By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
This fine article is in true service to the citizens of Arizona. Congratulations on a job well done.
Richard M. Romley
Maricopa County attorney
What in the world was Barry Graham thinking ("Let Nothing You Dismay," December 25)? The existence of a Christian movement and of Christian churches throughout the Mediterranean, in sufficient numbers to attract Nero's attention in the persecution of A.D. 64, is powerful and contemporaneous evidence that Jesus lived on Earth. Apparently, the lack of historical evidence for the life of Jesus is not really Graham's point, because he admits that there is other, and even more compelling, evidence of Jesus--in India! Graham observes that there are parallels between the Bhagavad Gita and stories concerning Moses and Jesus in the Old and New Testaments. Of course, the Bhagavad Gita and the Old Testament were committed to writing centuries before Jesus lived, so nothing in those writings can be taken as historical evidence for the life of someone yet to be born.
What other powerful evidence do we have that Jesus was in India? Well, Graham thinks Jesus had enough money to travel to India, and apparently that counts as evidence that he actually made the trip. And how do we know that Jesus had money? Because he attended a "high society" wedding. In fact, he provided the wine, so it must have been his own wedding! But wait--if it was a "high society" wedding, and if Jesus was both well-heeled and the groom who was responsible for providing the beverages, why didn't he have enough wine for his guests? Why did Jesus have to resort to miracles to provide wine at his own wedding? And why was Jesus telling other people to give up their worldly possessions and to follow him, when all the time Graham would have us believe that Jesus was holding on to his own money, and wouldn't even spend it to buy enough wine for his guests?
I was surprised to learn that speculation about the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene has advanced to the point where we can claim that they were married. When exactly was that discovery made? Graham might be interested to know that there is a Gospel of Mary [Magdalene], asserting Mary's authority as a witness to the true teachings of Jesus, in conflict with Peter and some other apostles. The Gospel of Mary survives only in early Greek fragments and in a later Coptic translation, and it is not a part of the New Testament canon--but if the people responsible for the Gospel of Mary believed that she was one of the very few "true" witnesses to the teachings of Jesus Christ, it is certainly remarkable that they didn't even bother to acknowledge that Jesus and Mary were also husband and wife.
Predictably, all of this lame speculation leads us to the work of the so-called Jesus Seminar and the Historical Jesus Movement, credited by Graham with the examination of theological questions "from a modern, scientific perspective." According to the "scientific" method pursued by the Jesus Seminar, every scholar's opinion is just as good as every other scholar's opinion, because their "scholarly conclusions" are arrived at by voting anonymously and without explanation. I will grant that the methods of the Jesus Seminar are modern, but they are hardly scientific. Much better work has been done by more serious scholars during the past two centuries, and many careful and serious works of scholarship are still being produced today. People who are genuinely interested in the subjects treated by Barry Graham in this column would have been better served by a more responsible discussion of that work.
One does not have to believe in Jesus Christ, although accuracy in journalism is important. Perhaps Barry Graham was not aware of The Archko Volume that records "official documents" made in the courts in the days of Jesus Christ. The publisher is Keats Publishing, and documents are translated from manuscripts from Constantinople.
Included is a letter from Pontius Pilate to Tiberius Caesar explaining the commotion in Jerusalem on the day of Christ's crucifixion. It's quite difficult to refute Roman government documents. Pilate even tries to explain the disturbances over the resurrection. Another thought-provoking work is that of Josh McDowell, More Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Perhaps curious people would be interested.
Black Canyon City
Barry Graham tackled a prodigious cultural topic: "Jesus." Four extant Jewish sects were present during the period A.D. 1 to A.D. 70, the year in which Rome decimated Jerusalem, leaving nothing standing except what is known today as the Wailing Wall. Afterward, Jewish survivors were sent packing in what is still referred to as the Diaspora or dispersion, to wherever they might find refuge nearest in the Mediterranean region, which also included Rome.
Jesus was member of the Jewish Essene sect, but there were also Christists, Sadducees and Pharisees. Flavius Josephus lived with the Essenes for a number of years, wrote about them, as did Apuleius and Lucian who also were well-informed regarding the life of Jesus, mentioned well in the Jewish Talmud.
Rome crucified violent insurrectionists such as the Christist leader Ioannes in A.D. 33 not Jesus Bar-Abbas, the Essene. Rome was interested in order but, more than that, never asked Jewish people whom they should crucify. Later in Rome from A.D. 70 to A.D. 370, during the telling, retelling and the putting of quill to paper in the writing and rewriting, Jesus was accidentally, on purpose, confused with Ioannes the Christist leader, in the Greatest Story Ever Told essentially combining the two separate people. Thus Jesus the Essene plus Ioannes the Christist equals Jesus the Christist; i.e., edited to the more familiar "Christian" name--Jesus Christ.
The abject non sequitur in such union, thus the ensuing confusion felt about these two disparate types, may go some distance in explaining the attendant profanity occasionally surrounding the name. The actual Jesus, an Essene holy man, was quite a Moses in his own right, having authored "Every Son's Prayer to the Father" (today known at "The Lord's Prayer"). Jesus also wrote and delivered the Sermon on the Mount, which is perhaps, to this day, the apex of Western civilization. The Essenes foresaw the Diaspora and that a worldwide myth would be made of what they taught prior to its being understood later in history (which remains to be seen); this was recorded, among other things, in their scrolls, discovered near the Dead Sea in 1948.