The Beginning and End of Christianity

250px-Pilate_Inscription_JPG_1325999623_842967Two years ago I finished three years of research into the history of Christianity, concentrating on its beginnings.  I cast the results of that research in an historical novel about what might actually, historically have happened during the life of a Jewish prophet, Jesus from Nazareth. There is a surprising amount of research on this topic, given that most people just accept the standard Christian writings, gospels, books and religious documents that support the church and its many manifestations. Some of these documents are obviously rather recent fakes like the Book of Mormons. Some are confused and amateurish attempts to discredit the entire idea that Jesus of Nazareth was an entirely mythical and made-up figure who never existed historically. These later myth conspiracies have been almost totally ignored or debunked by legitimate scholars and I do not intend to provide their adherents with any exposure here.

The question remains though: what happened in the first century Judea to the prophet Jesus from a one-donkey village in Galilee that eventually made such an important impact on western civilization? Was it because of the man himself, or what happened in the decades following his death?

If there was an actual person about whom the Gospels, the gnostic writers, the early Jews and Christians were so obsessed, who was he and what actually happened before what we have now became the “official” story, a story that became increasingly removed from the realities of the time and the accuracy of historical events? How does one find these things out?

The big problem is that there is no actual evidence of Jesus’ life, no accounts by anyone there who witnessed anything. Nothing from friends or enemies. In fact, there is no unbiased reference to Jesus or his followers until almost a hundred years after his death. Why? If he was so important, why didn’t anyone other than those who had a vested interest in various stories about him write anything?

Nothing about his life, journeys, and actions has been preserved or recovered as evidence. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 there was much anticipation over what they would reveal about Jesus, his followers and early Christianity. They contained nothing about any of those topic. No a word.

Confusion and disagreement engenders controversy even after almost two thousand years. There disputes continue about where the “tomb” and Golgotha, the “place of the skulls” are located. From our trip to Israel in 2009 I recall that the Church of the Holy Sepulcure in Jerusalem is located where it is because Constantine’s mother, visiting Jerusalem in the fourth century CE was told by locals this was the spot on which the crucifixion had taken place. An event few remembered or witnessed at the time, and one that happened at least three hundred years before Constantine’s mom arrived. We depend upon stories, legends and hearsay passed down through generations of mostly illiterate people.

Interestingly, we do now have one hard piece of evidence that connects to the New Testament stories. This is the recently discovered “Pilate Stone”. This is an block of limestone, 82 cm by 65 cm, found in 1961 at Caesarea Maritima, the seat of the Roman prefects in Jesus’ time. The stone is inscribed with “To the Divine Augusti Tiberium…Pontius Pilate…prefect of Judea…has dedicated…

Given where it was found, its age and mentions of both Tiberius and Pilate there is little doubt that Pilate was an actual historical character when and where he as been thought to be. But that is it.

My story, The Q Fragments, springs from this lack of physical and authentic documentary evidence of the life and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth. The idea is, what if another piece, or pieces of actual material evidence was discovered, much like the Dead Sea Scrolls or the documents at Nag Hammadi in Egypt were to be discovered. And, what if we  also had some way to know what actually transpired in most of Jesus’ life. Given actual evidence, what would it say?

Using current biblical, historical, anthropological and critical textual studies, I have answered that question with a well-supported theory cast in a novel with characters, dialog, plot, and mystery based on what evidence we have available to us today.

I have begun uploading the novel as a series of podcasts on my site, and soon to be on iTunes for those who enjoy listening as well as reading.

Please take a look: http://theqfragments.com for the podcasts, more information on this fascinating topic and means to contribute to the work or buy the book on Amazon.

 

 

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