Watchman Willie Martin Archive

                  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea

I was sent this booklet in the mail and asked to transcribe it and place it on the Internet. It is a study about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea by pastor Bertrand L. Comparet. Therefore, I present this study to you for your preview and information. I will present it exactly as it is written in the booklet; and if I add anything I will put it in brackets with my initials - WM.

We have been studying the Bible’s doctrine on many points, but tonight we shall go into a matter of history in tracing two individuals mentioned in the Bible, on into history after the Biblical mention of them ceases. Those two are Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, who are both well established historical characters in addition to the mention of them in the Bible.

Nicodemus is mentioned only in the Gospel of John, but he is also mentioned in the Talmud.

Talmud ‑ Mas. Kethuboth 65a: ...For R. Abbahu stated in the name of R. Johanan: It happened that when the Sages granted the daughter-in‑law of Nakdimon 11 [This is footnote eleven: OR ‘NICODEMON’, ‘NICODEMUS’, ONE OF THE THREE WEALTHIEST MEN IN JERUSALEM IN THE DAYS OF THE SIEGE BY VESPASIAN AND TITUS (V. GIT. 58a) -WM]

There is also the Book of Nicodemus, which was written sometime during the first three centuries, A.D. None of early Christian writers, earlier than about 250 or 275 A.D., mention it at all, (this Book of Nicodemus), although later it is rather extensively quoted. You see, there was a period several centuries in which people felt they had to help out God; He couldn’t get along by Himself. They were eager to make many converts among the pagans, and in those days people were greatly impressed by miracles.

You remember how the Jews were constantly demanding that Jesus Christ perform miracles, just to show them that He was more than an ordinary man, before they would take Him seriously; and you also remember He invariably refused. He performed many miracles: but not one except those that had been prophesied of Him in the Old Testament - mostly in the Book of Isaiah. He was not performing as a mountebank for the amusement of the Jewish population.

The Book of Nicodemus is full of these fake miracles that were concocted by writers, later, to try to make some impressive documents for the church missionaries to show the pagans. For example, it tells how, when Christ was brought before Pontius Pilate, that the Roman flags carried by the soldiers bowed before him: that the very flag-staffs bent over, so the flags even bowed to Him.

Now that is the sort of thing He invariably refused to do; and the Bible naturally makes no mention of it because unquestionably it didn’t happen. So these various falsified things were produced by people who were well known cranks in their day and nobody would take them too seriously if they wrote under their own names; so they took the name of some prophet or well known person in the bible who had been dead a couple of centuries, so they would be sure he wasn’t going to come back and deny the alleged miracles.

But they wrote their fairy tale in his name, and hoped it would get circulation on the basis of the authorship falsely ascribed to it. The Book of Nicodemus is in that category. It does contain a few truthful observations; but don’t ever mistake it for being genuine or being written by Nicodemus himself, because it was not.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a Prince among the people of Judea. John 3:1 calls him a ruler of the Jews. He was the one who came to Jesus by night to inquire of Him about certain things. Now his statement, “We...” note the word is in the plural; “WE know that from God Thou hast come...” indicates that he had not come on just his own personal initiative: he was sent by some of the other Pharisees who were doubtful about this matter.

They did not expect the Messiah to come; but they expected Him to come as a military conqueror to enslave all the Gentile (non-Jewish people - WM) peoples and divert all the wealth of the world into the hand of the Jews. They had seen Christ do a number of miracles, so that made them figure, “Well, this is somebody out of the ordinary: now why isn’t He killing off the Roman army and sending us out on a looting expedition someplace?”

So you have wondered, perhaps, why it is that Pontius Pilate was so jittery about something that might upset the Jews at that period of time. Well, the prophesies from the Book of Daniel told when the Messiah was going to come, but the date had been falsified; that is, the calendar had been falsified. The first Herod, the one who was the King at the time of the birth of Christ and who murdered all those little children in Bethlehem, trying to kill Jesus, had tried to get the people to receive him as being the Messiah; and for that purpose the priests, who were the ones who kept the historical records and calendars and so on, had on the dates, to try to support his claim to being the messiah. But there were some people who weren’t fooled by it, and obviously Herod’s plan had fizzled out; so they were looking now for the real Messiah who was due.

In the 10th chapter of John, (and it’s somewhat clearer in the Greek than it is in your King James Version translation), it says this: “And the Dedication in Jerusalem came and it was winter and Jesus was walking in the Temple and Solomon’s porch. The Jews, therefore, came and surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘till when dost Thou hold our soul in suspense? If Thou art the Messiah tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and ye do not believe. The works that I do in the name of My Father, these testify concerning Me: but ye do not believe for ye are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’”

Now this Dedication was the Maccabean feast on the anniversary of the reconstruction of the Temple after its cleansing by Judas Maccabeus. So here was all this ferment. Now remember, the Jews were ready; not just this one faction: the Zealots were ready to rise in insurrection against Rome, regardless; the rest of the population were ready to rise in military insurrection when the leader came: the Messiah.

Now Pontius Pilate was sent there as Roman Governor; and his job was to extract the most money in taxes with the least possible expense to the government; and he had troops enough to take care of small, ordinary disturbances of the peace, but he did not have troops enough to take care of a major uprising. That is why he was so afraid of pushing things to the point where there might be a general explosion of this feeling.

Before this time, before the time mentioned of the Jews coming at the “Dedication” feast in December, the Pharisees had sent Nicodemus privately to Jesus to inquire about this, and it tells of it in the third chapter of the Gospel of John:

“And there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus his name, a ruler of the Jews. This one came to Him by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that from God Thou hast come, a teacher. For no one these signs is able to do which Thou doest except God is with Him.’ Jesus answered and said to him...”

(Now here I am reading this the way it reads in the Greek; because, among the 27,000 places where your King James Version is mistranslated, you have mistranslation in this passage which is the basis of one of the most popular and one of the most erroneous of (the Judeo-Christian - WM) Church doctrines today: The second birth - being born again).

Now here is the way the bible tells it, and the only place where the Bible tells it:

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Indeed I say to thee, if anyone be not born (now He doesn’t say again; your King James Version falsifies His words and has Him say, if he is not born again, but this is what it actually says in the Greek: “If anyone be not born ‘from above’ (note the difference, from above) he is not able to see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus says to Him,

“How is a man able to be born being already old? Is he able to enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born?”

Now you see it’s only Nicodemus, not understanding this, who brings in any idea of being born “again.” And notice Jesus’ reply to him: Jesus answered,

“Indeed, indeed, I say to thee, if a man be not born of water and the spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God. That being born of the flesh is flesh and that being born out of the spirit is spirit. Do not wonder that I said to thee, yo must be born ‘from above.’”

Christ is repeating that for emphasis.

“The wind blows where it wills and the sound of it thou hearest; but you know not whence it comes and where it goes. Thus is everyone who is born out of the spirit.”

Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, “How is this able to be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Art thou the teacher of Israel’ and thou dost not knowst this? Indeed, indeed, I say to thee, that which we know we speak, and what we have seen we testify; and our testimony you do not receive. If I have told you the earthly things and you do not receive, how would ye believe if I told you the heavenly things? And no one has ascended into heaven except the Son of Man who descended from heaven. And even as Moses held aloft the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be raised. That everyone who believes in Him may not be destroyed, but may have life for the age. For God so lived the world that He gave His only begotten Son that everyone believing in Him may not be destroyed, but may have life age long. God sent His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; but he who does not believe is judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and the men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. For everyone who does vile things hates the light, and comes not to the light that his work might not be detected; but he who does the truth comes to the light so that it may be made manifest that his works have done in God.”

There is more concentrated plain speech in that passage, actually, than Christ gave directly to His Apostles. He was giving Nicodemus both barrels, right here at once, but Nicodemus couldn’t understand it yet. But remember Christ saw beneath outward appearances, and He knew that here was a man that had what it took to respond to this. However, the Pharisees wouldn’t come, other than scoffing and ridiculing Him in the daytime, when they could be seen.

They would come or send their emissary at night when nobody could see that they were just possibly willing to believe Him. So Christ took a little rap at the Pharisees for that. Now, this bore fruit in Nicodemus some months later. In John 7:43-53 it says,

“So there was a division among the people because of Him, and some of them would have taken Him (that is put Him under arrest), bot no man laid hands on Him. Then came the officers to the high priests and Pharisees and they said to them, Why have ye not brought Him? The officers answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this people that knows not the law are accursed.”

Nicodemus said to them (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them): “Does our law judge any man before it hears him, and knows what it is that he does?” They answered and said unto him, “Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look, for out of Galilee arises no Prophet; and every man went into his own house.”

Now the Pharisees treated the common people with the utmost contempt. They called them “Am ha eratz” (the people of the land), and said they were not worthy of a resurrection. The Pharisees did believe in resurrection, but they said these common people were not worthy of it. Like the Pharisees of today, in our [Judeo-Christian, WM] churches, they didn’t know their Scripture. Remember how often Jesus had to say to them, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures,” and “if ye had believed Moses ye would have believed Me, because he wrote of Me.”

Well, here it was again. The said there weren’t any prophets from Galilee. As a matter of fact, if they had known the Old Testament; the Scriptures as they existed up to that time, they would have known that Jonah, Nahum and Malachi were from Galilee. But like most of the [Judeo-Christian, WM] clergy of today, they didn’t read or know the Book they professed to rely upon.

Nicodemus had already courageously spoken up in Jesus’ defense after the Sanhedrin openly planned His murder. After the crucifixion he again too his life in his hands, to render Jesus his last act of respect. In John 19:38-42 it says,

“And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus; and there came also Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. Then they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There they laid Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ Preparation Day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

I don’t believe the Bible mentions it, but it happened to be a tomb which Joseph of Arimathaea had prepared to be his own tomb when the time came.

Both Roman law and Jewish law recognized both the right and the duty of the nearest relative to bury the dead, and that included even someone who had been executed as a common criminal. But the Jews, the Pharisees, through their (Comparet has the word Talmud, but it should be the tradition of the elders, because the Talmud was not codified into writing until several centuries later - WM) Talmud had made a new rule that unless the relatives claimed the body, of an executed criminal within an hour after the execution, it was to be taken to one of the two cemeteries outside Jerusalem which were reserved for the bodies of executed criminals, where they were just dumped into a common pit; there was no separate grave that could be marked with its own headstone, and that kind of thing.

So Joseph of Ariamathea had to step in quickly, to foil the Jews in that regard and get the body. You can see why the Jews were especially anxious to prevent decent burial being given to the body of Jesus: they didn’t expect Him to be resurrected; but, if His tomb were known, it would be a place of pilgrimage for His followers; it would be something to keep alive His memory and this Christian movement that they were trying to stamp out.

Now this is Nicodemus’ last appearance in the Bible. But we are going to pick him up in historical records, afterward, and see what happened to him.

To obtain a little idea of the background of the times, it is first of all necessary to have some understanding of the Jew ecclesiastical groups or parties. There were the Pharisees; the name was derived from Parash (“separated”) which means set apart. The beginning of the Pharisees was perhaps somewhere between 500 and 450 B.C., very soon after the return from Babylon. They were deep students of Judaism (the Traditions of the Elders - WM) meaning the Talmud and they didn’t pay too much attention to the Bible: so their accompanying belief in the necessity of separation from other nations, and their customs grew out of this.

      Remember after the return from Babylon, here along the Palestinian coast (most of the time under the domination of Syria in the north), they had come into the ancient pagan world where the military power was Roman, but the outstanding culture was that of the Greeks. Literature was, you might say, exclusively Greek. Art and so forth was largely Greek, but with it, of course, went the Greek paganism.

Now as the nation developed, remember that from the return from Babylon until somewhere around 150 or thereabouts, B.C., the Judeans were not an independent nation: they were merely governed as a tributary province of one nation or another, Syria much of the time. Syria had adopted entirely the Greek culture and paganism, and they didn’t see why they should allow any distinction to be made in this little conquered tributary province of Judea down there.

[Here is how the Jews came to be in power in Palestine when Christ was here on earth in a flesh body: HEROD WAS ON THE THRONE IN PALESTINE.

In the days of Christ, Herod, an Edomite/Shelah/Judah Jew, was on the throne in Palestine. HE WAS NOT AN ISRAELITE. The Pharisees and Sadducees were in absolute control of the temple and the Sanhedrin. They were not the lawful descendants of the Tribe of Levi. They did not follow the law of Moses, although they claimed to do so. Instead they set up their own Babylonian traditions, Traditions of the Elders, later to become known as the Jewish Talmud.

Following is how the Pharisees came to be in "Moses' Seat" when Christ was born. They had many enemies at the beginning and the Sadducees were the first of these enemies. They were the constant opponents of the Pharisees and their imported Babylonian paganism, misrepresent­ed by the Pharisees as the Tradition of the Pharisees as the Tradition of the Elders, the "Oral Law" ostensibly transmitted privately to Moses and on down, superseding anything written in the Bible.

In the six years of civil war between the Pharisees and Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest of Jerusalem, 50,000 were killed on both sides before this Sadducean ruler succumbed, and his widow Salome turned affairs over to the Pharisees in 79 B.C.

Her brother, Simon ben Shetah, had been waiting for such an opportunity. The continued civil war resulted in the sons of Alexander Jannaeus, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, in 63 B.C., going hat in hand to Pompey, Caesar's Roman General in Syria, asking him to invade Palestine and slaughter their respective opponents. This is how Rome happened to be in power when Christ was born. The full story can be found in the Jewish Encyclopedia under "Pharisees." ]

And there was a big faction among the local people who wanted to get along with their conquerors, you know “nothing controversial” so they went along with it. And, naturally, the Greek culture was only a thin end of the wedge for Greek paganism. Now, even after independence was obtained under Judas Maccabeus about 150 B.C., you still had this strong Grecianizing factor.  HEROD WAS ON THE THRONE IN PALESTINE

In the days of Christ, Herod, an Edomite/Shelah/Judah Jew, was on the throne in Palestine. HE WAS NOT AN ISRAELITE. The Pharisees and Sadducees were in absolute control of the temple and the Sanhedrin. They were not the lawful descendants of the Tribe of Levi. They did not follow the law of Moses, although they claimed to do so. Instead they set up their own Babylonian traditions, Traditions of the Elders, later to become known as the Jewish Talmud.

Following is how the Pharisees came to be in "Moses' Seat" when Christ was born. They had many enemies at the beginning and the Sadducees were the first of these enemies. They were the constant opponents of the Pharisees and their imported Babylonian paganism, misrepresent­ed by the Pharisees as the Tradition of the Pharisees as the Tradition of the Elders, the "Oral Law" ostensibly transmitted privately to Moses and on down, superseding anything written in the Bible.

In the six years of civil war between the Pharisees and Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest of Jerusalem, 50,000 were killed on both sides before this Sadducean ruler succumbed, and his widow Salome turned affairs over to the Pharisees in 79 B.C.

Her brother, Simon ben Shetah, had been waiting for such an opportunity. The continued civil war resulted in the sons of Alexander Jannaeus, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, in 63 B.C., going hat in hand to Pompey, Caesar's Roman General in Syria, asking him to invade Palestine and slaughter their respective opponents. This is how Rome happened to be in power when Christ was born. The full story can be found in the Jewish Encyclopedia under "Pharisees."

Your Bible (the King James Version), speaks of them as “the Greeks,” but it doesn’t mean actual Greek people; it means the Judeans who wanted to adopt the Greek culture. So here you have this strong faction wanting to establish all the Greek customs and leading of course, as I say, right back into paganism. So especially under the persecutions of any dissenting religion under Antiochus Epiphanies of Syria, it became a tough situation.

So here you have this strong faction wanting to establish all the Greek customs and leading of course, as I say, right back into paganism. So especially under the persecutions of any dissenting religion under Antiochus Epiphanies of Syria, it became a tough situation. Resistance centered in this Pharisee group who, at that time, were called the Hasidim; the pious ones. And the Hasidim gradually broke into two groups: those who were interested only in Judaism as a religious cult became the Essenes; those who became also a political party became the Pharisees.

One of the Maccabe kings, John Hyrcanus, (who came to the throne around 125 B.C., as I remember it) sought to create an ordinary kingdom with political alliances with other nations, for their strength. HE WAS ALSO THE ONE WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING THE EDOMITE JEWS INTO THE KINGDOM AND GIVING THEM FULL CITIZENSHIP, WHICH WAS MORE OF A DISASTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE.

So the Pharisees became the opposition party. In the time of the grandsons of John Hyrcanus, civil war broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees (who were very much on the Grecianized side), and this finally led to conquest by the Romans in 63 B.C. [Which we have already shown that the continued civil war resulted in the sons of Alexander Jannaeus, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, in 63 B.C., going hat in hand to Pompey, Caesar's Roman General in Syria, asking him to invade Palestine and slaughter their respective opponents - WM].

Now the Pharisees refused to take the oath of allegiance either to the Romans or to Herod, and they had to pay a fine for it. They were greatly respected both by the learned and the common people as students of the law; but they developed to the extreme the doctrines of the so-called Oral Law. They said,

“Yes, we know what was written down in the law in the books written by Moses. But there is a ‘tradition’ that Moses gave us lots of other laws, in addition. And of course this tradition, telling us that this really came from Moses even though Moses wouldn’t write it down, entitles our tradition to at least equal weight with what he did write down.”

Now this “tradition” later received the name of Talmud. In Christ’s time they still called it the Tradition of the Elders. You remember how often Christ rebuked them for having set aside the laws of god by their tradition!

The Pharisees believed in immortality, with rewards and punishments, and eventual resurrection. They believed in the existence of angels and both good and bad spirits, and they believed in the coming of the promised savior: the Messiah.  The pharisees are the ones who developed the institution of the synagogue because the Sadducees were in complete control of the Temple for the last one and a half centauries B.C.

They had a certain tendency toward asceticism although they didn’t carry it to the extreme that the Essenes did; but you remember Christ scornfully speaks of this tendency in Luke 18:11-12, where He said:

“The Pharisees stood and prayed thus with themselves, ‘God, I think thee, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

Now the Essenes were the extreme development of Parseeism: they were practically a monastic order. The lived by themselves in barracks, although they didn’t retire entirely to these monasteries; that is, they went out and worked at jobs in the nearby communities to support themselves, but they went back at night to the monastery barracks to sleep. They were celebrates, none of them could marry, no women were admitted to the order, they were strict Sabbatarians and strict vegetarians, even to the extent that they objected to the animal sacrifices offered at the Temple. So they were denied admission to the Temple. But they did believe in immortality.

The other principal party was the Sadducees: they were numerically smaller than the Pharisees; but they were composed of the wealthy and the influential persons, so they were more powerful than the larger group of the Pharisees. They began as the party favoring the Grecianizing of their customs, and in this they were led by the high priest. They were out of power from Mattathias Maccabeus, one of the early Maccabe kings, to John Hyrcanus. Then they regained power and control of the Temple in the time of John Hyrcanus, because the Pharisees’ opposition to John’s political policies caused them to be entirely removed from any positions of power.

From then on the Sadducees controlled the Temple except for one extremely brief period at the very beginning of the reign of the first Herod. They were also the party favorable to the romans. These were the worldly men; the materialists; “get along with those in power, those with wealth,” that was their only motto.

For a religious belief they accepted only the Pentateuch; the first five books of the Bible, the ones written by Moses, because those contain the law. [Yet we know that they didn’t really believe those books either, because Christ said: “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46-47) - WM] They rejected all the prophets; they rejected predestination, immortality or resurrection, the existence of any angels or spirits; they were just purely materialists. They quickly adapted the priesthood, which they controlled completely, to the Babylonian corruption of religion. [Which they still control the priesthood of the Catholic Church and the Judeo-Christian churches of America and the Western World - WM]

Now, there was another group that receives only slight mention here in the Bible; the Zealots. They were a Pharisee extremist group but “politically, no doctrinally,” like the Essenes. They believed in immediate revolt against the Romans, not even waiting for the Messiah. One of the apostles whom your King James Version wrongly calls “Simon the Canaanite” (no Canaanite kike was ever an apostle, you can be sure of that) Simon was a Zealot.

The mistranslation may come from one of two things. It is believed that his home town was a little village of Cana where Christ performed His first miracle, that of changing the water into wine. From Cana-ite to Canaanite didn’t take much of a slip of the pen. Also, the Hebrew word meaning Zealots, Cana, Again was very much like it.

Now, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Cana; Zealot, was Zelotes and you will notice in acts 1:13 it does correctly call him Simon Zelotes; Simon the Zealot. Moffatt, Smith and Goodspeed, and some other modern English translations have correctly translated the name in Matthew, Mark and Luke where your King James Version has it wrong.

You will remember that the Sanhedrin is also mentioned, the origin of which is rather uncertain. It possible goes back to Babylon under Persian rule, but cannot be positively traced any earlier than the time of the Greek domination under Alexander the Great. You remember that upon his death the east shores of the Mediterranean fell into the hands of his general who was in command in Syria, so there was a continuation of Greek domination and culture there.

Now the Romans allowed the Jews a large measure of self-government which was recognized as being in this Council. The Aramaic word Sanhedrin means council. The number is fixed in the Talmud; in the Mishna, as seventy members plus a president, a “nasi,” as head: therefore seventy-one in all. The membership had originally been limited to the Sadducee priesthood and the nobility; but, from about 75 B.C., on, many Pharisees (a minority but still  a substantial number) were admitted under the classification of scribes and elders.

Exactly how the members of the scribes and elders were selected is not now known. The “nasi,” (the head) was the high priest. Originally he had authority equal to all the other seventy members; but after Herod reduced the high priesthood from a hereditary religious office to just a political plum like a position on the Supreme Court, as a pay-off for political services rendered, the high priest lost his prestige and great power; he became just one vote among the seventy-one.

Among the powers of the Sanhedrin, politically, first was the collection of taxes. Your King James Version uses the now obsolete English word “publican,” but Christ Himself classified the harlots and the publicans together, and when you start making out your income tax return you’ll understand exactly why that was the classification of the tax collectors.

The Sanhedrin was the high court of Jewish law. As such it had its own armed police force and made arrests at its own discretion: the Romans did not interfere with Jewish local self-government. Under Biblical law the method of killing a condemned criminal was stoning him to death, and the Jews could do that without getting permission from the Roman governor.

You remember when they wanted to murder the first Christian martyr, Stephen, they didn’t go ask Pontius Pilate for permission: they just picked up stones and stoned him to death. But when they wanted to use a method of execution that was not according to their own custom, that was a different thing; they were getting outside of the permitted sphere of self-government, and they had to go to the Roman governor for that.

So when they wanted Christ put to death by a peculiarly horrible method of torture; crucifixion, they had to get Pontius Pilate to do the job for them. You remember that when they were urging Pontius Pilate to have Christ killed, he said, “YOU TAKE HIM AND JUDGE HIM ACCORDING TO YOUR LAW.” But of course stoning; producing very quick unconsciousness, was a relatively merciful death; they didn’t want that.

The Sanhedrin was composed of three groups. First, the High priests; note that’s plural. Under the rule set up in the Old Testament there was only one high priest at any one time, because he held the office for life, and upon his death his oldest son succeeded to the office. Herod the First murdered the last of the high priests who could trace his descent from Aaron and could be legitimately entitled to it. Thereafter Herod appointed to the high priesthood a succession of scoundrels out of his own political following.

The job was never held long by any one man, and only a few months in some instances, before he was deposed and somebody else put in. The Talmud speaks of the almost yearly change of the high priest. At the time of the trial of Jesus there were about twelve former high priests around, along with Caiaphas who was then the high priest; so these made up the “council of the high priests.” In John 11:47-48, (and I am reading it again as it reads in the Greek):

“Then assembled the high priests (and that’s in the plural) and the Pharisees a high council and said, ‘What are we doing? Because this man doeth many miracles. If we allow Him thus, all will believe in Him; and will come the Romans then and take away from us both the place and the nation.’”

Now what were they referring to? They didn’t fear because somebody was going around, as your [Judeo-Christian - WM] churches give you the picture of Christ, meekly whimpering that people ought to behave themselves and be good. Christ was reminding the people that nothing they had in their existing religious or political system was according to the laws of God.

When Herod the Great died, he left Judea “by will” to one of his sons Herod Archelaus, to be king over it, as the Romans had confirmed the first Herod as King of Judea. But the Romans “were not born yesterday,” and they were not about to make an untried man king; so they confirmed Herod Arcelaus merely as governor for a test period. From 4 B.C., to 6 A.D., a period of ten years, he gave the people of Judea about the most miserable misrule that any nation has had in history.

Now remember that the Romans were hated as the alien conquerors who maintained rule by military force, so the people would not on any mere trifling ground of discontent as the Romans to take over the complete government. (Remember that it was the Pharisees who brought in the Roman military in the first place, to help them defeat the Sadducees in their war) They had been allowed (to keep them from being too discontented), a measure of local self-government. But this was so intolerable that the people sent an embassy to Rome, complaining of what Herod Archelaus had done, until the Romans put him on trial, found him guilty, removed him, and exiled him into Gaul; and the people asked that a Roman governor be appointed in Judea.

So the Romans appointed a series of procurators; Roman governors, Pontius Pilate happened to be number six. So one of these Edomite Jews had become so unbearable that people wouldn’t stand it any longer and they complained to the Romans and the Romans removed him. Now yo can understand what the high priests were talking about, when they said, “We’re not going to get away with our racket if we let this man continue educating the people. They’ll complain to the Romans until the Romans take the rulership of this nation away from us.”

This is the reason they determined to murder Christ; not because they disliked His religious doctrines. If He was just a meek man of sorrows, that your [Judeo-Christian - WM] churches try to tell you He was, the Sadducees wouldn’t even have bothered sneering at Him. But He was a threat to their power and for that they determined to murder Him. [this was the reason the US government had Vicki Weaver and her son Samuel assassinated; the reason for the Waco, Texas slaughter; the Atlanta, Georgia bombing, the flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland; the first World Trade Center Bombing; the shooting down of Flight TWA 800; the Oklahoma City bombing; the second World Trade Center Bombing, the murder of Gordon Kahl, Matthews and many others. - WM]

It is doubtful if at any time in history one could find such a collection of unhung scoundrels as these high priests who were part of the Sanhedrin at that time of the trial of Jesus. Among those we can trace is Simon Ben Boethus who was high priest for some period of time ending in 4 B.C., at the death of the first Herod. Joazar, who was the son of Simon, was high priest from 4 B.C., to 2 A.D. Eliazar, a second son of Simon Ben Boethus, was high priest three months in the year 2 B.C. Jesus Ben Sie was high priest from 2 to 6 A.D. Annas, mentioned in the Bible (that’s the first one before whom they brought Jesus for a mock trial), was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, and had been high priest from the year 7 to the year 11 A.D. Ishmael Ben Phabi was high priest nine years, probably 14 to 22 A.D. Eleazar was again high priest, 23 to 24 A.D. Simon Ben Camithus, 24 to 25 A.D., and Caiaphas from 25 to 36 A.D.

Also, there were a number of important priests that are largely related to annas who later became in their turn high priests and who were also in this “chamber of priests.”

Now the next was the “chamber of the scribes,” chosen from the Levites and the learned of the laity. One of them was Gamaliel, grandson of the famous rabbi Hillil who came from Babylon in 40 B.C. Gamaliel was the most brilliant of the teachers. Among his disciples were Paul, Barnabas and Stephen. He successfully defended the apostles before the Sanhedrin in the year 33 A.D., as you read in Acts 5:34-40. Others in the “chamber of scribes” were Simon, the son of Gamaliel; Onkelos, who was not Jewish by birth, but was a proselyte. He was the author of the famous Chaldee Targum of the Pentateuch.

Now a Targum was a paraphrase, a restating of the same meaning in the author’s own words. Of course a certain amount of paraphrase creeps into almost any translation, and a good paraphrase is sometimes pretty close to ta translation. Other scribes were Jonathan Ben Uziel, who was the author of another famous Targum, the Aramaic; Samuel Hakaton, Samuel “the less,” who was a bitter anti-Christian; and rabbi Zadok was another of the members.

The Talmud reports that rabbi Zadok fasted for 40 years so that God would not allow the Temple to be burned, and asks how could he have known that the Temple was threatened with this great calamity. They apparently didn’t seem to realize that he might have read Daniel and found out about it, or perhaps he heard what Christ had said, that was recorded in Mark 13:1-2. Another member was Johanan Ben Zakai who died in 73 A.D.

So these were the principal identified men in the Sanhedrin. Now in Matthew 23:2-7 Jesus scornfully said of them:

“The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.”

Now Moses was the law giver, you remember. It was through Moses they got the detailed laws. In other words, these were not contented to teach the laws of God as found in the Scriptures: the scribes and Pharisees were proclaiming some new laws.

“All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”

You see, in the Talmud all sorts of regulations had been worked out.

In the original theory for the existence of the Talmud, you can find a legitimate basis for it. Whenever you have to apply a law to a specific set of facts, you come up against the question: where is the boundary line of the law? What facts come within it and what don’t? For example, the law didn’t allow you to do any sort of commercial work on a Sabbath; which included the fact that you could not make a journey to another town on the Sabbath if it was for a commercial purpose, so that the morning after the Sabbath you’d be there bright and early, open for business. So they began arguing, how much can you lawfully do on the Sabbath? How far can you go on the Sabbath even for a non-commercial purpose?

The rabbis solemnly decided that one thousand paces was the maximum travel permitted on a Sabbath day; and that was put in the Talmud. In trying to split non-existent frog-hairs of this sort, they were getting all sorts of very burdensome regulations. So Christ continued:

“...But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogue, and greetings in the markets, and to be called by men ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’”

The rabbis, to show what they thought of themselves, in their own conceited self-esteem, established some rules which are found in the Talmud:

“If one opposes his rabbi, he is guilty of the same degree as if he opposed God Himself. If one quarrels with his rabbi, it is as if he contended with the Living God. If anyone thinks evil of his rabbi, it is as if he thought evil of the Eternal God.”

So they had a fully developed bump of self-esteem.

There was one more group found in the Sanhedrin: the “Chamber of the Elders.” This was the least influential of the three, but the least evil, also. These elders were usually chosen from the wealthy classes and as these were largely Sadducees, there were man Sadducees among them. In the “Chamber of the Elders” were Ben Kalba Shevuah, one of the three richest men in Jerusalem; Ben Tzitzith Hacksab, rich and effeminate; Simon, bold and courageous, also learned, who accused Herod Agrippa; Doras, influential and a cruel, treacherous conspirator; John Ben John, Dorotheas Ben Nathaniel, Typhon Ben Theudion, and Cornelius Ben Ceron; four ambassadors sent by the Jews to Emperor Claudius in 44 A.D. Also in the “Chamber of Elders” were Nicodemus and the other person we met in the Bible, whom we shall discuss at this time; Joseph of Arimathaea.

Arimathaea (now called Rhama or Rhamala) is a village eight miles north of Jerusalem. It was the first stopping place of north-bound caravans leaving Jerusalem. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all mention Joseph of Arimathaea.

Mark 15:43 speaks of him as;

“Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counselor (who was a member of the Sanhedrin), which also waited for the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 27:57:

“When the evening was come there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple.”

Luke 23:50-51:

“And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor, and he was a good man and a just one. the same had not consented to the counsel and the deed of them. He was from Arimathaea, a city of the Jews; who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.”

John 19:38:

“And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.”

The Bible does not mention the fact that Joseph of Arimathaea was a great “uncle” of Christ, but the fact is well known in the ancient traditions of Palestine. He was an uncle of Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was also a wealthy man, as the Bible tells you, because he was an importer of tin. (Now your King James Version wrongly translates it brass in most places. Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper; but a far superior alloy, bronze, is made of tin and copper. Now remember, there was the period of a number of centuries when the most important metal; outside of gold and silver for jewelry and money, the most important metal for any actual use as such was bronze)

There was a small amount of tin mined in Spain, but other than that, the known tin supply of the world as is mentioned in the Bible all came from Cornwall in the British Isles; and it is known in the early British chronicles that Joseph of Arimathaea, was the owner of some of the tin mines in Cornwall. He also had a fairly extensive fleet of ships in which to transport the tin and, of course, they carried other merchandise too; so he was a man of substantial importance. In the Latin translation by Jerome, which is the official Bible of the Catholic Church, it mentions that Joseph  of Arimathaea was called Decurio, which is a Roman title which they gave to an officer in charge of a mining district.

In the year 40 B.C., Julius Caesar had made some landings in Britain, and by the time of the Crucifixion of Christ, some 70 years later, the Romans had a very substantial foothold in Britain. So, among the Romans, including the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, Joseph of Arimathaea not only was a wealthy man but was a respected Decurio and recognized as such by the Romans: he carried some weight.

A number of ancient historians mention the trade with the Mediterranean and Middle East countries in tin: Herodotus, writing about 445 B.C.; Pytheas, about 352 to 323 B.C.; Polybius, writing about 160 B.C.; and Diodorus Siculus, writing in the times of Julius and Augustus Caesar, mentions it. The early ones reported that, in their day, the source of it was not known.

The Phoenicians had a monopoly in the trade in tin because the Phoenician mariners were the ones who found where the tin was mined, and they were such excellent seamen they could usually give “the slip” to any other ships that tried to follow them. There is a case mentioned by one of the historians, of one Phoenician ship captain who couldn’t shake off a Roman ship that was pursuing him, so he finally went into what he knew was dangerous, shallow waters which wrecked both his ship and the Roman’s. He deliberately wrecked his own ship so as to wreck the Roman’s also; and the grateful Phoenicians reimbursed him for the cost of his lost ship, because he had prevented the Romans from breaking their tin monopoly. But the Greeks finally found out, somewhere close to 300 B.C., and from then on the trade was opened up to more competition.

Diodorus Siculus said that the tin was mined and smelted, and the metal beaten out into thin sheets and cut up into squares. Then it was carried to the island of Ictis, which we can identify as Mount Saint Michael on the Cornwall coast; shipped across the English Channel to Morlaix in France; carried overland to the Mediterranean port of Marseilles, and then shipped from there to Phoenicia on the Palestinian coast. So we know now the background of the wealth and importance of Joseph of Arimathaea.

Christ was crucified about 30 A.D. ; and the Vatican Library contains a manuscript under the date of 35 A.D., which states that in that year Joseph of Arimathaea, Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised form the dead (and your bible tells you that the Jews were plotting to kill Lazarus too (John 12:10), he was causing people to believe in Jesus), Mary, Martha, Marcella their main, and Maximin the disciples whose sight Christ had restored (he had been born blind), and some others were put into a boat without sails or oars by the Jews, towed out into the Mediterranean and set adrift there.

This was reported by Cardinal Baronius who was the great Catholic Church historian. He lived between the years 1538 and 1607, and for some 40 years of that time he was the Vatican librarian in charge of the Vatican Library; and certainly had the largest collection of ancient historical documents in the world. Now Baronius was a very careful and exact man: he said, “Better to be silent than to let a lie be inter-mixed with the truth.” So what he couldn’t verify he didn’t write in his historical works. He spent some 30 years writing his ecclesiastical annals; and in those he quotes this Vatican manuscript which says that these people were put by the Jews into a boat without sails or oars and set adrift in the Mediterranean; that they finally landed at Marseilles.

Now the document would seem to indicate that the boat of itself drifted all that distance, which would imply a pretty high speed drift. While they could get along with scanty provisions, it is entirely possible that they were picked up by somebody else and landed there. Early records indicate, with the intense persecution that followed the Crucifixion and Resurrection, that Joseph of Arimathaea had been helping some of the most persecuted of the Christians to escape from the country.

Remember he was a big ship owner, and his ships were plying regularly between the Palestinian coast and the Mediterranean coast of France, and hence around into Britain; so undoubtedly he had carried a considerable number of them to the Port of Marseilles, because it is also know that in extremely early times in the Christian era a very substantial Christian colony existed there. So this same manuscript, of the year 35 A.D., says that Joseph and his company landed at Marseilles: from thence they crossed over into Britain and preached the Gospel there for the rest of their lives.

An important church historian, William of Maimesbury  also says that Saint Philip, one of the original twelve disciples (who was the apostle to Gaul, that today we call France), sent a group of twelve missionaries from France to Britain; that the leader of this group was Joseph of Arimathaea; and that one of the early British kings, Arviragus, gave them the island of Avalon close to Glastonbury, and twelve hides of land. (I think that come out as something like 1,920 acres). This gift of land to them for their settlement there at Glastonbury, and the island of Avalon, was given to them tax free; in perpetuity. Now you remember that when Duke William of Normandy (William the Conqueror) conquered England in 1066 A.D., as soon as he had the fighting completed, the next important thing to do was to see about collecting the taxes: so he sent a group of officers all over England to get a careful tax roll, the description of all the privately owned lands in England and what tax they had been customarily paying, and this was completed in 1085 A.D.

It is called the Doomsday Book, and it records that the Church of Glastonbury has in its own villa 12 hides of land which have never paid tax: so here you have official government history confirming this.

Cressy, another Church historian, a Benedictine monk who lived shortly after the Reformation and who had imbibed many of the traditions of the Benedictine monastery at Glastonbury where he had been for a number of years, records that Joseph of Arimathaea died at Glastonbury July 27, 82 A.D. St. Gregory of Tours in his history of the Franks, written between 544 and 595 A.D., Haleca, Archbishop of Zaragosa, the Chronicon of Pseudo Dexter, and other early historical recorders all unite in saying that Joseph of Arimathaea was the first person to preach the Gospel in Britain.

The Apostle Philip was by all the early church records recognized as being the Apostle to Gaul. The early Gaelic Church records call him the Apostle of Gaul. Isadore the Archbishop of Seville, between 606 and 636 A.D., (who was the greatest man in Spanish church history of his period, a very learned and voluminous writer) says,

“Philip of the city of Bethsaida, whence also came Peter, preached Christ to the Gauls.”

Julian the Archbishop of Toledo between 680 and 690 A.D., the last eminent churchman in Gothic Spain before the Moorish conquest in 711 A.D., says, “St. Philip was assigned to Gaul.” The Venerable Bede, the great, early British historian, writing about 673 A.D., says the same. Archbishop Ussher, a great student of Church history (in your Bible you probably find dates given in the margin, which dates are the dates computed by Archbishop Usser), and he says, “St. Philip preached Christ to the Gauls.”

Now it is worthy of note that there has been a mixup in your Bible in the understanding of it; not in the writing of it but in the understanding of it. You find a letter of Paul’s to the Galatians. Now who are the Galatians? Most of the [Judeo-Christian - WM] ministers say that refers to Galatia, a little colony of a few cities in central Asia Minor; central Turkey we call it today.

The Gauls were an early Keltic [Celtic - WM] people, part of the first migration of Israel out of Scythia. They moved across southern Europe and settled in southern France, and some of them crossed the Pyrenees into Spain, but the majority of them remained in southern France, the early name of which, as we know, was Gaul. Remember Julius Caesar called it Gaul or the Roman term of “Gallia,” in his history of his war with the Gauls, and the Greek form of the word was “Balatia.” Now while they were on the march, and fairly early before they had gotten beyond the Balkan area of southeastern Europe, some of them had decided to continue going west.

They crossed the Black Sea and landed on the northern shore of Asia Minor (or as we say today, Turkey) and moved into the interior; and it was called “Galatia” because these people were Gauls, but it was only a small colony of them. It is the same as if some of the Britons moved over into one of the little islands off the coast Britain: you would consider them Britons, but you wouldn’t consider them the major part. Now the Epistle to the Galatians, as a number of people including Archbishop Ussher have pointed out, was written not to Galatia in Asia: it was written to Galatia (Gaul) in France.

Paul has definitely been traced in part of his travels from Rome right up the Italian peninsula and over into Gaul on one of his expeditions there. Remember, twice in the Book of Acts, speaking of Paul’s journey, it says:

“I would have gone into Asia but the Spirit expressly forbade me to.”

The Spirit said, “You are not supposed to go out among these Asiatic. As Christ said, ‘I was not sent to any but the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ Those are the people I am sending you to: go on over into Europe where you will find them.”

[For Christ had said very clearly that He: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) - WM]

So it is a matter of record that the Apostle Philip went first to Gaul. It is also of record that he traveled on a number of missionary expeditions to other places and he was finally murdered over in Asia Minor. But that isn’t the kind of reception he got when he was in the real Galatia, in Gaul which was France.

In Britain the religion was that of the Druids, and to a certain extent the Druidical religion was known among the Gauls too, on the continent of Europe. It is slandered bitterly by the Romans: Caesar says that the Druids offered human sacrifices. He records their belief that a man can only attain salivation from the consequences of his sins, by the death of another paying the penalty for him, which is the absolute essence of Christianity.

In fact, the Druids were much clearer in their understanding of the entire Old Testament, including the fact that the Old Testament was prophetic of the coming of Christ and the New Testament; far ahead of anything known in Palestine, because they even knew the name of their Savior. They said, “The man who was coming to be the Savior, to die in our place, is named Yesu.” We know of course that the actual name of the One that today we call Jesus was the Hebrew and Aramaic “Joshua.”

Remember that Moses’ chief assistant, whose name is written there, “Joshua,” is exactly the same name. When they were just trying to make converts locally, they spoke Aramaic. All over the western Asia the most common language was Aramaic, which is a Semitic dialect quite similar to Hebrew though not identical with it. So everybody spoke Aramaic.

That is the language that Christ spoke in order to be understood by the people He was talking to. But when His people decided to branch out into Europe and go among people who didn’t understand Aramaic, learned people who knew more than just their local language, all through Europe and indeed to some extent in western Asia, was Greek. So if you wanted to write up the Gospels or some of the letters of Paul or something of that sort in a language that could be read by the better educated people anywhere you might send them, in Europe, Greek was the language to put them into.

For some reason, the native Greeks had so much contempt for all others, they divided all humanity into two classes: one was Greeks, who alone were civilized; all other people, even the highly civilized Egyptians for example were barbarians and unworthy of any serious notice. So they never bothered trying to get names out of other languages accurately. In the reports that we get from the early Greek travelers and historians, for example, of their visits into Egypt, there is not one single Pharaoh mentioned by them whose name would give you the remotest idea of what his actual name was, as indicated in the Egyptian historical record.

The Greeks just garbled up some collection of sounds and let it go at that, and so every time they tried to transliterate any of these Hebrew names into Greek letters they botched it up too. You remember that in your New Testament you never read of Jeremiah, you read of Jeremy or Jeremias. You never read of Isaiah, but it is Isaiah, and that sort of thing: Always botched up.

So when it came to Joshua they called it in Greek, Jesus, and they spelled it with the Greek letters equivalent to our English “Isesous” and pronounced it “Yay-sooce.” Now when it was put into Latin they simplified the spelling of it: they spelled it ether “i-e-s-u-s” or, as an initial letter “J” had the sound “i,” they spelled it sometimes “J-e-s-u-s,” but in either case they called it Yay-soose. Now when the first missionaries went to the Druids and said, “We bring you good news; Salvation, because Iesous has come and died to pay the penalty for our sins,” they didn’t have any preaching and converting to do.

The Druids said, “We have been waiting for this for centuries; we are glad to know it has happened. Now tell us all about it.” So it is recorded that the Druids sent an embassy over to Marseilles, after the landing of Joseph of Arimathaea and Lazarus and some of the others, asking them to come over into Britain and preach there (you can’t call it a new religion because the Druids already had it) and teach them now of the fact that all they had been believing and hoping for, over the centuries, was now an accomplished reality; and they did go there.

The British Prince Arviragus offered Joseph land and protection against Roman molestation, as the Roman emperors were already starting to try to stamp out Christianity. Even as early as the times of Augustus and Tiberius, they were beginning to deify their Roman emperors as soon as they died. A Roman emperor was then a god, with his own temple to be worshiped as such. Among the pagans, if they already had seventeen gods why not eighteen, no particular reason to complain about that, it was all right.

However, Christianity refused to recognize any god but the one true God, Yahweh. Here was political opposition as well as religious opposition. The Romans were hostile to Christianity, pretty much from the beginning, for this reason. Philip ordained Joseph of Arimathaea as the apostle to Britain. Then Prince Arviragus gave Joseph twelve hides of land, which amounted to 1,920 acres, at Glastonbury.

Joseph's son Josephus, went with his father to Britain. In the years 38 A.D. and 39 A.D., Joseph and his group of followers, built their first church. Among the Britons, when they didn't time to construct a stone building, or an elaborate one, it was common practice to build a timber frame to support the roof and all the roof framing. Then they filled in the walls with wicker, this was commonly known as wattle. Then the wattle was plastered over with clay.

The district near Glastonbury and this island of Avalon was a river marshland. Recently, during some excavation, some of these wattle huts have been dug up, quite well preserved. So this first church was a wattle structure, plastered over with clay. Later the outside of these wattle huts was covered with a thin sheet of lead, as a protection against the weather.

In the year 630 A.D., as part of the great monastery structure there at Glastonbury, St. Paulinus built over this first wattle church, the beautiful stone chapel of St. Mary's. This magnificent chapel was destroyed by the fire which burned down the entire Glastonbury Abbey in the year 1184 A.D. Up to the time of the fire, preserved within this St. Mary's chapel, was this little original, lead covered wattle and clay church. This is not myth, this is well preserved historic record.

Besides Cardinal Baronius, there was Alford, who was the other foremost Catholic Church historian. This information is based on his statements in the Vatican library. Alford also records that Joseph of Arimathaea was the apostle to Britain and the first to introduce Christian teaching there.

The Roman Catholic Church has tried to foster the myth that St. Augustine, who was sent from Rome to Britain in the year 596 A.D., went there as missionary to a pagan country to convert the British people to Christianity. There isn't the faintest word of truth in this, as the Vatican records themselves show. A long time before Rome could claim to be Christian, Britain was officially a Christian nation by government decree.

Augustine was sent to Britain in 596 A.D., at a time when the popes were trying to consolidate their power. The Catholic Church, as we know it today, was just coming into existence and the popes were searching for recognition. These popes were nothing but the bishops of Rome and there were bishops in all the important centers.

There was the Bishop of Carthage, on the shores of North Africa and the Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. There were bishops in other important cities in western Asia. Every time the bishop of Rome got to throwing his weight around and trying to give orders to these other bishops, they whittled him down to size by reminding him he didn't have any authority at all outside of Rome, they were running affairs in their own areas. This is all well‑known church correspondence.

Remembering the tradition of the times, when the Roman Empire governed all the then known civilized world, the popes were ambitious politicians. They were grasping for power, but they didn't have this power consolidated as yet. They sent Augustine to Britain to persuade the large and important church in Britain, to accept the supremacy of the Pope. This is all Augustine had to do with it, he didn't convert Britain to Christianity.

At great church councils of the Roman Catholic Church, the representatives of the various countries were accorded honor according to the date their country had received Christianity. The earliest that had accepted Christianity were recognized as the more important and entitled to greater honor. There was a great deal of jealousy towards Britain, on the part of some of the representatives of the other countries. Several times some of these other countries tried to be recognized as entitled to a position ahead of Britain. The Vatican's own records show that at the Council of Pisa, in the year 1417 A.D., at the Council of Constance in the year 1419 A.D., and the Council of Sienna in 1423 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church recognized that the Christian church in Britain was the earliest of all Christian churches. As such, the English church was entitled to be honored accordingly.

Joseph of Arimathaea introduced Christianity in Britain in the year 36 A.D.. Christianity, under that name, was officially proclaimed as the National Church of Britain by an edict of King Lucius in the year 156 A.D. This was done at Winchester, which was the capital city of Britain at that time. Tertullian of Carthage, one of the great early Christian writers wrote,

"The Christian church extends to all the boundaries of Gaul and to parts of Britain inaccessible to the Romans but subject to Christ."

The Roman records show that the Roman expedition to conquer Britain had as its principle purpose, the stamping out of Christianity. The Gauls were Christian, so when Julius Caesar went on his expedition to conquer Gaul for Rome, the Britains sent Gaul a lot of troops for their defense. Caesar's own records show that his first expedition into Britain, was to punish them for being allies of the Gauls.

Caesar was on this expedition something like three weeks. He returned with his boastful statement, "Vini, vidi, vinci. I came, I saw, I conquered." But Caesar's political opponents said, "I came, I saw, but I didn't stay." Caesar had been driven out in three weeks. Here was Britain, the principle seat of Christianity. The records of the Roman emperors, who sent their armies there to conquer Britain, show that it was primarily to stamp out Christianity.

The English, as well as Roman records record that the British put up such a ferocious resistance, the Roman armies never even got to Glastonbury. These armies were never able to molest the seat of Christianity in Britain. Sebellius, another early Christian writer, writing around the year 250 A.D., writes this.

"Christianity was privately confessed elsewhere, but the first nation that proclaimed it as their religion and called it Christian, after the name of Christ, was Britain."

There is similar recognition of this given in the writings of St. Jerome, the same man who translated the Bible into Latin. Jerome's Latin translation is the official Bible of the Catholic Church. Jerome wrote about 378 A.D., Arnobius about 400 A.D., Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople wrote in 402 A.D. and Polydore Vergil, an eminent Catholic churchman who wrote during the period of the quarrels between the Pope and King Henry VIII of England, all these writers are in agreement with each other.

Remember, these were Catholics who officially claimed that Rome was the source of Christianity. Therefore they weren't likely to forge lies to show that Britain was ahead of them. Polydore wrote,

"Britain was of all kingdoms the first to receive the gospel."

Britain's greatest early historian Gildas, writing about 520 A.D., wrote this.

"Joseph introduced Christianity into Britain in the last year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar."

This would make the time 37 A.D. or 38 A.D. Remember that Joseph didn't land in Britain until 36 A.D. Then he had to devote some time getting organized and then send his party as missionaries throughout the country, so these dates work out.

The Emperor Constantine, who was the first Roman emperor to even tolerate Christianity, was of British heritage. He was the son of a Roman father and a British mother; his father was the Roman commander in Britain at that time. Constantine was raised to manhood in Britain and learned a great deal there.

There is a legend about his battle, when he was trying to become emperor of Rome. The legend says that Constantine saw a vision of the cross with this motto, "In this sign conqueror." In 313 A.D., Constantine issued his first Edict of Toleration. This edict declared that the people of Rome were free to worship in any religion of their choice including Christianity, not excluding paganism.

It was quite a few years later that he made Christianity the official religion, deposing paganism. Constantine convened the Council of Nicea in the year 325 A.D., to compel the divided Christian church to agree on their doctrines. There was a great split in the Christian church at that time, so the Council of Nicea was convened.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy didn't begin its earliest formation until 350 A.D. For practically 300 years after this, the Bishop of Rome was not recognized as being the universal bishop of all Christendom. He was the bishop of Rome and Italy respected his authority, but other areas had their own bishops.

With Britain officially a Christian nation in 156 A.D., and the Catholic Church coming into existence by degrees between 350 A.D. and 610 A.D., we can see that Britain is where Christianity gained its first foothold in the civilized world.

In closing, it should be stated that history records that Nicodemus was in the group of people with Joseph of Arimathaea, who came to Britain after the crucifixion. (Taken, in part, from an article entitled “Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea” By Bertrand L. Comparet)

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