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Just Who Were The Parents Of Jesus


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In the opening sentence of a New Testament parable, Jesus stated:


A man of noble birth was on a long journey abroad, to have himself appointed king, and return. (Luke 19:12)


Herein lies part of a profound Gospel truth revealing the substance of historical information that the church has strived for 2000 years to conceal. In this tale of long ago misconceptions and mistaken identities must be clarified so that the original story may be seen to rest upon a true and sure foundation. For this purpose we begin with the examination of church writings purporting to record the birth of Jesus Christ.



The Gospels of Matthew and Luke stated that Jesus Christ was the first born of Mary and Joseph and he had four younger brothers and at least two sisters (Mark 6:3). Roman Catholics are obliged to hold the opinion that the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ were the children of Joseph by a former marriage.




This conclusion originally stemmed from the Gospel of James (the Protevanglium) that related to the age of Joseph at the birth of Jesus. However, it was clearly recorded that Joseph had sex with Mary after the birth of Jesus. The statement in the Gospel of Matthew that Joseph 'knew her not until she had born a son' (Matt. 1:25) eliminated the church's claim that Mary was a perpetual virgin. From the statements in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew it was clear that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were subsequent children of Mary in the fullest sense.



Joseph returned to Galilee with the intention of marrying Mary. The Gospels according to Matthew and Luke clearly explained that they were 'betrothed' before Joseph's departure. This was the equivalent of being `engaged' in modern-day terminology. However, upon his return some months later, it was plainly apparent that Mary `was with child' (Luke 2:5) and it 'could not be hid from Joseph'.




The Gospel of Matthew elaborated extensively upon the feelings of Joseph when he saw the violated condition of his bride-to-be. He was uneasy and being unwilling to defame her, he privately discussed ending their engagement (Matt. 1:19). From the description in the Gospels, it was clear that Joseph was not the biological father of Mary's child. So, who was?




The evidence of the Rabbis



The Jewish records of the Rabbis are of extreme importance in determining Gospel origins and the value of the church presentation of the virgin birth story of Jesus Christ. A common appellation for Jesus in the Talmud was Yeshu'a ben Panthera, an allusion to the widespread Jewish belief during the earliest centuries of the Christian era that Jesus was the result of an illegitimate union between his mother and a Roman soldier named Tiberius Julius Abdes Panthera.



The Talmud enshrines within its pages Jewish oral law. It is divided into two parts, the Mishna and the Gemara. The first discusses such subjects as festivals and sacred things. The Gemara, is basically a commentary on these subjects. When the Talmud was written is not known. Some authorities suggest a date of 150-160, around the same time the Christian Gospels began to emerge, while others say 450.



The Talmud writers mentioned Jesus' name twenty times and quite specifically documented that he was born an illegitimate son of a Roman soldier called Panthera, nicknamed the "Panther". Panthera's existence was confirmed by the discovery of a mysterious tombstone at Bingerbrück in Germany. The engraving etched in the headstone read:


Tiberius Julius Abdes Panthera, an archer, native of Sidon, Phoenicia, who in 9AD was transferred to service in Rhineland (Germany). 1


This inscription added fuel to the theory that Jesus was the illegitimate son of Mary and the soldier Panthera. Classical scholar Professor Morton Smith of the Columbia University USA, described the tombstone as possibly `our only genuine relic of the holy family.' 2 In many Jewish references, Jesus was often referred to as 'ben Panthera', 'ben' meaning, 'son of'. However cautious one ought to be in accepting anything about Jesus from Jewish sources, in the matter of Jesus 'ben Panthera', the writers seem more consistent than the men we now call the church fathers.



Scholars, for centuries, have discussed at length why Jesus was so regularly called ben Panthera. Adamantius Origen, an early Christian historian and church father (185-251), recorded the following verses about Mary from the research records of a highly regarded Second Century historian and author named Celsus (c. 178):


Mary was turned out by her husband, a carpenter by profession, after she had been convicted of unfaithfulness. Cut off by her spouse, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard; that Jesus, on account of his poverty was hired out to go to Egypt; that while there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing.3


Later, in passage 1:32, Origen supported the Jewish records and confirmed that the paramour of the mother of Jesus was a Roman soldier called Panthera, a name he repeated in verse 1:69. Sometime during the 17th Century, those sentences were erased from the oldest Vatican manuscripts and other codices under church control. 4



The traditional church writings of St Epiphanius, the Bishop of Salamis (315-403) again confirmed the ben Panthera story and his information was of a startling nature. This champion of Christian orthodoxy and saint of Roman Catholicism frankly stated:


Jesus was the son of a certain Julius whose surname was Panthera. 5


This was an extraordinary declaration simply recorded in ancient records as accepted church history. The ben Panthera legend was so widespread that two early stalwarts of the Christian church inserted the name in the genealogies of Jesus and Mary as a matter of fact.



Enlarging on that statement, this passage from the Talmud:


Rabbi Shiemon ben Azzai has said: I found' in Jerusalem a book of genealogies; therein was written that Such-an-one (Jesus) is the bastard son of an adulteress. 6


'Such-an-one' was one of the well-known substitutes for Jesus in the Talmud, as has been proved and admitted on either side. Shiemon ben Azzai flourished at the end of the First and beginning of the Second Century. He was one of four famous Rabbis, who according to Talmudic tradition 'entered Paradise'. He was a Chassid (the pious Jews of Palestine), most probably an Essene and remained a celibate and rigid ascetic until his death.



The story of Mary's pregnancy by a Roman soldier also appeared in the sacred book of the Moslems, the Koran. It stated that 'a full-grown man' forced his attentions on Mary, and in her fear of the disgrace that would follow she left the area and bore Jesus in secret. This story was supported in the Gospel of Luke, with the description of the departure of Joseph and Mary from their home prior to the birth. Rape was a common event in Palestine during the Roman occupation and soldiers were notorious for their treatment of young women. It would be unthinkable for Mary to admit such an event had occurred for, under the Law of Moses, a betrothed virgin who had sex with any man during the period of her betrothal, was to be stoned to death by the men of the city (Deut. 22:21). Simply put, Mary faced the death penalty unless she could prove her innocence. 7





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Sounds like Islam to me.

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