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Lena Einhorn, The Jesus Mystery: Astonishing Clues to the True Identities of Jesus and Paul. Lyons Press (Globe Pequot Press), 2007.

Reviewed by Robert M. Price.


Author, film maker and documentarian Lena Einhorn aims this treatise at the intelligent general reader, much the same audience she addresses in her television projects. For that reason, the specialist will be able to skim a good bit of her book. Quite a lot of it is a running start. No criticism meant. But let’s cut to the chase. The secret if the true identities of Jesus and Paul are that they are identical to one another. Paul as Tyler Durden. I am Jack’s resurrected persona.

Jesus is the Talmudic character Ben Stada, just as most Talmudic authorities surmise. Both are said to have emerged from Egypt carrying magic sigils inscribed in their flesh. Jesus is also said in the Toledoth Jeschu to have hidden a paper note containing the magically potent Tetragammaton beneath a flap of his flesh. Others have theorized that Ben Stada is the Egyptian messiah mentioned by both Josephus (Jewish War 2:13.5; Jewish Antiquities 20:8:6) and Acts. According to Einhorn, both guesses are correct. Paul is rightly taken for him in Acts 21:38, because Paul was Jesus was the Egyptian was Ben Stada. Along the same lines, John the Baptist was in realty the same man as Theudas the Magician. Both as linked to the Jordan, and both were beheaded by the authorities. In the gospels and Acts, the historical events have been retrojected to an earlier decade.

Einhorn opts for the Swoon Theory, noting that it is by no means ridiculous despite the uneasy assurances of apologists. She regards Jesus as a Zealot crucified alongside fellow Zealots (“thieves,” lestoi). After his escape from the cross, he went elsewhere preaching a new gospel concerning the true meaning of the resurrection he had just undergone. So the Proclaimer became the Proclaimed—as well as the Proclaimer of the Proclaimed!   

Einhorn thus makes sense of the extensive parallels between the Passion journeys of both Jesus and Paul in Luke-Acts, not that it all happened twice, but that the second telling of the story in Paul’s case is a hint that Paul is the same character who underwent the process in Luke. Einhorn notes other, smaller parallels including the Galilean birthplace of Paul according to Jerome and the similarity of Paul’s being trained as a youth by Gamaliel and Jesus engaged in dialectic with the elders and scribes in the Temple at age 12. She suggests that Pilate’s uncharacteristic urgency to have Jesus acquitted might be explained as another version of Acts 22:25-29, in which the Roman official, about to flog Paul, stands down when he discovers the object of his wrath is a Roman citizen. The Talmud says, cryptically, that Jesus, too, had some connection with the government.

It is a fascinating, albeit speculative thesis. The sheer novelty of it ought not to count against it, though most will laugh it off for no better reason. It is good that Lena Einhorn has contributed her theory to the debate.


Copyright©2009 by Robert M Price
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