The Young Panther
Jesus the Nazarene
Was Jesus Christ a gentle prophet with a message of salvation for all mankind? Not according to Charles Vergeer, philosopher and expert on classical antiquity. In A Nameless Man, Vergeer presents Jesus as a Jewish nationalist zealot who laid claim to David’s kingdom and took up the sword against the Roman occupiers and the high priests who collaborated with them. Only after his abortive attempt to capture Jerusalem and his ignominious death was the way opened for a universal redemptive religion, largely the work of St. Paul.
Vergeer bases his daring interpretation on the Gospel of St. Mark, the oldest account of Jesus’ life. With great acumen he traces the contradictions in that Gospel and shows how Mark twisted historical truth. Behind the popular image of the peaceful and poor country rabbi who was condemned to death by his own people, we discover a rich and powerful man who becomes the leader of a violent Jewish resistance group. In The Young Panther, Vergeer continues his study with a detailed investigation of Jesus’ trial and the political interests involved. The atmosphere of terrorist religious expectations and of zealots at loggerheads with one another is reminiscent of contemporary life in the Middle East.
A Nameless Man and The Young Panther challenge almost everything Christians consider the revealed truth. Our Father was no prayer for peace but the battle cry of terrorist fanatics. Judas was not a traitor but the leader of Jesus’ shock troops. And Jesus did not face the high priest at his trial dressed in a prophet’s cloak but wore a purple royal mantle, for which the soldiers under the cross avidly threw lots. ‘The Credo would have baffled Jesus and Paul and would have been abominated as Godless by them,’ Vergeer contends.
With his impressive knowledge of political and economic conditions at the beginning of our era and his unflagging attention to what Mark keeps hiding in his text, Vergeer is able to lend great plausibility to his sensational interpretation of the gospel.