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Because Jesus’ last two years comprise a drama characterized by hitherto unrecognized events, my investigation (“A Documented Biography of Jesus…”) has the aspect of an unfolding mystery story. Really, the mystery has been created by the Gospel text, as its passages alchemize the tragedy of Jesus’ gruesome end, turning his crucifixion into eternal life and salvation. In their attempt to conceal the terrible reality of what happened, the Gospel authors and editors, obscure historical recollections beneath their falsehoods and exaggerations, whitewashing clues in the purifying font of what was the fledgling theology: Christianity, as it would be called.
(Among other notable 2015 occurrences, I would consider the recovery of the Matthias recollections, a preserved substratum of the Gospels recovered by my work, one of foremost significance in the field of New Testament studies. His role is fully explicated in my latest book, and he is also the leading figure in my historical novel, “The Matthias Scroll.”)
Naturally, no writer is enthusiastic about “giving away too much” of the story line of a new book. Still, I realize an academic work about Jesus may be more accessible to the lay reader with a little help. Therefore, those who have an interest in the subject may find their appetites whet by the following “firsts” –though the book provides a far more thorough and engaging discourse. Therefore, I am disclosing some of the contents, while emphasizing the complete historical account of the weeks before and after his death still awaits in “A Documented Biography of Jesus Before Christianity.”
With the Seventh Year completion of the tithing cycle, in the year 31 CE, Jesus sought to restore his disciples’ path to God’s anticipated Kingdom, imminent in the minds of most observant Jews of the north. It would be a time when the land was again free of Roman occupation, an ideal age under the rule of a descendant of King David as the ancient prophets envisaged.
But Jesus’ disciples’ ignorance of synagogue culture, Hebrew prayer, Torah commandments and Temple traditions made them conspicuous as possibly doubtful Hebrews–and raised suspicions about their teacher. His healing on Shabbat (the Sabbath), though nowhere prohibited in the Torah, was contrary to custom–as was his compassionate touch of those with possible diseases of “punishment” such as lifelong infirmities, ranging from atrophied limbs, to blindness, paralysis, or leprosy. Only offering assurance and hope that when God’s Kingdom commenced, all would be healed, Jesus’ words were exaggerated by his own disciples as if pronouncing forgiveness of sin, thus revealing his divine authority as the son of God.
Against the backdrop of increasing antagonism towards him, here is a sample of the recovered sequence of episodes deeply affecting his life.
Based on restored text, published in my work for the first time:
1. Jesus performs an exorcism on a congregant in the Sea of Galilee’s lakeside Kfar Nahum synagogue –a man whom he takes for possessed –but who is normal, only screaming at him out of terror.
2. Word spreads to Nazareth (his mother’s home) that he is evil, having tried to silence a devout Jew to keep him from exposing him as evil.
3. At a wedding in the nearby village of Cana, his mother tells him, “If you keep acting crazy, nobody will marry you.” He understands: People would suspect he didn’t know the identity of his father. (People believed a person who couldn’t identify their father went crazy–and most Nazareth neighbors hadn’t recalled seeing Joseph for years.)
4. From his mother’s warning, Jesus now knows he was born of adultery and that Joseph, who stopped coming to Nazareth when he was twelve, was not his biological father.
5. Faced with the question of how he should feel toward his mother for what she had done when she was only sixteen, he has the vision recorded as “the Adulteress Woman” –and he does not condemn her.
6. He now thinks that his teaching Torah may not have been inspired by God’s holy spirit, and may have been mouthed by the satanic voice of his unknown father –possibly a foreigner, or an idolator –and certainly an adulterer. What the Pietist Jews of the Galilee, that extremist offshoot of the more mainstream Pharisees, said about him was ringing true: He feared he had been promising his Torah-ignorant disciples entry into the Kingdom of God as if he were anointed with divine authority.
7. Overwhelmed by the sense of his own sin, for exalting himself as God’s anointed, Jesus steps toward the edge of the Temple mount, and contemplates leaping to his death. In the distance, from the precipice, he sees his cousin John, whose mother Elizabeth was Mary’s mother’s sister.
8. Seeking Covenantal purification of his defiled ancestry, Jesus stumbles down the mountain to John’s welcoming embrace.
9. John says, “God can raise descendants of Abraham from these river rocks.” And with that Jesus is immersed, cleansed in the rushing waters of the mikveh (as Jews called it for a millenium or more, and which Christians renamed the “baptism”).
10. Having repented any transgression he may have made, for seeming to his disciples a “master over Torah law” or equating himself with God –or having the authority to invite them to enter God’s imminent Kingdom –Jesus now atoned.
11. He told them: Anybody who changes a letter of the Torah will be least in God’s Kingdom;
declaring, the Torah will be sacred forever.
12. Further, he stopped all healings, recognizing they were interpreted by others as acts of forgiving sin (the diseases being seen as punishment by God). The only time he offered a paralyzed man his compassionate touch again, was when he was lowered through the broken open roof of Matthias’ house–broken open because Jesus did not want to let in those seeking his healing. And the words he addressed to the afflicted individual were conspicuously not words of forgiveness: “You will walk again,” Jesus said to him, offering the hope typical of all Jews that their suffering would end when God’s Kingdom commenced. To make sure he was not misunderstood, he added “It’s easier to tell him that than to get him to stand up and walk,” a bit of sarcasm at his own expense.
Generally known is the fact that other rabbis of Jesus’ era had made themselves conspicuous as healers with messianic powers, but at most only bore the brunt of popular mockery, not suffering official sanction nor the unimaginably gruesome punishment of crucifixion. Among the many historical issues surrounding Jesus’ last two years, therefore, one of the most contentious argued by scholars is what Jesus had done to cause his arrest –and why he was put to death. “A Documented Biography of Jesus Before Christianity” fully recovers Jesus’ last eighteen months and has the first complete, elaborate description of the actual events leading to his arrest, capture and crucifixion.