Here’s another model for a historical Jesus that’s been rattling in my head for a couple of weeks.
A while back, I made a little post about Simon the Zealot. There I made an argument that the Simon the Zealot in the gospel narratives is the same Simon the Zealot in Josephus. Josephus’ Simon was executed (along with his brother James [the Zealot]) sometime in the mid 40s CE.
It’s telling that two of Jesus’ disciples share the same names as these two sons of Judas [the Zealot]. Not only that, but these two are also among the “pillars”. While I think that part is coincidence, I do think there’s significance that Simon the Zealot was listed as one of Jesus’ disciples in Mark and the other two Synoptics. I don’t see any reason for Simon the Zealot’s inclusion, either from a wholly literary point of view or from the traditional peace preaching Jesus historical view.
What if Jesus on the other hand was the disciple of Simon the Zealot and not the other way around?
This would mean that not only is Mark’s narrative theology; that Mark’s Jesus is mythical, but that Mark’s narrative is also apology. I think this makes sense of the silence in early Christian writings about the teachings of Jesus – because there were none. This makes sense of why no one talked about any of the Earthly activities of Jesus – because he was a revolutionary, and his actions were disreputable. That’s why they used to think of “christ” from a human point of view (2 Cor 5:16) but no longer. This might mean that Jesus was executed along with the brothers James and Simon, hence the two other criminals on the crosses with Jesus.
Though this throws the traditional dating scheme for the Jesus narrative 10 years later than it usually is. I see no reason to stick to that, since Jesus being crucified under Pilate is part of the narrative that we have no reason to think is veracious (especially since Mark is primarily theology and not biography).
So where did all of the teachings come from?
Well, we know that Paul already had some ideas that have parallels in Mark. Since Paul didn’t attribute those ideas to Jesus, and Paul precedes Mark, then Mark must have gotten those sayings from Paul or other “super-apostles” like Paul. I think we can assume that Paul and his philosophizing wasn’t restricted to Paul; that there were other Christians who were preaching similar messages and had their sermons and preaching memorized.
So a saying like “let the dead bury their dead” wasn’t uttered by Jesus, it was uttered by one of the pillars like John. The Sermon on the Mount wasn’t given by Jesus, it was given by Cephas (and attributed to Jesus) while he was caught up in the third heaven.
If the Jesus I’ve proposed is only tangentially related to the Jesus in Mark and Paul – as in, only sharing the name and the crucifixion – does this count as a historical Jesus or a mythical Jesus?