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And did those feet in ancient time, Walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God, On England's pleasant pastures seen? Do William Blake's lyrics for the popular hymn 'Jerusalem' reveal an extraordinary insight into the so-called 'missing years of Jesus', the eighteen years that are unaccounted for in the Bible? Archaeologist and classical scholar Dennis Price has investigated these clues, paying meticulous attention to the accounts in the ancient Aramaic and Greek versions of the Bible. He has also conducted an exhaustive and unprecedented study into the myths and legends of Christ in Britain. By viewing this enthralling subject as a modern missing person's investigation, he has pieced together the puzzle and now presents compelling and highly original evidence that Christ did indeed visit Britain in the company of Joseph of Arimathea 'in ancient times'. Indeed, the weight of new material suggests that Christ remained in Britain for several years before eventually returning to his homeland in the east.
284pp, 158mm x 240mm, illus. in b&w, hardback, 2009
I Am Legend
Jesus is the most famous human being ever to have lived. He's the central figure in Christianity and the second most important prophet in Islam, so his influence simply cannot be overstated. In addition, there must be many millions of people the world over who think of themselves as 'cultural Christians', people who may not subscribe to the tenets of Christianity yet who enjoy attending carol concerts and nativity plays, not to mention harvest festivals and other occasions. With all this in mind, I find it shocking that no concerted attempt has been made to investigate the 'missing years' of Jesus, a period that surely constitutes the greatest enigma in human history.
There's no shortage of material indicating that Jesus visited Britain and we must ask if it provides us with a credible history that fits perfectly with the other known details of his life. It's also worth bearing in mind that everything we've discovered lies squarely in the public domain, not in some mysterious archive accessible only to initiates or a chosen few.
Signs of His Passing
Numerous legends place Jesus in the West Country, from the southernmost tip of Cornwall up to the Mendips and Glastonbury, and if there's any truth whatsoever behind the bizarre story of his mother being murdered in south Wales, he may also have visited the Preseli Mountains or 'the Kingdom of Heaven' in southwest Wales, as well as the settlements of the Silures tribe in present-day Usk and Llanmelin.
However, in addition to these stories of Jesus stepping ashore, visiting wells and mines and so forth, there are persistent and tantalizing suggestions of physical signs of his passing 'that yet survive, stamped in these lifeless things'. Miners in the West Country spoke of the prehistoric artefacts they discovered in old mine shafts, while modern archaeologists believe the Priddy Circles could have been 'used for 'hidden' ceremonies and/or deposition of artefacts'. The remnants of the church that Jesus us saud to have built to the memory of his mother Mary in Glastonbury supposedly survived for centuries and were believed to have originally been built by the 'hands of Christ himself', which shows a strong belief that Jesus stayed in the region and constructed a place of worship that was largely intact and venerated long after he'd left.
Something intangible yet undeniably real is the atmosphere of serenity in the field adjoining Nine Barrows Lane in Priddy, which I suspect may be 'the Lord's Walk' mentioned by writers in the last century. We could argue that an unseen thing cannot constitute any kind of proof, but then we'd also have to deny the existence of the world-famous aura around Glastonbury and the mesmerizing quality that draws around one million people a year to visit Stonehenge.
There's also the famous edict against destroying British temples and the other writings mentioning the precepts of Christ being seen in Britain, which we might consider to be circumstantial evidence, along with the decisions of the four mediaeval Church councils which repeatedly ruled on the great antiquity of the British Church.
There are legends of the second visit to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea, stories which we've barely touched upon but which nonetheless carry the unavoidable inference that he was revisiting a location where he'd once spent time with Jesus.
The 'eternally to be lamented' loss of an inscribed tablet of tin discovered at Stonehenge during the reign of King Henry VIII might be relevant, given the proximity of these ruins to the places where Jesus is said to have stayed and the recurring link between Joseph of Arimathea and the tin trade. The Stonehenge landscape might yet yield other tangible suggestions that Jesus once visited the monument, but in the meantime we must consider the strange matter of King James I removing an altar stone from the ruins and we must ask ourselves why such a noted Christian scholar should take a relic from a place supposedly associated with the Devil to one of his palaces in London.
There are also the mysterious tunic crosses in Cornwall depicting what appears to be a young Jesus standing upright and wearing a tunic of sorts. The covers of some mediaeval Bibles are adorned with similar figures that might be described as ungainly in appearance, and while the Cornish crosses may have originally depicted a pagan god or gods, it's still curious that Cornwall should also be home to so many traditions of Jesus visiting the region when he was a young man.
Other remarkable artefacts are the Dubunni Eisu coins. The name on them is unmistakenly reminiscent of Jesus, especially the Greek form of his name, Iesou, the form by which he was addressed. Could these coins have been minted in his honour? It's astonishing that someone by the name of Eisu should rise to prominence around AD 30 and that this Eisu should be living in the Mendips at precisely the same time that Jesus us saud to have been there. I've encountered a solitary archaeological or numismatic report that's so much as noted this stunning coincidence, because, like the matter of the hauntings at Stonehenge, the subject of Eisu in the Mendips in the early years of the first century AD is one that 'dare not speak its name'.
In addition to these physical signs that may indicate the passing of Jesus, we have numerous historical events to weigh up. One of these concerns the Silures, the primitive tribe who resisted the Romans with unbending ferocity for almost 40 years and whose territory was in such close proximity to the places where Jesus is said to have lived. Does this resistance indicate that they remained loyal to the memory of a revered visitor to their realm, someone they believed was the embodiment of armed resistance against the Romans? And does the premature capitulation of the Dubunni tribe indicate that there were notable individuals and structures in their territory that they wished to protect from the ravages of warfare against the Romans?
A similar rain of thought occurs to us when we consider the Druids, the British priesthood that was never known to oppose Christianity. They conducted rituals in and around the strange underground chambers at Priddy, where the belief that Jesus once visited the place was so strong that it was enchrined in the saying 'As sure as Our Lord walked in Priddy'. What we know of the practices and customs of the Druids has mych n common with Chrisitanity and we have tangible evidence from the Pillar of the Sailors in Paris that they revered a young muscular carpenter named Esus. Rather than bow the knee to the Roman invader, the Druids and their loyal followers fought a war in which they faced annihilation on account of their apparently abominable beliefs, while the Romans meted out an almost identical punishment to the Christians in Rome shortly afterwards on the same grounds.
From The Missing Years of Jesus, ©2009 by Dennis Price, published by Hay House.