I’m learning a lot from Frank Zindler. Mainly about people I’ve never had any reason before this to know anything about. I’m also learning quite a bit about the evolution of religion, specifically the evolution of Christianity. I’m always fascinated with how things change and morph into other things, especially when it’s a process of borrowing and altering other sources.
Now to be fair, I am only through the first chapter of the book “The Jesus the Jews Never Knew” but it’s a dense book. The first chapter mainly covers two men named Philo Judaeus and Justus of Tiberius. Both were Jewish authors that lived during the same time that Jesus of Nazareth was said to have live.
Now Justus was a well know writer who lived in, well, Tiberius. Though it’s true that Justus’ writings were lost sometime in the 9th or 10th century, we know a very important tid bit about his writings. We know they never mentions anyone like Jesus, or any of the events attributed to him despite having lived near Galilee during Jesus’ miraculous acts.
Philo of Judaeus aka Philo of Alexandria was a prolific writer and rather important to the early Christian founding fathers; Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius. This one is a little more convoluted as to why Philo is so significant.
Philo’s surviving works fill 900 modern pages, and who knows how much we’ve lost. In all those 900 pages he never mentions Jesus, St. Paul or anyone really associated with Christ or Christianity. He does mention a monastic cult known as the Therapeutae who appear to be the predecessors to Christian monks and nuns, but aren’t Christians themselves. Also, Philo appears to be the originator of the ideas of Logos (The Word) and Pneuma which became Hogion Pneuma (The Holy Ghost).
The weirdest part of Philo comes from his niece-in-law, Bernice, who is mentioned in Acts [chpt 26 & 27]. According to Acts, Bernice and her brother Herod Agrippa II, met and were witnessed to by St. Paul. This presents a major problem because, again, Philo never mentions St. Paul. It seems unrealistic to believe someone as prolific as Philo wouldn’t have:
- Noticed and wrote about something as awesome as Jesus’ miracles
- Have talked to his own family and found out about St. Paul
Keep in mind that Philo lived during the entire span of Jesus’ life and lived in or near Jerusalem his whole life. He never mentions Herod’s massacre of babies, or the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, or the miracles associated with Jesus, or the earthquakes and zombie walk associated with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Still, Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius all try and force his writing into the Christian mold by making things up and using wording that makes things ambiguous. They also try and morph the Therapeutae into some kind of Christian group even though they existed long before Christ.
Even as Philo shows no signs of supporting Jesus as a historical figure, he does support a hypothesis that Zindler mentions early in his first chapter. He suggests that Christianity isn’t a new, sudden religion brought to us by a single teacher. He suggests that Christianity is natural evolution of older religions, borrowing and changing the older myths and stories to fit their needs. This is very common, and looking at the way Logos and Pneuma became part of the Christian doctrine, it’s also very convincing.
I’ll go into the Evolution of Christianity as I progress thorough the Historical Jesus series. They kind of go hand in hand. So my next post will start to lay the foundation for the Evolution of Christianity, just so we all have a similar starting point. Till Then!