The New Messianism

Nicholas Carter

the new messianism - stoning of stephen

The blackest hole in the cosmos of Western civilization is the first century of the era beginning Anno Domini 1. The West has been so thoroughly Christianized for so long with Bibles and Testaments and wondrous myths supporting the Christ that, if anything survived the 1st century that explained what exactly occurred during the one hundred years or so that antedated the development of Catholicism, it was destroyed by the Christian faith-police a long time ago.

In this brief study, I have endeavored to make irrevocably clear that the entire New Testament, as well as other carefully Christianized works, cannot be accepted as historical documents because the events they chronicle did not occur as or when related. Ergo, virtually all of the sources recounting the activities of Stephen, Saul, and others whom we believe to have lived during that day and time, must be eliminated from any and all scholarly considerations.

For rational, intelligent people, there can be no compromise with mythological beliefs that are nonsensical at their best and obscene at their worst.

What, then, do we know about the 1st century?

We know that someone – a real human being – did die at the approximate same time as the fabled Nazarene, and for the approximate same reason. Stephen, a Jew with a Greek name, was put to death by Pharisees or Zealots for the Law, around A.D. 30, for preaching heretical ideas. Sound familiar? (Of this, more later.)

We know that orthodox Jewry was in no way involved with the establishment of whatever ethical or religious system emerged in that time frame.

On the Christian side of the fence, once the Catholics made the second century determination to appropriate the historically-defined Messiah of the Israelites and transform him into the divine head of a Gentile mystery cult, they realized that so radical a move would need the appearance of Jewish support. Hence, the insertion of material in the New Testament citing a large 1st century participation on the part of Jews in the “new Messianic Movement.” The redactors even declared that an attempt was made in Palestine to exclude Jews from the Synagogue for accepting the Jesus as Messiah before A.D. 80 – which is nonsense most fanciful.

We are reasonably certain that Jews did play consequential rôles in the New Messianism because of the existence of Philo, Stephen, and Saul of Tarsus. Significantly, however, they were Hellenized Jews who were not comfortable, to one degree or another, with the traditional theology of Judaism.

We know, too, that Catholic Christendom did not begin to evolve into a viable theological system until well into the 2nd century. It is historically evident that, around that time, a manifest change came over the New Messianism, a new innovation resulting from the appropriation of the cult by the Gentiles and signaling the advent of Catholicism with its ever-expanding layers of external, ceremonial, legal and metaphysical dogmas to come, which in turn would increasingly subject the spirit to law and the individual to the institution.

In the most basic terminology, the theological evolution over the first few centuries can be divided into two periods. The first, beginning early in the 1st century A.D. and lasting for approximately 130 years, was morals; the second, beginning with the acquisition of the New Messianic cult by the Graeco-Roman Fathers of Catholicism during the 2nd century, was orthodoxy.

Setting aside all dogma and its faith-supported counterfeits of truth, I have composed a scenario delineating what may have happened in the beginning – and my speculations and educated guesses are based upon the philosophical yearnings of the people involved and their psychological motivations.

First, the significant players.

PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA (circa 30 B.C. to A.D. 40), often called Philo Judaeus, or Philo the Jew, was the supreme example of Hellenisms influence on the cosmopolitan intellectual life of the Jews in Alexandria. He was an outstanding intellectual, and his writings demonstrate that he was well-educated in classical Greek philosophy, rhetoric and the natural sciences. He mentions in passing that he had once questioned the Jewish elders about Judean traditions. Perhaps the New Testament incident describing Jesus questioning the elders in the Temple was inspired by the writings of Philo. Significantly, the Catholic Fathers – Clement, Origen and Ambrose, in particular – adopted some of Philos philosophical and Neoplatonic concepts, as well as making use of his allegorical interpretations of Scripture.

Orthodox Judeans were unhappy with his teachings and accused him of trying to interpret away the literal (and offensive) meaning of biblical passages. They argued that he was more Greek than Jewish; that he did not even know the Jewish language; and that he produced a system in which Judaism and Hellenism lay together in confusion. For these reasons orthodox Jewry rejected him.

Would Philo, like the original Letzim, have concluded that Israel should have been Hellenized by force? Possibly. It does appear that he was haunted by the failure of Israel to create anything that could compete with the imposing civilizations around her. For that reason he sought to cultivate a compromise between Judaism and Hellenism by claiming that all the great achievements of the Greeks had been discovered first by the Israelites. This desperate attempt to give the Jews a collective sense of ego-identification has also been used by Josephus, Artapanus, and countless other Jews of the centuries. Time and again they have preached to the world at large that all the knowledge and institutions of the Egyptians had been taken from Israel; that Joseph had taught them better forms of cultivation; that Moses with his ten commandments had marked out the entire history of the Western world; and that the tiny fraction of humanity known as Jewry had provided the world with the concept of monotheism, the eradication of idol worship, and the abhorrence of human sacrifice. As we shall see, the worlds most significant moral revolution originated with the Stoics; and just as the Jews derived monotheism from the Egyptians, they derived their ethics from the Western world.

STEPHEN, SAINT, first Christian martyr, stoned to death. One of the seven deacons. That, in the proverbial nutshell, is the story of the life of Stephen. We don’t know where he was born, or why he had a Greek name. We don’t know where he was martyred. As to when, the New Testament gives the impression that it was after the crucifixion of Jesus, because he allegedly heard the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” According to the Gospel, however, Stephen was nowhere to be seen or heard during the tribulations of Jesus; nor was Saul there, nor were all of the twelve apostles. John (which John?), Joseph and Nicodemus are mentioned briefly; but no one else. Surprising? At first thought, yes. On second thought, it is entirely possible that the redactors concluded that the melodramatic scenario involving the capture, trial, death and resurrection of their savior-god would be more effective if it was staged in such a way that Jesus was always in the limelight and the forefront of the morality play, and without the presence of hysterical relatives and fiercely loyal disciples who would be expected to divert attention from the proceedings.

A convoluted biography of Stephen as related in the Acts of the Apostles is of interest. In strictly Catholic terms, he is described as being “full of grace and power,” and “full of the Holy Ghost.” Not unlike every alleged “holy man” of the day, he is credited with having attracted much attention by performing “great wonders.” The “new vein of teaching” that leads to his martyrdom, as the narrative relates, involved his condemnation of people called “Hebrew Christians” who had supposedly embraced not only the Holy Land, but also the Holy City and the Holy Place of the Temple. The Greek-named Stephen – most likely a Hellenized Jew born outside of Palestine – featured as a Christian in the New Testament, creates the sort of controversy over “Christian” worship in the Holy Land that will lead to his condemnation as a “deceiver” and a “teacher of errors.” He is then forced to appear before the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Council of the Jewish people. And who accuses Stephen and demands that he be arraigned? Jewish “Hebrews”? The alleged Christian “Hebrews”? No. Hellenic Jews of North Africa and Asia Minor. Curious? Indeed. Equally curious is the fact that the subject of the disputation with the Letzim is not explained. Evidently, the New Testament redactors needed a theological conflict of a heretical nature, regardless of the illogicity of the dissension, to provide the motivation for the martyrdom of Stephen.

Speaking in his defense before an assemblage of Pharisaic jurists, Stephen charges, among other things, that the same ungrateful and narrow spirit that he was witnessing in the Sanhedrin, wasnt new to Judaism. As he speaks, the judges keep “gnashing their set teeth against him.” Suddenly, the vault of heaven opens and the Divine Presence, with the human form of Jesus seated on his right hand, appears to Stephen. As if speaking to himself, he then describes this glorious vision; but the judges appear to be singularly unimpressed with the experience. Then Stephen commits the ultimate heresy by condemning the Israelites for {not} only persecuting their prophets, but for having killed Jesus the Christ, as well – an impeachment that sends the Sanhedrin into a frenzy. As with one impulse they hurl themselves upon Stephen and drag him out to the place of execution, where, wonder of wonders, a young man named Saul, who happened to hail from Tarsus, is waiting to hold the cloaks of the executioners – an act indicating that Saul was “consenting unto his (Stephens) death.”

As Stephen is stoned to death, he allegedly forgives his enemies with words curiously similar to those attributed to Jesus on the cross. Let me emphasize now that if Stephen did speak before he died, rather than words chosen by Christians centuries later, he would have used the language of Hellenism: “Receive my spirit, O Father of the Universe. And I beg of you, judge not the brotherhood of man by sins, but by virtues.” And thus his absolution would have applied, not to just his tormentors, but to all men the world over.

Just as the death of the Great Teacher at the hands of the wicked priest – as recounted in the Dead Sea Scrolls – suggests a parallel to the Jesus story, the curious circumstances surrounding the deaths of Stephen and the legendary Nazarene, which occurred at approximately the same time, suggest too many parallelisms to be casual occurrences.

SAUL OF TARSUS was born around A.D. 5. As a young man he supposedly took the Gentile name of Paul, but we have no proof of that. We are told that he was a Roman citizen, but we have no evidence for that. Like Stephen, much of his life is mysterious and unknown. If he stood so high in the hearts and minds of his contemporaries, why did such important documents as the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas ignore him? Justin Martyr, born around A.D. 100, ignores him, as do the Clementine Homiliae and Recognitiones. To the redactors, Saul was the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” But one Gentile, Tertullian, called him the “Apostle of heretics.” Much that has been written about Saul is contained in the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles. For those of us who do not accept these works as being original and authentic, the miraculous conversion of Saul, his First Missionary Journey followed by the “historic” visit to Jerusalem, his visits to Philippi, Athens and Corinth for the purpose of carrying the Gospel into Europe, his apprehension at Jerusalem, his imprisonment in Caesarea, and finally, his voyage to Rome, are all questionable and unacceptable.

For some reason, Christians have refused to speculate about the murder of Saul. We are merely told that he was “martyred” around A.D. 70. Significantly, the Christian authors created an abysmally pessimistic Saul who believed that the flesh and sin were identical. It was Saul who purportedly recognized the actual original sin in sexual lust. Born in Tarsus, an important Hellenized city in Asia Minor, Saul probably learned to use the Greek language with freedom and mastery; and he may very well have been familiar with some of the great literature of the Hellenistic Orient. To the redactors, however, it was essential that he appear to be uncompromisingly Jewish. While he “may have encountered Stoic teachers” in Tarsus, he was “chiefly educated in Jerusalem” under the Pharisee Gamaliel. The prime implication here is that he was brought up as a strict Pharisee. There is an ulterior motive behind this characterization. Only a miracle could or would transform a “zealous and bigoted Jew” into one of the Christ-folk during that single mind-boggling event described as Sauls “supernatural conversion.”

No doubt Saul did write some letters during his missionary wanderings; but they were Christianized at a later date – i.e., updated, expanded, and then rewritten many times until every action and word fitted properly canonized doctrine according to the progression of canonization over the centuries. Thus, we have the New Testament Saul claiming that he “saw” and “heard” the Jesus after the resurrection, and that God had revealed “His Son in me.” We also find equally absurd statements such as this one: “God, angry at their unbelief [meaning the Israelites] has turned His face from them.” The anti-Jewishness of Saul aided in giving the New Testament impression that Christianity was really new wine and just new bottles containing some of the old wine of Judaism.

Admittedly, we know virtually nothing for certain about the lives of Stephen and Saul. We can reasonably assume, however, that they were Hellenized Jews, that they were traveling missionaries or prophets (teachers) who journeyed to those Gentile cities in Western Asia where the Letzim had settled, and that the deaths of Stephen and Jesus occurred in tandem with the conversion of Saul. And that brings us to the crux of this chapter. It is my contention that the parallelisms between the deaths of Stephen and the fabled Jesus are not coincidental. Stephen is the most likely and logical archetype, or pattern, for the Jesus of the Gospel.

Stephen was born around 30 B.C., which means that he would have been an elderly man in his sixties when he died. More than any other man of his time, Stephen is the logical choice for the idealized “man in the sandals” who preached a nondenominational gospel in a language of reason that appealed to more knowledgeable and independent Jews and Gentiles: a gospel of simplicity and directness, more humanistic than ceremonial, that would have impressed the best of Greek philosophers.

If Stephen was the “admirable revealer of true virtue,” the “winsome teacher conjuring the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth by the spell of the infinite tenderness radiating from him,” why wasn’t he the obvious Catholic choice for the Christ of the new savior-god cult? Age, for one tiring. The new Messiah had to be young, vital, and more the son than the grandfather. And – he had to be 30 years old. Once again a symbolic intention is involved in the use of a number. Various texts in the Septuagint attributed a special value to the age of 30. Joseph was 30 when he became Prime Minister; David was 30 when he became King; the eligibility of the Levites at the altar was from 30 to 50 years. So Jesus had to commence his ministry at “about 30 years” of age – exactly the age required by the Law for a Man of God.

The Christian myth expects us to believe that a charismatic young man “theologizes” the whole of Palestine with his preaching in just three years. Nonsense! Not even a lifetime of proselytizing – 30 to 40 years – could have achieved that end in an age light-years away from televangelism. Illiteracy was widespread, with most of the literate citizens living in the cities. There were no printed books and pamphlets to be distributed in every community. There were no modern means of travel or communication. One had to walk or ride on a donkey. In order to carry a gospel to the people, especially to the remote and rural areas, a dedicated prophet had to spend most of his life, walking, talking, and preaching, endlessly; and the more esoteric the message, the more difficult it was to influence the masses.

By the time Saul was a young man, the formation of what may be termed the Mystic Gospel of Hellenized Judaism had probably been initialed in some parts of the Hellenistic Orient by the more educated descendants of the Letzim such as the students of Philo, who were surely carrying to Greek-bedizened communities the radical notion that Jewish aspirations could be blended with Gentile ethics. Like a select number of young people of any era, Saul may have been torn between controvertible forces in his life; he may have been unsure of which way to turn, uncertain of what to do with his being.

To all objective persons, the miraculous conversion of Saul belongs to the deceitful world of creative mythology. But SOMETHING must have happened to Saul. So let us assume that he was on that road to Damascus when a remarkable fusion of circumstances brought him to the turning point of his life. Let us assume that he witnessed the execution of Stephen – not as one sympathizing with it, but as one horrified by it.

Saul had probably heard of the unusual prophet, and he may have witnessed his preaching. But when he saw the prophet bravely die without asking for mercy, defending his faith all the while, and asking, not Jesus, of course, but God, to receive him, and finally, forgiving not only his enemies, but quite possibly in the eyes of an impressionable young man, the whole world – the “center” of his life’s motivation and purpose was changed. The tragic fact of his seeing, not the “risen Christ,” but the dying Stephen, became the main root of his entire life. An event such as that could have motivated Saul to dedicate his life to the study, and then the transmission, of the gospel of Stephen.

What indeed was it about Hellenism that appealed to Philo, Stephen, and then to Saul – as I contend it didand others? What led them along a path never before traveled by Jews? It was one thing for the Letzim of the 2nd century B.C. to aspire to a Hellenized Israel; it was something else for the new Letzim to create for both themselves and Gentiles a Hellenic/Jewish faith.

The principal tenets of the religious philosophy of the Letzim of the Common Era were gleaned mostly from Greek sources, along with the contributions of such Roman thinkers as Epictetus, Seneca and Virgil. It was a gospel reflecting a special keenness and nobility of language comparable in directness, truthfulness and simplicity to Greek literature. People today who no longer find solace in the aristocratic Church, or in the Christian “spin-off” denominations, sects, and cults, often speak longingly of what they call “the true teachings of Christ.” (They mean the idealized Jesus, of course, rather than the cosmic Christ.) Their words express a hunger for precisely the kind of creed that may have been developed by the Hellenized Judeans.

In the vanguard of the movement was Stoicism, which was both a philosophy, and a system of religion placing the realization of its ideal in this world. Among the various types of philosophic world-views that originated with the Greeks, the Stoic creed with its emphasis on the doctrine of brotherhood and equality of man, was the most cogent expression of Hellenistic culture. The leading Stoic maxim was, “Live according to nature.” For reasons that should be obvious, the theology of Stoicism has never been popular with Christians. The “Stoic god,” having no independent or personal existence, is neither a god-surrogate nor a scapegoat slated to die for the sins of weak and cowardly people.

From the Stoics, the new Letzim learned of the quixotic concept of the brotherhood of all men, an inordinately radical notion when compared with the doctrine of exclusivity practiced by the Israelites. To a Judean, loving one’s neighbor as one’s self meant loving one’s Jewish neighbor. They learned of the Greek concept of one God for all people; they learned that there was truth in the books of the Gentiles, that there were also prophets and holy men among the philosophers of the Hellenistic Orient, and that Greek morality in particular was very lofty.

From the Roman philosopher Epictetus, they learned that good is within the individual, and that universal brotherhood was an ideal to be achieved in the world. The conception of the all-pervading goodness of God is very apparent in the writings of Epictetus, more so perhaps than in any other Gentile writer of the time.

From Philo, they learned about the Platonic Logos, which so impressed the Alexandrian philosopher that he concluded that all beings, both finite and infinite, had their unity in, and proceeded from, the divine Logos. They learned that the conception of the unity and purity of the Divine One was preeminently that of Plato. The One Supreme being of the universe was the god of all people and a moral necessity. He was an infinite Father guiding in wisdom, cherishing in mercy; and finally, a God who received his children to himself. Pythagoras, too, believed in the concept of one Supreme Being, a Father of not just a select few, but of all.

Seneca taught them that “Man is a sacred thing to man.” Seneca devoutly believed that all human beings are formed from the same elements and have the same destiny. Indeed, Seneca’s work, De Beneficiis, has been described as the finest work produced by antiquity on the subject of the love of man. Seneca’s morality helped to prepare the way for the New Messianism.

While the utopianism and determinism in some of these notions is to be deplored, the fact that they originated with Greek and Roman philosophers cannot be denied. Jewish claims to the effect that their thinkers provided the human species with the highest moral conceptions known to man are as false as certain of their other claims to greatness. While the Judean rabbis were preaching that the badness of men was better than the goodness of women, the Stoics were teaching that men and women were equal in virtue – and they were the first to do so.

Their Gentile studies undoubtedly taught the new Letzim the power of seeing things straight and knowing what is beautiful or noble, regardless of the traditional and superstitious cultural forces that swirled around them. A dominant idea conceived and shaped with a definite artistic purpose invariably has a strong influence upon the formation of history. It was Hellenism then that created the form into which the New Messianism found entrance.

The term mysticism derives from a Greek word which designated those who had been initiated into the esoteric rites of the Greek religion – the union of self with a larger-than-self. The Mystic Gospel of Hellenistic Judaism, rooted as it was in the ethical concepts outlined above, may very well have been as simple, direct and appealing as the following:

The ONE God of the universe is everybody’s God… therefore everybody is eligible for Salvation. Repent of your transgressions against your fellow man. Affirm that you will love your fellow man, as you love yourself, regardless of his race or religion… that you will live with men as if God saw you, and speak with God as if men heard you. Love God with all your heart and soul… AND YOU WILL BE SAVED.

Nothing more. No sacraments… no ceremonies… no sin-offerings… no sin as it relates to “transgressions against God,” and no guilt or shame.

It is my contention that something of that nature occurred during the 1st century, and that the Letzim then became involved in the teaching of a faith of love without fear, and a God appropriate to that love. The illusion that love need to have no opposite, however, would have appeared to the masses of the common people who were steeped in the fear of gods and demons, as both impossible and unacceptable. Consequently, only the more educated Gentiles and Jews would have been attracted to the New Messianism – but never enough of them to incite the interests of the notable miters of the time.

I contend, too, that Stephen was the first major prophet dedicated to that faith of love, and that it led to his death. And Saul, once he was prepared, donned the mantle of Stephen and began to preach the same gospel. He continued to do so for the remainder of his life.

The New Testament indicates that Saul laid a great deal of stress on evangelizing Gentile colonies. From the standpoint of the Catholics, this makes sense. They wanted to give the impression that their new creed had universal appeal from the beginning. But it is logical, too, in view of what Saul might have been preaching. There was no Christ, no resurrection, and no miraculous conversion; ergo, he wasn’t peddling the “good news” about a Jewish savior-god born of a virgin. And if he was a Pharisee – a bigoted and zealous Jew – he would never have preached to Gentiles. The fact that the chief converts of the New Messianism during the 1st century belonged to an upper- or middle-class bourgeois stratum of Hellenic society lends credence to the proposition that Saul’s message was esoteric and undoubtedly Greek-inspired.

And that brings us back to square one: the Mystic Gospel of Hellenized Judaism. We cannot measure the complexity of the involvement of the protagonists – the degree, that is, to which the Hellenic Jews may have tried to fuse Greek and Jewish speculations. For the purpose of this study it is enough to conclude that Gentile ethics were the driving force behind the activities of the Letzim.

As suggested above, none of the leading intellectuals of the 1st century noticed the movement because it wasn’t successful from the standpoint of popular acceptance. Not until the final decades of the century, most likely, did the efforts of the increasing numbers of disciples, students and proselytes in the movement begin to pay off with a growing acceptance of the cult on the part of Gentiles. And during those same years, it is quite possible that some of the more imaginative members of the faith had come to the realization that Stephen really was a messianic figure. The Jewish word Mashiach, which answers to the word Christ in the New Testament, means anointed, and is applicable in its first sense to those anointed with holy oil, such as kings of Israel. The word also refers to the anticipated Messiah, consecrated of God, whose coming was predicted by the prophets.

What of the descriptive term, Jesus? In the original Jewish language, Jesus is Isehouah, or Ieshou, a word that means “salvation.” According to another interpretation, Jehua-Joshua-Jesus are all the same meaning Yahweh the Savior. Logically, then, the word Jesus can be used to describe both Salvation and Savior.

According to these definitions, therefore, an individual could become a Christ or Anointed One, and a Jesus or Savior, with the names being used solely in a descriptive sense. After the death of the mortal Buddha, his legendary development as a Savior followed the same general pattern. Because Christians are inclined to see the Christian past as if it was a gloriously produced technicolor motion picture smoothly unfolding within a compressed time frame, they are indifferent to the fact that the passage of 100 years can produce some awesome results. The whole world can be turned upside down in one century. Virtually anything human (not superhuman) would have been therefore possible during the 1st century of the Common Era – including this possibility: the transformation of the martyred Stephen into both A “Jesus” and A “Christ” in the minds of his worshipers by at least the turn of the 2nd century.

Thirty to forty years later, when Justin had come of age (A.D. 135 or so), the “Jesus” of the New Messianists, having evolved into A “Christ” who had died for the brotherhood of man – a great “wonder-worker” as well who had exorcised demons, made blind men see, and revived the dead – appeared to the Gentile world as a credible archetype for a savior-god; and before long, an assemblage of Graeco-Roman scholastic theologians, having deduced that the intriguing new Messiah had a Jewish background, and that there were passages in the Septuagint that could be interpreted as having predicted his coming, joining the movement. And then – the game was afoot. Before the century was out, the mind-blowing task of assimilating a Jew to the Gentile mystery-cults of Asia was under way.

One question remains: Why were Stephen and Saul murdered? Not because they were attracting the multitudes and stirring up the countryside against the powers-that-be. To repeat, their movement was not patterned to influence the masses who expected miracles and wondrous signs from heaven. They were hated for no other reason than that the nature of their philosophy was blatantly heretical. The New Testament claims that orthodox Jews encountered by Saul were “jealous” of the success he was having in converting Gentiles. Once again, fanciful nonsense! Anger, even fury, is what the orthodox would have felt as they observed a Jew preaching to the heathen sons of the no-gods that the ONE Creator God, Yahweh, who had decreed that they were his only Chosen people, was everybody’s God; that people should love everybody indiscriminately, regardless of race or religion; and that salvation was available for anybody – rich, poor, intelligent, ignorant, Jew, Gentile, healthy, sick, and so on.

An ancient curse of the Sons of Israel reads as follows: “If I betray thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” And a lexicon to the Talmud says, “A Pharisee is one who separates himself from all uncleanness.” Of all Jews, none would have been more unclean or traitorous than the Stephens and Sauls who denied particularistic Judaism in favor of universalistic heathenism. They would have been savagely hated by both the Pharisees and the Zealots for the Law who would have attempted to oppose, embarrass, or even to exterminate them in order to “separate” their uncleanness from the world.

Anyone who questions my reasoning should seriously consider the Salman Rushdie affair of our day and time – i.e., the death sentence passed on Rushdie by orthodox Muslims who believe that his book, The Satanic Verses, blasphemed Muhammed, the founder of their religion. And Muhammed is merely a prophet, not the ONE God of the universe.

The bottom line contention here is that zealous Jews murdered Saul just as they murdered Stephen. There is absolutely no reason to believe that members of any other race or religion regarded Saul with so much malevolence.

Catholic Christendom had hundreds of years to create a savior-god in the exact image in which they perceived him – to have him say and do exactly what they thought he should say and do. The establishment of traditions geared to indoctrinating the child and controlling the man quickly followed. For the millions of Christians whose eyes have been torn out of their reason, all the cards are carefully stacked in favor of the Christ-Myth. They know exactly what happened over 1900 years ago and for several hundred years to follow.

Those of us who deny the Christ-Myth cannot make the same claim. We have {no} supernatural sources of “revealed” knowledge. My speculations and educated guesses, for instance, must all be grounded in the NATURAL world, rather than in the SUPERnatural world. It took a very long time to ferret out speculative answers to the questions posed by that mysterious 1st century of the Common Era. Nonetheless, I am convinced that this inquiry realistically describes what might have occurred in the real world of the Hellenist Orient.

My scenario explains how a charismatic prophet – a true human being – may have lived and died and even evolved in a legendary sense into a “Jesus” and a “Christ” in the minds of people yearning for a semi-divine hero. It provides the requisite time period (at least 80 to 100 years) necessary to accommodate a meaningful dispersion of a new faith within Western Asia. It explains why Saul was ignored by a significant number of Christian scholars and theologians who apparently believed that, due to his Hellenic background, his legendary being could contribute nothing of value to Catholicism. It clearly provides a viable cult suitable for adoption by Gentiles intent on transplanting a new and seemingly vigorous movement – one that might possibly generate universal appeal – into the Graeco-Roman world. More engaging, perhaps, is the fact that it explains why no reliable historical commentary of Jesus called the Christ ever heard of either the Jesus or the Christ.

Assuming for the sake of argument that this scenario has validity, we can logically conclude first, that Stephen, who dedicated his life to a noble cause, was banished to make room for the fabricated Jesus – not the first time in history, to be sure, that an imposter has gotten the credit for the efforts of a truly gifted innovator; and second, that the moment the New Messianists were dismissed as schismatical by the Catholics, the death knell sounded for Hellenic Judaism. With the subsequent establishment and success of Christianity as a major force in the world, Judaism was provided with a humongous and insidious enemy that would forevermore feed the paranoia of the orthodox, and keep the “nation” of Israel in line.

Admittedly, the arrogant Christian condemnation of Jews for, among other things, having executed the Christ, nurtured the hostility that festered between the two systems from the beginning. Of the people murdered by Jews during the 1st century, we can be absolutely certain that the fabricated Jesus and the cosmic Christ were not among them.

Whether my speculations and educated guesses are more right than wrong cannot be proven. To paraphrase James George Frazer (the author of The Golden Bough), perhaps brighter stars of insight will rise on some voyager of the future whose realms of thought will be able to disperse the dark clouds that lie athwart the origins of Christendom.

In the meantime, my more modest hope is that this little study will lead you, the reader, to some speculations and educated guesses of your own.

HISTORICAL COMMENTARY

CARPENTER, J.E.: “By the time of Jesus, the Jews had long ceased to use the ancient divine name ‘Yahweh’ because it was too holy to be pronounced.”

GOLDBERG, B.Z.: “It was enough to draw a vertical line to suggest the lingam and a horizontal one to signify the yoni, while union of the two was represented by the cross.”

GUIGNEBERT, CHARLES: “We have dealt at length on the growth of legend round the story of Jesus, because the details are so familiar… But none of the details will bear close examination, and all in the end will fall outside the realm of history.”

Ibid.: “Christian propaganda created, developed, and elaborated a Christ myth theory at the expense of Jesus.”

HARNACK, ADOLF: “Jesus brought forward no new doctrine… It is not difficult to set against every portion of the utterances of Jesus an observation which deprives them of originality.”

HALL, G. STANLEY: “The folk-soul is always and everywhere disposed to ascribe supernatural parenthood to great men… Back of and reinforcing all such cases of the mating of divine and human beings lies a deep and rank phallic stratum, bottoming on cosmogonies wherein Mother Earth or the primal abyss is impregnated by rain, lightning, wind, or heaven itself personified.”

JACKSON, F. & LAKE, K.: “Historical criticism shows that the points in the story of Jesus which played the greatest part in commending Christianity to a generation asking for private salvation are those which are not historic… the Jesus of history is quite different from the Lord assumed as the founder of Catholic Christendom.”

KLAUSNER, J.: “It is quite impossible to admit that Jesus would have said to his disciples that they should eat of his body and drink of his blood… The drinking of blood, even if it was meant symbolically, could only have arouse horror in the minds of Galilean Jews.”

KOHLER, KAUFMAN: “The history of Jesus is so wrapped up in myths, and his life as told in the Gospels is so replete with contradictions, that it is difficult for the unbiased reader to arrive at the true historical facts.”

LAKE, KIRSOPP: “The thoughts and words of Jesus were borrowed from his own time and race… No historical reconstruction can make them adequate for our generation, or even intelligible except to those who have passed through an education in history impossible to most.”

LOISY, ALFRED: “… so all the mystic pride of the Jews in the consciousness they had of being God’s Chosen people… passed over entire to the Christians.”

Ibid:. “Jesus the Nazarene is at once an historical person and a mythical being who, supporting the myth and supported by it, was finally made by it into the Christ.”

Ibid.: “As baptism was not instituted by Jesus, no more… was the Holy Supper… this idea of communion with God by drinking the blood of a sacrificed victim was never born in the brain of a Jew.”

MAXIMUS of MADAURA (in a letter to Augustine): “Who is that God of yours, of whom you Christians claim, as it were, the exclusive possession and the first discovery?”

MONTEFIORE, C.G.: “Either this man (Paul) was never a Rabbinic Jew at all, or he has quite forgotten what Rabbinic Judaism was and is.”

PEIKOFF, LEONARD: “‘God’ as traditionally defined is a systematic contradiction of every valid metaphysical principle. The point is wider than just the Judeo-Christian concept of God. No argument will get you from this world to a supernatural world. No reason will lead you to a world contradicting this one. No method of inference will enable you to leap from existence to a ‘super-existence.’”

REINACH, S.: “To speak of the authenticity of the Sermon on the Mount… is hardly consistent with serious criticism.”

RHYS, JOCELYN: “The discovery of the empty tomb is the less credible in that Jesus, once put to death, would have been thrown by the Roman soldiers into the common grave of malefactors…”

ROBERTSON, J.M.: “The Christian world seems to present a relative paralysis of thinking, due largely to the very acceptance of the Gospels as a super-human product.”

ROYCE, JOSIAH: “I have the right to decline, and I actually decline to express an opinion as to any details about the person and life of the alleged founder of Christianity. For such an opinion the historical evidences are lacking.”

SCHMIDT, K.L.: “There is no life of Jesus in the sense of an unfolding life story, no chronological outline of the story of Jesus, but only single stories, pericopes, which are placed in an artificial editorial framework.”

SCHMIDT, N.: “We have no really authentic information as to what took place at the trial of Jesus… If Jesus had been the son of God the demons which he cast out would have known him for that.”

SCHWEITZER, ALBERT: “The whole account of the last days in Jerusalem would be unintelligible, if we have to suppose that the mass of the people had a shadow of a suspicion that Jesus held himself to be the Messiah.”

TACITUS: “By the eagerness of the human mind things which are obscure are more easily believed.”

TOYNBEE, ARNOLD: “The whole history of Israel is a history of the struggle to make Jews into a people of an exclusive religion… a struggle between the kings on the one hand and the prophets on the other… between the majority who wanted to mate and mix in human fellowship, and the prophets and their followers who strove for the dogma of a chosen and exclusive people.”

SOURCE: The Liberty Bell, December 1990

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