Robert Sheaffer Box 10441 San Jose, CA 95157 The Making of the Messiah New Book Confronts

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Robert Sheaffer Box 10441 San Jose, CA 95157 The Making of the Messiah New Book Confronts Christianity with its Greatest Challenge in Decades A new book published in November, 1991 Prometheus Books confronts Christianity with its greatest challenge in many a year. "The Making of the Messiah" by Robert Sheaffer differs from conventional works of Freethinkers by suggesting a radically different picture of the rise of Christianity. The book describes, to use Nietzsche's phrase, "The Birth of Christianity from the Spirit of Resentment." It tells why Christianity could only develop as it did, emerging from the envious anger of the lower classes. It shows how Christian writers altered historical facts to make the new religion "sell" better among those seething with resentment against Roman power and wealth. By looking at the chronological evolution of Christian writings and doctrine, exactly as skeptics investigate contemporary accounts of UFO abductions or psychic wonders, it is possible to infer the kinds of objections that the infant Church must have been struggling to meet, and from these long-suppressed objections deduce probable historical fact. This new perspective radically impacts Biblical criticism, in a manner that Humanists and Freethinkers will wholeheartedly applaud. "The Making of the Messiah" presents a compelling argument that Jesus was never "crucified" by the Romans, or anyone else. The familiar Gospel account of Jesus' death is termed the "cruci- fiction story." Biblical scholars generally acknowledge that the confusing and contradictory Gospel accounts of Jesus' two trials make absolutely no sense from the perspective of either Roman or Jewish law. Resolving this dilemma, the book presents compelling evidence that Jesus was indeed condemned by the Sanhedrin as stated in Mark 14:64, stoned to death, and hanged in a tree until sundown: the inescapable penalty under the Mosaic law for blasphemers and heretics. All of the ancient Rabbinical texts mentioning Jesus' death are totally consistent in recalling that he was "slain and hanged in a tree." There are even a few passages remaining in the oldest books of the New Testament proclaiming Jesus to have been slain and "hanged in a tree" - for example, Acts 5:30 and Galatians 3:13. These passages are NOT metaphor: they describe the punishment Jesus MUST have suffered if found guilty of the charges he faced! (See Deuteronomy 13:10; 21:22.) How did the cruci-fiction story arise? Several decades after Jesus' execution, when the infant Church sought to recruit converts among the Gentiles, the tale of a Jewish prophet "slain and hanged in a tree" probably failed to excite or inflame the listener. But when the story was changed to have Jesus "crucified" by the Romans, the tale electrified the resentful throughout the vast Empire. Another subject covered in great detail is Jesus' supposed "Virgin Birth." In recent years even many liberal Christians have been willing to question this highly-dubious claim. They quietly assume that Jesus must have been the natural son of Joseph. What they do not seem to realize is that it is absolutely clear (see Matthew 1:19) that Joseph knew the child was not his, and that he believed Mary to be guilty of adultery. This is abundantly confirmed by a number of other ancient texts, both Christian and Jewish. Therefore, unless Mary's pregnancy is of supernatural origin, she is an adulteress. Tracing the development of Christianity's various accounts of Jesus' origin, it becomes obvious that the "Virgin Birth" fable, which was not taught until nearly a century after Jesus was born, was invented as a "cover story" to mask the shameful reality of Jesus' illegitimate birth. The gospels of Mark and John say nothing whatever about Jesus' birth; the authors of those gospels must have assumed that the reader already knew of Jesus' illegitimacy, which intrudes upon the text in several places. The genealogies of Jesus given in Matthew and Luke differ because the former was obviously compiled by someone hostile to the new religion. It lists among Jesus' ancestors some of the most notorious disinherited kings and fallen women of the Davidic line. The problem was fixed in Luke, whose genealogy contains only respectable names. Because bastard children were treated extremely harshly under the Mosaic law, it is not surprising that Jesus chafed at the restrictions The Law placed upon him, claiming the inspiration of a "higher law" from above. Jesus' experience of being "despised and rejected" owing to an accident of birth shaped the very fabric of early Christianity, and drew together under that religion's banner all who chafed at living under The Law. What set Jesus apart from other Messianic pretenders was the claim that he arose from the dead. The evidence offered in support of this claim is scrutinized in detail. When these accounts are examined in chronological order of composition, in light of long-suppressed Roman-era criticisms, a clear pattern emerges. The earliest accounts make the least-convincing claims of an actual, physical resurrection. Paul sees a vision of a risen Jesus, which is worthless as "evidence" for anything. As time progresses, Christianity's claims that people had sighted an actual, physical risen Jesus become more definite. Many ancient manuscripts of the earliest gospel, Mark, contain absolutely no sightings of a risen Jesus, whose resurrection is merely inferred because his body was not where it had been left. Mark 16:9-20, which describes such sightings, was written years later, to answer objections that nobody actually SAW Jesus after his supposed resurrection. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the supposed resurrection never occurred. Robert Sheaffer is the author of "Resentment Against Achievement" (Prometheus, 1988). Laissez Faire Books hails it as "a modern classic," comparing it to the works of H. L. Mencken, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ayn Rand. Success Magazine writes that "the book crackles with ideas that others have failed to perceive, or have been too timid to express." Sheaffer's first book was "The UFO Verdict" (Prometheus, 1981), a highly-skeptical analysis of UFO mania, about which Sky and Telescope magazine said, "if you're only going to have one book on UFOs, this is the one." He is a regular columnist for The Skeptical Inquirer. "The Making of the Messiah" is $19.95 (+$3 P&H). It can be ordered from Prometheus at 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14215, or call toll free 1-800-421-0351.)


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