What would the historical Jesus think?

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Alan D. Griffin's picture
What would the historical Jesus think?

Who do you think the historical Jesus thought he was? What do you think he wanted from tge movement he founded? What would the historical Jesus think of the religion that came out of his teachings?

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Nyarlathotep's picture
no such animal

no such animal

watchman's picture
Pretty much what Nyarlathotep

Pretty much what Nyarlathotep said...

.... but if you mean what would the Jesus character think...

then I think he would not recognise anything in Christianity....
His aim was supposed to be the redemption / correction of Judaism.
I think the religion that claims decent from his supposed teachings would be a constant and painful reminder of the extent of the failure of his mission.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Yeah, if you want to go with

Yeah, if you want to go with the character from the story, might as well ask what Frodo would do. But I'd guess the mythological character of Jesus would be appalled that churches make enough money to have fancy building, fancy equipment, and can pay their employees enough to drive fancy cars; when that money could be spent on the needy. He was pretty adamant about that kind of thing...

Pitar's picture
Echoing all above. Based on

Echoing all above. Based on the character Scott Bidstrup brings to light that was eulogized by Paul, the miscreant would probably be thinking he got the last laugh.

Alan D. Griffin's picture
I am an Atheist but there is

I am an Atheist but there is a difference between Jesus not being God and not existing at all. There is enough extra biblical sources that the man lived and died on a cross. Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the younger,Suetonius, etc. Jesus seems to be a disciple of John the Baptist destined to surpass him. This leads me to the conclusion that if John the Baptist was a member of the Essenes than his cousin Jesus, according to Luke’s Gospel, would also be part of that sect. Jesus’ teachings, sayings and actions would also seem to line up more with what we know about the Essenes than the other three known sects of Judaism in the first century. Jesus seems more of a socio-political revolutionary than a religious leader. The Prophets Amos and Jeremiah especially preached on reformation of the treatment of the poor and marginalized when facing the impending Assyrian invasion around 722 BCE. I believed that the main motivation for this was that to withstand the Assyrians they would require this segment of the population to be willing to fight off the invaders for the Kingdom of Israel and Jerusalem to stand a fighting chance and under their current treatment the poor and marginalized were more likely to simply flee than to stand and fight. Lack of these reforms resulted in the conquering of Israel and much of Judah except the city of Jerusalem who became somewhat subservient to the Assyrians and forced to pay homage to Assyria to insure their survival. Jesus seems to have picked up on this idea and went out of his way to support and keep company with the poor, the outcast, and marginalized population to achieve a climate of peaceful revolt against the Roman occupiers. I believe his intentional capture and crucifixion he thought would be the push his revolution needed to change the dynamic of the Palestinian region. I believe Paul set out to continue Jesus’ mission of social revolution through the poor and marginalized but his manifested into a religion about Jesus that spiraled into a belief system distinct from Jesus’ original message. The great success of the spread of Christianity owes a great debt of gratitude to the roman infrastructure of hundreds of miles of roads and an intricate port system that keep this great world religion from becoming a small isolated religion that may have remain at the level of a Jewish cult without them.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Professorgrif2003 - "There is

Professorgrif2003 - "There is enough extra biblical sources that the man lived and died on a cross. Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the younger,Suetonius"

Every single person you mentioned was born after the character "Jesus" from the story supposedly died; they are not primary sources.

Alan D. Griffin's picture
Yes. That is why they are

Yes. That is why they are called historians. They wrote about the past.

Alan D. Griffin's picture
Most of the people you

Most of the people you learned about in school we don't have primary sources for. What about Socrates? Maybe Plato made him up!

Nyarlathotep's picture
It's a good point, it is not

It's a good point, it is not clear entirely clear how real the character of Socrates is... But for what it is worth, Plato is a primary source... Unlike the ones you mentioned for Jesus.

Pitar's picture
Agree with Nyarlathotep here.

Agree with Nyarlathotep here. I suggest you get some archeological accounts contrasted with the bible timeline, prof. You might see the only figure remotely similar to this jesus character is actually a trouble-making misfit name Yeishu ha Notzri.


"The most prominent of the many movements to 'reJudaify' Judaism was the Essene Movement. Founded in the second century B.C.E., the Essenes were either founded by or greatly influenced by a "Teacher of Righteousness," to which the Dead Sea Scrolls make constant reference without ever naming. One individual who fits the scanty evidence is a Yeishu ha Notzri, Jesus or Jesua, or Yeshua or Joshua ben Pantera or Pentera or Pandera or Pandira, who apparently had some influence with this movement, but may have been much more than that; we simply don't know. Indeed, there are even several first-century Christian references to this supposed miracle worker.

If he was the Teacher of Righteousness referred to by the Dead Sea Scrolls, as some have suggested, his impact on the movement towards Jewish reform was considerable. And if he was the Teacher of Righteousness, it would answer a lot of interesting questions, such as the scattered first century Christian and Talmudic references to a miracle worker named Yeishu ha Notzri, known to first-century Christians as Jesus or Jesua ben Pantera. Among them are a quote from Origen, saying that his arch-rival Celsus had heard from a Jew in Jerusalem that "Jesus Ben Pantera" was born of Mary as the result of a rape by a Roman soldier named Pantera, and had borne the baby in secret (most scholars now regard this claim to be a first-century legend resulting from misinterpretation of the facts).

That the first century Christians may have feared there was some truth to this rumor is evidenced by the fact of Mark's obvious embarrassment regarding the origins of Jesus; Mark, the first writer of a canonic gospel, never mentions Joseph as the actual husband of Mary. Note also that it was both the Roman custom and the custom of the Jews to include a patrilineal surname as part of a person's full name; yet nowhere in the New Testament does the surname of Jesus, (or Joseph, for that matter) appear. There is at least one Talmudic reference to Jeshu as being the illegitimate son of an adultress named Mary Magdala. There are several interesting references to a Yeishu ha Notzri (note the resemblance of the name to "Jesus of Nazareth"), who traveled around and practiced magic during the reign of Alexander Janneus, who ruled Palestine from 104 to 78 BCE. As these references are Talmudic (from the Baraitas and the Gemara), and therefore presumed by Christian scholars to be anti-Christian; Christian apologeticists have simply dismissed them as referring to someone else or being fabricated propaganda. But if they are genuine, and they really do refer to the Jesus of whom the Christians speak, they add evidence to the claim that the Jesus of Nazareth story is really based on the life of Yieshu ha Notzri, possibly the Essene "Teacher of Righteousness." Evidence points to him being the founder of the Notzri as the sects were known in first century Palestine, and as the Jesus Movements to modern scholars.

It must be noted here is that the version of the Talmud still used by most modern Christian scholars, is normally the version known to have been heavily edited by Christians by the 16th century - presumably to remove the dangerous references to Yeishu ha Notzri and his followers, the Notzrim, the account of which is absent from this version. But the pristine version, still used by Jewish scholars, gives us some rich detail. Yeishu ha Notzri was considered by the temple authorities of the time to be a troublemaking heretic, and when they had finally had enough of him, they put him on trial. He was convicted of heresy, sentenced to wander the city for 40 days, with a crier going before him, shouting that if anyone had reason why he should not be executed, they should come forward. When no did, he was stoned to death, and his body hung from a tree on the eve of passover, in 88 B.C.E. Note the death on the eve of passover. Note also the hanging of the body from a tree - at the time, a sign of despicability, with its resemblance to the crucifixion myth."

- Scott Bidstrup


Alan D. Griffin's picture
Actually there were quite a

Actually there were quite a few messianic claims around the time of Jesus.

Travis Hedglin's picture
From what I understand about

From what I understand about the fictional character called Jesus, he would be horrified and call Christianity an abomination.

Alan D. Griffin's picture
Well known Messianic Claims

Well known Messianic Claims
Cyrus the Great- (538 BCE) Who roused from the east him that victory hails at every step? Who presents him with nations, subdues kings to him? His sword makes dust of them and his bow scatters them like straw. He pursues them and advances unhindered, his feet scarcely touching the road. Who is the author of this deed if not he who calls the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, who am the first and shall be with the last. (Isaiah 41:2-4)
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he has taken by his right hand to subdue nations before him and strip the loins of kings, to force gateways before him that their gates be closed no more: I will go before you levelling the heights. I will shatter the bronze gateways, smash the iron bars. I will give you the hidden treasures, the secret hoards, that you may know that I am the Lord. (Isaiah 45:1-3)

The Bandit Chief Hezekiah (approx. 60-40BCE) - openly declared himself Messiah that would restore the Judah to its former glory. The Bandits robbed from wealthy Jews who took land and property from their fellow Jews backed by roman power and money and gave it to the poor and displaced. Captured by Herod the Great in Galilee and Beheaded.
Judas the Galilean-( 6 CE) There was one Judas, a Galilean, of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Zadok, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt. Both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same. So men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height.
[Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.4-6]

Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth branch of Jewish philosophy. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord.
[Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.23]
He perished by the sword.
Simon of Peraea-( 4 BCE) "There was also Simon, who had been a slave of king Herod, but in other respects a comely person, of a tall and robust body; he was one that was much superior to others of his order, and had had great things committed to his care. This man was elevated at the disorderly state of things, and was so bold as to put a diadem on his head, while a certain number of the people stood by him, and by them he was declared to be a king, and he thought himself more worthy of that dignity than any one else."
"He burnt down the royal palace at Jericho, and plundered what was left in it. He also set fire to many other of the king's houses in several places of the country, utterly destroyed them, and permitted those that were with him to take what was left in them for a prey. He would have done greater things, but care was taken to repress him immediately. [The commander of Herod's infantry] Gratus joined himself to some Roman soldiers, took the forces he had with him, and met Simon. And after a great and a long fight, no small part of those that had come from Peraea (a disordered body of men, fighting rather in a bold than in a skillful manner) were destroyed. Although Simon had saved himself by flying away through a certain valley, Gratus overtook him, and cut off his head." – Flavis Josephus

A tablet, known as the Gabriel's Revelation or The Jeselsohn Stone, was found near the Dead Sea some time around the year 2000. It has been associated with the same community which created the Dead Sea scrolls and mentions Simon. Israel Knohl reads the inscription as a command from the angel Gabriel "to rise from the dead within three days". He takes this command to be directed at a 1st-century Jewish rebel called Simon, who was killed by the Romans in 4 BC. In Knohl's view the finding "calls for a complete reassessment of all previous scholarship on the subject of messianism, Jewish and Christian alike".[3]
Athronges the shepherd boy- (4BCE) Athronges, a person neither eminent by the dignity of his progenitors, nor for any great wealth he possessed. For he had been a mere shepherd, not known by anybody. But because he was a tall man, and excelled others in the strength of his hands, he was so bold as to set up for king. This man thought it so sweet a thing to do more than ordinary injuries to others, that, although he risked his life, he did not much care if he lost it in so great a design.
He had four brothers, who were tall men themselves, and were believed to be superior to others in the strength of their hands, and thereby were encouraged to aim at great things, and thought that strength of theirs would support them in retaining the kingdom. Each of these ruled over a band of men of their own (for those that got together to them were very numerous). They were every one of them also commanders; but when they came to fight, they were subordinate to him, and fought for him. After he had put a diadem about his head, he assembled a council to debate about what things should be done, and all things were done according to his pleasure. So, this man retained his power a great while; he was also called king, and had nothing to hinder him from doing what he pleased.
Together with his brothers, he slew a great many of both of Roman and of the king's forces, and managed matters with the like hatred to each of them. They fell upon the king's soldiers because of the licentious conduct they had been allowed under Herod's government; and they fell upon the Romans, because of the injuries they had so lately received from them. But in process of time they grew more cruel to all sorts of men, nor could anyone escape from one or other of these seditions, since they slew some out of the hopes of gain, and others from a mere custom of slaying men.
Once, they attacked a Roman company at Emmaus, soldiers who were bringing grain and weapons to the army, and fell upon Arius, the centurion, who commanded the company, and shot forty of the best of his foot soldiers. The other Romans panicked after this slaughter, left their dead behind them, and were saved by Gratus, who came to their assistance with the king's troops that he commanded. Now these four brethren continued the war a long while by such sort of expeditions, and they much grieved the Romans; but they did their own nation also a great deal of mischief.
Afterwards they were subdued; one of them in a fight with Gratus, another with Ptolemy; Herod Archelaus took the eldest of them prisoner; while the last of them was so dejected at the other's misfortune, and saw so plainly that he had no way now left to save himself, his army being worn away with sickness and continual labors, that he also delivered himself up to Archelaus, upon his promise and oath to God to preserve his life. But these things came to pass a good while afterward.
Jesus of Nazareth- (30 CE) At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of the people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.
[Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.63-64]
It should be stressed that this is a reconstruction of Josephus' words; our manuscripts are full of interpolations. (Go here for a discussion of the exact wording of this text.) The historical fact that Jesus was called Messiah, lies hidden in the words 'the tribe of Christians, named after him'; Josephus uses the Greek word Christos to translate Messiah. It needs to be stressed that he uses this title only for Jesus of Nazareth. A parallel can be found in the following line:
[The Roman governor] Festus was now dead, and [his successor] Albinus was still upon the road. So [the high priest] Ananus assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of that Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some of his companions. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.
[Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 20.200]
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.' When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where the Messiah should be born. And they said unto him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come a governor, that shall rule My people Israel.'
[Matthew 2.1-6
quoting a variant reading of Micah 5.1]
• Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to the cross as king of the Jews (multiple attestation; embarrassment). The word 'king', which may be a translation of the messianic title Nasi, can be used as a synonym for 'Messiah', as we can observe in the quote from Matthew above.
• Too many messianic titles are applied to Jesus to be incidental. In several contexts, he is called son of David, son of man, and king.
• Jesus was -in a way- anointed at Bethany (multiple attestation: Mark 14.3-9 and John 12.1-9).
• Elements of Jesus behavior are in line with what was expected from the Messiah: he explained the Law of Moses (multiple attestation) and was able to cast out demons (multiple attestation, in one case embarrassment).
• Jesus wanted to restore Israel - the Messiah's core activity. He did not want his disciples to go to the pagans, but urged them to look 'for the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matthew 10.5 and 18.11-14). This is in marked contrast with the first Christians' missionary activity among the pagans and cannot be invented.
• Jesus regarded his own ministry as the inauguration of the 'kingdom of God' (several stories, all attested in several sources; to a certain extent, these stories are embarrassing, because God did not intervene in human history).
• Jesus wanted to purify the Temple (multiple attestation; embarrassment), which the Messiah was expected to do. The two most important stories are Jesus' triumphal entry in Jerusalem (Mark 11.4-11; John 12.12-16) and his attempt to cleanse the sanctuary (Mark 11.15-18 and John 2.13-22). The fact that John places this story as far away from the crucifixion as possible, indicates embarrassment.

[Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 17.278-284]

The Samaritan- (36 CE) For a man who made light of mendacity and in all his designs catered to the mob, rallied them, bidding them go in a body with him to Mount Gerizim, which in their belief is the most sacred of mountains. He assured them that on their arrival he would show them the sacred vessels which were buried there, where Moses had deposited them. His hearers, viewing this tale as plausible, appeared in arms. They posted themselves in a certain village named Tirathana, and, as they planned to climb the mountain in a great multitude, they welcomed to their ranks the new arrivals who kept coming. But before they could ascend, Pilate blocked their projected route up the mountain with a detachment of cavalry and heavily armed infantry, who in an encounter with the first comers in the village slew some in a pitched battle and put the others to flight. Many prisoners were taken, of whom Pilate put to death the principal leaders and those who were most influential among the fugitives. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.85-87]
Theudas- (45 CE) It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.
[(Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98]

Menahem (66CE) - In the mean time, one Menahem, the son of that Judas, who was called the Galilean [...] took some of the men of note with him, and retired to Masada, where he broke open king Herod's armory, and gave arms not only to his own people, but to other robbers also. These he made use of for a guard, and returned in the state of a king to Jerusalem; he became the leader of the sedition. (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.433-434)
After this, Menahem captured the governor's palace at Jerusalem, laid siege to some minor Roman fortifications and ordered the execution of the high priest. He was now the only leader of the Jewish revolt, and could boast remarkable successes. However, the son of the high priest, Eleasar, was the leader of the temple guard and Menahem's deadly enemy.
The overthrow of the places of strength, and the death of the high priest Ananias, so puffed up Menahem, that he became barbarously cruel; and as he thought he had no antagonist to dispute the management of affairs with him, he was no better than an insupportable tyrant. But Eleasar and his party [...] made an assault upon him in the temple, for he went up thither to worship in a pompous manner, and adorned with royal garments, and had his followers with him in their armor. Eleasar and his party fell violently upon him, as did also the rest of the people; taking up stones to attack him withal, they threw them at the scholar, and thought, that if he were once ruined, the entire sedition would fall to the ground. Menahem and his party made resistance for a while, but when they perceived that the whole multitude were falling upon them, they fled which way every one was able; those that were caught were slain, and those that hid themselves were searched for. A few of them escaped privately to Masada [...]. As for Menahem himself, he ran away to the place called Ophla, and there lay skulking in private; but they took him alive, and drew him out before them all; they then tortured him with many sorts of torments, and after all slew him, as they did by those that were captains under him also.
[Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.442-448]
There is no need to doubt whether Menahem claimed to be the Messiah. He was a warrior, entered Jerusalem dressed as a king, quarreled with the high priest (who may have entertained some doubts about Menahem's claim), and worshipped God in the Temple. We can be positive that Menahem wanted to be the sole ruler of a restored Israel. There are no indications that his rule was regarded as the inauguration of the end of times, but this was, of course, not necessary.
Jesus son of Ananias- (66 CE)But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, 23 began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" And when Albinus [for he was then our procurator] asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, "Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!" And just as he added at the last, "Woe, woe to myself also!" there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.
- Book 6, Chapter 5, Section 3 of the historian Flavius Josephus' The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem[5

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
"Jesus of Nazareth- (30 CE)

"Jesus of Nazareth- (30 CE) At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of the people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.
[Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.63-64]"

That is a well known forgery.
Get your facts strait.


There areso many parallels because the author created the Jesus character to mirror or to link real characters to Jesus and not just one, but as many as possible.

Here is what most likely really happened:
(skip the add)

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
Alan D. Griffin's picture
Very interesting and

Very interesting and definitely worth my time to research further! Thanks

Alan D. Griffin's picture
Very interesting theory by

Very interesting theory by Joseph Atwill. I see some flaws in his hypothesis but very intriguing and I am definitely going to follow up and do some research on his theory thanks Jeff Vella Leone!

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
You are welcome, if you have

You are welcome, if you have any questions about this topic do not hesitate to ask.

Alan D. Griffin's picture
Thanks I will

Thanks I will

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
what flaws did you find? Got

what flaws did you find? Got me curious :P

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