The New Testament was a competitive rewrite of Virgil's Aenid. Christianity was a rival rewriting of Caesar cult drawing upon the Jewish rather than Homeric writings. This type of scenario is generally supported by Marianne Bonz' dissertation on Luke-Acts as a literary challenge to the propaganda of imperial Rome. Where did the strange and incoherent New Testament writings come from? A process of strategic competitive rewriting and rearranging, with political and mystical themes often interwoven.
Religion in the Roman World -- An essay by Marianne Bonz describing the myriad of religious options available in the Roman Empire
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/religions.html (skip the first half)
Doctorate from Harvard Divinity School ... She has published several articles on the status of Jews in the Greek province of the Empire and on the developing religious message of the Roman emperors.
The Gospel of Rome vs. the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Two New Testament Responses from the Churches Founded by Paul
From Jesus to Christ: Symposium presentation by Marianne P. Bonz.
>>About 75 years before the apostle Paul began proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the gentiles of the mid-first-century Roman world, Rome had already begun formulating its own gospel and spreading its message to the peoples of the new empire. ... if the Christian gospel had to compete with the gospel of Rome, then these Pauline churches were institutional reflections of that competition.
>>... explaining Rome’s rise in human history and its role in the cosmic order was the underlying purpose of this great poem of the Augustan age. At the emperor’s behest, Virgil had created a powerful and appealing foundational epic–truly, Rome’s own great salvation history. Although Virgil had made use of a number of earlier sources, the Aneid represented a profoundly new epic of national origins and eschatological promise in which not only the future rule of Augustus and his descendants, but the entire history of Rome was portrayed as one of heroic struggle, culminating in predestined triumph and universal salvation. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that the Aeneid became the definitive literary embodiment of the gospel of Rome.
>>...just as Virgil had created his foundational epic for the Roman people by appropriating and transforming the works of Homer, so also did Luke create his foundational epic for the early Christian churches by appropriating and transforming the sacred traditions of Israel’s past. ... Luke’s narrative incorporated a number of the stylistic and dramatic devices characteristic of Greco-Roman epic in general and the Aneid and its literary successors in particular.
>>...Luke is also affirming that this new Israel is the true historical fulfillment of the authentic and authoritative prophecies of the one and only God. Thus, Virgil’s Aeneid, with its alternative vision of prophecy and history culminating in Roman rule, is the literary model Luke seeks to imitate. And in this case, imitation is not a sincere form of flattery so much as a profound expression of rivalry.
In Search of Paul: How Jesus' Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom
John Dominic Crossan, Jonathan L. Reed
"I believe by faith rather than by evidence that Christ Jesus is the son of God and my Saviour."
This language was originally created to talk about the Roman Emperor. Augustus Caesar, son of God and savior, bringer of peace. After that, the underclass sought to turn the whole hierarchical system of emperor elevation upside-down, by co-opting and applying the language of emperor worship -- Ruler Cult -- to the lowest of the low, the one who rebelled against the system of Caesar: the crucified rebel slave and the crucified leader of the rebel slaves -- *he* is the rightful "son of God and savior" -- not, despite the propaganda, Caesar.
Caesar is our lord, son of God, savior? No, the proto-Christians declared, the rebellious Jewish messiah figure gets those attributes and acclamations!
Prior to being applied to Caesar, the "son of god" idea had religious origins in the Mysteries of Osiris-Dionysus.
Gary Courtney explains that the life story of the mythical Jesus figure drew upon Ruler Cult -- specifically, a Jewish restyling of the cult of the life of Caesar, which was a spiritualized syncretized play about Caesar's life, murder, and divinization. Before this life story of Jesus was creatively derived, there was only a minimalist, vague "dying and rising" Pauline Gnostic spiritual Jesus figure.
The Jesus figure is not just any rebuttal response to the general figure Caesar, and Ruler Cult in general. The very life of Jesus -- not merely his sacred rulership -- was not merely opposed to that of Caesar, but specifically derived from that of Julius Caesar in particular. The life of Jesus is a transformation of the life of Julius Caesar as cultically presented, which fits the Hellenistic propensity and preference for transformation rather than new literary and mythic creation.
The religion of Jesus is a syncretistic transformation of the cultic life and religion of Divine Caesar, transformed into a Jewish surface style.
Consider again the question of why the Roman Empire, when seeking a single uniform religion that all must adhere to, would select -- of all things -- a variety of the Jewish religion.
The bastardized, transformed, co-opted version of the cult of Julius Caesar was more popular than the original version, so the power-hierarchy builders picked the version that the people readily embraced, and co-opted that, rather than trying to force upon them some Ruler Cult or other variety of religion that the people didn't embrace so readily.
We can take it for granted that Caesar's cult had genuine entheogenic religious experiencing, for the simple reason that such experiencing was available at every streetcorner. Caesar's last supper includes psychoactive wine and philosophical metaphysical discussion, in standard banquet fashion.
Was Jesus Caesar?
Planned release: after Feb. 2004
Et tu Judas? Then Fall Jesus!
ISBN 0 646 08733 9
The Life and Death of Julius Caesar as Source for the Gospel of Christ
Bibliography for Et tu:
APPIAN, Historia Romana, Bynneman's Ed., 1956
BAILEY, Cyril, Religion in Virgil, Clarendon Press, 1935.
BARROW, R.H., The Romans, Penguin, 1968.
CANNADINE & PRICE, Rituals of Royalty, Cambridge Uni. Press, 1987.
COHN, Haim, The Trial and Death of Jesus, London, 1972.
DIMONT, Max I., Jews, God, and History, New American Library, 1962.
DION, Cassius, Roman History Loeb Classical Lib., trans. E. Gary, 1914.
EPSTEIN, Isadore, Judaism, Penguin, 1959.
FRAZER, J.G., The Golden Bough, MacMillan & Co., 1967.
GARDNER, Martin, Fads & Fallacies, Dover Publications, 1952.
GRANT, F.C., The Gospels: their Origin and their Growth, London, 1959.
GRANT, Michael, Julius Caesar, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1969.
JAMES, M.R., Apocryphal New Testament, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1926.
JEWETT, Robert, Dating Paul's Life, S.C.M. Press, 1979.
JOSEPHUS, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, Loeb Classical Library.
JOSEPHUS, Flavius, The Jewish War, Penguin, 1981.
LEVINE, Lee I., Caesarea under Roman Rule, Brill, 1975.
MACCOBY, Hyam, Revolution in Judaea, Ocean Books, London, 1973.
MORGENSON, Greg, God is a Trauma, Spring Publications, Dallas, 1989.
PHILOSTRATUS, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Loeb Classical Library.Brill.
PLUTARCH, Lives of Great Men, Loeb Classical Library.
ROBERTSON, J.M., Pagan Christs, Dorset Press, N.Y., reprint 1966.
SCHONFIELD, Hugh, The Passover Plot, Element Books, reprint 1985.
SEVENSTER, J.N., Paul and Seneca, Brill, 1961.
SHAKESPEARE, W., The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Penguin.
SUETONIUS, The Twelve Caesars, Penguin, 1983.
WEINSTOCK, S., Divus Iulius, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1971.
WELLS, G.A., The Jesus of the Early Christians, London 1971.
WINTER, Paul, On the Trial of Jesus, Berlin, 1961. book
Worship of Augustus Caesar
The Caesar theory is related to the Flavius Josephus theory:
>>I've been seeing an ad in several liberal publications (The Nation, The Humanist, et al.) for a "scholarly booklet published by the Abelard Reuchlin Foundation that asserts with "incontrovertible proof!" that Flavius Josephus wrote the New Testament. Anyone familiar with this booklet or this theory?
Here are resources.
True Authorship of the New Testament
Paperback, January 1979
Entering the title and author, 2 hits found at
True Authorship of the New Testament: Arius Calpurnius Piso; Pen Name Flavius Josephus
A Roman Reuchlin Foundation Pamphlet.
Copyright 1979 Pamphlet, 27 pages, 1986 2nd printing near mint; never sold, but shelfwear; 1986 2nd printing; store stmp perm.
Price: US$ 20.00 (Convert Currency)
Talmudic Responses to Piso: A Postscript Chapter to the True: Authorship of the New Testament as Revised and Amplified
Privately Published by Abelard Reuchlin Pamphlet copyright 2000 Pamphlet, 53 pages, Original Ed/Printing 2000 mint, center stapled 8-1/2 x 11 pamphlet; Poorly printed
Price: US$ 20.00
http://members.tripod.com/~ReuchlinA/ (warning: popup windows):
More information about this is now available on many sites on the Internet including;
>>>Is there a popular hypothesis according to which Flavius Josephus is just a pseudonym or at least an agent of the Roman politician Arius Calpurnius Piso who plotted the Jewish war?
>>There is an hypothesis on Piso and the Jesus myth, but in my humble view it is the most extreme of conspiracy theories. I've never seen much reason to give it credibility.
There is good reason to selectively draw upon the Flavius/Piso theory, because Christianity was largely a rewriting and rebuttal to Ruler Cult themes. We cannot be all-or-nothing in evaluating radical theories. A useful attitude is that all radical or alternative theories are correct and insightful in some way, the challenge being to specifically identify that way.
I am still waiting for the books on the subject to become widely available. I don't know the details of the theories, such as whether anyone proposes that 'Flavius' is a pseudonym for Piso.
The books on this subject suffer from mono-explanation, trying to derive all Christianity -- which was nothing if not radically thematically syncretistic -- from a single thematic source.
An easy and rewardingly insight-providing approach now in studying the origins of Christianity is the study of Christian themes as a rebuttal and modification of the themes of Ruler Cult.
The notion that "the Jews" were against "the Roman Ruler Cult" is grossly overgeneral. Certain Jews in certain eras in certain areas had very mutually beneficial and appreciative relationships with certain Roman rulers -- particularly Julius Caesar. So it looks at least one degree less odd, less impossible, that "the religion of the Jews, who are anti-Caesar, anti-Rome" ended up becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire.
At http://www.users.bigpond.com/pontificate/8.htm Gary Courtney writes:
At one point, besieged by Egyptian forces at Alexandria, Caesar was rescued by a reinforcement party which included 1,500 Jewish troops dispatched by their leader Antipater. The arrival of this posse induced the local Jews to throw their support behind Caesar, which tipped the balance of forces in his favour and led to the demise of Ptolemy. ... Caesar's thankfulness for the Jewish assistance afforded him can be gauged by his response. He later rewarded Antipater with Roman citizenship and the procuratorship of all the Jewish territories of what was then the Roman province of Syria, and took other measures to protect Jewish rights throughout the Roman world and beyond -
"When, therefore, Caesar had overcome his enemies and restored Cleopatra to the Egyptian throne as a Roman ally, he showed marked gratitude towards the Jews. First, he caused Cleopatra to confer some improvement of status (its exact nature is unidentifiable) upon the Jewish community of Alexandria, a measure which was no doubt unpopular with the Greek and Egyptian populations but could be enforced by the garrison Caesar left behind him in the city. The powerful Jewish minorities elsewhere in Egypt, and in the Cyrenaican cities of Cyrene and Berenice (Benghazi), no doubt benefited as well.
"Then, at Rome, he arranged for the Senate to exempt synagogues from a general ban on associations. Moreover, he promulgated a series of measures confirming the freedom of worship and privileged autonomous status of Jewish communities in Phoenicia and Asia Minor. Such decrees were not new, but the extent and detailed character of the edicts attributed to Caesar seem to justify their description as 'a veritable Magna Carta ' guaranteeing the privileges of the Jewish Dispersion."
-- (The Jews in the Roman World. M. Grant 1973. p 59.).
The Jewish historian Josephus reported that Caesar actually engraved his decrees in favour of the Jews on a pillar of brass he had erected in Alexandria, and publicly declared that the local Jews were citizens of Alexandria (AJ, XIV, 10,1). Furthermore, he officially recognised Hyrcanus II as High Priest and prince of the Jewish territories, and the Jewish citizens of those territories were exempted from paying tribute to Rome and from paying for the billeting of Roman troops stationed in their territories; and all Jews were exempted from military conscription.
______ end excerpt from Gary Courtney _________
Many in the Roman Empire wanted to cash in on the advantages granted to the Jews (for helping Julius Caesar), nominally labelling themselves as Jews and enjoying the right to assemble that was granted the Jews, without the undesirable restrictions and lifestyle of the Jews. They wanted a Serapis-type mystery-religion that was nominally "Jewish", so that they could have their pagan-style mystery-religion initiation system together with the privileges granted to the Jews.
This option was popular and led to social support networks which were later co-opted by the hierarchy-building power-mongers. How can you be a Julius-cult follower, while claiming the privileges granted to Jews? Follow Julius Chrestus in the guise of Jesus Christos. We usually think of Jews and Roman Ruler cult as far opposed. It turns out that Julius was closer to the Jewish desires, and the Jewish godman was closer to Julius' ruler cult, than usual.
The usually opposing poles actually came together after Julius' assassination -- a point in time acting like a bridge enabling the fusion of paganism with the Jewish religion, by having a Jewish-favoring paganism touching on a paganism-favoring Jewish religion.
After some time, closer to 313, the religion of Julius in the guise of Jesus broke with the burdensome pretence of Jewishness, and turned against the non-Jesus oriented Jews, co-opting their scriptures for authority but putting down the actual Jews themselves. Rieser describes this sort of flipping of attitude and the motives for it.
The True Founder of Christianity and the Hellenistic Philosophy
>>So, Caesar's assasination was a real historical event? I thought he had a psychedelic supper beforehand, so the assasination would be only metaphorical.
We should be basically completely skeptical about all written history. At this point, I assume something like the following actually happened:
There really was a Julius Caesar.
He really did pardon his enemies (some question this)
He was in the process of designing a funeral cult for himself and setting up Caesarea sites around the empire.
He really was assassinated by the republican senate because they thought he was going to make himself king or emperor.
They really did divinize him afterwards.
They turned the funeral cult he'd been designing into a cult that included entheogenic mixed wine in the ritual scene of his last supper.
The initiate of this cult would experience ego death and symbolically describe it as a kind of assassination, or a mystical participation in Caesar's assassination to become divinized in, with, and as Caesar. You'd be a "follower of Caesar" and a member of his right and good empire, which could only take place in the spiritual realm because of the evil powers of this passing era who got rid of their savior (who supposedly had given them clemency).
After the Roman pagan version of the apocalypse, Caesar and his armies would descend from the heavens and set the world straight in the pure peaceful fashion Caesar had intended.
Imagine doing the same with the President Kennedy figure: his nation, in which there is no evil CIA and DEA, couldn''t happen on Earth yet, because of the evil rulers of this passing age, but Kennedy has ascended to secretly rule from the heavens, spiritually taking his followers with him, and will return soon to set things straight and kick out the bad guys, leading to the good nation he intended.
Any of the historical suppositions above could be completely mythical/mystical-only. For example, maybe the only things that were true is that there was a certain Caesar, and he died. There are many plausible scenarios.
The Greco-Roman culture loved making a gordian-knot rat's nest mixture of myth, mystical insights and experiences, politics, history, literary spiritual-allusion fiction, and so on. They were hell-bent on "entheogenizing" everything they touched -- for every occurrence that took place, they would revise it in order to force it to also refer to entheogenic mystic experiencing and insight.
The Jewish-style apocalypse might be largely based on an earlier Roman pagan apocalypse that was centered on Julius Caesar and his political conflicts. Christianity would be a revision of the cult of divine Julius Caesar, which itself was based -- like every domain in that culture -- ultimately on entheogenic mystic experiencing.
Various important elements to construct the Jesus story were taken from the Julius Caesar story, but that the Jesus figure drew from many other sources as well -- myths, legends, heroes, Jewish figures, Hellenistic literature, mystery religions, and so on.
The simple story in the forthcoming books is that surprise, there was no Jesus, he is the Julius Caesar legend with some adjustments. Or some other single figure. But truth is more complex and compound and nuanced than that.
The Jesus figure is essentially a composite figure drawing from all possible sources, spurred on by the drive to assimilate as much meaning and worth and glory onto a single figure as possible, in an arms race of extreme hyper-apotheosis. Why would those who are invested in him pass by a chance?
They slapped on any and all additions they could possibly think of, to make a universal top dog figure. Even military victory is his, when he returns to set things straight. Scholars have to get it through their heads how mythmaking and literature of the day worked. The right frame of mind is suggested by thinking of it as deadly serious war of ink. Watch how desperately the Church Fathers scramble to force the Old Testament to support the legitimacy of their New Testament.
It's like the huge cover-up of what the War on Drugs is about: there are millions of dollars hanging on the propaganda and spin. Who profits from each addition to the Jesus figure; what are the motives? This is the only way to have a chance of unravelling the buried actuality behind the construction and development of the Jesus figure over time.
Don't underestimate the Greco-Romans: they were *geniuses* at this kind of syncretic mythmaking. Modern thinking doesn't stand a chance until we can also mentally become those Greco-Romans. Even though I have my own candidate for the key source of meaning for constructing the Jesus figure -- that wine is the touchpoint and key to all aspects of Greco-Roman culture -- the wine theme must also be relegated to just one domain of *many* that were drawn from.
Which theme or which man or which domain was the *real* source for constructing the Jesus figure? The entirety of Greco-Roman culture. To fathom the history of constructing the Jesus figure, firmly grasp all aspects of Greco-Roman culture and mentally exist in it.
Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith (2nd Ed)
Early Christianity was largely a counter-religion against the Ruler Cult of the Roman Empire. In this scenario, the Jesus figure is designed to be whatever is required to thwart the divinized Caesar. Who is Jesus really? Who was the Jesus figure, functionally, for the early Christians? As Burton Mack asks in The Christian Myth, what purpose did the various Jesus "schools" mainly serve?
Jesus is the anti-Caesar and is built up by endlessly accumulating all socio-political-religious elements available, whatever increases his power, in order to resist Caesar.
The hottest topic in current study of the origins of Christianity now is Christianity as resistance to the oppressive Roman Empire. The Roman Empire justified its rule and its socio-political order partly by claiming to be divine and divinely ordained.
>Keep in mind that the Parthians defeated Roman forces under the leadership of Marcus Linicius Crassus and occupied Jerusalem for a short period a mere 50 years prior to the turn of the era, and that the Parthians were the descendants of the benevolent peoples who sponsored the rebuilding the of temple and the resurrection of the Yahwahist faith (per the "scriptures"), why would there have not been some acknowledgement of influence, or even hope for a return of a competing power that might depose a foreign power not so positively disposed to the practice of Judaism?
I've been studying a more general version of that theme: Christianity as hope of *all* oppressed people in the Roman Empire (not merely the Jews in Palestine) for a competing power that might depose an unwanted power. The oppressed people -- mostly non-Jews -- co-opted (and redesigned and Hellenized) the Jewish religion because the Jewish religion criticized kings, including its own kings, and rejected the idea that kingship is divinely approved, and resisted Caesar's supposedly "divine" rule.
You provide an essential point that strengthens that reading of the true origins and reasons for the popularity of Christianity. Not only did the Jews have a history of *resisting* foreign "divine" rulers, they had some association with a culture that had *successfully* resisted Roman forces.
This "Jesus as anti-Caesar" approach seems to fit with Burton Mack's book The Christian Myth.
The Christian Myth
Here is a list of 25 books related to the theme.
Christianity as political rebellion against "divine" Caesar
I also want to add the books:
Matthew and Empire: Initial Explorations
Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading
Of the various kinds of Jesuses, and the various reasons people had for being in one of the various Jesus-type groups in the cities throughout the Roman Empire at the very beginning of Christianity, I propose that this pair of roles is most important: Jesus as anti- Caesar, and Jesus as experiential mystery-religion mythic godman.
Above all, I propose, the Jesus figure is the version of the Hellenistic experiential dying/rising mystery-religion mythic godman that is distinguished by the fact that his mythic storyline is set in a political context, a *political-style* dying/rising godman storyline that is designed to resist "divine" Caesar and his socio- political system that is supposed to be divinely blessed and good and honorable.
All those other Hellenistic experiential dying/rising mystery- religion mythic godmen are to be resisted because they cooperate with Caesar. Only the Jesus mystery-religion godman is designed expressly to politically oppose the socio-political-religious system of Caesar. "Jesus is the only way to enter the kingdom of Heaven" has nothing to do with rejecting the Buddhist religion as such, and everything to do with rejecting Caesar's type of hierarchical, honor- based system and all the Hellenistic religions that cooperate and are implicated in that kind of oppressive socio-political-religious system.
Of all the many components of the Jesus figure, there are two main ones that are both essential and mandatory:
o Jesus as Hellenistic experiential dying/rising mystery-religion mythic godman. We ingest his flesh, have religious experiencing of transcendent unity in the kingdom of Heaven, and perceive the true cosmic ruler.
o Jesus as anti-Caesar
The anti-Caesar or anti-Mithra Jesus is an absolutely primary purpose of the early Jesus "schools", at the very beginning of Christianity, throughout the Roman Empire. However, we should also retain the primacy of the mystery-religion godman Jesus. These two aspects are distinct but form an unbreakable pair. Why?
If we treat the experiential mystery-religion godman as non-primary, or optional, then all the scriptural talk of Eucharist and primary religious experiencing, and all the talk of Christianity as a mystery religion, becomes empty verbiage co-opted from the genuinely experiential and sacramental Hellenistic mystery-religions.
Given the utterly common availability of standard knowledge of techniques for experiential mystery-religion, there is no reason at all why Christianity wouldn't have included its own genuine brand of the standard mystery-religion techniques, and techniques of mythic allegorization of mystery-religion experiencing, that everyone else had as a matter of routine, including the Mithraic mystery-religion of the oppressors, the Roman army.
It is simpler to assume that Christianity took advantage of the standard mystery-religion experiential allegory technology of the Hellenistic era, rather than to postulate that they didn't. Why wouldn't they have? On the principle that "Jesus the anti-Caesar should be given anything and everything that "divine" Caesar uses to prop up his power.
If Caesar uses mystery-religion to prop up his regime of hierarchical oppression, then the Jesus figure should be given a countering genuine mystery religion to prop up his democratic counter-regime.
The genuine experiential mystery-religion layer of Christianity was later eliminated as part of the co-opting of the people's Christianity by the power establishment -- as part of the wholesale transformation of Christianity to change it from an anti-hierarchy resistance movement to a hierarchical system controlled by the same old hierarchical power establishment (the Roman domination hierarchy).
The most compelling Jesus figure was Jesus the political anti-Caesar mystery-religion godman. One anti-Caesar resistance strategy that some Jesus schools promoted was to strengthen the Jesus figure by hyper-reifying and carnalizing him. Caesar is an actual man who claims divinity, so the divine King Jesus should be given flesh, to most effectively combat Caesar on the realm of flesh as well as the divine realm.
The other Jesus roles are subservient to the political role and the religious-experiencing mystery-religion godman role -- for example, the miracle stories can be explained as allegories for phenomena experienced in the Jesus mystery-religion, thus the miracle-worker Jesus is subsumed into the mystery-religion godman. And the miracle stories propped up Jesus' power and authority to strengthen the political anti-Caesar Jesus, thus the miracle-worker Jesus is subsumed into the King Jesus role.
The main, driving domains of allegory are not, say, healing and magic, but rather, political liberation of the oppressed, and mystery-religion initiation. Astrotheology is a major allegorical component, but the main action of allegory is the interpenetrating allegorical domains of politics and mystery-religion initiation. All other Jesus components serve these two domains. Jesus is, above all, the political godman -- the opponent of divine Caesar.
>With regard to the political issue, read Dr Mike Conley's page:
>He has asked for our comments on his page a few times - I think his work is worth a read - he posits a political agenda behind the formation of Christianity, with emphasis on martyrdom as the engine.
Conley has worked in Intelligence. He has a coherent and plausible, sober theory of how Christianity was co-opted by the power elite. At last, someone has a theory that makes sense.
He explains how "charity" was strictly controlled by the cunning Literalist authoritarians who gradually, successfully and *strategically* co-opted the various popular Gnostic groups. You had to get a license to beg -- but begging was made illegal.
The poor were made dependent on the increasingly Christian network that was forcefully pulled together by the power elite and were thus sucked into the system and brainwashed to become martyrs, and the Roman Empire authorities foolishly put on a show using these martyrs, which totally backfired.
Eventually, the power-elite Christian takeover specialists managed to co-opt and gather up all the popular, egalitarian Gnostic movements and turn them into a cancerous parallel hierarchy that finally, after 313, surpassed and engulfed the Roman Empire. This explains all the questions that assaulted me when reading several histories of Christianity: what was *really* motivating all the early, bloody, supposed "theology debates"?
Conley shows how the fictional "Jerusalem church" and fictional apostles such as James and Peter were mouthpieces for the power-elite takeover strategists in Rome, and the fictional Paul was a mouthpiece that was created by Gnostic groups such as Marcion's but was caught in a tug of war.
The authoritarian elite in Rome tried to take over the figure of Paul as a mouthpiece and make him condemn the Gnostics; the Gnostics then put forth more utterances by the Paul character counter-condemning the authority of the apostles and false teachers -- that is, the elite in Rome. It was a bloody takeover battle waged on a front that was largely in the world of fiction -- fascinating! And fully compatible with Freke & Gandy's portrayal of the Gnostic/Literalist battles.
What was *really* at stake, in terms of power and wealth? Clearly, these early debates were wars of power that were merely pretending to be about theology. Conley has directly addressed just these questions and provides solid, sensible, plausible, realistic, sober solutions.
I strongly recommend printing out and reading these four articles in his Christianity section. http://thecosmiccontext.de/
Conley's political-operations analysis is excellent. The worst problem with his analysis is it seems to assume that if Christianity wasn't really about supernatural happenings, then as a religion, it must have only been deception with no true religious content. But Ken Wilber's Integral Theory would advise distinct yet interpenetrating, separate analyses of these aspects of the spread and takeover of Christianity:
o The truly political (and conspiratorial strategy) aspects.
o The truly social aspects.
o The truly religious aspects.
Freke and Gandy's Jesus Mysteries and especially Lost Goddess show how the original Christianity was based on experiential mystery-religion type initiation and was later taken over and distorted by the Literalist power-mongering hierarchical authoritarians. Conley, in his focus on political conspiracy strategy, distorts early Christianity because he treats it as though it is nothing *but* a successful conspiratorial plot to infiltrate and take over the Roman Empire.
We need to be sensitive to how Christianity *changed* as it gradually was taken over and distorted from an inter-religion Gnostic experiential approach that was merely cast in political form (religion innovatively cast in political terms), to an authoritarian supernaturalist Literalist political operation (elite, amoral, ruthless power-politics disguised as a religion). This steady takeover and change from Gnostic to Literalist happened gradually between perhaps 100 BCE to 500 CE.
>The only monkey wrench in this christ con theory is the martyrdom of early literalists church fathers such as Justin and Origen. . Were they just patsies of some unknown conspirators who duped them into exposing themselves into a certain death or were they just the victim of their own passion for power such that the romans discovered that the church fathers were using the poor as martyrs to achieve power?
That is a topic to investigate. I expect there will be a simple, easy answer such as that their martyrdom was a fiction or hoax. I am fully committed to the Christ con paradigm as I described, regarding the actual origins of Christianity, as a working framework for investigation, so there is no chance of any martyred church fathers overthrowing the overall hypothesis. I am prepared to fully bracket off any such problems to continue other research within the paradigm.
I agree that your question is highly important for testing the conspiracy paradigm. I feel certain that the familiar portrayal of Christian martyrdom is entirely distorted and, so to speak, the opposite of what really happened. We are accustomed to reading about a certain supernaturalist way of thinking about early Christianity, in conjunction with reading about a certain way of thinking about the supposed martyrs.
In other words, a certain interpretive framework has been pushed on us vigorously throughout the centuries, but my overall main point here is that that whole framework, that whole paradigm, that whole way of thinking and "explanation" of who held what motivations, stinks of strategic distortion -- *it is not plausible*; it is only plausible if you obediently kneel to the priests and accept supernaturalist thinking.
We have been told that the early Christians and church fathers were supernaturalists -- just like we have been *told* that the Drug War is about trying to reduce drug use.
Dan Russell (http://www.drugwar.com) provides an entirely different reading, an entirely different paradigm, for interpreting the whole "phony Drug War" -- instead of accepting and uncritically buying into the maudlin official portrayal of what the Drug War is about, do like Arnold S. in the movie Total Recall saying to the psychologist as Arnold shoots him, "Bullshit!"
Even if some church fathers were martyred, I say to the conventional interpretation of that, "Bullshit!" because that interpretation is always put forth within a supernaturalist paradigm. The paradigm is the important thing. The details are secondary. Compare Van Til's innovative theology -- instead of trying to "prove" to the atheist humanist skeptic that they ought to believe Christianity, Van Til thinks more in terms of two incommensurable paradigms.
When I was asked by an unread evangelical Christian to review the book Evidence That Demands a Verdict, I immediately noticed that the book generally succeeds at constructing a worldview or reality tunnel (Robert Anton Wilson) that is, *on its own terms*, more or less consistent. So I have the idea "Oh, well if you'll believe *that*, then I suppose you must believe this, and this, and this, and this too!"
Such a paradigm shift occurred in the Protestant Reformation (the Magisterial Reformation, not the Radical Reformation). The Catholic church had been putting forth a certain more or less self-consistent *paradigm* of what Christianity was all about.
The Reformers did two things: first, they cried "Bullshit!". Second, they worked on formulating alternative *paradigms* -- such as the authoritarian alternative called the Magisterial Reformation, which won out, and the egalitarian Radical Reformation, which was severely suppressed.
So must we do the same for the received view of the origins of Christianity. First, cry "Bullshit!" Then, work to formulate more plausible alternative paradigms of interpretation and explanation to radically reconfigure the data, claims, meaning, *motives*, ... like what I think is most important for a deep expose of the phony "Drug War": *follow the money*.
If we were merely to analyze the spread of Christianity in terms of "follow the money", we would immediately see that the received view is completely false smokescreen acting as a cover for why, where, when, ... Christianity actually started and eventually took over the Roman Empire.
This amounts to two paradigms: the Gnostic telling of what happened (the new paradigm), and the Literalist/Supernaturalist/authoritarian telling of what happened (the received view). The paradigms, which more or less you have to either swallow one of them hook line and sinker, or so swallow the other one, can be defined something like this:
The received view (there's only a single version of this view): believe all of the following:
o There are spirit creatures
o Jesus existed
o Jesus was miraculously resurrected
o The Bible stories are literally true
o People were martyred for the reasons that we've been told by theologian-historians, and early Christians were supernaturalists who approved of the Roman consolidation of the various groups of Christians;
o The Inquisition was motivated by concern for people's souls
The new view (many versions of this need to be defined): believe all of the following:
o Spirit creatures (demons and angels) are metaphors for egoic thinking and insightful ideas and post-egoic thinking
o There was no Jesus
o The stories had him narrowly escape death
o The Bible stories were intended and originally understood as mythic allegories for altered-state religious experiencing (like the mystery religions)
o People were martyred as part of a church-and-empire takeover plot by strategists in Rome (or the supposed martyrs and martyrdoms were a hoax)
o Early Christians were initiation-allegorists who were horrified at the Roman takeover and destructive, anything-it-takes commandeering and forced consolidation of the various groups of Christians.
o The Inquisition began the moment the power-elite in Rome started taking over and forcefully consolidating the Gnostic (experiential initiation) groups of Christians.
We who know the received view is a big pack of lies must do a deep rewrite of what martyrdom is all about. There certainly was a takeover conspiracy on the part of the elites in Rome, according to this new research paradigm; the only question is, what were the exact details; what was *really* behind the supposed martyrs?
First of all, for example, *were* there really so many martyrs, or not, and if there were some, what would they actually tell us if they could, about the money and motives and beliefs of all who were involved? According to the new paradigm, the martyrs, if indeed there were any, or the persecuted Gnostics, would tell a completely different overall story of what the Christianity battles are actually all about, compared to the received view.
This technique of grouping sets of beliefs into all-or-nothing paradigms is powerful. It can be applied to the phony Drug War the same way. Either you swallow all these beliefs as an integrated set, or, all these other beliefs (and motives) are true as a set instead.
There is a single Received View about the Drug War, and it's time to start formulating one or more alternative paradigms *not* for "how to solve the drug problem" -- someone suggested the latter in this discussion group and it was a great opportunity for me to totally condemn that way of thinking -- but rather, new paradigms for understanding the overall so-called "Drug War" itself, asking "What is it *really* all about?"
We can't solve a problem before asking first, "What is the situation *really* all about?" -- especially, "What is the money flow?" That is the single most important question to raise for studying the origin of Christianity and for studying the so-called "Drug Problem" (or as the rebels put it, the "Drug War Problem").
Are we investigating the "Rise of Christianity", or the "Takeover of Christianity"? Who took over whom? Did "the Christians" take over "the Roman authorities"? Or, as the new paradigm might instead emphasize, did the Roman authorities take over the Christians? What we have had, in Christianity, is actually the old Roman Empire -- the woman who rides the beast -- *disguised as Christianity*!
Myth-religion-mysticism themes in the current Caesar 2-part TV miniseries
According to part 1 of the , around 50 BC, Julius Caesar's daughter's teacher, Appolonius, a slave knowing all about philosophy, was released by the daughter from prison and from pending crucifixion. But he explained to her that he wanted to be crucified, because that was the way to his dignity. This was well before Christianity, and the logic is explained to some extent by Riley's book. Slaves and many crucified men are shown in the movie.
Crucifixion and ransomed release was portrayed. Julius and fellow travellers were tied to crosses in the rising sea by pirates. Breathing challenges and the slow unavoidable, inevitable, predestined, fatal necessity of death would be similar to that of regular crucifixion. After the prisoners were put in this situation of fatal destiny, they bargained a ransom/release price with the pirates.
A main theme was that the pirate empire/kingdom cut off Rome's Egyptian grain supply and the city was destined to run out of grain.
The goths are walled in and the men have to decide whether to eat each other to survive, or release their women and children like a sacrifice to the gods to keep their gods alive.
Cupbearing pretty dolled-up boys are shown. (Cupbearers are supposed to drink the king's wine to test it for poison. The dictator is poisoned to death.
Distrust of kings (dictators) is portrayed vividly, and the fear that Julius would be made king -- part of the basis for the Jesus lifestory. The senate is terrified of themselves, of each other, with complete paranoia, fearing that giving too much power to one of them will surely corrupt the leader, forming a tyrannical dictatorship that discards all civilized laws and rampantly murders many enemies. The problem of enmity and trust dominates, and allies switching sides, and complete inability to trust anyone.
Power-coercion deals are shown several times. I have the power to kill you or let you live. I will let you live if you do X (that benefits me).
When standing up to the dictator, Julius claims descent from the gods, and has a (coat of arms?) to prove it.
Coercively forcing someone's will: unlike Julius, (Proclus?) caved into the dictator and let his will be coercively forced: the dictator permitted him to live, and P. divorced his wife in return.
One Jesus, Many Christs: The Truth About Christian Origins
Jesus as Greco-Roman hero. Myth and divinisation in hero stories of the day.
Heroism as a mystical metaphor is opening up to my Core Theory. Being a hero means to choose death and personal integrity (and perfect willingness even to suffer) over life and non-integrity. Always read "death" first as "ego death", not bodily death.
When the dictator said to bring the heart of Julius, a pig's heart was passed off as that of Julius. This would explain sacrifice of pigs: their hearts look just like a human heart. A pig's heart is given to represent you giving up your own heart.
A pierced heart in Greco-Roman myth symbolizes "inevitable, unavoidable, fated death" -- death by realizing fatedness.
A tragic mask, perhaps a gorgon death-mask (like a decaying head) was shown, used by a childrens' entertainer. The subject is Alexander cutting the gordion knot prior to world conquest. I think the god Apollo was shown whispering the solution to Alexander.
Part I of Julius Caesar on TV was somewhat interesting. How I wish they'd portray entheogenic wine and mystery initiations.
In the context of late antiquity, worshipping a defeated rebel is a slap in the face of the entire pagan system of Ruler Cult. The Ruler Cult takes it for granted that the military victor is to be worshipped as divine.
Why are early Christians against paganism? It's socio-political: pagan worship is involved in emperor worship, the worship and divinization of worldly power that is claimed to be united with divine power. The act of radically separating divine power from worldly power is therefore seditious. Jesus "merely" claims that he doesn't compete with Caesar because Jesus' kingdom is "merely" the spiritual kingdom and not the worldly kingdom -- but that's actually seditious; the Christians denied what Caesar's kind of power claimed, that it was both divine and worldly.
The downtrodden, including the post-temple Jews, were forced to concede worldly power to Caesar (and the power-establishment that centered around him), but they withheld granting him spiritual power. The figure of the spiritual victor defeated militarily perfomed this severing function, and was enhanced by the idea that Jesus never fought militarily at all; he thus was granted all spiritual power, severed clean from all military power.
The Jesus figure was declared, by those who wanted to make this kind of dualistic severance, to have won the battle that really matters. Future military action on the part of Jesus was assserted in apocalypses, but only as spiritual metaphor and allegory. The oppressors were strictly granted worldly power, and then the dualist move was to totally condemn and demonize worldly power, against the power-worshipping Ruler Cult and the official civilization built around it. This is what Jesus meant politically to the pagan world between the temple destruction (70 CE) and Constantine (313 CE).
The exclusivity claim of Christianity is political, particularly focused against the claims of Caesar, not religious or against the claims of other religions per se such as Buddhism or the Greek mystery-religions.
The "only" of Christianity is a negation of things on the *political* realm, not of things on the religious realm as such. It is against abusing the religious realm by claiming that it sanctions one's political power. Christianity was a mystery religion that was also an exoteric religion that was designed to offer substantial political resistance to those who tried to prop up political oppression with the accepted religious principle of Providence.
Authentic initiation religions provided an experience that revealed the hidden workings of Providence. Christianity included a legitimate entheogen-based esoteric initiation religion, but you have to understand that that was simply standard, a dime a dozen. It's easy to create a genuine mystery religion: use entheogens, and create a mythic story and dramatic sequence to convey the various cognitive loosening and ego-death experiences and the revealing of Necessity/Fate. Revelation of metaphysical divine Providence is fine and the grandest experience, but the oppressed wanted to know how to *harness* the mystery-religion revelation, which was abused by despots, to turn it instead into a political resistance movement.
Christianity, in the beginning, was created to provide just such a function: a counter-politicized mystery-religion to offer resistance and particularly to defuse to claims of the Caesars to be divinely, religiously, or metaphysically ordained in their rulership and actions. The ruler-cult used the mystery-religion revelation of Providence/Fate/Necessity to prop up their political rulership; the oppressed created a new packaging of the usual mystery religion, explicitly designed to radically split apart and separate the metaphysical (religious) realm from the political realm.
The doctrine of "Jesus is the only name by which we must be saved", or "Jesus is the only way to the Kingdom of God, which is not of this earth," came about in the same era as when the Caesars were being worshipped as divine saviors -- around 100 BCE to 300 BC. See the section "Ruler Cult", pages 185-199, in Backgrounds of Early Christianity (2nd ed., 1993), by Everett Ferguson.
To the early Christians who were told to worship Caesar as their divine savior, "Jesus only" meant that the metaphysical or religious realm cannot be used to justify anything in the political realm. The Jewish idea of kingship was admired by the early Christians because it forbade the king from claiming to be divinely ordained and approved in all his actions.
The scriptural exclusivity claims about Jesus the Christ is the most serious or absolute roadblock to an esoteric reading of Christianity. For any universalist, philosophical thinker and theorist, including a theorist of self-control cybernetics, it is *axiomatic* that religious truth is independent of the particular, local, "tribal" religion of Christianity. The main problem of Christianity for the theorist of religious insight is to explain how a scripturally exclusivist religion can be interpreted in a univerally true way.
The canonical scriptures of the Christian religion are set up so that they only way to move to higher thinking is to firmly reject the lower, literalist interpretation selectively, carefully "rightly dividing" the scriptures into lower and higher expressions. I read a pamphlet and short book asserting the Biblical exclusivity. The scriptures certainly say there is "no other name by which we must be saved", and that Jesus is the only way. The only way to solve this problem of exclusivity is through "the Holy Spirit of Interpretation" or "inspired hermeneutics".
Protestants claim that scripture is important, while Tradition (meaning the Catholic church's interpretation) is relatively unimportant. Mystic and mythic theologians such as characterize the Eastern Orthodox mystical version of Christianity are inclined to consider the Holy Spirit more important than either scripture or Tradition. The Catholic church claims that Tradition is more important than scripture -- there is some truth in that claim, in that there's no way scripture can possibly be the most important or leading factor, because scripture is at least in large part allegorical, and allegory requires interpretation. Treating scripture as self-sufficient is what the Catholics call "bibliolatry" -- worshipping a book as God.
The radical protestants, the "Enthusiasts" such as Muntzer were closer to the truth than the magisterial Protestants or the Bible-only Protestants, because the "enthusiasts" placed the Holy Spirit over the scriptures in contrast to the Catholic coherent setup of putting Tradition (the institutional church) over the scriptures. The Catholics and Enthusiasts make sense: scripture cannot stand alone and must either be interpreted by Tradition or the Holy Spirit. Without some kind of transcendent interpretation, you don't have inspired scripture available to you, but only words. It's no wonder the Church normally forbade possession of the Bible and forbade translation into the vernacular understood by the people.
There are only two alternatives for religiously reading scripture: tradition, and the Holy Spirit. John MacArthur is an author who defends the exclusivity of Christianity. For example, nonbelievers in Jesus (including homosexuals and other moral transgressors) are going to hell for eternal punishment. He tries to chain Christianity to such thinking, and rightly points out that the New Testament asserts exclusivity in the savior name of "Jesus".
He convinces me that the New Testament indeed asserts, in at least a couple scriptures, that "Jesus", or the "name of Jesus", is the only way to "heaven", "the Kingdom of God", or "salvation". Universal theorists of religion must deal with this exclusivity and integrate it fully and satisfyingly and not avoid it by denying that such exlusivity really is part of Biblical Christianity. There are other claims to be so dealt with as well, but it's easy to discount the miracles as allegorical. It's much harder to so dismiss the exclusivity claim as allegorical or a later addition that's not really a genuine part of the canon.
Given: the canon says Jesus is the only way to "salvation", "heaven", or "the Kingdom of Heaven".
Problem: interpret and explain Christianity as a universally esoterically true expression and embodiment of religious truth.
Methodological principle: Model Christianity as a 2-level system with a barrier or veil impeding moving from the lower level to the higher level.
Methodological principle: all philosophically or theoretically disagreeable aspects of Christian scripture belong to the lower level of the Christian system. The lower level fully and comfortably accomodates all such disagreeable scriptures and scripture-based doctrines.
Methodological principle: Christianity is a political-styled mystery religion. It is solved in terms of political allegories of personal primary religious experiences. It is also, in a secondary and essential way, concerned with actual political emancipation.
Methodological principle: There are (generally) actual historical and strategic reasons for the scriptural claims.
Methodological principle: Wherever possible, find a way to integrate and explain rather than dismiss disagreeable, non-universalist scriptures.
One valid computed solution (or, "a proposed solution"): Jesus was claimed to really exist and to be the only way to the Kingdom of God, and is about to return to overthrow actual worldly political rulers, because this reificiation and exclusivism shuts out the claims of emperors and kings to have divine sanction for oppressing people. Any ruler who comes along, even if he brings esoteric "savior"-based mystery religions, might claim to be ruler of the cosmos who was elected by Fate and Divine Providence, but the reified mythic figure of Jesus serves to shut out *that* kind of competitor. The exlusivity claim of kingdom-salvation through Jesus only serves *not* to shut out Buddhist "salvation" or Islamic "salvation", but rather, to shut out any rulers who claim that their oppressive regime is ordained by the ruler of the cosmos.
The correct translation and interpretation, or unpacking, or exegesis, of the claim "salvation is only through Jesus" is the following:
No ruler is ordained by the transcendent ruler of the universe to rule over and oppress us; Jesus, a real man though uniquely identified with God, is permanently assigned as God's ordained cosmos-ruler, therefore no other man can ever claim that his rulership is divinely ordained.
Thus the word "only" in "only Jesus" serves not to shut out other religions so much as to shut out other people from claiming divine election. Emperors and kings ask to be worshipped as God or as God's ordained proper ruler to be obeyed, but the religion of Judaism-Christianity is a political-religion that give people strength and prevents them from aquiescing to such claims of divinely ordained political oppression.
There may be other explanations of how it can make full sense to state truly that Jesus is the only savior or that Christianity is the only religion that is true and that all other religions are false. If you accept the challenge of finding universal religious truth in the Christian canon, you must appreciate what an obstinate barrier and challenge the exclusivity claim is -- it's a flaming sword blocking entrance of the heaven of theoretical integrity and success. It is tempting to give up, cave in, and just dismiss such scriptures rather than conquering and overcoming them through transcendent interpretation or leading-edge higher criticism. There may be some other good explanations of the *functional purpose* of the exclusivist claim that "Jesus is the only way to heaven."
The main enemy that Christian exclusivism functions to depose is not other religious systems themselves, but rather, politically oppressive "divine emperors" and their religious frameworks they use to prop up their regimes. If you want enlightenment and religious truth, *yes*, there could be many religions that provide those.
Christianity has been adopted for reasons of political emancipation in various countries because it provides a harmless ruler: Jesus, ruler of all the world for all times, helping to shut out and reduce the power of other, earthly, politically oppressive rulers and their own religious frameworks they design and use to prop up their regimes.
Two aspects of Jesus' kingship are important: Jesus as lower, egoic thinking, wretched on the Cross, represents the enlightened mind's rejection of sovereign egoic agency. Christ Pantocrater, ruler of the world and cosmos, represents the Jewish-Christian refusal to grant any worldly ruler God-ordained legitimacy. To *all* earthly kings they say "you may have stumbled into power, but God does not authorize your power".
This same idea explains the early rapid spread of the Muslim religious-political concept "there is no God but God": no worldly ruler has divine authorization to command and oppress people; all divine rulership resides and remains forever in heaven, above all possible rulers who are in the world.
Transcendently true religions of enlightenment and moral purity are easy to create. Those are all *religiously* mature and perfected and complete -- but which of them *also* are worthy *politically*? Christianity is a contender for being not only esoterically true, but profoundly expressive of the radical separation between earthly and transcendent/cosmic rulership.
The oppressed in the Roman empire were tired of oppressive emperors who propped up their regime by tying together Fate/Necessity/Determinism/Heimarmene with divine ordainment of their rulership. "Everyone agrees that Necessity/Heimarmene/Fate rules the cosmos, and you can see that I have ended up on my emperial throne, therefore you must admit that the ruler of the cosmos has put me here, and worship me as God and Savior as I have full power and right to have you put to the sword."
What was the problem that the oppressed majority, the converts to Christianity, were up against when they formed the doctrine of "Jesus is the only savior, the only way to the Kingdom of God"? They were, in bloody fact, up against the problem of military emperors who demanded to be worshipped as divinely ordained savior and ruler of the world, and eventually as God, as Caesar Pantocrater. People who defend other religions as being religiously valid, and consider the "Jesus only" claim to mean the denial that such religions contain religious truth, are reading the exclusivist claim out of context.
The concept of "only", understood in the context in which it was created, in fact maps to the concept of "not Caesar". It essentially amounted to a way of denying that *any* man could claim that his oppressive reign is religiously, divinely ordained. That claim was based on the logic of heimarmene/fate/necessity/determinism, which is metaphysically true and is a religious high revelation of truth, but has often been abused by political leaders who say that since they ended up in power, their power is religiously authorized.
Of course when Christianity itself came into political power, it was used to oppress people, and was so used even when the officially authorized metaphysics more or less rejected heimarmene/fate/necessity/determinism. A main principle of metaphysical religion is that although metaphysically we are unfree, the metaphysical level is absolutely distinct from the political level of our existence and experience. Metaphysical unfreedom, which is a highest truth of religion, absolutely does not justify *political* or social unfreedom.
Even if a regime of oppression and slavery happens to be in place, whether or not religion has the power to overthrow that regime and release the prisoners to bring them *political* freedom, the *metaphysical* unfreedom that is religiously true *cannot* be used to legitimize whatever political system is in place. So the main political meaning of Jesus's ascension to the court of God, current rulership at the right hand of God, and soon-return as the worldly ruler, is that metaphysical unfreedom cannot ever be used to religiously legitimate any worldly political system.
There cannot ever be any worldly political system that is religiously legitimated. Most absolutely, generally, and abstractly, "Jesus as only savior" translates to "religious truth never can legitimate the political realm". Religious truth always remains profoundly distinct from the political realm. God does not ordain rulers or politicians! There is no such thing, and can never be such a thing, as a "Divinely ordained politician."
The Caesars said: Divine Necessity granted me the right to rule over you. Worship me as God and Savior, or die by my sword.
The creators of Christianity said: A principle I will die to defend and promote, on behalf of all politically oppressed people, is that Divine Necessity, even if true, never ordains and authorizes any political ruler. My only emperor, king, lord, and savior who is divinely ordained is the god-man-*king* Jesus, who is already ruling in heaven, and not only that, is about to return and depose you. So to Hell with you and your claim of receiving divine sanction for your rulership and crown and scepter from Fate. Your scepter is strictly a mundane controllership; you are not cosmocrater or Pantocrater.
What about the wretched crucifixion representing the mystery-initiation, mystic altered-state experience of one's own trial and willing condemnation of the false sovereign ego? Here is where the esoteric Hellenistic mystery religions come together with the Jewish allegorized denial of Caesar's abuse of Fate as justification for his oppressive regime.
Here is why the Christian literalized mystery-religion took off like wildfire in the Hellenistic environment where experiential religious truth was easy to find in the many mystery religions. Everyone granted that all the religions were religiously true and led to spiritual perfection, completion, and full transcendent revelation. That kind of ecumenical pluralism wasn't an issue, because it was readily granted.
When, then, did the mystery-religion which claimed exclusivity as the only way to enter the "Kingdom of God" succeed so readily? What was the difference in this experiential mystery-drama/allegory compared to its competitors? Only *this* religion put forth a figure posed as the *kind* of entity that would compete with and shut out the Caesars' claim of being divinely ordained as ruler.
In terms of religion proper, the mystery-religion of Jesus was completely equivalent to the other mystery religions -- no worse, no better; they all were functionally and systemically complete. But just as the Caesars attempted to drag down the divine to grant earthly legitimacy to their reign, Christianity was the only Hellenistic religion to show concern about politics and the politically oppressed, but also to provide the inverse move from that which the Caesars attempted.
Christianity was especially designed to counter and negate the standard claim of the Caesars; Christianity explicitly made a religion out of the religious principle that the truth revealed by the mystery religions -- *metaphysical* unfreedom, Fate, Necessity, determinism, or heimarmene -- cannot be used to justify and grant authority to any person.
The divine rulership of Jesus-only meant that metaphysical unfreedom does not justify political unfreedom. "Jesus is Lord, there is no other name by which we must be saved" clearly meant to the early Christians that no Caesar, emperor, or king can use Fate (heimarmene, Necessity) to claim that their reign could be divinely ordained and justified.
"No other savior" doesn't mean Buddah or Mohammed or Krishna or Allah or Dionysus or Mithras -- it means *Caesar", because the Caesars, with bloody sword in hand, were shoving down people's throats that because Necessity rules the cosmos, as is proven to all the civilized world in the religious experience of the mystery initiations, rulers and their regimes must be worshipped and accepted as divinely ordained and predestined. "Jesus only" was a solution to a problem, and politics has always been in an adulterous relation with religion, so what was the problem for which the figure of Jesus, as the only savior, was seen and eagerly received as the perfect solution? The problem was that Caesars, kings, and emperors claimed, literally, to be "Savior and Lord, God's appointed divine ruler of heaven and earth."
Judaism refused to worship any person as God. In the Gospel stories, the Jewish leaders were offended that Jesus dared claim divinity, a special relation with God. That story of the Jewish leaders being offended by Jesus was an exact allegory for the offense that all oppressed people in the Roman empire felt when the Caesars claimed to be divinely chosen, ordained, and authorized.
This is why the Jewish-Christian story was immediately understood and deeply felt by all the oppressed people across the Roman empire, not just Palestinian Jews and not just Alexandrian or even diaspora Jews. This also explains in what way Gnosticism doesn't emphasize the most relevant points that constitute the essence of Christianity.
The Christian story is not only an emphatically political-style embodiment of mystery-religion ideas, to provide a brand of Hellenistic mystery-religion suitable for the distinctly Jewish way of thinking, but it spread among the Gentiles -- throughout the oppressed and their political symphathizers in the Roman empire -- because it specifically encoded an idea worth dying for (not to concede that many did) about the relationship between politics and religion: no man can say "I am divinely predestined and ordained to rule over you."
The religious metaphysical doctrine of Necessity applies so evenly throughout the universe, it means nothing to point to a particular event -- the arrival of a king at his throne -- and declare that that event was specially foreordained. We could view this as a principle of the democracy of Necessity -- no man is any more ordained and fated and predestined than any other man to rule over others. All are equally ordained, none are more ordained than others.
Abuse of Necessity was rampant and can explain why in the early democracy of Athens, revealing the mysteries publically and openly was forbidden by death, by the council of Areopagus (council of the citizens of the democracy). Fate/Necessity, or the hidden truth of metaphysical unfreedom, had been chronically abused by despotic kings. The problem was how to change from the king hogging up a greater share or command of Necessity than those over whom he ruled. During mystery initiation, making every initiate a king (a co-ruler with Providence) empowers the initiate against any claim of the king to be divinely ordained in his actions.
The initiate can say, "You say you are a divinely ordained king, appointed and approved by Divine Necessity to rule over me? Well, I, too, am a divinely ordained king, brother. I, too, like everyone, am a co-ruler with Providence, and just as much as you were divinely approved to rule over me, so was I divinely approved to overthrow you."
Metaphysical freedom is false, practical freedom is true, political freedom is good -- and all three kinds of freedom are radically distinct. "Jesus is the only name by which we must be saved" means Caesar is *not* a divinely ordained savior; it means that, as a universal principle, the realm of politics is radically distinct from the realm of religious metaphysics; metaphysical unfreedom never legitimately justifies political unfreedom or anything in the political realm.
>In a nutshell you are saying that the early church fathers main reason for literalist orthodox church was to usurp the power of the Roman Emperors. This would explain their readiness to be martryed for a historical jesus which they must have known was a myth. Yet, in there own attempt at refuting the divinity of the emperor they also set themselves as demigogues which was investigated rather thoroughly by Elaine Pagels in her seminal book = The Gnostic Gospels.
>On the other hand the gnostics claimed that anyone had a pipeline to god . There was no need for any bishop or priest. The gnostics would draw lots to see which member would do a specific service in a *meeting*. In the end the orthodox church did a great disservice to mankind when their scheme backfired and the Roman emperor Constantine declared at the Council of Nicea in 325 c.e. that christianity would be the new roman state religion.
>This would evolve into the catholic church with the pope as the spokesman for Christ and supposedly infallible in matters of dogma and faith. This lead to the dark ages and all the other holy horrors of the powermongers of the Roman state religion which eventually brought their terrors and mind control to the rest of the world
This kind of backfiring clearly and understandably occurred. It's as though the people's rebellion was commodified and taken over by the power establishment, which is a smart move by the power establishment. When an effective, or at least popular, movement of moral, religious, and political rebellion comes along, instead of resisting it by force, undermine it by commandeering it. And so the New Testament, which essentially recorded the original rebellious ideas, became illegal to possess.
Be careful about generalizing about the motives of the "early church fathers". Different people in different years had different motives. Which era is "early"? The timing of the creation of the official written Jesus stories is very debatable, and we know even less about the oral traditions. The scenario I prefer is that the *really* early church fathers helped create the rebellious savior of the underdogs, and then the *later* "early church fathers" tried to use that now popular figure to put themselves in power, and with Constantine, finally succeeded. The rebel Jesus was probably not created or initially made popular by powermongering priests.
I also want to read about the post printing-press era in which the Jesus figure again became a political/social weapon to resist the power establishment. Thirdly, he acted that way in Liberation Theology of recent Latin American history. Jesus is a potent political token and people fight over him -- the people and the power establishment battle to define Jesus and claim him for their own side.
>The early church fathers' main reason for literalist orthodox church was to usurp the power of the Roman Emperors.
Or, to gain power for themselves, just as the emperors wanted power for themselves. I wouldn't say "usurp" so much as "try to get a piece of the pie of worldly power". The original rebel Jesus expressed the desire to be liberated from the yoke of the emperors -- not to gain the power which the emperors held, to use it to then oppress others. But insofar as the rebel Jesus figure became a powerful figure, the powermongers of all sorts naturally wanted to gain his power and use it to their own oppressive ends.
>This would explain their readiness to be martryed for a historical jesus which they must have known was a myth.
I'm skeptical and wonder if you are mixing up the powermongering priests' motives with the motives of the earlier advocates of the Christian religion. The whole "fact" of martrydom, who was martyred and why, and who stood to gain what, needs critical review. I'm more comfortable analyzing "earliest" Christianity, before the supposed age of martyrs. However, it is a tough question:
Why was the hyperliteralist Jesus created and why did anyone adhere to him to the death, if so they did, rather than sacrificing to the Ruler Cult?
That question must be posed in the esoteric sense as well, considering "death" as ego death. Martydom can be an allegory for mystic initiation. It's not easy to sort out political actualities and mystery initiation from the same era.
According to http://www.users.bigpond.com/pontificate/4.htm, the cultic story of Julius Caesar includes:
>>1. Although it is still not common knowledge, Caesar was renowned for his magnanimity in introducing a comprehensive policy of clementia, wherein he pardoned even his most bitter enemies. The ancient historians comment on this policy with incredulity.
>> 2. On the verge of being proclaimed King, he was betrayed and murdered by those he had saved. His friend Marcus Brutus sanctioned this act and participated in it. And his trusted general, Decimus Brutus, was an essential part of the conspiracy. The whole Senate fled from the scene.
>> 3. The evening before his murder, he attended an intimate supper where wine was passed around and he prophetically spoke of his death. The arch-traitor, Decimus Brutus, was present at the table.
>> 4. Immediately prior to his assassination, Caesar was mocked in his royal purple robe whilst wearing his crown of laurel.
>> 5. When Caesar was attacked, his 1st lieutenant and religious deputy, Mark Antony, who feared for his own life, fled, disguised himself, and hid well into the night. All others present who had sworn to protect Caesar fled in fear.
>> 6. Caesar's body was ferried home amidst public mourning and wailing women.
>> 7. Marcus Brutus later committed suicide, when he realized that his Republican cause was lost. Decimus Brutus was later executed.
>> 8. Caesar was subsequently resurrected as a God - divus iulius.
Assume that standard practice in a mystery-religion is to have the initiates reinstantiate the cultic dramatic story, with a crowd playing supporting parts and the new initiates playing central parts. The initiation drama would include the last supper, using entheogenic, visionary mixed wine. The initiates would be ritually "betrayed" by someone playing a part.
The initiate would experience being attacked or threatened or mock-killed by those acting as the senators. The initiates would experience ego death, would acknowledge the uncontrollable transcendent controller, labels such as 'Julius' or 'Zeus' could be applied to the initiate or the higher control level, and the initiate would be divinized as a follower of the divine Julius, "son of god, god made manifest, savior, lord, ascended to rule in heaven", and all that standard Ruler Cult inflated honorific verbiage.
Was there genuine religious experiencing in the Caesar cult? That's a misguided question -- there was genuine religious experiencing everywhere, routinely, in every school of philosophy and in every temple of every religion. If there is one thing people had to an overflowing extent, to the point of irrelevance and satiation, it was genuine entheogenic religious experiencing, so paradoxically, authentic religious experiencing falls out of the picture as a meaningful differentiator.
Doesn't popular magic prove that people were so starved for genuine religious experiencing, that they usually stooped to completely misunderstanding genuine religious experiencing? No, the opposite: everyone was so wallowing in genuine religious experiencing, it became debased, taken for granted, not put on a pedestal; everyone sensed no-free-will and sensed the divine transcendent control level so vividly, they felt like they could have a shot at harnessing and utilizing it, or effectively petitioning it.
We can take it for granted that Caesar's cult had genuine entheogenic religious experiencing, for the simple reason that such experiencing was available at every street corner. Caesar's last supper includes psychoactive wine and philosophical metaphysical discussion, in standard banquet fashion.
You could have the most flimsy, lame, garbled system of myth and yet still build a technically effective mystery-religion around it, using the entheogens and clumsy symbols to bring people to an experiential realization of no-free-will, followed by the return to normal controllership and thus "sacred kingship".