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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chapter 8: Jesus of Nazareth, The Christ of Christianity

Phenomenology of World Religion
Chapter 18
Jesus of Nazareth - Foreword
There are also many things which Jesus did, that if they should be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain all the books that would be writtenSaint John the Apostle/Evangelist

Introduction to Chapter Eight

Before I begin the complex examination of the historical and spiritual character known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the Christ, I would like to inform the reader that scripture passages quoted come from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, unless otherwise noted. I do this because I feel that re-translated scriptures and text from the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments have corrupted its meaning. It is like whispering a phrase in a circle of friends and by the time it reaches back to the originator, it is out of context. The Holy Bible is an anthology of texts, Hebrew in origin and later written in HebrewGreek, Latin, AramaicMiddle English and many other languages, totaling to about 80 languages and dialects.


Jesus the Inspirational Spiritual Leader

Christianity originated and was established by those who followed a carpenter’s son, calling themselves disciples, later called the apostles, and given the honor of sainthood by the first organized Christian Church and whose perceived founder’s theological philosophy changed the Western world.
His name was Jesus of Nazareth and would come to be known as Jesus the Christ or Jesus Christ.
A prophet, philosopher and preacher born in simple surroundings, living a simple life, dying like tens of thousands of others sentenced to death by crucifixion under the rule of the Roman Empire, influencing more people than any other in human history, deified by the Roman Catholic Church (first organized church) that became the Holy Roman Empire and by the followers who became known as Christians, a religion that had more historical impact than any other religion in history.
The story begins as much of a mystery as the man himself in a little town of Bethlehem whose mother was Mary of Nazareth and would later be sainted by the Roman Catholic Church; and his father, Joseph, a well-known carpenter in the region whose work became known enough to make regal furniture for the local aristocrats. It is not known exactly what day; month or even year Jesus was born, but it is unlikely he was born past 4 AD. Our calendar, as far as years, was established in accordance with his established date of death, so year zero was a controversy in itself because this establishment of time period in human history came about several centuries after his death. Some have contested that he did not exist and is a mythological character.
During his lifetime he spread the word of his prophecy in Judea, his apostles, would later spread his teachings around the known world beyond Judaism among the gentiles, until it finally became organized under one single entity called the Church that was headed by the Papacy – the Holy Roman Catholic Church based in Rome, the place where centuries before the Christians were unwelcome and persecuted. Originally a new perspective of Judaism, it became a religion separated by the Church who eventually spurned the Jews, despite the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was himself a Jew.
Effectively, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, was a founder after his death for he gave no name or identification to his doctrine, other than following what he believed was predestined, the purpose of his life ordained by the Supreme Deity of which he called Father or God, the same Supreme Deity that the Hebrews had worshipped for as far back as they could remember, and long after his physical death, another prophet-reformer-founder would emerge worshipping the same Supreme Being known in Arabic as Allah. Therefore the People of the Book, as Mohammad would later describe Hebrew and Christians, the “book” being the Torah and Holy Bible (before canonization by the first organized Holy Roman Church), and dictated what was written in the Holy Qu’ran, Mohammad’s words as inspired by the archangel called Gabriel.
Jesus the Reformer
No record of any desire by Jesus shows that he intended to establish a separate religion from Judaism, but in certain instances he clearly condemned the patriarch of the Synagogue and Temple their commercialization of holy buildings set aside in reverence to their one and only God. The major difference of Jesus’ views and the Hebrew patriarchs/rabbi was that he intended to do away with animal sacrifice that had been a ritual of the synagogue and the Jews far back into history, as described in the first book of the Bible, Book of Genesis, and in the Old Testament collection of books.

Jesus was basically a reformer who believed that his mission in life was pre-designated as well as ordained by biblical prophets. Scholars and historians believe that after his death his significance and personal history was embellished, his life story from birth to physical death enveloped into a mystic background. No record of any documents written by Jesus of Nazareth has been found, and most records have been attributed to the Apostles after his death, which became the New Testament portion of the Christian Holy Bible.
Christians believe Jesus the Christ had to sacrifice himself in order to replace the traditional ritual of animal sacrifice for forgiveness of any transgression between humans and God. Later the Christian Church would establish a ritual conducted during the traditional Passover period and what is called Easter where an ordained priest or minister provides wafers, the symbol of the body of Christ that arose and unfermented wine that symbolizes the blood spilled by Christ for humanity.
Recently the discovery of the long sought after recount of Judas Iscariot known as the traitor disciple of Jesus has been found, known as the Gospel of Judas and authenticated by scholars reveals the fallen disciple’s side of the story.
What is most controversial is the argument over whether Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, was just a gifted and intellectual man, or whether he was a semi-deity, divinely conceived by God and born of an earthly woman. Still others claim that Mary, his mother, became pregnant after being raped by a Roman soldier and Joseph adopting him as his own – based upon alleged Roman historical records.
While the Bible, the Old Testament, reveals an eye-witness history, as well as tales of heroes and heroines, it also contains controversial entries, such as in the Book of Genesis, the story of creation of humans and the first human family, not being controversial until the age of science.
C.S. Lewis wrote that you either believe Jesus the Christ was the Son of God or he was nothing at all; insisting that he was not a prophet/teacher/philosopher.

The Christian clergy also left out certain documents, which furthered the controversy. The Holy Bible is not a book in itself, but a collection (anthology) of books, letters and essays that is split into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament – the latter strictly written about Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, his parables, his philosophy, his actions and his prophecies that end with the Book of Revelations, a prophetic work revealing the prophesized end of days of human civilization and the return of the Christian Saviour, Jesus the Christ in a return to Earth.

The New Testament represents a new age in which the founder, Jesus the Christ, encouraged his chosen disciples to go beyond the land of the Jews and seek to provide the knowledge of his philosophy to others, especially Gentiles, the promise of life beyond the miseries of living and the spiritual kingdom available to all. Despite his views of Gentiles, those who did not follow the ways of Judaism, before his death he instructed his twelve disciples to go out in the world and instruct the Gentiles the way to enter the spiritual kingdom. [I] It is the Gentiles (such as the Romans) who become the instrument of Jesus’ death. [II] It was the Jewish patriarchs of Jerusalem that arranged for his trial as a heretic and social troublemaker because they feared he would disrupt their traditional ways, despite the fact that Jesus respected them except when they profaned the temple/synagogue by turning it into a money making organization. Jesus did not denounce the history of the Jews or traditions like the Passover, for Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover before his death in what is called by the Christians as The Last Supper, which became a theme for a famous painting later in history.

Roman Rule
The world of the Jew in Palestine and Judea was ruled by Rome, who occupied Israel in 63 BC. The Jews were natural historians and because of this they kept their faith and their history that was passed on with stories of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; as well as the treasured story of Moses who led the Jewish people from Egyptian slave labor called the Exodus, to lead them to the land promised them by God to found the nation of Israel.
When Jesus was born, the Romans were an established element and occupiers of Judea where the system of government consisted of Roman overseers and Jewish leaders. Herod the Great was king, a half-Jew family that was detested by the majority of the Jewish populace. Herod’s rule was tyrannical and his sons, especially Archelaus and Herod Antipas exercised their power in Jerusalem in a brutal way. The Herodian family was so cruel and caused such internal strife that Rome sent a Roman citizen to be the governor of Judea. His name is well known to those who know the story of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ – Pontius Pilate. He would be the instrument wielded by the Jewish rabbi who wanted Jesus the troublemaker to disappear.
During this period of internal strife and subjugation by Rome, there arose a hope of a Messiah believed to free the Jews and return Israel/Jerusalem back to its glory and rebuild the Temple of Solomon. A Messiah had been foretold in the Old Testament scriptures by prophets who lived long before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. But Jesus would be a disappointment to the majority of Jews because they had thought he would be the Messiah that would free them from Roman rule; but his life’s mission that Jesus had stated was received from God, was the promise of a kingdom of heaven, a spiritual freedom and not an earthly one.
The two main arguments about Jesus the Christ are his birth and his death, as well as miracles performed as told by his disciples. His birth, as told, was conception by a virgin woman, Mary, descendant of King David, and foretold to be the mother of the Messiah of Israel and Judea. Those prophecies, in the views of many Jews at the time meant deliverance from Roman rule and return of their earthly kingdom of Israel and rebuilding the Temple of Solomon back to its day of glory. But Jesus was only concerned with the Kingdom of Heaven, spiritual life after death from material life. [III]
Jesus is often quoted in the New Testament scriptures of calling himself the son of man, but in other passages, particularly in the Gospel of John, he is referred to as God’s son. [IV]
This chapter, as in the other chapters of this book, is not an evangelical text. It is a history; it is a record of human progress and history in terms of religion and philosophy, written as objective as possible and a neutral tone. It is a biography of someone who had great influence over many, Christian and non-Christian. It is written from the third-person view, thus a phenomenological concept of the ancient and major religions found still active today, including Christianity. Just as many sects have branched off from the original Church organized long ago among the first seven churches described in the Holy Bible, so will people disagree with some of what is written here. However, the views of followers of faith, such as the subject of Christianity in this chapter, must also be presented along with the historical hard facts of what we know from ancient records and archaeological research.
In human history supernatural forces have been presumed to exist, defined into two forces of the universe viewed as the Light and the Dark, the Good and the Evil, for whom a constant battle has been waged for longer than humans had the capability to record history, orally or written – or existed; for that battle began between the archangels as described in Christian text.
Much of this research involves hard archaeological evidence, matched with what was recorded and is known from documents from outside sources; as well as newly found lost text that puts a better perspective on history.

Nativity
The birth date of Jesus of Nazareth, who became the Christ, is, as stated previously, unknown. It is also unknown if he was formerly educated or could even read or write – no written records penned by him were ever found. Some scholars and historians point out that he was a carpenter’s son in a society where education was usually only provided by those who could afford it; however, Jesus’ father, Joseph, was not an ordinary carpenter. Historians have found that Joseph sometimes traveled to other places beyond his carpenter’s work shop and has been attributed to have built a kingly throne for a member of the aristocracy. Since historical records reveal that his father, Joseph, was more than a simple village carpenter, whose skills were sought after in neighboring regions, it is possible that Joseph had the funds to provide some level of education for his children or he or Mary was educated enough to teach him the skills of reading and writing. The Aramaic language was used extensively in the region and many people of the nations that came under Roman rule learned Latin. Those who could afford it or were born into the aristocratic class were taught Greek, which was used in the Roman Empire in many scholarly documents. 
However, it was custom of the Jews to provide some level of education for everyone, especially the ability to read Hebrew, It is quite evident according to the times and historical records that Jesus probably knew Hebrew, Latin and/or Aramaic written languages. Whether he could write in Latin or Aramaic is not known for sure, but suspected to be the case. If he did write anything, nothing has been found to reinforce that hypothesis.
Jesus was born, as the Nativity story goes under unusual circumstances, as well as during an astronomical occurrence that had to do with a specific star.
The Hellenistic and Roman world he was born into had much to do with the events surrounding his birth, his life, and his death.
Joseph taught Jesus and his brother, the skills of carpentry, as any father with a family business might do. Not much is known about Jesus’ brother, James, being not a key figure in the biblical tale of the Jesus.
Alexander the Great ushered in the Hellenistic age of the ancient world and most of that world was conquered by his army. In just thirteen years he had become the master of the eastern Mediterranean world, venturing as far as India. Alexander envisioned one world under one government. That was how Hellenism spread across the Mediterranean and Israel and Judea was part of that cultured world. The Romans later took the place of those that laid the path for world domination, and it was the latter period of the Roman Republic that which Jesus of Nazareth was born. This Greco-Roman cultural establishment used slaves as labor so much it became a sizable part of the Roman population.
Mystery religions sprang up in the Hellenic world of culture, such as the Eleusinian Mysteries at Eleusis, the religion of Dionysus (Bacchus) and Cybele, the Great Mother goddess of Asia Minor.

Mother Mary
Jesus’ mother, Mary, Maryūm in Aramaic, Miriam in Hebrew, and Maryam in Arabic; has been written about as much as Jesus has been. She is referred to as Virgin Mary or Saint Mary in Christian text and was a Jew of Nazareth in Galilee region, descendant of King David. Not much is known about her life before she was engaged (betrothed) to Joseph, the carpenter who would also be sainted by the Church later in Christian history preparing for the rite of Jewish traditional marriage when the husband takes his bride to his home.
Mary is also mentioned in the Qur’an, the Book of Islam and identified as the virgin mother of Jesus in the Sura [V] entitled Maryam. By the time the Christian Church had become organized and when the First Council of Ephesus met in 431 AD, Mother Mary became to be called Theotokos, meaning God-bearer or Mother of God. During this time there was division among Christian scholars and the church hierarchy as to Jesus’ deification because of the circumstance of his birth. The Catholic Church (Holy Roman Catholic Church) and the Eastern Orthodox Church believe that Mary was sinless and offer prayers to God through Mary, just as Christians offer prayers through Jesus. Protestants, for example, do not agree with that and thus the reason for the creation of the Christian cult of Protestants and separation from the Roman Catholic Church.
Mary’s lineage is not named in the canonical texts, but is mentioned in the apocryphal text and provides the name of Mother Mary’s parents as Joachim and Anne.  Mary had a relative named Elizabeth who was the wife of the priest Zechariah and whose lineage is of Aaron and the tribe of Levi; however, it is of general consensus that Mary’s lineage goes back to King David, father of Israel as a kingdom and whose son, Solomon, built the great Temple of Solomon. [VI] However, in the Gospel of Matthew it states that the lineage of Jesus from David was through Joseph, his father. [VII] Was Joseph descended from King David or Mary - or both? 
The story goes that while Mary was living in Nazareth waiting for her marriage to Joseph, she was visited by the angel named Gabriel [not this coincides with the claim of Mohammad, founder of Islam 600 years later] who told her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah, as foretold in Old Testament scripture.
In the Gospel of Luke the background leading to Jesus conception is revealed, called by the Church, The Immaculate Conception
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. … And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. … And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. … And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, … And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. … And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost … And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
According to the Gospel of Mary, not part of the canon of the Holy Bible, referred to in a series of literature called the Lost Books of the Bible

Joseph, Father of Jesus
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Joseph (Saint Joseph), the father of Jesus, [VIII]  was a carpenter born in Bethlehem and who settled in Nazareth as a carpenter, took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified, as was the tradition. He offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons; which was accepted for those who could not afford a lamb. [IX]
It is interesting to note that Christians who followed the teachings of Jesus and the words of the apostles that sacrificial rites were no longer required because of the sacrifice made by Jesus in his death, only required to believe the gospel of Jesus and obey the laws of God. Other rites and doctrine would be established when the Christian Church became organized, but this was the gist of the difference between the orthodox Jew, which Jesus had been raised to be, and those that followed Jesus as Christ and spread knowledge of him and his teachings to become known as Christians.
When Joseph discovered that his bride-to-be was pregnant and he had not lain with her as yet, he was understandably upset and planned to divorce Mary according to law, but his love and concern for her safety for her caused him to decide not to divorce her with public decree so as not to shame her. The alternative theory is that Joseph was aware of her divine pregnancy, as mentioned in the next paragraph. It should be noted here that ancient pagan religions often told of the gods and goddesses copulating with humans, usually the gods - who produced humans that were semi-divine.
Adultery was punished in biblical times, as it is done by Sharia law of the Moslems today, by stoning to death. That practice would be forbidden by Jesus in an episode when a prostitute was in the process of being stoned in his presence, and he prevented through reasoning and playing on the guilt of their own mortal sins.
An angel visits Joseph in a dream and reveals that Mary was not pregnant because of promiscuity and that she was indeed a virgin. Joseph accepts this and he proceeds with the plan of marriage. Sometime after the dream and before Jesus is born, an angel comes to him again and this time to warn Joseph that his family, specifically his unborn son was in danger and that he and Mary must leave quickly and go to another country. Joseph and Mary begin the journey in the middle of the night to Egypt awaiting word from the angel that it would be safe to return to Nazareth.
Just before Jesus birth there were prophets and holy men who believed a Messiah would be born and would become the king that would cast the usurpers (Roman Empire) from the Holy Land and restore the power of David and the golden age of King Solomon back to the land of Israel/Judea into one nation and rebuild the Solomon Temple. Orthodox Jews did not accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, foretold by the ancient prophets, because he did not incite rebellion, but instead lived and preached a pacified life.
Herod was king at the time and heard of this. Fearing that he was to be overthrown from his kingdom by the prophecy of a Messiah, he ordered that all newborns and children under the age of two be killed. In history, Herod I or Herod the Great (74 BC – 4 BC) was considered a ruthless puppet king of the Roman rulers. Herod’s sons would be tyrants as well, his step daughter requesting the head of John the Baptist be brought to the royal court and Herod complied with her wish. Herod and company also mocked Jesus at his trial. Along with infanticide, which has become to be known as the Massacre of the Innocents, Herod also executed several members of is own family, including his wife Mariamne; yet he was famous for his public projects like the expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, of which only four retaining walls, one called the Wailing Wall, survive today. Thus far the account of the Massacre of Innocents is only recorded in the scriptures of the New Testament of the Holy Bible and no other text has been found to substantiate the biblical tale - not even in the Roman records.
According to a Wikipedia entry, there is a possible explanation:
Regarding the Massacre of the Innocents, although Herod was certainly guilty of many brutal acts, including the killing of his wife and two of his sons, no other known source from the period makes any reference to such a massacre. [12] Since Bethlehem was a small village, the number of male children under the age of 2, would probably not exceed 20. This may be the reason for the lack of other sources for this history, [13] although Herod's order in Matthew 2-16 includes those children in Bethlehem's vicinity making the massacre larger numerically and geographically.
Except for scriptures, most of what is known about Herod is from the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus. Herod’s tomb was found in 2007 at Herodium after a 35-year search by Professor Ehud Netzer, an archaeologist of the Hebrew University using the Jewish-turned-Roman historian’s description.
The tomb was in the exact location where Flavius Josephus stated it was in his historical text:
And the body was carried two hundred furlongs, to Herodium, where he had given order to be buried. [X]
Because Joseph is not mentioned after Jesus sets out on his own and during his public ministry, it is assumed that sometime between the period Jesus left his father’s home and returned, Joseph died. Scholars and historians have established that Joseph was 40 years old when he married, so this is probably so. Jesus assumes the responsibility, as was custom for the oldest child, to care for his mother, Mary.
Up to approximately the age of 12- or 13-years of age, Jesus helped his father in carpentry work, but apparently he demonstrated skills that were more intellectual, concerning philosophy and divine knowledge. This may have been encouraged by his mother Mary who seemed to have been instrumental in shaping his destiny, and probably had much influence upon Jesus most of his life, until Mary Magdalene entered the picture.

Society and Politics
During the life of Jesus there was a revolutionary movement among the Jews against occupation of the Romans and its members were called Zealots. Violence and armed rebellion sporadically occurred during this period. Jesus was not violent in character, except for a brief moment of rage over the commercialization and desecration of the synagogue, nor was he in favor of armed rebellion. Indeed, he had preached that the government and matters of God were separate from each other, when asked about what he thought of the heavy taxation upon the Jews. [XI]
His revolution concerned the souls of humanity, which unlike human life, is indestructible. Jesus became more of a threat to the Jewish rabbi hierarchy rather than the Roman occupiers and the court of the Herodian family.
As mentioned in the New Testament, the wealthy nobles, merchants and priests were called Sadducees. Many members of the Sanhedrin were of the Sadducee Jews. They were committed to the Jewish faith and primarily shunned the gospel of Jesus and his strange ministry. Jesus threatened this hierarchy of Jewish society just as the Pharisees of the synagogue were threatened. Most of the Scribes, theologians of the period, were Pharisees. They followed the Torah, Jewish law, and looked upon the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth as heresy.
The Sadducees believed in compromising with the Roman occupiers, while the Pharisees shunned it; yet they used the instrumentation of Roman law and punishment to eliminate the Jewish commoner, Jesus of Nazareth, who threatened Jewish religious tradition and law. The Romans, in general, saw no threat in the Jewish religious or the person called Jesus the Christ other than the strangeness of worshipping only one god and no goddesses.
The Essenes of the Jewish community were likened onto a monastery community who kept the Jewish identity despite Roman occupation and lived pretty much out of the Jewish main society. The Qumran community is one that has been researched by scholars, historians and archaeologists, who adopted Jesus ministry, but would later become enemies to the newly established Christian organized Church. Essentially, the Essenes were disciples of John the Baptist and his ministry, often regarded as a mentor to Jesus of Nazareth and baptizing him the established tradition. Centuries later, a Christian sect would be established who called themselves Baptists that established doctrine based upon John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth’s ministries.

Mary Magdalene, Companion/Disciple
Scholars and historians believe that Mary Magdalene was the only possible romantic figure in Jesus' professed life of celibacy and there are some who believe he was secretly married to the woman of historical mystery. Still others believe that Mary Magdalene, being a woman of station and educated, played an important role among his disciples being Jesus’ confidant, lover and spreading his Gospel among the female population. Certainly the records show that Mary Magdalene and Mother Mary became close friends and that some of the disciples were jealous of her. Indeed, research has shown she was an educated woman and that Jesus considered her one of his disciples despite being a woman; often consulting or at least listening to her ideas and thoughts.
We cannot know if Jesus had a relationship with Mary Magdalene other than her being an obscure disciple among the twelve recorded disciples of Jesus.
What we do know is in scripture references and non-canonical text:
Gospel of Luke 8:1-3 … And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joana the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
In this text it describes the circumstances as to how Mary Magdalene, as well as other women, became followers of Jesus. Mary Magdalene had been exorcised by Jesus, according to the accounts of the disciples turned apostles.
Gospel of Luke 24Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, [XII]  and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepuchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering to himself at that which was come to pass. And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, [XIII] answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew night unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. …
Gospel of Mark 15:40 There were also women looking afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome … This passage places Mary Magdalene at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, witnessing his death. Confusion is in the portion that reads: Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome
Salomé was the name of the step-daughter of Herodias who demanded the head of John the Baptist be delivered unto her on a silver platter. The name Mary must have been popular at the time because it becomes confusing as to which Mary the scriptures refer to throughout passages of the New Testament. Turning to the historical authority of the Catholic Encyclopedia, the first organized Christian Church, we find that the Mary referred to in the passage in the paragraph above is said to be Mary of Cleophas, wife of Alpheaus and relative amd close friend to Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.
This is also mentioned, along with Mary Magdalene in other scriptures of the New Testament.
Gospel of Mark 15:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.
Gospel of Matthew 27:56 …  Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
In the passage above, we find that Mary is the wife of Zebedee, contradicting the assumption made concerning Saint Mark’s text. The passage in the Gospel of Mark leaves out the mention of Salome. To make it even more confusing, James, one of the Twelve Apostles (disciple) was described as –
A son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle. He is also called James the Greater to distinguish him from James, son of Alpheaus, who is also known as James the Less. [XIV]
Gospel of Matthew 27:61 … And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
Gospel of Matthew 28:1 … In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Gospel of John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
Out of those three passages, we find that the Gospel of John portrays a clearer description as to who is who and which Mary is which.
Gospel of John 20:1-18 ... The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
It is quite evident that Mary Magdalene played an important part of Jesus of Nazareth’s life; she is mentioned to be a witness to Jesus’ death, his burial, discovery of his tomb, and his resurrection. After that point mention of her ceases and there is not history as to what happened to her.
Gnostic writings, the New Testament Apocrypha, dated between the 2nd and 3rd centuries provides a different view of Mary Magdalene from the canonical scriptures represented in the paragraphs above. Gnosticism was declared a heresy by the Christian Church in 388 AD and the result was persecution and almost total destruction of their manuscripts – only fragments survive today to study. In the Gnostic text, Mary Magdalene plays an important part of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and in more detail, and the Gnostic Gospel of Philip refers to Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ companion. There was also tension and jealousy among the disciples because of her closeness and influence upon Jesus, primarily the apostle Peter.
The best surviving Gnostic text that survived, to date, is the Pistis Sophia, where Jesus asks 64 questions to his disciples and 39 are to the woman known as Mary Magdalene, as an example:
Mary, thou blessed one, whom I will perfect in all mysteries of those of the height, discourse in openness, thou, whose heart is raised to the kingdom of heaven more than all thy brethren. [XV]
It is no wonder, just from this text, that the other disciples displayed or held a jealousy or animosity towards Mary Magdalene.
In 1945, text was found at Nag Hammadi for which the text name is derived, that substantiated and also made more clear much of the Gnostic text found previously. One of those was the Gospel of Philip, where Mary Magdalene is mentioned:
There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, [XVI]and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister, [XVII] his mother and his companion were each a Mary. [XVIII] … And the companion of the savior was Mary Magdalene. Christ loved Mary more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval, They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her?”
In one of the texts considered the Lost Books of the Bible, the Gospel of Mary [XIX] is dated around the same time as the Gospel of Philip, first discovered in 1896. It is missing six pages from the beginning and four pages in the middle. Some say it is a gospel about Mother Mary, but most scholars and historians agree that it is about Mary Magdalene because the character is presented as one of the disciples who have seen a vision of the resurrected Jesus when she had been alone, as well as describing the other disciples. [XX]
Obviously, according to the following passage, the disciples are preparing to write about their spiritual leader by counseling with Mary Magdalene, who was the closest to Jesus:
Peter said to Mary, “Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of woman. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them.” Mary answered and said, “What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you.” And she began to speak to them these words: “I, she said, I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I say you today in a vision.”
Unfortunately, most of Mary’s vision is in the lost pages of the gospel. In another passage, both Andrew and Peter, reaffirm questions because they don’t trust their validity because she was a woman; however it may have been pure jealousy.  [XXI]
Did he then speak secretly with a woman, in preference to us, and not openly? Are we to turn back and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us? Then Mary grieved said to Peter, My brother, Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart or that I am lying concerning the Savior?
Mary is then defended by Levi:
But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Savior knew her very well. For this reason he loved her more than us.
Mary is repeatedly mentioned as the Beloved Disciple, and even in the canonical Gospel of John that was the original until changes were made by a redactor.
It was the Eastern Orthodox Church that distinguished Mary Magdalene from Mary of Bethany, the sinful woman, and that she was virtuous all of her life, even before meeting Jesus of Nazareth. However, this contradicts the Gospel of Luke that describes the encounter with Jesus when the prophet had removed seven demons in an exorcism.
Nevertheless, Mary Magdalene was pronounced a saint by the Holy Roman Catholic Church. And according to the traditions of Eastern Orthodox, Mary Magdalene, who had been best friends with Mother Mary, retired to Ephesus, where she died taken care of as promised to Jesus by Saint John, one of the disciples. The House of the Virgin Mary can be visited today and the spring from its well is thought to be healing waters. Relics of the site were transferred to Constantinople (Istanbul today) in 886 where they remain preserved.
The Roman Catholics, through the writings of Gregory of Tours of the 6th century also supports the traditional idea that Mary Magdalene retired with Mother Mary to Ephesus. Mary Magdalene is depicted in many forms of arts – paintings and sculpture by the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI wrote of Mary Magdalene:
The story of Mary Magdalene reminds everyone of a fundamental truth: She is a disciple of Christ who … has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him, and has followed him closely, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love, which is stronger than sin and death.
Protestants regard Mary Magdalene as a respected apostle, disciple and friend of Jesus. [XXII] Of course, there are many tales and legends of this famous woman, as controversial as those of Jesus of Nazareth.
Modern writers, one a novelist, suggest that Mary Magdalene was secretly the wife of Jesus of Nazareth. They use references of closeness written in the Gnostic text of the Gospel of Philip. They also point to the Greek word used koinonos, which means companion. They say if she were just a disciple, the scriptures (even though not canonical) would have stated so. Indeed she may have begun as a disciple, but then the relationship grew closer. No conclusive evidence can be found. Maybe this could be the reason of disapproval of the disciples or it was just plain jealousy that a woman would know more about and have closer conversation than the chosen Fishers of Men.
Most agree that Mary Magdalene was an apostle and disciple that were invaluable in converting and providing testimony to the female population, as well as a close and personal friend of Mother Mary.
One thing that remains certain from scholarly studies is that Mary Magdalene was not a converted prostitute; as was erroneously presumed by many during the course of Christian Church history, especially during the medieval period. However, there are those that believe she was a sexual companion to Jesus of Nazareth without the being married. Judging as to the character of Jesus, this does not sound feasible. If Mary Magdalene was his companion as a mate, it would have been through marriage as was the custom. It is doubtful if Mother Mary would have had such a close relationship to Jesus the Christ if it was otherwise.

Mystery Years of Jesus’ Life
There are blanks in Jesus’ biography from the age of 13 to 30. It is generally unknown what he had been doing during the years between – other than wandering in the wilderness. Records from Tibetan historical documents, as told by scholarly researchers, describe a young man who had visited them, accompanying a trade caravan and who had sat and discussed philosophical matters, wisdom beyond his years and apparently educated in matters of philosophy and intellectual thought. This may be a key of where he was and what he was doing until the time of his return to Jerusalem to fulfill what he believed to be his destiny, prophesied before his birth. But the Tibetan records are scholarly discussion and I have not been able to find a translation or even a written text to personally investigate the story.
Why there are no books in the Christian canon Bible telling what Jesus did from about the age of 13 to 30 years of age when he showed up after wandering around in the wilderness to fulfill his professed destiny, is hard to say. There are, however, clues that provide some information found in books not canonized by the Christian Church.
Much is known about this great prophet, and much is not known as well. We do know that he loved and cherished children, for their innocents and as a protector of that innocence.


Filling the Gaps
We know that Jesus was a Nazarene, living most of his youth in Nazareth in the province of Galilee. Nazareth was close to metropolitan centers of Tiberius and Sepphoris with mixed population of Gentiles and Jews; Nazareth was a poorer community that was primarily Jewish.
Jesus was most likely educated, as was the Jewish custom of the time, by teachers (rabbi) of the local village until around the age of twelve. We also know that Joseph was teaching Jesus the carpentry trade, but as his mother, Mary, would state, it was not his calling.
Jesus apparently absorbed much of what knowledge was passed to him learning Hebrew and being able to communicate in Aramaic and Latin, the latter a language of the Roman occupiers. Whether he could write those languages is only a conjecture, for nothing remains of evidence of anything personally written by him.
Later, about the age of 30, when he returned to his homeland from his travels, he would begin his public ministry, knowing Jewish Scriptures and the oral traditions, suggesting as stated previously that he had been studying and discussing intellectual thought concerning his Jewish faith, as well as possibly learning of other philosophies and religions elsewhere – like from the eastern world in a place like Tibet.
Those missing years are left out of the New Testament and have been an interest to scholars, theologians, and historians alike. All we know is he appeared out of the desert at about the age of 30 to arrive during a baptismal being conducted by John the Baptist, interested by his preaching. After being baptized, he goes back into the desert for prayer and reflection. Jesus then returns out of the desert and begins his ministry and soon he is known well by the Jews of Galilee.
At 12 years, Jesus visits the city of Jerusalem with his parents to celebrate the Passover [XXIII] and then from 12 to age 30 nothing is written. We are told that Jesus advanced in wisdom and closer to God. [XXIV]
The assumption over centuries of study is that he simply lived eighteen years working as a carpenter with his father before feeling the need to leave that vocation in the calling of something higher and in a spiritual context. But theories abound when there are not enough written or physical evidence to tell us what happened.
One theory is that Jesus of Nazareth traveled to India sometime after the age of 12, an idea that originated with Louis Jacolliot in 1869, repeated again by others like Nicolas Notovitch in 1894, Levi H. Dowling in 1908, Mathilde Ludendorff in 1930, and Holger Kersten in 1981 and 1994 – all writing books on the subject of Jesus the latter author having Jesus traveling to Kashmir after surviving the crucifixion. Most of the theories revolve around a Kashmiri saint by the name of Yuz Asaf identified as Jesus by the Ahmadiyya sect founded in 1889. They and some Muslims on the subcontinent that Muhammad mentions Jesus and that he died in Kashmir at the age of 120. The journey of Issa or Jesus or Yuz Asaf (leader of the healed) along the Silk Road or Silk Route is in tune with some manuscripts; documents to substantiate this is found in Christ in Kashmir by Aziz Kashmiri and Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kersten. It is believed that Yuz Asaf is buried at the Roza Bal shrine in Srinager, India.
The theory counters against eyewitness accounts of his death and resurrection in several of the New Testament scriptures as well as Gnostic text and non-canonical scripture.
Nicolas Notovitch, who had visited and studied India and Tibet, found out the Arabic name for Jesus is Issa. He wrote in his book, Life of Saint Issa, based upon what he learned at the lamasery (monastery) of Hemis in Ladakh. Max Mueller, among others, refuted it and claimed that Notovitch didn’t have documentation, despite extracting sources from the monastery’s texts. Edgar J. Goodspeed, in his book Famous Biblical Hoaxes, claimed that the leader of the Hemis community signed a document that denounced Notovitch as a liar, but has never been verified.
Despite all of the contradictory evidence, some authors used Notovitch’s work as a base to examine the theory on their own.
In 1995, Gruber and Kersten claimed that Jesus was influenced by contact with Buddhist monks, inspired by the teachings and practices of Therapeutae. They were not the first to follow this theory, however, because Barnett Hillman Streeter, an Oxford New Testament scholar has already established in the 1930s that the moral teaching of Buddha was remarkable resemblance to the Sermon on the Mount. [XXV]
Could it be that Jesus learned Buddhism and applied that philosophy to Judaism?
Scholars following this theory consider that the Gospel of Thomas and many of the Nag Hammadi texts reflect Buddhist religious influence. [XXVI]
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, author of The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus’s 17-Year Journey to the East, based on the assumption that Jesus left his home when 13 years of age, that Jesus traveled to India, Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet according to Buddhist manuscripts. [XXVII]  
While Jesus of Nazareth who became the Christ has a spotted and controversial biography, it cannot be disputed that the prophet has been better known and influenced more people than any person in human history. To some he is a great prophet, to others he is God reincarnate, and to still others he is a passing moment in history whose wisdom and parables provide solace to many around the world. Deified or just a great spiritual leader representing the Supreme Being of the universe, he will remain a much talked about figure in human history and beloved by many.
Some consider him to have never have existed, an icon of mythology; however, historical records disprove this. 
And yet who can deny his philosophy of peace and forgiveness, no matter what his true biography is or the unbelievers ideology or faith may be?
Who can deny that one man in human history has been so venerated and influenced so many over milleniums, and still do today?



* Phenomenology of Religions, its chapters, annexes and appendices are protected under US and international copyright laws - please respect that. Linked/Sourced excerpts may be used if author is identified and linked. No commercial reproduction may be produced without the express permission of the author. Unless otherwise identified, photographs/images are public domain or the property of Keith Allen Lehman.

[I] Gospel of Matthews, Chapter 10But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
[II] Gospel of Matthews - Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles … And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. … And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. … Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles. …
Book of Acts - And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. … And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. … When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
[III] Gospel of Matthews, 10:39He that findeth his life shall lost it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Book of Matthews 16:25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find itGospel of John 3:15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
[IV] Gospel of John, 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [Probably the most quoted passage in the Holy Bible’s New Testament.
[V] Sura translates to chapter from Arabic to English.
[VI] This genealogy is presented in the 
[VII] Gospel of MatthewThe book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of AbrahamAnd Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares began Esrom; and Esrom began Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
[VIII] Earthly father according to tradition and scriptures, as well as the Christian Church doctrine; for Jesus was said to be literally the Son of God and earthly Mary. It is not the first story of a god procreating with earthly women, it was common among the Greek religion, later adopted by the Romans that produced super heroes like Achilles and Hercules. Doing away with mysticism, the Immaculate Conception story would have been  a means to establish Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and provide him with the status of a semi-deity. Today, the Unitarian sect believe in Jesus as the Messiah, but not literally a deity – for as the Ten Commandments’ first commandment states – There shall be no other god before me. Jesus is the chosen spiritual leader and messenger of hope in the concept of life after death, dying by crucifixion and rising to Heaven as all believers in God are proclaimed to do as the soul’s spiritual body.
[IX] Gospel of Luke, 2:24 – And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
[X] The Wars of the JewsHistory of the Destruction of Jerusalem, Book V, Chapter 33.1 by Flavius Josephus.
[XI] Gospel of Matthew, 22: 17-21
[XII] Note here that the news was told to ‘eleven’ considered to be the disciples out of the original twelve, because Judas Iscariot had taken his life in regress of his traitorous act against Jesus. The subject of Judas and the recently discovered Gospel of Judas will be discussed in another chapter. The reference ‘eleven’ is deciphered to be by Scofield “no necessarily implying that eleven persons were present” or that they were the disciples. Luke 24:33; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Matthew 28:16.
[XIV] Wikipedia entry, James, son of Zebedee.
[XV] Pistis Sophia: Text and Commentary; 1999 by J.J. Hurtak and D.E.
[XVI] Mary of Cleopas.
[XVII] The text, as in canonical scripture is confusing with too many women named Mary (why would there be two sisters named Mary?) in gospel references.
[XVIII] A good reference for this matter concerning the women named Mary is The Mystery of Marriage in the Gospel of Philip by Robert M. Grant. The Old, New and Gnostic text all conflict, despite their similar stories.
[XIX] The Gospel of Mary Listening to the Beloved Disciple by Esther A. De Boer; London, 2006.
[XX] Comparative text at Gospel of John 20:14-18.
[XXI] Remember the status of women in this historical period. It is amazing that Jesus had approved of women being disciples in the first place; but it made sense when considering reaching out to converts of the female portion of the population.
[XXIII] Gospel of Luke 2:41-50.
[XXIV] Gospel of Luke 2:52.
[XXV] Did Buddhism Influence Early Christianity?; N.S. Chandramouli; The Times of India.
[XXVI] This theory is discussed in books like: The Gnostic Gospels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels and The Original Jesus by Gruber and Kersten.
[XXVII] The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus’s 17-year Journey to the East; Elizabeth Clare Prophet; p. 468. 

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