Mark transvaluing Homer

Note of the Editor:

Those familiar with the critical literature of the New Testament know that there is only one original gospel, that of Mark. Luke and Matthew copied and pasted a bunch of verses from Mark’s gospel to add even more literary fiction from the pen of these two Synoptics (John the Evangelist would later do the same).

Richard Carrier needs no introduction on this site. The new visitor who is unfamiliar with his work can consult the links about Carrier on the sidebar. Precisely because Carrier is a typical left-wing scholar, the exact opposite of post-Nietzscheans like us, I am struck by how he talks about how the evangelist Mark transvalued—the word he uses—the axiology of the Greco-Roman world.

In his most recent debate, uploaded this morning, with Dennis R. MacDonald, the author of the book he reviews below, Carrier used again the word transvaluation a couple of times right at the beginning of the YouTube debate (just don’t pay attention to the degenerate music that their host chose).

The following is Carrier’s ‘Review of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark’, a book-review of the MacDonald book, Yale University, 2000 (bold-type added by me):

 

______ 卐 ______

 

This is an incredible book that must be read by everyone with an interest in Christianity. MacDonald’s shocking thesis is that the Gospel of Mark is a deliberate and conscious anti-epic, an inversion of the Greek ‘Bible’ of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, which in a sense ‘updates’ and Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero, Jesus (whose name, of course, means ‘Savior’). When I first heard of this I assumed it would be yet another intriguing but only barely defensible search for parallels, stretching the evidence a little too far-tantalizing, but inconclusive. What I found was exactly the opposite. MacDonald’s case is thorough, and though many of his points are not as conclusive as he makes them out to be, when taken as a cumulative whole the evidence is so abundant and clear it cannot be denied. And being a skeptic to the thick, I would never say this lightly. Several scholars who reviewed or commented on it have said this book will revolutionize the field of Gospel studies and profoundly affect our understanding of the origins of Christianity, and though I had taken this for hype, after reading the book I now echo that very sentiment myself.

 
Background and purpose of Mark

MacDonald begins by describing what scholars of antiquity take for granted: anyone who learned to write Greek in the ancient world learned from Homer. Homer was the textbook. Students were taught to imitate Homer, even when writing on other subjects, or to rewrite passages of Homer in prose, using different vocabulary. Thus, we can know for certain that the author of Mark’s Gospel was thoroughly familiar with the works of Homer and well-trained in recasting Homeric verse into new prose tales. The status of Homer in basic education remained throughout antiquity, despite the fact that popular and intellectual sentiment had been sternly against the ethics and theology of his epics since the age of Classical Greece. Authors from Plato (400 b.c.e) to Plutarch (c. 100 c.e.) sought to resolve this problem by ‘reinterpreting’ Homer as allegory, or by expunging or avoiding offensive passages, neither of which was a perfect solution.

For the Latin language, the opportunity was afforded for Virgil to solve this problem by recasting the Homeric epic into Roman form, exhibiting Roman ideals and creating more virtuous heroes and gods. Likewise, borrowing and recasting from Homer is evident in numerous works of fiction, which often had a religious flavour, and were proliferating in the very same period as the Gospels. One prominent example (mentioned but not emphasised by MacDonald) is the Satyricon of Petronius, which can be decisively dated prior to 66 A.D. and thus is most likely earlier than any known Gospel, and since this novel was in Latin (and a satire), it is almost certain that many undatable Greek novels, which surely originated the form, long precede this. So rewriting Homer to depict new religious ideas and values was a standard phenomenon. In MacDonald’s words, ‘Homer was in the air that Mark’s readers breathed’ (p. 8), and all the more so among Mark’s Gentile audience. But to smartly recast Homer into a new Greek form, reflecting contemporary Graeco-Jewish ideals, was a task simply waiting to be done. If MacDonald is right, this is what Mark set out to do. So much is clear: the motive, ability, and inspiration were certainly present, and MacDonald rapidly presents all the evidence, backing it up with copious and scholarly endnotes in chapter 1.

Why? In MacDonald’s words, Mark ‘thoroughly, cleverly, and strategically emulated’ stories in Homer and the Old Testament, merging two great cultural classics, in order ‘to depict Jesus as more compassionate, powerful, noble, and inured to suffering than Odysseus’ (p. 6), and hence ‘the earliest evangelist was not writing a historical biography, as many interpreters suppose, but a novel, a prose anti-epic of sorts’ (p. 7). In particular, the differences between Mark and Homer need no explanation: the differences are the point, the very objective of the later author. Some of those differences are also the obvious result of a change of scene from the ancient Mediterranean to near-contemporary, Roman-occupied Judaea, or of literary borrowing from Jewish texts. Some may reflect some sort of traditional or historical core story, though it is almost impossible to tell when. Instead, it is the similarities that ‘cry out for explanation’, and contemporary apologists must now begin to address this issue.

Of particular use, for all those who want to develop (or attack) theories of literary borrowing—in the Gospels or elsewhere—is the set of six criteria for identifying textual influence outlined by MacDonald at the end of his first chapter, and demonstrated quite effectively on a passage in Acts. Though no one of these criteria alone carries very much weight, the more criteria that are met in a single instance, the stronger the case. However, one caveat MacDonald does not provide is in regard to his criterion of order. In many cases, matching sequences of passages or themes is indeed significant. However, some cases of matching sequence are such that any other sequence would be logically impossible. Therefore, correlation of this kind can in some cases be coincidence. Nevertheless, even engaging this caution, the sequential evidence MacDonald presents is very often, taken as a whole, not coincidental. Likewise, it should be known that much of Mark’s use of Homer is to shape and detail an otherwise non-Homeric story, and the task of deciding what that core story is, or whether this core story in any given case is a Biblical emulation, or a historical fact, or a legend, or something of the author’s deliberate creation, or any combination thereof, is not something MacDonald even intends to undertake in this book, although he makes some suggestions in his concluding paragraphs.

 
Modeling Odysseus

The Odyssey is rife with the theme of the suffering hero, and MacDonald builds a solid case in chapter 2 for the philosophical veneration of Odysseus as the best example of a man. If Jesus could be made to one-up and even replace Odysseus, Mark would achieve a literary and moral coup. And there are in the overall story obvious if not overly-telling similarities: ‘Both [men] faced supernatural opposition… Each travelled with companions unable to endure the hardships of the journey, and each returned to a home infested with rivals who would attempt to kill him as soon as they recognised him’, and ‘both heroes returned from Hades alive’ (p. 17). Some parallels are a little more startling but less significant to the historian than to the literary critic: the parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mk. 12:1-12), and the passage capturing the famous phrase ‘for you do not know when the master of the house will come’ (Mk. 13:34-5), both evoke the image of Odysseus returning in disguise to surprise the suitors who have turned his house into a den of sin (MacDonald develops this theme further in chapter 5, and again in chapter 14, and in the conclusion). Do not be like them, Mark is saying to his readers. But of course Jesus himself could have said that, intending the very same allusion. Examples like these can make good material for sermons, and serve well the connoisseurs of visionary prose, yet don’t really prove whether Mark has himself deliberately crafted the story. But in conjunction with what follows, this becomes part of a cumulative case for Mark’s inversion of Homer.

Who knew, for instance, that Odysseus was also a carpenter? The companions are another general link with the Odyssey. MacDonald points out how Mark is the harshest evangelist in his treatment of the disciples, while the others sometimes go out of their way to omit or alter this disparagement when they borrow from Mark. Why were the disciples such embarrassing nitwits, ‘greedy, cowardly, potentially treacherous, and above all foolish’ (p. 20)? As history, it is hardly credible. As a play on Homer, it makes perfect sense: for the companions of Odysseus were exactly like this. Homer cleverly employed the ineptitudes of the crew to highlight the virtues of Odysseus, making him appear even more the hero, enhancing his ‘wisdom, courage, and self-control’ (p. 23). MacDonald briefly explores five other general similarities between the two ‘entourages’ in chapter 3, including the fact that in the one story we have sailors, while in the other, fishermen-who do a lot of going about in boats, even though the vast majority of Judaea is dry land.

Chief among these similarities is the comparison between Peter and Eurylochus. Both spoke on behalf of all the followers, both challenged the ‘doomsday predictions’ of their master to their own peril, both were accused by their leader of being under the influence of an evil demon, and both ‘broke their vows to the hero in the face of suffering’—in effect, both ‘represent[ed] the craven attitude toward life’ (p. 22-3). Again, this could be a mere veneer woven through an otherwise true story by Mark, and some of MacDonald’s ideas (such as developed in chapter 4) are intriguing but too weak to do much with. But it is true that both epics announce from the start a focus on a single individual, both center on a king and his son reestablishing authority over a kingdom, both involve an inordinate amount of events and travel at sea. Both works begin by summoning their own Muse: Homer, the Muse herself; Mark, the Prophet Isaiah. In both stories, the son’s patrimony is confirmed by a god in the form of a bird, and this confirmation prepares the hero to face an enemy in the very next scene: Telemachus, the suitors; Jesus, Satan. And eventually the odd links keep accumulating, and compel one to question the whole thing.
 

Stark examples

‘Once the evangelist linked the sufferings of Jesus to those of Odysseus, he found in the epic a reservoir of landscapes, characterisations, type-scenes, and plot devices useful for crafting his narrative’ (p. 19). Of course, all throughout MacDonald points out coinciding parallels with the Old Testament and other Jewish literature, but even these parallels have been moulded according to a Homeric model in every case he examines. Consider two of the many mysteries MacDonald’s theory explains, and these are even among the weakest parallels that he identifies in the book:

Why do the chief priests need Judas to identify Jesus in order to arrest him? This makes absolutely no sense, since many of their number had debated him in person, and his face, after a triumphal entry and a violent tirade in the temple square, could hardly have been more public. But MacDonald’s theory that Judas is a type of Melanthius solves this puzzle: Melanthius is the servant who betrays Odysseus and even fetches arms for the suitors to fight Odysseus—just as Judas brings armed guards to arrest Jesus—and since none of the suitors knew Odysseus, it required Melanthius to finally identify him. MacDonald also develops several points of comparison between the suitors and the Jewish authorities. Thus, this theme of ‘recognition’ stayed in the story even at the cost of self-contradiction. Of note is the fact that Homer names Melanthius with a literary point in mind: for his name means ‘The Black One’, whereas Mark seems to be maligning the Jews by associating Melanthius with Judas, whose name is simply ‘Judah’, i.e. the kingdom of the Jews, after which the Jews as a people, and the region of Judaea, were named.

Why does Pilate agree to free a prisoner as if it were a tradition to do so? Such a practice could hardly have been approved by Rome, since any popular rebel leader who happened to be in custody during the festival would always escape justice. And given Pilate’s reputation for callous ruthlessness and disregard for Jewish interests, it is most implausible to have him participating in such a self-defeating tradition—a tradition for which there is no other evidence of any kind, not even a precedent or similar practice elsewhere. But if Barabbas is understood as the type of Irus, Odysseus’ panhandling competitor in the hall of the suitors, the story makes sense as a clever fiction. Both Irus and Barabbas were scoundrels, both were competing with the story’s hero for the attention of the enemy (the suitors in one case, the Jews in the other), and both are symbolic of the enemy’s culpability.

Of course, Barabbas means ‘son of the father’ and thus is an obvious pun on Christ himself. He also represents the violent revolutionary, as opposed to the very different kind of saviour in Jesus (the real ‘Saviour’). On the other hand, Irus was a nickname derived from a goddess (Iris), and MacDonald fails to point out that her name means ‘rainbow’, which to Mark would have meant the sign from God that there would never again be a flood (Ge. 9:12-13). Moreover, Irus’ real name was Arnaeus, ‘the Lamb’. What more perfect model for Mark? The Jews thus choose the wrong ‘son of the father’ who represents the Old Covenant (symbolised by the rainbow, and represented by the ideal of the military messiah freeing Israel), as well as the scapegoat (the lamb) sent off, bearing the people’s sins into the wilderness, while its twin is sacrificed (Lev. 16:8-10, 23:27-32, Heb. 8-9). MacDonald’s own analysis is actually confirmed by this additional parallel that he missed, and that is impressive.

MacDonald goes on to develop many similar points that not only scream of Homer being on Mark’s mind, but also explain strange features of Mark. The list is surprisingly long:

Why did Jesus, who nevertheless taught openly and performed miracles everywhere, try to keep everything a secret? Why did Jesus stay asleep in a boat during a deadly storm? Why did Jesus drown two thousand pigs? Why does Mark invent a false story about John the Baptist’s execution, one that implicates women? Why are the disciples surprised that Jesus can multiply food even when they had already seen him do it before? Why does Jesus curse a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season? How does Mark know what Jesus said when he was alone at Gethsemane? What is the meaning of the mysterious naked boy at Jesus’ arrest? Why does Jesus, knowing full well God’s plan, still ask why God forsook him on the cross? Why does Mark never once mention Mary Magdalene, or the other two women at the crucifixion, or even Joseph of Arimathea, until after Jesus has died? Why is the temple veil specifically torn ‘top to bottom’ at Jesus’ death? Why is Joseph of Arimathea able to procure the body of a convict so soon from Pilate? Why do we never hear of Joseph of Arimathea again? Why does Jesus die so quickly? Why do the women go to anoint Jesus after he is buried? Why do they go at dawn, rather than the previous night when the Sabbath had already ended?

All these mysteries are explained by the same, single thesis. This is a sign of a good theory. With one theoretical concept, not only countless parallels are identified, but numerous oddities are explained. That is very unlikely to be due to chance. And there is evidence of so many plausible connections, that even though any one of them could perhaps with effort be argued away, the fact that there are so many more makes it increasingly unlikely that MacDonald is seeing an illusion. Finally, his entire theory is plausible within the context of what we can deduce to have been Mark’s cultural and educational background.

 
Crescendo of doom

MacDonald’s book is built like a crescendo: as one reads on, the cases not only accumulate, they actually get better and better, clearer and clearer. In the story of the Gerasene swine (Mk. 5:1ff) MacDonald finds that 18 verses have thematic parallels in the Odyssey, 13 of those in exactly the same order! And even with some of those out of order the order is not random but is inverted, and thus a connection remains evident. In the story of Salome and the execution of John, MacDonald finds seven thematic parallels with the Murder of Agamemnon, all of them in the same order, and on top of that he details two other general parallels. And the two food miracles, forming a doublet in Mark, contain details that match a similar doublet of feasts in the Odyssey, and contain them in the same respective order: ‘Details in the [first] story of Nestor’s feast not found in the [second] story of Menelaus appear in the [first] feeding of the five thousand and not in its twin’ while ‘details in the [second] story of Menelaus not found in the [first] story of Nestor appear in the [second] feeding of the four thousand and not in the first story’ so that ‘the chances of these correspondences deriving from accident are slim’ (p. 85).

(Editor’s interpolated note: A mosaic depicting Odysseus, from the villa of La Olmeda, Pedrosa de la Vega, Spain, late 4th-5th centuries c.e. Both he and Homer are always depicted as whites.)

These examples of a connection between Mark and Homer are far denser than the two examples I detailed earlier, and cannot be explained away even by the most agile of thinkers. Consider the last case, which even has the fewest parallels relative to the other two: in the first feasts, the main characters go by sea, but in the second, by land; in the first, only men attend (even though there is no explanation in Mark of why this should be), but in the second there is no distinction; in the first, the masses assemble into smaller groups, and lie on soft spots, but not in the second; more attend the first than the second (and the numbers are about the same: 5000 in Mark, 4500 in Homer).

On the other hand, in the second feasts, unlike the first, someone asks the host a discouraging question and yet the host shows compassion anyway—in Mark, this is particularly strange, since after the first miracle the disciples have no excuse to be surprised that Jesus can multiply food, so the doubting question can only be explained by the Homeric parallel; finally, in the second feasts, as opposed to the first, there are two sequential courses—bread, then meat. In both authors, the feasts serve an overt educational role: in the one case to educate the hero’s son about hospitality, in the other to educate the disciples about Jesus’ power and compassion, drawing attention to the difference in each story’s moral values. There are even linguistic parallels—Homer’s feasts were called ‘symposia’ (drinking parties) even though that word usually referred to smaller gatherings; likewise, Mark writes that the first feast was organised by ‘symposia’, despite the fact that only food is mentioned, not water or wine. Several of these details in Mark, as noted, are simply odd by themselves, yet make perfect sense when we see the Homeric model, and therein again lies the power of MacDonald’s thesis.

MacDonald does similar work illuminating the Transfiguration, the healing of Bartimaeus, the Hydropatesis (water-walk), the Marcan Apocalypse, the Triumphal Entry, the Anointing, the Passover Feast (including a definite connection with cannibalism that offers a possible ideological origin for the Eucharist as a transvaluation of Homer), the Prayer and Arrest at Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, the Burial, and some details of the Empty Tomb narrative. His theory provides an excellent reason to suppose that the naked boy at Jesus’ arrest is the same as the boy the women find in the empty tomb—and he is a marker of resurrection: a type of the ill-fated Elpenor. Likewise, his theory puts a serious damper on the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea and the burial account in Mark: Joseph is a type of Priam, who rescued the body of Hector for burial in a similar way.

What I found additionally worthwhile is how MacDonald’s theory illuminates the theme of ‘reversal of expectation’ which so thoroughly characterises the Gospels—not only in the parables of Jesus, where the theme is obvious, but in the very story itself. Though MacDonald himself does not pursue this in any detail, his book helped me to see it even more clearly. James and John, who ask to sit at the right and left of Jesus in his glory, are replaced by the two thieves at Jesus’ crucifixion: Simon Peter, Jesus’ right-hand man who was told he had to ‘deny himself and take up his cross and follow’ (8:34), is replaced by Simon of Cyrene when it comes time to truly bear the cross; Jesus is anointed for burial before he dies; and when the women go to anoint him after his death, their expectations are reversed in finding his body missing.

Later Gospels added even more of these reversals: for instance in Matthew Jesus’ father, Joseph, is replaced by Joseph of Arimathea when the duty of burial arose—a duty that should have been fulfilled by the father; likewise, contrary to expectation, the Mary who laments his death and visits his tomb is not Mary his mother, but a prostitute; and while the Jews attack Jesus for healing and doing good on the Sabbath, they in turn hold an illegal meeting, set an illegal guard, and plot evil on the Sabbath, and then break the ninth commandment the next day. This theme occurs far too often to have been in every case historical, and its didactic meaning is made clear in the very parables of reversal told by Jesus himself, as well as, for instance, his teachings about family, or hypocrisy, and so on. These stories were crafted to show that what Jesus preached applied to the real world, real events, ‘the word made flesh’.
 

Death and resurrection

MacDonald’s book concludes with an analysis of how Jesus as a character in Mark is also an inversion of Hector and Achilles in the Iliad. Both Jesus and Achilles knew they were fated to die and spoke of this fate often, but whereas Achilles chose his fate in exchange for ‘eternal fame’, and for himself alone, Jesus chose it in exchange for ‘eternal life’, for all humankind. This is one among many examples of how Mark has updated the values in Homer, highlighting this fact by crafting his narrative in deliberate imitation of Homer’s epics. In a similar fashion, while the death of Hector doomed Troy to destruction, Jesus’ death doomed the Temple to destruction. According to MacDonald, these themes and others guide Mark’s construction of the passion narrative, and though borrowing from the Old Testament and other Jewish texts in the passion account is far more prevalent than anywhere else in his Gospel, there is still a play on the Iliad evident in various details.

For example, MacDonald finds more than 11 parallels between Mark’s account of the crucifixion and the death of Hector, all but one of those in the same order (and that one exception is in inverted order), and 11 more parallels between Mark’s account of the burial of Jesus and Homer’s account of the burial of Hector, all in the same order. It is notable that resurrection, anastasia, was a theme in the Iliad: the concept appears three times, twice in declarations of its impossibility, once in a metaphor for Hector’s survival of certain death. It thus contained a fitting challenge that Mark was happy to answer with a simple prose epic that everywhere flaunted the fact that anastasia was indeed possible, and real. While Hector, Elpenor, and Patroclus were all burned and buried at dawn, the tomb of Jesus was empty at dawn; while the Iliad and Odyssey were epics about mortality, the Gospel was an epic about immortality.

 
The ending of Mark

I have one point of criticism for chapter 21, where MacDonald diverges from his central thesis to explain why Mark ends his Gospel as he does. MacDonald proposes an explanation from the historical context of the author. It is quite likely that many Christians were killed, and the original Jerusalem church destroyed, in the Jewish War of 66-70 A.D. MacDonald in several places relates how Mark most likely wrote his Gospel after the conclusion of the war (there are, to be sure, ample references that assume this, as well as that the world would end soon thereafter—cf. especially MacDonald’s third appendix). So Mark, MacDonald argues, was faced with explaining why Jesus had not forewarned his disciples to evacuate Judaea. Mark’s explanation, so the theory goes, is that Jesus did warn them, but they never heard the warning—in particular, they were supposed to go to Galilee after the resurrection to see Jesus, but the women failed to report this to the disciples and so they never went (and this tactic also allows the disciples to get off the hook: those at fault were mere fickle women).

The problem with this theory should be obvious: it is not the fact that it fails to explain how Mark could know the story if no one told it—for this did not stop him from relating what Jesus said in private when no witnesses were at hand, nor did it stop Matthew from relating secret conversations of the Jews; rather, the problem is that it fails to explain how Christianity started. Even assuming Mark is inventing this account apologetically, how did Mark imagine that the resurrection ever began to be preached if no one was ever told about the empty tomb and no one saw the risen Jesus, even in visions or dreams? Since the earliest accounts, in Paul, clearly suggest post mortem sightings of Jesus, and even tie these to the origin of the Gospel itself (and I have in mind the revelation to Paul mentioned in Galatians, and the visions to Peter and the others mentioned in 1 Corinthians), it does not seem plausible for Mark to expect his readers to reject this tradition, as would be required for his alleged hidden point even to be noticed, much less understood. I thus cannot buy MacDonald’s theory on this point.

(Editor’s interpolated note: An icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist, 1657. Note that he’s depicted as swarthy.)

My own hypothesis is that Mark ended the Gospel thus in order to set up a pretext for why little of his particular story had been heard in the Christian community until he wrote it down. If we suppose that the resurrection as preached by Paul was of a spiritual nature, and therefore had nothing to do with empty tombs, then to suddenly disseminate such a story would raise eyebrows unless the author were ready with an explanation. And by building an explanation into his story he essentially covers himself. It is possible that Mark originally concluded his tale with an assertion that the women later reported the story to him, an ending that would be struck out and replaced to suit the new physicalist Christology that would follow, as well as in support of the new reliance on apostolic authority which seems never to have been a concern for Mark.

But it is also possible that this would not have mattered. The faithful would not necessarily be too bothered about Mark’s sources, since Revelation itself could always provide (in his letter to the Galatians, Paul himself claimed he learned the Gospel through direct revelation from God). Even if they were to ask, Mark or the sellers of his story could easily have provided persuasive oral explanations to satisfy any believer, who would be more than ready to believe anything that agreed with their values and doctrine and glorified and magnified the power of their beloved Lord. Ultimately, if Mark invented the empty tomb, he may also have inadvertently caused the invention of a physical resurrection—since an empty tomb, though meant as a symbol, if taken as a fact could imply a physical resurrection, leaving room for future evangelists to spin the yarn further still.

 
Conclusion

What is especially impressive is the vast quantity of cases of direct and indirect borrowing from Homer that can be found in Mark. One or two would be interesting, several would be significant. But we are presented with countless examples, and this is as cumulative as a case can get.

In the end, I came away from this book with a new appreciation for Mark, whose Gospel tends to be derided as the work of a rather poor, simple Greek author. Though Mark’s Greek is extremely colloquial, not at all in high literary style, this itself is surely a grand and ingenious transvaluation of Homer: whereas the great epics were archaic and difficult, only to be mastered by the educated elites, only to be understood completely by those with access to glossaries and commentaries and marked-up critical editions, Mark not only updated Homer’s values and theology, but inverted its entire character as an elite masterpiece, by making his own epic simple, thoroughly understandable by the common, the poor, the masses, and lacking in the overt pretension and cleverness of poetic verse, written in plain, ordinary language. The scope of genius evident in Mark’s reconstruction of Homeric motifs is undeniable and has convinced me that Mark was no simpleton: he was a literary master, whose achievement is all the greater in his choice of idiom-his ‘poor Greek’ was deliberate and artful, as was his story.

Another theme that becomes apparent throughout this book is how quickly Christians lost touch with this allegorical meaning. Even the other Evangelists, when borrowing from Mark, stripped out the key and telling details and thus obviously missed the point; and only one other author, that of the Acts of Andrew, did anything overtly comparable in comprehensively recrafting Homer. By itself, this might be evidence against such a meaning actually being in Mark. But the evidence that this meaning is present is overwhelming on its own terms, and we can only conclude of early Christian ignorance, instead, that the real origins and message of the earliest Christians was all but lost even to the second or third generation. By the time there was a church in a significant sense, Christianity had been radically changed by the throngs of its converts, and, amidst the din of outsiders who stole the reigns, the very essence of that original Church of Jerusalem faded, powerless to survive under the mass of superstition and arrogance.

Having read this book, I am now certain that the historicity of the Gospels and Acts is almost impossible to establish. The didactic objectives and methods of the authors have so clouded the truth with literary motifs and allusions and parabolic tales that we cannot know what is fact and what fiction. I do not believe that this entails that Jesus was a myth, however—and MacDonald himself is not a mythicist, but assumes that something of a historical Jesus lies behind the fictions of Mark. Although MacDonald’s book could be used to contribute to a mythicist’s case, everything this book proves about Mark is still compatible with there having been a real man, a teacher, even a real ‘miracle worker’ in a subjective sense, or a real event that inspired belief in some kind of resurrection, and so on, which was then suitably dressed up in allegory and symbol.

However, the inevitable conclusion is that we have all but lost this history forever. The Gospels can no longer support a rational belief in anything they allege to have occurred, at least not without external, unbiased corroboration, which we do not have for any of the essential, much less supernatural details of the story. And if Alvar Ellegård is right (Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ, Overlook, 1999), Mark was almost entirely fiction, written after the sack of Jerusalem to freeze in symbolic prose the metaphorical message of Christianity, a faith which began with a Jesus executed long before the Roman conquest, who then appeared in visions (like that which converted Paul) a century later, in the time of Pilate, to inspire the new creed.

What is important is not that this can be decisively proven—nothing can, as our information is too thin, too scarce, too unreliable to decisively prove anything about the origins of Christianity. What is important is that theories like Ellegård’s can’t be disproven, either—it is one among many distinctly possible accounts of what really happened at the dawn of Christianity, which MacDonald’s book now makes even more plausible. And so long as it remains possible, even plausible, that the bulk of Mark is fiction, the contrary belief that it is fact can never be secure.

That tiny mustard seed…

‘Traditional Christianity is mature viper venom that has settled, whereas liberal, enlightened Christianity is recycled and of equal effect’. —Albus

Neochristianity, or following Jesus through secular self-immolation—e.g., white fans of BLM—is today’s religion. But how did such florid psychosis originate? How did the tiny mustard seed grow into such a huge weed that it’s now covering the West? Let’s take a good look at the smallest seed…

Watch this homey interview of Richard Carrier.

At 14:48 Carrier comments about the intention of the evangelist Mark (the other evangelists built upon him): ‘It’s all part of the gospel’s model reversing the order of society’.

23: 10: ‘Homer is the Bible, essentially, of the pagans… So what they want to do is called transvaluation. “I am taking stories from the Homeric tales”, rewrite them so that the value message is the value Mark wants to sell, not the value message you get from Homer, so that this book would even replace Homer… for this new society they want to create’.

28:30: ‘And it is political for them [early Christians], but subversively political’.

Later, Carrier talks about why in New Testament studies, replete of Christians, it is so hard that the most parsimonious hypothesis—the nonexistence of Jesus—is taken seriously.

Many critics of Christianity focus on the Apostle Paul, but the one who really brought this Semitic folly to the Gentile quarter was Mark’s literary genius, even if it was all pure literary fiction from his pen.

White nationalists discuss GoT

Or: Why the subtitle of this site is
‘Under the Heart Tree of Bran the Broken’

I had written a supposedly ‘last word’ on Game of Thrones this Monday but Fróði Midjord, Greg Johnson, John Morgan, and Ramz Paul have discussed the grand finale (YouTube video: here). See also the comments on Counter-Currents about the video (here). Under the penname of Trevor Lynch, Johnson expanded his critique on Unz Review:

Brandon, we are told, has the best story, and that qualifies him to rule. Except he doesn’t have the best story, but nobody objects to that. And why is having the best story a qualification to rule anyway? But nobody objects to that either. Beyond that, Brandon, is possessed by a figure known as the Three-Eyed Raven, who seems to know everything, especially about the past. But knowledge is not wisdom, and even wisdom is not leadership. So while Bran might be useful to keep around for information, he is not qualified to be king. But nobody thinks of this, and nobody objects.

First of all, Johnson ignores (after minute 23 of the discussion with the other guys) that the idea of crowning Bran came from George R.R. Martin himself, as revealed very recently by insiders:

Well, it looks like the finale twist did come from George R.R. Martin. This was confirmed by the actor, Issac Hempstead Wright, who portrays Bran Stark on Game of Thrones. During an interview, Issac says, D&D told him two big details about his character that came directly from the author himself. Unless he changes his mind, it does look like Bran Stark will become the king in the A Song of Ice and Fire series as well.

Johnson called the Bran symbol ‘The dumbest story’ and Midjord, the host of the show, added mockingly: ‘The most boring story’. Obviously, these guys have not watched an insightful video that predicted why Bran would be king before the finale was premiered:

I have also called the attention to the same vlogger’s video, ‘The Power of Stories: How Bran the Broken was always the ending’, recorded after the finale. I don’t want to transcribe what the vlogger says to the written word. But the fact that the present subtitle of this site refers to Bran moves me to respond to those white nationalists who completely missed Martin’s point.

Sam: Why? What does he [the Night King] want?

Bran: An endless night. He wants to erase this world. And I am its memory.

Sam: That’s what Death is, isn’t it? Forgetting. Being forgotten. If we forget what we have been or what we’ve done, we are not men anymore; just animals. Your memories don’t come from books. Your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of men I would start with you.

Those who haven’t understood the ending have probably missed the above dialogue in the second episode of the last season. Bran’s stories are no mere adventures, but stories that mark the destinies of the white peoples.

See my recent articles on foundational myths to understand what I mean, including the story of Romulus stolen by Mark the Evangelist to axiologically invert the Roman foundation myth (in my post yesterday).

Robert Morgan’s comment

The question is, who is using whom?

Are whites using Jesus and the racelessness of Christianity to further their own ends, i.e., to build and sustain an empire in this world, or did Jesus (or more precisely, the Jew that wrote the first gospel and invented this probably fictional character) mean only to use them to make the world safe for Jews?

Both could be true. If so, it’s been an extraordinarily stable symbiosis.

Published in: on March 25, 2019 at 10:31 am  Comments (6)  

What’s wrong with exterminationism?

In this blog I have cited two Jews, Marcus Eli Savage and Mitchell Heisman, who admitted that Christianity was nothing but a psyop devised by their tribe to control the blond beast.

Before I woke up to the Jewish question I used to read the books of another Jew, Stefan Zweig (perhaps the only Jew whose libretto for an opera by Richard Strauss was accepted at the time of the Third Reich). Zweig begins his biography of Mary Baker Eddy with a very deep idea, ‘The most mysterious moment of a man is when he becomes aware of his intimate personality; the most mysterious moment in the history of mankind is the birth of their religions’. That is why I have placed so much emphasis on this site when analysing Paul and Mark the Evangelist: the literary authors (Jesus did not exist) of a religion that would eventually castrate all Aryans around the globe.

So castrated actually that, recently, in the comments section of a well-known blog of southern nationalists in the US, a commenter who detests me explained his reasons for why he hates me: because I criticise Christianity almost full time in this blog and also, because I promote an exterminationist ideology.

Only modern emasculated whites, what I call Jew-obeyers, can complain about that. We can already imagine the ancient Greeks or the Romans being frightened of a fellow citizen who criticised a Jewish sect called Christianity (remember the quotations of ancient Greeks and Romans about Jews and Christians in the ‘masthead’ of this site). If during the siege of Jerusalem in the year 70—when Mark wrote his gospel!—a Roman would tell Titus that an exterminationist ideology would have to be implemented, no one would have been frightened. At most, they would have told the exterminationist that it was better to enslave the survivors and sell them in the Mediterranean market for economic gain, what they actually did.

Had the ancient Romans benefited from the hindsight of the modern era—that the miscegenation that they were already beginning to practice in the 1st century would result in the collapse of the Empire—, they would have accepted the arguments of the exterminationist philosopher.

So what’s wrong with exterminationism? Not for nothing in this site have I called miscegenation ‘the sin against the holy spirit’, in the sense that it is so unforgivable sin that, once consummated, only the gradual decline and the eventual fall of an Aryan empire can take place. Those white nationalists or Southerners who have not yet learned the role that miscegenation played in ancient Rome would do well to read ‘The Race Problem of the Roman Empire’ by the Swedish philologist Martin P. Nilsson. Only after that it will be somewhat more digestible to understand what William Pierce wanted to tell us in a chapter, ‘Extermination or Expulsion’, from his only non-fiction book.

Food for thought:
Martin P. Nilsson’s text.
William L. Pierce’s text.

Unhistorical Jesus, 2

An icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist

 
How we know Mark was the earliest Gospel

How did students of the four Gospels determine that the earliest of them is Mark? The answer is fairly simple and the case is overwhelmingly clear. How certain is the conclusion? It is so certain that only a small percentage of scholars hold to any other theory. The large agreement among different interpreters of the Gospels that Mark came first is for a simply reason. That reason is what happens when you lay side by side the three “Synoptic” Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

These three Gospels have been called “Synoptic,” a word which means “seeing together,” because they share in common a large amount of material, follow the same basic order, and stand apart from John, whose Gospel is unique among the four.

Long ago people realized you could display the text of the three Synoptic Gospels side by side in columns to form a synopsis or parallel Gospel or a harmony. When you do this you find that a large percentage of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are parallel. They share a large amount of verbatim agreement, though each of the three has unique ways of diverging from each other in small and large matters. Much is the same and some is different.

For a long time, people who have studied the Gospels in synopsis (parallel columns) have referred to “the Synoptic Problem.” That problem is: how do we account for the agreements and differences in the parallel accounts and in the other material in the Gospels? Many of the observations I will share here come from a book that I think is the simplest and best-explained handbook on the topic, by Mark Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze.
 

______ 卐 ______

 
Editor’s note: The rest of the above article may be read: here.

I must refer again to the bold-typed words in the first instalment of this series. For those priests of the 14 words who are knowledgeable about the secular approaches to the New Testament, the implications of those bolded words are enormous. But for white nationalists who are not so educated in this matter, before you continue reading my Mondays’ essay-review of Carrier’s book, I would recommend a little online research to become familiar with the evidence that Mark was the earliest of the four canonical gospels.

This is fundamental, as the other gospels are mere re-writings of the original Mark gospel, where the authors added fictional material of their own to an already fictional talltale.

Unhistorical Jesus, 1

Romulus appearing to Proculus Julius.

I have read the first three chapters of Richard Carrier’s book, On the Historicity of Jesus, in addition to the later chapter on Paul’s epistles. In my entry on Thursday, about the dark night of the soul suffered by the Aryans in general and the white nationalists in particular (including the so-called revolutionaries), I mentioned the finis Africae that was in the tower that housed a large library in Umberto Eco’s gothic novel. Following the plot of the novel,[1] if there is a book that a latter-day Jorge de Burgos would like to destroy, it is precisely that of Carrier.

Last Monday I said I was tempted to start reviewing On the Historicity of Jesus for this site. The first pages of chapter 4 convinced me that I should do it.

In ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ I said that all white people are heading to Jerusalem, a metaphor that must be understood in the context of the first paragraph of ‘Ethnosuicidal Nationalists’. How Christianity managed to invert the moral compass of the Aryans, from pointing at Rome to pointing at Jerusalem, is discovered by researching the motivations of those who wrote the Gospels (remember: there’s no historical Jesus, only gospel authors).

Keep in mind what we have been saying on this site about the inversion of values that happened in the West when whites, including atheists, took the axiological message of the gospels very seriously. Based on this and the crucial part of Evropa Soberana’s essay on Jerusalem and Rome, let’s see what Carrier says at the beginning of chapter 4 of On the Historicity of Jesus.

In Plutarch’s book about Romulus, the founder of Rome, we are told that Romulus was the son of god, born of a virgin, and that there were attempts to kill him as a baby.

As an adult the elites finally killed him and the sun darkened, but Romulus’ body disappeared. Then he rises from the dead.

Some people doubted and, on the road, Romulus appears to a friend to transmit the good news to his people (see image above). It is revealed that, despite his human appearance, Romulus had always been a god and was incarnated to establish a great kingdom on earth (keep these italicised words in mind in the context of the quotation below).

Then Romulus ascends to the heavens to reign from there. Before Christianity, the Romans celebrated the day when Romulus ascended into heaven. Plutarch tells us that the annual ceremony of the Ascension involved the recitation of the names of those who were afraid for having witnessed the feat, something that reminds us of the true end of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 16.8) before the Christians added more verses.

Carrier comments that it seems as if Mark was adding a Semitic garment onto Romulus’ original story: a Roman story that seems to be the skeleton on which the evangelist would add the flesh of his literary fiction. The phrase of Carrier that I put in bold letters convinced me that On the Historicity of Jesus deserves a review in several entries:

There are many differences in the two stories [the fictional stories about Romulus and Jesus], surely. But the similarities are too numerous to be a coincidence—and the differences are likely deliberate. For instance, Romulus’ material kingdom favoring the mighty is transformed into a spiritual one favoring the humble. It certainly looks like the Christian passion narrative is an intentional transvaluation of the Roman Empire’s ceremony of their own founding savior’s incarnation, death and resurrection [page 58].

My two cents: White nationalists are still reluctant to recognise that what they call ‘the Jewish problem’ should be renamed as ‘the Jewish-Christian problem’.

________

[1] The 1986 film The Name of the Rose featuring Sean Connery betrays the real plot of the novel. In the book the bad guy was the librarian Jorge de Burgos and the Inquisitor, Bernardo Gui, a secondary character. In the novel Gui burns the beautiful semi-feral peasant girl at the stake whereas in the Hollywood film the girl’s life is spared. In no way I recommend watching the movie unless the novel is read first (Umberto Eco’s only good novel in my humble opinion).

My own paradigm shift

The following is my response to a comment in the previous thread:

When I say that Jews engineered Christianity I’m sort of hyperbolic, as it is not absolutely clear that Mark—the author of the only gospel (as the other Synoptics copied and pasted large sections of Mark into their gospels)—was a Jew.

Now that I lean toward the Christ myth theory the role of Paul, with his celestial Jesus, becomes more nebulous. It looks like Mark was the big author behind what today is understood as Christianity.

My bicausal point is that, even if the four gospel writers were Hellenized Jews, you still need two to tango.

In classic white nationalism, Jewish subversion is the main cause of white decline (non-Christian white nationalists could say that the kike deceived whites with Christian morality). Remember that duck-rabbit image Kuhn used to illustrate paradigm shifts? I use the above image to illustrate my own paradigm shift from classic white nationalism to, say, Pierce’s Turner Diaries that depicted common whites as despicable degenerates. In contrast to the classical interpretation of the above caricature, I see it the other way: present-day whites are unbelievable naïve and stupid and gullible to believe what the kike tells them.

These days that I have been immersed in mythicism I discovered that salvation gods and individualism (not only in Christianity) always came after the empires were established. Only in the healthy stages of a culture religion was understood as something for the common good. This supports what I said in my previous post about the ‘One Ring’ or gold over blood: those decadent whites who embraced Christianity a long time ago (two to tango) were more responsible for the inversion of values than the subversive kike.

Bourgeois life and comfort seem like the main enemy of every white culture throughout history. That’s why I think that only a convergence of catastrophes in this century will save whites. Such a scenario may push the reset button and shift their presently rotten psyche back again to survival mode.

Published in: on January 3, 2019 at 12:28 pm  Comments (41)  

70 AD

Above, the first page of the Gospel of Mark in the readable edition (9.5 x 13″) of the four gospels that I inherited from my father. Regarding the Old Testament, to English speakers I recommend Young’s Literal Translation, an 1862 word-for-word translation of the Hebrew text. It sacrifices the beautiful poetry and readability of the KJV for extra accuracy.

Through a bizarre, subterranean and astonishing struggle, Judaism has not only persecuted the old culture, and Rome, its mortal archenemy, adopts a Jewish creed—but the Jewish religion itself, so despised and insulted by the old Romans, is now elevated as the only official religion of Rome along with Christianity!

Thus spake Evropa Soberana in a crucial passage of what has become the masthead of this site. Could it be a coincidence that the Gospel of Mark was written around the time when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, in 70 C.E.? Keep in mind that, according to a chronologically ordered New Testament, Mark’s gospel was the first gospel ever written, which means that the author inaugurated a literary genre that has hypnotized whites to date. As Soberana implied in his essay, the conquest of the Aryan soul by Judea was complete after Constantine and his Christian heirs. So complete I would say that even some of Alex Linder’s fans still worship the god of the Jews.

Last Saturday for example, I received an email from one of the regular commenters of this site, a Linder fan: a communication apparently sent to a circle of white nationalist correspondents. His letter contains this phrase: ‘Religion is a potent force in this world irrespective of whether or not God exists… and I privately believe that He does’.

If Judea had not conquered Rome, no white man today would be speaking about ‘God’, a word that I prefer to write with small letters, ‘god’, as it obviously refers to the god of the Jews. Without Judea’s triumph, polytheism would still exist today, along with atheism—but never monotheism, as ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ is clearly a commandment of Semitic import.

Recently I mentioned my book ¿Me Ayudarás? From that book, only a couple of essays have been translated for the latest edition of my Day of Wrath. Several times I have linked both essays, including ‘God’. But apparently most white nationalists are uninterested in the notion that the Big Bug that is destroying the Aryan race is precisely the sort of Semitic monotheism that the Jews started to install in the white psyche right after the humiliating defeat of 70 C.E.

Or perhaps I should say 70 AD, the year when the Gospel of Mark was probably written, as even nationalists believe in such a thing as the anno Domini?

Saint Paul, that tiny seed

To what should we compare God’s imperial rule, or what parable should we use for it? Consider the mustard seed. It is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth—yet when it is sown, it comes up and becomes the biggest of all garden plants, and produces branches, so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade.

—Mark 4:30-31.

On Wednesday night I added a disclaimer to my post about the Epistle of James. I confessed that, mistakenly, I had used the New Testament (NT) chronologically ordered by a Christian fundamentalist. Instead, I’ll be using the order of Marcus Borg (1942-2015), a more reliable scholar, for the 27 books of the NT.

The earliest book in the NT according to this more serious scholar is not the Epistle of James but 1 Thessalonians, an original letter of Paul’s. The last book in the NT is 2nd Peter, not the Book of Revelation. Borg died three years ago but in the website of the Marcus J. Borg Foundation we can be read:

Chronological means ‘contextual’. What we see is how the message about Jesus developed or ‘evolved’. Paul’s letters to the early ‘Christ communities’ were written some 20 years earlier than the first gospel. And some letters attributed to Paul were written after his death!

The gospel of Mark was written around 70 and the other gospels written later, Matthew in the 80’s or early 90’s. They are obviously not firsthand accounts. And their stories don’t match. Does this surprise you?

Our New Testament [in the common Bible] is not chronological. Why do you think the NT was ordered the way it was?

In my forthcoming NT series the goal is to read the NT in the order the books were written, and share my impressions. Once it is understood that the oldest NT texts consist of fewer legendary layers about who the historical Jesus might have been, it is a real treat to read them.

Instead of the list that mistakenly I had published (the list by a Christian fundamentalist) the order that I will be using appears in Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written. Letters in grey below mean that these books are forgeries in the sense that the real authors are not those that the NT book claims authorship. The following dates are taken from the last pages of Evolution of the Word.

The 30s CE. Jesus is executed in ca. 30. His followers continue his mission in the Jewish homeland, especially in Galilee. Somehow, Christ-communities reached Syria, in the Jewish Diaspora beyond the homeland and Paul is converted in ca. 33-35.

The 40s CE. Emperor Caligula orders the erection of a statue in the Jerusalem Temple, sparking massive Jewish resistance while Paul is in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). The controversy about whether gentile converts need to become Jewish—that is, circumcision for males—means that the Jerusalem church differed in principle from the incipient Pauline church.

The 50s CE. The seven genuine letters of Paul were apparently written in Greece and Asia Minor:

First Thessalonians

Galatians

First Corinthians

Philemon

Philippians

Second Corinthians

Romans

The 60s. Armed revolt against the Roman occupation in the Jewish homeland begins (cf. the essay that is still the masthead of The West’s Darkest Hour: ‘Rome vs. Judea; Judea vs. Rome’).

The 70s. In 70, Roman legions re-conquer Jerusalem and destroy the temple. Probably a majority of Jesus’ followers live in the Diaspora. Although the four gospels were anonymous writings and the later Church invented the names of the evangelists, I am not using grey letters for them because the intention of the authors was not to claim authorship for Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. (This does not mean that books in black letters are reliable biographical or historical accounts.)

Mark

The 80s and onward. The centre of Judaism in the homeland moves to Galilee. Judaism and the followers of Jesus begin to separate into two different religions. Second- and third- generation Christians struggle in an alien, Gentile world.

James

Colossians

Matthew

Hebrews

The 90s. The earliest reference to Jesus in a non-Christian source (Josephus), albeit tampered by the Christian scribes in the extant copies of Josephus. The extreme anti-Roman—i.e., anti-white—stance of the Christ cult by the end of the siècle is manifest in the lyric and stunning book by John of Patmos, inspired by the literary genre known as Jewish apocalyptic.

John

Ephesians

Revelation

The 100s. These NT books were written already in the second century of the Christian Era.

Jude

1 John

2 John

3 John

The 110s. Earliest references to Jesus and Christianity in Roman sources: Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny. Unsuccessful Jewish revolt in Egypt because of tensions between Jews and white Hellenes.

Luke

Acts

Second Thessalonians

First Peter

First Timothy

Second Timothy

Titus

The 120s. A century after the preaching career of Jesus the last canonical NT book is written.

Second Peter

The 130s. The Jewish revolt against the Roman rule in the Jewish homeland is brutally suppressed by the Romans. The surviving Jews are exiled from Jerusalem (132-135). Since the Romans could not be defeated physically, the exiled Jews resort to psychological warfare through the universalist, Pauline version of the Jesus cult (‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Yeshua the anointed one’).

Catholic means ‘universal’ and, after centuries of infiltration that culminated in a hostile takeover, Constantine and his Christian successors would enforce universalism throughout the Roman Empire even though it would mongrelise whites in Constantinople: something unthinkable in the early Roman Republic.

Putting aside for the moment the catastrophe that represented Constantine’s House for the Greco-Roman gene pool, in a chronologically ordered NT everything started with the Semite Paul. Therefore, let us take a closer look at the first mustard seed that would conquer Rome.

As can be seen in the above list, the seven genuine letters of Paul are the earliest NT writings. But the epistles are highly problematic for the traditional Christian. Unlike the four gospels, replete with Jesus sayings and stories about his deeds, shocking as it may seem the earliest phase of NT writings provide almost no substantial information about Jesus. Gifted writers Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, who were kind of novelists, would fill the gap decades later with moving Jesus narratives.

The Christianity that bequeathed us Rome was not the Christianity of the Jerusalem Church led by Peter and James, but the Christianity of a newcomer from Tarsus who never met Jesus in the flesh. But who was this Saul, whose version of Christianity was the one that eventually triumphed over the competing sects throughout the Roman Empire? Certainly he was a man with a religious imagination of a high order who managed to transform Jesus’ prosaic death into something fantastic for the Hellenes.

These decadent gentiles, some of whom thought that the god of the Jews was the most powerful of all gods, loved mystery cults: the New Age of the degenerate Roman Empire. In a chronological reading of the NT, Paul, not Yeshua, is present from the very first word of the movement that resulted in Christianity. Compared to him the twelve apostles, the genuine depositaries of the Jesus cult, are shadowy figures in the NT epistolary, as none of them left authentic epistles according to modern scholarship (cf. the first chapters of our translated book of Karlheinz Deschner’s Christianity’s Criminal History).

Saul moved to Jerusalem as a grown man. Christian scholars have him in very high regard and take his word, that he stood for the Jewish tradition. But Saul, who became Paul after his mental breakdown on the road to Damascus, fits the words in Rome vs. Judea; Judea vs. Rome: ‘This was a sinister Jewish and Greco-decadent schizophrenia that is evident in the very name of Jesus Christ: Yeshua, a Jewish name, and Christos, ‘the anointed one’ in Greek. To give examples of the insane Romanisation of Judea that echo the hybrid Yeshua-Christos…

Hermann Samuel Reimarus was the first NT scholar that glimpsed who the historical Yeshua might have been, an apocalyptic seer that became frustrated when the eschaton did not occur. This historical Jesus, discovered by Reimarus and popularised by Albert Schweitzer, never had the intention to found a new religion. It was Paul the one who abrogated the Torah and created an amalgam between a mystery cult (that some scholars surmise he heard of in Tarsus) and esoteric Judaism. In his letters Paul claimed to be a Jew. Since Jews are the masters of deceit it does no harm to quote a modern (((scholar))) who specialised in the NT:

Paul, as the personal begetter of the Christian myth, has never been given sufficient credit for his originality. The reverence paid through the centuries to the great Saint Paul has quite obscured the more colourful features of his personality. Like many evangelical leaders, he was a compound of sincerity and charlatanry. Evangelical leaders of his kind were common at this time in the Greco-Roman world (e.g. Simon Magus, Apollonius of Tyana). [1]

Unlike the real disciples of Jesus who spoke Aramaic, Paul’s Greek is that of one who is a native speaker of the language. Hyam Maccoby (1924-2004), the author of the above paragraph, also said that Paul’s letters were written at a time when his break with the Jerusalem leaders was almost complete, and that Paul ‘refers to these leaders with hardly veiled contempt’.

The triumph of Pauline Christianity was overwhelming. After Paul’s death the teachings of the disciples of Peter and James were suppressed by the Romans, especially after Jerusalem was converted into Aelia Capitolina. In later generations, the remaining disciples of Peter and James were derogatorily called ‘Ebionites’ by the triumphant Church. The Ebionites regarded Jesus as messiah while rejecting his divinity and his virgin birth, and insisted—as precisely those that Paul criticises in his epistles—on the necessity of following Jewish law and rites.

The Ebionites revered Jesus’ brother James and rejected Paul as an apostate from the law. Since the Pauline Church eventually destroyed all texts of the competing denominations, Ebionite beliefs are only found in the writings of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanius and Jerome: church authors discussed in Deschner’s Christianity’s Criminal History (cf. the September draft of Deschner’s book). Although we don’t have the Ebionite texts themselves, all of the above authors confirm that they opposed Paul as a pseudo-apostle and—most telling of all—claimed that Paul knew nothing about the true teachings of Jesus.

Analogous forms of exegesis moved Schweitzer and other exegetes reach the conclusion that the historical Jesus is unknowledgeable as the four gospels would be written under the influence of Pauline Christology; not of those who knew Jesus. In the opinion of several white men Paul was a superb mythologist, the real inventor of Christianity:

‘Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus’. —Thomas Jefferson

‘Paul hardly ever allows the real Jesus of Nazareth to get a word in’. —Carl Jung

‘Paul’s words are not the Words of God. They are the words of Paul—a vast difference’. —Bishop John Spong

‘The new testament was less a Christiad than a Pauliad’. —Thomas Hardy

‘Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of Christ… Fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ’. —Will Durant

‘Where possible Paul avoids quoting the teachings of Jesus, in fact even mentioning it. If we had to rely on Paul, we should not know that Jesus taught in parables, had delivered the sermon on the mount, and had taught his disciples the “Our Father”.’ —Albert Schweitzer

But of course, in The Quest of the Historical Jesus Schweitzer casts doubts about the historicity of most sayings attributed to Jesus. It is paradoxical that if the Romans had not destroyed Jerusalem and built on its ruins Aelia Capitolina, the original Yeshua cult, represented by Peter and James, might have conserved a few manuscripts refuting the claims of the opportunist from Tarsus.

Saul of Tarsus must have amalgamated a sort of proto-Gnostic ideas within Judaism with the bloody cult of a sacrificed god in his native town. For example, in death and Resurrection the god Attis represented, through his Resurrection, salvation for the degenerate inhabitants of the Greco-Roman world. The celebrants of Cybele’s mystery cult achieved salvation through the Resurrection of Attis. ‘When they are satisfied with their fictitious grief a light is brought in, and the priest, having anointed their lips, whispers, “Be of good cheer, you of the mystery. Your god is saved; for us also there shall be salvation from ills”,’ wrote Firmicus Maternus.

__________

[1] Hyam Maccoby: The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity (Harper & Row, 1986), p. 17. I read this book thirty years ago when I was living in San Rafael, California.