It is a hidden assumption of the Christian religion that somehow the world changed fundamentally with the advent of Jesus, that the relationship between God and man changed, that God's attitude towards men was different after Jesus came than before, or that God would treat men differently. But it is obvious or should be obvious, that every single teaching of Jesus existed just as much, and could have been practiced just as much, during all the years preceding Jesus as those after him, so that even if Jesus was the first to discover them, he did not invent them and there is no reason to think that his teaching them caused any change in the attitude of God towards men. But furthermore, careful study will show that those teachings had been given before, and did not originate with Jesus.

We may begin with the first Great Commandment as it is called: Love God above all else with everything you've got. Now, without worrying about the meaning of this commandment, we can find that it was previously given by Moses, or attributed to him, in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 5. Likewise, the second Great Commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself, was also given by Moses, in the book of Leviticus chapter 19, verse 18. Therefore we could conclude our inquiry at this point, for Jesus himself tells us There is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12: 31); so that not only was it possible for a person to practice these precepts of love of God and love of man before Jesus came, but in fact those teachings had already been given long before Jesus, more than one thousand years before. So the coming of Jesus changed nothing with respect to these two greatest commandments, and our conclusion is already proven. Even if Jesus proclaimed lesser commandments, which no one else in the world before had enunciated, they would still be lesser, for Jesus himself acknowledged these two commandments of Moses to be the greatest.

But we can inquire further, as to other teachings attributed to Jesus. If we look at his most unusual teaching, Love your enemies, we can find once more that Moses also gave this commandment, in a more primitive form, but still the same idea: Love the stranger (Deut. 10:19) ~ and, If thou see thine enemy's ox or ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him.. (Ex. 23:4). But we find a much stronger statement in the book of Proverbs, chapter 25, verse 21: If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink. So that while Jesus carries this idea to its ultimate conclusion: Do good to them which despitefully use you, and Love the unjust as much as the just, and the evil as well as the good, even as God sends his rain and sun upon all alike, still the practice of this precept was clearly possible long before Jesus, and most likely it has been possible as long as God has existed; and the precept itself has existed, at least since Moses' time.

Jesus is often credited with being the first person in the world to perceive and teach the Fatherhood of God with its consequence that all people are brethren. Again certainly Jesus used this concept to a wider degree than any earlier Old Testament prophet, but we can find the idea expressed poignantly in Malachi, chapter 2 verse 10: Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us? And the idea that God is the creator of all people occurs repeatedly in Isaiah and Amos and Hosea, and so even if the idea was not widespread no one can claim that it originated with Jesus, and even if he had been the first to recognize and proclaim it we can be sure that it was a fact before Jesus as well at least all the way back to Abraham, and we may believe even earlier.

And it is also universally thought that Jesus was the first to proclaim the importance and necessity of seeking the kingdom of God: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all else shall be added unto you. But this teaching also can be found in the Old Testament, in Amos, chapter 5 verse 4: Seek ye me, saith the Lord, and ye shall live. And many other passages can be found in the Old Testament prophets: Learn to do well, care for the fatherless and the widow (Isa. 1:17); Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, seek righteousness seek meekness (Zeph. 2:3); Let judgment (justice) and righteousness run down as a mighty stream (Amos 5:24); do not sell the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes (Amos 2:6); Thus saith the Lord, I will have mercy, not sacrifice (Hos 6:6). The verse from Hosea is quoted at least twice by Jesus as a challenge to his detractors as to what they should learn. And in Micah, chapter 6, verse 8, we find a summation of the Great Commandments in a single sentence: What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God? which Jesus calls the "weightier matters of the law" in his discourse against the scribes and Pharisees. So again not only was the pursuit of righteousness just as possible before Jesus as after him, but the prophets had been preaching those requirements of conduct six and seven hundred years earlier.

But having probed thus far, we do still find one central teaching attributed to Jesus which cannot be found in the Old Testament: Resist not him that is evil, with the logical examples he gives, Turn your other cheek unto him that strikes you; Give your cloak as well to him that takes away your coat; and Give unto him that asks of you. Now there is no doubt that Jesus meant this teaching, since it is confirmed by other teachings the parable of the Wheat and the Tares, his answer of Render unto.Caesar the things that are Caesar's and his allowing himself to be crucified. And there is no doubt also that the practice of this precept has served to identify more than any other the true practitioners of Christianity through the centuries, the early Christians, St. Francis, George Fox, and others. But did it originate with Jesus? and is it after all the imprint of his existence that which makes the world different since he came from before he came? Again the answer is, No; for not only was this most difficult of all religious teachings just as practiceable before Jesus' birth as it has been since, but it was proclaimed by Socrates in the Dialogues of Plato, the "Crito", at least 500 years earlier: For when we are injured we are not to injure in return, for we must injure no one at all, nor are we to return eyil for evil. So Christians cannot claim that Jesus invented this precept either, any more than they can claim that they practice it, as it has been violated by most of Christianity since the beginning.

And if we consider one more teaching of Jesus which cannot be found in the Old Testament: Forgive without ceasing, we can see that it merely follows from the previous one. For if we bear all wrongs patiently, if we give to those who ask of us, if we return not evil for evil, the way in which this attitude expresses itself is naturally in forgiveness. But unlimited forgiveness also was possible, however much it may have been unknown as a precept, before Jesus, as much as it was after; and we must assume that it would have been just as pleasing to God for man to forgive unto seven times or unto seventy times seven, before Jesus as after.

Thus, we have seen that all of the teachings of Jesus were not only proclaimed before his time, but that the practice of them was just as possible before his time as well, whether they had been proclaimed or not. And can we believe that God would have condemned any person who lived before Jesus' time who practiced these teachings: who did justly and loved mercy, who loved his enemies as his neighbors as himself, who forgave all injuries done to him, who did unto others as he would have done unto him? Of course not; a God of love and mercy could not possibly condemn such a practitioner, whether that person knew of Jesus or not. There is not a single precept of Jesus which was not just as performable before his time as after so that even if Jesus had been the first to enunciate them as rules for behavior, it would only be the case that he had discovered them, not invented them just as Newton discovered mechanics, but did not invent it. This is not to disparage the teachings of Jesus, it is only to refute the notion that the world changed fundamentally when he came, which in his own words it did not: There is no other commandment greater than those given by Moses: Love God, and love all people.

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Of course Christians will claim that Jesus did not come merely to teach more excellent morality or more love of humanity, but that he taught us to worship him as the Messiah and as the Savior of the world. But Jesus himself never claimed to be "the" Messiah, in fact as we have shown elsewhere he denied it; and Jesus himself never used the word Savior. The idea may have come from what may indeed be a remark of his: For the Son of man came to seek and save that which was lost. But he says this after welcoming Zacchaeus into his following, not in connection with his death; nor does the statement mention the world in any case. The myth of Jesus as God or the Son of God, and as dying on the cross as a sacrifice or a ransom to God for the sins of men was invented by Paul and the early Christians as an explanation to the Gentiles for why Jesus died and not only does it not come from Jesus nor have anything to do with his teachings, but it is a most primitive and vindictive notion of God, who would require the death of his "son" to satisfy his anger and wrath against men (to say nothing of the polytheistic nature of the concept of a "son" of God or the pagan notion that God would impregnate a human female, much as Jupiter was used to doing), which contrasts with and is contradicted by the teaching in the Old Testament where 'God orders Abraham not to sacrifice his son Isaac according to the custom which is also one of the reasons why the Jews the writers of the Old Testament, were never able to accept Christianity.

And Christians also believe that Jesus is somehow still alive, that after his resurrection he lived on and on just like God, and that in this respect the world did fundamentally change, and the situation now is that we must worship him, or God will not forgive us. Now it is entirely admissible that there is a "spirit of man" which is eternal, a quality of being which can corne to flower in each and every person; and it is entirely possible that Jesus was referring to some such spirit when he used the term "Son of man". ThiS term itself is a Hebrew expression which can be just as accurately translated "spirit of man" in this sense as "son of man", but what a difference in so many of Jesus' statements: "The spirit of man has power on earth to forgive sins:" "The SPirit of man is lord of the Sabbath:" "The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the spirit of man, and ye shall not see it! But there is no grounds for believing that Jesus said that he would rise from the dead, any more than there is for believing that he actually did or that he lives on and on in the person. Even though he is reported to have said that "after three days" he would rise again, he contradicts that by saying "There shall no sign be given unto the people" and "If people hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded EVEN IF SOMEONE WERE TO RISE FROM THE DEAD" (Luke 16:31). Besides there is no way of figuring three days between his death and his reported resurrection; at most it is two days if he was executed on Friday morning and rose on Sunday morning. And this completely gives the lie to Matthew's claiming that Jesus said, "For even as the Son of man was three dqys and nights in the heart of the earth..." or John's that he said, "Destroy this body (=temple), and in three days I will raise it up." These words were all put in Jesus' mouth by later Christians to support their claims of his appearances to them. But Jesus himself could never have said them, for he refused to give a sign, and he refused to jump off the pinnacle of the temple to prove that he was the "son of God" but calls it a temptation of the devil. And nowhere in Jesus' teaching can any statement be found which says or implies that he had to die on the cross to propitiate God's wrath or to transform the order of the world or that all who disbelieved were damned.

(originally published under the name of John Fitz)