R o l a n d
I thought the note was nicely delivered so that I can pick up on other shades of the information presented in From Paul to Mark: PaleoChristianity
One conversation I think is worth having, now that I've read the book, is whether the term 'Paleochristianity' is really worth adopting.
It seems that there's essentially nothing in the Bible that is either true or original. The Old Testament is entirely fabricated, and is composed entirely of ripped off bits and pieces of Zoroastrian and Hellenic history, mythology, and philosophy. In the New Testament, the gospels are entirely fake, as is the book of Acts. The only part of the NT (and, it seems, the entire Bible) that isn't just made up nonsense are Paul's letters, and even there we have to be careful due to all the interpolations. Further, Paul's letters aren't history per se, but rather spiritual and philosophical doctrine. So it seems to me that the only part of the Bible that really has any value whatsoever are Paul's letters. One could argue that Mark is of literary value, but only as an allegorical work ... I have to admit that when seen as satire, it really is piercingly funny (e.g. in making Judas the apostle who betrays Jesus). But it gives no real insight into the nature of the saviour.
I must confess to feeling a sense of outrage the more I learn about the origins of the biblical narratives. It would be one thing if they were just made up ... and that wouldn't even really annoy me so much: I don't get angry about The Lord of the Rings, and much that is true at a higher level can be communicated in stories that aren't strictly speaking true on the mundane level (so long as you remember the distinction). The source of my annoyance is more a sense of theft:
- the Old Testament is ripped off from Classical and Hellenistic history and philosophy
- the New Testament is ripped off from Caesar
In both cases, the actual history, philosophy, and spirituality of my people were appropriated by an alien tribe, who fabricated fictions shamelessly stolen from what we actually did, and then substituted those fictions for the truth, thereby in effect making themselves out to be of far greater importance in human history than they really are. The more I think about it the more indignant I become. They've convinced the entire world of their crucial historical importance, when it's all stolen valour. In actual reality, it seems like they're just grifters and con-men. They've added absolutely nothing of value and their influence has been, to the contrary, entirely detrimental.
So that goes back to the term 'Paleochristianity'. Both 'Jesus' and 'Christ' are titles, rather than names, and they serve mainly to obscure the identity of the true universal saviour - Julius Caesar. Furthermore, both of these titles are steeped in Jewish thought, in particular the apocalyptic messianism of the 1st centuries BC and AD. This wouldn't be a bad thing in and of itself if it weren't for the fact that 'Jewish thought' is practically a misnomer ... their entire religious corpus is just Classical, Hellenic, and Zoroastrian thought with the serial numbers filed off. Their only contribution has been to run a long con.
Honestly, I'm even a little annoyed with Paul: his whole thing of being solely concerned with the spirit realm, and seeing the physical life and identity of his Christ as being of no real importance, is awfully convenient considering that his project was essentially to convert the 'Christian' (i.e. Caesarian) cult to his version of messianism, which so far as I can tell comes down to appropriating Caesar as the son of the Jewish God. And even that wouldn't be so bad, if Yaweh were truly the origin of the monotheistic idea ... except it's not! The pagans were quite aware of the Logos or Prime Mover, a unitary supreme deity under whom the Olympic pantheon were mere administrators or caretakers; and the Zoroastrians likewise acknowledged a supreme being. So even this idea that Yahweh was some sort of unique discovery on the part of the Israelites is just one more example of intellectual perfidy. From that perspective, Paul's appropriation of Caesar as messiah in Jewish terms doesn't really seem to add a whole lot.
Now, I suppose an argument could be made for running with Paleochristianity because, after all, society is Christian (or post-Christian, really, though still based loosely on Christian ideology), and people need to be met where they are and spoken to in a language they understand. Even non-Christians generally take the New Testament narrative more or less at face value, and while they might not buy the miracles they go along with the vague idea that there was this nice hippy guy in sandals wandering around Palestine being nice to people for a few years, which extraordinary niceness somehow started a major world religion. But I guess the problem with the term Paleochristian is that it reinforces this myth, and in using it, one will constantly have to clarify, "well actually, we don't think anything in the Bible really happened, also the saviour of mankind was really Julius Caesar". But then why use any term referring to Christianity at all? Certainly no believing Christian would consider this stance to be anything they recognize as Christianity, and nor would a non-believer, once it's explained to them. So why not use a different term, which accurately reflects the actual beliefs, doctrine, and history, and its actual origin not in Palestine but in Graeco-Roman antiquity?
I don't have an actual suggestion for the term ('Caesarism' doesn't really get it across, plus it already has a meaning, which isn't really the meaning we'd want....) But I'd be interested to know what others think.
“Only as creators!—This has given me the greatest difficulty and goes on being my greatest difficulty: to recognize that unspeakably more depends on what things are called than on what they are. The fame, name, and appearance of a thing, what it counts as, its customary measure and weight—which in the beginning is an arbitrary error for the most part, thrown over things like a garment and alien to their essence, even to their skin—due to the continuous growth of belief in it from generation to generation, this gradually grows, as it were, onto and into the thing, and turns into its very body. The initial appearance almost always becomes the essence in the end and acts as essence! But only a fool would think it was enough to point to this beginning and to this misty mantle of illusion in order to destroy the world that counts as essential, so-called "reality"! Only as creators can we destroy! But we should also not forget this: creating new names and assessments and apparent truths is eventually enough to create new "things".”
This has taken far too long since the suggestion made by Chu and others. Still maybe better late than never - any suggestions of changes/edits let me know and I'll post the final to Amazon UK (took Caesar out but still a bit of a sting in the tail. Too much?)
This miracle of a book is by default and necessity a deeply demanding read, and not merely because of its Herculean breadth and scale. Though you may find yourself at times disarmed by the author’s in-person, home-spun style, the evidential rigour of her comparative analysis – inching forwards, backwards, sideways, wherever necessary, never once allowing anything to escape her eagle eye or be taken on face value - so demands your absolute attention page after page, that ducking out from the extent of the ask would often be easier than going forwards (in particular during the middle third where a bewildering plethora of sources are so meticulously compared and contrasted). For long periods you have to give over your complete trust that where this all takes you will be fully worth the investment of so much time and effort. You have to learn to love the strenuous archaeology just as much as she clearly does. You have to accept that some days on the dig you’ll come back to your lonely bivouac seemingly worse off than you did the day before. But in the end, you just have to persevere as Knight-Jadczyk does, go the distance as she does, keep cleaning your tools as she does, give yourself over and just go again – the very least you can do - for this epic investigation is so methodically constructed it ensures that embracing the journey itself is utterly integral to one’s safe arrival at its final destination.
We have waited too long – maybe millennium too long – for a book of this calibre that sweeps aside all the institutionalized biases, all the hidden agendas of belief, all the cobwebs deliberately laid by the censors of history, to at last give us firm, objective terra firma on which to begin the process of reclaiming our balance. I for one am still reeling inside at all the implications. This vital work is masterful heart surgery, a life saver that could one day assist in the imperative repair and restoration (dare I say Renaissance?) of our crumbling civilization. I kid you not. Whether Knight-Jadczyk finds the will or need to further pursue the implications of her conclusions, or this work inspires others to further liberate the threads she has so meticulously unstitched from the Gordian Knot she received, (with a whole sea of possibilities suggesting themselves where next to take this quest), only the author and time will decree. But base camp has been firmly set (and some!); the rest is about heeding the enormity of the challenge, and accepting no retreat - especially with regard to grasping just how every step on the way has been so deliberately submerged, twisted, disguised, that only the kind of mind and method that Knight-Jadczyk brings can possibly hope to avoid becoming lost in all the briars and traps, on purpose laid to make the taker mad.
To say this is a must read is the giant of all understatements. Yes it’s highly academic, (no amateur here – a master-mistress historian at work), but beyond the strictures of all that rigor lies the joy of ultimate objective – delivery from imprisonment of the light of truth, brought up to the dawn of a new day when it seemed darkness and ignorance was all we had left. Above all else, this delivers a road map to a gospel of true hope. And by God, don’t we need that!
If there is one pocket take away from the author’s liberating of Paul’s message from Christianized history, it is that we are all meant to be Jesus Christ - that we are all meant to become a ‘son of god’. That this testing ground called life on earth is merely that – the place where, whatever our place or part may be, we are still granted the opportunity to remember who we really are, not waste our years away observing from afar and doing nothing. Paul still calls upon the power of spirit within each of us to overcome the sugared lure of the material realm even unto death. And yes, to recognize just how many tricks the ‘devil’ has up his sleeve so as to ensure we never ever achieve anything close. And one of his best was - and still is - the meak and mild programme peddled under the false name of Jesus of Nazareth.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
~ Ephesians 6:12
Paul via Knight-Jadczyk gives us the cross as a power sign. The cross as our rightful inheritance. The cross as liberty. Intrigued enough now? Then buy this book. It may help to save your soul.