I recently bought and am currently reading a book called Christ's Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity, written by Eric Zuesse.
The premise of the book is this: Modern Christianity is based largely on the teachings of the Apostle Paul, (or is it the self-appointed (un)apostle Paul) rather than the teachings of Jesus.
Zuesse suggests that James, Jesus’ brother was left to take the place of Jesus after the demise of Judas Iscariot. He points out that a rift developed between James and the remaining original apostles and Paul, who claimed apostleship after being struck and temporarily blinded by something approximating a bolt of lightning while pursuing his job of killing heretical followers of Jesus the Jewish Rabbi. And that, in the end, Paul won.
Zuesse proffers that Jesus did not intend to start a new religion, that instead he came to fix an ancient but flawed one, that of Abraham.
Left out of Zuesse’s argument (at least to the point I have read) is the story of Matthias, chosen by Peter and a group of believers to replace Judas as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
Some might ask why any of this matters. Other books, including the book of Revelations describe the New Jerusalem. It is said to have 12 gates, each to be manned by one of the 12 apostles. Not 13, or 26. 12.
So is the 12th apostle Judas? James? Paul? Mathias? Who mans that 12th gate?
Allow me to further muddle the equation.
There could be another, none of the above.
Mary of Magdala: Perhaps, Jesus’ closest confidant. Perhaps also his wife.
Her book was excluded from the Bible. Most Christians don’t even know the book exists.
According to her, the remaining Apostles could not accept that Jesus would return first to a woman, and furthermore, to instruct her with teachings that appear to supersede their own understanding.
It was Mary, Jesus’ mother, and Mary of Magdala to which Jesus first appeared, according even to the books accepted into the Bible.
The more I learn, the less I know.