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  1      The Cultural Dictionary of the Bible 2141-2144
  2      The Christ Myth  2145-2146
  3      Which: Spiritualism or Christianity? 2147-2148
  4      Antiquity Unveiled  2149-2157
  5      The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors 2158-2159
  6      Bible of Bibles  2160-2169
  7      Jesus of Nazareth  2170-2171
  8      Myth and Ritual in Christianity 2172-2173
  9      The Jesus of the Early Christians 2174-2179
10      Cults and Isms 2180-2181
11      The Puritan Way of Death 2182-2186
12      The Greek Way of Death 2187-2191
13      Death and Burial in the Roman World 2192-2194
14      Images of Afterlife 2195-2200
15      Mortalism 2201-2206


from: The Cultural Dictionary of the Bible, John J. Pilch, The Liturgical Press, c1999. [Note: good subject introductions. Replete with apologetics].

[Note: quotation marks omitted]

Abba 1

Anger 8

Clothes 14

Coins 21

Cosmetics and Jewelry 27

Dance 33

Death 40

Deception and Lying [part, included] 46

Drinking and Eating (see also Travel) 52

Forgiveness [part, included] 59

Hair (see also Sheep and Goats) 65

Healing 72

Holy Man 79

House 85

Humor 92

Jews and Christians [must see apologetics ("Spin"!) [see 1599; etc.]] 98

Military 105

Music 111

Nonverbal Communication 117

Prayer 123

Secrecy 129

Sheep and Goats (see also Work) 135

Sickness 141

Sky 147

Smells and Tastes [part, included] 153

Spirits (see also Healing; Sickness; Sheep and Goats) [part, included] 159

Symbolism (see also Hair) 165

Travel [part, included] 171

Weather 178

Work 184

Basic Resources 191

[At the end of each article occurs: "For Further Reading...."].


"Deception and Lying" [46]


Western readers will have to set aside their own cultural convictions about secrecy, deception, and lying in order to appreciate the distinctive role that these strategies play in Mediterranean culture. They key to appreciating the importance of secrecy, deception and lies in Mediterranean culture is a solid understanding of honor as the core value of this culture. Cultures are value-driven systems, and honor, the public claim and public acknowledgment of worth, governs all behavior in the Mediterranean world. When analyzing biblical narratives, a reader must always keep in mind the public judgment and response to what is being reported. This public, after all, is the final judge of whether honor is to be granted or denied." [51] [End of Conclusion].

"Forgiveness" [59]

"Shaming Strategies

A common strategy for shaming others is to ask a question. Relatively few if any questions in the Middle East are honest requests for information. The hope is that the one of whom the question is asked will not know the answer. To trick another into admitting or displaying ignorance is to shame that person. A common defense is to lie, to offer any answer, even if incorrect. Not to answer is an admission of ignorance or an admission that any answer will only result in defeat and shame. Mark's Jesus asked his opponents whether it was permissible to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, but recognizing the trap Jesus posed to them, they did not respond (3:1-4). In Matthew's version of this same event, the Pharisees asked Jesus a question, but his masterful and indisputable answer shamed them instead (12:9-12).

Jesus' [writers'] customary defense when asked a question was to reply with a counter question, an insult, or both. When the Pharisees asked Jesus why his disciples did not observe the ritual washing of hands before eating, Jesus countered by asking why they subverted the commandments of God in favor of their traditions (Matt 15:1-20). Then he called them hypocrites (actors), an insult used many times in Matthew's Gospel only by Jesus and only in reference to the Pharisees.

Keeping in mind that publicity is a key element in honor and shame, that is, an audience is always present to witness the event and determine the winner and loser—the one who is shamed and the one whose reputation is enhanced—it is not difficult to appreciate the potential consequences of losing too many such skirmishes. The cumulative effect of Jesus' relentless insults against his opponents could only lead to disaster for him." [60].

"Smells and Tastes

Though Plato and Aristotle assigned first place among the senses to sight, it did not receive cultural prominence until after the sixteenth century. Smell and hearing were the dominant senses upon which people relied first and foremost...." [153].


'Smells Humans Like

In the West, people are socialized into keeping a distance of about sixteen to eighteen inches between themselves and the person to whom they speak or whom they face. Even so, Westerners depend upon a variety of toothpastes, mouthwashes, and breath-sweeteners in order not to offend others with bad breath.

In the Middle East, the optimal distance between persons speaking to each other is six to eight inches. Arabs routinely breathe into each other's faces when conversing. To avoid communicating in this way is to deny the other person one's breath, a share in one's God-given life force. This is shameful and a serious insult. In ancient Greek mythologies, the soul was associated with breath, and therefore was considered to have a distinct fragrance. Ultimately the soul was thought to be a kind of perfume itself. Clearly, breath is as important as the actual words it forms. Breath is a powerful form of nonverbal communication (see John 20:22)

As for the human body, each person has a distinct body odor, depending upon diet, drinking water, mood, living habits, race, gender, aged, reproductive state, health, exercise, hygiene, emotional state, and even the time of day or month. In addition, environmental odors are absorbed by human skin, hair, and clothing. The sightless Isaac depended on Esau's and Jacob's distinctive body odor to tell them apart. Jacob lived in tents and was a smooth-skinned person who sometimes made bread and cooked pottage of lentils. Esau was a hairy man who loved the outdoors, a skilled hunter who enjoyed eating game. The lifestyle of each twin nuanced his distinctively personal body odor....

Martial (ca. 40-105 C.E.?), a Roman poet born in Spain, described some of his (and his culture's) favorite scents. "The scent of an apple as a young girl bites it, the fragrance that comes from Corycian saffron, the smell of a silvery vineyard flowering with the first clusters of grass that a sheep has freshly cropped, the odor of myrtle, of an Arabian harvester, of rubbed amber, of fire pallid with Eastern incense, of turf lightly sprinkled with summer rain, of a garland that has rested on tresses wet with nard ["aromatic plant", etc.]...." (III.65). He considered Thais, a semilegendary Athenian courtesan, to represent the most revolting smells. "Thais smells worse than the veteran crock [full of stale urine] of a stingy fuller ["one that fulls ("cleanse and thicken") cloth"], recently broken in the middle of the road, or a billy goat fresh from his amours, or a lion's mouth, or a hide from beyond the Tiber torn from a dog, or a chicken rotting in an aborted egg, or a jar polluted with putrid fish-sauce." (VI.93).' [154-155].


In the Bible, a variety of spirits both good and bad readily intervene in the daily life of human beings...." [159]. [See: #1, page 1, 6., 7.].



Travel in the ancient world was very difficult and never a pleasure. The enterprise was fraught with risk and danger. It was safer to stay home. If travel was necessary, the wisest and safest course was to travel in a group...." [171].

["Roads in Palestine"]

"The Romans, the best road-builders in antiquity, improved existing roads in Palestine and built others. The Roman road had four layers: sand; stone and rock pieces in concrete; crushed stone in concrete; a paved surface. Drainage was provided, and in cities a raised sidewalk was provided for pedestrians." [176].

"Sea Travel

Use of the Mediterranean Sea for travel dates back at least to about 2700 B.C.E., when the Egyptians traded with Byblos on the coast of modern Lebanon. Special craft called Byblites transported goods and passengers along the coast.

The Phoenicians mastered travel on the open sea and developed extensive trade. They went beyond the Strait of Gibraltar as far as the western coast of modern Morocco and called at Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Sardinia, the Spanish coast, Malta, and Crete. Solomon relied on them (1 Kgs 9:26-28) to help his young country get started in navigating the Mediterranean.

Though initially these vessels were sail-powered, the Greeks, Persians, and Romans developed human-powered ships. For instance, Persia developed the trireme (a vessel with three tiers of rowers on each side of the vessel) but was defeated by the Greeks at the battle of Salamis in 480 B.C.E.

Even with progress in shipbuilding during Greek and Roman times, sea travel was always difficult. Cargo was more important than the passengers, who had to bring along their own provisions and find lodging at the port each night, since there was no place for them aboard the vessel (Acts 21:3, 7, 8). The account of Paul's sea journey from Caesarea to Italy in Acts 27-28 presents an accurate picture of sea travel at that time.

Roman law prohibited sailings between November 20 and March 10. The truly safe period was from about May 26 to September 14. As Acts 28:11 indicates [?], Paul [a Fictional character!] was already at sea when the dangerous travel period set in." [176].

● ● ● ● ●


from: The Christ Myth, Arthur Drews, Translated by C. Delisle Burns, Open Court, "1911".



"If you see a man undaunted by dangers, undisturbed by passions, happy when fortune frowns, calm in the midst of storms, will you not be filled with reverence for him? Will you not say that here is something too great and grand to be regarded as of the same nature as the trivial body in which it dwells? A divine force has descended here—a heavenly power moves a soul so wonderful, so calm, one which passes through all life as though it were of small account, and smiles at all our hopes and fears. Nothing so great can exist without the help of God, and therefore in the main it belongs to that from which it came down. Just as the rays of the sun touch the earth, but belong to that from which they are sent, so a great and holy spirit, sent here that we may have a more intimate knowledge of deity, lives indeed in our midst, but remains in contact with its source. On that it depends, thither its eyes are turned, thither its life tends: among men it dwells as a noble guest. What then is this soul? One which relies upon no goodness but its own. What is proper to man is his soul and the perfect reason in the soul: for man is a rational animal: therefore his highest good is reached when he is filled with that of which he is born."

With these [above] words the Roman philosopher Seneca (4 B.C.—65 A.D.) portrays the ideally great and good man that we may be moved to imitate him.* ["*Ep. ad Luc. 41."]

"We must choose some good man," he [Seneca] says, "and always have him before our eyes; and we must live and act as if he were watching us. A great number of sins would remain uncommitted were there a witness present to those about to sin. Our heart must have some one whom it honours, and by whose example its inner life can be inspired. Happy is he whose reverence for another enables him to fashion his life after the picture living in his memory. We need some one upon whose life we may model our own: without the rule you cannot correct what is amiss" (Ep. 11) [see Addition 34, 1615]. "Rely on the mind of a great man and detach yourself from the opinions of the mob. Hold fast to the image of the most beautiful and exalted virtue, which must be worshipped not with crowns but with sweat and blood" (Ep. 67). "Could we but gaze upon the soul of a good man, what a beautiful picture should we see, how worthy of our reverence in its loftiness and peace. There would justice shine forth and courage and prudence and wisdom: and humanity, that rare virtue, would pour its light over all. Every one would declare him worthy of honour and of love. If any one saw that face, more lofty and splendid than any usually found among men, would he not stand in dumb wonder as before a God, and silently pray that it might be for his good to have seen it? Then, overcome by the inviting grace of the vision, he would kneel in prayer, and after long meditation, filled with wondering awe, he would break forth into Virgil's words: 'Hail to thee, whoe'er thou art! O lighten thou our cares!' There is no one, I repeat, who would not be inflamed with love were it given him to gaze upon such an ideal. Now indeed much obscures our vision: but if


we would only make our eyes pure and remove the veil that covers them, we should be able to behold virtue even through covered by the body, and clouded by poverty, lowliness and shame. We should see its loveliness even through the most sordid veils." (Ep. 115).

The attitude expressed in these words are widespread in the whole of the civilised world at [before] the beginning of the Christian era. A feeling of the uncertainty of all things human weighed like a ghastly dream upon most minds. The general distress of the time, the collapse of the nation states under the rough hand of the Roman conquerors, the loss of independence, the uncertainty of political and social conditions, the incessant warfare and the heavy death-roll it involved—all this forced men back upon their own inner life, and compelled them to seek there for some support against the loss of outer happiness in a philosophy which raised and invigorated the soul. But the ancient philosophy had spent itself....' [31-33].

'An Augustus who had put an end to the horrors of the civil war must, in spite of everything, have appeared as a prince of peace and a saviour in the uttermost extremity, who had come to renew the world and to bring back the fair days of the Golden Age. He had again given to mankind an aim in life and to existence some meaning. As the head of the Roman State religion, a person through whose hands the threads of the policy of the whole world passed, as the ruler of an empire such as the world had never before seen, he might well appear to men as a God, as Jupiter himself come down to earth, to dwell among men.

"Now at length the time is passed," runs an inscription, apparently of the ninth year before Christ, found at Priene not long ago,

"when man had to lament that he had been born. That providence, which directs all life, has sent this man as a saviour to us and the generations to come. He will put an end to all feuds, and dispose all things nobly. In his appearance are the hopes of the past fulfilled. All earlier benefactors of mankind he has surpassed. It is impossible that a greater should come. The birthday of the God has brought for the world the messages of salvation (Gospels) which attend him. From his birth a new epoch must begin."*

['*E. v. Mommsen and Wilamowitz in the Transactions of the German Archaeological Institute, xxiii. Part iii.; "Christl. Welt," 1899, No. 57. Compare as a specially characteristic expression of that period's longing for redemption the famous Fourth Eclogue of Virgil. Also Jeremias, "Babylonisches im Neuen Testament," 1905, pp. 57 sqq. Lietzmann, "Der Weltheiland," 1909.']' [34-35].

"The apocalyptic frame of mind was [already] so widespread at the commencement of the Christian era that EVEN A SENECA COULD NOT KEEP HIS THOUGHTS FROM THE EARLY ARRIVAL OF THE END OF THE WORLD [see Addition 34, 1614]." [35].

● ● ● ● ●


from: Which:

Spiritualism or Christianity?


Friendly Correspondence


Moses Hull, Spiritualist,


W.F. Parker, Christian.


"Fair Truth, for thee alone we seek,

                               Friend to the wise, supporter to the weak;

                               From thee we learn whate'er is wise and just;

                               Creeds to reject, professions to distrust;

                               Forms to despise, pretensions to deride;

                               And following thee to follow naught beside."

D.M. Bennett:

Liberal and Scientific Publishing House

141 Eighth Street, New York

Pb. ["1873"]. [178 pages, plus, 2 pages of advertisements]. [Signed on the cover, and, with a bookmark: "Ralph W. Putnam"]. [included for historic, etc., interest].

"Hull's Second Letter."

'VII. My brother ["W.F. Parker, Christian."], this letter is lengthening almost beyond what courtesy could demand of you to read; yet I must notice one request of yours, and I hope you will occupy all the space you wish in reply. You ask me to show the advantage of Spiritualism over Christianity in the development of humanity. Please examine the following twenty propositions. I will give you more before this correspondence ceases.*

Spiritualism is better calculated to elevate man than Judaism or Christianity,—

1. Because it recognizes the soul as being the highest authority. Its language is, Man has an inspiration which, if followed, will guide him as unerringly as the instincts of a bird will guide it on its wing....


17. Because it lifts its adherents out of a cold church materialism, and gives them a knowledge of endless life.

18. Because it calls the mind away from the weak, revengeful, passionate, illiterate human spirit that the Bible calls God, and bids its adherents behold God in all nature....

VIII. You ask whether the Spiritualism I wish you to embrace is orderly or disorderly. I answer, yes. My Spiritualism is both a philosophy and religion. Some of it is written in books, some of it is not. It teaches "for truth" that man, as a spiritual being, is allied to the world of spirits; that spirit comes en rapport with spirit, whether in or out of the body. Thus it puts the fact of spirit communion as demonstrative, and therefore "authoritative." "What has it done to make its adherents better?" I answer, in the language of Paul, "Much every way."

Hoping to hear from you soon, and that our correspondence may soon develop into a pointed and concise presentation of the issues between us.

Permit me to subscribe myself.

                                                                                     Your brother,

                                                                                                Moses Hull.'

[17, 18, 20, 21].

_____ _____ _____


from: Antiquity Unveiled, Ancient Voices from the Spirit Realms Disclose the Most Startling Revelations, Proving Christianity to be of Heathen Origin, Truth crushed by Priests shall rise again. Philadelphia: Oriental Publishing Co., 1892. J.M. Roberts [1821 - 1888 ("American lawyer")]. [Reprint available from:].

[One of the rarer books in my library. MUCH AMUSEMENT! MUCH SUGGESTION. VERY INGENIOUS, BRILLIANT, ETC. NOTE: INCLUDED, IN PART, FOR ENTERTAINMENT (I smile, whenever I think of this book). The hocus-pocus of the author (J.M. Roberts), seemingly, was designed as a homologic homeopathic antidote (also, contradistinction) to the hocus-pocus of Christians]. Also, THERE IS MUCH, apparent, FUNDAMENTAL ACCURACY].



Excursus: from: Sixty-Five Press Interviews with Robert G. Ingersoll [1833 - 1899], What the Great Agnostic Told Numerous Newspaper-Reporters During a Quarter—Century of Public Appearances as a Freethinker and Enemy of Superstition, Introduction by Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Foreword by Richard M. Smith, American Atheist Press, 2000 (1983).


[Received, and first seen, 12/11/2000].


[Note: I found this reference on "Spiritualism", after writing the previous paragraph (2149)].



There are several good things about the spiritualists. First, they are not bigoted; second, they do not believe in salvation by faith; third, they don't expect to be happy in another world because Christ was good in this; fourth, they do not preach the consolation of hell; fifth, they do not believe in God as an infinite monster; sixth, the spiritualists believe in intellectual hospitality. In these respects they are far superior to the saints.

I think that the spiritualists have done good. They believe in enjoying themselves in having a little pleasure in this world. They are social, cheerful, and good-natured. They are not the slaves of a book. Their hands and feet are not tied with passages of Scripture. They are not troubling themselves about getting forgiveness and settling their heavenly debts for a cent on the dollar. Their belief does not make them mean or miserable.

They do not persecute their neighbors. They ask no one to have faith or believe without evidence. They ask all to investigate, and then to make up their minds from the evidence. Hundreds of thousands of well-educated, intelligent people are satisfied with the evidence and firmly believe in the existence of spirits. For all I know, they may be rightbut... [ellipses, by author]


Q. The spiritualists have indirectly claimed that you were in many respects almost one of them. Have you given them reason to believe so?


A. I am not a spiritualist, and have never pretended to be. The spiritualists believe in free thought, in freedom of speech, and they are willing to hear the other sidewilling to hear me. The best thing about the spiritualists is that they believe in intellectual hospitality.


Q. Is spiritualism a religion or a truth?


A. I think that spiritualism may properly be called a religion. It deals with two worlds—teaches the duty of man to his fellows—the relation that this life bears to the next. It claims to be founded on facts. It insists that the "dead" converse with the living, and that information is received from those who once lived in this world. Of the truth of these claims I have no sufficient evidence.

Q. Are all mediums impostors?


A. I will not say that all mediums are imposters, because I do not know. I do not believe that these mediums get any information or help from "spirits." I know that for thousands of years people have believed in mediums—in spiritualism. A spirit in the form of a man appeared to Samson's mother, and afterward to his father.

Spirits, or angels, called on Abraham. The witch of Endor raised the ghost of Samuel. An angel appeared with three men in the furnace. The handwritings on the wall was done by a spirit. A spirit appeared to Joseph in a dream, to the wise men and to Joseph again.

So a spirit and angel, or a God, spoke to Saul, and the same happened to Mary Magdalene.

The religious literature of the world is filled with such things. Take spiritualism from Christianity and the whole edifice crumbles. All religions, so far as I know, are based on spiritualism—on communications received from angels, from spirits.

I do not say that all the mediums, ancient or modern, were, and are, impostors—but I do think that all the honest ones were, and are, mistaken. I do not believe that man has ever received any communication from angels, spirits, or gods. No whisper, as I believe, has ever come from any other world. The lips of the dead are always closed. From the grave there has come no voice. For thousands of years people have been questioning the dead. They have tried to catch the whisper of a vanished voice. Many say that they have succeeded. I do not know....' [240-241].

End of Excursus.

_____ _____ _____



Excursus: from: A Rationalist Encyclopaedia, A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and Science, Joseph McCabe, Watts, 1950 (1948).


'Spiritualism. The belief that the "spirits" of the dead are in communication with the living. The correct name is "Spiritism," which the French use, because Spiritualism is the opposite of Materialism, and simply means a belief in the existence of spiritual beings, disembodied or otherwise. A supposed communication with spirits has been widely claimed in all ages, but Spiritualists explain the genesis of the modern organized movement by saying that the increasing gravity of world affairs induced the spirits to get into regular communication with the living [compare: the noises made by Christians, concerning the arrival of "Jesus", and the depravity of Rome; etc.]. In point of fact it began in a childish fraud in 1848—the London Spiritualists celebrated the "seventy-second birthday" of the movement in 1920—and it has been ever since, like so many religious organizations, a "racket" in which professional mediums and organizers exploit a body of followers....


Common sense began to make itself heard about 1857, and the movement shrank; but the mediums had already invaded the richer pastures of England, and here again several scientific and literary men were duped....' [556].


End of Excursus.



"ANTIQUITY UNVEILED.—Christianity proved to be of heathen origin in a long series of communications from ancient spirits concerning the religious history of mankind.

          This volume contains a wonderful treasury of knowledge and explains how the life and teachings of Apollonius of Tyana [another Fictional character (see Addition 26, 1182-1248)] were appropriated, upon which to construct Christianity, the name of Jesus being used in place of Apollonius to hide the truth.

          It proves that all religions originated in sun worship.


          It lays bare the system of deception practiced by the founders of Christianity.



          It is the book of the Nineteenth Century


          625 pages, illustrated, well bound in cloth and gilt. Price $1.50.

Postage 12 cents." ["609" ("609"-"610", advertisements and end of book)].


          One who loved Truth more than the commendation of men, left on record as a legacy to the human race, a sentiment, at once so truly religious, broad and elevating, that we quote his lines in this connection:

"The world is my country,

To do good my religion."—Paine.

          With the same broad and philanthropic spirit which inspired the above we dedicate this work to the world.' [III].


Apollonius of Tyana, the Jesus of Nazareth,

St. Paul and John the Revelator, of the

Christian Scriptures, Returns to Earth

as a Spirit, and Explains the Mysteries

that have Concealed the

Theological Deception

of the Christian


          Before entering upon this all absorbing subject, it is simply proper by way of explanation to inform the reader that previous to the date given below, Mr. Roberts had been having regular weekly sittings with the medium through whom these communications were received, but in reference to the sitting on May 25th, 1881,

Mr. Roberts records in his notes the following: "Having been informed who would next manifest through the medium, the time having arrived, I felt a thrill of astonishment and delight of the greatest intensity, and the very air of the humble apartment in which we sat seemed filled with a mighty spiritual power, as the name of Apollonius of Tyana was announced, and we were greeted for the first time by the great Cappadocian sage and philosopher, as well as the greatest teacher and benefactor that ever drew to himself the love, admiration and reverence of the civilized world,—Apollonius, the Spirit Anointed Christ of the Orient." His communication was as follows:


[Apollonius of Tyana [a Fictional character! (see Addition 26, 1182-1248)]: "spirit communication": ]

"Let our salutation be, the survival of truth and its conquest of Superstition. I was born, according to the Christian calendar, on the 16th day of February, A.D. 2, of wealthy parents; was educated, until my 26th year, in general philosophy and literature, when I served for six years under Euxenes, of Heracleia, learning the Pythagorian philosophy. After acquiring all I could learn from the teachings of that philosopher, I went to Antioch, and from there to Jerusalem. On account of some wonderful physical manifestations of spirit power taking place through my then young mediumship, which persons living in Jerusalem had heard of, my entrance to that city was hailed, as it has been alleged the entrance of Jesus of Nazareth was hailed, with hosannas and songs of praise to one who came in the name of the Lord. And now, mark particularly what I say; this took place when I was thirty-three years of age. I want you to pay the closest attention to what I shall here set forth. You will, by examining Josephus's work, 'War of the Jews,' see, that concerning the siege of Jerusalem a certain prophecy was given, or words were spoken, as is alleged, by Jesus of Nazareth, which were fulfilled. You will find what I refer to, in Matthew, 23d chapter and 35th verse, where the so-called Jesus is made to have asserted that that generation were guilty of all the blood that had been shed from Abel to Zacharias, the son of Baroch, slain between the temple and the altar exactly thirty-four years after the alleged death of Jesus. And you will find this prophecy then fulfiled, while Jesus is made to have said that it was fulfilled in his time; and here you have an example of the unauthenticity of the Christian Gospels. All this I learned at the very time at which Flavius Josephus wrote the history of the 'War of the Jews,' for I was employed and used by the Emperor Vespasian as his oracle, when in the same state as this medium is, who now sits before you.

          "Never, during my mortal life, did I desire to be worshipped after death—never did I, as a mortal man, teach such a doctrine. But I was deified after my death. Nine epistles were made a present to me by Phraotes of Taxila, India, or rather between Babylon and India, who was a satrap, in those days. Those epistles contained all that is embraced in the present epistles claimed to have been written by St. Paul. And from what I have learned, as a spirit, I conclude that I am both the Jesus and St. Paul of the Christian scriptures. Flattering enough to my vanity, but the ruin of my happiness. It is my duty, here, to confess all I can bring to recollection, in order that spiritual darkness may disperse and the light of truth shine in...."'

[End of "spirit communication" of Apollonius of Tyana] ["17"-21].

          [Roberts] "We have found enough evidence in the works referred to above to show that Plotinus was beyond all question a medium; and no one will deny that he was the first Neo-Platonic Eclectic author of whose writings we have any trace. It is the spirit of this truly great and good man who comes back to testify to facts regarding the Christian Scriptures and religion, which absolutely confirms the spirit testimony of Ulphilas, Apollonius of Tyana, Vespasian, Deva Bodhisatoua, Felix, Ignatius, Gregory, Hegessippus and many others; that the original source of all that is called Christianity was the Scriptures of Buddhism, introduced into Western Asia, Europe and Africa, by Apollonius of Tyana, afterward modified by Amonius the


Peripatetic, Potamon, Amonius Saccas, and Plotinus himself. Thus do the facts accumulate that must render as clear as the noonday sun that CHRISTIANITY IS A MONSTROUS FRAUD AND DELUSION, that has desolated the earth and filled the spirit world with demons...." [58].

          'Every rational person might have known that the writings of the New Testament, were the work of a man or a school of men who sought to blend such portions of the preceding creeds, doctrines, ceremonies, practices, and religious formulas into a single religion, that would serve to harmonize and unite mankind in one common effort to advance the welfare of all. No person can attentively read the New Testament writings, and not perceive the fact that there is hardly a paragraph of them which does not contain very clear evidence that it is but a slightly modified reproduction of some tenet or doctrine of some one or more of the various religious systems prevailing at the time of their production, or that prevailed in the reign of Augustus, when Potamon lived and founded the Eclectic school of religious instruction. The religious systems of China, India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Palestine, and even the Druidical system of Northern and Western Europe, were largely drawn from to make up the Eclectic system of religion founded by Potamon; a religion which for a period of more than a hundred years after he died in exile, was suppressed, and then revived as being of divine origin, and attributed to "Ies," the Phoenician name of the god Bacchus or the Sun personified; the etymological meaning of that title being, "i" the one and "es" the fire or light; or taken as one word "ies" the one light. This is none other than the light of St. John's gospel; and this name is to be found everywhere on Christian altars, both Protestant and Catholic, thus clearly showing that the Christian religion is but a modification of the Oriental Sun Worship, attributed to Zoroaster.' [71].

'Origenes or Origen.

Claimed to have been a Christian Father.

[Origen c. 185 - c. 254: "spirit communication": ]

"Sir:—Many persons ask this question? Why do you and the spirits coming through this medium KEEP CONSTANTLY AGITATING THE QUESTION 'DID JESUS CHRIST REALLY LIVE?' To those who are free from this, or at least to many of them, it makes no difference, but to the millions held in slavery to this soul-killing doctrine of redemption by his blood this question is of vital importance. Centuries of time have elapsed since I entered the spirit life. I was reared a Pagan. I embraced this doctrine in my mortal life, but realized the foolishness of all its teachings before I entered spirit life. I regret that I ever wrote one sentence toward fostering and upholding the so-called Christian religion. The misfortune has been this. The Christian priesthood have been careful to preserve everything that I wrote in favor of their religion, but they have been equally careful to destroy all my written denunciations of it, at least so far as they possibly could. I was young when I first learned of Christianity. It appealed to my ardent nature so strongly, that it subjected my reason to a passion for religion, and especially for that religion. But as I matured in years, I became perfectly aware of


the weak points of Christianity, and the more I studied it, the weaker the fabric became, and because I became an Infidel to that foolish teaching, I was accused by my contemporaries of having relapsed into Paganism. By the great Divine, I heartily wish I had never had anything to do with it. I am called one of the Christian Fathers. I deny the statement, because I do not want to be understood as the father of any religion. ALL RELIGIONS ARE FOUNDED UPON UNTRUTHS, and they must and will all go down together. I HERE DECLARE THAT CHRISTIANITY AND SO-CALLED PAGANISM ARE IDENTICAL, FOR THE ONE IS THE OUTGROWTH OF THE OTHER. All the evidence I could collect in my mortal life about their so-called Jesus, convinced me that no such person ever lived, and turned me against the Christian religion. I could find no evidence as to the existence or place of the birth of this Christ. THERE WAS NOT A SCRAP OF AUTHENTIC EVIDENCE TO BE FOUND AS LATE AS THE YEAR 180 OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA, THAT AFFORDED ANY RELIABLE INFORMATION IN RELATION TO THIS SO-CALLED JESUS CHRIST. THE WHOLE OF THE NARRATIVES IN RELATION TO SUCH A PERSON, WERE DERIVED FROM THE GREEK AND EGYPTIAN GOD-MAKERS I believed as a mortal, and as a spirit, I now know to be the fact. There never has been, and there never will be, so far as I can learn as a spirit, any interference whatever between God and man. But men and women have been interfered with by spirits; many of them with good purposes, but legions of them the devils of the spirit life. It is these poisoned and darkened human spirits that hang like a whip of scorpions o'er the earth to lash mortals for the errors they have made, and are still propagating. I have acquired a true knowledge of these things as a spirit, therefore I affirm that I have made this communication honestly, and have told the truth and nothing but the truth as I hope for eternal happiness. I was known when here as Origen."

[End of "spirit communication" of Origen]

          Refer to Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography.

          We think if our readers will carefully read and account of Origen's life by the light of the foregoing communication from the spirit of that great and learned man, they cannot fail to see the vast importance of that spirit communication. It makes plain all disputed questions in relation to the views and career of Origen. The statement of Porphyry that he was reared a Pagan, which can be found in the account of Origen given in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, is positively attested by the spirit, and there can be no doubt of its truth. As he says at an early age he learned of Christianity, and during his youth and earlier manhood was ardently attached to that faith. This change in religious convictions in all probability continued until his visit to Greece where he attended the school of Ammonius Saccas the follower of the founder of Eclecticism, Potamon of Alexandria, after which time he no doubt adopted the teachings of Ammonius, who was himself a spiritual medium, and addressed his hearers while entranced, as do our modern mediums. From that time, no doubt, dated the alienation of Origen from the doctrines of Christianity which were all shown to be untrue by the teachings of spirits. From that time forward Origen was no more a Christian than was Anmonius Saccas; although ranked among the Fathers of Christianity. For the Christian Church to claim Origen as one of its greatest lights is


a desperate resource, view the matter in any light we may; but such was the paucity of evidence for the first two hundred years of the Christian era, that the Christian priesthood were glad to avail themselves of....' [89-90].


[Note: the following, is brilliant, and (especially, for the time, c. 1880) courageous].

          [author (J.M. Roberts)] "Why is Christianity so revered by the people of to-day? Certainly not because they realize that its teachings are true, as they are accepted without question. The answer is, because it has been clothed with an apparel entirely foreign to its true character. A false sacredness has been thrown around its mythical teachings by priestcraft. The sympathy and imagination of the devotee have been drawn upon by depicting the sufferings of an innocent victim [JESUS], WHO IN REALITY NEVER EXISTED, until they have become an actuality in the mind. If Christianity was stripped of this superficial covering, now made attractive by all the embellishments that intellect and eloquence can devise, it would present an image which would at once be recognized as a relic of heathen mythology.


and accept blindly the absurd doctrines that even the religious teachers themselves cannot explain. Fortunately, however, they are being explained in this generation from a source and in a manner that cannot be refuted. Why do we find the masses more intelligent to-day than in former centuries? Surely not by reason of this legacy of heathenism. Education is the principal factor in the production of this marked change. To illustrate, we refer our readers to those countries where Christianity has predominated for centuries without education, or with only such as would not interfere with its man-made religion. They will find that in the proportion the church power has been absolute, ignorance, misery and bloodshed has prevailed. Then glance over our own country, with its free school system, free institutions and government, with entire [sic] separation of Church and State, and where Christianity rests on its merits [which merits?], WITH NO COMPULSORY POWER TO ENFORCE SUBMISSION TO ITS [CHRISTIANITY] DICTATES AS OF OLD, and very marked results will be seen for the better. Christianity and the church have followed the march of civilization instead of leading it, while THE MINISTRY HAVE HUGGED THEIR PRECIOUS DELUSIONS TO THEIR HEARTS AND FORCED AS FAR AS POSSIBLE THEIR RELIGIOUS [POLITICAL, ETC.] TEACHINGS UPON THE PEOPLE." [603].

[See: 2149 (my reasons, for including these excerpts)].

● ● ● ● ●


from: The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors; or Christianity before Christ. Containing new, startling, and extraordinary revelations in religious history, which disclose the oriental origin of all the doctrines, principles, precepts, and miracles of the Christian New Testament, and furnishing a key for unlocking many of its sacred mysteries, besides comprising the History of Sixteen Heathen Crucified Gods. By Kersey Graves, Author of "The Biography of Satan," and "The Bible of Bibles," (comprising a description of twenty Bibles.) Fifth edition, revised and enlarged. Boston. Colby and Rich, Publishers, No. 9 Montgomery Place. 1877 (1875).

[reprint available from].

"Preface to the Second Edition"

          "The author also desires to say here, that the many flattering letters he has received from various parts of the country, from those who have supplied themselves with the work, excites in his mind the hope it will ultimately effect something towards achieving the important end sought to be attained by its publication—the banishment of that wide-spread delusion comprehended in the belief in an incarnate, virgin-born God, called Jesus Christ, and the infallibility of his teachings, with the numerous evils growing legitimately out of this belief—among the most important of which is, its cramping effect upon the mind of the possessor, which interdicts its growth, and thus constitutes a serious obstacle to the progress both of the individual and of society. And such has been the blinding effect of this delusion upon all who have fallen victims to its influence, that the numerous errors and evils of our popular system of religious faith, which constitute its legitimate fruits, have passed from age to age, unnoticed by all except scientific and progressive minds, who are constantly bringing these errors and evils to light. This state of things has been a source of sorrow and regret to every philanthropist desiring the welfare of the race. And if this work shall achieve anything towards arresting this great evil, the author will feel that he is amply compensated for the years of toil and mental labor spent in its preparation."

[10] [End of "Preface to the Second Edition"].

'Address to the Clergy.

          Friends and brethren—teachers of the Christian faith: Will you believe us when we tell you the divine claims of your religion are gone—all swept away by the "logic of history," and nullified by the demonstrations of science? The recently opened fountains of historic lore, many of whose potent facts will be found interspersed through the pages of this work, sweep away the last inch of ground on which can be predicated the least show for either the divine origin of the Christian religion, or the divinity of Jesus Christ. For these facts demonstrate beyond all cavil and criticism, and with a logical force which can leave not the vestige of a doubt upon any unbiased mind, that all its ["Christian religion"] doctrines are an outgrowth from older heathen systems. Several systems of religion essentially the same in character and spirit as that religion now known as Christianity, and setting forth the same doctrines, principles, and precepts, and several personages filling a chapter in history almost identical with that of Jesus Christ, it is now known to those who are up with the discoveries and intelligence of the age, were venerated in the East centuries before a religion called Christian, or a personage called Jesus Christ, were known to history.


Will you not, then, give it up that YOUR [CHRISTIAN] RELIGION IS MERELY A HUMAN PRODUCTION, RECONSTRUCTED FROM HEATHEN MATERIALS,—FROM ORIENTAL SYSTEMS SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS OLDER THAN YOURS,—or will you continue, in spite of the unanimous and unalterable verdict of history, science, facts, and logic, to proclaim to the world the now historically demonstrated error which you have so long preached, that God is the author of your religion, and Jesus Christ a Deity-begotten Messiah? Though you may have heretofore honestly believed these doctrines to be true, you can now no longer plead ignorance as an excuse for propagating such gigantic and serious errors, as they are now overwhelmingly demonstrated by a thousand facts of history to be untrue. You must abandon such exalted claims for your religion, or posterity will mark you as being "blind leaders of the blind." They will heap upon your honored names their unmitigated ridicule and condemnation. They will charge you as being either deplorably ignorant, or disloyal to the cause of truth. And shame and ignominy will be your portion. The following propositions (fatal to your claims for Christianity) are established beyond confutation by the historical facts cited in this work, viz.:—


             1.     There were many cases of the miraculous birth of Gods reported in history before the case of Jesus Christ.

             2.     Also many other cases of Gods being born of virgin mothers.

             3.     Many of these Gods, like Christ, were (reputedly) born on the 25th of December.

             4.     Their advent into the world, like that of Jesus Christ, is in many cases claimed to have been foretold by "inspired prophets."

             5.     Stars figured at the birth of several of them, as in the case of Christ.

             6.     Also angels, shepherds, and magi, or "wise men."

             7.     Many of them, like Christ, were claimed to be of royal or princely descent.

             8.     Their lives, like his, were also threatened in infancy by the ruler of the country.

             9.     Several of them, like him, gave early proof of divinity.

           10.    And, like him, retired from the world and fasted.

           11.    Also, like him, declared, "My kingdom is not of this world."

           12.    Some of them preached a spiritual religion. [sic] too, like his.

           13.    And were "anointed with oil," like him.

           14.    Many of them, like him, were "crucified for the sins of the world."

           15.    And after three days' internment "rose from the dead."

           16.    And finally, like him, are reported as ascending back to heaven.

           17.    The same violent convulsions of nature at the crucifixion of several are reported.

           18.    They were nearly all called "Saviors," "Son of God," "Messiah," "Redeemer," "Lord," &c. ....' [19-21].

_____ _____ _____


from: Bible of Bibles, or Twenty-seven Divine Revelations, Containing a Description of Twenty-seven Bibles, and an Exposition of Two thousand Biblical Errors in Science, History, Morals, Religion, and General Events. Also a delineation of the characters of the principal personages of the Christian Bible and an examination of their doctrines. Kersey Graves. Kessinger [] reprint, n.d. (1879). [a Classic!].

'List of Contents.


The Leading Positions of this Work                                                                              9

Chapter I.

The Signs of the Times.—The Coming Revolution.—Reason

          will soon Triumph                                                                                              11

Chapter II.

Apology and Explanation.—Jehovah not our God.—Relationship

          of the Old and New Testaments                                                                       17

Chapter III.

Why this Work was Written.—The Moral Truths of the Bible.—

          Why Resort to Ridicule.—The Principal Design of this

          Work—Don't Read Pernicious Books.—Two Thousand Bible

          Errors Exposed.—All Bibles Useful in Their Place                                           20

Chapter IV.

Beauties and Benefits of Bibles.—A Higher Plane of Development

          has been Attained.—Bible Writers Honest.—General Claims of

          Bibles                                                                                                                  28

Twenty-seven Bibles Described.

Chapter V.

The Hindoo Bibles.—The Vedas.—The Code of Menu.—Ramayana.—

          Mahabarat.—The Purans.—Analogies of the Hindoo and

          Jewish Religions.—Antiquity of India                                                               32

Chapter VI.

The Egyptian Bible, "The Hermas."—Analogies of the Egyptian

          and Jewish Religions.—Antiquity of Egypt                                                      42

Chapter VII.Page

The Persian Bibles.—The Zenda Avesta.—The Sadder.—Analogies

          of the Persian and Jewish Religions.—Antiquity of Persia                             46


Chapter VIII.

The Chinese Bibles.—Ta-Heo (Great Learning).—The Chun Yung; or,

          Doctrine of the Mean.—The Book of Mang, or Mencius—Shoo

          King; or, "Book of History."—Shee King; or, "Book of

          Poetry."—Chun Tsen, "Spring and Summer."—Tao-te King; or,

          Doctrine of Reason.—Analogies of the Chinese and Jewish

          Religions.—Antiquity of China                                                                           50

Chapter IX.

Seven Other Oriental Bibles.—The Soffees' Bible: The "Musnavi."

          —The Parsees' Bible: The "Bour Desch."—The Tamalese Bible:

          The "Kaliwakam."—The Scandinavian Bible: The "Saga;" or,

          Divine Wisdom.—The Kalmucs' Bible: The "Kalio Cham."—The

          Athenians' Bible: "The Testament."—The Cabalists' Bible:

          The "Yohar;" or, Book of Light                                                                         55

Chapter X.

The Mahomedan's Bible: The "Koran."—The Mormons' Bible: "The

          Book of Mormon."—Revelations of Joseph Smith.—The Shakers'

          Bible: "The Divine Roll"                                                                                   57

Chapter XI.

The Jews' Bible: The Old Testament and the Mishna                                              61

Chapter XII.

The Christians' Bible: Its Character                                                                           62

Chapter XIII.

General Analogies of Bibles.—Superior Features of the

          Heathen Bibles                                                                                                   65

Chapter XIV.

The Infidels' Bible                                                                                                         68

Two Thousand Bible Errors—Old-Testament


Chapter XV.Page

A Hundred and Twenty-Three Errors in the Jewish Cosmogony

          —The Scientists' Story of Creation                                                                    73

Chapter XVI.

Numerous Absurdities in the Story of the Deluge                                                     89


Chapter XVII.

The Ten Commandments, Moral Defects of                                                               96

Chapter XVIII.

Ten Foolish Bible Stories: A Talking Serpent and a Talking

          Ass.—The Story of Cain.—The Ark of the Covenant.—

          Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.—Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar.—

          Sodom and Gomorrah.—The Tower of Babel.—Stopping the

          Sun and Moon.—Story of Samson.—Story of Jonah                                      100

Chapter XIX.

Bible Prophecies not Fulfilled                                                                                   121

Chapter XX.

Bible Miracles, Erroneous Belief in                                                                          124

Chapter XXI.

Bible Errors in Facts and Figures                                                                             128

Chapter XXII.

Bible Contradictions (277)                                                                                         134

Chapter XXIII.

Obscene Language of the Bible (200 cases) [see: Akerley; Kasmar]                     145

Chapter XXIV.

Circumcision a Heathenish Custom.—Fasting and Feasting in

          Various Nations                                                                                               149

Chapter XXV.

Holy Mountains, Lands, Cities, and Rivers                                                              151

Bible Characters.

Chapter XXVI.Page

Jehovah, Character of                                                                                               153

Chapter XXVII.

The Jews, Character of                                                                                              157

Chapter XXVIII.

Moses, Character of                                                                                                   160


Chapter XXIX.

The Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Character of                                     166

Chapter XXX.

David: His Numerous Crimes.—Solomon, Character of.—Lot

          and his Daughters                                                                                           173

Chapter XXXI.

The Prophets: Their Moral Defects.—Special Notice of Elijah

          and Elisha                                                                                                        177

Chapter XXXII.

Idolatry: Its Nature, Harmlessness, and Origin.—All Christians

          Either Atheists or Idolaters                                                                             187

Bible Errors—New Testament Department.

Chapter XXXIII.

Divine Revelation Impossible and Unnecessary                                                     212

Chapter XXXIV.

Primeval Innocency of Man not True                                                                        219

Chapter XXXV.

Original Sin and Fall of Man not True                                                                       222

Chapter XXXVI.

Moral Depravity of Man a Delusion                                                                           224

Chapter XXXVII.

Free Agency and Moral Accountability Erroneous                                                 227

Chapter XXXVIII.

Repentance: The Doctrine Erroneous                                                                     231

Chapter XXXIX.Page

Forgiveness for Sin an Erroneous Doctrine                                                            236

Chapter XL.

An Angry God, Evils of the Belief in                                                                         239

Chapter XLI.

Atonement for Sin an Immoral Doctrine                                                                  242


Chapter XLII.

Special Providences an Erroneous Doctrine                                                           246

Chapter XLIII.

Faith and Belief: Bible Errors Respecting                                                              250

Chapter XLIV.

A Personal God Impossible                                                                                       253



Chapter XLV.

Evil, Natural and Moral, Explained                                                                            255

Chapter XLVI.

A Rational View of Sin and Its Consequences                                                        261

Chapter XLVII.

The Bible Sanctions Every Species of Crime                                                          266

Chapter XLVIII.

The Immoral Influence of the Bible                                                                           285

Chapter XLIX.

The Bible at War with Eighteen Sciences                                                                287

Chapter L.

The Bible as a Moral Necessity                                                                                 296

Chapter LI.

Send No More Bibles to the Heathen                                                                       303

Chapter LII.

What Shall We Do to be Saved?                                                                               307

Chapter LIII.

The Three Christian Plans of Salvation                                                                    334

Chapter LIV.Page

The True Religion Defined                                                                                         352

Chapter LV.

"All Scripture Given by Inspiration of God"                                                            356


Chapter LVI.

Infidelity in Oriental Nations: India, Rome, Greece, Egypt,

          China, Persia, and Arabia                                                                               368

Chapter LVII.

Sects, Schisms, and Skeptics in Christian Countries                                            378

Chapter VIII.

Modern Christianity one-half Infidelity                                                                     384

Chapter LIX.

The Christians' God, Character of                                                                            399

Chapter LX.

The One Hundred and Fifty Errors of Jesus Christ                                                401

Chapter LXI.

Character and Erroneous Doctrines of the Apostles                                              407

Chapter LXII.

Erroneous Doctrines and Moral Defects of Paul and Peter                                    408

Chapter LXIII.

Idolatrous Veneration for Bibles: Its Evils                                                              420

Chapter LXIV.

Spiritual or Implied Sense of Bibles: Its Objects                                                    425

Chapter LXV.

What Shall We Substitute for the Bible?                                                                  432

Chapter LXVI.

Religious Reconstruction; or, the Moral Necessity for a

          Religious Reform                                                                                             433

Conclusion                                                                                                                  437

' ["3"-9]. [See: Appendix II, 683-712 (Forlong)].


'The Leading Positions of this Work.

          We maintain, 1st, That man's mental faculties are susceptible of a threefold division and classification, as follows: First, the intellectual department; second, the moral and religious department; third, the animal department (which includes also the social).

          2d, That all Bibles and religions are an outgrowth from some or all of these faculties, and hence of natural origin.

          3d, That all Bibles and religions which originated prior to the dawn of civilization in the country which gave them birth (i.e., prior to the reign of moral and physical science) are an emanation from the combined action and co-operation of man's moral, religious, and animal feelings and propensities.

          4th, That the Christian Bible contains (as shown in this work) several thousand errors,—moral, religious, historical, and scientific.

          5th, That this fact is easily accounted for by observing that it originated at a period when the moral and religious feelings of the nation which produced it co-operated with the animal propensities instead of an enlightened intellect.

          6th, That, although such a Bible and religion may have been adapted to the minds which originated them, the higher class of minds of the present age demands a religion which shall call into exercise the intellect, instead of the animal propensities.

          7th, That, as all the Bibles and religions of the past are more of an emanation from the animal propensities than the intellect, they are consequently not suited to this age, and are for this reason being rapidly abandoned.

          8th, That true religion consists in the true exercise of the moral and religious faculties.

          9th, As the Christian Bible is shown in this work to inculcate bad morals, and to sanction, apparently, every species of crime prevalent in society in the age in which it was written, the language of remonstrance is frequently employed against placing such a book in the hands of the heathen, or the children of Christian countries; and more especially against making "the Bible the fountain of our laws and the supreme rule of our conduct," and acknowledging allegiance to its God in the Constitution of the United States, as recommended by the American Christian Alliance. Such measures, this work shows by a thousand facts, would be a deplorable check to the moral and intellectual progress of the world.

          10th, If any clergyman or Christian professor shall take any exceptions to any position laid down in this work, the author will discuss the matter with him in a friendly manner in the papers, or through the post-office, or before a public audience

Kersey Graves.

          Richmond, Indiana' ["9"-10].


'II. The Relationship of the Old and New Testaments.

          Some of the representatives of the Christian faith, when the shocking immoralities of the Old Testament are pointed out, attempt to evade the responsibility by alleging that they do not live under the old dispensation, but the new, thereby intimating that they are not responsible for the errors of the former. But the following considerations will show that such a defense is fallacious and entirely untenable:—


          1.     It takes both the Old and the New Testaments to constitute "the Holy Bible," which they accept as a whole.

          2.     Both are bound together, and circulated by the million, as possessing equal credibility and equal authority.

          3.     Both are quoted alike by clergymen and Christian writers.

          4.     The New Testament is inseparably connected with the Old.

          5.     The prophecies of the Old form the basis of the New.

          6.     Both are canonized together under the word "holy."

          7.     Nearly all the New-Testament writers, including Paul, indorse the Old Testament, and take no exception to any of its errors or any of its teachings. For these reasons, to accept one is to accept the other. Both [Old Testament-New Testament] stand or fall together.

          Note.—Christ modified some of Moses's errors, but indorsed [also, endorsed] most of the Old Testament errors.' [18-19] [End of Chapter II.].

'III. Why Resort to Ridicule?

          We hope we shall not be misunderstood or condemned by any reader for appearing to indulge frequently in a spirit of levity in attempting to expose the logical and moral absurdities of the Bible. We have assumed this license more from an apprehended moral necessity than from a natural disposition. Ridicule is now generally acknowledged by moralists to be a most potent weapon for the demolition of error. Moral and religious absurdities, according to Cicero, can be arrested and put down much sooner by "holding them up to the light of ridicule, than by any other means that can be employed." Let no one, then, oppose the use of such means simply because it may disturb a sensitive feeling in his own mind, derived from a false education. A critical investigation of religious history discloses the important fact, that the conviction established in the popular mind that it is wrong to indulge in a feeling of levity when writing or discoursing on religious subjects is the work of the clergy. Having discovered that many of the narrations of their Bible, and likewise many of the tenets of their creeds, are really ridiculous when examined in the light of science, reason, and sound sense, in order to prevent these ridiculous features of their systems from being exposed, they taught the people that ridicule is entirely out of place in matters of religion, and that such


feelings, or language expressive of such feelings, should be entirely suppressed.

And it is principally by the invention of this expedient, and the establishment of this conviction in the public mind, that the clergy have succeeded in keeping the ridiculous errors of their creeds concealed from age to age. And to continue this policy longer is only to yield to their interests, and prolong those evils still longer which have been perpetuated for centuries by the adoption of this expedient. No other argument or apology is necessary than this as a justification of the limited extent to which the language of ridicule has been employed in this work. It is an egregious error, which is the offspring of an erroneous education and habit [see Appendix X, 828 (Mencken) (Marx)], to suppose that ridicule is more out of place on religious subjects than on other subjects. O.S. Fowler has fully established this as a scientific fact on phrenological grounds. We should be quite sorry to wound the feelings of any sensitive mind by any language made use of in this work, and hope this explanation will prevent such results.' [21-22].

'General Claims of Bibles.

          More than twenty sacred books have been found in various countries, which, if not in all cases denominated Bibles, have at least been venerated and used as such, and, properly speaking, are Bibles. Hence we shall call them Bibles. The list in this chapter comprises nearly all which recent research has brought to light. A brief synopsis of the character and contents of each will be presented, so far as a comparative view with the Christian Bible seems to make it requisite.

          All of these Bibles possess some common characteristics:— 


           1.    All of them were claimed to be inspired.

           2.    All were claimed to be an embodiment of wisdom and knowledge far transcending the ordinary attainments of man.

           3.    All were penned by inspired men, who were shielded from the possibility of erring while writing them.

           4.    Each Bible is a finality in religious knowledge.

           5.    Each one is an authority from which there is no appeal.

           6.    It is a sin to question or doubt the truth of any of them, or to suggest the possibility of their containing errors.

           7.    Some of them were written by God, some by angels, and others by inspired men.

           8.    Each one points out the only safe and certain road to heaven.

           9.    He who is a disbeliever in any one of these holy books is an infidel.

         10.     Each one is to effect the salvation of the whole human race." [30-31] [End of Chapter IV.].


'Chapter LX.

One Hundred and Fifty Errors of Jesus Christ.

          In "The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors [see 2158]," under the head of "The Two Hundred Errors of Christ," the author has pointed out sixty errors in his teachings and practical life. It was the intention of the author to have completed the exposition in this chapter; but he has discovered that a full and through elucidation of all the errors would swell this volume beyond its proper size. He has therefore concluded to present a mere abstract of one hundred and fifty of those errors in this work, and reserve a fuller exposition to be comprised in a pamphlet to be published soon, and to contain also thirteen powerful and unanswerable arguments exposing the numerous absurdities and impossibilities of the orthodox theory that Christ possessed two natures, human and divine,—that he was both God and man [see Addition 30, 1316-1326 (Cohen)]. This assumption is known as "the hypostatic union," or dual nature of Christ. The pamphlet, comprising these two subjects, can be had when published, of the usual booksellers or the author, for twenty-five cents. 

          The admirers and worshipers of Jesus Christ adore him as a being of absolute perfection,—perfect in intelligence, perfect in wisdom, perfect in power, perfect in judgment, perfect in his practical life, and perfect is his moral inculcations. We are told, "He spake as never man spake;" and, finally, that he taught a system of religion and morals so absolutely faultless as to challenge the criticism of the world, and so perfect as to defy improvement: and to doubt or disbelieve this dogmatic assumption is to peril our eternal salvation. With this kind of teaching and preaching in the Christian pulpit for nearly two thousand years [see Appendix X, 828 (Mencken) (Marx)], it is not strange that the great mass of Christian professors have been blinded and kept in ignorance with respect to his numerous errors, which modern science has brought to light both in his teachings and his practical life, a portion of which will be found briefly noticed in this chapter under three heads: viz., (1) "Christ's Moral and Religious Errors," (2) "Christ's Scientific Errors," (3) "Christ's Errors of Omission."' [401-402].

● ● ● ● ●


from: Jesus of Nazareth, His Life, Times, and Teaching, Joseph Klausner, Ph.D. (Heidelberg), Jerusalem, Translated from the Original Hebrew by Herbert Danby, D.D. (Oxford), Residentiary Canon, St. George's Cathedral Church, Jerusalem; New York, Macmillan, 1925 (1922?).

          'A...more risky step was taken by Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) in his "Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte des Johannes" (1840), and "Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker" (1841-2). He not only gave a late date to John, Matthew and Luke, but even concluded that Mark's account of the life of Jesus contained nothing of real historical value. IN THE END, BAUER HELD THAT EVERYTHING RECORDED OF JESUS IS NOTHING BUT THE PRODUCT OF MARK'S ABLE IMAGINATION....

          At first Bauer thought that Jesus might have existed, although we do not know who he was or what he did; but later, in his "Christus und die Cäsaren: der Ursprung des Christentums aus dem römischen Griechentum" (1877) [see Addition 34, 1568-1572; etc.], he [BRUNO BAUER] CONCLUDED THAT THERE NEVER HAD BEEN SUCH A PERSON [JESUS]: HE WAS ONLY AN IMAGINARY BEING—A COMBINATION OF THE ROMAN PHILOSOPHER SENECA AND THE JEWISH ALEXANDRINE PHILOSOPHER PHILO.


          Bruno Bauer had removed Christianity from its Jewish, Palestinian setting into an Alexandrian-Jewish and Graeco-Roman framework.' [86].

"VIII. Conclusion: What is Jesus to the Jews?"

          '"Jesus was not a Christian," but he became a Christian. His teaching and his history have been severed from Israel. To this day the Jews have never accepted him [Jesus], while his disciples and his followers of every generation have scoffed at and persecuted the Jews and Judaism.' [413].

          'What is Jesus to the Jewish nation at the present day?

          TO THE JEWISH NATION he [JESUS] CAN BE NEITHER GOD NOR THE SON OF GOD, in the sense conveyed by belief in the Trinity. Either conception is to the Jew


not only impious and blasphemous, but incomprehensible. Neither can he, to the Jewish nation, be the Messiah: the kingdom of heaven (the "Days of the Messiah") is not yet come. NEITHER CAN THEY ["JEWISH NATION"] REGARD him [JESUS] AS A PROPHET: he lacks the Prophet's political perception and the Prophet's spirit of national consolation in the political-national sense.

          NEITHER CAN THEY REGARD him [JESUS] AS A LAWGIVER OR THE FOUNDER OF A NEW RELIGION: he did not even desire to be such. NEITHER IS he JESUS] A "TANNA," OR PHARISAIC RABBI: he nearly always ranged himself in opposition to the Pharisees and did not apprehend the positive side in their work, the endeavour to take within their scope the entire national life and to strengthen the national existence....

          But in his ethical code there is a sublimity, distinctiveness and originality in form unparalleled in any other Hebrew ethical code; neither is there any parallel to the remarkable art of his parables. The shrewdness and sharpness of his proverbs and his forceful epigrams serve, in an exceptional degree, to make ethical ideas a popular possession. If ever the day should come and this ethical code be stripped of its wrappings of miracles and mysticism, the Book of the Ethics of Jesus will be one of the choicest treasures in the literature of Israel for all time [in this last paragraph, some concessions, to Christians/Christianity].


          16 Marcheswan, 1922'                                                          [413-414] [End of text].

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from: Myth and Ritual in Christianity, Alan W. Watts, Beacon, Pb. 1968 (c1953).

'I feel that a still deeper light has been thrown upon the whole nature of myth by one of the most learned and universal-minded scholars of our time—the late Ananda Coomaraswamy [1877 - 1947], for many years curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

          Coomaraswamy represented an increasingly growing school of mythological and anthropological thought which has outgrown the provincialism of the nineteenth century, and has ceased to equate wisdom, progress, and culture with the peculiar abnormalities and agitations of the modern West. Since homo sapiens has probably inhabited this earth for something like a million years, it is rather rash to suppose that culture is a relatively recent phenomenon. Ananda Coomaraswamy has ably shown that extremely sophisticated and profound cultures have existed quite apart from the special types of apparatus which we think essential—such as writing, building in brick or stone, or the employment of machinery. Obviously, such cultures will neither pursue nor attain the life-goals which we consider important, but will have other goals out of all relation to the peculiar desires and "goods" of modern man.1 [see footnote, below]' [13-14].

          [footnote] "1See especially his Am I My Brother's Keeper (New York, 1947), published the same year in London with the title The Bugbear of Literacy." [14].

          "WESTERN MAN HAS AN ATTITUDE TO DEATH WHICH OTHER CULTURES FIND PUZZLING. The Christian way of thought has made so deep an impression upon our culture that this attitude prevails even when the intellectual assent to Christian dogma exists no more. For it is no easy matter to cast off the influence of our history, to be rid of a habit of thought and emotion which has prevailed for close to two thousand years [see Appendix X, 828 (Marx)]. Western man has learned a peculiarly exaggerated dread of death, because he has seen it as the event which will precipitate him for ever into either unspeakable joy or unimaginable misery. Few have dared to be quite certain as to the outcome, for though one might hope for the mercy of God, it was a very serious sin to presume upon it...." [207]. [See: 2182-2206].

          'HISTORICAL CHRISTIANITY IS THUS A RELIGION IN WHICH ANXIETY PLAYS A FAR GREATER PART THAN FAITH, and in which this anxiety is even valued as a virtue because it is a constant check to presumption and pride. Our culture has thus evolved a species which might be called homo sollicitus, "anxious man", always remembering that sollicitus means oscillating, wobbling, or trembling. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."1 [see footnote, below]' [208].

          [footnote] "1Philippians 2:12." [208].


          'At the present time it is hard to say whether the Christian myth is to stay with us as an effective power. Certain signs of revival do not warrant hasty conclusions, for there is all the difference in the world between genuine faith in God, on the one hand, and the tormented intellectual's faith in faith, on the other. As I have observed elsewhere,1 much of the present "return to religion" is based, not upon a veritable trust in God, but upon the feeling that faith in the Christian God is a social and psychological necessity. But Christianity cannot survive in the role of a "therapeutic illusion", nor as a mere refuge of authority and certainty FOR THOSE WHO SHRINK FROM THE BLEAK CONSEQUENCES OF LOGICAL THOUGHT, and still less as a nostalgic self-indulgence for those who need it as a pretext for the physical beauty of the Liturgy.

          I do not feel that the Christian myth has anything left to tell Western man unless he understands it outside-in. ....' [232].



The daily recitation of the Psalms by all clerics, in the form of the canonical Hours (q.v.). Probably instituted by St. Benedict in the sixth century, this custom is called the Opus Dei, the "work of God". Together with the Mass, the divine office constitutes the essential "prayer of the Church", showing that the Catholic philosophy of prayer is something quite other than the popular notion of the individual addressing his petitions and aspirations to God. For the Psalms are understood to be the "songs of the Holy Spirit", so that in reciting them man speaks to God with the voice of God. The point is that one cannot and does not pray as an individual, but only in so far as one is "no longer I, but Christ", as a member of the Mystical Body.' [248].

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The Jesus of the Early Christians, A Study in Christian Origins, G.A. Wells, Pemberton, 1971. [a Classic!].


Christianity is believed to have sprung from the career of Jesus which is depicted in the gospels. These documents have acquired such authority that one naturally assumes, in the first instance, that their contents are, at least in their essentials, true. However, this involves treating them in a very special and privileged way, not accorded to secular documents, nor even to the early documents of any other religion; for no Christian historian would be willing to accept as completely true any non-Christian document which abounded in miracles. Furthermore, miracles apart, there are contradictions which show that the events as narrated cannot all be true. THE NARRATIVES ["IN THE GOSPELS"] ARE ALSO UNCORROBORATED BY EXTERNAL EVIDENCE...." ["1"].

          "IF THERE WAS A HISTORICAL JESUS who preached in Galilee and was crucified under Pilate about AD 30, we should expect the authors who at that time wrote about the state of Palestine to say something of him. In fact, however, the extensive rabbinical literature of the time does not mention him, nor does Philo of Alexandria [c. 13 B.C.E. - 45-50 C.E.]; of the two passages in Josephus [c. 37 - c. 100] about Jesus the Christ, one is admitted to be a Christian interpolation and the authenticity of the other is disputed; and there are no pagan references which can be construed as relevant to Jesus' historicity until Tacitus, about AD 120, explained to his Roman audience that Christians are disreputable people who worship someone who was executed under Pilate. By this time the Christians were themselves alleging that their religion originated in this way, and Tacitus was simply uncritically repeating their view (see Chapter Seven below). But this is not what they ["Christians"] were alleging in their earliest extant documents. The writer of the epistles of John admits that many people at the time of these early Christian records denied that Jesus had 'come in the flesh', and he is himself quite unable to produce any realistic proof that he had (see below, pp. 156, 171 ff.). Other very early Christian documents are Paul's epistles addressed to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colosians and Thessalonians. All these are unanimously agreed to have been written well before the gospels [epistles and gospels, not earlier than second century], yet they exhibit such complete ignorance of the events which were later recorded in the gospels as to suggest that these events were not known to Paul. He [Paul] has no allusion to the parents of Jesus, the virgin birth, John the Baptist or Judas; he mentions no Jesuine miracles or gospel teachings. He [Paul] tells only of a cult, Jewish in origin, in which a crucified Jesus, called the Messiah, figures as an atoning sacrifice. Even to the crucifixion he [Paul] gives no historical setting, no indication of place or time. Biographical details which place Jesus in a definite historical situation only begin to appear in later epistles and, on the whole, the later the document the fuller the details [compare: Addition 21, 1078 ("most recent manufacture")]." [2-3].

          "In Part Two I show how Christianity could have originated without a historical Jesus. The theory I offer is consistent with the AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, but as this


evidence is REGRETTABLY SCANTY, I cannot claim to demonstrate what actually did happen, only what might well have happened...." [4].

"The early Christians' ideas had in part a Jewish basis, so one method of defending them was to search the scriptures for proof that they fulfilled the prophecies. Another technique was for writers to authenticate their views by claiming to have received special revelations, as Paul does. Another method of arguing the case for the death and resurrection of a particular god would be to place his death in a historical setting where it would seem plausible. I shall give evidence that this is the origin of the story that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate.1 Once a historical nucleus had thus been given to his career, further details were bound to be added. The emphasis of the early Christian societies on purity of living would lead the devotees to ascribe to their man—god all manner of ethical teachings. All the different strands—the Messianic redeemer, the man who saved the world with his blood, the teaching god—became fused in a COMPOSITE BIOGRAPHY ["JESUS"]." [5-6].


Readers of my book must decide for themselves whether, once we have abandoned the habit of brushing aside any thesis more radical than is compatible with the tenure of a theological chair, we find ourselves led to admitting that


          "The biblical quotations in this book are usually given from the RV [Revised Version] published in 1881 as a revision of the AV [Authorized Version] or King James Bible of 1611. The AV was made at a time when the important manuscripts were either unknown or incorrectly estimated, and I quote it in only a few cases where the RV has not substantially altered it. The RV is based on the oldest extant manuscripts, namely the Codex Vaticanus, which has been in the Vatican library for centuries, and the Codex Sinaiticus, discovered in 1859 in a monastery on Mount Sinai and now in the British Museum. Both date from the fourth century. Recent discoveries of third- and second-century material consist only of fragments, so the fourth-century codices are still our main sources." [6-7].

"Chapter Two

Jesus as Teacher and Prophet

(i) Ethical discourses in the gospels

It is sometimes asserted that, however weak the evidence for Jesus' miracles, he stands out as an inspired ethical teacher, a moral genius who must certainly have been a historical personage. In fact, however, all the ethically acceptable doctrines in the gospels can be found in previous pagan writers, as was admitted by Bishop Thirlwall (269, pp. 37–8). Farrer (91, Chapter IX) quotes inculcations of


unselfishness from Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.]; of brotherly love for all mankind from both Seneca and Cicero [106 - 43 B.C.E.]; of charity from these two and others; and of forgiveness, toleration and leniency from many pagan writers [see Addition 34, 1496-1644]. What the ancient Egyptian regarded as his duty to his neighbour is shown by a series of addresses known as the 'Negative Confession', quoted by Budge [Sir Wallis Budge 1857 - 1934] from a Papyrus of the fourteenth century BC. The list was recited, it was believed, by each departed soul at its judgment, and comprises, as Budge observes (41, pp. 128–35), a very extensive code of morality. It runs: ....

  8. I have not purloined the things which belong unto God....

15. I have invaded no man's land.

16. I have not slaughtered animals which are the possessions of God....

21. I have not committed fornication nor sodomy.

22. I have not polluted myself.

23. I have not lain with the wife of a man....

28. I have not uttered blasphemies....

31. I have not pierced my skin and I have not taken vengeance on the god....

33. I have not committed fraud and I have not looked upon evil....

35. I have not fouled running water....

42. I have not thought scorn of the god of the city.

          Christian commentators ascribe to Jesus doctrines which are absent from the gospels. Although it is one of the commonplaces of present-day moralists that his teaching has promoted happy family life, this view is hard to reconcile with the texts where he encourages people to break up their families for religious reasons (Lk. xiv, 26). Equally striking is the gospel disparagement of married life (Mt. xix, 10–12). Paul's views on this subject are well known (I. Cor. vii). And in Rev. xiv, 4 we are told that the men who will be saved are 'they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins'." [55-57].

          "Before inquiring further into what standard of goodness Jesus sets up in the gospels, we may note his statements concerning the fate of those who are not good. The 'goats' get no mercy at the final judgment, but are told to depart 'into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels' (Mt. xxv, 31–46). This doctrine of eternal punishment had been utterly rejected by Epictetus [c. 55 - c. 135 C.E.], Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.] and others (see 91, pp. 115 ff.). The inferiority of Christianity here is admitted with characteristic candour in the Biblica [Encyclopaedia Biblica] (55, §82 and note)." [57].

          "If we read the gospels in order to discover what standard of goodness they advocate, we find that they contain less ethical teaching than is commonly supposed.


In Mk. [Mark] there is practically none. He records one miracle after another in order to convince us that Jesus was the Messiah, but he is not interested in what Jesus preached and repeatedly alludes to 'the gospel' and to Jesus' teachings without telling us wherein they consist (i, 15, 21, 39; iii, 14, etc.)...." [57].

"The most reasonable ethical pronouncements in the rather meagre assemblage of Mk. ARE clearly THOSE TAKEN FROM THE OT [see Addition 34, 1506]." [58].

"He [Jesus]...begins his journey to Jerusalem and is coldly received in a Samaritan village. The indignant disciples ask him: 'Lord, wilt thou that we bid fire to come from heaven and consume them?' But Jesus 'turned and rebuked them', and according to the AV [Authorized Version] he continued: 'For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them' ([Luke] verse 56). these words, being absent from the four oldest codices, were deleted by the RV [Revised Version]. They ["these words"] well illustrate the way in which all manner of utterances were put into the mouth of Jesus during the history of the documents." [58].

"The Crucifixion

All three synoptic gospels allege an unnatural darkening of the sun at the death of Jesus and declare that the veil of the temple was rent, but Mt. [Matthew] alone supplements these with further miracles which include an earthquake, the splitting of rocks, the opening of graves and the resurrection of the saints occupying them (xxvii, 45 ff.), who, however, did not emerge from their miraculously opened tombs until after Jesus' resurrection, when they are said to have entered the city and appeared to many (verse 53). This seems to be a clumsy attempt to harmonize this story of their resurrection at the time of Jesus' death with the tradition (preserved in Acts xxvi, 23) that he himself was 'the first that should rise from the dead' [note complexity (chronology, etc.)]. The preternatural darkness for three hours (asserted by the gospels) and the earthquake (asserted by Mt. alone) are not mentioned by historians of the time. Gibbon [Edward Gibbon 1737 - 1794] notes (104, end of Chapter XV) that this prodigy of darkness 'happened during the lifetime of Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.] and the elder Pliny [23 - 79 C.E.], who must have experienced the immediate effects or received the earliest intelligence of the prodigy' which is said to involve 'the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman Empire'. 'Each of these philosophers', he continues, 'in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of nature, earthquakes, meteors, comets, eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe. A distinct chapter in Pliny is designated for eclipses of an extraordinary nature and unusual duration; but he contents himself with describing the singular defect of light which followed the murder of Caesar', which 'had already been celebrated by most of the poets and historians of that memorable age'. Strauss [David Friedrich Strauss 1808 - 1874] (262, II, 382) addduces this Roman legend as evidence of the motive underlying the gospel fiction: 'In proportion as the appearance of Jesus had been of importance, must nature have put on mourning for him. SUCH WAS THE TASTE OF THE AGE.'...." [102-103].


          'The silence of pagan writers was a source of embarrassment to Christians, and there were attempts to make it good, both by forging documents under pagan names and by simply alleging that pagan documents concerning Christianity did exist. Of the forgeries the best known is a Latin correspondence between Seneca and Paul, first attested by Jerome and held by him and Augustine [354 - 430] to be authentic. It is now universally admitted to be a forgery, written in Rome in the later fourth century. The other method of overcoming the pagan silence is illustrated by Justin and Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220]. Justin [c. 100 - c. 165], addressing the emperor in his first Apology, summarizes the story of the crucifixion and then says (Chapter 35): 'That all these things were so you may learn from the Acts which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.' This suggestion was taken up and elaborated by Tertullian, who alleged (writing in Carthage in AD 197) that Pilate wrote a report to Tiberius telling him of all the miracles and prodigies at the crucifixion and resurrection, and that it can still be consulted in the Roman archives (Apology, Chapter 21). In Chapter 5 he tells us that Tiberius reacted by bringing the matter before the senate and proposing to set Christ among the gods, which, however, the senate declined to do. This story was repeated and believed by later Christian writers (Eusebius and others). But no apologist before Tertullian mentions it, and 'no modern historian believes it' (28, p. 229 n). WE ARE ASKED TO BELIEVE, said Gibbon [Edward Gibbon 1737 - 1794]:

'that Pontius Pilate [died after 36 C.E. (Roman procurator of Judaea 26 - c. 36)] informed the emperor of the unjust sentence of death which he had pronounced against an innocent, and, as it appeared, a divine person; and that without acquiring the merit, he [Jesus] exposed himself to the danger of martyrdom; that Tiberius [Emperor 14 - 37 C.E. (42 B.C.E. - 37 C.E.)], who avowed his contempt for all religion, immediately conceived the design of placing the Jewish Messiah among the gods of Rome; that his servile senate ventured to disobey the commands of their master; that Tiberius, instead of resenting their refusal, contented himself with protecting the Christians from the severity of the laws, many years before such laws were enacted, or before the Church had assumed any distinct name or existence; and lastly, that the memory of this extraordinary transaction was preserved in the most public and authentic records, which escaped the knowledge of the historians of Greece and Rome, and were only visible to the eyes of an African Christian [Tertullian c. 160 - c. 225], who composed his apology one hundred and sixty years after the death of Tiberius (104, II, 39, Chapter 16).' [189-190]. [See: #3, 59, 295. (Gibbon)].

          "ONE OF THE OBJECTIONS TO ACCEPTING THE GOSPELS IS THE SILENCE OF THE CONCERTED TESTIMONY OF THE FIRST CENTURY—PAGAN, JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN. Newman [Cardinal John Henry Newman 1801 - 1890] (202, p. 115) tries to answer this by saying that the silence of pagan and Jewish writers is simply an example of what does occasionally and inexplicably occur. As examples he mentions not only the failure [sic] of Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.], Pliny the elder [23 - 79 C.E.], Plutarch [c. 46 - after 119] and the Mishnah [c. 200 C.E. (complex)] [see Addition 31, 1372, 1373, 1374] to mention Christianity, but also the following cases which he regards as equally striking:



(1) 'Lucian [c. 120 - after 180 C.E.], for whatever reason, hardly notices Roman authors or affairs.'

(2) 'Maximus Tyrius ["Greek writer of the age of the Antonines" 138 - 180 (192) C.E. (Dict. Greek and Roman Bio. and Myth.)], who wrote several of his works at Rome, nevertheless makes no reference to Roman history.'

(3) 'Paterculus [Velleius Paterculus c. 19 B.C.E. - after 30 C.E.], the historian, is mentioned by no ancient writer except Priscian.'


Let us examine these examples....

          [Cardinal] Newman's examples are, in sum, either not true or not to the point. They do not illustrate the failure of a writer to deal with a topic that falls within his chosen field. The silence of a writer may or may not be significant according to the subject he is discussing....

Josephus [c. 37 - c. 100]...specifies the religious sects in first century Palestine without mentioning Christians, and records the career of Pilate without referring to his treatment of Jesus. Similarly decisive is the silence of Christian writers like Paul or Clement, who fail to refer to the actions or doctrines of Jesus when (as is often the case) these are relevant to their arguments. I have also noted the failure of Seneca and the elder Pliny to mention the preternatural darkness at the crucifixion in works expressly devoted to such topics as eclipses and earthquakes. These examples cannot be equated with Lucian's [c. 120 - after 180] silence about Roman affairs, which he has no occasion to mention." [220-222] [End of Chapter Eight].

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from: Cults and Isms, Twenty Alternates to Evangelical Christianity, by Russell P. Spittler, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids 6, Michigan, 1962. [Note: a Christian presentation].


to those who are seeking the Truth


to those who have been found by Him"


          I never ceased to be amazed at the variety and vitality of religious societies spawned by the seeking heart. Without the controls of written revelation and driven by understandable inner demands for spiritual realities, many men and many movements have peeled away from the evangelical center of Christianity and now populate its fringe. A number of these constitute the "Third Force"—a term popularized by Henry P. Van Dusen, who was thinking of historic Protestantism on the one hand and Roman Catholicism on the other.

          In this small volume twenty movements of varying distances from the evangelical center of Christianity are surveyed. The general pattern followed in each case had been to outline briefly both the history and distinctive teachings of the group then to provide a compact evaluation from an evangelical standpoint. The book is, therefore, intended to supply the evangelical Christian with a brief but adequate survey of the major American cults.' [7].

'No Eternal Punishment

          Description. Interpreting its eighth "principle" (which reads, "We affirm that the doorway to reformation is never closed against any human soul here or hereafter"), the Spiritualist Manual comments: "We discard entirely the terrible wrong and illogical teachings of eternal damnation and in place thereof we accept and present for consideration of thinking people the thought of the continuity of life beyond the change called death....We accept no such teaching as a 'Hell Fire,' but we do teach that sin and wrong-doing will necessarily bring remorse and suffering that would be difficult to describe in words and which can only be relieved by the individual's own efforts if not here, then in the hereafter."10

          Response. The following words from the Bible are printed in many editions in red; they are Jesus' own words about the sheep and goat judgment. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: But the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:26). This is a statement of Jesus Christ concerning eternal punishment and is the [grovellingly accepted, heinous] voice of authority to Christians.' [45].


'Chapter XIII

Interpreting the Isms

          We have viewed in order a vast parade of twenty movements each claiming to define the truth, none aligning precisely with evangelical Christianity. The many varied beliefs have been interesting: some are ridiculous, some are blasphemous, but some make us re-examine our own faith.

          The many cults are like Joseph's many-colored coat. There are the brilliant hues of Mormonism's quaint frontier-fostered faith. There are the fabled unidentifiable colors of mystical, Oriental-based teachings whose essence is evasive. There are the gloomy greys of annihilationism.

          In the midst of such an array of competing claims to truth, how can we distinguish the single one that must be true—if there is any truth at all? Or shall we take the depressing view that there is no absolute truth, no sure and certain way, and, therefore, in the end no lasting assurance of having found the truth? Shall we always be seekers, never finding though always searching?

          To this dim prospect the Bible speaks a resounding word of simple optimism: we can know the truth. It is an open secret. In fact the truth is not an "it" at all: it is a "He." For Jesus said simply, "I am the truth" (John 14:6). Other teachers would guide pupils to the right ideas leading to an understanding of the truth. But Jesus taught that the truth is a Person—Himself. Knowing the truth meant knowing Him. And that kind of knowledge did not depend on enlightened intelligence as the intellectual cults taught. This living knowledge comes in a simple relationship with a Person, with Jesus.' [129].

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from: The Puritan Way of Death, A Study in Religion, Culture, and Social Change, David E. Stannard, Oxford, 1977. [See: #1, 91, 307. (Stannard)].


Death in the Western Tradition

Religion, marriage, and burial of the dead—in these three institutions "all men agree and always have agreed." So wrote Giambattista Vico [1668 - 1744] more than two and a half centuries ago. Indeed, "these institutions," he asserted, "will be able to give us the universal and eternal principles...on which all nations were founded and still preserve themselves." Vico thought he had reduced human culture to a hard and irresistible core, and it was from these three "eternal and universal customs" that he proposed to derive his New Science.1

          Today we live in a time when the first two of Vico's first principles are loudly being called into question. But death and burial remain. They comprise perhaps the only constant. For death, unlike any other adventure or trial humans must experience, is a phenomenon marked by inevitable conceptual inconsistency. All the senses of the living agree in their perception of the death of another as the cessation of being; but to conceive of the cessation of self is quite another matter, requiring as it does the imaginative reconstitution of the self as a perceiving agent in order for the very conception of nonbeing to exist. "It is indeed impossible to imagine our own death," wrote Freud, reflecting on the aftermath of the First World War, "and whenever we attempt to do so we can perceive that we are in fact still present as spectators. bottom no one believes in his own death, or, to put the same thing in another way, in the unconscious every one of us is convinced of his own immortality." Writing at almost precisely the same time, the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno [1864 - 1936] put it ever more concisely: "It is impossible for us, in effect, to conceive of ourselves as not existing, and no effort is capable of enabling consciousness to realize absolute unconsciousness, its own annihilation."2 Freud and Unamuno would have been among the first to agree that other poets and prophets had long preceded them in this observation; indeed, as one psychoanalyst has more recently noted, perhaps the psalmist David said it best: "A thousand shall fall at thy right hand and ten thousand at thy left, but it shall not come nigh thee."3

          In facing this dilemma we are driven to resolve it. Man has never been able to live comfortably with the awareness of contradiction and uncertainty. And if a certainty of man's imagination points to his own individual immortality, resolution of the attendant conflict has always seemed to demand the sharing of that immortality at least with one's recognized peers. It is this fundamental dilemma imposed by the existence of death, and the limited knowledge that men necessarily have of it, that Malinowski and other early anthropologists saw as the primary source of religion.'


'the earliest clear signs of a culturally consistent picture of the afterlife must be found in written records, and for them, we must look to Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.

          The Epic of Gilgamesh, compiled from various Mesopotamian texts apparently


independently created, is generally dated around 2000 B.C., although as individual works these writings are surely much older.8 An afterlife is clearly presented in this tale of a man's quest for immortality, and the presentation is a grim one. The dwelling place of the dead is described as "the house of darkness...the house whose occupants are bereft of light; where dust is their food and clay their sustenance." Further, this dank, dark underworld—believed to exist not much more than a few feet beneath the earth's crust—is the unpleasant end for all, "the common lot of mankind," regardless of one's earthly station or behavior. We have here, then, perhaps the first portrayal of death in the eventually archetypal role of the great leveler—stripping all equally not only of life but of earthly accomplishments and pretensions, treating alike those who had achieved distinction in life and those who had not.9 Small wonder, then, that the most potent advice offered the young seeker of eternal life was that of Siduri, the wine maiden:

                                Gilgamesh, whither runnest thou?

                                The life which thou seekest thou will not find;

                                [For] when the gods created mankind,

                                They allotted death to mankind,

                                [But] life they retained in their keeping.

                                Thou, O Gilgamesh, let thy belly be full;

                                Day and night be thou merry;

                                Make every day [a day of] rejoicing.

                                Day and night do thou dance and play.

                                Let thy raiment be clean,

                                They head be washed, and thyself be bathed in water.

                                Cherish the little one holding thy hand,

                                [And] let thy wife rejoice in thy bosom.

                                This is the lot of [mankind...]10

          Even older than the Gilgamesh epic are the Pyramid Texts of Egypt, which take their name from the fact that they are inscribed on the walls of the five pyramids at Sakkarah built in the middle of the third millennium B.C. Along with the later Coffin Texts and the still later papyrus inscriptions of the eighteenth dynasty, the Pyramid Texts make up what is today known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead; but as with the Gilgamesh epic, it is evident that the Pyramid Texts arise out of religious and funerary beliefs dating back to a much earlier period.11 [6-7].

'by the time of the Coffin Texts (ca. 2000 B.C.) the belief in a general postmortem judgment—a judgment based on an evaluation of the individual's morally upright earthly behavior—was held widely. An elaborate procedure designed to facilitate the rendering of a favorable decision by Osiris began with the deceased proclaiming his innocence of a long list of sins to which mortals are susceptible and concluded with the god Osiris rendering his judgment based on the outcome of the "weighing of the heart," at which time the deceased's heart was required to be so pure that it perfectly counterbalanced the Feather of Truth.13

          The details of Egyptian belief and ritual are of less concern to us, however, than is the historical importance of this early conception of a postmortem judgment. Not


only is it true, as S.G.F. Brandon has observed, that "no other people were to achieve a comparable view of the eternal significance of a morally good life until many long centuries had passed,"14 but it is also noteworthy that when such a view did begin to spread it, would leave few corners of the habitable Western world untouched by its influence.

          But if the idea of a postmortem existence and judgment addressed the fundamental problems of death as the simple cessation of self, it brought with it anxieties of a different kind. For it was not without some apprehension that Egyptians viewed the trial awaiting them before the shrine of Osiris. Whether or not the ultimate conscious rationale for the idea of judgment can be seen—as Hannah Arendt has said of the Platonic vision of Hell—as "an ingenious device to enforce obedience upon those who are not subject to the compelling power of reason, without actually using external violence,"15 the end result was the same. Death came to be feared and often to be viewed as an enemy despite—indeed, as a direct result of—the apparent Egyptian attempt to deal with the terrifying threat of death as simply the cessation of self. This new fear, of course, was based on the problematic nature of the fate that lay on the other side of the chasm of death; but as such, that fate could at least be influenced by evidence of one's goodness in life. In this, and especially in view of the fact that most Egyptians apparently were judged favorably in the Osirian presence, the judgment-based apprehension of death was perhaps something of a psychic improvement over the response to the great gray fate described in Mesopotamian legend. But psychic improvement or not, in either case the cultural response to death—from the prescribed quasi-hedonism of the Gilgamesh epic to the elaborate funerary ritual of the Egyptians—was directly related to the vision of death's meaning [compare: "anatomy is destiny." compare: one's vision of death is destiny.].

          And so it is with all cultures....

          So it was with those members of prehistoric cultures who imagined a life beyond death and who thus applied cosmetic coloring to the bodies of the deceased, bound them, and buried them with tokens of their earthly goods. So it was with the Mesopotamians of antiquity, who imagined that the life awaiting them beyond the grave was one of universal wretchedness, and who thus urged upon themselves a philosophy of life characterized by self-indulgence. So it was with the Ancient Egyptians, who imagined an awesome face-to-face judgment following their death, and who thus composed long prayers denying culpability in sin and put to use all the artistic and literary powers at their command to ward off an unfavorable verdict. And SO IT WAS, TWO MILLENNIA LATER, WITH THE EARLY CHRISTIANS.' [8-9, 10].

          'Prior to the Christian era the Homeric Greeks had devised the concept of the soul, an idea that grew out of a common earlier belief that the dead continued to live under the earth. This later vision of the disembodied spirit seems to have opened the way to the practice of cremation. But IT WAS NOT UNTIL THE WORSHIP OF DIONYSIUS, AND IN THE WRITING OF HERACLITUS [fl. 500 B.C.E.], THAT THE BELIEF IN THE SOUL'S IMMORTALITY ATTAINED EXPLICIT AND CLEAR EXPRESSION. THIS SPIRITUAL ANSWER TO THE FEAR OF CESSATION BECAME PART OF ONE OF THE CENTRAL TENETS OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE IN THE IDEA OF THE RESURRECTION. "I am the Resurrection and the life," Christ had said, "he that


believeth in Me, although he be dead shall live: and everyone that liveth and believeth in Me shall not die for ever." Thus, in the fourth century, Augustine [354 - 430] could say of the death of his mother, "we thought it not fitting to solemnise that funeral with tearful lament, and groanings; for thereby do they for the most part express grief for the departed, as though unhappy, or altogether dead; whereas she was neither unhappy in her death, nor altogether dead." And Saint Ambrose [c. 339 - 397], in his oration of the funeral of Valentinian [Valentinian II c. 371 - 392 (Emperor of the Western Roman Empire 375 - 392 (murdered))], says: "But if the gentiles [apparently, heathens (pagans)], who have no hope of resurrection, are consoled by this alone, in that they say that after death the departed have no life and consequently no sense of pain remains, how much the more should we receive consolation because death is not to be feared, since it is the end of sin, and that life is not to be despaired of which is restored by the resurrection?"19

          Yet if Christianity was successful in combating the fear of death as cessation of self, it retained at its philosophical center the source of anxiety that had afflicted the Ancient Egyptian—the concept of divine wrath, of punishment for sin; for along with the doctrine of immortality, Christianity devised and elaborated various places of bliss and misery as the potential residences of the soul. For the saved there was Heaven, for the unrepentant Hell, and for the great masses, who had not yet been thoroughly cleansed of minor sins, THERE DEVELOPED IN LATER CENTURIES THE IDEA OF PURGATORY. As Aquinas [Thomas Aquinas 1225 - 1274] was to observe in the thirteenth century, "since a place is assigned to souls in keeping with their reward or punishment, as soon as the soul is set free from the body it is either plunged into hell or soars to heaven, unless it be held back by some debt, for which its flight must needs be delayed until the soul is first of all cleansed."20

          While Hell was clearly a place to be avoided, and although the temptations of Satan were many and great, the sinful were afforded a variety of ways through which they might avoid Hell. Baptism cleansed the soul of original sin; confession and the administration of the Eucharist throughout life prepared the soul for Heaven; the sacrament of extreme unction and the viaticum at death further cleared the way; and even while the imperfect but uncondemned soul lingered in Purgatory, indulgences, requiem masses, and the prayers of the living helped improve the likelihood of imminent removal to Heaven. For those who would not repent, Christianity evolved through a literary and artistic tradition a vision of Hell that surpassed virtually all other cultures in literal, horrific depictions of the fate awaiting the sinful, depictions most often accompanied by a warning such as that bordering the Last Judgment tympanum [complex: "space within an arch", etc.] of Conques [artwork in Benedictine Abbey Church of Sainte Foi (Saint Faith), Conques, France] (ca. 1130): "Sinners, if you do not mend your ways, know that a heavy judgment awaits you." The consequences of sin were clearly terrifying, but the critical point not to be missed was that the fate of the Christian individual was largely in his own hands. The sinner did not have to sin, and having sinned, might still at any later time be able to mend his ways and thereby avoid Hell. Though it was a fearsome end for the soul, Hell was an end that could, though admittedly with a good deal of work, be avoided.' [10-12].



was to be so totally without sin that it perfectly counterbalanced the Feather of Truth. In Christendom that same symbol appears and reappears, with one fundamental difference: now the good of the soul must outweigh the evil. In both instances, however, the depicted result is almost always favorable—and in much medieval art this is also true despite the wily but vain attempts of devils to tip the scales in their favor. It is not surprising, then, to find the early Christian attitude toward the death of a believer reflecting a certain similarity with that of the Egyptian Migratio ad Dominum, an optimistic and joyous journey home.21

          But if, in at least certain respects, there was a similarity between the Egyptian and Christian ideals, when compared with the Mesopotamian view of mortal and postmortal existence the Christian vision provides a vivid and critically important reversal. Instead of clinging to the world of the living, of making the most of mortal pleasures before succumbing to the wretchedness of death and the afterlife, the Christian was urged to forgo earthly pleasure for the greater peace of salvation. Again and again in the writings of the early Christians, reference is made to the passage in 1 John 2:15–16 to "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

          Taken to its logical and literal extreme this and other early doctrines could and did cause problems in the first few centuries of the Christian era, problems that were destined to remain at least latent in the church's belief system for many centuries to come....' [12-13].

● ● ● ● ●


from: The Greek Way of Death, Robert Garland, Cornell University Press, 1985.

[an extremely attractive book. My congratulations, and thanks, to the author].

          "What did the ordinary Greek feel at the moment of death? In a famous passage in Plato's Republic (1.330de) the aged Kephalos states that 'when a man gets near to the end of his life, he becomes subject to fear and anxiety about what lies ahead. The stories told about people in Hades—that if you commit crimes on earth you must pay for them down below—although they are ridiculed for a while, now begin to disturb a man's psyché with the possibility that they might be true.' The question is: how representative is the view here ascribed to Kephalos of non-philosophical Greeks? It must be borne in mind that Plato had reason to exploit any feeling of apprehensiveness about the next world, committed as he was to a belief in the immortality of the soul. But there is little evidence to support the claim that the majority of Greeks spent their declining years consumed with guilty foreboding at the prospect of making a reckoning in the hereafter (see below p. 60ff. for further discussion). Fear, combined with a healthy fatalism, seems to be the worst that the average Greek moribund had to cope with. As there was little sense of sin, so there was no need for the death-bed conversion so favoured by nineteenth-century Evangelicals whereby the sinful soul, even at the eleventh hour, could wrest itself from the toils of the Devil by a timely repentance. True, the prospect of an eternity in Hades for a Greek might not seem too rosy. True, as well, the Eleusinian Mystery religion, which gained such popularity in the fifth, and more particularly in the fourth century B.C., did hold out alternative prospects for the initiate and non-initiate (see below p. 61f.). But the condition of blessedness which it promised to initiates was, so far as we can judge, a consequence of purely external observances—the simple fact of having witnessed certain secret ceremonies—and in no way related to the spiritual state of the soul upon decease.

          Characteristic of paganism, too, is the unconcern with—and indeed avoidance of—the dying [pause] by the Olympian deities [obviously, quality Gods, should be unconcerned with the death of "ants" (humans)], in marked contrast to the Christian God." [17-18].


Life in Hades [complex. many descriptions. also, a God].

According to Christian teaching [propaganda!], death offers the way to salvation. 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit' (John 12:24). In certain circumstances, a Christian can, with easy conscience, actively foster his own death, as most obviously in the case of a martyr dying in defence of his faith. The prospect of what follows death may therefore stand as a consolation for the awfulness of this life. PAGANISM, by contrast, PRODUCED NO MARTYRS. Though one might die defending a principle, as did the mythological Antigone and the historical Sokrates, in so doing one acted entirely on personal initiative, without the backing of either a theological framework or divine exempla'. To a practising pagan, religiosity offered a


means of worldly assistance and advancement in which contemplation of the afterlife played no part. It followed that if one had acted heedlessly or disrespectfully towards the gods, one did not have to wait until the hereafter to be informed: it was here and now that the powers above would supply or withold [commonly, withhold] their favours. Though belief in a system of alternative afterlifes, corresponding to Christian ideas of Heaven and Hell, did exist to a limited degree—witness Orphism and the Eleusinian Mysteries—such a belief was by no means fundamental to the spirit of paganism and represented only a relatively late stage in its development. While largely spared the horrors of a Christian Hell, the dying lacked as well the consolation of a better lot in the hereafter." ["48"].

          "The earliest example in Greek literature of belief in a system of rewards and punishments in the next world is to be found in the Hymn to Demeter, which is probably dated to the seventh century B.C. Towards its conclusion the poet declares in what is a climax to the whole hymn, 'Prosperous (albios) is he among men who live on the earth having seen these things; but he who is not initiated (atelês) and who has no part in the mysteries (hiera), never has the lot (aisa) of such things, once he has perished and gone beneath the murky gloom.'" [61].

"Diogenes the Cynic did not believe that ethical considerations played any part in determining a person's destiny in the next life according to this ["Eleusinian Mysteries"] system, for on hearing Sophokles' statement, 'Thrice-prosperous are those who having seen these rites pass to Hades', he sneeringly remarked, 'What! Do you mean that Pataikion the thief will have a better lot after death than Epaminondas because he has been initiated?'" [61].

          "The most complete expression of faith in the doctrine of retributive punishment in the afterlife occurs, however, in the Vision of Judgment with which the Gorgias [by Plato] concludes. Sokrates (523c) narrates how in former times, when men were judged while still alive by living judges, FALSE VERDICTS WERE BEING GIVEN SINCE THEIR PSYCHAI [SOULS] WERE VEILED BY PHYSICAL BEAUTY OR WEALTH. Consequently Zeus decreed that psychai should be judged naked after death by Minos, Rhadamanthys and Aiakos. It is noteworthy, however, that the notion of a judgment in the world to come is evidently not regarded even by Plato as a particularly effective deterrent against criminal activity. In the Laws, for instance, with its discussion of the secular sanctions needed to curb misconduct and vice, there is no mention of eternal punishment meted out in the hereafter.

          To conclude, though the theory of a division of the dead into two categories occupied a position of some importance in the Eleusinian Mysteries, it seems elsewhere to have played a relatively minor role in the history of Greek eschatology. Further, while belief in Hades as a place of punishment for certain crimes persisted from the time of Homer to the Classical period and beyond, criminally speaking the Greek underworld never became fully democratised: crimes of average venality excited neither dispraise nor retribution.

          Nevertheless it would be rash to be dogmatic about an area of man's thinking which so lends itself to the formulation of privately held beliefs. Many Greeks would doubtless have sympathized with the cautious optimism [compare: Robert Ingersoll 1833 - 1899] with which Hypereides concludes the funeral speech delivered over the


Athenian dead in the Lamian War in 322 B.C.: 'But if there is conscious life in the kingdom of Hades and divine care, as we suspect, then it is reasonable to hope that those who defended (i.e. unto death) the honour of the god's should meet with loving kindness at the hands of the divine power'." [66].

"The family reunion

A popular, indeed perhaps the most popular, Classical belief about what happened in Hades is the notion of the family reunion whereby the long-established dead greet new arrivals. The earliest literary reference occurs in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus. Having just killed her husband, Klytaimnestra declares that it will fall to Iphigeneia, their dead daughter, to greet him in Hades—lines delivered, as Fraenkel (1950, ad loc.) notes, with 'horrible mockery', since it was Agamemnon who dispatched her to Hades in the first place. The prospect of meeting one's dead kin in the world below was not normally quite so unattractive, and might even be anticipated with pleasure. Antigone cherishes the hope that her arrival in Hades will be a welcome event for her parents and her brother Polyneikes, particularly since she has given the latter burial. Admetos instructs the dying Alkestis to wait for him in Hades and to prepare a house where they can live together, assuring her that when he dies he will be placed beside her in the same cedar wood coffin 'so that never, even in death, shall I desert you'. One of the reasons Oedipus gives for putting out his eyes is that he may not have to face seeing his parents in the house of the dead, an especially interesting comment since it implies that those suffering from physical handicaps continue to be so afflicted in the world below.

          How one went about contacting one's dead relatives upon arrival in Hades we are not specifically told, but reunion was perhaps facilitated by the practice of joint burial. Conceivably, too, it may have been partly for this reason that in the fifth and fourth centuries [B.C.E.] those who could afford it buried their dead in family plots (see below, p. 106). The 'reunion in Hades' motif is not common in epitaphs, though it does occasionally occur." [67-68].

          "DESPITE THE EMPHASIS ON FOOD AND DRINK, BOWELS DO NOT ABOUND IN HADES [or, in American movies, etc.] [displays lack of confidence in the reality of Hades?], as Vermeule (1979, 27) has sensitively observed—a point of contrast with the Egyptian notion of the afterlife, in accordance with which the dead were occasionally provided with both bathroom and lavatory so that they should feel 'perfectly at home' (Scharff 1947, 18)." [71]. [See: Addition 37, 2020].

          "If the appetite for food and drink remained unimpaired in Hades it is natural to inquire whether the dead had sexual relations with one another. 'The grave's a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace.' Marvell's sentiments were certainly not shared by the Etruscans as is demonstrated by a spectacular fourth-century [B.C.E.] sarcophagos from Volci showing husband and wife in eternal embrace. In the case of the Greeks, the lyric poet Anakreon gives utterance to a very reasonable anxiety when, adopting the persona of an old man who sees death approaching, he complains that whereas descending to Hades is an easy operation, getting up from it is not. The verb anabainô which he uses to convey the latter


activity ["getting up"] has sexual overtones, and it has been suggested—not wholly convincingly—that the poet intends a play on words. Approximately contemporary is a grave-relief from the island of Kos (c. 530 B.C.) on which the dead are shown to have surmounted this obstacle. Even if the dead are occasionally represented as having sex with one another, it seems likely that they produced no issue. Underworlds are not noted for their fecundity. Pluto and Peresphone are themselves childless, and Theseus in Euripides' Suppliants heaps scorn on the Theban decision to deny burial to the Argive dead by interpreting it as the reflexion of a fear that corpses might produce children in the bowels of the earth (543ff.)." [72].

          "We have yet to consider whether HADES is hierarchical or exclusive. In Homer, as Vermeule (1979, 36) points out, it SEEMS TO BE RESERVED FOR THE GREEK ARISTOCRACY, FOR WE NEVER HEAR OF THE UNHEROIC OR BARBARIAN DEAD." [74].

          "Death is an eternity. But is eternity timeless? Such little evidence as we possess suggests that Greek notion of the afterlife was precisely this [apparently, "Death is an eternity", and, "timeless"]. In both Homeric Nekyiai, as Keuls (1974, 14) notes, 'the psychê of the dead is frozen in time at the moment of death, in appearance as well as in experience'. Eternal rancour and regret are the properties of the psychai of Ajax and Agamemnon respectively, and eternally blood-bespattered are the warriors who have died in battle." [74].

"Disbelief in Hades

EVIDENCE FOR DISBELIEF IN HADES FIRST OCCURS IN THE PLAYS OF EURIPIDES [c. 484 - 406 B.C.E. (see 2195)]. In the Trojan Women Andromache defines death as 'like never having been born' (636) and Hekabe dismisses expensive funeral gifts (kterismata) as 'an empty vanity to satisfy the living' (1248ff.). Elsewhere in Euripides' plays the dead are spoken of as 'nothing', and actions performed on their behalf as 'a worthless effort' (Helen 1421).

          To what extent such statements shocked or offended Athenian sentiment we can only speculate. Plato in the Phaedo asserts (69e-70a) that most people (cf. ib. 77b) think that 'when the psyché is released from the body, it ceases to exist anywhere', but a philosopher is partial and the claim is moreover belied by indications that the Athenians did regularly provide their dead with the necessities of life (see Chapter 7). What is not in dispute is that the belief in the underworld did not go entirely unchallenged in the Classical period and that a new idea grew up, probably in the first half of the fifth century [B.C.E.], of the psychai of the dead being transported up to heaven. The epitaph on the Athenian dead at Poteidaia in 432 B.C., for example, states that 'ether (aithêr) received their psychai, but earth their bodies'. A fourth-century inscription from the Peiraios reads" 'The moist aithêr holds the psyché and proud spirit of Eurymachos, but this grave holds his body'. It is to be emphasised, however, that in neither instance is there any suggestion that the psyché retains its consciousness or indeed its individuality. On the contrary, such epitaphs merely serve as an explanation for the separation of bodily constituents after death, rather than as a basis for a new doctrine of immortality. Occasionally, however,


celestial translation does offer the assurance of individual immortality, as in the case of the following Athenian epigram of possibly fourth-century [B.C.E.] date which asserts: 'Earth holds the bones and flesh of this sweet boy, but his psyché has gone to the chamber of the pious' [compare: #24, 516 (Martial. Ingersoll.)]. Sometimes, too, the dead were transformed into stars. Kastor and Pollux were perhaps the brightest dead in this category, but on a clear night one might also pick out a minor tragic poet such as Ion of Chios, whose celestial effulgence is observed by Trygaios in Aristophanes' Peace. It is to be noted, however, that BELIEF IN THE ASCENT OF SOULS TO THE SKY WAS NEVER PROMINENT AMONG THE GREEKS, and was never a serious rival to more traditional beliefs." [74-74].

          "Though Plutarch [c. 46 - after 119] is likely to be a more reliable indicator of ordinary Roman belief than the satirist Lucian [c. 117 - 180], fear of Hades was not finally laid to rest. An anonymous fragmentary papyrus dated to the end of the second century A.D. provides what is certainly the grisliest [I (Lino Sanchez) was a Deputy Coroner in California (for 2 years)] description of the underworld to come down to us from antiquity. It tells of the descent of a man to the world below in search of his dead wife or mistress. Proceeding along an 'oblique pathway', he comes to a place where dogs are seen devouring dead bodies. He crosses a river and arrives at the Shores of Ugliness. There he sits down on a rock and proceeds to fish, using a corpse's hair for bait. A break in the text brings him to a vast plain populated by beheaded and crucified bodies, together with other dead who have met violent deaths. Furies laugh at the spectacle and there is a terrible stench of gore. What is instructive is that the perilous descent (katabasis) is undertaken not with the object of restoring the woman to the light above, as in the case of the Orpheus and Eurydike myth, but so that she may be upbraided for her deceitfulness and expensive tastes. Marital grievances, like infernal mythology, die hard." [76].

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from: Death and Burial in the Roman World, J.M.C. Toynbee, Cornell University Press, 1971.

"Aspects of Greek and Roman Life, General Editor: H.H. Scullard"

"Chapter II

Roman Beliefs about the

Afterlife. Cremation and


(A) Roman Beliefs about the Afterlife

A full-dress history of Roman-age beliefs about the life beyond the grave is obviously not to be expected in this book. Such a history would, in fact, involve a sifting of all the literature and inscriptions, Greek and Latin, belonging to the ancient Roman world, and the study, from the standpoint of the views that they express, of all the surviving works of its funerary art in ever medium—sculptures, paintings, mosaics, stucco reliefs, and so forth. Parts of this vast body of material, literary, epigraphical, and artistic, have already formed the subjects of specialized and general treatises on the notions about life after death that were current under the late-Republic and Empire in both pagan and early Christian circles.65 ...." ["33"].

          "With the Romans, as with the Etruscans, the survival of the soul after death was an ancient, deep-seated belief.66" [34].

          "ROMAN-AGE SPECULATIONS AS TO WHERE THE WORLD OF THE DEAD WAS LOCATED WERE MANY AND VARIOUS. So far as we know, Virgil, in Aeneid vi, was the first Roman writer to employ the Greek mythological picture of the underworld with its elaborate topographical décor and tripartite division into 'Limbo', the region just inside Hades' portals, to which infants and others who had died before their time are relegated; Hell, where legendary criminals of superhuman stature undergo torture; and Heaven, the Elysian Fields, where heroes, exempted from every pain and care, enjoy for ever all the pleasures that had been their delight on earth. But among the Romans this picture remained, for the most part, a poetic one, used as a literary convention by Virgil's successors in the line of Roman poets from the Augustan epoch down to the end of pagan civilization and by the writers of some verse epitaphs.82 Prose epitaphs, on the other hand, and funerary art ignore it almost totally. These, and the rites that were practised at the tomb, suggest that the mass of people who composed most ranks of society were largely unaffected by this literary tradition and had other views on afterlife abodes." [36-37].

          "Early Roman ideas as to where the Manes ["Roman spirits of the dead" (Ox. Class. Dict.)] dwelt, after the body had received due burial, are not explicitly recorded. It is, however, likely that they were thought of as being underground, at or near their burial place, where they could be given nourishment....

          According to another, closely related view, the tomb itself was the place in


which the dead in some sense or at some times resided. Hence the fact that the architecture of some mausolea and the form of some sepulchral monuments recall the houses of the living....

          Others placed the other-world dwellings of the dead in the sky, in the hemispheres, of which the Dioscuri, who figure not infrequently in tomb art, were looked upon as representatives,89 in the atmosphere, or in the moon.90 Others yet again threw open to all human souls the Blessed Isles across the Ocean (reserved in the literary tradition only for heroes), to judge from the constant representations in sepulchral art of Oceanus and of the homeward journey of the happy dead on ships or in the guise of Nereids or Cupids carried safely over the waves on the backs of friendly, frolicsome sea-lions, sea-bulls, sea-horses, sea-griffins, sea-Centaurs, Tritons, dolphins, and other Ocean-born creatures.91

          However conflicting and confused may have been the current idea as to where the other world was situated, two things seem to emerge quite clearly—during the late Republic and throughout the Empire (outside certain philosophic schools and the circles that they influenced) belief in the survival after death of personal individuality prevailed and views on the nature of the life that awaited the soul beyond the grave were, in the main, optimistic. Both literature (to some extent) and funerary art )(to a high degree) do, in fact, reveal that there was in this age a deepening conviction that the terror and power of death could be overcome and that a richer, happier, and more godlike life than that experienced here was attainable hereafter, under certain conditions, by the souls of the departed. Such conditions were a virtuous, useful, and well-ordered life on earth, or membership of one of the mystery-cults inherited by Rome from classical and Hellenistic Greece or from the East, or some looser form of adherence to one of the saviour-gods, of whom Dionysus was regarded as the most powerful and received the most widespread veneration. Mystic union or 'marriage' with themselves, ecstatic bliss in a paradise that teemed with flora and fauna, and the total victory of life over death were the 'other-worldly' gifts promised by these saviours to their worshippers. Hence the recurrence in the picture language of Roman-age tomb art of such themes as marriages, real or mythological, Dionysus' triumphal progress and the revels of his followers,92 lively scenes of hunting and of animal pursuits and combats, the slaying of savage foes or ravening [(my interpretation) preying] beasts, trophies of arms, Victories,93 victorious charioteers, palm trees, palm branches, Cupids, Psyches, and other children in gardens glowing with flowers, fruits, and gorgeous birds,94 and flocks and herds feeding peacefully in idyllic landscapes—gardens and landscapes that far outdistance in luxuriance the 'amoena virecta' of Virgil's heroes.95 It is true that these motifs have relatively few explicit counterparts in surviving literature. But most of the tombs where they occur belonged to types of persons who expressed their ideas less easily in writing than visually.

          It is in the light of these beliefs about the character and state of the human soul after death that we have to face the problem, already alluded to (cf. pp. 33, 34), of the revolution in burial rite in Rome and in her world." [37-39].

"(B) Cremation and Inhumation

According to Cicero96 and Pliny,97 inhumation ["burial, interment"], not cremation, was the primitive burial rite in Rome. But the Sepulcretum in the Roman Forum, dating


from the eighth to the sixth century BC, contains both cremations and inhumations;98 and from the Law of the Twelve Tables it is evident that both rites were practiced side by side in the fifth century BC.99 According to Lucretius,100 three types of burial were known in the late Republic—cremation ('ignibus impostum calidis torrescere flammis'), embalmment ("aut in melle situm suffocari'), and inhumation ('urgerive superne obtritum pondere terrae'). Pliny says101 that many Roman families kept to inhumation, notably the Gens Cornelia (also singled out by Cicero),102 of which Sulla was the first member to be cremated; and in the subterranean Tomb of the Cornelii Scipiones on the Via Appia outside Rome were found the inscribed sarcophagi of members of the family who died between the early-third and the mid-second century BC (see Chapter V(B)).103 But in republican Rome as a whole, from about 400 BC onwards, cremation was the normal practice and it remained so throughout the first century of our era, to such an extent that Tacitus, writing of the burial of Nero's empress Poppaea in AD 65, describes cremation categorically as the 'Romanus mos'.104 Columbaria with niches for ash-urns (see Chapter V (C)), ash-chests and funerary altars containing cremated remains (see Chapter VII(C)) are the regular features of first-century BC and first-century AD custom. But during the reign of Hadrian the sudden flowering in the Roman world of the art of sarcophagus carving (see Chapter VII(E))105 spelt the beginning of a gradual, but steadily increasing, supersession of cremation by inhumation during the second century AD, a process which by the middle of the third century had won its way throughout the provinces....

the pagan thought of this period gives no hint of any dogma of bodily resurrection for mankind as a whole; and the fact that, for a time, in imperial Rome the two rites ["Cremation and Inhumation"] could coexist in the same mausoleum suggests that the change in custom did not imply any significant change in actual doctrine. The abandonment of cremation was, moreover, too general to owe anything to Semitic, in particular to Jewish, habit and too early to be due to Christian influences. The explanation has, therefore, to be sought elsewhere." [39-40].

"The biblical figures and scenes are all among those that are familiar from works of Christian funerary art of the THIRD AND FOURTH CENTURIES—in catacomb-painting and sarcophagus-carving; figures of the Seasons occur as symbols of the endless cycle of eternity or of celestial blessings in Christian, as in pagan, sepulchral and cultic contexts; and in similar Christian, as in similar pagan, contexts[,] hunting scenes have their place as allegories of the joys of paradise or of victory over the powers of death and evil." [162-163].

"Christian Catacombs617

The principal features that are common to the CHRISTIAN CATACOMBS OF ROME, DATING FROM THE THIRD AND FOURTH CENTURIES, have been outlined in the introductory paragraphs to this section of the present chapter. They ["Christian catacombs"] are found beside, or at a short distance from, all the main ancient highways that radiate from the city...." [239].

● ● ● ● ●


from: Images of Afterlife, Beliefs from Antiquity to Modern Times, Geddes MacGregor, Paragon House, 1992. [See: Addition 19, 1025 (That Unknown Country); 1643; etc.].

"Geddes MacGregor is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. His academic distinctions include two Oxford doctorates (D. Phil. and D.D.) and the grand doctorat (D. Litt.) from the Sorbonne, Paris. He is the author of thirty books, including Angels: Ministers of Grace and Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy, both published by Paragon House."

[dust jacket].

'"This excellent, clear, and concise survey of the history of images of afterlife...will be extremely useful to those who wish to evaluate the hopes and fears that surround faith in a life beyond mortality."

Ninian Smart, J.F. Rowny Professor of Comparative

Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara'

'Chapter I

Scientific Objections to Belief

in Afterlife

Who of the dead has returned from Hades?

—Euripides [c. 484 - 406 B.C.E. (see 2190)], Hercules Furens' [3].

          'THE MOOD IS OF GREAT ANTIQUITY AMONG THOUGHTFUL MEN. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the Roman Stoic philosopher who lived through the first half of the first century C.E. and was therefore a contemporary of Jesus, wrote "After death, nothing; and death itself is nothing": post mortem nibil est ipsaque mors nihil. His outlook on the subject is typical of that of many thoughtful people in antiquity and has been expressed in a variety of ways in modern times. Shaw [Bernard Shaw] expressed his view on the idea of immortality in typically Shavian terms: "What man is capable of the insane self-conceit of believing that an eternity of himself would be tolerable even to himself?"' [4].

          "Deathbed conversions, however, are widely and rightly suspect. Generally speaking, people die as they live; that is to say, their attitude at death is in effect a summing-up of their attitudes during life....[omitted, very evangelistic]." [35].

          'One of the most cherished beliefs about afterlife, especially among those held in the West, is that we may meet again our loved ones and be joined with them in new and fuller life with God. For many of us any belief in afterlife that would exclude the realization of such a hope would make the concept of afterlife seem at best an empty expectation and at worst a selfish enterprise. To have learned through these special relationships here and now something of the character and value of sacrificial love and then to be separated forever from those in, with, and through whom we


have learned it would deprive life of the richest part of whatever meaning it has for us. Christians, who believe that Jesus Christ, through his death on the Cross and his resurrection (however interpreted) did something for us that in some way "opens to us the gates of everlasting life," could not be satisfied with an afterlife bereft of the society of those with whom they have "walked in Christ."' [37].

"What distinguishes the religious outlook of people at less developed stages is that, while their capacity for imagination and for intuiting great truths and speculating about them can be startling, their analytical capacities have not yet been comparably developed....

The greatest difficulty in trying to understand the outlook of the people of antiquity is in divesting our own minds both of their sophistications and of their prejudices. Our sophistications [and stupidities] may prevent us from perceiving the penetrating vigor of their thought while our prejudices blind us to the fact that those cultural ancestors of ours were not infrequently in their own way subtler in the use of their concepts than are we in the use of ours." [68-69].

'Chapter VI

Hades and Sheol: The Underworld

of Ghosts


Do not make light of death to me, O shining Odysseus. I

                                would rather be a menial on earth, bound to an impov-

                                erished master, than to be a great king among these dead

                                men who have had their day. [see Appendix VII, 784]

—Achilles to Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey, Book XI' [71].

"Guilt and punishment, merit and reward become central to Orphic teaching, which recognized the importance of moral purity as a means of attaining blessedness. Hades, under such influence, came to be regarded as a place of punishment for evildoers—a sort of ideological ancestor of hell. The Orphics, who were already influential in some circles as early as the sixth century B.C.E., had affinities with the Pythagoreans and like them taught a doctrine of transmigration of souls. Both the teachings of Pythagoras and those of the Orphics were respected by Plato, who in the Phaedo advances the doctrine that the ordinary run of men and women, notable neither for their virtue nor for their vice, are taken to a lake or the river Acheron to live until, having been purified, they are reborn as living beings." [73].

"Erotic Images of Paradise

Although Hades or one of its counterparts was a classic image of afterlife in the ancient Mediterranean world, there was in popular religion an alternative: the dream of a paradise of erotic fantasy, often depicted as a sort of perpetual sexual ecstasy.


Plato, in the Republic (363 C, D), alludes to such a vulgar and simplistic concept of future bliss in which the blessed lie on couches everlastingly drunk and crowned with garlands. He ridicules the image as expressing the notion that an immortality of drunkenness should be accounted the highest reward of virtue. Whence the idea of such types of paradisal bliss came to the Mediterranean world is, to the best of my knowledge, not certain. It may have emerged independently of any extraneous influence. India, however, is a very possible source, for from the Vedas, the most ancient of the various sacred literatures of India, we have intimations of images of future bliss in which, aided by draughts of soma (a drug used in temple worship and supposed to assist in the attainment of a sensuous form of immortality), one might enjoy unremitting erotic ecstasy." [77-78].

"Resurrection in Islamic Thought

ISLAM INHERITED BOTH JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN CONCEPTS, INCLUDING NOTIONS ABOUT AFTERLIFE AND THE REASON FOR HOPE OF IT. The pre-Islamic Arabs probably did have sort of belief in a kind of survival of death; at least such a notion was entertained by some. It was at best, however, without any convincing foundation. Death was thoroughly dreaded. This terror of death as unequivocally the ultimate tragedy is expressed by early Arab poets and even by some writing in the same tradition after the advent of Islam. The poet Ibn Qutayba, for instance, laments that not only does a man disappear after death; his inmost secrets are spread abroad. The poet even hints that in many cases it would be better for him to be forgotten, grim as that prospect might be for those who had deeply loved him. Muhammad's insistence on judgment and resurrection (qiyāma), although at first received with scorn, was gradually seen to be intelligible, indeed inseparable, from the extremely strong emphasis in Islamic teaching on the transcendence of God, his unity, his uniqueness, his compassion, and above all his Otherness as our Creator. Modern Muslim exegetes interpret the nature of the resurrection in various ways; but no orthodox Muslim denies the resurrection hope proclaimed in the Qur'ān. The nature of life that is assured may or may not resemble our present human life, but whatever it is it will be cause for infinite joy. Why? Because it is the fulfillment of the promise of Allah, the Compassionate One." [97].

"One may simply renounce the entire project [apparently, "Images of Afterlife"] as misguided, being based upon unarranged presuppositions, and opt instead for relegating religion to the dust heap and with it any hopes or fears one might be entertaining about afterlife. Plainly, at the stage ["stage" of words!] we have been considering here, one would not do this in the way it would be done today or as it would have been done in say, the eighteenth century, but the general motivation would be similar. It would express itself, for example, in a professed conviction that death is indeed the end of all awareness: as much so for human beings as for beetles or mice." [98].

[part of footnote 2. not referenced above] 'Job paints a gloomier picture and one bereft of hope: "Man, born of woman, has a short life yet has his fill of sorrow....There is always hope for a tree; when felled, it can start its life again; its


shoots continue to sprout....BUT MAN? HE DIES, AND LIFELESS HE REMAINS"

(Job 14:1–10).' [99].

          "As in Christian and other conceptions of afterlife, however, much confusion attends Zoroastrian accounts of the ordeal of judgment. For example, each individual is judged either immediately upon death or on the fourth day thereafter and an examination somewhat analogous to the Egyptian procedure is administered." [102].

"Judgment and Eschatology in the Bible" [108]

"The New Testament writers take over the traditional Hebrew language almost without change, except that the role of divine Judge is assigned to Christ, whose Second Coming on that day will ensure the establishment of justice and with it the inevitable overthrow of injustice and the dethronement of evil powers [see Addition 34, 1506-1518 (Shires)]." [109].

'Chapter IX

Modes of Afterlife


Life is pleasant and I have enjoyed it, but I have no yearning

to clutter up the Universe after it is over.

—H.L. Mencken' [122].

          'The Christian Fathers, even as early as Justin Martyr, made a distinction between the "pagan" (e.g., Plato's) concept of immortality and the Christian one. THE IDEA OF IMMORTALITY WAS OF GREAT ANTIQUITY [see 2184; etc.], both in popular religion and in philosophical thought. In popular religion the gods were immortal. To be immortal was to be, in effect, godlike. Since the Greeks called any sort of fleeting and local wonder or mysterious force theos (god), some confusion attends the use of such language. It is easy enough to see that while every man and woman is bound to die, since that is human destiny, the same cannot be said of a goddess such as Aphrodite or her Roman counterpart, Venus. Such a goddess does not die as do mortal women. She, the very principle of sexuality, lives on through innumerable generations, surviving all their lusts [Christian mentality at work!] and longings, all their copulations, all their births, as she survives the sexual acts of the myriads of men that are born and die from generation to generation [note the Christian (the author: Geddes MacGregor) projections, in reference to Venus "surviving"].' [124].

"Machiavelli  Both heaven and hell have been the butt of innumerable jokes throughout the ages: jokes that sometimes have the merit of pointing indirectly to what is wrong with traditional representations of these concepts. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527), notorious for the worldly-wise outlook for which he is famous, would


seem to be almost the last person to have any interest at all in afterlife concepts. Sebastian de Grazia, however, a modern writer, in his delightful Machiavelli in Hell,I shows that Machiavelli did not by any means entirely forget or ignore the notion of afterlife. Predictably he pokes fun at the traditional imagery of hell, as in The Ass, which echoes The Golden Ass of Apuleius. He also parodies Dante. In this literary mood he suggests that, while heaven has the edge in climate, hell can offer more interesting company [this wit, is commonly credited to Mark Twain]. Yet he does not merely reduce the idea of afterlife to literary fun. He seems to have had an ambivalence in his psychological makeup [traditional Christian searching, searching like a parasite, searching to enter and destroy] that caused him to tend to oscillate between irreverent satire and intellectual seriousness. In his serious [this is a typical Christian remark, projecting one's own fears, and attempting to weaken—instill fears, in others. Instead of "serious moods", other moods, would be more objective] moods be showed signs of recognizing God as both all-powerful and all-compassionate and, moreover, he appears to have thought of death as the gateway to another dimension of being: a spiritual realm the arrangement of which, although we can know nothing about it, must be radically different from the manner in which affairs are ordered in our present life. We often find, in the history of human thought, that even the most skeptical of thinkers, while ridiculing the ways in which concepts of God and afterlife are commonly understood, nevertheless see in them important and profound truths [not "truths", but modus operandi]. They reject only claims to greater knowledge of the celestial and infernal geography than could possibly be justified." [136-137] [End of Chapter IX].

"Resurrection" [164]

'Background Whence came, then, in the first place, the concept of resurrection that was to play so central a role in Christian faith? Whence did Ezekiel, for instance, get his vision of a gloriously rebuilt Jerusalem? Whence did he get his vision of a vast plain covered with "dry bones" to which he was commanded to address a sort of resurrection promise?

          Ezekiel was prophesying during the Babylonian Exile and sometime between 585 and 568 B.C.E. He was living near a region populated by Elamites and Persians. He could hardly have failed to know about Zoroaster and the Zorastrian custom (still observed) of exposing the bodies of the dead rather than burying them. The point of this custom was and is to let the vultures eat their flesh and then to let the bones dry out to provide a framework for the restoration of their bodies.' [165-166].

          "Underlying the concept of hell lay a confusion of ideas that equaled the confusion behind the concept of the traditional heaven. The results in practice, however, were far more vicious in the case of hell. The images of hell were infinite in their variety. Both Catholic and Protestant writers dwelt on images of the most extravagant kind: One would be roasted on the left side for twenty million years and then turned to be baked on the right side for the next twenty million., While the burning process was going on, serpents would be perpetually stinging the victim and each sting would produce an agony greater than that of all the stings that all the vipers in the world could produce if they all were able to sting at the same place at


the same time. Yet not even all this endless reveling in such absurdly [easy to say, for an adult, very educated, inhabitant of major countries; recurrent nightmares, for the much less fortunate] sado-masochistic images of inconceivable [conceivable!] physical torment could exhaust the extent of the pitilessness of popular preaching on hell, for by far the worst ingredient in the horror [hell!] was that it is [note present tense] everlasting. Moreover, not a single tear would be shed by anyone in heaven over the everlasting torture of the denizens of hell.

          On the contrary, even the generally moderate and judicial temper of Thomas Aquinas did not prevent his endorsing the view, by then widely held, that the blessed in heaven will be granted a perfect view of the punishment of the damned and will have no pity on them; indeed, the punishment of the damned will be an indirect result of the joy of the blessed, since it is part of the fulfillment of God's justice ["Christian Love"!, from the greatest terrorists in the history of the World—Christians!].2"


"Reunion with Loved Ones

I have written at some length in so personal a vein in order to try to exhibit the rationale [hope] of the connection between a lively belief in God conceived in monotheistic terms and the hope of meeting loved ones in an afterlife. The latter is not a mere sentimental wishful dream but a hope inseparable from any hope of afterlife that belief in God implies. A typical case might be that of a partner to a Christian marriage in which, through all the turmoils, all the joys and sorrows of perhaps fifty years or more, the love that began as sexual attraction deepened into a bond so intimate and so profound that parting by death of the one is for the other like the loss of half of oneself. Such a loss cannot be treated as one treats the loss of even one's house or livelihood. The question, however, is this: With what image of afterlife is the hope of reunion at some point reconcilable

[my guess ("image" ("hope", faith, etc., not included)) is expressed by Enki, Achilles, the writer in Ecclesiastes, (see Appendix II, 707). Not!, "reconcilable"]?" [188].

[from: #1, page 1, 1. (Abner Kneeland 1774 - 1844): "death is an eternal extinction of life."].

● ● ● ● ●


from: Mortalism Readings on the Meaning of Life, Marcus Aurelius, Lucretius, William Shakespeare, Bede the Venerable, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, David Hume, and more..., Edited by Peter Heinegg, Prometheus, 2003.

"Peter Heinegg is professor of English and comparative literature at Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., where he has taught since 1976. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University and was a member of the Jesuit order for seven years." [back cover].


[Mortalism: "belief that the soul is mortal" (O.E.D.). Note the author's (Peter Heinegg) definition (below, all capitals, and bolded). I consider the title (Mortalism) questionable (study Latin and English dictionaries). The persons quoted do not use the term Mortalism. Descriptions of persons quoted (Homer, Lucretius, Seneca, et al.) as mortalists, is also, questionable. Jesuit influence? The anthology is much appreciated].

The first time I typed the word "MORTALISM" into my computer, the spell check flagged it in red; and, in its best idiot-savant manner, it still does. Many dictionaries have no entry for the word. This is strange, since THE BELIEF THAT THE SOUL—OR SPARK OF LIFE, OR ANIMATING PRINCIPLE, OR WHATEVER—DIES WITH THE BODY is one of the most logical and credible ideas ever to have dawned on the human race, and quite possibly—at least as far as Western civilization goes—has never been more widespread than now.

          Apart from being the personal credo of many of the greatest philosophers, mortalism has been the burden of vast portions of Western literature, especially poetry, from Homer to the present—not to mention almost the entire Old Testament.

          What follows, then, is a sampling of this mighty but often ignored tradition, a collection of fifty-odd, mostly quite short pieces of poetry and prose that seek to prove, describe, or deal with the obvious (isn't it?) fact that, WHATEVER THE MEANING OF HUMAN LIFE, DEATH IS ITS IRREVOCABLE END.

          Of course, such a belief might very well lead to further negative conclusions, to angst, despair, absurdity, pessimism, and so on; and readers will find some of that here. But the main focus will be on the painful (but perhaps also relieving) truth that is not only proclaimed by the "godless," but is acknowledged even more tellingly, if accidentally, by some of the most earnest believers in an afterlife: that, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15.32, "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'" The most celebrated modern example of this is Tennyson, whose In Memoriam has Nature sternly declare:

          A thousand types [species] are gone,

          I care for nothing, all shall go.

          Thou makest thine appeal to me:

          I bring to life, I bring to death:

          The spirit does but mean the breath:

          I know no more. (56, 3–8)


For the last two millennia at least, tightrope-walking theists have been keenly aware that, should the safety net of resurrection fail, there is nothing between them and the solid ground of mortalism.

          The notion of inevitable and permanent extinction is widely associated with Epicurus (d. 270 B.C.E.); that Greek sage, better known by his many illustrious disciples than by his own works, most of which have been lost, is the hero of this book. "In Christian times," writes David John Furley, "Epicureanism was anathema because it taught that man is mortal, that the cosmos is the result of accident, that there is no providential god, and that the criterion of the good life is pleasure."1 [see footnote, below] Heretical theses all, in theistic circles, then and now, but also unexceptional tenets of modern secularism; and readers may be surprised at the large numbers and incredible distinction of the singers in the chorus of mortalism that follows.


          1. The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 261.' [9-10]. [End of Introduction].

"Everybody knows that the soul dies with the body, but nobody likes to admit it [all hocus-pocus "dies with the body"!]." [11].

"Ecclesiastes" [250 B.C.E. (Dict. of the Bible, McKenzie)] [19]

'9.2–6. 2 One fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does no sacrifice. As is the good man, so is the sinner; and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that one fate comes to all; also the hearts of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun.' [20].

'Epicurus (341 – 270 B.C.E.)

Epicurus is the most important figure in the history of mortalism, but not because he left any philosophical masterpieces behind. As David John Furley says, "Apart from the letter to Menoeceus [part of which is on 2203], and a few of the maxims, Epicurus' surviving writings are needlessly difficult, clumsy, ambiguous, badly organized, and full of jargon. Present-day knowledge and appreciation of Epicurus' system depends very largely on the poem of Lucretius, De rerum natura" (Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2d ed., p. 391). We will be getting to Lucretius shortly, but in the meantime a letter from his master [Epicurus] is included here:


Letter to Menoeceus

[Epicurus] Get used to the idea that death means nothing to us, since everything good and evil consists in perception, but death removes all perception. And so a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the fact that life ends in death enjoyable, not because it adds on an infinite period of time, but because it takes away the yearning for immortality....' [39].

"Titus Lucretius Carus

(92? – 55 B.C.E.)

Lucretius is the king of mortalists. A disciple of Epicurus, whom he adulated, he presents a grand exposition of his master's teachings in De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), quite possibly the greatest philosophical poem ever written. In it Lucretius defends a thorough-going materialism, including the materiality of the soul, which is born, evolves, and dies with the body. He cites the instances of drunkenness and epilepsy to show how the mind is affected by our physical condition, and continues his onslaught against the notion of a disembodied spirit [soul?] existing either before or after the life of the body. Lucretius aims at uprooting the superstitious terrors of Hades and the world beyond death, while urging humans to concentrate on the rational purpose of life: pleasure (in moderation). Over two millenia after they were written, his lines still astonish us with their clarity, calm logic, and authority...." [41].

"Horace (65 – 8 B.C.E.)

The great Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace) has a deserved reputation for being both exquisite and nearly untranslatable, but he is too distinguished a mortalist to ignore....Horace's famous injunction carpe diem sums up his balanced, humane mortalism...." [51].

'Seneca (Lucius Annaeus

Seneca, "The Younger,"

4? B.C.E. – 65 C.E.)

Once celebrated as a stylist and moral philosopher, Seneca has fallen out of favor with modern readers, whom he often strikes as fussy and self-important. He was also a playwright, and in the following chorus from his Troades (The Trojan Women) he made one of the most trenchant summaries ever of the mortalist position. Ironically, the translator of this passage, John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647–1680) was notorious during his brief, tumultuous life as a godless hedonist, but reportedly became an earnest Christian on his deathbed [for the times, a well designed life. Affects/effects of no electricity?].


From Troades [Seneca]

          After death nothing is, and nothing death:

          The utmost limit of a gasp of breath.

          Let the ambitious zealot lay aside

          His hopes of heaven: whose faith is but his pride.

          Let slavish souls lay by their fear,

          Nor be concerned which way or where

          After this life they shall be hurled:

          Dead, we become the lumber of the world.

          And to that mass of matter shall be swept

          Where things destroyed with things unborn are kept:

          Devouring time swallows us whole,

          Impartial death confounds body and soul.

          For Hell, and the foul Fiend that rules

          The everlasting fiery gaols,

          Devised by rogues, dreaded by fools,

          With his grim grisly dog that keeps the door,

          Are senseless stories, idle tales,

          Dreams, whimsies, and no more.

(trans. John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester)' [55].

"David Hume (1711 – 1776)

David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and historian, is probably the ablest champion of mortalism in modern times. With his clear, serene, understated prose Hume presents a devastating case against the survival of the soul, or any sort of personal identity, after death." [77].


[unpublished essay. For one source: see: David Hume, The Philosophical Works, Green and Grose, Volume 4, Reprint of the new edition London 1882, Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1964: "403"-406]

By the mere light of reason it seems difficult to prove the immortality of the soul. The arguments for it are commonly derived from metaphysical topics, or moral, or physical. But in reality, it is the gospel, and the gospel alone, that has brought life and immortality to light....

          The souls of animals are allowed to be mortal; and these bear so near a resemblance to the souls of men, that the analogy from one to the other forms a very strong argument....

Death is in the end unavoidable, yet the human species could not be preserved, had not nature inspired us with an aversion towards it [death].


          All doctrines are to be suspected which are favoured by our passions. And the hopes and fears which give rise to this doctrine ["Immortality of the Soul"] are very obvious.

          It is an infinite advantage in every controversy, to defend the negative. If the question be out of the common experienced course of nature, this circumstance is almost, if not altogether, decisive. By what arguments or analogies can we prove any state of existence which no one ever saw, and which no wise resembles any that was ever seen? Who will repose such trust in any pretended philosophy as to admit upon its testimony the reality of so marvellous a scene? ...." [78, 82, 83].

"Bertrand Russell

(1872 – 1970)" [141]

"Bertrand Russell, from Mysticism and Logic (1947)

That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve an individual life beyond the grave, that all the labours of all the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand." [142].

'Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

One of the great modern patriarchs of unbelief, Freud attacks religion in The Future of an Illusion (1927) as a childish vestigate of primitive society. Freud doesn't argue his case so much as he trumpets it, flatly asserting that religion arose out of an attempt to conciliate the implacable anthropomorphized forces of nature by deifying and praying to them. For Freud, the enlightened modern individual must simply accept the world as it is (once science has done its utmost to carve a habitable clearing in the jungle, so to speak), including the prospect of permanent death.

From The Future of An Illusion....

[Sigmund Freud] By withdrawing their expectations from the Beyond and concentrating all their freed-up powers on earthly life, they ["Human beings"] will probably manage to make a life that is tolerable for everyone and a civilization that oppresses no one [this paragraph appears on the back cover]....

(trans. Peter Heinegg)' [149, 150].


'William R. Clark (1938 – )

It seems fitting to end this anthology with remarks by a scientist, since, however instinctive and intuitive the roots of mortalism may be, its ultimate foundations rest on empirical observation of the natural world, above all from the growing evidence that so-called spiritual phenomena all derive from, and perish with, our perishable bodies. In Sex and the Origins of Death, Clark, a professor of Immunology at University of California at Los Angeles, brilliantly rings the changes on the by-now familiar notion that the only absolutely necessary function humans (along with other living creatures) serve is to pass along their DNA. Having done so (or not) they are ready for permanent personal extinction (being tossed into What Vladimir Nabokov once called "nature's garbage bin"). As Clark shows, not only do our cells die from trauma, infection, wear and tear, etc., but they actually commit suicide in a form of preprogrammed degeneration called apoptosis [cell disintegration, etc.]. The process is undeniably eerie—and eerily undeniable.

Sex and the Origins of Death [William R. Clark]


And every time again and again I make my lament against destruction.

—Yevgeny Yevtushenko

We die because our cells die. Clearly the definition of humanness must transcend descriptions that can be derived from studying the lives of individual cells; yet it is true that when death comes for us it gathers us in cell by cell by cell....

          When we complete the dying process, every single cell in our body will be dead, as nature intended. If we have done our bidding, we will pass on our DNA, packaged in germ cells, to the next generation. That DNA may very well be standing next to our death bed in the form of a son or a daughter. The DNA in all the rest of the cells in our body—our somatic DNA—will no longer be of any use; like the DNA in the first redundant macronucleus a billion or so years ago, it will be destroyed. To paraphrase an old biological saw, a human being is just a germ cell's way of making another germ cell—as is a cockroach, as is a cabbage. This is not a very flattering way to explain ourselves to ourselves. We want so desperately to be more than just a vehicle for DNA, and at least transiently we are. Yet somatic cells will die at the end of each generation, whether they are part of an insect wing or a human brain. We may come to understand death, but we cannot change this single, simple fact: in the larger scheme of things, it matters not a whit that some of these somatic cells contain all that we hold most dear about ourselves; our ability to think, to feel, to love—to write and read these very words. In terms of the basis [basic] process of life itself, which is the transmission of DNA from one generation to the next, all of this ["that we hold most dear"] is just so much sound and fury, signifying certainly very little, and quite possibly nothing.

(1996)' [210, 214]. [End of book].