History and Myth …
HISTORY AND MYTH
The scientific analysis of the literature of the New Testament reveals many signs of a heavy ecclesiastical censorship of the historical aspects of the early christian origins
“First of all I must thank Professor Daniel E. Gershenson (Department of Classical Studies at Tel-Aviv University) for having turned my bad English text into a decent version, and (as a person who has a deep knowledge of Hebrew language and religion) even for his precious advice and suggestions concerning Hebrew words and historical aspects of some Biblical passages”. D.D.
- 1 – Jesus’ trial: why is it a historical fake?
2 – The death sentence: a Jewish or Roman responsibility?
3 – The son of God: alias…Jesus Barabbas.
4 – The historical fake: Jews sentence Jesus but the Romans execute him.
5 – The Christians’ responsibility in anti-semitism
6 – The awaited Messiah?
7 – “Here is the anointed of Yahweh, the king of the Jews…”.
8 – St. Paul, the inventor of the new Christian religion.
1 – Jesus’ trial: why is it a historical fake?
We will consider the episode of Jesus’ arrest, and the legal action which was brought against him by the Jewish authorities. The analysis of texts will emphasise the differences between the synoptic group (Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Lucas) and the fourth Gospel (according to John). What do these differences consist of?
First of all we notice that the three synoptic Gospels agree on the existence of a Jewish trial, and also on the charges, witnesses, and the final sentence: a death sentence for the crime of blasphemy, since Jesus declared himself “son of God”, in public. Concerning this matter we may already raise some objections; in fact a German author, Dr. Weddig Fricke, has written a whole book, full of critical remarks, showing the impossibility, according to ancient Jewish law, of bringing a legal action under the conditions described by the synoptic Gospels. Let us look at some of his most significant assertions:
1 – Legal actions could not be
brought in a private house, but only in the proper place: in the temple
area called the “Beth Din”, the seat of the Great Sanhedrin, for capital
2 – Legal actions can not be brought at night-time,
3 – Legal actions could not be brought on the eve of a holiday,
4 – A sentence could not be pronounced on the basis of an extorted confession,
5 – Death sentences could only be pronounced at least 24 hours after the interrogation…
In addition to all of these important objections, we must
consider that having declared oneself “son of God” probably was not a
crime of blasphemy nor was it at all a capital offense. The fact simply
is that the expression “son of God” was very common and could be used to
represent all human beings: all the Jews, according to the Torah, were
sons of God; in another case the title might be used to characterise a
devoted man or somebody who had been initiated into a condition of
holiness and had taken particular vows (like those called “Nazirites”).
There are many Hebrew expressions like “son of the truth”, meaning a
particularly honest man, “son of the light”, meaning someone who is
spiritually enlightened, “son of the darkness”, meaning a hardened
These and many other considerations seriously cast doubt on the hypothesis that the synoptic authors, presenting their version of the trial, testified to a historical truth and did not rather proffer a personal interpretation with the specific goal of supporting particular doctrinaire, ideological and (why not?) political assumptions.
A definitive blow to the historical credibility of the synoptic presentation is dealt by the version we encounter in the Fourth Gospel; let us look at the differences:
1 – The synoptics say Christ was arrested by a not well-identified crowd of people who had been sent there by the High Priest, and they do not reveal the identity of the one of Jesus’ disciples who offered physical resistance. On the contrary the fourth Gospel tells of a cohort of soldiers and of a tribune, thus giving us precise information on there having been present a Roman military force of 600 men (…!!!…), and it clearly says that resistance was offered by Peter who, on that occasion, had his sword drawn, and cut off the ear of one of the High Priest’s guards. From these circumstances we can easily understand that military action had been explicitly initiated by Pilate. Otherwise 600 Roman soldiers would never have moved in the depth of the night, just to arrest an unusual preacher, whose only crime was having declared himself “son of God”.
2 – The synoptics say that as soon as Jesus was arrested, he was immediately brought to the High Priest Caiaphas’ private house. The fourth Gospel, on the other hand, says he was brought to the house of Annas, the High Priest’s father-in-law.
3 – The synoptics relate that a legal action was brought against Jesus in Caiaphas’ house in regard of which he maintained an obstinate silence, and did not agree to answer any questions, but only gave a short affirmation when asked whether or not he was the “son of God”. At this juncture the trial should have come to a rapid end and the death sentence pronounced. The Fourth Gospel, on the contrary, does not mention any Jewish legal action; instead of being silent Jesus is said to have answered the questions the people asked him and even to have participated in a discussion but, since there was no regular legal action brought against him, no death sentence should have been pronounced against him, of course. The whole thing looks like a scene from a waiting room, before Jesus was consigned to Pilate’s care; and we can deduce from this that the entire action was not conceived and initiated by the Jews, but rather by the Romans, possibly with the connivance of the Jewish authorities.
2 – The death sentence: a Jewish or a Roman responsibility?
What have we emphasised so far? Two things: first that the Synoptics seem to be resolved to represent all the actions taken against Jesus (his arrest, trial, and sentencing) as definitely the will of the Jews. Nevertheless, having described a clearly impossible trial and an irregular sentence, and having exerted strong censorship on important issues, which the fourth Gospel speaks about with no reluctance, they arouse the reasonable suspicion that their version purposely changes the meaning of events, in order to have them conform to some preconceived notions we shall not be loath to understand: for example, the Jews must appear to be guilty of hostility against Jesus, and the Romans exculpated.
The second thing we have emphasized is the indication that all the action against Jesus was conceived and instigated primarily by the Romans.
We can consider the way blasphemers were usually treated by the Jews: were they arrested by Roman soldiers? Were they consigned to Pilate, so that he might try them according to Roman Law? Were they whipped by the Romans and then crucified? Not any of these things! Blasphemers, recognized as such after a regular Jewish trial, were stoned to death by the Jews, and the Romans cared not at all about these affairs.
If we compare the descriptions of the trials, as presented in the four Gospels, we can find another significant indication. Pay attention to what the computer analysis emphasized when the description of the Jewish trial according to Matthew (the irregular legal action brought in the house of the High Priest) was compared with the description of the Roman trial, according to Mark (the legal action that was brought in front of Pilate):
J = JEWISH TRIAL, MATTHEW (Mt 26, 62-64)
R = ROMAN TRIAL, MARK (Mk 14, 4-5, 2)
J1 – And the high priest arose, and said unto him,
R1 – And Pilate asked him again, saying,
J2 – Answerest thou nothing?
R2 – Answerest thou nothing?
J3 – What is it which these witness against thee?
R3 – Behold how many things they witness against thee.
J4 – But Jesus held his peace,
R4 – But Jesus yet answered nothing,
J5 – And the high priest answered and said unto him
R5 – And Pilate asked him
J6 – …tell us whether thou be the Christ…
R6 – Art thou the King of the Jews?
J7 – Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said…
R7 – And he answering said unto them, Thou sayest it…
There can be no doubt about it: the Jewish trial appears just like a copy of the Roman one, with exactly the same words pronounced; although the Fourth Gospel mentions no legal action in the house of the High Priest, as we have already noted. In short, the Synoptic authors reveal their need to depict the Jews as those who wanted Jesus’ death, not the Romans, which is why they invented the existence of a previous legal action in the house of the High Priest before the later one in the presence of Pilate.
All these observations give us decisive elements of interpretation: the starting point of the synoptic tradition is the explicit need to turn the Romans’ responsibility into that of the Jews, perhaps because admitting the Romans’ responsibility would have had unacceptable political implications.
3 – The son of God: alias…Jesous Barabbas.
Let us consider once again the reason the Synoptic authors adduce for the death sentence meted out to Jesus: his having declared himself “son of God“; this formulation, at this point, is not free from the suspicion of being but a mere pretext contrived in order to turn the Romans’ responsibility for the sentence into a Jewish one. Here too we can identify an important sort of censorship used by the authors; for the reluctance of those who never explained certain questions (and maintained a sort of conspiracy of silence) to do so becomes very significant. Practically, we now must wonder what terms the High Priest would have employed in the Aramaic idiom that was spoken in Palestine at that time to ask Jesus whether he was the “son of God“, in order to trap him and charge him with blasphemy (according to the synoptic version, of course).
Now then, everybody knows that the name of God could absolutely not be pronounced by the Jews, as to do so was, and still is, a substantial sacrilege. Nobody, but the High Priest on the Day of Atonement could pronounce the name Yahweh; therefore, every time there was the necessity of addressing God or referring to Him, the Jews substituted terms like Adonai, Eloah, Supreme, Lord, Father, etc… Just the last one, “Father”, which in Aramaic is “Abba“, was the most commonly spoken by Jesus and it is commonly used in the Gospel texts. We can inspect these sentences: “…And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee…” (Mk 14, 36), “…when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels…” (Mk 8, 38), “…that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses…” (Mk 11, 25), “…I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” (Mt 11. 25). Such examples are very numerous in the Gospels.
Hence, both Jesus and the High Priest, instead of saying “son of God“, would have certainly used the expression “son of the Father“, that has been kept in Latin as the regular “filius Patris“, which in the Aramaic idiom is rendered by the words “bar”, that means “son”, and “Abba”, that means “father”; namely the entire expression is “bar Abba“, which can even be pronounced with no pause and so sounds like the word “Barabbas” (there are numerous similar cases: Barnabas means “son of the master”, Bartholomew means “son of Ptolemy”. etc…). Therefore the whole expression we know as “Jesus, the son of God” may appear in Aramaic as “Jeshu bar-Abba“.
I am sure that any reader, at this point, coming to learn of such an odd coincidence, will be somewhat surprised. Of course I am referring to the similarity (we might even say equality) between the expression “son of God“, as it sounds in Aramaic, and the name of the prisoner who was liberated in the place of Jesus, that is Barabbas. All the more so as that lucky fellow’s name wasn’t really Barabbas: for the Gospels affirm he was nicknamed Barabbas. What does this mean? Should we believe he was “son of God” too? However, what was his real name?
In order to be able to answer this question we must know that some old manuscripts of the Gospel according to Matthew, dating back to the fourth century, call this fellow not only by his nickname but even give his real name as “Jesous Barabbas“ (the manuscript having been written in ancient Greek). In actuality the authors did nothing but transcribe in Greek characters the Hebrew expression “Jeshu bar Abba“, whose meaning we already know: “Jesus the son of God” [let all those who are reluctant to believe this see the “Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine”, by Augustinus Merk, edited in 1933 by the Istituto Biblico Pontificio, page 101, where the sentence that is commonly rendered “…And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas…” (Mt 27, 16) is written “…And they had then a notable prisoner, Jesus called Barabbas…”].
What are we to say to this?
Why have translators made Barabbas anonymous from the fourth century on?
Indeed, why have they let us believe that Barabbas is his real name?
What the deuce is hidden behind the curious circumstance that during the action brought by the Romans, two persons were brought into the presence of Pilate: Jesus the son of God (that is Jeshu bar-Abba), who was sentenced to death, and Jesus Barabbas (that is exactly the same), who was liberated?
Why the Christians have always been kept in the dark about the fact that the Aramaic “Barabbas” is not a name but the equivalent of the modern expression “son of God“?
As we can see, the subject begins to raise some curious enigmas. Even
so, among the many questions we cannot answer, one, on the contrary, it
appears we can: we can be sure the Gospel narration of Christ’s Passion
has been censored and is full of literary tricks contrived on purpose so
as to thoroughly distort some important aspects of the historical truth
about the way Jesus was arrested, tried, sentenced, and executed; and
about the reasons why all of these things happened.
Please do not think there is some conjuring trick lurking behind what we have said so far, based on plays upon words because, if such word plays really do exist, it is not we who are to blame, but those who wrote the Gospels or, in any case, retouched them later.
4 – The historical fake: Jews sentence Jesus, but the Romans execute him.
Some other important indications, which turn out badly for the historicity of the Gospel narration of Jesus’ Passion, concern the traditional explanation of the presumed necessity of the Jews’ having consigned Jesus into Pilate’s hands. Usually it is said that the Jews had no right to execute any death sentence. How has it been possible to affirm such a blunder? The same Gospels show it is but a botched trick; for we know that
1. Herod executed hundreds of Jews;
2. the famous adulteress who was about to be stoned by the Jews survived thanks to Jesus who said: “…He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her…”;
3. Saint Paul was present at the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen;
4. John the Baptist was executed by the Jews;
5. after Jesus’ death the Synedrion threatened the apostles with the death sentence;
6. James the apostle was stoned by the Jews in Jerusalem;
7. the same Jesus, according to what the Gospels affirm in many different circumstances, ran the risk of being stoned by the Jews…
Need we go on? There is more than enough evidence for executions of Jews, by Jews, in the same Gospels. Nevertheless, in Jesus’ case, it is surprisingly said that the Jews had no right to execute a death sentence and had to put Jesus the blasphemer into Pilate’s hands.
All these things testify to one simple truth: the desperate and unescapable necessity for the Gospels’ authors to demonstrate that, in spite of the form of a typical Roman execution (the crucifixion), the Romans were completely innocent of Jesus’ death since only the Jews were guilty of it, as they were his real enemies. That is why the historical absurdity of a Roman procurator imploring the Jewish people to liberate the preacher was invented.
5 – The Christians’ responsibility in anti-semitism.
According to the Christian “historical” version, the “praefectus Iudaeae Pontius Pilatus” (the prefect of Judea, P. Pilate) was compelled to liberate an outlaw, perhaps a revolutionary, as the Gospels depict him, instead of the preacher, because the people preferred Barabbas to Jesus. He even tried to implore the Jews, but they insisted crying: “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and were resolute in their decision to liberate the outlaw (the Fourth Gospel says the “robber“) and to let Romans execute the man who is said to have cured blind people and lepers. It is, of course, a topsy-turvy absurdity: reasonable persons would find it much more logical for the robber to be executed, and a stay of execution granted the preacher, instead of the other way around; also for an authoritarian stance to have been taken by the procurator instead of by the suppliants; also for the people to have desired to set the healer and the preacher free, rather than the thief… Something fraudulent is hidden behind this presentation!
How many Christians have undertaken to study that historical period closely? How many have asked themselves whether the presumed custom of liberating a prisoner on the occasion of the Jewish holiday of Passover really existed or not? How many have read the works of the Jewish authors Philo and Josephus Flavius, Jesus’ near contemporaries, or even know they exist? These two authors, who describe in detail customs and events in ancient Palestine, never mention such a custom and always depict Pilate as a cynical and hard procurator who never asked permission of anybody and who, even less, ever submitted himself to the popular will of the Jews but, on the contrary, always ruled with a strong hand and atrocious cruelty. The Pilate of the Gospels, in front of the shouting crowd, declares himself defeated and announces blamelessly: “I’ll wash my hands, you are responsible for this innocent blood, not I!” and then sets free a man many theologians want to identify as a revolutionary, one who fought the might of the Roman invaders.
At this point, into the mouth of the Jews there has been put a sentence that is a real ideological manifesto: “…Then answered all the people, and said: – His blood be on us and on our children…” (Matt. 27, 25). This is the starting point of a two-thousand years old anti-Semitism.
The Jews of Jesus’ days seem aware of their fate and, what is more
curious, ready to accept it: the terrible war against the Romans, the
destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the massacre of hundreds of
thousands of them, the Diaspora, the persecutions perpetrated by the
Christians, the Inquisition, the infamous name
“perfidious Jews“, two thousand years of oppression and extermination…
Well then, here is a dramatic confirmation; the authors who composed the four Gospel texts called canonical by the Church (meaning they are the only ones that evidence the truth) had without a doubt a fixed idea: they had to discredit the Hebrew race and cover it with shame for having wanted the death of the “son of God”; so sanctifying and excusing Christianity’s historically hostile attitude towards Judaism.
Racism was generated and nourished by this inexpedient affirmation of the Gospel according to Matthew.
Nevertheless, if the infamy of having killed the Lord belongs to anyone, it is not the Jews but the Romans, of that we can be sure. In fact they had invaded Palestine, incorporated it into their empire, and made its inhabitants subjects of the emperor; they painstakingly repressed every national-religious rising, especially one in a country very difficult to subdue; a country where, for many centuries, prophecies had spoken of a Messiah-king, son of David, who should repeat the deeds of the ancient sovereign who had created the united kingdom of the twelve tribes of Israel; a country where messianic movements (Essenes and Zealots) had arisen and grown strong as never before.
6 – The awaited Messiah?
What on earth were the Gospel authors interested in hiding with their adulteration of the historical truth? That is exactly what we are looking for. The trouble is that the man Pilate’s soldiers had arrested never wanted to found a new non-Judaic religion; he never thought of considering the ancient agreement between Yahweh and his people cancelled; nor did he ever preach to the non- circumcised; there are different explicit occasions in the New Testament in which Jesus speaks of his unequivocal resolve not to preach to non-Jews, but only “…rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 10, 6) [see also: Mt 15, 21-28]; he was born and grew up a Hebrew, and as a Hebrew he lived and died, absolutely determined to remain such.
“Christ” (Christos = anointed, a term that translates the Aramaic word Mashiha = Messiah = anointed into Greek) has been made the Romans’ butt on purpose, and the Romans tried and executed one so named because one of the messianic movements of Jesus’ days (which were similar to the Essenic ones, if not identical to those of the Essenes who were installed at Kirbeth Qumran, the authors of the famous and controversial Dead Sea Scrolls) identified in his person the fated one of whom the messianic prophecies spoke: the chosen of God, the son of David, the anointed of Yahweh, who was to return the house of Israel to its sons, taking it away from the pagan usurpers, away from the hated family of the Herodian monarchs, and away from the corrupt priestly caste of the Sadducees.
Such a man could not end his days but on the Roman gallows, the cross, with a tri-lingual inscription on it: “Melek hay-Yehudim – Basileus ton Ioudaion – Rex Iudaeorum (= King of the Jews)”, whose meaning is more than evident: sentenced to death because he was recognized guilty of rebellion against the imperial authority, since he attempted to re-establish David’s crown on the throne of Israel.
In fact, one thousand years before, the first man to reign over the united twelve tribes of Israel was David, and he also made Jerusalem his capital city,and there he wanted to build a huge temple to the Lord (not that he brought this project into being, but rather his son Solomon). David was the first Messiah (anointed King) of Israel, and to the Jews the idea that the Messiah united spiritual with political power causes no repugnance (exactly like to the Hindus the idea that the Mahatma Ghandi united spiritual with political power causes no repugnance); on the contrary, they have no problem accepting that he even be a warrior who fights and defeats all the enemies of God’s nation.
The term Messiah comes from the typical ceremony of regal investiture: unction or anointing (Mashiha = anointed). The king of Israel had not only political dignity, he was also to be the favourite of God, as he had particular faith and devotion to the Lord of Israel; he received from the hands of the High Priest the ointment of myrrh, sweet cinnamon, spikenard, cassia, and olive oil (Exodus 30, 23-24) and with it he was declared “anointed of the Lord“, that means earthly representative of that sovereignty over the Jewish nation which is due only to Yahweh.
7 – “Here is the anointed of Yahweh, the king of the Jews…”.
Let us consider a famous episode in the Gospel story, from which the typical Christian feast called Palm Sunday is derived: on the Sunday before Easter the whole Christian world celebrates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, when he, riding on an ass, was welcomed by an applauding crowd and by a chorus of hosanna. The episode is called the Messianic Entry, and this name could not be more appropriate: “…Blessed be the KINGDOM OF OUR FATHER DAVID, that cometh in the name of the Lord…” (Mk 11, 10). “…Blessed be THE KING THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD…” (Lk 19, 38). “…On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: BLESSED IS THE KING OF ISRAEL THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, fear not, daughter of Sion (=Jerusalem): behold, THY KING COMETH, sitting on an ass’s colt…” (John 12, 12-15).
The evangelist John makes an explicit reference to a Biblical prophecy
in which a messianic liberator is spoken of; the prophet Zechariah says
that conquered Jerusalem can exult because its King, riding an ass, is
coming to turn out all the foreign oppressors: “…Rejoice
greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold,
thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and
riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass….” (Zechariah 9, 9).
As we see, Jesus was welcomed by everybody as the awaited liberator, as the son of David, as the King of Israel; reading the episodes we can easily deduce not only Jesus’ religious worth, but his political worth as well. Both Jesus and the evangelists could have denied the interpretation offered by the people, had only they wanted to (I mean they could have, had Jesus or the evangelists had the specific intention of specifying that his mission was not political but only spiritual).Why then should they have told us that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was the very fulfilment of the messianic prophecy, if they had truly meant to distinguish between the spiritual mission of Jesus and the political mission of the awaited Messiah? Why should they have insisted on calling him “son of David” so many times (twelve times in the Gospels), thus attesting his full right to the crown of Israel, as a descendant of the dynasty of the ancient founder of the kingdom?
The synoptic Gospels tell of another famous episode: Jesus’ anointing in the village of Bethany. What is very curious is that the synoptic authors seem determined to disguise the true meaning of the episode. Let us consider the following elements:
1. the protagonists are all anonymous, but for the host, who is identified as a Pharisee named Simon, and the star of the scene is just simply “a woman“: “…there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head…” (Mk 14, 3);
2. the time is after the messianic entry, for Mark and Matthew, or long before it, for Luke;
3. Luke doesn’t name the village: “…a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment…began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment” (Lk 7, 37).
Many theologians even try to minimize the differences by proposing the lame excuse that the episode in Luke is not the same. As in many other cases, the synoptic authors submit the events to heavy censorship; in fact if we read John’s version of the episode something surprising happens: all the protagonists have names and the time is just before the messianic entry: “…Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair…” (John 12, 2-3).
We even note that this poor woman, whom Luke calls “a sinner“, had in her hands an alabaster box full of a whole pound of very precious spikenard. It may be that today many readers have not the slightest idea what that means: do poor women usually have large amounts of the most expensive perfumes at hand? The evangelist John avers it cost three hundred pence, that is… sort of thousands of dollars!
Well, then she broke the alabaster box and poured the spikenard on Jesus’ head, or on his feet. And here is the clue to the circumstance: “…And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her…And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him” (Mk 14, 4-11).
What on earth did she do to stir up everybody’s wrath? How could she have induced that reaction in Judas? Are we to believe that the waste of perfume was truly the reason Judas convinced himself that it was better to betray his Lord Jesus? Or should we rather believe that somebody has been trying to tease us, and to take from us any understanding of the real meaning of the episode?
I am sure many readers, at this point, have noticed the succession of events:
1. Jesus Christ is anointed with spikenard, like a new Messiah;
2. somebody is disappointed at that public anointment;
3. Judas the betrayer runs to the chief priests;
4 the next day Jesus Christ makes a messianic entry into Jerusalem, during which the people welcome him as the King of Israel;
5. on the eve of the holiday, in the night-time, Jesus gathers his disciples, fitted out with swords, on the Mount of Olives. They hope their action will be followed by the many thousands of people come to Jerusalem for the great Passover of the Jews;
6. six hundred Roman soldiers, informed by Judas of the place and time of the revolutionary assembly, come, and, after a short fight, arrest Jesus;
7. the man is tried by Romans and sentenced to death;
8. he is crucified as a rebel.
So, what about Mary’s deed?
Now the answer is very simple: it was a mock Messianic anointing, a public declaration of the arrival of the Messiah of Israel, the King of the Jews. That is the reason for the reactions of those who did not agree with the views and opinions of Messianic movements, like Essenes and Zealots. Many people, in the Palestine of Jesus’ days, thought the ideas of the Messianic movements too dangerous:
“…If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation…” says one of the chief priests, and the High Priest goes on: “…consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people,and that the whole nation perish not…” (John 11, 48-50).
And what about Judas?
What is more logical than to understand how troubled he was when he realized that not everybody in Jerusalem agreed with the revolutionary plans of the partisans of Yahweh? On the occasion of the banquet in the house of Simon, when Jesus was anointed in the presence of priests and Pharisees, he saw how much political resistance there was to the idea of a Messianic revolution.
That is why he seriously began to believe the exploit to have no hope of success, and the danger of being arrested and crucified by the Romans to be very real and present. He did not succeed in saving his life anyway: the other partisans who could escape the arrest set him a trap; and a few hours later he was killed and his bowels spread on the ground as a warning to all betrayers.
8 – St. Paul, the inventor of the new Christian religion.
Shortly after the execution of the aspirant-Messiah, a certain Shaul, a Hebrew who was born and grew up in Anatolia, and was accustomed to living together with heathens, and who would rather compromise with the non- circumcised than clash with them, perceived the insane danger of the traditional and radical interpretation that Essenes and Zealots put upon the Messianic prophecies; according to them direct conflict with the enormous power of Rome and her Hebrew footmen (the Sadducean caste and the Herodian family) would lead to victory because of the support of Yahweh himself.
Shaul, whom we call St. Paul, was fully aware of the possibility that the Romans might soon have enough of this small but indomitable province of their empire, and might decide to have done with it.
Even the Sadducees shared that opinion, since they were in a very
comfortable position: protected by the Romans, as well as being rich and
having great influence and prestige in Judean society. We have already
quoted the words of the High Priest who spoke of his fear for the
possible reaction of the Romans against Jewish fundamentalism. He was
right: what the Sadducees and Paul and the Pharisees were afraid of,
came literally true when, in the year 70, the Romans really decided to
have done with Judea. They massacred thousands and thousands of Jews,
destroyed Jerusalem and sacked the temple and put it to the torch.
At first, sharing the views of the Hebrew conservatives, Shaul the Pharisee was an obstinate persecutor of the dangerous adherents of the Messianic sects (alias the Christians; please note that the word “christian” is simply the translation into Greek of the Hebrew word “messianic”); then, as time passed, he was to realise that this way the national-religious fanaticism of the Essene and Zealotic sects would not dampen. Unfortunately even nowadays we see that there is no weapon that can get the better of ethnic-religious fundamentalism.
Therefore Shaul convinced himself that opposing arms to ethnic-religious purity is of no use; you only risk getting the opposite effect; ideas must be fought with ideas. In fact ethnic-religious fanaticism satisfies a psychological need that is closely connected with unconscious feelings of identity and popular pride; the only thing which can compete with that is another psychological image, another idea tailored to the need to satisfy people’s unconscious needs, to give them an identity and a self-respect that is more than the tribal feeling of being part of a given group.
Well then, the only way to fight the dangerous messianic hope of Israel’s national-religious salvation was to create a new messianic hope of salvation, still greater, still more responsive to the psychological needs of the people: the idea of a universal spiritual salvation, of a Messiah who was not to rescue the small house of Israel but all of mankind, especially the poor, the humble, the oppressed, the weak, the sick, the suffering, from their subjection to evil.
Thus Shaul invented the new image of the Messiah (fictitious but winning): Jesus Christ the risen from the dead. He composed this image by grafting onto the remains of the old Messiah (real but politically unsuccessful), who continued to stir up the ardour and the hope of his irreducible followers, the character of the oriental spiritual Saviours, like the Greek Soter, the Persian Saoshyant, and the Indian Buddha.
It was the most genial theological composition ever put into practice from the time that history began. It was the syncretistic meeting of a number of religious components: Hebrew, Egyptian, Hellenic, Persian, and Indian. Destined to become the spiritual guide to the subsequent development of all the western civilisation. It was really able to knock down the pagan Roman Empire (unlike its historical counterpart).
Not that Shaul converted himself on his way to Damascus, but the Christian idea revealed a new dimension, not just right for the future of Israel, but for the future of all of mankind.
When this theological and ideological revision was made, it elicited much more popular response than the original faith in the aspiring Messiah of Israel and his followers; and the Hebrew traditionalists (devoted to their national-religious idea) were seen as an obstacle to the development of the new supra-national idea. Not this alone, but the image of the historical aspiring Messiah of the Jews and his patriotic immolation became an obstacle to the image of the universal Messiah, the apolitical one, solely spiritual, who promised salvation in the kingdom of Heaven, not on earth.
The new Christians were also persecuted by the Romans because they could not forget that the original Messiah was a dangerous martyr of the liberation movement, who could even infect other subject nations of their Empire with his ideas.
That is why the Evangelists were absolutely compelled to distance themselves from the Jews and to turn the Romans’ responsibility into the responsibility of the Jews.
That is why the Gospel stories are filled with tricks, with the purpose of readjusting the image of the Messiah to the new theology.
That is how the Gospels were conceived and written.