Do you think Jesus was libertarian?

…as answered on Quora….

The man whom Christians call Jesus Christ, whom Muslims call Isa, and for whom skeptical historians have been scouring ancient histories and the dust of the archeological record to get an objective fix upon, is a puzzling figure. Many contradictory things are imputed to him. Is he the Prince of Peace — or did he come not to bring peace but a sword? Arguments abound.

I was raised a Christian, but soon after I ceased believing in Christian dogma I found myself distancing myself from America’s statist dogmas, too — indeed, within three years of my apostasy I became a libertarian. Which is a kind of political apostasy, really. And, since that time, over forty years ago, I have witnessed religion and politics echoing each others’ concerns, myths, methods and madness.

But was Jesus a libertarian? No. Another Quoran answered this simply: he was a monarchist. Libertarian ideas may have been percolating in the background of political life and philosophy, but they had not boiled over yet, certainly not into the teachings of Jesus and St. Paul or elsewhere during the first century of the current era.

We could end the discussion there, but…

I have recently come to be more than half-convinced by Ralph Ellis, author of many books, including King Jesus and Jesus, King of Edessa — convinced of something relevant to the question: the Historical Jesus whose discovery has eluded our academic scholars is not really so elusive after all. He can be found in the pages of Josephus’s histories, identified by various names, “Jesus of Gamala” being the most prominent.

The parallels between the dramatis personae of the Jewish revolt that Josephus wrote about in The Jewish Wars and the cast of characters of the New Testament are astounding, and after carefully sorting through the peculiar pesher techniques of the rabbis who wrote the Talmud, and some obscure references in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient documents, Mr. Ellis has uncovered what he believes is the historical man behind the myths: King Manu VI of Edessa, known as “Izates” and “Izas” (hence our “Jesus”): this was a real, world-historic figure, descended from Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Parthian royalty, leader of the “fourth sect of Judaism” (the Nazarenes/Nazarites), and instigator of a tax revolt with the uber-ambitious, ultimate aim of becoming emperor of Rome.

Josephus, argues Ellis, secretly wrote the gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts to obscure the real history and thereby cook up a version of Judaism (Christianity, what Ellis calls “Simple Judaism”) that would allow the counter-revolutionaries Vespasian and Titus to rule somewhat peaceably.

Slyly jiggering with Jesus of Gamala’s revolutionary statements (particularly about taxes), Josephus — whom Ellis describes as the Flavians’ paid propagandist — made Jesus seem peaceful and almost Rome-friendly. Jesus of Gamala was not, of course. He was ultra-political, a king who was trying to become what Vespasian became, perhaps more. But the Jesus of the Gospels was depicted as less threatening to imperial power: “render unto Caesar” and all.

The key to Josephus’s psy-op was placing his characters back in time two score years, with the grand denouement in the short epoch of Pontius Pilate’s procutorship.

But what about liberty? What Josephus writes of the Nazarenes/Nazarites in the eighteenth book of The Antiquities of the Jews is interesting:

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. And it was in Gessius Florus’s time that the nation began to grow mad with this distemper, who was our procurator, and who occasioned the Jews to go wild with it by the abuse of his authority, and to make them revolt from the Romans.

While Josephus’s “Jesus of Gamala” was hardly a libertarian, we individualists might wish to learn something from the cult, what with its resistance to established authority and its “inviolable attachment to liberty.”