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Articles > Did Jesus travel to India?


If Jesus journeyed east to India and elsewhere, traditional Christianity has neglected a vital aspect of his life and ministry.  Are the Gospels partial biographies that need to be supplemented by outside sources that speak of Jesus' Oriental adventures?  Has the church locked itself into a flawed view of Jesus?  To assess these concerns, we need to test the claims of the documents discussed in the last section.  We will apply the historical tests of integrity, authenticity, and veracity to Notovitch's text.  We will commence with the criterion of veracity.  What is the nature of the text itself?  Does it appear to be true to fact?

Edgar J. Goodspeed, an expert on ancient manuscripts, observes that "the whole cast of the book is vague and elusive."[1]  He also notes, "It presents no difficulties, no problems--whereas any really ancient work newly discovered bristles with novelties and obscurities."[2]  We saw this especially in the ferment of scholarly disagreement that ensued after the discovery of both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi texts.  Speaking of the text, Goodspeed continues:  "Here the message of Issa is a pallid and colorless morality; amiable and unobjectionable enough, but devoid of the flashes of insight and touches of genius that mark the early gospels."[3] 

Goodspeed also recognizes that the text "identifies itself with no recognizable type of primitive type of primitive thought," although it "shows a superficial acquaintance with the leading New Testament" accounts.[4]  As we argued in the last section, it is more of a hodgepodge, or theological patch-quilt, than a well-integrated belief system.

The veracity of the document is also called into question when we  consider some historical inaccuracies concerning world religions.  Per Beskow, a Swedish New Testament scholar, points out that the reference to "the god Djaine" (5:2) discloses "a considerable lack of knowledge about Indian religions."  He continues:

The Jains, or Jainas, do not believe in any god at all, but in certain jinas ("Conquerors"), who are enlightened spiritual leaders.  The a in Jain comes from the same phonetic law that makes the [Hindu] worshippers of Shiva into Shavias and the [Hindu] worshippers of Vishnu into Vaishnavas.[5]

There is  no "god Djaine."

The fact that "The Life of Saint Issa" would err so terribly concerning the Jain religion does not bode well for its overall veracity.[6]  Nor does another error concerning religious belief.

The text was purportedly reconstructed from manuscripts in a Buddhist monastery and speaks more highly of Buddhism than any other religion.  It even speaks of Issa as having been "elected" by Buddha "to spread his holy word" (6:4).  Buddha seems to be interchangeable with God in this case.  It also speaks of Buddhists worshiping Brahma, which is an odd combination of Hinduism and Buddhism.  It also speaks of a jealous Creator God who can punish and forgive sin and hates idols.  This has little to do with most of historic Buddhism, which is either atheistic, agnostic, or pantheistic and abounds in images of the Buddha as proper objects of religious veneration and contemplation.[7]  The "Buddhism" of the text looks more like a syncretistic creation of an attempt to graft elements of Buddhism onto Judaism than it does to any identifiable Buddhism of that time in history.[8]

It is instructive to know that theories relating Christianity to Buddhism were very much in vogue when Notovitch published his Unknown Life of Jesus Christ.  Many Westerners sought to synthesize the two religions in novel ways.  Historian Carl Jackson, in reviewing this phenomenon, says that Notovitch "may be said to have carried the controversy to its ultimate reductio ad absurdum" by his claim that the supposed resemblances between Christianity and Buddhism are accounted for by Jesus studying Buddhism with Buddhists.[9]  The attempt to link Buddhism and Christianity was appealing to many, but not based on fact.

It is also rather odd that while certain commonly known English names take on exotic spellings (supposedly following the language of the text), such as Issa for Jesus (which is faithful to the Tibetan),[10] Mossa for Moses, and Romeles for Romans, Pontius Pilate remains unchanged.[11]  This inconsistency is another strike against the text being historically believable.

So we find several reasons to question the veracity of "The Life of Saint Issa," in light of historical facts, whether from the New Testament or from other sources.

Concerning its authenticity, we have only one verse in the text claiming that the account was written by "the merchants" who presumably accompanied Jesus on his trek from Israel to the East.  These merchants are not named, and their identity is never mentioned in the entire text.  Neither is there any strong external tradition as to the text's authorship, as we find for the New Testament Gospels.  We are left in the dark as to where the merchants were from (India or Palestine?),[12] how they gained their facts, or their abilities to record the facts--assuming they wrote the text at all!

So far, we have found substantial reason to doubt the veracity and authenticity of this controversial text.  However, the greatest difficulties are in regard to the matter of its integrity.  Do we have reason to believe this text has been accurately transmitted over the centuries?  Or is it a modern invention, a mere forgery?

F. Max Muller (1823-1900), the great Orientalist of the nineteenth century and translator and editor of the multivolumed Sacred Books of the East, subjected the Issa thesis to critical scrutiny soon after its publication.  Lest anyone accuse him of ill intentions,[13] in 1882, 12 years before Notovitch's publication, he had written that he "would be extremely grateful if anybody would point out to me the historical channels through which Buddhism influenced early Christianity," because he had been searching in vain for this his entire life.[14]  Muller thought that if the Issa text were legitimate, it would help establish the historicity of Jesus, despite the text's difference from the New Testament accounts.[15]

Writing in 1894, Muller found it exceedingly difficult to believe that a text of this importance was not listed in the Kandjur and Tandjur collections, the "excellent catalogues of manuscripts and books of the Buddhists in Tibet and China."  He found it "impossible or next to impossible...that this Sutra of Issa, composed in the first century of our era, should not have found a place either in the Kandjur or in the Tandjur."[16]  Notovitch responded by saying that those catalogs didn't exhaust the manuscript resources at his disposal at the Himis monastery.[17]  Yet how plausible is it that Issa would not be well-known in India if, in fact, Jesus had actually been there?  We would expect this text to be listed in the major catalogs if Issa had the impact in India that "The Life of Saint Issa" claims that he did.  We should also remember Notovitch's lack of scholarly standing and Muller's world renown.[18]  Muller is the authority.

This brings us to Notovitch's account itself.  Even if we take him at face value, we are quite distant from the supposed original writing of the Issa text.  Notovitch's own words make this clear:

The two manuscripts, from which the lama of the convent Himis read to me all that had a bearing upon Jesus, are compilations from divers [sic] copies written in the Thibetan language, translations of scrolls belonging to the library of Lhassa and brought, about two hundred years after Christ, from India, Nepaul and Maghada, to a convent on Mount Marbour, near the city of Lhassa.[19]

In light of this, Goodspeed notes that Notovitch's claims are extremely unscholarly and improbable:

It is evident that the scholar's desire to see the manuscript of the work, or failing that to see a photograph of it or a part of it, or at least to have precise directions about how and where to find it (its place and number in the Himis library) is not in this case to be satisfied.[20]

We are at least three times removed from the manuscript.  Notovitch tells us that first, the lama read aloud from the manuscripts; second, the interpreter interpreted; and third, Notovitch recorded it.  But Notovitch also admits that he "arranged all the fragments concerning the life of Issa in chronological order and [took] pains to impress upon them the character of unity, in which they were absolutely lacking."[21]  Goodspeed complains that "this is just what a scholar would not have done; he would wish to present the fragments just as the manuscripts had them, unaffected by his own views and tastes."[22]

While it is not impossible for a nonscholar to stumble across a valuable manuscript, Notovich's testimony loses credibility given the many inaccuracies already noted and considering the fact that Notovitch was "a man of no known attainments in any direction, certainly not in the direction of biblical history and criticism."[23]  Notovitch's lack of scholarship, or even basic biblical knowledge, is especially evident when he describes the Gospel of Luke as saying that Jesus "was in the deserts until the day of his showing in Israel" (1:80).  This, he believes, proves that no one knew where he had gone until he reappeared 16 years later.[24]  However, this biblical reference has nothing to do with Jesus, but with John the Baptist!  (Whether anyone claims John went to India, I do not know.)

Even more problems are evident in Notovitch's tale.  He describes the manuscripts about Issa as scrolls or books, when, as Per Beskow points out, "Tibetan books are neither scrolls nor bound in our way.  They consist of oblong leaves, imitating palm leaves; they are kept loose between wooden plates, and the whole is kept wrapped in a piece of cloth."[25]  Notovitch was wrong again.

Let us bring together the facts on Issa and Notovitch.  The Issa of the manuscript bears little resemblance to the Jesus Christ of the Gospels.  The doctrine of Notovitch's text is a sloppy syncretism that cannot fully support a New Age platform.  Concerning the tests of historicity:  The text contains several obvious falsehoods regarding Jainism and Buddhism.  We have no idea who supposedly wrote the text outside of a vague reference to unidentified "merchants."

Even if the text is what Notovitch claims, it is textually uncertain with regard to integrity because of 1)  its being transcribed through a translator, 2)  its unavailability for scholarly inspection, and 3)  Notovitch's admittedly substantial reworking of the original material.

ANOTHER GOSPEL FORGERY

Beyond these considerable problems, several witnesses came forth shortly after the publication of The Unknown Life of Christ, who claim that Notovitch never discovered the manuscript.  In a finely detailed article published in a scholarly journal called The Nineteenth Century, in April 1896, Professor J. Archibald Douglas recounts his trip to the Himis monastery to check up on Notovitch's claims.

Douglas says he was open-minded and initially expected to confirm Notovitch's discovery.  He seems to have had no personal or monetary motive to discredit Notovitch.

Douglas begins by agreeing that Notovitch visited the monastery, noting that the chief lama remembered several European gentlemen visiting in 1887 and 1888, which could very well have included Notovitch, a Russian.[26]  But Douglas notes that Notovitch's name does not appear on the list of travelers kept at the bungalow in the city of Leh, where Notovitch said he stayed.  Douglas did find that a Notovitch was treated there--not for a broken leg, but for a toothache.[27]

A translator was enlisted by Douglas to read extracts from Notovitch's book to the chief lama, in order to gain his response.  The lama's comments were recorded in a statement signed by the lama, Douglas, and the translator, Shahmwell Joldan, late postmaster of Ladakh.

In the document, reprinted in the journal, the lama contradicts all of Notovitch's major assertions.  When asked about the Issa document, the Chief Superior Lama replied:

I have been for forty-two years a Lama, and am well acquainted with all the well-known Buddhist books and manuscripts, and I have never heard of one which mentions the name of Issa, and it is my firm and honest belief that none exists.  I have inquired of our principal Lamas in other monasteries of Tibet, and they are not acquainted with any books or manuscripts which mention the name of Issa.[28]

When asked if the name Issa was held in high respect by Buddhists, the lama replied, "They know nothing even of his name; none of the Lamas has ever heard it, save through missionaries and European sources."[29]  The lama further denied that any Westerner had stayed there to nurse a broken leg (contra Notovitch)[30]; he denied having spoken with Notovitch about the religions of the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and people of Israel (contra Notovitch) and even denied knowing anything about these religions[31]; he likewise denied that the monastery contained any Buddhist writings in the Pali language (contra Notovitch).[32]  Beskow confirms this, saying (contra Notovitch) that "Pali, which is the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, has never been used in Tibet, and the Tibetan translations have usually been done from Sanskrit or from Chinese."[33]

Douglas reports that when parts of Notovitch's book were read to the lama, he burst out with, "Lies, lies, nothing but lies,"[34] and on another occasion asked Douglas if Notovitch could be punished by law for his untruths.[35]

Douglas also questions Notovitch's reference to using a resident (shikari) from a nearby village as an interpreter, because such a person is always a simple peasant, unable to handle the theological and philosophical concepts found in Notovitch's book.[36]

In response to these charges, Notovitch later claimed that the lama lied to Douglas because he was afraid the precious manuscripts would be stolen by Westerners; only Notovitch's "Eastern diplomacy" put him on the good side of the lama.[37]  This is very unlikely.  Even if the lama had confessed to the existence of such a manuscript, he would not have needed to reveal its location in the large collection.  He could certainly have refused to show it, sell it, or donate it to foreigners.  I also assume that the monasteries had adequate means to keep their precious documents secure.  Further, if the monks were so reticent, how did Notovitch, visiting there for the very first time, gain access to the manuscripts, despite his "Eastern diplomacy"?  We should remember that Douglas was accompanied by the postmaster of Ladakh--someone surely on better terms with its citizens than Notovitch, a total stranger.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet tries to strengthen the case that the monks feared the manuscripts would be stolen.  She quoted from a passage in The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh to the effect that because the Himis monastery attracted so many visitors, the monks had a condescending, if not contemptuous attitude toward them and seemed convinced that all the foreigners would steal from them if possible.  The book goes on to say that the monastery experienced some quite serious losses of property "in recent years," which were being investigated when the authors were there.  (It was found, though, that foreigners were not responsible.[38])  This information, Prophet avers, lends credence to Notovitch's idea that his own "Eastern diplomacy," not possessed by Douglas, won him a precious peek at the manuscripts.

This argument reveals at least three serious weaknesses.  First, the reference to supposedly stolen property is only in "recent years."  The Notovitch incident dates to 1887, which is presumably not "recent."  Second, the original quote from The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh goes on to mention something crucial omitted by Prophet: that "Hemis [sic] suffers greatly from the absence of its head lama."[39]  It is just such a head lama who plays a prominent role in both Notovitch's and Douglas's accounts.  Surely, the Himis of today is different enough from that of 1887 to render Prophet's selective quotation moot with regard to defending Notovitch!  Third, the very book she cites concerning Himis and the region of Ladakh has absolutely no reference to Notovitch, Jesus, Christ, or Issa in its index.  If the Notovitch story had any credibility, wouldn't it be mentioned in this source?  This is a telling omission, indeed.

We must consider one more item before giving a verdict on Notovitch:  Could the Issa story have been created out of his imagination if he named the specific site at which he claimed to have found the manuscript?  Prophet[40] and Notovitch himself[41] say it is unlikely that a liar would make such particular claims.  Is it really?

Notovitch could have easily realized that very few people have access to an obscure Tibetan monastery.  He could have expected that his book would be in print for many months, while he pocketed considerable royalties, before someone checked him out.  (This, in fact, is exactly what happened.)  He may have even made contingency plans to use if he were challenged, such as the "Eastern diplomacy" response.  Furthermore, he himself backtracked after Douglas's and Muller's criticism.  In the preface to the edition of his book reprinted by Prophet, he confessed that there was probably no one manuscript about Issa but that the story had been gathered from various books in the monastery[42]--a revision of his earlier comments.[43]

So what is the verdict on Notovitch and his Unknown Life of Jesus Christ?  Beskow calls his "discovery" the "best known Gospel forgery of modern times."[44]  Goodspeed, Douglas, and Muller agree.  Albert Schweitzer calls it a "fictitious" life of Christ and "a bare-faced swindle and an impudent invention."[45]  This verdict is, I believe, accurate.

Nevertheless, Elizabeth Clare Prophet's book The Lost Years of Jesus adds three other witnesses who claim to have seen the documents and, in the case of one Swami Abhedananda, made a translation of them.  The reader can consult her arguments for the details, but at least four salient and stubborn facts remain.[46]

First, the Issa manuscripts remain unavailable for scholarly inspection.  Prophet has not shown otherwise.  In addition to Prophet's arguments, Fida Hassnain, an Islamic professor and author of A Search for the Historical Jesus (1994), also claims to have visited the Himis monastery several times in search of the Issa manuscript.  Although he never saw the manuscript, he claims that he found in a local church a journal entry dated 1890 by a Moravian missionary named Dr. Marx which mentioned Notovitch's visit to the monastery and his discovery of the manuscript.

Hassnain says he photographed two pages from Marx's diary and translated them from German.  He claims that the diary mentions Notovitch as "a Russian traveler who broke his leg at Hemis in Ladakh, and who was nursed by the Moravian Mission doctors.  Mention is made of the claim of Notovitch that he had seen Tibetan scrolls about Jesus in the Hemis monastery."[47]

Although Hassnain includes several photographs of the monastery in his book, strangely, he does not provide a photograph of this journal entry.  The entry mentioned only Notovitch's claim to have seen the Tibetan manuscripts.  Dr. Marx says nothing of having himself seen the manuscript.  If this diary is authentic (which is very hard to establish given the lack of evidence), it could be that Notovitch simply lied to Marx.  Given what we have found in this section, this is very likely.  Furthermore, the supposed diary entry contradicts the testimony of the Chief Superior Lama interviewed by Archibald Douglas.

Hassnain's claim adds another small piece to the Notovitch puzzle.  However, it fails to establish either the actual existence of the supposedly lost Tibetan manuscript or its historical reliability as a source about Jesus Christ.

Second, no one has come up with an adequate picture of the text that reveals its distinctive features and unique identity.[48]  Prophet includes a photo of a monk holding some kind of scroll with the caption, "These books say our Jesus was here,"[49] but this hardly qualifies as sound evidence, especially since books is the wrong word to use (as noted above).

Third, Prophet's and Hassnain's anecdotal claims do nothing to rehabilitate the text's dubious historicity and Notovitch's inaccuracies.  The arguments given above stand fast.  

Fourth, and most importantly, the reliability of "The Life of Saint Issa" must be compared with the biblical record of Jesus.  The New Testament marshals impressive credentials.  It has historical integrity, which Issa lacks.  It has historical authenticity, which Issa lacks.  In the bright light of this threefold argument for the New Testament, it is safe to say that the burden of proof is on "The Life of Saint Issa"--a burden that is very difficult to bear.  To put it another way, 5366 ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts in the hand are worth more than (at most) one inaccessible and idiosyncratic manuscript in the Tibetan bush.

Given the above considerations, even if it could be established that a genuine manuscript of "The Life of Saint Issa" exists, this, in itself, would not prove it to be true to fact.  Such a manuscript could easily be a legendary fabrication which makes use of biblical materials about Christ but also interweaves them with non-Christian and nonhistorical teachings.  Ron Rhodes, who also doubts that the Issa manuscript exists, makes this case strongly:

Christians acknowledge that news of Jesus eventually reached India and Tibet as a result of the missionary efforts of the early church.  It is conceivable that when devotees of other religions heard about Jesus, they tried to modify what they heard to make it appear that Jesus and his teachings were compatible with their own belief systems.  It is possible that sometime between the first and nineteenth centuries these unreliable legends were recorded on scrolls and circulated among the converts in India.  This would not be unlike the distorted versions of the life of Jesus that emerged among the early Gnostics and were ecorded in the Gnostic gospels.[50]

DID JESUS DIE IN INDIA?

While Notovitch's "discovery" leaves the body of Issa decomposing in Palestine, other New Age revisionists have him surviving the crucifixion and retiring in India.  After dying there, he was supposedly interred in a tomb in Kashmir.  Ironically, one article defending this view begins by citing Notovitch as a source, even though his account of Issa does not permit Jesus returning to India.[51]

Before dealing with these claims, we should again keep in mind the case for the historical reliability of the New Testament.  Any historical claim that contradicts this record in any important way needs to assume the burden of proof.  The New Testament, of course, records that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven.  He was a man born to die and emphasized his destiny throughout his ministry in different ways.  Therefore, to claim that he did not die on the cross is to question the entire biblical portrait of Jesus.  But how is this done?

One notion is that Jesus was crucified but did not die on the cross.  He only appeared to die.  He was brought to a tomb where he revived, only to leave Palestine and head eastward.  This is a new twist on an old idea called the "swoon theory."

First, it is maintained by some that Jesus was not on the cross long enough to have died from crucifixion.  Richard Walters says, "Writings on crucifixion state that, when the person crucified was in normal health, in no case did death occur within 12 hours."  He concludes that "it is improbable that Jesus died after just three hours on the cross."[52]  Second, some claim that Jesus was drugged when someone put a sponge up to his mouth to drink.  This caused the appearance of death that deceived those present.[53]  Third, the fact that blood spurted out from Jesus' side when it was pierced by the Roman's sword is thought to be another indication he was still alive.[54]  Kersten and Gruber further argue that the nature of the shroud of Turin provides evidence that Jesus did not die on the cross.[55]

Before moving to the claims of Jesus' tomb being in India, we should briefly address these arguments.

As a general point, one has to wonder why those who trust the Gospel accounts enough to affirm that Jesus was crucified depart from the narratives when they clearly report that Jesus was dead as dead could ever be.  Why believe at one point and doubt at another?  If critics do not establish sufficient criteria for their doubts, their rejection of Jesus' death is simply arbitrary. 

More specifically, first, there was sufficient time for Jesus to die on the cross.  We must not view the crucifixion in isolation from what preceded it.  As Michael Green notes:

It is incredible that Jesus, who had not eaten or slept before his execution, who was weakened by a loss of blood through the most brutal flogging [see 1 Peter 2:24], who was pierced in both hands and feet, could have survived unaided had he been alive when taken down from the cross.[56]

Jesus was so weakened from his beatings that he was unable to carry his cross all the way to Golgotha, the execution site (Matthew 27:32).  The authors of a technical article called "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," in the Journal of the American Medical Association, remarked that the time of survival for Roman crucifixions "ranged from three or four hours to three or four days and appears to have been inversely related to the severity of the scourging."[57]

Pilate showed surprise that Jesus died so rapidly (Mark 15:44), but he did not question that Jesus was really dead.  The Romans were no beginners when it came to crucifixion.  The squad of four soldiers broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus (a practice that would hasten death), but did not bother to break Jesus' legs because they saw he was already expired.

Second, the theory that Jesus arranged to be given some potion to feign death is problematic in several ways.  The Gospel of John reports that Jesus was given a drink in full view of the Roman guards before he died (John 19:28, 29).  It was their job to be executioners, not accessories to a hoax.  They had a vested interest in being accurate coroners because "had the centurion, had the governor made a mistake over the execution of a messianic pretender, their jobs and probably their lives would have been on the line."[58]  Surely, they would have been wise to such a ploy.  Moreover, if we assume that Jesus somehow arranged for his last-minute rescue, he is no less than a grand impostor and not worthy of any respect, because he preached the necessity of his own death.  We might then say that Jesus rivaled Houdini, but we could never view him with religious veneration, let alone worship.

Third, the fact that blood and water came from Jesus' side is positive evidence for his death.  The Roman soldiers pierced his side because they wanted to make doubly sure he was dead.  This was a standard practice to ensure death.[59]  What followed confirmed Jesus' death, as explained in the just-mentioned article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Here is the conclusion of the authors:

Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung, but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.[60]

The view that the shroud of Turin somehow gives evidence that Jesus did not die on the cross must clear two hugh hurdles.  First, the authenticity of the shroud is far more in doubt than the reliability of the New Testament, which clearly indicates that Jesus died on the cross.  The crucifixion is also corroborated by secular historians.  Second, even if the shroud is the death wrapping of Jesus, it is highly unlikely that this artifact could 2000 years later, establish that Jesus did not die on the cross.  If the shroud is authentic, the evidence points in the other direction: Jesus died and was raised from the dead.[61]

Various authors have spoken of legends in Eastern lands claiming Jesus as their own.  A tomb thought by some to contain Jesus' remains is in Kashmir, India, supposedly occupied by a mysterious Yuz Asaf.[62]  But here again, a heavy burden of proof rests on such a revisionist view, given the historical reliability of the New Testament and considering the fact that Jesus could not have lived through the crucifixion.  The resurrected and ascended Christ proclaims in the book of Revelation, "I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!" (Revelation 1:18).  Paul is confident that "since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him" (Romans 6:9).

Those who claim that Jesus ended up in India must also explain the existence of the primitive church's faith in the resurrected and ascended Lord.  And what sort of a teacher would Jesus be if he escaped to India while permitting an entire religion to be hinged on a threefold falsehood--namely, his death, resurrection, and ascension?

But the real evidence against Jesus' death in India is a developed argument for his bodily resurrection and ascension.  Jesus cannot be both rotting in Kashmir and ruling in heaven. 

 

 

[1]Edgar J. Goodspeed, Modern Apocrypha (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956), 8.
  [2]Ibid.

  [3]Ibid.

  [4]Ibid.

  [5]Per Beskow, Strange Tales About Jesus: A Survey of Unfamiliar Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), 59.

  [6]For more on Jainism, see Walter Kaufmann, Religion in Four Dimensions: Existential, Aesthetic, Historical, Comparative (New York: Reader's Digest Press, 1976), 297-301.  Kaufman does point out that the founder of Jainism is sometimes worshiped, but this goes against his stated teachings.  Jainism is primarily known as athestic, or at least as a nonworshiping agnosticism.  God, if there be one, is not the prime focus of religious devotion.  Therefore, the statement "the god of the Djaines" is not an accurate summary of their beliefs because the role of deity in Jainism is peripheral at best.  It is not known as a monotheistic religion.

  [7]Later Buddhist sects such as Pure Land Buddhism appeal to a Buddha figure as savior, but this comes hundreds of years after the time period described in "The Life of Issa."

  [8]See Arid Romarheim, Various Views of Jesus Christ in New Religious Movements--A Typological Outline (unpublished manuscript), 12-13.  This is available from Christian Research Institute, Box 500, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693-0500.

  [9]Carl Jackson, Oriental Religions and American Thought (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1981), 149-50.

  [10]See Beskow, 58.

  [11]See F. Max Muller, "The Alleged Sojourn of Christ in India" The Nineteenth Century, no. CCX11 (October 1894), 518.

  [12]Ibid.  Muller thought it very unlikely that the same "Jewish merchants who arrived in India immediately after the Crucifixion knew not only what had happened to Christ in Palestine, but also what had happened to Jesus, or Issa, while he spent fifteen years of his life among the Brahman."  Notovitch responded that the merchants were indigenous Indians who had returned from Palestine on business.  See Nicholas Notovitch in Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus (Livingstone, MT: Summit University Press, 1984), 96.

  [13]As does Holger Kersten, Jesus Lived in India (Longmead, England: Element Book, Ltd., 1986), 36-37.  Kersten's response is little more than an attack on Muller's character.  He does not refute Muller's arguments.

  [14]Max Muller, India, What Can it Teach Us? (London, 1883), 279; quoted in Albert Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1973), 291.

  [15]Muller, "The Alleged Sojourn," 518.  Muller did not adequately understand, it seems, the vast differences between Issa and Jesus; nevertheless, his comment shows that he was not predisposed to reject the document as spurious without giving it a fair chance.

  [16]Ibid.

  [17]Notovitch in Prophet, 94.

  [18]As an appendix to his article, Muller included a letter to him from an English woman familiar with the Himis monastery who wrote from Leh, Ladakh, on June 29, 1894.  It claimed that Notovitch's story was a complete fabrication (Muller, "The Alleged Sojourn," 521-22.  A more detailed case for fabrication will be made below.

  [19]Nicholas Notovitch, The Unknown Life,, 226.

  [20]Goodspeed, 9.

  [21]Notovitch, 229.

  [22]Goodspeed, 10.

  [23]From a review of The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, in The Biblical World 4, no. 2 (August 1894): 147. No author is cited.

  [24]Notovitch, 229.

  [25]Beskow, 121.

  [26]J. Archibald Douglas, "The Chief Lama of Himis on the Alleged 'Unknown Life of Christ,'" The Nineteenth Century 230 (April 1896), 668-69.

  [27]Ibid., 669.

  [28]Ibid., 671.

  [29]Ibid., 672.

  [30]Ibid., 671.

  [31]Ibid., 671-72.

  [32]Ibid., 672.

  [33]Beskow, 59.

  [34]Douglas, 672.

  [35]Ibid., 669-70.

  [36]Ibid., 674.

  [37]Notovitch in Prophet, 91-92.

  [38]David L. Snellgrove and Tadeusz Skorupski, The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh--Volume One: Central Ladakh (Boulder, CO; Prajna Press, 1977), 127; quoted in Prophet, 37-38.

  [39]Snellgrove and Skorupski, 127.

  [40]Prophet, 35-36.

  [41]Notovitch in Prophet, 93.

  [42]Ibid., 94.

  [43]Notovitch, 151-52.

  [44]Beskow, 58.

  [45]Schweitzer, 328.

  [46]Beskow makes this comment about one of the supposed other witnesses of the manuscript: Professor Nicholas Roerich, painter and amateur archaeologist, traveled in Ladakh in the 1920s and believed that he had found traces of  The Life of Saint Issa. Unfortunately, his examples from living folk traditions lend no added reliability, for the first part of his account is taken literally from Notovitch's Life of Saint Issa, chapters 5-13 (only extracts, but with all the verses in the right order).  It is followed by "another version" (93-94), taken from chapter 16 of Downing's Aquarian Gospel.  There is a vague possibility that visiting enthusiasts from Europe had already spread these stories to Ladakh, and that they had taken root in popular belief.  But Roerich's literal quotations rather suggest that he inserted them only because he found them attractive.  He was of a romantic nature and seems not to have taken a great interest in more tangible facts (62-63).

  [47]Fida Hassnain, A Search for the Historical Jesus:  From Apocryphal, Buddhist, Islamic, and Sanskrit Sources (Bath, UK: Gateway Books, 1994), 23.

  [48]For instance, the mostly Gnostic Nag Hammadi manuscripts have been photographically reproduced in scholarly volumes in the original Coptic language.

  [49]Prophet, 312.

  [50]Ron Rhodes, The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age Movement (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990), 55.

  [51]Richard Walters, "Christ, Christian, Krishna," New Frontier, December 1988, 5.

  [52]Ibid., 7.

  [53]Ibid.

  [54]Ibid.

  [55]Holger Kersten and Elmar R. Gruber, The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth About the Resurrection (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1994).  For two negative reviews of their claims, see Eugene O. Bowser's review in Library Journal, June 5, 1994, 72; and Gary Young's review in Booklist, June 1 and 15, 1994, 1732.

  [56]Michael Green, The Empty Cross of Jesus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984), 93.  On the speed of Jesus' death, see also James Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism (New York: Doubleday, 1988), 122-23.

  [57]William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, Floyd E. Hosmer, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," Journal of the American Medical Association 255, no. 11 (March 21, 1986): 1460.

  [58]Green, 93-94.

  [59]William Lane Craig, Knowing the Truth about the Resurrection (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1988), 33.

  [60]Edwards, et al., 1463.

  [61]See Kenneth E. Stevenson and Gary R. Habermas, The Shroud and the Controversy (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990).

  [62]Walters, 45; Kersten, Jesus Died in India. 179ff.  For further criticism of this view, see Beskow, 63-64, 122-24.

 


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