Brief Book Report
The Drama of the Lost Disciples, by George F. Jowett, a well-documented account of Christian history during New Testament times and beyond. While the doctrine and gospel teachings of the New Testament are fundamental to our faith, the vast historical information in this book is largely unappreciated by the world. Yet, the historical information in this book is fundamental to understanding the main origin of the Christian movement following the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. For example, Jowett shares that Britain was the main reason why Christianity exploded throughout the then known world.
Our key player is Joseph of Arimathea – Jesus’ uncle, who took the Savior’s body from the cross and buried Him in his own tomb. Joseph was not only a well-respected member of the Sanhedrin but also a very successful merchant. He had ships carrying tin from Britain to many places in the known world. Jesus accompanied him on some of these trips.
Because of the extreme persecution of the Christians by the Jews and the Romans after Christ’s resurrection, they decided to send Joseph of Arimathea along with the family and close friends of Jesus to a watery grave by putting them in a boat without oars or sail. Besides Joseph, this included Jesus’ mother, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Lazurus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, the blind man, whose name was Maximum, healed in Chapter 9 of the gospel of John and others totaling twelve.
The Lord Worked a Miracle
The Lord worked a miracle and they ended up in Marseilles, Gaul, which then included France and much of Germany. They then traveled up to Britain, where they settled. The Druids, who are Hebrews, were prophetically expecting them. Their prophecies. like those in the Book of Mormon. knew of Jesus (the Messiah), his ministry in the Holy Land, being crucified and resurrected. During his lifetime, Jesus went with his uncle to Britain and made a special edifice for his mother, Mary – knowing that she would come there later.
The Name “Britain” and Christian Missionaries
Did you know “Britain” means a covenant man or women and a covenant people of God? And “England” means a people who worship God and not idols!
The Apostle Phillip ordained Joseph of Arimathea as the Apostle to the Britain’s. All eleven of the Apostles visited there including Paul. They quickly gained many converts and established the strongest Christian presence in the then known world. Lazarus and Mary Magdalene were incredible missionaries – bringing hundreds into the fold. Mary Magdalene’s beautiful voice and spirit touched people’s souls to the core as she sang and shared her testimony of the premiere appearance of the resurrected Lord to her at the garden tomb. Because of the great missionary success in Britain, they sent out large numbers of missionaries throughout the then known world.
In A.D. 42 the Roman Emperor Claudius decreed that all Christians, as well as Jews, should be killed in horrible ways to try to get others from joining the Christian movement, which was known as “The Way.” (John 14:6) The inspiring lifestyle of the martyrs not fearing death only fueled the fires for more converts, as people saw their faith.
Because the strongest missionary efforts were coming from Britain, the Romans decided in their military might to attack Britain and destroy all Christians there. They sent their best generals and war equipment. A nine-year war was waged ending in the defeat of the Romans, at their enormous embarrassment.
Two years into the war, Emperor Claudius “recognizing the futility of the struggle and the terrible drainage on his finest Legions,” agreed to a six-month truce – hoping for a possible peace. (p99) The Christians’ two main generals, Caractacus and Arviragus, were invited to Rome to negotiate. It continually fascinates me how the Lord can turn evil into good. While there, Arviragus, a British king became the son-in-law of the pagan Roman Emperor Claudius who had sworn to exterminate Christianity and Britain.” Claudius gave his daughter to Arviragus!
Back in Britain, during the sixth-month truce, Rome’s best general, Aulus Plautius, married Gladys (Celtic for Princess), who had been converted by Joseph of Arimathea, and who was Arviragus’ sister. So again we have a Christian marrying a pagan, and in both marriages, we gain two strong Christian converts, as the Lord works His miracles in the details. Gladys was a greatly respected scholar; her knowledge of Greek was well known.
The Christians would not compromise on their faith, so the truce did not bring about a peace agreement and the war continued. There were many more miracles during this war – reminding one of some of the war miracles described in the Book of Mormon and in the Book of Jasher. During the ensuing war the Christian’s main general, Caractacus, was betrayed and captured and brought to Rome with his family and put on trial.
Because Caractacus had soundly beaten many of the Roman generals during the war, the Romans were in awe at this man. When he was brought before the Roman Senate and Emperor Claudius, who hated Christians with a passion, his defense was so powerful that it resonated over history. It used to be on the lips of every British lad like Americans used to memorize the Gettysburg Address of Abraham Lincoln. It touched Emperor Claudius so deeply that he immediately granted Caractacus and his family their freedom with the stipulation that they would never raise arms against Rome. The Roman Senate stood and applauded loudly. The Queen Agrippira came over to Caractacus and his daughter, Gladys, who bravely stood by his side, and shook their hands and then in Roman style embraced them.
Caractacus was also made to promise that he would remain in Rome for seven years. “With his family, he resided at the Palatium Britannicum – ‘the Palace of the British’ – which was soon to become world-famous in Christian deeds and history.” (p 107) He perfectly kept his promise and amazing things happened as a result. Thousands of Roman soldiers turned to Christianity during that war – reminiscent of similar Book of Mormon stories.
There is a chapel and graveyard in Glastonbury where many of these famous people have been buried. As one looks at the historical documentation of the events described by Jowett, the resulting missionary efforts, if they were all documented, accumulate to be more significant than those described in the New Testament. For example, it is very probable that St. Patrick’s efforts to bring Ireland to Christianity is a spin-off of this movement.
At about the same time, Constantine, a Britain Christian convert, who became Emperor of Rome made Christianity the state religion for their country. The Episcopal Church claims direct apostolic succession from this early Britain Christian amazing leadership in Christianizing the world. Over the years false traditions have crept in and the loss of the priesthood brought about the need for the fullness of the gospel to be restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. As the Lord told Joseph, their creeds were an abomination in His sight.
Two Blessings for the World
In spite of the great apostasy from the original Church set up by Christ and a large number of denominations into which it has divided, the Bible provided for the world from the incredible sacrifices of those early Christians in the catacombs and otherwise to give us what we have, has blessed the world with more of goodness than any other book ever written. How blessed we are to have it in all the different languages across the globe. From the above, how grateful we need to be for the original Church in Britain to be such a great launchpad for Christianity going forth to the nations. Now we are enormously blessed to have a second witness that Jesus is the Christ coming from the western hemisphere in the Book of Mormon companion to the Bible coming from the eastern hemisphere.
David W Allan