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The Crack of Dawn
The Crack of Dawn
I worked for quite a while on the preface for The Gospel According to Judas. I somehow felt that I had to rationalize the “historicity” of the New Testament Bible, and I don’t. The fact is that both the Old Testament and the New Testament don’t meet any of the standards of historicity isn’t my problem. The definition of “Historicity” is, “the historical actuality of persons and events, meaning the quality of being part of history instead of being a historical myth, legend, or fiction. The historicity of a claim about the past is its factual status.”
There is almost a desperation among some Christians and Jews that the Bibles, both old and new, be accepted as not only true, but as the actual word of God. Of the many questions one might have, here’s a good one — was the word of God given in Hebrew? That would have been fine for the Old Testament since that’s the language of the ancient Jews, so the scholarly few among them could actually write it and read it. However, by the time of Jesus, nobody in Judea spoke or read Hebrew; they all spoke Aramaic, a derivation of Syrian. Therefore, God’s two choices for the New Testament were Hebrew or Aramaic. In either case, there is not an existing scintilla, a particle, a molecule, of any biblical documents existing in any way in either of those two languages. Therefore, there is no credible evidence for the historicity of the Bible. Nothing exists contemporaneously.
The earliest Bible remains are all in Greek. As the Middle East grew increasingly more Hellenized, Greek became the language, but it wasn’t yet at the time of Jesus.
The earliest fragments of the New Testament Bible are in Greek. Ergo, they’ve been translated. Ergo, they are not the direct words of God. Truly, God went to the trouble of giving his actual words to humanity, then did it in a language they didn’t yet speak? The standard answer for this is, “God works in mysterious ways.”
Anyway, once I felt that I had a good preface for the book, I cut it out. The historicity of the Bible isn’t my problem. Here is the excised preface. Read it if you dare.
Jesus Christ and I have (or had) a lot in common: we’re both Jewish; his name was actually Joshua, or Yeshua, as is mine (“Jesus” is the Latin translation of Yeshua; “Christ” is from the Greek word krystalos, crystal, the shining one); we both have/had relatives in Israel; although we don’t know if Jesus had a Bar Mitzvah or not, if he was any kind of a Jew at all he did, and so did I; and once again, we don’t know for a fact, but he was probably circumcised, as were all Jewish males, as am I. That’s about it, I think. I’ve already outlived him by over thirty years, so I’ve got that going for me; but a billion and a half Christians believe Jesus was God, or at least the Son of God, so he’s certainly got the edge on me there.
By the time Jesus was born in Judea under Roman rule, about 4 BC, the tale of a Messiah arriving by way of a virgin birth was seriously old news. This tired old plot device had previously been used by at least the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Zoroastrians, and even the conquering Romans themselves with their Romulus and Remus myth. Therefore, the first miracle attributed to Jesus – being born of a virgin – was not so much a miracle as it was the way all Messiah stories started back then, “Once upon a time a virgin had a baby, and it was a
miracle . . .”
Could there possibly be another explanation for a young woman of reputed virginity to become pregnant, short of a miracle? I can think of at least one. Therefore, on the scale of miracles – like drowning the whole world or parting the Red Sea – virgin birth is neither original, nor particularly convincing.
Bible stories, both the Old and New Testaments, are based on extremely old documents made of parchment or vellum (animal skin), and broken shards of pottery, none of which are historically contemporaneous with any of the events written in the Bible. None of them; not one. Nothing was written about Jesus Christ or any of the apostles during their lifetimes, or as far as we know, within minimally one hundred and fifty years of their lives. I don’t know about you, but that seems odd to me. Almost fishy.
The earliest manuscript of a New Testament Bible text is a two-inch by three-inch fragment from the Gospel of John containing seven words that is thought to be from anywhere between 125-175 AD and is called Rylands Library Papyrus P52.
Gentle Reader, please look closely at the photograph of Rylands Library Papyrus P52. That tiny little scrap of shit, found about 150 years after the supposed events of Jesus’s life occurred, is the basis of all Christianity. That’s it. Look at it. A shred of brown stuff the size of a business card with seven words on it written 150 years after the alleged events. Something that could get stuck on your heal without you noticing.
Now, I’m no lawyer or scientist or archeologist or anything like that, but personally I’m a tad skeptical. And you might say, “Hey! All that happened a long time ago,” and you’d be right, it was a long time ago. However, by then the Jews had already written the lengthy Old Testament Bible, which we Jews call the Tenakh. The Old Testament, as it appears in my handy-dandy, leather-bound, 1611 King James Version of the Holy Bible, clocks in at 1,135 pages. Ergo, writing things down wasn’t new or novel or special (the entire New Testament, by the way, is actually a novella at a mere 300 pages).
By the time of Christ there already were huge libraries in Rome and Alexandria and Athens, to name a few, containing thousands upon thousands of scrolls. By the year zero – there isn’t one – or Jesus’s lifetime, zero to thirty-three, Anno Domini, if something was really and truly awesome, somebody would probably write it down, or better yet, chisel it into a stone. That’s exactly what they did for thousands of years before Jesus in nearby Egypt and Mesopotamia: chisel their history into stones. Because of this we know more about the Babylonian King Hammurabi from 1750 BC, or the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II from 1250 BC, than we do about Jesus, his family, or anyone who supposedly knew him or met him, well over a thousand years after Hammurabi or Rameses. Why? Because they chiseled their stories into rocks and stones, that’s why.
Was there a shortage of rocks and stones in Judea at that time of Christ? Or did the Iron Age technology of the chisel somehow leapfrog from Egypt to Mesopotamia, skipping over Judea?
Also, in lieu of parchment or vellum, or chiseling into stone, many cultures in and around Judea used clay tablets. Thousands of clay tablets have been found all over the Middle East, but none with even seven words of the Old or the New Testament Bibles. How come? Did the Judeans lose the recipe for clay? I believe the ingredients are: clay.
If Jesus Christ was so exceptionally important – the actual Son of God – why didn’t anybody chisel his name into a stone, or write about him on a clay tablet? Archeologists have discovered 3,000-year-old shopping lists on clay tablets, but not a single tablet about the guy who 1.5 billion people still believe was the actual Son of God?
No. Not one clay tablet. Not one chiseled stone. Just Rylands Library Papyrus P52, then all of the newer and newer parchments and vellums that were discovered thereafter over the next thousand years until there was enough material to assemble a novella-sized book and build a religion around it.
Bring any of this up to a semi-literate Christian and I’ve heard this rationale any number of times: they didn’t chisel stones or write on clay tablets about regular people, only royalty, kings and queens. Jesus was a regular man. But, on the other hand, I thought he was the actual Son of God, or at least the King of the Jews – that’s not good enough for one clay tablet?
Luckily for me, I’m Jewish, so it’s not my problem. Jews don’t believe in the New Testament. The New Testament to a Jew is like just like the Book of Mormon to most Christians. The idea of latter-day saints apparently strains most people’s credulity. Oh, sure, there were saints and prophets running around 3,000 years ago, or even 2,000 years ago, but 200 years ago? In Upstate New York? Not in Judea? That’s ridiculous. Supernatural miracles only occur in the desert, everybody knows that.
So, once the preface was finished, I threw it out. But now I got to recycle it.
Guten morgen. Among his many newspapers, William Randolph Hearst owned the New York publication, Das Morgen Journal.