Was Jesus “John the Baptist”?

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by Neil Godfrey

For those of us who like to be stimulated with different views on Christian origins, René Salm has translated and made available a 1956 essay by Georges Ory, Was Jesus “John the Baptist”?

This hypothesis reminds me of Robert M. Price’s suggestion that the two figures are doubles, or that Jesus was indeed something of a mythical hypostasis of John. (Unfortunately I forget the source for this discussion now — I welcome a reminder from anyone reading this.) Others — Roger Parvus and Hermann Detering, if I recall correctly, have had thought-provoking views of the role of John the Baptist and Simon Magus.

I’ve had a less “psychological-anthropological” explanation for John the Baptist than Bob Price’s views, and have to admit I have never given enough sustained attention in the past to some of the views of Parvus and Detering. I know I have only covered one dimension of the evidence available — the midrashic literary. I wonder if the motif of a representative of the old, usually metaphorically rough in appearance, as the deliverer of one who ushers in the new creation and new world, is a deeply rooted cultural archetype found from the Epic of Gilgamesh right through to modern fiction and fables.

I may not always come away from reading radical new views being immediately convinced, but rarely do I ever come away without having been stimulated with new questions and avenues to explore.

So who was George Ory?

René Salm has done a bit of digging and has published his findings on his site. The key section of interest for me is (and I have reformatted the last paragraph for here):

In 1949, together with Prosper Alfaric, Georges Ory co-founded the Cercle Ernest Renan in Paris, a “ Center for the history of religions, for biblical criticism and free research [libres recherches] into the origins of Christianity.” The Cercle (CER) has been at the cutting edge of French Jesus-mythicism for over half a century and continues to publish quarterly Cahiers and to offer monthly lectures in Paris. Ory was also prominent in the Union Rationaliste, and was the principal religion contributor for its Dictionnaire Rationaliste (1964), writing over fifty entries including those entitled “Jésus Christ,” “Gnosticisme,” “Paul-Louis Couchoud,” and “Charles Guignebert.” The dictionnaire is an indispensable resource for liberal French trends in religion.

Some notes can be culled regarding Ory’s thought.

  • He identified John the Baptist as the original Christian messiah.
  • He further identified this figure with the Samaritan heresiarch Dositheus. . . .
  • Ory refused to identify the Essenes with the Dead Sea Sect . . . .
  • He supposed that Marcion had a disciple, Lucanus, who was ultimately responsible for the third gospel and who succeeded Marcion at the latter’s death. Lucanus led the Marcionite community in Rome and considered Christ a heavenly being. “Jesus” was a composite.

So here is a second copy of the link — Was Jesus John the Baptist? — in case you ever lose the first one.

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23 thoughts on “Was Jesus “John the Baptist”?”

  1. “(Unfortunately I forget the source for this discussion now — I welcome a reminder from anyone reading this.)”

    You’re probably thinking of one of his essays in “Jesus is dead”.

    1. As the Roman Catholic influence and its tributary Christian religions die, the truth of who this person was will come out. Researchers will write more and more books about the possibility, then the probability, then their acceptance in about seven years, that this teacher, diviner and healer of the first century was John the Baptist.

  2. Neil, have a look at the Infancy Gospel of James. I put up a thread on FRDB a while back….


    John the Baptist: “destined to be king over Israel’?

    “23. And Herod searched for John, and sent officers to Zacharias, saying: Where hast thou hid thy son? And he, answering, said to them: I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I do not know where my son is. And the officers went away, and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod was enraged, and said: His son is destined to be king over Israel. And he sent to him again, saying: Tell the truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy life is in my hand. And Zacharias said: I am God’s martyr, if thou sheddest my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, because thou sheddest innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord. And Zacharias was murdered about daybreak.”

        1. To rey and maryhelena,

          You have no idea how duped you are by the writers of the New Testament and those who picked it up and formed the Roman Church and subsequent orthodox Christianity out of it. Jesus himself condemned Paul at least five times prophetically for this in Matthew and Revelation. Look up “Jesus Words Only” online by Douglas Del Tondo. He is A CHRISTIAN. His book is online in full. He has links about Paul and the following: Matthew 5:19 as “Least in the kingdom” (‘Paulos’ and ‘Paulus’ mean ”least” in Greek and Latin). Matthew 7:15 as the “Ravening wolf” of Genesis 49:27 devouring the flock and then splitting it, Matthew 25:5-15 in the original Hebrew
          as false prophet and author of the AntiChrist church doctrine, and again in Revelation 2:2-14 as false prophet to two future churches, saying he was “apostle (Ephesians 1:1) and teaching it is OK to eat things sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 6 and 15).

          I used to be Christian, and have studied this full-time for five years now. The Dead Sea Scrolls Pesherim call Paul “the SPOUTER OF LYING” and several other unkind things.The people of Qumran were the first true “Christians”, so they should know. Read Robert Eisenman: “James the Brother of Jesus”. He covers it in exhaustive detail. They (led by James, Jesus’ brother) were the first Christians, run out of Jerusalem to Qumran by Paul. Paul physically attacked James in the 40’s at the Temple, and eventually led the mob that killed James in 62 CE, after High Priest Ananus (the “Wicked Priest”) had him condemned in a kangaroo Sanhedrin court. This was all after his supposed “conversion” — with three conflicting versions of said event in Acts. Paul was a bad man. He is the one people follow in church today, not Jesus. Turn on any Sunday preacher. They will be discoursing from PAUL, not Jesus. It should be called “Paulianity”.

          The main accomplishment of the NT was to suppress the other saviors of the time, all of Jesus’ three brothers, and cousin John the Baptist. All of them are minimized in various ways to eliminate any opposition to the church elders and their aggrandizement of a DEAD Master, Jesus Christ, into the mystery-religion hero the Greek audiences wanted. Just read the words of Jesus if you think I am making this up: “For it is the will of my Father that every one who SEES the Son and believes in him will be given eternal like, and I will raise him up at the last day [their death].” -John 6:40. “We must do the works of him who sent US [C. Sinaiticus] while it is day; night come, when NO ONE can work. AS LONG AS I AM IN THE WORLD I am the Light of the world.” -John 9:4-5. “I am the Way…” “for those who “HAVE SEEN” Jesus. -John 14:6-7. And John 17:11, where he prays to the Father to protect his “given” souls who were ALL (“they” is all of them) “IN THE WORLD” as he spoke his Prayer.This is all that survives the redaction of orthodoxy for teachings of Jesus Christ reflecting the truth of other Masters besides Jesus.

          The blood salvation Paul taught was NEVER TAUGHT by Jesus. Mark 10:45 is a giving of his “soul” or “Life” (“Psuchen”, the Greek word here, means “breath” or “Soul”) to his disciples, not his sacrificial death. The translations are all wrong about “betrayal” in Matt. 26 and Mark 14. It is “to deliver” not “betray”. Judas is not the one delivering, but Jesus, OF HIMSELF, as Holy Spirit. The “betrayal” of Judas is myth. Judas Iscariot is myth. It is Judas THOMAS, the “doubting” brother, who is thereby otherwise minimized. The Gospel of Judas, just found, shows the mistake all have made where Jesus tells Judas “you will exceed them all, for you will sacrifice the man that bears me” — which is mystic revelation of Jesus as Master *within JUDAS*, not Jesus betrayed.

          John the Baptist is such an embarrassment to Luke that Luke has him IN PRISON when Jesus is baptized by him in the other gospels. Peter denies Jesus three times (an esotericism about failure in meditation) and is thereby minimized. Again in John 21, not original to John (sign-off verses are at the end of chapter 20), Peter is shown to be a dufus. “Peter” is Simeon bar Cleophas, Jesus’ second brother. James was the first, Judas the third. ALL were Masters, all died martyrs. “Stephen” of Acts 7 is myth. It is JAMES stoned to death, as historians record. The clothes at “Saul’s” feet indicate PAUL as complicit in his murder. The speech given there is lifted from Joshua 23 Even a mistake is duplicated (24:32). The words at Acts 7:60 “Father forgive them” were James’ and became Jesus’ in the gospels. Acts 1:23, “Joseph Barsabbas Justus” is actually “James” (son of Joseph, son of “Abbas” the Father, and James the JUST) who actually replaces JESUS here as leader of the Jerusalem Assembly, not fictional “Matthias” replacing equally fictional “Judas Iscariot” (“sicarii” is applied to Judas Thomas) in a made-up story of betrayal, just shown to be false.

          So, you see, all is not as it seems. The Bible, at least the NT, is POLEMIC, not a record. Mystic “gnosis” saves, not blood. Eisenman shows the origins of “saved by the blood” as a counter to blood-purity observances at Qumran by PAUL in his letters and in Acts by his buddy, Luke. Read “The New Testament Code”. Works versus faith is all thoroughly covered there, too. Paul got his information from a faulty Septuagint translation of Genesis 15:6 about Abraham’s faith. James talks about that in James 2. Many clues tell you it was Paul he had in mind (“scoffer”, “lies”, “tongue” “windbag”, “lawless one”). The gnostic gospels and the scrolls expose Paul all over the place.

        1. rey,

          Here is a gnostic refutation of Paul and his AntiChrist teachings (Matthew 24:14-15, in Hebrew Matthew), as picked up by the Church (“the restoration”) The “name of a dead man” is Jesus, the “evil, cunning man” is Paul, as is the “evil” fruit (Matt. 7:16):

          The Apocalypse of Peter (3rd century CE) —

          “For many will accept our teaching in the beginning. And they will turn from them again by the will of the Father of their error, because they have done what he wanted. And he will reveal them in his judgment, i.e., the servants of the Word. But those who became mingled with these shall become their prisoners, since they are without perception. And the guileless, good, pure one they push to the worker of death, and to the kingdom of those who praise Christ in a restoration. And they praise the men of the propagation of falsehood, those who will come after you. And they will cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure. But they will become greatly defiled and they will fall into a name of error, and into the hand of an evil, cunning man and a manifold dogma, and they will be ruled without law.”

          “For some of them will blaspheme the truth and proclaim evil teaching. And they will say evil things against each other. Some will be named: (those) who stand in (the) strength of the archons, of a man and a naked woman who is manifold and subject to much suffering. And those who say these things will ask about dreams. And if they say that a dream came from a demon worthy of their error, then they shall be given perdition instead of incorruption.”

          “For evil cannot produce good fruit. For the place from which each of them is produces that which is like itself; for not every soul is of the truth, nor of immortality. For every soul of these ages has death assigned to it in our view, because it is always a slave, since it is created for its desires and their eternal destruction, in which they are and from which they are. They love the creatures of the matter which came forth with them.”

    1. That’s a comment that, since you made it (Feb 2012), has surprisingly been well supported by subsequent publications.

      Later that year (in December) , Robert M Price published The Amazing Colossal Apostle in which he proposed that Paul was a composite of several historical figures, including Marcion of Pontos, Stephen the Martyr, Simon the Sorcerer, and the iconoclastic evangelist who was named Paul. Price thinks the Pauline letters are infused with the hand of Marcion and Polycarp of Smyrna, as many scholars would acknowledge, and are an amalgam of biographical details derived from the other Christian martyrs’ lives.

      In 2014 Markus Vinzent published ‘Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels’ (Leuven: Peeters), and in 2015 Matthias Klinghardt published Das älteste Evangelium und die Entstehung der kanonischen Evangelien (German; Francke a Verlag, publisher. Translation: ‘The oldest Gospel, & the Emergence of the Canonical Gospels’): they both argue that the synoptic gospels were developed after the Marcionite texts. Previously, in 2006, Joseph B Tyson had published Marcion and Luke-Acts: a defining struggle(University of South Carolina Press) in which he argued Luke and Acts were developed the Marcionite tradition (Klinghardt had proposed in a 2008 paper that Luke & Matthew had followed Marcion and the gospel of Mark).

  3. Well, here it is, November, and only today did I discover this interesting Blog. As I look forward to James Tabor’s “Paul and Jesus”, I wondered if anyone had looked into the much more shadowy relationship at the other end of this particular spectrum. For me, the Jesus/John relationship has only caused me to wonder since I was very young, growing up in a parochial school in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Tabor’s work consistently raises interesting questions and interesting new ways of looking at the unanticipated possibly concealed in the conventional way of thinking, so I am hoping that, sometime, he will tackle the John/Jesus relationship and the phenomenon of “belief” as well. – With thanks, S.

  4. No I believe that John the Baptist was the one that was born in the stable in the town of Judea in 6 BC and Jesus was born during the Octavian Census in the Galilee around 4 AD. Most of the so-called stories of a young Jesus from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are of John the Baptist and not of Jesus. John the Baptist was an Essenes that in appealing to the Masses of Sinners to be Regenerated by Baptism, he Inaugurated a New Movement that led to the Rise of Christianity and Jesus was one of is devout Follower and Disciple when he Accomplish the Nazarene Rite and his Spiritual Master was John. When John the Baptist was Decapitated in the Fortress of Macharus in 36 AD at the age of 42 than Jesus started his 6 Month destiny towards to be the Sacrificial Lamb on the Cross for John during the Jewish Passover of 37 AD at the Age of 33. Also, Jesus Survived the Crucifixion and Revived on the Third Day but Died 40 days later on the Day of Ascension! Saul of Tarsus never saw the Real Jesus but the Spirit on the Way to Damascus and Yes today Christians believe in mostly the Visionary God Understanding of Missionary PAUL? JR AUDET of SUDBURY

  5. I totally believe Jesus was John the Baptist. I would go so far as to say that John was the one crucified, not Jesus. How this will ever be proved (if true) I don’t know. Is it really important? Well for other things when you’ve believed a lie all your life and then the truth is known, it feels better than staying in the lie.

    1. I’ve long thought of that theory. John baptised himself in front of his followers & ascended to become Jesus & become the one who would fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament. This is why Jesus was denounced by Peter I feel. The stories of John & Jesus are intertwined. My hypothesis has Herod reluctantly ordering the death of John at the “Last Supper” , when Herods guards go to fetch John, he is identified by Judas & taken away & beheaded. 3 days later John appears again, risen from the dead. Judas had pointed out an imposter & was hung. The unrest that followed had become enough of an issue to attract the Romans attentions. The people really believe John has risen from the dead. The Romans eventually get hold of John & crucify him, mocking him & killing him.

    2. @Christine John 14 to 17 or so, Jesus announces that John is the father, the holy spirit, that he is among them, it seems garbled in parables but still not rock steady proof as it is never explicitly said John there and is going to die, but it sounds like it. I think that all the disciple played each their turns Jesus as a channelling of the holy spirit and when Thomas transcribed what they said he wrote it as if they were one person named Jesus. Probably half of them didn’t know that John the Baptist was still alive hiding from Antipas among them. Notable lines:
      Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
      Jesus: The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
      Jesus: The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
      Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

      Another line that clearly point to John the Baptist as Jesus. The best proof there is:
      Mark 8:27
      Then Jesus and His disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way, He questioned His disciples: “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist;
      the list goes on and he ask Peter, Peter say he is the messiah. And then this, the ending of the discussion:
      And Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him.…

      The word him is changed to the Christ or Jesus Christ in other version (Matthew) probably because it sounds too much as if he is referring to someone else named in the discussion. Plus why would Jesus tell them not to talk about him, is this Fight Club’s Tyler Durden?

  6. I have been blessed with the appearance and direct communication with Immanuel otherwise known as Jesus the Christ ..he told me that his name was Immanuel on earth and Sananda or Sunanda in the Heavens with a Ji at the end for respect …Then I was shown in a vision what really happened at the time of His passing…Archangel Micheal appeared and the vision began .I saw Pontious Pilate with his hands holding his own head in great distress he cried out “””Such a light such a light and I have made him leave “”””Then he fell at the feet of a man lying before him holding his feet and crying..Then Archangel Micheal spoke and told me that Pontious Pilate had been interrogating Immanuel to find out the medicine he made to develop the light body that he gave to his disciples …because Immanuel did not want him to know this knowledge and because he would not give up pressuring him ..Immanuel opted to Ascend in that moment in order to protect the knowledge of the Holy Grail medicine ….then later when they came to see his body in the tomb he appeared to them in his light body …
    Then recently at my work a man and his grandmother came in to the restaurant and we’re telling a very interesting experience they had.. Both of them after a serious car accident were raised up into a very bright place then the man said in the brightness he saw Christ with his arms raised out calling him he went to him and Christ embraced him and both him and his grandmother saw rope burns on his wrists where ropes had been tied and so much light was emanating from them which proves he had been held captive both said he was so much love they did not want to leave but Christ told them both it was not there time yet and to return and testify to everyone what they saw…

    1. Christians are not the only ones who have such experiences. The characters change according to different cultural backgrounds. You might be interested in the scientific explanations for experiences like these.

  7. Hi Neil, I have thouroughly studied this topic and have written a book about it: John the Baptist was Jesus! There were clues left in the gospels that confirm this:
    Apparently this has been known throughout the centuries, as I have found many paintings (from the renaissance and after) with symbolism that John was Jesus. I have put up a gallery on my website with 50 examples:
    You are welcome for a web-visit and I look forward to hearing your comments! 🙂

  8. Pingback: Remembering |

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