Jesus: armed and dangerous

Forget the virgin birth, the stable, the wondrous star, the shepherds and the wise men, the massacre of the innocents and the angel of the lord telling Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt. All pure invention. Jesus was an apocalyptic revolutionary, says Jack Conrad

Palestine lay at the crossroads of Middle Eastern civilisations. This made it a land of milk and honey for the superpowers of the ancient world. That is why one foreign invasion followed another. Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and after them the Macedonian Greeks and finally, in the 1st century BCE, the Romans. Between these seismic events there were occasional power vacuums, and given decisive action, brief interludes of Judean independence. Eg, the guerrilla leader Judas Maccabee led a revolt against the Syrian-based Seleucid empire and their Hellenised allies, which saw him seize power in 164 BCE. Independence was not only fleeting, but often purely notional. All in all, the Jews became an oppressed nationality, which, given the dominant ideology of the time, bred a national fanaticism of the highest order.

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Letters

Ricardian; Soft Stalinist; Messy end; Phased out; Skid Row; Syrian revolution; Sorry saga; Solidarity

Keep the guards on board

Support the rail unions and support genuine modernisation, argues Eddie Ford

Jewish or a democratic state?

The left should welcome Donald Trump’s nomination of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel, writes Tony Greenstein

Refendarii dolosi

Mike Macnair exposes the anti-democratic nature of referendums, including the membership ‘survey’ just sent out by Lansman & Co

Corbyn intervenes ... on wrong side

Labour Party Marxists are proposing a transparent, simple and effective draft constitution

Yalda - triumph of light

Yassamine Mather explains the Zoroastrian winter solstice festival of light, Shabe Yalda, and how Iran’s ruling clerics have failed to extinguish it

Think and rethink

Gifts of gold are still what we need this Christmas, says Robbie Rix

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