Testimonium Flavianum: The Jesus passage in Josephus is a forgery, says expert – D.M. Murdock

D.M. Murdock / Acharya Sanning“In the end, it can be argued convincingly that the Testimonium Flavianum as a whole is a forgery and therefore does not provide evidence for a historical Jesus of Nazareth crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate.” – D.M. Murdock

Titus Flavius JosephusThe passage about Jesus Christ in Jewish historian Josephus’s writings (Antiquities 18.3.3/63) has been debated for centuries, as concerns its authenticity totally, partially or not at all. This brief Testimonium Flavianum (TF) is put forth by Christian apologists as the “best evidence” for the historicity of Jesus, but it has been declared many times to be a forgery in toto. A recent study by a renowned linguist confirms this analysis of the entire passage as an interpolation by a Christian scribe, likely during the fourth century.

The most popular view of the Testimonium these days among critical scholars is the “partial interpolation theory,” which posits that a number of Christian-sounding phrases were inserted into the passage, which is nonetheless original to Josephus. Nevertheless, many scholars, historians, researchers and writers over the past centuries have held to the analysis that the Testimonium in toto is an interpolation into the text by a later Christian hand.

Most of the reasons for questioning the TF’s authenticity can be found in my book Who Was Jesus? and articles “The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled” and “Does Josephus prove a historical Jesus?” Suffice it to say that there are a dozen or so scientific and convincing arguments against authenticity, including its abrupt introduction into the text and its omission in early Christian writings, as well as its pious language.

However, this pious language is not simply part of the supposed Christian insertions postulated by the partial interpolation theory but is present in the entire passage. The recent linguistic examination of the Testimonium’s original Greek shows the assessment Prof Paul J. Hopperof the entire passage as an interpolation to be correct, as it gives other scientific reasons to view the whole TF as a Christian profession of faith, rather than a report by a sober historian.

The author of this study published in 2014 is a professor of Humanities at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Paul J. Hopper, a longtime scholar who has been publishing peer-reviewed articles in journals for over 40 years. Hopper’s linguistic analysis of the TF in his article “A Narrative Anomaly in Josephus” is definitive and adds significantly to the numerous other arguments against the passage’s authenticity evinced over the centuries.

In this regard, Hopper comments:

It is suggested that the Jesus passage is close in style and content to the creeds that were composed two to three centuries after Josephus.

He further explains:

The Testimonium itself is, when compared to the surrounding episodes, unusually short. Its very brevity is a suspicious feature, one that has led some defenders of its authenticity to suggest that while parts of the text are genuinely Josephan, the text has been tampered with by later Christians wanting to erase scandalous content.… In fact, however, the syntax of the Testimonium does not display the kinds of discontinuities we might expect to find if substantial changes such as major deletions or insertions had been made.

Here the linguist states that the syntax or arrangement of words and phrases of the TF shows no sign of either removals or insertions, the former put forth to explain the TF’s brevity and the latter as in the partial interpolation theory.

After discussing the history of TF criticism, Hopper concludes:

There is, then, reason to suspect that the Jesus episode is a later insertion, dating from more than two hundred years after Josephus’s death, and probably absent from most manuscripts of the Jewish Antiquities until even later.

Jesus the New ApolloThe Testimonium’s syntax and morphology indicate it was written as an apology or profession of faith, rather than a historical report. The passage seems to be addressing criticisms, as if written for those who had challenged Christian doctrine at some point after the religion had been established. Its structure reflects protest, and “Methinks it doth protest too much.”

The problems with the TF, therefore, go beyond a few Christian-sounding interpolations and extend to the syntax of the sentences themselves. To wit, they are composed not in typical narrative styles, but resemble more closely the writings of early Church fathers and apologists of succeeding centuries.

As concerns plot, the TF as a whole represents a summary of the gospel story, as recounted in the New Testament, not drawn from separate historical reports or oral history. As Hopper remarks:

… It is from the Gospels, and the Gospels alone, that the Jesus Christ narrative in the Testimonium draws its coherence and its legitimacy as a plot, and perhaps even some of its language. It is not just that the Christian origin of the Testimonium is betrayed by its allegiance to the Gospels, as that without the Gospels the passage is incomprehensible. … The Testimonium does not so much narrate to first century Romans new events, but rather reminds third century Christians of events already familiar to them.

The evident Christian context of the TF speaks also to genre or category of subject matter, likewise examined by Hopper, who states:

The Testimonium is anchored in a radically different discourse community from that of the rest of the Jewish Antiquities. The Testimonium reads more like a position paper, a party manifesto, than a narrative….

Nicaean CreedAgain, the Testimonium Flavianum as a whole sounds like a Christian “political statement,” creed or profession of faith, precisely as so many have averred in the past.

Hopper next says that the “closest generic match for the Testimonium is perhaps the various creeds that began to be formulated in the early fourth century, such as the Nicene Creed (325 CE).”

Hopper’s linguistic analysis is yet another nail in the Testimonium coffin and should convince fence-sitters, although Christian apologists likely will never relinquish this “best evidence” because without it their claims to historicity are threadbare indeed.

In conclusion, Hopper states:

The narrative grammar of the Testimonium Flavianum sets it sharply apart from Josephus’s other stories of the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate. The most likely explanation is that the entire passage is interpolated, presumably by Christians…

In the end, it can be argued convincingly that the Testimonium Flavianum as a whole is a forgery and therefore does not provide evidence for a historical Jesus of Nazareth crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate. – Examiner, 9 February 2015

See also

» A longer and more in-depth analysis of Paul J. Hopper’s work on the Testimonium Flavianum can be found at Josephus’s Testimonium Flavianum Examined Linguistically: Greek Analysis Demonstrates the Passage a Forgery In Toto. See also Jesus passage in Josephus a forgery.

» Dorothy M. Murdock, also known by her pen name Acharya S, is an American author and proponent of the Christ myth theory. She writes books, and operates a website named Truth be Known. She argues that Christianity is founded on earlier myths and the characters depicted in Christianity are based upon Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and other myths.

Jesus of the Gospels: A mythological figure – Chris Sosa

Chris Sosa“The arguments Christian scholars offer in favour of Jesus’ existence, from Flavius Josephus to later figures like Tacitus, and Justin Martyr, all disintegrate upon close examination. Dan Barker gives a strong argument against their proposed ‘evidences’ of Jesus’ existence in his excellent book Godless.” – Chris Sosa

Jesus the Imaginary Friend America has a curious fixation on the perspectives of Jesus Christ in the formation of public opinion, especially on prominent issues of social values. In recent days, protesters have taken to defending opposing moral positions by claiming Jesus held their viewpoint. Aside from the obvious problem of using a single historical figure as a moral barometer, there’s another troubling issue at hand: Folks are arguing about the opinions of an ancient person without stopping to verify his existence.

Allow me to explain. I’m not explicitly arguing there couldn’t have existed a man named Jesus who had a handful of followers, although that isn’t outside the realm of possibility. But the Jesus of Christianity presents some challenges in being understood as a literal figure within history.

Let’s begin with the largest problem: There does not exist a singular Jesus of the Bible. Each of the Gospels (and for that matter the writings of Paul) present a portrait of Jesus that disagrees with the others on basic facts, starting with the circumstances of his own birth.

When was he born? That’s a trickier question than it should be. Grab a bible and read along. According to Luke, that would be during the first census of Israel by Quirinius, governor of Syria (Luke 2:2). According to Matthew, that would be during the reign of Herod the GreatHerod the Great (Matthew 2:1). The problem? Quirinius’ census got underway in 6 CE. Herod had been dead for a good decade. Apologists occasionally try to wiggle their way out of this one by manipulating the text. But serious scholars, including believers, acknowledge the discrepancy.

Let’s check out the resurrection of Jesus. The oldest Gospel, Mark, does not say that Jesus resurrected at all in its original form. The resurrection was added at a later date. Most bibles even footnote within the text that the resurrection portion does not appear in the “earliest manuscripts.” My childhood bible, an Evangelical-approved NIV translation, actually drew a line dividing the portion from the rest of the text.

All four Gospels do reference an empty tomb. But not a single one agrees with the others on who actually saw it (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 23-4, John 20). Mary is either alone, with another Mary, also with Salome or maybe with Joanna too? It seems we’re dealing with an unreliable narrator.

We’ve established that no one really has a clue what year Jesus was born or who exactly discovered his supposedly empty tomb after he died, assuming anyone did at all. But surely everyone can agree on his ascent to Heaven, right? It was a rather fantastical public display.

Bible & CrossUnfortunately, the Gospels can’t even agree on this. In Luke, his ascension occurs in Bethany the day he resurrected (Luke 24). In Acts, a canonical book of the New Testament, he ascends from Mount Olives forty days after resurrecting (Acts 1). Oh, well.

While all of these discrepancies are highly problematic, at least Jesus remains a figure of consistent character throughout the Gospels. Or not. The character has an ethical sensibility that could be described as “confused” at best.

None of the contradictions by anonymous Gospel writers negate the existence of Jesus. However, since no coherent vision of his life exists, it doesn’t seem all that important whether he lived or not. But let’s press on for curiosity’s sake.

What about the historical evidence for Jesus? We’ll check in with New Testament scholar and James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Bart Ehrman. I bet he can clear this up.

There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death – even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era – there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time – the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.” (pp 56-57 of Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium) 

Attis of PhrygiaMany Christian scholars will scoff at the preceding paragraph. But the outside arguments they offer in favor of Jesus’ existence, from Flavius Josephus to later figures like Tacitus, and Justin Martyr, all disintegrate upon close examination. Dan Barker gives a strong argument against their proposed “evidences” of Jesus’ existence in his excellent book Godless.

I could go on for hundreds of pages about the contradictions and historical problems of the Jesus narrative. But it’s quite unnecessary. The Jesus of Christianity is clearly a mythological figure. He’s not even an original. – HuffPost

» Chris Sosa is a managing journalist for Inside.com. He previously served as a national editor for EDGE Publications.

» See New Research: Josephus’s Testimony Examined Linguistically Demonstrates the Passage a Forgery in Toto

The evidence for a historical Jesus just doesn’t add up – Raphael Lataster

Raphael  Lataster“The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith. These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them.” – Dr Raphael Lataster

Jesus by El GrecoDid a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth? Discussions over whether the figure known as the “Historical Jesus” actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists. Believers, who uphold the implausible and more easily-dismissed “Christ of Faith” (the divine Jesus who walked on water), ought not to get involved.

Numerous secular scholars have presented their own versions of the so-called “Historical Jesus” – and most of them are, as biblical scholar J. D. Crossan puts it, “an academic embarrassment”.

From Crossan’s view of Jesus as the wise sage, to Robert Eisenman’s Jesus the revolutionary, and Bart Ehrman’s apocalyptic prophet, about the only thing New Testament scholars seem to agree on is Jesus’ historical existence. But can even that be questioned?

The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith.

These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them. The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify.

Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.

Paul burning books at EphesusThe methods traditionally used to tease out rare nuggets of truth from the Gospels are dubious.

The criterion of embarrassment says that if a section would be embarrassing for the author, it is more likely authentic. Unfortunately, given the diverse nature of Christianity and Judaism back then (things have not changed all that much), and the anonymity of the authors, it is impossible to determine what truly would be embarrassing or counter-intuitive, let alone if that might not serve some evangelistic purpose.

The criterion of Aramaic context is similarly unhelpful. Jesus and his closest followers were surely not the only Aramaic-speakers in first-century Judea.

The criterion of multiple independent attestation can also hardly be used properly here, given that the sources clearly are not independent.

Paul’s Epistles, written earlier than the Gospels, give us no reason to dogmatically declare Jesus must have existed. Avoiding Jesus’ earthly events and teachings, even when the latter could have bolstered his own claims, Paul only describes his “Heavenly Jesus”.

Even when discussing what appear to be the resurrection and the last supper, his only stated sources are his direct revelations from the Lord, and his indirect revelations from the Old Testament. In fact, Paul actually rules out human sources (see Galatians 1:11-12).

Also important are the sources we don’t have. There are no existing eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most of whom are obviously biased.

TacitusLittle can be gleaned from the few non-Biblical and non-Christian sources, with only Roman scholar Josephus and historian Tacitus having any reasonable claim to be writing about Jesus within 100 years of his life.

And even those sparse accounts are shrouded in controversy, with disagreements over what parts have obviously been changed by Christian scribes (the manuscripts were preserved by Christians), the fact that both these authors were born after Jesus died (they would thus have probably received this information from Christians), and the oddity that centuries go by before Christian apologists start referencing them.

Agnosticism over the matter is already seemingly appropriate, and support for this position comes from independent historian Richard Carrier’s recent defence of another theory. Namely, that the belief in Jesus started as the belief in a purely celestial being (who was killed by demons in an upper realm), who became historicised over time.

To summarise Carrier’s 800-page tome, this theory and the traditional theory – that Jesus was a historical figure who became mythicised over time – both align well with the Gospels, which are later mixtures of obvious myth and what at least “sounds” historical.

The Pauline Epistles, however, overwhelmingly support the “celestial Jesus” theory, particularly with the passage indicating that demons killed Jesus, and would not have done so if they knew who he was (see: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10).

Humans – the murderers according to the Gospels – of course would still have killed Jesus, knowing full well that his death results in their salvation, and the defeat of the evil spirits.

JesusSo what do the mainstream (and non-Christian) scholars say about all this? Surprisingly very little; of substance anyway. Only Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey have thoroughly attempted to prove Jesus’ historical existence in recent times.

Their most decisive point? The Gospels can generally be trusted – after we ignore the many, many bits that are untrustworthy – because of the hypothetical (i.e. non-existent) sources behind them.

Who produced these hypothetical sources? When? What did they say? Were they reliable? Were they intended to be accurate historical portrayals, enlightening allegories, or entertaining fictions?

Ehrman and Casey can’t tell you – and neither can any New Testament scholar.

Given the poor state of the existing sources, and the atrocious methods used by mainstream Biblical historians, the matter will likely never be resolved. In sum, there are clearly good reasons to doubt Jesus’ historical existence – if not to think it outright improbable. – The Conversation, 15 December 2014

» Dr Raphael Lataster is Tutor in Religious Studies at University of Sydney and the author of There Was No Jesus, There Is No God.

Julian the Apostate presiding at a conference of Christians.

It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind
the reasons by which I was convinced that
the fabrication of the [Christians] 
is a fiction of men composed by wickedness.
Though it has in it nothing divine,
by making full use of that part of the soul
which loves fable and is childish and foolish,
it has induced men to believe
that the monstrous tale is truth.
– Emperor Julian (331–363 CE)

Five reasons to suspect that Jesus never existed – Valerie Tarico

Nativity Display Vatican 2014

Dr Valerie Tarico“The arguments on both sides of this question—mythologized history or historicized mythology—fill volumes, and if anything the debate seems to be heating up rather than resolving. A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. Since many people, both Christian and not, find it surprising that this debate even exists—that credible scholars might think Jesus never existed—here are some of the key points that keep the doubts alive.” – Dr Valerie Tarico

Joseph with the Infant Jesus by Guido ReniMost antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.” In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.

For over 200 years, a wide-ranging array of theologians and historians—most of them Christian—analyzed ancient texts, both those that made it into the Bible and those that didn’t, in attempts to excavate the man behind the myth. Several current or recent bestsellers take this approach, distilling the scholarship for a popular audience. Familiar titles include Zealot by Reza Aslan and How Jesus Became God by Bart Ehrman.

But other scholars believe that the gospel stories are actually “historicized mythology.” In this view, those ancient mythic templates are themselves the kernel. They got filled in with names, places and other real world details as early sects of Jesus worship attempted to understand and defend the devotional traditions they had received.

David FitzgeraldThe notion that Jesus never existed is a minority position. Of course it is! says David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All. For centuries all serious scholars of Christianity were Christians themselves, and modern secular scholars lean heavily on the groundwork that they laid in collecting, preserving, and analyzing ancient texts. Even today most secular scholars come out of a religious background, and many operate by default under historical presumptions of their former faith.

Fitzgerald is an atheist speaker and writer, popular with secular students and community groups. The internet phenomenon, Zeitgeist the Movie introduced millions to some of the mythic roots of Christianity. But Zeitgeist and similar works contain known errors and oversimplifications that undermine their credibility. Fitzgerald seeks to correct that by giving young people interesting, accessible information that is grounded in accountable scholarship.

More academic arguments in support of the Jesus myth theory can be found in the writings of Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Carrier, who has a Ph.D. in ancient history uses the tools of his trade to show, among other things, how Christianity might have gotten off the ground without a miracle. Price, by contrast, writes from the perspective of a theologian whose biblical scholarship ultimately formed the basis for his skepticism. It is interesting to note that some of the harshest debunkers of fringe Jesus myth theories like those from Zeitgeist or Joseph Atwill (who tries to argue that the Romans invented Jesus) are from serious mythicists like Fitzgerald, Carrier and Price.

Isis & Horus / Mary & JesusThe arguments on both sides of this question—mythologized history or historicized mythology—fill volumes, and if anything the debate seems to be heating up rather than resolving. A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. Since many people, both Christian and not, find it surprising that this debate even exists—that credible scholars might think Jesus never existed—here are some of the key points that keep the doubts alive:

1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef. In the words of Bart Ehrman: “What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death – even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era – there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time – the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.” (pp. 56-57)

2. The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts. Paul seems unaware of any virgin birth, for example. No wise men, no star in the east, no miracles. Historians have long puzzled over the “Silence of Paul” on the most basic biographical facts and teachings of Jesus. Paul fails to cite Jesus’ authority precisely when it would make his case. What’s more, he never calls the twelve apostles Jesus’ disciples; in fact, he never says Jesus HAD disciples –or a ministry, or did miracles, or gave teachings. He virtually refuses to disclose any other biographical detail, and the few cryptic hints he offers aren’t just vague, but contradict the gospels. The leaders of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem like Peter and James are supposedly Jesus’ own followers and family; but Paul dismisses them as nobodies and repeatedly opposes them for not being true Christians!

Liberal theologian Marcus Borg suggests that people read the books of the New Testament in chronological order to see how early Christianity unfolded. “Placing the Gospels after Paul makes it clear that as written documents they are not the source of early Christianity but its product. The Gospel — the good news — of and about Jesus existed before the Gospels. They are the products of early Christian communities several decades after Jesus’ historical life and tell us how those communities saw his significance in their historical context.”

3. Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts. We now know that the four gospels were assigned the names of the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not written by them. To make matter sketchier, the name designations happened sometime in second century, around 100 years or more after Christianity supposedly began. For a variety of reasons, the practice of pseudonymous writing was common at the time and many contemporary documents are “signed” by famous figures. The same is true of the New Testament epistles except for a handful of letters from Paul (6 out of 13) which are broadly thought to be genuine. But even the gospel stories don’t actually say, “I was there.” Rather, they claim the existence of other witnesses, a phenomenon familiar to anyone who has heard the phrase, my aunt knew someone who . . . .

4. The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other. If you think you know the Jesus story pretty well, I suggest that you pause at this point to test yourself with the 20 question quiz at ExChristian.net.

The gospel of Mark is thought to be the earliest existing “life of Jesus,” and linguistic analysis suggests that Luke and Matthew both simply reworked Mark and added their own corrections and new material. But they contradict each other and, to an even greater degree contradict the much later gospel of John, because they were written with different objectives for different audiences. The incompatible Easter stories offer one example of how much the stories disagree.

5. Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons. They include a cynic philosopher, charismatic Hasid, liberal Pharisee, conservative rabbi, Zealot revolutionary, non-violent pacifist to borrow from a much longer list assembled by Price. In his words (pp. 15-16), “The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage. But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time.” John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar grumbles that “the stunning diversity is an academic embarrassment.”

Thomas JeffersonFor David Fitzgerald, these issues and more lead to a conclusion that he finds inescapable:

Jesus appears to be an effect, not a cause, of Christianity. Paul and the rest of the first generation of Christians searched the Septuagint translation of Hebrew scriptures to create a mystery faith for the Jews, complete with pagan rituals like a Lord’s Supper, Gnostic terms in his letters, and a personal savior god to rival those in their neighbors’ longstanding Egyptian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman traditions.

In a soon-to-be-released follow-up to Nailed, entitled Jesus: Mything in Action, Fitzgerald argues that the many competing versions proposed by secular scholars are just as problematic as any “Jesus of Faith:” Even if one accepts that there was a real Jesus of Nazareth, the question has little practical meaning: Regardless of whether or not a first century rabbi called Yeshua ben Yosef lived, the “historical Jesus” figures so patiently excavated and re-assembled by secular scholars are themselves fictions.

We may never know for certain what put Christian history in motion. Only time (or perhaps time travel) will tell. – Salon, 1 September 2014

Joseph & Mary

Researchers claim Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered children – Harry Mount

Jesus with wife Mary Magdalene and Kids

Harry Mount“The Jacobovici-Wilson theory is based on the claims that this ‘lost’ gospel and the ‘encrypted’ story of Jesus’s marriage was the work of a group of persecuted Christians. It apparently disappeared from public view around 325 AD. It was at the time that the then Roman emperor Constantine — the first Christian emperor — was said to have ordered all other gospels to be destroyed, leaving only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to tell Jesus’s story because their version fitted with Constantine’s view of Christianity.” – Harry Mount

Simcha JacoboviciDid Jesus Christ marry Mary Magdalene and have children with her? Surely, you’re thinking, that’s the kind of sensationalist mumbo-jumbo you find only in the pages of fiction.

In fact, The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s 2003 best-selling thriller, was hinged on that very premise: a secret bloodline had sprung from the union between Jesus and Mary.

But now the authors of a new book, The Lost Gospel, claim to have unearthed evidence of a manuscript which tells the story of Jesus’s two sons and his marriage to Mary, one of his closest followers, who was at his crucifixion, burial and the discovery of his empty tomb.  

Prof Barrie WilsonOf course, there have been various discoveries of “new” gospels over the years and allegations about a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene have persisted for centuries.

Indeed, they have frequently been explored in popular culture. For example, in the Fifties, the book The Last Temptation Of Christ suggested that the pair married after Jesus was taken down from the cross. Martin Scorsese turned the idea into a film of the same name in 1988.

However, this new book focuses on a story to be found in a manuscript dating back to 570 AD and written in Syriac — a Middle Eastern literary language used between the 4th and 8th centuries and related to Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. 

Written on vellum — treated animal skin — it had been in the archives of the British Library for about 20 years, where it was put after the British Museum had originally bought it in 1847 from a dealer who said he had obtained it from the ancient St Macarius Monastery in Egypt.

For the past 160 years, the document has been studied by a few scholars but has been considered pretty unremarkable.

But then Simcha Jacobovici, an Israeli-Canadian film-maker, and Barrie Wilson, a professor of religious studies in Toronto, took a look. After six years of study, they are convinced they’ve uncovered a missing fifth gospel — to add to the four gospels, which tell the story of the life of Christ and are said to have been written by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the 1st century AD.

If true, this would make it the greatest revelation into the life of Jesus in nearly 2,000 years. Jacobovici claims the manuscript, which is 29 chapters long, is a 6th century copy of another 1st-century gospel and casts parts of the Bible in a very different light.

Later this week, he will present his findings at a conference hosted by the British Library.

Joseph & AsenathLike the fictional The Da Vinci Code, which had its hero scouring works of art for secret, religious messages, the document is in code. According to Jacobovici and Wilson, it tells of Jesus’s marriage through the story of the Old Testament character Joseph and his wife Asenath.

Jacobovici decided to look more deeply into Joseph and Asenath, when he compared their story with other Old Testament tales.

In order to test the British Library documents, the researchers used hi-tech digital imaging to photograph them 13 times. They then got the manuscript translated for the first time from Syriac into English.

There have been other, later, versions of the Joseph and Asenath story, written in Latin and Greek, which have been preserved in monasteries. But by returning to the ancient Syriac, Wilson and Jacobovici say it was possible to read the text as it was intended and to decode the hidden story.

Central to their claim is that Joseph was actually Jesus — and that Asenath was actually Mary Magdalene.

The new translation, according to Jacobovici and Wilson, records that the Pharaoh of Egypt officiated at the wedding between the couple, saying to Asenath: “Blessed are you by the Lord God of Joseph, because he is the first-born of God, and you will be called the Daughter of God Most High and the bride of Joseph now and for ever.” 

After a seven-day wedding feast, the text is said to read: “Joseph had intercourse with Asenath…. And Asenath conceived from Joseph and gave birth to Manasseh and his brother Ephraim in Joseph’s house.”

And so, could centuries of Christian teaching be wrong and that Jesus was a husband and father?

There are many, many more pieces of the jigsaw to be put together before this can be proved conclusively.

The theory is based on the claims that this “lost” gospel and the “encrypted” story of Jesus’s marriage was the work of a group of persecuted Christians. It apparently disappeared from public view around 325 AD.

Constantine IIt was at the time that the then Roman emperor Constantine — the first Christian emperor — was said to have ordered all other gospels to be destroyed, leaving only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to tell Jesus’s story because their version fitted with Constantine’s view of Christianity.

“Since then, people have found bits and pieces of those other [destroyed] gospels,” says Jacobovici. “They usually come up through the antiquities market and they’re attacked as forgeries. Or they’re just a few lines.”

But the British Library manuscript, he says, “is a full-blown gospel.”

He and his colleague Wilson point to several clues that they say give away its true meaning. Principally, the story about Joseph has little connection with other Old Testament stories about a man who is best-known for the tale of his murderous brothers, which inspired the popular musical Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

What’s more, Joseph is often seen in early Syriac Christianity as a symbol of Jesus. The manuscript calls Joseph — like Jesus — the son of God.

At one point in the British Library manuscript, an angel-like figure marks a piece of honeycomb in blood with the sign of the cross. When Asenath — purportedly the Mary Magdalene figure — eats a piece of honeycomb, the angel tells her: ‘So now you have eaten the bread of life and drunk the cup of life.’

The parallels with Christian Holy Communion, according to Jacobovici, means that this is a ‘Christian text’.

The document is also preceded by a covering letter, written in the 6th century by the man who translated the document from its original Greek into Syriac.

It says the document has an “inner meaning” about “our Lord, our God, the Word.”

But just at the point when it seems as if the text’s hidden inner meaning is about to be disclosed, there is a big tear in the manuscript — suggesting someone deliberately censored the revelation that was to follow.

“There is a cut across the page, right through a line of Syriac writing,” Jacobovici and Wilson say. “This indicates that the section is missing, not because of deterioration but because of censorship.”

While some academics agree that it is possible that others gospels — recounting Jesus’s marriage — may have existed but since been lost, others are adamant that the idea is a complete nonsense.

History is littered with such debates.

In 1213, for example, a chronicle recorded that the inhabitants of Béziers, in southern France, had been burned alive four years earlier for “their scandalous assertion that Mary Magdalene and Christ were lovers.” A different story — that Mary was a prostitute — was proposed by scholars who merged her identity with the unnamed sinner who anoints Jesus’s feet in Luke’s gospel. However, this interpretation has almost universally been discounted.

Karen King with 4th century Coptic papyrusJust two years ago, Harvard professor Karen L. King declared that she’d found a papyrus fragment — thought to be from Egypt — called The Gospel Of Jesus’s Wife. In it, there were four words, written in Coptic (an Egyptian language), saying: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife ….'”

Jacobovici believes that his ‘lost gospel’ supports Professor King’s studies.

He is also convinced the story of Jesus’s marriage is already incorporated into Dr. Barbara Thieringfour gospels in the New Testament.

He says: “Jesus is called a ‘rabbi’ in the gospels. And a rabbi, to this day, in order to have a congregation and a ministry, has to be married. If he’s going to lead a congregation, he’s got to be a model for that congregation. In the first century, you reach manhood — you get married.”

And therefore, he insists, there can be “no question” that, even in the established gospels, Jesus must have a wife.

To emphasise his belief that Mary of Magdalene was Jesus’s wife, he describes her decision to visit his body on the Sunday after the Crucifixion. “The gospels told us why she went there — to wash and anoint his body. She’s just a follower and yet she’s going to unwrap his naked body? Women do not wash rabbis or male bodies. Only males do it — unless you are the man’s wife.”

Equally intriguingly, Jacobovici and Wilson claim there was a plot to kill Jesus by a love rival 13 years before the Crucifixion.

They say that the manuscript says the Pharaoh’s son wanted to marry Asenath and planned to kill Joseph and their children, but was foiled by Joseph’s brothers. Jacobovici identifies the man as Roman emperor Tiberius’s adopted son Germanicus, who was in Galilee when Jesus was there.

This rewriting of the greatest story ever told has, understandably, led the publisher to compare the book by Jacobovici and Wilson to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient Biblical papyri found in caves in the West Bank which contain passages from the Old Testament.

“If you look at the cumulative evidence for Jesus’s marriage, it’s getting overwhelming,” says Jacobovici. “This new discovery is probably the most important piece.

Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch“Its provenance is known, sitting in the British Library all these years. It’s not crazy to say it’s a copy of a work from the first century — many scholars say it is. And it’s not nuts to say it’s Christian — as many scholars have said.”

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Christian historians are not convinced.

Typical is Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the church at Oxford University. He says the “lost gospel” claims sound “like the deepest bilge,” adding: “I’m very surprised that the British Library gives these authors houseroom.”

As for the British Library itself, staff have refused to endorse the new book.

Undaunted, Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson insist: ‘The only way there is no evidence is if you keep ignoring the evidence.”

But they still have a huge amount of convincing to do — particularly to the Church of England which naturally scoffs at the claims, dismissing them as closer to popular fiction and sharing more with The Da Vinci Code than the historical records of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. – The Mail, 9 November 2014

The Lost Gospel by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson is published by Pegasus Books.  

British Museum manuscript dating back to 570 AD and written in Syriac was originally obtained from St Macarius Monastery in Egypt in 1847

IS-SDS AvatarEnd Note: Of course, we do not know if such a man as Jesus ever lived. The best Christian scholars have not been able to give us any proofs. And the history of the compilation of the Bible is now so well known that its contents cannot be taken as factual. So whether Jesus had a wife—or two according to Biblical exegete and theologist Barbara Thiering—is really neither here nor there. He is described in pious tales as a rabbi and in Jewish society from ancient times till today, there is no such thing as an unmarried rabbi. But the evidence produced for Jesus’s wife—first or second we do not know—is not yet proved, and the scholars involved are a curious couple who may have a bone to pick with a misogynistic Church. Their perhaps unreal theory is timely evidence that there is a push to put ladies in the Roman pulpit. And there is the other angle: if Jesus had a  real wife, then he must have been a real husband too. So a failing Christian Church in a  Europe that has gone beyond belief gets a historical boon: a real historical Jesus and—never mind true believers!—a real historical wife too. As least she is historical and not hysterical. Socrates, the greater man altogether and the one we should follow, had to suffer a hysterical wife (who was also historical without need of a vellum certificate). – Editor

See also

Christianity’s fraudulent legacy – Michael Paulkovich

Jesus

No Meek MessiahThis article is written as an introduction to historical researcher Michael Paulkovich’s investigation into early Christianity called No Meek Messiah: Christianity’s Lies, Laws and Legacy — Editor

Most historians hold the position I had once harbored as true, being a Bible skeptic but not a Christ mythicist. I had maintained that the Jesus person probably existed, having fantastic and impossible stories later foisted upon his earthly life, passed by oral tradition then recorded many decades after Jesus lived.

After exhaustive research for my first book, I began to perceive both the brilliance and darkness from history. I discovered that many early Christian fathers believed with all pious sincerity their savior never came to earth—or when he did, it was Star-Trekian style, beamed down pre-haloed and fully-grown, sans transvaginal egress. Moreover I expose many other startling bombshells in my book No Meek Messiah.

I embarked upon one exercise to revive research into Jesus-era writers who should have recorded Christ tales, but did not. John Remsburg enumerated forty-one “silent” historians in his book The Christ (1909). I dedicated months of research to augment Remsburg’s list, finally tripling his count. In No Meek Messiah I provide a list of 126 writers who should have recorded something of Jesus, with exhaustive references.

Perhaps the most bewildering “silent one” is the mythical super-savior himself, Jesus the Son of God ostensibly sent on a suicide mission to save us from the childish notion of “Adam’s Transgression” as we learn from Romans 5:14. The Jesus character is a phantom of a wisp of a personage who never wrote anything. So, add one more: 127. 

The Jesus character is a phantom 

Jesus is lauded as a wise teacher, savior, and a perfect being. Yet Jesus believed in Noah’s Ark (Mt 24:37, and Lk 17:27), Adam and Eve and their son Abel (Lk 3:38 and Lk 11:51), Jonah living in a fish or whale (Mt 12:40), and Lot’s wife turning into salt (Lk 17:31-32). Jesus believed “devils” caused illness, and even bought into the OT notion (Jn 3:14) that a magical pole proffered by the OT (Num 21:9) could cure snake bites merely by gazing upon it.

Was Jesus smarter than a fifth grader?

Apollonius of TyanaBut perhaps no man is more fascinating than Apollonius Tyaneus, saintly first century adventurer and noble paladin. Apollonius was a magic-man of divine birth who cured the sick and blind, cleansed entire cities of plague, foretold the future and fed the masses. He was worshiped as a god, and son of god. Despite such nonsense claims, Apollonius was a real man recorded by reliable sources.

As Jesus ostensibly performed miracles of global expanse (e.g. Mt 27), his words going “unto the ends of the whole world” (Rom 10), one would expect virtually every literate person on earth to record those events during his time. A Jesus contemporary such as Apollonius should have done so, as well as those who wrote of Apollonius. Such is not the case. In Philostratus‘ third century chronicle, Vita Apollonii, there is no hint of Jesus. Nor in the works of other Apollonius epistolarians and scriveners: Emperor Titus, Cassius Dio, Maximus, Moeragenes, Lucian, Soterichus Oasites, Euphrates, Marcus Aurelius, or Damis of Hierapolis. It seems none of these writers from first to third century ever heard of Jesus, global miracles and alleged worldwide fame be damned.

Another bewildering author is Philo of Alexandria. He spent his first century life in the Levant, even traversing Jesus-land. Philo chronicled Jesus contemporaries—Bassus, Pilate, Tiberius, Sejanus, Caligula—yet knew nothing of the storied prophet and rabble-rouser enveloped in glory and astral marvels. Historian Josephus published Jewish War c. 95. He had lived in Japhia, one mile from Nazareth—yet Josephus seems to have been unaware of both Nazareth and Jesus. (I devoted a chapter to his interpolated works, pp. 191-198.) You may encounter Christian apologists claiming that Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Phlegon, Thallus, Mara bar-Serapion, or Lucian wrote of Jesus contemporary to the time. In No Meek Messiah I thoroughly debunk such notions.

The Bible venerates the artist formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, an “apostle” essentially oblivious to his heavenly savior. Paul is unaware of the virgin mother, and ignorant of Jesus’ nativity, parentage, life events, ministry, miracles, apostles, betrayal, trial and harrowing passion. Paul knows neither where nor when Jesus lived, and considers the crucifixion metaphorical (Gal 2:19-20). Unlike the absurd Gospels, Paul never indicates Jesus had been to earth. And the “five hundred witnesses” claim (1 Cor 15) is a well-known forgery.

Qumran, the stony and chalky hiding place for the Dead Sea Scrolls lies twelve miles from Bethlehem. The scroll writers, coeval and abutting the holiest of hamlets one jaunty jog eastward never heard of Jesus. Dr. Jodi Magness wrote, “Contrary to claims made by a few scholars, no copies of the New Testament (or precursors to it) are represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Christianity was still wet behind its primitive and mythical ears in the second century, and Christian father Marcion of Pontus in 144 CE denied any virgin birth or childhood for Christ—Jesus’ infant circumcision (Lk 2:21) was thus a lie, as well as the crucifixion! Marcion claimed Luke was corrupted, and his savior self-spawned in omnipresence, a spirit without a body (see Dungan, 43). Reading the works of second century Christian father Athenagoras, one never encounters the word Jesus (or Ἰησοῦς or Ἰησοῦν, as he would have written)—Athenagoras was thus unacquainted with the name of his savior it would seem. Athenagoras was another pious early Christian, unaware of Jesus (see also Barnard, 56).

Mary at the wellin NazarethThe original booklet given the name “Mark” ended at 16:8, later forgers adding the fanciful resurrection tale (see Ehrman, 48). The booklet “John” in chapter 21 also describes post-death Jesus tales, another well-known and well-documented forgery (see Encyclopedia Biblica, vol. 2, 2543). Millions should have heard of the Jesus “crucifixion” with its astral enchantments: zombie armies and meteorological marvels (Mt 27) recorded not by any historian, but only in the dubitable scriptures scribbled decades later by superstitious yokels. The Jesus saga is further deflated by the reality of Nazareth, having no settlement until after the 70 CE war—suspiciously around the time the Gospels were concocted, as René Salm demonstrates in his book. I also include in my book similarities of Jesus to earlier God-sons, too striking to disregard. The Oxford Classical Dictionary and Catholic Encyclopedia, as well as many others, corroborate. Quite a few son-of-gods myths existed before the Jesus tales, with startling similarities, usually of virgin mothers, magical births and resurrection: Sandan, Mithra, Horus, Attis, Buddha, Dionysus, Krishna, Hercules, Isiris, Orpheus, Adonis, Prometheus, etc. 

The one true religion

If you encounter a Christian defending her faith purely based on its popularity, you would do well to inform her that Christianity was a very minor cult in the fourth century, while “pagan” religions, especially Mithraism, were much more popular in the Empire – and the Jesus cult would have faded into oblivion if not for an imperial decree.

From No Meek Messiah:
It is 391 CE now as Roman Emperor Theodosius elevates Jesus (posthumously) to divinity, declaring Christianity the only “legitimate” religion of the world, under penalty of death. The ancient myth is rendered law. This decision by Theodosius is possibly the worst ever made in human history: what followed were century after century of torture and murder in the name of this false, faked, folkloric “prophesied savior” of fictional virgin mother. Within a year after the decree by Theodosius, crazed Christian monks of Nitria destroy the majestic Alexandrian Library largely because philosophy and science are taught there—not the Bible. In Alexandria these are times of the highest of intellectual pursuits, all quashed by superstitious and ignorant Christians of the most godly and murderous variety: they had the “Holy Bible” on their side.

Emperor Theodosius I could have had no idea how much harm this blunder would cause humanity over the centuries that followed. Christianity was made the only legal cult of the empire, and for the next 1500 years, good Christians would murder all non-Christians they could find by the tens of millions. 

Frauds and forgeries

Along the centuries the Church has sought to gain power and wealth, and No Meek Messiah exposes their many scams and deceits and obfuscations in detail including:

  • Abgar Forgeries (4th century)
  • Apostolic Canons (400 CE)
  • Hypatia the witch (415 CE)
  • Symmachian Forgeries (6th century)
  • St. Peter Forgery (c. 751)
  • False “Donation of Constantine” (8th century)
  • False Decretals (8th century)
  • Extermination of the Cathar “witches” (13th century)
  • Murder of the Stedinger “devils” (1233)
  • The Manifest Destiny decree (1845) and eradication of Native Americans
  • Invention of the “Immaculate Conception” (1854)
  • The Lateran Treaty (1929)

Paul burning books at EphesusThe good that Jesus brought

Early Christians believed all necessary knowledge was in the Bible and thus closed down schools, burned books, forbade teaching philosophy and destroyed libraries. The Jesus person portrayed in the Bible taught that “devils” and “sin” cause illness, and thus for some 1700 years good Christians ignored science and medicine to perform exorcisms on the ill.

The Bible decrees “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Ex 22:18, with support from Dt 18:10-12, Lev 20:27, 2 Chr 33:6, Micah 5:12, and 1 Sam 28:3). In the New Testament, Paul in Galatians 5:19-21 joins the anti-witchcraft credo. But let’s face it: Paul claims to be a devoted Hebrew, full of credulity and misogyny. Paul will “suffer not a woman to teach” and thus along the centuries women have been second-class citizens, especially within the church. These juvenile and immoral Bible edicts are not left in the past.

From No Meek Messiah:
Remember the witch hunts? Long ago and far away, past atrocities forgotten? So perhaps we should forgive and forget. Around the world, the Christian Bible is still used to accuse people, usually children, of “witchcraft” and to punish them. Refer to The Guardian, Sunday 9 December 2007, “Child ‘witches’ in Africa”; Huffington Post, October 18, 2009, “African Children Denounced As ‘Witches’ By Christian Pastors”; and The Guardian, Friday 31 December 2010, “Why are ‘witches’ still being burned alive in Ghana?” The scripture normally cited regarding witches is Exodus 22:18, and there are many more. In Ghana, a study found that “accused witches were physically brutalized, tortured, neglected, and in two cases, murdered.” In Kinshasa, Congo, “80% of the 20,000 street children … are said to have been accused of being witches.” Even to this day the Bible’s proclamations against witches are still considered valid by many Christians. In places like Indonesia, Tanzania, the Congo and Ghana superstitious fundamental Christians actively pursue and execute witches, including murdering child “sorcerers.” In Malawi, accused witches are routinely jailed.

Christians are typically kept ignorant of certain evil and immoral words placed into the mouth of this mythical mystery-man:

If any man come to me, and HATE NOT his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26.

Jesus is actually portrayed as a pitiful man in desperate need of praise:

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matt 10:37.

Not only does Jesus never advise against slavery, but he recommends savage whipping of disobedient slaves:

And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” – Luke 12:47.

Jesus has nothing against stealing, as he instructs his apostles to pinch a horse and a donkey from their rightful owner:

And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.” (Matt 21:1-3). 

Gentle and meek and mythical

I personally know several Christians who accept evolution as scientific fact. Okay, they kind of ignore the Old Testament, but I asked one born again Christian about the genealogy of Jesus and she was only aware of another one in Luke.

From No Meek Messiah,
Christianity absolutely depends on mythical “Adam.” Without Adam, Eve, and a talking snake, Jesus’ mission is moot and pointless and void. Christians are generally oblivious of this because they have been shown a genealogy in Matthew (which only goes back to “Abraham”), and are rarely if ever exposed to Luke’s disparate and childlike version—which if true would negate all of evolution and in fact most known history and science. According to the anonymous author of Luke, a mere seventy-five generations separate “Adam”—and the beginning of the universe—from the birth of Jesus some 2,000 years ago.

Jesus This “meek” messiah boasted he was “greater than Solomon” (Mt 12:42), saying he “came not to send peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34), and “to send fire on the earth” (Lk 12:49). Jesus desperately needs your praise (Mt 10:37), and advises you to beat your slaves.

This Jesus character speaks highly of father Yahweh‘s genocidal tantrums in Matthew 11:20-24. Jesus is referring to the book of Joshua where his father declares he will wipe out all people of Sidon: “All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel” (13:6).

You may have heard Christians claim that the only “god hates fags” verbiage comes from the Old Testament (Lev 18:22), but both Paul (in Rom 1:26-27) and Jesus speak out against it, as the J-man praises the ruin of Gaytown, Canaan: “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.” – Luke 17:29. 

Onward Christian soldiers

Christianity has a violent “holy book” as its authority, granting followers supremacy over the entire earth (e.g. Gen 1:28) which they used to justify land grabs, genocide and holy conflicts. The following wars were perpetrated by Christians in the name of their savior:

  1. War against the Donatists, 317
  2. Roman-Persian War of 441
  3. Roman-Persian War of 572-591
  4. Charlemagne’s War against the Saxons, 8th century
  5. Spanish Christian-Muslim War of 912-928
  6. Spanish Christian-Muslim War of 977-997
  7. Spanish Christian-Muslim War of 1001-1031
  8. First Crusade, 1096
  9. Jerusalem Massacre, 1099
  10. Second Crusade, 1145-1149
  11. Spanish Christian-Muslim War, 1172-1212
  12. Third Crusade, 1189
  13. War against the Livonians, 1198-1212
  14. Wars against the Curonians and Semigallians, 1201-90
  15. Fourth Crusade, 1202-04
  16. Wars against Saaremaa, 1206-61
  17. War against the Estonians, 1208-1224
  18. War against the Latgallians and Selonians, 1208-1224
  19. Children’s Crusade, 1212
  20. Fifth Crusade, 1213
  21. Sixth Crusade, 1228 War against the Livonians, 1198-1212
  22. Spanish Christian-Muslim War, 1230-1248
  23. Seventh Crusade, 1248
  24. Eighth Crusade, 1270
  25. Ninth Crusade, 1271-1272
  26. The Inquisitions
  27. War against the Cathars, 1209-1229 and onward
  28. War against the Stedingers of Friesland, 1233
  29. Spanish Christian-Muslim War, 1481-1492
  30. Four Years War of 1521-26
  31. Count’s War of 1534-36
  32. Schmalkaldic War, 1546
  33. Anglo-Scottish War of 1559-1560
  34. First War of Religion,1562
  35. Second War of Religion, 1567-68
  36. Third War of Religion, 1568-70
  37. Fourth War of Religion, 1572-73
  38. Fifth War of Religion, 1574-76
  39. Sixth War of Religion, 1576-77
  40. Seventh War of Religion, 1579-80
  41. Eighth War of Religion, 1585-98
  42. War of the Three Henrys, 1588
  43. Ninth War of Religion, 1589—1598
  44. Ottoman-Habsburg wars, 15th to 16th century
  45. War against the German Farmers (“peasants”), 16th Century
  46. The French Wars of Religion, 16th Century
  47. Shimabara Revolt, 1637
  48. Covenanters’ Rebellion of 1666
  49. Covenanters’ Rebellion of 1679
  50. Covenanters’ Rebellion of 1685
  51. The Thirty Years War, 17th Century
  52. The Irish rebellion of 1641
  53. Spanish Christian extermination of South American natives
  54. Manifest Destiny
  55. War of the Sonderbund, 1847
  56. Crimean War, 1853-1856
  57. Tukulor-French War, 1854-1864
  58. Taiping Rebellion, 1851 and 1864
  59. Serbo-Turkish War, 1876-78
  60. Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878
  61. Russian Revolution killing of the Jews, late 19th century
  62. First Sudanese Civil War, 1955-1972
  63. Nigerian Civil War, 1967
  64. Lebanese Civil War, 1975
  65. Sabra and Shatila massacre, 1982
  66. Second Sudanese Civil War, 1983
  67. Yelwa Massacre, 2004
  68. Bosnian War

A relatively unknown contrivance occurred in the thirteenth century when Pope Innocent III ordered a genocidal attack against the entire region of Languedoc France. The pope depicted the Cathars as witches; of being cannibals; desecrating the cross; and having “sexual orgies.”

Yet malefic sounds of sibilance emanated only from the Vatican, and not from its contrived enemies living peaceably in France with their pure and righteous ways. The Church murdered over a million innocent Cathars over the period of 35 years—men, women, children. Christian forces wiped them from the face of the planet. At the height of the siege, Christian forces were burning hundreds at the stake at a time. The Christian colossus exterminated them, then annexed much of Languedoc—some for the Church, some from northern French nobles. The extravagant Palais de la Berbie (construction began in 1228) and the Catholic fortress-cathedral Sainte Cécile (began 1282) are just two examples that remain to this day.

Joseph McCabeConclusion

When I consider those 126 writers, all of whom should have heard of Jesus but did not, and Paul and Marcion and Athenagoras and Matthew with a tetralogy of opposing Christs, the silence from Qumran and Nazareth and Bethlehem, conflicting Bible stories, and so many other mysteries and omissions, I must conclude this “Jesus Christ” is a mythical character. “Jesus of Nazareth” was nothing more than urban (or desert) legend, likely an agglomeration of several evangelic and deluded rabbis who might have existed.

The “Jesus mythicist” position is regarded by Christians as a fringe group. But after my research I tend to side with Remsburg—and Frank Zindler, John M. Allegro, Thomas Paine, Godfrey Higgins, Robert M. Price, Charles Bradlaugh, Gerald Massey, Joseph McCabe, Abner Kneeland, Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Harold Leidner, Peter Jensen, Salomon Reinach, Samuel Lublinski, Charles-François Dupuis, Rudolf Steck, Arthur Drews, Prosper Alfaric, Georges Ory, Tom Harpur, Michael Martin, John Mackinnon Robertson, Alvar Ellegård, David Fitzgerald, Richard Carrier, René Salm, Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy, Barbara Walker, Thomas Brodie, Earl Doherty, Bruno Bauer and others—heretics and iconoclasts and freethinking dunces all, according to “mainstream” Bible scholars.

If all this evidence and non-evidence including 126 silent writers cannot convince, I’ll wager we will uncover much more. Yet this is but a tiny tip of the mythical Jesus iceberg: nothing adds up for the fable of the Christ. In the Conclusion of No Meek Messiah I summarize the madcap cult of Jesus worship that has plagued the world for centuries. It should be clear to even the most devout and inculcated reader that it is all up for Christianity, and in fact has been so for centuries. Its roots and foundation and rituals are borrowed from ancient cults: there is nothing magical or “God-inspired” about them. The “virgin birth prophecy” as well as the immaculate conception claims are fakeries, the former due to an erroneous translation of the Tanakh, the latter a nineteenth century Catholic apologetic contrivance, a desperate retrofitting.

Jesus was no perfect man, no meek or wise messiah: in fact his philosophies were and are largely immoral, often violent, as well as shallow and irrational. There have been many proposed sons of god, and this Jesus person is no more valid or profound than his priestly precursors. In fact, his contemporary Apollonius was unquestionably the superior logician and philosopher.

Thomas JeffersonChristianity was a very minor and inconsequential cult founded late in the first century and then—while still quite minor—forced upon all the people of the Empire, and all rival kingdoms in the fourth century and beyond, as enforceable law with papal sanction. Christianity has caused more terror and torture and murder than any similar phenomenon. With its tyrannical preachments and directives for sightless and mindless obedience, the Bible is a violent and utterly useless volume, full of lies and immoral edicts and invented histories, no matter which of the many “versions” you may choose to read—including Thomas Jefferson’s radical if gallant abridgment.

The time to stop teaching the tall tales and nonsense to children, frightening them with eternal torture administered by God’s minions, has long ago passed. Parents who do so are likely deluded, and most surely are guilty of child abuse of the worst sort ….

The cult of Christianity has an incalculable amount of blood on its hands. And the “Jesus” tale seems to have been nothing more than oral legend, with plenty of hoax and fraud perpetrated along the ages. It is my hope that mankind will someday grow up and relegate the Jesus tales to the same stewing pile that contains Zeus and his son Hercules, roiling away in their justifiable status as mere myth. – JNE, 19 July 2014

Ancient Historians

Bibliography

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia, first edition. The Encyclopedia Press, 1907-1913.
  2. Dungan, David L., Constantine’s Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007.
  3. Ehrman, Bart, Jesus, Interrupted. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
  4. Encyclopedia Biblica: A Critical Dictionary of the Literary, Political and Religious History: The Archeology, Geography and Natural History of the Bible. Edited by Thomas Kelly Cheyne and J. Sutherland Black. 1899.
  5. Magness, Jodi, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
  6. Oxford Classical Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  7. Salm, René, The Myth of Nazareth. Parsippany: American Atheist Press, 2008.

Further Reading

  1. Alfaric, Prosper. Jésus a-t-il existé? 1932.
  2. Allegro, John M., The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1992.
  3. Barnard, Leslie William. Athenagoras: A Study in Second Century Christian Apologetic. Paris: Éditions Beauchesne, 1972.
  4. Bradlaugh, Charles, Who Was Jesus Christ? London : Watts and Co., 1913.
    Brodie, Thomas. Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2012.
  5. Carrier, Richard. Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Amherst: Prometheus, 2012.
  6. Doherty, Earl, Neither God not Man. Ottawa: Age of Reason, 2009.
  7. Drews, Arthur, Hat Jesus gelebt? Mainz: 1924.
  8. Dupuis, Charles-François, L’origine de tous les cultes, ou la religion universelle. Paris: 1795.
  9. Ellegård, Alvar, Jesus One Hundred Years Before Christ. New York: Overlook Press, 2002.
  10. Fitzgerald, David, Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All. Lulu.com, 2010.
  11. Freke, Timothy, and Gandy, Peter, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God? New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.
  12. Harpur, Tom, The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. Toronto: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2005.
  13. Higgins, Godfrey, Anacalypsis. A&B Books, 1992.
  14. Jensen, Peter, Moses, Jesus, Paul: Three Variations on the Babylonian Godman Gilgamesh. 1909.
  15. Kneeland, Abner, A Review of the Evidences of Christianity. Boston: Free Enquirer, 1829.
  16. Kuhn, A. B., Who Is This King of Glory? Kessinger Publishing, LLC; Facsimile Ed edition, 1992.
  17. Leidner, Harold, The Fabrication of the Christ Myth. Survey Press, 2000.
  18. Lublinski, Samuel, Die Entstehung des Christentums; Das werdende Dogma vom Leben Jesu. Köln: Eugen Diederichs, 1910.
  19. Martin, Michael, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.
  20. Massey, Gerald, Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World. Sioux Falls: NuVision, 2009.
  21. McCabe, Joseph, The Myth of the Resurrection and other essays. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1993.
  22. Ory, Georges, Le Christ et Jésus. Paris: Éditions du Pavillon, 1968.
  23. Paine, Thomas, The Age of Reason. Paris: Barrots, 1794.
  24. Price, Robert M., Deconstructing Jesus. Amherst: Prometheus, 2000.
  25. Price, Robert M., The Case Against the Case for Christ. Cranford: American Atheist Press, 2010.
  26. Reinach, Salomon, Orpheus, a History of Religions. New York: Liveright, 1933.
  27. Remsburg, John, The Christ. New York: Truth Seeker, 1909. Reprinted by Prometheus Books, 1994.
  28. Robertson, John M., A Short History of Christianity. London: Watts & Co., 1902.
  29. Steck, Rudolf, Der Galaterbrief nach seiner Echtheit untersucht nebst kritischen Bemerkungen zu den Paulinischen Hauptbriefen. Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1888.
  30. Walker, Barbara, The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. New York: HarperOne, 1983.
  31. Zindler, Frank, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew. Cranford: American Atheist Press, 2003.

» Michael Paulkovich is an aerospace engineer, historical researcher, freelance writer, and a frequent contributor to Free Inquiry and Humanist Perspectives magazines. His book No Meek Messiah was published in 2013 by Spillix.

Thomas Paine

Christianity is not Krishna-Neeti and the Vatican was never a Shiva temple – Koenraad Elst

Vatican City - Shiva LingamTwo photos, taken from above the subjects,  the one on the left of St Peter’s Square and Church being an aerial photo.  The contention is that because St Peter’s Square with Bernini’s curved colonnade on each side looks like the yoni base of a Shiva Lingam, Bernini must have copied a Shiva Lingam when he built the colonnade between 1656 and 1667. Bernini certainly did not know anything about Hinduism and had never seen a Shiva Lingam. He says that he built the colonnade around the obelisk in the square’s centre—placed there in 1586, many decades before he arrived—so as to embrace visitors in “the maternal arms of Mother Church.” The Mother Church was St Peter’s Basilica at the top of the square. It was completed in 1590 in the form of a Roman cross—as can be seen in the photo—and is neither the first church so constructed or the last, all classical churches being constructed in the form of a cross. So the photos above are a mischievous arbitrary comparison without rationale, created to mislead the credulous viewer into believing that Hindus had a worldwide religious empire in prehistory whose symbols and architecture Christians have plagiarized. — Editor 

Dr. Koenraad Elst“The very numerous P.N. Oak party members among the Hindus are not only an endless source of laughter for all enemies of Hinduism. They are also a useful fifth column within the crumbling fortress of Indian Paganism. For the sake of Hindu survival, it is vital that real history gets restored: not only against the secular anti-Hindu version, but also against the Hindu caricature.” – Dr Koenraad Elst

P. N. OakQuite frequently, my mailbox is hit by yet another product of the P. N. Oak-type imagination. This one refers to a web article on IndiaDivine.org [ISKCON], dated 14 June 2014, called Was the Christian Vatican Originally a Temple to Lord Shiva? allegedly by Dr Subramanian Swamy.

It claims that “Rome’s church compound is in the shape of Shiva Lingam”. It also suggests, citing as its source the “famous historian P. N. Oak”, that Vatican comes from Sanskrit vatika (“park, religious centre”), Christianity from Krishna-neeti (“Krishna’s policy”, “the way of Krishna”), and Abraham from Brahma. Conclusion is that it’s all “plagiarism by the West”.

In fact, the shape of the church [and plaza] is standard, and therefore the claim implies that most classical churches, thousands of them, are really shaped like Shiva Lingams. If your eyes are very hazy, you might indeed get the impression of a similarity. This school is quickly satisfied with a mere semblance of similarity. Thus, a 3-shaped sign in the undeciphered Indus script is declared to be ॐ sign; as is a door ornament on the Red Fort, equally deemed to have been “originally a Hindu temple”. But even if a more perceptive look were to confirm this impression of similarity, it doesn’t prove a causal relation. The likeness between vatika and Vatican is claimed to “prove that the Vatican was a Hindu (Vedic) religious centre before its incumbent was forced to accept Christianity from 1st century AD”. No, this phrase merely shows the miserably low standards of proof Jesus & Krishna: Are they the same?applied by the Hindu history-rewriters. Also, no evidence is attempted, or known from elsewhere, for the momentous replacement or forcible conversion of this Vedic pontiff.

As for the etymologies, they are false. Vaticanus Collis [or Vaticanus Mons] means “seers’ hill”, from vates meaning “seer, poet, inspired speaker”, related to the Germanic god-name Woden, meaning “fury, trance”. Christianity combines the Latin endings -(i)anus and –itas, meaning “follower of” and “the property/system/collectivity of”, with the Greek word Christos, “anointed”, as translation of the Biblical Hebrew word Mashiah, “anointed crown-prince, messiah”. Ab-raham is Hebrew and means “father of many ”, while Brahma originally means “great, growth”, related to Germanic berg, “mountain”. These Biblical words have nothing to do with their Sanskrit look-alikes.

Further, it claims that amen really comes from om/aum. Amen is Hebrew for “so be it, truly”, and has nothing to do with om/aum. For that matter, the frequent assertion in some yogic circles that Latin omnis, “all”, is also related, is equally untrue. Omnis is a phonetic adaptation from op-nis, with the root op-, “many”, related to the Latin-derived word opulence. The word amen is cognate to Arabic “amin“, which also means “certain”. A well-known Urdu word derived from it is mo’min, “one who takes as certain”, “believer”, hence “Muslim”. So according to these history-rewriters, a Muslim really is an “Om-sayer”!

ISKCONIt further claims that “all religions are one and are derived from Vedic Sanatana Dharma” and that “both Christianity and Islam originated as distortions of Vedic beliefs”. This is flatly untrue, but nonetheless Padres and Mullahs will welcome it if it helps in reconciling Hindu parents to their daughter’s elopement with a Christian or Muslim man and conversion to his religion: “Hey, Mom and Dad, don’t worry, it’s only a variation on the Vedic religion, as you yourselves always say!”

So, the very numerous P.N. Oak party members among the Hindus are not only an endless source of laughter for all enemies of Hinduism. They are also a useful fifth column within the crumbling fortress of Indian Paganism. For the sake of Hindu survival, it is vital that real history gets restored: not only against the secular anti-Hindu version, but also against the Hindu caricature.

Vatican City

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