Man – Myth or Son of God?
One of my endeavours has led me to explore the conundrum posed by Jesus of the Christian faith and his historicity. Did such a historical figure ever really exist? What if the Jesus of the New Testament fame had been adapted from a Hebrew prototype named Yeshua? Such questions triggered a riveting and compelling search for facts which resulted in a lengthy document entitled Seeking Jesus in All the Right Places .
It is commonly agreed that the gospel writers were heavily inspired by the Five Books of Moses – known as the Torah – and by the Book of [Hebrew] Prophets.
So am I – but from a secular perspective.
As a result of this inspiration, a flow-on project became the short novelisation of the last twenty-four hours in the life of Yeshua/Jesus, which relies heavily on research gathered while writing the document mentioned above.
This piece, titled From Gethsemane to Arimathea , begins moments before Yeshua’s arrest in the gardens of Gethsemane. The last scene takes place in the garden belonging to Yosef of Arimathea for it is on this land that, hewn out of the cliff face, stood the rich merchant’s family burial chambers – one of which, it is said, he made available for the body of Yeshua.
Culturally and religiously speaking, the womenfolk closest to Yeshua [his wife, Myriam Magdalene, his mother, Myriam, and his sister, Salome] could not visit the rock burial chamber until after the Jewish celebrations of Pesach and the compulsory days of ‘sitting shiva’ had been observed.
Thus, it was on the 29th day of Nissan [fifteen days after Yeshua expired on a Roman cross] that the women, the first mourners to pay their respects, went to the chamber and were most surprised to find it empty.
Morning light beamed down from the opening in the high ceiling. The air inside the burial chamber was dry. In the chiaroscuro, two stone benches were easily discernible. Perhaps, it was there that the women’s eyes had expected to find the shrouded body of Yeshua, but both benches were empty.
Salome pointed to what appeared to be a length of white linen neatly folded in a corner near the head of one of the benches. Heartbeat quickened by the anticipation of the shrouded, inert body of her husband, breath suspended by its unexpected absence, Myriam Magdalene stepped further, but dizzily, into the cave. The smell of death filled the chamber but where was the body of her beloved husband?
This point in the retelling of events, the [alleged] Ascension, as it came to be known, has shaped more than two thousand years of secular western culture in ways that are difficult to fathom – and in that lies my newfound enthusiasm for the topic.