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Euro-Western scholarship and the case of peer-review journals

We occasionally get emails, either in response to this website or our book, Saving the Savior, to the following effect: "This is absolutely bogus! This is New Age mumbo jumbo! This is nothing but conspiracy theory! How come I have not seen this reviewed in any peer-review journal!!!?" There are several answers to this question, none of which have anything to do with the legitimacy of the theory of a post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ:

1. Ignorance
2. Bias (not our words, but noted by such people as Zacharias Thunday, Radakrishnan and others)
3. Fear (as noted by such scholars as Dr. James Deardorff)
4. Priesthoodism (We will explain)

Let's deal with each of the above one by one.


Here is a typical email exchange (TOJ stands for Tomb of Jesus, an abbreviation for a staff member of our website):

Scholar: "This is a bogus theory that has no basis in fact! This has been disproved a long time ago!!"
TOJ: "Please name the people who have disproved the theory."
Scholar: [No response]
TOJ: "Are you familiar with the Usool-al-Kafi or the Bhavishya Mahapurana or the Grugh Thams Chand?"
Scholar: "I am not going to tell you whether or not I am familiar with any particular document!"
TOJ: "If you are not familiar with this theory, then how can you call it bogus? And again: Who disproved the theory?"
Scholar: "This is obviously a bogus theory. It has not appeared in any peer-review journal!!"
TOJ: "Are you telling me that all knowledge has been examined by Euro-Western scholars, and that any subject must, of necessity, have appeared in a Euro-Western, peer-review journal in order for it to be considered legitimate?"
Scholar: "[No response]

I can go on, but I think you get the idea. The fact is that many people are simply ignorant of the theory of a possible post-crucifixion life of the man commonly known as "Jesus Christ." They often simply *assume* that the theory is an invention of the New Age movement, or that it is a "conspiracy theory." In some cases they are only familiar with the Nicholas Notovitch issue. And then they assume that it has been "disproved" by citing some European Christian scholar [whose name we're still trying to dig up] who visited Hemis and was told that the documents at Hemis monastery that record the sojourn of Jesus throughout Asia did not exist [Dr. Hassnain, Swami Abhedananda, and others visited there, and the monks told them that Notovitch *did* visit there, and he *was* shown the documents.] They are often totally unaware of the other elements of the theory, many of which are included here at this website.


This is a subject that one hesitates to introduce into this subject. But Zacharias Thuday ( Buddha and Christ: Nativity Stories and Indian Traditions ) put the matter well when he stated the following:

"The history of Western colonialism seems to have given ample support to Kipling's fear: 'For East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.' During the last five centuries of colonial expansion, the colonial powers were not interested in understanding the natives, their religions, and their ideologies. They were driven by crass materialism which sought to exploit the colonies without much opposition from the Christian moral code. This attitude is echoed in Kipling's doggerel:

'Ship me somewhere East of Suez
Where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no ten commandments,
And a man can raise a thirst.'

"Those of us who have lived with Europeans in India and the West during the colonial period and after know that most of them as a rule carry the 'White Man's Burden' (Kipling) and the conception of the Orientals as 'lesser breeds without the law' (Macaulay); like colonial masters everywhere, they were not accustomed to consider the Easterners as their equals. As Radhakrishnan's observation cited earlier points out, in general, Western scholars, though fascinated by Eastern wisdom, have always found it hard to admit that the West could ever have borrowed anything of worth from the East or the East was ever equal or superior to the West in their cultural accomplishments.

"This 'critical" myopia or misguided elitism is called 'Eurocentrism,' which describes a provincial outlook that focuses overwhelmingly on European and Western culture while giving short shrift of Asia, Africa and Latin America...

"One reason for the growth of Eurocentrism is probably that most Europeans share the Hegelian view of the East, which combines the Romantic glorification of the East's antiquity with the rejection of the relevance of it for the present." (pp. 10-11)

The emails we receive are often so full of this kind of arrogance that it is simply surprising, considering the fact that this IS the year 2001. The emails are written in a tone that suggests an *inherent* authority akin to a kind of divine priesthood [see the section below: Priesthoodism].

FEAR: Before producing the paperback version ( Saving the Savior ) of this website, we consulted Dr. James Deardorff. We felt that it was important to assemble a bunch of scholars, such as himself, with the idea of creating an anthology, thereby lending "scholarly sanction" to the subject. Dr. Deardorff was very blunt (refreshingly so!) and explained to us the following. He stated that the scholars of Western academia have an inherent fear of dealing with such controversial subjects--especially a subject dealing with a major religious figure such as "Jesus Christ." He stated that they did not want to risk suffering the ridicule of their colleagues. This caused us to recall our own reading in which we discovered that when the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) team was being assembled to study that artifact (1978), there were scientists who simply did not want to be bothered. Eventually a team was assembled and all the proper scientific protocols were put into place.

Dr. Walter McCrone is a prime example of precisely what happens when scholars get involved in such studies. He has now become the number one enemy of Christians (scholars or lay Christian) who believe that the image on the Shroud of Turin was created "miraculously" by a "burst of radiation" that "must have come from the resurrected body of Jesus." But in McCrone's case, the issue is not the image on the Shroud. Dr. McCrone studied the Shroud and claimed that he discovered that the red marks on the Shroud are actually paint, and not blood [we do not agree with him, but not out of any religious conviction. Heller and others have run scientific tests and drawn the opposite conclusion]. But the point is that Dr. Walter McCrone is virtually hated.

I once took my daughter--many years ago--with me to visit Dr. McCrone at his laboratory in Chicago near the Illinois Institute of Technology. I recall walking up a long flight of stairs. And, as I recall, at the top of the stairs was a bulletin board on which were various pieces of paper, etc. Anyway, I was very surprised that he accepted my request to interview him, and he even allowed me to tape this interview. He allowed me to come into his laboratory and actually look at some of the work that he was doing. Then he took me back out to that bulletin board to show me the **death threats** he hard received from fanatic Christians who wanted the Shroud of Turin to stand as a testament to their doctrine of the "resurrection" of Jesus, and who saw Dr. Walter McCrone as a very big threat to the realization of their dreams: that the Shroud of Turin act as a tool that could be used to convert people to Christianity.

I would imagine that Dr. McCrone has often wondered as to whether or not he should have entered the world of "Shroudies" (as those who study, or have some interest in, the Shroud are called) in the first place. But he seems to be one of a kind, as he has stuck to his guns, and continues to hold fast to his findings, occasionally appearing on TV specials about the Shroud.


Now this is where I might have to take off the gloves. And please excuse me if I get a little testy. Who on EARTH appointed Euro-Western scholars as the divine keepers of all knowledge!? That is what I would like someone to answer for me. Now, while they have, it must be admitted, perfected the scientific method, the question becomes why is it to be assumed that this priesthood [Euro-Western academia] must give sanction to all knowledge before that knowledge is to be accepted as true?

Many of us recall VERY CLEARLY when Euro-Western scholars *rejected* acupuncture; *rejected* naprapathy; *rejected* the very *idea* that environmental pollutants were destroying the rain forests or wearing a hole in the sky; *rejected* the idea of organic farming, and a host of other things that are *now* accepted by everyone. And what is interesting is that in *all* of the cases I just cited, the public was WAY ahead of the academic priesthood, oftentimes using *their instincts* to guide them. And those instincts proved to be 100% correct in *most* cases. At one time only "hippies" were advancing the idea of organic eating, and they were called "health nuts." Now there are entire chains of HUGE food stores (such as Whole Foods, based in Texas) that offer such foods, and it is simply an accepted part of everyday life for many people.

Certainly, if they ever become interested, they are very welcomed to call in their historians, linguists, cultural anthropologists, archaeologists, etc., for the purpose of examining this theory in detail. That is up to them. *In the meantime* it is simply not necessary for the REST of us to wait for 30 years before the Euro-Western academic society puts its stamp of "approval" on this theory. The scientific method is absolutely legitimate and should be respected. But *first* it has to be employed.

But it also must be remembered that some ideas cannot be so easily and precisely placed under a microscope. From what we have observed, this theory involves a *special* sort of detective work, and there are various pieces of this puzzle that are to be found from Jerusalem to Damascus to Nisibs, Iran, Afghanistan, Taxilla, Murree, Srinagar and even up to Tibet. Dr. Hassnain, for instance, has studied coins, paper documents, inscriptions on monuments, oral traditions, etc. Other people, such as Kersten & Gruber, have found other angles and other pieces of the puzzle.

And, though this is *definitely* considered a no-no in the "objective" world of science, there are those ordinary people, like you the reader, who say, "You know, now that just seems to *make sense* to me." Such "subjective" pronouncements, of course, are anathema in the world of Euro-Western academia. And this is because of how Western science and philosophy evolved. It evolved in such a manner as to *ignore* the multi-dimensional nature of the human entity, which is composed of mind, body and spirit. So such "hunches" or "feelings" were not allowed to be a *part* of the scientific method. Yet occasionally, despite the strict employment of the scientific method, the "subjective" experiences of scientists themselves often surfaced to become *part* of discovery. For instance, let us look at an actual example in history: the discovery of the structure of Benzene:

"'I was sitting at my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire, and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by repeated visions of this kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformations; long rows, sometimes more closely fitted together; all twisting and turning in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I woke;…I spent the rest of the night working out the consequences of the hypothesis. Let us learn to dream, gentlemen, and then perhaps we shall learn the truth.'-(August Kekulé, 1865, Quoted in Robert Thornton Morrison and Robert Neilson Boyd, New York University, Organic Chemistry, Third Edition (Boston, London, Sydney, Toronto: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1973), p. 319

There are, in fact, many such "subjective" examples in the history of science and discovery. The academic community *sometimes* stands as a sort of priesthood, like the old European Christian (Catholic) priesthoods that held knowledge amongst themselves and approved or disproved anything not sanctioned by them. Can science disprove this theory? It possibly can. Also, of course, it can possibly prove the theory. But what it *cannot* do, especially at this time, is speak in absolute terms about a theory that its people generally know very little about. Nor can it or should it stand as the final divine council, appointed [by whom?] to sanction all knowledge.

The Tomb Master


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