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