Christianity’s Criminal History, 90

Editor’s Note: The following section comes from the second volume of Deschner’s work (pic left). In the previous instances I had been using the third one but the order I have chosen for this site tries to follow, more or less, the order of what I hope will be the first volume in English of this abridged version of Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

The envy that I feel for most Westerners is absolute. I was born in the Middle Ages in the sense that, unlike the vast majority of Christians, I got religion inculcated through the hardest psychic blows. A Christian today does not have the remotest idea of what Catholic education was like in other times. Living in Spain, for example, a woman told me that she knew ‘older people’ who feared the idea of eternal damnation: something that younger generations of Christians have been completely spared.

The number of times I heard my Catholic father quote a specific verse from the gospels, ‘Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock I will build my Church!’ (emphasis in my father’s voice) was such, and it made such a dent in my young mentality, that I cannot help feeling great liberation when a non-Christian scholar, like Deschner, debunks those apocryphal verses.

Christianity not only irreparably damaged my life. It is likely that it has irreparably damaged the white race, on which this religion was imposed. Only the outcome of history will show if the white man will get rid of his ethnosuicidal tendencies: a psychic malware programmed, in large part, by the religion that destroyed my life.

Also raised as a Catholic, Deschner wrote:

 

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Neither Jesus instituted the papacy nor Peter was bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church bases the foundation of the papacy, and of itself, in the Matthew passage: ‘You are Peter, and on this rock [petrus] I will build my Church’ (Mt 16:18).

In huge golden mosaic letters these words appear, the most discussed of the Bible, in the dome of St. Peter built by Michelangelo. But they are missing in three of the four Gospels, especially in Mark, the oldest of the evangelists. In fact, Jesus never uttered them. This is today ‘the certain outcome of biblical exegesis’ (Brox).

In spite of this, the Catholic Church continues to maintain its ‘divine foundation’. It has no choice: the Church has affirmed it for two thousand years. However, not a few of its theologians capitulate now. Many of them, following with delay the steps of quite conservative Protestants, have developed a language that ‘scientifically’ makes them preserve half the face and allows them not to lose everything before their superiors. They paraphrase the lack of authenticity of the ‘foundational words of the Church’ in the following way: Matthew does not refer to it historically but he composes it theologically. Or they claim the ‘rock’ is a commandment uttered after the ‘resurrection’. The Catholics with fewer detours explain the ‘promise of Peter’ as a later interpolation, simply as an invention of the evangelists.

However, perhaps Peter had a kind of primacy, a certain leading role. But perhaps only temporarily and in certain areas, not, of course, after the ‘council of the apostles’. Paul, who opposes Peter ‘in his face’ in Antioch, insults him by calling him a hypocrite and, in an open manner, questions his demands. Elsewhere in the ‘Holy Scriptures’ there are also ‘anti-Petrine’ tendencies. And that Peter retained his primacy, if he had one, even if it was only an invention of the ‘Petrist party’, does not appear anywhere in the New Testament. Nothing is said.

However, even in the case—which must be excluded for many reasons—that the ‘primacy words’ came from Jesus, the Church could not explain how they were transmitted from Peter to the ‘popes’, since they not only apply to the apostle but also to his ‘successors in office’. Neither the Bible nor any other historical source indicates that Peter appointed his successor.

More than one Catholic ‘sees himself in trouble when trying to explain from a historical and critical point of view the strength of the biblical foundations for the papacy’ (Stockmeier). The most courageous theologians admit that ‘there is nothing’ of a succession of Peter (De Vries), which ‘in the New Testament cannot be seen anywhere’ (Schnackenburg). In effect, the theologian Josef Blank asks himself how primitive Christianity understood this sentence. Did it mean Rome or the primacy of the Roman bishop as successor to the Apostle Peter? ‘The answer is, plain and simple: No!’

Apologetics is based on indications from Jesus to Peter: that he should catch men, that he takes the keys to the kingdom of heaven; that all that he unites or desires on earth will be united or disunited in heaven and finally: ‘Strengthen your brothers’, ‘Feed my flock’. However, many other Gospel or New Testament parallels show that the five dispositions of Jesus were not linked in principle to Peter. And above all, of a successor, even of a superior of the Roman community as director of a global Church, it is not spoken at all in any early Christian text.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 89

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
Interpolations in the New Testament

Christians were very fond of interpolations. They have constantly modified, reduced and expanded the New Testament writings and, for that, they had the most diverse motives. They used interpolations, for example, to reinforce the historicity of Jesus or to promote and strengthen certain ideas of faith. Not everyone was able to modify a complete work, but he could easily distort the text of an opponent by introducing or deleting something for his own profit. Falsifications were also done to impose unpopular opinions that the author was not in a position to impose but that, under the name of someone famous, there was a chance to achieve it.

Important authors also fell into this practice. Tatian reviewed Paul’s epistles for aesthetic reasons and Marcion did so for content reasons. Dionysius of Corinth in the 3rd century and Jerome in 4th century complain about the numerous interpolations in the Gospels. But St. Jerome, patron of Catholic faculties and who made ‘the most shameful fabrications and deceptions’ (C. Schneider), accepted the commission of the murderous Pope Damascius to revise the Latin Bibles, of which there was not even two that coincided in somewhat long passages. Scholars have modified the text in some 3,500 places to legitimize the Gospels. And in the 16th century the Council of Trent declared as authentic this Vulgate destined for general diffusion, although the Church had rejected it for several centuries.

Well, in this case it was, so to speak, an intervention of the ‘official’ type. But usually it was produced clandestinely. And one of the most famous interpollations of the New Testament is linked to the dogma of the Trinity that, apart from later additions, the Bible does not proclaim, and for very good reasons.

The classical world knew hundreds of trinities since the 4th century BC. There was a divine Trinity at the top of the world, all the Hellenistic religions had their Trinitarian divinity, there were the dogmas of Trinity of Apis, of Serapis, of Dionysus, there was the Capitoline trinity: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva; there was a thrice-greatest Hermes, the god of the universe three times unique, who was ‘only and three times one’, etc.

But in the first centuries there was no Christian trinity because well into the 3rd century Jesus himself was not even considered as God, and ‘there was hardly anyone’ who thought of the personality of the Holy Spirit, as discreetly ironizes the theologian Harnack. (Except, let’s be fair, the Valentinian Theodotus: a ‘heretic’! He was the first Christian who, by the end of the 2nd century, called the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit a Trinity, something that the Christian tradition still did not dream of.) According to the theologian Weinel, ‘there was rather a revolted mass of ideas about the celestial figures’.

Everything that in Christianity was not pagan comes from the Jews. Another trinity characterised the ‘Holy Scriptures’ in the Revelations of John: God the Father, the seven spirits and Jesus Christ. Soon St. Justin finds a tetralogy: God the Father, the Son, the army of angels and the Holy Spirit. As has been said, ‘a revolted mass’. But little by little, the ancient doctrine—which until the 4th century was widespread even in ecclesiastical circles—, the Christology of the angels, fell into disrepute and was considered heretical. In its place a true dogma was imposed, in addition to all the Christian Churches: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

At last they had the right people all together, but unfortunately not yet in the Bible. Therefore it was fabricated. Fabrication was necessary because in the New Testament there were—and they are—‘false’ opinions, even of Jesus. For example, in the Logion of Matthew 10, 5: ‘Do not go to the nations of the pagans and do not set your foot in the cities of the Samaritans either. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. From what fate the Greco-Romans would have been spared, and also the Jews, if the Christians had followed these words of Jesus! But for a long time they had done the opposite. In evident contradiction with Matthew 10, 5, the ‘risen’ says right there ‘Go and teach all peoples and baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…’

This passage, the mandate of the mission of Christ, is considered true precisely because the Christians soon went on the mission to the pagans: the opposite of the first mandate of Jesus, preach only to the Jews. And to justify this in practice, at the end of the Gospel the mandate to do mission in the wider world is interpolated. And, incidentally, this contained the biblical foundation, the locus classicus, for the Trinity. However, considering that the preaching of Jesus himself lacks the slightest sign of a Trinitarian conception and that none of the apostles was commissioned to baptise, how Jesus, who exhorts to go ‘only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ expressly forbids ‘the path toward the pagan peoples’. How could this Jesus ask to do the mission for the world?

The latter mandate, which is increasingly questioned by rationalism, is considered by critical theologians to be a forgery. The ecclesiastical circles introduced it to justify a posteriori both the practice of the mission among the ‘pagans’ and the custom of baptism, and to have an important biblical testimony for the dogma of the Trinity.

Precisely for that reason in the first epistle of John there was another falsification, minimal in appearance but of special bad reputation, the Johannine Comma.

What was modified was the passage (First Epistle of John 5:7-8): ‘There are three who bear witness: the Spirit, the Water and the Blood, and the three are one’, leaving it as ‘There are three who testify in heaven, the Father and the Word and the Holy Spirit, and the three are one’. The addition is missing in almost all Greek manuscripts and almost all of the old translations.

Before the 4th century, none of the Greek Fathers of the Church used it, nor did they cite it, as a careful verification has pointed out in the writings of Tertullian, Cyprian, Jerome, and Augustine. The fabrication comes from North Africa or Spain, where it appears for the first time about 380. The first to question it was R. Simon in 1689. Today, the exegetes reject it almost with total unanimity. However, on January 13, 1897, a decree of the Roman Office proclaims its authenticity.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 86

Saint John the Evangelist, a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Domenichino. The problem with the splendid Christian art is that the painters have Nordicized the Semites of the 1st century. Had photography existed in the 1st century of our era, the Aryans would never have projected their beautiful physiques on the ugly rabble of Palestine.

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Neither the Gospel of Matthew, nor the Gospel of John, nor John’s Book of Revelation come from the apostles to whom the Church attributes them

Due to the great importance of the ‘apostolic tradition’, the Catholic Church published all the Gospels as books of the apostles or their disciples, which justified their prestige. But there is no proof that Mark and Luke, whose names appear in the New Testament, are disciples of the apostles; that Mark is identical to the companion of Peter, or that Luke was Paul’s companion. The four Gospels were transmitted anonymously.

The first ecclesiastical testimony in favour of ‘Mark’, the oldest of the evangelists, comes from Bishop Papias of Hierapolis, in the middle of the 2nd century. But today there are many researchers who criticise the testimony of Papias; call him ‘historically worthless’ (Marxsen), and even admit that Mark ‘has never heard and accompanied the Lord’.

The apostle Matthew, a disciple of Jesus, is not the author of the Gospel of Saint Matthew which appeared between the 70s and 90s, as is generally assumed. We ignore how he got the reputation of being an evangelist. It is evident that the first testimony comes from the historian of the Church, Eusebius, who in turn accepted the claim of Bishop Papias: about whom he writes that ‘intellectually, he should have been quite limited’. The title ‘Gospel of Matthew’ comes from a later period: we find it for the first time with Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. Both died at the beginning of the 3rd century. If the apostle Matthew, contemporary of Jesus and witness of his works, had written the Gospel that is attributed to him, would he have had to borrow so heavily from Mark? Was he so forgetful? Did he have so little inspiration?

All critical biblical research considers that there is no reason why the name of the apostle Matthew should appear on the Gospel, since it was not written in Hebrew, as the tradition of the ancient Church affirms, but in Greek. No one is known to have seen the Aramaic original, nor is anyone known to have translated it into Greek; nor in the manuscripts or citations is the slightest remnant of an original Aramaic text preserved. Wolfgang Speyer rightly includes the Gospel of Matthew among ‘fakes under the mask of religious revelations’. K. Stendhal ventures that it is not even the work of a single person but of a ‘school’. According to an almost unanimous opinion of all the non-Catholic researchers of the Bible, that gospel is not based on eyewitnesses.

The most recent Catholic theologians often painfully turn on these facts. ‘In case our Greek version of the Gospel of Matthew had been preceded by an original version in Aramaic…’ writes K. H. Sohelkle. Of course, ‘in case’, says Hebbel with irony, is the most Germanic of the expressions’.

‘An original Aramaic Matthew must have been written several decades before the Greek Matthew’. Not even they themselves believe this. Lichtenberg was not the first to know but was the first to say it accurately: ‘It is clear that the Christian religion is supported more by those people who earn their bread with it than by those who are convinced of its truth’.

It is interesting that the first three Gospels were not published as apostolic, the same as the Acts of the Apostles, whose author we also ignore. The only thing we know is that he who wrote these Acts of the Apostles simply puts on the lips of his ‘heroes’ the most appropriate phrases: something common in old historiography. But these inventions not only constitute a third part of the Acts of the Apostles but are also their most important theological content and, what is particularly remarkable, the writing of this author represents more than a quarter of the entire New Testament. It is generally supposed that the author of the Gospel of Luke is identical to the travelling companion and ‘beloved physician’ of the apostle Paul. But neither the Gospel of Luke nor the Acts of the Apostles are very Pauline. Researchers do not believe today that either of these two works was written by a disciple of Paul.

The Acts of the Apostles and the three Gospels were not signed with the true name or even with pseudonyms: they were anonymous works like many other proto-Christian works, such as the Epistle to the Hebrews of the New Testament. No author of the canonical Gospels cites his name, not once does he mention a guarantor, as the later Christian treatises so often do. It was the Church the first to attribute all these anonymous writings to certain apostles and their disciples. However, such attributions are ‘hoaxes’, they are a ‘literary deception’ (Heinrici). Arnold Meyer notes that ‘with certainty only the letters of the apostle Paul are authentic, who was not an immediate disciple of Jesus’. But it is well known that not all those epistles that appear under his name come from Paul.

 
John

Since the end of the 2nd century, from Irenaeus, although at first not without controversy, the Church attributes without reason the fourth Gospel to the apostle John: something that all critical researchers have questioned for more than two hundred years. There are many weighty reasons for raising questions.

Although the author of this fourth Gospel, who curiously does not mention any author, affirms having leaned on the chest of Jesus and being a reliable witness, he assures and repeats emphatically that his ‘testimony is true’, that ‘he has seen’ and that he ‘knows’ he is telling the truth so that we ‘may believe’. But this Gospel did not appear until about the year 100, while the Apostle John had been killed long ago, towards the year 44 or, probably, in 62.

The Father of the Church, Irenaeus, who was the first to affirm the authorship of the apostle John, has intentionally confused him with a priest, John of Ephesus. And the author of the second and third epistles of John, which are also attributed to the apostle John, calls himself at the beginning, ‘the presbyter’ (a similar confusion also occurred between the apostle Philip and the ‘deacon’ Philip). Even Pope Damasus I, in his canonical index (382), does not attribute two of John’s epistles to the apostle John, but to ‘another John, the presbyter’. Also, even the Father of the Church Jerome denied that these second and third epistles belonged to the apostle. The arguments against the authorship of the apostle John as ‘the Evangelist’ are so numerous and convincing that even Catholic theologians are starting to manifest, little by little, their doubts.

The same could be said about the Book of Revelation of John, whose author is repeatedly called John both at the beginning and at the end of the book, who also appears as a servant of God and brother of Christians, but not as an apostle. The book was written, according to the doctrine of the ancient Church, by the son of Zebedee, the apostle John, since an ‘apostolic’ tradition was needed to guarantee the canonical prestige of the book. But it did not last long given that the Book of Revelation, which appeared in the last place of the New Testament, was rejected by the end of the 2nd century by the critics of the Bible who otherwise did not deny any dogma.

Pope Dionysius of Alexandria (died 264-265), a disciple of Origen and nicknamed ‘the Great’, categorically denied that John was the author of the Apocalypse. Pope Dionysius points out that primitive Christians have already ‘denied and completely rejected’ the ‘Revelation of John’.

They challenged each and every one of the chapters and declared that the work lacked meaning and uniqueness and that the title was false. They affirmed, in particular, that it did not come from John and that they were not revelations since they were surrounded by a multitude of incomprehensible things. The author of this work was not one of the apostles, no saint and no member of the Church, but Cerinthus, who wanted to give a credible name for his forgery and also for the sect of his own name.

The theologian and Protestant bishop Eduard Lohse comments: ‘Dionysius of Alexandria has very accurately observed that the Revelation of John and the Fourth Gospel are so far apart in form and content that they cannot be attributed to the same author’. The question remains whether the author of the Book of Revelation wanted to suggest, by his name John, to be considered a disciple and apostle of Jesus. He does not say that explicitly: it was done by the Church to confer apostolic authority and canonical prestige on his text. And so falsifications started: the falsifications of the Church.

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Jesus’ love is murdering whites

Or:

The Jesus Seminar’s red letters

I have read The Five Gospels (pic left). It has bold letters in black (words attributed by the evangelist to Jesus but not of Jesus), letters in gray (ideas that might or might not come from the historical Jesus), letters in pink (ideas that could have come from the historical Jesus), and red letters (words that, according to the authors, probably were used by the historical Jesus).

The book was published by the Jesus Seminar, a group of professional exegetes of the New Testament. The Seminar was founded by the academic Robert W. Funk (1926-2005). It is interesting that the book puts almost all the gospel of John in black and gray print. That is to say, the consensus in New Testament scholarship is that very few actual Jesus words found their way in the fourth gospel. As a reviewer put it:

Funk… said that, in all, 31 sayings in the four biblical Gospels and several apocryphal sources fell into the “red” category of authentic sayings (only 15 of which are actually different, due to parallel versions in more than one gospel). They included the good Samaritan and mustard seed parables, the advice to love your enemies and some Sermon on the Mount pronouncements such as, “Blessed are you poor, for you shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Another 200 sayings were accorded pink votes, meaning that Jesus said something similar to the recorded words. Together, the red and pink sayings constituted about 20% of the total; another 30% fell into the gray class. “A gray vote meant that some of the ideas may have gone back to Jesus, but not those words,” Funk said.

I am sceptical of the Jesus Seminar. I agree with Joseph Hoffman’s comparison of the Seminar with a talking doll: “The Jesus of the [Jesus] Project is a talking doll with a questionable repertoire of thirty-one sayings. Pull a string and he blesses the poor.” Nevertheless, the main product of the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels, is a gem to understand the zeitgeist that is destroying the white race.

Pay attention to the subtitle of this site, ‘Love is murdering the white race’, a quotation from what Alex Linder wrote not long ago in Gab (I believe that out-group altruism, ultimately inspired in the words of Jesus, is destroying the Aryan DNA). Why not quote those verses in red and some pages of the book’s introduction to illustrate my point? Keep in mind that the liberal scholars of the Jesus Project, well versed in the Greek language, did not actually break away from Christian ethics that, according to the Führer, has taken mankind a giant step backwards.

In the Preface the authors explain: ‘The Five Gospels has many authors. It is the collective report of gospel scholars’ that ‘produced a translation of all the gospels known as the Scholars Version. And finally, they studied, debated, and voted for each of the more than 1,500 sayings of Jesus in the inventory’. A few pages ahead, in the introduction, these scholars say, ‘among the reasons for a fresh translation is the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas’. However, in this blog post I’ll concrete myself to quote the ‘talking doll’ sayings of the canonical gospels, omitting both the Gospel of Thomas which has some verses in pink and red, and the Gospel of John which has none in red.

It’s very refreshing to read a translation that employs colloquialisms. Unlike the Shakespearian King James Bible, the Mark gospel is very colloquial in the original Greek. For instance, in the Scholars Version, when the leper comes up to Jesus and says, ‘If you want to, you can make me clean’, Jesus replies, ‘Okay—you’re clean!’ Also, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ in most Bibles is translated from the original Greek as ‘God’s imperial rule’. I agree on this point with the Jesus Seminar, as even the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible strikes the ear ‘as faintly Victorian’, not fully vernacular. Moreover, in the Scholars Version, which is free of ecclesiastical control, the term ‘son’ is not capitalised when referring to Jesus.

Because New Testament scholars believe the Gospel of Mark was written first, they placed it first among The Five Gospels (red colour means that the colour actually appears in this 553-page book):

Pay the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and God what belongs to God! (Mark 12: 17).

The scholars also used red letters in the parallel Matthew and Luke quotations of the above saying.

Don’t react violently against the one who is evil: when someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other as well. When someone wants to sue you for your shirt, let that person have your coat along with it. Further, when anyone conscripts you for one mile, go an extra mile. Give to the one who begs from you… Love your enemies (Mark 5: 39-43).

This is what is murdering whites. Non-whites don’t believe such nonsense. But nowadays even the staunchest atheists unconsciously subscribe these words of Jesus. On page 143 of the book the words ‘Our Father’ appear in red. The next words is red appear fifty pages later:

Heaven’s imperial rule is like leaven which a woman took and concealed in fifty pounds of flour until it was all leavened (Matthew 13: 33).

The Parable of the Leaven appears in Matthew and Luke. In both places it immediately follows the Parable of the Mustard Seed. In Heisman’s Suicide Note it was interpreted thus: ‘In Jesus’s parable, it was the way of the Kingdom of God: a dangerous, pungent shrub with fiery effect that takes over where it is not wanted. Love was not only beneficial, but also necessary, to the health of the Roman patriarchal-imperial order. However, too much of a good thing can become absolutely deadly if not controlled within proscribed bounds’. Incidentally, this late Jew, Heisman, seemed to harbour a morbid pleasure on the subject of how the Jews infected whites with ethnosuicidal ethics.

I won’t quote the next words in red, thirty pages later, because it is the entire Parable of the Vineyard Labourers (Matthew 20: 1-15): too long for this blog entry. But let’s quote the next red letters that appear in the Gospel of Luke (6: 20-21):

Congratulations, you poor!
God’s domain belongs to you.
Congratulations, you hungry!
You will have a feast.
Congratulations, you who weep now!
You will laugh.

A couple of pages ahead we see again in red ‘love your enemies’ and in the same Luke chapter, another quote of that we have seen above:

When someone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well. When someone takes away your coat, don’t prevent that person from taking your shirt along with it. Give to everyone who begs from you (Luke 6: 29-30).

Again, I won’t quote page 323 even though the long Parable of the Samaritan appears in red. But this unquoted parable is the perfect example of out-group altruism—and the exact opposite of in-group altruism in the Old Testament! (Remember the Bible in a nutshell: Ethnocentrism for me but universalism for thee.) Twenty pages ahead we see once more the Parable of the Leaven in red, but this time it’s the Luke version of it. On pages 357-58 we see, all in red, most of the Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16: 1-8) that I won’t reproduce here either to keep the entry short.

My two cents. As to the hypothesis if the actual words of Jesus are retrievable or not it’s irrelevant who’s right: Hoffmann or the Jesus Seminar. What matters is that whites have been programmed, by Christianity, to commit ethnosuicide. To me, these words in red, whoever they came from—a Jew named Jesus or a Semitic evangelist—beautifully depict the Western zeitgeist.

Love is murdering the white race.

On the risen Jesus

People do not know how the mind works. Virtually all white nationalists who are Christians believe that the stories of the Resurrection have to do with the empirical world: an event in 1st-century Palestine. Now comes to my mind an oil painting of the risen Jesus that Andrew Anglin chose for his Daily Stormer in the days of Easter a few years ago.

In reality, the stories about Jesus that Christians believe, and revere, have nothing to do with the empirical world but with the structure of the inner self. I’m not going to give a class in this post about what introject means, or how our parents can program us malware without us knowing. Suffice it to say that, in my long odyssey in the fight against dad’s introjects, I had to read a lot of literature to convince myself that what the Gospels say must be questioned.
 
The resurrection of Jesus
 
The ordinary Christian does not have the faintest idea of the studies about the narratives of what they call the Resurrection and the Pentecost apparitions—research by those who have taken the trouble to learn ancient Greek to make a meticulous examination of the New Testament. The way secular criticism sees all these Gospel stories is complicated, but I will summarise it here in the most didactic way possible.

The oldest texts of the New Testament, like one of the Pauline epistles to the Corinthians, better reflect the theology of original Christianity than the late texts. Therefore, it is important to note that Paul does not mention the empty tomb or the ascension of Jesus. Modern criticism says that, if Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians was written by the 60s of our era, in that decade these legends had not yet unfolded.

Of the evangelists, Mark is the oldest and John the latest. (The Christian churches confuse the order in their Bibles by placing the Gospel of Matthew before Mark.) As Matthew and Luke copied and pasted a lot of verses from the Gospel of Mark when putting together their own gospels, these three evangelists are known as the Synoptics to distinguish them from the fourth gospel. Take this very seriously to see how the writers of the New Testament were adding narrative layers throughout the 1st century. To the brief visions that Paul had, collected in his first epistles some three decades after the crucifixion, in the 60s, the Synoptic evangelists were adding greater legends in the following decades and, in the case of John already in the dawn of the 2nd century of our era, more sophisticated Christologies.

I said that the oldest texts of the badly ordained New Testament in the traditional Bible are some of the epistles of Paul, who, while mentioning the ‘risen Christ’, does so within his dense and impenetrable theology. The Paul question is very important. Unlike the apostles, he never met Jesus in flesh; he only claimed that he heard his voice in a rare vision he had on the road to Damascus. And it is this little fellow who never knew Jesus the first one to speak of the ‘risen Christ’ in a chronologically ordered New Testament.

Unlike Paul the author of the Gospel of Mark, who wrote after Paul, does mention the empty tomb; but not the apparitions of Jesus.[1]

Matthew and John, who wrote after Mark, do mention the risen Jesus speaking with his disciples; but not the Ascension to the heavens.

It is Luke who already mentions everything, although he does not develop Christology at such theological levels as those of John the evangelist.

Another thing that uncultured Christians ignore is that Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles as a single book. The way both Catholic and Protestant churches separate the book of Luke is contrived. And it was precisely Luke who popularized the idea of the Ascension of Jesus: an obviously late legend insofar as, had it been historical, such a Hollywoodesque achievement would have been narrated not only by Paul; but by the other writers of the New Testament epistles, and by Matthew and John the evangelist (and let’s not talk about the other John: John of Patmos, the author of the Book of Revelation).

In short, serious scholars see in the diverse New Testament texts a process of myth-making: literary fiction that, in layers, was developed throughout the 1st century of our era. He who knows the chronology when the books and epistolary of the New Testament were written, and reads the texts in that order—instead of the order that appears in the Bibles for mass consumption—can begin to glimpse the evolution of the myth. Ultimately, there is no valid reason to suppose that what is told in the New Testament about Jesus’ resurrection and apparitions was historical.

It took me years to get oriented in the best literature about the Bible, including everything miraculous that is alleged about Jesus. The truth seeker could consult these selected texts.
 
____________

NOTE:

[1] To the bare ‘empty tomb’ narrative of the original Markan text in Greek, the church interpolated the verses that, in the common Bibles, we see at the end of Mark’s gospel; but the exegetes detected that trick a long time ago.

Apocalypse for whites • XII

by Evropa Soberana [1]

 

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’.

—Matthew, 2:6

‘…which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel’.

—Luke 2: 31

‘You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews’.

— John 4:22

‘Christus, from whom the name [Christians] had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular’.

—Tacitus, Annals, 15: 44, about the persecution decreed by Nero.

 

Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm

Yosef (a.k.a. Joseph), Jesus’ father, was a Jew from the House of David. But since Yosef supposedly did not intervene in the Virgin’s pregnancy, we will go on to examine the lineage of Miriam (a.k.a. Mary).

Luke the Evangelist was an individual from Antioch, in present-day Turkey. According to him, this woman was from the family of David and the tribe of Judah, and the angel who appeared to her predicted that a son would be born to whom Jehovah ‘will give him the throne of David, his father, and he will reign in the house of Jacob’.

According to the gospel story, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. In the Gospel of Matthew (1: 1) he is associated with Abraham and David, and in that same gospel (21: 9) it is described how the Jewish crowds in Jerusalem acclaim Jesus by shouting ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ without mentioning, of course, the ‘wizards of the East’ who visited the Messiah by following a star and asking ‘Where is the king of the Jews who was born?’ (Matthew, 2: 1-2).

Jesus, who never intended to found a new religion but to preserve pure the Orthodox Judaism made it clear, ‘I have not come to repeal the Law [of Moses, the Torah] but to fulfil it’ and, enraged to see that the Jerusalem temple was being desecrated by merchants, he threw them with blows. This Jewish agitator, like an Ayatollah, did not hesitate to face—with the authority given to him by being called rabbi—the other Jewish factions of his time, especially the Sadducees.[2]

Jesus surrounded himself with a circle of disciples among whom we could highlight the mentioned Simon the Zealot, Bartholomew (of whom Jesus himself says in the Gospel of John, where he is called Nathanael, ‘here is a true Israelite’); Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him to the Sadducees for money), Peter, John and Matthew.[3] Although there is not much information about the rest of the Apostles, it is necessary to remember that, until the trip of Paul (also Jewish) to Damascus after the death of Jesus, in order to be a Christian it was essential to be a circumcised, orthodox and observant Jew.

That the doctrine of Jesus was addressed to the Jews is evident in Matt. 10:6, when he says to the twelve apostles: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel’. The phrase implies to rescue those Jews who have strayed from the Law of Moses. This was because ‘if you believed in Moses you would believe me’ (John, 5:46).

In the year 26, Tiberius, who had expelled the Jews from Rome seven years before in times when the zeitgeist was fully anti-Semitic, appointed Pontius Pilate as a procurator of Judea, a Spaniard born in Tarragona or Astorga: the only decent character of the New Testament according to Nietzsche.

After the incident with the banners of Pompey, the Jews had obtained from previous emperors the promise not to enter Jerusalem with the displayed banners, but Pilate enters parading in the city, showing high the standards with the image of the emperor. This, the golden shields placed in the residence of the governor, and the use of the money of the temple to construct an aqueduct for Jerusalem (that transported water from a distance of 40 km), provoked an angry Jewish reaction. To suppress the insurrection, Pilate infiltrated the soldiers among the crowds and, when he visited the city, gave a signal for the infiltrated legionaries to take out the swords and start a carnage.

In the year 33, after various skirmishes of the Jesus gang with rival factions—particularly with the Sadducees, who at that time held religious power and saw with discomfort how a new vigorous faction arose—, Pontius Pilate orders the punishment of Jesus, at the request of the Sadducees. Jesus is scourged and the Roman legionaries, who must have had a somewhat macabre sense of humour and who knew that Yeshua proclaimed himself Messiah, put a crown of thorns and a reed in his right hand, and shout at him with sarcasm ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ (Matthew 27: 26-31 and Mark 15: 15-20). When they crucified him they placed the inscription I.N.R.I. at the top of the cross: IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM (Jesus Nazarene King of the Jews).

Yeshua of Nazareth, known to posterity as Jesus, was one of many Jewish agitators who were in Judea during the turbulent Roman occupation. Executed around the year 33 during the reign of Tiberius, his figure would be taken by Saul of Tarsus (a.k.a. Paul): a Jewish Pharisee marvelled at the power of subversion that enclosed the sect founded by Jesus.

Jesus was, then, one of many Jewish preachers who, before him and after him, proclaimed themselves Messiah. Only that, in his case, Saul of Tarsus (now Turkey) would soon call him, instead of masiah, Christus: the Greek equivalent of ‘Messiah’. After changing his name to Paul he preached the figure of ‘Christ’, indissolubly linked to the rebellion against Rome, throughout the empire, deciding that Christianity should be spread out of its narrow Jewish circle and introduced in Rome.
 
________________

[1] Slightly modified by the Editor of this site.

[2] Note of the Ed.: The split of early Christianity and Judaism took place during the first century CE. Traditional Christian doctrine aside, it is more likely that the point of conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities was political rather than religious. It had its roots right after the driving of the traders from the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus thus came into direct conflict with the High Priest, a Sadducee: the one who officiated the Temple.

The texts known as the ‘New Testament’, written not in Jesus’ Aramaic but in Greek, are Christian propaganda when, later, the early church entered in conflict with the Pharisees. (At the time that the gospels were edited the Sadducees had lost their leadership and the Pharisees were the sole repository of religious authority.) Although the evangelists specifically mention the Pharisees as those who Jesus scolds—even the author of this essay (which is why I modified his text)—, modern scholars postulate that the fight of the historical Jesus was with the Sadducee faction of Judaism: the bourgoise priesthood that represented the Temple, the collaborators with Rome.

On the other hand Talmudic Judaism, as known today, is the offshoot of Pharisee theology with Jews already in the Diaspora.

No Sadducee documents survived Titus’ conquest of Jerusalem. It is likely that, by editorial intervention, the name ‘Pharisees’ was substituted for the original ‘Sadducees’ in several gospel verses, in times that early Christians clashed with the Pharisees. In future instalments of the Kriminalgeschichte series (Volume III) we will see the extent of the tampering of gospel verses by the early Church.

[3] Note of the Ed.: Not to be confused with Matthew the Evangelist, a Greek-speaking author who never met Jesus in the flesh.

Gospel Fictions, 6


 
Below, part of Gospel Fictions’ sixth chapter, “The Passion narratives” by Randel Helms (ellipsis omitted between unquoted passages):


The story of the garden of Gethsemane is one of the most moving fictional creations in the New Testament. Though Mark’s Gospel is the first to tell the story in written form, its origins in the Old Testament are more clearly revealed in Luke’s version, whose vocabulary betrays its origins in Septuagint III Kings 19, the story of Elijah’s fleeing from Ahab and Jezebel.

The account is obviously fictional, since there could have been no witness to Jesus’ agony in the garden after he left his followers; they were all, according to the story, asleep.
 

Judas’ suicide

Mark had said nothing about the fate of Judas Iscariot after Jesus’ arrest, only that the priests promised to pay him money, not even indicating whether the money was ever paid. But the Christian sense of retribution could not rest with this, and soon legends were circulating that Judas died horribly. Luke knew one of these legends:

This Judas, be it noted, after buying a plot with the price of his villainy, fell forward on the ground, and burst open, so that his entrails poured out. This became known to everyone in Jerusalem, and they named the property in their own language Akeldama, which means “Blood Acre.” (Acts 1:18:19)

[Matthew on the other hand wrote:]

So Judas threw the money down in the temple and left them, and went and hanged himself. (Matt. 27:5)

That there were two such legends also accounts for the two different stories about Judas’ death: he hangs himself in Matthew and burst open in Acts. Both versions of the death are based on oracular readings of the Old Testament.
 

The Crucifixion

That Jesus was crucified by the Romans—the usual method of executing rebels—is the historical basis of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death (Mark 15, Matt. 27, Luke 23, John 19); the accounts are nevertheless fiction, composed for theological purposes.

If, as many hold, the author of the Fourth Gospel knew Mark’s work, why did he assert so strongly, contradicting Mark, that Jesus carried his own cross? Again the answer is a matter of theology rather than history. The Fourth Gospel was written, in part, as an attack upon Gnostic Christianity, which held that the Son of God was not really crucified; some Gnostics in fact held that Simon of Cyrene not only carried the cross, but was himself killed upon it. John dealt with that argument simply by eliminating Simon altogether.

Moreover, John had an entirely different picture of Jesus’ condition at the crucifixion. In the Synoptics, the implication is that Jesus is too weak, following his scouring and beating, to carry his own cross; but for John, Jesus is entirely triumphant throughout the passion. John presents no cry of dereliction from the cross (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”) but instead insists that the dying words were a cry of triumph: “It is accomplished!” (19:30). Such a figure was quite capable of carrying a cross.

Mark continues: “The hour of the crucifixion was nine in the morning” (the third hour, Roman time—Mark 15:25); John, however, tells us that “It was the eve of Passover, about noon,” when Pilate “handed Jesus over to be crucified.” Thus, we cannot know the hour of crucifixion. Nor, in fact, did the evangelists know: their times were fictional creations, parts of a theological framework.

Gospel Fictions, 7


 
Below, part of Gospel Fictions’ seventh chapter, “Resurrection fictions” by Randel Helms (ellipsis omitted between unquoted passages):


 
The earliest extended statement about the Easter experiences appears not in the Gospels but in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It dates from the early 50’s, some twenty years after the crucifixion. Paul’s statement is as interesting for what it does not say as for what it does:

I handed on to you the facts which had been imparted to me: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas, and afterwards to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred of our brothers at once, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the apostles. (15:2-7)

None of these appearances, in anything like the sequence Paul lists, is depicted in the four Gospels. Moreover, not one of the Gospel resurrection appearances is identical to those listed by Paul. Paul did not know the Gospel resurrection stories, for the simple reason that they had not yet been invented, and the four evangelists, who wrote twenty to fifty years after Paul, either did not know his list of appearances or chose to ignore it.

Perhaps most surprising of all the differences is Paul’s failure to mention the legend of the empty tomb, which was, for the writer of the earliest Gospel (Mark), the only public, visible evidence for the resurrection. Though Paul vigorously attempts to convince the Christians at Corinth, some of whom apparently doubted, that Jesus indeed rose from the dead (“if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain”), he never mentions this most striking piece of evidence.

Indeed, he had probably never heard of it; it was a legend that grew up in Christian communities different from his own. It may even have post-dated his death, for Mark wrote almost twenty years after his letter to Corinth. Worse yet, Paul would not have agreed with Mark’s theology even had he known it; for Paul, resurrection meant not the resuscitation of a corpse involving the removal of a stone and the emptying of a tomb, but a transformation from a dead physical body to a living spiritual one. “Flesh and blood can never possess the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50).

Not only is St Paul apparently unaware of the resurrection narratives recorded in the Gospels, but his own list of appearances is irreconcilable with those of the evangelists written later. Paul has it that the first appearance of the risen Lord was to Cephas (he always calls Peter by his Aramaic name, and apparently knows no stories about him in Greek). The Gospels describe no initial resurrection appearance to Peter (some women, the number varying from three to two to one, see him first), though Luke says that Peter did see him. According to equally irreconcilable accounts on the Gospels, the first appearance was to Mary Magdala alone (John), or to Mary Magdala and the other Mary (Mathew), or to Mary Magdala, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James (Luke). Again, Paul declares that the second resurrection appearance was to the “twelve,” whereas both Mathew and Luke stress that the appearance before the disciples was to the “eleven,” Judas being dead. Either Paul did not know the story about the defection and suicide of Judas Iscariot or else the “twelve” meant something different to him.

In other words, different centers of early Christianity produced their own collections of evidence of Jesus’ resurrection; these grew up independently and had, in the cases considered so far, almost nothing to do with each other. Of course, the most famous of the stories appear in the Gospels. Already in the mid-first century A.D., when Paul first wrote to the Corinthians, the idea was well established that Jesus rose again “on the third day, according to the Scriptures” (15:34). That is to say, Christians had scoured the Old Testament for passages that could, out of context, be interpreted as ancient oracles about the career of Jesus.

This involved interpretative methods that to modern eyes seem bizarre. Matthew’s assertion, in 21:4-5, based on his failure to understand the parallelism in the language of Zech. 9:9, that Jesus rode into Jerusalem astride two animals at once, is such an example. Moreover, the length of Jesus’ stay in the tomb was computed by reading Hosea 6:1-2 out of context, it being the only passage in the Old Testament with an “on the third day” allusion:

Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us and will heal us,
he has struck us and he will bind up our wounds;
after two days he will revive us,
on the third day he will restore us,
that in his presence we may live.

Hosea is, in these verses, not discussing the career of a holy man seven hundred years in the future. He is addressing his own countrymen in his own time, calling upon a corrupt people for moral and religious reform, berating people of whom one could say:

Their deeds are outrageous.
At Israel’s sanctuary I have seen a horrible thing:
there Ephraim played the wanton
and Israel defiled himself. (Hos. 6:10)

Some early Christians were aware of the paucity of Old Testament predictions about the length of Jesus’ stay in the tomb, and set about to invent more. Matthew’s additional evidence contains a prophecy in conflict with his own resurrection narrative. According to this evangelist, Jesus was buried on Friday just before sundown, and the tomb was found empty at sunrise on Sunday; thus, Jesus was presumably in the tomb two nights and one day. Nonetheless, Matthew imputed to Jesus the following, composed out of the Book of Jonah: “Jonah was in the sea-monster’s belly for three days and three nights in the bowels of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).

The oldest Christian narratives describing the discovery of the empty tomb on the third day appears in the Gospel of Mark:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought aromatic oils intending to go and anoint him; and very early on the Sunday morning, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were wondering among themselves who would roll away the stone for them from the entrance to the tomb, when they looked up and saw that the stone, huge as it was, had been rolled back already. They went into the tomb, where they saw a youth sitting on the right-hand side, wearing a white robe; and they were dumbfounded. But he said to them, “Fear nothing; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here; look, there is the place where they laid him. But go and give this message to his disciples and Peter: ‘He will go on before you into Galilee and you will see him there, as he told you’.” Then they went out and ran away from the tomb, beside themselves with terror. They said nothing to anybody, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8).

The most ancient manuscripts of Mark end at this point, one of the strangest and most unsatisfying moments in all the Bible, depicting fear and silence on Easter morning and lacking a resurrection appearance. But within about fifty years, at least five separate attempts were made by various Christian imaginations to rewrite Mark’s bare and disappointing story; they appear in the Long Ending and the Short Ending of Mark, and in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.

The first two are second-century interpolations in some texts of Mark and are identified as such in any responsible modern text. They are Mark 16:9-20 (in the King James version and others based on late manuscripts), an unskillful paraphrase of resurrection appearances in other Gospels; and Mark 16:9 in few other late manuscripts, in which the women followed the youth’s instructions to tell the disciples, a statement that conflicts with verse 8 of the original text.

Probably the first large-scale effort to rewrite Mark’s account and make it more pleasing to the faithful took place when the Gospel of Mathew was written in the last two decades of the first century. Although the major written source information was the Gospel of Mark, Matthew made up striking changes in Mark’s resurrection narrative. Mark’s account ends with the women running away from the tomb in terror and in their fear say nothing to anybody. Matthew did not like this ending, however, so he changed it, consciously constructing a fictional narrative that more closely fit what he and his Christian community wanted to have happen on Easter morning: “They hurried away from the tomb in awe and great joy, and ran to tell the disciples” (Matt. 28:8). How did Matthew feel justified in making such a major change in Mark, a source he obviously regarded, for the most part, as authoritative?

The answer is that Matthew was a conscious literary artist who sincerely believed in the resurrection; moreover, he believed he had the authority, granted him by his church and by its interpretation of the Old Testament, to “correct” Mark’s Gospel and theology. Indeed, he had corrected Mark many times before, often doing so on the basis of what he regarded as his superior understanding of the oracles in the Old Testament. For since Jesus’ life happened “according to the Scriptures,” early Christians were confident that in order to find out about him, they did not need to engage in historical research or consult witness (in our understanding of these two approaches); they found detailed history in the ancient oracles of the Hebrew Bible, read as a book about Jesus.

Matthew was a careful student of both the Old Testament and of Mark, which in his time was not yet accepted as canonical Scripture and thus could be changed at need. His study revealed how frequently Mark’s Gospel was transparent upon Scripture (or based upon it), and in ways that Mark himself apparently did not recognize. Mark had composed his Gospel on the basis of earlier oral and written sources, which in turn had found much of their information about Jesus in the Old Testament. Though Mark seems not to have realized that this was so, Matthew readily recognized the relationships between Mark and the Old Testament, and even took it upon himself to extend and correct them.

In this case he saw Mark’s resurrection narrative as transparent upon de Book of Daniel, especially chapter 6, the story of the lion’s den. On recognizing the relationship, Matthew seems to have consulted the Septuagint version of Daniel and believed that he found there details of a more accurate account of the happenings of the Sunday morning than could be found in the pages of Mark; never mind that Daniel’s narrative is a story in the past tense about presumed events in the distant past. Matthew ignored its narrative and historical content and turned it into a prophetic oracle, as had the originators of Mark’s story.

It seems clear that in a literary sense at least, Matthew was right: the account of the empty tomb used by Mark was indeed structured on Daniel’s story of the lion’s den. In the 30’s and 40’s, the empty tomb story was not part of the tradition about the resurrection: Paul was unaware of it. The legend grew in Mark’s community, or one from which it borrowed, as part of its stock of evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. As Matthew was to do again nearly a generation later, certain Christians, perhaps in the 50’s and 60’s, searched the Old Testament, a major source of what was for them authoritative information about Jesus, in order to construct their account of the passion and resurrection, and found in the Book of Daniel much of what they needed. Consider the parallels. […]

[Helms’ text cannot be copied and pasted in the internet. Above I typed directly pages 129 to 135 from his book, Gospel Fictions, Prometheus Books, 1988. But I’ll omit Helms’ detailed account of these parallels and jump to page 142:]

In sum, we may say that Matthew’s account of the resurrection is a fictional enlargement of Mark’s fictional narrative, produced, at least in part, because of what he saw as the incomplete and inadequate nature of Mark’s last chapter. Certainly, Matthew sincerely believed in the resurrection; he also believed that his version of the story was more authoritative, more “scriptural,” than Mark’s, but his sincerity does not make the story less fictive. The same may be said of Luke’s enlargement of the Markan resurrection account.

The Gospel of Luke is, like that of Matthew, an expanded revision of Mark. Of Mark’s 661 verses, some 360 appear in Luke, either word-for-word or with deliberate changes. Some of the most dramatic of these changes appear in Luke’s version of Mark’s resurrection narrative.

Luke’s most significant change from Mark—the totally different angelic message at the tomb—finds its origin not in the Old Testament, however, but in Luke’s need to prepare his readers for the story of Pentecost in the Book of Acts, which he also wrote. In the version of the story Luke wishes to present, the disciples cannot be ordered, or even allowed, to leave Jerusalem for Galilee; they must remain for the all-important Pentecost experience.

Matthew composed a Galilee resurrection appearance using the Book of Daniel as the source of what Jesus would have said. But Luke eliminates the angels’ statement that the risen Jesus is going to Galilee; in contrast to Matthew, who composes a new statement for Jesus out of the youth’s speech in Mark (“take word to my brothers that they are to leave to Galilee”—Matt. 28:10), Luke imputes to Jesus a new saying that demands quite the opposite: “Stay here in this city until you are armed with the power from above” (Luke 24:49).

Luke thus presents resurrection appearances only in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Mark implies, and Matthew specifically declares, that Jesus, followed later by his disciples, left Jerusalem immediately after his resurrection and went to Galilee some eighty or ninety miles to the north, where they all met. Luke writes (Acts 1:3-4) that the risen Jesus “over a period of forty days… appeared to them and taught them about the kingdom of God. While he was in their company he told them not to leave Jerusalem.” For Luke, the story of Pentecost, described in the second chapter of Acts, overshadowed any assertion that the disciples were in Galilee meeting Jesus; they had to be in Jerusalem, so he placed them there and constructed a saying by Jesus to justify this change.

The fourth evangelist, John (who was not the Apostle, but a Christian who wrote at the very end of the first century), possessed a collection of resurrection narratives different from those used by Matthew and Luke, and irreconcilable with them.

In Luke, when the women returned to the disciples with the joyous news that the tomb was empty and that two angels had declared Jesus risen, “The story appeared to them to be nonsense, and they would not believe” (24:11); but in John, when Peter and the other disciples hear the women’s message, they run to the tomb and find it empty, whereat, says John, they “believed” (20:28). […]

The Gospel of John , as originally written (circa 100 A.D.), ended immediately after Jesus’ appearance before the doubting Thomas. Early in the second century, however, certain Christians to whom the gospels of Mathew and Luke were important, recognized that both these earlier works stress, in opposition to John, that the resurrection appearances occurred in Galilee as well as Jerusalem. They took it upon themselves to reconcile John with the others by adding a twenty-first chapter.

That this section is not by the author of the rest of the Gospel is clear from the prominence it gives to the “sons of Zebedee” (John 21:2), who are mentioned by this name nowhere else in the Fourth Gospel, though they are central figures in the Synoptics. A major propose of this addition, and another sign of its late date, is betrayed by the last saying attributed to Jesus in the chapter. For no reason apparent in the narrative, we are told that Peter “saw” an unnamed disciple, the one “whom Jesus loved,” and asked Jesus, “What will happen to him?” Jesus’ response was, “If it should be my will that he should wait until I come, what is that to you? Follow me.”

The saying of Jesus became current in the brotherhood, and was taken to mean that the disciple would not die. But in fact Jesus did not say that he would not die, he only said “If it should be my will that he should wait until I come, what is that to you?” (21:21-23)

Obviously, this disciple (in fact all the first-generation Christians) had long since died, and Jesus showed no signs of returning. The tradition persisted, however, that those were the words of Jesus, for the first generation indeed confidently expected the early return of their Lord (had he not said, in Mark 9:1, “There are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they have seen the kingdom of God already come”?). A saying had to be constructed that would not only demystify and reinterpret this persistent legend, so troubling to the faithful, but solve the apologetic problem it presented. Chapter 21 exists, in part, for this purpose; and though the attempt is an unconvincing quibble, it had to be made.

The resurrection narratives in the last chapters of the four Gospels are effective stories that have given solace and hope to millions of believers who have not read them carefully.

David Friedrich Strauss, 2

The following is excerpted from Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus, published in 1906: a scholarly yet readable introduction to the field of New Testament studies from a modern viewpoint. Schweitzer’s eight chapter is titled “Strauss’ first Life of Jesus”:

DF Strauss

The distinction between Strauss and those who had preceded him upon this path consists only in this, that prior to him the conception of myth was neither truly grasped nor consistently applied.

The principal obstacle, Strauss continues, which barred the way to a comprehensive application of myth, consisted in the supposition that two of our Gospels, Matthew and John, were reports of eyewitnesses.

The main distinction between Strauss and his predecessors consisted in the fact that they asked themselves anxiously how much of the historical life of Jesus would remain as a foundation for religion if they dared to apply the conception of myth consistently, while for him this question had no terrors. He claims in his preface that he possessed one advantage over all the critical and learned theologians of his time without which nothing can be accomplished in the domain of history—the inner emancipation of thought and feeling in regard to certain religious and dogmatic prepossessions which he had early attained as a result of his philosophic studies. Hegel’s philosophy had set him free, giving him a clear conception of the relationship of idea and reality, leading him to a higher plane of Christological speculation, and opening his eyes to the mystic interpenetration of finitude and infinity, God and man.

He sees evidence that the time has come for this undertaking in the condition of exhaustion which characterised contemporary theology. The supernaturalistic explanation of the events of the life of Jesus had been followed by the rationalistic, the one making everything supernatural, the other setting itself to make all the events intelligible as natural occurrences. Each had said all that it had to say. From their opposition now arises a new solution—the mythological interpretation. This is a characteristic example of the Hegelian method—the synthesis of a thesis represented by the supernaturalistic explanation with an antithesis represented by the rationalistic interpretation.

In the stories prior to the baptism, everything is myth. The narratives are woven on the pattern of Old Testament prototypes, with modifications due to Messianic or messianically interpreted passages. Since Jesus and the Baptist came into contact with one another later, it is felt necessary to represent their parents as having been connected. The attempts to construct Davidic genealogies for Jesus, show us that there was a period in the formation of the Gospel History during which the Lord was simply regarded as the son of Joseph and Mary, otherwise genealogical studies of this kind would not have been undertaken. Even in the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, there is scarcely more than a trace of historical material.

In the narrative of the baptism we may take it as certainly unhistorical that the Baptist received a revelation of the Messianic dignity of Jesus, otherwise he could not later have come to doubt this. But if the baptism of John was a baptism of repentance with a view to “him who was to come,” Jesus cannot have held Himself to be sinless when He submitted to it.

We have, therefore, in the Synoptists several different strata of legend and narrative, which in some cases intersect and in some are superimposed one upon the other.

The story of the temptation is equally unsatisfactory, whether it be interpreted as supernatural, or as symbolical either of an inward struggle or of external events (as for example in Venturini’s interpretation of it, where the part of the Tempter is played by a Pharisee) ; it is simply primitive Christian legend, woven together out of Old Testament suggestions.

The call of the first disciples cannot have happened as it is narrated, without their having known anything of Jesus beforehand; the manner of the call is modelled upon the call of Elisha by Elijah. The further legend attached to it—Peter’s miraculous draught of fishes—has arisen out of the saying about “fishers of men,” and the same idea is reflected, at a different angle of refraction, in John xxi. The mission of the seventy is unhistorical.

Whether the cleansing of the temple is historical, or whether it arose out of a Messianic application of the text, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” cannot be determined. The difficulty of forming a clear idea of the circumstances is not easily to be removed. How freely the historical material has been worked up, is seen in the groups of stories which have grown out of a single incident; as, for example, the anointing of Jesus at Bethany by an unknown woman, out of which Luke has made an anointing by a penitent sinner, and John an anointing by Mary of Bethany.

As regards the healings, some of them are certainly historical, but not in the form in which tradition has preserved them. The recognition of Jesus as Messiah by the demons immediately arouses suspicion. One cure has sometimes given rise to three or four narratives. Sometimes we can still recognise the influences which have contributed to mould a story. When, for example, the disciples are unable to heal the lunatic boy during Jesus’ absence on the Mount of Transfiguration, we are reminded of 2 Kings iv, where Elisha’s servant Gehazi tries in vain to bring the dead boy to life by using the staff of the prophet. The immediate healing of leprosy has its prototype in the story of Naaman the Syrian. The story of the ten lepers shows so clearly a didactic tendency that its historic value is thereby rendered doubtful.

The cures of blindness all go back to the case of the blind man at Jericho. But who can say how far this is itself historical? The cures of paralytics, too, belong rather to the equipment of the Messiah than to history. The cures through touching clothes, and the healings at a distance, have myth written on their foreheads. The fact is, the Messiah must equal, nay, surpass, the deeds of the prophets. That is why raising from the dead figure among His miracles.

The nature miracles, over a collection of which Strauss puts the heading “Sea-Stories and Fish-Stories,” have a much larger admixture of the mythical. His opponents took him severely to task for this irreverent superscription.

The repetition of the story of the feeding of the multitude arouses suspicion regarding the credibility of what is narrated, and at once invalidates the hypothesis of the apostolic authorship of the Gospel of Matthew. Moreover, the incident was so naturally suggested by Old Testament examples that it would have been a miracle if such a story had not found its way into the life of Jesus. An explanation on the analogy of an expedited process of nature, is here, as in the case of the miracle at Cana also, to be absolutely rejected. Strauss allows it to be laughed out of court. The cursing of the fig-tree and its fulfilment go back in some way or other to a parable of Jesus, which was afterwards made into history.

More important than the miracles heretofore mentioned are those which have to do with Jesus Himself and mark the crises of His history. The transfiguration had to find a place in the life of Jesus, because of the shining of Moses’ countenance. In dealing with the narratives of the resurrection it is evident that we must distinguish two different strata of legend, an older one, represented by Matthew, which knew only of appearances in Galilee, and a later, in which the Galilaean appearances are excluded in favour of appearances in Jerusalem. In both cases, however, the narratives are mythical. In any attempt to explain them we are forced on one horn of the dilemma or the other—if the resurrection was real, the death was not real, and vice versa. That the ascension is a myth is self-evident.

Such, and so radical, are the results at which Strauss’s criticism of the supernaturalistic and the rationalistic explanations of the life of Jesus ultimately arrives. In reading Strauss’s discussions one is not so much struck with their radical character, because of the admirable dialectic skill with which he shows the total impossibility of any explanation which does not take account of myth. On the whole, the supernaturalistic explanation, which at least represents the plain sense of the narratives, comes off much better than the rationalistic, the artificiality of which is everywhere remorselessly exposed.

In section after section Strauss cross-examines the reports on every point, down to the minutest detail, and then pronounces in what proportion an alloy of myth enters into each of them. In every case the decision is unfavourable to the Gospel of John. Strauss was the first to take this view. Strauss does not scruple even to assert that John introduces imaginary characters. If this Gospel relates fewer miracles, the miracles which it retains are proportionately greater; so great, indeed, that their absolutely miraculous character is beyond the shadow of doubt; and, moreover, a moral or symbolical significance is added.

Here, therefore, it is no longer the unconscious action of legend which selects, creates, or groups the incidents, but a clearly-determined apologetic and dogmatic purpose.

On this point, he contents himself with remarking that if Jesus had really taught in Jerusalem on several occasions, it is absolutely unintelligible how all knowledge of this could have so completely disappeared from the Synoptic tradition; for His going up to the Passover at which He met His death is there represented as His sole journey to Jerusalem. From the triumphal entry to the resurrection, the difference between the Synoptic and Johannine narratives is so great that all attempts to harmonise them are to be rejected.

The most decisive evidence of all is found in the farewell discourses and in the absence of all mention of the spiritual struggle in Gethsemane. The intention here is to show that Jesus not only had a foreknowledge of His death, but had long overcome it in anticipation, and went to meet His tragic fate with perfect inward serenity. That, however, is no historical narrative, but the final stage of reverent idealisation.

The question is decided. The Gospel of John is inferior to the Synoptics as a historical source just in proportion as it is more strongly dominated than they by theological and apologetic interests.

The Synoptic discourses, like the Johannine, are composite structures, created by later tradition out of sayings which originally belonged to different times and circumstances, arranged under certain leading ideas so as to form connected discourses. The sermon on the mount, the discourse at the sending forth of the twelve, the great parable-discourse, the polemic against the Pharisees, have all been gradually formed like geological deposits. “From the comparison which we have been making,” says Strauss in one passage,

we can already see that the hard grit of these sayings of Jesus (die kornigen Reden Jesu) has not indeed been dissolved by the flood of oral tradition, but they have often been washed away from their original position and like rolling pebbles (Gerolle) have been deposited in places to which they do not properly belong.

And, moreover, we find this distinction between the first three Evangelists, viz. that Matthew is a skilful collector who, while he is far from having been able always to give the original connexion, has at least known how to bring related passages aptly together, whereas in the other two many fragmentary sayings have been left exactly where chance had deposited them, which was generally in the interstices between the larger masses of discourse. Luke, indeed, has in some cases made an effort to give them an artistic setting, which is, however, by no means a satisfactory substitute for the natural connexion.

It is in his criticism of the parables that Strauss is most extreme. He starts out from the assumption that they have mutually influenced one another, and that those which may possibly be genuine have only been preserved in a secondary form. The tendency of the work to purely critical analysis, the ostentatious avoidance of any positive expression of opinion, and not least, the manner of regarding the Synoptists as mere bundles of narratives and discourses, make it difficult—indeed, strictly speaking, impossible—to determine Strauss’s own distinctive conception of the life of Jesus, to discover what he really thinks is moving behind the curtain of myth.

From all this it may be seen how strongly he had been influenced by Reimarus, whom, indeed, he frequently mentions.

Strauss’s Life of Jesus has a different significance for modern theology from that which it had for his contemporaries. For them it was the work which made an end of miracle as a matter of historical belief, and gave the mythological explanation its due.

We, however, find in it also an historical aspect of a positive character, inasmuch as the historic Personality which emerges from the mist of myth is a Jewish claimant of the Messiahship, whose world of thought is purely eschatological. Strauss is, therefore, no mere destroyer of untenable solutions, but also the prophet of a coming advance in knowledge.

The fallibility of the Gospels (6)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s
Jesus: The Evidence

Bultmann died in 1976, at the age of ninety-two. A whole generation of modern New Testament scholars, among them his Marburg successor Werner Kiimmel, Bristol University’s Dennis Nineham, Harvard University’s Helmut Koester, and others, acknowledge an immense debt to him for introducing a whole new school of thought in theological research. Others, however, recognize that Bultmann went too far, and have challenged his rigid, unshakable attitudes: in Britain, while acknowledging that each gospel per se may have been written at second hand, several scholars have devoted great attention to the detection of underlying first-hand sources. Not long after Bultmann had begun his professorship at Marburg, across the Channel at Queen’s College, Oxford, a shy and retiring Englishman, Canon Burnett Streeter, quietly put the finishing touches to The Four Gospels: A Study in Origins.

By this time, thanks to both British and German theological re- search, it was already recognized that the authors of Matthew and Luke, in addition to drawing on the gospel of Mark, must have used a second Greek source, long lost, but familiarly referred to by scholars as ‘Q’ (from the German ‘quelle’, meaning source). It was even possible to reconstruct Q’s original content from passages in which Matthew and Luke bore close resemblance to each other, but not to Mark. While reaffirming this thinking, Streeter postulated at least two additional sources: ‘M’, which seemed to have provided material peculiar to the Matthew gospel, and ‘L’ which furnished passages exclusive to Luke. Streeter evolved a chart of the synoptic gospels’ possible interrelationship and dependence upon such sources. ‘M’ and ‘L’ may well have been written in Aramaic, the spoken language of Jesus and his disciples.

Streeter died in 1937, but his line of thought was developed by other major British theological scholars, among them Professor Charles Dodd, who went on to make his own special contribution to an understanding of the John gospel.

To this day the broad outlines of Streeter’s hypothesis remain the basis for much synoptic literary criticism. And the clues to underlying Aramaic sources are indeed there. In the Luke gospel, for instance, which includes ‘exclusives’ such as the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, there occurs the following saying:

Oh, you Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness… Instead give alms from what you have and then indeed everything will be clean for you. (Luke II: 39-41).

‘Give alms’ appears to make no sense, yet it occurs in the very earliest available Greek texts. All becomes clear, however, when we discover that in Aramaic ‘zakkau’ (to give alms) looks very similar to ‘dakkau’ (to cleanse). That the original saying referred to ‘cleansing’ rather than ‘giving alms’ can be checked because Matthew includes a parallel passage in what we may now judge to have been the correct form: ‘Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that the outside may become clean as well…’ (Matthew 23: 26). As has been remarked by Cambridge theologian Don Cupitt, this tells us more clearly than any amount of scholarship that whoever wrote Luke was not inventing his material, but was struggling with an Aramaic source that he was obviously determined to follow even if he did not fully under- stand it.

A similar misunderstanding is detectable in the Matthew gospel, notable for its remarkable ‘Sermon on the Mount’ passages, some of which, when translated from Greek into Aramaic, take on such a distinctive verse form that Aramaic must have been the language in which they were first framed. It is like translating the words ‘On the bridge at Avignon’ back into their original French.

(To be continued…)