I think of blog created by former "Isaac Newton of information theory", William Dembski, "Uncommon Descent" as the Beacon of Intelligent Design, the primary venue of the intelligent design movement.
Dembski now has retired into a fellowship at the Dicovery Institute, the stronghold of the ID scam.
But there is money, good old $$$ in creationism - it doesn't matter what these people say or write, as long as it brings bread and butter on th table (with a little something on the side) they keep the charade of having found the ultimate scientif truth 'afloat' in the big tent of creationism.
In case you didn't know, ID is compatible with all kinds of creationism; the important point is to stand 100% by the inerrancy of the Bible. The Bible beats all science, the words of the Bible is the ultimate arbiter.
I wish I could present a collection of Dembski quotes; they says all there is to know about Intelligent Design and the attempt to turn people away from science by telling the world that science is crap, the Bible has the last word on scientific issues. Scinece should not be in the hands of scientists, a theocratic society would ensure a science not in opposition to holy scripture.
When doubta arise, the Bible is the last word. So simple, so easy, just follow the example of Dembski.
A link to the Florida Baptist Witness
Not quite what I had in mind but interesting anway.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Judge by yourself, get hold of "The Jesus Mysteries" and check out the numbered source references.
There's much more:
Philo was an eminent Jewish author who lived at the same time that Jesus is supposed to have lived and wrote around 50 works that still survive. They deal with history, philosophy, and religion, and tell us much about There is still Josephus, however, a younger contemporary of the apostle Paul. He wrote two famous history books, The Jewish Wars and the monumental Antiquities of the Jews. These two works are our most important sources of information on the history of the Jewish people during the first century of the Christian era. And here at last, as one might expect, we seem to find the evidence we are looking for. Josephus writes:
At about this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one might call him a man. For he was one who accomplished surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as are eager for novelties. He won over many of the Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon an indictment brought by the principal men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him from the very first did not cease to be attached to him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the holy prophets had foretold this and myriads of other marvels concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has to this day still not disappeared. 10
Josephus also tells us that when the "miracle-worker" was brought before Pilate, he concluded that Jesus was "a benefactor, not a criminal, or agitator, or a would-be king." Josephus relates that as Jesus had miraculously cured Pilate's wife of a sickness, Pilate let him go. However, the Jewish priests later bribed Pilate to allow them to crucify Jesus "in defiance of all Jewish tradition." 11 As for the resurrection, he tells us that Jesus' dead body could not have been stolen by his disciples, which was a common argument advanced against Christian claims that Jesus miraculously resurrected, since "guards were posted around his tomb, 30 Romans and 1,000 Jews"! 12
For hundreds of years these passages in Josephus were seized on by Christian historians as conclusive proof that Jesus existed. Critical scholarship, however, has revealed them to be much later additions to Josephus' text.13 They are not of the same writing style as Josephus and if they are removed from the text, Josephus’ original argument runs on in proper sequence. Writing at the beginning of the third century, Origen, whom modern authorities regard as one of the most conscientious scholars of the ancient Church, tells us that there is no mention of Jesus in Josephus and that Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Christ since he did not believe in any Jewish Messiah figure.14
Josephus was in fact a pro-Roman Jew. He was hated by his fellow countrymen as a collaborator, which led him to flee Judea and live in Rome until his death.15 Here he received patronage from two Emperors and a wealthy Roman aristocrat.16
Josephus does mention various would-be Jewish Messiah figures-about whom he is entirely uncomplimentary. At the time he was writing, the long held belief amongst Jews that their God would send them the Messiah to free his people from oppression had become an obsession. But Josephus had his own interpretation of what he calls this " ancient oracle.”17 He did not deny that it was a divine prophecy; but believed that his fellow Jews had misunderstood it completely. According to him, the prophesied ruler of the world had come in the person of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, who had happened to be proclaimed Emperor while in Judea! 18 It is absolutely inconceivable that Josephus could have, quite suddenly, broken with his style of writing, all his philosophical beliefs! and his characteristic political pragmatism to write reverentially about Jesus!
Early Christians who, like us, searched for historical evidence of Jesus' existence, would have seized on anything written by Josephus as conclusive proof. Yet early Christians do not mention Josephus. It is not until the beginning of the fourth century that Bishop Eusebius, the propagandist of the Roman Church, suddenly produced a version of Josephus which contained these passages.19 From that point onward, Josephus became the foundation for the historicity of Jesus.
Unable to provide any historical evidence for Jesus, later Christians forged the proof that they so badly needed to shore up their Literalist interpretation of the gospels. This, as we would see repeatedly, was a common practice.UNQUOTE
There's much more:
According to the gospels, Jesus is an innocent and just man who, at the instigation of the Jewish high priests, is hauled before the Roman governor Pilate and condemned to die on spurious charges. Exactly the same mythological motif is found five centuries earlier in Euripides' play The Bacchae, about Dionysus. Like Jesus in Jerusalem, Dionysus is a quiet stranger with long hair and a beard who brings a new religion. In the gospels, the Jewish high priests don't believe in Jesus and allege that "His teachings are causing disaffection amongst the people."146 They plot to bring about his death. In The Bacchae, King Pentheus is a tyrannical ruler who does not believe in Dionysus. He berates him for bringing "this new disease which fouls the land" and sends out his men to capture the innocent godman, announcing:
And once you catch him, he shall be stoned to death.
He'll wish he'd never brought his Bacchic rites to Thebes.147
Like the Jewish high priests who are appalled at Jesus' blasphemous claim to be the Son of God,148 King Pentheus rants in anger at stories of Dionysus' divine parentage:
Whatever the man may be, is not his arrogance
An outrage? Has he not earned a rope around his neck?149
Like Jesus, Dionysus passively allows himself to be caught and imprisoned. The guard who apprehends him tells King Pentheus:
We hunted him, and here he is. But Sir, we found The beast was gentle; made no attempt to run away, Just held his hands out to be tied; didn't turn pale, But kept his florid colour, smiling, telling us
To tie him up and run him in; gave us no trouble
At all, just waited for us. Naturally I felt
a bit embarrassed. "You'll excuse me, Sir," I said,
"I don't want to arrest you; it's the king's command."150
Translated excerpt from "Kristendom eller Psykologi? By Arne Duve, Oslo 1966.
Excerpt begins here at p. 63:
Jewish monotheism can be traced back to a single person, Moses. In this connection, interesting perspectives about whether Moses’ monotheism is an offshoot of the Egyptian monotheism that rose under Ikn-Aton – the heretic king. Freud discusses this supposition in his book – incidentally his last: Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion. The Egyptian pharaoh Amenophis IV ruled about 1350BCE, around the time when Moses must have been living. This pharaoh rose against the plethora of Egyptian gods, declaring that there is only one god – symbolised by the sundisk – Aton – the god of all people. He eagerly went about his work of reforming, a job he took very seriously. Amon had hitherto been the most important of the gods. His images and his name was removed, often chiselled away in all the temples. He changed his own name form Amenhopis, which means: Amon is pleased, to Ikn-Aton, meaning Aton rejoice.
The montotheistic interlude did not last for long. Iknaton died rather early from his queen Nefertite, and the ousted Amon-priests soon retrieved power. Under the successor to Iknaton – his son-in-law Tut-Ankh-Amon – it has all been restored to the old order, something also seen by his name.
It is possible that Moses was a Jewish or Egyptian Amon-priest that had been ousted after the Amon-priests had regained power, something that surely did not pass quietly. In any case, the connection between Moses and Egypt is conspicuous; he had been trained in all of Egypt’s wisdom, which means he must have been ordained as a priest, since priesthood at that time were custodians of society’s collected science and knowledge. The enormous temples and the knowledge required to build them attest to a formidable knowledge base.
Egypt’s religion most likely was influenced by religious ideas from the east – Sumer, Babylonia and Assur – countries that most likely also influenced the religion of the Israelites more directly.
Monotheism stood a much better chance of survival in Israel than in Egypt because of the social and psychological conditions mentioned earlier. The monotheistic Yahweh-religion was consciously shielded against any tendency towards polytheism. The deity was to be worshipped at only one place, images of the deity were forbidden; something that has been an important contribution to preservation of monotheism. If images of the god are made, they necessarily will display local variations that may tend to further diversification.
Yahweh originally was a deity residing in the Kadesj-oasis on the Sinai peninsula – by the caravan road from Egypt to the eastern Jordan country. The court well was a gathering place for the tribes of Siani. Traditions connected with Moses are linked with this oasis. The priests there were called Levites, a word that also in Arabic inscriptions signify holy persons initiated in a deity. The central religious festivity in the oasis of Kadesj was paesah (easter) that was celebrated during springtime when lambs were to be sacrificed and eaten in order to maintain thrift and growth of the herds.
Many of the characteristics of Yahweh suggests that he originated as a celestial god. Many traits fit with a moon-god, as exemplified by Sin in Babylon, where he in many places was the most important of the gods. He was especially revered in Ur – the city of Abraham. It is possible that both Sin as well as mount Sinai may be connected with the ancient Sumerian moon-god Sin.
The root of the Semitic word Sabbath is the Babylonian sabbatu, meaning (a) full moon. The day became a Yahweh-consecrated day whose characteristics were gradually became attached to the three other moon-phase days; the new moon – the receding moon - and no visible moon such that the Sabbath eventually became a free seventh day independent of the moon.
Many of the Sumerian religious myths and concepts have been carried over into the Yahweh-religion and thereby also into Christendom. The account of Noah and the Great Flood is of Sumerian origin. The biblical account does not depart much from its Sumerian roots.
The Jews compiled their holy scriptures to a whole that has become our Old Testament. The compilation consisted of the five books of Moses, the Prophets – altogether eight books, as well as the Scripts, consisting of the book of Psalms, The book of Job, the high song of Solomon, Rut’s book, the Laments, the Preacher, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Chronicles. The time of writing of the different books cannot be determined with absolute certainty, but especially by text-critic methods, some important results have been obtained. The five books of Moses were not authored by Moses. They are of a much later date, after settlement in Israel. In order to give commandments and laws characteristics of holiness, they were ascribed to Moses. During the integration of the four main sources that may be detected, respect for the sources have been so profound that errors have not been corrected even when contradictory. A number of conflicting accounts therefore may be found, as for example the two creation stories of Genesis 1. We find two different names for Moses’ father-in-law – namely Jetro and Reuel, two different numbers of animals that Noah took with him in the Ark and so on.
The oldest sources are probably from around 800 BCE. Possibly, some of the details may date back to Moses’ time and the time in the desert. The so-called priest’s source is the youngest, from the time of the stay in Babylon, probably an effort at keeping the Jews separate, to prevent assimilation. This source has been
a determinant force for the collected books of Moses and disposition of the contents, as it has been set up as a framework for all the five books. Thus begins Genesis 1., and thereby the Bible with the creation story from the priest-source, which belongs to the youngest layer of the Pentateuch or the S-scroll, that the books of Moses also have been called. The Jewish religion may in some ways be seen as a typical product of blending since there hardly is any element of importance in it that does not have some parallels in a neighbouring religion. And still, the Yahweh-religion is something new. It may be likened with the aspects of a new invention. All its elements may be old and well known, but the combination is new, and therefore, something new has been made.
It became the world-historic task of the Jews, through suffering and sorrow to bring monotheism and universalism to all peoples. This they could do because they are a vital and expansive people that can stand stress and are able to compensate defeat.
The Jewish religion became the sign around which the nation collected, and the overruling idea was that Yahweh had chosen Israel, which therefore was bound with their god by an unbreakable pact. The religious coherence of the Jews have enabled them to stay together as one people throughout thousands of years in spite of often brutal and fanatical oppression. But a compensating religion will by such methods only be further strengthened.
The compensating urge for expansion that is being expressed in the Jewish religion are to some extent rooted in actual oppression. But it is also reasonable to assume that the compensation also have its roots in the admiration expressed by the inrush of desert-dwelling peoples for the indigenous Canaanites with their much higher material culture. And further along time in Israeli’s meeting with the excellence of Assur, Babylon and Egypt.
Faced with all that was impressive in the foreign cultures, the Israeli psyche responded stubbornly after its own pattern in which they trusted – that not the other peoples, but Israel were the greatest of all, and that their time would come if they only held fast with their own God and their Law without being tempted to fall away. Thereby, the entire national congregation (diocese) gets something to look forward to – a goal to strive for.
This made it easier for them to accept their fate, since all suffering was seen as punishment from Yahweh, because they had not followed the law closely enough.
Therefore, observation of the law became even stricter, and the law revered with even greater zeal than before.
Seen in the light of such a dominant religion every historical event acquire a particular significance. Likewise, it lies close at hand that more or less consciously, “construction” of past events not rooted in reality will be made, to serve the national-religious consolidation. It has for example been suggested by some that the account of Israel’s stay in Egypt is a cultic myth that to some extent is aimed at proving that the people have a historic right to lay claim on sacred places in Canaan. Abraham’s earlier visit to Egypt might be a variation on the motif of famine. The stay in Egypt provided an excellent pretext for explaining the consolidation of Israel into one people. The account of the mysterious crossing of the Red Sea has been seen as belonging to an ancient cultic drama.
Water by and large plays an important role in the symbolic language of the deep.
Water, among other things, means the subconscious – where everything happens and becomes life. Egypt as the southern country was for the Jews the nether world, equal to the subconscious. Therefore, they received the saving nourishment from there and they were liberated by means of the miraculous exodus. In this context it is worth mentioning that Jesus could walk on water – he was the Lord of the subconscious, secret depths. He showed his contemporaries a sign that they asked for – the sign of Jonah – the prophet that spent three days and nights inside a whale and was spewed onto dry land – paralleling Jesus’ descent to the dead – the nether world – for three days.
Moses, that probably was a historical person, is the creator of the religion of Israel, named after its originator as the Mosaic religion. Many of the events connected with Moses and his mission can be found in the accounts of other prominent people. Thus, we find many parallels between Moses and Sargon – the first Semitic king to conquer Babylon. Also with the Egyptian god Horus, mentioned already in the texts of oldest pyramids, we find some parallels.
Horus, as the son of Osiris and Isis, was born after his father’s death. She brought him up in the desolate mangrove stretches of the Nile delta to where she had fled to escape form the evil god Set. The image of Isis hiding among the reeds while she holds the suckling child Horus in her lap was very popular in Egyptian imagery, and from there it was transmitted to the Roman mythology where it became transformed to: Madonna with her child. The Mediterranean peoples with their spontaneous emotional life needed a female element to counter all the masculinity in Christendom. The image of Madonna became such an integrated part of their religion that the Virgin has became a major character, that now have found its own dogmatic shape – with ascent to heaven as
Regarding the analogy between Moses and the Egyptian legend of Horus, we remember from the Bible how Moses’ life was in danger, that he was hidden between the reeds, that his sister got her mother to breastfeed the child – all this also parts of the Horus-myth, - and that is closely linked with important and fundamental human conditions.
When the Israelites marched into Canaan, they were faced with the possibility of becoming assimilated into the indigenous population that had a very different religious cult. Falling away form Yahweh began to spread. This tension between the local Canaanite religion and the Yahweh traditions of the Jews created the prerequisite for the activity of the prophets. They thundered against the alien cult and everything connected with it.
The Canaanite god Baal was often worshiped in the image of an ox; and the account we find in the Pentateuch about the fall of the people and the dance around the calf of gold – an ox of gold – probably stems from a much later time than it pretends to – namely from the prophet’s response to Baal-worship. In order to attach greater weight to the prohibitions and the threats of punishment, the people’s play with the golden “calf” is condemned by Moses himself.
Baal gained highest popularity in the northern part of the land. The Israelis there lost their particular cultic identity, and when the military disaster struck the Northern country in 722BCE they dissolve completely in the foreign peoples.
That may not have happened if they had remained ardent Yahweh-worshippers
Our knowledge of the old Canaanite cult and civilisation was expanded when clay tablets with an unknown type Sumerian cuneiform script was discovered in 1929 in Ras Shamra – the ancient Syrian trading city of Ugarit. The tablets were from the 14th Century BCE, approximately the time when the Israeli influx began farther south. In pre-Israeli times, Canaan and Syria constituted a cultural entity.
Dteh Canaanite cult belongs to the large group of agricultural religions where all interest is attached to the struggle for life – and against death.
Baal was the great dead god that was mourned when plant growth dried up, and he was the resurrected god that was cheered in the spring. Tears and rites of grief were replaced by cultic sexual acts aimed at strengthening the vital forces of all life.
Baal, as found in all the western Semitic peoples, but particularly with the Canaanite and Aramaic peoples, was the god of rain, thunder and plant growth. As a god of thunder, he might share some characteristics with Yahweh.
Baal was the lord of the land and of life. Baal means Lord, he is therefore also called Adon – similar to the Hebrew Adonai – Lord. This name was later given to the Asia-minor god Adonis.
The supreme god was El – the father of the god – creator of all creation – the Lord of the world – and father of humanity. El had, in common with Baal, characteristics of a bull.
At his side, Baal hsd the virgin Anat – the heavenly queen, Baal’s sister and lover. Asjera and her 70 sons played an important role. This cult of Baal-Anat was a pronounced fertility magic with sexual rites as a prominent element- particularly at the wedding of the god-couple where the power-creating, divine act was the mating of the ox Baal with the cow Anat. The Virgin-goddess also was depicted as a big snake around her legs – the phallic symbolism being quite obvious.
With the sanctuaries went sacral prostitution – a custom taken over by the Israelites. But temple prostitution in Jerusalem did not last long.
Against this alien cult with god-images, Asjera-poles, sacral prostitution and so on, the prophets rose in all their might.
The word prophet, in Hebrew nabi, is associated with the verb naba, which means shouting or preaching. In Arabic, naba means speaking for someone else. A naba - a prophet – actually is a spokesman, somebody speaking for someone else. This meaning of the word is used in Genesis 2., about Aaron as spokesman or prophet for Moses.
From the oldest times, the people in Israel as well as in other places have desired to know the will of God in concrete matters. For this purpose the priests would employ so called oracle staffs. But as time went by this practice of using external means seems to have been abandoned. Instead so called seers, closely working with the priests, became employed.
The next step of development is prophets, often in teams, with their own houses. These nabi-teams sometimes might get a rather worldly profile; often the prophets would live only of what was given to them by people. They seem to have been particularly attired, - a robe of hairs, a leather belt, prophets staff and the sign of Yahweh on the forehead.
Such prophets, also found in other western Semitic religions, for example in the Baal cult, practised delivery of prophesies and directives under artificially induced seizures of ecstasy that might be caused by monotonous and lasting chants, loud music or vigorous dancing. Fasting, that in many other places seems to have been a popular means of obtaining similar results, seems not to have been used. Under such ecstatic conditions, often most likely accompanied by visions and hallucinations, they might roll on the floor in rage or wound themselves.
High above the professional vulgar nabism and ecstatic prophetism ranks the great judgment and reform prophets – the giants of Israel and the Bible. They were mouthpieces of God, spokesmen for the only god, Yahweh – who wanted none above, under, below or beside himself. With unfailing eagerness and faith they urge the people to hold fast to him forever. The ideals of the times in the desert are held high as great examples to be followed.
The framework around the prophecies is often political and military dangers, which continuously threatens from all around. But the prophecy becomes of secondary importance – often the claimed correct prophesies are actually later additions. Emphasis is laid on why God acts the way he does, why Israel must be chastised. The prophecy becomes a warning, a ‘lecture’ (‘formaning’, I’ll have to look it up), judgement. And the suffering to which Israel has been subjected, not least because of its strategic location, were consequently professed as caused by Israel opposing Yahweh and his will.
The great prophets of Israel were insightful and intuitive seers that reached far from the contemporary. Often, they were hated, since they never hesitated to oppose the comfort of the people and their short -sighted desires. They wanted to instil a sense of responsibility by declaring that each and everyone were of importance for the future development of the country’s fate. Likewise, they often spoke against shallowness and empty ceremonies. What counted was the mental attitude – the heart. Religion thus began to become a personal matter. And last but not least, ideas about Yahweh as being of a universal nature – that he is the God of all the world. The prophets and their scriptures thus becomes an important condition for Jesus and his preaching, which in many ways is a continuation of the work of the major prophets But it was not until Jesus that the particularistic shell was broken, expanding the kingdom of God to encompass the whole Earth.
But much would happen in the interim between the major prophet ‘s and the coming of Jesus which would be of importance for the development and shaping of the Christian teaching.
Between the scriptures of the Old and the New Testament lies a span of about 200 years. But it is not only this span of time that separates them. Also in content the span is very wide. This void in the Bible does of course not correspond with how it was in the real world. Just in this important period some profound changes in the cultural, spiritual and religious life. The times were an upheaval of enormous dimensions in Israel.
in the religious literarure we find new thoughts and a new spiritual content in the apocrypha and pseudo-epigraphies. The term apocrypha applies to scriptures that at the determination of the Biblical canon have not been included, even if they for some time has been considered holy scripture’s. With respect to the New Testament, the canon have resulted in all apocrypha from the times of the New Testament has been removed.
With respect to the Old Testament, things are a little different. Here, there were two different canons to consider.
The Jews of Israel had at the synod in Jamnia in the year 90 BCE decided on a canon corresponding with the Old Testament that we know. But the Greek-speaking Jews outside their homeland stayed with the Septuaginta, or ‘the translation by the 70’ - a translation into Greek that besides the scriptures that the Jews in the homeland considered to be canonical, also encompassed scriptures of later origin. The migrated Jews counted only the Pentateuch into the canon. The prophets and other holy scriptures were considered to be of an encouraging nature only. It therefore was not difficult to expand the scope of such scriptures.
The church adopted the Septuaginta, and with it, those parts that fell outside the Jamnia-canon, - the Apocrypha. Thes scriptures have been treated in various ways within the Christian world. The Greek church has canonized fore of the Apocrypha, namely: The Wisdom of Solomon, Jesus Sirach’s son’s wisdom, The book of Tobit and the book of Judith. The Roman church has accorded most of the Apocrypha the same value as the canonized scriptures. Luther included some of them in an addendum to his translation of the Old Testament, namely the book of Judith, The Wisdom of Solomon, The book of Sirach, the book of Baruch, The letters of Jeremy, 1. and 2. Maccabean book, and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel, and the prayer of Manasse. The Pseudepigrahia are religious scriptures within late Jewisdom that has not been included in the OT canon within the church, neither have they achieved a semi-official position like the Apocrypha. They have been regarded as holy scriptures, but were exempted form the Bible from early on. They often sport false author-names, by pretending to have been written by people of the early Israel.
We may mention 3. and 4. Maccabean book, the Psalms of Solomon, the book of Henoch, 2. and 4. book of Baruch, The testament of the twelve patriarchs, The ascent of Moses, The life of Adam and Eve, and many more.
These Apocrypha and pseudepigraphies are Jewish religious scriptures written between approx. 200 BCE and 200 CE. To some extent, they fill the void between the OT and the NT, at least with respect to understand the new ideas that around the beginning of the current era came into the Jewish world from other religions and secterian societies. Thereby they also serve to paint some of the background for Christendom and it’s spiritual contents.
There are a number of reasons why late Jewishness seems to constitute an ideational breaking away from the religious contents of the Old Testament. This is to a large extent a consequence of the source of these scriptures, originating from lay people and mystery societies. The more popular and mystery-sectary views had earlier been kept separate from the accepted religious literature. But in the turmoil of the Hellenistic and Roman period, in particular after the clergy’s Greek-friendly attitude under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the religious views of the general public surfaces and begin to colour the religious literature. The Pharisees and the scribes take the lead. The Synagogue becomes a strong competitor to the Temple. The character of the preaching changes. More primitive feelings, ecstatic phantasies about the latter days and the great doom, angels, devils and so on begin to make their mark on the religious life.
All of this new stuff is only to a little degree elements that have been resident in the people besides the official faith. Mostly, it is ideas from alien religions that begin to intrude. The Jewish religion was unable to keep entirely out of the blending of religions that became widespread during Hellenistic times, with the national borders broken and the peoples subjected to only one power.
The literature of the New Testament is profoundly related to these scriptures originating late in Jewish times. In this way the influx of alien religions is also noticeable in Christendom,
that undoubtedly also have been influenced more directly – something that will be covered later.
The neighbouring religions that may be considered as sources of materials for late Jewishdom and Christendom are mostly the Babylonian, Persian and Egyptian religions. But between these religions in their ancient form and the forms in which we meet the later, there is a gaping void. And, the matter is further being complicated since these religions during Hellenistic times began to blend into each other.
Syncretism or blending of religions may, among other things, also be seen in the advent of Gnosticism – from gnosis – the Greek world for knowledge – that attempted to unify the various religions and philosophical teachings into a comprehensive system where the religious elements was given an allegoric interpretation. The ancients had a more or less articulate understanding of consistency and unity in all the confusing multitude. Also within Christendom, Gnosticism has during certain times played a prominent role.
Dualism was one of the fundamentals of the Gnostic view of being. There existed a higher and a lower world, the region of light and the heavenly kingdom of good, and the regions of darkness and evil. The earth lies as an intermediate mixture between these extremes. The same applies to mankind. The soul originates in the world of light, the body from the lower sphere. Here, in earthly life, evil has the upper hand, but there is a road upward to the domain of light, through the many heavens until one reaches the highest God where one shall live for eternity.
Evil forces seek to lead man astray on his quest for the one, right way. The highest on his throne therefore have sent as an aide one of the highest gods to help man find the one, right way. This redeemer shall take engage the armies of evil. He even descends to the nether world in order to dispose of those other forces. The redeemer have created the holy sacraments and have given his believers the holy protective names that shall be their shield against dangers and the perils of life.
These, and similar pre-Christian concepts had their roots mainly in Babylonian and Persian religious viewpoints.
In order not to subject the teaching to profanity, the believers often created closed societies, where the concepts also had a secret meaning that only the initiated could fully understand.
This Gnosis employed a symbolic language that is not difficult to interpret. To a certain degree, it was adopted by Jew-hood, especially by those Jews that did not return from the exile. Just Babylon constituted a syncretistic cardinal point, where mainly Babylonian and Persian religious element became mixed.
The now layers of the people that under the Maccabean uprising around 160 BCE took over leadership in the religious life, also dominate the literature, full of grotesque fantasies, dream, visions and ecstatic experiences.
The scriptures tend to have an apocalyptic and eschatologic content – revealing the truth about the last days; the expectation of Messiah plays an important role. The Son of God is no longer a man of flesh and of the house of David, he is a heavenly pre-existent being that shall battle Satan and his armies of devils and demons. I 4. Ezra’s book his coming is described with him being borne by the clouds of the skies after ascending from the depths of the ocean. As soon as the peoples hear his awesome voice, they will stop fighting between themselves and will convene in an attack on him. He will be standing on the peak of Zion and when the enemies rush forward, from his mouth a flaming breath will burn the enemies of God to ashes.
In 2. Baruch’s book it is told how Messiah shall destroy the army of the last worldly kingdom. The last ruler will be led to Zion in chains, where Messiah will make him responsible for all his crimes and kill him. “The chieftains shall be thrown into the fire of doom and perish in wrath and the colossal, eternal judgment.,” says the book of Enoch.
This is an entirely different view than that which is found in the scriptures of the Old Testament. Not only is the character of Messiah quite different, also the teaching of resurrection now appears in late Judaism.
But it did not quite get foothold. From the New Testament it will be known that the Sadducheans did not believe in a life after death.
The world of the Prophets and the concepts of late Judaism are quite different. An element of old-oriental Gnosis with its dualism, and the wish for a new life. These moments are also found in Christendom.
Ideas about angels and devils also came to play a bog role in late Judaism and in Christendom. They stem mainly from primitive beliefs in spirits as well as polytheism, and are further characterised by an extreme dualism – light and darkness – the good and evil forces in an eternal and bitter struggle. It is the age-old drama about the inner reality and inner conflict.
Originally, the concept of angels was alien to the Yahweh-religion. Admittedly, we find in the Old Testament numerous references to Yahweh’s angel, but these are mostly later additions, since later in time could not quite conceive of Yahweh having direct contact with people. Therefore, what had originally been attributed to Yahweh, was instead attributed to his angel.
Remnants of polytheism also contributed to the forming of angel-like beings, as for example the god-sons of 1. Genesis that even engaged in relations with earthly women. They originally were gods, but the growing importance of Yahweh necessitated their relegation to the background – this being made apparent by the title son, as sons are subordinate to their father. Real sons they were not. Yahweh was the sole majesty.
Similar polytheistic characteristics are also found in the account of creation, with God saying: “Let us create man in our image.” This must mean that God is addressing other god’s, something the priest-source has taken over from Babylonian concepts about the heavenly council of god’s. These other god-beings by and by became degraded to astral-gods; that together constituted the army of Yahweh (St. John, 5-14) or the heavenly army, a concept found in ancient Babylonian religion.
These ideas among the ancient Israelites about angels are reminiscences of Babylonian and most likely also Egyptian mythology. They originally were alien concepts in Israel; therefore we do not find them mentioned by the pre-exile prophets. After the exile, angels begin to assume an ever increasing importance until the a maximum is reached in the popular, religious concepts from Maccabean times on.
Some of the angles became so much differentiated from the large army that they got their own names and their own particular regions to oversee. Mika-el thus is the Jew’s guardian angel; he shall appear at the final judgment (Dan.12-1, Henoch 20-5). Altogether there were 72; others quoted 70 such angelic lords, a figure stemming from the idea of the72 (or 7o peoples).
The angel Gabri-el who among other things declared to Mary that she was to give birth to the Saviour, also played an important role. He probably once were the most prominent of the heavenly beings, a position he still hold in the Koran. Rapha-el is overseer for diseases in humans; he had the power to heal.
Angels were grouped according to rank: Arch-angels, domains, powers, authorities, cherubs, seraphs, thrones and offanim (i.e. wheels – namely the eye-studded wheels under the heavenly throne). These different categories have from late Judaism been transmitted to Christendom where we find them again in the New Testament letters.
The seven arch-angels are described in the Apocalypse of John as the seven eyes, the seven candles, the seven torches and the seven stars. In Babylonian religion a group of gods counting seven also played an important role. They originally were identical with the seven most important celestial bodies – sun, moon, and the five planets. Also in the Persian Mazda-religion are found a similar sevenfold group.
Sometimes we hear about not seven, but about the four supreme angelic beings that also are identified with the cherubs. This idea most likely has been contributing to the account in the Revelation’s reference to the four animal-like creatures that uphold the heavenly throne. The first is likened to a lion, the second to an ox, the third had face like a human, while the fourth was likened to an eagle.
Also with Ezra similar concepts are found
These four beings that carry the heaven is a concept that is well known both from Babylon and Egypt. They most likely have their roots to the four quarters of the zodiac – Bull, Lion, SKORPION-man and Aquarius. The last of these pictures lacked a prominent star; but we find that in a neighbouring picture – namely Eagle. This symbolism is fond again in the four gospels, Matthew – man, Mark lion, Luke – ox and John – eagle, images that still can be seen in many churches.
Not only the concept of angels, but also belief in the devil became a prominent feature in late Judaism and in Christendom. Satan and his demons are the source of all human misfortune, not least diseases.
The evil demons are always attempting to sneak into people. They were resident in the desert regions. Ancient Israel originally did not know these evil demons, but only indifferent spirit beings devoid of moral quality. When Yahweh became supreme ruler, he occupied the entire being and the whole land. After the exile, Yahweh was transferred to heaven, and the demons SWARMT FREM.
The Jews thus did not return alone to their land, they had with them a veritable entourage of Persian devils under their lord Satan, who organised a kingdom of darkness and evil where employment for the indigenous demons also was found.
The belief in Satan and devils became strengthened during Israel’s suffering under the Syrians and the Romans. But a ray of hope still shone through darkness and suffering. There were to be a last struggle between light and Satan, where evil and darkness would be defeated. A new character appeared in the latter Jewish expectations of the future – Messiah – as the Son of Man. And the worse conditions got, the more ardent burned the longing.
Judaism originally had no room for a Satan besides Yahweh. All misfortune stemmed from Yahweh himself, who in this manner
chastised Israel for desertion and sin. But this explanation could not in the long run be upheld, since it often led to inconsequences. As for example, in 2. Samuel, when the wrath of Yahweh against the Israelites causes him to urge David to perform a census over Israel and Judah. Afterwards, this census that Yahweh himself had instigated was labelled as a great sin, to be punished by letting 70 000 die from pestilence.
Dualism was so to speak in the air for the Israelites. Many of the neighbouring peoples had for a long time had extreme versions of dualism, and it soon got foothold. After homecoming from the exile, the just referenced story becomes modified, depicting Satan as taking stand against Israel, causing David to carry out that fatal census.
In pre-exile times, the word Satan signified just a relatively neutral term, like opponent or tempter. IT was only after the return from Babylon that Satan begins to show the familiar characteristics so well known in later times. The devils were considered offspring of the fallen angels or god-sons (1. Gen. 6) that had been seduced by earthly female beauty. The offspring was conceived as giants 3000 yards tall. It was believed that the devils were either these children of angels or perhaps their souls, that after death had been transformed into demons and devils – seducers of man. From them stems sorcery, chants, alchemy, the art of divining, and astrology. They were that cause of all sin and evil. And the leader of these devilish hordes was Satan – the Lord of Darkness.
In the testament of the Patriarchs that probably originated late in Maccabean times, Satan appears in full light. Partly he is called Satan, partly devil or the Lord of Deception, the spirit of hate, Beliar or Belial. The battle has been declared between light and darkness, between truth and lies. Beliar is supported by the seven arch-devils, and his domain also encompass the wild animals.
This concept of Satan as the leader of an organized kingdom of darkness, has been transferred to Christendom. That Jesus had the power to expel devils, was the sign that
he was to lead the final battle about the kingdom of God on earth – as Messiah.
Dualism in late Judaism has its roots primarily in Persian concepts. In Avesta, the sacred book of the Persians, the “holy spirit” says to “the evil spirit”: What we two think or teach or realize or profess is the same; neither our words or our deeds, nor our consciences or our souls.
Also the late Jewish expectations abut the future that came to be of such importance in Christendom, has diffused from outside sources. The strict particularistic and national expectations are inherited from the pre-exile Judaism, and partially from the Major Prophets. The new thoughts that in the centuries before the current era begin to appear in Judaism are universal and transcendent. These two expectations of the future at last enter into a compromise by means of the so called Messianic intermediate kingdom – the thousand-year-kingdom – when the national expectations should be realized. Only after this, the universalistic expectations would become a reality.
In the new late-Jewish thoughts one meets the conviction that this world is spoiled – that it must be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth. Likewise we find a new concept, the idea of a final judgment and the resurrection of the dead.
In the late-Jewish apocalyptic expectations are the concept of the two eons – the two ages – an important moment. The same concepts are found also with Jesus and St. Paul.
It was thought that the boundary between these two epochs could be calculated. Thus, one finds in the book of Daniel, from about 165 BCE, that the day of judgment is near. The author probably had learned from the book of Jeremiah that Israel’s troubles should last until 70 years after the exile. Since that amount of time had long since elapsed, the prophet must have meant something else than what he wrote – namely year-weeks, meaning seven- year periods. The times of peril consequently should last for 490 years, and this termin was imminent.
The concept of the last days of the world are both in Persian as well as in late-Jewish eschatology connected with the belief in the resurrection of the dead and judgement – something not known in Judaism earlier.
First, it is found in the book of Daniel, but here it still is only partial. Many of those who still sleep in the dust shall awaken, some to eternal life – other to eternal disgust – it says.
According to Josephus, the Pharisees were of the opinion that only the pious would be allowed to return to life. And in the New Testament we find, besides the belief in a general resurrection also the idea that only the just shall rise from their graves. (St. Luc. XIV-14) Both concepts can be found side by side in Revelations. Here, the just first shall be part of the thousand-year kingdom, later, the great world-judgement with a general resurrection shall take place. Also St. Paul writes about a partial return to life. Resurrection of the dead was unknown to the Jews in older times. The deceased existed as shadows in Sheol – the kingdom of the dead – the eternal abode from where no return to life was possible. And the Sadducees – the conservative high priests, categorically rejected any ideas about resurrection.
Belief in resurrection probably have come into Judaism trough Egyptian and Persian influences. The concept of Christ such as we find with St. Paul probably via late-Jewish scriptures, sects and mystery societies have been adopted from other religions. Many traits are conspicuously similar to the description of the Son of Man found in the book of Henoch, which probably was written about 60 BCE. The Son of Man in Henoch can be traced back to the Book of Daniel’s account of the Son of Man – or rather just ‘Man’. The book of Henoch, richly represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls, have had a very varying history in the Christian world. It eventually was excluded from Christendom because it was to close to it. Both the Jews as well as the Christians have systematically purged their holy scriptures from anything that might be associated with Essean scriptures. Henoch’s book played an important role for almost 500 years. The importance of this book can be seen from this quote from a book by the American theologican Ch. Francis Potter, “The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed” – “For if the Qumran society was the mother of Christendom – the book of Henoch was it’s father”. The English theologican K. H. Charles – one of the leading specialists on the Apocrypha
writes that the Book of Henoch must have been St. Paul’s Vademecum (handbook) in matters religious.
The Son of Man-concept may have its roots in the complex of ideas about original man as the original, pre-existent heavenly being – bearer of the perfect life – sent as a revelation of the highest god. Through this man (Adam) have been revealed a divine prophet that later appeared in a number of prophetic figures – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Henoch.
To these “seven pillars”, Christ become joined. He is then identified with the first man – Adam. We see for instance how Paul calls Christ the second Adam – the first man of the new era. A parallel to such ideas are also found in Indian religion, where Krishna is the eighth Avatar – i.e. incarnation of the god Vishnu.
Also Babylonian mythology knows original man – the wise Adapa. As in Christendom Adam – God’s human son – is connected with Jesus – Adapa, the human son of the Lord of the Waters, Ea, is being connected with and probably identified with Marduk, the divine son of Ea. About Marduk, we learn that by him the world was created – heaven and the celestial bodies, earth and mankind. Ea says about Marduk: “My son! What is it that you do not know and that I yet may tell you? What I know, you know.” Marduk also was called “the merciful” – “Master of Life”, “the one who enjoy bringing the dead back to life” – “Lord of Lords and King of Kings.”
Such ideas about the perfect original man – the Son of Man – also entered into late Judaism. In Christendom he has been moved to the final times, because he should inaugurate the new eon – the Kingdom of God. The Persian religion once was very widespread and many of its elements have been adopted by Christendom. Today the rest, parisism (parsi-sim?) count only about 90.000 people in India, to where their ancestor fled from the Arabs.
Zend-Avesta or Avesta is the name given to the scriptures still left of
the ancient Persians holy books. Their size is a little less than the Old Testament. The most important part is the 17 songs or gathas – dating back to the great prophet and reformer Zarathustra or Zoroaster. Who lived between 800 and 900 BCE.
In these songs, Ahura Mazda is praised as the only true god. Zarathustra broke with the belief about multiple gods of older times. He calls himself the chosen that shall lead God’s cause to victory. He is tempted by Arihman (the one with much death) – the Lord of Darkness – who sends a death angel to kill Zarathustra. This, god’s chosen recite the declaration of faith and the holy prayer. The angel of death then is rendered powerless. He reports to Arihman that Zarathustra is too strong. The war between them is declared.
Zarathustra wants to fight the devil and all his helpers until the world’s redeemer – Saoysant – at the advent of the new age appears in the East. Arihman, seeing his kingdom threatened, beg Zarathustra to AVSVERGE his faith in the good Mazda. In return, he shall get sovereign power over all the world. Zarathustra declared that the end of the world and the ultimate battle was near, when the devil and the ungodly would be punished – misfortune and pain in hell – with the just entering the eternal life. In the struggle between good and evil man should be free to chose Therefore, morals should net be forced on one as a child. The just are fair in their customs and peaceful in their lives. They strive to till the soil and strengthen life and its forces. Thereby, Mazda achieve prosperity for his Kingdom. The great commandment was: A just life with good thoughts, words and deeds. “Mazda has promised immunity and eternal life in his Kingdom, the reward for everyone who walks the way of life.”
At the end of one of the Gathas we read: “Thus Zarathustra gives as a gift to Mazda and his angels the life of his own body. He gives them the ultimate of good thoughts and good deeds, he gives them that the good word is propagated and becomes potent.”
The thought that the spiritual way of life, that justice, reliability and kindness are just as necessary as the material, became included in all Avestan scriptures after the death of Zarathustra.
About the beginning of the end times and the birth of the new world, Avesta tells that when the new age is near, a virgin shall bathe in the lake in the East. There she will conceive and give birth to Saoysant – the Saviour. According to ancient Persian belief this is none else than Zarathustra himself returning to fulfil life’s victory over death and evil.
In this final awesome battle, Saoysant shall be victorious. Afterwards, he lets a new world come forth where there shall be no old age and death, where there shall be eternal life and eternal growth – and the ultimate freedom. The dead will rise from their graves and eternal life shall be bestowed upon all life. Between light and darkness – truth and lies – there should be an everlasting and bitter struggle until the end time. In this struggle, man should stand on the side of goodness. Fairness, kindness, faithfulness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, tilling the soil and extermination of snakes, Toads and other vermin were the weapons whereby the fight would be fought. Lies were the most base of all vice. Light, fire and the Sun were worshipped as as manifestations of Mazda – while Arihman rested in an abyss, in eternal darkness.
This is all thoughts and concepts that seem so familiar from Christendom. There is much that makes it conceivable that it came there via the Essene society, the beginning of which dates to about 150 BCE.
The Essenes were a closed mystery society in Israel and Syria. There is not much that is known about them. They certainly had a rich literature within their society. Our main source of knowledge about them is Josephus and the Jewish religion philosopher Philo in Alexandria. Phil writes in:
Quod omnis probus liber:
“Greece had its seven wise and their successors. Persia still has its researchers of nature – the contemplative magi’s – and India its moral-philosophic sophists. Nor do Syria and Israel where the numerous Jewish tribe lives, such people who have made virtue their highest goal. Among those, some are called Essean, about 4000 of number.
115They have got their name because of their holiness, since they believe that the main idea of religion is to serve God, not by slaughtering sacrificial animals, but by dedicating their hearts to God as a holy sacrifice.
They live together in villages and avoid the big cities to get away from sin and crime so prevalent there, since they know they are as much to fear as unhealthy, polluted air and all the contagious and deadly diseases that comes from this. They live partly by farming, partly by handicraft. They treat themselves as well as their neighbours with kindness without amassing money or large land estates. They seek only to provide for their daily bread. They are almost the only people who live unprotected, yeah, without money, and they are considered rich more because of their approach to life than because of any surplus of wealth, since they rightly claim – that simplicity is the greatest gain. Javelins, Arrows, swords, helmets, armour and shields they do not make, nor other weapons or tools used in war. Among them, not one shall be found who engage in such activities as may me misused by people, even if they may belong to the peaceful trades. Therefore, they never dream about becoming merchants or brokers, since they abhor everything that may tempt them into greediness. Slaves are not found among them, they are all free and serve eachother. They reject all authority, not only because it violates equality, but as it is something godless because they are against violation of nature’s law that give birth to everybody as equals and raise all as true brothers. Now, this blood-brotherhood is being broken by greed, giving rise to disagreement instead of peace, hatred instead of love.
Logic, as a part of philosophy, they leave to the sophists, since it is not required for gaining virtue. Investigation of nature are left to the high-flying sophists except for what applies to the study of the nature of God and the creation of the universe. It is only to the morals and SEDELÆRE that they apply all their power guided by the law of the forefathers, which nobody can fathom who has not been touched by the spirit of God.
They are constantly being taught these laws, but particularly on the seventh day which the hold sacred and let all work lie. They then go to their sacred places which they call Synagogues, and here they sit in a certain order according to their age and prepare to listen. One reads loudly from the holy books, after which one of the more experienced explains the unclear passages. B e c a u s e m o s t o f t h e I r s c r I p t u r e s a r e o f s y m b o l I c o r a l l e g o r I c c o n t e n t *) such as with the ancient philosophers. They are being taught piety, holiness, fairness and how to treat individual or common affairs, knowledge of the true good or evil or indifference, how to chose the good and flee from evil; all this they treat from a threefold point of view – namely love of God, virtue, and their neighbour. That they feared God is witnessed by their chastity that last all their life – their abstaining from swearing and lies – and their belief in God as the cause of all that is good, but not to anything evil. That virtue lies close to their hearts is demonstrated by how they despise money, honour and indulgence, their withdrawn and sparse life, their pronounced thriftiness, simplicity, self-control, kindness, piety, law-abiding and steadfastness. Their love of their neighbours is displayed by their good will, their unbelievably strange equality and their communal ownership that something needs to be said about.
Firstly, nobody owns a house, it belongs to all; their common dwelling places are open even to strangers that observe the same order of life. Further they share common money chests and share all expenses; they even have common clothes and share their food in communal meals. Such a communal order in matters of housing, way of life and meals are not found anywhere else. And this is easily understandable, for they leave to the community all that they earn without keeping anything for themselves. In this manner they provide for themselves and each other all that everyone needs. The sick and unable to provide for themselves are not left alone but are provided for by the community.”
*) emphazised here.
In the account by Josephus it says that the Essenes at sunrise prays ancient prayers in aid of the Sun, as it were. Their meals were holly acts initiated with various rites of cleansing. They are calm, steadfast and trustworthy. They believe that the body perish, but that the soul has eternal life.
On entering the order they are issued an axe, a white robe and a linen cloth that they use at community meals. This Essean community thus shows many traits that seem to be of Persian origins, among them the ethical attitude and the worship of the Sun. In the centuries before the common era the countries neighbouring Israel had many sects and secret societies heavily coloured by Babylonian and Persian influence. An ascetic attitude towards life was a prominent feature of these societies, and the idea that the soul is bound to matter as in a prison from where it may be liberated by rites of cleansing and a life of forsakenness, was not unknown. A so the secret Pythagorean societies in Greece shared a view similar with the Essean – probably because of the common oriental source.
Many have meant that Jesus himself either came from such an Essene society or that he had been influenced by their teachings. Certainly his teachings differ form the Essene, but that may be because he had liberated himself from their strict laws about unimportant matters, instead accentuating the essentials. The spirit that we find in the Essene order have much in common with what we find in Christendom, and undeniably, early Christendom shared many of the characteristics of a mystery society.
It is possible that there may be a connection between the Essean order-axe, and Jesus and Joseph’s capacity as woodworkers. Common woodworkers they certainly were not, - that is symbolic parlance. Jesus himself is described as a timber-man. The word used in the sources is the Greek Tekton – i.e. builder of houses. The corresponding Jewish word is banaim, builders of houses, maybe bricklayers. This word, banaim, is on some ways connected with the higher degrees in the Essean order – possibly as a collective designation for the initiates into the higher grades.
Paul also belongs to the “world builders” – he is described as a maker of tents. The word tent is being employed many places as a metaphor in the so called “Damascus manuscript”, to be covered later.
In later years many new finds have been made that seem to confirm a connection between the Essene order or a closely related society – and Christendom. The pieces of the puzzle are becoming so many that this supposition begins to assume a high degree of probability.
It lies near at hand to suppose that the Jewish scribe Saulus – the cosmopolite, born in Asia Minor of Jewish parents in a Greek environment and with status as a Roman citizen – have organized the substance of the Essean teaching into a world religion of a universal character. He was to begin with one of the most aggressive in pursuing the Christians. He was sent to Damascus in pursuit, a prominent place for the movement must have had one of its main stays – to suppress them with violence. Such an aggressive attitude always will be labile, since it covers a doubt in the justification for one’s own cause. It is possible that he got second thoughts when seeing the standfastness and enthusiasm displayed by the Christians when faced with oppression.
Near Damascus, he is overwhelmed by a vision that causes him to become converted to the new lore. The episode incidentally have two different versions in the Bible. In Acts IX-7 it says that those that were with him heard the voice, but saw nothing. In Acts XXII-9, on the contrary, it says that his companions did see the light, but they did not hear the voice.
Another peculiarity in connection with Paul’s conversion is mentioned in the letter to the Galatenans, where he underscores that he has not received the teaching from any human being, but by means of revelation, something that maybe reveals his mystic nature. In connection with this, we may also remember his experience of light. In chapter 1. verse 17. it says that after his Damascus experience did not go back to Jerusalem to the apostles there, such as described in Acts chapter 9., but that he instead first went to Arabia and from there again
back to Damascus where he stayed for three years before going down to Jerusalem, where he only saw Peter of the Apostles and stayed with him for fifteen days.
Ii it is a very strange fact that he immediately after his conversion did not go to Jerusalem – or at least that this other version is mentioned. For such strange information must be of significant importance.
It lies near at hand to think that after his conversion, Paul first needed to be initiated into the order and become educated in their teachings and interpretations – in Arabia and in Damascus.
The new finds that was mede in the summer of 1947 at the northern end of the Dead Sea, seems to confirm that Cristendom stems from the Essene order or a closely related religious society. Additionally, the new findings shos a connection to the well known Damascus script that was found in the cellar of a synagogue in Cairo in 1896*) , that previously have resisted placement in a idea-historical context; the new find strongly suggest that this Damascus script stems from the Essene order
The first finds by the Dead Sea consisted of 8 parchment scrolls written in Hebrew and Aramaic – covered with wax and asphalt for preservation. Probably, the movement to which the scrolls belonged, been threatened with oppression and eradication. The scrolls were sold to a Jewish antiquity dealer in Bethlehem. Parts found their way to the university in Jerusalem, while the rest was bought by the Syrian monastery of Mark in Jerusalem, where the Americans were given the opportunity to take photographs of them.
One of the scrolls – entitled “The New Pact” - contains an account of the closing of a pact where “the children of light” promise to stand united in the fight against “the children of darkness” and not cave in for evil rule. This promise is being acknowledged by all of “the children of light” in the presence of priests and Levites with a solemn: Amen! Amen!
*) Published by S. Schechter: Documents of Jewish Sectaries – Fragments of a Zadokite Work. Cambridge 1910.
Language and syntax is closely related to the contents of the Damascus script and The Ascent of Moses, which we already know.
The main character in the Damascus scroll is the Teacher of Righteousness or perhaps more correctly translated_ He who teaches that which is right – The only one – The oldest teacher. He is identical to the founder of the society – the giver of Law who interprets the Law – The anointed from Aaron and Israel. He revealed to the society his holy spirit. Their messiah should be descended from Aaron and Israel, not from Judea, that represented FRAFALLET and should be haunted by wrath. They could not acknowledge Messiah as the son of David, since David had broken the law of the forefathers.
The movement left Judea and according to sources settled in Damascus where the new pact was made. Their leader – The sole teacher - died, but would someday return.
This sect organized in various cities and tent-camps. A city – it is not known where – housed their sanctities. The sect built their teaching on the Old Testament – in particular the Pentateuch that was given a particular interpretation, but also on a number of the Pseudepigraphia as for instance the book of Jubilee. The sect also must have been in possession of Pseudepigraphia that since have been lost.
This sect were in opposition to the Pharisees, to polygamy – the reason for king David’s unpopularity – to remarriage after divorce as long as the former wife were still alive. Throug his Anointed, God made known his holy Spirit.
Dupont-Sommer, professor at Sorbonne, published in 1950 a book about the new find and the Damascus script, where the connection with the Essean society is given a thorough treatment. He is convinced that such a connection exist, and he makes the assumption that the scroll “The New Pact” have been the source of the New Pact – on Christian platform. He writes in his book: Les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte:
“All of The New Jewish Pact advice and prepare The New Christian Pact. The Gaelic teacher as he appears to us in The New Testament turns out as a strange reincarnation of The Teacher of Righteousness.
As him, he preaches repentance, modesty, love for one’s neighbour, purity. As him, he commanded to observe the Law of Moses,, all of the law, but the law perfected in accord with his own particular revelation. As him, he was the chosen and God’s Messiah – Messiah as the saviour of the world. As him, he was subjected to animosity from the priests in the Sadducees’ party. As him, he was convicted an executed. As him, he pronounced the verdict on Jerusalem, which, for having sentenced him to death, was seized and burned by the Romans. As him, he founded a society of believers that with burning desire await his glorious homecoming.
Just as in the Essean society, in the Christian Church the sacrament is the most important of the rituals where the priests preside. In both, there is at the head of each diocese an overseer – “bishop”. The ideal is in both churches above all unity, the coming together in charitable work.
All these similarities – I cannot here fully cover the subject – constitute an almost hallucinatory likeness. This question also raises itself: Which of the two sects – the Jewish or the Christian – are oldest? The answer leaves no doubt: The Teacher of Righteousness died about 65/63 BCE. Jesus – the Nazarean - died 30 years CE. Everywhere likeness forces or invite to presume a loan, the loan has been by Christendom. But on the other hand, the faith in Jesus, as formed by the new church, can hardly be explained without a real, historical activity by a new prophet, e new Messiah that have flared anew and become the focus of human adoration.”
Returning to Paul, the emphasis on his connection with Damascus hardly is just coincidental. Professor Frank Cross jr. at Harvard that has participated in later excavations of Dead Sea scrolls, have by and by became convinced that Damascus was a code word used by the sect for the society’s headquarters at the Dead Sea.
Then, we may understand the peculiar comment in Paul’s letter to the Galatians – that he did not immediately go to the Apostles in Jerusalem, but went to Arabia and Syria for three years. All of Paul’s written production incidentally is full of oriental Gnosis and mystery expressions, thus he often speaks of “Christ in me”.
Paul is a parallel to Aaron who was spokesman for Moses, as Paul has become with respect to Jesus and his teachings. The later excavations at the Dead Sea fully confirm the supposition that the sect was an Essean society.
The literature about these findings has become very large.
The times at the beginning of the Common Era were favourable for a new or renewed religion. And Christendom found the soil fertile as soon as it had been planted in the world. To understand one of the reasons for its rapid spreading in the first centuries after Jesus’ death, one also need to know a little about the Roman worship of the emperor that so to speak had prepared the ground for the success of the gospel.
The Roman Empire had to a large extent torn down national and cultural differences between the peoples, that had become included more or less solidly in a great common with an international language – Koine-Greek. The mercantile-political interrelationships reached levels never before attained. Greek spirit and Greek culture attempted keeping the parts together as a whole.
In these times of turmoil, when the peoples felt rootless because they had been uprooted from their former national and religious context, a deep deterioration ensued in the religious and moral life. Moral ruin and sadness spread in ever widening circles. People turned away from the gods of their forefathers. But through the din of the fall sounded the longing for the great peace, justice and agreeable living conditions.
With emperor Augustus, hope seemed to enter among all the despair. A new age announced it’s coming. The emperor was praised by the poets as a saviour sent from heaven. A national-Roman era began; reverence for the gods of old was restored. With Emperor and court in the lead, writers and artists followed in the work of restoration.
The ancient cult was started with Augustus himself as Pontifex Maximus. Temples were restored and new ones were built. But the old religious ideas were no longer alive – it all turned out as a more or less empty game or political powerplay.
Far more success befell an entirely new trait in the religious life - namely the worship of the Emperor himself as god. This worship of the emperor also had its roots in the past. It is known already from Babylon, and not least from Egypt, where the Pharaoh since about 3000 BCE had the title: The good god. Besides, he was considered as being the son of the Sun-god. Also the Persian kings were regarded as gods or half divine beings. The Greek honoured their great men and philosophers with divine adoration. Platon, for example, soon after his death began to be seen as the son of Apollo. Aristotle even had an altar built for him. Alexander the great was accorded divinity as the secont Dionysos and son of the god Amon. Seleukids as well as ptolomeians let themselves be adored as gods or saviours. Emperor Augustus’ official title was Emperor of emperors – chosen by Ptah and Nun – the son of the sun – forever living. In the year 9 BCE when the Julian calender was introduced in the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and the beginning of the year be moved to the emperors birthday, 23. September, it was written: “What could be more pleasing and useful than the most divine Emperors birthday that we rightly may consider as equivalent with the beginning of everything? He gave the whole world, that otherwise would have perished, a new look. – The day of the birth of the god was for all the world the beginning of all the good tidings that he has brought.”
Temples were built to honour him. On Alexandrian coins he was depicted as the Son of God. The emperor himself nevertheless displayed some restraint with respect to his status as god. Thus, he rejected the title of “Lord” in a religious context. Gradually it became customary for emperors to be declared gods – by the senate. No fewer that 27 emperors thus became proclaimed gods.
The title “Lord” or “God” was often used as an official title while they still were alive.
The emperors were accorded miraculous powers, the sick were healed; they could provide rain in times of draught and so on. Worship of the emperor became a part of the official religion of the state aimed at uniting the various peoples of the Roman Empire into one. All citizens were obliged to participate in this worship of the emperor, even if they were allowed to indulge in private religious worship as well. This international cult of emperor worship with its terminology undoubtedly contributed to preparing the soil for the acceptance of the gospel of Christ with its universal ideas and monotheism.
Also the great mystery-religions had broken boundaries between the peoples. The widespread acceptance that the mysteries of Osiris – Isis – Attis – Adonis – and Dionysos had, witness to the needs they had to satisfy.
Christianity was however to have its most dangerous enemy in the Persian mysteries of Mithra that had spread throughout the entire Roman Empire. Incidentally, a Mithra-temple from the time the Romans occupied England has recently been excavated in London. But Christendom brought something additional that the other religions lacked.
It was not only because of favourable political constellations that the teaching of Christ won – it won by its own strength, the universal human character of the lore and the universal need present for a religion that can liberate man’s bound possibilities and provide unification of outer and inner life.
Al creation of symbols – be it dream, art or religion builds on the past and its elements. It therefore is quite in order that old building blocks are used. What is new is the way the individual elements are arranged in a way that the contents and the total picture becomes new and in accordance with the development of consciousness and man’s fundaments. Therefore, it does not diminish the quality of a religion if elements from other or earlier religions are used. The main point is a new order – new contents – a new perspective – such that the religion becomes an adequate means of expressing man’s inner life and the right direction for development.
Christendom was a reorganization, new ordering and further development of the religious language. It represents a displacement of accent from the “Law” to the spiritual-emotional area, and now in the direction of intellect and logos, such that it may represent all areas of life. Only the culture that is able to orient itself in accordance therewith, have the potential for renewal and survival.
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The inner aspect of Christendom.
Christ may a thousand times have been born in Bethlehem, but if not born in yourself,
your soul will be lost; On the cross of Calvary he will hang in vain, unless it is raised anew in yourself!
In the four gospels of the Bible we find the account of Jesus’ life and teaching. There exist no contemporary document that may confirm his existence. The first to mention him is the Roman historian Tacitus, who mentions him in a brief remark in one of his books that he wrote about 115 CE. It is possible that his knowledge stems from Christian sources. Anyway, his information is of little or no value in the way of evidence for the historical validity of the character of Jesus.
In reality, it is a quite peripheral question whether Jesus have lived or not. The character of Christ in the Christian religion is of symbolic value – and as spokesman for timeless and fate-determinant lows and truths. It may sound paradoxical, but Christendom would be clearer and idea-historically of greater importance if it could be proven that he had not lived, or at least that his life had not been exactly as described in the Bible. Each individual then would become responsible for himself, for his own liberation and development. The intentions of Christendom then with far more ease might become a reality, because then one would not have the entirely literal content to lead astray to the degree that we see now.
If Christendom should depend on an outer historical one-time event, it would for example be of equal importance to determine the historical data for the Holy Spirit, which also has been accorded a literal action in history – in the shape of tongues of fire.
When Christendom wants to depend only on a historical claim, it builds on sand. If evidence suddenly would be presented, showing that the historicity of Jesus is not true, the entire framework would collapse. And it will, given the way it is conceived and preached today.
The Essean society by the Dead Sea is such a threat, because it is the missing link with other religions.
Ten thousands of fragments from hundreds of scriptures now have been excavated and shines new light into the dark corners.
It is becoming clear that Christendom is not the original contribution to world history that has been thought.
We find with this Qumran-sect – who did not call themselves Esseans – but “The society of the new pact” – familiar ideas, doctrines, sentences and ceremonies. Even passages from the Sermon on the Mount are found in these caves – written long before the birth of Christ.
These finds undoubtedly will revolutionize our view of Christendom and its contents.
It is no longer possible to claim that it came into the world caused by supernatural action. That is no longer belief - but SUPERSTITION.
The importance of Christendom lies on quite another level. And its reality is of quite a different character than we to this day have believed end tried to live up to.
The impact of Christendom form now on lies in that it may begin to engage the inner man and thereby also be relevant for mankind’s living together in a quite different and more far reaching manner than before.
Christendom may from now on become existential and relevant for everyday life and men’s structure in constructive manner that may liberate the individuals and prepare the ground for a global living together.
The elements of Christendom and its symbols, being of common human character may take hold in each of us and give development of society a new direction
Christendom thereby would become of immensely greater importance than it is today – and it would get fundamentally new perspectives, when its idea-historical importance is being accepted and understood.
The sooner the theologians dare leave the lost bastions and assume new, safe positions that can stand attacks by materialism, power struggle and everyday baseness – the better they may serve their calling as spiritual guides and birth helpers for citizens of the world.
These are thoughts of the scope required by the atomic age - if we are to survive!
The reality of Christendom is of mental and idea-historical nature. It therefore is independent of a historical reality for its symbols. Religions are a language of symbols; as long as this is not recognized it will be conceived literally and as a historical phenomenon – with the fatal misunderstandings that follows from this.
It is clear that the gospels were not written while Jesus was alive, not even shortly after his death. None of the gospel-handwritings that we have are originals, they are all copies; the oldest – a small papyrus fragment – was written in the first part of the second century and contains only a few verses of the gospel of St. John.
With respect to chronology the commonly accepted view is that the gospel of St. Mark is the oldest, written probably between the years 70 and 80. Yjen comes the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and Acts probably written around the years 80 to 100. The apocalypse of John probably was written shortly before the centennial, with the gospel of the same name originating a little before or after the same time.
The oldest scripts in the New Testament are believed to be the letters of Paul, with the earliest maybe written about 50 CE.
The three first gospels Matthew – Mark and Luke are called the synoptic, i.e. they may be seen simultaneously.
the work of analysing the material, they were ordered in three parallel columns since their contents were rather similar; they could then be looked at simultaneously, in other words, they were syn-optic.
It is believed that after Jesus’ death, some of his words and accounts of his acts were written down. Such a collection of “sayings”; Oxyrynchus, were found in Egypt in 1897. It was a rather small papyrus fragment containing Jesus-words that are not found in the Bible. For example:
Unless you forsake the world, you will not find the kingdom of God; and if you do not observe the Sabbath, you will not see the Father.
I came forth in the world and revealed myself to the world, and I found them all drunk and no one sober among them. And my soul worries about man’s children, for they are blind in their hearts and see not themselves their poverty.
Jesus says: and so on.
In all probability, the gospels of Matthew and Luke are created from Mark and a collection of “Jesus-words.”
If all that the two gospels share with Mark is removed, what remains is mostly just such Jesus-words.
Since much of this are common to both Matthew and Luke, there is ample reason to believe that they have been created from the older gospel of Mark and a compilation of speeches, the so-called “Logia-source” as this hypothetical, but most likely collection of sayings has been called. The author of the gospel of Matthew has ordered the logia-stuff in 6 large speeches, placed where Mark provide an opening for that by first having referenced a few words by Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is one of these logia-compilations. Smaller logia-groups have also been put at various places in the gospel bearing his name. The author of the gospel of Luke, on the contrary, has placed the major part of the logia in two inserts – “the small” and “the large”, also called the travel account, with an account of Jesus being travelling for Galilee to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter.
it is not only the ordering of the logia that is different, they also differ somewhat from each other. This may be because two closely related collections of speeches have been used. The gospel of Mark probably was written by Mark – the apostle Peter’s interpreter. His mother’s house in Jerusalem became the meeting place for the first Christian congregation. This gospel of Mark probably was written with a pagan-Christian public in mind. The last twelve verses about the resurrection of Christ, are considered as later additions.
The author of the gospel of Mathew is unknown. It must have been written for pagans or Jewish-Christians outside of Israel. It attempts to portray Jesus’ life such as it was prophesised by the prophets. Therefore, the Sermon on the Mount becomes a parallel to Moses’ lawgiving on Mt. Sinai – likewise, the 40 days fast are known traits both from Moses and Elias. The author of Matthew stresses that Jesus’ acknowledge the Law of Moses, it just needs to be interpreted correctly.
The author of the gospel of Luke, who most likely also wrote Acts, may be identical to the gentile Christian “physician” that accompanied Paul on some of his travels. It probably also is aimed at gentile Christians. Universalism is more pronounced there than with the other synoptics. Therefore, this gospel contains an account about the 70 disciples (corresponding with the concept of the 70 elders and the 70 peoples) in addition to the apostles. Another characteristic trait that may be mentioned is that this gospel more than the others emphasize the dangers of wealth and material abundance.
The gospel of John is quite different both in form and content than the three synoptics. This also applies to such things as the location for Jesus’ activities. While the three first gospels places this in Galilee and lets Jesus go to Jerusalem for the last Easter, with John, the life of Jesus is mainly placed in Judah, and the account centers on five visits to Jerusalem during Jewish celebrations. The contents are universalistic and philosophically coloured, they were probably aimed at the Greek world, which to a large extent was influenced by the
spiritual content of the mystery religions. *)
These four gospels gradually gain greater and greater authority to the detriment of the other gospels, as for instance the gospel of Peter, the Egyptian gospel and so on. About 170 CE, Tatian, a disciple of Justitianus compiled the gospels of Matt, Mark, Luke And John into a single script, the so-called Tatians gospel harmony, that became used by the Syrian church for centuries.
Quite early, the four lasting gospels must have become established practice to the detriment of the others. The church father Irenaeus tries to give an explanation for this. The number shall correspond with the four corners of the earth, the four major winds, the four faces of the Cherubs and God’s four pacts – with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Christ. But the reason it became four gospels instead of one, certainly also have causes. Among other things, one or more of these quite likely had gained popularity in certain dioceses, therefore there would be reluctance towards abandoning any of them also for this reason. Also, it is highly probable that it was considered of value to have a many-voiced apostolic witness. Both the gospels of Matt and John bore the name of an apostle, Mark was connected with the apostle Peter, as his interpreter. And Luke was a disciple of Paul.
The letters are mainly selected on grounds of the desired apostolic authorship. They were quite sceptic towards scripts that did not bear the name of an apostle. Therefore, the New Testament canon finally included scripts considered as having been written by men of apostolic times. Thus, the Hebrew-letter was included because it was thought to have been written by Paul. *)
*) For the many prophesies, parallels and discrepancies in the gospels, reference may be made to, among others, Werner Harenbergs’ articles in “Der Spiegel”, no’s. 15 and 16 – 1966.
*) Recently, new doubts have been raised about whether Paul actually have written all the letter attributed to him. His letters have been analysed by a computer loaded with statistical data. The results seems to confirm that only 4 or maybe 5 letters, namely Romans, 1. 2. Corinthians
A large number of apocryphal scripts by and by were taken out, for example The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, The herd of Hermas, the gospels Peter, Andreas, Thomas and so on. The Apocalypse of John remained controversial for a long time, at least within the Greek-Roman church.
The New Testament as we know it, is the account of the house builder from Nazareth. It is his lore and life buit into a mystical framework of essential symbols about life, death and resurrection, the ancient images of the human mind about development towards consciousness and harmonic conduct of life, individually as well as collectively. Jesus reveals the pattern of how mankind is made. We should all realize The impulse of Christ. It is alive in us; we just have to provide conditions for growth.
The Saviour revealed man’s inner pattern by his life and by his lore – he had come to the world to witness for truth. He showed mankind the sign of Jonah – the mystery of death – resurrection – and life – transported from the sea to Calvary, i.e. from subconscious to consciousness.
After the death of Jesus, myth and legends soon began to be woven. The web became more detailed and artistic as time went by; the patterns were not quite new, even if the embroidery shows many original traits. Jesus himself, his life and acts, were placed in a mythological frame that should tie him together with God and the past as a fulfilment of prophecy. While Mark and John are silent about Jesus’ family lineage, Matt and Luke present each their particular family tree, but they are quite different for each other. The purpose in both cases was to try and prove that Jesus belonged to the royal lineage of David – a requisite for the true Messiah. But Jesus was also associated with God, he was not a regular human being. Therefore he was conceived by the holy ghost - thereby Joseph, supposed to be of David’s lineage was ousted. But thereby, the connection with David’s lineage also is broken.
Galateans, and possibly also Philemon are written by one and the same person, supposed to be Paul, but of course no evidence for this exist.
By the end of the 19th century some interest was awakened when in an ancient Syrian hand-script the following text was discovered: “Jacob begat Joseph, Joseph to whom Mary, the virgin, was engaged – begat Jesus. Many wanted to see that as evidence that the virgin birth was something that had been added later in the history of Christendom. Even Paul seems not to have known about it. But the account of the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus is not affected by these words in the Syrian script, for all the rest of the chapter remains unchanged. The most likely explanation is that the copying scribe just mechanically repeated the same syntax as he already had been using 39 times before in the family tree..
The Biblical account of the wondrous virgin birth that belonged within the frame of the great divine characters, probably stems from the apocrypha of late Judaism and the sects behind them – a concept that they most likely had adopted from other religions. It is a certainty that they had the old traditions behind them in the near Orient.
If the birth of Jesus and all that is connected with it had been supernatural in nature, it seems quite impossible to understand that his mother and closest associates did not acknowledge his divine nature. On the contrary, they thought he was mad.
Christ did not correspond with the Jews’ official concept of Messiah; therefore they have never recognized him as such. The Messiah of Christendom is lord of a world of Spirit and in the Kingdom of God that is in each and everyone of us.
The shape given to the character in the New Testament probably has a number of different sources. The society behind “The New Pact” did for example not expect him as a descendant of David.
At a certain time the Jews had two different expectations of Messiah. One was the concept of Messiah as the son of David – Messiah ben David – an earthly, literal ruler. This expectation lives on in Judaism.
The other Messiah-concept in particular related to the Northern kingdom, was the expectation of the Anointed as the Son of Joseph – Messiah ben Joseph – a concept that soon disappeared from official Judaism *)
But just this version must have found its way into Christendom, possibly via some mystery sect. It is worth noting that Jesus is said to stem form the heathen Galilee – from the Northern kingdom.
Many parallels can be found between the legend of Joseph and the life of Jesus – traits that are roo numerous for them to be just a coincidence.
Jesus had 12 apostles, and later the 70 disciples were sent out – something that goes back to the cosmic heroes of the Zodiac, the tribes of Israel, the “elders” of the nation, and the number of peoples. When Judah falls away, Matthias is first chosen in his place – later, Paul arrives as the 13th. Jacob’s sons counted 12. When Jacob went to Egypt with all his house, there were 70 souls altogether. Joseph’s two sons, Manasse and Ephraim become included among the brothers. When Joseph dies, the number becomes 13. Also here, two are added to the original number – and the sum is the same, 13.
Joseph was an interpreter of dreams – of symbols – One-who-reveals—secrets as he also was called. Jesus often spoke in parables and images that he translated and interpreted. Both had insight into the world of symbols.
And they became themselves symbols.
Joseph was sold for 20 shekel of silver – as suggested by Judah. Jesus was betrayed by Judas – the Greek form of Judah – for 30 pieces of gold. The different numbers probably are significant for succeeding steps of development. Joseph and his work is in the domain of the soul and the material world – corn was his means of liberation. Jesus and his world are at the spiritual level. Thought – spirit – has become conscious road to salvation and decisive reality. This is underscored also by Jesus, according to legend, being placed in a manger. Corn – the plant – is replaced by Man.
*) See: Das alte Testament in Licht des alten Orients by Alfred Jeremias, Leipzig 1930.
Joseph was thrown in the empty well that became the entrance to glorification. Jesus was placed in an empty crypt at Calvary, the name of the roof of the skull covering the brain. Jesus and his lore therefore lies entirely on the level of spirit. Man’s consciousness and soul have become alpha and omega.
Both Jesus’ birth and death are connected with the name of Joseph, since the crypt belonged to a Joseph of Aramitea, Joseph and his father both went to Egypt – as did also Jesus and hid father. This heavy emphasis on the Nile-country expresses a unity between Judaism, Christendom, Egyptian mystery religion and the monotheism that had its origins in Egypt. We may remember that Joseph was married to the daughter of the high priest in the city of the Sun – Helioplis –On.
Joseph was preferred before his brothers by his father. Among other things, he was given a royal robe. Jesus for his part stood in a particular and loving son-relationship with his heavenly father. Also the robe of Jesus was particular. It was without seams – woven as one piece – the symbol of spiritual coherence and unity of the soul. The robe of Jesus did not look like the emperors – his kingdom was not of this world.
Joseph went obediently to his brothers in Sikem, even if he knew the dangers – a parallel to Jesus trip to Jerusalem. For both of them, blood was used as evidence for their death; Joseph’s bloody, torn robe was shown to his father. And blood and water flooded out of the wound of the Saviour.
In Reuben’s speech of defence one may recognize Pilate. Ruben, as the oldest of the brothers should have been in command in the same way as Pilate had command over Jesus – as representative of the Roman Empire.
Joseph resisted the temptations of Potifar’s wife – a theme being the main motif of a very popular and widely read Egyptian story.
Nor Jesus did not fall when tempted by the devil. Bu tit may be noted that the temptation facing Jesus was of an entirely different character – spiritual values were at stake.
Both Joseph and Jesus were imprisoned and accused of crimes of which they were innocent. The one was imprisoned for 3 years, the other spent 3 days – a number probably related to the cycles of the moon. It takes 3 days from the smallest no to the newest new. In the prison, Joseph met pharaoh’s MUNNSJENK and baker. One was released to freedom, the other killed and hung on a tree. We recognize the two bandits on the cross – one would be going to paradise. That the cupbearer was to survive must be because he represented wine – the spiritual principle. In earlier times it was thought that there was a spirit – spiritus – that cause the particular effect.
On the other hand, the baker symbolise the material – corn must perish. Further development would continue with the great successor to Joseph.
Both Joseph and Jesus begin their work at 30, probably as an expression of maturity. For both of them, debasement and suffering became the starting point and the road to glory. Joseph also was called Zofnat- Paneah, - the World’s saviour, a title also applied to Jesus. The two saviours both were thought to be dead. But death was not real – it was of a symbolic nature. “Death” was a necessary prerequisite for the ensuing glory.
Joseph was of a forgiving nature; he did not return is brothers evil. It was also the principle of Jesus to break the power of evil by meeting it with love and understanding.
Joseph’s identity was long held hidden from the brothers until he gave himself away to them. It also lasted long before Jesus revealed to them his identity – as Messiah.
There is in the legend of Joseph also an element of a consciously arranged accusation – leading to “arrest” – “trial” – and clarification with a consolidation of the house of Jacob with joy – a parallel to what took place at Jesus’ death. We refer to the account of how a silver beaker was placed in the bag of one of the brothers at his departure from Egypt.
The travelling party was apprehended – ransacked - the whole party was returned – with the ensuing result.
Dr. Hugh Schonfield – well known Jewish historian- who also have written the books “The Jew of Tarsus – a Life of Paul” – “Saints against Caesar” – “The authentic new Testament” (Schonfields own translation of the new testament) – “The Secrets of the Dead Sea Scroll” and “The Bible was right” , shortly before Christmas 1965 sent a torch into the religious debate with the book “The Passover Plot” – or “The Easter Plot”.
Schoenfeld has ever since his younger days and throughout a long career as researcher been occupied with Jesus and his relationship with the religious and social conditions in Palestine at the beginning of the current era.
Sconfield makes the supposition that Jesus, being from “heathen land” , Galilee was a person deeply and seriously worried about the salvation of his people from fall and UNDERGANG. The land was occupied by the Romans who ruled with iron, blood and crucifying.
He studied the religious scriptures very thoroughly, and by and by, he came to the conclusion that he was the Messiah intended to save his people. He knew all that had been predicted about him in the holy scriptures and therefore could proceed according to that.
Schonfield is of the opinion that Jesus – who also had learned from the Essenes and other sects, - particularly the Nasarenes, - made a carefully prepared plan for action – to culminate in death on the cross – which he intended to survive according to a carefully thought out plan – of which incidentally the apostles were not informed so that he had to rely on helpers outside of apostolic circles.
The plan was carefully made such that Jesus calculated that court proceedings and crucifying would be executed in a way that would ensure he would hang on the cross only for a few hours- because the next day would be Sabbath. The law required the bodies to be removed by then.
This mode of execution was preferred by the Romans, and it was not by itself fatal. Death came after a prolonged time because of pain, exhaustion, thirst and hunger. It all went according to plan. Schonfield assumes that Jesus by a helper was given some kind of anaesthetic from the sponge that he was given, so that it would seem like he was dead. The story tells that shortly thereafter, he gave up his spirit.
After having been taken down, he should be taken care of by his helpers - so that he might survive. In this manner Jesus thought that the prophecies would be fulfilled – they do not say that the Messiah necessarily should die – but that he should be spared death.
But the plan failed on an important and unforeseen point. A Roman soldier not being convinced that Jesus was dead, pierced his side with a lance – and his life could not be saved.
Schonfield have strangely enough not been aware of the parallel between Jesus and the Legend of Joseph, - but the moment of the fake accusation seems to support the supposition about a connection – perhaps the way Schonfield suggests.
The clear parallel between these two saviour-characters that nobody before seems to have been aware of – becomes clearer with the continued study of the Dead Sea scrolls. The British scientist John Allegro, lecturer in the Old Testament at the University of Manchester and member of the 8-man team working on the translation of the scrolls, in January 1966 made a statement that the study of the scrolls may lead to the conclusion that for instance the apostles are not historical persons – but rather mythological characters
signifying among other things positions of office in the sect of the Essenes – for instance the one entrusted with the handling of money.
Judas is in John XIII, 29 described as the one carrying “the purse”, i.e. the keeper of the money. In Aramaic, this is “ish sacariob” – the name Iskariot is easily recognizable.
There now seems to be sufficient grounds for the view that the gospels also are a framework around the central secrets of existence with the Jesus-figure and the Christ-impulse at the centre.
As a curiosum, it may be mentioned that in 1883, an exhibit of three ancient parchment scrolls found in a cave by the Dead Sea, was shown in the British Museum. The find was however considered a forgery, and nobody knows what happened to these scrolls.
All the common elements that I have mentioned show that traits from the legend of Joseph must have been used in creating the mythical framework around Jesus. They share too much in common that it may be just coincidental.
The symbols of the latter version are to some extent been applied in a new manner in another setting – another aspect. Evolution has progressed to a new level, with emphasis shifted from the body-soul sector to man as a spiritual being. Corn therefore no longer serves as the means of salvation. The mission of the character of Joseph has come to an end. The new saviour of the world should work on the level of mentality.
A discontinuity in time had arrived, when man should realize himself as a being of spirit.
The cupbearer – representative of the spirit - shall satisfy the possibilities of man – therefore he was given free. One character has retained his function quite unchanged, namely Juda – Judas, the one who sets suffering in motion – the prerequisite for realization, liberation and the new life. In this respect, man can hardly be expected to change. The greed for money – materialism – even then got suffering going.
What is the status of the project of release of man’s possibilities as a thinking being? For the time being, it looks bleak. But the situation is difficult, even impossible to judge for us who live in the final phases of a cultural cycle.
The world is in the melting pot and writhes in pain – a new way of life is in the process of being created. The reason why development have been sidetracked to where it is today, have been caused, as repeatedly mentioned before not lest the dominance from the natural sciences, causing the building of culture to skew. We all may think we understand the utility of them (the natural sciences), the practical consequences can be felt and seen. The funding authorities may get immediate and profitable results from their investments. And last, but not least: Science only to a small degree clash with morals, way of life and cultural pattern – in contrast to the laws governing mans psychic dynamics and development. Even the smallest sign of breach of conventions, accepted views and personal symptomatic is being met with fierce resistance of formidable dimensions.
The victory of the natural science was a given when the church had nothing to counter with, except for religious dogma and letters that had been made alpha and omega in the religious life. Under this banner, religion was condemned to lose. Evolution most likely would have been different if the Church had upheld the ancient’s insight into the dynamics of the soul and its connection with the inner aspect of religion. The Church instead – due to its lack of spiritual power – had to resort to fire and burning as long as that worked.
If the Church had retained the inner truths about man, it might have said: It is all to the good with science and research, in all fields. The more we can learn, the better it is. But it is the truth about man’s inner reality that alone is of importance and by which everything else needs to be judged.
But this, the Church could not do – because it had no inner coverage for it’s use of symbols and imagery-speech.
And the results were inevitable.
Neither the cupbearer nor the Holy Spirit means anything to modern man – because bridges leading from symbol to reality.
The legend of Joseph undoubtedly also is related to ancient star-mythology. The sun, moon and the 11 signs of the Zodiac bowed before him. It has even been suggested that Joseph is a symbol for the star Spica – KORNAKSET – in Virgo. Thereby he becomes connected with Jesus even by the aspect of astral concepts. Virgo is one of the 12 houses of the Zodiac, an ancient concept dating probably back to about 5000 BCE. The virgin then was the sign of summer solstice and the northernmost point of the Zodiac. According to ancient Sumerian ideas, the great heavenly mother goddess had existed even before creation of the earth. She was the first divine god, and thus must have created herself – she was a virgin – made pregnant by a dove – the symbol of spirit. As a star-sign, she was depicted as holding a spike – SPICA – in her hand. The word is Latin, and means ‘spike of corn’. It was her son – the god of corn. Later, she became depicted with the divine child on her lap.
According to the Julian calendar, the longest night of the year was the night between 24th and 25th December. Then, for example the Persian sun-god, Mithra, was born by the heavenly virgin. That night it is announced in their temples: “The virgin has given birth to a child! The light is increasing!”
The sign of the Zodiac that this night stood over the Bethlehem sky was Virgo with Spica as the brightest star. The next sign by its side was Bootes – the guardian of the bull – who should guard the divine child – the bull – which was the sign in which the sun stood about 2000 BCE before moving to VÆREN’s eller LAMMETS bilde.
The star Spica that at midnight 24th -25th December ascended over Bethlehem was the divine, newborn child – and the star of Bethlehem?*)
Jesus death on the cross is by many seen as part of a mystery drama. Others have suggested that Jesus may have been executed as a dummy king – or scapegoat.
*) From Jeremy Wasiutynski, Verden og Geniet. Oslo 1943.
The Jews had in their Purim-feast that originally coincided with Eastertime, taken over the custom of executing people – albeit only in effigy. But it cannot be ruled out that they may also have employed convicts for the same purpose. In the ancient custom of scapegoats, one was set free while the other was chased into the desert and FORTAPELSEN. It is possible that the Jews used to let one convict go free, while the other had to die – in the role of king – a fake king – a continuation of the practice of scapegoat.
In the account of Barabbas we may possibly see confirmation of this. The meaning of the symbolism is to remove all guilt. What is burdened with guilt, should get life when the burden of guilt was taken away. Barabbas – the culprit – was given life, while Jesus had to die.
That this account is of particular significance – that it not only refers to an actual event, but that it is symbolic in nature with a connected meaning, may be seen from what is written about Barabbas: “And they had a strange prisoner named Barabbas.” One of the strange things is that among other things, Barabbas means the Son of the Father. Then,maybe it is not so strange after all. The one who was burdened with guilt – the murderer, the villain, got freedom. The scapegoat – the one to carry sins – Jesus – should die. The “Son of the Father” had to die for the “Son of the Father” to gain life.
This expresses the idea that transformation should take place in each individual – in one and the same person.
In the Babylonian Zakmuk-celebrations, a forerunner of Purim, it is told about the one who had to play the tragic role: They take one condemned to death, puts him on the royal throne and give him the royal robe. They let him rule and run wild. And nobody prevents him from doing what he wants. But afterwards, they undress him, scourge and crucify him.” If such a custom has had any influence on the story about Jesus suffering and death, we don’t know. But the similarities are clear.
All the religious symbolism that has been with man since prehistoric times is not explained just by the recognition of the existence of the symbols, neither by uncovering their origins and development. What is of importance is this:
What do they mean?
For which realities of the human mind and human life are they relevant? Understanding of the nature of religion and its function depends on a real clarification of these cardinal issues.
In this age of materialism, these symbols are just considered as without significance, more like silly products of our fantasy and SUPERSTITION – without any real meaning and relevance for the real world. Nothing could be more wrong. Symbols – the realized, and maybe even more the un-realized – are on the contrary among the most important at all, since they are expressions of inner realities – all that which we cannot directly touch and feel – psychic laws, principles, functions, longings and hopes. If there is something that is important for mankind, it is to gain awareness of the spiritual realities and the functions that together constitute personality and with supremacy rule man’s inner and outer life. The key to understanding of the thread of cultural and historic evolution lies in this.
Since the deep of the soul have only one means of communication at its disposal – the language of images – it becomes of decisive importance for us to understand this language so that the real meaning of the symbols – their decoded contents – may be understood and the energies be employed in fullness.
It may be of use for those who think that existence is determined only by material conditions, to remember that the foundation for utilization of nature’s riches and the abundance in life are the insight into the laws of the material world and the acknowledgment of the principles being supreme master of man’s individual and collective life. Without a fundament of proper acknowledgment, chaos and disastrous conditions are bound to follow, such that nature ant the human brain will not be used for furtherance of life, but for destructive purposes. Even if declared in words that man’s happiness only depend on distribution of riches or poverty, everyone knows by himself that happiness and a harmonious life depend on other things: genetics, individual character, the spiritual climate of the rearing environment, bodily and spiritual health. Even for the “materialist”, ultimately it is his
goals and to reach them that is of the highest value and most important in his world – the driving force even here is spiritual in nature. Some use economic means to oppress his fellow men; others use other means of force. The point is the need for power – as compensation for inner dissonances!
If material abundance were what we need for a happy life, we would expect to find evidence for this claim. But nothing seems to indicate that rich people are happier than others. Rather the other way around. And someday, mankind will begin to show their standard by a simple way of life - such as the Bible tells man. For abundance and overindulgence lead to stagnation. This, the world increasingly will come to recognize anew.
If man gets stuck in a chain of growing material needs, he have entered a treadmill in which he is doomed to continue – further, further – always further, with no stop. As soon as one goal is reached, he is hunting for the next with insatiable hunger. Men trample each other underfoot, climb over each other in order to amass ever more of this worlds riches – causing destruction both for himself and his fellow men. The needs of ultimate materialism know no limit, and it will always lead to misery and disaster.
In a chain of psychic and spiritual needs, conditions are markedly different. The results are expanded insight and recognition, a harmonizing of existence, social behaviour and mastering of life’s material and spiritual opportunities. This will lead to a progression in development, so that man may become able to arrange his life in a more rational way than before. First, seek “The Kingdom of God”, and all the rest will be given.
Regrettably, today it is the technical sciences that are particularly revered. The lore about man’s inner life has been, and still is, the stepchild within the scientific disciplines. This has caused immense harm – and technology’s conquests have caused mankind great harm.
As a consequence of the symbolic language of the deep largely having been a terra incognita, the religious symbols have only to a small extent been understood as the primary images the human
soul have to employ in order to express its needs – longings – and hope.
The child as a symbol is also in a religious context the wish to live in full contact and joy of life – in complete confidence in oneself and the surrounding world. In the deepest of every human soul lives the wish to become as a child again – ever stronger with stronger blocks. The child is the wish for unfolding of life! And fullness of life!
About harmony and spontaneity! About new and right start! About happiness and joy of life! The child in the Christian religion has the same meaning. The child Jesus therefore shall be born in each one of us, that means we shall become renewed people who sees and approach life with new eyes and new strength – released from all that have been burdening and tearing one apart. Without in this sense becoming like a child again, one cannot enter the “Kingdom of God”.
For most people, life cannot be realized fully before all that ties down his forces have been cleared away. This is expressed by the deep by means of - death, that is the way this image-language is. Therefore, the symbolism of death runs like a red thread through most religions, who seems like they have become the religion of death, instead of a religion of life, of freedom of guilt, a religion of love – because the images are not being understood.
The symbolism of death mirrors the human soul’s longing for a new life. The suffering and death of Jesus is a protoype for this symbolism. By dying on the cross, he makes sins and guilt to nothing – and by this he wins the new - “eternal” - life. This talk of the symbols must be understood! – removal of guilt opens the door to life. Nut the sense of guilt can only be brought to lasting cessation by insight and understanding, with ensuing forgiveness.
If the death-symbolism becomes reduce to simply vulgar literalisms, faith needs to come to aid. Many may well feel lighter in mind by this. But there can hardly be any finite end of the personal conflict in this manner, but more like a treatment of symptoms of temporary effect only. Anxiety and sense of guilt will continue, causing constant need for “salvation”.
This becomes quite different if one may acknowledge what it is that for oneself
blocks life. This requires that the causality and the real meaning of the symbol is brought into daylight.
Only then, a lasting settlement of the conflict may ensue based on understanding of the causes. Then, faith is no longer required – i.e. faith in the correctness of the symbolism – clarification is followed by certainty and “change” – as experience and reality. A lot of people seems be able to get along with a regular literal understanding of the religious symbols. But those who need, and are equipped for it, must be allowed to learn about the real reality that lies behind the world of letters. “The Kingdom of God” which is not “of this world”. For “the ancients”, this was well known. Men like Clement of Alexandria and Origenes knew. Origenes says that the Bible has body or even meaning: soul – image-meaning and lastly spirit: A deep under-meaning. Secrets might to a large extent be hidden be hidden by numbers-mysticism. Each letter both in Hebrew and Greek corresponded to a certain number. Words of the same numerical value could were interchangeable. Thereby the meaning could be hidden for the uninitiated and unworthy who could not use, but only misuse the secrets of the kingdom of god.
That an individual sees the religious symbols more or less literally seldom leads to serious harm. But when the words and prophecies of scripture are used literally as a guide for human interrelationship it may easily lead to fatal consequences. It is by and by becoming rare to meet people who take everything in the Bible literally; it becomes more of a case of picking pieces that suits a person’s bent, and the actual situation.
A stumbling block has for many been the virgin birth. To maintain the dogma of literal parthenogenesis have offended many and caused much doubt and dispute. The dogma of virgin birth has many and deep roots down through the ages and in the human mind, something we have touched upon before. Jesus, to cleanse from sin, would himself have to be clean and unsoiled.
Additionally in virgin birth there is another symbolic section, that in most places have lead to a pronounced male hegemony, not least among the Jews, who lived in a typical patriarchate. Women, to a large extent are bound to the reproductive function and the homes, are being kept out of the social institutions. The purely physiological difference between the sexes does not apply only to the primary and secondary characteristics of gender. To a certain degree there may be differences that have an effect in other areas as well, like physical strength and distribution of spiritual functions. But these differences have been artificially enlarged and used. The process of forming required for this purpose begins at an early age. Various “male” and “female” characteristics are created in boys and girls. The former shall become active, energetic, intelligent, logical, strong and more or less callous. The “feminine” characteristics should belong to the motherly, soft, emotional, passive individuals – without intellectual pretensions. But it has not been possible to deprive woman her intuitive powers. But it must be emphasized that all these properties belong to both sexes. Suppression of the unwanted characteristics leads to disharmony and conditions of inner tension. The individuals become more or less half, twisted people. The disharmony leads to mechanisms of compensation and manoeuvres of relief. Women, as the oppressed, strive more or less consciously for power. Or, it manifests in pure literalism like mimicry of men’s clothing and manners.
Or, it leads to the two sexes becoming symbols for each other’s suppressed and crippled qualities with the ensuing sexual tensions.
The artificially enhanced and traditional difference with respect to male and female qualities leads for both sexes to inner tensions with a corresponding need for relief and restitution of the inner balance. And it leads to disharmonies right from the beginning for children born into such an environment of tensions.
On the background of these circumstances, the symbolism of virgin birth tells that harmonizing of the human mind consists of the individual’s acceptance of both his male and female qualities.
And, that the oppressive sense of guilt must go! Therefore the Saviour – Son of Man – the new, renewed man was created by amalgamating the specific male with the female principles of human nature: Virgin made pregnant by Spirit – the Holy Ghost – the Holy Ghost of Truth – ratio, consciousness. The redeemed man recognize and use – heart and brain – body and spirit – intuition and logos – in a creative cooperative, the character of Christ mirrors the mind of man in his longing for the true life – unification of the male and female qualities in a new life. Christ shall therefore be born in each seeking human in the shape of consciousness, joy of life and peace of mind. For the same reason he also shall suffer death in each one that strive for truth and redemption by means of understanding, acceptance and forgiveness. When this is experienced as a reality, the condemning temper disappears. Then - and only then – the life and lore of Christ may be become reality.
It may clearly be seen from the symbolism about virgin birth that Spirit represents the male principle in man – therefore it is the one that impregnate. Bu spirit needs to be seen also in another and wider context. It is an expression of conscious life and the realization that recognize and understand life’s secrets and connotations, connections. It is the tool that mediate between the source of life in the deep of us all – the inner guiding body, the mystery of life that we sense and call the living God – also called Spirit and Love. But the main tenet of virgin birth is the child within that we all need to return to and enliven!
The God of Christianity is a trinity, that is, it consist of three different elements – corresponding to the deity as being a projection of man’s inner organization with the three sections – will-active life – emotional life – and rational mind, woven together as one cooperating unity.
The Holy Spirit – the holy tool of truth – cannot be violated without leading to mans’ destruction. Therefore, the Bible uses the strongest language about this: “Wherefore I say unto you: All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” Matt XII – 31-32.
this heavy emphasis on the spirit probably stems from the Essenes, who were a prophetic society and as such was founded on recognition, understanding and interpretation of the scriptures. *)
They were absolutely right in their view of Spirit. It is indeed ideas, thoughts and attitudes – spiritual realities – that shapes the individual and determine history, cultural phases and directions of development. Often, just a single personality manage to make his mark on developments for millennia, as for example Confucius, Zoroaster, Moses, Christ-Paul, Muhammad, Socrates and Platon.
As mentioned, it has been very harmful that the historicity of Jesus has been made a cornerstone of Christendom. In reality, this is of quite subordinate significance, yes, it even contribute to banalization and literalism. What counts is the symbolic and spiritual reality and that thereby is the connection with the lore’s inner insights in the relationships for life, the universal validity of the symbols and the ethical quality. What is of importance is that Christ is the symbol of contact with life, freedom of guilt and the way to redemption. But then, he also becomes divine. For God is a projection and the concrete manifestation of the human follies and negative expressions of life – that again may become positive by means of insight and understanding of cause-effect relationships – when guilt and foolishness no longer enslave.
The life of Jesus itself – his birth – and death is the drama of the human soul and it’s salvation. Hardly any other religion expresses this symbolism shaped in such a simple and clear manner. Therefore, Christendom has the most favourable prerequisites for becoming an universal, common human religion – when it again becomes understood.
Not only due to its universal symbolism, but also in content and ethics, Christendom represents something epoch-making.
*) Chr. A. Bugge: Profetens folk og Christusmysteriet. Oslo 1951.
Nobody before had worreid about sinners – the misfits – the unhappy ones – except by having the excluded from “the just”. Especially Judaism with its innumerable observances – prohibitions and commandments – was very much a religion of laws. It was a religion only for the law-abiding who in most minute detail observed the requirements. Sinners were cast out and left to themselves without mercy.
Jesus broke radically with this attitude. He cared for the unfortunate. “I am not come to call the just, but sinners,” those were his words. He associated with publicans, i.e. accomplices of the occupation forces – and sinners – the most despicable of contemporary society. Jesus emphasized disposition. He came to bring unhappy, sinful people back to life – therefore, he threw no stone. He declared that the Father was the God of love and mercy who took care of the depraved and shipwrecked – those who no religion before had cared for. He brought hope into despair. But Jesus’ lore seems hard to follow. It requires understanding and forgiveness – which means that man can accept and understand also the negative expressions of life – sin – in himself, and thereby also in others. But the world today seems just as far from life and truth as in the days of Jesus.
Jesus was a revolutionary. He broke into a religion of commandments and into temple service. “And they come to Jerusalem; and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.”
Mark. 11 – 15-16
This was an unheard of provocation, because it broke into the services of the temple. We must be aware that money handling and trade with offer animals was a prerequisite for temple services such as they were practiced.
People hardly could carry animals over the distances involved here – therefore it had been arranged that they could buy animals at the temple. They also had to be faultless, and in the temple only inspected and approved were traded – so two operations had been consolidated into one.
We need to keep this in mind when attempting to judge the scope and impact of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, and why it awoke such deeply felt indignation and fear in contemporary Jews. *) Whether his behaviour in the temple was supported by the leaders of the Qumran-sect or not, they must have watched him with great interest. Because the Qumran-sect – which saw them selves as the true Israel – shared just the opinion that Jesus displayed in deed, with respect to the temple services.
Jesus’ lore is a reaction to the observance and literalism that lead to shallowness and peculiar evasions. He did not want to abolish the Law; he wanted it to have a real meaning behind its literal façade. Therefore he could say that he had come to fulfil the Law. He went beyond shallowness and letter – he continues the thread from the great prophets.
What counted was only the inside – the state of mind. That, and nothing else! And this he preached with strength and intensity, especially in his Sermon on the Mount. This sermon should not be understood literally as commandments absolutely to be observed. Doing so would be doing the same mistake that he had come to abolish. The Sermon on the Mount is an expression of the state of mind we may achieve when conditions are right.
Jesus here points out that what binds man and prevent his development is the condemning state of mind. But this stems from the guilt-morals with its accompanying ideals, projections and demand for power. Therefore, we see that in the capacity of doctor and healer, he performs by forgiving sins. And it produces results.. He was, like nobody else aware of the causal relation – one of the mainstays of his teaching.
The condemning disposition of mind, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, gets a thorough treatment and with deep insight into the causal relationship – that it results from the guilt-moral with its manoeuvres
*) See Hjamar Søderberg: “Den forvandlade Messias” and Joel Carmichael “Leben und Tad des Jesus van Nazareth.” 1966.
of loading and unloading in the form of outward projections – the replacement of one’s condemnation of oneself onto other people – to be haunted and criticized. The ordered regularity of this is clearly expressed in his great speech on the Mount. For example: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” The one depends on the other. If our sins are forgiven, we may forgive our debtors. And: We may forgive our debtors when we ourselves have become without guilt. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” He presents variations on this theme numerous places in his speech. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” In other words, unless you understand and forgive yourself, you cannot forgive others. They are like Siamese twins that cannot be separated. When these inner barriers and delusion have been removed, mans capacity for love may grow and prosper. Therefore, the God revealed by Jesus very different from Yahweh of the Old Testament. He bas become the God of love and spirit!
Jesus erase all of the Law of Moses’ letters and shallowness and give mankind the spirit and life of the Law, its meaning and fulfilment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all the heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Also here, there is a condition present. When there is full love inside to the wonder of life and the “power” in our inner due to guilt, anxiety and judgment being removed, external results ensue as an extension of the inner union. One may only love one’s neighbour as one loves oneself – i.e. accepts oneself.
Jesus also knew what we all now ought to know, that symptoms, delusions, inner darkness and the problem of evil cannot be solved with violence, use of force and balance of terror.
The greatness of Jesu lore becomes apparent when seen as a counterpoise to the commands and prohibitions of Judaism: Thus shall! Thou shall not! But Christendom has to a large extent been coloured by attempting to act as a counterpoise. The old commandments were replaced with new ones, in spite of Jesus wanting to safeguard against this by extreme wording
154 – as for instance of cutting off of limbs and tearing out of eyes – that absolutely all should understand that it is the mental attitude that mattered and not the letter – and that judgment and guilt stood in the ay of one’s cohabitation with God. Jesus was fully aware of the causality with respect to capacity for love – within as without. Therefore he might also have said: You may only love your neighbour as you love yourself! It is the burden of guilt that determine ones own capacity for love.
Since as a consequence of the guilt-moral coercion and the ensuing inner judgment there are only a few who have full respect for his own inner, there are a correspondingly small number who may display living love for their neighbour. And therefore the world is what it is today. When Jesus used such strong expressions about the condemning state of mind, he was in his full right. For it is the principle of retaliation and intolerance that is the main reason to the large human disasters – war and persecution of dissenters.
The ten commandments in their time represented a great step forward in development, even if they in our view may seem to represent only a minimum requirement for an ordered society. In times primitive and war-ridden where the law of the jungle and the right of the strongest was a too decisive factor in human life, the ten commandments came as a ray of light through the darkness with ethical demands that after more than 3000 years still stand unshaken. But as time went by, decay came sneaking in. The commandments were to be bypassed. Numerous sophistic interpretations were invented to circumvent the categorical imperatives.
Then came the great Renewer as a cleansing and fresh wind into all the formalism, hypocrisy and literalism.
Jesus above all emphasized the state of mind as the only thing that counted. In his grandiose Sermon on the Mount, with a commanding and steady hand he draws attention to the importance of the right attitude, such that love and humanism may become the lodestar for man’s way of conduct.
Nearly 2000 years have passé since the great teacher and knower of life from Galilee let his authoritative voice be heard,
and now, decay has long since again laid its clammy hand also on his preaching. Soon hardly none, be it priests or laymen, that can show much else than a helpless or compassionate shrug against the spirit and contents of the Sermon on the Mount. Anyway, man shows in practice that the demands of Jesus are not being honoured. Who sells all he owns and gives to the poor? How many Christians are pacifists and refuse to kill? A pale and withered formalism is about all that is left of hiss message. The world today needs another renewal. The ever more pressing question is this: How may we achieve the state of mind that according to Jesus needs to be present if the Law is to be man’s obvious yardstick as ordering fundament for conduct of life? Many may be of the opinion that it is more than blasphemy to attempt to “improve” the Master himself. To this, it may be replied that it seems far more blasphemic to neglect the demands laid down in the Sermon on the Mount.
But from where is renewal to come forth? Helplessness and bewilderment seems to increase every day without any signs of light in all the darkness.
We must believe that in our times, the conscious knowledge about the human mind and its functions is greater than at the time of Jesus. Without hesitation we therefore need to attempt to find ways of obtaining the state of mind, the attitude that Jesus demanded, and which is of decisive importance for man’s freedom and future. Only by an adequate solution to this cardinal question, the great renewal may come – the renewal so dearly needed. No means must be left untried may it look even so heretic. We should remember that also Jesus were considered as a heretic and was treated accordingly.
How may the commandments and the Sermon on the Mount be given a content that naturally blends into modern man’s needs and way of life? How may the laws of mans psyche be presented such that they become as decisive as knowledge of the laws of nature has been for the technical evolution?
Due to their form, the commandments and sayings of the Sermon on the Mount have been conceived as categorical imperatives regardless of whether conditions have been present or not. This has led to many of the directions have been considered unreachable and to some extent incomprehensible ideals with so inhumane demands that they have become without real meaning as guidelines for life conduct.
A command or prohibition will be conceived as a restriction on freedom of action if conditions for free observance is not present. Observance on such a fundament hardly will be able to create the attitude and the spirit in conduct of life that was the purpose Jesus had in mind. If the demands do not match in a natural manner with the attitude towards life and the degree of maturity, the result may be that the sense of guilt may rise to proportions that may stand in the way for a natural development of intellect and the spiritual maturity assumed in the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus sayings in the speech on the mount will receive a content that may resonate in all men, if the disposition Jesus preached is to be understood as an example of what may be obtained. The disposition Jesus preached may be found by all people – on one condition. That we assume an attitude towards expression of life – all life-expressions – aimed at understanding and not condemnation. Then, the road forward will be blocked wit bar and lock. Ikt si not without reason that Jesus in the Sermon urges: Judge not!
With this as our staring point, we will attempt to reach the spirit and meaning of the commandments.
The first commandment reads: You shall have no other gods besides Me!
The term God is a projection and concretisation of the cosmic power in life and matter. This source of life exist in all people as a unifying centre and it is only from this source that man can collect his power and his inner unifying unit to conduct of life and social life.
We therefore must not go astray and believe in manmade teachings and dogma that are without this connection and therefore is unable to release this divine creative power in each of us.
You therefore shall not worship or cling to anything but the cosmic power of life residing in your own inner!
The second commandment reads: You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Instead we might say: If negative expressions of life, deflections and delusions are elevated to goals for life and norms, the wells of life dries out – with chaos and decay as an inevitable result. The negative expressions of life – “sin” – must be understood and acknowledged. Thereby, energy may be rectified and directed through the proper channels. The third commandment: Remember the Sabbatgh day, to keep it holy. When you have accomplished the duties of the week, you need to rest and tune your mind to devotion and renewal. The fourth commandment: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. If you provide your children with a good start of life, and if you are to them a good example, they will honour you and they will fare well. The fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill! This is the first commandment that Jesus comments further, which shows how much emphasis he attached to its proper understanding. That the command is hard to live up to can be seen by how it is being sinned against, with the blessing of all state powers. Jesus emphasized that it was not sufficient just to abstain from the act itself – one should not even hat one’s fellow men. He mentions this later in the Sermon:
But I say unto you. That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite the on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also, And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him in twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. You have heard that it hath been said: Thou shalt love thy neigbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. .. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye do not even the publicans the same?
Finally he says: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
How then to achieve this reconciling disposition? What causes the condemning censoriousness and the hard hearts? And the aggression that appears in ever more varied forms, not lest as intolerance? Aggression and the condemning censoriousness are to a large extent caused by the moral commands that are being forced into one during childhood without understanding as a necessary requisite for harmonization and coordination. The moral commandments then are conceived as restrictions, and against the barriers then arise the demands from the deep of the soul to make oneself free from the restricting ties. This may result in open or hidden hate towards those who appear as representatives of restrictiveness. Hate looks up or finds legal channels as for instance persecution of representatives of opposing ideas – or war.
With guilt and anxiety as overseer of how life is conducted, mechanisms will be activated for persecution of other people showing signs of the same guilt-laden tendencies one self struggles to keep down. One persecutes one’s own faults – in other people. It is one’s own weaknesses one attempts to circumvent in this manner. If oneself bears no guilt, one neither has any guilt to project into others. As long as people are unable to understand themselves and their own reactions, they represent a potential danger by their intolerance and condemning disposition.
Jesus therefore made so much effort in attempt to make the spirit of the fifth commandment common knowledge – without sophistic expounding by bishops, or other ways of theological fancy expounding.
The much mentioned sixth commandment reads: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Also this commandment is being given additional emphasis by Jesus, because it is important that it is understood. The symbols emplyed by the deep to make itself heard, often is expressed as sexual needs. They are symbolic demands – expressing themselves in a sexual context. Taking this symbolism literally is a symptom showing that the conduct of life is out of order and that barriers are sought overcome. But expressions of life in a literal- and symptomatic context are only a small step in the direction of inner liberation.
When conduct of life runs freely and without labour, this manifest itself as concentration, activity and joy in performing ones work. Then, interest is attached to one partner. Therefore the demands in this respect points to a situation where we shall strive to make ourselves free without barriers and compensating sexual desires. Jesus used dramatic images when talking about the sixth commandment – he was the popular speaker using metaphors that should be etched in his listeners mind. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck It out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” This is of course not to be taken literally; it is just a way of underscoring the importance of overcoming the sixth commandment, sexual symptomatic and other contact-less infantile modes of cohabitation. The seventh commandment seems simpler: Thou shalt not steal! It might perhaps be expounded somewhat by: In the interest of stable and happy social conditions it is necessary that each one is allowed to enjoy the fruits of his own work, and that one should not enrich oneself at the cost of others.
The eighth commandment of the Decalogue reads: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour!
If you are honest with yourself and make it a point to understand your own conditions, you will also be honest towards other people.
The tenth commandment reads: Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbour’s. Envy and greed are infantilisms and a halt of development cause by neglect of a child’s need for security, care and love. But compensations in a material and sexual subconscious chain of needs never bring any sense of happiness.
When morals become an outline of the main lines of the laws of life, restraint becomes unnecessary, and life’s line can be followed. Morals might simply be expressed in this one sentence: What you want others to do to you, do yourself unto them!
Realization of this moral imperative requires a maximal inner maturity. Therefore, it is seldom seen in real life, for most of us, it remains just empty rhetoric we don’t even care to reach for.
But all people, - regardless of religion – must strive to develop themselves that these words of Jesus become reality. Then the living and liberating society will ensue – that which we all long for – and we all grope after – more or less blindly. But all groups and every individual want to do it their own way – in the darkness of one’s own mind conceived as the only right way. Resulting in Intolerance, causing both the commandments and one self to fall.
Intolerance is one of the most important problems man has to cope with. The world bas become so small, shrinking day by day as a result of the development of communications and tele-media. People with different religions, culture and ways of life are brought ever closer to each other. The sparking is ominous. Judaism and the world religions built from it – Christendom and Islam – have all become impressed by the expansion and intolerance of Yahweh. He cannot stand anyone beside himself. His law is sovereign and ruling without restraint. The religious antagonism is increasing in intensity. Understanding of the nature of religion and the human mind therefore now more than ever has become an absolute necessity. Religious understanding and tolerance is an absolute requirement for development of a global community
For this development the teachings of Jesus may be of enormous importance. Christendom might be capable of solving the task. For Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God – the kingdom not of this world, but in us, i.e. he uncovered the real meaning of the symbols and the importance of disposition – love and consciousness - - as decisive factor in the life of man.
As God’s temple we have God, The impulse of Christ, and the Holy Ghost in us!
To really understand Christ and his teaching, we need to keep in mind the conditions at the beginning of the current era. The land was under roman yoke; discontent was widespread and growing. And the Jews had no chance of getting rid of the occupation by use of arms and physical strength. In the midst of this time of despair Jesus comes forth. He has a weapon that should prove far stronger that the roman sword; he wanted the liberation of man’s soul, with settlement of need for power and inner conflict matters. He wanted peace and goodwill in mind and heart, and then – but only then the outer peace will result as a necessary consequence. Jesus knew that violence breeds violence and that the results get ever worse as by and by people’s senses gets blunted. He knew that he who draws sword shall perish by sword. Jesus’ teaching and life stands up in all its might against such developments. It was not violence, but love! that would deliver the world and free it from pain and delusions- and save human values from ruin. But Jesus was a realist. He was fully aware that someone who presents the truth and wants it to love, will be opposed by his contemporaries.
People just do not like to be shaken out of their hibernating position of preconceived, traditional opinions and tenets of faith. Rebels and dissenters mus be made harmless, and neutralized.
That was as true then –as today.
He foresaw clearly that there would have to be fight, if this case should be victorious. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword” (i.e. battle). Matt 10-34.
This is a different, and in some aspects a far more correct image of the great spiritual temple-cleanser – than the traditional concept of the meek lord of peace.
For the truth about man will always be met with resistance and struggle – and he who wants to carry the case forward, must be prepared to fight -
against all those who have become well adapted with respect to the lie of life. The inner truth’s never win without battle.
Today, man needs Jesus’ lore more than ever. And just Christendom in its original, vigorous character and on a platform of understanding, have prerequisites like hardly any other religion for saving the world from chaos, war and intolerance – and the atomic bomb or even worse means of mass destruction that the human brain may design. It’s symbolism is universal, it’s ethical norms and understanding hereof stand their own against any other ethics. The world is waiting for the restoration of Christendom. It does not have to be so difficult as it may seem, for hardly a letter needs to be changed. All it takes is to understand the message the way it once was intended – and as it once were taught.
Time is maybe ripe for understanding that the symbols of Christendom are identical to those employed by the deep of the soul to express the wish for liberation of personality and spiritual growth.
These symbols are common human images that express the longing for inner peace and fullness of life. The main symbols therefore are centred on death, birth and renewed life. These primordial images have hitherto mainly been perceived literally, while in reality the are expressions of man’s individual inner needs, namely the removal of sin-guilt and anxiety – rectification of misdirected energy to positive modes of expression such that vitality may be released and provided with opportunities for growth as in the collective life.
Jesus did not unconditionally want to reveal truth – for it not to be prostituted – something that regularly happens when the unworthy grabs it – for use in service of their own deflections.
In this matter regular knowledge and position does not count – what counts are who can grasp life’s simple – but then even greater truths – with open and strong minds.
He was out to recruit adherents who could fully understand his intentions and who were willing to dedicate their lives for his cause. He selected such people by speaking to them in parables.
“And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables; That seeing they may see, and not perceive, and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” Mark IV – 11-12.
He wanted people that were fully willing to go all out for the holy cause of truth.
The most central tenet of Christendom is the mechanism of atonement that shall free man from the burden of guilt. This now happens by faith in the suffering and death of Jesus by proxy. Many undoubtedly are helped by this faith since these symbols are very powerful, even without conscious recognition. But there can be no deeper understanding of the causes of disharmony with such an attitude. Neither can the problems be mastered on a safe fundament of understanding. For modern man also needs his intellect. He cannot in the long run live in conflict with it – then, rather believe in technology and natural sciences instead of symbolic language that is being conceived as balderdash – because it cannot be understood.
For many, the nimbus and aura of holiness that have surrounded the Christian symbols, in the context of interpretation that we have outlined here, will fall away, wholly or in part. But in return, they will be clearly illuminated and be seen in another perspective – they may then become of vital importance for all. Christendom will gain in sincerity; it will more than before become realized in the life conduct of the individual. Religion and life will again be one! The principle of love, insight and tolerance will be guidelines – not as a result of strict commandments, but as a matter of course. Hate, aggression and anxiety evaporate when the burden of guilt is lifted and understanding of the internal mechanisms take over. Men of different races, religions and social levels may find each other, when the human and religious common denominator is acknowledged, recognized. Then there will be no room for war, oppression and economic exploitation. It is now up to the clergy in the various denominations of faith to blow life’s renewing spirit into the holy scriptures and symbols. When priests again get a message to administer that is relevant for man’s actual and central inner and outer problems, the empty churches will be filled and bonds can be tied between the peoples of the world regardless of outer expressions of symbols.
The Christian mission cannot as until now base its work on preaching of the Bible’s letter supported by medical technology and material aid. Christendom can and shall eventually gain its position only by its own strength, its spiritual contents and not least by the example the Christians display with respect to social order and justice, inner sovereignty and peaceful cooperation between countries – so that other join freely. The examples so far displayed by so-called Christian nations have been rather disappointing. And the reason is not, as have been claimed, that the church have had too little power, - it just has not mastered the task with its literal teaching – quite reasonably.
Judaism is a pronounced religion of laws that in a particular stage of development is necessary as a guideline and for protection against chaos. Freedom then is conceived as a danger, such as people with incomplete development of consciousness still experience it.
Because of the outer pressure the Jews were continuously forced into themselves – to seek liberation there. Therefore, indeed they could find the common human pattern of redemption and personal development, such as we find in the great prophets, in Jewish mystery societies and further developed with Paul, who unconditionally broke down the national and particularistic barriers – and made the contents to a word religion of universal nature.
Development was transferred from the collective to the individual in accordance with the revolution of consciousness that has taken place – and still takes place. Freedom and social behaviour becomes a personal matter and an inner necessity. The outer apparatus of law as protective element is no longer required. Time had come to replace the symbols and letters of law with the spirit that is in accordance with principles of life, development and man’s inner reality.
The impulse of Christ was sown in arid soil. The seed has survived, and its fertility is preserved. Depth psychology has participated in preparation of the soil by rediscovering the common-symbolic mode of expression by the human mind.
The seed awaits the right spiritual climate.
Many people are worried about the process of dissolution in the world of today. But yet, this dissolving process is a prerequisite for something new and better to begin to grow. Therefore, time itself offers hope about development towards something better than what has been. It is while the world is in the melting pot, while it still is plastic, that the new may be formed. But if the coming is no better than the spent, the suffering that mankind now must endure, and will continue to endure, will be in vain.
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while they slumber on their beds,
then he opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings,
that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man;
he keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
"Man is also chastened with pain upon his bed, and with continual strife in his bones;
so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite dainty food.
His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen; and his bones which were not seen stick out.
His soul draws near the Pit, and his life to those who bring death.
If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him;
and he is gracious to him, and says, `Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom;
let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor'; (Italiced here.)
then man prays to God, and he accepts him, he comes into his presence with joy. He recounts to men his salvation,
and he sings before men, and says: `I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not requited to me.
He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit, and my life shall see the light.'
"Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man,
to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may see the light of life.
Give heed, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.
If you have anything to say, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you.
If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom."