Sunday, July 22, 2007


Does anybody quest for the historical George Washington or the historical Socrates? Is there a historical Gandhi or a historical Joan of Arc that has to be searched for like some lost, mysterious object? Of course not. It would be silly. One simply studies history and reports one's findings. We know these people are historical (the historical Gandhi would be a redundancy) and we see what the study of history yields.

Jesus is the only figure for whom scholars had to invent the absurd idea of a historical person we have to go on a quest for. The very idea was to make sure that history would not — I repeat, not — be studied in Jesus' case. The quest for the historical Jesus was always meant to be self-defeating. It must never happen.

I've known for a long time that historical Jesus studies were never serious about finding him. What they are searching for is one theological Jesus after another. But it only just occurred to me that the very concepts of the historical Jesus and a quest for him were deliberately invented to circumvent all proper historical study. Scholars duped themselves and everyone else, including me. Their quest is for power — the power to enforce deception (both self-deception and the general kind).

If the historical Jesus is set up as a mysterious object, then he (and the Gospels, I must add) can be buried under a tissue of lies. There was never any desire to uncover the lies and reveal the genuine history. The quest was the lie that was intended to reinforce the rest of the lies. The 19th century scholars, including Albert Schweitzer who comes as their culmination, made it very clear that, for them, Jesus is outside history, as I discuss in Chapter 4 of my book, "The Ghost in the Gospels". They shut down any attempt to see him as part of and in history.

In other words, they realzied that the best defense against historical study of Jesus was a good offense. They would create a field, a quest, that completely undermines any possibility of seeing history in the Gospels. The history is right there under our noses and they made it disappear in the cleverest way possible by inventing a quest for the mysterious, the invisible, the unknowable Jesus, which itself was the biggest lie of all.

They did it because they were (and still are) so afraid that the real historical, Jewish Jesus would destroy Christianity. They just assumed this, they've never questioned it, because fear told them it must be so. Fear created a quest — an impossible quest — whose very impossibility would soothe the fear.

What New Testament scholars have pulled off here is the perfect crime. History is pulsing right there, right beneath your fingertips, in the Gospels, in Acts, in the letters of Paul — and the scholarly world made all this history disappear. They killed it and they killed everybody's historical imagination so perfectly, so successfully, that it is now impossible to raise this history. Everybody is so absolutely deaf, dumb, and blind to it. And I don't think anybody reading this will say "What a shame". Instead, they will say "Great! Just what we wanted!" There isn't any court of justice you can appeal to. The perfect crime.

The truth is you don't need a quest. Just the study the sources the way you would any historical documents. Jesus is not buried or hidden. He's there in plain sight. Simple historical study will reveal him. It has never been done, but the successful suppression of this does not prove it cannot be done.

Let's just say that light is the last thing scholars want to shed on this subject. So they will always tell extraordinary lies and I'm stuck beating my head against a wall. No justice, just a wall to beat your head against. But it is so simple. The Jesus who really lived and died in history is there for anyone who wants to see. What's missing, what's lost, what's been killed, is that wanting to see, that desire to love history on its own terms.

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