THE MISSING YEARS IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST
Bertrand L. Comparet
The four gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
tell of the life and ministry of Yahshua the Christ. The gospel of Matthew
traces Him from His birth through His short sojourn in Egypt, then back to
Nazareth, still as a baby. He next appears in this gospel in chapter 3, at the
time of His baptism, just before His 40 days of temptation at the beginning of
His ministry. In Mark, the baptism, temptations and the beginning of His
ministry, are all in Chapter 1. In John, as in Mark, His childhood is not
covered; chapter 1 covers His baptism and the beginning of His ministry.
In Luke we have been given more details. Chapters 2 and 3
trace Him from the return to Nazareth through His baptism, temptations and the
beginning of His ministry. Luke 3:23 tells us Yahshua's ministry started
at the age of thirty. Luke 2:41-52 traces Him on one visit to Jerusalem
when He was 12 years old. All four gospels are silent on the 18 years between
His 12th and 30th years. Where was He, what was He doing during those years? It
can be well demonstrated that He was absent from Palestine for at least part of
this period, let's trace this absence.
Luke 1:36, 39-56 tells us that Elizabeth, mother
of John the Baptist, was a cousin of Mary the mother of Yahshua the Christ.
There was a very close, friendly relationship between the two families.
Immediately after the angel told Mary she was to bear Yahshua, she went to the
home of her cousin Elizabeth and stayed in Elizabeth's home for about 3 months.
It is only natural that this close friendship would endure throughout the years
The law required that all the men and male children must
come to Jerusalem at three feasts each year. Deuteronomy 16:16 states,
"Three times in a year shall all the males appear before Yahweh thy God in
the place which He shall choose: in the feast of unleavened bread and in the
feast of weeks and in the feast of tabernacles." The feast of weeks was
held 50 days after Passover, in our day is called Pentecost. The feast of
tabernacles was a weeklong feast, the last of the fall festivals. The families
of Yahshua and John the Baptist, had to bring them both to Jerusalem three times
every year. The families, being such good friends, surely met and the children
must have played together on those occasions. So, Yahshua and John the Baptist
were very well acquainted. Between Yahshua's 12th and 30th years, the scriptures
nowhere even hint Yahshua was in Palestine. We find evidence He was absent from
Palestine throughout the greater part of that period.
John 1:29-33 records the event of Yahshua being
baptized by John the Baptist, in these words. "The next day, John seeth
Yahshua coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of Yahweh, which taketh away
the sins of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is
preferred before me, for He was before me. And John bare record saying, I saw
the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode on Him. And I
knew Him not." John had received the vision by which he identified
Yahshua as the Lamb of Yahweh. However, he didn't recognize him as a person, a
relative of his for he says, I knew Him not. If John the Baptist had seen his
cousin Yahshua 3 times each year to that time, he certainly would have
recognized Him. If Yahshua had been in Palestine during those 18 years, John
surely would have seen Him. Therefore Yahshua must have been absent during those
This is not the only evidence
of Yahshua's absence, for He was required to pay the stranger's tax. In
the original Greek, Matthew 17:24-27 reads, "And they having arrived
at Capernaum, the collectors of the didrachmas came to Peter and said, Does not
your teacher pay the didrachma? He saith yes. And when they had come into the
house, Yahshua anticipated him saying, Which to thee seems right Simon? The
kings of the earth: from whom do they take custom or head tax? From their sons
or from the aliens? To him said Peter, From the aliens. Yahshua said to him,
Then the sons are exempt. But that we may not offend them, going to the sea cast
thou a hook, and the first fish ascending take up; and opening the mouth of him,
thou wilt find a stater; taking that, give it to them for Me and thee."
Here is clear proof that Yahshua was regarded as a
stranger in the land. Remember, this took place at Capernaum, in His home
district of Galilee. Note that the tax, which He was called upon to pay, the
didrachma, was a head tax levied by the Romans on all strangers. This tax of a
didrachma, a Greek silver coin, was not the Jewish temple tax of a half shekel,
paid by all who were of the Jewish religion. Merely to ask if He paid the temple
tax would have been an insult as doubting His citizenship. If this tax had been
the temple tax, this was not levied on any alien, only on the Judeans. If this
were the case Yahshua could not have said that this tax was levied on the aliens
and the sons are exempt. Therefore it was clearly the Roman didrachma head tax,
levied only on strangers. Also notice how Yahshua said to pay it. A fish would
be caught, having in its mouth a stater, which was another Greek coin. The
Jewish temple tax could only be paid with a Jewish half-shekel coin, not a coin
issued by pagans.
Yahshua spoke of the kings of the earth collecting the
tax. The priests, not by a king, collected the temple tax. So we see that
Yahshua had been gone so long that, in His own home district of Galilee, He was
not recognized as a local resident. He was asked to pay the stranger's tax, the
If Yahshua was absent from Palestine for many years,
between the age of 12 and 30, where was He during this time? The various enemies
of Christianity have originated many legends about this. Some of the various
forms of devil worship of Asia claim that He spent these years in their
lamaseries in Tibet and in the ancient oasis in the Gobi desert, learning their
teachings. Of one thing we can be sure, He who was Yahweh in the flesh did not
waste His time studying devil worship among the pagans! He didn't borrow any of
His teachings from them!
Where did He spend these years? Before we can go into
this, we must lay a foundation for it. We must learn some facts, as background,
which will show how likely our explanation is the true one.
A fairly prominent character in the New Testament is
Joseph of Arimathea. Arimathea was 8 miles north of Jerusalem, the first
stopping off place of northbound caravans and an important commercial center in
its day. Matthew 27:57 tells us that Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy,
while Mark 15:43 and Luke 23:50-51 tell us that he was an
honorable counselor or member of the Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem.
All four gospels praise him as a good man and Matthew and
John further tell us that he was one of Yahshua's disciples. However, during
Yahshua's life he remained a secret disciple, for fear of the Jews. The
Jews would have persecuted Joseph much more savagely than just a poor nobody,
had they known he was a follower of Yahshua the Christ.
This tradition is evidently well founded, for Matthew
27:57-60 records that Joseph of Arimathea went to Pontius Pilate, asked for
the body of Yahshua and was given it. He then buried Yahshua in his own tomb.
This seems like a highly dangerous thing to have done. This showed reverence for
the remains of one who was so bitterly hated by the Jews and who had been
condemned to be killed as a criminal.
There were two cemeteries outside Jerusalem reserved for
the bodies of condemned criminals. Here was a man who, during Yahshua's
lifetime, had not dared to openly admit that he was Yahshua's disciple. He now
openly shows reverence and affection for the remains of the One they had killed
that very day.
Pontius Pilate had consented to the murder of Yahshua,
after officially adjudging Him completely innocent of any crime at all. He had
done this astonishingly evil act to avoid offending the Jews. It was unlikely
that he would have authorized an honorable private funeral for Yahshua, if the
leaders of the Jews had not consented to it. Only one explanation of this can be
found. Under both Jewish and Roman law, it was the duty of the nearest relatives
to provide burial for anyone, regardless of how they died. Despite all their
hatred, the Jewish authorities could hardly refuse permission to the uncle to
bury his nephew. The Palestinian tradition of this relationship was probably
What if Joseph of Arimathea was our Savior's uncle?
Palestinian tradition is that his wealth came from being an importer of tin,
from mines that he owned in Cornwall in the British Isles. Naturally he would
have frequently gone with his ships to Cornwall, to inspect his properties
there. What would be more natural than he would take this wonderful nephew of
his along. If this did occur, there must be some record or tradition of it in
the place to which they went. Next, let us look for such evidence,
First, a little review of what was then known about the
tin trade. The ancient writers agree that the Phoenicians were the earliest
traders who brought tin from the islands beyond the Straits of Gibraltar.
Without tin, it was impossible to make bronze. Copper alone, without tin to
harden and strengthen it, was not good enough, so tin was very valuable. Ships
of many other nations tried to follow the Phoenician galleys, to find where they
were able to get tin. The Phoenicians were such expert sailors; they were
usually able to get away from their pursuers.
Other records tell of one who could not shake off a Roman
ship which followed him and who finally wrecked his own ship to avoid being
traced to the source of the tin. This record tells how his countrymen reimbursed
him for the loss of his ship, being grateful to him for his having protected the
valuable secret at so great a cost.
Ezekiel 27:12, written about 595 B.C., mentions
the tin trade of the ancient city of Tyre. "Tarshish was thy merchant, by
reason of the multitude of all kinds fiches: with silver, iron, tin and lead,
they traded in thy fairs". This tin trade originating in Britain was very
ancient, going back to at least 1500 B.C. A tremendous amount of bronze
(mistranslated brass in the King James Bible) was used in the construction and
equipment of King Solomon's temple. The tin mines of Cornwall probably supplied
most of the tin for this bronze. Remember that Ezekiel mentioned tin and lead.
Both of these metals as well as some copper were mined in Britain in those days.
An ancient pig of lead has been found, bearing the stamp of Britannicus, the son
of Claudius. This shows that the mining of lead in Britain was in progress
during the time of Yahshua.
Despite all Phoenician efforts to keep it secret, the
Greeks discovered the source of tin in Britain in the year 330 B.C. The
Phoenician monopoly was broken. So in Yahshua's lifetime, his uncle Joseph of
Arimathea was the owner of tin mines in Cornwall. Did he take the young Yahshua
The first tradition that he did so is found in Cornwall.
In Baring Gould's Book of Cornwall he writes, "Another Cornish tradition is
to the effect that Joseph of Arimathea came in a boat to Cornwall and brought
the boy Yahshua with him. The latter taught him how to extract tin and purge it
of the wolfram. When the tin is flashed, then the tinner shouts Joseph was in
the trade". We find it again at Priddy, a little village lying at the top
of the Mendip Hills, right in the center of the ancient lead and copper mines.
We next find the tradition that Yahshua was brought to
Britain, at Somerset, by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea. The tradition says,@
They came in a ship of Tarshish to the Somerland, and sojourned in a place
called Paradise". The Summerland is Somerset. At the mouth of the Brue
river, which runs down from Glastonbury, lies Burnham and Godney. Old ordinance
survey maps give the name of the area around Burnham, Paradise. It is still
known by that name. Ancient writings have said that Glastonbury was once known
as Paradise. About a mile from Glastonbury lies the village of Godney. Godney
means God's marshlands. The Glastonbury traditions are more concerned with
Yahshua's visit during His manhood.
Tradition also attests that much of Yahshua's sojourn in
Britain was spent at or near Glastonbury. Later there was built at Glastonbury a
great Abbey. For almost a thousand years the greatest kings, bishops, saints and
heroes of the British race were buried there. In its day it was the greatest
abbey in Britain. Royal charters were signed in the church. King Cnut still in
existence, the one signed by King Ina in 704 A.D. and one signs two of these
there, in 1032 A.D. In 1184 A.D, the abbey buildings and the famous library of
Glastonbury, covering a thousand years of history, was burned. Therefore, today
we only have scattered references to these things in the works of various
historians of the early days. However, there were many of these.
Taliesin the Druid, the great Welch prince and Bard of
the sixth century wrote, "Christ, the Word from the beginning, was from the
beginning our teacher, and we never lost His teachings." The great church
historian, Hugh Paulinus de Cressy, writing in 1668 A.D. said, "This, our
land of Brittany, though called by the Romans another world, as being divided
from the whole then discovered habitable earth, yet the riches of Divine mercy
received the beams of the Son of Righteousness before many other countries
nearer approaching to the place where He first rose."
Further support is lent to these ancient reports by what
happened later, after Yahshua's crucifixion. The Jews bitterly persecuted the
Christians, as we know. John 12:10-11 tells how even during Yahshua's
lifetime, the Jews plotted to murder Lazarus, because Yahshua had raised him
from the dead.
Cardinal Baronius, a very careful church historian who
was librarian to the Vatican, quotes a Vatican manuscript dated 35 A.D. This
manuscript reports that in that year the Jews had arrested Joseph of Arimathea,
the Virgin Mary, Martha, and two other Christians. They were put in a boat and
were set adrift in the Mediterranean without oars or sails. They finally reached
land and went to Britain. Many early historians confirm this.
St. Gregory of Tours, in his history of the Franks
written shortly before 600 A.D., Haleca, Archbishop of Saragossa and the
Chronicon of Pseudo Dexter, all agree that Joseph of Arimathea was the first to
preach the gospel of Christianity in Britain. Hugh Paulinius de Cressy says,
"Now the most eminent of the primitive disciples and who contributed most
to this heavenly building, was St. Joseph of Arimathea and eleven of his
companions along with him, among whom is reckoned his son of the same name.
These, toward the latter end of Nero's reign and before St. Peter and St. Paul
were consummated by a glorious martyrdom. By the testimony of ancient records
they were said to have entered this island because of its isolation, the
benevolence of the British princes and freedom from Roman tyranny. This place
was more opportune and better prepared for entertaining and learning the gospel
of the kingdom, than almost any country under the Romans."
Various historians, of these early times, such as Gildas
and William of Malmesbury, record that the British King Arviragus granted to
Joseph of Arimathea a considerable area at Glastonbury. This was to be held
forever, free from all taxes, as a site for a church and its accessory buildings
That this is no mere legend is proven by one of the
greatest official records of all British history. After conquering England in
the year 1066 A.D., William the Conqueror had a survey made of all the lands of
the kingdom, as to what taxes had been paid. This record called Domesday Booke
was completed in 1088 A.D. and it contains this record. "The Domus Dei, in
the great monastery of Glastonbury, called the secret of Yahweh. This
Glastonbury church possesses in its own villa XII hides of land which have never
paid tax." Note that this official record names this early church Domus
Dei, the home of God, and the secret of Yahweh.
Joseph of Arimathea and his companions erected a mud and
wattle church at Glastonbury. Among their first converts were members of the
royal family, children of Aractious, cousin of King Arviragus of South Wales.
Still existing royal charters granted by King Ina, dated 704 A.D., and by King
Cnut dated 1032 A.D., attest that these kings in this church signed them.
Ancient records tell of its being preserved by a shell
built around it of boards covered with lead. Later a stone building was erected,
enclosing the original church. St. David erected a large stone church as an
addition to this in 546 A.D. A record he made of this on a bronze tablet was
still in place at the time of the seizure and dissolution of the monastery under
orders from King Henry VIII.
Even in Ireland is found the tradition of Joseph of
Arimathea having founded the Glastonbury church. St. Patrick, who had spent
considerable time at Glastonbury and who returned there for the last years of
his life, no doubt brought the record to Ireland.
This great abbey was the one destroyed by fire in 1184
A.D. Immediately thereafter, King Henry II of England issued a royal charter for
the rebuilding of Glastonbury Abbey. The charter called the abbey, "The
mother and burying place of the saints, founded by the very disciples of our
Well-substantiated ancient records tell of the death and
burial of Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury. The epitaph on his tombstone read,
"I came to the Britons after I buried the Christ. I taught, I rest."
Between 1345 A.D. and 1367 A.D., the body was placed in a silver casket with a
beautiful stone sarcophagus, which was still in position in the year 1662 A.D.,
when the St. Joseph chapel containing it had become partially ruined.
Later, out of fear that Puritan fanaticism would result
in it being destroyed as an object of idolatry, the sarcophagus was secretly
removed by night to the parish churchyard. Saying that the initials J.A. carved
on it stood for John Allen concealed its identity. Thus it escaped destruction.
In 1928, it was found nearly buried in the soil. It was
removed into the church, in the north transept of the ancient St. Katherine's
Chapel. Its construction indicates it was made to fit the silver casket. It
bears the initials J.A., with a dacuceus between the initials. The caduceus, a
winged staff with two serpents twined around it, is used today as the emblem of
physicians. Originally it was the badge of Mercury, the messenger of the Gods.
Even today it has been assimilated into the symbolism of some Christian
churches. In our own times, the patriarchs of the eastern churches have a
caduceus, not a crozier, carried before them in official processions. It was an
official badge, which would not have been put on a mere common person's grave.
Therefore we see that not only ancient legends and
ancient historical records, but the official acts and records of the kings of
the middle ages, have recognized the close connection of Joseph of Arimathea,
the uncle of Yahshua the Christ, with Cornwall and Glastonbury in Britain. All
of these lend strong support to the ancient legends and records of these places
that it was here that Yahshua spent those 18 years of His life, which the Bible
does not account for. Where else would we expect Him to go, but to what was to
become the principal home of His own people Israel.