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The majority of men... are not capable of thinking, but only of believing,
and... are not accessible to reason, but only to authority.
- Schopenhauer

Legendary Aspects of Yeshua
Updated: 03/28/2020

The first thing that needs to be said is that about a dozen historical references to Yeshua exist outside of Christian literature, with five of these considered as major. There is no valid basis for thinking that Yeshua was fabricated and not historical.

The second thing that needs to be said is that the legendary aspects of Yeshua have nothing to do with his message nor the real issues, and thus are not necessary nor germane, and serve only to distract and discredit.

Forty days of fasting

Probably the most blatant example of what strikes as being legendary is the forty days of fasting in the wilderness. It is the position of this website that the accounts of the "temptations" in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke–they are not in the Gospel of John–are apocryphal and may be based on exaggerated fabrications surrounding a retreat to be alone in the wilderness by Yeshua.. The disciples aren't portrayed as being present at the confrontation, and at best, Yeshua may have come back from an extended wilderness sojourn and confided in the disciples that he was sorely tested in his mind.

The number 40 was symbolic in Hebrew mythology, and other examples are found in the flood account where it "rained forty days and nights", and in the sojourn from Egypt where the Children of Israel wandered in the Wilderness for forty years. Thus the fasting period of 40 days seems legendary for not only this reason, but also because it is hard to fathom and reconcile the unfallen leading him and imposing such an extreme ordeal on their beloved Creator. Why would they DO this? Were the bad things that happened to Yeshua ever imposed on him by the Father, or were they always the allowed results of earthly human attitudes and actions?

Encounter on the road to Emmaus

There is little to no information upon which to make a definitive judgment about the authenticity of this account, but like so many narratives in the Synoptic Gospels it fails to be anything more than window dressing. If it wasn't included in Luke, why would we care? Why would we miss it?

The birth of John the Baptist

It is tempting to look at the unusual aspects surrounding the birth of John the Baptist, but these are probably not, in that they seem to be a necessary foundation for the life of Yeshua and his ministry.

Visit of  Magi and Herod's Massacre

Discussion text:

DC wrote, re the Star of Bethlehem and Herod's massacre:

"The myth was included in the biography of Yeshua to bring  his birth in line with that of other mythological heroes. As for the  wise men - or Magi - they, too, are part of the myth. Do you really  believe that Herod had the newly-born male children slaughtered in his attempt to get rid of Yeshua? Don't you think that such an atrocious act  would have found its way into history? Do you really think the Roman  governor of Judaea would have allowed such an act?"

PJ wrote:

"Actually, there was no Roman Governor of Judaea when Christ was born .  The New Testament makes it clear that he was born in the reign of King Herod (the Great).  In Herod's reign Judaea was a client kingdom of the Roman Empire, and all internal affairs were in the hands of the King. Judaea was annexed and ruled by Roman procurators in AD 6, after the death of Herod's son Archelaus. So there is no objection to the massacre of the innocents on these grounds.

"It is true that the crime is not mentioned by Josephus, whose history of Judaean affairs during Herod's reign is quite detailed.  But maybe it was too small an incident to be worth him bothering with.  Matthew says that Herod killed all the children "in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under."   As Bethlehem at that time was a small, unimportant town (not mentioned I believe by Josephus in any of his discussions of this period), we might be talking in terms of a dozen deaths or so.   Herod's reign–according to Josephus–reads like a history of murders and massacres and the death of a few children in Bethlehem and environs might simply not have seemed relevant to Josephus' theme, which was the affairs of state.

"Ordering such a massacre was quite in keeping with Herod's megalomaniac, paranoid and inhumane character.  He was capable of killing his own sons.   At his death he was concerned that the whole nation mourned for him so he ordered that  "the most illustrious men of the whole Jewish nation, out of every village" (Josephus: Wars II,i,6– in Antiquities. J says it was one man from every family) were gathered together in the Hippodrome, requesting his sister Salome to "slay them immediately upon my death, and then all Judaea, and every family of them, will weep at it whether they will or no."   Nice guy.

"His sister had the good sense to release the prisoners when the old loony died.  Herod doesn't just SOUND like a tyrant from folklore–unfortunately he was the real thing.   He was a readymade villain for traditional drama such as the Medieval passion plays.

"As for the Magi, they were of course a real sect of astrologer priests, and I see no reason why they should not have been visiting Palestine about 12 BC.  While it does seem unlikely that they would have actually have been able to pinpoint a particular family I don't see why they couldn't have followed the "star" (arguably a comet), plus other astrological indications and/or prophecies and deduced that a "new ruler" would be born in Judaea.  (Other prophecies around this time talked of a new ruler coming from the East, and from Palestine specifically.)   They could well have visited Jerusalem in 12 BC (when a lot of visitors would have come to see Herod's new Temple) and taken the opportunity of putting the wind up Herod by talking about their interpretation of the comet.

"They may have been acting as agents provocateurs from Parthia (Persia), Herod's old enemy.  There is much more than this, in terms of the circumstantial evidence, which tends to make me feel that the story cannot be easily dismissed as obviously mythical."

The last thing that needs to be said is that the legendary aspects of Yeshua have nothing to do with his message, the real issues, and thus are not necessary nor germane,  and serve only to distract and discredit.

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