Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography by Bruce Chilton: Book Analysis
Yesterday, I reviewed Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton on my blog. Today I am going to analyze the book to the best of my ability. It would be nice if you download your copy of Rabbi Jesus today. I thoroughly enjoyed the historically researched book on who the person of the Lord Jesus was before his disciples claimed the Earth for their own through the preaching of the Gospel.
It all started with his murky birth. Lord Jesus was called a mamzer when he was young indicative in Jewish circles that he had no proper lineage or that Mother Mary had an illicit relationship with the very elderly Saint Joseph even before they got married, and that lead to the birth of Lord Jesus. I have never looked at the teachings of the Lord Jesus from that perspective. We were always given to understand that the Lord Jesus felt contented in his relationship with his foster father. I never realized that being called a mamzer could have driven the little Lord Jesus to do drastic things. For example, getting lost in the temple.
The pilgrimage to Jerusalem was a very eventful time in the historical Lord Jesus’ life. In the gospels we are led to believe the four-step process was:
- Lord Jesus got lost.
- Mother Mary and Saint Joseph realized he was lost after a long time.
- They came back to Jerusalem searching for him.
- They found him preaching to the priests at the temple or as he said ‘doing His Father’s business’.
But according to Bruce Chilton, that’s not what happened on that pilgrimage. According to him, the Lord Jesus remained there near the temple for a greater part of his youth on his own. No, he was not learning the scriptures or any secret doctrine there; he was a beggar at the temple. He used to sit outside the temple of Jerusalem and beg. That is the reason why he understood beggars and the people who lived on the margins of society so well, because he was a beggar or acting like a beggar for the greater part of his young life. He was so attached to the temple of Jerusalem and its grandeur that he preferred to remain a beggar than leave Jerusalem and go back to Nazareth.
In comes at this point Saint John the Baptist. You’ll say, wait a minute; that can’t be because he would have been just a teenager himself. But according to Bruce Chilton, historical records indicate that there was a vast age gap between Saint John the Baptist and Lord Jesus, at least a good ten years. The Baptist started immersing people in the waters of the Jordan to cleanse them of their sins. Lord Jesus heard about him and became one of the Baptist’s disciples. It was the Baptist who taught the Lord Jesus to meditate on the Chariot of the Throne of God.
Now, you’ll wonder what the Dickens is that? Well, if you have read the Prophet Ezekiel carefully then you remember the many verses dedicated to the chariots of God. Well, this is the same thing. The Baptist taught the Lord Jesus to meditate on this Chariot and to become one with the Chariot. By doing this, Lord Jesus became so self-actualized that he was able to channelize the energy of God, which is nothing else but the Holy Spirit.
Here a slight Gnostic theme sets in, where Bruce Chilton mentions that the Lord Jesus did not focus on the Old Testament God but the God from whom comes the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament God is called the Demiurge, see another post of mine on the same for reference. It is to this God that Lord Jesus unites his senses and somewhere down that line becomes the self-actualized Rabbi unlike any other. He even surpasses his teacher, Saint John the Baptist.
In the middle of all this, Herod Antipas takes the Baptist away and beheads him doing the bidding of Salome, his niece. The loss of a father figure falls heavily on the mind of the mamzer Lord Jesus. Apparently, he was just a young lad when the Baptist was killed. He was even younger when Saint Joseph passed away. With the departure of two major father figures in his life, the Lord Jesus was now focused on making God his Father, the one father who would never die and never leave him alone. Mind you, according to historical documents, Lord Jesus never claimed himself to be the only son of God. He kept on preaching throughout his ministry that anyone could become the son of God as long as we are pure in spirit. The Lord debunked the Baptist’s immersion but didn’t stop his disciples from baptizing believers. Mind you, this is a very young Lord Jesus we see preaching the Gospel. History claims that it couldn’t be possible that a single individual had such a great impact on the lives of so many people in a short span of three years, that is, from age 30 to 33. Josephus, some Jewish texts, and the Dead Sea Scrolls claim otherwise. They claim that Lord Jesus’ ministry went on for years and only at age 33 was he arrested by the Sanhedrin and crucified on the Cross.
Till then, Lord Jesus was simply known as Rabbi Jesus. From Rabbi or a simple teacher, he went on to become a miracle worker, then an exorcist, then a prophet, and lastly, an angel. Lord Jesus’ entire goal during his ministry was to become an angel, similar to the image of the angel who stands nearest to the throne of the Chariot of God. He, the mamzer wanted to get closer and closer to his Father God. The only way, he felt, everyone including he could achieve this was to lose oneself in the service of others.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. —Matthew 10:39
Lord Jesus kept on preaching words that no one had ever preached before. His ideas were extraordinarily twisted when you think about it. The Gospel words of the Lord Jesus have baffled every subject on the globe from Nuclear Science to philosophy. Lord Jesus was very stuck on debts. The Lord’s Prayer which he gives to the people speaks of ‘the debts we are guilty of not having paid’.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” —Matthew 6:9-13
He is fixed on the idea of ‘past debts’ we owe to people, something very similar to the karma theory of Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. He truly believed that if a person cleared all his ‘debts’ he would then surely be part of this Kingdom of God. Self-annihilation was the theme of his ministry. However, that didn’t stop him from having grand festive meals with the people he wanted to be with. I remember a Catholic priest of the Bombay archdiocese say recently that ‘Lord Jesus ate right through his ministry’. I did not agree with him, but after reading this book titled Rabbi Jesus, I have to eat up my words. If in the Catholic religious texts, people felt that Lord Jesus was eating all the time, then according to history, he ate even more than that. He was always eating, so much so that he got an early paunch according to eye-witnesses then. Now that is totally different from the way we picture Lord Jesus in our Catholic images.
Lord Jesus ate, feasted, and shared his good news with anyone and everyone. But the day he started calling the bread they ate as his ‘flesh’ and the wine they were drinking as his ‘blood’, that put a damper on many a festive occasion. The reason why he did this was that he was entering his thirties, and knew he wouldn’t have long to live. Herod Antipas was after his life like a mad man. We notice Lord Jesus in the Evangelists’ Gospels themselves hardly having time to sit down; that was because he was never given a chance to sit back and relax at a place. Herod was always wanting to kill him.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. —John 6:54
So, since he knew he had not long to live, he started making morbid claims about how he was meeting his end and how he wanted to be remembered after he would be killed. He was aware that it was against Jewish custom to drink the blood of any animal, even what later on became kosher meat. Yet, here he was, telling people to drink his blood and eat his flesh because that was going to be the way people and he would evermore remain the true ‘flesh and blood’ of a Father God that would never abandon them.
But there were many years in between, years when he taught the people of Israel so much. Here are some of his teachings in point form mentioned in Bruce Chilton’s book:
- Self-annihilation and to lose oneself in the service of others.
- The ‘Spoken Word’ became more important than the ‘Written Word’. This therefore set Lord Jesus against the way of the Essenes. He liked eating with them it seems but otherwise nothing much else.
- To love one’s neighbor as oneself was a way to get off one’s previous debts. The more good deeds one did, the more debts were forgiven. A very strong indication of the affects and effects of Karma.
- One did not need immersion nor purification for the Holy Spirit to enter one’s life and one’s self. Purity came with doing good acts and not by eating something clean or unclean.
- Lord Jesus was very much against commerce and money of any sort. He preferred a communal way of living, which was followed later on by his disciples even after his death and resurrection. If there was anything the historical Lord Jesus abhorred other than Satan, it was money.
- He cured people with ‘outbreaks’ and those who had ‘leprosy’. They are two very different things where different rituals had to be performed in each case.
Lord Jesus’ teachings have been summarized almost to the hilt, but the historical documents related to his life. He did say all the things mentioned in the gospels by the evangelists. He even started to become a very effective exorcist. He was himself surprised that he was a good exorcist. Bruce Chilton mentions, however, that many studies have been conducted in this regard and most probably, the possessed people who came to be treated by Lord Jesus were nothing but people suffering from mass hysteria. There is a mention made here that the Lord Jesus was a bipolar personality. Only then could he show so many different sides to his personality: the anger towards Saint Peter, the tenderness towards Lazarus’ memory, the nonchalance when he heard Lazarus was sick, the temper when the woman with a hemorrhage touched his cloak, and so on.
The Lord Jesus is shown to have practiced a form of Syriac Theology which is today the Christian way to control sex. He focused a lot on this, on himself and his band of followers. This was because he wanted to become the ‘androgynous angel’ who is seated closest to the throne of God in the Chariot. He made his disciples practice it and whoever asked him for advice in this matter. That is why we see in the Gospels such strict measures where sex and sexuality are concerned.
But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. —Matthew 5:28
Lord Jesus thought himself to be the new Elijah or the new Elisha. Everyone thought so too and were excited about it. They now were keen on getting a battalion of Lord Jesus’ disciples ready to go to Jerusalem and defeat the Romans. Unlike what we are traditionally told, there were many instances of the Lord Jesus almost succumbing to this temptation, now that he had power over matter and all its elements. However, he still focused on the filial relationship one had with one’s father God. His mind seemed to be like a nuclear reactor as mentioned by Bruce Chilton. Anytime, anything could happen and one day, Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem and with his band of zealots created great confusion in the temple which we now know as ‘the overturning of the moneychangers’ coins’.
So, He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle. He poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those selling doves He said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn My Father’s house into a marketplace!” —John 2:15-16
We read it in the Bible today as just a small incident. But when you look deeper, you realize that what the Lord Jesus did here was something lethal for him where three important people were concerned:
- Caiaphas the High Priest
- Pontius Pilate
- Herod Antipas
All three after seeing what Lord Jesus’ zealots had done were enflamed. There is a lovely section in the latter half of the book that describes the way sacrifices were tended to during the Passover festival, the real importance of Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate, and Herod Antipas during that period, as well as how this one act of the Lord Jesus landed him in all their bad books. Historical documents paint all these three important people as ruthless characters; they didn’t like being messed with at all. And certainly not when Jerusalem was the place where the maximum number of insurrections continued to take place at that point in history. You should read those parts of the book; it will open your eyes as to how important these three people were in the death of the Lord Jesus. I also want to draw to your attention, that things like what the Lord Jesus did with his zealots were being done on a regular basis in Jerusalem. In fact, there was a chap more popular than the Lord Jesus, who after the death of the Lord Jesus tried this same stunt, and got reprimanded. However, we don’t remember him; we remember the Lord Jesus.
This overthrowing of the moneychangers’ coins sparked the need to arrest Lord Jesus in the minds of all the three concerned authorities. They didn’t like pushovers. Plus, Herod Antipas was, at last, getting a hold of Lord Jesus who had been irritating Antipas since the time of Saint John the Baptist’s ministry. Lord Jesus was now quite certain that he was going to be captured very soon. He was even sure that he would be put to death. This shocked his disciples; it even shocked the literary writers of that age. Lord Jesus nevertheless kept on meditating on the chariot of God. His meals became quiet, almost sacred in nature. Many disciples left him because he was becoming emotional during meal time, always talking about bread as ‘his flesh’ and wine as ‘his blood’.
Here we see Lord Jesus talk of an apocalypse. Yes, he believed in an Apocalypse and spoke about it often enough. He especially had certain prophetic notions about the temple of Jerusalem and how it would be destroyed in the near future. For this event that was to come, he wanted to pass on his Holy Spirit to his disciples so that they too would become like him, ‘sons of God’.
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” —Mark 13:1-2
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. —John 14:26
He was obsessive about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Judaism was admired by the Hellenistic world at large but Lord Jesus would go on to create indirectly, an even more mind perplexing religion which would be founded on his death, his resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The last would change the attitudes of the apostles to such an extent that they went on to preach the Gospel to all and sundry. How, therefore, despite all odds did one person’s vague death, his being found missing from his tomb, and then the rumor of his rising from the dead inspire the whole cosmos as we’ve been seeing it through three millennia? Whatever may be the reason, but even some historians of that time, according to Bruce Chilton, were aware that something strange did indeed happen during that Passion week which led to the birth of a new religion that would put an end to the Hellenistic world altogether.
Lord Jesus in his last days gave counsel to his disciples and spoke of the way people influenced God just the way God influenced people. That is because we all proceed from one another; one is incomplete without the other.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. —John 1:1-5
Lord Jesus spoke about hardship being the way to divine vision, to see the Chariot of the throne of God and to allow the Zacharias Prophesy to be fulfilled in this world, one had to go through hardship. One had to pick up his cross every day and follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before. The Lord Jesus was becoming more solemn and serious as the day of his death came nearer. He consoled his disciples, but not many of them wanted his counsel. For instance, Judas Iscariot was keen on quelling the power of Lord Jesus. He thought the Lord Jesus would be just stoned to death like all other religious fanatics to have ever cropped up from the population. He felt a stoning was not all that painful and so that would be an easy death for Lord Jesus. He never in his mind ever imagined the whole Passion that the Lord Jesus would have to go through. It was the dawning of that realization that made him commit suicide.
Where history is concerned it seems the Lord Jesus had numerous female disciples. One of them, if not the most important of them was Saint Mary Magdalene. The historical texts indicate that it is she who anointed Lord Jesus’ head with perfume oil.
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” —Mark 14:3-9
Lord Jesus is shown to have been extremely fond of Saint Mary Magdalene. However, the author, Bruce Chilton, has discussed their relationship in another book researched and penned by him. The book’s name is Mary Magdalene: A Biography and when I read that book I shall analyze her role in Lord Jesus’ life from a historical point of view.
Disciples apart, Lord Jesus was now finding himself in a tight corner. But he seemed to have believed that somehow, something good would come out of his death. There was a certain premonition of a resurrection. The passiveness of the apostles in the four Gospels is not the way the historical apostles are described in the book titled Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton.
According to Bruce Chilton, the progress of the Passion is similar, if not totally similar, to historical records done by him. Details are analyzed in certain contexts in the right manner. For example, it is proven that Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross by his wrists and ankles and not the palms of his hands and feet. That is easy enough; we’ve been reading about this notion for quite a long while now. Caiaphas, Herod Antipas, and Pontius Pilate worked together and got Lord Jesus killed through a painful scourging and then a terrible walk to Golgotha along with a grotesque crucifixion. The irony was that Barabbas who was one of Lord Jesus’ disciples who took part as a zealot in the cleansing of the temple was released while the Lord Jesus was killed. We don’t hear of Barabbas after that, but we know that Pontius Pilate was putting on a big show where his ‘so-called’ innocence was concerned. History says he was not all that innocent; he knew exactly what he was doing. However, like even the Christian religion tells us, he did not expect the apostles to take up where Lord Jesus had left off. Also, he did not imagine a Saint Paul becoming an ardent disciple of Lord Jesus and changing the Hellenistic world through his preaching and writings.
In fact, Saint Paul is also said to have mentioned in his letters that God reveals the son ‘in’ me and not ‘to’ me. Look at the importance of that preposition ‘in’. With the preposition ‘in’ we realize that we can become like Lord Jesus, an ascended master ourselves. This was said by Saint Paul in his letters, and we have been overlooking the obvious:
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. —Galatians 1:16
Bruce Chilton is sure that something happened during that Holy Week in Jerusalem. He even has many witnesses accounts of a resurrected Lord Jesus. However,the Lord Jesus after his Apostles sort of ‘took over’ disappears from the annals of the history of the Middle East and in the land of Israel. We know next to nothing in these areas about what happened to the Lord Jesus. However, we know for certain that his teachings have been revolutionizing the world for the past three millennia. His teachings have been warped so to say, and his historical existence is almost forgotten. It is because of dedicated writers like Bruce Chilton who remind us that all is not as it seems. And that there will be more to the Lord Jesus one day when we are able to truly realize what really influenced him to become the invisible presence in everything that happened in this Earth period.
Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe; how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? —John 3:11-12
Until science or our consciousness develops, I guess we will never know what happened to a certain mamzer so many years ago, and how his lack of a father figure gave to this world an eternal Father who seems sometimes so close and yet, so far.
It was a pleasure analyzing this amazing book. I hope to read more books by Bruce Chilton soon. He has won over me with this book. If you are interested in book reviews, book analysis, short story analysis, poems, essays, essay analysis, and other bookish content, then you can check out my blog insaneowl.com. If you want to buy my books then you can visit my website fizapathanpublishing.us or fizapathan.com. Happy reading to you always!
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