Jesus was Caesar – Translators

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experimental psychologist from Utrecht,
at the same time translator of the Dutch edition

in the background:
the pub ‘De Morgenster’
i.e. VENUS

The milieu of my childhood was not marked by a strong religious zeal. Now and then my father would put such fervor into perspective. If you started to answer a question of his with ‘I believe’, he could at times interrupt you by saying with a smile, ‘Believing is what you do in church, my son. Here, you have to know for sure.’ By the time I went to high school much of my youthful interest in what happened on Sundays in church had faded. During Mass I kept myself busy by rehearsing the Latin texts in my missal and comparing them with their Dutch counterparts. I still know the Lord’s Prayer by heart: Pater noster qui es in caelis…

Not long thereafter I must have come to the understanding that the Gospel presents us with quite a lot of physical impossibilities, such as walking on water and raising the dead. The introduction to the so-called arguments for the existence of the Supreme Being strengthened this understanding. The peculiar idea that the Gospel had been written under the influence of an active agent from the transcendent world—on God’s orders so to speak—expressed a logic you could not easily argue with and you preferred to stay in line with the brilliant savant Laplace, who, after explaining the complete astronomy to Napoleon, answered the emperor’s remark that God was not mentioned in his treatise with ‘Sire, I do not need that hypothesis.’ His countryman Voltaire did not need it either and said so roguishly: ‘If God made us in his image, we have certainly returned the compliment.’ Indeed, the concept of God as a product of the human mind is a widespread notion in our Western world. God resides in our grey matter, but that reason by itself does not make it less real to a great many people.

My scepticism on the historical reality of the Gospel story increased even more when I learned that the oldest manuscripts of the complete Gospel date from centuries after the actual events. In addition there is the capital fact that there are more differences among the Gospel manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. And these differences can be quite substantial: Only two of the four Evangelists present a genealogy of Jesus, which, however, differ completely from one another in that hardly any names of the long list of Jesus’ so-called ancestors provided by Matthew (1:1-17) correspond to those given by Luke (3:23-38) and in addition to this there are numerous differences in name between the manuscripts of one and the same Evangelist.

So apart from unreality the Gospel story is also marked by uncertainty and unreliability. But the greatest problem for me was to accept that the events as told by the Gospel should have triggered a world religion. It simply did not look possible to me that a barefooted preacher, sprung from the religious fundamentalism of a nomadic people once hardened in the desert, could have lit the brush fire of Christianity. For that matter, the actions of Jesus seemed to me too accidental and too implausible, his doctrine too indistinct, his words too vague and too soft. And what of the manner of his death? Well, in those days that was not sensational either. No, the words credo quia absurdum were wasted on me. While around me Jesus sometimes was simply smoothed out as a pure, unrecoverable legend, or was at other times dissolved in a mythical mist or transformed into a sheer literary character, I was left with an enormous problem: it became increasingly clear to me that a historically satisfying explanation for the origin and early development of Christianity had never been given. Where, for heaven’s sake, is that world-shattering event, that Flood in biblical terms, the earth-shaking Sept. 11th, to use a recent image? Where is that devastating event that made it possible to redefine the abnormal, the fantastic and the physically impossible, as normal? A religious drive or need surely is a necessary condition for the genesis of a particular religion. However, it is absolutely not a sufficient condition for the genesis of a world religion. Consequently I was left with the enigma of the origin of Christianity and the paradoxical historicity of its instigator.

In my student days the problem faded into the background. I became totally absorbed in the scientific world of experimental psychology where I specialized in learning and perception. For many a year I worked at the university and took part in fundamental research in the difficult field of human olfaction. Yet, I never lost interest in historical problems. Then, in December 1999, I struck upon the German investigative report ‘Was Jesus Caesar?’ At first I held it to be a strange joke, but after reading the whole intriguing report I found myself in silent wonder. Had I really found the solution to the Christian enigma?

In order to avoid being taken for a ride I decided to reread the book. This time with the relevant primary literature close at hand. So I read the study meticulously a second time with the writings of Appianus, Dio Cassius, Plutarchus, Suetonius and others within reach. No matter how I tried I could not find improper or wrong use of the sources or any other mistake in the author’s analysis of the parallel biographies of the two most famous men living at the start of our Western calendar. Which in itself is of course not sufficient proof of the theory that the worship of Divus Iulius—the deified Caesar—mutated within a period of some 7 generations to the cult of early Christianity. Proof of that is found in hundreds of systematic similarities between the two lives, the explanatory power of the theory as compared to the usual one, and an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence with regard to almost every aspect of the Christian church. Never in history had there been such great opportunity to watch the genesis of a god. Not just the genesis of some arbitrary god, but the genesis of our own personal God, who appeared to be successful for two thousand years.

I considered the findings of this German study to be so important for a world-wide and sophisticated discussion on the origins of Christianity and Islam that I felt obliged to deliver a Dutch translation and contribute to the present English version.

The inscription on Caesar’s first cult statue ran PARENTI PATRIAE – usually translated as ‘to the Father of the Country’. As I once was during my childhood years, I am again on my knees in church, comparing the texts in my missal. And I read: ‘Our Father who art in heaven…’ and I now realize that he is neither a man nor a woman. Parens is father and mother in one. Never did our god let half of humanity down.

    Tommie Hendriks—Utrecht

German surgeon living in the Caribbean
When someone is interested in history, he cannot avoid the phenomenon of religion. And I am interested in history. I had to realize that the moving and formative forces exerted by the different religions were very important for the development of history. Whole societies or parts of them rose or faded away as a result of religious movements. But where have the displaced rulers gone—how did gods and goddesses come into being? Where are their archetypes?

There were and there are too many of them, each carrying the respective features of the culture that revered them. Why is this so? The polytheistic division of labor was brought to an end by monotheism. The river-god of the early farmer then became the one and only God of a society or even of several peoples. After its complete development monotheism tied the Jewish people together. For whom was it useful then to invent a son of God, a duplication of God, which appears as a logical contradiction to me? At this point the author starts and shows with all his analytical tools of the trade how a living and adored God of those times—Caesar—became the Son of God, the Christ.

The reading of this book fascinated me, because of its detailed analysis of the historical situation, which too often also became a religious statement, because it met the political will and usefulness.
And if it was very stimulating for me to understand and classify religious-historical relationships, why should this pleasure be withheld from English readers?

This was the most important point to me for participating in the translation.

    Manfred Junghardt—Waren/Müritz

an American who grew up in Germany,
‘Jesus Never Really Existed’. This was the headline of an interview in die tageszeitung (taz), an established alternative German daily newspaper, published in the spring of 2001. The overline asked: ‘Was Jesus actually Caesar, Mr. Carotta?’ Now, the taz is known and popular with its readers for satirical headlines especially on the front page and fantastic stories which mostly appear on the last page that is titled ‘the truth’. This interview, however, took up the whole of page three, it was not the issue of April 1st and seemed absolutely serious. Fascinated by the idea, I read the text several times and although—or perhaps because—as a former altar boy I felt familiar enough with the Gospel to know that Jesus could not possibly have been Caesar, nevertheless, from the reasons the interviewed man gave I had a feeling that there was some truth in it. Immediately I ordered the book and read it three times from cover to cover in the following weeks, marvelling more and more, seeing more connections each time, and soon becoming convinced that no matter how outrageous the mutation seemed it was actually true: Jesus, i. e. the historically transmitted Divus Iulius, did exist after all and still exists incognito. The latter I comprehended only later.

It was the most informative and thrilling nonfiction work I had ever read, and it was written wittily and well at that. Had anybody told me before that I would study with such enthusiasm a book about the historical Jesus of all people, whom I long ago had banished as a pesky fairy-tale told by wet-nurses and priests, or even would intensively occupy myself with the subject, I would have laughed at them. But now, being happy with this rare find I recommended it to all my friends and with that I, in turn, came across disconcertment, fright and sometimes laughter. Wondering about the implications of this epochal discovery and the consequences it might entail I wrote a congratulations and thank-you letter to the author from which a lively, very interesting and instructive correspondence evolved. In the course of which a temporary dispute arose: With all his knowledge and ability I considered him a cleric in disguise—a misconception and confusion as I understood gradually—whereas he called me a militant atheist who willfully hurt other’s religious feelings, which regrettably did occur sometimes. The preoccupation with the origin of Christianity, caused by the reading of this book, which does not require a credo quia absurdum gave me more calm and a better understanding of religion and faith. And just as it is healing for the individual to confront his or her own past and make it conscious, the collective might also achieve a similar beneficial effect by learning the historical truth about its civilization and religion, and resolving the historical trauma.

When the author offered me the opportunity to participate in the English translation, which, amazingly, had still not appeared by early 2003, I gladly accepted, honored by the chance to contribute to the international publication of this unique work. It was a laborious task, annoying at times due to the multitude of mistakes made in the cooperation of translators with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, but also an enriching experience and fun, because the translation process conveyed a vivid idea and amusing practical examples of how some of those corruptions took place that produced the Gospels as we know them.

    Joseph Horvath—Konstanz

in Hawaii, an American
computer technician and writer.
It was through the Internet that I first encountered the author’s historical discovery and mentions of his book. I was doing my own research for a book about ancient Roman/Jewish relations, and had somehow stumbled on this unique bombshell of an idea: that the stories of Jesus Christ had their origin in the history of Julius Caesar. At first skeptical, the more I read of this new line of research, the more convinced I became, and the more amazed.

I set my project to the side, and delved into studying Julius Caesar and the century or two of Roman history after his death more closely, while I waited impatiently for the English version of this intriguing book to be published. This was not a large setback to my own work at all. The origins of Christianity still fell within the domain of my subject matter since there is no doubt that Christianity results from a Roman and Jewish interaction. (Although in the light of this new information, I now would need to reassess many of my previous thoughts on the subject!) So I studied and found much to support what I knew of this extraordinary discovery, but the constant apple of my eye, so to speak, was to get a copy of this book and read it.

October 2003 rolled around, and still no English version was available. In frustration, I began to correspond with the author directly, and I attempted to convince him of my sympathetic interest in his ideas, and my great desire to read his book. He proved to be a friendly and engaging e-mailer, and I made every effort to be the same. One thing led to another, and he offered me a place on the translation team, which I accepted with no hesitation.

It has been many months since then, and I have never regretted my decision. Participating in the very involved process of translating a detailed work of scholarship has been educational, and it’s been both greatly enjoyable and a privilege to deal closely with such intelligent, well-informed individuals who are enthusiastically interested in religion, history, and language, and are unafraid of new and challenging ideas. It has also been eerily ironic to watch a book being translated, seeing in action the problems and issues involved in it, when the book itself deals so very keenly with the process of translation, and with the mind-boggling misunderstandings that can result because of those very same problems. But most of all it has been exciting to take part in a project the subject matter of which is both close to me and my interests, and which will also be very important to many others who read this amazing book.

My lifelong fascination with history and religion certainly included Christianity, simply because it is my own religion and I have always felt an undeniable inner demand to know the full truth behind it. Having been raised as a Protestant, with a wife who is Catholic, and having decided to send our daughter to a Catholic school, the questions raised by the author’s research are of some significance to me. But far from making me ‘lose faith’ or disdain Christianity, the surprising effect has been a deepening of my interest in and respect for Catholicism. Walking into a Catholic church for me now, is like walking into my backyard knowing that a much loved shade tree is actually a species long thought to be extinct; or it is like walking into a large time machine, perhaps a little error-prone, that is still capable of bringing a fascinating part of the distant past into the present moment. It is like looking at something you have known all your life, and yet only now seeing it for the first time with clarity, and only now fully realizing how dearly fond you are of it, how much importance and relevance and power it still has, and, joyfully, how much more it could yet become and achieve, if only, if only…

Yes, this book will be disturbing because so much turns out to be so wrong. Jesus, Christianity, Julius Caesar, Roman history, the Jewishness of Christianity, all these and more, are not at all what or who we thought they were. For example the standard perceptions of Julius Caesar, his cult, and their historical importance are incorrect and must be reexamined and something wholly unexpected resurrected in their place. He was, and is, far more important than we had ever thought. The mind reels at trying to grasp the extent of it. We cannot avoid the fact that the western world will never be the same; Christianity may even face its biggest crisis. But in crises there is opportunity. It will be up to us to find and preserve the meaning here, to steer a safe course and redefine our civilization and religion using this new and more accurate information. Perhaps if we navigate with care, if we have learned what is worth learning, we will make sure that the new definitions will include justice, love, generosity and forgiveness, just as Caesar—Jesus would want us to.

    Ed Young—Honolulu

Catholic priest
of a Spanish village,
At the beginning of 2003, I was working on the preparation of a Passion Play, the ‘St. Mark Passion’, which I—as a Catholic priest of a Spanish village, Rascafría—have staged together with the young people and the children of the village since 1995. Although we faithfully followed the text, each year we researched many historical sources to ascertain the context and to represent it more accurately on stage. During an Internet search to learn more about the historical context and discover whether anyone else was doing something similar, I came upon the website To my astonishment, the Passion and the whole Gospel had a truly Roman context, and they do lead back to Julius Caesar.

Immediately I contacted the author. He answered all the questions I asked him with the absolute honesty of a philologist and historian. Everything that he sent to me I had checked by experts who remained pensive, perplexed, and although they told me that it was a new theory that was hard to prove, they could not prove to me that it was false. So I became engrossed in the investigation, changed the whole context of the St. Mark Passion, which after all was neither Jewish nor Essenian, but Roman, and for the first time I directed a Passion Play knowing that it was not the true story but a rewritten one.

Year after year, the alterations we had made were explained to the young people. After this performance I showed them the complete investigation and told them that the next Passion we present will be the historical, not the literary one. They agreed to that.

Now we are working on the recovery of the original ‘Passio’ while at the same time we are translating ‘Jesus was Caesar’ into Spanish. With the help and philological as well as historical advice of the author, the ‘Passio’ will soon be published, and with the help of the young people also staged.

    Pedro García González—Madrid

Desde comienzo de año de 2003 estaba preparando una “pasión”, “La pasión según San Marcos”, que como Párroco católico de un pueblo español, Rascafría, desde el año 1995 veníamos representando con los jóvenes y niños del pueblo. Aunque seguíamos fielmente el texto, cada año investigábamos muchas fuentes históricas para conocer el contexto y representarlo mejor. Buscando en internet para encontrar contextos hsitóricos y saber si alguien estaba haciendo algo semejante, encontré el portal ; para mi sorpresa la Pasión y todo el Evangelio de Marcos no tenía contexto judío sino romano, no se remontaba a de los Esenios como yo esperaba y como algunas investigaciones insinuaban, sino a Julio César.

De inmediato me puso en contacto con su autor, Francesco Carotta. Todas las preguntas que le hacía me las respondía, con absoluta honestidad de filólogo e historiador. Todo lo que él me enviaba lo contrastaba con expertos, que se quedaban pensativos, perplejos, pero aunque me decían que era una nueva teoría muy difícil de demostrar no me demostraban que era falsa. Entonces investigué a fondo cambié todos los contextos de la pasión según San Marcos, que ya no eran judíos ni esenios, sino romanos y por primera vez representé una pasión sabiendo que no era la verdadera historia, sino una reescritura.

A los jóvenes año a año les explicaba los cambios que hacíamos. Terminada la representación les mostré por completo la investigación y les dije que la próxima pasión que representásemos sería la histórica, no la literaria. Ellos estuvieron de acuerdo. 

Ahora estamos trabajando en la recuperación de la “PASSIO” originaria, al mismo tiempo que estamos traduciendo “Jesús fue César” al español. Con la ayuda y asesoramiento filológico e histórico de Francesco Carotta, como coautor que es de la “Passio” vendrá editada y con la ayuda de los jóvenes vendrá representada.

    Pedro García González—Madrid

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