3.09.2006

King of Kings
Lord of Lords
Tyrant of Tyrants



'I Am the King!'

from Sploid

A startling new book says the biblical Jesus was no spiritual hippie, but a ruthless monarch-in-training who only had his eyes on defeating Imperial Rome and ruling Israel with an iron fist.

The reputation of the famous renegade rabbi has taken hit after hit in recent years, with the wild success of The Da Vinci Code proving that tens of millions are happy to see holier-than-thou Jesus taken down a notch.

In that best-seller, Jesus is married to the wealthy Mary Magdalene, who heads off to France to raise the children Jesus abandoned for his political crusade and resulting execution.

The Jesus Dynasty, by biblical archeologist James Tabor, claims the Jewish rabble-rouser had no intention of starting a new religion.

Instead, writes Tabor, Jesus was hellbent on seizing the throne in Jerusalem and creating an Egyptian-style dynasty.

Although he had no father, Jesus repeatedly claimed he was the descendent of Israel's famous King David.

Indeed, Jesus the Nazarene never did start a religion for gentiles. If the Christian Bible is right, he was killed by the Romans before he had more than a handful of followers.

The task of launching a popular religion fell to Saul of Tarsus, a fanatic who never met Jesus and didn't even know any details of the holy man's life.

According to the Bible, Saul would change his Hebrew name to the generic "Paul" and simultaneously spread his self-hating "Pauline Christianity" around the Mediterranean while brutally oppressing the real Jesus movement led by the Lord's brother, James.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff D said...

I have been studying religious history, comparative religion, and the history of the early Christian sects since the early 1980s, with a special emphasis on the authors and researchers who do critical textual / historical analysis of New Testament scriptures in their numerous extant manuscript versions. I remember reading Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln's "Holy Blood & Holy Grail" around 1987. No need to point out the similarities between Mr. Tabor's Jesus-the-man who-would-be-king idea and the now-well known speculations of Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln in their first book and in the second, "The Messianic Legacy."

I have also read some other fairly weird "takes" on who Jesus was, etc., such as Barbara Thiering's "Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls." Thiering is the world's best and probably only expert on reading the Qumran scrolls and Greek New Testament manuscripts in a way that supposedly reveals that they are written in a kind of code (one word or one phrase stands for another)-- the so-called "pesher" technique favored by scholarly members of the Qumran community who wrote and kept the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thiering's conclusion is that all of the Passion events, including the trial of Jesus and a crucifixion that did not kill him, no miracles, no real resurrection from the dead, were all actual events that occurred at Qumran, not Jerusalem, and that these events were all described symbolically, i.e., in code, in the Gospel manuscripts.

What I find ultimately tiresome about all these rather kooky but entertaining theories is that they are so ridiculously facile and literal-minded. They assume, without evidence, that there was one real Jesus who actually knew a woman named Mary Magdalene, who was actually born in Bethlehem, and who lived in Nazareth, came to Jerusalem one week, and got arrested and executed. Guess what, kids? There is no good historical evidence that a town called Nazareth existed in Galilee or anywhere else in Palestine until the 2nd century or later. Early manuscripts of the Gospels confused the title "Jesus the Nazorean" (or Nazarean) with a non-existent place name. Everything else that the Gospels say about Jesus is too discordant and contradictory to be reliable as history, and the writers of the Gospels weren't trying to write history. The Gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew are called "synoptic" not because they "see with one eye" (a better translation from the Greek is that synoptic means "to be seen at a glance"), but because if one puts Mark, Luke, and Matthew side by side, one can see fairly quickly the sections in the 3 that are nearly identical and the many, many sections that disagree or that show where and how "Luke" and "Matthew" made "corrections" to "Mark."

From the scant historical evidence that is actually reliable and from what we actually know about how the New Testament was written and collected (and the Gospels and other New Testament writings are not reliable as history) the only logical conclusion is that we know almost nothing about the "real" Jesus, his life, his motives, or how or where he died. As I have commented before, the Jesus depicted in the Gospels is most likely a composite of two or more individuals, one of whom was a Galilean rabbi whose esoteric teachings are collected in the Q document (from which the writers of Luke and Matthew drew their teachings and parable material) and other apochryphal writings such as the Gospel of Thomas. The Jesus in Q isn't described as having been executed, let alone rising from the dead. The other Jesus, who is described in the earliest New Testament writings (the epistles actually written by Paul, not later than about 60 C.E.) is the Jesus who is described as a supernatural person who came to earth as a man, died a shameful death (the time, place, and circumstances are not described except that it was by crucifixion), and then "rose" from the dead in some confusing sense. Paul says nothing about Jesus's teachings and nothing about miracles or any arrest or trial.

No, fellow kids, the "real" historic Jesus will never be known reliably or in any detail. The Jesus of the Gospels (and now of this new type of science fiction exemplified by "Holy Blood & Holy Grail" and "the Jesus Dynasty") is a product of 1st- and 2nd century rumor, gossip, and urban legend and 18 additional centuries of mix-and-match copying, scribal error, garbling, deliberate distortion, lies, and mythmaking.

Jeff D (F.I.S.H.M.A.N.)

March 10, 2006 4:21 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

He mows a mean lawn; I'll tell you that.

March 14, 2006 11:07 PM  

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