This article was originally just a paper, entitled “Was his Name Really Jesus?” initiated in 1990. However, it has since been merging more closely into a web page associated with this web site’s research on the Talmud of Jmmanuel (TJ). The question of whether “Jesus” was the prophet and teacher’s original name, or whether it had been “Immanuel,” stems from the appearance of the TJ document in 1978, of which I became aware in 1986. To avoid any confusion, we shall at times use “J” here to refer to the person who became known as “Jesus.”
A revised version in a more scholarly, pdf format is presented here.
Although students of the TJ realize that it contains many subjects and issues of greater importance than the man’s original name, to New Testament (NT) scholars it would be quite shocking—even sensational—if they had to conclude that his name had not been Jesus but had originally been Immanuel (spelled “Jmmanuel” in the TJ document).1 The article below presents the facts, extrapolations and deductions without dwelling upon the sensationalism of this and other aspects. We do not intentionally wish to deter scholars.
There are certain theological questions that demand careful consideration from a logical viewpoint, but which have not yet received this consideration because an unexpected answer would be theologically upsetting. As noted by E. P. Sanders, an essential task for biblical scholars to become engaged in is “the effort to free history and exegesis from the control of theology; that is, from being obligated to certain conclusions which are pre-determined by theological considerations.”2 The question posed in the title of this web page is one such issue.
As a corollary, we may add that one’s studies should also be free from the control of any scholastic consensus that may have fallaciously evolved out of very early theological commitment. Although academic consensuses may generally be correct, here and there they are bound to be wrong as long as so many outstanding NT questions remain unresolved. It is therefore in the best interests of NT inquiry that some small fraction, at least, of its scholarly literature derive from sources free from the pressures of theological control or scholastic consensuses, whether the pressures are subtle or evident. The following study is offered in this spirit.
There are several indications and clues that J’s name had been changed to “Jesus” from an original name of “Immanuel,” besides the emergence of the TJ. To piece them together into a coherent whole we must start with Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy and follow through until at least the time of Bishop Irenaeus near the end of the 2nd century CE.
Isaiah’s messianic prophecy. One dips back to the 8th century BCE to reach Isaiah’s time and his prophecy (Isa 7:14, RSV Bible):
Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.This is the primary and most specific Old Testament prophecy for a messiah. “Immanuel” was to be his name, according to the text, not just a characterization he would later receive. However as the pre-Christian centuries passed, we find no record that anyone named Immanuel came along, until we read in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus could be thought of as being Immanuel although he is said to have been given the name Jesus at birth (Mt 1:21-25). Plainly, the writer of Matthew thought of Jesus as being the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, even though it was actually a failed prophecy if the child had not been named Immanuel at birth. However, the writer of Matthew made it clear that the reader should believe J had been named Jesus at birth, not Immanuel. We shall keep this strange contradiction in mind.
Was “Immanuel” a name or a characterization? To replace the absence of scholarly questioning of this contradiction, there exists the inference that “Immanuel” was symbolic—a title or characterization, not an original name.3 This inference could carry some weight if the name or title “Immanuel” had been first bestowed upon J during or after his ministry. Then “Immanuel” could be called a characterization based upon J’s actions and teachings. However, if it had indeed been prophesied (as by Isaiah) that upon birth the special child, J, would be given the name Immanuel, then that would confirm it was intended to be a name, not a characterization supplied only later.
Further support for the name interpretation comes from the Qumran Great Isaiah Scroll, dated to around 125 BCE—by far the oldest known copy of Isaiah. In it, “Immanuel” is written as a single separate Hebrew word, which indicates it was intended as a name, and not written as two words: “Immanu El” as if to express it by the title “with-us God.” The next most ancient text of Isaiah is the Masoretic text, which dates much later, to 826 CE. In it, “Immanuel” at Isa 7:14 is written as the two words “Immanu El.” The comparison is shown below:
| Above, Isaiah 7:14 from the Masoretic text, upper, and from the Isaiah Scroll,|
lower. Words were separated by gaps in the actual writings.
From Jeff A. Benner video. Underlines have been added here
to “Immanu El” and “Immanuel,” respectively, above.
| Above two lines from the actual Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll contain Isaiah 7:14. |
From Fred Miller. “Immanuel” underlined in red here, “name” in blue.
|Above, English transliteration of the two Hebrew lines containing 7:14 from the Dead Sea Scroll, by Fred Miller.|
The much older reading of the Scroll (above) is to be preferred. In the Isaiah Scroll, each of its three mentions of “Immanuel” (Isa 7:14, 8:8, 8:10) occurs as a single word, unlike in the Masoretic text where all three are as two words, “Immanu El.” The Hebrew writing system of separating words by spaces (or by dots or vertical lines) dates way back to Isaiah’s time. A single name was written as one word, while a title often contained two or more separate words. Thus, Isaiah’s intent that “Immanuel” would be the name of the prophesied child seems to have been maintained down through the centuries to at least 125 BCE.
Early believers in J being Isaiah’s Immanuel. Besides the writer of Matthew having been one who believed J was the fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy, there is a definite probability that before him Paul also had. In his epistles Paul very frequently refers to Old Testament passages. In particular, in Rom 15:12 he quotes Isa 11:10, saying,
and further Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, he who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope.”
Here the prophecy about the root of Jesse could well refer to the same person prophesied within the preceding four chapters of Isaiah, starting with Isa 7:14, namely Immanuel, since the Immanuel prophecy was addressed to the House of David, and not to King Ahaz.4 However, most scholars believe the prophecy was just a short-term one to be fulfilled in Isaiah’s own time, because succeeding verses in Isa 7-8 refer to prophecies known to have been fulfilled in the time of King Ahaz or Hezekiah, and supposedly in the time of the prophesied messianic child also.5 Yet the absence of anyone of importance named Immanuel then or in the succeeding six centuries leaves the short-range-prophecy hypothesis unconvincing.
Now the fact that Paul knew of Isaiah’s messianic prophecies, but did not quote from Isa 7:14 about Immanuel nor even mention Immanuel in any epistle, might cause one to assume he thought as do many modern scholars, that the Immanuel prophecy applied only to the distant past, the 8th century BCE. The root-of-Jesse messiah (Isa 11:1) might then be thought of as applying to someone other than Immanuel in the indefinite future, as there is no mention of Immanuel in the rest of Isaiah. If so, however, how does one then account for later followers of Pauline Christianity, who were fully knowledgeable of Isaiah, believing that Immanuel was both the Messiah and the root of Jesse? Not only the writer of Matthew, but Justin Martyr and Irenaeus believed that Christ was the fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy and was the same person as the root of Jesse in Isa 11:1,10.6 So can we assume that Paul didn’t believe likewise? This question will be answered later, along with our reason why the name “Immanuel” was used so sparingly before 200 CE.
John the Baptist can probably also be included as one who, from oral tradition, accepted that J was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s long-range messianic prophecy. His question, “Are you he who is to come?” (Mt 11:3), indicates this, and J’s reply about his healings of the blind, the deaf, and the lame, evidently in fulfillment of Isa 35:5-6, indicates that Isaiah was the prophetic source in mind. And if J’s name had been Immanuel, John would certainly have been convinced!
Our resolution of the short-term versus long-term problem. The present solution to this problem takes account of human nature as well as the above facts. It starts with Isaiah’s prophecies about Immanuel and how he would be glorified by gentiles (Galilee of the nations—Isa 9:1) and even regarded as Mighty God (Isa 9:6). And if Immanuel were also thought to be the “shoot from the stump of Jesse,” the gentiles would be seeking after him (Isa 11:1,10). We assume that Isaiah made these prophecies, and more, known to the people of his time, and thereafter they were passed on as oral tradition.
On the negative side, certain priests and custodians of the sacred literature must be assumed then to have made alterations in Isaiah’s writings that would discredit any long-range Immanuel prophecies so that the gentiles would not be seen as receiving so much favor, and the God of Israel would not be eclipsed by a new Mighty God. The alterations accomplished this by insertions indicating that Immanuel had already come and gone in the 8th century BCE (in particular, Isa 7:15-16), while at the same time the essence of the oral tradition was upheld. The priests had little or no control over the oral tradition itself, and dared not simply wipe out its essence from Isaiah’s writings. These particular redactions were probably made in the late 7th century BCE, or soon after Isaiah’s death. This is not to imply that other redactions were not also made at this time and later. Thus the undesired prophecies associated with Immanuel, in Isa 7-11, would be of no concern to those who interpreted the Scriptures literally.
The idea is not at all new that the Book of Isaiah contains many redactions.7 But it is understandable if most biblical scholars prefer to think that the Immanuel prophecy was just a short-range prediction, and ignore the above facts and arguments to the contrary; no mechanism that would explain a successful, explicit prophecy centuries into the future is known to science.
We briefly return to the Gospel of Matthew and restate the primary clue coming from it. It is totally implausible that at birth J would have been given two names at once: Jesus and Immanuel. We may then ask why the compiler of Matthew would have inserted a verse instructing Joseph to name his stepson Jesus if, two verses later, he included an original passage (quoting Isaiah) saying that his name would be Immanuel. The most straightforward explanation is that this compiler was aware that J’s name had actually been Immanuel, but that that name had been supplanted by the name Jesus for many years or decades before he wrote Matthew, for reasons yet to be set forth. The reader must already be aware, however, that if internal evidence analyzed in this web site is taken into consideration, the writer of Matthew was utilizing the TJ in forming his gospel.8 He thus would obviously have known from the TJ that J’s name had once been “Immanuel,” written as “Jmmanuel” in his source. This provides the most obvious explanation of how the writer of Matthew was aware of this fact, if he had not already known it from suppressed traditions. However, we shall keep in mind the paradox that he at the same time insisted upon calling him “Jesus.”
This conclusion can further be restated as follows. If J’s name had not been Immanuel within the source document for Matthew, there would have been no point in its writer bothering to try to make the case that J was the messiah prophesied by Isaiah. That is, anyone could claim that some person had been born of a maiden or virgin—that in itself would carry no evidential weight. Only if the person had also been correctly named Immanuel, as foretold, could the birth of a baby boy so named have gained attention. Yet, if J’s name had been known as “Jesus” for some decades before Matthew was writtern,9 as found here, its compiler would have felt obliged to alter J’s name from Immanuel in his source to Jesus in his gospel.
There is a minor clue that is consistent with the writer of Matthew having tampered with his source document concerning J’s name. Mt 1:25b states that J was given the name Jesus at birth. We note that 1:25a contains information the compiler could not have had any access to, namely that Joseph did not “know” Mary until after J’s birth. This would have been private information unavailable to anyone besides Joseph and Mary. The verse furthermore continues the theme of Joseph’s righteousness, which NT scholar Charles Davis found to be excessive and therefore inauthentic within Mt 1:19.10 With 1:25a being a redaction, we must suspect its connected clause, 1:25b, to be inauthentic also, especially since it belabors the point that J’s name had been designated “Jesus” after this was already indicated in Mt 1:16, 1:18 and 1:21.
Two epistles shed light on the matter. Phil 2:8-9 states:
And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name
It need not be thought that Paul was careless here and let slip the information that after the crucifixion there had been a name change (havingf a most glorious name bestowed upon him then). At that time, in the early 50s, everyone knew that the man's name was Immanuel and that Paul was insisting he be called Jesus the Christ instead. The name "Immanuel" was no longer to be mentioned because this was the name that Immanuel's supporters, Pauls' key opponents,was still promoting.
Similarly, Heb 1:3-4 mentions the same occurrence:
...When he (God’s Son) had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.
Again, at some stage J is said to have obtained a really excellent name. That name must of course be the orthodox one “Jesus Christ,” whereas before the crucifixion it is indicated to have been something different—could it have been “Immanuel”? Although it might be argued that going from “Jesus” to “Jesus Christ” was the intended name change here, that seems unlikely, as “Christ” is just a title added to the same name. Moreover, in the Gospel of Matthew “Christ” is referred to some 14 times before the crucifixion, in a contemporary sense indicating that the qualifier “Christ” was to be considered part of his title at all stages of his life, not just after he emerged from the tomb.
Clement of Rome, in 1 Clement 36, quotes Heb 1:4, in his epistle to the Corinthians which extolls the glory and name of Jesus.
It is not too surprising that a few traces of the name change were left behind, unnoticed, within the canonical books of the NT. We should expect more to hasve survived within non-canonical writings that managed to survive.
In the writing of Justin Martyr,11 he says this:
So also in Zechariah, Christ Jesus, the true High Priest of the Father, in the person of Joshua, nay, in the very mystery of His name, is portrayed in a twofold dress with reference to both His advents. At first He is clad in sordid garments, that is to say, in the lowliness of suffering and mortal flesh: then the devil resisted Him, as the instigator of the traitor Judas, not to mention his tempting Him after His baptism: afterwards He was stripped of His first filthy raiment, and adorned with the priestly robe and mitre, and a pure diadem.So why was there a mystery in his name? Was it a mystery that he was supplied with the same name as Joshua of the Old Testament? Or did some tradition persist to at least mid-2nd century that his name had originally been something different (i.e. Immanuel), which name for some “mysterious” reason was not supposed to be uttered? Was he stripped of his earlier not-to-be-spoken name (Immanuel), which was to be shunned like a filthy, sordid garment, and then adorned with the post-crucifixion name “Jesus Christ”?
There are several gnostic writings that also support this name-change hypothesis.
One is verse 9.5 from the Ascension of Isaiah (150-200 CE) :
...and he who gave permission [for Isaiah to ascend to the seventh heaven] is thy Lord, God, the Lord Christ, who will be called Jesus on earth, but his name thou canst not hear till thou hast ascended out of thy body.
Similarly relevant from Act 13.163 of the Acts of Thomas (200-225 CE) is:
And Misdaus said [to Judas-Thomas]: “What is his [your master’s] name?” Judas said: “Thou canst not hear his true name at this time... but the name which was bestowed upon him for a season is Jesus, the Christ.”
Another is found in the Gospel of Philip, 10-11 (150-300 CE), Wesley Isenberg’s translation:
Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect… One single name is not uttered in the world, the name which the father gave to the son; it is the name above all things: the name of the father. For the son would not become father unless he wore the name of the father. Those who have this name know it, but they do not speak it. But those who do not have it do not know it.The most important enigmatic portion, “the name which the father gave to the son, it is…the name of the father,” has an easy interpretation here. The father is “God,” and “Immanuel” being “God with us” is basically the same, namely El or God. Hence the father gave the son the essence of his own name: Immanuel, which was not to be uttered. The penultimate sentence above makes sense if “Those who have this name” is interpreted as “Those who are aware of this name,” which is Immanuel. The last sentence makes sense if it has an extended meaning of: “those who are not aware of this name never heard of it because it has not been uttered for such a long time.”
Hence there is some external evidence, previously unexplained, of “Jesus Christ” having had a different name that was not supposed to be uttered, of this name suppression extending even into the 3rd century, and, enigmatically, of this name being Immanuel.
Let us now look into the Testament of Solomon, with thanks to RJ of the University of California for bringing it to my attention as well as the Gospel of Philip verses. As noted in this webpage, its “text is an Old Testament Pseudepigraphic catalog of demons summoned by King Solomon, and how they can be countered by invoking angels and other magical techniques. It is one of the oldest magical texts attributed to King Solomon, dating First to Third Century A.D. Translation is by F. C. Conybeare.” What is known about its provenance and historical background may be found here.12 The story or novella contains no christology.
The first of three revealing passages is:
29. I [Solomon] said to him [a demon called Ephippas]: “Tell me by what angel thou art frustrated.” And he answered: “By the holy and precious name of the Almighty God, called by the Hebrews by a row of numbers, of which the sum is 644, and among the Greeks it is Emmanuel.”
We shall soon discuss this disclosure of “Emmanuel.” For now we just notice that only in Greek do the number designations of the letters in “Emmanuel” sum to 644, as noted by the translator.13
52. So I [Solomon] said to him [another demon]: “I adjure thee in the name of the God Sabaoth, to tell me by what name thou art frustrated along with thy host.” And the spirit answered me: “The ‘great among men,’ who is to suffer many things at the hands of men, whose name is the figure 644, which is Emmanuel; he it is who has bound us, and who will then come and plunge us from the steep under water. He is noised abroad in the three letters which bring him down.”
Even if the name weren’t spelled out, it is evident that the “great among men” is Emmanuel alias Jesus, who was to suffer from scourging and crucifixion, and who at Gadara had sent the demons into the swine, which then plunged down the steep and drowned in the sea (Mt 8:32). The name-number designation in this case can also be expressed by chi+mu+delta (600 + 40 + 4) or χμδ, the three letters to be called upon to bring Emmanuel down from heaven.
A little further into the story, we find this:
65. “... And then we [demons] shall go forth in great power hither and thither, and be disseminated all over the world. And we shall lead astray the inhabited world for a long season, until the Son of God is stretched upon the cross. For never before doth arise a king like unto him, one frustrating us all, whose mother shall not have contact with man. Who else can receive such authority over spirits, except he, whom the first devil will seek to tempt, but will not prevail over? The number of his name is 644, which is Emmanuel. Wherefore, O King Solomon, thy time is evil, and thy years short and evil, and to thy servant shall thy kingdom be given.”
66. And I Solomon, having heard this, glorified God. And though I marvelled at the apology of the demons, I did not credit it until it came true. And I did not believe their words; but when they were realized, then I understood, and at my death I wrote this Testament to the children of Israel, and gave it to them, so that they might know the powers of the demons and their shapes, and the names of their angels, by which these angels are frustrated. And I glorified the Lord God of Israel, and commanded the spirits to be bound with bonds indissoluble.
Again it is apparent who this great frustrator of the demons is. But except for his name having been immediately expressed, his true name of Emmanuel would remain a mystery unless one could figure out whose name would contain the proper choices and number of Greek letters whose numeric values sum exactly to 644.
After some thought, it should become evident that a primary intention of the author of this story was to extol J while keeping his actual, mysterious name a secret to be deduced only by those most knowledgeable and who could accept the fact. To achieve this goal, he needed to avoid mention of the name, so that his story could survive purging by the custodians of the literature, while at the same time convey the name in some secret form, which a demon might be thought to employ. This means that the “which is Emmanuel” type clauses were inserted by some later redactor who wished to eliminate the secret. Otherwise, if it had been the author himself who had supplied the “Emmanuel” identifications, there would have been no reason at all for his having first expressed the name enigmatically as 644. No reason at all. It was probably at some much later time, after the tradition of “Emmanuel” being taboo was practically forgotten, that this redactor defused the mystery in the name by exposing it directly in no uncertain terms.14 In his first addition into Sec.29 above, however, this redactor seems to have erred a bit, when altering a sentence whose sense had been, “...called by the Hebrews by a row of numbers, of which the sum is 644 among the Greeks,” into the one translated as, “...called by the Hebrews by a row of numbers, of which the sum is 644, and among the Greeks it is Emmanuel.” The Hebrew alphabet has its own letter-number designations, in which the numeric total for “Immanuel,” i.e. עמנןאל, is quite different.
We date the story to some time between about 125-250 CE,15 while the particular redactor involved may not have made his brief additions until years, decades or even centuries later.
In summary, the redactor’s method of rendering harmless the old taboo against the name Immanuel came at a price: Illogic crept in, which all but confirms that a long-lasting taboo against the name had once existed.
It should be evident that there is no candidate other than Paul to have supplied the new name for Immanuel. Paul’s primary role in shaping or forming Christianity is well known.16 That Paul was the first to expound early Christian theology on “being saved” through the sacrifice of God’s Son is also evident.17 His background as a Pharisee (Phil 3:4-5, Acts 23:6, 26:5) and an assiduous student of Judaism (Gal 1:13-14) indicates he would have been acquainted with the concept of offering human sacrifice in hopes of deliverance (2 Kgs 3:27). Thus he would have had the motivation to change Immanuel’s name to “Jesus” (or Joshua or Yeshua/Yahushua with meaning “Yahweh/God saves”) in support of his theology. Since Paul changed his own name from Saul to Paul, we know that he was not averse to altering a name. The name Joshua or its Greek equivalent of Jesus was of course already well known to Paul, and though it was not a rare name, through frequent attachment of the suffix “Christ” or prefix “Lord,” Paul could ensure that the intended man was understood.
Renaming him from Immanuel to Jesus would link his name to the more contemporary expression for the Divine Name: Yahweh (LORD), which name came to predominate over El or Elohim (God) in the biblical tradition.18 From Exodus 6:2-3 one sees an example of the name Yahweh taking over from El, and similarly in Jer 32:38. Hence this consideration may have contributed to Paul’s renaming of Immanuel to “Yeshua the Messiah” or “Jesus the Christ.”
However, a prime motivation for Paul to have altered Immanuel’s name quickly comes to mind. After Saul’s conversion, there should be no doubt that he would have wished to minimize in his thoughts the name of the man he must have hated with a passion in order to have been the arch persecutor of Immanuel and his disciples.19 Thus in speaking or writing of “Jesus,” or “Jesus Christ,” Paul would have a new image to dwell upon, not his previous image of the detested Immanuel. In propagating his message of forgiveness of sins through faith in a resurrected Jesus Christ, Paul would then speak only of Jesus, and avoid mention of Immanuel if possible.
Consistent with this is Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7), which detailed study has suggested may refer to an “opponent” or “opponents” rather than to any physical ailment.20 The chief opponent would then have been Immanuel himself. By altering Immanuel’s name to “Jesus the Christ,” the post-conversion Paul could more readily keep this “thorn” from piercing into his memory every time he prayed to his Savior. Thus the salvation aspect of the name “Jesus” would well suit Paul’s need to pray for forgiveness for his terrible past sins of persecution.
This, then, can go a long way toward explaining why Paul, in referring to Isaiah in his epistles, never mentioned “Immanuel” or Isaiah’s prophecy of Immanuel, though in mentioning the root of Jesse as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, he came close. However, still another reason exists to help explain not only this, but why, for nearly a century after Paul’s evangelizing, the name Immanuel and Isaiah’s prophecy of him were taboo topics. The supporters of Immanuel had to be silenced, which meant silencing the name they venerated.
Opponents to the change in name and message. Surely strong opposition to the name change must have been encountered from most of those who had known Immanuel, including from some of the disciples, especially Peter.21 By what argumentation could Paul have convinced others to listen to him and not to his opponents such as Peter? We must first look into this question in some detail, and from a realistic viewpoint.
After the crucifixion, Immanuel had most certainly revealed himself to his brother James (Paul acknowledges this: 1 Cor 15:7) and other family members, as well as to his disciples. They must have been pretty well convinced that he was alive as before and not in a strange resurrected state as Paul and the Gospel writers would later insist.22 They accepted, at least tentatively, what they had seen with their own eyes: Immanuel had miraculously survived the crucifixion. Hence, for persons closest to him, Immanuel was still the same prophet, healer and wisdom teacher they had known the previous year or more, who had somehow survived.23 They were the Immanuel believers, or Immanuelites as we shall call them.24 But according to the TJ, they had been warned by Immanuel to keep his survival a secret, which they probably did to varying degrees for only a few years at most. Obviously Immanuel would not have wanted news of his survival to leak too soon to the Jewish clergy or Roman authorities, lest they believe it, and then have him be sought out and brought back to Jerusalem to undergo a second crucifixion, which would be fatal.
At first when some of the disciples and James did eventually speak out, we suspect that few would believe them. All others who had heard of Immanuel “knew” that he had died, except for a growing minority of doubters who became aware of the spreading rumor of his appearances or survival. These open-minded ones began to meet together in small groups, initiating the earliest churches. By the time Paul appeared on the scene in the late 40s, and for years afterwards, these people had to choose between the Immanuelites’ views and Paul’s gospel of a resurrected Jesus Christ. Paul’s powers of persuasion evidently enabled him to lay the groundwork for his oral gospel eventually to win out, but one must speculate a bit on just what argumentation he used in promoting his gospel.
This much is certain: In the course of his travels Paul needed to marginalize the Immanuelites— they were among those who were preaching “a different gospel” (Gal 1:6-9), which must have emphasized their awareness that Immanuel had survived the crucifixion, and had never wanted to be worshipped or treated as divine. If accepted, their views would destroy Paul’s own gospel, which demanded that J had died on the cross (1 Cor 15:3-4), and had subsequently been raised in a resurrected state (1 Cor 15:4-19) as the Son of God. So it was imperative to Paul that he work on this goal of suppressing the Immanuelites as well as the goal of proselytizing the gentiles.
As already implied, Immanuel’s brother James of Jerusalem must have been one of the Immanuelites.25 When Paul was in Antioch he accused Peter along with other Jews of acting insincerely and being “not straightforward about the truth of the gospel” (Gal 2:11-14). This occurred when certain men from James—from his church in Jerusalem—arrived in Antioch, whereupon Peter withdrew from the presence of Paul and apparently joined the men from James as well as joining with other Jews present there in Antioch. So Paul accused the latter and Peter of insincerity and of not following his own gospel. This interpretation is consistent with Peter having shared the views of the Immanuelites with the other Jews present, though it may be clouded by the issue of circumcision, which intervenes in an ambiguous manner.26
The realization that both Peter and James, the half-brother of Immanuel, were Immanuelites allows us to make better sense of another ambiguous passage in Galatians (1:18-20; 2:1):
Then after three years [after the crucifixion] I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!).... Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas...
The most prevalent explanation for Paul’s parenthetical sentence is that he wanted it known that his gospel of Jesus Christ came straight from God, not from “flesh and blood” (Gal 1:16b); therefore he did not confer with the other apostles. Here, however, we suspect that James was the most outspoken of the Immanuelites, having probably spent the most time with Immanuel (who must have remained incognito, hidden or veiled following the crucifixion until eventually traveling east). During the preceding fourteen years some of the Galatians would have heard of Immanuel’s survival from James or others, as well as hearing of Paul and his gospel message. They would know that besides Peter, James especially was an opponent of Paul. Hence they would be surprised to learn that Paul had visited his principal opponents-to-be extensively; and he really had! He was not just making it up, but had actually challenged them. It makes no sense to reason that Paul’s “I do not lie!” remark was meant to emphasize he did not confer with the apostles when he admitted he did confer with the primary two apostles who were “pillars” of the church. And it would make little sense to suppose that Paul was concerned that his having conferred with them might be regarded as a contradiction to his earlier remark of not having conferred with flesh and blood (Gal 1:16b-17), since that remark applied only to the relatively short period of time after his conversion when he went to Arabia then Damascus before going to Jerusalem.
Without usually pointing out James and other Immanuelites by name, in his proselytizing Paul could nevertheless denounce them as mistaken, silly or confused, and even accursed (Gal 1:6-9). If Immanuel had survived, where was he? Why can’t we meet with him? And a resurrected person should be spending most of his time with God the Father, it could be argued, and only occasionally make an appearance of his own choosing in the physical world, like what had seemed to happen.27 Also, the popular belief that Immanuel had indeed died was strong.28 Moreover, around 62 CE James was executed by stoning according to Josephus,29 quite likely because the brash new chief priest, Ananus the Younger, was a Sadducee who, along with his father, could not have liked the claim promulgated that Immanuel had survived the crucifixion and foiled the desires of the Sanhedrin 30 years previously. James’s execution must then have had a chilling effect upon the Immanuelites. So as the number of gentile converts grew, the Immanuelites became a smaller and smaller minority within the churches. They gradually dared less and less often to speak out their “silly” views on Immanuel’s survival—it just generated unnecessary dissension within the churches as well as being personally dangerous. Paul’s tireless evangelizing and persuasive letter writing had laid too strong a groundwork for the Immanuelites to overcome.
We realize that much has previously been postulated about Paul’s opponents.30 Although such studies have been helpful in many respects, they are basically flawed in two ways: (a) none consider the possibility that J survived the crucifixion, which sheds a whole new light on the situation,31 and (b) none are aware that his name had been Immanuel, which name, as we shall see, had to be avoided or silenced for a long time after Paul’s views prevailed. Because of (a) it was not realized that James and Peter themselves, and the disciple John at least, were Gnostics of a kind, and not Jewish Christians.32 Because of (b) it was not realized why there has been no surviving written response by some Gnostic opposing Paul.
The present solution allows that Paul had opponents on two fronts: the Immanuelites, and the Jewish Christians whose most radical element were Judaizers. Of these two, the Immanuelites must have been by far the most serious threat, as their gospel could destroy Paul’s gospel, while Paul neither advocated circumcision nor uncircumcision (Gal 6:15). Paul could easily discuss problems with circumcision and the Law, but could not specifically discuss the gnostic Immanuelites lest he draw attention to their cause.
“Jesus” displaces “Immanuel” in earliest Christianity. Occasional writings that debated whether or not Immanuel had died, and which either supported the Immanuelites or supported Paul and his gospel, must have cropped up from the 40s on for several decades. It took a half century before Paul’s views fully won out over the Immanuelites, as gauged by the first appearance around 95 CE (1 Clement) of a christological writing that (repeatedly) mentioned Jesus, while of course not mentioning Immanuel. And as mentioned earlier, 1 Clement did quote from the name-change verse of Heb 1:4, as if to justify the repeated use of "Jesus" and the total taboo against the name "Immanuel."
Some 15 years later Ignatius of Antioch similarly used the "Jesus" christology despite the existence of lingering "evil" heretics who apparently still disputed the name "Jesus." This is suggested in Chap. 7 of his Epistle to the Ephesians:
For some are wont of malicious guile to hawk about the Name, while they do certain other things unworthy of God. These men ye ought to shun, as wild beasts; for they are mad dogs, biting by stealth; against whom ye ought to be on your guard, for they are hard to heal. [Thanslation by J.B. Lightfoot]
This chronology presumes that the first Gospel did not appear until still later, about 120 CE,33 after which time various verses from (Hebraic) Matthew were frequently alluded to, or quoted, by later Christians. During all this time and even later, the voices of the Immanuelites had to be silenced, along with the name of the man they venerated. Otherwise Pauline Christianity itself could not have survived.
Hence, sufficient time elapsed, between about 95 and 120 CE, for the name “Jesus” to become well established for use within early Christianity and the Gospels. However, well before this time the tradition would have spread within the churches that the name “Immanuel” was to be avoided, and any former or contemporary literature containing it was to be totally destroyed. Acceptance of Paul’s gospel, and the emerging Christianity, required nothing less. The four lost epistles of Paul may have been victims of this purging, had they contained too many mentions of Immanuel or his followers to edit out. As noted by Ehrman, “One of our greatest losses is a written response from one of them [Paul’s opponents]. But if any such reply was made, it has disappeared forever.”34 The Immanuelites had never been strong enough or cohesive enough to form an organization that could preserve any writings originating from among their supporters. Although there were various early “ordinary” Gnostics who shared some views with the Immanuelites, their writings did not fare much better.
We know no other scenario that can explain the dearth of 1st-century writings about Jesus (or Immanuel), outside of Paul’s epistles. This consequent scarcity of such writings about Jesus eventually led to the spawning of the hypothesis that Jesus did not exist, which presently is almost a respectable scholastic subject.35
But, one may ask,was there no other way that those who still remembered that his name had been Immanuel, not Jesus, and who valued truth, could express this view in writing without it being subject to destruction or suppression if the name "Immanuel" were mentioned? There does seem to have been one way, but a devious way. In their writings, they could avoid mention of the name "Jesus" to signify it wasn't the man's real name, and perhaps also in retaliation for being forced to avoid mention of "Immanuel." Bishop Papias (~130 C.E.) may have been the one to initiate this practice for the non-orthodox. Instead of using "Jesus" he called him anything else respectful, namely "Savior," "Lord," "the Son" and "Christ." Others could then follow suit, especially Gnostics and other writers of apocrypha who knew the true oral tradition. Some 44 2nd- and 3rd-century writings have been identified in which this practice appears to have been followed.35.5
The taboo against mention of “Immanuel” was briefly lifted by Justin Martyr around 145 CE,36 in the same manner as it had been in the Gospel of Matthew. Had there been no such taboo, we would expect that early Christian writings would have proliferated in the latter half of the 1st century and throughout the second, celebrating the fact that Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy had been fulfilled. Although Justin twice quoted from Isa 7:14 and thereby mentioned “Immanuel,” he said nothing about why the “Immanuel” part of the quotation should be considered to have been fulfilled in the figure of “Jesus.” Instead, he more safely argued why the “born of a virgin” (not “young woman”) phrase was fulfilled in Jesus. The Matthean contradiction regarding the Messiah’s name was not addressed. The mention of "Immanuel" through reference to Isaiah's Immanuel prophecy became the one rare exception to the taboo against its mention—if necessary, with its meaning of “with-us God,” it could be illogically argued that Isaiah's messianic prophecy had been fulfilled upon regarding Jesus as God.
Another forty years passed before “Immanuel” again appeared in the literature, this time through Irenaeus.37 In his section III.21.4 he spent more space on vindicating the belief that Christ was the fulfillment of Isa 7:14 than did Justin, but appears to have followed Justin’s lead in dwelling almost entirely upon its “virgin” aspect and not the “Immanuel” versus “Jesus” contradiction. The closest Irenaeus comes to connecting the Emmanuel prophecy with the name “Jesus” appears to be in inferring from the name “Emmanuel” that J was God, and from there inferring that J could save men from their sins, and then leaving it to the reader to further infer that his name could thus be “Yeshua” or “Jesus” as well as Emmanuel. Hence Irenaeus did not resolve the Matthean contradiction either. In fact he strengthened it by speaking of “Emmanuel born of the virgin,” and by three times speaking of Emmanuel as a name (in III.21.4), not a characterization or title.
It would appear that by about mid-3rd century virtually all traces and memories of Jesus having originally been Emmanuel by name had been lost or wiped out within early Christianity. Some time around 230-250 Origen wrote his homilies, some of which were about Isaiah and one being on Isa 7:14. From what we know of this homily, as stemming from Eusebius over a half century later, different interpretations of the meaning of the prophecy were set forth and debated just as done today,38 with no suggestion that J's name might have been Emmanuel from the start. However, we cannot be certain that in his extensive library Eusebius didn't possess writings still extant that addressed some aspect of the coverup, which he would not have chosen to reveal or perpetuate.
The Jewish taboo against “Immanuel.” The Jewish clergy appears to have independently aided early Christianity in this endeavor to alter history. From the crucifixion on, they would not have wished the utterly blasphemous teachings of Immanuel to be remembered or spread,39 and would detest that name at least as much as Paul had. They would also have been reluctant toward writing down anything about “Jesus” for many decades following the crucifixion, knowing that “Jesus” had not been his name and did not represent any savior figure that they would ever worship. As a result, along with the lack of acceptance of Immanuel as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy by Pharisees, Sadducees, and Jewish clergy, the latter would have still less to say about Immanuel than about Jesus. They did not even leave writings behind that would indicate they had pondered or debated the possibility of fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
Even as late as the 4th century CE there is no known Jewish mention of Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy. However, from the Talmudic Tractate Pesachim 54a, which probably dates to the Mishnah and its early 3rd-century oral tradition, there is this much:
Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the messiah... The name of the messiah, as it is written, His name shall endure forever, and has existed before the sun!Despite the importance of this Messiah, his name is kept secret. Later, in the Jerusalem or Babylonian Talmud (4th century and later), there is much discussion of over a dozen names of various messiahs, none of them being Immanuel. Thus any mention of “Immanuel” was avoided, and within Judaism the name has been lost in the crowd. Still later with the appearance of the Masoretic text of Isaiah, we see that its writing of the messiah as “Immanu El” or “with-us God” each of the three times rather than as the one-word name “Immanuel” each time (as in the Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll) is consistent with the Immanuel taboo having been initiated in mid-1st century and persisting for centuries within Judaism.
In addition to the Jewish clergy’s avoidance of the name “Immanuel,” it probably took a couple centuries longer than it should have before they utilized the word “talmud,” due to its occurrence in the Talmud of Jmmanuel title.40 When the TJ first appeared on the scene circa 115 CE it probably became known to a select few Jewish clergy in the course of its initial limited circulation and subsequent use by the writer of Matthew, plus peripheral use by the writers of Luke and John. Thus a certain few knew of its devastating heresies that would require its subsequent destruction. Thereby a double taboo against mention of the Talmud of Immanuel became entrenched within Mishnaic and early Talmudic Judaism as well as within early Christianity, due to the TJ’s heretical contents and forbidden name “Immanuel” both.
Precedents. There is an Old Testament precedent for a name change of this nature—one for which the changed name is mentioned 220 times. The reference is to Joshua, who had originally been given the name “Hoshea” until renamed “Joshua” by Moses or by the writer of this portion of the Old Testament: see Num 13:16. Except for this verse, we would not know that the name change had been effected. The new name was apparently bestowed upon Hoshea, son of Nun, to honor him for his role in the decisive victory over Amalek’s people (Ex 17:8-15). It signified that Joshua’s leadership had saved the Jews through the help provided by Yahweh’s magic rod.
The best known precedent for purposeful Christian concealment of undesired information and literature is probably represented by the Gnostic Gospels.41 During the second century some of the gnostic writers evidently learned that if their writings were to stand a chance of surviving, they needed to avoid mention of the name Immanuel.
A precedent for a Jewish tendency to wipe out undesired names from their holy writings occurs in 1 Enoch, Chap. 105:
21Another book, which Enoch wrote for his son Mathusala, and for those who should come after him, and preserve their purity of conduct in the latter days. You, who have laboured, shall wait in those days, until the evil doers be consumed, and the power of the guilty be annihilated. Wait, until sin pass away; for their names shall be blotted out of the holy books; their seed shall be destroyed, and their spirits slain. They shall cry out and lament in the invisible waste, and in the bottomless fire shall they burn.
In conclusion, the centuries-old cover-up of “Immanuel” as having been J’s original name was sufficiently successful that few scholars even have any intimation of it. Fortunately, however, ample clues have been left behind to allow the truth to emerge if theological commitment and uncritical professional commitment are set aside.
1. In this spelling the symbol “J” is said to represent the “i,” “j,” and “y” sounds within an old language of the extraterrestrials who have been contacting “Billy” Eduard Meier since 1975, and who had earlier, in 1963, prompted him and a Palestinian friend into discovering the TJ document in Jerusalem. The spelling “Immanuel” stemming from the Hebrew is usually used herein for the prophet’s name, as the “Jmmanuel” version came later. However, sometimes the “Emmanuel” spelling is used when quoting from a Greek source translated into English.
2. E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), 333-334. This also means one should not allow fear of offending theologically committed colleagues, editors or book publishers deter one from exposing apparent truths.
3. E.g., see John Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 88; Kermit Zarley, The Restitution of Jesus Christ (ebook: http://servetustheevangelical.com/buy_the_book_8.html, 2008), p. 263; Alfred Eldersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the messiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1953), p. 587. For online material see the article by Gregory S. Neal, or in Wikipedia.
4. As stated by Edward E. Hindson, “Isaiah’s Immanuel,” Faculty Publications and Presentations, (Grace Journal). Paper 147 (Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 1969) p.6:
It is also important to notice that the sign is directed to “you” (plural) and is not evidently directed to Ahaz who rejected the first offer. In v. 13, Isaiah had said: “Hear ye now, O house of David” and it is apparent that the plural “you” in v. 14, is to be connected to its antecedent “ye” in v. 13. Since the context tells us that the dynasty of David is what is at stake in the impending invasion, it would seem proper to interpret the plural “you” as the “house of David” which is the recipient of the sign. This being true, then, all objections to the relevancy of a messianic prediction to Ahaz’s contemporary situation are nullified. The prophet did not direct the sign merely to Ahaz and therefore, a strictly messianic interpretation of the sign is not out of the question.
5. See John Witmer, Immanuel: Jesus Christ, Cornerstone of Our Faith (Nashville, TN: Word Pub., 1998), p. 33; or Herbert M. Wolf, “A solution to the Immanuel prophecy in Isaiah 7:14-8:20,” J. Bibl. Lit. 91 (1972), pp. 449-456. Or see the online study by Allen Ross. According to Isa 7:16-17, before the Immanuel child had reached an age where he could choose good from evil, the two kings of Ephraim (Israel) and Syria, which were enemies of Judah under King Ahaz, would be destroyed and/or their lands devastated (there are several different interpretations). The two kings were indeed slain, circa 733 BCE.
6. For Justin on the “root of Jesse,” see Dialogue with Trypho, Chaps. 86-87, and on Immanuel, see Chaps. 43,66. For Irenaeus on the “root of Jesse,” see Adv. Haer. III.9.3, and on Immanuel, see III 9.2,19.1,20.3, and 21.4.
7. See, e.g., Gary V. Smith, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, Isaiah 1-39 (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2007).
8. An extensive analysis showing that Matthew was derived from the Talmud of Immanuel (TJ) is presented here. Some 75 instances that reveal Markan awareness of Matthew are shown here, and some 58 examples of Markan improvements and reverential upgradings of Matthew are shown here. Refutations of the argumentation given by 11 scholars who place Mark ahead of (a Hebraic) Matthew are given here.
Regarding the name Immanuel, its preferred interpretation according to the TJ (1:87, 2nd and later editions), is “the one with godly knowledge.” However, this is a more than literal translation: “knowledge” is inferred, and “god” refers to “the ruler of those who traveled from afar,” who centuries previously had conveyed the Immanuel prophecy to Isaiah. Similarly, the name “Jesus” (or “YHWH is a saving cry” or “God saves”) is interpreted as meaning considerably more (“God saves us from our sins”) than its literal name implies.
9. Moreover, as will be indicated later, a strong taboo against calling J by the name “Immanuel” had been in place for several decades before Matthew was written.
10. Charles Thomas Davis, “Tradition and redaction in Matthew 1:18-2:23,” JBL 90 (1971), pp. 404-424; see pp. 412-13.
11. Justin, “Treatise against Marcion” in Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., Bk 3, Chap. 7.
12. Sarah Iles Johnston, “The Testament of Solomon from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance,” in J. Bremmer and J. Veenstra (eds.), The Metamorphosis of Magic (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven, 2003), pp. 35-50. Its original is believed to have been written in Koine Greek.
13. Emmanuel = Εμμανουηλ = 5+40+40+1+50+70+400+8+30 = 644.
14. Otherwise, if the "Immanuel" identity had been exposed at a significantly earlier date, the revealing document would not likely have survived.
15. It must have appeared after the Gospel of Matthew’s date (and that of the other synoptic gospels) because we regard the temptation story (Mt 4:1-11) as a redaction; otherwise the other descriptive summaries could have derived earlier from oral tradition.
16. See Joseph Klausner, From Jesus to Paul (Boston: Beacon Press, 1943), pp. 440-442, 513-524, 581-582; and H. Conzelmann, “Current problems in Pauline research,” Interpretation 22 (1968), p. 172.
17. See Rom 5:6-10,15 & 14:15; 1 Cor 8:11 & 15:3; 2 Cor 5:14; Gal 1:4; and Col 1:14.
18. David Leeming, The Oxford Companion to World Mythology (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005) p. 118.
19. From the New Testament we do not know for sure if Saul had confronted J before the crucifixion. But from 1 Cor 9:1 it seems he had: “Have I not seen Jesus our lord?” Although in 1 Cor 15:8 Paul wrote: “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me,” it is clear he was speaking there of J’s appearances after the crucifixion; during his Road-to-Damascus confrontation he had not seen J, having been blinded by the light. Hence if he had seen J it was before or during the crucifixion. And if 1 Tim 1:12 can be trusted: “I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him,” Saul had indeed confronted Immanuel before the crucifixion. The TJ (26:30-45) agrees. This would well explain how Saul quickly recognized and accepted that it was Immanuel’s voice that was accosting him on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9). It allows us to understand that he must have disagreed with most of Immanuel’s teachings, thereby explaining why Peter and James, among others, would in turn be opponents to Paul’s gospel. The fact that Paul’s Epistles refer relatively little to J’s teachings is also consistent with this reconstruction. Also consistent is Paul’s failure to have more clearly admitted his contact with J prior to the crucifixion—this most shameful persecution mode of Paul’s life was just too disgraceful to describe. His failure to have described his Road-to-Damascus event could be due to not desiring to open the possibility in people’s minds that it had been a covert confrontation at night by his enemy who had survived the crucifixion (see TJ 33:1-29).
20. See Terrence Y. Mullins, “Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh,” JBL 56 (1957), pp. 299-303; and Jerry W. McCant, “Paul’s thorn of rejected apostleship,” NTS 34 (1988), pp. 550-572.
21. From Gal 2:9-14 we know that there was dissension between Paul and Peter, and in addition from 1 Cor 1:11-13, where some were saying they “belong to Cephas [Peter]” or to some other leader. Hence Peter seems to have been one of those who was preaching “a different gospel” (Gal 1:6-9). In saying that another man was building upon Paul's foundation, 1 Cor 3:10 probably refers to Peter. Also, we notice from Acts 12:12 that Peter was a close friend of John Mark, and that John Mark had had a falling out with Paul (Acts 13:13, 15:37-39). From Clement of Alexandria we know that at some stage Peter went to Rome, along with (John) Mark who served as his interpreter (see Eusebius, Eccles. Hist. 2.15.1-2; we know this also from Bishop Papias via Bishop Eusebius). Rom 15:18-24 is consistent with Paul having avoided Rome while Peter and (John) Mark were most active there. It appears that the writer of Luke-Acts reveals his preference for Paul over Peter at this point, as he loses track of Peter in Acts 15 before Peter went to Rome, and never mentions him thereafter though continuing on about Paul for another 13 chapters, including Paul’s eventual trip to Rome.
22. In his epistles Paul scarcely gave any description of what a resurrected being should be or look like: either spiritual (1 Cor 15:42-46), or physical (1 Cor 15:5-7). In his gospel the writer of Matthew utilized and redacted only a fragment of the last of the TJ’s four accounts of Immanuel’s post-crucifixion appearances, while altering a related encounter. The writer of Luke heavily redacted the TJ’s second appearance, totally altered the context of the third, highly redacted the fourth (in Acts 1), and invented two more brief appearances. The writer of John utilized the TJ’s first appearance but formed it into a doublet, and redacted the third appearance. The writers of Luke/Acts and John further added brief clauses or present participles that would indicate that Jesus could abruptly appear and disappear or pass through a closed door. The writer of Matthew apparently had control over the TJ; the writers of Luke and John had only limited access to the TJ, while the writer of Mark had none.
23. There is an astonishing amount of cumulative evidence of J having traveled around after the crucifixion, going as far east as northern India, where he lived a long life. This literature is essentially ignored within NT scholarship.
24. The Immanuelites can be considered a particular type of Gnostic, having been exposed to Immanuel’s teachings, which include the evolution of the human spirit. They should not be confused with the somewhat later Jewish-Christians of Jewish background, who became followers of Paul’s christology except that they continued to uphold the validity of the Mosaic laws.
25. Paul spoke demeaningly of James as a “reputed pillar” of the church (along with Peter and John, Gal 2:9), and had little to say about him although he had visited him (Gal 1:19). From Acts 12:16-17 we learn that Peter was a close friend of James, and since both were looked upon by Paul as reputed “pillars,” James and Peter both must be regarded as being Immanuelites. It was probably on his first visit to Jerusalem that Paul learned from James that he had seen or met with Immanuel after the crucifixion (1 Cor 15:7). On Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem it was agreed that he and Barnabus would proselytize the gentiles while Peter, James and John would do so with the Jews (Gal 2:9), thus tending to keep the Immanuelites’ “different gospel” or “wrong gospel” away from the gentiles.
26. According to Gal 2:11-14, when Peter withdrew from Paul and his gentile converts, it was because of “fearing the circumcision party.” But Peter, born a Jew, had almost certainly been circumcised from an early age, and had no reason to fear a circumcision party, if that had been involved. Hence it is presumed here that an early transcriber of Paul’s letter to the Galatians (in early 2nd century) altered his text by inserting the circumcision issue at this point, in order to divert attention away from any thought that those in James’s church, and James himself, were also opponents of Paul’s gospel. In so doing, the transcriber/redactor introduced some ambiguous illogic.
27. This argument is more easily turned around. If “Jesus” had been resurrected, he would no longer have to fear a premature death, but could openly proclaim himself to all of Jerusalem and Israel.
28. It would be several decades before the observation of Josephus would become at all known that on one occasion during the war of 66-70 “I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to [gain] their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician’s hands, while the third recovered” (The Life Of Flavius Josephus, 75).
Immanuel must also have had medical assistance afterwards, within the tomb—see J. W. Deardorff, Jesus in India: A Reexamination of Jesus’ Asian Traditions in the Light of Evidence Supporting Reincarnation (San Francisco: International Scholars Publications, 1994), pp. 153-67.
29. See Antiquities XX.9.1. The charge mentioned against James and companions was just a general one of “breaking of the law.” A differing account comes from a fragment from Saint Hegesippus (Hypomnemata Book V) in Eusebius Eccles. Hist. 22.23.4-18), in which James is persuaded to ascend to the top of the Temple and preach to a crowd of disbelievers in Christ, but he instead extols Christ and is then thrown down from the Temple and beaten to death by a fuller’s club. Here Josephus’s 1st-century account is preferred over Hegesippus’s 2nd-century account relayed by Eusebius.
It seems evident that the characteristics of James we deduce here are quite unlike the pious picture stemming from the 4th century (e.g., Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, Chap. 2)—that James had “camel knees” or calloused knees from having spent so much time in the Temple on his knees, praying. However his later nickname of “James the Righteous” or “James the Just” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 2.23) might be the result of his having insisted on speaking the truth about his brother Immanuel despite Paul’s gospel to the contrary; early church fathers then gave him a label that put the best face forward to the controversy.
30. An especially thorough study is that of Walter Schmithals, Paulus und die Gnostiker: Untersuchungen zu den kleinen Paulusbriefen (Hamburg: Reich, 1965); or Walter Schmithals, Paul and the Gnostics, J. E. Steely, Trans. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972). Schmithals lets us know of the many conflicting views on who Paul’s opponents were. He rejects the idea that Paul had to battle both a Jewish Christian group or Judaizing group and a gnostic or pneumatic group, and pretty much rejected a gnostic group as being among Paul’s opponents on the grounds that no known sources tell of it (p. 16).
31. The possibility that J survived the crucifixion, thus explaining his appearances afterwards, has not been treated seriously by more than a handful of NT scholars since the debunking work of David Friedrich Strauss, A New Life of Jesus, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (London: Williams and Norgate, 1879), p. 412. Omitted was the thought that J could have received medical attention inside the tomb.
32. We cannot be certain that some of the disciples may not later have changed their minds and sided with the Pauline Christians. The two groups did share the belief that J was a Messiah of sorts, as prophesied.
The investigator who has perhaps come closest to the present solution as to who Paul’s opponents were was H. Schlier in 1949 (see Schmithals, Paul and the Gnostics, p. 16). Schlier referred to Paul’s opponents as “so-called Judaizers” who were not of Pharisaic background but rather were Jewish Gnostics.
33. See this chronology of early Christian literature.
34. Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 98.
35. With so much “smoke,” it seemed like more “fire” should have been visible. See G. A. Wells, Did Jesus Exist? (London: Pemberton, 1986). Then also, there were miraculous stories within mythologies that preceded Christianity of which it could be claimed that Christian versions were just copies, such as virgin births. See Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 1999). The traditional scholastic view has recently been upheld by Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2012). However, Ehrman gives no adequate explanation, as presented here, for the scarcity of surviving contemporary written and archaeological evidence for Jesus’ existence. He advances the argument that one should not even expect Jesus to have been mentioned in pagan sources despite his “many miracles and fantastic deeds” without one having first established that he existed; “only then can we revisit the question of why no one, in that case, mentions him” (pp. 43-44). Upon revisiting the question, he could only offer that the traditions about Jesus’ marvelous deeds were simply not relevant to others aside from the Gospel authors (pp. 137-39); i.e., no explanation. And must one really have positive evidence on hand before explaining the lack of same?
35.5 List of 40 early Christ-related writings conspicuous by their absence or near absence of the name "Jesus." The ones from the Nag Hammadi Library that do and do not qualify, respectively, are shown here.
36. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chaps. 43,66. Even then, “Immanuel” was only mentioned within the one approved context of quoting from Isaiah 7:14.
37. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III.9.2 (it was Emmanuel who was worshipped by the magi), and also in III.19.1, 20.3 and 21.4.
38. Michael J. Hollerich, Eusebius of Caesarea’s Commentary on Isaiah (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1999), pp. 52-53.
39. Only from the TJ do we know about this. The worst blasphemy is that the God of Israel was an advanced human-like being, not the Creator of the Earth or universe, who had come to Earth out of the depths of space with his celestial travelers (TJ 28:52-62). Today these are labeled extraterrestrials, of course, by those who have thoroughly examined the UFO phenomenon and “ancient aliens” literature. The writer of Matthew would not have wished even to mention this blasphemy, if he could have understood it, and so substituted a much lesser one for it (Mt 26:61). In the TJ, Jmmanuel speaks much about Creation—“true God” or the Great Spirit of the universe.
40. The root word of “talmud” is “talmid,” which occurs in 1 Chr 25:8, where it means “pupil” or “one who learns.” First Chronicles is believed to have been written in the 5th century BCE. The Jerusalem Talmud, the earliest known aside from the TJ, dates to the 4th century CE. Click here for further discussion.
41. Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (NY: Random House, 1979), p. xxiv.
Go Back to: