THE MISSING YEARS IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST
By 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
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 thereafter.
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
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
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 didrachma.
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
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 there?
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 and fields.
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
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 Lord".
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
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
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