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
The first thing that needs to be said is that about a dozen historical
references to Yeshua exist outside of Christian literature, with five of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
DC wrote, re the Star of Bethlehem and
"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?"
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.