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Prophets were ten for a shekel

Sexton Blake

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There were many saintly men and miracle-workers of ancient times in the centuries BCE -Pythagoras, Empedocles, Aristeas, Herrnotimos, Epimenides, Abaris -all of whom were real characters of history and apparently benevolent god-men. It would seem that southern Europe and the Near East were crawling with miracle-workers and glorious magicians.


Then we have another one, named Jesus. Contrary to many claims I have seen, the name Jesus was not rare, but quite common in first century Middle East. Flavius Josephus covered more than just a handful of men named Jesus (English transliteration of Greek Iesous, Jesoun, lesou, depending upon grammatical inflection).


In his Jewish Wars, Josephus wrote of Jesus son of Sapphias (II, 20:4), Jesus son of Shaphat (III, 9:7), Jesus son of Gamalas (IV, 3:9), and Jesus son of Ananus (VI, 5:3).


In his Antiquities, Josephus wrote of:

Jesus brother of John -Bk XI, Ch. 7
Jesus brother of Onias, aka Jason-Bk XII, Ch. 5:1
Jesus son of Phabet- Bk XV, 9:3
Jesus son of Sie-Bk. XVII, 13.1
Jesus son of Damneus -Bk XX, Ch. 9:1
Jesus son of Gamaliel-Bk. XX, 9:4
Jesus son of Josadek -Bk. XX, 10:1


In his autobiography, Josephus wrote of many more men named Jesus. It might seem surprising that nowhere did he write of any "Jesus of Nazareth" or, depending upon which section of the Bible you might select, "Jesus of Bethlehem" - and never of any "Jesus son of Mary" or "Jesus son of Joseph." This, despite the fact that prolific writer Josephus (b. 37 CE) lived shortly after the life of "Jesus Christ" -in the same geographical region, right around the comer from the source of biblical tales and famed "miracles."


In the first and second centuries we have many "christs." Note that the word christ simply means anointed with oils, being a servant of God, or (supposed) messiah. The list of christs includes a certain Theudas; a Judas of Galilee; a Bar Kochba; and a christ-like Samaritan. There was a Jesus son of Sirach, who created a collection of sayings. There was a priest, Jesus son of Schiach, who wrote Ecclesiasticus, being a favorite of Herod's son Archelaus."


Moreover, prior to the first century minor messiahs and prophets include Amos, Habakkuk, Haggai, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Malachi, Micah, Nahum, Obadiah, Zechariah, and Zephaniah, and more.There were four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and four hundred "prophets of the groves" or "prophets of Asherah" (groves in some Bible versions, goddess Asherah in others: 1 Kings 1 8: 19). In the late first century, Josephus recorded a Simon of Peraea, another "King of the Jews," a messiah, a christ. Before Passover, Romans killed him and crucified his followers outside Jerusalem.


We have Manaheim, son of Judas of Galilee. And a savior, John of Gischala; and Simon bar Giora, and Jonathan the weaver-all prophets/ Shabbetai Zevi of Smyrna was a seventeenth century messiah whose cult had a hundred thousand followers/' Is it worth mentioning quite recent "saviors" such as David Koresh, or "Reverend" Jim Jones of Kool-Aid Town, Guyana? How about another twentieth century savior, William M. Branham, whose followers believed he was God in human form?


By my count we have almost 1,000 wanna-be christs even prior to the first century:
Hebrew Prophets:


Judas of Galilee
Bar Kochba
A Christ-like Samaritan
Jesus, son of Sirach
Jesus, son of Schiach
12 named Minor Prophets
1 00 hidden by Obadiah
450 "prophets of Baal"
400 "prophets of the groves (Asherah)"
Simon of Peraea
= at least 969 "true christs" prior to Jesus.


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