Yeshua (Jesus) probably did exist, yet was someone quite different from the character in the Gospels. Rather than accepting the conventional Christian account, we should pay him the respect of acknowledging his humanity, family, society, and religion. It makes sense to circumvent Christian mythology and place him in the religious context of first-century Judaism, the political context of Roman occupation and oppression, and the social context of poverty.
He was the first-born child of a young Jewish girl named Mary, and his biological father, identity unknown, may not have been in the picture to offer him direction. He was part of a large family of poor Jewish peasants.
He would have been very proudly Jewish and familiar with the predictions of the prophets. Like many Jews of his time, he would have had some grandiose delusions, such as that Jews were the world’s superior people, specially favored by God and destined to show pagans the proper way to live. He imagined he was the messiah, a person predicted in scripture whose mission was to establish social and economic equity on earth. It is likely he was convinced his God was intending to intervene in the affairs of men to initiate the kingdom of God. None of these fantasies ever came to fruition.
As he grew up, he would have seen his fellow Galileans violently oppressed and impoverished by the Romans. He had a close relationship with his cousin John, who created a grassroots anti-Roman movement, which he joined. Herod Antipas had John murdered because he was a threat to the political stability of Galilee. Yeshua was brave enough to take over the leadership, and he worked hard to rally common Jews to his cause, although his less militant countrymen eschewed joining his ranks.
His attempt to overthrow the Romans looked promising because of the enthusiasm with which he was sometimes received, yet he had no military experience or intelligence, and no cachet of weapons, so it is not surprising that he fell flat. He had talked the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. The Romans captured, scourged, and crucified him, a punishment reserved for rebellious rascals who threatened Roman rule.
Yeshua didn’t achieve much. As he was dying in agony on a cross, he would have wondered why his God hadn’t helped him, and he must have figured he was a failure. Memories of other Jews crucified by the Romans may have flashed through his mind. His goal had been to bring forth a glorious Israel, yet he became the latest inclusion to a long list of dead messiahs. Before he took his last breath, it may have dawned on him that the Romans might never be defeated.
It is ironic that the Romans, the very people Yeshua despised, adopted him as their hero some three centuries after they killed him, and then blamed his own people, the Jews, for his death.
I do feel some respect for him because he had a hard life, and stood up for what he believed in. He tried hard to make a difference for his Jewish compatriots. Many decades later, the gospels would falsely portray him as a person who praised the meek, yet he was a proud man who refused to accept poverty and oppression.
There have been over eighty thousand books written about Jesus in the last hundred years, so this assessment of his life is one of many. It fits well, I believe, with what we do know about the place and time in which he is said to have existed. I admit that my assessment doesn’t lie well with everything he allegedly said. John’s gospel has Jesus saying
“… My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36 KJB.) Matthew has Jesus say
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Mattthew 5:9 KJB.) I hope the reader appreciates how unhistorical and silly quotes such as these are. As a consequence, “Jesus” is inconsistent. The honest historian must at some point have an educated guess as to what may be fact and what is fiction, and I think lines like these are fictional.
No one knows the whole truth about what happened two thousand years ago. Yet surely my analysis makes much more sense than the traditional tale. It is realistic, logical and plausible. One doesn’t need to have spent a lifetime studying the Bible or Judaism to realize it rings true. One has to either be a diehard Christian, or deliberately dishonest, to reject outright the account I’ve just given about Yeshua.
Jesus of the Gospels is a Concocted Myth!
“Christians at all levels of intelligence and capacity are being denied access to vital information concerning their religion, and this curtailment of information helps breed either an attitude of ill-founded complacency, or one of smug self-certainty. Living in a kind of metaphysical dream, the custodians of ‘old fashioned’ Christianity stumble from one futile explanation of New Testament events to another. Jesus was sinless; Jesus was sexless; Jesus was all-knowing; Jesus is the Savior of the whole World; Jesus is God. Such sentiments slip easily from the lips when the mind has been overtaken by spiritual vertigo due to intellectual undernourishment.”
The Jesus of theology has replaced the Yeshua of history. One has to winnow out the substance from the gloss. We should now discard the gloss.
Yeshua’s primary agenda was not to preach philosophy. A wandering teacher’s pithy observations on life would not have wooed crowds of thousands, nor would they have attracted the attention of the Romans, Herod, Sadducees, or Pharisees. People were too poor and the times too hard for that. Yeshua was popular because he was a potential messiah, a charismatic young zealot supposedly from David’s bloodline who was crazy brave enough to stand up to the Romans.
Churches have misrepresented his message to make it personal rather than social, and spiritual rather than political. The real Yeshua has been buried beneath a mountain of creeds, jargon and mysteries concocted many years after he died. Christianity only emerged decades after his death – and became a religion primarily for gentiles. It used a story about him to create something new that was not Jewish and that he would not have understood or approved of. He was not the meek lamb of God. He did not think he was God’s son, and nor did any of his original disciples. He did not suppose he was the savior of the world. To sacrifice himself for gentile sinners would not have crossed his mind. He never once thought he was the central figure of a new religious cult. He did not rise from the dead. The imaginative Paul of Tarsus, put forward all these fictions. Yeshua never met Paul, yet if he had would have despised him for promoting pagan propaganda.
The Romans actually crucified Jesus twice; once in real life, and then again by lying about his legacy. Why they repeated the act is discussed in my book.
It can be argued that to keep Yeshua trapped in the Christian paradigm is disrespectful to the real man, and, more importantly, confuses many people with a web of complex falsehoods. Christians may ask whether it makes any sense to:
- Believe that Yeshua had a love for gentiles, the very people who humiliated, tortured, and executed him?
- Decide that a dead Jesus can somehow control the state of the world or an individual’s destiny?
Many commentators over the last couple of centuries have reached some of the same conclusions. Most of them have not had “anti-Christian” agendas; they were honest historians who believed in the importance of the truth.