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Don Stewart :: Could the Teachings of Jesus Have Come from a Different Source than God?

Don Stewart

Throughout the history of the Christian church there have been those who have tried to explain Jesus' teachings by attributing them to influences He or the early Christians received. These include:

  1. Jesus went to India or Egypt and derived His teachings from religious masters in those countries.
  2. Jesus' teachings came from the Essene community, a group of ascetic Jews living on the edge of the Dead Sea who copied ancient manuscripts onto the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  3. Jesus based His teachings on the various "mystery religions" that were popular in the Roman Empire.

Did Jesus Go To India?

It has been argued that Jesus went to India or Egypt to derive His teachings from the various masters. The problem with this view is that there is no evidence Jesus ever traveled out of His own land. In addition, his teachings bear no resemblance with those of the religions of India or Egypt.

Did He Get His Doctrine From The Essenes?

The Essenes were a community of people who lived near the Dead Sea. It has been alleged that John the Baptist derived some of His beliefs from association with the Essenes. They also supposedly influenced Jesus. However a comparison between the teachings of the Essenes and that of John show they are contradictory in many aspects. There is no convincing evidence that the Essenes influenced either John the Baptist or Jesus.

Do The Mystery Religions Teach The Same Message As Jesus?

Before and after the time of Jesus there were various mystery religions in the Roman Empire. Some of these mystery religions had a concept of a dying/rising Redeemer God. It has often been alleged that Christianity is merely another "mystery" religion. However many of the mystery religions did not originate until after Christianity. Furthermore, the mystery religions did not deal with flesh and blood characters but rather with mythical individuals. As we have seen, Jesus was a historical person. There is really no comparison between them and Christianity.

These Are Representative Theories

These three theories are representative of what has been taught down through the centuries. Though the theories are different, they all have one thing in common; they deny Jesus' teachings were from God the Father. If this is true, then Jesus was not the Son of God as the New Testament declares.

They Lack Convincing Evidence

These theories lack convincing evidence to support their contention that Jesus "borrowed" His teaching. The differences between Jesus' teaching and these supposed sources are much greater than any similarity. No human source can explain the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus Demonstrated His Power

But there is a greater problem in proposing any of these theories. Jesus not only said His teachings were from God, He demonstrated that He had the authority to make the claims that He did. His miracles have been verified by eyewitness testimony. If He were only another religious leader then how was He able to perform the miracles that He did, including that of the resurrection?

Only The Gospels Explain His Miraculous Life

The issue is clear when it comes to determining the source of Jesus' teaching. An answer needs to be found by taking into consideration His miraculous life. Simplistic parallels that are drawn from other religions at the time do not in any way explain His teachings or how He was able to perform miracles.

Jesus made it clear where his doctrine came from:

My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me. If anyone wants to do his will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it was from God or whether I speak of my own authority (John 7:16,17).

He said to the people of his day.

He said to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world" (John 8:23).

Summary

People have attempted to attribute Jesus' teachings either by his going to Egypt or India, or having contact with the Essenes or being influenced by the mystery religions. Yet none of these theories fit the evidence. The teachings of Jesus cannot be attributed to anything else but the supernatural revelation of God. Jesus not only taught like no one else he did things that no one else has done. Consequently to attempt to compare Jesus and his teachings to any human source will meet with failure. His teachings came from above - not from this world.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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