20 Reasons that Jesus Lived in the First Century B.C.:
“The extent to which orthodox writers admit many of the premises on which my arguments are based is something that deserves greater publicity. Hoskyns and Davey not only concede that some of the earliest references to Jesus’ passion are adapted from Isaiah and that the gospel accounts of the crucifixion draw extensively on Ps. Xxii; they even stress the following considerations which are of prime importance to my account of Christian origins:
(I) If, when St Paul was writing, stories about Jesus were being carefully treasured and passed on from mouth to mouth, it seems strange that only in one or two places does he definitely quote them (I4I, p. I47).
(2) The Pauline and Johannine writings . . . imply that the historical figure of Jesus, the life which he lived in the flesh, is of little importance in comparison with the experiuence of the ‘Christ-Spirit’ possessed by primitive Christians (p. I5I). And—
(3) This conception of the relation of history to spiritual experience is exactly that of the contemporary religions of the Greco-Roman world. These, the mystery religions, althoyugh higly diverse in details, agree in attaching themselves to some story of a hero god or gods. They make no pretence to show the validity of the story as history.”
-George Albert Wells, The Jesus of the Early Christians, page 317
1. The Sepher Toldoth Yeshu literature places Jesus as living in the time of Alexander Jannaeus, who ruled from 103 to 76 B.C. Long-suppressed by the church and at other times used to scapegoat the Jews, this anti-gospel was wide circulated in the 800’s A.D. It describes how Yeshu’s mother, Mary Magdalene, was betrothed to a nobleman of the House of David named Yohanan, but that a neighbor named Yosef (Joseph) ben Panthera forced her to have sex with him while she was on her period and in the dark so that she believed him to be her fiancé. As a child, Yeshu challenges his teachers, similar to a description of Jesus’ childhood in Luke. He is able to perform miracles, but only by stealing the name of God from the Temple. The wise men accuse him of sorcery, but Jesus is able to raise a man from the dead in front of Queen Salome, making her a believer. Jesus then goes to Galilee and brings clay birds back to life, similar to miracles from apocryphal infancy gospels. He raises a millstone which allows him to walk on water. Judas learns the divine name as well in order to fight in aerial combat, another theme found in apocrypha and probably origin of the “falling“ death of Judas in Acts of the Apostles. Saying #105 of the Apocryphal Gospel fo Thomas has Jesus say, “Whoever knows the father and the mother will be called the child of a whore.” This saying matches Yeshu’s retaliation in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu in which Yeshu says at the place of his birth, “Who are these bad men who report me to be a bastard and of impure birth? They are themselves bastards and impure. Did not a virgin bear me? Did not my mother conceive me in the top of her head?” Jesus is arrested, beaten, and hung on a carob tree, and then buried in Judas’ garden. Judas moves the body to keep his cabbages from being trampled by onlookers and Jesus’ apostles claim that his body ascended. Queen Salome orders the wise men to produce Jesus’ body on pain of death. Judas then reveals where he hid the body, which is dug up, dragged around Jerusalem, and then shown to the Queen. The story was still being circulated in the 1500’s, which so enraged Martin Luther that he wrote a scathing rebuke of it in which he mocks the Jews as “raving, ranting, senseless, foaming fools” for having written it. Some 1300 years before that, elements of the story are mentioned by the African church leader Tertullian, who makes reference to a gardener hiding the body of Jesus, and the Egyptian theologian Origen refutes the claim made by the Greek philosopher Celsus that Jesus was fathered by a Roman soldier named Panthera, both of which prove that core portions of the anti-gospel were known in the early 200’s A.D. and probably earlier. Being a relative of Queen Salome, as suggested by the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu, Jesus would have had a much greater claim to the throne of David than a Galilean peasant. This would have also included the title of High Priest, an office which had orchestrated by the royal dynasty ever since the Maccabee Revolt, despite the fact the Maccabees were not Levites as was traditionally required by the laws of Moses.
2. The heresiologist and church father Epiphanius, writing in the 300’s A.D., also puts Jesus during the time of King Jannaeus and Queen Salome, saying: “For with the advent of Christ, the succession of the princes of Judah, who reigned until Christ Himself, ceased. The order [of succession] failed and stopped at the time when He was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Alexander [Jannaeus], who was of high-priestly and royal race; and after this Alexander this lot failed, from the times of himself and Salina [Salome?], who is called Alexandra, for the times of Herod the King and Augustus Emperor of the Romans; and this Alexander, one of the Christs and ruling princes placed the crown on his own head… After this a foreign king, Herod, and those who were no longer of the family of David, assumed the crown.” Epiphanius shows he has no knowledge of Judean history, however, as Jannaeus and Salome lived long before Herod the Great.
3. The Babylonian Talmud says that Yeshu was stoned and hung on Passover eve for practicing sorcery and leading Israel astray (Sanhedrin, 43A). His death on Passover matches that of the Gospel of John. Just like in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu, 40 days were set aside for anyone to come forward and plead in his favor, but no favor was said to have been found. The stoning to death of Yeshu also matches the events in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu rather than the gospels and may have originally formed the basis for the story of the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in Acts. Other references made in the Talmud writings use the names: Yeshu Ben Stada, Yeshu Ben Panthera, and Balaam-Yeshu, in which Jesus is scorned for being a bastard and a sorcerer. Saying #105 of the Gospel of Thomas says, “Whoever knows the Father and the Mother will be called the child of a whore.” According to the Book of Deuteronomy, a bastard does not share in the congregation of Yahweh, nor his or her children to the tenth generation (23:2). The name Yeshu has been used in Jewish literature as an acronym yemach shemo vezichro, “May his name and memory be obliterated.” Refusing to utter the name of a heretic was a common Jewish practice. For example, in Acts of the Apostles, a Roman soldier confuses Paul’s Messiah with another nameless Egyptian “who started a revolt and led 4,000 terrorists out into the desert” (21:38). Using it in this instance implies that the name of Jesus originated as a term used in place of his real name so that it would be forgotten and lost to history.
4. The 12th century Spanish philosopher, physician, and historian, Abraham ben Daud, is recorded in Dr. Adolph Neubauer’s Medieval Jewish Chronicles from 1887 as saying: “The Jewish history-writers say that Joshua ben Perachiah was the teacher of Yeshu ha-Notzri [the Nazarene], according to which the latter lived in the day of King Janni [Jannaeus]; the history-writers of the other nations, however, say that he was born in the days of Herod and was hanged in the days of his son Archelaus. This is a great difference, a difference of more than 110 years.” This seems to indicate that the version of history in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu was not a tradition, but the tradition of Judaism all the way up to the 1100’s. An Arab historian named Aboulfatah, writing in the 1300s, said that the followers of Dositheus, a rival of Simon Magus who is mentioned in the Pseudo-Clementine literature, also placed Simon Magus as living 100 B.C. (although this contradicted his own belief that Simon Magus was a student of John the Baptist).
5. Mara Ben Serapion, writing from a Syrian prison between 73 and 165 A.D., places a nameless “wise king” as having lived shortly before the fall of kingdom of Judea in 30 B.C. This king is said to have been killed by “the Jews” but did not “die for good; he lived on in the teaching he had given.” Like Mara’s reference, the name of Jesus is also notably missing from the early Roman writers who speak of Christianity: Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, and Lucian of Samosata. In the one case in which Jesus is named, in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, it is almost unanimously accepted by scholars as being at least a partial forgery and which I argue is a double-forgery and completely inauthentic. Judging from the context of the entire passage (there is both a thematic and a chronological problem with it), along with evidence that the passage is missing from other lost versions of Josephus, it is far more likely to be a complete forgery.
6. In the first part of the Talmud, the Mishnah, there is a story of a scholar known as Honi the Circle-Drawer, who performed miracles in the tradition of Elijah and Elisha during the reign of King Jannaeus and Queen Salome. (The gospels of Mark and Matthew likewise compare Jesus to Elijah nine times.) Robert Eisenman places Honi the Circle Drawer in the Zaddik, or “Righteous” tradition, along with Phineas, Elijah, and James the Just/Righteous. When there had been no characteristic winter rains in Israel, it was said that Honi prayed for rain (Ta’anit 3:8). When that did not work, he drew a circle around himself in the dust and swore on God’s name that he would not move until God “had compassion on his children.” When it began to drizzle, Honi prayed, saying, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of benevolence, blessing, and graciousness.” Then it poured so much that the Israelites came up and told Honi to pray for it to stop. Honi tells them to see if the “Stone of Claimants,” the Jerusalem 'Lost and Found,' has been washed away. Rabbi Simon Ben Shetach, the brother of Queen Salome, then sent Honi a message saying, that if it had not been him who had been him who acted so petulant before God, he would have excommunicated him: “But what shall I do to you, for you act like a spoiled child before God and He does your will for you, like a son who acts like a spoiled child with his father and he does his will for him?” Simon Ben Shetach is the also the Pharisee who has Yeshu captured and killed in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu. Hence, the Gospel of Mark, which is hostile towards the disciples, especially Peter, James, and John, has the reincarnated Jesus implicitly compare Simon Ben Shetach to the apostle Peter by giving Simon his name. Honi’s ability to control the weather is characteristic of the gospel story of Jesus calming the storm. The Mishnah also tells how Honi talks to a man planting a carob tree that would only grow fruit after a 70 year wait. Them man tells Honi that he is doing it for his children, but Honi questions the wisdom of this and falls asleep under the carob tree thinking about it. After 70 years, he wakes up and sees the man’s grandson harvesting the carobs and a flock of mules descended from one donkey. He later overhears the sages saying, “This tradition is as clear to us now as it was in the days of Honi the Circle Maker,” but when Honi tells them who he is, they don’t believe him (Ta’anit 23a). The story is a representation of how traditions change far beyond what their original founder intended. Since Honi was killed and hung on a tree some time around 70 B.C., 70 years would bring him to about the time the gospel Jesus was born. It is also the time the kingdom of Judea was transferred from the Hasmonean puppet dynasty directly to Roman control in 6 A.D., which would most likely have brought about a great amount of nostalgia for a return to a Jewish state led by a Jewish king.
7. In Antiquities of the Jews, Honi is referred to by the Greek form of his name, Onias, and is said to be a “righteous man” who “especially loved God.” It recounts how Onias had brought rain during a drought and adds that he hid himself during the civil war that erupted between Salome’s sons, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. When Aristobulus besieged Hyrcanus inside Jeruslem, Onias was captured and brought to Hyrcanus, where he was ordered to curse Aristobulus’ army. Onias instead spoke to the crowd saying, “Oh God, King of the universe, since these men standing beside me are your people, and those who are besieged are your priests, I ask you not to pay any attention to them against these men, nor to bring to pass what these men ask you to do against those others.” For this, Hyrcanus had him stoned to death, and although Hyrcanus won out over his brother, he eventually put too much trust in Herod’s father, a general named Antipater the Idumaean, and lost his kingdom to Antipater and the Romans. In 40 B.C., Aristobulus’ son cut the ears off Hyrcanus so as to make him ineligible for the office of high priest. This is paralleled by the gospel story of one of Jesus’ disciples cutting off the ear of the servant to the high priest, and also seems to have an ironic reference in the often repeated phrase given by Jesus, “Let those who have ears hear.” Honi is believed to be a descendant of Onias IV, the high priest who fled to Egypt when his uncle, Yehoshua (called Jason) bought the priesthood from Antiochus Epiphanes and deposed the rightful high priest, his father, Onias III. This may have been the origin of the “escape to Egypt” story in the Gospel of Matthew. The priesthood was then usurped again by Menelaus, which is confirmed in 2 Maccabees. Josephus reports that Onias III was himself executed in “the inviolable sanctuary of Daphne, near Antioch,” after Menelaus and a nobleman named Andonicus lured him out of the garden sanctuary with sworn pledges of nonviolence. This theme holds a parallel with Jesus surrendering in the Garden of Gethsemane in the name of peace, saying, “Am I leading a rebellion…?” As Josephus points out, the death of Onias III was not just some isolated factoid of little historical importance: “As a result, not only the Jews, but many people of other nations as well, were indignant and angry over the unjust murder of the man.” In Egypt, Onias IV bought some land from Ptolemy Philometor near Heliopolis and had a Jewish temple built there. Unlike the Maccabee priests, the Onias dynasty came from the Zadokite line as the Old Testament demanded, and went back to Onias I, who was priest during the time of Alexander the Great. If Honi the Circle Drawer was a descendant of Onias III, then this would have made him the rightful heir to the Jerusalem priesthood, which would explain certain verses in the Epistle to the Hebrews, such as: “When Christ came as high priest, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.” (9:11).
8. As shown by Dr. Randel McCraw Helms, the Book of Daniel identifies “the Anointed One,” or Messiah, as Onias III in its prophecy of the Apocalypose. It says, “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes there will be seven weeks and 62 ‘weeks.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the 62 ‘weeks,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue with many for one ‘week.’ In the middle of the ‘week,’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the Temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (9:25). The seven ‘weeks’ represents 49 years between the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 587 B.C. to the building of the second in 538 B.C.. The 62 ‘weeks’ represents 434 years from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 605 B.C. until Onias III was assassinated in 171 B.C. The ’half-week’ represents the 4 years between then and Antiochus putting an end to sacrifices and offerings in 167 B.C., when he set up a the “abomination that causes desolation,” a clear reference to the sacrifice of pigs upon an altar of Zeus which was set up in the Jerusalem Temple by Antiochus. The last ‘week’ represents the seven years between the death of Onias III and the rededication by Judas Maccabee in 164 B.C. Thus, the “70 years” originally prophesized by Jeremiah became 70 ‘weeks’ of years, or 490 years, divided into a seven-week period, a 62-week period, and a final one-week period.
9. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in caves near Qumran in the 1940s, describe an Essene sect which revolved around a nameless leader called “the Teacher of Righteousness.” Carbon dating and other methods have generally placed the scrolls as being on the early side of the 160 B.C. to 70 A.D. One of the scrolls mentions King Jannaeus, placing it in the same time frame as the Sepher Toldolth Yeshu, the Talmud, and Mara Ben Serapion’s nameless king. The moniker “Teacher of Righteousness” can be seen as being equivalent to the title “Chrestus,” as referenced by Suetonius, generally believed to be a misspelling of “Christus,” yet the word in fact means “Righteous One.” It also parallels the epithet given to the “brother of the Lord,” James the “Just”/“Righteous.” Like Christ, it was believed that the Teacher of Righteousness would one day return to judge the world. He was also connected to an obscure king in the Book of Genesis, Melchizedek, a clear parallel with the Epistle to the Hebrews. Both sects were apocalyptic and heavily dependent on the Books of Enoch and Daniel. Like gospel Jesus, the Teacher of Righteousness also seems to have been in contention with the Jerusalem priesthood, since his enemy is known as the “Wicked Priest.” Fragment 7 of the heavily damaged scroll, 4Q285, also called the “Slain Messiah Text,“ makes mention of several key Christian phrases, saying: “Isaiah the Prophet… the scepter shall go forth from the root of Jesse [father of David]… branch of David and they shall be judges… and they put to death the leader of the community, the branch… with piercing and the priest shall command…. the slain of the Romans…” The Essene community has also been shown to have a strong link with Antioch, the city Acts identifies as the place where people first began calling themselves Christians and the city that the Epistle to the Galatians places the church of Cephas (Peter). The Book of Enoch, found with the Dead Sea Scrolls, is the only known literature that describes how evil came about from the fallen angels Samael and Azazel, the closest parallel to the Christian concept of Satan and his angels falling from heaven, as described in the Book of Revelation. The Book of Enoch has also been found in the Nag Hammadi library and was accepted by Orthodox Christianity until the Council of Lacedonia in 363 A.D. However, the book continued to be accepted as inspired by Ethiopian Christians all the way into modern times. One of the original Dead Sea Scroll scholars, John Allegro, as well as Andre Dupont-Sommer, have theorized that Christianity is based on the Essene sect. According to Dupont-Sommer’s interpretation, the Wicked Priest attacked and killed the Teacher of Righteousness on the Day of Atonement, when Jews were forbidden by the Law of Moses to defend themselves. It has also been argued that the Teacher of Righteousness was the outcast High Priest whose name was wiped out by the Maccabean dynasty that installed their own non-Zadokite high priests. A top contender of the Teacher of Righteousness is Honi III, making the connection between Jesus and Honi the Circle Drawer even stronger.
10. The Pauline epistles make no mention of a Roman crucifixion but rather speaks of Jesus as being “hung on a tree,” the same way he is killed in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu. The word stauroo, which is normally translated as “crucified,” can also be translated as “staked.” The First Epistle to the Thessalonians identifies the Jews, not the Romans, as the ones who killed Jesus, which also better fits the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and Mara Ben Serapion. Other details of Jesus’ life and teachings are almost completely missing from Paul, and even the name of the following, called “the Church of God,” gives no credit to Jesus as founder. James and Peter are portrayed as competing apostles rather than literal disciples of Christ. Although the names of many otherwise unknown apostles are spoken of, no one from any of the gospels are mentioned, with the sole exception of Pontius Pilate in 1 Timothy, a late Pastoral epistle unknown to Christian writers before it was introduced into the Apostolic church’s canon by St. Irenaeus around 177 A.D. Rather than giving the impression of a small, recent sect based on the traditions handed down by a Galilean peasant, the Pauline epistles give the impression of a very large religion already divorced from Judaism and made up of divergent sects that followed the divine messages of various apostles. None of the early Christians epistles provide any literary evidence for Christ being identified with the same person as the gospel Jesus. This includes: James, Jude, 1 John, 1 Peter, Revelation, Hebrews, the apocryphal Shepherd of Hermas, the Didakhe, 1 Clement, and Barnabas. These epistles follow the same format as the Pauline epistles, making no mention of any gospel personalities or events. The earliest epistle to positively identify Christ as a Galilean peasant crucified under Pontius Pilate is St. Ignatius. The late pseudo-epistle 2 Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (1:16) The writer also claims to have “heard the voice” of God at Jesus’ baptism despite the fact that Jesus had not gathered his disciples at that point, showing a tendency to interpret the gospel literally, as opposed to others who read them as “stories.” It also denigrates “false teachers” who “secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them,” proving that the gospels were interpreted by some Christians as symbolic fiction in antiquity.
11. The Passion of Jesus as told in the gospels is derived from a story told in Antiquities of the Jews, in which a man named “Jesus, son of Ananus,” another peasant who is said to have predicted the destruction of the Second Temple. He bewails brides and bridegrooms just as the gospel Jesus bewails pregnant women and nursing mothers. He speaks to the general populace but is silent before the authorities rather than defend himself, similar to the gospel Jesus. He is questioned before the Roman procurator Albinus similar to the way the gospel Jesus is taken before Pilate, and is questioned and dismissed as a madman, also similar to the gospels. Like the gospel Jesus, he is also whipped to the bone yet gives no ill words to his tormentors. The son of Ananus dies with the destruction of the Second Temple, just as the gospel crucifixion and the ripping of the temple curtain symbolizes its future destruction. Other elements of the Passion can be found in Philo‘s Flaccus, such as the taking of a madman named “Carabbas” (similar to the gospel character Barabbas), and dressing him up like a king so as to salute and hail him in a mocking fashion (6:36).
12. The crucifixion of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark symbolizes the destruction of the Second Temple in many ways. Jesus is crucified along side two robbers, representing the zealot robbers who fought among themselves and burned Jerusalem’s grain supplies before the city was overtaken by Titus. The darkness that covered the land represents the intense smoke that blanketed the sky as the temple burned. The cry that Jesus makes, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” would have been the typical Jewish response to the event. The curtain of the temple is torn in two as Jesus dies. Simon the Cyrenian carrying the cross of Jesus in turn symbolizes the Sicarii revolt in the heavily Jewish city of Cyrene, put down by Vespasian in 73 A.D. or in the Kitos War in the 115 A.D. Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus told a parable of a man who planted a vineyard and rented it to some farmers before going on a journey. The man sent servants to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard, but each of them were either beaten or killed. The man, representing God, then sent his son, thinking they would respect him, but the farmers decide to kill him for his inheritance, symbolizing the usurping of the priesthood from the Onias dynasty. The renters then throw his body in a garden vineyard, which is where Jesus’ body is hung in the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu.
13. At the end of the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene mistakes the risen Jesus for “the gardener.” Although this makes little sense in its current context, the riddle is answered when one considers that Gnostic scripture has been shown to portray Judas “the twin” Thomas and Judas the betrayer as being one and the same person: the twin brother of Jesus. In the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu, Judas is a gardener who moves Yeshu’s body to stop people from trampling his garden to visit the Messiah’s grave. Thus, Mary Magdalene would have thought the risen Jesus was Judas because they looked exactly alike. This proves that earlier Gnostic versions of the Gospel of John used by Cerinthus and the Valentinans retained mythical elements common to the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu. The Sepher Toldoth Yeshu also tells of Yeshu hiding a scroll with the name of God inside his thigh, which seems to symbolize a religious tattoo. The laws of Moses forbade tattoos, but the Book of Revelation seems to confirm this by saying, “He [Jesus] has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself… On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: ‘King of King and Lord of Lords.’” (19:11).
14. In Against Heresies, written around 177 A.D., St. Irenaeus is the first to claim that there are four and only four legitimate gospels, and he bases this on the fact that there are four winds, four corners of the earth, four visionary animals in the Book of Revelation, etc. He claims that each of them was misused by a different Gnostic sect, but each of these gospels contain elements connecting it to that particular sect, which makes it far more likely that Irenaeus’ Apostolic Church adapted four Gnostic gospels for their own canon. For example, the Gospel of Matthew was used by Jewish Ebionites who still kept the Laws of Moses and it is in this gospel that Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.” The Gospel of Luke in turn was used by Docetic Marcionites who believed Jesus had no physical body and it is in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus walks through people and disappear when people tried to stone him. The Valentians were most interested in God’s relationship to the universe and the principals of the Logos and Sophia, which would explain why it is the most theological of the four gospels and why it focuses so much more on Mary Magdalene, so much so that Catholic Magister Artium Ramon K. Jusino has argued that the identity of the “Disciple that Jesus Loved” was originally Mary Magdalene. The earliest gospel, Mark, is said to have been used by those who believed that “Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered.” This Gnostic sect was also known as the Adoptionist because they believed that the spirit of Christ adopted the body of the gospel Jesus when he was baptized in the Jordan river by John the Baptist and that it left him when he was crucified. The Gospel of Mark is the only gospel to introduce Jesus with the Baptism with the Spirit acting as his prime motivator. This belief is consistent with the belief that the original Christ had already died.
15. Damascus was conquered by Tigranes II in 72 B.C., and in 69 Cleopatra Selene was arrested and killed at the age of 66, effectively ending 250 years of Seleucid rule. Tigranes II was the first to mint Armenian coins, and the coins he produced after adopting the Seleucid practice show him wearing a crown showing a star with a curved tail on it. An ABC News article from May 19, 2004 tells how American and Italian researches have suggested that the shooting star is a reference to Halley’s Comet, which should have been visible in the sky on August 6, 87 B.C. Alexander Jannaeus also minted widow’s mite coins with stars and anchors on them. Some theologians have suggested that the comet’s return in 12 B.C. may help explain the story of the Star of Bethlehem, although the date is too early for both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Unlike most astronomical phenomenon, a comet would be one of the few kinds of “shining stars” that could appear to be pointing in a particular direction. Tigranes may have seen Halley’s comet as heralding a new era of Armenian supremacy, as he took on the later Christian title of “King of Kings.” Cicero spoke of his success in war as making “the Republic of Rome tremble before the prowess of his arms.” Dating Yeshu’s birth at 87 would make him about 9 years old when he was excommunicated by Joshua ben Perachiah on the way from Egypt to Jerusalem. Assuming Queen Alexandra was Queen Helene, Yeshu would have had to of visited her some time from between when he was 11 and 20 years old. Cleopatra Selene, another possibility, would have been dethroned by the time he was 15 and dead when he was 18.
16. No writer who lived contemporary with the gospel Jesus is known to have written about him. Philo, who lived between 25 B.C. and 47 A.D., had intimate knowledge of Galilee and Judea and wrote a great deal about the politics and religion of the area, but made no mention of Jesus or any of his disciples. Yet his form of Hellenistic Judaism was so similar to Christianity in regards to Greek concepts such as the Logos that the Father of Church History, Eusebeus, believed that Philo must have taken his ideas from the gospels. Justus of Tiberius was a native of Galilee and wrote a history covering his time, but Photius, a Christian scholar and critic of from the 800’s records that the book failed to mention Jesus.
17. Historical proof of a first century Nazareth has never been found. The town does not show up in the Jewish Talmud, which lists 63 Galilean towns. Nazareth does not show up in any of the 39 books of the Old Testament, nor in any Jewish apocrypha. Josephus, who himself lived in Galilee, lists towns throughout the province as well, but completely misses Nazareth. The Gospel of Luke says the village was located on the precipice of a mountain, but today’s Nazareth is in a depression surrounded by small hills. Archaeological digs have found first century funerary equipment which would have made the area ritually unclean to Jews. The city could possibly be a fictional name based on nazir (a Nazarite vow of separation and sobriety), netzer (the Hebrew word for branch), Notzrim (the Syrian name for Christians), Nazoraioi (another common name for Christians), or Nazarene (the name for a Mandaean high priest holding secret knowledge). The Gospel of Thomas makes this implication in saying that the name is symbolic for “Truth.”
18. The teachings of the Synoptic gospels are very close to Cynic writings, rooted in Socratic philosophy. In Meditations, The Stoic Emperor Marcus Aurelius quotes Socrates’ pupil Antisthenes, saying, “It is royal to do good and be abused,” which can be compared to the beatitude found in the Gospel of Matthew, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (5:10). The Cynic Epistle of Pseudo-Diogenes contains a verse reminiscent of the instructions that Jesus gives to his disciples regarding the bare necessities on which to travel. The spirit of Heracles is said to inhabit the philosopher who trades his club in for a walking staff, suggesting a similar peace reform within Christianity alluded to by the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu. Thus the spirit of a “new Heracles” as a poor wandering Cynic can be compared to the gospel conception of the “new Jesus” as a poor wandering healer. Both represent the taking of an older myth and adapting it with a pacifistic philosophy.
19. Ideas and language from Pauline epistles and 1 Clement to St. Augustine can be traced back to Neo-Platonism, and still plays a large part in the Greek Orthodox Church. Articles of faith like reincarnation and Purgatory can be traced back to Dionysus and Orphic cults like that of Pythagoras. The influences of Aristotle and Pythagoras are also alluded to by Mara Ben Serapion. Gnostic findings in Egypt show a further link with Plato, Hermes Trismagestus, and Enoch. Dualistic conceptions of angels and demons can be traced back to Zoroastrianism. The concept of a fiery hell appears to have originated in the Neo-Pythagoreanism of volcanic Sicily. Easter and Christmas are the heavily-altered remains of Norse and Mithraic holy days based on the seasons. Mystical concepts such as the god of rebirth being hung on a tree and the consumption of bread and wine as the flesh and blood of a god are rooted in Pagan and ancient Goddess religions. The symbols of the cross, the fish, and the labarum, or chi-ro (X-P), have all been used in non-Christian religions as well. All of this shows that the traditions of Christianity have been inherited from multiple sources continuously evolving through multiple avenues over a long period of time rather than produced ex nihilo from a single Galilean peasant movement. If the foundation of Christianity is rooted in the 30’s, it would have had only 20 years to become so thoroughly Hellenized that not one Christian document in Hebrew or Aramaic has ever been found, despite all of the new discoveries of the modern world. Gnosticism, rather, more likely developed from the mixture of Essenism, Pagan mystery religions, and the Hellenized Judaism of Philo. The Apostolic Church, based in Rome and France, but theologically rooted in John the Elder’s Presbyter church in Turkey, based its religion on the literal interpretation of four Gnostic gospels and heavily edited Marcionite epistles.
20. Both Delbert Burkett have and John Domonic Crossan has shown that the Passion narrative relies on an early tradition of Jesus being executed solely by Jewish authorities, though neither considers that tradition to be historic. Burkett quotes a reference to Yeshu being hung in the Babylonian Talmud but only offers it as a possible connection to the source, and is ultimately ambivalent as to whether the “Sanhedrin Trial Source” began as a legend about Jesus or Stephen. The way Acts 7-8 built up the otherwise unknown Stephen, especially compared to how ungracefully James is killed off with barely an explanation later, has always been been very conspicuous. Stephen’s long speech on the history of Israel is one that would normally be placed in the mouth of someone in much higher authority. The German-Jewish historian of religion Hans-Joachim Schoeps and the American Biblical scholar, historian, archaeologist, and professor Emeritus of Jewish studies Robert Eisenman have hypothesized that the story was originally meant for James but that the author of Acts changed it in order to help distance the brother of Jesus and the Jerusalem church from Hellenistic Christainity (Eisenman 77f). Josephus likewise tells how a servant of Caesar named Stephen was robbed and when the soldier who tracked the thieves down found a Hebrew Bible and burned it, it caused a great uproar in the region. However, given the story’s relationship to the Passion, and the more direct link with the stoning of Yeshu, it would also make sense for the editor of Luke-Acts to rewrite a story about Yeshu being stoned into the story of Stephen’s martyrdom. Crossan finds additional pre-canoincal elements from the hypothetical Cross Gospel that happens to match up with elements in the Toldoth. “Although it defies historical plausibility, it is “the people” who crucify Jesus and not the soldiers. One should imagine “the people” stoning Jesus to death, but it took soldiers to execute by crucifxion.” This “historical implausibility” makes more sense if the author of the Cross Gospel was trying to link the crucifixion of the gospel Jesus with the first century B.C. stoning death of Yeshu. Crossan’s determination of an earlier tradition of Jesus being buried by his enemies rather than his friends is also present in the Toldoth. Crossan also comes to the conclusion that the original Cross Gospel used only the word presbyteros, or “elders,” to reference the Jewish authorities and that as time progressed, other labels like “chief priests,” “scribes,” and “Pharisees” were added into the gospels (including the Gospel of Peter) through “redactional word integration.” Crossan explains that he came to the conclusion that “elders” was the original term because it is the only term used in every group. The Toldoth, likewise, does not use any of the words “chief priests,” “scribes” or “Pharisees,” but only “wise men” and “elders.” Finally, Crossan points out that the reed used to hit Jesus with in Mark 15.19 was part of a combined tradition of royal mockery and scapegoat abuse also present in the Gospel of Barnabas and the Sibylline Oracles. In the earlier tradition present in the Cross Gospel, the reed was instead used to nudge, but Mark used it in his story to have the elders beating Jesus with it, and Matthew used it as a false scepter. The Jewish Life of Jesus instead has Yeshu struck with a pomegranate staff, which as Frank Zindler points out, appears to be the more authentic than the tradition from Mark. Since the staff is a more common household item, it would stand to reason that it was the original weapon in the royal mockery tradition before it became conflated with the scapegoat abuse tradition. All of these comparisons provide evidence to believe that hte traditions reflected in the Toldoth are far older than are commonly believed.