NEW TESTAMENT FORGERIES
by Madalyn O'Hair
Reproduced from the "American Atheist Radio Series"
department of the August 1989 issue of the _American Atheist_
SUMMARY: An investigation into the life of Jesus turns up
myths and lies.
ABOUT THIS SERIES: When the first installment of a regularly
scheduled, fifteen-minute, weekly American Atheist radio
series on KLBJ radio (a station in Austin, Texas, owned by
then-President Lyndon Baines Johnson) hit the airwaves on
June 3, 1968, the nation was shocked. The programs had to be
submitted weeks in advance and were heavily censored. The
regular production of the series ended in September 1977,
when no further funding was available.
The following is the text of "American Atheist Radio
Series" program No. 349, first broadcast on July 5, 1975.
Back at the turn of the century, a man by the name of
Joseph Wheless attempted to prove that everything about the
Bible was a forgery, and I have been exploring some of his
contentions here during the last several weeks.
In order to look at the New Testament, Wheless believes
that one must first accept, or tentatively assume, certain
matters to be true. He attempts to sketch the life of Jesus
Christ as one of these facts, but has difficulties with that.
Let us look at some of this.
Jesus was a native of Galilee (Matt. 2:23; 13:54-55), or
else he was a native of Judaea (John 4:43-44). He was born in
the days of Herod the king (Matt. 2:1); or else at another
date, thirteen years later when Cyrenius was governor of
Syria (Luke 2:1-7). There are destructive contradictions in
his lineage and parentage which have been the subject of much
discussion for a thousand years. In one report (Matt. 1:1-16)
there were twenty-eight generations from David to the time of
the Jews being carried to Babylon, and fourteen generations
from there to Jesus Christ, if his father was Joseph.
However, in another report (Luke 3:23-38) there were only
seventy-eight generations from Adam to Jesus, again counting
Joseph as his father; and of these there were forty-two
generations from David -- but the lineage is different, all
the fathers are not the same, and in any event, Joseph was
not Christ's father. The Holy Ghost did that.
But aside from that, Jesus became a Jewish sectarian
religious teacher of the zealot reformer type. He was so
zealous that his own family thought him insane and sent out
to apprehend him (Mark 3:21,31); and many thought of him as
possessed by the devil and mad (John 10:20) -- his own
disciples thought him mad (John 2:17).
His ministry lasted one year according to the first
three Gospels and three years according to the fourth. He
repeated throughout the ministry that he had come only to his
own Jewish people (Matt. 15:24, Acts 3:25-26, Acts 13:46,
Rom. 15:8), and he enjoined his twelve apostles only to
preach to the Jews (Matt. 10:5-6). He himself declined to
assist a Gentile (Matt. 15:22-28).
His own ministry said that there was to be an immediate
end of the world (Matt. 10:7, Matt. 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke
9:27, Mark 13:30) and he exhorted his disciples to teach the
same (Matt. 10:23, Matt. 26:63-64, Mark 14:61-62). Of course,
there were to be none but Jews in heaven or in the new
Kingdom of Heaven on the earth (John 4:22). These were to be
144,000 Jews, the "sealed" saints, who alone constituted the
original Jewish Kingdom of God (Rev. 7:3-8).
We use this short outline. We find then that nothing was
written on the subject during the generation of Jesus. But
the earth did not come to an end, and soon the failing new
Jewish faith was offered to the pagans of countries round.
The "Word" was spread by mouth. Written books did not come
into existence at first at all.
It is very difficult to indicate when the writings
began, so we need to find out first when they were not
written, when they were not available. But, for one hundred
and fifty years, little or nothing besides the Old Testament
and pagan oracles were known or quoted. Indeed up to the year
150, no Christian writer quoted the Gospels at all, with the
exception of Papias (A.D. 70-155), who spoke of a narrative
by Mark and a collection of sayings of Jesus.
There are twenty-three books in the New Testament from
Acts to Revelation. Of these, in these, there is not a
solitary reference to or a word of quotation from, any of the
four Gospels, the first four books in the New Testament.
There is scarcely a trace of the wonderful career and
miracles of Jesus, and not a word of his gospel or teachings
is either mentioned or quoted. The Epistles, indeed, preach
Christ crucified from oral tradition as the basis of the
propagandists' own gospel. But the written Gospel of Jesus
Christ, his life and words and deeds, was unknown. Indeed the
apostle Paul fulminates against anyone who would teach any
interpretation but his own, saying:
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any
other gospel unto you than that which we have
preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8)
From all of this, the conclusion is inevitable: that when the
twenty-three Acts and Epistles were written, none of the four
Gospel biographies of Jesus had yet seen the light. The Acts
and Epistles, therefore, with Revelation, were written before
any of the Gospel biographies.
And as the long years passed and one generation of
disappointed Messianic Jews after another was gathered to
their fathers, the believers in the Second Coming grew
restless and even in the New Testament asked questions as in
2 Peter 3:4:
"And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?
for since the fathers fell asleep, all things
continue as they were from the beginning of the
And, of course, they still continue to the date of this
It was when this impatience began, at a critical
juncture, that Wheless believes in an effort to revive and
stimulate the jaded hopes of the Jewish believers and to
spread the propaganda amongst the pagans, the written
Christ-tales began to be worked up. There were at hand, the
pagan oracles, the Jewish literature, and other apocryphal
and forged writings.
So, whereas the Old Testament depended on "inspiration"
and "revelation" for authenticity, the New Testament is
silent on this subject. And it was not until the middle of
the second century that the New Testament was attached to the
Old Testament. The dubious and disputed status of the sacred
writings was, indeed, not settled until the Council of Trent,
in the year 1546. It was at that time that the Latin Vulgate
Version was declared to be authentic and _almost_ infallible.
But a number of these books were bitterly disputed and their
authenticity and inspiration denied by the leading reformers,
Luther, Grotius, Calvin. As we have it today, there are a
number of entire books doubted, and these are the Epistle to
the Hebrews, that of James, the Second and Third of John,
Jude, and Apocalypse. The doubted "portions" are three in
number: the closing section of St. Mark's Gospel, 16:9-20,
some verses in Luke (22:43-44) and in John 7:53 to 8:11.
There are Christian apocryphal writings. In general they
imitate the books of the New Testament, and with a few
exceptions, fall under the description of being Gospels,
Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses. Some of the material then
available included the following:
** A gospel written by Jesus Christ's own hand;
** Letters and portraits of Jesus Christ and his personal
** Letters written by his virgin mother;
** Pilate's official report to the Emperor of the trial and
crucifixion of Jesus, with Pilate's confession of faith;
** The reply of Tiberius and the trial of Pilate;
** Official documents of the Roman Senate about Jesus;
** Gospels, Epistles, Acts, by every one of the twelve
** Official documents of church law and government, written
in Greek, by the apostles;
** Records of the earliest popes and apostolic succession;
** And scores of other pious forged documents.
One work is especially interesting. Forged in the name
of John the Apostle, it records how all the apostles were
preternaturally transported from different quarters of the
globe to the Virgin's deathbed, those who had died being
resurrected for the purpose. A Jew who dared to touch the
sacred body instantly lost both hands, but they were restored
through the mediation of the apostles. Christ, accompanied by
a band of angels, came down to receive his mother's soul. The
apostles then bore the body to Gethsemane and deposited it in
a tomb, whence it was taken up alive to heaven. This was an
extraordinary miracle, for the body was dead and the soul
carried to heaven from her home and the dead body laid in the
grave where it came to life again for the heaven trip.
Wheless cites scores of these works. I am stunned by the
authorities he quotes. The church, today, relies on the word
of its early historians in so many things -- but never tells
us that the historians also accepted other ideas. For
instance, Eusebius, on whom the church relies greatly,
vouches that he himself translated from the Syriac documents
in the archives of Edessa. These included, in three
1. A letter of Abgar to Christ,
2. Christ's reply,
3. A picture painted from life, of Christ.
I am absolutely stunned by this. If we cannot believe
Eusebius on this matter, how can we believe him on any
It should be mentioned that Abgar was not a personal
name of a king of Edessa, but a generic title of all the
rulers of that small state, just as we call the Roman
emperors caesars, and the kings of Egypt pharaohs. But, in
his _Church History,_ Book I, Chapter 13, pages 63 forward,
Eusebius blithely states that Jesus was so famous that he was
known even in countries remote from the land of Judea and
that from Edessa,
"King Abgar sent Him a letter asking Him to come
and heal him of his disease. But our Saviour at the
time he asked Him did not comply with his request.
Yet He deigned to give him a letter in reply."
So Eusebius went to Edessa where the material was, he says,
"taken by us from the archives," and "translated from Aramaic
The actual letter follows where the king declares:
"Abgar the Black, sovereign of the country, to
Jesus, the Good Saviour, who has appeared in the
country of Jerusalem."
It is all there -- the entire letter.
He implores Jesus to heal him of an ailment. Jesus
answers the letter saying he must first die and be "taken up"
and that he will then send one of his disciples to not alone
heal the disease of the Abgar -- that is, the king -- but
will see that the disciple gives him salvation also. This all
came to pass then in the year 340, when the disciple Thaddeus
went to Edessa and did wonderful works. Of course, the Abgar
had been dead for probably three hundred years then and the
disciple was a little late getting there. But how can I now
ever believe anything that Eusebius has written? And why did
not the church make this clear to me when I studied Eusebius
under the tutelage of the religious community? Why was this
part of his writing kept from me? Actually, Wheless makes me
feel like a damn fool for ever having accepted any of it.
Eusebius, Wheless says, "is thus seen to have been a
most circumstantial liar and a well-skilled forger for God."
From this one lie spouted others like toadstools, a whole
literature of various books concerning Abgar the King and
Thaddeus the Apostle, in which are preserved for posterity a
series of five letters written by Abgar to Tiberius Caesar
and to neighboring potentates, endorsing Jesus and his
healing power in something like testimonials. What staggers
me more is that Tiberius answers saying, "Pilate has
officially informed us of the miracles of Jesus."
These crass forgeries were welcomed into the church and
for fifteen centuries have gone unrebuked by either pope or
church. Until the beginning of our present century, strong
support was made for these letters throughout England by the
archbishops there. The portrait of Jesus, reported to have
been sent by Jesus himself to the king, is now displayed at
both Rome and Genoa and is in many homes in England, in
reproduction, available from the church.
Of course, this picture is not quite the same as the
likeness of the features of Christ miraculously impressed
upon a cloth when a woman of Jerusalem offered Jesus a linen
cloth to wipe his face as he was carrying his cross towards
Calvary. At first this likeness was called in Latin, _vera
icon,_ which means true image. But in ordinary language it
soon became _veronica_; and by degrees popular imagination
mistook the word for the name of a person. And so the tale of
Veronica's Veil was formed and from this emerges St.
Veronica, the woman of Jerusalem who offered Jesus a linen
cloth to wipe his face.
Here is myth-in-the-making. Yet the pope displayed and
vouched for the fake Veil of St. Veronica on March 19, 1930,
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