An historical Jesus

iBrian

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Here's a big discussion issue...

What would an Historical Jesus have been like?

Meaning: the Gospels cover only a small fraction of Jesus, the majority of which is unknown. So the question is - what was Jesus like in these time periods not described?

OR:

How closely can we presume the Gospels actually convey an actual truth of real events - we know they were written for difference audiences, but doesn't this argument also imply that there was a specific bias, spin - even a purposeful act of propaganda - involved in the shaping of these texts?

OR:

Was there ever a person who was the original source of the Gospel stories? Perhaps a radical Rabbi, or peaceful politician - and thus an interesting but otherwise unremarkable man from the peripherals of history began used later as a vehicle for a new Asian theology?

OR:

Was there never a real person upon which the stories were built up, because they were all simply fictional parables for the masses?


To what extent do we grant Jesus an historical presence, and how much of one do we grant outside of Faith?
 
One interesting fact to keep in mind when thinking about historical Jesus is that scholars now believe there were many, many gospels, only four of which ended up in the Bible. These were hand-picked and edited by powerful Romans as they shaped the early church. So, the gospels that were preserved in the Bible are perhaps not very pure, having been bent by politics.

I am far from a Biblical scholar, so my facts may be confused or skewed, but I believe the discovery of the dead sea scrolls in the early 20th (?) century revealed some of these other gospels, the most famous and complete of which is the Gospel of Thomas. It's been a while since I've read this, but I remember it giving a slightly different picture of Jesus. It seems that I recall it dealing with his brother, James, and also painting Jesus in a bit more radical light; for example, telling two of his disciples to leave their just-deceased father before he had been properly buried ("Let the dead bury the dead") and to follow him.

Maybe someone more knowledgable in this area can elaborate on or correct my two paragraphs. :)
 
there are quite a few mentions of "the followers of joshua the son of potiris" in the Talmud, usually uncomplimentary (well, he was a heretic according to the rabbis). we certainly believe there was a real historical person, but that obviously he wasn't the Messiah, let alone an incarnation of the Divine. he was, for us, a radical preacher that got on a lot of people's nerves and incurred the wrath of the roman military dictatorship that was running judea at the time - although most of his directly reported speech is pretty uncontroversial from a rabbinic PoV. for us the whole thing was a lot more like "life of brian" than anything else, which was pretty much why jews in general rather enjoyed the film; it felt real to us - especially the PFJ and the JFP. deary, deary me, how accurate that is.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bananabrain said:
there are quite a few mentions of "the followers of joshua the son of potiris" in the Talmud, usually uncomplimentary (well, he was a heretic according to the rabbis). we certainly believe there was a real historical person, but that obviously he wasn't the Messiah, let alone an incarnation of the Divine.
Until Jesus’ baptism by John at about the age of 30 he had been an obscure carpenter from Galilee. But the baptism marked the turning point in his life - he began to believe he could be the Messiah and he now had a mission. Jesus, who was a messenger of God, has been appropriately called the "Son of God" (as a child of God) and "Prince of Peace". We are often reminded of the teachings of Jesus whose words have survived two millennia. His disciples kept him alive in the memories of all who heard and believed his words. They, as well as other "Men of God" who contributed to the compilation of the scriptures of the Bible, were inspired by God to give us guidelines to live by.

See early Christian writings
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

Kurt
 
I said:
What would an Historical Jesus have been like?

In my view Jesus was a practicioner of Tantra who most likely had a Kashmiri guru (there were Jewish communities in Kashmir in those days). His guru saved him from dying on the cross by performing some mass hypnosis where people had the idea that Jesus was being crucified and buried. The closest disciples knew this and you can read it in the original gospel now called 'Mark' if you pay close attention to certain parts of the text and its special use of language there.

How closely can we presume the Gospels actually convey an actual truth of real events - we know they were written for difference audiences, but doesn't this argument also imply that there was a specific bias, spin - even a purposeful act of propaganda - involved in the shaping of these texts?

Only the Markan text is original, the other three are edited copies. It was designed especially to create a myth around the "death" and reappearance of Jesus. Nevertheless it also contains historical material about the tantric teaching of Jesus.

Although Matthew and Luke are copies of Mark, they did also use another gospel now lost called 'Q' (from german 'Quelle' = Source). This 'Q-gospel' started of as a collection of tantric sayings of Jesus but was edited by the community of Jesus followers and enlarged with sayings that reflect their ignorance of the teachings of Jesus. By comparing Matthew and Luke, it is possible to make a reconstruction of 'Q' (already published in original Koine Greek) and of the original teachings (Formative Q).

The deification of Jesus need not have been entirely due to the myth reflected in the Markan gospel. If Jesus was giving tantric initiations, he may have been seen by his initiated followers as a tantric guru who was one with God.

The gospel of Thomas is a very early attempt to reconstruct the lost Q-gospel by a community of Jesus followers who had dissented from the christian majority. It can be shown that Thomas depends on the christian gospels and cannot be based on Q.

Andrew
 
Avinash,

Could you please elaborate your view?

Avinash said:
In my view Jesus was a practicioner of Tantra who most likely had a Kashmiri guru (there were Jewish communities in Kashmir in those days). His guru saved him from dying on the cross by performing some mass hypnosis where people had the idea that Jesus was being crucified and buried. The closest disciples knew this and you can read it in the original gospel now called 'Mark' if you pay close attention to certain parts of the text and its special use of language there.
Why and how would Jesus have a Kashmiri guru? I am assuming you mean to say he traveled to India. When you say there were Jewish communities in Kashmir, are you implying that his guru was a Kashmiri Jew?

Also, perhaps you could give some example from the gospel of Mark for the mass hypnosis theory. What kind of "special use of language" do you mean?
 
What surprises me is how often people refuse to see the political propagandist element in the New Testament. In fact, it is Christians who are far more attuned to this, and freely admit that the works were written with specific audiences in mind - Matthew for Jews, for example.

However, something many people outside Christianity seem to do is accept the presumptions of Christianity in the first place - that the New Testament gospels actually and properly reflect something very real happening there. Are spiritual people really so devoid of political cynicism? ;)
 
Speculation on what happened to Jesus

Hello Pathless,

Pathless said:
Avinash,

Could you please elaborate your view?

Why and how would Jesus have a Kashmiri guru? I am assuming you mean to say he traveled to India. When you say there were Jewish communities in Kashmir, are you implying that his guru was a Kashmiri Jew?

Also, perhaps you could give some example from the gospel of Mark for the mass hypnosis theory. What kind of "special use of language" do you mean?

Well, as you will have noticed or suspected I am just repeating the speculations of others and have combined this with some things I noticed myself in the Markan text.

As the sayings of Jesus are of a tantric/mystic nature and as the behaviour of Jesus with his many demonstrations of occult powers also point to his tantric teachings, I have concluded that the books I read of his visit(s) to India could well be true. There was a Jewish community in Kashmiir where he could have stayed (Jewish graves can still be found there from that time). He could have also learnt these things in Buddhist areas or further inside India but Kashmiir does have a tantric school of its own. The sayings of Jesus are not particularly Jewish, so a Jewish tantric guru isn't necessary although not impossible.

The mass hypnosis theory as such is of course not mentioned in Mark because Mark was promoting a story of Jesus as someone who was destined to die on the cross and be resurrected by God. All the teachings and the behaviour of Jesus before his arrest is in Mark just a foreplay for the main plot that the author of Mark created.

But I did find something odd in Mark. I have read some scholarly comments by people who say that Mark knew Q (he uses small bits and pieces) but that for Mark the teachings of Jesus were secret (as was normal in tantric teachings). So it seems possible that the story created by the author of Mark was like a sort of decoy or substitute for the common people whereas the "initiated" would have learnt the teachings in Q and would have known what really happened to Jesus.

Now to the texts in Mark where it seems Mark is giving a hidden clue of what really happened.
Mark 14:51,52 is not copied in Matthew and Luke and it plays no role whatsoever in the Markan main plot. Some of the greek words that are used here are unique in Mark and some are only repeated in Mark 16:5. The accounts in Matthew and Luke of this last scene differ from that in Mark.

This is the explanation I came up with: the young man with the linnen cloth is Jesus himself and the cloth is his double. Jesus escapes and the double is "crucified" (this could be the occult work of his guru who helped to save him by playing a trick on those who witnessed the crucifixion).

In the scene in the tomb the same young man and the cloth are mentioned again to show that the doubles are once again together. The words for young man and the cloth are only mentioned here in Mark.

All this sounds very fantastic and far-fetched. But not long after this idea about these two texts sprang to my mind, I read in a book about Rudolf Steiner that he had drawn rather similar conclusions about these two texts in Mark although more in the esoteric style of his anthroposophic philosophy.

Some people say Jesus died on the cross and the myth of his resurrection was created by the early Christians. But the above scenario is much more in line with the nature of the teachings and the tantric behaviour of Jesus (set apart from the contrasting passion drama created in Mark). So, I may have gotten this picture by putting speculations together, but I'll stick with it until I can get a more satisfactory idea about what happened. Mass hypnosis by the way is not a very difficult occult power, it just requires a rather powerful mind (that can dominate the minds of others).

Andrew
 
In my view Jesus was a practicioner of Tantra who most likely had a Kashmiri guru (there were Jewish communities in Kashmir in those days).

i'm not a proponent of the "everyone is jewish" theory myself, but this chap here is interested in tracking down the lost ten tribes (from the assyrian destruction of the northern kingdom of israel in late biblical times) and he pulls together a number of interesting aspects of kashmiri sociogeography:

http://moshiach.com/features/tribes/kashmir.php

- although whether you find his historical credentials convincing is, i think, open to discussion. at any rate, kashmiri folklore indicates some jewish input (as does that of the pashtouns in afghanistan) - but jews certainly lived along the entire length of the silk road all the way to kaifeng in china.

however, i would suggest that if jesus had the ability to put himself into a deathlike trance, the disciplines to do so were available at the time through the local schools of mysticism - you wouldn't have had to schlep all the way to kashmir for it.

if you ask me, this is far less problematic in that it doesn't require you to realistically believe that a galilean carpenter went on the 2000-mile round trip involved in this. there is certainly little evidence that anyone else did this sort of thing in the texts we have from the time - although if you are determined to prove a connection between jewish mysticism and its oriental relatives, the kabbalists (apart from the chasidic ones) suggest that the "wisdom of the east" is the mystical knowledge which was sent east with the sons of keturah/hagar when abraham [re]married her after the death of sarah, see genesis 25:1-6. this is certainly one opinion that we have about disciplines like martial arts, yoga, tantra, t'ai chi and all that sort of cool stuff.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bananabrain said:
there are quite a few mentions of "the followers of joshua the son of potiris" in the Talmud, usually uncomplimentary
Christian apologists have regulated those passages as anti-Christian propaganda (which it probably is...) but I've always felt that it would make a good explanation for why the Jewish authorities in the gospels passed on carrying out execution themselves. If he was of some Roman blood or rumored to be, they may have felt a genuine sense of danger dealing with him. See Monty Python's Life of Brian...

Another slightly related note on apologists: the gospels contradict themselves with doctrine on Davidian messiahship and immaculate conception, but by mystic Jewish rationale, considering the bloodline of David died out 500 years before Jesus as a result of corruption what better reason for an unappreciated embodiment of God to set foot on earth and silently judge both the pious (as represented by the Jews) and the secular (as represented inaccurately in the Romans).

And that's my rant for this evening.
 
I said:
Also, there was a rumoured "secret Mark" even in ancient times:
Has there been a thread on that yet? I've always felt the available 'secret mark' was a hoax. Not a fraud, but a hoax. I always thought it was a cute little gay joke invented by Morton Smith that got out of hand.

Its late, so I'll wait until tomorrow and then look to see if that's been done before.
 
After discovering that a highly touted Jesus Seminar historical Jesus scholar knew less than I did about the Talmudic stories of Yeshu ben Pantera, I put more weight on those Talmudic references. It is impossible to read them without thinking they refer to Jesus as there are far too many points of similarities in the stories to be coincidental, e.g the Miriam and Joseph characters, the flight to Egypt, an Inn featured prominantly, and most telling, Yeshu p.o his rabbi and being condemned to death as blasphemer. The Yeshu conflict with his rabbi gives motivation for Jesus' pronounced anti-rabbinic statements in the NT Gospels. Most convincing for me though is this: According to the Talmud accounts, Jews themselves killed Yeshu, stoned him to death and hung on a tree as per Jewish law, (see Paul's reference to it in Gal 3:13 I believe). Given the immense anti-Semitism that resulted from the NT Gospels claims of Romans killing Jesus with Jewish conivance, why on earth would rabbis risk even more persecution from Roman Empire Gentiles by claiming to kill Yeshu-Jesus themselves? Only for intellectual and religious honesty, but even so, those Talmud accounts were hidden away from Gentiles and some Talmuds purged of the stories. I think when Gentile intellectuals during the Dark and Middle Ages periodically found out about the Yeshu stories and the blatant anti-Gentilism, anti-Christianity of rabbinic Judaism, they went ballistic and Jews would lose their Gentile benefactors, pogroms ensued and diaspora Jews were persecuted until the stories were forgotten again. I recommend people read them for themselves and make their own conclusions.
 
Yeah, I've been acquainted with a lot of Jewish Talmud apologists, but I think the modern refusal to admit that those passages were either altered to refer to a Jesus character or originally written about such a character only gives anti-semites like Hoffman and Duke more ammunition. Its only natural that every religion slanders the other.
 
I'm not sure if there is a specific thread on Secret Mark - feel free to start one if you wish. :)

As for the Jesus Seminar - I'm not at all sure how they claim to be able to make probability statements as to whether an historical Jesus made any single statement. Although there is room to make literary criticism based on surviving texts and fragments from within the first couple of centuries, the supposed thoroughness of the Jesus Seminar itself I view with strong scepticism. Essentially, we seem to have a crew of self-appointed experts making judgements on an apparently rather arbirary basis.

I stand to be corrected, of course. :)
 
I said:
As for the Jesus Seminar - []
Essentially, we seem to have a crew of self-appointed experts making judgements on an apparently rather arbitrary basis.

Namaskar,

I'm not sure how arbitrary their basis is, but it's very different from mine so I can't agree with many of the choices they make. I think many of these scholars were young in the sixties and are biased towards a Jesus as a social revolutionary. :cool:
 
The Jesus Seminar types have investment in their Historical Jesus as they see him through the eyes of the NT Gospel writers, the people they've spent lifetimes professionally studying. The Talmud is out of their area of expertise so they don't even look there closely which is a shame for good investigative research as the difference between Talmudic and NT accounts of Jesus or Yeshu are extremely interesting. The slanderous accounts of Yeshu ben Pantera in the Talmud make no sense as Jewish false witness against the founder of Christianity because these accounts would only inflame ancient Roman Empire Christians against the Jews even more than the NT Gospels did. It is the fact that they exist at all that should have alerted Bible scholars to thoroughly research them before going with the Roman Catholic Church versions of the story of Jesus. Also, the early date of Yeshu, nearly a hundred years before Jesus, gives plenty of time for a Christ mythology to develop out of oral Yeshu traditions and also explains how Paul found developed Christian churches early on in his ministry as well as the presence of Christians in Rome at a very early date.
 
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