I am afraid. I will not be able to finish this story. A bolt from the blue and whooh! The story is gone. However it may serve you well to learn what I have learnt. or atleast learn a part of it.
I am an archaeologist by training and by vocation. No, this is not Indian Jones redux. Nor is there any Lara Croft in it. This is plain old fashioned grunt work with digging of mud and taking a lot of notes. If I had known that archaeology was all about mud and paper, I may not have chosen it as a career as a young man. But boyhood dreams die hard and the young are impatient and restless. Steven Spielberg can be so convincing in his movies. Maybe I will die an Indiana Jones death if not an Indiana Jones life. But I digress. I have noticed I tend to do that a lot more recently.
This story is less about me than about something I found. I found a parchment while digging at a site in Jerusalem. Perhaps I should say the parchment found me. It was originally discovered by an Arab Shepherd on the hills in the villages near Jerusalem and was brought to the museum where I was visiting as a guest lecturer. Apparently it had been well hidden under a rock and a chest of iron- but a misfired rocket (Arab) or an errant mortar shell (Israeli) uncovered it. Great discoveries have been made by serendipity yet.
The parchment was in Latin, which was a bit unusual considering it was dated around the 1 st century. It seemed like an official report of something. But wait, I am skipping a few steps here. You see perhaps you should try and understand what a professional archaeologist like me does when he finds something or is brought some interesting data. We first check if it is real. The best way is to carbon date it. Even an old fake from the first millennium is more valuable than a new genuine find from the third millennium.
Having verified that is neither fake nor junk, we take steps for preservation. It is essential we keep the evidence.
The translation was done by me personally. I like old languages a lot. This is what the parchment read.
In the month of Augustus in the year fifth of the reign of Emperor Nero, a memorandum from the Imperial Security Agency to the Senate sub committee of Intelligence
We had been tasked with verifying the origins and facts behind the rumors concerning the divinity of one Jesus, son of Joseph occupation carpenter, crucified almost two hundred years for rumor mongering and disturbing the peace by order of Prefect Pontius Pilate, garrison commander of Jerusalem. This is what we have found.
we have no evidence of holy spirit impregnating virgins in this country. we do have anecdotal tales of how pre-marriage sex and teenage pregnancies were common in pre-Roman Judea, and that the holy spirit was a convenient excuse for lack of contraception. In the case of Jesus, it seems that the rumors concerning his immaculate birth were less aimed at sanctifying his mother, than for denying his family including descendants of his four brothers from any legal claim on properties built in his name.
By denying Joseph patrimony, his lineage is automatically cut from any divinity.
Most of this damage control or spinning is the written work of one Peter , an ex fisherman crucified by Roman Empire for treason against Caesar. Some supporting material has been found to be written by one Saul, a deserter from the Imperial Civil Services, who later went by the name of Paul.
The miracles of Jesus were found to be mostly magic tricks known to artisans employed by the then Roman Colosseum, but unknown to Judea. It may be possible that the carpenter picked them up from a travelling salesman. More difficult was to establish the written work called “New Testament” which claims Jesus was the Messiah of Jewish people. The writing is repetitive, and though edited repeatedly suffers from both contradictions as well as conflicting accounts. Obfuscating the language has not helped our interpretation. It is quite certain though that Jesus himself never wrote anything on paper. Nor were any on site scribes present for taking dictation in Aramic for his lectures , speeches and parables. He may have been a entertaining chap yet, but he was not a writer.
The turning of water into wine is a simple chemistry experiment, and the division of fish and loaves was done by over inflating the size of the crowd and hidden baskets. Walking on water- well the Dead Sea is easy to walk on- it is shallow and has a lot of salts. After that it was a simple substitution of facts from Dead Sea to the other Sea.
The parables and words attributed to Jesus are in fact sayings from Judeau spun into a narrative. Clearly Jesus could entertain the crowds.
His death , clearly a legal responsibility of the Roman Empire is more disquieting than his birth. It was signed for by a Roman prefect, carried out by Roman troops and for Roman political objectives on keeping the population of Judea quiet. We have no found of his miraculous return after death though (after three days) which has been key to furthering the religion called Christianity.
It is our opinion that the returned Jesus was simply one of his brothers persuaded by Peter to play a role. That particular brother later died mysteriously in a ship wreck when sent to one of the distant churches by Saul.
However given the rapid rise of Christianity, it is our considered opinion to distance the Roman State from any responsibility of his death ( or rise). Indeed his status as a martyr can be used or propaganda value to confuse and demotivate the population, which is restless post the recent battle of Masada.
Let us suppress facts to Jesus’s nature as a man, and use him as a tool to further the interests and goals of the empire, particularly in Byzantium . We can always blame the Jews for the death of Jesus.
First Analyst of the Roman Empire
Imperial Security Agency
Back to the present, I was troubled by what to report and not to report. This is what I wrote in my opinion note to the University.
This document seemed genuine and yet an incredible find. We should have a press conference shortly to discuss its contents. It is the oldest science fiction story ever told. Now beat that Asimov!