John Ira Riegel.

Simon, son of man; a cognomen of undoubted historicity, obscured by translation and lost in the resplendence of a dual appellative online

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Online LibraryJohn Ira RiegelSimon, son of man; a cognomen of undoubted historicity, obscured by translation and lost in the resplendence of a dual appellative → online text (page 1 of 16)
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"What think ye of the Messiah? Whose son [Bar] is he?" —
Matt, xxii, 42.

"Ha Gi'ora." — Syriac version of John xix, 5; "Behold the
Man." — English Version of John xix. 5.

"The truth shall make you free." — John viii, 32.

"For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested;
neither was there anything kept secret but that it should
come abroad. If anv man have ears to hear, let him hear."
— Mark iv, 22-23.





I 833^94


R I9!8 L

copyhight, 1917
Shermax, Frexch & Company


" The open mind implies such a quiet holding in abeyance
and balancing of personal opinions and habits, of tradi-
tional and current views, that one may come to the task
of interpretation with something of the freshness that be-
longs to a new investigation." — Potwin.

" It is the duty of every honest citizen of the world to be
jealous at all times that there should be no perversions of
the facts of history." — Anok.

This book is in no sense a polemical work. It
is written because of the historical value of its
subject matter, and with no thought of giving of-
fense to any person, even to the most sensitive
soul, and least of all to overthrow anyone's reli-
gious convictions. It is hoped, first, that its ar-
gument will not be construed against the cherished
belief of any person in the real divinity of the Son
of Man ; and, second, that its scientific trend will
be apreciated b}^ all who will peruse it.

If it appears to humanize him whom many mil-
lions of the human race have worshipped as divine,
it must be remembered that the Church, likewise,
has at all times strenuously withstood the Docetic
theory that he was wholly a divine being. It is an
unworthy thought and little appreciative of the
dignity and divinity of human nature that identify-
ing the Son of Man with a real historical character



of flesh, and blood, and bone and breath, in any
sense detracts from the divinity of his great com-
manding soul. To treat the writings of the New
Testament as human documents is not at all to
offer offense against the Christian religion, for
Christianity existed before the writings of the
New Testament, which, it must be admitted, were
written in time, by human beings, and are, there-
fore, subject to the limitations of all temporal

The perusal of this work by candid and open-
minded readers can only produce a better under-
standing between Christians and Jews, showing, as
it does, the grounds for a common sympathy be-
tween men who share with each other many canons
of a common faith. The Christian reader will lay
the book down with deeper sympathy for the racial
aspirations and with the immeasurable sufferings
of the Jews. The Jewish reader will see in the
Son of Man one to whom his heart can go out in
loving veneration, if not, indeed, in worship, the
one who made the supreme sacrifice for his ancient

The Roman Empire is no more ; there is no rea-
son today to hide unpleasant facts from its proud-
est and most sensitive citizens. The object for
which the crypticism of the Gospels was conceived
no longer exists ; it is now neither politic nor prof-
itable to say Jew when Roman is meant, or Jeru-
salem, when Rome is intended ; and there is nobody
living to take offense at the plain statement of


historical fact that upon the Roman alone rests
the crime of cruelly putting to death him whom
his people proclaimed without ever a vacillation,
the veritable King of the Jews.

Josephus, the traitor, is dead. It is a matter
of regret that the malignant calumnies he uttered
against the greatest of his race do not now lie with
him in his forgotten grave. It is to be hoped that
now, even after nineteen centuries have rolled over
his dust, it is not too late to rehabilitate the char-
acter he sought to defame with his foulest false-
hoods and to re-introduce to the world in his true
estate the sublimest of all the Jewish race.


I have read the manuscript of Simon Son-of-
Man with very great interest and satisfaction. I
need hardly say that, as a lawyer, I am in com-
plete agreement with the thesis of the work, the
identification of the great soul whose intense life-
work was devoted to the political improvement of
his people and which has engrossed the attention
of civilization for nineteen hundred years.

The treatment of the subject in these pages is
excellent — reverent, dignified, convincing, and is
carried forward to ultimate conclusions. This is
especially the case with those chapters which in-
volve questions of the practice and application of
Roman law and penology. I have carefully fol-
lowed the arguments of other authors on the trial
and execution of the vanquished King of the Jews,
and in my judgment the development of these sub-
jects in this manuscript is the first which correctly
deals with these frequently-discussed events. This
result is, no doubt, due largely to the discovery
by the authors of the actual ground upon which
these events took place. This new point of view
of theirs provides a practical use of a positive
knowledge of judicial procedure applicable to the
persons, places and period involved. The authors


of the manuscript have also simplified a compre-
hension of the trial by adhering mainly to the old-
est source, the report contained in the second Gos-
pel, and by ignoring all later accretions added for
their dramatic effect upon the reader. The re-
port of the trial and execution of the Son of Man
recorded in the most ancient text and read from
the view-point furnished by this book records a
perfectly legal procedure, and avoids the gross
illegality and contradictions involved in the syn-
thetic view. Their development of the facts from
the Christian records is an accomplishment which,
I believe, has not been attained by any prior
author or investigator, and hence all the more
worthy of extensive reading at this time.

I look forward to the publication of this work.
It will be of very great interest and value to the
layman as well as to the theologian and student of
history. One cannot but admire the perseverance
and painstaking labors of the authors in compil-
ing such a stupendous fund of information and
fact within so small a compass for convenient ref-
erence. I express the hope of the authors that
their labors will bless humanity for centuries to
come by lifting an enormous burden from its be-
liefs and inculcated convictions which have been
based largely upon error that should have been
discovered long ago, judging from the simplicity
with which the problem is here developed scien-
tifically for the first time, and apparently for all


If the encouragement and assistance I have
given the authors has contributed to this end I am
deeply gratified.

William J. Torrey
Scranton, Pa.
September, 1917.


The authors desire publicly to acknowledge
their indebtedness to William J. Torrey, Esq., of
Scranton, Pa., for his generous assistance in the
preparation and the publication of this book, for
his careful reading of the work in manuscript and
in proof, and in particular for his candid criticism
and stimulating suggestions which have helped to
make the book more convincing and more complete.


The primary object of this work is to demon-
strate that the Jesus of the Gospels of Christian-
ity was an historical personage whose existence is
proven in the works of the profane historians of
the early centuries of the Christian era.

The method by which this proof has been pre-
sented is through an examination of the Gospels
— mainly that of the Mark — in the light of the
theory which is centuries old, but which has re-
ceived its most convincing proofs in the writings
of Abbott and Resch, who aim to demonstrate
" that there is no antecedent improbability in the
hypothesis that the earliest written Gospel was
composed in Biblical Hebrew," intermixed with
Aramaic expressions. See Abbott's " Clue." Al-
though Aramaic, heir and next of kin to the dece-
dent language, was the everyday speech of the
Palestinian Jews, Greek was the international lan-
guage, the French of the ancient world. It was
extensively used by the Jews and almost exclu-
sively by the Gentiles who lived north and north-
east of Jerusalem; and Latin was fairly well un-
derstood by the people in Galilee. It will be seen,
however, that the following work is radically dif-
ferent in its aim from the efforts of Abbott and


Resch, and, indeed, from the work of every prior
author who has attempted to restate the life of the
Jesus. In taking this stand the authors early
bore in mind the fact that the Gnostics, or
" Knowing Ones," read out of the Gospels a mean-
ing so different from that which later Christians
found therein that the former have always been
designated as the '* first heretics " of Christianity.
So also, and chiefly, have the authors ever had in
mind that the " Paul " of the Epistles, who de-
clared that the praise of his brother occurs in " the
Gospel," was very familiar with Greek literature
and proficient in that cultivated language. Es-
peciall3^ notable is his use of the words " to kick
against the pricks," a phrase which is put by Eu-
ripides, in the Bacchae, into the mouth of Di-
onysus. Supporting this view of the man is the
statement of Josephus (Vita, 9) concerning " Jus-
tus of Tiberias " :

He incited the multitude to revolt, for his abilities
lay in popular preaching, in invective against his op-
ponentS;, and in the seductive witchery of his words,
for he was not inexpert in the culture of the Greeks.
Confident of that skill he set his hand to write a his-
tory of the Revolt for the purpose of covering-up the
truth. Regarding this man, the phaulos life he
led, and how with his brother he caused the great
catastrophe, I shall explain a little in the progress of
this work.

This he proceeded to do in such a vigorous man-
ner, particuarly in sections 65, 70 and 74 of the


Vita, as to leave no doubt regarding the identity
of Justus, and hence no question of the identity of
the author of the original Gospel containing the
history of this " elder [greater] brother " in
cryptic form.

As a consequence of this discovery that the
writings of " Paul " are deliberate cryptic history,
it is at once clear that translation into the ver-
nacular of this " Hebrew of the Hebrews " must
serve to restore, as nearly as is possible after almost
nineteen centuries, the original sense, if not the
text of the Gospel. By making the attempt upon
the whole of the New Testament it readily becomes
apparent, as most authorities agree, that the Gos-
pel called the Mark bears the stamp of priority
as a Hebrew, and partly Aramaic, composition
in which many phrases and clauses have been pre-
served to us with remarkable exactness, as will ap-
pear in the text.

In short, this treatise is the result of a scien-
tific investigation of the historical features of the
Gospels, as corroborated by the Apocalypse and
secular history, partially classified for submission
to the judgment of common sense. As such it is
a departure from the beaten paths which hold the
investigator to the peculiar value which ecclesi-
astical tradition has set upon the language in the
Greek renditions, except in so far as Abbott has
demonstrated the conflative characteristics of the
Gospels ; though he did not attempt to show, nor
did he even conceive the possibility of a continuous


narrative bearing the earmarks of faithful history.
Naturally it has not been found possible in the
attempt to arrive at the complete story, which can
be found only after a thorough scrutiny of the
original texts and the conversion of these into He-
brew and the Aramaic in use during the lifetime
of " Paul," and chiefly as used by that author.
This is, perhaps, the business of a university, not
of a few investigators; and one of the objects in
submitting this treatise is to suggest to the uni-
versities of America and Europe that such a work
would be well worth while if the controversy con-
cerning Christian origins continues to wage in the
future as it has waged in recent years. It is the
opinion of the authors, however, that with the
internal evidence herein set forth, further interest
in the mere question of the existence of the great
character portrayed by the Gospel must lag, ex-
cept as a matter of historical importance.




















The Question, Its Difficulties and
THE Documents ....

The Real Name of the Jesus was
" Son of Man " . . . .

The Messiah to be a War Lord
NOT A Prince of Peace .

The Unrelenting Roman in Judea

The Whirlwind of Kadesh .

Arrest of the Son of Man .

Trial of the Son of Man .

The Triumph of Titus Travestied

" The Place of a Skull *' .

The Body which was Broken .

Joseph 'Ara Mathias and Veronica
See the Body

Ex Uno Plures

Simon Magus, the Son of Man

Magus and the Magd-Helene .

Simon as the Crowned Kino .

" Thou Art a Samaritan " .

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord 125

The Son of Man as Menandros . 130








XIX Bar Gi'ora as Simon Bar Chochab 135

XX The Son of Man as Apollonius . 147

XXI The Tell-Tale Greek Article . 154

XXII The Boanerges 159

XXIII The Geenna of Fire . . . .167

XXIV What Revelation Reveals . . .177

XXV The Exposure of Miracle Stories 204

XXVI Other Miracles and the Parables 214

XXVII The Beatitudes 227

XXVIII The " Lord's Prayer " .... 231

XXIX Early Christian Chronology . . 236

XXX From Crypticism to Criticism . .251

XXXI The Story of the Coins .... 256

XXXII Conclusion 265



" It is clear enough that custom and convention have
acted as narcotics on the mind, sending reason to sleep.'*

Is there not somewhere in the contemporary
writings of his time a single scrap of authentic
history regarding the reputed founder of Chris-
tianity? Is there any mention anywhere outside
the New Testament and the Apocryphal Gospels
of a single fact tending to prove that such a per-
son ever existed on this earth?

Philo-Judaeus, the most prolific of all Jewish
religio-philosophical writers, who was born some-
where between ten and twenty years before the
beginning of the Christian era, and who was liv-
ing in the year 40 of that era, some seven years
after the commonly accepted date of the Ascen-
sion of the Jesus, makes absolutely no mention of
him at all.

The reference in Suetonius to a certain Chres-
tus who caused a Semitic sedition in Rome during
the reign of Claudius, resulting in the expulsion
of the Jews from Rome, could not have been
meant for Christus, who was not in Rome during
the reign of Claudius.


The spurious passage in Tacitus malignantly
accusing Nero of the barbaric burning of Chris-
tians as human torches, has been proven to be an
interpolation which stands as a monument rather
to piety than to truth.

Flavins Josephus, the Jewish historian of that
time, makes no mention whatever of him under the
name given him in the Gospels. Flavins Josephus
was governor of Galilee in 66 and 61 of the
Christian era, and though, in his writings, he
covers every phase of Jewish history and every
movement of any moment that occurred in Pales-
tine from Creation to his own day, he lets drop
no word which would raise a suspicion that he had
ever heard of a person called Jesus Christ. Yet,
according to the Gospels, tens of thousands of
people followed the Jesus from one end of the
country to the other. Vast multitudes, forsaking
their everyday work and means of livelihood, we
are told, pursued him in all his journeyings, even
out into the desert wilds where, having provided
no food for themselves, they were fed by this won-
der of wonder-workers. Great multitudes from
Galilee sought him, and from Judea, from Perea
beyond the Jordan to the sea, and from Tyre and
Sidon up in the north, and from distant Idumea
in the south. This man's fame, it is said, had
reached far beyond the confines of his own coun-
try, and had attracted streams of strangers over
rock-ribbed mountains and torrential rivers, over
difficult roads where the only means of travel was


by foot, and yet the governor of the very province
that is said to have been liis home does not men-
tion the name that untold millions hold to be the
greatest among all the sons of men.

It is thought by some that Josephus ignores
the name of Jesus for fear of offending Caesar;
yet he does mention Judas the Galilean, Theudas,
and a dozen others more offensive to the emperor,
for these sought to overturn the power of Rome.
Others think — though without a shred of evi-
dence — that Josephus did mention him, but in
such an unworthy way that Christian hands de-
leted the story utterly from his works, destroying
it as they destroyed almost all other writings
against the faith. While the holders of such an
opinion have an adequate conception of what pious
hands can do, their theory is negatived by the
fact that there is no apparent hiatus left there
in Josephus' history. Everything except a few
glaring interpolations, follows in orderly se-
quence, each succeeding chapter dove-tailing with
the preceding one without any evidence of violent

Rev. S. Baring-Gould, in his " Lost and Hos-
tile Gospels," says : " It is deserving of remark
that many of the Rabbis whose sayings are
recorded in the Mischna [or first portion of the
Talmud], lived in the time of our Lord, or shortly
after, and yet that not the smallest reference is
made to the teaching of Jesus, nor even any al-
lusion to him personally. Although the Mischna


was drawn up beside the Sea of Galilee, at Tiber-
ias, near where Jesus lived and wrought miracles
and taught, neither he nor his followers are men-
tioned once throughout the Mischna."

These observations bring many to the con-
clusion that no such individual as the Jesus ever
did exist. For, a history of India that would
ignore the existence of Buddha, a history of Ger-
many without a mention of Luther, or of Ireland
without the name of St. Patrick, would be utterly
inconceivable. Such critics conclude that the ab-
sence of all reference to the Jesus in the history
of Josephus or in the Mischna is a certain proof
of his non-existence. According to these, there-
fore, the Gospels are pure fiction in the modern
sense, and have no historical foundation at all.

But is not this crediting to the authors of the
Gospels greater creative imagination than all the
Shakespeares of the world possessed? Not even
the greatest of all the English poets could frame
a fiction concerning men who never lived on land
or sea.

It does not appear to have occurred to many
that the personalities in the Gospel story may be
found in Josephus under other and different
names. In searching through this history for
their identification, we must not forget the point
of view of the writer, whether he be a friend or
an enemy of the person whom he describes. We
can well imagine that had the American Revolu-
tion been a failure, a character sketch of George


Washington written by Benedict Arnold to pass
the censorship of King George III would have
been quite different from the idealistic picture of
the haloed and hallowed " Father of His Coun-
try " which, in our childhood days, we contem-
plated with such sincere affection. We must re-
member that all men are human, and are neither
blackened flame-breathing demons, as their hated
enemies would depict them, nor diaphanous angels
of light as seen through eyes of passionate love
and devotion.

We should keep in mind the fact that Josephus,
who was one of the originators of the Jewish
patriotic uprising to throw off the tyranny of the
Roman yoke, turned traitor to his country's
cause. In order to save his own wretched ex-
istence, he played the poltroon and the charlatan,
and sold his country to the Romans for a life of
leisure at the hands of his nation's destroyers.
His history of the Jewish rebellion, as we shall
show later, was written to extenuate his own act
of treason and the acts of the men who mercilessly
butchered his brethren by the million. It was a
prize story written to flatter the vanity of his
country's cruel conqueror, to justify the ruin of
his race and the gory deeds that drove wandering
Jews to fare forth over all the earth from the
crash of their fallen nation. And the prize was
Roman gold, the friendship of the rich and great
of the Roman world and the adoption of the
slanderer into the Flavian family of Roman em-


perors. Flavius Josephus felt greater honor in
fraternizing with Flavius Vespasianus and Flavius
Titus than as the Jewish Joseph Bara Matthias,
a plain patriot, forever lost to fame, hanging for
his bleeding country from the arms of a Roman

On the other hand, we must not forget that if
men are not sub-human, neither are they, in any
high percentage, super-human; and that a dozen
fishermen picked up indiscriminately at Cape Cod
would have at least as many points of perfection,
if not of imperfection, as an equal number of poor
wretches starving about the borders of Galveston
or Galilee. With all their faults, the slandered
and tattered patriots of Josephus, bespattered
with grime and gore, seem immeasurably more hu-
man and real than the faded wraiths whom we
see as if through gossamer, fitted with translucent
haloes, and flitting through the pages of the
apocryphal gospels.

In searching for their identification we must not
lose sight of the times and manners of that period
when surnames were not so stable as they are to-
day; that, in those days, names were changed
without the authority of an act of assembly ; that
most names, unlike personal appellations of to-
day, which are generally meaningless vocables,
had then definite meanings and, among a polyglot
people, were frequently not only transliterated
but actually translated from one language into
another ; and often an epithet, or title,^ especially


if merely transliterated and not translated, grad-
ually integrated into a name.

This last mentioned process we perceive in
operation in the New Testament. In the Gospels
generally the Greek article " /to," that is, " the,"
is used before the word " lesous," while it is
omitted universally in the Epistles, the birth
stories and in the Apocalypse. " The Jesus,"
that is, " the Liberator," loses the article and,
therefore, its descriptive force, and becomes
" Jesus " in the later writings, integrating from
an epithet into a name. This very fact proves
that the Epistles are the later writings of the New
Testament, in spite of historical allusions inserted
in the text for the purpose of " aging " the docu-
ments. A little reflection will then show us that
" the Jesus " was not his name, but a title be-
stowed by worshipping admiration, and that his
real name must be sought for elsewhere.



"To understand a thing that seems obvious, or 'in-
evitable,' is among the problems that genius alone can solve
in a complete way."

In the history of Josephus it will be noticed
that the great central figure of the narrative of
the " Wars " is the man this historian marks out
for his blackest calumnies, the greatest general
of the Jews, the patriot whose unfailing faith in
God, and hope in the direct intervention of Divine
Providence worked out his own undoing and that
of his unhappy country; the man who, leading
undisciplined multitudes from Tyre to Idumea,
and from Perea to the sea, repeatedly defeating
the finest disciplined armies and the greatest mili-
tary geniuses the Roman Empire could produce,
— was Simon Bar Giora. Unrecognized under
his titular name of " the Liberator," this great

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Online LibraryJohn Ira RiegelSimon, son of man; a cognomen of undoubted historicity, obscured by translation and lost in the resplendence of a dual appellative → online text (page 1 of 16)