NOTE TO READERS

As my priorities change, important adjustments are pending to my various websites that have developed over the years—The Myth of Nazareth (archeology), this Mythicist Papers weblog (Christian origins), and now my (fairly) new Laureate website (music). I am in consultation with my Webhost-server to make LaureateMusic.com my primary domain and all other domains secondary. This is necessary to fully enable functionality (such as email) on the music domain. As you are aware, nothing is certain in cyberspace. It looks like all the files (there are literally hundreds) will have to be backed up, downloaded, and then re-uploaded to the new configuration. I plan to engage a professional to help with the transfers. Will this go without a hitch? I doubt … Continue reading

Some reflections on Inauguration Day

Whew! The U.S. of A. has managed the peaceful transfer of power. It doesn’t sound like much, but I won’t underestimate this country’s accomplishment: we sent a fabulously gifted strongman packing, one installed in our ultimate seat of power. The guardrails of democracy were tested, and they held. I say “fabulously gifted” because Donald Trump is, IMO, a spectacular one-off: a charismatic media maven cum amoral sociopath. Though some of my friends over the last several years, in their great anger, simply called him “stupid,” I never underestimated his machiavellian potential. To me, Trump was always calculating, cunning, hard-working (even driven), and anything but dumb. He has accomplished the previously unthinkable: to fashion a quasi-religious cult in the U.S.A. centered … Continue reading

My thoughts on the end of the Trump administration

I am now happily retiring the George Washington picture that has been a fixture on this blog since November 2016 (at right). It was of course Photoshopped—the sign “Not my President” is the very sign that I made and held aloft on the street corner for weeks after Trump’s stolen election four years ago (yes, Hillary really won, as former President Jimmy Carter rightly opined). I recall that Christmas when I dressed up as Santa Claus and held that sign at one of the busiest intersections in town. Well, that was not such a Merry Christmas. This Christmas will be a little merrier. Like many of you, I am (finally) breathing a sigh of relief… It’s been a long four … Continue reading

A New Account: Pt.12—Family ties (and a correction)

As you are well aware, this website is a creation in real time. It is technically a blog, a record of my researches from day to day or week to week. It is a process of discovery and you, the reader, witness that process live. Of course, I don’t have fact checkers or an editorial board. Your comments sent to this site or to my email (see “Contact” on the front page) help me correct mistakes, improve the argument, and modify statements or positions—thanks! Such corrections can also be quite fascinating. And there have been (and will be) mistakes. After all, the process of discovery is not a straight line. It’s more like a zigzag or a spiral, with occasional … Continue reading

A New Account, Pt. 11—Family ties (cont.)

The name—again In the immediately preceding post we saw that a certain Jonathan was the founder of Christianity. The Jewish rabbis who penned the Talmud several centuries later dubbed him “Yeshu ha-Notsri” ( < Gk. Iesou Nazarene, “Jesus the Nazarene”). They did so under the influence of the Christian gospels that had by the fourth century CE become well-known. The Christian evangelists, however, knew better. Through a series of permutations that need not concern us here, they demoted the figure Jonathan (“Yahweh Gives”) to a secondary prophet, John the Baptist. The Mandeans, however, preserved the name Jonathan/John for their founding prophet. The Mandeans also retained the original sense of the word Natsarene (< natsar, “preserve, keep secret”) and called their … Continue reading

A New Account, Pt. 10—Family ties

As noted in an earlier post, John or Jonathan was probably the actual name by which the Christian founder was known in his lifetime. Jonathan means “Yahweh Gives” (cf. Gk. Dositheus, “Gift of God”). Later Jewish records (the Talmud) refer to the Christian founder as Yeshu ha-Notsri, “Preserver of Salvation,” reflecting latter-day Christian developments of the name “Jesus” (→ Yeshu) and “Nazarene” ( → Notsri). John was a favorite name among the Hasmoneans. John, the person with whom we are concerned and the founder of the religion that eventually became Christianity, was the son of a Hasmonean known to history by the name of Absalom—the brother of Alexander Janneus (who was also known as “Jonathan”). Thus, John/Yeshu was a nephew … Continue reading

A New Account, Pt. 9—The ministry of Yeshu

For our purposes, the witness of the Dead Sea Scrolls must be considered much more valuable than either the Talmud or Samaritan writings, for the DSS were written within a generation or two of the events that they describe. The sectarian DSS writings (especially the Pesharim) describe contemporary events of interest to the Yachad, including political developments, the founding of their community (Damascus Document), difficult relations with the Jerusalem priesthood (MMT, etc), and the activity of the renegade preacher Yeshu/Jonathan in Samaria. These all occurred in the first half of the first century BCE: Finally, a few texts from Cave 4 actually refer to historical individuals by name. These references, though isolated, are of enormous importance, as will be seen … Continue reading

A New Account, Pt. 8—The DSS, Yeshu, and Samaria

In the previous post I identified Yeshu ha-Notrsi—whom I consider to have been the founder of Christianity—as a significant figure written about in the Dead Sea Scrolls: “the Man of the Lie.” Once this identification is made, it becomes possible to investigate the ministry and death of Yeshu via the DSS. I have already noted that Yeshu, on his return from Egyptian exile shortly after the death of Aexander Janneus in 76 BCE, probably went to Samaria. This suspicion was initially based on evidence from Samaritan sources. They, however, are very late (dating to the Middle Ages). Welcome confirmation of a period of Yeshu’s activity in Samaria is now also to be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. (a) “Therefore … Continue reading

A New Account, Pt. 7—The founder: Who was he?

Note: This post was substantially revised on 10/23/20 after its initial publication (on 8/29/2020). I incorporate new material that more correctly describes the family ties of Yeshu ha-Notsri ( = Jonathan, son of Absalom the Hasmonean).—RS Just a couple of hours ago, while researching another post that was actually scheduled for publication today (but is now forthcoming), I read a few words in the writings of Josephus that have apparently been overlooked heretofore, words that have a momentous bearing on our investigations into the founder of Christianity. The matter has to do with relations among the Hasmonean royal family, as well as with the parentage of Yeshu. Josephus writes in his Wars of the Jews: [Pompey, upon taking Jerusalem] reinstated … Continue reading

A New Account, Pt. 6—The founder: Who was he?

As we seek basic answers to the origins of Christianity, it is worth noting that we are embarked on a sublime mission, one that is as necessary as it is difficult. We are not like children playing in the sand or adults gazing at the clouds. Our purpose is essentially to understand. This is the same purpose that motivated the ancient Gnostics, the Buddhists, the shamans… It is a quintessentially human undertaking. Our purpose, however, will not meet with success except with complete dedication and a universally inclusive view. One writer has remarked:      The only person able to deal conclusively with [the link between Buddhism and Christianity] must not only be fluent in Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew, etc., but he must … Continue reading