Michael Calum Jacques is an academic, published poet and a historian. He was born in Packington, Leicestershire in England in 1960. He was educated at Moorlands College and St. Andrews and Oxford Universities. Mr. Jacques received the William Watson and the William Darling Gutherie Prizes for excellence in Biblical Greek and Classical Hebrew. Besides English, he is an expert in Latin, German, Hebrew, Classical Greek, Syriac and Aramaic. He is the author of the controversial book ‘1st Century Radical: The Shadowy Origins of the Man who became known as Jesus Christ’. In his eye-opener, he exposes Jesus Christ as a first century political revolutionary who lead an armed insurgency against the Roman occupation forces. Besides writing, Mr. Jacques is also a professional rock musician, board game inventor and pirate radio broadcaster.
Michael Calum Jacques spoke to Outernationalist’s Moign Khawaja on the Christmas Eve about Jesus Christ and his impact on the modern world. Following is the transcript of the interview:
Q) Who is Jesus Christ, in your opinion, and why was his life so special?
I think that he was a ‘great’ person, in his own right; he attracted followers, that bears historical and critical scrutiny and he also took on the might of the Roman occupiers – that took a bit of courage. And he really did die, as an insurgent, for what he believed in. He was, truly, attempting to set ‘his people’, the Jews, free from Roman occupation.
Q) What elements did you mention in your book, that shaped up Jesus’ character, mindset and principles? Was it the upbringing in occupation that made him an angry young man or what some people call, a radical?
The present is the key to the past here. If you occupy another country and attempt to downgrade or to replace its culture, religion etc, you will, at some point, encounter a faction who are not simply going to ‘sit back and take it!’ Yeshua-bar-Yosef put together a cadre of such like-minded people – and what an impact they’ve had on history!
Q) If Jesus was a radical, how could he say “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matthew 5:38-39). He also says: “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52)? Do you believe these are his words and if they’re, what is the context of them?
If Yeshua ever really did utter the words of Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount as its popularly known as, then its intended recipients would have been exclusively Jewish. As a manifesto for life, it’s pretty good stuff. But could the same person really have been arrested, with followers armed with ‘two blades’ according to Scripture and crucified as an insurgent? He was certainly involved in a violent uprising against Rome, the New Testament is quite clear about that.
Q) As a specialist of 6 ancient languages and an expert on 1st century sources and history, what kind of society Jesus envisioned and struggled to establish?
Yeshua, I think, sought freedom of expression, worship and culture for his people, the Jews. He was unquestionably a religious zealot, an extremist, but sometimes it takes that type of mind set to tackle powerful opposition. Churchill could be termed as a democratic extremist, I suppose, but he was the right man at the right time to confront Nazism.
Q) If Jesus was against the Roman occupation and got killed while resisting the tyranny of the Romans in Jerusalem, do you think he will resist today’s foreign occupations in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan with same zeal and vigour?
I am confident that the Yeshua bar Yosef of history would not have taken it lying down. As a member of what the 1st Century historian and chronicler Flavius Josephus terms ‘The Fourth Philosophy’ he avowed that loyalty to God, Yahweh, came before any other allegiance, even family and friends. This man got his hands dirty, lived in a matrix of safe houses and caves, according to the New Testament and had even arranged to meet his band back in the Galilean mountains after the uprising at Passover.
Q) Both Christians and Muslims await the coming again of Jesus and joining them to defeat the forces of evil and establish their domination over the world. Do you personally think Jesus Christ will side with followers of one religion to fight the other? What in your opinion will happen if Jesus arrived today?
This is an interesting point. Like the Prophet Mohammed, Yeshua bar Yosef, was a historical person who experienced all the emotions, sentiments and desires that you and I experience. In the final count, it depends upon our personal view of Yeshua as to whether or not we believe that he would lead one religion against another. For myself, I would tend to doubt it, unless a religion attempted, by force or occupation, to overrun the worship of the Jewish nation’s deity, Yahweh.
Q) What characteristics of Jesus Christ attracts millions of Christian as well as non-Christian followers?
Unquestionably, faith in a Saviour. And faith begins not with manmade, later items of faith such as the ridiculous notion of a virgin birth, but where history ends, i.e. did the character Yeshua-bar-Yosef really rise from the dead? Was he seen by his followers? The original version of Mark’s Gospel appears not to have included any account of the resurrection and each of the other accounts differ significantly, so it’s really down to faith, not knowledge.
Q) Many people dismiss Jesus Christ as a mythical figure. How would you convince the non-believers?
This is a tricky one. If a person truly believes that nobody known as Yeshua-bar-Yosef walked the earth and was executed by the Romans I think that person may need to visit a shrink. It is their will speaking, not their brain, to be perfectly frank.
Q) It’s been more than 2 years since you released your book titled “1st Century Radical”. In what ways has it brought a difference in understanding the life and message of Yeshua-bar-Yosef? What things were missing that made you write this book and rectify the situation?
I felt it need spelling out. Other scholars like Brandon, Yoder etc, came pretty close but finally shied away from branding Yeshua as a 1st Century Radical, an insurgent, which he unquestionably was. Just read the Gospel accounts of Mark, Matthew and Luke; it’s all there in black and white.
Q) Many Muslims believe in most aspects of Jesus Christ. How do you see the consensus between the followers of the great Abrahamic religions and what would be your message to them in the light of your study of the Christ?
The fact that Christianity itself was born in an age of oppression, of occupation, should provide common ground for future dialogue between the world’s two great religions. And let’s make no mistake, they are both great and powerful. The Church itself has, through this means and that, recast the original, gritty Galilean, Yeshua-bar-Yosef, as a ‘Daz white’ creature without blemish; that is not the Yeshua of the New Testament but a human projection.
Q) What is your upcoming publication? Will it be about Jesus or Christianity?
I’m working away at a new rendition of the chronicles of Flavius Josephus, but that is a long, painstaking work. There will be a new version of 1stCentury Radical out next year, aimed principally at the US market but available everywhere. Hopefully, it will be a little more accessible for non-specialists.
Q) Is there any message you’d like to give to the readers of Outernationalist.net?
Yes, please, and thank you for the opportunity. The fact that you are a reader of Outernationalist means that you are prepared to take a look at both sides of the coin! I hope that your ‘equiponderance’ helps to provide you with a peaceful and meaningful Christmas time and with a successful New Year, whatever that may mean to you personally. The one thing we can certainly say about the birth of the Galielean, Yeshua, was that it was to have an impact upon the World. I hope you and I are able to have an impact for good in our own ‘worlds’.
Michael Calum Jacques’ book “1st Century Radical: The Shadowy Origins of the Man who became known as Jesus Christ” is available on Amazon.com. ISBN: 1438915748