If Jesus influences you, who influenced Jesus?
Have you ever wondered about the influences on Jesus? Who and what were they?
Obviously, we can assume that He grew up in a typical Jewish home. His parents certainly influenced Him. He was conversant with the Scriptures and the cultural advantages of the day. The give and take of family life (parents, siblings, and relatives) would affect Him.
The pressing question for centuries has been where was Jesus from age twelve to age thirty? Tradition does give a few indications. The best way to solve the mystery is to examine His words and deeds that are found in the Gospels.
Does the word “Zoroastrianism” sound familiar? It sounds like a disease, but it isn’t. It’s the name of a religion. In fact, it is considered the oldest of all recognized religions. Most scholars date its origin back to 3800 B.C. to 6000 B. C. The earlier date would make it 2000 years older than the time of Abraham. (1800 B.C.)
Religious historians have been able to catalog its history. The founder is Zoroaster and he lived in the land of Persia.. He was married and the father of four children. He and his entire family were tragically murdered.
However, he left two significant books, The Avesta and The Gathas. His basic emphases are contained in them. History records that Zoroaster was the creator or inventor of magic and astrology. Interestingly, the last letters of his name (aster) mean “star.”
Consider the first – supposedly – contact between Jesus and Zoroastrianism. Matthew records the Magi, from the East, followed a star and brought gifts to the Christ-child. Is this event accidental or intentional?
One of the major traditions about Jesus’ early life places Him in the area of Persia studying Zoroastrianism. This view is substantiated by the correlation between the teachings of Jesus and the views of Zoroaster.
A basic tenet was the belief in and the use of apocalypticism. It means “unveiling” or “revelation.” Around the time of Jesus there were scores of such writings.
Albert Schweitzer in his classic book, “The Quest of the Historical Jesus,” calls Him an “apocalyptical preacher.” Schweitzer’s view is based on what Jesus is recorded as saying in Matthew, chapters 24 and 25.
In addition, The Book of Revelation, and the Books of Ezekiel (chapters 37-39) and Daniel (chapters 7-12) have significant apocalyptical messages.
The Dead Sea Scrolls also reflect the Zoroastrianism influences. Most Christian scholars also believe that Jesus was influenced by the Essenes.
Basic expressions of apocalypticism are: a belief in an end-time conflict between good and evil; the use of figurative language like dragons and angels; they always reflect their times and that the end was near. So expressed in Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew and Revelation. The figurative language was used to confuse the persecutors. For example. In the Book of Revelation, Babylon was really Rome; the whore was Nero or Domitian (Emperors).
Another purpose of the apocalyptical writings was to encourage the readers and to give them hope that good would conquer evil and that God would conquer Satan.
All the major writings were in tough times for people and persecutions. The Assyrian and Babylonian captivities; the Greek and Roman persecutions.
Zoroaster’s message began with a belief in monotheism. He was the first in recorded history to assert this belief.
Other beliefs of Zoroaster as recorded in his books:
1. God is not about fear, guilt or condemnation.
2. God is wisdom, love and logic.
3. God does not have favorites or discriminate.
4. God treats humans with dignity and respect.
5. God is not jealous, wrathful or vengeful.
6. Man is not sinful, fallen or depraved.
7. Man was created to progress in likeness to God and to eliminate wrong in the world.
These beliefs give an amazing similarity to original Christianity. However, in no way do they diminish our faith in Jesus as the Son of God.