20. The belief that Jesus was entombed in France was widespread in the first and second century
The resurrection of Jesus was not widely accepted among the early followers of his teachings, whom in the first century were generally referred to as Nazarenes, rather than as Christians. The symbol with which they identified themselves was less that of the cross, and more widely that of a fish. Sects of the Nazarenes believed that the body of Jesus was removed from the tomb in which it had lain and transported elsewhere. One explanation of this belief, which is widely reported in apocryphal texts, is that Mary Magdalene had the body removed from the tomb and carried to an underground crypt prepared through the approval of Tiberius (the Roman Emperor), in the south of France.
The Avenging of the Savior is an eighth century apocryphal text which recounts Mary Magdalene’s journey to Rome, under the name of Veronica, where she obtained the permission and support of the emperor to have Jesus interred in a crypt near today’s village of St. Thibery (itself a reference to the name Tiberius, rendered Thibere). The document, and others which describe the location of another tomb, to which the body of Jesus was later moved, are held by the French National Library in Paris.
For centuries legends and folklore have described Jesus surviving the crucifixion and fleeing, in company with Mary Magdalene and in some cases with his mother as well, to southern France. During his remaining lifetime, according to the legends, the church born of his followers in Palestine spread, including to the region in which he resided. One such legend is that Jesus died at the Church of Sainte Salyvre in Languedoc, and that his embalmed body was transported to a nearby chateau, where it was buried. It was later moved to a secret location at or near Pic de Bugarach.
Another church in the French region of Provence claims to have within its midst the tomb of Mary Magdalene. The church, the Basilica de Saint Maximin La Sainte Baume (Sainte Baume refers to Holy Balm) is dedicated to Mary Magdalene, and has been the destination of pilgrimages for centuries. Pic de Bugarach is the highest peak in the Corbieres. It has long been associated with not only religious pilgrimages by those who believe in the legends of Jesus’ life in southern France, but with visitations by extraterrestrials by those inclined to believe in such activity. Despite is height, the mountain is relatively easy to climb without the use of special equipment by those sufficiently physically fit to handle the decrease in oxygen.
The Book of Mormon is just one source which describes Jesus visiting North America and Mesoamerica, appearing among the Israelite people who had traveled to the continents later known as the New World to escape the Babylonian captivity. Those Israelites, according to the belief, traveled to the Americas about six centuries before the events described as the life of Jesus in Judea occurred. But there were still older legends among the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica, including those of Quetzcoatl and Viracocha, which indicated an appearance centuries before those described in the Book of Mormon.
In the Book of Third Nephi, Jesus appears before the people, identifies himself as Jesus Christ, and displays the wounds from the crucifixion in his hands and feet, as well as invites them to, “thrust your hands into my side…” Thus the presence of Jesus in the Americas would be one which followed the events of his death and resurrection described in the Christian gospels, though the appearances linked to the myths and legends of the ancient Mesoamerican tribes would have occurred centuries earlier.
23. The denial of the lost years of the life of Jesus
Attempts to discover and describe the life of Jesus outside of the events in the four gospels are blasphemous to most Christians, and the apocryphal books which do so were labeled as false by the Catholic Church centuries before the Reformation and the birth of Protestantism. Yet the banned books remain, many of them written contemporaneously with the earliest texts of the authorized gospels. The Gospel of Luke (2: 40) sums up the childhood of Jesus in a single verse, which reads, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2: 40 KJV). The subsequent verses in Luke describe his awe-inspiring visit to the temple.
Despite numerous texts contained in the Apocrypha, life in the home of Jesus, and Mary and Joseph and their children is reduced to the short description in Luke. The adolescent years of Jesus are not addressed at all, unless one considers the age of twelve to be part of adolescence. Interestingly the Infant Gospel of Thomas, Chapter 19, verse 5, contains a passage which is reflective of Luke 2:40. The passage in Thomas, which describes events following the appearance of the twelve year old Jesus before the temple scholars, reads: “…And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and grace.”
24. Jesus is described in the apocrypha as being with his siblings
According to the Catholic faith and many Protestant religions, the persons described in the gospels as Jesus’ “brothers” were sons of Joseph by an earlier marriage, or perhaps cousins or other close relatives. The Apocrypha describes their relationships as children in more detail, perhaps the reason the books are not accepted as canonical. In the Infant Gospel of Thomas, for instance, an event which occurred during the lost years of Jesus is described in which he provides miraculous intervention for the benefit of James. Thomas 16: 1 contains the story of James and Jesus gathering wood at the request of Joseph, and also describes Jesus as the younger of the two children.
“And Joseph sent his son James to bind fuel and carry it into his house. And the young child Jesus also followed him”, reads the passage, which goes on to describe James being bit on the hand by a presumably venomous snake. “Jesus came near and breathed upon the bite, and straightway the pain ceased, and the serpent burst, and forthwith James continued whole”. James later became one of the leaders of the early church following the events described in the gospels, with most of what is known of his life derived from passages in the epistles of Paul. The Gospel of John does not mention him at all.
25. The mystery of the lost years of Jesus of Nazareth
Possibly no other person in the collective history of humanity across the globe has been more closely studied by historians, archaeologists, theologians, and philosophers, than the itinerant Jewish teacher known as Jesus of Nazareth. Yet more than half of his generally accepted lifespan remains a mystery. Eighteen of his 33 years of life on earth are undocumented, or are documented in books labeled as heresies and falsehoods by Christian authorities. Despite the rejection of the books of the apocrypha, many of the stories which they contain are included in the Koran, and many continue to be referenced as legends and folklore.
The decade between the ages of two and twelve, and the eighteen subsequent years leading up to Jesus being baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, are blank. Outside of the books of the Bible and the Apocrypha, other records, including those of Josephus, record Jesus as having siblings, including James “the brother of Jesus who is called Christ”. For the Christian church it seems that the mystery of faith is enough, but for historians the details of the life of Jesus – his biography – remains a mystery both elusive and intriguing.
Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources: