Old hoaxes; Notovitch, Jacolliot, Jesus and India

The internet has given new life to some old hoaxes.  The idea that Jesus visited India and left otherwise unknown gospels there was advanced by a certain Notovitch in the 19th century.  I have just seen it appear again, all innocent and oblivious of criticism, in a crank discussion forum here.  Long ago I scanned some articles from Nineteenth Century magazine, in which the efficient British administrators of India went and interviewed the Tibetan lamas, with whom he supposedly communicated.

Rereading that article, I found references to other hoaxes in Max Muller’s comments. 

Be that as it may, M. Notovitch is not the first traveller in the East to whom Brâhmans or Buddhists have supplied, for a consideration, the information and even the manuscripts which they were in search of. Wilford’s case ought to have served as a warning, but we know it did not serve as a warning to M. Jacolliot when he published his Bible dans l’Inde from Sanskrit originals, supplied to him by learned Pandits at Chandranagor.

 Thanks to Google books, Mr Jacolliot’s book is available to read here, in the 1875 English translation.  The table of contents alone raises suspicions: long chapters on subjects like “Christian morality”, of no evident relevance, pad out the volume.  For as we know, most of these hoaxes are published for money, and a long book can be sold for more.  Sadly, after reading some 50 pages, I was unable to induce myself to read more.  The animosity of the author against the Christians was only equal to the vagueness of his rhetoric.  We must congratulate Dr Muller, that he managed to find something of substance in all this.

6 Responses to “Old hoaxes; Notovitch, Jacolliot, Jesus and India”


  1. Jona Lendering

    The internet has given new life to some old hoaxes.

    That’s what it’s meant for, isn’t it?

  2. Suzanne Olsson

    I hope you will explore these ideas further. Notovich may, or may not have been a fraud. But look to most recent investigations and examination of additional evidence. There are 12 accounts in the New Testament of witnesses seeing Jesus for months after the crucifixion. To answer the question “why would Jesus go to India in the first place” consider Jewish history up to the time of Jesus. Look at this ten part documentary about location of the Ten “Lost” Tribes scattered all over India and the Himalayas:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPILTGh8DuU&feature=PlayList&p=A5913BA35BF89C56&index=0

    The question becomes not “Did Jesus go to India?” It should be phrased: Why Not! Many of his ancestors were there.

    It’s a fascinating topic and the research is still in its infancy. Keep an open mind. And keep seeking new explanations. They’re out there.

  3. Dioscorus Boles

    Interesting to know such ideas exist; that some people believe in them; and that yet another group keep an open mind about them.

    I thought that the appearances of Jesus after his crucifixion only happened to people who had already knew him and believed in him before his death. I am happy to believe that Jesus appeared after his crucifixion to what is called “the lost tribes of Israel”, whether in India, China, Afghanistan or Ghana, only if it is equally possible (and provable) to say that he visited them before his crucifixion, lived there for sometime as he had lived in Palestine, preached to people there (lost tribes or others), and made converts before he later died in Palestine on the Cross [I just hope we are not further flabbergasted by a new claim that he actually also died there repeat deaths].

  4. stephanhuller

    “Hoax” is a little strong. Europeans think the apostles ran out of Palestine to come to us. Mormons think Jesus came over to America. Its better to view all of these things as examples of love rather than fraudulent acts.

  5. Andy

    I suspect this tradition is related to the traditions in the life of Appolonius of Tyana and in the Acts of Thomas…

  6. Roger Pearse

    Probably so.