Jesus was a terrorist!
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30-11-2016, 03:52 PM
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
(30-11-2016 02:36 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(30-11-2016 02:29 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The least he was, (if he existed), was a *trouble-maker*.
During the Pax Romana, in occupied countries, there was a "standing order" to summarily execute trouble-makers. If he caused a ruckus in the temple (the economic center and life-blood of a city entirely devoted to ritual festival-tourism), then he posed a threat. They just got rid of a meddlesome threat.

Yep.

Then, after the war (66-70) they wrote fabricated stories about him....turned him into a messiah who was a pacifist. They created an "already been and gone" Jewish messiah in order to suppress Jewish nationalism rearising out of the ashes of the war.

Good to hear from you Bucky.

You're a very lucky daddy.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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30-11-2016, 03:57 PM
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
(30-11-2016 03:52 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(30-11-2016 02:36 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Yep.

Then, after the war (66-70) they wrote fabricated stories about him....turned him into a messiah who was a pacifist. They created an "already been and gone" Jewish messiah in order to suppress Jewish nationalism rearising out of the ashes of the war.

Good to hear from you Bucky.

You're a very lucky daddy.

She's a lot prettier than her dad. She rocks my world.

PS....5 years down the track....I want to apologise to everyone for all the typos in my writing. Why was I so careless?Gasp
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01-12-2016, 11:35 AM
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
Mark, if you want to take the NT as an accurate history then you have someone in Jesus who is of royal blood and is engaged in a peaceful exercise, feeds the poor etc. I don't think today we would say that this sort of person is a terrorist. He came up against a "regime" which crucified him but that is a result of the regime's actions and not a result of a terroristic nature of the Jesus character.

What I would add (wait for it) is that Joe Atwill describes, in Caesar's Messiah, the coincidences between the travels of Jesus in the NT and the battles fought by Titus Flavius and in the course of this discussion he mentions a "rebel" called Jesus. Of course, he sets this much later than the biblical Jesus story. Atwill's theory is that the "real" Jesus character is based on Rabbi Eleazar who converted Queen Helena to his version of Judaism. The thesis of the revisionists is that this all happened after the death of Nero and that the rebellion was a result of a political vacuum in Rome in 69 AD, the year of the four Emperors. One theory is that Jesus, "King of Kings", aspired to the Imperial throne.

I think, in either case, as a preacher of peace or as a later, peaceful "royal pretender" one could hardly call him a "terrorist". I think it is more likely he was a Mason and an Illuminati to be honest. lol
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01-12-2016, 12:18 PM
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
He was a mythical construct mate and you're deluded Laugh out load
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01-12-2016, 01:37 PM (This post was last modified: 01-12-2016 01:42 PM by Deltabravo.)
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
This discussion reminds me of the English phenomenon of transpotting. If you have ever been to a train station in England your will see men standing on the platforms with notebooks and binoculars, looking at trains. They collect the numbers on train engines and carriages. They collect these numbers and then compare notes with other trainspotters. It is truly bizarre, and completely pointless.

So what if one thinks Jesus was a real person by that name or some similar name who was circulating around Judea. What difference does it make to anything? It's like talking about whether Harry Potter's persona was based on some kid J K Rowling knew or wether there was some eccentric millionaire called Bruce Wayne. Suppose someone came across a parchment in a cave in Egypt which identified Jesus as based on Eleazar or Appolonius or an amalgam of the two. It changes nothing. Those who believe will still believe, come what may. For those who don't, it's a complete irrelevance. It's not even interesting. The sheer boredom of the topic is exacerbated by the fact that no one ever will find such proof, we don't even know who Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were or what parts of the gospels are made up, embellished or true. It's pointless.

What is relevant is that there is an ideological world war going on right now in which we in the West are waking up to the fact that a purportedly Abrahamic seventh century religion is tearing at the fabric of Western civilisation and half of us are wanting to accept it as a religion with all the rights that entitles it to while the other half think it is a death cult. In the meantime, whatever good a religion like Christianity might offer in terms of its moral and political message is lost in a fog of pseudo-intellectual ramblings about who Jesus and Paul were and how their "Jewish" upbringing influenced their teaching etc etc. And, what's worse, is that the Muslim world has no idea about the teachings of Christianity and how antithetical they are to what fundamentalist, and even moderate, Muslims believe, assuming one can figure out what the moral and philosophical basis of Islam is, other than throwing everyone into the "crusher". And he is a Prophet in these gullibles religion! They know nothing of him because virtually no ordinary Muslim has read the Koran, let alone the NT. Most Muslims in the Middle East (and I live here) are more interested in their cars and who they are going to vote for on Arabs Got Talent. We tremble while these people sleep walk around without a clue about anything and with less understanding of the world the an eight year old in the West.
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01-12-2016, 02:01 PM
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
(30-11-2016 02:14 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If this Jesus existed, he was a terrorist.

Hi Mark.

Congrats on the newborn. Thumbsup

Can you clarify the above statement as I do not understand.

Thanks mate. D.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
Banjo.
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01-12-2016, 03:35 PM (This post was last modified: 01-12-2016 03:56 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
(01-12-2016 11:35 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  Mark, if you want to take the NT as an accurate history then you have someone in Jesus who is of royal blood and is engaged in a peaceful exercise, feeds the poor etc. I don't think today we would say that this sort of person is a terrorist. He came up against a "regime" which crucified him but that is a result of the regime's actions and not a result of a terroristic nature of the Jesus character.

What I would add (wait for it) is that Joe Atwill describes, in Caesar's Messiah, the coincidences between the travels of Jesus in the NT and the battles fought by Titus Flavius and in the course of this discussion he mentions a "rebel" called Jesus. Of course, he sets this much later than the biblical Jesus story. Atwill's theory is that the "real" Jesus character is based on Rabbi Eleazar who converted Queen Helena to his version of Judaism. The thesis of the revisionists is that this all happened after the death of Nero and that the rebellion was a result of a political vacuum in Rome in 69 AD, the year of the four Emperors. One theory is that Jesus, "King of Kings", aspired to the Imperial throne.

I think, in either case, as a preacher of peace or as a later, peaceful "royal pretender" one could hardly call him a "terrorist". I think it is more likely he was a Mason and an Illuminati to be honest. lol

"Mark, if you want to take the NT as an accurate history"


I don't. There may be some elements of truth in the Jeebus story, but that's all.

[i]"then you have someone in Jesus who is of royal blood"
[/i]

Nope. There's no evidence for that that I've ever read.

"is engaged in a peaceful exercise, feeds the poor etc."

No. The miracle stories aren't true, and I think "blessed are the peacemakers" and "love your enemies" is Roman government propaganda. I think Jesus was a terrorist and you can read why in this thread.

Atwill's theory is that the "real" Jesus character is based on Rabbi Eleazar who converted Queen Helena to his version of Judaism.

I've read Atwill's book a few times. I don't remember any mention of this.
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01-12-2016, 04:49 PM
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
Transpotting? Rolleyes
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02-12-2016, 02:59 PM (This post was last modified: 02-12-2016 03:38 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
(01-12-2016 02:01 PM)Banjo Wrote:  
(30-11-2016 02:14 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If this Jesus existed, he was a terrorist.

Hi Mark.

Congrats on the newborn. Thumbsup

Can you clarify the above statement as I do not understand.

Thanks mate. D.

Hi Banjo. How are you?

Here is why I think Jesus was a terrorist...chapter 2 of my book...

Yeshua (Jesus)

This chapter sets out to place Yeshua (Jesus) in the historical context in which he’s said to have existed, and tells a more truthful tale of his life than the traditional one taught in church.

“Yeshua” is used when referring to the genuine historical figure,
(http://www.thenazareneway.com/ yeshua_jesus_real_name.htm) and “Jesus” when referring to the figure in the Gospels.

Did Yeshua Exist?

The Gospels’ writers and editors were mythmakers. Many historians suspect they didn’t base their writings on a genuine historical character, and they may be right. No definitive contemporary archaeological evidence has ever been found for Yeshua’s existence, despite many wordy claims, lacking in facts, to the contrary (such as here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39-dhelsPbY). Do contemporary historians mention him?

Flavius Josephus, (37–100 CE) (http://www.josephus.org) a prolific and comprehensive Jewish historian, who would frequently write a few pages on the execution of common Jewish thieves, has not one authentic line that mentions Yeshua. “He” does mention “Christ” on two occasions, yet both have been convincingly exposed as interpolations, (http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/josephus-etal.html) although not all scholars accept this (http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/14157). So if Yeshua existed, either Josephus chose not to write about him, or early Christians destroyed his record because it didn’t fit with their manufactured image.

Justus of Tiberias (35–100 CE) was a first-century Jewish author born in Galilee. Although he wrote extensively about contemporary Jewish history, he never mentioned Jesus. (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsou...505.html).

Philo-Judaeus, (15-10 BCE - 45-50 CE) a prolific writer and historian, was an Alexandrian Jew who visited Jerusalem in the years Jesus was allegedly teaching and working miracles. He too failed to mention Jesus. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.j...letter=P).

We might expect Jewish religious officials to have said a significant amount about him, but they didn’t. The earliest references to him in Judaic rabbinical literature didn’t occur before the third century CE and they bear little relation to the Jesus of the Gospels.

What about the Roman writers of the first century? There are no Roman records of Pilate’s or Herod’s dealings with Jesus. The Roman world left behind senate records and volumes of other writings, which provide historians with a large amount of data, yet, it seems, nothing about Jesus. Edward Gibbon, (http://kirjasto.sci.fi/egibbon.htm) writing in the latter half of the eighteenth century in his classic work Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, stated:
“How shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world to those 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, demons 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.” Gibbon devoted twenty or so years of his life to his seventeen-volume work. It’s the result of exhaustive research, so we can trust that his comments are authoritative.

Saint Paul, who probably appeared on the historical scene only fifteen years after Yeshua’s death, does repeatedly commend his Christ, but some scholars suspect he refers to a different character to Yeshua. (http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/parttwo.htm). If this is so, his references to “Jesus” may be interpolations. Whether or not Paul’s Christ was Yeshua, his writings are remarkably deficient in facts about Jesus. (this is discussed, in depth, in chapter 4.)
Pliny the younger did mention the existence of Christians in Asia Minor in 112 CE, but wrote nothing about Jesus the person (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/pliny.html).

It’s said that in 115 CE, the Roman historian Tacitus made the first mention of Jesus. However, this reference isn’t mentioned by any of the church Fathers, (eminent priests and theologians of early Christianity) and is considered by many historians to be a forgery. This reference is frequently referred to in pro-Christian literature.

The surprising truth is that no contemporary literate official, scribe, merchant, soldier or priest documented details about Jesus that have survived. If Jesus preached to thousands, cured cripples, expelled demons, and rose from the dead, surely someone would have jotted down some notes about him, but it appears they didn’t.

Despite the dearth of reputable evidence, it is probable that a man named Yeshua did exist, and parts of the Gospel plots are loosely based on his life. The reasoning is as follows.

There is non-biblical evidence for the existence of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, and for James, Jesus’ brother (discussed in chapter 4.) John and James were leaders of a Jewish sect, the Nazarenes, (also discussed soon) and many scholars claim Yeshua was their boss between these two, an idea that fits with what we know about Yeshua. The Nazarenes soldiered on for a few centuries after Jesus’ death, weren’t Christians, and there’s evidence from the church fathers’ writings that they believed Yeshua had existed.

Paul, the creator of Christian theology, claimed he met James and Peter, who may have been Yeshua’s brother and disciple respectively. This is unlikely to be a Christian interpolation, as Paul doesn’t write about James and Peter with much respect.

It can be argued that Yeshua probably existed, but his life story was far less remarkable than the Gospels would have us believe. I think his genuine historical record, if it ever existed, would have recorded his insignificance, so was destroyed by evangelical Christians sometime in the second, third or fourth centuries.

Once Yeshua’s existence is assumed, anyone who writes about him must comb through the Gospels to get specifics about his life. This is unfortunate, because - as discussed in depth in chapter 15 - the Gospels are unreliable records; yet to do so is unavoidable because details about him are lacking in other literature. I’ll give good reasons for assuming that some parts of the Gospels fit with a realistic story about him.

Yeshua’s Infancy
Matthew’s Gospel states that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small town in southern Judea, just outside Jerusalem - yet each of the Gospels claim he grew up in Galilee, which was a three day walk from Bethlehem. Why the different locations? Matthew’s was the first Gospel to give Jesus a birth story, and he was trying to make it seem to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy. Micah 5:2 reads:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (NIV.) “Bethlehem Ephrathah” clearly referred to a clan of people. Matthew changed this reference to a clan into a tale about a town. He wrote:
“And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, for out of you will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matt. 2:6, NJB.) This throws serious doubt on the Bethlehem birth scenario.

The year of Yeshua’s birth is uncertain. Matthew made out he was born in King Herod the Great’s time (he died in 4 BCE.) Yet Luke alleged he was born at the time of a census:
“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 Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1–7, KJV.)
The date of the only known contemporary census was c. 6–7 CE, and to hold a census was hardly a common occurrence. That makes the date of Jesus’ birth about 10 years later than Herod the Great’s death. A ten-year difference (between Matthew and Luke) is a serious discrepancy. One or both of the authors were mistaken, or were fabricating, as the two tales are irreconcilable.

The Gospels do agree that Jesus’ mother’s name was Mary. She was just a girl, very likely only fourteen to seventeen years old, as Jewish girls were nearly always married at this age (http://www.theology.edu/marriage.htm). She was probably from Galilee, in northern Judea, (http://www.goodnews.ie/palestiemap.shtml) and Jesus was her first child. Mary was betrothed to a Jewish man, Joseph, and they had a problem. Mary was pregnant and they weren’t yet married.

Neither Matthew nor Luke judged Joseph to be Jesus’ biological father, as they made out Mary was impregnated by a Holy Ghost. The other two Gospel authors didn’t discuss who the dad was, a remarkable omission if Mary had admitted a ghost did the deed, which she must have done, if Mark and John weren’t making up the story. (Just who may have been Yeshua’s real father is discussed shortly in this chapter.)

According to Luke, Mary moved from her hometown for three months to be with her relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah. This could have been to evade the embarrassment and danger (it was against the Jewish law) of being discovered pregnant out of wedlock. Matthew claimed Elizabeth was pregnant too, soon to give birth to John, Jesus’ cousin.

After Jesus’ birth, Matthew wrote that Mary, Joseph and the child fled to Egypt to avoid a paranoid King Herod.
“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matt. 2:13–15, KJV.) Matthew was trying to fit Jesus into an Old Testament verse from Hosea that stated,
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1, NJB.) Hosea wasn’t making a prophecy or prediction; he was referring to the Jewish people (Israel) having left Egypt some centuries beforehand. Matthew was trying to fit Jesus into a non-existent prophecy.

Matthew then told of Herod’s murder of innocent children:
“Herod was furious when he realized that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more” (Matt. 2:16–18, NJB.) Yet Jeremiah was clearly referring to the sixth century BCE Babylonian captivity, so was discussing an event that had already occurred (the kidnap of Rachel’s children by the Babylonians):
“Thus speaks Yahweh: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: It is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” (Jer. 31:15, NJB.)

There’s no secular record of Herod slaughtering Jewish children. (http://www.answering-christianity.com/ab...ls-3.htm). His primary role under the Romans was to keep the peace in Judea, not wreak havoc. Matthew was trying to make baby Jesus fulfill another non-existent prophecy and impress Jewish readers by giving Jesus an infancy story similar to that of Moses.

Matthew wrote that the family then turned to Galilee, and dwelt “in a city called Nazareth.” Luke wrote that after Jesus’ birth, the baby was taken to Jerusalem, and presented in the temple, and then they returned to Galilee, to “their own city, Nazareth.”

Yeshua’s Early Life
There is little evidence to support the Nazareth part of the story. Did Nazareth exist in the first century? Today’s Nazareth was probably only first named as such in the third or fourth century, and there is a paucity of good archaeological evidence the place was a town before that period (http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/nazareth.html, http://www.nazarethmyth.info). Richard Carrier, a well respected scholar, disagrees in the sense that he thinks Nazareth may have existed in the first century, but doesn’t think Jesus, who he doesn’t think ever existed, grew up there. (http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/arch...pmp_tp=1). So Yeshua may have grown up in one of many small Jewish villages that dotted the countryside in Galilee, but it almost certainly wasn’t today’s Nazareth.

Agriculture, building and fishing on the Sea of Galilee were the main local industries of note. Ninety percent of Galilean Jews lived a subsistence existence, working as peasant farmers, producing just enough food to feed their families. They may have supplemented their income by working as laborers when cities were being built.
Yeshua and his family were probably peasants who lived in houses made of stone, mud, and straw. Any furniture they may have had was very basic. Family groups lived closely huddled together in little villages. They would have had chickens, goats, sheep, and perhaps cattle. Some of the men may have worked as laborers building houses for the richer people. Communal gravesites that date from the era show skeletons with evidence of nutritional deficiencies, and that sixty percent of those buried had died before they reached puberty. Life was obviously a struggle in ancient Galilee.

Yeshua’s Brothers and Sisters
It’s clearly documented in the bible that Yeshua had four brothers and at least two sisters. Mark’s Gospel named the boys:
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3, KJV.)
Matthew wrote the same:
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matt. 13:55–56, KJV.) These brothers all had very patriotic Jewish names.

Many commentators claim one of his sisters was named Salome, (although she wasn’t specifically named as a sister)
“There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome” (Mark 15:40, KJV.)
“And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him” (Mark 16:1, KJV.) The other sister’s name wasn’t mentioned.

Luke and John also mentioned that Jesus had brothers and sisters, but didn’t allow them their Jewish names.

Paul, the man accredited with writing nearly one third of the New Testament, wrote of James as the Lord’s brother:
“But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother” (Gal. 1:19, KJV.)
The book of Acts stated:
“And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:13–14, KJV.)
It can be argued that all these authors deliberately undermined the importance of Jesus’ siblings by not discussing them in any depth. If that’s the case, it’s unlikely they fabricated the fact of their existence.

One possible reason don’t we hear more about Yeshua’s brothers and sisters is that people have been told by to believe Mary was a perpetual virgin, and perpetual virgins don’t have seven children.

One Catholic position is that Mary was a lifelong virgin, and that
“James, Joseph, and Jude are undoubtedly His cousins… But whether they were cousins on their father’s or mother’s side, whether cousins by blood or merely by marriage, cannot be determined with certainty” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02767a.htm). The reasoning used to arrive at this “cousin conclusion” is very convoluted, contrived, and relies on reinterpreting some straightforward passages in the bible. The reader might wonder whether it’s logical to claim these three were “undoubtedly” Jesus’ cousins, yet then admit to not knowing how they were related to him?

Elsewhere in the Catholic Encyclopedia it’s adamantly asserted that James was Jesus’ brother:
“Internal evidence (contents of the Epistle, its style, address, date, and place of composition) points unmistakably to James, the Lord’s brother, the Bishop of Jerusalem, as the author; he exactly, and he alone, fulfills the conditions required in the writer of the Epistle.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08275b.htm). Some Catholic historians have obviously failed to reach a consensus concerning James’ relationship to Jesus.

Yeshua quite clearly had brothers and sisters.

Yeshua and First Century Judaism
We know a lot about the political, social and religious climate in Yeshua’s day from sources such as Josephus, Philo and the Dead Sea scrolls. Religion and politics were closely intertwined, because political power was deployed using religion. Jewish identity, both nationalistic and religious, was derived from their fanatical belief in their one and only god, who they imagined had an interest in them and actively intervened in their affairs. Their scripture handed them a history, a set of laws, and a guide to what they could expect in the future. It also propped up the power of priests. Jews were clearly separate from non-Jewish people (Gentiles or “pagans.”) The Jewish population was dispersed throughout all parts of Palestine, whereas Gentiles lived in the larger cities such as Caesaria, Sepphoris, Jerusalem, and Tiberias. Gentiles didn’t reside in rural villages, so it’s likely Yeshua would have had very little contact with them.

The Gospels portray Jesus as an early-first-century Galilean rustic. Judaism, being the most important aspect of his identity, would have elevated his life above the everyday humdrum struggle for survival. He would have been circumcised, and proud to be David’s descendant. He would have eaten only kosher food, and kept holy the Sabbath, which meant that every Saturday he didn’t do business. Jews weren’t permitted to cook, clean, entertain guests, feed animals, hunt, or perform a myriad of other minor chores on the Sabbath. He would probably have partaken in the Passover celebrations, which meant an annual trip to Jerusalem. He must have imagined the land of Israel was in part his, as Yahweh had given it to the Jewish people. He would have gone to a local synagogue to talk about the Torah and the prophets’ books with his fellow Jews. He could have considered himself one of God’s chosen, and superior to Gentiles. Many Jews didn’t eat with, marry or even mix with pagans if they could avoid it. He may have told his disciples:
“Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 10:6, NJB) and
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” (Matt. 15:24, NJB.)
The first known documents that can be considered “Christian” were Paul’s writings, written at least fifteen plus years after Jesus died, and Paul barely talked about what Jesus said or did. Those documents defined Christian theology, yet Paul’s ideas were unknown to Yeshua. Many of the basic beliefs of Judaism and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Christianity was a brand new religion, and it claimed that Yahweh had a son who was his equal. It also attempted to undermine the importance of the Jewish Law. It’s impossible to imagine that Yeshua, a Jewish Galilean peasant, would try to invent a new doctrine such as Christianity. He no doubt discussed the substance of scripture, but wouldn’t have reinvented his basic beliefs.

It’s an undeniable fact that Yeshua was a Jew; never a Christian.

The Political Climate in Palestine
“The Jews discovered a fierce impatience of the dominion of Rome, which repeatedly broke out in the most furious massacres and insurrections…and we are tempted to applaud the severe retaliation which was exercised by the arms of the legions against a race of fanatics, whose dire and credulous superstition seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government, but of human kind. The enthusiasm of the Jews was supported by the opinion, that it was unlawful for them to pay taxes to an idolatrous master; and by the flattering promise which they derived from their ancient oracles, that a conquering Messiah would soon arise, destined to break their fetters, and to invest the favorites of heaven with the empire of the earth.”
(Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

In 37 BCE Herod “the Great” (http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodians/he...at01.html) laid siege to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish nation, with an army of Roman soldiers, and recaptured it from the Jewish people (the Romans had been in control from 63 BCE to 40 BCE.) It took them three months, and Herod began his long reign as king of Judea. The Romans had a policy of appointing locals as leaders by choosing them from the aristocratic families of the countries they conquered, as this helped police the people. So Israel was very much a part of the Empire, and had been for almost 90 years, by the time Yeshua started preaching. It was an important province, particularly as it was en route to Egypt, as Rome was heavily reliant on Egyptian grain.

Herod wanted the people to respect him as king of the Jews, but he lacked credibility, because he wasn’t a pure Jew, as his father was an Idumean, from an area to the south of Judea, (http://www.bible-history.com/geography/a...umea.html) and what’s more, he was a Roman puppet. Herod was paranoid about threats to his rule, and thought anyone of the royal Jewish bloodline was a danger. He had the last of the genuine Jewish kings, Antigonus, executed. He married a royal Jewish princess to prop up his claim to the crown, but, fretting about a challenge to his position, had her, her brother and his own two sons by the marriage executed. The Roman emperor Augustus had good reason to state
“I had sooner be Herod’s swine than his son” (Cecil Roth, A Short History of the Jewish People, 92.)

Herod tried to increase his prestige by undertaking massive building projects. He remodeled the temple in Jerusalem, employing ten thousand workers, and spared no expense. It was twice as large as today’s St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and was truly magnificent to behold, boasting Corinthian columns, white marble, and plates of gold. It was the nucleus of the nation, and became famous throughout the empire, and all Jerusalem lived in its shadow. Herod also constructed the city port of Caesaria, overlooking the Mediterranean. It had an artificial harbor and an amphitheater that held an audience of twenty thousand.

All his architectural projects were Hellenistic in design, which upset many Jews. They were also put out when he placed a golden eagle, the emblem of Roman rule, over the great gate of the temple. Many common Jews despised Herod. A real king needed to be a true Jew and a descendant of David, not someone smitten with Greek culture who had been installed by Romans. Herod was dictatorial and not particularly perturbed about the plight of poor Jewish peasants. It was only by controlling the country as a police state that he averted open rebellion.

Herod Archelaus, one of his surviving sons, took over as ruler of Galilee, a northern province of Palestine, when his father died in 4 BCE. (http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodians/he...laus.htm). He was such an inept ruler Caesar replaced him after ten years and his brother, Herod Antipas, became the ruler of the region (http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodians/he...pas.html). This was the man who had John the Baptist beheaded, and who allegedly interrogated Jesus before the crucifixion. Like his father, he was very ambitious. He too married a princess from a royal Jewish bloodline, and continued his father’s grandiose building projects, rebuilding the city of Sepphoris, which was to become the capital of Galilee, eight kilometers from the present day Nazareth. Constructed during Yeshua’s childhood, it’s possible Yeshua and his father and brothers worked there as laborers.

The Herods had to get money for these projects, and money was also needed to support the Roman bureaucracy and army. It came from taxes paid by the already struggling peasants, and was accrued by the infamous tax collectors. Tax was one percent of a man’s income per year, and there were export and import taxes, taxes levied on crops - one tenth of the grain crop and one fifth of that from wine, fruit, and oil. There were taxes payable on the transfer of property, emergency taxes, and others. So anything from twenty to forty percent of the produce of the peasant workforce went into paying tax. A Roman official called a “censor” was responsible for reaping in the revenue, but he often sold the right to collect it to the highest bidders, men who demanded more money than was due and kept the difference for themselves. They commonly took bribes from the rich, so it was the poor people who ended up paying most of the tax, arousing deep resentment.

The Romans had changed the economic status quo in Palestine. Many of the poorer people lost land when it was incorporated into large estates of the upper classes. It was obvious to the farmers and fishermen of Galilee that the richer people, many of whom lived in the largest cities, were exploiting them.

The proud Palestinian people were infuriated that Romans appointed the high priest, their chief religious figure (http://jewishroots.net/library/miscellan...ion.html). It meant the powerful elite families reinforced Roman rule. A modern analogy would be the Catholic world today having a Pope and his cardinals appointed by an Islamic government, or Cubans choosing an American president.

Galilean peasants started skirmishes in 4 BCE, possibly the year Yeshua was born. Josephus relates that Judas, son of Ezekias, gathered together a band of bandits who broke into the royal armory at Sepphoris, and stole weapons and money. Further south at Jericho, 30 kilometers from Jerusalem, another Jew named Simon led a pack who torched the royal palace. A shepherd named Athronges raised a rabble that roamed the countryside for a few months. Soon most of Galilee was in revolt. The Roman army responded with brutal force by marching into Galilee, burning towns and villages, and crucifying anyone resisting Roman rule. Three thousand Jews were massacred. There must have been much terror and many innocent people murdered.
(http://www.josephus.org/causesOfWar.htm). There’s no mention of this violence in the Gospels, yet Mary, Joseph and their families must have been involved, either as participants or observers.

Mary was a young girl vulnerable to rampaging troops. It’s possible Yeshua’s biological father was a Roman soldier. (http://jamestabor.com/2010/10/10/the-jes...ditions/).

Ten years later, in 6 CE, the Roman governor of Syria, Quirinius, undertook a census to work out who should be paying taxes to Rome. This sparked another revolt led by a Galilean, also named Judas, who many imagined was the messiah. Josephus tells the story:
“There was one Judas, a Galilean, of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Zadok, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt. Both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same. So men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height.” (Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.4-6.)

The Romans gathered three legions and four regiments of cavalry, and the movement was quickly and brutally suppressed. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...galilean). Judas’ army was routed and the Romans set fire to Sepphoris. This time two thousand Jews were slaughtered. A young Yeshua may have witnessed the battle from a distance. He might have seen the surviving members of Judas’s army crucified on crosses, and a long line of Jewish widows and their children marched off to slavery in Rome. Many Jews were convinced their God would come to their aid in battles, and Yeshua may have been dismayed and disappointed that this didn’t happen.

There’s no mention of this encounter in the Gospels either, as they were written in an era when Jewish nationalism was suppressed. Readers didn’t need to know about the violence and bad feeling of the times.

Despite this decisive defeat, the rebels didn’t discard their dreams, but went underground. Judas’ descendants and others continued to oppose Roman rule for generations afterwards. Josephus named them “Sicarii,” because their favorite weapon was the Roman dagger, or sica.

Most Palestinian Jews, and particularly the poor peasants of Galilee, must have felt degraded and oppressed by Romans, who had impoverished them, and killed or sold into slavery many of their relatives and friends. They had it hard from many directions; suffering under the burdens of landlessness, poverty, taxation and sometimes violent oppression. Some Galileans resented their fellow Jews who had partially assimilated into the Greco-Roman culture. There is a high probability that Yeshua was one of these disgruntled rustics.

From the Roman perspective, Palestine was an important province by virtue of its position. It was in “the middle of the crescent” of the Middle East, and shared its coastal water with Italy. It was the gateway to the East, a major stop on every trade route from as far away as China, India, Russia and the West. Galilee was considered a parochial backwater, a festering wound that had failed to become peaceful. Palestine wouldn’t have appealed as a port of call for the out posted Roman trooper. It was a hot, dusty desert filled with indignant natives.

Pontius Pilate, governor from 26 to 36 CE, was known as a “prefect” or “procurator,” and he came from the Roman equestrian class. He was subordinate to the legate (governor) of Syria at Damascus. He had about three thousand auxiliary soldiers at his disposal, mostly stationed at Caesarea, the provincial capital of Judea, located on the Mediterranean coast seventy-five miles northwest of Jerusalem. A detachment of soldiers was kept as a garrison in Jerusalem. Pilate would make the trip to Jerusalem only when necessary, such as on festive occasions like the Jewish Passover, when up to three thousand soldiers would be stationed there overlooking the temple grounds.

The Structure of Jewish Society
Jewish identity was sometimes determined by the religious sect to which one belonged.

The majority of the Jewish population was non-sectarian, but there were at least three major religious factions: Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes, plus some smaller outfits. First century Judaism was incredibly diverse, so it’s a mistake to slot all Jews neatly into one party or another, or to assume all affiliates of a group had exactly the same beliefs. Bearing that in mind, these groups give a good sense of the Jewish socio-political scene of the times.

Sadducees
The Sadducees were a clan of priests who were the leaders of the temple and the businesses associated with it. Rome appointed all the high priests in the New Testament from a restricted group of families who were allied to them. The “high priest” was a Sadducee at the top of the tree. One of the ways Rome micromanaged the country was by controlling him. One of their roles was to identify and deal with insurgents.
The Sadducees derived their income by taxing the common people. They were mentioned in all four of the Gospels, and in Acts, and are most notably known as the “chief priests” involved in the arrest of Jesus. They were wealthy, powerful, elite, and aristocratic, and regarded themselves as spiritually and socially superior to other Jews.
The Sadducees had a strict and rigid interpretation of Jewish Law (the Torah.) They didn’t believe in a resurrection of the dead, unlike the Pharisees and the much later Christians, because an afterlife is not alluded to in the Law as allegedly logged by Moses.
Traditionally the high priest had to be a descendent of Aaron, said to be the brother of Moses, and was highly regarded by Jews. However, in Jesus’ time, the high priest wasn’t from Aaron’s family, but a Roman appointee, so most common Jews regarded him as an illegitimate imposter and, what’s more, an enemy of the true Israel.
The Sadducees had a degree of control over the Sanhedrin, who were Jewish judges. This institution had been destroyed and then re-established under Herod the Great as a pro Roman religious council to oversee the affairs of faith and religious law. Their members came from many different groups.
Pharisees
The second important Jewish party was the Pharisees. They were a much larger (Josephus estimated about 6000) and heterogeneous group, composed of lay people rather than priests. They devoted most of their energy to defining and strengthening the Torah’s basic precepts. They preached Judaism as a universal faith, and some of them were missionaries.

The Pharisees were middle class people, popular with the general populace and more integrated within the community than the Sadducees. Their interpretation of the Law was more liberal, democratic, and accommodating. Parts of the Gospels portray them as rigid, but that wasn’t the case. Although well respected, they had little real direct political power. They too thought they belonged to an inner circle that totally understood religious issues. Some of them believed in heaven, a concept that Christianity adopted.

Many Pharisees held a strong hope in the coming of the messiah, a leader who would deliver them independence. Some scanned the scriptures to predict when he would appear. Yet they weren’t suffering like the peasant classes, so rather than start a fight with Rome by choosing him from their own ranks, they waited for him to show his face.

Hillel, who had many similar teachings to those attributed to Jesus, was a Pharisee, as was (probably) Saint Paul, (discussed in chapter 4) the mastermind behind Christian theology.

They were often mentioned in the New Testament. Matthew writes that Jesus acknowledged their authority but labeled them as hypocrites:
“The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practice what they preach” (Matt. 23:2–4, NJB.) Luke’s Gospel has Jesus on much more friendly terms with them.
The Essenes
The third important group was the Essenes. Historians know a fair bit about them, not only from Flavius Josephus, (http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/josep...senes.htm) who may himself have been an Essene, but also from Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, and from the (probably) Essene Qumran community who hid the Dead Sea Scrolls.
They were a heterogeneous group, but some generalizations can be made about them. They were well respected amongst most Jews. Josephus numbered them at about four thousand, and writes they had a strong affection for each other, and lived in groups scattered throughout Judea. They preferred to wear white and were particular about certain bathing rituals, including baptism. Most were celibate, which was quite unusual, as most Jews considered it as living an incomplete life. They rejected the pursuit of pleasure, preached poverty, humility, chastity, loving one’s neighbor, and penitence. They believed in a war between the forces of good and evil, and in the need for God’s grace. They strove to speak gently and quietly, to never swear, and were strong believers in justice and that all Jews were equal. They rejected the accumulation of wealth, and shared all their possessions. They claimed to love the truth and to never steal. Unlike the other Jewish sects, they spurned animal sacrifice. They thought of themselves as healers, to be able to cast out demons and restore the dead to life. They were said to foretell the future and to have little fear of death. They were convinced that after death their souls were destined for paradise, provided they had been righteous.

They deeply resented the Sadducees, so set up their own priesthood separate to the temple. They mistrusted most of the Pharisees, regarding them as corrupt or hypocritical.

Josephus leaves out one important fact about them; that many of them were intensely anti-Roman. We know this from the Dead Sea scrolls. Many authors have unknowingly misled modern readers by stating that Essenes were pacifists, which is true, yet once they’d decided God justified a war —a holy war—they would fight. Josephus was writing for a Roman audience, and was trying to present his countrymen in the best possible light, so this omission is understandable.

Yeshua the Essene
There is evidence Yeshua was an Essene, such as the following. (http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/018...sene.php). They had many beliefs in common with those credited to Jesus. Some of the sayings attributed to Jesus are also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (yet his existence is never mentioned in them.) Jesus and his disciples pooled their funds, which were administered by a treasurer, a feature of Essene communities. Many scholars believe John the Baptist, who could have been Yeshua’s cousin, was an Essene. John baptized Yeshua, so Yeshua clearly had the same beliefs as him. (http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/jlgi/jlgi05.htm).
The Gospel’s writers and editors didn’t mention the existence of the Essenes even once. If it was suggested or implied that Yeshua and the disciples were Essenes, it would have meant they were too fundamentally Jewish and too anti Roman for their readers. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...nes.html).

There was a particular group of Essenes known as Nazarenes. I believe John, Yeshua, his family, and his disciples were all Nazarenes. Obviously, then, they were an important group, and I will discuss them shortly.
Scribes
The scribes were mentioned often in the Gospels. They were bureaucrats, and most of them lived in Jerusalem, where they associated with the priests. They were expert in judicial procedures, helpful in the enforcement of Jewish law and custom, and even joined the governing class and served on the Sanhedrin. Because they depended on the wealthy for their training and their positions, they were loyal to the chief priests. There were also some lower-level scribes who served the villages, making contracts and documents and working as government officials.
Zealots
Zealots were practitioners of armed military resistance against the Romans. They were a militant political, rather than a religious movement, but their ideals were inspired by their religion.

Galilee was the heartland of zealotry. Judas of Galilee (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot, the disciple - who was also said to be a zealot) was an important zealot figure in 6 CE. This is part of what Josephus had to say about him.
“Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth branch of Jewish philosophy. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord.” (http://www.livius.org/men-mh/messiah/mes...s04.html). Josephus didn’t document what happened to Judas, but the author of Acts did;
“And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census, who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too and all of his followers dispersed” (Acts 5:38, NJB.) The author didn’t mention that Roman soldiers killed Judas, I think because he didn’t want readers drawing parallels with Jesus. We know from other historians that most of Judas’ followers weren’t dispersed; they were killed in battle or captured and crucified.

Zealotry was an attitude that inspired action. There wasn’t one particular group known as “zealots.” Josephus described them as a group of rebels and outsiders who were distinctly separate from all other Jews, because he wanted his Gentile readers to think that most Jews were peace-loving people who were pleased to be part of the empire. In reality, I think most Jews, particularly the poorer ones, had a degree of zealotry in their hearts, but many of them were too afraid to practice it.

Zealots had significant support from sympathizers. In 66 CE, perhaps thirty odd years after Yeshua’s death, several large groups of zealots played the leading roles in a major revolt against the Romans. The uprising occurred throughout most of Judea and included the capital, Jerusalem. The Romans responded by routing Galilee. They then laid siege to Jerusalem in 70 CE, destroyed the temple and massacred an estimated one million Jews. (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsou...olt.html). Josephus quite rightly held zealots responsible for starting the war. Interestingly, he may have originally been a Galilean zealot who defected to the Roman side. If so, he was a traitor. He spent the rest of his life living in Rome and writing pro-Roman history.
It was during this war that Essene zealots at Qumran hid the Dead Sea Scrolls from the invading Roman army.

There are interesting similarities between the ancient zealots and the popular image of today’s al-Quada; a strong belief that they’re being oppressed by foreigners; a firm adherence to religious beliefs; a reckless disregard for personal safety; a preference for violence over peaceful negotiation; and a disregard for human life. Both groups have been willing to kill their countrymen who don’t agree with them. I’m referring to different religions in different eras, but the same self-righteous fanaticism inspired by belief.
The Nazarenes
Yeshua was a Nazarene, as stated in the bible: Acts referred to
“Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 2:22, 3:6, 4:10, 6:14, 22:8, 26:9, NJB.) Most Christians assume the term “Nazarene” referred to the fact that Jesus came from the village of Nazareth. This was, after all, what Matthew claimed, (Matt. 2:23) but Nazareth the place was probably not the real origin of the term. On (almost) every occasion that Jesus was referred to as being “of Nazareth,” the real meaning is “the Nazarene” (http://www.essene.com/What is a Nazarene.htm.) As mentioned, Nazareth the village probably didn’t exist in Yeshua’s time. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEJHO8KIXY). Calling him Jesus “of Nazareth” was a ploy to distract from his sectarian affiliations. The bible made it clear the term “Nazarene” referred to a sect, when in the book of Acts, Paul is accused of being a Nazarene.
“The plain truth is that we find this man a perfect pest; he stirs up trouble among Jews the world over, and is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” (Acts 24:5, NJB.) An important religious sect would not have been named after an obscure Galilean village.
Hugh Schonfield, who devoted his life to studying Judaism and Yeshua, claims Nazarenism was an ancient version of Judaism. (http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A”Hugh J.Schonfield” AND subject%3A”Nazarenes”). He thought the original founder of the Nazarene sect may have been a Jewish-Arabian prophet named Essa in approximately 400 BCE. So, if he was right, they were already well established in Jesus’ time.

Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran. One might consider the Nazarene sect a strongly developed messianic form of “Essenism.” (http://www.essene.com/History&Essenes/TrimmNazars.htm).

John the Baptist, Yeshua’s family, disciples and followers were all Nazarenes. The “pillars” Paul refers to (James, Peter, and John) in his second letter to the Galatians, were the leaders and key figures of this group after Yeshua’s death. They too were Jews, not Christians. They practiced circumcision, believed in baptism, and were strict about the Sabbath. They were vegetarians who didn’t approve of the slaughter of animals, either for food or sacrifice. They developed their own “Halacha,” which was their interpretation of the Torah. They were true believers in the power and glory of Israel, saw themselves as God’s chosen people, and were vehemently opposed to the Romans. I think they were zealots, willing to take the Romans on, which was why the Roman world considered a Nazarene “a pest” who “stirs up trouble among Jews the world over.”

They considered the temple was the house of God, but were opposed to the Sadducees who they regarded as Roman collaborators. They had a broad base of support among Jews throughout Judea and much of the Roman Empire. Many ordinary Jews and Pharisees would have considered the Nazarenes brothers in the struggle against Rome.

Yeshua became their chief after John the Baptist’s death, and he remained in charge for (probably) a few years. Leadership was inherited from blood relations, which explains it passing from John the Baptist to Yeshua, and after Yeshua’s death, on to James, his brother.

James and the other Nazarenes didn’t think Yeshua was the son of God, or that he needed to die to save anyone from their sins (http://www.petahtikvah.com/Articles/nazarenes.htm). They believed he was a (human) prophet who they hoped could be Israel’s messiah.

We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly Gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes, or wrote them off as heretics, or tried to claim that some of them believed in the divinity of Christ. Perhaps the modern reader interested in Jesus would be best served by investigating their story.

Yeshua the Young Man
Apart from Luke’s brief mention of him as a twelve-year-old, (Luke 2:41–47) the Gospels failed to mention any notable facts about Jesus’ life until he was aged about thirty, a remarkable omission. Writing a comprehensive biography obviously wasn’t their priority, and they probably weren’t as familiar with his story as they would have liked their readers to think they were. It’s also possible they knew facts about him that they chose not to document.

Joseph, who was either Jesus’ father or stepfather, may have died early, as he disappeared from the Gospels without explanation. Mary may have married again, but if she didn’t, Jesus, the eldest sibling, would have become the leader of the household.
Yeshua’s family was said to be poor, so he would probably have had to toil to take care of them—perhaps as a farmer, or possibly as a laborer constructing the cities of Sepphoris or Tiberias. In about 19 CE, when Yeshua was a young man, the city of Tiberias on the banks of the Sea of Galilee was under construction, thirty kilometers from today’s Nazareth. He must have walked through its streets. Today it’s Northern Israel’s most popular holiday resort. That construction work would have kept him busy six days a week. The seventh day was the Sabbath, on which no Jew would do any work.

The young man breathed Galilean air that was thick with anti-Roman feeling. He would have heard stories about Jewish men killed by Roman soldiers, and how their families were abducted, and maybe even seen the fighting first hand. Every day he would have had to face the ugly reality of being poor, and would have blamed the pagans with their brutal army for the way things were. This wasn’t the glorious kingdom God had promised Israel in scripture.

Many larger cities in Galilee housed Gentiles, and Yeshua would have resented their presence, yet would probably have had little direct interaction with them.

The Jewish expectation for a political leader, (a Messiah or “savior”) had been introduced in parts of Isaiah, which was probably written during or just after the Babylonian captivity. It refers to the restoration of the nation of Israel. (http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm). In Yeshua’s day there was a widespread hope among Jews that a Messiah would lead the people in a revolt to establish the “kingdom of God,” in which Jews would be in charge and the world’s wealth would be distributed evenly, not condensed in Roman hands and aristocratic families. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mes...laimants). Josephus, writing in the late first century, explains why Jews were so inspired by these patriotic dreams:
“That which chiefly excited them to war was an ambiguous prophecy, which was also found in the sacred books, that at that time someone, within their country should arise, that should obtain the empire of the whole world. For this they had spoken of one of their nation; and many wise men were deceived with the interpretation” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews.)

Two secular Roman historians say something similar:
“There had spread all over the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated for men coming from Judea to rule the world.” (Seutonius, Life of Vespasian, 4.5.)
“The majority [of the Jews] were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judea would go forth men destined to rule the world.” (Tacitus, Histories 5.13.)

Throughout the first century revolutionary groups of zealots led by hopeful messianic leaders commonly formed, promised apocalyptic deliverance, but achieved nothing lasting. The Qumran community, who compiled the Dead Sea Scrolls, was one such group. They had a pathological hatred for the Romans (whom they called the “Kittim.”) They also despised the Sadducees, who they regarded as Rome’s lackeys. After years of Roman domination, the Qumran community dreamed of a bloody revenge. A part of the Scrolls describes a fantasy of a battle in which the Kittim were crushed:
“This shall be a time of salvation for people of God, and age of dominion for all the members of His company, and of everlasting destruction for the company of Satan… The dominion of the Kittim shall come to an end and iniquity shall be vanquished, leaving no remnant for the sons of darkness, there shall be no escape. The sons of righteousness shall shine over all the ends of earth; they shall go on shining until all the seasons of darkness are consumed and, at the season appointed by God, His exalted greatness shall shine eternally to the peace, blessing, glory, and long life of all the sons of light” (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/scroll...h/07.htm). The leader of the army who led them in this fantasized battle is unequivocally called the “messiah.” They were obviously fanatical and, as things turned out, rather deluded, as neither God nor a successful messiah ever made an appearance.

The poorer classes must have pondered over this political pipe dream. It’s not hard to imagine that any charismatic Jew brave enough to claim he was the messiah could soon collect a gang of Galilean paupers to back him up, particularly if he was said to be David’s descendant. A young Yeshua must have wondered who this messiah was going to be.

As most Essenes were celibate, Yeshua may not have had a family of his own. Nor would he have been bothered with accumulating wealth. He was a man with an altogether different agenda.

Most young men are irked by any imposition on their freedom. If they are poor and have little hope for a positive future, their frustration escalates. In most cultures, identity and self-respect are aligned with religious and ethnic affiliation. Bad feelings against foreigners boil over if these features of identity are compromised. Picture young Arabs in the Gaza strip for the modern equivalent.

Yeshua was young, poor, oppressed, and almost certainly a religious idealist. I suspect he made a career out of preaching about his political aspirations for Israel.

Yeshua the Zealot
If something swims in the sea, in a school of fish, looks like a fish, and gets caught on a hook, that something is a fish. Yeshua was part of the underdog class, and lived in a time and in a place that was a hotbed of political unrest. He had the right pedigree to be a zealot; he talked, lived, and associated with zealots, and he was killed as a zealot, (discussed shortly) so the rational observer would be correct in regarding him as a zealot. A man in this context could have fashioned himself as the head of a gang of Galilean militants, a gang unified by their shared resentment of the fact that Romans were rulers in God’s holy land. The men wanted to free their people from foreign command and create an illustrious Israel. Much of the evidence for this is in the bible.

Matthew claims that Herod the Great was perturbed that the baby Jesus might one day be king, so had a lot of Jewish baby boys killed, but there’s no historical secular evidence for this. The author wanted the reader to think Herod considered Jesus a threat because the author was priming people with the idea that Jesus was destined to be their messiah, the king of Israel.

Simon (Yeshua’s brother) is twice named as a zealot (Luke 6:15, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...rsion=NIV, Acts 1:13, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts 1&version=NIV). Judas Iscariot may have been a zealot because the name “Iscariot” is cognate with the Latin “Sicarius,” a dagger-wielding zealot assassin. Simon Peter was known as “Bar-jona,” (Mt. 16:17) a name commonly given to zealots. James, another of Yeshua’s brothers, and John, one of his disciples, shared the nickname “Boanerges” or in Hebrew “benei ra’ash,” which meant “sons of thunder,” another well-known zealot reference. (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/j...ial.html). It’s unlikely the Gospel authors invented these pro Jewish names, so they’re probably genuine. This gives further weight to the argument that Jesus was a zealot.

Young men two thousand years ago were just as brave, worldly and idealistic as they are today. Yeshua’s disciples wouldn’t have given up their jobs and families to tramp around the countryside to listen to platitudes. Life was too harsh and the times too cutthroat for that. I think they wanted to create a better life for themselves and their families. They’d been raised in a culture that glorified the one and only god they’d ever known, Yahweh, who they thought was on their side, and who they imagined was offended by the presence of Gentiles in his holy land.

Consider Jesus’ attitude to violence:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34, NJB.) Some Christians go to great lengths discussing what Jesus “really meant” when he said this, yet perhaps the quote is best taken at face value.

Consider Jesus’ attitude to the rich:
“Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:24, NJB.) In Jesus’ day most of the wealthy were in collusion with the Romans.

Consider what Luke has a follower of Jesus say shortly after the crucifixion:
“Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free” (Luke 24:21, NJB.) To set Israel free could only mean one thing in first century Judea - to remove Roman rule.

The portrayl of Yeshua as a zealot by the authors of the bible itself can be read directly and between the lines in the bible. More evidence for this idea follows.

Brothers in Arms…John and Yeshua

According to James Tabor, in his book The Jesus Dynasty, John the Baptist started a messianic movement, well before Yeshua arrived on the scene. John was probably a charismatic Essenian teacher, a man who created excitement. The people considered him a prophet; someone qualified to tell them what God expected. He had the credentials to be a legitimate priest, as he was said to be a descendant of Aaron (see Luke 1;5.) He obviously refused to respect the temple hierarchy in Jerusalem, as he never associated with them. Instead, he went into the wilderness to proclaim to the people that the coming of the messiah was close at hand, which meant only one thing to poor Jews: a war was on the horizon. John baptized believers and told his brethren to repent and get ready for the beginning of a new world order in which they wouldn’t be poor and oppressed. His message may have been well received, as the bible boasts he attracted big audiences. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpWNL1vyQz0).
The site on the River Jordan where John baptized people is only three miles from Qumran, the home of a large Essene community that hid the Dead Sea Scrolls a few decades later. No one knows if John the Baptist was associated with them, but it’s probable.

The Gospels claim that John and Jesus held each other in high regard, and that they were cousins. John, in his own time, was a better-known figure than Yeshua, as he’d already preached for a number of years, and had a contingent of followers before Yeshua. The Gospel writers couldn’t imply that Yeshua played a subordinate role, so each strove to make Jesus seem more senior than John. Yet they couldn’t conceal the fact that John baptized the novitiate. In reality John was the more established and authoritative instructor, and Yeshua was his protégé.

Yeshua’s stature grew as time went by. The two of them might have planned that once they had established political power in Palestine, John, the heir of Aaron, was to be the new high priest and Yeshua, the descendent of David, the new king of Israel.

It seems likely they parted ways to double the capacity of their campaign, which probably involved telling carefully selected, disgruntled groups of Jews about their plan to wage a war. The two young men probably used religion to excite and galvanize large numbers of poor patriotic Jews. Baptizing people with water was a symbolic re-enactment of the ancient Jews’ (fictitious) crossing of the Red Sea to freedom. The two friends may have been offering Jews a new freedom, a freedom from Rome.
James Tabor states that by the end of 27 CE, the messianic movement started by John recognized two types of Jews in Palestine, those who’d responded by being baptized, and those who hadn’t. The dichotomy was between baptised militant and non-baptised non-militant Jews. If this was so, this was no small-scale backyard scheme; it was a serious shift in the peasant population towards militancy.

Herod Antipas, the Romans’ puppet king, must have been watching John like a hawk. Any Galilean prophet preaching to the public was presumed to be a zealot. He had John arrested and killed. This is how Josephus described John’s murder:
“…what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness toward one another, and piety toward God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now, when many others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly, he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.” (Antiquities 18.5.2 116-119.) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus).

Herod was wary of a coup commanded by John, so had him killed. The Gospel authors deliberately didn’t detail the real reasons for John’s threat to Herod, because those reasons didn’t fit with their invented story of John and Jesus as pacifist evangelists. As a side issue, Josephus also points out that John had criticized Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, which wouldn’t have endeared him to Herod.

John’s death in early 28 CE must have been a serious setback for the struggle against the Romans.

Yeshua Takes over the Leadership
At age thirty, Essene men traditionally took on a leadership role. All eyes would have turned to Yeshua, the consummate candidate. He stepped up to the mark and took over as leader. He may have inherited four of John’s disciples, namely Simon Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael, (John 1:35–42) and they became part of an inner council of twelve.

Yeshua had to prove he was a charismatic and capable leader or risk the momentum of the movement fizzling out. He knew that the prophets had predicted a messiah. Jeremiah wrote:
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness” (Jer. 23:5–6, KJV) and there were similar predictions in Isaiah 9:7, Micah 5:4, and Amos 9:11. It can be surmised he thought God had made it clear in scripture what was expected of him.

Today’s politicians tour their electorate before an election to meet the people, increase their profile, sell their message, and gauge support. It’s probable Yeshua toured the countryside too, for the same reasons. Its more than conceivable his message was that he wanted to start a war, in Jerusalem, ideally around Passover time, when large groups of patriots who knew of the plan were gathered together.

Yeshua, the social revolutionary, may have declared something like
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent
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02-12-2016, 03:01 PM (This post was last modified: 02-12-2016 04:02 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Jesus was a terrorist!
Yeshua, the social revolutionary, may have declared something like
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19, KJV) and
“Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh” (Luke 6:20–21, KJV) and,
“But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6:24–25, KJV.) The meaning is clear; he thought the kingdom of God was about to be established, a glorious Israel was just around the corner, and Roman rule was about to end.

Yeshua may have said,
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12, KJV.) These aren’t the words of a pacifist preacher, but a bellicose insurgent.

These rally calls weren’t what everyone wanted to hear. Some of his fellow Jews
“rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way” (Luke 4:29–30, KJV.) Why such an angry reaction? Yeshua called for the overthrow of the social structure, and that didn’t suit everyone. There were some powerful people making more than a good living just the way things were. Some of the people would have been petrified at the prospect of a war with Rome.

Dreaming about his mission as messiah might have inspired Yeshua, yet he would have been wary. He knew there had been many hopeful heroes before him who had failed, and most of them had been killed. He knew there was a new Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, in Jerusalem, who was brutal towards anyone challenging Roman rule. He must have been well aware that a gruesome death could be his ultimate fate too.

He probably knew Herod Antipas was after him, as suggested in the bible. Luke wrote,
“Just at this time some Pharisees came up. Go away they said, leave this place, because Herod means to kill you” (Luke 13:31, NJB.) If Jesus had been a harmless religious enthusiast roaming the countryside preaching to the people about God and life, Herod would have had no reason to seek him out. Some Pharisees obviously admired Yeshua and hoped to save him from a Roman crucifixion. He heeded the warning by crossing the Sea of Galilee to put himself beyond Herod’s reach. (see Matthew 14:13.)

The Synoptic Gospels named Jesus’ twelve disciples. There are some discrepancies between them, but his three brothers (James, Jude, and Simon) are deliberately mentioned last in all three, along with Judas the traitor, so as to minimize their importance. Yet, considering the importance of family in ancient Israel, it’s far more likely his three brothers were, in fact, his dearest disciples.

Yeshua may have drilled his disciples with the direction to
“Go nowhere among the gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5–6, NJB.) He wasn’t about to give his plans away to enemy agents.

Some of the people
“believed in him...when he spoke many more came to believe” (John 4:39–41, NJB.) The Gospel authors usually hid from their readers what “believing in him” really meant, but not always:
“Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what he did believed in him but some of them went to tell the Pharisees what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting. Here is this man working all these signs they said and what action are we taking? If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him and the Romans will come and destroy our Holy place and our nation” (John 11:45–49, NJB.) This is precisely what happened thirty-five odd years later, in 70 CE, when the Romans pillaged the countryside, laid siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, a fact well known to the author of John. Here it is in black and white: the bible was clearly implying that Jesus was plotting to start a war with Rome, a war that the chief priests and Pharisees thought they would lose!

Jesus’ message wasn’t well received in some towns:
“Then he began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent. ‘Alas for you Chorazin! Alas for you Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sack cloth and ashes. And still I tell you it will not go as hard on Judgment day on Tyre and Sidon as with you. And as for you Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven? You shall be thrown down into hell. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, you would have been standing yet. And still I tell you that it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom on Judgment day as with you” (Matt. 11:20–24, NJB.) Jesus is said to have spent a lot of time in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, three places located on or near the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and populated almost exclusively by Jews. These towns were, in a nationalistic and geographical sense, part of his home turf. Why wouldn’t the inhabitants support him? A probable explanation is that the locals were terrified of the consequences of another revolt. Jesus discovered he couldn’t count on their assistance, so he cursed them and moved on.

Jesus spent at least a year, and maybe three, tramping around the countryside trying to elicit promises of military help. The Gospels allege he was a harmless rabbi preaching ethics and theology, attracting large audiences hoping for a miracle. The weight of evidence is that his agenda was a lot harsher, more desperate and dangerous than that. Convincing peasants to pick up arms against professional troops was no easy task. Trying to sell himself as the messiah would have been a tricky business. The fact he was attracting a weighty following would have raised Roman suspicion, so he had to be very careful not to be arrested. Any unfamiliar face he encountered may have been a spy. His supporters must have had to regularly scan the horizon for danger. He had a public image as a courageous and capable leader to promote, which would have been tiresome. The sun must have baked his skin, and the hot sand stung his eyes. Water was sparse, so he would have been caked in sweat and grime. At night he would often have had to sleep out in the open. It must have been a struggle to find shelter and food. In those times by age 30 people’s teeth were infected and falling out. Wounds healed slowly and parasites caused diarrhea. Yeshua may have been malnourished. A less determined man may have found the going too tough to continue working the way he did. After at least a year or more on the road, continuously having to be wary of pro Roman enemies, there is a high probability he was physically and mentally drained.

Yeshua Enters Jerusalem
Toward what was to be the end of his campaign, he focused on Jerusalem. It was the political, economic and spiritual center of the Jewish nation, and boasted a large Jewish population that swelled exponentially around Passover. If he was going to begin an insurrection, it had to start there.

According to the Gospel of John, he preached by day at the temple and retreated to a safe house at nearby Bethany before nightfall. He was anointed with oil. The word “messiah” means an anointed one, as does the name “Christ.” So the name Jesus Christ is referring to Jesus, the anointed one. In the Old Testament, to anoint someone was a one-time event that specifically selected the person as a king or a high priest (or maybe a prophet.) It seems very likely he wanted to be a king. By being anointed by his followers, Yeshua accepted a new status. He was publically accepting his post as the messiah, the king of the Jews.

Passover was an annual commemoration of Jewish freedom at which the city accommodated 300-400,000 pilgrims. Roman authorities were on their guard against civil disobedience. Pilate, the Roman governor, always attended to keep an eye on things. Roman soldiers were outnumbered by something like one hundred to one. The event was a tinderbox that could catch alight given the right spark, and everyone knew it.

When he allegedly rode a donkey into the excited atmosphere in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, throngs of jubilant Jews greeted him, so everyone knew someone special had arrived. He effectively broadcasted his intentions to the crowd, many of who had earlier been primed with his plan. Pious pilgrims were expected to walk into the Holy City, so he was deliberately doing his best to stand out from the rabble by riding. The son of David had surfaced and was staking his claim! He may have been trying to fulfill a prophesy from Zechariah, who wrote,
“Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout with gladness daughter of Jerusalem! See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey,” (Zech. 9:9, NJB) assuming, of course, a Gospel author didn’t retrofit the donkey part of the plot into the story.

Yeshua must have known that to play the part of a king was an act of treason against Caesar, and punishable by death, yet he did it right under the noses of the Sadducees and the Romans. It was a move made by a brave man. It could have been a calculated lampoon of the entrance one would expect from a Roman emperor. Was Yeshua taking a gamble, guessing he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, be arrested because he was so popular with the people?

I suspect he was hoping to enlist the support of the Jewish revelers in Jerusalem, and with their help overpower the Roman garrison and thereby launch a full-scale rebellion against Rome. This was quite an ambitious agenda, and he would have been well aware of the risks, yet encouraged by the hope that his God was going to help him.
Matthew claimed the crowds in Jerusalem hailed him as a hero:
“Great crowds of people spread their cloaks on the road, while others were cutting branches from trees spreading them in his path. The crowds who went in front of him and who followed were all shouting: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heavens! And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was in turmoil. Who is this people asked, and the crowds answered, this is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matt. 21:8–12, NJB.) “Hosanna” was a Jewish exclamation welcoming someone who “saves.” It was a cry of independence. The spectators were saluting the son of David, a legitimate Jewish king.

Luke wrote,
“Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Master, check your disciples,’ but he answered, ‘I tell you, if these keep silence the stones will cry out’” (Luke 19:39–40 JB.) It sounds like Yeshua put on a persuasive performance. He proved himself plucky and purposeful, just like a real ruler. The crowds bought it, and were excited. The whole city was in turmoil. This was a high point in his career and he would have been flushed with excitement. Everything was going to plan. He now had to be careful he wasn’t arrested before he’d rallied Jewish fighters under his wing.

The next day he went to the temple. This was where fees were to be paid to the priests, and to the moneychangers who exchanged Roman coinage and Jewish currency. It was also where money was collected to pay for the places that offered ritual bathing, for the actual animals, and for the priests to kill the animals. There was rent to be collected from the hoards of visitors who had to stay over-night, and fees for feeding them. The priests had engineered things so that the temple was where all this happened. Yeshua was clearly compromising all this by turning the tables over, causing a ruckus in a city centered on the temple-based economy. He must have had a crowd of Jewish supporters to cheer him on and protect him, so to arrest him on the spot would have been difficult. To start a scene in the temple and test the authority of the Sadducees was making another affirmation that he’d arrived. It showed he was willing to be aggressive to achieve his aims.

That night he returned to a safe house at Bethany, yet Luke’s account makes it clear that Jewish authorities had him under surveillance.

The next day he again provoked the temple hierarchy by debating them in public. Matthew had Jesus state that what belonged to Caesar should be returned to Caesar, (Matt. 22:21) in other words that Jews should pay taxes to Rome. I think this was written in to derail readers from reaching the conspicuous conclusion that Jesus was a zealot. It makes no sense to imagine that a man who turned over tables in the temple would pay tax to Caesar.

The atmosphere in Jerusalem must have been tense. Something definitive was bound to happen soon; one of the sides was going to pick up their weapons. Consider the principal players in the evolving events.

On one side was Yeshua, who was convinced he was a king and the messiah of Israel. He’d been emboldened and protected by a show of support from a pepped up Jewish populace. He was now under pressure to play his hand. At this critical time, tactics were everything. He knew there had to be a fight, but how and when to start it? He may have been waiting for divine help from Yahweh, whom he knew had helped previous prophets win wars, because that was what was written in scripture.
On the other side were the Roman army and the chief priest, the Sanhedrin and their associates. Pontius Pilate, who contemporary historians described as dictatorial and violent, supervised the soldiers who were nervous, organized, trained, and in fine fettle. Jewish leaders knew Yeshua was hoping to start a revolt. They were powerful men supported by Rome and the last thing they wanted was a zealot stirring up the people. A Jewish insurrection would threaten their positions and even their lives, because the Roman garrison couldn’t protect them from thousands of hotheaded Jews. They had to act quickly and decisively to prevent Yeshua gaining the upper hand. A conflict was inevitable. The stage was set for a showdown between Rome and what Yeshua believed was the true Israel.

Matthew made it clear Jesus was trying to rally the people:
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and made plans to arrest Jesus by some trick and have him put to death. They said ‘however it must not be during the festivities, there must be no disturbance among the people” (Matt. 26:3–6, NJB.) Luke wrote something similar:
“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.” (Luke 22:1-2, KJV) This was followed by
“And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet” (Luke 21:45–46, NJB.) The chief priests knew Yeshua was plotting against them, and that the crowds could turn ugly.
Yeshua was hoping for a large-scale battle, yet knew his immediate entourage of admirers would be easily outnumbered by Roman troops. He understood he inspired the rank and file, but could he count on them to confront professional soldiers in combat? To engage a few thousand Roman infantry in hand to hand hostility was an ominous prospect. The people weren’t soldiers. Many of them had families, a fact that didn’t deter his drive, as he had earlier pressured people to abandon their families and follow him. (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew 10:34-36&version=KJV). The people weren’t well armed. Luke had Jesus say to his disciples,
“If you have no sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36, NJB.) He was getting his fellow Jews geared up for the great fight. He was playing the part of the messiah, and knew nothing about “blessed are the peacemakers” and “turn the other cheek.” When push came to shove, the gallant young man from Galilee was getting ready to fight for God and glory!

One night Yeshua retreated out of Jerusalem to the garden of Gethsemane, on the north east edge of Jerusalem, about 100 yards outside the city wall. The formation of an assembly at night was against Roman law. It’s claimed he directed his disciples to keep watch. He knew if his enemies got to him without the peoples’ protection all would be lost. Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what happened.

Yeshua’s Arrest
Yeshua and his entourage were outmaneuvered. The Romans swooped on them in the garden of Gethsemane while Jewish residents slept. John claimed a cohort of soldiers was consigned to collar him:
“Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons” (John 18:3 JB.) Someone had betrayed him to the Romans. A cohort was six hundred Roman soldiers, one tenth of a legion. Pilate wouldn’t have sent this many men to arrest an agreeable, unarmed, peace-loving preacher who thought he was God. Yeshua was a big fish with an entourage of admirers, swimming in a city packed with potential patrons, so he needed to be decisively dealt with before things got out of hand.
Some of his disciples were with him at the time of his arrest. One or more of them was supposed to be on watch. It must have been intimidating to have that many soldiers tramping toward you in the dead of night, torchlight reflecting off their swords and armor, shining up a silhouette of trees in the distance. It was probably no contest. The Gospels make out Jesus was surprised force was used to capture him;
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?” (Mark 14;48, KJV) which doesn’t ring true, particularly when we read in John that
“Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.” (John 18;10, KJV.)
Most of his mates dashed off into the dark, leaving him to his fate. They’d been taken by surprise, outplayed by more experienced, professional opponents. Jesus was trumped before he’d made his master move. He was taken into custody, so was unable to issue instructions. His allies had let him down, and he must have known what was in store. Luke claimed he was sweating blood (Luke 22; 44.) Luke was trying to tell how terrified Jesus was about his impending crucifixion.

Much is made in the Gospels about Peter’s remorse for disowning Jesus. There were others in the troop too terrified to put their lives on the line, and they must have felt just as guilty. The fact Peter had to lie about his identity suggests the soldiers were chasing anyone who was part of the gang of insurrectionists.

Yeshua would have felt abandoned not only by his friends but also by his god. His work and dreams had come to nothing, and I imagine he probably played the last card of a wretched man by begging his god for a miracle.

The Trial
Matthew claims Jesus was arrested because he claimed he was divine, but Yeshua didn’t fantasize he was God. Jews believed in only one god, Yahweh. Yeshua wouldn’t have had any helpers if he’d made such a blasphemous claim. Nor could the Romans have cared less about a peasant’s delusions of grandeur. They never got involved in Jewish religious disputes unless they turned into a security issue. The high priest, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, Pilate, and his army all knew Yeshua had hoped to start a rebellion against Rome.

All the Gospel authors made out he was given a trial. He was taken before Pilate and the accusation made:
“We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a King.” (Luke 23:2 NKJ.) Pilate asked Jesus if he was king of the Jews and Jesus answered,
“It is as you say it” (Luke 23:3 NKJ.) This perfectly described the crux of the issue: Jesus was accused of undermining the government and the taxation system. He effectively signed his own death warrant. Genuine Jewish kings didn’t pay Roman tax, so this contradicted Jesus’ earlier injunction to render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar (see Matthew 22:21.) (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/j...ial.html).

Luke was the only Gospel author who claimed Jesus refused to talk to Herod. Yeshua would have hated Herod, the man who had his cousin beheaded. Herod found Jesus not guilty, which makes no sense, as Luke had earlier claimed Herod wanted Jesus killed. (Luke 13:31.)

Mark claimed,
“the chief priests however had incited the crowd” (Mark 15:11, NJB.) This poorly explained excuse was the only reason given in any of the Gospels for “the crowd” turning against Jesus. This crowd supposedly shouted that they’d rather have a common criminal, Barabbas, freed instead of Jesus. No such custom of releasing the crowd’s favorite was ever recorded in any non-biblical document. Mark implied this crowd was made up from Jerusalem’s people, who he earlier described as the “multitudes” who had welcomed their king as a hero in a ticker tape parade as Jesus rode into the city. This crowd thought Jesus was a prophet and laid clothes and branches at his feet. The chief priests feared they’d create “an uproar” if Jesus was arrested. Can anyone believe Jerusalem’s people had such a complete change of mind about their hero?

Romans were made to look as if they were really sympathetic towards Jesus. Pilate, the Roman governor, allegedly read a letter from his wife about a dream she had that Jesus was innocent. He supposedly said,
“I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4 KJV.) He’s depicted as trying to talk the angry Jews out of having Jesus crucified, but gave in to the public clamor, because
“in fact a riot was imminent” (Matt. 27:24 KJV.) So the crowd that was going to riot if Jesus was arrested (see Matt. 26:3–6) was now about to riot if he wasn’t crucified, a scenario that makes no sense. It’s obvious that Jesus’ Jewish compatriots wouldn’t have wanted him crucified, and this passage is a pro Roman fabrication.
Pilate, Rome’s representative, allegedly washed his hands of any responsibility for the decision to kill Jesus. This didn’t happen; it was theatrical propaganda, not real history. To pronounce a man innocent, then command your troops to kill him anyway, is preposterous and unhistorical. Pilate’s job was to keep the peace and make sure Jews paid tax. Jesus was a dangerous subversive threatening a rebellion, so Pilate couldn’t have found him innocent. There was probably no public trial. To have one at that time of year would be just asking for trouble.

Pilate was the Roman prefect of Judaea from AD 26–36. He’s described by contemporary secular historians as being notorious for his cruelty toward the Jews. Philo, an Alexandrian Jew, writing in 41 CE, stated that Pilate’s tenure in power was notable for its
“briberies, insults, robberies, outrages, wanton injustices, constantly repeated executions without trial, and ceaseless and grievous cruelty” (Legatio ad Gaium, 301–302.) Josephus too reported several instances of Pilate flagrantly inciting an insurrection, only to ruthlessly suppress it with his soldiers.

In 36 CE, Vitellius, the Roman Syrian governor, removed Pilate from his office after a violent attack on the Samaritans (Josephus, Antiquities 18.4.85.) He was ordered to Rome to face complaints of excessive cruelty against the Jews, found culpable, and exiled to Vienne, France. His true colors come across in secular history, not in the Gospels. The real Pilate clearly wasn’t a character wracked with ambivalence about whether to crucify Yeshua.

The Gospel authors couldn’t have Romans responsible for killing the son of God, because the Catholic Church became the Church of Rome. The solution was simple; they made the Romans look like unwilling participants in the proceedings, and then they accused the anonymous Jewish rabble of wanting Jesus dead. One of the authors of Matthew had Jews say,
“His blood be on us and our children” (Matt. 27:24–25, NJB.) Jews publically cursed themselves for being Christ-killers, which is highly improbable. The Jewish passersby allegedly mocked Jesus:
“The passersby jeered at him; they shook their heads and said ‘if you are God’s son, come down from the cross!’” (Matt. 27:39–40, NJB.) The Jewish crowd wouldn’t have been that callous to one of their own. They would have been appalled that Jesus was dying such a despicable death.

What’s more, if his fellow Jews had wanted to kill Jesus, he would have been stoned to death, which could only have happened if the Romans gave them permission.

Crucifixion was an agonizing, demeaning, public death, one reserved for insurgents. It was used by Romans to intimidate anyone who might undermine their authority. The Roman soldiers nailed zealots up naked on a cross; it was part of the humiliation. The degrading death was designed to discourage other charismatic leaders from having their own dangerous dreams.

The sign or “titulus” (Latin for “inscription” or “label”) was the Roman way of exhibiting the explanation for the execution. It was written by Pilate, and read “King of the Jews,” a reflection of Jesus’ real crime.

Luke had a dying Jesus say
“Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34, NJB) referring to the Roman soldiers who had just scourged, mocked and nailed him naked to a cross. It’s hard to imagine he ever said this. He’s more likely to have damned these soldiers with his dying breaths!

A Roman centurion supposedly said,
“In truth this was the Son of God” (Matt. 27:54, NJB.) Yet Christianity, which claimed Jesus was the son of God, had yet to be invented!

The two men Yeshua was crucified with were labeled as “lestai,” incorrectly translated in some bibles as “robbers.” In fact “lestai” was a derogatory term for insurrectionists, who, by armed action, opposed Roman rule (http://www.drabruzzi.com/jesus_movement.htm, http://haqol.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/th...i-rebel/). So Jesus was crucified by the Romans between two zealots, we’re told he thought he was king of the Jews, and the reader is expected to believe he wasn’t a zealot!

Roman law allowed no burial rights to those killed by crucifixion. Yeshua’s emaciated body would have been left on display for the birds and dogs as a deterrent to others who might disobey Rome, although it’s possible Pilate made an exception and gave permission for the body to be buried.

Jesus’ death was a deeply disheartening development for the Jews. The social and political muscle the movement may have mounted in Jerusalem had come to nothing, and their commander had been crucified. The kingdom of God must have seemed like an unattainable dream. Yet all was not lost. Yeshua was only one man. The Nazarenes could bounce back, just as they had after John’s demise. Someone charismatic needed to take control. That person was James, Yeshua’s brother.

I’m not going to discuss Jesus’ resurrection here, (but will in chapter 15) because there is strong evidence it’s a fable, not an historical event.

Summary of Yeshua’s Life
Yeshua probably did exist, yet was someone quite different from the Jesus character in the Gospels.

Rather than passively accepting the conventional Christian account, we are best served by paying Yeshua more respect by acknowledging his humanity, family, society, and religion. It makes sense to circumvent Christian mythology by placing him in the religious context of first-century Judaism, the political context of Roman occupation and violent oppression, and the social context of poverty.

He was the first-born child of a young Jewish girl, and his biological father, identity unknown, may not have been in the picture to offer him direction. He was probably part of a large family of peasants.

He would have been proudly Jewish, and familiar with Jewish scripture. Like many Jews of his time, he must have had some grandiose delusions, such as that Jews were the world’s superior people, specially favored by God and destined to show pagans the proper way to live. He may have imagined he was the messiah, a person depicted in scripture whose mission was to establish the kingdom of God, an ideal Jewish state, in which everyone worshipped Yahweh. It’s possible he was convinced his God would intervene in the affairs of men to help initiate this. There is no historical evidence any of these beliefs and hopes ever came to fruition.

As he grew up, he would have seen his fellow Galileans oppressed and impoverished by the Romans. His cousin John created a grassroots anti-Roman movement, which he joined. Herod Antipas, Rome’s puppet ruler, thought John was a threat, so had him murdered. Yeshua was brave enough to take over the rebels’ leadership, and worked hard to rally common Jews to his cause, which was nothing less than to expel the Romans and their collaborators from Israel. He wasn’t the first, or the last Jew to harbor such dreams, and it was a very risky business. His less militant countrymen eschewed joining his ranks.

His goal to overthrow the Romans must have seemed possible because of the enthusiasm with which he was sometimes received, yet (as best we know) he had no military experience or intelligence. So it’s no surprise that he fell flat. Yeshua had talked the talk but failed to deliver. The Romans captured, scourged, and crucified him, a punishment reserved for any rebellious insurgent who threatened Roman rule.
Yeshua promised a lot but didn’t achieve much. As he was dying in agony on a cross, he would have wondered why his God hadn’t helped him, and he must have figured he was a failure. Memories of other Jews crucified by the Romans may have flashed through his mind. His goal had been to liberate Israel, yet he only added his name to a long list of dead messiahs. Before he took his last breath, he may have wondered whether the Romans would ever be defeated.

It’s ironic that the Romans, the very people Yeshua despised, adopted him as their hero some three centuries after they killed him, and then blamed his own people, the Jews, for his death. The accusation that it was the Jewish people (as a whole) who demanded Jesus’ death is one of the most disgraceful deceptions in the bible, and it’s been the primary source of anti-Semitism throughout history ever since. That’s been devastating for the Jewish people, because churches have harassed the Jews as Christ-killers, with terrible consequences. Adolf Hitler, who was a Catholic, wrote
“I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Almighty Creator. By fighting the Jews, I am doing the Lord’s work.”(Mein Kampf p. 65.)

I feel some respect for Jesus the Jew because he had a tough life, yet he stood up for what he believed in. He tried hard to make a difference for his compatriots. It’s ironic that in places the Gospels portray him as a pacifist, when he was, in fact, a freedom fighter. They claim he praised the meek, yet he was a proud man who refused to accept poverty and oppression.

It’s fascinating that there are such obvious clues about Jesus the political insurgent scattered throughout the Gospels. I don’t know why they weren’t edited out.
There have been thousands of books written about Jesus in the last hundred years, so this assessment of his life is one of many. It fits well, I believe, with what we do know about the place and time in which he’s said to have lived. I admit I have cherry picked what Jesus may have said, and that my assessment doesn’t lie well with everything the Gospels claim he said. For example John’s Gospel has Jesus saying
“… My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36 KJB.) Is not the hand of a pro-Roman author trying to disguise a militaristic Jesus obvious here? Matthew has Jesus say
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Mattthew 5:9 KJB.) Can we realistically imagine this from a man crucified as a zealot?

As a consequence of passages like these, “Jesus” is inconsistent. The historian needs to examine the important details of ancient biographies such as the Gospels, put them in context, and consider the author’s credibility and intent. Only then can we have an educated guess as to what may be fact or fiction. I think I’ve done that. I’ll have more to say about the Gospels throughout this book that helps justify this approach.

Yeshua’s political ambitions, or lack thereof, is a topic strongly debated. Some think he was a Pharisee (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFt7NqhoxE4). Some deny he was an Essene, others say he was a pacifist Essene. Some claim Yeshua was an apocalyptic messiah on a suicide mission. I haven’t discussed these possibilities, as I think they’re less likely. If we consider the bare facts of his life; that he was a poor Galilean peasant who led a band of Jewish men around Galilee, that he was hailed as a king, and then arrested and crucified in Jerusalem, the question must be asked why more historians in the past haven’t realized that he was a political insurgent.

There is no foolproof argument to contradict the growing number of scholars who claim that Jesus never existed, because there are no known contemporary sources to vouch for him outside the Gospels, so they may be right. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc). In one sense it’s a mute point, because the miracle-working preacher of the Christian tradition is most definitely not a description of a real person.

No one knows the whole truth about what happened two thousand years ago. Yet surely this analysis draws on what we know of secular history and is more real than the confusing story people are told in church? One doesn’t need to have spent a lifetime studying the bible or Judaism to realize it rings true. One must either be a diehard Christian, or deliberately dishonest, to reject outright the account that’s just been given.
I ask those readers who find this version of events too controversial, or not controversial enough, to remain open minded as further history is discussed in later chapters. Jesus’ story is yet to be put in its full context.

The Christian Jesus is a Concocted Myth!
“Christians at all levels of intelligence and capacity are being denied access to vital information concerning their religion, and this curtailment of information helps breed either an attitude of ill-founded complacency, or one of smug self-certainty. Living in a kind of metaphysical dream, the custodians of ‘old fashioned’ Christianity stumble from one futile explanation of New Testament events to another. Jesus was sinless; Jesus was sexless; Jesus was all-knowing; Jesus is the Savior of the whole World; Jesus is God. Such sentiments slip easily from the lips when the mind has been overtaken by spiritual vertigo due to intellectual undernourishment.”
(Douglas Lockhart)

The picture just painted of the life of Yeshua has profound implications for inquisitive Christians.

The Jesus of theology has smothered the historical Yeshua, leaving only the skeleton of the real man behind. To discover the truth, one must winnow out the substance from the gloss.

The evidence indicates that Yeshua was, in fact, a popular potential messiah, a charismatic young zealot supposedly from David’s bloodline who was crazy brave enough to stand up to the Romans. His primary agenda wasn’t to preach philosophy, as Christian beliefs would have it. A wandering teacher’s pithy observations on life wouldn’t have wooed crowds, nor attracted the attention of the Romans, Herod, Sadducees, or Pharisees. People were too poor and the times too hard for that.

Christianity only first emerged decades after Yeshua’s death. It became a religion primarily for Gentiles. It used a story about Jesus to create something new that wasn’t Jewish. Yeshua wouldn’t have recognised himself as the creator of those stories. Any real story of Yeshua has been buried beneath a mountain of creeds, jargon and mysteries created many years after Yeshua died. Churches have misrepresented Yeshua’s message to make it personal rather than social, spiritual rather than political, and for Gentiles rather than Jews.

It’s highly unlikely Yeshua thought he was literally God’s son, and that any of his original disciples thought he was the son of God. It’s difficult to imagine he supposed he was the savior of the world or the meek lamb of God. To sacrifice himself for Gentile sinners wouldn’t have crossed his mind. It’s highly improbable he thought he was the central figure of a new religious cult. He didn’t rise from the dead. The imaginative Paul of Tarsus, put forward all these fictions. Yeshua never met Paul, yet if he had would have despised him for promoting pagan propaganda.

The Romans actually crucified Jesus twice; once in real life, and then again by lying about his legacy in the Gospels.

It seems odd and rather macabre that people have been told to worship a crucifix. As Yeshua was tortured, humiliated and killed on a cross, isn’t it in poor taste to advertise the fact? If Jesus were somehow alive today, wouldn’t his stomach turn at the sight of a crucifix?

It can be argued that to keep Yeshua trapped in the Christian paradigm is disrespectful to the real man, and, more importantly, confuses people with a web of complex falsehoods. People may ask whether it makes any sense to:
- Worship a Jewish peasant who would never have presumed he was a god?
- Believe that Yeshua loved Gentiles, the very people who humiliated, tortured, and executed him?
- Decide that a dead Jesus can somehow influence the state of today’s world or an individual’s post mortem destiny?

Many commentators over the last couple of centuries have reached some of the same conclusions about the humanity of Jesus, his fundamental Jewish beliefs and his political aspirations. Two of the more recent are Reza Asian (http://www.amazon.com/Zealot-Life-Times-...ords=reza) and Peter Cresswell (http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Terrorist-Pe...ll+jesus). Authors like them haven’t had “anti-Christian” agendas; they are just honest historians who believe in the importance of the truth.

References:
Baigent, M. 2006 “The Jesus Papers” Harper Element. London.
Baigent, M., Leigh, R., Lincoln, H. 1986 “The Messianic Legacy” Cape. London.
Cresswell, Peter “Jesus the Terrorist” O Books, Winchester, UK
Cross, C. 1970 “Who Was Jesus”. Trinity Press. London
Crossan, J. 1994 “Jesus A Revolutionary Biography”. Harper. San Francisco.
Daniel – Rops, second revised edition 1955 “Jesus in his time” Eyre and Spottiswoode in association with Burn and Oates London
Eisenman, Robert H. “James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
Gibbon, E. ed. Smith, W. 1855 “The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire”. Murray Books. London.
Hyde, D. 1994 “Rescuing Jesus from the Church” Minkara Pres. Australia
Klinghoffer, D. 1965 “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus”. Doubleday. United States Of America.
Lockhart, D. 1997 “Jesus The Heretic”. Element Books. Dorset.
Lockhart, D. 1999 “The Dark Side Of God”. Element Books. Dorset
Schonfield, H. 1977 “The Passover Plot”. Futura Publications. London
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Theiring, B. 1992 “Jesus The Man”. Moorebank. Doubleday Australia.
Tabor, J. 2006 “The Jesus Dynasty”. Harper Collins. London.
Wilken, R. 1971 “The Myth Of Christian Beginnings”. Doubleday. New York.
Yancey, P. 1995 “The Jesus I Never Knew” Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjAWyg7ZCJk (highly recommended).
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2010/0...ms-part-3/
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2010/0...-of-jesus/
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2010/0...nd-judean/
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2010/0...d-leaders/
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2010/1...-baptizer/
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2011/0...s-prophet/
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2011/0...anic-king/
http://sites.google.com/site/religionsci...estigation
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0890bandits.php
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/r...ction.html
http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/scholars.html
http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp03.htm
http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp10.htm
http://www.everything2.com/title/The+Rom...=printable
http://www.moshereiss.org/christianity/0...eadsea.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inCpro8NE...re=related
http://www.zionism-israel.com/hdoc/Papal_Bulls_Jews.htm
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/064...nFraud.php
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKcEz42MEmI
http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/1stC_Hist.htm
http://www.jesusandtheprofessor.com/2010...-rome.html
http://i-cias.com/e.o/essenes.htm
http://www.mwillett.org/atheism/Jesus-the-Nazarene.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drthwjszO...8&index=12
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IIiL4Bhy...D8E29AE528
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obZ4qtv-3...D8E29AE528
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