Jesus Never Existed – Christianity's Fabrication Factory
Shalem's Sacred water
The Ophel Ridge (or
Eastern Hill) running south from Temple Mount.
The ridge was first occupied during
the Bronze Age. The attraction was the Gihon
the only water source within a radius of five miles. The earliest settlement
was named for the Syrian sun-god Shalem.
dug the first subterranean tunnel from the spring, making use of
a natural sink hole in the hill above.
It is this so-called "Warren's
Shaft" that defenders of the faith argue was used by the warriors
of King David to take the city by stealth.
The pools of Siloam remained
outside of "David's" city.
Hezekiah's tunnel – meanders for 1500 feet to
terminate at the pool of Siloam. If Hezekiah ever
built a pool himself it remains unknown.
Overflowing water fed a
secondary pool (Birket el-Hamra, "the Red Pool").
Siloam: recycled "sacred space"
The Siloam water courses terminated in a "sacred" pool
where the Emperor Hadrian built a temple, the Byzantines a church and
the Muslims a mosque.
in the year 333, the Pilgrim of Bordeaux described this Hadrianic nymphaeum:
"Also as you come
out of Jerusalem to go up Mount Sion, on the left hand, below in the
valley, beside the wall, is a pool which is called Siloe and
has four porticoes; and there is another large pool outside
it. This spring runs for six days and nights, but on the seventh day,
which is the Sabbath, it does not run at all, either by day or by night."
In the 5th century, the Empress
Eudocia replaced the Hadrianic shrine with a Christian basilica. By then
the notion that "Jesus
had performed a miracle here" was well established.
In the 9th century the Christian church was itself replaced
by a mosque.
Siloam pool today
The "other large pool" described by the Pilgrim of Bordeaux
was lost until recently. Less than 200
yards from the first, it was rediscovered in 2004. With poor maintenance,
the pool had silted up during the Christian era and had eventually been
The new pool was much larger than the first, about 225
feet long and perhaps as wide (much remains under a garden). Four sets
of stone steps led into the water, allowing bathers to enter at its varying
Siloam pool II
Hadrianicnymphaeum at Sagalassos,
Without embarrassment, today's apologists are quite happy
to reassign the Jesus wizardry to this new (and much more impressive!)
pool – which is either the largest Jewish ritual bath ever found – or
a standard Roman nymphaeum!
Nymphaeum were common to Roman cities, particularly
in the eastern provinces.
The impressive nymphaeum at
In a later age, when their faith enjoyed
the benevolent support and advocacy of the Roman state, the Christians
were able to retro-fit a sacred
landscape within the Palestinian littoral. It
would of course match the pious dreamscape pre-figured in the
gospel fable. A Jesus trail, a perambulations between sanctified
venues, would, by the 6th century, give concrete form to a sacrificial
journey already established in the Christian mind as both profane
As it was, in the less favoured circumstances
of the 2nd century, the evangelists of divine message
and miracle prepared the ground with fancies of their own.
Where Jesus venues were not entirely unstated – a vagueness which
left plenty of scope for imaginative "placement" – they
were shrewdly calculated to scupper the competition and expropriate
the magic of earlier gods.
The first target of the Christians was the
parent faith that had given rise to their heresy – Judaism.
pre-history of a "Jesus miracle at the pool of Siloam"
"The Valley of the Cheesemongers
... extended as far as Siloam; for that is the name of a fountain
which hath sweet water in it, and this in great plenty also." – Josephus,
"And Jesus said unto him, Go, wash
in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation,
Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." – John
The Gihon spring rises
within a cave at the foot of the Ophel hill. The spring's habit
of gushing intermittently – the effect of a natural siphon – probably
added to the awe and sacredness of a water source which could determine
life or death in terrain at the edge of a desert. The gently flowing Gihon even
gave its name to one of the four rivers of Eden, dreamed up by
the author of Genesis.
The runoff from the stream flowed down the Kidron
valley and pooled at a low point where the Kidron met with the
Tyropoeon and Hinnom valleys. It was this pooling of water at the
convergence of three valleys which encouraged Canaanite settlement
of the hill above. The spot would in time be known as Siloam (aka Siloah),
perhaps derived from the Hebrew shalah meaning "sent" (that
is, by God). Both the spring and the pool must have been revered
as "holy" from
the earliest times.
Hezekiah digs a tunnel
If the Book of Kings is to be believed,
in the early 7th century BC Hezekiah ordered the construction of a tunnel
through the Ophel hill to protect the township's water supply (2 Kings 20.20).
Apparently the Assyrians were threatening the city. The ancient
Jebusite water channel – external to the original town – and
a tunnel from the 7th century BC are real enough.
Biblical enthusiasts trumpet the tunnelling achievement
as if it proved some special attribute of the Jews. Though the
tunnelling is impressive the technique of crews digging from either
end was well-known in the ancient world. Hezekiah's diggers made
many false turns and actually dug a tunnel 1500 feet long to cover
a distance of 1000 feet. They tunnelled under 150 feet of rock
at an average width of two feet.
There is a similar, and more impressive, water tunnel
on the Greek island of Samos, the Tunnel of Eupalinos.
It passes under the 900 feet high Mount Castro and is 3400 feet
At some point in Judaean pre-history a rain
which associated the natural valley reservoir with a sanctuary
on the hill above and sacrifices to the god Baal. Later,
Israelite settlers adopted the ritual and they made it their own – the Feast
Tellingly, when the author of 1 Kings describes the sanctification
of the first temple, he refers not to the Hebrew month of Sukkot but
to the Canaanite Ethanim:
"And all the men of Israel assembled themselves
unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the
– I Kings
When the biblical fable was fully developed
the thanksgiving was retrospectively attached to the supposed Exodus from
Egypt and a commemorative of God's bounty during "forty
years in the wilderness". The "tabernacles" refer to
temporary shelters made from branches beneath which the wandering
Israelites were said to have eaten (for forty years!) "manna
In the Feast of Tabernacles priests carried
water from the pool of Siloam to the temple precinct, where
they sprinkled it on the altar of the burnt offering, paraded about
with palm fronds and made an appeal to God for rain in the coming
Siloam and Tabernacles stood
at the heart of Judaism – and the author of John is
determined that his hero will displace that creed entire. Among
other things Jesus is the real "manna
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Moses gave you NOT that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth
you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which
cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." –
In the hands of gospeller John "Jesus" would replace the
whole nine yards of ritual and religion with nothing less than
– and nothing more than! – himself.
The Jesus "miracle at the pool
of Siloam" appears only in the gospel of John,
although restoring a blind man's sight was a stock item on
the miracle menu.
At Bethesdaa word
from the godman was all that it required to affect a cure. But
in the Siloam yarn the recipe for healing is far more elaborate.
JC first rolls mud patties with his own spit (that's
quite some spittle!) and places them on the blind man's
Untypically, Jesus approaches the man, not
"When he had thus spoken, he spat on the
ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes
of the blind man with the clay." – John 9.6.
Why the peculiar ritual? The
miracle has already been set up in John 7. The Lord's
feast (Leviticus 23)
has become "the Jew's feast" – it is of course the Feast
of Tabernacles – and the writer of John invents a spurious "scripture" about
a belly and "living
"Now the Jew'sFeast
of Tabernacles was at hand ... then went he also up
unto the feast ... Jesus answered ... I am from him, and he
hath sent me ... In the last day, that great day of the feast,
Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let
him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on
me, as the scripture hath said, out
of his belly shall flow rivers of living water " – John
The punch line is given in chapter 9. The mud pies
are to be washed off in the sacred pool of the Jews.
"And said unto him, Go, wash in the
pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.)
He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." – John
There is no historical truth in any of this: it
is an overly contrived scenario with a theological purpose. For
the gospeller, Judaism has been superceded by faith in Christ.
The healed man is a symbolic Jew, blind since
birth, not a sinner, but a necessary mission for Jesus.
"Jesus answered, Neither hath this
man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of
God should be made manifest in him. I must
work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:
the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in
the world, I am the light of the world." – John 9.3,5.
By obeying Jesus (washing in the
pool) the Jew both "sees the light" (receives his sight)
and imbibes the "living water" of Christ. The Feast
of Tabernacles and the whole paraphernalia of Judaism are
at an end. The entire chapter 9 of John is taken up with
this single story.
It one sense, the "miracle" is a substitute
for the trial of Jesus by the Jews found in the synoptic gospels.
The unbelieving Jews question the miracle and the Pharisees are
divided about it (it is, after all a sabbath day!) The
parents of the erstwhile blind man "fear the Jews" (John 9.22)
but know the truth. By gospel standards, there follows a lengthy
debate between the healed man himself and the recalcitrant Jews.
"I have told you already, and ye
did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will
ye also be his disciples? ... If this man were not
of God, he could do nothing.
They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether
born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him
out." – John 9.27;34.
With the symbolic Jew "cast out", Jesus
accepts the new believer and passes judgment on the willful Pharisees.
The whole tale is pure theology, encapsulating the
entire Christian revolution. The Siloam miracle story is
a proxy for the 2nd century conflict between Jewish orthodoxy and
the new Christian heresy.
Having Eyes to See
Interestingly, blindness – a punishment
from God – features in the disconcerting tale of David's
capture of the fort of Jebu. The blind are "hated
of David's soul". Nice.
"And David said on that
day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites,
and the lame and
the blind that are hated of David's soul, he
shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and
the lame shall not come into the house. So David dwelt in the
fort, and called it the city of David." – 2 Samuel
In the Jesus tale, all are blind who fail to accept
the new Lord and "Light of the world"!
"Good Shepherd Jesus" is
also the "Door of the Sheep Pen"!
Gospeller John continues with his theme
of Jesus supplanting the whole of Judaism, with his yarn moving
on to the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah)
and with Jesus now both a "door" (to
salvation) and a shepherd to the sheep.
Accordingly, he locates
his hero in Solomon's Porch, the towering
entrance to the Temple described by Josephus (see below). Alarmingly, John has
Jesus declare that all previous prophets and patriarchs have been "thieves
"All that ever came before me are
thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I
am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be
saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." – John
As Jesus now declares he is God ("I and
my Father are one" – John 10.30) the
enraged Jews attempt to stone him. JC however deftly avoids capture
and makes good his escape. As if.
Again, the flimsy topographical marker (the Temple
porch) is not an historical reference but merely an anchor for
another swipe at an obsolete Judaism. Jesus is the whole deal,
in one convenient package. Acts uses the same device,
having the Jews who witnessed Peter's healing miracle "run
together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly
wondering" (Acts 3:11).
Where DID they get
their ideas from?
One of the few features of Herodian Jerusalem
referred to by the author of John's gospel is Solomon's
"And Jesus walked in the temple
in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him,
and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt?
If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." – John
A touch of authenticity? Don't you believe
it. Our old friend Josephus provided "John" with
all the information he needed:
"Solomon began to build the
temple in the fourth year of his reign ... the king
laid the foundations of the temple very deep in the
ground, and the materials were strong stones, and such
as would resist the force of time ... As to
the porch, they built it before the temple;
its length was twenty cubits, and it was so ordered
that it might agree with the breadth of the house;
and it had twelve cubits in latitude, and its height
was raised as high as a hundred and twenty cubits." – Josephus,
Here, as in all other instances where "detail" is
cited, the gospel writer says nothing not found in the
works of the Jewish historian or another contemporary source.
The evangelists always say less and but never
more than their unacknowledged sources.
Sources: Robert Gordon, Holy Land, Holy City (Paternoster,
2004) H. J. Richards, Pilgrim to the Holy Land (McCrimmons,1985) S. Gibson, J. Taylor, Beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Palestine
Exploration Fund, 1994) Joan Taylor, Christians and Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian
1993) Martin Biddle, The Tomb of Christ (Sutton, 1999) Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, The Holy Land (Oxford, 1986) Karen Armstrong, A History of Jerusalem (HarperCollins, 1997)
organisation, authority and membership preceded
rather than followed the justifying doctrine. As
the organisation and its needs changed so has the ‘Testament
of God’ adapted accordingly. Dogma – The
Word in all its Savage Glory