Alain de Benoist’s L’homme qui n’avait pas de père (The Man Who Had No Father) is an extensive study of the historical Jesus. The book examines the life of Jesus, including his family, his teachings, his place in Jewish society, and more. In this interview, de Benoist discusses his book and the process of investigating the life of Jesus. He explains his reasons for rejecting the mythist thesis, which suggests that Jesus never existed, and talks about the origins of Jesus and where he carried out his ministry.
The Man Who Had No Father is a noteworthy contribution to the study of the historical Jesus and should not be overlooked by scholars in the field. Alain de Benoist’s distinct perspective on the topic, as previously discussed in his conversation with Thomas Molnar, is a notable feature of the book. This viewpoint has been acknowledged as a seminal reference in scholarly works on the concept of the sacred, as evidenced by Jean-Jacques Wunenburger’s recent publication Le Sacré. In this interview, Alain de Benoist offers some insights into his work.
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: Alain de Benoist, your book The Man Who Had No Father has been highly anticipated for over fifteen years by some readers since Jésus et ses frères (Jesus and His Brothers). However, many people misunderstand the purpose of this endeavour. Please briefly clarify what inspired you to write and publish this impressive work.
ALAIN DE BENOIST: For more than fifty years, my interest has been drawn towards the inquiry of the origins of Christianity, particularly the persona of Jesus. Numerous publications have been dedicated to this subject, varying from serious exegesis to impractical hypotheses and devotion-driven books…
I intended to take stock of the situation and evaluate what is currently known about the ‘Jesus of history’ compared to the ‘Jesus of faith’, a distinction now generally accepted by specialists, proposed by Martin Kähler in 1892. Although there is no definitive answer to this question, we can at least create a balance sheet. The problem is not the absence of documents but rather the abundance of material whose validity must be established. Ferdinand Christian Baur once said that anything is possible, but what is probable? The task of specialists and researchers is to determine what is beyond doubt, what is excluded, and what is possible or likely from the sum of information offered by the canonical or apocryphal sources. In this field, we can only provide estimates of probability, which may be unsatisfactory but still hold significant value, even if unanimity is rarely the rule.
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: What are the reasons behind your rejection of the mythist thesis, which is sometimes supported by arguments that can be quite disturbing?
ALAIN DE BENOIST: The idea that Jesus never existed, known as the mythist thesis, dates back to at least the eighteenth century and has had consistent support from scholars such as Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews, and Robert M. Price, among others. Despite its appeal due to its radical nature and critical research, the thesis has yet to be widely accepted by experts. The only basis for the mythist argument is the absence of early evidence outside of Christian sources, which is an opposing argument with limited validity since it is impossible to determine whether the sources that did exist have been lost over time.
The issue of Paul presents a challenge for those who question the existence of Jesus. Paul’s epistles, which predate the gospels, were written soon after Jesus’ death when many who knew him were still alive. Paul met with individuals like Peter and James, who had firsthand knowledge of Jesus. It seems implausible that Paul could have been told false stories about Jesus by those who knew him personally.
The ‘embarrassment criterion’, which examines problematic passages in the Gospels, also undermines the mythological view. If Jesus had been a fictional character, how could these potentially embarrassing details have been included? Examples include Jesus’ baptism, his family’s rejection of him, Peter’s denial, and Jesus’ despair on the Cross. These passages argue in favour of a historical basis for Jesus.
The mythist theory, which suggests that belief in Jesus was invented out of nothing, only makes the question of Christian origins more incomprehensible. The fact that the Gospels were written independently of each other and the originally Jewish character of the texts also contradicts the idea that Christianity emerged in the Hellenised world and was later ‘Judaised’ at the end of the first century.
1. The Origins of Jesus
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: Jesus ‘of Nazareth’ is a pure invention that stems from a gross misunderstanding that has now been rectified. Where did Jesus come from, and where did he carry out his ministry? Where did the misunderstanding come from?
ALAIN DE BENOIST: There are compelling reasons to believe that Nazareth did not exist during the time of Jesus. In the Torah, which lists many towns and villages, Nazareth is not mentioned, even when describing the distribution of the seven tribes. The Talmud, which lists sixty-three names of towns and villages in Galilee, also makes no reference to Nazareth. Additionally, the epistles of Paul and other ancient historians and geographers do not mention this name. Scholars have concluded that Nazareth at the time of Jesus must have been a tiny hamlet or locality, which is inconsistent with the Gospel of Matthew’s reference to a ‘city [polis] called Nazareth’ (2:23) and the Gospel of Luke’s mention of the ‘synagogue of Nazareth’ (4:16-22), as synagogues and schools did not exist in small hamlets. The results of the excavations conducted by the Franciscans in present-day Nazareth have also been disappointing.
The label ‘Nazarene’ or ‘Nazorean’ given to Jesus is not a geographical term but rather a title derived from the word netser, which means ‘shoot’ or ‘branch’. In the Torah, this word is used by Isaiah in reference to David and his descendants, from whom the Messiah is prophesied to come: ‘A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him’ (Isaiah 11:1-2). Jesse was David’s father, and by citing this passage, Paul justifies Jesus as the Messiah: ‘The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope’ (Romans 15:12).
The Nazoreans were the first followers of Jesus who believed that he was the ‘offspring of Jesse’, or the promised Messiah. This is why in the book of Acts, Paul is described by his opponents as the leader of the ‘sect of the Nazarenes’ (Acts 24:5), which would make no sense if ‘Nazarenes’ referred to the residents of Nazareth. Instead, it refers to those Jews who recognised Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.
The place where Yeshua, known as Jesus, began his public ministry and operated from was Capernaum, making it his true ‘homeland’, as depicted in the Gospels. This is further evidenced by the spread of his activity ‘throughout all Galilee’ (Mk 1:39). According to Marcion’s Evangelion, Jesus appeared in Capernaum, a city in Galilee, in 15 CE. However, this does not mean that Jesus was born in Capernaum. While it is known that Jesus was born around 6 BC, the exact location and circumstances of his birth remain unknown. The accounts of the canonical Gospels and apocryphal works, such as the Gospel of James are purely legendary, as demonstrated in my book.
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: We’ve previously discussed the roles of Joseph and Mary in the Gospels. I recently came across an article that argued, using untenable syllogisms, that Jesus’ brothers were actually his cousins and that referring to Mary as ‘wife’ was merely a sign of affection. However, the fact that Jesus had blood brothers is clear to all Hellenists, as both Matthew and Luke refer to Jesus as the ‘first-born’ and consistently use the word ‘brothers’ to describe James, Joses, Jude, and Simon, never ‘cousins’ or ‘relatives’. Your discussion, which draws on Simon Claude Mimouni’s analysis, highlights the inappropriateness of Jesus referring to his mother as ‘woman’ from a filial standpoint. The presence of Jesus’ brothers, and possibly even sisters, explains why Mary’s virginity was not a significant theme in the early Jerusalem Church, and St. Paul even ignored it. With this in mind, what can we reconstruct about Jesus’ family relationships?
ALAIN DE BENOIST: According to a well-known episode in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ family seems to have had a strained relationship with him. In this episode, his mother and brothers try to take him home, believing he has gone mad: ‘He comes to the house, and again the crowd gathers so that they could not even eat bread. And when his own people heard of it, they went out to seize him [kratèsai auton], for they said, “He has lost his senses”’ (Mk 3:20-21). Throughout the text, Jesus contrasts his spiritual family, consisting of his disciples, with his flesh and blood family. This episode is noteworthy because it indicates that Jesus’ family, especially his mother, had no knowledge or recollection of the Annunciation or the extraordinary circumstances of his birth, as described in the prologues of Luke and Matthew, at least according to Mark’s Gospel.
The issue of Jesus’ siblings has been widely discussed, and I have examined the various arguments regarding this matter. I conclude that Jesus’ brothers and sisters were indeed his blood siblings, not his cousins or children from a previous marriage of Joseph, as the Church had previously suggested. While the identity of their fathers is uncertain, they are all children of Mary.
Furthermore, Joseph and Mary were not revered in the early days of Christianity. Joseph is barely mentioned in the Gospels, with Mark’s Gospel completely omitting him. Neither Paul’s epistles nor the Q document nor the Gospel of Thomas mention him. Joseph’s appearance in Luke and Matthew’s Nativity narratives is a late addition, and he does not speak in any of the accounts. The theory that Joseph’s absence is due to his death before Jesus’ public life is unconvincing, as the Gospels do not provide any information about Joseph’s life, death, or burial.
Despite the extent of the Marian cult that emerged later, Mary’s role is similarly understated in the Gospels. Her name is only mentioned once in Mark’s Gospel (6:3), and she disappears entirely after the ‘family crisis’ event. Mary is not referenced in the Q document, and although the Gospel of Thomas refers to her, her name is not mentioned. Paul acknowledges that Jesus was ‘born of a woman’ (Gal 4:4) but omits her name. The fourth Gospel mentions the ‘mother of Jesus’ several times but never names her, likely due to the hostility of the Gospel’s writers toward Jesus’ family. In the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is mentioned briefly in passing (1:14), and her death is not recorded.
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: Can we determine the social context of the Jesus depicted in the story, ascertain his status within his community, speculate about his mindset, and reconstruct his goals?
ALAIN DE BENOIST: Answering the question of Jesus’ social situation is difficult because the various ‘portraits’ of him presented by specialists differ significantly, and scholars have abandoned writing a conventional ‘biography’ of Jesus. A significant debate exists on the balance of eschatological and sapiential elements in Jesus’ teachings. The eschatological part appears to be the most significant, as was also believed by Albert Schweitzer, Ed P. Sanders, James Tabor, Bart Ehrmann, and others. As a disciple of John the Baptist, Jesus believed the world was coming to an end and eagerly proclaimed the coming of a ‘kingdom’, likening it to ‘treasure hidden in a field’ (Mt 11:5-7), declaring that ‘there are some here present who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come with power’ (Mk 9:1). Of the thirty-seven parables in the Synoptics, nine concern the ‘end times’, seven the ‘Last Judgement’ and six the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.
However, the debate extends to other issues, such as whether the Jesus movement was mainly religious, social, or political. Did the roles of healer, exorcist, or miracle worker, acknowledged by both his supporters and opponents, play a crucial role in his teachings?
What is certain is that Jesus was an itinerant preacher who travelled from village to village with his disciples, avoiding large cities such as Sepphoris, the ancient capital of Galilee, which is not mentioned once in the Gospels, even though it was only five kilometres from Nazareth. He addressed primarily marginalised individuals and had no intention of creating a new religion. Jesus believed he had come only for the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Mt 10:26; 15:24) and had no intention of addressing the Gentiles. His teachings were rooted in the Judaism of his time, of which he represented only one stream among many, such as the Pharisaic Jews, Sadducee Jews, Baptist Jews, Essene Jews, Nazorean Jews, and others. Like other Baptist groups, he seems to have been hostile to the priestly class that controlled the Temple administration and disapproved of blood sacrifices (perhaps explaining the incident that pitted him against the ‘Temple merchants’ who sold the animals to be sacrificed).
In any case, it is an anachronistic misunderstanding to oppose the supporters of Jesus and the ‘Jews’: the former at that time were just one tendency among others within Judaism. Strictly speaking, it was not until the end of the second century that one could speak of ‘Christianity’ or ‘early Church’. And at that time, there were still at least six different currents within the Jesus movement: the Jacobians, the Petrines, the Hellenists of Stephen, the Hellenists of Barnabas, the Paulinians, and the Johannines
How did the historical Jesus perceive himself – as the Christ, an apocalyptic prophet, or a teacher of wisdom?
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: The canonical Gospels, written much later, depict Jesus as the son of God who died to save humanity from original sin and mortal sins. St. Paul and the Gospels portray Jesus’ death as the beginning of the end times, leading to the imminent ‘Judgement Day’. However, in the Gospel of Mark, considered the most reliable among the four, Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (Mk 8:28), and when Peter responds with ‘You are the Christ’, Jesus sternly rebukes him and tells his disciples not to speak of him in those terms. It raises the question of why the historical Jesus refused the title of ‘Christ’.
ALAIN DE BENOIST: In the episode you are referring to, Jesus seems to fear the consequences that could result from his premature proclamation as Messiah, perhaps due to the political burden of this title. In the Gospel of Mark, he also denies being God: to the young rich man who asks him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’, he answers, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone (oudeis agathos eis mèheis ho theos)’ (10:17-18). Instead, Jesus seems to have considered himself a prophet. To describe himself, he constantly uses the expression ‘Son of Man’ (ho huiós tou anthrōpou). Since this expression was not used in the early Church, there are good reasons to consider it authentic, even if Paul’s epistles do not mention it at all. This expression has also caused much debate among scholars. Most believe that it has no particular theological value, but that does not explain why Jesus often uses it to indirectly refer to himself.
The quality of Messiah was certainly attributed very early to Jesus. This is one of the issues (but not the only one) of the debate between Christian Jews and non-Christian Jews. Many Christian Jews considered Jesus as a prophet and as the Messiah, but not as God or the Son of God. Conversely, the Pauline current, and especially the Gnostics, believed that the divinity of Jesus took precedence over his messianic quality. The Synoptics, for their part, differ on the moment or circumstances in which Jesus became the Son of God. Indeed, they give four different answers: at his baptism in the Jordan (Mark), at the time of his conception (prologues of Luke and Matthew), at his resurrection (Paul), or from all eternity (John). Jesus is never associated with the Father in the way he will be in the Trinitarian dogma. Even in the Gospel of John, which has him saying, ‘I and the Father are one’ (10:30), Jesus declares, ‘The Father is greater than I’ (14:28). The Acts of the Apostles simply say that Jesus, after his resurrection, was placed ‘at the right hand of God’ (7:56). The Son remains inferior to the Father, whom he does not share omniscience or omnipotence with. He remains subject to His will. At this stage, Christology is still subordinationist.
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: M.-F. Baslez has frequently emphasised that Saint Paul, the first theologian, was instrumental in conferring religious significance on the ‘Christ event’. However, locating the historical Jesus in the New Testament presents a challenge. Can cross-referencing and using sources like the Q Document aid in understanding how the witnesses to Jesus’ ministry perceived him – as a teacher of wisdom, an apocalyptic prophet, or both? Can we try to reconstruct, even schematically, Jesus’ opinion on these subjects?
ALAIN DE BENOIST: Part of this question has been addressed earlier. The Q document derives its name from the German word Quelle, which means ‘source’. To explain briefly, Luke and Matthew both used Mark’s Gospel, as evidenced by their identical quotations of many passages. However, there are 235 verses that they share which are not present in Mark’s Gospel. If we assume that they wrote independently of each other, it follows that they both used different sources. Scholars call this hypothetical source Q, as it is the only explanation for the similarities between Luke and Matthew that cannot be attributed to Mark. Comparing the dual tradition of their gospels reveals that nearly fifty per cent of their words are verbally almost identical. This suggests that Q was a written source.
Regarding Paul, I am uncertain if the term ‘first theologian’ accurately characterises him. Paul has been the subject of numerous misunderstandings. He has been mistakenly viewed as the ‘founder of Christianity’ or as the advocate of a ‘pagan-Christianity’ that did not exist in his era. Although Paul advocated for opening the message of Jesus to the Gentiles, he did not detach it from the Jewish tradition’s general framework. The communities he established belonged to the world of Judaism, from which they were gradually marginalised and then excluded. The Judeo-Christians did not criticise Paul for failing to make proselytes among the Gentiles but for asserting that pagans could become Christians without having to adhere to the mitzvot, or Jewish commandments. In actuality, Paul’s preaching was deeply synagogal. His only attempt to speak directly to the Greeks, on the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:15-34), was unsuccessful.
Additionally, Paul believed that pagans deserved death (Romans 1:18-32). Notably, the primary difference between the communities that led to the formation of Judeo-Christianity and pagan-Christianity was geographical at the outset: the former originated in Palestine and were of Aramaic culture, while the latter were born in the Diaspora and were of Greek culture. Only after Christians regarded themselves as an entity opposed to both the Jews and the Greco-Roman world, from 135-150 AD, can one justifiably speak of the Jewish-Christian and pagan-Christian aspects of the new religion. It’s essential to recognise that even at this time, the separation was gradual rather than sudden.
Many aspects of Paul’s character remain mysterious. His activities before his dramatic transformation on the road to Damascus need to be better documented. Following his arrest, he invoked his Roman citizenship to appeal to the emperor, but it is unclear how he obtained this status. The book of Acts ends before the outcome of his trial is known, and it is uncertain what happened to him afterwards. There is no reliable evidence to support the traditional belief that he died in Rome alongside Peter during the persecution of Nero in 64 AD. In fact, until the third century, the Church of Rome did not even mention his presence there. Marcion played a significant role in disseminating Paul’s epistles, the earliest documents of the New Testament. However, the present consensus is that only seven or eight of the epistles were authored by Paul or written under his direction (namely, the two letters to the Corinthians, the two letters to the Thessalonians, the letter to the Romans, the letter to the Galatians, the letter to Philemon, and the letter to the Philippians). The others are referred to as pseudepigrapha, meaning that they were written under Paul’s name but were not composed by him.
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: For quite some time, I have been fascinated by a certain portrayal of Jesus, namely the one who declares, ‘I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34), and who instructs his followers to ‘sell your cloak and buy a sword’ (Luke 22:36). He refers to his enemies as ‘thieves’ and ‘vipers’ and drives merchants out of the Temple with a whip, overturning tables and scattering their money (John 2:14-16). In my opinion, this Jesus appears to be the genuine one due to the undeniable psychological consistency between these ‘intrusive episodes’ and the larger narrative. What is your perspective on this matter?
ALAIN DE BENOIST: You could also have cited the ending of the Parable of the Minas in the Gospel of Luke (which corresponds to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew): ‘But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me’ (Luke 19:27). Or even this saying from the Gospel of Thomas: ‘Jesus said: Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world, and they do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war’ (16:1-2). Indeed, this is another aspect of Jesus’ personality. We tend to forget it because we are used to seeing his teachings as a ‘message of love’ first and foremost. But in reality, as John P. Meier has noted, the word ‘love’ is rarely put in Jesus’ mouth in the Gospels, and when it does appear, it is most often through a quotation from the Old Testament.
2. Controversy and Death
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: The dispute between the historical Jesus and the religious authorities is the most probable reason for his condemnation. However, this statement could be more illuminating. Instead, it would be more productive to consider a crucial but often overlooked aspect of this disagreement, as Chris Keith has suggested. The fundamental cause of the conflict was not primarily Jesus’ teachings or teaching methods but rather his position as a teacher.
ALAIN DE BENOIST: On this point, researchers remain divided. Jesus seems to have been a rabbi, that is to say, a ‘teacher’ versed in the study, teaching, and commentary of Scriptures. He is, in any case, described as such several times in the canonical Gospels, not only by his disciples, but also by people on the margins of his movement, mainly in Mark and John. However, this does not tell us about his level of education or his interpretation of the Torah. Nor does it tell us who he trained under, and this silence may be revealing. His legitimacy to teach was strongly contested among non-Christian Jews. In the Talmud, Jesus is presented not only as an illegitimate child, born of an ‘impure union’ (making him a mamzer), but also as a rabbinical student who turned away from the teaching of his masters – ‘a rabbi who went astray’ (Daniel Marguerat) – as a clever miracle-worker who mocked the teachings of the doctors of Israel, and who, for having resorted to magic or sorcery (which he would have acquired knowledge of in Egypt), would have been stoned and ‘hanged on a tree’ on the eve of Passover. The comment that comes back like a refrain in Talmudic texts is that ‘Jesus practiced sorcery, and seduced and misled Israel’ (B. Sanhedrin 43a and 107b; Sotah 47a). Contrary to what many imagine, these are the fundamental reproaches that orthodox Jewish tradition makes to Jesus, and not his claim to pose as the Messiah (or the claim of his disciples to present him as such).
3. The Birth of Christianity
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: M.-F. Baslez posited that the birth of Christianity hinged on a leap of faith in front of an empty tomb, though it remains uncertain when this event occurred. This inquiry has sparked numerous questions: Why do so many individuals believe that Jesus was resurrected, that his body was not left to decay, and that he ascended to a celestial realm? Alternatively, why did the Jewish authorities allow Jesus’ executed body to be interred in a tomb? Was the corpse ever present, or was it taken and buried elsewhere? When and by what means did the historical Jesus transform into the Christ of faith?
ALAIN DE BENOIST: The question you ask illustrates perfectly the difference between the ‘Jesus of history’ and the ‘Jesus of faith’. When we say that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, we are talking about the Jesus of history. When we add that he died for our sins, we are talking about the Jesus of faith. The researcher, whether exegete or historian, has nothing to say about the resurrection of Jesus, because it is an act of faith. But if one does not believe that Jesus was resurrected, one must explain why his tomb was found empty. Hence the hypotheses you mention, the most credible being that the body of Jesus was stolen by his opponents who feared that his tomb would become a place of pilgrimage. In doing so, they unknowingly contributed to the belief in his resurrection!
However, on this subject, as on the general circumstances of the trial and death of Jesus, we are reduced to conjecture, so much do the gospel accounts contradict each other on these points. In his epistles, Paul even seems to ignore everything about the trial before Pilate: describing the Resurrection as a quasi-cosmic event, he makes Jesus the victim of the ‘archons’, the masters of the world, an interpretation of typically Gnostic character.
EMMANUEL LEGEARD: The two conditions for the spread of Christianity were the ‘choice of the Empire’ made by Saint Paul, which amplified its reach, and the ‘conversion’ of Constantine, who decided to spread it, despite the fact that it had previously generated almost no interest in Europe and there was nothing to suggest that it would ever gain significant traction. I put the word ‘conversion’ in quotes to emphasise the more than suspect fervor – not to mention political cynicism – of Constantine, who was only baptised on his deathbed and never participated in the communal meal of the agape or the Eucharistic communion of the ‘Last Supper’. Yet, in late antiquity, this was the sign, norm, and absolute duty of any true Christian.
It is clear that the respective choices of Saint Paul and Constantine were inspired by the same universal ambition, in the former case, for diffusion on a world scale, and in the latter, for uncontested supreme authority, since the ‘numinous’ power of the emperor now appeared as a grace bestowed by a God not only superior to all others but also of a different nature. Therefore, the Empire was undoubtedly the vector of the spread of Christianity in Europe. This is a complicated but essential topic for me – the interaction between the Empire and Christianity, of which it made its ‘anagogic’ organising principle – a topic on which I would like to hear your thoughts.
ALAIN DE BENOIST: Paul preached in the Diaspora, not in Palestine, but I do not think that this is enough to say that he made the ‘choice of the Empire’. However, I fully agree with what you say about Emperor Constantine and the decisive ‘interaction’ with the Empire that ensured the triumph of the Church. Constantine’s conversion was clearly a facade, inspired by his entourage and political considerations. Eusebius of Caesarea, born around 270, often considered the ‘first historian’ of the Church, wrote a panegyric around 337 to enable him to become one of the emperor’s proteges. He presents Constantine as ‘the most respectful of all sovereigns’ on the grounds that he adopted the Edict of Milan in 313 and convened the Council of Nicaea in 325, but he does not mention that he also had his second wife Fausta, who remained a pagan, murdered by drowning her in boiling water, after having killed his own son Crispus, as well as his nephew and two brothers-in-law!
It was this same Eusebius of Caesarea, following the ideas of Melito of Sardis, who laid the theological foundations for what would later be called ‘caesaro-papism’, a doctrine inspired by the Roman conception of imperial power in which the emperor combines the political direction of the Empire and the religious power in his person. The greatness of the Roman Empire and the success of Christianity thus became linked. As early as the fourth century, the confusion between spiritual and temporal power was total throughout the Empire. This resulted in tensions that would lead, from the eleventh century onwards, to the Investiture Controversy, pitting the papacy against the Holy Roman Empire. But by that time, we will already be far from the Jesus of the origins!