Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joshua Ben David and the Royal Myth

The Holy Thorn, Glastonbury, England. Legend says it grew after Joseph of Arimathea stuck his staff into the ground at that spot. It flowers at Christmas and Easter. (Jim Champion, Wiki Commons)Dan,Corn
At breakfast this morning, the subject of the subject of Easter arose…but not from the dead. It arose because the breezy, sunny morning seemed to call for a longer time sitting at breakfast, looking at the distant moor across the river Tamar in Devon. And it happened that my husband, Simon, who was raised by strict Anglicans, asked if anyone during the life of a Jewish rabbi named Joshua Ben David called him Christ.

How could my husband, who is quite well-read and well-travelled, have missed the fact that Christosfrom the Greek for annointedwas an honorific hung round the neck of this married Jewish rabbi much later? Later, when the myth was being created that he was unwed (which would have been very, very odd for a son of the royal House of David, and a 30-year-old rabbi) and that he was a rabble rouser who courted death to bring all souls to a God unknown in the world until that moment. One might almost say, in fact, that the creators of the myth were also creating a God.

And so they were. And so it is about time to issue a disclaimer: Anyone who is a fundamentalist about Christian thought might as well stop reading now. If, however, you are able to entertain the possibility that Christianity is no more than a myth, if indeed, a pretty good one, read on.

Years ago, I discovered books written by the late Laurence Gardner, a prolific British writer  who had traced the lineages of the royal houses of Europe (and influenced the work of Dan Brown). Their claim of the right to rule was based, in fact, on their own knowledge of their descent from Jesus of Nazareth, as Joshua Ben David became known post-humously, who his followers claimed was the son of God. They based that claim on what they posthumously reported as his own words, referring to his father in heaven.

A new, blue heaven
Interesting, that. At the time, there was no concept of heaven as we know it. The Romans didn’t have it, nor did the Jews in the way it was spoken of. The only culture of that time/world that had a concept of an afterlife was the Druids.

And now we get to Joseph of Arimathea, the rich man who supposedly gave his burial chamber to Joshua Ben David’s family to bury him after he was crucified by the Romans. Or by the Jews, depending on whose hands you wish to splash that blood.

What blood? Indeed, it is likely Joshua, like most criminals, was hanged by ropes. Certainly, some died. But Joshua was offered “gall” as he hung on the cross. In all likelihood, it was a Druid potion making it possible for him to endure, or to seem to have died when in fact he was in a coma of sorts and thus was cut down, according to Gardner. Later, he awakened, arose, and went to France with his WIFE Mary Magdalen.

Druids helped Jesus live
The real story of Joshua Ben David, pieced together by numerous historians, is complex, and using this small space won’t tell it all. So, jumping around is necessary.

Back to that Druid thing. Joseph of Arimathea was not just a rich man. He traded in metals. He traded in Cornwall; there is little doubt that he also took Joshua Ben David with him on a trip to Glastonbury, there to meet Druids.

And there is where Joshua Ben David, future rabbi, acquired his belief in an afterlife. Of all the known populations at the time, only the Druids believed in an everlasting cycle of life, and that belief made them much less fearful of death than other folk. They didn’t think of it as a bearded old man sitting on a cloud with a sidekick deciding whether to let people into heaven or not; neither did Joshua. When he referred to his “father”and remember, this is only from translations of translations of translations, all of them written no less than 50 years after his “death” (can you recall what happens to statements when kids play ‘telephone’?)he referred to the origin of mankind. Not to a definable entity. His belief was clearly that it was incumbent upon mankind to be loving with each other and to be thankful that we had such a magnificent world in which to play out this phase of our eternality. No more, no less.

British royals, and Celtic Warrior Kings
And so we skip to the royal houses of Europe; they believe they derive their divine right from God, the God they think Joshua Ben David explained to one and all, or at least to those living around the Mediterranean about 2000 years ago. Since evidence points to Joshua of the royal house of David moving to France and raising a family, they have a point. But why not let the hoi polloi know this? Why keep it a secret, and try to convince the hoi polloi of the ludicrous myth of a ghost dude walking around and then ascending like a puppet hauled up on invisible strings to a place above the clouds where his lesser throne would perch beside Dad’s? Why?

Because the rest of the world’s royals at the timeCeltic warrior kings, examplederived their power from killing more enemies and stealing more cattle than other king wannabes did. So, in fact, perpetuating the myth would make it possible for rulers to rule with barely the tip of a rapier insulting the body of a foe.

For that alone, making governmental succession less bloody (in theory; note that even English kings and queens drew blood, often a lot of it, but at least they could then say they were doing God’s work and not just participating in a major cattle raid), perhaps the myth of Jesus Christ, the embroidering of the doubtless thoughtful life of Rabbi Joshua Ben David, should be thanked.

Thanked, but not necessarily believed.