Friday, April 07, 2006

It reads

“Get your fucking hands off my son!”

(Actually it’s a photo of the Coptic script of the Gospel of Judas via National Geographic)

File this under: The Real, True Adventures of Jesus and his Kid.

OK, none of this is original to me.

Some I’d read, some I’ve picked up talking to Jesuits and much of it I got through a series of letters that a good friend of mine assembled several years ago when he was getting his thoughts on paper.

No, I have never read “The DaVinci Code” (I started it and found it to be similar-if-not-outright-derivative of things I’d already read, and the writing was, well, turgid) so if this is too overlapful of that, skip it.

First, by way of setup, this fascinating story from the Los Angeles Time:

Manuscript Indicates Jesus Urged Judas' Betrayal
From Associated Press

12:47 PM PDT, April 6, 2006

WASHINGTON — For 2,000 years Judas has been reviled for betraying Jesus. Now a newly translated ancient document seeks to tell his side of the story.

The "Gospel of Judas" tells a far different tale from the four gospels in the New Testament. It portrays Judas as a favored disciple who was given special knowledge by Jesus -- and who turned him in at Jesus' request.

"You will be cursed by the other generations -- and you will come to rule over them," Jesus tells Judas in the document made public today.

The text, one of several ancient documents found in the Egyptian desert in 1970, was preserved and translated by a team of scholars. It was made public in an English translation by the National Geographic Society.

Religious and lay readers alike will debate the meaning and truth of the manuscript.

But it does show the diversity of beliefs in early Christianity, said Marvin Meyer, professor of Bible studies at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

The text, in the Coptic language, was dated to about the year 300 and is a copy of an earlier Greek version.

A "Gospel of Judas" was first mentioned around A.D. 180 by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, in what is now France. The bishop denounced the manuscript as heresy because it differed from mainstream Christianity. The actual text had been thought lost until this discovery.

"Perhaps more now can be said," he commented. The document "implies that Judas only did what Jesus wanted him to do."

Christianity in the ancient world was much more diverse than it is now, with a number of gospels circulating in addition to the four that were finally collected into the New Testament, noted Bart Ehrman, chairman of religious studies at the University of North Carolina.

Eventually, one point of view prevailed and the others were declared heresy, he said, including the Gnostics who believed that salvation depended on secret knowledge that Jesus imparted, particularly to Judas.

"Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom," Jesus says to Judas, singling him out for special status. "Look, you have been told everything. Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star."

The text ends with Judas turning Jesus over to the high priests and does not include any mention of the crucifixion or resurrection.

So you want to know the really-real story of Jesus?

Well, settle down and bring me a scotch and I will reveal all.

Now is this little story I'm about to tell true?

How the hell should I know? It is to my mind, however, no less riveting an explanation of the Jesus Story than the cartoons they pass off as genuine coin in Sunday School, or either the Abattoir Christianity or "JC, CEO" faiths that are pimped by various hucksters on the Right.

In other words: We Purport, You Decide.

So once upon a time…

The Kingdom of Judea was in upheaval as is had been for years. The Romans had conquered the region and had tried to bend in into becoming another distant province of their empire.

Their success was…mixed.

The Occupiers were militarily superior to the locals in every way, and there were a lot of advantages to being a client-state. And, yes, they had effectively co-opted many of the local elected officials, but everyone knew what the score was.

The Occupiers said “jump” and their proxy government said “how high.”

And the locals – who had been conquered and pillaged many times before and who would have found our modern notion of separating Church and State incomprehensible – existed in various of states of high-pissoffery.

The Occupiers were almost uniformly seen an affront to their God and despoilers of their holy places.

Some people just wanted to be left alone. Some thought cooperation was the lesser of many evils; the only way to stave off something much worse. Many were seething with rage. And a few of them took up arms against the Occupiers and those they saw as collaborators.

And those who drew blood in their cause saw it as a sacred thing.

It was a cauldron of faith, politics, family, tribe, righteous fury, military power and insurgency, always gurgling away at a low boil and kept in check by compromise when possible, and massive shows of force when not.

And I don’t think it is exaggerating the situation by a whole lot by describing it as an on-again-off-again form of urban warfare taking place in the context of a low-grade civil war.

Say, does ANY of this sound familiar?

Does anyone fail to notice that if it were air strikes vs. carbombs instead of legions vs. daggers, this is exactly what the front page of the New York Times looks like every single day?

The reason I mention it is I am always surprised when devout Christians are oblivious to the context in which their central stories take place.

In a city in the grip of factional fighting that shuddered and bled for years before JC came along.

A city that was all but wiped off the map in the denouement of that Long War, 40 years after Jesus was supposed to have been killed.

So instead of the Disney Christ, existing outside of time and space in a Neverland of shepherds and parables, wise men and stock-character Romans, just imagine it as it really was.

In a city in the middle of a guerilla war, where leaders desperately rose up again and again only to be killed, again and again.

And then a young warrior-priest hit on a new strategy.

He is well-educated in both tactics and law. He is of royal blood, and like true royalty feels quite at home talking to people of every station in life. The Essenes know him, as do the Zealots. Even to the worshipers of Mithras he would not be a stranger.

He has developed what we would call a broad constituency, and he also has a duty. The same duty every Jewish lead bears in his turn: to drive the Romans out.

As a rabbi and a royal, he has also taken a wife. Seriously, who in those times would have trusted a wifeless, childless leader? They were married at Cana (you may have read about it), and had a son, then entering his teens.

The son is a royal and a rebel like his old man, but has fallen in with the armed, hard-core, “Revolution Now” crowd. His dad worries about him, but he’s a strong-willed and righteous kid who’s been listening to dad's anti-Roman kitchen-table-talk his whole life, so what can the old man really say?

The uprising Jesus had planned was, of course, both spiritual and political -- two concepts which would not be teased apart and thought of separately for millennia. To craft and trigger his rebellion he made an underdog's careful use of the agitpropic power of “prophecy fulfillment” to fill the streets with followers, perhaps using the radical idea that in the true fulfillment of Jewish Law the revolutionaries could literally love their enemies into making concessions to capture the imagination of the war-weary residents of Jerusalem.

Maybe the streets were too narrow?

Maybe the crowds were too large?

Whatever happened, at some point the wheels came off, and the massed power of the Roman military moved in. It was soon obvious that the uprising had failed, and seeing that the tide was turning and they were all now (or would soon be) wanted for capital crimes, Jesus and his team went into hiding.

Which leads to what I think of as one of the central, unanswered question of New Testament.

Why didn’t they just put their boogie shoes on and scram?

Live to fight another day?

C’mon, you’ve got a city full of followers presumably willing to hide you. Friends in high and low places. Pals among the Essennes down the coast. I mean, who the fuck plans a rebellion without an escape route?

Without a Plan B?

It's 106 miles to Chicago! You've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.

So hit it!

But they stayed.


Don’t think supernatural; don’t think stilted or scripted or Cecil B. DeMille.

Just think like a smart, compassionate leader of men during a time of war and ask yourself, "What would make me blow off my chance at retreat and regrouping?"

How about if the Romans had your kid?

Your child, who is not just your flesh and blood, but the heir to a royal line.

A teenaged boy who had been name after his father, and since people didn’t have last names in those days, he would have been called something like “Jesus, Son of the Master” or “Jesus, Son of the father”.

But where in the New Testament do you find a second man named Jesus?

Hey baby, you’re soaking in it!

This site sums it up as well as any...

Now the gospels tell us the name (title) of the robber Pilate offered to the crowd for release in Jesus stead was "Barabbas" or Bar'Abba Mk 15:6-15, Mt 27:15-26, Lk 23:17-25, Jn 18:39-40.

(This is not a personal name. It's a title - in Aramaic it means "the Son of the Father"). Some ancient manuscripts of Matthew, confirmed by the writings of the church father, Origen (250ce), reveal the full name of the criminal as " Jesus Bar'Abbas " , just like the "Jesus Bar'Abbas" ( Son of the Father "God" ) that Christians worship .

The church father Origen was appalled by the use of "Jesus Barabbas" in the manuscripts he was familiar with because he held the conviction that no "sinner" should bare the name and title of "Jesus the Christ " .

"…scribes deleted the name Jesus from Jesus Barabbas out of reverence for Jesus Christ ." D. A. Carson, Matthew, in vol. 8 of The Expositor's Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), p574.

This site covers the basics pretty well too...

In the Christian story of the passion of Jesus , Barabbas, actually Jesus bar-Abbas, (Aramaic Bar-abbâ, "son of the father"), was the insurrectionary murderer whom Pontius Pilate freed at the Passover…

"Jesus Barabbas"

According to the United Bible Societies' text, Matthew 27:17 reads: "...whom will ye that I release unto you? Jesus Barabbas [Greek: Iesous ton Barabbas] or Jesus which is called Christ [Greek: Iesous ton legomenon Christon]?"

Some early Greek manuscripts of Matthew present Barabbas' name twice as Jesus bar Abbas: manuscripts in the Caesarean group of texts, the Sinaitic Palimpsest, the Palestinian Syriac lectionaries and some of the manuscripts used by Origen in the 3rd century, all support the fact that Barabbas' name was originally Jesus Barabbas, though not all modern New Testament translations reflect this. Origen deliberately rejected the reading in the manuscript he was working with, and left out "Iesous" deliberately, for reverential considerations, certainly a strongly motivated omission. Early editors did not want the name Jesus associated with anyone who was a sinner.

So word gets back to you via intermediaries that the Romans have your son and have charged him with being a member of the sicarii (An armed, militant sect dedicated to overthrowing the Romans by force.)

He had committed a capital crime (Mark 15:7 says that he had committed a murder during an insurrection) and was soon to die…but the Romans would be willing to trade.

The Father for the Son, and the clock is ticking.

You see how with a little context we’ve moved this along from a child’s badly staged Sunday School pageant to an episode of “24”?

"My name is Jesus of Nazareth...and this is the longest day of my life!”

Your rebellion is fucked, your movement is in ashes and as you and your posse pack fast and get ready to blow town, word reaches you that your son and heir is rotting in a Roman prison awaiting execution.

What do you do?

Well if you read the story of the Last Supper without changing a single phrase -- only shifting the context and the emphasis -- according to scripture, you call an Emergency War Council.

You make some brutally hard decisions, share a Passover meal and a prayer with your dearest friends and loyal lieutenants -- men who have sworn to live and die by your word -- and then pick out two of them to do the hardest things they will ever be asked to do.

As their leader, you start issuing orders.

Mercy first, so with staunch-but-not-very-bright Peter, you keep it simple. You tell him to escape. To lie his ass off, deny he ever knew you, and get out of town.

Pete doesn’t want to -- in tears he says, “If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise” -- so you have to insist.

Then onto the shoulders of your ferociously loyal security chief, Judas Iscariot -- Judas of the Sicarii? -- you place the heaviest burden of all; the life of your child. Judas will handle the exchange, including personally turning you over to the authorities, and since the Roman offer came strings attached including an insistence on secrecy, he can never, ever breathe a word about the real story to anyone or the deal is off.

You know it'll destroy him and his good name for all time -- “The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." -- but you also know it has to be done, and only the strongest of your men can handle that burden.

"Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me."

For god’s sake, these aren’t prophecies. They’re final commands, given to a platoon whose heart had already been shattered once that day.

And then you lead your brothers in a prayer, and walk out into the night and into history.

To save your son.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Damn, that's good. That's way better than the da Vinci Code, which is an unbelievably wretched piece of writing. I read the whole Da Vinci crapfest, thinking, well, any minute it'll stop sucking. But it didn't. B

By the way, why was this Judas gospel all over the news? Didn't we already know all that crap from Jesus Christ Superstar?

Anonymous said...

Well the idea of freeing yourself from a corrupt body is like those in the other Gnostic Gospels. The newspapers sell more papers if the Judas Gospel is presented as new, New, NEW! Besides, there are always Easter and Biblical stories in papers and on TV around Easter.

Driftglass, yours was a very interesting story. It is fortunate that there is no more burning heretics, otherwise you'd have to go on the lam.

What parts of your story did you get from the Jesuits?

roxtar said...

They'll pay you baskets of cash to work this into a novel. Bales of Dollars American for the screenplay. Viggo as Dad, the kid from Harry Potter as Boy Jesus, ah, Drifty....we knew you when.

Anonymous said...

Judas, the person and the mythology, were always more compelling and appealing to me than Jesus or his other disciples. How did christianity and catholicism ever square the redemptive christ/son/god of the new testament with the vindictive one who sent his loyal lieutenant to a fate described every Easter as " would have been better for that man if he had never been born?" As simply described, he was an amazingly strong man who accepted an even more horrific fate because it was required of him to save a son and perhaps mankind. My god how far the southern-born-again-christian interpretation of the gospels falls from this penultimate message of personal dignity and self-respect.

Anonymous said...

Another teaching moment inside the mind of the Lord of Castle Driftglass. Beautiful. Thanks.

-- mac

jurassicpork said...

Whoa. Goes to show you what can be revealed with just a subtle shift in context.

One problem with this, though: The Christian Fundies, since they believe Mankind and the earth is only 6000 years old, have similarly compressed time. If the earth is only six millenniums old, that means Jesus must've lived around the time between, oh, say skinny Frank Sinatra to perhaps Jimi Hendrix's time.

And if this Roman occupation and uprising nonsense had actually happened that recently, don't you think Jack Anderson would've said something about it?

Aha! Hit a nerve, did I?

It's late and my head hurts. I'm going to bed.

merlallen said...

I believe in God. I don't believe that Jesus Christ was God, though.
I do believe he existed but was never quite sure why. I think you've nailed it. Thank you.

I'm pretty much at odds with my fundie cousins because I don't believe an awesome God would require the worship of such pissants as humans.

I believe our relationship with God is kind of close to our relationship with insects, only God does care about us since we are his creation.

merlallen said...

Sorry to run on, but I've always wonder why Jews were hated for killing Christ.
Without his death, Christianity would not exist. Christians should love Jews if you apply logic.
Applying logic to fundie relatives is not advised if you ever want to hear from them again.

Anonymous said...

So has someone been sitting on this document for 35 years. If so, who?

All the four gospels of the new testament quote Jesus as saying he is the son of God. Meaning that he is of the same nature of God . Meaning he is God.
This sent the pharisees into an screaming fit. The ultimate blasphemy as far as they were concerned.

C.S. Lewis' argument goes like this:-
So to claim you are God you would have to be either what you say you are or
deluded i.e. mad or
worse, a liar of the highest magnitude. They are the only logical posibilities.

The one thing you can't say logically is that Jesus was a great prophet but not God unless you are prepared to show that all four gospels are complete bullshit and Jesus didn't say any such thing. In which case how can you claim anything about Jesus.

I'm not carrying the can for organised religion here. I think they are all apalling, frankly, and only too ready to "tell lies for God". I just would like to know the truth.

Anonymous said...

Seems Schofield was onto this line of argument. Supposedly he preordains the betrayal.

In fact it was an item of loyalty. The possiblity that there's two jesus characters is terrific. The son for whom he sacrificed.
He literally took on the law on its terms of eye for an eye as part of a wider political/philosophical war.

The interpretation would have been made to many hade the original title of Barrabbas not been deleted its connotation to Jesus.

Thanks for the post.

The idea of mortality being the central theme, an ongoing community of shared beliefs, and engaged passion instead of the eventual soulless false dichotomy of love as celibacy being made an example.

It's possible tongues is a reference to incorporating phrases and manrtras of other religions as "tongues of angels" could go forth from this same approach.

A heavily veiled reference to tolerance. A disguised celebration of oral 'technique'?

So they got it backwards. god gave of himself, did not give his son, if such were the case otherwise Abraham's legacy would have been different.


Judas of the Sicarri? Sickles? Symbolism? Foreshadowing Islam?

Perceived a traitor but in truth most loyal.


Anonymous said...

Damn. "And then you lead your brothers in a prayer,,,,,,,,,,walk out into the night,,,,, to save your son."

Beautiful.,, reminds me of the scene in 'Grapes of Wrath' where the mother of the son-who-died gives her breasts laden with milk to a starving man.

powerful stuff about why we are here.

Karen McL said...

Most facinating.

I'm Just about midway through Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" - but haven't stumbled on this version of events (which does read like a best-seller novel of a story...and I'm sure ya have considered it. *wink*)

But it's the re-writes of the re-writes of the re-writes that then got re-written and edited and plagerized and misquoted...and HEY ya gots yourself a World-Wide Religion for the Ages.


Anonymous said...

Now that's a version of the story that makes funking sense! I never understood the story as told today.
I have asked my father many times (and he sorta agrees) that wasn't Jesus supposed to die, as fullfillment of prophesy? So why all the mourning of Jesus's death? Hatred of the Jews and Romans?
Is this why Pilate's wife was so troubled about the whole thing? Using a son to catch the father?

Driftglass, thank you! I have foolishly agreed to attend church this Easter to please my father. Now I will have something to think about while his arrogant pastor preaches. You have saved my sanity!

Really, I want to copy this story (with credit, of course) and preach it as the word.

Um, sorry for being so long-winded.....

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Then you can add the following. Pilate is a very astute governor, and he's just sick of dealing with these religious fanatics who can't figure out the benefits of one world government, Roman-style. So he makes Jesus an offer: he says "Look, we're going to win anyway, but it would be nice not to have to raze Jerusalem to the ground. Here's the deal. We'll fake your death by crucifixion, and you come back to life three days later. You counsel peace, justice, and everlasting life for all who follow you - oh, and render unto Caeser here in the reality-based sector. The rubes will all be inspired to follow you, and you end up the most famous person in history. We don't have to burn Rome, I get that pension and the villa by the Tiber, and of course your son will be safe.

And it works like a charm ....

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to add...
On a more topical note, isn't the US government currently being accused of doing the same thing (holding wives and children of "wanted" men in Iraq)? Or did I just dream that?

S.H. Bagley said...

An amazing read, DG. Christianity seems to much more... compelling, I guess... when put in those terms. More real.

I wonder how the Religious Folk will react to this?

Anonymous said...

I'm cool with the idea that Jesus was married, and maybe a father as well. I've read HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL and THE MESSIANIC LEGACY, so this doesn't shock me.

I do not think God approves of violence to obtain His ends; it is acceptable only in individual or collective self-defense; hence I prefer to think that Jesus was a rabbi mistaken for a revolutionary, that He prefigured the strategy that his latter-day follower, the late Dr. King, used. Not being a Religious Right type, I find the idea that Jesus would endorse violence repugnant. Of course, there is that incident with the moneychangers in the Temple, but even there the scripture doesn't say that He actually struck anyone. [If I'm a Temple merchant and some wild man comes in cracking a whip, I AIN'T gonna hang around to see if he'll actually hit me with it! :) ] However, the manner of his death indicates that the Romans THOUGHT he was a violent rebel. Crucifixion was reserved for three types of criminals: habitual offenders, rebel slaves (slaves who actually took up arms, like Spartacus, not mere runaways), and revolutionaries, and Jesus certainly didn't fit either of the first two categories. I can also accept that He may have survived the cross. I think God observes a principle somewhat like Star Trek's Prime Directive, in that He tries to avoid overriding the normal operations of the natural universe. Hence, it would be in character for Him to use a non-lethal crucifixion and apparent resurrection, instead of a genuine anomaly, to accomplish his goals.

This does not change my faith in God, or that He gives eternal life, or in Jesus as his son. I believe because I must. I sometimes am so weary of the drudgery of existence, and human cruelty to other humans, that I would accept oblivion for myself, but I can't stand the idea that all those children who die will never get another chance.
I tried being an agnostic for several years, but I couldn't keep it up.

In keeping with my conviction that God abhors unnecessary violence, my concept of Hell is untraditional; I see it as a hospital for sick souls; the suffering there is not inflicted by the staff, but rather, the sick ones bring it with them, and the purpose is to cure them. This is not a new idea. The Church Father Origen thought Hell was corrective in intent, rather than vengeful. If you destroy your enemy, you've lost an enemy. If you torture your enemy, you've lowered yourself to his level; you've won the battle but stand in peril of your soul. If you befriend an enemy, you've lost an enemy and gained a friend. Which of those is the greatest victory, and so worthiest of the greatness of the LORD Our God?

I do not think one must believe any dogma to be saved. I think the Lord is more interested in how we treat other humans than in what we believe or don't believe about Him. He doesn't have an ego like we humans do, so I don't think He gets His feelings hurt if we don't think He's real. Whether or not we believe in Him, He believes in us.

Of course, a God who is this loving and forgiving is a God who is quite useless for intimidating slaves and other exploited laborers into obeying an unrighteous social order, which, sadly, has been one of the primary functions of Christianity since it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. I wouldn't be surprised if the true message has been deliberately distorted many times over the centuries, to make it more effective for social control.

"They say I'm disturbed. OF COURSE I'M DISTURBED! We're all disturbed, and if we're not, WHY not? Doesn't this blend of blindness and blandness make you want to DO SOMETHING CRAZY? Well, why not DO SOMETHING CRAZY? It makes a HELL of a lot more sense than BLOWING YOUR FUCK-ING BRAINS OUT!"---"Hard Harry" from "PUMP UP THE VOLUME".

Ultimately, that's why I believe in a loving God. It's the crazy thing I do instead of the crazier thing of blowing my fucking brains out.

[Obviously, I don't think He freaks out if you use the f-word, either. ;)]

Grace and Peace, Kid Charlemagne

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks!

Another take on the facts and significance of the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth is the book Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, by Hyam Maccoby, a British Talmudic scholar who died 4-5 years ago. It's not incompatible with your thesis, although it doesn't support it either.

Maccoby's argument is complex and based to a large extent on contemporary Jewish and Roman sources as well as traditional Christian ones. He suggests that the Pharisees were in reality the torch bearers of true Judaism whereas the Sadducees of the Temple Party had sold out to the Romans. And Jesus himself was a Pharisee. Paul, he asserts, had come to Jerusalem some time after Jesus death in hopes of becomming a Pharisee, but was not accepted. He then became an agent provovacateur for the Sadducees (and by extension the Romans) in their campaign to suppress the Jesus/Pharisee movement. After his conversion on the road to Damascus he changed sides and eventually took over the movement, blended in some concepts that originated in the mystery religions still prevalent in his home town of Tarsus in present day Turkey.

From what I understand Maccoby's work is not overly well thought of in Christian scholarly circles (not surprising). An interesting read none the less.

Anonymous said...

Driftglass, I bow. Beautiful piece. I'd like to be around 2000 years from now to see what parts of our international dialogues the peeps of the next Christianity have chosen as their religious cannon.

Also, you have put the Iraq conflagration into a much longer perspective. I will bet you a million jellybeans that most megachurch Christians don't think about the history of the region.

Anonymous said...

A very compelling framing of the story...thank you.

We knew about this theory of Judas already, through Irenaeus I believe (which is where Nikos Kazantzakis may have gotten the idea, which he includes in Last Temptation of Christ), but this reading of Jesus Barabbas (a textual detail that some--though admittedly few--Bible translations leave in, or reference in a note) is a fascinating one. Thanks again.

Buffalo said...

Truth is always stranger than fiction. Or maybe it always is fiction. How can you tell the difference?

Anonymous said...

There's a good science fiction story by George R.R. Martin (Way of the Cross and Dragon) that is about a Judas oriented religious movement.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting - agree with Roxstar that there's a novel and subsequent movie in this for you!

Anonymous said...

Very thought provoking.

SH Bagley - what they will think of it is essentially nothing. The vast majority of the mega-church denizens go to those places precisely because they either can't or don't care to do this sort of spiritual exercise. They just want a salvation recipe to follow, thank yew very much. The monster churches are in no danger of their flock reading something like this in the first place, let alone reading something like this and deciding to stop tithing their kid's tuition money. The stuff that really scares them is someone loud enough saying things like "Jesus wouldn't persecute gays" because they've built their brand around conscious and unconscious bigotries and fears, and the subtle allure of being able to compare yourself favorably to others.

Anonymous said...

Check out "The Nazarene Gospel Restored" by Robert Graves and joshua Podro. Published in the 1950s, it prefiguires much of what is coming to light today.


Anonymous said...

wow! - very very insightful, and a way cool shift. I was raised on an archaeological interpretation of scripture, so I love this kinda stuff!

There's something very shakespearian about it - how's yer hand at iambic pentameter?

1988dylan said...

Mr.Driftglass, Please tell about the Romans and the deal to embrace Christianity at Constantinople and its overlay onto the pagans (regular folks of the day who were multi-deists).

Also, have you got anything prepared for Bush's Iranian Noookyular Bunker Buster plans?

Look forward to your next installment, whatever it is.


Anonymous said...

I ejoyed reading your comments, Kid Charlemagne. Very thoughtful.

In the Gospels, Jesus is taken up on a mountain top by Satan and is told "all this I will give you if you bow down and worship me". Jesus said something in the order of "Piss off"
At the Council of Nicea some three hundred years later, Emperor Constantine locked up all the christain bishops and said all this (the empire) I will give you if you bow down and worship me. The bishops with one voice said "Where do we sign".
Thereafter, the Bishops of Rome were murdered by their own rather than by the State, as had been the case before.

The Prosocution rests it's case.

Back to Judas' Gospel though, if it were written by Judas Iscarriot, would he have said anything different whether he was indeed a traitor or not?

Anonymous said...

Prosecution, that is. Preview is my friend .... my friend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks DG.

Very interesting and not at all incredible. I've been gradually working my way through the layers of bullshit trowelled on to the historic Jesus over the millenia, and onto me over the first two decades of my life, trying to separate the guy who seems like someone that I could greatly admire from all subsequent the crap done in his name.

Lately I've been reading some great books from the Westar Institute ( that cross-reference the 21 known gospels and other contemporary historical sources to distill the historical Jesus.

The books are:
The Gospel of Jesus (the distillation of all the sources)
The Complete Gospels (all sources, unabridged, cross-referenced)
The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, and
The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus.

For anyone with more than a passing interest in the origins and development of the canonical gospels I highly recommend them. I have no affiliation with Westar other than being impressed by their work, and a paying customer.

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Anonymous said...

I also like Elaine Pagels's work (although "The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters" really makes my head hurt).
I have recent started reading Bart Ehrman, too.

I still cannot get the Christians that I know and have discussed this with, to even concede that, just perhaps, since the Bible wasn't written in English that, just perhaps, through simple human error, some mistranslation of the text, MIGHT have occurred.
No dice.
"The Bible is the divinely inspired word of God!"

OT, not that anyone cares, but I've been posting off and on, and decided to give myself a "real-ish" name, so I will no longer be signing myself as....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for spending the time, effort and skill in writing this post. The "24" reference formed a crytalline synapse so strong that I expect even when I'm old and feeble in the mind, I'll still be able to remember and consider this unique take on Easter.

Anonymous said...

We are all influenced by Hollywood screenplays re: both Jesus and Moses. We have a hard time bringing those Biblical ancients up to present time, not to make it all "relevant", but to find out what these stories say to us right now. Your story is a wonderful reading of the Gospels, and whether or not it is 'factual' is beside the point. Your story is consistent with the message of the Gospels, and appropriately deferential to the great mysteries. Who knows ? But , the servant leader, who lays down his life for his brother/sister/son/another is the archytype that all human beings have before us.

I think you should write that novel, Driftglass. As DaVinci Codes rakes in the megabucks, it'd be a pleasure to watch someone with real writing talent rake it in.

Anonymous said...

Father, son, and holy ghost never made much sense to me. It's much easier to see how that would have developped in your scenario with an actual father and son. Holy ghost could have just been added later. At least it's not redundant then.

Anonymous said...

I have read some stuff (damn it, can't remember who) that tried to make the point that in original...Greek?... that "holy ghost" is feminine. Damn English and it's gender neutral words! Damn those translators who stole the feminine out of the Bible.
Or something like that.
So perhaps the holy ghost is just mom, and it's a cozy little family?

Anonymous said...

Holy ghost/spirit is usually "sophia" -ie "wisdom" - yes, feminine.

The "heresies" have gone on thruout history, but the heretics never really go away. It's all part of the tradition. In Britain, Pelagius opposed Augustine, who said that humans are born sinful -- saved only by the Church. Pelagius said that humans were born good - not sinful, and the church therefore did not have to "save" them. Pelagius lost, was condemned a heretic, went home to Ireland, and , since it was soooooooo far away from Rome, was more or less left alone to teach as he saw fit. Celtic spirituality still bears the imprint of Pelagius and his heresy. Most of what modern people believe today about God and Jesus is directly influenced by "Pelagiuan" heresies.

The Driftglassian heresy will be an interesting one to watch........

We are all formed equally by the heresies and the orthodoxies. Depends on your point of view....

driftglass said...

What a bunch of kind, thougtful, passionate people.
Thanks even so much.

And they tend to change places with each other over time. And maybe I will take swing at it :-)

Terry of the C.A.,
Once you chuck celibacy as being an absurd, Pauline add-on and think of this man as man (whatever his relationship with the Man Upstairs), things read very differently.
And you sound plenty realish.

You're welcome. As I said in the post, this is not original to me, but I sure enjoy "storyifying" it.


That Kid Charlemagne is a clever one. And if it were me writing my own story, it'd be Alibi City: I'd be the hero and Jesus'd be bringing me coffee and bitching under his breathe about my superhuman success with women.

Its better told in "The Sword of Constantine", which I recommend w/o reservation.
But you sum it up nicely.


Thinking it about it...

In 2,000 years, the entire DC Comics pantheon will be the...pantheon.

Pinky & The Brain will rule over Hell.

And cels of Bugs Bunny will be kept in ossuaries as holy relics and "proof" of a "cartoon" physics that preceeded out own.

SH Bagley,
It's just a story.
They'll ignore it.

And sadly, we've been doing that.

Politics is eternal, because human nature never changes..

sightunseen/karen mcl,
Thank you.

From the Jesuits I got the grit of history, context, how to read a chiasm, probably error in translation.
Buncha stuff.

I have never been known to turn down baskets of cash.

Nah. Just tellin' stories :-)
It is an honorable profession with a checkered past.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed this whole thing immensely, comments and all. Whatever you say about "The DaVinci Code", it brought women into the light again. I don't have words to express how important this was to me. Michelangelo's restored "Last Supper" makes me want to cry. I prefer to think of Jesus as just the sort of person you present for our consideration, Driftglass. Thank you. Yes, write the book!

Anonymous said...

Too early to think straight. DaVinci's "Last Supper", of course. Doh.

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Anonymous said...

driftglass...I read you daily. This was an exquisite post. I have always bemoaned the lack of the human in the christ. Your take certainly provides it.

I don;t know that I believe in jebus at all, but this would go a long way towards convincing me.

Thanks for all you do - thanks for your wunnerful brain.

Sarah Deere

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fascinating and ver interesting, but I disagree. A son of Jesus (Yeshua) also called Jesus would have been known as "Yeshua ben Yeshua". That could become Jesus Barjesus, but not Jesus Barabbas.

Barabbas simply used to mean "son of the father" is meaningless. Unless it means son of the heavenly father, son of God. Jesus' (rarely used) title, in other words.

And if Barabbas was Jesus' son, why isn't it mentioned explicitly in any Gospel (gnostic or conventional?) Why are the only surviving references to Barabbas being called Jesus in translations of the Bible, not in the original Greek versions?

Anonymous said...


Or simply google "barabbas" or "bar 'abbas" and you'll get hits from a variety of credible sources supporting the "son of the father" translation.

The translation comes from Aramaic, not Hebrew or Arabic.

Anonymous said...

a more likely scenario would be the reverse, where barabbas would have been jesus' father, not his son. as was mentioned above, jesus' son would have had a surname of bar'yeshua.

however, christian tradition has always held that yusef...sorry, you'd call him joseph, was not jesus' father, but rather a step-father. while christians of course interpret this to indicate a divine conception, it has been proposed by many historians that this might merely imply that his conception was illegitimate.

so let's look at a narrative starting in roughly 4-5 bce. the leader of a revolutionary group aimed at overthrowing roman leadership stays overnight in a small village. in the process, he gets lucky with one of the local woman, as soldiers have since time immemorial. the woman, mary, gets pregnant as a result. the general advises her that any child of his will inevitably become a target of the romans and many others. for her safety and the safety of the child, she must marry someone else and let no one know who the real father was. from this we get her marriage to a local man, yusuf, and a long convoluted story regarding virginity and immaculate conception to explain how she got pregnant before she was married but without having premarital sex, as well as a story of how he was born while travelling to beit lechem so that nobody will connect him with the general's visit to his hometown of nasar.

so the kid grows up as yeshua bar-yusuf, taking as his surname the name of his step-father. kid grows up to be a hippie, preaching love and kindness and forgiveness, turning the other cheek, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc. note that the romans don't seem to consider jesus' follower to be too dangerous, and they probably weren't, they were just a bunch of philosophers and scholars, not warriors.

ok, so word reaches jesus that his actual blood father, bar'abbas, has been capture by the romans. he feels that he has a duty to save him, not only as a son, but also out of a duty to help bring down the romans. all the rest of what you've written about the last supper can remain the same at this point, he tells peter and the other idealistic types to leave while they can, and gets judas, the only pragmatic one, to help him. but he needs to get the romans to notice him, but instead of doing something violent or dangerous, he goes down to the temple, upends a few tables and yells about how the temple is going to be destroyed. very good way to get noticed by the authorities. the high priests, being in on the deal, then recommend to the romans that he's a madman who needs to be put down.

so we get to the scene with bar'abbas, and instead of a father saving a son, we get the son sacrificing himself for the father, parallels to abraham and isaac on the mountain, etc. perhaps pilate doesn't know exactly how important the general is, or he's been misled and falsely believes jesus to be more of a danger. whatever the exact route of events, what you then get is the father being released to go fight on against the romans, at the price of his only son.

yes, here we get a literal father-leader-general sacrificing his only son for the good of the cause. the later religious interpretations of the story then make far more sense.

of course, this is all pure conjecture, but then again, having bar'abbas be the father does make a helluva lot more sense than making him the son.

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Anonymous said...

What are your 50,000 thoughts a day creating?
Our thoughts create our reality. This is a simple truth known by all people involved on the spiritual path. It is one of the most taught universal principles in the personal development field. Yet it is one of the most misunderstood!
People practice visualisation, affirmations, they use hypnosis, subliminal programming or countless other tools to transform their lives. However they fail to recognise one key area in their lives that hinder these wonderful techniques from being effective.
They sit day after day visualising their perfect scene and yet nothing happens. Why? They have followed all the instructions to the letter! They have chanted and imagined! They have formed a colourful, vibrant scene in their minds and affirmed that this is their reality. Then all of a sudden things get worse! What is going on?
Would you like to know the secret? Would you like to know why these people get no results? Would you like to hear one powerful statement that explains everything?
Good. I will tell you why these people get no results or even opposite results to those they are aiming for -simply because of the following truth. Consciously controlled thoughts such as visualisations do not materialise - ALL thoughts materialise!!!
Most people believe that if they visualise for 10 minutes a day their lives will magically transform. This is not the case. You must change your core thinking. You think approx. 50,000 thoughts a day. How many of those thoughts are working against your ten minute visualisation?
You can control the thoughts that enter your mind by changing the way you view the world. You can decide which thoughts you give energy to and which thoughts you discard.
The thoughts that you follow and give energy to become more dominant than the thoughts you discard. Your subconscious mind records these as your dominant picture on the issue at hand. You then move towards this picture because your subconscious mind starts making your outside world reflect the picture that you have stored internally.
Your mind should be on whatever you want. The picture you need to have is a positive vision of you already having achieved your goal. To realise this vision you need to focus and concentrate. Remember thoughts are real, they create your reality.
Let's say you have been visualising a new house. You spend your ten minutes in meditation picturing yourself living in your dream home. You finish your session and get up feeling positive that you will achieve your goal. Then during the day you get a heating bill through the post and exclaim "Oh no look how expensive this is I cannot afford to heat this house". Where is your focus in the present moment? What are you affirming? You are telling your subconscious mind that you cannot deal with what you have. You are affirming that your life is not how you want it to be. If you knew without doubt that within a week you would be moving to your new home would you honestly be worried about a heating bill? Perhaps other doubts creep in like "I should be happy with what I have", or "I will never get this house looking the way I want it" and so on and so on.
These thoughts that are not aligned with your goal. You are not giving complete attention to what you want. Whilst you are dealing with these other lines of thought your attention is not on your goal.
If you are aware of your thoughts you will suddenly realise that you have spent much more energy on counter productive thoughts than on creating a dominant picture of the goal you want.
Point your focus in the direction of you're the life you want. Think about what you want NOT what you don't want. It's that simple.
Your focus determines your reality. Change your focus and you change your life. lucid dream

Anonymous said...

The personal development industry has never been bigger! It consists of a myriad of authors basically telling us how to improve our lives. We are constantly being told self help and self improvement has never been easier. New techniques, gadgets and potions adorn the shelves of new age shops and the 1 billion dollar industry, that is personal development, offers many different approaches to help better our lives. They offer ways to increase our bounty and ultimately alter our own reality. A great example of this is how to develop a Prosperity Consciousness. But does this state really exist and if it does will it bring the effortless unlimited wealth promised?
A lot has been written about prosperity and how to attain it. We have been told by many religious traditions and every personal development guru that the Universersal Source (God, Spirit, Cosmic Mind or whatever label you chose to give it) is boundless wealth. We are also told that abundance, wealth and prosperity are our birthright! Why then are so many people ill, broke, frustrated and unfulfilled? Can a person really develop a prosperity consciousness and effortlessly attract wealth? Well as with everything in life there is only one way to find out. Test it for yourself!

Before we can attain and then test the effectiveness of having a prosperity consciousness we need to understand some basic truths. Let's start by explaining three fundamentals of personal development namely; 1. The Universal Source is all wealth, abundance and prosperity; 2. Prosperity is our birthright; 3. You get more of what you focus on.

1. Why are we told that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth? - Because the Universal Source is the consciousness of the Universe - a universe that is still expanding. It is the driving force behind physical reality. It created everything you see, hear, touch and smell as well as all that we are unaware of (microwaves, radiation, air etc.). It has been stated in religious and metaphysical traditions that this intelligence is not only the Source of everything but that it is also the substance of it! It creates the Universe from itself! It is omnipresent (everywhere present). That means that the entire seen and unseen aspects of the universe are a part of this Universal Source. Science reaffirms this theory as it states that nothing is solid and everything is just one mass of pure energy that vibrates at different frequencies and gives the illusion of separateness.
So we can now claim that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth, abundance and prosperity with some belief. For if this Source is the very substance of everything then it is all the wealth, abundance and prosperity that exists at this very moment!
Ok so far? Now lets look at the second point - prosperity is our birthright.

2. If this Universal Intelligence is the source and substance of all things then there can be only one intelligence in the Universe. Jesus said to his disciples "know ye not that you are the temple of the living God?" Buddha attained enlightenment and "oneness". The list of these religious teachings are too numerous to mention but their message remains the same - God (Universal Substance) resides within and around us. It's very substance makes up our physical body and the world around us - "For in him we live, move and have our being" Acts17:28. Therefore, if this Universal Source is at the very core of our being and is the substance from which we take physical form then it stands to reason that we are connected to everyone else and in fact everything else around us - we are a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the universe. Just as your hand or foot is a part of your body, so every grain of sand, blade of grass, wisp of wind, bar of gold and brick that is laid in a mansion is part of you. The unlimited wealth of the universe is yours for the claiming. It is already yours, always has been and always will be. It is a part of you.
Ok let's go the third point - you get more of what you focus on.

3. "It never rains but it pours", is a saying I have used myself in the past. Have you ever wondered why such a statement appears to be true? Well metaphysics and religion tell us that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" or as Job cried out to God "For that which I greatly feared has come upon me". What we focus our conscious attention on increases! Don't believe me? Test it for yourself! If you can muster up the strength to do it then think in negative terms for a week. Judge everything that happens to you in negative terms and think only of a negative outcome and watch what happens in your world!!! This is a relatively easy experiment as we are conditioned to think negatively by the world. A word of warning though - once you prove that your focus determines your reality stop thinking negative thoughts as best you can.
I will not go into the 'hows' of why our focus has such a profound influence on our lives (that would be the subject of a book or perhaps a future article) just prove to yourself that it does. A clue can be found in the teachings of Jesus when he said "The Kingdom of heaven is within".
So now we have the three principles of the prosperity consciousness explained let's put it to work. The attainment of a prosperity consciousness is relatively simple - just think on the first two principles until you fully understand them and integrate them into your consciousness. As you focus on them you will discover that your feelings of lack disappear and you begin to feel a connection with everything around you. It is really just an attitude shift - nothing metaphysical or mystical about it at all. You begin to consciously realize that everything is a part of you. Your focus changes from poverty to wealth.
If it helps make a list of affirmations that correspond to the two principles outlined e.g. "God is the Source and substance of everything", "I am at one with everyone and everything around me", "I am a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the Universe" etc. Don't just rhyme them off in a parrot like manner, think on them and realize the scientific or spiritual truths behind them.

Will it work? Well I can say now that if you follow the above instructions a real change will happen in you. You will start to see the beauty of the world and the unlimited resources that are available within and around you. Will you attain wealth, abundance and prosperity? Test it for yourself! hypnosis

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