With the release of The DaVinci Code, along with its hype, debate from both sides, and a massive media campaign, this may be the time to more closely examine evidence of the allegations made not only in The DaVinci Code, but also in other lesser-known scholarly works that do give historical evidence for hidden codes, a conspiracy, murder, mayhem, and –- Heaven forbid — the idea that Jesus was married and produced children.
For the opening of the door to the widespread knowledge of these revelations, we should thank Dan Brown. His novel hinted at the controversy, but he wisely obscured the details by addressing the issues as a modern-day detective story, leaving the truly devastating and incriminating information for others to reveal. Now, the information is about to cascade over Christendom like the flood waters of the Deluge. While it is not possible to cite all the research here, some links and books have been provided where the readers can begin their own investigation.
From Professor Robert Eisenman’s fabulous works including James the Brother of Jesus, to Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah, from the insights gained from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Elaine Pagel’s The Gnostic Gospels, continuing on to textual criticism (John Dominic Crossan’s Who Killed Jesus) and military analysis of ancient manuscripts (Josephus), we dare not ignore the impact of this long-suppressed information. While many of the leaders of the “faithful” will understandably attack these works, we must require that they not respond to our questions by demanding that we submit to mere blind obedience so that they can save our souls. The evidence is now surfacing that they may actually be the ones who have been keeping our souls in prison all along by silencing honest inquiry and denouncing such inquiry as if it is something for which we should be ashamed.
The study of history should provide us with lessons that teach us how to avoid the same mistakes. But, often, history is biased and the truth hidden either just below the surface or in other places altogether. In the subject at hand, it is helpful to look at the circumstances history tells us of the period, and not just the official versions, but also the new evidence slowly emerging. Again, the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Codices, and other works by recent scholarship point in a direction that is substantial, if not conclusive. In this effort, the researchers must try to ignore the trend of the last to two millennia of basing history, and its interpretation, on religious belief and faith without losing sight of how that faith influenced history subsequent to the events we are examining.
In this study, we find ourselves asking the first question. How does an empire take over a fiercely independent and religiously devout people? The answer is manipulation over time of their most basic beliefs, and the control of their government and destiny. In other words, by redefining what and who they are, and where they are going, using force if necessary, a people will ultimately surrender.
Circa First Century CE (Common Era, otherwise known as A.D.) just such an operation was underway in Palestine to subjugate the Jews and their control over the valuable trade routes to Asia and Egypt. The Roman Empire occupied Palestine, especially Judea and Galilee, extending its power for what it deemed the defense and national security of the Roman people. Of course, it also involved the plunder of the occupied lands to stoke Caesar's treasury.
The Jews fought back. "This is proof that the Uprising against Rome, aside from being popular-which it was most definitely-was also Messianic," wrote Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus, p.45.
As this “war of liberation” raged, many men emerged who became leaders of the revolt. Most were captured and killed by the Romans, and the man we associate with Jesus was no exception. The Romans were the victors in this struggle, and contrary to the extant versions of the story they allowed to survive, the historical Jesus was a political and military activist, and the Romans killed him for it.
"The point is, from Pilate's point of view, the three of them, Jesus included, are all guilty of the same thing-sedition against Rome," wrote James Tabor, The Jesus Dynasty, p.218.
He was not crucified because he taught the Sermon on the Mount or because the Jews disliked him. He was killed for his refusal to accept Roman rule and for his claim to the Throne of Israel. The later invention subscribed to him but likely never uttered by his lips to “give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s,” was an ingenious conundrum the origins of which are now highly suspect given the circumstances of the people and the times as scholars understand them today.
"It leaves unresolved the question of what can possibly belong to Caesar without belonging to God first-and last," wrote Jaroslav Pelikan, Whose Bible Is it, p.175.
So, he was a king. A king does many things, not the least of which is to protect his people and their liberty by the use of military means, if necessary. He also fathers a dynasty (children, mind you, and that is usually accomplished with women), encourages economic growth, seeks alliances by using ambassadors, entertains heads of state, maintains a system of secure communications, spiritually leads his people, and creates a legacy. How he did that, and what his successes and failures were, have been ignored and overwritten for centuries in favor of a caricature that originally Rome had deliberately and systematically designed to defeat the Jewish resistance and discourage borderline Messianists (see the works of Robert Eisenman, but an example after the First Century was the Bar Kochba Revolt of 135 CE). As a side benefit, this action also solidified the allegiance to Rome of the pagans and the superstitious who made up most of what was then the Roman Empire. To this day, this hybrid is what the world now knows as Christianity.
The Romans were the victors, and we see that period of history primarily through their eyes. To get to the truth, we have to look past Roman influences, even past Rabbinic Judaism, and seek the evidence left behind. Enter the likes of Eisenman, Atwill, Knight and Lomas, Tabor, and others. These men have dedicated their valuable time, talents, and thirst for the truth to unravel the tangled web of centuries of illusion and obscurity. The trail may have been cold, but it was not invisible, nor was it all that difficult to recognize in the light of day. All they had to do was be willing to look with reasonable objectivity and not deny the obvious.
To put it succinctly, Rome sought to defeat its enemy, the Jewish resistance, and then dismantle the Jewish religion and identity completely and forever, particularly the idea of the Messiah and the entire Messianic Movement. Today, we almost totally misunderstand what the actual Messianic Movement was and how it came into existence. This current misunderstanding was Rome’s doing, and it was deliberate.
The Messiah predicted by the prophets of the Old Testament and expected by the Jews was a man who would free them from foreign rule and the suffering inherent with it. This was a belief totally at odds with Roman designs and the Pax Romana. As in other instances of their worldly conquest and to overcome resistance to Caesar, Rome founded a new religion palatable to the empire. Part of this replacement religion was the creation of a “pacifist messiah” who was merely a philosopher of good human behavior and a "savior" instead of a political and military leader. Such an idol could subdue the fever of the resistance and convince the opposition that “true spirituality” and “eternal life” are synonymous with “getting along with city hall.”
And, in case anyone got any ideas that were to the contrary, the key to such a successful campaign was the destruction of all those who claimed the royal bloodline, and then deny they ever existed. "The Roman emperors Vespasian and Domitian would search out and execute members of the 'royal house of David' family in the late decades of the 1st Century," wrote James Tabor, The Jesus Dynasty, p. 40.
In the event that a hope somehow survived that a royal bloodline did exist, the next step was to teach that the leader was a celibate and produced no posterity who could claim the right to rule or incite the populous to insurrection. If you think it could not have happened that way, just remember that the winners write the history, then as well as now, and the Romans were the winners.
Remember that Deluge I was talking about?
The evidence in the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that celibacy was highly regarded by these seeming ascetics. But, they were protecting vital military information critical to the revolt against Rome. Could they also have employed disinformation? Yes, that is very likely. Those members not privy to the actions of the “inner circle” of leaders would probably not know the truth, explaining the group’s reticence to conjugal relations when they discussed their ideas with outsiders. But, even if the leaders actively promulgated this lifestyle for most of the members of the order and wrote such restrictions and admonitions into their literature, it is most likely that the royal line was exempt because it must propagate itself in order to succeed in future generations.
It gets more insidious. The evidence is now pointing out that even the much revered Gospels may have been among the primary tools of the countermeasures employed by the Romans to ensure the complete destruction of the Jewish messianic mindset. "…it was perhaps the most successful literary rewrite enterprise ever undertaken, and accomplished. By means of it, not only did Rome defeat its enemies militarily, which was the successful first step, but also then literally," wrote Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus, p. 903.
Speaking of Josephus, Titus' mistress Bernice, and Tiberius Alexander, Joseph Atwill in his Caesar's Messiah, page 215, states, "These individuals had both the technical knowledge of Judaism and the ethical perspective required to create Christianity."
And from Atwill again, on page 217, "It is the families of these individuals who authored the Gospels-the Flavians, Herods, and Alexanders."
In modern war, this is called disinformation and psychological warfare. The fascinating thing about all this is that we can now recognize these subversive tactics as part of the experience of the First Century. The Messianic Movement was infiltrated by Roman operatives and then exposed to the swords of the Roman Army. Traditional Christianity is the offspring of the Roman war against Israel and Judaism. Constantine proclaimed that victory during the Council of Nicea.
With the information in this brief synopsis, and the seriousness of the issues, it seems only proper that we examine it in as much detail as possible with a series of upcoming articles. If these issues intrigue you, read on. If not, ignore them before they do you an injury as it is not a subject for the faint of heart. Suffice it to say that the Inquisition is not dead; it has only changed its tactics and its name, and added a number of adherents.