TRTZ 20 24th May 2011

Tonight’s show is about the Historical Jesus – we ask the question whether it is all about belief.

But first some weird news from around the globe…

From Catherine Baker ….

May 11th: Tayside Police have responded to a Freedom of Information request by revealing their weird and wonderful cases of the last three years.  While most are resolved and had down-to-earth explanations, some cases were unresolved and remain so, such as the intriguing triangular shaped set of white lights in the sky over the city on May 13th, 2009 in Glen Lyon and another odd set of lights spotted by a Dundee resident on April 27th 2010, both cases have been left marked ‘unexplained’.

May 21st: ‘Definitely Devon’ clotted cream is being investigated by trading standards officers. Why? Because it’s made in Cornwall. Customers have complained that the packaging is misleading, though it does use Devon based products.

May 22nd: Southampton was subject to what might have been a practical joke gone awry as several panicked members of the public called emergency services after spotting a white tiger in a hedge near a golf course which was evacuated after the arrival of a police helicopter and armed police.  Specialist staff from Marwell Zoo were also called upon to attend in case the animal needed tranquilising or it came too near to the public, not only this, but there were plans to close the M27 until thermal imaging and a closer look at the creature revealed the harmless truth – it was a lifesize stuffed toy.  Those involved mostly just seem amused by the whole thing, a spokeswoman for the force stating that “It’s not often an incident leaves our staff with a smile on their face and it just goes to show the diverse type of incident we are called to deal with.” It is not yet known whether the incident was a hoax or just lost property.

May 24th: Osama bin Laden was, in fact, not a fan of British TV sitcom The IT Crowd. Graham Linehan, genius behind The IT Crowd among others, began circulating a rumour that Osama bin Laden might’ve been a fan of the show as a joke that he later went on to say seems to illustrate how quickly a rumour can circulate and mutate on Twitter. He tweeted: “Does anyone have confirmation that Osama was watching The IT Crowd in these home movies? Amazing if true. Don’t know how to feel” on May 7th and was surprised to find that nobody quite realized that he was joking, watching as the ‘news’ became a common tweet topic.  He has retracted the ‘fact’ and wonders if ‘maybe there is a lesson here!’.


May is zombie awareness month

May: In the Quang Ngai province, a mystery beast is causing panic.  The creature has left enormous footprints behind it, as well as roarinz`g sounds and a trail of over 20 dead dogs in the area.  The incidents are being linked to some manner of dog-like creature that has bitten 15 residents and are reportedly described as having ‘…slender, long bodies, slanting red eyes and their fur coat is marked with white spots, black and white spots or yellow stripes.’

May 1st: An empty house in Maschusetts suffered a nasty case of flooding after a pipe burst during the winter.  This would not normally go down as a particularly unusual event, however, when the water seeped into the phone system, it short-circuited, subsequently calling 911 whereupon emergency services showed up at the house to find the water-wrecked remains!  How the short-circuited system ended up reaching the emergency services is still something of a mystery given the chances.

May 9th: A Texan man had to be airlifted to hospital after an especially horrendous attack from a local feline.  The feline assailant attacked the man at his home a few miles south of Cleveland in Liberty County.  During the battle, the man attempted to return blows using a knife, but was subsequently so badly injured by the cat and the knife that he had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital (Memorial Hermann Hospital) in Houston.  Sadly, (Or not, depending on your perspective) the cat was also very badly injured and was humanely euthanized in Cleveland.

May 17th: Russia caught and arrested a suspect today following a gruesome trail of body parts, including a head, to the suspect’s house in Moscow.  He was found dining on the liver of ‘an acquaintance’ with potatoes, the rest of which was found in the suspect’s fridge, presumably for future dining.

May 19th: Having recently featured the theories of Ron Pearson on TRTZ and learnt about the theory of dark energy, it seems appropriate to feature this BBC news story.  A major astronomical  survey using the latest tech has confirmed the existence of dark energy, the invisible substance that can explain why the Universe is expanding.  Astronomers measured a pattern in galaxy distribution known as ‘baryon acoustic oscillation’ and how quickly galaxies have been formed over time and apparently the results of these two prolonged observations have confirmed the existence of dark energy.

May 20th: (As an obsessive fan of the film, this broke my heart!) Hook & Ladder Co. 8 in New York is a firehouse that featured in both Ghostbusters films as the base of operations.  It is a working firehouse and was one of the first to reach the location of the 9/11 disaster, sadly, however, it may not be for much longer as it is being threatened with closure.  There is still hope for the old building as there are protests being made by city council members in reference to the budget cuts (As well as from fellow nerds).

And from Fee we discover that….

Preacher alters doomsday prediction

California preacher Harold Camping has said his prophecy that the world would end over the weekend was off by five months because Judgement Day will actually come on October 21.

Mr Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven on Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.

His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions – some of it from donations made by followers – on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 vehicles plastered with the Judgement Day message.

Pony express?

A rail passenger attempted to board a train with his pony but station staff said “neigh”.

The commuter arrived at the station in North Wales and tried to buy a ticket for himself and the animal for the 7.02pm service from Wrexham to Holyhead.

Despite being told that large animals were not allowed in the carriages, he put the pony into a lift and took it down to the platform.

Pony on Train

‘Vampire’ woman gets ‘horns’ implanted

A ‘vampire mother’ has had titanium ‘horns’ implanted, to complement the tattoos that cover almost 100 per cent of her body.

Maria Hose Cristerna, a mum of four from Mexico, showed off her unusual looks at a tattoo exhibition in Monterrey in California recently.

She had her body transformed as a reaction to enduring years of abuse at home.

The striking look is completed by specially shaped vampire ‘fang’ teeth, fake eye colours and massive earrings – but she’s not finished yet! The 35-year-old claims that she wants even more horns implanted.

‘Tattoos were a form of liberation for me – my way of being immortal – and the horns I have are a symbol of strength and were implanted without anaesthetic,’ she told The Sun.

‘I had the fangs done because I loved vampires as a little girl and I changed the colour of my eyes so they were how I really wanted them to be.’

‘Devil horns’ grandmother now quite enjoying her horns

The 101-year-old Chinese woman who grew a devil-like horn from her forehead has confirmed that she’s now growing a matching one on the other side of her head – and says that she’s looking forward to it.

Zhang Ruifang first noticed the horn on the left side of her forehead developing in 2009 – and it’s now around 6cm long. And she says that doctors have now confirmed earlier suspicions that she’s now developing a similar growth on the right side of her forehead.

Zhang says she’s turned down offers to have them removed – because she’s never had so many well-wishers and visitors at her home in Linlou, eastern China.

‘At first it was a nuisance sleeping and so on, but now I get people visiting me all the time bringing me food and gifts and asking to take my picture.

‘I had some doctors who said they would cut it off for free but I told them no. In fact I’m quite looking forward to when the matching one has grown a bit,’ she explained.

Youngest son Zhang Guozheng, 60, said he and his five brothers have given up trying to persuade their mother to have them removed.

He said: ‘She is on her own a lot of time and we didn’t pay much attention to it until too late and by then she seemed to be quite attached to leaving them there.’

The growths are likely to be ‘cutaneous horns’ – growths made of keratin, the same substance that makes up fingernails. Although most cutaneous horns are only a few millimetres in length, some can extend a number of inches from the skin.

Our main topic tonight is the ‘Historical Jesus’…

Both Catherine and Fee have had a ‘stab’ at putting together some outline material which will support and promote our discussion. Great work guys!

From Catherine…

Jesus in History

The general timeline, Biblically speaking, goes something like this.

Jesus’ birth coincides with the time of Herod the Greats’ death, about 4 BCE.

He grew up in Nazareth, Galilee.  

He was baptised by John the Baptist and called together a group of followers known as the Disciples, proceeding to preach the word of God in and around Galilee.

In 30 AD he departed to Jerusalem for Passover.

Before he was arrested He dined with His disciples and was finally executed after Pontius Pilate ‘washed his hands’ of Him in around 30AD.

The three Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are known as the synoptic Gospels as they all often describe the same events and outline the same lessons taught by Jesus.  However, the gospel of John is not included in this description.

While there is debate as to the authors of the Gospels, historians seem to generally agree on the date that they were written. Mark: 60AD Matthew and Luke: 70-85AD, John: 90AD, implying that they were written about 30 years after Jesus died.

The argument, therefore, from people who believe the synoptic Gospels to be historically accurate, goes that there would’ve been enough people around at that point who’d have witnessed Jesus’ doings to challenge any discrepancies or inconsistencies in what was written.

Some argue that the Gospels must be historically accurate seeing as there are many other accounts of Jesus that were not deemed reliable enough to include in the Bible.

Mark is, strictly speaking, the most reliable source as it written the closest to Jesus’ death.

It is thought that Matthew and Luke used Mark’s gospel as a source, therefore despite there being three separate sources of information here, they are rolled into one and not described as a ‘multiple attestation’ source of evidence.

The story of Jesus’ birth is more widely debated, especially as this part is not covered by the Gospel of Mark.

The fact that the Gospels were not written in English and have been translated worries historians, as there is always a chance of mistakes in translation.  There have been numerous ‘translations of translations’ as well, increasing the chance of mistakes.

However, the New International Version of the Bible written in 1973 used the earliest Greek manuscripts available for translation just to avoid this and those manuscripts are still in existence now.

Punctuation was not really invented until much later on; therefore the Gospels could easily be completely misread for this reason alone.

The Christian Church that we know today has developed and changed since the Gospels were written, it’s possible, at the risk of delving into conspiracy theories, that there have been authorized changes in publications in order to make sure certain teachings fit with current religious conviction.  Knowing what we do about what the Church has done in the past to make certain things match with religion (The conversion of Pagan festivals to Christian ones is a good example) we can’t be certain that the ‘historically accurate’ Gospels are exact after all.

There are few examples of written evidence outside of the Bible; however, as few people could read or write at the time it’d be pretty hard to document Jesus’ doings anyway.

There were larger events in history at this point that may have led to the lack of documentation.  An invasion from Parthia and conflicts in Dacia may have occupied the Romans.  Somebody being crucified in Jerusalem may not have seemed like much of event at the time.  Plus, if Jewish scribes had detailed the event the documents may well have been destroyed in 70AD and 135AD by the Romans. (Derek McIntyre)

Archaeologically speaking, there is evidence for a village at the site of Nazareth in the appropriate time period specified in the Gospels.

There have been discoveries of the Ossuary of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and James, Jesus’ brother.  James’ was discovered in 2002 with the Aramaic inscription ‘James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus’, however, while the box is indeed ancient the inscription has been deemed a fake made to look old by using a chalk solution.  Jesus’ and Marys’ ossuary have been discovered on multiple occasions, Jesus being quite a common name of the time along with Mary.  James Cameron once attempted to make a documentary on the matter, but it is now thought that the scientific methods used on the programme (Chemical residue, statistical analysis of names and DNA analysis) were far less conclusive than they were made out to be.

In April, Simcha Jacobovici claims to have found two of the nails used to crucify Jesus in a first-century tomb outside Jerusalem.  Apparently it would seem that the two inch rusty nails were found in 1990 along with a number of ossuaries and that sadly the artefacts were mysteriously lost after this.  Jacobovici asserts that they have been rediscovered in a laboratory in Tel Aviv.  It is thought that the nails were buried with Caiaphas, a Jewish high priest involved with the trial and execution of Jesus according to the Bible, although this theory was also dismissed as a publicity stunt.

Recently, there have been reports of a new discovery – three thorns thought to have been part of Jesus’ crown of thorns are about to go on display at the British Museum.  According to the Fortean Times they have quite a history (Aside from the obvious that is).  The story goes that the Crown of Thorns was, “…dug up in AD 326 in the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem by St Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, and taken to Constantinople.  In the 13th century, Baldwin II, expelled as Latin emperor of Constantinople and in desperate need of cash, sold it to Louis IX King of France.  To avoid the sin of trafficking in holy goods, Baldwin ‘freely’ gave the relic to Louis, who in return ‘freely’ offered him the vast sum of 177,300 livres, making it the most expensive object in Europe, if not the world.” At this point in the timeline of its continuing journey, there were supposed to be 60 or 70 thorns still intact that went on to be housed in the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, 1238.  Louis and many of his successors would remove singular thorns from the crown as ‘especially important gifts’ until 1793 when the Sainte-Chapelle’s relics were dispersed.  Mary Queen of Scots was said to own one of these ‘gifts’ until she was executed in 1597.  This particular thorn is now thought to be in Stonyhurst Hall in Lancashire.

Here is a link to a very thorough timeline of the gospel of Matthew…×768/index.htm

…The gospel of Luke…×1024/index.htm

… The gospel of Mark…×1024/index.htm

… and the gospel of John.×1024/index.htm

Fee offers the following…

4 BC – Archaeological excavations have shown that Bethelem in Judea probably did not exist as a functioning town between 7 and 4 BC, when Jesus is believed to have been born.Throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth,” not “Jesus of Bethlehem.” In fact, in John (7:41- 43) there is a passage questioning Jesus’ legitimacy because he’s from Galilee and not Judaea, as the Hebrew Scriptures say the Messiah must be.

6 BC – It is also recorded that Herod sent his armies to kill all children under 2 years old, which means that Jesus was at least 2 if actual birth was 7 or 6 BC. If is the case then Jesus was not 33 years old when he died, but 39 or 40! This is an interesting dilemma if the Scriptures are God breathed and how perfect that other small error exist? also where can it be found in the Bible that says Jesus was 33 years old!


The original celebration of Christmas started in ancient Egypt as a celebration of the god Aion or Osiris who was also born to a virgin mother.

The “Saturnalia”, the fertility festival of the Roman god Saturn  was celebrated on the 17th of December and the following days. The festivals of Aion/Osiris often called the light of the world and Saturn merged over time, and in the fourth century BC the celebration was moved to the end of December.

The Saturnalia was a hugely popular and very important public holiday.

In the last century BC this celebration merged with the also hugely popular celebration of Natalis Solis Invicti, the birthday of the personified sungod Mithra on the 25th of December.

In pagan beliefs the 21st Of December is Winter Soltice – where the holly king over throws the Oak king in the great Battle and where the idea of the 3 came about. Goddess, Oak King and Holly King. Each are her husbands but also her sons too.

In Germanic Europe they also celebrated a festival of light and of the turning of the sun at winter solstice in the end of December. They celebrated the turning of the sun and for good health and abundant crops in the coming year. The Germanic name for the celebration was (and still is in Skandinavia) “jul” (yule, noel). The European celebration of Yule is actually an age-old communal Germanic festival, far older than Christianity in these parts.

The story of Jesus was possibly therefore originally an allegorical story based partly on the Jewish exodus myth and Joshua/Jesus ben Nun, successor of Moses, the Jewish Messiah-myth and the widespread pagan myth of the dying and resurrected godman Dionysos-Osiris. Later uneducated Christians in Rome, people without the insight and understanding of the deeper meaning of the texts, started to take these allegorical stories for their face value, and Literary Christianity as we know it was born. is a very good link for a website that goes into GREAT detail about the Star of Bethlehem and all the faults within our calender which indicates that Jesus was not born in December for December should be our 10th month and October should be our 8th month and it also has details on the Pyramids etc.

Again, thanks Catherine and Fee.

The issue as to Jesus’ historical reality must surely be of interest to believers and non-believers alike. To some degree it could be said that the fact that ‘Jesus Christ’ inspired and inspires so greater a world-wide following is evidence that ‘he must have lived’.

This hardly satisfying for anyone choosing to think rationally about such an issue although it may be a perfectly sound position for those who believe. Tonight we will ask some questions about the nature of the historical Jesus, if indeed there was one!

Some Key Points to Consider…

What Sources do we have or would like to have?

The Gospels – all written by those with a vested interest in ‘the story’ and sometime after the event moreover they have undergone numerous revisions and translations

Documents written at the time of Jesus – the Romans were great record keepers we could assume that we would find some references there.

The writings of commentators at or close to the time of Jesus – the movement following this rebel rousing, miracle working and charismatic ‘leader’ would have resulted in some reference from contemporary writers surely?

The writings of early historians – outside of those writers who were Christians how many others were writing of this spiritual revolutionary?

Archaeological Evidence – do the descriptions of places and buildings in the biblical accounts tie in with any archaeological finds?

As one writer notes:-

“No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings.”

Jim Walker

Provocative Quotes:

When the Church mythologists established their system, they collected all the writings they could find and managed them as they pleased. It is a matter altogether of uncertainty to us whether such of the writings as now appear under the name of the Old and New Testaments are in the same state in which those collectors say they found them, or whether they added, altered, abridged or dressed them up.

Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)

The world has been for a long time engaged in writing lives of Jesus… The library of such books has grown since then. But when we come to examine them, one startling fact confronts us: all of these books relate to a personage concerning whom there does not exist a single scrap of contemporary information — not one! By accepted tradition he was born in the reign of Augustus, the great literary age of the nation of which he was a subject. In the Augustan age historians flourished; poets, orators, critics and travelers abounded. Yet not one mentions the name of Jesus Christ, much less any incident in his life.

Moncure D. Conway [1832 – 1907] (Modern Thought)

Many people– then and now– have assumed that these letters [of Paul] are genuine, and five of them were in fact incorporated into the New Testament as “letters of Paul.” Even today, scholars dispute which are authentic and which are not. Most scholars, however, agree that Paul actually wrote only eight of the thirteen “Pauline” letters now included in the New Testament. collection: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Virtually all scholars agree that Paul himself did not write 1 or 2 Timothy or Titus– letters written in a style different from Paul’s and reflecting situations and viewpoints in a style different from those in Paul’s own letters. About the authorship of Ephesias, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians, debate continues; but the majority of scholars include these, too, among the “deutero-Pauline”– literally, secondarily Pauline– letters.”

Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (Adam, Eve, and the Serpent)

Many modern Biblical archaeologists now believe that the village of Nazareth did not exist at the time of the birth and early life of Jesus. There is simply no evidence for it.

Alan Albert Snow (The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You To Read)

It was not until the third century that Jesus’ cross of execution became a common symbol of the Christian faith.

John Romer, Archeologist & Bible scholar (Testament)

The Gospel authors were Jews writing within the midrashic tradition and intended their stories to be read as interpretive narratives, not historical accounts.

Bishop Shelby Spong, Liberating the Gospels

Music in Tonight’s Show

Little Spitfire : If I Look I See You

The Is : Out of It

Sataya Graha : Spine to Shine

All available from : Aardvark Music

Credit to Dementia : Portal of Truth



Briant, Pierre, “Alexander the Great: Man of Action Man of Spirit,” Harry N. Abrams, 1996

Carrier, Richard, “Reply to McFall on Jesus as a Philosopher (2004)

Crossan, J.D., “Jesus: a revolutionry biography

Doherty, Earl, “The Jesus Puzzle,” Canadian Humanist Publications, 1999

Flavius, Josephus (37 or 38-circa 101 C.E.), Antiquities

Gauvin, Marshall J., “Did Jesus Christ Really Live?” (from:

Gould, Stephen Jay “Dinosaur in a Haystack,” (Chapter 2), Harmony Books, New York, 1995

Graham, Henry Grey, Rev., “Where we got the Bible,” B. Heder Book Company, 1960

Helms, Randel McCraw , “Who Wrote the Gospels?“, Millennium Press

Irenaeus of Lyon (140?-202? C.E.), Against the Heresies

McKinsey, C. Dennis “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy,” Prometheus Books, 1995

Metzger, Bruce,”The Text of the New Testament– Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration,” Oxford University Press, 1968

Pagels, Elaine, “The Gnostic Gospels,” Vintage Books, New York, 1979

Pagels, Elaine, “Adam, Eve, and the Serpent,” Vintage Books, New York, 1888

Pagels, Elaine, “The Origin of Satan,” Random House, New York, 1995

Potter, David Stone, Mattingly, Dr. David J., “Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire

Price, Robert M.,” Deconstructing Jesus,” Prometheus Books, 2000

Pritchard, John Paul, “A Literary Approach to the New Testament,” Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1972

Robertson, J.M. “Pagan Christs,” Barnes & Noble Books, 1966

Romer, John, “Testament : The Bible and History,” Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1988

Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, “A History of Biblical Literature,” New American Library, 1962

Spong, Bishop Shelby, “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism,” HarperSanFrancisco, 1991

Tacitus (55?-117? C.E.), Annals




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