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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


What Would Judas Do?

July 12, 2009

3P-035 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the 35th episode of Third Paradigm, entitled What Would Judas Do? I saw this as a sticker at Food Bin, my neighborhood organic market, and knew I had to use it. President Rafael Correa of Ecuador was asked by Amy Goodman how President Obama could improve relations with Latin America. Correa said, look closer. The heroes may not be heroes, and the villains may not be villains. This is also good advice about the Bible and matches what I've found when I've put Bible stories in their historical context with prominent figures who have suspiciously similar names.

We'll look at the historical figure Judas the Galilean, also known as Judas Sicariot, co-founder of the Fourth Philosophy. According to Josephus, Judas started the zealot movement with someone he calls Zadok the Pharisee. But the name Zadok is a version of Sadduc, who the Sadducees followed. It's illogical that a Pharisee would be named for the founder of a rival sect. The sons of Sadduc were the traditional high priests of the temple. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees or Essenes, believed that a person controlled their own choices for good or evil, rather than being the instruments of fate. They were loyal to the Mosaic code, which called for an eye for an eye – or justice in direct proportion to the harm done. The Pharisees believed that a person could instead pay a fine, which had a disproportional effect. Does an eye for an eye make the whole world blind, or does it make the consequences the same for the rich and the poor, deterring the first blinding?

The Sadducees, however, were wealthy. They dominated the temple at the time of the zealot revolt. But according to historians, the revolution was a partnership between peasants and the priestly elite.

As Martin Goodman argues in The Ruling Class of Judaea, "...revolution could not have taken place without the active participation of the upper classes.

...there is no mistaking the fact that the revolt was driven by the priests of the Temple."

View the Source

This parallels the findings of Michael Parenti's book, The Assassination of Julius Caesar. He shows that Julius Caesar, along with wealthy and high-born supporters, was a populist who was killed for instigating land reform and redistributing wealth. The privileged have not always sought to maintain privilege. A century after Caesar's death, the Judean revolt against Roman rule is led by Eleazar, translated Lazarus, who is the son of the high priest Ananias and second to him in power. Eleazar partners with Menahem, son of Judas the Galilean. This culminates the insurgency started seven decades earlier by Menahem's father, Judas, and Zadok.

The spark that started Judas and Zadok's zealot fire is in reaction to the Roman census in 6 CE. Judas says that taxation is the first step towards slavery, indicating that the Fourth Philosophy is against both. The Bible dates the birth of Jesus is to the same census, leading author Paula Gott to conclude that the true Christ was the zealot revolution. And we'll look at a Biblical reference that puts Jesus in the revolution into the next generation, challenging the time when he lived, and if he lived. We'll also look at clues as to which side the gospel's authors were on from Jesus' statements about the Pharisees and Sadducees. But first we'll hear a poem by Arthur Sze called The Unnamable River.

The Unnamable River

Is it in the anthracite face of a coal miner,
crystallized in the veins and lungs of a steel
worker, pulverized in the grimy hands of a railroad engineer?
Is it in a child naming a star, coconuts washing
ashore, dormant in a volcano along the Rio Grande?

You can travel the four thousand miles of the Nile
to its source and never find it.
You can climb the five highest peaks of the Himalayas
and never recognize it.
You can gaze though the largest telescope
and never see it.

But it's in the capillaries of your lungs.
It's in the space as you slice open a lemon.
It's in a corpse burning on the Ganges,
in rain splashing on banana leaves.

Perhaps you have to know you are about to die
to hunger for it. Perhaps you have to go
alone in the jungle armed with a spear
to truly see it. Perhaps you have to
have pneumonia to sense its crush.

But it's also in the scissor hands of a clock.
It's in the precessing motion of a top
when a torque makes the axis of rotation describe a cone:
and the cone spinning on a point gathers
past, present, future.

In a crude theory of perception, the apple you
see is supposed to be a copy of the actual apple,
but who can step out of his body to compare the two?
Who can step out of his life and feel
the Milky Way flow out of his hands?

An unpicked apple dies on a branch:
that is all we know of it.
It turns black and hard, a corpse on the Ganges.
Then go ahead and map out three thousand miles of the Yantze;
walk each inch, feel its surge and
flow as you feel the surge and flow in your own body.

And the spinning cone of a precessing top
is a form of existence that gathers and spins death and life into one.
It is in the duration of words, but beyond words -
river river river, river river.
The coal miner may not know he has it.
The steel worker may not know he has it.
The railroad engineer may not know he has it.
But it is there. It is in the smell
of an avocado blossom, and in the true passion of a kiss.

~ Arthur Sze ~
From The Redshifting Web

That was Arthur Sze with The Invisible River. He's talking about the reality that's beyond form, but which form gives us hints of. He's conveying what's beyond words, but conveying it through words. Last week we talked about the indigenous cosmovision in which all things exist in relationship, and in which, perhaps, only the relationship exists and not the thing. Essential to the development of the zealot cosmovision is that it starts with a relationship. Other religions have one founder, but the Fourth Philosophy started in the dialogue between two teachers – Judas the Galillean and Zadok the Sadducee.

The only information known about the Sadducees is from hostile sources, since all texts were destroyed along with their followers when the Romans reconquered Jerusalem in 70 CE. But information about the Pharisees in the Bible is also hostile and presents them as elite. In fact, they were the priests of the peasant class. They didn't believe that the word of God could be written down, because it was a living and growing thing. To turn it into a static document would be to kill it. Written scriptures were the realm of the elite, since only 3% of Galileans were literate. The synagogue wasn't a building, but a gathering of people for the purpose of discussion, usually outside.

In the New Testament, there's one scene where Jesus goes back to Nazareth and teaches in the temple, reading from a scroll of Isaiah that says, "The spirit of the ...anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He sent me to preach release of captives and vision to the blind, to let the downtrodden go free, to proclaim the year of the lord's favor." Then he rolls up the scroll and sits down saying "Today the Torah is fulfilled in your sight." The people then say something to the effect of, "pretty words, homeboy, but let's see some good news. Spring some locks. Open some eyes. Erase some debts," as the jubilee, or year of the lord's favor, means. Jesus snipes back, quoting "No prophet is respected in his hometown," and points out that the other prophets only helped one leper or one widow, even though there were plenty more of them around. Just because there's a need doesn't mean a miracle's called for. Angry, they try to throw him off of a cliff, but he walks through the crowd unmolested.

However, archeologists say there's no evidence of a temple building in Nazareth, even though it's excavation central. Nazareth was a poor town and the people would have met on the shore. There also wouldn't be a scroll, since no one could read. But most importantly, there's no cliff. Cliffs don't come and go, even in 2000 years. The effect of the story is to blame the Jews for rejecting the prophet, which is a common theme. But the event couldn't have happened in Nazareth. If Jesus could read, was he really a peasant, and where was he really from? Before we answer these questions, let's hear Iron & Wine with a love song to another maligned Biblical character, Jezebel.

[Iron and Wine – Jezebel]

That was Iron & Wine with Jezebel and we're talking about other Biblical villains, the Pharisees. Seven times Jesus calls down a plague on them and on the Jews, which are called the seven woes or denunciations. He charges them with being the offspring of snakes and vipers because their ancestors killed the prophets. He says he'll also send prophets that they'll kill and crucify, flog in the synagogues, and chase from city to city. He warns that all the blood that's righteous will be on their heads, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, killed between the temple and the altar.

But the A to Z list of innocent martyrs killed, Abel to Zechariah, has troubled the inerrancy crew, who aim to prove that the Bible has no mistakes. Zechariah the prophet was killed on the temple grounds, but is the son of Jehoida. A minor prophet Zechariah has the right dad but wasn't martyred. The Skeptic's Annotated Bible Discussion Board has another suggestion. In 68 CE, decades after the death of Jesus, Zechariah son of Baruch, an equivalent of Berekiah, is killed by the zealots between the altar and the sanctuary, after a trial by the zealots for betraying them. He's accused of sending for help from Vespasian, who had become Caesar. Zechariah was wealthy and powerful, but according to Josephus it was his "hatred of wickedness and love of liberty" that provoked them. Didn't Bush say something like this after 9/11 – "They hate us because we love freedom"?

The zealots were headquartered in the Jerusalem temple. After Zechariah is killed, he's thrown "down out of the temple immediately into the valley beneath it." Aha. So the Jerusalem temple is conveniently located on the edge of a precipice, perfect for throwing a man down from. The scene in which the angry mob tries to throw Jesus from the temple parallels this. Jesus says, "You'll quote to me, 'Physician heal thyself,'" which implies he was under threat BEFORE he failed to perform a miracle. Jesus tells the Pharisees that Zechariah's blood will descend on this generation. He says Jerusalem's house has been left desolate," but that hasn't happened yet. Jesus doesn't say that it will be left desolate, but that it already has. Through this passage, Bible scholars date the gospels to no earlier than 68.

Let's review. Jesus wasn't born in Nazareth but might have been born in Jerusalem. He wasn't a peasant because he was literate. If the Seven Woes are true, he lived during the zealot revolution, the popular uprising for Judean sovereignty. But he was on the other side, and blames the insurgents rather than the Romans for the destruction of the temple, not to mention the suffering and misery of the people. Jesus doesn't, in fact, mention the suffering and misery of the people except to blame them. He lumps the Pharisees and Sadducees in with the zealots, faulting them not for being rich but because they executed a member of the wealthy elite who most likely betrayed Judean sovereignty. We'll now move on to Zadok's other half, Judas the Galilean. To introduce this section, we'll hear Stand Up for Judas by Dick Gaughan.

The Romans were the masters
When Jesus walked the land
In Judea and in Galilee
They ruled with an iron hand
The poor were sick with hunger
And the rich were clothed in splendour
And the rebels, whipped and crucified
Hung rotting as a warning
And Jesus knew the answer –
"Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's"
Said, "Love your enemies"
But Judas was a Zealot and he
Wanted to be free
"Resist", he said, "the Romans' tyranny"

  So stand up, stand up for Judas
  And the cause that Judas served
  It was Jesus who betrayed the poor with his word

Now Jesus was a conjuror,
Miracles were his game
He fed the hungry thousands
And they glorified his name
He cured the lame and leper
He calmed the wind and the weather
And the wretched flocked to touch him
So their troubles would be taken
And Jesus knew the answer -
"All you who labour, all you who suffer
Only believe in me"
But Judas sought a world where no-one
Starved or begged for bread
"The poor are always with us", Jesus said

Now Jesus sowed division
Where none had been before
Not the slave against the master
But the poor against the poor
Caused son to rise up against father
And brother to fight against brother
For "He that is not with me
Is against me" was his teaching
Said Jesus, "I am the answer
You unbelievers shall burn forever
Shall die in your sins"
"Not sheep or goats" said Judas but
"Together we may dare
Shake off the chains of tyranny we share"

Jesus stood upon the mountain
With a distance in his eyes
"I am the Way, the Life" he cried"
The Light that never dies
So renounce all earthly treasures
And pray to your heavenly father"
And he pacified the hopeless
With the hope of life eternal
Said Jesus, "I am the answer
And you who hunger only remember
Your reward's in heaven"
So Jesus preached the other world
But Judas wanted this
And he betrayed his master with a kiss

By sword and gun and crucifix
Christ's gospel has been spread
And two thousand cruel years have shown
The way that Jesus led
The heretics burned and tortured
And the butchering bloody Crusaders
The bombs and rockets sanctified
That rain down death from heaven
They followed Jesus, they knew the answer
All unbelievers must be believers
Or else be broken
"So place no trust in saviours"
Judas said, "for everyone?
Must be to his or her own self a sun"

That was Stand Up for Judas by the Scot, Dick Gaughan. Thanks to fellow programmer Phil Free for introducing Bob to this song, who shared it with me. Dick Gaughan is one of Billy Bragg's greatest influences, and this song gave me chills when I heard it. It's curious that his label's website lists the song as "Stand Up for Jesus. "Dick Gaughan puts words in Judas' mouth, "Place no trust in saviors, Judas said, for everyone must be to his or her own self a sun." These words would be in character for Judas the Galilean. Josephus writes,

"Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth branch of Jewish philosophy. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord.And since this immovable resolution of theirs is well known to a great many, I shall speak no further about that matter; nor am I afraid that any thing I have said of them should be disbelieved, but rather fear, that what I have said is beneath the resolution they show when they undergo pain."

Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.23

Judas and Zadoktold the Judeans that if they wouldn't shirk from any risk, God would stand with them. In 6 CE, their students scaled the Jerusalem temple in broad daylight, and hacked and sawed down the gilded eagle that was the sign of Roman rule. For this obvious provocation, the students were put to death and the two teachers publicly tortured. But a curious thing happened. It didn't quell the revolt. Instead, those who witnessed the executions became bold and fearless. Why?

Were Judas and Zadok telling the truth when they said that God would be on the insurgents' side? Before they incited their students to this dramatic act of defiance, did they prove to them that no harm could come to them? The word zealot means to invite punishment. Why would they do this unless they knew something that's been lost to history, buried by the scripture of a God who desires pain as retribution?

A century later, zealot families went to Alexandria after Jerusalem and Masada had fallen to Rome. They continue to spread the religion, unabashed. As a hostile witness, Josephus denounces their heresy as this:

"to assert their liberty, to esteem the Romans to be no better than themselves, and to look upon God as their only Lord and Master."

When the "Jews of reputation" turn the rebels over to the Romans, Josephus writes

"their courage, or whether we ought to call it madness, or hardiness in their opinions, everybody was amazed at. For when all sorts of torments and vexations of their bodies that could be devised were made use of to them, they could not get any one of them to comply so far as to confess, or seem to confess, that Caesar was their lord; but they preserved their own opinion, in spite of all the distress they were brought to, as if they received these torments and the fire itself with bodies insensible of pain, and with a soul that in a manner rejoiced under them. But what was most of all astonishing to the beholders was the courage of the children; for not one of these children was so far overcome by these torments, as to name Caesar for their lord. So far does the strength of the heart prevail over the weakness of the body."

What were the followers of this religion called? Nazareans, after the hometown of Judas the Galilean. What was the hometown of Josephus? Jerusalem. For Third Paradigm, this has been Tereza Coraggio. Thanks to Skidmark Bob for production and editing. We go out with the rest of the Kronos Quartet.

[Kronos Quartet – Requiem for a Dream]

Thanks for listening.