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Did the Christian Church rewrite history?
In the midst of her research on the historical Jesus, scholar Lena Einhorn stumbled upon a surprising find. While reading through narratives of the Jewish revolt by first-century historian Flavius Josephus, Einhorn encountered a number of similarities to the Bible. These parallels—all limited to a short period of time—include an unnamed and mysterious messianic leader strikingly similar to the Jesus described in the Gospels—only he’s not the peaceful miracle worker we know so well.
Significantly, Einhorn found that historical records consistently place these events (which allude to the conspicuous figure in Josephus’s writings) twenty years later than in the New Testament. Twenty years, with precision, every time.
A Shift in Time explores the possibility that there may have been a conscious effort by those writing and compiling the New Testament to place Jesus’s ministry in an earlier, less violent time period than when it actually happened. In this groundbreaking book, Einhorn argues that when the bible and the accounts of first-century historians are compared side by side, it is clear that the events that shaped the Christian world were not exactly as they seem.
Elements of this emerging hypothesis were included in Einhorn’s previous book,The Jesus Mystery, originally published in Swedish in 2006 and later published in the United States. Much has happened since then and Einhorn has presented her findings in various academic forums. The publication of A Shift in Time marks the first complete presentation of the full details of the hypothesis and a discussion of its conclusions and inevitable implications.
A Shift in Time: Finding the Real Historical Jesus was a really interesting book, the kind of book that, despite its short length, took me forever to finish. I kept stopping to read a section to my husband or go online and research facts for myself. The concept is that we, as Christians, have the timeline of Christ all wrong. Einhorn believes that we are off by 20 years and sets out to prove it in A Shift in Time.
The ministry of Jesus is currently believed to have started when he was in his early 30’s and lasted only a few years before he was crucified. The big issues with this timeline is many historic documents that have survived from that time don’t reference many of the events in the gospels. The timeline is off. According to Einhorn, if we move the gospels back by 20 years (putting Jesus in his 50’s) a lot of the events line up and you can find a lot of collaboration for Biblical events. It’s very fascinating, whether you’re a Christian or not.
There was also an interesting piece of history that caught my attention and requires more research on my part. We are taught that Jesus was crucified between two thieves but if you look at the original documents the thieves are referred to as “robbers.” While “thief” and “robber” may be interchangeable today Einhorn claims that historically “robber” was a word used to refer to a Jewish rebel that was uprising and revolting against the Roman rule. Was Jesus really crucified between two Jewish rebels who were fighting against Rome?
What is also interesting is that “Zealot” as in “Simon the Zealot” and “Iscariot” as in “Judas Iscariot” was also used to refer to Jewish rebels. Were Jesus’ followers’ Jewish rebels? Were they involved in not only Jesus’ ministry but also the violent uprising against Rome? Could Jesus himself have been a rebel leader?
It’s all very interesting to read and consider. See it here.