Christ as infinite, universal meaning magnet
After the initial insight of making a socially and politically relevant version of the standard Hellenistic mystery-religion, a move which did have a few precedents, the way was opened to pile on any and every meaning. The problem then for the mythmakers was how to proceed building the Jesus Christ myth in a way that would remain maximally open to attaching an unlimited number of traditions:
o Wisdom teachers
o Neoplatonist philosophers
o Gnostic way-showers
o Cult leaders
o Warrior saviors
o Rebel leaders
o Crucified rebels
o Secular kings
o Divinized kings
o Legal interpreters (rabbis)
o Astrological mythic figures
o Personified entheogens
See my posting on the 83 Jesuses in this or the Jesus Mysteries discussion group.
Recently I have put forth a theory that emphasizes an integration of just two Jesus roles:
1. Jesus' story sequence is an allegory for mystical experience. The last supper, betrayal, arrest, trial, judgment, sentencing, scourging, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and co-kingship with God represents what the initiate experiences during the entheogenic encounter with divine Fatedness.
2. This allegorical story sequence emphasizes social and political concerns, a rejection of the abuse of religion and politics to oppress people.
That 2-part proposal is a true and satisfying breakthrough, but a major problem in theories of the origin of Christianity is that there are too many true and satisfying breakthroughs, too many rediscoveries of yet another "correct and deepest understanding" of what the Christ story-space is all about. It is not a question of which reading is exclusively correct, but rather, how the system works in general to permit fitting together and packing together an unlimited number of readings.
It's a Jesus-meaning construction-set game; how many religious, political, and philosophical meanings, myths, and traditions can you semi-coherently cram into a single figure? If you maintain that there is a real single historical Jesus, or two or three of them, under this mountain of meanings, the issue remains, how do we decide which meaning is the "real" or main one, which ones are "true" but secondary, and which ones are "false" or "just mythic additions"?
Gnosticism was very important, so was astrotheology and cosmic determinism, so were the mystery-religions, so was political oppression and rebellion, so were social concerns, and healing was certainly important. There are too many "strong and certain" readings. A firm case has been made for Jesus as prophet of apocalypse, as political/social rebel, as hierophantic conductor of mystery-initiations, as healer, as exorcist, as philosopher, et cetera ad nauseum.
So we have to have a strong theory of Jesus Christ as an infinite universal peg on which an unlimited number of meanings could be hung: the Christ figure as a black hole of meaning, an infinite meaning- magnet. The wrong reaction is to try to divide the meanings into true and false ones, dividing up the historical Jesus from the added mythic Jesus. The right approach is to take a major step back and embrace it all as a virtually real historical figure, into whom every myth and tradition could be packed without limit.
Jesus Christ is designed and engineered to be the man for every need. The task at hand is *not* to sort the real and mythic-only *particular* roles, but to jump up a level and explain how the figure of Jesus Christ is designed from the start to be an unlimited framework for attaching any and every tradition. What could this figure then be used for? Anything; he's a free-floating meaning- nexus that everyone charges with every meaning they wish to, to then apply the power of that figure to any cause they want to. After we have defined this hermeneutic black-hole of endless interpretation and infinite meaning, we can then pull back out of this relativistic haze and read what the relationship among all these roles is.
Given that Jesus was a teacher healer exorcist magician king peasant hierophant priest prophet warrior rebel Gnostic astrotheological mythic actual person, and so much more, how can we organize and make sense out of this plethora of hats he "virtually really" wore? We have to ask which roles, if any, are dominant.
From a religious-experience perspective, Christ as mystery-religion dying-and-rising savior figure is more important than the other figures.
From a storyline perspective, Christ is primarily a subversive rebel leader against the in-power establishment, who evidently lost the power battle at least for the time being but won the battle if shifted to the spiritual and metaphysical plane.
Freke and Gandy are wrong to emphasize the Gnostic Christ over the political Christ, and Acharya S is wrong to emphasize the astrotheological Christ over the mystery-experience Christ and political Christ.
The author of the book about Christ as exorcist is wrong in that he doesn't read exorcism as an expression of the core idea of mystery- experience in which one discovers animalistic broken logic about one's control agency and loathes it as a lower, alien pollution and seeks to eliminate it forevermore.
The sappy liberal books about Jesus as a self-help philosopher are wrong in that the self-help philosopher role of Christ can't be seen as the leading purpose the Christ figure was created.
Now it is time for all the valid readings to battle it out for *relative ranking*. Christ is definitely an overloaded figure, but which readings are somehow "main"? Certainly, few people would want to assert than all roles which are validly assigned to Jesus are exactly equally valuable. How do the roles fit together as a system? In a system, there are usually main systems and subsystems, or higher and lower levels.
How can we draw a system diagram of the hermeneutically overloaded Jesus Christ construct? It's time to place our bets: given that all readings are valid, the question now is if you had to pick two readings as *most* valid, as "predominant" readings, which would you pick? which do you value? That depends on your purposes. If your goal is self-help, then the self-help Jesus is most important to you. My goal is to understand the original, early, dominant Jesus Christ figure in terms of a block-universe determinism theory, in which such determinism or overpowering frozen timeless Fatedness is revealed via entheogenic loose cognition.
I think the Jesus Christ storyline as storyline is mainly the story of political/social/religious rebellion against the in-power establishment which made contrary claims about religion, claims which oppressed people. And, if this storyline is to be more than a political-philosophy *commentary* on religion, but is instead to provide genuine religious experience and deep religious insight into higher reality -- that is, if Jesus Christ is to be a truly *religious* figure and not just a political philosopher and moralist resisting the abuse of religion -- then we must read him from the perspective of the Hellenistic mystery-religions.
What religion do I believe? Hellenistic mystery-religions, interpreted as an allegorical encoding of the entheogenic encounter with Fatedness. I believe that Real Religion, True Religion, is the use of entheogens, and that entheogens reveal Fatedness and refute ego, and ego is essentially a delusion that the will is metaphysically free. Entheogens reveal that our sense of controllership is a delusion; we are puppets frozen into preexistent spacetime block universe that has a single future.
This worldmodel is very simple, comprehensible, clear, and specific, as opposed to the open-future freewillist worldmodel, which is complex, incomprehensible, baffling, and vague. I believe that Hellenistic mystery-religions emphatically agree with the above views.
Given my religious belief -- my theory about what real religion is -- I would say that Jesus Christ must be primarily understood as a Hellenistic mystery-religion figure whose storyline expresses the altered state experiences that the initiate experiences first-hand.
So the Jesus Christ figure absolutely, strongly must be read as a political/social/religious rebel leader against the in-power establishment which made contrary and oppressive claims about religion and the established worldly order.
And the Jesus Christ figure absolutely, strongly must be read as a Hellenistic mystery-religion figure whose storyline expresses the altered state experiences that the initiate experiences first-hand.
What then of the perfectly valid and proven-true readings of Jesus Christ as astrotheological figure, healer, exorcist, wisdom teacher, prophet, sage, cynic, stoic, neoplatonist philosopher, priest, magician, Gnostic way-shower, cult leader, warrior savior, crucified rebel, secular king, divinized king, rabbi, astrological figure, and personified entheogen?
Every one of those roles is either to be subsumed as part of the primary two roles I defined, or as secondary add-ons to the core Jesus figure. The definers of Christianity had to work hard to keep these manifold roles in the main configuration, in which the rebel loser but spiritual winner story holds together, and as a mythic story, continues to express coherently the Abrahamic and mystery-cult ideas of the sacrificed child-self, a drama experienced in mystery initiation experience.
For the problem of accepting but fitting together the overabundant plurality of Jesus figures, the best current book to start with may be:
"Will you find the historical Jesus in this book? No. But you will find an early Church struggling with a polyglot of beliefs attempting to blend them into a cohesive fabric of faith. Perhaps it is that dynamic that has kept "The Church" alive for two millennia. Mysticism and Gnostic thinking are on the rise again and "The Church" on the eve of another evolutionary move -- here's the first map of the territory ahead."
I place my bets for "the king of the Jesuses" as being the political/social/religious rebel leader against the in-power establishment, and the Hellenistic mystery-religion figure whose storyline expresses the altered state experiences that the initiate experiences first-hand. And, strengthening my contender for the master-reading of Jesus, I maintain that these two roles have a unique combined relationship:
Most essentially, Jesus Christ is a Hellenistic mystery-religion figure whose storyline expresses the altered state experiences that the initiate experiences first-hand; his storyline is that of a political/social/religious rebel leader against the in-power establishment which claimed divine approval for the established social ordering of the world.
Many roles attributed to Jesus can be subsumed into that main theme of political-style mystery religion, and the remaining roles are subsidiary add-ons using the framework principle of Christ as infinite, universal meaning magnet.
The "real, actual, history-based Jesus" is a Jewish-political- rebellion styled mythic mystery-religion dying-and-rising savior figure. He is only secondarily a healer, astrology figure, or Gnostic way-shower. He *is* an exorcist, but only as part of the primary role of being a mystery-religion savior figure that expresses our willing elimination of the animalistic delusion of egoic freewill or elimination of the naive, childlike assumption of our metaphysical sovereignty and self-authorship.
Although the Jesus Christ figure is an infinite, universal meaning magnet, some of these meanings are primary and fundamental, and others are subsidiary and secondary. I'm not claiming that this is the only way things *could have* originated and been formed. I'm claiming that, on the whole, Christianity in fact mainly originated and was formulated this way. I'm not claiming that most early Christians conceived of Christianity this way, but that this is the most coherent way to conceive of the origin of Christianity.
I base my argument on the fact that the surface story of Jesus Christ is primarily characterized by political rebellion along with religious contention, and that the highest and most respected religion of that era was Hellenistic mystery religions, considered as entheogenic and cosmic determinism-oriented. Religion has exoteric and esoteric levels. It is clear that the Christian *exoteric* religion is supernaturalist and moralist reading of a religio- political rebellion involving a kind of victory-through-defeat. And it is clear enough that the Christian *esoteric* religion follows the allegory-of-experience conventions of the time, wherein the storyline of the dying/rising savior allegorizes and gives tangible expression to the mystic altered state experience of the initiate.
So my integrated twofold reading of the real, main Jesus Christ figure accounts for exoteric and esoteric dimensions of early Christianity as a religion. Other interpretations of the Jesus role either are weak and unrealistic in their exoteric picture, focusing on the esoteric only, or are weak in the esoteric, either seeking a super-busy historical Jesus or denying his existence as a single towering man altogether -- or, if they have both dimensions, they are not properly integrated; Jesus is held to be a hierophantic mystery- religion initator who was, in an unrelated series of events, unfortunately sacrificed. In contrast, my reading is that the political storyline serves as the dramatic mythic storyline seen in Hellenistic mystery-initiation, so that the exoteric and esoteric are integrated, just as they are in the mystery-religions with their dramatic mythic storylines of the dying/rising savior.
A tremendous number of roles can be and were integrated into this basic two-level framework of a political-style mystery-religion. The resulting overloaded hypermyth is breathtakingly meaning-packed, a work of almost supernatural genius.
Human existence is an infinitely improbable mysterious result of a scientific-become-religious Cosmic Anthropic Principle (that the driving principle to set all physics values was "do whatever is needed so that intelligent conscious life results"). Such a principle seems needed to explain how *so many* roles were successfully packed into the figure of Jesus Christ. How can so many characterizations of this superhumanly busy man all be true and (more or less) coherently integrated?
But despite all those roles, the complex system, like a personal computer, does have some primary, driving components. The main components of the Jesus figure are the "UI" (user interface) -- the exoteric political storyline -- and the "CPU" (central processing unit) -- the esoteric allegorical mystery-religion. All the other roles are added on at a deeper or shallower level, like peripherals or supporting subsystems.
Let us not be excessively impressed by the complexity of actual systems that many people have labored to construct, modify, and enhance. The people who lived in late antiquity *lived* in it and were *experts* at the political and mystery-religion concerns of their time, whereas *we* are struggling to awaken from our dark ages and rutted ways of thinking. The computers we construct would be, for a long time, completely unfathomable to them, and their political thinking, mystery-religion system, and the combination of the two, have been, for awhile, completely unfathomable to us.
In the beginning was the CPU and the UI, which was mystery-religion and political allegory, and much complexity was added, but still, to this day, there is the essentially same CPU and UI in the religious figure of Jesus Christ, who is our mystery-initiation experience and our rebellion against any worldly rulers who would claim holy or divine approval of their oppressive regimes.
The single-aspect or single-source fallacy of Jesus is an overwhelming tendency among explainers of the formation of the Christ figure.
No scholar *completely* reduces their explanation of the source for the Jesus figure to a single source or theme, but each scholar in practice grossly emphasizes a single theme while grossly downplaying the other themes, rather than meaningfully and insightfully integrating or relating the various themes, at least in terms of assessing the relative import or historical sequence of the various "Jesus as X" themes.
For example, Acharya S says wisely, but in only a single spot in The Christ Conspiracy, that the Jesus figure was drawn from virtually all available thematic sources -- meanwhile, all the rest of her research clearly and emphatically portrays the Jesus figure as being drawn from only a single thematic source, the sun in astrotheology. That is a kind of reductionism as defined by Ken Wilber, wherein something with a multiplicity of aspects is falsely reduced and treated as a single-aspect thing.
It is impossible to have a robust and adequate understanding of the origins of Christianity when treating, in practice, the Jesus figure in terms of a single theme. Freke & Gandy don't completely escape this single-source Jesus fallacy; they clearly tend to portray the "real" Jesus figure as a certain type of Gnostic heavenly descending and ascending redeemer figure.
Neither should the Jesus figure be treated as though only constructed from the sociopolitical resistance thematic domain, or from the entheogenic thematic domain, or from my main domain, the domain of experiencing no-free-will/no-separate-self.
If I made the single-source Jesus fallacy, I would almost ignore the entheogenic, sociopolitical resistance, and astrotheology sources for the Jesus figure, and advocate an explanation that emphasized, in fullest detail possible, the no-free-will/no-separate-self thematic aspects of the Jesus figure.
Instead, one should line up several themes and judge their relative contributions -- Price's Deconstructing Jesus is a step in this direction, and there's another book that provides a summary of the various different (isolated, non-integrated) "Jesus as X" models. Acharya should not be arguing that Jesus was drawn emphatically and solely from astrotheology -- her method is distorted and weakens her case.
She should be arguing that the most profound or original or important or dominant source for the Jesus figure was astrotheology, while acknowledging that other themes were essential and important as well. Each "Jesus as X" specialist should powerfully acknowledge the other Jesus as X themes -- not just in a single paragraph, but in more detail, and explain why their own "Jesus as X" version deserves at least as much attention.
For example, I am a "Jesus as no-free-will experience" advocate, so the right way for me to contribute to Jesus research is to explain why the thematic domain of the experience of no-free-will/no-separate-self is of comparable or greater importance than the other main themes that other "Jesus as X" advocates have investigated.
I would commit the "single-source Jesus fallacy" if I wrote only a single paragraph mocking the plethora of "competing" "Jesus as X" models, and then wrote a whole book implying that the Jesus figure was only drawn from my own exclusive pet thematic domain.
The Jesus figure was *not* drawn only from the Caesar theme, but books advocating "Jesus as Caesar" can be expected to commit the standard "single-source Jesus fallacy", writing consistently as though Caesar cult were the only thematic domain from which the Jesus figure was drawn.
Why did the Christian religion win, over the other Hellenistic religions? Christianity had much more dynamic complexity and thematic sources (or it *came to have* these). It was designed or more amenable to becoming a universal, catholic religion. The main distinctive aspect of Christianity, or what Christianity became by the time of Augustine, was this very compound dynamic thematic quality.
Any single-theme model of the rise and "original meaning" of Christianity fails to grasp this key factor of thematic multiplicity. Against all such single-theme big-bang theories, the alternative model is the dynamic, complex, compound "big crunch" model -- Christianity was essentially a technique of ultra-combinability; an ultimate, ultra-syncretistic, hyper-Sarapian inherent characteristic tendency.
More than being limited to any single thematic source, the essential character of the formation of Christianity was the attitude of "let us combine many themes". Certain themes were more important than others, such as sociopolitical resistance, but the essence of the early Christian tendency was the very act of integrating multiple themes, more than the lone attractiveness of any single particular theme.
Any adequate model of the formation and rise of Christianity must centrally highlight this "big crunch" multiplicity capability and tendency, as opposed to the ingrained and entrenched scholarly paradigm of "big bang" thinking:
"Christianity caught on because it provided compelling primary religious experiencing (the intense mystic altered state)."
"Christianity caught on because it provided a form of astrotheology."
"Christianity caught on because it provided a sociopolitical resistance movement."
"Christianity caught on because it provided intense entheogenic mystic experiencing."
"Christianity caught on because it provided an elegant metaphorical system representing the experience of no-free-will/no-separate-self."
"Christianity caught on because it provided [any single exclusive theme]."
Against all such single-theme, simplistic models, in fact, the main quality of Christianity that made it catch on was:
Christianity caught on because it provided a framework for combining as many attractive themes as possible.
Why did Christianity come to be a better framework for combining as many attractive themes as possible, while other Hellenistic religions were not or could not become such? Why did this particular combination of themes -- emphasis on Jewish origin, for example -- come to be better suited than other thematic combinations, for such extreme combinability?
Why was this historically developing set of themes (Jewish, counter-Caesar, and other early characterizing themes) a better contender in the race to combine as many attractive themes as possible, compared to, say, Sarapis, Dionysus/Osiris, or Mithras?
A major problem in answering this question is the fact of change of religions over time; the puzzle is a matter of finding the right model of how Christianity *developed* in its first few centuries; the "big crunch" model is more like a series of versions of Christianity: why did this changing combination of themes provide a more viable result *over time* in the race to win adherents and influence?
The conventional "big bang" assumption that there is a single narrow reason for Christianity's success involves a certain kind of dynamic story (such as, "at first Christianity had to wrestle with Jewish Christians, and later with Gnostic heresies"); the alternative "big crunch" model of Christian formation involves a different sort of dynamic story ("at first, proto-Christianity had the form of Jewish/Persian visionary apocalypse, then later, the Caesar-like and Homer-like Jesus lifestory was added, providing an attractive sociopolitical resistance version of the standard Hellenistic Sarapis-like syncretistic psychoactive banquet-based mystery religion").
Earlier version posted to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JesusMysteries.
The Jesus figure as an infinite nexus for synthesizing and fusing all types of characters and roles - mythic, actual, legendary, and wished- for
I've considered multiple people corresponding to a single mythic Jesus figure. But Hyam Maccoby is at pains to separate out the hoped- for Jewish messiah figure from the mythic Pagan dying/rising godman figure. And Arthur Drews in The Legend of Saint Peter shows ways in which aspects of the Mithras mythic figure were incorporated into the figures of Peter or Jesus.
And several scholars have pointed out that the Jesus figure is filled with astrological meaning as well. Entheogen scholars have shown that the Jesus figure represents an Amanita/cannabis/ergot complex. All these theories are presented with enough evidence to be justified. But how is it that they can all be right?
An ingredient I still need to pull into this analysis is another kind of role, that's not exactly mundane or mythic: the wished-for plain political leader, the Jewish political/military messiah. There are almost two simultaneous independent marriages of material and abstract planes: the actual Jewish rebel leaders and the wished-for Messiah figure, and the mystery-religion dying-and-rising godman and the actual spiritual and moral teachers/healers/magicians.
So we have several abstractions rising up from several actual men or wished-for actual men, at the same time as multiple mythic godman or wished-for political leaders come down from the abstract realm, looking for actual people upon whom to land.
Then recall that a single figure was more useful to the later proposed State Church -- that provided the final impetus to pull together all these elements, all the variety of abstract figures and actual noteworthy persons.
Once you know how to attribute one abstract figure onto one actual person, and know how to create one abstract figure from one actual figure, you are all set to create multiple abstract figures from multiple actual persons, or attribute multiple abstract figures to multiple actual persons.
Once you have those skills, you are also able to conflate multiple abstract figures into one and project the composite abstract figure onto a single actual person, or conflate multiple actual persons together to form a single abstract figure.
In the end, a variety of legends, a variety of actual persons, and a variety of mythic or abstract figures all almost inevitably fused together into the single Catholic figure of Jesus, Christ. He is a crowd of abstract figures and a crowd of actual people, all condensed into a single composite pseudo-actual person (fictional, posed as actual).
The Jesus figure is a master-work of condensing multiple into singular. The position I promote is radical multiplicity: multiple directions of influence, with multiple mythic figures and actual people involved.
The formula for the single Jesus figure requires multiple abstract figures, multiple actual people, and multiple directions of influence, abstraction, and attribution. Any view with fewer components strikes me as incomplete. The only way the Church was able to pull the single god-man figure together was by being able to combine an arbitrary, endless number of actual people, with an unlimited number of legendary figures, with an unlimited number of mythic or abstract or hoped-for figures.
Picture multiple vertical dashed lines connecting various actual men with various abstract figures (wished-for messiah, general wise-man, deified soldier, rebel leader). Now picture a line like a noose encircling all those vertical dashed lines and closing to pull them closer, closer... until they fuse into a single abstracted, concretized, and attributable character that becomes an infinitely dense singularity point into which can be incorporated every kind of actual and legendary and mythic or abstract character.
The Jesus figure is every mythic figure, every kind of hoped-for savior, every wished-for man-from-above, every kind of heaven-sent man, and he is attributed to, and abstracted from, any every and all actual persons.
Thus I smell a profound mistake when scholars say they have found the 2 or 3 or 6 actual persons from whom the Jesus character was abstracted. Those particulars may be correct, but you still don't grasp the essence of how the Jesus figure works. The abstraction and reification and synthesis process goes much further than such particular people, and the direction of influence is just as much from the abstract higher realm to the lower worldly realm, as from the mundane to the transcendent.
What we really have in the Jesus figure, and what the Catholic Church required and created, is a 2-directional nexus that enables any number of actual persons and abstract characters to be fused without limit, into a single hyper-conflated abstract/concrete character.
Any less, and you underestimate the dynamic radically open-ended nature of the Jesus construct. It is what the Church needed it to be, which is a system that transcends any particular person or myth or kind of role. It's more than 2-directional; it's an n-directional fusion-point that can combine all kinds of actual persons and all kinds of abstract, wished-for, hoped-for, or mythic, or just plain misunderstood characters.
Hyam Maccoby has done good work to separate out the Jamesian political-rebel leader Jesus from the Pauline dying-and-rising mythic godman, but this only untangles a couple legs of the Jesus-character octopus. There are many more roles and mythic figures and actual people that also were pulled together into the giant Gordian knot or black hole that is the Jesus figure.
It was profitable for the State Church to control the single figure that embodied "whomever you wish for" and "whomever you consider a role model" and "whomever you need". That is the sort of designed wildcard Jesus was for the State Church franchise. "Live according to the views we promote, pay our fees and submit to our rule, and we will dole out a bit of him who means everything to you, whomever that may be."
All that matters to those who control the figure is that you want what that figure is claimed to be able to give. All that matters is that they are the ones who provide and sell whatever product -- whatever kind of desirable savior-type person -- you want. There must be no competing product; *all* desirability of all kinds (moral, spiritual, political) must be believed to be most perfectly embodied and delivered through this *single* figure.
Thus the Catholic State Church Corporate Franchise engineered a Jesus construct that enabled them to gain a monopoly on all that people wished for. To do this, the Jesus construct had to be infinitely raised and all traditions of The Good gathered and concentrated *solely* in Him, and all other goodness had to be denied and suppressed.
The Jesus product contains all goodness; all else is evil; we possess and control Jesus. We are the only authorized franchise through which his goods, and all goodness, are available. He is all you want, and whatever you want, and he is ours for the giving and for the withholding.
The canonical Jesus figure is based on multiple themes or thematic domains including the sun (astrotheology), entheogens, seizure and reset of personal power of will, and sociopolitical rebellion -- as well as other major themes.
Have mythic-Jesus scholars fully experienced the mystic altered state? Often people have 1 or 2 experiences and think they are qualified and experienced. 7-10 medium-strong sessions are needed to start encountering peculiar insights such as ego death and gracious transcendent rescue/rebirth.
Could it be that the Jesus figure is based only on one theme, such as sociopolitical resistance, or an astrological/cosmological principle such as "the sun" or "the Sun", or just a metaphysical principle such as no-free-will followed by gracious rescue/restabilization into awakened virtual freewill?
Acharya S #1 says yes, the Jesus figure is based on only one theme, and that theme is Jesus as sun. This Acharya is in control during most of the book Christ Conspiracy. But then suddenly Acharya #2 manages to grab control for a bit and write:
"In fact, Allegro's suggestion that "Jesus" was a mushroom god is not implausible, considering how widespread was the pre-Christian Jesus/Salvation cult and how other cultures depict their particular entheogens as "teachers" and "gods." However, this mushroom identification would represent merely one aspect of the Jesus myth and Christ conspiracy, which, as we have seen, incorporated virtually everything at hand, including sex and drugs, widely perceived in pre-Yahwist, pre-Christian cultures as being "godly."" - p. 294m, Christ Conspiracy
Then Acharya #1 regains control for the rest of the book, returning to implying that the Jesus figure was composed from just one real theme: Jesus as sun.
What could it possibly mean to say that Jesus was *only* based on the sun theme and no others? I agree with Acharya #2: the mushroom identification (if true) would represent merely one aspect of the Jesus myth and Christ conspiracy, which incorporated virtually everything at hand -- every thematic source or thematic domain, such as Jesus as sociopolitical resistance figure.
I disagree with Acharya #1, with the implied theme that the Jesus figure was *only* drawn from a single thematic source, that source being astrotheology, with Jesus being the sun.
Jesus is largely based on Dionysus. Dionysus is largely a personification of 'wine'. Therefore Jesus is likely largely a personification of 'wine'. Jesus is described as the true vine, in the canon. When or where was Jesus *not* considered "the true vine"? The Jesus figure we are studying was made to say "you must eat my body, drink my blood." Denying that Jesus=wine='wine' (among other meanings) would be valid only when restricting oneself to an artificially defined ancient subset of the Jesus components.
If Jesus is X or Y but is not entheogens, then what theory of the Eucharist remains -- it's just empty nonsense? Why is the Eucharist the very heart of Christian liturgy, if Jesus is not a personification of entheogens? Such a non-entheogenic Jesus is not the same figure as in the canon.
Insofar as we're studying the Jesus figure as reflected in the canon, we certainly are working with a compound multi-thematic Jesus figure, including Jesus as sun but certainly also including Jesus as enlightened sociopolitical rebel, and Jesus as visionary eating and drinking, as well as several other main Jesus as X themes.
The single-thematic-origin Jesus is like people writing that Rush's song No One at the Bridge couldn't be about LSD-triggered ego death, because it is obviously a song about riding in a ship -- the single-meaning fallacy. No surprise -- all the Historical Jesus books put forth one and only one Jesus as X. This trend needs to be phased into a more integrated background framework.
Everyone puts forward their 1-dimensional Jesus and everyone has come to expect response in kind. I reject the *exclusivity* and lack of integration of themes, in every 1-dimensional (mono-thematic) theory; the Jesus figure has *always* been a *combination* of many things, at least in the era from Alexander to Constantine (300 BCE to 300 CE).
How could Jesus be a personification of the sun and nothing else? I side with the principle advocated by Acharya #2 here: any particular "Jesus as X" would represent merely one aspect of the Jesus mythic figure, which incorporated virtually every theme available, forming an essentially compound, multithematic Jesus, for any era that has what we call a "Jesus" figure.
I reject the exclusive mono-thematic stance of Acharya #1 -- the standard stance among the competitive scholars each promoting their Jesus as some particular limited X and only X. Like the Greco-Roman era, I'm postmodern: look for multiplicity and overloading of meaning; look for an "all of the above" thematic origin -- the big crunch at the start of the identifiable "Jesus" figure, when all sorts of themes were fused together into a supposedly single figure.
Acharya #2 wrote:
"... this mushroom identification would represent merely one aspect of the Jesus myth and Christ conspiracy, which, as we have seen, incorporated virtually everything at hand..."
That is the most profound point for scholars. We must break away from the single-source assumption that the Jesus figure was *only* based on a single theme. Does it really take a rocket scientist to follow this "hard to understand" point? Her book statement is great, true, right -- there, she's on the right track.
She has a forthcoming book "Suns of God".
Acharya #1's 1-dimensional theory is that the Jesus figure cannot be based on psychoactive plants because Jesus means the sun -- the mono-theme fallacy. Acharya #! is unreasonably denying that the Jesus figure was, from early on, drawn from many sources just as Acharya #2's Drugs chapter states at the end. That's how myth-religion works.
My emphasis on the importance of proceeding to an integrated multi-domain view of the themes feeding into the Jesus figure amplifies or follows-through on her last sentence in the chapter: "this mushroom identification would represent merely one aspect of the Jesus myth and Christ conspiracy, which ... incorporated virtually everything at hand..."
Fideler's approach (Jesus Christ: Sun of God) appears to be more balanced, more inline with my call for a multi-themed Jesus figure (though he supposedly assumes Jesus' historicity). Astrotheology is *only one* topic of several, needed to understand the Jesus figure's puzzle pieces (thematic sources). Some schools in some areas in some eras may have only thought "Jesus = sun or Sun", but schools in general have always thought Jesus = A, B, ... and Z.
Acharya #2's "Sex and Drugs" chapter is taped onto Acharya #1's simplistic (because single-themed, though in-depth) main theory, in the book -- the two Acharya's don't *connect* or *integrate* the notion of "drug-based initiation" with the (almost exclusively) predominant main idea, Jesus as the sun.
Not sure if she makes this point: Ancients didn't simply worship the sun. They worshiped a principle -- mystic bright light in the altered state -- reminiscent of the sun ("as above, so below" -- 'below' meaning some 7 experiences in the mystic state, integrated with study).
My work supports Acharya's with significant qualifications and limitations. I use her work as a valuable building block for my theory of mystic insight and mystic-state experiencing, but to do this, I reject her strong tendency to commit the common single-thematic-source fallacy, the single-meaning Jesus assumption, which pits scholars against each other on the same level, each one saying "no, Jesus is not X, Jesus is based on Y".
The only meaningful way to comprehend the origin of the Jesus figure is jumping up a level, being more comprehensive and multifarious. The Jesus figure was not only based on astrology, or socio-political resistance/critique, or no-free-will, or visionary plants, or divinized heroes, or Ruler Cult. Rather, the Jesus figure was, exactly as Acharya #2 maintains against Acharya #1, that the Jesus figure drew upon nearly all available thematic domains.
My specialty in Jesus studies is Jesus as no-free-will, including experiential insight and seizure and gracious restabilization of personal virtual controllership (ego death and rebirth as the classic ultimate mystic-state experience). However, I do what other Jesus-as-X scholars need to do: study my own Jesus emphasis within a framework that affirms multiple thematic sources feeding into the development of the Jesus figure.
Against the instinctual assumptions of most Jesus researchers, there are actually many layers of meaning contributing to the Jesus figure. Part of the challenge of figuring out the developing meaning of the Cross is that politics, myth, astrotheology, wars, and mysticism were so damn intertwined -- everything meant everything else. All meanings of the Cross were intertwined in the Hellenistic mind:
Mystical ego death
Sacrificial king, irony of mocking a sacred king tortuously, canceller of sin (symbol of the mystical realization which cancels freewill moral agency and its culpability) -- all were intertwined.
The Hellenistic meaning is always "all of the above". Cross-mapping multiple allegory domains was their religion. They were altered-state-inspired *experts* at cross-mapping allegorical domains. Any good theory of the developing meaning of the Cross has to accommodate the fact of the Hellenistic love of, or even reverence for, *multiple* domains of allegory intertwined. Any theory of the meaning of the Cross that explains it in terms of a single allegory domain has got to be grossly incomplete.
It seems like you'd have to be a genius to integrate all these domains, but for one thing, entheogens *do* help think like a genius, and Christianity was the last great creation of the pagan world, and domain-mapping is as much a matter of sheer accumulation as of rigid integration. You can just pile mapping on top of mapping; don't trust theories like Theiring's or the Piso family theory, which require a highly specific particular network of meanings.
Jesus is meaning dumped on top of meaning. For example, the Caesar-cult framework is a major *part* of the Jesus figure, but no way can all aspects of Jesus be derived from and fully understood in terms of Caesar cult. To us, who keep domains apart, it seems like it would be difficult to coherently map so many meaning-domains together. But for the Greco-Romans, remember that all of their domains were designed from the start to map closely to the others.
Just as men and gods and heroes were much closer together then, so were politics, philosophy, mystical experiencing, myth, and religion. Because all their domains were designed to be as close together as possible -- the opposite of the modern tendency -- it was easier than we expect, to map domain upon domain to the Jesus figure.
If Christianity was a co-optation of Ruler Cult, expressed in astrotheology, incorporating mushroom symbolism, reflecting mystical experiencing, and later was counter co-opted by the Roman power hierarchy and revised, any explanation of "the" meaning of the Cross has got to be framed as a story of the developing meaning of the Cross. It's a Gordian knot developing over time. Not only are multiple allegory domains involved, but also, developing over time.
The nonresistance Jesus figure may have been chosen because both the aristocrats and anti-slavery humanists who were political realists, found him profound and acceptable. Pro-slavery people could accept the Jesus figure because he merely represents rebellion *in spirit* -- not martial rebellion.
Anti-slavery humanists could accept the Jesus figure because he represents the realist response of nonresistance, and moves glory into the spiritual realm where apocalyptic fashion, we can dream of justice any day now, and spiritualize the coming world transformation. For all parties involved, the Jesus figure was like a mediator: he was a practical response that everyone could live with.
The Jesus figure neither advocated violent slave rebellion, *nor* did he, on the other hand, give glory to the divinized Caesar or the domination system. For the aristocrats, the Jesus figure helped calm and stabilize the rebellious masses of in-spirit rebel-slave sympathizers; for the humanists, the Jesus figure represented realistic nonresistance now, hoped-for world transformation soon, and mystical transcendent rightness now in God's hidden but mystically visible reign.
This type of analysis is like my theory of Christianity developing over the centuries in a two-way tug-of-war process between mystics and power-mongers, that resulted in the strange proliferation of entheogen mysticism elements combined with official denial and partial suppression of these. This type of balanced compromise analysis could be characterized as an Integral Studies approach.
Out of tension, things result. Out of the severe tensions of the Roman Empire, Christianity resulted. I reject any type of analysis that starts off by assuming that one single group of people, one interested party, was able to fully shape and design original Christianity.
The first principle of studying the real history of early Christianity is the principle of creative tug-of-war over time -- just like the standard idea that the Gnostics gave birth to Orthodoxy by being the first to develop a theology. Christianity is, first of all, a product of conflict and compromise between various parties over time.
Almost all scholars make the mistake of a single-domain explanation of the origins of Christianity. Each scholar claims that the Jesus figure and original Christian religion is really all about one of the following:
Entheogens (Jesus the mushroom or mushroom hierophant)
Social support networks
Jesus the divinized hero figure (Riley)
Jesus the shaman and exorcist
Jesus the Magician
Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet
Jesus the Healer
Jesus the ethics philosopher
The Teacher of Righteousness
Symbol of mystic-altered-state realization of no-free-will
Jesus the Myth: Heavenly Christ
Jesus the Myth: Man of the Indefinite Past
Jesus the Hellenistic Hero
Jesus the Revolutionary
Jesus the Wisdom Sage
Jesus the Man of the Spirit
Jesus the Prophet of Social Change
Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet
Jesus the Savior
Literate sympathizers of the rebel slaves, and other parties, constructed the Jesus lifestory by combining elements from the following domains:
The Jewish rebellions
The slave rebellions
Mystical theology (Platonism)
Stoic and cynic philosophy
Christianity was not created by the bad guys sitting down, creating the Jesus lifestory, and then forcing it upon the good guys. The New Testament was cobbled together by borrowing and modifying elements from throughout Greco-Roman culture over time, as the least-problematic compromise that many parties could more or less deal with, and was moldable into a giant monolithic hierarchy by the power mongers.
This multiple-influences, multiple-party compromise approach fits with Burton Mack's idea of multiple distinct "schools" of Christianity, each with their own view, later coerced into some degree of uniformity, Procrustean fashion -- albeit with glaring disconnects including the silence of Paul, 3 different synoptic gospels, and the very different Johannine gospel, and the battle between Mary Magdalene and Peter, and the denunciations of the historical-Jesus deniers in the Pastoral letters.
Maybe I'm demanding unreasonably wide scholarship from each researcher. It's natural that a researcher tackle only one theme in depth. Still, it is reasonable for a researcher to have at least partial appreciation for other nearby thematic aspects of the Jesus figure. Many books seem practically oblivious to the other approaches, the other views of the Jesus figure.
The "Jesus as X" books have run their course. It is time for the next phase of scholarship, explaining how one figure, Jesus, came to have so many themes attached. The current approach to investigating the development of the Jesus figure is inefficient because it is framed as a research into whether or not Jesus existed.
Insightful research into the creation of Christianity would progress much faster if a paradigm were adopted with a key axiom that the Jesus figure was essentially a complex composite figure with no single man as the lone basis. It's a waste of time and a distraction to keep framing research in terms of whether Jesus (an individual man) existed.
We'd gain much more insight by adopting the "essentially composite" framework of thinking and go from there, striving to determine how Christianity arose, given that there was no single historical man serving as a kernel. The truly profitable question leading to many insights is, "Given that there was no single historical man serving as a kernel for the Jesus figure, what was the actual historical evolution and development of the Jesus figure, and how did Christianity actually arise?"
Research is retarded when weighted down with the confused paradigm that is implicit in hanging onto the question "Did Jesus exist?"
What is needed for maximum progress into understanding the formation of Christianity is a breakaway movement among scholars, a movement that assumes there was no single historical individual under the Jesus figure; a movement that instead is fully committed to an "essentially composite Jesus figure" axiom and committed to the project of, given that axiom, explaining how Christianity actually formed and started spreading.
The retrograde convention of remaining uncertain about Jesus' existence, and focusing on the issue of Jesus' existence, seems to be making only slow, confused progress in understanding the formation of Christianity. Definitively committing to the assumption that there was no single kernel for the Jesus figure, in practice permits leaping ahead into a more profitable research paradigm that yields rapid progress in coming up with viable theories of the formation of Christianity.
Switching to an "essentially composite Jesus" paradigm would rapidly yield more sound explanations and plausible hypotheses. At this point, the axiomatic assumption that there might have been a single historical kernel for the Jesus figure, and the methodological assumption that we are largely researching whether there was a single individual as the kernel, greatly slows down the formation of viable and promising hypotheses.
For researchers who want to make the most rapid progress in understanding the formation of Christianity, the main thing they can do now is axiomatically assume that there was no single individual serving as the kernel. That assumption helps the researcher quickly form innovative coherent sets of hypotheses in a new mode.
In practice, retaining the focus on the problem of whether there was a single individual, and retaining an agnostic attitude on the historicity of Jesus, acts as a huge brake on innovative thinking and rapid formation of sets of hypotheses.
Definitively abandoning that agnostic attitude and that desire to recover a single kernel, and definitively assuming the "essentially composite Jesus figure" axiom, is like throwing a huge burdensome cargo overboard, and leaping ahead into a realm of hypothesis-set formation and a realm of scenario reconstruction that naturally and easily and rapidly comes together to form a viable approach to modelling the formation of Christianity and the Jesus figure.
For example, the JesusMysteries discussion group could make faster progress in reconstructing the actual formation of Christianity and the Jesus figure by axiomatically accepting the negative conclusion of Earl Doherty's book The Jesus Puzzle that there was no single historical Jesus, and by axiomatically accepting the positive conclusion of Freke and Gandy's books Jesus Mysteries and Jesus and the Goddess that the Jesus figure was originally a component of mythic allegory for mystic/Gnostic insight and experiencing, and focusing all research, instead of on the retrograde question "Did Jesus exist?", on the now more profitable question of "Given the essentially composite nature of the Jesus figure, how did Christianity form; how did the meaning of Christianity and Jesus develop from the time of Alexander or Julius Caesar to that of Constantine?"
I hope many researchers climb on board the latter, more profitable and rapidly rewarding research paradigm, which begins with the conclusions of Doherty and Freke & Gandy, and aims in the direction of "Then how *did* Christianity form, and what did it mean?" -- rather than starting with the question of "Did Jesus exist?" and taking an agnostic uncertain stance while trying to hypothetically reconstruct the formation of Christianity.
The latter research paradigm is too noncommittal, straddling too many scenarios held as possible, to permit rapid progress: it is permanent wishy-washy fence-sitting, as though we begin with the axioms "miracles might sometimes happen, and the Jesus figure might be based on a single historical individual as the kernel, and most of Eusebius' history might be sincere and credible, and most of Acts might be true, ... and [X] might [Y]."
With so many hypothetical conditions held to be possible, it is difficult to make progress in forming coherent, plausible scenarios -- or all too easy to spew out hundreds of scenarios that one considers "plausible" by all sorts of different scenario-relevant criteria for plausibility. Such across-the-board fence-sitting seems more appropriate for one who has just discovered the no-Jesus books such as Doherty's.
Those researchers who have read the ten most popular no-Jesus books can profitably start moving into the research paradigm that seeks to uncover deeper insight into exactly how the composite Jesus figure formed and developed, in conjunction with Christianity.
Where Price takes his most noncommittal postmodern stance of a plethora of Jesus theories, he makes the retrograde mistake of excessive fence-sitting, an unreasonable commitment to the infantile security of extreme, chronic agnosticism -- a dysfunctional refusal to commit. Here we get into the subject of postmodern extremism, as though the unattainability of perfect certainty prevents all types of knowledge.
Instead, we need to transcend commitment in a productive way: this means the ability to be relatively committed to conscientiously and deliberately chosen axioms (no single individual as Jesus kernel), without claiming that axioms are perfectly certain. I was asked about my methodology; it is a conscious Kuhnian paradigm commitment; acknowledge the truth of Kuhnian paradigm-commitment to an extent that is moderately extreme, without throwing one's arms up in gleeful postmodern absolute relativism.
We need to try out two different sets of axioms/paradigms:
Paradigm A. Axiom: There was a single individual who was the Jesus kernel. Task: determine the nature of this individual, the formation of the mythical-accretion Jesus figure built on that kernel, and the formation of Christianity.
Paradigm B. Axiom: There was no single individual who was the Jesus kernel; the Jesus figure was essentially a composite figure, not significantly dependent on any particular historical individual. Task: determine the formation of the Jesus figure and Christianity.
How profitable is paradigm A, and paradigm B? How rapid the insight, how plausible the scenarios? How natural the scenarios, and how easily do hypothesis-sets and scenarios come together in each paradigm? The vast majority of current investigation uses paradigm A, but paradigm B supports more rapid progress and return on investment.
The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ?: Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus
The Jesus Mysteries: How the Pagan Mysteries of Osiris-Dionysus Were Rewritten as the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Doherty and Freke & Gandy are ready for research to move from paradigm A to paradigm B, but paradigm A is too entrenched, stick-in-the-mud, chronically fence-sitting.
I wish people would read the ten leading books on no-Jesus, accept the "essentially composite Jesus axiom", and started producing results within the new paradigm B, which would provide more satisfying results, scenarios, and explanations, more rapidly than paradigm A ("likely historical Jesus kernel"), which is garbled, distorting, unfocused, and noncommittal.
I'm eager to get on with re-understanding the meaning and formation of Christianity from within a framework that begins with the axiom of "essentially composite Jesus figure".
*That* is highly interesting and promising, while paradigm A has run its course and is only frustrating in its inefficiency: it is painfully inefficient, and ineffective, to attempt to reconstruct the formation and early meanings of Christianity, if you still grind along adhering to the confused and garbled axiom that there may well have been a single individual who was the historical kernel for the Jesus figure.
We have every reason to assume that the Jesus figure was essentially composite; we ought to be profitably asking how that figure was related to various types of historical and mythical figures, rather than putting emphasis on attempting to attach one and only one historical individual to the clearly and overwhelmingly *composite* Jesus figure.
The attempt to wed a single historical individual to the emphatically multifaceted Jesus figure is as unnatural as can be; by abandoning that attempt to equate and fuse a one with a many, clearer thinking can move ahead rapidly into more rewarding scenario-construction and focus on the real and relevant questions of "What did Christianity actually mean, and how did the meaning evolve and develop?"
Adhering to chronic and everlasting fence-sitting -- trying out paradigm A without seriously trying out paradigm B -- actively prevents and severely impedes investigating and gaining insight into the developing meaning of Christianity. *Meaning* is what it's all about, and adhering to the paradigm of eternal agnosticism about the historicity of Jesus actively prevents addressing and investigating the *meaning* of earliest Christianities.
It is dysfunctional and counterproductive to endlessly remain in the paradigm of chronic agnosticism about Jesus' historicity.
At some point, it is time for a community of new-paradigm researchers to form, operating under a kind of commitment to the axiom of an essentially composite Jesus figure -- no longer burdened with the time-wasting, confusing, obstinately eternal and compulsive re-asking of the question "Did (a single historical kernel of) Jesus exist?", but instead, with all brain cells focused on the more profitable question of, *given* the "essentially composite Jesus" hypothesis or axiomatic assumption, as a settled and fixed starting point, what viable and plausible scenarios are then possible for the formation and early development of the Jesus figure and Christian meaning?
The old paradigm of fence-sitting, as though the single-historical-Jesus scenario coherently makes sense and is plausible despite all indications to the contrary, is producing some rate of increase of understanding and of interesting hypothesis-formation, but the new paradigm would produce several times as much progress and plausibility.
Any one of today's books focuses on a single theme in a way that practically denies the existence of the other themes. One exclusive theme per book is the current publishing rule. Such Historical Jesus books imply a zero-sum game: Jesus as X and only as X. Jesus was not A, B, C... but only X.
This convention of advocating only one's own single-theme Jesus version acknowledges that the received Jesus figure embraces an impossibly large number of disparate themes, too many for a single historical individual. Today, to form a viable and coherent picture of the formation of the Jesus figure, you must read as many books as there are thematic domains from which the Jesus figure was constructed.
Each book in the next generation of books about the formation of earliest Christianity and the Jesus figure need to explain how its Jesus as X coordinates and fits with the variety of other Jesus as X versions, rather than posing its Jesus as X as the only significant theme. If a particular study leaves out Jesus as visionary plant, too narrow of a historical picture results; same with omitting any other theme such as counter-Caesar or gnostic redeemer or astrotheological principle.
Today, any given book is either a survey of Jesus as X models (Price's Deconstructing Jesus; Grigg's Imaginary Christs), or advances a single Jesus as X model as though an exclusive, winner-takes-all model where Jesus is *only* a counter-Caesar, or is *only* a personification of visionary plants, or is *only* an astrotheological principle, or is *only* a sociocultural revolutionary. But the true and convincing history of the formation of the Jesus figure is a matter above all of *integrating multiple* themes.
Jesus is not first of all any particular X theme, but rather, is the *integration* of multiple themes. The first thing to say about how the Jesus figure was formed is that he was essentially an integration of many themes, drawn from many sources, rather than a single exclusive theme or source. That is, the Jesus figure formed through a big crunch coalescence (multi-theme) process, rather than a big bang with accretions (single-theme) approach.
There were additional accretions over time, but never was there an original pure single-theme Jesus based on a single historical individual or a single allegorical thematic domain.
Each next-generation book that advances research into a particular "Jesus as X" theme needs to integrate the approach that is established in the books which survey the various "competing" Jesus as X models, a survey approach which is also found in theology books which have chapter headings such as "Jesus as Ransom Sacrifice", "Jesus as Ruler", and so on.
What's the history of co-opting divine mythemes? Everyone co-opted everyone else in a religious-political co-optation battle.
We must study the history of co-opting and competitive inflation.
What's the history of the "divinized hero" concept, hero-sacrifice divinization in myth and battle and politics? Survey these areas for overlap with Jesus' cross (the "king on the tau cross") as religious symbol.
There was a frenzied competitive absorption and accumulation of acclamation. Just as Caesar was strenuously hyperinflated to the point of seeming mockery, so was the Jesus figure the product of sustained strategic creation on the part of early underclass and later ruling class. A determined contest of competitive hyperinflation produced the super-Caesar figure on the one hand and the super-Jesus figure on the other.
After a period of continued escalation, the man Caesar was inevitably amplified to the point of being divinized in his lifetime and acclaimed simply and directly as God, so was the mythic godman Jesus inevitably amplified to the point of being literalized and reified -- because a figure who is the all-God and the greatest man is more powerful that the figure who is only the all-God or only the greatest man.
We ended up with a battle between two infinitely inflated figures, each of them claiming to be the all-God and the greatest man: Jesus, the all-powerful God and the greatest man ever, against Caesar as the all-powerful God and the greatest man ever.
The question became simplified to which of these two infinitely inflated figures do you follow and ally yourself with: the infinitely inflated Caesar figure, or the infinitely inflated Jesus figure?
The cult of Caesar (inherent in the hierarchy of honor and shame that *was* the social framework) was intent on co-opting inflated conceptual language on behalf of the system of Caesar -- Dionysus co-opted the rulers of his day, Caesar co-opted Dionysus and Mithras, Christ co-opted Caesar and his army's religion of Mithras, later Christianity co-opted earlier Christianity when the system of Caesar gave up the position of resisting the popular anti-Caesar religion and instead took it over in the guise of the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope.
Just as Caesar and Christ were anti- each other, so was Christ the anti-Caesar also Christ the anti-Pope, if the System of Pope is recognized as the System of Caesar in disguise.
Oppressive hierarchy with aristocrats and collaborating priests was perfectly equivalent in Temple, Ruler Cult, and Catholic Church -- those are all the System of Empire; today's equivalent is Multinational Corporations (Wes Howard-Brook: Unveiling Empire, and The Church Before Christianity).
Early Christianity co-opted Ruler Cult, and the owners of Ruler Cult retaliated by co-opting early Christianity (the religion of rebellion against the system of hierarchical oppression) and calling it the Catholic Church and Holy Roman Empire.
Then the oppressed underclass (lay and monastic) retaliated by effectively rejecting Jesus as harsh and judgemental and aligning themselves with John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, and the Virgin Mary instead. Eventually the official Catholic Church -- the old System of Caesar, aristocrats in league with priests -- retaliated by striving to co-opt Mary and incorporate her, thus defusing her potential as an agent of resistance and underclass revolution.
What is the relevance of Virgin Mary for the intense mystic state? She is a protective deity of compassion -- very relevant to the unstable mind that is prone to sacrifice its controllership. God is needed as a rescuer and controller outside the deterministic cosmos, the frozen spacetime block in which we awaken to find ourselves trapped and on the track of deadly control self-cancellation.
Mary, as Queen of Heaven and Mother of God, fits this emergency functional need in the psyche as well. As God can be conceived as the benevolent true author and ultimate controller of all our thoughts, so can Mary, Queen of Heaven be conceived as the benevolent, transcendent, hidden mother of all our thoughts and actions.
The two-gods dualistic heresy can be expressed using the figures of Mary, Queen of Heaven against Jehovah, Ruler of the Cosmos. Mary was put through the same process of infinite hyperinflation as Caesar and Jesus: she reaches all the way from the depths of the prostitute Mary Magdalene, up to Virgin Mary, up to Mother of God, up to Queen of Heaven.
In addition to that -- for inflation is endless addition -- her mother was a virgin, and Mary ascended into heaven before bodily death. Mary is better than Jesus: he is mean, remote, an Old Testament vindictive God of justice; she is the Goddess of Compassion, our protector from Jesus.
In this scheme, the bad guys are Peter, Jesus, Jehovah, and the official Paul, representing the ruling authorities, while the good guys are Mary Magdalene aka John the Most Beloved Disciple, John the Baptist, Virgin Mary Mother of God, Elizabeth mother of John the Baptist, and Gabriel as a female archangel.
This scheme considers Revelation to have been written by a John, against the System of Caesar which is identical with the Holy Roman Empire and the normal aristocrat-cleric alliance. Protestants fail to see or officially acknowledge the war within the the Catholic system: the Catholic officials don't particularly *want* to promote Mother Mary; they were coerced into co-opting her as a last resort, by the rebellious popular underclass.
In early Christianity, every praise of Jesus was a socio-political condemnation of Caesar, which is a condemnation of the ruling authorities and that system of society.
In the Middle Ages, every praise of Mary Magdalene, Virgin Mary, John the Beloved Disciple, or John the Baptist was a socio-political condemnation of Jesus, which is a condemnation of the ruling authorities who have co-opted the Jesus figure.
What did "Jesus is Lord" mean? To understand what a group is about, find out what they are against. Picture a giant propaganda banner on a wall, "Caesar is Lord", and picture a popular uprising in front with banners reading "Jesus is Lord, God's only son, who God killed and was miraculously raised".
This uprising asks, "If Caesar is so great, how come he didn't sacrifice himself, or resurrect? And how can he be son of God? God only has a single son, and that slot is filled by Jesus."
Mysterious questions about Christian declarations are clearly explained as anti-Caesar statements, or contrary responses. This also explains the mysterious inflated devotion to Mary: that is vehemently anti-Jesus rhetoric that seeks to raise Mary over and against the Jesus figure that was co-opted by the System of Caesar now in disguise as the Holy Roman Empire.
Jesus originally meant anti-Caesar, but when Caesar co-opted Jesus, the popular underclass in league with the monastics and the religious humanists elevated Mary against Jesus, who had become by now Caesar-Jesus.
Just as Paul was initially the mouthpiece created by the Gnostics, but was largely co-opted by the Literalist ruling class, so was Jesus initially the mouthpiece created by the popular underclass, but was largely co-opted by the Literalist ruling class.
The popular underclass strategically selected the figure of Mary, Mother of God, as their new mouthpiece and disowned Jesus, to the point of coercing the ruling authorities into reluctantly officially co-opting Mary as well.
Mary Magdalene was also used as a mouthpiece of the popular underclass: it might be hard for the ruling authorities to counter-co-opt Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter the risen Jesus in all the Gospels, heretically held to be the Most Beloved Disciple, also known as John the Apostle.
>> The Turin Shroud matches the face of portraits of Jacques de Molay who owned such a shroud for use in pre-Masonic, Knights Templar rituals De Molay was tortured and crucified by the Grand Inquisitor of France, Guillaume Imbert, who thought it fitting to wrap his victim, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, in his own ritualistic prop. This was on October 13 and 14 in 1307. The Vatican published results of the carbon dating (no earlier than 1260) on the date when de Molay was arrested, 10/13. I believe this was in 1988.
>>These details are laid out in the book The Hiram Key by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, well worth reading. The weight of circumstantial evidence and simple scientific explanation, not to mention the evident imprint of a face easily recognized from contemporary portraiture, makes alternate explanations seem to me very unlikely.
Some aspects of some Templar research (such as the Historical Jesus assumption) are deeply misguided, but many parts are sound. I was very puzzled by the Turin Shroud as long as I assumed it was from the year 30. Lately I favor the Templar scenario. Whether the shroud is early or late, there is no *single*, *outstanding* indiividual man deserving of the "Historical Jesus" crown.
Jesus is *essentially* a fictional composite figure, based on *many* historical individuals and many mythic figures -- *not* on a *single* historical figure. Any evidence proving that a Jesus type man existed fits in with this well-grounded scenario.
Since the Jesus figure was based on 100 actual individuals and 100 mythic figures, we should not be surprised to find evidence that Jesus existed -- that is, evidence for the existence of one or several of the hundred actual men whose lives were material for the composite virtual Lone Historical Jesus figure.
Historical Jesuses really existed, but *the* Historical Jesus is in essence a composite, a hyper-reified fiction based on many actual and mythic figures, including Caesar. We might as well say that proof of Caesar's existence constitutes proof of "the" Historical Jesus.
In this posting I define the following Jesus as the most important Jesus-who-didn't-exist: Jesus as integrated mystic hierophant and moralist rebel.
The specific definitions (the "Indispensable Jesus", the "Towering Jesus") can be mapped or related to the general concept of the "single Jesus".
The "Indispensable Jesus" and the "Towering Jesus" definitions of the historicity of Jesus could be considered equivalent to the "Single Jesus" or "Single Focal-Point Jesus". The driving idea is the same: Is there a single historical man who serves as a natural, clear, obvious focal point for one reason or another, such as critical indispensability (the "Indispensable Jesus") or loftiness (the "Towering Jesus").
The quest for the Historical Jesus can be considered the debate over what the criteria for choosing the focal point are. Given an array of more or less Jesus-like men, do we assign the one and only "genuine HJ" crown based on indispensibility, or rather, on loftiness, or rather, on power?
Suppose one actual man was only moderately Jesus-like but he happened to be indispensible for some small accidental reason.
Suppose another actual, somewhat Jesus-like man was loftier than any other Jesus-like man, but not actually indispensible.
Suppose another somewhat Jesus-like man was exceedingly great at expelling demons.
Suppose another somewhat Jesus-like man was rescued from the cross, whether dead or still-alive.
Which one of these candidates for the single crown, "the genuine HJ" deserves it, and why? Why do the others only merit the donkey-eared fool's cap of "not the genuine HJ"?
The problem now is not discovering a viable contender, but rather, how to choose from among an overabundance of viable contenders -- how to choose critieria for choosing which of the viable actual historical men deserves the single designation as "the" Historical Jesus -- or rather, the problem that there might not be any such warranted criteria.
There is no justifiable way to pick one of these actual men over another, therefore we can't point to any one of the candidates and say he is "the" Historical Jesus. That's the main thing I mean when I say "There was no Historical Jesus."
This question is essential and warrants development and continued connection to the topics of discussion. We have had by now a long, seemingly endless series of viable actual men proposed as "the" Jesus, and the stage has become too full of quite viable contenders, for whom we'd be just as warranted in assigning the single crown of
The standard move that has been made repeatedly is "I've found this actual man and he fits several aspects of the received Jesus figure, therefore there was a Historical Jesus underlying all the added attributes, and this man is him. Never mind all those other contenders."
Robert Price points the way here in the book Deconstructing Jesus, and each new book like Jesus the Healer starts out with the tired old self-contradictory move of saying "Everyone has proposed their own version of Jesus, and that's ridiculous. In fact, this man I found is the real one."
Thereby the problem mentioned is only exacerbated without end. We need a different approach, a way of handling any and all possible versions of Jesus and all possible proposed actual men.
The Jesus that I consider the main Jesus isn't conceived as a historical single man. I think that the most insightful and correct conception of Jesus is the following.
Jesus is a personification and anthropomorphization of the idea of the similarity between:
o Sacrifice of the lower, egoic, illusory conception of oneself as a sovereign agent initiating control while moving through time
o The rebel against the system of Caesar, or domination hierarchy, is more righteous than Caesar. The cross of the rebel slave is more righteous than the Chi-Rho cross of the system of Caesar.
The Jesus figure is an eloquent comparison between the principles of mystic-state revelation about the sovereign-self illusion and principles of socio-political morality. This way of comparing these two domains was a response to Caesar's way of comparing these two domains.
In the system of Caesar, an eloquent comparison is made between the omnipotent power of Jupiter, which one partakes in consciously in the mystery cults, and the power and honor and glory of the emperor and his system of honor/shame hierarchy. The Jesus figure, like Revelation, is a comparison of two domains:
o Religious-state revelation of God's hidden power that drives all our thoughts and actions even if initially unbeknownst to us
o Socio-political ultimate power and honor and morality
There are other allegory domains in the New Testament, such as astrotheology as revealed in Acharya S' book "The Christ Conspiracy", but these are only secondary domains that serve the two primary domains listed above.
That is the way Jesus ought to be thought of -- not as a historical single man who was uniquely indispensible for the rise of Christianity or who was uniquely towering in his Jesus-like traits, powers, and accomplishments, but rather, as the personification of the comparison between:
o Mystic-state revelation of God's power and preeminence over one's thoughts and actions and will, so that one's lower self-structure is brought to willingly sacrifice itself as disproven pseudo-sovereign
o True socio-political morality as opposed to the system of power and domination hierarchy where the king and his allies murder their way to the top, in effect, and then claim universal power and moral excellence.
Dying while resisting this truly dishonorable system, even though society calls the rebel slaves' cross the most dishonorable thing, is actually morally higher than Caesar's fake murderous system of honor that practically equates honor with sheer military power. Caesar's power is of a dishonorable type.
God's power is beyond military and is truly honorable, and the way to participate in God's higher honor is to sacrifice one's illusory claim of sovereign agency in mystic experiencing *and* to resist to the death Caesar's false and truly dishonorable false system of honor.
This is the true, ultimate, socio-political-religious meaning of the figure of the king on the cross, within the context of its day -- the desire for literal resurrection has been greatly overstated; we are told in the conventional histories such as S. Angus' Mystery Religion that Christianity was popular because it had a superior promise of immortality.
That's grossly distorted, and blind to the mystic and socio-political profundity of the "rebel king on the cross" concept in its cultural context. Christianity was popular because of its elegant comparison of mystic-state lower-self sacrifice (the esoteric "king on the cross") with true honor and power against the honor of the system of
Caesar (the ethical heroic rebel slave's superior honor which is ironically higher than Caesar's even though Caesar's system asserts that the crucifixion is the most dishonorable end).
Other aspects of Jesus were secondary, during the formative period of 87 BCE to 313 CE, serving to strengthen the two primary dimensions listed above:
o Jesus as metaphor for the psyche's sacrifice of the false conception of egoic sovereign agency (crucify, sacrifice, and put down one's false kingship assumption)
o Jesus as rebel slave representing resistance against a dishonorable system of fake honor as being true honor
For example, Jesus as healer and exorcist and path to literal immortality are only secondary and serve to support the two above aspects or roles of the Jesus figure.
Given this conception of Jesus and what he most importantly stands for, and what the main driving idea is behind the Jesus figure, what sort of single Historical Jesus figure would this map to?
Something like Andrew Welburn's "Jesus as hierophant and esoteric genius of mythic conceptual language" combined with some other researcher's "Jesus as honorable rebel against a bogus socio- political system of honor" -- who represents the latter as the true historical Jesus? Perhaps Warren Carter's book Matthew and Empire, and Richard Horsley's The Message and The Kingdom -- what other researchers?
So let us imagine a man, calling him the real Historical Jesus, who was both a brilliant hierophant who used the "crucify your false king- self" mythic/mystic metaphor, and who elevated the rebel's cross over the Chi-Rho of Caesar as being the truly honorable cross.
This version of the Historical Jesus, which I reject, is a two-part definition of a Historical Jesus. The main Jesus I deny is a single man who was a mystic hierophant whose rites used the metaphor of "crucify your false, lower king-self to become holy" *and* who taught that the supposedly dishonorable crucifixion of the rebel was actually more honorable than the higher honor in Caesar's system of domination hierarchy.
*And*, this man's brilliance was to compare and relate these two points, the mystic and the socio-political, into the single symbolic image of the crucified upstart rebel king. And perhaps that man sealed his brilliant 2-realm mystic/political "crucifixion" metaphor by his actual death on the cross or a faked death and recovery.
That man, the Historical Jesus defined as crucifixion-metaphorizing hierophant and crucifixion-honoring rebel encourager, didn't exist. The brilliant ideas -- the use of the cross to express simultaneously mystic mental transformation and true honor against Caesar's system -- were brought together by many people, based on many people and various mythic/mystic godmen.
It was easy and useful and convenient to personify and reify this comparison of the mystic cross and the political cross into the supposed single Historical Jesus as a back-projected founding figure with authority.
I propose adding this definition of Jesus to the list: Jesus as mystic hierophant and moralist rebel against Caesar's system of honor. In short:
Jesus as integrated mystic hierophant and moralist rebel.
That's the most important Jesus who didn't exist.