Jesus And His Gang
The three widespread run-by-the-book, corporate-style faith systems of the western world all contain huge discrepancies and contradictions within all their texts which are promoted as holy wisdom. Seekers have a right, therefore, to question anything written, copied and abridged by human intermediaries who sought to give some explanation for the unknowns which attend the variety and diversity that is life. Always in those “holy” accounts the “revealed” events were interpreted from what they needed or wished for, and which was colored by regional surroundings in their timeframe. In that methodology of evaluating such faith-promotional material, consider one possibility (among many) regarding the Christian icon, Jesus.
As noted in an earlier blog, a Jesus cult existed in Judea for decades before our Common Era timeframe. (See Pre-Christian Jesus Cult, Sept. 2013.) What if the name Jesus, which is derived from the name Joshua, was a name that was assumed by a zealot who led the opposition against the Herod-appointed priests who had replaced him in the Temple of Solomon? To the Jewish faithful the position of Temple priests was a question of legitimacy, for the Herod replacements were not of “the sons of Aaron.” That bold interference by Roman officials in customary Jewish appointment of priests was certainly an overreach in the usual Roman management style, for the gods of conquered regions were usually respected–even in Rome itself. Of course spiritual belligerence was not as sharply intrusive among other people as it was in the Jewish population.
If there had been an actual historical zealot leader, it would have been inspirational to the community if the leader would assume the name derived from Joshua, a name from Jewish myth of the merciless slaughterer of men, women, children and even the animals of the conquered people of Canaan. (Archaeological digs have revealed that Canaan was never violently subjugated by invading Israelites as depicted in the Jewish priest-author account.) The Roman authors of Gospels may well have utilized the Jewish rebel-model, the alleged savior of God’s “chosen ones,” but shrewdly altered the zealot into the gentle savior of the world for broader consumption. That certainly would gain the attention of the Jews.
A hint that Jesus was possibly based on an actual zealot–or what we today would call a “terrorist” or “guerrilla”–is indicated in Matthew 21:12-13. There it says, “…and Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” In the same chapter, the morning after his rampage in the temple, and hungry from overnight travel, Jesus cursed a barren fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season! That must have sorely perplexed his Father.
The scene of muscular disturbance in the temple is retold in Luke 19:45-47; “And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple, But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him.” It is important to remember that those priests and scribes referred to would have been individuals who had been installed in the temple by Herod.
Then in John 2:14-17 it relates, “And he (Jesus) found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15) And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables. 16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Then there follows another curious clue in verse 17, saying, “…the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”
These Matthew, Luke and John verses relating fierce actions taken by Jesus have long bewildered many scholars and clerics, for it seemingly runs counter to the “Prince of Peace” and gentle teacher image of Jesus that is commonly promoted. But if there had been such an actual temple incident it would have been widely known among the Jews themselves, and that historic happening could be utilized to possibly attract the disgruntled people toward the alleged teachings of the peaceful teacher.
The Roman author of the Gospel book John was well aware that the Jewish zealots had not accepted the Herod-appointed priests in the Temple of Solomon, especially in respect to the high priest. Herod was closely affiliated with Rome, therefore any resistance fighters would be considered to be in violation of Roman authority, which would merit crucifixion.
What these three Gospel versions may off-handedly infer is that the zealot who took on the name derived from the legendary Israelite’s savior Joshua may have been one of those priests demoted by Herod. Since the NT Jesus is depicted as having then “taught daily in the temple” (Luke 19) after driving out the merchants, it hints that he was familiar in that environment. No wonder those who had been appointed as priests by Herod would then call for Roman justice–not the Jewish death by stoning. This proposed scenario may be the closest that we will ever come to some actual historical link with Jesus, the star of Gospel.
Then there is the curious episode in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to Jesus being arrested, as told in Luke. Something much more dire than a crime of radical preaching is indicated in the conversation between Jesus and Peter when (22:33) Peter is quoted as saying, “…Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” The disciples are then warned of coming conflicts, and in verse 36 Jesus says, “…he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his script; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” In verse 38 his disciples said, “Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” Why is that ignored? Bluntly, this staging with weapons was in regard to something more subversive than a prayer meeting.
So the leader of the temple rebellion may well have served as the model-inspiration for the Roman authors of these texts in response to the constant Jewish uprisings in the Empire. But the aim, originally, of those authors, starting with Mark, was to soften the constant Jewish rebellions and perhaps gain converts. It was necessary, of course, to tone down the real model’s actual resistance to Roman rule in the storyline of the faith system that they were trying to put in place. However, the needed softening influences were available to them in prehistory cosmological/creation lessons, Pagan myths, Gnosticism, and mystery school instruction.