Introit to the English edition
© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten, Germany
© 2005, Uitgeverij Aspekt b.v., Soesterberg, The Nederlands
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This is a research report. However, it is written so that it can be easily understood by the interested layperson.
The impetus for this study was an article published in 1959 by R. Herbig, entitled Neue Studien zur Ikonographie des Gaius Iulius Caesar. It was apparent from this article that the preserved images of Caesar did not correspond to the mental image we hold of him. The triggering factor for the book in hand was the sight of Caesars portrait in the Torlonia Museum (cf. ill. 8, 10, 12, 17) and Erika Simons comment that it might be the head of the statue that Antonius had placed on the Rostra after the assassination of Caesar. It bore the inscription Parenti optime meritoto the most meritorious parent, in order to awaken feelings of both pity and revenge in the observer. In function and expression the Torlonia head resembled the sorrowful face of Christ in the Pietà and since Pietà representations are typical for Jesus Christ but not for Julius Caesar, the question arose as to whether the later Jesus borrowed other elements from the earlier Caesar.
Asked about this, theologians said it was not surprising since even emperor Vespasianus was reported to have healed the blind and crippled, exactly as described in the stories about Jesus. Such things were simply expected from the emperors charisma. Curious because of this, the author started investigating.
As a linguist and computer scientist he felt himself addressed professionally. Because he soon noticed that both curricula vitae, that of Caesar and that of Jesus, ran parallel. He also found that the names of people and places hardly differentiate in either report: Gallia and Galilaea, Corfinium and Cafarnaum, Junius and Judas, Mària and Marìa, Nicomedes of Bithynia and Nicodemus of Bethania, Pontifex Lepidus and Pontius Pilatus, etc. In addition, he noticed that other names, dissimilar to each other, seemed to be translations: the Caecilii as the blind, the Claudii as the lame, Metellus as mutilated, the man with a withered hand. And those conquered by Caesar are found again, as those healed by Jesus. And those besieged by Caesar are possessed in the Jesus storywhereby it was noticed that besieged and possessed are both obsessus in Latin. Even the respective figures close to them correspond with each other. For example, Caesars precursor and opponent, the great Pompeius, was beheaded and his head presented in a dish, and the very same thing happens to John the Baptist.
There are differences to be ascertained. Both were murdered; Caesar, however, was stabbed while Jesus was crucifiedbut with a stab wound in his side. A Cassius Longinus gave Caesar the deadly stab with a dagger, while Jesus was stabbed with a lance on the crossbut also by a Longinus! (This Longinus became a saint, and his feast day is on March 15the same date as the ides of March, on which Caesar was murdered by the homonymous Longinus). Caesars corpse was burned unlike Jesus, but it was shown to the people as a wax figure hanging on a cross-shaped tropaeum. And cremo in Latin means to cremate, but the similar sounding Greek word kremô means to hang, to crucify.
So, in the history of Caesar and Jesus, people and places have the same names. But even more important is the fact that these names appear in the same order. And this also applies to famous citations. Often verbatim:
Caesar: Who is not on any side, is on my side. Jesus: Who is not against us, he is for us.
In addition it turned out that contradictions in the Gospels became understandable if they were traced back to the Caesar sources. The Galilean Sea for example, which is made up of fresh water and is thus not a sea, is named correctly however, because it is originally the Gallic Sea, a part of the Adriatic.
Finally, all the symbols of Christianity are anticipated in the cult of Divus Iulius, the posthumously deified Caesar: the titles (God, Son of God, the Almighty, the Merciful, the Savior or Redeemer, etc.); the Mother of God; the cross in all its variations; the crucified one; the face on the Pietà; the crown of thorns; the long hair; the beard, the loincloth; the rod; the halo; the star of Bethlehem; the resurrection; the ascension, etc.
Thus, recognizing they were actually one and the same story became unavoidable. To anticipate the result: Jesus proves to be Divus Iulius, the deified Caesar, passed down in tradition.
This discovery is not completely new. In the 50s the German theologian Ethelbert Stauffer noted that the Easter liturgy did not follow the Gospel narrative, but the funeral ritual of Caesar. Unfortunately, only his early work Christ and the Caesars was translated into English, not his later Jerusalem and Rome which stated things more clearly. What is new is the proof presented in this study that the entire Gospel is a mutated history of the Roman Civil War, from the Rubicon to the assassination and burial of Caesar, i. e. from the Jordan to the capture and the crucifixion of Jesus. The basis of the Marcan Gospel is to be looked for in the Historiae of Asinius Pollio. His Historiae are lost to us, but were used by Appianus and Plutarchus, sometimes copied word for word, allowing for a comparison with the Gospel of Mark.
In our studywhich lasted more than ten years because the author was an entrepreneur in information systems and a publisher during that time, and could conduct research only in his spare timewe have often taken direct routes, detours, and even wrong turns because of general assumptions that proved to be misleading. For example, the communis opinio that Jesus never wrote anything and that the Gospels were preached for a long time before anyone wrote them down. This latter assumption led to the idea that there was a grapevine form of communication which proved to be incorrect. The mistakes and distortions in the passing down occurred in the copying and translation process, in the written much more than the oral transmission. Some of these direct routes and detours can still be recognized in the text of this book. That should not irritate readers, but allow them to follow the study as it develops. While reading it should be taken into consideration that some hypotheses have been refined and reformulated during the course of the research.
In order to not reinvent the wheel, the results of others were drawn upon where possible and appropriate. Naïve or bigoted readers who take interpolations of classical texts by ecclesiastical hand seriously, such as the so-called Testimonium Flavianum or the supposed mention of Christ in Tacitus or Suetonius, and unwittinglyor against ones better judgementaccept them as pure fact, have come to the wrong place: for we will not fight nor defend windmills. But supposedly progressive people who think that the Gospels are only fabricated fairy tales will also learn otherwise. The Gospels, even if naively distorted and disguised, are true history just as the Church has always maintained. We ask the reader to read with an open mind, or to simply not read it at all.
The results of this investigation are not a matter of debate anyway, and being objective facts cannot be argued away. Just as the earth does not stop rotating on its axis simply because the Church had such trouble getting along with Galileo or because we continue to speak romantically of sunsets, Jesus does not stop being Divus Iulius simply because obscurantists today, once again, do not want it to be true, or because believers continue to habitually name him so in prayer, as non-believers do in curses.
The reader might ask why the disclosure presented here has not spread like wildfire if it is valid, or why the whole world is not talking about it. This has been and is discussed, among other places on our website (www.carotta.de/forum.html). Mainly two reasons have been supposed.
The first is that hardly anyone dares to stand up for a theory they do not feel competent in. Nowadays there is such specialization of knowledge that it is difficult to find anyone who possesses equal knowledge of both Caesar and Jesus, and is at the same time familiar with all the historical, archeological, text-critical, philological, linguistic and methodological questions involved, and who is also trained in logic and well versed in Latin as well as Greek or Aramaic, etc. All honest scholars reach a point where they say: as far as my area of expertise is concerned the information is correct, but I cannot speak for the other areas involved. This, of course, allows the dishonest the opportunity to appear as if they know better and claim that everything rests on shaky foundations, giving overly cautious decision makers on historical and religious questions in the media an excuse for not touching that hot potato themselves, but leaving it to others.
The second reason is that this discovery requires a paradigm shift: away from geocentricity towards heliocentricity, away from the supposed centrality of the so-called Holy Land, back to that which today is easily forgottenthe Roman Empire. There are many things preventing this conversion. One would have to admit that Christianity was already subject to deception early on, and that the history of the deceptions which were successively carried out ad maiorem Dei gloriam, i. e. in the interest of each consecutive ruler, did not start with the fictitious Donation of Constantine, but much earlier, from the very beginning. Then it must be admitted that a successful antique dealer who understood supply and demand palmed relics off on Helena, mother of Constantine; that the Crusades were undertaken to liberate a holy grave that was never in Jerusalem, while at the same time the real grave in Rome was destroyed as a heathen relic; that Caesar is honored incognito in churches, temples and mosques throughout the entire world, and that the controversial dictator shapes the residual religious-moral backbone of the Oikoumene, i. e. our global community. Thats a bit much! It is understandable that some people hope that chalice passes them by, and there are again priests, this time priests of the media, who refuse to look through Galileos telescope.
A third reason could be given. The basic approach of this research is in the spirit of the Enlightenment. It is part of a long chain that goes from Laurentius Valla, (exposure of the Donation of Constantine as a forgery) via Voltaire, (If God created Man in His own image, Man has more than reciprocated), to Bruno Bauer, (the original Gospel writer is found in Roman Hellenism). But paradoxically it concedes that the Church is right, which has always maintained that the Gospels describe a true story. Moving the events from Rome to Jerusalem is less a falsification than if the whole story were fabricated. As a result this disclosure threatens to alienate its natural allies who now say they have not fought ecclesiastical obscurantism for centuries in order to reap the emperor as God! We had almost succeeded in presenting Jesus as pure myth and now he returns historically real, yes, even as an actual person. Over our dead bodies! (By which it is meant ours, not theirs!)
This research is in accordance with the Protestant demand for free inquiry and critical examination of the Scriptures, a demand to which we owe, among other things, the search for the historical Jesus which admittedly failed, but at the same time laid false or naïve ideas to rest. In the final result, however, it demonstrates that scripture is less reliable than tradition which has retained more of the Divus Iulius Cult and is therefore less adulterated. Even more difficult to accept is the fact that Jesus, alias Divus Iulius, was pontifex maximus i. e. during his lifetime he assumed the same office as the present Roman pope who is not recognized by Protestants. This might result in the loss of the other inner Church allies also. And it will help little to ask them to remember that Caesar, although a Roman himself, waged war against the old Rome expressly to establish a new order.
That allies could instead arise on the other front is hardly probable, though theoretically possible. The traditionalists are namely at their wits end and have lately started admitting it. Even Ratzinger, fierce defensor fidei at the Vatican, recently confessed that the greatest obstacle in spreading the faith today is the fact that the historical existence of Jesus can no longer be made credible. This is understandable, because if due to lack of a historical Jesus, the only concrete thing left is no longer the resurrection, but merely the belief of the early Christian community in the resurrection, what happens to Easter then? And how can an empty grave have any meaning when he who should lie there never existed? The death and resurrection of God which took place in this world are reduced to sheer symbols and are in danger of being eliminated from the worldalong with the Church. But now, with Jesus as Divus Iulius, as the deified Caesar, no one can claim any longer that he did not historically exist, because no mortal or immortal had a more real and tangible historical presence. Believers would finally have a reason to rejoice, even to triumph. But, just as a man cannot make a horse drink the water he has led him to, we cannot force people to be happy with this. And the anxiety accompanying the exposure of this historical deception will be felt more deeply by the most well-meaning, orthodox people. So from this camp too, the unexpected allies will be no multitude.
A fourth reason lies finally in the fact that like with every solution to a mystery, this one also has a disappointing effect. The end of delusion also means the end of illusion. The charm of myth is gone, the fairy tale has been dreamt, waking up is soberingit would be nice to dream awhile longer. Dracula is no longer intriguing when one knows that he really was Prince Vlad Tepes Draculea. The hieroglyphics were much more interesting before Champollion, when allegorical meanings could be attached to them in salons. Galileo is not as much fun as Von Däniken. Thus, while the archeologist and devout Catholic Erika Simon did not hesitate to write the afterword to this book and to stand by it with her good name, self-named protectors of the fabulating orthodoxy did not want to take the peoples Jesus away from them (literally quoted from a statement by the religion department of a television station that vetoed a documentary about this research) especially when they themselves thrive on it, sometimes fabulously. Yet this is the most beautiful of all fairy tales that Caesar, removed from the world, posthumously and incognito could dwell in our religious dreams, a true incubo of the world.
Formulating the assertionJesus was Caesarmight seem strange. This has less to do with the claim itself than with our images of Caesar and Jesus. These images, as those of the most important personalities of the worlds Pantheon, were always more shaped by myth than reality and even today they depend more on the zeitgeist than on objective knowledge. In our minds Caesar is a hardcore Roman commander (who would associate him with his proverbial clemency, his compassion for the enemy?) whereas Jesus is supposed to be a peaceful wandering preacherhis I did not come to bring peace, but the sword is meanwhile more often falsely attributed to the prophet Mohammed.
Yearning for a peaceful world led to a polarized distortion of both images. They became such self-evident truths that no one ever questions them.
One hardly knows Caesar from school, but from historical films and comics. He is apparently accused of being the father of all dictators. Since he cannot be classified as a Hitler, or a Stalin, attempts are made to blank him out, at least: A short history of antiquity recently published in Germany not only devoted no chapter to him, but not even a paragraph; he was mentioned only in passing beside Cicero. No biography of Caesar published after WWII tells of his funeral: they all end with his assassination so that both author and reader can give in to the unrestrained frenzy of the supposed tyrannicide and do not get in the embarrassing situation of having to mention or even more to explain the fact that the people revolted against his assassins and achieved his apotheosis. But whether or not a persons funeral belongs with their life story would be a good question. So one leaves him unburied rather than contend with the demon of his resurrection. Caesar commander, Caesar dictator: yes; Caesar pontifex maximus, Caesar son of Venus, Caesar himself God: no.
It is much the same with Jesus, and even so just the opposite. No one knows him anymore either. Who reads the Gospel nowadays? Yearnings for the original Church and early Christianity only allow for idealized images of him, oleographs, pure and innocent, in opposition to the Christian one corrupted in history. Even more so since textual criticism and the search for the historical Jesus has questioned his existence for centuries, so that everyone can form their own unrestrained image of Jesus. If he never existed then he could have been anything, and even more so, can become anything. Exorcist, resistance fighter, labor activist, national hero, feminist, gay, black, Jewhe can and must be everything and anything. But just not a dictator and not a Roman! He cannot come from the empire of evil, much less have founded it! Although everyone knows that Christianity spread within the borders of the Roman Empire, under Romans, and that the head of Christianity is today still seated in Rome.
Thus our own more or less unconscious images form the main hindrance to formulating the question: Was Jesus Caesar? We will see that targets and actuals differ considerably in this balance sheet also. Jesus and Caesar have more similarities than imaginable. It was not pure chance that both of them conquered the world in sandals.
The second thing that must be known is that this is not a debate about questions of religion, but merely of the history of religionmore precisely: about the archaeology of religion. The discussion is not about belief in Jesus, but only who the historical Jesus was.
Now the believing Christian as well as the unbelieving atheist might be of the opinion that it is obvious who Jesus was or was not, in whom they do / do not believe: the miracle worker, barefoot prophet from Galilee, who under Pontius Pilate was put to death under uncertain circumstances in Jerusalem and whose followers believe he rose from the dead.
Unfortunately, it is not that simple, because while Christianity is a factor that screams for the historical existence of its auctor, it is also a fact that no classical historian knew Jesus. He is only impeccably documented in the Gospels (the historical references given are too late and doubtful). That is why even the existence of Jesus became a subject of faith, not only his resurrection and teachings. That is the historical mystery, the true messianic secret of Jesus that to date has found no rational solution.
We suggest a change of scene, and abandon the opposing ditches in which the two enemy parties remain entrenched. We simply assume, as in mathematics, that the problem is solved and so we examine under what conditions that is the case. If both are correct, that Jesus Christ had to exist historically for Christianity to come into being, but at the same time the thaumaturgic itinerant preacher from Galilee could never have existed otherwise classical historians would have made timely reports of it, then the only possibility is that Jesus existed somewhere else and was later resettled in Galilee.
By a remarkable coincidence, 100 years before the supposed birth of Jesus another god-man was born, Gaius Julius Caesar, a righteous man, who was also murdered and elevated to the Gods after his death. Then a resettlement actually did take place, namely that of his veterans who were recruited in Gallia and resettled throughout the entire Empire, among other places in Galilaea, in the territory of King Herodes who was allied with the Romans.
Since the life story of both of these god-men, Jesus and Divus Iulius, show such amazing parallels (listing them is the purpose of this book), we are forced to recognize them as one and the same story, one that has been mutated and delocalized in the process of tradition and translation. In the same way a faithful Brazilian today would say that Saint Francis was not born in Assisi (Umbria), but in Assis (Rio Grande do Sul) or that St. George killed the dragon in Bahia, that he even came from that city, the liberator of Corfinium coming from Gallia became the exorcist of Cafarnaum coming from Galilee: Julius Caesar became Jesus Christ. Just as St. Francis wandered from Assisi to Assis as soon as Europeans resettled in the Americas, Divus Iulius of Gallia wandered to Galilee as the legionaries recruited in Gallia settled as veterans in Galilaea. The linguistic shift, here Italian and Portuguese (Assisi > Assis), there Latin and Greek (Gallia > Galilaia; Corfinium > Cafarnaum) helped to make the imported God and/or saint a native. Stories wander and are revised to fit in, then and now: the Christ child in the manger in Brazil is in some places a small native and in others a little black infant just as the Seven Samurai became cowboys in the American remake of the film. Resettlement resets stories.
The third thing that should be known, which preoccupies the non-readers more than the readers, is where the journey goes: What are the consequences?
There is no reason to panic here either. The journey goes nowhere, there are no consequencesfor now. The believer will continue to believe in his Jesus, and say to himself that it does not matter to him who the historical Jesus was, even if it must be Caesar, the main thing is, he did exist. The nonbeliever will be happy that there is proof that Jesus never existed and accept that he was Caesar, the main thing is, he never existed. Both will have to revise their image of Caesar, but that will pain them little, because one gets it almost exclusively from Hollywood or Asterix nowadays, (and that is plainly not the historical Caesar). The bomb under Christianity which is either feared or evoked will not igniteat least not yet.
In the long term a change in consciousness will occur, however. Nothing is as before. One listens differently to Bachs St. Matthews Passion when one knows it is really played for the divine Caesar. Easter is experienced differently when one knows that it is the death and resurrection of the historical Divus Iulius being celebrated. Caesars De Bello Civili is read differently when it is known that this book is the personally written Gospel of Jesus Christ. The four Gospels are read differently also, when we know that the first version came from God himself, who personally wrote history, but the second version was written by men who wrote history as they comprehended it, and the last version was written simply by jackasses who were faithful, but copied again and again according to their understanding and misunderstanding. Under these conditions it is not possible to rely solely on scripture or faith, neither sola fide nor sola scriptura helps. But now it is possible to distance ourselves from all those unspeakable conciliar disputes and schisms of belief which poisoned history and divided people when we know that the disputes were among jackasses who long since did not know of what and of whom they spoke and that in these quarrels blind orthodox believers sent one-eyed heretics, one after another, into the desert.
It will have a crucial effect to know again, and know definitely, that Jesus was a Roman and not a Jew as the Jews have generally always claimed. They did not know and persistently denied this man, who supposedly came from their people. Thus the charge that the Jews were the murderers of God is finally cleared out of the way, since Caesar was murdered by the Junii and not the Jews. At the same time the idea that Jesus descended from the Jewish people can also be dismissedwhich just might desacralize the relationship with them and deliver them from the tragic situation of eternal persecution and/or eternal claim for reparation.
Church fathers who have been stamped as heretics will be belatedly rehabilitated, such as Marcionwho said the God of the New Testament, the God of love and salvation has nothing to do with the old one, the God of righteousness and revenge, who maintained that the Gospels and the letters of Paul were forged by Judaistsor as Tatianus who testified that the genealogy of Jesus was fictitiously added in order to make him a descendant of David. The cult of the emperor, recognized more and more as the forerunner of Christianity, must be studied with different eyes. Above all we will understand those who say opposition between the Old and the New Covenants is an oriental metaphor for the old Rome of the Senate and the new Rome of Caesar; between the old order, righteous but exploiting, and the new order, liberating and promoting brotherly love; or as poets have observed, between ROMA and its mirror image AMOR.
The relationship to religion will change. If one knows that religion is the form in which an empire survives its fall, can a religion still be regarded as something private? If baptism represents, not only symbolically but also historically, the recruiting of legionaries for Christi. e. in reality the pledge of allegiance taken to the Julian emperorshould we be surprised by fundamentalism? What kind of tolerance might be expected then except the mercy of the victor? If one knows that the cult of Divus Iulius represents the origin of Christianity, is the longed for early Christianity to be seen in it? If Islam or possibly even Buddhism (see final chapter) are only other forms of the same primary cult, may we cherish the hope of returning to the historical unity of all believers once again? And if we know that Caesar, although Gods Son and even God himself (or maybe for that very reason), personally did not believe in life after death, will it be possible that believers and non-believers meet in him?
This English edition, revised and with added material, appears in spring 2005, shortly after the third Dutch edition. The first Dutch edition appeared in November 2002, three years after the original German edition, thanks to the engagement of Tommie Hendriks, experimental psychologist who initiated the translation sua sponte and Jan van Friesland, television programming director who made sure this research became known and thus led the way to having the book published.
Like the Dutch translation, this English one also originates from the initiative of readers who were of the opinion that this text absolutely should be available to those who dont know German. I personally would have preferred a Latin translation, however since English currently happens to be the most globally understood language as our translators argued, I did not wish to resist further, and so complied with their desire after all and did my part to assist them.
Now some of them prefer British English, the others American English. Therefore a middle course was sought to satisfy all, but it possibly leaves everyone unhappy in the end. And I dont know whether by doing this we have contributed to a desirable English koine or have done it a disservice. Hopefully the reader will be mesmerized by the content so much that he condones the style changing from chapter to chapter and even sometimes within a chapter, depending on the translating hand.
I thank Manfred Junghardt, a German surgeon living in the Caribbean, who took the initiative and started the translation process together with Tommie Hendriks, experimental psychologist from Utrecht, at the same time translator of the Dutch edition. In the course of time others joined: Joseph Horvath, an American who grew up in Germany, psychologist; Ed Young in Hawaii, an American computer technician and writer.
Each did their best to make this translation easy to read and at the same time true to the original. I thank them not least for the patience they had with a pedantic author and incorrigible Latinist who would rather see the English language maltreated than carry out adjustments.
The process of translation with six initially unpracticed persons (in addition to the four named above there were two more who also took partwe express our thanks to thembut have opted out), and from them all hardly one was perfectly bilingual, proved to be extremely awkward and demanding, but also amusing and instructive. To name but two examples: One of us mistook Pauls Cilicia for Sicilia; another Aramaic for Armenian, by which we demonstrated that we, too, are perfectly capable of making confusions and the delocalizations to accompany them. It was no different for reviewers: One of them once rendered Scipio as Scorpio and Hortensius as Horrensius. If we did not have modern e-mails fast correction and control possibilities at our disposal, and if the erroneous texts had simply been copied manually and sent into the world like two thousand years ago, to even be used as the basis for further translations into other languages or for back-translations, we would then be in the same fine mess that we amazingly find was the case with the Evangelists.
And so, arriving at the end of the process we are all more experienced and the wiser, and we can smile about our situation and feel a little like Evangelists ourselves. At any rate, in translating and writing we, too, have tried to serve the truth and God.
May readers enjoy the book and may the reading of it be fruitful for all: donum bonae frugi.
But enough said: Let us rather let the translators have a word themselvesincluding the one who is working on a Spanish version.
Saturday, July 13, 2002 (Caesars birthday 2102nd)revised 2005.
to the German original edition
(not included in the printed English edition)
In the beginning was the joke. When it comes to the Madonna Germany is an underdeveloped country. This was the depressing conclusion reached by a circle of parishless, orthodox believers in the year of our Lord 1988 in response to the triumphal procession of Wojtylas Madonnas from Czenstochau to Loreto, from Lourdes to Fatimaonly to mention a few. Determined to put things right, without further ado they did something always done in Germany when shortcomings are detectedthey founded a society to promote apparitions of the Madonna. Indeed they soon came to realize that the country is in fact a bastion for the adoration of Mary. One thinks of Altötting or Kevelaer, not to mention the Swiss Einsiedeln and the Austrian Mariazell. And even their area of south Baden fairly teems with saints and madonnas, particularly in the Dreisam basin in the Black Forest, into which the Gallo-Roman population retreated after the Alemannian invasion of the Upper Rhine Valley, and where even today they are loyal to Rome and, naturally, Catholic. There is a sanctuary to Mary on a hill called Giersberg, where a young herdsman once heard a beautiful chant and a voice which proclaimed that the Virgin Mary was to be revered at that very place. The initial unbelief was overcome when an image of the mother of God was discovered in the opening of a tree. That was long agoaround 1700but even today many more people can be found making the trek along the contemplative stations of the Cross up to the Giersberg-Chapel than can be seen on the nearby jogging path or the mountain-bike trail. So there really was no need for new apparitions.
Having been established, however, the society wanted to get busy and challenge disbelieving rationalists, who suspected the voice heard by the young herdsman was that of a monk hiding behind the tree. They wanted more than just miraculous images and holy cards, they wanted to provide authentic, indisputable andno half measuresonly up-to-date, state-of-the-art and politically correct apparitions. Thus soon there appeared a red Madonnaquite progressive in form and more a Venus than a Maryon an alleged belladonna tree (in fact a Japanese inedible sour cherry tree), in the old cemetery of the revolutionaries which nowadays is a playground in the green Wiehre, that Jugendstil home to artists, environmentalists and those who favor alternative lifestyles, in Freiburg. It did not take long before the parapsychological and paranormological attestation was obtained and it declared: It is precisely because the BellaMadonna Wiehremensis contradicts all the well-known forms of apparitions, that it is an authentic one.
On the first of May of the following year a great function was celebrated before a considerable congregation with resounding success. Misled disrupters tried to drown out Gounods Ave Maria by blasting the strains of the leftist rock band Ton-Steine-Scherben from loudspeakers at full volume, but they were brought to silence. The somewhat unusual liturgy, bordering between a heretical happening and serious May devotions, desecration and nostalgia, satire and yearning, was performed undisturbed under the gracious evening sun.
That was the beginning and the end of the society. The success, however, took a suprising turn. A feminist woman from Milan who had made an investigation into the heretics of the Holy Ghost came up with the idea that it might be possible to turn the joke into a fairy-tale and stage it in Milan, where they had just occupied the Dome. But the group from Freiburg would have preferred to go straight to Rome and place, as it were, the explosive surprise directly under the chair of Cardinal Ratzinger.
In the end nothing came of it. But in the meantime, one of the society members had sounded out local conditions and discovered that an ideal place for the apparition of the BellaMadonna would be the ruins of the temple of Venus in the Forum Iulium. So he started to inform himself and discovered, surprised and amused, that it was Caesar who had founded that temple and consecrated it to his ancestress Venus Genetrix, who, by dint of her deified Son becoming the universal God of the empire as Divus Iulius, became the Mother of God.
This strange theology, which looked like a paradigm for the Christian genealogy of God, caused our Madonnaro to regard the images differently. He soon saw in the marble head conserved in the Torlonia Museum not only the suffering face of Caesar but also the face of the suffering God; and in Cleopatra, whose statue was set up in the temple of Venus, that other beloved of God: Magdalene. He found it strange that lÉglise de la Madeleine in Paris seemed to be an architectonic copy of the temple of Venus in Rome.
Both figures of the Roman and the Christian God suddenly fused into onean image that was crystal clear and yet indefinable at the same time. To ward off an approaching paralytic seizure, he tried to formulate a minimal hypothesis in order to articulate all of this: Maybe something of the cult of Caesar had found its way into Christianity. In this way he could begin to verify and he soon feared he would learn more than he was comfortable with.
At the same time he had to smile, because what so often happens was occurring againthe sorcerers apprentice is overwhelmed by the forces he frees. They who had set out to stage a fraudulent apparition had found their master: werent the gospels themselves a forged phenomenon, and indeed such a successful one as to resist every attempt to throw new light on them up until now? Had there been a first, original fraud, one that made later ones such as the Donation of Constantine look like a choir boys prank? When he told his friends in the society about his suspicionthat Jesus might be Divus Iulius, distorted in the East/West mirrorthe most friendly response he received was You know, youve told better jokes before.
But he could not let it go. He asked specialists at universities and institutes, enlightened people with critical minds. Their answers were formally polite, they were even helpful and forthcoming with advicethey suggested good reading material and they found the hypothesis intriguing. But they could barely conceal their head shaking. They admitted that after 200 years of searching for the historical Jesus there is still nothing known for sure about him other than a possible bare existenceand even that is doubted. However they seemed to be resigned to it, and almost to make a dogma out of it, that we can know nothing about Jesus. Or is it that we ought to know nothing?
So he had no other choice but to start comparing the texts himselfon the one hand the Lives of Caesar, on the other the gospelsand to read them in a parallel mode. Because translations proved to be unusabletraduttore traditorehe resorted to the original scriptures. And this was the point where he had an aha experience. As a man plagued by the personal computer and nerve-wracked by desktop publishing, he could not avoid seeing the texts with OCR-trained eyes, detecting typical misreadings. The gospels looked as if they had been read by optical character recognition, then changed for the worse by a correction program gone awry, or, as though they had been corrupted by translating them automatically by computer. Anyone who has tried using such programs knows what happens: if a German text is scanned in French, then a 1a is not interpreted as prima, first-class, but as the article la, the (feminine); brilliant spell-checkers may divide analphabet into anal-phabetwhats a phabet, a patient stricken by a shameful disease?; By mistakenly selecting the wrong registere. g. gastronomy instead of theologythe phrase the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak might be turned into the whisky is served, but the steak is rare. It is a question of routines, of the dictionary or the register. What else but the reading-glasses separates Caesars Gallia from Jesus Galilaia, or perhaps Kaisara from Nazara? What separates Caesars Corfinium from Jesus Cafarnaum, or for instance Pontifex Lepidus from Pontius Pilatus but the thesaurus used? What is the criterion for deciding that evangelion can only mean good message and not message of victory, that the first word of the gospel, archê, should be rendered with the banal beginning and not with the classic command, or, what is the basis for deciding that the sêmeia, the signs are neither ensigns nor the omens, but only miracles/wonders, if not the linguistic register selected by the translator? Those texts, which could only be handed down to us by the manual copying of the copy of the copy, with obscure transitions of language, which passed through many anonymous, sometimes ignorant or even biased handsof preachers, evangelists, amanuenses, fathers, heretics, revisers, monks
How often and to what extent have the applied routines, dictionaries and registers been mistaken?
This now clearly defined and thus verifiable suspicion, became the driving force behind the investigation. It was an exciting treasure hunt and a fascinating puzzle. The most difficult thing was to free oneself from traditional ideas, to be open minded enough to see what really occurs in the text before ones eyes. As the saying goes: One only sees what one knows. And one resists knowing what one sees.
At some point the picture had been reconstructed far enough that many at the university, and even from the society, insisted, even demanded, that the author publish his work. Ten years later this has been done. So may everyone judge what is in it.
In any event it would seem that, by placing the lives of Caesar and Jesus in parallel juxtaposition with each other, the Rosetta stone has been found which could be the key to the long overdue deciphering of the gospels and possibly even of the whole New Testamentwhether by chance or divine providence, as Flavius Josephus would have put it. Or was it simply the case, to speak like Caesar, that little things can have a great effect?
History is always written by the victorsand rewritten by the next winner. Consequently the ultimate winner is he who writes the last history. And this can be someone other than the winner, especially if the winner, unwisely, orders someone else to write it for him.
The text on hand invites us to follow the thread, the spoor of exactly such a way of writing history, rewriting and revising it. Mark well: it is an epochal one. It concerns the greatest falsification of world history, nothing less.
Fake? Truth? And Pilate said unto him: What is truth? Let us put it this way: we invite the reader to follow a metamorphosis, or if you like, a transubstantiation. Is Jesus Caesars larva, his mask and ghost, wandering incognito within world history? Is Divus Iulius the original and Jesus the copy? And if yes, was it historical development or hocus-pocus? How, where, when and through whom, under whose orders and for what purpose did the biblification of the gospels take place?
We will follow the tracks of the veterans who settled in the Orient, without losing sight of the rulers and their historians. With Cleopatra, Antonius, Octavianus and Asinius Pollio; with Herodes and Nicolaus Damascenus; with Vespasianus, Titus and Flavius Josephus: all the way from Rome to Jerusalemand back! We will encounter Saulus/Paulus along the way.
We will be moved into a time in which theologians were not supposed to interpret or even quibble, but were simply to deliver the material. Theology was the technology of God and did not have to answer the question Who is God?, but rather the question of how to create a God. From it, power hungry rulers could derive the fundamental principle of their politics, their technique: How do I become God?
He who set up the right God was victorious. In order to keep up with the winner, the only thing the loser could do was to set God aright. We will see how this happened with Divus Iulius and Jesus respectively.
A thriller sui generis: it is about Gods, people, and jackasses. It is about homicide, about deicide, it is about crucifixion and corpse-robbing; about the epiphany, and the concealement and disguising of our God. It is not fiction, it is an examination, an investigation.
It is better to lay aside all prejudices, and if possible, fear, right now. And let he who on the threshold does not want to make the sign of the cross, take sustenance from the old apotropaic formula:
Fas sit vidisseMay it please God, that I have seen what I have seen.
Kirchzarten 1999on the day of the solar eclipse.