>Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2003 9:21 AM
>Subject: [Determinism] Christmas 2003 - Dialogue about Jesus Christ
>Jesus defeated death not for him but for all of us. In order to open to all us the door towards a happy eternity. He defeated death to let us win that "useless passion" that is the short life on earth, opening prospectives of infinite when every way seemed closed by the black wall of a final and inevitable end. Here we will talk about His Resurrection, trying to answer some questions as the ones which follow for example:
>- Why can we understand the sense of our life only thinking of eternity ?
>- What are the reasons of our Faith?
>- And what about people who do not have Faith?
>- Why death?
>- Can reason and common sense help us in our Faith?
>- What is the mistake in the hypothesis which deny Jesus Christ?
ricercapap at lorenzocrescini.it
Jesus is nothing other than the allegorical metaphor for the realization that the cosmos is deterministic. To experientially realize determinism in the intense mystic altered state is to sacrifice one's lower self-conception. Resurrection is not something that happens after literal bodily death, but rather, after mystic ego death brought about through eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood, where these are nothing other than allegorical metaphors for visionary plants such as datura.
To enter the hidden kingdom of God is nothing other than being intimately familiar with the experience of cosmic determinism and recovering from such an overwhelming experience, with one's worldmodel revised, purified of the freewill delusion, which is sin. The devil is nothing other than an allegorization of the sense of powerful personal agency based on the freewill delusion.
>>It is almost obvious to a majority that the bible should be taken not literally. If it is or isn't, is perhaps irrelevant, Jesus' teachings that I remember certainly appear deterministic.
>>"Turn the other cheek" , for me is an example of a nfw standpoint. To blame and react in any real sense to the wrongdoings of another, within a determinstic reality is futile in the extreme. Another aspect of the paradox and absurdity of this.
>>>To experientially realize determinism in the intense mystic altered state is to sacrifice one's lower self-conception.
>>Sacrifice is perhaps not the correct term. To sacrifice is to give 'willingly'.
It was a subject of theological debate, how and whether the will is involved in regeneration. Jesus and Greek sacrifices were defined as giving themselves as a willing sacrifice. The will is turned and made to will the sacrifice of the lower self. The issue is not whether willingly, but rather, the nature of will: whether it is purely self-initiated by the person, or moved and turned by the cosmos (or by a benevolent transcendent mysterious hidden controller outside the cosmic deterministic block).
>>Even from a non no-free-will reference point, it does not follow that the intense mystic altered state is requested, wanted, asked for at any level of consciouness.
That viewpoint has it all backwards. Historically, speculation about determinism was a product of the mystic altered state. If the ancients hadn't been steeped in the intense mystic altered state, they would not have begun the discussion of determinism, and this newsgroup wouldn't exist (so to speak). Determinism was never requested, wanted, or asked for, but the mystic state experientially and conceptually reveals determinism, which kills the sense of freewill agency and is a product of the cessation of the sense of freewill agency.
Knowledge of determinism is a product of religion, or rather of the mental state which is the perennial foundationhead and wellspring of transcendent or peak, super-normal consciousness. Real religion is determinism.
Like Greek Attic tragedy, religious scriptures are deliberately designed to flip in meaning from initial freewillism of the non-initiated, to the no-free-will system of meaning, for the initiates. Low religion reads scriptures in a literalist and freewillist sense; high religion (which is actually esoteric/mystic religion-philosophy-science) reads scriptures in a purely metaphorical and no-free-willist sense.
>>It interesting to note your description of such an experience as perhaps severely or infinitely traumatic.
>>This is a viewpoint that strikes a chord. As to recovery I am not sure that there can be recovery, just a 'new order' or the continuation of the continuum.
Apply the old technique of using political/military metaphors to describe the cataclysmic shift from freewillism (the original sin) to determinism: the old era/kingdom was unstable, and a prophet can confidently predict it will fall in defeat; the new kingdom (the determinism mental worldmodel) will last and stand forever, and this revolution is led by a divine king, a true military Caesar/emperor, and those in this victorious kingdom are imperishable/immortal, unlike the doomed freewillists in the old kingdom.
The Rush album 2112, side 1, starts and ends with the mystic apocalyptic determinism revolution:
>And the meek (no-free-willists) shall inherit the earth
>We have (falsely) assumed control (our freewill controllership)
This set of ideas (the entheogen determinism theory of religion) is my original theory, which I have published provably in the newsgroup archives since 1995 or so, and discussed at the WELL since around 1990.
A clear, concise explication of mystical Christianity, conveyed in a compelling rational manner
The best way to truly explain mystical Christianity in summary would be to present a summary of the completely modern, non-metaphorical description of the core theory of initiation into transcendent knowledge, and then explain how that core model maps to all initiation schools, and how it maps to Christianity in particular.
Initiation systems including authentic Christianity are more or less distorted forms of using a series of visionary plant-induced mystic state sessions to loosen cognitive associations in order to progressively transform the mind's mental worldmodel from the naive freewillist mental worldmodel to the no-free-will worldmodel -- from the egoic to the transcendent worldmodel or interpretive framework.
Each visionary plant session is temporary but results in a permanent partial transformation of the mind's worldmodel. Religious myth and philosophy, such as astrotheology or sacred mathematics, is a metaphorical handle to express and convey, more or less indirectly, the insights and experiences of the mystic state, including the relationship between time, self, will, control, world.
There are two perspectives innate in the mind, producing two complementary worldmodels: the tight-cognitive-binding perspective is that of plurality, separateness, time flow, open future, and metaphysically free will. The loose-cognitive-binding perspective is that of unity, nonduality, tenseless time or timelessness, closed and preexisting future, and no-free-will (block-universe determinism).
The return to the ordinary state of consciousness includes the permanent retaining of the mystic-state worldmodel, in addition to the previous ordinary-state worldmodel. The return of the ordinary perspective and sense of freewill controllership can be ironically described as gaining freedom and being born out from the deterministic cosmos.
The figure of the arrested and self-betrayed would-be sovereign on the Cross is a metaphorical symbol and a description of mystic experiencing: the experience and insight of no-free-will. The narrow escape from death, and the rising from among the dead, is a metaphorical description of one's continued life after the series of mystic-state initiations.
The lamb, such as Abraham's, of that of the Exodus, or Jesus, represents no-free-will, in this mythic system, while the goat represents the freewill delusion. Throwing against-God Jonas overboard to calm the storm is a metaphorical description of repudiating freewillist thinking in order to avert chaotic self-control seizure in the peak of the intense mystic altered state and bring a return to stable, practical self-control, now with permanently retained divinely aligned thinking.
The Eucharist is a visionary plant, allegorized as divine flesh that teaches. Baptism and all other water themes (covered by Thorne) metaphorically describes the experience of visual distortion induced by visionary plants.
Four key characteristics of this model are: entheogen-based, no-free-will, rationality of mystic insight, and nonliteralism including nonhistoricity of founder figures. Lately a corrective idea that constantly arises as I read books is *experience* - myth is *description* of *experience*, experience interwoven with conceptual insight. The *experience* factor is not emphasized nearly enough in theories such as the astrotheology explanation of Christian myth.
Much myth is a metaphorical description of experience, not a mere symbol of a concept or relationship. Christian mystical intercourse metaphors also describe mystic-state experiencing -- feeling and bodily sense. Visionary plants are indicated metaphorically by garden, vine, wine, breaking bread, feast, incense, and banquet.
For more information, a summary of the core theory, expressed directly in terms of philosophy but barely mapped to any metaphorical system such as the Christian mythic system, is at http://www.egodeath.com/intro.htm. Descriptions of how that core theory of transcendence maps to the Christian myth system are currently scattered among my postings at the discussion group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/egodeath.
Christianity is a large mythic framework with many key elements. In a compact summary, it is only necessary to explain a few of the key mythic elements in terms of the mystical framework; the other key mythic elements to reconceive must be covered for a theory to qualify as a rational explanation of "Christianity", but they can be merely listed, now that the viable pattern or type of reinterpretation has been described:
This passing age vs. the age to come, end of time, apocalypse/unveiling, kingdom/kingship of God
Jesus' titles taken from ruler cult, which drew from the mystic state
The blessedness of the lastborn son
Being redeemed back (ransomed) as a slave/citizen of God rather than a slave/citizen of the Devil
Possession by a demon rather than posession by the spirit of Christ
Being one in Christ vs. possession by multiple demons
Mary Magdalene gnosticism/universality/division vs. Petrine literalism & ecclesiastical hierarchy/exclusivity/division (2 opposed ways of dividing people into saved/lost)
Election, predetermination, the elect/the lost
Angels/saints vs. demons
Changing from cursing Israel/Christians to blessing them
King losing his kingdom after drinking holy wine at banquet; first, idolatrous king losing his kingdom, second king gaining the kingdom
"Good versus evil" read within a framework of freewill moral agency vs. no-free-will gnosis. ("Good = knowing transcendent truth/purity; evil = ignorance/impurity" was a standard commonplace idea in Hellenistic philosophy)
What is the value or appeal of mystical salvation? Gain philosophical wisdom, mental integrity and maturity, perfection/completion of psyche, reconciliation of mind with truth, account satisfyingly for both modes of perception or cognition (ordinary and altered state).
"people soon become aware of that teaching of fate and gratefully submit to be moulded thereby"
If Schop. mentions garden, plant, drunkenness or abstinence (fasting) in addition to "fate" and "instruction", that would be a clue.
I take a different view on the flavor and character of medieval Christianity than moderns project upon it. It is more casual, more mythical, more spiritual, mystical, allegorical, metaphorical, folk, colorful, esoteric -- not literalist -- and more entheogenic, more Eastern Orthodox; more colorful, like Alexandrian mystery-schools, Hermeticism, like Holy Grail, magic, alchemy, and astrology. Only later, with the rise of Catholocism as we know it in the Protestant era, was the vibe of Catholicism as we now think of it created.
Out of a colorful gnostic-esoteric loose experiential Christianity, much later such as 1500s a stiff, regulated, doctrinal, and rigidly controlled and text-based, text-regulated Chrisitanity started. Studying renaissance esotericism, it is odd how casual and unconcerned esotericists are about the stiff gospel Christianity -- the solution is that such Christianity didn't exist yet, but formed out of the gnostic esoteric Hermeticism of the Renaissance or Middle Ages era -- that is, the few centuries after the fall of Rome in 476 and the Reformation of 1525.
Edwin Johnson basically proposes that there were 700 fewer years in that interval -- not a thousand years, but only 300 years between Rome's fall and the Reformation. In this sense, the Middle Ages did exist, but only lasted a few centuries. Between Rome and Reformation only a 333 years, not 1000; not a millenium, but only a third of a millenium.
During that third of a millenium, out of Western esotericism, folk-mystic Christianity was born, finally in the end (around 1533) leading to the invention of the Jesus and Paul pseudo-historical lifestories, back-projected and antedated to the years after Augustus, which were then pushed even further back into seeming antiquity by fabricating and inserting 700 phantom years.
The Turin Shroud, Jacques De Molay (perhaps crucified and resuscitated Oct 17, 1307), dualism, and the Cathars and Templars could fit into Johnson's new chronology; the historicized Jesus figure and shroud was based on the torment of De Molay and the Cathars/Templars, and was later back-projected by a thousand years, finally becoming fully reified back in the ancient times when the rebellious anti-Rome German monks and other aligned monastic orders in the 1500s set up a paper-based battlefield which the Catholic Church was quite reluctantly drawn onto.
>> What if your theory is "It's all mythic-experiencing allegory" -- can that be shown false?
>This is an excellent question ... I suggest that you answer it. What kind of evidence could count against the theory? And what kind of evidence could count in favor of the theory?
It is easy to prove that Christianity is *at least* mythic-experiencing allegory, and it's easy to prove that no HJ is needed to explain the origin of Christianity. The hard-to-prove question is, in addition to the mythic Jesus, was there *also* an HJ? Was Jesus, in addition to being the cosmic Christ we can prove and agree upon, *also* a historical actual particular man?
Can we disprove "Jesus was entirely mythic-experiencing allegory"?
That's like asking, "Can we prove that Jesus was *nothing but* mythic-experiencing allegory?" We can prove Jesus was mythic-experiencing allegory, but can we prove that he wasn't *also* historical?
I state these points because of the tricky language regarding myth. The conservative agrees Jesus was mythic, but rejects the idea that Jesus was *only* mythic. The conservative Jesus is both "fully mythic* in a certain sense, *and* fully human. Here we get into theological type of linguistic distinctions. These ideas aren't tricky, it's just that the language is slightly squirrely because it has some flexibility.
We *can* prove that Jesus was strictly a mythic-experiencing figure. This amounts to proving that Christianity does not require any particular individual Jesus. Point me to any man who existed, then remove him from history -- and Christianity could remain standing. This is what it means to prove that there was no Jesus: to prove that Christianity is in principle independent of any one particular man.
If Christianity can have originated with no Jesus, then by definition, Jesus didn't exist -- where "Jesus" is defined as "the man upon whom Christianity depends and rests, and from whose life Christianity originated". If Christianity doesn't need any one hypothetical HJ, then by definition, Jesus didn't exist other than the Jesus of mystic experiencing. Christianity depended only on the existence of *types* of men, not any one *particular* man.
What kind of evidence can prove that Christianity depended on a particular distinctive individual man for it to begin and take hold? None can in practice, because we have coherent and satisfactory models of Christian origins that do not need any particular man Jesus. Such a Jesus-independent model of Christian origins does need a fair number of Jesus-type figures to have actually existed, to make the story meaningful and not just a fantasy.
The evidence has been laid before us fully enough already: there were many Jesus-like men, more than enough to spur the creation of a Hellenistic Jewish-styled, pseudo-historical version of the Mystery Religion. We have relevant evidence, we have relevant theories, and this no-HJ model of Christian origins is fully coherent.
If we hypothetically kick away and remove from history any one historical Jesus-candidate that we have found in the texts, the no-HJ model of Christian origins still remains fully coherent. The Fundamentalist extreme insists that Christianity absolutely depends on one particular man, but the evidence before us refutes that claim that Christianity requires an HJ or it never could have gotten started and taken hold.
There were many partially Jesus-like men, but the accustomed Jesus-dependent Christianity puts forth one Jesus more than is needed to explain the origin of Christianity.
>referring to Andrew Welburn's book, "Gnosis: The Mysteries and Christianity"
Welburn's Beginnings of Christianity is so profound, it was challenging to get through, even though clearly written.
>Welburn shows the similiarities between:
>o The Babylonian mysteries
>o The Persian Magi
>o The Mandaean Initiation Ceremony
>o The Annunciation of Simon Magus
>o The Essene Initiation Ceremony and the Poem of Thankgsgiving
>o The Hermetic Poimandres
The Jewish religion was *always* largely esoteric experiential mystery-myth; only artifice, inherent in Literalist religion, makes the Jewish religion seem to be different than the Hellenistic or other religions.
The esoteric peak of all religions is one and the same; the mystics from different traditions tend to all agree with each other. Only the bottom of these mountains of religion, the exoteric surface level, tends to create opposition between religions.
The Literalist Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, and Buddha are at war against each other; while the Gnostic Moses, Mohammed, and Buddha are the same being, in agreement with himself. Just as individual people are esoterically the limbs of the transcendent One Being, so are the various exoteric religions secretly, on the esoteric level, all the one true religion. The one false religion is the Literalist/exoteric religions (plural); the one true religion is the Gnostic/allegorical/esoteric religion (singular).
At one point Freke & Gandy say that the passover meal was artificially portrayed by the inventors of Christianity as a sacred meal of the mysteries. But I emphasize that the right way to think of the passover meal is that it was always a sacred meal associated with mystic/mythic experiencing, to the esoteric Jews who probably created the whole passover notion and story in the first place.
The passover meal, correctly understood in its own tradition, really was a sacred meal, to begin with. Portraying it as a Hellenistic sacred meal was not inventing a distorting interpretation, but rather, recovering the original esoteric meaning of the passover meal. In the Jewish esoteric religion, the passover meal is exactly equivalent and the same as the sacred meal in the Hellenistic mystery-religion.
This whole notion that the Jews were religiously different than the Hellenes is exoteric nonsense and dissimulation, sleight of hand, deliberate obscuring of the true essence of both religions. We must keep straight and differentiate socio-political concerns and motives from true religion proper, which is experiential esoteric religion. Yes, socio-politically, the followers of Dionysus or Moses or Jesus were rebels against the enemy kingly rulers in power, and tend to be opposed to Ruler Cult.
But regarding the esoteric dimension of religion, which is the truly religious dimension of religion (as opposed to the socio-political dimension), there can be no talk of one religion being against another; there is only the universal and truly catholic church which is purely a matter of the highest type of religion, which is esoteric religion. On this reasoning, in a certain sense, it's impossible to have two esoteric religions that are against each other.
It is impossible that esoteric Judaism is against esoteric Islam, against esoteric Christianity, against esoteric Ruler Cult, against esoteric Shamanism, against esoteric Shinto or Zen or Hermeticism or Essenism. The esotericists of all these nominally "different religions" all consciously unite into one body of the elect, the saved, the true Israel, the obedient of Allah: there is no more "Jew" or "Pagan" or "Christian".
Across all esoteric religion or "religions", there is only one member: in Freke and Gandy's broad sense, "the Gnostics", in the Gnostic Religion, which is the true universal, "catholic" religion. Supposing that there is a particular religious tradition called "Gnosticism" in a narrow sense, such narrow-sense "Gnosticism" would include some elite who are true esoteric Gnostics in the universal, multi-religion sense.
Freke & Gandy's broad, universal definition of Gnosticism enables one to self-identify as a "Gnostic" even if one finds the particular historical forms of Gnosticism distasteful. In the phrasing "Gnostic vs. Literalist religion", the twofold definition of "Gnostic" -- broad and narrow -- is flexible but confusing, so it is really clearer to say "esoteric vs. exoteric religion", or the nice combined phrasing "exoteric/Literalist vs. esoteric/Gnostic religion".
In Valentinian Gnosticism, which may be the originally intended way of reading the Pauline scriptures, "Jew" is a metaphorical code-word for "exoteric/Literalist/lower religionist", while "Gentile" or "Greek" is a metaphorical code-word for "esoteric/Gnostic/higher religionist".
So in Pauline writings, studying the relation between Jews and Gentiles is actually studying the right relation between exoteric/Literalist/lower religionists and esoteric/Gnostic/higher religionists, which fits with Pagels' excellent book The Gnostic Paul (a book that I need to study again).
People unfairly compare lower/exoteric/Literalist Christianity to higher/esoteric/Gnostic Buddhism. True profit lies in comparing all exoteric to all esoteric religion. What many end up doing in practice is saying "my simplistic Buddhism is better than your simplistic Christianity", when neither of them actually lead to transformation, revelation, and enlightenment.
It can end up as a battle of cartoon Buddhism against cartoon Christianity. We need a way to embrace and transcend the truly esoteric/higher level of all religions.
>The category 'no religion' is shrinking, rather than growing
That page is really meaningless and worthless from the point of view of the esoteric religionists.
Is esoteric/mythic/gnostic religion growing? Does the growth consist of Literalist religion, or Gnostic (esoteric) religion?
What we need is a graph of the global Literalist religion vs. the global Gnostic religion, as defined by Freke & Gandy. That site is crude, talking simply of "Christianity" as though Literalism were the only possible kind of basis for all denominations, for all self-described Christians. "Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox" fails to capture this key distinction.
Many self-described "Christians" and scholars of Christianity reject Literalism and would disown this site's conception of Christianity as embarrassingly crude. The Literalists assume their definition of the religion is traditional and comfortably dominant -- they might find, however, that esoteric-only Christianity is growing in popularity. Who gets to define what is "normal" and "traditional" Christianity -- which one is "orthodox" and which one is "heretical"?
The Jesus Mysteries point of view may suggest that esoteric Christianity was a stronger and more deeply rooted tradition than the Literalists admit or realize. Consider the book title, Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0609802224 ), or a variation which could be Stealing Christ: How Literalism Betrays Christianity.
The subject is defining "normal" Christianity is relevant to reconceiving the Jesus figure. If gnostic Christianity can claim to be the true normal Christianity, the true traditional Christianity, this co-strengthens the Jesus Mysteries Hypothesis. In the Literalist paradigm of conceiving Jesus and Christianity, Literalism is traditional and Gnosticism is abnormal, a deviation.
In the Gnostic paradigm of conceiving Jesus and Christianity, Gnosticism is traditional and Literalism is abnormal, a deviation. We have recently entered the post-Scrolls era -- the discoveries didn't *immediately* collapse "Christianity" -- that is, religious Literalism; it's taking a few decades to work out the ramifications and reconceive the origin of Christianity. These pieces all work together, writing a new religious history.
The wild ride for Literalist Christianity is just beginning -- the trends can't be simply dismissed as "liberal apostasy". "The problem of religious pluralism" looms tall over "the Literalist faith". Related problems are "postmodernist Christian scholarship". What are Literalists to think when one says "I am a Christian, Jesus is my savior" -- but intends an esoteric matrix of meaning, uttering statements within a fully esoteric paradigm that embraces and affirms religous universality and pluralism?
These are some of the overarching big issues connected with the question "Did Jesus exist?" or "How are we to correctly think of Jesus?" A relevant book is A New
Religious America: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060621583 (20th & 50th most popular book at Amazon)
Another popular book (34,000) is In Search of Grace: A Religious Outsider's Journey Across America's Landscape of Faith
Like the so-called "Moral Majority" which some say is neither moral nor a majority, Literalist Christianity for a time convinced itself that it is the only way to think of Christianity, and is still telling that same story, but lately there is a strong interest in exploring and aggressively touring varieties of religion, and such an attitude of exploration seems to favor universalist attitudes such as esoteric, or Gnostic, Christianity -- very much including the new/ancient "denomination" of mystery-religion Christianity, not just the more familiar and safely orthodox-controlled "Christian mysticism" pictured as "Catholic mysticism" which has been turned into a dull scholarly topic mixed with cloying emotional poeticism: the ivory tower incarnation of New Age flakiness.
Mystery-religion Christianity is separate from "Christian mysticism"; the spirituality bookstores are packed with later, *mystic*-style esoteric Christianity, but almost no early, *mystery-religion*-style esoteric Christianity. These bookstores *do* carry The Jesus Mysteries, and Jesus and the Lost Goddess, and by the way some of Steiner's writings on Christianity as mystery-religion initiation: studies of this early brand of esoteric Christianity are so rare as to be an exception.
I'm looking forward to a revisionist esoteric history of Christianity that starts with Jesus the mythic-only Hellenistic/Jewish-esoteric godman/savior, and follows a continued semi-suppressed gnostic/esoteric tradition all the way through the mystic era and renaissance heretical traditions, through the Radical Reformation, to the feral enthusiasm of post-Revolution tent-meeting revival camps, to Pentacostalism (thriving), to today's experiential mystic Christians of late modernity and postmodernity -- there is a book somewhat along this theme. Erik Davis: TechGnosis: Myth, Magic + Mysticism in the Age of Information (41,000 and 72,000 in popularity -- that's pretty popular). http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/060980474X
I wonder how he proposes that we think of the Jesus figure; I think the book focuses on specifically Christian gnostic/mystic style, rather than world mysticism. He could be expected to portray Jesus as some prototypical tech-Gnostic, some info-tech consciousness hacker who brought down the temple mainframes.
Formulating an Esoteric Theory of Christianity That Is Completely Independent of, though Informed By, the Beliefs of Particular Original Christians and Later Esoteric Christians
>Do you want to say that the first Christians saw their godman [and reincarnation] that [esoteric-only] way? That much in Paul says just this?
Michael Hoffman wrote:
>To fully establish the primacy of esoteric Christianity over Literalist Christianity, it is important to both attain a beautifully self-consistent esoteric understanding of Christianity that is independent of what any individuals thought, and, establish that in fact the original Christians and later mystics held just this esoteric understanding of Christianity.
I'm clarifying "in fact... held just this ... understanding", for accuracy:
The original Christians and later mystics held views that approached, ultimately implied, and pointed toward, this esoteric understanding of Christianity -- even if the view of any particular esoteric Christian fell short of this understanding and missed this mark to some degree.
No measurement of a star's position is exactly accurate, yet a set of measurements converges on pointing to the star's actual location. Similarly, we may say with precision that the original Christians and later mystics held views that *converged upon* the esoteric understanding of Christianity and especially the esoteric way of thinking (mode of thinking) which I defined at the start of this thread. This same concept of conceptual convergence is used by Freke & Gandy in their pair of books:
The Jesus Mysteries: How the Pagan Mysteries of Osiris-Dionysus Were Rewritten as the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Jesus and the Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians
Freke and Gandy explain that each Gnostic Christian was expected to hold their own version of Gnosticism -- however, we may still, these authors point out, accurately generalize "what the Christian Gnostics believed", including *how* they believed, or the *mode* of belief they held, or the kind of thinking they used.
At the extreme, I aim to define an understanding of "true, ultimate, authentic, original" Christianity that would still stand even if *no* early or later Christian agreed with it. I don't want to make true Christianity depend on any happenstance of mundane history. I seek a more scientific-discovery approach, which enables us to discover an understanding for the first time, even if all the "ancient authorities" disagree.
This is thus an issue of the philosophy of progress. A few centuries ago, ancient authority was treated as a limiting factor: what was old was true, and there couldn't be progress of knowledge, but only a rediscovery of what the ancient authorities knew. But the age of scientific discovery finally broke out of those mental shackles, and declared that it's possible, and actual, that the ancient authorities could all have been mistaken.
In creating a modern science of religion, and progressing toward a new understanding of what religion is really ultimately about, we must take the ancient authorities such as the original Christians such as Marcion, into account, without making a true theory of religion stand or fall based on the accidents of history such as what Marcion thought. We can now figure out what Christianity ultimately is really about.
If Marcion or the original Christians don't fully agree, then too bad for that data -- the theory remains correct. We cannot and should not make the esoteric theory of Christianity vulnerably dependent upon what we might discover about the beliefs of previous Christians, esoteric or otherwise.
This is the same conclusion orthodox Literalist Christianity, as a paradigm, had to reach in mid 20th century: orthodox Christianity as a paradigm had to be explicitly severed from the accidents of any and all writings that could be unearthed, or else it would remain in too tentative and vulnerable a position. To strengthen the fortress of the orthodox paradigm of Literalist Christianity, they had to in principle declare Christianity to be completely independent of any and all possible evidence.
So must esoteric Christianity as a paradigm necessarily do the same: it must be held as completely independent of any and all possible evidence, to be a self-existing stable paradigm. However, independence doesn't mean irrelevance; although the two versions of Christianity are completely independent of evidence, the evidence is still relevant, but not dependently so.
So the two goals are distinct (independent in-principle) but interrelated: explain what the esoteric version of Christianity must be, and, show that the original Christians and later heretic-mystics held views that converge upon such an esoteric version of Christianity.
The orthodox, official, Literalist Christian would say: the two goals are distinct (independent in-principle) but interrelated: explain what the orthodox, official version of Christianity must be, and, show that the original Christians and later orthodox Christians held views that converge upon such an orthodox, official version of Christianity.
>>To strengthen the fortress of the orthodox paradigm of Literalist Christianity, they had to in principle declare Christianity to be completely independent of any and all possible evidence.
>This was very neatly done by the literalists by saying the Bible was essentially written by God, and no questions can be asked. If esoteric Christianity is a creative expression of the perennial philosophy, it can call up no such authority.
>Any or all of what is unearthed is valid, I should think, and gives different shadings to the general idea.
Esoteric Christians say that the Bible was essentially written by the Holy Spirit and can only be truly interpreted with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and that the esoteric Christians possess the Holy Spirit, while orthodox, Literalist Christians lack the Holy Spirit. Esoteric Christianity rests its case on the authority of the Holy Spirit, which includes reason and shines true light on historical evidence.
My short review of Steiner's book Christianity as Mystical Fact
As good and prescient as Welburn asserted
I learned about this book while reading translator Andrew Welburn's excellent book The Beginnings of Christianity: Essene Mystery, Gnostic Revelation and the Christian Vision. These two books should be treated as a set. I was apprehensive about reading Steiner, not wanting anything to do with occult, psychic, or reincarnation ideas -- fortunately, none of these appear in this particular book.
Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in the original, esoteric forms of Christianity as a Jewish-styled version of the Hellenistic mystery-religion, as described in the book The Jesus Mysteries, by Freke and Gandy.
In tracing the origins and early development of Christianity, the term terms "original" and "later" are too ambiguous to be used without full qualification. The task at hand is tracing the gradual coalescence of an apparently single religion and an apparently single historical figure over several centuries, such as 100 BCE to 400 CE. This task amounts to coming up with the simplest story of development that involves a few threads and a few phases, without getting lost in complexity of detail.
A good "starting point" for anything that can be called a "Jesus" figure is the following sequence of overlapping phases, each one "appropriating" or "co-opting" much of the previous phases:
o Esoteric Hebrew religion, which always integrated political elements and mystic allegorical elements
o Apocalyptic Hebrew religion (rich integration of political concepts/metaphors and mystic allegory)
o Hellenistic Diaspora Judaism
o Earliest Christian Gnosticism (~ 110-280) -- with continued presence of political concepts (archons)
o Relatively explicitly politicized Christian religion with Jesus defined as anti-Caesar (~ 140-312)
o State Christianity (313) -- gradual emphasis on supernaturalist Literalism, not mystic or political
These overlap in time and occur differently in different locations.
To study development and political/mystic development within Christianity, we should also consider Heretical, 2-gods, Cathar, and Marian Christianity (1000-1600).
The popular underclass isn't necessarily the creator of political/mystic-state metaphor such as may be present in "Mary, Queen of Heaven" or "Jesus, Lord and Savior", but they are the "body" that provides numbers of adherents to a socio-political religion that is largely defined by the "mystic class" -- educated scribes who are skilled at triggering the mystic state and characterizing it in terms of interwoven political and mystic/mythic metaphor.
These scribal mystic allegorists -- "prophets" -- are often at odds with the power-mongers who try to take over the religion.
The working hypothesis and axiomatic framework of assumptions of entheogenists is that mystic religion has always flowed from the fountainhead of an entheogenic pharmacotheon -- a variable and open range of, often combined, psychoactive plants, including opium, cannabis, psychoactive mushrooms such as Amanita and psilocybin cubensis, belladonna, henbane, water-filtered ergot, certain strains of water lily, datura, syrian rue, and others.
"Mixed wine" was *the* wine and is defined as including indeterminate and variable "herbs and spices". On this view, "prophetic reform and revival movements" has often meant an entheogenic revival coming from the educated and entheogen-using members of both the ruling class and the popular underclass.
The influence of this "other class" or "Class X" leads to a more complex and realistic view than a simplified 2-class conception. It's easy to spot these three approaches in Christianity and the War on Drugs (with interesting parallels):
o The truly ignorant mass populace who believes Literalism and propaganda.
o The educated but immoral and opportunist ruling class who promotes Literalism and propaganda certainly without believing it.
o The mystic, monastic, intelligent class -- the heretics.