"Sed fortuna, quae plurimum potest cum in reliquis rebus tum praecipue in bello, parvis momentis magnas rerum commutationes efficit; ut tum accidit."

C. Iulius Caesar - Commentarii de Bello Civili Bk III.68

Monday, May 22, 2006

And yet another theory on Jesus

Jesus, son of Roman soldier?

After The Da Vinci Code, which upset many Christians with its premise that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child, would anyone dare make even more shocking claims? This author does and he’s no fiction writer but a respected historian

The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity
By James D. Tabor
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 384 pages
(ISBN: 0-743-28723-1)

Review by Dr NG KAM WENG
AT first glance, The Jesus Dynasty seems like another dubious book cashing in on the notoriety of Dan Brown’s best-seller The Da Vinci Code. However, a quick perusal of the book will dispel this notion, given the academic credentials of the author, James Tabor. Tabor comes across as an archaeologist who has patiently collected and coordinated solid evidence to support his bold thesis. The Jesus Dynasty bears the marks of a well-researched academic book.

At the outset, the book argues for an alternative history of the origins of the Christian faith in Jesus the Messiah. Some of its provocative theses include the following:

1) There was no Virgin Birth. Mary, the mother of Jesus was either seduced or raped by a Roman soldier named Pantera (whose grave Tabor allegedly found in Germany). This claim, if true, would shatter Christian faith considerably.

2) Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist, from whom he got his understanding of the Messianic vocation. John and Jesus took on the role of Jewish Messiahs and preached the coming of the Kingdom of God amidst political turmoil. Jesus included his four blood brothers in the Council of the Twelve, which he formed in anticipation of his success in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.

3) Christianity traditionally identifies the “beloved” disciple as John. Not so, says Tabor. It was actually James, Jesus’ brother. After Jesus was crucified by the Romans, his brother James – the “Beloved Disciple” – took over the leadership of the Jesus Dynasty and ruled for 30 years, although to say “ruled” might be an exaggeration since he had no more than a motley band of impoverished, persecuted Christians in his charge.

In short, Tabor claims that, “Jesus by age thirty functions as head of the household and forges a vital role for his brothers, who succeed him in establishing a Messianic Dynasty destined to change the world” (page 81). In this regard, both Tabor and Brown promote the conspiracy theory that the Church continues to suppress the truth of history out of vested interests.