Western Religion

Man lives not by bread alone.

- Luke 4,4

  1. Introduction
  2. Zoroastrianism
  3. Ancient Judaism
  4. The Splintering of Judaism
  5. Jesus the Shaman
  6. Christianity
  7. Islam
  8. The Reformation
  9. Conclusion
  • The Paranormal

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    Religiologists have divided the great religions of the world into east and west, some finding it convenient to call the eastern ones (above all Hinduism and Buddhism) religions of "wisdom" (i.e., meditation-based) and those of the west (Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam), religions of "prophecy" (based on visions and possession). More often than not, all these religions have been used as ideological supports for political control systems of many different types, but especially monarchical and imperial systems.

    It is the aim of this essay to review the true genesis and history of the western religious strand which has resulted in Christianity, and particularly in American and northern European Protestantism and its aftermath: liberalism and leftism.

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    The story begins three millennia ago in what is today northeast Iran, with the Aryan priest and prophet, Zarathustra. (1) Until his reorganization of the list of supernatural beings, the ancient Iranians had worshipped many gods of varying type. Chief among them were the ahuras (Sanskrit asuras), "lords." Zarathustra took one of them, whom he called the "Wise Lord," Ahura Mazda, made him supreme, and demoted many other gods to subordinate members of the celestial court. The god Mithras (Sanskrit Mitras) was the most important member in this court. Opposing the Wise Lord was the "Evil Spirit," Angra Mainyu, and his wicked legions.

    The prophet persuaded a local potentate to accept his new theology, and Zoroastrianism was off and running. Over the next thousand years it spread throughout all of the Aryan peoples of Iran, which eventually became known as Persia.

    As the religion developed, the concept of a supernatural, post-death place of fiery punishment was worked out as a realm where wicked souls would get their due. The idea emerged from the ancient Iranian ordeal, a trial by fire in which an accused man would have molten lead poured on his chest. If he was innocent, he would be saved from harm by the god Mithras, as modern fire-walkers are saved from harm.

    Of historically momentous importance in Zoroastrianism was the crucial figure of the Saoshyant ("He who will bring benefit"), a prophetically promised, heaven-sent emperor who, according to the belief, was to conquer all the earthly forces of the Evil Spirit and establish faithful Zoroastrians as the premier power on earth. This was the origin of the Jewish idea of the "Anointed One," or Messiah, in later Judaism.(2)

    Ancient Judaism
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    To the west, in the Fertile Crescent and along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, another people, the Hebrews, was forming. This people, too, had multiple gods, among them Yahweh (a god of the soil), Baal and the Great Mother, Ishtar, the "Queen of Heaven." For a brief time around 1,000 B.C.E. during a temporary power vacuum in the Middle East, they were united under a single monarch, David, who, according to the Old Testament, conquered the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites and blended their city-god, El Elyon ("God of gods," often translated as "the Most High") with Yahweh. After David, however, things began to fall apart and the kingdom split into a northern realm of Israel and a southern one of Judah. Then in 722 B.C.E. the Assyrians under Salmanasser V conquered and destroyed the city of Samaria and annexed the land which had been Israel. The upper classes of this country were deported to Assyria, while Assyrian subjects were imported to the now defeated territory. Race mixing was the conscious policy of the Assyrians and Babylonians who used it as a means of diluting nationalist movements and securing political control over conquered peoples. Some form of race mixing has been used by subsequent empires for the same reason ever since. In the southern half of the former Israel the Samaritans, an offshoot of ancient Judaism, became prominent. As shown in the Gospels, they were fiercely hated by the more "orthodox" Jews of Jesus’ time.

    In the power politics of the ancient Middle East, Egypt used Judah as a buffer against Assyria, employing the prophet Jeremiah as a propaganda agent to whip up the people of Judah against Assyria and its gods. The result was that the New Babylonian, or Chaldean, empire (the successor state to Assyria) under Nebuchadrezzar conquered Jerusalem twice (597-6 and 586), the first time deporting some, the second time all, of its upper classes to Babylon. This was the beginning of the so-called "Babylonian Exile," which was to last until 538 B.C.E. During this time the exiles developed the Jewish institutions of the rabbinate and the synagogue, and laid the foundations of what was later to become the Babylonian Talmud, an immense corpus of semi-historical, literary and legalistic literature dealing with every aspect of Jewish life.

    Babylon itself was conquered in 539 by a Persian king of Anshan, Parsumash and Parsa (and conqueror of the Median empire of the north), Kurush, known in English as Cyrus the Great. In the following year, seeking to ingratiate himself with the many peoples whom the Babylonians had dragged in and enslaved, he issued a proclamation of emancipation for them, permitting them to return to their original homelands if they wanted. For this reason the Old Testament acclaimed Cyrus as the Messiah (the "Anointed One"), or divinely established king. However, after almost half a century of living in Babylon, not too many Jews wanted to "return" to what was by now a strange land for most of them. Thus Babylon remained a city with a strong Jewish presence for many hundreds of years thereafter. One consequence of this was the fact that many of the Jews effectively absorbed many Zoroastrian concepts into their own religion: the idea of a single god, of angels (the older, demoted gods), a demonic god or devil (in which Satan, an old Hebrew celestial court prosecutor, was turned into an adversary of his erstwhile employer, Yahweh), hell, a divinely sent, royal warlord to come (the Saoshyant), and the concept of life after death. These Babylonian Jews thereby became a vehicle for the entry of Zoroastrian dualistic ideas and astrological magic into the later Essene, Zealot and Pharisaic (i.e., pre-Messianic) areas of Judaism. It was during this period that the books of Nehemiah (444 B.C.E.) and Ezra (398 B.C.E.) were written.

    As the successor to the Babylonian-Assyrian empire, Persia controlled Palestine and Judah, now Judea. It also granted material resources to those Jews who sought to return to Judea, and to their descendants. In this way Judea gradually grew in strength and population, but a population in which the vast majority was rabidly nationalistic. Moreover religious demagogues blended the role of the original "Messiah" ("Anointed One"), Cyrus the Great (cf. Isaiah 45,1), and the Saoshyant into a future emperor appointed by their high god Yahweh to crush all non-Jews and give Jews control over the rest of mankind. They thereby laid the foundations of an ideology that would today be called Nazism.

    Two centuries after the "Exile," in 332 B.C.E., the Macedonian general, Alexander the Great, on his way to conquering the entire Middle East as far as India, also conquered Palestine. (He died nine years later in 323 in Babylon.) Thenceforth Judea lived under Hellenistic (Greek) political and cultural hegemony. Alexander’s empire was divided among his generals. Ptolemy took Egypt and much of Palestine, while Seleukos eventually took everything between India and the Mediterranean Sea, and some of Asia Minor as well. In 198 (in the battle of Panion), the Seleucid empire established by Seleukos wrested control of Palestine from the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty.

    From this time until the annihilation of the Temple in 70 C.E., much of our information about ancient Judean politics comes from the books of the Maccabees, from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus ("Josephus"), from the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls, and from Roman sources such as Tacitus. The most extensive and knowledgeable writer, Josephus, took part in the Jewish war against Rome as an Essene before going over to the Roman side. His work deals primarily with the political and cultural aspects of the ancient Jews. At the time of his writing he was no longer interested in the mystical side of his countrymen’s religion. Thus he has very little (some would say nothing at all) to say about the magical-mystical movement which gave rise to Christianity.

    The Splintering of Judaism
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    The Sadducees

    2 Kings 25,18 reports that the last chief priest of the Temple at the time of Jerusalem’s capture in 587 B.C.E. was Seriah. This pontiff, whose own ancestor was Zadok,(3) High Priest at the time of David (1000 B.C.E.), had a son named Yeho-zedek, who was exiled to Babylon when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadrezzar.(4)

    Yeho-zedek himself had a son Jesus(5) from whom the later High Priests of the Temple of the restored Jewish state were, or claimed to be, descended. It was emotively and propagandistically important for later Jewish history that both the names "Zadok" and "Yeho-zedek" were based on the religiously potent Hebrew root "Z-D-K" meaning "Righteousness." This root was also the basis of the word used for the pontifical (High Priestly) class and its supporters in general: Zadduki, known in the New Testament as "Sadducee" (Greek Saddukaioi, Latin Sadducaeus).

    After the end of the Babylonian Exile in 538 B.C.E., the new Judea had no longer had a king. Rather, at this time – the time of Ezra and Nehemia – it had a theocracy patterned on the Persian-Zoroastrian model, with limited autonomy. As mentioned above, the reigning pontifical class was now of the line of Zadok with a "Zadokite" priest at the top.

    But after the Seleucids took over in 198 B.C.E., the cosmopolitan Greek, or Hellenistic, influence began to change Jewish life and culture, including its religion. The conservative and reactionary wing of the Jews, which called itself the "Pious Ones," or "Hasidim" ("Assideans" in Greek, which does not use a separate letter for the "H" sound), a group which had evolved in the preceding century, resisted this development.

    The Zadokite High Priests themselves encouraged this Hellenization. The ex-High Priest Onias (Honi) III was murdered in 171 by the new High Priest, Menelaus, in part because of the Hellenizing activities of Onias’ brother Jesus, also a High Priest, who took the Greek name of Jason. When Jason himself was later deposed from the pontifical office, the Zadokite dynasty’s control of the High Priesthood came to an end. In 153/2 the non-Zadokite Jonathan Maccabaeus (ethnarch 161-142) accepted the pontificate from the Seleucid usurper Alexander Balas, and terminated the Zadokite dynasty in Jerusalem. The Dead Sea Scrolls’ references to the "Wicked Priest" probably refer to this Jonathan. The murdered Onias III’s son, Onias IV, was prevented from regaining the office from Menelaus, and so he moved to Egypt where in 152 he set up his own temple in Leontopolis in the Nile delta under King Ptolemy Philometor (182-146 B.C.E.). This temple lasted until 73 C.E. when it was closed. All this deadly religious turmoil was probably the cause of the origin of the Qumran community,(6) as will be discussed below.

    As for the tension between Hellenism and Jewish arch-conservatism, the breaking point came in 168 when Antiochus IV (175-164 B.C.E.), king of Syria and Palestine, started a radical and too accelerated program of Hellenization of the Jews, which entailed severe religious oppression. He held a military parade in Jerusalem on (of all times) the Sabbath; he replied to the subsequent protests of the Jews with the occupation of the northwest corner of the temple (the "acra," later the castle Antonia); he prohibited Jewish religious observances and forced Jews to attend and perform pagan cultic ceremonies. He also tried to replace the Jewish temple cult with the cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries (involving sexual intercourse between priests and women representing gods and goddesses) and the sacrifice to its idols. In 167 he went so far as to forbid the practice of Judaism under pain of death. On Jerusalem’s altar of sacrificial holocaust, an altar was set up to Zeus Olympus, and pagan sacrifices were offered up on it. This altar of Zeus was called the "abomination of desolation" (Daniel 11,31; Matthew 24,15 & parallels) in the secret code-language of the Jewish Apocalyptic groups (especially of the Essenes, later also of the Jewish Christians). Antiochus IV called himself "Epiphanês," literally "(god made) Manifest."

    In reaction, a Jewish insurrectionist named Mattathias, a priest, and his sons started a revolt against the king. The rebels were strongly supported by the Hasidim. The latter also gave rise, around this time, to the Perusim ("separated ones" or "ones apart"), known in the New Testament as "Pharisees," who leaned toward Zoroastrian doctrinal ideas in Jewish form, and who practiced strict observance of the Mosaic Law.

    From 166 to 161, the third son of Mattathias, Judas "the Hammer" (or "the Maccabee," from Hebrew maqqebet "hammer") led the insurrection against the Syrian overlord. (Since Mattathias’ great grandfather was named Hasmoneus ["Asmonaeus" in Josephus], the rulers of the state resulting from the success of this insurrection were called "Hasmoneans.") As already related, Jonathan Maccabaeus (the "wicked priest" of the Scrolls), another son, took over as head of the Maccabean revolt and led it from 161 to 143/2 B.C.E. His acceptance of the Temple High Priesthood in 152 from the foreigner Alexander Balas, the Syrian-Seleucid ruler looking for Jewish support, who had no right to grant such an office, led to further divisions.

    It is not clear just when the name "Zadduki" or "Sadducee" itself emerged as a term for a religio-political class, but it was probably a result of a revolt against the High Priest John Hyrcanus I (135/4-104 B.C.E.) and the following conflict between him and a certain Eleazar (ca. 110 B.C.E.). The latter demanded a retraction or reduction of Hyrcanus' claim to Moses' ancient triple ("prophet, priest and king") office - legislative prophecy, pontifical honors, and executive rule over the people – that is, being a "prophet like Moses",(7) an arrogation later repeated by his grandson Alexander Jannaeus [76-67 B.C.E.]). The Hasidim and Pharisees strongly supported Eleazar, but were unsuccessful in their efforts.

    The result of this revolt was both a legal reform and a more anti-pharisaic course undertaken by John Hyrcanus I and his descendant, Alexander Jannaeus, both of them "Sadducees."

    Finally the Maccabees won major concessions from Syria, and from 142 to 63 their Hasmonean state enjoyed relative political independence. In 104 B.C.E. it was powerful enough under self-crowned "King" and High Priest Aristobulus I (104-103) to conquer Galilee and even Iturea, some distance to the northwest of Galilee. His successors forcibly converted the conquered territories to Judaism, as Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 13,11,3) reports of his policy in Iturea. This conversion, resulting in a "Stockholm syndrome," blindly pro-Judaic mindset of the (ex-pagan) Galileans, set the stage for the fanatical anti-Roman revolutionary atmosphere in Galilee a century later. Aristobulus I himself was soon killed by his brother Alexander Jannaeus (or even perhaps by his own wife, Salome Alexandra), who took over as High Priest and "King" (103-76 BC) and then married Salome Alexandra.

    It was probably because of the termination of the Zadokite lineage in the High Priesthood and its use as a political plum, that the highly puritanical, Zoroastrianized movement of the Essenes produced a monastic branch. In the words of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the founder (or re-founder) of the Essene community was called the "Teacher of Righteousness." He was a priest, probably a Hasidic and even Zadokite Sadducee, who attacked what he saw as the unholy priesthood in the Temple at Jerusalem. Following Isaiah 40,3, he moved out into the desert at the edge of the Dead Sea in 152 B.C.E. where he founded the monastic Essene Community of Qumran. He was opposed by "the Liar" and the "Wicked Priest" (probably Jonathan Maccabaeus, ethnarch 161-142). In fact, the Teacher may have been the Zadokite candidate for the Temple Pontificate who was prevented from succeeding to the office in 159-152 by his enemy, the "Wicked Priest." (Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Robert Eisenman(8) believes the Teacher was James the Just, but the scholarly community has not adopted his thesis.) It is also possible that, with time, the "Teacher of Righteousness" (Z-D-K) became an archetype and an office – the head of the community – much the way Cyrus the Great became the prototype for the hope, then the conviction, of a future Saoshyant-Messiah.

    Generally speaking, the Essenes believed ardently in the Judaized Zoroastrian concepts imported from Babylon. Although universal scholarly agreement is lacking, the name "Essenes," Greek Essênoi, Essaioi, quite possibly derives from the plural forms hasên, hasayyâ, of the singular hasyâ, the Eastern Aramaic equivalent of Hebrew hasîd "pure," "Hasidean." They had a reputation as (psychic) healers, and the name may have acquired an additional connotation of "healers" (Greek therapeutai). In any case, the religious impact of the Zoroastrian Persian empire on the thinking of the lower classes and even on the lower orders of the Temple priesthood is difficult to overestimate. They had adopted many Zoroastrian religious concepts both from the Babylonian Magi and from those Jews who were descendants of the "exiles" who remained in Babylonia after the end of the forced captivity in 538 B.C.E.(9)

    Whether this community "in the Land of Damascos" (Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Robert Eisenman links the term to dam ha-chos / "blood of the cup") was in fact founded not around 152 but around 100 B.C.E. or earlier/later as a new covenant of "the Sons of Zadok" (Cairo Damascus document III,21-14,4; Ez 44:15) is still being debated. But around 100 the general obsession with "righteousness" (Z-D-K) culminated in the first of many waves of tyrannical "zealotry," not least because of the "zeal" of Alexander Jannaeus (76-67 B.C.E.) and his "lion-wrath" against Pharisaic (i.e., Hellenistic-accommodationist) rebels. He casually had 800 of them ("seekers of smooth things") crucified en mass in 88 B.C.E. for betrayal of the people while he feasted with his concubines (cf. 4Q169 Frg. 4+3 col.I, retrospectively based upon the Temple Scroll [11Q19 col. LXIV,6-13]).

    It was around this time that the phrase "zealous for the Law" also gained currency in the terminology of the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes. The Sadducees, the priestly "Sons of Zadok," were by now hardly more than "spiritual" descendants of Jesus ben Yehozedek and his forerunner, Zadok. The Essenes consisted of the Sadducees’ more puritanical kinsmen, the Zaddikim of the Qumran "monastery" and their secular followers elsewhere. But both parties still formed an anti-Hellenistic, rather homogenous whole, even during the pro-Pharisaic reign of Alexander Jannaeus’ widow, Queen Salome (Shelamsion) Alexandra (76-67 B.C.E.); cf. Dead Sea Scrolls 4Q322 Frg. 2; 4Q324b Frg. 1,ii.

    This changed completely when one of Alexander Jannaeus’ sons, the Hellenistic High Priest John Hyrcanus II (76-40 BC), tried to become king in 67 B.C.E. His attempt caused an uprising which developed into a civil war ending with his capitulation and the crowning of his anti-Hellenistic brother, the High Priest Aristobulus II (67-63 BC).

    Aristobulus was the favorite of the nationalistic masses in Jerusalem as well as of the xenophobic "Sadducees" of the Zadokite movement. The split between these two brothers made a way straight into the heart of Palestine for the Roman legions and marked the beginning of the end of the Maccabean priesthood. The confrontation between the (nationalist) Sadducean party of Aristobulus I and the (pro-Hellenistic) Pharisaic party of John Hyrcanus II resumed in earnest after the latter allied himself with the King of the Nabataeans, Aretas, and with the governor of Idumaea, Antipater (the father of Herod the Great). Together, John Aretas and Antipater besieged Aristobulus in the Temple at Passover in 65 BC. The killing of the widely honored holy man and rainmaker, Honi/Onias the Righteous (the "Circledrawer"(10) ), made things worse; to this was added the intervention of a Roman lieutenant of Pompey, Aemilius Scaurus, invited as arbitrator. But in the end Scaurus favored Aristobulus, so that Antipater and Hyrcanus had to end their siege. They next appealed to Pompey, who was just then conquering Syria (after 64 B.C.E. a Roman province) to the north, offering him a deal he could not refuse: Judea as a subject state of Rome. As a result, Pompey (like Vespasian later) marched into Judea at the invitation of the refugees.

    The subsequent preparations for war by Aristobulus produced a split between the Sadducees. As in the Gospel sayings, the people have to make a quick decision: "His winnowing fan is in his hand; and he will clean His threshing floor (Israel) and will gather the wheat (the elected ones) into His barn (setting them under his protection). But the chaff (the wicked ones) he will burn up with [the] unquenchable fire [of His Law]" (Lk 3:17). The less zealous (or more fearful) Sadducees (i.e., the less nationalistic ones) withdrew from the movement (thereby becoming "collaborators"). These became the "other" Sadducees.

    In 63 B.C.E. Pompey besieged Jerusalem itself and conquered it, killing 12,000 defenders in the process. The Hellenizing John Hyrcanus II was made High Priest (63-40 BC), Aristobulus was exiled, and Scaurus became Pompey’s right hand man; (Dead Sea Scrolls 4Q324a Frg.2 mentions a massacre by Aemilius ['MYLYWS]). Judea was stripped of Galilee and Samaria, reduced to its pre-Maccabean dimensions and placed under the supervision of the Roman province of Syria.

    Slowly the hope for a Saoshyant-like "Messiah" gained in importance among the masses. Several uprisings followed the Roman conquest: Alexander, son of Aristobulus II (57 and 55 B.C.E.); Aristobulus himself (56 BC); and Peitholaos, a follower of Aristobulus (53 BC). Julius Caesar consequently had Aristobulus II and his son Alexander killed (49 B.C.E.). And in 47 B.C.E. High Priest John Hyrcanus II became ethnarch (partly even "king") of the Jews.

    The star of Antipater's sons, Phasael and Herod, was rising; Mark Anthony made both of them tetrarchs. A war against the Parthians soon ended the career of Hyrcanus II. Mattathias Antigonus (the last Hasmonaean ruler) next became high priest and king (40-37 BC). But Herod was proclaimed King by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C.E. He then conquered Jerusalem in 37 B.C.E., thereby putting an end to the last remnants of Jewish self-rule, and ruled as King Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.E.).

    Between 63 and 31 B.C.E., when Khirbet Qumran was unoccupied due to its destruction by fire, the pro-Roman Sadducees became "Hyrcanian" Sadducees and later "Herodian" Sadducees. While remaining devout, they learned to adapt to and depend on the Roman-imposed overlordship, since they were numerically outnumbered by the Pharisees. When Simon ben Boethus became High Priest in 23 B.C.E. they were also called "Boethusian" Sadducees (cf. the Talmudic tradition).

    Nevertheless both parties of Sadducees - the developing "messianic" (Zoroastrianized), oppositional Sadducees (i.e., the Essenes and their Qumran branch) as well as the emerging "anti-messianic," (pro-Hellenic) establishment Sadducees (who would later found the pro-Roman "peace coalition") - had the same Zadokite roots. And as a consequence, the priests of both parties tried to claim descent from David's High Priest Zadok (cf. even Jesus’ ascribed claim to be a "Son of Zadok" in Mt 1:14!).

    In the days of John the Baptist the differences between both wings became exacerbated in the general indignation over the famous Census of Quirinius in 6/7 C.E., that is, over the question of the payment of the Roman tax. The result was yet another uprising: that of Judas the Galilean. At this time the Zealots appear as a guerrilla force; later their extremist wing gave rise to the Daggermen (Latin sicarii, from sica, "dagger"), professional assassins killing not only Romans but also those Jews they deemed to be collaborationist.

    The important thing about the messianics is that all of them, whether Zealots, Daggermen or ordinary Zoroastrianized Jews of the middle and lower classes, moved easily from one category to the other. The disciples of Jesus, for instance, included Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, i.e., modified from Sicarius (the Daggerman). They all hated the Romans, viewed themselves as a divinely chosen master race, and looked forward to the heaven-sent warlord who would wipe out the Romans and give the Jews world supremacy. These messianicists were also often heavily involved in magic and healing by religious (i.e., paranormal) means. The mystics among them developed techniques of self-hypnosis by which they would envision themselves ascending through ever higher heavens into the realms of celestial "palaces" (Hebrew hekalot). The techniques for negotiating these ascents were much later written down in manuals of magic today called "hekalot books." This combination of desperation, a common enemy, religious fanaticism and mysticism eventually became a seething brew which resulted in national suicide and the birth of Christianity.

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    The Herodians

    After Pompey had taken over Jerusalem and Judea, Antipater, whose father was a Hellenized Idumean (i.e., from the southern land of Edom) and mother an Arab, secured for himself the first Roman prefecture over Palestine. He subsequently acquired Roman citizenship for himself and the monarchy over Palestine for his son, Herod I,(11) as well. After the assassination of Julius Caesar two decades later (44 B.C.E.), the Roman ruler, Mark Anthony, helped make Antipater’s son, Herod I ("the Great"), King of Judea.

    As king, Herod then proceeded to kill off the last of the Maccabeans. He married a female Maccabean, the princess Mariamme ("Mary" in English). Mariamme’s mother had arranged the marriage in order to secure the high priesthood for her son Jonathan, Mariamme’s younger brother. This notwithstanding, the jealous Herod had the 14-year-old Jonathan drowned in a swimming pool of the royal palace because the people had wept for joy at seeing him, a Maccabean, clothed in the garments of the Temple High Priest. Therewith ended the Maccabean High-Priestly line. Herod also later executed Mariamme herself on the pretext of her having committed adultery with his brother Joseph while he himself was in Rome being confirmed by Octavius in the kingship which Mark Anthony had secured for him.

    Mariamme had been the granddaughter of both of Alexander Jannaeus’ sons, John Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who had originally called in the Romans in 63 B.C.E. Herod had two sons by her who were reared in Rome and themselves had children. But after murdering Mariamme, he also killed these two sons shortly before his own death, since they were of Maccabean blood and more popular than he.

    In this tormented climate, religio-political groups of every fanatical stripe sprang up. Not just the Essenes, but above all the Zealots and the Daggermen (Sicarii), who waged a constant, low-level but savage guerrilla war against the Romans and the upper-class Jews. This was also the period when the Ebionites ("the Poor Ones") arose, who, after the end of the western Roman empire, were to contribute to Islam. There were also various local warlords who appeared, some of them calling themselves Messiahs. The New Testament itself (Acts 5:36)(12) mentions two of the more infamous ones, Theudas and Judas the Galilean, who are also mentioned by Josephus. The normal Roman response was to capture and crucify them. It was in this constantly worsening climate that Jesus arose. It eventually resulted in the suicidal revolt of the Jews against the Roman empire in 67-70 C.E. Indeed, the land was so entrenched in fanaticism that Palestinian Jews revolted even six decades later, from 133 to 135 C.E., under yet another Messiah, Simon Bar-Koziba.

    In sum, a small upper class of Hellenized Jews, led by the top level of Temple priests (Sadducees) and backed by overwhelming Roman power, had come to dominate a hostile, seething mass of Zoroastrianized, messianic true believers. The latter were convinced that the eschaton, or final stage of the world of evil, was at hand. They expected Yahweh, god of Israel, soon to overthrow the existing world order and make them the overlords of creation. They called this expected state the "Kingdom of Heaven."

    Jesus the Shaman
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    The shadowy figure of Jesus is of immense importance for the history of religions because he was a key figure at a time and place of intense turmoil, a nationwide, religion-steeped guerilla movement which led to the destruction of the Temple of ancient Judaism, the loss of Judean nationality, and the rise of two major religions, one racist and supremacist (based on paranoia) and the other universalist and egalitarian (based on sexual guilt): rabbinic Judaism and Christianity.

    It is very hard to determine the phenomenon of Jesus from the obscure and romanticized picture of him given in the four "canonical" Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.(13) However, taken together with the Gospel of Thomas, found with other Gnostic scriptures at Nag Hammadi in 1945 and published in full translation a third of a century later,(14) plus other discoveries unearthed by modern scholarship, we are now able to locate Jesus more accurately. He belongs in the religious category known in the history of religions as that of the shaman.

    A most helpful aid in the search for the historical facts behind the Gospels and their Christian advertising is the recent work of the "Jesus Seminar," a group of seventy-nine internationally recognized biblical scholars working together on the New Testament between 1985 and 1998. In 1998 they and their chairman, Robert W. Funk, published their results in The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus.(15) This work (hereafter abbreviated as "AJ") condenses a great deal of the foremost research and scholarly interaction of the best minds of the field. If it has any shortcomings, it is only that, as scholars are wont to do, it ignores the field of parapsychology. This is a mild fault, and will be taken into consideration in what follows.

    Jesus was raised in Narareth in Galilee, and most probably born there also (not in Bethlehem in Judea) during the reign of Herod the Great (AJ 507f.). This meant that, while Jewish in religion, he was not a citizen of Judea. Galilee was separated from Judea proper by Samaria, and Jerusalem is about sixty miles (two or three days’ walk) from the nearest point of Galilee. The territory had been forcibly converted to Judaism only a century before (104/3 B.C.E.) by the Maccabean King and High Priest Aristobulus I. In Jesus’ day, it had Graeco-Roman towns in it such as the regional capital of Sepphoris, only four miles north of Nazareth. As a result, Galilee ("of the pagans" – Mt 4:15) had a cultural substratum of pagan-magical religiosity which made it distinctly different from Judea. This was combined with the fanaticism often shown by those forcibly converted (the so-called "Stockholm syndrome") to a new ideology.

    Moreover, in the centuries after Jesus, the East (including Egypt) in general, and Syria above all, produced innumerable desert mystics who mortified their bodies and natural drives ("the flesh") by extreme fasts, enduring severe cold and heat, etc., in an effort to achieve the prized altered state of consciousness thought to be communion with God. This was the environment whence Jesus came and which should be remembered whenever people talk about how "Jewish" he was. He was, in other words, formally and consciously Jewish, but informally and unconsciously pagan and shamanic.(16)

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    John the Baptist

    The narrative of Jesus begins with John the Baptist. The stories about Jesus’ virgin birth, the Magi, his birth in Bethlehem, Herod’s killing of the children in and around Bethlehem, the family’s flight to Egypt and their visit in the Temple are mythical embroidery attached for the sake of religio-literary realism. Like the story of the resurrection, they are pious fiction, occurring mostly only in Matthew. Luke’s story of the visitation of the pregnant Mary to the mother of John the Baptist (Lk 1:39-56) is another literary invention designed to "prove" Jesus’ superiority to John. (Cf. AJ 497ff., "Birth and Infancy Stories.")

    John the Baptist was quite well known in his day – better known than Jesus. Josephus writes that John (Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.2, Loeb 116-119) "was a good man who had admonished the Jews to practice virtue and to treat each other justly, with due respect to God, and to join in the practice of baptism." He explains that Herod the Tetrarch had John put to death at the desert castle of Machaerus (east of the Dead Sea) in order to prevent any insurrection due to him and his great influence over the people. (Josephus’ account of John’s death thus differs somewhat from that of the Gospels, which have John beheaded at the request of Herod’s wife’s daughter, Salome. Cf. Mt 14:3-12; Mk 6:17-29; Lk 3:19-20).

    The actual shamanic nature of John the Baptist is inadvertently revealed in Jesus’ exasperated report of what the unbelieving populace recognized about John: "He has a demon" (Mt 11:18, Lk 7:33; Greek daimónion ékhei, Latin daemonium habet) – also translated as "He is possessed" (by a demon).(17) In modern terms this is to say that John was often shamanically possessed. He could enter the altered state of consciousness in which the personality is dissolved and the human organism becomes a medium for inframental intelligence and transpersonal power. And he could travel "out of his body" to otherworldly realms – to the "Kingdom of Heaven." In fact, according to Matthew 3:1-2, John was the first to preach the message of the "Kingdom of Heaven." (The Jesus Seminar considered both of the "John as demoniac" passages to be Christian inventions, but it nonetheless seems very probable that these passages are based on a popular reputation John had for possession-like states of consciousness, since such states were common among Middle Eastern nabis, or prophets).

    Possession (moderns often call it "schizophrenia") was (and is) contagious among those susceptible to the state. This explains why Jesus did not become active in miracle-working until he had first been baptized by John in the Jordan (AJ 54), on its desert side opposite Judea (Mt 3:14, Mk 1:9-11, Lk 3:21-22, Jn 1:28-34). It was only then that possession ("the Spirit") was powerfully ignited in Jesus, and he was driven into the desert by the demonic intelligence now controlling him (Mt 4:1ff., Mk 1:12ff., Lk 4:1ff.). (The Jesus Seminar, AJ 55, was evenly divided about whether Jesus underwent such a period of testing, but from Jesus’ subsequent career it is likely that the initial possession was so powerful as to be tantamount to a classic shamanic initiation.) This also explains why it was precisely baptism which Jesus took as the ritual of initiation into his own group. And it is an indication that Jesus was originally an understudy of John’s, who was widely recognized as "having a demon" because of his psychic talents. For it was through baptism that Jesus himself had been initiated by this master shaman into the trance state known as the "Kingdom of Heaven" which that shaman had first proclaimed.

    Moreover, the synoptic Gospels (Mt 14:1-1; Mk 6:14-16; Lk 9:7-9) make it clear that early (but post-Easter) Christians thought that what Jesus had been doing was so similar to what his predecessor and competitor, John the Baptist, had done before him, that their evangelists promoted the similarity of Jesus to John into a popular rumor of Jesus actually being John raised from the dead (AJ 87). (Matthew and Luke even have Herod himself subscribing to this view.)

    Finally, early Christian opinion of John the Baptist is shown not only by Synoptic references to John as being the prophet Elias (Mt 11:11f., Mk 9:12f.), but also by their depiction of Jesus as praising John, as recorded in Mt 11:11, where Jesus is trying to emphasize how important the Kingdom of Heaven is: "Truly I tell you, among those born of woman no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." (Cf. also AJ 107.)

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    The Baptisms of Jesus and the Secret Gospel of Mark

    In 1958, Columbia University Professor of Ancient History Dr. Morton Smith discovered at the desert monastery of St. (Mar) Saba in Palestine, not far from the Dead Sea, a copy of a letter of Clement of Alexandria, a second-century leader of Christianity in Egypt.(18) In this piece of correspondence, Clement reluctantly admits to the addressee – an otherwise unknown Theodore – the existence of a secret Gospel which had been composed by Mark in addition to the Gospel known to Christians in general (the "canonical" Gospel of Mark). Clement is anxious to deny, however, that the secret Gospel revealed homosexual rites ("‘naked man with naked man’ and the other things about which you wrote") performed by Jesus. And the letter contained an excerpt from this secret Marcan addition.

    The Jesus Seminar (AJ 116f., essay "Secret Mark") suggests that Secret Mark was the original draft of the Gospel of Mark, and that the canonical Gospel is an abridged version of that original. Secret Mark yields the passage:

    "When evening came, the young man [whom Jesus had raised from the dead] went to him, dressed only in a burial sheet (sindon). He spent that night with him, because Jesus taught him the mystery of God’s dominion."

    This excerpt holds the key to understanding the formerly enigmatic passage in Mark 14:5 about the events surrounding Jesus’ arrest:

    "And a young man was following him, wearing a burial sheet over his nude body, and they grab him. But he dropped the burial sheet and ran away naked."

    In other words, Secret Mark reveals that Jesus was arrested in the midst of teaching the "mystery of God’s dominion" to an initiate attired for the ritual of this initiation.

    Together, Secret Mark and canonical Mark thus reveal that the baptism which Jesus himself administered was a magic ritual similar to those found in the mystery religions of the time. In it, the initiate "died" through symbolic drowning (baptism, which involved total immersion) – hence the burial sheet, which was undoubtedly removed for the immersion proper. Jesus then "taught him the mystery of God’s dominion." That is, he induced in him an altered state of consciousness in which Jesus fused with his soul and body ("naked man with naked man") and hypnotically transformed his consciousness into an ecstatic union with the All –  the state of "God’s dominion" (usually translated "kingdom of God").

    The discovery of Clement’s letter on Secret Mark set Professor Smith on the path of investigation of the source of the magic and sexual libertinism found in so many early Christian sects, especially those cultivating the ideology of Gnosis. Gnosis was a religio-philosophical movement found to some extent in heterodox (non-standard) Judaism, but mainly in Christianity before the middle of the second century. He found its source in Jesus himself. In short, the orthodox form of "Christianity" was only one of the developments which sprang from Jesus the shaman.

    In order to understand the mysticism of the shaman as a category, it is necessary first to understand something of the nature of the human soul and the inframind which gives rise to it.

    In the view taken here, the soul is a memory-field of a nature vaguely similar to, but not identical with, electromagnetism (and therefore also with the "strong" and "weak" forces of particle physics). When the brain is active (i.e., fast brainwave frequency), it takes information from the outside world and feeds it into the body and its memory-field, the soul, and thence into the inframind, or soul of the universe. When the brain is passive or dormant (with slow or absent brainwave activity) as in sleep, meditation, trance or the Near-Death Experience, there can, under indeterminate circumstances, be a "backwash" of information from the inframind into the soul.

    This is the basis of "psychic" or "paranormal" experiences.

    The brain is a mysterious organ. In spite of amazing advances in brain research over the past half century, we are still far from understanding how thought comes about. We are gaining greatly in knowledge of the architecture and conveyance mechanisms of the brain, but we have little understanding of how or what business is transacted in it. (Naturally most neurologists take the mechanistic view that thought is "nothing but" biochemical processes, but this is to be expected, given the never-questioned ideology of their training.)

    We do know that, in general, the healthy brain acts as a "reducing valve" on the information flowing into it from all sources, whether "normal" or "paranormal." It abstracts only the information necessary for life and brings it to momentary awareness. In a way, the rest of the body can be viewed as a mechanism of support for the brain. (This is the basis of the modern biological theory of evolutionary epistemology, which sees evolution as a learning process.)

    We are unable to tell what thoughts actually consist of, because the real action in the brain occurs on the levels of electromagnetism and quantum mechanics, and all of our current research techniques are much too coarse for such fine-grained material. We know in general that, in humans, consistently fast brainwaves in certain areas are associated with higher intelligence, while lower brainwave frequencies are associated with stupidity, mental torpor and also psychic abilities.(19)

    In other words, the brain accepts information either from the body (in faster brainwave modes), or from the inframind (in slower modes). Normally, fast brainwaves drown out signals from the slow brainwave functions. At all times both forms of input are operating; the brainwave frequency of certain areas determines which source is dominant and in consciousness.

    In psychic individuals and mystics generally, and in shamans in particular, the input from the inframind is not drowned out and blocked, but is accepted and filtered for relevancy, and the filtrate then presented to consciousness.

    The ability to do this seems to require a certain dissociation within the personality and the brain. Hence shamans are often judged by ignorant outsiders to be schizophrenically "insane" or suffering from some serious psychological defect. These outsiders do not recognize the vital social roles of shamans within the tribe. Such erroneous judgements are often made because the outsiders’ own (fast-brainwave) societies no longer have a recognized role for psychic healers and those with other paranormal abilities.

    Up to now, scholars have been unable or unwilling to recognize that altered states of consciousness are not necessarily the result of mental illness, drugs or intoxication, etc. Even less have they been willing to recognize that such states played a critical role in the actions of Jesus and of "charismatic" earliest Christianity.

    But in recent decades, research on the Near-Death Experience (NDE) has made us aware of these lesser-known abilities of the brain (especially the right temporal lobe) and soul. By "soul" ("psyche") is meant the inframental (or "morphic field") aspect of the brain’s electromagnetic and quantum-mechanical functioning. (Another finding is the soul’s amazing knowledge of, and ability to cure or impair, the body.)

    The reports from those who have been through an NDE are frequently, but not always, reports of incredibly ecstatic mental states, far beyond sexual orgasm or drug-induced "trips." They amount to a seizure of the soul by a cosmic love and intelligence undergirding the universe. They most frequently involve visionary elements of religious nature, presented in archetypes and pictorial "language" drawn from the local culture of the experiencer. And they often confer the benefits of health, meaningfulness, and psychic abilities (precognition, telepathy) on the experiencer.

    This is the state of mystical awareness that first John, then Jesus preached as "God’s dominion" (alias the "Kingdom of God" or "Kingdom of Heaven"). It was the focal point of Jesus’ whole being, and he spent his secret moments initiating his disciples into it. And it is also whence Jesus derived his "Buddhist-like" ideas of morality ("Turn the other cheek"; "Love your enemies"; etc.) Later, after his death, the movement derived from him no longer taught the Kingdom of God; it taught the divinity of Jesus himself. Jesus interpreted the mystical state, from which his powers and his prophecy derived, in the Zoroastrian-Jewish terms of his own culture. Later, after he had become worshipped as a god, he was himself portrayed in the religious terms of whatever culture worshipped him: in other words, as an archetype of the self.

    A mystifying characteristic of the inframind is that, from our "thisworldly" point of view, there is no time or space to it. Everything is here and now. Furthermore, all psychic abilities of psychics, mystics, shamans, mages, witches, etc., are reducible to a single ability: thought transference, also expressed as "morphic resonance"(20) between two or more entities. This also accounts for both possession and reincarnation, which are variations of one another. (Reincarnation is just the possession of a fetus or newborn by a previously existing but discarnate intelligence.)

    Thus when the woman with the 12-year-long, incessant menstrual bleeding, in a state of expectant receptivity, touched the hem of Jesus’ garment (Mt 9:18-26; Mk 5:21-43; Lk 8:42-48), Jesus’ soul-power flowed out from him into her and cured her instantly. She had identified herself totally with Jesus, thereby initiating a state of morphic resonance between herself and him. This unblocked her own unconscious and opened her to the healing action of the focussed inframind flowing through Jesus. The notable thing about this is that, although he was being pressed and jostled by a throng of people, he immediately felt the transference of part of his own soul to someone else: Luke (8:46) has "Somebody touched me, for I sensed power (Greek dynamis) going out from me." It is the ease with which this dynamis flows into and out of the shaman that makes him (or her) so remarkable. He can often direct it (and it can often direct him). This cannot occur in most of us, who lack both training and ability.

    The Jesus Seminar (AJ 80, 185, 298f.) denies that Jesus felt psychic power flowing from himself. But their denial seems to derive mainly from their preconception that telepathy is impossible. In reality such sensations are not only possible but common among those who are psychically sensitive, as Jesus was.

    A yet more intense form of this "transfer" of psychic influence is seen in possession and exorcism. In possession, a weak or inchoate brain is invaded by the soul of another. This "other" may be living or dead. Spirits may even possess animals – note the possession of a herd of swine by the "legion" of spirits (actually souls of the dead buried in the nearby cemetery) exorcised by Jesus from the Gadarene(21) demoniac (Mt 8:28-34; Mk 5:1-20; Lk 8:26-39).

    There is no way of knowing how many of the "miracle" stories in the Gospels are attributable to Jesus. Many of them may be recollections of the deeds of other magicians/shamans of his day, attributed to him because, for various reasons, he was more notable. Nonetheless, many of these reports have parallels in the annals of psychology, parapsychology and anthropology. The Gospels are conglomerates of stories and sayings meant as propaganda targeting the first-century Mediterranean mind, and are not accurate reports. Thus each small unit must be evaluated by itself, not just as a part of a chronicle of some kind, since the Gospels are not history.

    As indicated above, dissociation (splitting) of the personality is a strong aid to the acquisition of mystical faculties. The normally integrated mind keeps all visionary and paranormal inputs and impulses under tight control, prohibiting anything it deems improper from reaching consciousness. Dissociation is sometimes achieved deliberately by subjecting one’s own body and mind to extreme stress. The Near-Death Experience is a good example of this. Many people who have had an NDE become slightly dissociated by whatever caused them to almost die, and in consequence often have mystical experiences and healing abilities. The extended wandering in the desert (or period of severe psychosomatic stress) to which the "spirit" drove Jesus (i.e., it possessed him, Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13) intensified and perfected a dissociation process already begun.

    The classical definition of a shaman is one who, by one technique or another, reduces his brainwave frequency to almost nothing, thereby entering an altered, ecstatic and otherworldly state of consciousness. In this state, he (or she) is able to see his own body from the outside, to change dimensions of perception and to visit, e.g., the realm of the dead, the gods or God, etc., then to return to standard consciousness with paranormally obtained knowledge and healing powers useful for his community. In the modern age, we find this ecstatic process randomly occurring in those who nearly die, where it is called a "Near-Death Experience" (NDE). (In some of the cases of reincarnation detailed by Ian Stevenson in his Reincarnation and Biology,(22) the "reincarnees" report at 3-5 years of age some of these features as having occurred to them upon their deaths in their former lives.) Another, and very famous, exemplar was Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), a simple, uneducated American psychic who would enter into trance states during which he would speak as an oracle, giving correct diagnostic answers and prescriptions to those seeking medical help, healing countless people.

    As mentioned above, mystics among the ancient Jews of Jesus’ time had developed techniques of self-hypnosis by which they made "ascents" to the celestial realms and visited the "palaces" (hekalot) found there.(23) By late antiquity they had written down detailed descriptions of these ascents in books now referred to as "hekalot" books. Such techniques were widely used in many different forms in antiquity.

    And the Essenes, as already explained, had a reputation as "healers." By this is not meant some kind of twentieth-century physician with a university degree and associated with a hospital. Rather, they were what we would today call "witch doctors," "medicine men," or "psychic healers." That is, they used psychic techniques, or magic, to cure and sometimes to harm. And they too must have been using self-hypnotic techniques of "ascent" to the heavens.

    Jesus was this type of healer, even though not an Essene. He had gone through his period of initiatory stress, perhaps in the desert, was able to cure many types of illness just as modern shamans and psychic healers can, and had the ability to possess other people just as shamans do. He undoubtedly had visions and apparitions (even though the Jesus Seminar [in AJ 167f.; 55; 272f. and, for the source, "Q," of Matthew and Luke, 41-50] interprets as storyteller inventions the specific descriptions of Satan/the devil tempting him in Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13, or the passage, Lk 10:18, in which Jesus reports having watched Satan fall as lightning from heaven).

    In John 3:13, which the Jesus Seminar (AJ 374ff.) treats as evangelical fiction, Jesus is portrayed as speaking of his "ascent" to heaven: "No one has ascended to heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man."(244) Although this specific report may be an invented one, it can hardly be doubted that both Jesus and the early Christians – here, the Johannine community – experienced such "ascents." Moreover, Jesus could heal possessed ("schizophrenic") people by exorcising their possessing spirits (or alternate personalities).

    For Jesus lived in an age when modern consciousness was just emerging for the first time, and there were many people whose brains were susceptible of possession by such psychic forces. In addition, the Jews of ancient Palestine were under intensely and horribly traumatic conditions of all types: religious, political, social and military.

    The Gospels portray Jesus as proclaiming the "Kingdom (better: "Dominion" or "Rule") of God," (or "of Heaven") a term also used by the anti-Roman revolutionaries of his time to describe a paradise of Yahweh-supported Jewish world domination after a doomsday war with Rome. In the interpretation of the early Christians, the "Kingdom of Heaven" was not something in the future, nor was it something that could be seen visually, but a state present within the individual (cf. Luke 17,21, "The kingdom of God is within you"). It was accessible through the magical techniques of his special baptism followed by a hypnotic ritual involving, among other techniques, erotic magic.(25) This simple fact, however, had to be kept secret because of the obvious negative reactions it would bring forth in those unprepared for it. Cf. Matthew 13:10f.: "And his disciples came up and said to him, "Why do you instruct (the crowds) only in parables"? In response he said to them, "You have been given the privilege of knowing the secrets of Heaven’s imperial rule, but that privilege has not been granted to anyone else."

    Commenting on Mt 13:10f., the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar (AJ 202) "doubt that Jesus gave his disciples a private interpretation so that outsiders would not know what he was talking about." This "doubt" is a major error of the Seminar, and is based on their refusal to recognize the shamanic nature of Jesus and the originally very private ritual of baptism – which Paul calls a "mystery" in Col 2:11f.; on this, see Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria, p. 183 and generally. On the contrary, not only the Secret Gospel of Mark but the entire early history of Christianity is centered around the performance of secret rites: baptism above all and, to a certain extent, the Eucharist. Moreover some of the early Christian groups, and especially the Carpocratians of the late first and early second centuries, are known to have been associated with libertinistic practices. Professor Smith demonstrates convincingly that these practices originated with Jesus.

    The "Kingdom of God," for Jesus, was not some poetic metaphor of the type so beloved of modern liberals. It was, rather, the experience of the shamanic "trip." All of his miracles and his sayings (those that have not been changed or invented by the later Christian church) come from this. In general, considering that every shaman is intimately bound by his own culture and time, Jesus’ words and miracles were really two sides of the same coin, and cannot really be separated. Both were expressions of one and the same shamanic-otherworld experience as integrated with that of his own local society.

    As explained above, the techniques of self-hypnosis and ascent to the Kingdom of God with its "palaces" were later recorded in manuals of mysticism today known as "hekalot" books (from Hebrew hekal "palace," plural hekalot). These handbooks describe the various levels of the heavens through which one had to rise. The gateway to each level was guarded by a supernatural entity whose name had to be known and uttered in order to proceed, a process also found in other shamanic traditions. The Apostle Paul refers to such an ascent of his own in 2 Corinthians 12:2, where he reports having been taken up to the "third heaven." (His epistles, as the rest of the New Testament canon, are silent not just about the techniques of such ascents, but about the role of sex mysticism, perhaps similar to what is called kundalini in Tantric Yoga, in this altered state of consciousness. For the vast majority who remain unaware of this role, all such "heavenly" talk is strictly metaphor about some possible future state if they live well-behaved lives and obey the current political authorities.

    But Jesus himself was using shamanic hekalot techniques to induce hallucinations into his disciples and to take shamanic/psychic possession of them. Possession is a psychic, mystical and religious phenomenon known everywhere and from prehistoric times. The condition often manifests itself as a parapsychological aspect of schizophrenia, or "split personality." (It is only in the mechanistic modern age that recognition of possession has been suppressed by people who deny the existence of disembodied intelligence.) The possessing spirit may be that of a dead person or persons (as in the case, discussed above, of the "legion" of the dead souls of those buried in the cemetery who kept the "demoniac" restricted to living among the tombs where their physical remains were [Mark 5,1-20; Luke 8,26-39]). Or it may be the soul of a living person (as witches in Tibetan culture). In the case of Jesus and his baptismal initiation ritual, possession by his spirit was apparently facilitated by his practice of anal intercourse with the initiate after baptism. (Anal intercourse has been a common male homosexual practice in the Middle East from the most ancient times until now.) Among some of the later Christian Gnostics (until ca. 200 C.E.), this practice seems to have been expanded to encompass vaginal intercourse in order to include female members in the movement.

    It should be noted at this point that about three quarters of the population of the Roman Empire, including Judea, consisted of slaves. Furthermore, male homosexuality was very widespread, and boys were commonly used as sex slaves by their male masters, especially in the East. (As just stated, male homosexuality is to this day an accepted part of the cultures of the Islamic countries of the Near East, as anyone familiar with those cultures knows.) The New Testament has a good deal of invective against extra-marital sexual intercourse with women. But it says virtually nothing about the practice of anal intercourse between males. This is amazing, considering how widespread it was.

    Professor Morton Smith explains the role of Jesus’ initiation ritual ("mystery") and his psychic possession of the initiate as follows:

    "Thus from the differences between Paul’s baptism and that of the Baptist, and from the scattered indications in the canonical Gospels and the secret Gospel of Mark, we can put together a picture of Jesus’ baptism, ‘the mystery of the kingdom of God.’ It was a water baptism administered by Jesus to chosen disciples, singly and by night. The costume, for the disciple, was a linen cloth worn over the naked body. This cloth was probably removed for the baptism proper, the immersion in water, which was now reduced to a preparatory purification. After that, by unknown ceremonies, the disciple was possessed by Jesus’ spirit and so united with Jesus. One with him, he participated by hallucination in Jesus’ ascent into the heavens, he entered the kingdom of God, and was thereby set free from the laws ordained for and in the lower world. Freedom from the law may have resulted in completion of the spiritual union by physical union. This certainly occurred in many forms of Gnostic Christianity; how early it began there is no telling."(26)

    Professor Smith footnotes (ibid.) the "unknown ceremonies" with the following:

    "To judge from the hekalot and Qumran texts, the magical papyri and the Byzantine liturgy, these will have been mainly the recitation of repetitive, hypnotic prayers and hymns. The magical tradition also prescribes, in some instances, interference with breathing. Manipulation, too, was probably involved; the stories of Jesus’ miracles give a very large place to the use of his hands."

    He reiterates later:

    "A peculiar feature of the ancient techniques for ‘ascent’ was that they provided for the initiation of others – the magician could take a pupil along on his ‘trip.’ Jesus therefore developed the Baptist’s rite by adding to it an ascent into the kingdom, which gave his followers supernatural powers like his own and freed them, too, from the law. Finally, he added another rite, derived from ancient erotic magic, by which his followers were enabled, they believed, to eat his body and drink his blood and be joined with him, not only because possessed by his spirit, but also in physical union.

    "By use of these rites Jesus made himself the center of a libertine circle."(27)

    The secretive nature of Jesus’ baptism, and its original restriction to men, strongly suggests that the hypnotic repetition and physical manipulation were centered on anal (and perhaps oral) intercourse with the initiands.

    The central Christian rite of the Eucharist (lit. "Thanksgiving"), even though it has parallels in other mystery religions, must have originated with Jesus (cf. M. Smith, Clement of Alexandria, p. 218), as 1 Corinthians 11:23 reveals. Its wording is most suspicious: "Eat my body! Drink my blood!" Only ancient erotic magic parallels this, as Smith points out.

    Finally, Jesus, whose thinking was completely otherworldly, became exasperated by the materialism he found within the Temple precincts, and moved to purge it of its non-spiritual aspects. He moved into the Temple and disrupted its commercial operations. This was not easy. The ("Second") Temple, started by Herod the Great from 20/19 B.C.E. and not yet finished by the time of Jesus’ death, was of enormous size: over 200 yards wide and 450 yards long, it covered a 35-acre area equal to 24 football fields – twice as large as the Roman forum. It had administrative buildings, houses for the staff which numbered around 20,000, offices, stables and various courtyards. It was a marketplace and the primary bank for the easternmost part of the Roman Empire, and held vast deposits of money and precious metal. As with other great shrines of the Hellenistic east, it used the banking system of Babylonia, which Alexander the Great had conquered and absorbed. It was protected by a Roman cohort of 500 to 600 soldiers, plus their support staff. In addition, the Temple had its own police force strong enough to manage the large flow of people; this guard was undoubtedly reinforced during the Passover season with its masses of pilgrims from everywhere. During that season the Romans must also have increased the strength of their garrison, especially to deal with the religio-political agitation so common at that time of year.

    The Gospel of Mark, traditionally held to have been completed about 70/71 C.E. in Rome just after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the earliest of the four Gospels, describes this "purging of the Temple" which brought about Jesus’ crucifixion by the Romans:

    They come to Jerusalem. And he went into the temple and began chasing the vendors and suppliers out of the temple area, and he turned the bankers’ tables upside down, along with the chairs of the pigeon merchants, and he wouldn’t even let anyone carry a container through the temple area. Then he started teaching and would say to them: "Don’t the scriptures say, ‘My house is to be regarded as a house of prayer for all peoples’? –but you have turned it into ‘a hideout for crooks’!"

    And the ranking priests and the scholars heard this and kept looking for a way to get rid of him. (The truth is that they stood in fear of him, and that the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.) And when it grew dark, they made their way out of the city. (Mark 11:15-19 and parallels)

    About this, the Jesus Seminar(28) agreed on three separate occasions over ten years, with over 100 scholars participating, that the first half of verse 19 is true: "They come to Jerusalem. And he went into the temple and began chasing the vendors and shoppers out of the temple area." However they were less sure about the exact details of what Jesus did, precisely because the Temple area was so large and well policed. While Jesus undoubtedly disrupted some of the commercial operations, the scholars doubt he could have done so to all of them because they were too many and too spread out. It is probable that Jesus inveighed against the commercialization of the Temple, but exactly what he said is unclear – the biblical quote ("My house is to be regarded as a house of prayer….") is a later insertion by the evangelist.

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    The End of Jesus

    Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting. "Here is this man working all these signs" they said "and what action are we taking? If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy the Holy Place and our nation."

    Gospel of John, 11,47f.

    Thus when Jesus invaded the Temple, he put himself at war with the Temple priests and their party, the Sadducees. It is useless to debate whether the "chief priests and the Pharisees" really did say that they were in danger of having the Romans come and destroy their Holy Place and their nation (John, 11,47f.). It was a mere fact that this would occur, as the Roman obliteration of the Temple in 70 C.E. proved.

    The actual arrest of Jesus is a matter of confusion among scholars. Some think it likely that he was arrested in the temple immediately after his "cleansing" of it and that there was no "Gethsemane" action at all. The Jesus Seminar (AJ 144) reports its results:

    In sorting through the immediate sequence of events and after examining the larger picture, the Seminar came to this conclusion: The temple incident, the handing over of Jesus, and the arrest were linked. The temple incident is what precipitated the action against Jesus. Some person or persons must have assisted the authorities either in identifying Jesus or in locating him at the time of the arrest. Jesus was arrested and summarily executed.

    Everything else in the "Gethsemane" passage (i.e., especially the "agony") is regarded by all or most of the scholars as fiction.

    In the Gospel accounts, the Temple authorities, the Sadducees allegedly bribed a member of Jesus’ inner circle, Judas, to lead them to Jesus so they could capture him.(29) Judas then led them to the one place most secret to that circle: the place where Jesus conducted his nightly baptisms and accompanying mystic-erotic rituals - alongside the brook Kedron at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The Gospels call the location the "property called the ‘Olive Oil Press’" (Aramaic/Hebrew "Gethsemane").

    On that fateful night, Jesus was initiating a young man as a new member there. The Olive Oil Press "khôrion," or estate, is mentioned only in Matthew (26:36) and Mark (14:32). John speaks of a "kêpos," which means "orchard," "plantation" or "garden," although "garden" is usually used to translate the word in English. What John was really talking about was an olive orchard, but since a large section of the Mount of Olives must have been covered by such an orchard or "garden," "kêpos," is not very specific. Unless, that is, he was referring to a place of particular importance in olive farming. Since Jesus and his men frequented it "often" (Jn 18:2), that place was almost certainly not a "garden" in the cold, open air. Rather, indications are that it was the large cave used for olive processing not far from the Kedron brook. The cave was (and is) complete with a water-filled cistern ideal for Jesus’ nocturnal baptisms of initiands such as the naked youth (Mk 14:51f.) later caught draped with only a linen burial sheet (Greek sindon).(30) Sindon, by the way, is the same word Matthew (27:60), Mark (15:46) and Luke (23:53) used for Jesus’ burial sheet. Jesus’ baptisms were symbolic deaths and resurrections. Hence the need for a burial sheet.

    The so-called "agony in the Garden" is a fictionalized cover-up by the evangelist for what was really going on: the initiatory baptism. According to the Gospels, Peter, the two sons of Zebedee, James and John were left a stone’s throw away from Jesus and told by him to keep watch. Several times, it is said, they fell asleep and Jesus returned to wake them and tell them to keep on guard. Unfortunately they fell asleep again. Then, in the middle of the night, the traitor Judas arrived leading an armed group from the Temple (or, barely possible, the Roman garrison, but not both). They interrupted Jesus’ initiation ritual and, after a brief scuffle, seized Jesus. They also grabbed his youthful partner, who was draped only in the burial sheet required for the death-and-resurrection drama of the baptismal ritual, but he wrested himself free and ran away naked, leaving the burial sheet in their hands (Mark 14:51f.). Some scholars think that this naked man was also the one who wrote the original Gospel, in Aramaic, which was the main source (German Quelle, "source," often referred to as "Q") of all the synoptic Gospels.

    Even if the "arrest in Gethsemane" is itself fiction, the baptismal initiation ritual is a cultic activity that Jesus started and must have performed on his many recruits to introduce them to the Kingdom of God (the realm of shamanic perception). Its rather obscured placement in the narrative of Jesus’ arrest, together with Secret Mark, links the mystical death and resurrection of the new Christian with the literal death and posthumous apparitions – the seeming "resurrection" – of Jesus. In the original Gospel of Mark – the Secret Gospel – this narrative of "double" death and resurrection was probably read at the baptism of a new convert, perhaps especially at the Easter Vigil.

    The Sadducean clique first held a perfunctory hearing on the captive who had so disrupted their Temple, then handed him over to the Roman prefect (praefectus), Pontius Pilatus. He accepted their accusation and, without any trial (a fabrication by Mark, then the other evangelists after him – AJ 146ff.), pre-emptively crucified him as a troublemaker. The Gospels differ on when Jesus was crucified. John’s Gospel has him killed on Nisan 14th, while Mark (whence also Matthew and Luke) puts his death on Nisan 15th. At least one of these dates is therefore wrong. It was the year 30. He died after only a few hellish hours on the cross, say the evangelists, between two "thieves" (perhaps Zealot revolutionaries, since crucifixion seems rather severe for mere thievery, even by ancient Roman standards).

    As the Gospels portray it, to speed the executions up and get everything done before the beginning of the Passover at nightfall, the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two "thieves" to accelerate their deaths by asphyxiation – actually an act of mercy on the part of the Romans. (The crucified men could no longer push themselves up to breathe.) Jesus they found already dead, so a soldier speared him through the heart for good measure. All of these items are suspect. The evangelists, writing from four to seven decades later, had no idea what actually happened once Jesus was fixed to the cross. They invented these details out of their knowledge of actual crucifixions and their inspiration by Zechariah 12:10: "They will look on him whom them have pierced." (AJ 438f.)

    One possibility is that the Romans threw all three bodies into a lime pit to make sure the bodies were consumed by the lime. (Although we know that thousands of people were crucified by the Romans, only a single find has ever been made of a corpse remnant with leg bones nailed to a piece of wood. Lime ate up all the rest.) Another is that they laid them in a shallow grave covered with rocks so that the dogs and birds could get at them.

    That was the end of Jesus. And there was no bodily resurrection of this famous Jewish shaman. The Gospels tales about such a resurrection are simply lies.

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    If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.

    - 1 Corinthians 15:17

    With the death of Jesus begins the religion of Christianity, even though it took a number of years before the members of the movement he started were called "Christians." It began, more specifically, with visions of the dead man by the former disciples: Cephas (presumably the same as Simon Peter), Jesus’ own brother James, then others (1 Cor 15:7, written perhaps around 56 C.E.) in group apparitions. And with these hallucinations began the lies. They were lies that Jesus had risen bodily, in flesh and blood, from the dead, not just as a vision.(31) The lies were even elaborated in the Gospels (mostly written after 70 C.E.) with tales about an "empty tomb" being found by various women, depending on the Gospel. It was a tomb which was being watched over by one or two angels in or just outside of it, again depending on the evangelist. Matthew even invented a fable about a small force of the Temple Guard being posted outside the tomb to prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing his body. He has an angel appearing at the moment of a severe earthquake, rolling back the stone and sitting on it, whereupon the men faint for fear. All lies. As the book jacket for The Acts of Jesus puts it: "The empty tomb is a fiction – Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead."

    The Jesus Seminar (AJ 461) sums up the view of modern scholarship:

    And (AJ 533) repeats almost verbatim:

    "On the basis of a close analysis of all the resurrections reports, the Seminar decided that the resurrection of Jesus was not perceived initially to depend on what happened to his body. The body of Jesus probably decayed as do all corpses. The resurrection of Jesus was not an event that happened on the first Easter Sunday; it was not an event that could have been captured by a video camera.

    "The Seminar concluded that it does not seem necessary for Christians to believe the literal veracity of any of the later appearance narratives."

    The final result of the Jesus Seminar is the discovery that the foundation of Christianity is not the resurrection of a dead man but the experience of an altered state of consciousness in which a person is seized by a paranormal ecstasy called the "Spirit." (Jesus called it the "Kingdom of God," or "Dominion of God," etc.) It was an experience in which, frequently, the subject perceived its own soul, or Self – the "lens" through which the divine All is seen – , as Jesus - as in modern Near-Death Experiences. To have laid this foundation, Jesus must have been a shaman.

    In contrast to the Jesus Seminar we are convinced that Jesus’ main success was as a teacher of the alternate states of consciousness. In these, through homosexual and erotic rituals preceded by symbol-laden baptism or eucharist, initiates were possessed by his spirit and by means of this possession ascended to the heavens and the heights of preternatural ecstasy accompanied by visions. It helped greatly if they were schizophrenic to begin with, since this facilitated the personality dissociation necessary for such visions. But once they had learnt the techniques of ecstatic vision, they could generate these states themselves.

    It must be understood that, to the ancient eastern mind, sexual copulation, orgasm, ejaculation and conception were mystically identical with the "burial," hence "death," of the plant seed in the ground (the womb of the earth), followed by the "birth" (germination) of a new plant. In Middle Eastern magical thinking, plant, animal and human life were all thought to produce new life by dying, and were believed to be essentially the same "recycling" process. This was the thinking behind Jesus’ ritual of baptism probably accompanied by anal intercourse, and then perhaps also his own surrender and willing submission to death by crucifixion. Certainly it is the interpretation given to his death in the Gospel of John. It was part and parcel of the death-and-resurrection sex magic whose rituals and incantations are found in other texts from that time and place. (Compare the Eleusinian mysteries in which a priest and priestess copulated ritually to evoke the lifegiving powers of Demeter, that is, De-Meter "Earth Mother.")

    After the trauma of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, these altered states of consciousness began happening to his followers spontaneously. They "saw" Jesus in the same way that many practiced meditators "see" various gods, people or other supernatural beings in their meditation. Dr. Raymond Moody, a psychologist and Near-Death researcher, has developed a modern form of the ancient Greek psychomanteum,(32) or room in which to have communications with the dead. It is a simple, dimly lit room with a comfortable chair and a large mirror slightly above head level of anyone sitting in the chair. Dr. Moody takes primarily patients who are suffering from grief over the loss of a loved one. After a day of allowing the client to wander quietly around a pleasant rural estate and talking with him or her about the lost one, usually towards evening he introduces the individual to the room. The patient sits in the chair and, in perfect silence, looks into the dark mirror for as long as he or she likes. In about forty percent of the cases, the patient will, after half an hour or so, see faces and visions of the dead or others in the mirror, and sometimes even go into the mirror to communicate with them.

    Something very much like this happened on a much more intense level with the grief-stricken followers of Jesus after his death. They had been initiated into shamanic states of consciousness by Jesus and possessed by his spirit. Many others, including women, had been exorcised by him of demons (e.g., Lk 8:2; Mk 16:9 and similar passages). In fact, exorcising demons had been a major activity of Jesus. In effect, the exorcisms were reconfigurations of the soul, in which his shamanic possession of others recharged their souls and made them whole again. (Modern clinical psychology, with its mechanistic world view, denies that such things are possible. This is one reason why, despite its many drugs and medicines, it cannot cure most schizophrenia.)

    The tendency of Jesus’ followers to personality dissociation and their susceptibility to "possession" (by disembodied souls or by Jesus) made them true believers in the power of his spirit. While he was alive, the ecstatic, healing possession they experienced was attributed to him. After his death, however, the process of sudden psychic reconfiguration (now minus the erotic elements) became detached from Jesus and came to be attributed to the Holy Spirit (Spiritus Sanctus in Latin or Holy Ghost in traditional English), an agency of its own.

    According to Acts 2:1-4, on the Pentecost after Jesus’ death there was a crowd of followers in a single room when they suddenly experienced possession as a group. It was contagious to those susceptible to it. As Professor Smith writes (The Secret Gospel, 117):

    "The stories of his [Jesus’] disciples’ sudden, total abandonment of their ordinary lives to follow him (Mk. 1.16ff; 2.14; Jn 1.43) probably reflect the same power [of Jesus over schizophrenics] and indicate an instability in the disciples’ characters that explains why they yielded to possession by Jesus in baptisms. Their baptismal experiences will in turn explain the possession of whole groups of them by his spirit after his death. Such group schizophrenia usually begins with individuals in the group; their visions and other symptoms are contagious – cf. the history of the witchcraft trials. Mass conversions followed. Both converts and the original followers, when they went abroad, communicated the psychological infection to the circles they formed in other provinces. Paul presumably caught it in Jerusalem; his first serious attack occurred while on the way to Damascus; he later spread the symptoms through Asia Minor and Greece.

    "This explains why the spirit is identified with Jesus, as it is by Paul (I Cor. 6.17; 15.15; II Cor. 3.17f). Jesus had originally been the source of these experiences. When the sudden, discontinuous changes of personality, originally connected with him, recurred as a group phenomenon in the circle of those who had depended on him for such excitement, he was of course supposed to be the cause. But this was a historical inference. As time went on and personal memories of Jesus faded, the spirit became an independent personality like the "demons" of the demoniacs; it pushed Jesus aside. This can be seen happening already in Paul. For, unlike Jesus, the spirit was alive and present. It spoke to the churches, did miracles, was the source of wisdom, and guide of private life. (Apoc. 2.7ff; I Cor. 12.8ff; Gal. 5.18ff; etc.)


    "Once the group phenomena got under way, they radically changed the character of the sect. Psychological contagion reportedly made converts of thousands at once (Acts 2.41; 4.4). The outer circles of the Christian complex were vastly enlarged, whereas the innermost circle, those who had received the secret baptism, been admitted to the kingdom and freed from the law, must have grown very slowly."

    This made baptism into a perfunctory ritual which could be performed quickly, with no sexual component, and en masse. Whereas Jesus had required a full night for each initiate, the streamlined version took only a few minutes and could encompass many converts.

    Eventually people started coming into the new sect for other reasons having nothing to do with the Spirit. And thus the Spirit itself became rare as time went on.

    However, the need to deny the libertinism of the early Christian inner circle, together with the fanatic asceticism ("mortification of the flesh") of many early mystics, led to a concentration on the evil of the "flesh." Extramarital sex (especially between man and woman, although homosexuality is not much mentioned) was condemned as the horror of horrors. Eventually this led to the development of the primary psychological mainstay and motor of Christianity: guilt, especially sexual guilt. Ever since the time of Paul, all branches of Christianity have unceasingly hammered into their believers the idea of the "sinfulness" of human beings. Christendom even took an obscure myth in Genesis about the loss of a supposed paradise as the basis for claiming that all humans were born with an "original sin" derived from that "fall" – which, according to the myth, occurred because of the effort to gain more knowledge! (Depth psychology interprets the myth of the primordial "fall" as mankind’s emergence to consciousness and consequent loss of childlike "innocence.")

    Perhaps the chief heirloom Christianity received from ancient Judaism was the tendency to project this "sinfulness" onto opponents, and to identify them with supernatural evil – with devils or the Devil. This enabled Christians to kill such opponents while feeling really good about doing so. They convinced themselves that they were not killing human beings; they were killing the abstract essence of "Evil." The history of America and its major wars, the logical consequence of this religiously inherited disorder, is totally dominated by this.

    These psychological mechanisms – contrived guilt and the demonization of opponents – are the true reason for the bimillennial hold of Christianity over the Western mind. And they have been integral to the religion from the time of Paul on.

    Before the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., Christianity was headquartered in Jerusalem under Jesus’ brother, James the Just. Robert Eisenman, James the Just, pp. 166ff., is probably correct in suspecting that the reported election of an otherwise unknown Matthias to take the place of the suicide Judas Iscariot (= Sicarius ["a member of the Sicarii {Daggermen}"]?) is actually a cover-up of the election of James the Just as head of the Christian community. This is made even more plausible by the fact that the other candidate in the election was another unknown, Joseph, "who was called Barsabas, with the cognomen of ‘the Just’" (Acts 1:23).

    Almost immediately this led to a split. Under James’ heavy-handed leadership, pagan converts to Christianity were forced to become Jewish, which meant circumcision for the men and observation of the innumerable purity laws for both sexes. He and the nationalist Jewish Christians viewed the "Hellenists" – Paul and to some extent Peter – as paganizers. An unexplained persecution (Acts 12) by Herod Agrippa 1 (41-44 C.E.) of the postmortem followers of Jesus caused Peter to leave Jerusalem (Acts 12:17) permanently. Acts 12:2-3 states that Herod’s killing of James the brother of John by the sword (one of Jesus’ original followers, cf. Mk 3:17, 5:37) "pleased the Jews" – which then led him to arrest Peter. The pleased "Jews" were probably the "circumcisionist" legalists under Jesus’ brother James (so M. Smith, The Secret Gospel, p. 122), Peter’s rival for leadership in the infant "church." Peter is later found in Antioch, while James ruled in the doomed city of Jerusalem.

    Finally in 49, a "council" was held in Jerusalem over this issue of Jewish Christians versus uncircumcised Christians (Acts 15). Peter came down from Antioch,(33) where he had been for years; Paul, too, was present. James presided. Under unclear circumstances Peter was apparently and for good forced out of the Christian areas controlled by James: out of Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor.

    Having been ousted from Jerusalem by the circumcising Judaizers, in the early 50s Peter emigrated to Rome and took over the leadership there, thereby beginning the papacy. In Rome there was much greater freedom to include pagan converts in messianic Jewish circles without forcing Pharisaic Judaism and circumcision on them. Nearly a decade later, as a result of similar conflicts over Judaization with James and the "circumcising" Jerusalem leadership, Paul, too, was physically attacked in Jerusalem and escaped only by claiming Roman citizenship. This eventually led to his transfer to Rome (ca. 60/61 C.E.), where he stayed under house arrest for two years. Thus early Christianity came to have two centers: Jerusalem (James) and Rome (Peter and Paul).

    According to Eusebius’ quote of Dionysus of Corinth (ca. 170), Peter and Paul were both later martyred under Nero, perhaps as late as 67 C.E. Paul, a Roman citizen, was beheaded. Tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down. James, on the other hand, was stoned to death in Jerusalem around 65.

    The letter of Clement found by Professor Smith says (Clement of Alexandria, p. 446),

    "As for Mark, then, during Peter’s stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord’s doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven veils. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries."

    A most significant statement in this quote is that Mark wrote his Gospel ("an account of the Lord’s doings") before Peter’s death. This would mean that the original version, "Secret Mark," was not written in late 70 or thereafter, as most scholars claim, but considerably before Emperor Nero’s death in the year 68 (June 9). The martyrdoms of Peter and Paul seem to have come about because Nero made the Christians scapegoats for the Great Fire in Rome in 64 C.E. Moreover, the extra-canonical letter of 1 Clement (4-5) indicates that internecine Jewish rivalries also played a role in their deaths, and it is quite possible that these rivalries were connected with the same exclusivist, "circumcisionist" Jewish fanaticism which led to the Zealot revolution in Judea. (Almost certainly false, however, is the legend that Nero’s conspiratorial wife Poppaea, whom he kicked to death while pregnant in 65, was a strong friend of the Jews and Judaism.) Hence the Gospel of Mark was substantially complete by 67 C.E. at the latest. If its references to the destruction of the Temple do not come from Jesus himself but were added (by Mark or others) after that destruction in 70, they may have been added at the time the canonical (i.e., abridged) Gospel took its final form, whether in Alexandria, Egypt or in Rome.

    The population of the eastern Empire seems to have had a love-hate relationship with Judaism, to judge both from the persecutions of various Jewish communities and the existence of large numbers of "Godfearers" near ancient synagogues. At first, the pagan world had difficulty distinguishing between Jews and Christians. But as the decades passed and the Judaeo-Christian split widened, universalist Christianity, absorbing many pagan practices from the mystery religions, became increasingly attractive to the masses, while Judaism, with its constant revolutions and insurrections, alienated them.

    Moreover, from the very beginning Christianity had a social program of caring for the poor, the sick, widows and the old, as well as for the maintenance of the church itself (the "brethren" or "saints" in Jerusalem) – cf. Acts 11:29f.; Rom 15:26; Gal 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1-3. This program far outstripped anything the state was doing in this area. And for this reason alone, Christianity attracted large numbers of people who would never otherwise have become Christian. Paul himself complains about busybody freeloaders in 2 Thess 3:10ff., and tells his readers not to give food to those who shirk work. Christian welfare programs acted like a magnet.

    In addition, literacy was necessary for Christians to read the sacred scriptures – originally the Old Testament, then the New. When much later the emperors began banning Christians from government office, they discovered that there were few pagans who could read well enough to take the vacant jobs.

    In short, history and human desires and needs were on the side of Christianity in the usually tolerant, open-minded and relatively enlightened Roman Empire. In Persia, by contrast, with its rigorous and closed Zoroastrianism, Christianity had limited success and eventually came to a dead end.

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    The Death of Judea.

    When the Zealots in Palestine took over and rose up against the Romans, the Empire struck back and ground Judea, Jerusalem and the Temple into the dust. With that, the battle over circumcision and the Judaization of pagan converts to Christianity was decided in favor of the Petrine and Pauline view and against that of James. The Jews revolted against the Empire twice more after the destruction of the Temple: in 115-117 and 133-135 (the latter was led by the last "Messiah," Simeon bar Koziba (called bar Kokhba, "Son of a Star").

    Bar Koziba was little known until the most influential Jew then alive, the celebrated teacher and rabbi Akiba ben Joseph (ca. 40-135), head and founder of the Jewish academy at Bene Berak, officially recognized him as the Messiah. Ben Joseph altered Bar Koziba’s name ("Son of Kosiba") into Bar Kokhba ("Son of a Star"), thereby using the "Star" prophecy about the Messiah to whip up support for Bar Kokhba. Ben Joseph was successful. Isolated pockets of insurrection among the Palestinian Jews had arisen against the Romans under the emperor Publius Aelius Hadrian (reigned 117-138), in revolt against (among other things) the latter’s decision to build a new city called Aelia Capitolina (after his own clan name, Aelius) on the site of the then desolate Jerusalem, and to populate it with Roman gentiles. These pockets of resistance came together, and almost immediately Bar Kokhba had 200,000 men under his command.

    The Roman general Julius Severus came in with a large army and gradually destroyed the insurrectionists in a war fought with great bitterness and ferocity on both sides. Severus recaptured Jerusalem, and the remaining Jewish contingents made a last stand at the fortress whose ruins are now known as the "Ruins of the Jews" (Khirbet el-Yahud). After this final stronghold had been wiped out, and the remnants of the rebels had fled to the wilderness near the Dead Sea, Jews were forbidden to set foot in Jerusalem, and prohibited from practicing circumcision or religious observance of the Sabbath. Palestine was nearly depopulated of Jews (although Christians could come and go freely). Jerusalem itself was renamed Aelia Capitolina. The temple of Yahweh was rededicated to the cult of Jupiter. And a temple of Venus, it is said, was built on Mount Golgotha. Palestine was renamed Syria Palaestina, and was from then on under the jurisdiction of the Roman province of Syria. Exit Judea from world history.

    Two centuries later, in 363 C.E., the Neoplatonist emperor Julian the Apostate (331-363; reigned 361-363) tried to check the spread of Christianity. He rescinded the edicts of Constantine against the Jews and, in the last six months of his life, undertook to rebuild the Jewish Temple, apparently as a refutation of Christianity. His untimely death at the town of Maranga on the Tigris River (363 June 26) and the return of Christianity to power under his successors ended his plans. According to the pagan Roman soldier and historian Ammianus Marcellinus (ca. 330-95), the Temple-rebuilding project itself was halted by divine intervention:

    "Thus while [Julian’s friend] Alypius worked energetically on the project with the help of the governor of the province [of Palestine], terrifying balls of fire, breaking out near the [Temple’s] foundations in frequent eruptions, made the place inaccessible to the workers, a number of whom were burned to death. And so, because of this stubbornly repellent force, he terminated the project."(34)

    This report, true or not, was naturally interpreted by the Christians as divine judgement on Julian’s attempt to defeat the prophecy of Christ regarding the obliteration of the Temple.(35)

    By the time of the Bar Kokhba insurrection in 133-135 the Christians had long since irrevocably severed their ties to Judaism (which they called it the "synagogue of Satan" - Apocalypse 2:9, 3:9). The annihilation of Judea meant that Christianity from now on had free rein to adapt and grow as it found best.

    Nowadays there is a strenuous effort on the part of many, perhaps most, New Testament scholars to discover just how "Jewish" both Jesus and early Christianity were. They make every effort to show that Jesus was just a thoroughly orthodox Jew (whatever that may have meant in the chaotic early first century C.E.). This "re-Judaization" of Jesus and early Christianity is driven in part by the Zeitgeist of ecumenism on the one hand and the anxiety of the scholars to prove themselves non-anti-Semitic on the other.

    But such an effort deliberately plays down: (1.) the vicious, internecine divisions within ancient Judaism itself; (2.) the shamanic, otherworldly ("Kingdom of God") message of Jesus which entailed a very sharp break with the legalisms of the Torah and the whole Judaic obsession with ritual purity; indeed, it ignores the marginality of Jesus’ "Jewishness" in "pagan" Galilee and his social abnormality; (3.) the fierce struggle of the early Christians to free themselves from the tyranny of James the Just in Jerusalem and his ideological descendants through the end of the second century; and (4.) the early Christian drive to blend sacramental rituals from the Greek mystery religions into the new synthesis they were building; and (5.) finally, the general Jewish non-acceptance of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Besides the fact that it was obviously the Jewish authorities themselves who apprehended Jesus and turned him over to certain death at the hands of the Romans, there is also no doubt that, often, Jews who did not accept Jesus tried to stir up persecutions against Christians (cf., e.g., Acts 18:12 for an early example). The charge that such Jews belonged to the "synagogue of Satan" (Apoc 2:9; 3:9) is clear evidence of this unbridgeable canyon between Pharisaic Jews and early Christians after the destruction of the Temple in 70 (in the so-called "sub-apostolic" age, 70-100). This split goes back to Jesus himself – Jesus the shaman, not "Jesus the Jew" - with his anti-Torah statements about freedom from the Law (Torah). Absolutely nothing is to be gained today by trying to paper over those ancient differences. Not even for fear of the Jews (Jn 7:13; 9:22; 19:38; 20:19).

    After the end, not only of the Sadducees, but of Judea as a Jewish homeland, the initiative in Jewish affairs passed to the rabbinically led Jews in the Diaspora, especially to the Jews of Babylonia, outside of the Roman Empire altogether. These Babylonian Jews, who were heavily influenced by Zoroastrian dualistic and apocalyptic ideas, were the ones who, around 500, set down in writing the encyclopedia of Judaic legalism known as the Babylonian Talmud, an immense corpus of Persian-Jewish lore developed between 200 B.C.E. and 500 C.E.. This work has greatly influenced Judaism over the centuries, and modern Judaism cannot be understood without recognizing the Talmudic lens through which orthodox Jewry sees the world.

    For the Jews, the ultimate effect of this whole process was the establishment of a culture whose underlying psychodynamic is paranoia. The incessant attempts of the Jews to conquer the world and the resultant failures led to a siege mentality of hatred toward all non-Jews and prevented the dissolution of Jewry. This is what drives Judaism to this day. It is the real reason for the undying propaganda about "The Holocaust" and the drive to extort money from all and sundry organizations and nations which might have been in existence at the time the Jews were personae non gratae in Central Europe. It is also the reason for the Jewish legal murders of untold numbers of Palestinians in the Near East today – to which American Christians prefer to turn a blind eye. There are few enormities which Jewish paranoia cannot justify.

    In the last two centuries, orthodox Judaism has been modified by two main splinter groups: Conservative Judaism and Reform (liberalizing) Judaism. All three branches are intensely devoted to Zionism – the support for a renewed Jewish homeland in Palestine, which they claim to have achieved with the state of Israel. However, since there are no longer either Sadducees or Temple, the most that can be said is that international Jewry (the "Diaspora") is no longer a religion but a primarily political culture. This culture has influenced the nations of the West, and above all America, to impose a colony of Zionists by force upon an Arab people, the Palestinians, who long ago moved into the depopulated land of Palestine, and whom the Zionists dispossessed of their land. It is thus foreseeable that, when the immense power of America finally ebbs, the descendants of the dispossessed will deal with the Zionists in the way the Zionists have dealt with them.

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    The Spread of Christianity.

    Christianity grew steadily after the annihilation of Judea. The erotic and mystical elements stemming from Jesus seem to have lasted longest in Egypt. But after the middle of the second century, they were overwhelmed by the vast numbers of ordinary, non-mystical converts from paganism. The moral Stoicism preached externally by Paul, much in vogue in the Empire as a whole, combined with an anodyne message of charity towards all and obedience toward the government, became the Christian ethic. It appealed to slaves, who constituted about three-quarters of the Empire’s population, since it promised heaven after this life if they obeyed their masters here. It absorbed the rituals from the mystery religions so popular in Greek-speaking regions, and it reflected perfectly the general religiosity of the Mediterranean mind of the time. Nonetheless, it still had a great deal of competition from the indigenous pagan religions.

    Then came the Dominate.

    Until approximately 235 C.E. the Roman Empire had been in reasonably good shape economically and militarily. However the Empire’s main source of growth income had been the plunder from conquest, including the slaves thereby acquired. As the period of explosive growth ended in the first century B.C.E. and the era of slow growth, then stagnation, succeeded it, the government began taking every possible measure to retain its control. Chief among such measures were debasement of the currency, expansion of the military budget, and an increase in taxation.(36)

    Nonetheless, the economic decline continued. In the fifty years after the death of the emperor Severus Alexander (222-235), the Empire nearly came apart. There were about twenty emperors ruling amidst general military anarchy. Finally in 284 Diocletian (284-305) rose to the throne. While the army had consisted of 300,000 soldiers under Severus Alexander, it was 400,000 when Diocletian came to power. He and Constantine (312-337) further expanded it to between 500,000 and 600,000. The currency continued to be debased in order to help pay for this and other imperial expenditures.

    In the search for political support, both Diocletian and Constantine solicited the help of the religions. Diocletian favored the old Roman religion and even instituted the last persecution of Christians in 303, which soon came to nothing. The religion of Mithraism, whose chief god was a Romanized version of the ancient Iranian Mithras, and which bore many similarities to Christianity except that it was relatively small and confined to men alone, played an important role in supporting the state, especially among soldiers and merchants. Both Mithraism and Christianity as well as other mystery religions had incorporated many elements both from one another and from other religions. Christianity, for instance, assigned the birthday of Christ to December 25, which just happened to be the birthday of the Unconquered Sun, Mithras. Unlike many of the older, localized religions, they were not bound to any particular city or locale, and tended to be "catholic" in religious appeal.

    Finally Constantine, on the eve of the battle of the Mulvian Bridge (Rome’s northernmost bridge over the Tiber) against Maxentius, in the reach for supreme imperial power, conveniently had a vision directing him to become Christian. According to the story, he saw a cross superimposed on the sun and heard the words, "In this sign thou shalt conquer."(37)

    Constantine’s personal beliefs, apparently combining a view of the sun as Christ with the theology of the Christian "heretic" Arius, were unimportant. For the Christian – now Catholic – Church was by this time quite well organized and able to eliminate splinter groups from its ideological body. Constantine’s main aim was to create a religious force which could unite the Empire against its external foes, and in this he succeeded well.(38) In 325 he backed the Council of Nicea, from which the famous Nicene Creed of Catholic Christianity is descended, and the structure of the belief system was turned against the very Arianism Constantine himself had embraced.

    Thus from 325 on Christianity was the Church Triumphant. It had by then developed a theologically consistent ideology implemented by a well-structured hierarchy based on the model of Roman management. It modified and continued the culture of classical antiquity and promoted literary and religious learning. Its missionary work, while not free from serious flaws, was an endeavor unparalleled in scope and effort in the history of mankind. As history has proved, it was able to survive even the collapse of the Roman Empire and to form the historical basis for the much later Western Civilization of Europe. And, also later, it produced what we today know as science.

    Finally, on the psychological and parapsychological effects of Christianity: a matter of extreme importance today is the fact that in the Near-Death Experience (NDE) as experienced by those who have been raised in Western culture, quite often there is a vision of God as Jesus, the risen Christ. This happens regardless of religion: many Jews, for instance, have visions of Christ in their NDEs.

    The reason for this is that, in the West, Jesus has long since become the archetype of the Self, and it is the Self which one encounters in Near Death. We absorb our history into our very souls. Nothing shows more clearly than this that the cultural "DNA" of Western Civilization is Christianity, and that the decline of this religion will entail the disintegration of that civilization. For good or ill, this is simply the way things are.

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    The Germanic Peoples.

    In the year 257, a band of Danubian Goths, the Visigoths, plundered Asia Minor and carried off some of the Greek-Christian inhabitants of the town of Sadagolthina in Cappadocia (central-eastern Turkey). One married couple among the captives had an offspring who married a Goth and parented a half-Greek, half-Gothic son named Wulfila ("Little Wolf"), a person of profound importance for later European history. Like his Greek grandparents, Wulfila was a Christian, and specifically an Arian Christian who believed in a three-tiered godhead. In Wulfila’s deathbed credo, he confesses a God the Father who was unbegotten and supreme, and who begot God the Son, who was subject to the Father while being Lord and God of human beings, and the unique creator of the world. Hence God the Father (the "top god") was the God of the god of men ("dei nostri est deus"). The Holy Ghost, in Wulfila’s belief, was neither God nor Lord, but a sanctifying and illuminating power.(39) Thus the Arianism spread among the Goths differed considerably from the Catholic belief that Father, Son and Holy Ghost were all just different – and equal – consciousnesses or "personae" of the single and only God. But, as we shall see, the Arian ideology was better suited to converting the Goths to at least some version of Christianity.

    Wulfila became a bishop and, as ecclesiastical head of those Goths who had accepted Arian Christianity, he and the scholars under his direction translated the Bible from Greek into Visigothic, the western dialect of the Gothic language.(40)

    Before Christianity, the Goths, like the Germanic peoples generally, had cultivated shamanism. Their belief regarding the overarching power of the universe was that it was impersonal, in contrast to the personal God the Father of Wulfila’s religion. The modern English form of the name of this power is Weird, loosely translated as "Fate." The apparitions which are usually called "gods" in modern English were roughly equal to what Christianity, Judaism or Islam would call "angels." These "gods" were divided into different classes. A god of the most important type was called an ansus (plural ansjus); the modern English form would be Oose, plural Eese. This word originally meant "post, pillar" but, because the Gothic religious statuary consisted mainly of wooden posts carved with effigies of these supernatural beings, the word had also come to mean, as the Gothic historian Jordanes writes, "demigods" (semidei). And finally, it was from the prestigious Goths in the southeast of Europe that the cult of Wodan (Woden, Wotan, Odin) spread to the north and northwest.

    Wodan was the chief of the Eese. This name, Wodan, was originally a title meaning "chief or master (-an) of those who are wod." Wod itself meant "(shamanically) possessed," and is used in Wulfila’s Gothic Bible to describe the Gerasene "demoniac" of Mark 5:1-20 who lived naked among the tombs, was constantly howling and gashing himself with stones, and had preternatural strength. Such behavior is not too different from that reported about shamans and their altered states of consciousness around the world throughout history.

    This possessed state was also one of the mental modes of the feared berserkr warrior of the Goths in battle. It was the shamanic trance state; and Wodan thus meant, freely translated, "Master of Shamans." The Goths were thoroughly familiar with all of the powers of shamans, and the Gospel stories of Jesus’ miracles held few surprises for them.

    Wulfila, with his Arianism, was thus able with relative ease to substitute Christ for Wodan. He retained as much as possible of the native religious vocabulary: For the word "cross" he used "gallows" (galga), the tree to which the novice shaman was bound during his initial plunge into the inframental depths. "Yule" (Jiuleis), the name of the heathen land-blessing festival, was used for "Christmas." "Hell" (halja), meaning simply "the underworld of the dead," came to be used for "the place of punishment for the wicked."(41)

    Particularly interesting is the word for "god," guþ in the nominative and accusative singular, gud- (pronounced "guð-") in all other cases. The form of this word is neuter, which is what it originally was in pre-Christian Gothic and remained in proto-Norse. It had originally meant the impersonal "power" usually associated with an Oose or demigod. But Wulfila used it to translate the masculine forms of the Greek (ho) theós and Latin deus, both meaning "god." Thus in the Germanic languages the word originally meaning "the it-power" came to signify "the he-God."

    For many other terms specific to Christianity and ecclesiastical organization, however, Wulfila simply imported the Greek or Latin term (with Gothic spelling) directly into his translation. Thus the efforts of this single individual laid the foundation for the religious vocabulary and thought categories of the entire Germanic-speaking world for many centuries to come. Many of the other Germanic tribes followed the lead of the Goths and became Arians, but the powerful Franks (the chief West Germanic group) became Roman Catholics, which determined the future branch of religion in the Latin-influenced regions of Europe from the sixth century on.

    Since Christ took the place of Wodan (Old High German Wotan, Old English Woden, Old Norse Odin, etc.), Wodan himself, so abhorrent to Christians, became a non-god and disappeared completely from the religious pantheon. More than any other god of the Germanic peoples, he was totally and completely converted into the Christian god, Christ, as warlord and shaman. The first Christian poems and epics in the oldest Germanic languages portray Jesus as the head of a group of warriors in the manner of Wodan, albeit a pacified Wodan.

    Among the Slavs in eastern Europe, Saints Cyril (826/7-869) and Methodius (ca. 819-885), missionary brothers from Saloniki, later accomplished feats of conversion similar to what Wulfila had wrought among the Germanic peoples; they invented the "Cyrillic" alphabet to bring writing to the Slavs, who at that time spoke what is today called "Old Church Slavonic." In this way Christianity became the common religion of Europe.

    The main cultural difference between the two branches of Catholicism was that the Church in Western and Central Europe maintained the Latin language as the ecclesiastical and administrative tongue throughout its area of influence, while the East converted everything into the vernacular of the local country. This had the effect of giving Western Europe a common language for intellectuals, while Eastern Europe had no such international means of communication and remained largely isolated from the intellectual exchange of ideas which such a common language made possible.

    However Christianity did not spread to the north through peaceful missionary work in the way most Christians are taught today. Rather, it was promulgated largely by the sword, followed by clerical propagandists.

    It must always be kept in mind that the reason Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire was because of its political usefulness, not for any other reason. The fact that it was based on a patently false mythology was unimportant to the emperors, kings and princes who used its exclusivist claim to be the one and only source of "truth" as justification for wars, killing and deportations, and extending their power. That great champion of Christian "truth," Charlemagne, for instance, mass-murdered 4,500 infidel Saxons on a single day in 782. He also deported countless thousands of them to areas far from their homelands. The medieval Christian records are full of stories about missionary saints desecrating heathen holy places and even building churches on top of them. On the other hand, Charlemagne repelled the Muslims in Spain and prevented them from taking over Europe, which would have aborted the later development of science and ended history.

    Demonization of heathen practices was used consistently as a tool for Christian creedal tyranny and material gain. Even in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, women and some men and children were being burnt at the stake or drowned for being "witches" and worshippers of the "devil." (Every non-Christian supernatural entity was called a "devil.")

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    Meanwhile, various Jewish sects such as the ancient Judean Ebionites ("the Poor") had also spread out from ancient Judea and become universalists preaching a watered-down version of Judaism to the Arab peoples. After the decline of Roman power among those peoples, Muhammad (570-632) arose, a man who, like many others of his time and before, had visions telling him to spread this simplified ideology as the word of God. He took as his holy book a lectionary ("Quran"). Early Semitic alphabets have no vowels, only consonants, and the vowels have to be supplied when reading. The same text, thus, can often be read in different ways. It turns out that the Quran, when given the right vocalization, consists largely of Old Testament passages, and probably came to Islam through groups like the Ebionites.

    Islam was a religion of war. It exploded with enormous fury on the now weakened, older empires. Within a century of Muhammad’s death in 632, Islam had conquered the whole area from Spain to northwestern India, including all of North Africa, where Christianity had long since become splintered into many different competing sects. Only the ideologically unified Byzantine Empire was able to withstand its powerful momentum.

    As the driving psychological force of Christianity is guilt and that of Judaism is paranoia, so the motor of Islam is the urge to a dominance-submission hierarchy (found among all social animals). For its first eight centuries Islam was driven purely by conquest, and slaughtered more people than any other ideology before the rise of Communism. However Islam, too, fulfilled an important historical function by bringing the Sankrit numbering system to the West, so that we now call these numerals "Arabic" numbers. (The Graeco-Roman system of using letters to signify numbers made it very difficult for calculating.) This, and Arabic mathematical achievements (cf. our loanwords "algebra" and "algorithm") allowed mathematics to develop in the Christian West among the Schoolmen of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The latter, who for religious reasons viewed the world as the "Logic" (or "word," Greek logos) of God, began to use the new mathematical tools to investigate what they saw as the divinely logical structure of nature.(42) And therewith the basis of science was laid.

    However after Islam had completed this function of transmitting these tools to the West, it began to stagnate and retreat intellectually. From the thirteenth century on it contributed little of value to the rest of the world. Aside from Communism, it has remained the most inflexible and bloodthirsty of the world’s religions.

    The Reformation
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    In 1054 the Byzantine and Roman churches split over primarily cultural differences, which today appear to be trivial but at the time were magnified by arrogant bureaucrats on both sides. While the schism was not very injurious to Roman Catholicism and the West, for the Byzantine Empire it later proved to be disastrous, since the West refused to help the Byzantines in their death struggle against the Muslims.

    But the political arrogance of the Roman papacy and its corrupt material greed finally drove the peoples of northern Europe to revolt. In 1448 Johannes Gutenberg produced the first copy of the Bible (the Vulgate) to use his new movable type. Two years later, in 1450, large numbers of scholars were driven from Constantinople by the Turkish conquest and found refuge in western European universities. From that time on, learning of all types began to expand exponentially in the West. Among many other things, scholars discovered that the nature and operations of the Roman Church were far removed from the original Christianity they saw in the Bible, and German princes were extremely irritated by the loathsome taxes they had to pay to the Italian church lords for religious salvation.

    The result was a revolt, usually dated to the time of Luther’s publication of 95 theses against the Church’s sale of indulgences (forgiveness of the punishment due to "sins") on 1517 Oct 31. His protest spread quickly, and soon all over northern Europe "Protestantism" sprang up. Understood in its basics, Protestantism was and is the effort to eliminate all religious elements and hierarchy developed after the last book of the New Testament (the Apocalypse, or "Revelation") was written. In effect, Protestants sought, and seek, to become Messianic Jews.

    The abolition of an official papacy led to the rise of many groups which claimed to have the pure truth, and rejected all of the others. It also led to extreme branches such as the Puritans, who left Europe and England for North America where they founded what they thought would be a new, utopian Christianity unsullied by papist or monarchical interference. To the primary psychomotor of guilt, Protestant Christianity added oedipalism: the rejection of the role of the father and all patriarchal authority. The final logical consequence of this anti-father drive, its historical expression, is the United States of America, which was founded by Protestants under heavy influence from the descendants of the Puritans. Despite protests to the contrary, in the U.S. "freedom" at its most fundamental level actually means freedom not only from obedience to the father, but from assumption of the paternal role and responsibilities, and from cultural traditions as well.

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    The Rise of Liberalism

    With the excesses (e.g., witch trials and religious wars) of the Reformation behind them, intellectuals in Western Europe and especially France became disgusted with the corrupt religio-political brew which suppressed thought and independence of every type, and oppressed society with terrible taxation. While England let its dissenters emigrate to the colonies, continental Europe outside Spain had no such outlet. Eventually, in 1789, the intellectual, economic and political pressures erupted in a massive, near-genocidal revolution in France. Millions were murdered by revolutionaries simply for living in the wrong place at the wrong time. The convulsions led to a dictator by the name of Napoleon, who turned all of Europe into a war zone for a decade and a half. But the anti-monarchical attitude remained and gave a great boost to egalitarianism.

    The Jews, who had usually been considered outsiders in Europe, were allowed to gain control over the popular culture through the newspapers. Their traditional antipathy to their host cultures began to reveal itself in particular through the rise of the socio-economic doctrines of the German Jew, Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883). Marx called for a revolutionary socialism resulting in a utopia of equality of everyone. Jews everywhere embraced Marxism as the means to gaining political power. Although it had no god and was proclaimed to be "scientific," Marxism was actually held with religious fervor and motivated by jealousy. Through a complex series of events the Marxists, supported with might and main by the Jews in Russia and America, in 1917 took over Russia and instituted a control system which resulted in the deaths of perhaps 200 million people in that country alone, and many more in other countries, especially China.

    A modified socialism emerged in the United States under the name of "liberalism." It resulted in part from the old Puritan hatred and intolerance of the "impure," such as slave owners and economically self-sufficient women accused as witches, and in the mystical belief of many immigrants to North America that they were creating a new "Holy Land." As the Jews took over the publishing and mass media business in America, the underlying hatred was turned against the white race as a race, and the term "racist" was made into a vile epithet directed against Whites who were proud of their genetic heritage and wanted to keep it. Christian guilt was used as the justification for this hatred: Whites were supposed to be "guilty" because they were white and non-Jewish.

    In sum, the religious cultures of Judaism and Protestantism joined in an attitude and movement of antagonism to the Northern European form of mankind, and now seek to do everything possible to destroy the White race and terminate evolution. We are now far advanced in this program. This joint, "melting-pot" antagonism, misnamed "liberalism," seeks to avoid partiality to any particular religion. For this reason it has eliminated all overtly religious components (which are always religion-specific) and in practice embraces atheism, except for propaganda purposes. In effect, liberalism is a kind of Protestantism without God, a guilt-based "irreligion."

    There are other quasi-religious movements as well. The politically most important of these is Freemasonry, a secret "brotherhood" which adopted some of the outward trappings of the ancient Cabiroi, members of a mystery religion centering on the Egyptian goddess Isis during the days of the Roman Empire. (Mozart’s beautiful opera, The Magic Flute, is an allusion to this.) The upper echelons of this international organization are intensely anti-Catholic and threaten death to anyone who reveals their innermost cult secrets. (The famous German dramatist, Friedrich Schiller, 1759-1805, was murdered by fellow Freemasons for divulging such secrets.) The Freemasonic pyramid with the "all-seeing divine eye" at its peak appears on the American dollar bill as a sign of Freemasonic political power in the U.S. (Also, many U.S. presidents have been Freemasons.) Freemasonry, ostensibly devoting itself to "doing good," is committed to bringing about the dissolution of the White race through racial miscegenation. Its rationale for this is that total racial miscegenation will, Masons believe, end "prejudice" and war. In common with the true believers of other ideologies, Freemasons are unable to see the falsehood of this rationale. Their organization, which is extremely friendly toward Jewry and Zionism, has concentrated especially on achieving power in Western Europe. (Dark blue is its "color," and is used also as the background color for the flag of the European Economic Community.) Thus many modern European businessmen and statesmen, covert Freemasons – especially Germans –, tend to be almost frenetically integrationist, "anti-fascist" and for European political union. Despite its tremendous political-economic success, however, Freemasonry is intellectually vacuous. As with most other ideologies, it is little more than an excuse for establishing and maintaining political control over other people.

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    In sum, the religions emanating from the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean in general have become ideologies of political influence and control whose ultimate end is the racial destruction of the White race. Simultaneously, they have ceased to be vehicles of access to the paranormal underpinnings of human existence. Although they still hold many millions of adherents, these religions do so through the force of habit and social bonds, not by means of any inherent validity. With few exceptions, the theologians of Protestant Christianity (and some of Catholicism) no longer believe its central myth: the resurrection of a dead man as a god or God. For this European religious system, truly, as Friedrich Nietzsche said long ago, God is dead.

    For the thinking person, then, what is there to satisfy the religious impulse – the spirit? The answer is this: existence is much broader than what can be apprehended only through the physical senses alone. There is an unseen aspect to the universe which we call the "paranormal." This "paranormal" is a universal intelligence which our pre-Christian forefathers considered impersonal and the Middle Eastern religions of late antiquity, personal. These designations actually correspond to the different levels of human consciousness attained by the different societies – northern European and Graeco-Roman – during the Roman imperial period when Christianity, "orthodox" (Talmud-oriented) Judaism and the precursors of Islam were taking form.

    The fact is that this vast, universal intelligence forms itself into the visible cosmos and channels the evolution of that cosmos. In biological forms it incarnates itself into ever more intelligent creatures, at whose apex stand humans. Only a couple of millennia ago we became conscious. Recently we have developed science and technology, in continuation of this progressive incarnation of intelligence, today known as "evolutionary epistemology." Individual human consciousness is thus the result of the self-unfolding of the universal intelligence. Since consciousness is personhood, and since we perceive and relate to the universe only with and through our own consciousness, it is religiously appropriate for us to recognize the universal intelligence, the cosmic inframind, as another intelligent consciousness: as God the person.

    This recognition is a major psychic achievement of Zoroastrianism and its western daughters which first took this approach. By way of contrast, Buddhism, which seeks to negate the personhood of the individual, also refuses to address the cosmic inframind as a person.

    Christianity is based on God as the image of man – specifically one man, Jesus. It is unimportant that this image is surrounded by many untrue and mythical cult fictions. The image – which is really the Self of the individual – allows a praying person to adjust more perfectly to the cosmic inframind, or God. (This is probably the reason why Catholicism has witnessed more miracles and paranormal events than any other religion on record.)

    In contradistinction to this approach, systems which do not view the divine Infinite as a person likewise do not consider human beings to be very conscious. And an ideology of atheism will logically view them as little more than robots easily dispensed with. The view of God is firstly the view of man, since God can be accessed only through the Self.

    Western Civilization is the civilization of individual consciousness far more than any other at any time. This is why the archetype of consciousness, Jesus, appears in so many NDEs, even to non-Christians, including atheists. We have the highest degree of individualism the world has ever seen. Whatever threatens this consciousness, such as the untrammeled materialism and Pavlovian methods of advertizing now dominating the Western world, undermines the civilization itself.

    Man as incarnate intelligence is really a microcosm – the memory of the evolution of the universe up to and including himself as a "morphic field" in Rupert Sheldrake’s words. In other words, to a much greater extent than the other animals, man is God incarnate.

    This does not mean that any given human being is necessarily well-behaved or benign toward his fellows. It just means that his innermost structure – his soul – is of the same nature as the divine intelligence of the All.

    Accordingly, the most "moral" thing to do is to try to assist evolution to higher intelligence. This means eugenics: the intelligent breeding and rearing of ever healthier and more intelligent humans and discouraging the breeding of defective and unintelligent ones.

    This, of course, runs directly counter to the socio-political aims of the currently dominant religions in the West. It also goes against the prevailing materialism which seeks quantity, not quality, and mindless consumers, not thinkers.

    Due to the immoral "morality" of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as its own extreme materialism, therefore, the West has placed itself in an increasingly dangerous position. It will have to change or die. For that is the will of God.

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    The Paranormal

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    Undergirding and pervading all physical creation is a more inclusive domain of mental nature. I will here use the term "inframind" to refer to it. Some religions, such as Zoroastrianism and its descendants, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, view the inframind as personal and male (Ahura Mazda, Yahweh/the "Lord," God the Father, Allah). Others, such as ancient Germanic shamanism, Buddhism and many branches of Hinduism, see it as impersonal and as simply the plenitude of nature, the source of "fate."

    In either case, life is a multi-dimensional interweaving of various levels of the inframind: a physical body and a trans-physical (or "metaphysical") soul. The soul, while anchored in the body, actually extends beyond it somewhat, even on the "physical" plane, often to encompass the clothing. Appalachian "snake handlers," for instance, while in an altered state of consciousness, can often turn blowtorches on themselves without even their clothing getting singed.

    Furthermore, it is possible for a body to be wholly or partially possessed by another being of spiritual nature – either that of a discarnate entity or of another human being living at present.

    This is the basis of "possession." As Dr. Ian Stevenson has documented in his remarkable two-volume work, Reincarnation and Biology (the product of 20 years of research all over the globe), at some time during fetal gestation or even after birth itself, a new human body is "possessed" by the discarnate soul, usually of a former human being. "Personal" growth proceeds from that point. Under normal conditions, this is the one and only possession of the body. However, occasionally, other, additional possessions take place. These may be temporary or permanent; by a single entity or multiple entities (as in the "Legion" of dead souls in Luke 8,26-37 and Matthew 8,28-34); in trance states or in full waking consciousness. There are even the rare "walk-ins" (in Sanskrit, parakayapravesh, literally "entering another body") in which a discarnate soul trades places with an incarnate one. Also, one living person may be possessed by the soul of another living person – normally a shaman. And it furthermore seems to happen that some mob behavior and mass hallucinations are due to a type of possession by the temporary group soul of the mob.

    Each possessor modifies the occupied body itself somewhat – the earlier the takeover, the more profound the change. As Ian Stevenson has shown, souls which recall having previously died violent deaths are likely to produce bodily birthmarks or birth defects corresponding to the wounds or other marks which made the greatest impression on the soul’s consciousness around (i.e., before, during or after) the time of death.

    However, health can be not only impaired but also improved by possession. A shaman, "holy man" (or woman), witch or healer can partially possess an ill person who is susceptible. Through the extension and transfer of his or her "distended" soul, he (or she) can strengthen the health of the afflicted one, even to the extent of curing some physical defects, including some types of blindness and many diseases.


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    1  It is generally held that [the Indic Aryans and the Iranian Aryans] began to drift apart during the third millennium B.C.; and it is thought that the composition of the oldest Indian work, the Rigveda, should be set as beginning some time around 1700 B.C. The language of its hymns, in their surviving form, is very close to that of the Gâthâs, the hymns of Zoroaster; and not only the outward form of the prophet’s works, but also strikingly archaic elements in their content, make it reasonable to suppose that he himself cannot have lived later than about 1000 B.C. He may in fact have flourished some time earlier. The linguistic evidence shows, moreover, that his home must have been among the Iranians of the north-east; and it is probable that his own people (known as the "Avestan people" from the name of the Zoroastrian scriptures, the Avesta) settled eventually in Khwaresmia, the land along the lower course of the Oxus [around the southern end of the Caspian Sea]….

    "As for the Indo-Iranians in their nomadic stage, they have been identified as one of the bearers of the Andronovo culture, which in the 2nd millennium B.C. was distinguished by fine tool- and weapon-making in bronze. (The great mace wielded by the Iranian Mithra appears from its fixed poetic description to have been fashioned of this metal.)" Mary Boyce, Professor of Iranian Studies in the University of London, A History of Zoroastrianism: Volume One: The Early Period (Leiden/Köln: E.J. Brill, 1975), pp. 3f. (Part of the series Handbuch der Orientalistik, herausgegeben von B. Spuler. Erste Abteilung: Der Nahe und der Mittlere Osten. Achter Band: Religion. Erster Abschnitt: Religionsgeschichte des alten Orients, Lieferung 2, Heft 2A.)

    Cf. also Prof S. Insler of Yale University: "But like all riddles, the problems encountered within the Gâthâs beg to be solved, and many have been solved. Most of the grammatical forms have been puzzled out through the help of the related Indian Rigveda, which has also provided the source for establishing much of the fundamental vocabulary of Zarathustra’s lyrics. This literary monument of India has likewise revealed a number of stylistic figures and syntactic conventions which have aided in the interpretation of various passages in the prophet’s hymns. And the Rigveda has moreover furnished a textual counterpart against which the dominant themes of Zarathustra’s teachings can be compared and judged….

    "…[T]he abundant data of the Rigveda not only provides a means of access to the problems of Gâthic philology, but equally offers a well tried touchstone against which one can test new suggestions concerning the interpretations of the Iranian evidence." The Gâthâs of Zarathustra (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975), pp. 1f. (Part of the series Acta Iranica: Encyclopédie permanente des Études Iraniennes fondée á l’occasion du 2500e Anniversaire de la Fondation de L’Empire Perse par Cyrus le Grand. Troisième Série: Textes et Mémoires. [Return to text]

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    2  Mary Boyce, op. cit., p. 293: "Zoroaster himself appears to have taught the doctrine of a coming Saviour [the Saoshyant]; and the legend that he was to be born miraculously of the prophet’s seed was perhaps fostered by devout princes of Draniana in south-eastern Iran…. And in its simple, most impressive form it became, with its message of hope, one of the most influential doctrines of Zoroastrianism, affecting, it seems, both Buddhists to the east and Jews and Christians to the west, as well as the adherents of Mithraism and diverse Gnostic faiths." Another allied Zoroastrian doctrine which much influenced Judaism, and through it Christianity and Islam, was the idea of the doomsday war, in which the Wise Lord and his righteous Zoroastrian followers, the Saoshyant at their head, will forever vanquish the wicked led by the Evil Spirit. [Return to text]

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    3  1 Chronicles 5,34 in the Neo-Vulgate and modern editions; 1 Paralipomenon 6,8 in the Vulgate, Septuagint and Textus Receptus. The spelling "Nebuchadrezzar" today seems preferable to the older "Nebuchadnezzar." [Return to text]

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    4  1 Chronicles 5,40f. in the Neo-Vulgate and modern versions; 1 Paralipomenon 6,14f. in the Vulgate, Septuagint and Textus Receptus. [Return to text]

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    5  Joshua/Jesua, etc.; Haggai 1,1 et passim. [Return to text]

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    6  ;Cf.  Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (New York/London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997, pp. 61f. [Return to text]

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    7  Cf. bQidd 88a – tractacte Qiddushim ("Healings"), paragraph 88, page 4, of the Babylonian commentary "GEMARA" [recto] to the Talmud MISHNA - 3rd class: Nashim ("women") [Return to text]

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    8  Robert Eisenman, James, the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls (NY: Penguin Putnam, 1997) [Return to text]

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    9  "The mainstream hypothesis, built on archaeology and literary analysis, sketches the history of the Scrolls Community (or Essene sect) as follows. Its prehistory starts in Palestine – some claim also Babylonian antecedents – with the rise of the Hasidic movement, at the beginning of the second century B.C.E. as described in the first book of the Maccabees (I Mac ii, 42-44; vii, 13-17). Sectarian (Essene) history itself originated in a clash between the Wicked Priest or Priests (Jonathan and/or possibly Simon Maccabaeus) and the Teacher of Righteousness, the anonymous priest who was the spiritual leader of the Community. The sect consisted of the survivors of the Hasidim, linked with a group of dissident priests who, by the mid-second century, came under the leadership of the sons of Zadok, associates of the Zadokite high priests. This history continues at Qumran, and no doubt in many other Palestinian localities, until the years of the first Jewish rebellion against Rome, when possibly in 68 CE the settlement is believed to have been occupied by Vespasian’s soldiers. Whether the legionaries encountered sectarian resistance – such a theory would be consonant with Josephus’ reference to an Essene general among the revolutionaries (cf. War II, 567; III, 11, 19.) and to a massacre of the Essenes by the Romans (cf. War II, 152-3) – or whether the threatening presence of the contingents of Zealot Sicarii, who had already expelled the Essenes from Qumran, provoked a Roman intervention, are purely speculative matters. One fact is certain, however. No one of the original occupants of Qumran returned to the caves to reclaim their valuable manuscripts." – Geza Vermes, op. cit., pp. 18f. [Return to text]

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    10  So-called because of the circles he drew to bring rain – Eisenman, op. cit., p. 170. The practice of importuning the supernatural powers to influence the weather (cf. also Jesus) is widespread. One well-known example is the erstwhile "rain dance" of the American Indians of the southwestern U.S. My own father grew up a Catholic on a farm in northern Ontario, Canada. He told me that, in periods of summer draught, the entire Catholic community of the area would gather in the church and pray a rosary for rain. He said he never saw it fail to rain after they did that. [Return to text]

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    11  Robert Eisenman, op. cit., 41. [Return to text]

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    12  The Pharisee Gamaliel, speaking before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, explained (Acts 5,36f.): "There was Theudas who became notorious not so long ago. He claimed to be someone important, and he even collected about four hundred followers; but when he was killed, all his followers scattered and that was the end of them. And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census [in 6 C.E.], who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too, and all his followers dispersed." [Return to text]

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    13  Gospel places and times of origin: Mark – Rome, perhaps 64-70; Matthew – Egypt, between 70-90, perhaps ca. 85; Luke – Greece, also between 70-90, perhaps ca. 90; John – a city probably in Asia Minor or Syria, or just maybe Alexandria, Egypt, ca. 95-100. (The Gospel of Thomas, although discovered as a complete text only in Coptic at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, was originally written in Greek. The Jesus Seminar, in The Five Gospels, p. 49, calls it "an early stage in Christian gospel writing and theologizing.") [Return to text]

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    14  Cf. The Nag Hammadi Library in English, Translated by Members of the Coptic Gnostic Library Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, James M. Robinson, Director. San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1977. The Gospel of Thomas is found on pages 117-130. [Return to text]

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    15  By Robert W. Funk and the Jesus Seminar. New York: A Polebridge Press Book, HarperSanFrancisco (A Division of HarperCollinsPublishers), 1998. Over 150 scholars participated in one way or another in the Seminar’s research and deliberations. The group included experts in such diverse fields as Graeco-Roman history, archeology and linguistics as well as in strictly biblical materials. Robert W. Funk is the founder of the Jesus Seminar and the director of the Westar Institute of Santa Rosa, California, a Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Senior Scholar and the author of a dozen books, including The Five Gospels. The full title of the latter is: The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. New Translation and Commentary by Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover and The Jesus Seminar (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998). The Five Gospels presents a new translation, called the "Scholars Version," of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, plus the newly-discovered, 114-verse Gospel of Thomas. [Return to text]

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    16  A similar phenomenon has occurred in Tibetan Buddhism, where the original shamanic religion of the Tibetans was overlaid and suppressed by Buddhism, but the shamanic "journey" to the world of the dead is experienced by outwardly Buddhist individuals, who subsequently report and interpret their experiences in strictly Buddhist terms. Such individuals are called "Death-Returnees" (Tibetan dé lok). The rule in such cases is always "Quicquid percipitur, per modum percipientis percipitur" – "Whatever is perceived is perceived in accordance with the nature of the percipient." See Françoise Pommaret, Les Revenants de L’Au-Delà dans le Monde Tibétain: Sources littéraires et tradition vivante (Paris: Éditions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique [15, Quai Anatole France, 75700 Paris], 1989). [Return to text]

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    17  AJ translates Mt 11:18 (p. 193) and Lk 7:33 (p. 291) as "he is demented." This is to be expected of scholars who have not studied the deep trance state of shamanic possession. For them, such states must be dementia. [Return to text]

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    18  Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973). For laymen, Professor Smith has written The Secret Gospel: The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark (NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973). [Return to text]

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    19  This is the basis of the "IQ Cap," a device sold by the Neurometrics corporation that measures the electroencephalographic (EEG) output of the brain and within a few seconds accurately reports the intelligence quotient (IQ) of a person. [Return to text]

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    20  On morphic resonance, see Rupert Sheldrake, A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation, London: Blond & Briggs, 1981 (revised edition, Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1988). Cf. especially Sheldrake's The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature (New York: in Vintage Books [Div. of Random House], 1989); his writings include The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God (NY: Bantam Books, 1991). Sheldrake also suggests experiments to prove or disprove his theory in Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science (NY: Riverhead Books [a division of G.P. Putnam’s Sons], 1995). [Return to text]

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    21  Gadara (Matthew) is about six miles from the lakeshore, Gerasa (Mark, Luke) is about 30 miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee, neither of which is a very likely location for this incident as described. It is clear that this report has been extensively modified from the original facts, although it is unlikely that the whole thing is a fiction.

    Also, pigs do not gather in herds like sheep, so it is improbable they would have stampeded together to their deaths. Pigs, unclean animals to the ancient Jews, are used here to indicate to Jewish listeners the unclean paganness (and hated Romanness – "Legion," a Roman army division) of those among whom Jesus wrought his wonders. The Jesus Seminar (AJ 77ff., 181, 296ff.) thinks that "some vague historical event" lies beneath the literary and theological overlays of this story. In view of roughly similar events known in the history of shamanism and of parapsychology, that "vague historical event" probably involved some man (or woman) possessed by the souls of the dead who kept him around the cemetery in which their remains had been buried. He was most likely naked most of the time (a state which facilitates psychic communications, to judge from the history of religions and parapsychology), and an exorcist (not necessarily Jesus) expelled the possessing spirits, who then entered into some nearby animal or animals and perhaps caused them to die or to engage in erratic behavior. On the likelihood of possession, see Ian Stevenson, MD, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (next footnote), volume I, page 4. Possession is a special, abnormal case of what normally happens only as "reincarnation." [Return to text]

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    22  Ian Stevenson, MD, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks. Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies. Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger Publishers (88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881), 1997. Price: $195.00. Vol. 1, xvii + 1,168 pp.; Vol. 2, xvii + 1,098 pp. [Return to text]

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    23  Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark, p. 240. [Return to text]

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    24  This opaque title (Greek huiòs toû anthrôpou), which Jesus gave to himself, is an Aramaicism and means simply "a[n ordinary] man," "a person," "individual" (the Jesus Seminar translates it as "the son of Adam"), has long been among the most vexing problems in New Testament scholarship. It appears in the (Hebrew) Old Testament with three different meanings: in Job 25:4-6 ("a son of man, who is a worm") describing the human being as an insignificant entity; in Psalm 8:3-6 ("what are … sons of man that you <o God> should attend them? You made them a little lower than the gods.") as ranking just below the Almighty; and in the vision of Daniel 7:13f. ("I saw one like a son of man coming with heaven’s clouds.") as the God-sent ruler of all mankind in the last days of the earth.

    On pp. 76f. of The Five Gospels (in the cameo "Son of Adam"), the Jesus Seminar explains the phrase "son of man" as deriving from the above-mentioned Old Testament uses and as having been given a messianic or apocalyptic cast by the early Christian community. In the Gospels, the phrase is used to refer to (1) the heavenly ruler to come; (2) a man who is to suffer, die and rise again; and (3) human beings.

    The Jesus Seminar views the first signification, "heavenly ruler," as Jesus’ reference not to himself but to a third person. And they believe the second, dying-and-rising version "seems to be only a roundabout way of saying "I." The third meaning, "human beings," is not discussed by them.

    However, the Jesus Seminar has neglected another component in the origin of this term: the altered state of Jesus consciousness under certain conditions.

    The reason for why Jesus used this name for himself and spoke of himself so often in the third person, seeming thereby to assume a viewpoint outside of himself, is actually quite simple. It is grounded in the fact that Jesus was first and foremost a shaman, and was speaking oracularly.

    Anyone who has any familiarity with mediums and psychics, either at first hand or through transcripts of their trance sayings, will note that the personality of the medium seems to vanish and to be replaced by a different, often quite impersonal, voice.

    This is because the psychoneurological configuration we know as the "personality" is relaxed and the mental and biological mechanisms of the entranced individual are temporarily commandeered by the influx of deep-psychic and inframental information. This is impersonal. When the medium gives up his or her self to this incoming current from the psychic depths, that self no longer exists as an independent being; the human organism is a mere agency, or oracle, manipulated by the unconscious and by paranormal forces. In such a state there is no such thing as a "self." (This occasionally leads to permanent possession and madness, by the way.) The now uninhibited deep unconscious, in its turn, often refers to the agent himself or herself in an oblique, impersonal way using rather detached, indifferent or disinterested terms such as "this body," "the entity," "the current one," etc. or even more obscure designations. A novice listener will often wonder who or what is meant by such terms.

    The same thing was apparently going on within Jesus who, as a shaman, was constantly open to the inframental currents. When he was using the term "Son of Man" (again, meaning approximately "[the present] person" in our language), it was not really "he" who was speaking, but the culturally filtered telepathic infusion using his body as its medium. In other words, "Son of Man," in referring both to a "third person" and as a "roundabout way of saying ‘I’," derives from oracular references of the entranced Jesus to himself.

    Thus, although many of his statements, including the "Son of Man" sentences, may have been modified (or even invented) by the subsequent early Church, some of them may in fact be original oracular utterances by Jesus the entranced Shaman. [Return to text]

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    25  See Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel: The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark. The author convincingly demonstrates that the libertinism, involving also much homosexuality, found among the Christian sect of the Carpocratians and various Gnostic sects came directly from Jesus himself. [Return to text]

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    26  Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel, pp. 113f. [Return to text]

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    27  The Secret Gospel, p. 140. [Return to text]

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    28  On the Temple incident: AJ 121f. (Mk 11:15-19), 231f. (Mt 21:12-17), 338f. (Lk 19:45-48), 373f. (Jn 2:13-22). [Return to text]

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    29  If the Gospels are viewed closely, Jesus seems almost to have encouraged or even directed Judas to do this. He is portrayed as having complete foreknowledge of his "betrayal" by Judas (Mt 26:21-42; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21-23; Jn 13:21-30). At the Last Supper (Jn 13:27), "Jesus said to [Judas Iscariot], ‘Do quickly what you are going to do’." At the moment when Judas betrayed him on the Olive Oil Press property, Jesus told him (Mt 26:50), "Friend, do what you are here to do." He also took absolutely no evasive action, and even told Peter to refrain from using his sword. After Jesus’ condemnation, Judas tried to undo the betrayal and sought to return the blood money, the thirty pieces of silver, back to the chief priests and the Jewish leaders. When they refused to accept it, he hurled the coins into the Temple and left and committed suicide by hanging (Mt 27:3-5). Virtually all of this is regarded as fiction by the Jesus Seminar (AJ 144ff. and elsewhere). Some scholars doubt even the existence of a person named Judas. [Return to text]

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    30  Cf. Ian Wilson, Jesus: The Evidence. The Latest Research and Discoveries Investigated by Ian Wilson. (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 1996), p. 123:

    "Whatever Judas’ thinking, however, the gospels agree that Jesus and his disciples did not stay that night in the house where they had shared his Last Supper. Instead they went on to the Mount of Olives, to what the Matthew and Mark authors both describe as ‘a small estate called Gethsemane" (Matthew 26: 36; Mark 14: 32). In the original Greek Gethsemane is described as a chorion, a very general term that simply denotes an estate or property. But because the John gospel (John 18: 1) mentions Jesus and his disciples going (in what seems to be the same context) ‘into’ a ‘garden’ (Greek kepos), it has long been assumed that Gethsemane was a garden, the oddity being that Jesus and his disciples should apparently quite regularly (John 18: 2) sleep rough in such a place at a time of year when Jerusalem could be very chilly, which we know from Peter being described as warming himself by a fire later that same night (Luke 22: 55-6).

    "As recently pointed out by New Zealand lecturer Joan Taylor, the explanation may be that Gethsemane, which (as gat-shemanim in Aramaic and Hebrew) means ‘olive oil press’, may not have been a garden at all but instead a large cave used for the pressing of olives into oil. Precisely such a cave, undoubtedly used in early centuries for pressing olives and equipped with a cistern for catching winter rainwater, is located just seventy yards north of the present-day ‘garden’. Although in the autumn this would have been filled with olives awaiting processing, in Passover’s springtime it would have been empty and ideal for overnight shelter, and historical sources strongly suggest that it was this, rather than the ‘garden’, that the earliest Christian pilgrims venerated as the true ‘Gethsemane’. Certainly it is the sort of shelter that Jesus and his disciples might well have used overnight at a time when accommodation in Jerusalem would have been very scarce because of the crush of Passover pilgrims." [Return to text]

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    31  It may be objected that perhaps Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. There are a lot of other paranormal events which seem to suspend the habits of nature. Why not death? How can you prove that he did not rise from the dead?

    The answer is as follows: any time you have a report of an extraordinary happening, some type of confirmation is necessary. Except for the bandwagoneers, intellectually serious people no longer accept unusual claims as true merely because a lot of enthusiasm accompanies them. In the case of Jesus, it was not only the idea of his resurrection from the dead that had to be explained, but also why no one could see him walking around, buying vegetables, sleeping, talking to the crowds, etc., after his resurrection. So his former followers invented the idea that he had physically "ascended into heaven." Of course, before that happened, it seems that the visions he had trained them to experience before his death continued occurring after his death. Several times he just "appeared" out of the blue when a two or more of his disciples were together (Cf. his sudden appearance out of nowhere and disappearance back into thin air in Mk 16:12-13; Lk 24:13-35 [the visionaries on the way to Emmaus], Mk 16:14-18; Lk 24:36-43; Jn 20:19-23 [to the disciples generally], Jn 20:24-29 [to "doubting Thomas"] and Jn 21:1-23 [in Galilee], etc.) Such sudden "appearances" and disappearances are clearly apparitions, not physical bodies, despite the "doubting Thomas" fable in John’s Gospel. There are also serious conflicts - always explained away, of course - between the various renditions of his resurrections. The earliest reports, in the epistles of St. Paul (1 Cor, written perhaps ca. 56 C.E.), have him manifesting himself to Cephas (probably Simon Peter, although this is not absolutely certain), then to his own brother, James, then later to 40 (a magic number) disciples. The later Gospels (the earliest being that of Peter’s companion, Mark, written in Rome, then maybe Alexandria, ca. 65-71 C.E. perhaps partly after the destruction of the Temple) have an empty tomb discovered by various numbers of women, guarded by one or two angels (Matthew also includes a Temple Guard and an earthquake), depending on the Gospel. You would expect that such a mind-boggling event would have resulted in more description, and much earlier descriptions, not something written two or four decades after the crucifixion. You would also expect much more consistency among the various Gospels on this topic. On top of this, there are other miraculous elements obviously borrowed from other Eastern religions: the virgin birth (as with the Saoshyant of Zoroastrianism or with various dying and rising vegetation gods of the mystery religions); the much later identification with the godhead; and the "Savior" aspect (in fact, the name "Jesus" [YeSHUa] – literally, "Yahweh helps or saves" – actually means "savior." In short, you have to buy into the entire ancient mindset about the inherent "sinfulness" of mankind and the idea that hallucinations (which may have some paranormal elements) are veridical portrayals of the external world, with gods and demigods conversing with humans, etc., in order to believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead. The hearer of an extremely odd claim such as a physical resurrection from the dead does not have any obligation to prove that the claim is false; rather, the asserter of the claim has an obligation to prove that it is true. And the asserters of the claim of the resurrection did not fulfill that obligation, no matter how ardent their faith.

    Of course, those who have an inner compulsion to believe such a tale have no interest in serious debate. They are interested only in wasting the time of serious people, and in forcing them to "believe" their claims at gunpoint. Virtually no serious scholars believe that Jesus rose from the dead. However, the gun of job loss pointed at their heads keeps them from admitting this outright. [Return to text]

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    32  Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones, Raymond Moody, M.D. with Paul Perry. New York: Ivy Books (published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc.), 1993. [Return to text]

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    33  It was in Antioch that the followers of the Jesus-the-Messiah sect were first called "Christians" (Acts 11,26). The ending –ian- is a Latin one, not Greek or Aramaic/Hebrew. At that time it was the designation given to political parties, not religions – cf.. e.g., Tacitus, Historiae, Vitelliani ("Vitellians"), Othoniani ("Othonians"), Flaviani ("Flavians") for the military-political adherents, respectively, of Vitellius, Otho and Flavius. The term Christiani "adherents of the (political) party of Christ" was probably introduced by a Roman administrator in Antioch in order to refer to the sect of followers of a man who had been crucified by a Roman prefect for political reasons. [Return to text]

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    34  "Cum itaque rei fortiter instaret Alypius, juvaretque provinciae rector, metuendi globi flammarum prope fundamenta crebris assultantibus erumpentes fecere locum, exustis aliquoties operantibus, inaccessum. Hocque modo, elemento destinatius repellente, cessavit inceptum." - Ammianus Marcellinus, Historia, Book 23, Ch. 1. Quoted in Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1 (180 A.D. – 395 A.D.), New York: The Modern Library (Random House), no date, p. 781, footnote 83. [Return to text]

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    35  Cf. Mark 13:1-2: "As he was making his way out of the temple area, one of the disciples said to him, ‘Teacher, look at the huge blocks of stone and the enormous buildings!’ Jesus said to him, ‘You see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another – all will be torn down’." Cf. also parallels, Mt 24:1-2; Lk 21:5-6. [Return to text]

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    36  Joseph A. Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Pr., 1988, $20.00), pp. 128-152. [Return to text]

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    37  A comical note: the Latin version of this utterance, "In hoc signo vinces," can be found today on the crest design on packets of Pall Mall cigarettes. [Return to text]

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    38  Tainter, op. cit., p. 142: "Whatever the personal motivation behind Constantine’s backing of Christianity, it had an important political consequence: by providing a universal religious focus it legitimized the sitting Emperor as sanctioned by divinity. Coins from this time on placed emphasis on symbols of the Emperor’s power (showing, for example, the diadem, mantle, scepter, and orb) rather than on personal attributes. Both were important strategies for maintaining the increased authoritarianism of the Imperium from Diocletian on, which historians label the Dominate." [Return to text]

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    39  See Wulfila’s deathbed confession contained in the letter of Auxentius, Bishop of Durostorum, in Wilhelm Streitberg, Die gotische Bibel (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1971), p. XVIII (first published 1908). [Return to text]

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    40  The Goths originally came from the northeastern Germanic peoples inhabiting middle Sweden, the Baltic islands, and the area around Danzig (the mouth of the Vistula). The name of this people, "Gutans" or (later) "Gautos," appears in the Old English epic, Beowulf, as "Geatas" (better: "Yeatas"). The modern English form would be "Yeats," rhyming with "greats." [Return to text]

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    41  For more information on the Gothic shamanic vocabulary, much of it derived from Asiatic peoples in the first four centuries C.E., see Piergiuseppe Scardigli, Die Goten: Sprache und Kultur (Munich: Verlag C. H. Beck, 1973; translated from the Italian Lingua e storia dei Goti, G.C. Sansoni Editore, 1964) pp. 63ff. [Return to text]

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    42  Cf. John 1:1-14: "In the beginning was the Word…" [Logos], etc. [Return to text]

    Ðis treatise was written by Þeedrich (theedrich@harbornet.com). Last modified 1998 Sep 21.
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