Who is this King of Glory? – A Critical Study of the Christos-Messiah Tradition 4
Alvin Boyd Kuhn
AN EPOCHAL DISCOVERY
The general proposition herein advanced that the Bible is a literary work executed in accordance with ancient patterns of design and method which are scarcely as yet envisaged in relation to their significance receives an astonishing confirmation and reinforcement from a source that came to hand only recently and as it were by accident. It has to do with the literary form-structure of the Bible books and not with their contents. But so startling is this revelation of a definite arrangement of material according to one or more peculiar form-patterns that the conviction of a hidden purpose and cryptic significance far beyond the recording of mere history in the Bible is overwhelmingly stamped on the mind. The form of this peculiar structure is so organically articulated that its claims on the attention reduce the content almost to secondary significance. This discovery has been released to the world by N. W. Lund in a book bearing the non-revealing and uninspired title of Chiasmus in the New Testament. With great detail and system and no little ingenuity the author has segregated portions of material in both Old and New Testaments into unit or constituent groups and then systematized the phrase and sentence elements of each group into the scheme of a surprisingly methodological arrangement, which roughly forms when diagramatically represented the Greek letter “Chi,” whence the word Chiasmus, the name of the scheme. (For practical purposes the letter “Chi” is our “X.”)
There is a progressing succession of elements (words, phrases, constructions, whole sentences) more commonly numbering three (A, B, C or 1, 2, 3) reaching a climactic culmination in the fourth member, D, from which there is an anti-climactic recession through the same or repetition of the same or similar elements in the reverse order, D, C, B, A, or 4, 3, 2, 1. The author has succeeded in making an unbelievably large amount of Bible material fit this model structure without the usual necessity of stretching it to make his thesis hold good. Perusal of his work fixes the inexpugnable conclusion that this strange arrangement is not fortuitous and that a very large portion of the whole of the Bible was cast in the mold of this diagram or variants of it! Indeed as one finishes his work one stands pretty close to the persuasion that form was almost the primary consideration of the Bible writers and content secondary. There seems to have been a greater concern with the poetic mechanics of the writing than with the message or meaning. There is indeed something bordering on a suggestion of an eerie element in all this, as if the purpose of scriptural writing was to impart a conception of structure as an integral element in the total message, or as a cryptic haunting of a cosmogonic design behind the flowing content. Students have labored and claimed to uncover such woven-in patterns in the plays of Shakespeare.
We are challenged to adduce some theory as to the significance of this remarkable formation. It seems obvious that it is an attempt to introduce what the Hindus call “mantric force,” a power of suggestion much like, but greater than, that of rhyme and meter in poetry, into the recital of verses chanting the import of cosmic creation and the life movement. If it was possible to sing of creation in the identical analogue and symbolic lines of that creation, a magically powerful psychological efficacy might be superinduced upon the mind.
Now the ancients conceived of divine spirit as descending into matter through three and one half kingdoms (see the number three and a half in the exact middle chapters, 11 and 12, in the Book of Revelation), reaching its nadir of full manifest expression in the middle of the fourth (the Gospels’ “fourth watch in the night”), and then returning with its fruits of experience to its celestial home through the same three kingdoms, in reverse order. From top down these three and one half kingdoms might be denominated the Nirvanic, Atmic, Buddhic and Intellectual (in Hindu nomenclature), or perhaps Super-Spiritual, Spiritual, Intuitional and Mental. The outward or downward progress of spirit through these three and a half states of consciousness was the emanation of soul into matter or embodiment of which all the ancient scriptures speak. It was the Greek “descent of the soul.” At the same time the life in the still inchoate atom began an evolution from below upward, and it, too, progressed onward through three and one half kingdoms of nature, the mineral, vegetable, animal, and the animal-human, landing in the middle of the fourth or human, where it met and conjoined its physical energies with the unit of divine potency that had come down from above. Here at a common meeting place the two forces, spirit and matter, pressing ahead in opposite directions but toward each other, combine in what the old scriptures universally denominate a marriage, from which is to come the progenation of the next surge or cycle of ongoing life. It is at this meeting point of spirit and matter, soul and its body, that all meaning and all experience-value are localized. Soul descends half way from the summit of being and matter and rises half way from the bottom, and the two meet at the only place their energies can be synchronized and eventually harmonized, which is just exactly at the middle point in the seven levels of the gamut of being. For man the meeting point is right in his body and brain.
Again this is diversion into exegesis, which is not the quest in this work; but it may be of great value if it reveals to the detractors of the esoteric and symbolic systems of Biblical construction how far they are off track and how far they must penetrate into the scorned intricacies and subtleties of the obvious esoteric methodology of the ancients who wrote the scriptures if they would unlock the doors leading to the buried treasures of a manifestly cryptic bibliology. To chant the verses in measured cadence and lift, or in successive crescendo and diminuendo, with the movement of the creative life waves expressed and felt through the miniature imitation of that cosmic rhythm would be to sway mind and soul in rapport with the cosmic pulse. It would be to join in living grasp of their fundamental meaning the two mightiest symbols of all religion, the cross and the number seven, in one dramatic and tonic linking, that would powerfully stir the ritualistic instinct in human nature. Nothing less than this is indeed the genius of ritualism: a small measured action of body and voice while symbolic emblemism tugs at the mind, copying in miniature the basic structural movement of the universe of life. When the little action of man falls into exact rapport with the beat and rhythm of the pulse of life and the movement of the cosmic creation, something in the creature’s natures rises in strong joy to acknowledge the harmony. It is a synchronization of beat and wave-length that provides a wireless channel for the free discharge of a higher force. This is the ground of the mantric efficacy of all music and poetry. Then when to this perfect accord of the swing there is joined the intellectual perception that goes with full appreciation of the meaning of the accompanying symbols, the combined mental-emotional effect is something of grandeur in man’s inner life that has been lost out of religious experience since ancient days. The loss came through the vitiation of the esoteric significance of rite and symbol; so that one half the elevating power of its own ritual and emblemism has been lost to Christianity as the result of the debacle in esotericism in the third century.
In connection with Lund’s important disclosure may be noted his own statement that the study of folk-lore is especially valuable from the consideration that it presents a similar development to that of the Gospel tradition. This is a discernment almost if not quite equal in significance to his discovery of the chiasmus. Lord Raglan’s The Hero had hinted at this same perception and Massey had been working in the spirit of it for forty years. The incredulous reader may well demand to be shown the nexus of relationship between folk-lore and the Gospel tradition, for it is superficially not apparent. However, things not connected by visible links may be united subterraneously. It is so here. The cord of linkage lies deep and runs far back in time, in fact to the very origins of human culture. In reality folk-lore and the religious deposit emanated from the same source. They represent but two divergent streams from the same fountain. The one took the path of intellectual studiousness and remained couched in philosophic, symbolic and dramatic esotericism; the other advanced outward toward popular expression and took the form of legend, hero-tale and nature-cultism, frequently becoming entwined with local reference. The first maintained itself on the mysticism of the intellect, the other on the mysticism of nature, and hence the latter included the activity of nature spirits, elementals, sprites of forest, hill and vale. One needs but to go back far enough in the analysis of the folk-tale to find that it runs at last into the same sub-vein of meaning as that from which the Bibles sprang. New and again most significant testimony to this same effect is advanced by the eminent psychologist, C. G. Jung, who says that he finds the same alphabet of symbolic characters appearing in the type-dreams of his clinical patients as appears in the folk-lore and religions of the nations. Some of the characters in this symbolic alphabet are the cross, the tree, numbers, the serpent, the star, the bee, fish, water, fire and the rest.
Of great pertinence, then, is Lund’s statement (p. 17) that what he calls form-history is a preliminary study to the history of literature. The critical interest of form-study is not the Gospel content, or the Gospels as they now stand, but it lies in the small component units of Gospel formation. These portions – which can be strangely cut off from the context and stand unsupported – Lund says have had a long history before they entered the written Gospels! As astonishing corroboration of earlier statements to the same effect made in this work, this pronouncement of Lund merits all possible emphasis. Our declaration that the Gospels were re-editions of material of venerable antiquity in the first and second centuries may have sounded like the veriest raving of insanity and heresy. But here is an orthodox spokesman who, in the wake of one of the most sensational discoveries in all Bible study, asserts that whole sections of what now purports to be Gospel writing of the first century had a long history before they became a part of canonical scriptures! And that which was proclaimed herein in the very teeth of all Christian opinion to the contrary is additionally confirmed when Lund goes on to assert that the writer of the Gospel does not create these sections; they were, he avers, the product of the folk-spirit operating unconsciously in the shaping of the material. The Gospel writer acted merely as an editor, the material handled lying already at his hand in the popular tradition. And still further strength is lent to previous assertions of this work when he says that the parts revamped by the Gospel “editors” are not now in their original pure form, having been surrounded with introductory and supplementary comment in the editing.
There is one point, however, in which Lund’s analysis does not coincide with the view here taken. This is his assignment of the origin of the Gospel sections spoken of to the folk-spirit operating unconsciously. Lord Raglan has so capably shown that the intricate, well-articulated and artfully dramatized constructions that made up the general body of national folk-lore could not have been produced in the first place by countryside illiteracy and cultural inadequacy. They must have been the products of advanced intellectual and dramatic sagacity. This conclusion of Raglan’s is one of the greatest determinations in the field of world literature in modern times and it vastly alters the aspect of all such study.
It is clear now that Gospels, Revelation, the Epistles and the folk-tales must now be approached from the same point and with the same dramatic motivation and all carrying the same basic purport. Likewise they must at last be recognized as the work, not of merely general grades of human intelligence, but of that intelligence exalted to the point of knowing and dramatically portraying the experience and the deepmost significance of the world of life.
But Lund’s study in chiasmus will definitely add new strength to the perception that the element of form in ancient literary construction held an importance in the eyes of scripture compilers which has never hitherto been recognized. To us all now comes the sobering reflection that it took us two thousand years to make even this discovery, which, once seen as Lund illustrates it by diagram and graph, is so manifest before our eyes that the possibility of our having missed it for centuries heavily underscores our stupidity. Yet right now it is fitting to ask how many more centuries it may take before we will awake to the true recondite significance of the ancient’s employment of such a signal and unique formalism.
Out of these considerations there takes shape the concluding realization, itself of weighty import, that it is now beyond the scope of reason longer to hold the claim of the Gospel’s authorship by any writer as a first-hand literary creation of his brain and pen. Authorship of course they had, but in no sense authorship as we understand it today. It was more nearly in the sense in which we would understand the authorship of a new geometry text, or a geography or even a work on the history of philosophy. The “author” of such a work does not produce the content, but takes old established content and simply readapts it to some new scheme of presentation or elucidation. In this prescribed editorial sense only were the Gospels ever “written.” They were just fresh editions of the sublime “old, old story,” republished and, falling into the hands of the populace with their mysteries cryptically concealed, turned eventually into literal nonsense.
The sudden discovery that the divine or divine-human authorship of the ancient scriptures laid an emphasis heretofore never dreamed of upon literary form-structure must cause a drastic revision in the standards of appraisal, evaluation, appreciation and interpretation. The Old and New Testaments alike will stand in a totally new character, aureoled in a brilliant and beautiful glow of something that is more than mere meaning, something that is indeed the apotheosization of meaning. It is something that transcends sheer intellectuality and rises to a realm of appreciations that belong to a higher order of consciousness. In transcending the intellect, however, it does not become the negation of the intellect but its complete vindication and consummation. It is as if the intellect, struggling through mists and tangled labyrinths of darkened paths, came out on a height from which all locations and directions could be clearly viewed. The ancient sages, it now seems clear, worked in the glow of a great inner light. They were indeed called “Illuminati.” It required no small genius to create voluminous scriptures and great dramatic recitals in which the scheme of cosmic truth was inwoven into constructions which themselves were molded in the form of creational procedure. This attempt to synchronize the consciousness of man, the microcosm, with the lilt and tempo of the macrocosmic movement, has dropped totally out of human ken for two thousand years. It has never had the remotest touch of recognition or apprehension in Christian intelligence. The custodians of Christian scriptures have never had the least inkling that their own sacred texts harbored this new-found evidence of so majestic a lost art as the chiasmus indicates. Words are of course a feeble instrumentality by which to convey the sweep and swell of such conscious afflatus as was experienced by those whose mind and sensibilities were attuned to the register of those loftier and subtler emotions produced by participation in the mighty ritual-drama of the Mysteries. Yet this inadequacy of words alone to convey high values is undoubtedly one phase of the reason why ancient esotericism resorted to the complementary agencies of dance, ritual, rhythm and chiasmic structure in the effort to solemnize both the spoken and the written representation of evolutionary truth. The Greek envisagement of catharsis holds deeper intimations of prime value for the modern world than anyone has yet seen. The drama was designed to throw the individual man’s mind into the sweep, the swing, the stride and the roll – the feel of the movement – of cosmos, and thus induce repercussions that would sift out the dross of unworthiness and accentuate the elements of rich veritude in the personal life. Beneath the superficial consciousness wrapt up with the concerns of ordinary existence in each mortal there slumbers the unawakened energy of a divine nature. To cause this dormant virgin energy to awake and exert its powers there is needed the impact or incidence of a vibration that for it is analogous to the vibration of the rising warmth and sun of spring to the latent energies in seed, plant or tree. And this magical efficacy was known and operated by the ancients. It was produced and effectuated by the combined elements of movement, music and meaning in a masterly blending. It was in brief the rational meaning of the universe set to the movement of the universe. It reached inner depths of mind and psyche and there bestirred into conscious activity the slumbering powers of man’s latent divinity. The dance in the Mysteries repeated the rhythmic pulse of creation and the chorus accompanying it duplicated the “music of the spheres.” And this composed the mighty choral dance, the bewitching song of the divine enchanter, designed by adept wisdom from the foundation of humanity to keep the race in memory of its lost divine birthright. It is the kiss of Eros that awakens the sleeping Psyche to her new life. The continual reproduction of this sanctifying and purifying influence for the cultural refinement of humanity throughout its history was the pristine motive and function of all religion. In most religions it has been obscured, lost, corrupted, smothered. The cultural salvation of the race may depend upon the quick recovery of this essential instrumentality for revivifying the “dead” divine spirit in the whole world.
After a disquisition of this sort a great deal more significance than would otherwise have been sensed can be discerned in a sentence glimpsed in A History of Jewish Literature, by Meyer Waxman (p. 2). He observes that in the so-called prophetic books symbols are only occasionally used as a means of enforcing the message; whilst in the apocalyptic books allegory occupies the most important place, and a regular symbolic mechanism, in which annual sober symbols predominate, is built up. Here is a hint that meaning was aimed at through a fixed system of symbols and allegories, and that the purpose back of the writing was not directly to communicate a simple message, but to intrigue the mind by imagery and dramatism into subtler realizations.
We have noted Burton Scott Easton’s rejection of “the mount” as a geographical localization. He displays forthright sense and courage in going further and declaring that as an actual discourse the Sermon on the Mount was never delivered at all, and that “the mount” is mere rhetorical or theological decoration; even in the Sayings it may have been – as in Matthew it certainly is – a Christian counterpart of Sinai. Such an utterance is indeed a notable step in the direction of sane exegesis. But the plaudits that spring forth to greet it are somewhat tempered by the thought that it is still a long way from this recognition to the understanding that both Mount Sinai and the Mounts of the Temptation, of the Sermon, of Transfiguration and of Crucifixion are all in the ultimate rendering just this good earth, no less.
Further refreshing candor as to the obvious non-historicity of much in the Gospels is displayed by Easton. The final verdict as to the authenticity of the miracles, he writes, must on the whole be a non liquet. We do not know that special miraculous forces were at work or that they were not. We can hardly think that Jesus would have expected to find figs on a tree in March, nor that he would think it sane to curse the poor plant because it did not violate the due order of nature. We must doubt the story of the fish that despite the stater in its mouth could still take a hook. We can not be expected to take literally the tale of a star standing over a house. In all such cases we would be recreant to our duty as rational beings if we did not look beneath the surface of the narratives to the underlying motive. The same principle must be carried into the analysis of the miracle stories, to an extent to be determined by the special circumstances in each case. But this author does not seem to think that this version of the miracles makes further damaging inroads into what little strength remains to the historical foundations of the Christ life.
A realistic view is taken by him in regard to the maps of Jesus’ journeys constructed by following mechanically the topography described in the Gospels. He says they represent quite literally nothing whatever. Nor, he adds, are we better off in the chronology, except in the broadest outlines.
Again, he declares himself in agreement with what has been demonstrated earlier in this treatise, that Jewish and Christian literature from, roughly, B.C. 250 to A.D. 250, teems with pseudepigraphs of all sorts.
And he asks if we are to class the writers of Daniel, Enoch and II Peter as outright dishonest men. Oddly enough the answer to such a query can not be given until our whole view of ancient writing has been reoriented in the direction of understanding the methods of esoteric motive. When that orientation has been made it will be found that the question need not be answered, because the question itself will not need to be asked. The “pseud-” in the pseudepigraphs can be dropped when it is esoterically understood. From the exoteric or historical standpoint nearly all cryptographic writing is “pseudo.” But this is only because it is supposed to be something – history – that it was never intended to be. The only false thing in the situation is the judgment that mistakes it for history.
In discussing Mark Easton comments that of course this Gospel is not held up as a model of historical precision; his story already contains palpable allegorical elements. He adds that the naïve character of John’s historical writing is still more clearly seen in the account given in John 6:22-26. Again he says that the paragraph detailing the ferrying of so many thousands of people across the lake from Tiberias to Capernaum can surely be taken as a mere literary device, without historical foundation. In another place he protests that in any case we should certainly understand that, whatever may have been John’s purpose, it was surely not to write history, as we understand that term. Later he says that if the Gospel is really by an eye-witness, he has written with but little regard for what he actually saw and heard. This general observation would seem thoroughly warranted with regard to the whole of the four Gospels. It would be hard to conceive of any writing purporting to be history that sounds less like it than the Gospels.
Another rather remarkable confession is made by Easton when he says that as a matter of fact many of the second and third century Christian rites have long defied explanation. No one knows, he avers, why oil was poured into the baptismal water, or why a candle or a staff of olive wood was dipped into it. It can be said, however, that these two ceremonial transactions are not only known, but are among the easiest and clearest of symbolic riddles. Water was the universal type of the lower natural man or animal, carnal nature; fire was the equally general emblem of the higher or spiritual nature; the introduction of fire into a moist material, to dry it and set it on fire, was the broad symbolic dramatization of the transforming power of spirit upon the carnal nature of the first Adam, man unregenerate. As the natural man, he is baptized with water; as the spiritual man he undergoes the higher baptism of fire (intellect or spirit) precisely as John declares. Oil, as the fuel for fire, carries the connotation that went with it. So the pouring of oil into baptismal water typified the injection of fire of mind and spirit into the baser, “moister” part of man’s nature, to transform and light it up. It certainly does not detract from the force of the symbology that when oil is introduced into water it floats on the surface. To dip a candle – the agent of fire again – or a staff of olive wood (either itself inflammable or the tree from which oil – olive – is produced) into the water would indicate in slightly variant form the same basic process. Our modern orthodox theologians, with minds bound down to the “history” theory of scripture, cry out in irritation and impatience over such alleged flimsy fol-de-rol of the ancient mythical construction and the modern interpretation. They will not brook it for a moment that the men inspired of God to write Holy Scripture would descend to such indirection and mental frivolousness. As to this, what must be observed is that if this emblemism is fol-de-rol, then the bulk of Holy Writ is fol-de-rol. And this does not necessarily convict the “inspired” amanuenses of Deity of writing a lot of ridiculous drivel. For symbolism, when apprehended by minds not bound to gross realism, can impress deeper meanings and awaken more powerful intimations than can words. If theology will return to its pristine origins in symbolism, it may lay hold again of the dynamic force of human worship and regain its forfeited influence in human life. Easton’s final comment in this connection is to the effect that we have not only to explain the appearance of certain ceremonies in Christianity; we have also to explain their almost universal acceptance there. Massey located the identic sources of explanation in the books of ancient Egypt; later study has authenticated that explanation. But unyielding habits of mental obduracy prevent recognition of the true elucidation even when it is presented. This is a world tragedy. Our titanic holocaust of mechanical fury may be one of its repercussions.
On the question of chronology he advises it is needless for us to waste time; whether Jesus was executed on the Passover or the eve of the Passover we shall never know. One account gives the date as the 14th of the Hebrew month Nisan, the other account puts it on then15th. Here again it is symbolism that holds the key to the answer, since the 14 was determined by lunar typology and the 15 by solar. The full moon of a symbolical lunar month falls on the fourteenth day, and of a solar month on the fifteenth. History has nothing to do with it.
Taking Jesus’ statement that if they destroyed this temple he would raise it up again in three days, John, says Easton, explains it as pure allegory.
There are several expressions and statements in the New Testament that have always baffled comprehension or at best offered only a semi-rational meaning, because they were taken literally. One such is the designation “the poor,” as used in the two passages: “The poor ye have always with you,” and “the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.” Literal rendering of the word “poor” (in the economic sense) makes the received meaning of these two passages ridiculous. Especially is this the case in the one which rates the preaching of the Gospel as a compensatory balance against the misfortune of being (economically) poor! In the opinion of many, if the “poor” had to listen to the Sabbath droning from the average pulpit, they might be understood if they regarded it as an added hardship and no blessing or comfort. Obviously the term here refers to the spiritually as yet unregenerate, the undivinized mortal, the first or natural man. They doubtless shall be with us to the end of the aeon; and they in time shall have the consolation of having the Gospel (not the sheer material of the Bible books, but the essence of the divine tidings from deity to man on earth) preached unto them, until they pass from the poverty of ignorance to the richness of the kingdom’s spiritual treasures.
Then there is the matter of Jesus’ proclaiming himself as Messiah and as King. There are many angles to this line and it is difficult to handle as an argument. But again it is as clear as a case as many another in revealing that what is silly if taken literally and historically resolves back into the highest rationality when taken in deeper meaning. Indeed it does this in unusually striking fashion.
Easton and other writers are at pains to show that Jesus was crucified on the charge of claiming to be king and Messiah. The Sanhedrin judged the declaration by Jesus as to his kingship strictly according to Jewish law. A claim to be a prophet was, if proven false, a capital offense; a claim to be Messiah was a crime of blacker stain; but a claim to be the celestial Messiah, to sit on God’s right hand, was a blasphemy beyond pardon. That Jesus made claims to be both king and Messiah is supported by appropriate texts cited and by inferences from his acts and statements. Easton says that this brings us face to face with the basic question of all: Jesus’ claim to be not only Messiah, but celestial Messiah, Messiah in the most exalted sense, the heavenly and cosmic Son of Man. And he thinks that Jesus used the term “Son of Man” in its fullest apocalyptic force. As far as such claims constituted criminality, Jesus was guilty of both violating religious law and, in the eyes of his fellows, blaspheming God.
It requires but a moment’s clear thinking and a realistic visioning of the case to enable us to see at once that the assumed unconscionable arrogance and personal self-exaltation implied by these claims made for himself by himself inheres in Jesus’ position only when he is taken in his historical personality. It drops away the moment he is taken in his true original character as the Christ spirit in man. Of course the Christ consciousness is Messiah, long awaited by the teeming sons of men, who by his visitation in their hearts will be changed into the Sons of God and released from earth to eternal liberty. The dramatic figure of the Christos in the Mystery ritual could appropriately utter these declarations as to his status and role in the human drama, for it would be his part to announce his nature and mission. But if he is conceived as a man in the flesh such claims as to himself are too preposterous and unnatural; and besides are psychologically unthinkable as emanating from any sane human. No soul under the limitation of tiny human body could possibly so think of himself, much less proclaim it.
Warschauer represents Jesus as wrestling with his own spirit and intelligence to determine whether he should be a political king of the nations or exercise his kingship only in the silent motivations of the human heart. He represents this as the deeper inner meaning of “the temptation.” Blind credulity prompts unthinkable devotees to assume that in actual history the carpenter had but to forget his divine mission and say “yes” to an actual Satan’s proposition and the throne of the Caesars would have been his. Whether as God or man, the imputation to him (as an actual person) of such a chimerical thought as a serious consideration makes of him a hallucinated dolt. The whole situation can be seen in its flaming preposterousness only when the true sense of the “temptation” is brought to light. Of course when the soul migrates to earth from celestial mansions, there is before it the choice of throwing all its interests and energies into the delights of sense, the acquisition of riches and the things of this world, or of rising above these to the rulership of the things of the heart, mind and spirit, in remembrance of the covenant and its divine mission. Satan is man’s lower animal sense nature, and of course this Satan offers the higher Ego the riches of the world and its kingdom of enjoyment. But see what egregious travesty this all becomes when the soul is historicized and carnalized!
He was charged with proclaiming himself king and the title “King of the Jews” was on the cross above his martyred head. This title or phrase has been the culprit in misleading all theology along a false trail into the wilderness of error. The phrase never had a historical reference, to begin with. The “Jews” in it were in no sense the historical racial group. In the Mystery ritual the Christos personage was announced and designated as the king, in the spiritual sense, of course, of those mortals who had adopted the nature and mind of the Christ and had become the divinized and the elect. To denominate this grade of perfected men a term derived from Egypt and its Mysteries was employed. It is the same term that the Hebrews early in their history adopted and appropriated to themselves, as Gesenius tells us in his Hebrew Grammar, “in token of their descent from an illustrious ancestry.” The “illustrious ancestry” were none other than the graduates or adepts of the highest rank in the Mystery discipline, or in fact the divinized humans. The Hebrews at an early date simply took to themselves the exalted and illustrious title of the class of men who had risen to shining divinity. The Egyptians called them the short name that was the first element in the name of their Christ Messiah character for thousands of years. This great name was Iu-em-hetep. Iu in Egyptian is ‘the Coming One,” or “He who comes,” meaning the power that comes as our divinity. The highest adepts in the Mystery ranks then were called the “Iu’s.” They were those in whom the Christ had come. In Latin the “Iu” form shifted to “Ju,” as seen in the name of the Romans’ King of the Gods, Ju-piter. The Hebrews took to themselves this exalted name and called themselves the Jus, which became in English spelling later, Jews. The Jesus character in the various Mysteries had for centuries borne the title of King of the Ius, or Jus, with never the most remote historical reference attaching to its meaning. But when the historization of the drama took place, the Messiah figure had to be saddled with the claim that he was King of the Jewish nation.
In this light it is of interest to note Easton’s observation that what the twentieth century Occidental deems mental sanity is not a fair criterion to apply to first century Galileans. He says that many now expect a proximate millennium without losing their mental balance; and in first century Palestine every sign of the times pointed irresistibly to the fulfillment of God’s promises to interpose in the course of this earth’s normal progress. As to this, if good folk in the first century were any more gullible or hallucinated about the coming (first or second) of a personal Messiah than large numbers of folks are at this present epoch, it speaks ill for the level of intelligence at that time. If many among us expect the millennium, as, sad to say, they do, without losing their mental balance, the unfortunate implication must be that mental balance has already been pitiably disturbed. For none but religiously hypnotized minds can think seriously of a millennium in realistic historical terms occurring in any near future on this earth. The sects and cults holding millennial views are almost universally regarded with indulgent contempt by intelligent people. According to nearly all Christian writers, the people of Jesus’ day were all a-tremble with expectation, being assured of the immediate coming of Messiah and his millennial kingdom. Modern equally certain tremblers are just as certainly deluded. The spirit of charity and wisdom that is Christos is no doubt slowly spreading his gracious rulership over the lives of men on the planet; and the gradual increase of that spirit until it divinizes all the race is the only millennium anywhere visioned in ancient scripture. That it will ever be marked off historically with definite beginning and precise date of end, and only for one thousand short years, is a crazy idea for people to hold in first, tenth or twentieth century.
As has been noted earlier, the odd thing about millennial advent theory is that its visionary and enraptured anticipators have declared in every century since at least the tenth that the particular century then in course exhibited those precise signs of the times, mentioned in the Bible, that indicated the approach of the crack of doom. This indeed shows the whole concept to be emotional fol-de-rol, with cap and bells. Yet Jesus himself is written down as having announced it would come before his generation had passed away! And so it turns out that the only-begotten Son of Omniscient Deity committed a blunder in historical judgment that no ordinarily intelligent person would make at any time. For nineteen hundred years have elapsed and the Savior’s prediction is still unfulfilled. His miscalculation has put his apologetic followers who write books about him to no end of exertion in casuistry to “explain” his error. There is sorely needed a comprehensive survey of the entire theme of Messiahship in religion. It will be undertaken in the last chapters.
The discussion of Gospel historicity could not well skip the item of the casting out of demons, evil spirits, demoniacal obsessions. It may not be feasible to wash the whole subject away as impossible history, though in the end it must come close to that. The practice and the very fact of it are thrown out of court in sane psychological quarters today. Christians would not themselves be found committed to a credence in such things, nor would they be caught indulging in any countenance of them or traffic in them. The matter is held to be outside the pale of normal Christian activity, and is left to the unorthodox cults of Spiritualism to deal with. But in books on Jesus it would not do to charge the Master with being involved in unorthodox and spurious religionism of any sort. So the writers report the exorcisms as legitimately within the province of Christian healing. To be sure, modern psychology studies the phenomena of dual or multiple personality, schizophrenic possession and other varieties. But this is still a great deal softer than blunt assertion of obsession by the power of Satan. This is diabolism pure and unrelieved. The question raised was by what authority and in whose name did he cast out the devils. His Messianic credentials were indeed supposed to be established or refuted by the answer he could give to the question put to him by his enemies. The argumentative strategists accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons. If he said he did it by God’s authority, they would have him on the claim of being God’s Son. The Christians have been in much the same dialectical predicament as was their Master. If they credit the miracles of exorcism, they authenticate a disclaimed superstition; if they refuse standing or reality to the phenomenon of obsession, they discredit their Founder-Teacher. To uphold the paragon, they must accept an unpleasant rider on the bill.
TRUTH EXORCISES DEMONIAC OBSESSIONS
The debate on diabolic obsession and the predicament in which the history thesis plunges it are both beautifully resolved and reason is restored to the throne in the kingdom of Biblical exegesis once more by the simple device of understanding that the entry of Christly love-wisdom into the life and consciousness of the race and the individual drives out those irrationalities, fixations, obsessions of error, those almost literally demoniac possessions, which the rampant elemental forces, centered in the lower carnal mind, stamp upon the psychic nature. This is all that could ever have been sanely meant by the myth of the Christ casting out evil spirits. The Bible stories are but the scripts of the dramatizations of the inner change.
Likewise, it can be said summarily, the diseases, leprosies, palsies, “deaths,” infirmities, cripplings, which are the subject of Jesus’ whole run of miraculous cures, belong to the same general category of typology. The touch of Jesus’ physical hand, or his magic words, upon the human sufferer is beyond any doubt or controversy the type, and type only, of the general healing and integrating power of the impact of true Christliness in the subjective life. The miracles, as Massey so clearly noted, can not be taken as objective historical occurrences. It has been seen how even a writer like Warschauer has thrown grave doubt over the most of them. Again it is seen that as history a large section of the Gospels is unacceptable and stirs incredulity; as allegory it takes its high place in both understanding and cultural stimulus. In every case gain is won by discarding the history and accepting the allegorism.
Then there is the matter of the several numbers used over and over again in Gospel narrative. Nothing has so glaringly revealed the pitiable meagerness of the orthodox scholar’s equipment for archaic interpretation and the innocence of his mind as regards knowledge of ancient systems of numerology in scriptural writings as does his blindness or opacity of mind as to the meaning of these numbers. This
want of insight into a profoundly technical subject and the inveterate refusal to credit the matter with any definite significance whatever, have become a trifle pathetic in these late days, when competent research has well established the bases of intelligible comprehension of a profoundly abstruse science. Even chiasmus would have been howled down before this epoch; now it is accredited. Number symbolism must now also be legitimatized. The recurrence of such numbers as 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 30, 40 and 300, more especially 3, 7, 12 and 40, should have spoken to the dullest of imaginations as to the lurking presence of great significance in their ubiquitous appearance in scripture. It would take pages of elaborate exposition to set forth here the meaning of the three days in the tomb, the walking on the water at the fourth watch of the night, the five wise and five foolish virgins, the servant’s setting out six pots of water to be turned into wine and this happening “after three days,” Jesus’ going up into the Mount of Transfiguration “after six days,” his tarrying at certain places seven days, and the 40 days’ duration of the temptation. The number forty occurs sixty-three times in the Old Testament. It is surely a bit naïve to ask coincidence to explain why so many events in the natural course of actual history should run just forty days or forty years. The very unlikelihood of so much coincidence should have taught students that they were dealing with symbolism and not factuality. Forty was a universal number used to typify the period that the seed of divine consciousness must lie dormant in incubation in matter before germinating in a new birth. The human foetus is forty weeks in the maternal womb. In Egypt the grain was said to lie in the ground forty days before sprouting.
There is the item of Jesus’ unknown years. Can it be imagined that if the Gospels were in any real sense intended to be biographies, or even merely works designed to link the principles of the new religion with the ostensible life and acts of the divine Messenger who allegedly brought it into being, they would leave a nearly total blank in his history from the birth events up until the last few months of his abbreviated life? The very doubtful incident of his temple argument with the doctors at twelve is the only item that breaks the long hiatus. This plan of the presentation of the material does not suggest history. The claim is that the data were – by the time Mark came to think of writing his recollections – meager and scant enough. In the first place, the Gospel that is alleged to have been written first does not read in any respect like the work of a man who is really trying to piece together what he recalls of events that he had once had actual knowledge of. No man in any age would produce a work that reads as those Gospels do, if he were aiming to restore a series of veridical historical events in a historical narrative. He would not inweave and embellish it with so large a proportion of admittedly legendary garnish. Reading it, one gathers the feeling that one is reading a work of allegorism. If it is history it is surely the most lyric type of history ever written. Practically there is little to its very substance save a cluster of prodigies at the birth and a larger cluster of prodigies and miracles, interspersed with discourses and moral philosophy, and a dramatic denouement at the end. Anyone with a cultivated sense for ancient dramatism can feel that it is allegory he is reading, and not history. The three years of his “ministry” – all there is of his life – have even been reduced by some scholars to one and a half, or even to one. The ancients did indeed represent the cycle of spiritual initiation, or symbolic history of the Christian life, under the typism and within the frame of the solar year, with its twelve solar months and its thirteen lunar ones. The festivals around the year were all set to match the symbolism of the dying sun of autumn, the resurrected one of spring, the balance (of spirit and matter) at the two equinoxes, and the alternate victory of light (spirit) and darkness (matter) at the two opposite solstices. Samuel, a type of the Christos, is said to have made an annual circuit of Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah, which can be equated with the four “corners” of the annual zodiac, or the two solstices and the two equinoxes. The Biblical “year of the Lord” was a phrase that had this typological reference. The sun being always masculine and the moon feminine, several of the patriarchs were given a progeny of twelve sons and one daughter! It is of no avail for the modern theologian to snort in annoyance at such renditions of meaning, or such a method of exegesis. The snort is silenced by the fact that the ancient sages did resort to such devices to embalm the precious core of meaning in structures of subtle indirection. If we would interpret what they wrote, we must at least follow their method and cease grumbling at its peculiarities. We shall no longer be annoyed if we yield our recalcitrancy, follow their scheme and find at last that apparent nonsense is replaced with the most luminous intelligence. We are annoyed at their method because our own presuppositions defeat our efforts to comprehend. Our key won’t fit their construction and we blame them for stupidity. When we have sense enough to use the key they used, or the key that alone fits their lock, the obstructing door can be opened and the light let in. The events between birth and final climactic end of the Christ story are missing, not because Mark forgot anything in that interval, but because those given were the episodes featured in the allegorical depiction. It must be put down as a very unlikely circumstance that if Mark could remember even the words spoken by many characters throughout, and short speeches of long discourses in places, and the minutiae of the miracles and journeys, he could not recall a single item between the birth and year twelve, and between twelve and thirty! Massey is authority for the observation that the same two lacunae occur in the “lives” of other legendary Messiahs; so that again every rational implication points to its being allegory and not objective fact.
The triumphal entry into Jerusalem: not only is this as unlikely a historical event as could be imagined, but it is definitely an episode in the dramatic ritual of initiation. It did not need to happen on the streets of Jerusalem to get into Gospels; it was already in the scripts of the ritual drama. Like many another incident and miracle of the narrative, it would have been in the “record” if no Jesus had ever lived – for it was already there centuries before Christ. Every religious dramatization or initiatory ritual had as part of its climactic denouement the entry of the candidate into a room, palace or “city” emblematic of the “city of heavenly peace” – St. Augustine’s “City of God,” Bunyan’s “Celestial City” – as the place to which the exiled pilgrim soul returns to its empyrean “homeland.” This feature of dramatic topography originated – as did nearly all others – in Egypt, where the prototype of the Greek Elysian Fields was found in the form of the Aarru-Hetep. “Hetep” is the Egyptian for “peace” and so is the equivalent of the Hebrew Sholom or Salem. Aarru is the origin of the “hiero” – meaning “sacred,” which became the “Jeru” of Jeru-salem, the city of “sacred peace,” or finally the celestial paradise. Jerusalem is spelled in old manuscripts “Hierosolyma.” The entry of Jesus into the Holy City is but the historicized drama of the soul making its regal entry into the “city” of blessed peace and rest after its triumphant battle with the lower forces on earth. Each nation of antiquity used its capital city, named often to fulfill this function, as the earthly counterpart of the heavenly city of the allegory. That he entered it riding on an ass and her colt is the cryptic fashion of representing the soul’s being carried from the outlying regions of the material experience up to and through the gates of the Holy City by the agency of the animal portion of its own dual nature. And the presence of two generations of the faithful animal is to typify the fact that the soul’s journey from animalism up to divinity can not be consummated in one cycle of experience in the flesh, but must proceed through a succession of lives, passing continuously from the older phase of one generation to the succeeding younger phase. If this seems far-fetched and strained, it will be seen in its proper relevance if one studies the functionism of the Egyptian pair Osiris-Horus, Father-Son, Horus the Elder-Horus the Younger, and Kheper, the beetle-god, and the ideologies connected with them. Each younger generation of animal bodily life took up the labor of carrying the soul ahead through its progression and the ideograph of this had to represent the older and the younger stages in the line of procreation to convey the full meaning. If literalism pictures Jesus as entering astride both animals at once, it faithfully preserves the idea that he has won his victory by virtue of what both generations of the animal embodiment have done for him.
On its realistic side the incident seems logically impossible. How Jesus – if he had stirred up the popular hostility that was to hound him to his death within a week – could have found the populace at Jerusalem in mood to welcome him with hosannas and strewn palms, and how he got the crowd out for the reception, is a little more than credulity can swallow. And to crown the whole procedure with anomaly, the episode, taken from the drama, got into the Gospel scenario at the wrong place. It was put in too soon. The Gospels being a dramatization of the unfolding history of the soul in its struggle through the elements, it is an anachronism to put the final episode of his return from earthly exile to his celestial home ahead of the crucifixion and death. It would logically even follow the ascension, and should be the final and climactic act of the entire drama. Life proceeds outward from the silence of the inner chambers of creation at the beginning of a cycle of new growth, fights its battle on the plain or on the “mount” of open visible manifestation then retires again within the inner sanctum of the temple of the universe, its last tones ringing like an echo over the scene of its late activity. The church recessional symbolizes the return of the evolutionary pilgrim to his Father’s house, chanting its song of triumph as it enters the gates of the “Holy City,” “Jerusalem, the Blest.” If one will in imagination rise to some degree of appreciation of the grandeur of this evolutionary drama, and then displace it suddenly with the imagined realism of Jesus’ riding the lowly animal into the Judean capital, one will gain a realizing sense of the tragedy which befell human culture when allegory was turned into history. By feeding our minds on the grossness of historical realism instead of the dynamic psychic power of allegorism and typology, we have lost touch with the bases of cathartic purification.
The crucifixion! The longer and more closely one ponders it – realistically – the less it seems possible as an actual occurrence. It, too, had its dramatic prototype in the Mystery ritual where the candidate for initiation was tied or bound or symbolically nailed to the cross and even put into a hypnotic coma to be awakened from “death” after three days on Easter morning. Thus the non-historical source of the feature is clearly evident. There is much doubt as to the Roman practice of physical crucifixion, and particularly on a Tau cross. It was not a Hebrew custom, or sanctioned by Hebrew law. It was resorted to, as far as known, only in exceptional and rare occasions. It seems on the surface more like a ritual procedure than a physical event. Again, like the temptation, the Sermon, the transfiguration and ascension, it was consummated “on the Mount,” which is the hieroglyph for the earth. And it is surely not without occult significance that “Calvary” is from the Latin calvus, meaning “the head,” and “Golgotha” is Hebrew for “the place of the skull.” It is of course clear that the inner significance of all that goes into the interior experience of the crucifixion of the Son of God as immortal soul on the cross of matter, is “localized” within the head or brain, or mind, of man. This datum is enough to enable anyone familiar with ancient habits of typology and dramatization of truth to penetrate to the heart of the mystery behind the names of the Mount of Crucifixion. Prometheus, whose name signifies the archetypal creative Fore-Thought, was chained to a rock on a Mount and tortured there. The allegorical background and archetypes of the Gospel crucifixion are complete and perfect; the historical evidences and possibilities are far from similarly strong. It makes much greater sense as drama than it possibly can do as history.
The picture of the Son of God coming to earth to show mankind how to be victorious over the conditions of mortality, and then demonstrating his victory by the method of physical helplessness and an ignominious death of his body on the cross, has never seemed anything but unnatural to the naïve mind. The mind even of piety and devotion has to be “conditioned” by subtle sophistries before it can accept the postulations of Christianity. Not until one studies the Egyptian and Greek philosophies and views the resultant findings through the eyes of symbolic depiction can the feature of sacrifice and immolation in the mission of the divine Son to earth be aligned with the reasonable background of our position. Long lost to ecclesiastical philosophy is the ancients’ characterization of matter as the cross on which the Christ-soul is crucified, and this physical life itself as the “death” of the divine Ego. These two concepts were the ribs or spine, so to say, of the archaic wisdom. For the Christ to die on the cross was simply a dramatic glyph for its incarnation. Incarnation was the ground and primary base of all meaning in religion. Therefore to represent the incarnating divinity as being immolated on a cross was to dramatize the basic experience from which all religion flows. Any soul is being crucified on the cross whenever it is alive in a physical body. This life is its (comparative) “death,” for in all ancient systems the body, living, was the tomb of the soul’s “death.” Witness the Greek sema, tomb, and soma, body. Even sarcophagus is from the Greek for the physical body, – sarx. Here, then, is the full meaning of the crucifixion: – the soul’s life in body in its incarnational experience, with the infinitude of varied signification attaching to or flowing from that ground. Drama portrayed it by the binding or nailing of a man on a cross of wood. That is drama; the thing dramatized is the god’s life under the limitations of mortal flesh. But the drama was not history. It merely depicted the meaning of history. But who can calculate the tragedy of the annual wastage of emotional stress and strain in the pouring out of oceans of maudlin sympathy and vicarious grief over the Passion Week sufferings of a man who never lived? The numberless crucifixes seen on every side stand as a most gruesome and lugubrious sight, filling the beholder not only with morbid revulsion at its positive ugliness, but with a sense of the lamentable breakdown of reason under the force of indoctrinated ignorance. For it stands not as luminous symbol of high meaning, but as the graven image of alleged but impossible historical fact. It stands as the sickening seal of the enslavement of the human mind under the force of a gross delusion and a lie. As the picture of alleged fact it is ugly; for the fact itself – if true – is ugly, because it is incompatible with reason and intellectual integrity. Anything which mocks the reason and strikes at the probity of the mind is ugly. The crucifix, as monument of historic event, is the darkest, most dispiriting object in any landscape, for it speaks of the darkness of the human intellect under the pall of religious superstition.
And the resurrection? So majestic, so powerful in the reach of its grandeur is this doctrine that even though the deeper meaning may not be apprehended, it is deeply affecting. It is so sublime that no inadequacy of conception or representation can quite mar its beautiful suggestiveness. Yet again, it must be said that if it is still full of majesty even in its misconception, how infinitely more moving must it be when rightly comprehended! As the supposed miraculous bursting of the bars of a rocky hillside tomb by a man in human form, risen from bodily death, it leaves us in wonder, awe and – incomprehension. As the dramatization of our own eventual bursting of the bars of “death” and the physical limitations of the mortal body, and our ecstatic stepping out of this prison-tomb through the rent in the veil of this bodily temple into the glorious resurrection-body of light, it leaves us truly lost in wonder, reverence and – comprehension. Surely a more salutary repercussion for the whole of the Ego’s mind, soul, body flows from the adequate grasp of a great metaphysical reality than could possibly accrue from the same representation completely misapprehended. If this is not granted, then the argument is that incomprehension is more beneficial than understanding. This is indeed a frequent resort of ecclesiastical helplessness in face of questions that children can – and do – ask. As a glyphic representation of the climactic rapture of our final apotheosization the resurrection is transcendently meaningful and exalting; as the claimed exhibition of one exceptional man’s miraculous power, it arouses speculative wonder. Paul says that if Christ has risen, the bases of Christianity are sound. For if he rose, we, too, shall rise. Yet nineteen hundred years have passed and not one believing in him has ever risen in the same (alleged physical) manner. If more were needed to prove that the Gospel resurrection could never have been meant to be taken in the objective historical sense, it is found in Paul’s statement – which indicates that Christianity has put a wrong interpretation on the incident – that the divine Ego is sown, i.e., incarnated, in a natural body, but is resurrected from that physical tomb in a shining spiritual body. Equally, then, with the crucifixion, the resurrection is dissipated out of its historic character and becomes resolved into its infinitely more marvelous transcendental significance. And as in every other case, for it to die as history and be reborn as dynamic enlightenment, is gain.
The ascension, in any physical sense, is similarly a degradation and caricature of its lofty transcendency. At a high rate of speed, a physical body rising off the earth nineteen hundred years ago would not yet have reached the nearest star. The perfervid but not very realistic imagination of piety assumes that Jesus arose in the sight of his disciples in his body (that Thomas touched) and when he got up a fair distance, his physical substance somehow changed over into what angels are thought to be composed of. And that is enough for faith and credulity. Does “heaven” begin at forty thousand feet above the earth?
There is left one situation that comes under critical view in the Gospels, which certainly bears weighty testimony to the disqualification of another large group of events recorded as history in the Jesus “biography.” This relates to the long list of “events” that allegedly transpired on the night before the crucifixion on Good Friday morning, of Passion Week. When zeal for history outran intelligence it did not seem to occur to the ignorant transformers of the myth into that category, that in a case where Egyptian wisdom had concentrated many aspects of meaning into a single symbolic point of time, the transferal of allegorical representation over into factual occurrence might meet unexpected difficulties in the crowding of a long series of symbolic “happenings” into a limited period of actual time. Mythical depiction requires only hypothetical time; history demands actual time or measured duration. This very predicament developed in connection with the incidents recounted in the Gospels as taking place on this last night of Jesus’ life. It was the night of the Passover, placed by one account on the 14th of Nisan, by another on the 15th, and both dates symbolical of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, a fact which at once gives it the simple significance of Easter. It was the night in the religious (solar) year on which all the significance of the entire course of incarnate experience came to a head in its last (symbolic) climactic moments. On this “night,” under solar symbolism, the soul in the flesh on earth came to the end and consummation of all its labors in the body, finished its assigned task, accomplished the final stages of its perfection and stood on the door-sill of its liberation forever into celestial freedom out of earthly bondage. On that night all things heaped up in consummation and in victory. It was the night of triumph. All phases and lines of development reached their apical convergence in the glorious unfoldment into light, as the Greeks call it, of all the latent potentialities of the spiritual Ego in that final consummatum est. In the nineteenth chapter of the Egyptian Ritual (Book of the Dead) the symbolic narrative recounts a long list of allegorical processes which depict the concluding stages and steps of the many varied forms of portrayal under which the soul’s experience had been typed. It was all one experience, but it comprised the blending in one grand climactic moment or realization of many strands and facets of growth in man’s composite nature, and each phase had been allegorized under its appropriate typism. It was the final merging of all the varied rays into the ultimate white light. So in this nineteenth chapter there is a description of the climactic stage of each aspect. So to say, each stream of the living force had to be brought up to empty its final product and consummation into the crystal sea of complete divinization. The chapter therefore speaks of this last “night” of the soul on earth as “the night of” some fifteen or more apparently different transactions, when in fact it is descriptive of but the one grand collective denouement of salvation. And this “night” in the Ritual is none other than the night of the full moon of the vernal equinox! Symbolically the soul then crosses the line (of the equinox) which in the diagram of meanings marks the boundary between earth and heaven; and thus at its climactic moment in all its earthly experience it “passes over” from earth to heaven, to become “a pillar in the house” of its God, to “go no more out.”
Frankness calls for the admission that the Egyptian list of “events” occurring on that meaningful “night” has apparently not been reproduced or copied in the Gospel story. Several of them correspond and might point to transmission from Egyptian into Palestinian literature. However, the difference in most of them can readily be accounted for on the ground of the great diversity of symbolic representation and the constant attempt throughout the ancient day to vary the systems of typing. Hebrew symbology did assume a quite different face from the Egyptian in many respects. But it still remains highly significant that in both the Egyptian and the Hebrew (or Greek) scriptures the narrative crowds a long list of “events,” factual or ritualistic, into the few hours of this night of the Passover. The meaning of both groups of occurrences is, if the symbolism be penetrated, one at base. But the Egyptian was frankly allegorical; the Hebrew, under Christian handling, purports to be history. This difference becomes exceedingly, overwhelmingly embarrassing to the claims of the historical rendition. For it turns out that there could not possibly have been time enough – on the historical presupposition – in that night to enable the events narrated to have occurred in reality. On the symbolic basis one can crowd any number of developments into a single “night,” for meaning expands into a fourth dimension and occupies no space or fills no time. But when one converts these imponderables over into history, they require time to occur. It makes a vast and in this case catastrophic difference. It all conspired to give the personal Christ a very full program and a busy time on his last night on earth! It is interesting to list the card for the hours from sunset until the next morning’s gruesome finale. This schedule began with the “Last Supper” with the twelve, which, if held at “supper-time” would have started off the night’s activities. This would have taken several hours, perhaps, if the animated discourse pictured so vividly by Leonardo in the famous painting be accepted as possible reality. After that came the walk out to the Mount of Olives and return. As there would have been no point in turning back the moment of arrival there, this item would have consumed time running on toward midnight. Then came the switch of scene to Gethsemane and the detailed series of incidents there, including time for Jesus’ long agony and sweat; his chiding of the disciples for falling asleep and not being able to watch with him “one little hour”; his arrest by the special guard sent out to take him; the cutting off and healing of the ear of the centurion’s servant; then – wonder of wonders! – three separate and distinct court trials, involving the presence of officials, the procurator, the Sanhedrin, and the masses, all in the late hours of the stillness of an Oriental night; then the mockery of the soldiers, the casting lots for his garments, the pressing of the crown of thorns on his brow; – then at last the toilsome journey up the hill, with cross on bleeding shoulder, to Golgotha; the erection of the cross, with those of the two thieves; and the final agony. It may be argued that this program could have been run through in the ten or twelve hours that have been assigned to it. But the three court trials seem to throw the decision against the possibility. To accept this all as history is indeed asking us to swallow a camel. It seems clear that in this instance history overreached itself and betrayed its own incompetency as an interpretative key. History here at last breaks down under its own impossible weight. It reads itself out of court. It fails when tested empirically. As fact it goes down; only as allegory can its material retain plausibility and sane meaning.
Writers spin fine theories to render it all acceptable as occurrence, but in the end it comes back to the point of obvious impossibility in any common sense view of it. The legerdemain of miracle must be called upon to rescue it. There is really no likelihood that it could all have taken place as narrated. And once more all unseemliness and difficulty vanish through the simple expedient of viewing it for what it obviously is, – a dramatic play, garbled and altered to make it fit the dimensions of history.
Although it is by no means the whole of the available material, this much of the refutation of the Gospel narrative as history must suffice. Here, then, we have the record of events making up the biography of the man Jesus of Nazareth, a biography acclaimed by hundreds of learned scholars as one of the best authenticated of historical lives. The entire story is found only in one book, in four varied “editions.” We take this book’s elaborated detail and, instead of finding it to be admittedly genuine history, we are amazed to discover that, even on the admission or by the declaration of the supporters of the historic interpretation, event after event, whole series of events, whole sections of the text, evaporate into the thin mist of legend and poetry, leaving next to nothing of solid substance to ground the historic position upon. The very material that has been advanced as proof of the historicity is admitted to be not history at all! Orthodoxy is found to have for centuries maintained the claim of the historicity of a character whose available life record turns out to be myth and fable. And the egregiously vaunted unimpeachable history of the man of Galilee rests only upon allegory at last. In the plainest of words Paul says that the Abraham-Sarah-Isaac-Hagar-Ishmael story in the Old Testament “is an allegory.” His own silence as to Jesus and a hundred other silent but logical voices seem to proclaim that the whole Gospel story is likewise allegory. The whole of its “history” fades at the touch of realism into the unsubstantial hues of dramatic romance. And this verdict comes as forcefully out of the mouths of its confessors as from its opponents. And the final devastating blow to the historical thesis falls with the recognition that not only does the supposed historic framework prove to be in the end mythic invention, but it turns out to be in the main a mere copy of mythic material from originals drawn from earlier pagan systems. The grand upshot of the whole investigation is that the life of Jesus reduces to nothing but the re-edited body of ancient Egyptian mythology.
THE ANOINTING OF MAN
No critical survey of the question of the Biblical Christ could be considered thorough unless it covered the entire theme of ancient Messianism, since the Gospel Jesus came in the aura and setting of this concept and his alleged mission and the movement founded on it derive most of their essential meaning from it. It will be found as the result of such a survey that a clear grasp on the features of this great ancient persuasion yields for us finally the substantial bases for determination of the main question of the historicity. In curt statement, when it is known fully and correctly what the conception of Messiahship really was, it will be seen that it never looked to its fulfillment through the birth or advent of a historical person, no matter how divine. If Jesus came as the fulfillment of all ancient Messianic expectation, and came as a human babe, his coming was not after all the true fulfillment, and the proclamation and belief of his Messiahship was a miscarriage of the true import of the tradition. No intelligent adherent of ancient religious systems ever dreamed of the Messiah’s coming as a man. It was clearly understood that that which was to come was a principle, or spirit, or rule of righteousness in all humanity. The Nativity, to be sure, under the sway of symbolic method, took on the aspect of the birth of a babe in the zodiacal house of bread, or Bethlehem, and of course from the kingly line of divine Davidic intellection. But esoteric intelligence knew where symbolism began and also where it ended. Symbolism can sweep in strong force over the human spirit, carrying it straight into the core of vital meaning as it presents to the mind the reality of that which it adumbrates. But it can not thus enlighten and empower the mind if it holds it down to its own level and insists on its own factuality. A symbol is not to engage the thought longer than to give it a vigorous push and send it away from itself as from a springboard into a realm of apprehension never glimpsed before. A symbol is only the initial energization of a thought, which is to proceed from it to more distant flight. With the literalist or exotericist thought ends with and at the symbol. The tragedy of this is that while the symbol is powerful enough to suggest the vital import of meaning symbolized, it can never contain that meaning within itself. But a strange phenomenon occurs in the psychological field if one dwells with symbols attentively for a long time. At the same time that the meaning passes beyond the symbol to the inner regions of mind and thought, it tends in the end to reflect back upon the symbol and transfuse it with the glow of the greater light which through it as lens has been thrown upon the screen of a subjective world lying beyond. So that while the symbol is overpassed, it is not discarded, but itself becomes more vividly irradiated with sublime pertinence. He who celebrates Christmas knowing that the Bethlehem babe is only a symbolic type of something remote from the physical and not an event at all, still will find the stable, the manger, the babe, ox, ass, and star all in themselves radiantly alight with transferred meaning poured down upon them from above. Though they are not the containers of the meaning, they will be freshly lighted up with meaning reflected from on high. Being the adjuncts and indicators of that high meaning, they will by repercussion come to share the meaning itself. The whole pageantry and accouterment of meaning can be heartily entertained and in no sense (save the historical) rejected, when a reference to reality beyond it is accepted and one that it can not carry is rejected. It becomes translucent with beauty through simply being the agency of the mind’s grasp of supernal beauty beyond it. The greater light that it helped the mind to discover flows back to bathe it in the hues of a mystical iridescence. It may be a paradox, yet it is thoroughly true that religious imagery and pageantry exercise a far stronger dynamism when they are known to be allegorical than if they are believed to be memorials of fact. The symbol helps the mind to grasp greater reality over in the subjective world; from that clearer vision the mind can swing back and embrace the symbol as an integral part of the great treasure of light caught by its aid. It will not be cast aside as worthless when the full gods of glorious meaning arrive. It can be carried along as the outer coin and mnemonic seal of the golden revelation. This is to refute the charge that if the events of religious ceremonial and festivity are thrown out as non-historical, the whole celebration of such festivals as Christmas and Easter will lose all their gripping impressiveness. On the contrary the symbols will exert a ten-fold weightier significance when they are envisioned truly as symbols and not falsely as events.
The theme of the ancient Messianic conception is a majestic one. It seems clear that no true knowledge of it has been extant since remote antiquity. Every rendition of it, every view or exposition of it in the centuries down to the present has been a gross material caricature of it. The best effort to reinvest it with its pristine magnificence may not be adequate to the task. But the fuller glory of the mighty cosmic event it illustrates can not be sensed until at least the mental statement of its profound significance is attempted.
The name – Messiah – calls for examination, to begin with. It is of combined Egyptian and Hebrew etymology. The mess is from the Egyptian mes, meaning to give birth to, to be born. The -iah is the well-known Hebrew terminal, meaning in its broadest sense “God” or “divinity.” In deeper connotation it is a hieroglyph for deity that has descended into matter to be born anew. (As such it is an abbreviated form of the seven-lettered Jehovah, denoting male-female deity in union.) The word Messiah then means “the born God,” or “the born deity,” in the fuller sense of the “reborn deity.”
Another meaning of mess in Egyptian is “to sprinkle” or “anoint.” Through this etymology the word comes to have the secondary meaning of “the anointed God.” Anointing with oil was throughout ancient days a ritualistic typing of the more abstruse meaning of a baptism of the lower nature by the higher divine influence. It carried the idea of pouring on the head of a man a substance that could be set on fire. The key is to be found in John Baptist’s statement that while he, the preparer of the way for a higher influx, baptizes us with “water” – type of the life of the natural order – the more exalted one coming after him is to baptize us with “air” (Latin: spiritus) “and with fire.” Oil symbolically is higher than water, for the reason that it always rises to the top of water and besides is the fuel for fire, which water is not. It is a substitute symbol for “fire” itself, being its fuel and giving a bright and shining appearance. So then the Messiah, as the “anointed God,” was the Christos, come or coming to earth to be gradually reborn into his next stage of expanded life and consciousness through a baptism or anointing with the “oil of” divine “gladness.”
The “anointing” facet of the meaning allies the term “Messiah” with the Greek name of “Christos.” We have already traced this as a likely derivative from the Egyptian KaRaST, the name of the mummy, or the god “fleshed” (Greek: kreas, “flesh.”) It is probable that all these are kindred to the Sanskrit kri, “to pour out,” “to rub over,” i.e., “to anoint.” Messiah and Christos are therefore identical in meaning. The kri derivation of the word at once establishes Krishna as a Messiah of the first order.
The intellectual roots of the Messianic tradition lie away down in the ancient cosmogonic formula that the Logos was to become fleshed and dwell among the inhabitants of earth. The fleshing of the Logos, which was the condition and concomitant phenomenon of his earthly advent, was the coming of Messiah. Begotten before all the worlds in the bosom of the Father, dwelling in the inchoate depths of the “abyss” of matter before the creation swept into organic form, he was destined to come to the fullness of his manifestation in the flowering of the genius of his divinity in a race of human but potentially divine men on this planet. As much of his cosmic power as could function through the mechanism of fleshly body on such a planet was to be brought forth in full epiphany, or to full appearance in human fleshly embodiment. This segment or ray of its power was the Christos. The Logos is the unbounded Power that informs and ensouls the whole manifest creation. In no way could the totality of its energy be circumscribed and contained in a single solar system, a single planet, or a single race of beings on a given planet. How much less, then, could it be embodied in the tiny confines of the body of a single man? But that degree, measure and aspect of its universal vibration – that one note of its infinite gamut of tones and chords – which the brain and nervous system of a race of conscious beings on a globe could embody and express, or in the etymological sense of the word, per-sonal-ize (i.e., sound through, from sonum, “sound,” and per, “through,”) that form of the universal expression was the Christos. It would come to birth in the milieu of mortal strife, in the body of a biologically developed animal race wherein animal carnality would contend furiously with its incipient new order of gentleness until subdued by the all-conquering power of a higher order of intelligence. It would gradually grow into the fullness of its stature of conscious power and at last take over the rulership of all the motivations of action and end by seating himself on the throne in the kingdom of the world. The Christos was one ray of the energy of the Logos, that ray which could rule in the kingdom of man’s mind, heart, soul. Its gradual growth in the spirit and consciousness of the human race was the coming of Messiah.
Playing the role of the central event, and embracing indeed the entire inner significance of the whole process of human racial evolution, it was at once the dominant theme, the nub and focus, of all the schematism in religion and philosophy. The gist of all the meaning in scriptures and theology falls within its pale. The coming, that is, the birth, of the Son of God, his chain of experiences dramatized as his circumcision, baptism, temptation, trial, condemnation, crucifixion, death and resurrection, formed the ritualistic outline of his life on earth, his sojourn in the flesh.
But the first onset of the rush of perception that springs from this basic statement brings with it the vitally significant realization that the “coming” of Christos to humanity would be a process covering the whole life span of humanity itself. It would be a coming of such gradual movement that it would far better be described as a growth carried forward over the entire history of man. It would be a coming only in the sense in which we say that a child comes to be a man. There is seen to be no possible place in the conception for a “coming” in the sense of an arrival in objective manifestation at a given moment or year. It is to be seen as a coming that is always being forwarded, ever taking place from one end of the cycle to the other, from the beginning of a period of creation to the end of the aeon. The basic conception of Messiah thus rules out from the start the idea of its fulfillment in and through the birth of a man at any “date” in history, and reduces any such statement of it at once to the category of symbol.
The correctness of this view is found immediately at hand in the several titles prefixed to the Messianic figure in ancient Egypt. He is “the Ever-Coming One,” “He Who Ever Comes Periodically.” The idea is emphasized also in one of the many addresses uttered by Horus, who is the Messiah, when he announces himself in the words “I am Horus, who steppeth onward through eternity.” Again it is the background of his declaration: “Eternity and everlastingness is my name.” He says he is Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, and the name of his boat is Millions of Years.” “I am the persistent traveler on the ways of heaven.” A score of other appellations and descriptions would fortify the diuturnity of the conception. The “regular” and “periodical” nature of the coming will be dealt with more at large when the astronomical aspect of the typism is reviewed. Nothing is clearer than that the ancient tradition of Messiah connoted nothing whatever in the form of an event that could be dated in history. It definitely reads as the unfoldment of a power through a process that runs on continuously through the cycle of the race. It is a growth that takes place in the life and consciousness. It has its beginnings, its mid-course and its climactic denouement. But while all these stages are accomplished through an instrument that binds the operation to a scene in time and place, still no stage, aspect or crisis in the process is a local temporal event. The birth can be said to take place in “Bethlehem” or in “Abydos” or in “Annu.” But these were names of subjective realities long before they were assigned to cities when the allegory was foisted on local geography. The birth would have taken place in “Bethlehem” and “Annu,” and the crucifixion on “Golgotha,” no matter what particular localities later received these names. The baptism took place in the Jordan, yes, if the Jordan is the river of life that runs on the borderline between the kingdom of the flesh and the Holy Land of spirit, and must be crossed by the peregrinating souls to reach the Promised Land of blessedness. The temptation took place on the Mount, if the “Mount” is the planet earth. And the resurrection took place in and from the tomb, if that “tomb” is the mortal body. The death took place on the cross, if that “cross” is the deadening inhibition of the sluggish vibration or inertia of the material corpus in which soul comes to be housed for a season. Yet in no soul’s experience can these “events” be organized into a series of historical occurrences as for an individual human being. Although they are in themselves the essence and meaning-gist of all historical event, they do not transpire in the realm of three-dimensional space, nor are they commensurable with the human sense of temporal happening. They do not occur “once upon a time.” They are rather the final deposit of the whole historical stream upon the ocean bed of basic consciousness undergoing its initiation into reality. If, as Tennyson avers, life is ever going from more to more, the birth and transformation of the Christ nature is the cycle of cosmic event that gives a particular mode of life or type of consciousness its baptism into a larger sweep of sentient being. It was and is the event of human history; but still not an event in human history. It was the one event and not one of the events. None of the typologies by which ancient genius dramatized this chapter of evolutionary history could be detached and called an event in that history. The whole straggling line of linked events in world history make up this one cosmic event. We are all living now, individually and collectively, the baptism, the temptation and the transfiguration of the Christos, yet no single event of our lives is any of these transactions. The gradual upsurge of the spirit of charity and good-will in human hearts was the birth of the Christ on earth, and the continuous expansion and growing sway of that spirit among men was his ever-coming.
Massey’s unequivocal declaration is that the advent of Messiah was periodic, not once for all. His words are stirring:
“Once-for-all could have no meaning in relation to that which was ever-coming from age to age, from generation to generation, or for ever and ever. Eternity itself to the Egyptians of the Ritual was aeonian, or synonymous with millions of repetitions, therefore ever-coming in the likeness of perennial renewal, whether in the water-springs of earth or the day-spring from on high, the papyrus-shoot, the green branch, or as Horus the child, in whom a Savior was at length embodied as a figure of eternal source. At the foundation of all sacrifice we find the great Earth-Mother, following the human mother, giving herself for food and drink. Next the type of sacrifice is that of the ever-coming child. . . . Thenceforth the papyrus-plant was represented by the shoot; the tree by the branch; the sheep by the lamb; the Savior by the infant as an image of perpetual renewal in life by means of his own death and transformation in furnishing the elements of life.”
The phrase of central importance in this passage is that which describes the life as unfolding its germinal potentiality into product through millions of repetitions. The first of all principia in the knowledge of life is that it eternally renews itself in periodic cycles of birth, growth, decay and death (of its forms), building its constructions each time anew out of the debris of the old, and unfolding a segment of its predetermined pattern in each renewal. That which becomes ever increasingly apparent to the student of Egyptian wisdom is the great fact of the eternal renewal. It is the hub of the universe and the nub of all discourse about it. The understanding that life endlessly renews itself, dying to be born again, turning the very wrack of death into the sustenance of new life, and so advancing to its purpose through the series, is the first fundament of knowledge, the ground of all wisdom.
And that which “comes,” which manifests itself in increasing revelation at each successive wave of ongoing, is just the archetypal design, the ultimate as it was the primary goal, of the whole movement. This structural and organic whole is Logos, the “logical” form that the creation is to take. Obviously that which conforms to and harmonizes with the primordial cosmic mental design is “logical”; that which does not is “illogical.”
We can not doubt that through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and that life is making its epiphany through the circling of the suns. In its minor cycle, too, the Christos, arm of the power of the Logos, ray from its larger cosmic fiery heart, manifests its developing beauty through its successive reincarnational expressions in material body on earth. Each descent to earth, where it dies as seed of former growth to be renewed as new shoot, brings to view a larger graciousness, a more resplendent loveliness of its nature. It makes many “comings” in order finally to be here in full. The endless repetition of cycle in the life movement makes the coming of deific power both periodic and regular, as the Egyptians have it.
If the fundamental truth about life is that it eternally renews itself, the human mind has not far to go to find the natural analogue of the principium. Two types of endless renewal confront the eye of man at all times. The one is the seasonal death and rebirth of nature; the other is the periodical cycles of the stars. The seasonal renewal of nature has an astronomical basis and background. It will readily be seen, then, how this determination operated to throw the whole delineation of Messianic advent into the forms of astronomical cycles. It was but a matter of looking at nature, which herself set the norms and figures of cyclical periodicity, to discern the types that would exemplify the ceaseless adventing of the Christos into the mundane sphere. Utilizing primarily the two most patent cycles of the day and the year, as well as the annual cycle of growth and death in the vegetable world, the fashion under the typism of the zodiacal precession and the great mythical and stellar-cycles. These will be elaborated presently.
In the Rubric directions to Chapter 149 of the Ritual (Birch) there are given the secret instructions “by which the soul of Osiris is perfected in the bosom of Ra.” This perfecting of the soul of deity is the equivalent of the “coming” of the Christ on earth to establish the reign of good-will among men.
“By this book the soul of the deceased shall make its exodus with the living and prevail amongst, or as, the gods. By this book he shall know the secrets of that which happened in the beginning. No one else has ever known this mystical book or any part of it. It has not been spoken by men. . . . Carry it out in the judgment hall. This is a true Mystery, unknown anywhere to those who are uninitiated.”
It is ever to be remembered that the “deceased” in the Egyptian Ritual is the living mortal, not the earthly defunct; and therefore its making its exodus among the living is a reference to its coming to full development in the life on earth. The great Mystery is of course the whole import and the reality of life in the cycles, the secret wisdom that the soul picks up throughout its whole peregrination through the kingdoms of organic existence. It unfolds in course as the cycling spiral of experience extends.
Massey’s further delineation of the Christos principle is enlightening:
“The Messu, or the Messianic prince of peace, was born into the world at Memphis in the cult of Ptah as the Egyptian Jesus, with the title of Iu-em-hetep, he who comes with peace or plenty and good fortune as the type of eternal youth. Here we may note in passing that this divine child, Iu-em-hetep, as the image of immortal youth, the little Hero of all later legend, the Kamite Heracles, had been one of the eight great gods of Egypt, who were in existence 20,000 years ago; (Herodotus, 2:43) known as Khepr, Horus, Aten, Tum or Nefer-Atum according to the cult. . . . His mother’s name at On was Iusaas, she who was great (as) with Iusa or Iusu, the ever-coming child, the Messiah of the inundation.” (For even the periodicity of the Nile overflow was used to portray the rhythm of the coming.)
One of the most revealing of all ancient scriptural indices is this great Egyptian name of the Messianic Christ-figure that held in Egypt for some thousands of years B.C. – Iu-em-hetep. It is nearly the whole story in itself. Iu is the verb “to come” ; em is “with” or “in”; and hetep is, most significantly, both the noun “peace” and the number “seven.” As all cycles are encompassed in seven stages or sub-cycles, the “peace” that is to be consummated in this seven-part cycle of human development is thus the equivalent or counterpart of the seventh and climactic tonal vibration which synthesizes the whole expression. When humanity shall have reached the apex of its seven-toned perfection, its “peace” will be the harmony of seven keynotes synchronized in one grand master-tone. Therefore “peace” and “seven” are identical, and the Egyptian expressed this profound knowledge in the one word “hetep.” (It is our “seven” even now, as the hetep form shortened to “hept,” the “h” roughened, as it has often done, into “s,” and so the Latin has its “sept-em” and the English its “septenary” and “September.”) Iu-em-hetep then reads: “(He who) comes with or in peace as number seven,” or as the seventh or climactic stage of the cycle. This name is alone enough to negate all historical assumptions connected with the coming of Messiah. It declares that Messiah comes in his last and consummative stage only in the last round of the cycle. If Messiah came in person two thousand years ago, it was an untimely and futile advent. He came too soon and wholly out of relation to cyclical denouement. The Bible itself is loud in its proclamation of the aeonially cataclysmic accompaniments of the last days of the cycle, when the Son of Man (the product of the “man” cycle and therefore its Son) shall come in the clouds of heavenly consciousness to pronounce the final judgments on the results of the cycle’s effort. The “coming” in Judea in the year one A.D. is therefore like the entry of an actor into the play long before his cue and out of all pertinence to his part in the drama. In the premature appearance of the Christ in embodied form at a given date in world time the whole framework of the ancient theological structure would have been disorganized. In brief, a personal Messiah at any time is not necessary to the meaning or fulfillment of ancient theology. In fact the latter can not in any way accommodate in its essential structure a historical Messiah. The introduction of such an element into the system deranges the logic and upsets the meaning of the whole. Ancient theology had no place for a man-Savior.
The Jesus-legend, says Massey, was Egyptian, but, he adds, it was at first without the dogma of historic personality. The latter was a spurious addition made to it by misguided Christians.
In the Ritual Horus, the Egyptian Christ, says:
“I am Horus, the prince of eternity. Witness of eternity is my name.” (Ch. 42.)
He steps onward through eternity without ever stopping or standing still. Or he sails in “the boat of Horus,” the name of which is “Millions of Years.”
It is significant that, according to Higgins in the Anacalypsis (p. 591), seven Zoroasters are recorded by different historians. The Avatars of Persia bore the name of Zoroaster, and thus it is to be inferred the Chaldean priests of Babylon and Persia simply designated one Messiah to each of the seven stages of the cycle. Again one reads that there were fourteen Zoroasters. As nearly every aspect of life force or intelligence was susceptible of a double or two-fold representation, or was the result of the interplay of two opposing energies, the twice-seven enumeration is understandable without change of essential connotation. But we have a very direct and likely correct hint as to the inner purport of the name Zoroaster in Higgins’ conjecture that, as he suspects, “he was merely the supposed genius of a cycle.” It is hardly possible for us to light upon a more sententious true definition of a Messiah or Avatar than this phrase of Higgins: the genius of a cycle. Life runs its course through the kingdoms and the cycles, and it is more than poetry to say that it sounds out a given note in a scale of tones in the cosmic tone-poem in each cycle. The dominant note produced by the energic vibration in each cycle, understood in terms of conscious expression as sense, emotion, thought and intuition, would be the divine Messenger, the Messiah or Avatar of that cycle. As Heraclitus so well says, “man’s genius is a deity.” In the light of this truth we have the links that form at last a chain to bind our thought fast to a stratum of all theology, namely, the enlightened meaning of Messianism. Higgins says (Anac., p. 616) that every cycle has its muse, its song and its Savior. Doubtless, too, if we were conversant with cosmic schematism, we should find it has its dominant vibration, its key rate or frequency, its color, its number, its proper name. We are yet, perhaps, too ignorant of cosmic graphology to evaluate the import of the fact that the color of earthly vegetation is green.
We find Democritus saying that “Deity is but a soul in an orbicular fire.” There is in a pronouncement of this kind a fathomless well of profundity, which our minds must struggle to comprehend. The soul is a fragment – and a seed fragment, capable of reproducing its parent – of God, an embryonic child of his Mind; and the fragment is set whirling through the cycles under the force of a fiery creative energization. This energization sets up, as it were, a draught or a friction by the power of which the divine potencies slumbering in the seed are awakened to budding, growth and fruition. The universal direction of the movement engendered by the energy of creation produced by God’s thought is “orbicular.” The helix or spiral is the ancient Greek symbol of all creative motion.
It may be noted in passing that, as Higgins narrates, Zoroaster was born in innocence and of an immaculate conception, of a ray of the Divine Reason. When he was born the glory arising from his body lighted up the room, and he laughed at his mother. He was called a splendid light from the tree of knowledge, and in the finale he or his soul was suspended a ligno (from the wood), or from the tree, the tree of knowledge. Here again we find the cross or tree of Calvary, the tree of the Christ, identified with the tree of knowledge of Genesis. It is in the imputations of such data as this, strewn prolifically over the field of comparative religion study, that the true significance of the literature of which the Gospels are but a fragment is found.
Iamblichus, the “divine doctor” of the Neo-Platonic school, writes that the sun was “the image of divine intelligence,” and Plato speaks of the sun as “an immortal living Being.” But no statement surpasses the mighty pronouncement of Proclus, as he discourses on Plato’s theology, that “the light of the sun is the pure energy of Intellect.” The energy of thought in man’s tiny brain is found to be able to engender a glow of light, heat and power, electric in nature. Thought, divine from the start, was the first General Light and Power plant. The ineffable universal power that lights the suns is the energy generated by God’s Mind in process of thinking and willing! As man’s puny thought organizes his life and his world in his fragmentary sphere, so God’s thought organizes and controls the universe. Souls are seed-sparks of the mighty fiery glow and gleam that flash out in the darkness of the void to become the centers of light. Little wonder the Egyptians equated the two words “star” and “soul” in the same word, Seb, as they equated “peace” and “seven” in the word hetep. And even Seb likewise means “seven,” since each soul is in reality the potentiality of seven souls, or a soul building itself up to perfection in seven cycles, unfolding a segment of itself in each. Most instructive is the promise found in the Sibylline books: “He will send his Son from the Sun.”
The first seven emanations from the heart of Deity were called the “Sons of Fire” in the sacred scriptures of all great nations. They were the seven lights on the Tree, the seven archangelic “candles.” The Jewish book of esoteric truth, the Kabalah, denominates them the seven Sephiroth upon the Sephirothal Tree. They are the seven Powers before the Throne. A word of seven letters in each different tongue is found carved in the architectural remains of every grand religious structure in the world, from the Cyclopean remains on Easter Island to the earliest Egyptian pyramids. The seven candles of the churches still mutely flaunt their ineffable cosmic meaning before the blind eyes of the flocks of modern worshippers, who are sublimely innocent of comprehension.
Quoting Clement of Alexandria, Thomas Aquinas says the candle “is a sign of the Christ, not only in shape, but because he sheds his light through the ministry of the seven spirits primarily created and who are the seven eyes of the Lord.” Therefore the principal planets are to the seven primeval spirits, according to St. Clement, that which the candle-sun is to Christ himself, namely – their vessels, their phulachai, or guardians.
It has been proven more difficult to find the clear and explicit significance of the number fourteen, or twice seven, already glanced at, than that of most other forms of symbolism or numerology in the ancient formulations. That the number has real relation to cosmic or evolutionary fact, however, must be presumed on the strength of numerous occurrences of it in ancient lore. There is a possible base of meaning in the fact that, since life is the result of an interplay between spirit and matter, and each stage of growth is consummated in a cycle embracing seven steps, there would be a seven on the physical side and a corresponding seven on the spiritual. Every sign of the zodiac is dually aspected, presumably to indicate that the particular ray of potency expressed through it is the resultant of opposed spirit-matter energies. (Likely these are the four-and-twenty elders of Revelation.) Possibly the seven planes or stages of the physical creation are taken dually in the same way. At any rate we find Damascius saying:
“There are seven series of cosmocrators or cosmic forces, which are double; the higher ones commissioned to support and guide the superior world, the lower ones the inferior world (our own).”
We have significant allegorical treatment of the twice-seven in the Old Testament, when Jacob has to serve seven years for Leah and an additional seven for Rachel. But there is other use of it in Genesis, where it is said that from Adam to the Flood is fourteen generations, from the Flood to the going down into Egypt is fourteen generations, and from the going down into Egypt to the Exodus is fourteen generations. Every intimation seems to point to the genealogical lists of Patriarchs in the Old Testament as being type-names of the cycles, as one generates, or “begets” its successor. This is indeed the verdict of the best students in the field of esoteric and comparative religion. It turns out, on the basis of much clear evidence, that the “Patriarchs” of Jewish “history” are the names of what the Hindus have called “Manus.” Capt. Wilford in Asiatic Researches (Vol. V, p. 243) says: “The Egyptians had fourteen dynasties, and the Hindus had fourteen dynasties, the rulers of which were called Menus.” These “dynasties” are obviously not the dynasties of lines of historical monarchs. They are clearly evolutionary epochs, distinguished, at least in schematic diagram, by the predominant key-note of expression of the life or consciousness in each epoch. As “man” is the Sanskrit verb “to think,” this term “Manu” seems to say with the utmost definiteness that these fourteen Manus or “genii of cycles” were actually the designations for fourteen (or seven taken doubly) types of progressive manifestations of the thinking principle in evolution. This clarification of otherwise meaningless and baffling Old Testament recondite narrative is an important gain in understanding.
The “rulers” of the dynasties just as clearly would not be men, certainly not men of the strictly human category, but rather the dominant key-type of mentality of the different stages.
Still another signification of the fourteen is advanced by Massey, who takes from the Egyptian phrase, “house of a thousand years,” – “house” being used in the sense of a zodiacal sign – the meaning that makes it equivalent to another phrase, “fourteen life-times,” rated at seventy-one years each, or nine hundred and ninety four. Horus or Iusa, in the “house of a thousand years,” was the bringer of the millennium. Sut, or Satan, released for “seven days” – the period of matter’s dominance over spirit, buried in its inertia – was then bound for a thousand years – the period when in turn spirit gains ascendancy over matter and turns it to its service – and religious typology worked this out as roughly fourteen life-times. What more typical example or instance of a true cycle than a human life-time?
If the title of address to deity by early Christians was “Our Lord, the Sun!” up to the fifth or sixth century (when it was altered into “Our Lord, the God!”), it is not difficult to see the profound and fundamentally true meaning of the most general statement that can be found in ancient literature to describe the nature of the Messiah or the Avatar, which was, “the Messiahs were all incarnations of the Sun.” This is indeed a sentence which holds the pith and marrow of all theology. Yet it falls meaningless upon the mind of this age because the great Sun-myth in religion has been misconstrued by ignorance into rankly materialistic conception. Through this miscarriage spiritual ideology has been warped into physical sense. The mighty truth hidden behind all sun-symbolism in ancient thought escaped recognition when that great item of knowledge had been lost which revealed that the sun is the blazing effulgence of divine intellect. It is the ineffable light of Mind. If the light of this truth could be made once again to enter the mind of man, all the alleged material degradation of the conception of the Sun as God – the charge brought by shallow and uncomprehending Christianity against the wiser ancients – would be swallowed up in the magnificence of the truer conception. When will it be seen – as the ancients knew it – that the Christos, the deity in man, is a seed fragment of the deity that glows in insupportable grandeur in the sun, is in fact a little sun of divine intellect embodied in each man? Only when again that luminous truth is regained, will the full grand import of ancient “sun-worship” dawn to cognition in the modern brain, and the slur of arrogant modernity against pagan worshipers of the heavenly luminary be ended by reverent understanding.
We can now take a passage such as the following from Higgins (Anac., p. 588) and see its essential truth. Referring to the many Messianic figures as repeated incarnations of the solar deity, he says:
“Here we see the renewal of the incarnation just spoken of in the fact of identity in the history of most of the ancient hero-Gods, which has been fully demonstrated by Creuzer in his second volume. The case was that all the hero-Gods were incarnations – Genii of cycles, either several of the same cycle in different countries at the same time, or successive cycles – for the same series of adventures was supposed to occur again and again. This accounts for the striking similitudes in all their histories. Some persons will not easily believe that the ancients could be so weak as to suppose that the same things were renewed ever 600 years. Superstition never reasons.”
If comment on Higgins’ concluding fling was seemly, perhaps it would be enough to observe that modern Christians may gather some stimulating reflections from the thought of their having for sixteen centuries accepted as literal history a long and involved series of such dramatic “adventures” of their own purported hero-God, which had been the twentieth or the fiftieth or the one-hundredth recorded repetition of the same adventures of solar deity in the flesh.
The truer view of the import of the saga, says Lord Raglan, was not confined to the Norse, but was, according to Prof. Hooke, general in the ancient world. That the ritual-drama and the hero-legend that grew out of it were dealing with elements of knowledge far higher and more meaningful than mere adventures of an ancestral hero in the flesh, is evidenced by what was behind the representation. Some of these features were: the cyclic movement of the seasons and of the heavenly bodies, together with the ritual system associated with them, which “inevitably tended to produce a view of Time as a vast circle in which the pattern of the individual life and the course of history was a recurring cyclic process.” (The Labyrinth, p. 215.) Raglan comments that this view of time as a ritual circle seems to have been carried over into Christianity, since, according to Prof. James (Christian Myth and Ritual, p. 268) in the Eucharistic sacrament the redemptive work of Christ was celebrated not as a mere commemoration of an historic event; for in the liturgy the past becomes present, and the birth at Bethlehem and the death on Calvary were apprehended as ever-present realities independent of time and space. This is welcome light amid modern darkness.
A remark of Higgins may fall in appropriately here. He contends that it is philosophical to hold in suspicion all such histories (as the legendary recitals concerning Roger Bacon), but unphilosophical to receive them without suspicion. The mythos, he says, has corrupted all history. Who can doubt, he asks, that the Argonautic expedition is a recurring mythos? As Virgil has told us, new Argonauts would arise from time to time. But while one can sense the legitimate connotation of Higgins’ observation that the mythos has intruded on the ground of actual history and “corrupted” it, this is a great deal like saying that music and poetry have come in to corrupt real life. The mythos was designed to irradiate history with meaning, as music and poetry are adapted to halo life with deeper significance. The only mistake – and it is the invariable and unfailing one – was in reading the mythos for history, and not seeing it as the light of history. And if new Argonauts would arise from age to age, so new Christs would arise in future times and countries, – but in the recurring mythos, not in human embodiment. As a thousand adaptations of the love-lyric have arisen in every age to celebrate the great passion, so the equally vital theme of the soul’s incarnation in flesh was reissued in ever new mythical and allegorical dress.
“I suspect that new Troys were expected every six hundred years. In the case of the Romans this was a superstition, which could not be corrected by that kind of experience which we acquire from history. What we call their history, Mr. Niebuhr has shown, was mere mythos. This will account for a degree of superstition which would be otherwise scarcely credible among the higher ranks of the Romans. . . . An Englishman called Lumsden has asserted that many of the incidents in Roman history were identical with those in the heroical history of the Greeks, and therefore must have been copied from them. . . . They were not copies of one another, but were drawn from a common source; were in fact an example of remaining fragments of the almost lost, but constantly renewed, mythos which we have seen everywhere in the East and West – new Argonauts, new Trojan Wars” – and new Messiahs under changing names, though always a name indicating solar deific character.
This is well and truly discerned; and in connection with it Higgins sets forth his consistent thesis that all early histories were originally composed and written in verse for the sake of correct retention in memory, and further set to music for the same reason. The most ancient of the ancients had nothing of the nature of our real history. Real history was not the object or aim of their writing, any more than it was Virgil’s or Milton’s or Dante’s.
Cristna (Krishna), Moses, Cyrus, Romulus and others were all exposed, Higgins reminds us, but all were saved from the tyrant’s power. And, like Alfred the Great (whom Raglan shows to have been also a semi-mythical character), they were all preserved by a cowherd. The cowherd would have relevance under Taurian zodiacal symbolism, and the figure would have been changed to a shepherd at the incidence of the next sign in the precessional order, Aries, the Ram.
And very enlightening is Higgins’ comment on the deification of the Caesars:
“Much nonsense has been written concerning the heroes of antiquity being converted into Gods, but now in the Caesars I think we may see the real nature of the apotheosis. They were not supposed to be men converted into Gods, but were incarnations of a portion of Divine Spirit; at least this was the real and secret meaning of the apotheosis. They were men endowed with the Holy Ghost. They were nothing but men supposed to be filled with more than a usual portion of that Spirit.
“Like Christian saints they were not generally declared till after their deaths. . . . I am surprised that we have not a life of Octavius by a Latin Xenophon to match the heathen gospel called the Cyropaedia.”
Higgins cites the ancient mythical figure known as “Nimrod” as interpreting “the Beast” of Revelation, which had seven heads and ten horns, as a glyph for the Great Cycle of Life in animal (beast) embodiment, during which the ten later spiritual powers were developed in the seven sub-cycles; or in Kabalistic language, the perfection of the ten (twelve) higher spiritual faculties or Sephirothal powers through the seven elementary cycles.
LOST CYCLES OF THE SUN
It is of immense significance that the name “Sibyl,” which has earlier been discussed, is given by Higgins as probably meaning “cycle of the sun.” Ancient wisdom, or ancient mythologies proclivity, or both in co-operation, conspired to allot to each cycle its presiding genius, its Christos, conceived as a ray of the solar divine fire of intelligence. But it assigned also to each cycle its female guardian, its prophetess or “Sibyl.” Higgins states that we have the prophecies of eight of these Sibyls, which indicates that eight of the cycles had passed. In the first century one was still awaited. This would seem to harmonize fully with the tradition extant in Roman history as to the visit of the aged Sibyl to King Tarquin with nine of her books containing the forecast of future Roman history; going off and burning three upon his refusal to buy them; coming back and offering the remaining six for the same price asked for the nine; burning three more; and finally receiving her original price for the remaining three. The prophecies of the Cumaean Sibyl were quoted by many of the earliest Christian Fathers from Justin and Clemens to Augustine, as credible authority for the belief in the coming of the Christ on whom the Christian faith was based. Clemens of Alexandria quotes these words from St. Paul in Latin: “Take the Greek books, learn as to the Sibyl, how she foretells one God and those things which are future.” St. Austin says that the Sibyl, Orpheus and Homer all spoke truly of God and of his Son. (Sir John Floyer, On the Sibyls, p. IX.)
Dr. Lardner admits that the old Fathers call the Sibyls prophetesses in the strictest sense of the word. The Sibyls were known as such to Plato, Aristotle, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Plutarch, Pausanius, Cicero, Varro, Virgil, Ovid, Tacitus, Juvenal and Pliny. But what can they have foretold? – Higgins asks. And he answers: the same as Isaiah, as Enoch, as Zoroaster, as the Vedas, as the Irish Druid from Bocchara and as the Sibyl of Virgil, – “a renewed cycle of its hero or divine incarnation, its presiding genius.”
We can perhaps locate the aeonial construction of the Sibylline theory in the fact stated by Higgins that all the purveyors of the tradition admit of ten ages, which, each six hundred years long, constitute the “great Age” of six thousand years. Yet, he says, they do not agree as to the time when the ages commence; some making them begin with the creation, some with the flood; but the Erythraean Sibyl is the only one who correctly states them to begin from Adam.
The most important part of these Sibylline oracles, says Higgins, is a very celebrated collection of verses in the eighth book of the prophecy of the Erythraean Sibyl, which in its first words forms the acrostic in the Greek language: Iesous Chreistos Theou Uios Soter Stauros; or, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, Cross, the initial letters of which (in Greek) without the last “S” spell the Greek word Ichthys, or “Fish,” the zodiacal designation of the Christian Jesus in the Hellenic world all through the first centuries. The Christians in Italy and elsewhere in the early centuries were called by the pagans Pisciculi, or “Little Fishes,” and both Tertullian and Augustine refer to Christ in the world as the Great Fish in the sea.
Tertullian carries out this symbolism in a notable sentence (De Bapt., c. 1):
“We little fishes, according to our ICHTHUS, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way. . . .”
Cicero, speaking of the prediction of the Savior’s advent in the Sibyls, says: “But that they proceeded not from fury and prophetic rage, but rather from art and contrivance, doth no less appear otherwise than from the acrostic in them.” Eusebius (vide Floyer’s Sibyl, Pref. xx) says the acrostic was in the Sibylline books at the time of Cicero. And we have given Justin’s statement that the Sibyl had foretold the coming of Christ.
It is certainly indicated from positive utterances that a comparative study of the Sibylline remains and the Gospels should be made with the greatest despatch and care.
A succinct statement of the general belief in the cyclical order of Messianic return is made by Higgins (Anac., p. 200):
“It was the belief that some great personage would appear in every cycle, as the Sibylline verses prove; but it was evidently impossible to make the birth of great men coincide with the birth of the cycle. But when it was desirable to found power upon the belief that a living person was the hero of the cycle, it was natural to expect that the attempt should have been made, as was the case with the verses of Virgil and others. This great personage is, according to Mr. Parkhurst, the type of a future savior.”
Nothing accentuates better than this passage the advantageous manipulation of a universal sacred tradition by the human side of priestly zeal for very human ends. Supplementing this is Higgins’ revealing conjecture, which is almost certainly a bull’s-eye hit at the truth:
“I suspect that the vulgar were taught to expect a new divine person every six hundred years, and a millennium every six thousand; but that the higher classes were taught to look to the year of Brahm, 432,000 years, or perhaps to 4,320,000 years.”
The latter number was the Hindu reckoning of the length of the Great Year of Brahm, or a Day of Manifestation. The statement brings out the difference between esoteric and exoteric teaching. And it conveys a most direct hint to guide us in the effort to locate the full truth about the Messianic announcements in days of old. It tears away the whole mask of furtive practice on the part of the ancient priesthood, and discloses the policy that is more than anything else responsible for the world’s uncertainty and confusion over the great doctrine of the Messiah. It tells us clearly that while among the initiated and the intelligent the purely spiritual nature of the Avatar was known and treasured in secret, the masses of uninstructed people were kept hugging the delusion that the cycle was to be heralded and fulfilled by the birth of a great Hero and Savior. “They can not grasp the meaning of a spiritual coming – they must be told it is a man” – might be put as the gist and genius of the exoteric delusion.
Mention has been made of the ancient Avataric theory as embracing ten cycles of six hundred years each, making a “great cycle” of six thousand years, presumably heralding the millennium in the seventh thousand. This – if such was the scheme – would simply represent the six Genesis “Days” (cycles) of active physical world-building, followed by the Sabbath (seventh) Day, consummating the work of creation with the flowering out of divine genius in the highest creature, man, in the seventh aeon. Each period was roughly equated with the “house of a thousand years” already mentioned. The “ten horns” of the Beast would be the ten sub-periods of six hundred years each. About the time of Jesus it was believed that nine of the ten sub-cycles had passed, and world-wide expectation was set to await the coming of the tenth and climactic aeon of the great cycle. We may have here one of the answers to the oft-propounded questions: Why, if there was no historical Jesus, did the whole great movement of Christianity start at that time? There must have been a living personage at that time to give the initial impetus to so great a sweep toward a new religious formulation as took shape in Christianity. Christian writers on Jesus all emphasize the universal deep-seated expectation of Messiah prevalent then. The religious atmosphere was electrically charged with this fervent looking and longing for the aeonial consummation, with its proclaimed advent of the Savior, exoterically believed to be about to descend into the flesh. It will surely come as a shock to many Christians, with minds fed on the all-convincing claims of the Church, to learn that the expectation of Messiah’s arrival was so deep and general that various groups of sectarians in and out of the Christian circle, looking around to locate the true Avatar in the person of some great one, actually picked on more than one prospective candidate. Among those thus marked for Messianic characterization were Apollonius of Tyana, Marcion, Montanus, Simon Magus and Arion, much as Plato and Pythagoras had been considered divine births five and six hundred years before. This probably by no means exhausts the list. And that Marcion and Montanus were chosen for the honor several hundred years after the life of the Jesus figure indicates beyond cavil that there had been no consensus of certitude as to the birth and Messiahship of the man of Galilee. Those who picked later candidates assuredly could not have been convinced that the Christ had come definitely and surely in the man Jesus in the first century.
Higgins cites old works, among them one entitled Tavanibr’s and Bermei’s Travels (Vol. II, p. 106) as speaking of the ancient belief that the second Person of the Trinity had incarnated nine times.
“The Gentiles do hold that the second Person of the Trinity was incarnated nine times, and that because of divers necessities of the world, from which he hath delivered it; but the eighth incarnation is the most notable; for they hold that the world, being enslaved under the power of the giants, it was redeemed by the second Person, incarnated and born of a Virgin at midnight, the angels singing in the air and the heavens pouring down a shower of flowers all that night.”
He then goes on to say that incarnated God was wounded in the side by a giant, in consequence of which he was called “the wounded in the side,” and that a tenth incarnation is yet to come. He then relates a story that the third Person of the Trinity appeared in the form of fire.
“It is allowed in the Dialogues on Prophecy (Part 4, p. 338) that we are now in the seventh Millenary of the world. This is exactly my theory,” writes Higgins. “When Daniel prophesied to Nebuchadnezzar of the Golden Head about the year 603 B.C., he clearly spoke of four kingdoms, including that then going, for he calls Nebuchadnezzar the golden head. . . . These kingdoms are cycles of six hundred years and bring the commencement of the millennium to about the year twelve hundred, according to what I have proved, that the era of the birth of Christ was the beginning of the ninth age of the Romans and Sibyls and the ninth Avatar of India.”
It is more than likely that the allegory of the great image in Daniel, whose head was of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and his feet partly of iron and partly of clay, refers to the four elements or planes in the constitution of man and not at all to measurable cycles of years. It is stretching the word “kingdom” pretty far to make it refer to a mere lapse of a few hundred years of historical time. “Kingdom” as used by ancient allegorists denotes a realm, type or stage of consciousness, and nothing temporal or historical in a political sense. Its meaning in the phrases “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God,” as well as “kingdom of this world,” decry such a rendering. Yet as each kingdom of evolving consciousness was established during a given cycle, there is after all a correlation of the meaning with the time or period sense. But the allegory is clearly referring to evolutionary cycles and not to groups of a few hundred years along the historical time-lapse. Obviously the millennium did not begin at the year 1200, and the time-table of this interpretation sadly miscarried.
But it is not risking much likelihood of error to assert that there is a startling clue to a very definite delineation of the cycle-graph in this image construction that has never hitherto been analyzed or interpreted with the true key. The image of a man from head to foot, composed of a series of elements running in order of fineness and preciousness from gold at the summit to iron and clay at the feet, is conclusively a typing of the composite nature of man, who from his head of gold (spirit) to his feet of miry clay (matter) is a four-ply creature, constituted of spirit (gold), mind (silver), emotion (brass) and sense-body (iron and clay combined), in the allegorical depiction. Higgins is indeed partly vindicated in his judgment of these four element-divisions as time cycles, by a mass of legendary data to be found in the opening chapters of all ancient histories or world cosmographs. It is there said that ancient “poetic” tradition spoke of the reign in the earliest racial dawn of an Age of Innocence when mankind was childlike and knew no evil; and this is called the Golden Age. It was followed by the age of Silver, when life grew a little less halcyon. As man came to adulthood his childlike simplicity and naïveté was replaced by sterner qualities in the Age of Brass. And when finally consciousness had descended fully into the hard realism of earthly embodiment, came the Age of Iron, when the feet of the former angel race were enmired in the heavy clay of sense and body. All the books of the ancient wisdom say that this full course of the descent of the soul into earthly body was consummated in three and a half cycles from angel to man, while also the evolution of the body itself from mineral to human fineness requisite to house the descending spirit was achieved in a similar three and a half cycles or kingdoms. Downward as soul, or upward from the clod as body, man stands exactly where his two constituent elements of god and animal have met and conjoined their powers in the middle of the fourth kingdom counted either way. And this being the background of the imagery in Daniel’s mind, what could be more true and astonishing than that the fourth kingdom should be represented by the half-and-half valence of two symbols, iron and clay? For it is precisely at the point of three and a half stages, kingdoms or cycles from start that life, measured either as soul from above or as body from below, breaks into a twofold balance or fission into two countervailing elements, each of which is the summation of three and a half cycles. Conceived diagrammatically, this would again yield the chiastic structure outlined in an earlier place. Daniel’s grand metal image is therefore a quite true symbolical graph of man’s evolutionary development to his status as a being of three and a half kingdoms or modes of conscious life on both the spiritual and the animal sides of his nature.
On the side of the natural or animal man we have here the basis of a correct interpretation for the first time of one of the pivotal numerical symbolisms in scripture, – the three days in the tomb. “Days” here indubitably refers to cycles, as in Genesis. The text of key significance in the Bible is the verse which reads: “As Jonas was three days in the belly of the whale, so must the Son of Man be three days and nights in the bowels of the earth.” The plain meaning is that the unevolved germ of spiritual consciousness must, like a seed, be implanted in matter and evolve through the three lower physical kingdoms, the mineral, vegetable and animal, until in the middle of the fourth or human kingdom it blossoms out to full function and fruition in the organic brain of man.
This clarification also prepares the way at last for the epochal pronouncement that three is not after all the correct number! Three is a blind or cover for the true number, which is or should be three and a half! Evidence for this will be found in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Revelation, where the number three and a half occurs three times, though it is presented in such cryptic fashion that its true import has been missed. Animal man evolving from sea water rises to full development at the end of three and one half cycles, where it meets soul descending through a corresponding series of three and a half kingdoms of ethereal essence. The body evolving from below thus gives soul its incarnation and divides the area of consciousness with it, sharing its own sense and emotion life with the other’s mental and spiritual powers. Material is not at hand to verify the estimate, but it must be found a curious circumstance, hardly pure coincidence, that Higgins, who gave all such matters life-long consideration, and who did not know of the diagrammatic significance of the three and a half as it has just been analyzed, sets the length of the ministry of the Gospel Jesus at precisely three and a half years. As the estimates of the thousands of scholars who have studied the Bible through the centuries vary from one to three years or more, Higgins’ guess is as good as any.
The important outcome, however, of all this is that the weight of such considerations presses heavily toward the conclusion that the length of the “ministry” of the Jesus figure is wholly numerological allegorism, and has nothing to do with the facts of an alleged biography. Many assign to it one year. This is “the acceptable year of the Lord,” or the cycle of astronomical events in the annual round of the solar year, which become the apt symbols of the events in the whole circuit of human evolution. Then there is the three-year assignment, which is the looser use of three instead of three and a half. The true symbolic period of the interrelated and reciprocal ministry of soul to flesh and flesh to soul (as Browning so well notes) is three and a half “years” or “days.” As the two chapters in Revelation also so clearly bring out, the meaning behind the number 1260, given there twice, is that it is the number of days in forty-two months (also mentioned twice), or three and one half years. Daniel gives the same number, but for some reason as yet unfathomed he gives also the numbers 1290 and 1335 in the last verses of his book. Whether some zealous scribe deliberately altered the number 1260 to the other figures to throw the exoteric mind off the scent is only to be guessed. The full number of days in three and a half years would be 1278. The computation in Revelation that yields 1260 counts thirty days to the month. Just as is the case with the dates of Easter and Christmas, the fact that definite numerical (or historically factual) figures are not given indicates mathematical or astronomical symbolism. The “history” is discredited at every turn.
Higgins calls attention to the noticeable item that comes to light in the study of ancient cycles, that there were always two classes of Avatars running at the same time. Yet, he explains, though there are two, they are after all but one. This was because the Avatars were identical with the cycles, and the two cycles, united, formed a third. He does not clarify this last, but possibly means that the cycle gains a wholly new understanding when it is seen that the Avatar (as a divine “messenger”) is the gist, as it were, of the time cycle. The time period is the Avatar in one sense; the Messenger (or more properly the Message) is the Avatar in another sense; and the two combined yield the complete meaning of the term. If he means that two cycles of six hundred years each unite in length and form a third cycle of twelve hundred years, the meaning may be thus simplified. Naturally the multiples of smaller cycles would form greater cycles. He does not seem to imply that the “third” cycle is composed of the ten presiding geniuses or Neroses, and the ten presiding geniuses of the signs of the zodiac. The Neroses and signs revolve over and over and cross each other, so that finally at the end of the ten signs they conclude at the same time after a period of 21,600 years; thus founding the great cycle. Or if the period be doubled, we have a larger cycle of 43,200 years, which, taken ten times, gives the still greater cycle of Brahm, of 432,000 years.
The word “mundus” (Lat. “the world”) itself was used to refer to a cycle, Higgins claims. He traces the name of Cyrus’ mother, Mundane, to the combination of “Mundus” and “Anna” (a year), meaning “the year’s cycle” or circle of the year, “Cyrus” means the sun!
But the central word in this connection is the Greek aion, “aeon” or “age.” The mistranslation of this word in the phrase teleuten aion in the Bible as “the end of this world,” instead of “the end of the cycle” has been productive of more mental havoc and psychological suffering on the part of millions of misguided dupes than perhaps any other crude bungling of rendition in all the scriptures. To be sure, the final conclusion of great cycles that run over millions of years may fall synchronously with the extinction of life on our planet. But this falls quite outside the pale of any meanings commonly given to religious interpretation. Many cults have used the phrase – “end of the world” – to justify their wild millennial and eschatological expectations. They took it literally to mean the incidence of the great final cataclysm. But any interpretation which envisages the possibility of a planetary crisis within less than several millions of years must be regarded a farrago of childish nonsense.
A remark dropped by Higgins may be very helpful in solving one of the everlasting perplexities of Old Testament meaning: the great ages of the Biblical “patriarchs.” Says Higgins: “The age and its hero personage have been confounded”! Here is the most likely solution of the great conundrum of Methuselah’s nine hundred and sixty-nine years. Not the man, but the age which bore his name, reached the extended limit.
The ninth age was to bring a blessed infant whose coming would restore the beatific Age of God that went out when Paradise was lost. The age, not the child, was to live six hundred years. The coming of this infant was the nub of the expectant faith of the Oriental world for many centuries. Moreover he was to be the ninth (or tenth) great Avatar and close out one of the greater cycles of six thousand years. Nations vied with one another in claiming him as the product of their religion and their national life. He was to be of the lineage of their exalted royal house. Every sect of religionists following the millenary system believed itself to be the favorite of God. Therefore of course its people believed that the Avatar would appear among them. They were therefore ready to catch at any extraordinary person as the great one sent to be the desire of all nations. Thus, says Higgins, we have several ninth and several tenth Avatars running at the same time in different places. Bishop Horsley, he says, could not help seeing the truth that the Fourth Eclogue of Virgil referred to the child to whom the kings of the Magi came to offer presents. He adds the detail that Scipio Africanus, Buddha, Arion, Hercules, were pointed to in many places as the child of Virgil’s prophecy. He adduces the fact – if it is such – that Augustus, Solomon and others who bore Messianic reputations were strangely enough all of a ten-months pregnancy, – to fulfill, one assumes, the tenth Messianic numerical status. Also Alexander, as well as several Hindu Sages, as Salivahana and Gautama, bore the mantle of divine birthhood, being said to have been produced by a serpent entwining around their mothers. As a symbol of divine wisdom, the immaculate conception through a serpent’s impregnation of the mother could well have been one of the forms of allegorical depiction in archaic usage. The Naga or Serpent was a universal symbol of all evolution, and the cycles of seven-period evolution did make the Universal Mother – Nature – pregnant and fruitful.
That there was much credence in the Avataric cycles in the early Church itself is evident from many things. For instance Theodoret is confused about the Christos, stating that sometimes he is regarded as a spirit, and sometimes that he had a virgin for a mother, while again it is written that he was born as other men. And others claim, he says, that the Christ in Jesus reincarnates again and again and goes into other bodies, and at each birth appears differently. Hippolytus, writing of “heretical” beliefs, says Christ is held to be the son of Sophia (Wisdom) above, that he was the male potency of God when the Heavenly Man descending, separated into the two poles of being, spirit and body, and that the Holy Ghost is the female power.
Mead includes the “Holy Spirit” as one of the names of the Mother Sophia. Also “She of the Left Hand” as opposed to the Christos, “Him of the Right Hand.” The Christian creed, which speaks of the Son, who sitteth on the right hand of God, is thus using Gnostic terminology and imagery. And both Gnostics and orthodox Christians were using imagery drawn from long anterior systems. It would be interesting to enlarge upon the Gnostic schematism or systemology which outlined the creations in the microcosmic and macrocosmic phases, and set the elements of the universe in proper relation in the great plan. The purpose of the whole of Life’s creational energization of the universe was to evolve mind to perfection. The emanation and evolution of the World-Mind in cosmogenesis, and of the human mind in anthropogenesis, is the main interest of the secret and sacred science of old. Midway between the upper worlds of spirit and the lower worlds of material constitution, Sophia, Wisdom, has been dwelling. There between the Ogdoad, or Eight Great Powers of Light above, and the Hebdomad, or Seven Spheres of psychic and material substance below, she fashioned her house, and there she mediates between the two worlds of being. In Proverbs (9:1) we have the statement of this in remarkably direct form: “Wisdom hath builded her house; she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” For she projects from above the Types or Ideas of the Divine Mind into the cosmos, stamping them by her power upon the plastic substance of the matter below. But a long disquisition sets forth how she attempted of herself, without the informing power of the First God, to give form to the creation, and failed. This is called the Great Abortion, the effort, so to say, of matter, without the aid of formative Mind, to stamp logical form upon the material universe. Lost and wandering in chaos, then, she is represented as being rescued by Divine Love, or the Christ Aeon, which, like the Christ of the Gospels who healed the abortion of the woman with the issue of blood through the power flowing into her from her touch with his garments, stopped her fruitless wastage of life-blood and made her fruitful for the production of the Sons of Mind. Thus was her abortion stopped and she became the fecund mother of the Mind-born creation. So productive indeed did she become that she was named by a name opprobrious among men, but descriptive purely of her endless and teeming fecundity – the Great Harlot. Mead lists other of her names: Man-Woman, Prouneikos or the Lustful One, the Matrix, the Genetrix, Paradise, Eden, Achamoth, the Virgin, Barbelo, the Daughter of Light, Ennoea, the Lost or Wandering Sheep, Helena and many more.
The “abortion” spoken of by the Gnostics is in many respects just another representative version of the virgin birth. It depicts the effort of pure matter to produce the creation, as it was expressed, “without a syzygy” or pair of opposites. Nature, the eternal Mother, had to be fecundated by the germ of Mind, projected from the male aeon. The Holy Ghost, the power of the highest, had to come upon her, to end her abortive virginity and make her the Mother of the Worlds.
A variant of the virgin birth typology that emphasizes the abortive aspect by means of the additional feature of life-long barrenness, is found in the stories of at least four women in the Bible, Sarah, Hannah, Machir and Elizabeth, who in their old age are made to bring forth the divine child. The import of this allegorism is of course that Mother Nature only succeeds in finally producing her child-product, the Christ consciousness, far along in her creational effort, near the end of her cycle, or in her “old age.” She could not give birth to the Christ-child until six long aeons of physical effort had at last brought the creation of the brain of man, in which such a specialized ray of Mind could function. The birth of the Savior-consciousness in any cycle would come in the seventh or last round of the period, therefore in the old age of the mother-nature forces.
Massey has well analyzed the virgin motherhood and what lay behind it. Of Isis he says she was the virgin mother who produced a purely natural and hence spiritually abortive or inferior type of creation, “without the fatherhood,” but who regenerates or gives new birth to the “dead” Osirian powers of Mind, buried hopelessly in her material womb, until she is fructified by the later copulation with the Christ aeon, or Holy Ghost.
There is the story of Salivahana, a divine child, born of a virgin in Ceylon, which shows such close affinity to that of Jesus that it would be hard to deny a common source for both. He was the son of Tarshaca, a carpenter. His life was attempted in infancy by a tyrant who afterwards was killed by him. Most of the other circumstances, with slight variations, are the same as those told of Krishna. Western scholars have been too blind to the obvious inferences from such identities in comparative religion. Bali, Semiramis, or Eros, Buddha and Cristna had long before the “time” of Jesus suffered crucifixion in like fashion as narrated of him. Moreover Salivahana was again a ninth Avatar. The affirmation was made that the tenth Avatar would come in the form of a white horse. The Hindu Bala Rama, says Higgins, is another cycle of Neros, or Cristna of the Ram sign. Rama was to Cristna what John was to Christ. Rama, he asserts, was known by the names of Menu and Noah. He also points to the striking similarity between Noah and Janus, the Roman god of opening doors, and says their virtual identity has been admitted by every writer upon these subjects. In the Tibetan language, he says, John is called Argiun (Ar-John), and was the coadjutor of Christna. It seems evident that these two are the Tibetan counterparts of the great epic characters in the Mahabarata, Arjuna and Krishna, whose names are not very far in sound and spelling from John and Christ! And the related characters occupy exactly the same or corresponding positions, forerunner or lower way-opener, and following Lord. Even the so-named Fish-Avatar of Vishnu in Berosus’ account of the Chaldean Genesis, Ioannes (Joannes), avers Higgins, was blended with the ninth Avatar. Jesus is called a Fish by Augustine, who says he found the purity of Jesus Christ in the word “fish,” “for he is a fish that lives in the midst of the waters.” Both Jonah and Hercules were swallowed up by the sign of the Fishes, at the very same place, Joppa, and for the same period of three days. (Dupuis, Histoire de Tous Les Cultes, pp. 335, 541.) The sun was called Jona, as appears from Gruter’s inscriptions, says Higgins. Augustine also writes that “Ichthys” (Greek: “Fish”) “is a mystical name of Christ, because he descended alive into the depths of this mortal life, as unto the abyss of waters.” Lundy (Monumental Christianity) says the early Christians drew a fish on the sand as a Lodge sign.
Enoch refers to the shed blood of the crucified elect long before the time of Jesus.
All these identities, correlations, equivalences, can’t be sheer coincidence. When coincidence is a constant element in a hypothetical situation, it is considered proof.