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Holger Kersten

Holger Kersten

German writer
Holger Kersten
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German writer
Is Author Writer
From Germany
Type Literature
Gender male
Birth 1951, Magdeburg, Germany
Age 71 years
The details (from wikipedia)


Holger Kersten (born 1951) is a German writer on myth, legend, religion and esoteric subjects. He is best known for the books about Jesus' early years and later years in India. In 2005 he led an expedition looking for the birthplace of Mithras.

Jesus Lived in India, 1983

Jesus Lived in India promotes the claim of Nicolas Notovich,(1894) regarding the unknown years of Jesus between the ages of 12 and 30 in India.(rejected by historical authorities) The consensus view amongst modern scholars is that Notovitch's account of the travels of Jesus to India was a hoax. Kersten also promotes Ahmadiyya founder Ghulam Ahmad's claims regarding the years aged 33 to age 120 in India, and the burial of Jesus at the Roza Bal shrine in Srinagar. Kersten also draws on earlier material by Louis Jacolliot, Andreas Fabeer-Kaiser, and German popular novelist Siegfried Obermeier (also 1983). The book was translated into Chinese in 1987.

Like others before him Kersten follows Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in his sources. For example, a passage in the Bhavishya Purana which refers to Jesus as "Isa-Masih" (Jesus the Messiah). The passage describes the Hindu king Shalivahana travelling to mountains where he meets a man who calls himself Isa, son of a Virgin. Isa says he has ministered to the Mlecchas, explaining that he has reformed the lives of the mlecchas by recommending principles of mental purity, japa by chanting holy names, and meditation. Kersten interprets this as a record of Jesus in Kashmir. In reality the passage is an 18th-century dialogue also featuring Muhammed, and not an early source as Ahmad claimed. Most scholars consider this part of the Purana to be a 19th-century interpolation.

The book achieved great popularity in Germany and overseas, though competed with the better-known Siegfried Obermeier's book in Germany. The Indologist Günter Grönbold included a highly critical debunking of Obermeier and Kersten's interpretations of Buddhist sources among various expositions of Jesus in India theories in Jesus in Indien. Das Ende einer Legende (Jesus in India, the end of a Legend, 1985). Wilhelm Schneemelcher in introducing the subject of New Testament Apocrypha (1991) uses Kersten by way of illustration of the development of legendary Gospel traditions and notes how Kersten "attempted to work up Notovitch and Ahmadiyya legends with many other alleged witnesses into a complete picture." McGetchin notes that once his story had been re-examined by historians, Notovitch confessed to having fabricated the evidence.

However, in 1922 Swami Abhedananda visited the Hemis monastery and corroborated much of Notovitch's story. Given access to the manuscripts on Jesus Christ, Abhedananda later published an abbreviated version of Notovich's translated account. After Abhedananda's death in 1939, one of his disciples inquired about the documents at the monastery, but was told they disappeared.

The Original Jesus, 1994

In a later work co-written with parapsychologist Elmar R. Gruber (b. 1955), Der Ur-Jesus (1994), translated The Original Jesus (1995) Kersten argues that Buddhism appears to have had a substantial influence on the life and teachings of Jesus. They hold that Jesus was influenced by the teachings and practices of Therapeutae, described by the authors as teachers of the Buddhist Theravada school then living in Judaea, although the only account, the extensive description by Philo of Alexandria describes them as a charismatic Hellenistic Jewish community following the Law of Moses. Gruber and Kersten assert that Jesus lived the life of a Buddhist and taught Buddhist ideals to his disciples. In doing so their work draws on earlier comparisons between Buddhism and Christianity such as the Oxford New Testament scholar Burnett Hillman Streeter (1932) who argued that the moral teaching of the Gautama Buddha has four remarkable resemblances to the Sermon on the Mount.

The Jesus Conspiracy, 1997

The ideas of the two earlier books were developed and related to the Turin Shroud in Das Jesus-Komplott: die Wahrheit über das Turiner Grabtuch and Jesus starb nicht am Kreuz — Die Botschaft des Turiner Grabtuchs (1998) The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth About the Resurrection. The Jesus Conspiracy proposes that the Vatican interfered with the 1988 Radiocarbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin to show a medieval date for its origin. The authors propose that the shroud is authentic as the burial cloth of Jesus, but that evidence including blood tracks shows that Jesus was alive following his crucifixion. They argue that the Mandylion or Image of Edessa, known from the sixth century, was the Shroud, but folded to only show the face of Jesus. Because Jesus surviving the cross would contradict the teaching of the Resurrection, the central belief in Christianity, the authors allege that the Vatican used a piece from a 13th-century cloth with a similar herringbone weave to the Shroud of Turin as a substitute in the carbon dating. In part three, Elmar R. Gruber attempts to explain many details concerning what happened in "that dramatic hour of Good Friday". The book' repeats the author's earlier arguments that after the crucifixion Jesus moved to India. In a later book, they argued that he had become a Buddhist monk.

Critical responses

None of Kersten's works have found any support in mainstream scholarship — either Biblical or Indologist. The noted German scholar of New Testament Apocrypha Wilhelm Schneemelcher, in a revision of his standard work prior to his death in 2003, and in unusually strong language for the scholarly community states that Kersten's work is based on "fantasy, untruth and ignorance (above all in the linguistic area)" and "has nothing to do with historical research." Gerald O'Collins and Daniel Kendall view that "Kersten's discredited book" is simply the repackaging of Notovich and Ahmad's material for consumption by the general public.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 18 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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