Note: following, there is much emphasis on: Bible (Old Testament. New Testament.) (was) is Fiction ("historical Fiction", etc.). [from: Article #1, page 1].
|1 Sixty-Five Press Interviews with Robert G. Ingersoll||2208-2225|
|2 The Legends of The Old Testament||2226-2227|
|3 Views of Religion||2228-2236|
|4 Myth, Legend, and Custom in the Old Testament||2237-2239|
|5 Radical Politics, 1790–1900, Religion and Unbelief||2240-2242|
|6 Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture||2243-2245|
|7 Oral Tradition as History||2246-2246|
|8 Religion and the Western Mind||2247-2250|
|9 When Brothers Dwell Together||2251-2251|
|10 Ingersoll Attacks the Bible||2252-2257|
|11 The Apocryphal Jesus||2258-2259|
|12 Creation of the Sacred||2260-2262|
|13 Polluted Texts and Traditional Beliefs||2263-2264|
|14 The Jesus Mysteries||2265-2290|
|15 How We Believe||2291-2292|
|16 101 Myths of the Bible||2293-2295|
|17 The Bible Unearthed||2296-2297|
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]. [See: Addition 29, 1287 (Periyar)].
[Note: some of the following criticisms of Robert G. Ingersoll, by Richard M. Smith, and, Madalyn O'Hair, of course, might be challenged].
'....Many people still have not read Robert Ingersoll or even heard of him. This is a sad state of affairs, and if American Atheists did not think so, it would not be involved in preserving, distributing and marketing his works. On the other hand, many people who are a little familiar with Ingersoll quickly come to the conclusion—for any one of the reasons outlined above—that no more sublime and eloquent words on the subject could be uttered, so Ingersoll must have been right on everything he said and nothing more needs to be done. This is pointedly true of many scientists and especially of the editors of the most prestigious scientific magazines in the country. Ingersoll, himself, appeared to have the delusion that orthodox Christianity was going to die in his lifetime, or shortly thereafter, and that he needed to do little more than speak out against religion.
This is painfully and obviously not true. While Atheists slept in this country, religion has effectively regained its power.
So, before you absorb this volume and take Ingersoll completely to your heart, be advised that there were some things about which he was dead wrong....[two examples, from interviews]
Ingersoll sometimes compromised with truth in order to be "popular." He claimed he hadn't the slightest idea whether there was life after death. This was a fatuous claim then, and it is even more so now. And, as already noted, Ingersoll rested on his laurels and made no preparation for the future of Atheism.
Enjoy Ingersoll to catharsis, but learn from his mistakes as well as his achievements; and don't imagine your catharsis is permanent.
Richard M. Smith' [i-ii].
by Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Ever since he existed, agnostics and humanists have attempted to claim Robert Green Ingersoll for their own. His progeny to the third generation have felt that it would be more admirable for Ingersoll to be included in these "dignified" positions. [Some of?] His letters have been withheld, his work has been retouched to enhance his reputation as "The Great Agnostic." Volumes have been written about his love, devotion, understanding, compassion, humility, and through that extravagant praise
Ingersoll has become a "saint." All of the attributes of this "loving man" are then claimed for the agnostic or the humanist position (in a reverse application of the doctrine of imputation).
Atheists are made of more honest stuff. We see Ingersoll for what he was and accept him as that. He was far from being a saint. Except [in part (see page xii [not included])] for the issue of abolition, into which he was indoctrinated by both of his parents, he was on the "wrong" side of every [?] human issue. Most frequently his changes of mind, and of heart, came from the influence of those he loved. His turn from religion, for example, should more honestly be seen as the result of his marriage to a woman who had abandoned it and who taught him that he should abandon any pretense of religion also.
He was a ruthless attorney for the railroads....
Ingersoll's most astute move was to marry [Eva Parker] into a family of wealth. Even in the railroad industry, he was certain to see that he moved ruthlessly up through the ranks until he became the president of Peoria lines. He charged enormous sums for his speaking appearances, averaging from $400 to $7,000 a lecture (in the 1870s). In today's money this is the equivalent of—perhaps—up to $50,000 a lecture....
He did not obtain adequate education for his own children, both of whom were female. When he could not obtain the presidential appointment he coveted, he withdrew from his political game. He was a superb egoist. And he engaged in more than one drunken public brawl.
All of which is to say that Robert G. Ingersoll was human down to the fingertips. He was a very rich and powerful man, with close political ties to greater power. As such, he could speak out as he desired. Yet he was extremely cautious for many years, and his speeches often were quite innocuous. He introduced his attacks on religion carefully over a period of years. At first they were attacks on the corruption of the orthodox faiths. Only as he became more powerful and more assured were the attacks more lashing....
Notwithstanding all of the anomalies of his character, he was magnificent when he did get going on either religion or the church. And he [Ingersoll] characterized himself as an Atheist.
Of course, he [Robert Ingersoll] became the most powerful orator that the United States ever had. He excelled the speaking ability of "golden voiced" William Jennings Bryan or, later, the evangelist who was to become legendary, Billy Sunday. His speeches could easily run to three hours, and most often he held the audience in the palm of his hand. At 210 pounds, 5' 10" in stature, he had a splendid figure, a commanding presence. His voice was of great range and compass, with fine intonations ranging from mezzo profundo, through staccato, to pianissimo. His open countenance gave him an expression of honesty and his entire thrust was one of firmness in his convictions....
Robert did not receive an education. In the fall of 1851 his father, worried about this, enrolled him in a school run by a fundamentalist in the basement of the Congregationalist church. The entire education was completed in less than a year [compare: private, and, public schools]. Robert Ingersoll's first job thereafter was as
assistant to the clerk of the county circuit court. But, shortly thereafter he was found teaching, for "boarding round" in a tiny log cabin school "with a stove" in Tennessee....
in 1868...Ingersoll became interested in the gubernatorial nomination in Illinois. Many delegates thought favorably of him, but his unorthodox religious opinions were worrisome to the politicians. He was therefore asked to make some pledge to remain silent concerning the subject of religion. This he refused to do, and consequently was not put forth as a likely candidate.
Influenced by his wife [Eva Parker Ingersoll], Robert Ingersoll did not go to church, but in his writings at this point he was stating his belief in personal immortality. It was not until May 14, 1866, at the age of 33, that he gave his first iconoclastic speech, "Progress," in Peoria....
Meanwhile, his two daughters had been born (Eva Robert in 1863 and Maud Robert in 1864). He was now the attorney for the Peoria and Rock Island Railroad, the Peoria, Decatur and Evansville Railroad, the Toledo Peoria, Atlanta and Decatur Railroad, the Chicago and Alton Railroad, the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, the Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad, the Illinois Midland Railroad, and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroads. He was on the board of directors of the Peoria and Rock Island Railroad. He had a friend in the governor (Oglesby) who appointed him attorney general of Illinois (a two-year term) on February 27, 1867. His official posture then was against Negro suffrage in Illinois. During this entire period, stories of his drinking and brawling continued. He matured, intellectually, slowly, for he did not begin to fight for woman's suffrage until 1870—by which time he was 37 years old and married for eight years. At this time he was on the board of directors of the Peoria, Atlanta and Decatur Railroad Co. and the Peoria and Springfield Railway Co. As his oratorial abilities grew, he began to make speeches on specific topics and one of the first of these was "Thomas Paine." Many of the subjects were "safe." But in 1872, his "The Gods" made its appearance, with its noble cry: "Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith." Two years later the first volume of his lectures was available to all.
In 1876 he moved into the Cockle Mansion, which had taken two years and $50,000 just to build. Constructed of brick and stone, four stories high, steam heated, it was the most outstanding residence in Peoria....
At the time, E.H. Heywood and D.G.M. Bennett were under indictment for their publication and distribution of birth control information, and Ingersoll not alone refused to assist them with his talents, but resigned from Atheist organizations because of their backing of Heywood and Bennett....
in 1889 Eva [Eva Robert (daughter)] married into fabulous railroad wealth. Her husband purchased 40 acres of land overlooking the Hudson River at Dobbs Ferry and there built "Castle Walston," where Ingersoll spent a great deal of time. It was there that he met Mark Twain and later Walt Whitman. And in 1891 he wrote his famous "A Christmas Sermon." But the love of politics never left him, and in 1896 he was back in the presidential campaigns again. Ingersoll became increasingly radical in respect to religion as he grew older—indeed, he became ever more bold. But in November 1896 he had a slight cerebral hemorrhage and incurred angina pectoris.
A combined family effort brought his weight down from 220 to 176 pounds, and the family moved again to a still larger mansion at 220 Madison Ave. When he recovered, he began to lecture again—his last one being delivered to the American Free Religious Association, another Atheist group, in Boston, on April 2, 1899, the subject being "What Is Religion?"
On the evening of July 20, 1899, he died, it is believed, from a heart attack. He was cremated and then the ashes were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Immediately, his widow put his library up for sale [why, this precipitous behavior, by a rich widow?].
For all he was, and for all he wasn't, Robert G. Ingersoll was one of the most effective spokesmen for Atheism in the United States; and IN ORATORY for the same ["atheism"] NO ONE HAS BEEN HIS EQUAL. He was grand and eloquent, this hero of ours, with his clay feet. But we cannot make a "saint" of him, for he was a "sinner" also. Robert G. Ingersoll had such wealth that he could have financed an Atheist movement which would have been able to defeat the religious forces in our nation. Our job would not be so difficult today had Robert G. Ingersoll been more aware of the need for organization and strength of numbers. He was a towering giant, but a lone one. His words were music to the ear, especially his own ear. He substituted his desire for individual fame for the good of the cause of Atheism and its advancement. But with it all—he is ours. He could have done more; he could not have done less. Everyone must give of that which they are and Ingersoll gave as an orator and a poet in prose. WE LOVE HIM FOR IT. We damn him for his shortsightedness, and WE ALL WISH THAT WE COULD DO AS WELL.'
[ix-xvi, passim] [End of Introduction] [Superb Biography (pace, admirers of Ingersoll (and, of course, I am one))!, by the dynamic, and tragic, Madalyn Murray O'Hair]. [Research to corroborate, etc.].
[I wrote a letter to Madalyn Murray O'Hair, 10/16/94. In part, the letter was a warning to Madalyn O'Hair. No response.
August 28, 1995: "Madalyn Murray O'Hair (77), Jon Garth Murray (41), and Robin Murray-O'Hair (30 [adopted (from son: William Murray) granddaughter]), all of whom lived together on Greystone Drive in Austin [Texas] disappeared."
January 28, 2001: investigators were led to the buried remains. [from: Le Beau].
For a copy of my letter, and a brief Chronology, request via e-mail: Lino Sanchez: email@example.com].
"Religion and Thomas Paine" 
"Q. [Question] How were you [Robert Ingersoll] pleased with the Paine meeting here, and its results?
A. [Answer] I was gratified to see so many people willing at last to do justice to a great and maligned man. Of course, I do not claim that Paine was perfect.
All I claim is that he was a patriot and a political philosopher; that he was a revolutionist and an agitator; that he was infinitely full of suggestive thought, and that he did more than any man to convince the people of America not only that they ought to separate from Great Britain, but that they ought to found a representative government. He [Thomas Paine] has been despised simply because he did not believe the Bible. I wish to do what I can to rescue his name from THEOLOGICAL DEFAMATION. I think the day has come when Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809] will be remembered with Washington [1732 - 1799], Franklin [1706 - 1790], and Jefferson [1743 - 1826], and that the American people will wonder that their fathers could have been guilty of such base ingratitude.—Chicago Times, Feb. 8, 1880." .
"Reply to Chicago Critics
Q. Have you read the replies of the clergy to your recent lecture in this city on "What Must We Do to Be Saved?" and if so what do you think of them?
A. I think they dodge the point. The real point is this: If salvation by faith is the real doctrine of Christianity, I asked on Sunday before last, and I still ask, why didn't Matthew tell it? I still insist that Mark should have remembered it, and I shall always believe that Luke ought, at least, to have noticed it. I was endeavoring to show that modern Christianity has for its basis an interpolation. I think I showed it. The only Gospel on the orthodox side is that of John, and that was certainly not written, or did not appear in its present form, until long after the others were written.
I know well that the Catholic Church claimed during the Dark Ages, and still claims, that references had been made to the Gospels by persons living in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries; but I believe such manuscripts were manufactured by the Catholic Church. For many years in Europe there was not one person in 20,000 who could read and write. During that time the church had in its keeping the literature of our world. They interpolated as they pleased. They created. They destroyed. In other words, they did whatever in their opinion was necessary to substantiate the faith." .
"—Chicago Tribune, Sept. 30, 1880." .
"Ingersoll [1833 - 1899] and Beecher" .
"MY PRINCIPAL OBJECTIONS TO ORTHODOX RELIGION ARE TWO-SLAVERY HERE AND HELL HEREAFTER. I do not believe that Mr. Beecher on these points can disagree with me. The real difference between us is he says God, I say nature. The real agreement between us is—we both say—liberty." .
[Source not included].
"Miracles and Immortality" .
"When I say I want a miracle, I mean by what I want a good one. All the miracles recorded in the New Testament could have been simulated. A fellow could have pretended to be dead, or blind, or dumb, or deaf. I want to see a good miracle.
I want to see a man with one leg, and then I want to see the other leg grow out.
I would like to see a miracle like that performed in North Carolina. Two men were disputing about the relative merits of the salve they had for sale. One of the men, in order to demonstrate that his salve was better than any other, cut off a dog's tail and applied a little of the salve to the stump, and, in the presence of the spectators, a new tail grew out. But the other man, who also had salve for sale, took up the piece of tail that had been cast away, put a little salve at the end of that, and a new dog grew out, and the last heard of those parties they were quarreling as to who owned the second dog. Something like that is what I call a miracle." .
"—The Dispatch, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dec. 11, 1880." .
"Hades, Delaware, and Freethought" .
"Q. How do you stand with the clergymen, and what is their opinion of you and of your views?
A. Most of them envy me; envy my independence; envy my success; think that I ought to starve; that the people should not hear me; say that I do what I do for money, for popularity; that I am actuated by hatred of all that is good and tender and holy in human nature; think that I wish to tear down the churches, destroy all morality and goodness, and usher in the reign of crime and chaos. They know that shepherds are unnecessary in the absence of wolves, and it is to their interest to convince their sheep that they, the sheep, need protection. This they are willing to give them for half the wool. No doubt, most of these ministers are honest and are doing what they consider their duty. Be this as it may, they feel the power slipping from their hands. They know that they are not held in the estimation they once were. They know that the idea is slowly growing that they are not absolutely necessary for the protection of society. They know that the intellectual world ares little for what they say, and that the great tide of human progress flows on careless of their help or hindrance. So long as they insist on the inspiration of the Bible, they are compelled to take the ground that slavery was once a divine institution; they are forced to defend cruelties that would shock the heart of a savage, and besides, they are bound to teach the eternal horror of everlasting punishment....—Brooklyn Eagle, Mar. 19, 1881." .
"A Reply to the Rev. Mr. Lansing" .
"There is but one safe course for ministers—they must assert. They must declare. They must swear to it and stick to it, but they must not try to reason." .
"—The Sunday Union, New Haven, Connecticut, April 10, 1881." .
"Beaconfield, Lent and Revivals" .
'Q. It is stated that you went to Brooklyn while Beecher and Talmage were holding revivals, and that you did so for the purpose of breaking them up. How is this?
A. I had not the slightest idea of interfering with the revivals. They amounted to nothing. They were not alive enough to be killed. Surely one lecture could not destroy two revivals. Still, I think that if all the persons engaged in the revivals had spent the same length of time in cleaning the streets, the good result would have been more apparent. The truth is that the old way of converting people will have to be abandoned. The Americans are getting hard to scare, and a revival without the "scare" is scarcely worth holding. Such maniacs as Hammond and the "boy preacher" fill asylums and terrify children. After saying what he has about hell, Mr. Beecher ought to know that he is not the man to conduct a revival. A revival sermon with hell left out—with the brimstone gone—with the worm that never dies, dead, and the devil absent—is the broadest farce. Mr. Talmage believes in the ancient way. With him hell is a burning reality. He can hear the shrieks and groans. He is of that order of mind that rejoices in these things. If he could only convince others, he would be a great revivalist. He cannot terrify, he astonishes. He is the clown of the horrible—one of Jehovah's jesters. I am not responsible for the revival failure in Brooklyn. I wish I were. I would have the happiness of knowing that I had been instrumental in preserving the sanity of my fellow men.' .
"—Brooklyn Eagle, April 24, 1881." .
"Answering the New York Ministers" .
"Q. Do many people write to you on this subject; and what spirit do they manifest?
A. Yes, I get a great many anonymous letters [surprisingly, to date (12/20/2000), I (Lino Sanchez) have only received a few e-mails ("wish you were dead"; "intellectual scum"; etc.]—some letters in which God is asked to strike me dead, others of an exceedingly insulting character, others almost idiotic, others exceedingly malicious, and others insane, others written in an exceedingly good spirit, winding up with the information that I must certainly be damned. Others express wonder that God allowed me to live at all, and that, having made the mistake, he does not instantly correct it by killing me. Others prophesy that I will yet be a minister of the gospel; but, as there has never been any softening of the brain in our family, I imagine that the prophecy will never be fulfilled. Lately, on opening a letter and seeing that it is on this subject, and without a signature, I throw it aside without reading. I have so often found them to be so grossly ignorant, insulting, and malicious, that as a rule I read them no more.
Q. Of the hundreds of people who call on you nearly every day to ask your help, do any of them ever discriminate against you on account of your infidelity?
A. No one who has asked a favor of me objects to my religion, or, rather, to my lack of it. A great many people do come to me for assistance of one kind or another. But I have never yet asked a man or woman whether they were religious or not, to what church they belonged, or any questions upon the subject. I think I have done favors for persons of most denominations. It never occurs to me whether they are Christians or Infidels. I do not care. Of course. I do not expect that Christians will treat me the same as though I belonged to their church. I have never expected it. In some instances I have been disappointed. I have some excellent friends who disagree with me entirely on the subject of religion. My real opinion is that secretly they like me because I am not a Christian, and those who do not like me envy me the liberty I enjoy.—Chicago Times, May 29, 1881." [53-54].
"Funeral of John G. Mills
and Immortality" .
'....What I say is that the writers of the New Testament knew no more about the future state than I do, and no less. The horizon of life has never been pierced. The veil between time and what is called eternity has never been raised, so far as I know; and I say of the dead what all others must say if they say only what they know. There is no particular consolation in a guess. Not knowing what the future has in store for the human race, it is far better to prophesy good than evil. It is better to hope that the night has a dawn, that the sky has a star, than to build a heaven for the few and a hell for the many. It is better to leave your dead in doubt than in fire—better that they should sleep in shadow than in the lurid flames of perdition. And so I say, and always have said, let us hope for the best. The minister asks: "What right have you to hope? It is sacrilegious in you." But, whether the clergy like it or not, I shall always express my real opinion, and shall always be glad to say to those who mourn: "There is in death, as I believe, nothing worse than sleep. Hope for as much better as you can. Under the seven-hued arch let the dead rest." Throw away the Bible, and you throw away the fear of hell, but the hope of another life remains, because the hope does not depend on a book—it depends on the heart—on human affection....' [65-66].
"Q. Do you know that it is claimed that immortality was brought to light in the New Testament, that that, in fact, was the principal mission of Christ?
A. I know that Christians claim that the doctrine of immortality was first taught in the New Testament. They also claim that the highest morality was found there. Both these claims are utterly without foundation. Thousands of years before Christ was born—thousands of years before Moses saw the light—the doctrine of immortality was preached by the priests of Osiris and Isis...." .
"—The Post, Washington, D.C., April 30, 1883." .
"The Interviewer" .
"Q. What would you define public opinion to be?"
A. First, in the widest sense, the opinion of the majority, including all kinds of people. Second, in a narrower sense, the opinion of the majority of the intellectuals. Third, in actual practice, the opinion of those who make the most noise. Fourth, public opinion is generally a mistake, which history records and posterity repeats.
Q. What do you regard as the result of your lectures?
A. In the last fifteen years I have delivered several hundred lectures. The world is growing more and more liberal every day. The man who is now considered orthodox, a few years ago would have been denounced as an Infidel. People are thinking more and believing less. The pulpit is losing influence. In the light of modern discovery the creeds are growing laughable. A THEOLOGIAN IS AN INTELLECTUAL MUMMY, and excites attention only as a curiosity. Supernatural religion has outlived its usefulness. The miracles and wonders of the ancients will soon occupy the same tent. Jonah and Jack the giant killer, Joshua and Red Riding Hood, Noah and Neptune, will all go into the collection of the famous Mother Hubbard.—The Morning Journal, New York, July 3, 1883." .
"Morality and Immortality" .
"the Jews adopted the stories of creation, the Garden of Eden, forbidden fruit, and the fall of man. They were told by older barbarians than they, and the Jews gave them to us." .
"Q. I see that you are frequently charged with disrespect toward your parents—with lack of reverence for the opinions of your father.
A. I think my father and mother on several religious questions were mistaken. In fact, I have no doubt that they were; but I never felt under the slightest obligation to defend my father's mistakes. No one can defend what he thinks is a mistake, without being dishonest. That is a poor way to show respect for parents. Every Protestant clergyman asks men and women who had Catholic parents to desert the church in which they were raised. They have no hesitation in saying to these people that their fathers and mothers were mistaken, and that they were deceived by priests and popes...." .
'the history of the world shows that ignorance has always been in the majority. There is one right road; numberless paths that are wrong. Truth is one; error is many. When a great truth has been discovered, one man has pitted himself against the world. A few think; the many believe. The few lead; the many follow [see #4, 146 (Schopenhauer)]. The light of the new day, as it looks over the window sill of the east, falls at first on only one forehead.
There is another thing. A great many people pass for Christian who are not. Only a little while ago a couple of ladies were returning from church in a carriage. They had listened to a good orthodox sermon. One said to the other: "I am going to
tell you something—I am going to shock you—I do not believe in the Bible." And the other replied: "Neither do I."—The News, Detroit, Michigan, Jan. 6, 1884.' [80-81].
"The best religion, after all, is common sense; a religion for this world, one world at a time, a religion for today. We want a religion that will deal in questions in which we are interested. How are we to do away with crime? How are we to do away with pauperism? How are we to do away with the want and misery in every civilized country? England is a Christian nation, and yet about one in six in the city of London dies in almshouses, asylums, prisons, hospitals, and jails. We, I suppose, are a civilized nation, and yet all the penitentiaries are crammed; there is want on every hand, and my opinion is that we had better turn our attention to this world." [89-90].
"—The Denver Republican, Denver, Colorado, Jan. 17, 1884." .
"The Oath Question" .
"If all witnesses sworn to tell the truth did so, if all members of Parliament and Congress, in taking the oath, became intelligent, patriotic, and honest, I should be in favor of retaining the ceremony; but we find that men who have taken the same oath advocate opposite ideas, and entertain different opinions as to the meaning of constitutions and laws. The oath adds nothing to their intelligence; does not even tend to increase their patriotism, and certainly does not make the dishonest honest." .
"—Secular Review, London, England, 1884." .
"General Subjects" .
"Q. Is it true that you were once threatened with a criminal prosecution for libel on religion?
A. Yes, in Delaware. Chief Justice Comegys instructed the grand jury to indict me for blasphemy. I HAVE TAKEN MY REVENGE ON THE STATE [DELAWARE] BY LEAVING IT IN IGNORANCE. Delaware is several centuries behind the times. It is as bigoted as it is small. Compare Kansas City with Wilmington and you will see the difference between liberalism and orthodoxy.
Q. Will liberalism ever organize in America?
A. I hope not. Organization means creed, and creed means petrifaction and tyranny. I believe in individuality. I will not join any society except an anti-society society.
Q. Do you consider the religion of Bhagavat Purana of the East as good as the Christian?
A. It is far more poetic. It has greater variety and shows vastly more thought. Like the Hebrew, it is poisoned with superstition, but it has more beauty. NOTHING CAN BE MORE BARREN THAN THE THEOLOGY OF THE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS. One lonely God, a heaven filled with thoughtless angels, a hell with unfortunate souls. Nothing can be more desolate. THE GREEK MYTHOLOGY IS INFINITELY BETTER.
Q. What do you think of Beecher?
A. He is a great man, but the habit of his mind and the bent of his early education oppose his heart. He is growing and has been growing every day for many years. He has given up the idea of eternal punishment, and that of necessity destroys it all. The Christian religion is founded on hell. When the foundation crumbles the fabric falls. Beecher was to have answered my article in the North American Review, but when it appeared and he saw it, he agreed with so much of it that he concluded that an answer would be useless.—The Times, Kansas City, Missouri, Feb. 23, 1884." [99-100].
"Reply to Kansas City Clergy" .
"THE ANCIENT JEWS WERE BARBARIANS AND...THE OLD TESTAMENT IS A BARBAROUS BOOK." .
"Mr. Jardine takes a cheerful view of the subject. He expects the light to dawn on the unbelievers. He speaks as though he were the superior of all Infidels. He claims to be a student of the evidences of Christianity. There are no evidences, consequently Mr. Jardine is a student of nothing." [101-102].
"The truth is all these ministers kept back their real thoughts. They do not tell their doubts—they know that orthodoxy is doomed—they know that the old doctrine excites laughter and scorn. They know that the fires of hell are dying out; that the Bible is ceasing to be an authority, and that the pulpit is growing feebler and feebler every day. Poor parsons!" .
"—The Journal, Kansas City, Missouri, Feb. 23, 1884." .
"Swearing and Affirming" .
'The trouble about the oath is that its tendency is to put all witnesses on an equality; the jury says, "Why, he swore to it." Now, if the oath were abolished, the jury would judge all testimony according to the witness, and then the evidence of one man of good reputation would outweigh the lies of thousands of nobodies....
I think it would be far better to let every man tell his story; let him be cross-examined,
let the jury find out as much as they can of his character, of his standing among his neighbors—then weigh his testimony in the scale of reason....Nothing amuses me more in a court than to see one calf kissing the tanned skin of another.
—The Courier, Buffalo, New York, May 19, 1884.' [104-105].
"Reply to Buffalo Critic" .
"If Christianity is true most of our friends will be in hell. The ones I love best and whose memory I cherish will certainly be among the lost. The trouble about Christianity is that it is infinitely selfish. Each man thinks that if he can save his own little shriveled microscopic soul, that is enough. No matter what becomes of the rest. Christianity has no consolation for a generous man. I do not wish to go to heaven if the ones who have given me joy are to be lost. I would much rather go with them. The only thing that makes life endurable in this world is human love, and yet, according to Christianity, that is the very thing we are not to have in the other world. We are to be so taken up with Jesus and the angels that we shall care nothing about our brothers and sisters that have been damned. We shall be so carried away with the music of the harp that we shall not even bear the wail of father or mother. Such a religion is a disgrace to human nature." .
"Really, Christianity leads men to sin on credit. It sells rascality on time and tells all the devils they can have the benefit of the Gospel Bankrupt Act." .
"MY OBJECTION TO CHRISTIANITY IS THAT IT IS INFINITELY CRUEL, INFINITELY SELFISH, AND I MIGHT ADD, INFINITELY ABSURD." .
"—The Times, Buffalo, New York, May 19, 1884." .
"Ingersoll Catechized [formally questioned]
Q. Does Christianity advance or retard civilization?
A. If by Christianity you mean the orthodox church, then I unhesitatingly answer that it does retard civilization, always has retarded it, and always will. I can imagine no man who can be benefited by being made a Catholic or a Presbyterian or a Baptist or a Methodist—or, in other words, by being made an orthodox Christian. But by Christianity I do not mean morality, kindness, forgiveness, justice. Those virtues are not distinctively Christian. They are claimed by Mohammedans and Buddhists, by Infidels and Atheists—and practiced by some of all classes. Christianity consists in the miraculous, the marvelous, and the impossible.
The one thing that I most seriously object to in Christianity is the doctrine of eternal punishment. That doctrine subverts every idea of justice. It teaches the infinite absurdity that a finite offense can be justly visited by eternal punishment.
Another serious objection I have is that CHRISTIANITY ENDEAVORS TO DESTROY INTELLECTUAL LIBERTY. Nothing is better calculated to retard civilization than to subvert the idea of justice. Nothing is better calculated to retain barbarism than to deny to every human being the right o think. Justice and liberty are two wings that bear man forward. The church, for a thousand years, did all within its power to prevent the expression of honest thought; and when the church had power, there was in this world no civilization. We have advanced just in the proportion that Christianity has lost power...." .
"Q. How does the religious state of California compare with the rest of the Union?
A. I find that sensible people everywhere are about the same, and the proportion of freethinkers depends on the proportion of sensible folks. I think that California has her full share of sensible people. I find everywhere the best people and the brightest people—the people with the most heart and the best brain—all tending toward freethought. Of course, a man of brain cannot believe the miracles of the Old and New Testaments. A man of heart cannot believe in the doctrine of eternal pain. We have found that other religions are like ours, with precisely the same basis, the same idiotic miracles, the same martyrs, the same early fathers, and, as a rule, the same Christ or savior. It will hardly do to say that all others like ours are false, and ours the only true one, when others substantially like it are thousands of years older. We have at last found that a religion is simply an effort on the part of man to account for what he sees, what he hopes. Every savage has his philosophy. That is his religion and his science.
The religions of today are the sciences of the past; and it may be that the sciences of today will be the religions of the future, and that other sciences will be as far beyond them as the science of today is beyond the religion of today. As a rule, religion is a sanctified mistake, and heresy a slandered fact. In other words, the human mind grows—and as it grows it abandons the old [see #2, 23, 141. (Ingersoll)], and the old gets its revenge by maligning the new.–The San Franciscan, San Francisco, Oct. 4, 1884." [117-118].
"Religious Prejudice" .
"Q. What section of the United States, East, West, North, or South, is the most advanced in liberal religious ideas?
A. That section of the country in which there is the most intelligence is the most liberal. THAT SECTION OF THE COUNTRY WHERE THERE IS THE MOST IGNORANCE IS THE MOST PREJUDICED. THE LEAST BRAIN IS THE MOST ORTHODOX. There possibly is no more progressive city in the world, no more liberal, than Boston. Chicago is full of liberal people. So is San Francisco. The brain of New York is liberal. Every town, every city, is liberal in the precise proportion that it is intelligent." [120-121].
"Q. A man in the Swaim court martial case was excluded as a witness because
he was an Atheist. Do you think the law in the next decade will permit the affirmative oath?
A. If belief affected your eyes, your ears, any of your senses, or your memory, then, of course, no man ought to be a witness who had not the proper belief. But unless it can be shown that Atheism interferes with the sight, the hearing, or memory, why should justice shut the door to truth?
In most of the states of this Union I could not give testimony. Should a man be murdered before my eyes I could not tell a jury who did it. Christianity endeavors to make an honest man an outlaw. Christianity has such a contemptible opinion of human nature that it does not believe a man can tell the truth unless frightened by a belief in God. No lower opinion of the human race has ever been expressed.
Q. Do you think that bigotry would persecute now for religious opinion's sake, if it were not for the law and the press?
A. I THINK THAT THE CHURCH WOULD PERSECUTE TODAY IF IT HAD THE POWER, JUST AS IT PERSECUTED IN THE PAST [see Addition 33, 1490-1492 (Poggioli) for a glimpse]. We are indebted for nearly all our religious liberty to the hypocrisy of the church. The church does not believe. Some in the church do, and if they had the power, they would torture and burn as of yore. Give the Presbyterian church the power, and it would not allow an Infidel to live. Give the Methodist church the power and the result would be the same. Give the Catholic church the power—just the same. No church in the United States would be willing that any other church should have the power. The only men who are to be angels in the next world are the ones who cannot be trusted with human liberty in this; and the men who are destined to live forever in hell are the only gentlemen with whom liberty is safe. Why should Christians refuse to persecute in this world, when their God is going to in the next?—Mail and Express, New York, Jan. 12, 1885." [121-122].
and General Grant" .
'Q. What, in your judgment, is the source of the greatest trouble among men?
A. Superstition. That has caused more agony, more tears, persecution, and real misery than all other causes combined. The other name for superstition is ignorance. When men learn that all sin is a mistake, that all dishonesty is a blunder, that even intelligent selfishness will protect the rights of others, there will be vastly more happiness in this world. Shakespeare says that "There is no darkness but ignorance." Sometime man will learn that when he steals from another, he robs himself—that they way to be happy is to make others so, and that it is far better to assist his fellow man than to fast, say prayers, count beads or build temples to the unknown. Some people tell us that selfishness is the only sin, but selfishness grows in the soil of ignorance. After all, education is the great lever, and the only one capable of raising mankind. People ignorant of their own rights are ignorant of the rights of others. Every tyrant is the slave of ignorance.' .
"—Iowa State Register, May 23, 1885." .
"The Stage and the Pulpit" .
'Q. Every now and then someone challenges you to a discussion, and nearly everyone who delivers lectures or speeches attacking you or your views says that you are afraid publicly to debate these questions. Why do you not meet these men, and why do you not answer these attacks?
A. In the first place, it would be a physical impossibility to reply to all the attacks that have been made—to all the "answers." I receive these attacks, and these answers, and these lectures almost every day. Hundreds of them are delivered every year. A great many are put in pamphlet form, and, of course, copies are received by me. Some of them I read, at least I look them over, and I have never yet received one worthy of the slightest notice never one in which the writer showed the slightest appreciation of the questions under discussion. All these pamphlets are about the same, and they could, for that matter, have all been produced by one person. They are impudent, shallow, abusive, illogical, and in most respects, ignorant. So far as the lectures are concerned, I know of no one who has yet said anything that challenges a reply. I do not think a single paragraph has been produced by any of the gentlemen who have replied to me in public that is now remembered by reason of its logic or its beauty. I do not feel called on to answer any argument that does not at least appear to be of value. Whenever any article appears worthy of an answer, written in a kind and candid spirit, it gives me pleasure to reply.
I should like to meet someone who speaks by authority, someone who really understands his creed, but I cannot afford to waste time on little priests or obscure parsons or ignorant laymen.—The Truth Seeker, New York, Jan. 14, 1888.'
"CHRISTIANITY IS THE MOST HEARTLESS OF ALL RELIGIONS—THE MOST UNFORGIVING, THE MOST REVENGEFUL.
According to the Episcopalian belief, God becomes the eternal prosecutor of his own children. I know of no creed believed by any tribe, not excepting the tribes where cannibalism is practiced, that is more heartless, more inhuman than this. To find that the creed is false is like being roused from a frightful dream, in which hundreds of serpents are coiled about you, in which their eyes, gleaming with hatred, are fixed on you, and finding the world bathed in sunshine and the songs of birds in your ears and those you love about you.—New York World, Nov. 18, 1888." .
"Liberals and Liberalism" .
"Q. What is your opinion of the Christian religion and the Christian church?
A. My opinion on this subject is certainly well known. The Christian church is founded on miracles—that is to say, on impossibilities. Of course, there is a great deal that is good in the creeds of the churches, and in the sermons delivered by its ministers; but mixed with this good is much that is evil. My principal objection to orthodox religion is the dogma of eternal pain. Nothing can be more infamously absurd [and heinous!]. All civilized men should denounce it—all women should regard it with a kind of shuddering abhorrence.—Secular Thought, Toronto, Canada, 1888." .
"Pope Leo XIII" .
"Christianity has been thoroughly tried, and it is a failure.
NEARLY EVERY CHURCH HAS UPHELD SLAVERY, NOT ONLY OF THE BODY, BUT OF THE MIND. WHEN CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES INVADE WHAT THEY CALL A HEATHEN COUNTRY, THEY ARE FOLLOWED IN A LITTLE WHILE BY MERCHANTS AND TRADERS, AND IN A FEW DAYS AFTERWARD BY THE ARMY. THE FIRST REAL WORK IS TO KILL THE HEATHEN OR STEAL THEIR LANDS [see 909 (Bible)], OR ELSE REDUCE THEM TO SOMETHING LIKE SLAVERY." .
"—The Herald, New York, April 22, 1890." .
"The Tendency of Modern Thought" .
"For many years the Christian world has been engaged in examining the religions of other peoples, and
THE CHRISTIAN SCHOLARS HAVE HAD BUT LITTLE TROUBLE IN DEMONSTRATING THE ORIGIN OF MOHAMMEDANISM AND BUDDHISM AND ALL OTHER ISMS EXCEPT OURS [CHRISTIANISM! (see #18, 363-374)]...." .
'Now, understand, I am not finding fault with any of these religions or with any of these ministers. These religions and these ministers are the necessary and natural products of sufficient causes. Mankind has traveled from barbarism to what we now call civilization by many paths, all of which, under the circumstances, were absolutely necessary; and while I think the individual does as he must, I think the same of the church, of the corporation, and of the nation, and not only of the nation, but of the whole human race. Consequently I have no malice and no prejudices. I have likes and dislikes. I do not blame a gourd for not being a cantaloupe, but I like cantaloupes. So I do not blame the old hardshell Presbyterian for not being a philosopher, but I like
philosophers. So to wind it all up with regard to the tendency of modern thought, or as to the outcome of what you call religion, my own belief is that what is known as religion will disappear from the human mind. And by "religion" I mean living in this world for another, or living in this world to gratify some supposed being whom we never saw and about whom we know nothing and of whose existence we know nothing. In other words, religion consists of the duties we are supposed to owe to the first cause ["some supposed being"], and of certain things necessary for us to do here to insure happiness hereafter. These ideas, in my judgment, are destined to perish, and men will become convinced that all their duties are within their reach and that obligations can exist only between them and other sentient beings. Another idea, I think, will force itself on the mind, which is this: That he who lives the best for this world lives the best for another if there be one. In other words, humanity will take the place of what is called "religion." Science will displace superstition, and to do justice will be the ambition of men.
MY CREED IS THIS: HAPPINESS IS THE ONLY GOOD. THE PLACE TO BE HAPPY IS HERE. THE TIME TO BE HAPPY IS NOW. THE WAY TO BE HAPPY IS TO MAKE OTHERS SO.' [224-225].
"—The Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, November 1891." .
Q. What is your opinion of foreign missions?
A. In the first place, there seems to be pretty good opening in this country for missionary work. We have a good many Indians who are not Methodists. I have never known one to be converted. A good many have been killed by Christians, but their souls have not been saved...." .
"Catholicism and Protestantism
The Pope, the A.P.A. [American Protestant Association (?)],
Agnosticism, and the Church" .
"The Pope is a fragment, a remnant, a shred, a patch of ancient power and glory [Paganism!] [see Addition 33, 1482 (Hobbes)]. He is a survival of the unfittest, a souvenir of the theocracy, a relic of the supernatural. Of course, he will have a few successors, and they will become more and more comical, more and more helpless and impotent as the world grows wise and free. I am not blaming the Pope. He was poisoned at the breast of his mother. Superstition was mingled with her milk. He was poisoned at school—taught to distrust his reason and to live by faith. And so it may be that his mind was so twisted and tortured out of shape that he now really believes that he is the infallible agent of an infinite God." .
"BETWEEN THE CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS THERE HAS BEEN ABOUT AS MUCH DIFFERENCE AS THERE IS BETWEEN CROCODILES AND ALLIGATORS. BOTH HAVE DONE THE WORST THEY COULD, BOTH ARE AS BAD AS THEY CAN BE, AND THE WORLD IS GETTING TIRED OF BOTH. THE WORLD IS NOT GOING TO CHOOSE EITHER—BOTH ["CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS"] ARE TO BE REJECTED." .
"—New York Herald, Sept. 16, 1894." .
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from: The Legends of The Old Testament, Traced to their Apparent Primitive Sources. By Thomas Lumisden Strange, Late a Judge of the High Court of Madras. London. Trübner & Co., 57 and 59 Ludgate Hill. 1874. [See: 1573-1579 (Strange), 1694-1734 (Strange)].
[Preface] "FICTION IS MORE ATTRACTIVE TO THE CHILDLIKE THAN SOBER REALITY, and in the infancy of nations THE EASTERN STORIES were readily accepted and took root and flourished." [vi]. [as I heard on talk radio: "People prefer a good story—to facts." Entertainment!, the sine qua non.].
"The Holi is another important festival of the Hindús which has had its parallels among the western nations. On this occasion the utmost liberty of speech and conduct is allowed, masks and disguises are worn, and people pelt each other with comfits and powders. Similar extravagances characterized the Lupercal of the Romans, and occur at the carnivals of the continental nations of Europe (Prof. Wilson in Jour. of As. Soc., IX. 108). The Saturnalia of the Romans was of the like complexion. The Latins bound the image of Saturn in chains for a whole year, and at this festival he was let loose with great rejoicings." [38-39].
'Reverting to our earliest known models, the Vedic Aryans, "there never," says Max Müller, "was a nation believing so firmly in another world, and so little concerned about this. Their condition on earth is to them a problem, their real and eternal life a simple fact.... Nowhere have religious and metaphysical ideas struck root so deep in the mind of a nation as in India.... History supplies no second instance where the inward life of the soul has so completely absorbed all the other faculties of a people."' .
'The number forty is a favourite [see 1692 ("six is a sacred number")]....The rain at the deluge falls for forty days (Gen. vii. 4); Isaac and Esau both marry at the age of forty (Gen. xxv. 20; xxvi. 34); Moses was twice on the mount receiving the commands of God for forty days and nights, on both occasions fasting (Exod. xxiv. 18; xxxiv. 28; Deut. ix. 9; x. 10); his history is divided into three periods of forty years each (Acts vii. 23, 30; xiii. 18); the spies are forty days spying out the land (Num. xiii. 25); Eli judges Israel forty years, and the first three successive kings, Saul, David, and Solomon, severally reign forty years (1 Sam iv. 18; 2 Sam. v. 4; 1 Kings xi. 42; Acts xiii. 21); the judgment of Nineveh is suspended for forty days (Jonah iii. 4); Elijah and Jesus, as Moses, both fast "forty days and forty nights" (1 Kings xix. 8; Matt. iv. 2); and Jesus exhibits himself alive after death for forty days (Acts i. 3).' . [See: Appendix VI, 774-775 (number 12)].
"....The Greeks have accounts of two deluges. In one the saved person was Ogyges, a mythical being, son of Terra or Neptune by Thebe, daughter of Jupiter, and ruler of Boeotia and Attica. This flood is said to have occurred 1600 years before the first Olympiad, or B.C. 2376, bringing it within twenty-seven years of the Hebrew flood (Anthon's Lemp.). In the other account the hero is Deucalion, who is said to have been a son of Prometheus, and king of Thessaly, which was the scene of the visitation. His father warned him of the coming judgment which Zeus had determined to inflict for the destruction of the whole human race, because of their wickedness. By the instructions of Prometheus, Deucalion built a vessel, in which he and his wife Pyrrha embarked. The vessel was tossed about for nine days, and then rested on the top of Mount Parnassus. The event is said to have happened B.C. 1503 (Anthon's Lemp.). Bryant adds, on the authority of Apollodorus, that on leaving the ark Deucalion offered up a sacrifice to Jupiter (Anc. Myth., III., 22; V. 25)...." .
● ● ● ● ●
from: Views of Religion, collected by Rufus K. Noyes, M.D. [following: a complex, round figure, symbolising universes and nature, with the word NATURE, at the top], published by L.K. Washburn, Boston, Mass. 1906. Magnificent!
[Gorgeous book (watermarks, deckle fore edge, gold top edge, etc.)]. [Extremely rare book. I know of two copies. An uncataloged copy in a Library, and, my copy (the unopened pages (10%?), slashed by a "professional" book "restorer" [catalyzed chronic cussing])]. [Now, I have 3 copies]. [See: #3, 85 (Noyes)]. [Extremely disappointing, that this book has not been reprinted (at least, in paperback)]. [Note: quotation marks omitted].
Prof. C. Toy.
Little of Genesis can be accepted as history. .
Diagoras and Theodorus flatly deny that there were ever any gods at all. .
John M. Robertson.
The reconciliation of religion and science consists in religion, as such, disappearing. .
M. De Montaigne.
Of mean understandings, little inquisitive, and little instructed, are made good Christians. .
The universe has been made neither by one of the gods nor of men, but it has been, and is, and will be eternally. .
All the gods are of a barbarous origin; all religions are antique monuments of ignorance, superstition and ferocity. .
The Universalists believe in a God which I do not. .
What an insult it is to our best moral faculties to hold over us the promises and threats of heaven and of hell. .
Science and Christ have nothing to do with each other. I do not believe any revelation has ever been made. .
Heaven is altogether a place of the fancy or imagination; it has no reality; and such is hell. .
Samuel P. Putnam.
Having shown that religion is a curse and that religion is a disease, I now propose to show that religion is a lie. .
Just in the ratio that knowledge increases faith diminishes. .
Godfrey Higgins, F.A.S.
The king and priest were generally united in the same person. The sole object of the initiated was, as it yet is, to keep the people in a state of debasement, that they might be more easily ruled. .
The fopperies and ridiculous ceremonies of religion! .
I come not to preach tolerance; the most unlimited liberty in religion is, in my eyes, a light so sacred that the word tolerance, which is used to express it, appears to me a species of tyranny itself. .
Prof. Edwin Johnson.
Christianity is a system of mythical ideas, wholly derived from a capricious exegesis of the Old Testament writers. .
It is not difficult to set against every portion of the utterance of Jesus an observation which deprives him of originality. .
Judge Parish B. Ladd.
Moses was a myth, an Egyptian God. The whole Pentateuch-story rests on no foundation whatever. .
Sir Henry Brugsch-Bey.
Nowhere do the inscriptions (Egyptian) contain one syllable about the Israelites. .
Rev. A.A. Sayce.
Mosu (Moses) was deified as the Egyptian Sun-God. .
After all it is setting a high value upon our opinions to roast men and women alive on account of them. .
Leckey [probably: Lecky].
Montaigne was the first great representative of modern secular and rationalistic thought. .
Melito, Bishop of Sardis (A.D. 170).
The Christian religion is not a new thing. It was imported from countries beyond the limits of the Roman empire. .
Rev Robert Taylor, D.D.
Not a single sentence can be found from any independent authority showing the existence of such a man as Christ or any one of his so-called disciples. .
Rev. Robert Taylor, D.D.
Every line of the Old Testament is pagan. .
Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
I know of no other book that so fully teaches the subjection and degradation of woman (as the Bible). .
All the writings of the so-called Christian fathers were fabricated after the renaissance. [see Appendix III, 725-732 (Hardouin); etc.] .
Judge Parish B. Ladd.
No one of ordinary sense believes in the Christian doctrines as promulgated by the priesthood. .
Most of the arguments of philosophers in favor of the immortality of man apply equally to the permanence of this principle in other living beings. .
[see Appendix VII, 783 (Koheleth)].
Wilhelm Von Humboldt.
Religion is altogether subjective, and rests solely on the conceptive powers of the individual. .
Prof. Alexander Bain.
It (religion) is an affair of the feelings. .
It was a fact of the first significance for his age that the greatest man of letter in Europe (Goethe) was not a Christian. .
Dr. W.A. Croffut.
Science is the sum total of what men know. Religion is the sum total of what men do not know. .
Rev. U. Dhammaloka.
Christianity spreads in this country (Burma) not because it has any intrinsic worth, for science has shown it has none, but because its missionaries are backed up by the powers of the purse. .
Cassels. [author: Supernatural Religion]
We do not find any real trace even of the existence of our Gospels for a century and a half after the events they record. .
But vain mortals imagine that gods like themselves are begotten with human sensations and voice and corporeal members. .
Rev. J.H. Newman, D.D.
It is doubtless the tendency of religious minds to imagine mysteries and wonders when there are none. .
Never have found time to read it (Bible). .
The Gospels possess no value as evidence for the resurrection and ascension.
It (resurrection) comes to us a bare belief from the age of miracles, unsupported by facts. .
Rt. Rev. F.W. Farrar, M.A., F.R.S.
If the resurrection be merely a spiritual idea or a mythicized hallucination then our religion has been founded on an error.
[paraphrasing Paul (see #3, 45, 213.)]. .
M. Romero (Mex. Min. to U.S.)
These two laws (prohibiting church corporations from holding real estate and the clergy from special civil privileges) were the cause of two other insurrections promoted by the church. .
Benito Juarez, Pres. Mexican Republic.
The law provides that the clergy shall be prohibited special civil privileges.
M. Romero (Mex. Min. Republic Mexico).
The clergy (Mexico) who obtained bequests from persons who were dying, owned two-thirds of the whole real estate of the country. .
The convention (U.S. Constitutional Convention) except three or four persons thought prayers unnecessary. .
Rufus K. Noyes, M.D. [author of this book]
Lent saves money for priests at Easter. Christmas bribes children to love Jesus. Religious music, holidays and picnics are bait to catch food for priests. Prayer deludes simple folk about God. Religion enables priests to exploit credulous people. .
Rufus K. Noyes, M.D. [author of this book]
Love and worship of God tend to diminish love and respect for parents and ancestors. .
Andrew Dixon White.
The list of those who have been denounced as infidel or atheist includes almost all great men of science, general scholars, inventors and philanthropists. .
That death is best which is least expected. We are not immortal. .
Men in all countries and all ages have been atheists because they differed only from the traditional conception of the deity prevalent at the time. .
Theology is but ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system. .
We are born Calvanists or Methodists, or Catholics, or Whigs, or Tories. .
Suns may set and rise again; but we
When our brief light has set,
Must sleep through a perpetual night. [see 2233 (Mirabeau)]. .
Corpse-worship is the protoplasm of religion, and folk-lore is the protoplasm of mythology, and of its more modern and philosophical off-shoot, theology. .
Men that are free (from religion) are naturally goaded to virtuous actions. .
If there were only one religion in England its tyranny would be terrible; if there were two they would cut each other's throats; there are thirty, and all is peace and happiness. .
Frederick the Great.
The study of history led one to think that from Constantine to the date of the Reformation the whole world was insane. .
As man has made his gods, so he has made his christs. .
Nature is seen to do all things spontaneously of herself without meddling with the gods. .
I go into nothingness (after death). [see 2232 (Catullus)]. .
Prof. Samuel McComb.
For centuries men believed that the church was an infallible authority; but at the Reformation the conscience of Europe broke with this theory [tyranny!]. .
You are in the first place a Christian; I am in the first place a historian. There is a gulf between us. .
Lord Acton, LL.D.
They (the middle ages) became content to be deceived (in religion). .
The horrors of the Inquisition, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the atrocities of Laud, the abominations of the Scottish Kirk, the persecutions of the Quakers, had one object—the enslavement of the mind. .
Peter Charron (1660).
They (Christians) desire that a man be religious before he be honest. .
The heaven of Christians is too mythological for a scientific mind. Mankind does not want Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism. .
There is, indeed, hardly a great or fruitful idea in the Jewish or Christian system which has not its analogy in the ancient Egyptian faith.
[see #24, 495 (Taylor)]. .
Robert G. Ingersoll.
Religion has not civilized man; man has civilized religion. .
I am all that has been, that shall be, and none among mortals has hitherto taken off my veil. [see #3, 82, 421. (Taylor)]. .
Prof. Edwin Johnson (England).
There is no more real and less spurious historical evidence for Paul than for Jesus. [see #4, 105-151, for: Edwin Johnson; Paul; etc.]. .
The race of mortals has forged images of God, of stone, wood, gold and ivory; we dedicate to them festival days and we call that religion. .
Professor Delitzsch (Berlin).
There is no greater mistake of the human mind than the belief that the Bible is a personal revelation of God. .
Fred F. Ayer.
Lawrence and Casandra Soutwick of Salem, Mass., were imprisoned, whipped, starved, despoiled, banished and persecuted to death (by Christians) for being Quakers (1600). .
I have not bothered Providence with my petitions for about forty years. .
The public will remember one prophesy that comes true better than all the rest that have proved false. .
Time knows naught of gods, nor of the dim and fallacious hopes of mortals.
Sir Leslie Stephen.
We have not the courage to say that the Christian doctrines are false, but we are lazy enough to treat them as irrelevant. .
I wish for all my brethren who have remained in orthodoxy a peace comparable to that in which I live; there is no other star than reason and no other compass than one's own heart. .
Christianity ought to be destroyed [see #24, 519, 520]. God-worship is idolatry. Prayer is useless. The soul is not immortal. There are no rewards and punishments in a future life.
I remove from you a cancer (priests) and you ask what I will put in its place.
Prof. William Osler, M.D., LL.D.
Modern psychological science dispenses altogether with the soul. .
The temple of Jerusalem was employed in celebrating the birthday of a Pagan God (Adonis) on the very night Christians assign for the birth of Christ. .
Marquis Ito (Japan).
I regard religion itself as quite unnecessary for a nation's life; science is far above superstition, and what is religion, Buddhism, or Christianity but superstition, and, therefore, a possible source of weakness to a nation? .
Marquis Ito (Japan).
I do not regret the tendency to Freethought and atheism, which is almost universal in Japan, because I do not regard it as a source of danger to the community. .
Abraham Lincoln, Pres. U.S.A., 1862.
He (God) could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds. .
Dr. Felix Adler.
It is time we put away from us this mush (ordinary Christianity) of religious sentiment. .
Lemuel K. Washburn. [publisher of this book]
A good man does not need religion. .
Ida M. Tarbell.
Abraham Lincoln was never a member of any denomination (of religion). .
Revelation had indeed no weight with me, as such—I grew convinced that truth, sincerity and integrity, in dealings between man and man, were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life. .
The Catholic religion is an order to obtain heaven by begging, because it would be too troublesome to earn it. The priests are the brokers for it. .
My indiscreet disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people as an infidel and atheist.
[I have to laugh! I have no idea, how many times "My...disputations about religion...make me pointed at with horror by good people as an...atheist." I read long ago: make people uncomfortable, and they will hate one, etc. See 1644]. .
Professor Voelter (Germany).
In the ancient legends current in the land of the Pharoahs are to be found exact counterparts of Abraham, Isaac, Esau, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc. .
Don't let me be mistaken; it was not for Christ's sake, but for your sake. (Franklin offered to entertain Rev. Whitefield). .
● ● ● ● ●
from: Myth, Legend, and Custom in the Old Testament, A comparative study with chapters from Sir James G. Frazer's Folklore in the Old Testament [1918 (essay 1907)], Theodor H. Gaster, Harper & Row, c1969.
[(Sir James George Frazer 1854 - 1941) 'Few expressions of Frazer's personal belief occur in the volumes [The Golden Bough], though in the Preface to the second edition of the Golden Bough (1900, p. xxii) he acknowledges that his work "STRIKES AT THE FOUNDATIONS OF BELIEFS IN WHICH THE HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS OF HUMANITY THROUGH LONG AGES HAVE SOUGHT A REFUGE."' (A Rationalist Encyc., McCabe, 1948, 226)].
THIS BOOK IS AN ATTEMPT TO GATHER INTO ONE PLACE ALL THAT CAN BE DERIVED FROM COMPARATIVE FOLKLORE AND MYTHOLOGY FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT...." [xxi].
The folklore of the Old Testament consists of stories, songs, customs, institutions, and idioms. It is the residue of what Israel inherited from her pagan ancestors or adopted and adapted from her neighbors...." [xxv].
"Ancient Near Eastern parallels
A hundred years ago [and, today], most of such mythological allusions would have passed unnoticed. Today, however, thanks to the rediscovery through archaeological exploration of so much of Mesopotamian, Canaanite, Hittite, and Egyptian literature, it is possible at long last to recognize that, for all its distinctive qualities,
THE OLD TESTAMENT IS IN FACT SATURATED WITH THE POPULAR LORE OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST.
The notion, for instance, that water preceded all things (§2) likewise occurs in Babylonian and Egyptian mythology, both of which likewise attest the creation of man from clay (§§8, 315). Similarly the story of the Faery Garden (Eden) finds a parallel among the Sumerians; and that of the forbidden dalliance of the Sons of God with the daughters of men (§32) revolves around a theme which recurs in a Hittite legend. Again, the narrative of the Deluge (§33) is found in substantially the same form—including such details as the construction of the ark and the dispatch of the birds—in the far older Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. That this legend was indeed current in divers parts of the Ancient Near East is evidenced by the fact that fragments of Hittite and Hurrian (Horite) versions have actually been recovered and that a portion of the Babylonian recension has actually turned up in the ruins of the
Palestinian city of Megiddo. Take, likewise, the tale of the rivalry between Jacob and Esau (§60). The contest between the more or less civilized man and his savage and shaggy antagonist appears earlier in the same Babylonian myth; while the familiar tale of Joseph and Potiphar's wife finds a parallel in an Egyptian folktale of the thirteenth century B.C. (§76). So too, the exposure of the infant Moses in the bulrushes reproduces, with appropriate change of scene, an earlier legend associated with Sargon, king of Agade (§78)...." [xxv-xxvi].
'Parallels among primitive peoples
But "not from eastern windows only." Many of the stories related in the Old Testament are by no means peculiar to the Ancient Near East, but are simply particular forms of tales current elsewhere in the world.
The story of the Earthly Paradise, for instance, is found alike in the Ancient Near East, Classical, and primitive cultures, and contains the same details of the special food forbidden to mortals and of the central river (or fountain) which is the primary source of earth's waters and which is different by four streams flowing to the four quarters (§§12–16). Similarly, if we dismiss as secondary the detail of her formation from the rib of Adam (see above [not included [see 2294]]), Eve would have been in the garden from the beginning, and she thus becomes simply a Hebrew version of the seductive Fairy Mistress, a fairly ubiquitous figure in folktales of the Earthly Paradise or the Enchanted Realm (§§11, b, 321). Again, legends of a primeval deluge which destroyed the first race of men and from which only one or a few specially pious persons were spared, though often severely localized, are a feature of almost all primitive mythologies, and usually include the incident of deliverance in an ark or special vessel and the grounding of it on a high mountain (§§ 33–45). So too the Tower of Babel finds analogues in several primitive stories revolving around the theme of men's impious attempt to scale heaven, and the confusion visited upon them (§49).
Nor are these the only examples. Likewise familiar to all students of Comparative Folklore are the tale of the man who, like Abraham, entertains angels unawares (§55); of the city, which like Sodom and Gomorrah, is submerged or destroyed through the impiety or inhospitality of its inhabitants (§55,a); of the man or woman transformed, like Lot's wife, into a pillar of salt (sometimes, into stone) as a punishment for disobedience (§58); of the twin culture-heroes who, like Jacob and Esau, quarrel while still in the womb (§60); of the Phantom Host which appears on a dark or stormy night, even as the host of angels or otherworldly beings appeared to Jacob at Mahanaim (§71); of the coat dipped, like Joseph's, in the blood of a wild beast [Genesis 38:31: "goat" (in this story)], to feign that its owner had met his death by ravin [(my interpretation) "by ravin" = as prey] (§75); of the rejected siren who brings false charges, like Potiphar's wife, against the object of her passion (§76); of the hero exposed, like Moses, at birth (§78); of the miraculous parting of waters (§86); of the rash vow whereby, like Jephthah, a man is obliged to sacrifice his own offspring (§115); of the "Uriah Letter" (§140); the Judgment of Solomon (§150), and the Ascension of Elijah (§159); of the king who, like David, will posthumously return to his people (§§205, a 227); and of the man like Jonah, swallowed by a fish but subsequently disgorged intact (§236).
It is worth pointing out, however, that in citing such parallels from primitive cultures special caution is necessary, for many of them may in fact be nothing but "playbacks" of the Biblical stories picked up from Christian missionaries and then elaborated or garbled [related to the history of the transmission of "Myth, Legend, and Custom"]....' [xxviii-xxix].
'[Section] 6 "God saw that it was good" [Chapter] 1 passim
After every major act of creation God looks upon his handiwork and "sees that it is good."1
This phrase is more than a poetic flourish. It reflects the practice of Mesopotamian craftsmen of inspecting their products and formally pronouncing them satisfactory before releasing them from their workshops [see 1692].2 King Ashurbanipal thus approved one of the buildings which he erected at Nineveh,3 and in the poem Enuma Elish, Ea (using the same term) "approves" his son Marduk immediately after the latter's birth.4' .
"78 Moses in the bulrushes Exod. 2:1–11
"In order, apparently, to enhance the wonder of a hero's career, popular story loves to relate how he was exposed at birth1 and rescued from imminent death only by what might seem to vulgar eyes an accident, but what was really the hand of Fate interposed to preserve him for his high destiny. Moreover, it is sometimes specified, as in the Biblical tale, that his rescuer or foster-mother was a princess.1a ...." .
"Notes ⋅ The Deluge"
"Literature, Frazer [Sir James G. Frazer 1854 - 1941] was not the first, nor has he been the last, to point out the STORIES OF A PRIMEVAL FLOOD EXIST IN ALL PARTS OF THE WORLD. Among his predecessors mention may be made especially of the following, upon whom, indeed, he drew lavishly...." .
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from: Radical Politics, 1790–1900, Religion and Unbelief, Edward Royle, Selwyn College, Cambridge, Longman, 1971.
An Atheist's view of the Bible
The freethinking radicals attacked the Bible as the basis on which the superstitious system of religion was erected. The more extreme writers were none too polite in the words of criticism which they used. The following article, contemptuously headed 'The "Jew Book"', was the cause of Charles Southwell's prosecution for blasphemy in 1841 [see: Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 636-637, etc. (Southwell)]
That revoltingly odious Jew production, called BIBLE, has been for ages the idol of all sorts of blockheads, the glory of knaves, and the disgust of wise men. It is a history of lust, sodomies, wholesale slaughtering, and horrible depravity, that the vilest parts of all other histories, collected into one monstrous book, could scarcely parallel! Priests tell us that this concentration of abominations was written by a god; all the world believe priests, or they would rather have thought it the outpourings of some devil!
IN THESE TIMES EVEN ATHEISTS MAY WRITE WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING ROASTED,
we will briefly expose this choice morceau. To our minds
THE BIBLE IS ONE OF THE MOST CONTEMPTIBLE AND BRUTALIZING BOOKS THAT EVER WAS PENNED!
From Genesis to Revelations we have one string of blunders. Its heroines are strumpets, an account of whose debaucheries is fit only for the hell of human imagination; assassinating Jezebels, the tale of whose lewdness and infamy would put Fanny Hill or Harriet Wilson to the blush. It is a book which contains passages so outrageously disgusting and scandalously indecent, that were it not called the word of a god, no modest woman would suffer it to be read in her house. Its heroes are cruel, unscrupulous, and (from Moses, the king of the conjurors [sic], to Peter and Paul, the last of the gang)—canting, impudent impostors; slaughtering fanatics, plundering judges, and abominable kings, who if they were to start from their graves and play their villainous pranks in these times, would be strung up to the first lamp-post. The prophets were impudent mouthers, who vomited forth their sublime balderdash, prophesying and humbugging, with a shameful disregard to personal covering, that would be deemed scandalous among decent people; frantic bedlamites, that the Jews, had they not been senseless idiots, would have fastened in the stocks or clapped in a pillory.
From Charles Southwell [1814 - 1860], 'The "Jew Book"', Oracle of Reason, no. 4, 27 November 1841." [116-117].
Religion and science
Belief in Reason and Natural Law was fundamental to the philosophers of the Enlightenment, and Richard Carlile adopted this rationalistic creed in preference to that offered by the priests. He expressed it in a style which was both provocative and popular.
What avail the dogmas of the priest about an end to the world, about a resurrection, about a day of judgement, about a Heaven and Hell, or about rewards and punishments after this life, when we assert that matter is imperishable and indestructible—that it always was what it now is, and that it will always continue the same. Answer this, ye Priests. Come forward, ye Men of Science, and support these plain truths, which are as familiar to your minds, as the simplest demonstration in mathematics is to the experienced and accomplished mathematician. Future rewards and punishments are cried up as a necessary doctrine wherewith to impress the minds of men, and to restrain them from vice: but how much more impressive and comprehensible would be the plain and simple truth, that, in this life, virtue produces happiness, and vice nothing but certain misery.
All religious notions in all their degrees must properly be termed a species of madness. Whatever opinions prevail in the minds of men which have no foundation in Nature, or natural laws, they can merit no other designation than insanity. Insanity, or madness, consists in unnatural or incoherent thoughts and actions, therefore, as no species of religious notions have any alliance with nature, it is but a just inference to say, that they individually or collectively comprise the term madness. ...Reason, or a knowledge of nature, is the only specific for it, and he who can throw the greatest quantity into the social system will prove the best physician. Several quacks have made pretensions to give society relief from this madness but they have only tortured the patient without checking the disease. Thomas Paine, and a few American and French physicians, have been the only ones to treat it in an effectual manner, and by the use of their recipes, and the assistance of MEN OF SCIENCE, I hope at least effectually to destroy the contagious part of the disease.
From Richard Carlile, An Address to Men of Science; calling upon them to stand forward and Vindicate the Truth from the Foul Grasp and Persecution of Superstition; and obtain for the Island of Great Britain the noble appellation of the Focus of Truth; whence mankind shall be illuminated, and the black and pestiferous clouds of Persecution and Superstition be banished from the face of the earth; as the only sure prelude to Universal Peace and Harmony among the Human Race. In which a Sketch of a Proper System for the Education of Youth is submitted to their judgement, London, 1821, pp. 7, 25–6.' [106-107]. [See: Addition 35, 1646-1657 (Carlile)].
Blasphemy at the Rotunda [see 1654-1656]
Robert Taylor, the 'Devil's Chaplain', mocked Christianity in the style of the most popular ultra-radical agitators, but at the same time he was able to bring to his 'sermons' a wealth of learning. The following extracts are from works prosecuted for blasphemy." .
[Robert Taylor] 'All our churches and chapels to this day are built, as all the Pagan Pagodas and Temples of the Sun, through unrecorded ages, were, so as to have their altars in the East: and all the light allowed to fall on that mystic table, was such alone as could gleam through that window in the East, darkened[,] obscured, and shaded, as much as conveniently might be, by the cultivated growth of IVY, trained to grow on the church wall, and to spread its dark foliage, as a leafy umbrella, over that sacred window; the Ivy, before the invention of glass, serving to keep off the showers, or to prevent too much light from shining on the mysteries of that dark table, there being nothing that the priests, whether Pagan or Christian, Catholic or Protestant, were ever so much afraid of, as of letting in too much light upon their Sacraments.
But the Ivy, sirs! Why is Ivy trained, to this day, to grow in Christian church-yards and to spread its leaves over the eastern window, immediately over the sacred table, and sacred "Cup of Salvation," standing on that sacred table in, "the order for the administration of the Holy Communion," but because Ivy was the peculiar emblem of the Jolly God, Bacchus, who is always represented as crowned with a garland of Ivy-leaves [compare: "thorns" (where did the sado-masochism come from (we know where it has gone)?)]? And Bacchus and Christ Jesus were never more different from each other, than six and a half-dozen,—or, than different versions of the same substantive allegory–JEsus [sic] being indisputably [?] one of the names of Bacchus.
From a sermon delivered by Robert Taylor on Easter Sunday, 1830, at which Taylor enacted the Easter Communion; printed in the Devil's Pulpit, no. 15, 10 June 1831, pp. 227–8.' .
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from: Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture, Anthropological Perspectives, Victor Turner and Edith Turner, Columbia University Press, 1978.
'....For the majority, pilgrimage was the great liminal [complex, see Index] experience of the religious life. If mysticism is an interior pilgrimage, pilgrimage is exteriorized mysticism.
The point of it all is to get out, go forth, to a far holy place approved by all. In societies with few economic opportunities for movement away from limited circles of friends, neighbors, and local authorities, all rooted alike in the soil, the only journey possible for those not merchants, peddlers, minstrels, jugglers, tumblers, wandering friars, or outlaws, or their modern equivalents, is a holy journey, a pilgrimage or a crusade. On such a journey one gets away from the reiterated "occasions of sin" which make up so much of the human experience of social structure. If one is tied by blood or edict to a given set of people in daily intercourse over the whole gamut of human activities—domestic, economic, jural ["relating to rights or obligations"], ritual, recreational, affinal, neighborly—small grievances over trivial issues tend to accumulate through the years, until they become major disputes over property, office, or prestige which factionalize the group. One piles up a store of nagging guilts, not all of which can be relieved in the parish confessional, especially when the priest himself may be party to some of the conflicts. When such a load can no longer be borne, it is time to take the road as a pilgrim.' .
"The branch of Christianity which has traditionally been most committed to the pilgrimage process—that is, the Roman Catholic Church [walking, talking, raising too many children, suffering, celebrating the Church calendars, etc.; no time to stray]—has also conceived of the struggle for salvation as a lifelong drama played out essentially in the individual soul but involving a huge cast of actors, some visible, some invisible, some natural, some supernatural: God; Mary, Mother of God; the angels; the saints; and the three divisions of the living Church,  the Church Triumphant of the invisible souls in heaven;  the Church Suffering of the invisible souls in purgatory; and  the Church Militant of living mortals beleaguered in the world by flesh and the devil, and by human adversaries...." [15-16].
[Catholics! World experts, at robotizing lives].
"Anthropological Approaches to the
Study of Pilgrimage
Our field research on pilgrimages in Mexico has produced useful comparative material. In Latin America we have the spectacle of a Christianity introduced by missionaries from a Church already under attack, in its European base, by Luther and his Protestant successors [a by-product of the Protestant Reformation, horrors, inflicted on the "New World"?]. Such missionaries often seem to have regarded the New World as a tabula rasa on which to inscribe the pure forms of the faith. Yet their own local traditions, from the provinces of Spain and Portugal, combined with
indigenous Amerindian customs and beliefs to generate a fascinating set of new syncretic variations on metropolitan Catholicism [Catholicism of Cities]. Among the variations were the pilgrimage systems. These exhibited both continuity with the pre-Columbian past (notably in the communitas [complex, see Index] of the assembled pilgrims) and discontinuity (in their theological and cosmological paradigms)...." .
'We were intrigued by the cultus of the Niño [Niño Santo ["Child Jesus"], Tlaxcala, Mexico], and through our research assistant, Jorge Serrano, we asked the lady vending sacred objects near the entrance of the cathedral if she could tell us anything about the devotion. We shall try to preserve the flavor of her reply in this translation: ....
["lady vending sacred objects"] People often ask me, "Have you ever seen him [Niño Santo] walking?" I say, "Never." I have never asked him to walk. But people who are very devout and saintly see him walking. But not me, how could I see him? [Laughter.]
The woman's tone, quick, gay, sometimes excited, in no way solemn or pious, reminded us keenly of the way African villagers speak of and address their ancestral spirits. It was the tone of a culture in which the religious domain is accepted as naturally as any other. Puritanism, in alienating religion from the realm of the magical and miraculous, has also, paradoxically, alienated the everyday realm from the religious. We mention the Niño of Tlaxcala not only to illustrate how the peregrinal theme of concealment [theme of wandering and concealment?] has persisted for centuries but to give the reader something of the smack of Mexican folk religion. People must have talked of the Virgencita (Little Virgin) of Los Remedios, much as the woman in Tlaxcala Cathedral spoke of the Niño, whose devotion began as late as the 1920s.' [71, 73].
'Specific historical factors expedited pilgrimage structuration. When Islam closed off the Holy Places of Palestine to almost all Christian pilgrims, and occupied the North African coast and much of Spain, the Mediterranean, says Jacques Pirenne, ceased to be mare nostrum, our (Roman) sea; and the center of gravity of Christendom shifted to France, Germany, and northern Europe. Charlemagne's western empire, forced from the Mediterranean into continental Europe, became polarized against Islam, which for a time virtually controlled the southern Mediterranean. In the struggle, parallel developments occurred in two great opposed systems. It was roughly in Charlemagne's time that Santiago de Compostela in Galicia began its career as a pilgrimage shrine, and it has been called, both by Christian and by Muslim medieval commentators, "the Christian Mecca." The pilgrimage complex of the Holy Land, made up of sites traditionally connected with the life, teaching, and death of Jesus, was in effect transferred piecemeal to Europe in the form of shrines dedicated to different aspects of Jesus and Mary and often reputed to be of miraculous or apparitional origin. The result was pilgrimage polycentrism, in a multilingual Europe. In other words, many shrines were founded, in many linguistic and cultural regions, as though to compensate for the lost compact
shrine cluster in Palestine, where Jesus' life and death had been mapped on a limited cultural space. This multiplication of shrines in Europe in time became subject to great abuses—competition among shrines for pilgrims and relics [see 1748, 1818, 1831-1837; etc.], the multiplication of relics to the point of absurdity, the growth of an indifferent attitude toward holy doctrines, and so forth.' .
"Pilgrimage has long stood for voluntaristic mobility in a rooted system.
In a destabilized system [examples?], life has become one long pilgrimage, without map or sacred goal [nostalgia? annoying sentence!]." .
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from: Oral Tradition as History, Jan Vansina, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.
"Traditions of Origin and Genesis
EVERY COMMUNITY IN THE WORLD HAS A REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD, THE CREATION OF MANKIND, AND THE APPEARANCE OF THEIR OWN PARTICULAR SOCIETY AND COMMUNITY. SUCH TRADITIONS OF ORIGIN OR GENESIS ARE WHAT ANTHROPOLOGISTS TERM MYTH.47" .
The task of a historian working with written documents starts when he or she finds or takes up such a document and begins to read it. There is no relation at all between the historian on the one hand and the ready-made document that confronts him or her on the other. Hence the classical rules of evidence are straightforward. What is this document both physically and as a message? Is it an original, written by the person who composed it? Is it authentic, truly what it claims to be or is it a forgery? Who wrote it, when, or where? Once the answers to these questions are known an internal analysis of the content can proceed....
But to historians dealing with oral tradition the situation is very different...." .
"The pool of information kept in memory and its relatively free flow means that we cannot assume that the testimony of two different informants from the same community or even society is really independent [compare centuries of Christians, as witnesses for Christians and Christianism ("Christianity")]. This is very important. In history, proof is given only when two independent sources confirm the same event or situation,23 but this proof cannot be given under most conditions from oral sources alone....
No one will consider the three synoptic Gospels as independent sources, even though they have different authors. The resemblances between them are too great, both overall and in detail, to conclude anything else but that they stemmed from one single oral milieu, from one corpus in one community. Once this is realized, it is easy to see that it also applies to John, the fourth Gospel, in those parts that agree with the others [see Addition 31, 1376 (chart)]. This situation is the norm with oral traditions." .
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from: Religion and the Western Mind, Ninian Smart [1927 - 2001], Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara [see 2248], State University of New York Press, c1987.
Religious Studies and
the Western Mind
One of the great achievements of modern scholarship is the invention of the modern study of religion.1 It ought to be an essential element of education. It is illuminating and disturbing, and its coming has often hardly been noticed in the rest of academia. Its messages often do not penetrate the conceptual wall which images of religion put up around the rationalist mind, and it is often clouded by the fog generated by older theological models of the study of religion. But the plural, crosscultural, multi-disciplinary exploration of religion and, more generally, of the worldviews which help to shape human action has some powerful thoughts to suggest to the rest of the social sciences and humanities.
One of the most powerful of these is the thought that our Western attitudes are still often colonialist and tribal...." .
There are those who think that religion is on the way out. It is obsolescent: a bundle or a series of bundles of wishfulfilling absurdities, an amalgam of old cosmologies now superseded by scientific thinking, a mass of symbols without rational basis, illusions departing slowly from the scene as rational education and technological advances make their impact on human lives. There are therefore those who, far from thinking that education in religion is an essential ingredient in education, would like to wish it away. They think of it as pernicious and darkening. It is not the business of education to spread obscurantism, they think.
To such an objection there is a two-fold reply: one to do with power and empathy: the other to do with the definition of our field. As to the first: the power of Islam in Iran, Libya or Indonesia is there, independently of what we (whoever we are) think of the rationality or otherwise of the beliefs held by the leaders and activists of these societies. Buddhism in Sri Lanka has its influence independently of our judgment about it. CHRISTIANITIES [(CHRISTIANISMS) excellent term! (have I seen it before?)] retain a degree of power and vitality: the measurement of these is a major task of the sociologist of religion. So knowing about these matters is positively important in the new global civilization. Moreover, the modern study of religion, in so far as it tries to be phenomenological, tries to present these faiths without either endorsing or rejecting them. Whatever beauties and defects they may have in the eyes of the beholder it is not because of our teaching these religions as if they were true or false.
But in addition, from what viewpoint is religion seen to be on the way out? And what counts as religion? Here it is important to stand back and look at the very category 'religious'. It is open to question from various points of view. First, there is much controversy as to whether there is any ultimately satisfactory definition of the term. There have been some powerful modern critiques of the Western conception of religion—notably in W.C. Smith's The Meaning and End of Religion [see Excursus,
2249-2250]. Not only this, but we cannot fail to reflect that if the modern study of religion (or rather its analogue) had developed in India or China in the first place we might have had the comparative study of dharma or the crosscultural investigation of different Taos. And would that not have included Marxisms as well as Christianities? So we need at least to be sceptical about hard-lined definitions of religion." [8-9].
"....If Harvard wants to have a Divinity School it can have one, and it can treat the teaching of world religions as an element in its operation. But the public system, both higher and lower, has been chary of any religious studies. Thus in the University of California, all campuses have departments or programs of philosophy, but only a minority have Religious Studies, and only one campus, Santa Barbara, has a fully fledged Department
[I visited there 4/27/2001. Photo of Ninian Smart (and others) on the wall. Department theology library—unimpressive. Main Library, including "Special Collections", excellent.]
offering doctoral work. There are other State Universities which have no teaching of Religious Studies. The vast majority of schools have nothing on religion, save some historical scraps falling by the wayside of social studies. This leads to an irony in my life: in Britain I fight for pluralism against the assumption of Christianity; in the United States against the assumption of nothing." .
The Future of Religions
Probably the most fruitful way of trying to predict the future of religion is through what may be called dynamic worldview analysis. Thus it is wise to consider religions as a species of the genus worldviews
Genus Worldviews species hinduism
Genus Worldviews species judaism
Genus Worldviews species buddhism
Genus Worldviews species christianism ("christianity")
Genus Worldviews species islamism
Genus Worldviews species capitalism
Genus Worldviews species communism]
which also includes ideologies. That is, though our own Western society makes a distinction between religions and secular belief-systems, the distinction itself is an ideological or religious one and is unscientific in failing to see how functionally over the wide range of dimensions religions and secular ideologies function similarly...." .
from: The Meaning and End of Religion, Foreword by John Hick, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Harper & Row, Pb. 1978 (c1962, 1963). [See: 2247-2248].
"Wilfred Cantwell Smith was for nine years the Director of Harvard University's famous Center for the Study of World Religions. Dr. Smith is the author of many books, including Islam in Modern History and Religious Diversity. He is currently McCulloch Professor of Religion and Chairman of the Department of Religion at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia." [back cover].
"the 'religions' have names because we have given them names. Once he has become aware of what has happened, man cannot escape choosing between whether or not he will continue to use these particular concepts. To me, for reasons that I have set forth, they seem now clearly inadequate.
Accordingly, my endeavour has been to devise and propound a new conceptual apparatus or theoretical framework, more profitable than those traditionally or currently available; one by means of which the human mind may be able to comprehend more justly the immensely diverse, fluid, and subtle data of the religious life of man in history thus far, and to participate in that life from now on more intelligently.
The proposal that I am putting forward can, at one level, be formulated quite simply. It is that what men have tended to conceive as religion and especially as a religion, can more rewardingly, more truly, be conceived in terms of two factors, different in kind, both dynamic:  an historical 'cumulative tradition', and  the personal faith of men and women.
On the verbal [I [LS] assume the definition: "expressed in words" (spoken, and, written)] plane, I seriously suggest that terms such as Christianity, Buddhism, and the like must be dropped, as clearly untenable once challenged.
THE WORD 'RELIGION' HAS HAD MANY MEANINGS; IT TOO WOULD BE BETTER DROPPED.
This is partly because of its distracting ambiguity, partly because most of its traditional meanings are, on scrutiny, illegitimate. The only effective significance that can reasonably be attributed to the term is that of 'religiousness'1, but for this generic abstraction other words are available—we could rehabilitate perhaps the venerable term 'piety'. In any case, the use of the plural, or with an article, is false2. Certainly much would be gained if everyone who were tempted, from habit, to use the word 'religion' would stop to clarify to himself just what it was to which he wished to refer. Once he had done this, it is doubtful that he would then go on to use it anyway; especially if he hoped to clarify it also to his hearer or reader.
I am bold enough to speculate whether these terms will not in fact have disappeared from serious writing and careful speech within twenty-five years.
Such a disappearance could mean for the devout a truer faith in God and a truer love of their neighbour; and for scholars, a clearer understanding of the religious phenomena that they are studying.
Perceptive readers will have noticed that in the course of this present inquiry the adjective 'religious' has been retained in use even while the noun is rejected. This has to do with a contention that living religiously is an attribute of persons. The attribute arises not because those persons participate in some entity called religion, but because they participate in what I have called transcendence. That adjectives may come closer to describing reality than do nouns, especially in the personal realm, is perhaps an important philosophic orientation3. ...." [194-195].
End of Excursus
Use http://www.google.com, to search for the following (the URLs change):
1 "The Future of Religion, An Interview with Ninian Smart, by Scott London"
2 "Obituary - Professor Ninian Smith"
3 "Ninian Smart - Published Works"
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from: When Brothers Dwell Together, The Preeminence of Younger Siblings in the Hebrew Bible, Frederick E. Greenspahn, Oxford, 1994.
"Although primogeniture is commonly assumed to have prevailed throughout the world and firstborns are regarded as most likely to achieve success, many of the most prominent figures in biblical literature are younger offspring [see 2126 (Bacon)], including Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon. Central to the plot of most biblical stories, the sibling relationships depicted are rarely harmonious, and the surprising preference for younger siblings is an intriguing and unexplained pattern.
Using evidence from a wide range of disciplines, Frederick E. Greenspahn presents a seminal interpretation of this phenomenon. In this study, he demonstrates that ancient Israelite fathers were in fact free to choose their primary heirs. The Bible's propensity for younger offspring, Greenspahn shows, reflects neither a legally mandated norm nor a protest against the prevailing custom, but rather conforms to a widespread folk motif, evoking innocence, vulnerability, and destiny. Within the biblical context, this theme heightens God's role in supporting ostensibly unlikely heroes.
Drawing on the resources of law, anthropology, folklore, and linguistics, Greenspahn shows how, in portraying younger siblings triumphing over older ones, these tales serve as complex parables of God's relationship to his chosen people, and reflect Israel's own discomfort with the contradiction between its theology of election ["chosen people"] and the reality of political weakness." [dust jacket].
"the Bible's barren woman motif parallels that of the younger child." .
'The prominence achieved by younger sons throughout the Bible thus asserts Israelite merit while tacitly conceding the weakness of her case. These stories are fundamentally the self-reassuring triumphalism of a weak and unsuccessful tribe, what Max Weber called "a rational theology of misfortune."86 It is no wonder that the powerlessness of exile has been proposed as the most natural environment for these tales,87 although the evidence is insufficient to prove this hypothesis and other settings could have been equally propitious. This is, in the end, a literature of consolation, designed to reassure those whose oppression contradicted their belief in God's concern.' . [compare: "chosen people"].
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from: lngersoll Attacks the Bible, A.J. Mattill, Jr., The Flatwoods Free Press, Route 2, Box 49, Gordo, Alabama 35466-9516, 1987.
"TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREFACE [included] 5
TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BIBLE 7
THE BIBLE IS CRUEL 8
THE BIBLE PRODUCES CRUELTY 14
THE BIBLE IS CONTRADICTORY 16
THE BIBLE IS UNSCIENTIFIC 19
THE BIBLE IS FILTHY 22
THE BIBLE IS DEGRADING TO WOMEN 23
THE BIBLE OPPOSES LIBERTY 25
THE NEW TESTAMENT IS WORSE THAN THE OLD [included] 27
THE BIBLE MAKES ESCHATOLOGICAL ERRORS 34
THE BIBLE IS UNINSPIRED 36
THE REAL BIBLE 41
Although ROBERT GREEN INGERSOLL (1833-1899) is widely acclaimed as "America's greatest freethinker," little if anything has been written about his views of the Bible. Hence it is high time that his critique of the Bible, scattered throughout his many and various writings, be brought together, organized, and summarized so that we today may have in convenient form his caustic but cogent commentary.
This need is all the ore pressing since we are now in a period of biblical resurgency when the Bible is being proclaimed through the mass media as the Word of God revealed for our salvation. So far as most people are concerned, Ingersoll might just as well have never spoken and written, for his arguments have been almost universally forgotten ignored, or evaded.
Ingersoll himself had expected that his polemic against the Bible would soon triumph. In 1878 he claimed "there are ten times as many freethinkers as there were five years ago. In five years more we will be in the majority" ("Gazette," 450). In 1879, when some of the more liberal clergy in Chicago admitted the truth of many of his charges, he wrote: "Nothing is more gratifying than to see ideas that were received with scorn, flourishing in the sunshine of approval....Surely, the battle of intellectual liberty is almost won, when ministers admit that the Bible is filled with ignorant and cruel mistakes; that each man has the right to think for himself, and that it is not necessary to believe the Scriptures in order to be saved. >From the bottom of my heart I congratulate my pupils [the Chicago clergy] on the advance they have made, and hope soon to meet them on the serene heights of perfect freedom" ("Chicago," 111, 121-122). And in 1882 he boasted that "in a little while" you will not find a minister, "unless it is some old petrifaction of the red-stone period, who will admit that he ever believed in the Trinity, in the Atonement, or in the doctrine of Eternal Agony" ("Thomas," 494-495).
The sad truth is, however, that the same old battles have to be fought and refought in every generation. I hope that this presentation of Ingersoll's attack on the Bible will help to win "the battle of intellectual liberty" in this latter part of the twentieth century to free the preachers, professors, politicians, and others from "prejudices born of ignorance and fear" ("Mistakes," 6-13). And once we are thus emancipated and recognize that the Bible is uninspired and "simply of human origin" ("What Believe?," 41), then we can use the Bible with discrimination for our edification.
My abstract of Ingersoll Attacks the Bible appears in The American Rationalist, 29 (No. 3, September-October 1984), 43.
A.J. Mattill, Jr.' [5-6].
THE NEW TESTAMENT IS WORSE THAN THE OLD
As a result of such considerations, Ingersoll felt that he "knew that the Old Testament was the work of ignorant men--that it was a mingling of truth and mistake, of wisdom and foolishness, of cruelty and kindness, of philosophy and absurdity" ("Agnostic," 34). Therefore "the Old Testament must be thrown aside. It is no longer a foundation. It has crumbled" ("Foundations," 5).
But cannot the New Testament be salvaged? No, for if Ingersoll "gave up the Old Testament on account of its mistakes, its absurdities, its ignorance, and its cruelty," then he "gave up the New because it vouched for the truth of the Old." He "gave it up on account of its miracles, its contradictions, because Christ and his disciples believed in the existence of devils--talked and made bargains with them, expelled them from people and animals. These stories about devils demonstrate the human, the ignorant origin of the New Testament." He "gave up the New Testament because it rewards credulity, and curses brave and honest men, and because it teaches the infinite horror of eternal pain" ("Agnostic," 36).
It is on the issue of hell that Ingersoll silences once and for all those who, like him, would reject the Old Testament, but unlike him, cling to the New as a higher revelation. Then, as now, it was "the fashion" in some circles "to say that the Old Testament is bad and that the New Testament is good" ("Thomas," 497).
Ingersoll sums up his position like this: "And so I might go on, page after page, book after book, in the Old Testament, and describe the cruelties committed in accordance with the commands of Jehovah. But all of the cruelties in the Old Testament are absolute mercies compared with the hell of the New Testament. In the Old Testament God stops with the grave. He seems to have been satisfied when he saw his enemies dead, when he saw their flesh rotting in the open air, or in the beaks of birds, or in the teeth of wild beasts. But in the New Testament vengeance does not stop with the grave. It begins there, and stops never. The enemies of Jehovah are to be pursued through all the ages of eternity. There is to be no forgiveness--no cessation, no mercy, nothing but everlasting pain" ("What Believe?," 70; "Reasons," 310; "Christmas," 267-268).
"So that, as a matter of fact, the New Testament is infinitely more cruel than the Old" ("What Believe?," 53; "Agnostic," 20). "The Old Testament is a thousand times better than the New" ("Thomas," 497). "The New Testament is just as much worse than the Old Testament, as hell is worse than sleep; just as much worse, as infinite cruelty is worse than dreamless rest" ("Orthodoxy," 377; "Thomas," 497).
"Nearly all of the children of men, imprisoned in the dungeon of God, will suffer eternal pain. This is the savagery of Christianity. This is why I hate its unthinkable God, its impossible Christ, its inspired lies, and its selfish, heartless heaven." The one word, "hell," "makes the Christian's God an eternal torturer, an everlasting inquisitor--an infinite wild beast" ("Jesus," 3).
"Think of what the world has suffered from fear....Think of the fear of death, of infinite wrath, of everlasting revenge in the prisons of fire, of an eternity of thirst, of endless regret, of the sobs and sighs, the shrieks and groans of eternal pain! Think of the hearts hardened, of the hearts broken, of the cruelties inflicted, of the agonies endured, of the lives darkened. The inspired Bible has been and is the greatest curse of Christendom, and will so remain as long as it is held to be inspired" [(]"Superstition," 335).
This "frightful doctrine of eternal damnation" is "so abhorrent to every drop of my blood, so infinitely cruel, that it is impossible for me to respect either the head or heart of any human being who teaches or fears it. This doctrine necessarily subverts all ideas of justice. To inflict infinite punishment for finite crimes, or rather for crimes committed by finite beings, is a proposition so monstrous that I am astonished that it ever found lodging in the brain of man" ("Reviewers," 94-95).
Then Ingersoll zeroes in on "the most infamous passage in the Bible," the words spoken by the Risen Christ, according to Mark 16:15-16: "Nothing has so tended to harden the human heart as the doctrine of eternal punishment, and that passage: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned,' has shed more blood than all the other so-called 'sacred books' of all this world" ("Saved?," 479-480; "What Believe?," 53-54). "That one passage has probably caused more agony among men, women and children than all the passages of all other books that were ever printed" ("Interview," 470).
"This frightful declaration" of Mark 16:16 "has filled the world with agony and crime. Every letter of this passage has been sword and fagot; every word has been
dungeon and chain. That passage made the sword of persecution drip with innocent blood through centuries of agony and crime. That passage made the horizon of a thousand years lurid with the fagot's flames. That passage contradicts the Sermon on the Mount; travesties the Lord's prayer; turns the splendid religion of deed and duty into the superstition of creed and cruelty. I deny it. It is infamous! Christ never said it!" ("Saved?," 479-480; "Reviewers," 89).
Ingersoll explains how these few words have had such disastrous results: "Is there anything in Christianity that will account for such persecutions--for the Inquisition? It certainly was taught by the church that belief was necessary to salvation, and it was thought at the same time that the fate of man was eternal punishment; that the state of man was that of depravity, and that there was but one way by which he could be saved, and that was through belief--through faith. As long as this was honestly believed, Christians would not allow heretics or infidels to preach a doctrine to their wives, to their children, or to themselves which, in their judgment, would result in the damnation of souls.
"The law gives a father the right to kill one who is about to do great bodily harm to his son. Now, if a father has the right to take the life of a man simply because he is attacking the body of his son, how much more would he have the right to take the life of one who was about to assassinate the soul of his son?
"Christians reasoned in this way. In addition to this, they felt that God would hold the community responsible if the community allowed a blasphemer to attack the true religion. Therefore they killed the freethinker, or rather the free talker, in self-defense.
"At the bottom of religious persecution is the doctrine of self-defense; that is to say, the defense of the soul. If the founder of Christianity had plainly said: 'It is not necessary to believe in order to be saved; it is only necessary to do, and he who really loves his fellow-men, who is kind, honest, just and charitable, is to be forever blest'--if he had only said that, there would probably have been but little persecution.
"If he had added to this: 'You must not persecute in my name. The religion I teach is the religion of love--not the religion of force and hatred. You must not imprison your fellow-men. You must not stretch them upon racks, or crush their bones in iron boots. You must not flay them alive. You must not cut off their eyelids, or pour molten lead into their eyes. You must treat all with absolute kindness. If you cannot convert your neighbor by example, persuasion, argument, that is the end. You must never resort to force, and, whether he believes as you do or not, treat him always with kindness'--his followers then would not have murdered their fellows in his name.
"If Christ was in fact God, he knew the persecution that would be carried out in his name; he knew the millions that would suffer death through torture; and yet he died without saying one word to prevent what he must have known, if he were God, would happen" ("Christmas," 305-307); "Gazette," 469-471).
And when it comes to slavery, the New Testament "is more decidedly in favor of human slavery than the Old" ("Mistakes," 86). The Epistles "make a slave satisfied to hear the clanking of his chains" (Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; 1 Timothy 6:1-8; 1 Peter 2:18-19). "It must please the Most High to see a slave with his wife and child sold upon the auction block" ("Reviewers," 43-47).
As for the book of Revelation, "nothing that ever emanated from a madhouse can more than equal it for incoherence" ("What Believe?," 79).
And to those who would give up the Old and New Testaments as a whole but cling to the Jesus of the Gospels, Ingersoll says: "We know, if we know anything, that devils do not exist--that Christ never cast them out, and that if he pretended to, he was either ignorant, dishonest or insane" ("Agnostic," 36; "Superstition," 313).
Moreover, "Christ offered a reward to anyone who would desert his father or his mother. He offered a premium to gentlemen for leaving their wives, and tried to bribe people to abandon their little children. He offered them happiness in this world, and a hundred fold in the next, if they would turn a deaf ear to the supplication of a father, and beseeching cry of a wife, and would leave the outstretched arms of babes. They were not even allowed to bury their fathers and their mothers. At that time they were expected to prefer Jesus to their wives and children....I think a thousand times more of my parents than I do of Christ" ("What Believe?," 43-44) (see Matthew 19:29; 8:21-22; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; 9:59-60). "Is a home to be ruined here for the sake of a mansion there?" ("Truth," 20).
Jesus also said: "These mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27). "This passage built dungeons and lighted fagots" ("Foundations," 15).
And if he came not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34), "the only prophecy in the New Testament that has been literally fulfilled" ("Reasons," 275), "how much better it would have been had he remained away....He did bring a sword, and the sword was wet for a thousand years with innocent blood. In millions of hearts he sowed the seeds of hatred and revenge. He divided nations and families, put out the light of reason, and petrified the hearts of man" ("Truth," 19).
And what can exceed in cruelty the announcement attributed to Jesus "that a certain sin" against the Holy Ghost "was unpardonable and then fail to define the sin" (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10)? "Thousands of persons are now in asylums, having lost their reason because of their fear that they had committed this unknown, this undefined, this unpardonable sin" ("Renan," 289-290).
And to those who would abandon the Jesus of the Gospels in general but cleave to the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7; Luke 6:20-48), Ingersoll remarks: "When struck on one cheek to turn the other, is really joining a conspiracy to secure the triumph of brutality. To agree not to resist evil is to become an accomplice of all injustice. We must not take from industry, from patriotism, from virtue, the right of self-defence" ("Renan," 297). "Is there any absurdity beyond" that of resisting not evil? To love your enemies is impossible, and without the forethought of planning and working for the future, the world would go back to the caves of savagery. As for cutting off your members, "is it possible to extract from these extravagant sayings the smallest grain of common sense?" And when it comes to giving your plaintiff your cloak, "only the insane could give or follow this advice" ("Truth," 19).
Ingersoll puts it bluntly: "If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane" ("What Believe?," 39).
Not only did Jesus err in what he did teach. Think of all he failed to teach. "Did Christ or any of his apostles add to the sum of useful knowledge? Did they say one word in favor of any science, of any art? Did they teach their fellow-men to make a living, how to overcome the obstructions of nature, how to prevent sickness--how to protect themselves from pain, from famine, from misery and rags? Did they explain
any of the phenomena of nature? any of the facts that affect the life of man? Did they say anything in favor of investigation--of study--of thought? Did they teach the gospel of self-reliance, of industry--of honest effort? Can any farmer, mechanic, or scientist find in the New Testament one useful fact? Is there anything in the sacred book that can help the geologist, the astronomer, the biologist, the physician, the inventor--the manufacturer of any useful thing?" ("Thanksgiving," 163; "Indianapolis," 132).
"If Christ had given us the laws of health; if he had told us how to cure disease by natural means; if he had set the captive free; if he had crowned the people with their rightful power; if he had placed the home above the church; if he had broken all the mental chains; if he had flooded all the caves and dens of fear with light, and filled the future with a common joy, he would have been the Savior of this world"
("Indianapolis," 133).' ["27"-34] [End of Chapter IX].
Excursus from: Indian Blankets and Their Makers, by George Wharton James [1858 - 1923], With Numerous Illustrations and Plates, Dover, 1974 (1920) (1914).
'Father Berard naturally views the ritualistic and ceremonial life, the myths, legends, and religion of the Navaho from the standpoint of a faithful and devoted son of the Catholic Church; hence, while he chronicles conscientiously what he has learned, he speaks of it all as superstition and heathen ignorance. He says:
[Father Berard] The elaborate system of religious worship among the Navahos lets them appear as a very religious people. Their anthropomorphic deities are numerous and strikingly democratic, each excelling in his peculiar sphere of independent activity or power. They are described as kind, hospitable, and industrious; on the other hand, as fraudulent, treacherous, unmerciful, and, in general, subject to passions and human weaknesses. Their lives, to a great extent, are reflected in the social condition of the Navaho; as, for instance, in the subordination to local headmen, in the manner of farming, hunting, ceremony, etc., all of which find an explanation in previous occurrences in the lives of the Holy Ones. This is especially true of the ceremonies or chants, most of which were established by the diyi-ni, or Holy Ones, for removing evil.
In these comments Father Berard simply states of the Navaho what scholars of all ages have said of the Greeks and their pantheon of gods. Wherein is the difference? ROBERT G. INGERSOLL USED TO DECLARE THAT "AN HONEST GOD IS THE NOBLEST WORK OF MAN," and therein he stated the experience of the ages....
the Navaho is not to be condemned for the limited scope of his spiritual vision, any more than are we, the so-called superior, civilized, and Christian people.' [186-187].
End of Excursus
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from: The Apocryphal Jesus, Legends of the Early Church, J.K. Elliott, Oxford, 1996. [note: Christian tendez].
Christians from the second-third centuries onwards seem to have been avid readers. Not only did they study the twenty-seven [fictional] writings that later were to be collected together to form the New Testament, but they also heard and read other stories and sayings about Jesus and the founders of the church which were not in the New Testament. MANY OF THE EARLY STORIES ABOUT JESUS, HIS PARENTS, AND HIS DISCIPLES WERE SUPPLEMENTED AND EXPANDED AS THE CHURCH DEVELOPED. SECULAR ROMANCES, THE NOVELS OF THEIR DAY, PROVIDED PRECEDENTS ON WHICH THE BURGEONING CHRISTIAN LITERARY TRADITION DREW. The curiosity of pious Christians about the origins of their faith was increasingly satisfied [?] by a growing number of Gospels, Acts, and other types of literature...." ["1"].
The fascinating, bizarre, and imaginative stories about Jesus, his family, and his followers which make up the literature known as the New Testament apocrypha [and, New Testament!], and which we have been sampling in the preceding chapters, give an unrivalled insight into the teachings, practices, and, above all, the entertainment of many Christians from the second century through to the Middle Ages. This type of literature was produced and distributed throughout Christendom, East and West, over several centuries. It has a significant place in the history of Christianity. Despite its extravagances and occasional variations from what emerged as orthodox teaching, THIS APOCRYPHAL LITERATURE FUELLED AND ITSELF REFLECTED THEOLOGICAL THINKING." ["209"].
"In seeking historical value, objective verification, and factuality we are mistaking the nature of the apocryphal literature. Although twentieth-century scholarship quite properly continues to ask similar questions about the historical validity of the New Testament itself, where the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in particular are recognized as a complex mixture of historic reminiscence combined with legend, even there such questioning can distort, misinterpret, or cause misunderstanding about the intentions of the writings. RELIGIOUS LITERATURE, BIBLICAL AND APOCRYPHAL, IS CONCERNED WITH BELIEF AND FAITH and with poetic and theological truths [describe: "poetic and theological truths"]. These ["poetic and theological truths"] need not be rooted only in the verifiable facts demanded of historical research...." .
"Even a cursory comparison of the apocryphal texts with the New Testament material shows that there is a great difference between these two corpora [plural of corpus (body)] of literature. The first-century Gospels [second century and/or later], the Acts of the Apostles, letters, and the Book of Revelation are conspicuously of a different 'type'—less extravagant, terse, more 'spiritual', complex, profound—from the apocrypha, with its verbosity, sensationalism, and occasional deviation from standard teachings. When the church at large, under all kinds of historical and theological pressures, had to pronounce on its corpus of authoritative literature to parallel the Hebrew scriptures, it selected twenty-seven of the earliest [fiction] Christian writings that had gained the respect and reflected the common usage of all [?] of Christendom. >From our vantage point, it seems obvious that the ecclesiastical authorities in the second, third, and fourth centuries, who debated and eventually selected these twenty-seven books in order to form an exclusive body of approved Christian scriptures, made the correct judgement. In any case, one cannot rewrite history [how would the newer fiction read?]: the canon was a corpus that was eventually promulgated and ENFORCED as an established entity.
Throughout the history of the church these scriptures ["apocryphal texts"] were irreplaceable, irreducible, and sufficient for the basic needs of Christian theology. My judgement is that the rejected texts were legitimately branded as 'apocryphal', in its sense of 'secondary', 'of dubious quality', and 'inferior' in all sorts of ways [therefore: these fictions were not "Best Sellers"]. Nevertheless, as I hope this book has demonstrated, the so-called apocryphal legends are no mere side-show in development of the church, but indispensable guides, giving an insight into post-Biblical Christianity. THEIR ["APOCRYPHAL TEXTS"] INFLUENCE WAS ENORMOUS. The apocryphal New Testament deserves recognition and merits study."
[210-211] [End of text].
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from: Creation of the Sacred, Tracks of Biology in Early Religions, Walter Burkert, Harvard University Press, 1996. [I thank Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), for this author].
"another school of thought imputes to religion the very opposite of survival fitness; we may call it the opium thesis.50 Religious ideas and practices are accused of fulfilling human wishes in a fantastic, unrealistic, and possibly detrimental way, just as drugs do when they provide the illusion of happiness while misusing and overriding the normal cerebral functions.51 Not that this would make religion exempt from biology: even the spread of malfunctions is a biological fact. But is illusion dysfunctional? The discovery of endorphins, natural pain relievers in the brain, rather points to the positive biological function of illusive happiness to overcome dramatic crises of stress and pain. A case could be made even for the sociobiological advantage of religious illusions." .
"It is notable that many religions urgently advocate procreation within the group. Isolation and procreation became the Jewish strategies for surviving the historical catastrophe of the Babylonian exile; in reinforcement, Mosaic law forbade the use of established forms of birth control such as homosexuality, prostitution, abortion, and exposure of children. In effect, a Jewish population explosion occurred in Hellenistic times. A similar sexual morality caused Christian groups to grow beyond proportion within the Roman empire. Until the present day Catholicism and Islam both passionately oppose birth control. Is it a biological instinct, the thrust of selfish genes, that works behind the laws of Moses or Allah?" .
"The success of particular forms of religion appears to be due to organization, propaganda, power, or fashion, with many different motives determining individual choices or attitudes, rather than to physical procreation [this clause?]." .
'There is no denying that anxiety is often evoked to validate religious messages, and that it has its repercussions upon the substance of religion. To transmit religion is to transmit fear. "Fear, first of all, produced gods in the world," primus in orbe deos fecit timor, Statius [Publius Papinius Statius c. 45 - 96 C.E.] wrote. While this is a criticism from his standpoint, which is that of ancient philosophical enlightenment,116 it shares the self-interpretation of many religions. The main word to characterize gods and religion in Akkadian is pubutu, fear. An Assyrian king, in all his arrogance, will proclaim himself the one "who strongly knows the fear of the gods and goddesses of heaven and earth."117 For "the fear of gods creates kindness,"118 or, as Solomon put it in one of his most quoted sayings, using the Hebrew variant of the same Semitic word: "The fear of god is the beginning of wisdom."119 The equivalent Greek expression, theoudes, god-fearing, occurs as a mark of moral distinction in Homer. "The divine is fear for prudent mortals."120 Another Greek word commonly associated with religious rites is phrike, hair-raising shudder. Moderns came back to the suggestion that awe was the basic religious feeling;121 Rudolf Otto substituted a neo-Latin term, mysterium tremendum, shivering mystery.122 Shudders of awe are central for the experience of the sacred. The very means of indelible transmission, threat and terror, are correlated with the contents of the religious part of the mental world: the prerogative of the sacred requires the fear of god.' [30-31].
'Seneca, in his Naturales Quaestiones, writes [see 1600, 1609]:
I do not hold myself back from revealing all the absurdities of our people. They say certain persons are experienced in observing clouds and capable of foretelling where there will be hail....It's really impossible. At Kleonai [Greece] there were official "hail-watchers" (chalazophylakes), watching for hail to come. If they said that hail was coming, what do you think the people did? Each person would sacrifice individually: one a lamb, the other a chicken; at once those clouds moved away to some other place, when they had savored some blood. You laugh? Listen to what will make you laugh even more. If a man had neither lamb nor chicken, he sacrificed what he could afford: he laid hands on himself—but don't think clouds are gluttonous or cruel. He punched his finger with a very sharp pointed pen, and with this blood he performed his auspicious sacrifice; and the hail turned away from his piece of land as well as from places where they had been implored with greater sacrifices.2
Seneca adds that the hail-guardians were sued and punished if they failed to avert disaster from vineyards and cornfields.
The rationalist laughs at this response to panic because it shows no obvious link between means and ends, especially in the face of natural forces. The reaction of panic is to give up valuables, to kill one's own animals, to inflict wounds on oneself. Seneca does not hesitate to speak of sacred actions, sacrifice (sacrificare). At Kleonai this was a well-established, institutionalized religious ritual.' ["34-35"].
'FOR MARTIN NILSSON, RELIGION [AND WAR? (see 2314)] WAS "MAN'S PROTEST AGAINST THE MEANINGLESSNESS OF EVENTS."103' .
[Much, of behaviors (including religion, war, sex, procreation, smoking, drugs (mostly legal), sports, movies, television, newspapers, magazines, computers, etc.), are defense mechanisms; and the defense mechanisms are: diversion [Sp.: diversión] while we are here (and/or "protest against the meaninglessness of events")].
'The religious attitude so openly expressed over and over again has been characterized...as the principle of do ut des: "I give in order that you shall give."44 The most unabashed formulation comes from Vedic India: "Give to me, I give to you."45 But also in Tanzania, at the libation of the first beer after harvest, this formula is spoken: "Accept this drink—give us bliss...grant life, life, life!"46' [136-137].
Comment (11/21/2001): "grant life, life, life!", reminds me: I (Lino Sanchez) am inclined to state my deathbed utterance now, while my physical and mental and emotional conditions are similar to former years.
[9/20/2003] I cannot. I am not on my deathbed. oh hell! Probably won't have time for one. If time, should shut up. If time and strength, some cuss words. oh hell!
One's life is one's deathbed utterance.
'Criticism of religious gift exchange has been more effective at other levels. For one thing, religion is expensive. The speech "Against Nicomachus," in the corpus of Lysias, claims that Nicomachus, charged with the job of collecting and inscribing the sacred laws of Athens, had worked out such a long list of sacrifices that the city would go bankrupt if it kept to the code.79 "Look at the gods," the cynical and cunning citizen says in Aristophanes [c. 450 - c. 388 B.C.E.] while refusing to give his private property to the community in compliance with the communist law just passed by the Women's Assembly, "look at the hands of the statues: if we pray to them to give us good things, the god stands there, stretching out his hollow hand, not as if to give, but in order to get something."80 "It is not allowed to know the gods for nothing: they are for sale," non licet deos gratis nosse: venales sunt, Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220] scornfully comments on the pagan gods.81 It is true that Christianity developed as a "cheap" religion; but remember Jahweh, who dislikes the "empty hands" of worshipers. One line of Aeschylus [525 - 456 B.C.E.] became famous in this regard: "Alone among gods, Death [God of death] is not desirous of gifts [neither a God, or his/her sycophants, will bother to "whip a dead horse", but: "Death" receives gifts: few gifts to many, simple gifts to extravagant]."82 Normal gods, by contrast, are greedy, exacting gifts at every occasion.' [142-143].
'Ending the gift-giving also eliminates another disturbing conclusion to be drawn from this commerce, whereby the recipient becomes dependent upon the donor, the god becomes dependent on men's gifts. The Hittite hymn to Ishtanu the Sun God says: "Be gracious to this man, your servant, then he will go on sacrificing to you bread and beer." "Where will you get a sacrificer like this man to honor you?" is the question put to Zeus in Aeschylus.94 A Christian prayer goes: "Lord give us grace; for if thou givest us not grace, we will not give thee glory—and who will win by that, Lord?"95 Aristophanes, in his Birds, has the gods starving after the birds' empire has blocked the sky and the traffic of sacrifices has come to a stop. The same idea occurs in even more drastic terms in the Orient. Because of the deluge, the gods have long missed the sacrifices, hence at the first offering they hasten to assemble "like flies."96 "If you annihilate mankind, they will no longer give their supplies to the gods, nobody will offer bread or libation," a Hittite mythical text explains.97 "You can make your god run after you like a dog," claims a text from Mesopotamian wisdom literature.98
Despite the attempts of philosophers to strive for a more sublime theology, based on gods who are self-sufficient and not dependent on anything human, giving has not been ousted from the practice of religion, on the contrary. Practically everywhere it is understood that communication with the divine should be through exchange, through mutual giving, which is reflected in the circulation of gifts within the community or hierarchy of believers. One might indeed be tempted to say that EVERY FORM OF RELIGION IS, AMONG OTHER THINGS, AN ORGANIZATION TO ELICIT GIFTS. some of the so-called new religions or sects provide the most striking examples.' [144-145].
"HUMANS ARE FRAIL, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY" .
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from: Polluted Texts and Traditional Beliefs, by A.J. Mattill, Jr., The Flatwoods Free Press, Route 2, Box 49, Gordo, Alabama 35466-9517, 1998.
'Preface: Textual Evolution
"Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution?" Orson Pratt, an early Mormon apostle, raised this disturbing question, disturbing to all who regard the Bible as the Word of God. In this study we shall examine hundreds of textual variations to support Pratt's suspicion that not a single verse is pure and unpolluted.' .
'No longer can an informed preacher stand behind the pupil and declare the Word of God as if it had just been handed to him out of heaven.
A cartoon depicts the admirable honesty and humility of a Christian minister addressing his congregation. "In compliance with federal full-disclosure laws, I'm required to tell you that I'm really not sure about any of this stuff!" After we have examined over nine hundred entries under twenty-four headings, we too shall be compelled to say, "I'm really not sure about any of this stuff!"' .
ALAND KURT and others, editors. The Greek New Testament. New York, NY: American Bible Society, 1966. CARTER, MICKEY P. Things That Are Different Are Not The Same: "The truth about the battle for the preserved King James Bible." Haines City, FL: Landmark Baptist Press, 1993. CLARK, KENNETH W. "The Theological Relevance of Textual Variation in Current Criticism of the Greek New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, 85 (Part I, March 1966), 1-16. CLARK, GORDON H. Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism. Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1990. KITTEL, RUDOLF, editor. Biblica Hebraica. Stuttgart, Germany: Wuerttembergische Bibelanstalt, 1951. MATTILL, A.J., JR. Luke and the Last Things. Dillsboro, NC: Western North Carolina Press, 1979. MATTILL, A.J., JR. The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs. Gordo, AL: The Flatwoods Free Press, 1995, pp. 97-111. METZGER, BRUCE M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. New York: NY: Oxford Universe Press, 1964. METZGER, BRUCE M. and others. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1971.
NESTLE, EBERHARD. Novum Testamentum Graece. Stuttgart, Germany: Wuerttembergische Bibelanstalt, 1964. NO EDITOR GIVEN. The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament and Apocrypha with an English Translation and with Various Readings and Critical Notes. No place given. Zondervan Publishing House, 1976. TOV, EMANUEL. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992. In addition to the works here listed, one may consult biblical commentaries, biblical dictionaries, and encyclopedias for articles on texts, textual criticism, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, versions, and individual books and verses of the Bible.' [67-68].
'My study of hundreds of textual variants [(amusing!) commonly, Fictional] has cast a cloud of suspicion over traditional beliefs about God, Jesus, salvation, mortality, and the accuracy of the Bible.
I MUST TELL YOU THAT NOW I'M ABSOLUTELY SURE OF ONE THING:
"I'M REALLY NOT SURE ABOUT ANY OF THIS STUFF!"'  [End of booklet].
[See: Addition 34, 1496-1644; Addition 36, 1735-1991].
● ● ● ● ●
from: The Jesus Mysteries, Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God?, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Harmony Books, c1999.
● there were absolutely no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus?
● for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God?
● this Pagan saviour was also born of a virgin on the 25th of December before three shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding, died and was resurrected at Easter, and offered his body and blood as a Holy Communion?
● these Pagan myths had been rewritten as the gospel of Jesus Christ?
● the earliest Gnostic Christians knew that the Jesus story was a myth?
● Christianity turned out to be a continuation of Paganism by another name?" [dust jacket].
"This astonishing book completely undermines the traditional history of Christianity that has been perpetuated for centuries by the Church. Drawing on the cutting edge of modern scholarship, authors Tim Freke and Peter Gandy present overwhelming evidence that the Jesus of the New Testament is a mythical figure.
Far from being eyewitness accounts, as is traditionally held, the Gospels are actually Jewish adaptations of ancient Pagan myths of the dying and resurrecting godman Osiris-Dionysus. The supernatural story of Jesus is not the history of a miraculous Messiah, but a carefully crafted spiritual allegory designed to guide initiates on a journey of mystical discovery.
A little more than a century ago most people believed that the strange story of Adam and Eve was history; today it is understood to be a myth. Within a few decades, Freke and Gandy argue, we will likewise be amazed that the fabulous story of God incarnate [Jesus]—who was born of a virgin, who turned water into wine, and who rose from the dead—could have been interpreted as anything but a profound parable." [dust jacket].
"WE HAVE BECOME CONVINCED THAT THE STORY OF JESUS IS NOT THE BIOGRAPHY OF A HISTORICAL MESSIAH, BUT A MYTH BASED ON PERENNIAL PAGAN STORIES. Christianity was not a new and unique revelation but actually a Jewish adaptation of the ancient Pagan Mystery religion. This is what we have called The Jesus Mysteries Thesis. It may sound far-fetched at first, just as it did initially to us. There is, after all, a great deal of unsubstantiated nonsense written about the "real" Jesus, so any revolutionary theory should be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism. But although this book makes extraordinary claims, it is not just entertaining fantasy or
sensational speculation. It is firmly based upon the available historical sources and the latest scholarly research. While we hope to have made it accessible to the general reader, we have also included copious notes giving sources, references, and greater detail for those who wish to analyze our arguments more thoroughly." .
"FOR 2,000 [LESS THAN 1600] YEARS THE WEST HAS BEEN DOMINATED BY THE IDEA THAT CHRISTIANITY IS SACRED AND UNIQUE WHILE PAGANISM IS PRIMITIVE AND THE WORK OF THE DEVIL. To even consider that they could be parts of the same tradition has been simply unthinkable. Therefore, although the true origins of Christianity have been obvious all along, few have been able to see them, because to do so requires a radical break with the conditioning of our culture. Our contribution has been to dare to think the unthinkable and to present our conclusions in a popular book rather than some dry academic tome. This is certainly not the last word on this complex subject, but we hope it may be a significant call for a complete reappraisal of the origins of Christianity." [2-3].
'The more we studied the various versions of the myth of Osiris-Dionysus, the more it became obvious that the story of Jesus had all the characteristics of this perennial tale. Event by event, we found we were able to construct Jesus' supposed biography from mythic motifs previously relating to Osiris-Dionysus:
> Osiris-Dionysus is God made flesh, the savior and "Son of God."
> His father is God and his mother is a mortal virgin.
> He is born in a cave or humble cowshed on December 25 before three shepherds.
> He offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism.
> He miraculously turns water into wine at a marriage ceremony.
> He rides triumphantly into town on a donkey while people wave palm leaves to honor him.
> He dies at Eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
> After his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven in glory.
> His followers await his return as the judge during the Last Days.
> His death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolize his body and blood.
These are just some of the motifs shared between the tales of Osiris-Dionysus and the biography of Jesus. Why are these remarkable similarities not common knowledge! Because as we were to discover later, the early Roman Church did everything in its power to prevent us perceiving them. It systematically destroyed Pagan sacred literature in a brutal program of eradicating the Mysteries—a task it performed so completely that today Paganism is regarded as a "dead" religion.' .
"....we began to question the received picture in the early Church and have a look at the evidence for ourselves. We discovered that far from being the united congregation of saints and martyrs that traditional history would have us believe, the
early Christian community was actually made up of a whole spectrum of different groups. These can be broadly categorized into two different schools. On the one hand there were those we will call Literalists, because what defines them is that they take the Jesus story as a literal account of historical events. It was this school of Christianity that was adopted by the Roman Empire in the fourth century CE, becoming Roman Catholicism and all its subsequent offshoots. On the other hand, however, there were also radically different Christians known as Gnostics.5
These forgotten Christians were later persecuted out of existence by the Literalist Roman Church with such thoroughness that until recently we knew little about them except through the writings of their detractors. Only a handful of original Gnostic texts survived, none of which were published before the nineteenth century. This situation changed dramatically, however, with a remarkable discovery in 1945 when an Arab peasant stumbled upon a whole library of Gnostic gospels hidden in a cave near Nag Hammadi in Egypt. This gave scholars access to many texts which were in wide circulation among early Christians, but which were deliberately excluded from the canon of the New Testament—gospels attributed to Thomas and Philip, texts recording the acts of Peter and the 12 disciples, apocalypses attributed to Paul and James, and so on.
It seemed to us extraordinary that a whole library of early Christian documents could be discovered, containing what purport to be the teachings of Christ and his disciples, and yet so few modern followers of Jesus should even know of their existence. Why hasn't every Christian rushed out to read these newly discovered words of the Master? What keeps them confined to the small number of gospels selected for inclusion in the New Testament? It seems that even though 2,000 years have passed since the Gnostics were purged, during which time the Roman Church has split into Protestantism and thousands of other alternative groups, the Gnostics are still not regarded as a legitimate voice of Christianity." [6-7].
'To Literalists, the Gnostics were dangerous heretics. In volumes of anti-Gnostic works—an unintentional testimony to the power and influence of Gnosticism within early Christianity—they painted them as Christians who had "gone native." They claimed they had become contaminated by the Paganism that surrounded them and had abandoned the purity of the true faith. The Gnostics, on the other hand, saw themselves as the authentic Christian tradition and the orthodox bishops as an "imitation church."6 They claimed to know the secret Inner Mysteries of Christianity, which the Literalists did not possess.
As we explored the beliefs and practices of the Gnostics we became convinced that the Literalists had at least been right about one thing: the Gnostics were little different from Pagans. Like the philosophers of the Pagan Mysteries, they believed in reincarnation, honored the goddess Sophia, and were immersed in the mystical Greek philosophy of Plato. Gnostics means "Knowers," a name they acquired because, like the initiates of the Pagan Mysteries, they believed that their secret teachings had the power to impart Gnosis—direct experiential "Knowledge of God." Just as the goal of a Pagan initiate was to become a god, so for the Gnostics the goal of the Christian initiate was to become a Christ.
What particularly struck us was that the Gnostics were not concerned with the historical Jesus. They viewed the Jesus story in the same way that the Pagan philosophers viewed the myths of Osiris-Dionysus—as an allegory that encoded secret
mystical teachings. This insight crystallized for us a remarkable possibility. Perhaps the explanation for the similarities between Pagan myths and the biography of Jesus had been staring us in the face the whole time, but we had been so caught up with traditional ways of thinking that we had been unable to see it.' .
"The Jesus story does have all the hallmarks of a myth, so could it be that that is exactly what it is? After all, no one has read the newly discovered Gnostic gospels and taken their fantastic stories as literally true; they are readily seen as myths. It is only familiarity and cultural prejudice that prevent us from seeing the New Testament gospels in the same light. If those gospels had also been lost to us and only recently discovered, who would read these tales for the first time and believe they were historical accounts of a man born of a virgin, who had walked on water and returned from the dead? Why should we consider the stories of Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, Mithras, and the other Pagan Mystery saviors as fables, yet come across essentially the same story told in a Jewish context and believe it to be the biography of a carpenter from Bethlehem?
We had both been raised as Christians and were surprised to find that, despite years of open-minded spiritual exploration, it still felt somehow dangerous to even dare think such thoughts. Early indoctrination reaches very deep. We were in effect saying that Jesus was a Pagan god and that Christianity was a heretical product of Paganism! ...." .
'Eusebius [c. 260 - c. 340]...at the beginning of the fourth century, compiled from legends, fabrications, and his own imagination the only early history of Christianity that still exists today. All subsequent histories have been forced to base themselves on Eusebius' dubious claims, because there has been little other information to draw on. All those with a different perspective on Christianity were branded as heretics and eradicated. In this way falsehoods compiled in the fourth century have come down to us as established facts.
Eusebius was employed by the Roman Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the [not "the", but, a] state religion of the Empire and gave Literalist Christianity the power it needed to begin the final eradication of Paganism and Gnosticism. Constantine wanted "one God, one religion" to consolidate his claim of "one Empire, one Emperor." He oversaw the creation of the Nicene creed—the article of faith repeated in churches to this day—and Christians who refused to assent to this creed were banished from the Empire or otherwise silenced.
This "Christian" Emperor then returned home from Nicaea and had his wife suffocated and his son murdered. He deliberately remained unbaptized until his deathbed so that he could continue his atrocities and still receive forgiveness of sins and a guaranteed place in heaven by being baptized at the last moment. Although he had his "spin doctor" Eusebius compose a suitably obsequious biography for him, he was actually a monster—just like many Roman Emperors before him. Is it really at all surprising that a "history" of the origins of Christianity created by an employee in the service of a Roman tyrant should turn out to be a pack of lies?
Elaine Pagels, one of the foremost academic authorities on early Christianity, writes:
It is the winners who write history—their way. No wonder, then, that the
traditional accounts of the origins of Christianity first defined the terms (naming themselves "orthodox" and their opponents "heretics"); then they proceeded to demonstrate—at least to their own satisfaction—that their triumph was historically inevitable, or, in religious terms, "guided by the Holy Spirit." But the discoveries [of the Gnostic gospels] at Nag Hammadi reopen fundamental questions.7
HISTORY IS INDEED WRITTEN BY THE VICTORS....' .
'St. Epiphanius [c. 315 - 403] tells us that in Alexandria the birth of Osiris-Dionysus as Aion was celebrated on January 6 [The reference (Joseph Campbell, to: Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, Volume V, 332), does not mention Osiris, or, Dionysus]. The previous night the temple was alive with the sound of flutes and singing, reaching its height at cockcrow. Those taking part then went by torchlight into an underground sanctuary from which they brought an image of the god carved in wood and marked with "the sign of a cross on hands, knees, and head." The highlight of this Mystery celebration was the announcement: "Today at this hour the virgin Kore has given birth to Aion."54' .
'In the gospels we are told that Jesus' corpse was "wrapped in a linen sheet" and anointed with "more than half a hundred weight of a mixture of myrrh and aloes."248 According to Plutarch [c. 46 - c. 120 C.E.], a representation of Osiris was also wrapped with linen and anointed with myrrh.249 Likewise, in the Mysteries of Adonis an image of the corpse of the godman was washed, anointed with spices, and wrapped around with linen or wool.250
After his death Jesus descends to hell, then resurrects on the third day. Plutarch tells us that Osiris, likewise, is said to have descended to hell and then arisen from the dead on the third day.251 An ancient Egyptian inscription promises an initiate that he will also be resurrected with his Lord: "As truly as Osiris lives shall he live; as truly as Osiris is not dead shall he not die."252
Having resurrected, Jesus ascends to heaven. The Church father Origen [c. 185 - c. 254] refers to Osiris as a young god, who was "restored to life, and went up to heaven."253 In the Mysteries of Adonis, initiates annually mourned the death of the godman with the shrill notes of the flute, weeping and beating of breasts, but on the third day he was believed to be resurrected and to ascend up to heaven in the presence of his worshipers.254 According to some myths acted out as part of the Mysteries of Dionysus, shortly after his death Dionysus also rose from the grave and ascended to heaven.255
In the Mysteries of Mithras initiates enacted a similar resurrection scene.256 Having accomplished his mission on Earth, Mithras was said to have ascended to heaven in a sun-chariot.257 Like Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father after his ascension, Mithras was believed to have been enthroned by the God of Light as ruler of the world. Also like Jesus, Mithras was said to be waiting in heaven for the End of Time, when he would return to Earth to awaken the dead and pass judgment.258
Echoes of these mythological motifs are, once again, found in the legends of
the sages of the Mysteries. Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.] tells us that, like [the story of] Jesus, the philosopher Canus ["Julius...Canus or Kanus, a philosopher whose uncompromising reproaches offended Caligula [Emperor 37 - 41] and led to his execution (Sen. Dial. 9.14.4–9)." (Ox. Classical Dict., 1970)] foretold that he would reappear three days after his death and did indeed return from the grave to one of his friends to "discourse on the survival of the spirit."259 Heraclides tells us that after a banquet to celebrate one of Empedocles' miracles, the great sage suddenly ascended to heaven accompanied by glorious celestial lights.260 It was said that Pythagoras [6th century B.C.E.] descended to Hades in search of wisdom,261 and after his death reappeared to his disciples and ascended into heaven.262 The ritual sequence of death, descent into the Underworld, and regeneration is known to have been an important analogy of initiation in the Pythagorean Mysteries from the earliest times.
Given all these dying, resurrecting, and ascending Pagan godmen and sages, it is not surprising to find Celsus [2nd century] indignant at Christian claims that Jesus is unique. He [Celsus] is amazed at the Christians' literal interpretation of what to him are obviously myths, writing,
[Celsus 2nd century] Is your belief based on the "fact" that this Jesus told in advance that he would rise again after his death? That your story includes his predictions of triumphing over the grave? Well, let it be so. Let's assume for the present that he foretold his resurrection. Are you ignorant of the multitudes who have invented similar tales to lead simpleminded hearers astray? It is said that Zamolix, Pythagoras' servant, convinced the Scythians that he had risen from the dead, having hidden himself away in a cave for several years, and what about Pythagoras himself in Italy—or Phampsinitus in Egypt? Now then, who else: What about Orpheus among the Odrysians, Protesilaus in Thessaly, and above all Heracles and Theseus? But quite apart from all these risings from the dead, we must look carefully at the question of the resurrection of the body as a possibility given to mortals. Doubtless you will freely admit that these other stories are legends, even as they appear to me; but you will go on to say that your resurrection story, this climax to your tragedy, is believable and noble.263' [56-57].
'The initiate [? (sources?)] Seneca describes his constant striving for moral perfection in simple homely language that could be that of a modern Christian:
[Seneca c. 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.] Every day I plead my case before myself. When the light is extinguished, and my wife, who knows my habit, keeps silence, I examine the past day, go over and weigh all my deeds and words. I hide nothing, I omit nothing: why should I hesitate to face my shortcomings when I can say, "Take care not to repeat them, and also I forgive you today"?23
The need to confess one's sins was taught by Jesus and is still an essential element of Christianity. This idea was far from new, however. Initiates into the Mysteries were required to purify themselves by making a public confession of all their failings and misdeeds. In the Mysteries of Eleusis, the priest asked the initiate to confess the worst deed that he had ever committed in his life.24 This was not an empty formality,
but a truly pious act. The despotic Roman Emperor Nero [Emperor 54 - 68 (37 - 68)] turned back from seeking initiation into the Mysteries when he realized he would have to openly admit murdering his mother. Even a tyrant accepted this loss of face, rather than lie before the most sacred institution of the ancient world.25 A modern classical scholar writes that the Mysteries "anticipated Catholicism in the establishment of a Confessional—but less rigid—with the elements of a penitential system and absolution for uneasy devotees. The priests acted as representatives of the Mystery-god, exacting auricular confession."26 A "Negative Confession" of the evils one had avoided committing is found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead as long ago as 1500 BCE.27' .
'A modern classical scholar writes of the Mysteries of Orpheus as "imposing—perhaps for the first time in the Western world—a lofty ethic of purity and non-injury." He continues:
[J. Godwin] The Orphics and Pythagoreans were truly the first Christians in the ethical sense, and a few Christians like St. Francis have extended their compassion in Pythagorean fashion to the animal kingdom.44' .
The King James translation of the Gospel of John opens with the famous and poetic passage:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men.124
Many readers of this text find it strangely moving, but would confess to not really understanding what it means. This is not surprising, because without some knowledge of Pagan philosophy it really does make little sense.
In the original Greek, the term here translated as "Word" is Logos. The concept of the Logos is completely foreign to Judaism and is entirely derived from the Pagan Mysteries. As long ago as the sixth century BCE Heraclitus set out on a journey of self-discovery and discovered the "Logos shared by all."125 He writes:
Having hearkened not unto me, but unto the Logos, it is wise to confess that all things are One.126
The Pagan sage Epictetus [c. 55 - c. 135] preaches: "The Logos of the philosophers doth promise us peace which God proclaimed through his Logos."127 The Roman Vitruvius writes: "Let no one think I have erred if I believe in the Logos."128 Clement of Alexandria [c. 150 - 215] acknowledges that: "It may be freely granted that the Greeks received some glimmers of the divine Logos" and quotes the legendary Pagan sage Orpheus, who proclaims: "Behold the Logos divine. Tread well the narrow path of life and gaze on Him, the world's great ruler, our immortal king."129 But this Pagan
concept ["Logos"] is much older than the Greeks. It can be found in the ancient Egyptian [see #24, 495 (Taylor)] Pyramid Texts of the Third Dynasty, which were written more than 2,500 years before the Christian era!130 ....
'Christians personify the relationship between God and the Logos as that between a father and a son. The Logos is the "Son of God." Yet they also teach that the Father and the Son are aspects of each other. St. John expresses this paradox: "The Logos was with God, and the Logos was God."
These are actually ancient Pagan doctrines, propounded by sages such as Hermes Trismegistus [legendary assumed author. see: Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 6, 626-629], who also calls the Logos "the Son of God."134 He explains that, like mind and thought, the Father and the Son are really One, but when separated from each other they appear as two. Likewise, in the sixth century BCE Heraclitus had written: "The Father and the Son are the same."135 Clement acknowledges that Euripides [c. 484 - 406 B.C.E.] had "divined as in a riddle that the Father and the Son are one God."136' .
'This Pagan allegorical approach toward sacred scripture was enthusiastically embraced by Gnostic Christians. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip teaches the same doctrine as Macrobius [5th century]: "Truth did not come into the world naked, but in images. One will not receive truth in any other way."9 Literalist Christians, on the other hand, took scripture as historical fact. The Pagan satirist Celsus [2nd century] is astonished at such naïveté and demolishes a literal interpretation of the Biblical story of creation with characteristic wit:
God banishes man from the garden made specifically to contain him. Silly as that may be, sillier still is the way the world is supposed to have come about. They allot certain days to creation, before days existed. For when heaven had not been made, or the earth fixed or the sun set in the heavens, how could days exist? Isn't it absurd to think that the greatest God pieced out his work like a bricklayer, saying, "Today I shall do this, tomorrow that," and so on, so that he did this on the third, that on the fourth, and something else on the fifth and sixth days! We are thus not surprised to find that, like a common workman, this God wears himself down and so needs a holiday after six days. Need I comment that a God who gets tired, works with his hands, and gives orders like a foreman is not acting very much like a God?10' .
'"Not a single ancient initiation festival can be found that is without dancing."52 In the Mysteries at Eleusis the candidate for initiation was seated while others danced around him in a circle, mimicking the orbits of the planets and the stars.53 In the Mysteries of Mithras, as already mentioned, the initiate representing Mithras stood in the middle of a circle of 12 dancers representing the signs of the zodiac.54"' .
"We began our quest for the historical Jesus with the Romans. Jesus is said to have been crucified by the Romans and they were renowned for keeping careful records of all their activities, especially their legal proceedings, so we felt we could be optimistic that they would mention such a celebrated case as that of Jesus. Unfortunately, however, there is no record of Jesus being tried by Pontius Pilate or executed.
This was an extremely literate period in human history. Here is a list of Pagan
writers who wrote at or within a century of the time that Jesus is said to have lived:
Pliny the Elder
Theon of Smyrna
The works of these writers would be enough to fill a library, but not one of them refers to Jesus. The only Roman writers to mention anything of interest are Pliny, Suetonius, and Tacitus, who were writing at the beginning of the second century
[see Addition 36, 1864].2" ["133"-134].
'....For hundreds of years these passages in Josephus were seized on by Christian historians as conclusive proof that Jesus existed. That is, until scholars began to examine the text a little more critically. No serious scholar now believes that these passages were actually written by Josephus.13 They have been clearly identified as much later additions. They are not of the same writing style as Josephus and if they are removed from the text, Josephus' original argument runs on in proper sequence. Writing at the beginning of the third century, Origen [c. 185 - c. 254], whom modern authorities regard as one of the most conscientious scholars of the ancient Church, tells us that there is no mention of Jesus in Josephus and that Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Christ since he did not believe in any Jewish Messiah figure.14
Josephus was in fact a pro-Roman Jew. He was hated by his fellow countrymen as a collaborator, which led him to flee Judea and live in Rome until his death.15 Here he received patronage from two Emperors and a wealthy Roman aristocrat.16
Josephus [c. 37 - c. 100] does mention various would-be Jewish Messiah figures—about whom he is entirely uncomplimentary. At the time he was writing, the long-held belief amongst Jews that their God would send them the Messiah to free his people from oppression had become an obsession. But Josephus had his own interpretation of what he calls this "ancient oracle."17 He did not deny that it was a divine prophecy, but believed that his fellow Jews had misunderstood it completely. According to him, the prophesied ruler of the world had come in the person of the Roman Emperor Vespasian [Emperor 41 - 54 (9 - 79 C.E.)], who had happened to be proclaimed Emperor while in Judea!18 It is absolutely inconceivable that Josephus could have, quite suddenly, broken with his style of writing, all his philosophical beliefs, and his characteristic political pragmatism to write reverentially about Jesus!
Early Christians who, like us, searched for historical evidence of Jesus' existence, would have seized on anything written by Josephus as conclusive proof. Yet early Christians do not mention Josephus [c. 37 - c. 100]. It is not until the beginning of the fourth century that Bishop Eusebius [c. 260 - c. 340], the propagandist of the Roman Church, suddenly produced a version of Josephus which contained these passages.19 From that point onward, Josephus became the foundation for the historicity of Jesus.
Unable to provide any historical evidence for Jesus, later Christians forged the proof that they so badly needed to shore up their Literalist interpretation of the gospels. This, as we would see repeatedly, was a common practice.' .
'It is a completely remarkable fact, however, that Paul says nothing at all about the historical Jesus! He is concerned only with the crucified and resurrected Christ, whose importance is entirely mystical. Paul makes it clear that he never met a historical Jesus. He writes: "Neither did I receive the Gospel from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ."113 Paul doesn't mention Jerusalem or Pilate either. Indeed, as we shall explore in more detail later, he declares that Jesus was crucified at the instigation of the "Archons" or "rulers of the age"114—demonic powers that are talked of by the Gnostics! In fact Paul does not link Jesus with any historical time and place, including the recent past.115 Paul's Christ, like the Pagan's Osiris-Dionysus, is a timeless mythical figure.
Paul says nothing about Nazareth and never calls Jesus a Nazarene.116 Although he portrays Christianity as a baptist sect, he never mentions John the Baptist.117 He [Paul] tells us nothing about Jesus eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners, his Sermon on the Mount, his parables, his arguments with Pharisees, or his clashes with the Roman authorities.118 Paul doesn't even know the Lord's Prayer which, according to the gospels, Jesus gave to his disciples, saying, "Pray then like this," for Paul writes, "We do not even know how we ought to pray."119' .
LIKE COUNTLESS SCHOLARS WHO HAVE MADE THIS QUEST BEFORE US, WE HAVE FOUND THAT LOOKING FOR A HISTORICAL JESUS IS FUTILE. It is astonishing that we have no substantial evidence for the historical existence of a man who is said to have been the one and only incarnation of God throughout all of history. But the fact is we do not. So, what have we got?
> A few mentions of "Christians" [see 1864] and followers of someone called Crestus [Chrestus] among all the extensive histories of the Romans
> Some fake passages in Josephus among all the substantial histories of the Jews
> A handful of passages from among the vast literature of the Talmud, which tell us that a man called Yeshu existed and had five disciples called "Mattai, Nakkia, Netzer, Buni, and Todah"
> Four anonymous gospels that do not even agree on the facts of Jesus' birth and death
> A gospel attributed to Mark written somewhere between 70 and 135 CE [see #25, 550: no trace before c. 180], which is not even meant to be an eyewitness account and certainly isn't from its ignorance of Palestinian geography and the fact that it misquotes Hebrew scripture
> Gospels attributed to Matthew and Luke, which are independently based on Mark [see Addition 34] and give us entirely contradictory genealogies
> A gospel attributed to John, which was written some time after the other three and certainly not by the disciple John
> The names of 12 disciples for whom there is no historical evidence [see 200]
> The Acts of the Apostles, which reads like a fantasy novel, misquotes the Hebrew Old Testament, contradicts Paul's letters, and was not written until the second half of the second century
> A selection of forged letters attributed to Peter, James, John and Paul
> A few genuine letters by Paul [Fictional character], which do not speak of a historical Jesus at all, but only of a mystical dying and resurrecting Christ
> A LOT OF EVIDENCE WHICH SUGGESTS THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT IS NOT A HISTORY OF ACTUAL EVENTS, BUT A HISTORY OF THE EVOLUTION OF CHRISTIAN MYTHOLOGY" .
"The view of Jews as united in their opposition to Paganism is an illusion fostered by Christianity to act as the foundation for its own later claims to be spiritually distinct from Paganism. The truth is that different Jews adopted different positions toward Pagan culture. Some were traditional fundamentalists. Others enthusiastically adopted Pagan ways. Many sought to synthesize their own traditions with Paganism and have the best of both worlds." .
'10 The Jesus Myth
My favorite definition of religion is "a misinterpretation of mythology." And the misinterpretation consists precisely in attributing historical references to symbols which properly are spiritual in their reference.1
Joseph Campbell' ["191"].
The carefully fostered traditional picture of the Gnostics is of a small group of lunatic extremists on the fringes of orthodox Literalist [see 2267 ("they take the Jesus story as a literal account of historical events"), 2276] Christianity to which the vast majority of Christians subscribed. But this is simply anti-Gnostic propaganda.71 Actually, as Gibbon writes in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Gnostics "covered Asia and Egypt, established themselves in Rome, and sometimes penetrated into the provinces of the West."72 In the first few centuries CE there really was no such thing as "the Church," only competing factions, of which the Literalists were one.
Justin Martyr, a Literalist; Marcion, an uncompromising Gnostic; and Valentinus, who tried to heal the Gnostic/Literalist division, were all important Christian teachers in Rome at exactly the same time.73 This is how diverse the Christian community was in the middle of the second century. Although Justin Martyr
would come to be remembered as a great Christian hero and the other two would be dismissed as minor heretics, in their own lifetimes Valentinus and Marcion were far more influential than Justin. They both inspired Christian movements bearing their names, which flourished for centuries.
The truth is that the Gnostics were the great intellectuals of early Christianity who commanded the respect of large numbers of Christians until Gnosticism was violently suppressed in the fourth and fifth centuries. Valentinus [2nd century], for example, was a highly educated Alexandrian philosopher and poet who was elected Bishop of Egypt. He was a major force in early Christianity, and Irenaeus [c. 130 - c. 200] deplores the fact that many bishops, deacons, widows, and martyrs from the Literalist community had sought initiation into Valentinian Christianity.74 Even the bigoted Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220] admitted that Valentinus was "a capable man, both in intelligence and eloquence."75 Likewise, the Literalist St. Jerome [c. 342 - 420] admits that Marcion [died c. 160] was a "veritable sage."76 The hero of Literalism Justin Martyr [c. 100 - c. 165], on the other hand, desperately wanted to be regarded as a great philosopher, but had been refused entry into Pythagorean and Platonic schools of philosophy for his lack of knowledge of mathematics.77 It was only after these rebuffs that he became a Christian [a common occurrence].'
'Some of the greatest mouthpieces of Literalism [orthodoxy] actually defected to Gnosticism at the end of their lives, including Tatian [c. 160], Justin Martyr's protégé,84 and even the fanatical heresy-hunter Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220]! Tertullian joined a group of Gnostics inspired by Montanus, who had previously been a priest in the Mysteries of the Pagan godman Attis!85 Using the same venom with which he had previously attacked heretics, Tertullian now condemned the "orthodox" Church for being a Church of mere Psychics, an organization of "a number of bishops" rather than "a spiritual church for spiritual people."86 It is particularly ironic, considering Tertullian's previous misogyny, that the Montanists were famous for their ecstatic women priests! One modern authority writes:
If Montanus [reportedly, c. 160] had triumphed, Christian doctrine would have been developed under the superintendence of wild and excitable women.87
Eventually Tertullian left the Montanists and set up a Christian sect of his own—the Tertullianists.88
Unsurprisingly, traditional Christian history glosses over Tertullian's conversion to Gnosticism. His writings against the Gnostics, however, were endlessly copied becoming standard texts in the Literalist Church's battle to eradicate all alternative forms of Christianity.
The idea of orthodoxy suggests there was always one perspective held in common by the majority of Christians, but there is no evidence to suggest that this is actually true. There only becomes such a thing as orthodoxy when Literalist Christianity was adopted as the [a [see #6, 172; etc.]] state religion of the Roman Empire. Only at this time did the Literalist faction acquire the power to enforce its particular perspective. Even then, Gnosticism continued to flourish for centuries. What was considered orthodox never reflected the majority views of practicing Christians. It always reflected the views of the powerful bishops. .
'After Constantine [Emperor 306 (312) - 337 (280? - 337)], the Roman Empire became increasingly Christianized under successive, ever more intolerant, Christian Emperors—that is, apart from a brief spell under Julian (360-3), who tried to reinstate Paganism.193 He was himself a Platonic philosopher noted for his humility who wrote a beautiful hymn to the One God and was an initiate of the Mysteries of Mithras and Dionysus. He proclaimed toleration for all religions194 and even attempted to rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem but, much to the delight of the anti-Semitic Christian Church, he never succeeded.195 Julian's Pagan renaissance was short-lived and after it Christianity was reinstated and enforced with even greater vehemence.
Despite the creed of Nicaea, [325 C.E.] the Christian Church remained forever divided against itself, engaging in constant political in-fighting thinly disguised as theological debate. In the authoritarian atmosphere of the times, the losers were excommunicated and their views made anathema. Yet no one was secure. An "orthodox" point of view today could be "heretical" tomorrow. Toward the end of the fourth century Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers [c. 315 - c. 368], wrote despondently:
Every year, nay, every moon we make new creeds to describe invisible mysteries. We repent of what we have done, we defend those who repent, we anathematize those whom we defended. We condemn either the doctrine of others in ourselves, or our own in that of others; and reciprocally tearing one another to pieces, we have been the cause of each other's ruin.196
By now even Literalist Christians had begun to see the Roman Church no longer as the fulfillment of Christ's plan but as the work of "the antichrist!"197' [236-237].
'St. Pontius Pilate!
The ludicrous nature of what passed for history in the early years of Christianity is graphically illustrated by the whitewashing of Pontius Pilate. This brutal Roman governor was so hated by the Jews that he had been made responsible for the savior's death by those who had originally put the Jesus myth into a historical context. But by the second century Tertullian relates the ludicrous tale that Pilate had washed his hands of Jesus' death because "in his secret heart" he was actually a Christian!215 According to Tertullian the earliest news of Christianity to reach Rome was a report from Pilate indicating that Christ (whom he supposedly had just executed) was indeed divine.216 Emperor Tiberius (who was well known for despising all religion) immediately wanted to place Christ among the pantheon of Roman gods, but had his plans rejected by the Senate. For some reason this powerful Emperor did not question his normally servile senators, but instead contented himself with shielding Christians from the severity of repressive laws. This in itself is something of a miracle, as Tiberius was living many years before such laws were enacted!217
Subsequently a document called The Acts of Pilate was forged based on Tertullian's fantasy. Then a later text called The Gospel of Nicodemus was based on this text to create what one modern scholar calls "A FICTION THREE LEVELS DEEP."218 In The Gospel of Nicodemus we are told that when Pilate's report of Jesus' execution reached Rome, the Emperor ordered Pilate to be brought before him in
chains. In front of the whole Senate, the gods and the army, the Emperor then declared:
How could you dare to do such a thing, you most impious one, when you had seen such great signs concerning that man? By your wicked daring you have destroyed the whole world. As soon as they handed him over to you, you should have kept him secure and sent him to me, and not have followed them and crucified such a man who was righteous and did such wonderful signs as you mentioned in your report. For it is clear from these signs that Jesus was the Christ, the king of the Jews.219
Once the Emperor had spoken Christ's name all the statues of the gods fell down and became as dust. Pilate excused himself by claiming that the "insubordination of the lawless and godless Jews" had made him do it. So the Emperor issued a decree against the Jews, demanding:
Obey and advance against them, and dispersing them amongst all the nations enslave them, and expel them from Judea, making the nation so insignificant that it is no longer to be seen anywhere, since they are men full of evil.
Pilate was then led to his execution uttering a prayer to the Lord. As he finished the voice of Jesus announced from heaven:
All generations and families of the Gentiles shall call you blessed, because in your governorship all was fulfilled which the prophets foretold about me, and you shall appear as my witness at the Second Coming.
We are then told that Pilate's head was cut off and he was received by an angel of the Lord, at which point his wife Procla was so overcome with joy (sic!) that she immediately gave up the ghost and was buried with her husband.220 Pilate ended up being revered as a saint in the Coptic Church and has his own feast day on June 25!221 His wife Procla was also revered as a saint in the Eastern Church.
Although this may have been believed as history at the time, to modern ears it sounds like obvious nonsense. Yet the more acceptable traditional history [of Pontius Pilate] that has been taken as "gospel truth" for 1,500 years was CREATED BY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO GAVE US THIS BALONEY. It is just as fanciful and inaccurate, and if it were not for its familiarity it would be just as easy to dismiss.' [239-241].
'Eusebius, The Church Propagandist
The whole fictitious history of Christianity was finally organized and definitively collated in the fourth century by Bishop Eusebius [c. 260 - c. 340], who is known as the "father of Church history." He was one of the bishops who completely changed their theological position at the Council of Nicaea to court the favor of Emperor Constantine.222 He subsequently became Constantine's personal biographer, glossing over his murders with obsequious flattery.223 Eusebius explained to the faithful that just as the Word of God guides and governs the heavens, so the Roman Emperor
expresses the will of God in the government of the civilized world.224 The Emperor was the voice of Christ on Earth!
Eusebius' job was to provide Roman Christianity with a suitable history, a task he performed with little regard for truth.225 With beautiful understatement, one modern authority describes reading Eusebius as entering a "tantalizing, literary world where not everything said is to be taken entirely at face value."226 Another modern scholar more bluntly calls him "the first thoroughly dishonest and unfair historian of ancient times."227 Another describes Eusebius' "dishonesty" in his "deliberate falsification of dates."228 Another describes Eusebius' history as "superficial" and "intentionally falsified" and created in "a very unscrupulous and arbitrary spirit."229 As another historian [E. Gibbon] rightly observes, "What can be gleaned of [from] Eusebius does not endear him much to modern scholars."230
Eusebius himself indirectly confesses that he has included in his account of Christian history only that which "might redound to the glory" of the Church, while suppressing whatever could disgrace it.231 A modern scholar concludes:
[W. Kingsland] We are bound therefore to regard his [Eusebius] labors with the greatest mistrust, and to pronounce it a most uncritical course to quote him as a competent authority; as is the custom of so many in spite of this delinquency, whenever it suits their purpose.232
Eusebius [c. 260 - c. 340] is quoted as an authority on Christian history simply because his is the only surviving "history" of the Church during the first three centuries.233 His [Eusebius] account has, therefore, been adopted by all Church historians after him, thereby perpetuating the lies, which have become the traditional history of Christianity.'
'The Destruction of Paganism
In the second century Tertullian, who claimed to have been converted to Christianity by witnessing Christians going to their death as martyrs, admitted he too had once enjoyed watching "the ludicrous cruelties" of Roman public persecutions.243 This love of gore and suffering does not seem to have deserted him after he became a Christian. With obvious relish he paints a grim and violent picture of the fate awaiting Pagans at the "Final Judgment":
[Tertullian c. 160 - 220] You are fond of spectacles, except the greatest of all spectacles, the last and eternal judgment of the universe. How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs, and fancied gods, groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates who persecuted the name of the Lord, liquefying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sage philosophers blushing in red hot flames with their deluded scholars; so many celebrated poets trembling before the tribunal, not of Minos, but of Christ; so many tragedians, more tuneful in the expression of their own sufferings; so many dancers...244
And on he goes, delighting in the gruesome terrors his opponents will endure for all eternity. Little did he know that within a few generations such terrors would indeed afflict many Pagans, not at the Final Judgment, but in the fourth century [and onwards] at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church.
Having been adopted as the religion of the Roman Empire, the Literalist Church terrorized Pagans with relentless brutality. Pagan prophets were seized and tortured until they acknowledged that their gods were frauds.245 Priests were chained to their shrines and left to starve to death.246 Without any evidence to endorse the accusations, Pagans were condemned for sacrificing children, sprinkling their blood on altars to the gods, and making guitar strings from their guts—fantasy crimes to which they duly confessed after suffering agonizing tortures. Many were then burnt alive.247
Some ancient shares were desecrated and razed to the ground while others were commandeered and forcibly transformed into Christian churches.248 The great works of Pagan spirituality were thrown onto enormous bonfires and lost for all time. One witness records:
[Ammianus Marcellinus c. 330 - 395] Innumerable books were piled together, many heaps of volumes drawn from various houses, to be burnt under the eyes of the judges as prohibited. Owners burnt their entire libraries. So great was the terror that seized everyone
['"For, to put it shortly, in those days we all crept about as in Cimmerian ["One of a mythical people described by Homer as inhabiting a land of perpetual darkness." (dictionary.com)] darkness."8'
[8. Ammianus Marcellinus: 29.1.29–32, 29.1.39, 29.1.41, 29.2.4 (Enemies of the Roman Order, Ramsay MacMullen, 1966, 136, 327)]].249' [243-244].
'Finally, on June 16, 391 Emperor Theodosius issued an edict that closed down all Pagan temples.256 A Christian mob immediately took the opportunity to destroy the wondrous temple of Serapis in Alexandria, leaving only its foundations.257 An imperial decree demanded: "Burn all books hostile to Christianity lest they cause God anger and scandalize the pious,"258 and in response illiterate monks destroyed thousands of years of accumulated wisdom and scientific knowledge as so much Pagan superstition.
The Pagan writer Eunapius [born c. 347], who describes "monks who resemble men but live like pigs," writes despairingly that "Anyone who had a black robe had despotic power."259 In 415 Archbishop Cyril of Alexandria had his monks incite a Christian mob to murder the last Pagan scientist of the Alexandrian Library, a remarkable woman called Hypatia [c. 375 - 415].260 She was torn limb from limb, and Cyril was made a saint.261
IN THE REIGN OF CONSTANTINE CHRISTIANITY HAD BEEN ACCORDED EQUAL STATUS WITH THE PAGAN RELIGIONS OF THE EMPIRE. HALF A CENTURY LATER, IN THE REIGN OF THEODOSIUS, IT WAS DECLARED TO BE THE ONLY RELIGION THAT A PERSON WAS PERMITTED TO PRACTICE.262 THEODOSIUS DIED IN 395. EXACTLY 15 YEARS LATER THE VISIGOTHS RAVAGED ROME.
This proud city [Rome], the center of the greatest empire of the ancient world, had flourished for a millennium under its own gods. Within a few decades of turning to Christianity, it had destroyed all the wonders and achievements of antiquity and then perished itself.263 Christianity did not succeed as the one religion of the Roman Empire where Mithraism and the other Pagan cults had failed. In fact, Christianity was the religion that accompanied its downfall.' [245-246].
'In response to the continuing popularity of Gnosticism the Roman Church set out to unify Christianity by force—an intention it carried out with ruthless efficiency. Theodosius [Theodosius I, Roman Emperor 379 - 395 (347 - 395)] passed over 100 laws against Gnostics, declaring illegal their beliefs, meetings, proselytizing, ownership of property, and eventually their very existence!270 One decree reads:
Understand now by this present statute; Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulicians, with what a tissue of lies and vanities, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inextricably woven! We give you warning: Let none of you presume, from this time forward to meet in congregations. To prevent this we command you be deprived of all the houses in which you have been accustomed to meet and that these should be handed over immediately to the Catholic Church.271
In 381 Theodosius finally made heresy a crime against the state. Gnostic writings were condemned as a "hotbed of manifold perversity" which "should not only be forbidden, but entirely destroyed and burned with fire."272 All philosophical debate was entirely suppressed. A proclamation declares:
There shall be no opportunity for any man to go out to the public and to argue about religion or to discuss it or give any counsel.273
Early in the fifth century an abbot, working as a "heavy" for Cyril, the powerful Archbishop of Alexandria, led attacks on heretical Christian communities, threatening,
I shall make you acknowledge the Archbishop Cyril, or else the sword will wipe out most of you, and moreover those of you who are spared will go into exile.274
Augustine, the great spokesman for Catholic Christianity, expressed the mood of the times perfectly when he explained that coercion was necessary since many people respond only to fear.275 Military force was "indispensable" to suppress heretics—for their own good, of course. AUGUSTINE PROCLAIMS:" "FILLED WITH FEAR MYSELF, I FILL YOU WITH FEAR."276 St. Paul's spirituality of love and Gnosis had become the Roman Church's religion of obedience and terror.227' [247-248].
Although modern Christianity is made up of countless diverse sects with opposing approaches, nearly all of them—Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Non-Conformists,
and others—are fundamentally shaped by the triumph of Literalism in the FOURTH CENTURY. Most Christians today base their faith on the historical existence of Jesus. They assent to the apostolic creed formulated under the direction of the tyrannical Constantine. They read only those few texts that happened to have been selected for inclusion in the New Testament through a process of constant doctrinal conflict, flagrant forgery, and corrupt power politics in the early Church. We have been left with the mistaken idea that Literalism is Christianity, not merely one current of thought within it...." .
"Literalist [orthodox] Christianity's success was due to one great quality it had from the beginning and continues to foster—intolerance. This is not a quirk of history, it is a logical by-product of taking the Jesus story as historical fact.
Paganism and Gnosticism were inherently tolerant because they were based on myths.279 Different cults believed in different myths, but this didn't mean that they were in opposition to each other. Plurality was acceptable because what mattered was the inner meaning, not the particular expression. But intolerance is inherent in Literalism. If Jesus is the one and only Son of God who requires the faithful to acknowledge this as historical fact, then Christianity must be in opposition to all other religions who do not teach this. Moreover, if all unbelievers are to be damned for eternity it becomes the moral duty of Literalist Christians to spread their beliefs, by force if necessary, to safe as many souls as possible, even if it means destroying their bodies to do so. The Roman Church's attacks upon Paganism and Gnosticism were a religious crusade, a God-given duty. Self-righteous intolerance had become holy." .
'As we reviewed the evidence, it seemed to us that the traditional "history" of Christianity was nothing less than the greatest cover-up of all time. Christianity's original Gnostic doctrines and its true origins in the Pagan Mysteries had been ruthlessly suppressed by the mass destruction of the evidence and the creation of a false history to suit the political purposes of the Roman Church. All those who questioned the official history were simply persecuted out of existence until there was no one left to dispute it.
Parallels with more recent history helped us to understand what had happened. At the beginning of the twentieth century a small handful of Communists took power in Russia. Yet within a few years huge numbers of people, including many of the civil servants who had administered the previous regime, had joined the Communist Party. Why? Because if you wanted to get on, you now had to be a Party member, and if you associated yourself in any way with the past regime, you were branded an enemy of the people. Similarly, once Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, its numbers began to swell enormously. Why? Because Christians were given preferential treatment. The clergy were not even required to pay tax!280 If you wanted a peaceful and successful life, you became a Christian. If you did not, you risked becoming branded as a Pagan "dissident"—an enemy of God. Just as Stalin's propaganda machine unscrupulously falsified a history for itself, which disguised its tyranny and proved its dogmas to be true and good, so the Christian propaganda machine likewise fed its lies to the faithful.
Like Communism, Christianity began with a message of freedom and equality but ended up creating an authoritarian and despotic regime. In recent years dogmatic
intolerance has led fanatical young Communists in China and Cambodia to launch disastrous cultural revolutions that have destroyed the ancient riches of their civilizations and exterminated large numbers of the intelligentsia, leaving their societies in deep crisis. Likewise, 15 centuries previously, fanatical Christian monks launched a cultural revolution that laid waste the ancient wonders and achievements of Paganism, setting Western civilization back 1,000 years.
The wanton destruction of our Pagan heritage is the greatest tragedy in the history of the Western world. The scale of what was lost is hard to comprehend. Pagan mysticism and scientific inquiry were replaced by dogmatic authoritarianism. The Roman Church imposed its creed with threats and violence, denying generations of human beings the right to think their own thoughts and find their personal route to spiritual salvation. While the great literature of antiquity was being consigned to the flames, St. Augustine [354 - 430] announced the triumph of Literalist fundamentalism, writing:
Nothing is to be accepted except on the authority of scripture, since greater is that authority than all powers of the human mind.281 [see 2287]
The ancients had built the pyramids and the Parthenon, but within a few hundred years of Christianity people in many areas of Europe had forgotten how to make brick houses. In the first century BCE Posidonius had created a beautiful revolving model of the solar system that faithfully represented the orbits of the planets.282 By the end of the fourth century CE it was sacrilegious not to believe that God placed the stars in the heavens each night.283 In the third century BCE, the Alexandrian scholar Eratosthenes had correctly calculated the circumference of the Earth to within a few percent, but now it had become a heresy not to believe that the Earth was flat.284
We found ourselves asking, if Paganism was so primitive and Literalist Christianity is the one true religion, why was the Pagan civilization replaced by the 1,000 years we appropriately call the Dark Ages?' [249-251].
'Only a century ago most thinking people believed that the story of Adam and Eve was literally true. Darwin's [Charles Darwin 1809 - 1882] idea of natural evolution was regarded as ridiculous and heretical. Today Darwin's "unthinkable thought" has been overwhelmingly accepted. The Jesus Mysteries proposes a comparable shift in our understanding of Christianity. Today it may seem outrageous to claim that Christianity evolved from Paganism and that the Jesus story, like Genesis, is an allegorical myth. But tomorrow this will be obvious and uncontentious.
Christianity did not arrive as a unique divine intervention. IT EVOLVED FROM THE PAST, LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE. There are no sudden breaks in history, only a continuum of change. The ancient Pagan Mysteries did not die. They transformed into something new—into Christianity. The spirituality of the West has been shaped by these two great traditions. The time has come to rediscover their common ground and claim all of our rich heritage.
Of course this will never be accepted by fundamentalists, but if Christianity bows to reactionary pressure to return to its authoritarian past it will be consigning itself to the dustbin of history. The modern world is simply too sophisticated to fall for the "it must be true because it says so in the Bible" routine....' [254-255].
'30 Kerenyi, op. cit., 55: "The Hierophant ["An expounder of sacred mysteries"; etc.] at Eleusis appears as a second Dionysus." The Hierophant's costume was taken over from the actor in the tragedies of Aeschylus, a testimony to the close link between the origins of the Mysteries and the birth of theater.' .
'32 The development of theater from the cult of Dionysus is a well known fact, but how this happened is little understood and insecurely researched. Gasset writes: "Tragedy was a religious ceremony...Greek scholars are baffled by the faith of the Athenians, they are unable to reconstruct it. Until they have done so, Greek tragedy will be a page written in a language to which we possess no dictionary." See Kerenyi, C. (1976), 315. We do know that the circular orchestra of the theater was taken over from the circular threshing places used at harvest-time and that theater arose from widespread popular rituals performed in honor of Dionysus. Guthrie, W.K.C. (1952), 32, presents evidence that the first tragedy performed in the service of Dionysus was a mimetic performance—a passion play accompanied by song. The first tragedy was therefore probably concerned with the death and dismemberment of the god. Guthrie also notes that in Greek theater, "The number of plays which dealt with the tearing in pieces of heroes, some of them closely akin to Dionysus, is surprising." Understanding that the Mysteries and theater arose in the same culture, at the same period, under the aegis of the same patron deity, offers a valuable insight into what might have taken place in the dramatic spectacle enacted at Eleusis [compare: portions of the New Testament].' .
'50 Harrison, op. cit., 365: "In Homer, Dionysus is not yet an Olympian. On the Parthenon frieze he takes his place among the seated gods." Harrison's work does much to explain the revolution that took place in Athens in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. During this time Greece was swept by the cult of Dionysus in what amounted to a religious revival. In the Homeric Olympian religion there was a strict boundary between the gods who were immortal and men who were doomed to die. Dionysus broke through this religious taboo—a god who became a man, he died and crossed the Olympian boundary to become a god. Unlike the archaic gods of Olympus, Dionysus is always portrayed surrounded by a band of human followers and his triumph at Athens accompanied the creation of the first democracy. Harrison calls Dionysus "the people's god."' .
'52 Osiris-Dionysus [to me: Osiris and Dionysus] is the most useful title for understanding the nature of the Mystery godman. Herodotus states that the rites of Dionysus derive from those of Osiris and that "Osiris is Dionysus." In the first century BCE Diodorus confirms this saying, "The rite of Osiris is the same as that of Dionysus and that of Isis very similar to that of Demeter; the names alone having been interchanged, and the punishments in Hades of the unrighteous, the Fields of the Righteous and the fantastic conceptions, current among the many—all these were introduced by Orpheus in imitation of the
Egyptian funeral customs." Plutarch, in the second century CE, also states unequivocally that "Osiris is the same as Dionysus," see Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, 35. Walter Burkert, a leading authority on Greek religion, wrote in 1977: "To what extent the myth, and indeed the very cult of chthonic ["associated with the earth and/or underworld...opposites of the sky gods." (Internet)] Dionysus and the beliefs in blessedness and punishments in the nether world are dependent on the Egyptian Osiris cult from the start remains a question that must be seriously asked." See Burkert, W. (1985), 298.' . [See: #24, 495 (Taylor)].
"120 Kerenyi, C. (1976), figure 146. The fourth-century [(Kerenyi, 386) "From this it may be inferred that the Brindisi disk was fashioned between the fourth and first century B.C."] BCE Brindisi Disc is the earliest known depiction of the zodiac [see Appendix IV, 734, 735, 737] in Europe [(Kerenyi, 385) "The Brindisi disk includes the earliest known representation of the zodiac on Greek or Italian soil."]. In the center Dionysus and Ariadne ascend to heaven in the chariot of the sun. In the sixth century BCE the Orphic poet Onomacritus rewrote the story of Dionysus and introduced the motif of the divine child killed and eaten by the 12 Titans. In so doing he brought the myth into conformity with the astrological motif of the one soul of the world manifesting in 12 archetypes. At the same time the numerous trials of Heracles were reworked into the familiar 12 for the same reason. Heracles is shown as an archetypal initiate on numerous vases, the earliest dating to 530 BCE. With the admission of Demeter and Dionysus into Olympus, the 10 gods recognized by Homer were made up into the 12 that became canonical from this period on. Various attempts were then made in the Hellenistic period to equate the Olympians each with a particular sign." .
'177 Inge, W.R. (1899), 355. As well as the Eucharist, early Christians also regularly celebrated an "agape" or "love feast." In nearly all the Pagan Mysteries an agape, or sacramental meal, preceded initiation. Plutarch explains: "It is not the wine or the cookery that delights us at these feasts, but good hope, and the belief that God is present with us, and that He accepts our sacrifice graciously."' .
'222 We are familiar with the scapegoat ritual from the Old Testament. Leviticus 16 v 21: "Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel. The goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited." The myth of the scapegoat was a Mediterranean-wide motif, however. Greek tragedy developed from the Dionysus rituals carried out in archaic times, the tragodoi being the singers who led the goat to sacrifice, see Burkert, W. (1985), 102. An intriguing development of this motif took place in the Hellenistic period when Socrates' [469 - 399 B.C.E.] birthday was claimed as the day "when the Athenians purify the city," see Harrison, J. (1922), 97. Lysias also tells us that the Thirty Tyrants designated their political murders of Socrates and others as a purification—a purge in both the medicinal and the ominous political sense of the word, see Burkert, W. [see 2260-2262 (Burkert)], (1985), 83. These
fragments suggest that in the centuries after his death, Socrates' disciples were attempting to link his fate with that of the pharmakos, a scapegoat who willingly took on his sacrificial role in order to purge the sins of the city. The very same motifs appear in the life of Jesus.' .
"261 In The Histories, Book 4, 94–8, Herodotus cryptically retells the myth of Pythagoras' descent into the Underworld, which he undertook in order to prove his doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The mythical motif of a descent into hell is also found in the legends of Odysseus, Hercules, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Aeneas, and many others." .
"263 Hoffmann, R.J. (1987), 67. Macchioro, V.D. (1930), 13, records the numerous Pagans who allegedly died and came back to life. Beginning with Er, whose story is told in the last book of Plato's Republic, similar stories were told of Thespesius, Cleonimus, Rufus, Hieronymus, Machates, Cleodemus, and Empedotimus." .
'59 Adbingdon Bible Commentary, New York, 1929. Heaven and hell are "religious developments of the inter testamental period," according to The Unvarnished New Testament, 499. Job, for example, 21 v 23–6, resents the lack of distinction in death between the wicked and the just: "They lie down alike in the dust." See also Bernstein, A.E. (1993), 158, which notes that the Deuteronomic system measures justice according to standards of prosperity and adversity in life—all its rewards and punishments are confined to this world. Although he explores several other possible options in the Bible, Bernstein admits these are preserved as "minority opinions." In The Jewish War, 2.14.163–5, and Antiquities, 18.14, Josephus records that the Sadducees, the traditionalists among Jewish sects denied both the immortality of the soul and postmortem sanctions. In his opinion the Pharisees gained the support of the majority of the people because they taught that the soul survives death and receives either the reward of a new life in another body or eternal punishment in the Underworld. The Pharisees were considered modernizers and Hellenizers.' .
'13 Anyone still doubting this [(page 137) "No serious scholar now believes that these passages [in The Jewish Wars and Antiquities of the Jews] were actually written by Josephus.13"] should read The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist by Dr. [Robert] Eisler: "As a matter of fact, not a single Greek, Latin, Slavonic or other Josephus text has come down to us which has not passed through the hands of Christian scribes and Christian owners," Eisler, R. (1931), 38. Regarding the interpolations, Eisler says: "The critics of the passage are philologists, its defenders theologians," ibid., 41.' .
'15 Metzger, B.M. (1987), 202, says of Eusebius' attempt to delineate an accepted canon: "The most that Eusebius can register is uncertainty so great that he seems to get confused when making a statement about it." Nonetheless he admits that the authenticity of the epistles of James and Jude is doubted, see Eusebius, (1965), 61, also 2 Peter and 3 John. Revelation he regards as
spurious. After picking our way through his well-guarded statements we end up with a canon of the four gospels, Paul's epistles minus the Pastorals, and 1 Peter and 1 John.' .
'34 Ulansey, D. (1989), 68ff. Strabo writes: "The people of Tarsus have devoted themselves so eagerly, not only to philosophy, but also to the whole round of education in general, that they have surpassed Athens, Alexandria, or any other place that can be named where have been schools and lectures of philosophers." Athenodorus of Tarsus even became a tutor to Emperor Augustus. Athenodorus was in turn a disciple of Posidonius, arguably the greatest philosopher of the first century BCE. Pompey twice turned aside from campaigns in Asia Minor to visit Posidonius and Cicero describes him as a friend. He is one of the first astronomers to make an orrery ["an apparatus for representing with movable balls the positions, motions, and phases of the bodies of the solar system." (R.H. Dict.)], which Cicero says "shows in its revolutions the movements of the sun and stars and planets, by day and night, just as they appear in the sky," see Cicero, The Nature of the Gods, 159. In his travels to Britain he made the discovery that the moon governs the tides. This he must have considered certain proof of astrology's first axiom, that the heavenly bodies have a direct effect on the physical world. All of the astronomical and astrological knowledge acquired by the Tarsian intellectuals, particularly the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes by Hipparchus, who worked at nearby Rhodes, made a major contribution to the doctrines of Mithraism. It was into this city that Paul [a Fictional character] was born, at a time when Tarsus was at the height of its power and influence.' .
'131 MacMullen, R. (1966), 132. Philosophers (a catch-all term including astrologers, magi, Chaldaeans, and other undesirables) were repeatedly swept out of Rome, at least 10 times in the period 33 BCE to 93 CE. Tacitus regarded this as "harsh and useless," as they inevitably crept back in again. As MacMullen observes, philosophy and subversion invariably went together, it was an honorable Greek tradition that had found its purest expression in Socrates, see MacMullen, 53.' .
'185 Lane-Fox, R. (1986), 674, observes that the finding of caves of the nativity, Holy Sepulchres and even holy oak [see Appendix IX, 816-820] trees mentioned in the Book of Genesis "owed much to the 'discoveries' of Imperial females."' . [Compare: St. Helena, Mother of Constantine].
'251 Wallis, R.T. (1992), 50: "The transformation of the gods into demons had significant psychological consequences. Life became a battleground in which men must fight for God against the enemy... Christianity filled the world with evil spirits." As this author notes, this view will pave the way for Augustine's depressing view of humanity as "the plaything of demons" and "the Devil's fruit tree, his own property, from which he may pick his fruit."' .
[When I see/hear the name St. Augustine, my reaction is: that Brilliant "Asshole"!].
'262 Lieu, S.N.C. (1985), 112. In the mind of Theodosius, Christianity and citizenship were coterminous and anyone who denied Christ automatically made himself an outlaw of Roman society. As Campbell observes, "In the reign of Constantine Christianity was accorded equal status with the Pagan religion of the Empire, but half a century later in the reign of Theodosius (379–395) it was declared to be the only religion allowed, and with that the period that has since been known as the Dark Ages was inaugurated by [Christian] imperial decree." See Campbell, J. (1964), 389.' .
'283 Metzger, B.M. (1987), 233. This was the view of Philaster, the Bishop of Brescia (died c. 397 CE). Philaster also composed a treatise to attack 28 Jewish heresies and no less than 128 Christian heresies, see Potter, D. (1994), 105. W. Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, presents a depressing picture of the anti-intellectual nature of the early Church, the destruction of books and temples, the closing of schools, and the killing of adherents of other faiths." .
'284 The classical scholar Frank [Erich Frank 1883 - 1949] has reconstructed the main stages of Greek astronomy, in an apparently necessary order: development of the understanding of space, of solid geometry and perspective by Anaxagoras and Democritus, discovery of the sphericity of the Earth and the "movements of the planets in the form of geometrically perfect orbits" by the Pythagoreans of Archytas' circle, first mathematical explanation of the movement of the planets by Eudoxus, discovery of the rotation of the Earth on its axis, and finally the "Copernican view of the world" in the system of Philolaus. See Burkert, W. (1972), 302. The earliest mention of a spherical Earth in extant literature is in Plato's Phaedo, 110b, see Guthrie, W.K.C. (1962), 295, but Bion of Abdera, the follower of Democritus, was acquainted in 400 BCE with the mathematical consequences of the spherical shape of the Earth, and in 430 Hippocrates of Chios had projected the celestial circles onto the Earth, obviously presupposing its sphericity, see Burkert, 305. All of these advances took place in the Classical period. The Hellenistic period saw equally momentous discoveries. Eratosthenes calculated the obliquity of the ecliptic and the diameter of the Earth with an error of less than 1 percent, see Marlowe, J. (1971), 71. Hipparchus, his successor at the Alexandrian library, determined the precession of the equinoxes, the size of the sun and the plane of its apogee, the mean motion of the moon, its nadir, its apogee and the inclination of its orbit and also calculated lunar eclipses, see Marlowe, 75. Then suddenly with the triumph of Christianity St. Augustine [see 2287, #251] declared, on the basis of his own limited knowledge of Manichaean astrology, that the Earth was flat. As unchallengeable Christian dogma this belief persisted throughout the Dark Ages. As Draper observes, "No one did more than this Father [Augustine] to bring science and religion into antagonism," see Cranston, S. (1977), 149.' [318-319].
"WHO'S WHO" ["329"]
"Augustine 354–430 CE. Follower of the Manichaean Gnostics for eight years. In 386 CE he became a Neoplatonist and four years later a Literalist ["orthodox"] Christian. In 395 he was appointed the Bishop of Hippo in Africa." ["329"].
"Celsus Wrote The True Doctrine in c. 170 CE, a critique of emerging Christianity, of which 70 percent survives in quotation in the work of Origen (qv)." .
"Clement of Alexandria 150–215 CE. Born in Athens, became the pupil of Pantaenus of Alexandria in 180 and head of the Catechetical school in 190. Traditionally regarded as a Literalist Christian and even beatified by the Roman Church, his works actually have far more in common with Gnosticism." .
'Eusebius 260–340 CE. Trained at the school in Caesaria established by Origen (qv). Became Bishop of Caesaria in 311. Arrived at the Council of Nicaea in 325 a convicted Arian heretic, left it as the official historian and biographer of Constantine (qv). Known as "the father of Church history," his work is profoundly unreliable and is widely held to be little more than propaganda for Literalist Christianity.' .
"Heraclitus fl. c. 500 BCE. Mystic philosopher of Ephesus in Asia Minor who wrote about the Word of God (Logos). Diogenes Laertius records a saying of the third-century BCE philosopher Cleanthes, that his cryptic works can only be understood by an initiate of the Mysteries." .
'Herodotus 484–430 BCE. Greek historian known as "the father of history." He traveled in Egypt and recorded that the Mysteries of Dionysus at Eleusis were modeled on those of Osiris in Egypt.' .
"Jerome 342–420 CE. Biblical scholar and translator of the Bible into Latin. A Literalist Christian who attacked Origen's (qv) doctrines of reincarnation and the ultimate salvation of all." .
"Josephus 38–107 CE. Jewish historian who visited Rome in 64, aged 26. During the campaign in Galilee in 67 he defected to the Romans. His Jewish War was published in Rome c. 95. His books were later interpolated to include glowing references to Jesus." .
'Julian 332–363 CE. Roman Emperor who attempted to revive Paganism after the reign of Constantine (qv). A humane and pious Emperor, he is unfairly known to history as "the apostate."' .
"Nero 37–68 CE. Roman Emperor from 54 until his death by suicide. His reign began well under the influence of Seneca (qv) but then degenerated into tyranny." .
"Origen 185–254 CE. Born in Alexandria, studied Pagan philosophy with Plotinus (qv) under Ammonius Saccus. Became a pupil of Clement (qv) and castrated himself in accordance with Matthew 19 v 12. Established a school in Caesaria in 231. Traditionally regarded as a Literalist Christian, his works have far more in common with Gnosticism. Posthumously condemned as a heretic by the Roman Church in the fifth century." .
"Philo Judaeus 25 BCE–50 CE. An Alexandrian Jew who synthesized the Old Testament with Greek and Pythagorean philosophy. He styled himself as a hierophant ["An expounder of sacred mysteries"; etc.] of the Jewish Mysteries." .
"Plato 429–348 BCE. Disciple of Socrates (qv), founder of the philosophical school in Athens known as the Academy. His philosophy was inspired by the doctrines of the Mysteries, the mysticism of Pythagoras (qv), and the poetry of Orpheus." .
Pythagoras 581–497 BCE. Philosopher of the Greek island of Samos. Traveled widely in Egypt, Phoenicia, and Babylon, and later founded communities of mystics in the Greek colonies of southern Italy. A hierophant ["An expounder of sacred mysteries"; etc.] of the Mysteries of Demeter and Dionysus, a poet who wrote works ascribed to Orpheus, a social reformer and scientist. His influence on Plato (qv) and the whole Greek philosophical tradition was profound." .
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from: How We Believe, The Search for God in an Age of Science, Michael Shermer, c2000 (1999). [inscribed to me (in person): "–To a fellow skeptic and free thinker. Michael Shermer 11-28-99"].
"....For some, science, or more precisely scientism, is a secular religion in the sense of generating loyal commitments (a type of faith) to a method, a body of knowledge, and a hope for a better tomorrow. Perhaps seeing Something There is partly hard-wired in us all." .
"THE MOST CONSISTENT FINDING RELATED TO RELIGIOUS INTENSITY INVOLVED OPENNESS. A higher ranking on the openness dimension was associated with lower levels of religiosity and higher levels of doubt. Moreover, openness was significantly correlated with change in religiosity, with higher openness scores being associated with lowered piety, as well as lower rates of church attendance. There was a modest association between birth order and openness, with laterborns scoring higher than firstborns. Sulloway has pointed out that laterborns tend to be more open to experience than firstborns because they must generally be more exploratory in finding a valued family niche and to compete for limited parental attention and resources. Not surprisingly, we found a strong correlation between openness and political liberalism. But we also discovered a significant correlation on the agreeableness (tough-minded—tender-minded) scale: We found that religious people are more tender-minded. But it should be noted that laterborns, when controlled for sex, socioeconomic status, education, age, and sibship [complex. use "family"] size, are more liberal than firstborns. Related to this is the finding that laterborns are more tender-minded than firstborns. So, overall, belief in God was significantly related to being conservative and being tender-minded, but because laterborns are more liberal and also more tender-minded than their elder siblings, these two predisposing factors will tend to cancel themselves out in the expression of religiosity.
IN SUM, PEOPLE WHO SCORE HIGH IN OPENNESS ARE LESS RELIGIOUS, MORE LIKELY TO ENTERTAIN RELIGIOUS DOUBTS, MORE LIKELY TO CHANGE THEIR BELIEFS, AND LESS LIKELY TO ATTEND CHURCH. Why? Additional adjectives that correlate highly with openness to experience on the Personality Inventory we used offer some insight. These include: inventive, versatile, curious, optimistic, original, insightful, and unconventional. CONSIDER WHAT IT MEANS TO BE LESS RELIGIOUS AND SKEPTICAL OF GOD IN A COUNTRY IN WHICH 90 TO 95 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION ARE BELIEVERS. To even arrive at this position one would have to be inventive, curious, and insightful. And to maintain this skepticism in the face of the possibility of great scorn being heaped by zealous believers would mean one would need to be optimistic and original. More than anything else, one would need to be unconventional. RELIGION AND BELIEF IN GOD IS, IF NOTHING ELSE, CONVENTIONAL. In fact, I would argue that it is the convention in our culture. With the possible exception of politics (and even this is probably a distant second), you would be hard pressed to find another convention that generates so much zealousness on the part of followers. TO BE PIOUS—an adjective almost exclusively used to describe compliance in the observance of religion—MEANS COMPLIANCE TO CONVENTION." [82-83].
"....MEN TENDED TO JUSTIFY THEIR BELIEF WITH RATIONAL REASONS, WHILE WOMEN TENDED TO JUSTIFY THEIR BELIEF WITH EMOTIONAL REASONS. This finding dovetails well with the other significant relationships we found, such as a positive correlation between education and rational arguments for God's existence, and a negative correlation between education and emotional arguments for God's existence (AS EDUCATION DECREASED, PREFERENCES FOR EMOTIONAL ARGUMENTS INCREASED)...." .
"Why the Messiah Myth Returns"
"When social conditions include oppression of a people, there is a good chance that the response will be the belief in a rescuing messiah delivering redemption. The messiah myth, like all myths, may be a fictitious narrative, but it represents something deeply nonfictional about human nature and human history. To this extent it is an important component in answer to the question of HOW WE BELIEVE." .
_____ _____ _____
from: Skeptic Mag Hotline, 2/7/2000 (reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org).
'A review of "Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright," Pantheon, 2000'.
HUMANS ARE PATTERN-SEEKING, STORYTELLING ANIMALS. We look for and find patterns in our world and in our lives, then weave narratives around those patterns to bring them to life and give them meaning. Such is the stuff of which myth, religion, history, and science are made.
Sometimes the patterns we find represent reality--DNA as the basis of heredity or the fossil record as the history of life. But SOMETIMES THE patters [PATTERNS] ARE IMPOSED BY OUR MINDS RATHER THAN DISCOVERED BY THEM--the face on Mars (actually an eroded mountain) or the Virgin Mary's image on a building (really an oil stain). The rub lies in distinguishing which patterns are true and which are false, and the essential tension (as Thomas Kuhn called it) pits skepticism against credulity as we try to decide which patterns should be rejected and which should be embraced...."
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from: 101 Myths of the Bible, How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History, Gary Greenberg, Sourcebooks, c2000. [See: The Bible Myth, the African Origins of the Jewish People, Gary Greenberg, Citadel, c1996].
People study the Bible for a variety of reasons. Some seek moral or spiritual guidance from its repository of wisdom. Many read it for some of the most beautiful stories and poetry in all literature. Still others read it as a historical account of our cultural roots. Many look to it for insight into the life and times of people in ancient civilizations.
For many millions of people, though, the Bible is the inerrant word of God, whose commandments must be reverently obeyed and whose teachings should be our primary guide to social organization. FOR THOSE, however, WHO STUDY THE BIBLE IN A SERIOUS SCHOLARLY MANNER FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHO WROTE IT, WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN, WHAT IS FACTUALLY TRUE, AND HOW IT CAME TO TAKE ON ITS PRESENT FORM, THE WORK IS A COMPLEX COLLECTION OF PUZZLES, MANY OF WHICH STILL REMAIN TO BE SOLVED." ["xv"].
Adam would die if he ate from the Tree of Knowledge.
The Myth: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen. 2:17)
The Reality: The purpose of this story is to condemn the Egyptian idea that knowledge of moral order would lead to Eternal life, which conflicted with Hebrew monotheistic teachings.
In the previous myth, we saw that Egyptian ideas about the relationship between moral order and eternal life lay behind the biblical story about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Yet, despite the close parallels between the two descriptions, there is one glaring conflict. In the Egyptian text, Nun (the personification of the Great flood) urged Atum (the Heliopolitan Creator) to eat of his daughter Tefnut, giving him access to knowledge of moral order. In Genesis, God forbade Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, denying him access to moral knowledge.
This inconsistency appears in the face of a moral conundrum in the biblical account. It would seem that God lied and the serpent told the truth. Initially, God ordered Adam not to eat from The Tree of Knowledge, telling him that he would die on the very day that he did so. Yet, later, after eating from the fruit of this tree, Adam not only lived (for about another nine hundred years), but God feared that he would obtain eternal life if he ate from the Tree of Life and it became necessary to expel him from the Garden.
If Genesis draws upon the Egyptian doctrine, why does the biblical story take
such a radical turn when it comes to eating from the Tree of Knowledge? The divergence in the two stories results from fundamental differences between Egyptian and Hebrew beliefs about the afterlife....' .
Eve came from Adam's rib.
The Myth: And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and the he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh. (Gen. 2:21–24)
The Reality: The story of Eve's birth integrates the Egyptian story of the separation of heaven and earth with portions of the Sumerian myth of Enki and Ninhursag.' .
The preceding look at 101 myths of the Bible showed us the many ways in which biblical history evolved and how it was transformed by later experiences.
We began with an examination of the biblical Creation myths [Genesis] and saw that the J and P Creation stories both originated with variations of the Theban Creation myths of Egypt, but each presented the story in a different manner, revealing different images of deity. The P deity was aloof and had no personal interaction with humanity. The P Creation was austere, a mechanical recital of events unfolding day by day. The J deity was personable, anthropomorphic, and continuously engaged in human interaction. The J story proceeded with great literary style, plot detail, and character development, and it was deeply concerned with moral issues.
In both versions, we saw the underlying Egyptians polytheism in disguised form. P stripped the deities of persona and reduced them to the raw natural phenomena that they represented. J left the persona but eliminated the connection to the natural phenomena, transformed the deities into human beings where P only discussed process. J's account included the stories of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and Cain and Abel—stories that have touched humanity for close to three thousand years....
In Part II, we shifted to myths about the patriarchal age. Here, we saw four main levels of construction at work. At the core, we saw that the stories of the patriarchs were adapted from Egyptian myths about Egypt's most important religious and political family of deities, Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Set. This was best exemplified by the interplay between Jacob and Esau, where we showed the feuds between these two brothers paralleled those in the Egyptian literature about Horus and Set, the twin deities who struggled even in the womb. The biblical authors took these well-known
tales about Egypt's most important family of gods, which the Hebrews brought with them when they left Egypt, and transformed them into stories about human ancestors who founded the Hebrew nation, thereby eliminating the reverence for deities other than the Hebrew God....
In Part III, we looked at the myths about biblical heroes, from Moses to Esther. In the story of Moses, we saw how Egyptian literary themes influenced biographical history. The earlier sources identified Moses as the Egyptian Horus-child, the legitimate contender for the throne when the ruling pharaoh died. Later, writers made him [Moses] the giver of the Ten Commandments and other laws, even though he never authored those documents. In this regard, we see religious leaders in the seventh century B.C. trying to boost their authority by putting their ideas into the mouths of a well-respected hero such as Moses, a common literary practice in the Near East that was not confined just to the Hebrews....
MOST IMPORTANTLY, though, WE SAW HOW HEROIC MYTHS AND LEGENDS FROM A VARIETY OF CULTURES CAME TO BE ADAPTED BY THE HEBREWS AS THEIR OWN HISTORIES. The story of Samson pulling down a temple, for example, originated as an Egyptian myth, and the story of Esther adapted a Babylonian legend to Hebrew purposes. Deborah was another Egyptian deity whose story was transformed into an account of a heroic Hebrew woman. Nor were propagandists loathe to transfer heroic deeds from one Hebrew to another, as we saw with King David's chronicler who credited David with slaying Goliath when the deed was done by Elhanan, one of his soldiers.
Yes, the Bible is a collection of myths, but myths that reveal much truth about the history of ancient Israel, just as archaeological sites reveal truths about the people who lived within. While scholars argue and debate whether the patriarchs existed or Israel dwelled in Egypt or an Exodus occurred or King David captured Jerusalem, the mythological stratifications in the Bible give us history. Despite the lack of contemporaneous archaeological evidence for early Israel, the mythological artifacts clearly show us that Israelite religion had a long history that went back to at least the patriarchal period, Moses did confront a pharaoh, Israel did come out of Egypt, and a united monarchy did exist and did split in two.
Moreover, while biblical history does not meet our current standard for historical writing, the record shows that, despite Herodotus's reputation as the father of history, early Hebrew writers, such as J, E, P, and D, invented the genre and were the first true historians [?]. They integrated massive amounts of documentation and tradition, wrote grand epic accounts of Israel's origins that spanned many generations and produced beautiful literature in the process. Ironically, it is the very act of incorporating all the mythical material into their histories that enables us to validate so much of what is missing from the historical record [?]." ["295", 297, 298, 299] [End of text]. [research to corroborate, etc.].
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from: The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Free Press, c2001.
[dust jacket] 'IS THE BIBLE TRUE? FOR THE LAST HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS A WAR HAS BEEN WAGED OVER THE HISTORICAL [FICTION] RELIABILITY OF THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES. Recent dramatic discoveries of biblical archaeology have cast serious doubt on the familiar account of ancient Israel and the origins of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Though the Bible credits Abraham as the first human to realize there is only one God, we now know that there is no evidence for monotheism for many centuries after the reported time of Abraham. Nor is there any archaeological evidence for the Exodus, for Joshua's conquest of Canaan, or for the vast "united monarchy" of David and Solomon.' [dust jacket].
'THE FAILED SEARCH FOR THE HISTORICAL ABRAHAM
Before we describe the likely time and historical circumstances in which the Bible's patriarchal narrative was initially woven together from earlier sources, it is important to explain why so many scholars over the last hundred years have been convinced that the patriarchal narratives were at least in outline historically true. The pastoral lifestyle of the patriarchs seemed to mesh well in very general terms with what early twentieth century archaeologists observed of contemporary bedouin life in the Middle East. The scholarly idea that the bedouin way of life was essentially unchanged over millennia lent an air of verisimilitude to the biblical tales of wealth measured in sheep and goats (Genesis 30:30–43), clan conflicts with settled villagers over watering wells (Genesis 21:25–33), and disputes over grazing lands (Genesis 13:5–12). In addition, the conspicuous references to Mesopotamia and Syrian sites like Abraham's birthplace, Ur, and Haran on a tributary of the Euphrates (where most of Abraham's family continued to live after his migration to Canaan) seemed to correspond with the findings of archaeological excavations int he eastern arc of the Fertile Crescent, where some of the earliest centers of ancient Near Eastern civilization had been found.
Yet there was something much deeper, much more intimately connected with modern religious belief, that motivated the scholarly search for the "historical" patriarchs. Many of the early biblical archaeologists had been trained as clerics or theologians. They were persuaded by their faith that God's promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the birthright of the Jewish people and the birthright passed on to Christians, as the apostle Paul explained in his letter to the Galatians—WAS REAL. AND IF IT WAS REAL [IT WAS NOT REAL], it was presumably given to real people, not imaginary creations of some anonymous ancient scribe's pen.
The French Dominican biblical scholar and archaeologist Roland de Vaux noted, for example, that "IF THE HISTORICAL FAITH OF ISRAEL IS NOT FOUNDED IN HISTORY, SUCH FAITH IS ERRONEOUS, AND THEREFORE, OUR [CHRISTIAN] FAITH IS ALSO [see #3, 45, 213. (Paul)]." And the doyen of American biblical archaeology, William F. Albright, echoed the sentiment, insisting that "as a whole, the picture in Genesis is historical, and there is no reason to doubt the general accuracy of the biographical details." Indeed, from the early decades of the twentieth century, with the great discoveries in Mesopotamia and the intensification of archaeological activity in Palestine, many biblical historians and archaeologists were convinced that new
discoveries could make it likely—if not completely prove—that the patriarchs were historical figures....
YET THE SEARCH FOR THE HISTORICAL PATRIARCHS [(complex) commonly: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob] WAS ULTIMATELY UNSUCCESSFUL, since none of the periods around the biblically suggested date provided a completely compatible background to the biblical stories. (See Appendix A for additional details.) The assumed westward migration of groups from Mesopotamia toward Canaan—the so-called Amorite migration, in which Albright placed the arrival of Abraham and his family—was later shown to be illusory. Archaeology completely disproved the contention that a sudden, massive population movement had taken place at that time. And the seeming parallels between Mesopotamian laws and customs of the second millennium BCE and those described in the patriarchal narratives were so general that they could apply to almost any period in ancient Near Eastern history. Juggling dates did not help the matter. Subsequent attempts by de Vaux to place the narratives of the patriarchs in the Middle Bronze Age (2000–1500 BCE), by the American scholars Speiser and Gordon to place them against the background of a fifteenth century BCE archive found in Nuzi in northern Iraq, and by the Israeli biblical historian Benjamin Mazar to place them in the Early Iron Age also failed to establish a convincing link. The highlighted parallels were so general that they could be found in many periods.
The whole enterprise created something of a vicious circle. Scholarly theories about the age of the patriarchs (whose historical existence was never doubted) changed, according to the discoveries, from the mid-third millennium BCE to the late third millennium, to the early second millennium, to the mid-second millennium, to the Early Iron Age. The main problem was that the scholars who accepted the biblical accounts as reliable mistakenly believed that the patriarchal age must be seen, one way or the other, as the earliest phase in a sequential history of Israel.' [33-34, 35-36].
[dust jacket] '"Readable and Revolutionary. Finkelstein and Silberman have staked out an advanced position in some of the most controversial areas of biblical and archaeological research in our day. Boldly and provocatively, the authors challenge much of the received wisdom [propaganda] and confident assumptions of many in this discipline, and check off the hot-button points in sequence: the PATRIARCHS (FORGET IT, OR THEM); MOSES AND THE EXODUS (NO EVIDENCE); the whole period of the Judges; the Monarchy; united or otherwise. In short, there is little to be said about Israel or Judah until the ninth century BCE. In the end, a reconstruction and reconstitution of these ancient kingdoms is sharply etched and dramatically delineated once the debris of centuries (both ancient and modern) has been cleared. For those who like to be wakened in the morning with a spray of cold water, this book is highly recommended."
—David Noel Freedman [I have, briefly communicated with, heard and met (at U.C. San Diego), David Noel Freedman], editor of the Anchor Bible series' [dust jacket].