Hyam Maccoby's Theories of the Historical Jesus
Maccoby considered the portrayal of Jesus given in the canonical Gospels and the history of the early Church from the Book of Acts to be heavily distorted and full of later mythical traditions, but claimed that a fairly accurate historical account of the life of Jesus could be reconstructed from them nevertheless.
Maccoby argued that the real Jesus was not a rebel against the Jewish law, but instead a Jewish Messianic claimant whose life and teaching were within the mainstream of first-century Judaism. He believed that Jesus was executed as a rebel against the Roman occupation of Judaea. However, he did not claim that Jesus was the leader of an actual armed rebellion.
Rather, Jesus and his followers, inspired by the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament prophetic writings, were expecting a supernatural divine intervention that would end the Roman rule, restore the Davidic Kingdom with Jesus as the divinely anointed monarch, and inaugurate the Messianic age of peace and prosperity for the whole world. These expectations were not fulfilled and Jesus was arrested and executed by the Romans.
However, many of the disciples of Jesus did not lose their hopes, believing that Jesus would soon be miraculously resurrected by God, and continued to live in expectation of his second coming. Their fellowship continued to exist in Jerusalem, as a strictly orthodox Jewish sect under the leadership of James the Just. According to Maccoby, the founding of Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism was entirely the work of Paul of Tarsus.
Maccoby claimed that Paul was a Hellenized Jewish convert or perhaps even a Gentile, coming from a background exposed to the influence of Gnosticism and the pagan mystery religions such as the Attis cult, a myth involving a life-death-rebirth deity. The mystery religions, according to Maccoby, were the dominant religious forms in the Hellenistic world of that age and so, would have strongly influenced Paul's mythological psychology.
Maccoby partially derived this theory from fragments of the writings of opponents of Ebionites, particularly in the treatise on Heresies by Epiphanius of Salamis.
Maccoby considered Paul's claims to an orthodox Pharisaic Jewish education to be false, asserting that while many of Paul's writings sound authentic to the uninitiated, they actually betray an ignorance of the original Hebrew scripture and the subtleties of Jewish Law. Maccoby claimed that an examination of the New Testament indicates that Paul knew no Hebrew at all, and relied entirely on Greek texts that no actual Pharisee would ever use because they were not properly translated.
According to Maccoby, Paul fused the historical story of Jesus' crucifixion with elements of contemporary mystery religions and Gnosticism, developing such new non-Judaic mythic ideas as the Trinity and the Last Supper. Paul also made an attempt to find prophetic justification for his newly created myth in the Old Testament.
Paul came to present Jesus as a dying and rising savior deity similar to those from the Hellenistic mystery cults, fused with the historical pedigree of Judaism, thus giving birth to a powerful new myth whose preaching gained him a large following. As the Jerusalem group of the original disciples of Jesus gradually became aware of Paul's teachings, bitter hostility ensued between them.
Maccoby interpreted certain New Testament passages (for example Paul's account of his quarrel with Peter in the Epistle to Galatians) as remnants of authentic accounts of this hostility. However, the Roman-Jewish War of 66-70 CE soon brought a violent end to the Jerusalem sect, and the Gentile Church founded by Paul emerged as the winner by default.
Maccoby viewed the Book of Acts as a later attempt by the Pauline Church to present the relations between Paul and the Jerusalem disciples as harmonious, thus presenting the Pauline Church as legitimized by the chain of apostolic succession reaching back to the original disciples of Jesus. Maccoby also conjectured that the Jewish-Christian sect of Ebionites may have been an authentic offshoot of the original Jerusalem community.
Maccoby focused his work on tracing the roots of anti-Semitism back to an early-Christian origin, and on disassociating Christianity from a truly Jewish background. Maccoby placed the blame for the death of Jesus on the Roman authorities and their Jewish collaborators from the Sadducee party, who controlled the Temple, its funds, and its police.
He considered the Gospel accounts of the hostility between Jesus and the Pharisees as an invention of the Pauline Church, and argued that Jesus himself subscribed to Pharisaic Judaism as revealed in such texts as the Sermon on the Mount.
For further reading: Hyam Maccoby The Mythmaker, Paul and the Invention of Christianity . (ISBN 0-06-015582--5)
- Jesus the Jew by Jonathan Went
- Survey: Anti-Semitism on the rise in U.S.
- STATUTES THAT WERE NOT GOOD' (EZEKIEL 20:25-26)
- Purim: The dangers of deism to Orthodox Judaism.
- Founding Fathers Religion Debate and Poll
- Deism advocated in Romans and the gospels of the Bible
- Doctrines of Heathen Philosophy by Joseph Priestly
- Happy Constitution Day by General Bates
- Historical Jesus FAQ
- Neoplatonism and Christianity
- Maccoby's theories of the historical Jesus
- The Confessions of St. Augustine
- Was Martin Luther reasonable? His own ravings.
- Paul the Apostle and Salvation Thru Faith
- James, Paul, and the Dead Sea Scrolls by John Oller
- The Theology of Paul
- Review of Hyam Maccoby's Paul and Hellenism by John Mann
- Paul's Bungling Attempt At Sounding Pharisaic by Hyam Maccoby
- Hyam Maccoby was mostly right
- The Problem of Paul Indroduction
- The Problem of Paul 1
- The Problem of Paul 2
- Jesus and the Jewish Resistance Introduction
- Jesus and the Jewish Resistance: The Messiah
- Jesus and the Jewish Resistance: The Pharisees
- Jesus and the Jewish Resistance: The King of the Jews
- Jesus and the Jewish Resistance: The Day of the Lord
- Tim McVeigh and Christian Identity
- What Christian Identity thinks of Baptists
- Khazars and the Jews
- Debunking the Protocols
- Willie Martin
- Randy "Ruby Ridge" Weaver Christian hero in Sullivan County
- Christian Identity: A Religion for White Racists and Jew Bashers
- Far Right Militia Goes Too Far
- A Killing in God's Name
- Militias Take Aim in VA
- Early Life of Tim McVeigh
- McVeigh's Former Commanding Officer Breaks Silence
- Christian Identity: a Christian Response
- Dogma of Christian Identity
- History of Christian Identity
- How the militia movement undermines separation of church/state.
- American Militant Extremists
- Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson blame America for 911
- Pat's Big Lie
- Coalition Survival Questioned
- Racism at the Christian Coalition
- Coalition Woes May Hinder Religious Right
- Pat's Diamond Scam
- Pat Robertson Warns Dover Pa of Disaster
- Pat Attacks Hindus
- Pat Robertson Loses It in Attack on High Court
- The Terrorist and the Televangelist: Charles Taylor and Pat Robertson
- Freemasons, Conspiracy Thinking, and Pat Robertson
- Pat Robertson and More Conspiracy Theories
- Conspiracy theories and Blacks
- The Hard Right and Conspiracy Theories
- A Messianic Bloodline, the Jews and Freemasonry
- Why Do Some People Hate Freemasonry? by D. Pipes
- Famous Freemasons
- What is the connection between Judaism and Freemasonry?