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 Mormon. 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 has now become the “official” story?  The currently accepted stories became increasingly removed from the realities of the time and the accuracy of historical events. How does one find out what may have actually happened?

The big problem is that there is no actual evidence of Jesus’ life, no accounts, biased or otherwise, by anyone at the time who witnessed anything at all. Nothing from friends or enemies. In fact, there is no non-Christian or non-Jewish reference to Jesus or his followers until almost a hundred years after his death in spite of the thousands of documents, inscriptions and decrees we have available to us today. Why? If he was so important, why didn’t anyone other than those who had a vested interest in certain 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. Not a word.

Confusion and disagreement engenders controversy even after almost two thousand years. Disputes continue today 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 no one then remembered or witnessed, something  that happened at least three hundred years before Constantine’s mother appeared. As did she, we too often 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 were 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 during most of Jesus’ life. Given actual evidence, what would that evidence 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 the evidence we do have available.

I uploaded the novel as a series of podcasts on my site, and 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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4 thoughts on “The Beginning and End of Christianity

  1. Basically, Mr. Scott. here is the core problem with your premise. It all comes down to one single word, friend: Resurrection. Either it happened, or, it did not. If it did not, then either atheism or some other “ism” is true and that is the end of it, or, if it did indeed happen, which is ofcourse the truth of the matter, then EVERYTHING and I mean *everything* is subject to it. Since Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and the heads of religions world wide did not, such as Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Confuscious, and oodles of others, such as Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy and Charles Taze Russell, (all cult leaders), then that makes every single statement Jesus Christ made true. Infact, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of the LORD Jesus Christ, is so vital to Biblical Christianity being true, that the apostle Paul himself (his conversion is another proof that Biblical Christianity is true!) made it the “linch pin” of Biblical Christianity. Read this here:

    1Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

    1Corinthians 15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

    1Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

    1Corinthians 15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

    1Corinthians 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

    1Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

    1Corinthians 15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

    1Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

    1Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

    1Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

    1Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

    1Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

    1Corinthians 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

    1Corinthians 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

    1Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

    A man once claimed that even if Christianity is not true, then he would rather be a Christian and live as if it were true, than an atheist, because it would do him well. That may be so for him but the fact stands: Either the Gospels are true and Jesus did rise from the dead, or, they are false and He did not. There is no “in between” option, Mr. Scott.

    And this also has a personal accountibility for each of us, including you:

    If the Gospel accounts are historically true then Jesus Christ is God incarnated in the flesh and the only Saviour as He Himself said: John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    , then this means you are personally accountible to Him. I can show you verses in the Bible that clearly say we will all be before Jesus Christ, and, have to answer to Him. Both the Christian and nonchristian. I want that thought to sink into your mind and heart, Mr. Scott.

    Men and women of incredible intellectual prowess started out as hard core skeptics who mocked the Gospels and yet when they undertook a deep study of the facts and historical data, they came out ardent believers. Now, arguments from authority are not fully all one needs, but they are powerful indeed if they are backed by data.

    My core question, though, to you, is this: What is your motive for this page, which appears to be undermining faith in Christ? Is it that you are sincere and honest in seeking the truth or do you have a “score to settle” against Jesus Christ?

    1. So, to your points. 1. Resurrection, 2. Gospel accounts being historically true, and 3. What was my motive for writing the book.
      Starting with 2, since it directly relates to 1. It is obvious to all unbiased, historical critical New Testament scholars that the Gospels are not historically accurate. They all differ, some in unreconcilable points: Joseph and Mary went to Egypt for a few years until recalled to Judea, or Joseph and Mary and Jesus returned to Nazareth in about two weeks after his birth.
      Also, archeological evidence shows the Bethlehem did not exist as an habited settlement during Jesus’ lifetime and only a few hundred years later was it resettled. There are other reason such as we don’t have any contemporaneous documentation of Jesus life, sayings, or death. Everything was written years later from oral tradition and stories that changed from telling to telling and depending on the teller’s beliefs. The earliest Gospel, Mark was written no earlier than 30 to 40 years after Jesus’ death, and John around 80 to 100 years later. None of the authors, who all write in Greek strangely, had no personal knowledge of Jesus and were scattered all over the near East.
      And it follows that we have no exact words of Jesus. Look at any of the Gospels besides John, and his sayings are short and pithy. He never calls him self the son of God. He may refer to himself as the Son of Man, but this is unlikely since that referred to many others in Jewish history and religious understanding. It probably meant something like “an ordinary person like you or me”. John puts pages of speeches into Jesus’ mouth, having him say things he didn’t say in the other Gospels, and one wonders how John, who likely wasn’t even alive at the time got all of the speeches verbatim. Not possible.
      So, to #1. There are no accounts of the resurrection from other than committed followers who were certain that he could not be dead, that he was really still alive somewhere. Unfortunately, his alleged promise to return before all of his followers died, didn’t happen. Christian doctrines especially Paul’s changed this promise to someday. That was two thousand years ago. I know that your belief in Jesus’ identity as divine will discard this argument, but there has never been a case of a human being actually dead for three days and coming back to life. You may believe it to be so, and counter that Jesus was special, not wholly human and therefore exempt, but that only relies on your belief, not fact or evidence. Even Mark, the original Mark, is silent on this point, and this is the earliest Gospel we have now. Mark ends with the women going away frightened and not telling anyone.

      My motive. It was to illustrate what the historical information we now have can tell us and that Jesus was one of many apocalyptic prophets operating in Judea at the time, very much in the vein of John, who may have been a kinsman. He cared for and worked with the outcasts, poor, destitute, sick and created eventually a large following especially after Paul seriously changed Jesus’ message and teachings. I wanted to pose an alternative for people to consider instead of plodding along with the same old, contradictory stories found in the canonical gospels.

      Also, I wanted to illustrate that new evidence always is coming to light, the Dead Sea Scrolls for example which fortunately for Christianity had nothing to say at all about Jesus or any of his people. Telling, because if Jesus was really a big deal, and his death and resurrection were too, you’d expect may a mention. I think it is possible, but not very likely, that real evidence may be found that does tell us much about Jesus and his life. I suspect it would be seriously disturbing to Christians if it were from an unbiased non-Christian source. Time will tell.

      1. I will respond to your response from a different point, since you don’t seem to want to accept the historical facts of the matter, that is your choice. The Christian story goes so contrary and so counter to the very makeup of the human race that that fact alone, even without all of the other evidences upon evidences, prove it is 100 percent true. I will provide examples.

        All religions, beliefs, philosophies, you name it, from Atheism and Hinduism, from Islam and Confuscianism, to Zoroastrianism, and everything in between, including the New Age movement and the assorted pseudochristian cults like Mormonism are all based on human works and human efforts and are not based on the grace of God alone. Biblical Christianity is based on eternal salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. If Christianity were the fabrication of men alone like you seem to think it is, it would not be this way. It would be based on works like all the rest. On human efforts.

        You see, Mr. Scott, the Bible, God’s perfect word, is not a Book that men would write. Men always speak well of themselves, in some form. They assume they are basically good. The Bible says all of our own righteousnesses are as filthy rags. The Koran and the Vedas and all of those false books teach that man is a good person at heart but the Bible reveals that man is a wicked, evil, vile creature because of sin, and that man needs redemption outside of himself. Men do not write that.

        Even the flaggelating self harming people like Hindus and Shia Muslims still teach that man is basically good.

        The Bible portrays women in a very great light compared to other beliefs. If the Gospels were fabricated like you think, they would not have the women to be the first ones to see Jesus, and they would not expose the sins of their greatest heroes. That again goes contrary to the grain of humankind and the way men think and write. If they were fabricated, you would see Peter being a hero who never denies Christ and never curses and flees in fear. But that is what happened. And it records that. When the pagans like the Egyptians wrote of their leaders they always puffed them up and amplified them as great men. The Bible records the worst sins of its heroes like when King David made adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband Uriah murdered, and when Sampson fell for the harlot Delilah and all of the rest of these things. Noah gets drunk and Lot gets drunk and has sex with his daughters because he was a carnal but saved man. You don’t see that sort of thing in the false religions.

        Then you have another problem, Mr. Scott. I know, I know. I have heard it all. Atheists love to say how the Bible writers were ignorant, Pre-scientific men who were essentially ignorant shepherds sitting around campfires bored out of their minds. But how could such men have had such a KEEN insight into human nature, Mr. Scott? How could men like Peter who was a Jewish commercial fisherman and a man like Paul and others have such keen and accurate insights into what the world would look like today, and what people’s attitudes would be like today? Take a look for yourself:

        2Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

        2Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

        2Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

        2Peter 3:6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

        2Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

        2Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

        2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

        2Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

        Look at the above verses:

        1 Peter predicted there would be men like yourself. Scoffers who say things continue as they were from the beginning, aka, Darwinian evolution, and that Jesus Christ was just a man and not the God-man and He will never return.

        2 In the 1800s the atheist skeptics would laugh and mock the idea laid out in this epistle about the very rocks and substance of the universe being burned up. They said “How could you burn rocks?” And then in the 20th century man discovers Atomic Power. Nuclear fission and fusion. The Bible was ahead of science by 2000 years Mr. Scott.

        1Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

        1Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

        1Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

        How could the apostle Paul have been so accurate with his above prediction of the way people are in these Last Days of the End Times that we are in if not for God being behind him?

        He was writing in the peak of paganism and predicting that the Western world would embrace Christianity and them masses of people would depart from the faith of true Biblical Christianity, exactly as we see happening. It is back to the Bible or back to the jungle.

        I am shocked and surprised that a man who is as intelligent and educated as yourself does not support Biblical Christianity. Look at the mass infanticide and murder and human sacrifice that pagans did until the missionaries got to them and convinced them to stop that sickening horror. Look at the modern American and European world where people cover themselves in tattoos and pierce their flesh like pagan savages and barbarians. The good things we have come from the Jewish Christian worldview, Even atheists have admitted that it was and is the Christians who did the majority of the work in building free market enterprise and orphanages and hospitals and charities and all of these things. A world without Christianity is a cold hard world without love and compassion.

        Is that what you want?

        Read this:

        2Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

        2Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

        2Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

        2Timothy 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

        2Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

        2Timothy 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

        2Timothy 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

        That PERFECTLY characterizes the modern people who reject the word of God and rebel. How could such “ignorant unscientific minds” have predicted that to the exact modern day and hour like he did, if God was not with him?

        Look what happened in the schools. When you were a child in school, Mr. Scott, the worst problems were students running in the halls, chewing gum in class, and that sort of thing. Now the schools have to hire hundreds if not thousands of security guards with metal detectors in them and there are school shootings and stabbings and all sorts of horrors.

        Notice what happened: Atheists and others pressured the schools to kick the Bible and prayer out of the schools as an authoritative thing and the crime level shot up. How do you explain that from an atheist worldview? You cannot.

        If people have a fear of God ingrained in them from child hood and if they are given good solid Biblical Christianity, and they believe it and live it out, they will not do such things. I have the answer if you will bring up abuses that were done in history: Those people were not following the clear teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles and they were not living it out like He told them to do. Religious wars were unsaved pagans with a christian mask is what they were. The real Biblical doctrinally sound Christians like the Biblical Baptists never did those things.

        I do thank you if you read this far. I am curious as to what your response is?

      2. I appreciate your tenacity. However since your primary and fundamental argument is to deny evidence and fact in favor of belief, which can be defined as acceptance without evidence: “…since you don’t seem to want to accept the historical facts of the matter, that is your choice.”, your words, we have really nothing further to say.

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