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Lives Changed – The Jesus Legend

1stcenturyromanempire 150x150 Lives Changed   The Jesus LegendI want to examine how the people closest to Jesus and those closest to the period when he was executed died, and so show in some way how they believed. There are only a couple of ways outside of believing to consider the story of Jesus, either Lies or Legend.

Legend – This theory, legend, simply doesn’t work at all for me. It takes an examination into especially the Bible as to how, when and who wrote it, which I am not going to look at here. If anyone happens across this post and has some interest in this area, let me know. Needless to say, the secular view on the Bible is pathetic. I can’t believe I ever listened to such lies told by so many unknowing and knowledgeable people.
– Moving right into it, I’m not moved by the legend theory of Jesus at all. First, if Jesus didn’t exist, then tell me who left in one generation the material of wisdom, extremely contrary to common thinking, left by this person we call Jesus. If it wasn’t Jesus, then tell me who it was so I can follow that person.

– The material in the Bible is obviously too early for it to be talking about anyone else or to be a conglomerate of several people. 1 Corinthians 15 written around 54 obviously points to an earlier oral tradition already in place about what took place a scant 25 max years before.

– There were too many people still alive who saw the events who could have contradicted anything that was being taught, not simply the resurrection. Paul would have been the first to jump all over it. We see in Acts that he was arresting followers of The Way well before his conversion. Certainly they would have been questioned, as we see Paul himself was questioned, as to beliefs. Anything contradictory to the story being told would have been widely publicized in use against any followers. Paul definitely would have used this material, these people. Instead he is converted. The Legend concept makes no sense.

Lies – To my mind, this is the only plausible explanation. People were living lies about the resurrection. If you could buy into the resurrection, if you can buy into the resurrection, the miracles become, well, common place. It all comes down to the resurrection. (Just for the record, I believed in God first for several reasons and Jesus has been actually a struggle.)

Jesus - Some guy in his 30’s walking around speaking against authority who have a habit of killing people who disagree. At the very least, we know John the Baptist and Jesus were in contact while John was in jail. And the story of John being decapitated for a birthday party present made it back to Jesus and the disciples. Several attempts or known plots against Jesus were known. He seems to have known he was a target. If you believe, you would say he knew. Trying to put any of the miraculous stories aside, he felt he was nearing the end. He knew he was walking full forward to death. There can be no doubt about that. None. He knew he was going to be executed, no matter whether you take him to be man or God. So, like John, we could say at the least, he was a religious zealot dying for his faith. John did it. Was Jesus that special in that he suspected he was to be executed? Hmmm.

12 Apostles – Now here comes the rub. Obviously, the apostles would have seen already that Jesus’ teachings were taking a strong turn away from strictly political aims, which was the direction the promised messiah was to take. Jesus is about to be killed. Peter is so scared and obviously not taking Jesus to be God because he denounces him three times. Jesus is killed. He was not the messiah who was to lead Israel into new political leadership. The apostles go into hiding because they are scared of being captured themselves. They had believed Jesus represented the all the prophesies of the past of a coming conqueror. How could anything be as they had thought if Jesus is dead? All they have believed is a lie.

The following of Jesus is contrary to Jewish teaching in that it would involve worshiping a man. You have to believe Jesus to be the Son of God and one state of God. There is no way getting around this. Somehow, after hiding for their life, they put Jesus up as God. Under their own belief system, they are abandoning God, worshiping another, the worst offense against God. Beyond the danger in this life these ideas would cause from other men and authorities angry over these beliefs and their influence, the greater danger in the mind of these believers, whether you believe or not, would be to the immortal soul in which these very spiritual people obviously had great belief.

Total faith – total betrayal – total belief – total dedication. What happened?

Let’s look at it another way. I know the claim my friends and I are making is a lie. I never saw a resurrected Christ. Yet I claim that I did see him. More than anything else, I would expect to detect in some areas a lack of integrity.

For myself, having been brought up not strictly as a Christian, but influenced heavily by Christian ideas and Christians, not having faith in God and/or Jesus caused fear at times. I mean, what if I was wrong? What if God really did exist and I was simply wrong? Now extrapolate that back to 1st century Palestine where belief in idols or false gods was a massive no no. This was the downfall of Israel throughout the ages. And it would have been deeply ingrained into any 1st century Jew’s psyche.

As leaders, they would have been leading themselves and others down a path of eternal destruction. And if they knew the claims they were making were a lie…We would expect some if not many recantations of the facts; especially when under torture or threat of death. We have a record of none. Had there been even one, I have to believe this would have been useful to those who opposed this movement and been used widely. I also think we would detect a massive lack of integrity in their writings, lives & sadly deaths.

Where do we detect a lack of integrity? In the one who did not follow Jesus, Judas. Here are the 12 and some additions below.

Peter – also known as Ben-Yonah/Bar-Yonah, Simon Peter, Cephas. Origen says: “Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer”.
Born     c. 1, Bethsaida
Died     64, Rome, by crucifixion
Peter ran a fishing business in Bethsaida (John 1:44). He was named Simon, son of Jonah or John. The synoptic gospels all recount how Peter’s mother-in-law was healed by Jesus at their home in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14–17; Mark 1:29–31; Luke 4:38) which, coupled with 1 Corinthians 9:5, proves conclusively that Peter was married, contrary to traditions stating otherwise.

Andrew -The brother of Simon/Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman, and a former disciple of John the Baptist.
Born     early first century AD, Bethsaida
Died     mid- to late first century AD, Patras, upon an X shaped cross

James – son of Zebedee: The brother of John. (James the Greater)
Born     1st century
Died     44 AD, Judea, beheaded
Act 12:1 gives Herod had James executed by sword, making him the first of the apostles to be martyred.

John - The brother of James. Jesus named both of them Bo-aner’ges, which means “sons of thunder”. (Mark 3:17)
Born     c. 6 AD, Galilee, in the Holy Land
Died     c. 100, Ephesus, Asia Minor

Philip - From the Bethsaida of Galilee (John 1:44, John 12:21)
Born     Unknown, Bethsaida
Died     c.80, Hierapolis, by crucifixion

Bartholomew - son of Talemai: It has been suggested that he is the same person as Nathanael, who is mentioned in John 1:45-51.
Born     1st century AD, Iudaea Province (Palaestina)
Died     1st century AD, Caucasic Albania. Flayed and then crucified

Matthew – The tax collector. The similarity between Matthew 9:9-10, Mark 2:14-15 and Luke 5:27-29 may indicate that Matthew was also known as Levi. We don’t know how he died. According to Heracleon, who is quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Matthew did not die a martyr, but this opinion conflicts with all other ancient testimony. There is a disagreement as to the place of St. Matthew’s martyrdom and the kind of torture inflicted on him, therefore it is not known whether he was burned, stoned, or beheaded. The Roman Martyrology simply says: “S. Matthæi, qui in Æthiopia prædicans martyrium passus est”.

Thomas - Also known as Judas Thomas Didymus, Doubting Thomas
Born     1st century AD
Died     c. AD 72, near Chennai, India
He was a Martyr and was killed by group of sages in Chennai and the Place is called Saint Thomas Mount.

James – son of Alphaeus: Generally identified with “James the Less”, and also identified by Roman Catholics with “James the Just”, which makes no sense in my mind. Someone correct me. This can not be the brother of Jesus, who thought Jesus was mad before the resurrection and who was stoned to death.
Born     Unknown
Died     Unknown, Egypt or Jerusalem
He is reported to have been martyred by crucifixion at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel.

Thaddeus – In some manuscripts of Matthew, the name “Lebbaeus” occurs in this place. Thaddeus is traditionally identified with Jude.
Jude is reported as suffering martyrdom together with Simon the Zealot in Persia. According to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about AD 65 in Beirut, Lebanon together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. Sometime after his death, Saint Jude’s body was brought from Beirut, Lebanon to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica which is visited by many devotees.
Tradition has it that Jude’s father, Clopas, was murdered because of his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ.

Simon the Zealot – Some have identified him with Simeon of Jerusalem.
Possibly died of old age, possibly martyred. Several different traditions.

Judas Iscariot – The disciple who later betrayed Jesus. (Mark 3:19) Also referred to as “Judas, the son of Simon” (John 6:71 and John 13:26). He was replaced by Matthias as an apostle shortly after Jesus’ resurrection.
Matthew has him committing suicide by hanging himself. Acts simply says he burst open, intestines coming out.

_________________

Stephen as recorded in the Acts 6:8–8:3, who was stoned to death for his faith. Stephen was killed (i.e., martyred) for his support, belief and faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the Messiah. There were probably other early Christian martyrs besides Stephen since Saul, later-known as the Apostle Paul of Tarsus, is mentioned as bringing many murderous threats against the disciples or followers of Jesus (Act 8:3, 9:1-2, 9:13-14). Paul was known to be going into their homes, rounding them up and sticking them in prison.

Paul - Saul of Tarsus. Paul was constantly trying to avoid being beaten or killed.
He was held as a prisoner for two years until, in AD 59, a new governor reopened his case. He appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen and was sent to Rome for trial. Acts reports that he was shipwrecked on Malta where he was met by St Publius and the islanders, who showed him “unusual kindness”. He arrived in Rome c AD 60 and spent two years under house arrest.

Paul’s death is commonly dated to c 60-62 or c 62-65.

March 14 (d. 68) Three Roman soldiers converted by the profound and moving experience of witnessing St. Paul’s martyrdom. For the crime of converting, they were condemned and executed.

James - James the Just, brother of Jesus  (Hebrew: יעקב or Jacob) (Greek Iάκωβος), (died 62AD), also known as James of Jerusalem, James Adelphotheos, James, the Brother of the Lord.
According to a passage in Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities, (xx.9) “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” met his death after the death of the procurator Porcius Festus, yet before Lucceius Albinus took office (Antiquities 20,9) — which has thus been dated to 62. The High Priest Ananus ben Ananus took advantage of this lack of imperial oversight to assemble a Sanhedrin who condemned James “on the charge of breaking the law,” then had him executed by stoning. Josephus reports that Ananus’ act was widely viewed as little more than judicial murder, and offended a number of “those who were considered the most fair-minded people in the City, and strict in their observance of the Law,” who went as far as meeting Albinus as he entered the province to petition him about the matter. In response, King Agrippa replaced Ananus with Jesus, the son of Damneus.

James was martyred at the hands of a mob incensed at his preaching about Jesus and his “transgression of the Law” – an accusation made by the Jewish High Priest of the time, Hanan ben Hanan.

In some ways, James is for me very compelling.

Mark 3:21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” This transitions into Mark 3:31-35, which would point that this is the reason Jesus’ family was visiting him, to take charge of him. Both Matthew and Luke tell of the visit, but only Mark points to the reason.

Paul writes around 54, of the resurrected Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8  that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (This James has to be Jesus’ brother. As Paul states, Jesus has already appeared to the ‘Twelve’.)

Galatians 1:18-19    Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles-only James, the Lord’s brother. (Paul went to Jerusalem to confirm the Word he had believed was divinely received did not conflict with the teaching coming out of Jerusalem. If Paul was on God’s business, as he felt, he wouldn’t bother to mention Jesus’ brother unless he now held authority in God’s work. Family relation or not, he would have no importance worth mentioning unless it related to God’s work and Paul’s commission.)

Galatians 2:9     James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. (This is fourteen year later, and 3 years after Paul’s conversion, so minimum, actually more, of 17 years after the crucifixion, so earliest the year 47. James the Greater was executed around 44 at the latest. There is a possibility it could be James the son of Alphaeus. But considering James the brother of Jesus is said to have been the first and Bishop of Jerusalem until 62, it seems improbable and much more likely Galatians 2:9 is pointing to Jesus’ brother, James.)

So why does any of this matter? We have James who grew up with Jesus. Jesus goes out to be a God following zealot. Jesus’ family thinks he is nuts. They go and try to bring him back. Jesus appears to his brother James who hadn’t believed in him until this point, I would submit.

Knowing your brother intimately as any family member would, what would you expect to be the story of James’ life had he seen his brother executed and those who continued to follow also persecuted and in cases killed? Would you insert yourself into the situation which you had thought was nuts to begin with?

If I had never seen something unbelievable like my brother rise from the dead, yet people were putting my life in danger by saying I had, I think I would speak against them. If my name was being brought up publicly, I would seperate myself publicly from this cult; a cult which brought death to its followers.

Yet that’s not what we see. We see Paul seeking not only James’ consul, but his stamp of approval. James becomes not only actively involved in The Way, he becomes a leader. He continues to fight so vehemently for this Way, that he is eventually stoned to death for teaching the Way of his brother.

I would love to hear what an FBI profiler has to say on this. I’m sure it is possible to convince ourselves of many improbable things; even die for them. But is it really probable that we would orient ourselves completely away from society on a deadly course on the basis of what we know to be a lie? Add to this, the Apostles were mainly scattered all over the place from Egypt to India. They could have recanted if threatened with death, relocated and started again. The other Apostles wouldn’t have heard of it, at least not for some time. But there are no stories of anyone having changed their story before they were put to death. These were men who ran away and hid when they knew Jesus was dead. Then, all of a sudden, they began preaching, directly, the divinity of Jesus.

(I don’t bring up the Epistle of James because we are not sure who actually wrote it. I like the traditionally idea of James the brother of Jesus, but don’t see a need to be married to the idea. I think more important than who wrote it would be when it was written when compared with Paul’s writings. Martin Luther and some during the Reformation seem to have argued against its canonicity calling it too defective. I think their personal bias on the faith/works argument closed their eyes to what they were reading. When I read James, and obviously by the name of this site I am a fan, I read it as not refuting the faith alone doctrine. In fact, I tend to think maybe James was written either before or without knowledge of Paul’s writings. Had it been written to refute Paul’s claims of faith alone, it would have been much more clear in its renunciation of Paul’s teachings. Had it been written with knowledge of and in agreement with Paul’s writings, it would have been clear to point to this agreement. I don’t think it points to agreement or disagreement, but simply to the definition of saving faith. Luther and others read James 2:14-26 as requiring good works to be saved. I read it to say that true faith will manifest itself in the actions of the believer. He says even the demons belive in one God and shudder. Repentence, in my not so humble opinion, means to orient yourself towards God, to let Him come into your life to direct your actions. If you believe but you are not surrendered, relying on God, is that truly faith? True repentence, (nothing to do with not sinning which is impossible for us), but turning towards God in faith will bring about noticable actions in the believer.  If those actions are not present, then saving faith is also not present. That’s all that is being said.)

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