Anyone brave enough, or perhaps stupid enough, to search for the Jesus of History inevitably ends up lost, like Alice stepping Through the Looking Glass into Wonderland. You find yourself in a world where the more you look at the evidence the quicker your assumptions evaporate like morning mist; very quickly you are left with nothing but vague shapes that look very much like lies. But don’t give up – there is a way out. If, like Alice, you won’t settle for anything less than truth, I may be able to help you!
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the White Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
In this presentation, I will give you the key to finding Jesus – the magic potion – that will save you from the insanity of the Christian Wonderland; stay with me to the end and I will prove to you that Christianity was never Jewish, Jesus was never a Christian and his message of Hebrew Renewal is as important today as it was two thousand years ago.
But to understand that, you first need to understand this:
In 1980, almost miraculously, the actual tomb of the Jesus family was discovered, quite by accident, in a hole not far from Jerusalem. The tomb was hastily covered up again by the power of vested interests and everybody involved tried to pretend it wasn’t true and that it didn’t matter by repeating to themselves, “It’s very common,” over and over again.
In 1985, Professors Robert W. Funk and Marcus J. Borg went through the Looking Glass in search of the Jesus of History. They created the Westar Institute and convened an inquiry they called “the Jesus Seminar.” Almost immediately an army of Christian armchair warriors declared Jihad on the ‘Jesus Seminar’ and anyone involved.
Over 15 years, the 50 brave scholars of the Jesus Seminar, who dared to think for themselves, won every battle against the powers of Christian preconceived ideas and cognitive dissonance. Slowly and painstakingly the Jesus of History was, bit by bit, exhumed from the grave of Christian propaganda and his authentic voice could, once again, be heard and you would have thought that the end of the war was in sight.
Sadly, time ran out for Professor Funk in the fall of 2005. Ironically, two years later James Cameron and Simcha Jacobavici produced a film reopening the Jesus family tomb. In a sane world their film would have vindicated the search for the Jesus of History and the work of the Jesus Seminar but, without Funk, their champion, the Jesus Seminar had lost any interest in the fight: they quit the field and abandoned the Jesus of History to the pseudo-Academics of the Christian ‘Right’.
And there the sad story would have ended, if it hadn’t been for Professor James D. Tabor, whose name quickly became intimately associated with the Jesus family tomb. Somewhat predictably, he was promptly mauled by the lions of Christian pseudo-academia, a violence for which, as it turns out, he was well prepared.
Tabor’s secret weapon – his magnum opus – was (and is) the book ‘the Jesus Dynasty’ in which he insists that John the Baptist, Jesus and his brother James formed part of a royal dynasty, based entirely on the complete and literal truth of the Gospels and a facility to studiously ignore any contrary evidence – an approach that no Christian seems intellectually equipped to question. Tabor had brilliantly out Christianed the Christians.
Unfortunately, it is Tabor’s pronouncements on ‘Early Christianity’ that have come to define exactly what questions can be asked and which questions are not permitted in the search for the Jesus of History. Sadly, Tabor’s Jesus speaks words that are devoid of meaning, like numbers without value, or a map without a terrain and thus the Jesus of History, separated from history or humanity, vanishes before us like a Jewish Cheshire cat.
“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”
Tabor’s Jesus dissolves into the contradictions of the Gospels and becomes invisible – lost within the Greco-Roman absurdities of Christian dogma.
After reading Tabor’s The Jesus Dynasty one is left asking, “so what? What difference does it make?”
Let me explain why this might be the case:
The Third Search for the Jesus of History, Tabor’s search (if you will), insists that the Gospels are Jewish, Jesus was a prophet of the apocalypse and all the words attributed to Christ were spoken by the Jesus of History. In Tabor’s corner of Wonderland, Professors Funk and Borg never lived and the Jesus Seminar never published a word and it is as if the Jesus family tomb was never found. We find ourselves lost within the Myth of Jewish Christianity.
The Myth of Jewish Christianity:
From the beginning, Christianity has sought validation and authority by claiming to have first century Jewish roots – a kind of literary version of Rachel Dolezal without the dodgy perm. So successful has Christianity been in convincing the world that Christianity started out as a Jewish religion that nobody – since the death of the Jesus Seminar – thinks to question this assumption or asks to see the evidence.
It is for this reason that the search for the Jesus of History today is doomed to fail, as it gets lost in the myths of Early Christianity.
The Myth of Early Christianity is based on several assumptions:
- Jesus taught an apocalyptic message of salvation from eternal damnation and the physical resurrection of the dead.
- Saint Paul was a Jewish Rabbi teaching a Jewish message.
- The Gospels were initially written by Jews in Hebrew for Jews.
- The Christian cult was more or less Jewish.
- Jewish Christianity grew rapidly in the first century.
- That Jewish Christianity was philosophically coherent with Jewish belief but had splintered into many groups.
- That the dying and resurrected Messiah was predicted in Hebrew sacred texts.
A big part of this myth is the idea that Jewish Christianity was spread by a handful of Jewish groups; all of which focused on the divinity of Jesus, to one extent or another; differing only in their understanding of his divinity: at birth, baptism or death. Tabor’s favourite term for these religious chameleons is the ‘Ebionites’.
And here’s a bonus – my gift to you – ask yourself, “Is this true? What is the evidence? Ask to see the receipts!”
The genius of Professors Funk and Borg was that they were prepared to actually listen to what Jesus said, as if they were forensic investigators, which – if you think about it – that is what they were. The more they investigated, the more they started to take Jesus seriously and it soon became evident to them that, assuming the Jesus of History was sane, he could not have been the source for some 80% of the words spoken by Christ.
In other words, based on philosophical coherence, the Jesus of History only spoke about 20% of the words attributed to Christ and those words were entirely focused on the renewal of Hebrew spiritual life.
The Jesus of History and Hebrew Renewal:
That bears repeating, it is a fact that approximately 20% of the words attributed to Christ describe how Hebrew spiritual life must be renewed and reinvigorated and those words philosophically contradict the other 80% of the words attributed to him.
From those words we can say with certainty:
- That the Jesus of History taught specifically against the apocalypse and the resurrection of the dead. His words were entirely Jewish – he taught a return to Hebrew Faith.
- That Saint Paul was anti-Semitic, misquoted and lied about Hebrew Scripture. His philosophy was entirely pagan and had its roots in the magical practices of the Greco-Roman religions and the philosophy of the wildly anti-human Middle-Eastern Dualism.
- That the Gospels continue the lies of Saint Paul and misquote the Tanakh, mistake the geography of the Southern Levant, contradict each other and rely on the work of Josephus, (which was not published until 94 CE). They also inculcate a message that is anti-Semitic and the antithesis of Hebrew spirituality. They were written in Greek, by Greeks for a Greek audience.
- That there is no sign of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures.
- That Josephus does not link John the Baptist with Jesus nor does he suggest that either Jesus or his brother James were starting a new religion nor does he think either of them were Messiahs.
- That there is no direct evidence for a Jewish form of Christianity. The quote in Tacitus is not a reference to Christ or Christians. ‘Chrestus’ was the name of a Jewish subversive living in Rome just before the Jewish war with Rome (64 CE). Pliny would not have needed guidance on Christians, in 112 CE, from Trajan if Christians were Roman enemy number one in 64 CE.
- The Jesus of History taught a form of Hebrew renewal with its roots in Jewish religion dating back, at least, as far as the Prophet Jeremiah and which continues to this day. Similar teachings can be found in the work of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi David Aaron, and Rav Kook.
The Jesus of History: Hebrew Renewal – the context:
Early Hebrew faith, as a reaction against the Egyptian obsession with death and the resurrection of the dead, avoided speaking of life after death so people would focus on this life. Hebrew spirituality was entirely focused on living this life in the light of God’s righteousness but over the centuries that wasn’t enough for some people.
Unfortunately, the Hebrew people suffered one calamity after another and their priests found it harder and harder to justify the suffering of the people. Then as now, the Hebrew elites took the easy road and blamed ‘The People’ for their own suffering. If the Israeli people were destroyed by the Persians then it must mean that they did something to piss God off!
By the end of the Greek occupation of the Southern Levant in the 2nd Century BCE, the Maccabees, who later become the Hasmonean dynasty, found it expedient to encourage the Persian (Zoroastrian) idea of the End of Days and the Resurrection of the Dead – for obvious tactical reasons.
Predictably, the Hebrew people stopped focusing on righteousness and morality. They quickly became obsessed with the divinely ordained utopia made just for the Jews and how God would magically destroy all of their enemies. This is evidenced in the festivals of Purim and Hanukkah, which date from this time.
Everyone started looking out for the divinely ordained military leader – the Messiah. By the time of the Jesus of History, Messiah spotting was very popular – morality not so much.
However, contrary to popular belief, in the first century CE not all Jews believed in this nonsense. Several Prophets, like Jeremiah, had tried to encourage people to return to the roots of their religion as a renewal of their connection to the Eternal.
‘In those days, they shall no longer say, “fathers have eaten unripe grapes, and the teeth of the children shall be set on edge.” But each man shall die for his own iniquity; whoever eats the unripe grapes his teeth shall be set on edge.
Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will form a covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, a new covenant…
…for this is the covenant that I will form with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will place My law in their midst and I will inscribe it on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be My people and no longer shall one teach his neighbour or shall one teach his brother saying “Know the Lord!” for they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest, says the Lord, …’
We know from Josephus that the Sadducees and Essenes did not believe in the Last days and the Resurrection of the Dead and the Essenes did not believe in animal sacrifice. The Jesus of History is never associated with offering sacrifice, which is strange as he was supposed to be a walking sacrifice.
The Jesus of History – Hebrew Renewal:
Here’s your magic potion to save you from all this confusion so hold on tight! Focus on only one thing: the nature of God.
How the Jesus of History understands God is what defines him and separates him from Christianity. All of us are defined by the sum of our beliefs. It is how we see God and our relationship with him (or not) that forms the foundation of our lives and the foundation expressed in the words of Jesus are the opposite of Christianity or Middle Eastern Dualism.
At the front of the mind of the Jesus of History is God and all that is, is God. Therefore, whatever is, is Good. To the Jesus of History, in reality, there is no need of resurrection, salvation or the end of days for anyone – God is enough.
The Prophet Jeremiah, for the Jesus of History and his brother James, had turned the name ‘Jew’ from a noun into a verb and the only thing that mattered to them was living in the Light of God’s Righteousness.
All of the words, that we can attribute to the Jesus of History, teach that living in the Light of God is its own reward and if living in that light leads you to suffer – that’s fine! Living in the Light of God is its own reward. There is no consolation prize, no cookie before bedtime. No crosses count.
Living in Light or Living in darkness – it’s your choice.
The Hebrew Renewal that Jesus was a part of, and is mentioned by Josephus, was a ‘Back to Basics’ movement that really pissed the Hasmoneans off – in the end it pissed them off so much that they killed both him and his brother James – maybe even John the Baptist.
If you do still want to find the Jesus of History and would like to understand what he is talking about, by all means listen to Professor Tabor (I still love to) but don’t forget to ask for the receipts – check primary sources and think for yourself because it was God who gave you common sense.
But if you are ever brave enough to want to ask Tabor a question, just remember that he is the White Queen and is happy believing six impossible things before breakfast.
If you want to learn more, feel free to message me but whatever you do never believe anything without seeing the evidence.
Check out our videos on the tomb part I and II