Four months ago I began the latest series of posts, “A New Account of Christian Origins.” Numbering sixteen entries, the series has covered a lot of territory—from my views regarding the emergence of the Catholic religion in the middle of the second century CE, to the non-existence of Paul, of Marcion, and of the earliest Church Fathers (Clement of Rome, Papias, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna). While freely admitting that I may not be correct regarding all of these propositions, I am fairly confident that the most important will stand the test of time. At the very least, the onus is shifting onto the tradition to demonstrate to an increasing number of skeptics that the major figures in the Christian confessional narrative (including Jesus of Nazareth) actually existed.
This most recent series of posts (numbering 28) forms a sequel to 27 posts focussing on Yeshu ha-Notsri, the early first century BCE prophet whom I am thoroughly convinced was the founder of the religion we call “Christianity.” I have held this view for the last decade and offered a 75-page summary of my Yeshu hypothesis in the 2015 book NazarethGate (Chp. 14). That, together with other posts on this website, furnish a fairly in-depth treatment of what amounts to a radical revision of Christian origins. Time will tell whether this ‘new account‘ merits attention and, if so, whether it will impact the general understanding of Christian origins.
In all, then, fifty-five posts on this website as well as a book chapter offer the reader a focussed introduction to my views on the foundations of Christianity, beginning with a prophet who lived in the early first century BCE and continuing with an ‘alternate’ history of his gnostic successors, eventually leading to the Catholic invention of Jesus of Nazareth in the mid-second century CE.
The remaining posts on this site (numbering over 300!) furnish additional detail and background, from ancient precursors to Yeshu’s thought (including Buddhism) to contemporary commentary. I hope eventually to put much of this material in book form. However, I’m now past my seventieth birthday and wonder whether that book will ever be written. In any case, we have at least the foregoing…
There are some loose ends, of course. I had wanted to explore Yeshu’s actual ministry (mostly in Samaria). Evidence for this exists in Samaritan writings (where Yeshu appears under the cipher “Dusis”) and in the Dead Sea Scriptures (where Yeshu appears as “the Man of the Lie”). I strongly suspect that the Dead Sea Sect was itself a breakaway subsect of Yeshu’s followers, led by a self-proclaimed Teacher of Righteousness who, though a proto-gnostic himself, could not countenance the wholesale rejection of the Jewish heritage that Yeshu taught. So, in my view, the Dead Sea Sect was an ultra-Jewish reaction to Yeshu’s thought, yet one that preserved tantalizing elements of his gnosticism.
And so, the line between Judaism and Christianity blurs. With the beginnings of Christianity moving back a century, a considerable amount of literature now classified as “inter-testamental” and relegated to the Jewish pseudepigrapha will eventually have to be reclassified as “Early Christian.”
Of course, my views reflect very poorly upon the subsequent Christian Church(es). Christianity is founded upon the Big Lie—the incarnation, existence, and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth—and also on many lesser (?) lies: the doctrines of atonement and redemption, the ideas of a God, an afterlife, heaven and hell, and a last judgement. Nevertheless, after we remove all this dross, it is my belief that a remarkable prophet shines forth, one who taught us to ‘seek and find’ and who was crucified by the Jewish aristocracy of his time. And that is indeed a compelling story.
So, this blog is returning to ‘sleep mode.’ (The first time was here.) The reasons are several. First of all, I would like to put my musical compositions in order, copyright them, and place them in the hands of competent musicians. Then, too, I’d like to write a couple more books. One is a journal cum travelogue written in the summer of 2001 when I was in a Buddhist meditation center in Sri Lanka. The other is my autobiography, tentatively entitled “Notes of a Would-be Musician.”
I would also love to have the time and energy to read through the Mandean writings. A lot there is late and (admittedly) bizarre. On the other hand, there are certainly early passages that comment (negatively) on Catholicism and that even go back to the turn of the era. Contained in those writings are some of the earliest views of the Jesus followers, of those who followed a certain gnostic “John the Baptist,” a man born into Jewish royalty and privilege who renounced all in the early first century BCE in order to teach a new way, namely, the fulfilling path to enlightenment. The Talmud records him as a great heretic, one who gathered many followers and who was astonishingly successful in Israel, sufficiently so to seriously disturb the Pharisees who, for about a decade, enjoyed a brief period of unlimited power (during the reign of Salome Alexandra). They captured the prophet known to his followers as “The Savior, Guardian of Secret Wisdom”—Yeshu ha-Notsri—accorded him a full religious trial before the Great Sanhedrin, waited forty days according to protocol, and then executed him by stoning and hanging his body upon a tree for all to see.
There is no value to Yeshu’s story at all unless, that is, one accords value to the simple truth. That is the only reason I personally engaged in this quest, for in all the years I’ve devoted to research into Christian origins no pecuniary profit at all has come my way. Quite the contrary—it would be difficult to estimate the thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars represented by the time and effort of countless hours voluntarily devoted to this labor of love in abiding service to the truth. And yet, while remaining a poor man as the world judges wealth, I sense with a calm and abiding certainty that the work I have accomplished has not been in vain.
It is now up to you to carry that work forward, in service to nothing but the truth.