Who is this King of Glory? – A Critical Study of the Christos-Messiah Tradition 2
Alvin Boyd Kuhn
FANCY’S FABRIC TURNS INTO HISTORY
The story turns next to a chapter in revelation that must strike all but a few readers as incredible beyond all possibility of its being the simple truth. Even if the weight of the evidence submitted seems indubitably to support the position, it will still fail acceptance by many. It will leave even those convinced by the presentation shocked, bewildered, incredulous. That so gross a blunder, both gigantic and stupid, could have been perpetrated, and that it could have been foisted upon the world’s intelligence for sixteen centuries without detection by the united acumen of all scholars over that period, will appear impossible. It will be the giraffe whose existence the farmer denied while looking it up and down. It will come close to upsetting Lincoln’s witty apothegm, and almost prove that all the people can be fooled all the time, or for sixteen centuries. It brings the disconcerting realization that after all fifty million Frenchmen can be wrong. The upset of cherished maxims of human polity is distressing. The foundations of homiletics will be shaken. So vast a miscarriage of wisdom, embroiling the mental life of millions for centuries in the darkest superstitions, setting spiritual culture back for ages, will seem too enormous a price to pay for a mere misreading of myths. A consequence of such enormity would seem out of all proportion to the apparently trivial nature of the cause.
But the misreading of myths and allegories, fables and dramas, brought the historical Christ into hypostatization, euhemerized the central spiritual conception in all religion, and thus emasculated what was to have been the most potent dynamic of the whole religious life. It left the world chasing a chimera instead of focusing effort on the culture of spirituality. It threw a possible great civilization under the pall and handicap of the most fantastic conception that ever misdirected the moral genius of man into eccentric and bizarre and eventually cataclysmic channels. It killed the psychological efficacy of the whole religious enterprise, diverting zeal from the one pivot point where zeal alone counts, – the life of the inner consciousness and seat of character, the soul.
The revelation thus heralded and now to be substantiated by accumulated documentation, is the colossal blunder, perpetrated from the third century on, of mistaking myth, drama, ritual, allegory and other forms of typical representation for objective history, and following this by turning the body of myths into alleged occurrence. This chapter and indeed the entire work is the answer to the raucous chorus of protestation that will arise on all sides against the possibility of such a thing, declaring it absurd and demanding the evidence to prove it. In many quarters the declaration will be laughed out of court and given no chance to present its credentials. It can be said in patient appeal for examination of the supporting data that the closer one looks into the matter, the more completely does the apparent absurdity fade away and probability increase to certainty. When scrutiny has been carried on penetratingly enough, the absurdity of its being true turns quite around and gives place to the absurdity of any other view. Not only can the mistake be established on factual evidence, but the perception that a mistake has been made supplies the only hypothesis that yields a full and consistent explanation of all the data extant in the case. It alone provides a formula which solves all the difficulties and tangles involved in the problem. If this is so, it must be accepted and accredited as substantial proof. For if research elicits a formula which enables all the data to be explained rationally and consistently by its key, the formula is considered as satisfactorily established. The key that fits all locks must be the master key. A thousand questions, complications, inconsistencies, contradictions, illogicalities in current interpretation both of scriptural text and historical implication are resolved into entirely consistent intelligibility when the true key is applied. If this resultant can not be accepted as ultimate proof of the correctness of the thesis, it at least gives it the field over every other proposal that does not so resolve the difficulties with half the consonance and reasonableness.
The ancient illuminati depicted the soul’s experience in this life by means of myth, drama, allegory and pictorial ideograph; and in the third century the increasingly ignorant Christian laity and the decreasingly intelligent Christian priesthood conspired at last to convert the whole into supposed history. That is the whole story in a thimble. But we can not go far with it in the thimble. Its full detailing demands a great elaboration. It is frankly the gigantic task to support the claim against determined and crafty opposition, for the very obvious reason that esotericism did not openly proclaim or defend itself, and therefore its defense is not in evidence in rebuttal of opposing claims. The opposition also has possessed the enormous advantage of being able to destroy all the evidence of the other side, a point which has been strikingly mentioned by Sir Gilbert Murray in his studies. It seems clear that a case which must be upheld by the destruction of opposing evidence stands already prejudiced as a weak one.
But there are times when history itself enacts an amazing drama of poetic justice in the operation of moral forces. So long as the voice of ancient Egypt’s wisdom was hushed in silence, so long as the Egyptian papyri and stelae could not be read, the pious imposture could go on. Nearly two millennia passed, with Egypt’s testimony unavailable. But in the fullness of time Napoleon’s Colonel, Broussard, dug up the Rosetta Stone and Napoleon wisely saw its possible value. It is questionable whether, for direct cultural value to all races, any event, battle or reformation in human history surpasses this simple discovery of an entablatured rock. It is fast proving the ghost of retribution, the instrument of justice, the Nemesis of a Christianity fostered by ignorance and superstition. It opens up the vast treasure-house of ancient Egyptian literature, where, once exposed to view, there lies before our eyes the full and incontestable evidence of Christianity’s false claims. That literature supplies the direct missing links in the body of comparative religion study, a study which proves beyond cavil that Christianity was not the first pure divine release of the one “true religion,” but only at best a badly mangled copy of earlier Egyptian religion. So far was it from being an advance or improvement over pagan cultures that it is possible to say it was not even a good reprint of them, was in fact a vitiation and sheer caricature of more perfect ancient systems. However much this sounds like the vilest heresy and contumacy in flouting the traditional poses of orthodoxy, the truth should not be suppressed merely because it shocks those who prefer to hold to the set grooves of acceptation and who for a hundred reasons are unwilling to face a humiliating readjustment. Conservatism ever finds an error, when coupled with security, a more comfortable companion than truth admitted to the house with disturbing consequences. Only after new truth has slowly crept into the general body and settled itself commodiously amongst the former elements, will the conservative group adopt it, with the lying manifesto that they had been standing for the innovation all the time. Particularly has this been true of religious conservatism. The last to yield old ground to new positions, it is yet the loudest to extol the new form when finally it has established itself firmly. History supports this analysis.
The Rosetta Stone and Champollion’s marvelous work in deciphering its cryptic hieroglyphics will force Christianity to face its pagan origins and admit at last its long-denied parentage in the ancient Egyptian wisdom. It has spurned its true ancestry, and having in the meantime heaped obloquy and contempt upon it, now finds it humiliating, when the true descent is established, to accept the connection. But it must do so or – perish. It can no longer support its claims in the face of contradictory evidence, which, with the release of Egypt’s hidden wisdom, the rediscovery of the “lost language of symbolism” in which all ancient scriptures were written and the recovery of the buried esoteric meaning of all ancient religion, has been raised in height and volume from hillock to mountain size. With candid truth-seeking as its guiding star, there needs to be instituted a sincere scholastic research of all available documents to trace the causes, motives and circumstances of that devastating surge of forces which swept over the masses in the Roman Empire about the third century and with fell violence stamped out the cult of esoteric wisdom and closed up its schools and academies. With dispiriting unanimity the religious historians and Christian writers hail the suppression of the Mystery Brotherhoods and the philosophical schools as the happy ending of a degenerate paganism and the beginning of a Christianity of spiritual purity. By what distortions or chicanery of logic or sophistry the extinction of the great Plato’s still unexampled wisdom, Socrates’ magnificent dialectic of truth and Aristotle’s consummate perspicacity can be twisted into a triumph of truth over error and the bright dawn of a new day for humanity, is surely not easily discerned. The logical inconsistency of the position is brought vividly to light in the historical phenomenon that transpired a thousand years later, when the strength of the whole Christian system was by the Medieval schoolmen built up on the foundations of the books of the same Plato and Aristotle, the obliteration of whose philosophies from the early Christian doctrinism was hailed as the end of world benightedness and the beginning of world enlightenment. During some earlier centuries of the Medieval period Plato’s Timaeus was the principal authority for Christian exposition; and for nearly a thousand years later Aristotle was the venerated master for all the Schoolmen, with Aquinas in the lead, of the regnant Church. Forsooth, then, it was a benison to humanity to have earlier closed their great colleges under the sycamores of Greece! This is the crooked logic of factual history and in the light of it the world can see at last that Christian claims and Christian acts do not lie straight in the same bed. Had it not been for the Arabians and Moors the Schoolmen would probably never have had a Plato or Aristotle manuscript to found Medieval Christianity upon. The Christian propaganda office has vociferated a thousand times that the closing of the Platonic academies in the fifth century ended the Dark Ages of paganism and heralded the era of true religion. The Catholic Church vociferates with equal vigor that the revival of Aristotelian philosophy and its use as the bulwark of a rationalized Christianity was again the end of the Dark Ages of later Europe. It is a little confusing to be told that the world was saved by the suppression of Grecian esoteric wisdom and saved again by its renaissance. A fuller survey of some aspects of this muddled situation will be undertaken in a later chapter.
The marshaling of data to corroborate the positions taken will again require much quotation of authorities. The pointed force of documentary statements is in large measure lost when reported indirectly. The apology for so much direct quotation is that a work of this kind, combating universally accepted theses and putting forth conclusions which will be everywhere challenged, has no recourse but to summon a powerful array of authoritative statement to its side. The importance of the issues involved will amply justify the extensive citation.
We can put confidence in the sincere utterance of a fair-minded scholar like Mr. G. R. S. Mead, when he makes the following impressive statement (Did Jesus Live 100 Years B.C.?, p. 12):
“Canonical Christianity gradually evolved the mind-bewildering dogma that Jesus was in deed and in truth very God of very God, unique and miraculous in every possible respect; and the Church for some seventeen or eighteen centuries has boldly thrown down this challenge to the intellect and experience of humanity. . . . It is because of this stupendous claim, which has perhaps astonished none more than Himself, that the Church has brought upon herself a scrutiny into the history of her origins that it is totally unable to bear.”
We can do no better than continue with some exceedingly valuable declarations from the pen of Gerald Massey, which, however heterodoxical they may appear to the orthodox, cut to the heart of the truth with startling incisiveness. This clear-eyed scholar, with the open pages of Egypt’s symbolical and analogical wisdom under his gaze, showing the complete case for the derivation of Christian material from that august source, stood at a vantage point where few others have stood. Facing this perspective, his decisive advantage was his possession of both penetrating insight into things Egyptian and an unprejudiced open mind. It is to be hoped that our return to sanity and our more piercing discernment into ancient religion may bring us at last to see what he saw ahead of us, and may dispose us to do belated justice to the name of this truth-seeking student whom our blindness cheated of his legitimate honor and reward in his lifetime.
Massey says that the Mosaic account of the creation is allowed by the most learned of Jewish Rabbis, by Philo, Paul and certain of the Patristics to be a myth or symbolical representation; yet the whole structure of the Christian theology is founded on the ignorant assumption that it was not mythical but a veritable human occurrence in the domain of fact. As history, he avers, the Pentateuch has neither head, tail nor vertebrae. It is an indistinguishable mush of myth and mystery. He notes a logical consideration that has been missed by blind zeal to countenance the impossible in a religion of fanatical faith, but that must be granted much validity as an argument. This is the fact that had the Pentateuch been a real history, Palestine and Judea ought to have been found overstrewn with implements of war and work, both of Hebrew manufacture and that of the conquered races, whereas, outside of the Book, no evidence of the numberless combats and the devastation of Jehovah’s enemies in great battles is to be found. Also the country of a people so rich that King David in his poverty could collect one thousand millions of pounds sterling toward building a temple is found without art, sculptures, mosaics, bronzes, pottery or precious stones to lend credence to the Bible story. Proofs of Bible “history” will not be found, avers Massey, not though Palestine be dug up in the search. And how fatuous after all to think of digging in the earth to find the proofs of spiritual myths and allegories! No amount of archaeology can prove a myth.
But there was bound to come a time when the ancient world would begin to write history of the factual sort, or when, as recondite learning and deeper esoteric comprehension waned, the process of weaving actual history into the texture of the myths would make headway. In nearly every land the custodians of the myths sooner or later intermixed some national history with the spiritual dramas. As is so clearly evidenced in Virgil’s Aeneid, the temptation was almost unconquerable at times for the hierophants of religion to interweave the brighter deeds or virtues of a regnant king in the ritual drama, the more particularly since the king in all ancient countries did become the national type and personation of the Sun-God of the temple ceremonies. Kings were almost invariably named after the spiritual Sun-King of the drama. The titles of the Emperor of Ethiopia and Oriental monarchs still testify to this old custom. As nearly as can be determined, the time when this transition from myth to history occurred in Jewish history was in the days of Hezekiah. From then on the allegories of the descent of the gods to earth are made to run into and blend with a line of historical personages. This process, as Massey saw it, so confused the impossible situations found in myth and allegory with the ostensibly possible facts of history that to accredit the narrative as history the mind had to entertain many bizarre and fabulous incidents under the rating of miracle. The blending of history with myth opened the door to the entry of that derationalizing scourge born of religious ineptitude, the belief in miracle, Massey contends. It created the susceptibility to take stock in prodigy, the supernatural, the ominous, which nearly all minds engender from a literal reading of the scriptures. Massey feels that religion has unsettled men’s minds by its glorification of the miraculous and the supernatural, when the whole basis of its true strength and salutary influence for humanity lies in its inculcating the majesty and divinity of the ever-present miracle of the natural. He attests that the sane ancient religion was founded upon the natural, the highest spiritual verities being everywhere presented in the light of their analogy with some natural phenomenon. Massey would have endorsed Emerson’s wise discernment that “the true mark of genius is to see the miraculous in the common.” The Hebrew writings were preserved, Massey continues, on account of the sacred mystery that lay underneath the veil of symbol, the veil that Isis boasted no man had lifted from her person. The writings were held in sanctity because of what they veiled; but to the Christians their sanctity goes no deeper than the veil, and is bred and kept alive only by ignorance, “absolute, unquestioning, unsuspecting ignorance of the meaning of symbolism.” With them the veil itself is the treasure, and they know not the real treasure beneath it. And since they have centered all the sanctity in the veil, when that is torn off, all the sanctity is lost for them. They have disciplined no faculty which would enable them to see the real treasure when it is exposed to view. They howl that their treasure has been stolen away from them, when only the ornamentally carved lid of the treasure chest has been removed. And this indeed has been the tragedy of the situation. Voltaire, Paine, Ingersol, the Encyclopedists, the Deists, the atheists and the Freethinkers and religious skeptics generally have effectively torn away and trampled under foot the outer garments of Bible myths, all unaware that these clothed the body of truth. The revelation of the absurdity of Bible allegory, taken as supposed history, broadcast by these efforts, set on fire in millions of minds a burning resentment against the whole institution of religion, and the Bible, theology and priestcraft as its criminal accessories. They see nothing in religion worth saving. This upsweep of rationalism, as reaction against centuries of omnicredulous faith, threatens to abolish religion from the earth. This is the price the world is paying for the loss of symbolic genius in the third century. Nothing will save the cult of genuine religion from this menacing hand but the quick restoration of the knowledge that there is no absurdity and nonsense, but only grandeur of truth, when the scriptures are read as sublime spiritual allegories instead of histories. Nothing will stay the besom of devastation but the quick recovery of the lost language of symbolism. For nothing else will bring to light the treasure beneath the veil.
Massey maintains (Book of the Beginnings, Vol. II, p. 180) that when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in the third century B.C. by some Alexandrian Jews, the process of elimination of the esoteric is very visible. Dates were altered to conceal the true sense. And after the allegories had been transformed into histories, the true or symbolic reading according to the principles of the secret tradition was forbidden to be taught in schools. The Pharisees were so fearful of the popular despoliation of the Apocryphal wisdom by the unworthy that they sought to prevent the teaching of writing to the masses.
Testimony that Massey is correct in saying that myth and history inevitably tend to merge into one is found in the book of a writer whose aim is to disprove the mythical interpretation of the scriptures. T. J. Thorburn, in his The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels (p. 120), writes:
“The myth proper is an explanation of some occurrence in nature – not in history – which deals chiefly with legend in its early stages. The personifications which take place in myths, however, help to link nature with history and to parallel events and persons in history with the phenomena of nature. Thus the legendary and even historical stories often become paralleled, and even confused with mythical ones. . . . In this way it is possible that John (and in a certain sense . . . Jesus also) became analogues of personified natural phenomena.”
Very instructive for us today is Thorburn’s next sentence:
“To the modern and European mind this process obscures and weakens the historical character of the human counterpart; to the ancient and Oriental mind it merely added vividness and reality to his picture.”
It seems likely that the writer of this sentence did not catch the profounder significance of his own words, which hint at a superficial meaning when really great truth is being uttered. He did not realize that “the human counterpart” of the mythical analogue was man collectively, and not only some characters in Gospel narrative. And what dialectic or logical justification there is in his using the word “merely” in his last sentence it is difficult to see. It seems to be there as evidence of the insatiate impulsion in orthodox minds to cast a slight upon pagan systems at every turn. One of the high purposes of the mythicizing tendency of ancient scripture was directly to “add vividness and reality” to the productions. The writer’s insertion of the word “merely” commits him to saying in effect that the adding of vividness and reality to sacred narrative was something trivial and inconsequential. If the method succeeded in adding vividness and reality, it at least accomplished something that has been lamentably lacking in later presentation of religious material. But Thorburn, in the very effort to discredit the utility of ancient mythicism, has splendidly stated its entire validity. His charge that the admixture of myth in scripture has obscured and weakened the full force of its educative power has a semblance of truth in it only because the interwoven myth has been uncomprehended. The presence of myth in the record has been a stumbling block only because all power to interpret it had been lost. It still remains true that the understanding use of myths by the ancients did vastly enhance the vividness and reality of the truths thus poetically embellished. But it turns out that a statement meant to deprecate the influence of the myth really concedes the claim for its high utility. Thorburn’s unpremeditated admission states with great precision the signal distinction between the ancient sagacious use of the myth and the modern ignorant miscomprehension of its function.
Massey divides humanity into two classes, the knowing and the simple, and says that the knowing ones kept back the esoteric explanation of the myths to let the belief of the untutored masses in the real history take root. “The simple ones, like Bunyan, ‘fell suddenly into an allegory about the journey on the way to glory,’ which allegory, they were led to believe, was purely matter of fact.”
The great truth of history remains to be faced, Massey insists, that the Gospel of “Equinoctial Christolatry” was written before, with a totally different rendering, and that the sayings, dogmas, doctrines, types and symbols, including both the cross and the Christ, did not originate where we may have just made acquaintance with them. This cryptology was written before in the books of secret wisdom, now interpretable according to the recovered Gnosis. It was pre-extant in the types which now have been traced from the lowest root to highest branch. It was inscribed before in the records of the past drawn on the starry skies. The truth is that the real origines of the cult of true Christolatry (not Christianity) have never yet been reached; hardly indeed have they even been suspected, because of the supposed “New Beginning” in human history which was taken for granted by those who knew no further. The evidence for all this, however, could not have been adduced before the mythology, typology and Christology of Egypt were discovered in the keeping of the mummies and disinterred from the vaults of the dead. Now, fortunately, the lost language of celestial allegory is being restored, chiefly through the resurrection of ancient Egypt, and scriptures can be read in the sense in which they were originally written.
In The Book of the Beginnings (Vol. II, p. 226) Massey says that one of two things is sure: “either the Book of Enoch contains the Hebrew history in allegory, or the celestial allegory is the Hebrew history. The parallel is perfect.” Nor is there any escape by sticking one’s head in the sand and foolishly fancying that the writer of the Book of Enoch amused himself by transforming a Hebrew history into celestial allegory and concealing its significance by leaving out all the personal names. “On the contrary it is the allegory which has been turned into the later history.” Sacred history may and does begin with mythology; but mythology does not commence with history.
Massey’s claim here has been disputed as a farcical fancy; but it can not be waved aside with a mere snort of ridicule when the evidence has to be faced. The Book of Enoch certainly contains the same characters as the sacred and secret history of the Jews, and as these belong to the astronomical allegory in the one book, that is good evidence of their being mythical in the other. There is no doubt that the Book of Enoch is what it claimed to be, the book of the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, with no relation whatever to human history. It should be subjoined to Massey’s last statement that he does not mean that the celestial allegory, while it has no reference to human history objectively, is not all the while the allegorical portrayal of the meaning of all human history. The same is true of the book of Revelation.
Tersely he says that the Hebrew miracles are Egyptian myths, and as such, and only as such, can they be explained in harmony with the nature and reasoning principles of the mind. Held as miracles they are amenable neither to natural fact nor to rational rating. “The sacred writings of the world are not concerned with geography, chronology or human history. The historic spirit is not there. This is so in writing as late as the Talmud.” What started out to be the type of history came to be taken as the matter of history, as ignorance submerged the keener diagnosis. The hidden significance fades out from less competent mentality and slips away, letting in more and more the “historical” assumptions. How slow the modern mind has been to see this process at work! Massey promises to restore the lost key hidden in Egypt by the data of comparative religion, which will be remorselessly applied.
Godfrey Higgins is found standing beside Massey in these general conclusions. In The Anacalypsis (p. 366) he writes his rebuke to ecclesiastical insincerity in forceful terms:
“How can any one consider the infinite correlations found in comparative study and not see the mythologic nature of nearly all epic poetry and early ‘history’?”
“Mr. Faber, Mr. Bryant and Nimrod have proved this past doubt. . . . Our priests have taken the emblems for the reality. . . . Our priests will be very angry and deny all this. In all nations, in all times, there has been a secret religion; in all nations, in all time the fact has been denied.”
Another passage declares vigorously that it all raises a very unpleasant doubt in his mind, after long consideration, as to whether “we really have one history uncontaminated with judicial astrology.” He adds that Sir William Drummond has shown that the names of most of the places in Joshua are astrological, and Gen. Vallency has shown that Jacob’s prophecy is astrological also, with a direct reference to the constellations. To this probably Jacob referred when he bade his children read in the book of the heavens the fate of themselves and their descendants.
Higgins quotes Bryant as saying that it is evident that most of the deified personages never existed, but were mere titles of the Deity, or of the Sun, Deity’s universal symbol, and for our solar system, Deity’s embodiment, as was earlier shown by Macrobius. Nor was there ever any such folly perpetrated in ancient history as the supposition that the gods of the Gentile world had been natives of the countries where they were worshipped. Bryant well observes that it was a chief study of the learned to register the legendary stories concerning the gods, to conciliate the absurdities and to arrange the whole into a chronological series – a fruitless and drudging labor. “For there are in these fables such inconsistencies and contradictions as no act nor industry can remedy. . . . This misled Bishop Cumberland, Waker, Pearson, Petavius, Scaliger, with numberless other learned men, and among the foremost the great Newton.” As to the last name, it is not so certain that the great Newton was so completely misled. He states in his Principia that he was led to his great discoveries by many implications of the esoteric study, especially in the books of Jacob Böhme, the shoemaker esotericist. Bryant then goes on to demonstrate that the whole of such material, if literally understood, was a mass of falsity and rubbish.
Higgins makes the direct charge that sublime philosophical truths or virtues have been clothed with bodies and converted into living creatures. Starting with the plausible attempt to screen them from “the vulgar eye,” the purpose of concealment worked with such thoroughness that the generality of men came at last to treat them in a literal sense. He attributes the change which resulted in the loss of the esoteric sense to the inevitable fluctuations that come in the run of evolutionary progress.
But the chief fault he places where Massey and others lay it – at the door of a designing priesthood:
“That the rabble were the victims of a degrading superstition I have no doubt. This was produced by the knavery of the ancient priests, and it is in order to reproduce this effect that the modern priests have misrepresented the doctrines of their predecessors. By vilifying and running down the religion of the ancients they have thought they could persuade their votaries that their new religion was necessary for the good of mankind; a religion which in consequence of their corruptions has been found to be in practice much worse and more injurious to the interests of society than the older.”
This is frank talk, but nearly every scholar who has covered the ground of the ancient situation with a mind not set in advance against the pagan religions, has felt that this is essentially the truth. One such expression may be given. It is from the pen of the modern Harry Elmer Barnes (The Twilight of Christianity, p. 415):
“What might have happened to western society if the teachings of Jesus had been literally applied, we can not well know with any precision. There seems little doubt, however, that the total results of Christianity to date have been a decisive liability to the human race. There is no doubt whatever that Christianity has actually produced more suffering, misery, bloodshed, intolerance and bigotry than it has ever assuaged or suppressed.
Massey (Luniolatry, p. 2) says there is nothing insane or irrational in mythical representation when the allegorical connotation is thoroughly understood.
“The insanity lies in mistaking it for human history or Divine Revelation. Mythology is the repository of man’s most ancient science, and what concerns us chiefly is this – when truly interpreted once more, it is destined to be the death of those false theologies to which it has unwittingly given birth.”
Allegories misinterpreted as supposed history have created a veritable cult of the unreal which is blindly believed.
Commenting on the cry that he would take the living Jesus away from believers, he retorts that we can be none the poorer for losing that which never was a real possession, but only a psychological wraith which deluded us with its seeming substance. To find the true we must first let go the false. In Goethe’s words, until the half-gods go, the whole gods can not come.
Massey says pointedly that there is no greater fraud than that which grew out of the historical interpretation of early legend. This factitious “history” is forever at war, he affirms, with all that is prehistorically true. It not only misinterprets the legend, which would have its own value if rightly scanned, but misrepresents the actual history of early days.
Massey stands firmly on the blunt assertion that the doctrines and dogmas of Christian theology are derived from Egypt and its arcana, and holds that this must be admitted when better acquaintance with that mine of recondite wisdom is made. The door to its adyta is only now opening. The pre-Christian religion was founded on a knowledge of natural and verifiable facts, but the Christian cult was founded on egregious faith which swallowed all that was impossible in fact and unnatural in phenomena. Current orthodoxy is based upon a deluding idealism, derived from literalized legend and misconstrued mythology. The ancients handed over to later generations the science of the human soul, and the Christians have lost it. They substituted the phantom of faith for the knowledge of truth. They propagated a religion that could live only on blind belief, and persecuted all those who would not blindly believe. They shut out the light of nature from their sealed domicile and compelled all others to live in the same dark prison.
The ancient legends and myths do not tell us lies, Massey insists. The men who created them did not deal falsely with us or with nature. “All the falsity lies in their having been falsified through ignorantly mistaking mythology for divine revelation and allegory for historic truth.”
Lord Raglan cites Prof. W. Gronbeck (Vol. I, p. 249) in a passage that shows true discernment of the situation which has bred no end of confusion in all philosophical effort:
“In the history of the sacrificial hall the individual warrior is sunk in the god, or, which is the same thing, in the ideal personification of the clan, the hero. This form of history causes endless confusion among later historians when they try their best to arrange the mythical traditions into chronological happenings and the deeds of the clan into annals and lists of kings, and the confusion grows to absurdity when rationalistic logicians strive by the light of sound sense to extricate the kernel of history from the husks of superstition.”
This is an accurate, though partial, analysis of the general course which esoteric degeneration has taken, supporting Massey’s robust contention that the Märchen are the distorted wrack and debris of the myths. Until this basic perception of the truth of the relation between general folk lore and religious origins is gained, the efforts of modern studentship to evaluate the place and significance of this important aspect of human interest will be so much groping in the dark and continually missing the truth.
A part of the process of degeneration of esoteric mythology appertaining closely to Christianity is well delineated by G. R. S. Mead in his fine work on Gnostic Christianity, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten (p. 118). He writes that in its popular origins the Christian movement had deeply entangled itself with the popular Jewish traditions, which were innocent of all philosophical or kabalistic mysticism, that is, esotericism. But as time went on, either men of greater education joined the ranks or the leaders were forced to study more widely to meet the arguments of educated opponents, and consequently more liberal views obtained a hold among a number of Christians. In time also other great religious traditions and philosophies contributed elements to the popular stream. All such more latitudinarian views, however, were still looked upon with suspicion by the “orthodox.” And before long even the moderate esoteric proclivities of Clement and Origen were regarded as a grave danger; so that with the triumph of narrow orthodoxy and the resultant hostility to learning, Origen himself was at last anathematized. It may not be conclusive proof of the evil transformation of good myth into bad history to cite this broad change in Christian polity in those early centuries; but the fact that such a change of posture took place lends to the contention that trends in the direction of literalism and historization of scripture were strongly in current at the time.
Express confirmation of one of the stages described by Mead is at hand in the statement of an eminent modern theologian, Benjamin W. Bacon, of Yale Divinity School, in his work, Jesus and Paul (p. 23). He declares that by creditable estimate Christianity lost one half of its following to Marcion and other Gnostic “heretics” bent on tearing it away from its Jewish associations and making it over in the true likeness of a Greek Mystery cult of individual spiritual realization. This was the movement which Mead has spoken of, due to the influx of Platonic and esoteric philosophies from Alexandria and Hellenic centers. It was an effort on the part of the more knowing ones to save Christianity from the debacle toward which it was fast heading through the corruption of the sound esoteric teaching. Almost every apologist for Christianity has hailed the defeat of the Hellenic philosophy’s incursion into the early theology of the Church as the triumph of the faith and the salvation of Christianity. A fuller treatment of this chapter of Christian history is reserved for other connections in the study. It must suffice for the moment to say here that if by the repulse of Greek philosophy the Church gained the ignorant masses of the people, it not only failed to help their unintelligence, but further it lost its own power to bring spiritual light and rational nourishment to the more illumined of mankind.
It may be that there is an exoteric rendering of spiritual allegory that would purvey true meaning to the lower brackets in the intellectual scale. The supposition prevails that the truths of life can be made simple, for the simple. It has rarely worked out that way. In all historic cases where the esoteric rendition has been lost and the exoteric substituted, the popular conceptions of the profounder purport have become, not truth simplified, but truth distorted into untruth. There perhaps could and should be the milk for babes as well as the meat for stronger digestion. But, as it has worked out in actuality in the course of history, the exoteric milk, once it is dispensed among the populace, always tends to become churned into a little-nourishing cheese. Instead of instructing the simpler minds in simpler aspects of the truth, it ends by plunging them into myriad forms of outright error. In the historical sequel, it is sadly to be said, it has been proven that esotericism has carried the true meaning and exotericism only a false caricature. The exoteric doctrine has ever mistaught the popular mind. So Massey says: “An exoteric rendering has taken place of the esoteric representation, which contained the only true interpretation.” And he gives the reason: wisdom designed for the enlightenment of the inner spiritual consciousness of evolved men “was converted into history” for the secular mind and “all turned topsy-turvy by changing” the soul of all humanity into one mortal man.
“In this way the noble, full, flowing river of old Egypt’s wisdom ended in a quagmire of prophecies for the Jews and a dried-up wilderness of desert sands for the Christians. And on these shifting sands the ‘historic’ Christians reared their temple of the eternal which is giving way at last because it was not founded on the solid rock, and because no amount of blood would ever suffice to solidify the sand or form a concrete foundation or even a buttress for the crumbling building.”
The Gospel of the Christians, he expounds, began with a collection of Sayings of Jesus, “fatuously supposed to have been an historic teacher of that name.” It originated, he implies, as a set of moral apothegms, but ended as believed history. Even the Jerusalem, which was a name to denote the heavenly Paradise of spiritual bliss, or the Jerusalem above, became in ignorant minds the Jerusalem on the map! And the Exodus of the children of Israel from this mundane sphere in a passage across the Reed Sea of this mortal life to the home of celestial glory, became the screaming farce of 2,125,000 marching men, women, children and camp followers, parading about for forty years over Sinai’s and Arabia’s desert sands, trailing millions of sheep, oxen, and cattle, subsisting in an arid land with little vegetation and water! Verily “history” must be strained to fairy-tale credulity, when it has to stretch its possibilities to accommodate the free sweep of imaginative typology. Massey concludes one sentence with the clause – “in an Exodus from Egypt which can no longer be considered historical,” an Exodus that he says elsewhere “was never more than frankly allegorical.” That Massey is not merely indulging in iconoclastic swashbuckling, it is to be noted that whatever pretense the Exodus from Egypt had to being considered as history has been demolished at one blow by Moffatt’s proper translation of the Red Sea as the “Reed Sea,” a term used by the Egyptians to denote the human body, which is seven-eighths water, and must be crossed by the evolving soul to reach the Promised Land. When it is seen that the Exodus of the Old Testament is finally identical with the Resurrection in the New, it can be granted that the literal rendering of the Israelites’ journey from Egypt’s bondage to Canaan’s milk and honey becomes excellent material for light comedy. But light comedy comes close to turning into heavy tragedy when it is further realized that the soul’s dramatized bondage to the flesh in the “Egypt” of the body, has likewise been construed into the “historical captivities” of the Jews in Assyria, Babylon and Nineveh!
Incidentally it may be interjected that according to the evidence so far collected in Massey’s day (at least to 1900), there has never been found on the monuments of Egypt any mention or record of the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt, or their having played a part in Egyptian history save in one case. Petrie discovered on a stele erected by King Merenptah II a reference to “the people of Ysiraal.” “But,” says Massey, “there is nothing whatever in the inscription of King Merenptah corresponding to a corroborative of the Biblical story of the Israelites in the land of Egypt on their exodus into the land of Canaan.” The inscription found by Petrie says that the people of Ysiraal in Syria were cut up root and branch by Merenptah. Massey insists that “Israel in Syria was not Israel in Egypt.” Israel in Egypt was not an ethnical entity, but the spiritual “children of Ra” in the “lower Egypt of Amenta, which is entirely mythical.” Mythical, yes; but typical of the real home of living mortals in this “lower Egypt of Amenta” that is the dramatic ritual name for a planet called Earth, – a fact, it must be confessed which even Massey did not discern. Herodotus, affirms Kenealy, makes no mention of the Israelites – nor of Solomon.
The Book of Revelation, Massey contends, is the drama of the astrological mysteries and has been mistaken for human history; and the mythical aeonial cataclysm at the end of the cycle has been misread into the catastrophic “end of the world.” Revelation, he goes on, has been commonly assumed to constitute a historic link between the Old Testament and the New.
“It has been taken as a supplement to the Gospels, as if the history of Jesus had been continued into the wedded life after the marriage of the Bride and the Lamb, and that they dwelt together ever after in that New Jerusalem which ‘came down out of heaven’ ‘as a bride adorned for her husband,’ when the tabernacle of God which was to dwell with man took the place of the Old Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans. The present contention is that the book is and always has been inexplicable because it was based upon the symbolism of the Egyptian astronomical mythology without the Gnosis or ‘the meaning which hath wisdom’ that is absolutely necessary for an explanation of the subject-matter; and because the debris of the ancient wisdom has been turned to account as data for pre-Christian prophecy that was supposed to have had its fulfilment in Christian history.”
Besides being the parent of a mass of false religious “history,” mythicism evidently has been the father of endless ecclesiastical folly. One aspect of this folly has been the misinterpretation of Revelation as aspects of world history, when, as Massey says, “the book as it stands has no intrinsic value and very little meaning until the fragments of ancient lore have been collated, correlated and compared with the original mythos and eschatology of Egypt.”
Revelation has been found to be cognate with the Enoch manuscripts and, says Massey,
“Enoch, like John, was in the spirit. His internal sight was opened and he beheld a vision which was in the heavens. But his vision was admittedly astronomical. In it he ‘beheld the secrets of the heavens and of paradise according to its divisions’ (Ch. 41). The record of his vision is called ‘the book of the revolutions of the luminaries of heaven,’ and is said to contain ‘the entire account of the world forever, until a new work shall have been effected, which will be eternal’” (Ch. 71).
Much more material of the sort shows Enoch to have been the source of Revelation and the contents of both books to be astronomical allegory. Why scholars have been so slow to see the intimate relation between Revelation and its obvious prototype, the Enoch, is another of the riddles of ecclesiastical history which cry aloud for solution.
It was no less a Christian celebrity than Albertus Magnus of the Medieval Church who uttered the following, relative to a connection between Christianity and astrology:
“The Mysteries of the Incarnation, from the Conception on to the Ascension into heaven, are shown us on the face of the sky and are signified by the stars.”
The sole fulfillment of prophecy, according to Massey, was astronomical, in the lunar and stellar cycles, marking the stages of cosmic evolution. The basis of Massey’s conclusions is well laid if his contention is true – and he presents massive evidence for it – that all that went into the making of the Christian historical set-up was long pre-extant as something quite other than history, was in fact expressly non-historical, in the Egyptian mythology and eschatology. For when the sun at the Easter equinox entered the sign of the Fishes, about 255 B.C., the Jesus who stands as the founder of the so-called Christianity was at least ten thousand years of age, and had been traveling hither as the Ever Coming One through all this preceding time. During that vast period the young Fulfiller had been periodically mothered by the Virgin (of the zodiac!), with Seb (equated by many symbolic indication with Joseph) for his reputed foster-father, and with Anup, the Egyptian baptizer (equated likewise with John) as his herald and precursor in the wilderness. All that time he had fought the battle with Satan in the desert or on the mount during forty days and nights each year. During those ten thousand years that same incarnation of the divine ideal, in the character of Iusa, the Coming Son, had saturated the mind of Egypt with its exalting influence. Little did the men of that epoch dream that their ideal figure of man’s divinity would in time be rendered historical as a man of flesh and be hailed as the fulfiller of astronomical prophecy.
If more evidence be needed to show that the origin of the data of the Christ’s “life” was in the astronomical mythos, it is at hand in the historical datum that there was in the early Church a diversity of opinion among the Christian Fathers as to whether their Christ was born in the winter solstice or in the vernal equinox. According to Clement of Alexandria the twenty-fifth of March was held by the Christian following to have been the natal day of the Lord from heaven. Others maintained that this was the day of the incarnation. But in Rome the festival of Lady’s Day was celebrated on the twenty-fifth of March, in commemoration of the miraculous conception in the womb of the virgin, who gave birth to the divine child at Christmas, nine months afterwards. According to the Gospel of James, or the Protevangelium, the birth was in the equinox and consequently not at Christmas. It is as clear as any fact can be that this uncertainty as to the birth-date of the Christos and the argument as to whether it occurred at the solstice or the equinox imply indubitably that the birth itself was not being considered as transpiring historically, or as an event, but as an item of astronomical symbolism. The very fact that it was placed on such a cardinal point in the year as the solstice, or the equinox, is practically decisive on this point. Indubitably the birthday of the Messiah was hardly ever thought of as a date, but rather always as a point of significance. This was so true in the ancient days that almost it could be said that it was the date that was the significant thing rather than the event allegedly transpiring on it. If the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem had been regarded as purely historical, the only point at issue would have been simply: on what day of the year did it occur? Why was it held that the blessed event necessarily had to occur at the most pivotal point in the solar allegory? Of course the only true answer to all this is that all ancient religion was clothed in the solar myth. No denial of this general fact can stand. On the basis of this datum, so well known to comparative religion students, so little known to the hypnotized occupants of church pews, how can it be denied that in the minds of all people of intelligence in antiquity the fulfillment of sacred “prophecy” was to come in the cloak and guise of astronomical periodicity, and not as once-upon-a-time or once-for-all history? Not only, avers Massey, did the later scribes follow the scheme and ground-plan of Egyptian solar mythicism, but they seem actually to have gone so far as to copy the earlier scriptures.
Khebt, the birthplace of the child in “lower Egypt,” and Mitzraim, Egypt, are names of the old Sabaean birthplace in the north belonging to the celestial allegory, and were later applied geographically to Egypt the country. The Egypt of the Hebrew writings is a “country” in the astronomical myth, the “land” of mental bondage, bordered by a “Red Sea” that was never on any map save that ancient uranograph or chart of the heavens picturing the details of the soul or solar myth under astrological signatures. Khebt, Mitzraim, Egypt are names of that lower house of nature where the soul descends to have its incubation and death until the course of growth is finished. At the end of the cycle of mundane experience it hears its Father’s voice exclaiming: “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” The Exodus out of Egypt, under that or another name, “is the common property of all mythology,” says Massey.
Another most important elucidation from his pen is the following (Book of the Beginnings, I, p. 186):
“The earliest nomes of Egypt were astronomes, the divisions of the stars, whence came the name of astronomy; not merely a naming but a noming of the stars into groups, divisions and nomes. . . . Enough at present to affirm that the earliest chart was celestial and that its divisions and names were afterwards geographically adopted in many lands from one common Egyptian original.”
Lest this critically vital pronouncement on the science of ancient astrography fail to receive its due consideration in the counsels of modern studentship, it should be added for greater explicitness here that the divisions, localities, features, together with their names, found in all ancient religiography were taken directly in the first instance from the early allegorical charts of the starry heavens and scattered over the maps and insinuated into the histories of all ancient civilized lands. (Perhaps the work most clearly demonstrating this procedure and its startling results is Godfrey Higgins’ grand old tome, The Anacalypsis, to which reference should be had for fuller evidence.) He who would interpret the sage scriptures must begin with the uranograph, where consummate wisdom – not childish fancy – first wrote the allegory of man’s true history. It is a fact of stupendous significance for those who can see what the ancient books are teaching that in the primitive books of early Egypt Hermes instructs Taht in the nature of the “tabernacle of the zodiacal circle.”
Massey can at least cite the Gnostic wing of early Christianity as supporting his conclusions in this field. He writes:
“The Gnostics asserted truly that celestial persons and scenes had been transferred to earth in the gospel and that it is only within the pleroma or the zodiac that we can identify the originals of both.” (The Natural Genesis, II, 422.)
This does not need to rest on his bare assertion. Christianity’s own historian, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in the second century, corroborates it: “The Gnostics truly declared that all the supernatural transactions asserted in the Gospels ‘were counterparts (or representations) of what took place above.’” (Irenaeus, Book I, Ch. VII, p. 2.)
Further Christian testimony along the same line comes from that other early historian of the cult, Eusebius, whose statements are often important, however (as universally recognized and admitted) twisted and unreliable they generally are (Eusebius, b. ii, C. XVII). On this history Massey bases the statement that “it is admitted by Eusebius that the canonical Christian gospels and epistles were the ancient writings of the Essenes or Therapeutae reproduced in the name of Jesus.” Eusebius did not admit things he should have admitted, and he certainly was the last historian to admit anything hostile to the Christian movement. If he has admitted this point it was because he could not avoid it. It must therefore be true. And if true, there are no words at immediate command to acclaim the significance of this amazing admission. It concedes the whole truth of Massey’s great volumes, and virtually does the same for the contentions of the present work. The Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament were ancient books of the Essenes! Eusebius was merely testifying to what nearly all men of intelligence in his age knew to be the truth, that the Gospels, Epistles and Apocrypha were just portions of the mass of arcane esoteric wisdom transmitted, for centuries orally in the Mysteries, and later in written form, from remote antiquity to their age. One can envision the different, and happier, course that medieval and modern Occidental history might have taken had this admission of the Christian historian not been hidden out of sight for long centuries. The ghost of those dead centuries might justifiably come forth and demand to know why this admission was buried. And the living voice of the present generation, torn with a titanic strife that has grown out of ideologies that were warped by the lack of fundamental truth in traditional religions, might with ample justice rise to demand why the admission is not proclaimed anew at this juncture.
That the Sermon on the Mount is a derivative from ancient arcane religions is seen in the light of the fact that the Seventh Book of Hermes is entitled: “His Secret Sermon in the Mount of Regeneration and the Profession of Silence.” The Hermetic books are of great antiquity, perhaps the oldest in the world. Isaac Myer, the Kabalist scholar, so declared them.
Surely the witness of such a high Patristic as Clement of Alexandria is worthy of credence. He says that all who have treated of divine matters have always hid the principle of things and delivered the truth enigmatically by signs and symbols and allegories and metaphors, “yet this foundation of primitive fable has been converted into our basis of fact.” We have already noted Diodorus’ statement that the Egyptians regarded the Greeks as impostors because they reissued the ancient mythology as their own history.
Justin Martyr, second century Church Father, dashes the foundation stones from under many an arrant Christian claim when he tells the Romans that by “declaring the Logos, the first begotten Lord, our master Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin mother, without any human mixture, and to be crucified and dead, and to have risen again and ascended into heaven, we say no more than what you say of those whom you style the sons of Jove.”
This was written at the early date of the second century, when the new cult found it desirable to emphasize its kinship with paganism, which it did especially through the words of this same Justin Martyr. But only two centuries later the members of this new faith could afford to flout the pagan mythological foundations and brazenly proclaim the uniqueness of their doctrines and rituals.
Zeal to transform allegory into history was not daunted even by the incredible difficulties of changing mythical personages into real human figures. Thus Sut-Typhon, or Sevekh, the crocodile-headed divinity, type of the power of nature buried in the atom, the energies of life submerged in water, the symbol of matter, was converted into Satan, the personal devil. In this line hardly anything could be more revelatory of modern mental ineptitude in the face of the myths than the assertions of such a learned scholar as the Egyptologist, Budge, who after reciting the details of the “life” of the Egyptian Father-God Osiris, that he suffered death and mutilation at the hands of his enemies, that the fourteen cut portions of his body were scattered about and buried over the land of Egypt, that his sister-wife Isis sought him sorrowing and at length found him, that she fanned him with her wings and gave him air, that she raised up his reconstituted body whole and living, united anew with him and brought forth his son Horus, and that Osiris then became God and King of the underworld, – Budge asks us to take this as the literal history of a man on earth! He says that his body was probably buried in the tomb at Abydos. An endless amount of similar fabulous material we have been asked to take as factual history. Is it to be wondered at that the counsels of sanity in a world dominated by such delusions now and again plunge the nations into a vast general wreckage?
Josephus argues that he is under the necessity, when recounting one of the Mosaic “miracles,” of “relating this history as it is described in the sacred books,” i.e., allegorically, or in the style in which it was given in the writings which were considered divine because they did not relate to human events.
Drews, one of the writers who in the nineteenth century worked at the mythical interpretation of the Gospels, corroborates Massey’s identification of Joseph with the Egyptian earth-god Seb, as the foster-father of the divine child:
“Joseph . . . was originally a god, and in reality the whole of the family and home life of the Messiah Jesus took place among the gods. It was only reduced to that of a human being in lowly circumstances by the fact that Paul described the descent of the Messiah upon earth as an assumption of poverty and a relinquishment of his heavenly splendor. Hence when the myth was turned into history, Christ was transformed into a poor man in the economic sense of the word, while Joseph, the divine artificer and father of the sun, became an ordinary carpenter.”
In his famous Life of Jesus (1835, Vol. II, Sec. 48) D. F. Strauss states that in the ancient Church the most reflective among the Fathers considered that the celestial Voice of the Old Testament was not like an ordinary voice, produced by vibrations of the air and apparent to the organs of sense, but an internal impression which God produced in those with whom he designed to communicate; and it is in this way that Origen and Theodore of Mopsuete have maintained previously that the apparition at the time of the baptism of Jesus was a vision and not a natural reality. Simple people, says Origen, take lightly the great cosmic processes described in the book; but those who think more profoundly believe that in their dreams they have had evidence by their corporeal senses “when it has simply been a movement of their minds.” Had the discriminating practical wisdom evidenced by Origen here been generally exercised throughout the run of the centuries by the simple and the wise alike, the annals of religion would not have contained the record of hallucination and fanatical credulity which they hold.
Drews and Graetz alike regard Josephus’ mention of John the Baptist as “a shameless interpolation.”
Is it an inconsequential thing that J. M. Robertson (Christianity and Mythology, p. 82 ff.) can write the following?
“That Joshua is a purely mythical personage was long ago decided by the historical criticism of the school of Colenso and Kuenen; that he was originally a solar deity can be established at least as satisfactorily as the solar character of Moses, if not as that of Samson.”
He notes that in the Semitic tradition, wherein is preserved a variety of myths, which the Bible-makers, for obvious reasons, suppressed or transformed, Joshua is the son of the mythical Miriam, that is, he was probably an ancient Palestinian Sun-God. Dupuis (L’Origine de Tous les Cultes) places John the Baptist among purely mythical personages and in harmony with many other writers identifies his name with that of Oannes, the Babylonian fish-avatar of Berosus’ account, the Ea (Hea) of the more ancient Sumerians.
In his effort to refute the mythical interpretation T. J. Thorburn shows glaringly the bewilderment of scholars anent this theme when he affirms (p. 320) that in the case of the nature-cults the spring revival of the god is simply typical of the annual resurrection of life in nature. This is putting the cart before the horse surely. He goes on to prove the infinite “superiority” and greater “nobility” of Christianity over the pagan mythological idea by saying that in the Christian resurrection (as given by St. Paul in I Corinthians, 15) both Jesus himself and with him all believers rise to a new and more glorious life, in which a “spiritual body” replaces the material or “natural body.” The death and revival of the cult-god is an annual matter; Jesus and the Christian die and are raised from the dead “once for all.” How great the obtuseness which prevented the scholars from seeing that the pagan typism did not end with the sprouting grain and budding leaf of spring, but from that as type proceeded to the very thing that is claimed to have been the sole possession of Christianity! It is not easy to picture sixteen centuries of the best acumen of the western world floundering over the simple matter of recognizing that the ancient pagans set their cycle of religious expression to the time and tune of nature’s solar hymn, as at once the most luminous and moving suggestion of the cyclical advance of man’s divinity. Unless we deny to men of the stature of Plato any sagacity beyond childishness, it is naturally assumable that they did not, as Thorburn thinks, lose the spiritual reality in the natural typism. The solar myth was not to celebrate the sprouting of the corn; the sprouting of the grain was called upon to help the mind frame a more realistic conception of the resurrection of the divine seed that had been, like the grain, buried in the earth of flesh and sense. The sages used nature to vivify spiritual processes. As most poets have done, they worshipped spirit through its reflection in nature. They saw that an approach to a lively apprehension of the deeper aspects of truth was vastly facilitated and enhanced by the contemplation of their counterpart in the physical world. How false to charge that the pagan world had only the physical fact and could not go beyond it! The evidence is mountainous in bulk that pagan eyes pierced through the phenomena of nature to the truth of higher levels. Pagan spiritual discernment was all the keener for its close beholding of the natural world. The assumption that in his primitive infantilism the pagan stopped at nature, while the Christian went on to God, is a rank heresy. It is defied by all the fact of antiquity. Rebuttal of this gratuitous depreciation of past civilization is firmly based upon the early production of scriptures of the most exalted wisdom. The authors of these high revelations knew the realm of sublimer truth that lay beyond nature, and they also knew the mighty fact that nature was the outer visible analogue of this other world of truth. Then as now, esoteric genius grasped the distinction between outer and inner, but ancient sapiency recognized better than modern the essential kinship of the two.
An interesting sidelight is cast on our discussion by G. R. S. Mead, already quoted, who in his Fragments of a Faith Forgotten (Gnosticism), says:
“With much sincerity our Gnostics found these numbers and processes in the prologue to Genesis and elsewhere in the Old Covenant Library; . . . But when we find that they treated the Gospel-legends also not as history but as allegory, and not only as allegory but as symbolical of the drama of initiation, the matter becomes of deep interest” to the student of religion.
In his The Story of Chaldea Zenaïde A. Ragozin says that the tenth chapter of Genesis is the oldest and most important document in existence concerning the origins of races and nations, but in order properly to understand it and appreciate its value and bearing, “it must not be forgotten that each name in the list is that of a race, a people or a tribe, not that of a man.”
To substantiate his statement on this point Ragozin cites the authority of “many scientists and churchmen” and quotes no less a Church Father than St. Augustine, who pointedly says that the names in the tenth chapter of Genesis represent “nations not men.” (De Civitate Dei, XVII, 3.) So again we find racial entities or groups made to masquerade exoterically as “men.”
Much data from various sources go to prove that the New Testament – as now known – was compiled from esoteric texts, which were themselves covered by a thick film of allegory and even veiled behind misleading “blinds,” the “dark sayings” of fiction and parable. It is unthinkable, impossible that any merely human brain could have concocted the alleged “life” of the Jewish Jesus, culminating in the awful tragedy of Calvary. How, then, came this “life” to be written? Esoteric comprehension answers that it came from the ignorant literalization of the story of the Christ-Aeon of the Gnostic and Essene books, and from the writings of the ancient Tanaim, who connected the kabalistic Jesus or Joshua with the Biblical personifications. The Gnostic records contained the epitome of the chief scenes enacted during the Mysteries of Initiation, from most remote times; although even that was given out invariably under the garb of semi-allegory whenever put on paper. The ancient Tanaim, sage authors of the Kabalah (in its oral tradition) who handed on their wisdom to the later Talmudists, possessed the secrets of the Mystery language; and it is in this language, as has been said earlier, that the Gospels were written. It is possible for us to see, then, what it was that the ignorant literalizers of such material turned into “history.”
A fair parallel of the turning of the Christos into “Christ” is seen in the cycle of stories centering about the mythical hero Siegfried. The myths developed as popular tradition, their mythological significance was forgotten and in course of time historical personages were identified with the characters. (See The Perfect Way, Kingsford and Maitland.)
Massey emphasizes the significant fact that there is found no “fall of man” in mythology. The devastating conception, as popularly misunderstood, came in only through the misreading of religious allegory and dramatization. Theologians from the first were bitterly opposed to its antithesis, the ascent of man through evolution. The scientific view of man’s ascent clashed with their lugubrious obsession. They clung to the heavy weapon of the “fall” in the sense of sheer “sin” and not understood as the natural, normal, necessary and wholly salutary descent of soul into matter and body, because it gave them a useful psychological cudgel over the laity. From the distorted application of what should have been clear in the myth was hatched that brood of morbid doctrines such as the fall of man into carnal sin, man’s whimsical thwarting of God’s plan, the depravity of both man and matter, the filthy nature of the flesh, the glorification of asceticism and bodily mortification, original sin, the corruption of natural man, the evil of the world, and others whose only basis of existence at all was the stupid perversion of ancient typology and the literalization of Genesis. And Massey flings the irony of his pen at the fact that “such literalization of mythology is continued to be taught as God’s truth to the men and women of the future in their ignorant and confiding childhood.” Higgins (Anacalypsis, 514) likewise expostulates against the asinine failure to distinguish between “the real and the fabulous.” “It is allowed that Cristna is the sun, and yet they talk of him as a man.” He directly charges that “It is evidently almost the only employment of the idle priests to convert their historical account into a riddle and again to give their doctrines and riddles the appearance of history.” The temptation to give in full his indignant accusation on this score in his own words is difficult to resist:
“And the reason why all our learned men have totally failed in their endeavors to discover the meaning of the ancient mythologies is to be found in their obstinate perseverance in attempting to construe all the mythoses, meant for enigma, to the very letter. I have no doubt that anciently every kind of ingenuity which can be imagined was exerted from time to time to invent and compose new riddles, till all history became in fact a great enigma. In modern times as much ingenuity has been exercised to conceal the enigma and by explanation to show that it was meant for reality. . . . Before the time of Herodotus every ancient history is a mythical performance, in short, a gospel – a work written to enforce virtue and morality and to conceal the mythos – and every temple had one. The Iliad and Odyssey, the plays of Aeschylus, the Cyropaedia, the Aeneid, the early history of Rome, the Sagas of Scandinavia, the Sophis of Abraham, the secret Book of the Athenians, the Delphic verses of Olen, the 20,000 verses repeated by heart to the Druids, the Vedah or Bedahs.”
What has not been understood in the declaration that Cristna is the sun, is that he is not venerated as the sun in the heavens, but as the sun or divine spark in man. It can at last be said positively that the ancients did not worship the sun in itself, but as the analogical cosmic counterpart in the solar system of the central divine fire in the human heart.
In a printed lecture entitled Gnostic and Historic Christianity, Massey makes the positive statement that the early Christians did convert esoteric material into history:
“The claim of Christianity to possess divine authority rests on the ignorant belief that the mystical Christ could and did become a Person, whereas the Gnosis proves the corporeal Christ to be only a counterfeit presentment of the trans-corporeal man; consequently a historical portraiture is and ever must be a fatal mode of falsifying and discrediting the Spiritual Reality.”
The last lines of this excerpt carry the burden and gist of the effort here made to assert the psychological and spiritual disservice of the “historical Christ.” Massey goes on to enlarge upon the theme and says that Paul chides the “foolish Galatians” for beginning by believing in the spiritual Christos and ending by believing in the Jesus of the flesh; and Massey declares that Paul was himself a Gnostic, the founder of a new sect of Gnosis which recognized only a “Christ-spirit” for the divine Avatar. One must go to the Gnostic writings to discover the pristine teachings of the Jesus in the Mysteries. The literal falsifiers dragged the spiritual divinity of man into matter and the dust. And to cover their fatal work they burned – among other books – the twenty-four volumes of the Gnostic Basilides, by order of the Church. Clement described Basilides as “the philosopher devoted to the contemplation of divine things.” The books burned were his works on the Interpretations of the Gospels, and they would be of priceless value to the world today.
Indications that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament must be something far other than historical record are found in the startling pronouncement made by the Alexandrian Clement (Stromateis, XVII):
“The Scriptures having perished in the captivity of Nabuchodonozar, Esdras the Levite, priest in the times of Artaxerxes, King of the Persians, having become inspired in the exercise of prophecy, restored again the whole of the ancient Scriptures.”
As this very claim has been made with Ezra as the inspired prophet instead of Esdras, there is at least the suggested possibility that Ezra and Esdras are two variants of the same name, which could even be the “Isra-” of “Israel” with the divine “el” dropped. In the religious myth it was of course Israel that was to restore the lost substance of the divine revelation! However that may be, if the whole body of scripture that covered the antiquity of the human family and all the particulars of the “race” “chosen” by God to exemplify his dealings with all humanity was lost, and what purports to be that scripture is in fact only the inner vision of a man divinely inspired, the most that can be said for it is that it is a very precarious foundation on which to base the moral and spiritual guidance of the human race.
What meager chance the scriptures ever had of being taken for history must be seen to be reduced to a vanishing minimum when we consider the words of the Egyptian God, Tem or Atum.
“I am Tem,” he says, “the dweller in his Disk, or Re in his rising in the eastern horizon of the sky. I am Yesterday; I know Today. I am the Bennu which is in Anu (Heliopolis) and I keep the register of the things which are created and of those which are not yet in existence.”
The recording of events that have not yet occurred is a proposal to make the modern scholar run from ghosts. It ought to be a consideration of sufficient force to open the obdurate minds of the deniers of the mythical structure of ancient scriptures to note that in those scriptures much of “history” recorded is still in the womb of time and yet unborn. This portion at any rate is not the record of that which has happened. The answer to this will of course be that it is the record of that which will, objectively happen. As to that, it may be interjected in passing, there is very substantial doubt. One of the largest blind-spots before the eyes of orthodox interpreters of scripture has ever been their fatuous belief in the literalness of so-called Bible prophecy. There is not room for a dissertation upon it here, but only enough space to say bluntly that, in the usual sense of forecast of future objective events, there is not and never was any historical prophecy in the Old Testament or the New. There is some delineation by the seers and sages of the general phases and aspects of later evolution of humanity in the cycle on earth; there is no specific foretelling of coming events on the plane of world history. Evolutionary typism and allegorical scenarios of the shape of things to come can without much difficulty often be made to look like historical description. Events do often match the frame of dramatism in which they are set. Deluded by these appearances, thousands of religious votaries have spilled rivers of printers’ ink in the tracing of the configuration of events in their time back to Bible “prophecy.” Philological scholarship should have corrected this dupery long ago by announcing the correct meaning of the words “prophecy” and “prophet.” From the Greek pro-, “forth” or “out,” and phemi, “to speak,” the prophet is simply a preacher, one who speaks out the truth, proclaims, gives forth. There is nothing in the word which has any reference to the forecasting of the future. A prophet is simply a preacher, utterer of truth. To this can be added the startling statement that the passages in the Bible which have always been taken for objective prophecies are, like most other material in the scriptures, allegorical visions or poetical depictions of the cyclical processes. This fact should add impressiveness to the strong position here taken that an unbelievable quantity of literal rubbish has to be cleared out of the way before a sane approach to scriptural interpretation can even begin to be made.
There is much support for the fact that the supposed simple origin of the name “Christians,” its adoption by a sect that sprang up in the wake of the life of the Galilean preacher called the Christ, is by no means the truth of the matter at all. A passage from Mead’s work, Did Jesus Live 100 Years B.C.? (p. 325) tells us a far different story, and indicates we are dealing with something other than history in these things:
“The followers of Jesus had apparently hitherto been ‘ashamed’ of being called ‘Christiani.’ . . . It is highly possible that the name Christiani was first used by the Pagans to signify Messianists of all kinds, and was only finally adopted by the followers of Jesus in their public dealings with the Pagans, presumably first in apologetic literature, where we find it is of frequent occurrence from about the second quarter of the second century.”
There is scarcely a single common or general belief about the chief items of the Christian faith that may be called orthodox which, on deeper scholastic inquiry, does not turn out to be a popular falsification of something utterly different in its pristine form.
Prof. J. H. Rose is driven to admit (Folk-Lore, Vol. XLVI, 22) that “we have not yet an agreed and perfected technique” for distinguishing history from sagas. No wonder this is so, comments Lord Raglan (The Hero, 61), since there is but one way to mark the difference, and that is by checking alleged history with facts known from other sources. When this is done the sagas break down utterly – as history.
Another scholar, Prof. Nilsson, complains of that utter disregard for history and geography which is peculiar to epic poetry. But, says Raglan, history was not their concern, and geography was an inconsequential side issue. And Prof. Hooke (Myth and Ritual, 6) says that both the Minotaur and Perseus myths pictorialize human sacrifice and are a product of myth and ritual united. Raglan himself states that the true study of Homer has hardly yet begun and will not get us anywhere until students see that the poems have no historical foundation, but are to be taken as documents picturing the evolution of religious ideas, in which sense they become highly important. Again he says that all the difficulties of interpretation disappear when it is realized that these great works are ritual narratives. He asserts that all the main incidents in the Trojan cycle take place in the first and tenth years of the siege and that in the mythological cycles, especially those of Troy and Thebes, all the main events are represented as taking place at intervals of about ten years. There are many resemblances: both cities were built where a cow lay down; both were unsuccessfully attacked, but ten years later stormed and razed to the ground; Hector is a leading hero of both cities. Nearly every state desired to be founded by refugees from Troy or Thebes. There was a Troy in Egypt built by Semiramis (Asiatic Researches, Vol. III, 454), according to Higgins. Trojan refugees are found in Epirus, Threspotia, Cyprus, Crete, Venice, Rome, Daunia, Calabria, Sicily, Lisbon, Asturia, Pamphylia, Arabia, Macedonia, Holland, Auvergne, Paris, Sardinia, Alicia, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Libya. The Trojan story was a myth, a sacred history, and became a vast conglomeration of fable and truth.
The origin of the ten-year period so frequently occurring in all these recitals is no doubt the fabulous legend that the Titans fought with the gods for ten years. The Titans represent of course the elementary forces of nature, and the gods stand for the intellectual and spiritual powers. Every traditional myth sought to depict the aspects of this universal conflict.
In Quest magazine of April 1912 a Dr. Anderson writes:
“The critic . . . will proceed to prove that the stories of the trial, arrest and crucifixion are quite understandable as scenes in a mystery play, but are quite inexplicable as facts of history. The trial is represented as lasting through one night when, as Renan points out, an Eastern city is wrapped in silence and darkness, quite natural as scenes in a mystery-play, but not as actual history.”
It represents at least some, and possibly great, difficulty to reconcile the fact that Jesus was a Jew with the other fact that the Gospels dealing with him were written in Greek.
“A professional Egyptologist (Dictionary of the Bible, Smith, V. 3, p. 1018) has written respecting the passage of the Red Sea: ‘It would be impious to attempt an explanation of what is manifestly miraculous.’ To such a depth of degradation can Bibliolatry reduce the human mind! Such is the spirit in which the subject has been crawled over.” (Massey: Book of the Beginnings, II, 176).
The reference to the Red Sea brings up one of the most direct and astounding proofs that Old Testament “history” is not history, and can by no possibility be held as such. This has been briefly hinted at, but needs further emphasis. If the partisans of the historical view of archaic literature insist that the Exodus narrative is history, their insistence places them in the most ridiculous of predicaments and in short makes simpletons of them. At the end of the debate they are left holding the bag, the gold brick vanished. For the Red Sea, whether that of the map or that of the myth, is no longer in the Bible! It is clean gone out of the story. The learned scholar, James Moffatt, of Glasgow University, has dropped it out of the correct translation, replacing it with the “Reed Sea,” drawn direct from Egypt’s mythicism! Assumably his reasons for this rendering, in view of the blasting consequences flowing from it, must have been quite decisive and certain. So if there was no Red Sea in the story, the Israelites could not have crossed it. With this change the whole story falls. Practically, with the deletion from the Old Testament of the historicity of the descent into Egypt and the Exodus from it, the entire structure of “history” in the Bible is shot to pieces. At last the proper mythical translation of one word tears the mask of stupid literalism off the face of ancient esoteric wisdom, and leaves a long deluded and hypnotized world rudely shaken out of intellectual stupor, and with eyes torn suddenly open from its dream, gaping in stunned bewilderment at the wreckage of its illusion. Of all “rude awakenings” this is perhaps the most shocking, but also the most salutary.
Likewise the physical “tabernacle” of the Old Testament, in and at the door of which the Eternal was wont to meet and confabulate with Moses, has vanished along with the Red Sea, and we find the mythical “trysting-tent” in its stead. Male soul and female body in the divine allegory meet and hold their tryst here in the flesh on earth. From it they go on to the marriage, out of which the Christos in man is born.
A word must be interposed here with regard to the bearing of the Jewish rejection of the Messianic Jesus on the debate. Since the wretched persecution of a whole race has gushed from the rejection, there is no lack of warrant for giving the matter full treatment. The work here undertaken is in the large the treatment; but a few conclusions of Massey on the subject can be advanced here with benefit. In his great work, Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World (p. 519) he speaks with great candor. Referring to the Jews who in their popular trends came close to literalizing the scriptural allegories, he says:
“They pursued their messianic phantom to the verge of the quagmire, but drew back in time to escape. They left it for the Christians to take the final fatal plunge into the bog in which they have wallowed, always sinking, ever since; and if the Jews did but know it, the writings called Jewish have wrought an appalling avengement upon their ignorant persecutors, who are still proving themselves to be Christians . . . by ignominiously mutilating and piteously massacring the Jews.”
Massey does not mean that the avengement of the Jewish scriptures on Christianity consists of the massacres, of course; he means that the adoption by Christianity of the body of Hebrew scriptures as their Old Testament has been the means of saddling on the back of Christianity the fatal incubus of a vast corpus of myth adopted because it was supposed to be history, and is now seen to be not that at all, but pagan mythology plucked from Egypt! There is no avengement equal to that of the irony of events. The logic of events is inexorable and merciless. Massey speaks in words momentous for the world today and for the time to come, when he writes:
“If the Jews had only held on to the sonship of Iu, the su or sif (the suffix su, sif, sef is Egyptian for son, heir, prince, and the name Jesus came from the combination of the divine Iu(Ju), the Christ, with su or sif, giving us the Egyptian Iusu, or Iusif, Jesus or Joseph) they might have spoiled the market for the spurious wares of the ‘historic’ Savior, and saved the world from wars innumerable, and from countless broken hearts and immeasurable mental misery. But they let go the sonship of a insert Hebrew (IE or JE) with the growth of their monolatry. They could not substitute the ‘historic’ sonship; they had lost touch with Egypt, and the wisdom that might have set them right was no longer available against the Christian misconstruction. They failed to fight the battle of the Gnostics and retired from the conflict dour and dumb; strong and firm enough to suffer the blind and brutal Juden-Hetze (baiting of Jews) of all these centuries, but powerless to bring forward their natural allies, the Egyptian reserves, and helpless to conclude a treaty or enforce a truce.”
This was the catastrophe entailed for both Judaism and Christianity, as well as for the whole world, in the loss of Egypt’s august contribution.
In the finale Massey pays this well-considered tribute to the refusal of Jewry to endorse the historization of mythology:
“And here the present writer would remark that, in his view, the Jewish rejection of Christianity constitutes one of the sanest and the bravest intellectual triumphs of all time. It is worth all that the race has suffered from the persecution of the Christian world.”
If there is the providential rulership of the universe that misses not even the fall of a sparrow, it is to be assumed that adjustment of a wrong so flagrant and enormous as the slaughter over sixteen hundred years of a people who merely refused to go along with a doltish substitution of history for allegory, will in due time be made.
Another item of most vivid significance is brought out by Massey (B. O. B. II, 188). He discloses the fact that at a date in the reign of Tahtmes III, some two and a half centuries earlier than the “historical Exodus” – on the scholastic insistence that there was such an event – there were inscribed on a pylon at Thebes in a list of 1200 names of places conquered or garrisoned by the Egyptians, the original names of the towns and districts of Canaan to the number of 115, which, says Massey, is “nothing less than the synoptical table of the Promised Land made 250 years before the Exodus.” This comes close to writing the geography and history of a nation before that history has taken place on the actual scene. As we shall find that the “life” of Jesus was in effect written before he “lived,” so here we see the geography of a nation charted before the places became the locale of the events which gave their names fame in history. All this points to the whole catalogue of such charts and lists and maps as being allegorical depictions and systematic typographs covering a structure of meaning of the most esoteric and cryptic sort. The Canaanitish names mentioned in the list are Astaroth-Karnaim, Avilah, Berytus, Bashan, Beth-Sappuah or Tebekim, Ephron (Hebron), Hishbon, Hamath, Judah, Kadesh, Kison, Megiddo, Sameshu (Damascus) and others.
Among hundreds of passages to be culled out of early Patristic writing which throw doubt on the veracity of the historical side of Christianity we have a strange statement in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho: “In the dialogue we find Trypho saying, ‘Ye follow an empty rumor and make a Christ for yourselves. . . . If he was born and lived somewhere, he is entirely unknown.’” A more straightforward report on the true situation in the second century, marked by the claims and denials of historians, is hardly to be had. It sounds as if the early Church Father, taking part in the original debate as to the historicity, argues on the side taken by the present work. It was as if he said: “The Christ of the Gospels is the mythical and ritualistic figure; if a historical Christ did live, you have no record of his existence.” The entire present debate might be summarized in the same words. His sentences might well be made the concluding ones of our last page. He, too, might have said: “Ye have reduced the cosmic majesty of the Logos to the mean stature of a Galilean peasant.”
Clement of Alexandria (Stromata VII, 7, 106) records the astounding fact that the doctrine of the Evangel was delivered to Basilides, the consecrated student of sacred things, by the Apostle Matthew and Glaucus, a disciple of Peter! And there is evidence that the Gospel then delivered must have differed widely from the present New Testament. Tertullian’s distorted accounts of this deposit left to posterity are no faithful guide to a true evaluation of it. Yet even the little this partisan fanatic gives shows the chief Gnostic doctrines to be identical with the broader and deeper esoteric wisdom of the East.
And another proof of the claim that the Gospel of Matthew in the usual Greek texts is not the original Gospel written in Hebrew is found with no less an authority than St. Jerome (Hieronymus) for support. The suspicion of a conscious and gradual euhemerization of the Christ principle from the beginning grows into decided conviction as one reads a certain confession contained in Book II of the Comment of Matthew by Hieronymus. For we find in it the proof of a deliberate substitution of the whole Gospel, the one now in the canon having been evidently rewritten by the zealous Jerome. This is well authenticated as genuine history. How far the rewriting and editorial tampering with the primitive gnostic fragments which have now become the New Testament went, may be inferred from reading Supernatural Religion, which ran through some twenty-three editions. The authorities and documentary support cited by its author are overwhelming in quantity and impressiveness. Jerome says that he was sent toward the close of the fourth century by “their Felicities,” the Bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, to Caesarea with the mission to compare the Greek text (the only one they ever had) with the Hebrew original version preserved by the Nazarenes in their library and to translate it. He translated it, but under protest; for, as he says, the Evangel “exhibited matter not for edification, but for destruction.” The destruction of what? – must be asked. Doubtless of the doctrine that Jesus the Nazarene and the Christos are one. Hence, for the “destruction” of the newly planned religion which separated the two. In this same letter the Saint – the same that advised his converts to kill their fathers and trample on the bosoms of their mothers if their parents stood between their sons and Christ – admits that Matthew did not wish his Gospel to be openly written, hence that the manuscript was a secret one. Yet while admitting also that this Gospel was “written in Hebrew characters and by the hand of himself (Matthew), in another place he contradicts this and assures posterity that as it was tampered with and rewritten by a disciple of Manichaeus named Seleucus . . . the ears of the Church properly refused to listen to it.” (Hieronymus: Commentary to Matthew, Bk. II, Chap. XII, 13).
Gibbon, in a footnote on p. 432 of his great history, gives us material that ought to be granted consideration. He says:
“The modern critics are not disposed to believe what the Fathers almost unanimously assert, that St. Matthew composed a Hebrew Gospel, of which only the Greek translation is extant. It seems, however, dangerous to reject their testimony.”
A volume of comment might be made on data of this sort, which could be enlarged to great proportions. There is at any rate enough of it in the Patristic and early sectarian and polemic literature of the Christian movement to provide a sufficient deterrent to the open dissemination of this body of Church history among the general laity. So extensive a policy of concealment, amounting practically to a conspiracy of silence, argues a case difficult to defend.
It may not be inappropriate to conclude this chapter with a reflection forced upon the mind of Gerald Massey toward the later years of a life given to a searching study of the origins of Christianity. It is a tribute of no mean impressiveness to the power of religious influences even when the true inner import of the ritual expressing them is unknown. Dilating upon the Egyptian Mystery ritual, he says:
“In this divine drama the natural realities are represented with no perniciously destructive attempt to conceal the characters under a mask of history. Majestically moving in their own might, of pathetic appeal to human sympathies, they are simply represented for what they may be worth when rightly apprehended. But so tremendous was this tragedy in the Osirian Mysteries, so heart-melting the legend of divinest pity that lived on with its rootage in Amenta and its flowerage in the human mind, that an historic travesty has kept the stage and held the tearful gaze of generation after generation for nineteen hundred years.”
If the mere husk of religious truth has exerted so amazing an influence upon mortals, what might have been the transcendent exaltation of the mind and purgation of the life of the race if the golden corn itself had been preserved! But the corn was lost and the husk alone remained when the myths of truth were converted into the falsities of “history.”
Doubtless, despite the evidence assembled, the blunt charge that so apparently impossible a transaction as the conversion of myth into history has really occurred will still remain incredible and unacceptable. The great cry will be raised as to how so amazing and stupendous a blunder could have occurred. With the universal presumption of so much honesty and integrity, and likewise high intelligence in a people divinely inspired as the devout early Christians are believed to have been, it becomes difficult for the general mind to comprehend how such flagrant error could have gained the day and consummated so gross a miscarriage. To what extent was the crime knowingly perpetrated? Was it motivated by sincerity working in ignorance, or by intelligence working in insincerity?
The answer to these queries is by no means simple or easy. It is involved in no end of difficulty arising mainly from the destruction of evidence and the biases and prejudices of the reviewers of what evidence is available. But if all the facts in the situation were truly known, it is pretty certain that the full solution would comprise a vast jumble and admixture of all the varying degrees of intelligence and ignorance, sincerity and insincerity, in one grand plot. Nearly all human and historical transactions are the resultant of a mixed group of forces actuated by every degree of intelligence and sincerity, or the want of them. It may perhaps be questioned whether any act or decision of people anywhere at any time is of downright deliberate insincerity. Some allegedly justifiable “reason” lurks behind or under every deed. People do evil things of deliberate intent, but they hardly do them with insincerity. Justification is found somewhere in the depth of feeling or thought. Generally it will be found that where apparent insincerity is operative, it is unintelligence that warps the action into evil direction. Granting inherent sincerity in human nature, its miscarriage into foul expression must be due to want of keen intelligence. This is indeed the conclusion arrived at in the finale by Plato and Socrates in their dialectical inquiry into the nature of the good. The basic and ultimate evil is nothing but – in one or other of its manifold forms – ignorance. So declared Buddha, Orpheus, Hermes, Solomon and other sage teachers of early man. It is assumed legitimate to accuse a person if he does badly when he should know better. The acme of all evil charge is that a person does wrong knowingly. If in the conversion of myth into history there was this commission of knavery in spite of better knowledge, the verdict must be rendered accordingly. Again, if the wreckage of the myth resulted from ignorance and misguided motives, the judgment must be more lenient, although there is no sentiment in nature and she punishes ignorance as well as knavery.
Our glance at the possibility of insincerity in the motive behind the alteration is actuated by no mere truculent attitude, but is warranted by a more substantial reason. Any history of early Christianity must face and deal with the perpetration of an extensive series of what are known among the historians as “pious frauds” by the Fathers and partisan leaders in the first centuries and the Church’s connivance at them then and later. The charge is brought by many chroniclers of the period and confessed by most Christian apologists. The assembling of data substantiating it, while an invidious task, must be made in sufficient force to justify the introduction of it as a count in the case against the historicity of the Son of God. If the charge of fraudulent literary practice in the handling of religious data in the early day can be upheld, it strengthens by so much the likelihood that the transfer of meaning from the impersonal Christos to the man Jesus was made. The proof of fraud and deception greatly heightens the probability that the change occurred. If analysis of the whole situation extant at the time reveals that the transaction was of such a nature that knavery would be suspected of being a highly probable element in it, the discovery of such chicanery in the immediate wake of the suspicion certainly will tend to increase the validity of the non-historical claim. If, in point of fact, it would seem necessary to posit fraud as accessory to the great transformation in the character of the Christos, the disclosure of fraud in the actual situation amounts to strong prima facie evidence that the case was as suspected. It is surely to be agreed that the proven presence and practice of religious fraud in the first centuries of Christian history must be weighed realistically in relation to every development of the ecclesiastical polity then and after. A superficial view would not fail to conclude that there must be a close and perhaps immediate link between such a transaction as the personalizing of the Messiah and the prevalent impostures in the field of religion. If fraud is known to have been a strong feature of the picture, it becomes necessary to determine what part it played in the historization of the Jesus character. To many it is certain that the revelation of such an unknown and unsuspected element in the case will serve as an all-sufficient clue to the solution of the whole complication. It will be seized upon readily as the missing key to the entire mystery. While this may be according too much importance to the item, the presence of fraud is nearly always presumptive testimony to a sinister motive or maneuver.
To begin with, an initial suspicion and distrust is awakened in the mind of the student when he is confronted from the start with the presence and volume of documents, books, gospels and apocrypha bearing the prefix “Pseudo-” to their title. There is the “Pseudo-Mark,” the “Pseudo-Acts,” the “Pseudo-Dionysus” and others in bewildering profusion. Nothing less than plagiarism and forgery are at once suggested by this phenomenon. Then the field of early Christianity is cluttered up with works controverting alleged “heresies” on all sides. Indeed most of the works that stand as the chief contemporary histories of the first centuries of Christianity bear the title “Against Heresy.” This is notably the case with the books of Eusebius, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Epiphanius, a quintet of historians on whom the Church has relied mainly to buttress its egregious claims to unique authority and its defamations of the “pagan” religions. But it is time to gather the amazing data on this score.
It may be generous to present the most favorable aspect of the evidence first. A passage of this sort is found in Mead’s Fragments of a Faith Forgotten (88):
“It must not be supposed, however, that the re-writers and editors of the old traditions were forgers and falsifiers in any ordinary sense of the word. Antiquity in general had no conception of literary morality in its modern meaning, and all writing of a religious character was the outcome of an inner impulse. . . . It should also be remembered that the mythologizing of history and the historizing of mythology were not peculiar to the Jews, but common to the times; what was peculiar to them was their fanatical belief in divine favoritism and their egregious claims to the monopoly of God’s providence.”
Mead’s statement that antiquity did not possess our modern standards of literary morality adds strength to the general claim that the purpose of ancient writing was never strictly to record the facts of history, but rather to depict mystical realities and intellectual concepts. One is obviously privileged to use one’s fancy when the truth of objective occurrence is not the theme, and the experience of the inner life is. It may alleviate to a degree the weight of obloquy that may seem to fall upon the perpetrators of so much literary crime to remember Mead’s explanation of its religious background.
In The Hero Lord Raglan briefly states that pious frauds of this (and every other conceivable) type were a commonplace of medieval ecclesiasticism. And the medieval was but a prolongation of ancient practice.
In The Anacalypsis (522) Higgins, alleging that it was not uncommon for the priests to charge their opponents with absurd opinions they never held for the purpose of disgracing them, remarks that “this has always been considered by priests a mere allowable ruse in religious controversy. It is yet had recourse to every day.”
In Anthon’s Classical Dictionary (Fourth Ed. 929, Art. Oraculum) the text stands as follows:
“The only evil spirit which had an agency in the oracular responses of antiquity was that spirit of crafty imposture which finds so congenial a home among an artful and cunning priesthood.”
From a source within the fold of orthodoxy itself comes a confession that is singularly and creditably frank. If all Christian authors and apologists had been as candid as von Mosheim, the faith of the Church would have presented a better defense than unfortunately can now be made. Speaking of the Gospel of Hermas in his celebrated history of the early Church (p. 91), he writes:
“At the time when he wrote it was an established maxim with many of the Christians that it was pardonable in an advocate for religion to avail himself of fraud and deception, if it were likely that they might conduce toward the attainment of any considerable good. Of the list of silly books and stories to which this erroneous notion gave rise, from the second to the fifteenth century, no one who is acquainted with Christian history can be ignorant.”
He says again (288) that “it is with the greatest grief that we find ourselves compelled to acknowledge” that some of the weaker brethren, in their zeal to assist God with all their might, resorted to such dishonest artifices as could not admit of any just excuse and were utterly unworthy of that sacred cause which they were unquestionably designed to support. One of the illegitimate devices resorted to, he charges, was the measure of composing eight books of Sibylline verses, designed to play upon the general ancient reverence and credulity of the populace respecting the pagan oracles and their pronouncements, in order to win approval of the Christian claims. Some Christian, or perhaps an association of Christians, in the reign of Antoninus Pius, “composed” the books with a view to persuade the ignorant and unsuspecting that even so far back as the time of Noah a Sibyl had foretold the coming of Christ and the rise and progress of his Church. The trick succeeded, says Mosheim, with not a few, nay even some of the principal Christian teachers themselves were imposed upon by it. But it eventually brought great scandal on the Christian cause; since the fraud was “too palpable to escape the searching penetration of those who gloried in displaying their hostility to the Christian name.”
Another group of zealots, he goes on, trafficking with the great name and authority of the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, concocted a work bearing the title of Poemander, and other books, replete with Christian principles and maxims, and sent them forth into the world. “Many other deceptions of this sort, to which custom has very improperly given the denomination of pious frauds, are known to have been practiced in this and the succeeding centuries.” The authors, he claims, were in all probability actuated by no ill intention, “but this is all that can be said in their favor, for their conduct in this respect was certainly most ill-advised and unwarrantable.” He shifts the major blame for “these forgeries on the public” to the Gnostics, but admits that he yet can not take upon himself “to acquit even the most strictly orthodox from all participation in this species of criminality: for it appears from evidence superior to all exception that a pernicious maxim, which was current in the schools not only of the Egyptians, the Platonists and the Pythagoreans, but also of the Jews, was very early recognized by the Christians and soon found amongst them numerous patrons, namely, that those who made it their business to deceive with a view of promoting the cause of truth, were deserving rather of commendation than of censure.”
Is it possible that we are here standing at the very cradle of what the world has come to call “Jesuitry”? If so it can be seen that this bad excuse for allegedly good action had its remote birth in the methods of ancient sacred writing depicted in our second chapter, used originally with esoteric integrity of purpose, but twisted into fraudulent usage by later piety working with less intelligence and probity. It is another cardinal instance and proof of what is claimed, that all corruption of religion and theology came in through the decay and loss of the principles of genuine esoteric schematism. The case grows more solid with every additional observation that the major cause of all religious decadence and perversion was this early-century transmogrification of allegory into history. This will prove to be the mysterious key to the confusion and chaos in the entire religious domain. Mosheim’s honesty in refusing to wash away the knavery here recorded is commendable and will in the end serve the interests of true Christianity.
In Vol. II (p. 5) of his work he again admits he can not deny that pious fraud found a place in the propagation of Christianity in the third century. And again he says it is certain that in the earliest ages of the new faith it was “not uncommon for men to fill up the chasms of genuine history with fictitious conceits, the mere suggestion of their own imagination.” And candor could go no further than it does in another passage (Vol. I, 106), in which he admits that when once certain of the Christian writers had been unfortunately tempted to have recourse to fiction, “it was not long before the weakness of some and the arrogant presumption of others carried forgery and imposition to an extent of which it would be difficult to convey to the reader any adequate idea.”
The eminent historian Lecky, in his History of Rationalism (I, 164) somewhat ironically records his conclusion:
“Making every allowance for the errors of the most extreme infallibility, the history of Catholicism would on this hypothesis represent an amount of imposture probably unequalled in the annals of the human race.”
Bacon, of Yale Divinity School, tells us that an extraordinary license was accorded in John’s day to the preacher to employ allegory, myth, symbolism, legend, parable, whatever he would, in the interest of religious edification. He says we know there were others in John’s time who used the same liberty of expression.
In a work entitled Discourse of Free Thinking (p. 96) the author, Collins, remarks that “these frauds are very common in all books which are published by priests or priestly men. . . . For it is certain that they may plead the authority of the Fathers for forgery, corruption and mangling of authors with more reason than for any other of their articles of faith.”
The Encyclopedia Britannica, dealing with the apocryphal books, says that “since these books were forgeries,” the epithet (apocryphal) in common parlance today denotes any story or document which is false or spurious, using the word in the disparaging sense. It adds the significant sentence that each of them at one time or another had been treated as canonical. This lines up a point of considerable importance, testifying to the fact that the books were originally among those esoterically apprehended and hence as genuine as any others, and that when the esoteric sense was lost, their unintelligibility got them rated as false. There is practically convincing evidence to show that the word “apocryphal,” like many another, did not have in its original usage any connotation of falsity or baseness. It referred to those books of the ancient wisdom which from the spiritual and mystical profundity of their contents were held as too esoteric for the masses. The etymology of the word apo, “from,” and kryptein, “to hide” or “conceal,” indicates this fully and categorically. The Apocrypha were the books of the recondite doctrine, hidden from the ignorant populace. This point holds much vital significance for study in this whole field.
Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 502) states that “the most extravagant legends, as they conduced to the honor of the Church, were applauded by the credulous multitude, countenanced by the power of the clergy and attested by the suspicious evidence of ecclesiastical history.”
Such a Christian authority as The Catholic Encyclopedia (VII, 645) says that “even the genuine Epistles were greatly interpolated to lend weight to the personal views of their author. For this reason they were incapable of bearing witness to the original form.”
In an enlightening lecture entitled Paul the Gnostic Opponent of Peter, Massey reveals that “as Irenaeus tells us, the Gnostics, of whom Marcion was one, charged the other apostles with hypocrisy, because they ‘framed their doctrine according to the capacity of their hearers, fabling blind things for the blind according to their blindness; for the dull according to their dulness; for those in error according to their errors.’”
A strong statement is made in the History of the Christian Religion to the Year 200, by Charles B. Waite, to the effect that a comprehensive review of the first one hundred and seventy years of Christianity discloses the ignorance and superstition of even the most enlightened and best educated of the Fathers; with rare exceptions they were men who utterly despised learning, especially that of the pagans attempting to study the laws of the material universe. Construing in the narrowest sense the maxim that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, they construed the Jewish scriptures and sayings of Christ in the most fanciful and whimsical ways. Their credulity was unbounded and “they had a sublime disregard for truth. . . . Their unscrupulousness when seeking for arguments to enforce their positions is notorious, as well as the prevalence among them of what are known as pious frauds.”
Waite says of Eusebius, the Christian historian, that not only the most unblushing falsehoods but literary forgeries of the vilest character darken the pages of his apologetic and historical writings. In speaking of such and other irregularities, Miss Isabel B. Holbrook, a capable student of esoteric religions, writes in one of her brochures:
“Among the most notorious of these forgeries were gross liberties and interpolations concerning Christ into the writings of the historian Josephus, of Porphyry and other heathen and Church writers.”
Waite further declares that Eusebius has contributed more to Christian history than any other and “no one is guilty of more mistakes.”
“Eusebius has a peculiar faculty for diverging from the truth. He was ready to supply by fabrication what was wanting in historical data.”
Niebuhr terms Eusebius “a very dishonest writer.”
The thirty-second chapter of the Twelfth Book of Anselm, Evangelical Preparation, bears for its title this scandalous proposition: “How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived.” (From Gibbon, Vindication, 76.)
Chrysostom is quoted (Comm. on I Cor., IX, 19; Diegesis, p. 309) as saying: “Great is the force of deceit, provided it is not excited by a treacherous intention.”
Even Cardinal Newman appears to endorse subterfuge for the glory of the faith. In the Apology for His Life (Appendix, 345) he writes: “The Greek Fathers thought that when there was a justa causa an untruth need not be a lie.”
What could be more explicit than this entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia (XII, 768)?”
“There was need for a revision, which is not yet complete, ranging over all that has been handed down from the Middle Ages, under the style and title of the Fathers, Councils, Roman and other official archives. In all these departments forgery and interpolation as well as ignorance had wrought mischief on a great scale.”
Lecky states that the Fathers laid down as a distinct proposition that pious frauds were justifiable and even laudable. As a consequence of the necessity of enforcing their egregious claims to exclusive salvation, says Lecky, the Fathers immediately filled all ecclesiastical literature with the taint of “the most unblushing mendacity.” Heathenism had to be combated, and therefore prophecies of Christ by Orpheus and the Sibyls were forged and lying wonders were multiplied. Heretics were to be convinced, and therefore interpolations and complete forgeries were made. Age after age it continued until it became universally common. “It continued till the very sense of truth and the very love of truth seemed blotted out from the minds of men.”
In The Anacalypsis Higgins avers that “every ancient author without exception has come to us through the medium of Christian editors, who have, either from roguery or folly, corrupted them all. We know that in one batch all the Fathers of the Church and all the Gospels were corrected, that is, corrupted by the united exertions of the Roman See, Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the monks of St. Maur.”
As to this serious charge he writes (Anac., 697):
“Lanfranc, a Benedictine, was head of the monks of St. Maur about A.D. 1050, and it appears that this Society not only corrected the Gospel histories, but they also corrected the Fathers, in order that their Gospel corrections might not be discovered; and this was probably the reason for the publication by them of their version of the whole of the Fathers.”
It is not difficult to see why the labors of Higgins, Massey, Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, and others who were unsparing in their candid handling of obscure facts of history were relegated to oblivion as thoroughly as could be done.
Higgins further says (Anac., 522) that nothing which appears to be told by the orthodox Fathers in a regular and systematic manner against the heretics is credible. He berates Bishop Laurence of the English Church for his destructive translation of the Book of Enoch, and charges the iniquity of his having been made an archbishop, instead of being deservedly disgraced in return for so base an act.
Higgins confesses that his exertions to discover the truth are “in opposition to the frauds of the priests of all religions in their efforts to suppress evidence and to keep mankind in ignorance.” He charges that Enoch was quoted by Clement and Irenaeus like any other canonical scripture. The Christians in opposition held it to be spurious, because it so clearly gave the prophecy of the coming of the pagan Avatars.
Lardner is quoted by Higgins as saying that Victor Tununensis, an African Bishop, of about the sixth century, wrote a chronicle ending at the year 566, in which it is recorded that in the year 506 at Constantinople, by order of the Emperor Anastasius, “the holy Gospels, being written by illiterate Evangelists, are censured and corrected.”
What must be thought of the declaration of Augustine, founder of Christian theology, when he writes (Civ. Dei, Lib. IV, Cap. XXXI)?:
“There are many things that are true which it is not useful for the vulgar crowd to know; and certain things which although they are false it is expedient for the people to believe otherwise.”
In his great work Gibbon asserts that Eusebius, “the gravest of the ecclesiastical historians” “indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace, of religion.”
Augustine wrote a treatise On Lying, in rebuke to the clergy.
“This work,” says Bishop Wadsworth, “is a protest against the ‘pious frauds’ which have brought discredit and damage to the Gospel, and have created prejudice against it from the days of Augustine to our own times.” (A Church History, IV, 93-4.)
Massey says he will speak of certain things “when we begin to explore the monstrous deeds and fraudulent machinations of the evangelists.”
From the Editorial Preface to The Lost Books of the Bible the following excerpt is culled. It is in reference to the Gospel of Nicodemus:
“Although this Gospel is by some among the learned supposed to have really been written by Nicodemus, who became a disciple of Jesus Christ and conversed with him, others conjecture that it was a forgery toward the close of the third century by some zealous believer who, observing that there had been appeals made by the Christians of the former age to the Acts of Pilate, but that such Acts could not be produced, imagined it would be of service to Christianity to fabricate and publish this Gospel; as it would both confirm the Christians under persecution and convince the Heathens of the truth of the Christian religion. The Rev. Jeremiah Jones says that such pious frauds were very common among the Christians even in the third century. . . . The same author, in noticing that Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History charges the Pagans with having forged and published a book called ‘The Acts of Pilate,’ takes occasion to observe that the internal evidence of this Gospel shows it was not the work of any heathen . . . and Mr. Jones says he thinks so, more particularly as we have innumerable instances of forgeries by the faithful in the primitive days grounded on less plausible reasons.”
A note to page 99 of The Lost Books of the Bible states that Tertullian is authority for the allegation that the book called the Acts of Paul and Thecla was forged by a Presbyter of Asia, who, being convicted, “confessed that he did it out of respect of Paul.” Pope Gelasius included it in his decree against apocryphal books. Notwithstanding this a large part of the history was credited and looked upon as genuine among primitive Christians.
Another discredited work was named The Death of Pilate, and still another, The Paradise of Pilate, described by Lundy (Monumental Christianity, 243), would regale the reader with some conception of the highly “fanciful” nature of these forgeries, if there was space. We may be pardoned for outlining briefly the first of these two: Tiberius being grievously sick and having heard of the fame of Jesus as a healer of diseases, dispatched a messenger to Pilate to have him send Jesus to Rome to cure him. Pilate replied that he had crucified him as a malefactor. On his way back to Rome with the message, the messenger met Veronica – the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s garment – who gave him the cloth handkerchief with which the Lord had wiped his face on the way to crucifixion, and in so doing had impressed his features indelibly upon it. This cloth was brought to the Emperor and he was healed. Pilate was summoned to Rome and thrown into prison, where he killed himself with a knife. His body was thrown into the Tiber and such terrible storms of heat, thunder and lightning followed that the Romans took it up and sent it to Vienne where it was thrown into the Rhone(?). The same storms and tempests recurring, the body was sent again to Lake Lucerne, where it was sunk into the deep waters, said even yet to bubble and boil as if by some diabolical influence.
We might ask in Jerome’s words: Would this be matter of edification or of destruction?
Lundy (Monumental Christianity, 245) expostulates against the rejection, as spurious, of two apocryphal Letters of Pilate found in Thilo’s and Tischendorf’s collections; one addressed to Claudius and the other to Tiberius, in both of which Jesus’s miracles, his divine sonship, his crucifixion and resurrection are referred to, and the supernatural signs which attended his coming are read as indicating the end of the world. Lundy then puts forth the question, “Are all these forgeries?” If they are only traditions they are certainly very early ones, and their various statements wonderfully agree, he argues. Taken in connection with early Christian monuments, as to the whole story of our Lord’s life, death, resurrection and ascension, they must relate facts of a then recent occurrence, which, he thinks, can not be doubted.
“Were three of four generations of men utterly deceived and mistaken? And is all Christian civilization built upon a lie?” Look at the monuments, he says, and see what pains have been taken to record the verities of early Christianity. “Had the things portrayed not been facts, how could art all at once forsake her fond mythologies and depict such wonderful inventions as these?”
How indeed, millions will ask in concert with Lundy. The answer is – by the most incredible stupefaction of mortal mind that ever befell humanity; through the complete blinding of insight into the original nature of occult portrayals of the verities Lundy refers to, which are spiritual realities and not events of objective history. The monuments portrayed the dramatic enaction as the paintings did, and ignorance mistook them for pictures of factual occurrence. How indeed? By the unbelievable transfer of the hidden purport of scripture from the plane of mind to the plane of “history”; by the whole astonishing series of confusions which this work is written to reveal at last in their glaring falsity and blighting power.
A modern sleuth-hound on the trail of Christian imposture is Joseph Wheless, mainly in his work, Forgery in Christianity, an achievement of great value for its data, but perhaps marred by the Freethinker’s irrational hatred of all Biblical religionism. It is a remarkable assemblage of material laying bare the falsity of Christian claims, and all drawn directly from Christian sources. It is a strong case which can be supported entirely upon the admissions of your opponents. On page 43 of the work he affirms that “no one can now doubt that Lecky, after voluminous review of Christian frauds and impostures, spoke the precise historical truth: ‘Christianity floated into the Roman Empire on the wave of credulity that brought with it this long train of Oriental superstitions and legends.’”
The Catholic Encyclopedia (IV, 498) admits it was the custom of the scribes to lengthen out here and there, to harmonize passages or to add their own explanatory material. It also maintains that “it is the public character of all divines to mold and bend the sacred oracles till they comply with their own fancy, spreading them . . . like a curtain, closing together or drawing them back as they pleased.”
A most curious item that comes to light is a supposed letter prefixed to the Clementine Homilies, an epistle from Peter to James, in which Peter is made to write as follows:
“For some of the converts from the Gentiles have rejected the preaching through me in accordance with the law, having accepted a certain lawless and babbling doctrine of the enemy. And these same people have attempted while I am still alive by various interpolations to transform my words unto the overthrow of the law; as though I also thought thus but did not preach it openly: which be far from me. . . . But they professing somehow to know my mind, attempt to expound the words they heard from me more wisely than I who spoke them, telling those who are instructed by them that this is my meaning, which I never thought of. But if they venture such falsehoods while I am still alive, how much more when I am gone will those who come after me dare to do so!”
The Encyclopedia Britannica presumes that the “enemy” whose lawless and babbling doctrine has exercised Peter is none other than Paul. Massey makes much of the Peter-Paul controversy, declaring that Paul’s advocacy of the esoteric spiritual interpretation of all scripture made him the target for the attacks of the Petrine faction that swung over to the exoteric view. The Encyclopedia ventures the theory that the character of Simon Magus mentioned in the Acts and in this letter is a cover for Paul himself, and descants on the identification.
In the article “Midrash” the Encyclopedia testifies that “the tendency to reshape history for the edification of later generations was no novelty” in the fourth century B.C. Pragmatic historiography is exemplified in the earliest continuous sources, viz., the “Deuteronomic” writers, i.e., allied to Deuteronomy, and there are many relatively early narratives in which the details have been modified and the heroes of the past are the mouthpieces for the thought of a later writer or of his age. Numerous instructive examples of the active tendency to develop tradition may be observed in the relationship between Genesis and the Book of Jubilees, or in the embellishment of Old Testament history in the Antiquities of Josephus, or in the widening gaps in the diverse traditions of the famous figures of the Old Testament (Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Ezra, etc.) as they appear in non-canonical writings. The Midrash of the Jews and most other ancient sacred literature represented just this tendency to exploit a romantic sense in the old material:
“The rigid line between fact and fiction in religious literature which readers often wish to draw, can not be consistently justified, and in studying old Oriental religious narratives, it is necessary to realize that the teaching was regarded as more essential than the method of presenting it. ‘Midrash,’ which may be quite useless for historical investigation may be appreciated for the light it throws upon the forms of thought. Historical criticism does not touch the reality of the ideas, and since they may be as worthy of study as the apparent facts they clothe, they thus indirectly contribute to the history of their period.”
This nears the statement of truth about the theme, but misses final agreement with it, in the last sentence, which makes the Midrashic style of dealing with truth a mere help in understanding the “history of a period.” As so often reiterated already, the ancients were not concerned with the tawdry day-to-day eventualities of history; their aim ever was to dramatize the genius, meaning and spirit of all history in systematic type-forms and personifications of aspects of verity.
It is perhaps impossible that the general public can ever be awakened to the enormity of the corruption of old texts. None but the few scholars who have had time and occasion to go over the immense detail of the inquiry are in position to appreciate the full import and truth of this matter. It is well, then, to ponder deeply the sincere words of a competent and conscientious student, G. R. S. Mead, expressed in his Fragments of a Faith Forgotten (p. 18):
“The Received Text is proved to have suffered in its traditions so many misfortunes at the hands of ignorant scribes and dogmatic editors that the human reason stands amazed at the spectacle.”
On page 11 of the same work he says with reference to the Christian religion:
The student of Christianity “is amazed at the general ignorance of everything connected with its history and origins. He gradually works his way to a point whence he can obtain an unimpeded view of the remains of the first two centuries and gaze around on a world that he has never heard of at school and of which no word is ever breathed from the pulpit.”
And certainly the truth of his next statement (p. 14) must now be conceded:
“For upwards of one hundred years liberal Christendom has witnessed the most strenuous and courageous efforts to rescue the Bible from the hands of an ignorant obscurantism which had in many ways degraded it to the level of a literary fetish and deprived it of the light of reason.”
It is profitable to dwell with Mead on Marcion’s view of the Gospels. In that great Gnostic’s understanding of theology the Christ had preached a universal doctrine, a new revelation of the Good God, the Father of all. They who tried to graft this on to Judaism, the imperfect creed of one small nation, were in grievous error and had totally misunderstood the teaching of Christ. The Christ was not the Messiah promised to the Jews. That Messiah was to be an earthly king, was intended for the Jews alone and had not yet come. Therefore the pseudo-historical “in order that it might be fulfilled” school had adulterated and garbled the original Sayings of the Lord, the universal glad tidings, by the unintelligent and erroneous glosses they had woven into their collections of teachings. “It was the most terrific indictment of the cycle of New Testament ‘history’ that has ever been formulated.” Men were tired of all the contradictions and obscurities of the innumerable and mutually destructive variants of the traditions concerning the person of Jesus. (This surely points to the certainty that there were no real facts to go upon.) No man could say what was the truth, now that “history” had been so altered to suit the new Messiah-theory of the Jewish converts.
As to actual history, then, Marcion started with Paul; he was the first who had really understood the mission of the Christ, and had rescued the teaching from the obscurantism of Jewish narrow sectarianism. Of the manifold versions of the Gospel he would have the Pauline alone. He rejected every other recension including those now ascribed to Matthew, Mark and John! The Gospel according to Luke, “the follower of Paul,” which he might have been expected to embrace, he also rejected, regarding it as a recension to suit the views of the Judaizing party. His Gospel was presumably the collection of Sayings in use among the Pauline Churches of his day.
Mead says Marcion also rejected some of Paul’s Epistles because they had been tampered with by the “reconciliators of the Petro-Pauline controversy.” Mead calls Tertullian’s denunciation of Marcion’s party of intelligent people, a work called Against Marcion, “but a sorry piece of angry rhetoric.”
In his published lecture on Paul Not an Apostle of Historic Christianity (p. 9) Massey says “it becomes apparent how Paul’s writings were made orthodox by the men who preached another gospel than his; with whom he was at war during his lifetime and who took a bitter-sweet revenge on his writings by suppression and addition after he was dead and gone.”
Another great Gnostic teacher, Basilides, suffered at the hands of the ignorant party bent on literalizing all the Gospels of a spiritual Christos. Mead says that Basilides’ Exegetica were the first commentaries on the Gospel teachings written by a Christian philosopher, and in this, as in all other departments of theology, “the Gnostics led the way.” We can only regret, he says, that we have not the original text of the Gnostic doctor himself before us, instead of the very faulty copy of the text of the Church Fathers’ Refutation. Hippolytus muddles up his own glosses and criticisms with mutilated quotations, imperfectly summarizes important passages which treat of conceptions requiring the greatest subtlety and nicety of language, and in other respects does scant justice to a thinker whose faith in Christianity was so great that, far from confining it to the narrow limits of a dogmatic theology, he would have it that the Gospel was also a universal philosophy explanatory of the whole world drama. In its proper interpretation such indeed it is.
Heracleon and Bardesanes were other splendid Gnostic Christians whose work was contemned by the bigotry of the ignorant. Bardesanes was the agent directly creditable with establishing the first Christian state, for he induced the Prince Abgar Bar-Manu to make Christianity his state religion. Caracalla dethroned Agbar in 216. In revulsion against this act Bardesanes made an extensive defense of the Christian faith. Even Epiphanius is compelled to call him “almost a confessor.” He wrote many Christian treatises in Syriac and Greek. Mead says that the Gnostics were still in the Christian ranks, were members of the general Christian body and desired to remain so; but bigotry finally drove them out “because they dared to say that the teaching of the Christ contained a wisdom which transcended the comprehension of the majority.”
Mead cites the great Lepsius as saying (Die Apocryphen Apostelgeschichte, 1883) that “almost every fresh editor of such narratives, using that freedom which all antiquity was wont to allow itself in dealing with literary monuments, would recast the materials which lay before him, excluding whatever might not suit his theological point of view,” and substituting “other formulae of his own composition, and further expanding and abridging after his own pleasure.”
There was a wide circulation of “religious romances,” Mead says, in the second century. Irenaeus himself says there was “a multitude of Gospels extant” in his day.
Considerable authority is back of the broad statement that the Pentateuch contained material other than that now found in it before it was re-composed by Esdras or Ezra. It is pretty certain that even after this re-writing it was still further corrupted by ambitious Rabbis of later times, and otherwise remodeled and tampered with. Sometimes, according to Horne, annals and genealogies were taken from other books and incorporated as additional matter. Such sources were used “with freedom and independence.” Indeed this author concludes with the sentence: “They can not be said to have corrupted the text of Scripture. They made the text.” This collection made in this free fashion, observes Kenealy, is what the Old Testament is in Horne’s view – excerpts from the writings of unknown persons put together by those who, he says, were divinely inspired. “No infidel has ever made so damaging a charge as this against the authenticity of the Old Testament.”
As to both the Kabalah of the Jews and the Mosaic Bible, it is just about certain that the Western nations have not the original documents. Both internal and external evidence demonstrates on the testimony of the best Hebraists and the confessions of the learned Jewish Rabbis themselves that an ancient document forms the essential basis of the Bible, and that it received very considerable insertions and supplements in the process of adaptation. The Chaldean Book of Numbers and the Book of the Nabothean Agriculture are mentioned as being very close to the contents of this basic archaic document.
Mead establishes the fact that Celsus categorically accuses the Christians (ii-27) of changing their Gospel story in many ways in order the better to answer the objections of their opponents; his accusation is that “some of them, as it were in a drunken state producing self-induced visions, remodel their Gospel from its first written form and reform it so that they may be able to refute the objections brought against it.”
Higgins sums up much data with the conclusion that “there is undoubted evidence that our Gospel histories underwent repeated revisions.” He adds that “those who would revise the Gospels would not scruple to revise the Sibyl.” This hint is in reference to well-founded charges that the Christians had even reached back into the Sibylline predictions of the pagan oracles and changed them to make them jibe with orthodox preachments.
An evidence of corruption of text is found in an editor’s note on page 295 of Josephus’ Antiquities, which admits that “Josephus’ copy considerably differs from ours.”
Joseph Wheless (Forgery in Christianity) is authority for the statement that eight Epistles and the Martyrium are confessed forgeries.
“They are by common consent set aside as forgeries which were at various dates and to serve special purposes put forth under the name of the celebrated Bishop of Antioch.”
With reference to the Christian handling of the Sibylline Books and prophecies, one of the strongest indictments of Christian duplicity and insincerity is framed by the facts and the evidence. The Catholic Encyclopedia says that a letter of Polycarp to the Philippians, authenticating the Epistle to them, may itself be a forgery.
Says Higgins (Anac., 565):
“Among all nations of the Western parts of the world the prophetesses called Sibyls were anciently known. There were eight of them who were celebrated in a very peculiar manner, and a work is extant in eight books (published by Gallaeus) which purport to contain their prophecies. This work in several places is supposed to foretell the coming of Jesus Christ. They have been in all times admitted to be genuine by the Roman Church, and I believe also by that of the Greeks; in fact they have been literally a part of the religion; but in consequence of events in very late years not answering to the predictions, the Roman priesthood wishes to get quit of them, if it knew how; several of its learned men (Bellarmine, for instance) having called them forgeries.”
“It is the renewed case of the ladder: being no longer useful, it is kicked down. The Protestant Churches deny them altogether, as Romish forgeries. These Sibyls were held in the highest esteem by the ancient Gentiles. And it appears from the unquestionable text of Virgil that they did certainly foretell a future Savior or something very like it. We find, on examination of the present copy of them, that they did actually foretell in an acrostic the person called Jesus Christ by name. The most early Fathers of the Greek and Roman Churches plead them as genuine, authentic and unanswerable proofs of the truth of their religion, against the Gentile philosophers who, in reply, say that they have been interpolated by the Christians. . . . I saw pictures of the supposed authoresses of these prophetic books in several places in Italy. Their figures are beautifully inlaid in the marble floor of the Cathedral Church at Sienna and their statues are placed in a fine church at Venice, formerly belonging to the barefooted Carmelites. They are also found placed round the famous Casa Santa at Loretto.”
Higgins says that “Sibyl” means “cycle of the sun.” There was supposed to be a prophetess for each Sibyl or Cycle. A new prophetess presided over each Cycle as it passed. There were eight. At the time of Christ another was to come. Elsewhere it is said that the tenth was to mark the consummation of the age.
The Anacalypsis says that The Apostolic Constitutions quote the Sibylline Oracles and say:
“When all things shall be reduced to dust and ashes and the immortal god, who kindles the fire, shall have quenched it, God shall form those bones and ashes into man again, and shall place mortal men as they were before, and then shall be the judgment, wherein God shall do justice.”
Justin Martyr, about 160 A.D., says the Cumaean Sibyl prophesied the coming of Christ in express words. Justin tells the Greeks that they may find the true religion in the ancient Babylonian Sibyl, who came to Cuma and there gave her oracles, which Plato admired as divine. Clemens of Rome also quotes the Sibyls in his Epistle to the Corinthians. They are also quoted by Theophilus, Antiochus, Athenagoras, Firmianus, Lactantius, Eusebius, St. Augustine and others.
“Take the Greek books, learn the Sibyl, how she proclaims one God and those things which are to come.” Higgins says there are several works extant purporting to be the writings of Peter, Paul and other early Christians, in which the Sibylline oracles are quoted as authorities in support of Christianity.
Dr. Lardner admits (Higgins) that the old Fathers call the Sibyls prophetesses in the strictest sense of the word. They were known as such to Plato, Aristotle, Diodorus, Strabo, Plutarch, Pausanius, Cicero, Varro, Virgil, Ovid, Tacitus, Juvenal and Pliny. What can they have foretold, Higgins asks – and claims he can answer: The same as Isaiah, as Enoch, as Zoroaster, as the Veddas, as the Irish Druid from Bocchara, and as the Sibyl of Virgil: a renewed cycle of the sun and its hero or divine incarnation, its presiding genius. They all admit of ten ages, yet they are not agreed as to the time when the ages commence; some making them begin with creation, some with the flood, but the Erythrean Sibyl is the only one who correctly states them to begin from Adam. He says that ten periods of 600 years each make up the ten ages, or one Great Age.
Some of the testimony regarding the Sibyls is assembled by Wheless in his Forgery in Christianity (p. 142). He says that Justin in many chapters cites these oracles and points for Christian proofs to “the testimony of the Sibyl,” of Homer, of Sophocles, of Pythagoras, of Plato. From the Ante-Nicene Fathers he takes this:
“And you may in part learn the right religion from the ancient Sibyl, who by some kind of potent inspiration teaches you, through her oracular predictions, truths which seem to be much akin to the teachings of the prophets. . . . ‘Ye men of Greece . . . do ye henceforth give heed to the words of the Sibyl . . . predicting as she does in a clear and patient manner the advent of our Savior Jesus Christ,’” as Wheless adds – “quoting long verses of Christian-forged nonsense.” (A.N.F. i, 288-9).
“It is a fact that no critic can deny,” says Higgins, “that the Sibylline oracles have been greatly corrupted by the Christians.”
Gibbon (D. and F., p. 443) says in re the Sibylline Oracles: “The adoption of fraud and sophistry in the defense of revelation” is apparent in their handling by the Christians.
There must be great significance attaching to Wheless’ declaration (Forgery in Christianity, p. 195) that Justin Martyr quotes no Gospels, except loose “Sayings of Jesus,” in his writings, but draws profusely from the Sibyls, Oracles, etc. Even Irenaeus makes no mention of the four Gospels (Wheless); and according to Higgins (574) Justin says that “the Sibyl not only expressly and clearly foretells the future coming of our Savior Jesus Christ, but also all things that should be done by him.” (Cohort and Gr., p. 36; Lardner: Works, Chap. XXIX.)
The most succinct and telling statement concerning the Sibyls, however, is made by Higgins (576) when he says:
“Almost every particular in the life of Christ as detailed in our Gospels is to be found in the Sibyls, so that it can scarcely be doubted that the Sibyls were copied from the Gospel histories, or Gospel histories from them. It is also very certain that there was an Erythrean Sibyl before the time of Christ, whatever it might contain.”
It is hardly probable that any factual evidence can ever be produced at this remote date to substantiate the charges of copying on one side or the other. But it is not reasonable to suppose that a document vastly earlier copied from its successor, although to uphold claims of antecedence for some of their documents, doctrines and ceremonial rites, the Christians did actually resort to the plea of “plagiarism by anticipation” so naïvely put forth by some of the early Fathers. As the oracles of the pagans were adjuncts of all religion for many centuries B.C., the implications of plagiarism fall on the Christians. Whether copied or not, the material fact is that the contents of the oracles and those of the Christian Gospels correspond to such a degree that comparative religion study would rate them both as emanating from a common source and being elements of a common tradition. Practically all the tangled problems of the chronology of documents and priority of texts might be solved on the general terms of this hypothesis.
An early writer bearing testimony to much in Christian history is Papias. He emphatically declares that the Christian Gospels were founded on and originated in the Logia or Sayings. Massey derives “myth” from mutu (Egyptian), “utterance,” “saying,” and relates it to mati, “utterance of truth,” from which he derives, it is believed with good reason, the Gospel of Matthew (Egyptian: maatiu). There is an abundance of evidence to support the contention that the body of the great spiritual tradition handed on from remotest times was incorporated in collections of the most notable and vital utterances taken from the lines assigned to be spoken by the Christos or solar-god figure in the great astronomically-based cryptic ritual of the mighty Mysteries of the past. These collations of sacred utterances of the divine Son to mankind were circulated, but in secret, all over the ancient field under the name, in Greek at any rate, of “the Logia” or “Sayings of the Lord.” It is almost beyond question that they were the root documents from which the canonical Gospels were elaborated, or perhaps simply extracted, and to cover deterioration were emended, interpolated, edited by many scribes in turn. In general statement this is as near the true history of the source, origin and nature of the Christian Gospels as can be determined. All the data bearing in any way on the matter can be focused with complete harmony and consistency on this thesis; and there are no data that are hostile to it. The hypothesis precisely fits and elucidates all the data and in turn the data support the thesis. It is the only thesis of which this happy situation can be predicated.
In this connection it seems warrantable that the name Mu, applied (by Churchward particularly) to a “lost continent” and age, is just a form of the word that means “utterance of truth.” In the primordial days of cosmic creation, the Lord “uttered his voice” and his utterance was the Logos, which prescribed the form of the universe that his voice called into being. The land of Mu was no more a local region on a globe than “the abyss of the waters” was the Pacific Ocean, or the Garden of the Hesperides was in Spain or that other garden, Eden, was in Mesopotamia, or “the kingdom of heaven” in Germany.
Since the time of the existence of the Gospels some portions of texts have been found in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere called Sayings or Logia, of which whole passages agree almost verbatim with their counterparts in the Gospels. Why such a fact is not accorded its full weight is hard to see. Of course Christian defenders unanimously claim for these documents a date well posterior to the Christian writings and allege they are copies of Gospel material. Yet surely documents containing identical data were extant in very ancient pre-Christian times, and this fact would seem to be in the end conducive for the priority of the Logia to the Gospels.
Shirley Jackson Case, of Chicago University Theological School, in his work to support the historicity thesis, admits broadly that before Paul’s time pre-Christian Christianity was in existence not only in Palestine, but also in the Diaspora. A broad admission of this sort could include vast facts and data carrying a very definite refutation of many Christian claims, and in fact does so.
It must have taken much strongly evidential proof to bring Kenealy (The Book of God, p. 408) to say that “assuming that the copies or rather phonographs which had been made by Hulkiah and Esdras and the various anonymous editors were really true and genuine, they must have been wholly exterminated by Antiochus; and the versions of the Old Testament which now subsisted must have been made by Judas or by some unknown compilers, probably from the Greek of the seventy, long after the appearance and death of Jesus.”
One of the Church Fathers complains that his writings “had been falsified by the apostles of the devil; no wonder, he adds, ‘that the Scriptures were falsified by such persons.’” (Catholic Encyclopedia, V, p. 10.) This complainant was Bishop Dionysius.
According to Wheless, Erasmus and Sir Isaac Newton detected fraud in the translation of passages.
It is probably a record of truth which the Catholic Encyclopedia (VI, pp. 655-6) makes as to the authentic authorship of the four canonical Gospels.
“The first four historical books of the New Testament are supplied with titles (Gospel according to (Greek kata) Matthew, etc.) which, however ancient, do not go back to the respective authors of these sacred writings. . . . That they do not go back to the first century of the Christian era, or at least that they are not original, is a position generally held at the present day. . . . It thus appears that the titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.”
While this may not point directly to fraudulent practice, it indicates some manipulation that could possibly hide covert intent.
On the general score of the authenticity of the Gospels Wheless writes as follows:
“The possibility of the pretence that the precious Four Gospels, circulated nondescript and anonymous in the churches for a century and a half, is patently belied by the specific instance of the ‘Gospel according to Mark,’ of which Gospel we have the precise ‘history’ recorded three centuries after the alleged notorious event. Bishop Eusebius is our witness in his celebrated Church History. He relates that Peter preached orally in Rome, Mark being his ‘disciple’ and companion. The people wanted a written record of Peter’s preachments, and (probably because Peter could not write) they importuned Mark to write down ‘that history which is called the Gospel according to Mark.’ Mark having done so, ‘the Apostle (Peter) having ascertained what was done by revelation of the Spirit, was delighted’ . . . and that history obtained his authority for the purpose of being read in the churches.” (H. E., Bk. II, Ch. 15.)
Wheless gives other data indicating that Peter was dead at the time alleged. But he cites Eusebius from a later passage in his Ecclesiastical History, in which this “historian” gives another version: the people who heard Peter “requested Mark, who remembered well what he (Peter) had said, to reduce these things to writing . . . which when Peter understood, he directly neither hindered nor encouraged it.” (H. E., Bk. VI, Ch. 14.) “Peter thus was alive but wholly indifferent about his alleged Gospel” (Wheless). It evidently was not “inspired” if Mark only “remembered well.”
It is claimed that Peter was “martyred in Rome” 64-67 A.D. The earliest date claimed for “Mark” is some years after the fall of Jerusalem, 70 A.D. The great Pope Clement I (died 97 A.D.?) first to fourth successor of Pope Peter, knew nothing of his great predecessor’s “Gospel according to Mark,” for, says the Catholic Encyclopedia (IV, p. 14):
“The New Testament he never quotes verbally. Sayings of Christ are now and then given, but not in the words of the Gospels. It can not be proved, therefore, the he used any one of the Synoptic Gospels.”
Wheless comments on this, that of course he did not and could not; they were not yet written. And no other Pope, Bishop or Father (except Papias and until Irenaeus) for nearly a century after “Pope Clement” ever mentions or quotes a Gospel, or names Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
“So for a century and a half – until the books bobbed up in the hands of Bishop St. Irenaeus and were tagged as ‘Gospels according to’ this or that Apostle, there exists not a word of them in all the tiresome tomes of the Fathers. It is humanly and divinely impossible that the ‘Apostolic authorship’ and hence ‘canonicity’ or divine inspiration of these Sacred Four should have remained for a century and a half unknown and unsuspected by every Church Father, Pope and Bishop of Christendom – if existent. Even had they been somewhat earlier in existence, never an inspired hint or human suspicion was there, that they were ‘Divine’ or ‘Apostolic’ or any different from the scores of ‘Apocryphal or pseudo-Biblical writings with which the East had been flooded’ – that they were indeed ‘Holy Scripture.’ Hear this notable admission: ‘It was not until about the middle of the second century that under the rubric of Scripture the New Testament writings were assimilated to the Old’ (C. E., III, 275) – that is, became regarded as Apostolic, sacred, inspired and canonical – or ‘Scriptures.’”
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were all Jews; their Gospels were written in Greek. Also they speak of the Jews in the style and spirit of a non-Jew. Luke adds (I, 1) that there were many other like Gospels afloat. The Cath. Ency. confesses that no one knows why out of many such Gospels the Sacred Four were chosen. Wheless says that Matthew was used by the Ebionites, Mark by “those who separate Jesus from Christ,” Luke by the Marcionites, and John by the Valentinians. Wheless will probably be disputed when he says that it is “proven that no written Gospels existed until shortly before 185 A.D., when Irenaeus wrote; they are first mentioned in Chapter XXI of his Book II.”
The “heretics” were making use of many Gospels, the orthodox claimed only four for their own. It is claimed and likely with justice that the “gospel” up to the middle of the second century was entirely oral and traditional, or with few written texts, and those held in more or less secrecy by the esotericists of the day. This would quite well accord with the thesis of the existence of Logia or Sayings of divine authorship. The Gnostics or other “heretics” were likely the ones who began to reduce the “gospel” to writing and to bring it out to general use, like the “occultists” of our own age. The orthodox, in self-defense, in all probability did likewise, selecting four and editing them to uphold conceived positions on doctrinal matters. It is confessed in several places that the “heretical spurious gospels” prepared the way and doubtless furnished the incentive for the canonized four. “The Gospels are thus anti-heretical documents of the second century after Gnosticism first appeared.” This fact makes them far other in spirit and no doubt in contents than what the Christian populace has always innocently believed them to be – pure historical records of factual occurrence.
Pope Papias – who said that Jesus died at home in bed of old age! – is among the first, about 145 A.D., to name a written Gospel. Quoting the old presbyters (whose memory must have gone pretty far back to the first century), he says that Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatever he remembered. It is not in exact order that he relates the sayings or deeds of Christ. “For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him.” Matthew, he says, put the Oracles (of the Lord) in the Hebrew language, “and each one interpreted them as best he could.” Papias did not have in his important church any other Gospels and had only heard of such writings from the elders at second hand.
There has been much question of the genuineness of Mark (XVI, pp. 9-20. On this the Encyclopedia Britannica (II, p. 1880) says: “The conclusion of Mark (XVI, 9-20) is admittedly not genuine. Still less can the shorter conclusion lay claim to genuineness.” Of the 15th and 16th verses of this chapter the “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel” and the “saved” and “damned” clauses, etc., are obvious interpolations. Reinach (Orpheus, p. 221) says that it is a “late addition” and “is not found in the best MSS.” The New Standard Bible Dictionary (p. 551) states that the longer form has against it the testimony of the two oldest Uncial MSS. (Siniatic and Vatican) and of one of the two earliest of the Syriac versions, all of which close the chapter at verse 8. In addition to this is the very significant silence of Patristic literature as to anything following verse 8. Eusebius says that the portion after verse 8 was not contained in all the MSS. Jerome also says it was wanting in nearly all. But Jerome put it into the Vulgate (Cath. Ency.). The latter authority says:
“Whatever the fact be, it is not at all certain that Mark did not write the disputed verses. It may be that he did not; that they are from the pen of some other inspired writer and were appended to the Gospel in the first century or the beginning of the second.”
But the Council of Trent decreed they were part of the inspired gospel “and must be received as such by every Catholic.” (C. E., IX, pp. 677-8-9.) The New Commentary on the Holy Scripture (Part III, pp. 122-3) comments:
“It is as certain as anything can be in the domain of criticism that the Longer Ending did not come from the pen of the Evangelist Mark. . . . We conclude that it is certain that the Longer Ending is not part of the Gospel.”
Massey says we learn from Origen that during the third century there were various different versions of Matthew’s Gospel in circulation. Jerome, at the end of the fourth century, asserts the same thing; and of the Latin version he says that there were as many different texts as there were manuscripts!
Reinach contends that the episode of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, which was inserted in John’s Gospel in the fourth century, was originally in the (apocryphal) Gospel according to the Hebrews. (Orpheus, p. 235.)
As to John XXI the Ency. Brit. has it that, as XX, 30-31 constitute a formal and solemn conclusion, Chap. XXI is beyond question a later appendix. “We may go on to add that it does not come from the same author with the rest of the book.” (E. B., ii, p. 2543.)
Even the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer (“For thine is the glory,” etc.) is omitted as spurious by the Revised Version. It is not in the Catholic “True” Version. As to that Wheless comments: “It may be remarked that the whole of the so-called Lord’s Prayer is not the Lord’s at all; it is a late patchwork of pieces out of the Old Testament, as is readily shown by the marginal cross references.”
Reinach, citing the Ency. Brit., under various titles, says of the Peter, John, Jude and James Epistles – the “Catholic Epistles” – “not one of them is authentic.”
A bit shattering is the word of the same Encyclopedia (I, p. 199):
“John . . . is not the author of the Fourth Gospel; so, in like manner, in the Apocalypse we may have here and there a passage that may be traced to him, but the book as a whole is not from his pen. Gospel, Epistles and Apocalypse all come from the same school.”
This was the school of the Mysteries, the Essene Brotherhoods, the Associations of Therapeutae, from which all the oldest documents of a sacred character emanated, and the traditions of which the Gnostics essayed to carry on into the new formulations of Christianity. This is a very important datum. Reinach holds that John – or whoever poses as “John” – is a forger.
Eusebius says that II Peter “was controverted and not admitted into the canon.” The Ency. Brit. endorses the view and says its tardy recognition in the early Church supports the judgment of the critical school as to its unapostolic origin.
Tertullian (Cath. Ency., XIV, p. 525) cites the Book of Enoch as inspired, and also recognizes the IV Esdras and the Sibyl, but does not know James and II Peter. He attributes Hebrews to St. Barnabas.
The Apostolic Constitutions, supposed to have been compiled by Clement of Rome and held in high esteem, were until 1563 claimed to be the genuine work of the Apostles. They were composed about 400, and were a collection of ancient ecclesiastical decrees concerning the government and discipline of the Church, in a word, a handy summary of the statutory legislation of the Apostles themselves, promulgated by their own great disciple Clement. Their claim of apostolic origin is manifestly quite false and untenable, Wheless insists. The Catholic Encyclopedia has recognized them as the work of the Apostles and confirmed them as ecclesiastical law.
Likewise the Liber Pontificalis or Book of the Popes, a purported history of the Popes beginning with Peter and continued down to the fifteenth century, Wheless claims is full of spurious correspondence, liturgical and disciplinary regulations, biographies, etc., which certainly must be held under suspicion.
And so the list of tamperings and forgeries runs on down into the Middle Ages, a revelation of duplicity enough to shake the faith of the earnest souls confiding in holy leadership, if it was all known. Lorenzo Valla in 1440 first revealed the forgery of the Donation of Constantine. The Symmachian Forgeries are confessed by the Catholic Encyclopedia. Voltaire pronounced the “False Decretals” of Isidore “the boldest and most magnificent forgery which has deceived the world for centuries.” They appeared suddenly in the ninth century, and in them the Popes of the first three centuries are made to quote documents that did not appear until the fourth or fifth century. They are full of anachronisms.
Then comes the sorry recital of lists of deceptions concerning sacred relics, starting with those of the person of Jesus, his bones, his garments, utensils used by him, the cross, nails, bottles of his blood and also of Mary’s nursing milk, etc., etc., which are so obviously fraudulent that one would think the ecclesiastical system which either forged them or winked at their exploitation would blush at the record. The Catholic Encyclopedia does confess the policy of tolerance of “the pious beliefs” which have helped to further Christianity and a general indulgence toward all the fatuous superstitions connected with relics, saints, healing and the rest. As no church was to be built without dead men’s bones under the altar, so it would seem as if indeed no church system can be historically promulgated without the skeleton of the dead past buried deep in the core of its heart and in its holy of holies.
The Catholic Encyclopedia announces (III, p. 105) that Chosroes (Khosra) II, King of Persia, in 614 took Jerusalem, massacred 90,000 good Christians, captured the cross of Christ and carried it off whole in triumph to Persia. Yet the same authority says that we learn from St. Cyril of Jerusalem (before 350) that the wood of the cross, discovered about 318, was already distributed throughout the world, to show up in enough pieces to have built a colony of summer cottages. This is indeed a miracle of multiplication surpassing Jesus’ legerdemain with the five loaves and two fishes. Wheless cites authority for the statement that more than seven hundred relics of the thorns pressed on Jesus’ brow have been enumerated. For fuller detail reference should be had to Wheless’ book, Forgery in Christianity. Draper in his The Intellectual Development of Europe tells of the shock which the revelation of such unblushing imposture gave to all Europe at different times and which prepared the way for the Reformation.
The vast fraud of his Church is said to have burst upon Luther as he ascended the twenty-eight steps of white marble leading up to the porch of the palace of Pilate allegedly trodden by Christ, which were brought to Rome from Jerusalem by St. Helena. It must be remembered that the great surge of the Reformation came from the natural revolt of the human conscience against dupery and hypocrisy. It will be admitted that the amount of such deception necessary to cause a revulsion sufficiently strong to overthrow a pious system consecrated and venerated by centuries of sacred indoctrination and loyalty must have been of terrific proportions.
Higgins alleges that even the Koran was forged twenty years after Mohammed’s death. For priestcraft it may indeed be recognized that necessity is the mother of invention.
Among the writings of St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in the eleventh century, has been found a verbal description of Jesus in Latin attributed to one Lentulus, a friend of Pontius Pilate and his predecessor in the government of Judea. The letter purports to have been addressed to the Roman Senate by Lentulus. It has been taken to be fictitious. No such person as Lentulus is known of in Judea.
Much of the alleged “historical testimony” supporting Jesus’ human existence is material of this sort.
Origen writes that the difference between the copies of the Gospels is considerable, partly from the carelessness of individual scribes, partly from the impious audacity of some in correcting what was written, as well as from “those who added or removed what seemed good to them in the work of correction.” (Origen, M. Matt., XV, p. 14.) Wheless asserts that as far as the Gospel of John was concerned, it was not identified with the Christian Church until Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, wrote about it A.D. 185, when the Gnostic Gospel was brought forward. This was founded on the Egyptian Mysteries, John being the Egyptian Taht-Aan. Massey endorses this etymology.
Grethenbach (A Secular View of the Bible) refers to the text of Jesus’ agonized cry of heroic spirituality from the cross – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – and says it is omitted from the earlier copies of the Book of Luke, and is probably an interpolation from the similar expression of Stephen (Acts, 7:60), and is missing from the other Gospels. This author likewise points out that all the details of the crucifixion given in the four Gospels are wholly left in silence by the epistolary authors, an extraordinarily singular fact, since, he says, Paul himself must have been in Jerusalem at the time it occurred, and John and Peter are known to have been there likewise.
Mead cites evidence (F. F. F., p. 166) to authenticate his statement that in the “romantic” cycle of “Gospel” writing connected with Simon Magus, the legend of Peter’s being in Rome in later versions is belied by data in the earlier ones, in which Peter does not travel beyond the East. We have already noted Jerome’s admission that the present Matthew was not the original Gospel of that name, and that the earlier text was “re-written” by a certain Seleucus.
Another work of Mead’s – Did Jesus Live 100 Years B.C.? – adduces the datum that the authorized translation of “almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” is not correct, and that the “imperfect original of it is untranslatable.”
This may be the appropriate place to introduce the evidence that is extant as to the mishandling and juggling of the Greek adjective chrestos, meaning “good,” “just,” “righteous,” and the substitution of “Christos,” “the anointed one,” for it by the Christian writers. It is doubtful, however, if much can be made for or against the historicity from the data available. It is at any rate a matter of considerable importance that the early prevalence of this spelling, or this word, should be known, as such things have apparently been designedly kept from general knowledge.
The etymology of Christos has already been outlined as meaning the “Anointed One,” and its evident derivation from the Egyptian KaRaST, the name of the mummy-babe in the coffin, with the significance of divinity buried in flesh, has been indicated. KaRaST has been translated as “fleshed,” and it may be of cognate origin with the Greek word for “flesh,” kreas. Christos and Messiah are equated in the similar meaning of “Anointed.” Oddly enough, the Egyptian mes and the Sanskrit kri both mean “to pour,” “to anoint.”
It seems that Chrestos is by no means a mere variant of Christos, with the same meaning. The Greek dictionary gives the word as meaning “good-natured,” “kind,” as applied to men, and “propitious,” “favorable,” as applied to the gods. The distinguished German savant Lepsius gives the Egyptian nofre (more generally spelled by Egyptologists nefer) as meaning “good,” “beautiful,” “noble,” and says it is equivalent to the Greek Chrestos. He says that one of the titles of Osiris, On-nofre (Un-nefer) must be translated “the goodness of God made manifest,” which is probably correct.
Chrestos appears in a number of places throughout the Bible text. In I Peter 2:3 it occurs with the translation of “gracious.” In Psalm 34:8 it is rendered “good.” W. B. Smith, in Der Vorchristliche Jesus, holds that chrestos as found in the latter passage is equatable with Christos.
Clement of Alexandria in the second century founded a serious argument on his paronomasia (juggling of the spelling, or punning), by which he makes the assertion that all who believed in Chrest (i.e., “a good man”) both are and are called Chrestians, that is, “good men.” And Lactantius sets forth that it is only through ignorance that people call themselves Christians instead of Chrestians: “who through the mistake of the ignorant (people) are accustomed to say Christ with the letter unchanged.” (Lib. IV, Chap. VII.) It is thus apparent that the Greeks were accustomed to call Christ by the name Chrestus, not Christus.
In his The Early Days of Christianity Canon Farrar has a footnote on the word Chrestian occurring in I Peter 4:16, where in the revised later MSS. the word was changed into Christian. The eminent churchman remarks here that “perhaps we should read the ignorant brethren’s distortion, Chrestian.” Most certainly we should, as the name Christus was not distorted into Chrestus, but it was the adjective and noun Chrestus which became distorted into Christus and applied to Jesus. There is much evidence that the terms Christ and Christians, spelled originally Chrest and Chrestians (Chrestianoi in Greek) by such writers as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius, Clement and others, were directly borrowed from the temple terminology of the pagans and meant the same thing, viz., “good,” “honest,” “gracious,” and the noun forms from the adjective.
Philo uses the adjective-combination theochrestos (God declared), which was worked over into theochristos (anointed of God). There may be something in the suggestion that while Christos means “to live” and “to be born into a new life” (the basic meaning of “anointed”), Chrestos signified in the Mystery phraseology the death of the lower or personal nature in man, that part of us which must die daily, as St. Paul sees it. An interesting clue that points in the direction of a cryptic theological meaning of the sort is given by the fact, brought to our notice by chance, that the zodiacal sign of Scorpio was known in esoteric studies as Chrestos-Meshiac, while Leo was called Christos-Messiah, and that this nomenclature antedated by far the Christian era, as a representation or dramatization in the rites of Initiation in the Mysteries. It is clearly evident here that Scorpio stood as symbol of the sinking sun of deity in its autumnal descent into matter, Leo standing for the glorified sun risen to the zenith. This is further attested by a writer of penetrating discernment of ancient structures, Ralston Skinner, who in his profound study, Sources and Measures, brings out a parallel to the Scorpio-Leo, Chrestos-Christos analysis. He writes:
“One (Chrestos), causing himself to go down into the pit (of Scorpio, or incarnation in the womb) for the salvation of the world; this was the sun, shorn of his golden rays and crowned with blackened ones (symbolizing this loss) as of thorns; the other was the triumphant Messiah, mounted up to the summit of the arch of heaven, personated as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
It is more than a shrewd guess that we have in this zodiacal characterization, which allocates Chrestos to Scorpio and Christos to Leo symbolism, the true basis of a distinctive use of the two words or spellings. We know well that the vowels in ancient Egyptian, Hebrew and other languages were of quite indifferent rating and value. There seem to have been almost no vowels in the hieroglyphics, and up to the sixth century no vowels were written in the pre-Masoretic texts of the Hebrew scriptures. It is not likely that there was any essentially marked or significant difference between Chrestos and Christos. They may have been used more or less interchangeably. But the insatiable tendency of the ancient mind to devise constructions that would graphically pictorialize basic principles, laws and truths, took form seemingly in this instance in seizing upon the two names, Chrestos and Christos, as descriptive of the two stages of incarnating and resurrected Messianic deity. This is the one inescapable theme of ancient religious writing. It would match the many other twofold designations, such as Sut-Horus, Horus the Elder-Horus the Younger, Osiris-Horus, Cain-Abel, Jacob-Esau, John-Jesus, Judas-Jesus and other pairs that represent the two opposite phases of deity, the God in matter, the Karast, and the God restored to heaven, as the Christ. Much Christian thought even makes the distinction between Jesus the man and Christ the God. It was in all probability the case that the religionists referred to Jesus as the Chrestos, or “good man” who was to be through and after his initiations and transfigurations reborn into the true Christos. The reason, then, for the indicated tendency of the Christians to change the term Chrestos over to Christos is plainly seen. It was their obvious purpose to establish the claim that their divinely prophesied and celestially born Messiah had indeed become the fully deified Savior. This should be a notable clarification and it has the subtle agreement of the zodiacal symbolism to support it.
Incidentally we have in Skinner’s data the probably true significance of the symbolic “crown of thorns” so tragically pressed down upon the brow of Jesus in the Gospels.
But it is of no little weight to establish the datum that the term Chrestoi, meaning “good people,” full of sweetness and light, was pre-extant to Christianity. This is in part certified by the statement of Canon Farrar in The Early Days of Christianity that “there can be little doubt that the . . . name Christian . . . was a nickname due to the wit of the Antiochians. . . . It is clear that the sacred writers avoided the name (Christians) because it was employed by their enemies (Tacitus: Annals XV:44). It only became familiar when the virtues of Christians had shed lustre upon it. . . .”
It is quite more likely that the Christians chose the name Christian (rather than Chrestian) for the luster that the high name would shed on them than that their virtues shed luster upon the name. The name needed no extraneous illumination; the Christians (as has been seen) doubtless did.
However that may be, the fundamental and crucial fact of the whole matter seems to center in Massey’s findings with reference to the derivation of the stem KRST, with whatever voweling, from the mummy KaRaST of Egypt. In the Agnostic Annual he says:
“In a fifth century representation of the Madonna and child from the cemetery of St. Valentinus the new-born babe lying in a box or crib is also the Karest, or mummy-type, further identified as the divine babe of the solar mythos by the disk of the sun and the cross of the equinox at the back of the infant’s head. This doubles the proof that the Christ of the Christian catacombs was a survival of the Karest of Egypt.”
Justin Martyr uses the word Chrestotatoi, meaning “most excellent.” Thirlby alludes to the vulgar custom of the early time of calling the Christians Chrestians. Higgins ventures the supposition that “Christianoi” was likely a corruption of the more common Chrestianoi.
Lucian in a book called Philopatris makes a person named Triephon answer the question whether the affairs of the Christians were recorded in heaven: “All nations are there recorded, since Chrestos exists even among the Gentiles.” The Greek is here given as Chresos.
Dr. John Jones (Lex. in voce.) observes that this word is found in Romans 16:18. Higgins comments:
“And in truth the composition of it is Chrestos logia, i.e., Logia peri tou Chrestos, oracles concerning Chrestus, that is, oracles which certain impostors in the Church at Rome propagated concerning Christ, Chrisos being changed by them into Chresos, the usual name given them by the Gnostics and even by unbelievers.”
Paul in this Romans passage calls the doctrine Chresologia, and Higgins says Jesus was called Chresos by St. Peter as well as by St. Paul.
Bishop Marsh says of the passage in I Peter 2:3 that some editors give Chrestos, others Christos, “where the preceding verb egeusasthe determines the former (Chrestos) to be the true reading.” (Marsh’s Various Readings of the New Testament, Vol. I, p. 278.) Higgins asserts that “anointed” covers everything meant to be described by Chrestos.
In Did Jesus Live 100 Years B.C.? Mead states in a footnote that the most ancient dated Christian inscription (October 1, 318, A.D.) runs: “The Lord and Savior, Jesus the Good” – (Chrestos, not Christos). This, he says, was the legend over the door of a Marcionite Church. And the Marcionites were anti-Jewish Gnostics and did not confound their Chrestos with the Jewish Christos (Messiah). Mead says elsewhere that Chrestos was a universal term of the Mysteries for the perfected “saint,” and that Christos was more especially limited to the Jewish Messiah idea.
Mackenzie writes that “the worship of Christ was universal at this early date . . . but the worship of Chrestos – the Good Principle – had preceded it by many centuries, and even survived the general adoption of Christianity, as shown on monuments still in existence.”
He cites examples of the occurrence of the word Chreste from the catacombs.
It is notable indeed that Justin Martyr, the earliest Christian author, in his first Apology, called his co-religionists Chrestians, not Christians.
In a lecture entitled The Name and Nature of the Christ, Massey writes:
“In Bockh’s Christian Inscriptions, numbering 1,287, there is not a single instance of an earlier date than the third century wherein the name is not written Chrest or Chreist.”
There is no manifest reason why a fact as significant as this should not be widely recognized and publicized both for the sake of truth and for the sake of the principle now being so strenuously defended, that the citizens of a democracy are entitled to correct information on matters of any importance.
It is also definitely worth noting that in the excerpt from Suetonius’ Lives of the Twelve Caesars, one of the four alleged extra-Gospel historical references to Jesus, the name claimed to be an allusion to Jesus is the word Chrestus. Commenting on this, Harry Elmer Barnes, in The Twilight of Christianity, justly ventures the suggestion that the word in this form gives us no assurance that the historical Jesus is the person hinted at, or indeed that it refers to a person at all.
It is frankly in the line of philological speculation, but with the apparent identity of root derivation of two words to suggest its plausibility, to point to a possible relation of the words Chrestos, Christos, with the Greek impersonal verb chrea insert flat line over the e, “it is necessary,” “it is fitting,” “it is right,” “it is good.” There is a dialectical or philosophical connection that is by no means far-fetched. All religion is concerned primarily with the relation of the soul to body in its cycles of descent and return. It is to be recalled that these cycles were known in the Greek Orphic and Platonic systems as kuklos (cyclos) anagkes, “the cycle of necessity.” Chrea see above) is kindred to the stem of the word “cross,” and the Christ on the cross was the Christ-soul undergoing the experience of the cycle of necessity. Also the whole evolution of the Christos is, in a very real philosophical sense, under the impulsion of what may be, and often has been, called divine necessity. The soul advances to divinity, stage by stage and cycle by cycle, under the necessity of its own nature. The fact that chrea means “it is good” as well as “it is necessary” points to the practical certitude that it is cosmically good for the soul to make the pilgrimage round the circle of the cosmos, through the gamut of all values.
The final fact of basic import in the item is that the KRS stem is cognate with the same root that yields the word “cross.” The Karest in the mummy-case was a variant figure for the Christ on the cross, the deity in the kreas or flesh. It occurred to some symbologists some time and somewhere to adopt a variant spelling to set over the descending phase of divinity in the cyclical round against the reascending phase, in which the pilgrim soul was called the Christ. The term Chrest was adopted to designate the divine soul going down into the tomb of the mortal body; the Christ was that same soul emerging out of it, “on the eastern side of heaven, like a star.” As the Book of Ecclesiastes phrases it, this is almost certainly “the conclusion of the whole matter.”
In his History of the Christian Religion to the Year 200, Waite considers certain very old texts to have been basic for the three Synoptic Gospels, and says that these source books contain no evidence as to such matters as the miraculous conception, the physical resurrection, or the miracles. He points out also that the early Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, Ignatius and Polycarp make no mention of the miracles or the material resurrection. Indeed they make no reference to the Gospels or the Acts and produce no quotations from them save such as may have been picked up from extant collections of Logia. He comments on the account of Mary’s life given in the Protevangelium, her being given by the priests to the widower Joseph, then about eighty years old, with six children by a former wife.
As to the Vulgate the Catholic Encyclopedia (XII, p. 769) states that under Popes Sixtus V and Clement VIII the Latin Vulgate, after years of revision, attained its present shape. And says Wheless, this translation, which was fiercely denounced as fearfully corrupt, was only given sanction of divine inspiration by the Council of Trent in 1546, under the curse of God against any who questioned it. The tinkering with the text came after the Council, but the latter’s decree was not altered to conform to the amended rendering.
Irenaeus either misquotes Mark or the text has been made to differ from his wording in one place, for he says that Mark commences with a reference to the prophetic spirit, and that his is the Gospel of Jesus Christ “as it is written in Esaias the prophet.” Eusebius admits “fraud and dissimulation” in the handling of scripts.
Wheless says the proudest boast of the Church today with reference to its ex-Pagan Saint Augustine is that whenever a contradiction between his philosophy and the prescribed orthodox faith arose, “he never hesitates to subordinate his philosophy to religion, reason to faith.” (Cath. Ency., II, p. 86.) Augustine himself flaunts his mental servitude when he says: “I would not believe the Gospels to be true unless the authority of the Catholic Church constrained me.”
Gibbon adduces much reliable authority to indicate that even in such a matter of historical record as the number of their sectaries martyred in the persecutions under the several Roman Emperors, the Christians have outrageously falsified the figures. Gibbon’s pages should be read more generally, so that a saner view might be taken of this item of Christian claims, which have been grossly overstated to win the sympathy which martyrdom arouses.
Miss Holbrook asserts that “Of the 150,000 various readings which Griesbach found in the manuscripts of the New Testament, probably 149,500 were additions and interpolations. One of the Greek manuscripts called ‘Codex Bezal’ or ‘Cambridge Manuscript,’ is chiefly remarkable for its bold and extensive interpolations, amounting to some six hundred in the Acts alone.”
Gibbon has testified to the “vulgar forgery” of the insertion of the two admittedly spurious passages regarding Christos in the text of Josephus.
Alexander Wilder (Article on Evolution) says that
“such men as Irenaeus, Epiphanius and Eusebius have transmitted to posterity a reputation for such untruth and dishonest practices that the heart sickens at the story of the crimes of that period.” A commentator adds: “the more so, since the whole Christian scheme rests upon their sayings.”
It is quite possible – and lamentably so – that Massey’s bitter words are entirely sane and true, that the “Christian scheme (as it is aptly called) in the New Testament is a fraud, founded on a fable in the Old.”
There is a letter written by one of the most respected Fathers of the Church, St. Gregory of Nazianzen to Jerome, which reveals in pretty clear light the early Church’s policy of deception. Gregory wrote to his friend and confident, Jerome, as follows:
“Nothing can impose better on the people than verbiage; the less they understand, the more they admire. Our Fathers and Doctors have often said, not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity forced them to.”
Ominous indeed is Massey’s serious indictment of Christianity’s early duplicity in one of his lectures:
“And when Eusebius recorded his memorable boast that he had virtually made ‘all square’ for the Christians, it was an ominous announcement of what had been done to keep out of sight the mythical and mystical rootage of historic Christianity. The Gnostics had been muzzled and their extant evidence as far as possible masked. He and his co-conspirators had done their worst in destroying documents and effacing the tell-tale records of the past, to prevent the future from learning what the bygone ages could have said directly for themselves. They made dumb all Pagan voices that would have cried aloud their testimony against the unparalleled imposture then being perfected in Rome. They had almost reduced the first four centuries to silence on all matters of the most vital importance for any proper understanding of the true origins of the Christian superstition. The mythos having been at last published as a human history, everything else was suppressed or forced to support the fraud.”
A particularly sharp critic and accuser of Christianity is Alan Upward in The Divine Mystery. He states that in the interests of God and heaven “the theologians have laid their ban on all the sciences in turn, on the lore of the stars, of the rocks, of the atoms, of the frame of man, of his mind, of the Hebrew language and history, of Eastern history, of the history of life.” It must be confessed there is much gravamen in this indictment. A religion claiming to be the supremely true one should assuredly have possessed the basic data and correct knowledge which would have enabled it to pronounce unerringly upon every department of truth, in every branch of science. Yet no organic system has ever been found to be so atrociously in error in every arena of knowledge. Outside its own chamber-room of hypnotized faith it has stood for long periods as the enemy of truth in every empirical realm. Truth has had to batter its way through the serried array of ecclesiastical fanaticism, ignorance and stubborn bigotry over long centuries. Truth has never been its chief and primary concern or objective. Instead, it has aimed at psychologization and regimentation of the masses, and to this end it has ruthlessly swept aside all the formulations of intelligence which would have hindered the easy achievement of its goal. Besides fighting every science it has wrecked the splendid temple of ancient mythology and closed the doors of the schools of esoteric truth, and kept them closed to this day. It is with regret that one has to agree with Upward in his stinging accusation against the religion of one’s childhood: “Falsehood is found in every religion, but only in the Catholic Christianity is it the foundation of religion.” And Upward points to the fact that since with each fresh discovery of truth in scientific fields the cry goes up all over Christendom that science has uprooted the bases of religion, this is sure evidence that a religion resting so far off the center of verihood that every new factual discovery shakes it to its fall, can not be a true or safe religion. A faith that hangs constantly so precariously that the snapping of a single strand in the rope will send it crashing, can not be stabilized in truth.
THROES OF A BAD CONSCIENCE
It is accounted an evil cause that must support itself by violence and destruction. Unhappily this is the case with Christianity after the third century. Repressed and harassed for about three centuries by popular disapproval and the regnant power, when at last it came into favor and security and a measure of power of its own, the Church of Christ at once let loose the fury of its own virulent passion against every group that would not bend to its narrow and fanatical orthodoxy. It then began its long and almost uninterrupted career of persecution, to its eternal infamy. Because they have been forgotten and largely denied, the interests of truth call for a brief restatement of the facts of ecclesiastical vandalism. It is an integral part of the case here advocated, along with the literary forgeries, tampering with sacred texts and the vitiation of the ancient wisdom on every hand.
Massey well outlines the drift of things from the time that ignorance overwhelmed the Christian movement, cast out the uncomprehended Gnosis, and then resorted to measures of violence to cut all links of connection between their doctrines and antecedent pagan religions. Innocent at first of any knowledge of the derivation of their doctrines from reviled sources in heathenism, great was the surprise and resentment of the Christian devotees when little by little evidence leaked out of the startling and complete identities of their ideas and forms with the material of despised former cults. Hotly indignant, the astonished and desperate votaries of the new faith had to find some way to blot out the tell-tale evidences. So the orgy of destruction set in. There are instances close at hand in our own day to enforce upon our minds the futility and the despicableness of the gesture of burning hated books and exiling their authors. Some of this ignominy can be passed back upon the Christian partisans of the early centuries, when the hot fury of fanatical zeal set fire to libraries of the most precious and irreplaceable books in the world. A fact so well known in history as the burning of the Alexandrian library by Christian mobs need not be dilated upon here. It has not, however, been deeply enough stamped upon general intelligence that this vandal deed was probably the enabling cause of the incidence of fifteen centuries of the Dark Ages, and the postponement of the Renaissance to the latter half of that period. The destruction of a library then meant infinitely more than it would mean today, printing not being extant at the time. It is surely not an unfounded claim to say that the flames of those burning books threw not a light but a murky lurid smoke and smudge over the mind of medieval Europe. The evil consequences are still running their course. The destruction of the Alexandrian library is the main indictment in the bill of vandalism, but there are others not so well known.
The severe charge is made by Higgins (Anac., p. 564) that many of the early Christians of the fourth and fifth centuries in their “fanatical excitement” became Carmelite monks and founded a secret corresponding society, meeting mostly at night. (Night meetings violated Roman law and were in large measure the reason for the persecutions.) The heads of this order, says Higgins, had enough power to correct or destroy at pleasure any Gospel in the world not preserved by the “heretics.” This, he avers, is the reason why we have no MSS. older than those of the sixth century. This order’s detestation of the “heathen” books was of the deepest virulence, and the fires of their hatred turned into physical flames first at Antioch, as described in Acts, and, says Higgins, were repeatedly rekindled by a succession of councils up to the last canon of the Council of Trent against heathen learning. They sequestered many books for their later destruction. “Here we have the cause, and almost the sole cause, which effected the darkness of the world for many generations.”
Higgins relates (p. 565) that St. Gregory is said by John of Salisbury to have burnt the imperial library of the Apollo. (Forsythe’s Travels, p. 134.)
The Victor Tunensis, already mentioned, was, according to Higgins and Lardner, the agent of considerable destruction of Gospels about the sixth century, and probably by order of the Emperor Anastasius at Constantinople.
Some twenty-four volumes of the works of the great Gnostic philosopher Basilides, – extolled so highly by Clement of Alexandria – his splendid Interpretations Upon the Gospels, were all burned by order of the Church, Eusebius tells us. These works alone might have changed the course of Western history into pleasanter channels than those of bigotry and slaughter. Several writers affirm that, what with generations of the most active Church Fathers working assiduously at the destruction of old documents and the preparation of new passages to be interpolated in those which happened to survive, there remains of the noble Gnostic literature, the legitimate offspring of the genuine archaic wisdom, nothing but the Pistis Sophia and some few scattered fragments, precious, however, for the hints they give of the mighty treasure lost.
Mead is authority for the reported burning of the manuscripts of French Rabbis by the Inquisition. He says that for one thousand years the Christian authorities hurled all kinds of bulls, anathemas and edicts of confiscation and conflagration against the Talmud. He cites, too, the vandal acts of the fanatical Crusaders, who left smoldering piles of Hebrew scrolls behind them in their path of blood and fire. Official burnings of Hebrew books began at Montpellier in 1233, where a Jew, an Anti-Maimonist, persuaded the Dominicans and Franciscans of the Inquisition, likely unaware of the purely internal conflict between exotericism and esotericism in Jewry, to commit to the flames all the works of Maimonides. In the same year at Paris some twelve thousand volumes of the Talmud were burned, and in 1244 eighteen thousand various works were fed to the flames.
The story of the destruction, not only of books, but of cities, monasteries and temples, of the early pre-Christian Gaelic civilization in Britain, Ireland, Brittany and Gaul, is a sorry narrative of Christian fury. A Christian mob destroyed the city of Bibractis in 389 in Gaul, and Alesia was destroyed before that. Bibractis had a sacred college of the Druids with forty thousand students, giving courses in philosophy, literature, grammar, jurisprudence, medicine, astrology, architecture and esoteric religion. Arles, founded 2000 years before Christ, was sacked in 270 A.D.
A statement in Westrop and Wake’s Phallism in Ancient Religions charges Cardinal Ximenes with having burned the old Arabic manuscripts. And Draper shows that the same Ximenes “delivered to the flames in the squares of Granada eighty thousand Arabic manuscripts, among them translations of the classical authors.” Wilder states that thirty-six volumes written by Porphyry were destroyed by the Fathers.
A candid and unbiased witness is Edward Carpenter, English philosopher, who, in Pagan and Christian Creeds (p. 204), speaks bluntly of Christian practices:
“The Christian writers, as time went on, not only introduced new doctrines, legends, miracles and so forth – most of which we can trace to antecedent pagan sources – but they took pains to destroy the pagan records and so obliterate the evidence of their own dishonesty.”
J.M. Robertson (Pagan Christs, p. 325) writes that of certain books mentioned “every one of these has been destroyed by the care of the Church.” The treatise of Firmucus has been mutilated at a passage where he has accused the Christians of following Mithraic usages.
. . . . . . .
The invidious task of mustering a large body of such evidence as this would seem to have been well enough performed with what has been given. But another sizable segment of data remains to be put on record, not at all with the mere aim of heaping disrepute on the dominant religion of the West, but for the purpose of adding convincing reality to the claims here advanced that the Christian system early suffered such deterioration as to make both possible and understandable the catastrophic changes alleged herein. The first reaction on the part of non-studious folks in the Christian faith will undoubtedly be the feeling that a group of people so sanctified by piety and holy faith as the early Christians are commonly reputed to have been, could not have perpetrated the crimes against intelligence and righteousness which this work lays at their door. It remains to be shown, then, that the picture of elevated holiness traditionally painted of the primitive Christians has been colored with unduly bright hues.
On the side of philosophy and religion as an intellectual enterprise Mead has most accurately and faithfully, as well as without undue bias, presented the true picture of the situation in primitive Christianity. In his Fragments of a Faith Forgotten he analyzes the effect of the sudden “throwing open” of the secret esoteric wisdom to the untutored populace, and describes the effect of the blinding new light on the masses. He asserts that the adherents of the new religion professed to “throw open everything” to common view, and the procedure left the unprepared rabble dazed by a sudden flashing of light they could not comprehend. The upshot was that they were thrown into a fever of excitement and emotional frenzy, similar in kind, though greater in degree, to the ferment created by every other marked preachment of new and sensational doctrines in religion. The sage custodians of deep spiritual truth were well instructed and supported by astute knowledge of human nature in their policy of esoteric secrecy. They had been well counseled to this posture by witnessing the inordinate emotional upheaval set in ferment by every untimely release of the dynamic psychological potency of great truths imperfectly comprehended and unsteadied by knowledge. The phenomenon is so glaringly exemplified before our eyes in this day that Mead’s words should strike us with singular force:
“The ‘many’ had begun to play with psychic and spiritual forces let loose from the Mysteries, and the ‘many’ went mad for a time and have not yet regained their sanity.”
The bold affirmation is here made that this comes closer to being the true analysis of the motivation and expression of the forces that made Christianity the religion it was and gave it its distinctive character and direction than any other estimate advanced over the centuries. We have before us at this present so exactly similar a situation in the ferment of extreme and fanatical ideologies exhibited by a host of modern “spiritual” cults of many varieties that there should be little difficulty in our seeing the obvious correctness of Mead’s analysis. It is the very charge resounding from hundreds of pulpits today, that thousands of semi-intelligent people are playing with psychic, “spiritual” and “occult” forces which, if coaxed into untimely function without competent philosophical acumen, can prove most perilous to sanity and balance. This can be seen and possibly readily admitted by the clergy. What the clergy will not so readily admit, however, is that its own primitive Christianity (after the fatal third century, at any rate) was as errant, wild and misguided a fanaticism as that of the contemporary cults. It was not so as long as it held on to the philosophy and the esoteric Gnosis of the precedent Mysteries. It became such the moment it destroyed the Mysteries, let down the disciplinary safeguards and “threw open everything” sacred and profound to the impious hands of the gullible masses. The idiotic fervor of piety unbalanced by the intelligence requisite to hold it in line with restraint, swept Christianity out of the channels of sanity into the maelstrom of one of the most rabid of all religious ferments in history, and from that into currents that have borne it forward along courses of violence, bigotry and inhumanity almost beyond belief.
In the same work Mead portrays the situation that ensues when a strong ferment brews among the populace, and a new order is instituted following the sweeping away of old barriers. This, too, can have direct relevance and instruction for the world today. He says the new order gives rise at the same time to a wild intolerance, a glorification of ignorance, a wholesale condemnation of intelligent conservatism, and generally causes a social upheaval which is taken to be the divine expression of a new freedom. Always the peculiar mark of this new freedom is that it shortly becomes as dogmatic as the old oppression. Every one of these stages was manifest in the popular revolt against the conservative aristocracy of intellect in religion which from the third century swept Christianity into the role and spirit of an anti-cultural faith. Such would inevitably be the case when the predominantly mystical and emotional types of religion gain the field against the predominantly intellectual and philosophical strains. Early Gnostic and Pauline Greek Christianity were of the latter strain; orthodox Christianity, mostly Petrine after the third century, was of the former type. This is primarily all that is required as datum to qualify a perfectly clear and correct evaluation of the genius of the movement that founded Christianity. With this view as guide and gauge, there should now be made a thorough re-study of the genesis of Christianity. It would be a most illuminating revelation of what perils are generated the moment reason yields the ground to faith in religion, when piety is not balanced by rational elements, or, in broad sense, when philosophy gives place to religion. Mead ends his treatment of the point with the epigrammatic threnody, “Greek rationalism was lost; symbolism was lost.” Indicating the truth of both the fact and its significance may be cited Tertullian’s brief announcement that “when one has once believed, search should cease.”
On the State of the Church is the title of a treatise written by St. Cyprian just before the Decian persecution. He admits in it that “there was no true devotion in the priests” . . . that the simple were deluded and the brethren circumvented by craft and fraud. Also he declares that great numbers of the Bishops were eager only to heap up money, to seize people’s lands by treachery and fraud and to increase their stock by exorbitant usury. (Quoted by Middleton, Free Inquiry.)
The Catholic Encyclopedia (I, p. 555) may be cited to the effect that even in the fourth century St. John Chrysostom testifies to the decline in fervor in the Christian family and contends that it was no longer possible for children to obtain proper religious and moral training in their own homes. The Encyclopedia adds at another place (VIII, p. 426): “The Lateran was spoken of as a brothel and the moral corruption of Rome became the subject of general odium.” Practically in every century nearly every large city in Christendom has been charged with harboring vice and moral and political corruption till the odium mounted to scandal. Yet alongside of this record and its own admissions of rottenness in Christian lands and even in the Church itself, this authority (III, p. 34) boasts that “the wonderful efficacy displayed by the religion of Christ in purifying the morals of Europe has no parallel.” Vaunting that “the Church was the guide of the western nations from the close of the seventh century to the beginning of the sixteenth,” it can be quoted with a string of admissions such as that on VII, p. 387: – “At the beginning of the Reformation the condition of the clergy and consequently of the people was a very sad one . . . the unfortunate state of the clergy . . . their corrupt morals” – that openly belie the validity of the claim. It itself pronounces the Middle Ages, “of all human epochs, an age of terrible corruption and social decadence.” “From the fourth century onward . . . the Agapae gave rise to flagrant and intolerable abuses.” It describes the Agapetae as virgins who consecrated themselves to God with a vow of chastity and associated with laymen who like themselves had taken a vow of chastity. “It resulted in abuses and scandals.” Jerome arraigns Syrian monks for living in cities with Christian virgins. These Agapetae are sometimes confounded with the Subintroductae or women who lived with clerics without marriage, says the Encyclopedia (I, p. 202).
Even Eusebius refuses to record the dissensions and follies which were rife among the many factions before the Diocletian persecution (Eccl. Hist., Bk. 8, Ch. 2). He delineates the unshepherdly character of the shepherds of flocks, “condemned by divine justice as unworthy of such a charge,” their ambitious aspirations for office and the injudicious and unlawful ordinations that take place, the divisions among the confessors themselves, the great schisms industriously fomented by factions, heaping affliction upon affliction, – “all these I have resolved to pass by.”
Catholic Encyclopedia says (VI, p. 793) that at the time of Gregory VII’s elevation to the papacy “the Christian world was in a deplorable condition.” Doctrinal controversy waxed bitter to the point at times of physical combat, especially, says the Encyclopedia (I, p. 191), in North Africa. “One act of violence followed another and begot new conflicts. . . . Crimes of all kinds made Africa one of the most wretched provinces in the world.”
Lundy says that the Arian and orthodox factions fought in the streets and in the churches with such fierce animosity that on one occasion one hundred and thirty-seven dead bodies were found in one of the basilicas (Animianus Marcellinus, lib. XXVII, iii, p. 392). Doctrinal controversy waxed so fierce that it gave rise to the phrase “Odium Theologicum” expressed by one writer in the sentence, “Hell hath no fury like an offended saint.” This had been previously matched by the Emperor Julian’s characterization: “There is no wild beast like an angry theologian.”
The Encyclopedia portrays elaborately the “general debasement” which the Church shared with the times. It was worst in the tenth century. Simony and clerical incontinence were the two great evils descanted upon. “Many had lost all sense of Christian ideals.” Says the Encyclopedia, with more truth than it suspected, no doubt, “the accumulated wisdom of the past was in danger of perishing.” In controversion of the general claim of the Church that in the night of the Dark Ages it was the monasteries and cloisters of Christianity that preserved the ancient classics, we may cite Wheless’ sentence: “We shall see that every scrap of Greek and Latin learning which, after twelve centuries, slowly filtered into Christendom, came from the hated Arabs, through the more hated Jews, after Christian contact with civilization through the Crusades.” And the Encyclopedia testifies to the fact of sinister force in admitting that even when the development of Scholasticism brought the revival of Greek philosophy, particularly that of Aristotle, “it also meant that philosophy was now to serve the cause of Christian truth.” The same force of obscurantism that ten or twelve centuries earlier had blotted out the world’s accumulated spiritual light was now upon its return ready to diffract the pure rays of that light into colors of its own composition by passing them through the medium of that dark glass of perpetuated dogmatism and entrenched ignorance that had extinguished it in the first instance. The same obfuscation of intellect that had put out the light a thousand years before was still at hand to distort its pure gleam when it shone again.
The Encyclopedia speaks (XII, p. 765) of “a revival of learning as soon as the West was capable of it” – after being under Christian tutelage for a thousand years.
At a moment when the conscience of cultured people everywhere is horrified at the savage atrocities of a nation diabolically committed to violence, it might be well to remind those on the side of Christian resentment against “pagan” barbarity, that when the Christian Crusaders entered Jerusalem from all sides on July 15, 1099, they slew its inhabitants regardless of age or sex, while Saladin committed no act of outrage.
J. E. Ellam, in his Buddhism and Modern Thought (p. 140), puts in brief compass and strong terms the degradation of Europe under Christianity:
“Yet the moral level of Europe was lower than that of any savages of whom we have record. Its barbarities and cruelties, its vices and brutality, would have scandalized even Dahomey and Benin. Cyril of Alexandria has a lurid description of the vices even of his own followers. Augustine says much the same of ‘the faithful’ in Roman Africa. Silvianus, a priest of the fifth century, writes: ‘Besides a very few who avoid evil, what is almost the whole body of Christians but a sink of iniquity? How many in the Church will you find that are not drunkards, or adulterers, or fornicators, or gamblers, or robbers, or murderers, – or all together?’” (Silvianus: On the Providence of God, III, 9.)
Lundy (Monumental Christianity, p. 353) speaks of the licentiousness in connection with the Agapae or “love-feasts” held in the Christian congregations –
“When in the fourth century . . . the Church, from the necessity of the case, substituted these Agapae for some of the pagan festivities the abuse became so great that the Council of Laodicea forbade their celebration altogether in the churches.” Its Canon XXVIII enacts that “it is not permitted to hold love-feats, as they are called, in the Lord’s houses, or in church assemblies, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of the Lord.”
Lundy states, however, that they were such a scandal to the Christian name by reason of the drunkenness and licentiousness practiced that entire suppression was the final resort.
“But so popular were these festivals among the poor and ignorant classes of the Christian community, such a strong hold had they obtained in their hearts and lives that it was an exceeding difficult matter to suppress them.”
They could still be held in private homes and in cemeteries “and were so held for three centuries longer.” They were not suppressed until the seventh century, when the Trullian or Quinisext Council took them in hand.
Paulinus, the good Bishop of Nola, laments that these festivities were carried on during the entire night.
“How I wish,” he says in the Ninth Hymn to Felix, “that their joys would assume a more sober character; that they would not mix their cups on holy ground. Yet I think we must not be too severe on the pleasures of their little feasts: for error creeps into unlearned minds; and their simplicity, unconscious of the great fault they commit, verges on piety, supposing that the saints are gratified by the wine poured upon their tombs.”
The good Bishop’s sad confession that error creeps into unlearned minds is one of the bluntest massive truths confronting humanity. It is also one of the most vital factors involved in the entire history of the Christian religion. Admitted by everybody, it would seem as if, therefore, the very first article in the constitution of a great religion would be to spread honest learning as widely and as deeply as possible.
Lundy sententiously summarizes the situation in the Church, saying (p. 107) that
“Christian doctrine, Christian morals and Christian art degenerated together, and it is called development!” So he can say: “All this is but a repetition of the degeneracy and the debasement of the old Patriarchal faith into Pagan idolatry: of simple truths, as taught by symbols perverted into falsehood by images and idols.”
It is hardly necessary to inject the correction of his last statement, that it was not the images and idols that perverted truth, but the failure to go behind those symbols to the sublime meaning now known to be covered by them.
Mead assembles evidence to indicate that the lasciviousness of the Agapae can not be charged against people of such refinement and philosophical acumen as the Gnostics, though Clement does bring the charge against them; but thinks it probable that some cults calling themselves Christians did confuse the Agapae and love-feasts of the times with the orgies and feasts of the ignorant populace. “The Pagans brought these accusations against the Christians, and the Christian sects against one another.”
The volume of accusation and supporting data could be heaped up to hundreds of pages. The modest quantity, gathered in desultory reading, here presented is sufficient to carry home the point that flagrant deterioration had taken hold of the Christian movement on a vast scale, and, since things have their causes, something must have occurred in the movement that for two and a half to three centuries manifested high intelligence and moral purity to reduce it so suddenly to corruption and barbarity. This cause, it is contended, as far as it was an influence detached from exterior economic, political and social conditions, was the loss of the esoteric wisdom, philosophical culture and the whole intellectual side of religion, induced by and further inducing the popular submergence of minority intelligence by majority ignorance. The direct relevance to our theme of this fateful shift from philosophical rationalism to massive irrational pietism is found in the reflection that such a vast transformation in outward life and thought was the evidence of another equally drastic change in basic understanding. The larger and more manifest changes in outward life must spring from significant changes in inner consciousness. That inner change was in major part just that shift from symbolic and allegorical esotericism over to historical literalism, the chief item of which was the mistaking of the Christos for a man of flesh.
As this work is not an attack on Christianity, it must be emphasized that the data here presented reflecting adversely on the name and record of that religion have been given purely for the sake of buttressing the leading argument with the support it gains from its setting in a true, instead of a warped, view of past history. The argument would lose some of its legitimate force if permitted to stand in the poorer light of a history that has been, at any rate to common intelligence, grossly distorted by pious misinterpretation, suppression of honest facts, vandalism and juggling of every sort. The aim has been a purely academic or dialectic one, to show that the loss of high knowledge, the historization of myths and dramas, the literalization of the Gospels, the conversion of the personae of the great universal ritual into living persons, the lethal sweep of ignorance and the ensuing degradation and debasement of the whole movement from the interior heat of theological doctrine clear out to the periphery of moral social conduct, were all wholly necessary and consistent elements of the one completed picture. If history can not be brought into court to support a thesis, point a moral or furnish evidence in straightforward truth-seeking, it is studied to little good purpose. We therefore cite the portions of history that bear with very direct cogency upon the great question under investigation.
SUBLIME MYTH MAKES GROTESQUE HISTORY
No single volume could undertake the full task of establishing the fact of the conversion of allegory, myth and drama into “history,” but the case has been presented in outline with enough evidence to render it a substantial claim. The stage is now ready for the introduction of the main evidence to validate the further claim that the events taken for the alleged historical narrative of Old and New Testament literature are not and never were occurrences on the plane of objective reality. The case now proceeds directly to the submission of the testimony which proves that the whole web of Gospel history was woven by ignorant assumption out of the traditional material of the rite and the myth.
It is quite possible that with so much of the evidence destroyed, full and final “proof” of the actual change of meaning can never be presented, or that material will never be found that will pin the offense on the actual culprits or show them in the actual work of making the change. There were no lie-detectors, wall-recorders or hidden cameras available to catch the manipulators at work. The change came first in the minds of the theologians and the people and only later carried out its implications in the alteration of texts and the “correction” of manuscripts. But in the pages ahead so much of the evidence that may be considered as “proof” of the general change on this score will be adduced as the scope of the volume will permit. Again a great quantity is available, and that from rather haphazard reading. A systematic search would uncover whole volumes more. Again much of the data is furnished by Massey and Higgins. It may be claimed that too much reliance is being placed upon the findings of these two delvers into the past, and that their views are prejudiced. We demur to the objection. Both gave their lives to extensive research in the field of ancient religion, both were honest in appraising the value of material and both were to the highest degree sincere in their single aim of finding what was the truth. If they were eventually disposed to a sharply critical view of Christianity, it came directly as the result of what they discovered in the history of that religion. Their hostility was engendered by the force of repellent facts brought to light in their studies, and was not the operation of a merely sectarian prejudice. No more than the present writer did they begin their investigations with a preconceived enmity to Christianity. They probably held no positive enmity against it at any time; they simply wished the world to know the actual truth about it and its history. At any rate they align their judgments and conclusions with the facts and the evidence, and their work must be judged on the basis of its agreement with the data and its competence to meet the demands of exegetical proof, as that of any other scholars. Their testimony is presented here because they saw with clearest vision and described with singular lucidity the pertinent truth in scores of situations in which a clear view has never been had before. A subsidiary aim of this study is to vindicate in the main their important findings in their field. This aim would include also Thomas Taylor in the field of Greek translation and exegesis.
It seems best to begin with what might be generally called circumstantial evidence, and then proceed to more redoubtable testimony. Every item submitted will bear more or less directly upon the case for the non-historicity of the Gospels and their characters.
It is not necessarily true that the workability of a thesis proves its correctness. But if the thesis for the historicity of Jesus piles up great difficulties and obstacles in the way of its acceptance, and that for the non-historicity clears them away, it is a major presumptive evidence that the successful and consistently workable thesis is the correct one. This broad observation will serve to introduce a series of depositions from our scholar Gerald Massey, which, at the risk of some prolixity, it seems eminently desirable to array here. They are of themselves matter of intrinsic value and bear down on our case with most pointed appositeness. Almost alone of Egyptologists this student discerned the chief elements in the great significance of Egypt’s lore of wisdom, and therefore had at his service a key by which he could penetrate more deeply into the heart of the Egyptian, Greek and Hebrew systems of religion. His pronouncements and judgments are deemed of especial value because they publish vital truths missed by all the other investigators of the literature of old.
Massey portrays the Egyptian origin and background of the Christian theology and finds it non-historical (The Natural Genesis, I, p. 479):
“Egypt labored at the portrait (of the Christ) for thousands of years before the Greeks added their finishing touches to the type of the ever-youthful solar god. It was Egypt that first made the statue live with her own life and humanized her ideal of the divine. Here was the legend of supreme pity and self-sacrifice so often told of the canonical Christ. She related how the god did leave the courts of heaven and come down as a little child, the infant Horus, born of the Virgin, through whom he took flesh, or descended into matter, ‘crossed the earth as a substitute’ (Ritual, Ch. xlviii), descended into Hades as vivifier of the dead, their vicarious justifier and redeemer, the first fruits and leader of the resurrection into eternal life. The Christian legends were first related of Horus or Osiris, who was the embodiment of divine goodness, wisdom, truth and purity; who personated ideal perfection in each sphere of manifestation and every phase of power. This was the greatest hero that ever lived in the mind of man – not in the flesh – to influence with transforming force; the only hero to whom the miracles were natural because he was not human.
“The so-called miracles of Jesus were not only impossible on human grounds; they are historically impossible because they were pre-extant as mythical representations which were made on grounds that were entirely non-human, in the drama of the Mysteries that was as non-historical as the Christmas pantomime. The miracles ascribed to Jesus on earth had been pre-Christian religion. Horus, whose other name is Jesus, is the performer of ‘miracles’ which are repeated in the Gospels, and which were first performed as mysteries in the divine nether world. But if Horus or Iusa be made human on earth, as a Jew in Judea, we are suddenly hemmed in by the miraculous at the center of a maze with nothing antecedent for a clue; no path that leads to the heart of the mystery and no visible means of exit therefrom. With the introduction of the human personage on mundane ground, the mythical inevitably becomes the miraculous; you cannot have history without it; thus the history was founded on the miracles, which were perversions of the mythology that was provably pre-extant.”
This is a clear and succinct picture of the truth on the point – except, as has been indicated in our previous work, The Lost Light, that Massey erred in the matter of the mislocation of the nether world, or underworld, of mythology, the Amenta of Egyptian texts. He thought that the Christians erred in mistaking the “earth” of Amenta for this mundane realm and in transplanting the spiritual Christos from this celestial “earth” to the real earth, thereby euhemerizing and falsely historicizing him. In aiming to correct their arrant blunder, he keeps the Christos entirely away from earth, and applies the Christly legend to the “other earth” of Amenta, located somewhere in spiritual spheres. Thus, while Massey retains the Christos as a spiritual entity only, or an element of consciousness, which is assuredly his true character, he in turn errs by keeping him away from earth and the life of man in his supposititious “other earth” of Amenta. The Christos is a real entity and he is spiritual in nature, but he is on earth and in man, yet neither a man on earth (the Christian mistake), nor a spirit in any other earth than this only one we know (Massey’s error). The Lost Light has at great length established the truth that Amenta, the underworld of mythology, Hades, is this good earth, where the Christos, a principle and not a man, but at the same time the god in man, performs all the miracles that, as Massey truly represents, were typical allegories in the myth, but were made into miracles in the Gospels when ignorance dragged symbology over into “history.” To sum up, the Christians said the Christ was a man on earth in history. Massey says that the Christ was not a man at all, nor was he on earth or in history. He was, instead, the Christ in man, who after death descended into the gloomy Amenta as a shade, and there worked the miracles of healing and implemented the judgment and the resurrection. Massey’s mistake was in saying he was not on earth. He was on earth, operating during the life, not after the death, of men, only not as a man, but as a principle of righteousness, in man. The previous work has demonstrated that the ancient theologists called this life “death” (the death of the soul, buried in sense), called mortals “the dead,” and by their name Amenta they designated no other region than this nether world which we know as earth. The reorientation of the meanings of these three or four names is pretty nearly the whole clue to the proper interpretation of the scriptures of antiquity. It will be necessary to keep this correction in mind in reading further cullings from Massey’s works. It vitiates his main conclusions, but does not destroy the value of his findings with regard to the conversion of myth into history.
A great enlightenment floods the mind from the vast truth couched in the following brief passage from his great work, Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World (p. 77):
“When it is conclusively proved that the Christian miracles are nothing more than the pagan mode of symbolical representation literalized, there is no longer any question of contravening, or breaking, or even challenging any well-known laws of nature. The discussion as to the probability or possibility of miracle on the old grounds of belief and doubt it closed forever.”
This indeed is a welcome closure of debate, for few things have so sorely perplexed the reasoning mind and taxed the religious faith of mankind as the alleged “miracles” of Jesus in the Gospels. Whatever militates to break man’s utter faith in and reliance upon the invariability of natural law, by so much disintegrates his position of stability in the world, undermines his bases of constancy in conduct and corrodes his entire ground of moral conscience. It tends to reduce his cosmos to a chaos, if the laws of life can be abrogated at any time by a fiat of arbitrary whimsicality, however “good.” The philosopher David Hume has written a treatise that lays forever the ghost of “miracles” with impregnable logic: if an event occurs it does so by and through the operation of law and not in contravention of it. There can be no such thing as a “miracle” of the kind believed in by common uncritical religious faith.”
The mind of man will be doubly safeguarded against invasion from the side of irrationalism if Massey’s golden theological discovery is correct, – that the miracles are only literalized spiritual myths, and never objectively happened. It is the natural law that works no end of miracles, that is, things to make man wonder, such as the rain, the snow, the dew, fire, water, green leaf, bud, flower, seed, death and life from death ever renewed. The Christian introduction of the cult of the “supernatural” into current untutored thought has come closer to unsettling the normal sanity of the world mind and making gullible fools out of millions than any other influence known to history. What the “miracles” – before they were historicized – meant to ancient sapiency was just the truly wonder-working power of the Christ in man to transfigure mortal life and the very bodies of mortals on earth with divine health and beauty. And this knowledge and this conception is worth infinitely more than the physical “healing” by a touch from outside having nothing to do with the beneficiary’s own deserts or his own inner divinity, and therefore meaningless. The “healing” of five thousand men and women on any hillside or lakeside in Palestine two thousand years ago is an event of no significance compared with the universal understanding of the immanent Christ’s power to heal all men by his divine ferment. Religion badly needs a totally new orientation to this reputed matter of “healing.” If people can for long periods violate the laws of life, particularly those connected with food and diet, become gravely ill and then run to a healer or a healing philosophy and be “made whole” by alleged divine power without reference to their demerit or their deserts under the law of life and in contravention of evolutionary justice, chaos will be introduced into the counsels of creation. In fact, the popular religious notions that have made “healing” almost the prime credential of the authenticity of any religious movement, is itself almost wholly grounded on a contempt for natural law. This has gone so far in modern “spiritual” cultism that one strong group has flaunted as one of its banners the outright shiboleth that “the laws of nature are the vaporings of mortal mind.” It must basically be assumed that if “spiritual law” in some measure transcends natural law, it does so by fulfilling and consummating it, not by negating it. It is unquestionable that spiritual law bends natural forces to its purposes, as man uses a machine or soul uses body; but it does not disregard the natural energies which it uses any more than the user can disregard the laws of his machine or his body. In this field the vogue of “miracles” has wrought havoc with general sanity. Massey’s fine discernment that saw first and clearly in modern times that the “miracles” of “Jesus” were Egyptian mythical rescripts falsely turned into “history,” at one stroke robs the Gospel “wonders” of their fictitious value, while restoring to us their real value as dramatic mysteries, and his work in this item puts us under vast obligation to him and to the integrity of his mind and motive. It is this obligation that urges the inclusion of so much of his material in this work.
He writes that no Egyptologist has ever dreamed that the Ritual – the Book of the Dead – still exists in Christian formulations, under the disguise of both the Gnostic and the canonical Gospels, or that it was the fountain-head of all the books of wisdom claimed to be divine. But no initiate in the Osirian Mysteries could possibly have rested his hope of salvation “on the Galilean line of glory,” which made individual in one “man” what was spiritually attainable by all. Egypt possessed the knowledge that a kingly power of consciousness had become a voluntary immolation on the altar of sense and fleshly body, in a passion of divinest pity became incarnate, put itself “under the law” of sin and “death” for the salvation of the world; but this knowledge did not run out in futile nonsense in the belief that God had manifested once for all as a historic personality. The same legend of divine sons sacrificing their heavenly birthright for humankind was repeated in many lands with a change of name for the empyreal sufferer, but none of those initiated in the esoteric wisdom ever looked upon Iusa, or Horus, Jesus, Tammuz, Krishna, Buddha, Witoba, Marduk, Mithra, Sabazius, Adonis or any other of the many Saviors as historical in personality, “for the simple reason that they had been more truly taught.” (Massey.)
The first “gospel” of the Christians “began with a collection of Sayings of Jesus, fatuously supposed to have been a historical teacher of that name,” Massey avers. In some “New Sayings of Jesus” found at Oxyrhynchus, utterances of “Jesus” paralleling those found in the Ritual of remote Egyptian times are to be read.
In a lecture entitled The Logia of the Lord, or Prehistoric Sayings Ascribed to Jesus the Christ, Massey sets forth many vital data. Never, he says, were mortals more perplexed, bewildered and taken aback than were the Christians of the second, third and fourth centuries, who had started their own new beginning, warranted to be solely historic, and then found that an apparition of their faith was following them one way and meeting them in another. This “double” of their faith was obviously not founded on their alleged facts which stood as the base of their original religion, but were ages earlier in the world. It was a shadow that threatened to steal away the body of their substance, mocking them with its factual unreality – a hollow ghost of the same truths they had embraced as a solid possession. It was horrible, devilish. Nothing but the work of the devil could explain the haunting phantom. The Gnostic Ante-Christ had to be made their Anti-Christ. The pre-Christian Gnostics and some of the primitive Christian sects had a Christ who was not based on the person of the living Jesus! One and all had as their divine figure the mystical Christ of the Gnosis and the mythical Messiah, the Ever-Coming One, the type of divine selfhood, manifesting collectively and spiritually in the evolution of the race. Historic Christianity can furnish no explanation why the “biography” of its personal founder should have been held back for several centuries (and strangely the same nearly two centuries elapsed before the books on Buddha’s life were circulated); why the facts of its own origin should have been kept (and still are kept) in obscurity; why there should have been no authorized record made known earlier. The conversion of the myths and the Docetic (mystical) doctrines of the Gnosis into human history will alone account for these facts. The singular thing is, points out Massey, that the earliest Gospels are the farthest removed from the supposed human history! That came last and, he affirms, only when the spiritual Christ of the Gnosis had been rendered concrete in the density of Christian miscalculation! Christianity began as Gnosticism, and continued by means of a conversion and perversion that were opposed in vain by Paul. The Mysteries of Gnosticism were perpetuated as Christian, but with a difference, a complete change of character and identity, as interpretation shifted from the mystical to the historical plane. The first Christians based their cult system on secret doctrines whose inner sense was only explained to Initiates during a long course of discipline and study. (Mosheim and other historians testify abundantly to the existence of the Greater and the Lesser Mysteries in the primitive Christian Church.) These secret teachings were never to be divulged or promulgated, and they were not publicized until the ignorant belief in historical Christianity had taken permanent root. We are told how it was held by some that the Apocrypha might only be read by those who were “perfected” in the deeper Mysteries, and that these writings were reserved exclusively for Christian adepts. It must be obvious that the doctrine or knowledge that was forced to be kept so sacredly secret could have had no reference to personal human history that was broadcast to all, or to the teachings of that literal Christianity that boasted so simple an origin. The Greater and even the Lesser Mysteries of Christianity must have dealt with subjects that lay far over in the realm of esoteric truth, having little connection with the outer story in the Gospels. There is bluntly nothing to be esoteric or mysterious about in the direct narrative of Gospel Christianity. If the early Church had its higher Mysteries it is certain that they were of the same general nature as those of pagan Greece and Egypt. Nobody, says Justin Martyr, is permitted to partake of the Eucharist “unless he has accepted as true that which is taught by us,” and unless he received the bread and wine as the very flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. In this we can see the “sarkolatrae” or worshippers of a Christ of the flesh fighting against the spiritual Christ of the Gnostics. There were many sects of so-called Christians and various versions of the nature of the Christ, Kronian or astronomical, mythical and mystical. But the Church of Rome could not escape the evidences that its foundations and ceremonies were drawn from Egypt; the Virgin Mother, the Son, the gods of Egypt were sealed up in the very corner-stone of the Church; the haunting ghost was in the Church itself.
And according to the unquestioned tradition of the Christian Fathers, which has always been accepted by the Church, the primary nucleus of the canonical Gospels was not a life of Jesus at all, but a collection of Logia or Sayings, the Logia Kuriaka, which were written down in Hebrew or Aramaic by one Matthew, as the scribe of the Lord. We have already glanced at the suggested derivation of Matthew from the Egyptian Mattiu, meaning “the word of truth,” or “true sayings.” Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Irenaeus agree that Matthew’s was the primary Gospel, disputing Eusebius’ story of Mark’s primacy. This tradition rests upon the testimony of Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis and friend of Polycarp. Papias is named with Pantaenus, Clement and Ammonius as one of the ancient interpreters who agreed to accept the Logia as referring to a historical Christ. He was a literalizer of mythology. He believed the Sayings to have been actually spoken by a historical Jesus, written down in Hebrew by a follower named Matthew. He wrote a work entitled Logion Kuriakon, a commentary on the Sayings. Thus the basis of the first Gospel was in no way a biography, record or history of Jesus. It was only the “Sayings of the Lord.”
Now there is plenty of evidence to show that these Sayings, the admitted foundations of the canonical Gospels, were not first uttered by a personal founder of Christianity, nor invented afterwards by any of his followers. Many of them were pre-existent, pre-historic and pre-Christian! And if it can be proved that these oracles of God and Logia of the Lord are not original after the year thirty A.D., and that they can be identified as a collection of Egyptian, Hebrew and Gnostic sayings, they would be deprived of any competence to stand as evidence that the Jesus of the Gospels ever lived as a man or teacher. To begin with, says Massey, two of the Sayings assigned by Matthew to Jesus are these: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” and “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” These Sayings had already been uttered by the feminine Logos called Wisdom (Sophia) in the Apocrypha. Wisdom was the Sayer personified long anterior to Christianity. (Let it be noted that the oracular voice in the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher, is translated more recently as “the Speaker.” This precisely matches the character that is the utterer of truth in the Egyptian Ritual (Book of the Dead), called “the Speaker.”) It might indeed with full truth be said, as Massey has just done, that the preacher of the divine words of truth in the world’s arcane scripts of old is simply, in Greek terms, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, that is, wisdom personified as feminine. It is sheer imbecility of mind that would attempt to convert the personification into a living man.
More Gospel passages are shown to have been already in the Egyptian Ritual, in Enoch, in 2 Esdras, in the Haggada of the Jews and other pre-Christian documents.
The nature of the Sayings is acknowledged by Irenaeus when he says:
“According to no one Saying of the heretics is the word of God made flesh.”
The Christ, the utterer of the Sermons and Sayings, assuredly is not a person preaching on earth.
The “Sayings” were oral teachings in all the Mysteries ages before they were written down. Several of them are so ancient as to be the common property of widely separated nations. Prescott gives a few Mexican Sayings; one of these, also found in the Talmud and the New Testament, is called the “old proverb.” “As the old proverb says – ‘whoso regards a woman with curiosity commits adultery with his eyes.’” And the third commandment according to Buddha is: “Commit no adultery; the law is broken by even looking at the wife of another man with lust in the mind.” Among the sayings assigned to the Buddha is found the one dealing with the wheat and the tares. Another is the parable of the sower. Buddha likewise told of the hidden treasure which may be laid up securely where a thief can not break in and steal. Similarly the story of the rich young man who was commanded to sell all he had and give to the poor is told by Buddha. It is reported that he also said: “You may remove from their base the snowy mountains, you may exhaust the waters of the ocean, the firmament may fall to earth, but my words in the end will be accomplished.” These are samples of scores and hundreds of similarities and identities between Christian Biblical material and passages from many pre-Christian books. No one can make the search and discover these numberless resemblances without forming the conviction that the Bible writings are rescripts, garbled and corrupted, of antecedent wisdom literature. To the student who delves into the study and makes the discoveries for himself, the evidence is startling enough to settle the matter beyond all possibility of mistake. For him the argument is closed.
The Buddha, in making his departure, promises to send the Paraclete, even the spirit of truth which shall lead his followers into all truth. The Gnostic Horus says the same thing in the same character. The sayings of Krishna are frequently identical with those of Buddha and of the Gospel Christ. “I am the letter A,” cries the one. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” exclaims the other. “I am the beginning and the end,” says Krishna. “I am the Light, I am the Life, I am the Sacrifice.” Speaking to his disciples, he affirms that they will dwell in him as he dwells in them.
Buddha has his transfiguration when he ascended the mountain in Ceylon called Pandava or Yellow-white. There the heavens opened and a great light came in full flood around him and the glory of his person shone forth with “double power.” He “shone as the brightness of the Sun and Moon,” identical with that of Christ; and both these are the same as that of Osiris in his ascent of the Mount of the Moon. The same scene was previously portrayed in the Persian account of the devil tempting Zarathustra and inviting him to curse the Good Belief.
But these several forms of the one character did not originate and do not meet in any human history that was lived in Egypt, India, Persia or Judea. They meet only in one place – the mythos, says Massey, with indisputable truth. The mythos arose from Egypt and there alone can we delve down to the root of the origines. The myths of Christianity and Buddhism had a common origin and branched from the same root, whether in Egypt, as Massey claims it did, or elsewhere, as others may insist.
Pronounced in Greek, the Logia or Sayings are the mythoi of Egypt. They are utterances assigned to the personified Sayers in the mythology, which preceded and accounted for our theology and Christology. They existed before writing and were not allowed to be written. They still bear witness, however mangled and mutilated, against historical Christianity. “Myth” and “mouth” are identical at the root.
In the main, the drama of the Lord’s death and the scenes of the Christian last judgment are represented in the Egyptian great Hall of Justice, where a person is separated from his sins, and those who have sided with Sut against Horus are transformed into goats. (This doubtless means that they are sent back into incarnation for further experience, and life in the body is typed by the sign of the winter solstice, Capricorn, the Goat, occupying the place of the nadir of descent into matter on the symbolic zodiacal chart. To separate the sheep from the goats is naturally to set off those still needing incarnation in Capricorn position from those who, as sheep in Aries (the Ram, the Lamb) at the spring equinox, are by position and significance out of the area of incarnate life, having made the passover of the line separating physical from spiritual existence when they entered Aries.) Massey points it out as notable that of the four Gospels Matthew alone represents this drama of the Egyptian Ritual. In the Ritual every hair is weighed; in the Gospel every hair is numbered. Many chapter titles of the Ritual are “sayings” of the deceased. Horus is the divine Sayer and the souls repeat his sayings. The original Sayings were declared to have been written by Hermes, or Taht, the scribe of the gods, and they constituted the primordial Hermaean or inspired Scriptures, which the Book of the Dead declares were written in Hieroglyphics by the finger of Hermes himself.
The data of Matthew were put in largely with the motive of fulfilling Old Testament “prophecy.” But the compiler was doubtless too uninstructed to know that the “prophecies” belonged to astronomical allegory and that they never could or did refer to human history and were not supposed to be fulfilled on the plane of objective event, except in the minds of the ignorant, who could believe that the zodiacal Virgin Mother would bring forth her aeonial child on earth in a Judean stable or cave. Massey writes an impressive sentence when he pens these momentous words: “Those who did know better, whether Jews, Samaritans, Essenes, or Gnostics, entirely repudiated the historical interpretation and did not become Christians.” They were in much the same relative case as those more intelligent persons today who repudiate the bald literal interpretations made by such sects as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and just as correct in doing so. “They could no more join the ignorant fanatical Salvation Army in the first century than we can in the nineteenth.” The so-called “prophecies” not only supply a raison d’être for the “history” in the Gospels; the events and attendant circumstances themselves are manufactured one after the other from the “prophecies” and sayings, i.e., from the mythos, which was already then of great antiquity. All this was done in the course of the process of literalization of the drama into a human life and its localization in Judea, under the pretext or in the blind belief that the impossible had come to pass. The events of the Gospels were not only thrust forth out of the mythos onto the stage of alleged history, but were mysteriously romanticized with the halo of prophetic fulfillment of Old Testament prediction. Of course the coming Messiah should be foretold to be born in Bethlehem (the house of bread), for the zodiacal allegory had his celestial birthplace long prepared in the sign of Pisces, the house of bread and fishes. He who was to feed the earthly multitude with the miraculously multiplied divinity symboled by bread and fish, would have to be born in the house of the fishes and of the bread which cometh down out of heaven. The Christian scriptures carried forward the salient features of the astronomical allegory, but their ignorant idolaters thought they were purveying sacred history.
Again, the child’s being taken to Nazareth was only in order that the sayings might be fulfilled that he should be called a Nazarene. And yet, says Massey, his connection with Nazareth (which, incidentally, has never received any geographical authenticity at any time and perhaps never existed at all) would no more make him a Nazarene than his being born in a stable would make him a horse. Also Jesus came to dwell in Capernaum – “his own city” – on the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali, that a saying of Isaiah might be fulfilled. He cast out devils and healed the sick, for fulfillment of the same prophet’s forecast. He taught the multitude in parables, for the same reason. In spite of his miracles and many wonderful works among the populace the people believed not in him, because Isaiah had hinted that the Lord would not be believed. Massey asks why they could be expected to believe when it was prophesied they would not. Jesus sent only two disciples to steal the ass and colt because Zechariah had spoken it so. Judas was on the spot to betray his Lord because the Psalmist had said that the Messiah’s trusted and familiar friend “hath lifted up his heel against me.” The Speaker in another Psalm had cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and the crucified Messiah came in flesh would have to repeat the cry from the cross. “They parted my garments among them and cast lots for my vesture”; “They gave me also gall for meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,” had also to be re-enacted to match pre-extant similar passages.
Massey earns our deep gratitude once more for dissipating another of those most fatuous delusions resulting from ignorant misconstruction of ancient mythical material. It is with reference to the so-called “prophecies.” It has already been shown that the words “prophet” and “prophecy” by etymology have nothing to do, directly, with forecasting future events in the objective sphere. The prophet meant simply a preacher, or utterer of truth, and his prophecies were simply preachments. The Biblical prophets were not clairvoyant prognosticators, but sages and expounders of lofty wisdom. The prophet was just another variant of the title of “Speaker” given, as just set forth, to the character in the ritual dramas whose part it was, personating divine Wisdom, to utter or preach the sayings of divine knowledge to mankind. The ascription to the word of the meaning attached to it later in common understanding was most unfortunate. It has been responsible for the precipitation into western history of a whole enormous chapter of delusion and lunacy. The amount of insane drivel, excited emotionalism, fear and folly, that the belief in Bible (and more recently “pyramid”) “prophecy” has generated in uncritical minds comes to tragic proportions. If the ancient sages, as we now more clearly see, had little concern for factual history of their past or their own present, they must have had even less concern for the equally trivial happenings of the future. What people did at any time was of little value in their eyes, or formed no part of the books of spiritual wisdom. The one thing of prime interest to them was the structure, pattern, form and meaning of all action. Their approach to history was more the Hegelian than the mere chronicler’s. And it has to be confessed after mature reflection that in the end that is the only thing about history that matters vitally. No mind can notice or remember a billionth part of the occurrences that constitute history in the factual sense. Therefore its pursuit can have only the final value of instructing the mind on the principles that have determined events, or of admonishing the moral sense or of teaching wisdom. The only worth-while deposit from events acted or studied as history is their “moral lesson.” “What does history teach us?” is the only pertinent question to be asked regarding the value of the record of sheer deed. And this consummate recognition will help to dispel at last the perpetual hue and cry of the babbling religionists about Old Testament “prophecy.” For it reveals that if events themselves were held of little value, the foreknowledge of them would be even less esteemed. It would assuredly be difficult to locate a single item of practical advantage or service that has ever accrued to the Christians of Europe through many centuries from their having in their possession the sheaf of Old Testament “prophecies.” The net effect of their supposed reference was to throw millions of people into wonder, bewilderment and apprehension in every century. Who is ever known to have acted on the warnings and predictions to his clear and obvious profit? And yet the sad story comes to us that the people of Europe in every century since the tenth, at least, have loudly proclaimed that the burden of the “prophecies” fell directly upon their times. The same phenomenon is being repeated in the twentieth as it was previously in the nineteenth, and every one before it. At the best it has always taken a monstrous amount of imagination and stretching to make the prophetic words match the present run of events. But the Procrustean skill of the prophecy-mongers is never less than prodigious, and the gigantic frame of the present history can always be fitted into the small compass of “Bible prophecy.” Perhaps this is the place to express the hope that a baleful misconception which has already reduced itself ad nauseam, may now be further reduced ad absurdum ad infinitum.
Massey again adjures us that we have only to turn to the 2 Esdras (written long B.C.) to learn that Jesus the Christ of our canonical books was both pre-historic and pre-Christian. This is one of the books that have been rejected and set apart as Apocrypha, considered to be spurious because they are supposed to contain the secret Gnosis or keys to the true meanings. In this book it is said
“My son Jesus shall be revealed to those that are with him . . . and they that remain shall rejoice within four hundred years; and after these years shall my son Christ die and all men shall have life.”
Massey’s vigorous comment can be given once more
“The true Christ, whether mythical or mystical, astronomical or spiritual, never could become a historical personage and never did originate in any human history. The types themselves suffice to prove that the Christ was, and could only be, typical and never could have taken form in human personality. For one thing, the mystical Christ of the Gnosis and of the pre-Christian types was a being of both sexes, as was the Egyptian Horus and other of the Messiahs, because the mystical Christ typified the spirit or soul, which belongs to the female as well as to the male, and represents that which could only be a human reality in the spiritual domain or the Pleroma of the Gnostics. This is the Christ who appears as both male and female in the Book of Revelation (a reference to the fact that Jesus in Revelation is described as wearing a golden girdle about the paps). And the same biune type was continued in the Christian portraits of the Christ. In Didron’s Iconography, you will see that Jesus Christ is portrayed as a female with the beard of a male, and is called Jesus Christ as St. Sophia – i.e., the wisdom or spirit of both sexes. The early Christians were ignorant of this typology; but the types still remain, to be interpreted by the Gnostics and bear witness against the history. Both the type and doctrine combine to show there could be no one personal Christ in this world or in any other. However the written word may lie, the truth is visibly engraved upon the stones, and still survives in the Icons, symbols and doctrines of the Gnostics, which remain to prove that they preserved the truer tradition of the origines. And so this particular pre-Christian type was continued as a portrait of the historic Christ. It can be proved that the earliest Christians known were Gnostics—the men who knew, and who never did or could accept Historic Christianity. The Essenes were Christians in the Gnostic sense, and according to Pliny the Elder they were a Hermetic Society that had existed for ages on ages of time. Their name is best explained as Egyptian. They were known as Eshai, the healers or Therapeutae, the physicians, in Egypt; and Esha or Usha means to doctor, or heal, in Egyptian. The Sutites, the Mandaites, the Nazarites, as well as the Docetae and Elkesites, were all Gnostic Christians; they all preceded and were all opposed to the cult of the carnalized Christ. The followers of Simon the Samaritan were Gnostic Christians; and they were of the church at Antioch, where it is said the name of Christian was primarily applied. Cerinthus was a Gnostic Christian, who according to Epiphanius, denied that Christ had come in the flesh. The same writer informs us that at the end of the fourth century there were Ebionite Christians, whose Christ was the mythical fulfiller of the time-cycles, not a historic Jesus. Even Clement of Alexandria confesses that his Christ was of a nature that did not require the nourishment of corporeal food.”
Mead fortifies Massey’s statement regarding the Essenes, saying they “refused to believe in the resurrection of the physical body,” either of Christ or of men. The Gnostics, Mead agrees, were the first Christian theologists, and if it is a cause for reprehension that the real historical side of the new movement was obscured in order to suit the necessities of a religion that aspired to universality, then the Gnostics are the chief culprits, he says. To lend some authority to the claim that the Gnostics were not at all rabid “heretics” or fanatical religionists, a Dr. Carl Schmidt may be cited as saying that “we are amazed . . . dazzled by the richness of thought, touched by the depth of soul” of the Gnostic authors, and he speaks of “the period when Gnostic genius like a mighty eagle left the world below it and soared in wide and ever wider circles towards the pure light, the pure knowledge, in which it lost itself in ecstasy.”
The alleged heresy of the Gnostics, writes Massey (The Natural Genesis, II, p. 484), which is supposed and assumed to have originated in the second century, the first being carefully avoided, only proves that the A-gnostics, who had literally adopted the pre-Christian types and believed they had been historically fulfilled, were then for the first time becoming conscious of the cult that preceded theirs, and coming face to face with those who held them to be heretics. Gnosticism was not a birth of the second century; it was not a perverter or corrupter of Christian doctrines divinely revealed, but the voice of an older cult growing more audible in its protest against a superstition as degrading now as when it was denounced by men like Tacitus, Pliny, Julian, Marcus Aurelius and Porphyry. For what, asks Massey, could be more shocking to any real religious sense than the belief that the very God himself had descended on earth as an embryo in a virgin’s womb, to undergo the precarious ordeal of the pre-natal period, of birth, infancy, the risks of physical embodiment and the suffering of cruelty and persecution, climaxed by an ignominious death on a cross of torture, to save his own created world, or a few in it who might “believe” on him, from eternal perdition? The opponents of the latest superstition were too intelligent to accept so shallow and repulsive a story and a dying deity. Porphyry terms the Christian religion “a blasphemy barbarously bold” (barbaron tolmema). “A monstrous superstition,” exclaims Pliny. “A pestilence,” cries Suetonius. “Exitiabilis superstitio” (ruinous superstition), says Tacitus. “Certain most impious errors are committed by them,” says Celsus, “due to their extreme ignorance, in which they have wandered from the meaning of the divine enigmas.” (Origen: Contra Celsum, VI, Ch. XIII.) All of which is as true as it is temperate, avers Massey. The “primitive Christians were men whose ardor was fierce in proportion to their ignorance,” as is ever the case. Massey states that when Peter, Philip and John, as preachers of the new creed, were summoned before the Jewish hierarchs to be examined, the Council decided that they were only ignorant men, unlearned in the oral law, unskilled in the tradition of interpretation, believers who did not know the true meaning of that which they taught. They were not punished, but dismissed with warnings, as rude anthropoi agrammatoi kai idiotai (men uneducated and narrow-minded). Idiotai is of course the root of our word “idiots.” In the Greek, however, it carries the meaning of being bound up in one’s own ideas so closely as not to be able to see beyond one’s own small horizon.
Near the end of his greatest work, Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World (p. 905), Massey sums up the data that impelled him toward his momentous conclusions. He says that from the comparative process we learn that the literalizers of the legend and the carnalizers of the Egypto-Gnostic Christ have but gathered up the empty husks of Pagan tradition, minus the kernel of the Gnosis; so that when we have taken away from their collection all that pertains to Horus, the Egypto-Gnostic Jesus, all that remains to base a Judean history upon is nothing more than the accretion of blindly ignorant belief. And therefore of all the Gospels and collections of Sayings derived from the Ritual of the resurrection in the names of Mattiu, or Matthew, Aan or John, Thomas or Tammuz or Tum, Hermes, Iu-em-hetep, Iusa or Jesus, those that were canonized at last as Christian are the most exoteric, and therefore the furthest away from the underlying, hidden and buried, but imperishable truth. With these fateful words he ends his great work.
We have both Philo’s and Irenaeus’ expressed belief that the Word (Logos) could not become incarnate, Massey testifies. Philo no more knows a Christ that could be made flesh than he knew of a Jesus in human form – and he lived at almost the identical time of the alleged historical Jesus! So it was with the Gnostics. They declared it was not possible that he should suffer who was both incomprehensible and invisible (Irenaeus, b. I, ch. VII, p. 2). According to the Gnostics, says Irenaeus, “neither the Word, nor the Christ, nor the Savior, was made flesh. They maintain that the Word was neither born nor did he become incarnate” (b. 3, XI, p.3). It was impossible that the Gnostics could accept the doctrine of a masculine Logos being made flesh or incarnated in human form. Their Logos was the spiritual antithesis and eternal opposite of matter, not a redeemer of the flesh by wearing it. The advent of the Gnostic Christ could only be in the mind or the spirit. It could only be manifested by an illumination of the mind, a purification of the life, a change of heart in the religious sense. (It is worth pausing to comment that the “true” orthodox Christianity of Irenaeus’ day rejected illumination of the mind, purification of the life and change of heart as heresy!) To them the advent was one that could dawn only about a Christ that came from within. The type-form of divine Logos could no more apply to an external history or a personal Savior than the spirit of giving could become Santa Klaus in person. Yet, Massey points out, the Christ of this conception was identical with the Christ of Philo and of Paul. Philo, he says, has defined the incarnation as Archangelos Polyonomos, “the many-named archangel.” The power or spirit that incarnated had many names and many forms of manifestation. But this incarnation was not of a nature to be embodied in one man or as one man, either past, present or future. The earliest of the Christian Fathers, Justin Martyr in particular, had given voice to expressions of the multiformity of the Christly manifestation.
The central force of Massey’s courageous assault on the ramparts of orthodox Christianity is in his categorical averment that the bulk of the material entering into the formulation of Christian doctrine and practice was long in existence before the Christian era. Let us hear his forthright declaration to this effect in his lecture on The Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ (p. 22):
“Whether you believe it or not does not matter, the fatal fact remains that every trait and feature which goes to make up the Christ as Divinity, and every event or circumstance taken to establish the human personality, were pre-extant and pre-applied to the Egyptian and Gnostic Christ, who never could become flesh. The Jesus Christ with female paps, who is the Alpha and Omega of Revelation, was the IU of Egypt and the IAO of the Chaldeans. Jesus as the Lamb of God and Ichthys the Fish was Egyptian. Jesus as the Coming One; Jesus born of a Virgin Mother who was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost; Jesus born of two mothers, both of whose names were Mary; Jesus born in the manger at Christmas and again at Easter; Jesus saluted by the three kings or Magi; Jesus of the Transfiguration on the Mount; Jesus whose symbol in the catacombs is the eight-rayed star – the star of the East; Jesus as the eternal child; Jesus as God the Father, reborn as his own Son; Jesus as the child of twelve years; Jesus as the anointed one of thirty years; Jesus in his baptism; Jesus walking on the water or working his miracles; Jesus as the caster-out of demons; Jesus as a Substitute, who suffered in a vicarious atonement for sinful men; Jesus whose followers are the two brethren, the four fishers, the seven fishers, the twelve apostles, the seventy (or seventy-two, as in some texts) whose names were written in heaven; Jesus who was administered to by seven women; Jesus in his bloody sweat; Jesus betrayed by Judas; Jesus as conqueror of the grave; Jesus the resurrection and the life; Jesus before Herod; in the Hades and in his reappearance to the women and the seven fishers; Jesus who was crucified both on the fourteenth and the fifteenth of the month Nisan; Jesus who was also crucified in Egypt, as it is written in Revelation (11:8); Jesus as judge of the dead, with the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left, is Egyptian from first to last, in every phase, from the beginning to the end.”
If the revelation of these identities comes with surprising or shocking force to many readers, the wonder should mount to still greater height when it is stated, as it can be, that Massey has traced out and enumerated some one hundred and eighty of these items of similarity or identity between Horus of Egypt and the Gospel Jesus! And Horus was centuries antecedent to Jesus, and was never pictured as a living person! To the scholarly mind this astonishing fact becomes conclusive of the whole argument. The forced acceptance of the fact that when the only-begotten Son of the Eternal came to earth in all his regal splendor to redeem the fallen race of mortal men, the best he could manage to get in the books that were to establish his mission and perpetuate his influence was a garbled melange of data and symbols already associated with a score or more of previous non-existent typical characters, will bring at last a realistic recognition of the weakness of the case for the historicity. Even were the bald claim for the existence of the man Jesus to be conceded, the victory for orthodoxy and fundamentalism would be almost if not quite as damaging to that side as the refutation. It would indeed be a Pyrrhic triumph, leaving the cause of Christian theology so badly weakened and wounded by obvious inexplicability of many points, as to have forfeited the further support of thinking people everywhere. How could it be explained with rational consistency or with the salvation of respect and prestige, that the historical biography of the one and only Son of God fell into the lines of the merely dramatized “careers” of Horus of Egypt, Krishna of India, Tammuz or Marduk of Assyria, Mithra of Persia, Bacchus of Greece, Zagreus or Sabazius of Phrygia, and a list of others in various lands? The Rosetta Stone has at last brought to an end the centuries-long pretense and hypocrisy of the orthodox Christian party in the study of comparative religion.
One can understand the mental vehemence back of Massey’s fling at his critics:
“It is not I that deny the divinity of Jesus the Christ; I assert it! He was and never could be any other than a divinity; that is, a character non-human and entirely mythical, who had been the divinity of various pagan myths that had been pagan during thousands of years before our Era.”
He continues with the asseveration that the Christian scheme is founded on a fable misinterpreted, and that the Coming One as the Christ was but a metaphorical figure, a type of immanent spiritual growth consummated in time, who could not take form in human personality any more than Time in person could come out of the clock-case when the hour strikes, like the cuckoo! The “history” in our Gospels is from beginning to end the identifiable story of the Sun-God and the Gnostic Christ who was not “after the flesh.” The false belief, he concludes, becomes impossible when we know the true one. But the false one has ever stood in the way of our knowing the true one.
The mythical Messiah was Horus in the Osirian mythos; Har-Khuti in the Sut-Typhonian; Khunsu in that of Amen-Ra; and the Christ of the Gospels is an amalgam of all these characters, and, one may add, of others. Jesus is he that should come; and Iu, the root of the name in Egyptian, means “to come.” Iu-em-hetep, the Messianic name in Egypt for thousands of years, signifies “he who comes with peace.” And this is the very character in which Jesus is announced by the angels at midnight of December twenty-fourth, a date set by the Egyptian astronomical symbology. A sententious summation of the whole matter is given in Massey’s words: “From beginning to end the canonical Gospels contain the Drama of the Mysteries of the Luni-solar God, narrated as human history.” The mythos is the magic key that alone will fit the lock of the Bible material and open the door to the explanation of its otherwise unfathomable obscurities. “All that is non-natural and impossible as human history, is possible, natural and explicable as mythos.” This is indeed the eventful truth, and the application of it is the only measure that will ever put an end to the farcical irrationality of Christian theology and redeem the body of doctrine from ostensible nonsense to comprehensible sublimity, after centuries of befuddlement.
The catacombs of Rome, says Massey again, “are crowded with the Egypto-Gnostic types which had served the Roman, Persian, Greek and Jew as evidence for the non-historic origins of Christianity.” The child-Horus of Egypt reappears in Christian iconography as the mummy-babe in the catacombs, wearing even the tell-tale sign of origin from Egypt, the solar disk! Also the resurrection of Osiris comes into Christian scriptures as the raising of Lazarus, the identification of whom with Osiris makes one of the most thrilling chapters of comparative religion revelation ever to be brought to light. Among the numerous types of Horus repeated in Roman symbols of the alleged historic Jesus are “Horus on his papyrus” as Messianic shoot or natzer (from which root in Hebrew Massey traces the word “Nazarene”); Horus the branch resprouting each cycle for endless ages from the parent vine; Horus as Ichthys the Fish; Horus as bennu or phoenix; Horus as the dove; Horus as the eight-rayed star of the Pleroma; Horus as scarabaeus; Horus as child-mummy with the head of Ra; Horus as the little black child or Bambino; Horus of the reversed triangle.
Massey shows with sufficient clearness the origin of the cross in the Tat-cross of Egypt, or the Ankh-cross, the symbol of Life as resulting from the crossing or union of the two poles of being, spirit and matter. The Tat or cross of stability, symbol of the power that sustains the worlds and all things, was the figure of the pole, thought of as the backbone of the world, the axis of all durability. It united in one the “five supports” or the five-fold tree of the Egypto-Gnostic mystery, the four corner supports and the central axis. This power was personified in Ptah as well as figured in the Tat. The light that the clearer representation of Egypt throws on this symbol is great, for it shows that the cross figure is the insignium of the same power that is personified in the Christ himself and that true depiction should not so much portray the Christ on the cross as that the Christ is the cross. The god in matter and the cross are really one. This personified power in the Egyptian Ritual says, “I am Tat, the Son of Tat” (Rit., Ch. I), or son of the Eternal, who establishes the soul for eternity in the mystery of Tattu (Rit., Ch. 17). Hence we find the figure of the god, as the cross, extended crosswise as sustainer of the universe in Egyptian vignettes. This construction is undoubtedly back of the Gospel legend of Jesus as bearer of his own cross on which he was to “die.” In the Christian corruption of the grand conception into impossible “history,” the doctrine of the crucifixion, with its human victim raised aloft as a sin-offering for all the world, “is but a ghastly simulacrum of the primitive meaning, or shadowy phantom of the original substance.” In what respect are the Flagellantes or Penitentes of New Mexico, lashed on by the fanatic frenzy of Christian doctrine literalized, better than barbarian tribes of the forest or of the South Seas, who are pointed at by the Christians for their inhuman degeneracy in offering living humans in some of the former rites? For they even today come close to actual immolation of a man on the cross on the Good Friday of Passion Week, which Christian miscomprehension and muddled mentality has indeed made into the Black Friday of the year.
The ox and the ass, ever present with Jesus in his stable nativity in the Gospels, were with the Egyptian Coming One, Iusa, ages antecedently. These two animals, which Christians ignorantly assume are pictured in the birth-scenario because they “were there,” are evidently typically connected with the birth of divinity because of the exceptional and peculiar type of their breeding. They owe their existence to cross-breeding, and so stood as the type of perfected Christhood, which is raised above sex, or represents sex polarity crossed and unified in one, as before the breaking of cosmic unity apart into biunity. The ox and the ass are present when the Christ comes to indicate to the initiated that the development of the Christ power returns the soul from its state of dual life on the cross to its pristine unity. It is the symbol of the divine androgyneity, or of spirit detached from matter, released from the cross, one again and not two.
A further light is thrown on this by Massey (Book of the Beginnings, I, p. 516), when he speaks of the bifurcation of the child, that is then still without sex (in manifestation), at puberty into the distinctly male or female individual. The calf represented both sexes in the non-pubescent stage, or the mother and the child only, in the phase of nature that did not yet include the father, or the developed creative mind. The bull was the type of the Father or generative force of creative thought. But even the bull, says Massey, was made to conform to the type of spirit-matter in union and neutralizing each other, in the ox. According to Varro, Massey says, there was a vulgar Latin name for ox, viz., Trio. The ox being of a third sex, neither male nor female productively, return was thus made to the primitive Nu-ter or Neuter of the beginning. And as all things are ultimately the A and the O, and begin and end in the same sexless state (in heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage), the ox – and similarly the ass – was the type of fully Christified humanity. Therefore would the Christ be fitly represented as riding into the gates of the Holy City or heavenly Jerusalem on the back of the lowly ass. But why the two beasts, the ass and her foal? The ass was the symbol of the Egyptian God Atum, and ancient typism always depicted the god as creating and procreating, in the two characters of Father and Son. Life was made continuous by the creation in cycles, and the Son typified the new generation as the progeny of the old, ever repeating and recurring. It was the eternal repetition of the projection of new life from old in the time cycles, the previous old cycle being father to the succeeding one, which carried the soul onward in its long journey from the hinterland of matter up to the gates of the Aarru-Hetep of Egypt, which is the Aarru-Salem, or Jerusalem, of the Hebrew version. Iusa is pictured with the ears of an ass, and Iu is both ass and god under one name, Massey states.
A pretty solid support is seen for Massey’s general claims as to the association of pagan usages with early Christian worship in that letter of the Emperor Hadrian to Servianus, in which he writes that “those who worship Serapis are likewise Christians; even those who style themselves the Bishops of Christ are devoted to Serapis.” The most prominent early Egyptian Christians were at the same time members of the Mysteries of Serapis, as many leading Greek Christians were, like Origen, Clement, Pantaenus and Ammonius, students of the Neo-platonic philosophy.
The Gnostic Jesus in the Pistis Sophia says that he found Mary, who is called his mother after the material body, that he implanted in her the first power which he had received from the hands of his Father, called Barbelo and also the good Sabaoth. Here is the prototype of the great legend in ancient mythical systems of the son impregnating his own mother, as Horus fecundated his mother Isis in Egypt. Christians can spare their spurious indignation at “heathen” sexualism in religious worship, since the meaning carried by the representation is simply that the soul, or son, in man implants in the physical body that gives him his birth the power of spirit that transfigures her also into the likeness of divinity. The soul, as primordial intelligence, is the Father ever; in each new generation it is its own son; and the physical body is the mother. The son, therefore, eternally in each generation impregnates his own mother. Evil minds may see evil in this typing; beautiful minds will see both truth and beauty in it.
Carrying on the train of similarities between Gospel and Egyptian depictions Massey points to the dove symbol. The hawk is a male emblem, the dove the female, he shows. Horus rises again in the form of a hawk in the Egyptian resurrection. As matter is ever feminine, the soul or son descending into physical body would be entering what the ancients called its “feminine phase,” its incarnation. Hence at its baptism, or entering the sea of matter, again always typed as water, it would swing to the dove as symbol. The dove made its appearance to attest Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the Eridanus of the planisphere, the Iaru-tana of the Egyptian myth, and the “river of life” in any system. Horus rises also in the form of a dove, as well as that of a hawk. He is the dove in his first phase, and the hawk in his second or perfected stage. Elsewhere, swinging the metaphor a grade higher, he says that he came as a hawk and transformed into the phoenix. “I am the Dove; I am the Dove,” he exclaims as he rises up from Amenta where the egg of his future being was hatched in the divine incubator, in the An-ar-ef, the hidden land, “the abode of occultation,” the house of the blind, – our earth.
Hence in the iconography of early Christianity the child-Jesus is depicted in the Virgin’s arms or in her womb, surrounded by seven doves as symbols of the Holy Spirit (Didron: Iconography, fig. 124). For the Holy Spirit, or divine working efficacy of spirit in matter, must fall into the sevenfold segmentation which force ever undergoes when it energizes matter. This had been brought out not only in ancient cosmology and esotericism, but has been in large measure demonstrated by modern physical science, and is corroborated by nature herself in the sevenfold division of light, the octave (septave) of sound, the periodic table of weights in chemistry and the seven-day table of periodicities in the gestation process in all animal life.
A fact that must loom large in the debate as an item of great significance is that mentioned by a number of writers, that neither in the case of Horus nor in those of other “world-saviors,” is there any date or history falling in the gap between the ages of twelve and thirty, matching the similar lacuna in the “life” of Jesus! This datum alone points with great cogency to the non-historicity of the Sun-Gods, Christs, Messiahs. Any student of ancient literature knows the esoteric significance of numbers in arcane systematism. The numbers one, two, three, four, seven, ten, twelve, twenty-four, thirty, forty, seventy, three hundred and others are so profusely injected throughout the Bible that it could long ago have been assumed that they carried the deepest recondite meaning. Three, four, seven, twelve and forty are indeed among the most sharply revelatory keys to the entire system of scriptural interpretation. It is ridiculous that Christian exegesis of its own book has for sixteen centuries labored at the interpretation with practically no regard for the meaning of these numbers. It will later be seen as a clear evidence of esoteric incompetence. It has remained for students outside the pale of Christian apologetics to interpret the Bible most capably and profoundly.
The age of twelve in Egyptian myth was one of the indices of transformation from the natural or unregenerate state of humanity into the spiritual kingdom, on the symbolic basis of puberty, change of voice and development of mind. And thirty was the index of completed perfection, type of the spiritual heyday in evolution. The fact that at twelve Jesus left his mother (type of matter and body) to attend to the things of his Father (type of spirit) has never once been discerned as the allegory of the natural man’s conversion into the spiritual man, the attainment of his spiritual “thirty years.” And a hundred such failures to read their own scriptures aright attest the blindness of exoteric vision on the part of orthodox expounders of scripture.
It is out of the question to transcribe any considerable portion of Massey’s (and other) comparative religion data, but some salient items must be introduced. There is a perfect match between the flight of the parents of Jesus into Egypt for the safety of the divine child from the Herod menace and a similar protection for Horus. The god Taht says to Isis, the mother: “Come, thou goddess Isis, hide thyself with the child,” and the place of concealment indicated was in the marshes of Lower Egypt – bringing the Moses analogy to mind at once! This is pure evolutionary symbology and not personal history. That there is any vital significance in the fact that Jesus fled to Egypt to escape the Herod menace, while Horus had to be saved from the Herut menace in Lower Egypt will probably be shouted down by hostile critics. The Herut reptile was another name for the Apap serpent, the water monster that was the Egyptian type of the lower nature in man waiting to devour the child of higher divinity when he incarnated. But the substitution of the tetrarch’s name for the reptile’s designation is in the highest probability one of the tricks resorted to in the conversion of myth into history. Massey openly charges it.
Then there is the matter of the twelve disciples and their historicity. Massey affirms categorically and likely with full truth, that they “are no more human than was their teacher.” But when the Word was made flesh in physical literalism his dramatic supporting cast had to be converted along with him.
What were the twelve disciples, if not men? In the esoteric understanding they were the same in twelve aspects as the three Kings or Wise Men were in a threefold division. Or they were the same three powers of spirit further subdivided into twelve aspects. They were just the spiritual power and intelligence which is the Christ itself, manifesting its wholeness in a twelve-part segmentation. In the same way in which the atomic force of the universe manifests in a seven-part differentiation, so the spiritual nucleus of life manifests in a twelve-part unfoldment. Nature sounds a seven-key octave and Divine Mind sounds a twelve-key diapason. Each in its unfoldment sounds but one key at a time, until the succession covers the gamut. As soul advances through the scale of evolution she passes through twelve grades of being one at a time, adding unto her equipment the quality gained from experience at each level, till her absorption of the essence of all nature is complete finally in a twelvefold unity. These twelve qualities of perfected spiritual cognition are what are represented by the twelve signs of the zodiac, the sun’s passing successively through each sign and acquiring the special powers of each, typing the soul’s round of the elements and the acquisition of the twelve intelligences. In the Ritual of Egypt the soul had to pass successively through twelve dungeons, each guarded by a god, in each of which it was captive until the door was opened by the god, who held the key and would not use it until the mortal could pronounce his Name. Obviously man is a prisoner to a faculty until he opens up his ability to utilize and command its powers. Ignorance is ever the gaoler and knowledge is the only release. Inasmuch as light produced by suns is the highest aspect of creative energy, the dark dungeon was the appropriate symbol of the benighted condition of the soul when imprisoned in matter. The creative command – Let there be light! – was the divine fiat that ordered the suns to shine and the galaxies to glisten. And light in the physical area was the perfect analogue and symbol of the light of intelligence that was to glow in the domain of ignorance as solar light was to irradiate the universe of space. Twelve lights would therefore be the most apt symbol of the twelve basic powers of divine intelligence, and this brings us back to the primal true designation of the twelve rays of genius in man – the Twelve Saviors of the Treasure of Light! In various other symbolic typings they were also the Twelve Reapers of the Golden Grain, the Twelve Harvesters in the Field of Amenta, the Twelve Builders, Twelve Carpenters, Twelve Masons, Twelve Potters, Twelve Weavers of the Pattern, Twelve Fishermen, Twelve Rowers of the Boat with Horus, Twelve Sailors in the Ship of Ra, the Sun. They are the twelve powers of Sun-God intelligence. And as ancient philosophy brings out the astounding facts that sunlight is the eventual product of divine mentation – “the light of the sun is the pure energy of intellect,” says Proclus in one of the most illuminating sentences ever uttered – the twelve “rays” of the solar Logos become at last in men and gods the twelve faculties of spiritual intelligence the evolution of which makes each man in his aeonial career a Christ, instructing and training his “twelve disciples” within the confines of his own individuality. They were the fourfold differentiation, under the symbolism of fire, air, water and earth, of each of the three Kings, or kingly powers of divine intellect into which primordial unity of Mind breaks up in its necessary fragmentation as it descends into matter. As water falling from a height breaks up into fragments owing to the resistance of the air, and the blood-stream divides from the heart, and a tree trunk from its lower stem, so unitary intellect descending from on high breaks up into first a threefold partition and finally into a twelvefold division. In reduction to simplest form, all this means that as in physical matter and its manifestation on earth there are four basic differentiations of expressions as fire, air, water and earth, so in mind there are the four analogous subdifferentiations, again in soul the same four and again in spirit the same four. So the twelve great qualities that are to divinize us are the spirit’s fire, air, water and earth, the soul’s fire, air, water and earth, and the mind’s fire, air, water and earth, all combined in one grand synthesis, the Christ consciousness. All this is represented by the structure of the pyramid, which has the four bases as groundwork, and four three-sided upper faces as the superstructure, with the golden triangle crowning all, and glinting ever with Egyptian sunlight. In the great ancient divine-human drama the twelve facets of solar deity were of course personified in and by twelve characters, and the dark-minded Christian spoliators of sage wisdom had to make twelve uneducated fishermen out of them. There was no escape from their becoming fishermen in the Christian rendition because the Jesus who was the astronomical Avatar coming roughly around 255 B.C., came under the precessional sign of Pisces and so came as Ichthys, the Fish-Avatar. He came as Joshua (Jesus) son of Nun, and Nun is the fish in Hebrew! Can Massey be gainsaid or laughed down, then, when he says the twelve disciples were no more human than their teacher? It is Massey’s turn to laugh at the stupidity of his critics.
Jesus himself says in Gnostic literature: “When I first came into the world I brought with me twelve powers. I took them from the hands of the twelve saviors of the treasure of light,” that is, from the twelve who are called the aeons in the Gnostic astronomy. And he adds that he took these twelve powers and “cast them into the sphere of the rulers,” and “bound them into the bodies of your mothers.” By this he means that he has in evolution incorporated them in organic creational systems and finally into the bodies of men, the fleshly body being the mother of the individual soul. Jesus is to reign as king over these twelve powers, the “nine guardians and the three amens,” “the five supporters and the seven amens,” and all the other characters which were “light emanations,” and which would have had no meaning if Jesus had not likewise been an astronomical figure. He unifies them all in himself as he gathers them to himself in passing through the twelve phases of creative manifestation. Beside the twelve “disciples of Jesus” there are found in the Bible the twelve sons of Jacob, the twelve of Judah, the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve stones Joshua was ordered to set up in the dry bed of the Jordan River, the twelve pieces of the concubine’s body cut up (in the nineteenth chapter of Judges), the twelve tables of stone, the twelve commandments, the twelve Urim and Thummim on the breastplate of the High Priest, and others.
Moreover we find striking identity in the Christ’s proclamations, the one in the Gospels, the other in the Gnostic texts, of an esoteric doctrine which he will propound openly to his disciples, though he must speak in parable to the multitude. In the Gnostic Gospel Jesus says:
“Rejoice and be glad for this hour. From this day will I speak with you freely, from the beginning of the truth unto the completion thereof; and I will speak to you face to face, without parable. From this hour will I hide nothing from you of the things which pertain to the height.”
Matching this with the statement of the Gospel Jesus to his disciples that to them that are without it is given to be taught in parables, but to them in the inner circle it is given to be instructed in the mysteries, there is presented an interesting parallel indeed. More light is thrown on this mystery of esotericism when in the Gnostic scriptures Jesus says, “I will tell unto you the mystery of the one and only ineffable, and all its types, all its configurations, all its regulations . . . for this mystery is the support of them all.” Again he says: “I tore myself asunder and brought unto them the mysteries of light to purify them . . . otherwise no soul in the whole of humankind should have been saved.” And another excerpt from his Gnostic sayings is of great value, as it clears up a point of meaning which has been sadly misconceived heretofore. When Jesus in the Gospels says that the believer must leave father, mother and kin to follow after him, it has been a “hard saying,” too hard to be accepted in literal sense. It therefore should come with great relief to the perplexed faithful to learn at last what the passage actually means in the light of the same unmutilated and unhistoricized text of the Gnostic Gospel:
“For this cause have I said unto you aforetime, ‘He who shall not leave father and mother to follow after me is not worthy of me.’ What I said then was, ye shall leave your parents the rulers, that ye may all be children of the first, everlasting mystery.” (Bk. 2, 341.)
Earlier the parents or “rulers” that were to be left for the Christ ministry were described as the seven elementary or natural powers, the mother powers of nature, giving birth to the first Adam, or natural man, who must be left in the seeking after the higher spiritual genius of divinity! Again it is seen how the literalizing process has reduced high cosmic splendor of meaning to the tawdriness of a family desertion and a flouting of the dearest bonds of mortal kinship.
Jesus gave his disciples power to raise the “dead.” In the Pyramid Texts of Teta it is said: “Horus hath given his children power to raise thee up” from the funeral couch.
Massey calls attention to a discrepancy in the version of the miraculous draught of fishes in two Gospels, John and Luke. In John, when Jesus reappears to the seven fishers on board the boat to cause the miraculous haul, it is after his resurrection from the dead. Consequently the transaction, Massey thinks, took place in a region beyond the tomb and not in the life on earth. Whereas in Luke’s version his reappearance was in the earth-life and not a reappearance after death. Orthodox idea of course holds that Jesus was resurrected on earth and that Massey’s conclusion therefore is not sound. What is true, of course, is that there was no physical or bodily resurrection at all, but only the re-arising out of the grave or tomb of the earthly body of that living nucleus of soul that had descended into the body for incarnation. When the soul from elevated spheres descends and links its refined energies with the coarse life of body, the ancient seers pictured its durance in flesh as its death and burial. Just as naturally, then, its release from body at the end of a life cycle was its resurrection from “the dead.” There was no place at all for the historical episode of one man’s bursting the bars of a hillside rocky tomb at any time. The resurrection, Paul tells us, was in a spiritual body, dissociating its tenuous substance from the meshes of the fleshly vehicle.
Again that which was a spiritual mystery in Egypt became a “miracle” in Christianity. In the Ritual of Egypt (Ch. 113) Sebek catches the fish in his marvelous net, and it is proclaimed by Ra to be a mystery.
Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes in the Gospels, and this incident binds wonderfully in with one of the greatest bits of comparative religion data ever to be formulated. When one has grasped from Greek rational theology the significance of the great doctrine of God’s deific multiplication of his own life by dividing primeval unity into endless multiplicity, sharing his oneness with the infinity of his creatures, and then applies to it the elucidation of the Christ’s multiplying that same divinity under the two zodiacal types of bread and fish (Virgo and Pisces), and then will turn to the Egyptian symbolic writing, he will come upon the amazing discovery that the city of Annu (Anu), (Any in English) – which with the Beth, “house,” of the Hebrew gives us Beth-any of the Gospels – was described in the Ritual as “the place of multiplying bread!” From John we learn that “this is that bread which came down from heaven,” the divine immortal soul which came here to multiply itself, as an oak multiplies its life in its acorns, in the house of bread, which is the human body. When will the religious mind break through the obfuscations of deadening literalism to see at last that the human body, the soul’s tenement on earth, is that Bethlehem, that house of bread, wherein the divine bread comes to be multiplied? Here at last is incontrovertible and irrefutable proof that the Christian has to go back to ancient Egypt’s wisdom to discover the keys to the interpretation of his own Bible. If ever the Christian doctrines are to shed any real light on human understanding of the problems of life and immortality, it will be only with the help of Egypt’s restored mysteries. As Massey so clearly demonstrated, Christian truth has been sealed up in a fatal obscurantism and Egypt holds the keys to release it.
In the Gospels it is the women who announce the resurrection. “The goddesses and the women proclaim me when they see me,” shouts Horus as he rises from the tomb on “the horizon of the resurrection.”
Horus was not only the “bread of life” derived from heaven; he also gave his flesh for food and his blood for drink, as did Jesus. He says he has bread in heaven with Ra, and bread on earth with Seb, the earth-god.
Dealing further with the cross as symbol, the arresting fact is brought to light that this emblem in the Egyptian was never the symbol of death – in the sense of the demise of the body – but of life! It was the symbol of “death” only in the transferred sense of the word “death” as the circumscribed life of the soul in the tomb of the body on earth. The cross is the “tree,” and the “tree” is the “tree of life which is in the garden” of this world. This chain of identity has not been seen or worked upon. In one form of the symbolism Jesus is nailed on the tree in its form of the cross of wood; but to suit another form of metaphorical approach he IS the tree of life. He is the branch, the shoot (Hebrew natzer, whence probably “Nazarene”), of his Father, the eternal Tree whose branches ramify into all the universe. But for us in turn Christ is the tree, the vine, and we are the branches. A number of allusions in this relation from ancient non-Biblical sources would have kept in better understanding the connection between the tree of Genesis and the cross, or tree, of Calvary. Ancient mythic tradition had it that various typal Christ characters, Noah, Seth, Enoch, Moses, Joshua, plucked a shoot from the tree of life in the garden and planted it on the mount of Golgotha, where it burgeoned anew to become the tree of the crucifixion. And if, in its deepest sense, the cross of crucifixion is only the metaphor for this incarnation in body, which gives ever more abundant life to the soul by multiplying its potentialities through the ordeal of suffering, then the tree of life and knowledge in Genesis remains still the tree or cross of life and salvation, and not the gruesome cross of death. But clearly in the first instance it is the tree of the Father in his original generation of life; in the second it is the tree of the Son, in regeneration, or eternal renewal of life. The legends – some even carried on into Christian exploitation – that the wood of the cross of Jesus became alive and put forth green shoots, solidly substantiate this figurism. It is matched also by the burgeoning of Aaron’s rod when cast to earth! Divine life flowers anew from the old stem each time it is planted afresh in the soil of earthly body! The Christmas legend spoke of the rose blooming from the Glastonbury thorn in the winter solstice, and we prate in profound stupidity of the Christ as being a fresh shoot from the rod of Jesse. The mighty truth is in our midst, but goes all unrecognized.
The purely allegorical implications of the cross symbol should have been seen from the Platonic and Gnostic representations of the form of the cross called the Stauros. It was the four-armed structure of the Christ-aeon or emanation extended out over the field of creation, and represented spirit as being “crucified in space,” and, Einstein would add, in time. The fourfold division of primary life energy out into space in the creation of universes is, as clearly as could be done, set forth in Genesis, where the river of life split off into four streams, named there Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates. All this is to tell us that life invariably in manifestation “quadrates” itself, or comes to expression in four differentiated aspects, which, be it proclaimed with ultimate clarity at last, are typified in all ancient literature by the four elements of earth, water, air and fire. This partition of primordial life force into the four forms of its manifestation is all that can possibly be meant by the symbol of the four-armed cross in the cosmic range. For the individual its meaning is the quadration of the one energy of consciousness in his life in the four aspects of sense, emotion, thought and soul.
If the Christ was in most real truth crucified in space, the physical timber on Golgotha’s ghastly height, hewn and sawed and nailed, might be accepted with enlightenment as pure symbol of cosmic process. But as it stands in common thought among Christian people it is the gruesome sign of the most abject stultification of the godlike principle of intelligence known to history.
Lundy says that Plato must have learned his theology in Egypt and the East, and doubtless knew, from the stories of Krishna, Buddha and Mithra, that other religions had their mythical crucified victims long antecedent to Christianity. Witoba, one of the incarnations of Vishnu, is pictured with holes in his feet.
The nails of the cross have received considerable emphasis in the Gospel story. The nail, Massey shows, was a type of male virility or of the deeper power of nature that binds male (spirit) and female (matter) together for all effective progenation. The nailing of the body of the Christ on the cross would be the dramatization of the incarnational union of the two ends of the life polarity. Spirit must be nailed to matter to give it its quadration, for free from matter it remains in uncreative unity.
Drawing his data largely from Didron’s Iconography, Massey brings forth from those recesses of buried ancient secrets which he explored so capably, the fact that must startle all Christian readers with its pertinence to the general theme here elaborated, viz., that with the whole foundation of Christianity resting upon the physical cross and the man nailed on it, the religion that claims to have had its very origin from that cross and man has given no evidence of awareness or commemoration of that pivotal event in all its varied and elaborate iconography for about six hundred years after its founding! Massey records that during the first six or seven centuries no figure of a man appears upon the cross in Christian monumental hierography. There are all forms of the cross except that, the alleged starting point of the new religion! The Christ, and him crucified, says Massey, was not the initial but the final form of the crucifix. Over the first six centuries the representation of the foundation of the Christian faith in a crucified Redeemer is entirely absent from Christian art! Massey writes (Book of the Beginnings, I, 433):
“The earliest known form of the human figure on the cross is the crucifix presented by Pope Gregory the Great to Queen Theodolinde of Lombardy, now in the Church of St. John at Monza, whilst no image of the Crucified is found in the catacombs at Rome earlier than that of San Giulio belonging to the seventh or eighth century. So in the earliest representations of the Trinity made by the ‘Christian’ artists, the Father and the Holy Ghost (who was feminine as the Dove), are portrayed beside the Cross. There is no Christ and no Crucified; the Cross is the Christ, even as the Stauros was a type and name of Horus, the Gnostic Christ. The Cross, not the Crucified, is the primary symbol of the Christian Church. . . . And that Cross is pre-Christian, is pagan and heathen, in half a dozen different shapes. During centuries the Cross stood for the Christ and was addressed as if it were a living being. It was divinized at first and humanized at last.”
The Gospel incident which dramatizes Jesus as running away from his mother at the age of twelve and saying he must henceforth be about the business of his Father, briefly noticed, must be scanned for some further elucidation of hidden purport. (The very first consideration is the thought that if orthodox interpretation insists upon taking “his mother” as his human female parent in the story, by what warrant does it not take “his Father” also as his human male parent? He says in effect that he must leave his mother and go to his father, and if the one parent is taken as human, why not the other?) The esoteric significance of this “incident” has never been divined in theology. It is a grand cosmic dramatization, based on the puberty transformation of the boy into the man. The parallelism is startling and suggestive. With the “mother” typing nature and the “Father” spirit, the transition of the boy over from the care of his mother, in which he had been nurtured up till then, to the interests of his father, along with the first development of sexual creative power and the budding of intellect at the same time, as well as the deepening of the voice, which is a most amazing natural symbol of the power henceforth of the voice to utter the true word instead of the fancies of the child, the physiological climacteric was the most striking possible form of depiction ready at hand of the great central truth of all scriptures – the evolutionary transformation of man the natural, or the first Adam, over into man spiritual, or the second Adam. In Egypt there were two Horuses, or two aspects of Horus, Horus the babe and Horus the man, or Horus the younger and Horus the elder. The younger Horus was the child of the mother – nature-and abode under her tutelage, that is, was ruled by natural instinct and not by reason or mind, until he had risen to the development of the twelve facets of his germinal divinity of higher consciousness, whereupon he graduated from the care of mother nature and entered the kingdom of his Father, intellect and spirit. He was then the elder Horus, the grown son of his Father, done with nature and ready to wield the powers of intellect and soul, the business of the Father. With his changed voice allied to developed wisdom he could then utter the “true word” or the echo of the Logos, impossible with his feminine falsetto before! Could anything in nature more completely and admirably typify the profoundest of theological conceptions?
The purpose here, however, is again to indicate that the Gospel mention of the incident, brief as it is, has once more faithfully copied Egyptian prototypes. Every feature of the narrative is found prefigured in the Kamite portrayals. Horus the infant is the child of the Virgin, i.e., matter, or body, produced under natural conditions before the principle of mind (the male element) has unfolded and united with matter to generate the spiritual man. Horus the elder is the child become the man, graduated from the care of mother nature, and having germinated the seed of intellect and spirit into growth and function. Massey is the first to have made this determination clearly, but his work has been left in desuetude. The god Kephr, the world-builder, was symboled by the male beetle or scarabaeus which, the Egyptians alleged, procreated without the aid of the female. This is the type, not of virgin pure matter, but of virgin pure spirit, before union with the female or mother matter in incarnate life.
Astronomically the first Horus or natural man was the child of the Virgin in the sign Virgo; and six months later – which in zodiacal symbology would be at the entire completion of the incarnational cycle – in the sign of Pisces the second Horus, second Adam or the Christ, is reborn of the Fish-mother, or in the house of the Fishes. And in the Gospels Jesus the Christ is born with all the varied forms of the fish-type, as Ichthys the Fish, son of Nun (the Fish in Hebrew), and with twelve “fishermen” as disciples. And Luke’s Gospel places the birth of Jesus just six months after that of John the Baptist; who as the forerunner and herald of the Christos is the dramatic character of the first or natural man, preceding him to prepare the way for him and make his paths straight! Will orthodox exegetists tell us how the six months’ interval between the births of the natural man and his divine successor, the Spiritual Christ, given by Luke, are to be accounted for on any other basis than that of the zodiacal chart, where in pure typology the two births occur just six months apart on opposite sides of the zodiac? This single datum of comparative religion is enough to put the whole structure of Christian historicity on the defensive. If the unthinkable assumption or claim of historical factuality for the occurrence of Jesus’ birth just six months after that of John could be predicated as true, how could the human mind ever contain its wonder at the coincidence of the actual history precisely matching the chart of pagan symbology? This is but one of hundreds of instances in which Christian “history” has had to dance to the tune played by pagan allegorism and typism.
The word “mount” or “mountain” is another link between the Gospels and pre-Christian derivations. The mount is very frequent in Egyptian typology, and the thing it did not mean in esoteric rendering was an earthly hill or elevation. It meant specifically the earth itself. The earth was the mount, raised up in space, where matter and soul, the god and the (animal) man, the one descending “from above,” the other ascending from the slime to animal, met for that interrelation that meant evolution. Therefore every great transaction in the evolutionary process “took place” “on the mount.” Earth is the only place where spirit and matter ever meet on equal terms or in the balance (symboled of course by the equinoxes), and so it is that God always called man (typed by “Moses”) up into Mount Sinai to commune with him. Jesus, the Christ, is drawn up onto the mount to be tempted, he delivers his Sermon or Sayings of wisdom to humanity on the mount (though Luke says it was on a level plain), he was crucified on the hill and was transfigured in the height. Even the ark landed on the “mount of earth,” as “Ararat” is a variant of the Hebrew arets (old form areth), “the earth.” It is as futile to try to locate “the hill of the Lord,” “thy holy hill,” “the hills whence cometh my strength,” on the map or earth’s surface as it is to locate the milk and honey of Jerusalem the Golden in Palestine. Horus was symbolically placed, for all his ordeals and transformations, on the Mount of the Horizon, and this Mount – existing nowhere as a locality on earth, but being the mundane sphere itself – is the Egyptian prototype of all the holy mounts, Gerizim, Horeb, Sinai, Zion, Carmel, Calvary, in the scriptures.
The mount was the “place of emergence” in mythology. This is notable because it aids in the definite localization of its meaning. Life emerges from unmanifestation in the invisible worlds of pure Form (in the Greek sense) to visible manifestation in the physical cosmos, and it can do this only where spirit can achieve its embodiment in matter. A physical planet is the necessary ground for such processing. Spirit emerges from subjective to objective existence on the Mount of Earth. A prominent modern school of philosophy, Bergson’s, has dealt so fully with this phase of cosmic procedure that it has taken the name of the “Emergent Philosophy.” As life emerged out of darkness into light it gave birth to the suns, the lamps of creation. Hence the mount again was the place of birth for the sun. The solar orb, symbolizing always the divine power of spiritual light, went to its “death” in matter on the Mount of the Horizon on the West, the Western Mount, Mount Manu, and arose in its rebirth on the Mount of the East, or of Dawn, Mount Bakhu. These two names are instructive. Ma-nu is the elementary primordial abyss of the waters, empty space, or inchoate matter, as nu is the hieroglyph for water. Under the symbolism of the sun setting in the western ocean, life goes down from the heights of pure ethereality into the sea of matter. Passing through the round of the material kingdoms it emerges again on the east with a focus of consciousness developed to divine power in a physical organism, and comes forth as a soul or spirit individually conscious. Human-divine consciousness comes from the union in man’s body of the two elements of psychic soul and divine spirit, and, oddly enough these two “persons” in man were named by the Egyptians respectively the ba and the khu. The Eastern Mount would then bring divinity to birth as the ba-khu, and so the Mount of Dawn for the divine soul in man was called Mount Bakhu. These two mounts are in Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible.
There is no end of repetition in the Bible of the Egyptian “three days in the tomb.” Hosea speaks of the Israelites being held in bondage and being released and raised up “after two days” or “on the third day.” The place of captivity for the soul in matter has variable naming, such as Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Sodom, Arabia, none of which has geographical but only allegorical reference. If final and clinching proof is needed to show that the captivities and bondages in the Old Testament are only mythical representations, we have it in the prophet’s assignment to them of a three-days length. The descent of the soul into body to manifest her powers and make her appearance or epiphany (or emergence) is the only substance and reality in any of the “captivities” of scripture. When the soul accomplishes its growth in the dungeons of Amenta, Sheol, Hades, and rises in triumph over the flesh and the grave, she is beautifully said to “lead captivity captive.” That the allegories of their Old Testament were known to the Jews as non-historical is shown by the fact that fragments of the original mythos crop up in the Haggadoth, Talmud, Mishna, Kabalah and other Hebrew sacred scripts, Massey points out. This material was known to the Jews, and obviously not as history. Further, most of it had for ages been known to the Egyptians and again not as history. It is fatal to the historical sense of holy writ that we can turn to such old works as the Kabalah and Enoch and the Zohar and find their scenes, names, numbers and personages identical with those supposed to be historical in the Old Testament. An article in the Classical Journal (Vol. 17, p. 264), by T. T. Massey says that “the 600,000 men who came up out of Egypt as Hebrew warriors in the Book of Exodus are 600,000 inhabitants of Israel in the heavens, according to the Jewish Kabalah, and the same scenes, events and personages that appear as mundane in the Pentateuch are celestial in the Book of Enoch.” Indeed the first “mapping” and “localizing” of events in the life and evolution of the race were unquestionably first celestial and not mundane. It was never anything but empyreal – until gross ignorance supervened upon intelligence and made the tragic conversion.
Even Swedenborg, a pretty credible testifier albeit he saw only with the eye of inner vision, states that “their historical books were written in the prophetic style and for the most part were made-histories, like those contained in Genesis I to XI.” (Arcana Coelesta, 2897.)
In his Jesus and Paul (161) Bacon, who is not specifically aiming at giving the scriptures a mythical rendering, writes that the story of Jesus’ walking on the sea in Mark 6:45-52 has a supplement in Matthew 14:28-33, which further draws out the parallel with purely spiritual meaning; saying that in Jewish symbolism power to tread upon the sea or triumph over it signifies victory over the power of Sheol. And in reference to the inner significance of the “captivities” he speaks of victory over the imprisoning powers of darkness. Also he very rightly says (p. 205) that the history of the conception of the Messiah as a great light entering the lower world of darkness and death to effect both judgment and deliverance would carry us far back into pre-Christian interpretative application of the Isaian passage: “The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light; unto them that dwell in the shadow of death hath the light shined.” This is just the kind of thing that Massey claims throughout, and supports his claim with mountainous evidence.
But Bacon has a passage which comes dangerously close to repudiating the very fundamental of Christianity in his effort to discredit the Gnosis and early Christian esotericism, or some aspects of them. He says (p. 201) that talk about mystical experiences, gnosis, insight into mysteries, fellowship with God and participation in his eternal life, new birth into eternity and the rest of the current mystical jargon of the day, is all froth and self-deception unless it issues in practical deeds of unselfish service. This pungent asseveration is greeted with the heartiest second from this quarter. Indeed in many respects nothing in religious circles needs to be said so forcefully as just this protest against the extravagances and follies of mystical religion in our day and all days. At the same time it must be recognized that the attainment of these things in a sane and balanced way is certainly the aim and goal of the highest Christian aspiration. If it is not so the whole immense body of saintly mystical rhapsodism in the history of the Church is all froth and self-deception. The point of difference, then, is the degree of sanity and balance with which such experiences are undergone and reacted to. So that once more it is seen that the item in all religion that receives the final and crucial emphasis is philosophical intelligence, as a lever of control over the whimsicalities of mysticism. This point, though touched upon here incidentally, is of absolutely transcendent importance in all estimate of true religiosity.
It is a standing challenge to the proponents of this historical thesis of scripture to explain away the eighth verse of the eleventh chapter of Revelation. If every word, verse, chapter and letter of Holy Writ is – as has been solemnly declared by four or five Church Councils – God’s unalterable truth, we then have the Bible itself in the plainest of words declaring the crucifixion of Jesus to be non-literal and non-historical. Speaking of the “two witnesses” (which it explains are the “two olive trees” – therefore certainly not persons or characters) the preceding verse says that “the Dragon shall rise up and slay them.” Then follows the eighth verse with its categorical denial of a historical crucifixion in Jerusalem:
“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
Jesus crucified not in Jerusalem, but in Sodom and Egypt – two places, geographically, making it necessary to assume two crucifixions or a half crucifixion in each place – and these two “places” expressly described, not as physical localities, but as “spiritually” considered. Here is the Bible’s own express declaration that the crucifixion was nothing but a spiritual transaction. Christian exegesis is pretty silent about this verse; it is a question if it has ever been chosen as text for a sabbath sermon. It flies straight in the face of all that ecclesiastical policy stood for from the third century forward to the present. It is the verbatim contradiction of all official Christian theology over sixteen centuries. It is a flat denial of the physical crucifixion and inferentially of the “life” of Jesus, as the Christ. It promises still the final triumph of esotericism. Jerusalem was the “holy city” of the evolved spiritual consciousness, city of “heavenly peace,” as its name implies, and never anything else. As a matter of fact, even in its empyreal connotation, Jerusalem was not the locality of consciousness in which the Christ in us is crucified. Jerusalem, on the contrary, is the city of blessedness in which, after the crucifixion, he enters into the peace of his glorious triumph, carried up to the gates of it on the back of the lowly animal, his body. The place of his crucifixion is not in heaven, where peace abides, but down in the depth (Egyptian Tepht, whence Tophet) of matter, the Sodom and Egypt of the fleshly incarnation. There is enough of the primal truth of Christian beginnings left in this one verse to redeem an errant religion from its lost ways and sorry plight.
One of the Sibyl’s prophecies was to the effect that the Messiah would come when Rome shall be the ruler of Egypt. “When Rome shall rule Egypt, then shall dawn upon men the supremely great kingdom of the immortal king and a pure sovereign will come to conquer the scepters of the whole earth into all ages.” The earliest Church endorsed these Sibylline utterances and cited them to prove the foundation claims of its own religion. Here surely, then, there is a prophecy whose literal fulfillment gave it the lie. Rome did conquer Egypt, and after two thousand years of painful history the world still needs the King of Kings more sorely than ever. Here is an example of fulfilled “prophecy,” the folly of which should – but probably will not – carry disillusionment to the rabid mongers of “Bible Prophecy.”
But there doubtless was esoteric meaning of intelligent sort back of the Sibyl’s utterance. Rome, as the power-center of the world empire, was poetized as the city of epic divine fulfillment, and Egypt, as always in the Bible, was the land of bondage for the soul crucified in body, the “flesh-pots of Egypt.” Of course the kingdom of the Lord of spiritual light would come when “Rome,” the city of attainment, should conquer and rule over “Egypt,” the place of earthly carnal sense. Esotericism redeems another saying of Holy Writ from absurd nonsense and historical contradiction. And it is the only thing that will redeem the whole historical structure of religious meaning from asininity.
Allan Upward writes that in the religion of the inner life “the redemption of the sinner is not so much the historical transaction consummated on the material cross of Calvary as it is the work of the Christ within. . . . Without this feature the history of Christianity can not be understood.”
No less a philosopher than Spinoza has this to say relative to the nature of the Christ (Op. I, 510, Epis. To Oldenburg): “that a knowledge of the Christ after the flesh is not necessary to the spiritual life, but the thing that is necessary is a knowledge of that eternal Son of God, the wisdom of God, which has manifested itself in all things and chiefly in the human mind, and most of all in man perfected as Christos.”
Paul’s verse in I Cor. 15:17 becomes illogical if the historical thesis is held to: “If Christ be not raised, ye are yet in your sins.” Every inference of this statement points to a non-historical and purely intimate personal resurrection. If the resurrection was historical and the verse means what it says, then the logic of the situation makes the resurrection dependent upon the state of sinfulness of the people then, or at any time. He did or did not rise, according as the people’s general sin is eradicated or is still in force. If people are yet sinful, then Christ can not have risen. The sins or righteousness of people would keep the Christ bobbing up and down between earth and heaven, like a barometer registering the world’s batting average in the overcoming of sin. In the esoteric sense the Christ’s resurrection is indeed dependent upon the progress of humanity upward to righteousness. We do still bury him deeper with every sin, or raise him up with every sincere act. He does rise or fall with our advance or backsliding. But if this true theory is applied to the physical resurrection, an ass’s bray is not ribald enough to express its ridiculousness. And again despised esotericism alone saves revered scripture from harlequin comics.
Oddly enough the Encyclopedia Britannica (Article: Jews) takes the view that the varied traditions in Jewish religion up to a later stage can not be regarded as objective history. It is naturally impossible, it says, to treat them from any modern standpoint as fiction; “they are honest even when they are most untrustworthy.” This peculiar characterization defeats its own intent by obvious self-contradiction. What value honest untrustworthiness has is a bit hard to see. The whole muddle is cleared up if the traditions are regarded as honest and trustworthy allegories. For as honest but untrustworthy history they make no sense whatever, and are valueless if untrustworthy.
Any number of texts throughout the Bible at once lose all comprehensible meaning if taken in the historical sense. For instance, there is the statement in I Cor., 6:1: “Do you not know that the Christians are to be the judges of the world? . . . Do you not know that we are to be the judges of angels, to say nothing of ordinary matters? . . . Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ’s body?” Taking “Christians” in its historical sense, the picture gives us the ludicrous scenario of good Church folk in the judgment pronouncing sentence upon Mohammedans, Buddhists, Zoroastrians! And taking Christ’s body as that of Jesus, the man, we would on Paul’s averment be his physical limbs, joints and viscera. Or is it permissible for literalists to take what they like as allegorical and also take what they want as literal? This is their only resort in the end. It makes inconsistency the necessary base of their structure.
Also there is I Cor., 8:6, saying, “yet for us there is . . . just one through whom we live.” If the Lord Jesus Christ is Jesus, he is here declared to have made all things, most of which were here and made before he came. As the cosmic Logos, to be sure, he conceivably made the worlds; but as the man Jesus, his hands would have plenty to do with a few mountains and rivers. In the Oxyrhyncus papyri we have the Logos saying, “I am all that was and is and shall be! And my veil it hath never been lifted by mortals” – appropriate for the divine Word, but fatally inapplicable to the man of flesh. Even this lifting of the veil is drawn from the inscription on the base of the statue of Isis at Sais in Egypt.
Also John’s passage that “he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not,” can have no reference to a personal living Jesus. If this is so it is important to note that even the last clause – that the world knew him not – must have some larger cosmic relevance and can not refer to popular rejection of him and his preachment, according to the accepted interpretation.
A work of great statistical research and vital data is Godbey’s The Lost Tribes a Myth. In it he asserts that modern excavations have shown Egyptian dominance in Palestine through the greater part of 3000 years. There were Israelite kings who were political “sons” of Egypt, and Pharaohs warred to establish their authority. (References to the Book of I Kings are given to support this.) “But,” says Godbey, “there is no extant effort to append the history of Israel to the antiquity of Egypt.” Of course there was not, for the reason that neither Egyptian nor ancient Hebrew literature was dealing with history or antiquity in the historical sense. But if Godbey means that there has been no effort to append Jewish “alleged” history to the religious antiquities of Egypt, Massey’s work alone would sufficiently belie his assertion.
A number of utterances of Jesus in his dramatic character of the cosmic Aeon or Logos makes his human personal stature seem futile and puerile beyond measure. His proclamation that he was before Abraham in the loins of the cosmic creation, helping to shape the universe from the foundation of the worlds, sounds senseless when the majestic words are supposed to come from the lips of a mere man on earth. It is the same with his final consummative plea which he makes to his Father in John to restore unto him that glory which he had with him aforetime in cosmic heavens before the worlds were, after he had come into the world whither he had been sent and had done the divine preaching, “healing,” “miracle-working,” ending with his humiliating crucifixion on a wooden cross, is to reduce cosmic events to the proportion of newspaper chronicles. A great many texts would show the preposterous inapplicability of cosmic characterizations attaching to Jesus as the Logos when referred to Jesus as the man.
The evidence in this chapter is of the kind generally called “textual evidence.” It is by no means lacking in either weight or cogency. What is here assembled is a mere tid-bit or filip to what would be a full meal of this significant material. The quantity could be increased to voluminous proportions. Strong as the temptation is to linger in this field, the practical considerations of the task call for a grappling with a series of far more substantial arguments and evidences in the case, which rise in a scale of pertinence and convincing force from chapter to chapter.
FAITH’S ODD WONDERLAND
An item of sensational testimony bearing upon the pre-Christian origin and character of insignia claimed to be exclusively Christian is the statement of Lundy (Monumental Christianity, p. 125) that the well-known monogram of Christ regarded as an origination of Christianity and a cryptic shorthand signature for the name of their personal Founder, was antecedent to the time of Jesus. Says this author: “Even the XP, which I had thought to be exclusively Christian, are to be found in combination thus: (a insert glyph) on coins of the Ptolemies and on those of Herod the Great, struck forty years before our era, together with this other form so often seen on the early Christian monuments, viz., a insert glyph. And in regard to it, King well remarks, ‘although these symbols, as far as regards their material form, were not invented by the Christians, they nevertheless received at this time a new signification and which became their proper one; and everybody agrees in giving them this peculiar signification.’” (King: Early Christian Numismatics, p. 12 ff.). As to this the important thing is that the emblem was not “invented” by the Christians and must have been therefore pre-extant. As to the “new” signification given it, that is another of those rash statements that are based on sheer assumption and the pious necessity of putting a face on the matter reflecting favorably on Christianity and detrimentally upon paganism, as much as to say that the pagans had the emblem, but of course did not know its real and true import and assigned some base meaning to it, and only the Christians elevated it to pure connotations. There has been enough of this brash apologetic for Christian superiority to sicken the conscientious mind. The truth in this instance happens to be precisely the opposite of what is claimed: it was the philosophical pagans who had the insignium and knew what it meant in its profoundest sense; it was the Christians who adopted it in ignorance and reduced it to the empty status of a supposed abbreviation of the name of a man. Lundy himself lets out a hint that confirms this explanation. He says:
“The Greek monogram, therefore, was the prevailing symbol of Christ as the First and the Last during the first three centuries of the Christian era, as more expressive of the faith in His divine character and mission . . . ; while the cross afterwards became the symbol of his human sufferings and death, until it culminated in the ghastly crucifix. Or rather, the primitive Church dwelt more on the divine side of Christ’s person and office than upon the human.”
This last clause is a hint that entirely falls in consonance with the view that the personal Christ embodied in Jesus was a formulation of later incompetence after nearly two centuries, and not a simple fact stemming from direct original knowledge of such a man’s existence. It is perhaps well to add Lundy’s supplemental remark, that the sacred monogram, as well as the cross, was used in every act of worship, stamped upon the bread of the Eucharist, marked on the foreheads of the baptized and worn on seal rings, long before the term Pope was ever exclusively applied to the Bishop of Rome, or ever Romanism was dreamed of.
Full value must be given to such a fact as that the early Christian Fathers were insistent on comparing many features of antecedent religion with those of Christianity. For one instance Origen elaborately traces out the agreement of the resurrection of Dionysus in the Greek cult with that of Christ, and does it in such a way as to hint that the resurrection was an allegory of the “Pilgrim Soul” and not historical. Paul carries out this hint in Timothy.
The historicity of the Gospel of Mark is directly challenged by Bacon in his Jesus and Paul (p. 147). He declares that when we look at this Roman Gospel which became so completely standard for this whole class of literature that no other considerable record of Jesus’ activity survives, and when we see how the material has been selected and what motive controls the elaboration, it will be perfectly clear that we have in Mark not a biography, not a history, but a collection of anecdotes; and even this collection is made for purposes of edification and not of historical record.
Abraham Geiger, German researcher, agrees with Graetz, one of the most voluminous of German textual critics, in thinking that in Jesus’ teaching “there is nothing new, or that what is new is put before us in a somewhat enervated form, just as it originated during an enervated period.” (Geiger: Das Judentum und Seine Geschichte, p. 119.)
This allusion to enervation falls in harmoniously with the thesis of deterioration of wisdom in Christian acumen after the second or third century.
No students have surpassed the German investigators in thoroughness of research. Another of this group, G. Friedländer, in his The Jewish Sources of the Sermon on the Mount shows with much learning that not only the Sermon on the Mount, but the entire Christian system (excluding its asceticism) is borrowed from the Old Testament, the Book of Ben Sira, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Philo of Alexandria and the earlier portions of the Talmud and Midrash.
Another of the German School, Chwolson, makes a specially noteworthy point that, rightly to understand Pauline and Post-Pauline Christianity, a knowledge of the Sibylline Oracles, Philo and Greek literature generally is most important.
One of the finest Jewish treatises on the subject of Jesus of Nazareth is Joseph Klausner’s work under that title. He says definitely that the fourth Gospel is not a “religio-historical, but a religio-philosophical book.” It was not composed, he says, until about the middle of the second century, at a time when Christians were already distinct from Jews. The object of John’s Gospel is to interpret Jesus as the Logos in the extreme Philonic or cosmic sense, and it therefore passes over such details in the “life” of Jesus as would appear too human! “It may well include a few historical fragments handed down to the author (who was certainly not John the disciple) by tradition; but speaking generally, its value is theological rather than historical or biographical.”
Among capable students in the field of this study who entirely disbelieved in Jesus’ existence are B. Smith and Arthur Drews. Smith denies the existence of the town of Nazareth, in which determination some others have sided with him. Origen in the latter part of the second century states that he could find no trace of “Bethany beyond Jordan.” Smith advances the claim that Jesus was an object of worship to a sect of Nazarites who existed at the time when Christianity came into being, and whom the Christian Father Epiphanius mentions at great length.
It may be noticed in passing that Nietzsche, the philosopher of super-humanity in Germany a half century ago, pronounces the combining of the New Testament artificially with the Old in the Christian system as “perhaps the greatest piece of effrontery and worst kind of ‘sin against the Holy Ghost’ with which literary Europe has ever burdened its conscience.” (Beyond Good and Evil, III, p. 52.)
Nietzsche’s view is endorsed by Grethenbach, who feels that “the solemn endorsement of the Jewish Scriptures now embodied in the ‘Old Testament’ by the Christian Church must stand out forever as one of the most remarkable facts in the history of religion. By this act Christianity made itself liable for and guarantor of a series of writings not a line of which has a known author, and but few incidents of which are corroborated by other testimony; writings which record prodigies and miracles more daring and more frequent than are asserted in the literature of any serious sort promulgated by any other people.” (A Secular View of the Bible.)
This virtually amounts, he thinks, to Christianity’s chaining itself to a “corpse.” However this conclusion must be modified by the knowledge that while the Old Testament literature may be considered a “corpse” if regarded as history – rather a ghost or wraith of history – it must be accepted as a very living thing when taken, as it rightly should be, as vital allegory and drama of verity. Solomon, Grethenbach adds, wise and wealthy as he was, left no inscriptions or other stone witnesses to his name, as did the neighboring monarchs of the Nile and Euphrates.
Meister Eckhardt described the Christ as the collective soul of humanity.
The celebrated Orientalist Rhys Davids in Hibbert Lectures, 1881, (p. 33) declares that historical criticism was quite unknown in the early centuries of Buddhism, “when men were concerned with matters they held to be vastly more important than exact statements of literal history.”
And Vittorio D. Macchioro in his fine work, From Orpheus to Paul supplements this with a statement that is of the utmost cogency in its bearing on the general thesis of this work. He says: “In both cases an historical event, which in the opinion of the believers really happened, becomes a spiritual event for every man at all times.” This concedes essentially the whole case for our argument. This is the true and graphic description of the position of Christianity at this time and for centuries past. It is doing its best to make inspiring sustenance out of events that it feels must have happened because the belief in them yields spiritual nourishment. The Gospel story must be true history, it asseverates, for witness to which see the good effect it has had on believers. The events of Jesus’ life could not have worked so beneficial an effect upon millions and not have happened in reality. There must have been a personal Christ to have made Christianity the religion it has been.
Without the change of a single word this last form of statement may be conceded to be the truth. But if ever truth was a two-edged sword cutting in both directions, it is so in this case, and with damaging consequences for Christianity. True enough (the conception of) a personal Christ was necessary to produce Christianity and make it the religion it has been. The simple contention of this work is that it would have been a far different and far better religion had it been based on the conception of the spiritual Christ instead of the historical Jesus. Would Christian adherents accept their statement in the form which might justly be substituted for the one above? – There must have been a personal Jesus to have made Christianity the witch-baiting, heresy-hunting, doctrine-wrangling, war-waging, bigoted and persecuting religion it has been!
Macchioro testifies to the truth of all that has been claimed here when he goes on to particularize that “in other words, an historical fact, or, if you prefer, a story which Christians regard as an historical fact, I mean the death and resurrection of the Christ, became a mystical fact, the spiritual rebirth of man.” The crux of significance in his statements is the point that the spiritual efficacy of the doctrine is in its being believed, not in its factuality. And it can unquestionably be better believed as allegory than as history. Any faith, factually founded or fancifully conceived, can become an effective agent of human psychologization, if only it is believed hard enough. Even what appear to be the splendid fruits of any religion may only be proving the operations of human psychology and not at all the alleged facts on which the religion is based.
“The Baptism and Eucharist,” concludes Macchioro, “are in the light of history nothing but acts of initiation.”
Bacon admits that Haggadic teaching, whether Jewish or Christian, has no restrictions in the use of fiction save to bring home the religious or moral truth intended. Its one rule is: “Let all things be done unto edification.”
Another German critic, Bruno Bauer, thought the Gospels were “abstract conceptions turned into history, probably by one man – the evangelist Mark.”
W. B. Smith, Tulane University, in Der Vorchristliche Jesus, derives the “Christ myth” from certain alleged “Jesus cults,” dating
from pre-Christian times. Jesus, he thinks, is the name of an ancient Western Semitic cult-god, and he finds a reference to the doctrines held by the devotees of this deity in Acts 18:25, where a Jew, Apollo, coming from Alexandria to Ephesus, already learned in the Way of the Lord, preaches Jesus. He connects the name Jesus with the Nazaraioi, the Nazarenes, a pre-Christian religious society.
Not less summary in his conclusions is Drews, a profound analyst of the Jewish material. He says: “The Gospels do not contain the history of an actual man, but only the myth of the god-man, Jesus, clothed in an historical dress.”
Then there is J. M. Robertson, whose labors unearthed much of the buried truth about the Jesus myth. He calls attention to the notable circumstance that the Miriam of Exodus is no more historical than Moses; like him and Joshua she is to be reckoned an ancient deity euhemerized; and the Arab tradition that she was the mother of Joshua (Jesus) raises an irremovable surmise that a Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have been worshipped in Syria long before our era.
According to Preller (Griech. Myth., I, p. 667) the founder of the Samo-Thracian Mysteries is one Jasion, a name cognate with Jesus. No less so is Jason, the recapturer of the “Golden Fleece,” – divinity coming under the zodiacal sign of Aries, the Ram.
Robertson is emphatic and decisive in his assertion that “the Christian system is a patchwork of a hundred suggestions drawn from pagan art and ritual usage.” No mind open to the relevance of facts and data can study ancient lore extensively without being driven to the same conclusion. Those who deny it simply have not looked at enough of the material.
Even T. J. Thorburn in his work, The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels (p. 91), says that the cave of Bethlehem had been from time immemorial a place of worship in the cult of Tammuz, as it actually was in the time of Jerome; and, as the “quasi-historic David” bore the name of the sun-god Daoud, or Dodo (Sayce: Hibbert Lectures, pp. 56-7), who was identical with Tammuz, it was not improbable on that account that Bethlehem was traditionally the city of David, and therefore no doubt, was deemed by the New Testament mythmakers the most suitable place for the birth of Jesus, the mythical descendant of that quasi-historical embodiment of the god Tammuz or Adonis.
Among the Gnostics Basilides and Valentinus never did acknowledge any historical founder of Christianity. (Massey: Ancient Egypt, p. 904.) And Clement of Alexandria is authority for the statement that it was after his resurrection that Jesus revealed the true Gnosis to Peter, James and John. (Eusebius: H. E., 2:1.)
Epiphanius, in speaking of the “Sabelian Heretics,” says:
“The whole of their errors and the main strength of their heterodoxy they derive from some Apocryphal books, but principally from that which is called The Gospel of the Egyptians . . . for in that many things are proposed in a hidden, mysterious manner as by our Savior.” (Ad. Haeres., 26:2.)
Priceless in value would be that same Gospel of the Egyptians if Christian fury had not destroyed it.
Ancient preoccupation with figurism and neglect of history even extended to a denial of the existence of Orpheus, legendary divine instructor of the Hellenic world. Says Lundy (Monumental Christianity, p. 190):
“Both Bryant and Von Doellinger express the opinion that Orpheus was only a name applied to a school of priests who brought the new cult of Dionysus into Greece. Vossius doubts, with good reason, whether any such person as Orpheus ever existed, citing Aristotle and Suidas to this effect. . . . Orpheus was a title under which Deity was worshipped, and he was the same as Horus of Egypt and Apollo of Greece.”
In the preface to his work, Prehistoric Religion (p. 18), the author, Philo L. Mills, writes that the written Bible is late in its appearance, but absolutely pure and primitive in its message, while the extrabiblical traditions held a priority of composition, but not of content; “they are valuable only so far as they lend confirmation to the biblical record, which is itself founded on prehistorical records, which have since been lost.”
Mosheim (I, p. 482) says of Tatian, one of the later Church Fathers, that he “disclaimed the notion of Christ’s having assumed a real body.”
And he also says that “Marcion indisputably denied that Christ in reality either suffered or died; but at the same time he affirmed that this imaginary or feigned death was attended with salutary consequences to the human race.” By what psychological processes he fancied the Church’s perpetuation of a lie could generate salutary consequences for the human race is another of those doctrinal riddles coming down to us from early Christian days which we are supposed to accept without using our reason.
Mosheim adds that the Marcionites were the most fearless in courting martyrdom among the Christian sects, being surpassed by non “either in the number or the courage of their martyrs.” If this is so, it only unhappily testifies to the fanatical possibilities even among people of considerable intelligence.
Origen, says Mosheim (II, 160), “thought it utterly impossible that God, a being entirely separate from matter, should ever assume a body, or be willing to associate himself with matter. . . . That is, the divine nature, being generally a different substance from matter, the two substances cannot possibly be commingled.”
There is apparent here a singular lack of esoteric systemology on Origen’s (or perhaps Mosheim’s) part. For that soul everywhere does commingle with matter to effect the work of creation is taught in Platonic-Orphic, Hermetic, and all ancient religious systems. But Origen was astute in recommending to the preachers of Christianity to carry into their practice a set of instructions he prescribed, following the maxim that it is vastly important to the honor and advantage of Christianity that all its doctrines be traced back to the sources of all truth, or to be shown to flow from the principles of philosophy; and consequently that a Christian theologian should exert his ingenuity and industry primarily to demonstrate the harmony between religion and reason, or to show that there is nothing taught in the Scriptures but what is founded in reason. If only sixteen centuries of Christian theologians had followed Origen’s prescription!
Mosheim has been quoted as saying that a serious fault of Origen’s was that “he lauded immoderately the recondite and mystical sense of scripture and unreasonably deprecated the grammatical and historical sense.” If this was or is a fault, how can the existence of a single theological seminary in Christian ecclesiasticism ever be justified? If there is no recondite or mystical meaning underneath the scriptures, why does it need a life training of their expositors, and why are the laity kept in ignorance of their deeper import? The gross absurdity of such whinings against the esoteric side of religion and its sacred books can now be better seen in its bald childishness.
Mosheim has to go to the length of saying the damaging thing that it is not good sense to be enthusiastic over the sublimer interpretations of scripture! And this is precisely the absurd dilemma in which Christian theology has always entangled itself in its efforts to talk down the esoteric element in its own history. It has to repudiate itself at its own best. There is no quibbling over the point: either there is a deeper sense to the scriptures, to all religious exposition, to the profounder experience of religion itself, than the simple-minded can apprehend, or all the labored academic studies in the field have been an extravagance and an impertinence. When they are sincere, all Christian mystics and Christianity’s greatest preachers have endlessly emphasized the deeper intuitions of “the life hid with Christ” in the deeper chambers of human consciousness. The ecclesiastical quarrel with and hostility toward esotericism is on the face of it both dialectically irrational, directly treasonable and patently self-contradictory. It is a grave question whether there is not full warrant for characterizing it as a base sell-out of its own true genius for the reward of currying the support of the illiterate masses. It is a betrayal and re-crucifixion of the Christ in man, that has continued from the third century down to this present.
We have also seen, in his strictures upon Origen’s addiction to “allegory” how Mosheim reflects the constant theological fear of allegory, which is based on the ever-present possibility that if you give free-thinkers and Gnostics an inch of allegory in the scriptures, they may quickly stretch it to a mile and embrace the whole of scripture in your tropes. As between absurd and impossible history and sublime allegorical truth, the truth must be sacrificed for the history.
A light on the date of “Luke’s Gospel” is found in the item that Theophilus, the friend to whom Luke addresses himself in the opening chapter, was Bishop of Antioch from about 169 to 177 A.D. (Cath. Ency., XIV, 625). If Luke was written 120 to 130 years after Jesus’ death, the chances of its being a legitimate, well-historicized and positive account of events so far past, and entirely quiescent in the interval since their occurrence, are very slim indeed.
To prove Old Testament “history” unauthentic does not directly discredit whatever may be genuine New Testament history. Still it would strengthen the case against the reliability of the latter if the Old can be disproved. So Higgins (Anac., p. 633) remarks how extraordinary a thing it is that the destruction of the hosts of Pharaoh should not have been known to Berosus, Strabo, Diodorus or Herodotus, that they should not have heard of these stupendous events either from the Egyptians or from the Syrians, Arabians or Jews. Yet, he subjoins, the same “events” happened in India. The Afghans or Rajapoutans, shepherd tribes as at this day, invaded south India and conquered Ceylon, then were driven out over Adam’s bridge; and the same kind of catastrophe is said to have overtaken their pursuers as that which overwhelmed the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites in the “Red” Sea.
For its circumstantial significance it is well to bring to daylight another feature of historical fact that has received no attention for centuries. This is the matter of the monumental record of Jesus’ burial. Says Lundy (Monu. Christ., p. 256):
“The earliest example of our Lord’s burial which exists among the monuments of primitive Christianity is, perhaps, that of an ivory in the Vatican, of the sixth century, which represents a square structure surmounted by a dome . . . with a sleeping soldier on one side of it, and two of the holy women who came early in the morning to anoint the dead body of their Lord. No such representations are found in the catacombs or ‘early’ churches either of the East or West. . . . So careful was early Christian art in abstaining from all painful representation of the Lord. It is a hint to modern idealists in art that they go and do likewise.”
Perhaps it is also a hint that the basis of historical factuality behind the story of the Christ’s death was too completely wanting.
At the same level of significance is the sister fact that Lundy brings out (Monu. Christ., p. 268). This time it is the resurrection.
“It is a most singular fact that no actual representation of our Lord’s resurrection has yet been discovered among the monuments of early Christianity. The earliest that I can find is that published by Mr. Eastlake in Mrs. Jameson’s History of Our Lord, representing a temple-like tomb, with a tree growing behind it on which two birds are feeding; the drowsy guards are leaning on the tomb, one asleep, the other awake, and two others are utterly amazed and confounded; an angel sits at the door of the sepulcher speaking to the three holy women; and our Lord is ascending a hill with a roll in one hand, while the other is grasped by the hand of the Eternal Father, as it is seen reaching down out of heaven. It is an ivory carving and said to belong to the fifth or sixth century. It is at Munich.”
Lundy adds that as the crucifixion is only indicated by symbol, so doubtless is the resurrection.
Grethenbach reminds us that we must make liberal allowance in our reading of New Testament Scripture for the desire on the part of Jesus’ biographers to make the “incidents” of his life conform to the texts of ancient sacred works. Hence, he says, each reader must judge for himself whether he is being treated to fact or to the results of this process of conformity. What a basis for the substantiation of events that have determined the religion of one third of mankind!
In his History of the Christian Religion to the Year 200 Waite affirms there is no evidence that any of those Gospels which were basic documents back of Matthew, Mark, and Luke taught the miraculous conception or the material resurrection of Christ, or contained any account of his miracles, or any references to any book containing such accounts or teachings. Waite says it can not be denied that evidence that the canonical Gospels were unknown to Justin Martyr is very strong, and indeed conclusive, and that his references and quotations were not from them but from other known Gospels, of which Irenaeus says there were many.
A weighty consideration is back of Waite’s strong sentence that “no work of art of any kind has been discovered, no painting or engraving, no sculpture or other relic of antiquity, which may be looked upon as furnishing additional evidence of the existence of those Gospels, and which was executed earlier than the latter part of the second century. Even the exploration of the catacombs failed to bring to light any evidence of that character.”
It would certainly appear that the event of Jesus’ life had no relation to the time of its recording. It has never occurred to partisan zealots that almost indubitably this would be an indication that the “recording” had no relation to the event. An event that begins to be recorded only two hundred years after its occurrence hardly has a legitimate claim to the title of history. It must inevitably be a construction of legend and romanticism, which is exactly what the “life” of Jesus proves to be when examined.
Miss Holbrook says that the four Gospels were written in Greek (by Hebrew fishermen and simple unlearned citizens) and that there was no translation of them into other languages earlier than the third century. No autograph manuscript of any of them has ever been known, nor has any credible witness ever claimed to have seen such a manuscript. Origen says that the four were selected from a very large number, and Irenaeus says that the four were chosen out of many because there were four universal winds and four quarters to the globe. Such a reason for the number selected puts entirely out of court the reason commonly and naïvely believed to have been the guiding one – the selection of four because there were but four in existence. Of the ordinary natural motives that led to the writing and preserving of actual history, not a single one is evident in the production of the Gospels. Neither the time of their composition, nor the character of their material, nor the knowledge of their existence, nor the definiteness of any data concerning them bears evidence of their being veridical history.
Hippolytus claims that the Basilidian Gnostics accepted the Gospel entirely, but Mead asserts that there is evidence to prove they did not. On the contrary they explained such material as the historicized legends of initiation, the process of which is magnificently worked out in the Pistis Sophia treatise. Mead says of the learned Gnostic societies that in their eyes a Gospel was always taken in the sense of an exposition of the things beyond the phenomenal world. As they were the most intelligent of the early Christians, it is warrantable to regard their views as far the most likely version of the truth. The Basilidian view of Jesus was that he was the perfect “man” within the psychic and animal soul of man, or the innermost divine ray of consciousness within the mortal body.
A point of fair cogency is made by Harry Elmer Barnes (The Twilight of Christianity, p. 415) that if Jesus had been the Son of God, neither he nor his Father would have allowed his doctrines to be perverted and later almost wholly supplanted by a jumbled compound of Judaism and paganism.
It counts for much in the argument that Mead (Did Jesus Live 100 Years B.C.?, p. 324) makes it clear that the name “Christian” was not a title given by the early followers of Jesus to themselves. Indeed it is found still unused by a series of Christian writers of the first half of the second century at the time when it was employed by Pliny the Younger in 112 A.D., by Tacitus in 116-117 A.D., and by Suetonius in 120 A.D. These Christian writers were content to designate the early communities of these co-believers by such expressions as “brethren,” “saints,” “elect,” “the called,” “they that believed,” “faithful,” “disciples,” “they that are in Christ,” “they that are in the Lord,” and “those of the way.”
A touch of early Christian association of doctrine with Egyptian origins that did not suffer erasure by the vandal hands, is seen in an identification, by Augustine and Ambrose amongst the Christian Fathers, of Jesus with and as the “good scarabaeus,” the Egyptian name for the divine Avatar coming under the zodiacal sign of Cancer, the Crab or Beetle. In accordance with the continuation for some time of the Kamite symbolism in Christianity, it was also maintained by some sectaries that Jesus was a potter and not a carpenter. The Egyptian God Ptah was the divine Potter, or shaper of the clay of man’s nature into divine form.
Not one person in thousands in the Church today has the faintest idea when the chronology or dating of the Christian era was fixed. Mead states that Dionysius of the sixth century, following Victorious of Aquitaine of the preceding century, fixed the date of the nativity of Jesus. Turner of Oxford, in his article on the Chronology of the New Testament in Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible, gives the nativity in B.C. 7-6. In the Ency. Biblica von Soden of Berlin, under “Chronology” gives the Birth “circa 4 B.C.” Some encyclopedias give two to three years of the ministry, others but one year.
Likewise Mead cites the judgment of many scholars that the speeches of the persons in the Acts of the Apostles are the most artificial element in a book already vastly discredited as history. Schmiedel pointed out that the author constructed the utterances in each case according to his own conception. Even Headlam, the writer of the conservative article in Hastings’ Dictionary, admits that the speeches are “clearly in a sense the author’s own compositions.”
It is impossible to ignore the force of the rather startling fact baldly stated by Mead (Did Jesus Live 100 Years B.C.?, p. 48) when he writes:
“It has always been an unfailing source of astonishment to the historical investigator of Christian beginnings that there is not one single word from the pen of any pagan writer of the first century of our era which can in any fashion be referred to the marvelous story recounted by the Gospel writers. The very existence of Jesus seems unknown.”
Mead goes deeply and carefully into the early use of the term Nazarioi (Nazarenes, Nazarites, Nazarians, etc.) and cites especially Epiphanius’ references to it, showing how this careless or over-imaginative “historian” of the “heresies” entangles himself in many flagrant contradictions in his statements. Says Mead:
“The historical fact underlying all this contradiction seems to be simply that ‘Nazoraei’ was a general name for many schools possessing many views differing from the view which subsequently became orthodox. Their descendants are the Mandaites of southern Babylonia, who have the Codex Nazaraeus.”
Epiphanius claims strenuously that the Nazoraeans were the first Christians and that they used both Old and New Testament, – though how they could have used the New Testament when it was not yet in existence, he does not explain! Incidentally the present thesis that there were extant many documents like the Logia or Sayings and various Mystery ritual texts or “Gospels” in all the ancient period, both before, during and after Jesus’ “life,” is the only one that permits us to solve the difficulty of Epiphanius’ claims without charging him with overt lying. The “Gospels” were in existence, yes, but not as the canonical Gospels officially apotheosized at Nicea in 325. But so were they in existence centuries before Christ.
Further with reference to the term Nazar, Mead (Did Jesus Live 100 Years B.C.?, p. 346) has to say that the Old Testament Nazirs were those “consecrated” to Jahweh by a vow, and their origin goes back to very early times in Jewish tradition.
“Now it is to be remembered,” he says, “that in Numbers VI the word nezer is applied to the taking of the Nazirite vow of separation and consecration, and the name netzer (branch) is given to one of the disciples of Jesus in the Talmud, and in one of the Toldoth recensions to Jeschu himself, and that the commentators are agreed that this is a play on notzri, the Hebrew for ‘Nazarene,’” or Galilean.
In discussing the Ebionites, one of the earliest Christian sects, Mead says that the main charge against them, as related by Hippolytus (Philos., VIII, p. 34) is that they, like all the earliest “heretics” decried
the later doctrine of the miraculous physical virgin birth of Jesus. Strange to note again that the closer one gets to the period of Jesus’ alleged time, the greater and more general is the denial or ignorance of his existence. The further one draws away from it, the greater and more insistent the “proofs” of it! This again entirely reverses the universal phenomenon of a historical recording. Most living characters are homely and familiar entities during and immediately after their lives, and only wax romantic and haloed after centuries have elapsed. But Jesus was airy and ethereal in the first century, and crystallized into quite concrete personality after several centuries. Every writer about him from the twelfth century on can describe his appearance, his moods, his motives to meticulous particularity far better than anyone writing in the first century.
A curious early Christian document is Justin’s Dialogue Cum Trypho, or debate with Trypho, in which (xlix) he puts the following argument into the mouth of his Jewish opponent:
“Those who affirm him to have been a man, and to have been anointed by election, and then to have become a Christ (Anointed), appear to me to speak more plausibly than you,” that is, than Justin, who maintained the physical birth of Jesus.
Justin represents his opponent as arguing that Jesus was born naturally like other humans, and not by a miracle of virgin parturition. But this whole debate is wide of the mark, since the question is not whether his birth was natural or supernatural, but whether it was a physical event at all, – not how it occurred, but whether it occurred. The question is not one of quality or manner, but purely one of fact.
A work of Celsus, the pagan debater with Origen, called The True Logos, which certainly would have yielded us much light on all early Gnostic or esoteric interpretation of sacred writings, has been destroyed by the Christians.
It may with many carry weight in the discussion that both Kant and Hegel negate the historical Jesus.
Of the Church Fathers Irenaeus seems never to have subscribed to the legend of Jesus’ death on the cross, or his death at all at the early age of thirty-three years. It is a curious thing and hard to explain in the face of the claim that Jesus’ life was accepted historically by the universal early Church, that Irenaeus repeats the famous legend which
refutes the Gospel “history” flatly. Irenaeus was born in the early part of the second century between 120 and 140 A.D. He was Bishop of Lyons, France; and he repeats a tradition testified to by the elders, which he alleges was derived directly by them from John, the “Disciple of the Lord,” to the effect that Jesus was not crucified at the age of thirty-three, but that he had passed through every age and lived on to be an “oldish man.” And we are permitted to wonder how such a tradition, attributed to so accredited a source as John, could have lived on for so many years, if the general field was occupied by the factual acceptance of the Gospel narrative, or how it could have been purveyed by a Bishop of such eminence in the Church as Irenaeus.
There are other semi-authenticated tales and legends which keep Jesus alive beyond his early thirties, and afloat in our modern day are works and canards purporting to expose a lost record of the Savior’s escape from death in Judea and his travels and teachings in Eastern monasteries, inevitably in Tibet and the Himalayas, that Shamballah of spiritual mystery, where any such fanciful history can safely be localized. The significant thing to note about all this is that the late inventions in the field of etherealized imagination are very likely no more daring and bizarre than those of the earlier centuries.
Candor and honest reflection have both had to be cast aside and a curtain of reticence drawn over the glaring data which operate so directly to contradict the historicity of Jesus, in the material of the famous fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. By theologians it is known as the chapter of the “Suffering Servant.” In it are depicted in the most vivid and memorable phraseology the sufferings of the divine agent of human redemption, who sacrifices his heavenly heritage and reduces himself to the form of a lowly servant to bear the sins of wayward men. It is too well known to need quotation. Its impressive recital of the Logos bearing our sins in his body and suffering agony for our transgressions is unforgettable literature. But the point to note is that it is a descriptive summary of exactly what the “historical” Jesus experienced in his earthly career, and it was written centuries before Jesus “lived.” Again it appears that Jesus’ biography was in considerable part written before he came.
Massey has called attention to the fact, disconcerting to the supporters of the historical thesis, that the Jesus of Revelation is described with female breasts. The conception of supernal deity as androgyne motivated the representation of types of deity as combined male and female. But this was all in the allegorical portrayal and it removes the data from history. In this light Lord Raglan’s statement can be well credited, that we can not go far toward the true realization of the meaning of ancient literary formulations without recognizing that the archaic tomes rest on no historical foundations, but that they are documents illustrating the development of religious ideas and systems that are of the highest importance. And when research has fortified itself with this initial instrument of correct comprehension, Raglan avers that all the difficulties will disappear. For that which is difficult and impossible as history, becomes not only possible but sublimely illuminating as mythicism.
This chapter must include an item of the most curious sort, that will doubtless fall with great surprise and some dismay into the minds of many readers. This has to do with the several varying reports or accounts of Jesus’ personal appearance and beauty – or ugliness – of physical features. We have here one of the most certain instances of the confusion of allegory with history, for on no other grounds can so eccentric a misconstruction be accounted for. Very understandably all the prevalent notions of the Christ’s personality picture him as of the highest order of comeliness. It would not match popular conceptions of his character to think of him otherwise. Surely the Son of God could be nothing less than radiant with charm and beauty. If he had not been comely, he would have had to be made so to give devotees the only picture of him that would have been acceptable to their fancies. Hence every painting and sculpture from the early centuries portrayed him as a man of typical saintliness and beauty. The imaginative genius of artists has extended itself to the utmost to create a form and appearance, mien and expression, that would most fully embody the highest Christian conception of divine character. Jesus was painted to depict what the Christian imagination conceived the perfect man and Son of God in human form to be like. This portrayal represented in the finale a compromise between or composition of the worldly ideal of natural masculine beauty and celestial spirituality, softened by the elements limned in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the man of sorrows who bore our pains in his person. It disturbs many who like to emphasize his humanity, in which he is presented as in all respects like unto us, to read that he never laughed. This tradition precluded his ever being pictured laughing. Laughter, though one of the commonest and most natural of human expressions, does not quite comport with the heavier dignity and gravity of the theological conception of his nature and mission. It is a little too light to harmonize with the more austere solemnity of his earthly errand. Human laughter is not commonly thought of as divine, and if the gods laugh, we are not too certain it befits their empyreal dignity. They might be laughing at us. Laughter is commonly too close to carousal and buffoonery to be seemingly associated with high divinity. Our notion of divinity is inevitably colored with Sabbath sanctity of decorum. Our puritanical bent had pretty effectively debarred laughter from the Sabbath, hence from religion, and hence from the Christ’s personality.
The portraiture of Jesus inevitably took the form and character which these considerations dictated, and we have the conventional form, face, bearing and clothing so well known. But it will come with a heavy shock to all who with uncritical minds have accepted this portrayal as at least tentatively a possibility of likeness to the living person of Jesus, to learn for the first time that a number of the earliest Fathers positively stated that Jesus was ugly, ungainly, uncomely and deformed! We can do no better than cite Lundy’s findings on this matter (Monu. Christ., p. 232):
“Now it is worthy of special consideration that none of the sculptured or painted representations of Christ in early Christian art exactly agree with the reputed descriptions given of his personal appearance by Agbarus, Lentulus and others. It is not an easy matter to determine when the mere symbols of Christ were developed into pictorial and sculptured representations of his person; but one thing is certain, viz., that the uniform testimony of the earliest writers of the Christian era is to the effect that our Lord’s person was insignificant and void of beauty, but that the spirit which shone through his humanity was all beauty and glory.”
Again Lundy wrestles (p. 231) with the point:
“The New Testament writings give no account of our Lord’s personal appearance. ‘Fairer than the children of men’ in mind, body and soul was the Hebrew ideal of the Messiah, as the Psalmist expresses it. (XLV:2): and ‘He hath no form nor comeliness,’ no attractive beauty, is another Hebrew aspect of him, as Isaiah reports it; and with such opposite prophetic anticipations, is it any wonder that the subject of them has actually given rise to two schools of ancient Christian art, or rather two different modes of treating our Lord’s personal appearance? One made him the young and blooming and beautiful Divinity, like Krishna, Mithra and Apollo; the other gave him a sad and ugly face, covered by a beard, and made him really and literally ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’”
Lundy should have added Isaiah’s more specific details of portraiture in the verse which runs: “How was his visage marred, more than any man; and his form, more than the sons of men; disfigured till he seemed a man no more, deformed out of the semblance of a man.” The Son of God, deformed more than even humankind! This puts the entire historicity in jeopardy. The structure of Christian theology rests very definitely upon the claim that the babe of Bethlehem was the literal and historical fulfillment of Old Testament “prophecy.” It is now caught in the dilemma of having to admit – if Jesus was divinely comely – that the prophecy failed of fulfillment in this important and specific item. To have fulfilled the “prophecy” Jesus must be put down as ugly and deformed! And if Jesus is admitted to have been ill-featured, then millions upon millions of pages of Christian pious effusion about the Galilean’s austere beauty must be reduced to what they are at any rate – unctuous froth.
We find Justin Martyr, early second century Father, quoted as follows: “He appeared without comeliness, as the scriptures declared,” when he came to the Jordan. Clement of Alexandria deposed to this effect: “the Lord himself was uncomely in aspect . . . his form was mean, inferior to men.” Celsus, in his debate with Origen, argues that since the Divine inhabited the body of Jesus, that body must certainly have been different and more beautiful and radiant than common, in grandeur, beauty, strength, voice, impressiveness and influence, “whereas his person did not differ in any respect from another, but was, as they report, little and ill-conditioned and ignoble, i.e., low and mean.” Origen in rebuttal protests Celsus’ using the prophet’s description in literal application to the man Jesus, and argues that any way all human meanness was changed and glorified in his transfiguration, resurrection and ascension. Tertullian decides that no matter how poor and despised that body may be, Jesus is still his Christ, be he inglorious, ignoble and dishonored. David’s words that “he is fairer than the children of men” are applicable in that figurative sense of spiritual grace, when he has put on his shining armor of beauty and glory. Tertullian (Flesh of Christ, Ch. 9) says “his body did not reach even to human beauty, to say nothing of heavenly glory.” Augustine sidesteps the bald issue by asseverating his beauty in all his functions, offices, acts, miracles, words, character and mission. He summarizes his position in his statement (De Trinitate, VIII, Ch. 4, tom. 8, p. 951, Migne’s Ed.): “Whatever the bodily appearance or face of our Lord was, it was but one, yet it was represented and diversified by a variety of numberless ideals.” Lundy observes that this passage clearly proves that in Augustine’s day the representations of Jesus’ features were according to each Christian or Gnostic artist’s own conception, and that the theologian-saint would have mentioned any portrait of Jesus if there had been one extant, either of him or of his mother, the virgin Mary. For he adds: “We know not the face or personal appearance of the Virgin Mary.” (De Trinitate, VIII, Ch. 5.)
Abarbanel says that the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah can not apply to the personal Messiah, because of the prevailing tradition of the Jewish people that he was a beautiful and blooming youth. This tradition surely had its roots in the imaginative characterizations of the Messiah as the sun-god, which gave to Krishna, Agni, Mithra, Zarathustra, Horus and Apollo the ruddiest bloom of youth and beauty.
It has already been demonstrated that the letter of Lentulus in which Jesus is described ostensibly from first-hand knowledge is a forgery. It goes on to state that Jesus’ hair is the color of wine and golden from the root, and from the top of the head to the ears straight and without luster, but descending from the ears in glossy curls to the shoulders, flowing down the back and parted in two portions down the middle after the manner of the Nazarenes; his forehead is smooth, his face without blemish and slightly mantled with a ruddy bloom; his expression is noble and gracious. His nose and mouth are faultless. His beard is full and abundant and of the wine and gold color of his hair, and forked. His eyes are blue and very brilliant. In rebuke and reproof he is awe-inspiring, in exhortation and instruction he is gentle and persuasive. None has seen him laugh, but many have seen him weep. His person is tall and slender; his hands long and straight, his arms graceful. In speech he is grave and deliberate, his language and manner quiet and simple. In beauty he surpasses the most of men.
John Damaschius of the eighth century cites an early tradition saying he was like his mother, assuming her features. Lundy, quotes Didron as testifying to the descriptions of him as given by those mystics to whom he appeared in psychic vision. These say that he was tall, clad like a Jew, beautiful of face, the splendor of divinity darting from his eyes, his voice full of sweetness. Lundy notes that these traditions do not agree with the Patristic writings on the subject nor with the portraits copied by Boscio from the frescoes of the catacombs. Lundy concludes by citing the fact that there is nearly a score of examples like the two copied by Boscio, where the ugly and bearded Christ and the beautiful and beardless one occur together on the same monuments!
This whole debate in the early Church forum is a striking instance of the ignorance and confusion concerning their own theological material in which the Christians became entangled by reason of their smothering Egypt’s time-honored wisdom. Egypt stood all the while holding in her hands the answer to the riddle of the two contradictory versions of Jesus’ personal appearance. Its Messianic Horus was figuratively two characters in one, “the double Horus,” “Horus of the two horizons” (west and east). “Horus the Elder and Horus the Younger.” As the elder he typified the adult divinity of one cycle; as the younger, he was the new-born son of that aged father. Horus the Elder represented the aged past, Horus the Younger the new-born present and the coming future. As Massey so convincingly shows, the two characterizations passed over into Christianity through Gnostic or other channels, and after some time the inner connections having been lost, both stood facing the ignorant Christians with all explanation gone. Hence the debate in the dark. Again we have a grim demonstration of what a miscarriage of rational sense is produced the moment allegory is converted into history.
There has been grouped in this chapter a long series of data, all of a certain evidential character bearing with accentuated force upon the chief point to be established by the work. It is not the first time that one or more of these points have been raised. But it is the first time that they have been assembled into an organic whole and focused directly upon a single object on the basis of a thesis adequate to give them all a unified coherence and consistency. All acquire a substantial force and pertinence through the application of the keys of the esoteric method and the esoteric wisdom. And while perhaps no one of them may be claimed to exert decisive influence in the final conclusion, the articulated phalanx of them all in linked array does indeed present a massive body of evidence for the case that can not be pushed aside by any critic. If this was the whole evidence the case would still be strong. Limited space has curtailed the expansion of some of the points, as others of far great cogency are awaiting presentation. Many of these are so strong in their testimony that single ones among them might be deemed of sufficient weight and decisiveness to support the main contention. Collectively they must be accounted as constituting final and conclusive proof. The first group of these deals with the incidents and circumstances connected with the Nativity of Jesus. When these incredible circumstances of alleged history are carefully scrutinized and seen at last in their relation to Egyptian elucidative constructions, the weakness of the historical rendition of the Gospels will be apparent with a vividness never before realized. The Gospel narrative has been so romanticized with far-away ideality that the mere act of facing the data in the full realistic sense as history that actually occurred is itself a shocking experience to hypnotized votaries. It is a straight fact that, stripped of their imaginative halo, most of the Gospel events stand forth eerie and grotesque to naked vision. The readiest way to discredit three fourths of the Biblical “history” is to take the narrative strictly at its word – and then reproduce it with literal realism. The general result is slap-stick comedy ready for Hollywood’s jaded producers, buffoonery raised to the square or cube.