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Re: Historic Jesus

Jul 16, 1996 02:58 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

>Jerry Ekins said
>>As you get deeper into HPB, you will find that her ideas
>>concerning Jesus are quite radical from a Christian point of
>>view.  In ISIS UNVEILED, she makes a distinction between the
>>biblical, the theological, and the historical Jesus.  Unless,
>>you keep this in mind, it is very easy to become confused as to
>>which Jesus she is talking about.  HPB's historical Jesus lived
>>about 100 years earlier than the Biblical Jesus, and did not
>>know Pilate or John the Baptist.  Her biblical Jesus is built
>>from traditions and revelations of early Christian communities
>>not contemporary to Jesus.
>HPB only refers to Sepher Toldoth. What more <traditions and
>revelations of early Christian communities not contemporary to
>Jesus> ? 
Yes, she cites and discusses the SEPHER TOLDOTH, but that is not
her only reference.  From Jewish sources HPB also draws from the
TALMUD--some of which is supposed to have been drawn from records
that were contemporary with Jesus.  From Christian Sources, she
draws from the Bible and from the writings of the Ante Nicene
Fathers.  From Greek and Gnostic sources, she draws from a
variety of material extant at that time, including the PISTIS
SOPHIA.  The "traditions and revelations of early Christian
communities not contemporary to Jesus" would include the Gospels-
-none of which the biblical scholars have been able to show to
have been written within the lifetime of the Biblical Jesus'
disciples.  There was probably an earlier document from which the
Gospels were drawn, but it is now lost, and its possible content
is a matter of lively speculation at the moment.  The letters of
Paul make up the oldest documents in the New Testament, but Paul
never met Jesus in the flesh.  Also, Paul's account of Jesus is
quite different from the Gospels.  For instance, Pilot is never
>I could identify only this reference in Unveiled Isis. But even
>the historical Jesus at Sepher Toldoth is little consistent when
>compared with anothers historical documents. Sepher Toldoth 
>says about maccabee reign of Jannaeus, that reigned during 104bc
>to 78bc, member of the hasmonean family of jewish leaders and
>rulers comprising the sons of Mattathias and their descendants
>that reigning in Judea from 167bc to 37bc.
Yes, the Jewish account is very inconsistent with the Christian. 
Did you expect it to be otherwise?    
>Gibbon at Decline and fall of Roman Empire Vol I, p212 reproduce
>Annals XV,44 of Tacitus that says: "with this view, he (Nero)
>inflicts the most exquisite tortures on those men, who under
>vulgar appellation of christians, were already branded with
>deserved infamy. They derived their name and origin from Christ,
>who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by sentence of
>the procurator Pontius Pilate". Gibbon page 729 concludes: "this
>testimony is alone sufficient to expose the anachronism of the
>jews who place the birth of Christ near a century sooner
>(Basnage Histoire des Jufs 1.v.c.14,15).
If you begin with the premise that the Gospels are historically
accurate, then you will have to assume that any conflicting
accounts, including the Jewish, are wrong.  HPB does not assume
the Gospels to be accurate history, therefore she is free to
consider upon equal ground accounts from non Christian sources.  
>the authenticity of Sepher Toldoth is also uncertain, because it
>"did not appear before the thirteen century"
HPB was aware of the date of the extant Toldoth mss.  She was
also aware that the Christians had been raiding and burning
Jewish manuscripts for centuries, so it is a miracle that we even
have a thirteenth century specimen of this work. 
>The historical character of Jesus Christ is also attested by the
>hostile Jewish literature of the subsequent centuries. His birth
>is ascribed to an illicit ("Acta Pilati" in  Thilo, "Codex
>apocryph. N.T., I, 526; cf. Justin, "Apol.", I, 35),  or even an
>adulterous, union of His parents (Origin, "Contra Cels.," I, 28,
>32). The father's name is Panthera, a common soldier (Gemara
>"Sanhedrin", viii; "Schabbath"', xii, cf. Eisenmenger,
>"Entdecktes Judenthum", I, 109; Schottgen, "Horae Hebraicae",
>II, 696; Buxtorf,  "Lex. Chald.", Basle, 1639, 1459, Huldreich,
>"Sepher toledhoth yeshua hannaceri", Leyden, 1705).
Whether or not the Jewish literature is "hostile" does not prove
the information to be false.  It still may have been based upon
first century Temple records salvaged from the destruction--as
the ancient Rabbis claimed.  
>The last work in its final edition did not appear before the
>thirteenth century, so that it could give the Panthera myth in
>its most advanced form. Rosch is of opinion  that the myth 
>did not begin before the end of the first century.
Which would have been at the time of the destruction of the
Temple.  Therefore Rosch's opinion would be consistant with the
Rabbi's claims.  Whether it is a "myth" is Rosch's assumption. 
There are most probably ample mythological elements within the
story, but that does not mean that the TOLDOTH is a lie, or that
it was fabricated from someones imagination.  As we learned with
Homer's ILIAD, even a "myth" can be based upon very real events
and places.  
>at at file ECF04.TXT
>Origin, "Contra Cels.," I, 28 And since, in imitation of a
>rhetorician training a pupil, he introduces a Jew, who enters
>into a personal discussion with Jesus, and speaks in a very 
>childish manner, altogether unworthy of the grey hairs of a
>philosopher, let me endeavor, to the best of my ability, to
>examine his statements, and show that he does not maintain,
>throughout the discussion, the consistency due to the character
>of a Jew...."  [snip]
>Now, as I cannot allow anything said by unbelievers to remain
>unexamined, but must investigate everything from the beginning,
>I give it as my opinion that all these things worthily harmonize
>with the predictions that Jesus is the Son of God.
Regarding the above quotation coming from CONTRA CELSUS, I do not
see how it relates to this discussion concerning the TOLDOTH and
HPB's sources.  Yes, Origin more or less affirms the Jesus which
Christians believe.  However, Origins' beliefs conterning Jesus
are of interest because he lived at a time early in the Christian
movement, therefore they tell us something of what Christians of
his time believed.  Much of what Origin says is consistant with
todays' Christianity, and much is not.  But even Origin lived
after the time of the Jewish or the Christian Jesus.  The plain
and sad fact is, we have no first hand accounts of Jesus.  We
have only stories recorded in the Gospels, conflicting Gospels
that were thrown out, and conflicting Jewish and Gnostic accounts
many of which date to the same period as the Gospels of the
Please keep in mind that the purpose of HPB's writings was to get
people to look more broadly and open mindedly at non-Christian
religion, philosophy and culture as well as to look at
Christianity in a more open minded way.  If your guide to judging
the validity of HPB's ideas rests upon whether or not they
conflict with Christian ideas, then I suggest that your reading
of ISIS UNVEILED is a waste of time and you have missed the point
of the book.  
   |Jerry Hejka-Ekins,                      |                     
      |Member TI, TSA, TSP, ULT                |                  
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