By Alan Graham
JERUSALEM (from ‘Milton’)
And did those feet in ancient time” is a short poem by William Blake from the preface to his epic Milton a Poem, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books. The date of 1804 on the title page is probably when the plates were begun, but the poem was printed c. 1808. Today it is best known as the anthem “Jerusalem”, with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916.The poem was inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea, a tin merchant, travelled to what is now England and visited Glastonburyduring the unknown years of Jesus. The legend is linked to an idea in the Book of Revelation (3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, wherein Jesus establishes a new Jerusalem. The Christian Church in general, and the English Church in particular, has long used Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace.
In the most common interpretation of the poem, Blake implies that a visit by Jesus would briefly create heaven in England, in contrast to the “dark Satanic Mills” of the Industrial Revolution. Blake’s poem asks four questions rather than asserting the historical truth of Christ’s visit. Thus the poem merely implies that there may, or may not, have been a divine visit, when there was briefly heaven in England.
Of Jesus’ visits to England, scattered evidence abounds. Here’s a short scenario from C.C. Dobson
“As a boy He was brought merely for a visit by Joseph of Arimathea on one of his voyages. Later as a young man He returned and settled at Glastonbury for the purpose of quiet study, prayer, and meditation. Here He erected for Himself a small house of mud and wattles. ” Dobson goes on to present historical evidence.
In a letter to Pope Gregory, St.Augustine states that there was a church “constructed by no human art, but divinely contructed (or by the hands of Christ Himself), for the salvation of His people.”
The historian, Gildas, says Jesus’ “Light and precepts” were “afforded…to this island during the …last year of the reign of Tiberius. Tiberius retired to Caprae in A.D. 27.
William of Malmesbury includes in his writings the contents of a letter given by King Ina to Glastonbury, 700 AD.”To the ancient church, situate in the place called Glastonbury (which Church the Great High Priest and Chiefest Minister formerly through His own ministry, and that of angels…..” This confirms Gildas’ statement that Jesus had a ministry at Glastonbury.
The historical records called the Domesday Surveys, also bear witness to Jesus’ presence in Glastonbury. These surveys state that Glastonbury contained 12 hides (160 acre parcels) of land that “have never paid tax.” This was because the King Arviragus gave these parcels to Joseph of Arimathea when he arrived in England in 37 AD.
Four of the many traditions of Jesus coming to England are discussed in Capt’s book.
Ancient carvings on the stone arch of Place Manor Church has an insignia of an anchor, a lamb and cross. The accompanying pictographs tell the story of Jesus and His uncle coming to Place for tin.
Another traditional story is that of Jesus teaching the miners of Cornwall how to smelt tin from ore.
Old Cornwall mining Ordinance maps show two interesting names. “Corpus Christi” (Body of Christ), and “Wheel of Jesus” (wheel is a Cornish name for mine). Also found in abundance in Cornwall’s mining area are “Tunic Crosses.” These crosses picture a Christian cross on one side and the image of a young lad dressed in a short tunic; obviously not a picture of a crucified or risen Christ.
This quote from Capt relates the Mendips mining area to Joseph and Jesus. “Traditions among the hill folk of Somerset relate that Joseph, after first seeking tin from the Scillies (islands) and Cornwall, came to the Mendips and was accompanied on several occassions by the boy Jesus. At the parish Church of Priddy, high on top of the Mendips, they have an old saying: ‘As sure as our Lord was at Priddy.’ And a carol sung be the children of Priddy begins: “Joseph was a tin merchant, a tin merchant, a tin merchant, and goes on to describe him arriving from the sea in a boat.”
Much has been written about the Lost Years of Jesus. Many accounts place him in India. One South American tradition sounds very much like Jesus visiting that continent. In fact, many say that the complete and speedy success of the Spanish invaders was due to this tradition; that the Visitor prophsied that He would return.
Consider. If Joseph had a fleet of ships, that gave Jesus access to worldwide travel. Do not doubt for even a second that world travel to ALL lands was possible. There is abundant evidence to prove the fact.
The traditions of Glastonbury and Cornwall form the following scenario:
Joseph of Arimathea was an uncle of the Virgin Mary, being a younger brother of her father. He gained his wealth as an importer in the tin trade, which existed between Cornwall and Phoenicia. On one of his voyages he took Our Lord with him when a boy. Our Lord either remained in Britain or returned later as a young man, and stayed in quiet retirement at Glastonbury. Here he erected for himself a small house of mud and wattle. Later Joseph of Arimathea, fleeing from Palestine, settled in the same place and erected a mud and wattle church there.
The contents of these several pages on the Cradle of Christianity will be found to over lap. That can’t be helped, as the whole topic takes in many areas of study which all relate importantly to each other. So the study of Jesus in Britain touches on the Royal family, the establishment of the Church, Paul’s visit to Britain, and even the founding of the Roman church.