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The “Jesus of Faith” Vs the “Jesus of History” – part 5:2 The Crucifixion Plot

I remember when I was fourteen and studying for the Catholic priesthood kneeling in front of a large carved image of Jesus hanging on a cross above the altar in the chapel and struggling to get in touch with feelings of guilt and sorrow for my sins, sins for which this man is said to have died an ignominious death. I was actually able to bring myself to sorrowful tears of repentance. Such memories serve me today as motivation to write about the deception that has been created and maintained for two-thousand years by the Catholic Church and by Christianity in general.  I truly believe that, if Jesus were to come back today, he would have all the crucifixes taken down and destroyed. It is his life of love and compassion, his “good news” about the Kingdom of Heaven being right at hand, that I believe he wished to be remembered by and not his crucifixion.

That said, I would like to share religious historian Michael Baigent’s perspectives on the crucifixion of Jesus from his controversial book The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. The chapter heading from which the excerpts are taken, “SURVIVING THE CRUCIFIXION,” speaks for itself.

Jesus’ crucifixion was politically motivated, and Jesus was well aware of the political reality of the time. The main contention between the Jews and the Romans was their refusal to pay taxes. This played a pivotal role in both Jesus’ betrayal by the Zealots, as well as in a survival plot orchestrated by Pontius Pilate himself. I’ll let Michael Baigent detail his scenario.

If the Sadducee priesthood wanted to be rid of Jesus because they saw him as a messiah and a threat to their power, and if the Zealots too, for different reasons, wanted to be rid of Jesus, then word of this would have reached Pilate. And this intelligence would have put him in a very difficult position. Pilate was Rome’s official representative in Judaea, and Rome’s main argument with the Jews was that they declined to pay their tax to Caesar. Yet here was a leading Jew — the legitimate king no less — telling his people to pay the tax. How could Pilate try, let alone condemn, such a man who, on the face of it, was supporting Roman policy? Pilate would himself be charged with dereliction of duty should he proceed with the condemnation of such a supporter.

The New Testament represents “the Jews” as baying for Jesus’s blood. And this apparent guilt of the Jews stuck for millennia — it was only acknowledged as fraudulent by the Vatican and excised from the teachings as late as 1960. But as should now be clear, it was not “the Jews” in general who were calling for Jesus’s arrest and execution, but the militant Zealots, those who hated the Romans and would sacri­fice even one of their own for their political aims. In the scenario presented here, Pilate would have found himself in a serious dilemma: to keep the peace he had to try, condemn, and execute a Jew who was supporting Rome but whose existence was causing public disorder, the flames of which were being fanned by the disgruntled Zealots. Pilate needed to try to square the circle on this; he desperately needed a deal.

And the deal, I suggest, was this: that he try Jesus and condemn him as a political agitator, thus appeasing the Zealots, who threatened widespread disorder. This was the last thing Pilate needed on his watch, especially since he was aware that he was falling out of favor with the Roman authorities. But while he condemned Jesus and had to go through with the required sentence of crucifixion, he could not dare have it reported to Rome that Jesus had actually died. So Pilate took steps to ensure that Jesus would survive. He spoke with a member of the Sanhedrin and friend of Jesus, the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea.

Technically, how could a crucifixion have been faked? Just how could Jesus have survived? Was it possible at all to survive a crucifix­ion of any length of time?

Crucifixion was not so much an execution as a torturing to death. The procedure was very simple: the victim was tied, hanging to the crossbar, while his feet were supported on a block at the base of the cross. His feet were also usually tied at the block, although at least one example recovered by archaeologists reveals that a nail might be driven through each ankle. The weight of the hanging body made breathing very difficult and could be managed only by constantly pushing upwards with the legs and feet to relieve the tension in the chest. Eventually, of course, weariness and weakness overcame the ability to keep pushing. When this happened, the body slumped, breathing became impossible, and the crucified person died — by as­phyxiation. This was reckoned to take about three days.

As an act of mercy — only the brutal Romans could come up with such a definition — the legs of the victim were often broken and so deprived of any strength whatsoever to maintain the weight of the body.  The body would drop, and death by asphyxiation rapidly followed. We can see this in the New Testament. John reports that the legs of the two Zealots crucified beside Jesus were broken, but when they came to break Jesus’s legs, “he was dead already” (John 19:31-33).

On a side note, a statement in the Koran, “They did not crucify him,” could be translated as “They did not cause his death on the cross.” More relevant is the teachings of a heretical Egyptian Gnostic that Jesus had been substituted by Simon of Cyrene on his way to Golgatha and died in Jesus’ stead.

But if Jesus survived without being substituted, how could it have happened? Hugh Schonfield, in his The Passover Plot, suggests that Jesus was drugged — sedated on the cross such that he appeared dead but could be revived later, after he had been taken down. This is by no means such a wild idea, and it has received a sympathetic hearing. For example, in a television program on the crucifixion broadcast by the BBC in 2004 called Did Jesus Die? Elaine Pagels referred to Schonfield’s book, which, she noted, suggested that Jesus “had been sedated on the cross; that he was removed quite early and therefore could well have survived.” And, she concluded, “that’s certainly a possibility?”

The hypothesis forwarded was that Jesus was drugged with a sponge soaked in a sedative mixture of opium and other compounds such as belladonna and hashish when he cried out “I thirst.” Vinegar would have revived him whereas the drink from the sponge apparently caused him to die. Such a drug concoction, which was available and used in the Middle East for medical procedures, would have rendered Jesus unconscious and therefore spared much of the trauma and mental anguish crucifixion surely inflicted upon him. Then there was the incident of the spear thrust into Jesus’ side, not his heart or vital organ, where it is reported that blood and water poured out, indicating that Jesus was still alive.

All that remained then was for Jesus to be taken down from the cross, apparently lifeless but in reality unconscious, and taken to a private tomb where medicines could be used to revive him. He would then be whisked away from the scene. And this is precisely what is described in the Gospels: Luke (23:53) and Mark (15:46) report that Jesus was placed in a new tomb nearby. Matthew (27:6) adds that the tomb was owned by the wealthy and influential Joseph of Arimathea. John (19:41-42), who generally gives us so many extra details, adds that there was a garden around this tomb, implying that the grounds were privately owned, perhaps also by Joseph of Arimathea.

John also stresses that Jesus was taken down quickly and put into this new tomb. Then, in a very curious addition, he reports that Joseph of Arimathea and a colleague, Nicodemus, visited the tomb during the night and brought with them a very large amount of spices: myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). These, it is true, could be used simply as a perfume, but there could be another equally plausible explana­tion. Both substances have a medicinal use – most notably, myrrh has been used as an aid to stop bleeding. Neither drug is known to have a role in embalming dead bodies. Mark (16:1) and Luke (23:56) touch obliquely on this theme as well, adding to their story of the tomb that the women — Mary Magdalene and Mary, the “mother of James,”­ brought spices and ointments with them when they came to the tomb after the Sabbath had ended.

. . . . But there is yet another oddity that we need to note: in the Gospel of Mark, Joseph of Arimathea is described as visiting Pilate and requesting the body of Jesus. Pilate asks if Jesus is dead and is surprised when told that he is indeed, for his demise seems very rapid to Pilate. But since Jesus is dead, Pilate allows Joseph to take the body down. If we look at the original Greek text, we see an im­portant point being made: when Joseph asks Pilate for Jesus’s body, the word used for “body” is soma. In Greek this denotes a living body.  When Pilate agrees that Joseph can take the body down from the cross, the word he uses for “body” is ptoma (Mark 15:43-45). This means a fallen body, a corpse or carcass. In other words, the Greek text of Mark’s Gospel is making it clear that while Joseph is asking for the living body of Jesus, Pilate grants him what he believes to be the corpse. Jesus’s survival is revealed right there in the actual Gospel account.

If the writer of this Gospel had wished to hide that fact, it would have been very easy for him simply to use one word for both state­ments — to have both Joseph and Pilate speaking of the ptoma, the corpse. But the writer chose not to be consistent. Could this be be­cause it was too well known a fact for him to get away with any manipulation of it? This had to wait for the translation of the New Testament from Greek into Latin: in the Latin Bible – the Vulgate – the word corpus is used by both Pilate and Joseph of Arimathea, and this simply means “body” as well as “corpse.” The hiding of the secret of the crucifixion was completed.

Again, it takes only a slight shift of perspective, a standing aside from the theological dogma, to see the crucifixion in a new way. That is, to see how Jesus could very well have survived.

Jesus alive in A.D. 45?

Then there’s this: Jesus is reported to have been alive in A.D. 45, twelve years after his crucifixion. When this tidbit of historical information came into Michael Baigent’s hands in the form of a letter from an undivulged source, he immediately set out to find “incontrovertible evidence that Jesus survived and was living long afterwards.” But his efforts were to no avail.

Then there’s the Stations of the Cross plaque still on the wall of the church at Rennes le Chateau.

“. . . an image that reveals something very heretical indeed. . . .  One image, for example, shows a woman with a child standing beside Jesus; the child is wearing a Scottish tartan robe. . . . But the most curious of all is Station 14. This is traditionally the last of the series illustrating Jesus being placed in the tomb prior to the resurrection. At Rennes le Chateau the image shows the tomb and, immediately in front of it, three figures carrying the body of Christ. But the painted background reveals the time as night. In the sky beyond the figures, the full moon has risen.”

This indicates that the Passover had begun — and no Jew would have handled a dead body after the Passover had begun as it would make him ritually unclean. The scene also suggests that the body of Jesus was not being placed in a tomb but was being carried out secretly under the cover of night.

The significance of this story lies in the fact that the priest of Rennes le Chateau, Abbe Sauniere, discovered the story of Jesus’ survival in documents he found while renovating the church in the early 1890’s. His bishop, upon seeing the documents, sent him to Paris to meet with experts at the Seminary of Saint Sulpice, where he spent three weeks. He returned with access to considerable wealth, sufficient to completely renovate the church and build a road to the village up the hill. The implication is that his silence was bought.

It is important to note that the Stations of The Cross at Rennes le Chateau were painted under the direct supervision of Abbe Sauniere. He appears to be telling us that he knows — or a least believes — that Jesus survived the crucifixion.

As a final note to close this post, I will tell you about a most interesting event Michael Baigent discloses in this chapter. In researching the origin of the letter he had received mentioned above, he came upon Canon Alfred Leslie (1860–1948) who was Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral in Oxford, England. He was an expert in medieval French and was often consulted on difficult translation work.  He was invited to Paris to the Seminary of Saint Sulpice to assist in the translation of a “strange document (or documents).” The scholars working on the translation asked for help because of the outrageous nature of the text which they thought that perhaps they were misunderstanding. His friend, a Rev. Bartlett, who had invited him to go to Paris, reports on the outcome:

“They didn’t know that it was close to the bone . . . . Lilley said that they wouldn’t have a long and happy life if certain people knew about it. It was a very delicate matter. Lilley laughed over what was going to happen when the French priest told anyone about it. He didn’t know what happened to them [the documents], but he thought that they had changed hands for a large sum of money and had ended up in Rome.” In fact, Lilley thought that the Church would ultimately destroy these documents.

Lilley was quite certain that these documents were authentic. They were extraordinary and upset many of our ideas about the Church. Contact with the material, he said, led to an unorthodoxy. . . .  “By the end of his life,” Bartlett explained, ” Lilley had come to the conclusion that there was nothing in the Gospels that one could be certain about. He had lost all conviction of truth.”

A group of “Modernists” that included Lilley wanted to “revise the dogmatic assertions of the church teachings in the light of the discoveries made by science, archaeology, and critical scholarship.” Baigent concludes with this observation.

Many theologians were realizing that their confidence in the historical validity of New Testament stories was misplaced. For example, William Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, was once asked to write on the life of Jesus. He declined, saying that there was not nearly enough solid evidence to write anything at all about him.”

I will leave it there for now. Until my next post Easter Sunday morning, then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Jesus of History” . . . . Vs The “Jesus of Faith” Part 1

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“WHAT IF EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT JESUS IS WRONG?” – From the cover of Michael Baigent’s book THE JESUS PAPERS – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History.  Michael Baigent is a religious historian and leading expert in the field of arcane knowledge.

I received a number of “likes” and a few comments on my last post, which I always love receiving. One comment came from a niece that I thought is worth sharing here, since she sent it to me on Facebook rather than posting it to my blog. She says:

“Thanks for having the courage to educate us all about the history that so many choose to ignore. You will probably be burned in effigy…lol. My belief is that we need not be ashamed of our history unless we refuse to learn from it.”

My belief as well. I am not convinced, however, that we have learned from our history – or even explored it at any length so as to know what it is we need to learn from it.  Thus my exploration, which I am somewhat tentative in sharing in a public forum such as this. Some of my readers may, indeed, burn me verbally in effigy, as my niece said, and if that should happen, I extend love and compassion ahead of such time that this may indeed come to pass. Bless you and forgive me for exploring my own Italian/French/Irish Catholic roots, which I’ve taken for granted.

With that said, I will continue my exploration of information that has come to me in a thoroughly researched and well documented book by Michael Bagent entitled The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. My purpose in reading his book – for the second time – is to arrive at a better understanding of who exactly Jesus was and what actually occurred during his brief life and public ministry. Again, from the cover of his book:

In The Jesus Papers, the author reveals the truth about Jesus’s life and crucifixion. Despite–or rather because of–all the celebration and veneration that have surrounded the figure of Jesus for centuries, Baigent asserts that Jesus and the circumstances leading to his death have been heavily mythologized.

One of these myths is that Jesus founded Christianity and that his apostle Peter founded the Roman Catholic Church. Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Baigent. The “elephant in the room” in any discussion of the origins of Christianity is the obvious improbability that a Jew would be founding a Christian religion. Christianity was not even a concept in Jesus’s mind.  Judaism was the religion of his time, along with paganism. And the apostle Peter did not found the Roman Catholic Church. That was the Roman Emperor Constantine 325 years after Jesus’s time. (More about this episode later.) Baigent helps us look at the political setting into which Jesus was born and in which he lived and ministered to the Jewish people.

Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian

Jesus was born during warring times. The Zealots, a Jewish sect, were battling the Romans over the city of Jerusalem and the Temple that had become a “den of thieves,” as Jesus described it when he drove the merchants and money-changers out of the temple with a whip. They wanted priests in the temple who were descendants of Aaron. They also were looking for the Messiah to appear and restore the kingdom of Israel, as foretold by the prophets. Baigent depicts the setting in which Jesus assumed his messianic role, entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey:

There is no getting away from it: Jesus entered Jerusalem quite deliberately, pressing all the right buttons in order to put himself forward as the chosen Messiah of Israel, the anointed king, whose arrival had been foretold by the prophets. He knew it. He was open to it.

Jesus was born a Jew from the seed of Joseph, who was a descendant of the House of David. Yes, he had an earthly father who knew his mother, Mary, in the Biblical sense of that word, and brought him forth in the same manner as any other normal birth. It was the Church later on, with its hang up on human sexuality and its “obsession with perpetual virginity and celibacy” that fabricated the scenario of the virgin birth. Jesus had to have Joseph’s genetic heritage from the Line of David in order to be the promised Messiah, along with his mother’s priestly bloodline.

The author goes on to describe how Jesus was groomed by the Zealots from childhood for this role, only to have him later betray them and their revolutionary cause:

Imagine the problem: the Zealots, whose entire focus was the removal or destruction of Rome’s hold over Judea, had organized a dynastic marriage between Joseph, a man of the royal line of David, and Mary, of the priestly line of Aaron, in order to have a child, Jesus–the “Savior” of Israel–who was both rightful king and high priest.

Whether or not the Zealots “organized” Joseph and Mary’s marriage, what is factual is their inheritance of the royal bloodline of King David and the priestly bloodline of the High Priest Aaron. The Jews knew that their Messiah had arrived and all that was left was for Jesus to fulfill the prophecies of Holy Scripture and restore Judea as a nation by driving the Romans from the Holy City of Jerusalem and replacing the priests of the Temple with a High Priest descendant from the line of Aaron.

The big let-down that led to Jesus’s crucifixion

As it turned out, Jesus did not go about fulfilling their expectations. To the contrary, Jesus let them down royally when he failed to excuse them from paying taxes in that pivotal moment when he wisely answered their loaded question about paying taxes by suggesting they “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Taxes were one of the chief contentions between the Jews and the Romans. Their refusal to pay Caesar’s taxes did not sit well with Caesar, as one can imagine. Then there was the issue of Jesus’ failure to be their temporal king and leader of their revolution. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus had told them on more than one occasion, and repeated it at his trial before Pontius Pilate. “They had to get rid of Jesus and find a leader more amenable to their agenda, such as his brother James who was leading the community of messianic Jews in Jerusalem after Jesus was out of the picture.”

We must take note here that it was the Zealots and not the Jewish people in general who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. If they couldn’t have a temporal king, they could at least have a martyr.

The origins of Christianity and Catholicism

Returning to the subject of the origin of the Christian religion, as I stated earlier, it was the Roman Emperor Constantine some 325 years after Jesus’s life and alleged crucifixion who, in a grab for power and control over an increasing Christian populace, and for the sake of unity in his empire, decreed that Jesus was the Son of God and the founder of Christianity. He simply made Christianity the official religion of Rome to unify his empire:

Constantine . . . called the Council of Nicaea to oppose the ideas of the heretic Arius. The aim was to get support for the idea that Jesus Christ was “of one being” with God the Father, a claim that Arius and others disputed; for them, Jesus was not divine. As Princeton’s Professor Elaine Pagels dryly observes, “Those who opposed this phrase pointed out that it occurs neither in the Scripture nor in Christian tradition.” But the objections proved of no consequence to the politically ruthless theologians who traveled to Nicaea with a set agenda in mind.

By this decision, the Council of Nicaea created the literally fantastic Jesus of faith and adopted the pretense that this was a historically accurate rendering. Its actions also established the criteria by which the New Testament books would later be chosen. The Council of Nicaea produced a world of Christianity where a code of belief was held in common. Anything different was to be deemed heresy and to be rejected and, if possible, exterminated.

Enter the “Inquisitors”

What followed is a bloody chapter in the history of early Catholicism. Baigent retells this bloody history of the “Inquisitors,” who became “the Church’s killers — their army of secret informers,ruthless interrogators, and cold judges, all acting in the name of Christ.” Pope Damasus I (366-84) hired a group of killers to spend three days massacring his opponents.”

The next bloody chapters started in the 12th century and lasted over a thousand years of what was called the “Holy Inquisition” by which hundreds of thousands of non-believers – heretics and witches – were massacred, many burned alive for not embracing Constantine’s and Rome’s version of Christianity. The Dominicans played a central role as the Church’s killers. “The Inquisition boasted that over the course of 150 years it burned approximately thirty-thousand women — all innocent victims of a Church-sanctioned pathological fantasy.”

One particularly bloody chapter was the extermination of the Cathars of Languedoc in Southern France. These were

“holy men and women who embraced a life of renunciation, spirituality, and simplicity — les Bonhommes, they called themselves, ‘The Good Men’ or ‘the Good Christians.’ They served a population who craved personal religious experience but whose needs were hardly served by the established church, which had abdicated its spiritual role for one more commercial and venal.”

The fault line between belief in and knowledge of truth

During the Second Century AD there was a “basic fault line that separated two strong traditions…: on the one side were those who sought knowledge [Gnostics], and on the other were those who were content with belief. It is important,” Baigent writes, “that we distinguish between the two since this fault line is one of the primary forces that ultimately crystallized the orthodox Christian position.”

Today we are seeing the emergence of something quite similar to what was then called “Gnosticism” as the truth again emerges through the quagmire of a spiritual revolution in which people the world over are awakening to the realization that we are divine, made in the image and likeness of God – gods incarnate in human form to co-create a Heaven here on Earth, fulfilling Jesus’s sole mission and purpose for incarnating two-thousand years ago. And this is my offering as a worthy and believable alternative to living in a system of belief that has too long denied the truth that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, within us and all around us. We are finally repenting – literally turning around – and seeing with new eyes that this truth is true and all is well. Unconquerable Life is prevailing over centuries of lies and deception.

I will end this post on that note, because this does present a worthy and believable alternative to Christianity, which is based on the Jesus of Faith rather than the Jesus of History.

In my next post, I will explore the historical records that shed light on the “eighteen missing years” of Jesus’s life of which there is no Biblical record. Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Antony Palombo

Read my Health Light Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com.

“The Jesus Papers”

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“Jars of spring water are not enough anymore. Take us down to the river.”             — Persian Sufi Jelaluddin Rumi

I spent seven years as a young aspirant to the Roman Catholic priesthood and not one class in all those years of seminary training was dedicated to the study of the corrupt political history of the Roman Catholic Church. We were never told the whole truth about the bloody history of Christianity either. Alleged heretics and witches, we were taught, were evil and had to be burned at the stake. Funny how that bit of history didn’t engender fear in us of the Catholic Church and the Pope. But, that was then and things are different today. Or are they? If you don’t get burned at the stake here you spend eternity burning in hell if you dare apostatize yourself and sin against the Church. But first you are excommunicated and barred from receiving the sacraments. It’s still governance by fear, isn’t it?

Now, do not pity me . . . nor judge me too harshly as I pursue this line of inquiry into the mythical story of Christmas and of the life, death and resurrection of the man Jesus, which form the corner stone dogmas of Christianity. I do so out of a deep and abiding love for truth and a compassionate love for my fellowman. I do not like being lied to. I don’t think anybody does. Please forgive me if I step on your beliefs. I don’t mean to cause anyone insult or injury. I do believe, however, that if we do not remember our past, we are likely to repeat it. Perhaps we are repeating it in the Middle East.

A reader made this comment on my last post entitled “Transcending the Christmas Myth”:

“I think it all might help if it leads towards knowing the truth; otherwise it’s just history of the gods and goddesses made in the image and likeness of mankind. These fear-generations would be well left behind with last year’s resolutions.”

To which I replied:

As you continue reading this series of posts, I think you will see that the truth is exactly what I am leading toward. When we know the truth we are freed up from our illusions created by myths. Knowing the truth about Jesus’s life would disturb a lot of people. In the Gospel of Thomas, one of the findings of the Nag Hammadi discoveries, Jesus is recorded as having said “The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.” It is not fear that is generated by knowing the truth about how our beliefs came to be formed by pagan myths of gods made in the images of man. The God of today is still being made in the image of man. Nothing has changed. We need to be “disturbed” out of our illusions. Then we will reign over everything as promised.

Since this interchange, I’ve given some critical thought to what we both acknowledged: that both ancient and contemporary gods are made – fashioned in human consciousness and beliefs – in the image and after the likeness of humans. We project our human attitudes and characteristics on our God: He is jealous, He is vengeful, He is angry, He is loving, He is forgiving, He is a man, as opposed to being a woman, He punishes us when we’re bad and rewards us when we’re good. All human attributes and characteristics.

Now, the suggestion that my post generates fear aroused in me a curiosity about how many of my readers felt fearful reading my post. Even more curious am I about how many Christians really care about the history of Christianity – or of Christmas, for that matter. Probably not very many. Most are content with their beliefs, especially their religious ones. Alas, does it really matter what happened in the far distant past? What really matters is what we are doing now to created a more authentic and kind world, a world founded on truth rather than beliefs.

Over the years I’ve come to understand that it is easier to take candy away from a child than it is to take away a person’s beliefs. I was glad to let go of mine when a friend came along and provided me a worthy and believable alternative: the truth: that God is to be known and experienced and not just believed in. We human beings seem to love our beliefs more than we love the truth.

I wonder, dear reader, if you will allow me space here, without judgment, to explore some information that has come into my hands pertaining to the apparent fabricated “Jesus of Faith” and the factual “Jesus of history” – to the extent that authentic facts are available for exploration . . and fortunately they seem to be. Several books have recently been written by authors who have done the research and explored the historical evidence that what has been handed down to us by our ancestral religious “authorities” has been less than accurate and truthful. In fact, according to one author, it has largely been a pack of fabricated lies designed to manipulate and literally frighten the “faithful” into obedient subjection. And that’s putting it mildly – not intending to offend anyone. (I do intend to provide a worthy and believable alternative as I complete this series of posts. So, bear with me as we move forward.)

The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History by Michael Baigent is one such book – whose subtitle speaks for the theme of the book and the intent of its author. I’m reading it for the second time with highlighter in hand, simply because there are just so many provocative findings in his exhaustive research into historical records – pivotal of which are what he calls “the Jesus papers” that contain letters written to the Sanhedrin by Jesus himself in defense of accusations leveled against him regarding his alleged claim to being divine. Jesus’s answer in strikingly clarifying as to who he was. Here’s the excerpt from Baigent’s book that tells the story of this dogma-shattering historical find:

This figure, the Messiah of the Children of Israel, was defending himself against charges made by the Sanhedrin – he had obviously been accused of calling himself “son of God” and had been challenged to defend himself against this charge. In the first letter, the messiah explained that what he meant was not that he was “God” but that the “Spirit of God” was in him – not that he was physically the son of God, but rather that he was spiritually an adopted son of God. And he added that everyone who felt similarly filled with the “spirit” was also a “son of God.”

The letters referred to here are two papyrus documents found in 1961 that also contained an Aramaic text, along with other objects, that dated the finds at about A.D. 34, which was just after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus. (I will address his “alleged” crucifixion in another post.) The papyrus texts were two letters, written in the Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, addressed to the Jewish court, the Sanhedrin. The writer of the letters called himself “‘bani meshiha’ – the Messiah of the Children of Israel.” The author continues:

In other words, the messiah – who must be the teacher we know as Jesus – explicitly states in these letters that he is not divine – or at any rate, no more than anyone else. This, we can be sure, is some­thing the Vatican would not like to be made public.

While listening to this story, I was struck by the similarity with a very curious incident described in the Gospel of John (10:33-35): in a short passage, it describes the “Jews” as being intent upon stoning Jesus for blasphemy. They hurl an accusation at him, saying, “You are only a man and you claim to be God.” Jesus calmly answers their chall­enge, quoting from Psalm 82: “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I said, you are gods?’ So the Law uses the word gods of those to whom the word of God was addressed.” Is this Gospel reporting some garbled residue of this investigation of the meshiha by the Sanhedrin?

Having discovered these two papyrus letters, my friend showed them to the archaeologists Yigael Yadin and Nahman Avigad and asked their opinion of them. They both confirmed that these letters were genuine and important.

Unfortunately, they also told some Catholic scholars – very likely one or another of the members of the Ecole Biblique, consultants to the Pontifical Biblical Commission – for word reached Pope John XXIII. The pope sent word back to the Israeli experts asking for these docu­ments to be destroyed.

My friend refused to do this, but he was prepared to make a promise that they would not be published for twenty-five years. This was done.

At the time I met him the twenty-five years were long expired, but my friend still refused to release the texts because he felt that releasing them would just cause problems between the Vatican and Israel and inflame anti-Semitism.

In this age of spiritual awakening, these findings should not – and probably do not – shock anyone. I rather suspect that most Christians, and certainly most Catholics, entertain secret doubts about the veracity of church dogmas and their blind faith in them. I do not deny the divinity of Jesus, nor our own divinity as sons and daughters of God – made in the image and likeness of our Divine Creator. I believe that Jesus was a very authentic human being who knew who he was and why he came. He came to bring love back into the hearts of human beings and to restore the connection between Man and our Creator, the Father within. He came to turn people around – the literal meaning of the word “repent” – so that they would see that the Kingdom of Heaven is truly at hand, within us and all around us.

But who factually was Jesus according to historical records? This I will explore in my next post. So, stay tuned. I wish you each one a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

Anthony Palombo

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On Human Relations ——- part 5: The Refugee Crisis

My Chorale PicThe current refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe unveils a crisis in human relations that has been smoldering in the heart of humanity yea these many, many centuries. The emotional and mental eruptions of fear, anger and a sense of threat to our heretofore protected way of life we’ve taken for granted offer viable opportunities for unprecedented change in the ways we view and treat one another.  We see some countries welcoming the refugees with open arms, even celebration. Other countries are treating them as invaders, even criminals, denying them their human rights to asylum as escapees from certain death in their war-torn homelands.  Such hostile attitudes have been part of the human psyche as far back as the Biblical days of tribal warfare, still going on. They are not going to be abandoned without deliberate action in thought, word and deed on the part of all the players in this crisis.

If you look closely at this crisis, the one attitude all the players exhibit is that of survival. The refugees are driven by survival, both in their own country and in a foreign land. Countries being “invaded” are concerned with survival of their culture and way of life. Let’s face it: we are all feeling put-upon and damn uncomfortable with this unprecedented migration of millions of Arabs out of the unsettled Middle East pouring into the well-settled and comparatively comfortable Western world. We worry about where it will all end up. Will we be forced to take in refugees into our homes, feed them and help them find work and a place in our society? Will we be faced, in other words, with the same question Cain faced after he slew Able: “Where is thy brother?” Are we being reminded in this refugee crisis that we are our brother’s keeper?

What are the solutions being considered?  One is to impose a quota on all countries so that the refugees will be given sanctuary. Another is to simply deport the “illegal immigrants” back to their homelands. That raises the problem of whether an immigrant is migrating for a better way of life or fleeing from war and death by starvation. Another solutions is to stem the violence in Syria that is driving the refugees out of their homes and lands–deal with the cause, in other words, so that the refugees can return home and resettle their lands. I like that solution. But how are we going to bring insane rulers to negotiate sane agreements and policies?

As I write this blog post I am envisioning this last scenario as a viable one: deal with the cause of the refugee crisis, which is President Assad and the Islamic State called “ISIS.”  Somehow I must work out this resolution in my consciousness, see it as possible, envision it as already happening. Pray it into manifestation, in other words.

I propose that this resolution to the refugee crisis through peaceful negotiations between President Assad in Syria and the League of Nations be adopted and allowed to manifest.  I invite you and all of your friends to join me in this prayer. A thousand people praying and meditating can shift this crisis toward peaceful resolution in Syria.  Join me in this prayer.

Anthony Palombo

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