Jesus Sutra discovered in China

quoted from Editorial 2001/5/10, Sahaja Yoga Switzerland web site :




In this age of the information highway, you might think that nothing could surprise us, that we know everything. But no. It's not the case. An enigma surfaces sometimes just where you don't expect; it can be as extraordinary as an old fairy tale, or call in question our past history.

So perhaps you will be surprised to learn that the latest light on the origins of Christianity comes to us from China. The following story, told by one of its exponents, the anthropologist J. Albertsma, has all the wonders of a treasure hunt. One day, Martin Palmer, an eminent authority on old Chinese religious texts and the history of the oriental Christian church, found a book of a Chinese scholar which appeared in the 1930s and which mentioned a very old Christian site in China with a half-erased map on which was shown a Chinese pagoda titled "Ta Ching", which literally translated means "of the Roman Empire".

After some research, the map proved to be false, but by chance another monastery called "Lo Guan" was shown on it, situated in the central province of Shang Xi - which Professor Palmer knew well.

In 1998, Palmer's team decided to start their research there, and this time fortune smiled on them. Climbing up a small hill overlooking the temple, they saw a Chinese pagoda in the area built on a hill. Dating from the Tang dynasty, the pagoda was about 1,300 years old, and had been sealed in the year 1,556 after an earthquake. It seemed absolutely Chinese but a very old Buddhist nun of 115 years of age (another marvel!) told them that it had a Christian origin, and an old seller of amulets told them a local legend - that some Westerners who believed in God and who had constructed the monastery, the church and the pagoda, had never died. By observing the adjacent buildings constructed on the terrace, Palmer realised that they had not been built north-south, like all Chinese 
temples, but east-west like western Christian sites. 

Palmer alerted the Chinese authorities who were restoring and consolidating the pagoda, and six months later during the summer of 1999, he was contacted by these same authorities who, intrigued, wanted his opinion. Palmer was led to the interior of the reopened pagoda. "When our eyes started to become accustomed to the darkness," he said, "the meaning of what we had before our eyes started to dawn on us. He saw a wooden and plaster statue of three metres high representing the sacred mountains of Taoism, with a grotto in the centre in the Tang style constructed in 790, at the same time as the pagoda. But in this grotto there was a statue of an reclining figure, the appearance of whose legs and torso (the remainder had disappeared) were not Chinese. Palmer recognised the 
scene of the Nativity, with the Virgin Mary carrying the child. He also found a Syrian text carved on a stone.

The pagoda belonged to a collection of buildings which had contained a library and a Christian church, situated in the enclosure of an imperial Tang Taoist temple. It was the oldest statue of the Virgin in China, which shows that Christianity has been present in China for 1,400 years. A stele engraved in 781 tells the story. It arrived in China in 635 in the form of an official mission of the Bishop Alopen. An oriental Christianity, which was not Roman, nor Byzantine, but Persian, with its 
seat in Baghdad, and which had been spread via India, Central Asia and Tibet.

Quan Yin

Following his discovery, Palmer even advanced the theory that the celebrated Chinese Buddhist goddess of mercy and compa-
ssion, Quan Yin, represented sometimes with a child, had been influenced by the ancient image of this Virgin Mary.

The second discovery is that of the Sutras of Jesus, texts brought by this bishop, the original of which has been lost and of which there remains the Chinese translation. Palmer and his team translated them and they could revolutionise the history of Christianity. They recount the life, the teachings, and the death of Christ with a number of variants to that which we know, for example, that Mary was visited there by a cool breeze sent by God, that Jesus was born in an orchard and not 
in a manger, and that his hair had been washed before his execution.

The translation of the Jesus Sutras is available in the Ballantine edition 
( this year.

For amateurs interested in such enigmas, the research continues. And by means of texts, traces of a Christian church in Tibet in the 16th century have been discovered.

(the end)




hongkong webmaster remarks:

1. *literally, "sutra" means scripture (łg)

2. "The Jesus Sutra" is now available at Swindon's, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hongkong, price hk$200.

3. The author of the book, Martin Palmer, was interviewed in HK. Please read the interview article in the Sunday "Post Magazine" 16 December 2001 (South China Morning Post - The Da Chin Foundation was officially launched in the HK Law Society premises 10 days before the interview.