Sunday, December 18, 2016

Why I Am Not a Mythicist, Part II: The Martyred Magician

Jesus and his magic wand, raising Lazarus

For a guy who an increasing number of people believe never existed, Jesus sure has inspired a K2-sized mountain of books claiming to "solve the Jesus mystery." And all that stands atop a couple of thousand years of orthodox theology and Christological exegesis. 

You can really get yourself very quickly lost in the parade of PhDs who will publish endless editions on the most trivial details of Jesus' life, ministry and influence before you even get to the various volumes explaining that he was actually a Buddhist or a Pharaoh or an Essene or a proto-Muslim or a proto-Marxist or a proto-Scientologist or a space alien or a light being or…ugh

No wonder there are so many atheists nowadays.

Me, I'm not a Doctor of Theology nor a Urantian mystic. I'm just a guy who…notices things. And when it comes to getting to the truth of the New Testament, I follow Occam's Razor.
 "We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible."
Wait, that's not Occam, that's a quote from Ptolemy (not that Ptolemy). What Occam really said was:
“Nothing ought to be posited without a reason given, unless it is self-evident or known by experience or proved by the authority of Scripture.”
That's Occam.

Now, how I approach this is rather radical. Instead of getting out my magic goggles or my secret decoder ring or my tables of correspondence,  I simply read the text itself  and try to arrive at a working theory that requires the fewest number of moving parts. I find the story is interesting, and indeed, weird enough without coloring outside the lines.

You see the problem is with the "Jesus mystery" crowd -- and indeed, the Mythicists themselves-- is that hardly any of them know anything about magic and subsequently fail to look at the Gospels through a magical lens. All those mysteries are essentially solved once you accept that this story is in fact part of a very ancient tradition that brings us back to the earliest known civilizations in the Middle East.

But a few points to clarify first. 

One of the biggest guns in the Mythicists' arsenal is the fact that we have no contemporaneous documentation for Jesus' existence. But there would be two primary sources for that information, right? Jewish or Roman scribes.

But we have to ask ourselves, why would they notice Jesus at all? Because if we take the Gospels as a rough roadmap for the Jesus story, this omission from history isn't surprising at all.

A holistic reading of the Gospels leaves us with the strong impression that Jesus led a fairly small band of disciples, nearly all of whom abandoned him at his arrest. Luke names 70 disciples in one passage, but Mark- the earliest Gospel- does not, so we can probably assume there's probably some confusion here over humous and posthumous followers.

Only a small handful of his entourage- his mother and her friends, it seems- was said to attend the crucifixion and burial.

The brute fact is that Romans weren't champing at the bit to document every trouble-making Jew who popped up and proclaimed himself Messiah. Especially one whose followers hightailed it as soon as trouble arrived. It's simply not the way things worked back then. I doubt the Jewish authorities were worried overmuch, either.

And it's really not odd that we don't have Jewish sources considering that the entire country was, y'know, leveled to the frickin' ground some 40 years after Jesus' reported death. 

It's not like you had an internet to back up your files on to. If you lost a text written by some Temple inquisitor chronicling Jesus's arrest and execution to a fire set by marauding Romans, too bad, you lost it forever. That's why most of the information we have from Judea at the time is from Roman sources. And that includes Josephus.


Now as far as the argument that "every detail of the Gospels" can be traced to a precedent in the Hebrew Bible, there are three arguments I can offer in response. 

First of all, the Hebrew Bible is actually rather huge and documents the story of an entire people over a span of centuries (how many centuries exactly is a matter of debate). There wasn't an enormous variety of human experience (no one was jetting off to Maui or bungie jumping from skyscrapers, for instance) to draw on at the time so it's inevitable that something Jesus did would have been done by someone before and recorded in the Bible.

Hell, there are probably precedents for crap you or I do in the Hebrew Bible too.

Second, you're dealing with a culture that lived and breathed its religion. There was no separation between "church and state" because the two were entirely contiguous in their eyes. A lot of what went down was almost certainly an intentional attempt to retrace the steps of the ancient prophets that Jesus wanted to emulate. This is the same impulse that had ancient conquerors trying to recreate the lives of Sargon or Alexander by following in their literal footsteps.

Third, a lot of the examples cited as New Testament plagiarisms cited by atheists are just plain weak. Robert M. Price published a list of so-called parallels-- and I hope he'll forgive me for saying so-- but some of them are just eye-rollingly weak.

I mean, they're stretched like taffy. Like this:
Jesus Consorts with Sinners:
T1: Matthew 9:12 - Hosea 6:6:
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."
OK, you could conceivably stretch that passage to its breaking point and cite it as precedent for Jesus' consorting with sinners and tax collectors, but only if you're feeling extremely generous. Moreover Hosea is pretty harsh on sinners in the verses Price doesn't cite in the very same chapter (including prostitutes), so the parallel just crumbles to dust in your hands.

Escape to Egypt:
T1: Matthew 2:15 - Hosea 11:1:
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son."
This passage says nothing about an escape to Egypt but is about the alleged Egyptian captitvity. The next verse- which Price fails to cite- makes that perfectly clear:
But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
And worse, Price often fails to include the actual passages in his list, most often because they're not really parallels. Like this:
Jesus and Beelzebub: T2: Matthew 12:24 - 2 Kings 1:1-4
 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
OK, but what about Kings? Well, the two verses have absolutely nothing to with one another, except to both mention Beelzebub:
After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel. Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”  But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” So Elijah went.
Again, none of this is to say there are not parallels between the Old and New Testaments. In fact, the Gospel writers often strain to make them in order to establish Jesus as the true king of Israel and fulfillment of the Prophets and so on and so forth. 


Now let's take Occam's Razor to its strop and see if we can't carve our way out of some longstanding logjams when it comes to Jesus' existence and ministry (or magical work, if you prefer).

You see, recently I've noticed (there I go again) that there was a tradition of Jewish magicians, trained in ancient Babylonian magic, whose stock in trade was exorcism and spellcraft against demons (Babylon had a major demon infestation issue).

And I can't help but notice that Jesus' show-stopping routine was usually exorcism.

And again, wielding my Occam like a surgeon, I dispense with some of the more speculative theories and look to what is actually said in the Bible. Winding back to that Matthew passage:
 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 
Beelzebul is believed to mean "Lord of the High Places", or "Lord of Things that Fly." He is said to be identified with Ba'al who is in turn identified with the Babylonian Bel, aka Marduk, in whose name exorcisms were performed.

This in turn was an art Jewish mages learned during the Babylon Captivity and brought back home. 

Now I can practically hear your thoughts here- this guy is no different than the rest.

Just leaping to one conclusion after another to hammer the evidence into his own favorite little cubby. But let me add this. According to Jewish Mysticism and Magic: An Anthropological Perspective, a common practice among Babylonian magicians was to write incantation texts on earthenware bowls. 

Why is this significant? Read this:
A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that is engraved with what they believe could be the world’s first known reference to Christ. 
If the word “Christ” refers to the Biblical Jesus Christ, as is speculated, then the discovery may provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world. 
The bowl, which is dated to the period between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., reads: 
“DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS,” which has been interpreted by the excavation team to mean either, “by Christ the magician” or, “the magician by Christ.” 
Team leader Frank Goddio of the Oxford Center for Maritime Archaeology, said that “It could very well be a reference to Jesus Christ, in that he was once the primary exponent of white magic.”
A to B to C. No channeling or Reticulans necessary.


Now what is especially unusual about the Gospel accounts is that Jesus is almost universally scorned by Jewish authorities, who hardly even offer a grudging admiration of the man or his work.

Not only is he attacked as a sorcerer (which you'll find was the majority opinion on him among Jewish and Roman commenters in the years after his death), he's called a glutton, a lunatic and a drunkard and is attacked for the company he keeps (sinners, probably meaning sexual sinners of various types, and tax collectors). Ouch.

Remember, this is the supposed Son of God they're writing about here.

I've seen various explanations for these embarrassing details but they feel a bit too raw for me. They feel as if Jesus was the target of unflattering gossip in his time, gossip that long survived him and was bad enough that the Gospel writers were forced to address it.

I'm sure entire volumes have been written about all of this by scholars with credentials running up and down their legs but I'm just calling it like I see it.

But there's one noted Bible scholar who believed Jesus was, first and foremost, a magician.

Morton Smith was a professor at Columbia and the author of the controversial Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark (which we'll get to) and the equally-controversial Jesus the Magician. The book raised a firestorm of controversy but what Smith did was actually very simple- he read the Gospels and the various commentaries on Jesus and Christianity from antiquity and compared them with what we know about ancient magic. And he found the evidence to be frankly compelling.

From a New York Times review:
 (I)t was his reputation as a magician that caused him to be thought of as a god, the Jews went out of their way to emphasize Jesus’ humanity, calling him illegitimate, ignorant, ugly, dishonest, and blasphemous. Smith constructs a picture of Jesus as the opposition saw him: the bastard son of a soldier called Panthera, he was reared as a carpenter, but went to Egypt and learned magic, returning to Galilee tattooed with magic spells... 
Having made himself famous, he claimed to be Messiah and/or the son of a god. He taught his disciples to reject Jewish Law and to practice magic, binding them to him with rituals of cannibalism (the Eucharist) and sexual promiscuity. The scribes opposed all this wickedness and began a campaign which ended with his trial for magic and sedition. After the crucifixion, his followers stole the body from the grave and continued to practice his magic and his obscene rites. 
He argues that Matthew, in sending the infant Jesus on an unnecessary trip to Egypt, was apologetically toning down the truth, which is that he went there much later to learn magic.
And you say that like it's a bad thing. Preeminent Bible scholar Bart Ehrman had this to say about Smith's book:
Magic in the ancient world was not what it is today. For most of us, magic involves ruses, tricks, and sleights of hand: the modern magician is an illusionist skilled in the art of deception. In antiquity, magic was real. 
It accomplished what it claimed to do — not through deception but through the power to make things happen. Spectacular things. Seemingly impossible things. Things that violated the normal course of nature. The ancient magician was a miracle worker.
But one thing I might quibble with is the interpretation of the alleged "flight into Egypt."

What if in fact this story were concocted to account for the fact that Jesus was an Egyptian Jew or even a Jewish Egyptian (ie., a convert)?
There was a large and prosperous Jewish community in Alexandria-- the super-metropolis of its time and probably more recognizably modern than we would like to admit-- and Jesus may well have come from that community and made Aliyah, as it were, in order to fulfill his religious destiny.

It works like this: followers of Jesus are going hither and yon spreading his message to Jew and Gentile alike. But memories are long enough that some people remember him as an Egyptian, an ethnic group that has a thorny reputation with Jews and Syrians and so on. People hear of Jesus and say, "you mean that Egyptian who was crucified way back when?" 


So the authors of Matthew take a bit of poetic license and have Jesus born in Bethlehem but escape to Egypt to pacify the xenophobes. I mean, their very souls are at stake, no?

In that light, I'm not quite sure his name was ever actually "Yeshua" or variants thereof.  His name could actually have been 'Jesus', a product of the vigorous Hellenization of the Jewish community in Egypt. There's actually no record- at all, in fact- of it being anything other than the Greek.

All of the New Testament texts were written in Greek, a detail of history I always found a bit curious. 

But people today don't realize how porous the borders between religions were in Alexandria, something Hadrian commented on when discussing the matter to a friend named Servianus. In fact, his letter might tell us a lot about many of the issues we're dealing with here; Egypt, magic, identity:
The land of Egypt, the praises of which you have been recounting to me, my dear Servianus, I have found to be wholly light-minded, unstable, and blown about by every breath of rumour. There those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis.

There is no chief of the Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no Christian presbyter, who is not an astrologer, a soothsayer, or an anointer.

Even the Patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is forced by some to worship Serapis, by others to worship Christ. They are a folk most seditious, most deceitful, most given to injury; but their city is prosperous, rich, and fruitful, and in it no one is idle.
Some have claimed the letter is spurious but the fact is that it doesn't tell us much we don't actually know from other sources. And gives you a good idea why Jesus might wanted to have hidden his true nationality, if in fact that was the case.


So did Jesus really come back to Israel as a child as some of the Gospels claim, or did he in fact go there in order to join a major religious movement, one that the Bible acknowledges he submitted himself to? 

Did he go to Israel to follow a leader so important that Jews would later claim the sack of Jerusalem was God's judgment and wrath for this man's assassination?

What has to be noted as we ponder this question is that Mark-- generally acknowledged as the first Gospel to be written and the gospel that places the greatest emphasis on his magical work--- begins with the words of John the Baptist and immediately proceeds to tell of Jesus' Baptism by John, skipping Jesus' birth narrative and childhood stories completely.

Oh, Occam…



  1. Are you familiar with the "Temple Theology" of Margaret Barker? She argues that the theology of Christianity was too thought out and developed to have sprung up out of nowhere, and so she traces it back to the priests of the first Temple, and argues that Jesus was tapping into an existing movement. Margaret Barker is fairly approachable; I'll send her a link to your series, maybe there are some congruences.

    1. Please do because I don't really agree with that theory. Like I said, I favor the simplest theories with the fewest possible leaps when it comes to solving these mysteries and the literature is quite clear that Jewish authorities considered Jesus to be a heretic and a sorcerer.

    2. I don't see a conflict between her work and yours.

  2. This is not merely interesting, but fun as well. It's fun and exhilarating to see the cat amongst the pigeons. And again I ask "Well, why not?" Many readers following your posts will at least concede the possibility of the reality of Magic, so the possibility of a real Magical miracle worker named Jesus can't be that big a stretch for us. I seem to recall reading, long ago, I can't recall in what source, that the Priests in Jerusalem attributed Jesus' powers to sorcery, but they did not discount the effectiveness of those powers.

    Well, why not? This is thought-provoking stuff, and no less for being entertaining as well.

    1. Some of the miracles are clearly mythic and part of the Mediterranean canon of godmen miracles required for apotheosis. But others aren't outside the realm of extreme possibility, right? The interesting thing here is to determine the milieu from which they sprang and I believe the lineage is quite clear and direct.

  3. //*Now, how I approach this is rather radical. Instead of getting out my magic goggles or my secret decoder ring or my tables of correspondence, I simply read the text itself*//

    Radical or not, you're the standard bearer Chris. This is a division of true amateurs armed with common sense and a willingness to engage whilst wearing trifocals, infra-red and other curiously strong, possibly hazardous lens combinations.

    1. Well, there are probably tens of thousands of scholars far more qualified than me to comment on all this. But at the same time education is never free of indoctrination. I try to avoid the partisanship involved and look at the preponderance of evidence.

  4. Great stuff. That was the conclusion I eventually drew as well - that Jesus was a badass wizard who was later pedestalized in order to take magic out of the hands of the peasants and secure it as a pursuit for the Archons only. You wouldn't want to go to Hell by toying with potentially demonic powers, would you? Meanwhile, we've all gotten a pretty disturbing picture of some very old, very diabolical blood magic that for all we know has been carried on in an unbroken tradition since Carthage. Things are certainly changing now however. Magic is breaking through into the public consciousness, thanks to the sufficiently advanced technology of the Internet.

    Over on /pol/ there's light-hearted but sincere talk of how we're going to fill out the rest of our pantheon. Wouldn't want Kek to shoulder all the burden himself, and I think there's a tacit understanding that monotheism is a stagnant pool, breeding monomania. A lot of things have been suggested - Ammit, who through various strange circumstances became the patron goddess of our cousin board /monster/; Heh, another one of the Ogdoad and also, well, Heh; and Moonman qua Khonsu - but nothing has really stuck as of yet. As expected, winning the election has only stoked the fire, and our arcanists are growing bolder by the day.

    1. Oh, I have a badass deity for your pantheon, all right. One who actually couldn't possibly be more badass. My only question now is how much Jesus knew about him. I know for a fact that other Jewish exorcist/heretic/rebels knew all about him, some even adopted his name and called themselves his son. And he goes back, back before the world ever heard of Israel or monotheism or any of it...

    2. If the Exodus account is playing into this, the next deity is probably Baalzebub, Lord of the Flies (ancient Hebrew humor for "piece of dung") Or maybe a scarab (dung beetle)

  5. Well, you can't have the story of Jesus without John the Baptist.

    I never twigged until recently that Jesus never claimed that He fulfilled the whole of the Old Testament... in fact, He's pretty clear about pointing out that the end of the Book of Daniel has yet to happen.

    There's also a subtle distinction between the ideas of 'Jesus' and 'Christ' which is worth bearing in mind here.

    1. I'm reasonably certain that Jesus was a Greek-speaking Jew from Alexandria who came to Judea to follow John, who was the rock star prophet of his time. I'm convinced there was a John corpus, probably a codex, that was quoted in Luke and was lost in the Judean Wars. I think Jesus was a fairly minor figure in his time because he was seen as too mystical in a revolutionary era but rose in stature after the fall of Jerusalem. I think a lot of the sayings in the Gospels- and I include Thomas- are probably based in tracts that his followers passed around and were compiled by the author of Q.

    2. I think pretty much everyone agrees that Jesus was fully human.

      A good question to ask is something like, 'what exactly is happening in Communion?'

      The Gospels we have take the line that the pupil surpasses the master. The OT says something like 'John is the return of Elijah, but he only prepares the way.' But the NT tells that those around Jesus were fairly confused as to who He might be. Check out the Transfiguration, and the apostle who sees three figures and declares helpfully (something like) 'Master, let us set up three tents!'

      Q... and of course Thomas. Why do most published translations shy away from the literal rendering of saying 42: 'Become yourselves, as you pass away'?

  6. Interesting idea that Jesus was originally of Egyptian birth. Raises more questions than answers but perhaps that info, in light of the mention of Mark's emphasis on John the Baptist points to some information perhaps excised from the New Testament, esp. in light of the beliefs of the Mandaeans, who placed a lot of emphasis on John the Baptist as well:

    "Mandaeans recognize several prophets. Yahya ibn Zakariyya, known by Christians as John the Baptist, is accorded a special status, higher than his role in Christianity and Islam. Mandaeans do not consider John to be the founder of their religion but revere him as one of their greatest teachers, tracing their beliefs back to Adam.

    Mandaeans maintain that Jesus was a mšiha kdaba "false messiah"[26] who perverted the teachings entrusted to him by John. The Mandaic word k(a)daba, however, might be interpreted as being derived from either of two roots: the first root, meaning "to lie," is the one traditionally ascribed to Jesus; the second, meaning "to write", might provide a second meaning, that of "book;" hence some Mandaeans, motivated perhaps by an ecumenical spirit, maintain that Jesus was not a "lying Messiah" but a "book Messiah", the "book" in question presumably being the Christian Gospels. This seems to be a folk etymology without support in the Mandaean texts.[27]"

    I'm guessing that since syncretism was the order of the day, the older established theologies of the region felt threatened to say the least. Not so much of who Jesus was but what he represented.

    1. Yeah, the Mandaeans' origin is controversial but I believe they are at least an outgrowth of a Johannite cult that fled Judea in the First Century and settled in Mesopotamia. They're a fascinating group and speak to an ancient tradition that saw Jesus as a pretender to John's throne.

  7. Ralph Ellis has gone beyond 'Jesus Last of the Pharoah' in 'Jesus, King of Edessa'. I find his theory quite engrossing and would be interested to hear more of your thoughts.

    1. I'm not really a fan of Ellis' work. Again, way too many steps away from the documented record.

  8. This is fascinating stuff. Not least of which because when I was a young religious studies student in the late 80's, I stumbled upon the book Jesus The Magician in the college library while doing research for a paper. I was very interested in "unorthodox" views of Christianity and the Bible so I read the thing and found the whole concept totally plausible. Now, all these years later, you bring it up in one of your posts. That book was in the back of my mind while reading part 1 of your series. Now I know why. I had been leaning more and more over the years towards the "Jesus never existed" viewpoint, but after reading some Ehrman and a couple other well respected scholars on the subject (who aren't Christians), I've become somewhat agnostic on the subject......I just don't know. Of course, this is pushing me back more in the direction of, he did exist but wasn't what Christians think he was.

    1. I can understand the Mythicist position but agree with the Apologists when they counter that we accept the reality of other figures with infinitely less evidence. Accepting Jesus existed doesn't mean accepting his divinity, which I think is where a lot of people get hung up on.

  9. Accepting the possibility that Jesus was a very real magician opens the door to another one that he and Simon Magus were actually the same person. I'm currently reading a book "The Samaritan Jesus" by John Munter that makes this very interesting claim.

    1. Again, too many steps. And why? Simon Magus is a fascinating, underappreciated figure on his own and deserves to be taken on his own merits. The world should be big enough for both.

  10. I really appreciate what you have wrapped up and slipped under the tree there, Chris. Thank you. It seems we have to come to terms with the fact that antiquity was really not that antiquated, and that b'Jeebus was most probably a real person promulgating the Zeitgeist of the first millennium.

    Ah, well, someone had to do the dirty job of putting their name to the cause.

    Also, a hat tip to Dammerung. Maybe start a gospel choir: Salt 'n' Pepe.

    1. I think the First Millennium was more like our own than anyone would want to admit. I think it's only now we have the external models at hand to truly understand it.

  11. Jesus is just alright by me, 87

  12. I came across a book a while back called 'Between Contempt and Veneration...Mary Magdalene: The Image of a Woman Through the Centuries', and it was the first historical dissection I ever read that continuously sought to remind the reader that what we have today from those times, and indeed what those times themselves had, was propaganda just like today. Just like today many different thought paths existed and some had better marketing than others. I totally believe Jesus was a real person. I disbelieve a large portion of the chronology of his life as we have it today, but I rest well at night convinced that he must have been a successful enough cult leader or a useful enough poster boy that he remained in vogue long after his death.

  13. Did you mean this?

    1. Both jams have Jesus as friend. What fun going back into the cool jams of day's past. Killer lead guitars. 87

  14. My understanding is that the later "controversies" over the physical existence of Christ was secondary to the concept of divinity that existed in most societies prior to this era. These societies were heavily invested in the ontologies around describing deities almost always derived from nature, including human nature in a 'super' natural way as a form of divinity made manifest in
    creation type of way. The 'gods' therefore were not 'flesh' but archetypes of the divine in the flesh and hence symbolic of the divinity manifest in creation and in the form of humans as the ultimate pinnacle of that creation. Or as seen again in an ontological kind of way, the 'word' (idea form/archype/logos) made manifest through the power of the demiurge that
    impregnates the infinite universe. Therefore having the core concept of a
    religion be in the belief of a single person walking the earth and then dying
    which is the most mundane non spiritual, not esoteric and non ontological way of expressing divinity in life was the problem. Because it sapped the purely personal subjective interpretation of divinity within (which we call spirituality)
    the experience of the individual and replaced it with a strict orthodoxy of
    interpretation of what is 'spiritual' in the belief in the physical existence
    of a mortal human 'savior' as a representative or 'agent' of the divine
    intercession in human affairs. It contradicts the historical basis of the
    'god concept' in the human experience of the wonders of nature and the
    universe that led to the development of the language and ontology of what
    became 'divinity' in the first place.

    Sure the early Christian fathers apologized but as seen in
    the later councils the whole point was to push blind obedience and faith in
    the institution of the Church itself as the primary intercedent in human
    affairs between man and 'god' where individuals just couldn't "do their own
    thing" they had to subject themselves to the power and authority of the
    church, its mandates and the state that was the undeprinning of the church as
    an institution.... Sure this was not new, all the old religions had this as
    well, but there had to be the semblance of a 'break' between pagan and
    orthodox belief in order to justify its existence. Hence all the old gods
    had to be erased less they provide evidence of the 'old' way of thinking and the roots of the god concept or divinity that are the basis of the new
    theology and ontology in the manifestation of 'logos' or logic in physical nature. This split was also seen in the separation of philosophy and theology which originally were more closely tied together, as well as religion and science.

    1. Wild you are the most articulate and succinct I have read today. Blind faith and dogma go hand in hand. What tomfoolery is evident in such a system of command and control. 87

    2. Thank you sir.

      Interestingly enough, Cardinal Dolan was on CBS this morning today (Dec 23) saying the same thing.

      Most of this stuff is a basic part of any serious degree program in divinity studies or theology. And of course the Vatican has one of the largest archives of theological writings in the world (pagan and orthodox).

      Cardinal Dolan:
      "2016 has undoubtedly been a contentious year. But as the year winds down and we look ahead to 2017, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan urges us all to be hopeful.

      It’s always life’s question: How do we find hope? Dolan said on CBS This Morning Friday. People might lose faith but boy, if you lose hope, you don’t get out of bed in the morning, all right? So hope is really important.

      Dolan said Christmas and Hanukkah are a time of celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, and coincide with a natural sign.

      The darkest day of the year was two days ago. For ancient men and women, they would always say, 'Is it going to keep getting darker... Is the light going to come up?' And of course it does around this time of year, Dolan said. Life trumps death no pun intended good trumps evil, good is victorious over bad, life conquers death. That is hope. Nature gives you hope, super nature, the supernatural gives us more hope.

      As with the meaning behind the ancient Roman title for the pope, Pontifex a bridge builder between God and humanity Dolan explained the church’s role is to bring people together.

      That’s God’s purpose to constantly bring us close to him. And he does that, we Christians believe, through Jesus, Dolan said. Now his church is supposed to do the same thing. "