Judas of Nazareth: How the Greatest Teacher of First-Century Israel Was Replaced by a Literary Creation

Judas of Nazareth: How the Greatest Teacher of First-Century Israel Was Replaced by a Literary Creation

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by Daniel T. Unterbrink

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An investigation into the historical Jesus and the veracity of the Gospels

• Reveals the biblical Jesus as a composite figure, a blend of the political revolutionary Judas the Galilean and Paul’s divine-human Christ figure

• Matches the events depicted in the New Testament with historically verifiable events in Josephus’ history


An investigation into the historical Jesus and the veracity of the Gospels

• Reveals the biblical Jesus as a composite figure, a blend of the political revolutionary Judas the Galilean and Paul’s divine-human Christ figure

• Matches the events depicted in the New Testament with historically verifiable events in Josephus’ history, pushing Jesus’ life back more than a decade

• Demonstrates how each New Testament Gospel is dependent upon Paul’s mythologized Christ theology, designed to promote Paul’s Christianity and serve the interests of the fledgling Gentile Christian communities

Scholars have spent years questioning aspects of the historical Jesus. How can we know what Jesus said and did when Jesus himself wrote nothing? Can we trust the Gospels, written by unknown authors 40 to 70 years after Jesus’ death? And why do other sources from the time not speak of this messianic figure known as Christ?

Drawing on the histories of Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Daniel Unterbrink contends that the “Jesus” of the Bible was actually a composite figure, a clever blend of the Jewish freedom-fighter Judas the Galilean and Paul’s divine-human Christ figure created in the middle of the first century CE. Revealing why Paul was known as a liar, enemy, and traitor in other Jewish literature, he shows that the New Testament Gospels are not transcripts of actual history but creative works of historical fiction designed to promote Paul’s Christianity and serve the interests of the fledgling Gentile Christian communities. He demonstrates how each Gospel is written in light of the success of Paul’s religion and dependent upon his later perspective.

Matching the events depicted in the New Testament with the historically verifiable events in Josephus’ history, Unterbrink pushes the dating of Jesus’ life back nearly a generation to a revolutionary time in ancient Judea. He shows that the real historical Jesus--the physical man behind the fictional stories in Paul’s Gospels--was Judas the Galilean: a messianic pretender and Torah-observant revolutionary bent on overthrowing the Roman government and galvanizing the Jewish people behind his vision of the coming Kingdom of God. In the greatest cover-up of history, this teacher of first-century Israel was replaced by the literary creation known as Jesus of Nazareth.

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Chapter 7
Foundation Legends

Relying on primary sources, a new theory emerges that the Jesus of history was really Judas the Galilean. The historical Jesus has been glossed over by other images and impressions. The Jesus of Nazareth we find in the canonical gospels of the New Testament is not the Jesus of history but rather a composite. It is a portrait created by the Pauline Gentile Christ Movement to suit its needs after the Jewish Jesus Movement and Judaism waned due to the disastrous war with Rome in the first century CE. A new Messiah figure was needed, worthy of Roman admiration and devotion. Jesus of Nazareth was created.

“Foundation legends” helped bridge the gap between 60 CE and the reality of the emerging church from 90 CE on. These legends provided answers to troubling questions concerning the continuity of teachings from Jesus of Nazareth to Paul.

Then the four gospels of the New Testament were created based upon a storyline provided by the author of the Gospel of Mark. They reflect the theology of Paul as well as his experiences, a fact rarely discussed by scholars and never quantified. But the astute reader of the New Testament suspects that the gospel Jesus was not the Jesus of history, the person who preached in Galilee and met his tragic end in Jerusalem. The gospel Jesus was a created figure, a fiction, one suited for the Christ Movement and its successors. It was a remarkable creation for it has stood the test of time.

The early Christian Church story has been buttressed by several “foundation legends,” not included in the New Testament but circulated in Christian communities from the early second century. The legends have a twofold purpose: first and foremost, church history had to be consistent and uniform in nature; second, the time period from the end of Acts (approximately 60-62 CE) to the early church historians (early to late second century) had to be accounted for in an appropriate manner.

Two distinct “Christian” movements existed by the fourth decade of the first century: the Jewish Jesus Movement and the Pauline Christ Movement. Most Christians today have not even considered such a split. The traditional viewpoint states that the church began after Jesus’s resurrection and the apostles--including Peter, Paul, and James--all worked together for the same purpose. Any differences between these leaders have been minimized in order to present a unified front.

The fact that Christians today fail to recognize any split is a testament to the Foundation Legends’ success. Would Christians today believe in the traditional Christian unified world if these legends had not been invented?

The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul

When Paul traveled to Achaia to meet Nero in 67 CE, he was not in chains but went of his own accord to lay blame for the Jewish war on Florus (The Jewish War 2.556-58). Nothing at this time points to Paul’s untimely demise. If Paul still lived and traveled freely, then why did the later church insist that he and Peter underwent persecution and martyrdom together? The answer: the church wanted to gloss over any disagreements between the earlier Jewish Jesus Movement and Paul’s Christ Movement.

The first mention of Peter’s and Paul’s martyrdom came from Clement of Rome (30-97 CE). He did not supply a concrete date for the martyrdom but did concoct the falsehood that Paul “taught righteousness to the world.” Clement attached to Paul the righteousness attribute that clearly belonged to Cephas (Peter) and James the Just (followers of Judas the Gallilean and the Jewish Jesus Movement). Righteousness meant dedication to the Torah. Compare this to the Ebionite claim rejecting “the Apostle Paul as an apostate from the Law.” If Paul were an apostate from the law--and his own letters prove it--then no one in the Jewish Jesus Movement could have considered his teaching “righteousness.”

Eusebius wrote, “It is recorded that in his [Nero’s] reign Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified, and the record is confirmed by the fact that the cemeteries there are still called by the names of Peter and Paul, and equally so by a churchman named Gaius, who was living while Zephyrinus was Bishop of Rome [199-217 CE].”

By the early fifth century the legend had become so entrenched that Augustine wrote, “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed.” Augustine differed from Eusebius, who claimed that both were martyred at the same time. However, the important point is that Peter and Paul were viewed as one, with the same teachings and visions of God. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The martyrdom legend followed upon the misinformation contained in the Book of Acts. In Acts, the argument between Cephas and Paul at Antioch was amicably resolved, but if that is true, then why did the Ebionites consider Paul an apostate from the law? In addition, Paul supposedly went to meet Caesar in Rome in 60-62 CE. In reality Paul met Nero in 67 CE at Achaia (modern-day Greece). The martyrdom legend simply built upon the faulty history of Acts.

The agenda for the legend is clear: Make the apostles agree in all things and present a uniform history of the early church. This legend also brought the working lives of Peter and Paul together. If they were willing to die together, they also were willing to work together. Noted scholars such as the late Hyam Maccoby (The Mythmaker) and, more recently, Barrie Wilson (How Jesus Became Christian) argue that Paul and James represented totally different gospels. (Cephas/Peter followed strict Torah observance.) Much of the evidence for this separation comes from Paul’s own letters and from the Book of Acts. The unity of Peter and Paul in life was as much a foundation legend as their unity in death.

Meet the Author

Daniel T. Unterbrink is the author of Judas the Galilean, New Testament Lies, and The Three Messiahs. A retired forensic auditor, he has turned his analytical prowess to the historical origins of Christianity. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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Judas of Nazareth: How the Greatest Teacher of First-Century Israel Was Replaced by a Literary Creation 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Newconnexion More than 1 year ago
Closer to the truth than ever before What if Jesus of the Bible is really a composite character, a blend of several anti-Roman movement leaders of the time? Retired forensic auditor Daniel T. Unterbrink approaches this question like the trained investigator he is. Using his considerable analytical skills, he challenges the historical origins of Christianity. Using data gathered from historical writings and analysis of a myriad of Jewish political-religious movements, he theorizes that Jesus never existed as one man. Instead, he is a literary composite of figures who led several anti-Roman movements. What we think we know about Jesus is from sources who never met him in person and fictional stories created by Paul of Tarsus. Judas of Nazareth is a good read for anyone who loves both history and mystery. Unterbrink examines what is the known history of the time, confirmed writings and anecdotal evidence of disagreements between Paul, Peter and James over the tenets of the "fledgling gentile religion." This book is a statistically detailed approach to a question that may never be answered. But perhaps Unterbrink has come closer to the truth than ever before. -- Marilyn Ellis, New Connexion Journal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a Christian, I find Judas of Nazareth a fascinating and compelling must read. It is amazing to me that historians and theologians have not already documented the facts found in this book. It seems that every Time, U.S. News and World Report etc. that we pick up now-a-days discusses something about Christianity, yet the claim that Jesus was just a title for Judas the Galilean has never been mentioned. After all, the Jewish historian Josephus never mentioned Jesus Christ, the greatest religious leader of the time, but emphasized the actions of Judas the Galilean. It doesn’t seem so far-fetched that the name Jesus was the Messianic title for Judas, especially since their actions mirror each other from the Temple cleansings to the fact that Judas had a new philosophy and Jesus had a new religion. It is mind-boggling how the story-lines fit together perfectly when we put the New Testament into the time period of Judas the Galilean. I have been deeply troubled by the traditional Pauline Christianity of today, emphasizing that “faith” alone will save you, not accounting for one’s good deeds. Somehow the teachings of God have been taken out of the equation. Judas of Nazareth argues that Judas the Galilean and Jesus are one and the same, and that Jewish Christianity thrived during the ministry of Judas the Galilean and beyond (4 BC to 70 AD). Thus, according to Unterbrink, Jewish Christianity differed greatly from Paul’s Gentile Christianity. In fact, Paul hated James and Peter. Paul actually met with Nero three years after he slaughtered the Jewish Christians after the Great Fire of Rome (64 AD). Unterbrink also meticulously details the conflicts between Paul and James, claiming that the Jewish Jesus Movement attached the labels “Liar,” “Enemy,” and “Traitor” to Paul. Judas of Nazareth invites skepticism, challenging theologians, historians, clergy, ministers, and lay people to question the hypothesis put forth that the Gospel Jesus Christ was a literary creation of Paul that replaced the historical Judas the Galilean. Sandy Young, Retired Spanish Teacher, Ohio
SuperPeter More than 1 year ago
"Dan Unterbrink’s Judas of Nazareth is a relentless and unapologetic interrogation into who Jesus was and, as a consequence, who he was not. Brilliantly vetting a veritable ocean of ancient historical documents/sources, Unterbrink comes to two revolutionary conclusions: 1) that the Gospels, our hitherto chief source of information of the historical Jesus, were in fact theological-political manifestos largely influenced - if not actually penned - by Paul of Tarsus and 2) that our hitherto image of Jesus as a reactionary "Prince of Peace" with an otherworldly agenda is but a pale gloss on someone far more real and exciting, an actual human being fighting for his vision of the Kingdom of God in the midst of a brutal Roman occupation. Ultimately, Unterbrink’s work sets the stage for a much needed shift in the study of early Christianity, away from the uncritical use of Gospel materials towards an investigation into the underlying ideological framework that shapes the documents the Church chose to canonize. For me, what Unterbrink has done is truly ‘good news’."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Back in 2004, I read Daniel Unterbrink’s provocative book entitled, Judas the Galilean: The Flesh and Blood Jesus. In this book, Unterbrink presented a compelling and logical argument that the Gospel Jesus was really a rewrite of the Jewish revolutionary, Judas the Galilean. He supported his thesis with data from the Jewish historian Josephus, as well as the writings of the Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitu
cifra More than 1 year ago
Daniel Unterbrink has written another masterpiece. This book “Judas of Nazareth” deals with a lot of the same material to be found in one of his earlier works, “Judas the Galilean.” This book contains three parts, a conclusion, and four appendices. Part I is about the life and times of Judas the Galilean and Jesus of Nazareth; and, the history of the “Fourth Philosophy,” a religion of the first-century that can be identified with early Christianity. Following is a chapter on primary text references to Jesus as found in Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny and Josephus. Some of these sources suggest that, what might be considered as, an early Jewish Jesus movement existed, but this movement was fully Jewish and unlike present day Christianity. Part II discusses Paul and designates him as an Apostle to the gentiles. This part also compares the Teachings of James and Paul in various things such as, for example, Faith and Deeds. In this part, there are also chapters on Paul’s family ties, like his relationship to King Agrippa. Finally, there is a discussion of what motivated Paul. Part III deals with what might be referred to as the creation of Jesus of Nazareth; and, also, the hand of Paul, indirectly at least, in the writing of the Gospels. This part also discusses the dependence of Acts on Josephus and can be looked at as a proof that Acts had to be written after the publication of the “Antiquities” in 93 CE. The Appendices have the following interesting titles. A: The Messianic Time Lines; B: John the Baptist; C: Pontius Pilate; D: The Slavonic Josephus. All in all, the book is very well written, well worth reading, and might be considered Daniel Unterbrink’s best.