The Abduction of Our History
The ancient history of our community is largely an unknown one to most people – a deliberately ignored one. To a large extent it is a history stolen from us – the events that occurred in our story have been taken over by another community – Christianity, to be rewritten and claimed as their own.
Reclaiming our past is an uphill struggle; Talmidi saints, heroes and prophets have been turned into Christian heroes, and great moments in Talmidi history have been repainted and redesigned to look like Christian triumphs.
We only know our past from those who criticised us (see Historical references to ancient Talmidin). Our own writings were altered and taken over by Christians (the ‘Letter of Ya`aqov Nasi to the Communities Abroad’ was rewritten as the ‘Epistle of St James’, and the ‘Book of Visions’ was expanded to become the ‘Book of Revelation’). Anything that could not be altered was purposefully destroyed.
Restoring our history has been very much like detective work – either playing on hunches, or putting together a jigsaw puzzle with only 10% of the pieces. I have had to guess and make up many of these pieces from many hunches, but what have found is, I believe, a story that fits with what we know for certain of Jewish history.
I would therefore like to point out the people and places which have been taken over by Christianity, and try to reclaim them for our own community.
The Prophet Yeshua`
The abduction, distortion and eventual deification of our prophet, Yeshua` bar Yosef, was the worst act of iniquity. He was a human prophet, a Galilean Jew, a faithful servant of YHWH the God of his ancestors. He would have been outraged and dismayed that Gentiles would later take over his message, de-Judaise it, and turn him into a pagan god-man. It would have been an anathema to him.
The misrepresentation of Yeshua`’s death was another grave injustice. Yeshua` was the Jewish victim of merciless Roman torture and cruelty. When we read of Yeshua`’s death, we cry in our hearts, ‘This is wrong! This is unjust! This oppression was evil! How could these heartless people have murdered a man of God like this!’ But Christians look at the story, at his bleeding, pain-racked and tortured body and cry, ‘How wonderful! How marvellous! How great!’
To the Jews of his day, the cross was the symbol of evil and oppression. Christianity has covered up the injustice that the story is supposed to evoke in us, the outrage it is supposed to provoke, and instead glorified his death, and turned an evil symbol of death into the sign of their religion.
The early community of Followers
Christianity has also abducted the identities of Yeshua`’s first Jewish followers, given them new names, new roles, and new beliefs. The first Followers of the Way were not Christians, but remained faithful Jews, faithful to YHWH, to the Torah, and to the customs of their ancestors. They were not ‘the early Church’, but a community of Jews within Judaism who followed the teachings of Jewish prophet.
After Yeshua`, the second greatest leader of our community was his cousin / brother Ya`aqov bar Qlofah. He was chosen as Nasi (religious president) of the community), and led the community for nearly thirty years (see more on Ya`aqov bar Qlofah). Unfortunately, this image conflicts with the Christian view that Peter was the leader of Yeshua`’s Jewish Followers, so Ya`aqov is demoted, and turned into a Christian bishop.
In reality, Shim’on Keyfa (Simon Peter) was only the leader of the Judean community of Followers. He defected to Paul and his teachings, was expelled from the Talmidi community, and was exiled to Rome for converting to Christianity.
Paul of Tarsus
The character of St Paul is the most lied about and deceitful figure in the Christian rewrite of early history. In Christianity he is extolled as a great Apostle and teacher. We see him rather differently (see more on Paul of Tarsus).
He was the son of gentile converts from Cilicia (modern south-east Turkey). He tried to join the Pharisees, but they would not have him. In an attempt to hide his failure from his parents, he became a captain in the ranks of the Temple police, in the service of the High Priest and the Sadducees. It was in this capacity that he persecuted, not Christians, but the Greek-speaking sect of Followers (see page on the Hellenicists).
We view Paul of Tarsus, not Yeshua`, as the true founder of the belief system most people know today as Christianity.
The Council of Elders in Jerusalem
In the ‘Book of Acts’, there arises a dispute between Paul’s Believers in Antioch, and a delegation sent up from Jerusalem, concerning the conduct of Paul’s Gentile disciples in relation with the laws of the Jewish community. He is summoned to Jerusalem to explain himself. In the Christian version of the story, Paul wins, is reconcile to the Jerusalem council, and all is well.
In our version of the story, Paul’s views are so irreconcilable with those of any branch of Judaism, that he is politely informed that he can no longer consider his Believers as part of the Jewish community, and is expelled from the Talmidi community.
Paul must have held a deep resentment for this, and I believe that this is the original motivation behind the subconscious loathing Paul had for the Jewish community of Followers.
Taking back our story
When we see Christians tell and write about our story as if it were theirs, we feel an enormous wrong is being perpetuated through time. There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do to stop it and reclaim our story. However, there may be a ray of hope.
Ordinary people, both spiritual and non-spiritual, have a simple idea of what the first followers of Yeshua` were like: a community of people striving to live lives of kindness, charity, forgiveness and generosity of spirit; a community of people who worshipped and served a loving God, full of compassion and warmth. If we can show these things in what we do, then others can judge for themselves who we are. I believe our actions will do more for us than any arguments and evidence that we could ever put forward.