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The Violent Messiah

Probably the most significant reason why many scholars reject the idea of a historical Jesus is the fact that the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus makes no mention of him, his disciples or their activities, even though Josephus belonged to the generation immediately following that of Christ (the two verses in which he seemingly does are almost certainly later insertions by Christians).

I managed to obtain a copy of an extraordinary book by Rupert Furneaux called The Other Side Of The Story. In this book I came across a very controversial statement by Furneaux, that Simon Peter had murdered Ananias and Saphira, two land owners who were supposedly ‘struck dead by the Lord’ when they failed to surrender their money. This immediately reminded me of a Simon I had read about in Josephus’ account of the wars of the Jews, a Simon who had plundered the houses of the rich and tortured many of them. Could it be that Josephus had indeed known at least some disciples and possibly even Christ, but by other names?

It did not take long to find this Simon. His name was Simon bar Giora(s). An intensive investigation revealed the following similarities between the two characters:

1.      Simon bar Giora was the leader of the rebel faction called the sicarii, who hid their daggers underneath their cloaks. Simon Peter drew his short sword (a dagger) during Christ’s arrest.

 2.      Simon Peter

=          Simon bar Jonah 
=          Simon bar Yonah[khir] (Hebrew) 
=          Simon bar Joachim (English) 
=          Simon bar Gioacchino (Latin, Italian) 
=          Simon bar Gioa[cchino] 
=          Simon bar Gioa / Giora / Gioras / Goia

    In other words, Simon’s father was known by only the first part of his full name.

 3.     Josephus’ Jewish War: During the reign of Agrippa, Albinus, the procurator of Judea, conducted a wide-spread campaign to eliminate the sicarii and managed to capture and kill many of them. The sicarii reacted by kidnapping the children of the high priests and other officials, who were then forced to negotiate with Albinus the release of these victims in exchange for captured sicarii. 

The Acts of Peter: While Simon Peter was in Rome, four concubines of Agrippa and the beautiful wife of Albinus ‘came to Peter’, causing Agrippa and Albinus to rage and swear to kill Peter. Would these wives willingly have left the luxury and wealth of their homes to join a complete stranger? It would rather seem that they had been kidnapped either as bargaining chips or simply as an act of revenge on Agrippa and Albinus.

 4.     During Christ’s march to Golgotha the Roman soldiers put a purple robe on him, but later removed it again. Simon bar Giora was also known as Simon bar Poras, the latter word a shortened version of the Latin word purpura (porpora in Italian) for the colour purple. Simon was therefore most likely known to the Romans as Simon, son of the Purple One (Christ). When Simon bar Giora was arrested, he put on his purple cloak before he surrendered, probably as a declaration that he was the one they wanted most.

 5.    The Other Side of the Story (Furneaux): Simon Peter murdered (the wealthy) Ananias and Saphira (for their money).

     Josephus’ Jewish War: Simon bar Gioras harassed (plundered) the rich men’s houses and tormented their bodies.

 6.    The Josippon on Simon bar Gioras: “He went therefore through all the cities of Judea and Galilee, causing to be proclaimed in the streets and market places, and sent his letters where he could not come himself, in this manner and form: “Whoso listeth … let him resort to me, I will deliver him from the yoke and danger of the laws, and will find him his fill of booties and spoils.”

      In Acts Simon Peter likewise addresses a crowd, “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem… Men of Israel, listen to this…”. At that occasion three thousand followed Peter.

7.    Josephus records that a man called Simon, who was “very accurate in the knowledge of the law” was summoned to appear before Agrippa for making an inflammatory speech to the people in Jerusalem. The New Testament relates that Simon Peter had been arrested by Agrippa, and in the Toledot Yeshu Simon Kepha (Simon Peter) is described as a “greatly learned man”. The Josippon relates that Simon bar Gioras, who was of noble descent, used to be “Prince and Captain” of Jerusalem until he was banished by Ananus. A confrontation between Simon Peter and Ananus is recorded in Acts.

8.      Simon Peter was imprisoned in the Mamertine Prison before his martyrdom. Simon bar Gioras was imprisoned in the Mamertine Prison before being executed.

If Simon Peter was indeed Josephus’ Simon bar Gioras, a vicious and violent man, would the other disciples of Christ not also have been like that? In fact, would they not have followed their master in this respect? In Barbelo I show that John the Beloved was non other than Josephus’ John of Gischala, the cruellest of the three rebel faction leaders during the Jewish revolt against the Romans. For example, both John the Beloved and John of Gischala displayed homosexual tendencies and both were sentenced to life imprisonment. The third faction was led by Eleazar, most likely Christ’s Lazarus. Regarding Christ, there are numerous subtle suggestions and outright accusations that he was a violent man:

9.      James and John once asked Christ whether they should call down fire from heaven to burn up Samaria. In several legends about the activities of the Holy Apostles it is recorded how ‘fire from heaven’ destroyed cities that refused to succumb to them. In fact, Christ often threatened war and fire during his time on earth:

 I did not come to bring peace, but the sword.

 I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! ... Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.

 I have brought nothing into the world when I came, save this fire … for the purification of all the sins of the world.

 I have thrown fire upon the world, and look, I am watching till it blazes.

 Whoever is near me is near fire.

 10.  Marcion of Pontus declared Christ to be “the author of evils” and “to take delight in war”.

 11.  In Barbelo I argue that Christ, Simon Magus and Paul of Tarsus were one and the same person. Paul was rightfully accused of being Josephus’ Egyptian, who led a rebel army of 4 000 ‘terrorists’ against the Romans (Josephus’ number is 30 000). In other words, even the New Testament inadvertently acknowledge that Paul (Christ) was a violent man. According to a specific version of the Toledot Yeshu, Christ had more than two thousand armed followers with him on the Mount of Olives.

 12.  Hierocles claimed that after Christ had been banished (rejected) by the Jews, he and nine hundred of his followers had turned to robbery. The Talmud relates the story of two twin brothers, one of whom had become a robber, was caught and crucified on the cross. This is usually referred to as a  reference to Christ, and the Josippon likewise records that

             In those days there was much party strife and great disputes in Judaea between the Pharisees and the robbers in Israel who followed Jeshu’ah ben Pandera the Nasoraean, who did great miracles in Israel until the Pharisees overpower him and hanged him upon a pole.

 13.  A deposed ruler of a city sent a warning about Paul and Philip to a nearby town:

For they are sorcerers, and they have subverted my rule, and have wrought deeds of shame among my women, and scattered abroad my officers and soldiers, and overthrown my house, and plundered my city, and stolen my possessions, and blotted out my hope, and done away my goods, and destroyed my pasture, and they have made accusations against each other, and they have carried off my handmaidens.

 14.  Two vicious robbers were crucified with Christ, suggesting that they were all crucified for the same transgressions. Numerous other examples are listed in Barbelo.

To conclude, it is clear that numerous accusations of violence had been levelled against Christ and his disciples. If they had truly been the peace loving, meek and tearful men the New Testament would have us believe, not one such an accusation should have been made. In fact, it is certain that many similar accusations must have been suppressed by the early church.




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