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.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 86

Saint John the Evangelist, a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Domenichino. The problem with the splendid Christian art is that the painters have Nordicized the Semites of the 1st century. Had photography existed in the 1st century of our era, the Aryans would never have projected their beautiful physiques on the ugly rabble of Palestine.

______ 卐 ______

 

Neither the Gospel of Matthew, nor the Gospel of John, nor John’s Book of Revelation come from the apostles to whom the Church attributes them

Due to the great importance of the ‘apostolic tradition’, the Catholic Church published all the Gospels as books of the apostles or their disciples, which justified their prestige. But there is no proof that Mark and Luke, whose names appear in the New Testament, are disciples of the apostles; that Mark is identical to the companion of Peter, or that Luke was Paul’s companion. The four Gospels were transmitted anonymously.

The first ecclesiastical testimony in favour of ‘Mark’, the oldest of the evangelists, comes from Bishop Papias of Hierapolis, in the middle of the 2nd century. But today there are many researchers who criticise the testimony of Papias; call him ‘historically worthless’ (Marxsen), and even admit that Mark ‘has never heard and accompanied the Lord’.

The apostle Matthew, a disciple of Jesus, is not the author of the Gospel of Saint Matthew which appeared between the 70s and 90s, as is generally assumed. We ignore how he got the reputation of being an evangelist. It is evident that the first testimony comes from the historian of the Church, Eusebius, who in turn accepted the claim of Bishop Papias: about whom he writes that ‘intellectually, he should have been quite limited’. The title ‘Gospel of Matthew’ comes from a later period: we find it for the first time with Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. Both died at the beginning of the 3rd century. If the apostle Matthew, contemporary of Jesus and witness of his works, had written the Gospel that is attributed to him, would he have had to borrow so heavily from Mark? Was he so forgetful? Did he have so little inspiration?

All critical biblical research considers that there is no reason why the name of the apostle Matthew should appear on the Gospel, since it was not written in Hebrew, as the tradition of the ancient Church affirms, but in Greek. No one is known to have seen the Aramaic original, nor is anyone known to have translated it into Greek; nor in the manuscripts or citations is the slightest remnant of an original Aramaic text preserved. Wolfgang Speyer rightly includes the Gospel of Matthew among ‘fakes under the mask of religious revelations’. K. Stendhal ventures that it is not even the work of a single person but of a ‘school’. According to an almost unanimous opinion of all the non-Catholic researchers of the Bible, that gospel is not based on eyewitnesses.

The most recent Catholic theologians often painfully turn on these facts. ‘In case our Greek version of the Gospel of Matthew had been preceded by an original version in Aramaic…’ writes K. H. Sohelkle. Of course, ‘in case’, says Hebbel with irony, is the most Germanic of the expressions’.

‘An original Aramaic Matthew must have been written several decades before the Greek Matthew’. Not even they themselves believe this. Lichtenberg was not the first to know but was the first to say it accurately: ‘It is clear that the Christian religion is supported more by those people who earn their bread with it than by those who are convinced of its truth’.

It is interesting that the first three Gospels were not published as apostolic, the same as the Acts of the Apostles, whose author we also ignore. The only thing we know is that he who wrote these Acts of the Apostles simply puts on the lips of his ‘heroes’ the most appropriate phrases: something common in old historiography. But these inventions not only constitute a third part of the Acts of the Apostles but are also their most important theological content and, what is particularly remarkable, the writing of this author represents more than a quarter of the entire New Testament. It is generally supposed that the author of the Gospel of Luke is identical to the travelling companion and ‘beloved physician’ of the apostle Paul. But neither the Gospel of Luke nor the Acts of the Apostles are very Pauline. Researchers do not believe today that either of these two works was written by a disciple of Paul.

The Acts of the Apostles and the three Gospels were not signed with the true name or even with pseudonyms: they were anonymous works like many other proto-Christian works, such as the Epistle to the Hebrews of the New Testament. No author of the canonical Gospels cites his name, not once does he mention a guarantor, as the later Christian treatises so often do. It was the Church the first to attribute all these anonymous writings to certain apostles and their disciples. However, such attributions are ‘hoaxes’, they are a ‘literary deception’ (Heinrici). Arnold Meyer notes that ‘with certainty only the letters of the apostle Paul are authentic, who was not an immediate disciple of Jesus’. But it is well known that not all those epistles that appear under his name come from Paul.

 
John

Since the end of the 2nd century, from Irenaeus, although at first not without controversy, the Church attributes without reason the fourth Gospel to the apostle John: something that all critical researchers have questioned for more than two hundred years. There are many weighty reasons for raising questions.

Although the author of this fourth Gospel, who curiously does not mention any author, affirms having leaned on the chest of Jesus and being a reliable witness, he assures and repeats emphatically that his ‘testimony is true’, that ‘he has seen’ and that he ‘knows’ he is telling the truth so that we ‘may believe’. But this Gospel did not appear until about the year 100, while the Apostle John had been killed long ago, towards the year 44 or, probably, in 62.

The Father of the Church, Irenaeus, who was the first to affirm the authorship of the apostle John, has intentionally confused him with a priest, John of Ephesus. And the author of the second and third epistles of John, which are also attributed to the apostle John, calls himself at the beginning, ‘the presbyter’ (a similar confusion also occurred between the apostle Philip and the ‘deacon’ Philip). Even Pope Damasus I, in his canonical index (382), does not attribute two of John’s epistles to the apostle John, but to ‘another John, the presbyter’. Also, even the Father of the Church Jerome denied that these second and third epistles belonged to the apostle. The arguments against the authorship of the apostle John as ‘the Evangelist’ are so numerous and convincing that even Catholic theologians are starting to manifest, little by little, their doubts.

The same could be said about the Book of Revelation of John, whose author is repeatedly called John both at the beginning and at the end of the book, who also appears as a servant of God and brother of Christians, but not as an apostle. The book was written, according to the doctrine of the ancient Church, by the son of Zebedee, the apostle John, since an ‘apostolic’ tradition was needed to guarantee the canonical prestige of the book. But it did not last long given that the Book of Revelation, which appeared in the last place of the New Testament, was rejected by the end of the 2nd century by the critics of the Bible who otherwise did not deny any dogma.

Pope Dionysius of Alexandria (died 264-265), a disciple of Origen and nicknamed ‘the Great’, categorically denied that John was the author of the Apocalypse. Pope Dionysius points out that primitive Christians have already ‘denied and completely rejected’ the ‘Revelation of John’.

They challenged each and every one of the chapters and declared that the work lacked meaning and uniqueness and that the title was false. They affirmed, in particular, that it did not come from John and that they were not revelations since they were surrounded by a multitude of incomprehensible things. The author of this work was not one of the apostles, no saint and no member of the Church, but Cerinthus, who wanted to give a credible name for his forgery and also for the sect of his own name.

The theologian and Protestant bishop Eduard Lohse comments: ‘Dionysius of Alexandria has very accurately observed that the Revelation of John and the Fourth Gospel are so far apart in form and content that they cannot be attributed to the same author’. The question remains whether the author of the Book of Revelation wanted to suggest, by his name John, to be considered a disciple and apostle of Jesus. He does not say that explicitly: it was done by the Church to confer apostolic authority and canonical prestige on his text. And so falsifications started: the falsifications of the Church.

______ 卐 ______

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Jesus’ love is murdering whites

Or:

The Jesus Seminar’s red letters

I have read The Five Gospels (pic left). It has bold letters in black (words attributed by the evangelist to Jesus but not of Jesus), letters in gray (ideas that might or might not come from the historical Jesus), letters in pink (ideas that could have come from the historical Jesus), and red letters (words that, according to the authors, probably were used by the historical Jesus).

The book was published by the Jesus Seminar, a group of professional exegetes of the New Testament. The Seminar was founded by the academic Robert W. Funk (1926-2005). It is interesting that the book puts almost all the gospel of John in black and gray print. That is to say, the consensus in New Testament scholarship is that very few actual Jesus words found their way in the fourth gospel. As a reviewer put it:

Funk… said that, in all, 31 sayings in the four biblical Gospels and several apocryphal sources fell into the “red” category of authentic sayings (only 15 of which are actually different, due to parallel versions in more than one gospel). They included the good Samaritan and mustard seed parables, the advice to love your enemies and some Sermon on the Mount pronouncements such as, “Blessed are you poor, for you shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Another 200 sayings were accorded pink votes, meaning that Jesus said something similar to the recorded words. Together, the red and pink sayings constituted about 20% of the total; another 30% fell into the gray class. “A gray vote meant that some of the ideas may have gone back to Jesus, but not those words,” Funk said.

I am sceptical of the Jesus Seminar. I agree with Joseph Hoffman’s comparison of the Seminar with a talking doll: “The Jesus of the [Jesus] Project is a talking doll with a questionable repertoire of thirty-one sayings. Pull a string and he blesses the poor.” Nevertheless, the main product of the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels, is a gem to understand the zeitgeist that is destroying the white race.

Pay attention to the subtitle of this site, ‘Love is murdering the white race’, a quotation from what Alex Linder wrote not long ago in Gab (I believe that out-group altruism, ultimately inspired in the words of Jesus, is destroying the Aryan DNA). Why not quote those verses in red and some pages of the book’s introduction to illustrate my point? Keep in mind that the liberal scholars of the Jesus Project, well versed in the Greek language, did not actually break away from Christian ethics that, according to the Führer, has taken mankind a giant step backwards.

In the Preface the authors explain: ‘The Five Gospels has many authors. It is the collective report of gospel scholars’ that ‘produced a translation of all the gospels known as the Scholars Version. And finally, they studied, debated, and voted for each of the more than 1,500 sayings of Jesus in the inventory’. A few pages ahead, in the introduction, these scholars say, ‘among the reasons for a fresh translation is the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas’. However, in this blog post I’ll concrete myself to quote the ‘talking doll’ sayings of the canonical gospels, omitting both the Gospel of Thomas which has some verses in pink and red, and the Gospel of John which has none in red.

It’s very refreshing to read a translation that employs colloquialisms. Unlike the Shakespearian King James Bible, the Mark gospel is very colloquial in the original Greek. For instance, in the Scholars Version, when the leper comes up to Jesus and says, ‘If you want to, you can make me clean’, Jesus replies, ‘Okay—you’re clean!’ Also, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ in most Bibles is translated from the original Greek as ‘God’s imperial rule’. I agree on this point with the Jesus Seminar, as even the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible strikes the ear ‘as faintly Victorian’, not fully vernacular. Moreover, in the Scholars Version, which is free of ecclesiastical control, the term ‘son’ is not capitalised when referring to Jesus.

Because New Testament scholars believe the Gospel of Mark was written first, they placed it first among The Five Gospels (red colour means that the colour actually appears in this 553-page book):

Pay the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and God what belongs to God! (Mark 12: 17).

The scholars also used red letters in the parallel Matthew and Luke quotations of the above saying.

Don’t react violently against the one who is evil: when someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other as well. When someone wants to sue you for your shirt, let that person have your coat along with it. Further, when anyone conscripts you for one mile, go an extra mile. Give to the one who begs from you… Love your enemies (Mark 5: 39-43).

This is what is murdering whites. Non-whites don’t believe such nonsense. But nowadays even the staunchest atheists unconsciously subscribe these words of Jesus. On page 143 of the book the words ‘Our Father’ appear in red. The next words is red appear fifty pages later:

Heaven’s imperial rule is like leaven which a woman took and concealed in fifty pounds of flour until it was all leavened (Matthew 13: 33).

The Parable of the Leaven appears in Matthew and Luke. In both places it immediately follows the Parable of the Mustard Seed. In Heisman’s Suicide Note it was interpreted thus: ‘In Jesus’s parable, it was the way of the Kingdom of God: a dangerous, pungent shrub with fiery effect that takes over where it is not wanted. Love was not only beneficial, but also necessary, to the health of the Roman patriarchal-imperial order. However, too much of a good thing can become absolutely deadly if not controlled within proscribed bounds’. Incidentally, this late Jew, Heisman, seemed to harbour a morbid pleasure on the subject of how the Jews infected whites with ethnosuicidal ethics.

I won’t quote the next words in red, thirty pages later, because it is the entire Parable of the Vineyard Labourers (Matthew 20: 1-15): too long for this blog entry. But let’s quote the next red letters that appear in the Gospel of Luke (6: 20-21):

Congratulations, you poor!
God’s domain belongs to you.
Congratulations, you hungry!
You will have a feast.
Congratulations, you who weep now!
You will laugh.

A couple of pages ahead we see again in red ‘love your enemies’ and in the same Luke chapter, another quote of that we have seen above:

When someone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well. When someone takes away your coat, don’t prevent that person from taking your shirt along with it. Give to everyone who begs from you (Luke 6: 29-30).

Again, I won’t quote page 323 even though the long Parable of the Samaritan appears in red. But this unquoted parable is the perfect example of out-group altruism—and the exact opposite of in-group altruism in the Old Testament! (Remember the Bible in a nutshell: Ethnocentrism for me but universalism for thee.) Twenty pages ahead we see once more the Parable of the Leaven in red, but this time it’s the Luke version of it. On pages 357-58 we see, all in red, most of the Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16: 1-8) that I won’t reproduce here either to keep the entry short.

My two cents. As to the hypothesis if the actual words of Jesus are retrievable or not it’s irrelevant who’s right: Hoffmann or the Jesus Seminar. What matters is that whites have been programmed, by Christianity, to commit ethnosuicide. To me, these words in red, whoever they came from—a Jew named Jesus or a Semitic evangelist—beautifully depict the Western zeitgeist.

Love is murdering the white race.

On the risen Jesus

People do not know how the mind works. Virtually all white nationalists who are Christians believe that the stories of the Resurrection have to do with the empirical world: an event in 1st-century Palestine. Now comes to my mind an oil painting of the risen Jesus that Andrew Anglin chose for his Daily Stormer in the days of Easter a few years ago.

In reality, the stories about Jesus that Christians believe, and revere, have nothing to do with the empirical world but with the structure of the inner self. I’m not going to give a class in this post about what introject means, or how our parents can program us malware without us knowing. Suffice it to say that, in my long odyssey in the fight against dad’s introjects, I had to read a lot of literature to convince myself that what the Gospels say must be questioned.
 
The resurrection of Jesus
 
The ordinary Christian does not have the faintest idea of the studies about the narratives of what they call the Resurrection and the Pentecost apparitions—research by those who have taken the trouble to learn ancient Greek to make a meticulous examination of the New Testament. The way secular criticism sees all these Gospel stories is complicated, but I will summarise it here in the most didactic way possible.

The oldest texts of the New Testament, like one of the Pauline epistles to the Corinthians, better reflect the theology of original Christianity than the late texts. Therefore, it is important to note that Paul does not mention the empty tomb or the ascension of Jesus. Modern criticism says that, if Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians was written by the 60s of our era, in that decade these legends had not yet unfolded.

Of the evangelists, Mark is the oldest and John the latest. (The Christian churches confuse the order in their Bibles by placing the Gospel of Matthew before Mark.) As Matthew and Luke copied and pasted a lot of verses from the Gospel of Mark when putting together their own gospels, these three evangelists are known as the Synoptics to distinguish them from the fourth gospel. Take this very seriously to see how the writers of the New Testament were adding narrative layers throughout the 1st century. To the brief visions that Paul had, collected in his first epistles some three decades after the crucifixion, in the 60s, the Synoptic evangelists were adding greater legends in the following decades and, in the case of John already in the dawn of the 2nd century of our era, more sophisticated Christologies.

I said that the oldest texts of the badly ordained New Testament in the traditional Bible are some of the epistles of Paul, who, while mentioning the ‘risen Christ’, does so within his dense and impenetrable theology. The Paul question is very important. Unlike the apostles, he never met Jesus in flesh; he only claimed that he heard his voice in a rare vision he had on the road to Damascus. And it is this little fellow who never knew Jesus the first one to speak of the ‘risen Christ’ in a chronologically ordered New Testament.

Unlike Paul the author of the Gospel of Mark, who wrote after Paul, does mention the empty tomb; but not the apparitions of Jesus.[1]

Matthew and John, who wrote after Mark, do mention the risen Jesus speaking with his disciples; but not the Ascension to the heavens.

It is Luke who already mentions everything, although he does not develop Christology at such theological levels as those of John the evangelist.

Another thing that uncultured Christians ignore is that Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles as a single book. The way both Catholic and Protestant churches separate the book of Luke is contrived. And it was precisely Luke who popularized the idea of the Ascension of Jesus: an obviously late legend insofar as, had it been historical, such a Hollywoodesque achievement would have been narrated not only by Paul; but by the other writers of the New Testament epistles, and by Matthew and John the evangelist (and let’s not talk about the other John: John of Patmos, the author of the Book of Revelation).

In short, serious scholars see in the diverse New Testament texts a process of myth-making: literary fiction that, in layers, was developed throughout the 1st century of our era. He who knows the chronology when the books and epistolary of the New Testament were written, and reads the texts in that order—instead of the order that appears in the Bibles for mass consumption—can begin to glimpse the evolution of the myth. Ultimately, there is no valid reason to suppose that what is told in the New Testament about Jesus’ resurrection and apparitions was historical.

It took me years to get oriented in the best literature about the Bible, including everything miraculous that is alleged about Jesus. The truth seeker could consult these selected texts.
 
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NOTE:

[1] To the bare ‘empty tomb’ narrative of the original Markan text in Greek, the church interpolated the verses that, in the common Bibles, we see at the end of Mark’s gospel; but the exegetes detected that trick a long time ago.

Gospel Fictions, 6


 
Below, part of Gospel Fictions’ sixth chapter, “The Passion narratives” by Randel Helms (ellipsis omitted between unquoted passages):


The story of the garden of Gethsemane is one of the most moving fictional creations in the New Testament. Though Mark’s Gospel is the first to tell the story in written form, its origins in the Old Testament are more clearly revealed in Luke’s version, whose vocabulary betrays its origins in Septuagint III Kings 19, the story of Elijah’s fleeing from Ahab and Jezebel.

The account is obviously fictional, since there could have been no witness to Jesus’ agony in the garden after he left his followers; they were all, according to the story, asleep.
 

Judas’ suicide

Mark had said nothing about the fate of Judas Iscariot after Jesus’ arrest, only that the priests promised to pay him money, not even indicating whether the money was ever paid. But the Christian sense of retribution could not rest with this, and soon legends were circulating that Judas died horribly. Luke knew one of these legends:

This Judas, be it noted, after buying a plot with the price of his villainy, fell forward on the ground, and burst open, so that his entrails poured out. This became known to everyone in Jerusalem, and they named the property in their own language Akeldama, which means “Blood Acre.” (Acts 1:18:19)

[Matthew on the other hand wrote:]

So Judas threw the money down in the temple and left them, and went and hanged himself. (Matt. 27:5)

That there were two such legends also accounts for the two different stories about Judas’ death: he hangs himself in Matthew and burst open in Acts. Both versions of the death are based on oracular readings of the Old Testament.
 

The Crucifixion

That Jesus was crucified by the Romans—the usual method of executing rebels—is the historical basis of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death (Mark 15, Matt. 27, Luke 23, John 19); the accounts are nevertheless fiction, composed for theological purposes.

If, as many hold, the author of the Fourth Gospel knew Mark’s work, why did he assert so strongly, contradicting Mark, that Jesus carried his own cross? Again the answer is a matter of theology rather than history. The Fourth Gospel was written, in part, as an attack upon Gnostic Christianity, which held that the Son of God was not really crucified; some Gnostics in fact held that Simon of Cyrene not only carried the cross, but was himself killed upon it. John dealt with that argument simply by eliminating Simon altogether.

Moreover, John had an entirely different picture of Jesus’ condition at the crucifixion. In the Synoptics, the implication is that Jesus is too weak, following his scouring and beating, to carry his own cross; but for John, Jesus is entirely triumphant throughout the passion. John presents no cry of dereliction from the cross (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”) but instead insists that the dying words were a cry of triumph: “It is accomplished!” (19:30). Such a figure was quite capable of carrying a cross.

Mark continues: “The hour of the crucifixion was nine in the morning” (the third hour, Roman time—Mark 15:25); John, however, tells us that “It was the eve of Passover, about noon,” when Pilate “handed Jesus over to be crucified.” Thus, we cannot know the hour of crucifixion. Nor, in fact, did the evangelists know: their times were fictional creations, parts of a theological framework.

Gospel Fictions, 7


 
Below, part of Gospel Fictions’ seventh chapter, “Resurrection fictions” by Randel Helms (ellipsis omitted between unquoted passages):


 
The earliest extended statement about the Easter experiences appears not in the Gospels but in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It dates from the early 50’s, some twenty years after the crucifixion. Paul’s statement is as interesting for what it does not say as for what it does:

I handed on to you the facts which had been imparted to me: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas, and afterwards to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred of our brothers at once, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the apostles. (15:2-7)

None of these appearances, in anything like the sequence Paul lists, is depicted in the four Gospels. Moreover, not one of the Gospel resurrection appearances is identical to those listed by Paul. Paul did not know the Gospel resurrection stories, for the simple reason that they had not yet been invented, and the four evangelists, who wrote twenty to fifty years after Paul, either did not know his list of appearances or chose to ignore it.

Perhaps most surprising of all the differences is Paul’s failure to mention the legend of the empty tomb, which was, for the writer of the earliest Gospel (Mark), the only public, visible evidence for the resurrection. Though Paul vigorously attempts to convince the Christians at Corinth, some of whom apparently doubted, that Jesus indeed rose from the dead (“if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain”), he never mentions this most striking piece of evidence.

Indeed, he had probably never heard of it; it was a legend that grew up in Christian communities different from his own. It may even have post-dated his death, for Mark wrote almost twenty years after his letter to Corinth. Worse yet, Paul would not have agreed with Mark’s theology even had he known it; for Paul, resurrection meant not the resuscitation of a corpse involving the removal of a stone and the emptying of a tomb, but a transformation from a dead physical body to a living spiritual one. “Flesh and blood can never possess the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50).

Not only is St Paul apparently unaware of the resurrection narratives recorded in the Gospels, but his own list of appearances is irreconcilable with those of the evangelists written later. Paul has it that the first appearance of the risen Lord was to Cephas (he always calls Peter by his Aramaic name, and apparently knows no stories about him in Greek). The Gospels describe no initial resurrection appearance to Peter (some women, the number varying from three to two to one, see him first), though Luke says that Peter did see him. According to equally irreconcilable accounts on the Gospels, the first appearance was to Mary Magdala alone (John), or to Mary Magdala and the other Mary (Mathew), or to Mary Magdala, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James (Luke). Again, Paul declares that the second resurrection appearance was to the “twelve,” whereas both Mathew and Luke stress that the appearance before the disciples was to the “eleven,” Judas being dead. Either Paul did not know the story about the defection and suicide of Judas Iscariot or else the “twelve” meant something different to him.

In other words, different centers of early Christianity produced their own collections of evidence of Jesus’ resurrection; these grew up independently and had, in the cases considered so far, almost nothing to do with each other. Of course, the most famous of the stories appear in the Gospels. Already in the mid-first century A.D., when Paul first wrote to the Corinthians, the idea was well established that Jesus rose again “on the third day, according to the Scriptures” (15:34). That is to say, Christians had scoured the Old Testament for passages that could, out of context, be interpreted as ancient oracles about the career of Jesus.

This involved interpretative methods that to modern eyes seem bizarre. Matthew’s assertion, in 21:4-5, based on his failure to understand the parallelism in the language of Zech. 9:9, that Jesus rode into Jerusalem astride two animals at once, is such an example. Moreover, the length of Jesus’ stay in the tomb was computed by reading Hosea 6:1-2 out of context, it being the only passage in the Old Testament with an “on the third day” allusion:

Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us and will heal us,
he has struck us and he will bind up our wounds;
after two days he will revive us,
on the third day he will restore us,
that in his presence we may live.

Hosea is, in these verses, not discussing the career of a holy man seven hundred years in the future. He is addressing his own countrymen in his own time, calling upon a corrupt people for moral and religious reform, berating people of whom one could say:

Their deeds are outrageous.
At Israel’s sanctuary I have seen a horrible thing:
there Ephraim played the wanton
and Israel defiled himself. (Hos. 6:10)

Some early Christians were aware of the paucity of Old Testament predictions about the length of Jesus’ stay in the tomb, and set about to invent more. Matthew’s additional evidence contains a prophecy in conflict with his own resurrection narrative. According to this evangelist, Jesus was buried on Friday just before sundown, and the tomb was found empty at sunrise on Sunday; thus, Jesus was presumably in the tomb two nights and one day. Nonetheless, Matthew imputed to Jesus the following, composed out of the Book of Jonah: “Jonah was in the sea-monster’s belly for three days and three nights in the bowels of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).

The oldest Christian narratives describing the discovery of the empty tomb on the third day appears in the Gospel of Mark:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought aromatic oils intending to go and anoint him; and very early on the Sunday morning, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were wondering among themselves who would roll away the stone for them from the entrance to the tomb, when they looked up and saw that the stone, huge as it was, had been rolled back already. They went into the tomb, where they saw a youth sitting on the right-hand side, wearing a white robe; and they were dumbfounded. But he said to them, “Fear nothing; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here; look, there is the place where they laid him. But go and give this message to his disciples and Peter: ‘He will go on before you into Galilee and you will see him there, as he told you’.” Then they went out and ran away from the tomb, beside themselves with terror. They said nothing to anybody, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8).

The most ancient manuscripts of Mark end at this point, one of the strangest and most unsatisfying moments in all the Bible, depicting fear and silence on Easter morning and lacking a resurrection appearance. But within about fifty years, at least five separate attempts were made by various Christian imaginations to rewrite Mark’s bare and disappointing story; they appear in the Long Ending and the Short Ending of Mark, and in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.

The first two are second-century interpolations in some texts of Mark and are identified as such in any responsible modern text. They are Mark 16:9-20 (in the King James version and others based on late manuscripts), an unskillful paraphrase of resurrection appearances in other Gospels; and Mark 16:9 in few other late manuscripts, in which the women followed the youth’s instructions to tell the disciples, a statement that conflicts with verse 8 of the original text.

Probably the first large-scale effort to rewrite Mark’s account and make it more pleasing to the faithful took place when the Gospel of Mathew was written in the last two decades of the first century. Although the major written source information was the Gospel of Mark, Matthew made up striking changes in Mark’s resurrection narrative. Mark’s account ends with the women running away from the tomb in terror and in their fear say nothing to anybody. Matthew did not like this ending, however, so he changed it, consciously constructing a fictional narrative that more closely fit what he and his Christian community wanted to have happen on Easter morning: “They hurried away from the tomb in awe and great joy, and ran to tell the disciples” (Matt. 28:8). How did Matthew feel justified in making such a major change in Mark, a source he obviously regarded, for the most part, as authoritative?

The answer is that Matthew was a conscious literary artist who sincerely believed in the resurrection; moreover, he believed he had the authority, granted him by his church and by its interpretation of the Old Testament, to “correct” Mark’s Gospel and theology. Indeed, he had corrected Mark many times before, often doing so on the basis of what he regarded as his superior understanding of the oracles in the Old Testament. For since Jesus’ life happened “according to the Scriptures,” early Christians were confident that in order to find out about him, they did not need to engage in historical research or consult witness (in our understanding of these two approaches); they found detailed history in the ancient oracles of the Hebrew Bible, read as a book about Jesus.

Matthew was a careful student of both the Old Testament and of Mark, which in his time was not yet accepted as canonical Scripture and thus could be changed at need. His study revealed how frequently Mark’s Gospel was transparent upon Scripture (or based upon it), and in ways that Mark himself apparently did not recognize. Mark had composed his Gospel on the basis of earlier oral and written sources, which in turn had found much of their information about Jesus in the Old Testament. Though Mark seems not to have realized that this was so, Matthew readily recognized the relationships between Mark and the Old Testament, and even took it upon himself to extend and correct them.

In this case he saw Mark’s resurrection narrative as transparent upon de Book of Daniel, especially chapter 6, the story of the lion’s den. On recognizing the relationship, Matthew seems to have consulted the Septuagint version of Daniel and believed that he found there details of a more accurate account of the happenings of the Sunday morning than could be found in the pages of Mark; never mind that Daniel’s narrative is a story in the past tense about presumed events in the distant past. Matthew ignored its narrative and historical content and turned it into a prophetic oracle, as had the originators of Mark’s story.

It seems clear that in a literary sense at least, Matthew was right: the account of the empty tomb used by Mark was indeed structured on Daniel’s story of the lion’s den. In the 30’s and 40’s, the empty tomb story was not part of the tradition about the resurrection: Paul was unaware of it. The legend grew in Mark’s community, or one from which it borrowed, as part of its stock of evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. As Matthew was to do again nearly a generation later, certain Christians, perhaps in the 50’s and 60’s, searched the Old Testament, a major source of what was for them authoritative information about Jesus, in order to construct their account of the passion and resurrection, and found in the Book of Daniel much of what they needed. Consider the parallels. […]

[Helms’ text cannot be copied and pasted in the internet. Above I typed directly pages 129 to 135 from his book, Gospel Fictions, Prometheus Books, 1988. But I’ll omit Helms’ detailed account of these parallels and jump to page 142:]

In sum, we may say that Matthew’s account of the resurrection is a fictional enlargement of Mark’s fictional narrative, produced, at least in part, because of what he saw as the incomplete and inadequate nature of Mark’s last chapter. Certainly, Matthew sincerely believed in the resurrection; he also believed that his version of the story was more authoritative, more “scriptural,” than Mark’s, but his sincerity does not make the story less fictive. The same may be said of Luke’s enlargement of the Markan resurrection account.

The Gospel of Luke is, like that of Matthew, an expanded revision of Mark. Of Mark’s 661 verses, some 360 appear in Luke, either word-for-word or with deliberate changes. Some of the most dramatic of these changes appear in Luke’s version of Mark’s resurrection narrative.

Luke’s most significant change from Mark—the totally different angelic message at the tomb—finds its origin not in the Old Testament, however, but in Luke’s need to prepare his readers for the story of Pentecost in the Book of Acts, which he also wrote. In the version of the story Luke wishes to present, the disciples cannot be ordered, or even allowed, to leave Jerusalem for Galilee; they must remain for the all-important Pentecost experience.

Matthew composed a Galilee resurrection appearance using the Book of Daniel as the source of what Jesus would have said. But Luke eliminates the angels’ statement that the risen Jesus is going to Galilee; in contrast to Matthew, who composes a new statement for Jesus out of the youth’s speech in Mark (“take word to my brothers that they are to leave to Galilee”—Matt. 28:10), Luke imputes to Jesus a new saying that demands quite the opposite: “Stay here in this city until you are armed with the power from above” (Luke 24:49).

Luke thus presents resurrection appearances only in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Mark implies, and Matthew specifically declares, that Jesus, followed later by his disciples, left Jerusalem immediately after his resurrection and went to Galilee some eighty or ninety miles to the north, where they all met. Luke writes (Acts 1:3-4) that the risen Jesus “over a period of forty days… appeared to them and taught them about the kingdom of God. While he was in their company he told them not to leave Jerusalem.” For Luke, the story of Pentecost, described in the second chapter of Acts, overshadowed any assertion that the disciples were in Galilee meeting Jesus; they had to be in Jerusalem, so he placed them there and constructed a saying by Jesus to justify this change.

The fourth evangelist, John (who was not the Apostle, but a Christian who wrote at the very end of the first century), possessed a collection of resurrection narratives different from those used by Matthew and Luke, and irreconcilable with them.

In Luke, when the women returned to the disciples with the joyous news that the tomb was empty and that two angels had declared Jesus risen, “The story appeared to them to be nonsense, and they would not believe” (24:11); but in John, when Peter and the other disciples hear the women’s message, they run to the tomb and find it empty, whereat, says John, they “believed” (20:28). […]

The Gospel of John , as originally written (circa 100 A.D.), ended immediately after Jesus’ appearance before the doubting Thomas. Early in the second century, however, certain Christians to whom the gospels of Mathew and Luke were important, recognized that both these earlier works stress, in opposition to John, that the resurrection appearances occurred in Galilee as well as Jerusalem. They took it upon themselves to reconcile John with the others by adding a twenty-first chapter.

That this section is not by the author of the rest of the Gospel is clear from the prominence it gives to the “sons of Zebedee” (John 21:2), who are mentioned by this name nowhere else in the Fourth Gospel, though they are central figures in the Synoptics. A major propose of this addition, and another sign of its late date, is betrayed by the last saying attributed to Jesus in the chapter. For no reason apparent in the narrative, we are told that Peter “saw” an unnamed disciple, the one “whom Jesus loved,” and asked Jesus, “What will happen to him?” Jesus’ response was, “If it should be my will that he should wait until I come, what is that to you? Follow me.”

The saying of Jesus became current in the brotherhood, and was taken to mean that the disciple would not die. But in fact Jesus did not say that he would not die, he only said “If it should be my will that he should wait until I come, what is that to you?” (21:21-23)

Obviously, this disciple (in fact all the first-generation Christians) had long since died, and Jesus showed no signs of returning. The tradition persisted, however, that those were the words of Jesus, for the first generation indeed confidently expected the early return of their Lord (had he not said, in Mark 9:1, “There are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they have seen the kingdom of God already come”?). A saying had to be constructed that would not only demystify and reinterpret this persistent legend, so troubling to the faithful, but solve the apologetic problem it presented. Chapter 21 exists, in part, for this purpose; and though the attempt is an unconvincing quibble, it had to be made.

The resurrection narratives in the last chapters of the four Gospels are effective stories that have given solace and hope to millions of believers who have not read them carefully.

The fallibility of the Gospels (6)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s
Jesus: The Evidence

Bultmann died in 1976, at the age of ninety-two. A whole generation of modern New Testament scholars, among them his Marburg successor Werner Kiimmel, Bristol University’s Dennis Nineham, Harvard University’s Helmut Koester, and others, acknowledge an immense debt to him for introducing a whole new school of thought in theological research. Others, however, recognize that Bultmann went too far, and have challenged his rigid, unshakable attitudes: in Britain, while acknowledging that each gospel per se may have been written at second hand, several scholars have devoted great attention to the detection of underlying first-hand sources. Not long after Bultmann had begun his professorship at Marburg, across the Channel at Queen’s College, Oxford, a shy and retiring Englishman, Canon Burnett Streeter, quietly put the finishing touches to The Four Gospels: A Study in Origins.

By this time, thanks to both British and German theological re- search, it was already recognized that the authors of Matthew and Luke, in addition to drawing on the gospel of Mark, must have used a second Greek source, long lost, but familiarly referred to by scholars as ‘Q’ (from the German ‘quelle’, meaning source). It was even possible to reconstruct Q’s original content from passages in which Matthew and Luke bore close resemblance to each other, but not to Mark. While reaffirming this thinking, Streeter postulated at least two additional sources: ‘M’, which seemed to have provided material peculiar to the Matthew gospel, and ‘L’ which furnished passages exclusive to Luke. Streeter evolved a chart of the synoptic gospels’ possible interrelationship and dependence upon such sources. ‘M’ and ‘L’ may well have been written in Aramaic, the spoken language of Jesus and his disciples.

Streeter died in 1937, but his line of thought was developed by other major British theological scholars, among them Professor Charles Dodd, who went on to make his own special contribution to an understanding of the John gospel.

To this day the broad outlines of Streeter’s hypothesis remain the basis for much synoptic literary criticism. And the clues to underlying Aramaic sources are indeed there. In the Luke gospel, for instance, which includes ‘exclusives’ such as the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, there occurs the following saying:

Oh, you Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness… Instead give alms from what you have and then indeed everything will be clean for you. (Luke II: 39-41).

‘Give alms’ appears to make no sense, yet it occurs in the very earliest available Greek texts. All becomes clear, however, when we discover that in Aramaic ‘zakkau’ (to give alms) looks very similar to ‘dakkau’ (to cleanse). That the original saying referred to ‘cleansing’ rather than ‘giving alms’ can be checked because Matthew includes a parallel passage in what we may now judge to have been the correct form: ‘Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that the outside may become clean as well…’ (Matthew 23: 26). As has been remarked by Cambridge theologian Don Cupitt, this tells us more clearly than any amount of scholarship that whoever wrote Luke was not inventing his material, but was struggling with an Aramaic source that he was obviously determined to follow even if he did not fully under- stand it.

A similar misunderstanding is detectable in the Matthew gospel, notable for its remarkable ‘Sermon on the Mount’ passages, some of which, when translated from Greek into Aramaic, take on such a distinctive verse form that Aramaic must have been the language in which they were first framed. It is like translating the words ‘On the bridge at Avignon’ back into their original French.

(To be continued…)

The fallibility of the Gospels (5)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s
Jesus: The Evidence


If all these new discoveries seemed damaging enough, within two decades on to the scene at Germany’s Marburg University stepped Rudolf Bultmann (pic), acknowledged by many as this century’s greatest New Testament theologian, bringing with him a new and yet more devastating weapon, Formgeschichte or ‘form criticism’. This followed on from the work of Karl Ludwig Schmidt, a German pastor who had noted that a particular weakness of gospels such as Mark’s lay in the link passages, which appeared to have been invented to give an impression of continuity between one episode or saying and the next. Bultmann set his sights to trying to reconstruct what material, if any, might be authentic between the links. His approach was to try to assess each gospel element—birth story, miracle story, ethical saying, etc.—in order to establish whether it was original or had been borrowed from the Old Testament, or from contemporary Jewish thought, or merely invented to suit some particular theological line which early Christian preachers wanted to promulgate.

For Bultmann anything that savoured of the miraculous—the nativity stories, references to angels, accounts of wondrous cures of the sick, and the like—could immediately be dismissed as prompted by the writer’s concern to represent Jesus as divine. Anything that appeared to fulfil an Old Testament prophecy—Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, his entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, his betrayal, and much else—could be rejected as a mere attempt to represent his life as fulfilling such prophecies. If anything that Jesus was reported to have said could be traced to the general Jewish thinking of his time, then it was unacceptable as necessarily originating from him.

For instance, Jesus’ famous saying, ‘always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets’ (Matthew 7: 12) may be found mirrored almost exactly in a saying of the great Jewish Rabbi Hillel, from less than a century before Jesus: ‘Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow-man. This is the whole Law [Torah]’. We cannot therefore be sure that this was ever said by Jesus. Similarly, in Mark’s gospel, Jesus is reported as telling a paralytic: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (Mark 2:5). Jewish scribes were then said to have challenged Jesus’ right to offer such forgiveness, on the grounds that only God can forgive sins. According to Mark Jesus went on to cure the paralytic regardless. Bultmann argued that this story was probably invented by early Christians to bolster their own claim to be able to forgive sins.

By a series of deductions of this kind he concluded that much of what appears in the gospels was not what Jesus had actually said and done, but what Christians at least two generations removed had invented about him, or had inferred from what early preachers had told them. Not surprisingly, Bultmann’s approach left intact little that might have derived from the original Jesus—not much more than the parables, Jesus’ baptism, his Galilean and Judaean ministries and his crucifixion. Recognizing this himself, he condemned as useless further attempts to try to reconstruct the Jesus of history:

I do indeed think that we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary.

Bultmann’s recourse was to the Lutheran concept of a Christ of faith, in his view a concept far superior to anything relying on works of history. And he and his colleagues seem to have happily accepted a divine Jesus while rejecting most of the historical evidence for his existence. Dr Geza Vermes, a leading present-day Jewish scholar, has neatly summarized the Bultmann position as having ‘their feet off the ground of history and their heads in the clouds of faith’.

(To be continued…)

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 10:43 am  Comments (2)  
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The fallibility of the Gospels (4)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s
Jesus: The Evidence

In turn the John gospel came under similar scrutiny. The long speeches in fluent Greek attributed to Jesus were considered by German theologians to be Hellenistic in character, compatible with the gospel’s traditional provenance, the Hellenistic city of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Since even Church tradition acknowledged the John gospel to have been written later than the rest, it was thought to be most likely to date from close to the end of the second century. However, the one apparent crumb of comfort, that the Mark gospel, despite its geographical flaws, seemed to offer a less fanciful version of Jesus’ life than the rest, was in turn swept away with the publication, in 1901, of Breslau professor Wilhelm Wrede’s The Secret of the Messiahship.

Wrede argued powerfully that whoever wrote Mark tried to present Jesus as having deliberately made a secret of his Messiahship during his lifetime, and that most of his disciples failed to recognize him as the Messiah until after his death. While not necessarily giving this idea their full endorsement, most modern scholars acknowledge Wrede’s insight in establishing one fundamental truth—that even the purportedly ‘primitive’ Mark gospel was more concerned with theology, with putting over a predetermined theological viewpoint, than with providing a straight historical narrative.

Five years after Wrede’s publication, in a closely written treatise From Reimarus to Wrede, translated into English as The Quest for the Historical Jesus, Albert Schweitzer (pic), later to become the world-famous Lambarene missionary, summarized the work of his fellow German theological predecessors in these terms:

There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence… This image has not been destroyed from without, it has fallen to pieces, cleft and disintegrated by the concrete historical problems which came to the surface one after another…

(To be continued…)

Published in: on July 6, 2012 at 10:16 am  Comments Off on The fallibility of the Gospels (4)  
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The fallibility of the Gospels (3)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s
Jesus: The Evidence

But the incursion into theology of the increasingly scientific outlook of the age was not to be checked so easily, particularly among Protestants. Under the professorship of the redoubtable Ferdinand Christian Baur, a prodigiously productive theologian who was at his desk by four o’clock each morning, Tübingen University in particular acquired a reputation for a ruthlessly iconoclastic approach to the New Testament, an approach which spread not only throughout Germany, but also into the universities of other predominantly Protestant countries. Traditionally the Matthew gospel had been regarded as the earliest of the four New Testament gospels, and it went virtually unquestioned that its author was Matthew, the tax-collector disciple of Jesus.

Tübingen University Library

In 1835 Berlin philologist Karl Lachmann argued forcefully that the Mark gospel, simpler and more primitive, was the earliest of the three synoptics. Lachmann became swiftly followed by scholars Weisse and Wilke, later in the century the argument was taken up by Heidelberg theologian Heinrich Holtzmann, and by the end of the century Mark’s priority (even though not without challengers to this day) had become the most universally accepted theological discovery of the age. And this raised immediate problems concerning the authorship of Matthew. The Mark gospel, which from internal and external clues was almost certainly written in Rome, ostensibly offers the least claim of all the synoptics to eyewitness reporting. Traditionally, Mark is claimed to have been at best some sort of secretary or interpreter for Peter. The connection with Peter, if it existed at all, cannot have been that close, however, for the Mark gospel exhibits a lamentable ignorance of Palestinian geography. In the seventh chapter, for instance, Jesus is reported as going through Sidon on his way to Tyre to the Sea of Galilee. Not only is Sidon in the opposite direction, but there was in fact no road from Sidon to the Sea of Galilee in the first century AD, only one from Tyre.

Similarly the fifth chapter refers to the Sea of Galilee’s eastern shore as the country of the Gerasenes, yet Gerasa, today Jerash, is more than thirty miles to the south-east, too far away for a story whose setting requires a nearby city with a steep slope down to the sea. Aside from geography, Mark represents Jesus as saying, ‘If a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery’ (Mark 10:12), a precept which would have been meaningless in the Jewish world, where women had no rights of divorce. The author of the Mark gospel must have attributed the remark to Jesus for the benefit of Gentile readers.

Since it is demonstrable that the author of Matthew drew a substantial amount of his material from the Mark gospel, is virtually impossible to believe that the original tax-collector Matthew, represented as having known Jesus at first hand, and having travelled with him, would have based his gospel on an inaccurate work whose author clearly had no such advantages. Bluntly, the original disciple Matthew could not have written the gospel that bears his name. Whoever wrote it must have been later than Mark. As a result of such reasoning, the German theologians began increasingly to date the origination of all three synoptic gospels to well into the second century AD.

(To be continued…)

Published in: on July 4, 2012 at 11:18 am  Comments Off on The fallibility of the Gospels (3)  
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