• Survival of the Crucifixion: Traditions of Jesus
    within Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism


    James W. Deardorff
    December, 1993; revised March, 1998

    Jesus within Islam
    Jesus within Hinduism
    Jesus within Buddhism
    Jesus within Roman paganism



    The empty tomb on Easter morning and subsequent appearances of Jesus to his disciples and to a few others have provided some novelists, or writer-scholars, with incentive to explore the possibility of his survival of the crucifixion.1 This incentive has been furthered by the lack of documented examples of resurrection other than that supposed for Jesus first by Paul and then by the early Christian church. Unknown to many, however, is that various independent scholars have also postulated that Jesus survived the crucifixion for the same reasons. Also not well known is how widespread and credible the traditions are that point to Jesus, after surviving the crucifixion, having traveled with a few others through Anatolia and thence eastward to northern India and the Kashmir region. Here these topics will be summarized and consolidated so that open-minded, questioning Christians can better explore the roots of their faith and understand how thoroughly Christian authorities over the centuries have ignored, suppressed and belittled the unthinkable evidence that could overturn their faith.


    Although the various Gospel accounts of Jesus' appearances to his disciples following the crucifixion contain a large number of inconsistencies and discrepancies, this is only to be expected if the Gospel writers, especially the first one, needed to edit an original account of Jesus having survived the crucifixion into an account in which he had appeared in a resurrected form. The various scholars' hypotheses will then vary due to the differing weights they may attach to the different Gospel accounts, and due to their differing religious backgrounds.

    The Ahmadiyyas. This non-orthodox branch of Islam was founded in the 19th century by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, Pakistan. His century-old book, available on line, provides the basics of their evidence and understanding that Jesus survived the crucifixion. By now, their followers, several hundred thousand strong, are centered in London, Berlin and Los Angeles as well as in Pakistan. M. G. Ahmad carefully researched the traditions that support Jesus' trek across Asia; this prompted him and some scholarly followers to postulate how Jesus survived the crucifixion. Briefly, they posit that Jesus lapsed into a deep swoon while on the cross, that the spear thrust missed his heart, that he received medical attention while in the tomb, and that his exit from the tomb was aided by Essenes.2 These are all plausible suppositions, except, it turns out, that Essenes were not in on it.

    Underlying this and other survival hypotheses to be discussed is the knowledge that death on the cross was designed to be long in coming -- up to several days, while Jesus is said to have been taken down from the cross, with legs unbroken, relatively early on the same day. Further, it is often pointed out that Josephus has written of an instance in which he recognized three Jewish prisoners who had undergone crucifixion but had not yet died. He obtained permission from Titus to take them down from their crosses and administer aid; one of them survived.3 The Ahmadiyya literature also points out that the "sign of Jonah" prophecy made by Jesus is better fulfilled if he had survived the entombment of three days and nights, since Jonah survived his experience within the interior of the "big fish."

    The Ahmadiyyas' supposition that Essenes were involved in Jesus' recovery stems from their assumption that the "angels in white" in Jn 20:12 or the men (or man) in white in Lk 24:4 (or Mt 28:3, Mk 16:5 or Jn 20:12) were Essenes due to the belief that Essenes wore white garments. Of course, this is not consistent with the reactions of the reported witnesses to having seen non-human entities clad in dazzlingly white apparel.

    Karl Bahrdt, ca. 1780. This scholar postulated, in brief, that Jesus survived a feigned death, with Luke the physician having supplied drugs to Jesus beforehand. Jesus was supposed to have been an Essene, and so also Joseph of Arimathea, who resuscitated him. On the third day, when Jesus came forth, his appearance scared the guards away and he later lived in seclusion with the Essenes.4 Here there is much to criticize -- all, in fact, but the likelihood that Joseph of Arimathea was involved in Jesus' recovery. 5

    Karl Venturini, ca. 1800. Venturini proposed that Jesus had been associated with a secret society, which wished him to become a spiritual Messiah. Though they had not expected him to survive the crucifixion, one of them, dressed in white, heard some groans from inside the tomb. He frightened away the guards and retrieved Jesus, who used up his remaining energy in appearing to his disciples and afterwards retired permanently from sight. This appears even more far-fetched than Bahrdt's version.

    Heinrich Paulus, 1828. A more detailed version was postulated by Paulus. Preceding the earthquake of Mt 27:51, dense fumes were supposedly released that caused difficulty in breathing and made it appear that Jesus had prematurely died on the cross. Somehow Jesus survived in the tomb without any help. Similar to Venturini's hypothesis, Paulus had Jesus use up his remaining energy in the following days and then disappear into an orographic cloud at the end of his final meeting with the disciples on the mountain -- the Ascension. Again, however, there is no shortage of problems with this scenario.6 Nevertheless, the father of modern theology, F.E.D. Schleiermacher, endorsed a form of this hypothesis in the early 1830s.7

    Ernest Brougham Docker, 1920. He proposed that on the cross, Jesus had lapsed into a state of catalepsy or self-hypnosis, that the spear thrust to the side may not have occurred, and that within the tomb Jesus was aided by Joseph and Nicodemus. Later, the gardener of Jn 20:15 supplied Jesus with fresh clothing.8 Docker was a district court judge as well as a student of the New Testament, and offered an interesting discussion of how the bystanders at the crucifixion may have mistakenly thought Jesus dead while Joseph discovered otherwise. This scenario seems more realistic than the preceding ones, though surely Joseph or Nicodemus could have supplied the clothing.

    Robert Graves & Joshua Podro, 1957. These two independent scholars pictured Jesus as having collapsed into a coma while on the cross, with the spear thrust having failed to pierce the lungs. The outflow of "blood and water" (Jn 19:34; Mt 27:49b, according to manuscripts "B" and "Aleph") indicated to them that Jesus had not died, a point also made by the Ahmadiyyas. One of the guards at the tomb is supposed to have entered in order to steal the valuable ointment smeared on the shroud in which Jesus had been wrapped; finding him alive, he informed their sergeant, who let Jesus go. That evening Jesus showed himself to the disciples, but from then on became a wanderer, living in hiding.9 I find this guard scenario much less realistic than that of secret medical attention supplied within the tomb.

    The Talmud of Jmmanuel (TJ), 1978. This is the document discovered in 1963, translated in substantial part from Aramaic into German by 1974, and destroyed in June of that year due to its heresies for Christianity and Judaism.10 Because of its heresies, lack of extant originals, and association with a UFO contactee case, scholars cannot deal with it seriously and it remains largely unknown to them. In it, Jmmanuel (Jesus) lapses into a very deep trance, probably samadhi,11 on the cross and only Joseph of Arimathea notices he is not dead after the spear thrust. After enshrouding him and carrying him to his tomb, he quickly seeks out Jmmanuel's Hindu friends for help because of their skill in medicines and herbs. They utilize a second entrance to the tomb known only to Joseph so as not to arouse suspicions, especially after the guards are posted. After three days (not just two) Jmmanuel is helped out very early in the morning via the secret entrance and continues to recover rapidly. Just how he was able to recover so quickly is not explained, and one is left with the possibility that his miraculous healing powers could be applied not just to others but to a considerable extent to himself as well. During his subsequent meetings with his disciples, he warned them not to disclose his survival to others. This may well be history, not hypothesis, but for those who insist that the TJ must be a literary hoax, it is the hypothesis of an unknown hoaxer.

    J.D.M. Derrett, 1982. Prof. Derrett allowed that Jesus had lapsed into unconsciousness or a self-induced trance during the crucifixion, being taken for dead by bystanders and by the Roman soldier who stabbed him in the side. He chose the likelihood that his heart and lungs had not been pierced, and assumed that Jesus subsequently self-revived within the tomb. Basing other assumptions on the Gospel of Mark, he inferred that no Roman guard had been set, but rather that the young man of Mk 16:5 (and possibly of Mk 14:51) was a self-appointed guard. Some noise inside the tomb supposedly caused this guard to check inside, whence he found Jesus in poor shape but alive. Jesus is assumed to have muttered a few things to this guard to relay to the disciples, and died not long afterwards from his injuries. His disciples supposedly cremated his body because they considered him the Paschal Lamb, meant to be sacrificed.12 A half dozen objections to this hypothesis have been raised.13

    B. Thiering. This scholar pictured Jesus as having been given snake poison on the cross, which rendered him unconscious. He recovered from this and was helped to escape from the tomb by friends. Ultimately he settled in Rome.14 I have been unable to see any merit in her arguments: she pictures the entire ministry of Jesus as presented in the Gospels as actually having occurred in the Dead Sea area rather than the Sea-of-Galilee area, including the fishing industry. She regards nearly everything in the Gospels as a coded version of what actually occurred, with the code to be deciphered by the "pesher" method. Her use of this method makes repeated use of the Dead Sea Scrolls in which she interprets the "Wicked Priest" as Jesus. I am disappointed to have had to dismiss her work as summarily as have the "mainstream" scholars.


    The resuscitation hypotheses up until 1835 were roundly rejected by David Friedrich Strauss, and for nearly a century this put a damper on further such hypotheses. His criticism was largely in the form of ridicule over the idea of a "half-dead" being creeping out from the grave "weak and ill," yet managing to instill in his disciples "the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave."15 He assumed Jesus had not received any medical attention while in the tomb. However, several of the survival hypotheses do postulate such medical assistance, and are therefore immune to Strauss's objection. Yet, his rejection is sometimes referred to by scholars even today, when necessary, as if it were germane. Strauss was the first scholar to emphasize the possibility that after the crucifixion the disciples so longed for their Lord that they invented the appearances. Thus he simply dismissed all testimony that Jesus had risen from the grave and physically appeared to his disciples by pointing out inconsistencies in the various accounts, rather than exploring reasons why such inconsistencies would be expected.

    A prominent medical-theological treatment of the crucifixion concluded that if Jesus did not die on the cross, he must surely have died from the spear thrust. 16 However, this conclusion was based most noticeably on pre-1980 analyses of the Shroud of Turin and the assumption that this shroud is genuine. The Ahmadiyyas have also utilized the Shroud of Turin to support their opposing conclusion, but they could point to the outflow of "blood and water" from the spear thrust as indicating that Jesus had not died, as from asphyxiation, prior to that action. Although the authors of this attempted debunking were Christians, and must have believed in the reality of Jesus' miraculous cures of lepers, the lame, blind, deaf and other afflicted, they never questioned whether his spiritual healing power might not extend to his own body.

    In summary, if the most logical components from the various resuscitation hypotheses are synthesized in a consistent manner, it is seen that one like the TJ's story could emerge that survives the objections of attempted debunkers. This is especially true if Jesus' healing powers could have applied also to himself. This may seem more plausible to many than that the Gospels' stories of Jesus' post-crucifixion appearances were totally made up and that resurrection is a viable concept. Hence it is reasonable to treat seriously the traditions indicating that in years following the crucifixion, Jesus and a small party traveled about Anatolia and western Asia.

    Some of these Jesus-in-Asia traditions to be presented have been pseudo-debunked by the Swedish scholar, Per Beskow.17 Careful inspection of one topic, however, indicates that his tactic was to ignore the most pertinent pieces of evidence, distort much of the rest, emphasize irrelevancies, attempt to discredit persons who provide first- or second-hand information, and otherwise treat the evidence piece-meal rather than cumulatively.18 Beskow dismissed the Jesus-in-Asia traditions primarily by calling them legends whose Asian sources "do not carry any weight at all."19 This appears to be a cultural put-down induced by theological commitment or fear that serious investigation of the topic would be loathsome in the eyes of Western colleagues.


    AncreJesus within Islam. Certain Islamic historians felt no need to suppress these traditions, since to them Jesus was only a mortal prophet, albeit a very important one. Moreover, Islam in general doesn't even believe that Jesus underwent the crucifixion, but that someone substituted for him on the cross. The Persian historian Mir Kawand names a site close to Damascus called Maqam-Isa or Mayuam-i-isa, which means "the place where Jesus lived," according to independent scholar Holger Kersten.20 Kersten traveled through western Asia in 1973-74 visiting various libraries and researching these traditions. The Talmud of Jmmanuel confirms this by indicating that Jmmanuel (alias Jesus) went to Damascus following his final meeting with his disciples, and lived there incognito for two years.21 This included the time when Saul (Paul) had his conversion experience on the road to Damascus southwest of the city.22

    Three of these historians wrote of Jesus, Mary and Thomas (Judas-Thomas, presumably) having traveled to Nisibis (Nasibain) near Edessa, now Urfa in southeast Turkey just north of Syria, where Jesus preached to the king. Mir Muhammad bin Khawand Shah Ibn-i-Muhammad, also known as Mir Khawand bin Badshah, in 1417 wrote of the journey of Jesus away from the Jerusalem area to Nisibis. In the former, Jesus and Mary first go to Syria; in the latter, they and Thomas have some confrontations with the king of Nisibis.23

    Faqir Muhammad, around 1830, wrote, among other things, that on these journeys Jesus and Mary traveled on foot, and that Jesus preached to the king of Nisibis. 24 According to Holger Kersten, the story is prefixed by this king having been ill and having requested Jesus to come and cure him; Jesus sent Thomas on ahead, and Thomas cured the king by the time Jesus and the rest of his party arrived. 25

    Iman Abu Jaffar Muhammad bin Jarir at-Tabri in 1880 wrote of the tradition that Jesus and party had to depart quickly from Nisibis because of hostility that had arisen against them there. 26

    In most of the Muslim writings Jesus is referred to as Yuz Asaf. The meaning and derivation of the name is uncertain. "Yuz" is thought by some to mean either "Jesus" or "leader," and "Asaf" to refer to those he cured of leprosy. Thus one interpretation is that Yuz Asaf means "leader of those he cured of leprosy."27 An alternate interpretation will be supplied later. It is understandable that in his travels after the crucifixion Jesus would have remained incognito, especially for the first few years and in Anatolia, and when necessary have supplied a name for himself other than what he had been known by in Palestine. However, ample descriptions are supplied that leave no doubt that the man known as Yuz Asaf is to be identified with Jesus -- his close association with his mother Mary and with Thomas is one of these.

    In Iranian traditions recounted by Agha Mustafai, it is said that Yuz Asaf came there from the west and preached, causing many to believe in him.28 His teachings are said to have been similar to those of Jesus. However, if he had taught reincarnation, 29 one would not expect that his surmised teachings on that subject would have been carried along by Muslim writers any more than by Christian writers, since Islam also does not embrace the concept of reincarnation.

    Within northwest Afghanistan, centered in the city of Herat, an explorer of Sufism, O. M. Burke, came across a sect of some 1000 people who are devotees of Yuz Asaf, whom they also knew as Isa, son of Maryam.30 Their tradition includes Isa, the prophet from Israel, having escaped the cross, traveled to India and settled in Kashmir. He was (again) regarded as possessing the power to perform miracles. The sect's leader at that time (1976), Abba Yahiyya (Father John), could recite the names of the succession of their leaders and teachers back through nearly 60 generations to Yuz Asaf himself, when he had stopped off there along the Silk Road. Although Burke referred to this sect as Christians, since they revere Isa as the Son of God, they cannot of course be considered Christian in any orthodox sense.

    Within the Holy Quran there are many verses discussing Jesus, and often Mary also, but these either deal with the Nativity or his Palestinian ministry, or contain no definite geographical and temporal context. A possible exception, however, is Surah 23:50, a translation of which reads:

    And We made the son of Marium [Mary] and his mother a sign, and We gave them a shelter on a lofty ground having meadows and springs.

    Since Israel is not noted for having lofty ground with meadows and springs, this verse suggests a different location, and if shelter was needed, it indicates they were traveling.

    In eastern Pakistan, next to Kashmir, there is further support for these traditions. There one may find the tomb of Mary on a hilltop just outside a small town called Murree or Mari. The grave is called Mai Mari da Asthan, which means "the final resting place of Mother Mary."31 Her tomb faces east-west, as in Jewish custom, rather than north-south as in Islamic custom. Thus some evidence does exist to indicate that Mary made it at least this far in their travels and had traversed with Jesus over much beautiful high country of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in support of the Quran verse that hints at this.

    Farther east, in Kashmir near Srinagar, there is a monument in stone: the Throne of Solomon, bearing four inscriptions, the last two of which are most interesting though they were mutilated following the conquest of Kashmir by the Sikhs in 1819. However, they were described by the early Muslim historian of Kashmir, Mulla Nadiri, in 1413. An English translation of his Persian script is:

    At this time Yuz Asaf proclaimed his prophethood. Year fifty and four [in the reign of King Gopadatta].


    He is Jesus, prophet of the Children of Israel.32

    The correct dating and significance of the year 54 is not clear. The year has been placed within the reign of King Gopadatta at 107 C.E. by Kersten, and at 78 C.E. by Professor Fida Hassnain, director of archives and antiquities in Kashmir.33

    Some written and oral tradition assert that after death Yuz Asaf was entombed in the old section of Srinagar, in Anzimar in the Khanjar (or Khaniyar) quarter.34 Tradition has it that the tomb, about which a small building was long ago constructed, has been under constant watch by a succession of guardians ever since Yuz Asaf's supposed burial there. On the floor next to his grave it was noted by Hassnain that much candle-wax had accumulated, and upon carefully scraping it away at one corner of the tombstone, he discovered a crucifix and a rosary that had long been embedded. In addition, he found two footprints carved into the stone underneath the candle wax and mud with the marking of a crucifixion scar etched into each print.35 This is further indication that Yuz Asaf was known to have been Jesus Christ. Each year hundreds of Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists visit the tomb (known as Rozabal, or the "sacred tomb") to pay homage -- a nearly unique example of a unity within world religions.

    There is a report, however, that Yuz Asaf was actually buried not at the noted tomb site in Srinagar's old town, but on a hillside not far away. This comes from the UFO contactee Eduard Meier, the co-discoverer and editor of the Talmud of Jmmanuel, who in turn received the information from one of his contacting extraterrestrials. Those who have studied this document and realize its genuineness may wish to treat this report seriously.

    Within the ruins of the Indian city of Fatehpur Sikri, located some 15 miles west of Agra, there is an interesting inscription on a wall. It was emplaced on the portal of a mosque around 1601 by the emperor Akbar the Great, a Muslim convert of sorts, and reads,

    So said Jesus on whom be peace! The world is a bridge; pass over it but build no house upon it.36

    The meaning seems to be to keep in mind that the permanent home of the human spirit is not of this world, but with the Universal Consciousness, or God. Since the saying is not in the Gospels, it is consistent with having been uttered by Yuz Asaf. Its spiritual nature is fully consistent with the content of the previously mentioned Talmud of Jmmanuel. Possibly, verse 42 of the Gospel of Thomas is based upon this saying, for it reads, "Become passers-by" or "Become, as you pass by."

    It may be speculated that one of those who accompanied Yuz Asaf alias Jesus on his travels was a disciple-writer who continued to document Jesus' experiences and ministry until his own death, after which the writings ceased or were taken over by another until Jesus' death. If so, Jesus may have made provision for someone to carry a copy of the writings back on the Silk Road to the Palestinian area soon after his death, where it eventually came into the custody of the compiler of the Gospel of Matthew.37 This then would have been the source that Bishop Papias had learned about and referred to as the Logia, and the reason for the Gospels having come into existence relatively late.38 A supportive legend behind this speculation comes from the mention by Eusebius that the well known Alexandrian, Pantaenus (late second century), reported that during his trip to India he had learned that one of the twelve apostles had earlier preached there to the Indians from a Hebraic writing identified as the Gospel of Matthew. 39 Since the Gospels as they became known by mid-2nd century had not yet been created while any apostles were still alive, this suggests that the preaching Pantaenus reported had come from a pre-Matthean source written in India -- the Logia. The early parts of these Logia would have resembled the Gospel of Matthew. 40

    The first Muslim writer known to have included the tradition of Jesus having traveled to India in his youth with the tradition that he, as Yuz Asaf, had traveled in southwest Asia in the latter half of the first century, was the 10th-century historian, Shaikh Al-Said. 41

    Ancre Jesus within Hinduism. The Hindu literature known as the Bhavishya Maha Purana contains some ten verses indicating that Jesus was in India/Kashmir during the reign of King Shalivahan, which has been placed within 39 to 50 C.E. The king is said to have encountered Jesus at a spot about 10 miles northeast of Srinagar where there is a sulfur spring.42 During the king's inquiries of who he was, Jesus is reported to have replied that he was Yusashaphat (interpreted as Yuz Asaf by K. N. Ahmad), and that he had become known as Isa Masih (Jesus the Messiah). K. N. Ahmad dates the writing of these verses to 115 C.E. Although details of the verses may indicate that they received later editing, their basic theme -- that Christianity's Jesus had been there in Kashmir -- persists.

    Much more recent is a statement by Jawarhar Nehru in a 1932 letter to his daughter, Indira, where he wrote, "All over Central Asia, in Kashmir and Ladakh and Tibet and even farther north, there is a strong belief that Jesus or Isa travelled about there. Some people believed that he visited India also."43 This testifies to the persistence of the oral tradition.

    Ancre Jesus within Buddhism. It has been suggested that within Mahayana Buddhism the legendary Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara developed out of Jesus having been in Tibet and India. 44 For one reason, this bodhisattva is thought to have reached his earliest known (legendary) form around the second or third century C.E.,45 which timing is appropriate for the hypothesis. For another reason, the book by Professor John Holt of Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, suggests that the origins of the Avalokitesvara cult was in northwest India in the second century.46

    Although Avalokitesvara is mentioned in the Buddhist writing called the Heart Sutra, that writing, according to Holt (personal communication), is a "prajnaparamita" text that probably dates to either the 1st or 2nd century CE and is therefore somewhat later than the more likely origins of Avalokitesvara. The name itself, however, may stem from "avalokana," an abstracted mythologization of the compassionate view of the world that the Buddha takes just after his enlightenment experience.

    For still another reason, given the impact that Jesus made in just a couple years of ministry in Palestine, due in no small measure to his ability to work miracles and prophesy, it would not be surprising that his further ministry during many post-crucifixion years of traveling outside of Palestine under different names would also have received acclaim, at least within oral tradition. The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is a candidate for this because he became the top one or two of all the numerous bodhisattvas in importance and degree of respect and worship accorded. 47 Within Buddhist thought, the successive Dalai Lamas are believed to be reincarnations of Avalokitesvara.

    However, the primary reason is that he is sometimes portrayed with a small circular marking on the hand, which could represent a crucifixion scar.48 A similar marking, usually interpreted as the Buddhist wheel of life, is mentioned in a third-century writing to be imprinted upon the soles of his feet.49

    The mythologization of Avalokitesvara became so extensive that he has even been considered the creator of the world. 50 This is surprisingly similar to Jesus being professed as part of the Godhead who was with God the Creator from the beginning. If both creation strories are considered to be myths, however, it is not surprising that the same man could have inspired both.

    If Avalokitesvara should indeed be another name for Jesus, it is an example of a legend as yet known to only a few. But if it was known to be more than just a legend to some Buddhists at the time the name Avalokitesvara was bestowed, it is understandable that they would not wish to antagonize Christians by insisting Buddhism call him by the same name that Christianity uses.

    Kersten has advanced the idea that the name Yuz Asaf may actually have a Buddhist derivation. If Jesus had called himself a knower of truth, or others had recognized this, then in Sanskrit this phrase would be "bodhi sattva," or "budasaf" essentially, Kersten suggests.51 He pointed out that in Syrian, Arabic and Persian, "Budasaf" would read like "Judasaf" or "Yudasaf," since their letters J and B are nearly identical. The latter two words are sufficiently similar, then, that this could be the real etymology behind "Yuz Asaf."

    The tradition that Jesus, under whatever name, had been to the Kashmir region in years after the crucifixion is known to some of the lamas. In 1922 Swami Abhedananda, a well known monk and disciple of Sri Ramakrishna of the Barahanagar Temple, near Calcutta, learned of this from a lama at Himis monastery, Ladakh.52

    Ancre Jesus within Roman paganism. It is only natural to inquire if a similar legend might not exist within Roman paganism that would point back to Jesus as having been its source. There is indeed such a legend -- the man known as Apollonius of Tyana, but he was more than a legend. He is supposed to have been born around the commencement of the Christian era and to have died in 97 C.E. His life is described within a biography written in Rome by the Greek philosopher, Philostratus, around 220 C.E.53 If the many other traditions that collectively indicate Jesus had spent years traveling after the crucifixion contain truth, it would not be surprising that he would sometimes have been confronted by a Roman official and, to be safe, would have needed to supply himself with an alias. A Greek name with pagan overtones -- Apollonius -- would no doubt have made it easier for him to travel within Anatolia and elsewhere within the Roman empire.

    In his biography Philostratus credits Apollonius with the same kinds of powers that the Gospels depict for Jesus: healing, casting out of spirits, and foreknowledge. One of his healings was particularly suggestive, where he brought a girl back to life who had recently died, very much as with the daughter of Jairus in Matthew 9:23-25. And at one point Philostratus went so far as to allude that Apollonius would actually be alive when his followers would instead think he had risen from the dead.54

    This connection between Apollonius and Jesus did not go unnoticed by influential Christians. Eusebius knew of it, and denounced those who wrote favorably about this Apollonius.55 Fortunately, however, Philostratus's biography managed to survive, though an antecedent's books about Apollonius did not.56 It would seem that Philostratus had taken care to ensure in his book that any connection between Apollonius and Jesus would be indirect and not too apparent. For example, he never mentioned Apollonius as residing in, or traveling to, the land of Israel.

    On his journeys Apollonius is said to have been accompanied not only by his primary companion, Damis, but by "two servants he had inherited" -- one a shorthand writer and the other a secretary.57 These two could easily correspond to Jesus' disciple-writer and to his mother, respectively. Damis would then correspond to Judas-Thomas, and we may note a similarity between Thomas's Greek name "Didymus" and "Damis."

    On one trip Apollonius and his party travel to Babylon, where the king had fallen ill. Apollonius attends him and brings about his recovery.58 This story is somewhat reminiscent of Faqir Muhhamad's account of Thomas having cured the king of Nisibis, if allowance is made for Philostratus to have altered the geographical location.

    On a longer trip eastward to Taxila (in Pakistan) Apollonius and his party are said to have visited King Gundaphorus for several days.59 That visit is reminiscent of one to the same king reported in the Acts of Thomas.60 However, Philostratus found much to say about Apollonius and Damis there while in the Acts of Thomas Jesus only puts in fleeting appearances at King Gundaphorus's court, as if its writer knew that were he to write anything further it would target his Gnostic document for oblivion by defenders of Christianity.

    Analysts have had great difficulty with the biography of Apollonius in trying to determine which parts are historical and which are fiction. However, Apollonius himself was definitely a historical figure:
           (a) four books by one Moeragnes that did not survive were written about him and mentioned by Origen;
           (b) Apollonius is mentioned by the Greek rhetorician Lucian; and
           (c) the historian Cassius Dio mentions him twice in contexts of having been a real figure.

    Just how and where Apollonius of Tyana died is left vague by Philostratus. He has no known tomb or burial site, despite his historical importance, which is consistent with his name being a pseudonym and/or his burial place being outside of the Roman empire.

    There is an Apollonius website devoted entirely to this man and the problem he posed for early Christianity.

    The tradition relayed by Irenaeus. Besides the clues within the Gospels of the empty tomb and post-entombment appearances, which are consistent with Jesus later having had an extended ministry outside of Palestine, a tradition consistent with this was made known by a prominent church father. Irenaeus, who lived until about 180 C.E., and who was a staunch quasher of heresies, nevertheless attested to a tradition that elders of the church who were conversant with the disciple John in Asia had affirmed that Jesus had reached old age -- beyond 50.62 The crux of it reads as follows:

    On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the time of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account as to the [validity of] the statement.

    "The statement" or "information" evidently is the assertion that Jesus had reached the stage of old age and was still teaching, and was no longer the young 30 he had been at the crucifixion (suffering). The clause "even as the Gospel and all the elders testify" reads like a scribal addition that attempts to explain this away in reference to Jn 8:56, which strangely implies that Jesus, during his Palestinian ministry, was nearing the age of 50. The preceding paragraph, not reproduced here, also reads like a scribal addition designed to ameliorate the impact of the above statement; it talks of Jesus, during his ministry, being of all ages, and taking on the age of each person who was listening to him.

    It is not known how Irenaeus assimilated this information into his belief in the resurrection. The editors of Ante-Nicene Fathers called it an "extraordinary assertion," but could only imply that Irenaeus had somehow been grossly in error. It should be clear that if the statement had merely involved the fact that Jesus had been a teacher for one, two or three years until the day he was crucified, this is not anything Irenaeus would have bothered to report, as Christians already knew that. The mention of Asia in the above report probably refers to Asia Minor, or Anatolia.


    Many of the foregoing legends and traditions may be unfamiliar to the reader because they have been systematically ignored and suppressed in the West. However, when they are viewed together as a whole, we see a very consistent picture that is trying to tell us that Christianity at a very early stage was directed onto the wrong path, first by Paul and then by the early churches which Paul so heavily influenced. The right path instead tells us much more of just how remarkable this man, known to us today as Jesus, actually was. This is not to say that some fraction of the strange tales one may read about Jesus are not fictions, but to say that a holistic perception is needed to separate probable fact from probable fiction. The practice of assuming that any tradition is false if it conflicts with one's own particular theological commitment, without having first carefully examined it with a truly open mind and in a comprehensive manner, cannot be condoned within true scholarship or true science.


    Ancre1. See, e.g., Hugh J. Schonfield, The Passover Plot (London: Hutchinson, 1966); Donovan Joyce, The Jesus Scroll (Melbourne, Australia: Ferret Books, 1972); and Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood, Holy Grail (New York: Harper and Row, 1983) 357.

    Ancre2. See Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, (Woking, England: Woking Muslim Mission & Literary Trust, 1952) 196-199. See also several relevant articles in Truth about the Crucifixion (London: The London Mosque, 1978).

    Ancre3. See, for example, David Friedrich Strauss, A New Life of Jesus, vol. 1, 2nd Ed. (London: Williams and Norgate, 1879) 410-411.

    Ancre4. See William Lane Craig, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus during the Deist Controversy (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985) 392-393.

    Ancre5. James W. Deardorff, Jesus in India (Bethesda, MD, International Scholars Publications (University Press of America), 1994) 138-139.

    Ancre6. Ibid.,140-141.

    Ancre7. Craig, Historical Argument, 400. See also Karl Barth, The Theology of Schleiermacher, ed. D. Ritschl, transl. G. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982) 101-102.

    Ancre8. E. B. Docker, If Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross: A Study of the Evidence (London: Robert Scott, 1920), 20-21, 32-33, 49.

    Ancre9. R. Graves and J. Podro, Jesus in Rome (London: Cassell & Co., 1957) 12-13. Much of the book is devoted to the possibility that Jesus traveled to Rome after the crucifixion, which I find to be based on only one very shaky bit of evidence.

    Ancre 10. Talmud Jmmanuel, ed. Eduard A. Meier (Schmidrüti, Switzerland: 1978). See also the present web site: http://www.tjresearch.info.

    Ancre 11. Samadhi is a trance-state of meditation whose deepest form is the same as being "out-of-body." According to Janet Lee Mitchell, Out of Body Experiences: A Handbook (New York: Ballantine Books, 1981) either exhaustion, a life-threatening situation or the purposeful intent of an experienced practitioner can induce it. In this state, no pain inflicted upon the body is felt, not even from a spear thrust, and it is not surprising that both the soldiers involved in the crucifixion and the bystanders would have mistakenly thought Jmmanuel was dead. Even one of the Gospels indicates that this sort of thing can happen (Mk 9:26): the onlookers of Jesus' healing of the paroxysmic boy thought he was dead after he had become "like a corpse," until Jesus took his hand.
         Samadhi is known within Hinduism and Buddhism, and Jesus would likely have learned how to access this state if the "lost years" of his youth had been spent in India. See Deardorff, Jesus in India, 101-134; and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus (Livingston, MT: Summit University Press, 1984). The TJ briefly indicates that Jmmanuel (Jesus) had indeed been to India during his youth, had learned much from the Masters there, and had acquired Hindu friends during or after his return.

    Ancre 12. J.D.M. Derrett, The Anastasis: The Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Event (Shipston-on-Stour, England: P. Drinkwater, 1982).

    Ancre 13. Deardorff, Jesus in India, 148.

    Ancre 14. Barbara Thiering, Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 116.

    Ancre 15. Strauss, New Life of Jesus, vol. 1, 412.

    Ancre 16. W. D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, "On the physical death of Jesus," J. American Medical Assn. 255 (1986) 1455-1463.

    Ancre 17. Per Beskow, Strange Tales about Jesus: A survey of Unfamiliar Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).

    Ancre 18. Deardorff, Jesus in India, 112-134.

    Ancre 19. Beskow, Strange Tales, 8.

    Ancre 20. Holger Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, transl. T. Woods-Czisch (Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset, England: Element Book, 1986) 177-178.

    Ancre 21. The Talmud of Jmmanuel, Eduard Meier, ed. (Mill Spring, NC: Wild Flower Press, 2001) 237.

    Ancre 22. This links to http://www.tjresearch.info/paulconv.htm.

    Ancre 23. Mir Khawand bin Badshah, Rauza-tus-Safa (The Gardens of Purity) (Bombay: reprinted in 1852) vol. 1 of 7, 132-136. See also the secondary source: K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 358, 404.

    Ancre 24. Jami-ut-Tawarikh, vol. 2 (1836) p. 81.

    Ancre 25. Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 179. This story may lie at the root of the legend of the letter from Jesus to Abgarus, king of Edessa, known to Eusebius in EH 1.13.

    Ancre 26. Abu Jaffar Muhammad bin Jarir at-Tabri, Tafsir Ibn-i-Jarir at-Tabri (Jami al Bayan fi Tafsir-ul-Qur'an) (Cairo: Kubr-ul-Mar'a Press, 1880) vol. 3, p. 197. See also K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 359, 392.

    Ancre 27. K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 359-360. See also Peter James, "Did Christ die in Kashmir?" Islamic Rev. 3 (Oct./Nov., 1983) 17.

    Ancre 28. Agha Mustafai, Ahwali Ahalian-i-Paras (Tehran:1868) 219. See K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 360, 404.

    Ancre 29. See Deardorff, Jesus in India, 22-35. There the evidence is presented indicating that Jesus had actually taught reincarnation, not resurrection.

    Ancre 30. Omar Michael Burke, Among the Dervishes (London: Octagon Press, 1976), 107.

    Ancre 31. Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 186.

    Ancre 32. Mulla Nadiri, Tarikh-i-Kashmir (1413 manuscript in possession of Ghulam Mohy-ud-Din Wanchu, Srinagar) 69. See K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 369-370, 400. "Children of Israel" here refers to the Bani-Israel, those numerous residents of Kashmir, northern India and Afghanistan whose characteristics and culture appear to have derived from Semitic ancestry. Several researchers conclude that they represent parts of the ten lost tribes of ancient Israel; e.g., see George Moore, The Lost Tribes (London: Longman Green, 1861).

    Ancre 33. Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 200; Fida Hassnain, A Search for the Historical Jesus (Bath, England: Gateway Books, 1994) 201-203.

    Ancre 34. Abu Muhammad Haji Mohyud-Din, Tarikh-i-Kabir-i-Kashmir (Amritsar, India: Suraj Parkash Press, 1903) 34-35. See also K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 373-374, 399.

    Ancre 35. Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 208-209; Hassnain, Search for the Historical Jesus 173-181.

    Ancre 36. Vincent A. Smith, Akbar the Great Mogul, 1542-1605 (Delhi: S. Chand, 1966) 200.

    Ancre 37. This is consistent with the TJ's story, where the courier of the documents or scrolls is reported to have been one of Jesus' sons. It is also consistent with the legend that Jesus finally married an Indian or Kashmiri woman who bore him several children as mentioned by James, "Did Christ Die in Kashmir?" 17, and Hassnain, Search for the Historical Jesus, 198.

    Ancre 38. See Deardorff, The Problems of New Testament Gospel Origins (New York: Mellen Press, 1992) 9-22.

    Ancre 39. Eusebius, EH 5.10.2-4.

    Ancre 40. The Talmud of Jmmanuel, or TJ, is evidently a candidate to have been these Logia.

    Ancre 41. Shaikh A-Said-us-Sadiq, Kamal-ud-Din (Iran:Syed-us-Sanad Press, 1782) 357-358. See K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 365-366.

    Ancre 42. Pandit Sutta, Bhavishya Maha Puranan, 3.3.17-31 (Bombay: Venkateshvaria Press, 1917) 282. See also Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 195-196; and K. N. Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth, 369.

    Ancre 43. Jawarhar Lal Nehru, Glimpses of World History (New York: John Day Co., 1942), 84.

    Ancre 44. Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 204.

    Ancre 45. John Blofield, Compassion Yoga (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1977) 22; Sir Monier Monier-Williams, Buddhism (London: John Murray, 1890) 195-196.

    Ancre 46. John Clifford Holt, Buddha in the Crown (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) 53, 55.

    Ancre 47. Donald S. Lopez and Steven C. Rockefeller, eds., The Christ and the Bodhisattva (New York: State University of New York Press, 1987) 28-29.

    Ancre 48. Deardorff, Jesus in India, 260. Although modern scholars suppose that the Romans would have known to drive the crucifixion nails through the lower wrists rather than through the hands, to better support the body on the cross, we have no reason to believe that victims in that area had previously been crucified other than by having their hands and wrists (and feet) strapped rather than nailed. Hence, if using nails for the first time there, the Romans soldiers may very well have targeted Jesus' hands, not wrists, not knowing any better. In any event, the executioners were not in the business of being humane.

    Ancre 49. Holt, Buddha in the Crown, 35. See also Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 204.

    Ancre 50. Edward J. Thomas, The History of Buddhist Thought, 2nd Ed. (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1951) 190-191.

    Ancre 51. Kersten, Jesus Lived in India, 203-204.

    Ancre 52. Abhedananda, Swami Abhedananda's Journey into Kashmir and Tibet (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1987; also available from Vedanta Press, Hollywood, CA), 121.

    Ancre 53. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, G. W. Bowersock, ed., C. P. Jones, transl. (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1970).

    Ancre 54. Ibid., 197. In the passage in question, it appears certain to Damis, Apollonius' closest follower, that his master would soon be executed by Nero. But Apollonius instructs Damis to "'Walk by the sea where the isle of Calypso is, because I will appear before your eyes there.' 'Alive,' asked Damis, 'or how?' Apollonius laughed and said, 'To my way of thinking, alive, but to yours, risen from the dead.'"

    Ancre 55. Eusebius, "Against Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus," in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the Epistles of Apollonius and the Treatise of Eusebius, F. C. Conybeare, ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1912) vol. 2, 485-605.

    Ancre 56. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, 13. This earlier, late 2nd-century author was Moeragnes, who had written four books about Apollonius, none of which survived.

    Ancre 57. Ibid., 44.

    Ancre 58. Ibid., 51.

    Ancre 59. Ibid., 57-67.

    Ancre 60. See Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, 541-542.

    Ancre 61. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, 10-12.

    Ancre 62. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book. 2, chap. 22, paragraph 5, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, 392.

      Go Back to: Go Back to: http://www.tjresearch.info/legends.htm#II




    James W. Deardorff
    Oregon State University
    September, 1994
    Updated September, 2003


    The "lost years" evidence due to Notovitch in 1894 of Jesus being in India during his youth, along with its debunkings, are reexamined and the latter are found not to have been scholarly in any sense. Later evidence fully confirming Notovitch's find is presented. The implications that Jesus taught reincarnation and karma, not resurrection, are summarized and found entirely plausible. The ramifications this has for ecumenism with respect to the Eastern religions cannot be overstated, though for Christianity they remain unacceptable.

    I. The Primary "Lost" Years Evidence
    II. The Later Evidence
    III. The Reincarnation Question
    IV. Did the Source of the Gospels Contain Teachings on Reincarnation?
    IV.(a) Gospel Evidence that Jesus Taught Reincarnation
    IV.(b) Matthean Clues Suggestive of Karma
    V. Implications for Judeo-Christianity


    It was in 1894 that news first reached the Western world of Buddhist manuscripts existing in Tibet indicating that the "lost years" of Jesus' youth had been spent in India. The alleged discoverer was Nicholas Notovitch, Russian journalist and war correspondent, who journeyed through Kashmir and Ladakh (Little Tibet) and then wrote a book about his findings, including a translation into French of the verses in Tibetan about Isa (or Issa) existing in the library of Himis monastery near Leh.1 The find was swiftly discredited by the noted Orientalist Max Müller and by one other, though whether or not their responses were credible and fair form part of the subject of the present study.2 We shall come to find that Müller's only relevant objections were satisfactorily answered by Notovitch in an extended preface to the English translation of his book in 1895,3 and that his answers were ignored by later expositors who continued to debunk him.

    Upon examining the responses to Notovitch's presentation, one unfortunately finds that theological commitment played a dominant role in causing the conclusion they reached to be the only one that the Christian faith could allow -- that Notovitch was either duped by a Buddhist lama or was a deceiver and charlatan.4 Until that time, however, Notovitch had enjoyed a favorable reputation, and his decision to proceed and publish his findings, which was not made hastily, seems to have been based upon positive ecumenical feelings. Since theological commitment ought not to be allowed to play a negative role within either scholasticism or ecumenical efforts, a reexamination of this matter is long overdue, along with some discussion of the ecumenical implications for both Christianity and New Testament scholarship.

    The present paper is motivated also by the fact that, unknown to Western scholasticism, a complete and independent verification of Notovitch's findings occurred some thirty years after Notovitch's Asian trek. Indirect verifications have occurred more recently.

    I. The Primary "Lost" Years Evidence

    The "lost" years refer to the years of Jesus' youth from an age of about 12 until his Palestinian ministry commenced. That these years were spent in India is a rather well known story, as it was debunked, following Müller, by Goodspeed in 1931 and again by Beskow in 1983.5 To review the matter briefly, an unusual circumstance on his travels in 1887 allowed Notovitch the opportunity to gain the attention and confidence of the head lama within the Buddhist monastery at Himis. He had earlier on his Asian travels heard that some verses about Isa existed within that monastery, but he was unable to persuade the lama to show them to him and his translator. Soon after departing, however, his horse stumbled, pitching him to the ground and fracturing his leg. He requested his travel party to take him back to the monastery for aid, and there during a stay of several days and with his leg in a splint he gained the confidence of the chief lama who read the Isa verses, in Tibetan, to him and his translator, who apparently wrote them down in French.6 He was told that their earlier source had been written in Pali.

    The verses describe the young Jesus as having traveled to India in order to spend many years studying under the yogic masters there, and they depict in general terms some experiences he had along the way, as well as a Buddhist or Hindu view of the crucifixion after he had returned to the Holy Land. Merchants from Israel, apparently of Indian or Tibetan origin, later returned to India to bring news of the crucifixion to one or more there who had known Jesus during the "lost years."7 After acquiring this evidence, Notovitch painfully made his way back, in a litter carried by his travel party, via Kashmir to Bombay where he could receive treatment for his broken leg.

    An impartial assessment of Müller's paper reveals that, aside from a distressing number of points of witty sarcasm and irrelevancy, his treatment contained three potentially valid points. One was just how news of Jesus' crucifixion could have been brought, by Jewish merchants from Israel, to the attention of one or more Brahmans and Buddhists Jesus had known during the "lost" years of his youth, considering how great is the area of India. Notovitch responded to this problem in the extensive preface to his 1895 book by pointing out that the merchants in question had been indigenous to India or Tibet, and not Jewish.8 There are then any number of possible answers to Müller's question, such as the young Jesus having befriended one or more Indians who were traveling with him on the Silk Road from India back to Palestine, and a few years later one or more of them either having informed returning Indian merchants of Jesus' crucifixion and who in India should know about it, or having returned themselves to do so. Müller had assumed without justification that "merchants from Israel" meant Jewish merchants.

    Müller's second potentially relevant point was that these writings about Jesus should in his opinion have been listed within a Tibetan or Buddhist catalog known to Western scholars, or within one of their sacred sets of books: the Kandjur or the Tandjur.9 However, Notovitch had learned from the head lama at Himis that there was over an order of magnitude more manuscripts or books just within a monastery at Lhasa than Müller had acknowledged were listed in all the aforementioned sources, so the odds were very slim that the volume or two in question at the Himis monastery would have been listed. Besides, if they had been so listed, the existence of the "lost years" verses would not then have come as any surprise to religious scholars in the West.10 In addition, there is the practical certainty that such verses had long been recognized by knowledgeable lamas as sensitive material not to be divulged to unsympathetic or intolerant Westerners, lest it cause future problems for the monastery in question.

    Müller's third potentially relevant point was that he had heard that some missionaries in Tibet had claimed that no one by the name of Notovitch had ever visited the monastery.11 The evidence he presented on this consisted of a letter from an English traveler through Leh expressing this belief while at the same time severely denouncing the lamas. However, another critic to be discussed soon, a Professor J. Archibald Douglas, had to acknowledge evidence that Notovitch had indeed been to Leh at least,12 and in responding to Müller, Notovitch mentioned names of those who could attest to his having traveled there.13 And Notovitch's description of both the exterior and interior of the Himis monastery, like those of his travel experiences themselves, are sufficiently detailed without appearing in any way contrived as to dispel doubts that he had been to the monastery.14 Thus, none of Müller's three main points seem to have been relevant.

    In 1896 this Professor Douglas of Government College in Agra, India, wrote of his own trip to Leh and Himis the previous year for the express purpose of checking up on Notovitch's finds. Unfortunately we know absolutely nothing about Professor Douglas, such as his field of interest or how long he was affiliated with Government College in Agra, other than what his article in the Nineteenth Century journal tells us. He apparently did not write any books, and in his paper he did not mention any colleague or other person to whom he discussed his plans for traveling to Himis or with whom he discussed his findings, except for Müller, to whom he quickly communicated his charges against Notovitch's alleged findings. He reported that the same head lama of Himis personally attested to him, through a Ladakhi translater, Shahmwell Joldan, of knowing nothing of any visit there by Notovitch or by any Russian with a broken leg.15 There is an interesing resolution to this contradictory testimony that Müller himself mentioned, though with a different application in mind.

    Müller noted that there indeed had been travelers to the East "to whom Brahmans or Buddhists have supplied, for a consideration, the information and even the manuscripts which they were in search of." He felt that Notovitch might have been such a victim of a Buddhist monk who supplied him with an invented story.16 However, it appears more likely that Douglas instead was the unknowing victim of a monk's discretion or subterfuge. After having learned of some potentially dangerous reactions that Notovitch's 1894 book could cause, the head lama of Hemis could either tell the truth and stir up a hornet's nest of trouble for him and his monastery's library, or he could deny to Douglas and his converted-to-Christianity translator, Joldan, any knowledge of Notovitch's visit there. The latter was a much more expedient course of action than for the lama to invent on the spot a collection of 244 verses about Isa to read to Notovitch and his translator. Moreover, the translator Douglas used, Joldan, having been the postmaster of Leh under the British Imperial Post Office, was in a position to cause continuing problems for the Buddhist library at Hemis from the information that Notovitch had exposed, as he (Joldan) had close ties to the Christian Moravian missionaries in Leh.16.1 It must have been psychologically intimidating for the head lama to be quizzed by a professor intent upon attacking a text that was upsetting to Christianity through a Ladakhi translator who had abandoned the Buddhist traditions. Click here to learn more on this from the research of A. J. Trebst. At the same time, any impartial reading of Notovitch's book discloses no good motivation why he, of Russian Orthodox belief, would have invented the verses about Isa, though he was obviously excited at the prospect of being the one to fill in this gap within the Gospels and bring the "Lost Years" information to the attention of the West.17

    One of Douglas's questions to the chief lama that suggests it was Douglas, not Notovitch, who had been misled was: "Is the name of Issa held in great respect by the Buddhists?" The lama's reply is said to have been, "They know nothing even of his name; none of the Lamas has ever heard of it, save through missionaries and European sources."18 This stands in strong contrast to what Jawarhar Nehru wrote his daughter, Indira, in a 1932 letter: "All over Central Asia, in Kashmir and Ladakh and Tibet and even farther north, there is still a strong belief that Jesus or Isa travelled about there."19 It stands to reason that the lamas were even more aware of this tradition than was the general population.

    It may be mentioned that the present traditions of Jesus having lived in India during his youth indeed date far back in time. They were known to the tenth-century Muslim historian, Shaikh Al-Said,20 who wrote down some of the Hindu/Buddhist legends of Isa's travels in India.

    The traditions are known also in northwestern Afghanistan, centered at Herat, by some thousand devotees of Isa, son of Maryam, who live within several scattered villages. This has been brought out by O. M. Burke, who personally interviewed their spiritual leader, Abba Yahiyya (Father John), while researching Sufism in this area of the globe.21 However, these traditions are not particularly well known outside of their local areas, and there is no indication that Notovitch knew of them before coming upon word of the existence of a manuscript or two at Himis to the effect that Jesus had been there in his travels during his youth.

    Sadly, both Goodspeed and Beskow repeated and amplified the ill-founded accusations against Notovitch that Müller and Douglas had made, frequently assuming or implying that he was guilty of fraud, without ever mentioning Notovitch's telling responses to Müller's major questions, and without mentioning the role that Christian theological commitment and Buddhist wisdom likely played in generating Müller's third point and the charges in Douglas's paper.22

    One of Goodspeed's points that may be valid in part, however, is that these Isa verses "read more like a journalistic effort to describe what might have happened if Jesus had visited India and Persia in his youth," and that they would not withstand the test of literary and textual criticism.23 This possibility is understandable, in that only after Christianity and the Gospels had made Jesus a celebrated figure in the West would Isa's earlier activities in India likely have been set into writing. By then -- mid-second century at the earliest24 -- the Buddhist or Hindu priest(s) involved would have had to rely on oral tradition nearly a century old, if not older, plus the Gospels as a supplementary aid. Yet, the Isa verses might fare no worse under present-day textual criticism than have the Gospels.25 We should note that neither Hinduism nor Buddhism would seem to have had any substantial motivation for inventing the historical context of these verses.

    One cannot say with any certainty when the bulk of the Isa verses, assuming they are historical, was first set into writing. However, the text strangely treats Jesus' arrest as being the full responsibility of the Romans, in contrast to the Gospels' emphasis of chief priests and Pharisees in this role,26 and this may be a clue. It suggests that this portion of the verses, at least, was formed before any of the Gospels became available, since the Indian merchants who would have returned from Jerusalem to India with the news about Isa's crucifixion in the years immediately following the event would likely have known only of the Romans' role in bringing about this end result; they would not have had the inside information of a disciple close to Jesus.27

    In Beskow's discussion he analyzes the implied claim of a later Russian -- the painter, Nicholas Roerich -- of having acquired the Isa verses afresh during his Asian travels in 1924- 25, and finds this claim to be insupportable.28 Here my own analysis agrees, as Roerich indeed seems to have exhibited a strong tendency towards plagiarism, as noted by Beskow. Although a statement by Roerich of having come across word that the Isa verses existed within Himis monastery may have been truthful,29 the implication that he received a translation of those verses, which he later presented in his book Himalaya, does not seem to be. It reads too much like a plagiarism of Notovitch's verses, and missing is any description of the efforts that would have been necessary to gain access to the Isa verses.

    Here it has been primarily those points made by Müller, Douglas, Goodspeed and Beskow having the potential for being relevant that have been discussed. Their more numerous irrelevant or slanderous statements, and especially their important omissions, are the prime reasons why their analyses must be labeled as unscholarly.30

    II. The Later Evidence

    The findings of the Hindu monk, Swami Abhedananda, support Notovitch's discovery in practically all respects. This monk was a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna of the Barahanagar Temple, near Calcutta. Having learned of Notovitch's find and read his book, he decided to take his own trip to Himis monastery to check it out, which he did in 1922, accompanied by some others, including an expert translator from Leh. They persuaded a lama to show them a manuscript containing the Isa verses, which he read to Abhedananda and his interpreter, who then translated them into Bengali. The Himis manuscript was in Tibetan; the original was said to have been written in Pali and to exist in the monastery of Marbour near Lhasa, all of which confirms what Notovitch had learned. Abhedananda wrote his book containing their travelogue and a fresh version of the Isa verses in stages, with the help of an assistant and a later editor; in 1987 it was translated into English.31

    The Swami ordered and numbered his set of Isa verses after the manner of Notovitch's set; however, the set he presented contained far fewer verses than the 244 within Notovitch's set, which is consistent with Abhedananda mentioning that his set was derived from just one book at the monastery,32 while Notovitch had mentioned a second book or manuscript being involved also.33 In addition, however, Abhedananda omitted publication of many verses, apparently because they contain material that could be deemed offensive to different branches of Hinduism. Comparison of those verses that are common to the two sets of Isa text indicates little difference in substance but very appreciable differences in sentence structure and detail, as is to be expected from different translators and languages of translation having been involved.

    One particular distinction between the two sets of verses is worth mentioning, in that Beskow had caught an evident error within the following verse from Notovitch's set: Beskow alertly pointed out that Isa verses 5:2-3 speak erroneously of a god Jaine and of worshipers of Jaine. Verse 5:2 reads:

    Fame spread the reputation of this marvelous child throughout the length of northern Sind, and when he crossed the country of the five rivers and the Rajputana, the devotees of the god Jaine prayed him to dwell among them.34

    Beskow noted that "The Jains, or Jainas, do not believe in any god at all."35 Within Abhedananda's set of Isa verses, this same verse about the Jains is rendered in English as follows:

    As he was traveling all along through the land of the five rivers, his [Isa's] benign appearance, face radiating peace and comely forehead attracted Jain devotees who knew him to be one who had received blessings from God Himself.36

    This translation does not contain the error of a "god Jaine," though it is independent of Beskow's observation.37 However, it is written from the viewpoint of a Hindu priest who does believe in God or a Godhead. It thus supports the likelihood that in Notovitch's version of the Isa verses the primary error had been due either to Notovitch or his translator.

    I have found no reason to suspect that Abhedananda's set of Isa verses was not freshly acquired from the Himis monastery source. His confirmation of Notovitch's find is not discussed by Beskow, who was probably not aware of it.

    According to Abhedananda, in India Jesus likely obtained the name Isa or Issa from "Isha," which means Lord in Sanskrit. "Lord" here relates to their great deity, Shiva, for which another name is "Ish."38

    There have been various instances in which visitors to Himis monastery unexpectedly learned that a set of the Isa verses was located there, and Elizabeth Clare Prophet has made known three of these cases. One such visitor was Elizabeth Caspari, who in 1939 made the journey through that region in the company of a Mrs. Clarence Gasque. They were told by a monk in charge of the Himis library that "These books say your Jesus was here!"39 Madame Caspari later became noted for having established the first Montessori school in the U.S.

    Another visitor was the late Edward F. Noack, a lover of the high country of the Himalayas, who with his wife visited Himis monastery in the late 1970s.40 A monk there told him that "There are manuscripts in our library that describe the journey of Jesus to the East."41

    A third visitor to the area who obtained information on this subject was Robert Ravicz, once professor of anthropology at California State University at Northridge. While at Himis in 1975 he learned of the "lost years" Jesus-in-India tradition from an eminent Ladakhi physician.42

    It appears that word of the existence at Himis of these one or two manuscripts about Isa's "lost years" has very occasionally been leaked to Western visitors to the region, but only when the lama or monk involved felt the visitor was open minded or receptive and not inclined to take any threatening action against the monastery. If so, it is reasonable to expect that any future attempts by investigators to acquire or read the manuscripts in question at Himis or Marbour monastery will fail if the relevant lama suspects that the investigator or his sponsor in any way holds a non-ecumenical or militantly Christian attitude. As explained by V. R. Gandhi, the causes of this suspicious attitude on the part of custodians of the sacred literature of the East trace back several centuries to the Muslim invaders of India once having destroyed thousands of the Indians' sacred documents, and to early Christian missionaries having acquired and belittled some of their documents.43 This distrustful attitude persists today, at least at Himis monastery, according to Tibetologists David L. Snellgrove and Tadeusz Skorupski.44

    There is a report that records exist in the Puri Jagannath Temple archives confirming that Issa had spent some time in India. This comes from Sri Daya Mata of the Self-Realization Fellowship, when in 1959 she interviewed Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha in India; he was the Shankaracharya of Puri.44.1 In the article she says, "In 1959 I discussed this [Jesus being in India during the 'unknown years'] with one of India's great spiritual leaders, His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha, the Shankaracharya of Puri. I told him that Guruji had often said to us that Christ spent some of his life in India, in association with her illumined sages. His Holiness replied, 'That is true. I have studied ancient records in the Puri Jagannath Temple archives confirming these facts. He was known as "Isha," and during part of his time in India he stayed in the Jagannath Temple. When he returned to his part of the world, he expounded the teachings that are known today as Christianity.'" In the above, "Guruji" refers to the yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, and Puri is a coastal city in southeast India, where the Jagannath Temple is located. The Lost Years verses mention that Issa had spent time at this location. Yogananda has authored a couple of books, and in his The Divine Romance (1986) one may read (p. 257) that he was indeed well aware of the Lost Years evidence. The writings that Bharati Krishna Tirtha studied could well be independent of those discovered at Hemis monastery by Notovitch and Abhedananda. However, we find that the final sentence in the above quote, to be correct, should read "When he returned to his part of the world, he expounded the teachings that were converted into the Christianity we know today."

    In summary, the evidence that Jesus spent many years of his youth in India rests upon strong evidence additional to Notovitch's findings, so that with hindsight, one can see that his original findings should not have been dismissed. With respect to the present study, the main implication from this is that Jesus had likely learned of reincarnation and karma, basic concepts of both Hinduism and Buddhism, during his "lost" years. This raises the likelihood that he therefore taught reincarnation and karma, among many other things, during his Palestinian ministry, but that early Pharisaic converts to Christianity, starting with Paul, had no desire to propagate such teachings. This deserves serious exploration. In that case the underpinnings of Christianity share much more with Hinduism and Buddhism, not to mention the cabalistic branch of Judaism, than has been previously postulated within scholarly ecumenical thought.

    AncreIII. The Reincarnation Question

    If there were no evidence that pointed strongly to reincarnation being a reality, there would be little motivation for exploring the hypothesis that Jesus taught reincarnation rather than resurrection. However, the voluminous evidence collected in the past 30 years by investigators of childhood cases of the reincarnation type,45 by past-life hypno-therapists whose patients are adults,46 and by investigators of adults having spontaneous recall of past-life scenes,47 is all better explained or categorized by the reincarnation hypothesis than by any other. It has been a difficult topic for Western investigators to explore, due to the cultural taboo against reincarnation, which logically traces back not just to the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 C.E. when reincarnation was declared anathema by the church, but to the origins of Christian orthodoxy itself. Nevertheless, the data supporting reincarnation have been accumulating at such an increasing rate as to attract a considerable number of Western Ph.D. psychiatrists and M.D.s into exploring the phenomenon, utilizing past-life hypno-therapy as a powerful healing tool, and informing others through their books.

    The one authority in the field of religion who has looked into a part of this evidence and minimized its importance in the eyes of New Testament scholarship is John Hick. He examined a part of Ian Stevenson's evidence on childhood cases of the reincarnation type, and concluded that reincarnation "is beset by conceptual difficulties of the gravest kind."48 However, that conclusion was based almost entirely upon the observation that it is only a small fraction of children who for a time remember incidents from their past lives, and seems predicated on the notion that perhaps only they have past lives while the rest of humanity does not. Missing was the thought that some psychic mechanism ordinarily prevents us from remembering our past lives at this stage of our evolution, with the mechanism being capable of circumvention through hypno-regression or occasionally breaking down temporarily.49 Missing also was any analysis by Hick of the two other categories of past-life recall. Since the time of Hick's critical writings, other investigators have confirmed Stevenson's findings.50

    IV. Did the Source of the Gospels Contain Teachings on Reincarnation?

    Some who have examined the apparent reality of reincarnation have looked into the Gospels for clues that Jesus actually taught the subject, and have found them.51 As to how such clues (to be discussed briefly) originated, it is usually postulated that following the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 C.E. the Gospels were edited so as to remove all obvious traces of teachings and implications of reincarnation. However, there is sufficient evidence from early church fathers to indicate that some of the verses to be discussed, and which exist in about the same form today, greatly predate this council.52 Hence a much more likely possibility is that the New Testament gospels themselves derive mainly from one source, and this source is what had contained Jesus' teachings on reincarnation and karma that were edited out upon first formation of the Gospels in the early second century.

    Ancre This source could easily have been the well known Logia referred to by the second-century Bishop Papias in his brief statement about how the Gospel of Matthew came about, as relayed by Eusebius: "Matthew compiled the Logia in the Hebrew dialect, and each interpreted them as best he could."53 This is all that is known about the formulation of Matthew; it is so terse that it may have meant that the writer of Matthew formed his gospel from these Logia, written in Aramaic.54 Because so little is recorded about the formation of the Gospels, because these Logia did not survive, and because Papias is known to have written five treatises about the Logia that also did not survive, we must treat seriously the likelihood that this source of Matthew had been very extensive and had contained heresies that needed excising before a sanctionable gospel could be compiled. Teachings on reincarnation and karma would have fallen into this category.

    This view implies Matthean priority, to which only a minority of New Testament scholars ascribe today. However, it can be shown that the primary impetus behind the adoption of the view of Marcan priority in the past century and a half was one of theological commitment -- to minimize embarrassments for the church.55 The embarrassing implications of Papias's statement,56 which is now essentially ignored by New Testament scholarship, are only a small part of this unknowing commitment causing Mark to be favored.

    Much more could be said about Papias's Logia for which space can scarcely be spared here. The late date of appearance of these Logia in Palestine would have allowed them to be considered very heretical compared to Paul's teachings and writings many decades earlier, and these Logia may then have been the cause of the late (second-century) flowering of the Gnostic movement. Suffice it to say here that an impartial assessment of Papias's statement leads to the conclusion that the Logia may well have contained heresies, and by the present reasoning some of these heresies pertained to the topic of reincarnation. We shall be referring back to these Logia elsewhere in this study as well as placing a renewed emphasis upon the Gospel of Matthew.

    AncreGospel Evidence that Jesus Taught Reincarnation

    It is important to examine some particular examples of these Gospel clues, since they are largely unknown within modern scholasticism. Perhaps the primary verse to this effect is Mt 11:14, "...and if you are willing to accept it, he [John the Baptist] is Elijah who is to come." The only alternative here to the implication that Jesus was talking of Elijah having been a past life of John, who would be reborn again some time in the future, comes from 2 Kgs 2:11 in which Elijah is "taken up by a whirlwind into heaven" and is seen no more. If it is assumed that this means Elijah never died but was "translated" alive into heaven, the further assumptions are then needed that he later "translated" into the body of John the Baptist and would "translate" into some other body in the future. However, this concept of translation, involving a fully human body that never ages or dies, seems unintelligible in comparison with the reincarnation hypothesis, especially since John is described in Luke's first chapter as having been raised from a baby and never having suddenly changed into Elijah's very own "translated" body.

    The reincarnation hypothesis here is consistent with Jesus' wording, "if you are willing to accept it." Probably only a minority of his listeners in Israel believed in reincarnation, with many, especially Pharisees and Sadducees, being opposed to the concept. Thus, Jesus at that point was speaking just to those who could accept the possibility. It is likely that the Logia had more to say here about Elijah's (John's) future reincarnation that was omitted when Matthew was formed. That Matthew's compiler left this strong a clue behind here is probably attributable to his fondness for Elijah, along with other Old Testament personages, causing him to include as much of this Logia verse as seemed feasible. Also, this compiler evidently believed in "translation," and supported this belief with his Transfiguration story. Thus he probably would not have felt that he was leaving behind a clue here that his source text had discussed reincarnation.

    Another strong clue is found in Mt 16:13-15, "Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, `Who do men say that the Son of man is?' And they said, `Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, `But who do you say that I am?'"57 Although it is quite possible that in asking the question Jesus was wondering if the people thought of him as a Messiah of some sort, their response (especially "Jeremiah or one of the prophets") indicates they had a past life in mind. That this did not cause any stir or consternation is consistent with Jesus having wondered what important past life they believed him to have had.

    Another clue is Mt 24:4 where we read: "For many will come in my name, saying `I am the Christ!' and they will lead many astray."58 This makes most sense if Jesus was referring to persons in the distant future who would claim they are reincarnations of him. It makes less sense to think they would claim to be resurrections of him, which would require their asserting to have first appeared on earth in their own time in the full-grown resurrected body of Jesus, never having passed through childhood. Moreover, at the time the text of the verse was spoken, resurrection or "anastasis" referred only to a general resurrection at the end times, and not to the raising up of a particular individual.

    Further clues consist of the "incarnation" verses: "I have come not to... but to..." Of these, Mt 5:17 and 10:34 seem here most likely to be in a form close to that of their source. If Jesus had early in life gained an understanding of what his life's mission and goals were to be -- and the "lost years" evidence supports that likelihood, he could then speak as "having come" for such-and-such a purpose. Thus the "incarnation verses" easily fit into the context of Jesus having taught that he, as well as all others, were subject to reincarnation. This provides a real alternative to the interpretation that he was incarnated once and for all as part of a Trinity. The foregoing clues are mostly absent from the other gospels, indicative of "improvements" directed towards increased orthodoxy as is usually to be expected within later works, and supporting Matthean priority.

    If the Logia were the source of Matthew, we then infer that other teachings of reincarnation were omitted from Matthew or were highly edited, with "resurrection" substituted for "reincarnation" or "rebirth."

    A verse from John (Jn 9:1-2) regarding the man blind from birth is also commonly cited as indication that Jesus and his disciples assumed reincarnation to be a fact.59 Although this instance may be an indication that the writer of John had been accustomed to interpreting fate in a karmic sense, the testimony of Papias suggests that only the compiler of Matthew was close enough to the Logia to have left bonafide clues behind from the source document. However, the writers of Luke and John may have been those referred to by the portion of Papias's statement reading "and each interpreted them [the Logia] as best he could."

    AncreMatthean Clues Indicative of Karma

    Perhaps the most obvious of these is Mt 26:52, "...for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." It is evident in everyday life that this is often not true, with some murderers getting away with their misdeeds. However, within the context of reincarnation and karma, the verse suggests that those who do not truly repent of their misdeeds in the present life will have to suffer unpleasant learning experiences of like kind from the victim's point of view in one or more future lifetimes.

    Another clue on karma left behind is Mt 7:2, "...For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." This presumably refers to the consequences of having judged falsely or unfairly. Again, we see that the warning is not necessarily a truism within a person's present life, but could well be over a succession of lifetimes. Other examples, which require more discussion, could be presented.60

    It may be added that with this analysis we find, contrary to the Jesus Seminar, for example,61 that the Golden Rule (Mt 7:12) was an authentic saying from Jesus, though not of course original. By following that rule one usually avoids developing negative karma.

    The evidence is thus as strong as can be expected that Jesus taught reincarnation and karma, among many other things, not resurrection, if he were indeed a wisdom teacher, which is assumed here. Such teachings would have tended to attract any Hindus temporarily residing in Palestine to hear him talk and meet him, greatly increasing the likelihood that Jesus had a few Indian friends there who learned from him of his earlier years spent in India.

    It is Paul who was no doubt instrumental in establishing the orthodox view that the empty tomb was due to Jesus having been the first fruits of resurrection. This ex-Pharisee must already have believed in a Pharisee's view of resurrection before his conversion. However, the full implications of the Jesus-in-India evidence are much too manifold to explore here.62

    V. Implications for Judeo-Christianity

    The foregoing evidence and supporting deductions may be unfamiliar to the reader because they have been systematically ignored in the West. However, when they are viewed together as a whole, we see a very consistent picture trying to tell us that Christianity over the centuries has been improperly sent on an unnecessarily deviant path apart from Eastern religions since the time of Paul. This is not to say that some fraction of the strange tales one may read about Jesus are not indeed fictions,63 but rather to say that a holistic perception is needed to separate probable fact from probable fiction. The practice of assuming that any tradition is false if it conflicts with one's own particular theological commitment, without having first carefully examined it with an open mind and in a holistic manner, cannot be condoned no matter how widespread it has been.

    If one's understanding of ecumenism is to nudge adherents of other religions towards Christian orthodoxy, the present treatment could seem to be radical. However, if the goal is instead to seek historical truth, the present approach may be seen to be conservative in the sense of being fundamental and rudimentary. It finds that Christianity itself is in greatest need of change. The picture of Jesus that emerges is not the one that Western scholarship leans towards -- that Jesus was an itinerant teacher and seditionist of Pharisaic disposition64 -- but one much closer to the view held by Hinduism and Buddhism. Obviously, this view would represent a huge step towards bridging some of the present gaps between Christianity and the Eastern religions. Ironically, appreciation of the validity of the Jesus-in-India evidence would have the dubious ecumenical value of promoting Jewish-Christian relations through a common interest in more strenuously denouncing the evidence supporting reincarnation.

    Before looking ahead seriously to the real ecumenical benefits that would ensue if the Jesus-in-India evidence and the non- scholastic treatment it has received were to become widely known, there are important issues to consider. As pointed out by Raimundo Panikhar, "there must be equal preparation from both sides, both theologically and culturally," before beginning an ecumenical dialogue.65 Such preparation of course entails a serious study of the evidence, and this, for many Christians, would likely be considered beyond the bounds of acceptability, or simply unthinkable.

    Secondly, according to Panikhar, "There must be mutual trust, which is possible only when all the cards are on the table." Should we dismiss those "cards" that indicate the reality of the Jesus-in-India evidence simply because our belief system prefers that we not know about them?

    Third, "The different issues -- theological, practical, institutional, etc., have to be carefully distinguished." The present topic encompasses all of these, but they are as overpowering as they are obvious. The immediate theological implications penetrate to the heart of Christianity itself. The practical implications are also overwhelming, involving how to view life and death. The institutional implications would also be dramatic if it were possible for the church to change substantially.

    With Christianity not susceptible to appreciable change, however, the foregoing evidence and reasoning must patiently remain as building blocks for the distant future before it will provide a much firmer basis for building ecumenical bridges between a thoroughly reformed and revitalized "Christianity" and other major religions than any seriously suggested heretofore.


    1. Nicholas Notovitch, La Vie inconnue de Jésus-Christ (Paris: M. Paul Ollendorf, 1894). In India, Jesus is known primarily as Isa or Issa.

    2. F. Max Müller, "The Alleged Sojourn of Christ in India," The Nineteenth Century, (Oct., 1894): pp, 515-522.

    3. Notovitch, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, transl. V. Crispe (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1895), xxiii-xxx.

    4. Despite Müller's valuable life work of translating sacred Hindu writings into English and German, it is evident that he considered a simple form of Christianity to be far superior to any of the world's other great religions. See Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Scholar Extraordinary (London: Chatto & Windus, 1974), 70-72, 325, 335, 374-375.

    5. Edgar J. Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1931), 16-24; Per Beskow, Strange Tales about Jesus: A Survey of Unfamiliar Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), 59-63. Goodspeed was the originator of the first American translation of the New Testament, and a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Beskow was an associate professor of patristic studies at the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Lund, Sweden.

    6. Although Notovitch failed to clearly designate who his translator was, he did mention earlier in his travelog that he had acquired an interpreter who had been highly recommended to him by a Frenchman (M. Peychaud) who was the cultivator for the vineyards of the maharajah in Srinagar. Thus one infers that he translated them into French, which is the same language in which Notovitch wrote his book.

    7. Notovitch, Unknown Life, p. 134.

    8. Notovitch, Unknown Life, p. xxx (in Note to the Publisher).

    9. Müller, "Alleged Sojourn of Christ," pp. 518-519.

    10. Notovitch, Unknown Life, pp. xxvi-xxvii.

    11. Müller, "Alleged Sojourn of Christ," pp. 516, 521.

    12. J. Archibald Douglas, "The Chief Lama of Himis on the Alleged `Unknown Life of Christ'," Nineteenth Century (Apr. 1896): pp. 667-678; 669.

    13. Notovitch, Unknown Life, pp. xxiii-xxiv.

    14. Ibid., pp. 92, 94, 100, 110.

    15. Douglas, "On the Alleged `Unknown Life'," p. 671.

    16. Müller, "Alleged Sojourn of Christ," pp. 516-517.

    Ancre 16.1. Bishop, Isabella Bird, Among the Tibetans (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1894), pp. 101-102.

    17. Notovitch, Unknown Life, pp. l-li.

    18. Douglas, "On the Alleged `Unknown Life'," p. 672.

    19. Jawarhar Lal Nehru, Glimpses of World History (New York: John Day Co., 1942) 84.

    20. His full name was Al-Shaikh Al-Said-us-Sadiq Abi Jaffar Muhammad Ibn-i-Ali Ibn-i-Hussain Ibn-i-Musa Ibn-i-Baibuyah al-Qummi, according to Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, Jesus in Heaven on Earth (Woking, England: Woking Muslim Mission & Literary Trust, 1952) 365.

    21. Omar Michael Burke, Among the Dervishes (London: Octagon Press, 1976) 107.

    22. That Douglas was highly committed theologically is evident from his vehement opposition to an Isa verse that practically denies the resurrection: Douglas, "On the Alleged `Unknown Life'," p. 670.

    23. Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels, pp. 16, 24.

    24. Arthur J. Bellinzoni, "The Gospel of Matthew in the Second Century," Second Century 9 (1992): 197-258, see p. 235 specifically.

    25. The Jesus Seminar, "Voting Records," Forum 6 (1990): 9-47. There some 86% of the verses comprised of the sayings and teachings of Jesus within Matthew, for example, are found to be probably non-genuine.

    26. We may note that since World War II a substantial fraction of New Testament scholars have adopted this very view: assuming that all Gospel verses denigrating scribes, Pharisees and chief priests are redactions or reflect biased opinions of the Gospel writers.

    27. This is not to imply that the Gospels were written during the lifetimes of the disciples. The author subscribes to the view that the main source for the Gospels was written by a disciple but was not made available to a church scribe until early second century. See James W. Deardorff, The Problems of New Testament Gospel Origins: A Glasnost Approach (Lewiston, NY: Mellen Press (Mellen Research University Press), 1992) 11-22, 63-73.

    28. Beskow, Strange Tales, pp. 62-63; Nicholas Roerich, "Banners of the East," in Himalaya (New York: Brentano's, 1926) 148-153.

    29. Roerich, "Banners of the East," p. 172.

    30. For full details on this, see James W. Deardorff, Jesus in India: A Reexamination of Jesus' Asian Traditions in the Light of Evidence Supporting Reincarnation (Bethesda, MD: International Scholars Publications, 1994) 103-134.

    31. Swami Abhedananda, Kashmir O Tibbate (In Kashmir and Tibet), 2nd Ed., ed. Swami Prajnanananda (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1953); idem, Swami Abhedananda's Journey into Kashmir and Tibet, Transls. Ansupati Dasgupta and Kunja Bihari Kundu (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1987; available from Vedanta Press, 1946 Vedanta Pl., Hollywood, CA 90068; Tel.: 213-465-7114).

    32. Abhedananda's Journey, p. 119. Abhedananda or his editor arranged and numbered their presented text so that it would conform with Notovitch's ordering. With only a few exceptions, verses may be directly compared.

    33. Notovitch, Unknown Life, pp. 128, 205.

    34. Ibid., p. 145.

    35. Beskow, Strange Tales, p. 59.

    36. Abhedananda's Journey, p. 120.

    37. Although Beskow's 1985 book predates the English translation of Abhedananda's Kashmir O Tibbate, an earlier English translation of relevant portions of it had been made and published within the 1984 book of Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus (Livingston, Montana: Summit University Press, 1984). This latter translation also does not make the error about the Jaines. Prophet was unaware of Beskow's 1979 (Swedish) version of Strange Tales about Jesus.

    38. Abhedananda's Journey, p. 122.

    39. Prophet, Lost Years, p. 317.

    40. He is author of Amidst Ice and Nomads in High Asia (Burbank, California: National Literary Guild, 1984).

    41. Prophet, Lost Years, p. 345 (see photo caption).

    42. Ibid.

    43. Virchand R. Gandhi, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Indo-American Book Co., 1907) 48.

    44. David L. Snellgrove and Tadeusz Skorupski, The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh (Columbia, Missouri: Prajana Press, South Asia Books, 1977) 127.

    Ancre 44.1. Sri Daya Mata, "Remembering Paramahansa Yogananda," in Self-Realization Magazine, Winter, 1992, p.16.

    45. Lafcadio Hearn, Gleanings in Buddha-Fields (Boston: Houghton & Mifflin, 1897), Chap. 10; Ian Stevenson, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, 2nd Ed. (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 1974); Ian Stevenson, Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vols. 1-4 (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 1975-1983); Ian Stevenson, Children Who Remember Previous Lives (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 1987); Satwant Pasricha, Claims of Reincarnation: An Empirical Study of Cases in India (New Delhi: Harmon Publishing House, 1990).

    46. T. Dethlefson, Voices from Other Lives: Reincarnation as a Source of Healing (New York: M. Evans, 1976); Edith Fiore, You Have Been Here Before (New York: Ballantine Books, 1978); Helen Wambach, Reliving Past Lives: The Evidence under Hypnosis (New York: Bantam Books, 1979); Joel L. Whitton and Joe Fisher, Life Between Life (New York: Warner Books, 1986); Karl Schlotterbeck, Living Your Past Lives: The Psychology of Past-Life Regression (New York: Ballantine Books, 1987); Bruce Goldberg, Past Lives, Future Lives (New York: Ballantine Books, 1988); Brian Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988); Roger Woolger, Other Lives, Other Selves (New York: Bantam Books, 1988); John Van Auken, Born Again & Again (Virginia Beach: Inner Vision, 1989); Raymond A. Moody, Coming Back: A Psychiatrist Explores Past-Life Journeys (New York: Bantam Books, 1991); Brian Weiss, Through Time into Healing (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).

    47. Frederick Lenz, Lifetimes: True Accounts of Reincarnation (New York: Ballantine Books, 1979); H. N. Banerjee, Americans Who Have Been Reincarnated (New York: Macmillan, 1980), pp. 45-50, 149-153, 169-176.

    48. John Hick, Death and Eternal Life (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1976) 304-308.

    49. Stevenson has found that young children who remember their most recent past lives are much more prone to have suffered a violent death in that past life than is to be expected demographically.

    50. Ian Stevenson and Godwin Samararatne, "Three New Cases of the Reincarnation Type in Sri Lanka with Written Records Made before Verifications," J. Scientific Exploration 2 (1988): pp. 217-238; Erlunder Haraldsson, "Children Claiming Past-life Memories: Four Cases in Sri Lanka," J. Scientific Exploration 5 (1991): pp. 233-261; Antonia Mills, "A Replication Study: Three Cases of Children in Northern India Who Are Said to Remember a Previous Life," J. Scientific Exploration 3 (1989): pp. 133-184; Antonia Mills, "Moslem Cases of the reincarnation Type in Northern India: A Test of the Hypothesis of Imposed Identification. Part I: Analysis of 26 Cases," J. Scientific Exploration 4 (1990): pp. 171-188; Jürgen Keil, "New Cases in Burma, Thailand, and Turkey: A Limited Field Study Replication of Some Aspects of Ian Stevenson's Research," J. Scientific Exploration 5 (1991): pp. 27-59.

    51. Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, Reincarnation in World Thought (New York: Julian Press, 1967), pp. 96-100; Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams, Reincarnation (New York: Julian Press, 1984), pp. 207-210; Woolger, Other lives, Other Selves, pp. 71-73.

    52. Tertullian, "A Treatise on the Soul," Chap. 35, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, eds. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), vol. 3, p. 216. Tertullian died around 220 or 240 C.E; his writing on this occurred before he broke with Christian orthodoxy to become a Montanist.

    53. Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.16, transl. K. Lake, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1953), p. 297.

    54. Due to the early- to mid-second century dating of Papias's life and of the first mention of any of the Gospels by name, it is safe to assume that the Gospels came out too late to be written by the men whose names are attached to them. Yet by the time of Irenaeus in the late 2nd-century, and certainly by the time of Eusebius, theological commitment required the assumption that they were written respectively by the disciple Matthew, by John Mark, by Luke the physician, and by the disciple John.

    55. Deardorff, New Testament Gospel Origins, pp. 29-30, 83, 88, 95, 97, 102-103, 124-127, 164.

    56. An embarrassment for 20th-century scholars is that the statement suggests that the Logia were written in Aramaic or Hebrew, which implies that Matthew's gospel was also. The latter in turn implies that Matthew preceded Mark, which was probably the first Gospel to have been written in Greek. The embarrassment of "and each interpreted them as best he could" is that it implies that some other evangelists besides the compiler of Matthew had had some access to the Logia, but had difficulty "interpreting them" or incorporating any more from them into their own gospels than Matthew's compiler already had accomplished, because of the Logia's heresies.

    57. We agree with most scholars in deducing that the compiler of Matthew substituted "Son of man" here, as in many other spots, to replace the personal pronoun, "I." E.g., see Francis Beare, The Gospel according to Matthew (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981) 352. However, according to the TJ document studied thoroughly elsewhere in this website, the past life of Immanuel or Jesus was Elijah, and that of John the Baptist was Elisha. Altering his source document, the TJ, the writer of Matthew had substituted "Elijah" for "Elisha" in Mt 11:14, since Elijah was a favorite personage of his and had been "translated" up to "heaven."

    58. In this verse we infer that "Christ" is a redactive substitution for his actual name, fed in by the compiler.

    59. Cranston and Carey, Reincarnation, pp. 207-208.

    60. Deardorff, Jesus in India, pp. 31-34.

    61. Jesus Seminar, "Voting Records," Forum 6, (March, 1990) 36.

    62. Instead, see Deardorff, Jesus in India.

    Ancre 63. An example is a story that Jesus, along with a brother, was buried in Japan; see The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1, 1993. This conflicts with other, much stronger evidence, however heretical, indicating that his tomb is instead in Srinagar, Kashmir.

    Ancre 64. Philip L. Culbertson, "What is Left to Believe in Jesus after the Scholars Have Done with Him?" J.E.S. 28 (Winter, 1991): p. 2.

    Ancre 65. Raimundo Panikhar, "Inter-religious Dialogue: Some Principles," J.E.S. 12 (Summer, 1975): pp. 407-409.

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