A Chronological Revision

of the Origins of Christianity

Introduction

Christianity is one of the main pillars of Western civilization. For many centuries it has been the dominant religion in the west and an important force in world politics. It has determined culture, art, philosophy and ethics as well as schooling and health care. Christian festivals and holidays dominated the calendar, which itself is based on the date of Jesus’ birth. Most people born under this all-determining Christian influence have accepted it as an evident and important pillar of their life. A minority has developed a deep interest in the origins of Christianity, in the historical Jesus and in the history and influence of Christianity. I belong to this second category. 

There is something absolute, something sacred in the simple question what really happened.
Peter Van Walsum, Verder met Nederland

How it started

Raised in a Catholic rural community, in my early twenties I started questioning the miraculous origins and the absolute aspirations of the Christianity of my youth. On my own I started reading and studying the Bible in an attempt to reach a personal foundation of my Christian belief. This collection of the sacred books of Christianity triggered my interest, and so I started reading other relevant ancient writings like the works of the Jewish historian Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Old Testament pseudepigrapha. In between I read a few, mostly non-doctrinal modern works.

Detecting a chronological problem

During this solitary exploration, combining data from the ancient sources and with crucial help from non-doctrinal scholars, I thought to descry a major chronological problem in the origins of Christianity, which could lead to a non-mythological, historical way of understanding the origins of Christianity. I considered this finding not only as spectacular but also as preliminary, in the awareness that my hypothesis was founded on only a small part of the vast literature on the subject. Therefore I intensified my research, in the hope of having my initial findings refuted, as this would take a heavy burden from my shoulders. But this was not to be the case. My further study strengthened my hypothesis and helped to establish firmly my chronological theory that urges to a different interpretation of nearly every aspect of Christianity, not only of nascent Christianity but of Christianity in general. 

Christianity, its rise, progress and influence on the human race, must necessarily ever cause the deepest interest among thinking men.
E. Planta Nesbit, Jesus an Essene

Publishing

After this second stage of my research I decided to try and get my theory published. Without the backup of any institution or mentor, the first modest publication on my chronological theory saw the light in the spring of 2003 in Dutch through a local Flemish publisher. An augmented edition, also in Dutch, was published in Amsterdam in November 2004 thanks to publisher Jan Oegema. A next step was my search for an English edition of my theory. For five years a London based literary agent had my work under her wings, in preparation of a revised version for the English-speaking world. When she unexpectedly withdrew in 2014, I decided to turn to self-publishing at Amazon Kindle. A Chronological Revision of the Origins of Christianity was published as an e-book in June 2015 and as an Amazon paperback in March 2017.

The core of my theory

In short, the core of my theory says that Christianity did not find its origin around 30 CE ‘under Pilate’ but four decades later, during the war of the Jews against the Romans (66-70 CE). The author of the first gospel, the gospel of Mark, has deliberately dehistoricized the then events by antedating them by four decades, from 70 to 30 CE. At the same time he almost completely effaced the war circumstances of the crucial events of the beginnings of Christianity. Nevertheless, meticulous simultaneous reading of all relevant sources shows the true historical and chronological origins of Christianity. The gospel of Luke is important in distinguishing the historical truth behind the gospels, as its author has partially rehistoricized the then events.

The matter is indeed one of understandable, quite natural human curiosity. Anyone who is aware of the place of Jesus in our cultural heritage would quite likely be curious to know his origin.
Neil Godfrey on vridar.org

The CROC website

The aim of this website is to reach people throughout the world who are interested in the down-to-earth historical origins of Christianity. The struggle between the Romans and the Essene Jews for world domination is the harsh political and ideological background for what at first sight seems to be a pacifist religion. I believe my theory constitutes an important step in the self-understanding of Western man and a decisive step in the ultimate demythologizing of the origins of Christianity. Hopefully your comments, opinions and suggestions for further reading can help me in further elaborating my theory.

As far as time permits, I continue exploring the fascinating and inexhaustible field of the origins of Christianity. I hope that these further investigations will eventually result in supplementary publications on Paul and on Relevation (or on the relevant apocalyptic texts in general). In my blog I will from time to time publish brief elaborations of my theory, review books or publish reactions to the opinions of others. 

Thanks

By way of conclusion to this introduction I want to thank from the bottom of my heart Mr. W.G. Velthorst, who contacted me shortly after the publication of the ‘Amsterdam’ version of my book. Since then he has become a critical but unconditional supporter of my solitary endeavor who continuously encourages me to further elaborate my thesis and to find a worldwide audience.

Book description

A Chronological Revision of the Origins of Christianity

The vast majority of biblical scholars as well as historians adhere to the traditional chronology of the origins of Christianity. This orthodox chronology is based on the prima facie reading of the canonical gospels that place Jesus’ passion and crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Palestine from 26 to 36 CE. However, some significant problems with the origins of Christianity have remained unsolved despite more than two centuries of biblical scholarship. The best-known of these is the bizarre relationship between Jesus and his follower Paul who, in his letters to the first Christian communities, remains silent on Jesus’ teachings, his spectacular deeds, his relatives or his home region Galilee. It is also remarkable that the gospel of Mark, which was the first writing to tell the story of Jesus’ life and execution, was written about 40 years after the events. Thirdly, extra-biblical support for the traditional chronology of the origins of Christianity is poor and questionable. These problems have incited opponents, operating mostly outside the clerical and academic environment, to question the historicity of Jesus and the gospel stories altogether. They suggest that Christianity is a myth dressed in a biographical Jesus jacket.

A Chronological Revision of the Origins of Christianity provides a way out of this persistent impasse on the origins of Christianity. My ‘third way’ theory exposes the traditional ‘under Pilate’ origins of Christianity as a chronological forgery. At the same time it shows that there is, nevertheless, a solid historical basis for Christianity, albeit in another period and under totally different political and military circumstances than what is presented in the gospels. My theory is the result of a thoroughgoing solitary investigation, independent of traditional biblical scholarship. I studied not only the Bible but also the other relevant ancient sources on the subject, primarily the works of the Jewish historian Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Old Testament pseudepigrapha, the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and the Nag Hammadi library.

Through a combined reading of these sources, I have discerned a nascent Christianity that is the result of human purpose and effort throughout. It has been shaped by people who were pious and at the same time belligerent, with a wide range of religious, ethical and political motives. I intend to take you on a spectacular journey into Roman-occupied first century Palestine, and to show you a beginning of Christianity that differs completely from what the New Testament and the Christian churches would have us believe. Putting aside the traditionalist as well as the mythicist option, I present a fully demythologized, historical inception of Christianity. 

My book comprises two main parts. In the first, the arguments that support my theory are put forward. A prominent place is reserved for the combined reading of Josephus’s account of the war of the Jews against the Romans and the canonical gospels. The second part deals with the most obvious objections to my theory, mainly the letters of Paul and the extra-biblical support for the traditional chronology of the origins of Christianity.

Table of Contents. 

Latest articles

From time to time I will add short articles that elaborate on my theory, or reviews of books related to the origins of Christianity.

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