James and Paul – Faith and Deeds

FAITH AND DEEDS

As noted in the preceding chapter, Paul used the example of Abraham to illustrate the ideal of faith. In Genesis 15:6: “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” This passage underpinned Paul’s gospel. According to Paul, anyone who believed or had faith in the blood of Christ would be considered righteous and forgiven before God.

James also used Genesis 15:6 in his letter. According to James’ interpretation, it was not just faith but faith accompanied by works which set Abraham apart.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (James 2:20-24)

Let us apply some logic to the example of Abraham. If Abraham had refused to offer Isaac on the altar, would Abraham have been considered righteous by God? Abraham could have said, “I believe in you God, but I will not do what you ask. Try me again next week!” No, Abraham went against his own better judgment and began offering his son in sacrifice. That was faith. An utterance from our lips does not prove faith, yet our actions show our worship. If we cheat and steal, our actions show that we worship money, even though we may go to church twice a week and proclaim Jesus.

James wrote: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead,” (James 2:17) and “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” In short, faith is not really faith without good works. In essence, James was telling Paul and his disciples that their faith was absolutely worthless unless accompanied by action. And the first action would be circumcision, the seal in the everlasting covenant between God and man.

In Galatians, certain men came from James who taught that following the law of God was necessary for salvation. (Gal. 2:12; 3:1-4) This also was the case in the King Izates conversion as related by Josephus (Ant. 20.34-48). Paul, afraid to lose his following, asked them, “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” Here, Paul directly opposed James’ theology of faith made relevant by actions.

Remember, James stated that even the demons believe. He, therefore, did not hold to the simple faith or belief as espoused by Paul. Paul wrote in Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Paul substituted believing in the resurrection for obeying the law. James certainly believed in the resurrection, yet he also knew that God required man to obey His laws. According to James, you could not substitute belief for following the law. To James, belief was made alive by following the law.

Paul wrote about the difference between his Gentiles and the Jews, the difference between faith and works:

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. (Romans 9:30-32)

This Pauline theology has been accepted over the past 1900 years by the Gentile Church, but it was never accepted by the Jewish Christians as represented by James and Cephas. Certainly, Paul did not preach his new gospel in the early years of his ministry. This evolution in thought, prodded by revelations from the Risen Christ, made Paul view the Gentiles differently. He planned to reach them through a unique message, a mixture of the Jesus story with the prevalent mystery religions of the day. In that way, his Gentile followers really did not need to change dramatically. If Paul had followed the ways of Jesus, James and Cephas, then he would have had to preach the law and circumcision to his followers. This would have slowed the growth among the Gentiles. In his desire to reach and convert as many Gentiles as possible, Paul abandoned the original message of Jesus and created his own hybrid religion. In the end, due to the Jewish war with Rome, Paul’s version won out.

View my new book, Judas of Nazareth, at www.danielunterbrink.com

Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers:

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The Gospel of Paul – The Lord’s Supper

THE LORD’S SUPPER

Did Paul invent the Lord’s Supper? Surely, the Jewish apostles shared bread together, but did they really celebrate the Lord’s Supper as claimed by Paul? Let us look at the passage concerning the Lord’s Supper from 1 Corinthians.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed [handed over], took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Cor. 11:23-26) (Emphasis mine)

It must be remembered that this was the earliest attestation to the Lord’s Supper. The Gospel accounts were at least a generation later. So it is extremely interesting that Paul received this Lord’s Supper directly from the Lord Jesus. Since Paul never met Jesus in the flesh, any message received from the Lord had to come through revelation. This is exactly what Paul wrote in Gal. 1:12 about his own gospel: “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” Certainly, this Lord’s Supper did not come from any other man as well. It, too, was a revelation from Jesus Christ. Consider what this means. Paul invented the Lord’s Supper and the Gospel writer’s simply incorporated this ritual into their rewrite of history.

This invention scenario is not far-fetched. What law abiding Jew would have spoken about a cup of wine being the “new covenant in my blood.” First, that Jew had to assume that the old covenant was not everlasting. This, in and of itself, made the statement unacceptable to the Jews. Second, God did not approve of human sacrifice. In Leviticus 20:1-5, the Lord told Moses that anyone sacrificing his children to Molech must be put to death. As the Pharisees would have argued: if it were a sin for the people to sacrifice their children, how much greater a sin for God to sacrifice one of his children. Third, Paul claimed that righteousness was given by God through faith in the blood of Jesus. (Rom. 3:22) This was not part of any Jewish group’s belief system, especially the Fourth Philosophy. They believed that righteousness was given by God based upon a person’s actions and intentions. Therefore, the law abiding followers of Jesus (Judas the Galilean) would never have practiced this pagan exercise, coined the Lord’s Supper.

The universally translated phrase “on the night he was betrayed,” has been incorporated into the Gospel lore. The Greek word translated as betrayed actually means “handed over” or “delivered over.” This is incredibly important for our current study. According to my theory, Judas the Galilean was the historical Jesus of Nazareth. In this theory, Judas Iscariot never even existed. Note that Paul did not mention a betrayer, only that Jesus had been handed over. Did not the High Priests hand Jesus over to Pilate? Could this passage by Paul have nothing whatsoever to do with Judas Iscariot? Later in this same letter, Paul stated that the resurrected Jesus appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. (1 Cor. 15:5) In the Great Commission, recorded in Matt. 28:16, the Eleven disciples were instructed by Jesus. (See also Mark 16:14 and Luke 24:33. John 20:24 had Jesus appearing to Ten, as Thomas was not with the others.) Now either the Gospels were wrong about the Eleven or Paul about the Twelve. The earlier passage by Paul, no doubt, related the real story. Jesus appeared to the Twelve, proving that a betrayal did not occur.

Finally, Paul stated that his disciples would continue to celebrate the Lord’s Supper until Jesus returned. In this, Paul was no different that the Jerusalem apostles. They too believed that Jesus would return, not as the Prince of Peace but as an avenging destroyer of Rome (See Revelation!) So while Paul also taught that the end was near, his vision of the return of Christ was much different than that of the Twelve.

View my new book, Judas of Nazareth, at www.danielunterbrink.com

Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers:

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The Gospel of Paul – Marriage

MARRIAGE

Was Jesus married? Certainly, the Gospels depicted Jesus as a leader of a small band of male apostles with only sporadic mention of any females. Nowhere in these documents is there overt mention of him being married. However, several passages suggest otherwise. In Matt. 8:14, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Even though the Gospels did not directly state that Peter or any of the other Apostles were married, this passage tells us contrary. Peter was married, and his wife probably traveled with him. If Jesus headed a band of married apostles, then could he have been married as well?

In the War and Antiquities, Josephus wrote that the Pharisees and one sect of the Essenes married. In fact, the Fourth Philosophy of Judas the Galilean followed the tenets of the Pharisees (Ant. 18.23). We know that the later Sicarii married and had children as those at Masada were comprised of whole families. Of the last mention of the Sicarii, Josephus wrote this about their children, who showed great courage under persecution:

But what was most of all astonishing to the beholders, was the courage of the children; for not one of these children was so far overcome by these torments as to name Caesar for their lord. (War 7.419)

Considering that the Pharisees, Fourth Philosophy and one sect of the Essenes married, it is hard to believe that Jesus did not marry as well. His disciples had wives, per Matt. 8:13 and 1 Cor. 9:5, where Paul asked: Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” Everyone must have been married except Jesus! This is so improbable that only the most devout practitioners of the traditional view could possibly accept it. In fact, Jesus did marry. If Jesus were Judas the Galilean, as I claim, then he would have had many sons and daughters. According to Josephus, Judas had at least three sons, named James, Simon and Menahem. He very well could have had more but those are the only ones central to Josephus’ narrative.

In Matt. 13:55, the mother and brothers of Jesus are enumerated. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” We are to believe that the great prophet and Messiah, Jesus, was being followed by his mother and brothers, who themselves did not believe in him. My alternate solution is as follows: Mary was the wife of Jesus and his sons were James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. It certainly would be appropriate for the wife and children of the Messiah to be traveling with him.

The wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) has been transformed from a wedding to a miracle. Taking away the miracle, Jesus and Mary ordered servants concerning the wine situation. In all likelihood, Jesus and Mary were the bridegroom and bride. This has been taken to unrecognizable directions by some, claiming that the heirs of this couple traveled to France. This is interesting stuff but beyond this inquiry. I think it is fair to say that Jesus was a married man with several children.

By Paul’s own words, all of the other apostles were married. So why was Paul single? He gave a hint of his own situation in 1 Cor. 7.

It is good for a man not to marry. …I wish that all men were as I am. …But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. …I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. (1 Cor. 7:1-2, 7, 32-33)

Paul was single because he only had concern for the Lord’s business. He later brought this up when comparing himself to the Jewish apostles, Cephas and the Lord’s brothers (1 Cor. 9:5-6). His stand on marriage was, therefore, another way to compare himself positively against his rivals for the faith. The above passage was also instrumental in creating an unmarried Jesus. The argument would go as such: If Paul were celibate, surely Jesus was as well. How untidy it would seem for the Savior of the world to be henpecked and taken away from the Lord’s work!

This same passage was the underpinning of the Catholic Church’s ban on marriage for the priesthood. This is particularly odd considering the Catholics consider Peter their first Pope. We have already noted from Matthew and I Corinthians that this Cephas (Peter) was married. The real reason behind the ban on marriage for the priesthood was purely economic. The Church did not want any church property being inherited by the sons and daughters of the priesthood. So much for being unconcerned about the world’s affairs!

View my new book, Judas of Nazareth, at www.danielunterbrink.com

Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers:

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The Gospel of Paul – Grace, the Law, and Circumcision

THE GOSPEL OF PAUL

When examining Paul’s letters for his true teachings, we must keep in mind that Paul’s gospel was different than anything that went before. Paul stated:

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:11-12) (Emphasis mine)

This should be shocking to most present day Christians, who assume that Jesus taught the gospel to his disciples (the Twelve) and they then taught it to the world. According to Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This great commission was given to the Eleven (per the Gospels, Judas had committed suicide). How can it be that Paul’s gospel was a direct revelation from Jesus? Why was Paul’s gospel different than the one preached by Cephas and James? After all, Cephas and James had contact with the earthly Jesus and the resurrected Jesus. Was Jesus just a poor communicator or were Cephas and James a bit too slow to understand the real message of Jesus?

GRACE, THE LAW, AND CIRCUMCISION

The best way to approach this matter is by outlining Paul’s gospel, by using Paul’s letters to the Romans, Corinthians and Galatians. A wealth of information comes from these documents, making it unnecessary to entertain the disputed letters attributed to Paul. By far the most important aspect of Paul’s gospel was his application of the concept of Grace upon his Gentile converts.

It is important to keep in mind that Paul was a Jew and that his Christ Jesus figure also lived as a Jew. He could not get around those facts. This Jewish history had to be accounted for in his message. The question for Paul boiled down to this: How could he bring his Gentile flock within the Jewish Christian movement? He had to make them Jews as well, not through circumcision but through the concept of Grace. His Gentiles would become the true Israel, through faith in the blood of Christ.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from Law, has been made known, to which the law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. (Romans 3:21-25) (Emphasis mine)

This short statement summed up Paul’s Gospel to the Gentiles. The Gentiles could now attain righteousness apart from the Law. This righteousness was available to all, Gentiles and Jews alike, for all need the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus. And, the only way to attain this atonement was through faith in Christ’s blood. So in one fell swoop, Paul lumped his Gentiles with all Jews. He then separated the two groups by declaring that only those with faith in the blood could be the true followers of God. Since the Jews followed their own covenant with God through the law and circumcision, Paul effectively replaced the Jews with the Gentiles as the chosen people of God. This is why James so fiercely opposed Paul, once this message became known.

As for the Law, Paul stated: “No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Rom. 3:20) It is ironic that the followers of James were known as the “Way of Righteousness” or the “Way”. These zealous Jews were fanatical in their attention to the Law. According to Paul, this misplaced emphasis on the law could never earn righteousness for the Jews. They needed to have faith in the blood, not faith in the word of God.

Circumcision is perhaps the central issue concerning the law. This is what Paul told his Gentile readers:

Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. (Rom. 2:25-29) (Emphasis mine)

Paul did not invent anything when he wrote that a Jew had to have a circumcision of the heart. Many Christians today believe that this was a new concept. However, the Jews knew about the circumcision of the heart. In Deut. 10:16, God told the Jews to “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and not be stiff-necked any longer.” The Jews of New Testament times knew full well of the inward and outward circumcision. Paul, on the other hand, rejected the concept of physical circumcision, claiming that only the circumcision of the heart was necessary. But again, the Jews believed in both the circumcision of the body and the circumcision of the heart.

The denigration of the physical circumcision was necessary for Paul’s gospel to the Gentiles. Paul claimed that the spiritual circumcision made them as though they were circumcised. Once again, Paul was transforming his physically uncircumcised Gentiles into the true Israel. Through faith in the blood, the Gentiles would be as though they were circumcised.

This circumcision argument can date the letter to the Romans as before 44 CE. In the King Izates episode as related by Josephus, Ananias said this to King Izates concerning circumcision:

[King Izates] might worship God without being circumcised, even though he did resolve to follow the Jewish law entirely; which worship of God was of a superior nature to circumcision. (Ant. 20.41)

This is the exact argument that Paul used in the letter to the Romans. Both Paul and Ananias stated that the Gentiles could follow the law entirely without being circumcised, and that this mode of worship was superior to physical circumcision. Neither Paul nor Ananias explained how one could follow the law without obeying the law of circumcision. A rational mind would see a major flaw in logic in this argument. Regardless, it is very important that we understand that this gospel of Paul’s was being preached by others. The question is this: Was this new gospel the invention of Paul’s or was someone else behind it? Paul wrote in Galatians 1:12 that his gospel to the Gentiles came directly from the Risen Christ Jesus. It is very likely that Paul did invent his gospel to the Gentiles, but there still may have been another factor in its spread. That factor may have been Agrippa I, king of Israel from 37-44 CE. This will be detailed in Chapter 10.

Paul’s gospel of Grace, based upon faith, was based upon Paul’s interpretation of the life of Abraham. In Romans 4:1-12, Paul wrote that Abraham was justified by faith before his circumcision. Therefore, Abraham was the father of both the circumcised and of those who believe but were not circumcised. Thus, his Gentiles were sons of Abraham through faith in the blood of Christ. This theology was based upon the passage in Genesis 15:6, where the Scriptures state: “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” To Paul, this belief brought righteousness.

If Paul had analyzed the Genesis passage in context, he would have had trouble preaching his new gospel. Concerning circumcision, Genesis was very clear.

As for you, you must keep my covenant. …Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. …Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cast off from his people; he has broken my covenant. (Gen. 17:3-14)

Paul never commented upon how his new gospel would impact the Jews. He either did not care about their sensibilities or assumed that some would eventually see the light. I believe that Paul was centered strictly upon his Gentile converts and was content upon them becoming the new Israel. The end of old Israel, the everlasting covenant between God and the Jews, was just a by-product of his new and improved covenant between God and the Gentiles.

Paul’s emphasized faith using the example of Abraham. He quoted the passage in Genesis where God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. In Paul’s reasoning, that included all Gentiles. And his promise was made to Abraham before Abraham’s circumcision. Therefore, in Paul’s interpretation, faith, not circumcision, was necessary. If Paul had read a little farther, he would have encountered the passage where God told Abraham: “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” (Gen. 21:12) This promise to Abraham was after circumcision and related to the father of the Jewish nation, Isaac. If Paul had been honest in his interpretation of Genesis, he could not have switched the everlasting covenant from the Jews (offspring of Isaac) to the Gentiles (offspring of Ishmael). Incredibly, Paul did use the passage from Gen. 21:12, but his interpretation of the offspring of Isaac was not the Jews, but rather, the children of the promise. (Rom. 9:7-9) These children of the promise were his Gentile followers. Paul magically changed a passage, which, without a doubt, referred to the Jews, into a proof text for his Gospel to the Gentiles. How bizarre is that reasoning?

View my new book, Judas of Nazareth, at www.danielunterbrink.com

Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers:

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40 Similarities Between Jesus and Judas the Galilean – 11-15

For additional information concerning Judas the Galilean, Sadduc and Theudas, go to my new website: http://www.judasthegalilean.weebly.com

Listen to Dan Unterbrink comment on his new book, Judas of Nazareth. http://www.alchemyradio.podomatic.com/entry/2014-04-25T04_39_57-07_00

Was Judas the Galilean the Historical Jesus?

11. The disciples of Jesus and Judas were zealous for the law. (Acts 21:20) (Ant. 17.149-154) It is true that Paul taught his Gentile followers to disregard the law. However, the Jewish Christians, led by James the Just, clearly denounced that teaching and removed Paul and his followers from fellowship. (See Galatians)

Some forty years after the death of Judas (19 CE), a splinter group of the Fourth Philosophy, known as the Zealots, appeared on the scene. Like their name suggests, these individuals were obsessed with the Law and were comparable to the fanatical followers of James the Just. (Acts 21:20)

12. Judas and Jesus were both called wise men by Josephus. (Ant. 17.152 and Ant. 18.63) As the Jesus passage was a late third or early fourth century interpolation, the use of the term wise man was taken from the description of Judas and Matthias. It must also be noted that Josephus did not freely use the term wise man. He did, however, use that term when describing himself. If Josephus called himself a wise man then this indeed was a great compliment.

13. Both teachers assigned a high value to the sharing of wealth or pure communism. (Matt. 6:19-27; Acts 2:42-45; James 5:1-6) (Ant. 18.7; War 2.427) (Essenes – War 2.122) In fact, this was the central message in “Love your Neighbor as Yourself.” How could one love his neighbor if he let that neighbor go hungry or unclothed? When Jesus confronted the rich young ruler, he did not say give ten percent to the poor, but rather, give everything to the poor and then come follow me. (Matt. 19:16-24) This was a radical message two thousand years ago. How many middle-class Americans would follow that same philosophy today?

Members of the Fourth Philosophy were known as bandits by Josephus, for they exploited the wealthy, a type of Robin Hood movement. During the war with Rome, the debt records were burned in order to free those enslaved to the wealthy by their debt. (War 2.426-427) This was truly class warfare! As for the Zealots, Josephus shared his contempt for their practices concerning wealth and private property: “The dregs, the scum of the whole country, they have squandered their own property and practiced their lunacy upon the towns and villages around, and finally have poured in a stealthy stream into the Holy City….” (War 4.241) Considering what Jesus said to the rich young ruler, Josephus would have had the same attitude towards Jesus’ lunacy!

At the beginning of the Church, disciples were urged to share everything in common. (Acts 2:42) This approach to living was in line with the Kingdom of God as preached by Jesus. Also, the feeding of the five thousand was simply the sharing of one’s food with another. It had nothing to do with hocus-pocus. In addition, the letter of James favored the poor over the rich. (James 5:1-6)

14. Both Judas and Jesus were considered fine teachers of the Law. (Matt. 5:17-20; Mark 12:28-34) (Ant. 17.149; War 1.648) Judas followed the basic teachings of the Pharisees as did Jesus. As for Judas’ abilities, Josephus wrote: “[Judas and Matthias were] the most celebrated interpreters of the Jewish laws, and well beloved by the people.” (Ant. 17.149) The earlier assessment from War 1.648 stated that “there were two men of learning in the city [Jerusalem], who were thought the most skillful in the laws of their country, and were on that account held in very great esteem all over the nation.”

From the Gospels, we know that Jesus used parables in relating his message, in line with Pharisaic practices. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love thy neighbor. To love God involved obeying God and the Law handed down by God to Moses. To love thy neighbor included sharing one’s possessions, so that no one was left hungry or homeless. In addition, both Judas and Jesus followed Judas Maccabee in his interpretation of the Sabbath: the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Judas Maccabee permitted his disciples to defend themselves if attacked on the Sabbath. Likewise, Jesus preached that it was proper to do good on the Sabbath. In fact, Jesus was reprimanded by some Pharisees for breaking the Sabbath laws as he fled from Herod. Jesus quoted the Old Testament story of David eating consecrated bread in order to maintain strength in his flight from the authorities. Jesus had good reason to follow David and Judas Maccabee: he was a marked man. Both Jesus and Judas Maccabee would not have flouted the Sabbath law for any old reason.

From the above passages from Josephus, Judas the Galilean was known throughout the nation for his ability in interpreting the law. We get the same feeling for Jesus when reading the Gospels. The Pharisees constantly invited him to dinner in order to discuss issues. We are privy to only the negative aspects of those meetings. In reality, most teachers in Israel considered Jesus an important figure and were constantly amazed at his teachings.

15. Judas the Galilean’s movement centered in Jerusalem and in Galilee. Judas began his public career in Jerusalem, teaching young men at the Temple. He convinced his students to take part in the Golden Eagle Temple Cleansing and was arrested by Herod the Great. (Ant. 17.149-167) Judas was later released by Archelaus and fled to Sepphoris in Galilee. Until his return to Jerusalem, Judas preached in Galilee where he was crowned Messiah by his followers, and later led a tax revolt against Rome. (Ant. 17.271-272 and 18.1-10)

Jesus was also in Jerusalem at the start of his career, according to John. Coincidentally, John placed his Temple Cleansing at the start of Jesus’ career, consistent with the story of Judas the Galilean. (John 2:12-17) Jesus then returned to Galilee, where he was proclaimed Messiah. From the Gospel accounts, Jesus spent most of his ministry in Galilee. Jesus finally returned to Jerusalem, where he was captured and crucified.

Even after Judas’ death, his movement revolved around Jerusalem and Galilee. In fact, Josephus noted that Eleazar was sent by his leaders in Galilee to teach King Izates true Judaism, which included circumcision. King Izates had previously been taught by Ananias that he could become a full Jew without circumcision. The Jewish Christian model also practiced circumcision. Note that Paul and Cephas also had a similar disagreement in Antioch, caused by men sent from James. James may have been centered in either Jerusalem or in Galilee. However, since this occurred around the time of Agrippa’s assassination, James probably located himself in a safer place, no doubt, Galilee.

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Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers:
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40 Similarities Between Jesus and Judas the Galilean – 6-10

For additional information concerning Judas the Galilean, Sadduc and Theudas, go to my new website: http://www.judasthegalilean.weebly.com

Listen to Dan Unterbrink comment on his new book, Judas of Nazareth. http://www.alchemyradio.podomatic.com/entry/2014-04-25T04_39_57-07_00

Was Judas the Galilean the historical Jesus?

6. The Gospels do not mention the early life of Jesus, except when he taught at the Temple at the age of twelve. (Luke 2:41-52) Otherwise, no information was given from 6 CE (Census of Cyrenius) to 26 CE (supposed date of Pilate – see chapter 1). This lack of information mirrors Josephus’ War where nothing was written from 6 CE (Census) to 26 CE (Pilate). (War 2.167-169) Josephus barely expanded on this paucity of information in Antiquities, where he listed the Roman procurators during this twenty year stretch, but little else. (Ant. 18.26-35) It is possible that these missing years from Josephus could have been the result of pious editing. The actual crucifixion of Judas the Galilean may have been deleted. Note that Josephus detailed the deaths of Judas’ three sons, James, Simon, and Menahem and his grandson, Eleazar. With each of these occasions, Josephus referred back to Judas the Galilean. It is hard to believe that Josephus omitted the circumstances behind the death of Judas. So it is very possible that the writings of Josephus were edited to remove some interesting details of Judas’ life and his eventual crucifixion.

7. When he was only twelve, Jesus spent three days at the Temple. He was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:41-52) Judas taught young men at the same Temple. Judas was “the most celebrated interpreters of the Jewish laws and … well beloved by the people, because of [the] education of their youth.” (Ant. 17.149 – 4 BCE) How many other men also taught at the Temple? Is it possible that Judas’ early career as teacher at the Temple was made legend by placing his wisdom and knowledge within the body of a twelve year old? Consider this: if Judas had been born around 25 BCE (see number 2), then he would have been just twenty years old at the time of the Golden Eagle Temple Cleansing (4 BCE). His status as one of the finest teachers of the law, at such a young age, must have been legendary. This child prodigy legacy was woven into the Gospel fabric by Luke in his story of the twelve year old Jesus.

8. The story of John the Baptist may very well be the most important link between Judas the Galilean and Jesus. In the Gospels, John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the world in 28-29 CE, per the dating of Luke. (Luke 3:1-3) In fact, this is the reason why scholars look nowhere else for Jesus. It is just a given that Jesus’ ministry began around 30 CE.

According to the Slavonic Josephus, this same John came baptizing in the Jordan in 6 CE, right before the mention of Judas the Galilean and during the reign of Archelaus (4 BCE- 7 CE). (1) In addition, the Psuedoclementine Recognitions acknowledged John right before describing the various Jewish sects. (2) Josephus described these same sects right after his introduction of Judas the Galilean. (Ant. 18.4-22 and War 2.118-166) So the 6 CE timeframe for John the Baptist is attested to by more than one source.

Could this John the Baptist have been baptizing and proclaiming different Messiahs in both 6 CE and 29 CE? The odds of that would be millions to one. The only logical conclusion is that Jesus and Judas the Galilean were the same person. This explains why the Slavonic Josephus’ version of events has been ignored over the years. If John actually came in 6 CE, then all of New Testament scholarship is, at best, misguided. That would not only make the scholars look foolish but would also prove Pauline Christianity a sham religion.

9. Both Judas and Jesus had a second-in-command, Sadduc and John the Baptist, respectively. This organizational model was fashioned after the Maccabees. Mattathias led the movement and his son, Judas Maccabee, was his lieutenant. After Mattathias died, Simon took his place and Judas Maccabee was elevated to the leadership role. In the later Fourth Philosophy, Matthias and Judas worked together at the Temple and were responsible for the Golden Eagle Temple Cleansing. After Matthias suffered martyrdom, Judas filled this position with Sadduc. (Ant. 18.4)

In the Gospel accounts, Jesus picked Simon Peter as his second-in-command. In reality, Jesus was first paired with John the Baptist (Sadduc). When Jesus was crucified, he was replaced by his brother, James the Just. At this stage, John the Baptist and James shared control of the movement. In 35-36 CE, John was beheaded by Herod Antipas. James appointed Cephas (Peter) to be John’s successor. The Gospels successfully minimized the roles of John the Baptist and James. According to these accounts, John died before Jesus, but per Josephus, John died after Jesus. Also, James the Just was barely mentioned by Acts, his leadership role unannounced until Acts chapter 15, at the Council of Jerusalem. By bypassing John the Baptist and James the Just, the Gospels were able to skip a generation, placing Peter (Cephas) as the leading apostle after the death of Jesus.

The dual leadership may have safeguarded the movement. If one of the leaders was captured or killed, then the other could take control. The movement of Judas the Galilean (Jesus) was different from that of Judas Maccabee in that the later movement believed in the resurrection of its leader. Thus, even though John the Baptist and James led the movement after the death of Jesus, many throughout the movement still awaited the return of Jesus in power and glory. So, in essence, John and James were merely caretakers. This may account for the divisions in the 40 CE church in Corinth. Paul wrote that some disciples followed himself, others followed Cephas (James the Just), others followed Apollos (John the Baptist) (see Acts 18:24-25), and others followed Christ (Judas the Galilean or Jesus). (1 Cor. 1:10-12) This split may have been inevitable since Judas the Galilean’s movement was held together by a common hatred of Rome. Teachers within the movement could have possibly come from both the Pharisees and the Essenes. Differences, in approach to religion, were inevitable.

10. Jesus and Judas were both called the Galilean. Actually, Jesus was referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, a city located near Sepphoris in Galilee. It should not be missed that Sepphoris was central to Judas the Galilean’s ministry. Placing Nazareth close to Sepphoris may have been more than just coincidence. In War 1.648, Judas was said to be the son of Sepphoris. This more likely was his place of birth as opposed to his father. And in War 2.56, Judas retreated to Sepphoris after being harassed by Archelaus. There, Judas armed his disciples with weapons from the armory. Judas’ history with Sepphoris was no doubt changed to Nazareth to hide these embarrassing revelations. After all, both of the above references to Sepphoris were in the context of armed rebellion against Herod the Great and later, Archelaus.

The name Nazareth is probably a corruption of Nazarite, as no references to Nazareth appear in the Old Testament or in Josephus. (A Nazarite was consecrated to God by a vow and included such notables as John the Baptist and Samson). In fact, John Crossan stated that in addition to Josephus’ silence concerning Nazareth, “it is never mentioned by any of the Jewish rabbis whose pronouncements are in the Mishnah or whose discussions are in the Talmud.” (3) Jesus’ disciples were called Galileans (Mark 14:70) and it may have been a sleight-of-hand which changed Jesus the Galilean to Jesus of Nazareth. In John 7:41, the crowd asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee?” And the leaders had the same reservations about Jesus. “Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” (John 7:52)

Judas the Galilean was mentioned in several passages by Josephus (War 2.118; War 2.433 and Ant. 20.102). Josephus did state that this Judas hailed from Gamala, across the River Jordan (Ant. 18.4), but he was known as the Galilean, as attributed to the above references. Galilee was a hotbed for revolutionaries. Both Jesus and Judas would have had a similar background, influenced by those who had struggled for years against Herod the Great.

1. Slavonic Josephus, After War 2.110.

2. Pseudoclementine Recognitions 1.53-54.

3. John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, Excavating Jesus, p. 18.

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Daniel T. Unterbrink
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40 Similarities Between Jesus and Judas the Galilean – 1-5

For additional information concerning Judas the Galilean, Sadduc and Theudas, go to my new website: http://www.judasthegalilean.weebly.com

Listen to Dan Unterbrink comment on his new book, Judas of Nazareth. http://www.alchemyradio.podomatic.com/entry/2014-04-25T04_39_57-07_00

Was Judas the Galilean the historical Jesus? 

1. Jesus was born in 8-4 BCE (Matthew) and in 6 CE at the Census of Cyrenius (Luke). Judas was mentioned by Josephus in 4 BCE, relating to the Golden Eagle Temple Cleansing (Ant. 17.149-167) and in 6 CE, regarding the Census of Cyrenius (Ant. 18.1-10) The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are both inconsistent with the reign of Pilate and the ministry of John the Baptist. For example, if Jesus were born in 4 BCE and died thirty-three years later, then he would have died around 30 CE, during the reign of Pilate but five years before John the Baptists death. (Ant. 18.116-119) If Jesus were born in 6 CE and died thirty-three years later, then he would have died in 39 CE, a few years after John the Baptist but two years after Pilate left Judea. Both accounts appear historically flawed. These two birth narratives were strategically placed in an era when Judas the Galilean’s ministry flourished. This deception moved the adult Jesus thirty years away from Judas the Galilean, thus hiding the Messiah’s true identity. This misdirection by the Gospel writers has worked brilliantly. Very few scholars have even considered Jesus outside of the 30 CE timeframe. This is even more disturbing considering Jesus’ brother, James, was purported to be ninety-six years old in 62 CE. Even if this slightly exaggerates his age by ten years, James’ birth date can be estimated at approximately 35-25 BCE. Jesus was the older brother and could not have been born any later than 25 BCE.

It should be asked: why would Matthew and Luke pick different dates for the Messiah’s birth? If one solid date existed, then both Gospel writers should have easily followed that lone date. However, if the writers were trying to present an alternate date, then it might have been possible for each to tie his birth date to a different event. Matthew tied his birth date to the Golden Eagle Temple Cleansing while Luke used the Census of Cyrenius, the two major events in Judas the Galilean’s career.

2. This second coincidence relates to Matthew’s Star of Bethlehem story which was placed in 4 BCE (See number 1). In the Gospel of Matthew, the magi were drawn to Jerusalem by a star, near the end of Herod the Great’s reign, around 4 BCE. These Magi found the baby Jesus but did not return to Herod to report the findings. Herod was incensed and ordered the slaughter of all the baby boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem, two years old and younger.

In the Slavonic Josephus, Persian astrologers went to Herod the Great identifying the star in the sky and explaining its significance. Herod insisted they return to him after finding the infant. However, the astrologers were warned by the stars to avoid Herod on the return trip. In his rage, Herod wanted to kill all the male children throughout his kingdom. His advisors convinced him that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, hoping to confine the slaughter to only Bethlehem. This Star of Bethlehem passage was inserted in the War during the early years of Herod, between 27-22 BCE. (1)

This Slavonic Josephus passage originated from the same source which supplied the Gospel version. The Slavonic text has some interesting details which are missing from Matthew. Matthew wrote that the chief priests and teachers of the law informed Herod that the infant would be born in Bethlehem. He then sent the Magi to Bethlehem and ordered them to return when they had located the infant. (Matt. 2:3-8) This version does not give Herod much credit, for if he really knew that a king would be born in Bethlehem, he would have had every child slaughtered in Bethlehem before the Magi could even reach the place. On the other hand, the Slavonic version had Herod learning about the location after waiting for the Persian astrologers to return. This blunder on Herod’s part wasted precious time, allowing the infant’s parents to escape. Herod’s advisors also told Herod the meaning of the Star. This star was the promised Star Prophecy, which told of a leader coming from Judah. (Numbers 24:17) The same sentiment was included in Matthew 2:6, but this quote from Micah 5:2 promised that a ruler would come from Bethlehem. All in all, the two versions have much in common and vary very little, the difference being the time: 25 BCE versus 4 BCE.

If Jesus were born in 25 BCE, then he would have been 30 years old at the time of the census (6 CE). This was the exact time when John baptized in the Jordan and proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. (2) This date was also marked by the nationwide tax revolt led by Judas the Galilean, the historical Jesus. (Ant. 18.4)

3. The genealogy of Jesus can also be compared to information known about Judas the Galilean. In Matthew 1:15 and Luke 3:24, a Mattan and Matthat are listed as great grandfathers. Since the Gospels added a few generations to distance Jesus from Judas, these great grandfathers may have been Jesus’ father. Judas’s father may have been Matthias, a name closely resembling Mattan and Matthat.

On Mary’s side, a similarity exists concerning the town of Sepphoris. In Christian tradition, Mary’s family came from Sepphoris. Judas was also linked to Sepphoris by Josephus. It was written that Judas was the son of Sepphoris, or rather from Sepphoris, and he also raided the armory at Sepphoris. Certainly, Judas was well acquainted with this town.

 4. Herod the Great planned to execute Judas after the Golden Eagle Temple Cleansing. Luckily for Judas, Herod ordered to have his prisoners put to death after his own death, in order to create great sorrow in Israel. After Herod’s death, his advisors reneged on the insane plan. (Ant. 17.149-167) According to the Gospels, Herod the Great tried to kill the baby Jesus. (Matt. 2) Herod’s goal of eliminating Jesus ended with his own death. In both stories, an elderly paranoid Herod tried to destroy elements he perceived as being a threat to his rule. Of course, the infant narrative was not actual history but rather a replay of Moses’ infancy.

5. Joseph returned to Israel after the death of Herod the Great but was afraid to settle in Judea because of Archelaus. Having been warned in a dream, Joseph moved his family to Nazareth, in Galilee. (Matt. 2:19-23) The New Testament often moved characters by using dreams, miracles or visions. For example, Philip was whisked away after baptizing the eunuch in Acts 8:39-40. Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea was preceded by a vision in Acts chapter 10. And the Magi did not return to King Herod because they were warned in a dream. (Matt. 2:12) All three of these examples have alternative explanations. Philip and the eunuch as well as Peter and Cornelius were patterned after the account of King Izates given by Josephus. (Ant. 20.34-48) And as noted in number 2, the Slavonic Josephus explained the Persian astrologers’ decision to avoid Herod differently. Either the Star of Bethlehem convinced them not to return to Herod or they had talked to the locals about the King and decided to go home by another route. The point is this: when trying to reconstruct historical events, it may be wise to discount the passages which depend upon a literary devise such as a dream or vision.

After being released by Archelaus, Judas went to Sepphoris in Galilee, where he led an uprising against the son of Herod. (War 2.56) Sepphoris was in the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, not under the control of Archelaus. Since Archelaus was waging war upon the followers of Judas and Matthias, the move to Galilee was prudent in that it allowed reorganization without fear of being attacked by Archelaus. The events in Josephus and the New Testament both occurred because Herod the Great had died and the country was in unrest.

1. Slavonic Josephus, After War 1.400.

2. Ibid., After War 2.110.

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Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers:
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