© Redazione Vita

The Unknown Biography
of Jesus Christ

Gesù a 29 anni

Beyond what we know from the Gospels
an historical essay

First issue:  1996 - publication by Redazione Vita: January 2017


Introduction

I was fascinated by the life of Theresa Neumann, the German farmer, who lived 35 years without eating or drinking. I read about Neumann the first time in the Autobiography of a Yogi, the famous book written by Yogananda. Neumann had repetitive visions of the life of Jesus. During Holy Week, Neumann fell into a trance to re-live the passion of Jesus Christ. She suffered much anguish with bleeding and temporary loss of weight.

Neumann’s visions, accurately chronicled and reported by many credible and serious witnesses, have been a great contribution to this and other chapters of this book, providing many surprising details that I trust you shall discover in these chapters and in side excursions, perhaps for the first time. The apocryphal writings also play an important role in the telling of my story.

 

 

THE STORY UNFOLDS...

 

To understand better a biography like this, one must see it within its geographical, historical and social context. Therefore, before presenting the biography itself, let us examine some main information on the ambiance of the period.

 

IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD...

The story conventionally unfolds between the years 1 and 33 AD, since we use to count years right from the birth of Jesus Christ. The precise dates, as we will see, are different: between 6 BC. and 30 AD!

 

IN PALESTINE: Canaan

We know also the geographical area: Palestine, for the ancient Jews, a small portion of the Middle East (smaller than Sicily), at the extreme East of the Mediterranean sea, just North of the peninsula of Sinai. It has a wide variety of geographical and climatic ambience, with deserts and fertile areas.

 

 

MAP OF PALESTINE AT THE TIME OF JESUS

 

Palestine includes the Dead sea, the deepest depression in the world (394 m below sea level); it also has various hilly zones, like the one of Jerusalem, that is located at 740 meters above sea level.

The River Jordan has a unique importance for Palestine and for the story of Jesus. It springs from mount Hermon (2800 meters, the highest in Middle East, covered with snow), crosses the whole area from North to South, feeding the lake of Tiberias and ending into the Dead sea. For Jesus' life the lake of Tiberias had a central role. It was also named 'Lake of Gennesareth' or 'Sea of Galilee,' even if its maximum dimensions are only: 21 km by 11 km. Besides its shores, that are at about 210 m below sea level, Jesus performed most of his activities, particularly on its North-West side, by Capernaum. There many of the apostles used to go fishing and an intense commercial activity was present. Its eastern side, by contrast, was semi-desert and for this reason Jesus visited it where he could avoid the crowd and hide away to pray.

Palestine, at Jesus time, was mainly composed of:

As we will see, Jesus often moved between Galilee and Judea, crossing Samaria, and staying mainly West of the River Jordan.

 

AMONG THE JEWISH PEOPLE

The Jews

The people of the region were, mainly, Jews. They had settled there at the time of Abraham. They returned there after their slavery in Egypt, under the leadership of Moses. Lastly, after Nebuchadnezzar deported them to Babylon on 586 BC, Cyrus allowed them to return to Palestine on 515 BC. Their society was mainly pastoral and consisted of farmers, with their obvious surrounding activities; there were also fishers, artisans, merchants, etc.. It was overall hardly a welfare society, lacking any social insurance system we experience today.

The spoken language was Aramaic, a dialect of the ancient Hebrew, that was a dead language, used for the scriptures (like Latin for us in the past centuries. Now the situation has reversed: Aramaic has nearly disappeared, while Hebrew has been revitalized and used for the official documents in modern Israel).
Greek was also spread, for the presence of a wide Greek community; it was the most used language for contacts with the non-Jews, including the Romans (lc) .

The Samaritans

The Samaritans (il) were a hybrid people, derived from a crossing between the Jews and the Assyrians. Some Assyrians had settled in the region of Samaria, between Judea and Galilee, following their invasion around 720 BC.

Assyrians corrupted the religion of the local Jews with various 'heretical' beliefs and rites. So when Cyrus set the Jews free to return to Palestine, they refused to mix themselves with the Samaritans, that they despised.

The Jews did not accept the Samaritans' contribution to rebuilding the destroyed Temple; so the Samaritans built their own on Mount Gerizim. Despite their treatment of religious inferiority, some Samaritans were receptive to Jesus' message and Jesus pointed to them as being better than many observant Jews. Jesus used a Samaritan character in his famous parable about a person demonstrating his love for his neighbor. So the word 'Samaritan' is sometimes also used as a synonym for a person who gives succor to the sick and injured.

The Temple

The religious life was centered on Jerusalem, the 'holy city,' the seat of the only true Temple of the Jews.
The Temple was the sacred building of Jerusalem wherein the Ark of the Covenant was kept, that contained the tables of the law, given by God to Moses. The ark had been built according to some very detailed revealed instructions.

The Temple was therefore unique in Israel. King Solomon built it for the first time to provide a stable shelter to the ark, that until then was stored under a tent. The enemy Army of Nebuchadnezzar, while assaulting Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and probably the ark itself. After the Jews were liberated from Babylon and returned to Jerusalem, they rebuilt the Temple, but it was now empty. It had an inner room, called the 'Holy of Holies' where God was supposed to dwell. The room was kept closed, except for a yearly visit by the high priest, during the holiday of Kippur.

The uniqueness of the Temple represented the unity of the Jewish people. It indicated the periodic pilgrimages to Jerusalem by the Jews spread all over the world in the occasion of the major holidays. All the Jews, from any city and nation where they lived, used to visit Jerusalem on the main holidays. This was particularly important on Passover, the holiday that recalls the liberation of the Jewish people from its slavery in Egypt.

The Temple was destroyed again and forever by the Romans on 70 AD (as foreseen by Jesus). Today we can only see a part of its walls. It is today known as the Wailing Wall.

In its place of the Temple there is the Mosque of Omar.

The priests managed the Temple. They were selected among the men of the tribe of Levi and were helped by a class of lower ministers, called Levites. At the time of Jesus the king appointed and removed the high priest.

In all the other cities and villages of the time there were other religious buildings called synagogues. The synagogues were used primarily to read the scriptures during the offices of the Sabbath, to pray and to teach religious education. The synagogue was not managed by the priests, but by the elders of the people.

The Sanhedrin

The Sanhedrin was the supreme council of Israel. It was led by the high priest. It consisted of 70 members:

Israel was based on a theocratic order, so the Sanhedrin had both religious and political powers.

The Scribes

The scribes were the doctors of the law. They studied and wrote interpretations and comments to the law. They were not necessarily priests, but most often belonged to the class of Pharisees.

The Pharisees

The Pharisees were named after a group known as 'Perushim,’ or ‘separated,’ because they despised all other people. They made up part of a nationalistic religious party that preferred the oral traditions of the law as explained in the Talmud.


The Talmud is full of small formal rules, derived from past interpretations. Its main arguments concerned the sabbatical rest, the rite's purity and the payment of the tithe, but included thousands of directions. They exalted discrimination against the low level people, the Samaritans and the strangers, thus creating a situation similar to that of the Indian castes. Because of that they were the only moral target of Jesus, who could accept everything but that.

The Sadducees

The Sadducees were named after Sadok, a name originating from Tsedukim,, the originator of a house of priests. They were members of an aristocratic religious group that unlike the Pharisees accepted the strangers and particularly the Greeks. They followed the original law, written by Moses: the Torah, that counted 'only' 613 precepts.

The Publicans

The Publicans were not a religious group as the above ones, but we mention them here because the Gospels mention them, often in relationship to the Pharisees. They were the tax collectors on behalf of the Romans. The Jews were compelled to pay taxes to their invaders. It is easy to imagine what considerations they had for those of their own people that made themselves available for such a duty. That condition of public scorn caused the Publicans to become de-facto members of a degraded class and no orthodox Jew would have any contact with them. Additionally their job exposed them to the temptation of requiring more than the right tariffs from people, keeping the extra for themselves; that caused them much ill will. We can imagine that the low esteem in which they were held did not encourage them to remain honest. So a vicious circle erupted.

The Main Jewish Holidays

The main Jewish holidays were three:

  1. Passover: This is the remembrance of the Jews of their from slavery in Egypt, under the leadership of Moses. Its main ceremony was the immolation and eating of the lamb. It falls on 14 Nisan (between mid March and mid April). Its name and approximate date are followed by the Christian religion, for which the sacrificed lamb is Jesus.
  2. Pentecost: On this day the Jews offered to the Temple their bread, which was made with newly harvested corn. It falls fifty days after Passover, hence its name of Greek origin. Also this feast was taken as a Christian holiday, as a memory of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles.
  3. The Tabernacles: This is a commemoration of the huts made by the Jews during their escape from Egypt. It falls six months after Passover on 15 Tishri (at the beginning of October). It lasted eight days, during which the Jews used to build some huts made with branches..

For these holidays the adult male Jews were due to go in pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The feast of Dedication was a minor one. It commemorated the Temple purification after Antiocus Epifanus profaned it in 170 BC. The feast fell in December and lasted eight days, during which the Jews used to make some great illuminations.


DURING THE ROMAN DOMINATION

At that time the Jews, like many other peoples, were under the Roman Empire, that ruled most of Europe and the Mediterranean coasts. This understandably was not in sync with the aspirations of the Jewish people. There were troublesome events and rebellion movements against the Roman domination These events had some influence upon Jesus and his times.

Rome permitted a certain about of administrative autonomy to the subjugated peoples, so the Jews had their kings. Rome respected the Jewish religious traditions of the time, so the Jews did not have to work, nor could they be prosecuted on Saturday.

At the time of Jesus' birth, as we know, Herod, known as Herod the Great, was the king of Palestine. During Jesus' life, Judea passed under the direct administration of a Roman governor: Pontius Pilate. Galilee was committed to one of Herod's sons: Herod Antipas.

Two Roman emperors ruled during Jesus' life:

Herod the Great

Herod was the king of Palestine between 40 and 4 BC. He was established by Antonio and Ottaviano (before the last one became the emperor Augustus). He was not a Jew, but the son of an Idumeus and an Arab woman. His name meant 'descendant of heroes.' He had the Temple rebuilt larger and more beautiful than before his time.

Herod's nickname 'the great' must refer to his status in history as the 'senior' Herod, compared to his son Antipas (see below), because there is no other reason for any other interpretation.


He had four spouses: Mariamme, Maltace, Cleopatra, and Mariamme.

Herod was irascible, cruel and greedy for power; he was one of the most bloody men in history. His 'massacre of the innocents,' that made him so infamous, was but one of his numerous mischievous adventures. Among other misdeeds attributed to Herod are the murders he personally committed or ordered, including those of his many friends and relative. They are:

He died in Jericho at 70 on 4 BC, after months of horrible suffering, by cancer of the genitals (tn).

He had designated three of his sons for succession:

That designation though was subject to the approval of the Roman emperor Augustus, who initially accepted those nominations, with the variant that Archelaus was not king but just 'etnarch' (a kind of governor). Two years later, however, after some complaints from the Jews, Augustus removed Archelaus and exiled him to Vienna. The regions once governed by Archelaus passed under the direct Roman administration through a governor (see below).

Herod Antipas

Antipas ruled from 4 BC to 40 AD, so he was on duty in Galilee during most of Jesus' life.
He was much more quiet than his father, mostly devoted to his own vices. He founded the new town of Tiberias, in honor of the Roman emperor Tiberius. Tiberias was on the west side of the sea of Galilee, that was thus named also Lake of Tiberias.


During a visit to Rome a step brother of his (Herod Philip, who was running a private life) hosted him. Antipas stole Philip's spouse Herodias, who later on went to Palestine to live with him and took her daughter Salome along.

Antipas' legitimate spouse went back to her father who was an Arab king. He declared war on Antipas, defeating him. After some attempts by Antipas increase his power, the Roman Emperor Caligula ended up removing and exiling him to Lyon.

 

Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was the procurator, that ruled Judea in the name of the Roman emperor between 26 and 36 AD. He lived at Caesarea Marittima, a city founded by Herod the Great on the seaside. Sometimes he stayed in Jerusalem.


After Pilate had many Samaritans killed, he was removed from his office, after which we lose his historical traces.


According to tradition, Pilate committed suicide in Rome by throwing himself into the Tiber River. When his corpse reached the sea it was carried up to the Rhone River and up to the Swiss lakes, resulting in a Swiss central mountain range being called 'Pilatus.'

Another tradition states that he was converted to Christianity. The Coptic Church venerates him as a saint.

Now, let’s begin the story.

 

The Annunciation

Mary had been formally engaged to Joseph, but she was not living with him when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her in the form of a boy. Gabriel told Mary that she would miraculously conceive a son, who she should give the name of Jesus. Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I do not know man?"

The angel replied to her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence, the holy offspring to be born will be called Son of God." Shortly after this, Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who had conceived a son in her old age, into her seventies. Mary went to the far away mountain town, Ain Karim, in the area of Jerusalem, about 130 km from Nazareth.

As soon as Mary reached Elizabeth, she received from her the first acknowledgment of the mysterious facts that were her pregnancy. Elizabeth, in fact, intuitively knew Mary was pregnant with the "divine motherhood." Before Mary could say anything, Elizabeth greeted her aloud, saying: "Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."

Three months passed and then John was born, the spiritual forerunner of Jesus, who became known as John the Baptist.

Mary returned to Nazareth. As she began showing her pregnancy, she remained at home, to avoid the gossip of her fellow villagers who knew Mary and Joseph had not lived as husband and wife.

Joseph returned to Nazareth from the place where he had been working, probably Capernaum. When he saw that Mary was pregnant, he became sorrowful that he had not been with her to protect and help her deal with the villagers. At first, Joseph thought it might be best if he left, hoping to save Mary from punishments and humiliations. But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, "Do not worry to take Mary with you, because what is generated in her womb comes from the Holy Spirit. She shall give birth to a child and you shall call him Jesus. In fact, he will save his people from their sins."

Joseph accepted and was cheered by what the angel had told him. He decided to stay at Mary’s side.

Mary’s pregnancy, however, did not escape the notice of the priests. Although they knew Joseph was committed to Mary, they also knew he had agreed to respect Mary’s vow of chastity. As a result, they were taken to the temple for a public judgment of the priests (gc, nv) . First, they were interrogated, then, having declared their innocence, they underwent a trial.

The trial, in use among the Jewish people of the time, consisted of drinking a liquid called ‘the bitter waters,’ composed of holy water and soil from the tabernacle of the temple. They then had to make the turn of the altar seven times. According to custom, if Joseph and Mary had lied, God would have made a sign on their faces and they would have died!

Mary and Joseph, one after the other, underwent the trial. They were then sent into the desert to await the results. Once they overcame the trial, they were judged innocent by the priests and again accepted back into the community.

Traveling toward Bethlehem

Near the conclusion of her pregnancy, Mary was informed by Joseph that Emperor Augustus had ordered a census. Everyone was ordered to go to the town of their birth in order to register. As head of household, Joseph was required to report and register at Bethlehem, a town eight kilometers south of Jerusalem.

Although the idea of a woman nearing the time of her delivery traveling by foot and donkey is inconceivable in our modern world, Mary and Joseph obeyed the order of their governing authority. Late in the ninth month of Mary’s pregnancy, they set out to travel the 120 km from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Joseph and Mary left (tn) with a female donkey that furnished milk as well as transportation. They had a tent consisting of three poles and a gray cloth, for use in an emergency. They also brought along some bread, fruit, blankets, linen cloths, a suit for each of them and shirts for the baby.

They left at about six o’clock in the morning. Mary rode the donkey. Joseph walked forward on the left side of the donkey, holding the reins in his right hand. He had a travel staff in his left hand, it was taller than himself and curved on top. He wore a dark yellow shirt and a brown mantle. Mary wore a brownish-red suit, a yellow shawl and a warm, gray mantle.

The roads were muddy. The weather was cold and rainy.

The trip lasted three days and two nights.

The first night, they would not find an inn. They spent it under their tent, lying on blankets. The next morning, they left at 5:30 A.M. They traveled until midday. Mary walked from time to time to spare the donkey.

About noon the second day, they met an old couple with two children, a boy and a girl. The strangers invited Joseph and Mary into their home where they were offered a hot lunch. In the years to come, the children would become followers of John the Baptist and then Christians. The boy was among the first group of Jesus’ disciples. The girl was killed by her relatives because she was getting rid of the idols in her house.

The second night, Joseph and Mary stayed in a small inn.

They left at 6:00 A.M. the morning of the third day for Bethlehem, it was still cold and rainy. After traveling all day, they reached the town of Bethlehem just before dark. At this time, Bethlehem had streets paved with large stones and about a thousand inhabitants.

A Place to be Born

Joseph inquired at many houses and inns for a room for the night but he was unsuccessful. He even went to visit his own birth home but with no success. Meanwhile, he took care of his registration duties in connection with the census.

Eventually, Joseph met a kindly man. The man offered to let Joseph and Mary stay the night inside a stable that he co-owned a few hundred meters outside of the town. Joseph accepted. He lighted a lamp and carried it to light the way. About eight o’clock that night they reached the stable. Its size was about seven meters by four, built out of wood boards. It was built over the entrance of a small grotto, existing on a hillside; therefore it was partly a grotto and mainly a built-up stable. It had a sliding door in the middle of the main wall; its roof was lower in front and higher on the back. The place was dirty and cold, but there was no animal; rock pieces were scattered on the uneven floor. Several posts, one meter high, were aligned along the back and side walls and there were five cribs, standing on crossed feet. Much straw of two types: stronger and softer, was spread all around.

Joseph hanged the lamp to the ceiling. He set up two separate beds of straw. He covered both of them with tent cloth and blankets. Mary lied on the right side, and Joseph on the left.

 

 

THE CHRISTMAS STABLE-GROTTO

Schematic reconstruction

 

 

 

The True Date of Christmas

It was probably April 25 of the year 6 BC, 748 years after the foundation of Rome, and not December 25 of the first year of the Christian Era, as is commonly accepted.

The first Christians celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Jesus on April 25, then on June 24, before it was moved to January 6. The present date of December 25 was decided by the Church in 336 AD The intention was to replace a pagan feast known as Saturnalia, that celebrated the pagan god, Saturn.

As for the historical references, some studies compared the content of the Gospels with information about the years of the reign of Herod and of the Roman emperors. They thus erroneously concluded Jesus’ birth was five or six years before the actual first year of the Christian Era. In fact, Jesus was most certainly born before the death of Herod who is known to have died in April of the year 4 BC Perhaps you will recall that after the Magis had reported to Herod about the birth of Jesus, it was then Herod ordered that all babies under the age of two years be killed.

The Virgin Birth

That night in the stable, about eleven o’clock, Mary entered a holy state. She dropped to her knees in adoration. Then the delivery of Jesus happened. It was completely painless. A great light shined within and around the stable. For a moment, the world’s life stopped in a sense of astonishment (gc).

Jesus was born about midnight. The baby had dark blue eyes and light brown hair.

Mary dried Jesus. She wrapped him in linen clothes and little shirt with long sleeves. She covered him with a little wool blanket. She rested Jesus in a little manger about one meter long. According to a tradition this manger was saved over the centuries and arrived till our days. Five pieces of wood, that used to be part of it are kept under the main altar of the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Meanwhile, Joseph searched for a midwife to help Mary. He located two of them, Zelomi and Salome.

Zelomi, who entered the stable to attend Mary first, ascertained to her astonishment that Mary was still virgin, despite her delivering the baby, Jesus. She rushed over to Salome to inform her but Salome said she would not believe that, unless she could verify it personally. Mary gave Salome permission to examine her. But when Salome reached for Mary to touch her (SMM), her hand shriveled up and she suffered great pain. Salome began crying and praying for her pain to go away and for sorrow that she had such lack of faith. At that time, an angel appeared who told Salome to touch the baby Jesus and she would heal. And so it happened.

Joseph tied the donkey to the pole closest to the baby Jesus, so the warmth from the animal could provide comfort to the baby. However there was no ox, despite the traditional belief.

Acknowledgments

Soon after the birth of Jesus, several acknowledgments were received, external to the family, about his spiritual stature. Some of these were:

The announcement to the shepherds…

During Christmas night, eight shepherds

(tn

) were staying camped in a hut on a hill, about half an hour of walking distance south of Bethlehem. They were the workers of the owner of the stable where Jesus was born. Those shepherds were watching five hundred grazing sheep, with the aid of two dogs: one was big and black, the other was small and brown, with long hair. Their hut was built with branches beside a grotto; its size was about half that of the holy family’s shelter.

Half an hour after Jesus’ birth a great light shone in their area. The shepherds got scared and leaned out of the door. They saw the archangel Gabriel, in a white robe with a belt; he had long hair divided in the middle of his head. He was shining on a lighted cloud, that was hovering at three meters above the ground and three meters away from their hut. The archangel had his left hand on his chest and his right one raised. He spoke to the shepherds calmly, clearly, and in a solemn though friendly attitude: He announced to them, in their language, the birth of Jesus and instructed them about the place.

As the announcement finished about six hundred angels appeared marvelously singing: 'Glory to God in the highest, peace to men of good will on earth.' Then they disappeared. The shepherds went to the stable with thirteen white and brown sheep and the two dogs. They saw from a distance the light coming out of the stable and knocked at the door. After a while Joseph opened and they entered to worship the baby. They gave the holy family a sheep as a present, that Joseph and Mary gave away to a poor shepherd. Later on they received another sheep and a lamb. Joseph, sold the animals to buy some necessary items.

The circumcision of Jesus

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin around the tip of the penis. They do it to all males on their eight day of life.

Jesus was no exception. It is a ritual ceremony that is compulsory among the Jews by religious law. The Old testament (Genesis) foresees it as a basic seal between God and the elected People.
In the Christian environment it has been replaced by the sacrament of

Baptism.

Circumcision was and is however spread among many other people.

The Egyptians applied it at the time of Pharaohs. The Arabs used it even before the advent of Islam. It is used in Africa, Indonesia, as well as among the aboriginal people of Australia, Canada, Mexico, Amazon.
The ceremony is performed at different people ages, according to people and time. Some do it on the babies, some at the age of puberty and some even at old age.

We have a very detailed description of this ceremony, as derived

from Therese Neumann's visions, that I synthesize as follows. (tn)

For that occasion Joseph cleaned very well the stable where they were staying (however thir donkey was still living in there, together with a sheep and a lamb). Joseph received three men coming from the synagogue of Bethlehem to perform the ceremony: a priest and

two attendants of his. Mary was also present with a midwife.
The attendants had brought three small round vessels copper-colored.

One contained water from the Temple, one had some ointment and the last one was empty: it was devoted to contain the foreskin that would be removed.

While the two attendants were holding the baby, the priest, dressed in remarkable suits, performed the circumcision, using a curved knife. Jesus cried loudly and Mary wept. The priest saved the foreskin into a vessel, cleaned the area by a sponge, soaked with the Temple water, and applied some ointment. An attendant dried up the blood.

Then he asked Joseph about the name to be assigned to the child.

Joseph answered: 'Yeshua,' then he prayed and sang together

with his attendants.

Jesus' name, also written sometimes 'Yehoshua' was a rather common

name at that time (lc). It means 'Yahweh (God) is salvation,' thus it equates 'the Savior.'

In Latin it is translated as Ihesus, abbreviated as 'IHS.'

Christ, from the Greek Cristos, Hebrew Mashiha = Messiah, means 'anointed' (king consecrated by

a sacred anointment).
In the Christian tradition Jesus is also called 'Emmanuel' (Hebrew: Immanuel) as indicated in Isaiah's prophecies, that means: 'God with us'.

According to different traditions (and to a vision of St.Brigida) the vessel containing the foreskin would be saved by Mary. Mary would have left it to John. Then it went over to some successors of his. It would have been also buried for long time In the middle age, pope Innocence III reported the beliefs, according to which it would be in the basilica of St. John in Laterano. Many other churches also maintain they hold the relic.

 

Presentation to the Temple…

Forty days after Jesus' birth, according to the law, the family went to the temple in Jerusalem, for Mary's purification and offerings. The offerings consisted of two turtle-doves and some fruit. On that occasion two old persons spontaneously recognized Jesus as the long expected Messiah.

Simeon, a just and pious man, 113 years old (nv), was waiting for the upcoming of the Messiah and he knew he would not die without seeing him. Upon inspiration by the Holy Spirit he saw the baby Jesus like a pillar of light (ar) and recognized him as the long awaited savior. He took the baby in his arms and blessed God for fulfilling his desire. He also blessed his parents and predicted the greatness of Jesus and Mary's sufferings.

There was also a prophetess: Ann, a widow 84 years old, who had served and prayed continuously at the temple. She new Mary (tn) since her service at the Temple. She also recognized the baby and started blessing God and telling

everyone who was longing for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Magis’ came…

The magis came from the east to see and pay homage to the baby. The visit from the magis took place many months after Jesus’ birth (tn) and probably in a different stable.

The magis were wealthy kings, with some remarkable astrological and esoterical background. They were monotheist and knew about a prophecy by Balaam that said, "A star will raise from Jacob." Their studies lead them to spot an exceptional event in the sky that they associated to the birth of a dominant personality defined as "The King of the Jews," that had been foretold.

The famous astronomer Kepler had hypothesized that event in the conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars within the Pisces constellation; this happened during the spring of the year 748 of Rome and happens again every 794 years, 4 months and 12 days.

The magis’ names, rendered into a western writing, sound like:

(ms)(tn)

Caspar

Caspar was the mystic King of Media, together with his brother Ntikran. He considered his quest for The King of the Jews so important, that he left the full power to his brother to search for the baby.

Media was a land rich of incense.

Caspar was probably a follower of Zoroaster, who also pronounced a prophecy about the upcoming of the Messiah

(ar)

. He was forty-five years old. He was a rude person, with a yellow skin, a descendant of Cam (one of Noah' sons)

(lc)

. He was traveling with twenty servants, forty soldiers and four men of wisdom plus their spouses and servants.

Balthasar

Balthasar, originally known as Valtasassour, was the King of Nubia (tn), a country with golden mines. He was about forty years old, strong, dark brown skinned, a descendant of Jafet.
He was traveling with seventy servants, twenty soldiers and eight men of wisdom plus their spouses and servants.
The astronomers in Nubia had spotted the special star three weeks before Jesus’ birth. The star was particularly big and had a great light; it was a comet (tn) with a long tail. The King sent some messengers to his friend Melchior, to get help in understanding what was happening.

Melchior

This is a nickname used for an Arab King. He also left his power in the hands of his brother to leave towards Jerusalem, together with his friend the sage Tsekinata. His nickname derives from the sentence he pronounced while bowing in front of the baby Jesus: "Cham el Chior," which means: "I saw God."
He was fifty-five years old, with a bronze skin, white hair and a long beard; he was a descendant of Sem. He was traveling with forty servants, fifty soldiers, five men of wisdom plus their spouses and servants.


Upon the request from Balthasar, Melchior climbed on a watch tower and examined the star. Then he sent his messengers to Media, so that he could consult with Caspar.

None of three Kings initially succeeded in understanding the meaning of the star. So Balthasar went to Arabia, where he met Melchior. The two continued the trip towards Media, where they found Caspar who was preparing to leave as well. They left together following the star. The periodical presence of clouds, preventing their sight of the star, slowed their travel.

As we know they reached Jerusalem, with their staff, horses, elephants and camels: there they asked Herod about The King of the Jews.

They got advice from the priests, who answered that the scriptures pointed to Bethlehem.

When they reached the stable of Bethlehem, they were deluded by its aspect. They knocked and Joseph opened cautiously. Only Melchior could speak some words that Joseph understood. He asked to talk to the mother, but he then saw Jesus, who had the appearance of a two year old child and a divine glance. Soon the Kings recognized in him the goal of their quest and bowed to the ground worshipping him.

Then they presented their gifts and obtained the joy to hold the child in their arms. They asked the family to follow them as their guests to their kingdoms, but Joseph declined. Their gifts as we know consisted of: gold, incense and myrrh. Gold is the symbol of kings, incense is the symbol of the divinity, myrrh is the symbol of death, since it was used for burial.

A legend, that I report for curiosity, tells that Mary, that had nothing to give the magis in return for their gifts, gave them a few little stones. The magis, when back in their area, threw the stones away. As the stones hit the ground some oil wells sprang up. The magis however did not understand the use and value of that ‘strange liquid’.

When the magis started their journey back, they had a dream that advised them not to report to Herod where they found Jesus. So they avoided passing by Jerusalem.

The skulls of the magis, with their gold crowns adorned with jewels, are still kept among the relics in the cathedral of Cologne (Germany).

When Herod learned from the magis that a Messiah was born that would become King of the Jews, Herod became upset for fear of a competitor who might remove him from his throne. Herod tried but in vain to identify the dangerous newborn child. All he could determine was that the newborn should be from Bethlehem. In his anger, Herod ordered all the newborn babies killed at Bethlehem. Fifty-five children got killed in Bethlehem plus nineteen from the surrounding countryside (tn).

Fortunately, Joseph had been advised in a timely manner in his dreams about the danger to Jesus. So he fled to Egypt with his family without knowing when they would ever return.

Before covering the family’s Egyptian period, however, let’s learn more about this unusual family.

An Unusual Family

I often wondered why Mary got married. She wanted to remain a virgin. But this was before my study of the historical period at Palestine. After reading the apocryphal writings, I understand much more. The apocryphal writings are gospels, acts, letters, etc. that have a character similar to that of the New Testament but they are not accepted with the same authority by the Church as a foundation of belief. This does not mean they should be disregarded. On the contrary, as a young child in school, I can recall nuns reading them to us. Some years ago, I was assured by a Franciscan friar, professor and librarian that they are still studied from the historical viewpoint they offer.

When I decided to write this book, I read all of the other apocryphas at the Italian National Library. These are the best known sources of information about Jesus’ family, birth and childhood. They provide many aspects of their lives not mentioned in the canonical Gospels.

To my surprise, even the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, contains much about the beginnings of Jesus’ life and supports some of the data provided by the apocryphal gospels.

My understanding of Mary’s childhood improved when I visited Katmandu (Nepal). There I saw a sacred building, hosting a little girl that they called "the living goddess." She is the daughter of a high priest, and spends her childhood in that way as a symbol of purity. When she approaches puberty, she is replaced by another little girl. According to tradition, if the girl becomes menstruated when still in charge, that reflects a very bad omen for the nation, such as war.

In this book, we take advantage of all the information we found about Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and their relatives.

The family in which Jesus was born was substantially composed of his parents, Mary and Joseph, but there were some ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ also.

Both Mary and Joseph belonged to the tribe of Judas and descended from the house of David, the famous Jewish king who defeated the giant Golias and who was the father of King Solomon.

The family lived in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, in a small house belonging to Joseph.

The only daughter of a wealthy and most religious representative of his tribe, Mary had grown up by the temple. As she reached puberty, she could stay there no longer; other accommodations had to be found for her. Those accommodations were found in the house of Joseph.

Few people know that Joseph was a very old widow when he married Mary under some prodigious circumstances. Even less known is that Joseph had several grown up children, all from his former marriage. These children were Jesus’ step-brothers and step-sisters. They mainly disregarded Jesus. Their names were: James, Justus-Joseph, Judas, Simon, Assia, Lidia, Esther and Thamar (nv) (sdg) (lc).

 

Mary - Childhood

 

Mary was born miraculously, announced to her parents (Joachim and Ann) by an angel, at a time when they had lost all hope of having children (gc). Her name, Mirjam in Hebrew, was common at that time as it is today.

To complete a vow they had made should they get a child, Mary’s parents brought her to live in a kind of nunnery by the temple in Jerusalem. She was only three years old at the time but the tradition had been established with some daughters of kings, prophets, high priests and pontiffs who were educated and grown up in this way. A similar custom is still existing to this day in Nepal. Mary, excitedly, climbed up the fifteen steps leading to the temple running, without even turning her head back to glimpse her parents, as one would expect from a three year old girl.

Mary lived happily by the temple, in a room that had been built for her, on the upper floor. She received some food by an angel and even some out of season fruit (kr). She was admired by all. She prayed at length and did her wool work skillfully. She was a three year old with the walk and attitude of an adult. She spoke perfectly.

Mary professed a vow of chastity. She refused many offers of marriage later from important people since she fully intended to honor her vow (nv).

 

 

Mary’s Marriage

When Mary reached puberty, she could no longer live in the temple, as the law prohibited menstruated women to go to the temple. Since it was inconceivable that she could stay, other arrangements had to be made for Mary. The priests gathered to ask the high priest Zachariah to pray for inspiration as to what to do about Mary. The Lord’s angel appeared to Zachariah, telling him to call all the widowed men of the town and for them to bring their staff (these were shepherds, mostly).

The widows were assembled and Joseph was among them. Zachariah collected all the staffs. He went into the temple to pray. When he returned and gave back the staffs, the last one was to Joseph. A dove came out it and flew away. Zachariah said, "Joseph, it has fallen to your lot to receive the virgin of the Lord into custody."

Joseph was very surprised and meditative, as their difference in age and the consequent ridicule that would develop from the union was on his mind. But at the insistence of the high priest he accepted Mary. He left Mary with five other girls from the temple, Rebecca, Sephora, Susan, Abigegrave and Cael (pmt), all of whom had also been selected by the priests to stay with Mary, while he went to Capernaum, where he had to stay for some months in order to work.

Mary helped to take care of the house, but she also spun the purple cloth for the curtains used to separate the ‘sancta sanctorum’ at the temple at the request of the high priest.

Joseph _- Mary’s Husband

Joseph, son of Jacob, descendent of David, was a priest and carpenter in Nazareth (nv). He married for the first time at the age of 40 (sdg). He lived 49 years with his first wife. They had six children. As a widow, Joseph was ninety when he was called to accept Mary. We may consider this relationship a primitive solution in social assistance; nevertheless, such an arrangement was necessary, as in that society a young female could not live alone.

Joseph, who had reluctantly accepted the role assigned to him by the community, found himself involved in a series of events much bigger and heavier than that which he could have ever imagined. Certainly he had no way to foresee what the future held in store for him.

After the extraordinary miraculous conception and birth of Jesus, he was at his advanced age compelled to endure the flight into exile in Egypt and the return. However, he was an obedient and honest man who faced the events with a surprising patience and faith.

Back to Nazareth, after their stay in Egypt, Joseph continued working. He died at the age of 111, when Jesus was about twenty years old. According to tradition, Joseph’s soul was taken to heaven by the archangels Gabriel and Michael.

The Conception

After some period of time, Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel, who brought her the announcement of Jesus’ birth. Mary believed and accepted the responsibility assigned to her. We may wonder now why it is seen as something marvelous that Mary accepted, as becoming the mother of Jesus was certainly a great honor to be regarded and received with pride. It is worthwhile considering that:

As a common person, Mary could have been very upset about the prospects of what could have happened to her and she may have been concerned about how to persuade Joseph to accept the truth of her vision.

Mary, only about fourteen years old at the time (sdg), after learning from the angel that her cousin, Elizabeth, was six months pregnant, left everything to go help her the last three months of her pregnancy. By the time Mary returned to Nazareth, she, herself, was six months pregnant.

Joseph returned from his journey. He was very sad upon seeing Mary was pregnant. He felt guilty for not having stayed with her. Mary told him she had not had any contact with a man, but Joseph did not know what to do. He thought about letting her go, secretly, to avoid discovering what might have been his fault by leaving her, and, also, to prevent any hurt coming to Mary. Joseph fell asleep. An angel appeared in his dream. He was told not to worry that what happened with Mary was the work of the Holy Spirit.

This period of Mary’s life is told in the main biography of Jesus, as it is closely interwoven with Jesus’ life.

Life at Nazareth

Mary’s life ran parallel to that of Jesus’ until he left home to travel the world. Mary remained with Joseph until his death. We may conjecture that she stayed at that time with her step-children. Finally, she probably moved to Capernaum, to follow Jesus.

 

Mary was at the Passion of Jesus

Mary was with Jesus during the period of his crucifixion and ascension. Stories in the Gospels tell about Mary along the ‘via crucis’ or way of the cross, at the foot of the cross and with the apostles at the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus.

The Remainder of the Life of Mary

As recommended by Jesus from his cross, Mary was received by John the apostle. She stayed with John until her death which occurred about twenty years after the ascension of Jesus.

The Assumption

Mary had been living in Effuses in western Turkey with John when it was revealed to her about her own imminent passing (tn). Mary wished to return to Jerusalem, so John agreed to take her there. The apostles, all spread throughout in different locations, were informed about Mary. They, too, wanted to meet in Jerusalem to see Mary, including Paul, the last of the apostles who joined with the others after Jesus ascended. James had already been martyred and Thomas could not travel immediately.

On a Saturday early in the morning, Mary took her last breath while in John’s arms. Jesus appeared among them. He accepted Mary’s soul coming out of her body and they disappeared together. John closed Mary’s eyes that were then kissed by all the apostles.

The women prepared Mary’s body for burying, spreading it with perfumes and wrapping it in linen clothes. That same evening, Mary’s body was buried in a tomb in the valley of the River Cedron. On the following Sunday morning, the Archangel Gabriel and Mary’s Guardian Angel descended from heaven accompanied by Mary’s soul. They entered the tomb through the walls and then came out immediately thereafter. This time, Mary was whole with her body transfigured, glowing, instead of transparent as before. Jesus and Joseph replaced the angels as the escorts of Mary towards heaven, among the court of angels and saints.

Thomas arrived at Jerusalem the following day, Monday. He was sorrowful for being late and not seeing Mary for a last time before she died. He asked to reopen the tomb to have a look at Mary’s body. On Tuesday morning the tomb was opened, but only the linen clothes were there and they were made stiff by the perfumed substances used in the preparation of the body. A great perfume smell filled the tomb.

Other Relatives

Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, lived with her husband, Zachariah. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist.

According to tradition, Mary’s mother, Ann, after being widowed, married twice more and had two more daughters, also named Mary (va). Mary’s step-sisters got married and had some children. Unlike Jesus’ step-brothers, these cousins got involved with Jesus’ mission and some even became apostles.

When Joachim died, Ann probably married Cleophas, a brother of his, according to the use in Israel aimed at the protection of the widows. With Cleophas she had a daughter, that is identified as Mary of Cleophas. Then Cleophas too died and Ann married Salome. Their new daughter is identified as Mary of Salome.
The popular tradition mentions "The three Marys" (dn):
Mary Jesus’ mother, Mary of Cleophas and Mary of Salome.

The two sisters of Jesus’ mother were Jesus’ followers along with their children. Some of their children became even apostles.

Mary of Cleophas married Alpheus and had: James the less, Joseph the just, Judas Taddeus, Simon and Cleophas.
Mary of Salome married Zebedeus and had: James and John.

Egypt

Jesus grew very quickly. He started speaking soon after his birth. The trip to Egypt took about a week (gr). The family traveled on foot and on donkeyback. They were accompanied by some farm animals that shepherds had given them as a gift. The trip followed along a road headed towards the sea and parallel to the seaside.

Wild animals like lions and leopards approached them, frightening Mary but Jesus calmed her (nv). The animals demonstrated they came only to pay respects to them, not to harm them. In fact, such animals accompanied them in a meek attitude, despite the presence of sheep. Very often these animals would go ahead to lead the way.

Materieh Miracles

On the third day of travel they stopped under a tree at a place called Materieh. Mary was very tired, hot, thirsty and hungry. At Jesus’ order, the tree bent down as to offer its fruits to Mary. Additionally, a spring of fresh water opened from the tree’s roots to quench the thirst of the family.

According to one apocryphal gospel, the tree was a palm. Jesus blessed it, saying that in the future the palm would be considered as the symbol of victory. An angel appeared who took a branch of the tree and carried it to heaven.

 

EGYPT: THE RIVER NILE

In the territory of Ermopolis, they reached the town of Sotrina. In search of shelter, they entered a pagan temple. As they stepped in, the many idols aligned inside fell to the ground and broke up in pieces. Aphrodisius, the governor of that city, learned what happened at the temple. He took his soldiers there to see for himself what happened. After seeing the destruction, Aphrodisius approached Mary and Jesus. He worshipped the baby.

Passing through a desert land one night, the family encountered a gang of robbers. Most of them were asleep, except for two, Titus, also called Gestas, and Dumacus (or Dismas), who were awakened. It was Titus’ intention to let the family pass without incident and undisturbed, but Dumacus had other ideas. Titus offered money to Dumacus to persuade him to leave the family alone. Mary and Jesus appreciated what Titus did. Jesus blessed Titus and asked God to forgive him his sins.

Titus and Dumacus were the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus thirty years later. Titus was the so-called ‘good thief.’

 

Miracles

Mary, with the child Jesus, were reported to have made many miracles in the area of Zoan (va), where Abraham had stayed, at Heliopolis (tn) and at Misr, a neighborhood in Cairo, now called Misr-al-Atiqa. Among the miracles reported are:

The family remained in Egypt about one year, until they knew Herod was dead. About this time, Jesus was about two years old.

Back to Nazareth

An angel advised Joseph in his dreams that it was time for them to return. This time, they followed a road parallel to the sea side up to Galilee. They traveled this route to avoid passing by Jerusalem where Archelaus, one of the sons of Herod, was then ruling. They were afraid there was still some memory of them in Bethlehem, so they went to Nazareth. Once at Nazareth, they lived in Joseph’s house.

Joseph’s house was built up against a hillside, so as to take advantage of the rock as a back wall. It had a flat roof, as did most of the Palestinian houses at that time. A grape tree leaned up against the front wall and there was a fountain in front of the house (tn).

The house was small. It opened into a room with a high window, covered with a wood lattice. From that room one could pass into another one, which was used for cooking and eating. There was an open fireplace, with a hole for the smoke escape. They used to eat on some long chairs, with a slooping arm. That room was also a bedroom for Mary and Jesus at night. They slept on mattress that were rolled up during the day. There was another room with two doors, one from the kitchen (where Mary and Jesus slept at night) and one opening to the street. This is where Joseph worked and slept.

There was also a stable for the donkey.

Jesus played with the other children. He also helped to care for the sheep the family received as a gift and he also worked with Joseph as a carpenter.

Jesus Performed Many Miracles in his Youth

Jesus shared his meal with a leper and then caressed him. The leper recovered and became an important elder in the Sanhedrin. During Jesus’ trial he opposed the sentence to death.

Other miracles were (ar, gc, tom) :

 

 

THE RIVER JORDAN

 

 

These miracles often scared Jesus’ fellow villagers, many of whom thought Jesus was some sort of witch doctor. The parents advised their children to avoid Jesus. Mary and Joseph were embarrassed about that.

At Jerusalem

Jesus was twelve years old when, on a visit to Jerusalem with his family for the traditional Passover pilgrimage. Zachary, the husband of Elizabeth, introduced Jesus (tn) to a group of scribes (the doctors of the Jewish law) in the temple. There was also Nicodemus, that would meet Jesus again later on. They discussed the sacred scriptures, astronomy, medicine, physics, philosophy and other disciplines. The scribes were amazed at young Jesus’ knowledge and maturity that greatly exceeded their own.

Jesus stayed so long in the temple that he neglected his group, the people with whom he was to return home. Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem in a separate party, believing Jesus was with another group or in some children’s party. During this period of history, it was customary to travel in groups which were spontaneously formed, so it was rational for the parents to believe that Jesus was with another group.

When the first day’s traveling ended at nightfall, Mary and Joseph sought Jesus. After checking the groups at the camp sites, they realized he was not among them. They returned to Jerusalem to find him and they succeeded in that only on the third day of separation.

When they finally located Jesus, Mary asked him how could he behave in such a way to cause them so much worry. Jesus replied that they should no longer worry about him since he had to take care of God’s business. The temple’s scribes expressed their great admiration for Mary’s son, but Jesus’ parents did not understand the full meaning of what had happened.

The Mysterious Youth of Jesus Christ

 

This is the most innovative chapter of the whole biography. It covers the period of Jesus' life that has always been considered the most obscure. It is commonly believed that Jesus just stayed at Nazareth until his time would come to start his public mission. This was, apparently, not the case.

In 1977, while talking with a colleague of mine, a fellow meditator and reader like me of spiritual books, I came to know that he had a book, reporting some interesting information on that period. The book was The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ. I borrowed and read it with much interest.

The book had been published in 1908 by Levi H. Dowling, a chaplain of the US Army who, during his youth, had a repeated vision, from which he derived the book. According to Dowling, Jesus left Nazareth early, visiting many far away countries, where he came in touch with the most advanced masters of his time.
Some years later, I was roaming around in a book shop at Great Neck (NY). I noticed a book entitled Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama, an Indian master now living in Pennsylvania. When back in Italy I found not only that the book was extremely interesting (similar in kind to the more famous Autobiography of a Yogi) but that it supported some of the revelations of the Aquarian gospel.

Finally I encountered yet another book, this one was written by a married French couple: Anne & Daniel Meurois-Givaudan (Italian title L'altro volto di Gesu’). It reports about the trips they claimed they could perform out of their bodies and their observations of their memories of the Universe.
` This concept was common to the idea underlying the Aquarian gospel. According to it and to some Indian traditions, the happenings of all times are recorded on a fine substrate: the Akasha, that can be read by some sensitive people. Frankly some of the book was a little bit too fantastic for me to take, but it contained some confirmations of what I had found in the Aquarian gospel.

As Jesus reached his teen age, a new phase of preparation to the challenging tasks of life started for him, as for every other boy.

This is the most unveiled and long period of his story!

(va)

An Indian prince, Ravanna from south Orissa, an eastern state of India near the Gulf of Bengal, was probably in contact with the magis that visited Jesus as a baby

(vol)

. He was traveling in Palestine with some Brahmin priests, in search of wisdom. He had heard Jesus preach at the temple in Jerusalem. Ravanna was astonished by his wisdom. He gathered some information about Jesus and set out with his party to visit the holy family at Nazareth.

Ravanna discovered Jesus while he was working on a ladder with twelve steps. He greeted him with respect. Ravanna later gave a party at a local inn, inviting all the villagers and having the holy family as the honor guests.

Ravanna stayed some days at Nazareth as a guest of the family. He studied Jesus' personality and character, then he asked to lead Jesus to India, so that he could meet the Indian masters. Jesus was excited by the offer. His parents gave Jesus permission to go. He left everything behind and he followed the prince in that very long trip to Orissa, and the city of Puri

(vol)

.

 

THE AREA OF JESUS’ TRAVELS

 

In India

Here he studied the Vedas (the sacred books of Indian tradition) by the temple of Jagannath. The Brahmin masters were surprised by the wisdom of the youthful Jesus and his capability to explain to them their own laws.

Jesus became closely associated with a priest of the temple, by the name of Lamaas Bramas. With Lamaas, Jesus wandered in the plan of the Ganges River, and up to Banaras, the sacred city of India. While in Banaras Jesus studied the Indus art of healing with Udraka, a great healer of the period.

Jesus stayed four years by the temple of Jagannath, both learning and teaching.

As it would happen later on, in Palestine, Jesus had problems with most of the local priests, because of his 'revolutionary' ideas which contrasted with some local traditions and the interests of the mighty ones in charge. Jesus particularly aggravated the priests by opposing their special privileges, as expressed in the Indian tradition of the caste system.
When he first spoke to the priests advocating equal conditions for all human beings, the priests became very angry. They said the law foresaw he should die for insulting Brahma.
Lamaas interceded for Jesus, by reporting how powerful he was and how he had seen him praying in a shining light brighter than the sun. The priests limited their action to scourge him out of the temple.

So Jesus went to live among the common people. He taught them in parables, as he would do later in Palestine, about brotherhood and the evils of the caste system. Jesus taught in all cities of Orissa. At Katak, on the Ganges' side, he was followed by thousands of people. He stayed at length at Behar, where Ach, a wealthy man, gave a party in his honor, inviting everybody to attend. Many courtesans, thieves and alcoholics showed up and Jesus socialized with them. This increased the scandal connected with his name.

Jesus then returned to Banaras, where he was hosted by Udraka, who also gave a party in his honor. Jesus spoke at length at that party, with different reactions. A farmer was among those present who was particularly touched by Jesus' words. Jesus went with him to be a guest in his house.

The priests of the temple in Banaras were suspicious about Jesus and asked him to go to the temple to meet them, because their religious law prevented them from going into the house of a lower caste man. But Jesus let them know that if that was the reason for not coming to him that they were not prepared for the light. One priest, Ajainin, had come from Lahore to see Jesus. He did not feel as the other priests, so he visited Jesus in the farmer's house

Common people willingly accepted the works and speeches of Jesus, but the priests and the powerful were frightened, because he was threatening their world. As a result, they called more priests from the other provinces. They met together to discuss what to do about Jesus. Lamaas was among them. He warned them not to harm Jesus. He told them that doing anything about Jesus could cause their own punishment, but the other priests assaulted him and threw him out, bleeding, onto the street.

The political leaders, seeing the confusion arising, asked Jesus to leave, but he refused to go. They tried to make some accusations that could result in his arrest but to no immediate avail. Finally, some false accusations were invented against Jesus but when the guards went to arrest him they could not, because the common people defended him.

The priests who opposed and feared Jesus were frustrated. They did not know what to do. Eventually they decided to pay a professional killer who was expected to kill Jesus overnight. Jesus, however, informed by Lamaas, fled away in time towards the Himalayas.

 

In the Himalayas

In the Himalayas, Jesus lived in the town of Kapavistu, near the Buddhist temples. He became friendly with a monk, Barata Arab. Together they read the sacred books of Israel, Hinduism, Zarathustra and Buddha. Jesus met Vidyapati, the greatest Indian sage of that time, who was head of the Kapavistu temple. Vidyapati recognized Jesus as the living oracle of God and introduced him to the Buddhist monks.

Vidyapati spoke with Jesus about the teachings contained in some manuscripts that he had read in Lasa, the capital of Tibet. Jesus wanted to see them personally. Vidyapati had Jesus escorted up to Lasa, with a presentation letter to Meng-Ste, a great Tibetan sage, that hosted and helped him to read the manuscripts and attend the temple school.

Then Jesus left again, stopping in various villages, until he reached Leh, the capital of Ladak (close to

Kashmir

.) Jesus stayed there for some time. He and his teachings were favorably received by all. He also performed some healing. He spent some time in the vicinity of Kashmir, where some memorials of Jesus’ presence exist in the local traditions and in a Tibetan manuscript.

In the area of the grotto-temple of Amarnath, there is a little temple, called 'Takhte-Taus' (meaning: 'where the Great One dwelt'), built on top of a hill, on the place where Jesus would have lived.

(hy)

 

 

TAKHTE-TAUS: THE TEMPLE WHERE JESUS DWELT, IN KASHMIR (hy)

 

Jesus later joined a merchants' caravan headed to Lahore (just south of Kashmir). The merchants had heard about Jesus and seen some of his miraculous healing, so they gave him a horse to ride with them.
At Lahore Jesus was hosted by Ajainin, a Brahmin priest that he had met in Banaras. Jesus taught Ajainin many things, about healing and controlling the spirits. He also offered his teachings and healing to the local people.

 

Finding the magis in Persia

Jesus, who was 24 years old at the time, continued his journey to Persia, where he stopped in many towns, teaching and healing. Jesus had some opposition there too from the local clergy, who had tried to prevent him from teaching and healing.

He stopped in Persepolis where the magis that had looked for him as a baby had convened. The magis had foreseen the arrival of Jesus and moved in time to meet him.

In Persepolis they stayed together for several days. Jesus reported about his long journey and then they sat in communion and meditation for seven days.
A party was given where Jesus discussed the basic teachings of Zarathustra. He also preached and healed. Finally Jesus and the magis left with the promise to reconvene in Egypt, country of high spiritual traditions.

Jesus went then to Ur of Chaldea, the country of Abraham. Jesus preached and healed there, too. He visited the ruins of Babylon, which were a warning to the human arrogance after being the home of the Jews during their exile as slaves of the Persians. Jesus was accompanied by the Assyrian’s greatest sage, Ashbina. Ashbina traveled with Jesus in the neighboring towns and testified that Jesus was a great prophet.

Having completed his journey, Jesus went back to Nazareth.

 

A jump home

His mother and one of his step-sisters, Myriam, received Jesus with joy and gave a party in his honor but the same was not true among

step-brothers

, who regarded Jesus as a vain fortune hunter. Jesus reported to Mary and Myriam about his long journey and his many experiences.

Leaving again to Greece

Jesus had not had enough traveling. Jesus wished to meet the Greek masters. He sailed towards Greece. He stayed in Athens and at Delphi, where he was received very well by all and particularly by a master named Apollo.
He spoke with the local masters for several days. Among the things he explained was that the famous Oracle of Delphi spoke upon inspiration of the master minds of Greece, gathered in a single higher mind, his information coming from those other minds.

One day Jesus was at the seaside close to Athens, when a terrific storm blew up. The ships were shattered around and many sailors and fishers were dying. Jesus saved and restored many people.

Having concluded his experience in Greece, the country that Jesus had said had been his best host, Jesus sailed to Egypt on the Cretan ship Mars. Jesus was about 29 years old.

 

 

JESUS AT 29

(Photo created by Sai Baba)

 

Here you can see a picture of him, showing us his aspect at that time!

A famous Indian master: Sai Baba (SB) created it. Sai Baba was receiving a group of people, among which there was a lady, who was very fond of Jesus and curious to know his real aspect. During the interview the lady had a camera with her, which started shooting by itself; Sai Baba said that when the lady would have the film processed, she would see the Jesus’ photo, at the age of 29.
According to the monk Epiphanius (gr) Jesus was 1.70 mt. tall. He had a rather long head that he used to keep slightly inclined to one side. His skin color was clear, resembling more that of the Greek race than the Palestinian one.
Jesus had long curled hair (lc) of a clear color, like that of white wine. They were long and divided in the middle (vol). His beard was rich and cut rather short. His eyes were clear, with dark eyebrows. He looked much like Mary.

He used to wear (lc): a cloth bound around his head, to protect from sun, like presently used by the Palestinians, a wool tunic, bound at his waist, a wide mantle, a pair of sandals.

Back to Egypt

While in Egypt, Jesus went to Zoan, where he was a refugee as a baby and found some people that had known him in his infancy. He then continued to Heliopolis. The name of the city’s name means, ‘city of the sun.’ There was a temple around which a group of spiritual masters was gathered. Jesus wished to confront them. They received him and their leader asked him many questions. Based on his answers, the masters immediately recognized him for his higher spiritual level and wandered what he might look from them.
Jesus was asked how to meet every kind of human problem and to be challenged, to meet and overcome, under their control, the temptations of life. So, through enforceable ways, Jesus was assigned to some separate lodging and kept there. From time to time he was unpredictably exposed to several types of temptations:

Once he had overcome all these tests, Jesus remained to study and work for some more time with the Egyptian masters.
Then he started again and, passing by Jerusalem, Jesus went back to Nazareth.

 

 

The Beginning of Jesus’ Public Life

Before beginning his mission, Jesus desired to go through a kind of public religious formality. He chose to do this close to Jericho where he traveled along the River Jordan to where John the Baptist, Elizabeth’s son, and Jesus’ relative, was performing his prophetic mission. John believed the kingdom of God was approaching, so this is the reason he administered baptism to his followers. Although Jesus had never met John, he went to him and asked to be baptized.

John understood intuitively that Jesus did not need repenting or baptizing and bowed down to greet him (tn). Indeed, he thought Jesus was spiritually superior to himself, but he relented and he did baptize Jesus. This was obviously a formality that Jesus intended to go undergo. While John was baptizing Jesus, John had a vision of the heavens opening and the Spirit of God descending like a white dove and shinning upon Jesus, saying, like in a thunderclap, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I whom I am well pleased."

Temptations

After his baptism, Jesus performed another duty in preparation of his ministry: He repaired to the desert, a few kilometers away. He stayed there without any food and in communion with the wild beasts.

 

JUDEA DESERT

 

 

After forty days there Jesus suffered hunger and temptations. He was tempted to:

A). Materialize food to eat. He overcame this temptation by concentrating on the thought that man can live even on the "word proceeding out of the mouth of God."

B). Demonstrate his powers to the people to receive their worship. Jesus considered ascending up on the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and then casting himself down, only to be saved by angels who would bear him up. "If he was the son of God, He would have provided in such a way." Jesus overcame this temptation by concentrating on the thought that God must not be challenged to support such demonstrations of pride.

C). Gain possession of all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus overcame this temptation by concentrating on the thought that material possessions was a worldly ambition which contradicted his true mission which was spiritual.

Having overcome all these temptations, Jesus was approached by some angels who served him some fruit (tn) and brought him down from the mountain.

Jesus Returns to the River Jordan

John the Baptist was still teaching and baptizing when Jesus returned. When John saw Jesus, he showed Jesus to his followers with these famous words: "Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world…and I have seen…that this is the Son of God."

The following day, John was staying with two Galilean disciples of his, Andrew and John. John, who, later, would describe the times in his own Gospel, was the son of Zebedee. John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to Andrew and John. Both of them left the Baptist to follow Jesus. They stayed with Jesus all the first day and then spent the night with him in a hut.

Andrew located his brother Simon. He told him he had met the Messiah and he wanted Simon to meet him. Jesus received Simon with special favor. He gave him the nickname of "Kephas," (rock or stone, in Latin, petra). From then on Simon was known as Peter.

The following day Jesus and his new followers left for Galilee. They reached Betsaida, on the northeast side of a lake, hometown of the three disciples. They told others about Jesus, then Philip came and joined them.

Philip spoke with a friend about Jesus (perhaps this was his brother (va) Nathaniel who was also known as Bartholomew). Nathaniel, who was living in Cana, a town only a few kilometers northeast of Nazareth, approached Jesus cautiously, as he was not convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. But Jesus received him with friendliness and enthusiasm.

John left to find his brother James who he later brought to Jesus.

The Marriage at Cana

Three days later Jesus was invited to a marriage at Cana, with his disciples. It was possibly the marriage of a relative of Nathaniel’s (gr); the party lasted more than one day. Mary also attended and was probably a relative of the householder, since she helped serving the dinner (tn). Men were dining separated from women by a cloth. At some point, Mary realized there was a shortage of wine. This was a great problem for the celebration and a criticism of the bridegroom who was responsible for the dinner. Mary told Jesus about the shortage of wine. Although he was reluctant to do so, he performed a miracle, turning water into wine by imposing his hands on the water jars, much to the astonishment of the guests. Word of this miracle spread and served to convince and commit the apostles further to their devotion to Jesus.

Settling at Capernaum

When the party at Cana was over, Jesus, along with his relatives and followers, moved to Capernaum on the Lake of Tiberias, also called Lake of Gennesareth or Sea of Galilee. It was located about 30 kilometers east of Nazareth. Increasingly over time, it became Jesus base for his mission.

Jesus’ first apostles, Peter and Andrew, originally from Bethsaida, also moved to Capernaum, probably because it was the home town of Peter’s wife. It was at their house that Jesus stayed because since his own youth, Jesus did not have any possessions or a house of his own.

Jesus remained in Capernaum on this occasion only a short time before leaving for the Passover at Jerusalem with his first six apostles.

In Jerusalem

The Passover celebration was the occasion of a festive atmosphere in Jerusalem. The porch of the temple was jammed with merchants selling and reselling items specific to the celebration, such as animals for sacrifice and local coins, which they exchanged for those accompanying the pilgrims from other areas. In this manner, the temple became very similar to a bazaar with the religious atmosphere overcome by the economic interests of the merchants.

Jesus disrupted the activities of the merchants, overthrowing their tables and driving out the animals and their owners. Thus it was that Jesus brought himself into conflict with the priests, the scribes and Pharisees, who derived economic advantages from the trade at the temple. They asked Jesus to justify his behavior. They demanded to know: What sign could he give to them to justify his actions?

"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up," Jesus replied. Jesus was foretelling his own death and resurrection but the listeners did not understand. Only one Pharisee became secretly interested in Jesus’ message. His name was Nicodemus.

Nicodemus approached Jesus secretly. Later, he would be the only Pharisee to say something in favor of Jesus during the process of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus also paid for the perfumes used to condition Jesus’ body immediately after his removal from the cross.

Jesus and his disciples remained for some days in the area of Jerusalem. The disciples began baptizing people like John the Baptist. Some of the Baptist’s followers complained to John about this, but he approved of Jesus’ ministry. The Baptist withdrew from the area. Soon after this, John the Baptist was arrested by the guards of Herod Antipas whom John had been publicly rebuking for his adultery.

Bethany

Jesus’ friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha hosted Jesus at Bethany, a town three kilometers southeast of Jerusalem. Ruth, a sister, was also present. Ruth lived in Jericho with her husband Asher-ben who managed an inn. He was a rigid Pharisee who despised Jesus. When he discovered Ruth was a follower of Jesus, he expelled her from his home.

Ruth asked Jesus for his advice. Jesus told Ruth not to worry, that Asher-ben was not a bad person; he was just intolerant. He advised Ruth to go back home with love and without ideological opposition. Jesus told her the matter would be settled in this way.

Jacob’s Well

Jesus started again toward Galilee, passing through Samaria. He stopped to rest and to eat at Jacob’s well. His disciples were at the nearby town of Sychar at the foot of Mount Gerizim for food. At the well, Jesus met a woman who was there to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink. The woman, a Samaritan, recognized Jesus as Jew. She was surprised at his request since rabbis were forbidden to speak to women in public. Further, Jews and Samaritans did not maintain cordial relationships.

Jesus told the Samaritan that if she realized who she was talking with, that she would have a similar request for him, so that she could obtain some living water-water that can quench the thirst. A long discussion followed during which Jesus revealed he knew some details about the woman. Jesus also declared for the first time that he was the Messiah.

The woman, excited about her encounter with Jesus, rushed home to spread the word. Many villagers went to meet Jesus. They invited him to stay with them as their guest. Jesus stayed there for two days. Many of the Samaritans believed in Jesus.

Galilee

Jesus and his followers left for Galilee, stopping off again at Cana. While there, one of Herod Antipas’ stewards encountered Jesus. The man said that he had left his son who was badly ill in Capernaum. He pleaded for Jesus to heal him. After some hesitation, Jesus told him: "Go, your son is living." The man returned to Capernaum, about 30 kilometers away, where his relatives informed him that at about the same time he was with Jesus, his son’s fever subsided and he recovered. This man may have been Chuza, the husband of Joan (lc), who would later become one of the "pious women."

The pious women were a group of Jesus’ disciples. They included:

Jesus continued visiting various towns of Galilee, preaching at synagogues, where it was customary to invite the faithful to speak.

Back at Capernaum, he healed a demoniac, Peter’s mother-in-law, and may sick people. The enthusiasm and demand for Jesus’ healing grew so much that Jesus was compelled to hide in order to avoid excessive excitement over these matters.

Lake Tiberias

Jesus stepped into Peter’s boat and had him move a few meters out from the shore of Lake Tiberias, so that an assembled crowd could see him speak. Jesus spoke standing on the boat, while Peter was holding it steady with his legs into the shallow water (tn). When Jesus finished he told Peter and Andrew to cast their nets for fish. Peter was skeptical as they had fished all night without success. However, they cast their nets like Jesus told them; soon they were brimming over with fish. They had so many fish they had to call over James and John with their boat to help them. The two boats had so many fish they were about to sink.

This new miracle impressed the fishermen-apostles even more than all the healing, probably because it touched an aspect of their job that they knew very well.

When they landed ashore, Jesus asked his first apostles to change their jobs in order to follow his ministry. They agreed. The four left everything behind to follow Jesus. They became "fishers of men."

Continuing with his mission, Jesus healed a leper. About this time, Jesus’ fame had increased to the point where he could not enter a town without crowds of people forming. The Pharisees, in hearing these things, were jealous. They followed Jesus to spy upon him.

One day, while Jesus was in house in Capernaum, possibly that of Peter’s, the house was so crowded with people it was impossible for anyone else to enter. Some persons carried a paralytic on a coach but to present him to Jesus they had to climb to the roof, remove the tiles, and then lower the coach down in front of Jesus. Jesus said, "Thy sins are forgiven, thee." Jesus ordered the paralytic to stand up, which he did. Some Pharisees present were scandalized that Jesus was taking to himself such divine powers.

A few days later at Capernaum Jesus met Levi who was called Matthew. Although he was a publican and a tax collector, Matthew was interested in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus said to him, "Follow me." Matthew followed him to become his apostle and evangelist, soon leaving everything behind.

Matthew had been wealthy. To celebrate his association with Jesus, he gave a banquet, and the other apostles were invited to meet Matthew’s old publican friends. Since publicans were a class considered as sinners or people with low morals, the Pharisees disapproved of Jesus’ association with them. Jesus responded to them by saying, "It’s not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick."

The Pharisees had become increasingly irritated with Jesus for ‘spoiling’ what where their formal traditions. They accused the apostles of gathering ears of wheat on a Saturday, the day of rest. They also accused Jesus of disobeying the laws about the Sabbath by healing a paralytic on a Saturday. Realizing the Pharisees were planning to eliminate him, Jesus left, because he knew it was not yet his time to die.

The Twelve

By this time, Jesus had selected the twelve apostles. They belonged to the lower middle-class and the common people. They all had different temperaments. Some of them were relatives of Jesus. The twelve were:

Simon Peter

Andrew

James

John

Philip

Bartholomew

Thomas

Matthew

James the Less (or of Alphaeus)

Thaddeus

Simon the Canaanite (or Zelotes)

Judas Iscariot

The Sermon on the Mount

Soon after completing the selection of the apostles, Jesus presented the crowd of his followers with the very basis of his doctrine of spiritual regeneration. He accomplished this through his now famous speech known as "The Sermon on the Mount." The speech is sometimes referred to as the ‘beatitudes’ since the recurring words are "Blessed are…"

The ‘sermon’ was delivered by Jesus on a clearing at the top of a hill, about 150 meters high, in Galilee, at a place not far from Capernaum.

The ‘Troublesome’ Master and Healer

At Capernaum

Jesus performed many miracles in the area of Capernaum during this period. They were:

Some of them are reported with new details from the Neumann’s visions.

During an Autumn day Jesus was traveling with his apostles, disciples, the pious women and his mother (tn). When they reached the town of Naim, they saw a funeral procession coming out of it. Jesus went to greet the mother of the dead young men, that he already knew as Martialis. She was a wealthy and renown widow. Jesus insisted that they stop and open the bier. They removed some of the cloths covering the corpse. Jesus took the hands of the dead youth and told him to get up. He immediately stood up to the astonishment of all present and asked to follow Jesus, but he gave him back to his mother. The widow invited Jesus and his party to a banquet in her house. There were some poor and sick people in a porch outside the house. Jesus healed some of them and spoke to the others, that went away consoled, even though they were not healed. Martialis later on became a disciple of Jesus.

The fervor of activity was such that rumors spread that Jesus had gone out of his mind. Jesus’ step-brothers, the ones who had never seen him favorably, took Mary and went on to search for him, to take him away. But Jesus let them know his true brothers were all those who accomplished God’s will.

During this time, Jesus used to teach by using parables. Parables are short allegoric tales that teach in an easy and practical way, without embarking into complicated theories or abstract concepts. This form of teaching, using, parables, was not new (lc). It was known to the Jews of the time as ‘mashol.’ On one side, a parable seemingly was understood by all, but on the other, there was a deeper meaning comprehended only by those who were spiritually advanced, and who knew how to avoid misinterpretation of the stories.

Jesus presented the parables during this period on the shore of Lake Tiberias, near Capernaum. Speaking from a boat a short distance from the shore, he told the following parables:

The Sower, The Tares, the Grain of Mustard, The Leaven, The Neocine Hid in the Field, The Pearl, and The Net.

The Apostles in Mission

At the beginning of the year, Jesus saw the demand among the people for him was increasing. In order to reach more people, he decided to split up his apostles in order for them to go to people in more places. Jesus told them to take no money or any form of sustenance and to do their work free of charge, and to accept only hospitality as a reward. So, the apostles left in couples, without Jesus, to travel the different territories of Israel. While preaching, they healed the sick by anointing them and dispelling demons.

The reconvened a few weeks later.

 

The Death of the Baptist

Meanwhile, John the Baptist publicly preached against King Herod Antipas for scandalously living with his sister-in-law, Herodias. Herod ordered the arrest of John and into custody in prison at his palace at Makor, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Herod, himself, was fascinated with the Baptist. Although Herod would have probably found a way to keep John away from the crowds without killing him, Herodias was looking for a way to get rid of him.

After many months of imprisonment, before the end of the winter of the year 29 AD, Herod gave a huge party to celebrate his birthday at the palace at Makor.. During that celebration, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, performed her famous dance of the seven veils. Salome, who learned her dancing at Rome, greatly enchanted Herod with her dance. In appreciation, Herod offered Salome whatever she wanted as a gift. Herodias intervened to suggest to Salome she request the head of John the Baptist. Herod, not wanting to backtrack on his promise, beheaded the prophet.

Jesus Was Not a Prophet in His Own City

While the apostles were away on missions, Jesus went to Nazareth. Although he had some local support there from people who took pride in him, there was also some resentment against him because he had settled at Capernaum.

Jesus went to the local synagogue where he was invited to read the scriptures. He read a section from the prophet Isaiah about the messiah. Jesus announced than the time had come for the fulfillment of that prophecy. When Jesus left the synagogue, his fellow villagers, who knew him as the ‘son of the carpenter,’ wanted him to perform some miracles for them, to support what he had declared. Jesus refused because they did not have faith, just curiosity and desire to challenge him. They then pushed Jesus from the synagogue towards a gorge to throw him down.

Jesus escaped that menace, as it was not yet his time to die. With the power of his charisma, without uttering a word, he turned around hovering above the gorge and walked back. The crowd opened for him as he passed through and he suddenly disappeared (tn).

Although Jesus is usually thought of as being a Nazarene, he was not born there; actually, he had lived at Nazareth only a portion of his life, between the ages of two and twelve.

The Loaves

It was March, 29 AD Jesus and his apostles crossed the Lake of Tiberias by boat to go to Bethsaida, on its eastern shore, close to where the lake intersects with the River Jordan. They were greeted by the crowd that had followed them on land from Capernaum when it became known where Jesus was headed. The crowds grew larger and larger on a hill, just the men alone numbered 5,000 persons, some of them had come on camels (tn). There were also some women and children down the hill, Mary was with them.

As the evening approached, the people in the crowd had nothing to eat. The apostles discussed the problem with Jesus. Jesus asked to be given the five oblong flat loaves and two large broiled fish they had. He looked to heaven, holding his hands over the food, then broke the fish and bread into pieces and put them into some baskets. The apostles started distributing the loaves and fish, breaking them over and over and sharing. Everyone shared them, they also had some honey, that was used to dress bread. When they had all eaten, twelve baskets were filled from gathering the surplus.

Upon seeing this miracle, the crowd wanted to make Jesus king in keeping with their materialistic expectations for the Messiah and started shouting ‘Malka, malka’ (king). Jesus ordered his apostles to go back to Capernaum by boat, taking along the baskets and the remaining food, to give it to the poor. He left alone to pray up in the hills that rise up close to the eastern side of the lake about 270 meters. People saw him and started running after him, he disappeared!

While the apostles were sailing on the lake, about three in the morning, the waves rose. They had to fight just to control their small boat. Suddenly, they saw Jesus coming, walking a little bit above the water. The apostles were frightened. Jesus tried to calm them. Peter, however, still skeptical, said, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water."

Jesus replied, "Come!"

Peter stepped onto the water, walking on it for awhile, but his doubt returned, causing him to sink into the water. Peter then asked for help. Jesus took his hand and brought him back to the boat. The storm quieted. The apostles prostrated themselves in front of Jesus, saying, "Truly, thou are the son of God."

Later, with the participation of those who were present at Bethsaida when the loaves were multiplied, there was much discussion about what had happened. Jesus dissuaded them from their materialistic interest, that of solving the food problem by this means. Instead, he exhorted those present to procure "the food that does not perish," that which was his flesh. Many of his followers, connecting what Jesus said to cannibalism, were scandalized by the suggestion. They left without understanding what Jesus had meant.

The last year of Jesus life was beginning and he was increasing his travels, more and more around Jerusalem, where he went near Passover time.

In a section of Jerusalem (Bethesda) there was a pond in which the water from the spring of Siloam intermittently flowed. The water had been credited with healing powers, especially if one could succeed in throwing oneself into it when it first started to run. A man who had been paralyzed for 38 years was at the spring when he was seen by Jesus who was passing by. Jesus told him to stand up and walk. He did. When the word spread among the religious notables that the miracle had been performed on a Saturday, and that Jesus referred to himself as the son of God, they planned to kill him.

Seeking to catch Jesus breaking the traditional laws, some Pharisees followed Jesus from Jerusalem. They did, in fact, witness that: Jesus healed a wounded man on a Saturday; the apostles had picked wheat on a Saturday; and neither Jesus nor the apostles washed their hands before eating. Jesus, when confronted by the Pharisees, replied they gave excessive interest to these things and that they were hypocrites for doing so.

Phoenicia

Jesus proceeded northward towards the territories of Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia (Lebanon). He traveled in the area close to the sea that was populated by pagans who were known as Canaanites.

Jesus had gone there on a retreat from the crowds. He was hosted by Rachel (va). Although Jesus’ ministry was dedicated to Jews, Rachel told that Jesus cured a demoniac girl, the daughter of a woman Rachel knew.

At Caesarea Philippi he was a guest of Susan (va), where he stayed several days. Later, in the southern territory of Decapolis, east of the River Jordan, he gave a speech and healed a deaf mute. Later he drew a large crowd in the area Bethsaida. Although they had made provisions for food, they stayed three days and were running short. Jesus once again multiplied the food, only this time he started with seven loaves and a few little fish. Four thousand men, plus women and children were fed. Seven baskets of food remained.

What the Apostles Told Jesus

After making one more quick trip to Capernaum where Jesus refused to perform miracles as an answer to the challenge of the Pharisees, the group returned to Bethsaida, where Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth. They stayed just north of Bethsaida in the area of Caesarea Philippi where they were less known. While there, Jesus asked his apostles what people were saying about him.

Matthew told (va) Jesus that people believed he was David returned to the Earth, or Enoch, Solomon or Seth. Andrew said he had heard a priest describe Jesus as a reborn Jeremy. Nathaniel said that some foreign religious men considered him the Buddha reincarnated. James said the most common opinion was that Jesus was Elias.

John said that in Jerusalem a prophet was convinced that Jesus was Melchisedec.

Thomas cited that Herod feared that Jesus was the revived Baptist.

And Jesus asked: "But whom say ye that I am?"

Peter answered with great enthusiasm, "Thou are the Christ, the son of the living God."

Jesus replied with a speech that the Roman Catholic Church considers the first attribution of the apostolic leadership of Peter.

Jesus told the apostles not to tell anyone he was the messiah. He also told them he would be persecuted and killed by the elders and the chief priests of Jerusalem. He explained that he would rise again. Peter, thinking in materialistic terms and believing otherwise, tried to dispel the notion of Jesus being persecuted and killed, but Jesus rebuked him sharply.

After about six days, Jesus arrived at the foot of a mountain. Since the fourth century, tradition has identified the location as Tabor, a hill, southeast of Nazareth. Many scholars, however, now believe the site is Mount Hermon, which is north of the border of Palestine, where the River Jordan springs up. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him. They climbed up to the mountain’s top.

 

THE TABOR HILL

 

 

That evening, the three apostles were sleeping sitting and leaning against a rock. Jesus was praying, he wore a red-brown tunic (tn). He hovered about sixty centimeters above the ground, with a small white cloud under his feet. His face became shining like the sun, his clothes turned white like brilliant snow. And there appeared at his sides: Moses and Elias, each one on a little cloud. Moses had a long beard, Elias had a body of flesh, both where luminous. They spoke with Jesus’ about his ‘destiny’ in Jerusalem. The apostles woke up astonished and Peter proposed to make up three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elias to stay there at length. Then the three small clouds merged into a large bright cloud, that overshadowed them and a voice out of the cloud said: "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him." The apostles prostrated themselves and the transfiguration ended: Jesus was alone with them in his usual aspect.

The next morning, while they were coming down the mountain, Jesus charged the three apostles to tell no one about the vision until he has risen from the dead.

When they met up with the other apostles, they asked Jesus to heal a lunatic they could not heal while Jesus was away. They then continued to Galilee. Jesus repeated the prophecy about his "death" and "resurrection".

When they reached Capernaum, Peter was asked whether the Master would pay for the yearly tribute for the maintenance of the temple in Jerusalem. Peter had said yes. Jesus, however, said that the kings of the earth took tributes from strangers, not from their own children. However, to avoid embarrassment to Peter, who had already said yes, and to avoid misunderstandings, Jesus told Peter to go to the lake to catch a fish. In the fish’s mouth, Peter would find a coin that would be sufficient in value to pay tribute for both Peter and himself. Since then, that type of fish has been known as "St. Peter’s fish."

The Last Six Months in Judea

Up until the end of the year 29 AD, Jesus had been spending most of his public life in Galilee. During his last six months, he devoted himself primarily to Judea with many visits to Jerusalem. One of those occasions to be in the holy city was the Feast of the Tabernacles. Jesus taught on the porch of the temple where he would draw many admirers but also some opponents who were among the elders, the Scribes and the Pharisees. They held the power over others and charged that Jesus did not respect their traditions and formalities that were basic to their authority. They wanted to kill him, as Jesus himself had said.

Jesus’ enemies asked the magistrates at the temple to arrest him. They sent their guards but after seeing and hearing Jesus, they returned without him.

A short while later, Jesus once again frustrated and disgusted his opponents when he declared his own existence as preceding that of Abraham’s. His opponents picked up stones to throw at Jesus, declaring he was a blasphemer. Jesus hid first and then left the temple when it was safe.

The tensions between Jesus and the others escalated again in a few days because of Jesus’ speech that prevented the attempted stoning of an adulteress woman and because of the healing of a man born blind. Jesus said that no one could take out his life without his consent but that he could both give it up and get it back!

Jesus left Jerusalem for some time, and as he had done previously, he sent seventy disciples on missions to preach with good results. The seventy were sent to all peoples in territories outside of Israel as well, including Samaria, Tyre, Sidon, Crete, Greece (va) and others. This compared to the first time when he sent them only into the territories of Israel. At the time, seventy was the number generally accepted as the number of nations (lc).

At the completion of the missions, Jesus reunited again with his apostles. They went to Bethany were they visited and dined with his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the sister, Ruth. About this time, Jesus spoke the words known as the "Pater Noster," or "Our Father," on the Mount of Olives.

Other occasions soon arose for creating more tensions between Jesus and his enemies, some of those were: Jesus healed a demoniac and a deaf mute; one of the Scribes or Pharisees invited him to dinner and was scandalized that Jesus did not practice the prescribed ablutions. But despite these opponents, Jesus continued his ministry, healing to more persons, again on a Saturday, a humpback woman and a man afflicted with dropsy

Near the end of December, the year 29 AD, Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the occasion of the Feast of Dedication. Jesus taught from the front porch of the temple. Jesus was questioned about being the Messiah. He declared that he was one with his father. Once again, Jesus had to escape his enemies who resorted, once more, to throwing stones at him.

At the beginning of the next year, 30 AD, Jesus and his followers left again. They went to Transjordania in the area of Judea, east of the River Jordan, also called Peraea. Later they went to Samaria and Galilee.

During this period, Jesus healed ten leprous men at Genin between Galilee and Samaria. He also spoke these famous parables:

Jesus also spoke about the indissolubility of marriage and the acceptance of children.

The Resurrection of Lazarus

At the beginning of March, 29 AD, Jesus was in Transjordania where he was informed of the illness of his friend, Lazarus. Jesus stayed there for two more days. He told his followers that Lazarus was going to die but that it was for some good reasons.

By the time Jesus reached Bethany, Lazarus had already been buried four days. Although everyone was in despair, Jesus ordered the tombstone be removed. When it was, a repulsive smell of decomposition filled the air (tn). Jesus looked upwards and cried: "Laaasaar… alla!" ("Lazarus, …Comeback!")

Lazarus appeared wrapped in the while garments of the dead. With a word, Jesus freed him from his bandages. Lazarus was covered with a mantle and then taken home. Everyone burst out in tears of joy.

 

TYPICAL TOMB IN ANCIENT PALESTINE

 

 

The news of the resurrection of Lazarus was learned by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and elders in Jerusalem. Instead of convincing them of the divine nature of Jesus, they became even more pre-occupied with the ramifications it had for their positions.

The High Priest Caiaphas

An assembly was convened during which the high priest Caiaphas established that it was better that a single man should die, than the entire nation perish (reflecting the fear of the rise of Jesus as leader). Therefore, from that day forward, they officially decided to kill Jesus. The Pharisees issued orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, that they should tell, so they could arrest him.

Jesus had withdrawn to Efraim, 25 kilometers north of Jerusalem, passing by Jericho. During his trip, Jesus repeated that he would be condemned to death, insulted, spit upon, scourged and then killed. Jesus also foretold that he would resurrect from the dead in three days. The apostles did not understand this talk of resurrection. On the contrary, James and John, pushed by their mother, thought in more worldly terms. They asked Jesus to place them besides his throne after he had conquered the nation!

At Jericho, Jesus healed two blind men and converted Zaccheus, a publican who, like Matthew, became interested in Jesus. According to a legend, Zaccheus’ life was changed after inviting Jesus over to have dinner with him (lc).

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus and his group stopped at Bethany. It was the Saturday before his crucifixion. Jesus was invited to a dinner held in his honor at the home of Simon ‘the leper.’ This was a wealthy man, who was healed from leper. The dinner was set in an open space surrounded by columns, holding a roof (tn). The main course was a broiled lamb.

Jesus was staying on a reclining sofa, he was wearing a white robe, his feet were wearing sandals and somewhat leaning outside the sofa. Beyond Lazarus, there were his sisters Martha and Mary and the mother of Jesus.
Mary the Magdalene suddenly entered. She knelt besides Jesus’ feet and poured some ointment on them, while crying and rubbed it with her veil. Then she opened a vessel of mother-of-pearl and poured a very expensive perfume on Jesus’ head. This caused disagreement with Judas who was very attracted to money. Judas had estimated the ointment was worth over 300 pence (ten times the price of the imminent betrayal!). Jesus defended the Magdalene saying she was doing that in preparation for his death. His mother wept.

Jesus’ arrival at Bethany was well known in nearby Jerusalem. Many people went to see Jesus and the resurrected Lazarus.

The high priests were in a rage over the excitement caused among the people by Jesus and the resurrection of Lazarus. They decided it was also necessary to kill Lazarus since he was now a witness to Jesus’ powers.

They did not succeed in killing Lazarus. He ended up leaving his town after Jesus’ ascension and took refuge at Cyprus. He died for the second and last time at Larnaca thirty years later (lc). He has been sanctified and a church was built on his second tomb (fh).

 

The Supreme Sacrifice

Several years ago, an English colleague of mine who shared my interest in spiritual subjects, sent me a copy of an American book. The book was entitled The Magus of Strovolos. At first I was surprised about this book as a gift and doubted it would be of much interest to me. The very word ‘magus’ or magic did not fit in well with my own expectations. However, it was vacation time, so I had time to dig into it. The more I read the book, the more fascinated with it I became.

It was a report on a group of mystic people living in Cyprus, allegedly guided by St. John the Evangelist. There was also information in the book about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas that was different from other accounts I had read. After some years of further checking with traditional studies about Jesus’ life, I became convinced of the interpretation of that betrayal. I ended up using it in this section of the book.

The visions of Therese Neumann contributed also to the details told here, the most surprising of which is the shape of the cross.


Sunday

During the Passover period it was customary for the citizens of Jerusalem to greet the pilgrims going to the temple with joy and enthusiasm. When Jesus entered wearing a yellow tunic, riding a young donkey, a procession of enthusiastic followers formed. They waved branches of palm and olive trees and they laid their mantles on the ground where Jesus would pass. Mary and Lazarus where in the procession (tn).

They sang out, "Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."

It was now Jesus’ time to show up publicly as the Messiah. One can only imagine what feelings this stimulated in the heart of the Pharisees.

While approaching Jerusalem they stopped to eat something. Jesus had a premonition of the city’s destruction that was done by the order of Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus in 70 AD in an attempt to quell a rebellion. (Jesus said the real reason was their refusal of His spiritual message). The destruction caused the deaths of over 1,100,000 persons.

Jesus wept at the image of the destruction of Jerusalem in his mind. John and Bartholomew, that were near him, wept together with him.

On the temple porch, Jesus healed some blinded and crippled persons.

Philip and Andrew presented him with some Greek devotees.

They were bringing Jesus a letter from the king of Edessa (today’s Urfe, South Turkey), Abgarus V (abg). He had heard bout Jesus, his miracles and the threats he was subject. He was offering him refuge in his kingdom and asking healing from his sickness (leper or gout).

Jesus answered with a letter of his. He declined the offer, but promised the king to send him a disciple of his, who would take care of his soul and body.

He reminded Philip and Andrew that he and his followers would be glorified but they would have to go through suffering. At that thought, Jesus was momentarily upset. He invoked the name of his Father, saying, "Father, glorify thy name." A voice was heard, as it was during his baptism and transfiguration.

"I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." Those present did not understand. At the end of the day, Jesus and his followers returned to Bethany to sleep. They alternated between Bethany and the Mount of Olives to stay apart from the city environment and their enemies while they were away form the support of their crowd.

At Bethany there was the friendly home of Lazarus and his sisters. On the Mount of Olives there was a garden with an oil press. They could reach it leaving the city, by going down the valley of the Cedron River and then climbing up again, a distance walking of about 800 meters from the city’s walls (lc). The garden was called ‘Gethsemene,’ which means ‘oil press’ and was owned by Nicodemus (tn), that was friendly to Jesus and his followers.

In those days, Jesus alternated his nights in the above mentioned places. He spent his days teaching and healing on the temple’s porch. The Pharisees and the elders of the Sanhedrin, although they would have attacked Jesus, could not do so because of the protection of the crowed that backed him. But they challenged Jesus verbally, trying to catch him making mistakes in his teachings.

Now, we have the famous question, if it was right to give tribute to Caesar, to which Jesus replied by declaring himself neutral towards the political and administrative arrangements.

Jesus addressed the Pharisees with three parables that condemned their slow reaction to the calls of God. These parables are: The two sons, the obedient and the disobedient ones; the rebellious husbandmen in the vineyard; and the marriage of the king’s son.

Tuesday

Jesus unfolded all his arguments against the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees, saying:

1). They talked but did not act accordingly.

2). They caused heavy and grievous burdens to be borne and lay them on the shoulders of others. But they themselves did not lift a finger to help.

3). They did good works that could be easily seen by others. They enlarged their phylacteries and the edge of their garments.

4). They loved the uppermost rooms at feasts and the front seats in the synagogues. They loved to roam the markets and other public places and be greeted, "Rabbi, Rabbi.."

Woe unto them because:

Withdrawn on the Mount of Olives with the apostles, Jesus pronounced his "Eschatological Discourse" in which he talked about the future destruction of the temple and of the city, about the end of the world, and the need to be always ready to receive the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday - Judas’ Betrayal

Exasperated, the high priests and the leaders of the people, held a new council on Wednesday, in the palace of the high priest Caiaphas. They decided to catch Jesus by deceit, and then kill him, before Passover. A person by the name of Anania (va), probably himself a member of the Sanhedrin, knew Judas. Anania offered to have Judas show the place where Jesus held his evening meetings.

Caiaphas accepted the proposal. He gave 100 pence to Anania for his services. Anania then went to Bethany. He took Judas aside. He proposed to Judas to let Jesus meet with the priests and to discuss with them the problems alone.

According to tradition, Judas betrayed Jesus for greed, by accepting the infamous thirty pence. In reality, the payment was thirty shekels, by the weight of about twenty grams of silver each, approximately the equivalent value today of a few hundred dollars. The sum corresponded to the value reimbursed to a slave owner for the killing of his slave by a third party. While there is some information which verifies the greed and dishonesty of Judas that supports the reason given for his betrayal of Jesus, this reason seems weak overall, especially considering the despair Judas faced after the deed was done, including his ultimate suicide.

Did Judas not foresee the peril he was placing Jesus in by betraying him by turning him over to his enemies? Judas had even been told by Jesus, during the last supper, that he would betray him. And he did.

There is a more convincing explanation of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and his subsequent suicide (ms, gr, lc). It is that Judas had a strong secular messianic idea, even more so than the other apostles. Judas had hoped that Jesus was going to lead the Jewish people towards a great but worldly destiny. Judas had hoped that Jesus would free the nation from Roman domination and create a brilliant future.

But Jesus’ mission was not a worldly one, a fact the apostles, including Judas, had trouble understanding.

Judas and his contacts hoped to induce Jesus to follow a worldly initiative and to persuade Jesus to begin his political activities in a decisive manner. Judas probably thought that Jesus could be forced into some type of agreement with the elders against the Romans. Or, if his enemies arrested him, that Jesus would use his miracles to defeat them and then assume power. When these factors are considered, it is easier to believe that the betrayal could have been Judas’ way of trying to force Jesus to do what he wanted him to do. The reward was more of a cover for the priests.

When Judas saw the results of what he had done, and how differently things turned out from the way he had hoped, he realized that Jesus died because of what he had done. In torment and desperation, he hanged himself.


Thursday - The Last Supper

Jesus instructed his apostles on the preparation that was necessary for the supper that would be his last one. He sent Peter and John downtown to prepare the ritual dinner. They met a man with a water jug who led them to a house of a friend. The friend was probably Nicodemus (va), one of the two Pharisees (Joseph of Arimathaea was the other) who followed Jesus.

Jesus arrived with the other ten apostles at ten thirty that night (tn). There was a fire lit with some seats to recline on while eating. They used dark colored dishes and hooks instead of forks. Three lamps are lit and positioned as a triangle.

Jesus sat in the center of a semi-circular table. Peter sat to his right. John was at his left (gr).

They dined on a Paschal lamb that had been roasted on a spit and brought in by a man. Jesus signed the door was the Israeli tradition, with the blood from the lamb. (It is interesting to note the lamb had been fixed to two spits of wood, shaped like a cross.)

Jesus and the apostles sang hymns. Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, as a sign of humility and as an answer to the apostles for their competition for the best places.

The ‘sacred’ supper was the basic rite of the Essenes, an ancient community of mystic Jews. The rite included the blessing of bread and wine made by the householder (bv, lc). Such a ceremony was performed by Jesus, too, but he added a new meaning to it. Bread was unleavened, cooked without leaven, it was very much like a large cracker. It was in memory of that bread hastily prepared before the escape of the Jews from Egypt, when there was no time left to let the bread leaven. They also ate bitter herbs.

Although the supper was one day before the traditional Paschal supper, it was a traditional meal: lamb roasted on a spit; bitter herbs; unleavened bread; charoset (a dish based on dates, grapes and vinegar) and wine. Between the consecration of bread and wine, Judas - who had been pointed out as being the imminent betrayer - stood up and left to go the priests (tn).

The Arrest of Jesus

After foretelling the apostles giving up, Peter’s repudiation of him and Jesus’ own resurrection, Jesus left for Gethsamene, followed by his apostles. At Gethsamene were two buildings, one large and one small. The larger one contained the oil press. Eight of the apostles remained there and slept. Jesus, with Peter and John, went on further to pray.

About this time, Jesus began to suffer a great internal agony. Left without any support even from his closest apostles, Jesus was encouraged by an angel. Finally, Jesus returned with the other apostles to where he awakened the others to prepare for his upcoming arrest.

Many other persons also began arriving carrying torches, swords and sticks. They were the servants of the high priests, escorted by some Roman soldiers who the priests had wanted to assist their servants with the arrest of Jesus, if there was opposition from Jesus and his followers.

Judas approached Jesus. As had been prearranged with the priests, Judas kissed Jesus so that the others would know which man to arrest. Jesus asked, "Whom are ye seeking?"

"Jeshua Nazarea" (Jesus of Nazareth,) was the reply.

"Anà" (I am he,) Jesus said. At his declaration, the closest men, shaken at Jesus’ declaration, fell backwards momentarily. Finally, restored, they grabbed hold of Jesus.

Peter stuck one of the servants of a high priest, Malchuis, with his sword. He cut the servant’s right ear. Jesus admonished him to return his sword into its place (‘For all who take up the sword, they shall perish by the sword.’) Jesus said that if he wanted to escape that he could be defended by twelve legions of angels. Jesus instantly healed the servant. But not even the witnessing of this fresh miracle deterred the attackers. They bound Jesus and led him away.

It was at this point that another of Jesus’ prophecies came true: All of the apostles fled! Some men in the crowd grasped John by his robe, but he left the garment in their hands, fleeing away naked. There was a youth, the son of the master of the property, who had probably been sleeping in the small building, who received John and provided him another garment (va).

Friday - The Trial

Jesus was led, barefoot, towards the city. It was now Friday morning, about two o’clock. While crossing the River Cedron near Jerusalem, Jesus was pushed. He fell into the water (tn). Later when he was passing through a poor suburb of Jerusalem, the people devoutly invoked Jesus, shouting "Jeshua bardafidam" (Jesus, son of David.)

Finally, a short time following his arrest, Jesus arrived at his destination. It was the house of the high priest Annas (also called Hanon) and Caiaphas (also called Joseph). Caiaphas was on duty. Annas, his father in law, and predecessor, also lived in the same house. They were Sadducees (lc).

In an inner circle, a fire was lit. Annas interrogated Jesus about his teachings and his disciples. Jesus’ only answers were references to his previously known public statements. This annoyed Annas and a servant of his spat upon Jesus’ face. Annas wrote something on a scroll and inserted it into Jesus’ girdle. He was then brought to face Caiaphas who was dressed with all the insignias of his office: A glowing robe, probably in damask; strips on his chest naming the twelve tribes of Israel; and headgear with some small horns.

Some members of the Sanhedrin arrived to stage a kind of official proceeding or trial.. Some false witnesses were heard, some of whom even contradicted each other. Jesus did not speak but Nicodemus tried to defend him. Eventually, the proceedings came to a stall as Jesus’ enemies were unable to find a reasonable excuse to condemn him. Jesus decided to lend them a hand by answering a question asked by Caiaphas about his own divinity. The answer enabled Caiaphas to accuse Jesus of blasphemy. As a sign of indignation, Caiaphas cut his robe with a little knife, then he tore it apart. He pronounced the sentence of death. Jesus was insulted, slapped and beaten.

Meanwhile, John, having then recovered from the shock of the arrest at Gethsemene, entered the courtyard of the house of Annas and Caiaphas with Peter. From a distance, they watched the developments of the proceeding. This was possible because John knew the door keeper at the house who let them in the yard.

Although they were in because they had been recognized as someone the gatekeeper knew, she began watching them suspiciously as the time passed. She repeatedly expressed her belief to someone else who had seen Peter at Gethsemene, that Peter was a follower of Jesus. Peter, three times, denied with curses that he even knew Jesus.

At sunrise, Jesus was led away from the proceeding toward the basement of the house, and as he was, he passed directly in front of Peter. A cock crew. Peter then recalled the prediction about his repudiation of Jesus. He withdrew and burst into tears.

John reached Mary, Jesus’ mother, and two other women who were hosted at a house nearby (tn).

Although Caiaphas sentenced Jesus to death, the judgment of the Sanhedrin was subject to confirmation by Roman authorities before the execution could be carried out. As it happened to be Passover, Pilate, the Roman governor who usually resided at Caesarea Philippi, was in Jerusalem, probably staying at the Antonia Tower. The priests had Jesus brought before Pilate. They led him from a rope around his neck.

Raising a crowd made up of servants and relatives of the Sanhedrin members, around six o’clock, the whole proceeding was staged early to avoid the crowd supporting Jesus. To reach their objective of condemning Jesus, they cast their accusations in a political light. They said that Jesus was: A dangerous agitator who had declared himself King of the Jews and who advocated the ban of payments to Caesar.

Jews themselves had to stop at the staircase of Pilot’s palace since they were forbidden from entering a pagan’s home.

Pilate himself came out on a small settee. He listened to the accusations. Pilate questioned Jesus. Jesus did confirm to Pilate that he was, indeed, a king, but not one of this world. Pilate judged that he could not find any fault with Jesus. But because Jesus was a Galilean, Pilate sought to avoid the insistence of Jesus’ accusers that he take action against Jesus by referring Jesus’ case to Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee. Herod, who usually stayed at Tiberias, was also in Jerusalem at the time, probably staying at the Asmoneous Palace (lc).

Herod questioned Jesus. Jesus did not respond nor did he perform any miracles as requested by Herod. He had Jesus dressed with a bright robe and sent him back to Pilate.

Pilot’s wife, Claudia Procula, had been imploring her husband not to get involved in Jesus’ case. She said she had had some premonitions in dreams about him and that Jesus was a righteous man. Pilate gifted her with a sparkling ring.

Pilate was convinced of Jesus’ innocence. He wanted to set him free but he was afraid that the Jewish notables would create political problems for him or slander him to the emperor. He attempted for a compromise to save Jesus.

During Passover time it was customary to pardon a prisoner. Pilate proposed that the prisoner be Jesus, instead of an outlaw prisoner, Barabbas Getia. The council, however, after a recess instigated by Annas and Caiaphas, asked that Barabbas be freed and that Jesus be crucified.

The Jews had a tradition, originated from the Assyrians, that of the ‘scapegoat’. According to it, in the occasion of a feast they could expiate the community sins by putting them over an animal or a man.

The animal typically was a goat, the man could have been a

criminal or a slave. The high priest performed a ceremony to load either one with the sins, then the scapegoat was sent into the desert to die (or survive if he could).

One can note the parallel between the name of Barabbas and the role of Jesus. Barabbas is in fact a patronymic, composed of 'bar' and 'abba'. Bar means 'son of' (Bartholomew means son of Tolomeus; Bariona means son of Jona, or John) ‘abba’ means ‘father’. Barabbas therefore means ‘son of the father’, which is a customary expression to indicate Jesus!

Pilate, however, did not give up his attempt to save Jesus from crucifixion. Pilate ordered that Jesus be scourged, probably hoping that such a severe punishment would appease the crowd. The scourge had many leather thongs, weighted with jagged edges of bone and lead, operated by three couples of drunken soldiers, alternating, hitting Jesus on the back and then the chest. Jesus was bound by his hands to the top of a pillar.

A crown of thorny leaves was pushed on his head. It’s shape was not that of a circle, as usually shown in traditional pictures, but like a conic basket, similar to a mitre, like the headgear of the orthodox patriarchs (tn). As the flagellation ended, Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd with his famous statement: "Ecce homo" (Behold the man). Mary and John were among the crowd but the watchers insisted: "Schelappo!" (Crucify!). A soldier went to Pilate, bringing him back the ring he just gave his wife.

Pilate got upset and had a water basin brought to him. He washed his hands on the decision before the crowd. The crowd accepted the consequences. Pilate himself withdrew in extreme reflection. He spoke to Jesus, hoping to find some useful argument but Jesus did not supply any. Pilate tried to talk with the priests, but they menacingly insisted, "If you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend! Everyone who tries to make himself a king speaks against Caesar!"

Shortly before midday, Pilate gave up. He delivered Jesus to be crucified.

 

The Crucifixion

A procession formed for the crucifixion consisting of Jesus, two other condemned men and some Roman soldiers. In order to underline their responsibility in the condemnation of Jesus, Pilate had the procession led by some members of the Sanhedrin in their official robes (ms).

Mary, John, some pious women and other followers stayed along the path with the crowd. Women and children cried as Jesus passed. Jesus renewed his premonition about Jerusalem’s destruction and renewed his regret for the destiny of those present.

The ‘via crucis’ (way of cross) was about one kilometer long. It ended at a small hill north of Jerusalem. The hill was known as ‘the skull’ (in Latin, Calvaria; in Aramaiac, Golgotha). Each condemned man carried his own cross on his shoulders. The cross was not assembled but split and its poles bound together. Jesus fell under the weight of the cross. Simon of Cyrene, a Greek man recognizable as a stranger by his clothing and haircut, was solicited by the soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross. At first, he refused and the bustling about caused Jesus to fall again (tn). But after looking into Jesus, Simon suddenly became convinced himself to take the cross.

A woman approached who offered Jesus a shawl to dry his face. She was a woman healed by Jesus long before who had suffered from uncontrolled bleeding. Christian tradition has given her the name of Veronica of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus took the shawl with one hand, wiped himself and left the print of his face on her shawl.

Just as Jesus reached the edge of the city, he fell down again for a third time. According to Neumann he fell completely three times and went to his knees four more times.

Finally, they reached Golgotha, the location where, according to tradition, Adam’s skull is buried. Jesus was stopped and placed in an old empty and ruined tomb, where he sat while his cross was being assembled. Jesus was offered some wine mixed with myrrh, a drink that was supposed to have a numbing effect on one’s senses and to reduce suffering. Jesus refused the drink.

The Cross

The cross was composed of two branches inserted in a V shape into the vertical pole and not of a single horizontal branch nailed to it, as is usually depicted in pictures (tn). As we shall soon see, he was not just nailed to the cross but bound to it at his wrists and waist and there was a footrest. This is important as some studies have claimed that it would have been physically impossible to hold a body through nails in hands, since the flesh of the hands would break under the body weight. Others have said the nails must have been drawn through the wrists. But the description offered by Neumann seems to explain it best. The vertical pole still had its bark. The soldiers removed it from the top till the place assigned for the heels of the condemned. There they cut a cavity to support the feet, together with a wedge that they nailed there.

Jesus was laid on the cross to mark the positions of his limbs and brought back to the tomb to wait again. He was trembling with chills caused by the fever from his wounds. Meanwhile, the soldiers made holes in the cross for the nails to fit. Again, Jesus was brought out to the cross. He was stripped of his clothes. A woman, moved to pity, gave Jesus a shawl that he wrapped around his side.

The garments of that time period included the tunic (cetoneth), that was worn over one’s skin, and the mantle (tallith), made up of several clothes sewed together. Jesus’ tunic was, instead, however, woven into a single texture.

The clothes of those condemned to die were assigned to the soldiers executing the sentence. So they divided among the four of them: Jesus’ mantle, ripping it down the seams; the tunic could not be divided without spoiling it, so they let it go to one of them who won it by lot. Later on Nicodemus (one of the members of the Sanhedrin faithful to Jesus) approached them and bought the clothes back from the soldiers.

Having laid Jesus down, they bound him to the cross at this waist, arms and legs. Then they nailed his hands, using the preset holes. But the holes had been made too far from each other, so Jesus’ arms were stretched to match his hands with the position of the holes, to the point that his left shoulder got dislocated. Therefore, Jesus’ body weight was not held up by the nails in the hands, but by the ropes. Finally, they nailed his feet, using a single long nail, the right foot over the left.

A white wooden tablet was fixed on top of the cross (lc). It showed, in black letters, the reason for Jesus’ condemnation. Dictated by Pilate, it read: "Jesus Nazarene King of the Jews" in three languages used then in Palestine: Aramaic, Latin (known with abbreviations ‘INRI’ or Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum) and Greek. Upon seeing the inscription, the priests asked Pilate to change it, so that it would read that Jesus had said himself that he was the king of the Jews, rather than that he was the king of the Jews. Pilate refused their request.

The cross was raised and dropped into a hole in the ground which had been dug in advance but the hole was not deep enough. The cross was removed, the hole deepened, and the cross finally set with some soil and wooden wedges. The cross was not as long as might be expected; Jesus’ feet were only about 40 cm above the ground. On top of the vertical pole, at its sides, there were two rings with ropes. The soldiers tied the ropes to two pegs on the ground, on the back of the cross.

 

THE REAL SHAPE OF JESUS’ CROSS
A schematic interpretation of Neumann’s visions

 

The crosses of the robbers were different from Jesus’. They were closer to the traditional image we have: a vertical pole and one horizontal board. The condemned were not nailed, but just tied at their arms, chest and legs. Their hands were forced by the cords around the edge of the board. They were not fixed in that position while laying on the ground, like Jesus, but when the cross had been already vertically positioned. To do that the pole had some pegs that they had to climb with their back to the pole, while a soldier was pulling them from above, standing on a ladder.

The crosses of the robbers were leaning somewhat and slanting forward, so Jesus could see them.
Besides Jesus, there were Mary, his mother, John, Mary of Cleophas, Mary of Salome and Mary Magdalene. Jesus committed Mary to John’s care and John did the same to Mary. Also watching were members of the Sanhedrin, who were rejoicing and scoffing at Jesus’ predicament. The thieves spoke to Jesus. One, Dumacus, spoke with derision; the other, Titus, as a follower. Titus reaped his reward for his good faith toward Jesus when he was one of the thieves who confronted but helped Jesus as a baby and his family when they were fleeing Herod.

The sky darkened. Jesus, in addition to his physical sufferings, felt the loss of his communion with his Father and manifested that with these famous words he spoke: "Eli, Eli, lamma sabachtani?"(My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?). In so doing, he underlined the realization of Psalm 22 by actualizing the prediction.

Then Jesus said, "I thirst." A sponge was brought to him. It had been dipped in posca, a drink composed of water and vinegar, used by the soldiers.

A quake shook the ground and split the rocks, the curtain of the temple that was used to seclude the ‘sancta sanctorum’ was torn from the top to the bottom. Many saints resurrected. The Roman soldiers and their centurion said "In truth this man was the Son of God"; he resigned and promoted one of his men to his position and became a follower of Christ. The crowd dispersed, beating their chests.

Jesus age was 35, (not 33 as commonly thought) on April 7, 30 AD, at three o’clock in the afternoon.

 

The Resurrection

 

The Burial

Since the next day was a Saturday and a holiday of the Passover, it was forbidden to leave the condemned dead publicly exposed. Those crucified Friday had to be removed that evening. The priests had asked Pilate to give the order for the removal which he did, even though it meant finishing off the men who were dying but too slowly to meet the deadline.

Joseph of Arimathea, one of the two sindrists that admired Jesus, went to Pilate. He asked for a permit to bury Jesus in his own new tomb which was located inside a garden called ‘Siloam’, near Calvary. The permission was granted but not before the centurion in charge of surveillance of the crosses complied with the requests of the priests. He first had to accelerate their deaths. As a final check, a soldier inserted his spear into Jesus’ chest. The thieves were still alive, so they had to shatter their legs.

The soldiers, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus removed the body of Jesus from the erected cross, with the aid of a cloth and a small ladder. The ladder was made of a single pole with some side pegs. Mary, resting on a carpet against a rock, received the body of Jesus on her lap, according to the famous Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the "Pieta’ ".

Joseph of Arimathea had bought a funereal sheet, the so-called ‘shroud.’ Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of myrrh and aloe ointments to apply to the body of Jesus. They placed a coin on each eyelid of Jesus, probably to keep them closed, according to the local use (bb).

About six o’clock, after the preparations had been completed on the body of Jesus, Joseph closed the tomb and went away. The tomb had a marble facing and two doors: the outer door, made by a round stone, and an inner door made in copper.
According to tradition, Joseph gathered and saved the blood of Jesus which had fallen from the cross into a cup used during the Last Supper to establish the Eucharist. This cup has been called the ‘Holy Grail.’ Later, Joseph of Arimathea brought the cup with him to England when he moved there. A cycle of legends arose during the Middle Ages about the quest for the Grail which was said to contain the power to grant human immortality. But is has never been discovered.

The priests recalled that Jesus had predicted his own resurrection from the dead. They returned to Pilate. They asked him to order his soldiers to guard over the tomb, as they were suspicious that Jesus’ disciples would remove Jesus and then claim he had resurrected. Pilate, quickly, reminded the priests that they already had a guard at their disposal. He told them to order the guard to watch over the tomb, if that was what they wanted. They did. But to be absolutely certain the disciples could not get into the tomb, they sealed the entrance of it between the stone and the cave.

Little did the priests realize that the disciples had no plans to remove the body of Jesus from the tomb. Actually, many miracles were necessary to even convince them of the resurrection!

During that same Friday night Joseph of Arimathea met the apostles in the street. While they were talking some people from the temple came out menacing them. Everybody run away, but Joseph, who was the oldest in the group, remained back. The temple people caught him and locked him in a tower; he started praying. An angel appeared and set him free (nic). Joseph went to the house of the last supper, where the apostles took shelter and they receive him after considerable hesitation.


The Resurrection - Sunday

Thirty eight hours had passed since the death of Jesus. It was now Sunday, about five o’clock in the morning (tn). The Resurrection happened on the third day and not after three days, as is sometimes written. Just as the sun was about to rise, the Earth shook. Jesus appeared, glowing with light, outside of the tomb, his wounds were healed, but shone very brilliantly, even through his luminous garments. An angel touched the burial stone and made it fall down, after Jesus had come out of the tomb through the rock. Another angel appeared hovering, while the first one sat on top of the burial stone. The guards fell to the ground.

Jesus rose through the air moving towards Calvary. There he met his mother, who had gone there following an inspiration, to pray. Jesus spoke a few words to her, causing her astonishment and great joy. Then he disappeared.

Mary Magdalene, Mary of Salome, Mary of Cleophas and Joan arrived at the tomb. They had come by hoping to better prepare the body of Jesus, bringing with them perfumes they had not time to apply on Friday when they were forced to hurry. They saw the sepulcher open with the guards prone on the ground. Magdalene leaned inside the tomb, pushed open the inner door, that was still closed, and saw an angel. He told her that Jesus had resurrected and to tell the disciples and Peter that he would precede them to Galilee. She called to the other women. She then rushed to the house where the apostles were hiding, still in fear for what happened to Joseph of Arimathea.

Magdalene knocked on the door and shouted at length. Eventually, John opened it. Magdalene told him and Peter what they had seen. They did not believe her. John and Peter ran to the sepulcher to check personally.

Meanwhile, one of the guards (Longinus, the one that had stabbed Jesus in the chest with the spear) entered the tomb. He touched the linen, then come out. Then the two women, Mary of Salome and Mary of Cleophas, entered the tomb. They saw the two angels. They spoke to them. The angels explained that Jesus had resurrected and that he would precede them in Galilee. They left the tomb frightened and rushing to the city to report to the apostles. They were not believed!

At about six thirty that morning, John and Peter arrived (lc). The guards were still fainted on the ground, except for Longinus. John leaned inside the tomb. Jesus appeared momentarily to Peter, then John took Peter by his arm and had him enter the tomb, followed by John. They touched the linen that had been used to wrap the body of Jesus that was still in place, as though his body was still inside! The shroud, however was folded out. Peter took the cloth. He placed them under his mantle. The apostles and the faithful kept saving it over the centuries. It is referred to as ‘The holy shroud’. The shroud was saved at different places: at Edessa (at the court of king Abgar?), at Costantinople, at Lirey (France) and finally in Turin, where it is still kept, assuming it is the original one and studied. Jesus’ body left a permanent print on it (HS), that enables the scientists to see some aspects of his body.

Peter then told John about having seen Jesus in an apparition just a few minutes earlier. They then left for the city.

Mary of Magdalene, after informing the other disciples, returned to the sepulcher. By leaning inside, she saw two angels. She left the tomb but soon saw a man, who asked her why she was crying. She replied, "They removed my Lord and (we) don’t know where they put him."

The man said "Myriam" (Mary). At that moment, Magdalene looked up into the face of the man. It was now glowing. She recognized the man as Jesus. She fell to her knees, exclaiming,

"Rabboni!" (Master). Magdalene attempted to touch Jesus but he stopped her because he had not yet ascended to his Father. He then disappeared. Magdalene run to the other women that were in the garden spoke to them and then run to the city again.
The women looked around in the garden and Jesus appeared to them too, hovering it the air. They also tried to touch him and he held them back.
The guards went away and reported about the happenings to the Sanhedrin. The elders decided to pay them, to keep them from revealing those things to anybody and insured they would justify them with Pilate (nic).

Going to Emmaus

The reports of the women and even the short vision of Jesus by Peter had not been enough to overcome the skepticism of the apostles, so few people knew about it. Many of Jesus’ followers (not the disciples) had started leaving Jerusalem that same Sunday to return to their homes. Among them were a couple, Zaco and Cleophas (va) (this last was son of Mary of Cleophas (tn)), who had started for a town called Emmaus, about 30 km northwest of Jerusalem.

Jesus, initially, unrecognizable, escorted the couple and talked with them about the happenings in Jerusalem. At evening they stopped at an inn for supper and insisted that Jesus remained with them. They ate some fish, bread and honeycomb. Jesus ate a little, then he got up, held his hands over the bread, blessing it. Then he broke the bread and gave it to them.

As they ate the bread they recognized him and he became shining with light, like when he came out of his tomb. Jesus then rose off the floor and disappeared.
They called the innkeeper, paid him and immediately returned to Jerusalem to report to the apostles. They knocked repeatedly to the door, until Peter and John opened. The apostles, however, were still worried and did not believe them.

Jesus with the Apostles

They were still discussing all about Jesus with the Emmaus disciples, when Jesus appeared with the doors closed, standing a little bit above the floor and said "Shelam lachon ana latero" (Peace be with you, it is I). He insisted they understand the reality of his resurrection and rebuked them for not believing those that told them about it. Jesus sat, ate some roasted fish to demonstrate he was not a gost and spoke with them about the scriptures announcing those events. Then he rose in the air, breathed on them and spread his hands, establishing the Sacrament of Penance and disappeared.
As we well know, Thomas was not present. It took one more apparition of Jesus, on the following Sunday, to convince him.

Besides the two apparitions to the apostles, there was another one during the week to Mary and John, while they were walking the "stations of the cross," recalling the events and kissing the ground where Jesus had fallen (tn).
One more bilocational apparition is reported by Neumann. It was the third Sunday, twenty days after Easter, at about 9:00 PM. Jesus appeared in the house to ten apostles (John was not in) and forty disciples and ate with them. Meanwhile he appeared also to his mother, her sisters, the Magdalene and John, at the city gate. They ran soon to the house and told each other what happened.

Again in Galilee

The apostles, following Jesus’ instructions, returned to Galilee. The women, however, stayed in Judea (va). After a while, the apostles began their daily activities again. One night, in particular, Peter, James, John, Nathaniel, Thomas, Andrew and Philip (lc) went fishing on Lake Tiberias, close to Tobga (vv). After fishing all evening, they had caught nothing, so they headed for the shore.

About one hundred meters away they heard a man on the shore asking them whether they had anything to eat. They answered they did not. The man invited them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. Soon their boat was full of fish. At that sight, John recalled the ‘miraculous draught of the fishes’ in earlier times. He understood and shouted: "It’s the Lord!" Peter threw himself into the lake swimming to reach Jesus faster, while the others were taking the boat and nets.

They joined the man, whose aspect was not that of Jesus as they had known it. But no one dared to ask who he was. The man had a fire going with some bread and fish to roast. He told them to bring some of their fish and they ate. Then Jesus took Peter aside. He asked him for three times the famous question about whether he loved him, as though to make up the past triple denial of Jesus by Peter. Jesus reinvested in Peter the task to lead his flock.

On another occasion, the eleven apostles went on a mountain. Jesus appeared among them, some of the apostles happily went to their knees, some other watched hesitantly until he spoke to them. In that meeting Jesus established the Sacrament of Baptism.

Jesus met also with over five hundred of his disciples on a hill, promising them his assistance.

The Farewell

Again, following the instructions of Jesus, the disciples returned to Jerusalem. They stayed in the house of the Last Supper. Forty days after the resurrection, at four o’clock in the morning (tn), Jesus appeared. He had breakfast with them.

After talking, they went out barefoot, going up on a hill on the way to Bethany. There he gave them his last instructions. One of them was to remain in the city to receive the Holy Spirit in the forthcoming holiday of Pentecost.

There were, among the others, Lazarus, the wife of Pilate and Longinus, the guard who stabbed Jesus in his chest and who subsequently witnessed his resurrection. The apostles, demonstrating a persistent equivocation about the spiritual teachings of Jesus’, asked him whether the time had come for him to establish his kingdom over Israel.

After speaking affectionately with his mother, Jesus lifted his hands in blessing. Then, leaving a footprint on a stone, he was raised very slowly from the ground towards the east, with the sun rising behind him. His garments glowed like snow in the sun. A cloud passed over and suddenly Jesus was no longer in their sight.

Two angels appeared and sent everyone free.

The End

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THE SOURCES
(Bibliography)

 

Beyond the canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, several sources have been used to reconstruct the Unknown Biography of Jesus Christ:

 

REFERENCE

'Apocryphal writings' i.e. non canonical writings, acts, and gospels. They are not used as a safe reference for religious truths, but can be useful from a historical-biographical viewpoint:

(abg) - Letters between Abgar and Jesus

(and) - Acts of St. Andrew

(ar) - Arabic Gospel of the Infancy

(ato) - Acts of Thomas

(cop) - Fragments of Coptic texts

(dor) - Cycle on the dormizio of Mary

(fil) - Acts of Philip

(gc) - Protevangelium of James

(gio) - Acts of St. John

(nic) - Gospel of Nicodemus

(nv) - Gospel of Nativity

(pie) - Acts of St. Peter

(pil) - Acts of Pilate

(pmt) - Gospel of Pseudo Matthew

(sdg) - Story of Joseph - Carpenter

(tad) - Acts of Thaddaeus

(tom) - Gospel of Thomas

------------------------------------------------------------

(kr) - The Koran
Even if little known to the Christian public, the Koran reports many tales similar to those of the Bible and presents many personages of the Christian tradition in a light of great devotion

(3c) - Dizionario Enciclopedico Italiano: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1955

 
BOOKS

(bud) - Notovitch, Nikolai. La vie de S.Issa'. Paris (France), 1894
(In Italian: Il Vangelo Buddista della Vita di Gesu'. Roma (Italy): Atanor, 1985)
Based on two Tibetan manuscripts, read to the author by a lama of the Himis monastery. The manuscripts collect some information derived from originals in Pali language, belonging to the library of Lasa (Nepal). It confirms various data about Jesus' life in the Orient.

(bv) - Marston, Charles. La Bibbia ha detto il vero. Verona (Italy): A.Mondadori, 1967.

 

(dn) - Di Nola, Alfonso. Vangeli Apocrifi. Roma (Italy): Lato side Editori, 1979 (for comments and notes).

(fh) - Markides, Kyriacos. Fire in the Heart. London: Arkana, 1991
Third in a series of books testifying on the life and world of a contemporary Cypriot mystic and healer, who was said to be guided by St. John the Evangelist.

(gr) - Ricciotti, Giuseppe. Vita di Gesu' Cristo. Cles (TN, Italy): Oscar Mondadori - Saggi, 1994 (Copyright 1941).

(hy) - Swami Rama. Living with the Himalayan Masters. Honesdale (PA): Himalayan International Institute, 1978
Autobiography of an Indian mystic; relates some information about the presence of Jesus in Kashmir.

(il) - Dalla Libera, V. L'itinerario della luce. Roma (Italy): Ed. Missioni O.M.I., 1971.

(lc) - Farrar, Frederic. The Life of Christ'. London: Cassel & Co., 1874

(ms) - Markides, Kyriacos. The Magus of Strovolos. London: Arkana, 1990
First in a series of books testifying on the life and world of a contemporary Cypriot mystic and healer, who was said to be guided by St. John the Evangelist.

 

 (tn) - Steiner, Johannes. Visions of Therese Neumann. New York: Alba House, Society of St. Paul, 1976. Translation of ‘Visionen der Therese Neumann’. Munich: Verlang Schnell & Steiner.
Therese Neumann was a German mystic 1898-1962; besides showing various paranormal phenomena, among which her total abstinence from food and drinks from 1926 up to her death, she had many recurring visions on the life and passion of Jesus.

(va) - Dowling, Levi. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. 1908
(Italian edition: Il Vangelo acquariano. Novara, Italy: Budda Ediz.)
Written by a chaplain of the US Army; reports information about the life and teachings of Jesus, obtained in a series of repeated visions. In particular it illustrates the period Jesus spent outside Palestine.

 

(vol) - Meurois-Givaudan, Anne & Daniel. De memoire d’Essenien. Arista. Rouffignac (see book II, Ch.II).
(Italian: L'altro volto di Gesu'. Torino, Italy: Arista, 1988.)
Based on some astral trips performed by the authors and some visions derived from the memory of the Universe (Akasha). It confirms some information on Jesus' life in the Orient

(vv) - autori vari. Vangelo vivo. Torino (Italy): Edizioni San Paolo, 1994

 

BROCHURES

(gt) - S.Giuda Taddeo Apostolo. Piccola Casa di San Giuda Taddeo. V.Gradisca 16 Roma (Italy), 1977

 

 TV PROGRAMS

(bb) - P.Baima Bollone, professor, medical examiner and president of The International Centre of Sindonology of Turin (Italy) - information presented at the Italian TV transmission 'Format' on the Holy Shroud - RAI 2, 8 July 1996

 

PICTURES

(HS) Picture of dead Jesus, from the Holy Shroud, electronically handled by computer. Available on-line on the Internet, care of Centro Internazionale di Studi Sindonologici of Torino (Italy)

(SMM) - Arcibasilica of S.Maria Maggiore - Rome, Italy - Mosaics

 

PERSONS

(SB) - Great contemporary spiritual master, works in Puttaparti, Southern India; beside materializing Jesus' picture shown here, he performed miracles similar to His, including resurrection of dead persons.

 _______________



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to cordially thank:

 

 

Appendix

 

CHRONOLOGY: Jesus’ Life Main Milestones

YEAR

Jesus’ Age

DATE

PLACE

EVENT

6 BC

<1

April 25

Bethlehem

Birth

5 BC

1

 

Egypt

Flight

4 BC

2

 

Nazareth

Arrival home

4 BC -
6 AD

2 - 12

 

Nazareth

Life at Nazareth

6 AD

12

 

Jerusalem

Meeting temple doctors

7 AD

13

 

Nazareth

Going East

7-11 AD

13-17

 

Orissa, Banaras

 

 

 

 

Kapavistu, Lasa, Leh

 

 

 

 

Amarnath, Lahore

 

18 AD

24

 

Persepolis, Ur, Babylon

 

 

 

 

Nazareth

 

 

 

 

Athens, Delphi

 

 

 

 

Zoan, Heliopolis

Temptations

27 AD

33

 

Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

Desert

Temptations

 

 

 

Samaria

Meeting a woman at Jacob’s well

 

 

 

Galilee

Cana wedding and other miracles

 

 

 

 

Completing the 12

 

 

 

 

The beatitudes

 

 

 

 

Apostles in mission

29 AD

35

March

Bethsaida

1st multiplication of the loaves

 

 

May

Jerusalem

Healing: a paralytic, a

 

 

 

Tire, Sidon

demoniac girl, a dumb-deaf

 

 

 

Bethsaida

2nd multiplication of the loaves

 

 

 

Caesarea

Assigning the leadership to Peter

 

 

 

Mount Tabor

Transfiguration

 

 

 

Capernaum

Paying the tax with a coin from a fish

 

 

October

Jerusalem

Dispute with the Pharisees

 

 

November

Judea

Sending the 70 disciples

 

 

December

Jerusalem

Teaching Pater Noster

30 AD

35

January

Transjordania, Samaria, Galilee

Healing 10 lepers

 

 

February

Transjordania

 

 

 

March

Bethany

Lazarus’ resurrection

 

 

 

Jericho

Dinner with Zaccheus

 

 

 

Bethany

Dinner at Martha’s

 

 

April 2

Jerusalem

Palms Sunday

 

 

April 4

Jerusalem

Harsh admonition of the Pharisees

 

 

April 6

Jerusalem

Last supper

 

 

April 7

Jerusalem

Death

 

 

April 9

Jerusalem

Resurrection and apparitions

 

 

April 16

Jerusalem

Apparition to Thomas

 

 

 

Capernaum

New wonder fishing

 

 

 

Galilee

More apparitions

 

 

June 1

Jerusalem

Ascension

 

ANGELS

 

Angels, whose names means "messengers," (and archangels) often appear in the course of the facts narrated in this biography: from the Annunciation to the Ascension of Mary.

But what did they look like, according to the witnesses? In most cases they presented themselves like normal men of young age. On some occasions their bodies and their clothes appeared particularly white and bright. They are never, however, described with wings, as so often depicted in traditional pictures!

 

THE APOSTLES

 

Simon - Peter

Simon - Peter’s original name was Simon Barjona (bar-jona means: ‘first-born son of Jona’). Jesus renamed Simon as 'Kephas' (Cefa), that means rock (petra in Latin), hence 'Peter.'

Born at Bethsaida, he moved to Capernaum and got married. A raw and strong blond (ms) fisherman, he was impulsive and generous.


He was a follower of John the Baptist, who invited him to join Jesus’ party. Peter had practically no education. He suffered from an inferiority complex towards John, who was younger and more learned. Peter frequently used a staff, that he often employed to bar people from crowding upon Jesus. He even used a sword to defend Jesus from the group that went to arrest him.

Peter was first to intimately recognize Jesus’ divine nature. Jesus assigned him the apostolic leadership. He was also part of Jesus’ ‘inner circle’ together with John and James. They were privy to Jesus’ highest manifestations.

Peter denied Jesus on the night of his trial, but he did bitterly suffer and repent about that later. Jesus, after his resurrection, confirmed his responsibility within the dawning Church.

After Jesus’ ascension, Peter got arrested in Palestine, but miraculously escaped from his prison, freed by an angel; then he traveled to teach to at Antioch, Corinth and Rome.

In Rome, under the emperor Nero, Prefect Agrippas (pie) persecuted him. Agrippas was angry because Peter had converted to chastity his own concubines Agrippina, Nicaria, Euphemia and Doris (as well as those of some other powerful persons). As a result, Peter abandoned the city to avoid the threat. He met Jesus himself along the Appia way. He was surprised to meet him there and asked him, "Lord where are you going?" (the question was later recorded in Latin as: "Domine quo vadis?") and Jesus answered: "I am going to Rome" and disappeared. Peter realized he was due to stay in Rome too, whatever happened. So he returned to the city, where shortly after he got arrested and crucified, upside down, in 64 or 65 AD.

His teaching was recorded by his disciple Mark, in his Gospel and in S. Peter's epistles. His disciple Marcellus buried his body in a marble tomb, that he had prepared for himself. The Christians built on his tomb the basilica of S. Peter in Vatican.

 

Andrew

Andrew was the calm and reserved brother of Simon-Peter. He was from Bethsaida, also, and followed Peter to Capernaum. He was also a fisher and initially a follower of John the Baptist. He performed his apostolic service in Epirus, Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, and up to Armenia and Georgia. He founded the Church at Costantinople.

From the apocryphal 'Acts of S. Andrew (and) we learned that Andrew was condemned to be attacked by the wild beasts (wild bear, bull, leopard), they did not touch him; instead, they turned themselves against his torturers and attacked them.


Proconsul Egea eventually martyred Andrew at Patras, because he preached against the pagan gods. After a long scourging, he was bound and stretched on an X shaped cross (that is now named after him 'cross of S. Andrew'.) The common people took up his defense and set up a protest against Egea. Egea yielded to free him, but Andrew had irrevocably accepted his martyrdom, so nobody could succeed in unbinding him.

His relics are spread in various parts of the world, mostly in Costantinople and Rome.

 

James

James was a son of Zebedee, born at Bethsaida. He was also a fisher. His mother, Mary of Salome, was a step sister of the Virgin Mary; therefore, he was a cousin of Jesus. King Herod Agrippas I (one of the sons of Herod the Great, enthroned by the emperor Caligolas as king of some territories contiguous to those of Herod Antipas) martyred him, as the first of the apostles, by beheading, on 42 AD.

 

John

John was also a son of Zebedee and James’ brother. Jesus nicknamed them 'sons of thunder,' because of their impulsive temper. He was the youngest among the apostles, and a fisher as the others above. At the time of his appointment he was 17-18 years old (ms) .

Beloved by Jesus, he took care of the Virgin Mary after Jesus’ death, according to his request from the cross.

Perhaps because of his familiarity with Mary, he was the most spiritual evangelist and sharply distinguished his Gospel with respect to the other three. He also wrote the Apocalypse and three epistles. There are also the apocryphal 'Acts of S. John', inspired to his life (gio), that let us know most information about him.

John got arrested, by the emperors Domitianus and Adrianus, and scourged, but - probably the only one among the apostles - was not killed. He lived at Ephesus and was segregated at Patmos, till the time of the emperor Traianus, when all the other apostles had died.


John died at Ephesus at 90; foreseeing his imminent death, he had his own grave dug and lied therein. His body was brought to Heaven. His burial site is known and a church was erected on it.

 

Philip

Philip was also from Bethsaida. He was probably a master in philosophy (va).

He stayed in Greece (in particular at Delphi), Lidia, Tunisia, often together with Bartholomew. He evangelized Phrygia. There are an apocryphal gospel and acts attributed to him (fil).

He performed the resurrection of the only son of a widow, in analogy to the known miracle by Jesus.

He suffered his martyrdom at Ierapolis; he was nailed upside down to a tree.

 

Bartholomew

Bartholomew was born at Cana. He is also known as Nathanael (Bartholomew was his patronymic: bar Tholmay = first-born son of Tholmay or Timeus). As a child, he was about to die, leaving his mother without a child as his brother had already gone. His mother went to see Mary to ask for healing. She was invited to lay Bartholomew in Jesus' bed. The child was healed and started immediately to eat (ar).

He was probably Philip’s brother. A calm person, slow to enthusiasm, tradition depicts him with noble origins. Before meeting Jesus, he was most likely a rabbi. He performed his missionary service in India, Ethiopia, and Armenia.

Bartholomew is attributed the apocryphal texts: "The Interrogations" and "The Apocalypse of Bartholomew".

He was martyrized, at Licaonia by skinning (fil).

 

Thomas

Thomas was also named 'Didymus' which meant 'the twin.' He was probably from Antiochia

(va) and a builder by profession. He is famous for his proverbial disbelief.

He is attributed as the source of some apocryphal texts:

After Jesus’ ascension he went to preach among the Partis and in India, where he got martyred by stabbing, on the order of king Mazdai (ato). Buried in India, his body was successively moved to the West, by the faithful.

 

Matthew

Matthew’s original name was Levi, son of Alphaeus, from Capernaum. Jesus himself likely renamed him Matthew, which means "God’s gift." Matthew was a publican and tax collector; he was rich and educated enough to perform his job. He became the other apostle-author of a canonical Gospel, beyond John (the other two being Mark and Luke, respectively, disciples of Peter and Paul).

 

James the Less (or of Alphaeus)

James was the son of Alphaeus (or Cleophas, who was brother of Joseph) (gt) and of Mary of Cleophas (another step sister of the Virgin Mary). He was therefore a cousin of Jesus. He was called the "Lord’s brother." He was a carpenter at Nazareth, with Joseph (va).

James wrote a canonical epistle. He is also attributed an apocryphal gospel: "The Proto Gospel of James’." He was martyred in 62 AD, by stoning.

 

Thaddaeus

Thaddaeus was also called Judas, or Lebbeus. He was brother of James the Less and a carpenter like him (va) . He was married (lc). Thaddaeus evangelized Judea, Mesopotamia, and Persia, working many miracles. He founded several local churches, ordaining priests and bishops.

He fought some heresies together with Simon the Canaanite and got martyred with him. Some idolatrous priests of Suamyr (Persia) beat them to death on 70 AD (gt).The bodies of the two apostles, initially buried in a great church purposely built in Babylon, were later moved to the Vatican basilica.

 

Simon the Canaanite (or Zelotes)

When Simon was a boy, Jesus saved him from a poisonous snake bite (ar).

He was also called the Zelotes. The Zelotes were a sect of Pharisees, who were zealous both on the religious and on the political fronts, favoring an independence from Rome. Therefore Simon was the opposite of Matthew, who served the Romans and ignored the religious rules.
We have very little information about him. He died together with Thaddaeus (see above).

 

 

Judas Iscariot

Judas’ cognomen seems to refer to the town of origin of his family 'Qerijjoth', in South Judea. He was the son of Simon. As a child he was tormented by Satan and would bite people (ar). His mother brought him to Mary and the child Jesus, to beg for his liberation. Judas sat beside Jesus and tried to bite him; as he could not succeed in that, he blew him on his breast, at the spot where a soldier would eventually strike him on the cross. Jesus cried and Satan came out of Judas as a rabid dog.

Judas had red hair (tn). He was an aristocrat. Before following Jesus he got married (cop)

and he worked for Matthew at the house of tributes (va). Judas was probably the most political person among the apostles; he was particularly interested in a temporal version of the Messiah’s kingdom.


He used to take care of the cash of the group and John accused him of being a thief, because he subtracted some money of the community to give to his spouse (who instigated him to steal) (cop).

As we know, he betrayed Jesus, delivering him into the hands of his enemies. He then committed suicide. He hanged himself to a fig tree in a field named Aceldama. The branch of the tree broke under his weight and Judas fell into a ravine below, and all his bowels gushed out.

Aceldama means "blood field." It is known also as "the potter’s field." It is located in the Gehenna, an area South of Jerusalem. The priests bought the field by the 30 pence of the betrayal, that Judas threw into the Temple in despair; they assigned that field to the burial of pilgrims that would die during their visit to the holy city.

---------------------

The apostles were Galilean (with the likely exception of Judas Iscariot).After Judas’ suicide their number dropped to eleven. The number twelve was a symbol in the Jewish tradition, equaling the number of the Israel tribes. So, after Jesus’ ascension, the eleven apostles decided to restore that number. The missing twelfth member was restored by a selection made among the most authoritative disciples. Two elders were nominated. The chosen one was Matthias and was already an apostle on Pentecost.

Further-on, however, the issue of number twelve (and its Judaic reference) was somehow set aside by the divine election of S. Paul, who was added to the group and became a leader among them.

Out of the twelve apostles, eight were brothers (in couples):

Four of them (James and John, James the less and Judas Thaddaeus) were Jesus’ cousins.

Four of them (Peter, Andrew, James and John) were fishers.

Two of them (James the less and Thaddaeus) were carpenters.

Two of them (Matthew and Judas Iscariot) were tax collectors.

Three of them (Peter, Andrew and John) had been disciples of John the Baptist, before following Jesus.


At least three of them were married: Peter, Thaddaeus and Judas Iscariot.

The first six selected (Andrew, Peter, John, James, Philip and Bartholomew) were from Bethsaida, a town on the North-East shore of the lake of Tiberias, not far from Capernaum.

 

 

John the baptist (not an apostle, but a forerunner of Jesus)

John was the only son of Zachariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a Mary’s relative on the side of her mother Ann. Zachariah was a priest at Jerusalem temple. They lived at Ain Karim, about 7 km away from Jerusalem. They were both old and unable to have any children, although they wished they could.

One day, while Zachariah was ministering at the temple, the archangel Gabriel appeared to him and announced he was going to get a son. He should give his son the name of John, the angel said, as the name means ‘God is merciful.' Gabriel said that John would be great, full with the Holy Spirit, and a forerunner of the Messiah.

Zachariah was doubtful and asked the archangel for proof. Gabriel replied that since Zachariah doubted, his sign from God would be that he would become speechless, until his son John was born.

One week after John was born his parents and relatives had to circumcise him and give him a name. His relatives insisted to assign him his father’s name: Zachariah. Elizabeth did not agree and they all asked Zachariah to say what he wanted.. Zachariah, however, was still speechless. He asked for a tablet to write upon and wrote: ‘John is his name’ Soon after that he regained his voice and blessed God with the canticle ‘Benedictus’

John grew up as an ascetic eremite, living in the desert of Judea, South-East of Jerusalem. He was likely in touch with some mystic masters of the period and the spiritual community of the Essenes. He wore animal skins and ate what he could find in the wilderness. His nature was full of impetuosity and fire. He feared no danger or enemy.

Short before Jesus’ manifestation he showed up along the Jordan River, close to Jerusalem to preach and baptize, so that people could prepare themselves for the upcoming Messiah. Common people used to attend his preaching, while most priests, Scribes and Pharisees could hardly bear the sight of him.

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