Jesus Christ is the central figure of Christianity. Christians accept Jesus Christ as the literal Son of God sent into the world by God to sacrifice himself for the sins of the world.
2. THE HOLY BIBLE
The Holy Bible is the scripture that Christians believe to be the inspired or revealed Word of God. The Holy Bible has two sections: The Old Testament and The New Testament, both containing books. The Old Testament is considered by Christians to be the God-inspired writings composed before the coming of Christ. The New Testament is considered by Christians to be the God-inspired writings composed since the coming of Christ. The four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—located within the New Testament are considered within the Christian world to offer the most definitive accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, especially the first three Gospels. Though Christians accept the Old Testament as divinely inspired, the New Testament represents the primary and most important part of the Bible to them.
Christians view the coming of Jesus Christ as a fulfillment of the entire Old Testament and of all the prophets. He is believed to be the long-awaited Messiah who was spoken of by Old Testament prophets. So Christians view Jesus Christ as the literal fulfillment of all religious history. Note that since Christianity is rooted in the Old Testament, known within Judaism as the Tanach (which includes the Torah, the first five books of Moses), and since its followers consider the Old Testament to be one part of the word of God (the New Testament being the other part), its view of religious history begins in the first book of the Tanach, Genesis. This is precisely where religious history begins within Judaism.
Aside from these accepted books of the New Testament, there are other books that purport to contain authentic information about Jesus Christ and his teachings. And there are also other rejected books of the Old Testament. However, as our discussion surrounds Jesus Christ, we will confine ourselves to books written after his advent. The reader should not assume the following to be a complete coverage of the subject of the books of the Bible or the compilations of the books of the Bible.
3. OXYRHYNCHUS PAPYRUS
In 1897, Bernard P. Grenfeld and Arthur S. Hunt discovered some fragmentary sayings of Jesus Christ on parchment leaves, written on both sides, in extremely small text. These were discovered at a placed called Oxyrhynchus, now called Behnesa. These fragments contain some sayings from the The Gospel of Thomas and, as such, are considered apocryphal (i.e., of doubtful authenticity by Church authorities) because they do not conform to the generally accepted Gospel texts. Some suggest that the Gnostic Christians (see “Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library” ) who hid these fragments did so for fear of persecution and that the authorities would destroy their texts.
4. THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
The scrolls were discovered in a group of caves near Khirbat Qumran in Jordan, at the northwestern end of the Dead Sea, in the year 1947 by an Arab shepherd boy. Further scrolls were discovered between the years 1947 and 1956 when a thorough search was conducted of the local caves. Altogether, 600 Hebrew and Aramaic scrolls, of leather and papyrus, were found. These texts are said to date from between 200 BC and 100 AD, and were written, it is believed, by a previously unknown Jewish brotherhood that established itself at a place called Qumran. The scrolls include instructions regarding the brotherhood’s disciplinary code, commentaries on the Bible, hymnals, writings about the apocalypse, parts of every book of the Old Testament (except Esther), copies of the Book of Isaiah, a number of books of the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigraph (Tobit, Sirach, Jubilees, portions of Enoch, and the Testament of Levi), none of which, incidentally, had been included in the Hebrew canon of the Bible. (For more elaboration on the Dead Sea Scrolls see Saving the Savior).
5. THE SECRET GOSPEL
This Gospel was discovered in 1958 by Dr. Morton Smith in Mar Saba, near Jerusalem. Dr. Smith had been invited to the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Saba to catalogue its collection of manuscripts. While searching through this material, he came across a letter from Clement of Alexandria to Theodore. The letter mentioned a secret gospel of Mark that contained certain additions for special followers of Jesus Christ. Clement says in the letter that this version of Mark, which is followed by the Carpocratian sect, is “more spiritual.” Dr. Smith postulated that the quotations in the letter were most probably from the original Aramaic version of Mark’s Gospel.
6. THE NAZARENES (THE EBIONITES)
“Nazarenes,” or “Ebionites,” were the name of the very early Christians, and included the relatives and disciples of Jesus Christ. They were, in short, the first followers of Jesus. The Nazarenes did not consider Jesus Christ to be the Son of God in the sense that Christians of today understand that title. They often referred to him as the “son of man.” With regard to the title, “son of God,” the Nazarenes understood that title to refer to Jesus’ spiritual state, in that he had totally submitted to God and, thus, become a “son” of God. This may, indeed, explain why other characters in the Old Testament are also referred to as “son of God.”
We hope the reader fully understands that what we have presented here is an overview. The history of the compilation of the books of the Bible, as well as the subject of its source documents, is massive. My goal is to offer enough to whet your appetite and provide the menu to do further research on this important figure in religious history, Jesus Christ. Hence, you have seen a small sampling of documents within orthodox Christian doctrinal tradition that mention Jesus Christ. You have also been exposed to several of the non-canonical Christian documents—some of which can be dated back as far as any of the books of the New Testament —that offer an alternative view of Jesus Christ and his mission.
Who was Jesus Christ? Was he the Son of God, as orthodox Christianity teaches? Was he the Prophet-Messiah sent only to the Israelites, as the Nazarene/ Ebionite Christians and others believed? Or was he a religious revolutionary intent upon bringing the Kingdom of God down to earth to the people as a personal experience, as the Gnostic Christians believed?
"No man can serve two masters"
In this link we will cover the controversies within Christianity surrounding what its scholars term the historicity of Jesus Christ. In short, Christian scholars are attempting to determine which parts of the New Testament truly describe Jesus, the man, a real figure of history, and which parts fall under the category sometimes referred to as the pious embellishments of the Gospel writers.
The current debate within Christianity parallels the threats coming from outside Christianity to at least three of the following doctrines:
1. That Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind
2. That Jesus Christ rose from the dead as a sign of his power over death in his capacity as the God, the Son
3. That Jesus Christ ascended into heaven
4. That Jesus Christ will return in the last days to set up the long-awaited Christian Kingdom of God.
The debate over Jesus as a simple human being versus Jesus as the Son of God, or God Himself, is occurring both inside and outside of Christianity. The commonality between the debates inside and the debates outside of Christianity is that both are rooted in the subject of Jesus’ divinity or lack thereof.
2. THE DEBATE
John Shelby Spong, otherwise known as Jack Spong, is a controversial Episcopalian priest. Spong and other Christian revisionist scholars are characterized by mainstream Christians as radicals.
Spong’s 1998 book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, is extremely popular. Spong’s views are fairly well summarized in the following quotes. (To read his entire call for a new Reformation of the Church, click here).
“The [Protestant] Reformation was not an attempt to reformulate the Christian faith for a new era. It was rather a battle over issues of Church order. The time had not arrived in which Christians would be required to rethink the basic and identifying marks of Christianity itself.”
Then he goes on to present his call for a Reformation of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity (emphasis is ours):
“It is my conviction that such a moment is facing the Christian world today. The very heart and soul of Christianity will be the content of this reformation. The debate which has been building for centuries has now erupted into public view. All the past ecclesiastical efforts to keep it at bay or deny its reality have surely failed and will continue to do so. The need for a new theological reformation began when Copernicus and Galileo removed this planet from its previous supposed location at the center of the universe, where human life was thought to bask under the constant attention of a humanly defined parental deity. That revolution in thought produced an angle of vision radically different from the one in which the Bible was written and through which the primary theological tenets of the Christian faith were formed...”
“My sense is that history has come to a point where only one thing will save this venerable faith tradition at this critical time in Christian history, and that is a new Reformation far more radical than Christianity has ever before known and that this Reformation must deal with the very substance of that faith. This Reformation will recognize that the pre-modern concepts in which Christianity has traditionally been carried will never again speak to the post-modern world we now inhabit. This Reformation will be about the very life and death of Christianity. Because it goes to the heart of how Christianity is to be understood, it will dwarf in intensity the Reformation of the 16th century. It will not be concerned about authority, ecclesiastical polity, valid ordinations and valid sacraments. It will be rather a Reformation that will examine the very nature of the Christian faith itself. It will ask whether or not this ancient religious system can be refocused and re-articulated so as to continue living in this increasingly non-religious world...”
“I will publish this challenge to Christianity in The Voice. I will post my theses on the Internet and send copies with invitations to debate them to the recognized Christian leaders of the world. My theses are far smaller in number than were those of Martin Luther, but they are far more threatening theologically. The issues to which I now call the Christians of the world to debate are these:
1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation [from death] occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.”
The next example comes from the Daily News, a British newspaper:
“More than half of England’s Anglican Bishops say that Christians are not obliged to believe that Jesus Christ was God, according to a survey published today. The poll of 31 of England’s 39 bishops shows that many of them think that Christ’s miracles, the virgin birth and the resurrection might not have happened exactly as described in the Bible. Only 11 of the bishops insisted that Christians must regard Christ as both God and man, while 19 said it was sufficient to regard Jesus as ‘God’s supreme agent’”
Even Christian clerics and scholars within the powerful sister-church of the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church, have been challenging the traditional Christian doctrines. Professor Thomas Sheehan is considered a brilliant scholar of Catholicism/Christianity. He views Jesus Christ as a prophet of God who came to end religion, not create religious institutions. Dr. Sheehan, who wrote the book, The First Coming, said the following at a public, 1987 colloquium in Chicago:
“Most Catholics were taught that the Gospels provided something like that, something like a film, a literal historical record of what Jesus actually said and did from his birth in Bethlehem, to his preaching, crucifixion, Resurrection, and ascension into the clouds"
“But not any more. Nowadays in an academic setting like this, no one is scandalized when Roman Catholic biblical scholars tell them that Jesus was probably not born in Bethlehem, was not visited by three wise men, did not get lost in the temple, that he did not say that he was God, that he did not physically come back to life on Easter Sunday morning three days after he died, and that his dramatic ascension into heaven, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, was not an historical event.” (To read the full text of Sheehan’s response, click here)
Sheehan says (emphasis ours):
“Fifth, who did Jesus claim to be? Negatively, we may say with certainty, that he made no claims to be God’s son. Very few Gospel sayings in which Jesus calls himself the Son have much chance of being authentic. The only one which we may be sure of is the one where he says, ‘I do not know anything about the end of the world.”
“What historical data, since that is what we are looking for, do we have about Easter Sunday? What about the Resurrection? Negatively, we must say that the Gospel narratives of Easter are not records of historical events...”
“…The word ‘resurrection’ is metaphoric. The Greek verb to resurrect someone means to wake them up from sleep. Transposed in the New Testament, resurrection means to awaken someone from the sleep of death, the ultimate night, and to bring them into the day of the Lord. Now that is not an event in space and time. It does not mean coming back to life like Lazarus. Rather, it means that who you are is definitely rescued by God and validated in his presence, with no commitment at all to the preternatural physics of how that happened.”
Regarding the purpose of Jesus’ advent, Sheehan states:
“In any case, the parousia or definitive coming of God among humankind, which Jesus proclaimed, had already begun, according to him. Now this does in fact mean the end of religious mediation, because it means the fulfillment and therefore surpassing of religion with the presence of God."
“‘The bridegroom is with them,’ we read in Mark. The phrase, ‘the end of religion,’ affirms the perfecting of the human relation to God in an intimacy and an immediacy that always remains mystery. That is why Saint John can say, again in the Book of Revelation, ‘I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God and the Lamb are its temple.’ That I maintain was the passionate excitement of Jesus’ message: not more religion, or a different religion, or a better religion, or the true and perfect religion, but no religion. In the Kingdom of heaven, there are no sacraments, no priests, no Scriptures, no rituals, no hierarchy, no Codes of Canon Law.”
Sheehan openly admits that Christian scholars have hidden this opinion regarding Christ as human, Christ as prophet, from the ordinary Christians (the laity), and he called it a scandal:
“Nonetheless, there is a scandal about Catholic exegesis, a threefold scandal, I think. First of all, it is a scandal that so little of this exegetical information has reached down to the laity in the pews. Just the other day, believe it or not, one of my colleagues, one of the brightest members of the faculty, I think, told me and allowed me to tell you that up until very recently, he actually thought that for Christians the Resurrection of Jesus meant that he came back to life in the sense of being reanimated and resuscitated on Easter Sunday morning.
“A second and greater scandal is that the news apparently has not reached even some Catholic theologians, so that at some universities (not at Loyola) they still teach pre-Copernican Theology courses that insist on the historicity of the events described in the Easter narratives, or otherwise fudge the matter a bit.”
The following short excerpt, taken from the opening remarks of Jesus Seminar founder Robert Funk, presented at the Seminar’s first meeting, March 21-24, 1985 in Berkeley, California, serves to powerfully highlight the intense importance of this subject in the eyes of Christian religious academia:
“Make no mistake: there is widespread and passionate interest in this issue, even among those uninitiated in the higher mysteries of gospel scholarship. The religious establishment has not allowed the intelligence of high scholarship to pass through pastors and priests to a hungry laity, and the radio and TV counterparts of educated clergy have traded in platitudes and pieties and played on the ignorance of the uninformed. A rude and rancorous awakening lies ahead.”
“If he [Jesus] were to return today, as he was alive once, would he recognize in Christianity the fulfillment of his message? I think the answer is, ‘No.’ Not as an institution—who wants to do away with the institution? Not I. But I am talking about the christological affirmations”
“There are many interpretations of the meaning of Jesus. There are official Roman Catholic interpretations, based not simply on historical data in the New Testament, but on two thousand years of official teaching, official statements, and development of doctrine. There are also Protestant and Jewish and Islamic interpretations, and yet even Marxist ones. Jesus is now a public text disseminated into a plurality of interpretations.”
So, in summary, we have presented three examples—all current—from three different Christian congregations: the Episcopalians (John Shelby Spong), the Catholics (Dr. Thomas Sheehan), and the bishops of the Anglican church. This demonstrates that, at this very moment in history, there exists a huge struggle within Christianity, and there is no longer unanimity of opinion regarding the nature of Jesus Christ or the fundamental teachings of Christianity. (For more elaboration, see Saving the Saviour ).
We now examine the debates that are occurring within the religion of Islam. Those unfamiliar with the religion of Islam might be surprised to discover that in orthodox Islam, just as in orthodox Christianity, Jesus Christ has a huge place in its religious cosmology. Because of the apocalyptic aspirations of the world’s Muslims, Jesus’ place in Islam might be second in importance only to that of Muhammad, founder of Islam. Jesus’ important role in orthodox Islam is to be found in the apocalyptic teachings of Muhammad as recorded in his sayings called hadith.
Tediously collected from researched lines of reporters, the hadith record the words, deeds and prophecies of Muhammad. Hadith are considered the third most important source of knowledge in Islam. The Holy Quran is first, and regarded by Muslims as pure Divine revelation. The sunnah, or practices of Muhammad, are considered second. As such, although not part of the Holy Quran, hadith and sunnah are given great importance and are followed and believed by orthodox and non-orthodox Muslims. There are hadith that are considered unreliable and there is an entire science of hadith dedicated to determining which hadith are reliable and which are unreliable.
It is recorded in the apocalyptic hadith that in the last days, Jesus Christ is going to return to the world along with someone named Imam Mahdi to establish the religion of Islam as the final world religion. According to the hadith, another of his principal missions will be to “break the cross.” Many orthodox Muslims take this literally. Some Muslims who are considered heterodox view the “breaking of the cross” symbolically, meaning that Jesus would somehow destroy Christianity. This is certainly not a concept that Christians could understand or accept. There are some hadith in which Muhammad seems to be saying that this final establishment of Islam by Jesus will be quite violent, with non-Muslims being forced by Jesus to accept Islam or else face death. But here again, some Muslims view these hadith as symbolic.
Parallel to the challenge presently occurring in Christianity, the orthodox Islamic belief is now being challenged, not from outside, but from within the religion of Islam, chiefly by a non-orthodox Islamic movement called the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. This group considers itself a renaissance movement in Islam that adheres to the Holy Quran, sunnah and hadith. However, some orthodox bodies of Islam, such as the Pakistan-based Jamaat-i-Islami, reject it as such. As we shall see later, aside from the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, there are now some orthodox Muslims who are also challenging the traditional interpretations of the apocalyptic utterances of Muhammad.
As the Quran has supreme authority over the hadith, the apocalyptic hadith, according to orthodox Islam, are given sanction by verses of the Quran that mention the status of Jesus Christ. With regard to Jesus’ alleged death on the cross, his status in orthodox Islam, curiously, seems almost parallel to his status within Christianity. Because, according to orthodox Islam, certain verses of the Quran indicate that Jesus was not crucified, but was bodily taken up to heaven.
Some orthodox interpretations, in fact, have proposed what is called the Substitution Theory, which states that Allah (the personal name of God in Islam) replaced Jesus with Judas (the disciple who betrayed Jesus, according to the Bible) so rapidly that the switch was not noticed. So while Judas was crucified, Jesus was taken up to heaven. In short, orthodox Islam shares Christianity’s belief in the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven. The only difference appears to be that while Christianity states that he died on the cross, went into a tomb, rose from the dead, and then rose to heaven, orthodox Islam teaches that he was taken straight up to heaven before death.
In the Muslim debates over Jesus, the precise challenge to the orthodox teachings concerning Jesus Christ starts, just as with Christianity, at the Crucifixion. Those Muslims opposed to the orthodox Islamic teachings regarding Jesus claim that he survived the Crucifixion, or at least is not living in heaven, since all prophets die according to Islam. The Ahmadiyya Movement, based principally on the deductions of its founder that Jesus lies dead in the tomb called the Roza Bal, strongly supports the theory of a post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ.
The threat is obvious, and it is the same threat that is occurring within Christianity: If Jesus is not alive in heaven, and is dead and buried in the Roza Bal, then the apocalyptic expectations of orthodox Muslims cannot be fulfilled. Throughout the centuries, Muslim children have been taught that Jesus Christ is returning to establish Islam. So, right at the beginning of our new millennium, the apocalyptic expectations of two of the world’s great religions, Christianity and Islam, threaten to be rocked by the existence of and debate over the Roza Bal.
Before continuing, I will relate a true story that demonstrates how deeply imbedded is the idea amongst orthodox Muslims that Jesus Christ and Imam Mahdi are returning to this earth. (Note there is also a debate among Muslims over whether Muhammad’s prophecies about the appearance of Jesus Christ and Imam Mahdi in the latter days refers to the appearance of one person rather than two.)
Years ago I was considering the possibility of marriage to a Lebanese Muslim woman whom I first saw at a Lebanese restaurant I frequented in Chicago. I noticed that she was in the back area speaking to the owner, George, with whom I enjoyed conversation on my weekend visits to his restaurant. George arranged for us to meet.
At one of our meetings, a news-broadcast appeared covering recent turmoil in Southern Lebanon in which Israel bombed suspected terrorist camps. As images of Israeli warplanes dropping bombs on Lebanese camps appeared on the screen, she suddenly jumped up, jabbed both her fists into the air, and shouted, “Oh my Allah! Please bring Imam Mahdi to destroy these Israelis!"
She pleaded with the Divine and shouted over and over again that He send Imam Mahdi to destroy the Israelis and establish Islam. Eventually, she ran into another room and sobbed.
After about twenty minutes, she finally calmed down and returned to the room. She apologized to me, and commenced calmly explaining about the expected appearance of Imam Mahdi and Jesus Christ. Though her voice and mannerisms were very calm, what she was stating was far from that. The appearance of Imam Mahdi and Jesus Christ would mark the establishment of Islam through force. This was my first direct experience with the power and intensity of the apocalyptic aspirations of many orthodox Muslims.
We will next examine the very interesting and raging arguments occurring within Islam over the life and death of Jesus Christ. We will also, of course, examine the verses of the Holy Quran at the center of this great controversy within Islam. We present this in great detail because we assume most people are unaware of these intricate doctrinal battles. The Christian battles are more generally known, but the same is not the case regarding the Islamic doctrinal battles.
. THE HOLY QURAN AND JESUS CHRIST
“Behold! God said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and
raise thee to Myself and clear thee of the falsehoods of those who blaspheme; I
will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the day
of Resurrection. Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you
of the matters wherein ye dispute.”
(Quran, Chapter 3, v. 54)
Orthodox Muslims point to this Quranic verse to support their interpretation of the hadith (mentioned later) that refer to a return of Jesus Christ to establish Islam. It is important to note that all Muslims regard only the Arabic Quran as authentic, all other language versions being a translation. The above verse comes from the Yusuf Ali English translation, probably the most respected by orthodox Muslims, who believe 3:54 states that Jesus was taken up to heaven (“raise thee to Myself”) alive. It is worth noting some other orthodox Islamic translations of 3:54:
· Pickthall : “O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me”
· Rashad Khalifa : “O Jesus! I am terminating your life, raising you to Me...”
· Mohammad Sarwar : “He told Jesus, ‘I will save you from your enemies, raise you to Myself...’”
· M. H. Shakir : “O Isa (Jesus)! I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me”
· Al-Hilali & Khan: “O Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself...”
Another Quranic reference used by Orthodox Muslims in support of their beliefs about Jesus’ ascension to heaven is chapter 4, verses 157-158:
“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus
the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,’ but they killed him not, nor crucified
him, but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full
of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a
surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is
Exalted in Power, Wise.”
(Quran, Chapter 4, vs.157-158)
Still other orthodox translations of the above verse follow the same pattern. So the generally accepted orthodox Muslim translations of the verses in question suggest that Jesus Christ was not crucified, but he was somehow taken up to heaven. The following interpretation of Chapter 4, verse 157 speaks to the Substitution Theory mentioned earlier:
“And because of their saying (in boast) ‘We killed
Messiah Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ but they
killed him not, nor crucified him. But the resemblance of Isa (Jesus) was put
over another man (and they killed that man)”
(Hilali & Khan translation)
This interpretation of 4:157 is no longer universally accepted amongst orthodox Muslims. For example, Nadeem Quraishi, an orthodox Muslim who no longer accepts these translations, offers his proof that these are erroneous translations of the Arabic language:
“Behold! Allah said: ‘O Isa! I shall cause you to die and I shall exalt you towards me and I shall clear you of those who reject Faith, and I am going to make those who follow you above those who reject Faith—until the day of Awakening. Then towards Me is your return, so that I shall decide among you as to that in which you used to differ’”
Aside from the above challenge to the standard orthodox Islamic translations of the verses in question, the Ahmadiyya Movement interprets 3:54 similarly to Mr. Quraishi’s version:
“Remember the time when Allah said, ‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and raise thee to Myself, and will clear thee of the charges of those who disbelieve, and will exalt those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ.’”
To gain more insight into this new challenge to orthodox Islam occurring within its own ranks, the reader is encouraged to visit Nadeem Quraishi’s website, “Jesus (pbuh): Dead or Alive?” . If you are unfamiliar with the issue of the death of Jesus Christ in Islam, then Mr. Quraishi’s website is must reading. Nadeem Quraishi meticulously breaks down the Arabic of the Quran in his attempt to prove that the words of 3:54 generally translated by orthodox translators as “take thee” have been translated incorrectly, and that the true translation of the Arabic word, wafat, is not “take thee,” or “gather thee,” but “die” or “cause to die” or “death.” Quraishi offers the following examples in the Quran where the word wafat is used, and demonstrates that in every case where wafat was mentioned in the Quran, the translators—even the orthodox translators—translated wafat as “die” or “death” and not as “taken up.” So Quraishi asks, for what reason did the translators, when they translated 3:54, decide to depart from the standard way of translating wafat as “death,” and choose, instead, to translate it as “take thee,” i.e., physically take up to heaven? Below are 20 examples that Quraishi cites where orthodox Muslim translators translated wafat as “death” or “die” in the Quran, and not as “take thee.”
Chapter 2, v. 234
Chapter 2, v. 240
Chapter 3, v. 193
Chapter 4, v. 15
Chapter 4, v. 97
Chapter 6, v. 61
Chapter 7, v. 37
|Chapter 7, v. 126
Chapter 8, v. 50
Chapter 10, v. 46
Chapter 10, v. 104
Chapter 12, v. 101
Chapter 13, v. 40
Chapter 16, v. 28
|Chapter 16, v. 32
Chapter 16, v. 70
Chapter 39, v. 42
Chapter 40, v. 67
Chapter 40, v. 77
Chapter 47, v. 27
This is a clear demonstration of the tedious and heated arguments within Islam over this issue. Again, Quraishi, an orthodox Muslim himself, offers a biting criticism of the orthodox stand, claiming to stick steadfastly to the original Arabic meanings. In this case he focuses on the Arabic word, rafa, translated in the orthodox translation of 3:54 as, “raise.” And again Quraishi backs up his views by citing many other Quranic verses where the word rafa is used to mean “exalted,” or raise in status, not raise bodily, in the literal sense:
|Koranic clause or phrase||
Chapter & verse
"...and We have raised some of them above
others in rank."
(...wa rafa’ na...)
Ch. 43, verse 32
"And We have exalted for you your mention"
(WA rafa’ NA)
Ch. 94, verse 4
"...We exalt in degrees whom We please"
Ch. 6, verse 83
"And We raised him to an elevated state."
(WA rafa’naa hu...)
Ch. 19, verse 57
"And He raises some of you above the others
(WA rafa’ aa ba’dakum...)
Ch. 6, verse 165
"And had We wished We would invariably exalted him; ..."
Ch. 7, verse 176
"It will abase it will exalt"
Ch. 56, verse 3
"...all pure speech and all good deed, --He exalts it..."
Ch. 35, verse 10
"in (certain) houses which Allah has
permitted to be raised up...
(...an turfa’a WA yuzkara...)
Ch. 24, verse 36
This is a clear demonstration of the tedious and heated arguments within Islam over this issue. Again, Quraishi, an orthodox Muslim himself, offers a biting criticism of the orthodox stand, claiming to stick steadfastly to the original Arabic meanings. In this case he focuses on the Arabic word, rafa, translated in the orthodox translation of 3:54 as, “raise.” And again Quraishi backs up his views by citing many other Quranic verses where the word rafa is used to mean “exalted,” or raise in status, not raise bodily, in the literal sense:
“And (because of) their saying: ‘Surely we have killed the Masih, Isa, son of Maryam, the Rasul of Allah,’ and they could not murder him, nor could they kill him by crucifixion, but he was made to resemble to them. And verily those who differ regarding him are certainly in a doubt about him. They have no knowledge about it but are merely following a guess; and they could not kill him for certain; On the contrary, Allah exalted him towards Himself. And Allah is Exalted in Power, most Wise.”
The Ahmadiyya translation is the following:
“And for their saying, ‘We did slay the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,’ whereas they slew him not, nor did they bring about his death on the cross, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no certain knowledge thereof, but only pursue a conjecture; and they did not arrive at a certainty concerning it. On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.”
You will note that the orthodox interpretation of 4:157-158 cited earlier suggests that Jesus Christ was not even placed upon the cross, period (“nor crucified him”). But the interpretations of orthodox Muslim Nadeem Quraishi, as well as the Ahmadiyya interpretation, simply state that Jesus did not die on the cross. Here again, in 4:157-158, is the dispute over the word, rafa, with the orthodox translation offering, “raised him up,” suggesting the actual physical raising up of Jesus Christ to heaven, and the non-orthodox translation offering, “exalted him towards,” or in the case of the Ahmadiyya, “exalted him to,” suggesting a spiritual exaltation.
3. IMAM SHALTUT'S FATWA
Perhaps the single largest threat to the orthodox Islamic view of Jesus from its own community is from Imam Shaltut a deep and powerful Islamic scholar who became the highest Islamic authority of the most prestigious Muslim school on earth, Al-Azhar University. In October, 1958, he became Rector of Al-Azhar University. His religious and scholastic credentials within the world of Islam were impeccable. He issued a “fatwa” (decree) stating that God promised Jesus a natural death. Below is Imam Shaltut’s fatwa:
"These are the verses of the Holy Qur'an which relate all that Jesus experienced at the hands of his people. The last verse relates an incident in the Hereafter when Allah will ask Jesus concerning him and his mother being worshipped in the world and Jesus will reply that he did not say anything to his followers except that which God had commanded him, that is, worship Allah who is your God and my God, and he kept watch over them during the period of his stay among them and that he did not know what they did after Allah caused him to die.
"The word, tawaffa, has been used in the Holy Qur'an in the sense of death so many times that it has become its foremost meaning. This word is used in its different sense only when there is a clear indication as to the other meaning."
"The word tawaffaaytani in this particular verse primarily means natural death which is known to everybody. The Arabic-speaking people understand this and only this meaning of the word with reference to the context. Therefore, had there been nothing else to indicate the death of Jesus in this verse, even then it would have been improper and incorrect to state that the Messiah Jesus was alive and not dead.
"There is no room for the view that the word wafat here means the death of Jesus after his descent from heaven--a view held by some who think that Jesus is still alive in the heaven and would come down from there in latter days. For, this verse clearly denotes the relation of Jesus with his own people and not with other people of latter days. The people of the latter age would admittedly be the followers of Muhammad and not Jesus.
"However, in Surah Al Nisa, the passage, 'Nay, Allah exalted him in His presence' has been interpreted by some, nay most commentators, as raising him up to heaven. They observe that Allah cast his likeness on somebody else and Jesus himself was lifted up to heaven with his body and he is alive there and will descend from there in latter days. Thereafter, he will annihilate the swine and break the cross. They argue this on the basis of the story:
"Firstly on the report in which the descent of Jesus is mentioned after the appearance of the Dajaal [Anti-Christ]. "But these reports are at variance with and contradictory to one another in their word and meaning. The difference is so great that there is no room for any reconciliation among them. The scholars of Hadith have plainly stated this fact. Moreover, they are reported by Wahab bin Munnabba and Ba'ab Akbar, who were converts from the people of the Book [Jews or Christians]. And their status is well known to the critics of Traditions.
"Secondly, on the report of Abu Huraira that mentions the descent of Jesus. If this report is proved to be true, even then it would be an isolated report. And there is a consensus of opinion of the scholars of Hadith that such isolated reports can neither be made the basis of doctrinal beliefs nor can they be trusted with regard to things unseen.
"Thirdly, on the report about the Miraj which narrates that when the Prophet went up and began to have the gates of heaven opened one after another and entered them as they were opened, he saw Jesus and his cousin John on the second heaven. For us it is enough to prove the weakness of this evidence, that many interpreters of the Traditions have taken this contact of the Prophet with other prophets to have a spiritual phenomenon and not a physical one."
"Strangely enough they interpret the word rafa in this verse in light of the report concerning the Miraj and deduce therefrom that Jesus was bodily raised up. And there are others who regard the meeting of the Prophet with Jesus to be a physical one on the basis of this verse (i.e., Nay! Allah exalted him in His presence). thus when these people interpret the Hadith they quote this verse to support their imaginary meaning of the Hadith and while interpreting the verse they cite this Hadith to support their imaginary explanation of the verse.
"When we turn to the revealed words of God: 'I will cause you to die and exalt you in My presence' in Surah Al-Nisa, we find that the latter verse fulfills the promise that was made in the former one. This promise was about the death and exaltation of Jesus Christ, and his exoneration from the false charges of the disbelievers. Thus even if the latter verse had mentioned just his rafa, towards God and had no reference to his death and exoneration from the false charges, even then it should have been our duty to take note of all these matters that are referred to in the former verse; so that both the verses might be reconciled.
"The actual meaning of the verse therefore is that God caused Jesus to die and exalted him and sanctified him against the charges of his enemies. Allama Alusi has interpreted this verse in many ways. The clearest of these interpretations is that I will complete the lease of your life and will cause you to die and will not let those people dominate you who try to kill you. For, completing the period of his life and causing him to die a natural death indicates that Jesus was saved from being slain and from the mischief of his enemies. Obviously, rafa after death cannot mean any physical ascension, but only exaltation in rank, especially when the words, I will clear you of those who disbelieve' are present along with it. This shows that it is a question of spiritual honor and exaltation."
"All these expressions signify only shelter, protection and coming under His care. So one fails to understand how the word heaven is deduced from the word 'towards Him.' And such and offense is committed on account of a belief in such stories and narratives which are devoid of accuracy, not to speak of established unauthenticity.
To sum up:
1. There is nothing in the Holy Qur'an, nor in the sacred Traditions of the Prophet which endorse the correctness of the belief to the contentment of the heart that Jesus was taken up to heaven with his body and is alive there even now and would descend therefrom in the latter days.
2. The Qur'anic verses about Jesus show that God had promised to cause him to die a natural death, then exalt him and save him from the mischief of the disbelievers and this promise had certainly been fulfilled. His enemies could neither kill him nor crucify him, but God completed the span of his life and then caused him to die.
3. Any person who denies his bodily ascent and the continuity of his physical existence in heaven and his descent in the latter ages, does not deny a fact that can be established by clear and conclusive arguments. Thus he is not outside the faith of Islam and it is absolutely wrong to consider him apostate. He is perfectly a Muslim. If he dies, his death is that of a believer and his funeral prayer must be said and he must be buried in the Muslim cemetery. His faith is decidedly faultless in the eyes of God. And God knows the condition of His servants.
(Shaltut, Sheikh Mahmud: Al Rislah, Cairo: Vol. 10., No. 465)
5. A BRIEF MENTION OF THE ISSUE OF JESUS IN HADITH
There are many sayings of Muhammad that deal with the return of Jesus, and we will list a few of them below. The orthodox Islamic world believes that Jesus will return physically. It would interpret any of the hadith listed in this section in the literal sense. The Ahmadi Muslims believe that the hadith referring to the return of Jesus are metaphorical, and point to some other individual who will appear “in the latter days.” This individual will not be the same Jesus, according to the Ahmadiyya interpretation, but will be someone who will carry the same peaceful qualities of Jesus, spreading Islam through peaceful means. In support of this viewpoint of a spiritual, rather than a physical, return of Jesus Christ, it is very interesting that the Ahmadis reference a Christian source—the Gospels—as an example:
“Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women
there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is
least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the
Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take
it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye
will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to
hear, let him hear.”
(Bible, Matthew 11: 11-15)
In Matthew 11:11-15 Jesus Christ claims that John the Baptist, a contemporary of Jesus who baptized Jesus, actually is the “return” of Elias, who the Old Testament foretold would return. Drawing a parallel, the Ahmadiyya viewpoint claims Jesus Christ will not return physically—as orthodox Muslims and orthodox Christians believe—since he is dead and buried in the Roza Bal.
Before citing the hadith relating to the return of Jesus, please note: These sayings are located in many of the Islamic books of hadith. As such, we will not give any particular reference. But the reader can easily verify my references and find these hadith, thanks to the Internet: just go to a search engine and type, “Imam Mahdi.” Now, this is just a little tricky, because after you find a site that lists hadith relating to Imam Mahdi, you’ll have to look in that site to find hadith about Jesus. This is because orthodox Islamic belief, as we stated earlier, states that two people are coming back in the last days for the purpose of establishing Islam: First will come Imam Mahdi, then will come Jesus to assist him. Now I’ll reproduce just a few hadith that mention the return of Jesus Christ:
“A group of my Ummah [community] will fight for the truth until near the day of judgment when Jesus, the son of Mary, will descend, and the leader of them will ask him to lead the prayer, but Jesus will decline, saying: ‘No, Verily, among you Allah has made leaders for others and He has bestowed His bounty upon them.’”
“After the completion of Fajr Salaat [congregational dawn prayers], Hadhrat Isa [Jesus] will open the door behind him where Dajjal [Antichrist], accompanied by 70,000 Yahudis [Jews] will be. He will indicate with his hand to move away between him (Jesus) and Dajjal. Dajjal will then see Hadhrat Isa. At that time every Kafir [disbeliever, non-Muslim] on whom the breath of Hadhrat Isa will reach, will die. His breath will reach up to the distance of his eyesight. The Muslims will then come down from the mountains and break loose on the army of Dajjal. There will be war, Dajjal will retreat, and Hadhrat Isa will pursue Dajjal. Hadhrat Isa will have two flexible swords and one shield with him and with these he will kill Dajjal at the Gate of Hudd. He will show the Muslims the blood of Dajjal, which will get on his shield. Eventually the Yahudis will be selected and killed. The swine will be killed and the cross broken. People will revert to Islam. Wars will end, and people will return to their respective countries. One Jamaat [group] of Muslims will remain in his service and companionship. Hadhrat Isa will go to Fajr Rawha and perform Haj or Umrah [pilgrimage] from there. He will also go to the grave of Rasulullah [the Messenger of Allah, i.e., Muhammad] and present his greetings and Rasulullah will reply. People will live comfortable lives. The wall of Yajooj and Majooj [Gog and Magog] will then break.”
“What will be your reaction when the son of Mary (Jesus) descends and your Imam [leader] is from among yourselves?”
“Abu Hurayrah said, ‘The Prophet said, ‘By Him in Whose hand is my soul, surely the son of Mary (Jesus) will come down among you as a just ruler. He will break the cross, kill the pigs and abolish the Jizyah [tax for non-Muslims]. Wealth will be in such abundance that no one will care about it, and a single prostration in prayer will be better than the world and all that is in it.’’”
Without a doubt, the Roza Bal and a possible post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ are issues that directly impact the Islamic world. Orthodox Muslims hold dear and deep in their hearts the expectation of Jesus Christ’s return to establish Islam as the world religion, and to create a world where, as one of the above hadith states, “People will live comfortable lives.” In the Islamic world of today, where large pockets of poverty still exist, such a return would certainly be most welcomed.
The Buddhist connection to the issue of Jesus in India is fascinating. Holger Kersten, author of, Jesus Lived in India: His Unknown Life Before and After the Crucifixion, has become a very important modern resource in the theory regarding a possible influence of Buddhism on Jesus Christ or Jesus Christ’s influence on Buddhism (See Kersten’s, The Original Jesus: The Buddhist Sources of Christianity). Of course, Mr. Kersten is not the first individual to suggest a connection between Buddhism and Jesus Christ. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, for instance, in his book, Jesus In India, disputed a contemporary view of his day that suggested that Jesus Christ had been influenced by Buddhists (indeed, taught by Buddhists) during the ages of 12 to 30, the missing years of Jesus’ life, unmentioned in the Bible. According to proponents of a Buddhist/Jesus link, Jesus spent those missing years under the tutelage of Buddhist monks.
Before continuing, we must mention here that a deep, intricate and fascinating philosophical/religious discussion comparing Eastern religions and philosophies on the one hand, and Western Christianity (especially the role of the Age of Enlightenment and its reaction to Christianity) on the other hand, can be found in the book, Saving the Savior, and has been excluded from this website. That philosophical discussion directly ties into the significance of the discovery of the tomb of Jesus Christ. That discussion can be found in the paperback version. That discussion will be found in the chapter entitled, Jesus the Buddha?, in the section, "The Buddhist Side and the Eastern philosophical bases for the need to bury Jesus."
We will give a very brief description of Buddhism. We want the reader to understand that this link deals with Jesus-as-Buddhist only as a subset of the larger issue of Christianity vs. Eastern religions in general, a subject further elaborated upon in Saving the Savior.
2. SHORT EXPLANATION OF BUDDHISM
Buddhism today is a major religion whose adherents have been numbered between 150 and 300 million people. Many Buddhists would reject the statement that Buddhism is a religion. Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BC), known as the Buddha, was the founder of Buddhism. The word Buddha is a title that means “one who is awake,” i.e., one who has become enlightened. Buddha was born in Kapilavastu, near what today is the Indian-Nepal border. He was the son of the ruler of a kingdom, and at the age of 29 he began to realize the emptiness of his life. He had been raised in an environment of sheltered luxury. So he renounced all attachments to the world and began a quest for inner peace and inner enlightenment. For a few years he practiced Yoga and became a strict ascetic. Eventually he abandoned this method as pointless, choosing a middle ground between a life of indulgence and a life of self-denial. Finally, at age 35, he was sitting under a Bo tree, meditating. Through this meditation he finally reached the state of perfect enlightenment by moving through a series of higher states of consciousness. For the remainder of his life, he traveled throughout northern India teaching his practice of attaining enlightenment.
3. TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM
At the center of the enlightenment that is said to be achieved by the practices of Buddhism lie what are called the Four Noble Truths, the last of which is of special interest with regard to our discussion concerning the struggle between Buddhism and Christianity: (1) Life is suffering; (2) All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality as well as the attachments that result from this ignorance; (3) Suffering can be overcome by removing ignorance and releasing oneself from attachment; (4) The way to overcoming suffering is through following the Noble Eightfold Path: right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness and right contemplation. These eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path are divided into three categories that form the pillars of Buddhism: morality, wisdom and samadhi (concentration).
Buddhism, as it has evolved and as it exists today, does not recognize the existence of a Supreme Being. But some state that this was not the case in the beginning, and that Buddha did acknowledge a Supreme Being. Ashoka, the most famous and most devoted follower of the Buddha and his teachings, carved many inscriptions on rocks called stupas, and some state that these rocks clearly indicate a belief in a Supreme Being. One such rock is located on the bank of a river named Katak, and reads as follows:
“Much longing after the things (of this life) is a disobedience, I again declare; not less so is the laborious ambition of dominion by a prince who would be a proprietor of heaven. Confess and believe in God (Is’ana) who is the worthy object of obedience. For equal to this (belief), I declare unto you, ye shall not find such a means of propitiating heaven. Oh strive ye to obtain this inestimable treasure.”
4. THE CHRISTIAN SIDE AND THE DOCTRINAL BATTLE TO PRESERVE THE FAITH
We came across a very interesting document, produced by the body within the Catholic Church responsible for maintaining its dogma: The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also known as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and formerly known as the Inquisition. And this document, in my view, will give the reader an excellent understanding of how Christianity views Buddhism and other Eastern forms of religion as threats. A careful reading of excerpts from this document will give the reader a keen understanding of why the subject of the Roza Bal and the theory of a post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ in India poses so great a threat to the very fundamental teachings of Christianity, and why Buddhism plays a role. We will present excerpts from this document. Then We will quote Holger Kersten (the Buddhist side), briefly, to contrast the two views. The title of the Congregation’s document is, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation.” Any emphasis in the following document is ours:
“1. Many Christians today have a keen desire to learn how to experience a deeper and authentic prayer life despite the not inconsiderable difficulties which modern culture places in the way of the need for silence, recollection and meditation. The interest which in recent years has been awakened also among some Christians by forms of meditation associated with some Eastern religions and their particular methods of prayer is a significant sign of this need for spiritual recollection and a deep contact with the divine mystery.
“Nevertheless, faced with this phenomenon many feel the need for sure criteria of a doctrinal and pastoral character which might allow them to instruct others in prayer, in its numerous manifestations, while remaining faithful to the truth revealed in Jesus, by means of the genuine tradition of the Church. This present letter seeks to reply to this urgent need, so that in the various particular churches the many different forms of prayer, including new ones, may never lose their correct personal and communitarian nature. These indications are addressed in the fist place to the bishops, to be considered in that spirit of pastoral solicitude for the churches entrusted to them, so that the entire people of God—priests, religious and laity—may again be called to pray, with renewed vigor, to the Father through the Spirit of Christ our Lord.
“2. The ever more frequent contact with other religions and with their different styles and methods of prayer has, in recent decades, led many of the faithful to ask themselves what value non-Christian forms of meditation might have for Christians. Above all, the question concerns Eastern methods. Some people today turn to these methods for therapeutic reasons. The spiritual restlessness arising from a life subjected to the driving pace of a technologically advanced society also brings a certain number of Christians to seek in these methods of prayer a path to interior peace and psychic balance.
“This psychological aspect is not dealt with in the present letter, which instead emphasizes the theological and spiritual implications of the question. Other Christians, caught up in the movement toward openness and exchanges between various religions and cultures, are of the opinion that their prayer has much to gain from these methods. Observing that in recent times many traditional methods of meditation, especially Christian ones, have fallen into disuse, they wonder whether it might not now be possible, by a new training in prayer, to enrich our heritage by incorporating what has until now been foreign to it.
“3. To answer this question, one must first of all consider, even if only in a general way, in what the intimate nature of Christian prayer consists. Then one can see if and how it might be enriched by meditation methods that have been developed in other religions and cultures. However, in order to achieve this, one needs to start with a certain clear premise. Christian prayer is always determined by the structure of the Christian faith, in which the very truth of God and creature shines forth. For this reason, it is defined, properly speaking, as a personal, intimate and profound dialogue between man and God. It expresses, therefore, the communion of redeemed creatures with the intimate life of the persons of the Trinity.
“This communion, based on baptism and the Eucharist, source and summit of the life of the church, implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from ‘self’ to the ‘you’ of God. Thus Christian prayer is at the same time always authentically personal and communitarian. It flees from impersonal techniques or from concentrating on oneself, which can create a kind of rut, imprisoning the person praying in a spiritual privatism which is incapable of a free openness to the transcendental God. Within the church, in the legitimate search for new methods of meditation it must always be born in mind that the essential element of authentic Christian prayer is the meeting of two freedoms, the infinite freedom of God with the finite freedom of man.”
To review: The introduction of this document openly reveals that the primary concern of the Catholic Church with regard to nontraditional forms of worship is Eastern religions, particularly their meditation forms. Then it states that the figure of Jesus Christ must stand at the very center of any view of meditation, religion, or spirituality entertained by Christians. Next, the document acknowledges that today’s Christians feel something missing in their own Christian tradition since, it says, they “are of the opinion that their prayer has much to gain from these methods.”
Then the document clearly states a primary concern of Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church: its cohesion and integrity as a religious structure with its own viewpoint: “Christian prayer is always determined by the structure of the Christian faith.” Next it states that the prayer of Christians must be prayer that is contained strictly within the doctrinal beliefs of Christianity, citing two prime doctrinal beliefs as essential for the performance of proper Christian prayer: that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the redemption of humanity, and the belief in the Trinity, i.e., God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit: “It expresses, therefore, the communion of redeemed creatures with the intimate life of the persons of the Trinity.” It is clear here that in Christianity, there can be no form of spiritual expression or meditation that does not include the figure of Jesus Christ. He alone is the redeemer [“redeemed creatures”] of humanity through his death on the cross.
We must state, though, that Christianity at large, especially non-Catholic Christian fundamentalism, bases its anti-Eastern religion stance on verses of the Bible (of which there are many) that warn against what it calls, “familiar spirits.” Here is one such example:
“And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar
spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face
against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.”
(Bible, Leviticus 20: 6)
It is because of verses such as this that many fundamentalist Christians totally avoid such practices as Yoga or Tai Chi Chuan, despite their proven beneficial physical exercise techniques and despite their popularity. Some fundamentalist Christians state that those practices (particularly Yoga) open up areas of the body to familiar spirits, and that those areas should remain closed. Continuing with the document:
“Thanks to the words, deeds, passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the New Testament the faith acknowledges in him the definitive self-revelation of God; the incarnate Word who reveals the most intimate depth of his love...”
“The entire Gospel of St. John is taken up with the contemplation of him who from the beginning is the Word of God made flesh. Paul, to whom Jesus appeared in his divine majesty on the road to Damascus, instructs the faithful so that they may ‘have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth (of the mystery of Christ), and to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’ (Eph. 3:18 ff). For Paul the mystery of God is Christ, ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ (Col. 2:3) and, the apostle clarifies, ‘I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech.’ (v. 4)...”
“...from the very beginning everything proceeds to converge on Christ, the fullness of revelation and of grace, and on the gift of the Holy Spirit...”
“7. Some consequences derive immediately from what has been called to mind. If the prayer of a Christian has to be inserted in the Trinitarian movement of God, then its essential content must also necessarily be determined by the twofold direction of such movement. It is in the Holy Spirit that the Son comes into the world to reconcile it to the Father through his works and sufferings. On the other hand, in this same movement and in the very same Spirit, the Son incarnate returns to the Father, fulfilling his will through his passion and resurrection. The ‘Our Father,’ Jesus’ own prayer, clearly indicates the unity of this movement: the will of the Father must be done on earth as it is in heaven (the petitions for bread, forgiveness and protection make explicit the fundamental dimensions of God’s will for us), so that there may be a new earth in the heavenly Jerusalem.
“The prayer of Jesus has been entrusted to the church...(‘Pray then like this,’ Lk. 11:2)...Consequently, it must always be offered within the authentic spirit of the church at prayer, and therefore under its guidance, which can sometimes take a concrete form in terms of a proven spiritual direction. The Christian, even when he is alone and prays in secret, is conscious that he always prays for the good of the church in union with Christ, in the Holy Spirit and together with all the saints.”
“8. Even in the first centuries of the church some incorrect forms of prayer crept in...Subsequently, two fundamental deviations came to be identified: Pseudognosticism and Messalianism, both of concern to the fathers of the church...”
“...These false fourth-century charismatics identified the grace of the Holy Spirit with the psychological experience of his presence in the soul. In opposing them, the fathers insisted on the fact that the soul’s union with God in prayer is realized in a mysterious way, and in particular through the sacraments of the church...”
“Both of these forms of error continue to be a temptation for man the sinner. They incite him to try to overcome the distance separating creature from Creator, as though there ought not to be such a distance; to consider the way of Christ on earth, by which he wishes to lead us to the Father, as something now surpassed; to bring down to the level of natural psychology what has been regarded as pure grace, considering it instead as ‘superior knowledge’ or as ‘experience.’
“Such erroneous forms, having reappeared in history from time to time on the fringes of the church’s prayer, seem once more to impress many Christians, appealing to them as a kind of remedy, be it psychological or spiritual, or as a quick way of finding God...”
“...The meditation of the Christian in prayer seeks to grasp the depths of the divine in the salvific [i.e., salvation] works of God in Christ, the incarnate Word, and in the gift of his Spirit...”
“12. With the present diffusion of Eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian. Proposals in this direction are numerous and radical to a greater or lesser extent...Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory, on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality.
“To this end, they make use of a ‘negative theology’ that transcends every affirmation seeking to express what God is and denies that the things of this world can offer traces of the infinity of God. Thus they propose abandoning not only meditation on the salvific works accomplished in history by God of the old and new covenant, but also the very idea of the one and triune God, who is love, in favor of an immersion ‘in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity.’ These and similar proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with Eastern techniques need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thoroughgoing examination so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism.”
The above explanations from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith make it very clear that there can be no meditation form or prayer practice that does not have as its goal the attempt to reach God through Jesus Christ. From the Christian perspective, it is absolutely impossible to engage in any form of spiritual or religious experience that does not include Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the Church teaches that knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ surpasses all other knowledge: “to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge...” It then says that from the very beginning of creation, “everything proceeds to converge on Christ.” Next the document states, essentially, that the Church now represents the custodian of proper prayer to God: “The prayer of Jesus has been entrusted to the church...(‘Pray then like this,’ Lk. 11:2) Consequently, it must always be offered within the authentic spirit of the Church at prayer, and therefore under its guidance, which can sometimes take a concrete form in terms of a proven spiritual direction.
” Then the document tells us that it is only through the special rituals, or sacraments, of the Church that a Christian can properly reach God: “...the soul’s union with God in prayer is realized in a mysterious way, and in particular through the sacraments of the church...” Next the document warns Christians of the dangers of Eastern forms: “With the present diffusion of Eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non- Christian.”
Last (though this is not the end of that lengthy document), the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warns of what it perceives as the danger of a syncretic movement emerging within the Church—a movement that would include various forms of religious/spiritual/meditative non-Christian practices within its system: “...so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism.” Interestingly, Holger Kersten, a strong supporter of the Jesus-in-India theory and a proponent of Buddhism, embraces that which the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith fears the most: a syncretic world movement of spirituality. In his book, Jesus Lived In India, he states, “A kind of syncretic world religion of the future is in ascendance.”
For the past 2000 years, the figure of Jesus Christ has been wholly associated with the Christian Church. In the 21st century it appears that Christianity will be faced with the possibility that others will take possession of Jesus Christ, lifting him out of the church and placing him in various eastern traditions, one of them Buddhism. Up until now, Christians had simply assumed that Jesus Christ was a figure belonging solely to Christianity. Now that idea is being challenged.
5. THE Q AND JESUS THE BUDDAH - THE SOURCES
As proof that Jesus Christ was a student of Buddhism, some proponents of the Jesus-in-India, Jesus-as-Buddhist theory cite sayings of Buddha that appear to be identical to sayings of Jesus Christ as recorded in the canonical Gospels as well as non-canonical Christian scriptures. This is a large subject, and, as such, I’m going to give just six examples of these similar teachings. If the reader wishes to delve deeper into this subject, we suggest that you obtain the book,The Original Jesus: The Buddhist Sources of Christianity.
The reader will have noted that we include non-canonical Christian scriptures here. This is for a simple reason. The majority populations of the world are non-Christian. As such, we feel that they have the right to be exposed to whatever Christian scripture or document exists, especially considering the history of violence employed by the Church in enforcing doctrine [The Inquisition]. In light of such history, it becomes extremely difficult to regard as sacrosanct the rulings of the various councils within Church Christianity that declared certain scriptures “non-canonical.”
The need to consider non-canonical scriptures is brought powerfully home by the discovery amongst Christian scholars of what some of them accept as a Christian source document called Q, dated before the compilation of the canonical Gospels. This is not actually a physical document. [We must state here that there are some who wholly dismiss the Q as nothing more than a device invented by some Christian scholars in order to bridge the time lapse between Jesus Christ and the Gospel writers. These scholars claim that this Q document actually existed and was a source document used by the Gospel writers, an assertion disputed by others. But for purposes of this discussion, we are going to assume that such a document actually existed.]
The label Q comes from the German word, Quelle, which means source. Christian scholars “found” this document not through archaeological discovery, but by careful scrutiny of the contents of the Gospel. This scrutiny led them to conclude to their satisfaction that the Gospel writers, though they wrote at different times, had worked from some common source. They call that source the Q. While researchers worked to determine which of the Gospels was the oldest, they made certain discoveries. First of all, they recognized that it would be impossible to actually track down the real authors of the Gospels through historical research. So they would have to get their information from the Bible itself.
It was noted that Matthew, Mark and Luke were related. They then saw that passages in Matthew and Luke corresponded only when they happened to follow a story that was also located in Mark. This led to the conclusion that Matthew and Luke must have gotten their accounts from Mark, and that Mark was the oldest of the three. On the other hand, Matthew and Luke, which were believed to have been recorded about 95 AD, contain a good number of sayings of Jesus not found in Mark. So although Matthew and Luke had Mark as a source, there must have also been something else available to them that they used to compile and write their Gospels. Christian scholars have labeled this source the Q, and some of them strongly believe that the Q must be the oldest text circulated amongst Jesus’ followers, and was perhaps even composed of written accounts by Jesus’ followers recorded after the crucifixion. Similarities are also found between canonical sayings of Jesus and those found in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas. [See, The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins].
Whether or not the Q actually existed, this debate amongst Christians over the origins of the Gospel texts demonstrates clearly why we must include non-canonical scriptures here. Because there is no way to know whether or not the canonical Gospels contain additions or omissions, due to the fact that the alleged Q document does not physically exist. Therefore we cannot compare the Gospel texts against the Q document so as to verify their accuracy.
The following are a very small comparative sample of scriptural—canonical or otherwise—sayings of Jesus Christ and the Buddha. We will simply use the label Q to mean the sayings of Jesus as found in various Christian source documents. Therefore, the right side of the chart below that lists sayings of Jesus has the heading Q rather than, Matthew, or Mark or Gospel of Thomas, since these are sayings that can sometimes be found in more than one Gospel. The left side of the chart contains quotes from the Dhammapada. Christians and those familiar with the sayings of Jesus will readily recognize them. For a much bigger list than that presented below, please consult books that compare the teachings of Buddha to the teachings of Christ, of which there are many.
|Indian Scriptural Source||The Q|
|Better than absolute sovereignty over the earth, better than lordship over all the worlds is the Fruit of a Stream-Winner. (Dh 13:178)||For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away.|
|Surely, the path that leads to worldly gain in one, and the path that leads to Nibbana is another; understanding this, the Bhikkhu, the disciple of the Buddha, should not rejoice in worldly favours, but cultivate detachment. (Dh 5:75)||No man can serve two masters. Either he hates the one and loves the other, or he is loyal to one and despises the other. You cannot serve God and wealth [mammon]|
|What is the use of your matted hair, O witless man? What is the use of your antelope skin garment? Within, you are full of passions; without, you embellish yourself. Dh 26:394.||Shame on you Pharisees! For you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are full of greed and incontinence. Foolish Pharisees! Clean the inside and the outside will also be clean. Shame on you Pharisees! For you love the front seats in the assemblies and greetings in the marketplaces. Shame on you! For you are like graves, outwardly beautiful, but full of pollution inside.|
|A wise man renounces evil and sensual pleasure and he does all meritorious work in order to attain Nibbana. He becomes a homeless one (Dh 6:874)||Because of that I say this: Whoever is emptied will be filled with light; but whoever is divided will be filled with darkness.|
|The Bhikkhu who, while still young, devotes himself to the Buddha's Teaching, illuminates this world like the moon freed from a cloud (Dh 25:382)||He who wishes to follow me must know himself and bear my yoke.|
|The mindful exert themselves. To no abode are they attached. Like swans that quit their pools, home after home they abandon (and go). They for whom there is no accumulation, (of kammic activities or the four necessities of life) who reflect well over their food, who has Deliverance, which is Void and Signless, as their object - their course like that of birds in the air cannot be traced. (Dh 7:91-92)||When someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go,’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’ When another said, ‘Let me first go and bury my father,’ Jesus said, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead.’ Yet Another said, ‘I will follow you , sir, but first let me say good-bye to my family.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’|
The above is a short survey of the similarities between the teachings of Buddha and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Again, to those who believe in Jesus as a follower of the Buddha who learned his teachings from Buddhist masters, Jesus was not the Son of God in the literal sense, but an enlightened master who followed and taught the teachings of Gautama Buddha. The above does not encompass the entire discussion regarding Jesus as Buddha, of course. More study is encouraged, as there are a good number of books comparing the Buddha and Jesus Christ.
"If you wish to know the road up the mountain, ask
the man who goes back and forth on it."
A SEARCH FOR THE HISTORICAL JESUS
We have included Dr. Hassnain on the Major Players page for two reasons. Firstly, in terms of credentials, he is now the single most credentialed person on earth who has intimate interest in and thorough knowledge of the theory concerning a post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ. Secondly, he is the former Director of Archives, Archaeology, Research and Musems for Kashmir, and was once listed in Who's Who in Archaeology. He was totally in charge of ancient Kashmiri documents that contain mention of Jesus Christ in India. His book, A Search for the Historical Jesus, was written in 1994.
Dr. Hassnain has graciously agreed to supply The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website with some of the most precious documents on earth relating to the post- crucifixion life of Jesus Christ. We are extremely happy to have his assistance. This is very meaningful to us, because it shows that even though we certainly are not as gifted as Dr. Hassnain, nor do we have as much access to material as he does, he has been impressed enough by our work to grace us with his help. He has provided many of the documents you see on the Ancient Documents page. We started this project without a single idea that anyone of the stature of Dr. Hassnain would ever become involved. So we are grateful and humbled by his decision to help us.
Dr. Hassnain was born in Srinagar, the city that houses the tomb of Jesus, in the year 1924. He graduated from the Univeristy of Punjab, as well as the Muslim University, in the field of law. After some work in social work, he became a lecturer at SP College in Srinagar. He later became chair of History and Research at that college. In 1954 he became the Director of the Kashmir State Archives, of Archaeological Research and Museums, and retired from that position in the year 1983. He also studied under Sheikh Muzaffar Ozak Al-Jerrahi of Istanbul. He is a member of the World Congress of Faiths, London, Hazrat Inayat Khan Sufi Centre, New Delhi, and various other groups. Dr. Hassnain conducts Sufi Therapy Workshops in the Dynamic Psychiatry Hospitals in Germany.
|Academic Achievements||Published Works||Memberships|
|1946 - MA
1947 - L.L.B.
1953 - Dr. Archaeology
1974 - Dr. Indology
1979 - Master of Divinity
1983 - D. Metaphysics
1987 - Rashtra Sanskriti Samrat
1988 - Doctor of Sufism
1989 - Special Citation, Yoga Convocation
1990 - D. Litt.
1992 - Peace Award
1993 - Paracharya Award
1995 - Vishwaadhyamik Jagat Guru
1996 - Dr. of Self Realisation
1998 - Sufi Murshid
1999 - Gem of Alternative Medicines
2000 - Ph.D (A.M.) Calcutta
1974 - British Policy, Kashmir
1975 - Ladakh Moonland
1978 - Gilgit
1980 - Heritage of Kashmir
1987 - Shri Amarnath Cave
1988 - History of Freedom Struggle
1988 - The Fifth Gospel (w. Dahan Levi)
1989 - Islamic Revolution in Iran
1992 - Beautiful Valley of Kashmir
1992 - Cultural History of Kistwar
1992 - Encyclopedia of India, Kashmir
1994 - Search for the Historical Jesus
1995 Bhaisajya - Guru Sutra
1995 Kashgar - Central Asia
1995 - La Otra Historia De Jesus
1996 - Jezusa 1997 - Gesu' l' Esseno
1998 - Shah Hamden of Kashmir
Committee of Archivists
New Delhi Indian Historical Records Commission
Indian Society of Authors
International Centre for Yoga Research
World Association of Dynamic Psychiatry
Berlin OISCA - International, Tokyo
In The Tomb of Jesus Christ, the reader will read some of the material offered by Dr. Hassnain from his book. We do not present all of that material at that link, so we strongly suggest that, like the other books we reference, the reader pick up a copy of Dr. Hassnain's important book.
Nicolas Notovitch is an important character in the history of studies surrounding the theory of Jesus in India. He has become most famous for his book, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ (also available through The Unknown Tree of Life Publications). Notovitch was an aristocratic Russian “Jew” born in the Crimea in the year 1858. We have the word Jew in quotes because though his parents were Jews, he and his brother, Osip Notovitch, converted to the Greek Orthodox Christian religion when they were young. Notovitch began his career as a journalist. Later he authored twelve books, mostly centering on the politics of Russia. His political books were studied amongst the political elite of Europe, as he had command of both French and Russian, writing in both languages. His book, Pravda Obevrejah, won him universal condemnation from the Jews [the book was considered anti-Semitic], but he was at first praised by the Christians. That was not to last.
2. THE DISCOVERY
During the latter part of the 1870s, Notovitch decided to embark on an “extended journey through the Orient.” He explained the purpose of his journey as follows:
“The first object of this journey was to study the customs and habits of the inhabitants of India amid their own surroundings, as well as the grand, mysterious archaeology and the colossal, majestic nature of the country. Wandering without any settled course from one locality to another, I at last came to mountainous Afghanistan, whence I reached India through the picturesque passes of Bolan and Guernai. I then followed the Indus to Rawal-Pindi, traveled through the Punjab—the country of five rivers—visited the golden temple of Amritsir, the tomb of Randjid Singh, King of the Punjab, near Lahore, and proceeded toward Kashmir, the ‘vale of eternal happiness.’ There I began my peregrinations as fancy or curiosity guided or dictated until I reached the Ladak, where I intended to make a somewhat lengthy stay before returning to Russia through Eastern Turkestan and Karakorum.”
Notovitch was not out to promote any particular religious belief, one way or the other. He was absolutely oblivious to the fact that he would one day become one of the most notorious (in the view of some orthodox Christians) figures of the 20th century—a man now referenced in every Jesus-in- India study in print, whether Islamic, Buddhist, or New Age, and a target of Christian propagandists.
Finally reaching India in 1887, Notovitch visited the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar, eventually moving on to Ladak. He went to Kargil where he began a horseback trek on his way to Leh, the capital of Ladak. At a place called Mulbek near the Wakha River, he decided to visit two monasteries, one of which was Buddhist, located above a hill. There he met a Lama, and the two conversed about religion. At one point in the conversation, the monk stated:
"We also respect the one whom you recognize as Son of
the one God. The spirit of Buddha was indeed incarnate in the sacred person
of Issa [Jesus], who without aid of fire or sword, spread knowledge of our
great and true religion throughout the world. Issa is a great prophet, one
of the first after twenty-two Buddhas. His name and acts are recorded in our
[Kersten states that the name “Isa”, or “Issa”, derives from the Syrian, Yeshu (Jesus), “being altered to conform to Musa (=Moses).” It is very interesting that Jesus is referred to as “Issa” in Buddhist documents, as “Isa” in the scripture of Islam, the Quran, and as “Isa” in the Hindu scripture, the Bhavishya Mahapurana. That the religious documents of these three religions mention Jesus as “Isa” suggests that this was actually a name by which he was known in the East. Buddhism and Hinduism predate Islam.]
We recommend that the reader secure the book, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, because the entire extended account of these exchanges between Notovitch and the Lama can be read. That account graphically records Notovitch’s shock in hearing that the life of Jesus Christ had been recorded in Buddhist manuscripts.
Notovitch, of course, inquired of the Lama concerning these writings. The Lama told him that these documents were located in the Lhasa archives in Tibet. The Lama told him that there were other larger monasteries possessing copies of these accounts of the life of Jesus in India. After hearing the Lama’s explanations, Notovitch decided to delay his return to Europe so that he could see some of these documents for himself. Intent on assuring that he would encounter no obstacles in his determination to view these documents, Notovitch explained:
"That I might not arouse the suspicions of the
authorities in regard to the object of my visit to the convent, and raise no
obstacles to a subsequent journey to Thibet [Tibet]--as a Russian--on my
return to Leh I announced my immediate departure for India, and again left
the capital of Ladak."
While riding his horse near Hemis Monastery, Notovitch suffered a terrible fall from his horse and broke his right leg, and he was forced to remain under the care of the Buddhist monks at Hemis until his leg healed. After requesting to see the manuscripts concerning Jesus in India, the monks brought to his bedside two books with loose, yellowed leaves. During the next two days one of the monks read these documents to Notovitch while an interpreter translated and Notovitch took notes. Here we provide a few excerpts from these texts:
"It was then that Issa clandestinely left his father's house, went out of Jerusalem, and, in company with some merchants, traveled toward Sindh, that he might perfect himself in the divine word and study the laws of the great Buddhas. In the course of his fourteenth year, young Issa, blessed by God, journeyed beyond the Sindh and settled among the Aryas in the beloved country of God. The fame of his name spread along the Northern Sindh. When he passed through the country of the five rivers and the Radjipoutan, the worshippers of the God Djaine begged him to remain in their midst.
"But he left the misguided admirers of Djaine and visited Juggernaut, in the province of Orsis, where the remains of Viassa-Krichna rest, and where he received a joyous welcome from the white priests of Brahma.
"They taught him to read and understand the Vedas, to heal by prayer, to teach and explain the Holy Scripture, to cast out evil spirits from the body of man and give him back human semblance. He spent six years in Juggarnaut, Rajegriha, Benares, and the other holy cities; all loved him, for Issa lived in peace with the Vaisyas and the Soudras, to whom he taught the Holy Scripture.
"But the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas declared that the Great Para-Brahma forbade them to approach those whom he had created from his entrails and from his feet. That the Vaisyas were authorized to listen only to the reading of the Vedas, and that never save on the feast days.
"That the Soudras were not only forbidden to attend the reading of the Vedas, but to gaze upon them even, for their condition was to perpetually serve and act as slaves to the Brahmans, the Kshatriyas, and even to the Vaisyas. 'Death alone can free them from servitude,' said Para-Brahma. 'Leave them, therefore, and worship with us the gods who will show their anger against you if you disobey them.'
"But Issa would not heed them; and going to the Soudras, preached against the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas. He strongly denounced the men who robbed their fellow-beings of their rights as men, saying, 'God the Father establishes no difference between his children, who are equally dear to him...
"'The wrath of God shall soon be let loose on man, for he has forgotten his Creator and filled his temples with abominations, and he adores a host of creatures which God has subordinated to him. For, to be pleasing to stones and metals, he sacrifices human beings in whom dwells a part of the spirit of the Most High.
"For he humiliates them that labor by the sweat of their brow to gain the favor of an idler who is seated at a sumptuously spread table. They that deprive their brothers of divine happiness shall themselves be deprived of it, and the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas shall become the Soudras with whom the Eternal shall dwell eternally.
"For on the day of the Last Judgment, the Soudras and the Vaisyas shall be forgiven because of their ignorance, while God shall visit his wrath on them that have arrogated his rights.'
"The Vaisyas and the Soudras were struck with
admiration, and demanded of Issa how they should pray to secure their
happiness. 'Do not worship idols, for they do not hear you; do not listen to
the Vedas, where the truth is perverted; do not believe yourself first in
all things, and do not humiliate your neighbor. Help the poor, assist the
weak, harm no one, do not covet what you have not and what you see in the
possession of others.'"
Let’s take a brief moment to examine one of the above statements attributed to Jesus: “For, to be pleasing to stones and metals, he sacrifices human beings in whom dwells a part of the spirit of the Most High.” The idea that part of the spirit of God dwells in human beings parallels the Gnostic view of a Divine spark that they believed existed in human beings.
The passages go on to say that Jesus was forced to leave the area after he was warned that the priests had become furious over his teachings of absolute equality for the lower castes. So he left Juggarnaut in the night, traveled and took refuge in the Gothamide country, learned the Pali language, and dedicated himself to a deep study of Buddhist scriptures. After awhile, Jesus traveled back towards his birthplace. All along the way, in whatever country he entered, he defended the rights of the oppressed and quarreled with the priestly class. In Persia, he became such a nuisance that the Persian Zoroastrian priests got hold of him one evening and expelled him, hoping that he would be eaten by wild beasts.
Finally, he reached Palestine. The connection between San Issa and Jesus Christ becomes clearer as we read on. Issa arrived back in Palestine at the age of 29 and, having been gone so long, no one knew who he was:
"And the learned men then said: 'Who art thou, and from what country hast thou come into our own? We had never heard of thee, and do not even know thy name.'
"'I am an Israelite,' responded Isa, 'and on the very day of my birth, I saw the walls of Jerusalem, and I heard the weeping of my brothers reduced to slavery, and the moans of my sisters carried away by pagans into captivity.
"And my soul was painfully grieved when I saw that my brothers had forgotten the true God; while yet a child, I left my father's house to go among other nations. But hearing that my brothers were enduring still greater tortures, I returned to the land in which my parents dwelt, that I might recall to my brothers the faith of their ancestors, which teaches us patience in this world that we may obtain perfect and sublime happiness on High.'"
"And the learned old men asked him this question: 'It is claimed that you deny the laws of Mossa [Moses] and teach the people to desert the temple of God.'
"And Issa said: 'We cannot demolish what has been given by our Heavenly Father and what has been destroyed by sinners; but I have recommended the purification of all stain from the heart, for that is the veritable temple of God.
"As to the law of Mossa, I have striven to
reestablish them in the heart of men; and I say to you, that you are in
ignorance of their true meaning, for it is not vengeance, but forgiveness
that they teach; but the sense of these laws have been perverted."
Notovitch now felt that he had come across the most powerful discovery in 2000 years: written manuscripts giving stunning details of the lost years of Jesus, between the ages 12 and 30, that are not mentioned in the Bible, and showing that Jesus had been tutored by Buddhists. It is well worth quoting extensively Notovitch’s explanations of his next moves:
"Entertaining no doubt of the authenticity of this narrative, written with the utmost precision by Brahmin historians and Buddhists of India and Nepal, my intention was to publish the translation on my return to Europe. With this object in view, I addressed myself to several well-known ecclesiastics, requesting them to revise my notes and tell me what they thought of the matter.
"Monseigneur Platon, the celebrated Archbishop of Kiev, believed my discovery to be of great importance, but he earnestly tried to dissuade me from giving the memoirs publicity, declaring it would be against my own interests to do so. Why? This the venerable prelate refused to explain. Our conversation, however, having taken place in Russia where censorship would have placed its veto on a work of this kind, I determined to wait. A year later I chanced to be in Rome. Here I submitted the manuscript to a cardinal standing high in the estimation of the Holy Father.
"'Why should you print this?'" he said, didactically; 'nobody will attach much importance to it, and you will create numberless enemies thereby. You are still young, however. If you need money, I can obtain some compensation for these notes, enough to remunerate you for your loss of time and expenditure.' Naturally enough, I refused the offer.
"In Paris I laid my project before Cardinal Rotelli, whom I had met in Constantinople. He also opposed the publication of my work, under pretext that it would be premature. 'The church,' he added, 'suffers too deeply from this new current of atheistic ideas, and you would only furnish new food to the calumniators and detractors of the evangelical doctrine. I tell you this in the interest of all Christian churches.' I then called on M. Jules Simon, who found my communication most interesting and advised me to consult M. Renan in regard to the best means of publishing these memoirs.
"The very next day I found myself seated in the study of
the great philosopher. At the end of the interview M. Renan proposed that I
should entrust him with the memoirs in question, that he might make a report
on them to the Academy. This proposition, as the reader will understand, was
most deductive and flattering. Yet I took away the work with me, saying I
wished to revise it once more-- the fact being that I feared if I accepted
this association I would only receive the bare honor of discovering the
chronicles, while the illustrious author of 'The Life of Jesus,' would reap
the glory of the publication and of the commentaries. Believing myself
sufficiently prepared to publish the narrative by adding my own notes, I
finally declined the courteous offer made to me. That I might not, however,
wound the feelings of the great master, whom I deeply respected, I resolved
to await his death, which could not be far off, judging from his feebleness.
Soon after the death of M. Renan, I wrote to M. Jules Simon, and again
sought his advice. His reply was that I should judge for myself the
expediency of giving publicity to the memoirs."
3. WAS HE REALLY THERE?
There are those who claim that Nicholas Notovitch never visited Hemis monastery, and was never shown any manuscripts pertaining to Jesus. Furthermore, they claim that Professor J. Archibold Douglas produced absolute proof that the "Issa scrolls," as the scrolls that Notovitch claimed to have been shown are called, do not exist (see an online criticism of Notovich, as well as mention of Archibold Douglas here).
[It is fortunate that we have obtained a copy of the actual diary of one of the Christian monks of the Morovian Mission of Leh/Ladakh. That diary clearly states that Notovitch did visit Hemis, as we will show below. As we will also show below, the monks at Hemis did remember Notovitch, and they bore testimony to that fact in their conversations with Dr. Fida Hassnain, former Director of Archives, Archaeology, Research and Museums for Kashmir.
[Actually, in truth, there really is no need to try to vindicate Notovitch, because there are many documents that speak of Jesus in India, 99.9% of which have nothing to do with the Hemis Monastery or Nicholas Notovitch or the Issa scrolls. We will deal with those documents in The Tomb link on the Key Players page.
[But the reason that critics of the Jesus-in-India belief focus on Hemis is that, up until the discovery of Dr. Weber's diary, these critics believed that Notovitch's claims about Jesus in India were unique. As such, in their minds, if Notovitch's visit to Hemis could be debunked, then the story of Jesus in India would come to a crashing halt.
[But that did not happen, for the reason stated above: Notovitch is just one tiny part of the story. Whether or not Notovitch had ever visited Hemis, there still exists Persian, Tibetan and Sanskrit documents, all of which mention the sojourn of Jesus in India. The Tarikh-i-Kabir-i-Kashmir, the Bagh-i-Sulaiman, the Ain-ul-Hayat, the Wajees-ut-Tawareekh, the Negaristan-i-Kashmir, the Usool-al-Kafi, the Book of Balauhar and Buddasaf, the Rauzat-us-Safa, Ikmal-ud-Din, the Grugtha Thams Chand, the Bhavishya Mahapurana, the oral traditions of the people of Kashmir, the oral traditions of the Followers of Jesus in Afghanistan, the inscriptions of the Takhat Sulaiman monument in Srinagar, as well as other documents, all mention the sojourn of Jesus in Kashmir, and none of the ones listed above have any connection whatsoever to the Hemis monastery or to Nicholas Notovitch.
[Yet, despite this other abundant evidence that records the sojourn of Jesus in India, Notovitch has been vindicated (as you will discover below). Again, for emphasis: The issue of Jesus in India was not invented by Nicholas Notovitch, nor is the Hemis monastery the only place on earth where information can be found about the life of Jesus in India.
[In short, those who are vehemently opposed to the idea that Jesus lived and died in India will have to dismiss much more than Notovitch's visit to Hemis--and that will not be possible to do, especially since (as we are convinced) much more information on Jesus in India will surface as time goes by.
[In the section belowed entitled, "Others Who visited Hemis and saw the Jesus scrolls," you will learn of several other people who visited Hemis and actually saw the Jesus scrolls.]
We are extremely fortunate, beyond words, to have recently received the critical support of Dr. H. Juergen Trebst of Erlangen, Germany, who took it upon himself to carefully check the text of this section. In doing so, and checking the original text of Brother Weber's diary, he discovered some errors in our account. This section has been revised in accordance with the corrections submitted by Dr. Trebst, and we humbly and graciously thank him. For the benefit of those of you who have not visited our site for a while, we are making some of the corrections in red, so that you can compare to any previous print out you may have made.
Some critics alleged that Hemis Monastery does not even exist (to see a picture of the Hemis Monastery, click here ). Others insist that Nicholas Notovitch had never been in Ladakh/Western Tibet/ and visited Hemis Monastery. This was claimed by an anonymous lady writing to Prof. Max Müller in Oxford; by a missionary from the Moravian Mission in Leh/Ladakh, and others. This Mission station was established in 1885 as a branch to the Keylong station in Lahoul/India, where Br. Jaeschke, Br. Heyde and Pagell worked. A mission diary was commenced in that same year, on August 18, 1885. The first missionary in Leh was Br. Redslob, soon joined by the physician and missionary Dr. K. Marx. It was in their time that Notovitch visited Ladakh, but both of them died in 1891. Thereafter Br. Weber came from the Keylong station to Leh to run the mission station. He did not know of Notovitch, so the missionaries initially denied Notovitch's sojourn in Ladakh.
We have obtained from Dr. Fida Hassnain a copy of the English translation of portions of the German Mission Diary. When Weber later got more information on Notovitch's book, he found an entry in the diary from 1887 mentioning Notovitch's visit. Of course, the missionary was upset about Notovitch's book and wrote a longer statement in the diary as shown below.
The photo of the pages of the diary was made in 1958 by the journalist Mrs. Amlabai Ketkar. Mrs. Ketkar brought the photograph from the Moravian Mission house in Leh/Ladakh, got it translated into English, and furnished copies, along with her comments, to Mr. Aziz Kashmiri, the author of Christ in Kashmir (Roshni publications, Srinagar, Kashmir). Mr. Aziz Kashmir then supplied copies of the photo and German script to Dr. Hassnain, as well as to Mr. Jullal of the German magazine, Stern. Dr. Hassnain featured the photo of the pages of the diary in his book, a A Search for the Historical Jesus. Other authors, such as Holger Kersten, Andreas Faber-Kaiser, Abubakr Ben Ishmael Salahuddin, also featured these pages in their books. In addition, Mrs. Ketkar had the Englisch translation made and sent it to Mr. Aziz Kashmiri. Although the missionary did his best to deny the existence of the Hemis manuscript, he admitted that Notovitch had indeed visit Hemis. The text says:
"As we were then testifying the truth of God, we are at present, on the other hand, still forced to live the life of literature feud for justice and the verity of man. In the autumn 1887 a Russian turned up here, NN [Nicholas Notovitch] and visited the Monastery of H [Hemis] in the neighbourhood of Leh. This gentleman is now living in Paris, and in 1893 he published a larger piece of writing, a "New life of Jesus." He asserts that his foot had been seriously hurt on his travel, not far from Himis [Hemis], and that he had found shelter in the monastery and had been nursed by the monks. They had shown him a Tibetan copy of a book, "The Life of Issa", being kept in Lhassa...According to this book, Jesus as a young man is said to have emigrated, to have studied the Brahmanism in India, and the Buddism in Tibet--to have returned to Palestine as a mature man, and preaching his acquired knowledge and doctrines as the truth of God, to have been generally venerated by the Jews. But Pilate, against the expressed will of the High council, had taken him prisoner and crucified him. But as Pilate even on the grave of Jesus had been afraid of a mutiny of the people, he had given order to place his corpse secretly to another grave, out of which which fact the legend of the resurrection had come into being.
This life of Jesus written in Tibetan language that certain Notovitch asserts to have translated with the help of the monks, although he does not understand the Tibetan language and most certainly could not speak to the Lamas even in Urdu. Actually the aim of this new Evangelium is quite clear to us: the author tends to bridge the space from the 13th up to the 30th year of age of Jesus and to trace back the Godly doctrines of Christ to Brahman and Buddhist wisdom.
Yet after precise inquiries made we had, in order to preserve truth, to attack the author in public; for it is not that the doctrine of Christ is a plagiate, but the whole tale and the whole books is nothing but humbug and a mere lie. Mr. Notovitch, of course, is getting heated very much at our assertion, leading it back to a libelous attitude and narrow minded envy. But, Brother Weber has in his possession an official piece of writing in which the Prior of the Monastery declares that no sick European had been nursed in their monastery and that in their library there was no book on Issa or Jesus, nor had been. In the past year too, Ladak has been visited by a number of European travelers. Two young gentlemen ..."
In addition, the P.S. at the bottom of the translation says the following:
"When I visited the Lamasery [Monastery] at Hemis, and together with the Lama Ishe Tundup and Mr. Stobden interviewed the 'Manager' (The young head Lama being in Tibet studying), the other Lamas who also were present belonging to the Monastery immediately said that their older monks did remember an Englishmen being injured and brought to their Monastery and that some MSS [manuscripts] were shown to him."
The P.S. goes on to state that at that time, in that area, a European of any kind was called an “Englishman” unless his specific nationality was known. So although Notovitch was a Russian, the older monks referred him to as an “Englishman.” Also, it is not at all likely that two different Europeans visited Hemis, suffered a fall and an injury, were nursed by Buddhist monks and given manuscripts to read. Obviously the “Englishman” referred to by the older monks was none other than Nicolas Notovitch.
So, as we see, the Moravian Mission's own diary admitted that Nicholas Notovitch did visit the Hemis monastery. So either Professor Archibald Douglas was mistaken, or he was lying.
But even though it is now proven that Notovitch visited Hemis, does this mean that he was actually shown any documents? When Dr. Fida Hassnain visited the Moravian Mission Church, he came across a bundle of diaries written in German by these Moravian missionaries. Reverend Chattan Phuntchuk explained to Dr. Hassnain that they had recorded all the day-to-day happenings in these diaries. It was by chance that Dr. Hassnain came across the diary containing the above quotes, the same diary that had been photographed by Ms. Amlabai Ketkar in 1958. On page 118 of the diary, written in red ink, were the words: “St. Issa” (St. Jesus). Dr. Hassnain inquired about the document, and Rev. Phuntchuk then explained that the document contained some entries regarding the visit of Nicolas Notovitch to Hemis and about his discovery of scrolls that mentioned St. Issa.
Dr. Hassnain took a photograph of both pages of the diary, and also made some notes.
Dr. Hassnain returned to the monastery several times. Reverend Phuntchuk was no longer in charge of the MoravianMission and had left for another city. When Dr. Hassnain inquired about the diaries that he had photographed on a previous visit, he was told that the diaries were no longer there.
4. OTHERS WHO VISITED HEMIS AND SAW THE JESUS SCROLLS
Mark Mason, in his book, lists a number of other people who visied the Hemis monastery and were voluntarily shown the Jesus scrolls by the monks. So, one wonders why the critics of Nicholas Notovitch rely on the "conclusion" of Archibald Douglas as decisive, when, in fact, a good number of other people visited Hemis and reported that they saw and read the Jesus scrolls for themselves. You will note that Mason mentions Swami Abhedenanda, whom we covered here at this site. Mason gives the exact details, as you will read below. Here is a list of the people, besides Notovitch, that he reveals visited Hemis and saw the documents, or who read other ancient Indian documents mentioning Jesus in India: Swami Abhedenanda (1922), Nicholas Roerich (1925), Madame Caspari (1939), Mrs. Clarence Gasque (1939) and Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha. Mr. Aziz Kashmir, author of Christ in Kashmir, informs the staff of The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website that the following people either saw the documents, or heard an oral reference to the documents: Dr. R. Ravicz (1973), U. Eichstadt (1974), Edward Noack (1970's). Mason also mentions some of these people. Mason says:
Swami Abhedananda, a leading figure in the Ramakrishna Society, was known and respected throughout the world. He read Notovich's book while in America, and some years later (in 1922) finally had the opportunity to travel to Hemis to find out for himself whether Notovitch's story was true. He explained Notovitch's claims to the lamas, who confirmed they were true. Then he was shown a manuscript, which he was told was a translation into Tibetan of an original which was in a monastery at Marbour near Lhasa. With the aid of one of the lamas, Abhedananda made his own translations, which closely agree with those of Notovitch. Abhedananda published his translations of the Issa Scriptures in Kashmir O Tibbate (In Kashmir and Tibet).
The famous and widely respected expatriate Russian artist and intellectual, Nicholas Roerich, visited the Hemis monastery (in 1925), and published his account of the Issa manuscripts in his books Heart of Asia and Altai-Himalaya. Again they confirm Notovitch's story and add some extra details. Like Notovitch and Swami Abhedananda before him, Roerich made his own translation of parts of the Issa manuscripts. Where these three translations overlap, they agree quite well.
In the summer of 1939 Madame Caspairi, a Swiss musician, went on a pilgrimage to India organized by a renowned religious leader Mrs Clarence Gasque. Mrs Gasque was known internationally as the head of the World Fellowship of Faith, and she and her party were most cordially received everywhere they went throughout the pilgrimage. In one case, an Indian maharajah literally rolled out a red carpet to greet them. At Hemis, although they arrived just after the annual performance of a mystery play was over, the lamas performed it a second time in their honour. What happened next was extraordinary:
A few days after the performance, when seated alone on the roof of the monastery, Mrs Gasque and Madame Caspari were approached by the librarian of the convent and two other monks. They were carrying three manuscripts in ornate coverings, one of which the librarian ceremoniously unwrapped. He then presented Mrs. Gasque the parchment leaves and with great reverence said, "These books say your Jesus was here." …
While we have no reason not to take the monks at their word, unfortunately we do not know what the books said. They were written in Tibetan and neither of the two women asked for a translation. However, Madame Caspari did take a picture of the lama proudly displaying the book. In 1951, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas traveled to Hemis. In his Beyond the High Himalayas, he observed that there were many legends in the area concerning the monastery at Hemis, and that one of them related to Jesus. Some people believed Jesus visited Hemis, coming at the age of 14 and leaving at the age of 28, traveling under the name Issa. The legend described Issa's stay there in some detail.
There are two other people who have stumbled upon this legend, even though they had never previously heard of Jesus being in India. Dr Robert S. Ravicz, professor of anthropology at California State University, visited Hemis (in 1975), and while there was told by a friend, an eminent Ladakhi physician, that it was said there were documents at the monastery which stated that Jesus had been to Hemis. In the late 1970's Edward F. Noack was staying at Hemis when a lama at the monastery told him that a manuscript relating the story of Jesus' pilgrimage to Ladakh was locked in the storeroom."
Finally, there is a confirmation of the accuracy of the
Hemis Scriptures about Issa from another part of India al-together, and from
a Hindu rather than a Buddhist source. It will be recalled that these
scriptures said Issa spent six years in Jagannath (now Puri) and other holy
cities of the Hindus, before going to live for a further six years in the
Himalayas. Sri Daya Mata, president of Self- Realization Fellowship, went to
India in 1959, and in an interview with one of India's great spiritual
leaders, His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha, the Shankaracharya of
Puri, she mentioned that she had been told that Jesus "spent some of his
life in India, in association with her illumined sages. His Holiness
replied, 'That is true. I have studied ancient records in the Puri Jagannath
Temple archives confirming those facts. He was known as "Isha," and during
part of his time in India he stayed in the Jagannath Temple. When he
returned to his part of the world, he expounded the teachings that are known
today as Christianity'". . .
Summary chart of documented visitors to Hemis who saw or heard about the Jesus scrolls
It is difficult to believe that the eight people reported to have visited Hemis at various times between the years 1887 and 1974 (a span of 87 years) were all mistaken. It seems clear to us that the Jesus scrolls do exist.
Iit is very difficult to know why a few other visitors to Hemis were denied access to the scrolls, or (as they claim) were told that no scrolls exist. But there may be a very simple reason: the instincts of the monks at Tibet.
We were once informed by one Maulana Azhar Hanif, a Muslim missionary, that another Muslim missionary, some years ago, visited Hemis monastery and asked to see the Jesus scrolls. The monks admitted that the scrolls existed, but refused to allow him to see them. In fact, they said that there were many Jesus scrolls that existed at various monasteries in Tibet. When asked why they refused to allow him to see the scrolls, they gave the following answer. They related to him that years before his visit, a Catholic priest arrived at Hemis. He was greeted warmly, as he appeared to be a very humble and religious man. This priest convinced the monks to allow him to "borrow" some of the scrolls, and they allowed him to do so.
Well, the rest you can easily guess: The priest was allowed to borrow the scrolls, on condition that he bring them back. But he never returned them. We have not been able to verify this story. But we find no reason to doubt it, nor to be surprised that a Catholic priest would steal documents that mentioned the journey of Jesus Christ to India.
The point is that it is certainly possible that the Tibetan monks were selective about who they would allow to see the scrolls. In speaking to Asian scholars, we have come to learn that Asians and Indians are very aware of the history of the theft and destruction of Asian and Indian documents by Europeans. And, I'm sorry to say, Buddhists and Hindus do not trust Muslims either. We can only hope that the Jesus scrolls [it's obvious where we stand, of course!] will one day be released to the public at large. But perhaps it will take some extraordinary individual to convince the monks that the documents will remain with them, and that all that is needed are copies. With today's sophisticated technology, there should be no reason to remove these documents from India. Good photographs would be sufficient.
It is clear why Nicholas Notovitch became a hated man. Opponents of the Jesus-in-India theory often attempt to denigrate the findings of Notovitch by observing that his writings against Judaism were mentioned in Adolph Hitler’s, Mein Kampf. While Adolph Hitler was certainly amongst the most evil human beings in history, his mention of Notovitch’s opinions regarding Judaism, it seems to me, is quite irrelevant to the issue of Jesus in India. This is so especially because of the fact that other evidence now exists supporting the theory that Jesus spent time in India. And independent researchers, such as Dr. Fida Hassnain and Andreas Faber Kaiser, have documented this evidence.
We should state here that neither orthodox Muslims nor orthodox Christians are comfortable with the idea that Jesus may have gone to India as a young man to learn and teach Buddhism. For Muslims, Jesus was a prophet to whom God spoke. As such, he would not have needed to go to India to learn Buddhism. For Christians, Jesus was the Son of God, and did not need to be instructed by Buddhists. We present this material on Notovitch not necessarily to support the idea that Jesus may have gone to India to learn Buddhism, but to show that there is strong evidence, including Notovitch's findings, that Jesus did, indeed, live and die in India.
There are a good number of biographies on Irenaeus, who lived between 125 AD and 202 AD. Just go to a search engine or the various encyclopedias on the web.
The first paragraph of the Catholic Online Saints website page dealing with Irenaeus gives an idea of his place within Christianity:
“The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place among the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the Gnostics, they delivered the Catholic Faith from the real danger of the doctrines of those heretics”
Another article that the reader may wish to check is at the online Catholic Encyclopedia. Below is an excerpt that clearly establishes the powerful and important place of Irenaeus in the Christian Church:
“Irenaeus wrote in Greek many works which have secured for him an exceptional place in Christian literature, because in controverted religious questions of capital importance they exhibit the testimony of a contemporary of the heroic age of the Church, of one who had heard St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, and who, in a manner, belonged to the Apostolic Age.”
In my opinion this particular reference from the works of St. Irenaeus that we have chosen to examine in this link does not come near the strength of the Persian, Sanskrit and other documents presented in the tomb link, at least one of which explicitly equates Yuz Asaf with Jesus Christ. But we are presenting this reference because it appears to present information that states that Jesus was alive long after the age of thirty.
2. IRENAEUS STATES THAT JESUS LIVED TO AT LEAST 100 YEARS OF AGE
We will present excerpts from an important document written by St. Irenaeus entitled, Against Heresies. That entire book is online on the Internet, and can be read at your leisure. The quotes that we will present later come from the Gnostic Society. Library’s online translation of Against Heresies, and we encourage the reader to visit their website and browse through the materials.
Now, it must be stated that St. Irenaeus still believed that Jesus Christ was crucified, but that he was “more than fifty years old when he died.” In fact, Irenaeus believed in the standard teachings of Christianity, as this example, taken from Against Heresies reveals: “...who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensation of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and his future manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father...”
Later you will see that St. Irenaeus stated that Jesus was alive during the reign of the Emperor Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Trajanus). But emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.) began his reign in the year 98 A.D., which means that Jesus would have been at least 98 years old during the reign of Trajan. If Irenaeus was referring to Jesus as being seen in Asia [some believe he was referring to John], then it appears that this was a sighting that Irenaeus believed occurred before the crucifixion, and that, though Jesus was seen in Asia at an older age, this sighting must have occurred before the crucifixion. According to St. Irenaeus, the crucifixion took place when Jesus “was more than fifty years old.” But as you shall see in the tomb link, there exist other evidence that states that the sightings of Jesus in Asia are sightings that occurred after the crucifixion, not before.
Mark Mason (In Search of the Loving God) says the following at his website:
“For instance, in his celebrated book, Against Heresies, which was crucial in establishing church orthodoxy against the perceived threat of the Gnostics, the second century Church Father Irenaeus wrote that Jesus lived to be an old man, and remained in ‘Asia’ with his disciple John, and others, up to the times of the Emperor Trajan, before finally dying. Trajan’s reign began in 98 A.D., at which time Jesus would have been just over 100 years old”
So Mr. Mason is also of the opinion that Irenaeus was referring to Jesus Christ, and not to John. Incidentally, Mark Mason is a committed Christian who believes that Christians should be prepared to accept the possibility that Jesus Christ may have survived the crucifixion and lived and ministered afterwards. He states:
“What are Christians to make of this supposed return of Jesus to India after the crucifixion? Despite the evidence for it being thin, perhaps we could, at least, ask this question: what if the inevitable further research into the theory does authenticate it? What if the remains of ‘Yuz Asaf’ in Srinagar are exhumed and are well enough preserved to show evidence of crucifixion? My own belief is that this should not adversely affect Christian faith. Whether Jesus actually physically died on the cross is a minor point. The important thing is that he suffered for the sins of all, and indeed, if he didn’t physically die he would have suffered much more (have died a worse ‘death’) due to the pain of recovering, than he would have if he had just quickly died and been miraculously raised to life.
“Later versions of the Nicene Creed say Jesus ‘descended into hell’ for three days, which would be a good description of such an ordeal of recovery from terrible wounds while lying in a grave. In either case the Bible makes it clear that Jesus ended up very much alive in his original body, and that his body was not subject to decay during the ordeal (Acts 2:31). What is possible is that he was what we would now call ‘clinically dead’ for a while, and that, like many patients in modern hospitals, he was restored to life. We do not, however, any longer think of ‘clinically dead’ as really being dead—only when the brain has decayed so much as to lose its ability to function do we pronounce a person dead. And, as we have just seen, the Bible says Jesus’ body was not subject to any decay. It is also worth noting that Jesus said there would be no miraculous sign to demonstrate his authority, except the sign of the prophet Jonah…”
“Jesus may have visited India, and he may even have returned there after his crucifixion. We just don’t know for sure yet, one way or the other. The fact that there is room for speculation about this, and that it can’t be ruled out, shows just how little we actually know about Jesus, and the importance of keeping an open mind about him and his teachings.”
The reader will have noticed that Mr. Mason states that the evidence of a visit by Jesus to India after the crucifixion is “thin.” But he then offers the cautious observation that if it is actually proven that Jesus Christ lies in the Roza Bal, then, “this should not adversely affect Christian faith.” As you will discover in subsequent links, the evidence is far from “thin.”
Since we are going to quote excerpts from this ancient, early work of the Christian Church, we ask that the reader, in his or her own time, consider reading Book II of that work. The specific chapter of interest in that book is Chapter 22, #5. The title of the chapter is:
“CHAP. XXII—THE THIRTY AEONS ARE NOT TYPIFIED BY THE FACT THAT CHRIST WAS BAPTIZED IN HIS THIRTIETH YEAR: HE DID NOT SUFFER IN THE TWELFTH MONTH AFTER HIS BAPTISM, BUT WAS MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE DIED.”
The reader may wish to consider taking some time to study the intense polemical war that Irenaeus was conducting against the Gnostics, whom he considered to be heretics. And that is another important factor here: Irenaeus was fighting to defend the Church and to defend the figure of Jesus Christ.
We will now quote St. Irenaeus. Any emphasis is ours:
“5. They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, ‘to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,’ maintain that He preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. [In speaking thus], they are forgetful to their own disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary and more honourable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He excelled all others. For how could He have had disciples, if He did not teach? And how could He have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master? For when He came to be baptized, He had not yet completed His thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age (for thus Luke, who has mentioned His years, has expressed it: ‘Now Jesus was, as it were, beginning to be thirty years old,’(13) when He came to receive baptism); and, [according to these men] He preached only one year reckoning from His baptism. On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years (1) and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. (2) And he [Jesus or John?] remained among them up to the times of Trajan. (3) Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemaeus, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?”
There are some who believe that the sentence, “And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan,” is referring to John. Others, such as Mark Mason, believe that the sentence is referring to Jesus. We do not believe that St. Irenaeus was referring to John, because of the fact that the title of the chapter from which the reference is taken indicates that the topic of discussion surrounded the age of Jesus. But whichever is the case, Irenaeus clearly stated that he believed that Jesus lived to “that more advanced age.” And he stated that Jesus Christ advanced to an “old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher.”
It is difficult to accept Irenaeus’ belief that Jesus died on the cross at some older age, simply because there are other documents that state that he was alive and well, but mention nothing about his having died on the cross at some later date. In short, Irenaeus’ statements cannot be read in isolation, due to the fact that there exists other information that states that Jesus was alive very long after age 30. So Irenaeus’ statements must be weighed against the other available accounts. Irenaeuswas bound by doctrine. So even if he had heard a report that Jesus was alive long after the age of 30, his religious faith in the doctrine would have caused him to draw conclusions based on that doctrine. He would not necessarily, for instance, have concluded that Jesus actually survived the crucifixion. Since he was receiving reports about Jesus having been seen alive many years after the age of 30, he would have concluded that Christian doctrine needed to be adjusted to accommodate what he saw as the reality that Jesus died long after age 30.
Later Irenaeus states the following as his testimony that Jesus Christ was not a mere apparition or ghost, but a physical human being:
“6. But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad,’ they answered Him, ‘Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?’(4) Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, ‘Thou art not yet forty years old.’ For those who wished to convict Him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of His years far beyond the age which they saw He had attained; but they mentioned a period near His real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a conjecture from what they observed that He was above forty years old, and that He certainly was not one of only thirty years of age. For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove Him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and He whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being(5) of flesh and blood”
So you see that in the above testimony, St. Irenaeus attempts to interpret a pre-crucifixion discussion that was held between Jesus Christ and those Jews who were disputing with him. Irenaeus interprets the statement, “Thou art not yet fifty years old...” as clearly indicating that Jesus had at least passed the age of forty. For there would be no reason for his detractors to state “thou art not yet fifty” if he were only thirty. If he were only thirty, they might say “thou art not yet forty.” Of course, it is possible that they could very well have stated “Thou art not yet fifty years old,” even though Jesus was thirty. But that is not what St. Irenaeus believed.
If we are to believe that St. Irenaeus was referring to Jesus Christ having been seen in Asia, and that he was not referring to John, could St. Irenaeus have believed that Jesus was seen in Asia sometime before the age at which St. Irenaeus believed Jesus might have been crucified? Remember, St. Irenaeus believed that Jesus was crucified, as he stated in the title of Chapter 22, at some later time: “...But was more than fifty years old when he died.” But did St. Irenaeus believe that Jesus was even more than 98 years old when he died, since Irenaeus (if we are to believe he was referring to Jesus, and not John) stated that Jesus was seen alive during the reign of Emperor Trajan, who ascended the throne in 98 A.D.? Remember, St. Irenaeus said the following: “...but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher.” Did St. Irenaeus believe that Jesus Christ was an old man when he was crucified? Did St. Irenaeus believe that Jesus was seen alive in Asia during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and that he was crucified at an old age?
Could this explain his belief that Jesus was seen “in Asia” at what he would call “an advanced age”? If we conclude, as some do, that St. Irenaeus was speaking of John, and not Jesus, there still remains the question, why did St. Irenaeus state that Jesus Christ possessed “old age”? Why did St. Irenaeus state that Jesus “was more than fifty years old when he died”? Only the examination of other evidence can shed some light on this question.
"Between truth and the search for it, I choose the
Swami Abhedananda (1866-1939) was a disciple of Swami Ramakrishna (1836-1886). There are critics, as you saw, who claim that Nicholas Notovitch never made the trip to the Hemis Monastery, never found any manuscripts, and that no one at the Hemis Monastery had ever heard of him.
Well, Swami Abhedananda read Notovitch's account, and in 1922 he decided to travel to the Hemis Monastery himself to attempt to verify whether or not documents actually existed that documented the sojourn of Jesus Christ in India before the crucifixion (there are some, such as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who believe that Jesus was too young to have embarked on such an arduous trip alone as a young boy, and only came to India after the crucifixion). In 1929, the Swami published an account of his journey under title, Kashmir O Tibbate. The Swami claimed that he personally handled the ancient manuscripts, and, with the help of a lama that was attending to him, produced his own, independent translation of the documents.
The lama who was acting as the Swami's guide took a manuscript from the shelf and displayed it to the Swami. He told him that it was an exact translation of the original manuscript which was lying in the monastery of Marbour near Lhasa. The original manuscript, he explained, was in the Pali language, while the manuscript that was preserved at Hemis (the one Nicolas Notovitch claimed to have seen, and that the Swami had later been shown in 1922) was written in the Tibetan language. It is said to consist of fourteen chapters and two hundred twenty-four couplets called slokas.
Swami Abhedananda lived in North America for a about twenty-five yeras and made the acquaintance of such people as Thomas Edison, William James and Dr. Max Muller. It was interesting to note that the Swami was at first skeptical of Notovitch's findings. In fact, Swami Abhedananda was determined to find a copy of the Hemis manuscript to expose it as a fraud. But he discovered, instead, that the manuscript actually existed. The Swami then became convinced that the Notovitch discovery was genuine.
Swam Abhedananda's book, Kashmir O Tibbate, includes a Bengali translation of two hundred twenty-four verses that are essentially the same as the verses discovered and recorded by Nicolas. Whether or not Jesus went to India before the crucifixion, after the crucifixion, or both before and after the crucifixion, the real significance is that there is on record in the Hemis Monastery some kind of account that speaks of the presence of Jesus in India. The information for this short account.
This account comes from a document that I obtained from a visitor to the website, entitled, "Swami Abhedananda's Journey into Kashmir and Tibet," by Ansupati Dasgupta and Kunja Bihari Kundu, of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math Publication Department, 19B, Raja Rajkrishna Street, Calcutta-700 006, India. You may purchase a copy of this in book from through Amazon.com.
Assuming that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion, for what purpose would he travel, far away from his homeland, to Kashmir? Perhaps the answer might be found in the Bible:
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them,
saying, ‘Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the
Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of
(Bible, Matthew 10: 5 & 6)
Even Christians believe that one of the Disciples, Thomas, did precisely that: he traveled to India and set up the first Christian communities there. During the ministry of Jesus Christ in Israel there were only two tribes of the Jewish people in his homeland: Yehuda and Binyomin (Judah and Benjamin). The other ten tribes had been scattered away during the First Temple Era. Proponents of the Jesus-in-India theory state that the “lost sheep” mentioned by Jesus Christ in the Bible referred to the ten tribes that had been scattered, and that the term “lost sheep” did not just mean wayward Jews who no longer followed the path of God.
So, after the Ascension of Jesus (or, according to the Jesus-in-India theory, after he began his travels through Asia), the Apostles met in Jerusalem and, in obedience to the above-mentioned Biblical instruction of Jesus Christ to go and preach his message to the remaining Jewish tribes, portioned all the countries of the world amongst themselves. India, which at that time included all Middle East to the present India, was given to Thomas.
The Acta Thomae, an apocryphal book that is historically dated around the end of the first century, shortly after the martyrdom of St. Thomas, gives an account of Thomas’s efforts. Thomas is said to have traveled to India with one Habban, taking a sea route and landing in a port called Sandruk Mahosa. Thomas traveled throughout India spreading the word of Jesus Christ. To this day, local tradition in India supports the accounts located in the Acta Thomae.
"I was sent by Titus Caesar with Ceralius and a thousand riders to a certain town by the name of Thecoa to find out whether a camp could be set up at this place. On my return I saw many prisoners who had been crucified, and recognized three of them as my former companions. I was inwardly very sad about this and went with tears in my eyes to Titus and told him about them. He at once gave the order that they should be taken down and given the best treatment so they could get better. However two of them died while being attended to by the doctor; the third recovered.”
When the average person hears the word crucifixion, two things come to mind: (1) The crucifixion of Jesus Christ; (2) Death. In fact, for most of us crucifixion means death. That is simply because of the fact that there is only one individual that comes to mind when we see the word crucifixion: Jesus Christ. And as we “know,” Jesus Christ died on the cross, right? Well, according to the ancient and noted historian, Flavius Josephus whom we quoted above, it was more than common for a crucifixion victim to be taken down from the cross alive and given “treatment so they could get better.” And, in the case of Flavius’s friends, one of them recovered from his crucifixion wounds. Dr. James Deardorff views Josephus’s testimony as the most powerful evidence that crucifixion victims could survive their ordeal.
We originally wanted to include a number of case studies demonstrating the capacity of human beings to survive all forms of the most horrendous trauma— even for periods of months. Then, as we did the research, we came across so many unbelievable cases that it was simply overwhelming. We did not even know where to begin. Suffice it to say that if the reader studies the matter at a library, or goes to the Internet and searches on “trauma” or “torture,” you will discover some absolutely shocking cases of survival. Seeing these, there should truly be no reason to be surprised that a human being could survive a crucifixion. Countless human beings have recovered from much worse.
Why do we assume that someone who was crucified automatically died on the cross? Well, there is an historical reality that cannot be forgotten. And that is that the Church at one time was the most powerful entity on earth. It was so powerful that it could pull down entire governments. Even though the Church is no longer viewed [by some] as this powerful, we can still get a hint of its might in past times just by recalling that a contemporary Pope, Pope John Paul II, is openly credited with being partially responsible for the downfall of the powerful Soviet Union, through the efforts of the Polish labor union Solidarity, the Catholic population in Poland and underground organizations.
We must remember that the Church carried on one of the most ruthless campaigns in human history for the purpose of establishing its doctrine as the uncontested religious doctrine on earth. One such operation lasted for 603 years (1231 to 1834) and was called the Inquisition [though the most brutal period, it seems, was between 1478 and 1834]. The Inquisition was initiated by Pope Sixtus IV in 1478 under the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella of Spain, and was first called the Spanish Inquisition. In the beginning, the primary targets of the Spanish Inquisition were Muslims and Jews. But the enemy list quickly broadened to include witches, political enemies, scientists who dared propose theories contrary to the Church’s official theories and others.
The Inquisition expanded widely into Europe and found some of its most savage expression during the Protestant Reformation. The methods of the Inquisition included torture, confiscation of property, the ripping of body parts while the victim was still alive through a rack-type device, and execution through burning. Everyone knew that the Church would not hesitate to torture and kill in order to establish its doctrine. Europe had witnessed the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492 and the genocide of the Moriscos—converted Muslims living in Spain who had maintained some of their Islamic practices— under the direction of the Inquisition’s first Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada.
The Inquisition was effective as a weapon against the Reformation. It has been estimated that the Church murdered an astounding 50 million human beings over the period of the Inquisition, which, shockingly, did not end until the 19th century.
Censorship was the rule for the 600-year history of the Inquisition. Pope Paul IV is the Pontiff who created the home of Forbidden Books, and anyone caught in possession of any of the books listed on that home could be subject to ex-communication, horrendous torture and painful death. This home of Forbidden Books was not abolished until the year 1966.
So, it is quite clear why the only understanding that humanity had about the crucifixion was the one given to it by the Church. And it simply was not even possible, as you can see from the above history, that anyone, even though he or she may have fully known that crucifixion victims did not always die, would have even dared speculate about the possibility that Jesus Christ may have survived the crucifixion. [Incidentally, the Church has re-named the Inquisition as the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One can only hope that humanity will never again see 600 years of oppression from any religious institution—Christian or otherwise—claiming to be acting “in the name of God.” It is a great blessing we have, in this modern age, to be able to obtain any kind of information that we wish, no matter its level of controversy].
But what happened to Jesus Christ? We are fortunate to live in modern times, when science and the field of medicine lend us powerful tools of analysis, as well as a language of medical and scientific terminology. These things even allow us to determine what may have occurred physiologically to Jesus Christ during and, assuming he survived the crucifixion, even after his ordeal on the cross. [Later, we will quote Joe Ziasof the Century One Foundation, in which he demonstrates that crucifixion was a torture that often lasted for days].
We are even more fortunate that Dr. Trevor Davies, former (and now retired) personal physician to the Queen of England, has offered his expert medical opinion regarding what might have occurred to Jesus physiologically during and after the crucifixion, concluding that Jesus could not have died on the cross, and that he survived the crucifixion. Dr. Davies and his wife, Margaret, herself a theological scholar, teamed up to write an article entitled, “Resurrection or resuscitation” for the globally prestigious, Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London. We will only present his hypothesis and conclusion, which he offered at the end of the article, though the entire document is well worth reading.
In our view, one could not find a more perfect team—a prestigious medical doctor and a theological scholar—to evaluate the Biblical verses describing the passion of Jesus Christ. What is even more powerful is the fact that the Davies are Christians. Yet, as you will read in Dr. Davies’ conclusion, he believes that Christians should be willing to accept “proven knowledge,” no matter the theological ramifications.
Dr. Davies’ article begins with an analysis of the crucifixion scene. It then covers various theories regarding how Jesus died. And then, finally, it offers his hypothesis, which we present below. Any emphasis is ours:
“All condemned persons were flogged but they were not so weakened as to be unable to carry the patibulum. The strong presumption is that the abuse Jesus received at the Praetorium rendered him unable to carry out a task which other condemned persons were able to perform. This additional abuse, including the blow to the head, accounted for his early collapse on the Cross. At his crucifixion, Jesus was in shock and hypotensive, and lost consciousness because of diminished blood supply to the brain. His ashen skin and immobility were mistaken for death and there is no doubt that the bystanders believed he was dead. The cry (and there is little agreement about what may have been said) may not have been any more than a loud expiration preceding syncope. Oxygen supply to the brain remained minimal, but above a critical level, until the circulation was restored when he was taken down from the Cross and laid on the ground. Chill during the eclipse of the sun helped to maintain the blood pressure. As Jesus showed signs of life he was not placed in a tomb (which may have been the intention to avoid burial rites on the Sabbath) but taken away and tended...”
“The abuse meted out to Jesus in the Praetorium led to his
collapse and early removal from the Cross, and to resuscitation. Individual and
corporate suggestibility among the disciples and the women explains the reports of subsequent appearances. This hypothesis accepts the historical events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus but explains what happened in the light of modern knowledge. “Faith does not require the abandonment of thought or the assent to the concepts not scientifically acceptable. The Church will be stronger if it accommodates proven knowledge with its creeds. If it does not, all that is left is blind belief, far beyond the credulity of most people.”
Dr. Davies’ analysis is quite fascinating. But what puzzles me is the following. While he clearly states that, in his opinion, Jesus survived the crucifixion and was attended to, he then suggests, in later parts of the article which are not quoted above, that the appearances of Jesus to his disciples and followers after the event of the cross were attributable to “transmarginal inhibition, a state of activity of the brain in which hysterical suggestibility (or alternatively counter- suggestibility) frequently occurs.” While we certainly cannot deny the existence of such a phenomenon, we don’t understand why this necessarily means that Jesus did not appear to his followers physically. After all, since Dr. Davies clearly believes that Jesus survived the crucifixion, why then is it not possible that he met his followers physically? He introduces a psychological or even mystical element into what was otherwise a physiological analysis. If Jesus Christ physically survived the crucifixion, then most certainly it is possible that he physically met his followers after the event of the cross.
2. EXAMINATION OF BIBLICAL PASSAGES IN SUPPORT OF SURVIVAL THEORY
2.1 Jonas and Jesus
“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Master, we would see a sign from thee.’ But he answered and said unto them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”
Christians refer to the above passage of the Bible to demonstrate Jesus’ confidence that, in his capacity as the Son of God, he would rise from the dead after his crucifixion. In the view of Christianity, this prophecy is one of the various Biblical signs that establish the truth of Jesus Christ. Well, how could Jesus Christ have known that he would come out of the “heart of the earth” after being buried in the open and airy tomb of Joseph of Arimathea? Whether he was the Son of God, as Christians believe, or a prophet, as Muslims believe, or an enlightened Buddha, as Buddhists believe, if it is assumed that he was some kind of great, spiritually endowed person, then it is not surprising that he may have received some kind of premonition or even direct verbal revelation from God that he would be “resurrected.”
The parallels that are always drawn between the Biblical account of Jonas’ three days in the belly of a whale and Jesus’ three days in the open and airy Garden Tomb are two: First, the fact that the time elapsed in both Biblical events was three days; second, the fact that both Jonas and Jesus escaped their confinement after three days. But there is another parallel: Jonas came out of the belly of the whale alive. Since Jesus Christ is reported, in the New Testament, to have drawn this parallel, must we also conclude that just as Jonas came out of the belly of the whale alive, so Jesus came out of “the heart of the earth” alive? Christian doctrine, of course, would state that Jesus was “alive,” but that he had a special body that was both human and Divine. Of course, most of humanity is not Christian. So, it is quite legitimate for non-Christians to examine the Biblical texts and draw their own conclusions. Even Christians may want to take a second look.
Before continuing, we feel it necessary to say the following. Agnostics, atheists, and religious skeptics would view this use of the Bible to examine alternative possibilities surrounding the events of the crucifixion as meaningless, if not absolutely ridiculous. They would point out that since the Bible contains many questionable verses, and since the compilation of the Bible is to be held highly suspect, that it is a totally unreliable document. As such, the use of the Bible as a reference book would be deemed by them to be wasted exercise.
We do not believe that. One of the things that can lend weight to any document is whether or not the information in it can be found duplicated elsewhere in other documents, or whether or not the information can somehow be corroborated. In fact, one of the charges made by atheists, agnostics, mythicists [people who believe that Jesus Christ never even existed], and skeptics is that since the events of Jesus’ life as recorded in the bible—particularly the Resurrection and the Ascension—cannot be corroborated by historical documents written at the time, then the Biblical account of Jesus Christ must be either false, embellished or pure myth. For instance, Acharya S, a mythicist and author of The Christ Conspiracy, says:
“Despite this fact, however, there are basically no
non-biblical references to a historical Jesus by any known historian of the time
during and after Jesus’ purported advent.”
[Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy (Kempton: Adventures Unlimited Press, 1999), p. 49]
But we contend that the reason one can examine the Bible for evidence of the historical Jesus is that, contrary to what mythicists claim, non-Biblical evidence does exist to support not only the existence of Jesus Christ, but his survival from the crucifixion and his subsequent travels to Kashmir. Of course, mythicists do not, for whatever reasons, seem to wish to study the books of the East, such as the Bhavishya Mahapurana (see later), written in 115 A.D. when Jesus is said to have been still alive, which clearly mentions the sojourn of Jesus Christ to Kashmir, and his meeting with King Shalivahana in the year 78 A.D.
Obviously, since non-Christian documents do exist that record that Jesus Christ lived long after the crucifixion, then a reexamination of the Bible becomes necessary and is also a very legitimate exercise. In reexamining the Bible, you find that the Biblical evidence itself clearly supports the idea that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion, just as it is stated in many books of the East. What is that Biblical evidence? We’ll first examine Biblical verses that lead to the conclusion that Jesus survived the crucifixion. Then we’ll cover the documents and evidence from the East.
2.2 Pilate at Antonia
"And now when the even [evening] was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.”
Perhaps the most intriguing idea put forth by some of the proponents of the Jesus-in-India theory is the notion that Pontius Pilate was intimately involved—at every step of the way—in assuring that Jesus Christ would not die on the cross. In this view, the involvement of Pilate actually goes back to the trial of Jesus, conducted before Pilate at the castle of Antonia. It was at this trial that Pilate might have revealed his sympathy toward Jesus Christ:
“When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death...”
“And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, saying, ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou sayest.’ And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, ‘Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?’ And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, ‘Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?’”
There are two things to note here. First, the Biblical account claims that a custom existed that allowed people to ask for the release of a prisoner of their choosing. If we are to believe the above account, something seems curious. The “chief priests and elders of the people” had taken Jesus Christ before Pilate, specifically, as is stated in Matthew 27:1, for petitioning Pilate to put Jesus to death. Even many non-Christians are very familiar with the Biblical accounts of the absolute hatred that the scribes and Pharisees had for Jesus Christ. One can well imagine the frenzy of a crowd of Jewish priests escorting Jesus to Pilate—they wanted him dead. So what was Pilate’s reaction? After questioning Jesus (not before), he decided to take advantage of a custom and allowed the priests to choose whether they wanted Jesus or Barabbas to be released. If this account is to be believed, it most certainly must have been clear to Pilate how badly they wanted Jesus dead. Yet, after questioning Jesus, he offered to release Barabbas instead, even though it was clear to Pilate that they were extremely anxious to see Jesus executed. Was he doing this just to honor a custom? Or was he doing it in hopes that they might choose freedom for Jesus? Or perhaps he was using his wits for the purpose of gauging the degree of hatred that the priests had for Jesus. Later events suggest that Pilate, after hearing Jesus speak, was impressed, and tried to use a prevailing custom in order to avoid succumbing to the demands of the priests. The following verse might reveal Pilate’s motivation:
“For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.”
Laying aside the question of how the recorders of the Bible knew that “he
knew,” [perhaps through his personal aides and spies], the above verse is quite
interesting. It seems to me that although he knew the true, underlying reason—jealousy—motivating the priests, Pilate’s offer of Barabbas was his way of measuring the level of discontent against Jesus. Supposedly, Barabbas was a very notorious criminal. Yet the priests preferred that Jesus be put the death. So, the request by the Jews to free Barabbas was unusual and was Pilate’s first confirmation that the priests were unjustified in their charges. Also, any intelligent leader of any era would know what happens when a new religious and spiritual teacher enters the scene: The orthodox authorities rally against him. It is a common occurrence in religious history, and Pilate knew precisely what was happening.
“When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, ‘Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.’”
Again, laying aside the question how the Biblical writers knew that Pilate’s wife had had this conversation with Pilate, We’ll examine the above Biblical account. To fully appreciate the above verse, one must understand the times. The Romans, though fierce conquerors and powerful rulers, were also very superstitious. So it is quite believable that Pilate was startled by his wife’s dream. He had stood before an extraordinary man. He knew perfectly well why the Jewish priests were scheming to execute Jesus. He had heard of Jesus and his profound teachings, as well as Jesus’ constant admonishment of the priest class; he had heard of the jealously and envy of the priests against Jesus. Finally, there stood The Man—Jesus. It must have been a powerful experience. So, is it difficult to believe that the superstitious Pilate would have done all in his power to help Jesus? This becomes clear later when we see that he washed his hands as a sign indicating not only that he was removing himself from the matter and giving Jesus over to the priests, but also of his belief in Jesus’ innocence.
“But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask [for] Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, ‘Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?’ They said, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate saith unto them, ‘What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?’ They all said unto him, ‘Let him be crucified! And the governor said, ‘Why? What evil hath he done?’ But they cried out the more, saying, ‘Let him be crucified!’”
Did Pilate ask the question, “Why, what evil hath he done?” because he was ignorant of the charges against Jesus Christ? Obviously he did not. He knew full well what those charges were. So why did he ask the question? He asked for the obvious reason that he did not agree that Jesus Christ had done anything wrong. Many of us have been in situations where we’ve asked that same question about someone who was going to be punished—even if only a child for some minor infraction—for something that the person either did not do or which did not merit any punishment. One can almost hear the plaintive tone in Pilate’s voice. He did not believe the charges against Jesus, and he did not believe that Jesus had done anything wrong. So why didn’t he use his rank and dismiss the crowd? Because the Roman Empire followed a policy dictating that it would not interfere in the religious customs of the people it governed.
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.’ Then answered all the people, and said, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children.’”
Here Pilate openly stated, according to this Biblical account, that he did not want to be responsible for the execution of a “just person.” He reluctantly handed Jesus over to the people. It seems that this episode at Antonia set the stage for the next significant decision by Pilate—his setting of the time of the execution of Jesus Christ.
2.3 Pilate sets the time of the Crucifixion
“And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he is to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”
Did Pilate purposely set the execution time to interfere with Jewish religious law as outlined in Deuteronomy? In the eyes of the Jewish priests, it would have been a huge violation of Jewish religious law to allow Jesus to hang on the cross once the Sabbath had begun. Pilate set the time of execution close enough to the Sabbath so that Jesus would not hang on the cross long enough to die. At the approach of the Sabbath, Jesus would have to be removed from the cross.
But why would he do this? You saw earlier that Pilate was very reluctant to hand Jesus over to the priests to be put the death. He also openly expressed his belief that Jesus was an innocent man. One does not have to assume that he was devoid of human sympathy simply because he was a bureaucrat of a powerful and feared empire. Also, the Biblical narrative states that Pilate was fully aware that the prime motive—jealousy—for the priests’ desire to execute Jesus was an unworthy one. And perhaps most important, his wife had had a frightening dream and had informed Pilate that he should not be involved in the matter at all. And, of course, Pilate washed his hands of the matter. It certainly is not beyond the realm of possibility that Pilate, using his authority, purposely set the time of the execution so that Jesus would have a chance to survive.
Mark states that Jesus was crucified at the third hour (Mark 15: 25). Mark and Matthew state that Jesus died on the cross at the ninth hour (Mark 15: 33-37). So, according to them, Jesus remained on the cross for six hours. But Luke claims that Jesus died at the sixth hour (Luke 23: 44-46), which means that he would have been on the cross for only three hours.
Dr. Fida Hassnain (A Search for the Historical Jesus) is of the opinion that Jesus may have been placed on the cross at the sixth hour. It appears that he is more convinced of the account offered in the book, Crucifixion by an Eye Witness, which claims that Jesus died on the ninth hour and had been on the cross for three hours. It seems that Dr. Hassnain’s attempt is to place the time of Jesus’ “death” closer to the approaching Sabbath. Perhaps in his view this would better demonstrate the sense of urgency in the need of the Jews to take the body of Jesus down from the cross before the Shabbat so that Jewish law would not be broken, as well as Pilate’s collusion in this matter. Hassnain states:
“During ancient times, among the Jews, a day was counted from sunrise, so the third hour could be 9 am, the sixth hour 12 noon and the ninth hour 3 pm. Taking together the information given in the Gospels, I would be inclined to chalk out the events of the day as follows:
“9 am (third hour): the case against Jesus presented before Pilate. Discussions until the sixth hour (12 noon) when final orders were given;
“12 noon (sixth hour): Jesus was put on the cross at Golgotha;
“3 pm (ninth hour): Jesus Christ was taken for dead and was allowed to be taken down from the cross. Thus it seems possible that Jesus remained on the cross for three hours only, because it was both the day before the Sabbath and also the day of preparation for the Passover.”
In summary, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Pontius Pilate purposely set the time of crucifixion in a way that would assure Jesus’ survival after his removal from the cross before the Sabbath. In fact, the Biblical verse we presented earlier, “And Pilate marveled that he were already dead,” shows that Pilate understood that Jesus should not have died so quickly, because he was very surprised when the Centurion told him that Jesus had died. And if, as some believe, Jesus had merely been unconscious, it is possible that he may still have been alive when he was taken down from the cross.
2.4 Pilate and the Centurion?
“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.”
There does not exist a single record, that we know of, documenting a collusion between Pilate and the Centurion. So although we realize that the suggestion of collusion might be labeled speculation, We’ll examine that possibility. Did Pilate issue advance orders to the Centurion instructing him not to break the bones of Jesus? The actions of this Centurion are puzzling. The Bible documents the actions of the Centurions who were on the scene as nothing least than beastly. Jesus Christ had been treated with deep contempt. He had been beaten, crowned with a crown of thorns, mocked and abused. So whether or not Jesus was “dead already,” why should it be believed that the Centurion suddenly adopted some sense of morality and decided to leave the poor corpse alone? Why wouldn’t he have broken the bones anyway out of sheer brutality and the bloodlust of the moment? Also, did the breaking of the bones really ensure that the victim would soon die as a result of suffocation, as popularly believed? [More on that later when we examine a college experiment performed in modern times].
How could the Centurion have believed that Jesus was dead, when the very next verse states that to “ensure” that he was dead, the Centurion “pierced” his side? Well if the reason he did not break his bones was because he was dead, then why pierce the side? If he pierced the side because he wanted to be certain that Jesus was dead, then why not break the bones also to be doubly sure?
Supposedly, the breaking of the bones was meant to ensure that the victim would die, as this breaking removed the support the victim had had from his lower body, thus causing him to sink downwards, crushing his lungs with his ribcage. Who was the Centurion?
2.5 Kersten on Longius
I’d like to reproduce a lengthy passage from Holger Kersten’s book, The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth about the Resurrection. Kersten offers background on the soldier who spared Jesus’ legs. Referring to the identity of this soldier, Kersten states:
“In the apocryphal Acta Pilata he is called Longinus and presented as the captain who supervised the Crucifixion. According to a tradition testified to by Gregory of Nyssa, Longinus was said to have later become a bishop in his Cappadocian homeland. This change of heart may mean that he had some connection with Jesus and his followers before the Crucifixion, or was even a secret follower of Jesus. This would make many of the problems about the events during the Crucifixion understandable. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and the centurion Longinus were among the secret followers of Jesus. Since they held influential positions, they were informed well enough in advance about what the revolutionary exposure of Jesus was leading to.
“Joseph was highly respected as a member of the Sanhedrin. Since the second century BC this had been the high council of the supreme Jewish authorities for all affairs of state, judicature and religion. It consisted of seventy members under the chairmanship of the high priest. Nicodemus, who was initiated by Jesus under cover of night (John 3: 1-22), was also a Jewish Councilor. Thanks to their positions Joseph and Nicodemus had surely been kept well informed about the time and place of the execution and were thus able to plan the rescue of their master. We hear an echo of the advance information given to Nicodemus in a highly revered hagiographical legend of the Middle Ages. It tells how Nicodemus, in a letter sent to Mary Magdalene, warned Jesus about the attack by the Jews, when he was in Ephraim (John 11:53f).
“Joseph and Nicodemus knew the Crucifixion itself could not be avoided. But if they could manage to take Jesus down from the cross early enough, and everything was well planned, it would be possible to keep him alive, and he would probably be able to continue his mission unobserved. It was crucially important to the whole operation that the apostles were not involved. They had gone into hiding for fear of persecution. Nothing would be done against the respected councilors Joseph and Nicodemus or the Roman centurion. So for a limited period there was a chance that the daring operation could be carried out.”
Let’s examine the issue of the lance that was “thrust” into Jesus’ side and the question of the vinegar that was given to him, after which he “gave up the ghost.” Kersten (p. 249) points out that the original Greek word for the thrust by the soldier is nyssein. That word does not suggest a forceful thrust. The word means a light scratch, or a light puncture of the skin. This was considered a test designed to determine if the victim was actually dead. If the victim showed no reaction to this light stabbing, then it was assumed that the victim had died. The second issue has to do with the vinegar given to Jesus by the Centurion:
“Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’: and he bowed his head and gave up the Ghost.”
Did the vinegar contain some kind of opiate? Opium was well known to Jews at that time. Was the vinegar purposely brought to the crucifixion scene by the supporters of Jesus, particularly Joseph and Nicodemus, to serve two purposes: first, to act as a painkiller; second, to render Jesus unconscious?
2.6 On Dying on the Cross
Joe Zias, of the Century One Foundation, observes the following in his piece, Crucifixion in Antiquity—The Evidence:
“A series of experiments carried out by an American medical examiner and pathologist on college students [F.T. Zugibe, 1984: “Death by Crucifixion”, Canadian Society of Forensic Science 17(1):1-13.6.] who volunteered to be tied to crosses, showed that if the students were suspended from crosses with their arms outstretched in the traditional manner depicted in Christian art, they experienced no problems breathing. Thus the often-quoted theory that death on the cross is the result of asphyxiation is no longer tenable if the arms are outstretched. According to the physiological response of the students, which was closely monitored by Zugibe, death in this manner is the result of the victim going into hypovolemic shock. Death in this manner can be in a manner of hours, or days depending on the manner in which the victim is affixed to the cross. If the victim is crucified with a small seat, a sedile, affixed to the upright for minimum support in the region of the buttocks, death can be prolonged for hours and days. In fact, Josephus reports that three friends of his were being crucified in Thecoa by the Romans who, upon intervention by Josephus to Titus were removed from the crosses and with medical care one survived.”
Newsweek Magazine reported the following:
“In most cases, the experts think, death on the cross came within a span of several hours to a day or more, either from loss of blood or from suffocation as the victim’s rib cage collapsed over his diaphragm.”
So there is no question that it is possible to survive a crucifixion. Stroud claimed that in former times, in Central Africa, crucifixion victims would live as long as three days on the cross before finally expiring.
And as is reported each and every year through UPI (United Press International) and API (Associated Press International), during Easter celebrations in the Philippines, actual crucifixions occur and are conducted by overly-devout Christians whose intentions are to atone for their sins. Most of the victims remain on the cross for only a few minutes, and throughout the ceremonies antibacterial agents are administered to prevent infection. But it is claimed that some of the crucifixion victims avoid these more public celebrations and opt for a deeper experience (in remoter areas), actually remaining on the cross for several days before authorities finally discover them, take them down, send them to a hospital for treatment and recovery, then charging them with something akin to disorderly conduct. The account in Stroud’s book claims that such victims can remain alive for days.
While one might register a doubt as to whether or not someone would have himself nailed to a cross for several days, those of you unfamiliar with the Philippine crucifixions probably would have thought, before reading this link, that no one would have himself or herself crucified period, whether for four minutes or three days. So it is quite possible that the rumored Philippine crucifixions that are alleged to take place out of the sight of the authorities involve people who survive the crucifixion for days.
In general, ancient crucifixions were not meant for quick death, but for prolonged torture. The cross was sometimes affixed with various wooden attachments that would allow the weight of the victim to be supported so that he would not die quickly, but slowly. One such device was known as the suppedaneum. The victim would actually stand on this wooden platform. Another was the sedile. This was a wooden attachment on which the victim could sit. As the philosopher Seneca, Nero’s personal secretary, stated: “The life of the person thus sentenced trickled away drop by drop.”
2.7 Jewish Burial practices-A Short but powerful note
“And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”
We contacted, via email, the Shema Israel Torah Network International Burial Society and asked them the following question:
“Have Jewish burial customs changed much in 2000 years? The Bible claims that Jesus was covered with some kind of ointment [I think the Bible says 100 pounds weight of some kind of substance—seems to be quite a lot of weight]. Does that Biblical account actually fall in line with Jewish burial traditions? Because I thought I heard that it was forbidden to touch the body. Could you be so kind as to explain? Thank you.”
We present below the email response We received from Mr. Fishel Todd, a member of that society. Any emphasis is Mr. Todd’s:
“Jewish Burial Law, along with the rest of TRADITIONAL JEWISH LAW has not changed in 2000 years [but more] precisely, 3500 years. You’re right: the body is not to be touched except by giving it a ritual bath called a TAHARA, standing for purity and then the body is put in the ground in the quickest most simple fashion available with only traditional BURIAL SHROUDS.”
For what reason did Nicodemus take a mixture of myrrh and aloes—a full one hundred pounds—to Joseph of Arimathea’s open and airy tomb, not in the manner which the Jews bury their dead, as the last phrase of the verse wrongly contends? Though he may have wound the body of Jesus in linen clothes with spices, it certainly was not to bury a dead man, because no such custom ever existed, according to Mr. Fishel Todd of the Shema Israel Torah Network International Burial Society. If the Biblical account is true, then it is obvious that Nicodemus carried those herbs to the scene for the purpose of applying them to Jesus’ wounds, so that he would be healed. Kersten states:
“The theologian Paul Billerbeck makes the event appear as if an embalming was to take place with the aromatic substances added to oil. But the Rabbinical texts refer only to an oiling of the bodies of the departed. The addition of spices is nowhere mentioned, let alone in these quantities, and was never part of Jewish custom; nor was embalming. Moreover it would be pointless to perform the embalming in the way described. One would have had to remove the entrails to stop the decomposition gases from bursting the body; an incision which would be extremely repulsive to the Jews, and the substances applied would not have served this purpose on their own...”
2.8 After the Crucifixion
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?’”
When the women came to the tomb, they encountered two individuals who asked a simple question: Why are you here looking for a living person at a burial site? Let’s examine another verse:
“And he said unto them, ‘Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.’ And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, ‘Have ye here any meat?’ And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them”
In order to convince the Disciples that he had survived the crucifixion, Jesus asked them to realize that spirits or ghosts or apparitions are not composed of human flesh and human bones. To make his point firmly, he asked them for a piece of meat. They gave him fish and a honeycomb, and he ate in front of them while they watched. The question becomes: What was the need for a supernatural divinity, a supernatural god, or God Himself, to eat food? Aside from his attempts to assure them that they were not seeing an apparition, it is most probable that Jesus was extremely hungry, having gone through pure hell in being beaten and nailed to a cross.
Christians are bound by the doctrine that defines Jesus as both man and God. They view his post-crucifixion appearance as the appearance of this dual being. Non-Christians are not bound by religious faith to believe that Jesus was a special, supernatural being. When one reads the verses above without the condition of religious faith, then those verses become clear and simple, and they demonstrate one reality: Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion.
3. Was Jesus the first savior? 29 Saviors before Jesus
It is probably not commonly known that there existed as many as 29 saviors before the advent of Jesus Christ, whether real or mythical. We do not deny that Jesus Christ was crucified. But the conclusion, drawn by Christians, that Jesus was a unique savior-god is simply not true. It appears that this pre-Christian savior-god motif was borrowed [by Paul?] and attached to the events surrounding the Passion of Jesus Christ. And since the idea of the savior-god was borrowed in this manner, how can the veracity of the Biblical count of Jesus rising to heaven be trusted? And if he didn’t rise to heaven, where did he go?
Had Jesus been the only such savior-god in human history, then the internal accounts in the Bible pertaining to the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ would have to be analyzed only on their own merits. But he was not the only such savior-god. Some believe that the doctrine of Christianity was fashioned to incorporate pre-Christian beliefs that were still prevalent during the time of Jesus Christ—beliefs that were very familiar to people. In short, some of Jesus’ errant followers, such as Paul, created an updated version of an ancient theme for the purpose of accommodating the Gentiles and converting them to the new religion. The savior-gods that have appeared in human history, whether fictional or real, have all or most of the following in common:
· Their mothers were virgins.
· They were born in a cave or in a stable.
· They worked for the salvation of humanity.
· They were called Saviors, Mediators, Healers, etc.
· They were overcome by evil powers [Jesus was tempted by the devil].
· They made a descent into hell.
· After being slain they arose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
· They founded religious institutions.
· They were commemorated by Eucharistic rites.
Many of these savior-gods were believed to make a second coming to the world (see Chart 1).
Kersey Graves states the following:
“The story of the crucifixion, therefore, whether true or false, deified or helped deify many great men and exalt them to the rank of Gods. Though some of the disciples of Buddhism, and some of the primitive professors of Christianity also (including, according to Christian history, Peter and his brother Andrew), voluntarily chose this mode of dying in imitation of their crucified Lord, without experiencing, however, the desired promotion to divine honors. They failed of an exaltation to the deityship, and hence are not now worshiped as Gods.”
There exists another view, different from the one offered by the above author, regarding the origins of the crucifixion theme. It is stated that the idea of birth, death, and resurrection was a religious theme that evolved amongst primitive peoples based on their observation of nature. In viewing nature, their assumption and conclusion was that the Supreme Deity operated in the same manner as could be seen in nature. Spring and summer represented birth; fall and winter represented death, as the land, so to speak, would “die,” and then the return of spring and summer represented resurrection.
Of course, there is only one way to prove that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion, and that is to determine whether or not there exists any record of his life after the crucifixion. And here again we feel obliged to register a mild note of discontent regarding Western writers, but even more particularly, Christian writers. At this website, we get email claiming that the documents mentioning the sojourn of the man believed to be Jesus Christ throughout Asia are bogus. No one ever offers any reason why they believe that the evidence is bogus. But we think we can offer one reason for their charges of *some* of these people: bias
One hesitates to interject such a subject into this important discussion. So that the reader will not think that we are speaking emotionally, however, we would like to reproduce an observation offered by Mr. Zacharias Thundy, author of the book, Buddha and Christ: Nativity Stories and Indian Traditions. Radhakrishnan was an Asian scholar who was considered to have been the foremost scholar of comparative religious studies during the 1950s. Thundy says the following about Radhakrishnan:
“According to him [Radhakrishnan], the real reason that Western scholars appeal to natural evolution to explain the similarities found between Christ and Buddha is that ‘those who are trained in European culture, find it irksome, if not distasteful, to admit the debt of Christian religion to non-Christian sources, especially Hindu and Buddhist.’”
But Thundy also boldly and honestly offers his own observations:
“The history of Western colonialism seems to have given ample support to Kipling’s fear: ‘For East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.’ During the last five centuries of colonial expansion, the colonial powers were not interested in understanding the natives, their religions, and their ideologies. They were driven by crass materialism, which sought to exploit the colonies without much opposition from the Christian moral code. This attitude is echoed in Kipling’s doggerel:
‘Ship me somewhere East of Suez Where the best is like the worst, Where there aren’t no ten commandments, And a man can raise a thirst.’
“‘Those of us who have lived with Europeans in India and the West during the colonial period and after know that most of them as a rule carry the ‘White Man’s Burden’ (Kipling) and the conception of the Orientals as ‘lesser breeds without the law’ (Macaulay); like colonial masters everywhere, they were not accustomed to consider the Easterners as their equals.
“As Radhakrishnan’s observation cited earlier points out, in general, Western scholars, though fascinated by Eastern wisdom, have always found it hard to admit that the West could ever have borrowed anything of worth from the East or the East was ever equal or superior to the West in their cultural accomplishments.
“This ‘critical’ myopia or misguided elitism is called ‘Eurocentrism,’ which describes a provincial outlook that focuses overwhelmingly on European and Western culture while giving short shrift of Asia, Africa and Latin America...
“One reason for the growth of Eurocentrism is probably that most Europeans share the Hegelian view of the East, which combines the Romantic glorification of the East’s antiquity with the rejection of the relevance of it for the present.”
So it is not surprising that the Asian sources and documents that we will present below might not be given proper consideration by Western scholars or by Christians at large. In the first place, the documents demonstrate that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion. So, quite naturally, Christians would quickly label such documents as bogus or hoaxes, etc. Secondly, even in today’s enlightened Internet age there do exist cultural biases against the East in general. As such, we present the following information not for the purpose of seeking verification, nor do we wish or need that the information be given any particular approval before it is made known to the people of the West at large.
In our view, the documents speak for themselves. Yet, to be perfectly fair and honest, we must state that one does wish that the documents would be given scrutiny by those in our Western countries who are gifted in the languages of the East, particularly Persian. For even the suspicion of bias should not be a barrier for the Western scholars to use all the means at their disposal to scrutinize these ancient documents and, as the old saying goes, “let the chips fall where they may.” Keep in mind that we do receive new documents occasionally, and you should periodically check the Ancient Documents page to see if any new document has been added.
The question concerning the location of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel has been resolved in great detail in the Lost Tribes link. Let’s look at a number of sources that document the presence of Jesus Christ in various locations, on his way Eastward to India after the ordeal of the cross.
1. THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS
The Followers of Issa, son of Mariam [Jesus, son of Mary], generally call themselves Muslims, and inhabit a number of villages scattered throughout the western area of Afghanistan whose center is Herat. I have heard of them several times, but considered that they were probably the people who had been converted by the European missionaries from eastern Persia, or that they were a relic of the time when Herat had been a flourishing bishopric of the Nestorians, before the Arabs conquered Persia in the seventh and eighth centuries. But, from their own accounts, and from what I could observe, they seem to have come from a much older source. There must be about a thousand of these Christians. Their chief is Abba Yahiyya (Father John), who can recite the succession of teachers, through nearly sixty generations, to Issa, son of Mariam of Nasara [Nazareth], the Kashmiri.”
The quote clearly states that Jesus Christ taught in Afghanistan and attracted a following of people, the descendants of whom refer to themselves as The Followers of Issa. But does this place him in Afghanistan after the event of the crucifixion? Burke continues:
“Jesus, according to the community, was a carpenter and also a shepherd...The ‘Traditions of the Masih’ (anointed one) is the holy book of the community. They do not believe in the New Testament; or, rather, they say that these Traditions are the New Testament, and that the Gospels, which we have, are partly true but generally written by people who did not understand the teachings of the Master [Jesus].
“Abba Yahiyya, a towering figure with the face of a saint, was certainly an erudite man, and he knew his own scriptures, plus a great deal of the Jewish writings, very well indeed. He had heard of the teachings of the ‘heretics’ as he called what we would call the various sects of Christians known to us, and he wanted no part of them.
“‘My son,’ he said, in his softly accented Persian, ‘these people are reading and repeating a part of the story. They have completely misunderstood the message. We have the story told to us by the Master [Jesus], and through him we will be saved and made whole. Some of the events in that document which you call the Bible are true, but a great deal is made up or imagined or put in for less than worthy reasons. Isa lived for over thirty years after the materials you have were completed, and he told us what was true.
“‘Briefly, the doctrine is that Jesus was the son of God because he had attained that rank through his goodness and sacrifices. Thus he was equal to a divine person. He came after John the Baptist, who himself had reached the highest degree of development possible at that time. John baptized him with water, Jesus with spirit and fire. These were the three stages of understanding, which were taught by our Christians.’
“There was a great deal of confusion at first, because I was talking about sacraments and being saved, while it took me some time to realize that Abba John’s people saw baptism, the Holy Ghost and the Kingdom of God to be three stages in a system of human illumination. This is what they claim is the function of the Church: the preservation of an administration of these three ‘developments’ for the worshipers.
“There is a ritual meal, like the Last Supper, but this is carried out once a week. Bread and wine are eaten, but as symbolic of the grosser and finer nutritions that are the experiences of attainment of nearness to God.
“While it is possible to consider these people as mere heretics, or else as followers of someone else who impersonated Jesus, yet I was singularly impressed by their piety, their feeling of certainty, their simplicity and lack of the unpleasant forms of fervor which one often finds in minority cults. They were convinced, too, that the day would come when the world would discover the truth about Jesus.”
The reader will note that the Followers of Jesus claim that Jesus taught a message quite similar to the Gnostic one we studied earlier, as well as the message contained in the documents discovered by Nicholas Notovitch amongst the Buddhists. Baptism, the Holy Ghost, and the Kingdom of God were three stages of illumination. This idea is contrary to the current Christian doctrine that places Jesus as the intermediary between human beings and perfect knowledge of God. Is it simply “coincidental” that three different groups of people, living in different parts of the world—the Gnostics Christians, the Followers of Jesus in Afghanistan, and the Buddhists of Tibet—shared an understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ that was exactly the same, and yet totally at variance with what is now called “Christianity”?
2. MENTION OF JESUS IN THE NINTH BOOK OF THE HINDU PURANAS, THE BHAVISHYA MAHA PURANA
There are eighteen books of the Hindus called the Puranas. The ninth book, the Bhavishya Mahapurana, records an encounter of King Shalivahana with Jesus Christ near Srinagar long after the crucifixion. In contrast to the Gospels, the exact date of this book is clearly known. It was compiled by Sutta in the year 3191 of the Kaukikia Era. That corresponds to the year 115 AD. (Jesus Christ is believed to have died at age 120, so this account was compiled five years before his death). Alongside the oral tradition of The Followers of Jesus in Afghanistan, this written account is perhaps the most important of any of the documents recording the presence of Jesus long after the crucifixion, because it was written while Jesus, according to the theory, would still have been alive.
Christian scholars state that the only extant Gospels possibly dating to the first century are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Thomas. But they theorize that there may also have existed a Q document [see the discussion in the Buddhist link] that pre-dated these Gospels, and served as the source material for at least Matthew and Luke. This Q document is not available anywhere today. Though scholars assume its existence, we cannot know for certain whether it actually existed prior to the compilation of the Gospels. So the Bhavishya Mahapurana is an extant book that reveals information about Jesus Christ during his lifetime. So it can be suggested that the Bhavishya Mahapurana stands as a more reliable document than any of the Gospels, as it was not derived from a “Q” document, but is an original text. This is a very striking account:
"Shalivahan, who was a grandson of Bikrama Jit, took over the government. He vanquished the attacking hordes of Chinese, Parthians, Scythians and Bactrians. He drew a border between the Arians and the Mleacha (= non-Hindus), and ordered the latter to withdraw to the other side of India. One day, Shalivahan, the chief ot the Sakyas, went into the Himalayas. There, in the Land of the Hun (= Ladakh, a part of the Kushan empire), the powerful king saw a man sitting on a mountain, who seemed to promise auspiciousness. His skin was fair and he wore white garments.
"The king asked the holy man who he was. The other replied: 'I am called a son of God, born of a virgin, minister of the non-believers, relentless in search of the truth.' The king then asked him: 'What is your religion?' The other replied, 'O great king, I come from a foreign country, where there is no longer truth and where evil knows no bounds. In the land of the non-believers, I appeared as the Messiah. But the demon Ihamasi of the barbarians (dasyu) manifested herself in a terrible form; I was delivered unto her in the manner of the non-believers and ended in Ihamasi's realm.
"'O king, lend your ear to the religion that I brought unto
the non-believers: after the purification of the essence and the impure body and
after seeking refuge in the prayers of the Naigama, man will pray to the
Eternal. Through justice, truth, meditation and unity of spirit, man will find
his way to Isa in the center of light. God, as firm as the sun, will finally
unite the spirit of all wandering beings in himself. Thus, O king, Ihamasi will
be destroyed; and the blissful image if Isa, the giver of happiness, will remain
forever in the heart; and I was called Isa-Masih.' After the king heard these
words, he took the teacher of the non-believers and sent him to their pitiless
(verses 16-33 of the third khanda of the Pratisarga parvan of the Bhavishya Mahapurana)
Here again we see a teaching similar to the Gnostic, Buddhist and Afghani versions that we studied earlier, with Jesus here stating that personal acts involving prayer, self-purification, the practice of truth and justice and the practice of meditation would bring human beings to God. In none of those four versions has Jesus spoken about himself as the object of worship or as a mediator through which one must go in order to reach God. And again, this idea is contrary to today’s Christian teachings.
The reader will notice above that the “holy man” used the indefinite article, “a” in describing himself as, “a son of God.” Recall the discussion on the Nazarenes (Ebionites) in the Jesus link in which we quoted verses of the Old Testament that mention Israel, Solomon, and David as God’s “sons.” As stated there, the Nazarenes referred to Jesus as “son of God,” and they used that appellation to describe his spiritual status, not his literal position as the sole Son of God. Also recall the previous section on The Followers of Jesus where the head of that community, Abba Yahya, said that Jesus bore the appellation, son of God, “because he had attained that rank through his goodness and sacrifices.”
Kersten states that the name “Isa,” or “Issa”, derives from the Syrian, Yeshu (Jesus), “being altered to conform to Musa (=Moses).” What is striking about the above account is that Jesus is mentioned by the name that he is known by in the scripture of Islam, the Quran. But the above document was compiled hundreds of years before the Quran was written. Also, the above document was written in Sanskrit—the language of the Hindus, a totally different religion. Since the name Isa appears in an ancient Hindu document as well as in the scripture of Islam, apparently it was a name by which Jesus was known in the East.
Although Kersten states that “Isa” is derived from the Syrian, Yeshu, the above verses seem to use the name Isa as an attributive name, and not as the actual personal name of Jesus. The reader will note that he stated: “…man will find his way to Isa in the center of light.” Then later he refers to himself as Isa-Masih —the Isa Messiah. So, could the word Isa actually have meant some kind of attribute of the Divine? Had this holy man been sent as the “Isa Messiah” to reestablish this special Divine attribute in those to whom he ministered? He defines Isa as, “the giver of happiness,” and does not seem to refer to himself by the name Isa. In short, he is the Messiah of Isa, or he is the Messiah for Isa. It seems that his mission was to teach spiritual practices that would lead to Isa, the giver of happiness, with the words “giver of happiness” being an attribute of God. As he states, “Through justice, truth, meditation and unity of spirit, man will find his way to Isa in the center of light.” It appears that Jesus Christ was teaching a spiritual prescription for finding happiness “in the center of light,” and the words “center of light” must certainly have been metaphorical for the Divine—for God. The word “light” refers not only to physical light. In religious literature of various religions, the word light refers to guidance. So the “center of light” or the center of all guidance would be God.
The reader will also notice the transliteration of the Sanskrit verses of the Bhavishya Mahapurana. This has not appeared at any other website or in any Jesus-in-India book (except Saving the Savior). You will note in the transliteration that the name, “isa masi” is clearly recorded in the first line of verse 26, and we have highlighted the name in bold type. Please note that verse numbers have been placed at the end of a given verse. So, verse 26 runs for two lines, and the actual number has been placed at the end of the verse on the second line. You will also note the name, “isa masiha” in the second line of verse 31, again in bold type.
3. MENTION OF JESUS IN RAUZAT-US-SAFA
Jesus was mentioned in a Persian historical work known as the Rauzat-us-Safa, written by Mir Muhammad Bin Khawand in 1417 A.D. The complete title of that book is, Rauza-tus-Safa fi Sirat-ul-Ambia wal Muluk wal Khulafa (Gardens of Purity concerning the biography of the Prophets and Kings and Caliphs). It was published later, in the year 1852 AD, in Bombay. In this book, he mentions a tradition regarding a visit by Jesus and Mary to Nasibain.
“Jesus (on whom be peace) was named the “Messiah” because he was a great traveler. He wore a woolen scarf on his head and a woolen cloak on his body. He had a stick in his hand; he used to wander from country to country and from city to city. At nightfall he would stay where he was. He ate jungle vegetables, drank jungle water, and went on his travels on foot. His companions, in one of his travels, once bought a horse for him; he rode the horse one day, but as he could not make any provision for the feeding of the horse, he returned it. Journeying from his country, he arrived at Nasibain. With him were a few of his disciples whom he sent into the city to preach. In the city, however, there were current wrong and unfounded rumors about Jesus (on whom be peace) and his mother. The governor of the city, therefore, arrested the disciples and then summoned Jesus. Jesus miraculously healed some persons and exhibited other miracles. The king of the territory of Nasibain, therefore, with all his armies and his people, became a follower of his. The legend of the ‘coming down of food’ contained in the Holy Quran belongs to the days of his travels.”
4. MENTION OF JESUS IN IKMAL-UD-DIN
The author of Ikmal-ud-Din (the original title is, Kamal-ud Din wa Tmam-un Nimat fi Asbat-ul-Ghaibat wa Kashf-ul-Hairet), is Al-Shaikh Al-Said-us- Sadiq Abi Jaffar Muhammad Ibn-i-Ali Ibn-i-Hussain Ibn-i-Musa Ibn-i-Baibuyah al-Qummi, who died in Khorasan in 962 AD. He was a scholar who had traveled to many countries in order to research material for his book. He mentions the travels of Jesus Christ (Yuz Asaf) to Kashmir:
“Then Yuz Asaf, after roaming about in many cities, reached that country which is called Kashmir. He traveled in it far and wide and stayed there and spent his (remaining) life there, until death overtook him, and he left the earthly body and was elevated towards the Light. But before his death, he sent for a disciple of his, Ba’bad, by name, who used to serve him and was well versed in all matters. He expressed his last will to him and said: ‘My time for departing from this world has come. Carry on your duties properly and turn not back from truth, and say your prayers regularly.’ He then directed Ba’bad to prepare a tomb over him (at the very place he died). He then stretched his legs towards the West and head towards the East and died. May God bless him.”
Yuz Asaf taught in parables in the same manner as the Bible records that Jesus taught. Here is a sample of a parable of Yuz Asaf’s that parallels the famous sower-of-seeds parable mentioned by the Gospels:
“When a sower goes to sow and sows, some seeds fall by the wayside, and the birds pick up the seed. Some fall upon stray land, and when they reach the stony foundation they wither away. Some fall among thorns and grow not: but the seed that falls on the good land, grows and brings forth fruit. By the sower is meant the wise, by the seed is meant his words of wisdom. The seeds picked up by birds mean those people who understand not. The seeds on the stony ground are like the words of wisdom that go in one ear and out of the other. The seed that fell among the thorns are like unto those who hear and understand but act not accordingly. Other seeds which fall on good grounds are like those who hear the words of wisdom and obey.”
The Bible records Jesus’ sower parable in the following manner:
“And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Now in our view, the sower parable from Ikmal-ud-Din is very important. First, from the earlier quote we see that Shaikh Sadiq recorded the travels of Yuz Asaf and his eventual arrival in Kashmir. Second, he also recorded one of the important parables of Yuz Asaf. Now since orthodox Muslims have always believed that Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, as we discussed in the Islam link, then Shaikh Sadiq would have no reason to even suspect that Yuz Asaf and Jesus Christ were the same person, simply because of the fact that he was a Muslim who believed in Jesus’ ascension. Even if such a notion had come to his mind, he would have immediately dismissed it, because to entertain such an idea would have been a violation of his religious beliefs.
Also, it is far from likely that Shaikh Sadiq would have inserted this story, deceitfully citing it as a Kashmiri tradition. It is very unlikely because of the fact that the scripture of Shaikh Sadiq was the Quran, not the Bible. The parable of the sower of the seeds does not exist in the Quran, so why would Shaikh Sadiq have taken a Biblical parable that has no connection whatsoever to his own religious tradition and inserted it into his account of Kashmiri tradition? Again, he certainly wasn’t trying to destroy Christian belief by suggesting that Jesus was in Kashmir long after the Crucifixion, because to do so, as we stated above, would have meant the destruction of his own religious beliefs as well, since both orthodox Muslims and orthodox Christians believe in the Ascension of Jesus Christ.
5. MENTION OF JESUS IN THE BUDDHIST BOOK, BOOK OF BALAUHAR AND BUDASAF (YUZ ASAF)
It is believed that the name Budasaf [Bud-Asaf] and Yuz Asaf refer to the same person. An entire Buddhist Book of Budasaf exists which mentions Budasaf (Yuz Asaf) in Kashmir. It says of Budasaf:
“And he reached Kashmir, which was the farthest region at which he ministered, and there his life ended. He left the world and bequeathed his inheritance to a certain disciple called Ababid who had served him. Everything that he did was perfect. And he admonished him and said to him, ‘I have found a worthy shrine and decorated it and brought in lamps for the dying. I have collected the flock with the true face, which had been dispersed and to whom I was sent. And now I shall draw breath through my ascent from the world, by the separation of my soul from my body. Obey the commandments that were given to you, and do not deviate from the path of truth but keep firmly to it in gratitude. And may Ababid be the leader.’ He then commanded Ababid to level off the place for him; he stretched his legs out and lay down. Then, turning his head northwards and his face eastwards, he passed away.”
The reader will note a discrepancy between the above Buddhist account of the death of Jesus Christ and that written in Ikmal-ud-Din. Whatever might be the explanation for why these accounts differ with regard to which direction Jesus faced his head just prior to the moment of his death, this is not to be confused, obviously, with the direction in which he was finally buried in the Roza Bal. The real sarcophagus containing the remains of Yuz Asaf in the Roza Bal lies underground and could at one time be seen through a small aperture. It is interesting that that sarcophagus faces the direction that is in accordance with Jewish custom—east to west. Even considering that the account in Ikmal-ud-Din was referring to the direction he lay at the time of his death, that account is in accordance with the direction of the sarcophagus of Yuz Asaf in the Roza Bal, and must be considered a correct one. Some orthodox Muslims claim that Yuz Asaf is an Islamic saint. This idea cannot be correct because the tradition of Yuz Asaf in Kashmir goes back long before the Islamic period.
6. MENTION OF JESUS IN THE QISA SHAZADA YUZASAPH WO HAKIM BALAUHAR
The Qisa Shazada Yuzasaph wo hakim Balauhar (The Story of the Prince Yuzasaph and the Philosopher Balauhar) is another fascinating Urdu version of the Book of Balauhar and Budasaf that gives an account of the sojourn of Yuz Asaf in Kashmir. To see the Urdu document, click here. This document comes from the the Khuda Baksh Library in Patna, India. Patna is the capital of Bihar province. Khuda Baksh, the person for whm the library was named, was a lover of books who collected thousands of manuscripts and books. The serial number of this book in the library collection is 48293. The translation below is taken from page 131 of that book
"Departing from that town, he visited several other towns preaching to the people. At last he reached the capital city of Kashmir. Having settled there, he called all people towards the Kingdom of God. He stayed there in Kashmir till the last day of his life. At the moment [of his death] he called one of his disciples, who was known among the people by the name of Yabid. This disciple had served his master with much devotion and had obtained a high status in the spiritual succession. Now making his will, Yuzasaph said, 'Now at this last moment my spirit is ready to fly towards the Holy One. It is necessary for all of you to follow the Commandments of God. None should go towards the untruth leaving the truth. All of you should adhere to the prayers and hold fast to the truth.' After saying this, he breathed his last. Dear readers, much wisdom is contained in this story. Understand the hidden wisdom and follow moral and spiritual teachings so that desires for the material world are destroyed from your hearts." (Qisa Shazada Yuzasaph wo hakim Balauhar, p. 131)
7. MENTION OF JESUS IN TARIKH-I-KASHMIR
In his book, Tarikh-i-Kashmir, the historian, Mullah Nadri, made mention of Yuz Asaph, Jesus Christ, in Kashmir:
“After him his son Raja Akh (whose name was Ach), came to the throne. He ruled for sixty years. It is said that he founded the village (of) Achabaal in Kothar district. After him his son, Gopananda, took (the reigns of) Government and ruled the country under the name of Gopadatta. [During his reign] many temples were [built] and on top of Mount Solomon the dome [of the temple] became cracked. He deputed one of his ministers named Sulaiman, who had come from Persia to repair it. Hindus objected that he [the Minister] was an infidel [and belonged to] another religion.
“During this time Hazrat Yuz Asaf having come from Bait-ul Muqaddas [the Holy Land] to this holy valley proclaimed his prophethood. He devoted himself, day and night, in [prayers to] God, and having attained the heights of piety and virtue, he declared himself to be a Messenger [of God] for the people of Kashmir. He invited people [to his religion]. Because the people of the valley had faith in this Prophet, Raja Gopadatta referred the objection of Hindus to him [for decision]. It was because of this Prophet’s orders that Sulaiman, whom Hindus called Sandeman, completed [the repairs of] the dome. [The year was] Fifty and four. Further, on one of the stones of the stairs he [Sulaiman] inscribed: ‘In these times Yuz Asaf proclaimed his prophethood,’ and on the other stone of the stairs he also inscribed that he [Yuz Asaf] was Yusu, Prophet of the Children of Israel.
“I have seen in a book of Hindus that this prophet was really Hazrat Isa [Jesus], the Spirit of God, on whom be peace [and salutations] and had also assumed the name of Yuz Asaf. The real knowledge is with God. He spent his life in this [valley]. After his departure [his death] he was laid to rest in Mohalla Anzmarah. It is also said that lights of prophethood used to emanate from the tomb of this Prophet. Raja Gopadatta having ruled for sixty years and two months, [then] died…”
This is another very interesting recording. It shows that Mullah Nadri clearly gave an account of Yuz Asaf in Kashmir. He stated that Yuz Asaf came from the Holy Land, and that he proclaimed to be a prophet of the Children of Israel, or the Jews. Yet, up to that point, he had not equated this prophet with Jesus Christ. Then, as an objective historian, he recorded a Hindu tradition telling that Isa and Yuz Asaph were the same individual. And he recorded this Hindu tradition even though it was at variance with his own Islamic tradition.
It seems as though Mullah Nadri must have been influenced by this Hindu tradition in some manner. Rather than state that, “Of course my religion, Islam, says that Jesus ascended to heaven,” or just outright deny this Hindu tradition, or even worse, simply leave it out, he states, “The real knowledge is with God.” We think it is very significant that Mullah Nadri would not forcefully deny the tradition or even qualify it by airing his own religious views. Obviously, the Hindu tradition Mullah Nadri mentioned is the same one that records the meeting of King Shalivahana with Jesus Christ—the Bhavishya Mahapurana.
Also, you will notice that Mullah Nadri refers to Isa as the “Spirit of God.” This description of Isa as the “Spirit of God” seems to support our own view, expressed in the section on the Bhavishya Mahapurana, that the name Isa may not be a personal name but is instead attributive in nature.
8. MENTION OF JESUS IN TARIKH-I-KASHMIR (UNKNOWN AUTHOR)
The author of this Tarikh-i-Kashmir is unknown. Note that the document states that “six days after his crucifixion, Jesus visited several places.” To see the original Persian script, click here.
“In early writings, it is mentioned that seventy years after the demise of Alexander the Great, Jesus Christ was born. When he reached the age of thirty years, God raised him to the status of an apostle. At the age of thirty-three years, he proceeded from Palestine towards the Holy Valley [Kashmir]. It is mentioned in historical works that Jesus Christ reached Syria in company of his disciples and followers. It is written in authentic works that six days after his crucifixion, Jesus visited several places and met Zacharis and Mary and Disciples and then left for [an] unknown destination.”
The reference to the “Holy Valley” is speaking of Kashmir, which has been called the Valley of Eternal Peace, and other such names.
9. MENTION OF JESUS IN "THE HISTORY OF RELIGION AND DOCTRINES - THE GLASS MIRROR"
In his book, A Search for the Historical Jesus, Dr. Fida Hassnain , former Director of Kashmir State Archives and of Archeological Research and Museums, mentions a Tibetan manuscript he discovered called Grugtha Thams-chand kyi Khuna dan Dod-Thsul Ston-pe Legs Shad Shel-gyi Melong. (Recall Nicholas Notovitch ’s discovery that Buddhists in Tibet had within their possession ancient documents which recorded the comings and goings of “San Issa,” or “Yesu,” i.e., Jesus) containing information about Jesus. This Tibetan document, written by Le-zan Chhes-kyi Nima , was translated from an ancient Chinese document called, The History of Religion and Doctrines—The Glass Mirror: the relevant portions are reproduced below:
“Yesu, the teacher and founder of the religion, who was born miraculously, proclaimed himself the Savior of the world. He commanded his disciples to observe the ten vows [Ten Commandments], among which includes prohibition of manslaughter and attainment of eternal joy through good deeds. He preached that evil actions plunge one into hell, where there is eternal torment and misery. A sin committed in a state of consciousness cannot be condoned or pardoned. This is one of the virtuous results emerging out of the teachings of the Buddha. His doctrines did not spread extensively, but survived in Asia, for a long period. The above information is derived from the Chinese treatises on religions and doctrines.”
We find it interesting that the above document states that, except in Asia, the teachings of Yesu (Jesus) did not spread. When one considers the differences in the teachings of Yuz Asaf/Yesu when he was in Asia, and those of Christianity as it evolved in the West, one begins to understand the above quote. For, the primary focus of Western Christianity is the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world, but in the East that idea does not exist.
10. MENTION OF JESUS IN THE TARIKH-I-KABIR KASHMIR
The Tarikh-i-Kabir Kashmir was published at Suraj Prakash Press in Amritsar, Punjab in 1902. On page 34 of Volume I of that work, Haji Mohiuddin says the following [To see the original script, click here]:
“Syed Nasir-uddin Khanyari is much revered for spending his life in piety and prayers. He was buried in the famous shrine known as the Rozabal Tomb. His grave is located towards the south of the holy grave of a prophet. As such, the shrine is known as the Site of the Prophet. Khawaja Azam Didmari writes that in the past a Prince, who absorbed himself in prayers and piety attained the station of a Messenger [of God] and was sent to this land for guidance of the people. His name was Yuzu-Asaph. After his death, he was buried here in Mohala Anzmar near Khanyar.
“Mulla Ahmad in his Asar-ul-Ikhyar has quoted that Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin deputed Syed Abdullah Bahaiqi as an Ambassador to Egypt and the Pharoah of Egypt deputed Yuzu-Asaph who was a progeny of Moses as his ambassador. The Shias believe that Yuzu-Asaph descended from Hazrat Imam Jafar-i-Sadiq. However in an Arabic manuscript, it is related the Prince came from Sholapit to Kashmir as a traveler and is buried in Anzmar, Khanyar, Srinagar. But more older information is available that [a] sweet smell used to come from one of the holes of [the] sarcophagus. A lady, who desecrated the tomb became mad. Others believe that it is [the] tomb of a great Prophet who is no other than Hazrat Isa-the Spirit of God.”
You will note from the above that the document presents various opinions regarding the identity of the prince who occupied the Roza Bal, the last one being that he was Hazrat Isa-Jesus Christ.
11. MENTION OF JESUS IN THE WAJEES-UT-TAWARIKH
According to the Tarikh-i-Hassan, the Wajees-ut-Tawarikh was compiled in 1857 by Abdul Nabi Khanyari (Tarikh-i-Hassan, Vol. 1, p. 377). Abdul Nabi Khanyari was known by various names: Abdul Nabi, Naba Shah and Ghulam Nabi. It is to be noted that Raja Gopananda is mentioned in this excerpt, as you will see below, and he ruled over Kashmir during 49 to 109 A.D.
“The grave of Mir Sayyid Naseeruddin is in Khanyar. The place is also known as Rozabal. It is said that at that place exists the grave of Paigambar Yuzu Asaf. He was a prince who had come to this place. Due to his utmost piety and prayers, he was raised to the status of the Messenger (by God) for the people of Kashmir. He preached among the people. It is said that Raja Gopananda ruled over the country during that period. The aroma of musk used to emanate from a hole in the western wall.”
The appellation, “Paigambar” means, “Messenger of God.” So he is mentioned in this document as, “Messenger of God, Yuzu Asaph.”
12. MENTION OF JESUS IN THE BAGH-I-SULAIMAN (GARDEN OF SOLOMON)
The Bagh-i-Sulaiman is a Persian work written by Mir Saadullah Shahabadi Kashmiri in 1780 A.D. It is a history of Kashmir in Persian verse. Note that Yuzu Asaph was known all over Kashmir due to his “status of an Apostle,” and his guidance towards “the Truth.” He was called a “mercy” for the people of the Valley of Kashmir: Sayyid Naseeruddin Rizvi was a Muslim who had become devoted to the memory of Yuzu Asaf. Due to his devotion, in 1451, he was buried in the Roza Bal next to Yuzu Asaf/Jesus Christ.
“Virtuous Sayyid Naseeruddin: The assembly of believers owes its existence to him. His tomb exists in Khanyar in Anzimar. This tomb is significant because of the illuminated grave of a Prophet. All those who visit this sacred place receive aroma of perfumes! It has been narrated that a prince came, abandoned materialistic life, and adopted the path of piety and righteousness. God liked his obedience to Him [and] raised him to the status of an Apostle. He guided the people towards the Truth [and was] a mercy to the Valley (of Kashmir). It is due to this reason that his tomb is famous all over the country.”
13. MENTION OF JESUS IN AN OFFICIAL DECREE OF THE GRAND MUFTI OF KASHMIR
The following decree was issued by the High Court in Kashmir, presided over by the Grand Mufti, a high ranking religious leader, and other judges. The decree clearly affirms that Yuzu-Asaph was sent as a prophet to the people of Kashmir, according to the traditions of the Kashmiri people. This decree was issued in the year 1774 A.D, although Dr. Fida Hassnain's book, The Fifth Gospel, has the date as 1766 A.D.:
THE SEAL OF THE JUSTICE OF
In this High Court of Justice, in the Department of Learning and Piety of the Kingdom.
Rehman Khan, son of Amir Khan, submits that: the kings, the nobles, the ministers and the multitude come from all directions of the kingdom to pay their homage and offereings in cash and kind at the lofty and the holy shrine of Yuz-Asaph, the Prophet, may God bless him.
he is the only and absolute claimant, entitled to receive the offerings and utilize these, and none else has any right whatsoever on these offerings.
A writ of injunction be granted to all those who interfere and others be restrained from interfering with his rights.
Now, this court, after obtaining evidence, concludes as under: It has
been established that during the reign of Raja Gopadatta, who got built
many temples and got repaired, especially, the Throne of Solomon on the
hill of Solomon, Yuz-Asaph came to the valley. Prince by descent, he was
pious and saintly and had given up earthly pursuits. He spent all his time
in prayers and meditation. The people of Kashmir, having become idolaters
after the great flood of Noah, the God Almighty sent Yuz-Asaph as a
Prophet to the people of Kashmir. He proclaimed oneness of God till he
passed away. Yuz-Asaph was buried at Khanyar on the banks of the lake, and
the shrine is known as Rozabal.
Since the shrine is visited by the devotees, both high and common, and since the applicant Rahman Khan is the hereditary custodian of the shrine, it is ordered that he be entitled to receive the offerings, made at the shrine as before, and no one else shall have any right to such offerings. Given under our hand, 11th Jamad-ud-Sani, 1184 A.H., signed and sealed: Milla Fazil, Mohammad Azam, Hafiz Ahsan Ullah, Khizar Mohamad, Faquir Baba, Abdul Shakoor, Mohamad Akbar, Raza Akbar Atta.
14. MENTION OF JESUS ON THE SIGN POST OUTSIDE THE ROZA BAL
The following is the English translation of the information displayed on the signpost that stands outside the Tomb of Jesus Christ. The information contains the views of Khwaja Azam Deddmari , who compiled his Tarikh-i-Azam in about 1729 A.D.
“Nearby is situated the stone of the grave which, according to the people, is the prophet's who arrived from a far off place during ancient times. Anointed for Kashmir: This spot is famous as the resting place of a messenger: I have read in an ancient book that a prince from a foreign land arrived here and engaged himself in piety and prayers [and] became a messenger of God for the Kashmiri people. In that
ancient book his name is mentioned as Yuz Asaf.”
15. THE SCULPTED FOOTPRINTS OF JESUS CHRIST (SHOWING NAILMARKS)
In the letter from Maulvi Abdullah to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Maulvi Abdullah mentioned that near the tomb of Yuz Asaf there existed a sculpted representation of the feet of Yuz Asaph that had been carved by some sculptor. The letter of Maulvi Abdullah was published November 30, 1898 in the book, Raz-i-Haqiqat ('Secret of the Truth'), as we learned in the section on Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Because of the fact that there exist various theories of how crucifixion victims were nailed to the cross, the position of the nail wounds on the carved footprints inside the Roza Bal would be disputed by some, since they show “nail” marks on the tops of the feet. For instance, the year1968 gave us the discovery of the first known actual remains of a crucifixion victim, whose name, from epigraphists’ reading of his ossuary’s inscription, had been Jehohanan. Dr Nicu Haas, of the Anatomy School at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, deduced that Jehohanan’s feet had been nailed through the heels. In 1856 a graffiti representation of a crucifixion victim was found on the wall of the Domus Gelotiana, a palace of the Emperor Nero’s time (54-68 A.D.) on the Palatine Hill in Rome. This graffiti image also seemed to indicate that the victim in question had had his feet nailed through the heels.
Although the Shroud of Turin is variously believed to be a fake or genuine, depending on the scientist interpreting its markings, some say that it is obviously a good depiction—fake or not—of a crucifixion victim; meaning that even if the Shroud had been manufactured by an artist, he had an excellent understanding of the anatomy of a crucifixion [yet, recall our Shroud of Turin discussion, though, where it was shown that it would have been impossible for the Shroud to have been created by an artist in such a perfect manner, because no artist from the Middle-Ages would have had such expert understanding of human anatomy and physiology]. From the Shroud markings, two different opinions have been drawn with regard to the feet. One opinion states that the nail wound in the Man of the Shroud’s right foot can be seen as a slightly darker patch between his tarsal or toe bones. The other opinion states that the frontal image of the Shroud shows that the flow of blood at the victim’s feet appears to originate from the heel area.
But, as Ian Wilson stated in his 1998 book, The Blood and the Shroud:
“What cannot be emphasized enough is that all of the above interpretations are based on evidence that is far too fluid and ambiguous for anyone, whether Zias and Sekeles, Dr. Victor Webster, or myself, to claim that they represent the last word on the subject.”
Therefore, it is quite possible that the “nail” marks shown on the carved footprints of Yuz Asaf in the Roza Bal are correct for his particular crucifixion. And what may be more important than the precise location of the nail marks on the carving is the fact that the sculptor was trying to indicate that the Man of the Tomb had suffered an injury of some type to his feet.
But could some Islamic enemy of Christianity have created the carving? Here again it must be stated that it is absolutely impossible that Muslims sculpted these footprints for the purpose of creating a hoax in order to harm Christianity. Any Muslim claiming that Jesus was dead and buried in the Roza Bal would likely have been severely reprimanded by his Muslim brethren, if not punished or even killed. This is no exaggeration. To this day, members of the heterodox Ahmadiyya community, which believes that Jesus Christ lies dead and buried in the Roza Bal, are severely persecuted in Pakistan for this and other beliefs, as has been reported by the U.S. State Department. We reproduce an excerpt of that report to emphasize the seriousness with which many orthodox Muslims take this matter, and to show that we are not exaggerating when we state that non-orthodox teachings about Jesus or Muhammad or other issues of Islam can sometimes warrant death within the orthodox Islamic world:
“For example, according to the HRCP, in one case prior to 1999, Muhammad Akram was threatened with death by an influential local religious organization after he joined the Ahmadiyya community, whose members are regarded as non-Muslims under the Constitution. The threat was published on the organization's own letterhead, but no legal action has been taken against the group.”
As we saw in the Islam link, the idea that Jesus Christ might have survived the crucifixion is anathema to orthodox Muslims because of the fact that they believe that Jesus Christ is alive in heaven, waiting to return in the last days to establish Islam on this earth. As such, no Muslim would dare violate this orthodox teaching by perpetrating a hoax, because those teachings, as we saw earlier, are deeply embedded. So, whoever the sculptor was, he was sculpting exactly what he knew about the Man of the Tomb: that this man had been wounded in the feet. Dr. Hassnain states the following:
“It was in 1975 that I happened to visit the tomb of Yuzu Asaph along with a colleague of mine, Professor Ghulam Mohi-ud-din. We quietly entered the wooden sarcophagus through a side window...I also found a stone in a corner carved out with a niche to keep a lamp. In another corner was a stone slab fixed in the floor, covered with mud.
“We cleaned it, and to our astonishment the slab had foot impressions with traces of raised wound marks...Next day I took Mr. Bhan, curator of the state museum, with me, and he prepared a plaster cast of the slab. The result was marvelous. It was clear that whoever had chiseled this impression had seen Yuzu Asaph with these wound marks. Jesus had been put on the cross with nails stuck in his feet. Both Yuzu Asaph and Jesus had one thing in common: wound marks on their feet.”
“...The carving had been extraordinary, because on the one hand, raised wound marks were depicted, and secondly, two pads inside the soles of the feet were also shown. It came to light, many years later, that these pads were a clear proof of the genuineness of these feet impressions.
“A German scholar [Gunter Hoffmann], who had come to critically examine these foot-impressions, informed me that these pads [probably] had a special significance in relation to Jesus. During his travels he could have put pads under his soles so that the raised wounds would not irritate his feet. This extraordinary depiction of raised soles showed that the carver was genuine and his carving of the feet- wounds was real and genuine. He saw that there were wounds that had swollen the feet and deformed them. As such, he shows deformed feet, one foot a little different from the other. “Secondly, in one foot there is a little cavity or hole, which showed that one nail was stuck on both feet, placed over one another...”
Hassnain goes on to reproduce a letter that he had received from Kurt Berna of Ludwigsburg, Germany. Berna had taken an interest in the Shroud of Turin. When he heard about the stone carvings of the feet of Yuz Asaph, he wrote to Dr. Hassnain and asked him to send pictures. After Berna examined the pictures, he wrote Hassnain the following:
“'In this case, while it is very interesting to find the nail-wound reproduction of the left foot near the toes, the nail-wound reproduction of the right foot is exactly at the place where the classic view said it should be. This means [that] this man [Yuz Asaph] has been crucified with the left foot over the right foot and only one nail was going through the feet.
“'These are not necessarily the real foot-prints of the man in the tomb. Yet the imprint-maker gave prominence to the signs that the man underneath the tombstone had been crucified, and he did have such marks at these places on the soles of the feet, distinguishing marks!
“'Fact: a crucified man is in the tomb, but if we look on the Holy Shroud of Christ in Turin, we find that the left foot was nailed over the right foot on the cross, because the left knee inside the shroud was more bowed and stiff than the right leg. [This is] A further indication that the man from the Turin Shroud and the person under the Srinagar tomb are the same!”
Dr. Hassnain's 1975 account of these footprints verifies Maulvi Abdullah's 1898 report.
16. COLORS OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID
House of David, November 8, 2000 update
I have received some information that the Tomb of Yuz Asaf was at one time painted blue and white. After checking further, I discovered that older pictures of the tomb of Jesus Christ reveal that the doors or windows were painted blue-green in color, while the walls are white. It is interesting that blueish-green was the color of the tribe of Judah. The term "House of David" refers to being descended from King David, and King David was of the tribe of Judah. Though Christians believe that Jesus was born of a virgin woman, Mary, they also consider him to be a descendant of David, thereby being of the "House of David." Why was the tomb of Yuz Asaf formerly painted with a blue-green color? Why is the actual casket of Yuz Asaf, which lies underground and could once be seen through a small aperture, faced in the direction that the Jews bury their dead? Could the person who painted the tomb of Yuz Asaf have been following the wishes of Yuz Asaf in choosing the blue-green to paint his final resting place? Is this another clue that Yuz Asaf was actually Jesus Christ, a "descendant" of David?
The Bible claims that Jesus was born to Mary, who was married to Joseph "of the house of David."
"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God
unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name
was Joseph, of the house of David; and
the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou
that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what
manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not,
Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in
thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus."
(Luke 1, 26-31)
To the right is a photograph of a side of the Roza Bal, the tomb of Yuz Asaf. Notice the blue-green color of the edge of the windows as well as the blue-green strip that looks to be about one and one-half foot underneath the window, running along the side of the building. As stated above, blue-green was the exact color of the tribe of Judah. It appears obvious that the walls of the tomb were painted white so that the blue-green color of the windows, doors and strip would be highlighted. You may see this and other pictures of famous tombs in Kashmir at the Kashmir: Sufis, Saints and Shrines web site.
The lineage of Joseph, husband of Mary the mother of Jesus, is listed in the first 16 verses of Matthew in the Bible:
1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3. And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
4. And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
5. And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
6. And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
7. And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
8. And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
9. And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10. And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
11. And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon;
12. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13. And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14. And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15. And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16. And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
So, if Luke 1, 26-31 and the first 16 verses of Matthew are to be believed, then Jesus Christ would have been identified as belonging to the House of David, and would have identified with the colors of the tribe of Judah. Indeed, it would have been befitting that his burial place would bear the blue-green colors of the tribe of Judah.
17. MENTION OF JESUS IN THE ACTA THOMAE, A CHRISTIAN WORK
In the Lost Tribes link we saw that the Apostle Thomas had been assigned to go to India to preach the message of Jesus Christ. The Acta Thomae, though, also records an account showing that Jesus Christ was in Taxila at a marriage ceremony, along with Thomas, in the year 49 CE, a good number of years after the crucifixion. This account verifies St. Irenaeus’s observations (see Irenaeus link), recorded in his Against Heresies, that Jesus was seen alive in Asia long after the event of the cross. The Acta Thomae is a Christian work, though it was declared heretical in the year 495 C.E. by a decree of Gelasius.
In the following account, the bridegroom saw whom he thought was Thomas talking to his new bride, but it was not Thomas. Both Thomas and Jesus attended this wedding, and one of them was often mistaken for the other:
“Thomas after the ceremonies left the palace. The bridegroom (Abdagases) lifted the curtain that separated him from his bride. He saw Thomas, as he supposed, conversing with her. Then he asked in surprise: ‘How Canst though be found here? Did I not see thee go out before all?’ And the Lord answered: ‘I am not Thomas, but his brother.’”
Here is another translation of this account:
“11 And the king desired the groomsmen to depart out of the bride-chamber; and when all were gone out and the doors were shut, the bridegroom lifted up the curtain of the bride-chamber to fetch the bride unto him. And he saw the Lord Jesus bearing the likeness of Judas Thomas and speaking with the bride; even of him that but now had blessed them and gone out from them, the apostle; and he saith unto him: ‘Wentest thou not out in the sight of all? How then art thou found here?’ But the Lord said to him: ‘I am not Judas which is also called Thomas but I am his brother.’”
It is not difficult to understand why the Acta Thomae would have been declared heretical: Any mention of the appearance of Jesus Christ after the crucifixion certainly ran counter to the already-formulated Christian.
But it is fair to point out that the words of advice later given by Jesus to the young newlywed couple regarding marriage and conjugal relations are so absurd and outrageous that it would seem to call into question the above account (assuming that what is recorded is what he actually said).
Also, all throughout the Acta Thomae, Thomas refers to Jesus as the “Lord, God.” Certainly if Jesus was traveling with Thomas as a human being, he would not refer to him as God. But we include this account from the Acta Thomae because despite the standard Christology that flows throughout the Acta Thomae, and the absurd advice supposedly given by Jesus to the newlyweds, it is extremely difficult to ignore the fact that the Acta Thomae records an appearance of Jesus in India.
Was the appearance mystical? It does not at all read as if this was the case. Is the Acta Thomae a total and complete fraud? We cannot answer that question. But for one reason or another, the Acta Thomae made a point to mention that a living and walking and talking Jesus was in India with Thomas at a wedding ceremony.
18. THE AIN-UL-HAYAT
The author of the Ain-ul-Hayat was Ibn-i-Muhammad Hadi Muhammad Ismail. In Volume 2, Chapter 2, pages 177 to 178, he states the following regarding Yuz Asaf:
“He went to many cities and preached to those cities. At last he reached the city of Kashmir. He invited its inhabitants to righteousness and resided there till death approached him, and his holy spirit departed from his earthly body and went to rest with God. But before his death he called his companion Ba’bad and made a will…and directed him to construct a tomb for him. He laid himself with his head towards the East and stretched his legs towards the West, and went to the place of Eternity.”
19. MENTION OF JESUS ON THE TAKHAT SULAIMAN (THRONE OF SOLOMON) MONUMENT IN SRINAGAR
The Takhat Sulaiman (Throne of Solomon) is a large temple situated on the top of a hillock near the Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir. It was renamed Sankarachariya by the Hindu Maharaja in 1848. There are four inscriptions on this monument, two of which are still legible. The inscriptions are recorded in Khwaja Hassan Malik’s book, Tarikh-i-Kashmir. They read:
1. The mason of this pillar is Bihishti Zargar, Year fifty and four.
2. Khwaja Rukun son of Murjan erected this pillar.
3. At this time Yuz Asaf proclaimed his prophethood. Year fifty and four.
4. He is Jesus, Prophet of the Children of Israel.
Concerning the year 54, Hassnain notes the following:
“Note that since Islam did not exist during the reign of Gopadatta (79-109 AD), connecting the year 54 with the Muslim Hijra Era is absurd. During that period, the Laukika Era was exclusively used in Kashmir. As this era started in 3076 BC, the 54th year mentioned in the inscription would come to either 22 BC or 78 AD (since Laukika Year 1 is 3076 BC, 3054 would be 22 BC, and 3154 would be 78 AD.) As it was not possible for Jesus Christ to have traveled to Kashmir in 22 BC, I take the year 78 AD to be the correct date of his arrival.”
20. JESUS GETS MARRIED AND HAS CHILDREN
While there are many who regard the idea of Jesus having been married as a blasphemous notion, we see this as perhaps a most wonderful and beautiful “ending” to the story of Jesus Christ. Jesus had suffered the scorn and mockery of his own people, whose scribes and priests had conspired to have him executed. He was nailed to the cross—a torture that no one wishes to imagine. Then throughout his travels he continued to preach and teach, sometimes being driven away by the priests (such as the Zoroastrian priests of Persia). He traveled on, and at the risk of losing his very life he defended the rights of the Sudras in India and attacked the priestly class of the Brahmans, just as he had attacked the scribes and Pharisees in his homeland.
Then a wise king, King Shalivahan, who had met him and experienced Jesus’ teachings, implored Jesus to get married so that he would have a companion. What is surprising is not the fact that Jesus Christ would have united with a female companion. What is surprising is that a man who had so much to teach and so much to share, would not desire to have, and eventually form a union with, a loving female companion with whom he could share all that he had to offer. That mate’s name was Marjan, according to Kashmir tradition.
We have not yet attained a copy of an old, Persian work entitled the Negaris-Tan-i-Kashmir, in which an account of Jesus’ marriage is contained. We will continue trying to get hold of it, and the reader can check from time to time at the website to see if that document has been obtained. You can check the Ancient Documents page at that site, which you can access from the homepage by clicking the hyperlink that reads, “Ancient Documents.”
We have contacted various people, attempting to get hold of this work, including the English translation of the relevant portions. This might be a difficult task, but we are determined to put every effort into securing it. In the meantime, we reproduce below an excerpt from Andreas Faber Kaiser’s, Jesus Died in Kashmir, in which Kaiser relates a conversation he had with Mr. Basharat Saleem, a man who claims to be a living descendant of Jesus Christ:
“He told me that to his knowledge the only written source on this subject [of Jesus’ marriage] was the Negaris-Tan-i-Kashmir, an old Persian book that had been translated into Urdu, and that relates that King Shalewahin (the same king as met and conversed with Jesus in the mountains) told Jesus that he needed a woman to take care of him, and offered him his choice of fifty. Jesus replied that he did not need any and that no one was obliged to work for him, but the king persisted until Jesus agreed to employ a woman to cook for him, look after his house and do his washing. Professor Hassnain told me that the woman’s name was Maryan, and that the same book says that she bore Jesus children.”