A New Story About Jesus of Nazareth
Written By: Robert Brinsmead
An Outline Sketch
Was Yashua ben Adam (Hebrew) Yeshu bar Nasha (Aramaic) or Jesus of Nazareth (Latin) really a carpenter, or a carpenter’s son, as we generally understand the word carpenter? According to Geza Vermes, a carpenter in that age and context, was a teacher, scholar, sage or rabbi type of person.
I can therefore imagine that Yoseph was a kind of district rabbi or teacher who lived at Nazareth in Galilee. Although he lived in relative obscurity, this rather obscure person had acquired remarkable learning and wisdom who gave Yeshu (his name in their native Aramaic tongue) a true example of an Abba (Aramaic for papa or daddy, a term of intimate family endearment).
Yoseph did not have the narrow legalistic spirit of many of the rabbis of his age, and certainly none of the arrogant nationalism that permeated so much of the culture of it’s people. He exemplified this when he took Miriam and gave her the legal protection of a husband.
I imagine that the father of Yeshu was a Samaritan in the Roman garrison (“You are a Samaritan and a devil”, his opponents used to taunt him). Rome had a policy of using indigenous people in their occupying armies, but not Jews because Sabbath and Kosher made it impossible to use them in the army.
The OT book of Deuteronomy warned that the Jewish land would be ravished and their women raped. In Kosovo recently, thousands of children were born as collateral damage of the war with Serbia. In ancient times, rape was used as much as bloodshed to strike terror and submission into the hearts of conquered people. When Herod died about 4 B.C.he was a human monster. Judas, son of Hekekiah, (a great bandit messiah who terrorized Galilee until he was killed by Herod) made a raid on Sepporis and captured it. Sepporis was the biggest city of Galilee just four miles from Nazareth. Rome raised an army to retake Sepporis from Judas. They crucified about 2-3 thousand men, raped and pillaged, (they were the lucky ones) and carried thousands of people away to be slaves, including sex slaves, who would get raped almost on a daily basis. Can you imagine how many bastard children would be born as the collateral damage of war on this scale?
Of course the little town of Nazareth on the outskirts of Sepporis would cop it. Anyway, one of the victims was this teenager by the name of Miriam. The elders sat around discussing what they would do with her. One solution used in that time was to strangle the girl, which seemed a merciful thing to do anyway. Yoseph, the little fat rabbi, was in this group who discussed the problem, and as he thought about the whole thing, the hopeless situation of the girl and the child, he decided to take her under his wing. He was in a situation where he could do that. The others were horrified and tried to talk him out of it. There was one Scripture that tugged at his heart. It was a passage in the OT prophet of Ezekiel (chapter 16) wherein the nation of Israel was likened to a filthy dirty infant, navel not cut, not washed, lying in blood and pollution with none to take pity. Then Yahwey, the God of Israel, came by and took this filthy unwashed infant to be his son. He had often read in the prophets how Yahwey desires mercy and not sacrifice, and instead of religiosity, to act like Yahwey and stand up for the fatherless, the widow, the orphan, and those who have no helper but are crushed and oppressed.
This spirit of the prophets so moved Yoseph that he decided to do the really human thing, the supernatural thing, and decided he would take this violated girl and this child into his own house. Now Yoseph already had some children (in this I take the Catholic position) and from his point of view Yeshu was now the youngest, rather than the oldest (although Miriam’s firstborn) of course Yeshu was the youngest! The oldest is generally the conservative one in the family, whilst the youngest is generally the one who is more inclined to be the rebel against the established ways.
Anyway, Yoseph formed a special bond with this youngest son, much like a Benjamin, and the older ones didn’t appreciate this much. Yoseph was able to pass on his insights and his wisdom to this boy. He taught him to read; taught him all the wise sayings and parables of the rabbis, got a real bang out of how quick and keen to learn he was and he would amaze even teachers with his questions and his insight. One day the kid came home after playing with the other kids, and some bigger smart alex kids had put him down by suggesting some nasty things about his real father and that kind of talk. The kid, as you can imagine, came home quite distressed, and Yoseph saw there was something eating at the boy. He coaxed him to talk. Then he blurted out the burden of his heart, just about ready to break, ‘Abba,’ he said, ‘are you really my Abba, my true Abba that is?’
The old man gathered the boy in his arms, scarcely hiding his own distress, and said, ‘Yes, I am really and truly your true Abba, because what makes me your Abba and you my son is not a matter of blood, because the blood affinity is nothing, but the true relationship of father and son is one of spirit. The flesh profiteth nothing. What makes us children of the Abba in heaven is not that we have the blood of Abraham. We might have the blood of Abraham and be devils just the same. It is the spirit that matters. Man looks on the outward appearance son, but the thing that made David a man after God’s own heart was the spirit. Do you see that? Yes, the boy could see that he had the spirit of Yoseph, and was more a son of Yoseph than the older brothers were.
With the Roman occupation, there were bandit messiahs who fled to the forests and more especially the caves. They had a lot of popular support. Sometimes they would mingle among the villagers or peasants much as the Viet Cong used to do so that it was hard to tell who these insurgents were. They were men of blood, and they expected the people to support them; a kind of protection money thing, or even more, a patriotism thing. Those who refused to join the resistance were marked and often stabbed. Yoseph was a man of peace, and believed that those who took the sword would perish with the sword. His was not the spirit of the bandit messiahs. This sage was able to cite many Scripture passages to support his position, and would not buy into the spirit of the men of blood. There were some interesting debates. His opponents would cite passages from Scripture condemning the heathen, dashing the heads of their little ones on the rock, and God’s hatred of people like the Egyptians. Yoseph countered with stories of Namaan the Syrian, and even that the first Jews were wandering Arameans, and of God’s love for all. “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is upon all his works.” “And in that day I will say, blessed is Egypt the work of my hands and Assyria my son.” He was well versed in the universalism of the prophets.
A spirit and a voice like Yoseph?s had to be silenced. Yeshu used to follow the arguments and listen to his Abba best his adversaries who wanted to return to Rome evil for evil, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Yoseph was the young fella’s hero, his mentor, but above all his dearest Abba.
And then the inevitable happened. Yoseph was assassinated for his faith, for his large heartedness, for his compassion that was a constant rebuke to all those who supported the cause of the bandit messiahs. Yeshu was distraught. His grief was unbelievable.
There seemed to be no way of consoling him. Then he remembered what his Abba used to say, “When my father and mother forsake me or are taken from me, then the God of Israel will take me up.” Sitting out there among a few sheep and goats one night, there came to him an overwhelming sense of the eternal Abba, and underneath him the everlasting arms. And then the mighty truth hit him in the core of his being, as if the great spirit that sustained Yoseph had spoken to him personally, “I am the Abba who will never leave or forsake you.” And so the pact was made between the Abba and the son. This was the key to his later ministry, to the reason he called himself ‘the son of man.’ This gave him an utterly revolutionary view of the world and of what it is to be human, a real son of man. T he spirit of Yoseph lived on in him. He was the son of the Carpenter. He was the carpenter. Where did he get this wisdom, having never [formally learned]?
I dreamt too of the Samaritan (Roman) soldier who fathered him in that wild free for all in and around Sepporis with all the blood and guts of the savagery of a Roman conquest. Somehow he knew that the girl he took by force like a prize of war, had borne a son to his lust, and from the Roman garrison he was able to work out who this son of Yoseph really was, By the time Yeshu, began his public ministry, Panthera, that was his name according to Jewish rumours, had climbed up the ranks to become a Roman centurian, and as he matured, he was not bereft of the spirit of being human either. Not many had been priviledged for as long as he in that age, and he had a servant, literally a slave, to attend to his needs and look after him. This slave became like a son to him, and he was extremely fond of him. One day the slave took ill and was at the point of death. The old Samaritan came to the view that the only person who could help him was ‘Yeshu bar nasha’. Stories of his wisdom, his compassion, and even of some miracle healings were gaining ground. Old Panthera was contemplating the unthinkable. Would he be willing to go cap in hand to the son he had sired and had forsaken? Pride was a luxury that he could not afford under the circumstances. The unusual lengths he was willing to go just for a slave was remarkable, because a normal Roman centurian would turn him out to die like a useless old dog. But not with this old man who had somehow allowed himself to grow as a human being and to experience what you may call a change of direction, a humanizing growth, a change of mind, which happens to be the original meaning of the word repentance. When he found Yeshu, he had to push his way through the crowd, or did they part ways for this man of some authority, howbeit a detested authority. Anyhow, both the dreaded and hopeful moment had come. He stood face to face with the young carpenter. Some looked at the old man and then to the Galilean sage in some amazement because there was a remarkable resemblance here that the old fella could notice himself. “I am not worthy,” he blurted out, “for you to come under my roof.” Meaning, how could I expect that you would do anything for me. “But just say the word only, and my slave will be healed.” “Go your way” said Yeshu, as if to say, your petition is a remarkable act of your contrition and of your humanity. You are totally forgiven. Get off home because your slave is going to live.