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  • : frank beswick
  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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November 17 2011 5 17 /11 /November /2011 09:44

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In the nineteenth century a Russian traveller, Nicholas Rohrich, was talking to a Buddhist abbot in Nepal. He mentioned that Christians did not know what Jesus was doing for the first thirty years of his life. The abbot said that he was in india and Nepal and produced a document detailing the story of Jesus' travels in that land, where he is known by the Muslim name Issa. Rohrich translated the contoversial document. Initially it met with some disapproval, and Swami Abidananda set off to discredit it. However, when he translated the document he found that it said what the Buddhists said that it did.

 

The story goes that the young Jesus was keen to avoid an arranged marriage and set off with Jewish merchants to India. This is possible, as trade between the Roman empire and india was common. Brahmins recognised his spiritual standing and trained him in Indian healing techniques. However, he challenged idolatry, a key tenet of Hinduism, and even more dangerous, the caste system, resulting in a plot to kill him. Advised by friends he fled to Nepal and Tibet, where he settled with Buddhists, becoming an expert on Buddhist scriptures and deeply loved by the local people. There are legends of Issa in the region, but their provenance is uncertain. One group still honours Issa's memory, and they recall that he taught them to oppose the caste system. At twenty nine he returned to Israel, where the story is that he was put to death by Pontius Pilate.

 

The manuscript seems to have no connection with the gospels. Its theology is vague and not tlike any Christan theology known so far. It begins by saying that the great Saint Issa was the soul of the world who detached itself from the One to show men how to live. This is like the logos doctrine in John's Gospel to some degree, but not closely.

 

The text shows no detailed knowledge of the gospel text. There are no parables or known sayings, and the only two sayings are long and detailed. One is in defence of women, and another is against those who look down on manual workers. Both are in character for Jesus. The text presents him as the new Moses. This is a well-known Christian theme, but the Moses story, which it gives att he beginning, is long and detailed, containing information from the legends of Prince Moses, which were circulating round the East for centuries. The legends show that the writer had an oral knowledge of Moses, but not a textual knowledge of the Bible. The text also speaks of Jesus' parents, which shows that the writer knew not that Joseph was not on the scene when  Jesus was an adult. This indicates that the manuscript dd not come from any known Christian source. The text shows no blame for the chief priests but puts the blame entirely on Pilate, who is said to have spied on Jesus. Pilate's spying is likely to be true, and might explain why Pilate saw Jesus  as not being a threat.

 

Whether the story contains any truth is not known. Certainly it is the case that stories of great people circulate. It is also known that there were Nestorian Christians in the Nepal and Tibet region for centuries up to the Middle Ages. However, we would expect Nestorians to know the Scriptures better than the Himis writer did, and the theology in the manuscript is not Nestorian, which does not use any language remniscent of Himis. So the status of the text is open to question. That the Muslim name Issa is given is an indication that the text might be late rather than early.

 

It is important to say that the legend that the legend that Jesus revived in the tomb and visisted India after his death is totally different from this one, which has him visiting in his early life. The idea that someone could survive crucifixion and stabbing with a lance and walk off is ludicrous. It is a legend that developed to support the claims of the Ahmadi sect, that arose in the fourteenth century, that Jesus was their inspiration and has no credibility.  Whether Jesus ever visited India remains unknown, but this manuscript gives us an idea about what might have happened during the hidden years. Jesus wasa strong character, and like all strong characters would have lived a life that differed from the ordinary. He might have visited India, but does this manuscript tell the true story.

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