The Urantia Book

 PART IV

 The Life and Teachings of Jesus

 PAPER 120

 THE BESTOWAL OF MICHAEL ON URANTIA

  120:0.1 ASSIGNED by Gabriel to supervise the restatement of the life of Michael when on Urantia and in the likeness of mortal flesh, I, the Melchizedek director of the revelatory commission intrusted with this task, am authorized to present this narrative of certain events which immediately preceded the Creator Son's arrival on Urantia to embark upon the terminal phase of his universe bestowal experience. To live such identical lives as he imposes upon the intelligent beings of his own creation, thus to bestow himself in the likeness of his various orders of created beings, is a part of the price which every Creator Son must pay for the full and supreme sovereignty of his self-made universe of things and beings.

  120:0.2 Before the events I am about to delineate, Michael of Nebadon had bestowed himself six times after the similitude of six differing orders of his diverse creation of intelligent beings. Then he prepared to descend upon Urantia in the likeness of mortal flesh, the lowest order of his intelligent will creatures, and, as such a human of the material realm, to execute the final act in the drama of the acquirement of universe sovereignty in accordance with the mandates of the divine Paradise Rulers of the universe of universes.

  120:0.3 In the course of each of these preceding bestowals Michael not only acquired the finite experience of one group of his created beings, but he also acquired an essential experience in Paradise co-operation which would, in and of itself, further contribute to constituting him the sovereign of his self-made universe. At any moment throughout all past local universe time, Michael could have asserted personal sovereignty as a Creator Son and as a Creator Son could have ruled his universe after the manner of his own choosing. In such an event, Immanuel and the associated Paradise Sons would have taken leave of the universe. But Michael did not wish to rule Nebadon merely in his own isolated right, as a Creator Son. He desired to ascend through actual experience in co-operative subordination to the Paradise Trinity to that high place in universe status where he would become qualified to rule his universe and administer its affairs with that perfection of insight and wisdom of execution which will sometime be characteristic of the exalted rule of the Supreme Being. He aspired not to perfection of rule as a Creator Son but to supremacy of administration as the embodiment of the universe wisdom and the divine experience of the Supreme Being.

  120:0.4 Michael, therefore, had a double purpose in the making of these seven bestowals upon the various orders of his universe creatures: First, he was completing the required experience in creature understanding which is demanded of all Creator Sons before they assume complete sovereignty. At any time a Creator Son may rule his universe in his own right, but he can rule as the supreme representative of the Paradise Trinity only after passing through the seven universe-creature bestowals. Second, he was aspiring to the privilege of representing the maximum authority of the Paradise Trinity which can be exercised in the direct and personal administration of a local universe. Accordingly, did Michael, during the experience of each of his universe bestowals, successfully and acceptably voluntarily subordinate himself to the variously constituted wills of the diverse associations of the persons of the Paradise Trinity. That is, on the first bestowal he was subject to the combined will of the Father, Son, and Spirit; on the second bestowal to the will of the Father and the Son; on the third bestowal to the will of the Father and the Spirit; on the fourth bestowal to the will of the Son and the Spirit; on the fifth bestowal to the will of the Infinite Spirit; on the sixth bestowal to the will of the Eternal Son; and during the seventh and final bestowal, on Urantia, to the will of the Universal Father.

  120:0.5 Michael, therefore, combines in his personal sovereignty the divine will of the sevenfold phases of the universal Creators with the understanding experience of his local universe creatures. Thus has his administration become representative of the greatest possible power and authority although divested of all arbitrary assumptions. His power is unlimited since it is derived from experienced association with the Paradise Deities; his authority is unquestioned inasmuch as it was acquired through actual experience in the likeness of universe creatures; his sovereignty is supreme since it embodies at one and the same time the sevenfold viewpoint of Paradise Deity with the creature viewpoint of time and space.

  120:0.6 Having determined the time of his final bestowal and having selected the planet whereon this extraordinary event would take place, Michael held the usual prebestowal conference with Gabriel and then presented himself before his elder brother and Paradise counselor, Immanuel. All powers of universe administration which had not previously been conferred upon Gabriel, Michael now assigned to the custody of Immanuel. And just before Michael's departure for the Urantia incarnation, Immanuel, in accepting the custody of the universe during the time of the Urantia bestowal, proceeded to impart the bestowal counsel which would serve as the incarnation guide for Michael when he would presently grow up on Urantia as a mortal of the realm.

  120:0.7 In this connection it should be borne in mind that Michael had elected to execute this bestowal in the likeness of mortal flesh, subject to the will of the Paradise Father. The Creator Son required instructions from no one in order to effect this incarnation for the sole purpose of achieving universe sovereignty, but he had embarked upon a program of the revelation of the Supreme which involved co-operative functioning with the diverse wills of the Paradise Deities. Thus his sovereignty, when finally and personally acquired, would actually be all-inclusive of the sevenfold will of Deity as it culminates in the Supreme. He had, therefore, six times previously been instructed by the personal representatives of the various Paradise Deities and associations thereof; and now he was instructed by the Union of Days, ambassador of the Paradise Trinity to the local universe of Nebadon, acting on behalf of the Universal Father.

  120:0.8 There were immediate advantages and tremendous compensations resultant from the willingness of this mighty Creator Son once more voluntarily to subordinate himself to the will of the Paradise Deities, this time to that of the Universal Father. By this decision to effect such associative subordination, Michael would experience in this incarnation, not only the nature of mortal man, but also the will of the Paradise Father of all. And further, he could enter upon this unique bestowal with the complete assurance, not only that Immanuel would exercise the full authority of the Paradise Father in the administration of his universe during his absence on the Urantia bestowal, but also with the comforting knowledge that the Ancients of Days of the superuniverse had decreed the safety of his realm throughout the entire bestowal period.

  120:0.9 And this was the setting of the momentous occasion when Immanuel presented the seventh bestowal commission. And from this prebestowal charge of Immanuel to the universe ruler who subsequently became Jesus of Nazareth (Christ Michael) on Urantia, I am permitted to present the following excerpts:

  

1. THE SEVENTH BESTOWAL COMMISSION

  120:1.1 "My Creator brother, I am about to witness your seventh and final universe bestowal. Most faithfully and perfectly have you executed the six previous commissions, and I entertain no thought but that you will be equally triumphant on this, your terminal sovereignty bestowal. Heretofore you have appeared on your bestowal spheres as a fully developed being of the order of your choosing. Now you are about to appear upon Urantia, the disordered and disturbed planet of your choice, not as a fully developed mortal, but as a helpless babe. This, my comrade, will be a new and untried experience for you. You are about to pay the full price of bestowal and to experience the complete enlightenment of the incarnation of a Creator in the likeness of a creature.

  120:1.2 "Throughout each of your former bestowals you have voluntarily chosen to subject yourself to the will of the three Paradise Deities and their divine interassociations. Of the seven phases of the will of the Supreme you have in your previous bestowals been subject to all but the personal will of your Paradise Father. Now that you have elected to be wholly subject to your Father's will throughout your seventh bestowal, I, as the personal representative of our Father, assume the unqualified jurisdiction of your universe for the time of your incarnation.

  120:1.3 "In entering upon the Urantia bestowal, you have voluntarily divested yourself of all extraplanetary support and special assistance such as might be rendered by any creature of your own creation. As your created sons of Nebadon are wholly dependent upon you for safe conduct throughout their universe careers, so now must you become wholly and unreservedly dependent upon your Paradise Father for safe conduct throughout the unrevealed vicissitudes of your ensuing mortal career. And when you shall have finished this bestowal experience, you will know in very truth the full meaning and the rich significance of that faith-trust which you so unvaryingly require all your creatures to master as a part of their intimate relationship with you as their local universe Creator and Father.

  120:1.4 "Throughout your Urantia bestowal you need be concerned with but one thing, the unbroken communion between you and your Paradise Father; and it will be by the perfection of such a relationship that the world of your bestowal, even all the universe of your creation, will behold a new and more understandable revelation of your Father and my Father, the Universal Father of all. Your concern, therefore, has only to do with your personal life on Urantia. I will be fully and efficiently responsible for the security and unbroken administration of your universe from the moment of your voluntary relinquishment of authority until you return to us as Universe Sovereign, confirmed by Paradise, and receive back from my hands, not the vicegerent authority which you now surrender to me, but, instead, the supreme power over, and jurisdiction of, your universe.

  120:1.5 "And that you may know with assurance that I am empowered to do all that I am now promising (knowing full well that I am the assurance of all Paradise for the faithful performance of my word), I announce to you that there has just been communicated to me a mandate of the Ancients of Days on Uversa which will prevent all spiritual jeopardy in Nebadon throughout the period of your voluntary bestowal. From the moment you surrender consciousness, upon the beginning of the mortal incarnation, until you return to us as supreme and unconditional sovereign of this universe of your own creation and organization, nothing of serious import can happen in all Nebadon. In this interim of your incarnation, I hold the orders of the Ancients of Days which unqualifiedly mandate the instantaneous and automatic extinction of any being guilty of rebellion or presuming to instigate insurrection in the universe of Nebadon while you are absent on this bestowal. My brother, in view of the authority of Paradise inherent in my presence and augmented by the judicial mandate of Uversa, your universe and all its loyal creatures will be secure during your bestowal. You may proceed upon your mission with but a single thought -- the enhanced revelation of our Father to the intelligent beings of your universe.

  120:1.6 "As in each of your previous bestowals, I would remind you that I am recipient of your universe jurisdiction as brother-trustee. I exercise all authority and wield all power in your name. I function as would our Paradise Father and in accordance with your explicit request that I thus act in your stead. And such being the fact, all this delegated authority is yours again to exercise at any moment you may see fit to requisition its return. Your bestowal is, throughout, wholly voluntary. As a mortal incarnate in the realm you are without celestial endowments, but all your relinquished power may be had at any time you may choose to reinvest yourself with universe authority. If you should choose to reinstate yourself in power and authority, remember, it will be wholly for personal reasons since I am the living and supreme pledge whose presence and promise guarantee the safe administration of your universe in accordance with your Father's will. Rebellion, such as has three times occurred in Nebadon, cannot occur during your absence from Salvington on this bestowal. For the period of the Urantia bestowal the Ancients of Days have decreed that rebellion in Nebadon shall be invested with the automatic seed of its own annihilation.

  120:1.7 "As long as you are absent on this final and extraordinary bestowal, I pledge (with Gabriel's co-operation) the faithful administration of your universe; and as I commission you to undertake this ministry of divine revelation and to undergo this experience of perfected human understanding, I act in behalf of my Father and your Father and offer you the following counsel, which should guide you in the living of your earth life as you become progressively self-conscious regarding the divine mission of your continued sojourn in the flesh:

 

  

2. THE BESTOWAL LIMITATIONS

  120:2.1 "1. In accordance with the usages and in conformity with the technique of Sonarington -- in compliance with the mandates of the Eternal Son of Paradise -- I have provided in every way for your immediate entrance upon this mortal bestowal in harmony with the plans formulated by you and placed in my keeping by Gabriel. You will grow up on Urantia as a child of the realm, complete your human education -- all the while subject to the will of your Paradise Father -- live your life on Urantia as you have determined, terminate your planetary sojourn, and prepare for ascension to your Father to receive from him the supreme sovereignty of your universe.

  120:2.2 "2. Apart from your earth mission and your universe revelation, but incidental to both, I counsel that you assume, after you are sufficiently self-conscious of your divine identity, the additional task of technically terminating the Lucifer rebellion in the system of Satania, and that you do all this as the Son of Man; thus, as a mortal creature of the realm, in weakness made powerful by faith-submission to the will of your Father, I suggest that you graciously achieve all you have repeatedly declined arbitrarily to accomplish by power and might when you were so endowed at the time of the inception of this sinful and unjustified rebellion. I would regard it as a fitting climax of your mortal bestowal if you should return to us as the Son of Man, Planetary Prince of Urantia, as well as the Son of God, supreme sovereign of your universe. As a mortal man, the lowest type of intelligent creature in Nebadon, meet and adjudicate the blasphemous pretensions of Caligastia and Lucifer and, in your assumed humble estate, forever end the shameful misrepresentations of these fallen children of light. Having steadfastly declined to discredit these rebels through the exercise of your creator prerogatives, now it would be fitting that you should, in the likeness of the lowest creatures of your creation, wrest dominion from the hands of these fallen Sons; and so would your whole local universe in all fairness clearly and forever recognize the justice of your doing in the role of mortal flesh those things which mercy admonished you not to do by the power of arbitrary authority. And having thus by your bestowal established the possibility of the sovereignty of the Supreme in Nebadon, you will in effect have brought to a close the unadjudicated affairs of all preceding insurrections, notwithstanding the greater or lesser time lag involved in the realization of this achievement. By this act the pending dissensions of your universe will be in substance liquidated. And with the subsequent endowment of supreme sovereignty over your universe, similar challenges to your authority can never recur in any part of your great personal creation.

  120:2.3 "3. When you have succeeded in terminating the Urantia secession, as you undoubtedly will, I counsel you to accept from Gabriel the conference of the title of `Planetary Prince of Urantia' as the eternal recognition by your universe of your final bestowal experience; and that you further do any and all things, consistent with the purport of your bestowal, to atone for the sorrow and confusion brought upon Urantia by the Caligastia betrayal and the subsequent Adamic default.

  120:2.4 "4. In accordance with your request, Gabriel and all concerned will co-operate with you in the expressed desire to end your Urantia bestowal with the pronouncement of a dispensational judgment of the realm, accompanied by the termination of an age, the resurrection of the sleeping mortal survivors, and the establishment of the dispensation of the bestowed Spirit of Truth.

  120:2.5 "5. As concerns the planet of your bestowal and the immediate generation of men living thereon at the time of your mortal sojourn, I counsel you to function largely in the role of a teacher. Give attention, first, to the liberation and inspiration of man's spiritual nature. Next, illuminate the darkened human intellect, heal the souls of men, and emancipate their minds from age-old fears. And then, in accordance with your mortal wisdom, minister to the physical well-being and material comfort of your brothers in the flesh. Live the ideal religious life for the inspiration and edification of all your universe.

  120:2.6 "6. On the planet of your bestowal, set rebellion-segregated man spiritually free. On Urantia, make a further contribution to the sovereignty of the Supreme, thus extending the establishment of this sovereignty throughout the broad domains of your personal creation. In this, your material bestowal in the likeness of the flesh, you are about to experience the final enlightenment of a time-space Creator, the dual experience of working within the nature of man with the will of your Paradise Father. In your temporal life the will of the finite creature and the will of the infinite Creator are to become as one, even as they are also uniting in the evolving Deity of the Supreme Being. Pour out upon the planet of your bestowal the Spirit of Truth and thus make all normal mortals on that isolated sphere immediately and fully accessible to the ministry of the segregated presence of our Paradise Father, the Thought Adjusters of the realms.

  120:2.7 "7. In all that you may perform on the world of your bestowal, bear constantly in mind that you are living a life for the instruction and edification of all your universe. You are bestowing this life of mortal incarnation upon Urantia, but you are to live such a life for the spiritual inspiration of every human and superhuman intelligence that has lived, now exists, or may yet live on every inhabited world which has formed, now forms, or may yet form a part of the vast galaxy of your administrative domain. Your earth life in the likeness of mortal flesh shall not be so lived as to constitute an example for the mortals of Urantia in the days of your earthly sojourn nor for any subsequent generation of human beings on Urantia or on any other world. Rather shall your life in the flesh on Urantia be the inspiration for all lives upon all Nebadon worlds throughout all generations in the ages to come.

  120:2.8 "8. Your great mission to be realized and experienced in the mortal incarnation is embraced in your decision to live a life wholeheartedly motivated to do the will of your Paradise Father, thus to reveal God, your Father, in the flesh and especially to the creatures of the flesh. At the same time you will also interpret, with a new enhancement, our Father, to the supermortal beings of all Nebadon. Equally with this ministry of new revelation and augmented interpretation of the Paradise Father to the human and the superhuman type of mind, you will also so function as to make a new revelation of man to God. Exhibit in your one short life in the flesh, as it has never before been seen in all Nebadon, the transcendent possibilities attainable by a God-knowing human during the short career of mortal existence, and make a new and illuminating interpretation of man and the vicissitudes of his planetary life to all the superhuman intelligences of all Nebadon, and for all time. You are to go down to Urantia in the likeness of mortal flesh, and living as a man in your day and generation, you will so function as to show your entire universe the ideal of perfected technique in the supreme engagement of the affairs of your vast creation: The achievement of God seeking man and finding him and the phenomenon of man seeking God and finding him; and doing all of this to mutual satisfaction and doing it during one short lifetime in the flesh.

  120:2.9 "9. I caution you ever to bear in mind that, while in fact you are to become an ordinary human of the realm, in potential you will remain a Creator Son of the Paradise Father. Throughout this incarnation, although you will live and act as a Son of Man, the creative attributes of your personal divinity will follow you from Salvington to Urantia. It will ever be within your power-of-will to terminate the incarnation at any moment subsequent to the arrival of your Thought Adjuster. Prior to the arrival and reception of the Adjuster I will vouch for your personality integrity. But subsequent to the arrival of your Adjuster and concomitant with your progressive recognition of the nature and import of your bestowal mission, you should refrain from the formulation of any superhuman will-to-attainment, achievement, or power in view of the fact that your creator prerogatives will remain associated with your mortal personality because of the inseparability of these attributes from your personal presence. But no superhuman repercussions will attend your earthly career apart from the will of the Paradise Father unless you should, by an act of conscious and deliberate will, make an undivided decision which would terminate in whole-personality choice.

 

  

3. FURTHER COUNSEL AND ADVICE

  120:3.1 "And now, my brother, in taking leave of you as you prepare to depart for Urantia and after counseling you regarding the general conduct of your bestowal, allow me to present certain advices that have been arrived at in consultation with Gabriel, and which concern minor phases of your mortal life. We further suggest:

  120:3.2 "1. That, in the pursuit of the ideal of your mortal earth life, you also give some attention to the realization and exemplification of some things practical and immediately helpful to your fellow men.

  120:3.3 "2. As concerns family relationships, give precedence to the accepted customs of family life as you find them established in the day and generation of your bestowal. Live your family and community life in accordance with the practices of the people among whom you have elected to appear.

  120:3.4 "3. In your relations to the social order we advise that you confine your efforts largely to spiritual regeneration and intellectual emancipation. Avoid all entanglements with the economic structure and the political commitments of your day. More especially devote yourself to living the ideal religious life on Urantia.

  120:3.5 "4. Under no circumstances and not even in the least detail, should you interfere with the normal and orderly progressive evolution of the Urantia races. But this prohibition must not be interpreted as limiting your efforts to leave behind you on Urantia an enduring and improved system of positive religious ethics. As a dispensational Son you are granted certain privileges pertaining to the advancement of the spiritual and religious status of the world peoples.

  120:3.6 "5. As you may see fit, you are to identify yourself with existing religious and spiritual movements as they may be found on Urantia but in every possible manner seek to avoid the formal establishment of an organized cult, a crystallized religion, or a segregated ethical grouping of mortal beings. Your life and teachings are to become the common heritage of all religions and all peoples.

  120:3.7 "6. To the end that you may not unnecessarily contribute to the creation of subsequent stereotyped systems of Urantia religious beliefs or other types of nonprogressive religious loyalties, we advise you still further: Leave no writings behind you on the planet. Refrain from all writing upon permanent materials; enjoin your associates to make no images or other likenesses of yourself in the flesh. See that nothing potentially idolatrous is left on the planet at the time of your departure.

  120:3.8 "7. While you will live the normal and average social life of the planet, being a normal individual of the male sex, you will probably not enter the marriage relation, which relation would be wholly honorable and consistent with your bestowal; but I must remind you that one of the incarnation mandates of Sonarington forbids the leaving of human offspring behind on any planet by a bestowal Son of Paradise origin.

  120:3.9 "8. In all other details of your oncoming bestowal we would commit you to the leading of the indwelling Adjuster, the teaching of the ever-present divine spirit of human guidance, and the reason-judgment of your expanding human mind of hereditary endowment. Such an association of creature and Creator attributes will enable you to live for us the perfect life of man on the planetary spheres, not necessarily perfect as regarded by any one man in any one generation on any one world (much less on Urantia) but wholly and supremely replete as evaluated on the more highly perfected and perfecting worlds of your far-flung universe.

  120:3.10 "And now, may your Father and my Father, who has ever sustained us in all past performances, guide and sustain you and be with you from the moment you leave us and achieve the surrender of your consciousness of personality, throughout your gradual return to recognition of your divine identity incarnate in human form, and then on through the whole of your bestowal experience on Urantia until your deliverance from the flesh and your ascension to our Father's right hand of sovereignty. When I shall again see you on Salvington, we shall welcome your return to us as the supreme and unconditional sovereign of this universe of your own making, serving, and completed understanding.

  120:3.11 "In your stead I now reign. I assume jurisdiction of all Nebadon as acting sovereign during the interim of your seventh and mortal bestowal on Urantia. And to you, Gabriel, I commit the safekeeping of the Son of Man about-to-be until he shall presently and in power and glory be returned to me as the Son of Man and the Son of God. And, Gabriel, I am your sovereign until Michael thus returns."

 

 ***

  120:3.12 Then, immediately, in the presence of all Salvington assembled, Michael removed himself from our midst, and we saw him no more in his accustomed place until his return as the supreme and personal ruler of the universe, subsequent to the completion of his bestowal career on Urantia.

 

  

4. THE INCARNATION -- MAKING TWO ONE

  120:4.1 And so certain unworthy children of Michael, who had accused their Creator-father of selfishly seeking rulership and indulged the insinuation that the Creator Son was arbitrarily and autocratically upheld in power by virtue of the unreasoning loyalty of a deluded universe of subservient creatures, were to be silenced forever and left confounded and disillusioned by the life of self-forgetful service which the Son of God now entered upon as the Son of Man -- all the while subject to "the will of the Paradise Father."

  120:4.2 But make no mistake; Christ Michael, while truly a dual-origin being, was not a double personality. He was not God in association with man but, rather, God incarnate in man. And he was always just that combined being. The only progressive factor in such a nonunderstandable relationship was the progressive self-conscious realization and recognition (by the human mind) of this fact of being God and man.

  120:4.3 Christ Michael did not progressively become God. God did not, at some vital moment in the earth life of Jesus, become man. Jesus was God and man -- always and even forevermore. And this God and this man were, and now are, one, even as the Paradise Trinity of three beings is in reality one Deity.

  120:4.4 Never lose sight of the fact that the supreme spiritual purpose of the Michael bestowal was to enhance the revelation of God.

  120:4.5 Urantia mortals have varying concepts of the miraculous, but to us who live as citizens of the local universe there are few miracles, and of these by far the most intriguing are the incarnational bestowals of the Paradise Sons. The appearance in and on your world, by apparently natural processes, of a divine Son, we regard as a miracle -- the operation of universal laws beyond our understanding. Jesus of Nazareth was a miraculous person.

  120:4.6 In and through all this extraordinary experience, God the Father chose to manifest himself as he always does -- in the usual way -- in the normal, natural, and dependable way of divine acting.

 



 PAPER 121

 THE TIMES OF MICHAEL'S BESTOWAL

 

  121:0.1 ACTING under the supervision of a commission of twelve members of the United Brotherhood of Urantia Midwayers, conjointly sponsored by the presiding head of our order and the Melchizedek of record, I am the secondary midwayer of onetime attachment to the Apostle Andrew, and I am authorized to place on record the narrative of the life transactions of Jesus of Nazareth as they were observed by my order of earth creatures, and as they were subsequently partially recorded by the human subject of my temporal guardianship. Knowing how his Master so scrupulously avoided leaving written records behind him, Andrew steadfastly refused to multiply copies of his written narrative. A similar attitude on the part of the other apostles of Jesus greatly delayed the writing of the Gospels.

 

  

1. THE OCCIDENT OF THE FIRST CENTURY AFTER CHRIST

  121:1.1 Jesus did not come to this world during an age of spiritual decadence; at the time of his birth Urantia was experiencing such a revival of spiritual thinking and religious living as it had not known in all its previous post-Adamic history nor has experienced in any era since. When Michael incarnated on Urantia, the world presented the most favorable condition for the Creator Son's bestowal that had ever previously prevailed or has since obtained. In the centuries just prior to these times Greek culture and the Greek language had spread over Occident and near Orient, and the Jews, being a Levantine race, in nature part Occidental and part Oriental, were eminently fitted to utilize such cultural and linguistic settings for the effective spread of a new religion to both East and West. These most favorable circumstances were further enhanced by the tolerant political rule of the Mediterranean world by the Romans.

  121:1.2 This entire combination of world influences is well illustrated by the activities of Paul, who, being in religious culture a Hebrew of the Hebrews, proclaimed the gospel of a Jewish Messiah in the Greek tongue, while he himself was a Roman citizen.

  121:1.3 Nothing like the civilization of the times of Jesus has been seen in the Occident before or since those days. European civilization was unified and co-ordinated under an extraordinary threefold influence:

1. The Roman political and social systems.

2. The Grecian language and culture -- and philosophy to a certain extent.

3. The rapidly spreading influence of Jewish religious and moral teachings.

  121:1.4 When Jesus was born, the entire Mediterranean world was a unified empire. Good roads, for the first time in the world's history, interconnected many major centers. The seas were cleared of pirates, and a great era of trade and travel was rapidly advancing. Europe did not again enjoy another such period of travel and trade until the nineteenth century after Christ.

  121:1.5 Notwithstanding the internal peace and superficial prosperity of the Greco-Roman world, a majority of the inhabitants of the empire languished in squalor and poverty. The small upper class was rich; a miserable and impoverished lower class embraced the rank and file of humanity. There was no happy and prosperous middle class in those days; it had just begun to make its appearance in Roman society.

  121:1.6 The first struggles between the expanding Roman and Parthian states had been concluded in the then recent past, leaving Syria in the hands of the Romans. In the times of Jesus, Palestine and Syria were enjoying a period of prosperity, relative peace, and extensive commercial intercourse with the lands to both the East and the West.

 

  

2. THE JEWISH PEOPLE

  121:2.1 The Jews were a part of the older Semitic race, which also included the Babylonians, the Phoenicians, and the more recent enemies of Rome, the Carthaginians. During the fore part of the first century after Christ, the Jews were the most influential group of the Semitic peoples, and they happened to occupy a peculiarly strategic geographic position in the world as it was at that time ruled and organized for trade.

  121:2.2 Many of the great highways joining the nations of antiquity passed through Palestine, which thus became the meeting place, or crossroads, of three continents. The travel, trade, and armies of Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Parthia, and Rome successively swept over Palestine. From time immemorial, many caravan routes from the Orient passed through some part of this region to the few good seaports of the eastern end of the Mediterranean, whence ships carried their cargoes to all the maritime Occident. And more than half of this caravan traffic passed through or near the little town of Nazareth in Galilee.

  121:2.3 Although Palestine was the home of Jewish religious culture and the birthplace of Christianity, the Jews were abroad in the world, dwelling in many nations and trading in every province of the Roman and Parthian states.

  121:2.4 Greece provided a language and a culture, Rome built the roads and unified an empire, but the dispersion of the Jews, with their more than two hundred synagogues and well-organized religious communities scattered hither and yon throughout the Roman world, provided the cultural centers in which the new gospel of the kingdom of heaven found initial reception, and from which it subsequently spread to the uttermost parts of the world.

  121:2.5 Each Jewish synagogue tolerated a fringe of gentile believers, "devout" or "God-fearing" men, and it was among this fringe of proselytes that Paul made the bulk of his early converts to Christianity. Even the temple at Jerusalem possessed its ornate court of the gentiles. There was very close connection between the culture, commerce, and worship of Jerusalem and Antioch. In Antioch Paul's disciples were first called "Christians."

  121:2.6 The centralization of the Jewish temple worship at Jerusalem constituted alike the secret of the survival of their monotheism and the promise of the nurture and sending forth to the world of a new and enlarged concept of that one God of all nations and Father of all mortals. The temple service at Jerusalem represented the survival of a religious cultural concept in the face of the downfall of a succession of gentile national overlords and racial persecutors.

 

  121:2.7 The Jewish people of this time, although under Roman suzerainty, enjoyed a considerable degree of self-government and, remembering the then only recent heroic exploits of deliverance executed by Judas Maccabee and his immediate successors, were vibrant with the expectation of the immediate appearance of a still greater deliverer, the long-expected Messiah.

  121:2.8 The secret of the survival of Palestine, the kingdom of the Jews, as a semi-independent state was wrapped up in the foreign policy of the Roman government, which desired to maintain control of the Palestinian highway of travel between Syria and Egypt as well as the western terminals of the caravan routes between the Orient and the Occident. Rome did not wish any power to arise in the Levant which might curb her future expansion in these regions. The policy of intrigue which had for its object the pitting of Seleucid Syria and Ptolemaic Egypt against each other necessitated fostering Palestine as a separate and independent state. Roman policy, the degeneration of Egypt, and the progressive weakening of the Seleucids before the rising power of Parthia, explain why it was that for several generations a small and unpowerful group of Jews was able to maintain its independence against both Seleucidae to the north and Ptolemies to the south. This fortuitous liberty and independence of the political rule of surrounding and more powerful peoples the Jews attributed to the fact that they were the "chosen people," to the direct interposition of Yahweh. Such an attitude of racial superiority made it all the harder for them to endure Roman suzerainty when it finally fell upon their land. But even in that sad hour the Jews refused to learn that their world mission was spiritual, not political.

 

  121:2.9 The Jews were unusually apprehensive and suspicious during the times of Jesus because they were then ruled by an outsider, Herod the Idumean, who had seized the overlordship of Judea by cleverly ingratiating himself with the Roman rulers. And though Herod professed loyalty to the Hebrew ceremonial observances, he proceeded to build temples for many strange gods.

  121:2.10 The friendly relations of Herod with the Roman rulers made the world safe for Jewish travel and thus opened the way for increased Jewish penetration even of distant portions of the Roman Empire and of foreign treaty nations with the new gospel of the kingdom of heaven. Herod's reign also contributed much toward the further blending of Hebrew and Hellenistic philosophies.

  121:2.11 Herod built the harbor of Caesarea, which further aided in making Palestine the crossroads of the civilized world. He died in 4 B.C., and his son Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea during Jesus' youth and ministry to A.D. 39. Antipas, like his father, was a great builder. He rebuilt many of the cities of Galilee, including the important trade center of Sepphoris.

  121:2.12 The Galileans were not regarded with full favor by the Jerusalem religious leaders and rabbinical teachers. Galilee was more gentile than Jewish when Jesus was born.

 

  

3. AMONG THE GENTILES

  121:3.1 Although the social and economic condition of the Roman state was not of the highest order, the widespread domestic peace and prosperity was propitious for the bestowal of Michael. In the first century after Christ the society of the Mediterranean world consisted of five well-defined strata:

 

  121:3.2 1. The aristocracy. The upper classes with money and official power, the privileged and ruling groups.

 

  121:3.3 2. The business groups. The merchant princes and the bankers, the traders -- the big importers and exporters -- the international merchants.

 

  121:3.4 3. The small middle class. Although this group was indeed small, it was very influential and provided the moral backbone of the early Christian church, which encouraged these groups to continue in their various crafts and trades. Among the Jews many of the Pharisees belonged to this class of tradesmen.

 

  121:3.5 4. The free proletariat. This group had little or no social standing. Though proud of their freedom, they were placed at great disadvantage because they were forced to compete with slave labor. The upper classes regarded them disdainfully, allowing that they were useless except for "breeding purposes."

 

  121:3.6 5. The slaves. Half the population of the Roman state were slaves; many were superior individuals and quickly made their way up among the free proletariat and even among the tradesmen. The majority were either mediocre or very inferior.

 

  121:3.7 Slavery, even of superior peoples, was a feature of Roman military conquest. The power of the master over his slave was unqualified. The early Christian church was largely composed of the lower classes and these slaves.

  121:3.8 Superior slaves often received wages and by saving their earnings were able to purchase their freedom. Many such emancipated slaves rose to high positions in state, church, and the business world. And it was just such possibilities that made the early Christian church so tolerant of this modified form of slavery.

  121:3.9 There was no widespread social problem in the Roman Empire in the first century after Christ. The major portion of the populace regarded themselves as belonging in that group into which they chanced to be born. There was always the open door through which talented and able individuals could ascend from the lower to the higher strata of Roman society, but the people were generally content with their social rank. They were not class conscious, neither did they look upon these class distinctions as being unjust or wrong. Christianity was in no sense an economic movement having for its purpose the amelioration of the miseries of the depressed classes.

  121:3.10 Although woman enjoyed more freedom throughout the Roman Empire than in her restricted position in Palestine, the family devotion and natural affection of the Jews far transcended that of the gentile world.

 

  

4. GENTILE PHILOSOPHY

  121:4.1 The gentiles were, from a moral standpoint, somewhat inferior to the Jews, but there was present in the hearts of the nobler gentiles abundant soil of natural goodness and potential human affection in which it was possible for the seed of Christianity to sprout and bring forth an abundant harvest of moral character and spiritual achievement. The gentile world was then dominated by four great philosophies, all more or less derived from the earlier Platonism of the Greeks. These schools of philosophy were:

 

  121:4.2 1. The Epicurean. This school of thought was dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. The better Epicureans were not given to sensual excesses. At least this doctrine helped to deliver the Romans from a more deadly form of fatalism; it taught that men could do something to improve their terrestrial status. It did effectually combat ignorant superstition.

 

  121:4.3 2. The Stoic. Stoicism was the superior philosophy of the better classes. The Stoics believed that a controlling Reason-Fate dominated all nature. They taught that the soul of man was divine; that it was imprisoned in the evil body of physical nature. Man's soul achieved liberty by living in harmony with nature, with God; thus virtue came to be its own reward. Stoicism ascended to a sublime morality, ideals never since transcended by any purely human system of philosophy. While the Stoics professed to be the "offspring of God," they failed to know him and therefore failed to find him. Stoicism remained a philosophy; it never became a religion. Its followers sought to attune their minds to the harmony of the Universal Mind, but they failed to envisage themselves as the children of a loving Father. Paul leaned heavily toward Stoicism when he wrote, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

 

  121:4.4 3. The Cynic. Although the Cynics traced their philosophy to Diogenes of Athens, they derived much of their doctrine from the remnants of the teachings of Machiventa Melchizedek. Cynicism had formerly been more of a religion than a philosophy. At least the Cynics made their religio-philosophy democratic. In the fields and in the market places they continually preached their doctrine that "man could save himself if he would." They preached simplicity and virtue and urged men to meet death fearlessly. These wandering Cynic preachers did much to prepare the spiritually hungry populace for the later Christian missionaries. Their plan of popular preaching was much after the pattern, and in accordance with the style, of Paul's Epistles.

 

  121:4.5 4. The Skeptic. Skepticism asserted that knowledge was fallacious, and that conviction and assurance were impossible. It was a purely negative attitude and never became widespread.

 

  121:4.6 These philosophies were semireligious; they were often invigorating, ethical, and ennobling but were usually above the common people. With the possible exception of Cynicism, they were philosophies for the strong and the wise, not religions of salvation for even the poor and the weak.

 

  

5. THE GENTILE RELIGIONS

  121:5.1 Throughout preceding ages religion had chiefly been an affair of the tribe or nation; it had not often been a matter of concern to the individual. Gods were tribal or national, not personal. Such religious systems afforded little satisfaction for the individual spiritual longings of the average person.

 

  121:5.2 In the times of Jesus the religions of the Occident included:

 

  121:5.3 1. The pagan cults. These were a combination of Hellenic and Latin mythology, patriotism, and tradition.

 

  121:5.4 2. Emperor worship. This deification of man as the symbol of the state was very seriously resented by the Jews and the early Christians and led directly to the bitter persecutions of both churches by the Roman government.

 

  121:5.5 3. Astrology. This pseudo science of Babylon developed into a religion throughout the Greco-Roman Empire. Even in the twentieth century man has not been fully delivered from this superstitious belief.

 

  121:5.6 4. The mystery religions. Upon such a spiritually hungry world a flood of mystery cults had broken, new and strange religions from the Levant, which had enamored the common people and had promised them individual salvation. These religions rapidly became the accepted belief of the lower classes of the Greco-Roman world. And they did much to prepare the way for the rapid spread of the vastly superior Christian teachings, which presented a majestic concept of Deity, associated with an intriguing theology for the intelligent and a profound proffer of salvation for all, including the ignorant but spiritually hungry average man of those days.

 

  121:5.7 The mystery religions spelled the end of national beliefs and resulted in the birth of the numerous personal cults. The mysteries were many but were all characterized by:

 

  121:5.8 1. Some mythical legend, a mystery -- whence their name. As a rule this mystery pertained to the story of some god's life and death and return to life, as illustrated by the teachings of Mithraism, which, for a time, were contemporary with, and a competitor of, Paul's rising cult of Christianity.

 

  121:5.9 2. The mysteries were nonnational and interracial. They were personal and fraternal, giving rise to religious brotherhoods and numerous sectarian societies.

 

  121:5.10 3. They were, in their services, characterized by elaborate ceremonies of initiation and impressive sacraments of worship. Their secret rites and rituals were sometimes gruesome and revolting.

 

  121:5.11 4. But no matter what the nature of their ceremonies or the degree of their excesses, these mysteries invariably promised their devotees salvation, "deliverance from evil, survival after death, and enduring life in blissful realms beyond this world of sorrow and slavery."

 

  121:5.12 But do not make the mistake of confusing the teachings of Jesus with the mysteries. The popularity of the mysteries reveals man's quest for survival, thus portraying a real hunger and thirst for personal religion and individual righteousness. Although the mysteries failed adequately to satisfy this longing, they did prepare the way for the subsequent appearance of Jesus, who truly brought to this world the bread of life and the water thereof.

  121:5.13 Paul, in an effort to utilize the widespread adherence to the better types of the mystery religions, made certain adaptations of the teachings of Jesus so as to render them more acceptable to a larger number of prospective converts. But even Paul's compromise of Jesus' teachings (Christianity) was superior to the best in the mysteries in that:

 

  121:5.14 1. Paul taught a moral redemption, an ethical salvation. Christianity pointed to a new life and proclaimed a new ideal. Paul forsook magic rites and ceremonial enchantments.

 

  121:5.15 2. Christianity presented a religion which grappled with final solutions of the human problem, for it not only offered salvation from sorrow and even from death, but it also promised deliverance from sin followed by the endowment of a righteous character of eternal survival qualities.

 

  121:5.16 3. The mysteries were built upon myths. Christianity, as Paul preached it, was founded upon a historic fact: the bestowal of Michael, the Son of God, upon mankind.

 

  121:5.17 Morality among the gentiles was not necessarily related to either philosophy or religion. Outside of Palestine it not always occurred to people that a priest of religion was supposed to lead a moral life. Jewish religion and subsequently the teachings of Jesus and later the evolving Christianity of Paul were the first European religions to lay one hand upon morals and the other upon ethics, insisting that religionists pay some attention to both.

  121:5.18 Into such a generation of men, dominated by such incomplete systems of philosophy and perplexed by such complex cults of religion, Jesus was born in Palestine. And to this same generation he subsequently gave his gospel of personal religion -- sonship with God.

 

  

6. THE HEBREW RELIGION

  121:6.1 By the close of the first century before Christ the religious thought of Jerusalem had been tremendously influenced and somewhat modified by Greek cultural teachings and even by Greek philosophy. In the long contest between the views of the Eastern and Western schools of Hebrew thought, Jerusalem and the rest of the Occident and the Levant in general adopted the Western Jewish or modified Hellenistic viewpoint.

  121:6.2 In the days of Jesus three languages prevailed in Palestine: The common people spoke some dialect of Aramaic; the priests and rabbis spoke Hebrew; the educated classes and the better strata of Jews in general spoke Greek. The early translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek at Alexandria was responsible in no small measure for the subsequent predominance of the Greek wing of Jewish culture and theology. And the writings of the Christian teachers were soon to appear in the same language. The renaissance of Judaism dates from the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. This was a vital influence which later determined the drift of Paul's Christian cult toward the West instead of toward the East.

  121:6.3 Though the Hellenized Jewish beliefs were very little influenced by the teachings of the Epicureans, they were very materially affected by the philosophy of Plato and the self-abnegation doctrines of the Stoics. The great inroad of Stoicism is exemplified by the Fourth Book of the Maccabees; the penetration of both Platonic philosophy and Stoic doctrines is exhibited in the Wisdom of Solomon. The Hellenized Jews brought to the Hebrew scriptures such an allegorical interpretation that they found no difficulty in conforming Hebrew theology with their revered Aristotelian philosophy. But this all led to disastrous confusion until these problems were taken in hand by Philo of Alexandria, who proceeded to harmonize and systemize Greek philosophy and Hebrew theology into a compact and fairly consistent system of religious belief and practice. And it was this later teaching of combined Greek philosophy and Hebrew theology that prevailed in Palestine when Jesus lived and taught, and which Paul utilized as the foundation on which to build his more advanced and enlightening cult of Christianity.

  121:6.4 Philo was a great teacher; not since Moses had there lived a man who exerted such a profound influence on the ethical and religious thought of the Occidental world. In the matter of the combination of the better elements in contemporaneous systems of ethical and religious teachings, there have been seven outstanding human teachers: Sethard, Moses, Zoroaster, Lao-tse, Buddha, Philo, and Paul.

  121:6.5 Many, but not all, of Philo's inconsistencies resulting from an effort to combine Greek mystical philosophy and Roman Stoic doctrines with the legalistic theology of the Hebrews, Paul recognized and wisely eliminated from his pre-Christian basic theology. Philo led the way for Paul more fully to restore the concept of the Paradise Trinity, which had long been dormant in Jewish theology. In only one matter did Paul fail to keep pace with Philo or to transcend the teachings of this wealthy and educated Jew of Alexandria, and that was the doctrine of the atonement; Philo taught deliverance from the doctrine of forgiveness only by the shedding of blood. He also possibly glimpsed the reality and presence of the Thought Adjusters more clearly than did Paul. But Paul's theory of original sin, the doctrines of hereditary guilt and innate evil and redemption therefrom, was partially Mithraic in origin, having little in common with Hebrew theology, Philo's philosophy, or Jesus' teachings. Some phases of Paul's teachings regarding original sin and the atonement were original with himself.

  121:6.6 The Gospel of John, the last of the narratives of Jesus' earth life, was addressed to the Western peoples and presents its story much in the light of the viewpoint of the later Alexandrian Christians, who were also disciples of the teachings of Philo.

  121:6.7 At about the time of Christ a strange reversion of feeling toward the Jews occurred in Alexandria, and from this former Jewish stronghold there went forth a virulent wave of persecution, extending even to Rome, from which many thousands were banished. But such a campaign of misrepresentation was short-lived; very soon the imperial government fully restored the curtailed liberties of the Jews throughout the empire.

  121:6.8 Throughout the whole wide world, no matter where the Jews found themselves dispersed by commerce or oppression, all with one accord kept their hearts centered on the holy temple at Jerusalem. Jewish theology did survive as it was interpreted and practiced at Jerusalem, notwithstanding that it was several times saved from oblivion by the timely intervention of certain Babylonian teachers.

  121:6.9 As many as two and one-half million of these dispersed Jews used to come to Jerusalem for the celebration of their national religious festivals. And no matter what the theologic or philosophic differences of the Eastern (Babylonian) and the Western (Hellenic) Jews, they were all agreed on Jerusalem as the center of their worship and in ever looking forward to the coming of the Messiah.

 

  

7. JEWS AND GENTILES

  121:7.1 By the times of Jesus the Jews had arrived at a settled concept of their origin, history, and destiny. They had built up a rigid wall of separation between themselves and the gentile world; they looked upon all gentile ways with utter contempt. They worshiped the letter of the law and indulged a form of self-righteousness based upon the false pride of descent. They had formed preconceived notions regarding the promised Messiah, and most of these expectations envisaged a Messiah who would come as a part of their national and racial history. To the Hebrews of those days Jewish theology was irrevocably settled, forever fixed.

  121:7.2 The teachings and practices of Jesus regarding tolerance and kindness ran counter to the long-standing attitude of the Jews toward other peoples whom they considered heathen. For generations the Jews had nourished an attitude toward the outside world which made it impossible for them to accept the Master's teachings about the spiritual brotherhood of man. They were unwilling to share Yahweh on equal terms with the gentiles and were likewise unwilling to accept as the Son of God one who taught such new and strange doctrines.

  121:7.3 The scribes, the Pharisees, and the priesthood held the Jews in a terrible bondage of ritualism and legalism, a bondage far more real than that of the Roman political rule. The Jews of Jesus' time were not only held in subjugation to the law but were equally bound by the slavish demands of the traditions, which involved and invaded every domain of personal and social life. These minute regulations of conduct pursued and dominated every loyal Jew, and it is not strange that they promptly rejected one of their number who presumed to ignore their sacred traditions, and who dared to flout their long-honored regulations of social conduct. They could hardly regard with favor the teachings of one who did not hestitate to clash with dogmas which they regarded as having been ordained by Father Abraham himself. Moses had given them their law and they would not compromise.

  121:7.4 By the time of the first century after Christ the spoken interpretation of the law by the recognized teachers, the scribes, had become a higher authority than the written law itself. And all this made it easier for certain religious leaders of the Jews to array the people against the acceptance of a new gospel.

  121:7.5 These circumstances rendered it impossible for the Jews to fulfill their divine destiny as messengers of the new gospel of religious freedom and spiritual liberty. They could not break the fetters of tradition. Jeremiah had told of the "law to be written in men's hearts," Ezekiel had spoken of a "new spirit to live in man's soul," and the Psalmist had prayed that God would "create a clean heart within and renew a right spirit." But when the Jewish religion of good works and slavery to law fell victim to the stagnation of traditionalistic inertia, the motion of religious evolution passed westward to the European peoples.

  121:7.6 And so a different people were called upon to carry an advancing theology to the world, a system of teaching embodying the philosophy of the Greeks, the law of the Romans, the morality of the Hebrews, and the gospel of personality sanctity and spiritual liberty formulated by Paul and based on the teachings of Jesus.

 

  121:7.7 Paul's cult of Christianity exhibited its morality as a Jewish birthmark. The Jews viewed history as the providence of God -- Yahweh at work. The Greeks brought to the new teaching clearer concepts of the eternal life. Paul's doctrines were influenced in theology and philosophy not only by Jesus' teachings but also by Plato and Philo. In ethics he was inspired not only by Christ but also by the Stoics.

 

  121:7.8 The gospel of Jesus, as it was embodied in Paul's cult of Antioch Christianity, became blended with the following teachings:

1. The philosophic reasoning of the Greek proselytes to Judaism, including some of their concepts of the eternal life.

2. The appealing teachings of the prevailing mystery cults, especially the Mithraic doctrines of redemption, atonement, and salvation by the sacrifice made by some god.

3. The sturdy morality of the established Jewish religion.

 

  121:7.9 The Mediterranean Roman Empire, the Parthian kingdom, and the adjacent peoples of Jesus' time all held crude and primitive ideas regarding the geography of the world, astronomy, health, and disease; and naturally they were amazed by the new and startling pronouncements of the carpenter of Nazareth. The ideas of spirit possession, good and bad, applied not merely to human beings, but every rock and tree was viewed by many as being spirit possessed. This was an enchanted age, and everybody believed in miracles as commonplace occurrences.

 

  

8. PREVIOUS WRITTEN RECORDS

  121:8.1 As far as possible, consistent with our mandate, we have endeavored to utilize and to some extent co-ordinate the existing records having to do with the life of Jesus on Urantia. Although we have enjoyed access to the lost record of the Apostle Andrew and have benefited from the collaboration of a vast host of celestial beings who were on earth during the times of Michael's bestowal (notably his now Personalized Adjuster), it has been our purpose also to make use of the so-called Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

  121:8.2 These New Testament records had their origin in the following circumstances:

 

  121:8.3 1. The Gospel by Mark. John Mark wrote the earliest (excepting the notes of Andrew), briefest, and most simple record of Jesus' life. He presented the Master as a minister, as man among men. Although Mark was a lad lingering about many of the scenes which he depicts, his record is in reality the Gospel according to Simon Peter. He was early associated with Peter; later with Paul. Mark wrote this record at the instigation of Peter and on the earnest petition of the church at Rome. Knowing how consistently the Master refused to write out his teachings when on earth and in the flesh, Mark, like the apostles and other leading disciples, was hesitant to put them in writing. But Peter felt the church at Rome required the assistance of such a written narrative, and Mark consented to undertake its preparation. He made many notes before Peter died in A.D. 67, and in accordance with the outline approved by Peter and for the church at Rome, he began his writing soon after Peter's death. The Gospel was completed near the end of A.D. 68. Mark wrote entirely from his own memory and Peter's memory. The record has since been considerably changed, numerous passages having been taken out and some later matter added at the end to replace the latter one fifth of the original Gospel, which was lost from the first manuscript before it was ever copied. This record by Mark, in conjunction with Andrew's and Matthew's notes, was the written basis of all subsequent Gospel narratives which sought to portray the life and teachings of Jesus.

 

  121:8.4 2. The Gospel of Matthew. The so-called Gospel according to Matthew is the record of the Master's life which was written for the edification of Jewish Christians. The author of this record constantly seeks to show in Jesus' life that much which he did was that "it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet." Matthew's Gospel portrays Jesus as a son of David, picturing him as showing great respect for the law and the prophets.

  121:8.5 The Apostle Matthew did not write this Gospel. It was written by Isador, one of his disciples, who had as a help in his work not only Matthew's personal remembrance of these events but also a certain record which the latter had made of the sayings of Jesus directly after the crucifixion. This record by Matthew was written in Aramaic; Isador wrote in Greek. There was no intent to deceive in accrediting the production to Matthew. It was the custom in those days for pupils thus to honor their teachers.

  121:8.6 Matthew's original record was edited and added to in A.D. 40 just before he left Jerusalem to engage in evangelistic preaching. It was a private record, the last copy having been destroyed in the burning of a Syrian monastery in A.D. 416.

  121:8.7 Isador escaped from Jerusalem in A.D. 70 after the investment of the city by the armies of Titus, taking with him to Pella a copy of Matthew's notes. In the year 71, while living at Pella, Isador wrote the Gospel according to Matthew. He also had with him the first four fifths of Mark's narrative.

 

  121:8.8 3. The Gospel by Luke. Luke, the physician of Antioch in Pisidia, was a gentile convert of Paul, and he wrote quite a different story of the Master's life. He began to follow Paul and learn of the life and teachings of Jesus in A.D. 47. Luke preserves much of the "grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" in his record as he gathered up these facts from Paul and others. Luke presents the Master as "the friend of publicans and sinners." He did not formulate his many notes into the Gospel until after Paul's death. Luke wrote in the year 82 in Achaia. He planned three books dealing with the history of Christ and Christianity but died in A.D. 90 just before he finished the second of these works, the "Acts of the Apostles."

  121:8.9 As material for the compilation of his Gospel, Luke first depended upon the story of Jesus' life as Paul had related it to him. Luke's Gospel is, therefore, in some ways the Gospel according to Paul. But Luke had other sources of information. He not only interviewed scores of eyewitnesses to the numerous episodes of Jesus' life which he records, but he also had with him a copy of Mark's Gospel, that is, the first four fifths, Isador's narrative, and a brief record made in the year A.D. 78 at Antioch by a believer named Cedes. Luke also had a mutilated and much-edited copy of some notes purported to have been made by the Apostle Andrew.

 

  121:8.10 4. The Gospel of John. The Gospel according to John relates much of Jesus' work in Judea and around Jerusalem which is not contained in the other records. This is the so-called Gospel according to John the son of Zebedee, and though John did not write it, he did inspire it. Since its first writing it has several times been edited to make it appear to have been written by John himself. When this record was made, John had the other Gospels, and he saw that much had been omitted; accordingly, in the year A.D. 101 he encouraged his associate, Nathan, a Greek Jew from Caesarea, to begin the writing. John supplied his material from memory and by reference to the three records already in existence. He had no written records of his own. The Epistle known as "First John" was written by John himself as a covering letter for the work which Nathan executed under his direction.

 

  121:8.11 All these writers presented honest pictures of Jesus as they saw, remembered, or had learned of him, and as their concepts of these distant events were affected by their subsequent espousal of Paul's theology of Christianity. And these records, imperfect as they are, have been sufficient to change the course of the history of Urantia for almost two thousand years.

 

  121:8.12 Acknowledgment: In carrying out my commission to restate the teachings and retell the doings of Jesus of Nazareth, I have drawn freely upon all sources of record and planetary information. My ruling motive has been to prepare a record which will not only be enlightening to the generation of men now living, but which may also be helpful to all future generations. From the vast store of information made available to me, I have chosen that which is best suited to the accomplishment of this purpose. As far as possible I have derived my information from purely human sources. Only when such sources failed, have I resorted to those records which are superhuman. When ideas and concepts of Jesus' life and teachings have been acceptably expressed by a human mind, I invariably gave preference to such apparently human thought patterns. Although I have sought to adjust the verbal expression the better to conform to our concept of the real meaning and the true import of the Master's life and teachings, as far as possible, I have adhered to the actual human concept and thought pattern in all my narratives. I well know that those concepts which have had origin in the human mind will prove more acceptable and helpful to all other human minds. When unable to find the necessary concepts in the human records or in human expressions, I have next resorted to the memory resources of my own order of earth creatures, the midwayers. And when that secondary source of information proved inadequate, I have unhesitatingly resorted to the superplanetary sources of information.

  121:8.13 The memoranda which I have collected, and from which I have prepared this narrative of the life and teachings of Jesus -- aside from the memory of the record of the Apostle Andrew -- embrace thought gems and superior concepts of Jesus' teachings assembled from more than two thousand human beings who have lived on earth from the days of Jesus down to the time of the inditing of these revelations, more correctly restatements. The revelatory permission has been utilized only when the human record and human concepts failed to supply an adequate thought pattern. My revelatory commission forbade me to resort to extrahuman sources of either information or expression until such a time as I could testify that I had failed in my efforts to find the required conceptual expression in purely human sources.

  121:8.14 While I, with the collaboration of my eleven associate fellow midwayers and under the supervision of the Melchizedek of record, have portrayed this narrative in accordance with my concept of its effective arrangement and in response to my choice of immediate expression, nevertheless, the majority of the ideas and even some of the effective expressions which I have thus utilized had their origin in the minds of the men of many races who have lived on earth during the intervening generations, right on down to those who are still alive at the time of this undertaking. In many ways I have served more as a collector and editor than as an original narrator. I have unhesitatingly appropriated those ideas and concepts, preferably human, which would enable me to create the most effective portraiture of Jesus' life, and which would qualify me to restate his matchless teachings in the most strikingly helpful and universally uplifting phraseology. In behalf of the Brotherhood of the United Midwayers of Urantia, I most gratefully acknowledge our indebtedness to all sources of record and concept which have been hereinafter utilized in the further elaboration of our restatement of Jesus' life on earth.