The most famous person in human history was Jesus. His life, teachings, crucifixion and resurrection form the very basis of Christianity, yet scholars and historians have consistently called into doubt much of that basis.
A BBC documentary called Did Jesus Die? addresses many unanswered questions that arises from the biblical version of historical events in the time Jesus lived. The documentary explores the possibility that Jesus didn’t die, that he was not resurrected, but resuscitated and that he left Israel, travelling either with Mary Magdalene to the South of France or back to India.
Did Jesus really die on the cross?
Would a man die after only six hours on the cross? Was Jesus drugged? What really happened in the tomb? These are the questions that have occupied many scholars over the centuries.
That Jesus might not have died on the cross is a very explosive idea for Christians, but according to scholars, it’s hard to find solid historical evidence and the four gospels all tell different stories. In the earliest versions of the earliest gospel Mark, there are no resurrection appearances at all; the gospel simply end with the discovery of an empty tomb; the last verses that do contain a resurrection story were added 200 years later.
Mathew and Luke do have resurrection appearances but they don’t agree on the details.
What the yearly voluntary crucifixions teach us
We can learn from current re-enactments of the crucifixion that takes place every year in the Philippines that people don’t die within six hours of being crucified. What actually happens is that the person dies of suffocation, because it’s hard to breathe without supporting your weight with your legs. Yet, the Gospels all agree that Jesus died after only four to six hours.
Why did he die so quickly and why were so many herbs taken into the tomb? The herbs were aloes, which have healing properties, so did they help to revive Jesus?
If Jesus survived the crucifixion, he would still have been a condemned man. The gospels do tell of his being taken up into heaven, but again this version of events doesn’t appear in the original form of the gospel of Mark and was also added 200 years later.
South of France?
One theory is that he may have followed or traveled with Mary Magdalene to the south of France, but France would have been an unlikely choice, as France was a Roman colony and a condemned man’s first priority would have been to escape from the Romans.
He would have to leave the territory and where would he go? Traveling east would have made sense. It would have been in the opposite direction of the Roman Empire and it would have been easy to leave Israel by sea or land on the silk route or the spice route.
Did he perhaps return to where some speculates he came from – to India?
The three wise men from the East
The documentary posits the possibility that the three wise men were Buddhist monks who had traveled to Israel in search of the next Lama, which they believed to be the baby born as Jesus.
In Buddhist tradition, when a Lama dies, wise men consult the stars and set off on a long journey to find the infant who is the incarnation of the Lama.
The possibility that Jesus could have been taken to India as a child and taught as a Buddhist is borne out by the discovery made by explorer Nicolas Notovitch who traveled extensively throughout India, Tibet, and Afghanistan in 1887.
Monks at the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Hemis in the city of Leh showed Notovitch two large yellowed volumes of a document written in Tibetan, entitled The Life of Saint Issa. The document tells the story of a child named Jesus (i.e. Issa = “son of God”) born in the first century to a poor family in Israel.
Jesus was referred to as “the son of God” by the Vedic scholars who tutored him in the sacred Buddhist texts from the age of 13 to 29, exactly the time that we have no Biblical, Western, or Middle Eastern record of Jesus in Palestine. This time is known as “The Lost Years”.
Life in Kashmir?
There is a tribe in Kashmir who claim to be descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and they claim that Jesus returned to them in his thirties and lived among them till his eighties. According to this tribe, he was known as Yuzasaf, which translates to ‘leader of the healed’, and ‘the shepherd’.
The documentary is very controversial and will certainly upset Christians, but it is not sensationalist. It is worth watching, if only for historical interest.