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5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden origin of Christianity, 20 May 2010
This review is from: James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secret (Paperback)
This exhaustive & exhausting work investigates Pre- or Proto-Christianity by drawing on the Apostolic Constitutions, Dead Sea Scrolls, Clementine Recognitions & Homilies, Eusebius, the Western Text of Acts, Josephus and the Slavonic Josephus plus the two James Apocalypses from Nag Hammadi. Eisenman identifies the personalities and events of the New Testament with particular emphasis on the struggle between James The Just and Paul of Tarsus.

His most significant discovery is that Jamesian "Christianity" emerged from the Zadokite priestly sect that overlapped with or later became Essenes, Ebionites, Mandaeans, Nazoreans, Nazirites and Zealots. The most likely founder was John the Baptist who was succeeded by Jesus and then James the Just. Yeshua/Jesus did not occupy a soteriological role in this movement which eventually fragmented along the lines of loyalty to John the Baptist (the Mandaeans), Jesus (Ebionite Christianity) and James the Just (the Qumran sect).

In his earlier work Dead Sea Scrolls And The First Christians, Eisenman identifies James the Just as the Teacher of Righteousness of Qumran. James's struggle against Paul is one of the major themes in the book under review. It seems that Yeshua/Jesus was not central to the movement whilst the canonical Twelve Apostles were an artificial substitute for the smaller circle of his brothers. The portrait of Jesus in the Greek gospels appears to be based on various episodes relating to different messianic and prophetic figures in the work of Josephus.

Eisenman exposes the web of theological deception by - amongst other methods - a detailed examination of names as they resonate across the aforementioned sources. The multitude of similar names in the gospel accounts, where the apostle lists differ amongst themselves and between various manuscripts of the same gospel, raises suspicion. Eisenman's explanation is probably correct: the purpose of the alterations was to obscure the importance of James and Jesus' other heirs. Their names had to be manipulated to comply with proto-Orthodox dogma so that siblings became cousins, and so forth. The expression "Jesus son of Joseph" does not reveal the name of Jesus' father but instead represents a messianic title "Messiah ben Joseph."

Eisenman places the earliest narratives closer to the First Jewish-Roman War. According to Josephus, the execution of John the Baptist might have taken place in 35-36 CE. Epiphanius claims that James' leadership lasted for 24 years after the departure of Jesus whilst the date that Josephus gives for the death of James would place Jesus' death in about 38 CE. The church father Irenaeus claimed that Jesus died at age 50 in the reign of Claudius.

Eisenman identifies Josephus' Herodian Saulus who was active during the siege of Jerusalem with Paul of Tarsus. As Sanders concludes in Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People, Paul's arguments are really a hodge-podge of inconsistent & contradictory rationalizations. It was Paul's religion, however, that prevailed. Christianity emerged as a paganized, syncretic and diluted Judaism designed for the Roman Empire. Eisenman describes Pauline Christianity as a compromising, assimilating, Herodian apostasy.

He agrees with Hyam Maccoby that Paul was neither Pharisee nor Jew. In his books Paul and Hellenism and The Mythmaker, Maccoby shows how the incorporation of themes from mystery religions and the perception of Torah as a burden in Paul's antisemitic writings prove they were not written by a Jew. Eisenman provides evidence for Paul's Herodian connections, like his Roman citizenship and his kinship with a certain Herodion and the family of Aristobulus. This confirms the Ebionite charge that Paul was a member of the Idumaean Herodian family. Eisenman points out that Paul claims to be a Hebrew, an Israelite and a Benjaminite but never calls himself a Jew.

So Paul might well have been the enemy of the Righteous Teacher, the Lying Spouter of the Scrolls who repudiated the Law and betrayed the covenant. The similarities between Qumran rhetoric and New Testament remnants of anti-Paulinism are striking. Eisenman also makes a convincing case for Luke's use of Josephus as a source. In Luke's Hellenizing agenda, the succession of Jesus by James the Just became the replacement of Judas Iscariot by Matthew. The name Matthias obviously derives from Mattathias the father of another Judas, the hero Judas Maccabeus.

The aforementioned is but one example of what seems to be intentional mockery and subtle incitement to antisemitism (in addition to the overt manifestation found in the New Testament). Another case involves the suicide at Masada and the myth of the suicide of Judas Iscariot. In the Gospel of John, the tale of the wedding at Cana holds the key to many a mystery that Judith Taylor Gold examines in minute detail in Monsters & Madonnas, a rather chilling work.

A valuable work that investigates the origin of the New Testament as regards its authorship, claims, chronology, contents, canonization and language is Jonathan Sjordal's Two Witnesses: Hebrew Texts Changed By The Greek New Testament. It shows how NT writers "quote" non-existent Hebrew scripture, quote Hebrew prophecies that had already been fulfilled then claim that NT events are their fulfillment and quote 50 to 60 Hebrew Bible passages as proof of fulfilled messianic prophecies while none of those is a prophecy.

I highly recommend Eisenman's sequel to this book, The New Testament Code, as well as The Authentic Gospel of Jesus and The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English by Geza Vermes. Finally, it needs be said that James The Brother of Jesus severely challenges the reader. The book requires patience, appreciation of meticulous research and a determination to pursue the truth wherever it may lead.
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