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‘Home’ is the second episode of the sixth season of HBO’s fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 52nd overall. By now, it should be clear that the show is just a series that stands out from other television series simply because Martin writes well. But it is feminist propaganda of the worst kind: the retro-projective as I have said.

For example, the day after Euron kills his older brother, King Balon Geyjoy, in the rainy passage of the castle of the Iron Islands, the Drowned Priest Aeron tells Yara: ‘Perhaps you’ll be the first woman in history to rule the iron born’, which is true, as we will see in the eighth season, after Euron’s death.

The form of Martin’s prose, as well as the visual artistry in some of the directors’ shots, places this series above the others. But I use it to criticise the madness of the West. For example, on DVD it is worth watching the final eight minutes of the episode, from when Davos talks to Melisandre until Jon Snow is resurrected.

Melisandre, Davos, Edd and Tormund before Jon’s corpse.

Gaedhal recently told me something in the comments section that I hadn’t thought of. White nationalists are, on the subject of New Testament exegesis, much more primitive than liberal Christians insofar as the latter at least acknowledge that the gospels are full of problems. Read Albert Schweitzer’s classic The Quest of the Historical Jesus or, for someone completely unfamiliar with the subject, the didactic book of another Christian (excerpts: here).

But once we abandon liberal exegesis from the pen of Christians and read the exegesis of an atheist, we are faced with a completely different approach to the New Testament, insofar as there is no evidence that Jesus even existed (let alone risen from the dead).

The resurrection of Jon Snow at the end of this episode is no more fictitious than the resurrection of Jesus at the end of the Gospel of Mark (a text that would later be used by Matthew and Luke for further equally fictitious narratives). If it were possible to make white nationalists understand that what they believe is no more historical than the ritual that Melisandre practices when reviving Jon, they would find themselves halfway into the psychological Rubicon and not just three steps away from Normieland, although with their feet already wet.

I would suggest new visitors watch the video on the sidebar of Richard Carrier’s conference. The only historical difference between the resurrection of Jon Snow and that of Jesus is that millions of whites have believed the story that some Jews wrote two thousand years ago.

Published in: on April 16, 2021 at 3:37 am  Comments (2)  

Whipping the fog and pride

‘It was as useless to fight against the interpretations of ignorance as to whip the fog’.

—George Elliot, Middlemarch

Throughout the first decades of my life I was very naive. I believed that it was possible to reason with people simply by citing facts and solid arguments based on those facts. I hadn’t realised that humanity is a failed species, and that throughout civilisations humans have believed simply what they want to believe, even if they are the most horrible and cruel religions or secular ideologies.

After reading Schopenhauer I realised that everything has to do with the will, and that it is impossible to change the worldview of an ordinary human unless one first gains his will.

When I learned in my twenties of liberal Christian criticism about the historicity of New Testament accounts, in my infinite naivety I believed that I could use that knowledge to argue with my father. For example, I once told him that Herod’s massacre of the innocents could not be historical since Flavius Josephus, the historian of the 1st century of our era, would not have overlooked it in his famous history of Jewry. But Josephus doesn’t mention it. The only thing my father did was get angry, and of course my solid argument didn’t make the slightest dent in his traditional Catholic worldview.

The same I came to observe with the people of the left whom I dealt with. As my visitors know, I grew up in a country in Latin America. In the days before the internet, my acquaintances were not interested in what could be accessed through the cultural magazines of the country, for example, the magazine Vuelta by Octavio Paz: who criticised Marxism-Leninism. The left-wing people whom I dealt with weren’t interested in Paz’s magazine, even though he was the Spanish speaker whose prose was the most lyrical in his day.

(Left, Juan del Río and his wife, who invited me to enter Eschatology in December 1978. Both have already died.) Likewise, when I began to apostatise from Eschatology, a cult of the New Age type in which I spent some years of my life (see the first of my essays in Daybreak), my teacher Juan del Río didn’t answer any of my arguments even when I sent them in writing. Juan died because eschatologists believe that all diseases have a psychosomatic aetiology, and despite having the financial means, a colon cancer that tormented him for years wasn’t properly treated. In his book-review ‘Do not rely on “mental healing”, scepticism is healthy’, the American S. Currie tells about a similar case:

My mother left leather-bound editions of The Sickle (1918) and The Sharp Sickle (1938) [the textbooks of Eschatology] to me before she passed away. She used to read to me from these books on Sundays when I was young. I believe her mother, my grandmother, originally introduced her to these books when she was a young woman. Both my mother and grandmother died of colon cancer. My father was a physician. In my mother’s case, she kept her early symptoms secret from my Dad and everyone else so that she could work on them via ‘mental healing’. When at last she did tell my Dad and she went to her doctor, it was too late. I both love these books as my mother’s close possessions, and despise them for encouraging her to ignore modern medicine. I will not leave them to my children.

Some time later, now with the advantage of the internet, I discovered the forums of white nationalists, and it happened exactly the same that had happened to me with my father, the Latin American leftists and the eschatologists: they don’t tolerate cognitive dissonance. If they tolerated it the first thing they would do would be a severe examination of conscience of how it is possible to be Jew-wise and at the same time bend the knee before the god of the Jews. It took me a few years to realise that white nationalists are as closed-minded as my father, the people of the old left that I dealt with, and the eschatologists.

For the record, I have been in this world for over sixty years, and this has been my experience with the common human. Trying to fight ignorance with all of them has been like whipping the fog: a pointless experience. I’m not referring to one hundred percent of Christians, leftists or white nationalists because it is obvious that there are exceptions. I mean the bulk of the population.

What they all lack is a little humility. I abandoned Christianity, leftist ideologies, Eschatology and White Nationalism out of humility (now I don’t consider myself a white nationalist but rather a ‘priest of the 14 words’ to distinguish myself from them): humility to face tough or ugly facts. What all these people suffer from is pride, the original sin to quote their own vocabulary.

Published in: on January 23, 2021 at 1:42 pm  Comments Off on Whipping the fog and pride  

Atwill’s cranked-up Jesus

by Richard Carrier

Joseph Atwill is one of those crank mythers I often get conflated with. Mythicists like him make the job of serious scholars like me so much harder because people see, hear, or read them and think their nonsense is what mythicism is. They make mythicism look ridiculous. So I have to waste time (oh by the gods, so much time) explaining how I am not arguing anything like their theories or using anything like their terrible methods, and unlike them I actually know what I am talking about, and have an actual Ph.D. in a relevant subject from a real university.

Note that I have divided this article into two parts, the second (titled ‘Our Long Conversation’) is something you can easily skip (see the intro there for whether reading it will be of any interest to you). So although this post looks extraordinarily long, it’s really that second part that gives it such length. You can just read up to the beginning of that section though. You don’t have to continue beyond that to get the overall point.
 

Atwill who?

Atwill is the one dude I get asked about most often. And now apparently even Dawkins is tweeting about Atwill, thanks to his upcoming venture into England later this month to sell his weird Roman Conspiracy variety of Jesus mythicism. To get the gist you can check out his PR puff piece. Thomas Verenna has already written a deconstruction of that. Notably even D.M. Murdock doesn’t buy Atwill’s thesis, declaring that she does not concur with Atwill’s Josephus/Flavian thesis and that ‘the Flavians, including Josephus, did not compose the canonical gospels as we have them’. Robert Price has similarly soundly debunked his book, even after strongly wanting to like it.

Atwill is best known as the author of Caesar’s Messiah (subtitle: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus, Roman meaning the Roman imperial family… yeah). In this Atwill argues ‘Jesus [is] the invention of a Roman emperor’ and that the entire New Testament was written by ‘the first-century historian Flavius Josephus’ who left clues to his scheme by littering secret hidden coded ‘parallels’ in his book The Jewish War. Atwill claims to prove ‘the Romans directed the writing of both’ the JW and the NT, in order ‘to offer a vision of a “peaceful Messiah” who would serve as an alternative to the revolutionary leaders who were rocking first-century Israel and threatening Rome’…

Notice his theory entails a massive and weirdly erudite conspiracy of truly bizarre scope and pedigree, to achieve a truly Quixotic aim that hardly makes sense coming from any half-intelligent elite of the era (even after adjusting for the Flynn effect), all to posit that the entire Christian religion was created by the Romans (and then immediately opposed by them?), who somehow got hundreds of Jews to abandon their religion and join a cult that simply appeared suddenly without explanation on the Palestinian book market without endorsement.

I honestly shouldn’t have to explain why this is absurd. But I’ll hit some highlights. Then I’ll reveal the reasons why I think Atwill is a total crank, and his work should be ignored—indeed everywhere warned against as among the worst of mythicism, not representative of any serious argument that Jesus didn’t exist. And that’s coming from me, someone who believes Jesus didn’t exist.

_________

The rest of Carrier’s long piece with hundreds of comments in the comments section of his website can be read: here. It is a pity that quite a few commenters in the racialist right promote Atwill’s conspiracy theory.

Published in: on December 23, 2020 at 3:07 pm  Comments (1)  

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.

Merrie Melodies

If we remember a passage in The Fair Race (‘The Arab historian Ibn Fadlan, ambassador of Baghdad to the Bulgarians of the Volga, says of the Vikings: “I have never seen physical specimens so perfect, tall as palm trees, blond and ruddy-skinned”’) it is obvious that the other human races should not exist. If they exist for billions it is due to the counterproductive greed of the white man, so well portrayed in The Man Who Would Be King, where the inhabitants of Kafiristan seem apes compared to Sean Connery and Michael Caine. Both white greed and Christian ethics are behind the creation of the billions of non-whites currently flooding the globe.

Those who are familiar with Richard Carrier’s work will know that the strongest point of his argument is his analysis of the epistles of St Paul. The oldest texts of the New Testament, the Pauline epistles, do not mention an earthly Jesus but an exclusively heavenly one. St. Paul does not even locate the crucifixion of Jesus on earth! In recent days I have continued reading Carrier’s book and I came across a chapter on Clement of Rome and his epistle, which may have been written in the first century. Surprise: Clement also fails to speak, in so early writing, of an earthly Jesus. Apparently the stories that Mark and the other evangelists would write had not yet reached Clement’s ears.

The evidence that the central character of the New Testament is fictional is overwhelming to anyone who has read Carrier’s book, or seen the YouTube videos where he discusses with theologians who believe Jesus was a historical figure. How was it that, instead of the religion of the beautiful Hellenes, whites submitted to the Semitic religion of eternal fire for whites? (In the representations of old paintings of hell I do not see gooks or blacks but whites.) This reminds me that I took the expression ‘Fruitcake Hospital’, which I used in my previous article, from a program that I saw in the early 1970s in The Porky Pig Show, although I don’t remember which character was sent to the psychiatric hospital (huge buildings in those times, like the one we saw in Joker).

Many whites who have abandoned Christianity maintain in their minds a Christian residue, the belief in the immortality of the human soul. They do not seem to notice that, in doing so, they inadvertently join blacks and gooks as long as ‘Man is special’ and the rest of creation is treated as despicable creatures—as if a camel were the same as a spider! Such is the axiological by-product of those who maintain that only Man possesses a soul that survives death: the ultimate brotherhood with other races. (*)

Some white nationalists argue that the white race has always had a belief in personal immortality. What they fail to realise is that the obsession to save themselves from the eternal fire caused an unhealthy focus with the beyond that didn’t exist in the Ancient World, at least not among whites. The complete apostasy of Christianity not only implies abandoning Christian ethics, the crux of this site, but abandoning the obsession with the hereafter as well. Otherwise whites seem to me like that character from Merrie Melodies I saw as a kid who was sent to the Fruitcake Hospital.

_______

(*) Oliver Sacks’ books are hilarious and also explain how the faculties of the supposed ‘soul’ can be damaged simply by accidentally injuring the human brain.

Published in: on October 22, 2019 at 11:41 am  Comments (20)  

Spanish Renaissance painter

In previous entries of Christian art we have seen how literary fiction was growing within the New Testament itself; how, from St. Paul who did not mention the empty tomb in his epistles (the oldest texts of the New Testament), the evangelist Mark did mention it but only with a ‘young man’. Matthew, who wrote after Mark, used the latter’s story and, in his own literary fiction, transfigured the young man into an ‘angel’. Luke and John, who knew Matthew’s text, added another angel to their gospels.

This is how the four gospels were created, each late gospel making the miracle bigger. But the story of how fiction grew does not end in the New Testament. Just as the so-called apocryphal gospels devised additional stories that do not appear in the so-called canonical gospels (e.g., passages from the childhood of Jesus), the popular imagery would invent stories that do not even appear in the apocrypha.

For example, the gospels do not tell that the risen Jesus appeared to his mother. But artists and Christian piety could not help imagining the encounter. This can be seen in Appearance of the Risen Christ to the Virgin (1515, above), a work by Hernando Yáñez de la Adelina, a Spanish Renaissance painter and introducer of the Italian quattrocentist formulas in Valencia and Castile.

Published in: on September 12, 2019 at 12:01 pm  Comments Off on Spanish Renaissance painter  

How the myth developed

Next to the already empty tomb, this Italian work by Andrea Orcagna (1370, preserved in the National Gallery of London) shows a dialogue between a couple of angels and the three Marys.

In the earliest gospel, Mark (16:5) describes that the women enter the tomb and meet ‘one young man’.

A later evangelist, Matthew (28:2), who used Mark’s gospel, embellished Mark’s literary fiction a little further. He changed the ‘one young man’ to an ‘angel’ that arrives during an earthquake and rolls the stone away.

Luke and John, who wrote their gospels even after Matthew, add another angel to the story that greet the women. So there are two angels now, like the blond ones represented by the delicate paintbrush of Orcagna. (I really love how medieval painters used the pink colour…)

Published in: on September 10, 2019 at 12:01 pm  Comments Off on How the myth developed  

The empty tomb

For Christians, the empty tomb is the great proof that the Jew they worship had risen. In this detail from The Polyptych of the Misericordia that a disciple of Piero della Francesca painted in the 15th century, the women ‘prove the truth’ of the central miracle in Christendom.

Today’s Christians do not seem bothered by the fact that the oldest texts of the New Testament, seven Pauline epistles, do not mention the empty tomb at all. Obviously, the story was invented after Paul by the gospel authors.

Published in: on September 9, 2019 at 12:38 pm  Comments (1)  

Morgan vs. Ryckaert

 
Franklin Ryckaert: Racism= harming people of another race because of their race. Race realism = realizing that races are inherently different and avoiding risky situations with people of other races.

Robert Morgan: Or in other words, racists do what ‘race realists’ would do if they had the courage.

 

______ 卐 ______

 

Editor’s note: Franklin Ryckaert exemplifies what is wrong with white nationalism and the alt-right.

Per the Old Testament and the Talmud, Jews must exterminate the Gentiles.

Per the New Testament, Gentiles are commanded, instead, to love the Other including Jews and non-whites.

White nationalists and alt-righters don’t obey the Führer. They obey the Jew who wrote the New Testament: prolefeed for us Gentiles.

It is just that simple.

Whites are condemned to become extinct unless they transvalue Ryckaert’s et al values back to pre-Christian mores. But nationalists won’t do it. They’re self-righteously addicted to their (((drug)))…

Veritas odium parit, 6

The blood of Christ, the subject of inexhaustible meditation for the believer, is visible in a detail of this Crucifixion by Fra Angelico in which a monk appears contemplating the bloodied feet of his Lord. In the detail of this painting, which is located in the Florentine Convent of St. Mark, it can also be seen how such blood flows from the cross to the truncated tree.

A guilt-tripped man at the feet of the crucified rabbi is the archetypal antithesis of the proud Aryan Berserker of other times: to whom the morbid fascination of Judeo-Christians seemed unhealthy, bizarre and even inexplicable. In ‘The Saxon Savior: Converting Northern Europe’ Ash Donaldson said:

 

______ 卐 ______

 

The Saxon savior

The author of the ninth-century Saxon gospel known as the Heliand undertook much more than a translation, as difficult as that task has proven for missionaries. In his harmonization of the four Gospels into a single narrative, he presented Christ as an Odinic wizard-chieftain, with the apostles as his war-band. Consider the episode of St. Peter cutting off the ear of the Roman soldier arresting Jesus. While it takes up only two verses in John (the other Gospels do not even mention that it was Peter), in the Heliand, Christ’s foremost “swordsman” flies into a berserker rage:

Then Simon Peter, the mighty, the noble swordsman flew into a rage; his mind was in such turmoil that he could not speak a single word. His heart became intensely bitter because they wanted to tie up his Lord there. So he strode over angrily, that very daring thane, to stand in front of his Commander, right in front of his Lord. No doubting in his mind, no fearful hesitation in his chest, he drew his blade and struck straight ahead at the first man of the enemy with all the strength in his hands, so that Malchus was cut and wounded on the right side by the sword! Blood gushed out, pouring from the wound! The cheek of the enemy’s first man had been cut open. The men stood back—they were afraid of the slash of the sword.

Similarly, the author of the Heliand knew that the episode of Joseph and the pregnant Mary searching in vain for a place to stay for the night would be incomprehensible to the Germanic peoples, whose valuation of hospitality is clear from the Hávamál. So when the parents of Jesus arrive at the “hill-fort” of their clan, they are tended to by horse-guards, not shepherds, the former being suitable representatives of the warrior class, while the infant Jesus is placed among jewels.

There is more at work here than cultural transplantation, or even such ambitious modifications as moving the Last Supper to a mead hall or having Satan don a Germanic cap of invisibility to deceive Pilate’s wife. There is little to no valorization of victimhood in the Heliand, and the Beatitudes are reworked as praises of warrior endurance.

Sin, fate, and even generosity are all revised to fit a Germanic hero such as Christ is made out to be (problems which the sympathetic Jesuit who translated it into modern English is at great pains to square with orthodoxy). The author of the Heliand even seems to imply that the twelve members of the apostolic war-band might not even be Jewish, and hail instead from a northern people.

Notably absent from the Heliand gospel, moreover, are two famous parables that would not have sat well with a Germanic audience. The events described in the story of the Prodigal Son would have been unthinkable to a society in which kinship was paramount. The absence of the Good Samaritan parable is even more suggestive, since in the original, Christ uses it to introduce a universal moral obligation to treat strangers and foreigners as one would kin. Such an idea was foreign to the free peoples of the North, and one that Aristotle rejected as well.

And here we come to the nub of the problem. The Mediterranean audience for the Gospels and missionary work of St. Paul had been subjected to a political unification across ethnic and racial lines. [emphasis by Ed.]

Long before its decline, the Roman Empire displayed ample signs of declining civic engagement and social trust, qualities Harvard Professor Robert Putnam has statistically linked to diversity. What kept everyone’s Fagin-like concern for “number one” from pulling the whole thing apart was both the iron fist of Rome and the emperors’ insistence on public worship of the state.

Political universalism was thus reinforced by religious universalism, and Christianity proved more determined and well-equipped to insist upon that universalism than any of the pagan emperors had. Thus, either individualistic hedonism, or some variety of universalism, seemed the only choices to a people who had lost all of the intermediate institutions that tribe and kin provide.

The free peoples of Northern Europe, in contrast, maintained all of the strong links Aristotle identified as natural to our condition. As a result, they rejected individualistic hedonism quite readily and had no concept of universalism or of out-group obligations.

The sagas instead teem with people who have clear obligations framed by ties of kinship and friendship. Had the author of the Heliand presented the parable of the Good Samaritan, his Saxon audience would have incredulously asked, “Where were this man’s kinfolk?” Having no notion that mere physical proximity implied extra-tribal duties—an idea originating in the ethnic melting pot of Mediterranean cities—they would have difficulties extending that concept universally, as the parable seeks to do. That would require centuries of patient indoctrination.

Through syncretism and outright omission, Christianity was presented as—and ultimately became—something less foreign and less threatening to the peoples of the North. A faith that was Semitic in origin won only by becoming partially Europeanized, as James Russell describes in The Germanization of Medieval Christianity. (The Greek language has an admirable way of expressing this phenomenon: in addition to the active and passive voices of verbs, it also has a middle voice, in which the agent is both acting and acted upon.)

Yet today, the Völkerwanderung of Third World peoples is a reminder that this syncretism has gone on throughout the world, giving us such bizarre phenomena as the wildly popular cult of Santa Muerte, reviving the worship of the Aztec queen of the underworld trussed up as a skeletal Catholic saint.

Many tradition-minded people seem to be calling for a revival of Victorian “muscular Christianity,” yet the muscles have always been provided by the pre-Christian elements in this amalgamation, which tends to downplay the very things that the Heliand left out altogether. It is as if such people are trying to work their way back to something more familiar and more intuitive without sacrificing orthodoxy. Yet beyond the trappings of old-school Europeanized Christianity lies a core message that, of necessity, consigns ethnic identity, ancestral traditions, and ultimately this life itself to irrelevance in the face of our ultimate unity with God.

Published in: on July 19, 2019 at 2:44 pm  Comments Off on Veritas odium parit, 6