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Historical evidence indicates that Jesus knew about Buddhism, simply because both he and it were in Judea during the same time. Other evidence, while perhaps apocryphal, indicates that he spent most of his so-called lost years outside Judea, possibly in Kashmir to study Buddhism exclusively. I owe thanks to the barbed but benign comments of my friend, Dale Bengtson.

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Regarding Buddhism in Judea, Jesus did not live in a pastoral, ethnically isolated place and time. On the contrary, non-Jewish political and cultural influences permeated Judea, which was an important shipping center for trade between India and the West and the military gateway to invade Egypt via land. Both land and sea trade routes had run through Jerusalem for centuries. Overland routes extending to Persia and western India were especially active after Alexander's invasion of western India years earlier; most of the routes, whether connecting to wealthy cities in Egypt or in Greece and Rome, came through Jerusalem, where goods for Greece and Rome were shipped via the Mediterranean Sea.

Sea routes from Bombay and the mouth of the Indus River went through the Persian and Red Gulfs, the distance between the mouths of the Indus and Tigris and Euphrates rivers being only about three hundred miles; much of the trade came up the Gulf of Aquaba and overland up to Jerusalem actually nearby Jappa as the shipping point to the Mediterranean.

During Jesus' time, Judea was a Roman dominion and most of the trade was Roman. Being the wealthiest empire of the time, Rome sent tons of gold-minted sesterces eastward for goods from India and other places. Most of this trade came over the Mediterranean and through Judea, making Jerusalem a cosmopolitan shipping center.

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Because of trade alone, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism were well known to the people in Judea. News from other lands was naturally of great interest.

Most traders provided detailed accounts of the events of cities and states along their routes, often in the form of eloquent verse. Easterners in Judea were as anxious to hear news as were Jews in Persia or western India. In addition to trade, Zoroastrians and Buddhists settled in northern Arabia, including Judea, which was only two hundred miles from Mesopotamia. The story of Jesus' birth attracting the three Magi priests, if true, demonstrated close ties with Zoroastrians.

This included Jews who welcomed Alexander's overthrow of Egyptian rule and who joined Alexander's army. About years later, Jesus dispatched Thomas, perhaps his closest and most loyal apostle, to practice Christianity in India. The descendants of these Jews continue today to reside in Kashmir or Punjab. Were Buddhists really in Judea, as Jews were in India? In Jesus' time Buddhism was already five hundred years old and had spread from India, east to southeast Asia, north to central Asia, and west to the Middle East.

The overland route westward was through what is now Afghanistan, northern Persia, and the area of Baghdad, then forked east to Palestine and Egypt or the northeast and lesser-traveled route through Syria, Turkey, and Greece. After Alexander's eastern conquests, the great India ruler Ashoka, according to Will Durant's account, "sent Buddhist missionaries to all parts of India and Ceylon, even to Syria, Egypt and Greece, where, perhaps, they helped prepare for the ethics of Christ.

While the members of these splinter groups were Jews, they rejected the worldly, rationalist, optimistic faith of Jewish mainline thinking in the Torah or Old Testament. Their beliefs were ascetic, millenarian, otherworldly, and about a god beyond reason and ordinary intelligence, as expressed by John the Baptist and partly by his protege, Jesus. Malamed discusses these differences and concludes, "Numerous scholars long ago discovered Buddhistic elements in the Gospel of John and also recognized the Buddhistic background of Essenism, by which Jesus was greatly influenced.

The conclusion is inescapable that Palestine, together with many other parts of Asia Minor, was inundated with Buddhistic propaganda for two centuries before Christ. There are strong similarities between Buddhist monastic teachings and Jewish ascetic sects, such as the Essenes, that were part of the spiritual environment of Palestine at the time of Christ's birth.

First, Jesus bypassed traditional temple and doctrine by referring to the spirit as existing within the soul or conscience of the individual. Second, Jesus stressed virtue over justice and warned explicitly against the Old Testament admonishment of an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth Matthew and against striking back at one's enemies Matthew Third, Jesus stated that the giving of alms and performing other good deeds was to be done privately if not secretly to obtain the favor of God Matthew Philo, Pliny, and Josephus mentioned them to have existed about years before Jesus, which is shortly after the time Ashoka's Buddhist emissaries arrived from India.

The name "Essene" appears to have Indic origins. Serrano explains, "The word 'Essene' could have evolved from the foreign pronunciation of the Indian word 'Eeshani. Mithras grew in importance in Persia, being associated with the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda, who was well known in Judea. Mithraism became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire during the second and third centuries and influenced many of the rewritings of Christian doctrines of the time.

Given all of these East-West trade and settlement patterns, Jesus certainly was exposed to Buddhism. Jesus would have known about Zoroastrianism and Buddhism as a teenager. The Bible refers to Jesus and his family visiting Jerusalem during annual Passover celebrations. Luke has the twelve-year-old Jesus in a Jerusalem temple talking to a group of doctors: "All those who heard him were in amazement.

The extent of Jesus' exposure to Buddhism depends on just where he was during his lost years. If Jesus lived his life only in Judea, then his exposure was minimal. If he traveled outside Judea, especially to Mesopotamia, then his exposure to Buddhist-influenced groups was increased. The Bible makes no mention of where the young Jesus lived.

Nazarene probably refers to another Jewish sect, also known as the "Nazirites," involving John the Baptist and Jesus' brother James. In Acts , Paul is referred to as "the leader of the sect of Nazarenes. Old Muslim records refer to Jesus as the "traveling prophet" and as the "chief of travelers. The Bible provides no account of Jesus' lost years between ages thirteen and twenty-nine. If Jesus was lost, where was he? Luke only generalizes: "And the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Indeed, this account introduces contrary dimension, which is that even then Jesus had his calling clearly in mind regardless of his parents' concerns.

Luke quotes Jesus' curt reply to his mother, who was worried about his whereabouts for three days: "Could you not tell that I must be in a place [the temple] which belongs to my father? Jesus certainly studied and preached during his lost years. There is no reason for Jesus to have stopped preaching, especially when as a twelve-year-old he told his mother of his commitment.

This almost certainly means that he traveled and evangelized elsewhere, as nonbiblical evidence indicates. Being one of the greatest moral prophets to ever bless humankind, he would not have spent his formative years contented to be a carpenter in his boyhood community, which would have nullified everything about his prophecy as the Messiah, his anointed birth, and his prodigious childhood. For Jesus, this had to be a period of intensive study and contemplation that was guided by some unusual teachers, and probably of evangelizing as well.

On the point of Jesus being away from Judea during his lost years, there is one suggestive incident in the Bible. When Jesus suddenly emerged from his lost years for his baptism as a twenty-nine-year-old by John the Baptist, the people were amazed to hear him speak. According to Mark they asked, "How did he come by all this? What is the meaning of this wisdom that has been given him, and of all these wonderful works that are done by his hands? Is this the carpenter, the son of Mary? Jesus supposedly arrived in India at the age of fourteen and returned to Judea at the age of twenty-nine.

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Christian churches denounced it as a hoax. The British Church Mission in India employed a professor to find and bury the documents described by Notovitch. The Anglican Church commissioned the services of F. Max Muller, the great German scholar who taught at Oxford. Muller dismissed it, largely by challenging the two main sources, namely a book of fourteen chapters and another document titled Nath Namavali preserved by the Saddhus of Yoga Nath.

Muller also cited an interview of the Himmis monastery's abbot who insisted that no documents about Jesus existed and that Notovitch never visited there. Most European languages originated at least partly from Sanskrit, which the Aryans probably already found in India due to the earlier Harappa or Saraswati civilization and then developed and disseminated the language.

A particular question was whether the Aryan populations included Semitic groups who later settled Judea and Egypt as the tribes of Israel. Twenty-five years prior to Notovitch's expedition Muller had written, "Between the language of the Buddha and his disciples, and the language of Christ and his apostles, there are strange coincidences. Even some Buddhist legends and parables sound as if taken from the New Testament, though we know that many of them existed before the beginning of the Christian era.

The Essene Gospel of Peace - (Preface)

De Bunsen stated: "The most ancient of the Buddhistic records known to us contain statements about the life and the doctrines of Gautama Buddha which correspond in a remarkable manner, and impossibly by mere chance, with the traditions recorded in the Gospels about the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ. Certainly he had a following of many frauds or fools.

These include Dr. In both cases scholarly opinion was at least initially divided and expert opinion really was required.

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Scholarly opinion seems to be that The Secret Gospel of Mark is a forgery, but that the inscription on the James ossuary is genuine; the owner of the ossuary was acquitted of the forgery charges. But it does not require specialist knowledge to see that there are some major problems with The Essene Gospel of Peace.

Szekely has come up with a clearly contrived story: a mysterious manuscript, the physical condition of which Szekely never described, which no one except Szekely has ever seen, which Szekely quickly and effortlessly translated, and which the libraries at the Vatican and in Vienna deny having, is supposed to have fabulous revelations about Jesus? And Jesus wants us to drink raw milk, eat raw food, and give ourselves enemas? Readers interested in pursuing this topic further should read Strange Tales About Jesus , by Per Beskow Philadelphia: Fortress Press, , which discusses this and other modern gospels.

Why did Szekely do it? Perhaps he did it just because he could; the man is long gone, and we cannot cross-examine him. But we absolutely cannot rely on The Essene Gospel of Peace as any sort of historical information about Jesus or for that matter anything else before about the year My own pastor is ultra liberal Jesus Seminar but he would argue Paul wrote 1 Tim. Otherwise I pretty much agree with you here. The authorship of I Timothy is still debated by some, but the basic argument looks pretty clear to me. Paul in his authentic letters also expects an imminent end to the world, and advises people not to marry.

So whoever makes this argument would need to explain why Paul changed his mind and his vocabulary. Thanks Keith, this is interesting, although i was aware there were some doubts about the authenticity of the manuscripts. So this sits at marked odds with him forging the documents. On a slightly related note, i wonder whether you have any thoughts on the authenticity of The Essene Code of Life?

The overwhelming burden of proof is on anyone who wants me to take anything written by Szekely as serious historical evidence.

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