In her best-selling
book, Out on a Limb, Shirley MacLaine recounts how a friend once said
to her: "You know that nothing is recorded in the Bible about Christ
from the time he was about twelve until he began to really teach at
about thirty years old. Right?" "Yes," MacLaine replied, "I had heard
about that and I just figured he didn't have much to say until he got
older." "Well, no," her friend responded, "a lot of people think that
those eighteen missing years were spent traveling in and around India
and Tibet and Persia and the Near EastThey say he became an adept
yogi and mastered complete control over his body and the physical
world around him [he] tried to teach people that they could do the
same things too if they got more in touch with their spiritual selves
and their own potential power." 
Did Jesus travel to the East to study under gurus? Did He become "the
Christ" as a result of what He learned and accomplished there? Are
there mystical "gospels" that have been suppressed by the church,
keeping us from knowing the real Jesus? In this article, we will look
at these and other important questions related to the Jesus of the
New Age movement. We begin by examining the claims of a controversial
THE LIFE OF SAINT ISSA
As the story goes, in 1887, Nicolas
Notovitch -- a Russian war correspondent -- went on a journey through
India. While en route to Leh, the capital of Ladakh (in Northern
India along the Tibetan border), he heard a Tibetan lama (i.e., monk)
in a monastery refer to a grand lama named Issa (the Tibetan form of
"Jesus"). Notovitch inquired further, and discovered that a chronicle
of the life of Issa existed with other sacred scrolls at the Convent
of Himis (about 25 miles from Leh).
Notovitch visited this convent and was told by the chief lama that a
scroll did in fact exist which provided details about the Prophet
Issa. This holy man allegedly preached the same doctrines in Israel
as he earlier did in India. The original scroll, the lama said, was
written in the Pali language and later translated into Tibetan. The
Convent of Himis possessed the Tibetan translation, while the
original was said to be in the library of Lhassa (the traditional
capital of Tibet).
Notovitch eventually persuaded the lama to read the scroll to him,
and had it translated from Tibetan by an interpreter. According to
Notovitch, the literal translation of the scroll was "disconnected
and mingled with accounts of other contemporaneous events to which
they bear no relation," and so he took the liberty to arrange "all
the fragments concerning the life of Issa in chronological order and
[took] pains to impress upon them the character of unity, in which
they were absolutely lacking."  He went without sleep for many
nights so he could order and remodel what he had heard.
From the scroll, Notovitch learned that "Jesus had wandered to India
and to Tibet as a young man before he began his work in Palestine."  The beginning of Jesus' alleged journey is described
in the scroll this way:
When Issa had attained the age of thirteen years, the epoch when an
Israelite should take a wife, the house where his parents earned
their livingbegan to be a place of meeting for rich and noble people,
desirous of having for a son-in-law the young Issa, already famous
for his edifying discourses in the name of the almighty. Then it was
that Issa left the parental house in secret, departed from Jerusalem,
and with the merchants set out towards Sind, with the object of
perfecting himself in the Divine Word and of studying the laws of the
great Buddhas. 
According to Notovitch, the scroll proceeds to explain how, after
briefly visiting with the Jains, young Issa studied for six years
among the Brahmins at Juggernaut, Rajagriha, Benares, and other
Indian holy cities. The priests of Brahma "taught him to read and
understand the Vedas, to cure by aid of prayer, to teach, to explain
the holy scriptures to the people, and to drive out evil spirits from
the bodies of men, restoring unto them their sanity." 
While there, the story continues, Issa sought to teach the scriptures
to all the people of India -- including the lower castes. The Brahmins
and Kshatriyas (higher castes) opposed him in this, and told him that
the Sudras (a lower caste) were forbidden to read or even contemplate
the Vedas. Issa denounced them severely for this.
Because of Issa's controversial teachings, a death plot was devised
against him. But the Sudras warned him and he left Juggernaut,
establishing himself in Gautamides (the birthplace of the Buddha
Sakyamuni) where he studied the sacred writings of the Sutras. "Six
years after, Issa, whom the Buddha had elected to spread his holy
word, had become a perfect expositor of the sacred writings. Then he
left Nepal and the Himalayan mountains, descended into the valley of
Rajputana, and went towards the west, preaching to diverse peoples
the supreme perfection of man."  Following this, we are told, Issa
briefly visited Persia where he preached to the Zoroastrians. Then,
at 29, he returned to Israel and began to preach all that he had
According to Notovitch's "scroll," by the end of Issa's three-year
ministry, Pilate had become so alarmed at his mushrooming popularity
that he ordered one of his spies to accuse him falsely. Issa was then
imprisoned and tortured by soldiers to force a confession which would
permit his being executed. The Jewish priests tried to act in Issa's
behalf, but to no avail. Issa was falsely accused and Pilate ordered
the death sentence:
At sunset the sufferings of Issa came to an end. He lost
consciousness, and the soul of this just man left his body to become
absorbed in the DivinityMeanwhile, Pilate became afraid of his action
and gave the body of the saint to his parents, who buried it near the
spot of his executionThree days after, the governor sent his soldiers
to carry away the body of Issa to bury it elsewhere, fearing
otherwise a popular insurrection. The next day the crowd found the
tomb open and empty. At once the rumor spread that the supreme Judge
had sent his angels to carry away the mortal remains of the saint in
whom dwelt on earth a part of the Divine Spirit. 
Following this, some merchants in Palestine allegedly traveled to
India, came upon some people who had known Issa as a casual student
of Sanskrit and Pali during his youth in India, and filled them in on
Issa's demise at the hands of Pilate. And, as the story concludes,
The Life of Saint Issa was written on a scroll -- author(s) unknown -- three or four years later.
Reactions to Notovitch
This alleged manuscript generated a number
of lively responses. Let us briefly look at a sampling of these.
Muller. In October 1894, preeminent
Orientalist Max Muller of Oxford University (who himself was an
advocate of Eastern philosophy and therefore could not be accused of
having a Christian bias) published a refutation of Notovitch in The
Nineteenth Century, a scholarly review. Four of his arguments are
noteworthy: (1) Muller asserted that an old document like the one
Notovitch allegedly found would have been included in the Kandjur and
Tandjur (catalogues in which all Tibetan literature is supposed to be
listed). (2) He rejected Notovitch's account of the origin of the
book. He asked how Jewish merchants happened, among the millions of
India, to meet the very people who had known Issa as a student, and
still more "how those who had known Issa as a simple student in India
saw at once that he was the same person who had been put to death
under Pontius Pilate."  (3) Muller cites a woman who had visited
the monastery of Himis and made inquiries about Notovitch. According
to a letter she wrote (dated June 29, 1894), "there is not a single
word of truth in the whole story! There has been no Russian hereThere
is no life of Christ there at all!"  And (4) Muller questioned the
great liberty Notovitch took in editing and arranging the alleged
verses. Muller said this is something no reputable scholar would have
Notovitch promptly responded to Muller's arguments in the preface to
the London edition of The Life of Saint Issa which was published the
following year (1895). But his response did little to satisfy his
critics. He said: (1) The verses which were found would not be in any
catalogues because "they are to be found scattered through more than
one book without any title."  (But in his first preface he said
the Convent of Himis contained "a few copies of the manuscript in
question." ) (2) Regarding the unlikeliness of Jewish merchants
encountering those who knew Issa as a child in India, Notovitch said
"they were not Jewish but Indian merchants who happened to witness
the crucifixion prior to returning home from Palestine."  (Even
so, it would still be unlikely that -- among the millions in India -- the merchants would come upon the precise people who knew Issa as a
child.) (3) As for editing and arranging the verses in The Life of
Saint Issa, Notovitch said that the same kind of editing was done
with the Iliad and no one ever questioned that. (But how does this
legitimize Notovitch's modus operandi?) (4) As to the refusal by the
lama of Himis to affirmatively answer questions about the manuscript
(as he apparently did with the lady who wrote Muller), Notovitch says
this was because "Orientals are in the habit of looking upon
Europeans as robbers who introduce themselves in their midst to
despoil them in the name of civilization."  Notovitch succeeded
only "because I made use of the Eastern diplomacy which I had learnt
in my travels."  (This was a convenient rationalization, for
Notovitch could always point to a lack of "Eastern diplomacy" on the
part of a European challenger whenever a monk refused to corroborate
the Issa legend.)
Assuming (wrongly) that his response to Muller laid criticism of his
work to rest, Notovitch suggested that in the future his critics
restrict themselves solely to the question: "Did those passages exist
in the monastery of Himis, and have I faithfully reproduced their
Douglas. J. Archibald Douglas,
Professor at Government College in Agra, India, took a three-month
vacation from the college and retraced Notovitch's steps at the Himis
monastery. He published an account of his journey in The Nineteenth
Century (June 1895), the bulk of which reproduced an interview with
the chief lama of the monastery. The lama said he had been chief lama
for 15 years, which means he would have been the chief lama during
Notovitch's alleged visit. The lama asserted that during these 15
years, no European with a broken leg had ever sought refuge at the
When asked if he was aware of any book in any Buddhist monastery in
Tibet pertaining to the life of Issa, he said: "I have never heard of
[a manuscript] which mentions the name of Issa, and it is my firm and
honest belief that none such exists. I have inquired of our principal
Lamas in other monasteries of Tibet, and they are not acquainted with
any books or manuscripts which mention the name of Issa."  When
portions of Notovitch's book were read to the lama, he responded,
"Lies, lies, lies, nothing but lies!" 
The interview was written down and witnessed by the lama, Douglas,
and the interpreter, and on June 3, 1895, was stamped with the
official seal of the lama. The credibility of The Life of Saint Issa
was unquestionably damaged by Douglas's investigation.
Nicholas Roerich. In The Lost Years of Jesus, Elizabeth Clare Prophet
documents other supporters of Notovitch's work, the most prominent of
which was Nicholas Roerich. Roerich -- a Theosophist -- claimed that
from 1924 to 1928 he traveled throughout Central Asia and discovered
that legends about Issa were widespread. In his book, Himalaya, he
makes reference to "writings" and "manuscripts" about Issa -- some of
which he claims to have seen and others about which people told him.
Roerich allegedly recorded independently in his own travel diary the
same legend of Issa that Notovitch had seen earlier.
Per Beskow -- author of Strange Tales About Jesus -- responded to
Roerich's work by suggesting that he leaned heavily on two previous
"Jesus goes East" advocates: "The first part of his account is taken
literally from Notovitch's Life of Saint Issa, chapters 5-13 (only
extracts but with all the verses in the right order). It is followed
by 'another version' (pages 93-94), taken from chapter 16 of
Dowling's Aquarian Gospel."  (We will consider the Aquarian Gospel
Goodspeed. Notovitch's The Life of
Saint Issa refused to die; it was republished in New York in 1926.
This motivated Edgar J. Goodspeed, Professor at the University of
Chicago, to publish a Christian response. He commented that "it is
worthwhile to call attention to [The Life of Saint Issa] because its
republication in New York in 1926 was hailed by the press as a new
and important discovery,"  even though first published over thirty
years earlier (1894).
Three of Goodspeed's arguments are noteworthy. (1) Goodspeed suggests
a literary dependency of The Life of Saint Issa on Matthew, Luke,
Acts, and Romans. This would not be odd except that The Life of Saint
Issa was allegedly written three or four years after the death of
Christ, whereas Matthew, Luke, Acts, and Romans were written two or
three decades later. An example of this dependency relates to how The
Life of Saint Issa attempts to fill in the silent years of Jesus
between the ages of twelve and thirty: "these two ages are taken for
granted by the author of this work, who unconsciously bases his
scheme upon them. We know them from the Gospel of Luke alone, and the
question arises: 'Has the author of Issa obtained them from the same
(2) Notovitch describes Luke as saying that Jesus "was in the desert
until the day of his showing unto Israel." This, Notovitch says,
"conclusively proves that no one knew where the young man had gone,
to so suddenly reappear sixteen years later." But, says Goodspeed,
"it is not of Jesus but of John that Luke says this (1:80), so that
it will hardly yield the conclusive proof Notovitch seeks. At this
point in Luke's narrative, in fact, Jesus has not yet appeared." 
(3) Goodspeed comments that The Life of Saint Issa does not purport
to have been deciphered and translated by a competent scholar: "The
lama read, the interpreter translated, Notovitch took notes. He could
evidently not control either the lama or the interpreter, to make
sure of what the Tibetan manuscripts contained." 
Throughout the twentieth century, many individuals have responded
positively to the work of Notovitch, including Janet and Richard Bock
(makers of the film, "The Lost Years of Jesus"), Swami Abhedananda,
Sai Baba, Paramahansa Yogananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship,
and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Evidence abounds that the Issa legend is
alive and well today.
Max Muller, J. Archibald Douglas, and Edgar J. Goodspeed have all
presented solid refutations of the legend. These should challenge any
serious Issa advocate to reevaluate his or her position. I shall
offer further arguments later. But first, it is necessary to examine
additional features in the New Age profile of Jesus.
THE AQUARIAN GOSPEL OF JESUS
Another major source for the New Age Jesus
is The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, written by Civil War army
chaplain Levi Dowling (1844-1911). The title page of this "gospel"
bears the words: "Transcribed from the Book of God's Remembrances,
known as the Akashic Records." (Occultists believe the physical earth
is surrounded by an immense spiritual field known as "Akasha" in
which is impressed every impulse of human thought, will, and emotion.
It is therefore believed to constitute a complete record of human
history.) Hence, unlike Notovitch whose conclusions were based on an
alleged objective ancient document, Levi's book is based on an occult
form of subjective (nonverifiable) illumination.
The bulk of Levi's gospel, first published in 1911, focuses on the
education and travels of Jesus. After studying with Rabbi Hillel (a
Jewish scholar), Jesus allegedly traveled to India where he spent
years studying among the Brahmins and Buddhists.
Jesus supposedly became interested in studying in the East after
Joseph (Jesus' father) hosted Prince Ravanna from India. During his
visit, Ravanna asked "that he might be the patron of the child; might
take him to the East where he could learn the wisdom of the Brahms.
And Jesus longed to go that he might learn: and after many days his
parents gave consent." So "Jesus was accepted as a pupil in the
temple Jagannath; and here he learned the Vedas and the Manic laws." 
Jesus then visited the city of Benares of the Ganges. While there,
"Jesus sought to learn the Hindu art of healing, and became the pupil
of Udraka, greatest of the Hindu healers."  And Jesus "remained
with Udraka until he had learned from him all there was to be learned
of the Hindu art of healing." 
Levi proceeds to chronicle a visit to Tibet, where Jesus allegedly
met Meng-ste, the greatest sage of the East: "And Jesus had access to
all the sacred manuscripts, and, with the help of Meng-ste, read them all."
Jesus eventually arrived in Egypt, and -- in what must be considered a
climax of this account of the "lost years" -- he joined the "Sacred
Brotherhood" at Heliopolis. While there, he passed through seven
degrees of initiation -- Sincerity, Justice, Faith, Philanthropy,
Heroism, Love Divine, and THE CHRIST. The Aquarian Gospel records the
bestowal of this highest degree: "The hierophant arose and said upon your brow I place this diadem, and in the Great Lodge of the heavens
and earth you are THE CHRIST. You are a neophyte no more; but God
himself will speak, and will confirm your title and degree. And then a
voice that shook the very temple said, THIS IS THE CHRIST; and every
living creature said, AMEN." 
Later, following his three-year ministry as THE CHRIST and his
subsequent death, Jesus' resurrection is described by Levi in terms
of a "transmutation" which all men may accomplish. He made many
appearances to people all over the world to substantiate this
transmutation. For example, he appeared to the "Silent Brotherhood"
in Greece and said: "What I can do all men can do. Go preach the
gospel of the omnipotence of man." 
THE READINGS OF EDGAR
Like Levi, Edgar Cayce claimed the ability
to read the Akashic Record while in a trance. During his life, he
gave over 16,000 readings, 5,000 of which deal with religious
matters. It was from the Akashic Record that Cayce set forth an
elaborate explanation of the early years of Jesus.
The person we know as Jesus, Cayce tells us, had 29 previous
incarnations: "These included an early sun worshipper, the author of
the Book of the Dead, and Hermes, who was supposedly the architect of
the Great Pyramid. Jesus was also Zend (the father of Zoroaster),
Amilius (an Atlantean) and other figures of ancient history." 
Other incarnations include Adam, Joseph, Joshua, Enoch, and
This particular soul did not become "the Christ" until the thirtieth
incarnation -- as Jesus of Nazareth. The reason Jesus had to go
through so many incarnations is that he -- like all other human beings -- had "karmic debt" (sin) to work off.
Jesus received a comprehensive education. Prior to his twelfth year,
he attained a thorough knowledge of the Jewish law. "From his twelfth
to his fifteenth or sixteenth year he was taught the prophecies by
Judy [an Essene teacher] in her home at Carmel. Then began his
education abroad. He was sent first again into Egypt for only a short
period, then into India for three years, then into that later called Persia.
From Persia he was called to Judea at the death of Joseph, then
went into Egypt for the completion of his preparation as a teacher."  During his alleged studies abroad, Jesus studied under
many teachers (including Kahjian in India, Junner in Persia, and Zar
in Egypt), and learned healing, weather control, telepathy,
astrology, and other psychic arts. When his education was complete,
he went back to his homeland where he performed "miracles" and taught
the multitudes for three years.
JESUS THE CHRIST AND HIS
There are many differing views regarding how
Jesus attained "Christhood." As we have seen, Levi said Jesus went
through seven degrees of initiation, the seventh being THE CHRIST.
Cayce said Jesus became "the Christ" in the thirtieth incarnation.
Many modern New Agers say the human Jesus merely "attuned" to the
cosmic Christ, or achieved at-one-ment with the Christ by raising his
own "Christ-consciousness." But, however, Jesus attained
"Christhood," New Agers agree that he was a teacher par excellence of
New Age "truths."
New Agers generally do one of two things with the teachings of Jesus.
Some merely reinterpret the gospel sayings of Jesus to make it appear
that Jesus was actually teaching New Age "truth." Others add that
long-lost (New Age) sayings of Jesus have been rediscovered. These
"rediscovered" sayings can have one of two sources: reputed ancient
extracanonical writings (like the "Gnostic gospels" which were
allegedly suppressed by the early church and rediscovered at Nag
Hammadi in 1945) and the Akashic Record. Let us now consider
samplings of each of these.
The Gospel Sayings of Jesus. According to New Agers, we must all seek
first the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 6:33), recognizing that the
"kingdom" has reference to our inner divinity.  For indeed, Jesus
said "Ye are gods" (John 10:34). The parable about those who
foolishly build a house on sand (Matthew 7:24-27) teaches us that those
who fail to recognize their divinity will not be able to stand
against the storms of life.  But if we come unto Jesus, we will
find rest, for his yoke (i.e., yoga) is easy and his burden is light (Matthew
"Newly Discovered" Sayings from Extracanonical Sources. Jesus taught
a form of pantheism according to The Life of Saint Issa, for he said
that "the Eternal Spirit [God] is the soul of all that is animate."  He also taught that all humans have unlimited
potential: "I came to show human possibilities that which I am, all
men will be."  And, according to the Gnostic gospels, Jesus spoke
of "illusion and enlightenment, not of sin and repentance." 
Indeed, man can save himself: "If you bring forth what is within you,
what you bring forth will save you." 
"Newly Discovered" Sayings from the Akashic Record. According to
Levi's Aquarian Gospel, Jesus was just a way-shower: "And all the
people were entranced, and would have worshipped Jesus as God; but
Jesus said, I am your brother man just come to show the way to God;
you shall not worship man."  Jesus also taught pantheism and
monism: "The universal God is one, yet he is more than one [i.e., he
takes many forms]; all things are God; all things are one."  Jesus
also tells us that "the nations of the earth see God from different
points of view, and so he does not seem the same to every one." 
THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
A Christian response to the New Age
rendition of Jesus may begin with the observation that the accounts
of Jesus going East have irreconcilable contradictions. This fact
alone should make any objective investigator suspicious of the
reliability of these documents.
Each of the accounts differ, for example, regarding the beginning of
Jesus' trek. The Life of Saint Issa portrays Jesus departing secretly
from his parent's house with some merchants on their way to India so
he could perfect himself by studying the laws of the great Buddhas.
Levi's Aquarian Gospel depicts Prince Ravanna from India asking
Jesus' parents if he can escort Jesus to India where he can learn
Indian wisdom. Cayce's reading of the Akashic Record has an Essene
teacher sending Jesus to India to study astrology and other psychic
What is particularly revealing is that both Cayce and Levi allegedly
obtained their "revelations" by reading the Akashic Record, yet their
readings blatantly contradict each other. Since both Cayce and Levi
are highly respected in New Age circles, how do New Agers account for
the obvious failure of at least one of them to properly "read" the
Akashic Record? Furthermore, if one of these top-rated New Age seers
cannot be trusted, which one can be?
Not only do the accounts disagree with each other, they all disagree
with the gospel accounts in the New Testament. And the New Testament
has solid, irrefutable manuscript evidence -- something that should be
considered by those wanting to replace it so easily with Gnostic
gospels or alleged ancient manuscripts claiming that Jesus went
The New Testament gospels are based on eyewitness testimony.
Moreover, they were written very close to the time of the events
which they report. It is crucial to recognize that the four canonical
gospels are all dated much earlier than the Gnostic gospels. The
earliest Gnostic gospels date from A.D. 150 to 200. The New Testament
gospels date from A.D. 60 to 100 -- approximately one century earlier.
Clearly, the New Testament gospels are the authentic and reliable
source for information on the life and teachings of Jesus.
On the other hand, all of the "Jesus goes East" accounts contain
historical inaccuracies, several of which have already been
mentioned. Other examples include: (1) Levi's Aquarian Gospel said
Herod Antipas was ruler in Jerusalem. Antipas, however, never ruled
in Jerusalem but in Galilee. Dowling meant to say Herod the Great.
This is especially significant since Levi's transcriptions are
claimed to be "true to the letter" in the introduction of his
Aquarian Gospel!  (2) Levi's reference to Jesus visiting with
Meng-ste was probably meant to be the great Chinese sage, Meng-tse
(tse, not ste). Dowling apparently didn't realized, however, that
Meng-tse died in 289 B.C.
The deeper one probes, the clearer it becomes that the Jesus of the
New Age movement lacks any basis in history. To many, The Life of
Saint Issa appeared to provide this. However, the world still awaits
bona fide hard evidence that can be physically examined by all
interested parties. Even a photograph would be helpful. But as
Notovitch lamented: "During my journey I took a considerable number
of very curious photographs, but when on arrival at Bombay I examined
the negatives, I found they had all become obliterated."  I don't
want to be cynical, but
In order to find a New Age Jesus in authentic documents, New Agers
are forced to deal with the language of the New Testament in a
manipulative fashion. Tal Brooke comments: "It is a little like the
problem of the Marxist who wishes to change the common understanding
of the United States Constitution so that a gradualist skewing of
word meaning can enable a socialistic interpretation of words whose
intended meanings in the original were clearly different." 
Though the New Testament does not directly address this issue, there
are strong indirect evidences that Jesus never traveled East for
eighteen years. First, Jesus was well-known as a carpenter (Mark 6:3)
and as a carpenter's son (Matthew 13:55). That His carpentry played a
large role in His life up to the time of His ministry is clear from
the fact that some of His parables and teachings drew upon His
experience as a carpenter (e.g., building a house on rock as opposed
to sand, Matthew 7:24-27). Moreover, the people in and around Nazareth
displayed familiarity with Jesus, as if they had had regular contact
with Him for a prolonged time. At the beginning of His three-year
ministry, Jesus "went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and
on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And
he stood up to read" (Luke 4:16). After He finished reading, "all
spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came
from his lips. 'Isn't this Joseph's son?' they asked" (Luke 4:22).
This implies that those in the synagogue regarded Jesus as a local
It is important to note that when Jesus stood up to read, He did so
from the Old Testament Scriptures. And the Old Testament -- for which
Jesus often displayed reverence (cf. Matthew 5:18) -- (1) contains
numerous warnings and admonitions about staying away from false gods
and false religious systems (cf. Exodus 20:2, 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:14,
13:10; 2 Kings 17:35); (2) clearly distinguishes between the creation
and the Creator, unlike Eastern thought; and (3) taught the need for
redemption, not gnosis (knowledge). It is no coincidence that Jesus
is often seen quoting from the Old Testament in the gospels, but not
once does He quote from (or even mention) the Vedas!
While some in Nazareth were impressed at the graciousness of Jesus'
words, others were offended that He was attracting so much attention.
They seemed to be treating Him with a contempt born of familiarity.
We read in Matthew 13:54-57: "Coming to his hometown, he began
teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed' Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't
his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?...Where then did this
man get all these things?' And they took offense at him."
Among those that became angriest at Jesus were the Jewish leaders.
They accused Him of many offenses, including breaking the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14), blasphemy (John
8:58-59, 10:31-33), and doing
miracles in Satan's power (Matthew 12:24). But they never accused Him
of teaching or practicing anything learned in the East. The Jews
considered such teachings and practices to be idolatry and sorcery.
Had Jesus actually gone to the East to study under "the great
Buddhas," this would have been excellent grounds for discrediting and
disqualifying Him regarding His claim to be the promised Jewish
It is noteworthy that the self-concept of the New Age Jesus is that
he is just a man who became enlightened in the East, eventually
achieving Christhood. The self-concept of the New Testament Jesus,
however, is one in which He singles Himself out as God (cf. John
It is understandable why the "Jesus who went East" refused to accept
worship (cf. Dowling). The New Testament Jesus, by contrast, accepted
worship on numerous occasions because He knew Himself to be the one
and only God (note especially Matthew 28:17). Of course, only God can
be worshiped (cf. Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 13). It is thus
significant that even when Jesus was just a babe, the Magi (from the
East) "fell down and worshiped Him" (Matthew 2:11).
The final word on this matter must belong to God the Father, for
there is no higher authority in the universe. He Himself is quoted as
saying to Jesus: "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever" (Hebrews 1:8). It is Jesus
-- the second Person of the Trinity -- that we
as Christians look forward to seeing; 'we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ"
(Titus 2:13). And, as Christians, we exult in the truth that Jesus
has a name that is above every name, and that at His name, every knee
will bow -- in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians
A CLOSING REFLECTION
What if -- despite all the arguments
presented above -- a manuscript should one day surface in India which
speaks of Issa? Would this prove that Jesus did in fact go East
during His youth?
Christians acknowledge that news of Jesus eventually reached India
and Tibet as a result of the missionary efforts of the early church.
It is conceivable that when devotees of other religions heard about
Jesus, they tried to modify what they heard to make it appear that
Jesus and His teachings were compatible with their own belief
systems. It is possible that -- sometime between the first and
nineteenth centuries -- these unreliable legends were recorded on
scrolls and circulated among the convents in India. This would not be
unlike the distorted versions of the life of Jesus that emerged among
the early Gnostics (and recorded in the Gnostic gospels).
But for such a manuscript to be convincing, it would have to have the
same kind of irrefutable manuscript evidence as the New Testament,
the same quality of eyewitness testimony, and be written very close
to the events on which they report like the New Testament. Until such
an authoritative document surfaces, is it wise to base one's eternal
destiny on a manuscript that has as little evidential support as
Douglas Groothuis issues this challenge: "Should any supposed record
of Jesus' life come to the fore, let it marshal its historical merits
in competition with holy writ. The competitors have an uphill battle
against the incumbent." 
 Shirley MacLaine, Out on a Limb (New York:
Bantam Books, 1984), 233-234.
 Nicolas Notovitch, The Life of Saint Issa, cited by Joseph Gaer,
The Lore of the New Testament (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1952),
 Nicolas Notovitch, cited by Per Beskow, Strange Tales About Jesus
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, n.d.), 59.
 Nicolas Notovitch, ed. The Life of Saint Issa, in Elizabeth Clare
Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus (Livingston, MT: Summit University
Press, 1987), 218.
 Ibid., 219.
 Ibid., 222-223.
 Ibid., 245-246.
 Max Muller, "The Alleged Sojourn of Christ in India," The
Nineteenth Century 36 (1894):515f., cited by Edgar J. Goodspeed,
Modern Apocrypha (Boston: Beacon Press, 1956, 10.
 Ibid., 11.
 Notovitch, cited by Goodspeed, 11.
 Ibid., 11-12.
 Notovich, in Prophet, Lost Years, 30.
 Ibid., 103.
 Ibid., 103.
 Ibid., 108.
 J. Archibald Douglas, "The Chief Lama of Himis on the Alleged
'Unknown Life of Christ'" The Nineteenth Century (April 1896) 667-677,
cited by Prophet, 36-37.
 Goodspeed, 13.
 Beskow, 62.
 Goodspeed, 14 emphasis added.
 Ibid., 5.
 Ibid., 9.
 Levi, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ (London: L. N.
Fowler & Co., 1947), 48.
 Ibid., 50.
 Levi, cited by Gaer, 134.
 Levi, Aquarian Gospel, 66.
 Ibid., 87.
 Ibid., 251. 253.
 Philip J. Swihart, Reincarnation, Edgar Cayce, and the Bible
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978), 18.
 Anne Read, Edgar Cayce: On Jesus and His Church (New York: Warnera
Books, 1970), 70.
 David Spangler, The Laws of Manifestation (Forres, Scotland:
Findhorn Publications, 1983), 23-24.
 Spangler, Reflections on the Christ, (Forres, Scotland: Findhorn
Publications, 1981, 61.
 Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Teachings of
Jesus 3 (Livingston, MT: Summit University Press, 1988), 273[74.
 Notovitch, in Prophet, Lost Years, 229.
 Nicholas Roerich, Himalaya (New York: Brentano's 1926), cited by
 Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1979),
 Ibid., 126.
 Levi, Aquarian Gospel, 54.
 Ibid., 56.
 Ibid., 56.
 Levi, Aquarian Gospel, 12.
 Notovitch, cited by Prophet, 120.
43 Tal Brooke, When the World Will Be as One (Eugene, OR: Harvest
House Publishers, 1989) 118.
 Douglas Groothuis, Confronting the New Age (Downers Groves:
InterVarsity Press, 1988), 93.
Glossary of Key Terms
term applied to the social groups in India which rank in a
hierarchical order. The four primary castes -- from highest to lowest -- are: Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas
(peasants), and Sudras (unskilled laborers).
Christ. Variously defined, but
always seen as divine. Many New Agers speak of him (it) as a
universal, impersonal entity who -- among other things -- indwelt the
body of the human Jesus for three years (from his baptism to his
Followers of Jainism. Jainism is a religious system of India that
arose in the sixth century B.C. in protest against the ritualism of
Hinduism and the authority of the Vedas. Jains are rigidly ascetic,
believing in a strict control of wrong thought and action as a means
of escaping from the transmigration of the soul (rebirth) that
results from one's past actions (karma).
A metaphysical theory which sees all reality as a unified whole.
Everything is seen as being composed of the same substance.
Collections of aphorisms (or proverbs) which highlight the teachings
of the Vedas and Upanishads (Indian scriptures).
The oldest and most sacred scriptures of Hinduism. (The word veda
means "sacred knowledge.")
Followers of Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion founded by Zoroaster
(c. 628 B.C.-c. 551 B.C.). Zoroastrianism is an ethical religion
which espouses an ongoing struggle between two primal spirits: Ahura
Mazda (the good spirit), and Angra Mainyu (the evil spirit). Ahura
Mazda will ultimately triumph.