Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679781609 - became clear the military victory myth was hopeless, Jews had to concentrate on mythic mystic realm instead
Mystically/mythically, should we concede that Jesus is the Messiah? Should Jews repent and recognize that Jesus is the Messiah? Literally, the proposal is nonsense -- there was no Jesus, so the messiah couldn't be Jesus. There is a certain amount of flexible play in myth, but certainly it is a mystically/mythically perfectly valid and adequately coherent interpretation.
Reading the Jewish and/or Christian scriptures mythically, a coherent mythical reading is that 'Israel' is the set of people who are brought to mystically realize no-free-will, by the experientially intuited universal uncontrollable transcendent controller, whether labelled Isis, Zeus, God, or JHVH. What is a sacred king? A sacred king is one who has mystically experienced ego death and divine restoration of personal controllership, now knowing no-free-will, and who has subjects he rules over on earth.
If the promised land is mystical-only, and God's kingship is not literally explicitly manifest on earth, but only mystically discoverable, it is fitting to have a mythical-only sacred king who stands over yet in a sibling relationship to that set of people who have been brought to mystically discover and experience no-free-will. If you define the messiah as a literal historical king on earth, then that's a literalist-type physical militarily victorious king, which Jesus is not.
Jesus is nonliteral, nonphysical, and not militarily victorious. Whether we believe Jesus is the promised messiah of Israel depends largely on whether we assume the promised messiah of Israel is literal or mystical/metaphorical.
You could say there are just two religions: all the literalists in the cosmos are metaphorically called "idolatrous Jews who will never recognize the messianic king God sent them", and all the esoteric enlightened mystics in the cosmos are metaphorically called "faithful worshippers of God who recognize the mystical Jesus as the figurative messianic king sent by God for them, to rule over the universal mystical spiritual kingdom -- the set of all people who mystically realized no-free-will".
All sacred kings have experientially realized no-free-will. The Jesus figure is one of many symbolic archetypes about kingship. As interpreted by mystic/mythic thinking, the Jesus figure represents the archetype or mold of "all people who are brought to experientially realize no-free-will". A sacred king is a control-mediator.
God is the transcendent controller, the sacred king is cybernetically (governmentally) informed by an ego-death encounter with God, and the sacred king is the earthly controller of his subjects, forming a basic configuration of:
God (highest level of control)
King (intermediary level of control)
Subjects (common level of control)
Jesus is a slightly different sort of king. It's confusing because normally by definition, a king is the earthly controller who controls his subjects and is controlled by God. But Jesus is a mystic-mythic-plane figure selectively incorporating some aspects of standard sacred kingship. It's not readily clear what function Jesus serves, if he's not an earthly king.
However, he makes as much sense functionally as other intermediary godman figures such as between the initiate and Isis. Different mythic systems never match up exactly; each one is somewhat a self-contained logic system, "incompatible" in some respects. Yet all these Hellenistic mythical/mystical systems are the same type of thing -- entheogenic experiential transformation of the mental model regarding self-controllership.
Clearly the concept of 'king' must be modified when applied to a mythic-only godman figure instead of a worldly king, so the question is, what is the similarity and difference between Jesus' type of kingship and standard sacred kingship? Who first thought of a mythic Jesus as a "king"?
There are kings of mystic/mythic legend (king Pentheus against Dionysus, mythic kings Saul-against-David) and indeed "king" may be the most standard and common mystic/mythic element, actually the foundation of myth insofar as self-control breakdown and resetting is the bedrock foundation of myth.
Instead of thinking of Jesus as a standard king with something subtracted, think of an earthly king as starting on a fundamental principle and then adding some optional notions. What is the foundation of earthly sacred kingship? The experiential realization of no-free-will. The notion of "ruling over other people" is the secondary, artificial extension patched onto the most basic idea of sacred kingship.
The essence of kingship is not so much "ruling over subjects", but rather, what gives the sacred king spiritual authority -- the 'sacred' part of the 'sacred king' equation (as opposed to an 'idolatrous' and not-divinely-authorized king) is the experiential realization of no-free-will. Why must a king be earthly? So he can violently push people around, so he can with a firm hand of violence control his subjects and kill his enemies.
The governorship of Jesus, in contrast, being on the mythic plane, is that he does not use direct physical force to push around his subjects and enemies -- or, so to speak, God does not use this king to physically force control upon the earthly world.
Jesus has all the authority of one who has experientially realized no-free-will and been shaped and formed by the divine transcendent realm, but none of the physical power -- he is a mystically authorized king on the mythic realm, who *refrains from* controlling his subjects or exercising violence and power on the physical plane.
The mystic knows that God controls us (such as our giving us our control-thoughts), so what functional role is left for a mystic/mythic "king", if that "king" doesn't wield physical power over us? The mythical-only Jesus has often been used by mystics as a spiritual savior, rescuer, protector, protecting against the dangers on the spiritual realm, and serving as a model of ethics.
The Jesus figure as some odd sort of 'king' serves some of the rescuing and protecting and ethical roles of a normal king, minus the destructive and harmful physical roles of a normal king. He is a spiritual king in certain regards, but not a physical power-wielding king.
Jesus could be said to destroy "the powers of this world" and "the idolatrous kings who don't worship God", but only if all these terms are read mystically/mythically, not literally. He does accomplish what the messiah figure is supposed to -- *if* you read all the terms mystically.
Jesus is the promised king of God's promised kingdom, authorized by God, protecting the other members of God's kingdom, and destroying God's enemies, and serving as an ethical model, and spiritually absorbing (along with our ego death sacrifices) the blows of God's wrathful ability to demonstrate his power over our control-thoughts.
As one may trustingly plead with the king for tangible earthly help and rescue, so could one trustingly plead with the tangible, feminine nurturing Jesus figure for spiritual emergency help and rescue of personal control stability. Although I wouldn't portray it as a strict 3-layer control system:
God (transcendent controller)
Jesus (intermediate kingly controller)
Subject (common control level)
The tangible feminine nurturing and protective Jesus figure can serve, like all protective compassionate deities, to stabilize self-control during the mystic peak, and in this sense, serves the same role as running to an earthly king for earthly protection, rescue, and help. The Jesus figure therefore fits many of the most important aspects of a normal earthly sacred king -- minus the violent physical coercion and minus the ability to protect you from harm by the "ungodly" on earth.
He is a spiritually powerful but physically "impotent" or "hands-off", even nonexistent or absent king.
I am continuing to delve further into comparing the varieties of Christianity.
The allegory of the judged, crucified, and resurrected claimant to sovereign power:
o Gets to the heart of the cybernetic theory of ego death better than other allegories or religio-philosophical systems
o Is more culturally influential
o Is most familiar to me and most of my assumed audience
o Is more challenging than, say, focusing on resolving the determinism debate.
o Is more full of surprise and bi-fold meaning-flipping, per Pagels' portrayal of the Valentinians' reading of Paul's teachings about Christ.
I have been reading books on determinism (such as http://www.egodeath.com/determinismbooks.htm), but one towers above the rest:
Metaphilosophy and Free Will - Richard Double, 1996.
He explains how different starting assumptions about what Philosophy is for largely determines and underpins one's conclusions regarding free will. Moralists who treat philosophy as something to help society (that's their starting assumptions) adhere to freewill. Theorists, in contrast, assume philosophy is like science, the quest for coherent knowledge fitting evidence, adhere to determinism.
It's no longer worthwhile to read ordinary books about free will and determinism -- I've reached the point of diminishing returns there. However, unusual ones come along, such as Bobzien's study of Stoic determinism/fatalism, and Bernstein's _Fatalism_. Basically, look back to the ancients, not the contemporary theorists, for unfamiliar proposals and insight. This looks good: The Theory of Will in Classical Antiquity, by Albrecht Dihle.
I'm connecting some profundity from this and that area of knowledge, but the system of profundities is far more important than any one breakthrough; the system of revelations across many domains all together is the real super-revelation, and I should downplay and limit the profundity in any one domain (such as that Copenhagenism has mislead the world of Science and its many followers, selling out rationalism to steal space and pretend-legitimacy for egoic delusions of power, erecting a dark forest of anti-rationality for the egoic confusion-system to hide out in).
From what I've read on the latest Cushing-like Quantum Mechanics books that separate out and elevate hidden-variables determinism in contrast to the reigning Copenhagenist interpretation, my conclusions from the late 1980s are being completely vindicated, which is rewarding but also feels annoying -- all these things have always been so screamingly obvious to me from the first moment the professor described Copenhagenism and claimed it was the reasonable interpretation of the QM theory and experiments.
Nothing I saw in lecture or lab gave me the slightest reason to move away from hidden-variables determinism. This all has been *so* obvious, it is really not even worth discussing except to point out the cultural reasons *why* Copenhagenism was embraced and hidden-variables suppressed -- to provide a hiding place for egoic pseudo-power. I don't see a whole lot of potential profundity of theorizing here -- the whole episode is a huge embarrassment and the greatest blemish on science that has ever occurred.
Although I discovered and confirmed profundity of insight into the contemporary freewill/determinism debates (along the lines of Richard Double, but with the addition of a true understanding of the ancient theory of will, fate, time, and necessity), and I discovered and confirmed profundity of insight in QM (that Copenhagenism was an unjustified crock adopted purely for extra-scientific reasons such as banning determinism by force of fiat), these two domains are examples of profundities I must downplay and not make the focus of theorizing.
What is the greater profundity I must hold out for and marry instead of these girlfriends? A domain that contains more profundity and a systematic network for combining all of these profundities. The domain that contains more profundity than freewill/determinism and QM anti-Copenhagenism is the puzzle of the Christian allegory.
The systematic network for combining all of these profundities is the core theory, the cybernetic theory of ego transcendence -- together with an amazingly ergonomic way of *packaging* these profundities, including a system for actually *experiencing*, in addition to rationally understanding, the system of profound ideas.
I have been alarmed when I find my ideas, my insights, my breakthroughs, already buried in books -- but these books do not qualify for The Revelation of Michael the Archangel, who stands on and pins down the serpent. Why not? What *would* it take for such a qualification, if not a publishing of the insights here and there in existing books?
There is a *lot* lacking in existing books that someone else instead needs to provide. The existing books lack Profundity of Revelation. What then constitutes Profundity of Revelation? I had to create a definition of such, a theory of profundity.
To be of ultimate profundity, the Theory must have these components:
o Complete set of core ideas about transcendence knowledge
o Connections to previous systems
o Various, multiple breakthroughs in previous systems
o System of actually *experiencing* these insights and ideas
o Super-ergonomic *packaging* of the ideas, knowledge, and techniques**
o General halo of profundity throughout, requiring also an unremarkable matter-of-fact attitude
o Maximum profundity of revelation in a minimal space -- must be an incredible breakthrough in saying the most with the least
** Such as a special page or a sheet holder to convey that Living Word which can be laid down on paper
Although they contain the ideas I'm gathering and packaging, today's existing books completely fail on almost all these counts. Just as with guitar gear I found that the problem of quiet cranked-amp tone is not with the existing technologies so much as the combination or *packaging* of them into products, so do I find that the lack of the maximally profound revelation today is not because the individual ideas and experiential techniques have not been published -- they have, in general.
The problem is rather that the ideas and experiential techniques have not yet been *packaged* effectively. What does "packaging" mean in this case? Style, format, subject matter, ergnomic intent, tools and techniques... details must wait for another posting. What we have in today's books, techniques, and traditions is unrefined coal; I just need to compress it and purify it enough to create a diamond.
My writings so far are *not* this packaging. As Kurt points out, a comic-book-simple delivery is an end-goal and can be exceedingly difficult to provide as a first attempt. A long, bloated, undomesticated book is a more natural packaging for a report-from-the-frontier.
Really, what is needed is a single journal article that can be cited by scholars, such as in Entheos or for a Zine approach, Trip magazine (was TRP). The question the readers of this egodeath posting area should have is, how long until my overview article is published in a form that scholars can cite?
It is an uncontroversial fact that *some* self-identified Christians have used an *entheogenic* Eucharist/ Lord's Supper/ sacrament. We can all assume that *some* Soma worship was entheogenic and *some* mystery-religion initiations used entheogens. After the research of the 2nd half of the 20th century, there is no possibility of debate over *whether* *some* Christian, Vedic, or Hellenistic observances were entheogenic.
The only possible profound debate now revolves around discovering interpretations and relations regarding sects, versions of Christianity, theologies involving the will, and different worldviews of mysticism or of sacramental experiencing.
There are many Eastern religion schools or traditions, many Christian schools or traditions. Some of these are entheogenic. Most are not consciously or deliberately entheogenic. Some theology is informed by entheogenic revelation/insight/experiencing, much theology is not.
Where then is the universal revelation, and is it Christian, or not? There are many views on what salvation is, and what Jesus' "lordship" means, and what heaven and hell and death and rebirth are about, and the meaning of Christ and of Paul's teachings.
Why am I effectively obsessed and driven on to delve even further into Christianity? Why not treat it on par with the puzzle of the freewill/determinism debate, or QM interpretation? Why do I act as though the ultimate revelation of profundity, insofar as anything in this pointless world can be called "profound", is concentrated in the Christian religion, the death on the cross?
What is so damned profound in the Cross, that I should be led to call all the excation equipment over in this direction? Entheogenists can't understand my zealousness for the Cross, and I myself struggle to understand why I am gathering a tower of books about varieties of Christianity and theology rather than, say, a small tower of books on Vedic religion and Zen and Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta and Christianity and cybernetics and self-control theory and academic philosophy, all of roughly equal height.
I have done not insignificant reading in these various relevant domains. The question is not why I am ignoring those domains, but why I should come to rest with my current knowledge and insights into them, while pushing wholeheartedly forward with Christianity, Christianity, Christianity yet more. Why do I act like Christianity is the master key to the far dominant peak of profundity?
There is not much to Advaita Vedanta -- adopting a deterministic worldview releases you from moral culpability and its concomitant feelings and drawbacks. There is not much to reveal, say, or point out here.
Similarly, QM has been led astray by Copenhagenism, for extra-scientific reasons, and we should take Einstein's and Bohm's and Schrodinger's advice and consider hidden-variables determinism instead -- Cushing and the like explain this, and I point out a few ego-driven motives for the wrong turn, but beyond these, there is not much to say.
I *will* incorporate this explanation of the "forbidden interpretation" (hidden variables determinism), to capture the greatest profundity in the smallest space from this theory, but there's not a *whole* lot of profundity here (see Wilber's treatment of QM for additional belittling of QM as a pseudo "grand revelation").
Same with freewill and determinism -- read Richard Double's Metaphilosophy and Free Will, and Bernstein's Fatalism (an a-historical explanation of the concept that does not delve into ancient religio-philosophy of Necessity and the project of transcending it), but you will not find the ultimate revelation of profundity.
Though determinism in principle destroys the entire foundation of society that is based on the assumption of moral agency, understanding determinism does not fulfill the hunger for ultimate profundity of revelation. What, then, does? The list of criteria above, that I wish to package.
It will have to wait, my comparison so far of the relation between:
o Gnosticism (salvation through knowledge)
o Reformed, Expiationist, Evangelical, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and other forms of Christianity
o Entheogen use
o The allegory of the judgment and death of the false sovereign on the cross
What kind of Christian am I? Gnostic insofar as salvation is a matter of knowledge, Reformed insofar as faith and grace are actions on the part of God rather than self, Evangelist insofar as today's canonical scriptures (not ecclesiastical authority and tradition) are sufficient for salvation.
Freke and Gandy's gnosticism (Jesus and the Lost Goddess) *might* be that of the primitive Christians -- however, I feel that more profundity lies in explaining the kind of "Christianity" that we receive today: a general canonical scripture-based evangelical sort of Christianity, informed by entheogenic and gnostic and Reformed and even perhaps some Catholic elements.
The task, the greatest challenge and achievement if possible, is to explain *today's* Christianity from within, redefined minimally, using the allegorical insights from entheogenic mysticism. Even if Freke and Gandy explain the cross, the problem is they explain a cross that is alien to the Christianity that this culture knows.
I instead explain the allegory of the Cross that we know, in a sensible relevant way involving minimal alteration of that Cross allegory. Agree with all that the average Christian today says, but then shift that network of meaning to provide an ultimate revelation of profundity along the lines of an entheogenic fate-transcending allegory.
Every word has two meanings; shift the network of meanings together.
Pagels' bi-fold model of Valentinian Gnostic Christianity is of central importance. What is the network of meaning of sin and salvation to the lower, moral-agency-believing freewillist "Jewish" type of worldmodel, versus the network of meaning on these terms as held by the mind that flips into the entheogenic deterministic worldmodel?
In this flipping transformation from one network to the other lies initiation, ultimate profundity of revelation. Vedanta lacks this because it does not hide it. Christianity hides and reveals, both -- thus it created the egoic delusion of freedom people yearned for, and cancels (though also justifying) the delusion.
Christianity is the bi-fold religion of ego, then ego death, then justified re-affirming of the false ego now recognized as false. Zen tells of the return to the market -- or, seeing mountain then not then seeing again -- or, knowing what one is *not* -- but still, the allegory of the judgement and death sentence yet release of the false sovereign, is unmatched as an allegory of ego death and transcendence, and this allegory is fully present in Christianity *as we know it* today in the canon.
It is not necessary to dredge up the original Christianity (as in _Jesus and the Lost Goddess_), which has by now become so fully alien as to be irrelevant and incapable of carrying the ultimate revelation of profundity for us in this culture with this canonical Christ we have been programmed with.
As Lenson says in the book On Drugs, our real challenge is to stop running to otherness, to alien religions (or alien versions of our religion), and find enlightenment right here in our own living room: a non-alien revelation from within our own native culture. This revelation of what was closest to us is the ultimate surprising revelation to us.
>As a seeker [active verb] of the reality and clarity that I experienced in the 70's thru entheogenic plant use, I have been led to an event [passive tense] which pulls every fiber of my understanding into focus. Part of that understanding is that the parable of Christianity is the gift of the ego death. All other forms of approach seem to be works of the ego to destroy itself which of course is an impossibility,
http://michael.strongcity.com/michael/diary.html Friday, November 9, 2001: "And the Father in heaven said, my spirit shall not always strive and contend with man, for he has become but flesh and he has no ability to respond to Me, yet I will give him just a little more time to work out his principles."
According to Reformed theology, there is nothing our will can do to get grace or the grace of faith, to gain salvation -- grace and faith are strictly passively received. In fact, only the emphasis on "total depravity" can convey this will-refuting idea; if we had to depend on our own will's ability to actively put faith in the savior, none of us would be saved, because the will is completely unable to direct itself toward faith and salvation.
Instead, our depraved will is forced against our will, by the force of Grace, to have faith; this faith is not even our own native faith but merely a cloak of the savior's faith wrapped around us. We are saved not only by his grace that is given to us, but by a faith which is not faith originating from our own will, but faith that is really his faith given to us and called "our" faith. It's ours because it came from him and was given to us -- it did not come from us, because we, as egoic willing agent, can only produce faith that is misdirected toward ourselves, who are empty, deluded false claimants to power -- "sinners".
Reformation theology is correct about the will, but incorrect about the nature of sin and salvation; Reformation is correct about will, yet lacks experiential Gnosis that provides salvation and knowledge of the kingship of God as opposed to the kingship (cybernetic control power) of ego. Luther was criticized in this way by his more mystically aware cohort: "According to Muntzer, faith is the result of the direct transmission of divine truth by the Holy Spirit into the human heart and soul. That is why he accused Roman Catholic and Lutheran leaders of propagating a dead faith based on the dead letter of Holy Scripture." p. 39, _Thomas Muntzer: A Tragedy of Errors_, Eric Gritsch, 1989.
>but the gift is that you are dead
The gift is the flesh and blood of Christ, which we are saved by eating and drinking, as he tells us to. If we were left to our fallen and deceived will, which is constitutionally unable to turn itself toward faith, being fully blinded by egoic prideful delusion, we would never be able to reach salvation. Fortunately, there is -- flying in the face of Reformed thinking yet obeying its sacrament -- one action that we can take, that itself requires no faith. There is one act that we can do to actively *put* faith in him: we can reach out, take, and eat the Amanita. Then we are cloaked on the inside with not our own faith, but that of the flesh of Christ which is united with us.
It's true that the act of eating Amanita is forced upon us or withheld from us by the sovereign power of the Ground or God, but this removes us very far from initiating our own salvation. Can I boast, that I had the moral rectitude to eat the Amanita? Do I magically command God and become, through egoic action, my own savior? Here is a whole area of Gnostic/Reformed theology to explore. While lost in the deluded flesh of egoic thinking, *I* took the initiative as though author of my will, by actively eating the Amanita, and therefore, his saving faith and his saving grace were forced upon me, my will was overpowered, "raped" and coerced, and I was saved *despite* the works of egoic will -- can I as ego therefore take credit for being saved, since it was me as ego who first willed to take and eat the fruit?
The will is totally depraved and incapable of turning toward the savior. *However*, the will can be lured, tricked, and accidentally led to cancel out its power. In eating the Amanita I didn't *mean* to be drawn into battle against the Minotaur; I cast out my demon by a tragic accident against my will.
>(you died on the cross with the Messiah); and your life is hidden with the Messiah, in God.
The full salvation is also first-hand experiential and the Messiah exists purely on the mythic plane except insofar as he is incarnate in us and in the entheogenic plants. I die on the cross both with the Messiah and as the Messiah; the Messiah dies on the deterministic spacetime cross by doing so in the form of me.
Christ is crucified in me, as me, and through me -- and through other people, so that together we are the body of Christ. Christ is crucified in us together as one body. This is a teaching of the true, invisible Church, much hated by the counterfeit institution that falsely claims to be the Church.
I found it practically necessary to assume that Jesus did not exist as a towering actual influential person. The mindset of assuming that every character in the scriptures is purely and solely allegorical enables a hundred times the mental clarity for asking always "What does the story mean?" I've come up with far more potent ideas since assuming that Jesus is none other than the Amanita and the disciple who obeys the command to eat and drink that flesh and blood of Christ, who is what the true vine is. When I accepted Christ in me, the psychoactive waters of life flowed from my belly.
>In two of the latest posts you mentioned Michael standing up [trampling or standing upon and holding down the ego] and spiritual marriage. These elements are being lived out by a small group who have received/are receiving the "gift of ego death" to act out the Marriage of the Lamb and its ramifications. It is all delineated at:
>I was given a picture by revelation a couple of months ago, when Michael gave me a key to the egoless Kingdom. It is posted at:
In my Gnostic theology, this is the order of salvation:
1. The sinner eats and drinks the Amanita sacrament.
2. The Holy Spirit residing in the sacrament judges and humiliates the demon in the sinner; the Holy Spirit forcefully bestows saving faith/grace against the will of the sinner.
3. The redeemed sinner can optionally undergo public water baptism as a form of confessing Christ (rather than ego) as the sovereign that authors one's thoughts, movements of will, and destiny.
That is how it worked for me:
1. Take the eucharist.
2. Receive grace.
3. Undergo water baptism.
The conventional order is very backwards:
1. Receive grace. [how? not generally possible prior to eucharist]
2. Undergo water baptism.
3. Take the eucharist.
I herein show how and when and why the ego was invented in late antiquity, what advantages and disadvantages the ego brought, why psychological development past the ego was suppressed, and what value the ego has now that cybernetics theory has revealed the specific main way in which ego is an illusion.
I show where the formulas "Jesus/Dionysus is Lord" and "Jesus/Dionysus is the only way to be saved" and "Jesus/Dionysus is the true vine" originated and what they mean, and in what sense they are universally valid.
This amounts to a thumbnail history of determinism, or of the freewill-to-determinism transition the initiate experiences.
The Catholic franchise was based on preventing the normal maturation of the freewillist child to a determinist adult. During the Catholic era, and during the Protestant era to the degree it retained belief in moral culpability, the psyche was forced to remain stunted and immature; forced to retain the animal/childish belief in metaphysically free moral agency all throughout life -- forced to believe in the world of Santa Claus even into adulthood.
"Jesus/Dionysus is Lord/God/King/Author/Controller/Governor" is equivalent to "Ego is not Lord/God/King/Author/Controller/Governor". Actually "Jesus is Lord" is equivalent to "Jesus is the determiner of my destiny", which is equivalent to "My ego is not the determiner of my destiny".
To confess Jesus as Lord is to choose Jesus as my charioteer, rather than choosing myself-as-ego as the charioteer. It is an act of submission of controllership: I as egoic control agent reject my own control agency and choose Jesus as my control agent instead. Either Dionysus is Lord and governor, or the demon in me is lord -- the devil being myself as an egoic power-wielding controller who authors and determines my own destiny.
If I am choosing Jesus as my controller, this clearly logically means that I lay all my blame on Jesus, who takes its punishment on my behalf. I transfer a deluded aspect or type of guilt from myself as ego to Jesus as mythic-to-mundane mediator, and finally to God as ultimate control-agent. Jesus carries my metaphysically impossible type of guilt -- egoic guilt -- onto himself and he is punished for my Chimera-type immorality.
Who but a mythic victim could serve as a fitting victim to be punished for the impossible kind of guilt that an impossible kind of moral agent suffers? I moved my delusion of guilt, together with my delusion of sovereignty, onto the mythic Jesus, who mythically was punished by death as an upstart claimant to sovereignty.
Ego sets itself up as a freewilling would-be sovereign against the sovereignty of that Controller that is the actual determiner of destiny. What god actually controls my destiny and has already cast it in rock for all time? I don't know, but I have identified that role, and I know that my egoic self is *not* the one who controls, and has set in stone, my destiny.
Per Luther, I can only see the backside of God; I only see that whatever determines my destiny, myself as ego is not that determiner. My car is being driven by an unperceivable driver; my chariot is being steered by some unseen Dionysus charioteer, who draws forth and steers his reindeer by holding out Amanitas on a stick (vase shown at Ruck/Staples/Heinrich _Apples of Apollo_ pp. 108-109).
The mind is designed to retain freewillist thinking by default as a child, and then experience initiation and learn determinism or frozen-future fatedness. Leaving aside the factors of cultural context, the individual mind in general begins with a freewill worldmodel that corresponds with a certain level or type of morality -- metaphysically free moral agency, culpable for blame and praise as a self-moving moral agent.
The essence of a coming-of-age ceremony is the use of entheogens to switch from the animal/childish freewillist mental model to the determinist, fixed-destiny mental model. This switch of mental models involves a switch of moral models, a switch from blaming and praising oneself as moral agent to blaming and praising the gods/fates, who are the true controllers of destiny.
The ideal coming-of-age initiation is done after puberty, after the ego has developed and is entrenched enough to die while remaining coherently in place as a practical, convention-based tool. The ideal initiation uses entheogens because of their main property, which is to loosen cognition to enable the mind to switch from one worldmodel to another.
I have settled on age 20 as the appropriate age to teach the concepts and provide the experience of egodeath, given a culture that teaches practical knowledge in high school (age 15-18) and teaches higher education in college (age 19-22).
The cybernetic meaning of "Jesus is Lord" is that I am actually only a puppet controlled fully by God, and Jesus is the punishment-liable mythic representative of God.
Entheogens render ritual sacrifice for moral purification superfluous and show it up as futile, by revealing determinism which in principle cancels the very root of guilt-culpability.
The mind stops pointing to ego as the source of guilt and redirects the pointing to point up to the gods as the source of guilt; any moral punishment for guilt must be laid upon the gods, as we lay our sins upon the mythic Jesus to suffer their penalty instead of us, because we genuinely don't deserve moral punishment; any moral-type sin and guilt really, actually belongs to gods/fates who totally control us as their puppets/slaves.
Mythic Jesus takes our sins upon himself because they really were his sins the whole time; they were never our sins (moral-agency guilt) in the first place. Give Jesus what is really his: our moral-agency guilt.
What is the legal master-slave relationship? If a slave obeys his master and does something immoral, the slave is innocent; the guilt is that of the master. The slave had no choice in the matter. When I learn to consider myself a slave-puppet of the fates/gods, I consider myself to have no metaphysically free choice in my actions; any guilt as a puppet cannot belong to me, but must be owned by the one who works my puppet-strings.
This is a simple principle of cybernetic control hierarchy. The moment I see myself as a puppet of God, my guilt ascends to heaven, I as guilt-culpable soul ascend to heaven, and just punishment for my guilt must be laid upon God. How can invisible and remote God be punished and suffer for the guilty actions he did through me? By a mythically visible and mystically present representative: Christ, who suffers for the moral guilt that properly belongs to God.
The Jesus figure was put forward as an eniautos-daemon or as a Sabbatical-year regent.
The ancient role of king was inherently a temporarily ruling eniautos-daemon who had to sacrifice himself at the end of the period of his playing God. That is a perfect classic king. The use of sacrifices in place of the king is really illegitimate, an offense against God's power and sole sovereignty.
An eniautos-daemon is an individual ego agent installed as a Hero in a temporary position of leadership. Actually only the divine is a true primary leader; it's a crime against divinity to pretend one is a sovereign. We know it's a crime because during initiation the ego as pseudo-sovereign is killed by seeing the Truth about his nature as a controller-agent, therefore, the literal king of the people is a divinely temporarily authorized criminal who deserves death for intruding on the realm of divine leadership.
The divine has created all of our thoughts and placed them at all points in spacetime, so it is usurping God's throne to claim one's own thoughts for oneself, and claim to be a king. The temporary kingship office can be filled by a series of representatives, each of whom, by the law of God's complete sovereignty, should be sacrificed.
The temporarily installed sacrificial Hero/king personifies the fructifying forces of nature during the length of a cyclical period, and the well-being of the community for that same period. At the end of the this period, the Hero, to make amends for usurping God's throne and claiming to be a sovereign that owns his own thoughts, the Hero-king certainly should and must willingly sacrifice himself.
That's unpleasant, so maybe the king can cheat God of the literal sacrifice of oneself that is owed to God, and like Abraham, offer God an inferior substitute for oneself instead, like Caesar offers sacrifices in place of sacrificing himself as he ought to. The only way the king can fake his way out of the proper sacrifice of himself is doing as the Egyptians: the priest strips the king of all his kingly garb, slaps him, and then puts the chastened king back on the throne for another cycle, probably with hundreds of sacrifices in place of the king himself.
Caesar is a cheater like that. The creators of Christianity, working on co-opting the Old Testament, would admit that Abraham cheated too, but would argue that the angel of the Lord personally granted Abraham special exemption. Abraham was just doing whatever God commanded through his angel, so this is even more to Abraham's credit. Caesar doesn't even come close to such divine authorization to cheat and withhold his own sacrifice of himself.
The exact dates of the Sabbatical year could be considered irrelevant. What's important is that the Jesus figure is claimed to be a true, pure, classic type of sacrificial temporary king, whereas Caesar, and other worldly rulers, clearly fails to meet the criteria for being a true, classically legitimate sacrificial king.
Some scriptures identify Jesus as a Jewish daemon-Hero who was divinely installed in that role at the divinely pre-designated proper moment at the end of a progression of Sabbatical years and a Jubilee.
The initiated, enlightened king willingly sacrifices himself, in isomorphic Literalist accord with the divine law of ego-death. A person's ego falsely reigns as sovereign control-agent only until mystery initiation; therefore, the literal king should only reign for a limited time -- like the pseudo-self-moved ego-hero -- and then literally kill himself -- like the ego cancels its pseudo-power during the ego-death experience in mystery initiation.
In Lk.4:21, Jesus reads Isa 61:1-2, about the Acceptable year of the Lord, then says "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
A Sabbatical year is the Year of Release and could align with a Roman framework of a Saturnalian festival. Why is a temporary king sacrificed and prisoners freed? Because that is what is divinely revealed during mystery-initiation: the egoic as sovereign who creates his own future stream of thoughts is seen to be an illusory, empty agent, with all thoughts being timelessly injected into the mind from outside it by the Ground of Being that is the true hidden author of all thoughts.
This is experienced as a deathly entanglement in a spider's trap or a cognitive labyrinth with the walls of time rapidly closing in -- the initiate's pseudo-sovereign heart, as a control-agent, is stabbed dead by the frozen time axis. How does the mind live through this and regain some kind of freedom and release from this time-trap that kills the initiate's former deluded sense of kingly power?
The mind has no choice but to sacrificially renounce the claim to ego-sovereignty -- then the mind gains its freedom. This is how things work cosmically, with cosmic determinism; this is how things work personally and cognitively; this is how things therefore work socially: the king must willingly sacrifice his kingly command, giving up his scepter, and the prisoners must go free. It's all very logical, or isomorphic and symmetrical, and divinely authorized.
Per Sabbatical messianism or chronomessianism, the messiah will inevitably come during the season when Israel celebrated the sabbatical year. This is intended to justify the claim that Jesus is the expected divinely authorized redeemer, right on schedule.
When the pseudo-sovereign king willingly literally sacrifices himself in accord with the Truth that is revealed during mystery-initiation (the illusory nature of ego's metaphysical sovereignty with respect to the time axis), it is also fitting that the slaves go free, just as during mystery-initiation the mind is permitted to continue only by sacrificing the delusion of egoic control sovereignty with respect to time.
The Acceptable Year of the Lord, as proposed at http://www.rxs.bigstep.com, may occur in some weekly cycle of Sabbatical years. It would have made sense to portray Jesus as proclaiming the Acceptable Year of the Lord, and acting as a temporary reigning regent or monarch of a kingdom during this yearlong Sabbath.
Even if the biblical principles outlined by the Sabbatical/Jubilee year are impractical, they are mythically valuable enough to include in the pseudo-historical scripture stories, to prop up the claim of ancient legitimacy of Jesus as sacrificial king. The principle for choosing scriptures for inclusion in the canon, and for redacting scriptures, is "whatever helps prop up the divine authority of the Jews" and later "whatever helps prop up the divine authority of Jesus".
The Sabbatical/Jubilee year principles provide a legitimizing chronological and cosmological framework for evaluating the various episodes and parables, to identify the Jesus figure as a chronomessianic or eniautots-daeman type of sacrificial Hero/King.
The portrayal of the Jesus figure as a king of a Sabbatical year adds cohesion and authority to the various Gospel scriptures.
Portraying the Jesus figure as an eniautos-daemon links, in Stoic fashion, the cyclical forward movement of time with the progressive sequence of events, seeming to inevitably, with divine authorization, end up with Jesus as the most potent possible anti-Caesar or general-purpose top-level authority. Stoics were timeless determinists who experienced, during mystery-initiation, the illusory nature of personal self-control, or virtual-only sovereignty with respect to the time axis.
Portraying the Jesus figure as an eniautos-daemon adds a sense of validity to the portrayal of Jesus as Revolutionary King, anti-Roman Political Godman, Hellenistic Godman, and fully classic, Literalist, temporary, willing sacrificial king.
The reasons for portraying the Jesus figure as a classic self-sacrificing king may have originally served the purpose mainly of providing a mythically perfect figure for use in esoteric mystery-initiation, and may have gradually shifted in emphasis to prop up a strategic socio-political revolution, and may have finally been used to pull together a disguised parallel government as part of a conspiracy among certain elites to harness the power of the lower class in order to take over control from the previously established elites of the Roman Empire -- a strategic power struggle among elite factions within the uniform elite culture at Rome.
To harness the power of the average followers of popular esoteric Christianity, it was necessary to retain an ideal classic sacrificial king who was permitted by God to reign for only a limited time, and then had to pay the price for usurping God's sovereign power that created all that exists, including everyone's thoughts and actions.
Has the theme of Jesus as "sacrificial king" been lost in the interstices in the JesusMysteries discussion group's research project?
In the defined DJ threads, where does "Jesus as Sacrificial King" fit in? We might be starting off with a misaligned set of categories that spreads a main topic among several others and prevents its recognition.
Here are DJ threads most relevant to "Jesus as sacrificial king":
>11) Sacrificial Victim/Martyr
>10) Two Messianic Traditions
>7) Hellenistic Godman
>1) Revolutionary King
>2) Accidental "King of the Jews"
Here is the concept of "sacrificial king" as I understand it.
In the mystic state of cognition, one's kingship is perceived to be an illusion. Psychologically, kingship is egoic metaphysical sovereign power of self-steering, creating one's own future thoughts and actions.
When one's kingship is seen to be an illusion, the mind no longer really attributes moral responsibility to oneself as egoic moral responsible agent; all responsibility is now attributed to That Which Determines One's Destiny -- the Ground of Being, Fate, the Fates, God, Isis, the Great Goddess, or some such controller of the spacetime cosmos and every thing, thought, movement of will, and action that timelessly exists in the cosmos.
Therefore a community of pseudo-moral agents can demonstrate respect for the truth by electing a sovereign/king representing them all, and have that king sacrifice and deny his kingship on the behalf of all so that all may demonstrate, in him, knowledge of transcendent truth -- the truth that we are not really sovereign moral agents.
The king's self-sacrifice is logically or systemically the same as the release of criminals from guilt as moral agents. That's why the sacrifice of the king happens together with the release of one or more criminals. All guilt-culpability of all supposed moral agents is refuted and rejected as part of refuting and rejecting egoic separate-self thinking altogether.
We sacrifice one among ourselves so that we may all be reconciled with the actual hidden creator of our thoughts and actions -- this may be a coherent mystic-state origin of the notion of a sacrificial king. The psychological impression after the sacrifice is that the representative sovereign who the community sacrificed "removed the sins" or took away the impurities of the community.
In this fashion, the "vicarious atonement" idea of a sinless godman legitimately taking on the sins of other, guilty men, and undergoing the punishment, to do away with and cancel the guilt of the world, can be rationally understood -- when the logic of mystic-state determinism (no-self-will/no-separate-self) is taken as the main reference point.
We need to either:
o Subsume "sacrificial king" into one of the defined categories,
o Subsume one of the defined categories into "sacrificial king"
o Add "sacrificial king" as an additional category.
It may be that "sacrificial king" is practically synonymous with the impenetrable technical term "Eniautos-Daemon".
That technical term, on the surface, appears to suggest to me: "no self demon" inhabits the mind. "There is no self demon" implies ritual sacrifice of the "king ego" delusion (on a personal and community/political level) and implies, at the same time, the release of prisoners who were imprisoned under man's civic law of egoic moral agency, a civic law based on a metaphysical impossibility that trespasses on the omnipotence of the Divine that is the true determiner of all our thoughts and actions and destiny.
In light of Frazer's major, influential study The Golden Bough, it seems a serious oversight that no category label includes the term "sacrificial king".
The bottom of this page shows a Greek hemidrachm containing the earliest reputed Chi-Rho(X-P) monogram minted for Ptolemy III’s reign in Egypt and dated 246-221 BCE.
http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/egypt/ptolemy_III/Svoronos_965.jpg -- This coin has the diademed head of Zeus-Ammon on one side and a large eagle on the other side with a cornucopia(tied by a fillet) in front of it and a Chi-Rho monogram between its legs just above a “thunderbolt” which the eagle’s talons clutch.
The symbolism indicates divine control over cosmic determinism. The P is like a sword-shaped control-handle to move the fixed deterministic stars themselves, as Zeus is sometimes said to be greater than the omnipotent Fates who are controllers of predetermined destiny. All the strength associated with cosmic determinism, control of cosmic determinism, and godly power over cosmic determinism, is all attributed to the divinized earthly ruler.
The eagle descends from the highest heavens suddenly, just as visionary plant-induced ego death snatches away one's child-self to Hades' so suddenly, killing one's lower self or delusion of personal power and ability to invent one's own destiny. Lightning bolts represent this sudden transcendent ego death and rebirth into the omnipotent being of Zeus, controller of the cosmos, mover of cosmic destiny.
This is not an artistic coincidence betwen ancient Egyptian ruler cult and Jesus Christos/Chrestos -- it is the standard symbolic and conceptual language of the phenomena of the intense mystic altered state, which was traditionally intermixed with the political and military allegory domain. The Jesus figure was a twist on these same themes -- a dove instead of eagle, representing overcome enmity with God. Jesus was designed as a counter-Caesar, counter ruler-cult: Jesus was thoroughly based on ruler cult, with a slight twist, inverting a few elements.
>>>Was the Chi-Rho emblem really related to Sol Invictus rather than Christ?
>>the Chi-Rho symbolic apparatus which accompanied “Jesus” out of the catacomb darkness and forged itself upon the crested helmet plume of Constantine’s sun, stands on the decorated shoulders of many theological giants before him. Whether Jesus was percieved to be the perennial incarnation of some ancient deity or was concocted by Catholic redactors, he and his chroniclers performed a radically innovative reformation of the Mediterranean religious traditions preceding them.
"Radically innovative"? Whoop-to-do; puh-leeze, give me a break. That's empty self-congratulating rhetoric. Symbols interweaving mystic and political domains underwent modification all the time. It's all the same old symbolic language in various combinations.
Earl Doherty, author of the Christ-myth book The Jesus Puzzle, strongly recommends the books by Hyam Maccoby, and I can see why. Maccoby is a Jewish scholar of the origin of Christianity seeking a plausible and coherent explanation of how Christianity really got started.
Few of Maccoby's books are in print, perhaps due to the small demand for non-Christian, non-believing books about Christianity -- "Atheists don't need them, Christians don't heed them." I got a new hardcover copy from Barnes & Noble Press for just $7, of The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity. 1986.
It is too early in my reading of this book to tell you all Maccoby's position. He acknowledges the Christ-myth theory but he is committed to a Historical Jesus view in which Jesus was a purely Jewish messiah -- a political "savior" who would emancipate the Jews from Roman rule, while Paul was a mystery-religion mythmaker who took the existing mystery-religion dying-and-rising God idea and applied it to Jewish political messianism.
I cringe every time Maccoby talks about Jesus as a historical reality, but I really like how he strives to differentiate:
o The Jewish messianic idea (associated with the purported "Jerusalem church")
o The mystery-religion Christ idea associated with Paul.
I've been totally successful in mentally transforming this book to assume that the entire Bible is 100% fiction -- mystery-religion allegory from first to last. Assume that not one word is literally historically accurate, and not one word was intended to be anything other than mystery-religion allegory. Before every chapter, insert:
"Mystic ego-death is like the following story:"
Thus the whole book can be translated wholesale into a massive parable and allegory for mystic ego-death, leaving us with a giant story-collection all pointing to a set of experiences. It's not a story told by a real person, Paul.
Rather, it is a story *about* a persecutor / kidnapper and his turnabout, a story about fictional people who interacted with a fictional savior, which story is reported by fictional apostles, and the meaning of which is explained by a fictional apostle Paul.
This pure, extreme point of view demands that every sentence be interrogated for its potential mystic meaning -- a hyper-interpretive stance such as the Valentinians took. They held Paul to be "The Apostle", the paradigm of apostles... finally conceiving of the Paul figure as strictly the ideal, non-earthly paradigm of apostles.
The only important thing for mystic experiencing is the *idea* of The Apostle Paul, the *idea* of him persecuting and turning about, the *idea* of Abraham, the *idea* of the quasi-Crucifixion, the *idea* of a narrow escape from capital punishment. Christianity can thus be read as a political-style retelling of the Prometheus myth and other myths and mystery-religion saviors of the time.
The Jews were politically oriented and looking for a political/military type of savior, who might risk or give his life in battle to emancipate his people like the Roman "saviors"/Caesars and martial hero/saviors. What then would be the Jewish version of the mystery-religions? It would be a *political*-style, martial-style mystery religion.
Putting aside Maccoby's historical Literalism about Jesus' existence and crucifixion, and about Paul's existence and apostolic adventures, what Christianity is is revealed by Maccoby as a combination of two separate elements: the hope for a political-martial Messiah/savior, and the mystery-religion ideas.
That is a natural combination for the peak of the mystery-myth era, which I place more around the year 125 than the year 30. I consider the Christian religion to have meaningfully started around 125 rather than 30 CE.
Was the general idea of "savior" associated more with martial heroes or with the mystery-religion dying-and-rising gods? There were similarities. The martial heroes died in victorious battle against the enemy who would have enslaved the hero's home city. The hero was the savior of his city, having freed it from the threat of slavery; the hero was then publicly held to have ascended in apotheosis.
These ideas resonated and were weakly reflected in the mystery- religions before Christianity. The dying-and-rising mystery-religion god freed his followers from metaphysical enslavement in the block universe ruled by inexorable Fate and Time. These two traditions may have been on a collision course anyway, and finally came together in Christianity.
Christianity is a political-style mystery-religion, an allegory comparing mystic ego-death to political emancipation from slavery under the Roman eagle standard. The Jesus figure is a composite based on the general form of the Jewish rebels against Roman rule or enslavement, comparable to the story of the Jews being emancipated from slavery in Egypt.
The Historical Literalist interpretation, combined with the lack of the first-hand mystery-religion state of loose cognition, has prevented us from recognizing the political allegory aspect of Christianity.
Here is a list of some terms I am conceptually re-indexing to map them to the mystic experiencing phenomena such as ego death as logical cancellation of the controlling moral agent:
o Redeemer from slavery
o Warrior/savior of the polis in battle
o Kidnapped/abducted -- common in mystery-myths; ego is kidnapped to the land of the non-living
o Capital offense, capital punishment -- our virtual metaphysical freedom amounts to a project of battling against the Ruler, which is the Ground that gives rise actually to our every thought
o Rebel -- we are ordinarily free agents rebelling against Fatedness
o Prisoners, imprisoned -- we see ourselves imprisoned in time
o Persecute -- the ego is persecuted during the mystic state
o Condemnation -- ego stands condemned by higher Reason, and is destined for an early death
o Defeat -- ego death is defeat of oneself as independent controller
o Mercy -- the lower mind cries for mercy from the higher mind as judge (self-judge) and the issue arises of what is a just way of demonstrating one's respect for the idea of being a lower self controlled by a hidden higher self
o Betrayed -- during mystic experiencing, one is betrayed by one's own will that is pulled here and there along the time axis by the hidden ground, escaping the seeming power of the ego-as-controller and creator of one's future actions
o Judge -- typically a judge over a capital-offense case, in which the punishment is death; this is the standard allegorical scenario because it relates to the question, "What did I do, what crime did I commit to deserve this humiliation, overthrow, thwarting, and death of myself as a metaphysically free self-ruler?"
o Exodus -- in the mystic state, one enters awareness of the metaphysical prison, and hopes to raise identity to escape and transcend that land of unfreedom
Such allegorical mappings of accustomed terms and concepts enable a complete and coherent re-reading of the canonical scriptures, as the Valentinian Gnostics read, as purely allegorical stories serving entirely to allude to mystery-religion experiencing. Entheogenic knowledge goes hand-in-hand with such integrity of commitment to mythic allegory.
There is simply no need for positing a Historical Jesus or accepting any conventional exoteric notions of what Christianity is about, if you have both the entheogenic key to genuine experiencing and the allegorical mapping to mystery-religion experiences.
New Web page:
Ruler Cult and Emperor Worship as Major Inputs to the Jesus Figure
Includes books, Web pages, and searches.
This subject is a potential growth area. In its day, the styling of Jesus as a divine being who yet was firmly rooted in the world was obviously comparable to the already long-familiar Ruler Cult, responding to and co-opting its theme of a practical savior, son of a god, arrived on earth in full presence, offering real and tangible help, benefits, and rescue.
It's not accurate to call the Jesus figure just a rebuttal to Ruler Cult, or just an ironic inversion of Ruler Cult, or just a co-optation of Ruler Cult -- such views set up false polarities like that between literal truth and lies, or between politics and religion. The Jesus figure was an expression of the mysticism-gnosis-philosophy-religion-socio-politics of the day, as was emperor worship.
There were elements of irony and inversion, rebuttal and co-optation, but it's a gross misreading of the cultural context and in-context meaning of both earliest Christianity and of Ruler Cult if one paints a simple-minded picture of first, imperial politics in religious dress (Ruler Cult), leading to a reactive response, of a religion wearing a socio-political styling (Christianity).
With visionary plant-based primary religious experiencing on tap unremarkably, all the modern assumptions about religion being hardly attainable, and therefore set far aside, collapse.
Because intense psychoactive religious experiencing was available as easily as ordering a cup of wine today, religion was not put away into a separate category, and due to the quickening nature of the readily available intense mystic altered state, all domains of life and thought were inspired and all fell together into a single conglomerate glued together, comprising poetry, arts, sport, war, politics, philosophy, government, religion, mysticism, gnosis, and sociology.
Ruler Cult is important and overlooked -- almost suspiciously so. It would be grossly reductionist to portray Ruler Cult as the only source for the Jesus figure; the books on the subject are great showcases of that reductionism: they discover one thread that fed into the cloth, and mistake it for the entirety, and lacking the view of the entirety, they even misread the one thread, not recognizing that the political was viewed in an integral divine light.
Modern scholars don't recognize the visionary plant-triggered intense mystic altered state as reflected in the Jesus figure -- that's another key thread; I propose that frozen-time vertical determinism is still another key thread.
Emperor cult and resistance to it are some of the main factors that caused the Christian religion to form. The Hellenistic people admired something in Jewish religion and wanted to take that element from Judaism. Hellenes (Gentiles) saw great value in the exclusivism of Jewish monotheistic worship. The Hellenes wanted a Hellenistic equivalent of the Jewish monotheistic religion.
"Jesus is the only son of God" was a Hellenistic godman equivalent of the Jews' "worship only the God of Israel". The language of Christianity is designed to counter the language of Emperor Cult, and arose at the same time. The Christian language is an inversion or modification of the Emperor Cult language. Mystery religions other than Christianity allowed worshipping multiple gods, often held to be different faces of the same one god.
On the surface, the Jewish god was defined to be different: you must worship *only* this god, none other. For Hellenes, the battle of the Jews against the Roman Empire was represented by the Jewish insistence on worshipping only their God and absolutely refusing to worship the Emperor.
The downtrodden Hellenes liked the strategy of having a religion that only permitted worshipping that religion's god; this enabled them to justify not worshipping the Emperor; it was a way of saying "go to hell" to the Emperor Cult and the System of Empire.
Christianity was a very different version of Hellenistic dying/rising godman religion, because it combined an inversion of emperor cult with the exclusivity of worship, and exclusivity not designed to shut out, say, Buddhists, but rather, to shut out Emperor Cult and to avoid praise of the System of Empire. It's as if every resident of the U.S. were legally required to fly a flag in support of a current war, so people invent a new religion that only permits flying one flag, that of a pacifist religious figure.
There was some threat of large numbers of Hellenes converting to the Jewish religion because the Jewish religion offered an alternative to the Emperor Cult and giving praise to the System of Empire. However, most Hellenes wanted the uniquely exclusive worship the Jews had -- effective at telling the emperor and his system to go to hell -- but didn't want any of the other restrictive religious practices of the Jews, such as circumcision and food restrictions.
What would it mean to combine some main aspects of Hellenistic religion with some main aspects of the Jewish religion? Uniqueness and exclusivity of worship -- worshipping some harmless mythic figure rather than worshipping the emperor and his system. Different people had different reasons to literalize the Jesus figure.
The system of empire tried to push the emperor cult onto people, with the emperor claiming to be son of God, divine savior, and so on, and an effective strategy of resistance was to say that only Jesus was the son of god -- *not* the emperor -- and that one's religion required worshipping only Jesus -- *not* the emperor. That "not worship the emperor" element is what the Jewish religion and the Christian version of the Hellenistic core mystery-religion have in common.
Christianity was formed through a giant process of tug-of-war in many directions, and drawing many figures together into one from many sources. Gnostic mystics had a large part in shaping early Christianity; so did emperors and rulers and bishops and women and others have a large part in shaping early Christianity.
Christianity had a combination of exclusiveness and catholic all-encompassing potential, making it a hot product that all parties ended up trying to shape, co-opt, commandeer, and appropriate.
The first thing to understand about early Christianity is that it was the product of contention and tug-of-war, and that many people had every reason to inflate and literalize and also to spiritualize the Jesus figure as much as possible, and then fight to control him as much as possible, like a magic token that is everything to everyone and thus becomes a runaway black hole of power and meaning.
There were many reasons for various groups to literalize Jesus as much as possible (bishops and rulers built false-scarcity salvation franchises this way), and there were many reasons for various groups to attribute all wisdom, all goodness, all power, all mystic insight to this one figure.
The Jesus figure is the kind of figure that naturally resulted from the strategy of the populace to reject Emperor Cult and create a figure more powerful and profound than the hyper-inflated figure of the mundane emperor as divine. The strategy was effective: people wanted to convert to Judaism to refuse Emperor Cult, but they also refused the undesirable aspects of Judaism.
They needed and so they created a Hellenistic/Jewish fusion, combining the kind of religion that they loved from the mystery-religions (and therefore similar to Emperor Cult), together with the exclusivity of worship of the Jewish religion, and the supposedly ancient pedigree of the Jewish religion. Then they threw out the actual Jews. What did the Hellenists want from the Jewish religion? Above all, they wanted its exclusivity of worship.
There were other lesser aspects too, including the ancient pedigree and the Homer-like mythic allegories comprising the Old Testament, as well as the universally standard use of visionary plants in the divine meals or feasts of the Jewish religion of that day, same as the mystery-religions. Community of support was valuable too. Many Christians were women and slaves, at the start.
Although the Christian (Hellenized Jewish exclusive-worship) religion was a popular and successful way of refusing Emperor Cult, the notion of a defeated messiah was also welcome by the emperors. The only thing depressing to the emperors was that they could no longer demand to be worshipped, but that was ok, since Emperor Cult was more of a product of the System of Empire than something that the individual emperors personally desired.
The Roman Empire of Constantine successfully commandeered and co-opted the "worship God only, not the Emperor" Jewish and Christian religion by simply making it the official religion and dropping the worship of the emperor. The rulers said: Fine, if you would go so far as to make a new religion in order to refuse Emperor Cult and refuse glorifying the System of Empire, so be it.
Christianity, as we define it, shall now be the equivalent of Emperor Cult. Instead of forcing you to worship the emperor to show your loyalty, you must now worship Christ, fed to you by us. This is how Christianity began as an effective resistance to the idea of the divine empire of Caesar, yet just as quickly was successfully taken over by the rulers of Caesar's empire.
Co-opting effective rebellion was the most effective way for the rulers to quash the rebellion. Early Christianity quickly demolished Emperor Cult, but was as quickly taken over by the rulers. There are many dynamics in the formation of Christianity, many parties, many groups, many strategies and counter-strategies, many origins of Christianity and many elements, and many forms of Christianity.
This confluence of forces that were often at odds produced a heated central point of contention, which became the more or less single religion of Christianity between 325 and 410 CE. Early, bottom-up Christianity as a religion of resistance to Empire can be represented by Mary Magdalene as the successor of Jesus, while the co-opted, top-down Christianity of Empire can be represented by Peter as the successor of Jesus. The canon has clear traces of the battle between these two main, contrasting purposes of Christianity.
The language and religion of Ruler Cult was started by the authorities (politically hierarchical).
Around 1-325 CE, the commoners co-opted this language and religion of Caesar and assigned it to a military loser figure, Jesus (politically democratic-republic; anti-hierarchical).
Around 325-1800 CE, the authorities counter-co-opted the divine king idea; they co-opted the democratic anti-hierarchical King Jesus religion from the commoners, emphasized the supernaturist reading, made illegal the mystical experiential higher layer, and wiped out the democratic (anti-hierarchical) political reading.
That's how we ended up with a hierarchical religion of King Jesus, though the King Jesus religion was initially designed specifically to be *anti*-hierarchical -- designed originally to resist just that kind of oppressive pseudo-"divine" socio-political hierarchy.
The democratic, anti-hierarchy, original true spirit of the King Jesus religion was eventually rediscovered by the Anabaptists (the Radical Reformers) around 1530 and the itinerant preachers after the U.S. war of independence (1790-1830).
So we have two different parties (commoners, authorities) straining to spin the King Jesus religion two different ways (anti- hierarchical, hierarchical).
The most U.S.-spirited churches are the completely independent (anti- hierarchy) ones that refuse to be held doctrinally accountable to a higher organization, and that offer open communion (rather than creedal, controlled, closed communion, which was used to control and exclude people, to politically oppress and coerce them).
An established example of an independent denomination that even refuses the risky, suspect, historically tainted, hierarchical concept of denomination is the Churches of Christ, established by the wild independent preachers of the early 1800s American frontier.
Recently, there has been a movement toward this non-denominational, non-hierarchical model, away from denominations. I took anti- hierarchy for granted, though historically, denominations each had a structured internal scheme of political and legal rule, that threateningly hovered over each church, policing the ministers and its members.
We are so anti-hierarchy in this era, it's amazing to find how absolutely and extremely hierarchical European and U.S. society was until recently, with elite authoritarian priests dictating religion to the cowering masses of commoners.
The distinguishing characteristics of the Christian version of the standard Hellenistic mystic experiencing/initiation system were its counter-Caesar sociopolitical theme and its claim of its godman's literal presence on earth, a claim which necessarily follows upon the decision to style this as a counter-Caesar sociopolitical theme.
Caesar was better than the mythic godman benefactors because he offered real, tangible assistance, as the son of god present not just mystically, but in the flesh -- therefore it directly logically follows that if the Jesus figure is designed as a rebuttal, a counter-Caesar, Jesus too *must* be said to be present in the flesh, offering real and tangible and better benefits in the physical realm -- and better than Caesar, Jesus also offers all the mystic-state and spiritual benefits that a mythic godman brings.
The basic Jesus idea and strategy was to combine the standard mythic/mystic godman themes with the Ruler Cult themes. If Jesus was to outdo Caesar and his system of benefits, and outdo the other mythic godmen, he must combine the two, being both man and god, both divinized human ruler and descending mythic/mystic godman, offering benefits as good as, and better than, both types.
>>In the context of first-century Israel, what was the "tangible assistance" from oppressive Caesar that the ordinary person would have experienced?
It's rather a matter of what tangible assistance was *promised* (not necessarily delivered) by Ruler Cult (not necessarily by the specific cult of Caesar). Christians here "Jesus is lord, savior, rescuer, king, benefactor, son of god" and incorrectly think that Christianity invented this language. In the era in which Christianity was initially formed, this language was associated first with Ruler Cult, so that when this language was used for Jesus or Christ, it was heard as:
Jesus, *rather than* Caesar and the sociopolitical system of Ruler Cult, is lord, savior, rescuer, king, benefactor, son of god. Jesus is, and therefore, Caesar (or another worldly ruler) is not lord etc. Jesus is the only name by which we must be saved, and therefore, Caesar (or another worldly ruler) is *not* the name by which we are rescued and helped.
Many people in the Hellenistic world did in fact elevate Caesar and such world rulers through Ruler Cult. The Roman system, not "Roman occupation". Don't limit thinking to "Roman occupation" as though there is isolation between the Jews and the rest of the world; Christianity was addressed to the world and largely originated in Rome and Alexandria.
The Roman system had various benefits and disadvantages. The downtrodden masses and much of the middle class focused on the disadvantages of the Roman system and were somewhat attracted to the figure that represented a counter-system, Jesus -- Jesus and his system as a rebuttal and counter to Caesar and his system.
The general comparison is loud and clear in its cultural context, between Jesus and his sociopolitical system vs. Caesar-type figures and the associated sociopolitical system. It was not permitted to specifically explicitly oppose Caesar and such rulers. The Jesus figure's lifestory was largely designed to reflect aspects of the Julius Caesar story behind the Cult of Caesar. It was neither necessary nor possible to explicitly say that Jesus was specifically an alternative to Caesar himself.
Books covering Christianity as contrary response and contrast to Ruler Cult, domination hierarchy, and the system of Caesar:
Matthew and Empire: Initial Explorations
The Message and the Kingdom: How Jesus and Paul Ignited a Revolution and Transformed the Ancient World
Richard Horsley, Neil Silberman
Backgrounds of Early Christianity
The Religious Context of Early Christianity: A Guide to Graeco-Roman Religions
Book list: Christianity as political rebellion against "divine" Caesar
>>The existence of Paul, Ignatius, Peter, James, John, Mary, Mary, and Lazarus can only be minor footnotes to investigate. If Jesus can be questioned, then of course we should also question the existence of a hundred other Christian founding figures and ask not whether, but how extensively literalization/fabrication was used to construct literalist, official, orthodox Christianity and its false history, false story, false worldview and paradigm.
Why did the officials in Rome go to all the trouble of creating the orthodox version of Christianity? Political power. The official story of why and how Christianity rose won't answer this question. We can piece together a coherent, sensible, and plausible non-orthodox picture and story from the research done by those such as Pagels, Freke & Gandy, Detering, Conley, Acharya, Doherty, and the Dutch Radical Critics.
Those in Rome who sought power correctly saw an opportunity to gain power for themselves by synthetically creating a universal syncretized religion that they controlled and used to control the politically rebellious populace. A key word describing the political-religious dynamics is "counter-co-opt". The people created Dionysus and had him destroy the king.
The king, via ruler cult, co-opted the Dionysus figure's attributes, declaring himself savior. The people co-opted the ruler cult savior figure into the temporarily politically defeated Jesus, their own savior set against the ruler cult. Then the rulers in Rome counter-counter-... co-opted the Jesus political-religious savior figure by creating the apostles and co-opting Paul.
This soccer game with the savior figure and his attributes as the ball, includes Zoroastrianism and all the kings in all the religious myths, and the aristocrat Alcibiades who was against democracy, and it includes the expulsion from Athens of any aristocrat who became too great.
Christianity was first about mystic experiencing, with elements of political allegory, driven by the Gnostics. After 313, it was about politics disguised as supernatural religion, with elements of mystic experiencing, driven by the aristocratic officials.
Christianity was originally about mystic experiencing, then about mystic experiencing and political resistance, then about political subversion manipulated by aristocrats in Rome.
Christianity was initially a mystery-religion initiation, one of many, following a standard pattern. All mystery-religions shared essentially the same core: sacred meal, godman, consort, mythic allegory of mystic experience, some encounter with a transcendence of cosmic determinism, some experience of transcendent unity-consciousness.
Many of these elements also were present in the Passover Seder meal-ritual and the Greek/Roman symposium (a mythic-religious-philosophical drinking party).
The mythic story in each mystery-religion had something that made it distinct from the rest. Christianity's distinctive mythic story feature was its strong use of the political-rebellion theme. It wasn't only politics disguised as an initiatory mystery-religion. It was, rather, a genuine initiatory mystery-religion with a stronger political aspect than the other mystery-religions.
Research is needed, to confirm and adjust these assertions. We need to know the relationship between mystery-religions and politics -- the relationship will prove to be interesting.
Jerusalem-based religious myth may have acted as a strategic axis between the Roman Empire and Persia.
This kind of political insight is essential and key, perhaps especially in the case of Christianity. But allegory representing primary religious experiencing -- mystic experiencing -- is even more key. These kind of scriptures are a mix of allegorized strategic politics and allegorized mystic experiencing. The scriptures use political-styled allegory to represent personal mystic phenomena, and use mystic-styled allegory to represent political relationships and events.
It was also popular to mix astrotheology into the mix, using each of these domains to represent the others:
o Food, plants, animals, sacred meals
The result is a kind of language, a kind of mode of thought that is inebriated and oversaturated, like the Book of Revelation, with allegory stunts, using various allegory domains to make statements about the other domains. In the mystic's opinion, the central allegory domain is mystic phenomena such as the experience of no-separate-self or the experience of and transcendence of determinism. That's really the only thing that keeps the religion a religion, rather than mere allegorized politics.
Primary religious experience (mystic experience) can be used to allegorically represent politics, and vice versa. Christianity is filled with political-style allegorization of mystic experiencing and mystic-style allegorization of political relationships. If Christianity is considered as religion, then the mystic-experiencing allegory domain is mandatory and primary, while the political allegory-domain is optional and secondary.
I have no objection to strongly emphasizing the mystic allegory-domain in Christianity and forgetting the political allegory-domain, but I strongly object if a researcher strongly emphasizes the political aspect and forgets the mystic-experiencing allegory-domain.
My vigilant concern to preserve the mystic allegory-domain is a compensation to balance out the strong urge of sociologists (Rodney Stark, Burton Mack) to collapse and reduce Christianity entirely into the political realm -- "Christianity is really just politics in disguise".
The Christian insistence that a non-existent man is one's only savior and that he'll return to overthrow the world's emperors was a knowing, deliberate strategic move on the part of the Christians to preempt any emperor from claiming divine right and divine approval -- it's a way of maintaining that the emperors are emphatically *not* divinely approved and appointed.
They may have been put in place by Fate and Necessity, but those are like the Demiurge or ego: a corrupt ruler in a fallen, deterministic universe that our god and our one and only savior will overthrow and has overthrown. If the emperor is appointed by Fate and Divine Necessity as the officials claim, then the Gnostic Christians cast the god Fate down into Hades and worship an even higher god.
If the emperor is the sun that rules the cosmos, then the Gnostics decide they shall instead worship the sun that rules over that sun, and reject the emperor as their savior deserving worship. Early Christianity was an initiatory mystery-religion distinguished by its role and form as a popular underclass rebellion against the divine authority of the emperors and their status quo value system and the honor/shame system.
So the aristocrats and emperors forever lost the ability to claim the godman role of Savior any longer -- the Gnostic Christians found a way to successfully and permanently tear the attributes of "savior" away from the emperor and reduce any and all possible emperors to the level of a despised demiurge -- a substantial achievement. What could the aristocracy do to salvage what they could?
They could no longer claim to themselves be the divine savior one must worship, but they could strive to control, distort, and co-opt the new popular anti-emperor religion in which the non-existent man Jesus would permanently fill the top slot, excluding any actual man from claiming that seat. Instead, the highest any man could now rise would be to the seat of "Christ's vicar on earth" -- the pope, who couldn't exactly ask to be worshipped as the divinely appointed ruler of the world, but could come close enough.
This is why the officials in Rome went to all the trouble of creating the orthodox version of Christianity -- to salvage what they could of the claim to divinely appointed power from the Gnostics who had successfully managed to permanently install their non-man, Jesus, in the top seat of cosmic power as the only divinely authorized and appointed Ruler of the World, the King who humbles and limits all worldly kings and prohibits worshipping them.
The Gnostic Christians effectively stole Judaism and broke it as the price of demolishing Ruler Cult. The popes and emperors from then on had to settle for a seat of humility, had to bend the knee to someone else, the non-man Jesus as a ruler over them, and could nevermore demand to be acclaimed divinely righteous and deserving of worship as a god and savior.