(continued from last post)
None of the Gospels really agree about the events surrounding the
Crucifixion either, and some accounts cannot even be reconciled with
Judaic custom. There is no way that the Sanhedrin would allow the
Romans to crucify even the basest criminal during one of the most
sacred times of the year: the festival of Pesach. Yet that is what two
of the four Gospels say happened. And most strikingly, the
characterization of Jesus in each of the Gospels contradict the others.
In Luke, Jesus is the Suffering Just One prefigured in the 53rd chapter
of Isaiah. In Matthew, Jesus is the rightful temporal heir to the
thrones of Judea and Israel, a king that did not rule, and even hints
that he was a Guerilla leader that came "not to bring peace but the
sword." In Mark, Jesus is the model Jewish ethical teacher and
wonder-worker, a true Tzaddik. And in John, Jesus is the mystic God-man
of Neo-Gnostic thought, the mediator and initiator, the incarnation of
the Gnostic notion of the Logos.
There is further disagreement about Jesus' last words on the cross.
In Matthew and Mark the words are, "My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?"...an allusion to one of David's more morose psalms. In
Luke, the words are-"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." And
in John they are simply "It is finished." With these discrepancies, the
Canonical Gospels can only be accepted as highly questionable, and
certainly not as definitive. If the New Testament is truly the Word of
God, then God's Book has been very well "cooked" by human agency.
C.) Jesus and the Essenes
Judaism around 30 CE was still very much a tribal religion offering
little chance for individual salvation during a time
when people were looking for some assurance that they mattered
beyond which tribe, or city or province they came from. Mystery
religions were well established in the east and making inroads into
Rome herself. In addition to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were vying
for control of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' life, there was a
sect of ascetics known as the Essenes.
It has been said that the Essenes were the founders of a Mystery
religion that married esoteric Judaism with various mystic
undercurrents picked up during the Babylonian exile (it is surmised
that some Jews lived in the Arcadian area of Greece, therefore coming
into contact with the Greek Mysteries) and also possibly from the
admixture of Zoroastrian thought that was mingling in the Roman world
from the influential Mithraic mysteries. Unlike mainstream Jewish
thought, Essenes believed they could work miracles by living apart
from the world and practicing extreme self denial. Like the Manicheans,
Gnostics and Cathari that came after them, the Essenes believed that
the world was not created by God, but by Satan, and since the world and
hence the pleasures of the flesh were satanic rather than godly, that
chastity, penance and monastic life was the only way to escape bondage
From historians and chroniclers writing at the time, it is known
that the Essenes maintained communities throughout the Holy Land. A
large colony of Essenes occupied the Qumran community from 110 BCE to
the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, with a significant period of vacancy
during the reign of Herod, 31 BCE - 4 CE. John the Baptist is
conjectured to have been trained in Essenic communities. Jesus'
parents, Joseph and Mary, are also said to have possibly been laity in
the Essenic movement and Jesus may have received his rabbinical
training in their schools.
There is abundant evidence that Jesus not only knew what the Essene
prophecies were concerning the Messiah, but went to great lengths to
plan for and carry out the prophecies. The Essene prophecies detailed
the life and work of a future "Teacher of Righteousness" who would one
day be sacrificed for the sins of the world. The entire book of Isaiah
has a definate stamp of Essene philosophy on it, especially the famed
chapter 53. I do not, however, go along with the belief that he
cynically faked his crucifixion and resurrection. In the garbled
accounts of the Gospels, one very definate impression comes to mind
about the real Jesus, the Rabbi Yehoshua ben David, the man who would
be King. When Pontius Pilate said "behold the man in whom is no guile,"
I really think he meant it.
(continued next post)