The real Jesus told the disciples that he would return soon. The real Jesus was not recognizable by either Mary Magdalene or by various disciples. The real Jesus was named Yeshua, but was never named (or even called) Immanuel. The real Jesus believed in reincarnation and the real Jesus… didn’t die on the cross.
There are a number of people who believe that Jesus survived the crucifixion. A movie, “The Passion of Christ,” was even made based on that premise, which was from the book of the same name by biblical scholar Hugh Schonfeld. One of the more important sources for this idea was none other than early church father Irenaeus. In his famous work “Against Heresies,” Irenaeus wrote that Jesus went to India after the crucifixion and lived to an advanced age. Jesus’ travels to India, long after the crucifixion, is confirmed in the Acts of Thomas, which is attributed to the disciple Thomas.
It was noted historian and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer who was one of the first to point out that the gospels (see Mark 13 and Matthew 24) actually say that Jesus intended on returning (the Second Coming) in the “lifetime of the disciples”. Needless to say, that never happened. Obviously then, as Schweitzer noted, Jesus could not have been divine. As it says in the Bible, if a prophet says that something will occur and it does not, then the prophet does not speak the Word of God (see Deuteronomy 18:22). However, it does not preclude the possibility that Jesus survived the crucifixion.
The Bible says that Jesus’ last words on the cross were, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me” (Mark 15:34/ Matthew 27:46). A divine Jesus would have never uttered those words. How foolish it would have been of Jesus to have forsaken himself (if he were God incarnate) and how ridiculous it would have been for Jesus to say those words since he knew that he was supposed to die (even if he was only the Son of God). Obviously, then, God did not forsake him. However, Jesus may have thought that someone was going to get him off the cross before he expired, and that someone had not yet shown up.
Jesus was on the cross for only 6 hours when he was taken down from the cross. It takes 2-4 days, and sometimes even longer, for a person to die on the cross. Jesus may well have been alive, then, just as the other two men being crucified with Jesus were also alive. Even Pontius Pilate, himself, could not believe that Jesus had died so soon. Beyond that, one has to seriously ask the question of why the crucifixion was started at all when it was just a few hours before the Sabbath, at which time this kind of punishment was disallowed under Jewish law.
The interesting thing about the crucifixion is that it took place in the private garden of Joseph of Arimathea, at a distance from any onlookers (Luke 23:49). It was Joseph of Arimathea who requested Jesus’ body from Pilate and it was Joseph of Arimathea who brought 100 pounds (why so much?) of myrrh and aloes, which have medicinal uses, to the tomb wherein the body of Jesus was laid. It was Joseph of Arimathea who was a secret disciple of Jesus (John 19:38). Finally, Joseph of Arimathea would have had to have been a member of Jesus’ immediate family in order to ask for possession of the body! Of course, Joseph of Arimathea, being the rich man that he was, could have easily offered Pilate a bribe not to have Jesus crucified, especially since Pilate didn’t think that Jesus had done anything wrong. The fact that he didn’t offer a bribe, is very telling.
Aside: Historians and theologians alike have said that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, but what if that is not correct? The gospels all say that he was crucified in Jerusalems (per the New Testament written in the original Greek). That’s Jerusalem with an “s” at the end. Remember, the Dead Sea Scrolls identified the disciples as part of a small Jewish religious community that lived in Qumran, which they considered to be the New Jerusalem. So what if the location of the crucifixion site was really Qumran, which would explain why archaeologists have never found it.
Historian Jaroslav Pelikan once commented that Jesus is the dominant figure in the history of Western culture. However, it’s hard to imagine that so little is really known about such an important historical figure. Regardless of what the truth of the matter is, I would argue that the history of Jesus has been intentionally obfuscated. As Jean Jacques Rousseau said, “The falsification of history has done more to mislead humans than any single thing known to mankind.” In that regard, the great library at Alexandria, which contained the wisdom of the ages, was burned down to forever conceal the truth about Jesus.
In the final analysis, there are plenty of arguments pro and con for the divinity of Jesus. It probably doesn’t matter anyway since people already have their minds made up, one way or another. As Stuart Chase so aptly put it, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”
The real Jesus is for the most part missing from the Bible. The real Jesus would not have died for a cause, but he might have faked his death to promote such a cause. The real Jesus would have returned as he promised the disciples…if he could have.
“Those who say that the lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died.”
– Gospel of Philip
Growing up in a Christian family, I always wondered why Christianity adopted the god of another religion without adopting the religion itself. Exactly how did that happen, and why? Let’s break it down.
Christianity has a holy book, The Bible, which is in two main parts, namely the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is actually the Jewish Bible, so here’s where things get a little fuzzy. You see, Christianity says that the Old Testament doesn’t mean what Judaism says it means. Maybe, I should repeat that. The Jews wrote the Old Testament, but Christianity says that they (the Jews) don’t really understand what they wrote! So perhaps a little background is in order.
The Old Testament is a history book, of sorts, which starts with the Creation after which it mostly covers the history of the Hebrews/Israelites. The Old Testament texts were written by Jews, for Jews and about Jews. Yet, Christianity claims to have a more perfect understanding of the texts than the people who wrote them. How bizarre is that?
Of course, historians and theologians of all stripes pretty much agree that Christianity was an offshoot of Judaism. That’s made very clear as a result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jesus and his disciples were Jewish and they followed the Torah. The only messiah that the disciples were expecting was a Jewish messiah, the messiah mentioned in the Jewish Bible (Old Testament). Why is the concept of a Jewish messiah important? Why, because the coming of the messiah was prophecized by the prophets who were Jewish holy men. It was their messiah that they were expecting, not a divine Christian messiah. So, the Christian concept of a messiah was hijacked from the messiah that the Jewish holy men were expecting. Yes, hijacked. It’s the very same messiah, albeit totally changed.
So the mystery is why would anyone do such a thing?
Let’s back up just a bit. The word messiah in Hebrew means “anointed one,” as all kings were anointed when crowned king. In the same vein, the title Christ, from the Greek word “christos”, also means anointed. The prophets actually believed that the messiah would deliver them from their Roman oppressors and restore the Kingdom of Israel. So, for example, when the disciples asked Jesus, “…Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), they understood that this was potentially the fulfillment of one of the Old Testament prophecies. Of course, it never happened.
In the book of Matthew, there are repeated references to Jesus, as the Son of David or in Matthew 2:1-2 he was called the King of the Jews by the Three Wise Men. Note: They did not refer to him as God or even as the Son of God. People referred to Jesus the way that they did because prophecy stated that the Jewish messiah had to be descended from King David and that such a messiah would be a man (not a divine being). The person that they were expecting would be the King of Israel, not unlike King David who was both a messiah and a king. Likewise, people were expecting the Jewish messiah to be both a messiah and a king and thus Jesus was addressed as such by the people who believed that he might be the long-awaited Jewish messiah. At that time, there was no such thing as a Christian messiah as the idea of a Christian messiah would only come later. So, the only context that people (and the disciples) had was that of a Jewish messiah.
Aside: If Jesus was divine and born of a virgin mother (Mary), he could not have fulfilled prophecy anyway as he would not have been descended from King David, as the Davidic line ran through Joseph, and not Mary.
So why, then, did Christianity adopt the Jewish messiah concept (and then redefine it)? Well, what choice did they really have? The disciples were Jewish and they followed the Torah and they worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Acts 3:13)…and they were expecting a Jewish messiah. World-renown humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, in his book “The Mystery of the Kingdom of God,” wrote that Jesus and his followers expected the imminent end of the world. As Schweitzer noted, the discussion of the tribulation and the second coming of Jesus is spelled out in chapter 13 of the gospel of Mark, especially the timing which was specified by Jesus to his disciples, “Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.” (Mark 13:30) So, this was something that the disciples expected in their lifetime, and not some 2,000 years later. The gospel of Matthew (chapter 24) confirms that the ”end of days” will be in the disciples’ lifetime and Paul also believed in the imminent end of the world as can be seen in 1 Thessalonians 4.
Christianity’s roots were in Judaism, but the church doctrine was developed for gentiles (read: the Roman Empire). For example, the concept of Original Sin is nowhere to be found in Judaism and the Church’s teachings on this doctrine are antithetical to the core principles of the Torah. Also, Judaism does not include the concept of a trinity. Heck, the word “trinity” can’t even be found in the Bible (not even in the New Testament). However, because of antisemitism, a Jewish religion and its concept of a messiah, would never have been acceptable to the rest of the world (gentile world, that is). So, Paul cast off the Torah, effectively castigating Judaism, and in the process created Christianity. The umbilical cord was cut and Christianity became the new pagan religion of the gentiles. To gain new converts to the religion, Christianity offered a new and totally radical idea – the concept of a universal messiah who came to save the entire world. In stark contrast, the prophets wrote about the coming of a Jewish messiah who would come specifically to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel.
Much of the history of these events has long since been obscured. As a result, most Christians today have little idea what a circuitous route Christianity took before it was formalized and where Christian doctrine really came from. As Christian theologian Brian McLaren said, “One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.”
In 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea, a group of Christian bishops were convened at the behest of Emperor Constantine to determine Church doctrine. Of the 1,800 church bishops, approximately 300 attended, less by some accounts. The process of determining Church doctrine had begun. It would take almost another 100 years before it was finally determined which of the various scriptures were to be included in, or excluded from, the Bible. So, approximately four hundred years after Jesus, the Church became the final arbiter as to what scriptures were, or were not, divinely inspired.
Apparently, the topic of evil never seems to get old for some people. There have been a number of posts recently with the same old issues, with no real answers. So let’s try and break it down.
The arguments about evil usually center around why evil exists. After all, Christianity says that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Atheists usually surface this issue in an attempt to disprove God, as if you could ever prove a negative. Deists, on the other hand, occasionally dip their toes into these treacherous waters in attempt to silence the skeptics, of which I am certainly one. For example, one Christian website had this to say about evil: “Some day God will ultimately and finally overcome evil entirely.” Wow, is about all I can say.
The use of logic is typically in the forefront in trying to resolve this issue one way or another. The concern with logic is that one has to use their brain to solve this riddle. Problem is, the brain is hardly an ingenious work of creation, especially since man’s DNA has been genetically manipulated to produce a dumbed-down species. This is the meaning behind the story in Genesis 2 whereby God restricts man’s access to the Tree of Life (which symbolically is the double-helix structure of our DNA).
The bottom line is that man doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Just ask Socrates. Intellectuals are sometimes their own worst enemy in this regard. For example, because they are smarter than the vast majority of people, they mistake this for actually being intelligent. Unlike Socrates, they don’t realize how little they really know. Case in point is world-renown physicist Stephen Hawking who said that, “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary.”
So this time, the Wow Award goes to Hawking. You see, Hawking, an atheist, admits that one can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. Actually, props for that although he took a certain amount of flak from some of his peers for making such a statement. Then the zinger – science makes God unnecessary. From a somewhat uninterested third party, I’m stunned that Hawking would make such a statement. For sure, Hawking understands that science cannot observe what exists outside space and time. What the world is then left with, if we were to follow Hawking’s line of thinking, is that man should abandon any belief in a Creator despite the limitations of science in that regard. Actually, I think what Hawking is really suggesting is that we should make him God, instead. Who does he think he is anyway, a celebrity? Well, yes, now that they’ve turned his life story into a movie which was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
This whole problem of evil is a red herring to some extent. It presupposes that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent and it also assumes that evil is always a bad thing. Perhaps, worst of all, the problem of evil hinges on the many assumptions concerning any definition of God. After all, how could we ever know what God is like?
To you theists, please don’t say the Bible because in the Old Testament God walks, talks, is seen by various people, wrestles with Jacob and physically kills people. Totally contrary to that, the God of the New Testament is invisible, is spirit and, as John says, no one has ever seen God! Under those circumstances, any biblical definitions are rendered meaningless, especially the concepts of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence.
To you atheists, please don’t say that science can tell us because science, by definition, requires observation and measurement. So observation and measurement of Intelligent Design are out of the question. Therefore, the atheists opposition to intelligent design is not scientific, rather it’s a form of religion.
It’s interesting that the focal point of the theists vs atheists debates centers on Christianity. So, for example, why don’t the atheists attack another religion, say Buddhism, similarly? The answer is that Epicurus’ logic problem won’t work on Buddhism. So it’s expedient, even necessary, to single out Christianity in order to try and win the debate. I’d give them a Wow Award right here except for one thing – it’s a brilliant strategy. However, I defy anyone to prove to me what evil is. Who’s to say that evil isn’t really a necessity of Creation. In other words, how would you know what good is without also experiencing evil?
So the discussion about evil has to, at some point, also encompass morality. This one is kind of a sticky wicket, so to speak. What is good and what is evil, and how do you define either? There are all sorts of opinions concerning the question of morality, but two that I’ve always liked are as follows:
- Jean Paul Sartre, an atheist, said that since there was no God, man has no standard of human behavior (moral values) and without any such values man’s actions cannot be judged to be either right or wrong. For example in Existentialism is a Humanism, Sartre agreed with Dostoevsky that “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” (fromThe Brothers Karamazov)
- Douglas Wilson, a Christian theologian, said that, “If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality….”
One of the reasons that I picked those two opinions is that they are from totally contrary belief systems and yet they have a certain commonality between them. However, they are, after all, only two opinions.
Of course, the public debate over the concept of evil is only possible because of what I call the morass of Christian theology. I say morass because I’m not exactly sure what Christianity is. If you were to ask a Catholic, a Mormon and a Fundamentalist, I suspect that you might get three totally different answers; even their holy books are different. However, since the debate over evil includes a Christian definition of God, as being omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, I will likewise dip my toes into those same treacherous waters.
So at the risk of offending many of my Christian friends, I’ll try to explain the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent conundrum, as follows:
If God is an infinite being, then he could not be omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent. Those are attributes of a finite being (like man). In any event, even if God had the capability of somehow being omniscient, there are many things stated in the Bible which indicate otherwise (e.g. see Genesis 3:8-13, Genesis 11:5, Genesis 18:20-21, Genesis 32:22-30, Job 1:7, 2:2). However, the most obvious reason is the Genesis creation story where God saw that everything he created was good. However, later in Genesis 6:5-7, God repented when he realized that man was not good so he decided to destroy him. Obviously, an omniscient God would have no reason to repent for he would have known in advance how his creation would turn out. Further, with that foreknowledge, God would not have created man in the first place.
So the Christian god of the Bible was not “omni” anything. Actually, he wasn’t even God. He was simply one of “The Gods That Never Were,” which is posted a few articles back. The gods of Genesis do have one claim to fame, though, in that they have genetically passed on to man a predisposition for evil. So, if you’re an atheist, it’s probably okay to blame “God” for evil. Of course, you wouldn’t be talking about a Prime Creator/First Cause since the debate over evil really only concerns the Christian god.
The following comment from a forum on this topic kind of sums it up rather well, at least for me: “… Atheists in general require some proof or logical set of reasoning…whereas theists don’t – they simply ‘believe’. Arguments boil down to people shouting ‘I need proof or I don’t believe’ at people shouting ‘I have faith, I don’t need proof.'” While it’s true that any conversation about God has to be governed, to some degree, by logic, it doesn’t mean that we could ever use logic to comprehend such a god. Just ask Blaise Pascal. Since the laws of physics don’t apply beyond space and time, why do we arrogantly believe that logic in our world can determine what lies beyond space and time?
Obviously, you don’t have to agree with my take on this subject. I’m just trying to be a mirror to let you see what Socrates saw. Simply, that man must begin any quest for knowledge by admitting his own ignorance. In the final analysis, “faith” and “logic” are simply buzz words for not having to admit to one’s ignorance.