Jesus Would Never Be A Christian
By Alan D. Griffin
The approach of History is to use a developed system of criterion to deduce what most likely occurred in the past. We can not ” know” what happened with absolute certainty simply because WE WERE NOT THERE.
There is no doubt historically that Jesus the man existed. He meets all the historical criterion needed to be deemed as a historical figure.
Miracles by definition are not likely to occur so they are not historical whether they actually occurred or not.
What information can we deduce from the historical method about Jesus?
Jesus most likely:
Was born in the 1st century in Palestine.
Lower class from a family who no longer held inherited lands.
Worked as a Tekton probably mostly with stone.
Began to travel and speak publicly.
The most likely actual sayings of Jesus are the parables.
He gained a significant following.
He was arrested and tried for sedition by Pontius Pilate.
He was crucified.
At some point at least some of his followers came to believe he rose from the dead.
Beyond this we can piece together a historical narrative from the Gospels focused on Jesus the man instead of the claims of his divinity and miracles attributed to him.
Jesus was a socio-political revolutionary whose purpose was to reach out to the poor and marginalized masses to organize a peaceful protest and revolt against the Roman occupiers and the corrupt Sadducees who ran the temple.
Jesus was a follower of John the Baptist from the Essenes sect of Judaism who was a philosopher and social revolutionary who spoke out against the ill treatment of the Jews by the Romans and against the corruption of the Temple by the Sadducees for monetary gains.
He also picked up on notions of the prophets Jeremiah and Amos that to be successful in any revolt or social change it begins and ends with the poor and marginalized masses feeling they are an important part of society.
Jesus in the synoptic Gospels is not claiming to be THE son of God but a son of God. He is simply claiming to be the personification of his own abstract notion of God. Therefore, Jesus would be God as well as that which flows from God, dare I say the son of God, at least his personal notion of God. And he is also trying to get his disciples to also understand this by asking “Who do they say I am?” and asking “Who do you say I am? He is implying if they believe it and that is their subjective perspective of him then that is who he is, he is only what they think him to be at least in their own subjective perception. This is the teaching behind the idea angels can be perceived as men and men as angels.
His Gospel is that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around us and men do not see it. This is the Good News. This is the point of his parables and why only those who have eyes to see will see it and ears to hear will hear it.
The Gospel of John is much more a theological dissertation than an attempt at a historical account of Jesus’ deeds and sayings and is closely related to gnostic beliefs with a few differences. John’s Gospel resembles Gnostic beliefs in many significant ways such as the belief in spiritual rebirth, dualism between the forces of darkness and light, and division of the cosmos into two realms the realm of the material and the realm of the spirit. John disagrees with the Gnostic idea that Jesus was a spiritual being which only seemed to be material. Instead John Insists that Jesus was a real material person. This was the reason Jesus is more of a physical being in his Gospel because he is demonstrating Jesus was a material not just a spiritual being. In John is where you get a resurrected Jesus who is more physical like eating and drinking, doubting Thomas touching the holes in Jesus’ hands etc..
The Gospel of John ( 95CE) is a theology attempting to sell the divinity of Jesus some 60 years after Jesus’ death. The author definitely was not an eyewitness. This is in no way an attempt to tell the story of Jesus’ life and ministry as the Synoptic Gospels do.
The author of Mark does not mention the resurrection. Seems to be an important detail to leave out of the story of Jesus. No other Gospels existed at the time of Mark so the only reason to leave it out is because it was not part of the Jesus story at the time Mark was written (70CE).
Matthew ( 80CE) and (Luke 85CE) both have a resurrection story. Most Historians believe this is from Q a second source for both Matthew and Luke. Mark was their main source and ends with Mary finding an Empty Tomb, running away, and telling no one. Mark leaves a kind of cliffhanger and so Matthew and Luke developed a better ending using Q.
So Matthew and Luke do not corroborate each other’s stories only that they used a shared source document. So authors of Matthew and Luke we are not getting eyewitness accounts ( Luke admits as much) but hearsay from author of Q.
The Resurrection was always meant metaphorically. Jesus was Jewish, monotheistic, and believed in one God ,YHWH. Deuteronomy 6:4 (NRSV) 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Other verses include Isaiah 45:5, Psalm 86:10, Psalm 83:18, Malachi 2:10, etc…
Jesus spoke in metaphors and parables and the resurrection was no different. The ideas, the agenda of Jesus is what was resurrected and worth dying for. The apostles and disciples operated in the name of Jesus, which means they operated based on the outline Jesus provided. This was common to write and behave in the name of someone else. In the spirit of a person. This type of writing is known as Pseudopicgrapha. They did not see this as plagiarism but a continuation of that persons ideals after they had died.
The apostles and disciples of Jesus are the metaphorical body of Christ. The church itself, is the Resurrection of Jesus. This is what is being referred to when Jesus says “Where two or more are gathered I Am there”…. get it? The Paraclete or counselor Jesus spoke of was his own spirit which would guide his followers after his death. This is not a seperate entity or persona from Jesus. The “Holy Spirit” it is not the third person of the unified godhead.
“My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.” – John Dominic Crossan
Following the example of the historical Jesus is being Christ-like. To focus on people and disregard man- made divisions which come between them. Unification is the Spirit of Jesus. The “Holy Spirit” if you will.
This is the Gospel of Jesus which is vastly different than the Gospel of Paul.
Paul never met Jesus, did not witness his ministry, did not witness the resurrection, and swears he did not get any of his information from the Apostles. Paul did not see Jesus on the road to Damascus but a blinding light and heard a voice claiming to be Jesus and the men with Paul saw nothing. My personal belief is that after witnessing the humble way in which Stephen died by being stoned to death was the initial catalyst for Paul’s ultimate conversion.
Another theory is Paul infiltrated the Jesus cult to destroy it from within by distorting Jesus message intentionally I call this the undercover cop theory. I don’t think this is the case but a possibility. And just like many undercover cops the lines get blurred and you begin to identify more with the members and Ideas of the group which is infiltrated and the initial purpose of infiltration is lost or becomes less black and white. So in this scenerio Paul sought to destroy Christianity from within and was ultimately converted instead.
Paul’s message distorted the teachings of Jesus possibly on purpose and as a result he put the focus on Jesus the man as deity while simultaneously drawing attention away from the actual message of Jesus to gather the poor disenchanted, disenfranchised populous on his side and engage in peaceful protest and civil discord against the Romans as well as the corrupt Sadducees who ran the temple.
Paul’s depiction of Jesus had a distinctly different message and agenda than that of the historical Jesus. Paul’s message was of Jesus’ divine nature and his role as a savior who offered rewards in an afterlife for those who stood firm in the face of Roman persecution.
From what we are told in the synoptic Gospels about Jesus he would be last person to ever embrace Christianity.
Jesus is depicted as someone who had great compassion and concern for all humanity and took special interest in those which were the most diverse from him and viewed the world which were most foreign to his ideologies.
He was depicted as someone who disregarded in- group/ out group identifiers and boundaries.
Someone who spoke out often against those who held too rigidly to religious doctrines, traditions, and Interpretations.
Someone who believed the abstract notion of a Heaven could be brought out of the abstract and into the concrete if only we could focus on what we have in common instead of what separates us.
He sought to bring up those who viewed themselves as undesirable, as unworthy of love and compassion and to show those that are proud an arrogant that they are not superior to anyone else.
A man who claimed to have said what you do to the least of these you do unto me. A man who washed his disciples feet and called all men friend.
Christianity on the other hand is based on letters attributed to Paul both disputed and undisputed which lays the ground work for the basic tenants and doctrines of Christianity. Paul although he does speak of Jesus’ teachings is more concerned with preaching about Jesus as a divine fulfillment of the Jewish messianic hope to all mankind than preaching the message of Jesus himself. Christianity has been almost since the beginning a source of in- group / out group identification, telling people they are evil and bad, who are in desperate need of salvation, that they are not worthy of Jesus’ compassion which he gave freely and abundantly without stipulation while alive.
Convincing people Jesus is superior when Jesus was trying to do away with such notions.
Teaching people they must worship someone who lived his life worshipping others and who was admittedly against allowing anyone to worship him in life.
Using Christian ideologies to persecute others and their way of life. When Jesus embraced these same people and accepted them for their differences and shortcoming and never insisted that they change.
Jesus alive or dead, real or fictional, abstract or concrete can be nothing more than a model, an outline, a way of life worthy of pursuit. But, that is all nothing more nothing less an idol to look up to. A goal to strive for.
But, you are not he nor will you ever be and that is ok and I think Jesus would like it better that way. He would celebrate the fact that you are unique and authentic, that you are treating others humanely, and would remind you to always put people above any religious doctrine, traditions, or interpretations.
I find it to be very anti -Jesus to be a Christian.