A review of “The secret family of Jesus”
(YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4kTNS18ses, uploaded by USAGnosticChurch)
It was presented by Robert Beckford of Oxford Brookes University, who early asserted that the program uncovers a conspiracy that Dan Brown missed, more significant than The Da Vinci Code… hidden for more than two thousand years … I personally believe this video tells how much Christianity, especially Roman Catholics tried to hide something really historical about Jesus Christ rather than tries to destroy some fundamental belief system of Christianity.
Robert Beckford asserted that Jesus had full brothers and sisters whose descendants are traceable in the Galilee for several subsequent centuries. It claimed that Mary Magdalene was a close friend and, possibly, one of the unknown apostles. It noted that the early Church was led by some of Jesus’s siblings and that John the Baptist was a relation of Jesus and his teacher. It further noted that, especially after the Fall of Jerusalem, the locus of power in the early Church moved from Jerusalem to Rome and, in the process, the Messianic Judaism of the Jerusalem Church was superseded by the form of Christianity pioneered by the apostle Paul. As such, it developed a strong anti-feminist and power-hungry character that marginalised the poor and needy to whom Jesus’s Gospel was directed and ‘wrote out’ the persona who led the early Church.
And for those alert to modern trends in contemporary theology, the placing of James/Jude and Paul as arch-rivals, the affirmation that the early Church adopted a ‘replacement theology’ and that the deity of Jesus and deification of Mary were a construct of the post-Jerusalem Church are scarcely novel views. Thus Beckford’s belief that by decoding of Bible and other ancient texts ‘for the first time’ he is able to tell the ‘real story of Jesus’s family’ does quite make sense.
During the process from Jerusalem to Rome, there were very significant parts, which tells the serious distortion of Roman Catholics’ Christian theology, through dealing with Syrian Orthodox churches and even East Orthodox churches who recognize Mary Magdalene as a Saint; even some of the traditions don’t recognize the Resurrection as their core dogma.
In other words, it is clearly revealed how the Romanized Christianity was distorted from what originally Christianity was taught by Jesus Christ.
It is even very suspicious to see most of the Christian theologies were not based on his original teachings, who was historical Jesus. Although it seems quite impossible to restore the historical truth of Jesus, it is very important to try to reveal the real truth about his life for us to understand and accept what he really taught and gave away to human beings, not only Christians.
This short review of mine was composed and reorganized based on my personal impressions of the video, with the help of Rev. Dr. Stephen Dray’s deep theological and methodological analysis as in the following link,
Rev. Dr. Stephen Dray’ revealed Beckford’s methodologies as follows:
* First, he argues that the New Testament writings show a progressive attempt to marginalise reference to the family of Jesus (and Mary Magdalene). To do so he assumes Markan priority for the Gospels (i.e, the order Mark, Matthew, Luke, John). While this order is widely assumed in biblical studies, it has been increasingly challenged (and has long been rejected by the present writer) and there are other answers as to the phenomena he notes than to posit suppression by the Church. Further to assert that Matthew (probably a member of the Jerusalem church) sought to undermine the affirmatory references to Jesus’s family in Mark (who possibly authored his Gospel in Rome) is psychologically incoherent if Beckford’s other claims are true.
* Secondly, Beckford draws attention to those themes that are ‘omitted’ from the Pauline letters and the apparent conflict between their teachings and those of James and Jude. These are very old and, increasingly mouldy, chestnuts. The arch rivalry between James and Paul has little evidence to support it and requires a tortured exegesis of New Testament texts to give it any plausibility at all. Moreover, such an approach simply refuses to acknowledge that content in any writing is determined by context. That certain themes emerge in one text rather than another is simply a reflection of the context that prompted the correspondence!
* Thirdly, he draws upon the popular theory that the Gentile church replaced the Jerusalem church and that the latter was the context in which dogma was developed and which showed (especially after Constantine) an antipathy to the female gender and a predilection for power. There is some justification for these assertions but Beckford tries to find evidence for this in the New Testament documents themselves, and in the projected Jerusalem/Rome opposition; a far more uncertain procedure. Moreover, the highest Christology appears to antedate the New Testament texts and is reflected in both Pauline and other texts; notably James and Jude themselves.
* Fourthly, Beckford draws upon the considerable scholarly work that has attempted, on the basis of archaeological and historical research, to uncover ongoing evidence for Jesus’s family ‘blood line’ for several centuries into the Christian era in the Galilee. At this point he is on securer ground… although in a typical non-sequitur he denies Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem and, implicitly, his virgin birth.
* Thus, and finally, he draws upon the speculative theories of ‘rogue’ scholars who, for example, have claimed to find evidence for Jesus’s birth in the Galilee. Rather than refer to ‘new’ discoveries, Beckford would have been better advised to refer to rejected speculations!