Unhistorical Jesus, 4

Editor’s note: Here I continue with some passages from Richard Carrier’s book On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, especially a follow-up of what Carrier says in my first instalment of the series.

It really looks like the authors of the Gospels, presumably Semites, thoroughly plagiarised the foundational myth of Rome in order to sell us another myth (compare this with what my sticky post’s hatnote links about toxic foundation myths). This new myth did not only involve replacing an Aryan hero (Romulus) for a Jewish hero (Jesus). It did something infinitely more subversive. As Carrier wrote, which I highlighted in bold in my first instalment of the series:

Romulus’ material kingdom favoring the mighty is transformed into a spiritual one favoring the humble. It certainly looks like the Christian passion narrative is an intentional transvaluation of the Roman Empire’s ceremony of their own founding savior’s incarnation, death and resurrection [reddish colour added].

On pages 225-229 of On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt we read (scholarly footnotes omitted):
 

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Element 47: Another model hero narrative, which pagans also revered and to which the Gospel Jesus also conforms, is the apotheosis, or ‘ascension to godhood’ tale, and of these the one to which the Gospels (and Acts) most conform is that of the Roman national hero Romulus. I discussed this already in Chapter 4 (§1), and the points made there should be considered a component of the element here.

The more general point is that this narrative concept of a ‘translation to heaven’ for a hero (often but not always a divine son of god) was very commonplace, and always centered around a peculiar fable about the disappearance of their body. All these fables were different from one another, and therefore those differences are irrelevant to the point: all still shared the same core features (see my discussion of how syncretism works in Element 11). And when it comes to the Romulus fable in particular, the evidence is unmistakable that Christianity conformed itself to it relatively quickly—even if all these attributes were accumulated over time and not all at once.

Romulus, of course, did not exist. He was invented, along with legends about him (largely put together from previous Greek and Etruscan mythology), much later in Roman history than he is supposed to have lived. His name was eponymous (essentially an early form of the word ‘Roman’), and his story was meant to exemplify ideal Roman aspirations and values, using a model similar to Greek tragedy, in which the hero sins in various ways but comes to self-understanding and achieves peace by the time of his death. He otherwise exhibits in his deeds the ‘exemplary qualities’ of Rome as a social entity, held up as a model for Roman leaders to emulate, such as ending ‘the cycle of violence’ initiated by his sin and pride by religiously expiating the sin of past national crimes in order to bring about a lasting peace. His successor, Numa, then exemplified the role of the ideal, sinless king, a religious man and performer of miracles whose tomb was found empty after his death, demonstrating that he, too, like his predecessor Romulus, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.

The idea of the ‘translation to heaven’ of the body of a divine king was therefore adaptable and flexible, every myth being in various ways different but in certain core respects the same. But the Gospels conform to the Romulus model most specifically. There are twenty parallels, although not every story contained every one. In some cases that may simply be the result of selection or abbreviation in the sources we have (and therefore the silence of one source does not entail the element did not then exist or was not known to that author); and in some cases elements might have been deliberately removed (or even reversed) by an author who wanted to promote a different message (see discussion in Chapter 10, §2, of how myth­making operated in antiquity). For example, the ‘radiant resurrection body’ (probably the earlier version of Christian appearance narratives) was later transformed into a ‘hidden-god narrative’ (another common trope both in paganism and Judaism) as suited any given author.

But when taken altogether the Romulus and Jesus death-and-resurrection narratives contain all of the following parallels:

1. The hero is the son of God.
2. His death is accompanied by prodigies.
3. The land is covered in darkness.
4. The hero’s corpse goes missing.
5. The hero receives a new immortal body, superior to the one he had.
6. His resurrection body has on occasion a bright and shining appearance.
7. After his resurrection he meets with a follower on a road from the city.
8. A speech is given from a summit or high place prior to ascending.
9. An inspired message of resurrection or ‘translation to heaven’ is delivered to a witness.
10. There is a ‘great commission’ (an instruction to future followers).
11. The hero physically ascends to heaven in his new divine body.
12. He is taken up into a cloud.
13. There is an explicit role given to eyewitness testimony (even naming the witnesses).
14. Witnesses are frightened by his appearance and/or disappearance.
15. Some witnesses flee.
16. Claims are made of ‘dubious alternative accounts’ (which claims were obviously fabricated for Romulus, there never having been a true account to begin with).
17. All of this occurs outside of a nearby (but central) city.
18. His followers are initially in sorrow over the hero’s death.
19. But his post-resurrection story leads to eventual belief, homage and rejoicing.
20. The hero is deified and cult subsequently paid to him (in the same manner as a god).

Romulus, of course, was also unjustly killed by the authorities (and came from a humble background, beginning his career as an orphan and a shepherd, a nobody from the hill country), and thus also overlaps the Aesop/­Socratic type (see Element 46), and it’s easy to see that by combining the two, we end up with pretty much the Christian Gospel in outline (especially when we appropriately Judaize the result: Elements 3-7, 17-20, and 39-43). Some of the parallels could be coincidental (e.g. resurrected bodies being associated with radiance was itself a common trope, both within Judaism and paganism), but for all of them to be coincidental is extremely improbable. The Christian conception of Jesus’ death and resurrection appears to have been significantly influenced by the Roman conception of Romulus’s death and resurrection.

Even if we discounted that for any reason, the Romulus parallels definitely establish that all these components were already part of a recognized hero-type, and are therefore not surprising or unusual or unexpected. The story of Jesus would have looked familiar, not only in the same way all translation stories looked familiar even when different in many and profound ways, but also in the very specific way that among all such tales it looked the most like the story of Romulus, which was publicly acted out in passion plays every year. And this was the national founding hero of the Roman Empire. What better god’s tale to emulate or co-opt?

Unhistorical Jesus, 3

Editor’s note: Today I changed the subtitle of this site from ‘Two lies are murdering the white race’ to ‘The Jewish Question and Christianity are one and the same’. In the excerpts reproduced below from chapter 5 of Richard Carrier’s magnum opus, he wrote:

Thus it should not surprise us that Christianity converted all the military imagery of popular messianism into spiritual metaphor, to represent what we would now call a culture war.

Emphasis appears in the original. In the next page he added:

That the Christians and the Zealots both may have come from the same sectarian background, and pursued collectively the only two possible solutions to the problem facing the Jews at the time, reveals Christianity to be more akin to something inevitable than something surprising.

Definitively, Carrier’s On The Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reasons for Doubt contains key passages that substantiate the content of the masthead of this site, the Rome vs. Judea essay, linked in the sticky post above.

These are the first paragraphs of the chapter “Background Knowledge (Context)”:

 

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The previous chapter surveyed the background knowledge directly relating to the Christian religion (origins, beliefs and development) that we must take into account when evaluating any hypothesis regarding the historical existence of Jesus. This chapter will survey the most important background knowledge regarding the context in which Christianity began (political, religious and literary), as well as its most pertinent scientific and historical analogs.

Elements of Political Context

The origin of Christianity makes sense only within the peculiar political context that produced it, and in light of analogous movements throughout history.

Element 23: The Romans annexed Judea to the imperial province of Syria in 6 CE, bringing the center of the Holy Land under direct control of the Roman government, ending Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem and the temple of the Most High God, along with most of the Holy Land that had been promised by God to the Jews.

In fact, God had promised that the Jews would not only rule their own land, city and temple, but subjugate all peoples and rule the whole world as the chosen people of God (Zech. 14.9-18; Psalm 2), which was also a common feature of messianic belief (Elements 3 and 4), one timetable for which predicted this outcome was imminent (Element 7). The Roman annexation contradicted all of this, which would have inevitably produced cognitive dissonance between what Jews expected (the fulfillment of God’s promise) and what happened (the Jews lost their sovereignty and became a subject people). The result was a permanent state of violent tension between the Roman occupation and Jewish rebellion that concluded in three devastating wars (against Nero in 66-70 CE, against Trajan in 115-117 and against Hadrian in 132-136) and countless smaller rebellions (beginning with Judas the Galilean in 6 CE), all of which the Jews consistently lost.

Element 24: (a) Owing to their vastly greater resources (in materials, money and manpower) and superior technical ability (in the training, equipping and supplying of their armies) the Romans were effectively invincible and could never be expelled from Judea by force or diplomacy. (b) This fact was so empirically evident and publicly tested and demonstrated on such a wide scale that it had to have been evident to at least some Jews, even while many either didn’t see it, denied it even when seen, or imagined celestial aid would redress the imbalance.

In other words, the traditional messianic hope (of a conclusive military victory over all of Israel’s neighbors) was a doomed hope, and that would have been obvious to at least some Jews. History would of course decisively prove this, as messianic movements were either wiped out quickly (Element 4) or led to the utter defeat and destruction of Jerusalem and the entire Jewish polity (already in the Neronian War of the 60s; even more so in the subsequent wars under Trajan and Hadrian: Element 23). This had happened before, most infamously to both Carthage and Corinth in the same year (146 BCE), which any educated observer would know about. In fact, up to the time Christianity began, Roman victory was always the outcome, without exception, for every nation that ever stood against any concerted Roman conquest and occupation.

For example, even the infamous defeat of Varus by the Germans in 9 CE was decisively redressed by Germanicus only a few years later, illustrating the futility even of a victory against the Romans. This was a phenomenon so consistently repeated that it had already become a popular joke by the time of Christ, which is called even still a ‘Pyrrhic victory ‘, from the legend, widely circulated in antiquity, that in the third century BCE the Greek upstart Pyrrhus had won his victories against the Romans at such cost that he declared ‘one more victory and I’m done for’ (or words to that effect), which prophecy was fulfilled in short order. After centuries of history repeating itself like this without fail, only a fool would bank on a future rebellion against the Romans having any other outcome. And though fools were always to be found, not all men are fools.

It would therefore be extremely improbable if no early-first-century Jews could foresee this (even if most, evidently, did not). Predicting this outcome would have been all the easier for anyone aware of recent analogous events, from the fates of Carthage and Corinth to the early Jewish rebellions described by Josephus, which were so quickly and easily suppressed that the reality must have become apparent to some. It would have been a simple matter to put two and two together: Roman military might plus Jewish military messianism equals the inevitable destruction of the Jews.

Element 25: The corruption and moral decay of the Jewish civil and temple elite (regardless of to what extent it was actual or merely perceived) was a widespread target of condemnation and often a cause of factionalizing among Jewish sects. This is evident throughout the narrative of Josephus regarding the causes and outcomes of the Jewish War, as well as in the literature recovered at Qumran (e.g. 4Q500), and in much of the apocryphal, apocalyptic and pseudepigraphical literature produced or popularized by first-century Jews. It is also a persistent theme in the Christian Gospels, which in that context do not seem aberrant in this respect but in fact typical.

Element 26: For many Jews in the early first century (in accord with the previous element) the Jewish elite became the scapegoats for God’s failed promises (in accord with Elements 23 and 24): the reason God withheld their fulfillment (and instead allowed the Romans to rule) was imagined to be the Jewish elite’s failure to keep God’s commandments and govern justly. God would come through only when all sin had ended and been atoned for (Dan. 9.5-24). The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, repeatedly denounce the Jewish civil and temple elite as responsible for the evil that has befallen the land, in terms similar to those found in the Christian Gospels. […]

Element 27: (a) The temple at Jerusalem was the central focus of most Jewish messianic hopes (as, for the Samaritans, was Mount Gerizim), which entailed that as long as the ‘corrupt’ Jewish elite control led it, God would continue Israel’s ‘punishment’ (in accord with Elements 25 and 26); and as long as the Romans remained in power, they would maintain the corrupt Jewish elite’s control of the temple. Accordingly, (b) Jewish religious violence often aimed at seizing physical control of the temple and its personnel.

Element 28. […] But if any Jews had realized that such a reconquest was impossible (as some must, in accord with Element 24) but still sought a means to escape their cognitive dissonance (in accord with Element 23) without denying the evident facts or abandoning deep-seated religious beliefs, then for them only one solution remained: to deny the physical importance of the temple at Jerusalem itself. […]

Therefore, if any religious innovator had proposed that God had arranged a supreme sacrifice capable of cleansing all sins once and for all (such as, e.g., through the ritual atoning sacrifice of his firstborn son: Element 10), and further arranged that God’s spirit would, as a result, dwell forever within each individual who pledged himself to him (and thus no longer dwell, or dwell only, with in the temple at Jerusalem: Element 18), then his message would resonate among many Jews as an ingenious and attractive solution to the problem of Jewish elite corruption and Roman invincibility (Elements 23-26), by eliminating the relevance of the temple to messianic hopes, and thus eliminating the basis for any doomed military conflict with Rome […].

The basic Christian gospel—imagining that the death of a messiah had conclusively atoned for all sins, and that by joining with him God would dwell in us (instead of the temple)—would thus be recognized by many Jews as an ingenious and attractive idea. […]

The only sacred space this doctrine required one to physically control was one’s own body, a notion already popularized by philosophical sects such as the Stoics, who taught that nothing external can conquer a man who in his wisdom remains internally free. Not death, nor imprisonment, nor torture represented any victory over him. This was therefore a battle one could always win, even against the ‘invincible’ Romans. One merely had to believe it, to feel it was true, that God now lived in you. No other evidence was required. Thus it should not surprise us that Christianity converted all the military imagery of popular messianism into spiritual metaphor, to represent what we would now call a culture war. […]

The relevance of this observation is that the earliest Christian gospel makes far more sense as a product of its political context than it does when completely divorced from that context, and in consequence, theories of historicity [of Jesus] that ignore that fact are unlikely to have any objective merit. The centrality of the temple was a continual problem for the Jews. A physical location requiring political control entailed military domination. So long as the Romans had the latter, the Jews would never have the former. The Zealots took the logical option of attempting to remove the Romans and restore Jewish control. But the Christians took the only other available option: removing the temple from their entire soteriological (or ‘salvation’) scheme.

Christians could then just await God’s wrath to come from heaven (in accord with Element 10), while in the meantime, God’s promise could be delivered unto the kingdom they had spiritually created (Rom. 14.17-18; I Cor. 4.19-20), first in an anticipatory way (in the moral and ‘supernatural’ success of the Christian community), and then in the most final way (in the apocalypse itself: e.g. I Cor. 15.24, 50; 6.9-10; Gal. 5.19-25; 1 Thess. 4.10- 5.15). That the Christians and the Zealots both may have come from the same sectarian background, and pursued collectively the only two possible solutions to the problem facing the Jews at the time, reveals Christianity to be more akin to something inevitable than something surprising.

Unhistorical Jesus, 2

An icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist

 
How we know Mark was the earliest Gospel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unhistorical Jesus, 1

Romulus appearing to Proculus Julius.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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