Christmas Myth: Was Jesus Jewish?
Actually, no fewer than eight Jesuses were Jewish.
[Editor’s note: I don’t celebrate Christmas, in fact, I deeply loathe the entire concept of Christmas, it offends me deeply on many levels. First of all, there is nothing, not one god damn thing remotely Christian about it, rather it is an agglomeration of various earlier Pagan festivals created centuries after the supposed events in Palestine it is intended to commemorate. The entire bible story of a divine birth in a stable in Bethlehem is bullshit, absolute, unadulterated bullshit and quite frankly, why people today still believe such crap is beyond me; in an age where we have figured out the building blocks of life – DNA, have both split and fused atoms, when people are supposedly educated and informed about how the world works such ancient superstitious nonsense is anathema, yet still many continue to both believe it and to celebrate the myth every year on December 25th (January 7th for the Orthodox).
Then there’s the modern tacked on consumerist nonsense, one of the worst excesses of capitalism – the lavish giving of all kinds of presents which has brought a very unnecessary financial pressure that causes undue stress to many and has become nothing more than a way of separating the foolish from their hard-earned cash. I find all the rushing around to buy this or that new trinket absolutely pathetic, but far worse, is the way in which children have been exploited to increase the pressure to spend spend spend on all sorts of ephemera. I think the entire system of children being inculcated with the ritual of asking for, nay demanding the latest expensive consumer goods once a year is a thoroughly bad thing, not least because it imbues the children with all kinds of capitalist bullshit from an early age. They are taught that they need consumer goods to be happy, that spending money is a way of expressing love, really bad lessons for any child to learn.
Finally, there is the gluttony, the stuffing of one’s face with far more food than is rational, often accompanied by very unhealthy levels of alcoholic imbibement. Anyone who has had the misfortune to need hospital care over the ‘festive’ season will have seen the carnage in the A&E departments wrought by this alcoholic overindulgence. All the gluttony is just another manifestation of the consumerist greed that has been drummed into the feeble minded masses by cynical capitalist businessmen who never miss a trick in the exploitation of ‘religious’ festivals to make a buck.
Yes, I hate Christmas, just as I hate religion in all it’s forms, after all I have a brain perfectly adequate for carrying out rational thought and long ago decided that ancient superstition distilled and refined over centuries by corrupt, avaricious and often downright criminal religious leaders into systems for controlling the masses was something I wasn’t going to subscribe to in any way, shape or form.
Therefore I present this excellent essay in the hope that it stirs some rationality in the minds of those who still fall into the Christmas trap every year and causes at least some to realise just what a load of bullshit the entire concept of Jesus and his divine birth really is. Ian]
by Revilo P. Oliver
THE HEBREW NAME which is vocalized as Yēhōshūa (=Joshua) and means “God is riches” (or, in more up-to-date English, “God is money”), was colloquially contracted (as our “William” is contracted to “Bill”), especially in the dialect of Aramaic, to Yēshūa, for which the Latin equivalent is Iēsūs, but in the general ignorance of the Roman decadence, when the Christian cult became popular, this was corrupted to, Jēsŭs, whence the English “Jesus.”
The name was extremely common among Jews. The more civilized ones replaced it with genuinely Greek or Roman names to affect participation in the culture of the time, much as Jews in this country often assume English names. Other individuals bearing that name could be distinguished from one another only by adding the name of the father or the place of origin, if either was known, and, obviously, even with such additions a great deal of confusion was possible and even likely.
There were quite a number of agitators named Jesus whose careers could have contributed elements to the various Christian legends. Among them:
(1) A Jewish rabble-rouser who adopted the Greek name, Chrestus, and whose real name may have been Jesus. He is mentioned by Suetonius, who tells us only that around A.D. 30 he incited Jewish outbreaks in Rome so serious that they had to be put down by troops. He may have escaped from Rome at that time to incite trouble elsewhere, possibly in Palestine. He is mentioned first because he would account for the fact that when the Christians first appear in history, around A.D. 112, they were known as Chrestiani, and it took them a century to get their name changed to the spelling now in use.
(2) Jesus, son of Ananias, who prophesied in A.D. 62 that the temple in Jerusalem would soon be destroyed. According to Josephus, the Sanhedrin tried to persuade the Roman procurator to crucify this Jesus, but the Roman thought him merely insane and so released him. He was eventually killed by the Romans during the siege of Jerusalem.
(3) A Jew from Egypt, name unknown but identified in the Talmud as Jesus of Nazareth, who tried to start an insurrection in Jerusalem by posing as a “prophet of God,” intending to pillage the city with a mob that he assembled on the Mount of Olives. According to Josephus, the Roman procurator naturally sent out the cavalry, killed four hundred of the crazed fanatics and captured two hundred more, dispersing the rest. The agitator naturally took care of his own skin, eluded pursuit, and high-tailed it back to Egypt. He must have been glib, if, as Josephus says, he acquired in Judaea a following of 30,000 before he made his foolish attempt to attack Jerusalem. His career would account for the odd association of the Christian hero with Egypt in many legends.
(4) Jesus, son of Sapphias, who started a revolt in Tiberias, where he burned the palace and massacred the Greek inhabitants. He escaped from the region, according to Josephus, who tells us no more.
(5) Jesus of Galilee, who went to Jerusalem with a private army of 600 men and tried to infiltrate the city, but was betrayed by one of his confederates, Jesus, son of Gamalas. Josephus does not tell us what happened to him, but if the Romans caught him, they probably sliced off his head or nailed him to a cross.
(6) The Jesus, son of Gamalas, just mentioned, who, although a Man of God according to Josephus, was assassinated by the Zealots while the Romans under Titus were besieging Jerusalem.
(7) A thaumaturgist [a “miracle worker”; that is, a magician who claims divine powers — Ed.] named Jesus (paternity unstated), who, according to Josephus, was called a messiah, attracted quite a following, and was crucified. The passage in Josephus’s Antiquitates is generally regarded as a Christian interpolation, on the grounds that a Jew would not speak well of a Christian messiah, but that argument is grossly anachronistic since it supposes a difference between Jews and “Christians” at a date when the “Christians” were just another one of the many sects of Jewish malcontents and fanatics in Palestine. According to Josephus, this man had a brother named Jacob (James), whom the Sanhedrin, putting something over in the interval between the departure of one procurator and the arrival of another, had stoned to death. If this group had a considerable popular following, Josephus may well have wanted to curry favor with that party of Jews. He wrote, for popular consumption by his fellow Jews, a version of his work in Aramaic, now lost but probably the basis of a Slavonic version in which it is said that this Jesus was the legitimate King of the Jews, but did not reign because he was crucified by the prosperous Jews, who feared that his projected revolt would fail and get them in trouble with the Romans. Of course, one cannot be sure of the authenticity of either passage.
(8) Quite a number of Jews who jostled others out of the post of High Priest and were later jostled out themselves were named Jesus. One such, who assumed the Greek name of Jason, was thrown out by his brother, Onias, who called himself Menelaus. Jason-Jesus started riots to regain his holy office and may have been killed or executed. His brother, Menelaus, remained High Priest until his intrigues got him into trouble and he was seized and executed (mode of execution not stated) by Antiochus Epiphanes.