The concept of a divinely anointed emissary primed to regenerate the world abounds in universal literature.
The Sibylline Books is a collection of Greek literatures from before Christ. In Gallaeus, for instance, we find: “New Light has arisen, coming from Heaven, it is assured a mortal form…Virgin, receive God in thy pure bosom. And the Word flew into her womb. Becoming incarnate in Time, and animated by her body, it was found in a mortal image, and a Boy was created by a Virgin…the new God-sent Star was adored by the Mai, the infant swathed was shown in a manger…and Bethlehem was called God-called country of the Word.” About the Anointed One, pre-Christian Indian religious works predict:
“He shall come, crowned with lights, the pure fluid issuing from the great soul…dispersing darkness.
He shall come, and life will defy death…and he shall revivify the blood of all beings, shall regenerate all bodies, and purify all souls.
He shall come, and all animated beings, all the flowers, plants, men, women, the infants, the slaves…shall together intone the chant of joy, for he is the Lord of all creatures…he is infinite, for he is power, for he is wisdom, for he is beauty, for he is all and in all.
He shall come, more sweet than honey and ambrosia, more pure than the lamb without spot.
Happy is the blessed womb that shall bear him. And God shall manifest his glory, and make his power resound, and shall reconcile himself with his creatures. It is in the bosom of a woman that the ray of the Divine splendour will receive human form, and she shall bring forth, being a virgin, for no impure contact shall have defiled her.”
The even older Egyptian Hermetic Writings feature Hermes, its alleged author, declaring: “God’s only Son, the only man, through the will of God, is the answer to the heathen.” In this work we also read: “God’s first-born who is the Holy Veil, the Light of Lights, is he who sends the revolution of the Delegates for he is the First Power.” The Egyptian Thoth, better known as Hermes, was credited as the Good Saviour and Logos, and like Osiris, he was sent by God to save the world. Thoth also loved his people and for their benefit had taught and instituted the Arts and the Sciences. In Alexandria, there are writings that speak of Serapis as having been anointed from above, whilst the Idra Magna includes: “God’s first-born emanated from the Most High, and is the anointed of the Highest.” The Egyptian Horus, The Light, was born of a virgin on the 25th of December and announced by a star in the East which guided three kings to his cradle. Horus had started teaching at the age of twelve and had been baptised before embarking on his ministry at age thirty. He too, had been accompanied by twelve disciples, performed many miracles and was also known as the Lamb of God, who would later be crucified and resurrected three days after his death. Phoenician literature features Aleyin, son of Ba’al, claiming: “Make ready then, the sacrifice. I am the lamb which is made ready with pure wheat to be sacrificed in expiation.” In Armenian literature, Eznik, the Final Saviour, is immaculately conceived by the virgin Vispataurvi as the reincarnation of Gayomart. Of Sosiosh, the Persian Book of Dehesh claims that he will be “born of a virgin” and that he will come as “redeemer to regenerate the world.” Like the Jewish Mashiach, who has had Elijah and Moses, Sosiosh, the Final Saviour, is to be preceded by two prophets who will announce his coming. Mithras, the God of the Sun and Persian Saviour, was born on the 25th of December and is said to have spent his life in good works, working miracles and labouring for the redemption of sinners. He, too, we are told, gathered his twelve disciples in a last supper, after which he died and ascended to Heaven on the third day. From the Zend-Avesta we learn that Zoroaster, the Divine Law-Giver and God’s “Only Seed,” had also descended to Hell after being crucified upon the Tree of Knowledge. In the Maha-Bharata, we find the Bhagavad-Gita, a poem that features Lord Krsna as the Eighth reincarnation of Vishnu and Son of Brahma, who had been immaculately conceived on the 25th of December. Interestingly, Krsna’s birth had also been announced by a bright star in heaven, and he too was eventually pinned to a tree until dead, after which he is said to have paid the underworld a brief visit before finally ascending to Heaven. Gautama Buddha, the Light of Asia, is quoted as saying: “Let all sins that have been committed in this world fall on me that the world may be delivered.” According to Buddhist prophecy, Maitraya will be the future Messiah, and in Greek Mythology, we find that Attis was born of a virgin on the 25th of December and was later crucified only to resurrect three days later. In fact, Bacchus, Adonis, Herakles, Apollo, and Aesculapius had all been virgin-born saviours, the first three of these, having allegedly visited the underworld after their demise. Dyonisus, King of Kings and the Alpha & Omega, was also born of a virgin on the 25th of December and performed miracles before being eventually crucified and resurrected. There are other minor salvadores in South and Central America, and also similar characters in Scandinavia, Oceania and, particularly, in Africa, where the Dogon tribes of Mali have familiar things to say. They speak of their Nommo, meaning ‘redeemer’ and ‘monitor’, and that he was crucified and resurrected on the third day to return to Sirius B, which was known to them as The Beyond. Osiris, the Egyptian Saviour, was slain by Seth and his body dismembered into fourteen parts which were then dispersed across the Egyptian territory. It was believed at the time that a disparted body could not possibly resurrect into eternal bliss. To do so, it simply had to remain intact. In this context, and arguably about Jesus, Psalms, 34.20, declares: “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.” The Romans commonly broke the legs of crucified criminals to collapse their lungs and so provoke almost immediate death by asphyxia. In this context, and to allay possible fears among the still superstitious Christians, the authors of the New Testament found convenient recourse in the ancient conviction, writing: “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.” And so, Isis, Osiris’s wife, collected the remains of her husband and successfully recomposed most of his anatomy. Osiris, like Jesus, had then been able to rise from the dead in a transformed and glorified immortal body to produce the virgin-born Horus -his eventual avenger. Horus and Zoroaster, by the way, were two other messiahs delivered at the end of December, “about the time of the Winter Solstice” in fact.
The Jewish concept of an Anointed One (generically meaning one who is appointed with blessings) post-dates most Asian equivalents, the same having reached this nation’s priesthood, either through Chaldean literature, or the Zoroastrian gathas, ‘scriptures’, when in detention at Babylon, or directly from independent Buddhist groups when these would later proselytize in Jerusalem. The fact is that Israel expects her nationalistic saviour to fulfil four basal prophecies; firstly, that he will be king, arising from the House of David, and that he will cause the renewal of the Davidic Dynasty, further restoring the same to its initial sovereignty. Secondly, that he will gather in the dispersed remnants of Israel (the Diaspora Jewry) and compel these to observe the Torah and its mitzvos completely. Thirdly, that he will fight the wars of God, and then proceed to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash (the Temple) on its site, exalting only Israel as she rules from sea to sea. Fourthly, that he will perfect the entire world and, as predicted of the Indian Saviour afore-mentioned, also motivate all nations to serve God together.
The inclusion of religious liberators in extra-biblical literatures is evident and undeniable, and the foregoing examples are obvious national variations on the same universal theme. Authenticating a particular version by simply dismissing the rest as mythical is thus not good enough. The New Testament, for instance, does just this as it foists its own candidate: “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers.” Krsna and Buddha, to name but two so-called anointed emissaries, are evidently rendered imposters, but no credible argument has ever been produced to sustain this otherwise loudly intolerant and separatist statement attributed to Jesus. Evidently, messianic notions are not unique to the Judaeo-Christian systems. To sum up this particular comparative exercise, I would like to point out that the universal notions of the Virgin-Birth and Salvation may well flow from ancient fungi culture. The fact that mushrooms reproduce agamously may well have ultimately prompted the view of a flawlessly conceived messiah. Moreover, and as explained earlier, fungi contain no chlorophyll and thus only obtain their nourishment directly from other organisms either living or dead, whilst the fungi known as saprophytes survives exclusively from decaying and dead organic matter, whence perhaps John the Baptist’s argument that we are “dead in trespasses”, thereby paving the way for the incoming life-restoring Christian Saviour to play his reviving role. Mary’s pregnancy by the Holy Ghost, furthermore, probably derives from the concept of the divine sexual congress earlier referred to, its resulting harvest, like Mary’s offspring, having represented salvation for all.
The Nazarenes were an Essene religious group that Jesus is said to have led, and which had almost disappeared by 58 A.D. The Nazarene message, together with that of the ensuing Gnostics, was ultimately overtaken by what many have since alleged to be a counterfeit version of the true message of Jesus -the Pauline Doctrine. Mainstream Christians argue that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah foretold in Jewish Scriptures, and that his credentials more than satisfy and fulfil biblical prophecy. Let us, therefore, cite the more significant of these alleged biblical predictions, some of which, as we shall now see, are identical to the foregoing foreign versions.
About the Throne of David, Isaiah 9.7 has this to say: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” In Mathew 1.1 we read: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
About the Messiah’s place of birth, we find the following in Micah 5.2: “But Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Again, in Mathew 2, we come across the following: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east of Jerusalem.”
About the time of birth, the prophet has this to say in Daniel 9.2: “Know therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in problematic times.” In the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke 2.1-2, we find: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be taxed.”
About the Saviour’s Virgin-Birth, Isaiah 7.14 again prophesies: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” In Mathew 1.18, we can locate its corresponding fulfilment: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
About the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, Isaiah 53.3 predicts: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” John 1.11 declares: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
About Jesus´ death, Isaiah 53, 4-5, reads: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” From Mathew 27.38 we learn: “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.”
There are many more supposed prophecies found in the Old Testament, and just as many alleged fulfilments featured in the New. To facilitate the identification of these in the Bible I have included the following key: P for prophecy and F for its corresponding fulfilment.
P: Genesis 3.15 – F: Ga. 4.4 & Luke 2.7 & Re. 12.5. P: Genesis 17.19 – F: Mathew 1.2 & Lu. 3.34. P: Genesis 18.18 & 12.3 – F: Acts 3.25 & Mathew 1.1 & Luke 3.34. P: Genesis 49.10 – F: Luke 3.33 & Mathew 2.3. P: Genesis 28.14 & Numbers 24.17 – F: Luke 3.34 & Mathew 1.2. P: Jeremiah 31.15 – F: Mathew 2.16 & 2.17, 18. P: Hosea 11.1 – F: Mathew 2.14 & 2.17, 18. P: Isaiah 9. 1.2 – F: Mathew 4.12-16. P: Deuteronomy 18.15 – F: John 6.14 & 1.45 & Acts 3.19-26. P: Psalms 16.10 – F: Mathew 28.9 & Luke 24.36-48. P: Psalms 22.16 – F: John 20.27 & 19.37 & 20.25. P: Zechariah 12.10 – F: John 19.34.
The similitude of these Judaeo-Christian predictions and fulfilments to those extra-biblical equivalents is evident. In the final analysis, nevertheless, all Asian messianic ideas, including those of the Bible, are demonstrably rooted in fertility tradition. The Sumerian word for ‘water’ (IA-U-S U-A, meaning ‘semen’) is the authentic and incontestable Saviour, Regenerator, and Redeemer.
We have already identified the fantastic fertility origins of the name Yahweh, and the reader has already been filled with details of this deity’s altogether mythical characteristics. In view of the irrefutable evidence, it would appear unnecessary to discuss the authenticity of His “Only Begotten” progeny any further. Nevertheless, and if only for the sake of argument, I would next like to evaluate and hopefully rebut the derision and vilification which bigoted Noahite covenanters in particular, are currently hurling at the persona of the biblical Jesus and his entourage. These debunkers of Christianity do not only dismiss the authenticity of Jesus for failing to fulfil the Old Testament prophecies, they also argue, almost pathologically, that Chrestus, or Khristos, the Christian leader, was a schismatic and seditious militant who, among other infractions, had committed murder and arson in Jerusalem in protest against Roman occupation and for which he was eventually justifiably sentenced to death. The ensuing Apostolic Church, they further claim, comprised unruly dissidents and depraved idol worshippers who threatened to tear apart the very fabric of Jewish society.
Firstly, and about the korkoron, the Christ embrocation, Pliny chronicles: “…those who have anointed themselves with the juice of the whole plant, mixed with oil, become more popular and obtain their wishes more easily…so great are its health-giving properties that some call it Chreston.” This oleaginous juice was rubbed, whence the Hebrew mashiach, meaning the ‘anointed one’. So salutary was its unction that it was called khrestos by the Greeks (a word rooted in Sanskrit -whence Krsna, which means, precisely, ‘anointed’), meaning ‘good’, ‘honest’, ‘health-bestowing’, etc. Before being admitted into the Mysteries of the Indian Sages, Apollonius and his partner had been rubbed with oil so powerful that “…they felt as if bathed with fire.” According to Des Sciences Occultes, “…these unctions were exceedingly frequent in ancient ceremonies. Before consulting the Oracle of Trophonius, they were rubbed with oil over the whole body. This preparation certainly concurred to produce the desired vision.´´ Philo Judaeus writes about this same anointed fraternity, adding that they were therapeutics, and Pliny chronicles: “The root of Halicacabus is taken in drink by those who, to confirm superstitious notions, wish to play the inspired prophet, and to be seen publicly raving in unpretended madness.” Tacitus endorses this view, further regarding Chrestians as “entirely despicable”, and although Suetonius Tranquillus, the Roman historian and Secretary to Emperor Hadrian during the first century A.D., further derives Christians as “a class of men given to a new and wicked superstition”, it may well have been part of Rome´s tireless war of attrition waged against them. Other groups of therapeutics in and around Jerusalem at the time would include the peaceful Indian Christianites and also the Essenes, who at the time were crossing swords with the Jewish Orthodoxy and the Roman authorities in Jerusalem, and which would culminate both in their butchery throughout Judaea and in the subsequent prohibition of Judaism. Lastly, but not least, there was the resident Jewish Chrestian movement that comprised the mushroom-crazed Zealots, whose wild notions and activities were now making a mockery of their noble predecessors -the Egyptian healers and peace-loving Chrestians. The Egyptian Onnofre, one of the titles of Osiris, actually translates ‘the goodness of God made manifest’, and the shorter version of this word, that is, nofre, means ‘Chrestus’, whose essential meaning, as already exposed, is ‘good’, or ‘bestowing’.
The flame of revolt, in view of the lack of evidence, may have been set alight not by Jesus´ followers, but by one of the other splinter groups at the time gravitating in the Holy City.
Secondly, the Eternal City, like imperial Persia, had opted for toleration of foreign religions, sects, and superstitions. Experience had taught Rome to adopt and absorb foreign gods as an effective strategy in the pursuit of social stability wherever she spread her imperial net. Evidently, this would account for the unique dynamism of their national pantheon. And so, Roman religious adaptability was certainly a key factor to the furtherance of this nation’s interests in Palestine. Indeed, Roman authorities had never hesitated to quell schismatic elements that threatened the established order throughout Roman jurisdictions, the Zealots, the radical Jewish energumens in Jerusalem, among others, having eventually discovered this to be absolutely correct. Contrastingly, Jesus’ innocence of the character assassination-type charges brought against him by the Jews is evident from the reluctance to execute him shown by Pontius Pilate who, contrary to recent criteria, incidentally, has been declared an historical character. About Jesus’ ministry and his above-board conduct, the Palestinian-born historian Josephus clarifies: “Now there was about this time Jesus a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure, he drew over to him many Jews and Gentiles. He was (the) Christ.” Clearly, this was not the demagogue and priggish rebel some would have us believe. Why then did Rome continue with her crackdown on Christian activities? Why and how was Christian behaviour proving inimical to Rome? Why exactly was it breeding bad blood at the time? After all, the Christian movement was already gaining in popularity for its many charitable deeds, further calling for political conformity, love, and piety. In answer, I would next like to feature court records and correspondence that date to the Apostolic Era, that is, the time of the undivided Church during the first generations after Christ. These prove very valuable, as they reveal the early Christian stance against idolatry.
After teaching in Ephesus for a while, Justin, the 2nd century Samarian-born and later Christian apologist, opened a Christian school in Rome. In the Dialogue with Typho, we find court records on his martyrdom.
For breaking a decree that ordered everyone to make sacrifices to idols, several leading Christians led by Justin were arrested and arraigned before Rusticus, the Prefect of Rome:
Rusticus: “What beliefs do you follow?”
Justin: “We believe in the Christian God, the one God who has existed from the beginning, the Maker and Designer of the whole creation, visible and invisible. And we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was foretold by the prophets as the one who was to come to declare salvation and lead his followers to the truth. And we don’t believe this as a matter of human opinion, but as something revealed by God and confirmed by prophecy.”
Rusticus: “Where is your meeting place?”
Justin: “Anywhere and everywhere -we meet wherever we can. The Christian God is not confined to any one place. He fills heaven and earth, and those who believe can worship him anywhere.”
Rusticus: “Where does this group of disciples meet?”
Justin: “I’m staying in Martin’s house -I have an upstairs room. That’s near the Baths of Timothy. This is my second visit to Rome, and so far as I know the Christians have always met in his home. But if people seeking the truth came to me, I would meet them in my room.”
Rusticus: “So you don’t deny that you are a Christian?”
Justin: “No. I am a Christian.”
Rusticus: “And you others, are you all Christians?”
The others: “We are, by God’s gift.”
Rusticus: “And did Justin convert you to Christianity?”
Paeon: “No. I received the truth from my parents.”
Euelpistus: “So did I, though I was glad to learn more from Justin.”
Rusticus: “Where are your parents?”
Euelpistus: “In Cappadocia.”
Hierax: “Our real father is Christ, and our real mother is our faith in him. My earthly parents are dead. I was brought from Iconium as a captive.”
Rusticus: “And you-what do you say? Are you an unbeliever like the rest of them?”
Liberian: “Not an unbeliever. I am a Christian. I believe in and love the only true God. That is not unbelief.”
The Prefect, Rusticus, now turned his attention to Justin once again: “You are supposed to be an intelligent man, and you claim that you know the truth, as you call it. Now tell me, if I order you to be beaten and then beheaded, do you really and truly believe you will go up to heaven?”
Justin: “If I endure these things-if I don’t deny Christ-then I expect to receive his gift of eternal life. That is the promise of God to all who live in him, until the end of the age.”
Rusticus: “You think you will go to heaven then?”
Justin: “I don’t think I know it. I’m totally persuaded.”
Rusticus: “Ah well, let’s turn our attention to a more urgent question. Will you all agree to make a sacrifice to the Roman gods?”
Justin: “No one in his right mind turns from true belief to false.”
Rusticus: “If you refuse to sacrifice, you will all be punished without mercy.”
Justin: “There is an even more terrible seat of judgement than a Roman Prefect’s, the judgement seat of our Lord, who will one day judge the whole world. We would rather suffer now and please him, than please you and suffer then. You must do whatever you decide. We are Christians, and we do not sacrifice to idols.”
The intransigent and incoercible Christians, now prescient of their immediate future, were led out and beheaded as they glorified their god and confessed Christ.
It is clear that the resident foreign authority had expected all citizens to also duly recognise the gods of the Roman State and, as decreed, to offer sacrifices to their graven images. Refusal to do so was punishable by death, and the 2nd century Christian monotheists, as just exposed, had preferred to die rather than succumb to idolatry.
Despite the Imperial City’s traditional appeasing policy, the rage against Christians would continue unabated. The following letter was written by a member of the Churches at Vienne and Lyons, and it is one of many from a collection known as The Martyrs of Vienne, a true testament to both religious zealotry and human cruelty. The first section of this letter, incidentally, might remind readers of the alleged arbitrary persecution and despicable torture suffered by innocent Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany last century:
“The servants of Christ living in Vienne and Lyons in France send their Christian greetings to the brethren in Asia who share our hope and our redemption. Peace, grace and glory to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! This letter is to tell you of the things we have suffered recently, and of the courage of our martyrs.
It began in a small way. With official encouragement, the people-our neighbours-began to turn against us. We were first of all banned from the public baths and the market, and then from appearing in public at all. This we were able to bear. In fact, it served to unify our churches and bring some who had been backsliders into a more committed faith.
The next stage was harder to bear. The people began to conduct a campaign of physical harassment against us. We were jostled and punched if we ventured out of doors. Our possessions were stolen or damaged, and a noisy crowd gathered outside our homes, shouting insults and throwing stones at our windows.
In the end, the authorities intervened-not to protect us, as you might have imagined, but by arresting most of our leading Christians and putting them on public trial before the tribune in the market place. When they had been questioned, they were locked up in the town jail to await the governor’s arrival.
When the governor arrived, we were all flogged, and then brought before him. At this point, one of our young men, Vettius Epagathus, stepped forward and asked if he could speak. He was a highly respected man in the town, and an outstanding young Christian full of the Holy Spirit.
Unable to stand silently by and watch the Christians being treated so unfairly, he spoke up forcefully that we were not blasphemers or irreligious people, but honest and hard-working citizens. The governor interrupted him, “Are you a Christian?” he asked him. When Vettius said that he was, in a clear and steady voice, the governor ordered him to be killed there and then.
The sight of this brother of ours being martyred caused some of our number to waver. Most of us, though appalled at the prospect, were ready to be put to the sword. A few, mostly new believers or those who were uninstructed or weak in the faith, denied Christ in the hope that they would then escape execution. There were about ten whose courage failed them, but they were quickly replaced by other Christians who had previously been overlooked but were now brought in by the soldiers and locked up with us. Eventually, all the committed members of both churches were in custody. At this point, needing some ‘evidence’ with which to convict us, the governor ordered that all our heathen domestic servants should be arrested. The threat of torture by the soldiers was enough to produce from among them witnesses who were ready to witness that the Christians engaged in private orgies and all kinds of sexual perversions. These accusations served to turn the general population against us, and even those who had been sympathetic toward us now joined in demanding our deaths. It was another fulfilment of our Lord’s prophecy: “The time will come when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service.”
All of us, from that point, were tortured every day, but the brunt of the ill-treatment was borne by three of the Christians: Sanctus, a deacon from the Vienne church; Maturus, a comparatively new convert but a brave man; and a servant-girl called Blandina. She was incredible-a living proof of the apostle Paul’s words that those who count for little in the world’s eyes may gain great glory in the sight of God.
She was a woman from the lowest ranks of the community, physically unattractive and despised by most of those who knew her. Yet when her mistress, a Christian who was with us in prison, began to waver in her faith, it was Blandina who strengthened her. Seeing what a strength she was to us all, the soldiers took her away and tortured her unbelievably, until her body was mangled and covered with gaping wounds, so that they couldn’t believe she was still alive. But she was, and she just kept on saying, “I am a Christian, and evil cannot find a place among us.”
Now it was the turn of Sanctus to suffer again. The soldiers hoped that if they tortured him enough, he would say something incriminatory. In fact, whatever they asked him, he simply answered, “I am a Christian.” His calmness infuriated his tormentors, who then began to torture him even more sadistically. They applied red hot brass plates to the most sensitive parts of his body, so that his frame contracted under the pain and his limbs became swollen and inflamed.
A few days later they dragged him out again to his raw and distorted body, expecting that the pain would be so intolerable that he would at last deny Christ, or else die under the strain. Either way, they hoped that it would terrify the other Christians. In fact, a miracle happened. As the instruments of pain touched him, his deformed frame, which had been contracted, straightened out, the swelling went down, and he regained the use of his limbs.
On the same day, one of the Christians who had, in the face of terrible threats denied the Lord-a woman called Biblis was brought in for torture to persuade her to produce evidence against her fellow-Christians. Once again there was a miracle, for the pain had the opposite effect! It appeared to wake her out of spiritual sleep, so that she not only refused to incriminate the believers, but confessed Christ herself, and gladly accepted martyrdom.
The three Christian heroes, Maturus, Sanctus and Blandina, were tested yet again at the time of the local festival, when vast crowds had gathered in the amphitheatre for the games. The two men, Maturus and Sanctus, were made to run the gauntlet of scourges and then, to the hysterical shouts of the crowd, were set upon by wild beasts. Surviving that, they were strapped in the notorious ‘iron chair’ and slowly burnt over an open fire, making their final sacrifice as open spectacles before the world.
Blandina, who had already survived more than anyone could have imagined possible, was brought into the arena and suspended high on a wooden stake. Wild animals were then let loose around her, for whom she was intended to provide food. As she hung there, her lips moving in prayer, the Christians who were watching could not but be reminded of the One who was crucified for them, and into the fellowship of whose suffering their dear sister had entered.
In fact, not one of the wild beasts touched her, and after a while they took her down from the stake and put her back into prison. But already the courage of this small, despised, weak woman had put fresh heart in the Christians, and proving that to ‘put on Christ’ is to be made an invincible champion.
Because of these testimonies, and others, most of those who had earlier denied Christ were born again, or their spiritual life was rekindled, so that they boldly presented themselves to the tribunal, confessing Christ, and asking that they too should be numbered with the martyrs. And they were. Those who were Romans were beheaded. The others were given to the wild beasts. And Christ was glorified.”
To further refute the slander against early Christians, I have chosen the following 2nd century letter which encapsulates Christian ethos at this time:
“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek to him. If someone makes you go a mile, go two with him. If someone takes your coat, offer him your shirt as well. If someone seizes something that belongs to you, let it go (you couldn’t get it back, anyway!). Give to everyone who asks and don’t expect to be paid back. Our Father loves to share his generosity through us with everybody.
A generous giver is blessed by God. But the taker should beware! If he takes only what he needs, then God excuses him. But if he goes beyond that, God will require an account of why he took it, and for what purpose. In fact, he won’t be let off until his actions have been minutely examined-and if he has been greedy, then he will be expected to pay back every penny. Remember the old saying? ‘Keep your gifts in your own hands until you know who you are giving them to’.”
As discussed, religious toleration invariably brought Rome and her provinces together in a pragmatic embrace. Nevertheless, by the late 2nd century A.D. Roman politics had lost almost all control over this cogent, highly pervasive and now politically threatening movement that was Christianity. Overnight, the latter menaced to upset the status quo throughout the empire, thereby provoking rage in Rome, where they were further declared the Empire’s number one enemy. Those who had been led into professing Christianity through the enmeshing tactics afore-mentioned were executed as criminals. It would seem that Paranoia on the part of Rome and not strictly political rebellion and dissocial conduct by Christians, was the authentic reason for their persecution which would only abate in 313A.D. after the convenient and timely conversion of Constantine The Great to this infant, but already unstoppable faith. Paradoxically, the subsequent Roman controlled Christian Orthodoxy would now inflict far more damage to Christianity than the military might of Rome could ever have. The former now became the maximum Christian authority, eventually assuming full responsibility for the definitive compilation of the New Testament that would exclude the human characteristics of the Christian Saviour found in the demonized Gnostic Gospels discovered centuries later, and which were unavailingly defended at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (now known as Iznik, Turkey) in 325 A.D. by Arius, the founder of Arianism, against the well-placed Athanasius, the imperious Bishop of Alexandria, who now insisted on the wholly divine nature of Jesus. Mithras, the risen Saviour, had served the Roman armies well, and for centuries Roman legions had fought under the banner of Mithraism with the promise of bodily resurrection if slain in battle. Politically, it would now be convenient for some of Mithras’s credentials to be usurped by the in-coming Christian Messiah. Jesus´ ascent to heaven, for instance, would now be a physical and not a spiritual one as believed by most at the time. The Roman Catholic Church, the Great Impostor, was now in the clear to complete the final compilation of the New Testament.
About spiritual resurrection, the Indian Vardhamana had “risen on the third day when enlightenment was complete,” and the much maligned Gnostics, as already touched upon, had themselves understood and advocated the resurrection of Jesus as a spiritual one, further arguing that the mainstream belief in a physical resurrection was a metaphor for the former. Mithras´ own resurrection, we should remember, had also been a spiritual one until Romanised. However, some would argue that if Jesus did not rise physically from the dead, how could Christianity have amassed such a following so early on? Surely, they would have discovered the truth, they insist. We must note that the Jesus Papyrus had already been written down and circulated around 50 A.D., and that it is believed to be an actual eye-witness account on the life of Jesus. Although not a credible source in the eyes of some critics, about the Resurrection and just outside the crucial Eye-Witness period (between 30 and 70 A.D.), Josephus reports a physical and glorified Jesus: “For he appeared to them alive again on the 3rd day as the Divine Prophet had foretold.”
The Resurrectionist Ignatius, a contemporary of Josephus, was probably converted in adult life. Eventually, Ignatius would become Bishop of the church at Antioch. Condemned to death for his faith, he was taken on a last journey to distant Rome escorted by Roman guards and expecting to be fed to hungry beasts in the infamous gladiatorial arena of that city. Ignatius, nevertheless, had managed to produce and dispatch several letters to churches along his route, and the following is an extract of one such letter. Its message is a clear attempt at defending the authenticity of Jesus and his physical resurrection: “If you come across somebody who says that Jesus Christ never lived or that he’s just an idea, or a concept, or a myth –shut your ears to him. Jesus Christ was born into a human family, a descendant of David. His mother was Mary. He was persecuted and crucified under Pontius Pilate, a fact testified to us by some who are now in heaven, and some who are still alive on earth. How can this be a phantom, or an illusion, or a myth/ these are facts of history! It is also a fact that he rose from the dead (or rather, that his Father raised him up). And that is the most important ‘fact’ of all, because his promise is that the Father will also raise us up, if we believe in him. So if Christ Jesus is not alive, neither shall we be. There is nothing left for us to hope for if he is just an idea or a fantasy. In any case, if he only appeared to live, and only appeared to die, and only appeared to rise from the dead-why should I be in chains for this ‘myth’? Why should I die to support an illusion? I am prepared to die for him, the true and real Son of God. But no man is prepared to die for a shadow.”
Further to the Resurrection, sceptics have made the following suggestions: That Joseph of Arimathea, the landlord of the garden where the tomb was located, had asked for the exhumation and return of the body, and that he had then arranged to inter it in another grave and thereafter keep its resting place a secret; that the Roman authorities had removed the body and had then refused to disclose its whereabouts; that Jews, hostile to Christians, had removed the corpse to avoid future veneration of the tomb on the part of Christ’s followers; that Jewish sympathisers had concealed the body to prevent the Romans from removing it, later dumping the same on one of the many burning rubbish heaps where the bodies of crucified criminals were usually disposed of; that the women visited the wrong sepulchre, and that finding it empty had imagined that Jesus was risen. Lastly, that Jesus did not die, and that he had somehow managed to recover. Nevertheless, it is not that simple. On the one hand, if enemies of infant Christianity -Roman or Jewish- had removed the body, or knew of its whereabouts, they had only to exhibit the same to abort that embryonic faith. Evidently, this never happened. If on the other hand friends of Jesus had shifted the body before the women reached its resting place, the corpse must have been buried elsewhere, in which case, the tomb would have become the cause of much veneration thereafter. More importantly, how could the Disciples have honestly preached the resurrection of their Lord and even willingly march to their slaughter for this cause if the whereabouts of the body were known? Certainly, food for thought unless of course the foregoing records and letters are deemed fraudulent, which is an unlikely possibility in any case, given the many more reports on the reality of Jesus and the impeccable conduct of his earliest devotees. However, the foregoing argument for a physical resurrection so deeply engrained in the Judaeo-Christian mind appears to disintegrate, when we consider, for instance, that the Indian Vardhamana had after much meditation “risen on the third day when enlightenment was complete.” As already said, the Gnostics had themselves believed and proposed that Jesus’ resurrection was a spiritual one. The Gospel of John records: “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.” The Orthodox interpretation of this verse is literal, because translators failed to distinguish between the two different Greek meanings for the word ‘see’ employed in this verse, namely blepo and theorao, both meaning ‘to behold’, and which are exclusively used in connection with what comes through the optical nerves, and horao, which gives prominence to spiritual discerning. The correct translation of this Greek verse would thus be: “A little while, and ye shall not see (blepo) me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see (horao) me, because I go to the Father.” As previously discussed, this is the ‘sight’ which Adam and Eve had lost when banished from God’s presence. Had these particular words received the attention which the writer intended, there certainly would have been substantially less debate and controversy over the nature of Christ´s resurrection. We may now therefore begin to understand exactly what Jesus had meant when he said that he who saw him saw the Father, and also comprehend the true nature of Christ’s resurrection.
In addition to his father´s unquestionable mythical nature, Jesus, the Christ, seems to have also had some pagan forerunners. Although massively backed by Rome and heroically defended to the death by many, the truth is that the physical resurrection of Jesus clearly makes no sense and does nothing to promote spirituality and much to adulterate the true and enlightening messages of the Christian Messiah himself and that of Krisna and Buddha.
In any case, the foregoing spate of maculating allegations by its many detractors will neither debunk Christianity nor even stem her still massive tide of influence. Unless solid and tangible proof to the contrary is furnished, the Apostolic Church, as opposed to the religionists that made up the later state Orthodox ekklesia (from the Greek for ‘political assembly’), will continue to go down in history as having comprised sincere and humble people, their only recorded quest being the imitation of their peace-loving lord.
The subjugation of Canaan on the other hand, epitomizes not only the true nature of the biblical tribes, but also the total spiritual bankruptcy of those post-exilic Jewish religious reformers who were now revising their tribal records, fabricating a noble ancestry for themselves and crafting to embroil their as yet undefined tribal god in this historic military bloodbath. It is to this shocking biblical episode, then, that I would next like to draw the attention of my patient reader.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in