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About Judas the Galilean

An essay donated by Daniel T. Unterbrink

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I have written two books which tell a new tale concerning Jesus of Nazareth.  The first book, "Judas the Galilean", explores the similarities between Jesus and another first-century rabbi, Judas the Galilean.  Both men cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem, were involved in a Barabbas-style prisoner release, were proclaimed Messiah in Galilee, and both founded new philosophies.  The Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote extensively about the life of Judas the Galilean but did not mention the cause or date of Judas' death.  On the other hand, Josephus did not describe a single action of Jesus but did tell of Jesus' crucifixion at the hands of Pilate.  Many scholars doubt the reliability of the "Jesus" passage in Josephus.  I believe this "Jesus"  passage was a substitution for the death of Judas the Galilean.  Judas the Galilean founded the fourth philosophy (later known as the Zealots), and was always on the mind of Josephus.  Josephus recorded the crucifixions of two of Judas' sons (45-47 CE), the stoning of another son, Menahen, who marched on Jerusalem ala Jesus in 66 CE, and the suicide of a grandson, Eleazar, at Masada in 73 CE.  It is incomprehensible that Josephus would have forgotten to tell of Judas the Galilean's death.  It is my contention that Jesus was simply a title for Judas the Galilean, and that the early church tried to distance Jesus from his true past.

The second book, "New Testament Lies", covers much of the same material as "Judas the Galilean", with one exception: "New Testament Lies" incorporates the Slavonic Josephus.  Scholars have ignored the Slavonic Josephus for two reasons.  First, a comprehensive comparison of the Slavonic version of the "War" with the Greek version was not published until 2003.  Second, many items within the Slavonic "War" are not consistent with Traditional Christianity.  The Slavonic Josephus includes "the star of Bethlehem" infant narrative but dates the story at 25 BCE, a full generation before the date as calculated in Matthew.  There are three passages about John the Baptist which go against the conventional Gospel accounts.  First, John came baptizing at the river Jordan in 6 CE, immediately before the tax revolt against Rome, led by Judas the Galilean. (Note that Jesus was crucified for his refusal to pay taxes to Rome.)  This John also preached the same philosophy as practiced by Judas.  In short, according to the Slavonic Josephus, John the Baptist was a disciple of Judas the Galilean.  The two other passages concerning John place John's death at 36 CE, several years after the Gospel death of Jesus.  This is confirmed by Josephus' "Antiquities".  Obviously, the Gospel timeline of John the Baptist was shifted in order to hide John's connection with Judas the Galilean.  The Slavonic Josephus also disproves the stories of Judas Iscariot and Barabbas.  According to this source, the High Priests paid Pilate 30 talents to arrest Jesus, and it was Jesus who was released to the crowd, not Barabbas (Judas the Galilean was released to the Jewish crowd in 4 BCE by the son of Herod the Great, Archelaus.)

This is a very complicated subject, in that all of Christianity is turned upside down.  With this earlier timeline for Jesus, it is now possible to compare the early church to the writings of Josephus.  The result is unsettling.  The hero of Traditional Christianity, Paul, becomes the traitor as depicted by Josephus and other early writings.  The introduction of Judas Iscariot by the Gospel writers was just an attempt to shift blame from Paul to a Jewish Apostle.  This whole cover-up is detailed in both books.  What is at stake?  The future of Christianity.

The following material should be noted:

bullet The birth narrative of Matthew concerning the star of Bethlehem and Herod is corroborated by the Slavonic Josephus.  However, the Slavonic Josephus places the event in the early years of Herod, around 25 BCE.  This earlier date would be consistent with the birth of Judas the Galilean and would be in line with the birth date of James, the brother of Jesus.
bullet In 4 BCE, Judas and his co-teacher, Matthias, cleansed the Temple, tearing down Herod's symbol of fealty to Rome, the Golden Eagle.  This was at the beginning of Judas' career.  In the book of John, Jesus cleansed the Temple at the start of his ministry.  In the other three Gospels, Jesus cleansed the Temple after entering Jerusalem as Messiah, at the end of his career.  Although Josephus does not tell of Judas' death, he does relate the story of Judas' son, Menahem, who entered Jerusalem as Messiah and cleansed the Temple as a Messianic act.  This no doubt was copied from the acts of his father, Judas.
bullet Judas was captured by Herod after the Golden Eagle Temple Cleansing.  There he languished in prison until Herod died.  To win support from the Jewish crowd, Herod's son, Archelaus, agreed to lower taxes and to release prisoners.  The release of Judas was the inspiration for the Barabbas story.  Barabbas and Judas were both revolutionaries who had created an uprising in Jerusalem.  The Barabbas release could not have happened in the time of Pilate, as the Romans did not release revolutionaries; they crucified them.  In addition, the Slavonic Josephus states that Jesus was released, not Barabbas.
bullet Judas was crowned Messiah in Galilee (4-2 BCE), just as the Gospels portray the ministry of Jesus.  This ministry of Jesus was telescoped into 1 to 3 years by the Gospel writers.  The ministry of Judas lasted from 4 BCE to 19 CE or 22 years.  This same telescoping of careers also applies to John the Baptist.  The Gospels give John a ministry of 1-3 years while the Slavonic Josephus dates John from 6-36 CE, or 30 years.
bullet According to the Slavonic Josephus, in 6 CE, a wild preacher came baptizing in the River Jordan.  In description, this was none other than John the Baptist.  This earlier version of John preached the philosophy of Judas (a nationalism based upon the rule of God), and also promised the coming of a great leader.  Immediately after this, Josephus wrote about the tax revolt of Judas the Galilean.  This tax revolt was the launching pad for Judas' nationwide campaign against Rome.  The Gospel of Luke places John's ministry at 29 CE, before the public ministry of Jesus.  (It should be noted that refusal to pay taxes to Rome was the main charge against Jesus.)
bullet Judas the Galilean founded a new philosophy, termed the Fourth Philosophy by Josephus.  (The other three philosophies were the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the Essenes.)  Jesus was credited with the founding of Christianity.  However, the Christianity of today was a product of Paul's teachings and not the Jewish preacher, Jesus.
bullet Although it cannot be proved with certainty, Judas the Galilean was probably crucified by the Roman authorities.  His political career would have earned him this punishment.  Judas' two sons, James and Simon, were crucified by the Romans a generation later.  When Jesus was crucified, he was placed between two robbers, a term used by Josephus to describe members of Judas the Galilean's Fourth Philosophy.  In reality, Jesus was simply crucified along with two or more of his captured followers.
bullet The history of the early church can be compared to the movement of Judas from 19-67 CE.  One example will suffice.  According to Josephus, a Simon was preaching exclusion of all non-Jews from the Temple.  He was escorted to Caesarea by Roman guards to answer to Agrippa in 43 CE.  The writer of Acts took this historical event and placed it into Chapter 10.  Simon Peter was escorted to Caesarea to meet Cornelius, a Roman Centurion.  There, Simon Peter decided that Cornelius, a Gentile, should be included into the Christian fold.  The author of Acts turned an exclusionary teaching into an act of inclusion.

This list can be expanded, but the above should show that the relationship between Judas the Galilean and his movement was incredibly similar to Jesus and the early church.  This relationship has never been adequately explored before.  It would be very interesting to hear Christian church leaders and leading scholars answer the above "coincidences." If nothing else, this could spur more research into these many similarities.horizontal rule

Books on this topic:

bulletDaniel Unterbrink, "Judas the Galilean: The flesh and blood Jesus," I Universe, (2004). See:
bulletDaniel Unterbrink, "New Testament lies: The greatest challenge to traditional Christianity," I Universe, (2004). See:

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Copyright 2006 by Daniel T. Unterbrink
Latest update: 2011-APR-04
Author: Daniel T. Unterbrink

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