Christ Unborn: A Cursory Joint Review of Faur’s The Gospel According to the Jews and Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah

By David Ramírez

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The present review will attempt to cover two books that form a criticism of the historical Jesus, the alleged founder of Christianity, and the early Christian Church. The first one is titled The Gospel According to the Jews (Moreshet Sepharad, 2012), written by rabbinic scholar José Faur, provides a unique perspective based on Jewish and Roman sources. The second one titled Caesar’s Messiah (Ulysses Press, 2005), written by freelance researcher Joseph Atwill, gives us a fresh and innovative radical perspective based on a comparative literary analysis between the Gospel canon (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and Flavius Josephus works. Through different methodologies and departing assumptions, both Faur and Atwill coincide that Christianity was a Roman-Alexandrian creation for the manipulation of the masses, which eventually crystallized with the formalization of the Catholic Church as the only official and absolute religious institution of the empire in the 4th century CE (Common Era). The reason why I decide to write such joint review, beyond mentioning the merits of both theses, is to point at certain aspects of their reasoning and management of sources that I did not find cohesive, but also to indicate that when reading and considering both in tandem, a third possible explanation as to how Christianity originated may emerge.

For full disclosure, I am not familiar with Josephus works or the scholarship surrounding them, reason why I will not be too critical of Atwill’s comparative textual analysis at any depth, though I will mention the good points I think are worth for consideration as well as its weaknesses. In preparation for this review, I not only read his Caesar’s Messiah, but also its reviews (pro and con), his blog where Atwill responds to critics, and interviews where Atwill further explains and clarifies the ramifications of this work. Neither am I a scholar on 1st century Judea or early Christianity; though I am acquainted somewhat with their scholarship and academic controversies, these are subjects I do not invest much thought or time to study as my concentration lies in Rabbinics and Sephardic history, reason why I am more invested in Faur’s work and intimately familiar with his writings. I, as Faur, am a Sephardic Jew whose own historical destiny has been distinctly affected by Christianity in major negative ways, particularly by the Catholic Church, effects of which we have to live with to this day. So I cannot say I am free of my own biases and grudges, or will stay silent or deferential on the matter when asked. However, in order to be sensible to the Christians of faith today who might be reading this review – who are not at fault for how their religion came to be 2,000 years ago – I must warn that Faur’s and Atwill’s deconstruction of early Christian history and texts will prove incendiary and iconoclastic to their own beliefs, but at the same time I must point out that Christians – past and present – have engaged and keep engaging in the deconstruction, sometimes destruction, of Jewish history and texts – and even of the Jewish people. Pause and reflect on that for a moment. Faur’s and Atwill’s work is not a game to “get even” with the mob; far from it. They both acknowledge the good things that the Jesus of the Gospels has inspired the people of good will to do; their work ultimately is a cautionary tale of how a political elite has employed religion and God to pacify, enslave and manipulate the masses, at the same time scapegoating minorities or dissenters, among whose favorites have been the Jews. Being that Western civilization owes much to the events happening between the 1st and 4th centuries, I think nobody can remain indifferent to the figure of Jesus, whether he’s thought as real or imagined; this is my own response to it: Onto the review now.

Faur’s thesis proposes that the historical Jesus that Jews and Christian Jews knew was a mentally challenged sorcerer with close ties to the tax-collecting Jewish elite subservient to the empire, who had the misfortune to had a run in with the Roman authorities, who in turn put him to death without justification. Furthermore, he explains why the Gospel canon is a Christian non-Jewish doctored version – based on the historical life of Jesus, whose original Jewish followers were eventually crushed by their gentile Christian competitors, and their writings destroyed by said competitors – with the purpose to demonize, mock and replace Jews as verus Israel. Atwill’s thesis attempts to prove that the Jesus figure is a fictional character created by assimilated Greco-Roman Jews working for the Flavian dynasty (69-96 CE), in order to mock a string of Jewish zealot leaders uprising against the Romans during the 1st century, and at the same time create a passive version of messianic Judaism subservient to the empire, one that would eventually eclipse the aggressive one.

Faur’s The Gospel According to the Jews is divided in four sections: A Clash of Civilizations (I), Jesus Life and Ministry (II), Jesus’ Trial (III) and The Alliance Cross-Sword (IV). In Section I, Faur gives a light introduction on the differences between Pagan and Jewish thinking, which serves as the background to the psychological worldview of the ancient world where Judaism flourished and Christianity first saw light. In Section II, Faur gives us a Jewish reading of the Christian gospels, where he ventures in extrapolating the personality and social background of the Gospel Jesus and compares it to the few mentions and allusions to Jesus found in the Talmud, and existing references in Pagan and Judeo-Christian sources. In Section III, the book shows how the whole scene of Jesus’ passion is strikingly similar to the Trial of Carabas,[1] a 1st c. mock-trial designed by the Alexandrian mobs to deride the Jewish king Herod Agrippa (10 BCE – 44 CE), as recorded by the 1st century Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE – 50 CE). Faur speculates that Jesus’ passion, the most important event in Christian theology, was designed for theatrical representation to emotionally enrapture an unsuspecting public. Section IV is a description on the marriage of religion and political power in the service of the Roman state, and within this process the hijacking of Hebrew Scripture to render them null and void, and presenting a new “improved” version (the New Testament) friendly to Roman interests. These mechanisms, once designed and deployed, have repeatedly being used in Western history, whether in their religious or secular iterations.

The section I found most thought provoking was number II. On the one hand because Faur goes through the trouble of drawing a parallel between the Jesus of the Gospels and the brief allusions to Jesus found in the Talmud. Among the most salient aspect of this parallel is the description of Jesus’ friendly relations with the Publicans, the tax-collecting elite working for the Romans, and prostitutes; and fiercely antagonistic to the Pharisees and Jewish norms of behavior. These episodes are often perceived by the Christian faithful as Jesus being the friend of the outcasts and enemy of oppressive authorities. However, one fact that passes unnoticed is the role Publicans played in ancient Rome. In the words of Heber Youtie,

“The publicani came to terms with each town and agreed on the acceptance of fixed amounts. The towns gathered in the taxes themselves. This was a show of fiscal autonomy that in the end did not make sense. The publican firms lent money to the towns to enable them to meet their obligations, and the towns were soon in debt that could never end. By connivance with corrupt magistrates they impoverished the provinces to their own aggrandizement. This device of self-perpetuating loan is a characteristic of predatory enterprises that unfortunately still flourishes. Ultimately, the publicani became a threat to the empire.[2]

And the question that Faur poses with such relations is,

“We should bear in mind that these men were heartless criminals, who made Roman occupation of the land of Israel possible. To consort with these sort of criminals at the time of Jesus was not less offensive to Jews of that era than it was to the French, when their men and women fraternized with the Nazis during the German occupation (1940-1944).” (Section II, Part 12)

Sure enough, even by today’s standards, how would anybody from respectable society be so kin on following a religious or political leader who makes a habit of publicly canoodling with extortionists and known prostitutes?

Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah is divided in 16 chapters, with an Introduction and Conclusion. Its approach is much simpler, yet his comparative textual analyses are at times transparently compelling and at times too convoluted. Atwill begins his thesis by explaining the complex political landscape of 1st c. Judea under Roman control, the accommodations of assimilated Jews with their Roman overlords, and the motivations of the Flavian dynasty and their acolytes to intercede and placate Jewish dissenters. Atwill’s attempts to make a case that the sequence of events found in the official Gospel canon and Josephus’ War of the Jews are too strikingly similar to each other to ignore. This comparison with the Gospel stories is made through underlining the historical details of the Roman military campaign, as written by Josephus, to violently suppress Jewish revolutionaries trying to free Judea from Roman rule, and linking their similarities through analogy and some possible philological connections. For Atwill, the Gospels are meant as a satire reflecting the real history of the Roman war with the Jews. This satire, his thesis goes, was used as a form of entertainment for the Flavian elite, one that would poke fun at committing genocide on Jews who had dared to defy Roman rule, and particularly to jokingly deride the Jewish insurgent leaders – now embodied in the Gospel Jesus – inciting the rebellion. Surely, another Roman way to pass a moment of leisurely relaxation at the spectacle of death so dear to Roman civilization, where – of course – it showed everyone who was boss. Only the educated Flavian elite familiar with Josephus’ works, says Atwill, would be able to decode the satire locked within the Gospels, which need to be read as an ensemble to piece together the sum of the whole. Eventually, so Atwill speculates, people forgot these Gospel stories were satirical representations of history, and became the history of Jesus’ life.

Until now we have reviewed the major aspects of both theses. Now I will explain what I did not find cohesive with both works.

Based solely on the reliability of the sources available, there are several things one must consider. In the case of Faur’s The Gospels According to the Jews, he is relying on Talmudic sources, and references to Christian Jews and their writings – those who allegedly knew Jesus first-hand, and their descendants – left in Christian and Muslim sources. The stories and legal discussions in the Talmud were put together between the 3rd and 5th centuries (during the consolidation of Christianity and before the advent of Islam) in Sasanian Babylonia – region comprising today’s Iraq, where Christians have remained a minority to this day. And the Talmud itself was probably not committed to writing until between the 8th and 10th centuries.[3] The Christian sources speaking of Christian Jews, and faint allusions to their writings, come from the 2nd century (Origen) and 3rd century (Eusebius), and a Muslim source from circa 10th-11th century[4] speaking about a surviving community of Christian Jews. In the case of Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah, the Gospel canon as we know it today was not put together and sanctioned by Roman Emperor Constantine’s Church until the 4th century,[5] and regarding Josephus’ works as we know them today, they are highly suspect for having gone through heavy editing and doctoring by Christian scribes during the low Middle Ages.[6] There is no single extant 1st century work or written scrap of papyrus, clay shard or stone having a full reference of the Gospel Jesus as clear and undisputed evidence.[7] Purely from a historiographical perspective, we are – in the words of Biblical scholar Robert Eisenman addressing Atwill’s research – “looking into the abyss.”

The Talmudic sources alluding to Jesus are very brief, sometimes vague and mutually contradicting. There are different stories, different possible “Jesuses,” different chronologies and different versions of the same text.[8] Being that the Talmud is a collection of statements from different Rabbis living in different time periods, it would have been illuminating if Faur had given us a chapter or section addressing those sources, or at least the ones he chooses to use, and categorically explaining why those Talmudic statements were sound proof to his starter suppositions. Furthermore, Faur, who is a Talmudic scholar, does not tell us what are the qualifiers for those Rabbinic statements. Elsewhere, he is pretty fastidious about presenting us the most reliable manuscripts and the contextual explanation on any given Talmudic text, as well as the philological nuances and historical context within it. This time he has not. And how can we know that whatever allusions to Jesus in the Talmud were not colored in response to the missionary attempts of Christian sects then living in Sasanian Babylonia?

Faur’s presentation of Jesus is very disorienting. He begins as a polemicist, and ends as an apologist. In his attempts to prove with both the Gospel stories and the Talmudic statements that Jesus was a mentally challenged sorcerer with close ties to the tax-collecting assimilated Jewish elite working for the Romans (which includes a healthy dose of Jesus’ bad habits, among many other things), Faur plays the polemicist. Then, he presents us in Part 17 an ambiguous position of the Rabbis towards Jesus, suggesting that the Rabbis did not find the Gospels to be credible reports of the real Jesus. At the end of Section II, he states in a post-script that, “I personally do not believe that the improper conduct that the Christian Scripture ascribed to Jesus is grounded on historical facts.” In Section III, he ends with a discussion that the Gospels are an Alexandrian invention. That roller coaster ride of opinions left me asking, in the end, which one is Faur’s Jewish reading of the Gospels?

Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah is far more consistent with the point he tries to make, but in his attempts to square away his thesis he commits a series of implausible conjectures that need to be reassessed. The most glaring example is the idea that the Gospels were created with the aim to fashion a pacifist version of messianic Judaism that would influence Sicarii sympathizers, the ones wrecking havoc to pax romana in Judean territory. The Sicarii were the most violent of Jewish religious zealots rebelling against the Roman empire, who did not even find favor with Jewish moderates. The Gospels not only contain elements of pagan religious beliefs, but also features that run contrary to Jewish sensibilities: the virgin birth, the ritual cannibalism of the Eucharist, breaking the Sabbath, “giving Caesar what belongs to Caesar” – to name a few. It is impossible, being the extreme Jewish religious zealots that they were, that the Sicarii would even faintly entertain such ideas, much less accept them, especially giving Caesar what he wanted, which was not only taxes but also be worshiped like a god!! These were the very reasons why they constantly rebelled. Next is the idea that the Flavian educated elite would hire Alexandrian Jews to craft the Gospels, including the Pauline letters, on account that they were more familiar with Judaism and therefore able to create a more believable version palatable to Jews. On the one hand the whole scheme is too convoluted and too sophisticated for a Roman elite so keen to gladiatorial death spectacles, sumptuous banquets and drinking, and free-range sexual frolicking; in other words, their interest did not lie in subtle sophisticated satirical plays that need to be decoded for a moment of reflective entertainment, but how to maintain their power that would afford them their brainless carnal perversions and excesses.[9] On the other, anyone even faintly acquainted with Jewish customs and laws could not buy the idea that the convening of the Jewish court to plot Jesus’ arrest would happen at night and on the eve of the Passover – as the Gospels portray. Any person acquainted with Jews in Pagan antiquity and today would know how involved and complex are the preparations for the Passover feast to even entertain the idea of bringing a mentally unstable person (Jesus) to trial, for a “criminal offense” (claiming to be messiah) that does not even remotely merit any punishment under Jewish law!! Furthermore, given the fact that there were many messianic-like figures trying to free Judea from Roman rule between 1 BCE and 1 CE,[10] there is no single account I have read of Jews, of any persuasion, actively working to turn in those political rebels to Roman authorities. If the Gospels were indeed written by Alexandrian Jews working for the Romans, they would not have committed such glaring mistakes if indeed the intended audience were ethnic Jews.

Nonetheless, Atwill’s idea of the Gospels as satire to lampoon Jews and Jewish revolutionaries is convincing to a certain degree, but I do not think these were intended for an ethnically Jewish audience or written by Jews, though I have to concede that the people writing them had to be somewhat familiar with Jewish texts and customs. Satire was well known in the ancient Greco-Roman world.[11]  In Faur’s work we are alerted to the possibility that Jesus’ passion takes after the mock trial of Carabas, which does not correspond to the reality of Roman trials. Furthermore, he brings to our attention that the architecture of the early Church took after the civil basilicas,[12] an architectural style of Roman public buildings that include raised platforms probably intended for public performances. One must bear in mind that theatrical representations of the birth and passion of Jesus are still very popular features in Catholicism today, happening the world over during Christmas and Holy Week respectively. Atwill also brings to our attention that the cult of Vespasian, the emperor who begun the Flavian dynasty, was supervised by the Commune Asiae, which notably were located in precisely the same cities where the “churches of Asia” were located according to Revelation 1:11.[13] This leads me to think that each of the Gospels, as a whole – and not only the birth and passion, were intended to be represented in a theater stage, which seems what Faur is suggesting. Their variations in the story are easily explainable as the variations found in the Shakespearian canon. The same way Shakespeare scholars today cannot determine the original text of Shakespeare plays,[14] or even their authorship,[15] being that each theater producer applied their own creative license to the text for whatever dramatic effect they intended, whatever the original Gospel story might had been could have gone through similar editing by ancient performers, creating slightly different versions with some mutually contradicting plots and characters. This too might explain the proliferation of different gospel versions outside the main Gospel canon prior to the 4th century. Only a thorough comparative literary study of the Gospels and ancient Greek drama would shed light on this issue.[16]

I have often heard and read references that Judaism was very popular among the masses in the 1st century CE. There were converts to Judaism as well as non-Jewish sympathizers to the synagogue co-mingling with Jews on a regular basis.[17] It is very well possible that they were a constant source for new recruits to fight against the Romans. According to the book of Acts, there was a splitting controversy between the Jerusalem church that maintained a commitment to Jewish law as a condition for accepting non-Jewish proselytes, and Paul’s approach that rejected it in favor of admitting more proselytes. The issue of circumcision as part of the conversion process was central to this controversy. Most of these proselytes came from the unlettered masses, and it would make sense how a pseudo-Judaism (i.e. Christianity) without a circumcision requirement would be more appealing to non-Jews – whether this idea was concocted by Paul (if he ever existed), the Flavians or the Church Fathers. Could it be possible, rather, that the intended target of the Gospels were these unlettered non-Jewish synagogue-sympathizers and new Jewish converts in order to disarticulate the Jewish political and military leverage?

In my humble opinion, in some ways both Faur’s and Atwill’s works are complimentary to each other. Faur’s minutely describes in all their glory the entire arsenal of Roman values embedded within the Christian scriptures that may have well served to dupe a target population. After all, when read from that perspective, beneath the golden patina of Jesus’ ministry, filled with miracles and pastoral scenes of captivated audiences, there is deep and intentional malice to demonize Jews and God’s covenant with Israel. Atwill claims the Gospels could have served to disarticulate a radical messianism, and turn – as I propose – these very unlettered sympathizers against the Jews proper. If so, it is not surprising to me now for Rabbis to have developed a negative attitude towards proselytes stemming from this experience. Furthermore, it is also understandable why Rabbis tried to suppress as much as possible the role of the Maccabees from their own literature.[18] Whatever the prevalent messianic figure might had been for Jews during the 1st century, some of which can be gleaned from the apocalyptic literature found in the Qumran scrolls, it is revealing how the messianic figure that emerges in Rabbinic literature, from the 2nd century onwards, is very ambiguous and with a lot of qualifiers difficult to meet. The experience lived by our people then, through and coming out of the 1st century, was devastating – and I can certainly see the Rabbinic response to that following such experience.

Until reading both works, I had sort of concluded that Jesus never existed. The series of messianic-like figures who littered the era, the inconsistencies in the Gospel stories, and the sudden appearance of Paul who never speaks of the Gospels and who never met Jesus-the-human, made me think that the Jesus figure was some sort of pastiche – made-up of several personalities – surviving in popular lore which took a life of its own among Jews first, then among gentile sympathizers, and these latter adapted the Jesus’ stories to a pagan world-view, which they turned against the Jews. Now, after reading both works, I am partially convinced there might had been some “intelligent” and intentional design behind – what appears to be – the greatest sham in history. Otherwise, how can one explain its success?

But what does all the foregoing mean?

For the Christian faithful, though probably taking offense, in the end it means diddly-squat. As Faur repeatedly states, the Pagan mind demands to suspend ordinary rationality and only believe what the first-party platform superior standing on the theatrical stage says to you what it is, and what it ought to be:

“In pagan humanity, the constitutive values of society are transmitted from top to bottom. ‘Authority’ warrants a Übermensch, issuing commands from a ‘first-party platform’—speaking as ‘I/we’—to a ‘third-party platform.’ As such, the ‘third-party platform’ is banned from entering into a direct dialogue (‘I/you’) with Übermensch. (Hence, the need for a ‘Holy Ghost,’ or intermediary between God and man, in Christian theology). The sole function of people inhabiting the ‘third-party platform’ is obedience.” (Introduction)

For them, Jesus “is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (Jesus),” end of discussion. It is so because the hierarchical superior (Pope, pastor or a gifted person with a special hotline to God) says so it is.

For the Christian skeptic, perhaps these works will provide more fodder to find an excuse out of Christianity, and into whatever belief or philosophy he chooses to next hold. For the scholars of Christianity, whose living literally depends on Jesus, they need to find better and more reliable sources to substantiate Jesus’ existence. For this reader, the sole fact that the Church held absolute control over intellectual property for nearly 1,000 years, effectively eliminating much of the knowledge and libraries of the ancient Mediterranean (without mentioning that it alone murdered all of its intelligentsia who wanted to remain pagan), makes the purported copies of ancient writers under their control entirely suspect—not to mention the proclivity of Christian monks to apply their creative license on ancient texts. Unless they are able to find a rich unadulterated repository like the Qumran scrolls, independent and free from Christian handling, then the whole issue of proving Jesus’ existence remains a non-starter.

For the atheist or so-called humanist, these works will only enliven their debates in derision of religion in general, and Christianity in particular. However, most do so without realizing they hold the same conceptual biases which they accuse religious people of having, as beautifully evidenced in a lively conversation about science and God broadcasted by the BBC, where rabbi Jonathan Sacks called Richard Dawkins a “Christian Atheist.”[19]

Ultimately, as Faur wishes his work to become, citing Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916), “It is only by knowing exactly where we [Jews and Christians] differ that we can hope ultimately to agree.”[20] My only wish was that he had offered a road map to move forward, once those differences are recognized—if and whether we ever get to that point.

Few recommendations: Atwill would do well to read more on Jewish thought and 1st century Judaism, and to annotate better his thesis.  Despite his shortcomings, after 9 years since its first publication, it seems that Atwill’s thesis is gaining track with Biblical scholars. His detractors do not seem to ever engage his work, and just shower him with ad hominem attacks. Atwill responses always remain levelheaded, thorough and informed. Faur would do well to recast his thesis, and better differentiate between the Gospel Jesus and the Jesus that Jews knew or did not know. And even though his work still passes unnoticed, I wonder what kind of reception it will have among the scholars of Christianity.

Whatever might be, and whatever your opinion of Jesus and the origins of Christianity might have been before reading this review, I trust you will find both works engaging, sometimes offensive, but certainly leaving you wanting to know more about this very unknown and misunderstood period of history.

 

[1] See Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough, The Scapegoat. Parts II-V. London: Macmillan and Co. 191, pp. 418-419. Cited in Faur’s The Gospels According to the Jews, n. 547.

[2] Youtie, Herbert C. “Publicans and Sinners.” The Quarterly Review of the Michigan Alumnus 43.14 (1937): 657. Print.

[3] For a full discussion on how the Talmud was put together, see Brody, Robert. The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

[4] See Pines, Sholomo. “The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source.” Akademyah ha-le‘umit ha-Yiśre‘elit le-mada‘im 2.13. Jerusalem: The Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1966.

[5] See McDonald, Lee Martin and Sanders, James A. The Canon Debate. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. Appendix D-2, note 19.

[6] See Schreckenberg, Heinz and Schubert, Kurt. Jewish Historiography and Iconography in Early and Medieval Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992. Print. Pp. 57–58. On the Arabic and Syriac extant versions of Josephus works, see Pines, Shlomo. “An Arabic version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its implications.” Kitve ha-Akademyah ha-le‘umit ha-Yiśre‘elit le-mada‘im, ha-Hativah le-mada‘e-ha-ruah.  Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1971.

[7] Although Faur uses a tomb discovered in Talipot as evidence of Jesus’ family tomb, and a clay pot referring to ‘Chrestus the magician’ in Appendix 2, the authenticity of the claims are still highly debated. On the controversies surrounding the Talipot tomb, see “Talipot Tomb.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 26 February 2007‎. Web. 9 March 2014‎. Chréstus (Χρήστος), is from the adjective “χρηστός”, chrēstós, i.e., “useful” is etymologically different from christós (χριστός), i.e. “anointed.”

[8] For a brief introduction on the scholarly controversies surrounding the Talmudic references to Jesus, see “Jesus in the Talmud.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 September 2010‎. Web. 17 March 2014‎.

[9] For an assessment of morality in the late Roman empire, see Edwards, Catherine. The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

[10] For a list of those messianic-like figures, see “Jewish Messiah claimants.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 February 2006‎. Web. 20 February 2014.

[11] See Rosen, Ralph M. Making Mockery; The Poetics of Ancient Satire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

[12] Strange, James Riley. The Emergence of the Christian Basilica in the Fourth Century. Binghamton: Global Publication. Binghamton University, 2000. p. 4, n. 8. Cf. ibid, p. 15. Cited in Faur’s The Gospel, n. 683.

[13] Caesar’s Messiah, p. 26.

[14] Schwartz, Dr. Debora B. Problems with Shakespeare’s Texts, 196-2005. Web. 29 Mar 2014.

[15] “Shakespeare authorship question.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 12 February 2002‎. Web. 24 March 2014‎.

[16] At present there is hardly any scholarship on the subject. See Brant, Jo-Ann A. Dialogue and drama: elements of Greek tragedy in the Fourth Gospel. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004. Also, I found the following link interesting, suggesting that the Gospels might have been inspired by a Seneca play using the Roman playwright device fabulae praetextae; it contains citations from Biblical scholars that recognize the Gospels have elements of Greek drama. Stecchini, Livio C. and Sammer Jan. The Gospel According to Seneca, 1996. Web. 29 Mar 2014.

[17] A book that I am yet to examine, and that may shed much light on the issue is Feldman, Louis H. Jew an Gentile in the Ancient World. Princeton: Princeton University, 1993.

[18] See David Shasha [David Shasha]. “Hanukkah Notes.” Google Groups. Sephardic Heritage Update, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.

[19] TVDebates. “Jonathan Sacks and Richard Dawkins at BBC RE Think Festival.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 12 Sep. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.

[20] At the end of the Foreword to his Jesus as Others Saw Him (New York: Bernard G. Richards Co., 1925).

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