Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

8. About Jesus / Is Jesus the Devil? |
Madman or God?

This is a continuation of the seventh segment (Miracles of Jesus) of Chapter One on Jesus of Nazareth entitled Madman or God?. It is from Volume One, The Veil is Torn, of the twelve-volume historical series: The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years. This section of the chapter puts forward the argument most likely held by those judging Jesus: that since he was not the Messiah but did demonstrate supernatural powers He must therefore be an agent of the Devil.

To the Jewish high command since His supernatural powers could not be heaven-sent, Jesus must therefore hail from the diabolical realm

To those who opposed him, therefore, it became inescapable that this man’s power, if it were not from God (a possibility they viewed as absurd), must have diabolical origins. The authorities logically concluded his miracles to be black magic and the man himself the agent of the devil. On this, both the high priestly party of the Sadducees and the party of the Pharisees agreed, though they agreed on little else.

And yet even they knew that the miracles, or magic, or whatever it was, could not alone account for his astonishing influence over the most improbable people. It was undeniable that he had been a beneficial influence in some ways. One of his followers, for instance, a man named Zacchaeus, was a former tax collector. That is, he was one of those loathsome of the loathsome, a little quisling servant of the Romans who collected Caesar’s taxes for him, overcharging and keeping whatever extra they could rake off for themselves. It was a vicious system. But this Zacchaeus suddenly up and gave half his goods to the poor and repaid the victims of his unfair assessments. With another tax collector, a certain Levi, whom they called Matthew, it was the same story.

There were loose women, like the notorious Mary, who hailed from that cesspool of sin on the west shore of Lake Tiberias, Magdala, so foul that it even appalled the Romans. Mary, however, had totally reformed, so it was said, through his influence upon her. There had been highly placed people as well—like Nicodemus, and Joseph who came from Arimathea (a town whose location is lost to history), both of them respected members of the Sanhedrin.

But most of his followers were simple people—commercial fishermen, like this Simon whom he called “The Rock,” to whom he was said to have bequeathed the leadership of his cult. The rest were mostly the sons of shepherds, or they were small businessmen and the like from the villages of Galilee, a prosperous enough region, heaven knows, peopled not only by radical Jews seething for an insurrection, but also by the whole polyglot multiracial mix that first the Greeks and then the Romans had permitted to settle there. Religiously it was a backwater, a swamp, with every manner of heresy thriving—the very sort of place, senior Temple people concluded, that a man like this could gain a following.

To continue reading from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years, Volume One — The Veil is Torn, Chapter One on Jesus of Nazareth entitled Madman or God? and would like to proceed to the next section on Jesus and the Blind Man.