5.     Historical background

Three key words characterize the historical background of Jesus. Rome, the Parthian Empire and Galilee.

Volcano Pichincha
Volcano Pichincha

In Rome in the late Republic, the old aristocratic families had led the state to the brink of ruin with their struggles for power. Emperor Augustus had managed to build a stable monarchy in place of the rule of the aristocracy.

He retained the facade of the Republic and integrated the old elite into the New State with a lot of administrative offices and honorary posts. Under the rule of Augustus the economy boomed and orders for the building industry brought profits to the entrepreneurs and employment to the lower class.

Sculptors and poets were vying with each other to praise Emperor Augustus, the First Man of the state, and the Golden Age without war that he had brought about. Augustus became a celebrated example for all monarchs at the time, including the Herodian princes and the governor Jesus.  


4.     Unemployment

When Herod the Great became seriously ill, the Roman studies of the Jewish princes

Volcano Pichincha, ascent to the crater rim
Volcano Pichincha, ascent to the crater rim

came to an end. At the end of year 5 or the begin of 4 BCE the princes and Jesus travelled to Judaea. In 7 BCE, as the conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn announced to the astrologers a change of ruler in Palestine, they fortunately stayed in Rome and so escaped the distrust of Herod the Great in his old age.

Two half-brothers of the princes, the sons of Mariamne, Alexander and Aristobul, were out of luck: Herod had them executed for flimsy reasons in 7 BCE. In the gospel according to Matthew this episode turned up as the massacre of the infants of Bethlehem, Matt 2, 16-17. There Jesus escaped the massacre too, this time because of the flight into Egypt (= Rome).


3.     Chronology

1.  According to John 2,20: 8,57 after 46 years of building the temple, in 27 CE Jesus

Volcano Pichincha, ascent to the crater rim
Volcano Pichincha, ascent to the crater rim

was about 50. Thus he was born in 24/23 BCE. This corresponds to Luke 2,1ss, Matt 2,1ss and Luke 1, 5, which say that Jesus was born under the rule of the emperor Augustus and during the reign of King Herod the Great.

2. The highly political office which was offered to Jesus was the office of the governor of Galilee in the ministry of Herod Antipas. In 6 CE Jesus took over this office.

At that time he was 30; this was his first public office, Luke 3, 23. 6 CE was the crisis of the sons of Herod the Great. Then, after popular disturbances, Archelaos was banished to Gaul by the emperor.


According to Josephus, Ant. 17, 1, 3 in about 9 BCE Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Philip

Volcano Pichincha, 4794 m, Ecuador
Volcano Pichincha, 4794 m, Ecuador

were sent to Rome for further education. There they stayed privately with a family, maybe with Asinius Pollio.

I imagine that Jesus, being in the entourage of the princes, also went to Rome and got the same education. Herod the Great and his successors needed competent experts for the administration and Rome-educated diplomats who were loyal to the Herod family.

For the Romans it was important to educate members of the elites of the subject nations, who could transmit Roman principles of government to their homelands.

They studied the artes liberales, subjects for free-born young men, which did not require hard manual work: grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy (which included astrology), music theory.

 In Rome, the Jewish students had to learn Latin, the language of the rulers of the world.


2.     Childhood, education

In 24/23 BCE Jesus was born and underwent a typical aristocratic education.

Cotopaxi Volcano 5897 m, Ecuador
Cotopaxi Volcano 5897 m, Ecuador

Until he was seven, he lived in the care of his mother and her servants and was looked after with brothers, sisters and other children.

At the age of seven Jesus started at an elementary school at the court of Herod the Great, where he was educated with the sons of Herod and other sons of aristocrats. Here Jesus met Manaen, the later Christian presbyter in Antiochia, Acts 13, 1.

Whereas in his mother’s house Aramaic and Greek were spoken, in the school only Greek was spoken. The syllabus included recitations of Homer and other classical authors of Greek antiquity, reading, writing, calculating, geometry, playing music, and physical education.


4.  The Armenia crisis leads us into the time when the Samaritan prophet

Oldtimerbus, Quito, Ecuador
Oldtimerbus, Quito, Ecuador

appeared, Josephus, Ant. 18,4,1. The death of Jesus as a Messiah and the riot over the Samaritan prophet must be the same event. In 36 CE Jesus was crucified as the Sama­ritan prophet.

5.  The proclamation of Jesus as Messiah in Caesarea Philippi is only plausible if Jesus was qualified for the job as a governor by his education or by being from an aristocratic family.

6.  Therefore, this is how I understand the Temptation (Matt 4, Luke 4): in 6 CE, in the crisis of the Herodians, when Archelaus in Jerusalem lost his job and was banished to Gaul, Herod Antipas offered Jesus the job of governor of Galilee, and Jesus accepted the offer and took over the duty. Later the church claimed that Jesus had refused the offer.


1.     Reconstruction

Which premises should we start out on, when we reconstruct

Oldtimerbus, Quito, Ecuador
Oldtimerbus, Quito, Ecuador

the biography of Jesus? Which basic conclusions can be made?

1.  Jesus was crucified as a Messiah by Pilate. This is the most thoroughly proven fact in the biography of Jesus. A sensible recon­struction of his biography can only start from this point.

2. Jesus was proclaimed Messiah in Caesarea Philippi, Mark 8,29. It makes sense only after the death of the tetrarch Philip in 34 CE.

3. The Armenia crisis happened in 35 CE. The people in the Orient, who were hostile to Rome, saw their chance to fight the Romans and hoped for Parthian support.

It would be plausible if Jesus was proclaimed Messiah by Parthian-backed people as a king to counter the Romans and the Herodians.


The methodological points to start my solution are the following:

Panecillo, Quito, Ecuador
Panecillo, Quito, Ecuador

1.  Accepting an anthropological constant (similar human behaviour 2000 years ago and today), refusing Jesus’ singularity,

2. Paying careful attention to the contemporary historical back­ground,

3.  Accepting that the religiosity of Antiquity is the basis for early Christianity,

4.  Re-evaluating the gospels as poetry and part of the literary discourse of the 1st century CE,

5. Accepting that historical processes can be described logically and through argument.


Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) exposed this contradiction: he applied the criteria

Old Town, Quito, Ecuador
Old Town, Quito, Ecuador

of plausibility and agreement with sources to examine the biblical story of Jesus. He proved 1. that the biblical narratives of Jesus and his disciples are often not plausible, and 2. that there are a lot of contradictions between the teachings of Jesus and those of the apostles, and so of the church.

Reimarus recommended the following solution, which is critical of the church: that the resurrection was a fraud by the disciples, who wanted to continue making their living as itinerant preachers.

The problem brought up by Reimarus was accepted as a scientific /scholarly problem and led to the German Leben-Jesu-Forschung of the 19th century. But his solution was rightly rejected by subsequent scholars.



The Bible tells the history of Jesus and his disciples in the style of contemporary poetry. It mixes historical facts

Old Town, Quito, Ecuador
Old Town, Quito, Ecuador

with fictional material such as anecdotes and miracles, and at the important places supernatural powers and persons are brought into play to substantiate the significance of the events.

Until the Enlighten­ment people intuitively understood this way of telling stories about Jesus: nobody saw a contradiction between religious truth and historical facts.

In the modern sciences since the 16th century the idea of truth has been connected with verifiability and repeatability in experiments. In the historical sciences since the Renaissance, and especially in the 18th century, plausibility and agreement with sources have gained acceptance as criteria of truth.


3. In 36 CE the Armenia crisis happened and Roman power in the Orient was on the edge.

Equator diploma 15.8.1989
Equator diploma 15.8.1989

Here Jesus took over the leadership of a messianic revolt against the Romans. Pilate crucified all the leaders of the revolt, Luke 23, 32, Josephus, Ant. 18, 4, 1, whereas he spared the supporters.

4. A famous rite in the antique mysteries is the rite to die and to rise again. This rite and the connected considerations were transferred to Jesus.

5.  Not at all. The tales of the miracles are parables in the tradition of the literature of antiquity: they interpret the gospel of Jesus.


Today a new theme begins:

Was Jesus Governor of Galilee?

A New Approach to the Historical Jesus

Equatorial Monument near Quito, Ecuador
Equatorial Monument near Quito, Ecuador

Quick info

Six questions

1.  How old was Jesus as he began his public ministry, 30 as according to Luke or 50 as according to John?

2. Why was Jesus revered?

3.  Why did Jesus die on the Cross?

4.  How did faith in the resurrection develop after the death of Jesus?

5.  Did the Gospels tell of the miracles of Jesus as historical facts?

6.  Did Jesus come from the lower middle class?

Here are the correct answers:


The mind as an evolutionary innovation was made possible by a functional change of the brain,

Puno, Peru
Puno, Peru

which acquired the ability to communicate within a network, and by a functional change of this network, which facilitated the motivation of the individuals involved and the control of their instincts.

The motivational impulses in the network, which bestow vital energy and without which individuals and social groups are not viable, have been identified as the nucleus of the human mind. The development up to the beginnings of the mind also takes place within the framework of Darwin’s theory of evolution. However, in the end, there is a new stage of existence.

The intellectually gifted human being has emergent characteristics for whose description, beyond biological theory, a separate set of rules is required.


VI.     Summary

Hypothesis 22

The evolution of brain and mind

Rail journey to Lake Titicaca, Peru
Rail journey to Lake Titicaca, Peru

The task at hand was to present the evolution of the mind in accordance with Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Previous attempts at solutions based on the co-evolution of brain and mind have been rejected because the mind assumes the brain has already been completed developed (both factually and temporally). In addition, the emergent qualities of the human mind still cannot play a role on the biological level of brain development.

The proposed solution is based on a succession of the evolution of brain and mind. The development of the brain with the stages of prenatal growth, postnatal growth, and the networked brain can be plausibly explained based on the Darwinian theory of evolution without using the influence of mental or cultural factors as a justification.

The influence of the mind would then be an additional and not necessarily an explanatory cause to be rejected according to the principle of Ockham’s razor.


Hypothesis 21


Rail journey to Machu Picchu, Peru
Rail journey to Machu Picchu, Peru

After the beginnings of the human mind, the development of human culture begins. However, this is no longer our topic.

How the human mind develops, what laws it follows, and what dependence there is on the biological nature of human beings – these are exciting philosophical questions that cannot be discussed here.