The Anointed Boys Club

 

 Written by R.e. Glenn, The Philosopher Monk

A friend and I ended up finding ourselves in a heated discussion regarding, among other diverse topics, Jesus and the concept of the messiah in history. When I had mentioned that Jesus wasn't the only one claiming, whether he said it himself or others said it about him, to be the promised/prophesied messiah. The one with the capital “M”. He seemed amazed when I had mentioned that there were several others around the time (1st century CE) who were performing miracles, leading and teaching followers, having the mantle of 'messiah' attatched to them, and who, in many such cases, ended their lives under the execution of crucifixion.

 

His response felt like an indignant attack on what he seemed to see as a completely ridiculous, idiotic, how-could-you-be-even-remotely-serious thought and how dare I even bring up such an unfounded conspiracy theory. He said, “NAMES! Tell me their names! If they existed, tell me their names!”

At the time, I didn't have the time to go through my library to provide him some names, but that's what I'll attempt to do here. Keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive, or even remotely complete listing, just a few examples of Jesus-like persons around the time that Jesus and the Jewish state were in apocalyptic “end times” tumult.

It is a miracle that we know anything at all about the man called Jesus of Nazareth. The itinerant preacher wandering from village to village clamoring about the end of the world, a band of ragged followers trailing behind, was a common sight in Jesus's time–so common, in fact, that it had become a kind of charicature among the Roman elite. In a farcical passage about just such a figure, the Greek philosopher Celsus imagines a Jewish holy man roaming the Galilean countryside, shouting to no one in particular: “I am God, or the servant of God, or a divine spirit. But I am coming, for the world is already in the throes of destruction. And you will soon see me coming with the power of heaven.”

The first century was an era of apocalyptic expectation among the Jews of Palestine, the Roman designation for the vast tract of land encompassing modern-day Israel/Palestine as well as large parts of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Countless prophets, preachers and messiahs trampted through the Holy Land delivering messages of God's imminent judgment. Many of these so-called false messiahs we know by name. A few are even mentioned in the New Testament. The prophet Theudas, according to the book of Acts, had four hundred disciples before Rome captured him and cut off his head. A mysterious charismatic figure known only as “the Egyptian” raised an army of followers in the desert, nearly all of whom were massacred by Roman troops. In 4 B.C.E., the year in which most scholars believe Jesus of Nazareth was born, a poor shepherd named Athronges put a diadem on his head and crowned himself “King of the Jews”; he and his followers were brutally cut down by a legion of soldiers. Another messianic aspirant, called simply “the Samaritan,” was crucified by Pontius Pilate even though he raised no army and in no way challenged Rome–an indication that the authorities, sensing the apocalyptic fever in the air, had become extremely sensitive to any hint of sedition. There was Hezekiah the bandit chief, Simon of Peraea, Judas the Galilean, his grandson Menahem, Simon son of Giora, and Simon son of Kochba–all of whom declared messianic ambitions and all of whom were executed by Rome for doing so.

Excerpted from: “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan [Text above can be found in the Introduction.]

 

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The Genealogy of Jesus–A Horizontal Reading

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The genealogy of Jesus is listed twice in the New Testament, once in Matthew and again in Luke.  It’s important to list because the descent along the bloodline from King David was a vital qualification for the messiah, just like it was important that the messiah be born, or come from, Bethlehem.  The list in Matthew goes back all the way to Abraham (as founder of Israel).  However, the one in Luke lists the descent all the way back to the first man, Adam.  It’s revealing as to the intent of the authors for how they presented their lists: Matthew was reinforcing and focusing on the aspect of Jesus’ descent from King David, while Luke was presenting and attempting to justify Jesus as a “New Adam”. Continue reading

A Response to the Questions about my “Fragile Faith” Twitter Post

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A few people have contacted me to question why I wrote a Tweet a day or so ago, chastising those who might be antagonistic towards me for bringing a bit of information to their attention that they subsequently claim is just intended to “cut down their faith”.

If your faith is such that it cannot withstand exposure to truth and fact, then it wasn’t that strong to begin with. Do not get mad at me because you think I ruined something that really didn’t ever exist.

It came about for this reason:  the geneaology of Jesus as presented in the Gospels.

Continue reading