Here we have a most interesting historical study of the early days of Christendom It is an ebook and is causing considerable comment, both negative and positive.
Christ the Essene
By Dr. Phillip L. Kushner
The British philosopher, William of Occam, has stated that entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity; that the simplest answer to a complex problem is the correct one.
If this thesis, called Occam’s Razor, is applied to many convoluted historical situations such as the origins of various international wars or incidents like the assassination of Kennedy or the realities behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, myths and legends fall and the truth remains standing amongst the rubble.
Ongoing but increasingly limited, public interest in the life and preachings of Jesus the Christ has highlighted this parallel problem: the Christ’s life, ministry and death are so surrounded with a thick growth of myth and legend that it takes a serious, and thoroughly objective, effort to hack through this undergrowth to find the actual, as opposed to the legendary, Jesus.
Stripped of centuries of myth-making, legend and creative writing, the actual facts about Jesus the Christ show a man who is certainly a powerful figure and whose teachings resound, though greatly diminished, even two thousand years after his death.
In an analytical historical study of Jesus, stripped of legend, myth and deliberate propaganda, the real figure emerges from the myth and a strong reality replaces a weak fiction.
Consider, then, this study as an educational process and not an iconoclastic attack and in that light, the resulting revelations will have a powerful, and in the end, a positive, and certainly lasting, effect.
Truth can, indeed, be beneficial. But not to all.
God Hates Fags!
“It’s NOT OK to be gay. It will damn the soul, destroy the life, and doom any nation that tolerates such evil. God Hates Fags is a profound theological statement, which America needs more than it needs oxygen or bread.” — Westboro Baptist Church “News Release,” May 3, 1999.
Although an extreme attitude, the anti-homosexual hysteria expressed by the mid-west Baptist church is prevalent in the preachings and dogmas of the Evangelical, far-right Christian churches. A number of these churches have called for the imprisonment of all homosexuals and a few demand their execution.
That their views are increasingly at odds with the views of the general public is of no concern to them. In their minds, they are right, the others wrong and they will, by one means or another, force the majority to obey the minority.
The interesting part of this hysterical and irrational hatred can be found in the self-hatred of closet gays who have a significant representation in the ministries, but from a historical point of view, the great irony is that the icon of their religion, Jesus, was himself a practicing homosexual!
Not even the year of Jesus’ birth is known although many theologians have concluded that Jesus was born sometime in the autumn , between 11 and 13 CE. Also, there is disagreement about where Jesus was born. Different theologians, as opposed to historians, argue Bethlehem in Judea, and Nazareth.
That was prior to certain archeological discoveries in the Dead Sea area.
From the Dead Sea scrolls, we learn that Jesus was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to an Egyptian Jewish father and Egyptian mother.
He was not born in a stable in Bethlehem nor were there any wise men visiting nor a special star hovering overhead.
The basis of all of this revisionist material is clearly set forth in a scroll found at Cave #3 on the Dead Sea in 1953.
It is on parchment (used only for important documents…the rest were on papyrus) and was written at the time of Jesus, about 50-55 CE.
The document is the only extant period reference to Jesus; all the others were created, often out of whole cloth, two hundred years later, and in the case of significant paragraphs in Josephus, later Christian forgeries.
This revealing scroll has been forensically tested as to age, type of ink, handwriting etc and was very clearly created at the time and place indicated.
The text of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in four different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean.
The scroll in question here, from cave #3 is in Nabataean, used from the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE
From this we discover that Jesus was a Jew but born in Alexandria, Egypt, ten years after the date ascribed in the Gospels to his nativity.
‘Bar Nasha’(son of man) was Jesus name for himself.
Jesus was not a Nazerene, as is often stated in the New Testament, but an Alexandrian Jew. His parents emigrated to Palestine, and the young Jesus joined the Essene religious movement where Jesus’ elder brother was a member of this religious and agricultural cult. He subsequently became heavily involved in their revolts against the occupying Roman power, was one of the leaders in a revolt attempt, fled when the Roman troops attacked in a pre-emptive strike, leaving many of his fellow cult members to be captured by the Romans and all later crucified.
He escaped with a small number of Essenes to the desert where he remained until he died.
The interesting aspect of this is that the Essene cult was an all-male agricultural commune and very specifically homosexual in nature and practice.
In the scroll, Jesus’ sexual orientation is specifically addressed and names of his male lovers covered.
It should be noted that the scrolls themselves were prepared by members of the Essene cult who were themselves homosexuals and therefore not critical of Jesus orientation.
During the Procuratorship of Antonius Felix (52 to 58 CE) Jesus amassed a mob of about 30,000 Palestinian Jewish dissidents, planning to attack Jerusalem and drive out the Roman garrison. One of Jesus’s Essene close associates, a man named Judas, informed Felix of the impending raid and it was stopped by Roman troops with a heavy loss of life for the rebels. Many were taken prisoner, tried and later crucified for rebellion against the Roman government but the period records show, very clearly, that their leader, Jesus from Alexandria, escaped and vanished into the desert.
Roman period writings show that this man came out of the desert with a force of 30,000 and went up the Mount of Olives in order to fall on the city of Jerusalem, expel the Roman garrison and become ruler. Felix engaged the Egyptian and his followers in battle and dispersed them, taking most of them prisoners.
Josephus, who lived and wrote during the period, wrote about this plot of an Egyptian Jew under the procurator Felix.
The history of Josephus is full of similar occurrences., which show the state of mind of the Jewish population at the time of Jesus.
An attempted putsch by the Alexandrian Essene prophet, Jesus, would be fully in accord with it.
If we think of Jesus’ activism as such an attempt against Roman authority, the betrayal of the Essenes to the Roman authorities by Jesus’ co-conspirator, Judas, becomes understandable as well.
Marcus Antonius Felix was the Roman procurator of Iudaea Province 52-58 CE, in succession to Ventidius Cumanus.
The period of his rule was marked by internal feuds and disturbances on the part of the Jewish population, which he put down with great severity.
On returning to Rome, Felix was accused of using a dispute between the Jews and Syrians of Caesarea as a pretext to slay and plunder the inhabitants, but through the intercession of his brother, the freedman Pallas, who had great influence with the Emperor Nero, he escaped unpunished.
Porcius Festus succeeded him as procurator of Judea.
After his move to Judea, Jesus became an Essene, and Christianity as we know it today evolved directly from this sect of Judaism, with which it shared a majority of ideas and symbols
The Essenes were a religious sect of Judaism that existed from the 2nd century BCE to the the 1st Century CE, in Qumran, a plateau in the Judean desert along the Dead Sea.
The origin of the name Essene is debated. Some credible possibilities are either a version of the Greek word for “holy,” or an Aramaic dialect term for “pious.” In their writings, they refer to themselves as the “Sons of Light”.
The Essenes are discussed in detail by Josephus and Philo. Scholars very clearly believe that the community at Qumran, that produced the Dead Sea scrolls, were Essenes, that Jesus was an Essene, and Christianity as we know it today evolved from this sect of Judaism.
The Essenes were, in any case, an agricultural community that had a communistic approach to their life style. There was a common purse and shared wealth and much, if not most, of the first expressed Christian dogma came directly from the Essenes.
Unfortunately for religious acceptance reasons, like the Spartans and Zulus who were essentially a military community cult, the agricultural Essenes were male-oriented and firmly homosexual in nature.
The Essenes were finally outlawed by the Romans following their participation in on-going revolts, and many members were subsequently crucified in a general crackdown under Titus, not because of their sexual practices but because of their political opposition to Roman rule.
The small remnants of the Essenes either retreated to their Dead Sea area and eventually died out or chnged their names and joined other more acceptable Jewish religious groups.
Before the discovery and publication of a number of the Dead Sea scrolls, little was popularly known about the Essenes other than from the writings of a few select contemporary authors. These authors included; the Jewish priest and Galilean commander, Flavius Josephus, in his “Jewish Wars” written about 73-75 CE (Jewish Wars 2:119-161) and Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews” written about twenty years later. (Antiquities 18:11, 18-22); Josephus, claiming first hand knowledge, called the Essenes, the Essenoi.
The earliest mention of the Essenes is by the Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BCE – c. 50 CE) of Alexandria. Philo wrote that there were more than 4,000 Essenes (Essaioi) living in villages throughout the Palestinian- Syrian area. Among their neighbours they were noted for their love of God and their concerns with piety, honesty, morality, philanthropy, holiness, equality, and freedom.
The deeply religious Essenes did not marry and lived a celibate life, and practiced communal residence, money, property, food and clothing.
They cherished freedom, possessed no slaves, and rejected the use of weapons or participation in commerce.
Philo did not mention any names or places, nor any background to the origins of this group.
The next reference to the Essenes is by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (died 79 CE) in his Natural History (N’H,V,XV). Pliny relates in a few lines that the Essenes did not marry, possessed no money, and had existed for “thousands of generations.”
Unlike Philo, who did not mention any particular geographical location of the Essenes other than the whole land of Israel, Pliny, also a geographer and explorer, , located them in the desert near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in the year 1947 by Muhammed edh-Dhib and Ahmed Mohammed, two Bedouin shepherds of the Ta’amireh tribe.
At this point we find this passage, which contains the only description of local people in this section of Pliny’s work:
“From [or towards] the west onward,Essenes flee the banks [or shores] that harm; a group set apart [or isolated] and in the entire world beyond all others extraordinary [or unique] — without any women, stifling every urge, without money [or possessions], consort of palms.”
The nature of the organization clearly indicates that it was an outspoken communism. They lived in common dwellings, 4000 strong in the time of Josephus, in various villages and rural cities of Judea.
“They live there together,” Philo says of them, “organized by corporations and clubs for friendship and dining (kata thasous, hetairias kai syssitia poioumenoi), and regularly occupied in labors for the community.
“None of them desires to have property of his own, neither a house nor a slave nor a piece of land nor herds nor whatever else constitutes wealth. But they put everything together indiscriminately, and all of them use it in common.
“The money they earn by their labor in various ways they hand over to an elected administrator. Out of it he buys what is needed, and gives them ample food and whatever else is needed for life.”
It might be inferred from this that each man produced for himself or worked for wages.
Somewhat later, Josephus gave a detailed account of the Essenes in The Jewish War (75 CE) with a shorter description in Antiquities of the Jews (94 CE) and The Life of Flavius Josephus (97 CE). Claiming first hand knowledge, he lists the Essenoi as one of the three sects of Jewish philosophy to include the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
He relates the same information Philo did on the Essenes concerning piety, celibacy, the absence of personal property and of money, the belief in communality, alienation from associating with women, and commitment to a strict observance of the Sabbath. According to Josephus, they had customs and observances such as collective ownership, the sharing of a common purse, the electing of a leader to attend to the interests of them all whose orders they obeyed, were forbidden from swearing oaths and sacrificing animals controlled their temper and served as channels of peace, carried weapons only as protection against robbers, had no slaves but served each other and, as a result of communal ownership, did not engage in trading. He further adds that the Essenes ritually immersed in water every morning, ate together after prayer, devoted themselves to charity and benevolence, forbade the expression of anger, studied the books of the elders, preserved secrets, and were an all-male society, enjoying their own company in preference to that of women.
Also, there was the observation that the Essenes were an all-male cult, using women to produce male children. Women who produced female children were expelled from the Essene community along with their female child. Like the Spartans, and to a lesser degree, the Greeks, women were used exclusively for breeding purposes.
Both Josephus and Philo have lengthy accounts of their communal meetings, meals and religious celebrations.
Their theology included belief in the immortality of the soul and that they would receive their souls back after death. Part of their activities included purification by water rituals, which was supported by rainwater catchment and storage.
Josephus describes their life as follows:
“After this [the morning prayer] they are dismissed by their chiefs and each goes to the work he has learned, and when they have diligently labored until the fifth hour [counting from sunrise, about eleven o’clock] they come together at a stated place, gird themselves with white cloths and wash their bodies in cold water. After this purification they go into the refectory, into which no one has entry who is not a member of their sect. When they have sat down in silence, the baker puts bread before each man and the cook sets a dish before each with one kind of food. Then a priest blesses the food; and it is not permitted to taste anything before prayer. At the end of the midday meal they give thanks again, and thus before and after eating they praise God, the giver of all food. Then they put off their mantles like sacred clothing and go to work again until evening. Supper is taken in the same way as dinner, and when guests come [members of the order from elsewhere, since strangers were not allowed in the refectory.], they too sit at table with them. Neither outcries nor disorder sully the house, and when they converse, one speaks after the other, not all at once, so that people who are not of their order feel the quiet in the house as mysteriously impressive. The cause of their quiet life is their constant moderation, for they eat and drink no more than is required for maintaining their life.
“In general they do no work except on the instructions of their chiefs, with the exception that they may be free in showing sympathy and helpfulness. Whenever an emergency requires it, any one of them may assist those who need and deserve help, or bring food to the poor. But they may not contribute anything to their friends or relatives without the consent of their chief.”
Their communism was carried to an extreme. It extended to their clothing. Philo says:
“Not only food, but clothing as well is in common with them. For there are heavy cloaks prepared for the winter, and light outer garments for summer, so that every man may make use of them as he will. For what one has counts as the property of all, and what all of them have counts as everyman’s.”
They rejected slavery. Farming was their chief occupation, but they also engaged in crafts. Only the manufacture of luxury articles and weapons of war was forbidden, along with trade.
The basis of their whole communistic system was community of consumption, not social production. There is some talk of the latter too, but it is only a question of work that brings in money for individuals either for wages or for goods sold, in either case the work is done outside the social organization.
All the members of the order however have their lodging and meals in common. That is what held them together, above all. It was the communism of common housekeeping. This requires giving up separate housekeeping, separate families and separate marriages.
From the Essenes down through all the early Christian communistic-type sects we can see that all of them are very firmly against marriage.
The Essenes, iin fact, rejected all social contact with women.
Josephus says this in the eighth chapter of the second book of his history of the Jewish War, from which these quotations on the Essenes have been taken. But in the eighteenth book of his Jewish Antiquities, chapter one, he says on the same question :
“They do not take wives and hold no slaves. They hold that the latter is unjust, and the first would give rise to disputes.”
“They reject marriage, but adopt strange children while they are still young and teachable, consider them as their own children and instruct them in their ways and customs. It is not that they would do away with or forbid marriage or the reproduction of the species. But they say that the unchastity of women must be guarded against, since none of them is satisfied with one man alone.”
In both places it is only practical considerations, not asceticism, that is the basis of opposition to marriage. Josephus knew the Essenes from his own observations. He had been successively with the Sadducees. Essenes and Pharisees until he stayed finally with the latter.
Thus Josephus is in an excellent position to tell us the basis of the Essenes’ hostility to marriage with women.
Not all the Essenes took the first way. Josephus reports in the previously cited eighth chapter of the second book on the Jewish War:
“There is still another sort of Essenes, who are in thorough accord with the previous ones in their way of living, their manners and rules, but differ from them in the matter of marriage. For they say, that those who refrain from marital relations would deprive life of its most important function (meros), reproduction would constantly decrease and the human race would soon die out, if everyone thought as they did. These people have the custom of trying (dokimazontes) wives for three years. If they have shown after three purifications that they are fit to bear children, they marry them. As soon as one is pregnant, her husband no longer sleeps with her. That is to show that they enter into marriage not for the sake of sensual pleasure, but only for the sake of producing children.”
The passage is not quite clear; but it says at least that these marriages of the Essenes were very different from the customary ones. The “trying” of wives does not seem conceivable except on the presumption of a sort of community of wives kept solely for breeding purposes.
Josephus uses the name Essenes in his two main accounts[as well as in some other contexts ("an account of the Essenes";"the gate of the Essenes"; "Judas of the Essene race" but some manuscripts read here Essaion; "holding the Essenes in honour";"a certain Essene named Manaemus"; "to hold all Essenes in honour"; "the Essenes";. In several places, however, Josephus has Essaios, which is usually assumed to mean Essene ("Judas of the Essaios race"; "Simon of the Essaios race";"John the Essaios"; "those who are called by us Essaioi"; "Simon a man of the Essaios race").
Philo's usage is Essaioi, although he admits this Greek form of the original name that according to his etymology signifies "holiness" to be inexact. Pliny's Latin text has Esseni. Josephus identified the Essenes as one of the three major Jewish sects of that period.
It was proposed, before the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, that the name came into several Greek spellings from a Hebrew self-designation later found in some Dead Sea scrolls, 'osey hatorah, "observers of torah." Though dozens of etymology suggestions have been published, this is the only etymology published before 1947 that was confirmed by Qumran text self-designation references, and it is gaining acceptance among scholars.It's recognized as the etymology of the form Ossaioi (and note that Philo also offered an O spelling) and Essaioi and Esseni spelling variations have been discussed by VanderKam, Goranson and others. In medieval Hebrew (e.g. Sefer Yosippon) Hassidim ("the pious ones") replaces "Essenes". While this Hebrew name is not the etymology of Essaioi/Esseni, the Aramaic equivalent Hesi'im known from Eastern Aramaic texts has been suggested
If one identifies the community at Qumran with the Essenes (and that the community at Qumran are the authors of the Dead Sea scrolls), then according to the Dead Sea scrolls, the Essenes' community school was called "Yahad" (meaning "unity") in order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Jews who are repeatedly labeled "The Breakers of the Covenant
The Essenes were the followers of a group of priests who had essentially rejected the Second Temple. They argued that the Essene community was itself the new Temple, although they did not reject the notion of the Temple outright. Eventually, they believed, they would be triumphant, gaining control of the Temple and remaking it according to their own ideals.
Accordingly, the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE was for them a symbol of imminent victory. With this Roman victory over the rebellious Jews came the end of the Sadducees and the end of the house of Shammai.
The Essenes also believed strongly in the end-times and wrote an entire scroll on that subject. The "Rule of War" detailed the battle plans for the "final" battle. When the Romans overran Jerusalem in 68-70 CE they believed that it was time for them to fight the last battle.
They had been ready and prepared for it and therefore threw their entire beings and everything they had into it. They may have thought they were strong, but they were not strong enough to withstand the Romans. They, and other Jewish groups, were mercilessly and almost totally annihilated.
The last few remaining Essenes in Judea were no longer able to maintain their identity, and some merged with the Hillelite Pharisees, out of which was born the tradition of Rabbinical Judaism.
Traditional theological writings and, through them, sociatal attitudes, depict Christianity as the creation of a single man, Jesus the Christ. This view persists even today amongst traditional Christian scholars.. At present, it is acknowledged by many scholars and historians that Jesus is no longer considered a deity, but he still held to have been an extraordinary personality, who came to the fore with the intention of founding a new religion, and did so, with tremendous, if delayed, success.
The British historian, Gibbon, in his definitive Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (written between 1774 and 1788), has clearly pointed out how striking it is that none of Jesus’ contemporary Jewish and Roman historians mentions him, although he is said, in the New Testament, to have accomplished such remarkable feats.
“But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world to these evidences which were presented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, daemons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world.”
At Jesus’ death, according to Christian tradition, the whole earth, or at least all of Palestine, was in darkness for three hours. This took place in the days of the elder Pliny, who devoted a special chapter of his Natural History to eclipses; but of this eclipse and the darkness he says nothing. (Gibbon, Chapter 15).
The first mention of Jesus by a non-Christian is apparently found in the Jewish Antiquities of Flavius Josephus. The third chapter of book 18 deals with the procurator Pontius Pilate, and says among other things:
“About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if he can be called human, for he worked miracles and was a teacher of men, who received the truth gladly; and he found many followers among Jews and Greeks. This was the Christ. Although later Pilate sentenced him to the cross on the complaint of the nobles of our people, those who had loved him remained true to him. For he appeared again to them on the third day, risen to new life, as the prophets of God had prophesied this and thousands of other wonderful things about him. From his comes the name of the Christians, whose sect (phylon) has continued to exist ever since.”
Josephus speaks of Christ again in the 20th book, chapter 9,1, where the high priest Ananus is said in the time of the procurator Albinus to have brought it about that:
“James. The brother of Jesus, said to be the Christ (tou legomenou christou), together with some others, was brought to court, accused as a breaker of the law and delivered over to be stoned to death.”
These pieces of evidence have always been highly prized by Christians; for they come from a non-Christian, a Jew and Pharisee, born in the year 37 CE and living in Jerusalem, and so very well able to have authentic facts about Jesus. And his testimony was the more valuable in that as a Jew he had no reason to falsify on behalf of the Christians.
But it was the promotion and exaltation of Jesus on the part of a pious Jew that made the first passage highly suspect and early-on. The authenticity of these passages was disputed as early as the sixteenth century, and today it is completely agreed by almost all Biblical scholars that it is forgery and does not stem from Josephus. It was inserted in the third century by a Christian copyist, who obviously took offense at the fact that Josephus, who repeats the most trivial gossip from Palestine, says nothing at all about the person of Jesus. The dedicated Christian felt, with understandable justice, that the absence of any such mention in Josephus weighed against the existence or at least the significance of his Savior. Now the discovery of this forgery became strong testimony against Jesus.
But the passage concerning James is also in doubt. It is true that Origen (185 to 254 CE) mentions testimony by Josephus concerning James; this occurs in his commentary on Matthew. He remarks that it is surprising that nonetheless Josephus did not believe in Jesus as the Christ. In his polemic against Celsius, Origen cites this statement of Josephus about James and again notes Josephus’ unbelief. These statements by Origen constitute one of the proofs that the striking passage about Jesus in which Josephus recognizes him as the Messiah, the Christ, could not have been in the original text of Josephus. In point of fact, original period copies of the Josephus writings do not include the passages on Jesus or James.
The passage about James that Origen found in Josephus was also an early Christian forgery. In it the destruction of Jerusalem is said to be a punishment for the execution of James; but this fabrication is not found in the other manuscripts of Josephus. The passage as it occurs in the manuscripts of Josephus that have come down to us is not cited by Origen, while he mentions the other version three times on other occasions. And yet he carefully assembled all the testimony that could be got from Josephus that had value for the Christian faith. It would seem likely that the passage of Josephus about James that has come down to us is also fraudulent, and was first inserted by a pious Christian, to the greater glory of God some time after Origen, but before Eusebius, who cites the passage.
Like the mention of Jesus and James, the reference to John the Baptist in Josephus (Antiquities, XVIII, 5,2) is also highly suspect as another early Christian creation. And if John did exist, there is a body of thought that he might have been Jesus’ older brother, lover and mentor.
But even if the statement about James was genuine, it would prove at most that there was a Jesus, whom people called the Christ, that is, the Messiah. It could not prove anything more.
The next mention of Jesus by a non-Christian writer is found in the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus, composed around the year 100 CE. In the fifteenth book the conflagration of Rome under Nero is described, and chapter 44 says:
“In order to counteract the rumor (that blamed Nero for the fire} he brought forward as the guilty ones, men hated for their crimes and called Christians by the people; and punished them with the most exquisite torments. The founder of their name, Christ, was executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; the superstition was thereby suppressed for the moment, but broke out again, not only in Judea, the land in which this evil originated, but in Rome itself, to which everything horrible or shameful streams from all sides and finds increase. First a few were taken, who made confessions; then on their indications an enormous throng, who were not accused directly of the crime of arson, but of hatred of humanity. There execution became a pastime; they were covered with the skins of wild beasts and then torn to pieces by dogs, or they were crucified, or prepared for burning and set on fire as soon as it was dark, prepared for burning and set on fire as soon as it was dark. Nero lent his gardens for this spectacle and arranged the circus games, in which he mingled among the crowd in the clothing of a charioteer or drove a chariot himself. Although these were criminals who deserved the severest punishment, sympathy arose for them as being sacrificed not so much for the general good but to satisfy the rage of an individual.”
However, its authenticity too is disputed, since Dio Cassius had known nothing of a persecution of Christians under Nero, although he lived a hundred years later than Tacitus. Suetonius, writing shortly after Tacitus, also speaks, in his biography of Nero, of a persecution of Christians, “men who had given themselves over to a new and evil superstition” (chapter 16).
But Suetonius tells us absolutely nothing at all about Jesus and Tacitus does not ever mention his name.
Christ, the Greek work for “the anointed,” is merely the Greek translation of the Hebrew work “Messiah.” As to Christ’s work and the contents of his doctrine, Tacitus says nothing.
The Falsification of the Gospels
The so-called Gospel according to St. Mark is now regarded as the oldest of the gospels, but was not in any case composed before the destruction of Jerusalem, that the alleged author has Jesus predict, which, in other words, had already happened when the author(s)wrote. This Gospel was probably written not less than a half a century after the time assigned for the death of Jesus. The resulting work is obviously the product of a half a century of legend making.
Mark is followed by Luke, then by the so-called Matthew, and last of all by John, the latter appearing for the first time in the middle of the second century, at least a hundred years after the purported birth of Jesus. And it should be noted that the further one advances from the purported period of Jesus’ life and ministry, the more miraculous the gospel stories become. Mark tells of miracles, but they are insignificant ones compared to those that follow.
Take the raising of the dead as an example.
In Mark, Jesus is called to the bedside of Jairus’ daughter, who is at the point of death. Everyone thinks she is dead already, but Jesus says: “the damsel…but sleepeth,” reaches out his hand, and she arises (Mark Chapter 5).
In addition to their credulity, the evangelists were extremely ignorant people, who had thoroughly twisted ideas about many of the things they wrote of. For example, Luke has Joseph leave Nazereth with Mary on account of a census in the Roman Empire, and go to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born.
But there was no such census under Augustus. Moreover, Judea became a Roman province only after the date given for the birth of Jesus. A census was held in the year 7 CE, but in the places where people lived, and thus did not require the trip to Bethelehem
The most accepted manuscripts of Mark close with the eighth verse of the sixteenth chapter, where the women seek the dead Jesus in the grave, but find a youth in a long white robe instead. Then they left the grave and “were afraid.”
What follows in the traditional editions was added much later. It is impossible that the work ended with this eighth verse. Renan already assumed that the remaining portion had been stricken out in the interests of propaganda, since it contained an account that must have been objectionable to later social attitudes and contrary to period church dogma.
The gospels were in no manner to be considered historical records and they were not written to report how things happened, but were works of religious propaganda.
Everything that the gospels say of Jesus’ first thirty years is totally inaccurate, and everything regarding the following years has been thoroughly proved to have been invented.
For example, the so-called Lord’s Prayer is regarded as a specific product of Jesus. But the German historian Pfleiderer shows that an Aramaic Kaddish prayer going far back into time before Jesus, ended with the words: “Exalted and blessed be His great name in the world He created according to His will. May he set up His kingdom in your lifetime and the lifetime of the whole house of Israel.” so the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer is an imitation.
It is extremely evident that the gospels of the New Testament were not written by the disciples of Christ; they do not reflect the impression made by the person of Christ on the members of the Christian community at the time of their purported writing. Even the strongest impression gained from the writing does not testify to the historical truth of any story.
In Judaism, in the centuries directly before and after Jesus, fictitious personalities had tremendous influence when the deeds and doctrines attributed to them corresponded to the deeply felt needs of the Jewish people.
This is shown by example by the figure of the prophet Daniel, of whom the Old Testament book of Daniel reports that he lived under Nebuchadnezzar, Darius and Cyrus, that is in the sixth century BCE, worked the greatest of miracles and made prophecies that were fulfilled later in the most amazing way, ending with the prediction that great afflictions would come to Judaism, out of which a savior would rescue them and raise them to new glory.
This Daniel never existed; the book dealing with him was written about 165 BCE, at the time of the Maccabean uprising; (The Maccabean Revolt was a conflict, lasting from 167 to 160 BC,) and it is no wonder that all the prophecies that the prophet ostensibly made in the sixth century BCE were so strikingly confirmed up to that year, and convinced the pious but ignorant reader that the final prediction of so infallible a prophet must come to pass without fail. The whole book is a bold fabrication and yet had the greatest effect: the belief in the Messiah, the belief in a Savior to come, got its strongest sustenance from it, and it became the model for all future prophecies of a Messiah.
The book of Daniel also shows, however, how casually fraud was, and still is, practiced in pious circles when it was a question of attaining an end. The effect produced by the figure of Jesus is therefore no proof at all of its historical accuracy.
Matters are in no better shape with the rest of early Christian literature. Everything that ostensibly comes from contemporaries of Jesus, as from his apostles for instance, is known to be completely spurious, at least in the sense that it was a production of a much later time.
And as for the letters that are attributed to the apostle Paul, there are none whose authenticity is not in serious dispute, and many of them have been shown by historical analysis to be completely false. The grossest of these forgeries is the second letter to the Thessalonians. In this obviously counterfeit letter the author, using the name of Paul, warns: “That ye be not shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us” (2,2). And at the end the forger adds: “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.” It was just these words that betrayed the forger.
A number of other letters of Paul are perhaps the earliest literary productions of the Christian movement but about Jesus however they tell us virtually nothing, except that he was alleged to have been crucified and then ascended to heaven.
According to the Jewish concept, the Messiah should be of royal lineage. Over and over again he is spoken of as the “Son of David” or “Son of God” which in the Jewish religious system amounted to the same thing. Thus the second book of Samuel represents God as saying to David: “I will be his (your descendants’) father, and he shall be my son” (II Samuel 7, verse 14).
And in the second Psalm the king says; “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.:
This is why it was necessary to show that Jesus’ father, Joseph, had a long pedigree going back to David, and to have Jesus the Nazarene born in Bethlehem, the city of David. The strangest statements are introduced to make this plausible. Early in the book we referred to the story in Luke (2, verse 1 f):
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child.”
The author, or authors, of Luke had heard an echo of something in the distant past, and in their ignorance, made complete nonsense of it.
Augustus never ordered a general census of the empire. What is referred to is obviously the census that Quirinius had taken in Judea in the year 7 CE, Judea being then a Roman province.
This was the first census of the sort there.
But this confusion is the least of it. What are we to say of the idea that in a general imperial census, or even in a provincial census everyone must go to his birthplace to be recorded? Even today, in the age of flight, such a decree would lead to the most frightful confusion, only to be surpassed by its uselessness. As a matter of fact every one registered in his dwelling place in a Roman census as well, and only men had to do so in person.
But it would not have suited the pious purpose, if Joseph had gone by himself to the city of David. And so, after inventing the census, they have to invent the regulation that every head of a household must to his native place with his whole tribe, so that Joseph would be forced to drag his wife along despite her advanced state of pregnancy.
The whole labor of partisan invention was in vain, however, and actually caused serious embarrassment for Christian thought as the community outgrew the Jewish community.
For the pagan world, David and his descendants were a matter of complete indifference, and it was not any kind of a recommendation to be a descendant of David. Hellenistic and Roman thinking on the other hand, was quite inclined to take seriously the fatherhood of God, which to the Jews was merely a symbol of royal descent.
It was not unusual for Greeks and Romans to regard a great man as the son of Apollo or some other god.
Yet Christian thought encountered a slight difficulty in its effort thus to raise the Messiah in the eyes of the heathen, namely, the monotheism it had taken over from Judaism. The fact that a god begets a son presents no difficulty to polytheism: there is just one more god. But that God begets a god and there is still but one God, is something not easy to conceive.
The question is not made simpler by going on to separate the generating power that emanated from the Deity as a separate Holy Ghost. All that was needed was to get three persons under one hat. On this task the most sweeping fantasy and acute hair-splitting were wrecked. The Trinity became one of those mysteries that can only be believed, not understood; one that has to be believed precisely because it is absurd.
There is no religion without contradictions. None of them arose in a single mind by a purely logical process; each one is product of manifold social influences, often going back centuries and reflecting very diverse historical situations.
But there is hardly another religion so rich in contradictions and absurdities as the Christian religion, since there was hardly another that grew out of such harsh contradictions: Christianity evolved from Judaism to Romanism, from proletarianism to world domination, from a purely communistic concept to organizing the exploitation of all classes.
Meanwhile, the union of Father and Son in a single person was not the only difficulty for Christian thinking that arose out of the picture of the Messiah as soon as it came under the influence of the non-Jewish environment.
What was to be done about Joseph’s fatherhood? Mary could now no longer have conceived Jesus by her husband. And since God had mated with her not as a man but as spirit, she must have remained a virgin. That was the end of Jesus’ decent from David. Yet so great is the power of tradition in religion that despite everything the beautifully constructed pedigree of Joseph and Jesus’ designation as Son of David continued to be handed down faithfully. Poor Joseph now had the thankless role of living with the Virgin without touching that virginity, and without being in the least disturbed by her pregnancy. And what about Jesus’ two older brothers? Were they, too, the product of Celestial penetration?
The Book of Revelations
The so-called ‘Book of Revelations’ was most certainly not written by the apostle John but by John of Patmos, a Greek eccentric who most certainly did not live during the stated, or actual, lifetime of Jesus. John of Patmos was an eccentric hermit, living on what is now the Greek island of Patmos and contemporary historical reference briefly dismisses him as a lunatic. No one subsequently has been able to understand a word of what he wrote, and his confused and mystic writings easily lends themselves to all manner of interpretations by various dimwitted and obsessed religious fanatics.
When Martin Luther prepared the Protestant Bible in German, he discarded Revelations, and other books then found in the Latin Bible, as being ‘unworthy and filled with nonsense.’
Patmos is in the Eastern Mediterranean. Patmos is very small and it is where John was purportedly exiled for his Christian beliefs late in the reign of Domitian. The time of John is toward the end of the First Century of the Christian era.
Patmos, like the other Dodecanese islands, is the result of ancient volcanic activity. And, like the others, it is small, only twenty-five miles in circumference (ten miles long and six miles wide at the widest point) with a mostly mountainous total area of fifteen square miles. Near the center of the island, Skala is the island's modern commercial center and port.
Patmos is on the route between Rome and Ephesus.
Populated today by some 2500 people who make their living from sponge diving and tourism, Patmos was largely deserted during the Middle Ages due in part to its vulnerability to Aegean pirates. It's earliest inhabitants, however, included Dorian and, later, Ionian settlers. In Roman times it served as a locale for exiled political dissidents, and was also considered a place for lunatics. But one reads in the Book of Revelations that John identified himself as "I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance,” was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 1:9 NRSV).
There is very little likelihood that John of Patmos was the author of the Gospel of John.
The Acts of John, a 5th-century work supposedly by the apostle's scribe, although because of its very late appearance, a totally false attribution, contains many eccentric and often very humorous invented legends about his time on Patmos.
Christians were persecuted in Ephesus by the Roman emperor Domitian. Tradition states that John was exiled to Patmos in that persecution of 95 CE., though there seems to be no evidence of it being a penal colony. However, there is considerable period material that had Patmos as a lunatic colony to where incurables were sent by the Roman authorities to remove them from the public.
He lived in a cave with his scribe Prochoros, now called the Cave of the Apocalypse. Prochoros was one of the seven deacons ordained by the Apostles and later became the bishop of Nicodemia. Tradition states the John died in 104 CE. at the age of 99 and was buried in Ephesus.
The Romans used the island as a penal settlement to which they sent political agitators and others who threatened the peace of the empire (Tacitus Annals 3.68; 4.30; 15.71). According to Eusebius, John was banished to Patmos by the Emperor Domitian, CE 95, and released 18 months later under Nerva (HE III.18.1; 20.8-9).
According to the New Testament account, John the Apostle was purported to be the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James. They originally were stated to be fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth.
He was first reported to be a disciple of John the Baptist, and later one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ.
He is presently revered as a saint by all branches of Christianity that revere saints.
The Roman Catholic Church commemorates him on December 27.
The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him on September 26, and also remembers him on May 8, on which date Christians used to draw forth from his grave fine ashes which were effective for healing the sick.
John has traditionally held to be the author of five books of the New Testament, including the Gospel of John, but most scholars dispute this.
Catholic/Orthodox tradition says that he and the Virgin Mary moved to Ephesus, where both eventually died. Most scholars question this belief, in the main because of the extremely advanced age which Mary would have reached by this period in time.
Some believe, however, that there is support for the idea that John did go to Ephesus, but certainly with no involvement with the Virgin Mary, and from there wrote the three epistles sometimes attributed to him.
Jesus as a rebel
From the second century on, Christianity as a state religion was more and more dominated by patient obedience to authority. The Judaism of the previous century had been something quite different. It is a matter of historical record of the rebelliousness of those strata of Jews were who were expecting the Messiah at that time, especially the poor classes of Jerusalem and the bands of Galilee, the same elements from which Christianity initially arose.
The obvious assumption is that Christianity was violent in its beginnings. This assumption becomes a certainty when we see the gospels still have traces of it despite the fact that their later revisers tried most desperately to eliminate everything from them that might give offense to the powerful.
Although Jesus usually is made to appear as gentle and submissive, occasionally he says something of quite a different nature which suggests that whether or not he really existed or is only an imaginary, idea figure, he lived as a rebel in the original tradition, one who was said to have been crucified for his unsuccessful uprising.
He occasionally speaks of legality in a striking manner: “I come not to call the righteous, but the sinners” (Mark 2, verse 17). The Authorized Version translates: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” but this is a nonsensical alteration, like so many of later rewritings.
The early Christian propagandists obviously saw how dangerous it was for them to state that Jesus called to himself only those groups that were against legality or the established order. After all, Christianity has become an official Roman cult, not a poor Jewish one. Therefore a convenient rewriting of an earlier Luke added to the word “call” the phrase “to repentance” (eis metanoian), an addition which is also found in many manuscripts of Mark as well.
But this addition leaves the sentence without any meaning. Who would ever think of calling the “just” (dikaious) to repentance? Moreover this contradicts the context, for Jesus uses the expression because he is reproached for eating and associating with men who were despised; he is not pictured as exhorting them to change their way of life. No one would have held “calling sinners to repentance” against him.
This passage signifies contempt of traditional law; but the words in which Jesus announces the coming of the Messiah point to violence: The existing Roman Empire will go down in fearful slaughter; and the saints should by no means play a passive role in it.
“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and the two against three” (Luke 12, verses 49 ff.).
In Matthew it runs directly:
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: Ii come not to send peace, but a sword” (10, verse 34).
Arriving in Jerusalem at Eastertide, he drives the moneychangers out of the temple, something that is inconceivable without the forcible action of a large mob excited by him.
Shortly thereafter, at the Last Supper, just before the catastrophe on the Mount of Olives, Jesus says to his disciples:
“But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this is written must yet be accomplished in me. And he was reckoned among the transgressors (anomon): for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough” (Luke 22, verses 35 ff.).
Immediately after this, they come up against the armed power of the state on the Mount of Olives. Jesus and other leaders are about to be arrested.
“When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear” (Luke 22, verses 49 ff.).
However, Jesus, according to the Gospel story, is against all bloodshed, lets himself be fettered and executed without resistance, while his comrades are not molested at all.
In point of fact, the exact opposite was true.
In the form just given this is a very strange story, full of contradictions, and originally it must have run quite differently.
Jesus calls for swords, as though the hour of action had come; his faithful followers go out armed with swords- and when they meet the enemy and draw their swords, Jesus suddenly declares that he is against any use of force, on principle- naturally most sharply in Matthew:
“Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angles? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled…?” (26, verses 52 ff.).
Now if Jesus had been against all violence altogether, why should he have called for swords initially? Why did he direct his friends to go along with him carrying arms?
This contradiction becomes intelligible only if we assume that the Christian tradition originally told of a planned coup de main in the course of which Jesus was alleged to have been taken prisoner, a bold stroke for which the time seemed good after the driving of the money changers from the temple had been successful.
The later editors did not dare simply to do away with this story, whose roots went deep; instead, they blunted its point, reducing the use of force to an act attempted by the apostles against Jesus’ will.
It may not be without significance that the clash took place on the Mount of Olives. That was the best place from which to make an attempt on Jerusalem.
We may remember the account of Josephus about the plot against Roman authority of an Egyptian Jew under the procurator Felix (52 to 60 CE).
This man, an Egyptian Jew, according to Josephus, came out of the desert with a force of 30,000 and went up the Mount of Olives in order to fall on the city of Jerusalem, expel the Roman garrison and become ruler. Felix engaged the Egyptian in battle and dispersed his followers. The leader himself succeeded in escaping.
Comparison between the Dead Sea scroll from cave 3 with the text of Josephus, one immediately can see the historical connection with Jesus.
The history of Josephus is full of similar occurrences. They show the state of mind of the Jewish population at the time of Jesus. An attempted putsch by the prophet, Jesus, would be fully in accord with it.
If we think of his undertaking as such an attempt, the treason of Judas becomes understandable as well, intertwined as it is with this questionable account.
At the time in question even the peaceful Essenes, who had traditionally been against any struggle or political rebellion, were carried away by the general patriotism. We find Essenes among the Jewish generals in the last great Jewish war against the Romans. Thus for example Josephus tells of the beginning of the war:
“The Jews had chosen three mighty generals, who were not only gifted with bodily strength and courage, but also endowed with understanding and wisdom, Niger from Peraea, Sylas from Babylon and John the Essene.”
Given the revolutionary attitude that was sweeping throughout all Jewry in that era, the sect that arose out of this attempted revolt would gain a propaganda advantage by emphasizing it, so that it would become fixed in tradition and in the process particularly exaggerate and ornament the person of Jesus, its hero.
The situation changed however once Jerusalem was destroyed. With the Jewish community dispersal, the last trace of democratic opposition disappeared in the Roman Empire. At about the same time the civil wars among the Romans ended as well and obedience to the law was firmly established.
In the two centuries from the Maccabees to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the Eastern Mediterranean basin had been in a state of constant unrest, not unlike the present period. One regime after another fell; one nation after another lost its independence or its dominant position. The power that directly or indirectly brought about all these revolutions, the Roman commonwealth, was torn by the stormiest inner disorders during this period, from the Gracci to Vespasian, disorders which more and more emanated from the armies and their generals.
This was a period in which the expectation of a Messiah developed in radical Jewish religious circles and solidified; during it no political organization seemed permanent; all of them seemed merely provisional, while political revolution was the inevitable, always to be expected.
The “golden age” of the Empire, a general state of internal peace that lasted over a hundred years, from Vespasian (69 CE) to Commodus (180 CE). Unrest had been the rule for the previous two hundred years; in this century quiet was the rule. Political changes, which had been the normal thing, now became abnormal. Submission to the imperial power, patient obedience, now seemed not merely a counsel of prudence for cowards, but struck deep roots as a moral obligation.
This naturally had its effect on the emerging Christian community. They could have no more use for a Messiah of rebellion, since at the time it had suited Jewish thinking. Their very moral thinking rose up against that. Yet since they had become accustomed to worship Jesus as their God, the epitome of all the virtues, the change did not take place by dropping the person of the rebellious Jesus and replicating it by the idea picture of a different personality better suited to the new condition; instead, the Christian community kept removing everything rebellious from the picture of their god Jesus and changed the rebellious Jesus into a suffering one who was put to death not because of an uprising but only because of his infinite goodness and holiness, by means of the wickedness of the insidious and invidious.
This rewriting of history was done so clumsily and by such ignorant people that traces of the original Greek texts can still be seen, and from them the whole picture can be inferred. It is because these remains do not fit in with the later revisions that it is safe to assume that they are part of an earlier, genuine account.
There was no shortage of Messiahs at the time of Jesus, especially not in Galilee, where prophets and leaders of bands were constantly springing up, proclaiming themselves to be saviors and anointed of the Lord. But if one of them was defeated by the power of the Romans, was taken, crucified or slain, that put an end to his role as the Messiah, for in that case he was regarded as a false prophet and false Messiah. The real one was still to come.
The Christian community clung to its champion. The Messiah was still to come in his glory, but the Messiah to come was none other than the one who had come, the allegedly crucified one who was believed to have arisen three days after his purported death and ascended into Heaven after revealing himself to his following.
This conception was peculiar to the Christian community.
What were its origins?
In the primitive Christian view it was the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day after his alleged crucifixion that, to them at least, proved his divine nature and justified the expectation of his return from Heaven. That is as far as the theologians have got, even at the present time. Most historians do not now take the resurrection literally. According to them, if Jesus was indeed crucified, he did not actually arise, but his disciples believed that had seen him in ecstatic raptures after his death, and inferred from that his divine nature.
According to this, we should attribute the spread of the Messiah-belief of the primitive Christian community, and hence all the enormous historical phenomenon of Christianity, to an hallucination of a single unimportant person.
It is by no means impossible that one of the apostles had a vision of the crucified or vanished one. It is possible too that this vision found believers, since the period was an exceptionally credulous one and Judaism was deeply permeated by the belief in resurrection. Wakings from the dead were not considered as something incomprehensible.
Posterity, we know, weaves no garlands for the actor; but in this as in other points the player and the religious minister have much in common. What is true for the actor can be said of the preacher as well, if he limits himself to preaching and works only through his personality and leaves no works behind him which outlast his person. No matter how moving or elevating his sermons may be, they cannot have the same effect on people that do not hear them and know of them only by hearsay. His person will leave them cold; it will not touch their fancy.
No one leaves the memory of his personality beyond the circles of those who knew him personally, unless he leaves some creation that is impressive apart from his personality, an art work like a building, a picture, a piece of music, or a poem; or a scientific achievement, an ordered collection of materials, a theory, an invention or discovery; or a political or social institution or organization of some kind that he called into being or in whose creation and erection he had a prominent part.
So long as such a work lasts and operates, interest in the personality of its creator will last. Indeed, if such a creation goes unnoticed in his lifetime, and grows in significance after his death, as is often the case for discoveries, inventions and organizations, it is possible for the interest in the creator of the work to begin only after his death and keep growing.
The less attention was paid to him during his life, the less that is known of his personality, the more the imagination is aroused; and if his work is a powerful one, the greater the crown of anecdotes and legends that will be spun around it.
Man’s need for causes, which seeks in every social event- and originally in every natural event- for an active person who brought it about, is so great that it tends to make men invent an originator for any production of great importance, or to connect it with some traditional name if the real originator is forgotten or if, as often happens, the discovery is the product of the untied powers of so many men, no one standing out beyond the others, that it would have been utterly impossible to name one definite originator.
The reason why the Messianic career of Jesus did not end in the same way as those of the Judases and Theudases and other Messiahs of the period is not his personality, but the later developed and created dogma that was specifically linked with his name.
Fanatical confidence in the personality of the prophet, thirst for miracles, ecstasy, belief in the resurrection- all these are to be found among the adherents of the other Messiahs as well as among those of Jesus. The only difference between Jesus and the other Messiahs is that the others did not leave anything behind in which their personalities lived on, while Jesus bequeathed an organization, the Essenes, with institutions excellently adapted to holding his adherents together and attracting new ones.
The other Messiahs merely gathered bands together for an uprising; if defeated the bands scattered. But Jesus was not merely a rebel, he was also the representative and champion, and perhaps the founder, of an organization that survived him and kept growing stronger and more powerful. Though the Essenes were decimated by the Romans and, aside from a few hidden groups, effectively destroyed as an entity, fragments of the cult remained and later, much later, fell into the hands of competent organizers who were also fanatical in nature.
The traditional assumption has been that the community of Jesus was not organized by the apostles until after his death or disappearance. But nothing compels us to make this improbable assumption, no less an assumption than that immediately after Jesus and vanished his adherents introduced something entirely new into his doctrine, something he had not considered and willed; and that people who had hitherto been unorganized entered into an organization he had never intended, and that right at the moment of a defeat that was capable of breaking up a solid organization. Judging by the analogy of similar organizations whose beginnings are better know, it would be closer to the truth to assume that communistic mutual aid societies of the poor of Jerusalem with Messianic overtones had existed before Jesus, and that a bold agitator and rebel of this name from Galilee was only their most outstanding champion and martyr.
According to John the twelve apostles had a common purse even in Jesus’ lifetime. But Jesus requires that every other disciple as well contribute all his property. This is, of course, Essene policy.
The Acts of the Apostles nowhere states that the apostles first organized the community after the death of Jesus, we find it already organized at that time, holding meetings of its members and performing its functions. The first mention of a communistic community in the Acts of the Apostles runs as follows: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (2, verse 42). That is, they continued their previous common meals and other communistic practices. If this had been newly introduced after the death of Jesus, the version would have to be quite different.
The communal organization was the link that kept Jesus’ following together even after his disappearance and preserved the memory of their vanished champion, who had proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, according to the tradition. The more the organization grew, and the more powerful it became, the more its martyrs must have occupied the imagination of the members, and the more they must have revolted at considering the crucified, or departed, Messiah as false; the more too must they have felt themselves impelled to regard him as the genuine one, despite his death or disappearance, as the Messiah that would come again in all his glory; the more they inclined to believe in his resurrection or reappearance, and the more did faith in the Messianic nature of the crucified or vanished one and in his resurrection become the mark of the organization, setting it apart from the believers in other Messiahs. If the belief in the resurrection of him who was believed to have been crucified stemmed from the effect that his organization produced, that belief would become stronger and more luxuriant as the organization grew; and the less positive information there was about the person of Jesus, the less the imagination of his Essene and other worshippers would be hampered by definite facts.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea scrolls are a collection of over 900 religious and secular texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 that consist of biblical manuscripts from Jewish religious sources as well as political writings of the period. These documents were found in a series of twelve caves around the site known as Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea, in what is now the West Bank, iinitially by the Bedouin people and later by trained archeologists.
The initial discovery, was by a Bedouin shepherd, Muhammed Edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum'a Muhammed and Khalil Musa, and was made between November 1946 and February 1947. The shepherds discovered seven scrolls housed in jars in a cave at what is now known as the Qumran site.
Edh-Dhib's cousin noticed the caves, but edh-Dhib himself was the first to actually fall into one. He retrieved a handful of scrolls, which were later identified as the Isaiah Scroll, Habakkuk Commentary, and the Community Rule, and took them back to the Bedouin camp to show to his family.
None of the scrolls were destroyed in this process, despite popular rumor. The Bedouin kept the scrolls hanging on a tent pole while they figured out what to do with them, periodically taking them out to show people. At some point during this time, the Community Rule was split in two. The Bedouin first took the scrolls to a dealer named Ibrahim 'Ijha in Bethlehem. 'Ijha returned them, saying they were worthless, after being warned that they might have been stolen from a synagogue. Undaunted, the Bedouin went to a nearby market, where a Syrian Christian offered to buy them. A sheikh joined their conversation and suggested they take the scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, "Kando," a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer.
The Bedouin and the dealers returned to the site, leaving one scroll with Kando and selling three others to a dealer for GBP7 (US$29 in 2003). The original scrolls continued to change hands after the Bedouin left them in the possession of a third party until a sale could be arranged. Arrangements with the Bedouin left the scrolls in the hands of a third party until a profitable sale of them could be negotiated.
That third party, George Isha'ya, was a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who soon contacted St. Mark's Monastery in the hope of getting an appraisal of the nature of the texts. News of the find then reached Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, better known as Mar Samuel.
After examining the scrolls and suspecting their antiquity, Mar Samuel expressed an interest in purchasing them. Four scrolls found their way into his hands: the now famous Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher (a commentary on the book of Habakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon. More scrolls rapidly surfaced in the antiquities market, and Professor Eleazer Sukenik and Professor Benjamin Mazar, Israeli archaeologists at Hebrew University, soon found themselves in possession of three, The War Scroll, Thanksgiving Hymns, and another, more fragmented, Isaiah scroll .
Four of the Dead Sea scrolls went up for sale eventually, in an advertisement in the June 1, 1954, Wall Street Journal. On July 1, 1954, the scrolls, after delicate negotiations and accompanied by three people including the Metropolitan Museum, arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. They were purchased by Professor Mazar and the son of Professor Sukenik, Yigael Yadin, for $250,000, approximately $2.14 million in 2014, and brought to Jerusalem.
The texts are of great historical and religious significance and include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents, as well as preserving evidence of great diversity in late Second Temple Judaism. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus and bronze.
These manuscripts have been dated to various ranges between 408 BCE and 318 CE. Bronze coins found on the site form a series beginning with Hyrcanus 1 (135-104 BCE) and continue without a gap until the first Jewish revolt (66–73 CE) The scrolls are traditionally identified with the ancient Jewish cult. .
The Dead Sea scrolls are traditionally divided into three groups: "Biblical" manuscripts (copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 40% of the identified scrolls; Other manuscripts (known documents from the Second Temple Period like Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach, additional psalms, etc., that were not ultimately canonized in the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls; and "Sectarian" manuscripts (previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group or groups within greater Judaism) like the Community Rule, War Scroll, Pesher on Habakkuk and the Rule of the Blessing, which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls.
In 1947 the original seven scrolls came to the attention of Dr. John C. Trever, of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), who compared the script in the scrolls to that of The Nash Papyrus, the oldest biblical manuscript then known, and found similarities between them. In March, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War prompted the move of some of scrolls to Beirut, Lebanon, for safekeeping.
On April 11,1948, Miller Burrows, head of the ASOR, announced the discovery of the scrolls in a general press release.
Early in September 1948, Mar brought Professor Ovid R. Sellers, the new Director of ASOR, some additional scroll fragments that he had acquired. By the end of 1948, nearly two years after their discovery, scholars had yet to locate the original cave where the fragments had been found. With unrest in the country at that time, no large-scale search could be undertaken safely. Sellers attempted to get the Syrians to assist in the search for the cave, but he was unable to pay their price.
In early 1948, the government of Jordan gave permission to the Arab Legion to search the area where the original Qumran cave was thought to be. Consequently, Cave 1 was rediscovered on January 28, 1949, by Belgian United Nations observer Captain Phillipe Lippens and Arab Legion Captain Akkash el-Zebn.
The rediscovery of Cave 1 prompted the initial excavation of the site from February 15 to March 5, 1949 by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. The Cave 1 site yielded discoveries of additional Dead Sea Scroll fragments, linen cloth, jars, and other artifacts.
Cave 3, which contained the period references to Jesus, was discovered on March 14, 1952 and eventually yielded 14 manuscripts including Jubilees and the curious copper scroll, which lists 67 hiding places of valuable assets of the Essenes, mostly buried underground, throughout the Roman province of Judea (now the state of Israel). According to the scroll, the secret caches held astonishing amounts of gold, silver, copper, aromatics, and manuscripts.
The Essenes were known to be a wealthy cult.
These scrolls from Cave 3 were the specifically the product of Essene Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
The scroll in question was found by an amateur archeologist from Syria in May of 1952 and was sold by him, through a dealer in antiques named John Meanen, a former CIA operative based in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Meanen sold the scroll in 1955 to a Heinz von Hungen, MD who collected rare Catholic artifacts, among other valuable historical objects. The scroll was subject to forensic testing as to age and then photographs were sent to three different experts in the Nabataean language. The scroll itself was on a parchment and testing on this and on the ink along with the text itself, dated this at close to about 50-55 CE. This is the only period reference to Jesus. From the translated text it is set forth that Jesus was born, not in Bethelhem but in Alexandria, Egypt and that his father was Jewish and his mother Egyptian. He had two older brothers, one of whom later became a member of the Essene cult when the family moved to Judea. As a member of the Essenes, Jesus was called ‘Bar Nasha’ or the son of man. Jesus took this name when he joined the ranks of the Essenes.
Translation from the original Nabataean of significant portion of the scroll from Cave 3
(1) Of this Jesus we compile this recording of his wonderous deeds and his gathering many into the fold.
(2) He was born in Alexandria, the son of Yossef and that his mother was a woman of Egyptian parentage and that he had two brothers with him. Joseph and his family then removed themselves to the land of Caanan in the second year of the Prefect Aquila and prospered.
(3) Jesus then being young but of a strong religious cast, (blessing) was taken into the Brotherhood by his elder brother Jacob who instructed him and became his greatly loving partner and there did prosper greatly, becoming a great leader of the people and one who sought to expel the heathen (unbelieving) sons of Rome from the land.
(4) That Jesus, not being ill-favored and most eagerly was welcomed by the society and loved (taken to their souls and bodies) then by many. He was given the name of ‘Bar Nasha’ (son of man). In the ritual bathing, he proved to be mighty and much beloved indeed and this because of the inspiration and teaching of John who was himself a much beloved person.
(5) And Jesus, not being ill-favored, was a most inspired (wonderous) preacher and went amongst the multitude and spoke with great and moving spirit about the brotherhood, causing many to come to its fold with joy and pleasure. And when age came upon him, Jesus went out into the land, preaching to the people and was himself greatly loved.
(6) In the rule of Felix, the time had come to throw off the Roman yoke (enslavement) and Jesus, and many others, did prepare a great undertaking against these Romans but they were betrayed by one Judas to the Romans and these came upon them suddenly and with great force. Many were siezed but a few eluded the Roman police (soldiers) and removed to the secret place.
(7) Jesus was one of these and with him came Cephas, a most beautiful young man who was much beloved, of Jesus, who accompanied him to his secret place and loved him greatly.
Summation of traslation:
Jesus father, Yossef,was born in Alexandria in 41 BC under Ptolemaeus XV Philopator Philomētor Caesar and in the seventh year of his rule (June 23, 47 BCE – August 23, 30 BCE), Jesus was born, also in Alexandria, under Gaius Iulius Aquila, Prefect of the Province of Egypt (10-11 CE). Jesus’ leading an Essene rebellion and his subsequent rapid departure from Jerusalem was under the Procuratorship of Antonius Felix (52 to 58 CE) in Judea. Jesus’ older brother, fellow Essene and Jesus’ lover was Jacob (or James.)
I assume, without fear of contradiction, that there were no children from this union.
Most current Biblical scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus's first followers had previously been followers of John.
John the Baptist is also mentioned by Jewish historian Josephus. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism.
The baptism story has its roots in the extensive nude ritual bathing practiced by all the Essenes.
There also is mention of a younger, handsome man whom Jesus called Cephas, meaning "stone" in Aramaic and which is translated to “Peter.” Jesus said he would build his future church on this young man. References to him can be found in the Gospels and he is described as wearing scanty or no garments at all and associating very closely with Jesus. He was at the Mount of Olives putsch episode and ran away, naked, from the Romans.
This scroll was written by the Essenes residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed many of the historically important scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt, sometime between 66 and 68 CE. The site of Qumran was eventually destroyed and the scrolls were never recovered by those that placed them there.
Josephus mentions the Essenes as sharing property among the members of the community, as does the Community Rule.
During the excavation of Khirbet Qumran, two inkwells and plastered elements thought to be tables were found, offering evidence that some form of writing was done there. More inkwells were discovered in nearby loci.
Several Jewish ritual baths were discovered at Qumran, which offers evidence of an observant Jewish presence at the site.
Pliny the Elder writing after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE describes a group of Essenes living in a desert community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea near the ruined town of 'Ein Gedi.
Parchment from a number of the Dead Sea scrolls have been carbon dated. The initial test performed in 1950 was on a piece of linen from one of the caves. This test gave an indicative dating of 33 CE, plus or minus 200 years, eliminating early hypotheses dating the scrolls to the mediaeval period.
Since then, two large series of tests have been performed on the scrolls themselves. The results were summarized by VanderKam and Flint, who said the tests give "strong reason for thinking that most of the Qumran manuscripts belong to the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE."
Analysis of handwriting, known as palaeography, was applied to the text on the Dead Sea scrolls by a variety of scholars in the field. Major linguistic analysis by Cross and Avigad dates fragments from 225 BCE to 50 CE. These dates were determined by examining the size, variability, and style of the text. The same fragments were later analyzed using radiocarbon date testing and were dated to an estimated range of 385 BCE to 82 CE with a 68% accuracy rate.
The scrolls were further analyzed using a cyclotron at the University of California, Davis, where it was found that two types of black ink were used: iron-gall ink and carbon soot ink. In addition, a third ink on the scrolls that was red in color was found to be made with cinnabar. There are only four uses of this red ink in the entire collection of Dead Sea scroll fragments.The black inks found on the scrolls that are made up of carbon soot were found to be from olive oil lamps. Gall nuts from oak trees, present in some, but not all of the black inks on the scrolls, was added to make the ink more resilient to smudging common with pure carbon inks. Honey, oil, vinegar and water were often added to the mixture to thin the ink to a proper consistency for writing. In order to apply the ink to the scrolls, its writers used reed pens.
Approximately 85.5 - 90.5% of these scrolls were written on parchment made of processed animal hide known as vellum papyrus (estimated at 8.0 - 13.0% of the scrolls), and sheets of bronze composed of about 99.0% copper and 1.0% tin for approximately 1.5% of the scrolls. For those scrolls written on animal hides, scholars with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, by use of DNA testing for assembly purposes, believe that there may be a hierarchy in the religious importance of the texts based on which type of animal was used to create the hide. Scrolls written on goat and calf hides are considered by scholars to be more significant in nature, while those written on gazelle or ibex are considered to be less religiously significant in nature.
In addition, tests by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Sicily, have suggested that the origin of parchment of select Dead Sea scroll fragments is from the Qumran area itself, by using x-ray and particle induced x-ray emission testing of the water used to make the parchment that were compared with the water from the area around the Qumran site.
The Dead Sea scrolls that were found were originally preserved by the dry, arid, and low humidity conditions present within the Qumran area adjoining the Dead Sea. In addition, the lack of the use of tanning materials on the parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the very low airflow in the Qumran caves also contributed significantly to their preservation.
Some of the scrolls were found stored in clay jars within the Qumran caves, further helping to preserve them from deterioration. The original handling of the scrolls by archaeologists and scholars was done inappropriately, and, along with their storage in an uncontrolled environment, they began a process of more rapid deterioration than they had experienced at Qumran.[ During the first few years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, adhesive tape used to join fragments and seal cracks caused significant damage to the documents.
The Government of Jordan had recognized the urgency of protecting the scrolls from deterioration and the presence of the deterioration among the scrolls. However, the government did not have adequate funds to purchase all the scrolls for their protection and agreed to have foreign institutions purchase the scrolls and have them held at their museum in Jerusalem until they could be "adequately studied".
In early 1953, they were moved to the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem and through their transportation suffered more deterioration and damage. The museum was underfunded and had limited resources with which to examine the scrolls, and, as a result, conditions of the "scrollery" and storage area were left relatively uncontrolled by modern standards.
The museum had left most of the fragments and scrolls lying between window glass, trapping the moisture in with them, causing an acceleration in the deterioration process. During a portion of the conflict during the 1956 Arab-Israeli War, the scrolls collection of the Palestinian Archaeological Museum was stored in the vault of the Ottoman Bank in Amman, Jordan. Damp conditions from temporary storage of the scrolls in the Ottoman Bank vault from 1956 to the Spring of 1957 lead to a more rapid rate of deterioration of the scrolls. The conditions caused mildew to develop on the scrolls and fragments, and some of the fragments were partially destroyed or made illegible by the glue and paper of the manila envelopes in which they were stored while in the vault.
By 1958 it was noted that up to 5% of some of the scrolls had completely deteriorated. Many of the texts had become illegible and many of the parchments had darkened considerably.
Until the 1970s, the scrolls continued to deteriorate because of poor storage arrangements, exposure to different adhesives, and being trapped in moist environments. Fragments written on parchment (rather than papyrus or bronze) in the hands of private collectors and scholars suffered an even worse fate than those in the hands of the museum, with large portions of fragments being reported to have disappeared by 1966.In the late 1960s, the deterioration was becoming a major concern with scholars and museum officials alike. Scholars John Allegro and Sir Francis Frank were some of the first to strongly advocate for better preservation techniques.Early attempts made by both the British and Israel Museums to remove the adhesive tape ended up exposing the parchment to an array of chemicals, including "British Leather Dressing," and darkening some of them significantly.
In the 1970s and 1980s, other preservation attempts were made that included removing the glass plates and replacing them with cardboard and removing pressure against the plates that held the scrolls in storage; however, the fragments and scrolls continued to rapidly deteriorate during this time.
In 1991, the Israeli Antiquities Authority established a temperature controlled laboratory for the storage and preservation of the scrolls. The actions and preservation methods of Rockefeller Museum staff were concentrated on the removal of tape, oils, metals, salt, and other contaminants. The fragments and scrolls are preserved using acid-free cardboard and stored in solander boxes in the climate-controlled storage area.
Since the Dead Sea scrolls were initially held by different private parties during and after the excavation process, they were not all photographed by the same organization nor in their entirety.
And because the contents of a number of the known scrolls were, at the least, very controversial, contrary to Christian opinions, and damaging to their public image, there has been some considerable control over publication of any such revisionistic material.
At the time of their writing the area was transitioning between Greek and Roman dominance. The Jewish Qahal (society) had some measure of autonomy following the death of Alexander and the fracturing of the Greek Empire among his successors. The country was long called Ιουδαία or Judæa at that time, named for the Hebrews that returned to dwell there, following the well documented diaspora. Most scholars believe the Jews actually redacted the Biblical stories due to the pressures of losing their ethnicity in Babylon, and picked up the square script there.The majority of Jews never actually returned to Israel from Babylon and Persia according to the Talmud, oral and archeological evidence.
Most of the Dead Sea scrolls are currently under the ownership of the Government of the state of Israel, and housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.
The official ownership of the Dead Sea scrolls is disputed among the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel, and the Palestinian Authority
A list of known orgasnizational ownership of Dead Sea Scroll fragments:
Azusa Pacific University Number held 5
Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago 1
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 1
Rockefeller Museum - Government of Israel ca 15,000
The Schøyen Collection owned by Martin Schøyen 60
The Jordan Museum - Government of Jordan 25
Approximately 30 other scrolls, or poetions of scrolls, are in private hands, having been purchased early on through various antiquarian organizations and individiuals. Many of the contents of these privately-held scrolls are presently unknown.
Jesus as Essene and homosexual
The Gospel of John makes references to the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 20.
It has traditionally been assumed that the disciple whom Jesus loved is a self-reference by the author of the Gospel, traditionally regarded as John (Jacob) the Apostle,and according to the Dead Sea scroll, also Jesus’ lover.
In the Gospel of John, the disciple John frequently refers to himself in the third person as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'.
One might argue that Jesus loved all of his followers in a non-sexual way, but to specifically discuss Jesus' love for John has strongly indicates the probability of a sexual relationship.
The actual author(s) of the Gospel of John, written long after the event, describe how the "beloved" disciple laid himself on Jesus' inner tunic -- his undergarment at the Last Supper. See John 13:25 and 21:20. noted that Jesus and the beloved disciple: "... eat together, side by side. This is very obviously a pederastic relationship between an older man and a younger man.
The Gospel references to "the disciple whom Jesus loved" use the word "agape."
In the Book of John this Greek word (the original Gospels were written in Greek) is used eight times with the specific implication of sexual intimacy. Five times it is used with reference to Jesus' relationship with John. Once it is used to define Jesus' relationship with Lazarus.
Mark 7:14-16 shows that Jesus approved of homosexual acts. The critical phrase reads: "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him..." It would appear obvious that Jesus gave great emphasis to this teaching, directing it to everyone.
Mark 14:51-52 describes the incident when Jesus was arrested by the religious police. It describes how one of Jesus' followers was scantily dressed. The King James Version says he had a linen cloth cast on his naked body; (the size and location of the cloth is not defined. From the text, this could well have been the equivalent of a modern thong) The New International Version says that he was "wearing nothing but a linen garment." When the police tried to seize him, they were able to grab only this piece of cloth; the young man then ran away naked.
Matthew 8:5-13: and Luke 7:2: One day a Roman Centurion asked him to heal his dying servant. Scholars of both scripture and history tell us that Roman Centurions, who were not permitted to marry while in service, regularly chose a favorite male slave to be their personal assistant and sexual servant. Such liaisons were common in the Greco-Roman world and it was not unusual for them to deepen into loving partnerships. Jesus offered to go to the servant, but the centurion asked him simply to speak a word of healing, since he would not welcome this itinerant Jewish teacher into his quarters. Jesus responded by healing the servant at a distance and proclaiming that he had never found faith like this in his powers before.
“The disciple whom he loved”, as the evidence for a censored relationship between Jesus and him is quite similar. (John 19: 26-27), (John 13:23-25), (John 21:20).
Some commentators argue from silence. They note that there is no passage in the New Testament that directly describes anything about Jesus' sexuality. However, there are many direct and indirect references to Jesus' sexual orientation. He was accused of being a "drunkard and a glutton" and of partying with "prostitutes and sinners." He apparently enjoyed a tender foot massage from a woman. Yet, neither Jesus' sexuality nor his celibacy is mentioned. However, sexual activates are referred to elsewhere in the Bible, quite often.
One might argue that the books in the New Testament might have once described Jesus' sexual relationships, but that these passages have been heavily censored by the later church officials because they were unacceptable.
Homosexuality by Christians
Nearly all Christian denominations hold a variety of views on the issues of sexual orientation and homosexuality, ranging from outright condemnation to complete acceptance. Not all members of a denomination necessarily support their own church's views on homosexuality. In accordance with the traditional values of Abrahamic religions, most Christian denominations teach that homosexual relationships and sexual acts are sinful.
These denominations include the Roman Catholic Church which has about 50% of the world's Christians, the Eastern Orthodox churcheswhich include about 12%,and some mainline Protestant denominations, such as the Methodist churches, Reformed Church in America,the American Baptist Church, as well as Conservative Evangelical organizations and churches, such as the Evangelical Alliance, the Presbyterian Church in America[ and the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God,as well as Restorationist churches, like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, also take the position that homosexual sexual activity is immoral. The latter churches include about 10% of the world's Christians.
The Bible references homosexuality several times, but the extent to which it discusses homosexuality and whether it condemns it have been variously interpreted. Some religious denominations believe that the passages that directly or indirectly refer to homosexuality condemn it or its practice, while others have disputed their interpretations.
Passages like one in Leviticus prohibiting "lying with mankind as with womankind" and like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah have been popularly interpreted as condemning homosexuality, as have several Pauline passages.
Scholarly debate over the interpretation of these passages has focused on placing them in proper historical context, for instance pointing out that Sodom's sins are historically interpreted as being other than homosexuality, and on the translation of rare or unusual words in the passages in question.
Some Evangelical Biblical scholars interpret Genesis 19:5 as indicating that homosexual activity led to the destruction of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Other Biblical passages that some interpret as addressing the issue of homosexual behavior include Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:8–10, and Jude 1:7; the relevant portion of Romans 1 reads as follows:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men ... For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:18a, 21–27)
The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah does not identify homosexuality as the sin for which they were destroyed. Most interpreters find this story, and a similar one in Judges 19, actually condemn the violent rape of guests, rather than homosexuality as the reason for the destruction, but the passage has historically been chronically misinterpreted within Judaism and Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality due to the interpretation that the men of Sodom wished, in some convoluted interpretations, to rape the angels who retrieved Lot.
‘Convoluted interpretations’ are a hallmark of Biblical writings.
Lot’s subsequent sexual activities with his own daughters in the back of a cave is seldom mentioned, nor are the children produced by this activity.
Biblical interpretation is extremely selective.
An objective reading of the current Biblical passages more than confirms this thesis.
Denominations that oppose homosexuality in any form include the Eastern Orthodox Church and some mainline Protestant denominations, such as the Methodist churches, Reformed Church in America, the American Baptist Church, as well as Conservative Evangelical organizations and churches, such as the Evangelical Alliance,the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God,as well as Restorationist churches, like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, also take the position that homosexual activity is immoral and its practitioners should be isolated and punished.
Their firm belief is that their “constitution” is the Bible and that all public teaching and practice must align itself with the Bible, since it is by their beliefs, God’s word. (II Timothy 3:16)
The Christian churches, its cults and sub-cults, have a multitude of opinions based on “tradition,” “reason” and “experience.” The Christian churches, however, subordinates tradition, reason and experience to what they wish to believe is sacred scripture.
From a Christian perspective, all “truth” is valid, only to the extent that it conforms to their organization’s concept of what they wish to believe is the sole Word of God.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church and most Evangelical and fundamentalist churches do not sanction same-sex sexual relations and in fact wish to prevent and punish them if practiced even by non-church members.
All Orthodox jurisdictions have taken the approach of welcoming people with "homosexual feelings and emotions," while encouraging them to work towards "overcoming its harmful effects in their lives," but not allowing the sacraments to people who seek to justify homosexual activity.
The Roman Catholic Church views any sex activity not related to procreation and not undertaken by a married couple as sinful. These views do not only concern homosexuality but any sexual activity that can not result in reproduction.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is opposed to same-gender sexual practices and relationships on the grounds that "sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman.”
Liberal Christians tend to regard the Bible as the record of human doings, composed of humans encountering their concept of the divine within their specific historical context. They often interpret passages of the Bible as being less a record of actual events, but rather stories illustrating how to live ethically in relation to God.
Many American Christians believe that marriage is defined by the union of a man and a woman, and that any sexual act outside of the marriage relationship is inherently sinful. Most American members of the Christian Right consider homosexual acts as sinful and think it should not be accepted by society. They tend to interpret biblical verses on homosexual acts to mean that the heterosexual family was in some way created by God and that same-sex relationships contradict God’s design for marriage and violate His will. Christians who oppose homosexual relationships sometimes contend that same-gender sexual activity is unnatural, evil and the product of the machinations of Satan himself.
Christian objections to homosexual behavior are often based upon their, or most especially, their minister or sect leaders’ interpretations of the Bible. As these interpretations can range from the lunatic to the serious, concepts are widely varied.
Some Christians believe that the book of Leviticus contains prohibitions against male-male sexuality.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states "men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies ... must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity."Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." They oppose criminal penalties against homosexuality.
The Catholic Church requires those who are attracted to people of the same sex to practice chastity, because it teaches that sexuality should only be practiced within marriage, which it regards as permanent, procreative, heterosexual, and monogamous. The Vatican distinguishes between "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" and the "expression of a transitory problem", in relation to ordination to the priesthood; saying in a 2005 document that homosexual tendencies "must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate."
A 2011 report based on telephone surveys of American Catholics conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 56% believe that sexual relations between two people of the same sex are not sinful.
In opposing interpretations of the Bible that are supportive of homosexual relationships, conservative Christians have argued for the absolute reliability of the Bible, and the meaning of texts related to homosexual acts, while often seeing what they call the diminishing of the authority of the Bible by many homosexual authors as being ideologically driven. Of course it follows that their own defense of the total accuracy of extant and heavily propagandized texts would also be ideologically driven.
However, many other historians and Biblical scholars who are not homosexual or sympathetic to them also question, strongly, the Bible as anything but a work that bears no relationship to historical reality.
An increasing number of Christians believe that marriage is the union of two people and that homosexual behavior is not inherently sinful.
Some Christians and many historians believe that many Biblical passages have been, at the least, carelessly or deliberately, mistranslated or that these passages do not refer to homosexual orientation as currently understood.
Liberal and conservative Christian scholars, accept earlier versions of the texts that make up the Bible in Hebrew or Greek. However, within these early texts there are many terms that modern scholars have interpreted differently from previous generations of scholars.
There are concerns with copying errors, forgery, and biases among the translators of later Bibles. They consider some verses such as those they say support slavery or the inferior treatment of women as not being valid today, and against what they feel is the will of God present in the context of the Bible. They cite these issues when arguing for a change in theological views on sexual relationships to what they say is an earlier view. They differentiate among various sexual practices, treating rape, prostitution, or temple sex rituals as immoral and those within committed relationships as positive regardless of sexual orientation. They view certain verses, which they believe refer only to homosexual rape, as not relevant to consensual homosexual relationships.
In short, the Bible, as it exists today, is a work that was cobbled together from old Jewish religious texts and the writings of early Christians designed to support their beliefs. The Bible has been translated from the original Greek into different languages and extensively rewritten over the years to suit then-current religious thinking until it bears little resemblance to the original Greek writings.
There has always been a theory amongst many Bibilical scholars that the Gospels, not one of which are of the period of Jesus’ ministry, are all based on a single original period document, that was suppressed by early Christian leaders and is no longer extant.
German theologians have called this the “Q” or Quelle document. (quelle=source)
In the nineteenth century, Evangelical Christians invented their own hagiology
that included the Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon, speaking in tongues and numerous other fictional events. None of these events are to be found in the Bible but these omissions in no way prevents Evangelical Christians from believing they do.
‘Armageddon’ is actually purported by some Christian sects to be an actual battle. According to Pentecostal fanciful interpretations, the Bible states that Armageddon will be a battle where God finally comes in and takes over the world and rules it the way it should have been ruled all along. After this vaguely-defined battle of Armageddon, Pentecostals firmly believe that there will follow 1000 years of peace and plenty which, according to their lore and legend, will be the sole lot of their sect and no other religion.
The actual scene of the fictional battle is referred to by Pentecostals as being clearly set forth in Revelation 16:14-16. It is not. The specific citation reads, in full:
“14. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
“15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
“16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
This very brief mention of Armageddon has given rise to the elaborate but entirely fictional legend of the so-called Final Battle between the forces of good and evil. There is no mention in Revelations 16: 14-16 whatsoever of Parusia or the second coming of Jesus, the apocryphal Anti-Christ, the Rapture or the many other delightful inventions designed to bolster the Pentecostal elect and daunt their adversaries.
These adversaries consist of all other branches of the Christian religion with especial emphasis placed on Jews and Catholics. The Pentecostals also loathe Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and an endless list of anyone and everyone whose views clash with theirs such as scientists and any academic who views the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel as anything but tissues of lies.
The earlier, original cult of Christianity did not initially expand beyond a small group of poor and illiterate Jews until several hundred years after the purported lifetime of Jesus and then it spread rapidly in a remarkably tolerant Roman Empire until it became the dominant state religion.
As a religion, Christianity has shrunk in recent decades past, until its adherents are either traditionalists without zeal or zealots without tradition.
Much has been made of a purported resurgence of evangelical Christianity in the United States and its numbers have been placed by various American media organs at an astonishing 65% of the American public. The actual figures, about 5% of the total American population, clearly do not reflect these propagandistic fictions.
But the Christian Right has made strong, undercover, efforts to promulgate laws that would elevate them to national power. One of these ploys is called the Biblical Law. The implementation of Biblical Law is central to the mission of building what they consider to be the “Kingdom of God” on earth. The way to get to Biblical Law is through politics. Therefore, God's law as seen by man and manifested in the Bible should govern. References to the Ten Commandments are more than symbolic. It reflects a belief that the Bible, not the Constitution, represents the final legal authority.
1) The federal government should recede into the background through massive tax cuts. This concept has more than one benefit. As money available for corrupting so-called “entitlements” dries up, there will not be funding for welfare leeches, birth control programs, support for the army of illegal aliens now flooding out country and the notorious Social Security give-aways.
2) Christian churches should be mandated to take over responsibility for welfare and education by so-called faith-based initiatives and school vouchers. By these means, “True Christians” can establish a firm control over the education of American youth. They are determined to instill what they term Christian Values in American youth and by this means insure a growing body of young Christians, ready, willing and able to assume leadership positions in a Christian United States.
3) Capitalism is the sole reason that America is now the greatest nation on earth and the Christian Community firmly believes that this engine of national success and power should be freed of current regulations that harmfully restrict America’s major corporations in achieving their maximum growth potential. We are therefore opposed to so-called “environmental” rules and regulations, restrictive and repressive work safety regulations, involvement by the Federal government in civil rights matters. We must first and foremost introduce and secure legislation to halt devastating personal injury lawsuits against blessed Corporate America.
4) The U.S. Constitution should conform to Biblical Law.
The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004, introduced into both houses of Congress on February 11, 2004, included the acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law by an official in his capacity of executing his office.
This is another firm and ascending attempted step in the establishment of a “true Christian society” in America.
December 25, 272 CE was the first official public celebration of Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, as a pagan Roman holiday. Dies Natalis Solis Invicti translates to "the birthday of the Unconquered Sun" and belonged to the cult of Mithras, popular with the Roman military. This was later co-opted by Christians to celebrate the fictional birth of their favorite Essene, Jesus. Turning the holiday into "Christmas" (in 336 CE) was part of a pattern of the early Christian church stealing various pagan festivals and feast days for their own use. In point of fact, the actual year and date of Jesus’ birth is completely unknown.
It is near; it is at hand. Maybe tomorrow but probably never
A compendium of endless predictions of the Second Coming based on period documents
An untold number of people have tried to predict the return of Jesus by using elaborate timetables. Most date setters do not realize that mankind has not kept an unwavering record of time. Anyone wanting to chart, for example, 100 BCE to 2000 CE, would have to contend with the fact that 46 BCE was 445 days long, there was no year 0 BCE, and in 1582 we switched from Julian Years (360 days) to Gregorian (365 days). Because most prognosticators are not aware of all of these changes, their math is immediately off by at least several years if not decades.
The return of Jesus the Christ is easily the most important event in Pentecostal fictive history and long before the Pentecostal sect evolved in 1900, empty-headed religious zealots, banging on their empty drums, have been predicting the Second Coming.
Herewith we present a brief compendium of the more entertaining prophesies for the entertainment of the reader.
Even before all the books of the New Testament were invented, and at about the time of the abortive Essene revolt in Jerusalem, there was talk that Jesus’ Return had already taken place. The Thessalonians panicked when they heard a rumor that the day of the Lord was at hand, and they had missed the event..
A Roman priest living in the second century predicted Jesus would return in 500 CE, based on the dimensions of Noah's ark. Someone must have used a bad ruler because Jesus did not appear in 500 CE
All credulous members of what passed for normal society seemed affected by the prediction that Jesus was coming back at the start of the new millennium. The magic of the number 1000 was the sole reason for the expectation. During concluding months of 999 CE, everyone was on his best behavior; worldly goods were sold and given to the poor; swarms of pilgrims headed east to meet the Lord at Jerusalem; buildings went unrepaired; crops were left unplanted; and criminals were set free from jails. When the year 999 CE turned into 1000 CE, nothing happened. Many citizens of the world who had given their property away, but certainly not those who accepted it, were stunned but eventually hopeful that the event would be postponed until 1001. Nothing happened then, either.
This year was cited as the beginning of the millennium because it marked 1,000 years since Jesus’ alleged crucifixion.
The "Letter of Toledo" warned everyone to hide in the caves and mountains. The world was reportedly to be destroyed with only a few spared, including the letter writer. It was not.
The Taborites of Czechoslovakia predicted every city in the known world would be annihilated by fire. Only the five mountain strongholds they occupied would be saved from the Celestial Barbeque. This did not happen
Muntzer, a leader of German peasants, announced that the return of Jesus was near. After Muntzer and his men destroyed the high and mighty, the Lord would supposedly return. This belief led to an uneven battle against government troops. Muntzer was strategically outnumbered. Muntzer claimed to have had a vision from God in which the Lord promised that He would catch the cannonballs of the enemy in the sleeves of His cloak. The prediction within the vision turned out to be false when Muntzer and his followers were mowed down by cannon fire. If one believes their stories, the disintegrated had the pleasure of going to heaven in a number of pieces which God Himself would lovingly sort out just like pious Jewish religious ambulance workers reassembling those fragmented in a modern Jerusalem bus bomb attack.
A repeat of the Muntzer affair occurred a few years later. This time, one greatly deluded by apparently very forceful, Jan Matthys took over the city of Münster in Germany. The city was to be the only one spared from Divine destruction. The inhabitants of Münster, evicted by Matthys and his men, regrouped and laid siege to the city. Within a year, every one of the strange occupiers in the city was dead. They also had an express ticket to Heaven.
In an England beset by religious fanatics, the Fifth Monarchy Men beseeched Jesus to establish a theocracy. They took up arms and tried to seize England by force. The movement, and most of the senior leaders of it, died when the British monarchy was restored in 1660. Jesus apparently was not listening or was otherwise engaged. Heads rolled, quite literally, as England finally escaped from the unwanted attention of dim-witted fanatics.
Mary Bateman, who specialized in fortune telling, had a magic chicken that laid eggs with end-time messages on them. One message said that Jesus was coming. The uproar she created ended when an unannounced visitor caught her forcing an egg into the hen's oviduct. Mary later was hanged for poisoning a wealthy client. History does not record whether the offended and sodomized chicken attended the hanging.
Spiritualist Joanna Southcott made the startling claim that she, by virgin birth, would produce the second Jesus the Christ. Her abdomen began to swell and so did the crowds of people around her. This gathering is similar to certain primitive ethnic groups who see visions of the Virgin Mary on refrigerator doors or reflected on rooming house walls. The time for the birth came and passed with no Jesus appearing. As for the miraculous Southcott, she died soon after and an autopsy revealed she had experienced a false pregnancy. Her followers blamed the Antichrist for this.
John Wesley wrote that "the time, times and half a time" of Revelation 12:14 were 10581836, "when Christ should come" John Wesley was wrong in this matter as well as a number of other items of religious thought he preached.
William Miller was the founder of an end-times movement that was so prominent it received its own name, Millerism. From his studies of the Bible, Miller determined that the second coming would happen sometime between 1843-1844. A spectacular meteor shower in 1833 gave the movement excellent momentum. The buildup of anticipation continued until March 21, 1844, when Miller's one-year timetable ran out. Some followers set another date--Oct 22, 1844. This too failed, collapsing the movement. One follower described the days after the failed predictions: "The world made merry over the old Prophet's predicament. The taunts and jeers of the 'scoffers' were well-nigh unbearable." People in general do not suffer fools gladly.
Rev. Thomas Parker, a Massachusetts minister, looked for the millennium to start about 1859. It did not. Parker subsequently was placed in a lunatic asylum when discovered running, buck naked, down the street in Bainbridge, screeching that Jesus was right behind him. What was behind the Reverend Parker were local bailiffs with nets.
The revisit of Halley's comet to the earth’s bemused vision was, for many, an indication of Jesus’ Second Coming. The earth actually passed through the gaseous tail of the comet. One enterprising man sold comet pills to people for protection against the effects of the toxic gases. Toxic gasses, mostly vocal methane, from frantic Fundamentalists did not need pills. It might have been better if the predictors had used Prozac tranquilizer pills but as they had not yet been invented, this is a moot point.
Charles Russell, after being exposed to the lunatic babblings of William Miller, founded his own organization that evolved into the Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1914, Russell predicted the return of Jesus the Christ. Jesus the Christ was not listening and did not appear in 1914.
In 1918, new studies assisted Russell from extending his predictions to that year. Jesus the Christ, or His travel agent, did not oblige.
The Witnesses had no better luck in 1925. They already possessed the title of “Most Wrong Predictions.” They would expand upon it with great zeal and no sense whatsoever in the years to come.
When the city of Jerusalem was captured from the Arab inhabitants by the Jews in 1967, prophecy watchers declared that the "Time of the Gentiles" had come to an end.
The ‘True Light Church of Christ’ made its claim to fame by incorrectly forecasting the return of Jesus. A number of church members had quit their livelihoods ahead of the promised advent. In earlier time, such deluded creatures gave their property away to their gleeful, non-believing neighbors, donned white nightgowns and stood up on hilltops, waiting for the Celestial Elevator. It never came for them but pneumonia and the rubber bags did.
A comet that turned out to be a visual disappointment nonetheless compelled one preacher to announce that it would be a sign of the Lord's return. It was not.
The Jehovah's Witnesses were back at it again with commendable zeal in 1975. The failure of the latest forecast did not affect the growth of the movement. The Watchtower magazine, a major Witness periodical, had over 13 million subscribers. Many of them actually are able to read, albeit very slowly, but the majority loved the large pictures. However, over 40 millions have read the Left Behind books or, as they have irreverently been termed, the My Left Behind books.
One author boldly declared that the Rapture would occur before December 31, 1981, based on Christian prophecy, astronomy, and a dash of ecological fatalism. He pegged the date to Jesus' promised return to earth a generation after Israel's rebirth. He also made references to the "Jupiter Effect," a planetary alignment occurring every 179 years that supposedly could lead to earthquakes and nuclear plant meltdowns. Also, there were saintly rumors of the Lost Continent of Atlantis suddenly emerging from the depths of Lake Baikal in Russia, or according to other enlightened cretins, Lake Michigan, New York Harbor, the Mississippi River just off of New Orleans or the main public reservoir of Phoenix, Arizona. There was no Rapture and Atlantis never surfaced.
The lunatic fringe was at it again in 1982 when they loudly proclaimed that the world as we all knew it was going to end in 1982, when the planets lined up and created magnetic forces that would bring “Armageddon” to the earth. Astrologers and religious predictors joined forces here and when nothing happened, all of them went back to the Ouija boards. Armageddon is, of course, pure fiction and is not found in the Bible, even in the weird rantings of the lunatic John of Patmos.
A group called the Tara Centers placed full-page advertisements in many major newspapers for the weekend of April 24-25, 1982, announcing: "The Christ is Now Here!" They predicted that He was to make himself known "within the next two months." After the date passed, they said that the delay was only because the "consciousness of the human race was not quite right..." Obviously, this same statement can easily apply to the mental stability of the Tara Center people. Unfounded rumor had it that Jesus in fact did arrive but was arrested by New York City Vice Squad for unmentionable acts in a public lavatory in Central Park.
The Jehovah's Witnesses made sure, in 1984, that no one else would be able to top their record of most wrong doomsday predictions. The Witnesses' record currently holds at nine. The years are: 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984. Tired of loud public scorn and derision, the Witnesses have modestly retired from the field and now spend their time banging on doors and hawking their magazines, T-shirts and Second Coming bath mats and ashtrays.
The book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988, came out only a few months before the event was to take place. What little time the book had left to it and its feeble minded readers, it used effectively. By the time the predicted dates, September 11-13, rolled around, whole churches were caught up in the excitement the book generated. Not unnaturally, nothing happened. The writer and publisher, however, benefited greatly from the sales.
After the passing of the deadline in 88 Reasons, the author, Edgar Whisenant, came out with a new book called 89 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1989. This book sold only a fraction of the number of copies his prior release had sold.
A group in Australia predicted Jesus would return through the Sydney Harbor at 9 a.m., March 31, 1991. Rumors are that He was doing the breast stroke in the Harbor but was run over by a car ferry and drowned.
Menachem Schneerson, a mystic Russian-born rabbi, called for the Messiah to come by September 9, 1991, the start of the Jewish New Year. Apparently, Jesus was not listening and failed to appear. The good rabbi passed away and his followers eagerly anticipated his own return. He did not do so.
A Korean group, called Mission for the Coming Days, had the Korea Church in a state of frenzied excitement in the fall of 1992. They foresaw October 28, 1992 as the date for the Glorious Rapture and arrival of the Celestial Omnibus. Numerology was the basis for the date. Several camera shots that left ghostly images on pictures were thought to be a supernatural confirmation of the date. Careless photography was a more likely suspect.
If the year 2000 is the end of the 6,000-year cycle, then the Rapture must take place in 1993, because you would need seven years of the Tribulation. This was the murky thinking of a number of prophecy writers. They were all wrong.
In the book, 1994: The Year of Destiny , F. M. Riley foretold of God's plan to rapture His people. The name of his ministry is “The Last Call,” and he operated out of a Missouri that has produced both John Ashcroft and Jesse James.
Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles caused quite a stir when he announced he had received a vision from God that warned of apocalyptic event on June 9, 1994. Hinkle, quoting God, said, "On Thursday June the 9th, I will rip the evil out of this world." From a proper reading of Bible prophecy, the only thing that God could possibly rip from the earth would be the Christian Church. Some people tried to interpret Hinkle's unscriptural vision to mean that God would the rip evil out of our hearts when He Raptured us. As usual the date came and went with no heart surgery or Rapture.
Harold Camping, in his book Are You Ready?, predicted the Lord would return in September 1994. The book was full of numerology that added up to 1994 as the date of Christ's return. The numbers did not crunch and Camping joined a long list of failed prophets, seers and other mountebanks in blessed oblivion.
After promising they would not make any more end time predictions, the Jehovah's Witnesses fell off the wagon and proclaimed 1994 as the conclusion of an 80-year generation; the year 1914 was the starting point. Their magazine sales are up but the ashtrays were not doing as well as expected. This group of lovelies now sold Rapture Travel Suits, matching Rapture luggage and Dramamine pills for the trip.
A self-proclaimed California psychic, Sheldon Nidle, predicted the end would come with the convergence of 16 million space ships and a host of angels upon the earth on December 17, 1996. Nidle explained the passing of the date by claiming the angels placed us in a holographic projection to preserve us and give us a second chance. His doctors will not let him write any more and even took away his crayons.
When Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed their peace pact on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, some saw the events as the beginning of tribulation. With the signing of the peace agreement, Daniel's 1,260-day countdown was underway. By adding 1,260 days to September 1993, you arrive at February 24, 1997. Jesus, on the other hand, did not arrive nor were the Elect of the Pentecostal cults shot up into the stratosphere like so many ballistic missiles.
Stan Johnson of the Prophecy Club saw a "90 percent" chance that the Tribulation would start September 12, 1997. He based his conclusion on several end-time signs: that would be Jesus' 2,000th birthday and it would also be the Day of Atonement, although it wouldn’t be what is currently the Jewish Day of Atonement. Further supporting evidence came from Romanian pastor Dumitru Duduman. In several heavenly visions, caused by the imbibing of too much plum wine, Dumitru claimed to have seen the Book of Life. In one of his earlier visions, there were several pages yet to be completed. In his last vision, he noticed the Book of Life only had one page left. Doing some rough calculating, Johnson and friends figured the latest time frame for the completion of the book would have to be September 1997. There were, quite naturally, more bitter disappointments as the time came and passed without a sight of Jerusalem Slim.
Numerology: Because 666 times three equals 1998, some people pointed to this year as being prophetically significant. This incredible information was posted on the Internet where it stunned dozens of true believers.
A Taiwanese cult operating out of Garland, Texas predicted Jesus would return on March 31 of 1998. The group's leader, Heng-ming Chen, announced God would return and then invite the cult members aboard a UFO at group excursion rates, no meals served.
The group abandoned their prediction when a precursor event failed to take place. The cult's leader had said that God would appear on every channel 18 of every TV in the world. Maybe God realized at the last minute, the Playboy Network was channel 18 on several cable systems, and He didn't want to have Christians watching a porn channel. He felt that mass viewing of the X-Hamster site was more than enough to bear.
1998 Marilyn Agee, in her book, The End of the Age, had her sights set on May 31, 1998. for the Glorious Arrival. This date was to conclude the 6,000-year cycle from the time of Adam. Agee looked for the Rapture to take place on Pentecost, which is also known as “the Feast of Weeks.” Another indicator of this date was the fact that the Holy Spirit did not descend upon the apostles until 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection. Israel was born in 1948; add the 50 days as years and you come up with whatever figure you like.
After her May 31 rapture date failed, Agee, unable to face up to her error, continued her date-setting by using various Scripture references to point to June 7, 14, 21 and about ten other dates. Marilyn then set a new date for the rapture: May 21 or 22 of the same year, Again, she and the dozens of believers who read her works were doomed to disappointment. Eventually, later rather than sooner, Agee joined the ranks of the Disproven and passed into blessed oblivion.
TV newscaster-turned-psychic Charles Criswell King had said in 1968 that the world as we know it would cease to exist on August 18, 1999. It did not.
Philip Berg, a rabbi at the Kabbalah Learning Center in New York, proclaimed that the end might arrive on September 11, 1999, when "a ball of fire will descend . . . destroying almost all of mankind, all vegetation, all forms of life." Nothing happened on that date of note except that the Devil was arrested at a sex arcade in Times Square using counterfeit coins in a porn film viewer.
The names of the people and organizations that called for the return of Jesus at the turn of the century is too long to be listed here. If there were a day on which Jesus could not return, it must have been January 1, 2000. This day came and passed and the waiting multitude did not see Jesus descending on Dallas, arrayed like Solomon in all his splendor. Many had hangovers and the only visions they had on that day were of the double variety.
On May 5, 2000, all of the planets were supposed to have been in alignment. This was said to cause the earth to suffer earthquakes, volcanic eruption, and various other nasty stuff. A similar alignment occurred in 1982 and nothing happened. People failed to realize that the other nine planets only exert a very tiny gravitational pull on the earth. If you were to add up the gravitational force from the rest of the planets, the total would only amount to a fraction of the tug the moon has on the earth.
According to Michael Rood, the end times have a prophetically complicated connection to Israel's spring barley harvest. The Day of the Lord began on May 5, 2000. Rood's fall feast calendar called for the Russian Gog-Magog invasion of Israel to take place at sundown on October 28, 2000. It did not. Perhaps Prophet Rood might have considered the annual Harvest of the Floating Condoms from the waters of New York City as an alternative event.
Dr. Dale SumburËru looked for March 22, 1997 to be "the date when all the dramatic events leading through the tribulation to the return of Christ should begin" The actual date of Jesus’ return could be somewhere between July 2000 and March 2001. Dr. SumburËru is more general about the timing of Jesus’ second coming than most writers. He states, "The day the Lord returns is currently unknown because He said [Jesus] these days are cut short and it is not yet clear by how much and in what manner they are cut short. If the above assumptions are not correct, my margin of error would be in weeks, or perhaps months.”
ARKANSAS CITY (AP) – September 3, 2003 A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car’s sun roof during an incident best described as “a mistaken rapture” by dozens of eye witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she claimed was Jesus. “She started screaming “He’s back, He’s back” and climbed right out of the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car,” said Everet Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene. She had been run over by several vehicles, including a long-distance truck. “I was slowing down but she wouldn’t wait till I stopped,” Williams said. “She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky,” he went on to say. “This is the strangest thing I’ve seen since I’ve been on the force,” said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene. Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was dressed up as Jesus and was on his way to a toga costume party when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blowup dolls filled with helium which floated up into the air. Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who’s been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration, and said “Come back here,” just as the Williams’ car passed him. Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into the sky as they passed by him, according to her husband, who says his wife loved Jesus more than anything else. When asked for comments about the twelve dolls, Jenkins replied “This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen.”
This event is probably the most illustrative of all the great compendiums of Prophesy.
For the past several decades, Jack Van Impe has hinted at nearly every year as being the time for the Rapture. Normally, he has only gone out one or two years from the current calendar year. However, Jack’s latest projection for the rapture goes out several years. His new math uses 51 years as the length of a generation. If you add 51 years to 1967, the year Israel seized Jerusalem from its Arab inhabitants, you get 2018. Once you subtract the seven-year tribulation period, you arrive at 2011. Dozens would be energized and sell off their bicycle training wheels but again, sad to say, nothing happened.
New Age writers cited Mayan and Aztec calendars that predicted the end of the age on December 21, 2012. On that date, nothing happened.
Sir Isaac Newton, Britain’s greatest scientist, spent 50 years and wrote 4,500 pages trying to predict when the end of the world was coming. The most definitive date he set for the apocalypse, which he scribbled on a scrap of paper, was 2060. The original scrap is now in the archives of Brother Pat Robertson. It appears to have been written with a ball point pen which was not invented until 1948.
Aelred of Rievaulx. The Mirror of Charity (Speculum Caritatis). Trans. Elizabeth Connor, with introduction and notes by Charles Dumont. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1990.
——–. Spiritual Friendship (De Spiritali Amicitia). Trans. Mary Eugenia Laker, with introduction by Douglass Roby. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1974.
Alexander, David; Pat Alexander (1983). The Lion handbook to the Bible. Tring: Lion Hudson. ISBN 0-86760-271-6.
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Boisvert, Donald L. Sanctity and Male Desire. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2004.
Bauer, Walter; Robert A. Kraft (1996) . Orthodoxy and heresy in earliest Christianity. Mifflintown, Pennsylvania: Sigler Press. ISBN 0-9623642-7-4.
Bergmeier, Roland (1993). Die Essener-Berichte des Flavius Josephus: Quellenstudien zu den Essenertexten im Werk des judischen Historiographen. Kampen, Germany: Kok Pharos Publishing House. ISBN 90-390-0014-X.
Boccaccini, Gabriele, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998).
Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
——–. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. New York: Villard Books, 1994.
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Charlesworth, James H. The Beloved Disciple: Whose Witness Validates the Gospel of John? Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press, 1995.
Craddock, Patricia. “Historical Discovery and Literary Invention in Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall’,” Modern Philology 85,4(May 1988), 569–587.
Crowfoot, Grace Mary, “The Linen Textiles.” Pages 18–40 in Discoveries in the Judean Desert I: Qumran Cave I. Edited by Dominique Barthélemy and Joseph Tadeusz Milik Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956.
Crompton, Louis. Homosexuality & Civilization. Cambridge, MA, and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.
Culpepper, R. Alan. John, the Son of Zebedee: The Life of a Legend. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1994.
De Boer, Esther A. “Mary Magdalene and the Disciple Jesus Loved.” Lectio Difficilior, 1/2000, online, http://www.lectio.unibe.ch/00_1/m-forum.htm
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Durant, Will (1993). Caesar and Christ. MJF Books. ISBN 5-552-12435-9.
Eisenman, Robert H. (1997). James, the brother of Jesus: the key to unlocking the secrets of early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York City: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-86932-5.
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Ewing, Upton Clary (1994) . The prophet of the Dead Sea scrolls: the Essenes and the Early Christians, one and the same holy people: their seven devout practices. Tree of Life Publications. ISBN 0-930852-26-5. OCLC 30358890.
——– (1961). The Essene Christ. New York City: Philosophical Library. OCLC 384703.
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Historia Naturalis. V, 17 or 29; in other editions V,(15).73; the passage in question: “Ab occidente litora Esseni fugiunt usque qua nocent, gens sola et in toto orbe praeter ceteras mira, sine ulla femina, omni venere abdicata, sine pecunia, socia palmarum. in diem ex aequo convenarum turba renascitur, large frequentantibus quos vita fessos ad mores eorum fortuna fluctibus agit. ita per saeculorum milia — incredibile dictu — gens aeterna est, in qua nemo nascitur. tam fecunda illis aliorum vitae paenitentia est! infra hos Engada oppidum fuit, secundum ab Hierosolymis fertilitate palmetorumque nemoribus, nunc alterum bustum. inde Masada castellum in rupe, et ipsum haut procul Asphaltite. et hactenus Iudaea est.”. cf. English translation.
Horner, Tom. Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978.
Jennings, Theodore W., Jr. The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2003.
Kalthoff, Alb. The Rise of Christianity London, 1907
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Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2 vols., 2003.
Koester, Helmut (1971). “The Theological Aspects of Primitive Christian Heresy”. In James McConkey Robinson. The Future of our religious past: essays in honour of Rudolf Bultmann. New York City: Harper & Row. OCLC 246558.
Larson, Martin Alfred (1977). The story of Christian origins: or, The sources and establishment of Western religion. Washington: J.J. Binns. ISBN 0-88331-090-2. OCLC 2810217.
——– (1967). The Essene heritage: or, The teacher of the scrolls and the gospel Christ. New York City: Philosophical Library. OCLC 712416.
Legge, Francis (1964). Forerunners and rivals of Christianity, from 330 B.C. to 330 A.D. New Hyde Park, New York: University Books. LCCN 6424125. OCLC 381558.
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Neill, James. The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies. Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland, 2009.
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Phipps, William E. The Sexuality of Jesus. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1996.
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Dr. Phillip L. Kushner
- Full Time Lecturer , Department of Mathematics University of Texas at Austin, Texas
- Staff Member, University of Texas
- Education: PhD , Earth Sciences. Stanford University
Dr Kushner has also contributed articles to the ‘Intelligence and National Security’ on-line magazine of the Routledge group along with R. Monhan Srivastava, and Thomas K. Kimmel (Jr)
Associated with: David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies: Welcome
Home Address: 1845 W. 36th St., Austin, TX 78731
Work:(512) 232-6188 or (512) 471-0119 (Dept. Secty)
Home: (512) 451-8860