[...] Constantine celebrated his victory over Maxentius by the murder of the two sons of his adversary. This was followed in orderly succession by the murder of five members of Constantine's own household and later by the murder of his own wife and son. Eventually these crimes began to weigh upon his conscience. Although he had been fighting under the banner of Christ for twenty years, he turned to the pagan religions for absolution. He was told that no pagan religion offered absolution for such crimes as his. He then turned to the Christian Church, and was informed that Christian baptism would expiate any crime, irrespective of its magnitude. At the same time he was advised that baptism might he deferred to the day of his death without losing any of its efficacy. Thus, Eusebius relates that,

When he thought that he was near his death, he confessed his sins, desiring pardon for them from God, and was baptized. So that Constantine was the first of all the Emperors to be regenerated by the new birth of baptism, and signed with the sign of the Cross. (Vita Constantin.)

From the moment that Constantine realized that his crimes could be expiated by Christian baptism, he declared himself the protector of a religion which treats criminals with such lenience. Immediately he began to show his gratitude to the Church. He donated the Lateran Palace to the Bishops of Rome. He sent his mother Helena on a journey to Jerusalem and erected several basilicas in the Holy Land. Then he turned his attention to increasing the membership of the Church. He offered freedom to all slaves who would accept the Christian faith, and to those who were not slaves he offered a white robe and twenty pieces of gold. As a result of this propaganda, twelve thousand converts were added to Christianity in the city of Rome alone.

Next, he determined to increase the wealth of the Church. He gave permission to his subjects to bequeath their fortunes to the Church. Soon the rent-roll from the houses, shops and gardens attached to three basilicas brought in an annual income of $60,000. He raised the Bishops' salaries to $3,000 a year, and, in the Council of Nicea, assured the Bishops that if any of them were caught in the act of adultery the Imperial mantle would be thrown over them, so that the world at large might not learn of their offence.

His next act was to issue an edict against all who refused to accept Christianity, commanding that their meeting places should be demolished or confiscated. According to his successor, the Emperor Julian, Many were imprisoned and persecuted and driven into exile. Whole troops of those who were styled "heretics" were massacred. In many provinces, entire towns and villages were laid waste and utterly destroyed. (Julian: Epistol. lii.)

He then ordered the destruction of all writings adverse to the Christian faith. "For we would not suffer any of those things so much as to come to men's ears which tend to provoke God to wrath and offend the minds of the pious."

And finally, in order to convince his subjects of his Christian piety, Constantine caused his image to be engraven on his golden coins in the form of prayer, with his hands joined together, and looking up towards heaven. And over divers gates of his palace he was drawn praying and lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven. (Vita Constantin.)

The psychic vision of Constantine, which marked his conversion to Christianity, was the fore-runner of a great wave of psychism which engulfed the whole Christian world. The event marked the beginning of the "age of miracles," characterized by relic-worship, which gradually gave way to necromancy and the worship of the dead. I[...] While Constantine's mother was in Jerusalem, the three crosses upon which Jesus and the two thieves were supposed to have been crucified "miraculously" came to light. Later the nails which were said to have attached Jesus to the cross were brought to Constantinople and formed into a crown of glory for Constantine's statue. The skeletons of Mark and James were discovered in the same wonderful manner, and mysterious powers were attributed to them. Soon the worship of holy men's bones was enlarged to include the worship of the lesser dead, and miracle-seeking Christians began to meet in cemeteries, where the shades of the dead were evoked and appeased with food and wine.

The culmination of the "age of miracles" was reached in the year 325 when, at the Council of Nicea, the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were chosen by "miraculous intervention." It must be remembered that as Jesus himself had left nothing in writing, there was no standard with which later records of his life and teaching might be compared. In the 300 years which had elapsed since his death, a large number of manuscripts had come to light, all claiming to be authentic. In regard to those which were extant in the third century, Faustus, the Manichean, had written: Every one knows that the Evangeliums were written neither by Jesus Christ, nor his apostles, but long after their time by some unknown persons, who, judging well that they would hardly be believed when telling things they had not seen themselves, headed their narratives with the names of the Apostles or of disciples contemporaneous with the latter.

By the fourth century it became necessary for the Church to decide which of the many Gospels then in circulation were to be accepted as authentic. The question came up in the Council of Nicea. Fortunately the testimonies of two eye-witnesses have been preserved, so there can be little doubt as to the method used in the selection of the Gospels. There were 318 Bishops present in this Council, and one of the two eyewitnesses, Sabinus, Bishop of Heraclea, left a description of their mental capacities.

"With the exception of the Emperor (Constantine)" he said, "and Eusebius Pamphilus, these Bishops were a set of illiterate, simple creatures who understood nothing." About forty Gospels were submitted to these Bishops. As they differed widely in their contents, the decision was difficult. At last it was determined to resort to "miraculous intervention." The method used was known as the Sortes Sanctorum, or "the holy casting of lots for purposes of divination." Its use in the Council of Nicea was described by another eye-witness, Pappus, in his Synodicon to that Council. He says: Having promiscuously put all the books referred to the Council for determination under a communion table in a church, they (the Bishops) besought the Lord that the inspired writings might get upon the table, while the spurious ones remained underneath. And it happened accordingly. When the Bishops returned to the Council room on the following morning, the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were resting on the communion table. Their presence in the New Testament is due to the art of divination, for practicing which the Church subsequently condemned men and women as sorcerers, enchanters and witches, and burned them by the thousands.

After the death of Constantine, his policy was continued by his two sons. Every indulgence was shown to the illegal behavior of the Christians, every doubt explained to the disadvantage of the pagans, and the further demolition of the pagan temples was celebrated as one of the auspicious events of their reign. Having perceived the efficacy of Christian baptism in the case of their own father, they determined to force baptism upon even the unwilling. As Gibbon says: The rites of baptism were conferred on women and children, who, for that purpose, had been torn from the arms of their friends and parents. The mouths of the communicants were held open by a wooden engine, while the consecrated bread was forced down their throats. (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.)

But when Constantine's nephew, Julian, came to the throne, all of this was changed. Julian was a Neoplatonist, a pupil of Aedesius, who had in turn been taught by Iamblichus. Julian was initiated at Ephesus when he was only twenty years old, and later was initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries. When Julian came to power the whole Christian world was thrown into a state of perturbation. How would this Neoplatonist, this Initiate, act toward Christianity? Would he retaliate with some new and still more cruel refinement of death and torture? Julian answered these questions in a truly Christlike manner. He at once extended free and equal rights to all the inhabitants of the Empire, irrespective of their religious beliefs. He invited all those Christian Bishops who had been excommunicated and exiled on account of their unorthodox views, to return to their posts. At the same time he urged the pagan teachers who had been driven out of Alexandria by Constantine to return to their philosophical pursuits. He invited the opposing Christian factions to meet in his palace, where he advised them to give up their differences and try to live in concord. But at the same time he gave his pagan subjects permission to re-open their temples and continue their own form of worship. Because of this fair and impartial treatment of his subjects, Julian has come down in Christian history under the ignominious title of "the Apostate."

The knowledge that Julian had gained in his initiations made him a menace to orthodox Christianity. He was urged to make his knowledge public so that the Christian Church could refute his statements. To this Julian replied: Were I to touch upon the initiation into the Sacred Mysteries respecting the "seven-rayed God" . . . I should say things unknown to the rabble, very unknown, but well known to the Blessed Theurgists. This reply aroused a storm of protest among his Christian subjects. Catholic history informs us that this "greatest enemy of Christianity," after a reign of only eighteen months, came to an untimely end through the "supernatural intervention" of a spearthrust received in battle with the soldiers of the Persian King Sapor. As he lay dying, Julian summed up in a few words the aim and purpose of his life. "I have learned from philosophy," he said, "how much more excellent the soul is than the body, and that the separation of the nobler substance should be the subject of joy rather than of affliction." Then, turning to the two philosophers, Priscus and Maximus, who stood near his deathbed, he entered into a metaphysical discussion as to the nature of the soul, and assured them that he had always tried to lead his own life from the soul point of view. And I can affirm with confidence that the emanation of the Divine Power has been preserved in my hands pure and immaculate. Detesting the corrupt and destructive maxims of despotism, I have considered the happiness of the people as the end of government. (Ammianus: xxv.)

With the death of Julian the Christian Church regained its power, and the doom of the old religions, sciences and philosophies was sealed. The Church had borrowed too much from them for her own safety. Every event in the life of Jesus, from his virgin birth to his final crucifixion and resurrection, had been copied from the stories of the pagan gods. Every dogma and ritual in the Christian Church had its pagan counterpart. These facts were known to the entire pagan world and as the Church continued to borrow from the pagans in an ever-increasing measure, it became more and more difficult for her to maintain her claim of uniqueness. So long as pagan schools existed, the Church could not without contradiction represent herself as the sole repository of knowledge. So long as pagan books existed, the Bible would not be accepted as the only revelation of God. So long as pagan philosophers lived and taught, the dogmatic assertions of the Church Fathers would be questioned. There was but one course for the Church -- to destroy all the evidences of her plagiarisms by wiping out the pagan schools, the pagan records,

About fifteen years after the death of Julian, the most Christian Emperor Theodosius ascended the throne. An ardent Catholic and a man of great power, he immediately turned his attention to the destruction of everything that stood in the way of the triumph of the orthodox Church. He instituted the Inquisitors of the Faith and exiled all Christians who declined to accept the doctrine of the Trinity as it was outlined in the Council of Nicea. He issued fifteen edicts prohibiting the meeting of "heretical" or unorthodox Christians and confiscated their property. Capital punishment was inflicted upon those who adhered to the Manichean "heresy" as well as upon those Christians who continued to observe Easter upon the same day as the Jews. Finally, in his bloody massacre of Thessalonica, he caused the death of 15,000 persons whom he had treacherously invited to witness the games of the circus. Having assumed his position of dictator among the Christians themselves, he then turned his attention to the "enemies of Christianity" outside the Church. He refused to allow his pagan subjects to worship in their own way and confiscated their temples for the use of the Christians. Among others, the Temple of the Celestial Virgin at Carthage, whose sacred precincts formed a circumference of two miles, was converted into a Christian Church. A similar "consecration" has preserved inviolate the majestic dome of the Pantheon at Rome. As Gibbon says: In almost every province of the Roman world, an army of fanatics invaded the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruins of the fairest structures of antiquity still display the ravages of those barbarians who alone had time and inclination to execute such laborious destruction.

Theodosius' next move was directed against the Mystery Schools, and he soon accomplished their destruction. But there was one great School which was still strong enough to resist his ruthless hand. That was the School of the Eleusinian Mysteries, located in the little hamlet of Eleusis, near Athens. But even it was doomed to destruction, and in the year 396 Alaric and his barbarians were led through the famous Pass of Thermopylae by the Christian monks -- the "black shirts," or the "men in black," as they were called -- and the vast Temple of Eleusis, one of the most famous buildings in the world, the outer court of which alone could hold 300,000 worshippers, was reduced to a mass of ruins. So perished the Mysteries of Greece.

Theodosius then turned his eyes toward Alexandria, which for centuries had been the cultural center of the world. The great Museum had already been put under the control of Catholic priests during the reign of Constantine, but the vast group of buildings known as the Serapeum was still in the hands of the pagans. At that time the magnificent Temple of Serapis was being used as a University where the old religions and sciences were taught. The Library of the Serapion still housed a vast collection of books which had been brought from the four corners of the earth, and which represented the intellectual labor of many centuries. Both of these repositories of pagan knowledge were serious obstacles in the path of the Church, and Theodosius determined that his reign would witness their destruction. At that time the great philosopher, Olympius, whom Suidas describes as "a man of wonderful attainments, noble character and incredible eloquence," was conducting classes in the Temple of Serapis. Crowds of students flocked to him, eager to be instructed in the philosophy of the ancients.

The head of the Christian Church in the city was Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria. Gibbon has pictured him as "the perpetual enemy of peace and virtue; a bold, bad man whose hands were alternately polluted with gold and with blood." His character was so mercenary that he is said to have bribed the slaves of the Serapion to steal some of the books, which he sold to foreigners at exorbitant prices. During the process of demolition of an ancient Temple of Osiris which the Christians had confiscated to remodel into a Christian Church, certain pagan symbols were found, which Theophilus exhibited in the market-place as objects of derision. The pagans naturally objected to this public desecration of their sacred symbols, and a riot ensued. With the assistance of the Imperial Governor and a large crowd of soldiers, Theophilus made an attack upon the pagans who, under the leadership of Olympius, had taken refuge in the Temple of Serapis. Unheard-of cruelties were perpetrated against the besieged. When the Emperor Theodosius learned of the affair he immediately sent a rescript for the total destruction of the place, and the Christians proceeded to carry out his orders. They sacked the Temple, broke the statue of Serapis in pieces, dragged it ignominiously through the streets of the city, and finally burned it. This was in the year 398. The building itself was reduced to a heap of rubbish, and later a Christian Church was erected upon its ruins in honor of the Christian "martyrs" who had suffered in the riot.

Next followed the destruction of the famous Serapion Library, every volume of which, according to popular tradition, was lost. But again, as in the burning of the Bruckion Library during the reign of Cleopatra, proper precautions had been taken to preserve these priceless manuscripts. From the moment that the Christians began to gain power in Alexandria these books were gradually withdrawn from the Serapion and hidden safe from Christian vandalism. There are Still many Copts scattered over Egypt and Asia Minor who declare that not a single volume was lost. In the neighborhood of Ishmonia, the "petrified city," there are immense subterranean galleries in which numberless manuscripts are stored. Perhaps some future archaeologist may yet discover that Theodosius, after all, failed to accomplish his purpose.

With the destruction of the Mystery Schools and the Serapion two of the most serious obstacles in the path of the Christian Church were removed. But there still remained the third, and by far the most important obstacle -- the Neoplatonic School. The "honor" of destroying this School belongs to Cyril, the nephew of Theophilus, who in 412 had succeeded him in his high position of Bishop of Alexandria. Cyril is remembered in Christian history for having promoted the Virgin Mary from the Mother of Jesus to the Mother of God! He also introduced the image of Isis into the Christian Church under the name of Mary. These "Black Virgins" may still be seen in the Cathedral of Moulins, in the Chapel of the Virgin at Loretto, in the Church of St. Stephen at Genoa and in the Church of St. Francis at Pisa. Cyril celebrated his rise to power by a series of oppressions, directed first against the Novitians and then against the Jews. Although the Jews had been welcomed in Alexandria since the very founding of the city, Cyril led a seditious multitude in an attack against their synagogues. Unarmed and unprepared, the Jews were incapable of resistance. Their houses of prayer were levelled to the ground, all their goods plundered, and themselves driven from the city. Cyril has come down in Christian history as one of the "Saints" of the Church, despite the well known fact that he was tried for stealing the gold and silver Church vessels and spending the money gained from their sale. But petty thievery has not earned for the name of Cyril of Alexandria its dark immortality in the annals of religious history. His real crime was much more serious -- the crime of murder, deliberately perpetrated against one of the noblest characters in history: Hypatia, the last of the Neoplatonists.

Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, a celebrated philosopher and mathematician, the author of a commentary on Euclid, in which his daughter is said to have assisted him. An only child, she showed deep interest in philosophy and mathematics from her early youth. Her father instructed her in these subjects with care and diligence, and she soon became one of his most brilliant pupils. Her writings, according to Suidas, included commentaries on the Arithmetica of Diophantus of Alexandria, on the Conics of Apollonius of Perga, and on the Arithmetical Canon of Ptolemy, all of which are now lost.

As a young woman, she traveled to Athens and Italy. Upon her return to Alexandria, around 400 CE, Hypatia achieved prominence as the recognized head of the Neoplatonist school in Alexandria, where letters addressed simply to “the philosopher” were routinely delivered to her. There she expounded upon the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle and lectured on mathematics, astronomy, mechanics, and philosophy, in particular teaching a variant of Neoplatonism which was distinguished from the mysticism of her predecessors by its greater scientific emphasis. In addition to her mathematical works, Hypatia also developed an apparatus for distilling water, an instrument for measuring the level of water, a plane astrolabe (for measuring the positions of the stars, planets, and sun) and a graduated brass hydrometer for determining the specific gravity of a liquid. Hypatia came to symbolize learning and science, which the early Christians identified with paganism, making her the focal point of riots between Christians and non-Christians.

Hypatia brought Egypt nearer to an understanding of its ancient Mysteries than it had been for thousands of years. Her knowledge of Theurgy restored the practical value of the Mysteries and completed the work commenced by Iamblichus over a hundred years before. Following in the footsteps of Plotinus and Porphyry, she demonstrated the possibility of the union of the individual Self with the SELF of all. Continuing the work of Ammonius Saccas, she showed the similarity between all religions and the identity of their source. The precarious foundations of Christian dogma were still more exposed when the Neoplatonic School began to adopt the inductive method of reasoning sponsored by Aristotle. Of all things on earth, logic and the reasonable explanation of things were most hateful to the new religion of mystery.

Hypatia was firmly convinced of the importance of education. In direct contradiction of the the Roman Empire's official Christian Doctrines, she advocated the education of all children, girls as well as boys, and admonished that, “Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing. The mind of a child accepts them, and only through great pain, perhaps even tragedy, can the child be relieved of them.” Furthermore, she was reputed to be an unusually beautiful woman who dressed as as a teacher and engaged openly in philosophic discourse and debate in places normally not frequented by women. She urged others to think freely and to speak openly on matters which were supposed to be restricted to the realm of blind faith: “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.” “To rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world is just as base as to use force.” “All formal dogmatic religions are delusive and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.” “Men will fight for superstition as quickly as for the living truth – even more so, since superstition is intangible, you can't get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.”

When Hypatia explored the metaphysical allegories from which Christianity had borrowed its dogmas, and openly analyzed them in public meetings, she used a weapon which the Christians could meet only with violence. If her School had been allowed to continue the whole fraud perpetrated by the Church would have been laid bare. The light of Neoplatonism was shining much too brightly upon the patchwork of Christianity.

So, on an afternoon during Lent in the year 414, a crowd of Cyril's monks led by Peter the Reader collected in front of the Museum, where Hypatia was just finishing one of her classes. Her chariot drew up to the door, and Hypatia appeared. A dark wave of monks, murder in their hearts, rushed out from their ambuscade, surged around Hypatia's chariot and forced her to descend. They stripped her naked and dragged her into a nearby Church of God, pulling her body through the cool, dim shadows, lit by flickering candles and perfumed with incense, up the chancel steps to the very altar itself. Shaking herself free from her tormentors, she rose for one moment to her full height, snow-white against the dark horde of monks surrounding her. Her lips opened to speak, but no word came from them. For in that moment Peter the Reader struck her down, and the dark mass closed over her quivering flesh. Then they dragged her dead body into the streets, scraped the flesh from the bones with oyster shells, making a bonfire of what remained.

Thus Hypatia perished, and with her death the great Neoplatonic School came to an end. Some of the philosophers removed to Athens, but their School was closed by order of the Emperor Justinian. With the departure of the last seven philosophers of the great Neoplatonic Movement -- Hermias, Priscianus, Diogenes, Eulalius, Damaskias, Simplicius and Isidorus, who fled to the Far East to escape the persecution of Justinian - the reign of wisdom closed.

The death of Hypatia marked the beginning of the Dark Ages, in which the world was encompassed by the clouds of ignorance and superstition for a thousand years.

The four stages of competence

In psychology, the four stages of competence, or the "conscious competence" learning model relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.

1. Unconscious Incompetence: The individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it.

2. Conscious Incompetence: Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, without yet addressing it.

3. Conscious Competence: The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration.

4. Unconscious Competence: The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it becomes "second nature" and can be performed easily (often without concentrating too deeply). He or she may or may not be able teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Natural language is an example of unconscious competence. Not every native speaker who can understand and be understood in a language is competent to teach it. Distinguishing between unconscious competence for performance-only, versus unconscious competence with the ability to teach, the term "kinesthetic competence" is sometimes used for the ability to perform but not to teach, while "theoretic competence" refers to the ability to do both.

Many attempts have been made to add to this competence model. This addition would be a fifth stage, and there have been many different suggestions for what this fifth stage would be called. One suggestion is that it be called "Conscious competence of unconscious competence". This would describe a person's ability to recognize and develop unconscious competence in others.

The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition

The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition postulates that when individuals acquire a skill through external instruction, they normally pass through five stages. This model, first proposed by Stuart Dreyfus and Hubert Dreyfus in 1980 proposes that the five stages of skill acquisition are: Novice, Advanced beginner, Competent, Proficient and Expert.

In the novice stage a person follows rules that are context free and feel no responsibility for anything other than following the rules. Competence develops when the number of rules becomes excessive so organizing principles need to be developed and information sorted by relevance. Competence is characterized by active decision-making. Proficiency is shown in individuals who use intuition in decision making and develop their own rules to formulate plans.

1 Novice
* rigid adherence to rules
* no discretional judgment
* no desire to learn; but rather to accomplish an immediate goal
* needs recipes

2 Advanced beginner
* situational perception still limited
* all aspects of work are treated separately and given equal importance

3 Competent
* coping with crowdedness (multiple activity, information)
* now partially sees action as part of longer term goals
* conscious, deliberate planning, problem solving

4 Proficient
* holistic view of situation, rather than in terms of aspects; needs the big picture
* sees what is most important in a situation
* uses maxims for guidance, meaning of maxims may vary according to situation
* can self-correct

5 Expert
* no longer reliant on rules, guidelines, maxims
* intuitive grasp of situation, based on tacit knowledge
* vision of what is possible, permanent innovator

The progression is thus viewed as a gradual transition from rigid adherence to rules to an intuitive mode of reasoning that relies heavily on deep tacit understanding.


- Experts aren't always the best teachers. Teaching is an expertise in its own right; just because you are expert in some subject is no guarantee that you can teach it to others. Also, given the phenomenon that experts are often unable to articulate why they reached a particular decision, you may find that someone at a competent level might be in a better position to teach a novice than an expert would be.

- Once you become an expert in one field, it becomes much easier to gain expertise in another. At least you already have the acquisition skills and model-building abilities in place.

Theory prooving

There are two types of theories: event theories and construct theories. Both are used to explain some phenomenon that you've observed. Event theories can be measured; these types of theories can be verified and proven. You can judge the accuracy of an event theory.

Construct theories are intangible abstractions; it makes no sense to speak of "proving them." Instead, construct theories are evaluated in terms of their usefulness.

You can't judge a construct theory to be accurate or not. That's mixing apples and existentialism. An apple is a thing; existentialism is an abstraction.

For instance, I can prove all sorts of things about your brain using simple electricity or complex medical imaging devices. But I can't even prove you have a mind. Mind is an abstraction; there's really no such thing. It's just an idea, a concept. But it's a very useful one.

[Source: Andy Hunt - Pragmatic Thinking and Learning]

Institutionalization of (not) learning

Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.

[...]Rich and poor alike depend on schools and hospitals which guide their lives, form their world view, and define for them what is legitimate and what is not. Both view doctoring oneself as irresponsible, learning on one's own as unreliable, and community organization, when not paid for by those in authority, as a form of aggression or subversion. For both groups the reliance on institutional treatment renders independent accomplishment suspect.

[...]School is an institution built on the axiom that learning is the result of teaching. And institutional wisdom continues to accept this axiom, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We have all learned most of what we know outside school. Pupils do most of their learning without, and often despite, their teachers.

[...]The Myth of Institutionalized Values School initiates, too, the Myth of Unending Consumption. This modern myth is grounded in the belief that process inevitably produces something of value and, therefore, production necessarily produces demand. School teaches us that instruction produces learning. The existence of schools produces the demand for schooling. Once we have learned to need school, all our activities tend to take the shape of client relationships to other specialized institutions. Once the self-taught man or woman has been discredited, all nonprofessional activity is rendered suspect. In school we are taught that valuable learning is the result of attendance; that the value of learning increases with the amount of input; and, finally, that this value can be measured and documented by grades and certificates.

In fact, learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Most people learn best by being "with it," yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation.

Once a man or woman has accepted the need for school, he or she is easy prey for other institutions. Once young people have allowed their imaginations to be formed by curricular instruction, they are conditioned to institutional planning of every sort. "Instruction" smothers the horizon of their imaginations. They cannot be betrayed, but only short-changed, because they have been taught to substitute expectations for hope. They will no longer be surprised, for good or ill, by other people, because they have been taught what to expect from every other person who has been taught as they were. This is true in the case of another person or in the case of a machine.

[...] healthy students often redouble their resistance to teaching as they find themselves more comprehensively manipulated. This resistance is due not to the authoritarian style of a public school or the seductive style of some free schools, but to the fundamental approach common to all schools-the idea that one person's judgment should determine what and when another person must learn.

[...]School is not only the New World Religion. It is also the world's fastest-growing labor market. The engineering of consumers has become the economy's principal growth sector. As production costs decrease in rich nations, there is an increasing concentration of both capital and labor in the vast enterprise of equipping man for disciplined consumption. During the past decade capital investments directly related to the school system rose even faster than expenditures for defense. Disarmament would only accelerate the process by which the learning industry moves to the center of the national economy. School gives unlimited opportunity for legitimated waste, so long as its destructiveness goes unrecognized and the cost of palliatives goes up. If we add those engaged in full-time teaching to those in full-time attendance, we realize that this so-called superstructure has become society's major employer. In the United States sixty-two million people are in school and eighty million at work elsewhere. [...] Today most human labor is engaged in the production of demands that can be satisfied by industry which makes intensive use of capital. Most of this is done in school.

Alienation, in the traditional scheme, was a direct consequence of work's becoming wage-labor which deprived man of the opportunity to create and be recreated. Now young people are prealienated by schools that isolate them while they pretend to be both producers and consumers of their own knowledge, which is conceived of as a commodity put on the market in school. School makes alienation preparatory to life, thus depriving education of reality and work of creativity. School prepares for the alienating institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught. Once this lesson is learned, people lose their incentive to grow in independence; they no longer find relatedness attractive, and close themselves off to the surprises which life offers when it is not predetermined by institutional definition. And school directly or indirectly employs a major portion of the population. School either keeps people for life or makes sure that they will fit into some institution. The New World Church is the knowledge industry, both purveyor of opium and the workbench during an increasing number of the years of an individual's life.

[...]Of course, school is not, by any means, the only modern institution which has as its primary purpose the shaping of man's vision of reality. The hidden curriculum of family life, draft, health care, so-called professionalism, or of the media play an important part in the institutional manipulation of man's world-vision, language, and demands. But school enslaves more profoundly and more systematically, since only school is credited with the principal function of forming critical judgment, and, paradoxically, tries to do so by making learning about oneself, about others, and about nature depend on a prepackaged process. School touches us so intimately that none of us can expect to be liberated from it by something else. Many self-styled revolutionaries are victims of school. They see even "liberation" as the product of an institutional process. Only liberating oneself from school will dispel such illusions. The discovery that most learning requires no teaching can be neither manipulated nor planned. Each of us is personally responsible for his or her own deschooling, and only we have the power to do it. No one can be excused if he fails to liberate himself from schooling. People could not free themselves from the Crown until at least some of them had freed themselves from the established Church. They cannot free themselves from progressive consumption until they free themselves from obligatory school.

[...] The demands of highschool students to have a say in choosing their teachers are as strident as those of parishioners demanding to select their pastors. But the stakes for society are much higher if a significant minority loses its faith in schooling. This would endanger the survival not only of the economic order built on the coproduction of goods and demands, but equally of the political order built on thenation-state into which students are delivered by the school. Our options are clear enough. Either we continue to believe that institutionalized learning is a product which justifies unlimited investment or we rediscover that legislation and planning and investment, if they have any place in formal education, should be used mostly to tear down the barriers that now impede opportunities for learning, which can only be a personal activity. [...] The language of the schoolman has already been coopted by the adman. Now the general and the policeman try to dignify their professions by masquerading as educators. In a schooled society, warmaking and civil repression find an educational rationale. [...] The totally destructive and constantly progressive nature of obligatory instruction will fulfill its ultimate logic unless we begin to liberate ourselves right now from our pedagogical hubris, our belief that man can do what God cannot, namely, manipulate others for their own salvation.

From the beginning of this century, the schools have been protagonists of social control on the one hand and free cooperation on the other, both placed at the service of the "good society," conceived of as a highly organized and smoothly working corporate structure. Under the impact of intense urbanization, children became a natural resource to be molded by the schools and fed into the industrial machine.

[Source: Ivan Illich - Deschooling Society]

Kennedy Assassination

The US mainstream media mentions many theories as to who killed John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963: Cuban exiles, the family of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, Fidel Castro, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, LBJ, the Mafia (getting close) and the CIA (right). But the US mainstream media never mentions one prime suspect: Israel. Could it be that those who control the US mainstream media do not want this explanation even mentioned?

Michael Collins Piper's book, The Final Judgment, provides evidence in support of the theory that JFK was assassinated in a combined Mossad/CIA operation because he was an obstacle both to Israel's development of the atomic bomb and (since JFK was planning to withdraw from Vietnam) to the continuation of the CIA's heroin-smuggling operations in South-East Asia.

This book was first published in 1994. It was reissued as a paperback in 2000 but Amazon now lists it as "out of stock", and available only as a used book (priced at US$155 — over six times the original list price of US$25).

Below are given all eleven reviews of this book which appear on Amazon's website (as at 2003-11-22) and at the end is a message on this subject from Wade Frazier


The Last Word on the JFK Assassination November 28, 2002

Reviewer: Mark Braver from Chicago, Illinois

There seems to be a lot of misperception of what Final Judgment does and does not say about the JFK assassination. The book does not say that "the Jews killed JFK." That's horse manure.

What the book does say is that:

When New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison charged businessman Clay Shaw with participation in the JFK assassination conspiracy Garrison stumbled upon the Israeli Mossad connection to the murder of President Kennedy. Shaw served on the board of a shadowy corporation known as Permindex. A primary shareholder in Permindex was the Banque De Credit International of Geneva, founded by Tibor Rosenbaum, an arms procurer and financier for the Mossad.

What's more, the Mossad-sponsored Swiss bank was the chief "money laundry" for Meyer Lansky, the head of the international crime syndicate and an Israeli loyalist whose operations meshed closely on many fronts with the American CIA.

The chairman of Permindex was Louis M. Bloomfield of Montreal, a key figure in the Israeli lobby and an operative of the Bronfman family of Canada, long-time Lansky associates and among Israel's primary international patrons.

In the pages of "Final Judgment" the Israeli connection to the JFK assassination is explored in frightening — and fully documented — detail. For example, did you know:

* That JFK was engaged in a bitter secret conflict with Israel over U.S. [Middle] East policy and that Israel's prime minister resigned in disgust, saying JFK's stance threatened Israel's very survival?

* That JFK's successor, Lyndon Johnson, immediately reversed America's policy toward Israel?

* That the top Mafia figures often alleged to be behind the JFK assassination were only front men for Meyer Lansky?

* That the CIA's liaison to the Mossad, James Angleton, was a prime mover behind the cover-up of the JFK assassination?

Why didn't Oliver Stone, in his famous movie "JFK" not mention any of this? It turns out the chief financial backer of Stone's film was longtime Mossad figure, Arnon Milchan, Israel's biggest arms dealer.

The very fact that the Israeli lobby has gone through such great lengths to try to smear Michael Collins Piper and to try to discredit Final Judgment gives the book great credibility. If the book was really so silly or so unconvincing, it doesn't seem likely that groups such as the Anti-Defamation League would go out of their way to try to suppress the book as they have. The fact is that Piper demonstrates that Israel did indeed have a very strong motive to want to get JFK out of the way and that numerous people who have been linked in other writings to the JFK conspiracy were (as Piper documents) also in the sphere of influence of Israel's Mossad. Not only Clay Shaw in New Orleans, but also James Angleton at the CIA, who was Israel's strongest advocate at the CIA and also the CIA's liaison to the Mossad. The Israeli connection is indeed "the missing link in the JFK assassination conspiracy."

The "Reader from Chicago" who wrote the review of Final Judgment posted here is really off the beam and I suspect he (or she) is deliberately distorting what Piper's book does say in order to try to discourage people from reading it.

The fact is that Piper's book documents (quite clearly, in my estimation) not only the means, opportunity and the motive for Israeli Mossad involvement in the assassination (working in conjunction with the CIA), but it is also quite fascinating and very interesting read. "Boring" is the last word I'd use to describe the book, and it is certainly not "poorly written."

What's more, the book is not — I repeat — not "anti-Semitic" and the book has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of the Holocaust.

In fact, anybody familiar with any of the standard writings on the JFK assassination will recognize the names of some of the key players in the scenario Piper documents: Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, Guy Banister and James J. Angleton of the CIA — and none of them were Jewish. So where this reviewer gets off saying that Piper finds "a Jew under every rock" is beyond me.

I have read literally hundreds of books and magazine articles and other material on the JFK assassination and not in a single one of them — with the exception of Final Judgment — did I ever learn that President John F. Kennedy was trying to stop Israel from building the nuclear bomb and that this literally touched off a "secret war" behind the scenes between JFK and Israel's prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who resigned (among other reasons) in disgust over JFK's policies with Israel. In fact, Israeli historian Avner Cohen in his book, Israel and the Bomb, documents this quite thoroughly.

And in Final Judgment Piper also outlines some interesting Israeli connections by people who have been linked to the JFK assassination and cover-up, including Clay Shaw of New Orleans. Even Israeli journalist Barry Chamish has written in an Internet review of Final Judgment that he finds Piper's Israeli connection (via Shaw and Permindex) quite convincing.

There was a controversy in the Chicago area following an attempt by the Anti-Defamation League (an Israeli lobby organization) and people associated with the ADL to prevent Final Judgment from being placed in the Schaumburg Township District Library. Chances are the Reader from Chicago is probably an ADL representative!

[Source: http://www.serendipity.li/zionism/final_jgmt_reviews.htm]

Misstranslating the Gospels

It is widely accepted that Jesus was born in a stable - but the Gospels do not say that. In fact, there is no 'stable' mentioned in any authorised Gospel. The Nativity is not mentioned at all in Mark or John, and Matthew makes it quite plain that Jesus was born in a house.

So where did the 'stable' idea come from? It came from a misinterpretation of the Gospel of Luke, which relates that Jesus was 'laid in a manger' - and a manger was nothing more than an animal feeding-box. In practice, it was perfectly common for mangers to be used as emergency cradles and they were often brought indoors for that very purpose. Why, then, has it been presumed that this particular manger was in a stable? Because the English translations of Luke tell us that there was 'no room in the inn'. But the old manuscript of Luke did not say that. In fact, there were no inns in the region.

The original Greek text of Luke does not relate that there was 'no room in the inn'. By the best translation it actually states that there was 'no place in the room' (that is: 'no topos in the kataluma'). As previously mentioned, Matthew states that Jesus was born in a house and, when correctly translated, Luke reveals that Jesus was laid in a manger (a feeding-box) because there was no cradle provided in the room.

To facilitate the best possible trust in the Gospels, we must go back to the original Greek manuscripts with their often used Hebrew and Aramaic words and phrases. In this respect, we discover that a good deal of relevant content has been misrepresented, misunderstood, mistranslated, or simply just lost in the telling. Sometimes this has happened because original words have no direct counterpart in other languages.

Christians are taught that Jesus' father Joseph was a carpenter, as explained in the English-language Gospels. But it did not say that in the original Gospels. By the best translation, it actually said that Joseph was a "master craftsman" (rendered in Greek as 'ho tekton' from the Semitic term 'naggar'). The word 'carpenter' was simply a translator's concept of a craftsman - but the text actually denoted that Joseph was a masterly, learned and scholarly man.

Another example is the concept of the Virgin Birth. English-language Gospels tell us that Jesus' mother Mary was a 'virgin'. It was the same in an early Latin text which referred to her as being a 'virgo', meaning nothing more than a young woman. To have meant the same thing as virgin does today, the Latin would have been 'virgo intacta' - that is to say, a young woman intact. Looking back beyond the Latin to the older documents, we discover that the word translated to 'virgo' (a young woman) was the Semitic word 'almah' which meant the very same - a young woman. It had no sexual connotation whatever. Had Mary actually been physically virgo intacta, the Semitic word used would have been 'bethulah', not 'almah'.

Apart from such anomalies, the canonical Gospels suffer from numerous purposeful amendments. In about AD 195, Bishop Clement of Alexandria made the first known amendment to the Gospel texts. He deleted a substantial section from the Gospel of Mark and justified his action in a letter, stating: "For even if they should say something true, one who loves the truth should not agree with them - for not all true things are to be said to all men".

Even at that stage, there was already a discrepancy between what the Gospel writers had written and what the early bishops wanted to teach! But what exactly was in this removed section of Mark? It was the item which dealt with the raising of Lazarus - in the course of which the account made it perfectly clear that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were man and wife.

Many scholars have suggested that the wedding at Cana was the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene - but this was not the wedding ceremony as such, being simply the pre-marital betrothal feast. The marriage is defined by the quite separate anointings of Jesus by Mary at Bethany. Chronologically, these anointings (as given in the Gospels) were two-and-a-half years apart.

Readers of the 1st century would have been fully conversant with the two-part ritual of the sacred marriage of a dynastic heir. Jesus, as we know, was a Messiah, which means quite simply an Anointed One. In fact, all anointed senior priests and Davidic kings were Messiahs; Jesus was not unique in this regard. Although not an ordained priest, he gained his right to Messiah status by way of descent from King David and the kingly line, but he did not achieve that status until he was ritually anointed by Mary Magdalene in her capacity as a bridal high priestess.

In the Old Testament's Song of Solomon we learn of the bridal anointing of the king. It is detailed that the oil used in Judah was the fragrant ointment of spikenard (an expensive root oil from the Himalayas), and it is explained that this ritual was performed while the kingly husband sat at the table. In the New Testament, the anointing of Jesus by Mary Magdalene was indeed performed while he sat at the table, and specifically with the bridal ointment of spikenard. Afterwards, Mary wiped Jesus' feet with her hair and, on the first occasion of the two-part ceremony, she wept. All of these things signify the marital anointing of a dynastic heir.

Messianic marriages were always conducted in two stages. The first (the anointing in Luke) was the legal commitment to wedlock, while the second (the later anointing in Matthew, Mark and John) was the cementing of the contract. In Jesus and Mary's case the second anointing was of particular significance for, as explained by Flavius Josephus in the 1st-century Antiquities of the Jews, the second part of the marriage ceremony was never conducted until the wife was three months pregnant.

Dynastic heirs such as Jesus were expressly required to perpetuate their lines. Marriage was essential, but community law protected the dynasts against marriage to women who proved barren or kept miscarrying. This protection was provided by the three-month pregnancy rule. Miscarriages would not often happen after that term, subsequent to which it was considered safe enough to complete the marriage contract.

After the second Bethany anointing, the Gospels relate that Jesus said: "Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her". But did the Church authorities honour Mary Magdalene and speak of this act as a memorial? No they did not; they completely ignored Jesus' own directive and denounced Mary as a whore.
To the Nazarenes, however, Mary Magdalene was always regarded as a saint. She is still revered as such by many today, with numerous churches dedicated to her in the Renaissance era. But the interesting fact of this sainthood is that Mary is the recognized patron saint of wine-growers - the ultimate Grail guardian of the Vine.

Aspects of the Gospels can actually be followed outside the Bible. Even the crucifixion sentence of Jesus is mentioned in the Annals of Imperial Rome. We can now determine from chronological survey that the Crucifixion took place at the March Passover of AD 33, while the Bethany second marriage anointing was in the week prior to that. We also know that, at that stage, Mary Magdalene was three months pregnant - which means she should have given birth in September of AD 33.

As for Jesus' death on the cross, it is perfectly clear this was spiritual death, not physical death, as determined by a three-day excommunication rule that everybody in the 1st century would have understood. In civil and legal terms, Jesus was denounced, scourged and prepared for death by decree. For three days Jesus would have been nominally 'sick', with absolute 'death' coming on the fourth day. Prior to this he would be entombed (buried alive) in accordance with Jewish Council law - but during the first three days he could be raised or resurrected, as he had predicted would be the case.

Raisings and resurrections could only be performed by the High Priest or by the Father of the Community. The High Priest at that time was Joseph Caiaphas (the very man who condemned Jesus), therefore the raising had to be performed by the patriarchal Father. There are Gospel accounts of Jesus talking to the Father from the cross, culminating in "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" - and the appointed Father of the day was the Magian apostle Simon Zelotes.

During that Friday afternoon when Jesus was on the Cross, there was a forward time change, and the Gospels explain that the land fell into darkness for three hours. The Hebrew lunarists made their change during the daytime, but the Nazarene solarists did not make their change until midnight. This explains why, according to the Gospel of Mark (which relates to lunar time), Jesus was crucified at the third hour, but in John (which uses solar time) he was crucified at the sixth hour.

On that evening the Hebrews began their Sabbath at the old nine o'clock, but the Essenes and Magians still had three hours to go before their Sabbath. During those extra three hours they were able to work with Jesus while others were not allowed to undertake any physical activity. It was for this reason that the women were so astonished when they found the tomb-stone moved at daybreak on the Sunday - not because it was moved, but because it had been moved on the Sabbath.

And so we come to one of the most misunderstood events in the Bible - the Ascension. And in consideration of this, the births of Jesus and Mary Magdalene's children become apparent.

We know from Gospel chronology that the Bethany second-marriage anointing of Jesus by Mary Magdalene was in the week before the Crucifixion (at the time of the March Passover). Also that, at that stage, Mary was three-months pregnant and should, therefore, have given birth six months later in the notional month of September AD 33. The story is taken up in the Acts of the Apostles, which detail for that month the event which we have come to know as the Ascension.

One thing which the Acts do not do, however, is to call the event the Ascension. This was a tag established by way of a Church doctrine more than three centuries later. What the Bible text actually says is: "And when he had spoken these things ... he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight".

It then continues, relating that a man in white said to the disciples: "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus ... shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go". Then, a little later in the Acts, it says that heaven must receive Jesus until 'the times of restitution'.

Given that this was the very month in which Mary Magdalene's child was due, is there perhaps some connection between Mary's confinement and the so-called Ascension? There certainly is, and the connection is made by virtue of the said 'times of restitution'.

Not only were there rules to govern the marriage ceremony of a Messianic heir, but so too were there rules to govern the marriage itself. The rules of dynastic wedlock were quite unlike the Jewish family norm, and Messianic parents were formally separated at the birth of a child. Even prior to this, intimacy between a dynastic husband and wife was only allowed in December, so that births of heirs would always fall in the month equivalent to September - the month of Atonement, the holiest month of the calendar.

From the moment of a dynastic birth, the parents were physically separated - for six years if the child was a boy and for three years if the child was a girl. Their marriage would only be recommenced at designated 'times of restitution'. Meanwhile, the mother and child would enter the equivalent of a convent and the father would enter the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom was the Essene high monastery at Mird, by the Dead Sea, and the ceremony of entry was conducted by the angelic priests under the supervision of the appointed leader of the pilgrims. In the Old Testament book of Exodus, the Israelite pilgrims were led into the Holy Land by a cloud and, in accordance with this continued Exodus imagery, the priestly leader of the pilgrims was designated with the title Cloud.

So, if we read the Acts verses as they were intended to be understood, we see that Jesus was taken up by the Cloud (the leader of the pilgrims) to the kingdom of heaven (the high monastery), whereupon the man in white (an angelic priest) said that Jesus would return at the times of restitution (when his earthly marriage was restored).

If we now look at St Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews we discover that he explains the said Ascension event in some greater detail. Paul tells of how Jesus was admitted to the priesthood of heaven when he actually had no entitlement to that sacred office. He explains that Jesus was born (through his father Joseph) into the Davidic line of Judah - a line which held the right of kingship but had no right to priesthood, for this was the sole prerogative of the family of Levi. However, says Paul, a special dispensation was granted, and that "for the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law".

In September AD 33, therefore, the first child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was born, and Jesus duly entered the kingdom of heaven. By following the chronology of the Acts, we see that in September AD 37 a second child was born, followed by another in AD 44. With the period between the first and second births being just four years, we know that the first child was a daughter. The period from the second birth to the next time of restitution in AD 43 was six years, which denotes that the AD 37 child was a son. Subsequent information reveals that the third child was also a son.

Prior to the birth of her second son in AD 44, Mary Magdalene was exiled from Judaea following a political uprising in which she was implicated. Along with Philip, Lazarus and a few retainers, she travelled to live at the Herodian estate near Lyon, in Gaul (which later became France).

From the earliest times, through the medieval era, to the great Renaissance, Mary's flight was portrayed in illuminated manuscripts and great artworks alike. Her life and work in Provence, especially in the Languedoc region, appeared not only in works of European history but also in the Roman Church liturgy - until her story was suppressed by the Vatican in the 16th century.

We can now return to the Grail's traditional symbolism as a chalice containing the blood of Jesus. We can also consider graphic designs dating back well beyond the Dark Ages to about 3500 BC and, in doing this, we discover that a chalice or a cup was the longest-standing symbol of the female. Its representation was that of the sacred vessel of the 'vas uterus'. And so, when fleeing into Gaul, Mary Magdalene carried the Sangraal (the nectar of supreme excellence) in the sacred chalice of her womb.

[Source: Sir Lawrence Gardner - Bloodline of the Holy Grail]

The Political Jesus

The Holy Land in Jesus's time contained a bewildering number of diverse Judaic groups, factions, sects and sub sects In the Gospels, only two of these, the Pharisees and Sadducees, are cited, and both are cast in the roles of villains. However, the role of villain would only have been appropriate to the Sadducees, who did collaborate with the Roman administration. The Pharisees maintained a staunch opposition to Rome; and Jesus himself, if not actually a Pharisee, acted essentially within the Pharisee tradition." In order to appeal to a Romanised audience, the Gospels were obliged to exonerate Rome and blacken the Jews. This explains why the Pharisees had to be misrepresented and deliberately stigmatised along with their genuinely culpable countrymen, the Sadducees.

But why is there no mention in the Gospels of the Zealots the militant nationalistic "freedom fighters' and revolutionaries who, if anything, a Roman audience would only too eagerly have seen as villains? There would seem to be no explanation for their apparent omission from the Gospels unless Jesus was so closely associated with them that this association could not possibly be disowned, only glossed over and thereby concealed. As Professor Brandon argues: "The Gospels' silence about Zealots ... must surely be indicative of a relationship between Jesus and these patrons which the Evangelists preferred not to disclose." Whatever Jesus's possible association with the Zealots, there is no question but that he was crucified as one. Indeed the two men allegedly crucified with him are explicitly described as les-tai the appellation by which the Zealots were known to the Romans. It is doubtful that Jesus himself was a Zealot. Nevertheless, he displays, at odd moments in the Gospels, an aggressive militarism quite comparable to theirs. In one awkwardly famous passage, he announces that he has come "not to bring peace, but a sword'. In Luke's Gospel, he instructs those of his followers who do not possess a sword to purchase one (Luke 22:36); and he himself then checks and approves that they are armed after the Passover meal (Luke 22:38). In the Fourth Gospel Simon Peter is actually carrying a sword when Jesus is arrested. It is difficult to reconcile such references with the conventional image of a mild pacifist saviour. Would such a saviour have sanctioned the bearing of arms, particularly by one of his favourite disciples, the one on whom he supposedly founded his church? If Jesus was not himself a Zealot, the Gospels -seemingly despite themselves betray and establish his connection with that militant faction. There is persuasive evidence to associate Barabbas with Jesus; and Barabbas is also described as a les-tai; James, John and Simon Peter all have appellations which may hint obliquely at Zealot sympathies, if not Zealot involvement. According to modern authorities, Judas Iscariot derives from "Judas the Sicarii' and "Sicarii' was yet another term for Zealot, interchangeable with les-tai Indeed the Sicarii seem to have been an elite within the Zealot ranks, a crack cadre of professional assassins. Finally there is the disciple known as Simon. In the Greek version of Mark, Simon is called Kananaios - a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word for Zealot. In the King James Bible, the Greek word is mistranslated and Simon appears as "Simon the Canaanite'. But the Gospel of Luke leaves no room for doubt. Simon is clearly identified as a Zealot, and even the King James Bible introduces him as "Simon Zelotes'. It would thus seem fairly indisputable that Jesus numbered at least one Zealot among his followers.

If the absence or, rather, apparent absence of the Zealots from the Gospels is striking, so too is that of the Essenes. In the Holy Land of Jesus's time, the Essenes constituted a sect as important as the Pharisees and Sadducees, and it is inconceivable that Jesus did not come into contact with them. Indeed, from the account given of him, John the Baptist would seem to have been an Essene. The omission of any reference to the Essenes seems to have been dictated by the same considerations that dictated omission of virtually all references to the Zealots. In short Jesus's connections with the Essenes, like his connections with the Zealots, were probably too close and too well known to be denied. They could only be glossed over and concealed. From historians and chroniclers writing at the time, it is known that the Essenes maintained communities throughout the Holy Land and, quite possibly, elsewhere as well. They began to appear around 150 B.C. and they used the Old Testament, but interpreted it more as allegory than as literal historical truth. They repudiated conventional Judaism in favour of a form of Gnostic dualism which seems to have incorporated dements of sun worship and Pythagorean thought. They practised healing and were esteemed for their expertise in therapeutic techniques. Finally they were rigorously ascetic, and readily distinguished by their simple white garb. Most modern authorities on the subject believe the famous Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran to be essentially Essene documents. And there is no question that the sect of ascetics living at Qumran had much in common with Essene thought. Like Essene teaching, the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect a dualist theology. At the same time they lay a great stress on the coming of a Messiah an "anointed one' descended from the line of David." They also adhere to a special calendar, according to which the Passover service was celebrated not on Friday, but on Wednesday which agrees with the Passover service in the Fourth Gospel. And in a number of significant respects they coincide, almost word for word, with some of Jesus's teaching.

At the very least it would appear that Jesus was aware of the Qumran community and, to some extent at any rate, brought his own teachings into accord with theirs. One modern expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls believes that they "give added ground for believing that many incidents [in the New Testament] are merely projections into Jesus' own history of what was expected of the Messiah' . Whether the Qumran sect were technically Essenes or not, it seems clear that Jesus even if he did not undergo formal Essene training was well versed in Essene thought. Indeed, many of his teachings echo those ascribed to the Essenes. And his aptitude for healing likewise suggests some Essene influence. But a closer scrutiny of the Gospels reveals that the Essenes may have figured even more significantly in Jesus's career. The Essenes were readily identifiable by their white garments which, paintings and cinema notwithstanding, were less common in the Holy Land at the time than is generally believed. In the suppressed "secret' Gospel of Mark, a white linen robe plays an important ritual role -and it recurs later even in the accepted authorised version. If Jesus was conducting mystery school initiations at Bethany or elsewhere, the white linen robe suggests that these initiations may well have been Essene in character. What is more, the motif of the white linen robe recurs later in all four Gospels. After the Crucifixion Jesus's body "miraculously' disappears from the tomb which is found to be occupied by at least one white-clad figure. In Matthew it is an angel in "raiment white as snow' (28:3). In Mark it is "a young man in long white garment' (16:5). Luke reports that there were "two men ... in shining garments' (24:4), while the Fourth Gospel speaks of "two angels in white' (20:12). In two of these accounts the figure or figures in the tomb are not even accorded any supernatural status. Presumably, these figures are thoroughly mortal and yet, it would appear, unknown to the disciples. It is certainly reasonable to suppose that they are Essenes. And given the Essenes' aptitude for healing, such a supposition becomes even more tenable.

If Jesus, on being removed from the cross, was indeed still alive, the services of a healer would clearly have been required. Even if he were dead, a healer is likely to have been present, if only as a "forlorn hope'. And there were no more esteemed healers in the Holy Land at the time than the Essenes. According to our scenario a mock Crucifixion on private ground was arranged, with Pilate's collusion, by certain of Jesus's supporters. More specifically it would have been arranged not primarily by "adherents of the message', but by adherents to the bloodline immediate family, in other words, and/or other aristocrats and/or members of an inner circle. These individuals may well have had Essene connections or have been Essenes themselves. To the "adherents of the message', however the "rank and file' of Jesus's following, epitomised by Simon Peter the stratagem would not have been divulged. On being carried to Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, Jesus would have required medical attention, for which an Essene healer would have been present. And afterwards, when the tomb was found to be vacant, an emissary would again have been necessary an emissary unknown to the "rank and file' disciples. This emissary would have had to reassure the unsuspecting "adherents of the message', to act as intermediary between Jesus and his following and to forestall charges of graverobbing or grave desecration against the Romans, which might have provoked dangerous civic disturbances. Whether this scenario was accurate or not, it seemed to us fairly clear that Jesus was as closely associated with the Essenes as he was with the Zealots. At first this might seem somewhat odd, for the Zealots and the Essenes are often imagined to have been incompatible. The Zealots were aggressive, violent, militaristic, not averse to assassination and terrorism. The Essenes, in contrast, are frequently depicted as divorced from political issues, quietist, pacifist and gentle. In actual fact, however, the Zealots included numerous Essenes in their ranks for the Zealots were not a sect but a political faction. As a political faction they drew support not only from the anti Roman Pharisees, but from the Essenes as well who could be as aggressively nationalistic as anyone else.

The association of the Zealots and the Essenes is especially evident in the writings of Josephus, from whom much of the available information on Palestine at the time derives. Joseph ben Matthias was born into the Judaic nobility in A.D. 3 7. On the outbreak of the revolt in A.D. 66 he was appointed governor of Galilee, where he assumed command of the forces aligned against the Romans. As a military commander he seems to have proved signally inept, and was promptly captured by the Roman Emperor Vespasian. Thereupon he turned Quisling. Taking the Romanised name of Flavius Josephus, he became a Roman citizen, divorced his wife and married a Roman heiress, and accepted lavish gifts from the Roman emperor -which included a private apartment in the imperial palace, as well as land confiscated from Jews in the Holy Land. Around the time of his death in A.D. 100, his copious chronicles of the period began to appear.

In The Jewish War Josephus offers a detailed account of the revolt between A.D. 66 and 74. Indeed, it was from Josephus that subsequent historians learned most about that disastrous insurrection, the sack of Jerusalem and the razing of the Temple. And Josephus's work also contains the only account of the fall, in A.D. 74, of the fortress of Masada, situated at the south-western corner of the Dead Sea. Like Montsegur some twelve hundred years later Masada has come to symbolise tenacity, heroism and martyrdom in defence of a lost cause. Like Montsegur it continued to resist the invader long after virtually all other organised resistance had ceased. While the rest of Palestine collapsed beneath the Roman onslaught, Masada continued to be impregnable. At last, in A.D. 74, the position of the fortress became untenable. After sustained bombardment with heavy siege machinery, the Romans installed a ramp which put them into a position to breach the de fences On the night of April 15th they prepared for a general assault. On that same night the 960 men, women, and children within the fortress committed suicide en masse. When the Romans burst through the gate the following morning, they found only corpses amid the flames. Josephus himself accompanied the Roman troops who entered the husk of Masada on the morning of April 16th. He claims to have witnessed the carnage personally. And he claims to have interviewed three survivors of the debacle a woman and two children who supposedly hid in the conduits beneath the fortress while the rest of the garrison killed themselves. From these survivors Josephus reports that he obtained a detailed account of what had transpired the night before.

According to this account the commander of the garrison was a man named Eleazar a variant, interestingly enough, of Lazarus. And it seems to have been Eleazar who, by his persuasive and charismatic eloquence, led the defenders to their grisly decision. In his chronicle Josephus repeats Eleazar's speeches, as he claims to have heard them from the survivors. And these speeches are extremely interesting. History reports that Masada was defended by militant Zealots. Josephus himself uses the words "Zealots' and "Sicarii' interchangeably. And yet Eleazar's speeches are not even conventionally Judaic. On the contrary, they are unmistakably Essene, Gnostic and dualist:

"Ever since primitive man began to think, the words of our ancestors and of the gods, supported by the actions and spirit of our forefathers, have constantly impressed on us that life is the calamity for man, not death. Death gives freedom to our souls and lets them depart to their own pure home where they will know nothing of any calamity; but while they are confined within a mortal body and share its miseries, in strict truth they are dead. For association of the divine with the mortal is most improper. Certainly the soul can do a great deal even when imprisoned in the body: it makes the body its own organ of sense, moving it invisibly and impelling it in its actions further than mortal nature can reach. But when, freed from the weight that drags it down to earth and is hung about it, the soul returns to its own place, then in truth it partakes of a blessed power and an utterly unfettered strength, remaining as invisible to human eyes as God Himself. Not even while it is in the body can it be viewed; it enters undetected and departs unseen, having itself one imperishable nature, but causing a change in the body; for whatever the soul touches lives and blossoms, whatever it deserts withers and dies: such a superabundance it has of immortality."

And again: "They are men of true courage who, regarding this life as a kind of service we must render to nature, undergo it with reluctance and hasten to release their souls from their bodies; and though no misfortune presses or drives them away, desire for immortal life impels them to inform their friends that they are going to depart."

It is extraordinary that no scholar, to our knowledge, has ever commented on these speeches before, for they raise a multitude of provocative questions. At no point, for example, does orthodox Judaism ever speak of a soul' still less of its "immortal' or "imperishable' nature. Indeed, the very concept of a soul and of immortality is alien to the mainstream of Judaic tradition and thought. So, too, is the supremacy of spirit over matter, the union with God in death, and the condemnation of life as evil. These attitudes derive, quite unequivocally, from a mystery tradition. They are patently Gnostic and dualist; and, in the context of Masada, are characteristically Essene. Certain of these attitudes, of course, may also be described as in some sense "Christian'. Not necessarily as that word subsequently came to be defined, but as it might have been applied to Jesus's original followers those, for example, who wished to join Lazarus in death in the Fourth Gospel. It is possible that the defenders of Masada included some adherents to Jesus's bloodline. During the revolt of A.D. 66 to 74 there were numerous "Christians' who fought against the Romans as vigorously as did the Jews. Many Zealots, in fact, were what would now be called "early Christians'; and it is quite likely that there were some of them at Masada. Josephus, of course, suggests nothing of this sort -although even if he once did, it would have been excised by subsequent editors. At the same time, one would expect Josephus, writing a history of Palestine during the first century, to make some mention of Jesus.

Granted, many later editions of Josephus's work do contain such references; but these references conform to the Jesus of established orthodoxy, and most modern scholars dismiss them as spurious interpolations dating from no earlier than the time of Constantine. In the nineteenth century, however, an edition of Josephus was discovered in Russia which differed from all others. The text itself, translated into Old Russian, dated from approximately 1261. The man who transcribed it was not an orthodox Jew, because he retained many `pro-Christian' allusions. And yet Jesus, in this version of Josephus, is described as human, as a political revolutionary and as a "king who did not reign'. He is also said to have had "a line in the middle of his head in the manner of the Nazireans." Scholars have expended much paper and energy disputing the possible authenticity of what is now called the "Slavonic Josephus'. All things considered, we were inclined to regard it as more or less genuine a transcription from a copy or copies of Josephus which survived the destruction of Christian documents by Diocletian and eluded the editorial zeal of the reinstated orthodoxy under Constantine. There were a number of cogent reasons for our conclusion. If the Slavonic Josephus was a forgery, for example, whose interests would it have served? Its description of Jesus as a king would hardly have been acceptable to a thirteenth-century Jewish audience. And its depiction of Jesus as human would hardly have pleased thirteenth-century Christendom. What is more, Origen, a Church father writing in the early third century, alludes to a version of Josephus which denies Jesus's Messiahship. This version which may once have been the original, authentic and "standard' version could well have provided the text for the Slavonic Josephus.

[Source: Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln - Holy Blood, Holy Grail]


The role of Constantine in the history and development of Christianity has been falsified, misrepresented and misunderstood. The spurious eighth-century "Donation of Constantine', has served to confuse matters even further in the eyes of subsequent writers. Nevertheless, Constantine is often credited with the decisive victory of the "adherents of the message' and not wholly without justification. We were therefore obliged to consider him more closely, and in order to do so we had to dispel certain of the more fanciful and specious accomplishments ascribed to him. According to later Church tradition. Constantine had inherited from his father a sympathetic predisposition towards Christianity. In fact this predisposition seems to have been primarily a matter of expediency, for Christians by then were numerous and Constantine needed all the help he could get against Maxentius, his rival for the imperial throne. In A.D. 213 Maxentius was routed at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, thus leaving Constantine's claim unchallenged. Immediately before this crucial engagement Constantine is said to have had a vision later reinforced by a prophetic dream of a luminous cross hanging in the sky. A sentence was supposedly inscribed across it In Hoc Signo Vinces ("By this sign you will conquer'). Tradition recounts that Constantine, deferring to this celestial portent, ordered the shields of his troops hastily emblazoned with the Christian monogram the Greek letter Chi Rho, the first two letters of the word "Christos'. As a result Constantine's victory over Maxentius at Milvian Bridge came to represent a miraculous triumph of Christianity over paganism. This, then, is the popular Church tradition, on the basis of which Constantine is often thought to have "converted the Roman Empire to Christianity'. In actual fact, however, Constantine did no such thing. But in order to decide precisely what he did do, we must examine the evidence more closely.

In the first place Constantine's "conversion' if that is the appropriate word does not seem to have been Christian at all but unabashedly pagan. He appears to have had some sort of vision, or numinous experience, in the precincts of a pagan temple to the Gallic Apollo, either in the Vosges or near Autun. According to a witness accompanying Constantine's army at the time, the vision was of the sun god the deity worshipped by certain cults under the name of "Sol Invictus', "the Invincible Sun'. There is evidence that Constantine, just before his vision, had been initiated into a Sol Invictus cult. In any case the Roman Senate, after the Battle of Milvian Bridge, erected a triumphal arch in the Colosseum. According to the inscription on this arch, Constantine's victory was won "through the prompting of the Deity'. But the Deity in question was not Jesus. It was Sol Invictus, the pagan sun god.

Contrary to tradition, Constantine did not make Christianity the official state religion of Rome. The state religion of Rome under Constantine was, in fact, pagan sun worship; and Constantine, all his life, acted as its chief priest. Indeed his reign was called a "sun emperorship" and Sol Invictus figured everywhere including the imperial banners and the coinage of the realm. The image of Constantine as a fervent convert to Christianity is clearly wrong. He himself was not even baptised until 337 when he lay on his deathbed and was apparently too weakened or too apathetic to protest.

Nor can he be credited with the Chi Rho monogram. An inscription bearing this monogram was found on a tomb at Pompeii, dating from two and a half centuries before. The cult of Sol Invictus was Syrian in origin and imposed by Roman emperors on their subjects a century before Constantine. Although it contained elements of Baal and Astarte worship, it was essentially monotheistic. In effect, it posited the sun god as the sum of all attributes of all other gods, and thus peacefully subsumed its potential rivals. Moreover, it conveniently harmonised with the cult of Mithras which was also prevalent in Rome and the empire at the time, and which also involved solar worship.

For Constantine the cult of Sol Invictus was, quite simply, expedient. His primary, indeed obsessive, objective was unity unity in politics, in religion and in territory. A cult, or state religion, that included all other cults within it obviously abetted this objective. And it was under the auspices of the Sol Invictus cult that Christianity consolidated its position. Christian orthodoxy had much in common with the cult of Sol Invictus; and thus the former was able to flourish unmolested under the taller's umbrella of tolerance. The cult of Sol Invictus, being essentially monotheistic, paved the way for the monotheism of Christianity. And the cult of Sol Invictus was convenient in other respects as well -respects which both modified and facilitated the spread of Christianity.

By an edict promulgated in A.D. 321, for example, Constantine ordered the law courts closed on `the venerable day of the sun', and decreed that this day be a day of rest. Christianity had hitherto held the Jewish Sabbath Saturday as sacred. Now, in accordance with Constantine's edict, it transferred its sacred day to Sunday. This not only brought it into harmony with the existing regime, but also permitted it to further dissociate itself from its Judaic origins.

Until the fourth century, moreover, Jesus's birthday had been celebrated on January 6th. For the cult of Sol Invictus, however, the crucial day of the year was December 25th the festival of Natalis Invictus, the birth (or rebirth) of the sun, when the days began to grow longer. In this respect, too, Christianity brought itself into alignment with the regime and the established state religion. The cult of Sol Invictus meshed happily with that of Mithras so much so, indeed, that the two are often confused. Both emphasised the status of the sun. Both held Sunday as sacred. Both celebrated a major birth festival on December 25th. As a result Christianity could also find points of convergence with Mithraism the more so as Mithraism stressed the immortality of the soul, a future judgment and the resurrection of the dead. In the interests of unity Constantine deliberately chose to blur the distinctions between Christianity, Mithraism and Sol Invictus deliberately chose not to see any contradiction between them. Thus he tolerated the deified Jesus as the earthly manifestation of Sol Invictus. Thus he would build a Christian church and, at the same time, statues of the Mother Goddess Cybele and of Sol Invictus, the sun god the latter being an image of himself, bearing his features.

In such eclectic and ecumenical gestures, the emphasis on unity can be seen again. Faith, in short, was for Constantine a political matter; and any faith that was conducive to unity was treated with forbearance. While Constantine was not, therefore, the "good Christian' that later tradition depicts, he consolidated, in the name of unity and uniformity, the status of Christian orthodoxy. In A.D. 325, for example, he convened the Council of Nicea. At this council the dating of Easter was established. Rules were framed which defined the, authority of bishops, thereby paving the way for a concentration of power in ecclesiastical hands. Most important of all, the Council of Nicea decided, by vote, that Jesus was a god, not a mortal prophet. Again, however, it must be emphasised that Constantine's paramount consideration was not piety but unity and expediency. As a god Jesus could be associated conveniently with Sol Invictus. As a mortal prophet he would have been more difficult to accommodate.

In short, Christian orthodoxy lent itself to a politically desirable fusion with the official state religion; and in so far as it did so Constantine conferred his support upon Christian orthodoxy. Thus, a year after the Council of Nicea, he sanctioned the confiscation and destruction of all works that challenged orthodox teachings works by pagan authors that referred to Jesus, as well as works by "heretical' Christians. He also arranged for a fixed income to be allocated to the Church and installed the bishop of Rome in the Lateran Palaces Then, in A.D. 331, he commissioned and financed new copies of the Bible.

This constituted one of the single most decisive factors in the entire history of Christianity, and provided Christian orthodoxy the "adherents of the message' with an unparalleled opportunity. In A.D. 303, a quarter of a century before, the pagan Emperor Diocletian had undertaken to destroy all Christian writings that could be found. As a result Christian documents especially in Rome all but vanished. When Constantine, commissioned new versions of these documents, it enabled the custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit and re-write their material as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets. It was at this point that most of the crucial alterations in the New Testament were probably made, and Jesus assumed the unique status he has enjoyed ever since. The importance of Constantine's commission must not be underestimated. Of the five thousand extant early manuscript versions of the New Testament, not one pre-dates the fourth century." The New Testament, as it exists today, is essentially a product of fourth-century editors and writers custodians of orthodoxy, "adherents of the message', with vested interests to protect.

[Source: Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln - Holy Blood, Holy Grail]

Faking Crucifixion

The King of Jews
During his interview with Pilate, Jesus is repeatedly called "King of the Jews". In accordance with Pilate's instructions, an inscription of this title is also affixed to the cross. As Professor S. G. F. Brandon of Manchester University argues, the inscription affixed to the cross must be regarded as genuine as much so as anything in the New Testament. In the first place it figures, with virtually no variation, in all four Gospels. In the second place it is too compromising, too embarrassing an episode for subsequent editors to have invented it. In the Gospel of Mark, Pilate, after interrogating Jesus, asks the assembled dignitaries, "What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?" (Mark 15:12) This would seem to indicate that at least some Jews do actually refer to Jesus as their king. At the same time, however, in all four Gospels Pilate also accords Jesus that title. There is no reason to suppose that he does so ironically or derisively. In the Fourth Gospel he insists on it quite adamantly and seriously, despite a chorus of protests. In the three Synoptic Gospels, moreover, Jesus himself acknowledged his claim to the title: "And Pilate asked him. Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it." (Mark 15:2) In the English translation this reply may sound ambivalent perhaps deliberately so. In the original Greek, however, its import is quite unequivocal. It can only be interpreted as "Thou hast spoken correctly". And thus the phrase is interpreted whenever it appears elsewhere in the Bible.

The Gospels were composed during and after the revolt of A.D. 68-74, when Judaism had effectively ceased to exist as an organised social, political and military force. What is more, the Gospels were composed for a Greco-Roman audience for whom they had, of necessity, to be made acceptable. Rome had just fought a bitter and costly war against the Jews. In consequence it was perfectly natural to cast the Jews in the role of villains. In the wake of the Judaean revolt, moreover, Jesus could not possibly be portrayed as a political figure a figure in any way linked to the agitation which culminated in the war. Finally the role of the Romans in Jesus's trial and execution had to be whitewashed and presented as sympathetically as possible. Thus Pilate is depicted in the Gospels as a decent, responsible and tolerant man, who consents only reluctantly to the Crucifixion." But despise these liberties taken with history, Rome's true position in the affair can be discerned.

According to the Gospels, Jesus is initially condemned by the Sanhedrin the Council of Jewish Elders who then bring him to Pilate and beseech the Procurator to pronounce against him. Historically this makes no sense at all. In the three Synoptic Gospels Jesus is arrested and condemned by the Sanhedrin on the night of the Passover. But by Judaic law the Sanhedrin was forbidden to meet over the Passover. In the Gospels Jesus's arrest and trial occur at night, before the Sanhedrin. By Judaic law the Sanhedrin was forbidden to meet at night, in private houses, or anywhere outside the precincts of the Temple. In the Gospels the Sanhedrin is apparently un authorised to pass a death sentence and this would ostensibly be the reason for bringing Jesus to Pilate. However, the Sanhedrin was authorised to pass death sentences by stoning, if not by crucifixion. If the Sanhedrin had wished to dispose of Jesus, therefore, it could have sentenced him to death by stoning on its own authority. There would have been no need to bother Pilate at all.

There are numerous other attempts by the authors of the Gospels to transfer guilt and responsibility from Rome. One such is Pilate's apparent offer of a dispensation his readiness to free a prisoner of the crowd's choosing. According to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, this was a "custom of the Passover festival'. In fact it was no such thing. Modern authorities agree that no such policy ever existed on the part of the Romans, and that the offer to liberate either Jesus or Barabbas is sheer fiction. Pilate's reluctance to condemn Jesus, and his grudging submission to the bullying pressure of the mob, would seem to be equally fictitious. In reality it would have been unthinkable for a Roman Procurator and especially a Procurator as ruthless as Pilate to bow to the pressure of a mob. Again, the purpose of such fictionalisation is clear enough to exonerate the Romans, to transfer blame to the Jews and thereby to make Jesus acceptable to a Roman audience.

It is possible, of course, that not all Jews were entirely innocent. Even if the Roman administration feared a priest-king with a claim to the throne, it could not embark overtly on acts of provocation acts that might precipitate a full-scale rebellion. Certainly it would have been more expedient for Rome if the priest-king were ostensibly betrayed by his own people. It is thus conceivable that the Romans employed certain Sadducees as, say, agents provocateurs. But even if this were the case, the inescapable fact remains that Jesus was the victim of a Roman administration, a Roman court, a Roman sentence, Roman soldiery and a Roman execution an execution which, in form, was reserved exclusively for enemies of Rome. It was not for crimes against Judaism that Jesus was crucified, but for crimes against the empire.

Who Was Barabbas?
Is there any evidence in the Gospels that Jesus actually did have children? There is nothing explicit. But rabbis were expected, as a matter of course, to have children; and if Jesus was a rabbi, it would have been most unusual for him to remain childless. Indeed, it would have been unusual for him to remain childless whether he was a rabbi or not. Granted, these arguments, in themselves, do not constitute any positive evidence. But there is evidence of a more concrete, more specific kind.

It consists of the elusive individual who figures in the Gospels as Barabbas, or, to be more precise, as Jesus Barabbas for it is by this name that he is identified in the Gospel of Matthew. If nothing else, the coincidence is striking. Modern scholars are uncertain about the derivation and meaning of "Barabbas'. "Jesus Barabbas' may be a corruption of "Jesus Berabbi'. "Berabbi' was a title reserved for the highest and most esteemed rabbis and was placed after the rabbi's given name. "Jesus Berabbi' might therefore refer to Jesus himself. Alternatively, "Jesus Barabbas' might originally have been "Jesus bar Rabbi' - "Jesus, son of the Rabbi'. There is no record anywhere of Jesus's own father having been a rabbi. But if Jesus had a son named after himself, that son would indeed have been "Jesus bar Rabbi'. There is one other possibility as well. "Jesus Barabbas' may derive from "Jesus bar Abba'; and since "Abba' is "father' in Hebrew, "Barabbas' would then mean "son of the father' - a fairly pointless designation unless the "father' is in some way special. If the "father' were actually the "Heavenly Father', then "Barabbas' might again refer to Jesus himself. On the other hand, if Jesus himself is the "father', "Barabbas' would again refer to his son.

Whatever the meaning and derivation of the name, the figure of Barabbas is extremely curious. And the more one considers the incident concerning him, the more apparent it becomes that something irregular is going on and someone is attempting to conceal something. In the first place Barabbas's name, like the Magdalene's, seems to have been subjected to a deliberate and systematic blackening. Just as popular tradition depicts the Magdalene as a harlot, so it depicts Barabbas as a "thief'. But if Barabbas was any of the things his name suggests, he is hardly likely to have been a common thief. Why then blacken his name? Unless he was something else in reality something which the editors of the New Testament did not want posterity to know. Strictly speaking the Gospels themselves do not describe Barabbas as a thief. According to Mark and Luke he is a political prisoner, a rebel charged with murder and insurrection. In the Gospel of Matthew, however, Barabbas is described as a "notable prisoner'. And in the Fourth Gospel Barabbas is said to be (in the Greek) a les-tai (John 18:40) This can be translated as either "robber' or "bandit'. In its historical context, however, it meant something quite different. Lestes was in
fact the term habitually applied by the Romans to the Zealots, the militant nationalistic revolutionaries who for some time had been fomenting social upheaval. Since Mark and Luke agree that Barabbas is guilty of insurrection, and since Matthew does not contradict this assertion, it is safe to conclude that Barabbas was a Zealot.

But this is not the only information available on Barabbas. According to Luke, he had been involved in a recent "disturbance', "sedition' or "riot' in the city. History makes no mention of any such turmoil in Jerusalem at the time. The Gospels, however, do. According to the Gospels, there had been a civic disturbance in Jerusalem, only a few days before when Jesus and his followers overturned the tables of the money-lenders at the Temple. Was this the disturbance in which Barabbas was involved, and for which he was imprisoned? It certainly seems likely. And in that case there is one obvious conclusion that Barabbas was one of Jesus's entourage. According to modern scholars, the "custom' of releasing a prisoner on the Passover did not exist. But even if it did, the choice of Barabbas over Jesus would make no sense. If Barabbas were indeed a common criminal, guilty of murder, why would the people choose to have his life spared? And if he were indeed a Zealot or a revolutionary, it is hardly likely that Pilate would have released so potentially dangerous a character, rather than a harmless visionary who was quite prepared, ostensibly, to "render unto Caesar'. Of all the discrepancies, inconsistencies and improbabilities in the Gospels, the choice of Barabbas is among the most striking and most inexplicable. Something would clearly seem to lie behind so clumsy and confusing a fabrication.

One modern writer has proposed an intriguing and plausible explanation. He suggests that Barabbas was the son of Jesus and Jesus a legitimate king. If this were the case, the choice of Barabbas would suddenly make sense. One must imagine an oppressed populace confronted with the imminent extermination of their spiritual and political ruler the Messiah, whose advent had formerly promised so much. In such circumstances, would not the dynasty be more important than the individual? Would not the preservation of the bloodline be paramount, taking precedence over everything else? Would not a people, faced with the dreadful choice, prefer to see their king sacrificed in order that his offspring and his line might survive? If the line survived, there would at least be hope for the future. It is certainly not impossible that Barabbas was Jesus's son. Jesus is generally believed to have been born around 6 sc. The Crucifixion occurred no later than A.D. 36, which would make Jesus, at most, forty-two years of age. But even if he was only thirty-three when he died, he might still have fathered a son. In accordance with the customs of the time, he might have married as early as sixteen or seventeen. Yet even if he did not marry until aged twenty, he might still have had a son aged thirteen who, by Judaic custom, would have been considered a man. And, of course, there may well have been other children too. Such children could have been conceived at any point up to within a day or so of the Crucifixion.

The Crucifixion in Detail
Jesus could well have sired a number of children prior to the Crucifjxion. If he survived the Crucifixion, however, the likelihood of offspring would be still further increased. Is there any evidence that Jesus did indeed survive the Crucifixion or that the Crucifixion was in some way a fraud?

Given the portrait of him in the Gospels, it is inexplicable that Jesus was crucified at all. According to the Gospels, his enemies were the established Jewish interests in Jerusalem. But such enemies, if they in fact existed, could have stoned him to death of their own accord and on their own authority, without involving Rome in the matter. According to the Gospels, Jesus had no particular quarrel with Rome and did not violate Roman law. And yet he was punished by the Romans, in accordance with Roman law and Roman procedures. And he was punished by crucifixion a penalty exclusively reserved for those guilty of crimes against the empire. If Jesus was indeed crucified, he cannot have been as apolitical as the Gospels depict him. On the contrary, he must, of necessity, have done something to provoke Roman as opposed to Jewish wrath.

Whatever the trespasses for which Jesus was crucified, his apparent death on the cross is fraught with inconsistencies. There is, quite simply, no reason why his Crucifixion, as the Gospels depict it, should have been. fatal. The contention that it was warrants closer scrutiny.

The Roman practice of crucifixion adhered to very precise procedures. After sentence a victim would be flogged and consequently weakened by loss of blood. His outstretched arms would then be fastened usually by thongs but sometimes by nails to a heavy wooden beam placed horizontally across his neck and shoulders. Bearing this beam, he would then be led to the place of execution. Here, with the victim hanging from it, the beam would be raised and attached to a vertical post or stake. Hanging thus from his hands, it would be impossible for the victim to breathe unless his feet were also fixed to the cross, thus enabling him to press down on them and relieve the pressure on his chest. But, despite the agony, a man suspended with his feet fixed and especially a fit and healthy man would usually survive for at least a day or two. Indeed, the victim would often take as much as a week to die from exhaustion, from thirst, or, if nails were used, from blood poisoning. The attenuated agony could be terminated more quickly by breaking the victim's legs or knees which, in the Gospels, Jesus's executioners are about to do before they are forestalled. Breaking of the legs or knees was not an additional sadistic torment. On the contrary, it was an act of mercy a coup de grace which caused a very rapid death. With nothing to support him, the pressure on the victim's chest would become intolerable, and he would quickly asphyxiate.

There is consensus among modern scholars that only the Fourth Gospel rests on an eyewitness account of the Crucifixion. According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus's feet were affixed to the cross thus relieving the pressure on his chest muscles and his legs were not broken. He should therefore, in theory at least, have survived for a good two or three days. And yet he is on the cross for no more than a few hours before being pronounced dead. In the Gospel of Mark, even Pilate is astonished by the rapidity with which death occurs (Mark 15:44). What can have constituted the cause of death? Not the spear in his side, for the Fourth Gospel maintains that Jesus was already dead when this wound was inflicted on him. (John There is only one explanation a combination of exhaustion, fatigue, general debilitation and the trauma of the scourging. But not even these factors should have proved fatal so soon. It is possible, of course, that they did despite the laws of physiology, a man will sometimes die from a single relatively innocuous blow. But there would still seem to be something suspicious about the affair. According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus's executioners are on the verge of breaking his legs, thus accelerating his death. Why bother, if he was already moribund? There would, in short, be no point in breaking Jesus's legs unless death were not in fact imminent.

In the Gospels Jesus's death occurs at a moment that is almost too convenient, too felicitously opportune. It occurs just in time to prevent his executioners breaking his legs. And by doing so, it permits him to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy. Modern authorities agree that Jesus, quite unabashedly, modelled and perhaps contrived his life in accordance with such prophecies, which heralded the coming of a Messiah. It was for this reason that an ass had to be procured from Bethany on which he could make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And the details of the Crucifixion seem likewise engineered to enact the prophecies of the Old Testament. In short Jesus's apparent and opportune demise which in the nick of time, saves him from certain death and enables him to fulfill a prophecy is, to say the least, suspect. It is too perfect, too precise to be coincidence. It must either be a later interpolation after the fact, or part of a carefully contrived plan. There is much additional evidence to suggest the latter.

In the Fourth Gospel Jesus, hanging on the cross, declares that he thirsts. In reply to this complaint he is proffered a sponge allegedly soaked in vinegar an incident that also occurs in the other Gospels. This sponge is generally interpreted as another act of sadistic derision. But was it really? Vinegar or soured wine is a temporary stimulant, with effects not unlike smelling salts. It was often used at the time to resuscitate flagging slaves on galleys. For a wounded and exhausted man, a sniff or taste of vinegar would induce a restorative effect, a momentary surge of energy. And yet in Jesus's case the effect is just the contrary. No sooner does he inhale or taste the sponge then he pronounces his final words and "gives up the ghost'. Such a reaction to vinegar is physiologically inexplicable. On the other hand such a reaction would be perfectly compatible with a sponge soaked not in vinegar, but in some type of soporific drug a compound of opium and/or belladonna, for instance, commonly employed in the Middle East at the time. But why proffer a soporific drug? Unless the act of doing so, along with all the other components of the Crucifixion, were elements of a complex and ingenious stratagem a stratagem designed to produce a semblance of death when the victim, in fact, was still alive. Such a stratagem would not only have saved Jesus's life, but also have realised the Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah. There are other anomalous aspects of the Crucifixion which point to precisely such a stratagem.

According to the Gospels Jesus is crucified at a place called Golgotha, "the place of the skull'. Later tradition attempts to identify Golgotha as a barren, more or less skull-shaped hill to the north-west of Jerusalem. And yet the Gospels themselves make it clear that the site of the Crucifixion is very different from a barren skull-shaped hill. The Fourth Gospel is most explicit on the matter: "Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid." (John 19:41) Jesus, then, was crucified not on a barren skull-shaped hill, nor, for that matter, in any "public place of execution'. He was crucified in or immediately adjacent to a garden containing a private tomb. According to Matthew (27:60) this tomb and garden were the personal property of Joseph of Arimathea who, according to all four Gospels, was both a man of wealth and a secret disciple of Jesus. Popular tradition depicts the Crucifixion as a large scale public affair, accessible to the multitude and attended by a cast of thousands. And yet the Gospels themselves suggest very different circumstances. According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the Crucifixion is witnessed by most people, including the women, from "afar off' (Luke 23:49). It would thus seem clear that Jesus's death was not a public event, but a private one a private crucifixion performed on private property. A number of modern scholars argue that the actual site was probably the Garden of Gethsemane. If Gethsemane were indeed the private land of one of Jesus's secret disciples, this would explain why Jesus, prior to the Crucifixion, could make such free use of the place." Needless to say a private crucifixion on private property leaves considerable room for a hoax a mock crucifixion, a skilfully stage-managed ritual. There would have been only a few eye-witnesses immediately present. To the general populace the drama would only have been visible, as the Synoptic Gospels confirm, from some distance. And from such a distance, it would not have been apparent who in fact was being crucified. Or if he was actually dead.

Such a charade would, of course, have necessitated some connivance and collusion on the part of Pontius Pilate or of someone influential in the Roman administration. And indeed such connivance and collusion is highly probable. Granted, Pilate was a cruel and tyrannical man. But he was also corrupt and susceptible to bribes. The historical Pilate, as opposed to the one depicted in the Gospels, would not have been above sparing Jesus's life in exchange for a sizeable sum of money and perhaps a guarantee of no further political agitation. Whatever his motivation, there is, in any case, no question that Pilate is somehow intimately involved in the affair. He acknowledges Jesus's claim as "King of the Jews'. He also expresses, or feigns to express, surprise that Jesus's death occurs as quickly as it apparently does. And, perhaps most important of all, he grants Jesus's body to Joseph of Arimatheea.

According to Roman law at the time, a crucified man was denied all burial. Indeed guards were customarily posted to prevent relatives or friends removing the bodies of the dead. The victim would simply be left on the cross, at the mercy of the elements and carrion birds. Yet Pilate, in a flagrant breach of procedure, readily grants Jesus's body to Joseph of Arimathea. This clearly attests to some complicity on Pilate's part. And it may attest to other things as well.

In English translations of Mark's Gospel Joseph asks Pilate for Jesus's body. Pilate expresses surprise that Jesus is dead, checks with a centurion, then, satisfied, consents to Joseph's request. This would appear straightforward enough at first glance; but in the original Greek version of Mark's Gospel, the matter becomes rather more complicated. In the Greek version when Joseph asks for Jesus's body, he uses the word "soma" - a word applied only to a living body. Pilate, assenting to the request, employs the word "ptoma" - which means "corpse". According to the Greek, then, Joseph explicitly asks for a living body and Pilate grants him what he thinks, or pretends to think, is a dead one. Given the prohibition against burying crucified men, it is also extraordinary that Joseph receives any body at all. On what grounds does he receive it? What claim does he have to Jesus's body? If he was a secret disciple, he could hardly plead any claim without disclosing his secret discipleship unless Pilate was already aware of it, or unless there was some other factor involved which militated in Joseph's favour.

There is little information about Joseph of Arimathea. The Gospels report only that he was a secret disciple of Jesus, possessed great wealth and belonged to the Sanhedrin the Council of Elders which ruled the Judaic community of Jerusalem under Roman auspices. It would thus seem apparent that Joseph was an influential man. And this conclusion receives confirmation from his dealings with Pilate, and from the fact that he possesses a tract of land with a private tomb. Medieval tradition portrays Joseph of Arimathea as a custodian of the Holy Grail; and Perceval is said to be of his lineage. According to other later traditions, he is in some way related by blood to Jesus and Jesus's family. If this was indeed the case, it would, at very least, have furnished him with some plausible claim to Jesus's body -for while Pilate would hardly grant the corpse of an executed criminal to a random stranger, he might well do so, with the incentive of a bribe, to the dead man's kin. If Joseph - a wealthy and influential member of the Sanhedrin was indeed Jesus's kin, he bears further testimony to Jesus's aristocratic pedigree. And if he was Jesus's kin, his association with the Holy Grail the "blood royal' would be all the more explicable.

[...]One such work is the Gospel of Peter, a copy of which was first located in a valley of the upper Nile in 1886, although it is mentioned by the bishop of Antioch in A.D. 180. According to this "apocryphal' Gospel, Joseph of Arimathea was a close friend of Pontius Pilate which, if true, would increase the likelihood of a fraudulent Crucifixion. The Gospel of Peter also reports that the tomb in which Jesus was buried lay in a place called "the garden of Joseph'. And Jesus's last words on the cross are particularly striking: "My power, my power, why hast thou forsaken Me?

[...] The third major heresiarch of the period and in many ways the most intriguing was Basilides, an Alexandrian scholar writing between nD.120 and 130. Basilides was conversant with both Hebrew scriptures and Christian Gospels. He was also steeped in Egyptian and Hellenistic thought. He is supposed to have written no less than twenty-four commentaries on the Gospels. According to Irenaeus, he promulgated a most heinous heresy indeed. Basilides claimed that the Crucifixion was a fraud, that Jesus did not die on the cross, and that a substitute Simon of Cyrene took his place instead. Such an assertion would seem to be bizarre. And yet it has proved to be extraordinarily persistent and tenacious. As late as the seventh century-the Koran maintained precisely the same argument that a substitute, traditionally Simon of Cyrene, took Jesus's place on the cross.

[...]In one [Nag Hammadi] undated codex, for example, the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, [Jesus talks of] escaping his death on the cross by dint of an ingenious substitution. In the following extract, Jesus speaks in the first person: I did not succumb to them as they had planned ... And I did not die in reality but in appearance, lest I be put to shame by them ... For my death which they think happened [happened] to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death ... It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns ... And I was laughing at their ignorance".

[Source: Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln - Holy Blood, Holy Grail]