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December 1, 2011 / adgerellis


This is the last part of the book review for,… JESUS THE MAGICIAN, book by Morton Smith, Ph.D., The Hebrew University; Th.D., Harvard; Professor of History, Columbia University. Published by Harper & Row in the year 1978.

To continue a short quote from Professor Smith’s book…

“As to his life, the stories of rejection in his home town and by his brothers are forgotten -nobody in the great world cared what  those Galilean peasants had thought about him. But the great world was a world of snobs, so the tradition of his humble background and, above all, his illegitimate birth (god-rape, ed.) his stay in Egypt, and the theft of his body from the tomb were known to Matthew, who tried to discredit the first two by indirect contradictions, and attacked the third directly. Consequently, the silence of the gospels does not always discredit material that first appears explicitly in the outsiders’ tradition. Some details that the authors of the gospels would certainly have suppressed -for instance, the name of Jesus’ father, Panthera  -are traceable back to the time of the gospels themselves and have an equal claim to reliability.”  And now what?  What does that mean?  Who was Panthera? Panthera, father of Jesus? What happen to Joseph? A confabulation and an ancient slander, or a secret truth?

              “Along with stories of his relations to his townspeople and family, the stories of his arguments with representatives of the various Jewish sects have generally disappeared. For the Christians it was important to have “Jesus’ ” teaching on these disputed matters, so their own arguments were put into his mouth. For the outsiders no such interest existed, Not were they interested in his legal teaching. Josephus may have been an exception in this matter, textual corruption makes his attitude uncertain. Rabbinic literature reported a saying  Rabbi Eliezer may have heard from a (second generation?) Christian (?), and another third-century story about a second-century Christian who cited one legal saying of Jesus from Matthew and invented another ad hoc. These traces show that the thought of Jesus as a legal authority was not wholly unknown to rabbinic circles, but was of little importance to them. The Roman authorities knew nothing of it. The tradition of the Jewish diaspora as it appears in Justin and Celsus, knew Jesus as a teacher, not of the Law, but of magical and libertine practices. Only in the latter half of the second century do pagans who think of Christianity as a mystery cult begin to speak of Jesus as its “lawgiver.”

                Finally, Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah became a comparatively minor matter. Josephus knew of it, but the rabbis do not mention it until the end of the third century, by which time Christianity had made it famous. It was remembered in diaspora Judaism, but does not play the leading role in preserved answers to Jewish polemic. Justin appeals to Trypho not to be “persuaded by Pharisaic teachers” to “ridicule the King of Israel.” Presumably Jesus’ messianic claim appeared in Jewish accusations to the Romans, but there is no sign that the Romans ever took it seriously. They had no reason to do so. As a practical matter the claim had died with Jesus. Celsus knew that Christians and Jews were still arguing over the question and he drew much of his polemic material from a work produced for the Jewish side of the argument, but he contemptuously dismissed the claims of both sides as absurd. Evidently Jesus’ Messiahship was not a matter of importance for pagans he hoped to deter from conversion to Christianity.”

               Orthodox Christianity, if we follow the theology correctly, does not say that Jesus died because of the Jews or Romans, but died “for the sins of the world.” Jesus was a scapegoat, a sacrificial lamb, who had to die so that humanity could be free of the Mosaic Law. At least, that is the orthodox Christian theology. The “X’ people, or the “Y” people did not have Jesus killed, we all did, as the story would have it.   “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That is in the Old Book, and I  have had a “Good Christian” who I would like to name by name, but I will not to save his soul. That if I was not a Christian I could not quote the Bible. And, here is a trick. If Jesus came back again today as a “God-Man,” in all probably he would be killed again.  Just my idle thought, but  the “God-Man” would probably be killed by the “Good Christians.”  So, there, blab, blab.

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