A Surfeit of Jesuses
Do you really think it all began with a sanctimonious Jewish wonder-worker, strolling about 1st century Palestine? Prepare to be enlightened. There were many Jesuses but the fable was a cultural construct (and, by the way, following a star would lead you in circles).
WAS THERE A Jesus? Of course there was a Jesus — many!
The archetypal Jewish hero was Joshua (the successor of Moses) otherwise known as Yehoshua (Yeshua) bin Nun (‘Jesus of the fish’). Since the name Jesus (Yeshua or Yeshu in Hebrew, Iesous in Greek, source of the English spelling) originally was a title (meaning ‘saviour’, derived from ‘Yahweh Saves’) probably every band in the Jewish resistance had its own hero figure sporting this moniker, among others.
Josephus, the first century Jewish historian mentions no fewer than nineteen different Yeshuas/Jesii, about half of them contemporaries of the supposed Christ! In his Antiquities, of the twenty-eight high priests who held office from the reign of Herod the Great to the fall of the Temple, no fewer than four bore the name Jesus: Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec, Jesus ben Damneus and Jesus ben Gamaliel. Even Saint Paul makes reference to a rival magician, preaching ‘another Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 11,4). The surfeit of early Jesuses includes:
Jesus ben Sirach. This Jesus was reputedly the author of the Book of Sirach (aka ‘Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach‘), part of Old Testament Apocrypha. Ben Sirach, writing in Greek about 180 BC, brought together Jewish ‘wisdom’ and Homeric-style heroes.
Jesus ben Pandira. A wonder-worker during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (106-79 BC), one of the most ruthless of the Maccabean kings. Imprudently, this Jesus launched into a career of end-time prophecy and agitation which upset the king. He met his own premature end-time by being hung on a tree — and on the eve of a Passover. Scholars have speculated this Jesus founded the Essene sect.
Jesus ben Ananias. Beginning in 62AD, this Jesus had caused disquiet in Jerusalem with a non-stop doom-laden mantra of ‘Woe to the city’. He prophesied rather vaguely:
“A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against the whole people.”
– Josephus, Wars 6.3.
Arrested and flogged by the Romans, Jesus ben Ananias was released as nothing more dangerous than a mad man. He died during the siege of Jerusalem from a rock hurled by a Roman catapult.
Jesus ben Saphat. In the insurrection of 68AD that wrought havoc in Galilee, this Jesus had led the rebels in Tiberias (“the leader of a seditious tumult of mariners and poor people” – Josephus, Life 12.66). When the city was about to fall to Vespasian’s legionaries he fled north to Tarichea on the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus ben Gamala. During 68/69 AD this Jesus was a leader of the ‘peace party’ in the civil war wrecking Judaea. From the walls of Jerusalem he had remonstrated with the besieging Idumeans (led by ‘James and John, sons of Susa’). It did him no good. When the Idumeans breached the walls he was put to death and his body thrown to the dogs and carrion birds.
Jesus ben Thebuth. A priest who, in the final capitulation of the upper city in 69AD, saved his own skin by surrendering the treasures of the Temple, which included two holy candlesticks, goblets of pure gold, sacred curtains and robes of the high priests. The booty figured prominently in the Triumph held for Vespasian and his son Titus.
Too Strange to be a Coincidence!
According to the Biblical account, Pilate offered the Jews the release of just one prisoner and the cursed race chose Barabbas rather than gentle Jesus.
But hold on a minute: in the original text studied by Origen (and in some recent ones) the chosen criminal was Jesus Barabbas — and Bar Abba in Aramaic means ‘Son of the Father’!
Are we to believe that Pilate had a Jesus, Son of God and a Jesus, Son of the Father in his prison at the same time??!!
Perhaps the truth is that a single executed criminal helped flesh out the whole fantastic fable.
Gospel writers, in scrambling details, used the Aramaic Barabbas knowing that few Latin or Greek speakers would know its meaning.
But Was There a Crucified Jesus?
Certainly. Jesus ben Stada was a Judean agitator who gave the Romans a headache in the early years of the second century. He met his end in the town of Lydda (twenty five miles from Jerusalem) at the hands of a Roman crucifixion crew. And given the scale that Roman retribution could reach — at the height of the siege of Jerusalem the Romans were crucifying upwards of five hundred captives a day before the city walls — dead heroes called Jesus would (quite literally) have been thick on the ground. Not one merits a full-stop in the great universal history.
But Then With so Many Jesuses Could There Not Have Been a Jesus of Nazareth?
The problem for this notion is that absolutely nothing at all corroborates the sacred biography and yet this ‘greatest story’ is peppered with numerous anachronisms, contradictions and absurdities. For example, at the time that Joseph and the pregnant Mary are said to have gone off to Bethlehem for a supposed Roman census, Galilee (unlike Judaea) was not a Roman province and therefore ma and pa would have had no reason to make the journey. Even if Galilee had been imperial territory, history knows of no ‘universal census’ ordered by Augustus (nor any other emperor) — and Roman taxes were based on property ownership not on a head count. Then again, we now know that Nazareth did not exist before the second century.
It is mentioned not at all in the Old Testament nor by Josephus, who waged war across the length and breadth of Galilee (a territory about the size of Greater London) and yet Josephus records the names of dozens of other towns. In fact most of the ‘Jesus-action’ takes place in towns of equally doubtful provenance, in hamlets so small only partisan Christians know of their existence (yet well attested pagan cities, with extant ruins, failed to make the Jesus itinerary).
What should alert us to wholesale fakery here is that practically all the events of Jesus’s supposed life appear in the lives of mythical figures of far more ancient origin. Whether we speak of miraculous birth, prodigious youth, miracles or wondrous healings — all such ‘signs’ had been ascribed to other gods, centuries before any Jewish holy man strolled about. Jesus’s supposed utterances and wisdom statements are equally commonplace, being variously drawn from Jewish scripture, neo-Platonic philosophy or commentaries made by Stoic and Cynic sages.
What’s in a Name?
The name Jesus is actually a 16th century creation.
“Jesus” has its origins in יהושוע (Yehoshua or Joshua) in which the first part “yeho” refers to God. The name means “YHWH helps”. But it was a name to be used with care and to prevent accidental voicing of the name of God, Yehoshua got truncated to ישוע (Y’shua), or, in the Galilee, to Yeshu.
Transliterated into Greek, Yeshu became Ἰησοῦς (Iesous), and from that, the Latin Iesus. A late development was the letter J which was then substituted for the initial capital I rendering Iesus into Jesus.
‘Jesus of Nazareth’ supposedly lived in what is the most well-documented period of antiquity — the first century of the Christian era — yet not a single non-Christian source mentions the miracle worker from the sky. All references — including the notorious insertions in Josephus — stem from partisan Christian sources (and Josephus himself, much argued over, was not even born until after the supposed crucifixion). The horrendous truth is that the Christian Jesus was manufactured from plundered sources, re-purposed for the needs of the early Church.
It is not with a human being that the Jesus myth begins. Christ is not a deified man but a humanised god who happened to be given the name Yeshu. Those real Jesuses, those that lived and died within normal human parameters, may have left stories and legends behind, later cannibalised by Christian scribes as source material for their own hero, but it is not with any flesh and blood rebel/rabbi/wonder-worker that the story begins. Rather, its genesis is in theology itself.
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Source: Jesus Never Existed