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"James, son of Joseph"...

Are the four Gospel historical documents?



Nobody is able to explain as really the Gospels have been written, if we limit ourselves to the information that are reached there.

We must examine more closely the four books, correcting translations. It is not our study that gives us the solution, but the Gospels themselves, with what they contain: everything that has been added or we add of ours clearly estranges us from the historical truth. Only at a later time we can use the information that we received from the second century onwards.

Also ignoring how the Gospels are historical, we have to acknowledge that nevertheless they would even exist, if they were not it. If, in fact, we read the texts without the various symbolisms - also all edifying ones - that have been added, we can notice that the content of the Gospels has only value if it is historical, because it is simple report, deprived of philosophical or theological considerations of whom has written. Except the prologue of John and some brief sentence here and there, everything is word or work of the Christ and not always the writers have understood the meaning of it.

The Church has constantly affirmed that the Gospels are historical reports.

We can affirm again it, without hesitation, but after having resolved a decisive matter: why the Gospel of Matthew, also almost all bringing what we find in the Gospel of Luke, is different from this in all the possible ways?

We simply answer that they have been the authors of the Gospel of Matthew to change a lot of things, and deliberately, for publishing motives.

Having said this, the whole rest will find suitable systematisation.

Considerations or questions?


who tells it?

"city on the mountain"

5th of August BC 17

sepulchrurn of James?

Apocalypse and Gospels

back to Gospels


To the origin of the Christian faith there are certified historical facts.


Everything therefore in the Gospels is historical, if we depart from the certified relation of John and of Luke, and nothing has been lost of what has been written about Jesus Christ in an authentic way.

These books are inspired by God, also in the keeping us the freshness of the events distributed in a "puzzle" of four pieces.


To support the way of reading the Gospels here suitable

it is not necessary to bring many reasons.

All it takes is trying to read them this way, and we realize

to come into direct contact with the witnesses.


What was enigmatic is clarified by the Gospels themselves, that can deepen this way without limits. This means that the Gospels really put us in contact with the historical facts.

It is not indifferent that the Gospel are historical books or are not it, because the facts that they reports are also fundamental for the one that didn't fully agree the message of Jesus Christ. As it is not indifferent that every Gospel makes more evident and precise what say the others three, or that instead, comparing them, result in endless matters.

Found the native point of view, what appeared enigmatic is clarified by the Gospel themselves, that can deepen this way without limits, because they really put us in contact with the historical facts.

When we read them the events are recomposed under our eyes, the two millennia that separate us from them disappear and we can space in the mystery of Jesus Christ. The alive Tradition of the Church is herself reinstated by the historical evangelical documents.


 The Holy Spirit operates in us

and drives us in the whole truth

taking from that historical facts  (John 16,14).


The Gospel of Matteo and Mark were published soon and they were teaching for the life of the Christians, while the Gospel of Luca and Giovanni remained as reserve, as gift and treasure of truth for the centuries.

Each time the Church has drawn from it, but today to rediscover the historical truth is essential and it can be effected in more complete way. To this Pius XII invited, already in 1943, with the encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu.  Sovereign Pontiff wished however that the commentators of the Sacred Writing didn't limit them «to expose what touches the history, the archaeology, the philology and similar other subjects», but that «mainly» they put «in sight the theological doctrine of every book or text around the faith and the customs». This is easier in the case of the Gospel of Luke and John.

Reading these two Gospel as an only historical report we find again the precise facts and, inside the historical facts, every thing that the Church has then taught and lived: Jesus himself teach and shows with his divine words and works in precise circumstances. It will be had to study, to compare, to explain and to apply them, but they are opened to every other circumstance, to the different places and even to the seasons.

Then the historical, archaeological and philological study serves to make more concrete the circumstances of that time so that it is very simpler to compare them with those of today, to understand in every moment what Jesus wants to teach us and to give us. The human situations repeat them since that time today in identical way and this allows us to draw from the Gospel divine teachings, very concrete and always new.

It is not a question of striving ourselves to lower "some Christian principles" in the "complex society" of today. We can relive in our daily life the adventure of twenty centuries ago, in all of her wealth. The story of Jesus is not quite monotonous or scheduled; rather it is example, in everything, for the people engaged in the most complex business. He, in fact, faced the most complicated situations.

His concrete work and word, in the real political, social and economic situation, didn't bring in effects damage to anybody, but it sowed an unimaginable benevolence that darkened the defects of the people.

The Holy Spirit discreetly and really drives us through the Gospel. The Immaculate Heart of Mary, with her grace of light, inspires feelings and attitudes worthy of her Child and appropriate to every situation.

Then all what is fundamental for the world becomes little thing, but it becomes also very surer.

The exceptional words and works of Jesus Christ, Son of God Creator, tells us what is necessary to know about the whole reality, particularly that the human creatures have a soul. They are true words and facts, therefore they make us really enter the truth, universal and effective, not uncertain as that the men reach, also the more wise.

I like to say that Jesus Christ, with his divine and human Personality, gives to us, today, the full sense of the reality, making us free, making us participating in the whole creation and impassioned to the people.

The person of Jesus Christ is the sure base, that many looked for and dreamt for the daily life, but unexpectedly he gives us the safety of an eternal life, that nobody would have imagined and hoped.


Giovanni Conforti

Renewed on November 25th 2004

On 5th ofAugust BC 17, was she born Mary?


It seems that Our Lady, on the 1st of August 1984, confided, in an interior message to the little girl of Medjugorje Jelena Vasilj, that his two thousandth birthday was to be celebrated on the following 5th of August. This is a message different from the others attributed to Our Lady's apparitions, possibly independent.

Do not worry, this information comes from another world. In this world no one that wants to appear scientific, accept it. The historians in fact agree that Jesus was born in BC 6 or 7, during the reign of Herod the Great, who would die in BC 4.

After the birth of Jesus took about two years before Herod died.

But as well Mary, in Medjugorje, made to understand that she had given birth to her son at the age of 10 years or less, which is highly unlikelyfor, both for the laws of nature, and for the Jewish customs. We recall that Mary had marriageable age, so she had to have at least 13 or 14 years.

Il messaggio sembra attendibile, perché è in accordo con la probabilità storica che Gesù sia nato quando Maria aveva compiuto i 14 anni.

The message seems reliable because it is in accordance with the historical probability that Jesus was born when Mary was 14 years old.

As it regards more directly the Gospel, the Lord has given us signs: the possibility of revising the translation of biblical texts (encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu), the discovery, by the Jews, of Gamla, key site to understanding the historical value of the testimony of the Gospels.

We need to "change the way" to read the New Testament, because the change promises many benefits.



Luke's introduction to his Gospel


As the original Greek, also the Italian translation of this evangelical step results difficult but, after having do her again she offers us many historical data.

«Since many have just begun to recompose a (official) narration about the events that have concluded among us, as they have granted us those people who since the beginning have been (of them) eye witnesses and official appointees of the the report, I have decided too, after having acquired exactly from top (to bottom) all them, to methodically write to you, excellent Theofilos, so that you see the certification about the reports that you have received by voice».

Luke 1,1-4


Luke, with this, reveals us that he was in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified and resuscitated, for which he had been able to follow the carrying out of the events.

Theophilos was a priest son of Anan, whom convinced Pilate to condemn Jesus to the death of cross. He was elevated to the dignity of high priest from the legate Vitellius in the year 37, when the emperor Tiberius died.

Tiberius, about AD 36, had tried to make to approve from the Senate a law that recognized Jesus Christ as a god, so that the Christians could freely adore him; but he could introduce to the Senate only in voice report and the law was not approved.

It looks like he had been really Theofilos to make to reach to Tiberius the in voice report and to him the emperor applies again to ask a test written by a public official. Theofilos, then, was addressed Luke. Here because Luke acquired what it was written «since the beginning», or it was sent to memory in fixed way (by Mary, by the acquaintances of John the Baptist and perhaps by others), or that he had seen himself.

When however the test was ready, Tiberius lived more and more retired to Capri and he could not make to approve that law anymore.



The Apocalypse, a prophetic look on the past, on the present and on the future


In the book of the Apocalypse (1,2) we find these words: «Revelation of Jesus Christ, that God has given him to make to know to his servants the things that have to happen soon, and that he has made to notice communicating her, through his angel, to his servant John, which has testified the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, how great things he has seen».

The apostle Giovanni testifies, so, that Jesus Christ made every thing in full accord with the word of God, on which the faith of the Hebrews founds her, but he has brought really a new reality, obeying to God the Father.

Did you know that the four symbols used for represent the Gospels are they in the book of the Apocalypse?

They are appropriate for denote the evangelists and their books, but they in the Apocalypse indicate probably the leaders of the "four regions" of Israel, that is the entire people.

The Apocalypse, written among the year 41 and the year 54 during the empire of Claudius, is a prophecy, because it uses the language of the prophets, particularly the symbols and the visions. John, through the suggestions of one «voice», sees the realization of the visions of the ancient prophets in the facts of the Jesus' public life and in the first times of the Church. Who is the «voice» that it inspires John? He is almost certainly Luke, because this evangelist had been able to hear from Jesus that, in the voyage from Jerusalem to Emmaus the day of the resurrection, «starting from Moses, through all the prophets explained them in all the Writings what concerned himself» (Lk 24,27). But Luke was also present when the Lord spoke «about the things of the Kingdom of God» (Act 1,3), included some prophecies on the future of the Kingdom in the world, up to the conclusion of the centuries.

The principal are: the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (year 70) that she was contained already in the Gospels; a «kingdom of thousand years» by Christ together to his saints (it could be identified with the historical period that goes from the 313 to 1302, in which the Church has also supported a politics responsibility in the world); afterward a such time in which left liberty have to the adversary of the Church and, finally, a «new holy city Jerusalem».

The meaning of the Apocalypse is all in the concrete, historical, interpretation of the ancient prophecies and in the prophecies of Jesus, «true words, of God» (Ap 19,9; 22,6).


The Apocalypse explains the job of the evangelist John


But there is also an interesting detail. The chapter 10 of the Apocalypse tells how and when the Gospel of John was written. Jesus had just begun to reveal (the «seven thunders») God's things, John, that was a 13 year-old boy, was ready to write what «the seven thunders» said. As «nobody believed» (John 3,11.32), someone suggested him not to write only, but to certify with seal his testimonies. In such way it also convinced the powerful leader of Gamla, the city where he had been to school, to have found really the Messiah. And from that moment to Gamla the leader and his people prepared them to serve the «Prophet that had to come in the world», rather they wanted «to abduct him to do him king». Still with ideas from Zealots, they began to believe in Jesus the Christ.

An ex-teacher of John began to transcribe on roll his testimonies. Subsequently it was done a copy of this Gospel for the young apostle.



"James son of Joseph brother of Jesus"?


Matthew 1,25:

«And (Joseph) didn't know her until she didn't give birth to a child; and he called him Jesus».


Joseph didn't have conjugal intercourses with Mary, until she didn't bear Jesus. But he didn't have subsequently even of it.

Matthew and his scribes don't worry to sustain that Mary has remained virgin always, quite because this Gospel has been finished approximately year 40: Mary was still alive, there had not been the assumption to the heaven, the attention had addressed exclusively to Jesus. What concerns Mary enters the Tradition some time after the editing of the Gospels.

To Matthew doesn't interest how Joseph has behaved afterward. He wants specify, without there could be a shadow of a doubt, that Joseph is not father of Jesus.

Mary didn't have other sons, even if the Gospels talks about four "brothers" of Jesus.
In fact the first two remembered by the Gospels, James and Joseph (Matt 13,55; Mark 6,3), were really sons of another mother, even she by name of Mary (Matt 27,56; Mark 15,47), bride of Alphaios (Luke 6,15; Matt 10,3). The other two, Simon and Jude, were sons of another Mary still, bride of Cleophas (that one of Luke 24,18.22 and John 19,25). The Hebrews considered brothers also the cousins and the near relatives.


News from the archaeology


On the 21st of October 2002 has been announced in a conference of the Biblical Archaeology Review the recovery of an urn of calcareous stone, long 50 centimetres, with the writing "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus" (in the writing, Aramaic, there are not commas).

The find would seem to prove that James the minor (called "the just") was son of Joseph, husband of Mary that was mother of Jesus.

Though the epigraph of the urn doesn't mention to Mary, we nevertheless remember what we said above: yes, the Gospels talk that James "the just" was son of a woman by name of Mary, but also that he was son of Alphaios. The "Mary" name was very diffused, as much as, when Jesus had put in cross to Jerusalem, there were four persons by name of Mary: Mary mother of Jesus, Mary from Magdala, Mary of Alphaios (mother of James and Joseph, or Joses) and Mary of Cleofas (mother of Jude and Simon).


How does clear up, therefore, the matter of the "son of Joseph"?


Simply supposing that this «James» (not "the just") was «son of Joseph (son of Alphaios and Mary, "sister" of the mother of Jesus) (that was) "brother" of Jesus».

If they had wanted to write "James Jesus' brother", they would not have inserted the expression "son of Joseph", that makes to pass in second order the prestigious relative with Jesus.

If instead we suppose that it was "Joseph Jesus' brother", the relative of this "James" with Jesus was little most distant and it could not be defined with different words as those were written.

Let's remember that the Church, apart any episodes, could live in peace to Jerusalem about thirty years and that the Apostles and the relatives of Jesus had respected and enjoyed "of the fancy of all the people" (Acts 2,47). It must be inferred that to Jerusalem the personage in matter has quite called "James, son of Joseph Jesus' brother".

Even the "James" name often was repeated in the Hebrew families.

Therefore the finding, if really authentic, would furnish us an archaeological evidence about Jesus Christ (it otherwise didn't have meaning to write "brother of Jesus") and about that "brother of Jesus" that was called Joseph (or Joses). It would tell us also that Joseph, "brother of Jesus" would have a son by name of James, about which we didn't have news.

Nevertheless the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in 2003, have shown that this urn is a modern forgery, engraved on an authentic work.



Four ancient books... But if they allow us to know exactly something of ancient once that concerns us today, they are of an amazing actuality.

The evangelical narrations don't have anything mysterious. As the Church has always affirmed, they are historical narrations. We can repeat it also today, after having specified that Matthew has published two "Gospels" and that, in the second, he has changed all what has been able, for publishing motives.

The mystery, instead, is the one of the Son of God, done man, that has taught and has operated according to the command of God the Father. The Evangelists have transmitted him intact to us: also they is to enumerate among the martyrs that the secret of Fatima us remember.

They lived and they have written in the same environment in which Jesus spoke and acted. Therefore, as more as we deepen their narration, we more participate to the facts happened two thousand years ago. The Gospels are "testimonies to Jesus Christ."

Mary was protagonist of the facts told by the Gospels and she also is witness in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. The possibility to see her again through the eyes of the three shepherd children of Fatima makes the whole evangelical testimony more vivacious.

We see in the historical reality of twenty centuries ago what the Charity of God done for us; therefore the Gospels relate the "Jesus' testimony" to his Father and to the heavenly  realities.


Initiative of a Catholic layman, Giovanni Conforti - Brescia - Italy.

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