Well, it starts with Matthew and Luke and their differing takes on the Nativity. In Matthew, we have everything pointing to the birth of a son to a family of standing, already resident in Bethlehem. Lukes' version seems to have been based around a more humble family from the backwater province of Galilee, even if he did have to cheat a bit to get Jesus born in Bethlehem! But while it is possible that one or indeed both accounts are pure fiction, it is equally possible that both are true, if we are discussing two different families.

Then there's the issue of the Crucifixion itself. This was a Roman practice, considered unclean by Jews, who believed that leaving a corpse hanging overnight defiled the land. It was not a punishment under Jewish law and not one which Jewish authorities would willingly surrender one of their own to.

The role of Jesus bar Abbas I've aready talked about. That there were insurrectionists, Resistance fighters and so forth throughout the Roman occupation of Palestine is historical fact.

In looking at the Roman Empire -from many sources - it becomes clear that it was one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse and tolerant empires that ever existed. As long as conquwred peoples were prepared to turn out for the ceremonies of the official State religion, they were permitted to carry on worshipping their own gods. It was then a common assumption that they were all the same gods anyway, just using different names. Some foreign gods were actually adopted by Romans, the Persian Mithras and Egyprian Isis were both very popular. The problem with the Jews was that they would not consent to worship the State gods, so it became necessary to grant them an exemption. But a religious dispute between Jewish sects would not be a concern for Rome. More to their advantage, because the Jews were a troublesome bunch at best, but if they were squabbling among themselves, they weren't bothering the Empire.

Reading about mythology, of all kinds, made me familiar with the idea that heroes and gods are often conflations of various figures, both historical and fictional. Studying history showed me the myths that gather around even well-documented and attested historical figures, such as the idea that Edison was an inventor or that Winston Churchill was a hero to working-class people.

I had come to the conclusion that Jesus was just such a figure. A conflation of various Zealot agitators, Essene reformers and charismatic preachers, all lumped together and made into the emblematic central figure of a mystery religion preaching a bastardised Stoicism.

But then I became aware of the controversy around Shakespeare, and the identification of the London playwright with the Stratford businessman. At that point, something in my storytellers mind kicked in and created a narrative of two men called Jesus, with very different backgrounds and agendas, whose parallel stories became conflated to form something entirely different, which neither would recognise.

Not what you are looking for, I know, but I'm not one of those clever folks who doesn't break wind without an authoritative source. Just a Bear of Very Little Brain who knows a good story when he sees one! Sorry I can't be of more help.

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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