Josephus. thirty‐five stadia from Jerusalem. Eusebius concludes the Acta Pilati were forgeries. And altering the dates in Josephus needed only two simple numeric changes—to the Greek number for the length of Pilate’s Prefecture (from 18 to 10 years) and the Greek number for the length of the Prefecture of Gratus. The Christians had control of the copying of books after the time of Constantine but their opponents could have hidden copies of the Roman records. as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius. the Acta might have said nothing more than what the gospels accept—that Jesus was crucified as a rebel against Roman authority. Christians might have wanted to preserve such a report nevertheless. but did not. they obviously had access to these records. Now John’s gospel (11:49) describes Caiaphas as “High priest that year”. Oddly these documents date Jesus’s trial and crucifixion to 21 AD. It must therefore have given detail of the acts that led to Jesus being crucified—that he led a rebellion and captured Jerusalem. in which Jesus Christ was  born. were published in 311 AD by the Emperor Maximinus Daia precisely to prove that the claims of the Christians were false and the verdict of Pilate was correct. implying that it was usual for High Priests to be changed each year. Eusebius informs us that the Acta Pilati. By altering Josephus. When the Christians took control. not that he was a god. any copy of the true record that emerged could be shown by reference to Josephus to have been a forgery. confirming that three years was his . at a time when the proper king of the Jews was the Roman Emperor. Christians would not have wanted to keep such incriminating evidence and there is little doubt that they therefore destroyed it and presented forgeries to the world when they took power under Constantine. But it is stretching credulity to suggest that the Roman administration were so incompetent as to unnecessarily change the date when they were altering the record to discredit the Christians. because Romans were usually meticulous officials. whether the Acts of Pontius Pilate or the census of Cyrenius.

206    term of office. if that is who he meant. They were either destroyed or altered. They are not part of the canon and so they were unfavourable to the  Christian cause.   If they existed either they were favourable to the Christian story and so would be part of the  Christian canon or they were unfavourable to the Christian story and so would have been  destroyed or altered. Gratus had appointed a new High Priest for each year he was governor and had appointed the fourth one.   If they once existed but had been destroyed someone must have known and therefore claims  that they once existed would have been made. for the next year. Legate of Syria. sacked Caiaphas also. found Caiaphas High Priest and kept him in place for his full term of office. When Pilate was recalled. Claims that the Acta once existed have been  made. one in the section on Claudius and one in the section on Nero. are ambiguous. The only reason they would have destroyed them is that they did not match the story the Church wanted to be believed. Pilate arrived. He was crucified around 21 AD. Suetonius wrote of a Jewish revolt at Rome in the reign of the Emperor Claudius apparently instigated by “Chrestus”: . There is a Slavonic text of Josephus’s Jewish War which seems to be an early version. The short mention of “Chrestus” in Suetonius shows that the Roman author was not sure of his subject by spelling Christ’s name wrongly. Pilate’s long period of office is testimony to the policy if not the theory.   It looks very much as though the Acta Pilati once existed as would have been expected but have been destroyed by the Christians. The policy of Tiberius was not to change governors believing that. Claims that the Acta have been forged have been  made. Pilate’s boss. they left the body alone when they were sated. like blowflies.   If they once existed but had been altered someone must have known and therefore claims that  they had been forged would have been made.   If they did not exist Pilate must have neglected his duty in not submitting them but Pilate was a  conscientious bureaucrat and would not neglect such matters. To return to the Acts of Pilate: we are faced with the following chain of logic. Christians tell us this is a mediaeval forgery! Suetonius  The apparent allusions to Christians in The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius (120 AD). Vitellius. it is not free of Christian alterations but tells a different story from the usual. • • • • • Either the Acta Pilati existed or they did not. It is difficult to believe that none  were written or submitted. Jesus is not named as such but is called the “Wonder Worker” and led a band of 150 disciples into Jerusalem in a pathetic attempt at revolution. but Gratus was then recalled. Joseph Caiaphas. So there is good reason to believe that Pilate and Caiaphas ruled Judaea in tandem for eighteen years from 18 to 36 AD.

so Suetonius can be taken as a rather weak witness to the fact that Jews even in Rome were in a turmoil over messianism at the time.   Suetonius.   2. Lives of the Caesars (Claudius 25:4)  The passage implies that there was an actual person named “Chrestus” in Rome at the time instigating trouble. Christus means Messiah. Chrestus being the name  with which Suetonius was familiar. possibly as a result of Christian claims. “Chrestus” is not another spelling of “Christus”. There were Christians in Rome during the first century AD but this does not imply that Jesus was himself historic. At a stretch. but not specifically Jesus. in summary. If Chrestus indeed meant Jesus. so “Chrestus” would have to be a mispelling of “Christus”. So he perhaps should have written “Christus”. as some Christians pretend. Chrestus as a proper name is so common that it occurs over 80 times on Roman inscriptions. many of whom earned their freedom over the years. assuming the common name was intended. Chrestus is the Latin form of a Greek name Chrestos. Jesus was not in Rome instigating the Jews in 45 AD. The disturbance would have been caused by messianic Jews possibly responding to the messianic claims of a contemporary. By 41 to 54 AD when Claudius was Emperor scholars doubt that Jesus’s supporters could have spread to Rome in sufficient strength to cause a revolt. the riots were by orthodox Jews incensed by early Christian missionaries on Stephen’s wing. Chrestus is an error by Suetonius who took his source to mean that. So. favours the second explanation. Even if Suetonius is referring to Christians in Rome. so Suetonius must have meant another person. Chrestus was a common name in Rome because it was given to hard working slaves. He possibly read “Christus ”and. meaning Christ to imply a Christian presence in Rome at the time. Suetonius might have been simply giving the name of a Roman rabble-rouser. It means “Excellent One” in Greek. corrected it to “Chrestus”. but the riots were by messianic Jews rioting with each other  about whether the messiah had come or not.   The linking of a word so close to Christus and “Jews” in the same context. plausible explanations of this passage in Suetonius are: 1. not the earlier existence of Jesus. this only confirms the existence of Christians. it shows that some people—presumed to be Christians—might have been claiming that the messiah had come. Chrestus was a freed Jewish slave fomenting zealous Jews into believing the messiah was soon  to come.207    As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus. . he expelled them  from Rome. meaning a messiah. possibly in reference to the claims of Jesus’s  followers.

in three volumes the history of the world from the fall of Troy down to the 167th Olympiad in 52 AD. Solar eclipses cannot occur at Passover when the moon is full. There was much persecution of the Jews by Christians during the Middle Ages. Eusebius says Thallus wrote. but the explanation is impossible because Jesus was crucified at the new moon. is also worthless but is often quoted by the liars of Christendom. Africanus says Thallus in the period before 221 AD. Scholars have collected the references from ancient copies of the Talmud and published them. None of Thallus’s work exists any more except a reference to the crucifixion in the remaining writings of a third century Christian. and Thallus would have probably have been a Christian himself. Even Africanus realized this. as they were wont to do. and many Jews were afraid that the presence of unfavorable references to Jesus in the Talmud of the time would bring down greater revenge by the Christians. and  thence repaid Antonia the debt he owed her. in Greek. from this. to have been reading it at such an early date after it was written. Yet.   Plainly this has little value since the passage could easily have been inserted into Julius Africanus and we have no way of checking whatever Thallus said.208    Thallus and Pliny  The testimony of the Pagan historian. Josephus (Antiquities 18:6:4) refers to a Thallus: Now there was one Thallus. Christian apologists have argued that a non-Christian contemporary of Jesus testified to the midday darkness. but they remain disputed. a freed‐man of Caesar’s. The fragment is damaged. so must have been writing about 80 AD or later. Jesus in the Talmud was a bastard and a magician who learned magic spells in Egypt or else stole the secret name of God from the temple and used it to work magic or miracles.   Thallus was born about 50 AD. References were eliminated by Jewish copyists so that Christians would have no excuse for burning their books and synagogues. Thallus. is in the diametrically wrong place. The Talmud and Lucian  The Talmud contains virtually no mention of Jesus. Talmudic stories were set down in the period from 200 to . If he had used Mark’s gospel as a source. Julius Africanus. after the first gospel written. The earthquake and darkness are confirmed nowhere. The father of Jesus was a soldier named Pantera. It speaks of “…allus”. The moon. Africanus’s own work survives only in fragments. that the darkness which supposedly covered the earth at the time of the crucifixion was an eclipse: Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun—wrongly in my opinion. Mark’s. wrote in the third book of his history. the observation is not independent. Thallus might be saying what the Christians believed. of whom he borrowed a million of dracmae. but refers to the lost history of Thallus as describing Jesus’s death being accompanied by an earthquake and darkness. They are peculiar to the New Testament. in its monthly track round the earth. Is this Thallus? Thallus was a popular name common on Roman inscriptions.

 and set him down as a protector. head of the synagogue. It also shows that they were a brotherhood. The Talmud therefore is not historically accurate and is only marginal use in assessing Jesus as an historical person. Singing hymns to a god called Christ says nothing about the historical Jesus. again. next after that other. Lucian’s sarcastic comment. quoting the letter of Mara Bar Serapion. is evidence that the Christians of the time thought that a man had been crucified in Palestine as the basis of their sect. It was then that he [Perigrinus] learned the wondrous lore of the Christians. Lucian. Christians will say this is Jesus. by associating with their  priests and scribes in Palestine. most of them. the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world…   The poor wretches have convinced themselves first and foremost. It says that the Jews killed their “wise King”. And—how else could it be? He made them all look like children. In a letter to the Emperor Trajan of about 112 AD. and by worshipping  that crucified sophist him‐self and living under his laws. all by himself. even if reflecting the earlier situation. comes along and gets  among them he quickly acquires sudden wealth by imposing upon simple folk. in consequence of which they despise death and even willingly give themselves into  custody.209    500 AD. cult‐leader. . Therefore they despise all things  indiscriminately and consider them common property—receiving such doctrines traditionally without  any definite evidence. and everything. This correspondence proves that there were Christians living in Asia Minor in 112 AD. and the gullibility of the gentile Christians is also lampooned. He interpreted and  explained some of their books and even composed many. their first lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of  one another. But the fact that Roman officials found Christians practising their “superstition”. He had to punish the Christians in Asia Minor as a subversive group. after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods. it tells us nothing about Christianity’s origins. Pliny wrote that he had found Christians to be harmless people who sang hymns at daybreak (just like the Essenes) to their Christ as to a god. and asked the Emperor whether therefore he had to take action against them. also has not been accurately dated. were coloured by Jewish attempts to deal with Christianity. that they are going to be immortal  and live for all time. Another fragment. Perigrinus   The “evidence” quoted from Pliny Secundus. which is hardly surprising as it was one of the first places proselytised by Paul. Christians could have invented their myth of Jesus Christ to explain why they were worshipping a god called Christ. as Romans called. made use of  him as a lawgiver. is also of dubious value. worthless for this purpose. Pliny the Younger. to be sure. some eighty years after the presumed date of the crucifixion. and they revered him as a god. So if any charlatan or tricksters able to profit from them. but this fragment is. Furthermore. written in the second century. whom they still  worship. and. confirming that the use of brother in the bible acknowledges membership of the common order not blood relationship. for he  was prophet.

is confusing the Christians of his day with those instigated by Chrestos in Suetonius. Had he? Note that he calls Pilate the “Procurator”. namely that the founder of Christianity. not merely through Judaea.  where it originated. had been put to death under Tiberius. he mentions Christus: Nero looked around for a scapegoat. but it broke out again and spread. (D R Dudley’s translation)   Even if this is genuine. Their founder. In any case. Those who confessed to being Christians were at once arrested. but of hatred of  the entire human race. This shows he was not using official records because Pilate was the “Prefect” of Judaea. He says that members of this mischievous sect were horribly tortured and their confessions led to many others being convicted. and. in Book 15:44. This checked  the abominable superstition for a while. in conventional terms a curious accusation to make of Christians but one which could apply to Jews. Roman records would not have referred to Jesus by a Christian title. scholars maintain there could not have been many Christians in Rome even by 64 AD and that Tacitus. but by his given name. Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 AD) wrote his Annals at least 70 years after Jesus’s crucifixion. Tacitus was not recording a historical event but the Christians’ own explanation of their origins. This would better explain the accusation of “hating the human race”. and inflicted the most fiendish tortures on a group of persons  already hated by the people for their crimes. By 120 AD the Christian tradition that Christ had died under Pilate had been established. the report would grow in importance. If Tacitus had been using the Roman imperial records. He also calls Jesus by the religious title “Christos”. Jesus is not mentioned by name anywhere in the extant works of Tacitus. one  Christus. He is repeating a story which was then commonly believed. had been put to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Tacitus did not claim firsthand knowledge of the origins of Christianity. Tacitus is telling us nothing historical but only contemprary knowledge. thought gentiles were inferior and hated the Romans. This was the sect known as Christians. He accuses the Christians of hating the human race. . one Christus. writing 60 years later. And Tacitus would have thought an action like this typical of Pilate. Annals. what does this tell us about Jesus? From the way in which this is written. In his Annals. to which he had access. but on their  testimony a great crowd of people were convicted.210    Tacitus  Another major ancient historian who supposedly mentions Jesus is Tacitus. who considered themselves as God’s Elect. The lesser title of Procurator only came into use later. not so much on the charge of arson. the great reservoir and collecting ground for every kind of  depravity and filth. but even to Rome itself.   Tacitus. Tacitus says that the Christians were accused by Nero of setting fire to Rome in 64 AD. messianic Jews. especially orthodox Essenes.

and statesmen demanded regular and accurate dispatches. and suggest it is a Christian interpolation (Comment). In summary: 1. had a record of militancy that. For a vast empire. he did it with all boldness—and the year was around 64 AD. Palestine was not a minor country of little importance to the Romans. the early Christian apologist could declare that “the number of martyrs was very inconsiderable”. these are serious difficulties that prevent this passage from being taken as genuine. meant they could not be ignored. To children in Sunday school this sounds quite convincing. Justin and Origen all say little or nothing about the Christian persecutions of Nero.   Damning to the authenticity of this passage is that it is cited. no one before had mentioned this part of Tacitus. Even Origen. The term Christian was not in common use in the first century. No other report that Nero persecuted the Christians has ever emerged.211    Gibbon points out that. if Nero persecuted Christians.   4. Multitudes of Christians cannot have been in Rome in 60 AD. . unless Christian is being used more  widely than it is today—to mean messianic Jews rather than believers that the messiah had  come in Jesus. insignificant events occurred in a distant country of which Romans knew nothing and cared less.   3. and the military corridor by land from Africa to Asia. Arabia and India. The countries to the east had been serious rivals to Rome not long before and were still strong and independent. because the victims were predominantly Jews. Again. But it is not true and should not be repeated by honest adults. The only other reason for the silence would be if the passage in Tacitus was interpolated. it was the only example of Roman intolerance up to the Jewish War. They remained a threat at the time of Barabbas though later the Romans briefly annexed them. The Jews were already widespread as merchants and artisans in the Empire and Judaea was strategically important astride the trade routes to Persia. Notice that Acts concludes by saying that Paul was not forbidden to teach in Rome. The Christian fathers. In truth. It was probably not in the manuscripts of Tacitus at that time. And the Jews. Thus events in Judaea were watched keenly by Roman observers at diplomatic and military levels if not by the hoi polloi. and nor do contemporaries. Romans mistrusted Jewish links with these countries. Nero was indifferent to the religions in his city.   2. among obvious fairy tales. but copyists in the Dark Ages might well have copied the passage from the Chronicle into the manuscript of Tacitus they were reproducing. though inhabiting only a tiny country. Acts. and did not need any group to be his scapegoat  because the rumour that he started the fire was an early slander of an unpopular man. almost word-for-word in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (d 403 AD). combined with their strategic position. Missing Records  Christians explain the lack of official records of the events of Jesus’s life by claiming that they were totally unimportant at the time. Many Jews still lived in Parthia preferring to remain even though Cyrus the Persian had allowed them to return from Babylonian exile.

began to destroy anything contrary to their own view. its critics’ main argument was a different one—Jesus was a bandit and a magician and. so apparently they were not put. The Christian apologists did not attempt to answer any such questions. were republished after the death of Julius the Apostate. Celsus and Lucian early in the second century and Sossianus Hierocles late in the third tell us that Jesus was a sorcerer and a fomenter of rebellion who committed highway robbery at the head of a band of men. De Judaeis by Antonius Julianus completely disappeared. though. as Christians maintain. These documents existed because later scholars refer to them. has also gone. commenting on Justus’s book which still existed then. a critic of Christianity. But Photius. remarkably. Only in modern times have critics argued that Jesus never existed at all. We only know it existed because Josephus mentions it. Bishop of Tyre in 448 AD.212    Jesus was proclaimed a king as even the gospels admit and as such he was a rival to Caesar and a threat to the Empire. expressed surprise that it made no mention of Jesus. Thus Photius tells us that when the writings of Eunapius. who organised the revolt in Galilee. vital because it was written at the end of the first century by Justus of Tiberias. Another book. Justus knew the events of that period from direct experience and could hardly have avoided mentioning the execution of a claimant to the Jewish throne. If. That was no trivial crime and required detailed reports from the Roman governor to the Emperor. In the early days of Christianity. But where are they now? Gone! Nothing of this remains now because Christians. all anti-Christian references had been expunged.   . it was not worth recording and indeed was not recorded. that the records of the time proved it! A Jewish source says Jesus was crucified at Lydda as a false teacher and a beguiler. when they came to power under Constantine. The death penalty was prescribed for anyone owning or trying to preserve any books describing Jesus as a magician or an agitator! The writings of Arius and Porphyry were ordered to be burnt. But the Christian censor had been at work for a century. it seems curious that early opponents and critics of Christianity failed to question the absence of independent evidence of Jesus’s existence.

He asserts. The only source with such prestige is Tacitus. Explicit references to Jesus were replaced by references to “a certain one”. Jewish Scriptures were burnt by the cartload. was also tampered with by the Christians who then accused the Jews of altering their own version. . a Christian writer. The works of Celsus and Sossianus Hierocles were suppressed and we now only have quotations made from them by Christian polemicists. Besides official censorship. In 1263 AD King Jayme I of Aragon in Spain ordered that all Jewish books should be destroyed. Even Josephus which has managed to survive has been “improved”. The version of the Old Testament written in Greek. the Nazarenes or Ebionim. it must have been a prestigious one to carry weight against Josephus. and Sulpicius Severus. Many old manuscripts in museums and archives are testimony to the Christian censors blotting out sentences or sometimes obscuring whole pages by spilt ink.   Jews also had to alter their records if the Christian censor was not to burn them. altered passages as they saw fit. in his Chronicle written in the fifth century. there is again a strong hint of Christian suppression. it could not be an invention of the time.) However this is not confirmed by the works of Josephus as they stand today and it is an amazing statement to be made by a Christian especially at such a late date. Since it is just at this point that the works of Tacitus are lost. (These Christians could only be those of the Jerusalem Church. if it is based on a contemporary source. The books of Tacitus come to a halt at the siege of Jerusalem. The Romans considered both Christians and orthodox Jews to have participated in the Jewish War. The missing books of Tacitus possible owe their disappearance to their having references to Jesus. Because it is quite contrary to anything the Church would want to maintain. Yet. that the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple to stop it from being an inspiration to the Jews and to the Christians. In the pogroms of the Middle Ages. Christian editors and copyists.213    Passages were removed from Lucian. The paragraph in Antiquities of the Jews bearing witness to Jesus was not in its present form in 250 AD and is thought by many to be a Christian forgery. the Septuagint. does not demure.

No myth.   2. There are no proven. in 1991 AD that Secret Mark. The earliest New Testament accounts do not refer to any details of the life of Jesus. It shows that Jesus was historical.   4. They would be incinerated. in order to stifle the rumor. was punished as a criminal by the procurator. who. The  authentic Pauline epistles imply only that he was a god. accepted as authentic by many. to explain the worship in the Roman empire of a celestial or cosmic god called Christ. Lack of Evidence  The lack of evidence makes it impossible to prove that Jesus ever existed. in the reign of Tiberius. There is no evidence that the town of Nazareth ever existed at the time. 44)”. but was not the person that Christians think he was!   Comment  From John   Remsburg (The Christ) gives good reasons to think of it as a interpolation. He states that “This passage.   . This wholesale destruction of accumulated wisdom in the name of God precipitated the dark ages from which we did not recover until the Renaissance. “The founder of that name was Christus. 1. He is discussing “Nero. The existence of Jesus is not necessary to explain the origin or growth of Christianity (see Earl  Doherty’s detailed arguments). In the middle of that passage which takes up quite a long paragraph. Pontius Pilate”. It was this embarassing fact that the early church desperately tried to ignore that led to the lack of citations by Paul and other early Christians to the life on earth of the god. with the approval of the Imprimatur. legitimate references to the existence of Jesus in any contemporary source  outside of the New Testament. Are the churches are different now? The Catholic.   3.214    The greatest act of Christian vandalism of all was the destruction in the fifth century of libraries like that of Alexandria and the Pagan schools that had propagated Greek scholarship. if not spurious.   The most convincing evidence that Jesus lived is the fact that he died as an opponent of the Roman state. Even the New Testament is really not a contemporary source. would have been invented with the immense disadvantage that the god died opposing the state. the Egerton Gospel and all other non-canonical texts about Jesus were worthless and might be thrown “back into the sea”. the Gospels of Thomas and the Gospel of Peter. It is not quoted by the Christian fathers. John P Meier. We can be certain that if Christians had anything to do with it many modern discoveries would never see the light of day. as  it was written from 30 to 120 years after Jesus died. advised in A Marginal Jew. for the following reasons:” 1. there is this brief sentence that he puts in italics. ascribed… but only to gratify the cruelty of one man (Annals Book XV sec. must be declared doubtful.

As this single copy was in possession of a Christian the insertion of a forgery was easy. and which I have italicized. It interrupts the narrative.   6.   8. The blood‐curdling story about the frightful orgies of Nero reads like some Christian romance of  the dark ages. this sentence bears the unmistakable stamp of  Christian forgery. is to be found in  the writings of Sulpicius Severus. “not even  those of condemned criminals”. but are silent upon the Jesus we are looking for. That it existed in the works of the greatest and best known of Roman  historians. omitting the reference to Christ. was made in the  eight century—600 years after the time of Tacitus.   4.   11. Tertullian was familiar with the writings of Tacitus. Origen. is the most important  evidence in Pagan literature. In all the Roman records there was to be found no  evidence that Christ was put to death by Pontius Pilate. if genuine. Tacitus himself declares that Nero was not in Rome. This sentence. It is not quoted by any Christian writer prior to the fifteenth century. The ecclesiastical historian Eusebius.   3. made a compilation of all the  recognitions of Christ and Christianity that had been made by Pagan writers up to his time. and not like Tacitus. in the fourth century. at the beginning of the third century. and there is no break in the narrative.   5. but his introduction at so late a period would make  rejection certain unless Christian forgery could be made to appear improbable. and this copy. says that in his public  entertainments he took particular care that no human lives should be sacrificed.   Remsburg continues: Many who accept the authenticity of this section of the Annals believe that the sentence which declares  that Christ was punished in the reign of Pontius Pilate. At this time but one copy of the Annals existed.   12. It is admitted by Christian writers that the works of Tacitus have not been preserved with any  considerable degree of fidelity. and his arguments demanded the citation of  this evidence had it existed. is an interpolation.360 years. Its severe criticisms of Christianity do not necessarily disprove its Christian origin. I can remember another writer by the name of Stein mentioning 60 writers. while mercilessly condemning the reign of Nero. would undoubtedly have used it had it existed.   7.   14. it disconnects two closely related statements.   10. .  I think you’ll be impressed also with 40 writers he lists during the time. in nearly the same words. At the time that the conflagration occurred. in his controversy with Celsus. cites all the evidences of Christianity  obtainable from Jewish and Pagan sources.  Whatever may be said of the remainder of this passage. this story.   9. a Christian of the fifth century. no intelligent critic can  believe. Eliminate this  sentence. Tacitus did not write this sentence.215    2. No ancient  witness was more desirable than Tacitus. Suetonius.  but at Antium.   13. it is claimed. Clement of Alexandria. but makes no mention of Tacitus. and was ignored or overlooked by Christian apologists for 1. or within a century after the time that Christ is supposed to have lived. but I don’t know if he lists them individually as Remsburg does. The  writings of Tacitus furnished no recognition of them. In fact. In the writings ascribed to him are believed to be some of the  writings of Quintilian.

easily. My feeling is that Christians would not insert something that said they hated the human race and named names. I would get in touch with Robb before I bought it from Prometheus itself. You seem like a very well read man. Mike. After this. and I’m sure you’re aware of their skeptical press. because Robb sells these books actually cheaper than the Prometheus press due to his very low postage rates. he acquitted himself with distinction in the battle of Fort Stevens and received a special certificate of commendation from President Lincoln himself. Be forewarned. It’s 406 pages. but I think surely this one is on the www. working. if you want the book. and have a couple of hundred that I still reference quite a bit when I get time for on-line debates such as the format that the Secular Web now has. I hear the same response of them not eating. Remsburg entered adulthood as one of the youngest soldiers in the Union Army. Thank you for your time. twenty years later. Raised in poverty in small-town Ohio and largely self-educated.infidels. I hope I’m not wrong this time.’   It is nice to share information with like-minded individuals. the Christians repeating earlier sources might have . I will always put Remsburg work in the top five. I really admire this mans work. he had delivered more than 3. and I have one more recommendation for you that I’m sure you will like to get also if you haven’t already purchased it because it will literally cause your heart to start pounding because of the discoveries it brings forth. He spends a great deal of time quoting early church fathers. John Thanks for the comment and references. From the flap cover it mentions that he was “one of the most popular and widely traveled freethought lecturers of the late nineteenth century. including the foreward. and if I only had one book that I could offer a Christian to read. you will not put it down until you complete it! I’ve steered friends to this book. I’m headed back to your site. it would be this very book. he became a school teacher and eventually superintendent of public education in Kansas. All I can say is that these reasons look convincing enough. It’s called Forgery in Christianity by Joseph Wheless. For the same reason. It’s good to know you’re a freethinker. By 1880 Remsburg had become a committed freethinker when he published Thomas Paine: The Apostle  of Religious and Political Liberty. After the war.216    According to Robb of Robb Marks bookseller The Christ is the most sought after book he has. because once one reads the first 10 pages. and I’ve never found so many nails to drive in a casket than what I found here. When he retired. Among Remsburg’s other  significant books were ‘The Bible’ and ‘Six Historic Americans. do not start reading this book unless it is early morning or afternoon. At this time he also began lecturing on freethought and quickly proved  to be a great success. and more times than not.000 lectures  and addressed audiences in over 1200 cities and towns in North America. and I could get them to read it. Anyway. and for a great site. I’ve always enjoyed reading freethought works. The publisher is Prometheus. sleeping until they have at least completed half of it. He’s a good man to deal with. A little history on John E Remsburg (1848-1919). During the Civil War. I think you’ll be as impressed with him as I.org site under historical documents.

Sunday. But the weight of evidence you cite is er… weighty! Best wishes. 02 October 2005 • • • • • Greece   Morals of the Athenians   The Development of Religion   The Rise of Philosophy and Skepticism   Morals in Ancient Rome   Abstract  Wicked Pagan Greece produced a line of unsurpassed moralists. They tell simple ignorant believers what to think—after all the trouble Luther and  Calvin had taken asserting the right to think for themselves. accepting a simple message with its  faults.217    been embarrassed by it and omitted mentioning it. and gave many educated Romans a high moral  character. The ones who show them how it is done are their greedy and arrogant pastors.   Who Lies Sleeping?  17. Fundamentalists cannot read the bible as it stands. “Fundamentalist” and “evangelical” mean the same thing because of their  common origin. The Hellenistic Background to Christianity © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Friday. which Christians insist are the  indispensable bases of any moral conduct. The Stoics ridiculed the idea of spirit and free will.  Examining the Bible Objectively A warmer planet will mean that the permafrost of Siberia and Canada will melt releasing methane  trapped there forming a positive feedback loop pushing temperature higher still. a strange mystery to Christians for  whom there is only one ethical route in the whole universe. 1999. For one hundred and fifty years. think about this…  Christian fundamentalism came out of the revivalism that flourished in the nineteenth century. They treat it as a divine code in which the separate verses have to be arranged properly to yield  divine truth. Rome had Stoic emperors  . Before you go. It culminated in the Stoic School which produced Christ‐like austere  moralists such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Socrates and Plato believed in one God and  were highly moral idealists. who have  taken the place for believers in fundamentalism of the Catholic priesthood of the middle ages for the  Christians of the time. based on  opposition to Darwin. May 14. Mike. Athens was not so much the city of vice as the greatest morality making  center the world has ever known.

To talk of the “genius” of the Greeks is mere mysticism. If the Hebrews had been Greeks. and the Greeks werepassing through. a product of God’s revelation and inspiration. Words and phrases suffice as explanation. democracy. theatre. powerful barbarians with iron weapons. the blue sky and the blue sea and golden sun. gymnastics. Of the twenty nine Pagan Roman  emperors twenty one were admirable men of good character. because they stand for things which the Greeks invented or discovered. Greece is scorched much of the year and scratching a living from its rocky terrain was never easy. chorus. comedy. If the Christian Church bad not subsequently crushed all science. of whom three. only arm-chair philosophers see any explanation in such qualities. The earliest Greeks. Athens.Physical circumstances explain more than genius or religion does. music. One has only to reflect on the language we use today to realize the world’s debt to Greece. a Semitic maritime empire that ruled the eastern Mediterranean. was conveniently situated for communication with Asia Minor. Teutons. . with no outstanding achievements except the abolition of royalty and the creation of democracy—the first democracy in history. The Greeks. but quite impossible in rigorously organized monarchies with millions of people and vast armies of mercenary soldiers. it would be a miracle. athletics. Such a change was comparatively simple in a small community like that of the Athenians.218    whose ethical level exceeded any in the history of Christendom. of the Greeks. and the law of evolution. Half the Cretans fled to Asia Minor. To the historians of all later time. And it never had more than a population of about four hundred thousand. Athens was a city-state—a single city with a moderate amount of the surrounding country. Though. Celts. In effect. It spread west and south. the existence of atoms. and Slavs are one family. in the Greek archipelago. Nor can the explanation be given by reflecting on the glorious climate. In any case. aesthetics. the sun and sea and hills are the same now as they were two thousand years ago. politics. the picturesque world. Philosophy. and the ancestral tribe lived somewhere in the Caucasus.   Greece  The Greeks had hardly been civilized a few centuries when they discovered three great fundamental truths of science—the vastness of the universe. science would be a thousand years more advanced. Nearly all the early poets and scientists of Greek literature belong to Asia Minor. or occupying. destroyed Crete.fourths were slaves. But until the fifth century Athens had only a moderate civilization. Romans. where they had colonies. Contact spread aspects of Minoan civilization to the Greeks. a beautiful place with exceptional air and light. and today they inspire no genius. ethics. this genius of the Greek intellect has always been a mystery. This does not puzzle us. The first European nation to become civilized reached the high water mark in nearly every branch of culture. a city of one hundred thousand men and women produced the bases of the modern world. tragedy—these and a thousand others are Greek words.

Athens was a near perfect democracy. but what of their moral level and spirituality?  Joseoph McCabe wonders. The  . Without a high moral and spiritual level. to witness the superb tragedies of Aeschylus. will ever rival them. But they try to answer. and that they succeeded will forever be told in the world’s literature while civilisation continues. society degenerates. intellect is paralyzed. the parliament house—seated thirty thousand spectators. in rebuilding. Moreover. The Athenians were narrow-minded about religion—always a great retarding influence—but even here they rarely enforced their laws. The Persians completely destroyed the old Athens in 479 BC. the Athenians learned the lesson of heavy defeat and avoided war for a century. even twenty times as large. Morals Of The Athenians  The even more bigoted Christian preacher will say: We grant you a certain intellectual talent to the Greeks. and the Athenians. Intellectuals simply paid it enough lip service to avoid trouble—the condemnation to death of Socrates having a political element. “Why lay so much stress on spirituality and virtue? Spirituality is a shibboleth. lacking the spirituality and morality of Christians. Common Athenians were bigoted. Pericles proposed that they should raise on the ashes of the older Athens the most beautiful city in all the world. Never again will such artistic and literary wonders be crowded into one century by so small a people. energy and the great  deeds of the strong are sapped.” The Christian is shocked. not a building designed or raised. Believers do not expect to hear such things questioned.  McCabe responds: Are you smiling? These Athenians. were fortunate enough to secure a statesman who was also a thinker and an artist.219      In the fifth century. but they were proud of their unique city and its achievements. gave the world such  brilliant intellectual achievements that no nation. in later years. Sophocles and Euripides. as well as the comedies of Aristophanes and Menander. Not a bean could be used from the treasury. without the consent of the twenty thousand male citizens and voters. the theatre—also.

But. He was the second greatest comedian of Athens. for in so doing you will blame others. and you will escape  censure. all the authorities admit that the Athenians were brilliant in art and intellect and loose in morals. To compare Greek morals with Christian. Menander. thus: No modern theology has taught higher and purer moral notions than those of Aeschylus and his school. writing in one fragment: Prefer to be injured rather than to injure. was not scurrilous. only scholars read these. known as the Dark Age. it ought to be wiser in its social life. brilliant civilization the world  has yet seen”. Ages when practically everybody was a Christian should be compared with the Greeks—the middle ages in Europe.   If that were true. little and corrupt as it was. the Greek tragedian.  Not faint praise for an age preceding the preaching of Christ by five whole centuries. the words of a clergyman. Menander was the culmination of Greek manners. Modern civilisation is not Christian and. produced “the most refined. But it is not true. “preserved for us all that is best in classical literature” yet preserved the “scurrilous” plays of Aristophanes and ignored the almost Christian pleasantries of Menander! A Christian theologion judges Æschylus.  The Christian drives the lesson home in these decisive words: The agreement of Sophocles (in his Œdipus) shows that these deep moral ideas were no individual  feature in Aeschylus. according to Christians.  Menander’s comedies reflected a state of moral and domestic sentiment like our own. Aristophanes has more influence on our views of Athens. and how it recoils upon the third and fourth generation.  developed afterwards by Socrates and Plato. Aristophanes have survived. Pious monks of the Dark Ages. immorality is consistent with brilliant art and intellect.220    Athenian state. A clergyman will compare the Greeks of more than two thousand years ago with people of modern times. and they were full of moral scenes and happy endings. and that there must have been a sober earnestness at Athens very far apart from  . being two thousand years later than the Greeks. if it does not promote them. Only fragments of his comedies remain but many of the works of the other great Greek comedian. and before the “prophecies” and psalms of the Jewish scriptures were written! Aeschylus… …shows the indelible nature of sin. but first attained by the genius of Aeschylus. the twentieth and twenty first centuries can not properly be used as a yardstick. Christians are fond of quoting the scurrilities of some of those comedies as “typical” of Athenian sentiment.  Christian retorts: Surely. thus  anticipating one of the most marked features in Christian theology.

  She was a virtuous lady to whose house even Socrates and Xenophon. Admittedly women were not free. Athens was not divided into a score of refined people and a brutal mass: We hear of no low music halls. is not an example of typical Athenian manners. It is an assumption based on the absurd Christian prejudice that no one could be moral without Christianity.  This “license” is at variance with every other word he says. Prostitutes walk on his stage. were much the same as ourselves. as Jowett had proved long ago. Euripides.221    the ribaldry of Aristophanes. Even such vice as existed was chiefly refined and  gentlemanly. the friend of Pericles. and far more homosexuality than did the ancient Athenians. The Greeks. Most Greek women and girls were guarded in an oriental seclusion.  Along with the three greatest dramatists of Greece. The Greeks were not morally inferior to modern nations. Menander was also full of a down to earth virtue which was truer to life. the world has  passed from neglect to courtesy. There is no absolute proof of her want of dignity and morality. several chapters of the bible are utterly unsuitable for children because they represent a disgusting morality for a supposedly good god. Sex jokes are as common as in a London comedy club or a high-class Chicago revue. and talk freely. as they are today in the west. And. is merely lampooned by the comedians. Alcibiades described in Plutarch. Some intensely Christian countries today accept quite as much looseness. But the worthy monks carefully preserved the ribald works of Aristophanes for us. They seem to have observed the same ideals in the same ways. to conclude the list. His “Lysistrata” is a supremely funny and daring picture of a sexual strike by the women of Greece.  Aspasia. and Edward Carpenter has proved again in his beautiful Iolaus. Such immorality as that of the modern French stage was never tolerated  among the Greeks. And as to the immorality of some of the legends about the gods. The third great tragedian. It must have been too dull for the Christian monks. or low dancing saloons. Nor is here evidence that there were hetairai at Athens. His heroines… …are the women who have so raised the ideal of the sex that. though there were at Corinth. Athens was far superior to Europe when it was entirely Christian in the Middle Ages. They were treated more like Moslem women—and plenty of those prefer it to the western style—and they . No one doubts he was highlighted as in every way untypical. or because they wanted only to preserved evidence that suited their prejudices. the great moralists. either because they enjoyed it more. in spite of all their license. went for the purpose of serious mental improvement. like the Babylonians and Egyptians. is also morally noble. from courtesy to veneration. in looking upon them. and or evidence that the hetairai were immoral. the Greek love of boys was largely innocent.

the word “cemetery” means the place where people sleep. Hephaestos and Aphrodite and all the rest. Like any true love. Apollo. Like the biblical Hebrews. In Greek. if there was a life beyond. there were prostitutes. The religion of Greece was not the Greeks’ source of morality. of the moral light-heartedness. Christians must not be vindictive. The Development Of Religion  The old gods of Greece. since there was no “inspired” record—though Plato worked out a theory of inspiration of the poets like the Christian theory— to limit anyone’s imagination. The hetairai seemed more like Japanese geishas than Western prostitutes. The Greeks bad no sacred books about them in the same sense as the Hebrews. temperance are the great principles. human ideals were just the same. It taught no lies about a life after death because. and must suffer injury or insult without retaliating. Human nature was just the same. Sex is not the whole. Corinth had a lot of them. Greek maids admitted lovers in the same proportion as maidens have since civilization began. of morals—though Christians often think it the only part. Consequently. but their God does nothing of the kind. were brought down from the northeast into the peninsula by the early barbaric Greeks. and had no particular theology even. Zeus was the moral ruler of the world. Justice. generosity. He punishes with merciless vigour anyone who offends Him. To the austere tragedians. The Greek maid would not willy nilly receive a lover because Zeus set a baudy example. or the main part. truthfulness. A critical study of the Greek writers in different ages shows that. Doubtless. Much. and Greek society was no less familiar with them than we are. they considered the dead slept. Homer and Hesiod and others. then as now. In the same manner. even if they were so disposed. honour. They were nature gods. the amours of the gods were light poetic material. Aspasia loved Pericles but could not marry him because she was a Milesian and could not marry an Athenian. They were female entertainers whose talent was far from simply offering sexual favours for money. The poets. Yet for the Christian it is a gloomy and haunted place of dead spirits. and the popularity of heterosexual brothels shows that most men were neither homosexual nor interested in children. being beyond. was not original in Greek religion.222    could hardly philander. kindliness. Zeus and his wife and daughter. no doubt she ignored the proscription. “God’s ways are not the ways of mortals”. The stories of the immorality of the gods had no concern with the morals of mortals. Their amorous adventures fell from the lips of the bards at the courts of the petty and pleasure loving early kings who loved their legends embroidered with all sorts of baudiness. give us their stories. attributed to the gods. A maid would sooner be a laurel tree than copulate with the sun god. it was not open to our scrutiny. even though it should be a light and happy place . the gods were understood differently by different writers at different times. Few took moral principles more seriously than Athenians did. To lighter poets. if not all.

Sacrifices. Unlike the Babylonian. Olympia. But Greek men thought the love of woman merely procreative. but the love of young men virtuous. and so on. and processions— artistic developments of ancient practices—were what it enjoined for cultural bonding. The educated tolerate this religion and practiced it in public as a public duty but laughed at it in private. playful nature sopirits generally doing what comes naturally in woods and waters. but the Greeks thought mysterious beings called Fate or “The Fates” pursued the criminal and avenged injustice. justice was a social matter. people accepted death and talked about it with serene recognition that it was a natural fact. In Athens. the words gymnastics and athletics. had their sports. as strict a moralist as any. Zeus was simply Father Zeus. as long as the mass of the people were ignorant enough to believe in it. The stories of the amours of Zeus were not dogmas. ceremonies. The normal Greek religion was complicated by secret cults known as “mysteries”. Part of the reason for this. consisted of a nine days’ celebration at Eleusis. which are from living models. Equally. The Eleusinian Mysteries. and he would pay close attention to it. His full name meaning. The gods were not role models. Even the maidens. show us the result. was a special recreation city for all the Greeks. which gave the name to the Olympic games. satyrs. and undoubtedly a consequence was the Greek admiration of beauty. The Greeks’ minor spirits were mainly nymphs. Zeus was often seen as the supreme guardian of justice. Retribution for seducing a man’s wife or daughter was not the business of Zeus but was the business of the husband or father. as well as races and wrestling. Every . are Greek. explains this in his “Symposium” and shows that it was not the sordid vice that Christians imagine. the Greek had no belief in legions of devils whom the gods would permit to torment him. poetic. a secular concern. Modern Olympic games are degenerate imitations of these. Educated Greeks thought Zeus the spirit of the universe and the other gods and goddesses aspects of the same principle. He sent the rain and the sunshine upon just and unjust alike and was seen in quite a general way. for the Greeks had intellectual. and musical contests. For the youths there was as fine and healthy a system of athletics and gymnastics as exists anywhere in the world. The Greeks were the first people in the world to develop sport in the modern sense. Stadia were as important as theatres. although they were carefully guarded in the home.223    because of Christian expectation of a future life in a balmy place. Plato. was their love of a clean and comely human form. near Athens. male and female. chiefly Phidias and Praxiteles. The wonderful statues left us by the great Greek sculptors. dryads. our Olympic games. The official religion never troubled about ethics. Greeks originally believed in as many spirits as any other nation but they almost allowed them to pass out of existence. Greeks were not exhorted to be like the gods in the sense that Christians want to be like Jesus. and the educated did not. No one need believe them. like Jupiter. the father in heaven. Our modern stadia.

Philosophy was born out of the inspiration of Persian religion. before the Golden Age of Pericles.) The pious types found their expression in the Mysteries. But the most essential condition to bear in mind is the liberty the Greeks enjoyed in Asia Minor. It turned away from science to “spiritual truths”. Originally. who talk glibly about the pagan Greeks and their immoral gods. are not happy unless they can groan over their sins. On the contrary. But Greek thought became distorted by religion. It has shown for all time how futile and mischievous is that high sounding appeal for us to turn from science to “spiritual truths”. under pain of death. and the first school of thinkers is known as the Ionic school. Some people. and the Greek desire to improve on the novelties of their enemies. In his Mysteries there seems to have been a representation of the birth of the baby god Dionysus like that of Horus in Egypt or of Christ in Catholic churches today.224    freeborn Athenian had to be initiated. Just as the secret gatherings of the early Christians were said to be for the purpose of orgies— and as late as the fourth century S Ambrose tells us that they sometimes were—so the Greek mysteries were said by early Christians to cover orgies of indecency. probably triggered by the advance of the Persians and Zoroastrianism. a religious revival passed over the country and led to the extension of the mystery cults. The preachers. have no idea of the amount of spiritual life—equal to the Christian life—that there was in ancient Greece. they no doubt involved the sexual rites of the fertility goddess Demeter or Ceres. which were to many Greeks what the Holy Week was to the Catholic. The cult of Dionysos or Bacchus was another cult which attracted the religiously fervant. Greek civilization first reached a high development in the Mediterranean fringe of Asia Minor or on the islands off the coast. Some Greeks bemoaned their sins and were “baptized” at the Mysteries in the most pious manner. when the mysteries were a secret fertility cult. Rise Of Philosophy And Skepticism  Greek philosophy is as brilliant as every other creation of the Greek intellect. for some. and every conceivable variety or cast of speculation made its appearance. of a pious frame of mind. to reveal what he or she saw. The moral blandness of the official religion. made them turn to the mysteries. The line of thinkers which that little nation produced in three centuries has no parallel in the history of thought. Dionysos was the Spirit of the vine. The early Greek philosophers nearly all belong to this region. Its leaders . long before. (It also had an effect on philosophy. From the start it was more scientific than metaphysical. and this points to an influence of the conquering Persians. They were free to speculate. The official Greek religion gave no hope of a resurrection and never bothered about a future life. They were in a colonial world. This Greek fringe on the coast of Asia Minor was known as Ionia. and had to take an oath never. they concentrated the most austere and pious elements of the Greek people. About the middle of the sixth century.

Xenophanes. if the universe was eternal. although he judiciously blended his science with some theological mysticism. maintained that there was only one God. Leucippus. God was conceived as people do today. “a sacred and unutterable mind”. besides showing men how to think without gods. About the middle of the fifth century. noted the repulsiveness of the legends about gods. and man as a part of Nature. moreover. and the democracy made him fly for his life for uttering such impieties. Democritus.225    studied Nature. At the same time these early thinkers observed much in astronomy. while completely rejecting all religion. Here was a promising foundation for science. contrary to the Babylonians. Anaximenes. In the fifth century BC. Empedocles of the Greek colony in Sicily. Leucippus and Democritus. in Greece itself. worked out an elevated system of humanitarian morals. of different shapes and sizes. and the next Greek thinker said that “the infinite”— not God. hit upon the idea that matter must be composed of atoms. and Pythagoras actually declared. without any directing mind. . Democritus developed this idea with real scientific genius. for the first time in the history of thought. They sought the first principles of things. a skeptic. the father of philosophy. unguided. gradually come together in the bodies we see today. that the earth revolved round the sun. but something hopelessly indefinite—was the first principle. The universe consisted of an infinite number of atoms. took air—an infinite quantity of air—as the starting point. The fourth. then there has been an eternal evolution of this element into the contents of the universe today. There arose a school of Sophists who took pleasure in contending that the mind could come to no valid conclusions whatever. but religion hampered its development and diverted thought to other channels. Xenophanes. led on to a belief in evolution. Another train of thought. thought that water was the original element out of which all other things came. The world was being interpreted on natural principles. Every one of these early Greek thinkers believed that. Heraclitus. They obtained some idea of the immense size of the sun and of the vastness of the universe. Thales. were the result of an eternal. another Ionian Greek. denied that the world was created by gods. which have. and the fact of evolution. not in abstract metaphysical formulae. said that the primordial element was earth. the existence of atoms. and they were good mathematicians. whose mind was a strange blend of mysticism and science. Protagoras talked about the gods even less respectfully than Confucius. All the contents of the universe. These speculations about the universe. Many of them visited Egypt. If there was no beginning. This was the birth of speculation about Nature and guesses were bound to be crude. and the doctrine was further developed by two of the boldest of them all. and there was one primordial element of all things. The third. and learned whatever the priests of Egypt could tell them. but in physical realities. Three very great principles had been fixed—the eternity of the world and its independence of gods. Then the religious revival took place. because it was an eternally changing substance. quite purposeless tossing and mingling of the atoms. including man. Anaxagoras took the speculations of the physicists to Athens. and not at all in religion. The fifth chose fire. had meanwhile led to skepticism. without the absurdities of the Babylonian creation.

to which they belonged—the democracy raged against them. Plato set a fashion which has not died. Plato has given them his own more mystical colour. an eternal spiritual being such as modernists now offer us. and therefore not a universal providence or a creator. Pythagoras. he was also a metaphysician. and he made a science of ethics and politics. His god. and traced everything good. Like Socrates. Socrates turned the brilliant race aside from the foundations of science which had been laid. was unconscious of sublunary matters. and Xenopbon. . He was put to death in 399 BC. or Supreme Mind. yet a strange mystic. true and beautiful to “spirit”. thousands of years before Christianity did. The verbiage that befogs the minds of people today is from this glorification of spirit and depreciation of matter. had preceded him. a Sophist and atheist. He summarized all the science of his time. the leader of a different line of Greek thinkers. In these circumstances Socrates. Life is too short for such difficult investigations. and provided feeble “proofs” of it. met death on the grotesque and false charge of corrupting the young men of Athens. materialist or spiritualist. Philosophy was to be profoundly religious. came upon the scene at Athens. Morality is a human matter. a man of the highest and most independent character. Its roots are in human experience. was the first man to denounce slavery. and these were more important and more worthy of the mind. Greek experience shows anyone’s philosophy of life. Unfortunately. Nor did he believe in personal immortality. Plato shows that monotheism could be reached without a gleam of revelation. This great thinker and moralist. His ideas are known only from his pupils. His system of thought is one of the most learned and original ever given to the world. the Greek who had first realized that the earth traveled round the sun. and he provided instead the bases of philosophy and ethics. What did it matter whether the ultimate principle was air or water or fire? Or whether there were atoms? What did matter was that human conduct should be effectively guided and that men should understand the real nature of justice and “the good”.  Both this man and Anaxagoras were great friends of Pericles. though for his time a great scientific man. The skeptical Alcidamas. and these skeptical ideas pervaded the whole group of artists and thinkers of the Golden Age. The materialist Democritus had as lofty sentiments as the mystic Pythagoras or the spiritual Plato. joined Plato in leading human thought astray. or metaphysics). and anticipated the ethic of Christ centuries before he was born. He believed intensely in the immortality of the soul. now laughable. Socrates wrote no works. makes no difference to their moral ideal. The atheistic Epicurus had as sane and sober a conception of character as the theistic Aristotle. and Protagoras in turn had to hurry from the country. Aristotle was far less mystic than Plato. In that sense Aristotle. not in religion. But—partly in political opposition to the aristocratic party. He thought that besides our knowledge of Nature (“ta physica”) it was possible to get a knowledge of things beyond the physical (“ta meta ta physica”.226    I cannot say whether they exist or not. Plato especially. religious or nonreligious. Religion was to become a philosophy. It begs the question whether the mind is or is not material. he believed in one God. He belittled matter and the flesh. in the second half of the fifth century BC.

all these thinkers were high moral idealists. and it produced Christ-like austere moralists such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. of these Roman millionaires. Scholars have been interested in calculating the actual wealth. The monarchy of the Macedonians overshadowed it. the wish for a quiet. passionless life. Ancient Rome is little understood except by scholars. or apart from Christianity. was his idea. Passing over schools of Pantheists. and Sophists. This philosophy inspired. in modern currency. and he was not the author and vindicator of the moral law. Rome was the second Babylon. The wealth of the Roman capitalists or rich men is much exaggerated. they had nothing to do with us. Zeno and the Stoics spoke of God but he was a material entity. The philosophy of Epicurus reflects the time. Epicurus was—contrary to the libelous. The preachers never tire of speaking of its vices—of which they know nothing—but some social writers have calumniated Rome because to them it was an awful example of capitalism. But Athens was now in full decay. The philosophers used to gather groups about them in their gardens or in public places. Wicked Pagan Greece produced a line of unsurpassed moralists. Morals In Ancient Rome  The ethical code of ancient Rome was mainly the Stoic philosophy of the Greeks. a strange mystery to Christians for whom there is only one ethical route in the whole universe. chose the Painted Colonnade (Stoa Poikile). in its more sober Roman form. gathering together all that the early scientists had said about the universe. the quiet life. ridiculous idea of his philosophy which Christian writers put into circulation— one of the most abstemious of men. the greatest humanitarian movement ever known until modern times. Hence the Stoic philosophy. The work of Greece was done. It kept educated Romans at a high level of character. in the Roman world. The . Athens was not so much the city of vice as the greatest morality making center the world has ever known. He built upon science. They confirm the impression that the population of ancient Rome was a few wealthy and unscrupulous men and a vast army of exploited and vilely treated slaves. If he was wrong at all. effective of moral systems was a dogmatic materialism! The Stoics ridiculed the idea of spirit and free will. and there is no other nation of antiquity except the Babylonian that is so often selected by preachers as an awful example of depravity before Christ. He spoke of gods as beings somewhere out in the abysses of space with whom a sensible man need not concern himself. Tranquillity. had nothing to do with religion. The law was an eternal part of Nature. Greek philosophy ended in the system of Epicurus. had fallen. which we are asked to regard as the indispensable bases of any moral conduct. and one of them. It was not a religion. The republic. Many of the misunderstandings about Rome arise from broad ideas that are false. he was a practical atheist. The work of civilization passed on to Rome. Cynics. Moral law was social law. Zeno. If there were any gods. His ethics.227    Yet. enfeebled by a long civil war. This austere and. it was in being too ascetic. and a man was urged to live in harmony with Nature. Like Buddha and Confucius. one of the sanest systems given to the world. It culminated in the Stoic School.

The Christian emphasis on sexual morality obscures the greater importance of justice and honour. led much more promiscuous lives as a group than the Pagan Roman emperesses. yet not sated. who have disappeared. a priest. There are men in America who could have bought up any of the richest patricians Rome ever had! In Rome. and the sins of Messalina had been perpetrated decades before! These are the things that get into the papers. writing about the Christian priests and ladies of Rome whom he knew well. Virtue. who were all Christians. the Byzantine empresses. who was nothing like as rich as Bill Gates. and rather less than men in the Middle Ages. Juvenal is generally the source of these scandals. than the set which patronizes actresses and models today. one tenth. in the words of the poet. Nor is he often giving contemporary news. though deplorable. but were the mass of Roman people more or less immoral than in a modern city? There were plenty of brothels (“lupanaria”) in Rome. It is to the reigns of these men that the preacher turns for his material. who have taken their place. Walking along a street. Though the Empress Messalina was notorious in that she went. and the more grotesque. is entertaining. In America. The richest man of Juvenal’s day might have exceeded the billion mark. In the same age. Vice. and during his reign morals declined among a certain section of society. The red light districts of modern Christian cities are no different. Ammianus Marcellinus. and. in disgust. though admirable. “tired. and in Rome it grew larger under the bad emperors. The Christian propagandist will assure us that the main source of immorality in Rome was the wealthy class. who writes to his flock that the virtues of the Pagans. Most societies have a jet set. Some of it might have been true. while slaves in the roof poured perfume and flowers on the intoxicated guests. shame the vices of the Christians. a prostitute behind a curtain might try to attract your attention. There is no reason whatever to think that this set was more numerous. of the population. in their marble mansions with cedar ceilings. There are no statistics but all the evidence is consistent with the assumption that the mass of Roman men were just about as immoral as men now are. when the clergy were nearly all immoral and some owned brothels. . described what he saw. Juvenal. proportionately. with men”. S Jerome says more about immorality. These men gave. He was a militant. night after night. banquets which were orgies of choice wine and naked Syrian girls. an old and severe soldier. Crassus would probably fall short of his first billion. Wild gossip was all grist to his mill. returned from his campaigns to Rome. to a common brothel to prostitute herself and return to the palace. or less. the more absorbing. writing in the next century. Yet he is unreliable because he was a propagandist intent on denigrating the upper crust. He wrote his famous Satires about the year 90 AD. Particularly telling is Salvianus. is uninteresting.228    largest fortune amongst them definitely known to us is that of Crassus. Vice has no great part in his account. or sets up mistresses in luxurious apartments. but Juvenal meant to tarnish the whole aristocracy. now and again a vulgar or half mad emperor came to the throne.

For one hundred and fifty years. New York and Chicago. They reflect circles in which vice is a thing not done by gentlemen. and that is more decently than they did in Christian times. in spite of technological differences. intrigue might get a man impeached at any time. much as they do today in Paris and London. and Persia. Under them the world made a humanitarian progress that has no parallel except in these secular days.229    In the small wealthy class at Rome. In the cities of Babylon. Most of the famous Roman jurists. Adultery was punishable by death in Roman law. Every single letter could have been read without a blush by Mother Theresa. This Roman world. who ruled for forty years during the most luxurious period of Rome. . which reflect the character of the circle to which they belong—the letters of Cicero. Seneca. and though this was rarely enforced. Stoicism and Epicureanism were the philosophies of life of refined Romans. they provided the material for the Christian religion. and such works as the Saturnalia of Macrobius. which gratefully accepted them then pretended they were its own all along. in Athens and Rome. and the world sank into barbarism within a hundred years. under the Pagan emperors. give us the true measure of Roman character. sternly enforced the law. In the first century AD. more than three hundred thousand orphans were reared in public institutions in Italy alone. Julia. The first emperor. Of the twenty nine Pagan Roman emperors twenty one were admirable men of good character. humanitarians of the highest character. Any real student of Roman literature will conclude that the great body of the men and women of Rome were as temperate and regular as we are. or read Stoic moralists like Epictetus. lt was generally fine. consequential on the appearance of a Saviour! Old civilizations were not in darkness and the shadow of death. became extremely popular in the Roman Empire and prepared the way for Christianity. to the extent that he banished for life his own passionately loved but libidinous daughter. there was less adultery than there is now or was in the Middle Ages. like the Greek world. the creators of European law. men lived. Emperors were Stoics. The average Roman gentleman was a firm believer in the doctrines of the Stoics. The older Roman religions was eventually suppressed and Christianity substituted by force for them. and Symmachus. Really intimate and reliable pictures are best afforded by private letters. Pliny. Octavian. Crowds followed Stoic orators like Dion Chrysostom. The Stoic philosophy had a wonderful influence in Rome. Egypt. produced moralists as good as any Christian. Rome had Stoic emperors whose ethical level exceeded any in the history of Christendom. Yet. In ethic and religious belief. the Asiatic religions which celebrated the birth of a saviour god in mid winter or the death and resurrection of a god in spring. No shining sword of marality divides the world into BC and AD. Their letters. a slave author who describes what is under his eyes in his master’s house. That was wicked Rome. were Stoics. and Marcus Aurelius. and eight only were bad or insane. Seneca.

 The  Christianity of fourth century was. bones. a reformer of Judaism. muscles. and was born again in Protestant Christianity.   Who Lies Sleeping?  Studying Belief in the Bible Is it possible that hadrosaurs were the cattle of the Cretaceous period. and yet was not. jealous of their tradition. the Christianity of the feudal Europe. the Christianity of the fourth century. internal  organs all had to alter.   Prof J A Froude. think about this…  The change to bipedalism required major changes in our ancestors’ anatomy. January 12. They had evolved as bipedal  animals. Short Studies: Origen and Celsus  © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Wednesday.230    Before you go. Dinosaurs did not need such drastic modification. Summary and Background The Christianity of the first century was. herded on the great plains before  being shipped to a Cretaceous Chicago for making into meat pies and hamburgers?   Who Lies Sleeping?  18. 2000 • • • • • • • • • • Judaism and the Jewish Scriptures   Alexandrine Judaism   Christianity   New Scriptures   Rome and Christians   Religion in Rome   Persecution   Paulinism   The Later Church   The Constant Church   Abstract  Christians believe that Jesus was an ethical teacher. and yet was not. The  Christianity of feudal Europe died at the Reformation. who was cruelly treated and  slain by the old guard. Ethically there was little in it that did not exist in  classical philosophy but it brought with it the features of the oriental mysteries that were already  popular in the empire and in particular the Jewish scriptures which impressed the Greeks with the sense  of purpose shown by the oriental God over an apparently long period of time.   .

These were bold moves and in justification they ascribed the changes to a traditional law giver. The Jewish priesthood at this time were really inventing Judaism under the protection of the Persian kings who had sponsored them to set up a theocracy provided they gave service to Persia. These . Thus Judaism was set up by the Persian kings. are called pseudepigraphs and are common in the JudaeoChristian tradition—indeed in eastern tradition generally. respectively Zoroaster and Moses.   A school of priests led by Ezra rewrote the legends of the old Hebrew cult. not Chaldaeans or Assyrians. They laid down the rules of the new religion with its temple and priesthood established in Jerusalem. though they drew upon Jewish legend. A tribal god. It was written either in Babylonia or in Palestine after the Persians set up the temple and attributed to Moses to give it authority. It could not therefore have been written by Moses some seven hundred years before. not really written by their supposed authors. was declared the God of all and a class of priests was formed to administer the new religion.231    Judaism and the Jewish Scriptures  Judaism differs from the tribal cult which preceded it. Ormuzd in Persia and Yehouah in Palestine. Its inspiration is the Babylonian and Persian monotheism brought from Mesopotamia from 586 BC which the Persian administrators imposed upon the original mythology. adding the extensive codes of law needed by a centralized priest-led religion. The prophetic works were later pseudepigraphs critical of the acceptance of cultural incursions by Greeks from the time of Alexander. Such books. Deuteronomy is certainly late because a sect of Egyptian Jews at Elephantine on the Nile did not know of Deuteronomy in the fifth century BC. The Persian kings at the request of the Jewish priests issued edicts to all Jews subject to Persia. Monotheism was at first esoteric but became popular through the efforts of Zoroaster in Persia and from there it influenced the civilizations of the two rivers and the religion of the Jews in exile.

The priesthood under the Greeks continued the universalisation of the religion. The first was the Book of Daniel written in 164 BC when Hellenism tried to subdue Judaism. They also knew they had a message relevant to their own time and spent much effort treating the books as allegorical—containing coded messages from God. Their authors were based on scriptural figures like Samuel. accepting the books as true history. Daniel. Their messages were directed not merely at the people but also at the official priesthood who were being Hellenized. though the real problem was the voluntary Hellenization that had been proceeding apace. according to dissenting sects that came to see Yehouah as an exclusive God. he was the Almighty God who rewarded righteousness. Daniel was a protest and a call to action against this forcible Hellenization. Apart from plainly late books like Daniel and Ecclesiastes. Pseudepigraphy was not merely a disguise but was meant to strengthen the message by having it uttered by a great man of the past. at least in part. Antiochus Epiphanes. Its real nature as history disguised as prophecy. legend and myth. the books being moralistic romances rather than precise allegories. in exile in Babylonia 400 years before. sending out men like John the Baptist and then Jesus as righteous leaders to bring the people back to the ways of their fathers. was . but the attack at the time of the author of Daniel was more direct. despite the elaborations of the Levitical code. modelled themselves on them and took it upon themselves to continue the tradition in a formal way. Like most of the Jewish scriptures. The enemies of Israel described in them stood for the Seleucid Greeks of Mesopotamia and Syria though not in any direct way. In the third century. It became the model apocalypse. punished iniquity and did not require sacrifice. but have been essentially rewritten with problems of the day in mind. Ezekiel and Jeremiah were written or adapted from earlier works by schools of prophets. the prophets had attacked in a veiled way the pervading influence of Greece. much to the annoyance of the dissidents. and its pantheon of strange Greek gods. The author pretended he was a seer. from the third century BC. the king of the Syrian Greeks putting a statue of Zeus in the Jerusalem temple—the abomination of desolation. Elijah and Elisha and would have been familiar as larger versions of the village hasid.232    pseudepigraphs were illuminating problems of the day from the third century BC not in the eighth century BC. not all Jewish. Later the writing of prophecy was superseded by the writing of apocalypses. They had little immediate effect but pious Jews like the Essenes revered them. called Babylon or Assyria. Its linguistic and stylistic uniformity suggest it was not written over thousands of years but merely a few hundred. they contain fragments of old history. the Hebrew bible is improbably uniform philologically for a library supposedly covering several thousand years. The Yehouah set up by the Persians was the god. apparently defying the whole raison d'etre of the Jerusalem temple and its priesthood. The books of Isaiah. possibly Essene or Hasidic. Foreign influence strengthened and with it collaboration and Hellenization. as a pseudepigraph. Thus they were essentially the work of dissenters. not merely of the Jews but of the whole world. called idols.

Perhaps it was the root from which the idea of a future life arose but the future life was conceived as a life on earth. Pophyry. Early Hebrew religious ideas reflected in Genesis had the notion of soul as the breath of life which. the Jewish Hades. who would triumph over all for God. national and individual justice being meted in fleshly life. fearing their rises and gloating over their falls. a kingdom of god led by Israel.   Daniel observes this and notes that the purpose of it was ultimately a world theocracy. The messiah was necessarily a triumphant figure but after the death of the Christian God in particular. a purified and renewed earth but an earth no less. God's Children as its priests and princes. though some might have been historical references to the Essene Righteous Teacher who was evidently murdered around 100 BC and added subsequently to the scriptures as annotations. God was the god of the living not the god of the dead and the zenith of prophetic writing concerned itself with life not after-life. the shade of the personality. scriptural passages which seemed to point to a suffering messiah were highlighted and the Rabbis conceived of a messiah ben Joseph who would suffer to account for them and wrote him into the Talmud. whose works are typically ”lost”.233    realized by a polemicist against Christianity. . the Book of Daniel offers an early philosophy of history. Otherwise there is no mention of a messiah ben Joseph in the Qumran sectarian literature. God rewarded the righteous by renewing their earthly body into an everlasting heavenly world. As Renan observed. Not that fears or superstitions of “ghosts”. But this was merely a shadow—it was no life. a son of David. The prophetic writers seemed to have no concept of immortality. they were nearly all personifications of Israel itself as a suffering people. unaware of God. The Jews stood in the way of all the great empires of the first millennium BC and were trampled by them in turn. The kingdom would be brought about by a messiah. In fact. They were ideally situated to note their rises and falls. after death became the shadow of the man meandering aimlessly through Sheol. lingering on earth before departing were not held in the popular imagination.

Personalized abstractions like Wisdom. This conviction was sufficient to allow worldly Jews to proselytize among the gentiles and seek ways of subsuming their world view to the Jewish. contained the true revelation of God. Philo expressed the product of the interaction around the time when Christianity was founded. Jewish thinkers were able thus to retain their conviction that they remained the people chosen for God's revelation when the Greeks had actually come to monotheistic views independently—or perhaps both had a common source in Persia. Naturally that was a boon to proselytizing Jewish teachers for they could direct their admirers to the sacred books. died and were mourned by their devotees before being resurrected. saw the East as the source of religious mystery and the Jews could feel they were fulfilling their destiny as the light of the world. Alexandrine Judaism  An important link between Judaism and Christianity was Alexandrine Judaism which was formulated in the cosmopolis of Alexandria where Jewish and Greek ideas came into intimate contact in the 200 years preceding the present era. as they do still. brought from the east were those in which a god suffered. the agent of the process of purification which only the righteous would endure. and expressing the basis of messianism. but even books in the scriptures—the Wisom literature—seem to show Greek influence. The concentration of sacerdotal energy at the Jerusalem temple was another obstacle to the spread of Judaism in the empire. both in the insistence on the sacrificial ritual and its complexity . Jews in Alexandria were able to avoid offence and participate in the debate with the Greeks by supposing that some elements of God's revelation to the Jews had passed into the Greek world through the Greeks' long-time interest in Eastern religions. Western people then. But diaspora Jews in the Roman empire spoke Greek and it was for them that the Jews of Alexandria translated the scriptures into Greek. The Sibylline Oracles were composed in Greek identifying the universal God with the Hebrew God. These popular religions of the time. and Philo attempted to elaborate them. The connexion was strong enough for Celsus to call the Christians. and not the mystery religions of Phrygia or Egypt. were punished by fire. assuming the superiority of Judaism and the falseness of other gods. The wicked among the dead are ignored or raised and punished. the Sibyllists. Some Greeks had therefore been able to arrive at a philosophic monotheism apparently through reason but really because the idea had come to them indirectly from God's revelation to the Jews. saying that they. Spirit and Word were conceived as the means by which God acted on the material world.234    First. Another factor was the translation in Alexandria of the Hebrew bible into Greek as the Septuagint. The wicked among the living which included most gentiles. Hebrew was dead in everyday use even in Palestine although its persistence in Judaea as a religious language still made its mark in common speech which was Aramaic. He and his saints would subjugate all the nations and submit them to the universal theocracy based on Jerusalem. God sent His messiah to judge and purify the world.

But the real victory could only come with the destruction of the temple as a ritual centre after the Jewish war in 70 AD. Christianity  A common stratum of the religions of the middle-east was that of the dying and resurrected god who manifested himself in several forms—Attis. the Christians. another concept brought in from “exile. Mithras. when circumstances prevented strict application of the law. . The Essenes had started the movement away from the temple ritual that the Christians completed. as Christianity has proved. Christianity arose by a merging of the two ideas.” The messiah would subjugate the nations which had oppressed Israel and set up a theocracy. In the scriptures Cyrus is regarded as a messiah. Jesus was a profoundly religious Jewish leader who made a deep impression on his faithful followers who were mainly apostate Jews who had adopted a largely Greek culture. Adonis. who were to assume the authority of the Jerusalem Church and add their own sacred books to the scriptures. Jesus was a defender of Judaism but not of the temple hierarchy and a rebel against the foreigners whose alien culture he abhored. he held strictly to the Essene interpretation of the law but also showed his followers that. The Jews also had the idea of a saviour king. This emotional appeal was particularly strong to women. Osiris. The idea of the messiah arose in exile when the people were despairing and then seemed to be realized when Cyrus the Persian destroyed the Babylonian oppressor of the Jews and allowed them to set up the theocracy they desired. he had to lead his followers in rebellion against the foreigner and the Jewish sycophants who pandered to them. it could be abrogated as a temporary measure as long as the man was pure of heart.235    and in the exclusivity of Jerusalem depriving others of the reassurance of a ritual contact with God. He meant to lead them to a kingdom of God through a revolution against the Roman enemy which he was certain would prove to God that His children preferred Him to the usurper. that the end of the sinful world was nigh. it did not entirely succeed and the emotional power of the dying god might have persisted as an undercurrent even at the height of temple worship. Judaism officially had no such god or hero but Christianity was to provide it. This was no loss to the Essenes and their progeny. collaborated with the gentiles or were plain sinners and wanted to be saved because they sincerely thought. Though the new religion of the Persian “returners” frowned on the reverencing of Tammuz and actively tried to suppress it. as did Jesus. triggered by the crucifixion of a revered apocalyptic leader who believed himself to be the messiah but died knowing that he was not. As irregular soldiers they could not always follow the strict requirements of the law and Jesus taught them not to fear God's annoyance in such circumstances because purity of spirit was more important than ritual purity. In trying to create the conditions that he felt God needed to prove Israel worthy of His intervention. and it is unlikely that the idea did not penetrate into Israel. In short. mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14 is proof that it did. The wailing of the women of Jerusalem for the dead god Tammuz at the city's gates. Tammuz.

even so far away as . Christians believe that Jesus was an ethical teacher. initially the mighty Roman empire.236    This temporary lifting of legal requirements. Christianity was never an ethical movement in its origins in the sense that Christians like to think it was—a movement to reform Judaism led by a charismatic ethical teacher who came to be seen as an aspect of God himself. Quite different was the teaching of Paul for whom the law was unimportant and Jesus an example of the dying and resurrecting god of the east whose teachings were irrelevant. He was transformed from a strictly Jewish revolutionary into a reforming universal ethical teacher. Often it is the omission of the scriptural reference and the retention of the context that makes them seem new. After about half a century Jesus's concessions to the needs of the hour had crystallized into a firm abrogation of the law for all. Christians then began to maintain that Jesus had been a reformer all along. who was cruelly treated and slain by the old guard. and the reforms allowed gentiles free access to the Jewish God. whether in its positive form or not. This combined with the Essene rejection of sacrifice and the temple ritual in favour of sweet scents and prayer amounted to the reforms desired by gentile godfearers. expecting the kingdom of God imminently. for practical reasons in revolutionary circumstances. Jesus. a strict upholder of the law became a liberalizer of strict Judaism for his gentile or Hellenized followers. and it was not hard for some of them. After Jesus's crucifixion. then adopted an outlook that subjugated freedom and personality to the state. and his followers accepted that the kingdom remained imminent even after his death. particularly that of the sect of the Essenes. The ethics of Christianity began with the ethics of post-exilic Judaism. Jesus's sayings are essentially scriptural though Christians like to claim that they have been given a freshness. He abhored the corruption and Hellenization of the temple. jealous of their tradition. his followers expected a long period of strife before the kingdom came. These temporary circumstances were extended until the original qualification on the suspension of the law was forgotten. was extended by the Christians into a permanent abrogation of the law. Jesus differed from the mainstream only in the sense that Essenes differed from them. a reformer of Judaism. And the myth has stuck. a strict Jew. Ethically there was little in it that did not exist in classical philosophy but it brought with it the features of the oriental mysteries that were already popular in the empire and in particular the Jewish scriptures which impressed the Greeks with the sense of purpose shown by the oriental God over an apparently long period of time. The Golden Rule is not exclusively Christian but exists in all major religions. as we might expect of a strict Jew. accepting that God preferred prayer to sacrifice according to the prophets. will have been surprised to find that he had become a reformer of the law. the early Christians. Otherwise he was an apocalyptic Jew. The sentiments of most of it were not even original to a Greek as Celsus pointed out. In ethical teaching. as long as the devotee was of pure intention. Such teaching of Jesus that we have is not original but. in return for protection. comes from Hebrew sources in the scriptures. Thus. not used to the strictest adherence to the law to use the continuing battle as an excuse justified by Jesus to backslide.

of which stories spread from Palestine. but the peculiarities of the transmission of Christianity from Essenism lost this history and made it seem as if Christianity sprang from the incarnation of one man.  . and can they have been expected to?—they had converted because of their faith! The evangelists converting them persuaded them that belief without proof was a virtue. a compassion not found in Christianity until Francis of Assisi a thousand years later despite Jesus's expression of God's concern for sparrows. the Jews. The faith of the early Christians was a confession that a certain Jesus. It came from the ideals of the monastic Essenes but had its equals among the Pagans who it must have seemed to have been imitating. guaranteed eternal life in a mystical kingdom of God. The discovery of the scrolls has allowed the connexion of the Essenes and the Christians to be pieced together. Paul sneered. were soon rejected as murderers of a god. Nor was the ascetic side of Christianity distinctive until it degenerated into fakirism. as promised by God in the scriptures. converts were not required to accept the teaching. These were simply the beliefs of the Essenes transferred to a messiah which had appeared rather than one which was expected. that of the Essene sectaries required devotees to live according to their peculiar interpretation of the Mosaic law and their own additional precepts. Indeed. and before long S Augustine was advocating persecution of those who were unwilling to join the Church because the servants of the Lord must: Compel them to come in. with a possible reference to the Persian religion: Does God take care of oxen? (1 Cor 9:9)  Nevertheless. These were ideals adopted by the Orphists who were strictly vegetarian out of compassion for animals. at least in the orthodox branch of the church. was the messiah—the Christ. The Essenes were likened by the classical writers to the Pythagoreans who did not drink wine or eat flesh and remained chaste. The earlier stage. This was soon moved to an entirely other dimensional world when the messiah did not return on cue. The gentile converts of Syria and Asia Minor could not check the stories. the link being the band of converts of backsliding and Hellenized Jews known apparently as Nazarenes. it was proof itself of the strength of their faith! Faith in this belief of the Jewish messiah's appearance.237    China. The original messengers. but to believe in the miraculous resurrection of the saviour. Indeed. The Essenes expected the kingdom of God to appear on earth but it was always a mystical kingdom because it was uncorruptible and free of sin—it was heaven on earth. It was found among the Greek writers and was noted in its negative form by the famous liberal rabbi Hillel a hundred years before the crucifixion. Unbelief meant destruction or even eternal torture.

The weight of evidence is not a chain of logic but accumulative. the “us” being. the general interpretaion is not thereby invalidated. The pericopes were partially.238    New Scriptures  The Christian community preceded its canon and its literature was selected from works which were often conflicting. mixed up. Alcmena. The explanation of the death of John the Baptist could be pure fairy tale but it has features which could be Essene so it is included. his mother. the Christian converts. religious based systems of the east. of course. And the first form of anarchy the tyrant rids himself of is opposition leaving the worse anarchy of the petulance of power. Rome and Christians  Not for the first time men were abandoning hard won democratic rights for authoritarian regimes over which they had little control. Mark was constructed as a series of pericopes or incidents which have been put together to form a narrative. . It was impossible. and men chose the Caesars rather than the Republic which was considered anarchic. but the criteria of inclusion were not truth and accuracy but whether they favoured orthodoxy or heresy. The Roman Republic had furthered the original ideal based on fifth century BC Athens but the statesmen of these later times saw that the system was in decline and tried to delay its end. some must be missing and some could be spurious insertions. One can attempt to explain them all but if one goes too far in one instance it does not invalidate the rest as a false link in a chain of argument would. There was interplay and overlap but the systems developed differently. Renan remarks on the terrible nature of the miracles in Mark's gospel. surely a reference to them being only thinly veiled in their violence. democracy. It was considered too dangerous to allow people to choose on merit the books they would like to read. In this translation. The Greek city states had developed a rational and humanistic form of government compared with the rigidly hierarchical. at first sorrows but when she realizes that her son had become a god equal to his father. had evolved differently from the absolutism and priestly cultures of the east. Jupiter. A parallel between the despair of the Nazarenes followed by their elation at their realization that the missing body meant the general resurrection had begun with its first fruits occurs in Seneca's Hercules Oetaeus. But it is not necessary to interpret every pericope correctly for the truth to be revealed. at least. she is triumphant. At the hero's death. like Theophilus. Probably the correct translation of the beginning of Luke is that it is a narrative of what is “most surely believed among us” rather than “fulfilled among us”. and control or expression. If it should prove to be pure fairy tale. the author of Luke frankly declares that the narrative is not history but what the first Christians believed. The pericopes are not necessarily in the right order and their meaning has been deliberately changed. The political form of civilization of the West. and had ascended to heaven.

Thus. Its ethos supported authority against freedom. Christianity took advantage of this political weariness and ultimately it survived the Caesars and the Roman empire. Christianity's reflexion of the organization of the empire in its own set up encouraged the idea and the perpetuity of the “divine right of kings”. The Caesars were respected against those who would defy them. absolutism returned first. Though sick of despots. Despite the persecutions of the emperors. Such practically minded men knew the predilection of the common people for fanaticism and religious frenzy. could not tolerate opposition. Chi expresses the modelling of Christ's institution on that of the Kaisar (Caesar). the Roman idea was to try to absorb foreign cults into the framework of the existing civic religion. Not that theocracy had been eliminated in the west for the Celtic kings and chiefs had been supported by the powerful theocracy of the Druids. as monarchy. The frightful tyranny of Domitian stimulated in the Senate a revival of interest in the Republic and the principles of liberty and the emperors of the second century temporarily reverted to republican ideals. republican in spirit. Human sacrifices had been abolished and as long as a foreign cult was otherwise respectable it was allowed to practise. but a thoughtful and generally logical system had mainly prevailed before giving way to the forces of absolutism radiating from the east. Marcus Aurelius repudiated Caesarism and a vision of a monarchy. philosophic opinion remained critical of it and even when Julian later attempted to revive Paganism he forbade violence from Pagans or Christians. with the triumph of Christianity. they had no will to return to democracy. though many educated Romans considered them as superstitions. most emperors were not absolute rulers in the eastern sense. So. limiting the absolutist tendencies of the Caesars. having to work according to the law and the common good. no doubt feeling in their ignorance and superstition that somehow God would curb the excesses of the emperors. though thought of as noble. Curiously the liberal emperors' only real blot was their treatment of the Christians even though Christians were the most sycophantically obsequious to the Roman authorities in all respects except worship. Romans condemned themselves to the dual tyranny of the Chi and the Kappa. Romans were proud people and could often be relied upon to respond to patriotic calls in the name of the Republic to defend Roman liberty.239    Under the early empire the Roman Senate retained some powers. Religion in Rome  In religion. rather than demanding liberty. and his successors were often worse. Through suspicion of political parties. . Out of Kappa. but Julius Caesar with his typical flair sought to have himself made Pontifex Maximus to utilize religious as well as secular power. Christianity arose shortly after the Roman republic had been overthrown in favour of the emperors. with the Caesars and then. as theocracy. prevailed into the third century AD. Under the emperors this liberty was lost for the bulk of the people as emperors became more capricious and civic life and justice fell apart. the absolutism of religion and monarchy. Julius Caesar.

Thus. Pageants and parades were controlled and served to release tension and enhance a life that would otherwise be dull and empty for many. and other Jews then it would be easy to suppose the instigator had been a man called messiah or Christ. a supernatural voice was heard in the temple proclaiming the departure of the gods (not God)! Few found this alarming because it was widely . He was not confirming the truth of it but merely stating it by way of explanation of who this sect were. rumours that were not infrequent as we know from the Acts of the Apostles. They were disliked for their exclusive stand on religious worship but always took to heart the rule of rendering to Caesar what was his. one of which was Christianity. Tacitus makes essentially the same mistake writing about the events of twenty years later. State officials would have been suspicious of eastern cults. the arrival of the messiah and purging of the world was imminent. In the seething tenaments of the Roman slums rumours were rife and trouble could flare up easily. Nero used the opportunity to rid himself of enemies whatever their religious or national origins. many of whom were Jews. probably Essenes. Plainly they were excitable and would react to rumours that the messiah had arisen. let alone the gentile races. The Essenes however regarded it as virtuous to remain apart from gentiles except for necessary commerce which they undertook only according to strict rules and under the eye of a mebaqqer. But the word Christian was used about the Essenes because they were messianists. This is the error made by Suetonius wrting about messianic disturbances in the time of Claudius which led to the expulsion of Jews from Rome which is found in the New Testament. Indeed from Juvenal. though it was a call to defy Caesar when Jesus first uttered it in Palestine. When Tacitus. some skeptical of and some believers in the messiah. and Christ is simply the Greek for messiah. the bulk of the people suffering being Jews. Tacitus knew the Christians of his own time and their own explanation of their origin in the crucifixion of a holy man in the time of Pontius Pilate the cruel prefect of Judaea. Tacitus might have disliked them but could hardly have described them as hating the human race. the persecution of Christians meaning followers of Jesus. there is a vestige of truth in Tacitus. Tacitus records that. he accuses them of “hatred of the human race” which should be sufficient to show that these were not Christians at all but messianic Jews.240    Civic religion had been tamed and brought within the confines of the state system. For messianic Jews like the Essenes. they could fairly be described as hating the human race. describes the Christians murdered by Nero after the great fire of 64 AD. If the troubles which led to Nero's excessive reaction were disputes between messianic Jews. and then to control them. and would try initially to suppress them. The one characteristic of the Christians of the time which was certainly true was that they were not interested in social or political opposition. writing about 120 AD. Since Essenes felt that even their fellow Jews were sinners and backsliders. Rome was a large city with a majority of foreigners in its population. before the fall of Jerusalem. Essenes. by Nero is almost entirely false. or guardian. Since Christianity stemmed from Essenism and the early Christians would have sought friendship in their mother sect.

only slightly discouraged by the events of the Jewish War. So. and the gentile bishops became masters at denying and distorting the true accounts of Jesus's unsuccessful revolution when it suited them. The Jewish religion was licit. Even Christian collegia were never declared explicitly and solely illicit though they were sometimes persecuted under more general rules. and variant sects like the Essenes habitually met to share a sacred meal. As an explanation of the scriptural references to a suffering messiah. There was nothing unbelievable in Pilate crucifying a man. The Christians had an almost identical view. Later it was only the Christians. Juvenal writing before this did not mention Christians at all implying only Judaism to have been prolselytized. provided that it was not involved in clandestine activity. just as the apostles were reported to have done. Those that were were collegia licita. it perhaps offered advantages to many messianic Jews and the godfearers who admired them. That could only be interpreted in political terms. that of Bar Kosiba. and continued to proselytize in the empire for many more years through two further Jewish revolutions until the third. Among the expatriot Jews were those of the Essene sect who were ever excitable about the prospect of a messiah emerging. the difference only being that they were expecting the return or parousia of their messiah to cleanse and judge the world. Each new college had to obtain authorization by proving to the authorities that it had no political objectives. Only in its earliest days would the church have been able to do this. it was tolerated even though it was illicit. or blaming explicit outrages on other messianic failures. he was remembered as cruel. For over a normal lifetime the Romans had crucified many Jewish rebels. . Once it had grown beyond a certain size. Jews remained optimistic that their destiny was to possess the world. Even the Jews joined in fraternities to celebrate the Seder in Jerusalem. led to such severe reprisals that Jews withdrew into that social exclusiveness from which they have yet to return. if innocent they were not treated as illegal. The Acts of the Apostles even mentions some of these.241    believed that the scriptures prophesied that the east would be strong and men from Judaea would possess the world. The Roman authorities were therefore suspicious of such circles as being bands of conspirators and demanded that they be registered. for about half a century after the Jewish war. once they had discovered and investigated an illegal gathering. Though the collegia were supposed to be authorized. none of whom had any but the most incidental success. legal gatherings. Such collegia were common among the devotees of the eastern religions like those of Dionysos and they could become politically powerful. even if they did not register. Fraternities for the sharing of certain mysteries were widely accepted in the empire. its administration and organisation declared it a reflexion of the Roman secular state. Jews in the diaspora continued to believe this. and yet it was not difficult in gullible times to dissociate Jesus from the true stories about him which some travellers brought back with them. Curiously at this time the Romans were so tolerant of sectarianism that. and those that were not remained illegal—collegia illicita.

The fairness of the second century emperors is shown by Marcus Aurelius who was philosophically a Stoic but who endowed chairs in all the schools of philosophy without favour to those he preferred himself. remained in Palestine and were destroyed without trace with the Jerusalem . Cases described as Christian persecution seem to be simply punishment of illegal acts. who was not a Palestinian Jew if he was a son of Abraham at all. The repression of Christianity is largely Christian myth and. The Chi of Christ was ultimately victorious with the Kappa of the emperor Constantine and the oriental court favoured by Diocletian was permanently adopted by the latter. in the Middle Ages. the east. as was the Senate earlier in Rome. The Greek influenced dynasty of the Parthian Arsacids gave way to the intolerant despotism of the Sassanids. The original branch of the Nazarenes was to die out. Paul travelled west and became well-known in the Roman empire. Paul is remembered better than the other apostles precisely because of his self-imposed task of evangelizing the gentiles. It labels the Senate as the enemy of Christianity while the despot was its friend. Significantly such persecution as did occur tempered as the absolutism of the emperors increased—from the time of Commodus on. Most of the other apostles. Keen to gain respectibility the new sect promoted its ethical monotheism and the purity of its morals as conducive to the obedience of Roman law.242    Persecution  At Antioch the converts to the new sect called themselves followers of “The Way” using the expression used by the Essenes of themselves in the scrolls. to the extent that it occurred at all. pushed by the Jewish War into the desert where it influenced Mohammed before succumbing to his revolution. the victor in the Jewish War. Paulinism  Paul. Legend has it that Peter was their first bishop. the ones who had known Jesus in life and possibly greater men than those we know of. saw the opportunities offered by the death of the popular rebel and began to tout it as a new religion combining the various elements mentioned above. Opposition to Christianity was based on Romans educated in the free schools. the last bastions against Christian totalitarianism in Greece in the sixth century AD. The justice of the punishment can be argued but mostly Christians were not persecuted for being Christian but for breaking the law. its basis remains unclear. the word bishop being the Greek translation of the Aramaic word also used by the Essenes for their community leaders. The Christians buttress tyrants with the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings and eventually. The fable that Tiberius wanted to deify Jesus officially but was stopped by the Senate was typical of the Christians' appeal to the absolute authority above the democratic one. Gibbon showed conclusively that Christians experienced no serious persecution before Diocletian and this was a last splutter of a weak candle. Absolutism was on the march even in its birthplace. both the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor could be called “God on Earth”.

For the Essene the messiah was a noble leader supported by God but. the apocalypse however being postponed until after the parousia. Faith is necessary but not sufficient for salvation. Faith for Paul was that the messiah had come in the person of Jesus. for example. Paul's trial before Annas. Yet his writing is littered with words and expressions favoured by the Essenes. Paul demanded that converts have “faith” that Jesus had come as “Christ”. Christ. the Greek word meaning messiah. but seeming to be arbitrary. we read: Every soul that will not hear the new prophet shall be destroyed.   He seems to have consistently denigrated the Jews. more so than any other New Testament writer. .243    Church. Paul was not an associate of Jesus and it appears he had little contact with the chosen Apostles. Christ and grace. It seems he must have been an Essene or so closely associated with them that he could pick up their argot. The original Jesus myth required Jesus to be resurrected because that was Essene belief—the righteous dead were resurrected into this life in renewed bodies which were incorruptible because earth had now been joined to heaven. He therefore became the hero of those gentile Christians who by the turn of the second century were departing from the Essenic beliefs of their founders. for Paul. preached abrogation of the law and propagated the saving power of belief in the dying and resurrected god. died and been resurrected. In Paul's outlook the decision of God seems much more whimsical. Grace for Essenes was holiness or piety which had to be practised without let by the righteous aspiring to the kingdom of God. other than Peter has any substance. He announced that God had given men “grace” to believe. was a new form of the god who died and in three days was resurrected to save believers—a god like Tammuz and Attis. None of the other apostles. The judgement was with God but Essenes trusted God not to be capricious in His judgements and so a life of righteousness and good works could be expected to be acceptable to Him. the final judgement being God's. are all favourites of the Essenes. It is possible that some of Peter's experiences have been transferred to Paul in the Acts of the Apostles to boost the apostle to the gentiles. though Paul gives them a new meaning. faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 is purely apocalyptic. God decides whether faith has been true enough but no one knows what the criteria are. and we know much. Having done so he used it ostentatiously perhaps aware that it gave his speech a prophetic quality and gave him a suitable gravitas. much less about Peter than we do about Paul. Paul himself seems to have evolved from having an apocalyptic outlook to being gnostic. In Acts 3:27. The faith of the Essene was that God would gather the righteous into His holy kingdom under the leadership of His messiah. Jesus was the first of the righteous so to rise and thus proved that the kingdom of God was beginning. These three key words.

Isis and Horus. In John's gospel we find essentially the same concept as a pre-existent Logos. the original believers accepted the resurrection as just that because they were Jews and that was the earliest tradition. . Paul seems to have served the three years required of an Essene novice but never to have completed the novitiate. rejected all the chosen apostles. the apostles being depicted as doing absurd and revolting things to prove that Jesus was indeed flesh and blood and not a ghost. hoping to rid Christianity of its Jewishness. an emanation of God that was God. at the same time! They composed the Nicene Creed. Regrettably. He could not wholeheartedly accept the notion of a resurrection of the flesh and compromised with a tendency towards docetism that was later picked up by the gnostics in their philosophical mythology. He had been brought up in a Greek city not a Jewish one. This has been written into the gospels. The Fathers of the Church had succeeded in excluding women but they left a void into which popular devotion eventually placed the Virgin Mary who began to take on the attributes of a goddess.244    Paul it seems had his doubts about this. whereas the female gender of the Hebrew word suggested the femininity of the idea. which the gospel immeditely identifies with Jesus Christ who was also the Son of God. the third aspect of which was the Holy Ghost. Both the orthodox Church and the gnostics wanted to appropriate Paul but his inclination towards docetism led to his adoption as the Father of Christian Gnosticism. Thus the Father and the Son were united in the Logos yielding two thirds of the Trinity. and instead the theologians worked overtime on some nifty verbal dance-steps to allow Christians to enjoy three gods and one. and was probably a Jewish proselyte or first generation Jew rather than of the seed of Abraham as he claimed. Basilides and Marcion. For them there was only one apostle. Was Paul known not to be a true Jew? That he was favoured by those who hated Jews might help confirm our suspicion that he was no son of Abraham. Philosophical speculators of the time liked trinities and they had a respectable ancestry in trinities of Gods like the Egyptian trinity of Osiris. His epistles show him to be inclined towards “docetism”. He had difficulty in accepting that putrified flesh could be renewed. Paul. Paul had virtually invented the divine trinity. eastern mystery religions and Jewish apocalypticism. “the Apostle”. the female principle was lost in this because the Holy Ghost was conceived of as masculine or neutral in sex. The orthodox Church took this to be the proper tradition and they opposed docetism. The Church's investment in Jewish tradition and monotheism was too strong to allow the Hebrew God to spalate into three fragments. the belief that the risen Jesus was a phantasm that only seemed real. Always syncretic. The use made of him by the gnostics led to his being derided in the second century by some as the “Apostle of the Heretics”. His training and upbringing had made him familiar with Greek thought. The Jews of Alexandria knew of a personified creative reason called the Logos or the Word which was a mediator between God and man. Christianity could not allow such an attractive prospect to pass by. Of course.

In the epistle 2 Peter 1:20. The importance to success of having clear objectives is illustrated by the triumph of Catholicism. The Later Church  In the sixth century AD. In the east. This was the system that succeeded in the fourth century in becoming the only religion of the empire—the culmination of the syncretism of the emperors. in a sense. The fact remains that the Christian Church nominally came out on top and it did because it had set out to do so as the partner of the secular power. The mob were ignorant and hostile to learning and. Perhaps nothing would have been substantially different if the winner had been the church of Mithras or Isis because the political objective had been to bring them all together as a mighty state religion. the system was that of absolute theocracies of unshakeable internal strength. It was not until 1917 that an eastern theocracy was overturned by rebellion rather than by an external enemy. Soon heresy and schism were to be denounced as crimes to be punished not by God in judgement but by men with torture. tyranny was upheld. though mostly they were also not interested in Christianity. The practical minds of the church office holders enabled them to fulfil. Believers had to believe what they were told. the evangelist forbids any novice to interpret scripture himself. the other-worldly threats and promises of its creed impressed their superstitious minds. The unforgiveable sin against the Holy Ghost of Jesus and the Essenes became defiance of church authority. Imperial contenders were offered support in return for which the church hierarchy demanded favourable treatment for the orthodox and persecution for opponents. The gnostics were seeking a philosophic religion allowing for great variety and putting emphasis on personal revelation. And what was achieved? The philosophy of personal servility to the almighty state which the Bolsheviks introduced was merely more of the same. To make your own . slavery was endorsed. The ideas of enlightened minds that had conceived of freedom and emancipation were quashed. The Catholic church set out to become the Holy Roman Empire—not the German Bund invented later to replace the lost Western Empire but a religious Roman empire in parallel with the secular empire of the Caesars. women were subjugated. dual political systems arose with the secular and spiritual arms of kings and bishops. pie in the sky was promised in compensation to the oppressed provided that they suffer silently on earth. not what they themselves read. Against the power of the autocrats the Pagan schools ahd been unable to disseminate knowledge and had remained exclusive.245    The objectives of the Catholic church and the gnostics were always quite different. the intolerance of Christianity had its ultimate triumph over the long standing classical quest for knowledge of the Pagan schools. Combined with the Church's readiness to administer sustained torment to dissenters in God's name assured it of victory against more critical minds. Old Roman laws against witchcraft and magic were invoked against devotees of rival religions whose gods were called devils. age old prophecy and rule the world as a modified Jewish priesthood. In the west.

The plain and simple reasoning of mere men with their gift for thought had to supply the rational and moral basis for the assertions of the revealed religion. Perhaps Plotinus saw the church merely as deceivers with no intellectual substance but saw the gnostics as having intellectual pretensions. because the words for them did not exist or because such language was too arcane for popular consumption. If it was. However the neo-Platonists stayed starkly divided from Christianity in believing that the allegorical adventures of gods and heroes were never real. Even after the victory of the church. the story is not true as history or science. others saw it as a valuable asset and sought a philosophical framework to support the mythology. The Paulician heresy was stamped out with brutality and atrocity for they held gnostic beliefs. Justinian closed the Pagan schools and stole their endowments.246    interpretation might have been heresy. In Alexandria. the library was burnt to a toast. and thus profoundly were to affect Christianity at its incipient intellectual growth points. . Plotinus in the third century founded the last of the great Pagan schools in the midst of the growth of Christianity. of whatever class or status. Freethinking was proscribed. They enrolled in the schools and learnt about Platonism and Stoicism from them before they were eventually closed down. but the point should never be lost in the myth. Though Christians like Marcion would have liked to have been shot of the Jewish tradition. saying: I anathematize those who say that Zoroaster and Buddha and Christ and Manichaeus and the Sun are  one and the same. In many scriptural myths it is not hard to educe the moral. They distinguished myths from history and science. Plotinus saw no merit in the gnostics regarding everyone other than themselves as having no divine spark. Primitive people were perhaps unable to express themselves in abstractions. groups called Paulicians after some unknown leader called Paul but glad to be associated with the “Apostle to the Heretics” survived in pockets and had their effect in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. and one is faced then with the decision about whether the moral was the original purpose. They therefore illustrated their important truths with myths. The new philosophy seems to have been favoured by intelligent Christians for whom the barbarism of ritual and creed were unsatisfactory. but saw in them Platonic elements. We know of no books of Plotinus that attack the church. To expose any such heresy legitimate proof could be had by torture—no person was safe. Myths were useful in illustrating a point. a “treason against God. and its philosophy became known as neo-Platonism.  The Manichaeans followed the earlier gnostics in following Paul. conscience was not “the most exacting confessor and it only can forgive your sins” as Kant was later to say. Only the Greek schools had the erudition to supply it—neo-Platonism supplied the theory of the immaterial soul. The gnostics had also lost out and those compelled to join the universal church had to curse their former affiliations. although gnosticism is attacked. indeed possessed by devils. Since then much that passes for Christianity is really Platonism or Stoicism. the Christian concession to democracy! In Greece.” For Christians.

had incarnated on earth as the Son or Christ. Sheldon. it was primarily Jewish. Even today long into a scientific revival. the second part of which. Four centuries later. Highlighting the ignorance of Christians. if it is not an anti-gnostic insertion. Christians have ignored whatever messages Jesus seemed to have had in favour of Paul's message. Simplicius.247    What though was to be the higher. Jesus who has the message in the gospels became Jesus who was the message in Paul. so Christians learnt about Christ mainly from whatever the first Christians deemed were prophecies of him in the scriptures.   Justinian. apparently. It shows the astonishing power that the shaman has over society. out of a need not to ignore religion. Ever since.   Whether Paul. pocketing their funds. as you do. scientists feel obliged to make selfconscious references to God or to biblical myths of no scientific relevance. The Constant Church  Elizabeth Maclaren (The Nature of Belief. Matthew's gospel was a modification of the basic collection of stories about the historical Jesus in Mark to highlight scriptural prophecy. and hypocritically ignored their own innumerable divisions about subjects of such practical importance as how the godhead was to be understood. living and dying as a man called Jesus—meaning Saviour—whose presence on earth united humanity with God. In short. God existed as the Trinity. the doctrine was that . renewing for themselves the verbal gymnastics of earlier times.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. a Christian expounded a treatise on this text saying: Philosophers set forth opinions without harmony or congruence. he said they understood nothing of what they had read. By the twelfth century. offering them the benefit of immortality. who always wanted money like most Christians since Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 Paul writes: If any man thinketh he is wise among you in this world let him become a fool. First century Christianity was Judaism for gentiles except that the appearance of the messiah in the form of Jesus heralded the kingdom of God. meant this literally or metaphorically. First century Christianity was based on the Jewish scriptures. a philosopher of the neo-Platonist school of Athens fled to Persia hoping to continue the Pagan tradition. In the sixth century. rational philosophy or the superstitions of a popular religion? The answer was superstition and rational thought was relegated for a millennium to the footstool of a religion which revered images of a human sacrifice suffering torture nailed on a cross. 1976) shows how Christian faith has altered over the centuries. Science was lost and absurd arguments on angels and needles replaced them for the duration of the Dark Ages. the Logos. it was taken literally by Christians. purely. that he may become wise. accepted that the philosophical schools were useless and closed them down. A surprising number of scientists remain Christian. The gospels were written later in the first century and were not in general circulation until the second.

so far as its claims to truth are concerned. fascism. God sent his son to die for man's sins. yet. Some of the parallels between it and them become dangerously close. Straussism. they meet problems:   • • • • • • • The Inquisition. is considered by most  modern Christians as barbaric. or any other ideology used by a narrow elite. though liberal Christians are pacific. and it seems fair to ask with Ninian Smart (The Phenomenon of Christianity. is in the same boat as Marxism. for the Western liberal Christian. Thus divine justice is done and Satan is foiled as long as people accept the sacramants of the Church! In the twentieth century.   Christianity began with communistic ideas of property ownership. under Protestantism. and imposing the need to send out  missionaries to “save” them.   Slavery was once approved by Christianity but now is not. Collins 1979) what the Amish of Pennsylvania have in common with the Zulu Zion. Once they look beyond the rabbit's foot. has  promoted capitalism and the exploitation of the earth. Christianity too has murdered opponents in large . God does not intervene by miracle— nothing is supernatural—but Jesus exemplifies love and the purpose of life.   Traditional Christianity. Instead.   Sexual freedom was always decried by Christians but today few see much harm in it. and now exists in as many varieties as there are believers.   Christ was the putative Prince of Peace. once the organ of the Christian God's divine providence. Christianity too has re-written history to suit itself. and.   Crusades were once considered the Christian armies out to save the world from the infidel. but  few people today can see them as anything other than bands of savage xenophobic robbers off  to the east to plunder Christian and infidel alike.000 denominations of Christianity. which Jesus expressed in the mythology of his time in a message of love and liberation that transcended his death and continues to be interpreted today. most priests  and bishops will happily serve as military chaplains and bless armies and battleships.   Many modern Christians can see only intolerance of the cultures of others in the Christian  doctrine of considering other religions as heathen and false. Christianity has changed continuously in the last 2000 years as culture has changed. Jesus has become everyone's personal Good Luck Charm.248    humanity had sinned against God in arrogant pride and ought to have had the treatment experienced by the generation of Noah. God is the focus of life and hope. to those looking at it from outside. There are around 30.

 have slowly evolved by natural processes from a succession of more ancient beings. that people found something worth believing. like bad odours. November 14. Please advise me now  because God says.  As I have to wear reading glasses. think about this…  An evangelical wrote his minister thanking him for explaining God’s Law… “Now I remind liberals  defending homosexuals that God. after 2000 years. Can its justification be any different. and all  the other species. and the Christs of faith began  to rise. from the corpse of the Jesus of history. Moreover. however. are always  tendentious. in Leviticus 21:20. the rebel was acclaimed as God.  Bonus  Finding History in the Bible Only nine per cent of Americans accept the central finding of modern biology that human beings. or is any crime acceptable in the interests of the Christian God? These examples illustrate that Christianity amounts to believing anything! To be able to believe anything is to believe nothing. These. a process or metamorphosis took place by which  the proclaimer became the proclaimed.  with no divine intervention needed along the way. often contradictory and sometimes demonstrably wrong. Christianity is meaningless and it is time. says it is an abomination.  Within the movement which sprang up after his death. Before you go. I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. am I sinful to take Holy Communion? Thank you again for reminding  us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging. in Leviticus 18:22. In the quest for the historical Jesus there  . he endured the ignominy of a Roman crucifixion. Instead. the events Jesus  prophesied in them did not come to pass.249    numbers. 1999 • • • • • • • • The Slippery Christ   Three Quests   Historical Evidence   First Quest   Albert Schweitzer   Rudolf Bultmann   Ernst Troeltsch   A New Quest   Abstract  The four gospels are our chief source of direct information about Jesus.  The Quest for the Historical Jesus 1 © Dr M D Magee Contents Updated: Sunday.

Since people see in them what they want. creator of the universe. Today’s Christian is certain that the essential message of Jesus was not to go around conquering in his name but that we should love one another. our chief source of direct information about Jesus. often contradictory and sometimes demonstrably wrong. the “infinite variety” of the forms it can take and the changing ways in which. not because he was an awful tyrant who murdered his wife and was so hated by the population of Rome he had to move his capital to a different city. but because he obtained the throne with God’s supposed help in sending the miracle of a cross in the heavens saying “Conquer by this”. The roots for this saga are the four gospels. western European Christian of today is likely to be chary of the Emperor Constantine.  as long as the exasperated doubter gives up the quest and remains within the fold of the believing flock. however. who made Christianity the official religion of the Empire. Jesus is credited with few sayings about love for one’s fellow .250    are more bad odours generated by Christian scholars than feasible pictures. Believers always convince themselves that they—and usually they alone—have come face to face with the “true” Jesus.   The Slippery Christ    The history of Christianity is remarkable for many things. including the cosmic Christ. are always tendentious. the Jesus they yield “resembles a set of paintings more closely than a photograph”. was less sure. the Christ crucified of the medieval world.  A survey of the quests for the historical Jesus. C H Dodd. the mystic “bridegroom of the soul”. over the last 20 centuries men and women have seen Jesus. According to medieval scholar and Christian. Yale University Press. Jaroslav Pelikan (Jesus through the Ages. but Christians do not mind. The biblical scholar. A liberal. Even so. He pointed out that. Christ as the prototype of the Renaissance “universal man” or the Enlightenment’s “teachet of reason” and the modern resurgence of Christ the liberator. his story becomes rather thin in the modern era when the Jesus of history began to dethrone the Christs of faith. in the gospels. a mirror might be a more accurate analogy. These. People have offered a bewildering variety of pictures of Jesus. not least for the resilience of the faith despite vast historical changes. and worshipped him as “the Christ”. 1985).

One apologist argues: If the expression the real Jesus is used at all. Interest in the historical Jesus signifies a failure of faith. but not historically. like bad odours. and the Christs of faith began to rise. he endured the ignominy of the Roman crucifixion. The Christian’s claim to  experience the “real Jesus” in the present. as long as the exasperated doubter gives up the quest and remains within the fold of the believing flock. the Romans. Instead. moral).251    men. In the quest for the historical Jesus there are more bad odours generated by Christian scholars than feasible pictures. For them. consider research on the historical Jesus as demanded by historical inquiry and the need to reach an adequate theology. and what he does say would have been commonplace among first century Pharisaic Jews. there has only ever been one quest. from the corpse of the Jesus of history. Such  a Jesus is not “real” in any sense. If he did his part and the Jews repented. He called upon Jews to repent. The Jesus that emerged from the historical work was a Jew of his time—a time when the Jews were in rebellion against the foreign oppressors. then God would respond by sending the angel Michael and his heavenly armies to defeat the Satanic Romans and join heaven and earth together as a home for the righteous. and to make ready for this divine intervention in which. . though. can be  challenged on a number of fronts (religious. on the basis of religious experience and conviction. but Christians do not mind. Three Quests  It is fashionable these days to speak of three “quests” for the historical Jesus. of course. But usually Christians say they are concerned with a living Jesus not a historical one. theological. ignorance is bliss. except as a product of scholarly imagination. Honest people. it should not refer to a historically reconstructed Jesus. Within the movement which sprang up after this death a process or metamorphosis took place by which the proclaimer became the proclaimed. and it will continue while the supernatural Jesus is claimed by Christians to be historical. as the signs multiplied. he saw himself as playing the role of liberator or the earthly saviour of the Jews. Jesus was an Essene who expected from the signs of the times the literal coming of the Kingdom of God in the lifetime of those whom he addressed.   The quest for the historical Jesus is therefore valueless to evangelical Christians whose beliefs do not depend on historical facts. The urgency of his message was elsewhere. But the events he prophesied did not come to pass. the rebel was acclaimed as God. some of them Christians.

it is only Christology. Belief in him is a form of MPD. This is not much of a base for a history of Jesus. The narratives. in the three synoptic gospels. No gospel writers witnessed the events they describe. of little historical worth and that overlaid with mythology. who is considered to have initiated the “first” quest. The reason is that the Christian Jesus is obviously not historical. Jesus. and should be treated in the same way—by psychiatry. John is seen as essentially independent of the others. but this is true of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. The hypothesis that makes best sense of the relations among the gospels is that Matthew and Luke independently used Mark and another source Q. The gospel of John is not narrative. and his ministry lasted about a year and a half. The biblical quest for the historical Jesus is confined to the three synoptic gospels. for rational historically minded people. Nevertheless. none for a battle of Jericho where the walls could . none for the flight from Egypt by the Israelites. No archeological evidence has been unearthed for the Mount Sinai where Moses was said to have received the Ten Commandments.252      It always has been for most Christians because no priest or preacher wants to spill the gravy boat and no punter wants to lose the fantasy of their imaginary friend. so the quest will be an eternal merry-go-round. and the third or modern quest having been founded in the seventies with Jewish scholars and some skeptical Christians prominent. and heavily dependent on the hypothetical pre-Christian document called “Q”. and broadly it was the very first Jesus offered by Reimarus. because no Christian will accept history. The primary sources are still the four gospels. It will be impossible ever to get a consensus on what the life of the historical Jesus was. Historical Evidence  Little external evidence supports the biblical evidence of the historicity of Jesus. the second having been launched by Bultmann and those of his era. the quests have led to a good idea of who the historic Jesus was. add up to only thirtyone days of Jesus’s life.

we would say they were insane. The Romans are on one bank of the Rhine. or used boats. and this is where the Christians are able to obfuscate. the Dead Sea Scrolls have revealed to anyone not besotted by the lies of Christian “revelation” the true source of the beliefs of Jesus. The Christian scriptures are equally unreliable history. The first to undertake a scientific investigation was the German orientalist Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) who wrote a 4.253    not have come tumbling down because the town had no walls at that time.   they stood on the backs of whales. we still have lacunae to fill. they are on the other bank. if that is all we know. but it received little attention until Strauss published his own famous work fifty years later.   Plenty of Jesuses can be imagined but few of them meet the criteria of feasible history and most can be discounted.000 page manuscript titled The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples. Since the middle of the twentieth century. First Quest  The first historical quest of a Jesus unadulterated by theological mud came out of the eighteenth century Enlightenment. Gotthold Lessing published it posthumously in 1774. So we get Christian scholars coming up with theories: • • • • • • • • • the Germans pretended to be Romans. It aimed to use the Jesus of history as an ally in the struggle against the tyranny of church dogma and power in setting belief and practice. . Nevertheless. however.   they were not Romans but were Vikings. if someone said the river parted and they were able to cross dryshod. Yet that would be the Christian answer. the theologians come up with a mass of unfeasible answers just to leave the faithful saying: “I might as well believe what I’ve always believed. That a miracle happened is not.   the Romans walked under the river. The historian would boringly say that the Romans built a bridge.   aliens took them over. The scrolls not only revealed a diverse Judaism which freely employed dualism more familiar to us from the language of earlier Mazdaism and later gnosticism.   they did it by mirrors. They have also stimulated new attention to the works of Josephus and Philo. none for David. In the quest for the historical Jesus. and so on. Solomon. An analogy is this.   they went via the Behring strait. Nevertheless. that the waters parted”. A little later. How did they get there? The true answer is. none for the military conquest of Canaan.   they tunnelled under. Reimarus like Copernicus being worried by the consequences. and have to make judgements where there are gaps.   they flew over. both feasible answers. but also they alerted us to diversities in understanding Torah. and so on. we cannot say for sure how they got over the river.

and Luke and Nicodemus plotted how to bring this about.   None of the miracles happened.   Jesus performed no miracles. Joseph Ernest Renan (1823-1892). but no more.   The birth stories are literary inventions. He concluded that: • • • • • None of the gospel writers was a witness of the events they discussed.   The Frenchman. mentioned in scripture. It emerged new from these failed expectations.   Jesus spoke as a Jew—Christian readings cannot be attributed to him.   The story of Jesus calling twelve disciples is not historical.   Every story prior to Jesus’s baptism is a fabrication.   Karl Friedrich Bahrdt (1741-1792) wrote a fictitious life of Jesus but one with clever insights. He learned that he must die. Jesus retired to the Essene community where he died in old age.   Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) wrote a life of Jesus in which he concluded: • • • • • Matthew and Luke copied from Mark and added nothing new to the story. After a few physical appearances.   His notion of the Kingdom of God was the messianic expectation of Jews at the time. Jesus was reared by the Essenes and studied Plato and Aristotle under Greek teachers. They rescued Jesus from the tomb and Luke’s medicine brought Jesus to health.   He was a man not a god. Jesus’s life rests on  one person who was not a witness.   The gospel of John contains no historical material at all. The Christian religion did not grow out of the teaching of Jesus. David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874) published a two volume life of Jesus. His Life of Jesus emphasised the unhistorical gospel of John which prompted Albert Schweitzer to comment: . He performed no miracles. followed with his Vie de Jésus in 1860 in which he romanticised Jesus as a great moral teacher.254    Reimarus saw in Jesus of Nazareth a Jewish messianic revolutionary whose failure led his followers to steal his body and create a new story of Jesus based on aspects of Jewish messianism.   All the writings of Paul are fictitious. His major points were: • • • • • We should draw an absolute distinction between the writings of the later church and what Jesus  might have said. and in later life became a senior brother of the Essenes.   The gospel of John is a complete fabrication. In 1835. revised in 1839. Strauss argued that one needed to unravel the historical Jesus from the overlaid myths and miracle stories of the evangelists. and again in 1864. like Socrates.   The Jews did not expect a Messiah and Jesus did not claim to be one. Their accounts were  second hand.

concluded that a biography of Jesus was impossible. The initial questors were rationalists trying to discredit traditional Christian teaching. This was a hugely important discovery for Christians who ever since have been able to say that any historical Jesus is merely a reflexion of its author’s prejudices and can be discounted.  At the turn of the 20th century Heinrich Julius Holtzman developed the theory of Mark’s priority as the first gospel of the synoptics and argued that we can know the historical Jesus by unravelling the connexions and borrowings between the gospels. in The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ. had revealed new insights into Palestinian Judaism—a prominent trend had been apocalyptic. who tried  and failed in a mistaken mission to bring in the kingdom of God. He argued that as the Jesus of history was inseparable from the Christ of faith and yet since the New Testament mainly concerns itself with the latter as does the church—and it is this Christ that has influenced history. scholars should only be interested in the Christ of faith.   There is no history of Jesus that can be discovered. Counter quests were Christian theologians hoping to to fend off the criticism by building from theological bricks a “real Jesus”. It seems that any Christian version is not a product of prejudice and must be accepted. There is nothing more negative than the results of the critical  study of the life of Jesus”. He found previous questors had fashioned Jesus according to their own worldview.255    There is scarcely any other work on the subject which so abounds in lapses of bad taste… It is Christian  art in the worst sense of the term… There is insincerity in the book from beginning to end. 1896. Schweitzer concluded: • • • Jesus was an eschatological Jewish leader. and:   “In the last resort this book can only express the misgivings about the historical Jesus as  depicted by modern theology.  Nineteenth century research into the so-called “Pseudepigrapha” of the Hebrew Bible. He reviewed and exposed the fallibility of the previous lives of Jesus and the problem of whether anything could be safely known about him. convinced the world was in the End Time.   The quests had been fruitless. No one had properly recognised  this.   Martin Kähler. He firmly denied that it was: …possible to describe the historical figure of the one from whom Christianity derives its very name and  existence in such a way as to satisfy all just claims of scrupulous historical critical investigation. He concluded: I regard the entire Life of Jesus movement as a blind alley.  Albert Schweitzer  Albert Schweitzer published his The Quest of the Historical Jesus in 1906. The teachings and activity of Jesus could not be honestly examined without reference to Jewish . The result of the latter was a Jesus whose message of a “spiritual kingdom” was that of nineteenth century German Protestantism.

256    eschatology. although it is entirely future. the coming of the Kingdom of God. wholly determines the present… because it now compels man to decision”. unlike modern Christian “scholars” he did not try to escape from his honest conclusions. since the early Christian  sources show no interest in either. Rudolf Bultmann  In his treatment of the historical Jesus. whether reconstructed from the gospels or Paul. as Schweitzer knew: The historical Jesus will be to our time a stranger and an enigma. the gospel of John is the preferred one. irrelevant.  What can be known by examining Jewish tradition of the time is Jesus’s message. though nominally Christian. his “word”. he would be institutionalized. the concept was one of a cosmic battle. Many features of the early church. but one that has to be interpreted existentially: “the Kingdom of God is a power which. was psychologically sick. This Jesus is foreign to Christians. the gift of the Spirit (meals. claim to be the only begotten Son. He upheld Johannes Weiss who had convincingly shown. as a medical doctor in Africa. Schweitzer himself hated the idea but. in 1920. he abandoned devotional for practical Christianity. resurrection. Jesus and the Word.  Since Schweitzer recognised that Jesus was an eschatologist. Rudolf Bultmann thought it a happy conclusion that: We can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus. and his words must only have been an interim ethic which had nothing to offer us. are moreover fragmentary and often legendary. Nineteenth century scholars concluded that a Jesus who would curse fig trees. The recognition of Jesus’s “thoroughgoing eschatology” is Schweitzer’s unassailable contribution to scholarship. In the first century Jewish milieu. and illegitimate. and supernatural deliverance of the elect from temporal earthly existence.   The historical quest is impossible. The earliest community beliefs also could not be honestly disconnected entirely from the beliefs of Jesus and his disciples before Easter. Albert Schweitzer wrote The Psychiatric Study of Jesus to refute these claims that Jesus was mentally unbalanced and that if he were alive today. baptism). Bultmann concluded: • • • The Christian proclamation (kerygma) will never be confirmed by historical investigation. Jesus was a first century Jewish leader intent on seeing in the cosmic victory of God over evil. No modern Christian commentator likes to think about it. involving ideas of the last judgment. and pretend to perform miracles. because it answers too much.   . that Jesus taught pure eschatology.   Since the message is in the myth. Eschatology. a “miraculous eschatological event”. in The Preaching of Jesus concerning the Kingdom of God. has been lost in fairy tale ideas like that of “the Rapture” based upon Thessalonians. only make sense against the background of eschatological expectation: resurrection. and the continuing anticipation of God’s imminent intervention.

being the Word of God and so they too are utterly divorced from any historical situation. Historians cannot deal in certainties. By analogy. Ernst Troeltsch  Ernst Troeltsch saw the historical method of analysis as having three essential features: probability. Nothing occurs in isolation and the likelihood of an event occurring has to be judged in the knowledge that it can be influenced by other events. it only is because it will be the end of humanity. Christ the Center. The Christian life means turning away from the world. From the rule of correlation it is idle for Christian or Jewish theologians to claim that Jews invented the concept independently. But Barth was an alien as far as the natural world was concerned. Rudolf Bultmann and others accepted Kähler’s conclusion that faith could not depend on the historical Christ. They discover events with a degree of probability attached to their likelihood. . Barth with Paul Tillich. because it divorces a fixed set of events entirely from their realistic setting. The natural world was irrelevant to him because only Christ was important and Christianity was the “end of all religion”. a scholarly “quest of the historical Jesus” is impossible and theologically illegitimate because it substitutes worldly proof for faith. (1960) concluded that. The inhabitants of the hill country of Palestine had no knowledge of an Evil Spirit until after they had been colonised by the Persians who already had an Evil Spirit in their cosmogony. If that is so. are familiar with and have some estimatable degree of attestation.000 able-bodied men left Egypt in the Exodus. such analysis might tell us what others thought Jesus was like. or in making the world a better place. it looks impossible that anything like 600.257    For Bultmann. The dogmatic viewpoint of traditional Christianity violates all this.  Is it surprising the world is a mess when it is run by people of this teeth grittingly irresponsible philosophy? Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book. not the ultimate accolade that Christians suppose it to be. The probability of an event has to be judged by analogy with such a similar event occurring today. At most. Christian authority stems from its very falseness in historical terms—it is separated from history in practice despite the claimed historical setting of the mythical stories. analogy and correlation. if we did find an historical Jesus. The simple fact of the Christ event— that God acted—sufficed. The world thereby might be saved. about whom nothing could be known. it would show that Christian faith had been an illusion. He agreed with Bonhoeffer that nothing in historical investigation could add anything to faith. We should take this as the severest warning to us. Correlation is the principle that events influence each other. in times we know. Karl Barth preferred not to participate in the quest for the historical Jesus. In The New Testament and Mythology he concludes: The Christian life does not consist in developing the individual personality. Christianity cannot be judged only on its own claims about itself but in the wider context of human history. Its pronouncements are absolute. Troeltsch says it is invalid to place all emphasis on one event to the exclusion of others because all relevant events have to be judged equally by the same set of rules. in the improvement of  society.

and is full of just the errors and contradictions that a human work copied by hand for many generations would contain. and it therefore forms the basis of Christian faith. The latter can be made to look wonderful but will not feed anyone.258    Its appeal is to the supernatural. It has zero probability of occurring. A genuinely dead and already decaying man being resurrected would certainly be a miracle by any standards. the sphere of the human imagination. In brief. while using electrical appliances and modern medicines. Only by eliminating the likely possibilities can the miracle be given credence. not the other way around. A virgin birth would admittedly be pretty miraculous. It is its impossibility that makes it a miracle. it is so miraculous that few scholars and many ordinary Christian believers do not think there ever was a virgin birth. such as someone surviving a severe fire or fall are not miracles although they are called miracles in popular usage. if God produced a miraculous book. Even Rudolf Bultmann said that it was impossible to believe in demons and spirits. and Troeltsch shows that it is therefore not history at all but romance based upon loyalty to a church or purely subjective inner experiences. after all. and he set in motion the “New Quest of the . declared the Lord of the Church could not have had no historical existence or he would have been completely mythological! Interest in the historical Jesus was theologically valid. it has none to anyone except those who will believe despite the evidence. A New Quest  In 1953. Spectacular single events. one of Bultmann’s students. should we have trouble. Salvation history is supernatural history. The only justification for the doctrinal basis of Christian tradition would seem to be miracle… for only  such a belief can save it from being a contingent part of the ongoing fabric of history. then believers have to explain why everything that can be learnt by scholarship about the bible shows it to be the manufacture and composition of human beings. Ernst Käsemann. None of the “miracles” in the bible are well attested unless the miracle of the bible being the very word of God is true. mistaken or crooks than that the event happened. why did he not ensure that it was miraculously distributed without errors? Christians believe the New Testament because they are Christians. not history. If it is. even the most trivial—but that it cannot happen in Nature without God’s intervention.   John Bowden   Critics of Troeltsch accuse him of not knowing what to do with a miracle if one happened because his method rules them out. Nevertheless. in a famous address to the annual gathering of the “old Marburgers” (the Bultmann school). The point about a miracle is not that it is unique—all events are unique. but it is such a poorly attested miracle that it is much more likely that the witnesses are deluded. as Christians are expected to. History is like the fruit of a real tree but salvation history is like the fruit of a tree drawn on a piece of paper. As it stands. A miracle simply cannot happen. though scientists might be able to think of a peculiar set of natural circumstances that could lead to one. Troeltsch’s ideas help us to distinguish the two.

Around 200 people have participated to discuss. In Luke.  Omitted were the references to the meek. 13:20 the parable  of the leaven 16:1 the parable of the shrewd manager. But the scholars gave credence to the Gospel of  Thomas and used it to confirm or deny Jesus’s words. but criteria were needed to settle the authenticity of Jesus’s sayings. “if we are to seek that which is most characteristic of Jesus”. “Render unto Caesar the things that are  Caesar’s”. and recognising that the kerygma of the church emerged from an eschatological message. such things as would be “new and startling to Jewish ears”. then vote with beads on historicity. The Jesus Seminar agrees that: …way less than 25 percent of the words attributed to Jesus were his. poor and sad. 13:33 The parable of the  leaven in the flour. because its underlying assumption—that Jesus was deliberately being different from contemporary Jews—is what Christians want to hear. the only part of the Lord’s Prayer  were the words “Our Father”. Plainly this criterion begs the question.   4. “go the second mile” and “give your shirt”. the scholars of the Jesus seminar concluded that 82 percent of the words ascribed to Jesus were not actually spoken by him: 1. Not much survives and even the Lord’s Prayer goes.   2. became a typical Christian confusion of true inquiry.259    Historical Jesus”. and sad” 6:27 “love your  enemies” 6:29 “turn the other cheek”. The only words in the gospel of Mark were 12:17. The only words in Matthew were: 5:38‐39 “Turn the other cheek”. based on scholarly investigation. dubbed by Norman Perrin.   3. Critical analysis such as form criticism would allow information about the historial Jesus to be found in the gospels. 22:21 “render unto  Caesar… “ None of the Sermon on the Mount was accepted. “the criterion of dissimilarity”: The earliest form of a saying we can reach may be regarded as authentic if it can be shown to be  dissimilar to characteristic emphases both of ancient Judaism and of the early Church. the scholars accepted: 2:20 “Blessed are the poor. The premise that the authentic Jesus was to be found not in his Jewish context but in whatever was different from it. Robert W Funk. An assessment is appended to each: . and only three of the beatitudes: the hungry. it will be found in the things wherein he differs from Judaism. 20:1‐15 The parable of the workers in the vineyard.  Or. About 90 percent of Jesus’s sayings are found in contemporary Jewish teaching. Bultmann had already formulated one such criterion. leaving just 10 percent for the real Jesus. calling scholars together to offer an alternative to the fundamentalist pictures of Jesus in American society. pure in heart and peacemakers.   Donald A Wells explains that the following assumptions were made by the Jesus Seminar to begin its analysis. Nothing in the gospel of John was accepted. 10:30 the  story of the Good Samaritan 11:2 only the word “Father” in the Lord’s prayer. merciful. hungry. founded the Jesus Seminar in 1985.   In fact.

 refused confession.  Eusebius. The Church Father. think about this…  A provost of Paris. J Huizinga tells us. and Luke are assumed to be literary narratives and not history. but the many more  who had the same views but died unconscious or fevered will have been given the Catholic sacraments  anyway. All of it is oral tradition. It was assumed that Jesus was not an eschatologist (he did not believe in the imminent end of  the world). he would have been an heretic.  All writing is literary. Mark.   7.    . Agreed. hated the clergy. Mark. The Synoptic Gospels: Matthew. He plainly was. Paul never read the  gospels. Since Paul had never met Jesus. and Luke are more reliable than John in separating the  legendary and the mythical from the historical Jesus. They also might have been heretical. The most likely passages are those consistent with an oral rather than a written tradition. his conjectures cannot be the basis for any facts about  Jesus.   4. thus dying a Catholic whatever they had believed in their lifetime.   2. Nonsense. Total nonsense.   5.  They might as well say the Jewish tradition is no help because it was founded before the birth  of Jesus. we ought not put much too emphasis on the  particular words. Agreed. Jesus plainly was an Essene and the Jesus Seminar wants to count the truth out at  the start. Far too sweeping.   Before you go.   8. Since the oldest gospel manuscripts in our possession were written 175 years after the death of  Jesus. The gospel of Mark is the oldest and Matthew and Luke copied from it.260    1.   6. Paul’s writings were in circulation long before the first gospel appeared. mocked church ritual. and did  not keep Easter. and since every scholar who copied a manuscript added marginal notes which subsequent  scholars commonly added to the body of the text.  Meaningless. Meaningless. Agreed. All the gospels were widely circulated for many years anonymously and were later given  authorship names by persons unknown to make them more acceptable. He means “fiction” which is too sweeping. Agreed. The Dead Sea Scrolls are of no help since they were written before the birth of Jesus. had stated (300 AD) that Christians would not accept a writing as authentic unless it  had been written by a famous person. Matthew.   9. In earlier times. A few noblemen are recorded as  having refused extreme unction at their death.   3.

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