Relay-Version: VMS News - V6.0-3 14/03/90 VAX/VMS V5.4; site arizona.edu
Subject: Re: "The Making of the Messiah"
From: sheaffer@netcom.COM (Robert Sheaffer)
Date: 11 Dec 91 05:57:57 GMT
Organization: Netcom - Online Communication Services (408 241-9760 guest)
I think that my new book will be of interest to all you "atheists"
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
"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.)
Robert Sheaffer - Scepticus Maximus - firstname.lastname@example.org
Past Chairman, The Bay Area Skeptics - for whom I Do Not speak,
Author of *utterly offensive* books!