Most eras thought of the Jesus figure through the esoteric tradition, not through the conceptual system of modern literalism and the workaday ordinary state of consciousness.
'Tradition' as promoted by Evola, Schuon, H. Smith, and Nasr, and a few other luminaries of the 'Tradition' theory, endorse something like esoteric allegorical understanding of fields of knowledge. Do they uncritically assume there was a single historical individual who was the necessary kernel for the eventual Jesus figure? Do they promote mysticism, in their promotion of their 'esoteric knowledge'? If so, what is their conception of mysticism or esotericism -- is it founded on the psychological phenomena of the mystic altered state?
All the no-Jesus researchers agree that there was no Jesus; Jesus was instead a matter of esoteric allegory. But that replaces a misunderstanding by an unknown: what are no-Jesus researchers proposing when they propose that the Jesus figure was a matter of "esoteric allegory"? One simple, materialist answer: "it means annual fertility of crops, which filled the simple-minded ancients with great fear and awe and a deep religious sense of dependency.
An equivalent alternative answer: "it means the sun and astrology/cosmology. The ancients really thought astrology was interesting, and useful for crops, navigation, and prediction."
Those meanings *are* very important, but they omit the most essential spirit of the matter. The answers miss a certain essential quality of what astrology/cosmology and fertility *meant*. Those answers are correct as far as they go, which isn't very far, given that they omit mystic-state, psychological experiencing, which ignited these fields and brought them alive, brought them down to earth below, into the heart of the individual psyche. Theorists of 'Tradition' agree with this view to some extent, which I am trying to identify.
Proponents of "Jesus as visionary plant minister" or "Jesus as visionary plant" say their proposed meaning is a better candidate; that it makes more sense to centralize the amanita cap than the sun as real, ultimate, uber-referent of the Jesus figure. There is some truth to that argument, because the visionary plant is closer to psychological phenomena than the sun is, because the plant produces the phenomena.
However, even more central must be the allegorized psychological phenomena themselves -- the *experience* of the sun-like white-light phenomenon in the psyche; the *experience* of spacetime crucifixion in the psyche. Therefore I agree that the sun doctrine could be a revealed secret, but only weakly, and that visionary plants could be a somewhat more hidden and profound secret, but that the ultimate hidden and revealed, most profound secret must be the experiential intense mystic-state phenomena in the individual psyche.
Perhaps the ultimate unveiled and revealed secret is "the kingship of God", meaning specifically that there's no individual free will in the all-fated cosmos.
There are arguments for and against singling out for honors this particular psychological experience/insight, which is always found among an entire set of mystic-state phenomena such as frozen time -- perhaps a better candidate for ultimate revealed knowledge is "no-free-will/no-separate-self" as a compound set of experiential phenomena and transcendent insights.
A strong factor warranting such a singling out of no-free-will as ultimate revelation is the problems of personal control, government, agency, and rulership directly affected by the assumption of "no individual free will in the cosmos" -- this thematic domain permits a strong focus on what could be called "mystic political allegory" such as whether Caesar or Jesus is the son of god, made man, with epiphany of royal visiting of his kingdom, in the flesh.
'Traditional' thinking ties every allegory domain together -- as a spaghetti network? More likely, as a wheel with one domain serving as the common referent, the hub: the classic phenomena and insights encountered in the intense mystic state. This is my theory of allegory domains -- does the theory of 'Tradition' hold the same view, that all allegory domains or domains of knowledge map together, and that just one domain is most central, and that that most central domain is that of the mystic-state phenomena and resulting insights?
Modernistic thinking conceives of Jesus in the most shallow, literalist way possible, including a supernaturalism that is completely superficial and literalist, and projects that way of thinking back onto the earliest Christians and medieval Christendom. But the lecturer Philip Cary awakened me to the esoteric emphasis of Plato, Plotinus (Neo-Platonism), and Pythagoras, and that combined with my growing recognition of the strong mystic esoteric emphasis in medieval Christianity.
This led me to the wildly unexpected hypothesis that all the ancient through medieval groups, clubs, schools, and cults were forms of philosophical-religious initiation schools -- only in the late modern era was this way of thinking lost and forgotten. This view was then emphatically affirmed by the handful of authors writing about 'Tradition', particularly the book:
Knowledge and the Sacred
Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Transcendent Unity of Religions
Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism (Library of Traditional Wisdom Series)
Revolt Against the Modern World
Nasr's book seems to be more readable than Schuon. Then, Ken Wilber's Integral Theory is needed, to recover and bring together the best of 'Tradition' ("integrated" thinking in which religion, philosophy, science, politics are all feverishly munged together) while retaining the benefits of modern, "differentiated" thinking in which science, philosophy, religion, and politics are treated as completely separated, remote, unrelated domains.
'Tradition' in general was heavily influenced by the intense mystic altered state, but it is completely unclear at present the exact *extent* of such experiential influence, including the exact *extent* of visionary plant usage by leading mystics per Dan Merkur, versus the official model of meditation/contemplation.
It's certain that intense mystic-state experiencing was highly influential on Christian thinking, and that visionary plants were a trigger for that experiencing, but the *extent* of each in Christian history (mystic experiencing overall, and specifically plant-induced mystic experiencing) is currently a completely open question. The theorists of 'Tradition' don't seem to put a heavy emphasis on the experiential (intense mystic altered-state) basis of 'Traditional' philosophy-religion-sacred science-gnosis.
Ken Wilber consistently strives to augment his rational theorizing with direct mystic experiencing by advocating "meditation", which he equates with "contemplation" in general as portrayed by the best of conventional Christian mystic studies (as opposed to specifically plant-based meditation per James Arthur or plant-based contemplation per Dan Merkur).
I have to determine whether the theory of 'Tradition' (Nasr, Huston Smith, Schuon) includes an emphasis on mystic-state experiencing in addition to rational or intellectual or "Intellectual" systematic castle-building and lofty-sounding but still inert theorizing. Does 'Traditional' Intellectual activity include a strong component of transcendent intense *experiencing* -- if not, what makes their touted "Intellectual" activity really any different than mere modern "intellectual" activity, lower-cased?
Many schools agree that one doesn't "know" or "understand" the Jesus figure in a truly relevant and important sense unless such knowing and understanding takes place in some sort of elevated mode of consciousness. Some books portray Jesus, Paul, the apostles, and/or Hellenistic religion primarily as a matter of such a "shamanistic" visionary state of consciousness.
Some books repudiate the historicity of Jesus as a single individual person, and advocate a wholly mystic figure -- but here there is an interesting division between models of "mysticism" or especially of the even vaguer concept of "esotericism".
Suppose there was no single individual Historical Jesus figure, but the Jesus figure was, for the best of the pre-moderns, a wholly allegorical "esoteric" figure. What does such "esotericism" amount to, specifically? Here, the explanations fail to converge -- though the situation isn't as extremely divergent as the embarrassing plethora of proposed versions of the Historical Jesus; there may be more uniformity regarding the nature of esotericism than about the life of the historical Jesus.
Consider the permutations of combinations of various Historical Jesus theories with various models of esotericism:
o Was there a single historical Jesus as the kernel for the later compound Jesus figure? [yes or no]
o Was Jesus, or the Jesus figure, primarily -- or very importantly -- an esoteric mystic? [yes or no]
o Is esotericism-mysticism (or per Schuon, 'Tradition') predominantly a matter of one or more episodes of an intense mystic altered state of consciousness? [yes or no]
o If esotericism/mysticism is a function of mystic state of consciousness, is this state produced most classically by contemplation/meditation, or by visionary plants? [contemplation or plants] -- This is the amusing question among supposedly radical theorists, separating the men from the boys, of whether Jesus *used* visionary plants, or whether Jesus *was* visionary plants (among other themes).
Various authors and books propose various combinations of answers to these questions, forming various scenarios or worldviews. (My view is: no, yes, yes, plants.)
I want to update the
Taxonomy of Christ Views
to reflect the key differing positions about the *nature of* esotericism/mysticism/'Tradition'.
Acharya's "Jesus as sun" theory portrays a generally simple and straightforward model of godmen as astrotheology symbols, comparable to the basic simplicity and materialist, non-psychological, relatively literalist symbolism of the "annual fertility cycle" model of mystery-religions. Actually, the Jesus figure meant various non-psychological referents *and*, more profoundly, psychological referents as well.
It is contrary to ancient thinking or 'Tradition', a contraction in terms, to say that the Jesus figure did not symbolize psychological altered-state mystic phenomena, but symbolized the sun. For the ancients, Jesus symbolized the sun, but the sun in turn symbolized psychological altered-state mystic phenomena, such as white-light perceptual feedback, a classic and universal phenomenon of the mystic altered state.
"The sun shines on everyone" -- esoterically, that means that every mystic potentially experiences white light. 'Tradition' swirls this way, always returning to connect each allegorical symbol-domain to the highest common denominator, which is the phenomena of the mystic altered state.
Jesus meant the sun, for some percentage of ancient esotericists, and Jesus meant the amanita cap, for some percentage, and the sun meant the underside of the amanita cap, and everything meant everything to some extent... but finally and ultimately, these mean mystic-state phenomena, such as the white-light experience. The best of esoteric thinking reserves a central role for psychological mystic experiencing, as ultimate uber-referent.
Every "Jesus as X" model is correct, as *part* of the meaning-system constituting the Jesus figure -- but is there a center, a peak, a core? A strong candidate is the phenomena of the mystic state, such as white light and the overwhelmingly *felt* psychobody sensation of being timelessly frozen or "crucified" in spacetime.
The Jesus figure was designed to mean as many valued things as possible, but the mystic-state psychological phenomena surely deserve the place of honor as the central, highest, and deepest allegory-domain, while the mere literal sun or the mere literal ruler considered as profane desacralized functionary, is but base material to be connected into the system of allegory.
Schuonesque 'Tradition' (esoteric/mystic allegory-based thinking) doesn't care much about the literal sun or a ruler as desacralized functionary; those are almost incidental. The sun is only to be considered divine and sacred insofar as it is considered as participant in allegorical conception, and allegorical conception is all centered around and inspired by psychological phenomena of the mystic altered state.
Naturally, modern Tradition-bereft thinking tends to assemble an oxymoronic combination such as "esoteric philosophy" where the term 'philosophy' is thought of as modern isolated desacralized rationalist "philosophy" -- "low philosophy" as opposed to "high philosophy", high religion, high science, etc. So the confused expression "esoteric philosophy", when spoken by a modern, ends up meaning "high low-philosophy", or "sacred desacralized-philosophy".
We moderns have isolated, compartmentalized, and debased versions of 'philosophy', 'religion', and 'science', whereas the ancients and medievals (nonmoderns) tended to have more like one thing that could be called 'Philosophy', 'Religion', 'Science', 'Wisdom'. Modernity has not 'Wisdom', and hardly even 'wisdom' in the lower-case version.
Such 'Traditional' thought-systems were so firmly established that possibly only a modicum of scattered instances of intense mystic-state experiencing were required to keep such thinking in place. Eventually, for reasons speculated in these books about 'Tradition', modern, rational, reductionist, uninspired thinking as opposed to ancient/'Traditional' venerable "intellectual" thinking fully took over (resisted by Romanticism, but finally overcome in the mid 20th Century).
I don't know what the 'Tradition' theory proposes about the earlier presence or later loss of mystic consciousness as an "altered state of consciousness". I propose that the loss of access to the intense mystic altered state occurred as part of the loss of 'Traditional' thinking. 'Traditional' thinking is visionary, mystic, experiential, allegorical, inspired, mythic.
It's hard to reconcile Ken Wilber's "stages of collective progressive evolution of consciousness" view with the Schuon/Nasr/Huston Smith/Evola 'Tradition' hypothesis, which holds that modern thinking is spiritually degenerated compared to previous 'Traditional' thinking.
Wilber's characterization of "mythic thinking" fails to appreciate the full presence of gnostic esoteric enlightenment routinely present in Hellenistic initiation. Wilber fails to grasp the nature of Hellenistic religion-philosophy, particularly the initiation and mystic-experiencing aspect; he understands the concepts of Plotinus' neo-Platonist theorizing and assumes that Plotinus is an advocate of meditation/contemplation rather than initiation.
Wilber literally has no theory or commentary on Hellenistic mystery-religion initiation; his complex schemes are evidently blind to this topic, implying that this topic breaks his paradigm of the progressive evolution of collective psychospiritual consciousness. He has no index entry for 'initiation'. His treatment of Jesus and (non-treatment of) Hellenistic mystery-religion in Up From Eden is completely weak and amateurish, the opposite of Wilber's normally high quality.
Themes needing more emphasis are the experiential encounter with fatedness/Necessity, intense mystic *experiencing*, Jesus and the cross as descriptive template of specific mystic initiation experiences, the psychological nature of these experiences -- they are intense experiences that can be externally portrayed/enacted, but are essentially matters of internal, individual, visionary, psychological, dynamic phenomena.
The Jesus figure as seen through 'Tradition' is naturally more esoteric, mystical, and meaning-centered, rather than modern literal liberal or modern literal supernaturalist. If we assert that Jesus wasn't a single historical figure serving as a kernel for later mythic accretions, we have yet to comprehend how the ancients (or pre-moderns altogether) thought of the Jesus figure.
The best of the ancients thought of the Jesus figure in a 'Traditional' way; that is, a 'perennial philosophy', allegorical, mystic-experiential, mythically emphasized way.
Ken Wilber is largely concerned to refute the view that ancient thinking was superior to modern thinking, being closer to some unity consciousness before the Fall in Eden. Wilber strives to portray stages of progress in collective thinking through history; he appears to accuse the 'Tradition' theorists such as Nasr of committing the "pre-trans fallacy" of mistakenly portraying ancient pre-egoic thinking as highly evolved trans-egoic (transcendent) thinking.
Wilber has by now put forth so many views, we can use Wilber to correct Wilber: in fact, some aspects of pre-modern thinking *were* superior to modern thinking and commonly informed by higher, mystic consciousness beyond the reach of modern ordinary-state consciousness.
A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality
Per Wilber's later, more complex and subtle and qualified Integral Theory, we ought to selectively take those aspects of pre-modern thought -- some of which *were* transcendent above some aspects of modern egoic consciousness/thinking -- and combine them with the best and most healthy and precious of modern thinking, such as respect for individual freedom and personal responsible agency.
This does not mean wholly rolling back the clock and reverting from modernity to antiquated thinking, as Evola or Islam or fundamentalism might sometimes call for. It means selectively recovering the esoteric initiation allegorical visionary aspects of 'Traditional' thinking, while retaining the benefits of modern thinking.
Scholars should recover the mystic-initiation experiential meaning of the Jesus figure while rejecting the hypothesis that there was a single historical individual who was the kernel for the Jesus figure -- while retaining all possible benefits of the Jesus figure for modernity. Some aspects of modern individualism may be supported by some aspects of the Jesus figure: these aspects should be retained while discarding the assumption of a single underlying historical Jesus figure.
This approach is surely more profitable than another futile hundred years of flogging the horse of harmful literalist, official Christianity, and is more likely to convince people to repudiate the literalist historical Jesus assumption. Lecturing about the harms of Christianity leads from an empty, false version of Christianity, to an empty, false version of atheism.
Recovering the esoteric understanding of the Jesus figure is a viable strategy for comprehending the ancients and overthrowing the false, debased official version of Christianity.
Scorched-earth debunking of Christianity, without gaining a comprehension of the original, esoteric meaning of the Jesus figure, has accomplished *something*; it is *some* movement toward truth, relative to the worst of supernaturalist literalist Christianity, but exoteric religion remains a threat as long as we fail to recover and make available true religion, which is the best aspects of 'Traditional' high philosophy, high religion, high science -- what Freke & Gandy call 'Gnosticism' in the general sense as opposed to 'Literalism'.
The lie is that there was a single historical Jesus figure.
The scorched-earth modern atheists (Doherty, Acharya) then claim that the truth is, there was no single historical Jesus figure, and that therefore Christianity is altogether false, lies, untruth -- that is a story as simple as literalist Christian thinking itself, and is somewhat popular, as a permanent shadow part of the debased literalist form of Christian thinking.
Such simplistic wholesale negation of "Christianity" can be seen as an inherent limb of literalist Christianity, rather than something that actually stands to seriously oppose Christianity. The simplistic wholesale negation of Christianity is not worth calling "the truth" about the Jesus figure.
There is another, better, and more viable candidate for "the truth about Jesus", that is a deeper and more serious threat to literalist Christianity: the positive, definite, content-filled mystic-experiencing and esoteric-gnosis Jesus described by Freke & Gandy in one version in the book "Jesus and the Goddess" -- a way of thinking about the Jesus figure that accords with the 'Tradition' model identified by Nasr and Huston Smith and Schuon, although I suppose that like Wilber, these 'Tradition' theorists uncritically assume there was a single historical Jesus who was the kernel for the later Jesus figure with all its accumulating heap of mythic accretions.
'Heresy', in the sense of 'true esoteric mystic religion' -- is a much more serious threat and viable alternative to literalist Christianity than is mere atheism. Atheism (defined as being oblivious to esoteric mystic insight and experiencing), while attaining a certain level of popularity, doesn't threaten the very heart of literalist Christianity, unlike the perennial Philosophy, which beats Christianity at its own game, on the field of religion or transcendent experiencing and transcendent knowledge.
We do not need to lose the benefits of modern consciousness, values, and conventions, when recovering the 'Tradition' of esoteric mystic insight and experiencing.
>No good will come from associating this research project of developing a cybernetic self-control theory of ego transcendence with 'Tradition' as promoted by Evola, Schuon, H. Smith, and Nasr, and other luminaries of the 'Tradition' theory since they do not have a defensible or useful account of what is "esoteric" and what is "exoteric," merely using the terms to promote their own prejudices in disguise.
>>Do they uncritically assume there was a single historical individual who was the necessary kernel for the eventual Jesus figure?
>Yes, along with any other archaic historical view you choose. Actually, Traditionalists don't "sully" their minds or pages with many historical "facts" at all, even when surveying "the modern world." Ever notice that neither Guenon nor Schuon ever quotes a living contemporary author---ever?
I've read Smith, and some of Nasr's least Sufi-emphasizing book. I learned of 'esoteric/exoteric' through Wilber and others -- I would like to read Wilber's take on the theory of 'tradition' as well as on the 'esoteric/exoteric' distinction . I have read little Schuon or Guenon. I have noticed them being hard to pin down on just what the heck their touted 'initiation' model is, or how *specifically* one enters their touted superior mode of thought that is superior to ratiocination.
I've been surveying esoteric studies to look for the percentage emphasis on *experience*. The first thing to note is that every writing uses different terminology and characterizations of what I call 'the intense mystic altered state of consciousness', which I technically characterize as 'loose cognition' or 'loose cognitive association binding of mental construct association matrixes'.
Synonyms include: experience, gnosis, intuition, feeling, active imagination, visualization, vision-logic, and many other wide-ranging wordings, contrasted against what's far clearer, purely rational knowledge or ordinary ratiocination (the mode of thinking characteristic of the ordinary state of consciousness).
Although the verbal formulations vary for the mystic state, all writers about transcendent knowledge agree that there are basically two types of cognition: ordinary, familiar reasoning, and elevated, rarer, non-ordinary mental activity. Some talk of levels of consciousness, but the basic distinction remains, between ordinary and nonordinary thinking.
There is full agreement in the conception of the ordinary mode of thinking, but the conception of nonordinary thinking is much more vague and diverse. Most books give heavy lip service to nonordinary thinking in that they greatly praise it, but are completely vague about how it comes about, and they often give it great praise but then launch into a thousand pages of ordinary-state description of complex esoteric symbolic systems, never returning to the topic of nonordinary experiencing.
>>what is their conception of mysticism or esotericism -- is it founded on the psychological phenomena of the mystic altered state?
>"What's the point of "secret" knowledge if it only told you what you could find out using reason and evidence?"
Deliberate secrecy indicates ignorance, confusion, and/or deception. There is no reason or justification for deliberate secrecy about the mystic state or the principles it reveals, other than sociopolitical battles.
Higher knowledge is naturally hidden in the mind until exposed and revealed through the intense mystic altered state. Given this important, essential area of experience or observational data, reason and evidence are fully relevant to learning from the mystic state, understanding the mystic state, and understanding transcendent knowledge.
The only really significant secret is simply this, the core of the theory I'm systematizing:
Taking visionary plants loosens cognitive associations, leading to experiential insights, causing the mental worldmodel to switch to a no-free-will/no-separate-self model.
>The idea that esoteric schools, and even the knowledge that they existed, were both lost in the rise of modern thought, is that's a long way from the full-blown Traditionalist idea of Yugas and world-ages, and the inevitable degeneration of mankind by race-mixing and women's lib, the need for a Strong Man to rise and take power and save us from the curse of democracy, and so on.
>Why try to open that whole can of worms? (See David Fideler: René Guénon and the Signs of Our Times: A Critical Appraisal of The Reign of Quantity." Gnosis 7 (Spring 1988))
I read that issue
this weekend and studied the theory of 'tradition'. Your comments fit with what I learned. We should value the moderate, reasonable model of 'tradition', toward the end of the spectrum represented by Huston Smith, and implied by the best aspects of Nasr's least-Sufi book Knowledge and the Sacred. Among the theorists of 'tradition', the extreme view predominates: the extreme, unreasonable model of 'tradition' lacks balance, nuance, and qualification.
The theory of 'tradition' does contribute *some* valuable points, as stated in Gnosis #7. One must be highly selective, as Wilber would advocate when he describes his basic stategy as every theory is correct, when appropriately qualified and fit together.
>>Once you use Ken Wilber to get rid of all that's wrong with the 'Traditionalist' theory, you're left with Ken Wilber's theory -- not with what's known as 'Tradition'.
>>Does 'Traditional' Intellectual activity include a strong component of transcendent intense *experiencing* -- if not, what makes their touted "Intellectual" activity really any different than mere modern "intellectual" activity, lower-cased?
>"modern intellectual activity" uses reason and evidence. "Traditional intellectual activity" as exemplified by Schuon and Co. uses ad hoc hypotheses, abuse and ostracism to enshrine his personal views as "Tradition." As for "intense experiencing," don't count on it. Certainly no drugs.
>to illustrate the process of Traditionalist esoteric thought, one fact you won't glean from [advocates] is that Guenon and Schuon became bitter enemies, falling out over the question of whether Catholicism was still a "valid initiation" ... Guenon said yes, Schuon no. This was all done by intellectual intuition, of course, and had nothing to do with Guenon being a French Catholic, Schuon a German Protestant who had just founded his own, really-valid, only possible valid Sufi sect. And yet they disagreed? Obviously, then, one must be the Devil, and so mutual anathemas ensued.
What the heck *is* their "initiation" model? What exactly *is* initiation, per their theory? My model of authentic, classic esoteric initiation is clear and simple, explicit and directly expressed and summarizable: the teaching of perennial principles, in conjunction with a series of visionary-plant sessions. If their model disagrees with mine, then what exactly is their model? Here, such scholars are never forthcoming, or else, when pressed, the best they come up with is visualization and meditation.
If asked how visualization and meditation could be key methods of access to the purported lofty mode of cognition beyond ordinary-state ratiocination, when visualization and meditation (and Jungian so-called "active imagination") are obviously so little effective, the mumbling 'tradition' advocates will say that you're not doing it right, and need to hire a professional spiritual teacher for a long time.
>>I propose that the loss of access to the intense mystic altered state occurred as part of the loss of 'Traditional' thinking. 'Traditional' thinking is visionary, mystic, experiential, allegorical, inspired, mythic.
>Really, the only connection between your research project and the Traditionalists is a sort of vague analogy. Both of you propose that, as David Lynch might say, "religious traditions are not what they seem."
>You propose that religions were originally, essentially, about psychoactive experiences.
Yes. And to some extent, among some practitioners and mystic theologians, these religions in later eras were also about and derived from psychoactive experiences, but the entheogenic aspect was suppressed in the official histories.
>This was initially hidden, and presented only in code;
In many cases the entheogenic basis of religion was hidden and encoded, to some extent, in early times. Estimating the extent requires further research. Some icons we still have portray visionary plants more or less explicitly, such as a literal Amanita cap halo.
>later, the secret was lost or suppressed,
"... to some extent"! This is where recent entheogen scholarship is headed, whether deliberately or not: as we scour for more clues, we find them in many eras, many religions, many groups of people. It's all a matter of degree -- just as simplistic 'tradition' theorists talk of esoteric knowledge being entirely lost in modernity -- though the 20th century provided excellent access to esoteric knowledge, in many ways.
Beware of the simplistic division into temporally early presence of entheogens and temporally late absense of entheogens. Entheogens have always been present, informing the religions, in certain ways and to some extent, even in the 1700s in the U.S. Try pointing to a culture that knows not entheogens -- it can't be done.
Even if modernity is a low point of awareness of entheogens, look at how entheogens were highly influential in the Boomer-era religious revolution. Entheogen scholarship covering all eras is a growth industry; there is a scholarly gold rush, such as Entheos journal.
>and the code continued on, either as a deliberate deception, or because most people are stupid enough to believe it literally anyway. To that extent you are suggesting that there is an esoteric core to religious traditions, essentially the same in each, that has always been hidden and is today mostly lost.
There is an esoteric core to religious traditions, essentially the same in each, that has typically been largely hidden, and was mostly or largely lost during late modernity.
>However, you have entirely different ideas compared to 'tradition' theorists about what the esoteric core was (drugs, vs, at best, some sort of meditation, contemplation, or Jungian "active imagination", which you consider mostly a placebo), why it was hidden, why it was lost, who has the secret now (science and stoners,
The esoteric core is not drugs; it is drugs integrated with study of the perennial philosophy. In particular, the esoteric core of religion and philosophy is the use of visionary plants (or chemicals) to loosen cognition, gain experiential insight of no-free-will/no-separate-self, and eventually form and retain the mental worldmodel based on the assumptions and experiential observations of no-free-will/no-separate-self.
To a large extent, Science immediately saw the good sense in the entheogen theory, ever since that theory was formulated. Computer science is strongly entheogen-influenced. However, this demonstrates the relation between de facto use of entheogens (and entheogen-positive views) on the part of individuals, versus the official stance of fields or industries: don't expect any official statements on the part of Science or Computer Science that entheogens are of greatest relevance.
It's not yet the view of Science that religion is essentially entheogen-derived. That's a likely conclusion as entheogen scholarship continues. Consider the various motives Science has to portray religion as entheogen-derived or as not entheogen-derived.
>vs. the most reactionary elements of The Roman Church), what to do about it (testable hypotheses vs. Schuonisn dogma)
We can rely on testable hypotheses. Far more than enough tests have been run, so many that no one disputes that entheogens are far more effective than meditation, contemplation, visualization, or "active imagination", at inducing the intense mystic altered state. People strive to spin this fact one way or another, but the fact is not disputed.
>No real purpose is served by calling the Hellenistic culture-amalgam "Tradition" and then switching between this meaning and what Traditionalists are talking about when they say that "Tradition (revealed by Schuon)has been lost" etc.
The 'tradition' theorists have adopted and trainwrecked the term 'tradition', restricting and narrowing its usefulness about as much as the term 'psychedelic'.
>>Recovering the esoteric understanding of the Jesus figure [especially an esoteric-only understanding, not the confused standard combining of esoteric *and* literalist readings] is a viable strategy for comprehending the ancients and overthrowing the false, debased official version of Christianity.
>This would involve entheogenic experiences, theorizing thereon, and popularization thereof, not accepting the empty dogmas that make up "Tradition". ... Once again, we see the clear choice: Gnosticism, entheogens, Integral Theory, history, science, reason...or Traditionalism!
Integral Theory, and Ken Wilber's theorizing in general, is generally right and good. He omits covering the mystery-religion initiations, has no treatment of no-free-will, and buys into Psychology far too much. Psychology speculated too many hypothetical constructs, while assuming ordinary state of consciousness too much and the mystic altered state of consciousness far too little.
Mystery-religion initiation and entheogens break much of Wilber's theorizing about the collective development of consciousness. The first thing to say about ancient consciousness was that it was entheogenic -- that's a concrete, specific assertion, unlike the so-typical hazy, abstruse, and ill-grounded speculations of Psychology about dreams, collective unconscious, superego, repression, and so on.
It's a matter of a compact, specific model, versus other bloated, foggy, vague models. I say enlightenment is the use of visionary plants to loosen cognitive associations to transform to a mental worldmodel based on the axioms and experiencing of no-free-will/no-separate-self . What do the other theorists say enlightenment is, or what mystic consciousness amounts to? Can they specify and summarize their views? They are evasive and vague.
Fortunately, there are some books now that selectively combine aspects of Psychology, minus some of the more arbitrary constructs, and the intense mystic altered state, such as:
The Unfolding Self: Varieties of Transformative Experience [metaphors for transcendent experiencing]
We can anticipate that more books on various subjects will properly emphasize the phenomena of the entheogen-triggered intense mystic altered state, rather than committing the ordinary-state of consciousness fallacy, such as incorrectly emphasizing that myth means vegetative fertility or literal cosmology or items from the collective unconscious or from repressed libido.
Researchers must have a much better and more adequate understanding of esoteric Hellenistic religion, including early esoteric Christianity, to persuade people of the no-Historical Jesus theory.
Atheist anti-Christianity is the same as official Christianity on the key issue of the history of esoteric Christianity.
It's a standard atheist anti-Christianity move that should end, treating Christianity as a single thing lasting 2000 years, without giving special treatment to the early "gnostic" phase (which continued in various esoteric unofficial versions of Christianity). More discerning, serious, and valuable is a study of the history of the harms of exoteric Christianity, together with a study of the history of esoteric Christianity.
Per Freke & Gandy, the esoteric/exoteric divide is a key distinction in retelling the history of Christianity. A history that collapses esoteric Christianity into exoteric and thereby loses and disposes of esoteric Christianity cannot tell a plausible and coherent story. The history of Christianity is largely the history of the conflict between esoteric religion (including esoteric Christianity) and exoteric Christianity.
By treating all of Christian history as the history of exoteric Christianity, an unconvincing cartoon portrayal is put forth as the "solution", "debunking", or "alternative" to the official unconvincing cartoon portrayal. 1-dimensional and grossly incomplete history that omits the most compelling and authentic version of Christianity cannot accomplish its goals, but only ends up reinforcing conventional Christianity.
Conventional exoteric-only atheist scholarship does nothing but reinforce official exoteric Christianity. Official Christendom thrives due to the shallowness of the supposed "alternative" put forth by conventional atheist scholarship, which is nothing but the reflection of the worst and emptiest version of Christianity. Shallow literalist anti-Christianity and shallow literalist Christianity make each other thrive; they are two halves of the same thing.
Atheist anti-Christianity and its telling of history is the same thing as official Christianity; they tell essentially the same story with different details emphasized. In practice, the worst form of Christianity and the worst form of debunking, atheist, anti-Christianity are in full agreement about the most important thing: "pay no attention to esoteric religion and esoteric Christianity".
Doherty and Acharya mention early esoteric Christianity and esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy in a minimalist, utilitarian way. The flavor of their portrayal is that "Christianity is completely bunk and false, being nothing more than a distortion of esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy." But one cannot be said to understand the origin of Christianity with such a failure to deeply study and grasp the essence of esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy.
Saying that Christianity is merely a distortion of esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy, without going into an adequate and compelling study of esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy, amounts to only half a history. They've effectively said that Christianity is not literally true but is instead some vague X, where X is a casually and dismissively treated esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy -- just a carelessly and shallowly treated esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy.
In contrast, Freke & Gandy take seriously esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy and seek to show why it was compelling enough to provide an alternative explanation of the formation of Christianity. If people can't recognize the huge contrast between the treatment of Doherty versus Freke & Gandy, then a key, major dimension of early Christian history is being omitted and no convincing alterative history can result. Acharya falls somewhere in between Doherty and Freke & Gandy.
She's gone into some detail portraying esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy as being astrotheology. Freke & Gandy go further into the esoteric Hellenistic version of Christianity, portraying esoteric early Christianity in an average standardized gnostic form, resulting in a picture that has only a minor overlap with Acharya; they don't portray Jesus as simply the sun in astrotheology.
People should study the disagreement between Doherty, Acharya, and Freke & Gandy regarding the nature of esoteric Christianity. The no-Jesus scholars agree in the negative half of the historical revisionist research: early Christianity was not exoteric, but was esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy. They tell the same story and support each other, as far as that goes.
Where the no-Jesus theory collapses is that there is no agreed-upon story serving as a convincing alternative, of what such an "esoteric Hellenistic religion-philosophy" type of Christianity positively amounted to or involved. "Christianity wasn't about literalist exoteric Jesus; it was actually about X" -- but there is no shared conception of what X amounted to, thus the no-Jesus revisionist history is a failure; it fails to convince, lacking a clear and agreed-upon story of what early Christianity positively did mean, as an alternative to the official literalist exoteric story of what it meant.
The literalist atheist project of exposing the 2000 years of criminal deceit based on a nonexistent Jesus is an entirely different project than understanding and explaining the actual, alternative version of the initial formation of Christianity.
The purely negative expose approach effectively offers a false and unconvincing story because it writes out of history the most important, alternative version or mode of Christianity, esoteric Christianity, which was the original compelling form of Christianity and which later was in constant opposition with official exoteric Christianity.
We've had a hundred years of purely negative expose of Christian history, and it has accomplished nothing but reinforcing and helping out the worst type of Christianity, by falsely asserting that the only alternative to literalist exoteric Christianity is shallow, literalist, unfulfilling exoteric atheism.
Atheist blindness and ignorance of esoteric religion does nothing but bolster the emptiest form of received-view Christianity, because both have reached a steady-state agreement that there are only two possibilities to consider: literalist exoteric religion, and modern ordinary-state atheist rationality.
That false restriction to two unappealing choices causes people in a Christian culture to choose literalist exoteric Christianity, because modern ordinary-state atheist rationality lacks appeal and is unfulfilling to many, and according to the atheist anti-Christians and the literalist Christians, there are only these two possibilities. Bad atheism thus supports bad Christianity; the two are bedfellows.
Atheist negative revisionist history accomplishes nothing but a reinforcement of literalist Christianity: not only does such atheist scholarship pose no threat to received-view Christianity, such atheist scholarship actively reinforces received-view Christianity to the extent that such an atheist worldview is unfulfilling and poses itself as the only possible alternative to the literalist Christian worldview.
The solution to this deadlock of mutually reinforcing false dichotomy is to recover in full detail the history of esoteric religion, including the history of the original esoteric version of Christianity and its Jesus figure.
Doherty doesn't even try to recover such an understanding, Acharya tries but reduces Hellenistic esotericism to an essentially literalist astrotheology (unlike the more complex portrayal of esoteric early Christianity in "Jesus Christ, Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism" by David Fideler), and only Freke & Gandy make much significant progress into understanding and revealing the experiential initiation basis of Hellenistic/Gnostic religion-myth-philosophy.
Doherty doesn't disagree with Acharya or Freke & Gandy on the nature of esoteric Hellenism; he just doesn't go into any detail at all. As soon as Acharya and Freke & Gandy go into positive detail of the nature and content of esoteric Hellenism, the no-Jesus research falls to pieces in disagreement: there is little agreement, just minor overlap, between the "original esoteric meaning of Jesus" as portrayed by Acharya versus by Freke & Gandy; they agree that astrotheology is involved, but Acharya limits the meaning to that and does so in a remarkably literalist way, where Jesus is a symbol representing the literal sun.
Per Freke & Gandy, mystic altered state experience was woven into the study of the subject matter studied by the gnostic esotericists, and the sun is itself merely a symbol pointing to something else, something properly considered to be in the realm of high spiritual psychology rather than in the physical realm of outer space. Acharya puts forth materialist symbolism (Jesus = the sun) and incorrectly labels it "esotericism", thus missing the compelling essence.
She portrays literalist astrology as religiously compelling, but such a conception of astrology and religion falls well short of a convincing, adequate explanation.
Doherty doesn't try to explain the positive content of esoteric Christianity, and therefore doesn't fail either; Acharya tries and fails to penetrate to the inner essence of esoteric religion; Freke and Gandy try and succeed -- their model and type of approach to positive explanation of esoteric Christianity and its original versions of the Jesus figure is the right model to develop; it has the right, compelling spirit, grasping basically and essentially what the esoteric Jesus meant and amounted to in earliest Christianity.
In the negative phase of the no-Jesus research project, all three agree on their history; in the positive phase which is forming an alternative conception of the earliest Jesus, Doherty is mute and would accomplish his goals by integrating the esoteric comprehension of Freke & Gandy, while Acharya would accomplish her goals by amplifying and integrating her treatment of mystic altered state experiencing in line with Freke & Gandy, and by taking a less literalist view of astrology as being itself but a symbolic allegorization of psychological revelations and events, and by broadening her understanding of the range of Hellenistic esoteric themes beyond just astrotheology.
Acharya's work in astrotheology might provide some details lacking in Freke & Gandy, but ultimately both thematic domains are needed, as allusions to mystic-state psychological insights and experiences: astrotheology from Acharya and gnostic allegory from Freke & Gandy; we need more multiplicity of thematic domains, all mapped to mystic-state psychological insights and experiences as well as treated in more literalist isolation.
Insofar as the task is an alternative history of the formation of early Christianity, these domains must include not only astrotheology, not only sociopolitical rebellion and anti-Caesar cult, not only gnostic themes, but all these thematic domains and others from the Hellenistic super-syncretistic era, interpenetrating.
Jesus Christ, Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism
Knowledge and the Sacred
Seyyed Hossein Nasr
The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God?: How the Pagan Mysteries of Osiris-Dionysus Were Rewritten as the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy
The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus
Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians
Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy
Encyclopedia of Spirituality: Essential Teachings to Transform Your Life
The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold
The Dark Side of Christian History
There was no heated on-going battle regarding the existence of Jesus, because everyone believed the same thing about Jesus. But the latter assertion is ambiguous: did everyone believe that Jesus was a historical figure, or that he was not a historical figure? The latter is the case, as argued in van Eysinga's 1930 book "Does Jesus Live, or Has He Only Lived?", which focuses on this very point.
Does Jesus Live, or Has He Only Lived? A Study of the Doctrine of Historicity
van den Bergh van Eysinga
There was no debate about the historicity of Jesus in the modern sense, because no one in early Christianity actually held the view that Jesus was historical in the modern sense.
The mythic-Jesus readership mob is allergic and close-minded to positively reconceiving Christianity, even if the books supposedly being discussed propose a positive alternative version of Christianity that needs to be discussed and would help overthrow the bunk, received *version* of Christianity.
Because of the popular refusal to discuss or acknowledge the proposed positive alternative views of ancient initiation religion, the current received version of Christianity remains in place as seemingly the only possible version.
The mob of readers wants nothing to do with any version of Christianity; they will accept nothing less than the blunt and simplistic rejection of "Christianity" as though it were as simple and monolithic as their own type of thinking. Ironically, when studying the history of Christianity, it turns out to be far more diverse and multiple and flexible than the single, crayon-drawn monolithic Christianity that the mob of readers is so eager to stop.
When posting ideas or submitting them for publishing, you can be banished for having or publically expressing the wrong attitude. Censors are upset when a radical scholar absolutely, extremely, point-blank, and unapologetically counters the anti-entheogen and entheogen-diminishing views which prevail in published works.
Most publishers are ignorantly confident/smug that their own disdain for entheogens is the securely held majority view, as when an interviewer of programmers pooh-poohed the view that the personal computer revolution is based on entheogens -- when she did a survey, it turned out to be strongly true, that programmers are strongly entheogen-positive. Then the publisher quickly realizes their mistake on that point, finding that they hold the minority view.
Several mythic-Jesus scholars are strongly entheogen-positive, even if most publishers would automatically and reactively strip out that view and assume that their authors don't hold the view.
The reason you don't see intelligent and *firm* defenses of entheogens in public spirituality discussion is censorship. If you damn entheogens with faint praise, you will be published. If you firmly defend and advocate visionary plants, highlighting the best of their potential, identifying them as the main classic foundation and source of religion, you will be censored, even if your views match those held by an important figure on the board of directors.
Most readership of the mythic-Jesus books isn't so much interested in positively studying the authors' views, as broad-brush religion-bashing.
It's an important subject, censorship about entheogens. It can lead people to rethink their anti-entheogen or entheogen-diminishing views.
A person can be censored and banned for expressing firmly entheogen-positive views in supposedly "radical" groups such as JesusMysteries or Christ_Conspiracy -- even though the authors of those books hold and have published firmly entheogen-positive views. These Jesus-debunking discussion groups also tend to be allergic to serious investigation of Greco-Roman initiation religions, although the subject is obviously squarely on-topic.
This is because the readership and moderators are less elevated and less widely read than the authors. The readership, being attracted mainly for the purpose of Christianity-bashing or defending the historical Jesus assumption, is generally unaware of the authors' published respect for views such as those of John Allegro -- the entheogen theory of religion.
They consider it off-topic, and it *is* off-topic, for their own motives for reading and discussing the work -- but mysticism and entheogens are technically on-topic, according to the stated discussion-group charters.
Each posting should show the desire to connect one's ideas to the work of the author. People object to posting substantial material that is beyond the grasp of most of the readership, or doesn't match the actual motives of the readership (only partly aligned with the official charter of the group).
People are shocked and feel it's off-topic when someone stands their ground on entheogen-positive attitude, against the personal views of the group members and even moderators, who are often less than fully familiar with the book being discussed, and related subjects. Most moderators and group members are not as widely read as the authors of the mythic-Jesus scholars. Their motives and scope of knowledge are smaller.
The authors read widely and are interested in positively understanding the ancient mysteries, including their entheogen basis. The readership is less widely read, is interested in negatively debunking Christianity (as though literalist Christianity were the only type possible, and religion in general has no more to contribute), and is wholly uninterested in positively understanding the ancient mysteries and their entheogen basis.
Even if you make contributions to studying these authors' work, you can be turned away. Good moderators ought to shape the participation of serious members, not just banish with a knee-jerk reaction. The moderators should shape a serious participant into a valuable contributor. But the fact is, these discussion groups are not for what they claim to be for.
They are actually for short posts bashing Christianity and for socializing, not for serious discussion of the authors' work overall. If the discussion groups were for the latter, the moderators would develop serious members as contributors, including members who have developed ideas. That's the real catch-22 for the moderators -- the group's charter is self-deceit, not really reflecting the actual scope and motives of the group.
Even substantial progress in studying the author's work is not perceived, if it doesn't fit with the group's actual motives and concerns -- even if each posting technically matches the charter.
You'd think that contributors who have a highly developed position and published work and their own discussion areas would be welcome (and developed by the moderators) as long as each posting demonstrates the effort to move the study of the author's work forward. But it's questionable whether the groups actually are interested in moving the study of the author's overall work forward. The readership has narrower motives and interests than the stated charter.
Most mythic-Jesus books are technically not about Christianity-bashing, but about the re-understanding of Christianity. Technically, relevant postings are those which re-understand Christianity and focus on the authors' work even if other perspectives are brought into the mix. Many of the acceptable postings are off-topic, and many unacceptable postings are technically on-topic, though not popular with the readership.
It would be nice to take the charter seriously and post as though conversing with the author, but there is such a difference between the author's world and the readership's world, that even the authors of mythic-Christ books have been essentially banned from such discussion groups, which doesn't really want to talk about the authors' whole work -- they just want to bash Christianity or defend the historical Jesus, narrowing the scope of "acceptable" discussion.
It's a judgement call whether discussion of ancient mystic practices are "acceptable" in a discussion group, even if they are on-topic and move research forward and even help understand the origin of the Jesus figure. The published charter goes out the window, and the narrowing mobs and their "advocates", the moderators, fly by gut, knee-jerk reaction, even if such assessment of what constitutes an on-topic posting technically stands on weak ground.
When shaping your postings, take the published charter with a huge grain of salt; remember that what really matters is not the grand view of the books under discussion, but rather, the narrow concerns of the mob. You have to write your own virtual charter based on the posts that are approved and popular, and use that to guide your posted writing.
Many who discover that Christ is not a single historical figure *think* that they have been saved from literalism, but have instead merely switched from one literalist worldview to another -- like a book about Islam by a literalist Muslim who "converted" to literalist Christianity (no conversion at all, really). Negatively debunking Jesus is only half the work at hand; the work of positively re-understanding Christianity is the remaining half of the work at hand.
It is a matter of debate what is entailed in positively re-understanding Christianity, and the authors have made a good stab at it, a good start. But woe to the post'er who foolishly attempts to investigate this positive half of the mythic-Jesus revisionist authors. It's clear to the clear-thinking, broadly-read authors, how crucial the positive half is, the work of positively re-understanding Christianity. Negating one version is easiest if you have another version to replace it with.
Most mythic-Jesus scholars believe there is some positive worth hidden behind the Christian myth-religion. Doherty, however, seems to completely de-emphasize this: Christianity is nothing but error; just a literalist distortion of ancient mysticism, which is worthless nonsense not worth understanding, and there's really nothing in ancient mysticism to understand anyway; Christianity is a later distortion of original nonsense.
In Jesus Puzzle, I was unable to find any positive view of the potential of religion or ancient religion, unlike in Acharya's book which holds that there is positive potential: astrology/cosmology/astrotheology, generally treated as though based in the ordinary state of consciousness (though she separately portrays entheogens as fit for 'initiation').
The discussion groups are constitutionally allergic to any coverage of the authors' positive proposed replacement version of Christianity. To investigate that topic -- fully compliant with the charter -- is to immediately be perceived as off-topic and against the motives of the discussion group, automatically perceived as proselytizing, even if you keep a close tap on the author's proposed replacement version of Christianity.
The moderators cannot admit that there is such a serious disjunction between the charter and the reality of the narrower acceptable scope, dictated by the narrowly read and inflexible mob, who are understandably like traumatized children, running away from or defending the received version of Christianity, rather than coming back to truly re-understand Christianity.
The readership-mob is too set on either bashing "Christianity" (chronically equated with the received version of Christianity) or defending the "kernel of historical Jesus" (and accompanying raft of worldview assumptions and paradigmatic elements), to consider positively reconceiving Christianity or religion along mystic-experiencing lines -- even if the authors are seriously interested in positively reconceived Christianity.
Freke and Gandy are closest to my mysticism-positive, entheogen-positive, no-free-will position. Acharya might claim to defend or advocate a positive version of ancient myth and esoteric initiation, to "add color to life" as she puts it -- she just needs to fully integrate her entheogen-positive initiation idea with the esoteric school practices, and study Necessity/heimarmene.
Doherty nowhere proposes any positive potential for ancient myth and initiation -- he passes on it. He's good at what he covers, coming across as the most sober and scientific, for those who a grounded solely in the ordinary state of consciousness and don't feel a need for "adding color to life" through esoteric studies or practices, or don't think there's anything substantial in such a realm.
The few serious investigators among the readership, or the authors, must wave aside the complaints of the mob and do their own independent assessment of postings that seek to contribute to studying the work of these authors on a positive replacement version of Christianity. A lot of positive revision of Christianity online is pretty worthless and clueless, but that indicates how much work needs to be done on the problem.
It's a matter of propelling oneself over a certain hump, coming over to the other side, converting from purely negative Christianity bashing, to positive reconceiving Christianity or the realm of the ancient mysteries.
Postings need to continue somewhere, on studying the positive alternative version of Christianity proposed in many of the mythic-Jesus books, comparing these positive versions to the big world of scholarship on the nature of religion and mysticism -- abandoning simpleton religion-bashing, and working instead on constructive literalism-bashing, with a broadly informed alternative conception of the mind's religious potential -- informed both by wide scholarship and by the study of multiple states of consciousness per Charles Tart.
Klaus Schilling's summary in English of van den Bergh van Eysinga's article "Leeft Jesus of heeft hij allen maar geleeft?" (Did Jesus Live?)
Does Jesus Live or Did He Only Live Once?
van den Bergh van Eysinga, 1930
I've edited pages 1-9 of 13, and the global edits are finished. At least 200 edits remain to be entered. And that's just the first editing pass; it could well use another pass, given the complicated translation trajectory of this article. I just can't stand any more of this stupid editing drudgework.
I'm torn -- as far as I know, this is very important material. But my work here is too much for the benefit of others, with diminishing returns for me. I really can hardly justify spending my time on such polishing, when truly basic work and research and idea development remains.
This is why I can't stand writing formal articles -- I have to get back to the frontier. I lack the patience -- my lack of patience has been in many ways a key strategy. Too many researchers or scholars have too much patience. I cater to an audience that I assume has much less patience than me.
I finished the editing pass.
Eysinga is an important scholar in the history of this field. This is effectively part 2 after the Drews article http://www.egodeath.com/drewshistorymythiconlyjesus.htm.
Does Jesus Live, or Did He Only Live Once?
van den Bergh van Eysinga, 1930
This is Klaus Schilling's summary in English of van den Bergh van Eysinga's 1930 article "Leeft Jesus of heeft hij allen maar geleeft?" This short book was dedicated to Arthur Drews, the author of "The Christ Myth". It comments on many topics already mentioned by Drews, such as in The History of the Denial of the Historicity of Jesus, and draws conclusions beyond that. Familiarity with the work of Drews is helpful for following this text by van Eysinga.
incorrectly <titled> Is God a Transsexual?
This article is *truly* written in "rant" style, because her position and point aren't stated explicitly. She makes an incorrect assumption about religious doctrine and doesn't state explicitly this assumption. She implicitly asserts that religions have doctrines of free will, and then says that they don't act true to that doctrine. My cricicism of official religion is largely the opposite: religions have doctrines denying free will and asserting predestination, yet they don't act true to that doctrine.
So it seems religion isn't consistent with its doctrine that we *have* free will (Acharya S), *and* isn't consistent with its *other* doctrine, that we *don't* have free will (myself).
She rants in reaction to all the flak by Literalist Christians. I'm taking a much different approach in putting forth ideas: I agree with Christian doctrines but assert that they are correctly to be understood as allegorical. Secular humanists have a boring old battle against Literalist Christians over whether Christianity is true or false. I'm not a secular humanist (not as conventionally defined).
As far as conventional categories go, I'm more like a mystic heretical Gnostic Christian -- a mystic Christian. This puts me into the realm of "family quarrel within Christianity" rather than a battle of anti-Christianity versus Christianity. The artilliary cast by the secular humanists only strengthens the walls of the Literalist Christian fortress.
I'm taking mine right to the central command and control center of Literalist Christianity. Christianity will only be changed from inside. I don't rant against Christianity -- as an insider, all I need to do is present criticisms of one way of thinking about Christianity, and provide a different way. This is why heretics are more of a threat to official Christianity than secular humanists are.
Official Christianity *needs* secular humanists, whereas it can only be threatened by heretical insiders who are masters at conceptual transformation -- we who created Christianity in the first place, as mystery-religion, and have been its revitalizing fountainhead ever since. The official Literalist co-opters are afraid that we mystics, the legitimate owners of the house, will return and take back what is our own, kicking the imposters out on the street.
Clint Clark wrote:
>>The symbolism of Jesus was borrowed From Serapis.
>>I’ve developed a small website that may be an interesting link (or recommended reading) addition to your site. I call it “Religion Detoxification.” One of its features is “The Logical Ten Commandments.” It also has the history on the development of Settlement Religion along with some important points about Oral Tradition.
>>I did a visual study of the symbolism of both Jesus and Serapis and the results are very interesting.
>>The Astrological formation of the character of Jesus; Jesus and the Zodiac
[I need specific page URLs under the above link. The .jpg is good. The site has apparently nothing about the mystic altered state of consciousness, leaving a completely flat portrayal of religion. -- mh]
>>Religion Detoxification: http://www.artdsm.com/religiondetoxification -- The most noteworthy aspect of Humankind is our amazing ability to use tools to make other tools. The “Religion Detoxification” web guide explores the historical development of Conventional Religion as a “social tool to make other social tools.”
Roger Viklund put a paper out on the Internet, which presented orally at a seminar a few days ago.
The Jesus Character Critically Examined and the Exploration of the Gnostic Creation of the Jesus Myth
It is a summary of all his research in the field of Jesus. He invited comments.
The paper commits various four great popular fallacies:
o The "single-man basis of Jesus" fallacy.
o The "historical Paul" fallacy.
o The "historical Gnostic Paul" fallacy.
o The "historical Ignatius" fallacy.
o The "Beloved Disciple is a man" fallacy.
o The "religion is essentially moralism for mundane life" fallacy.
>There is always the possibility that the inventors of a story had an actual person in mind when they constructed that story.
Avoid the "single-man basis of Jesus" fallacy. I would say:
There is always the possibility that the inventors of a story had one or more actual people in mind, in addition to one or more mythic characters, when they constructed that story.
The Jesus character was patched together from *many* actual historical people or types of people, together with multiple mythic figures.
>Even if there was an actual Jesus at the bottom of the Gospel story, hardly anything of what he did and taught was left to posterity.
I would write:
Even if there were some actual Jesus-like men upon whom the Jesus character was partly based, hardly anything of what they did and taught was left to posterity.
>The earliest Christian testimony originates from Paul, who probably wrote his letters in the 50’s.
Avoid the "historical Paul" fallacy. I would say:
The earliest Christian testimony is the writings attributed to the Paul character by the Gnostics, who invented that character to express and legitimate their views. These letters were probably written around 150 and were cast in the 50s to legitimize the Paul author-character.
>Paul obviously also is a Gnostic initiate. Even though the Fathers of the Church tried to convert Paul into an opponent of all Gnosticism by forging letters in his name, it is obvious that Paul was everything he is said to resist. Paul uses words and expressions that clearly reveal his Gnostic side. And the Gnostics themselves considered Paul to be one of their greatest teachers.
Avoid the "historical Gnostic Paul" fallacy. I would say:
The original, Gnostic version of the Paul character is obviously a Gnostic representative. Even though the Fathers of the Church tried to co-opt the Paul character an opponent of all Gnosticism by counter-forging letters attributing Literalist, orthodox views to Paul, it is obvious that the original version of the Paul character represented everything that the orthodox Church Fathers say he resists. The original version of Paul is made to use words and expressions that clearly reveal the Gnostic view. And the Gnostics themselves claimed the pseudo-historical Paul figure to be one of their greatest teachers.
The Gnostics who invented the Paul character are guilty of strategic Literalism. They can be defended as using this as counter-strategy or counter-Literalism.
>The Gnostic movement obviously existed long before Paul was influenced by it. He is also deeply fascinated by the Gnostic ideas he is said to be fighting against. The picture of Paul as an opponent of all Gnosticism is a distorted picture that was implanted by the Fathers of the Church in their controversies with the Gnostics.
That paragraph needs extensive rewriting, given that the Gnostic movement existed for awhile and then created the Paul character.
>Only in the Gospels, the Pastoral letters and Ignatius’ letters do we get any information about the historical Jesus.
Avoid the "historical Ignatius" fallacy. I would say:
Only in the Gospels, the Pastoral letters and the letters attributed to the Ignatius character do we get any information purporting to be about the historical Jesus.
The Ignatius character and the orthodox version of the Paul character are creations of the power-mongers in Rome, as a successful strategy of garnering exclusive authority and co-opt control of the popular, heretofore Gnostic, Christian socio-political-religious movement.
>Apart from the fact that Jesus is said to have loved his father in heaven and the disciples as a group, he is said to have loved only five people; Martha, her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus (John 11:5) the rich [young] man (Mark 10:21) and the beloved disciple. But in Secret Mark (10:46) there is also the ”sister of the youth whom Jesus loved”. That youth is probably the same youth whom Jesus just recently resurrected, and, as we have seen, he is named Lazarus in the Gospel of John. ... Could all these men be one and the same?
Avoid the "Beloved Disciple is a man" fallacy.
An accurate explanation of the original roles is probably complicated, since characters personify aspects of the single initiate's psyche. But there is a strong tradition portraying the beloved disciple as a female, specifically Mary Magdalene -- who is closely associated with Lazarus, John the Apostle, and finally, the virgin Mary mother of the deity. We're likely seeing divergent traditions assembled together, making a single version of a "beloved disciple" story impossible to coherently reconstruct, since the original wasn't a single story-version in the first place.
>The authors of the Gospels made use of literary sources and common beliefs of their time and constructed one more Saviour-god. It seems as if the authors were Gnostics. They applied their technique of constructing a Saviour by portraying symbols as real persons. The original Gospel of Mark was a symbolic tale of man’s spiritual evolution, where Jesus and his companions moulded the different steps in the awakening of consciousness. When stripped of most of its symbolic material the Gospels, as we know them today, are what remains. Perhaps the principal intention was to produce a moralist novel that would influence people and afford them some hope for a better future.
Avoid the "religion is essentially moralism for mundane life" fallacy.
The purpose of Gnostic allegory is to convey and express mystic-state insight into the nature of the mind and selfhood. Mystic-state insight, including intense primary religious experiencing -- not socio-political and ethical aspects of religion -- is the core essence and purpose of Gnostic, esoteric, religious mythic allegory.
>It remains a mystery why Judas betrayed Jesus, and what it was that he betrayed. Everyone knew where Jesus was and what he preached. When Jesus is arrested he says: “Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”
The idea of "betrayal" describes what happens in the psyche during initiation. One aspect of the mind, or of the lower way of thinking, betrays itself and betrays the true higher nature of the mind. Mystic death, sacrificing one's lower self (mental worldmodel), is an inside job.
>Paul seems to be saying that mankind is enslaved ”by demonic beings connected with astral phenomena.” And the divine being, Jesus, who incarnated to rescue mankind was put on a stake – that is fettered to the physical world – by the non-divine spirits, the so called archons, that are the actual rulers of the earth.
Note that the most important astral phenonmenon, which fetters the lower mind, is cosmic determinism -- a popular theme at the time. The demonic being is the lower mind that sacrifices itself so that the higher mind can transcend cosmic determinism.
>Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “original Jesus” a Pagan God? (New York 2000)
I would note the original subtitle:
Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “original Jesus” a Pagan God? (New York 2000). (Originally titled: The Jesus Mysteries: How the Pagan Mysteries of Osiris-Dionysus Were Rewritten as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)
There are 3 ways of talking about historical Jesus figure.
When reading studies about Jesus as a historical figure, the Christ- myth theorist has to understand the equivalence of 3 ways of talking.
Literalist Devotional: Jesus taught a new idea of spiritual victory through humility and even defeat.
Critical Historical: The downtrodden in the Roman Empire thought of the idea of spiritual victory through humility and even defeat. Jesus held this view and acted on it.
Mythic-only Allegory: The downtrodden in the Roman Empire thought of the idea of spiritual victory through humility and even defeat. They created the figure of Jesus to express and symbolize this view.
These 3 ways of sentence construction, talking, and expression for a spectrum.
At one extreme, Jesus is given maximum credit for the whole socio- political and religious climate; he existed and created the ideas attributed to him.
In the middle, Jesus exists, and coincidentally parallels and reflects the existing thinking of the socio-political and religious climate.
At the other extreme, Jesus is a hyperliteralized mythic figure that is invented to embody and express the ideas of the climate.
At the devotional extreme, Jesus creates and invents the new cultural climate; at the mythic-Jesus extreme, the new cultural climate creates and invents Jesus.
The Literalist says "Jesus taught that humility is divine."
The Mythicist says "The Jesus figure expresses people's belief that humility is divine." The mythicist can also say "The belief that humility is divine was attributed to the Jesus figure."
We need a general theory of the relation between real historical people and mythic archetypal figures. Neither "religious figureheads are fictional" nor "religious figureheads really existed" is an adequate theory; both positions if put forth as a simple theory, are incorrect. One person might say Jesus or Mohammed or Osiris did or didn't exist; I'd disagree with all 4 positions if they entail a poor theoretical model of the relation between actual historical people and religious figureheads.
My main focus is a general broad theory about this relationship, a model of mythic figure formation, rather than diving deep into debate about any one particular religious figurehead such as Jesus or Mohammed. Forming such a general theory is more important, by my measure, than any one particular case, any one religious figurehead's existence.
*Both* sides of most debates about whether some religious figure existed smell bad to me. One camp says HJ existed, one says he didn't, but I reject the model assumed by both camps -- that is, what we are really not understanding yet is the general dynamics of mythic formation -- the relationship between religious experiencing, mythic figure formation, and actual people who existed.
>You've eliminated most of the more common parallels, but left me with Theudas, the Egyptian, The Samaritan prophet, Alexander…
I forgot to include Zoroaster in my list of religious figureheads who probably didn't exist. Now, it's too early to decide whether each figure existed, but before we even begin to debate each figure's existence, we first need a realistic *general* theory of the relation between actual people, religious experiencing, and mythic figures. I'm particularly against the way of thinking that simply accepts without any thought of critical skepticism, that figures such as Zoroaster really existed.
Modern Christian Literalism is gullible to the core: such thinking assumes uncritically that all the religious figures existed as actual people, or at least, assumes that the members of these religions believed their figure to exist literally. Christian Literalist thinking talks about the Greeks "no longer believing their gods existed", but that's deeply misguided because it's likely that the Greeks never *literally* thought their Gods to exist, in the first place.
Only a Christian Literalist would utter so quickly and uncritically statements that take for granted the reality of Zoroaster, glibly referring, without a blink of hesitation, to Zoroaster as the man who was the prophet who started Zoroastrianism.
Now, it's *possible* that Zoroaster was an actual man, but no way can we simply take it for granted that he was -- yet that's what Christian Literalist thinking chronically, habitually, and globally does, because such thinking is completely ignorant about mythic thinking and the relation between actual historical people, mythic figureheads as founders of a religion, and mystic religious experiencing.
Such Literalist thinking thrives only as long as it remains oblivious to the existence of a different way of thinking, mythic allegorization of mystic experiencing.
What we *don't* need the most is another debate on the particulars of whether some particular religious figure really existed historically or not -- such a debate, lacking the foundational theory of mythmaking, will fall into the same limitations as always. What is needed most urgently is a general theory of mythic figure formation, applicable to *all* religious founder figures, such as Paul, Zoroaster, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Socrates, and Mohammed.
>Have you read "The Fabrication of the Christ Myth" by Harold Leidner? I see that you have an interest in early Christianity. I've read a number of books on the subject and this one really looks promising.
http://www.surveybooks.com - excerpts
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0967790107 - Amazon
I might order it. I updated my list of such books:
http://www.egodeath.com/christmyth.htm -- The Christ myth, list of books on the subject, some reviews
>>Mysticism involves experiences that are subjective, transient, and ephemeral. When the altered state ceases, normal waking consciousness returns. In normal consciousness, mystical experience is of little benefit.
The most reasonable and informed view is that there *is* something valuable and profound in mystic experiential insight, but that it is only part of life. One's mystic life is similar to one's sex life. A rich and full overall life is composed of areas such as mystic life, work life, sex life, social life, recreational life, and so on. Anti-mystics say that because one's mystic life doesn't totally transform all aspects of life, it must be worthless.
Extremist mystics claim that one's mystic life totally transforms all aspects of life, therefore it is more valuable that mundane life or the rest of life; ordinary-state life is eclipsed in meaning and value by one's mystic life. My work feels most difficult but is really just a matter of contributing a sober sense of proportion and role. Mysticism cannot be validly dismissed as worthless, nor put on a pedestal as the be-all and end-all of life to the point of eclipsing ordinary-state life.
I need to read more of Acharya's astrotheology explanation to look for her position on these points. Does she portray astrotheology as a metaphor for mystic-state psychological development? *Why* did the ancients care at all about astrotheology? Freke & Gandy draw a vector from Christian symbols to astrotheology finally to mystic realization, spreading attention evenly among those.
But having read the book cover to cover one time, Acharya leaves me with the impression that Christian symbols point to a conception of astrotheology that lacks psychological relevance and does not describe transformative experiences. In Doherty and Acharya I have not yet found a compelling tie-in to showing *why* people valued the Christian symbol-system -- no clear tie-in to transformative psychological experiences.
That lack of motive limits how compelling Acharya and Doherty are. They show *that* the Jesus figure was a reified symbol of something else, but I don't see in their books *why* the proto-Christians were driven to create the Jesus figure to represent something -- there's little or no presentation of a compelling *motive*.
I hold that although there was a wide range of meanings for figures such as Jesus, these are more or less distorted expressions of the altered-state experiential insight of no-free-will -- an experience of no-free-will/no-separate-self, followed by a recovery of the accustomed sense of metaphysical free will, allegorized as death and resurrection. This death and rebirth experience entails learning a new mental worldmodel relating will, time, control, self, and world.
To learn the new worldmodel is to transform from one mode of thinking to another, which is a superset of the old. This is my explanation of the true, straightforward meaning of "transformative psychological experiences".
If the average reader doesn't understand the value of mysticism, they cannot understand *why* the Jesus figure would have been created without requiring a historical Jesus. As a result, the no-historical-Jesus theory isn't compelling -- it lacks a plausible motive.
Historical Jesus researchers should be aware of the Swoon/India Jesus theory and the esoteric-allegorical-only Jesus theory.
The phrase "esoteric-allegorical-only Jesus theory" is distinct from the labels "Christ myth" and "mythic-only Jesus"; it positively emphasizes Jesus as esoteric knowledge and allegorical meaning, rather than "myth", a word which cannot shake off the connotation of "false, empty, mistaken, and unreal". However, the phrase lacks a clear connection to mystic-state primary religious experience, and instead says "esoteric", which misleadingly connotes "irrelevant trivia that's way off to the side".
In contrast to "esoteric" or "mythic", the popular connotation of "mystic" is largely accurate. Therefore the phrase "mystic-allegorical-only Jesus theory" may be even better, for accuracy and connotation -- and puts me in a different camp than Doherty, who can well be described as proposing the "mythic-only Jesus theory", with the popular connotation of "mythic" which I consider to miss the point of what religious myth really is all about.
The term "mythic" ghettoizes into "Greek silliness" so that we can just dismiss the "mythic-only Jesus" as childhood fables like we commonly misunderstand Greek myth to be. I like "mystic" because, though it has some noxious connotations, people these days don't assume that they can safely claim to understand what it means. It's a nice "question-mark" word these days.
In the mid-20th Century, "mystic" was a more dismissive term connoting bluffing self-deluded nonsense, like the phrase "New Age spirituality" connotes today. "Mystic" was considered at war with "science" but now (since Bohm and since the Bomb) there's much interest in keeping open the possibility that there's some substance, even scientically respectable, to mystic insight.
>... the question for the Historian is not "Did Jesus exist?" rather it is "How do we best account for the origins of Christianity."
On 6/18 in What Are We Doing, I wrote:
>The question cannot be "Did Jesus exist or not?" but must instead be "How are we to think of Jesus?"
On 5/23 I wrote in the "taxonomy" thread:
>An incorrect and invalid question, with no possible correct answer, is:
>o Did Jesus exist, or not?
>The correct and valid question is:
>o What is the true origin of the Jesus figure?
I considered focusing the second question of Christianity, but I kept in mind the central focus on Jesus in this discussion group, so posed an equivalent second question that was Jesus-centered. I suppose this group's charter includes all of the following:
Did Jesus exist?
How do we best account for the origins of Christianity?
What is the true origin of the Jesus figure?
How are we to think of Jesus?
I have put forth for consideration a proposed paradigm and system of answers to those questions, a paradigm that is pretty much the same as that in the book The Jesus Mysteries. I am still working out the best phrasings to these questions and answers. I'm practically done with my second reading of that book, bogged down in the never-ending endnotes. I can say that my view is a form or variant of The Jesus Mysteries Thesis as defined by the authors, Freke & Gandy.
Here is the integrated set of brief but sufficiently indicative answers that the Jesus Mysteries Thesis proposes for that set of questions.
Q. Did Jesus exist?
No, given that "Jesus" is defined as a single distinctive man upon whom Christianity rests and is dependent. Christianity required the existence of a multitude of partially Jesus-like men, but if you were to remove any one of those actual men from history, even the most Jesus-like man who existed, in principle Christianity would have developed essentially the same. Christianity is in principle immune to the removal of any one actual Jesus-like man.
Q. How do we best account for the origins of Christianity?
Christianity evolved gradually out of Paganism, with various contentious and conflicting socio-political motives intertwined with mythic allegory.
Q. What is the true origin of the Jesus figure?
The Jesus figure is a composite figure very loosely based on a great multitude of Jesus-like men, Pagan men, wholly legendary men, and purely mythic figures. Gnostics and Literalists and Hellenists all found a single focused figure useful and desirable, so such was created by drawing upon all possible kinds of sources.
Q. How are we to think of Jesus?
The Jesus figure is a focused composite ideal drawn from many sources, a black hole drawing unlimited value and meaning and ideals and traditions to itself, including socio-political ideals and religious-experiencing ideals. This figure does all that a godman does, as far as religious experiencing -- such as personifying the experience of being rescued from destruction while switching from egoic to transcendent thinking -- and also serves to represent the socio-political needs of the oppressed and, in a roundabout way, of the oppressors in power.
I could add details about metaphors regarding the willingly sacrificed king on the cross, the pierced side, the sacred heart, the women at the cross, and so on, but the above answers point the general way and establish the framework or paradigm of answers that the Jesus Mysteries Thesis provides.
We *can* pose the question "Did Jesus exist?" in the "right" way for our purposes, *if* we define what we mean by "Jesus". I assert that "Jesus" in this question is best defined as a single, particular, distinctive man upon whom the familiar Jesus Christ figure is based and without whom Christianity wouldn't have begun. My conclusion is that by such a definition, Jesus didn't exist. The Jesus figure was only very loosely based on a composite of various types of partially Jesus-like men and mythic and purely legendary figures.
Any one particular man proposed as the real Jesus is completely disposable and Christianity in no significant way is dependent upon him. Even the most Jesus-like actual man that we could possibly find is completely disposable as far as what was needed to start Christianity; Christianity is in no significant way dependent on that particular man.
As we work toward the Jesus-shaped center of the puzzle, and there is only one piece left, will the piece be actually a man, or a god? It will be a composite fictional-only, mythic-only figure that was only very loosely based on a composite of various types of partially Jesus-like men and mythic and purely legendary figures. This is the "composite Jesus" thesis, where such a composite doesn't include a Jesus of the type I defined, upon whom Christianity was dependent for getting started.
History has a Jesus-shaped hole, but the issue is whether a single man (the one and only HJ) fills that whole or whether many Jesus-like men, or potentially every man, fits that hole. That hole, that final central puzzle-piece, is not HJ, but is many Jesus-like men, and is also potentially every man, and is a composite fiction drawn from many Jesus-like men and many purely mythic godmen.
Christianity's origin was one thing, arising of itself, and actual Jesus-like men were something else. No single Jesus-like man is critical for the start of Christianity. Christianity only depends on the existence of a *set* of Jesus-like men; if there had been no actual Jewish prophets, no actual Jewish rebels, no actual famous Jewish teachers, then Christianity would have been necessarily so different from what we know, it couldn't be called the same religion.
So the existence of multiple partially Jesus-like men, in the plural, was definitely necessary for Christianity to be started and to be meaningful. But the existence of any single Jesus-like man is, in this sense, completely irrelevant to Christianity. Suppose you have one bullet and a time machine: you can go back in time and assassinate any one Jesus-like man you come across, but that won't make any significant difference to the start of Christianity.
Forgetting about the mythic sources for the composite Jesus figure for the moment, focusing just on historical existent people, we could call this thesis "the manifold diffused HJ thesis". I can agree there was no HJ. I can agree there were innumerable HJ's, say, 100. What I cannot agree with is that there was a *single* HJ, defined as *the* man upon whom the start of Christianity is dependent.
Was there a single Jesus-like man that a person of the time could have assasinated in order to prevent Christianity from arising? No; therefore, there was no HJ.
There is a continuing, constant struggle to prop up Literalist Christian history with fabricated evidence. The James bone-box "evidence" is being discussed on various discussion groups. It is the fraud of the month that will come and go, to be replaced by an endless series of other such false evidence to prop up Literalist Christian history. The bone box is off-topic in this discussion group except insofar as it is an example of reality tunnels, paradigms, or frameworks of interpretation -- the bigger picture.
One published article says in passing "But historians don't doubt the existence of either James or Jesus; both are mentioned frequently in early historical accounts." That's easy to believe until reading the books dedicated to disputing it. People will believe what they're hell-bent on believing, through networks of interpretation and distortion. The best way to refute the received paradigm (interpretive framework for research and evidence) is by providing a highly developed alternative.
Literalist Christian history prevents people from studying the esoteric meaning that's where all the real action is at. The book Mary Within (2001) is surprisingly good, about esoteric Christianity, though it is from a psychology perspective that lacks awareness of intense mystic experiencing. The Jungian psychology approach falls short of explaining mystic myth-religion, but still provides necessary input.
This reading list is proving to be potent:
The Lord's Supper: Eternal Word in Broken Bread
The Lord's Supper
The Eucharist of the Early Christians
Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity
Plants of the Gods
Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments
The World of Classical Myth (Ruck et al.)
Eleusis: Journal of Psy. Plants & Compounds
Shaman's Drum: special issue on Psychedelic Mysticism
Shame and Necessity
The Mystery of the Holy Spirit
A Theology of the Holy Spirit
History of Mysticism
Mysticism: Its History and Challenge
Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation
The Roman Cult of Mithras
Myth & Mystery
CliffsNotes: The Odyssey
The Religion of the Earliest Churches
Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism
Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity
Arthur Drews' contributions to mythic-only Jesus research
Arthur Drews: The History of the Denial of the Historicity of Jesus - new, Sep. 1, 2003
Bernhard Hoffers' April 2003 Lecture about Arthur Drews - new, Sep. 1, 2003
I finished copyediting and formatting:
The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present
>From: Michael Hoffman
>Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2003 3:28 PM
>Subject: New transl. of A. Drews on mythic-only Jesus history
>Newly available translations/summaries:
>Arthur Drews: The History of the Denial of the Historicity of Jesus
>Bernhard Hoffers' April 2003 Lecture about Arthur Drews
The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present
>>Is there a book? I see no mention of Allegro or the Jesus Seminar.
Drews' article, of which this page is a translation and summary, was written in 1926. Allegro wrote in the 1960s and early 1970s. The article has little on 'wine', Eucharist, or sacred meals -- there aren't hooks for Allegro's mushroom theory. I would have to review my summary posting of the reader reviews of his book "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth" to see if that work of Allegro could be relevant to the article. The Jesus Seminar was in the 1980s-1990s.
The available books by Arthur Drews in English are listed at the bottom of the web page. Everyone in the Jesus Mysteries discussion groups should read his book The Christ Myth. I recommend making a printout of the article.
It is surprising how much effort was involved in converting Schilling's rough translation into a relatively smooth-reading, copyedited, formatted version. Now I have a decent edited version printed out, to reread and comment on.
I found some favorite points in the article.
"the Gospel Jesus as such has to be discarded as myth, where in Robertson's sense, unlike in mine [Schilling's, apparently], myth is to be understood in the naturalistic, not the metaphysical meaning."
"It is thus ridiculously naive to even try to squeeze anything historical out of the representation of the life of Jesus as shown in the Gospels. Christianity also can't be seen as a social movement; its base class is a magical one, not a socio-economical one. Lublinkski was influenced by the great valuable work of M. Friedlaender, and both deserve a whole lot more attention than they ever got. They most likely got the correct explanation of Christian origins."
"Only the modern incapacity for metaphysical thinking makes people claim the historicity of Jesus."
"Post-Enlightenment theologians are beyond the capacity of making sense out of this truly religious concept, as their dogmatism slid away, leaving secular rationalism, far removed from any religious worth."
"Theological critics ridiculously believed that astral magical arguments could be pushed away lightly. Of course they were outrageously ignorant about the subject in the first place. Drews published an introduction to astral mythology in the cultures of the Mediterranean and Iranian region up to imperial times, in order to decrease the above ignorance. But theologians continued to indulge in their self-induced ignorance."
Schilling intriguingly advocates a "metaphysical rather than naturalistic" interpretation of the Jesus figure and Christianity, but Acharya S serves as a lesson to beware of what modern scholars have in mind by "metaphysical interpretation" -- for Acharya, this means that Jesus was a symbol of the literal physical materialist sun, and Christianity was allegory for initiation into the cosmological "mysteries" -- which she conceived of as literalist, physical, materialist cosmology although she tacks "theology" onto the prefix "astro".
Earl Doherty's review of Acharya's book The Christ Conspiracy characterizes her as a "mystic", which is laughable; her school's conception of mysticism is pure from any actual mysticism. Except for the true esotericists such as Freke & Gandy, today's mythic-only Jesus scholars are geniuses at showing the non-historicity of Jesus, but complete ignorant dolts and perfect outsiders, non-initiates, when it comes to describing what it means to say that Jesus is a symbol of "mysteries" and "initiation".
Mysticism is grounded in intense mystic-state experiencing, which is the proper realm of metaphysics, and is not grounded in reductionist materialist naturalism as moderns picture in "worshipping the cycles of nature" or "worshipping cosmology".
Cycles of nature and cosmology were conceived of as divine, but the key point is that this type of sacralized intellection was grounded in the intense mystic altered state of consciousness, not in the ordinary state of consciousness. Nature and cosmology were utilized as tangible symbols describing the phenomena commonly encountered in the mystic state of consciousness.
They prove that Jesus wasn't A (where A is a single historical individual), and propose that instead he was B -- where B is a completely mysterious and non-understood entity, "mystery initiation". These scholars get a grade of 'A' for disproving the historicity of Jesus, and a grade of 'F' for explaining what the Jesus figure actually did mean.
All the mythic-only Jesus scholars are in full agreement in their arguments for the nonhistoricity of Jesus, so that one author is no better than the others -- on this aspect, they all say exactly the same thing. It is now an established given that there was no historical Jesus. The more important criterion for judging the relative perspicuity of the mythic-only Jesus scholars is, how sound is their theory of mystery-initiation?
The moderated Jesus Mysteries discussion group has effectively turned its focus away from the question of whether there was a (lone, single, necessary) historical Jesus, to the more or less efficient project of reconstructing the actual literary history of the early Christian period.
The unmoderated discussion group is by default, the place that enables investigation of the Jesus figure as part of mystery-initiation -- literally, like Freke and Gandy envision, a real and actual investigation into *the Jesus mysteries*, an investigation that takes seriously the claimed and supposed charter advertised by the moderated Jesus Mysteries discussion group but betrayed by the limitations of the moderators and the mob of uninspired and empty-headed scholars -- scribes.
I support their literary project and utilize it as part of a basis -- a basis for what is more important and more relevant, the esoteric Mystery initiations themselves as such. The moderated group is making progress in reconstructing the literary history, with limited efficiency due to lack of correct perspective and emphasis: their project is bumbling along with degraded or uninspired aims, needing more serious attention to the Mysteries.
A serious engagement with the whole of Hellenistic-era religion as such is mandatory; it's impossible to ever comprehend the positive meaning the Jesus figure had, without a full and adequate understanding of the real nature of Hellenistic-era religion-philosophy-mythology. The Jesus figure and earliest Christian religion cannot be understood or effectively researched, without a serious understanding of Hellenistic-era religio-philosophy.
Someone wanted Drews' views on Allegro.
To imagine what Arthur Drews would say about John Allegro's model of the early formation of Christianity, compare the characterization of Allegro's Dead Sea Scrolls book with Drews' article. Drews' book The Christ Myth, chapter VI, The Self-Offering of the Messiah: The Supper, p, 128-139, is directly related to Allegro's explanation of the visionary nature of the Eucharist. Drews points out the great importance, centrality, and frequency of sacred meals in the Mysteries and in the Christian religion.
From my posting about Allegro's book "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth":
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth
1979 (not "the early 1970s" as I previously wrote)
Visionary plants are discussed at least on page 147-148 in this book.
Allegro's book is about the following, according to reader reviews.
Parallels between the Qumran cult's "Teacher of Righteousness"
A kind of Davidian enhancement to the Jesus legend
Jewish patriarchal typecasting is like the Jesus figure
Strains of the messianic spirituality nurtured at Qumran made their way into the early Church
The Teacher of Light may or may not be Jesus
There was an air of expectancy around the time of Jesus
The religious background of the Essenians and other Near-East cults
The New Testament episodes were evoked by mushrooms' consumption and not by real events
Provides an analysis of gnostic beliefs; describes the rituals and beliefs of gnostic movements
The tales of Christ were symbolic lessons told by a group of former Essenians
Doesn't talk about many similarities between Christian beliefs and the cults of Dyonisus and Mithras
An ancient parchment of the Gospel of Marcos was found in Qumran
Many of the beliefs of the Essenians resemble early Christianity
The Teacher of Righteousness life reminds us of the Jesus' tale
Explores the rituals and life in Qumran
The Christian tales appeared after the fall of Qumran, when the group dispersed itself
Some people adopted the Christian beliefs without understanding the mystic order of these tales, thought them to be literally true
Allegro is a recognized scholar, whose knowledge of ancient languages remains one of the best among archaelogists
He bases his thesis on evidence, doesn't create absurd historical events (like Kersten [_The Christ Conspiracy_, w/ recuperative escape from the cross?])
See the Ancient World through the eyes and words of John Allegro; gives us an interesting perspective; shows another way of looking at the Christian problem
Despite some sort of historical John the Baptist coming into view, I maintain the interpretive framework that "All characters in the Bible are essentially fictional composites very loosely based on multiple types of source figures, historical and mythical."
If you want baptizers in animal skins, there may well have been many of them -- but I advocate approaching John the Baptist as essentially and first of all, a mythic composite, even if the attribute of "real existence" is assigned to him by some allegorists who liked to create their conceptual art in the quasi-historical mode of religious allegory.
>>Robert Price has a nice piece on John the Baptist on the Internet.
>>"Finally, if the case set forth here is judged plausible, it would provide the answer to a thorny question aimed at the Christ Myth theory nowadays dismissed out of hand by apologists and even some skeptics but still beloved by many freethinkers. It is easy to show that, at least in its most famous form, the testimony of Josephus to Jesus is a Christian interpolation. But no such case can be made in respect of Josephus' reference to John's baptism and his fate at the hands of Antipas. So apologists have asked, is it really likely that Jesus was not a historical figure but John the Baptist was? That is exactly the implication if John the Baptist was the original "Jesus," and if the gospel Jesus is a figment of faith in the resurrected John. Only now it makes sense. That John should be a historical figure and Jesus a myth makes plenty of sense once you understand the relationship between the two figures as I have sketched it here."
Lynn Picknett shows through art analysis that Da Vinci advocated some church of John, associated somehow with Mary Magdalene, against the church of Jesus. There seems to have been some sort of John-oriented church through the pre-modern eras, but it's not yet clear what it amounted to, such as its views on Jesus' historicity. Anyone interested in learning all the radical theories and alternate histories about the gospel Maries and Johns will find such hypotheses in Picknett's books.
Mary Magdalene: Christianity's Hidden Goddess
17 hits for "Da Vinci".
The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ
Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince
25 hits for "Da Vinci"
Lynn Picknett may have some connection with:
Holy Blood, Holy Grail
Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent
8 hits for "Da Vinci"
A subtle distinction that historical-Jesus doubters should be attuned to is whether people in the past were arguing about Jesus' actual historicity or about how to properly tell edifying mystic tall tales: "No, the storyline goes this way! John was real, and Jesus was mystic-metaphor!" "No, the mystic tall-tale storyline is that they were both real in their respective ways!"
It's like a debate over which is the most moral way to tell a morality tale, or the right way to write a Star Trek episode with accurate, correct characterizations. An unrealistic portrayal of Kirk, Spock, or McCoy would be unacceptable.
Suppose I start a church of Mary "John" Magdalene, against that of Jesus -- this would not necessarily mean that I hold any of them to have existed as literal historical individuals. Now imagine that my church doctrine holds John to have been the pre-initiation, earthly or "mortal" early phase of the founder-figure, with Jesus as the new name given to the post-initiation, divine heavenly "imperishable" phase of the founder-figure.
In neither figure would I be asserting and claiming literal existence as a historical individual. Rather, I could hold that the figure of John stands for the principle of the initiate's old, perishable self before spiritual regeneration, while the figure of Jesus stands for the initiate's new, spiritual, transcendent self.
I could then position this reading of the edifying mystic tall-tale story-cycle against that of the competing doctrinal story-cycle of the competing church which I could disparagingly call the "church of Peter" or even the "church of Jesus", which (in contrast) holds that it's better to use the figure of Jesus as the pre-initiation self and the figure of Christ to represent the post-initiation self. Even that disparagement wouldn't necessarily involve attributing the modern literalist idea of Jesus' or John's existence to the competing church.
This would be like arguing over whether the exploits of Hercules, Zeus, Osiris, or Dionysus are more lofty or edifying. Even if the notion of an earthly mortal is involved, this may have put all accent on the mystic-metaphorical aspects of the religio-philosophical or mythic-religious tall-tales, without implying such mundane, profane, literal historicity as modern thinking is inclined to assume.
The ancients may have believed in a historical John in some sense, such as that the idea made sense within an edifying mystic tall-tale, but did they believe that John literally existed as a historical individual in our familiar modern sense? Veyne's book makes it hard to have any confidence about this matter.
Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths? An Essay on the Constitutive Imagination
Charles Crittenden - The Metaphysics of Fictional Objects - p. 1 wrote:
"In this book I consider the ancient problem of nonbeing, the problem whether there are non-existent objects. Holding that there are seems to imply the contradiction that there exist things that do not exist. On the other hand, in common parlance we very often speak of things that do not exist. Sherlock Holmes does not exist, he is a fictional character. Pegasus is mythical and hence non-existent. Phlogiston has turned out not to exist. Extinct species no longer exist, future items do not exist yet, there are all sorts of possible things that do not exist. Atheists certainly believe that God does not exist. So we employ the notion of nonexistence widely and quite comfortably. Furthermore, non-existent things seem to have properties: Sherlock Holmes is a detective who plays the violin, he is not a banker; Pegasus is a winged horse, not a flying fish. The appearance is that ordinary discourse is committed to items that are some- how there and have properties, and yet are said not to exist. Does common language then assume contradictory entities? Surely there cannot be such things. But if not, what are we talking about in these cases? This is a tangle indeed; my purpose in this book is to sort through the strands wound together here and to use the resulting clarifications to deal with various philosophical issues."
A contribution to the history of the theories on non-existent objects
There are modes of Jesus' possibly historicity other than simple existence or nonexistence, as Eysinga wrote in his 1930 article "Leeft Jezus - of Heeft Hij Alleen Maar Geleefd? Een Studie over Het Dogma der Historiciteit" (Does Jesus Live, or Has He Only Lived? A Study of the Doctrine of Historicity).
Eysinga wrote (translated/summarized):
>>Many other figures of legend and literature are seen in a similar light, such as Pallas Athena, Don Quixote, Romulus, Yahveh, and Osiris. They "lived" in those real people who contributed to the tales, and are to be understood within their historical context. So these mythic figures have a life, but not in the direct sense held by modern historians.
>>Goguel noted that many details in the gospels appear in order to specifically imply the fleshliness of Jesus. This shows that at the time when the gospels were written, doubts abounded about Jesus' carnality. Goguel wants to put this forward as a proof of Jesus' historicity. But, just as the post-resurrection hints of carnality are added polemically against the docetic school, also the pre-crucifixion part is painted anti-docetically. And this does not make Jesus a historical person.
>>Unlike the Gnostic tale of the redeemer descending straight from heaven (for example, in the Naasseni hymn), the Roman Catholic reformer needed a "realistic" tale of a son of God in the shape of an itinerant healer and preacher. Originally, the "realistic" life of Jesus just consisted of birth, passion, and resurrection, but the Jesus lifestory was gradually extended.
>>The celestial Christ of Paul was morphed into a quasi-historical individual, as Couchoud put it. This gradually increasing reification went hand in hand with the polemic refutation of the Gnostic heresies. The faith in a "living Jesus" was a necessary forerunner for the belief in a "Jesus that had lived". The gospel is a parable about the Christ mystery. Raschke's famous formula concerning the evolution of Jesus from the Pauline metaphysical force of the Gnosis to the quasi-historical Jesus of the gospels is mentioned again.
>>According to Goguel, docetism was not an assertion about Jesus' historicity, but was merely a theological position, so docetism does not entail a denial of the Historical Jesus. But one would have to admit the same for early anti-docetism as well. Doctrine just stands against doctrine, and neither of them centers on asserting historical facts. The ancient type of historification of the Christ mystery does not turn Jesus into a historical fact.