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Discussion 13 to Meditation 38
The History of Jesus

by JT

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Billy:

None of your references provide evidence of the historical existence of Jesus. Every one of your references was written well after his death, some over 1900 years later. What the valid references do provide is evidence of the existence of Christians, and that is something quite different. There is no question that Christian communities existed in the middle of the first century, AD. But, that does not prove conclusively that Jesus actually existed, though it certainly supports the supposition. But it certainly does nothing to substantiate the extraordinary claims of Christianity. No more than the existence of Scientologists today supports the extraordinary claims of L. Ron Hubbard.

With respect to your references to the so-called Archko Volume and The Archaeological and the Historical Writings of the Sanhedrin and Talmuds of the Jews, you are referring to forged documentation from the late 19th century. These documents have absolutely no scholarly value in providing evidence of Christ. Here is what a Christian[1] source has to say about this forgery:

In 1879 a Boonville, Missouri minister,the Rev. W.D. Mahan, published a pamphlet entitled A Correct Transcript of Pilate's Court. In 1884, after the apparent successful distribution and wide spread popularity of the report, Mahan issued a new volume that contained an expanded version of this report along with eleven other such works, under the title, The Archaeological and the Historical Writings of the Sanhedrin and Talmuds of the Jews, Translated from the Ancient Parchments and Scrolls at Constantinople and the Vatican at Rome.

This volume has been reprinted many times under various titles, most often as The Archko Volume or Archko Library.

Mahan accompanied his original report with an account of how he came into possession of the work. In short, he says he obtained the copy through the help of a German scholar, Henry C. Whydaman, from Father Peter Freelinhusen, the chief guardian of the Vatican. Father Freelinhusen provided the Latin text for 35 darics. Whydaman's brother-in-law, C.C. Vantberger of New York, translated the volume. Mahan even includes a letter from Father Freelinhusen to Whydaman that certifies the accuracy and authenticity of the book.

Needless to say, the Vatican does not admit to having any book of this kind nor is there any record in the annals of the Vatican library of any such person as Father Peter Freelinhusen.

The Archko Volume was produced after the Rev. Mahan supposedly traveled to Rome and Constantinople to study the original sources for the life of Jesus. He was assisted by two great, but otherwise unknown scholars, Dr. Twyman of England and Dr. McIntosh of Scotland.

Dr. Goodspeed first wrote his book in the 1930s. It was possible at that time for him to interview people who know the Rev. Mahan to determine if the Reverend had ever traveled to Europe during this time period. The Rev. Mahan was absent from his home of Boonville for less than two months in the autumn of 1883 when he claimed that he was discovering and copying manuscripts in Rome and Constantinople. Given the time period, it is utterly improbable that the Reverend could do all this traveling and research in so short a time. According to the people that Dr. Goodspeed interviewed, the Rev. Mahan traveled no further than Rome, Illinois from which he dispatched his correspondence.

General Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur, was the American minister to Turkey in 1883. According to Wallace, No one connected with the American legation in Constantinople had any knowledge of a visit by Mahan, nor did any American missionaries at the time, neither did Zia Bey, who was in charge of the library of the mosque of St. Sophia, know of any Mahan or of any of the manuscripts that Mahan professed to have seen there.

Dr. Goodspeed does a great job of documenting many of the absurdities and errors in this "Volume". The most incredible and glaring of these is in the manuscript called "Eli's Story of the Magi". It appears that several pages of this story were copied verbatim from Ben Hur. One striking detail is the use of the word anuman. Eli's story reads, "Egypt is satisfied with her crocodiles and anuman, holding them in equal honor." Page 272 of Ben Hur has some lines that read:

"... Egypt was satisfied with her crocodiles and anu-
bis, the Persians were yet devoted to Ormuzd and Ahri-
man, holding them in equal honor ... "

The anuman word arose because a line was skipped when copying this sentence.

The Archko is Rev. Mahan's fabrication.

Footnote:

  1. Answers in Action