Following a False Creed
by James L. Secor
The Bible. An etched in stone document of collected stories and teachings taken as the statement of Christian values. Invaluable. Incontrovertible. Inviolable. And fake. A predigested by “prelates” conglomeration of pre-Christian doctrine, i.e. excerpts from both the Tanach, and apparent Jesus doctrinal writings and the ancient Greeks, the pre-Socratics like Protagoras. Excerpts that became the accepted codus, the raison d’etre of itself.
The Bible is not infallible because it was codified with malice aforethought over several centuries until the final form was made up in the fourth century. Malice? Most assuredly. It was built up by people who wanted power and control, people who detested the esoteric doctrines by those known today as the Gnostics, that is, the early Christians. Their system having no organized edifice, these doctrines were considered by the organized church–initially, Irenaeus–as heretical. (Many of the beliefs of these and later heresies have made their way into the canon, interestingly enough.) So infused with self-worth and arrogance were these holy men with only the good of mankind in their minds and behavior (rationalized) that they managed, much like modern day communists and fundamentalists, to burn the library at Alexandria and murder the greatest philosopher and intellectual to come about since hallowed ancient Greece, Hipatia, and make it look like the work of a mindless mob. Though perhaps her greatest sin was that she was a woman, a woman better than most men.
The bible is a series of diverse documents that were organized and reorganized–as with John and Revelations–to suit the needs of men but is not a godly or holy book. Many writings were not included because they didn’t fit with these power hungry men’s ideas of what ought to be believed and worshiped. They wished to be edifices and it would seem they have succeeded. Which makes it odd that The Didache was not included, as The Didache is basically a set of step-by-step instructions for the Christian life: how to apply the commandments of God and the sacraments. To have had these rules included would have prevented some of the schisms and spilled blood of later history. Almost all of the ideas of those heretics are now included in the Christian church dogma, gaining ground by coming in through the back door.
The Gnostics, via this codification, were more or less defeated in keeping themselves alive because how can you have an organized edifice for–for lack of a better term– enlightenment? Enlightenment, self-discovery, is personal and may not accord with doctrine or dogma. In fact, it cannot be expected to. Doctrine and dogma are delimiting. Enlightenment goes beyond limits because it knows no barrier to knowledge. But because there is no apparent organization, no structure or how-to in gaining this godly vision, it is inaccessible to Everyman–at least to begin with. But without a step-by-step guide or a preconceived end. . .
So. . .the Bible, understandable by Everyman. The most read book in the world, it seems, at 4 billion copies. Not a book of God. Rather a book of men that everyone calls the book of God because they say it is so. A book that strove not only to fight off the heretics and the Gnostics, but a book driven to establish consistency in belief. The synoptic gospels all have a passion narrative, though without the Gospel of Peter or the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Peter is the only telling of the rise from the dead of Jesus. And he didn’t believe it at the time. How is it, then, that a traitor to the cause became The Rock of the Church and Faith?
The Bible. An amazing 4 billion copies. Of which version? The Western? The Eastern? The Anglican? The Protestant?
The original idea of the codifiers was to limit what people read and heard and, therefore, believed. All for control, for that one idea of Christianity first propounded by Irenaeus. Power and control. And you can bet that anyone who is interested in controlling you is going to lie to you. How did the Bishops lie? By including only those texts they wanted read, texts that fed their idea of what ought to be believed; and by establishing a creed of the right way to think. The organizers put Christianity in a very narrow box.
Heresy? Possibly hearsay.
There are several different versions of Genesis corresponding to self-assessment in the historical record of how the Jews sought to define themselves. But the version accepted by the Bishops and Tertullian, taken from the Masoretic Text of the Jews, is labeled “j.” What of the other versions? Regardless of the many versions, the Bishops chose to use only this one, giving followers one particular beginning. One of the other versions, involving Lilith, would, of course, have been seen as heresy of the worst sort. Somehow or other Lilith has come out into the light. But while everyone else notes this, the Christian hegemon turns a blind eye.
With the canon itself there are, nevertheless, problems, especially noteworthy as Christians take their belief-ancestry from the Jews. Not to be wondered at, as Jesus was a Jew. How many lies are there in that heritage? To begin with, there were never any Jews in slavery to the Egyptians. They were highly thought of for their financial acumen. There were no slaves to build the Pyramids. This historical fact throws a wrench in the belief system of the Literalists who choose to deny it. Halleluiah!
But it gets “worse.” In the first century record there is only one mention of the Jews–by an Egyptian merchant, in passing. Israel is not mentioned at all by Herodotus. Ergo, Israel was not a great nation at all, just a little settlement in southern Palestine with which the Egyptians traded en passant.
Why III Kings is not included in most versions of the Bible is a mystery, as it deals with Elijah’s prophesies while in the Babylonian exile. As if to say, only the Jews were held captive while, in fact, the Babylonians overran the entirety of Palestine (Phoenecia to the Greeks). Whyever would they have taken only the Jews? And the flood story was lifted from a much, much earlier work, now found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian legend of a man searching for the key to life (and immortality) as encrypted in stone during the days of Babylonia. Pity the Jews lifted only the flood. The flood story exists in all other peoples’ cultures too, its universality speaking to something far greater than a cleansing of the Jews, God’s chosen, the Christian ancestral horde (that failed).
Could it be the Bible should be looked at metaphorically? Far more meaningful, since metaphor bespeaks a broad picture and multiple possibilities. Which is a problem for people who want control and power: there must be one story, one belief, one way to think. A horrible problems exists, though, when the church fathers metaphorize The Song of Solomon, a beautiful, evocative love song of sex and arousal: pomegranate breasts metaphor for God’s love? If so, that would mean God is female. Heaven forbid! Which raises the question of why this bit is included in the bible to begin with. Maybe the Bishops found it arousing and could not let it go? Most assuredly they had run into naked breasts and brown skin, no? But sexual arousal as a metaphor for getting to God? I think not, especially as the body was evil and sex was beyond evil.
Which leads to. . .why only this book as a metaphor out of 66 books? (Six is a superstitiously important number, as are three and seven–all found as important in the Bible. A point that raises questions about further superstitions, such as magic and transmogrification.)
Other stories within the Bible that are just not historically, culturally true include Esther. There is absolutely no way that a king would consider a commoner, especially an outcast commoner, as beautiful or worth sleeping with. Esther would have been considered untouchable. Or Jonah. Jonah and his whale is a sham. The story is an excuse for not getting to his destination in time–he never wanted to go to begin with. The story of Jonah is a satire, illustrating how people will believe anything, even heresy, if it’s dressed up enough. Jonah never gets to God’s message, the reason for his journey; but people down through the ages continue believing in his wacky tale. A whale in the Mediterranean? Duh! The book says “a big fish.”
These obfuscations are from the Old Testament. Preaching from the OT is important because of the kind of God therein: a vengeful, angry, punitive, abusive God who is not averse to blackmail: you either do this or I will hurt you. Usually by sending an enemy to annihilate you or bring some kind of natural disaster or plague down on you. In fact, after giving mankind–the chosen mankind, the rest of the world be damned, which has been the way down through Christian history–after giving the Jews (mankind) the Ten Commandments, God proceeds to break all of them, asking his chosen to join in with him in his depredations. God is obsessed with war, rapine and genocide. He even–to beget Christianity–engages in rape to get an offspring, very much in the manner of Zeus, virgins being so naïve and gullible. And probably luscious.
And now we have the New Testament. Why is this “new”? Let’s be literal here: it’s a new testament because the God of Jesus is a loving God. Most certainly a new view of God, considering the OT! The problem for me here is, why is it Christian churches preach from the OT rather than the NT and call themselves Christian? Jesus repudiated this old knowledge base. Any NT quotations are chosen so they seem to support the OT pronouncements.
Thus, for instance, war is good and godly when, in fact, according to Jesus and those writing about him, war is anathema. It might also be that there is so little to choose from given the tiny number of Jesus writings included in the NT when there were innumerable other writings available: did you know there were nine epistles to the churches and people by Paul and two by Peter, along with his Gospel describing Jesus’ rising from the dead and the Secret Gospel of Mark and the Pre-Markian Passion Gospel and The Apocalypse of Peter? All speak to a broader teaching and belief system, one that is more interested in Jesus’ message and teaching than his dying for us (a god-awful guilt to have to carry around). But they are not part of the canon.
Even more to the point, the second coming has already occurred–and it is, as it were, well-documented. Jesus came first via birth and a second time when he rose from the dead. Oops! Modern believers are Doubting Thomases and Peters? The second coming is your own, as in “you must die to yourself.” And Jesus is still waiting for it. Most of the modern born again lot are no such thing: no über-knowledge, no enlightenment, no release from everyday suffering and burden. Only their selves re-framed. Zen Buddhists speak ill of this. So did Jesus in the secret closet metaphor in Matthew–and probably in the Gospel of Thomas or The Signs Gospel (or Q–hinted at in the synoptic gospels but never found) or the Dialogue of the Savior. How illustrative would be a dialogue! Thoughts and images in motion.
But, again, the accepted NT books were chosen because the Bishops did not want to sully their belief system; nor did they like what these other writers had so say; nor did they like esoteric teachings bespeaking both individual knowledge and understanding, and knowledge and understanding beyond doctrine and dogma.
These other texts, Gospels, are known today as Gnostic Gospels. Among them are the Gospel According to Mary (Magdalene), the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Matthias, the Gospel of Perfection, the Gospel of the Seventy, the Dialogue of the Savior, the Gospel of the Twelve, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of Bartholomew, the Secret Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Eve and the Gospel according to Judas (fragmentary).
The Gospel according to Judas is damned. It is not to be read. It is heresy, maybe even a fake (it is not). The Gospel according to Judas, shows Jesus with a sense of humor and a far more far-reaching, cosmic vision than is given in the accepted Gospels. And a much more cynical, realist Jesus. It shows Judas in a much more human light. Judas is chosen because he is the thirteenth Apostle, because he is outcast, because he is the only Apostle who understands. Jesus knew that his death was necessary and he knew Judas was the only one who understood and could be counted on. Judas played his role and then killed himself.
Mary Magdelene was the only one to recognize the risen Christ. It is recorded she saw him first but, because she was woman, she could not be first before a man. So, she was completely written off. The doubters were left in place.
Wait a minute! Judas the thirteenth Apostle? In the painting of the last supper–a supper no different than any before–there are only 12 people, not including Jesus. Where is Judas? Indeed, where is Mary Magdalene? Most notable in the former; to be expected in the latter, as women were not, in that society and time, included in much of anything. Things have changed since then, though many believe that what was considered de rigueur 2000 years ago should still de rigueur today.
Having a belief is good and the Christian ethical base is noteworthy, albeit few truly follow it; but to maintain that a man made, pre-conceived book that purposely did not include writings extolling the entirety of Christian thinking is the holy book is foolish. It is a false creed.