WE ALL FEEL a certain sympathy for the cult called “British Israel” or, in this country, “Identity.” It is an attempt to make Christianity innocuous by claiming that Yahweh’s rabble of marauders, thieves, and swindlers, whose depredations are exalted in the “Old Testament,” were our Aryan and probably Anglo-Saxon ancestors. That makes it possible to claim that the Jesus of the “New Testament” was not a Jew. (1)
(1. Although highly improbable, this is not an absolute impossibility, assuming that the Jesus of the “New Testament” actually existed. I have defined the limits of improbable possibility in Christianity Today, pp. 3-15 (reprinted from Liberty Bell, November 1987).)
I therefore report the glad tidings (ex-angelium) that there is now available a new and more plausible source of inspiration for the cult.
A man named Victor Dunstan has been doing “in-depth research” (whatever that is) in the Vatican Library, the British Museum, and (oh, how appropriately!) the library of Jesus College. (2) He has presented his epochal discoveries in a book which I have not seen, but some of them are summarized in the publisher’s rather long and detailed advertisement, so I can list here for you some of the drastic revisions of Christian theology that are now requisite. I base my report on the advertisement, adding my own identifications and explanations within parentheses.
(2. Jesus College is not one of the older colleges at Oxford, since it was established as late as 1571. In prestige it ranks below Baliol, All Souls’, Magdalen, and Corpus Christi, and is about on a par with Trinity and Pembroke, and, of course, far above the even later foundations. It would be presumptuous (and hazardous) to rank the other colleges that are older than Jesus. The better Oxford colleges all have libraries of their own, which are not part of the Bodleian; for example, Baliol has one of the most important manuscripts of Cicero’s Academica posteriora, and Lincoln has another.)
The Virgin Mary’s mother (Anne) was a native of Cornwall and belonged to a wealthy and prominent family, but she made an unhappy marriage, from which she escaped by eloping to Palestine for a few years. She soon returned to merry England, however, with her (legitimate?) daughter, the Virgin Mary, who was born to wealth and culture. Her uncle (Joseph of Arimathea, who must have been either Anne’s brother or the brother of Mary’s unnamed father) was “the Onassis of his day,” a great shipowner and financier, and also “Minister of Mines in the Roman Empire.”
The Virgin Mary spent most of her life in England, where she, like her uncle, is now buried. She wasn’t a virgin very long, for “she enjoyed a very active sex life and gave birth to no less than seven children.” (The number of fathers, if known, is not stated.) While visiting her relatives, the ancestors of the British and Americans of today, in Palestine, she gave birth to her favorite son, Jesus, on whom she bestowed the name of a god that “the Druids of Britain worshipped…for hundreds of years before [the now famous] Jesus was born.” (I am sure Mr. Dunstan was clever enough to derive the later Latin form, Iesus (i.e., with consonantal I and a short ultima) from the name of the Gallic god of war, Esus or Hesus, whose sanguinary rites and blood-stained altars were compared by Lucan to those of the Tauric goddess whom we know from the Iphigenia in Tauris of Euripides.)
When Mary and her favorite son, belonging to the most wealthy and fashionable society of the day, visited her British relatives and friends in Palestine, they naturally moved in the best circles and attended “‘high life’ parties in Capernaum.” (The famous miracle of changing water into wine was presumably performed at such a party when the booze ran out.)
On one such visit, Jesus was crucified and resurrected, after which he and his mother escaped from Palestine under assumed names “by boat” (doubtless a ship belonging to Mary’s uncle, “the Onassis of his day”) and returned to their native land, where the first Christian church in the world was established by Paul, “a half-brother to one of the Roman commanders in Britain” and “a friend of the British Royal Family.” That royal family, in which Mary’s uncle had “fathered a British queen” (perhaps by an unofficial intervention), supplied the first Christian Bishop.
Although Jesus has a strange taste for going slumming — he was hard on the money-changers in the Temple, but “he never whipped anyone out of a brothel” — his family belonged to the upper classes and sponsored the new religion in their interests. The real disciples were rich and influential property-owners and business men; the tale about “simple fishermen” fitted the “myth of Jesus’ poverty,” which “was a convenient way for the Church to make the poor satisfied with their lot. Good ‘sob stuff’ religion!”
I have told you enough to show you how Mr. Dunstan’s “in-depth research” can make of “Identity” a plausible and attractive cult. I am sure you are eager to learn more, but I must refer you to his epochal book, Did the Virgin Mary Live and Die in England? So rush eight pounds in British currency to the publishers, Unusual Books, 5 High Street, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands. Better add two pounds for air mail and special delivery so you won’t have to wait so long.
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Source: Liberty Bell magazine, June 1989