Saturday, 31 October 2015

Jesus Did not Die on the Cross; Two Ante-Nicene Fathers confirm this

St. Paul says: "Now if Christ be preached that out of the dead he has been raised, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is not a resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised: And if Christ has not been raised, void then is also our preaching, and void is also your faith." (1 Cor 15:12-14).

This is one of the many circular arguments of Paul, but it serves to illustrate the problem of
"Confirmation Bias." This psychological phenomenon explains why people tend to seek out
information that confirms their existing opinions and overlook or ignore information that refutes their
beliefs. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs;
obviously Christianity is one of them. This essay seeks to refute the "my side" opinions and beliefs on
the Crucifixion and Resurrection and to present the "other side."

Two of the most esteemed and respected Ante-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Papias and
Irenaeus tell us that Jesus did not die on the cross, but lived to a ripe old age. Even Islam, which is the
second largest religion in the world to Christianity, possessing 1.6 billion faithful and that recognizes
Jesus as a prophet, believes that another man was substituted for Jesus on the cross.

The Quran says: "And the Jews were saying in boast, "We killed Messiah Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,", but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man and they killed that man, and those who differ therein are full of doubtful knowledge. They have no certain knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not." (Quran 4. Surah An-Nisa' (The Women) 157) Thus said the Angel Gabriel.

It is quite possible that Muhammad was influenced by Gnostic writings like the one that was found in
the Nag Hammadi Library (discovered in Upper Egypt in 1945):
"For my death, which they think happened, happened to them in their error and blindness, since they
nailed their man unto their death... It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it
was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It
was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns... And I was laughing at their ignorance."
(Gnostic Codex VII of the Nag Hammadi library: The Second Treatise of the Great Seth tr. Roger A.
Bullard and Joseph A. Gibbons).

"The Second Treatise of the Great Seth" is admittedly Gnostic as it is already substituting Seth (the son of Adam) for Jesus. In addition, it places Simon on the cross instead of Jesus (Seth) to support the
metaphoric message that physical life is illusion. (Irenaeus himself refutes the "The Second Treatise of the Great Seth" as the heretical work of Saturninus and Basilides in "Against Heresies" I:XXIV.4).

(Incidentally the name Simon is significant because in Matt 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26, there is a Simon who carries the cross, suggesting that he played a larger role:
"And they impress a certain one passing by - Simon, a Cyrenian, coming from the field, the father of
Alexander and Rufus - that he may bear his cross".)

Next the writings of two Fathers of the Christian Church: Papias and Irenaeus, who existed
before the Council of Nicaea (CE 325) formalized the Church doctrine, are shown:

IRENAEUS was born in Smyrna in130, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation, and died in
Lugdunum (Lyon) in 202. He is venerated in the following Churches: Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, Assyrian Church of the East, Lutheran Church, and Oriental Orthodox Church.

THAN FIFTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE DIED. (footnotes included directly in italic)
4. Jesus, being thirty years old ("Now Jesus was, as it were, beginning to be thirty years old" - Luke
3:23) when He came to be baptized (by John the Baptist ), and then possessing the full age of a Master, He came to Jerusalem, so that He might be properly acknowledged by all as a Master ...
For He came to save all through means of Himself - all, I say, who through Him are born again to God - infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age,

  • becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants;
  • a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission;
  • a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord.
  • So likewise He was an old man for old men, that He might be a perfect Master for all, not merely as respects the setting forth of the truth, but also as regards age, sanctifying at the same time the aged also, and becoming an example to them likewise.
  • Then, at last. He came on to death itself, that He might be "the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence" (Colossians 1:18) "the Prince of life" (Acts 3:15), existing before all, and going before all.

5. They, however, that may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord", maintain that He preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month (so say the Synoptics: Mathew, Mark & Luke; but John: 3 years as Irenaeus advocates).
In speaking thus, they are forgetful to their own disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary and more honorable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He excelled all others. For how could He have had disciples, if He did not teach? ...
On completing His thirtieth year (or thirty-third), He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age.
Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends on-wards to the fortieth year, everyone will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher,
as the Gospel and all the elders testify. Those elders who were conversant in Asia with John, the
disciple of the Lord, affirming that John conveyed to them that information. And he (John) remained
among them up to the times of Trajan. (98AD - This is the common statement, but is more likely to be John's son from Priscilla.)

Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same
account from them, and bear testimony as to the validity of the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemaeus, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?
6. But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly
indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My
day; and he saw it, and was glad," they answered Him, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?" (John 8:56,57)
Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, "Thou art not yet forty years old."
For those who wished to convict Him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of His years far beyond the age which they saw He had attained; but they mentioned a period near His real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a
conjecture from what they observed that He was above forty years old, and that He certainly was not
one of only thirty years of age. For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove Him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and He whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being of flesh and blood. He did not  then want much of being fifty years old;
And, in accordance with that fact, they said to Him, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou
seen Abraham?" He did not therefore preach only for one year, nor did He suffer in the twelfth month of the year. For the period included between the thirtieth and the fiftieth year can never be regarded as one year, unless indeed, among their eons, there be so long years assigned to those who sit in their ranks with Bythus in the Pleroma.

PAPIAS OF HIERAPOLIS died in c.100 AD. Irenaeus described Papias "an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp." Polycarp (69AD- 155AD) is regarded as one of three
chief Apostolic Fathers along with Pope Clement and Ignatius of Antioch. His sole surviving work
attributed to his authorship is his Letter to the Philippians (first recorded by Irenaeus).
The writings of Papias were still extant when Eusebius (260/265 – 339/340) wrote his Ecclesiastical
History, for which he is known as "Father of Church History." These writings of Papias were lost
sometime in the Middle Ages, but fortunately Eusebius copied some of them directly. As Bishop of
Caesarea Maritima and friend of Constantine, Eusebius played a prominent role at the Council of
Nicaea in 325.

"It is worth while however to add to the words of Papias in which he records some other wonderful
events likewise, as having come down to him by tradition. That Philip the Apostle resided in
Hieropolis with his daughters has been already stated; but how Papias, their contemporary, relates that he had heard a marvelous tale from the daughters of Philip, must be noted here. For he relates that in his time a man rose from the dead, and again he gives another wonderful story about Justus who was surnamed Barsabbas, how that he drank a deadly poison, and yet, by the grace of the Lord, suffered no inconvenience."
"Of this Justus the Book of the Acts records that after the ascension of the Savior the holy Apostles put him forward with Mathias, and prayed for the right choice, in place of the traitor Judas, that should make their number complete. The passage is somewhat as follows; And they put forward two, Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Mathias."

The first of these quotes from Papias is clearly significant because it comes from "the daughters of
Philip" that Paul encounters in Acts 21:8,9: "On the morrow Paul and his company having gone forth, we came to Caesarea, and having entered into the house of Philip the evangelist - who is of the seven - we remained with him, and this one had four daughters, virgins, prophesying."
Clearly these daughters are nuns and, since Papias has associated them with Philip in Hieropolis (near
one of the seven churches: Laodicea), their testimony must therefore be important and possibly firsthand.

Clearly, Eusebius and Papias imply that this person who was crucified was the person that was one of
the two who was put forward to replace Judas Iscariot after the crucifixion:
"And they set two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias." (Acts 01:23)

Firstly, the name 'Joseph' will be examined. On face value, it would seem that this person "Joseph"
refers to James the Just given his important role in Acts 12:17; 15:13–21 (Council of Jerusalem); and
21:17–18 and the Epistle of James and as the Bishop of Jerusalem, attested by Hegesippus and
Eusebius. Given that James is the brother of Jesus which is clearly stated by Paul: "James, the Lord's Brother" (Galatians 1:19), it is highly probable that, since Jesus was not named after his father, his next son would be named "Joseph".

The discrepancy in the genealogy charts of Matthew and Luke that give "Jacob" or "Heli" for Jesus'
grandfather can be resolved by understanding that 'Jacob' is a designation from the historical 'Jacob',
the founder of the twelve tribes of Israel and that Heli was his real name. The name "James" is the
English derivation of "Jacob" (Iakobos) and thus James the Just, younger brother of Jesus ("James the
Less" Mark 15:40) is "Joseph" carrying the title of "Jacob (James)".

Secondly, the term 'Justus (Ioustos)' will be examined. It appears in only two other places:

  1. "Titius Justus, a worshiper of God" (Acts 18:7)
  2. "Jesus, who is called Justus, a Jew among Paul's co-workers for the kingdom of God"(Colossians 4:11)

Both do not have Joseph or Barsabbas, so they can be eliminated. (However there is good
reason to assume that this Jesus Justus is actually Jesus' son named after him, therefore
another proof of Jesus' survival from the crucifixion! Titius Justus would be Titus, his tutor.)
There are others that are referred to as righteous (dikaios) which can also be translated as "just":

  1. Simeon: "a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was righteous"(Luke 2:25)
  2. John the Baptist: "For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous man(Mark 6:20)
  3. Jesus's father: "Joseph her husband, being a righteous man" (Matt 1:19)
  4. Joseph of Arimathaea: "There was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a gooman and righteous, (the same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them) and hewas of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who also himself waited for the kingdom of God                  (Luke 23:50,51)
  5. Jesus: "Pilate says, 'I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person' (Matt 27:24)          "The centurion says, 'Really this man was righteous!' (Luke 23:47)

1. Person #1 Simeon is very old and he would not survive a crucifixion.
2. Person #2 John the Baptist was beheaded.
3. Person #3 Jesus' father is named Joseph and, although it is true that we do not hear anything
about him after he and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem at the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-51), it would
seem surprising that, if he was crucified, that there would be no mention of it.
He probably was assassinated like Zechariah.
4. Person #4 Joseph of Arimathaea is significant as he is Joseph; especially when deciphering
the the root words of Arimathaea being:
hebrew: "ariah" - lion ("Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" Revelation 5:5) and
greek: "mathetai" - disciples.
Thus he comes from a place related to the heritage of King David and the disciples of Jesus.
(Given the previous discussion on James the Just, it should be logical to assign this person
as James the Just, having been disguised to minimize his importance due to the same sibling
rivalry that led to his rejection as the replacement for Judas Iscariot. "The Recognitions of
Clement" LX:55 reveals the identity of Matthias: "Barnabas, who also is called Matthias,
who was substituted as an apostle in the place of Judas". Since Barnabas is Joseph (Acts
4:36), the rivalry of James and Jesus led to the choosing of his younger brother Joses.
5. Person #5: Jesus, importantly, also satisfies the "Just" qualification, begin called righteous
like his father.

Thirdly, the term 'Barsabbas' will be examined. The prefix "Bar" means "of " and "sabbas" is similar to "abbas" in Barabbas (Matt 27:16) which can mean son of the abbot. Obviously, Barabbas being a criminal could not possibly be righteous, although he may actually be Nicodemus meaning "conquering one", "a leader of the Jews" being taught by Jesus in John 3:1-2 and actually a popular Zealot hero. 

If one accepts that Jesus is not addressing God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, but rather "abbot the father", we can gain more insight into the use of this Aramaic word "abba": "'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" (Mark 14:36) The cup has significance later on as it contains poison. Thus Barsabbas, which is applied to Joseph (James the Just) and also to Jude in "Judas called Barsabbas" (Acts 15:22), could be used for Jesus as he is son of the father abbot. Clement of Alexandria' in his "Comments on the Epistle of Jude" says that Jude, the Epistle of Jude's author, was a son of Joseph and a brother of the Lord. Eusebius Church History Book III Chapter 20.1: "Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord's brother according to the flesh."

Next, there is a "Joseph called Barnabas" (Acts 4:36) which has a common similar suffix: "abas".
When Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first journey, Barnabas is clearly the superior of Paul as he
is venerated as Zeus to Paul's Hermes (Acts 14:12). Silas replaces Barnabas on Paul's second journey
which implies a similar status. Joses is short for Joseph.

Given that Silas appears in close proximity to Jude in Acts 15:22-27, there must be a possible
connection between Joses and Jude:
"Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole assembly, chosen men out of
themselves to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas -- Judas surnamed Barsabbas, and Silas,
leading men among the brethren - having written through their hand thus: 'The apostles, and the
elders, and the brethren, to those in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia, brethren, who are of the nations,
greeting; seeing we have heard that certain having gone forth from us did trouble you with words,
subverting your souls, saying to be circumcised and to keep the law, to whom we did give no charge, it seemed good to us, having come together with one accord, chosen men to send unto you, with our
beloved Barnabas and Paul - men who have given up their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we have sent, therefore, Judas and Silas, and they by word are telling the same things.'"

At this point, there are three names out of four who are listed as brothers of Jesus in Mark 06:03:
"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and
Simon?" (Since Mary is a "virgin" by title, there is no necessity for an uncle as a father.)

Simon, the last name in this list, has a connection with James the Just through the name Cleopas as he
appears as "Simon, the son of Cleopas" in Eusebius, Church History III 32.1,3 quoting Hegesippus. It is Cleopas who meets the resurrected Jesus on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24:18. Paul indicates that
Cleopas is James when he gives the appropriate order of the events, (leaving out Peter and John Mark, the disciple that Jesus loved, and the women!):
"He appeared to James, then to all the apostles." Simon must therefore be the last brother listed.
Given that the name "Silas" can be parsed as the Hebrew word sela (seh'-lah) meaning rock, which is
reminiscent of Cephas: Peter as the rock, Silas must be Simon.

The purpose of this exercise, whether or not it is accepted by consensus opinion, is to show that the
terms in "Justus who was surnamed Barsabbas" can be fulfilled by anyone of the five brothers.
As to James the Just, we know from Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1 that Ananus the Younger
took advantage of the death of the procurator Festus and Albinus not just arrived to facilitate his murder in 62AD.

As to Jude: "The same historian (Hegesippus) says that there were also others, descended from one of
the so-called brothers of the Savior, whose name was Judas, who, after they had borne testimony before Domitian, as has been already recorded, in behalf of faith in Christ, lived until the same reign."
(Eusebius Church History III 32.5) Jude's martyrdom was recorded in the "Acts of Simon and Jude"
that was among the collection of passions and legends traditionally associated with the legendary
Abdias, bishop of Babylon.

As to Simon "In the age of Nero and Domitian a persecution was stirred up against us in certain cities
in consequence of a popular uprising. In this persecution we have understood that Symeon, the son of
Cleopas, who, as we have shown, was the second bishop of the church of Jerusalem, suffered
martyrdom. Hegesippus, whose words we have already quoted in various places, is a witness to this fact also. Speaking of certain heretics he adds that Symeon was accused by them at this time; and since it was clear that he was a Christian, he was tortured in various ways for many days, and astonished even the judge himself and his attendants in the highest degree, and finally he suffered a death similar to that of our Lord. Thus he suffered martyrdom, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, while Trajan was emperor and Atticus governor." (Eusebius Church History III 32.1-3)

(The "120 years" is interesting as it could have been Jesus' age if he were alive during the reign of
Trajan (98-117 CE), but certainly Simon, the youngest brother, would have been 76 years old at the
start of his reign and thus a realistic age. He is 'son of Cleopas' because before succeeded James the Just as bishop, he would have been 'servant of', but he is really brother.)

Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first mission, but had a falling out just before Paul's second mission where he and John Mark went to Cyprus. (Acts 15:37-39) According to the Acts of Barnabas, Barnabas was killed in Cyprus. He has the Gospel of Matthew with him, which lends credence to the early writing of these Acts rather than being merely pseudepigraphical.

Last but not least, it is clear that Jesus has a familial connection with "Justus who was surnamed
Barsabbas" and an obvious connection to the events of Crucifixion shown briefly:

  • In the Garden of Gethsemane asking that the father allow him not to take a cup (of poison):'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" (Mark 14:36)
  • Before Jesus is placed on the cross there is poison (gall) offered:"they gave him to drink vinegar mixed with gall and having tasted, he would not drink. (Matt 27:34)
  • Then at the appropriate time (the ninth hour) in John 19:28,29: "After this, Jesus knowing that all things now have been finished, that the Writing may be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst.' (John 19:28)
  • "A vessel, therefore, was placed full of vinegar, and they having filled a sponge with vinegar,and having put it around a hyssop stalk, did put it to his mouth;" (John 19:28)
  • "When, therefore, Jesus received the vinegar (the poison), he said, 'It has been finished';having bowed the head, gave up the spirit."(John 19:29)

If the daughters of Philip are to be believed, then Jesus drank the poison, and must have been taken
down from the cross quickly without breaking his legs (John 19:33), wrapped in linen by the women at the cross to appear to be dead, and taken by James the Just to the cave where he was revived by
Nicodemus with huge quantities of the anecdote that he brought.

As to Jesus' Resurrection, Peter in his Gospel before the additions at the end, says nothing about it, but rather that the women returned from the empty cave with "trembling and amazement and did not speak of to anyone because they were afraid." In the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus does many things that a man in a human body would do:

  • he talks with Mary Magdalene (he says "do not touch me", not because of some not yet
  • materialized spirit body, but merely because he was unclean with vomit, etc),
  • he meets the women as they return from the empty cave,
  • he walks to Emmaus meeting two men, one of them James the Just (they do not recognize Jesus, but perhaps they are just astonished to see him walk such a distance after being crucified),
  • he attends synagogue showing his wounds, he eats "fish and honeycomb",
  • the doors are shut and he appears (the implication is that he walked through the doors, although he might have come in the priest entrance in the back),
  • Thomas puts his finger on the wound,
  • In the additional chapter to the Gospel of John, he cooks fish with the disciples.
  • Even his Ascension to heaven could be no more than his reentry into a higher status in the monastery (He stayed for 40 days in order to be spiritually cleansed, rather than it being some strange cosmic rule of spirits.)

When one considers the facts, there are historical cases of people surviving a crucifixion and Irenaeus
certainly has a point as to why God would sacrifice his Son after having given him only one (or three
years) before he had a chance to truly teach his disciples. One would imagine that the daughters of
Philip may have purposefully been vague as to "Justus who was surnamed Barsabbas", as they were
instructed to do by the Essene leaders as angels: Simon Magus and Nicodemus:
"Two men in glittering apparel said to them, 'Why do you seek the living with the dead? He is not here, but was raised; remember how he speaks to you, being yet in Galilee, saying:
'It is necessary for the Son of Man to be delivered up to the hands of sinful men, and to be crucified,
and the third day to rise again.' "(Luke 24:4-6)
"And they remembered his sayings, and having turned back from the tomb told all these things to the
eleven, and to all the rest. And it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women with them, who told unto the apostles these things, and their sayings appeared before them as idle talk, and they were not believing them." (Luke 24:8-11)

Also it is quite possible that this daughter of rank four under Philip was in fact Mary Magdalene, who
would certainly know the truth at first hand. She would be required to be virgin, when not in the
married state by Essene rules as her marriage was only for procreation:
"There is yet another order of Essenes, who, while at one with the rest in their mode of life, customs
and regulations, differ from them in their views on marriage. They think that those who decline to
marry cut off the chief function of life - that of transmitting it - and furthermore that, were all to adopt the same view, the whole race would very quickly die out. They give their wives, however, a three month's probation, and only marry them after they have thrice undergone purification (no
menstruation), in proof of fecundity (of pregnancy to term). But they do not accompany their wives
when they are with child, as a demonstration that they do not marry out of regard to pleasure, but for
the sake of posterity. Now the women go into the baths with some of their garments on, as the men do with somewhat girded about them." (Josephus Wars 2.8.13 - re-translated)

One might ask why there was the lie of the Resurrection. This can be explained as follows. The Jews
had a history of superhuman characters; thus it was easy to believe that John the Baptist was Elijah, but the Gentiles needed a Jesus who could rival Mithra, Adonis, Dionysus, and Horus and thus the
Resurrected Jesus was good match. When Paul and Barnabas were made into Hermes and Zeus (Acts
14:11-18), it was clear that the Resurrected Jesus was here to stay. The Council of Nicaea sealed his
doom: now Jesus was not only Resurrected, but also a God in Trinity.

Genesis says that Man is the "image and likeness" of God. Jesus called himself the Son of Man, not the Son of God. To make Jesus a God is to limit God.

It is hoped that this essay will help the reader to rethink what was thought to be the truth about the
Crucifixion and to see Jesus as he really was: a great Man and a Prophet. It is a comfort to know that
for forty years after his Crucifixion, Jesus was directing Peter and Paul and then Clement and John to
build his Church, thus his Church was as he intended it to be, at least into the second century. Once the veil of the Nicene Church dogma is caste away, it may also be possible to unite all of the Christian factions that were "rent asunder" after the Crucifixion and to build again Jesus' Church of agape love.