April 2019: Who Really Was Jesus?

     Even if you would rigorously challenge the possibility of a connection between Biblical figures and ancient Egyptian royalty, many well documented historical facts accentuate the mystery that surrounds identity and raise mesmerizing questions. For example, scholars theorize that ancient Egyptian ceremonies represented the true origin of Christianity. Jesus Christ is the central “Holy” figure of the New Testament. Just exactly where did that charismatic personality come from? What did he have to do with Christianity? How did his teachings become so intertwined with the Western Christian traditions that rose to popularity throughout the Roman Empire? How did Jesus attract so many followers? Whatever the answers may be, the aim of this discussion is to emphasize that to educate others on acceptance of people peacefully, as no subject can ever be too thoroughly researched, particularly where focus is on the discovery of links between Christianity and ancient Egyptian monotheism, and the idealistic teaching style of Jesus.

     One of the most dominant aspects of Jesus’ personality was his self-confident, adroit, and masterly style of speech and teaching, as these qualities gave him an authoritative stance. Another influential part of the Jesus style was a habit to tell a story rather teach it in a didactic way; often, parables contained surprises. Jesus led audiences through a virtual path of discovery, using questions, repetition, and illustrations rather than simply getting straight to the point. Jesus also led disciples on various instructed tasks to experience his teachings for themselves. Most of all, Jesus was a lover of all people, high or low, good or evil, got to know his followers very well, and wanted others to follow his example and be comfortable with people everywhere. Definitely, patience and compassion were key to that style. Finally, every one of Jesus’ stories taught some sort of superlative phrase that went with his moral gist. How did Jesus get to know the scriptures well?  Certainly, the opportunity to train was linked to Jesus’ real identity. So, who was Jesus in the ancient world?

     Some scholars claim that Jesus was a noble Persian Prince, a “lord” descended from Cleopatra’s Ptolemaic Dynasty, and not merely a carpenter’s son. Coincidentally, Jesus, Cleopatra, and Mark Antony all died within the space of a few months in 30 AD, at the collapse of the Ptolemaic Empire. Furthermore, despite claims about Christ’s simplistic lifestyle, he was a well-educated high priest, born a “king”, for Joseph’s father and legal guardian were both descendants of Kings David and Solomon. Moreover, Jesus is said to have been King of Edessa -- Emmanuel, Manu, or Issi -- or a son or grandson of Cleopatra Philopater VII. Other scholars argue that besides healing others, Jesus was a magician-actor; his remote ancestry may have even included the prehistoric sea-warriors, the Hyksos.

     What is most apparent is that Jesus actually had nothing  whatsoever to do with traditional Christianity, as he was first and foremost an Indo-European Jew, and a political activist to boot. That is not to say that Jesus was a greedy dictator or a violent, drugged, power-crazed vagabond. Jesus Christ was clearly a noble, peace-keeping, yet rebel preacher, for he experienced many negative undercurrents that rifled through otherwise tranquil Eastern communities and wanted to induce positive change. Jesus’ spiritual teachings reflected an intense desire to transform society and inspire active engagement in the censorship of corrupt abuses of power and evil that wealth inflicted upon the innocent. It is apparent that even centuries later, this idealist push for change is yet to be fully realized.

     Among other aspirations for social peace or good health, and like other men and women during that tumultuous period, Jesus craved the power and glory associated with the Roman Empire. It is hypothesized that in 30 AD, Jesus, “King of the Jews” rode through the Jerusalem gates on a donkey. There, Jesus made a plea for the Kingdom of Judea after a Roman Emperor’s recent suicide. However, if Nero fits the description of that troubled Roman emperor, the chronology with respect to Christ’s context is slightly off. In 30 AD, the Iscariots and Zealots were two militant tribal armies of Jesus that stirred up revolution; the Biblical Mount of Olives meeting was actually a gigantic military battle between these rebel factions and six hundred Roman centurions -- not merely a secret meeting among the Twelve Disciples!

     But even if Jesus really had nothing to do with Christianity, then he certainly married into its missionary movement. Jesus wed not one, but two noble sisters, Mary Magdalene and Martha, who were heavily focused on strengthening the movement of Christianity, carried out even after Christ’s alleged death. Nevertheless, barely three centuries later, as Christ’s clan died out, where Mary Magdalene was censored entirely from Christianity’s foundation, three other gospels mention her role in validating death rites, and only as a testimonial to the Resurrection of Christ. Ironically, it was Mary’s own narrative alone that permanently established a belief in Jesus Christ’s Resurrection as the foundation of Christianity.

     So, even if we accept that Christ was not perceived as a meek, passive, “holy” man in Antiquity, there is still enough physical evidence in the form of literature and architecture to support his perspicuous and unbroken link to ancient Egyptian royalty and early Biblical teachings. There is no doubt that the mysteries clouding Christ’s true identity were in fact facilitated by early Christian writers -- many heretical -- who sought to represent only the facts that suited a personal or national agenda. Sadly, one of these men, a second century Roman, Saint Peter, chose to completely obscure Mary Magdalene’s central role in Christianity from the entire narrative surrounding it.

     Nevertheless, great early works of art amplify other Egyptian links to Christianity. When Amenhotep IV became Akhenaten, 1353 BCE - c.1336 BCE, in the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, his religious revolution changed the way traditional ways Egyptians worshipped gods. Queen Nefertiti is said to have been an influential factor in having her husband lean toward a monotheistic worship focused on Aten, the sun deity. First, there is the megalithic Baalbek site, a prehistoric, double-styled Roman crypt. Next, is the Temple of Jupiter. Then, there is the Great Pi Pyramid of Giza, (the true Mount Sinai) two hundred and eighty over four hundred and forty cubits, forty times a multiple of Pi, and sum of the Great Pyramid. Finally, Eden of Egypt is actually Gan Aden, or Akhenaton, Kan Aten, the Biblical Amarna. It so happens that Eden was located in the royal city of King Akhenaton and Queen Nefertiti. If Jesus taught through illustration and example, his true ancestors might have done the same. In fact, they did.

     At Karnak, Nefertiti, the tree of knowledge, and its forbidden fruit are all visible on a sculptural wall relief. Therefore, the “fall of man” is actually illustrated as the exile of the royal couple, Akhenaton and Nefertiti! Akhenaton’s reign was one in which two sister-brother or male-female gods united opposites. Egyptian society often wavered between monotheism and polytheism. In fact, pagan Egyptian festivals reproduced various elaborate processions that expressed a cultural obsession with the movements of astronomical constellations. However, Akhenaton and Nefertiti instigated a monotheistic belief system that ended the pagan worship of Apis and Osiris for a while. A fifteenth century BC New Kingdom relief at Karnak reveals Amun and the Sun god, Re, infused as one identity. Akhenaton would later erase these names from Amenhotep III's statue.

     Conversely, if ancient Egyptian royals can be traced to the oral and pictorial traditions of Christianity, literature also implicitly casts royals as focal figures of Judaic traditions. Moses, another old Biblical figure, was of royal Egyptian descent. He may have existed either during the New Kingdom of Ramses III, around 1174 BC in the Twelfth Dynasty, late Bronze Age, or in 1250 BC, as Thutmose I or II. The New Kingdom was a time when Egypt battled the Sea Peoples, that Hyksos tribe who may have been ancestrally linked to Jesus Christ. As Moses managed to cross the Red Sea by dividing and lifting its water, his natural affinity to the “Lord” and Egyptian royalty reveals Egypt’s supreme naval hold over the Eastern world in Antiquity.

     Of course, Moses’ style of teaching was imperfect and flawed, for he was not actually a leader when Pharaoh asked him to lead the Israelites of Egypt. Moses was not sure if he was strong enough to carry out Pharaoh’s request, even though he wanted to show faith through obedience. So, like Jesus, Moses relied on action; he lead his people on a journey out of Egypt. Moses listened to the Israelites when they complained about fear, hunger, or thirst, so that he could find solutions. Even though Moses was a leader to hundreds, he had a special bond with Jethro, his father-in-law, and his followers admired him for that. Even when the Israelites lost faith and grew disobedient, Moses gave them the courage to keep their faith in Pharaoh strong and continue their journey. Unlike Jesus, who only taught through story, example, and illustration, Moses wrote the Ten Commandments in an instructive text so that the Israelites could refer to the laws. So, the Israelites learned through both example and  instruction.

     The Ipuwer Papyrus supports the notion that Moses was a Judaic-Egyptian prince who led the Israelites to safety from political tyrants in Exodus, a text which still has an imprecise chronology. The royal papyrus was created during Egypt’s Middle
Kingdom in the Nineteenth Dynasty, and is displayed at National Museum of Antiquities, Netherlands. The content of this hieratic, cursive poem is timeless. It describes Egypt’s disasters as identical to those of the Exodus, especially in an account of a bloodied river. The Ipuwer Papyrus also laments over Egypt’s dying population and corrupt political ethics. This papyrus evidently aimed to preserve the unique cultural identity of the Israelites through literature.

     On the other hand, if there was great concern for the preservation of Israelite and Egyptian culture as far back as the Nineteenth Dynasty, the concern for quality of life was expressed on an even greater level as late as the new Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. The Prophecy of Neferti is a fictional historical romance in “pseudo-prophetic form”. This fragmentary stone tablet had both a political as well as a religious purpose, and was set in the fictional Kingdom of Snefru, c. 2575–2551 BC. The opening scenes are indeed parallel to the Biblical Creation Story  and refer to a time before Amenemhat became King. Scholars agree that the romance was in fact a piece of propaganda commissioned by King Amenemhat I and Queen Neferti for their glorification. Other ideas infer that it was not a prophecy of the future, but an illustration of present conditions in the Eastern region and the numerous threats surrounding that situation, and therefore, humbled the status of the royal couple rather than glorified it. Either way, the romance emphasized an attempt to restore socio-political order in Egypt through peace and harmony by idealizing the remote past.

     Therefore, we have examined the various ways in which ancient Egyptian links to Christian concepts have been present since the earliest periods of history, centuries before Jesus was born, or before the first Christian writer began the gospel. There is no doubt that the female’s influence on a harmonic and peaceful society was key to a monotheistic belief system. However, the means to establish such an enormous societal transformation without the peace-keeping methods of Jesus and Moses was no doubt violent and brutal. The reign of King Amenemhat I and Queen Neferti illustrates that even long ago, great leaders knew that the way to an orderly, harmonious society was through peaceful rather than aggressive means. Without resorting to the tools of architecture or literature, power struggles  no doubt upset the balance between harmony and chaos.