Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Strange tales about Kashmir

Per Beskow is a Swedish writer, whose most well known book (in Swedish) is titled “Fynd och fusk i Bibelns värld”. In it, Beskow takes on and exposes various modern “apocrypha” about Jesus, including the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ and Notovitch's Life of Issa. I suppose “Strange Tales about Jesus” is either an English translation of this little classic, or a similar book for the international market.

The book at this product page, “Jesus i Kashmir”, only exists in a Swedish version. It's a pity, because it's both short, concise and highly informative. Beskow analyzes and rejects the ideas about Jesus put forward by the Ahmadiyya, a reform movement within Islam. The Ahmadis claim that Jesus survived the crucifixion, travelled to India together with Mary and Thomas, and is buried at Srinagar in Kashmir. Ahmadiyya's founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to have received this knowledge by direct divine revelation, but he and his followers have also attempted to prove their case by appeals to various documents and traditions. Beskow is highly critical of these sources.

“The Crucifixion – by an Eyewitness”, purportedly an authentic letter from an Essene brother written seven years after the trial of Jesus, was actually penned in 1849 by an anonymous German Freemason. It claims that Jesus only swooned at the cross. Nicolas Notovitch's “Life of Issa” is a 19th century forgery. Besides, it doesn't claim that Jesus died in India. It claims rather that he spent his “missing years” there. The Ahmadiyya's main claim is that a certain Yuz Asaf is buried at Srinagar, and that he is Jesus. Beskow demonstrates that the association between Yuz Asaf and Kashmir can't be older than the 8th century, and that the specific connection to a certain tomb at Srinagar is from 1770 or 1780. Besides, Yuz Asaf isn't Jesus but Josaphat from the legend of Barlaam and Josaphat. That would make Yuz Asaf a character based on the Buddha, not on Jesus. Some documents pointed to by the Ahmadiyya are downright suspect, such as a manuscript by one Mulla Nadiri and an otherwise unknown special edition of the Hindu scripture Bhavishya Purana, in which Jesus is referred to as “Yusashaphat” and placed near Srinagar…

I believe Per Beskow has conclusively demonstrated that the story of Jesus' travel to India after the crucifixion is a modern invention. Of course, there is one huge problem with all of Beskow's books. He never takes on the *ultimate* legend of Jesus. I believe it's called “the New Testament”.
Perhaps that's because the author is…a Catholic.

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