The Power of Myth
Written by: Robert D Brinsmead
The God of religion (my Christian religion) disappeared from my radar screen nearing the end of the 80’s. I joined the human race. But I found a better image of God in people, not the God found in religion and Christology. It seems to me that maybe Fred Hollows (that atheist do-gooder doctor who, in the words of one his friends “worked too much, drank too much and swore too much.” He stopped the whole of Australia when he died. A foundation to help cure a common cause of blindness was set up in his honour. He was one of God’s special saints although a professed atheist. No one could question his love of people and his dedication to serve his fellow man. In that he showed his love for God. He was like Abou ben Adam.”
The redactor puts words of the redactor’s theology into the mouth of Jesus. The parable of the 10 bridesmaids is a moralistic croc, and all that stuff on the apocalypse and the Second Coming, is an invention of the writer – just as much as the Investigative Judgment was an invention of the Adventists to explain their disappointment that Jesus was not going to be the kind of Messiah they wanted him to be. It is certainly not in the doctrine of eternal torment of Hell. We humans doing the wrong thing bring nothing but misery and sadness. God is not in the business of adding more punishment beyond this life – punishment is what we do to ourselves. There is enough weeping and gnashing of teeth going on here. I reject the crass moralism and rewards theology of the redactor.
One of the mountain peaks of revelation appears in the book of Micah. It was given by the prophets and is all based on the covenant of love made with the elect people. This passage along with others in the prophets shows that God’s love for his people will win in the end. He has not cast them away. He will bring them home. He will never forsake or leave them.
Now just as there is an advance of human consciousness in regards to monotheism (from the tribal deity to the God of all nations) so Jesus stands in that tradition of the prophets, but he makes one great advance which is as inevitable as the advance made with monotheism. The advance in the teaching of Jesus is to see that this love of God is not confined to Israel, an exclusive tribe, but God is bound by a covenant of love with all peoples. This is why we can be bold enough to take those great promises of the OT, promises made to Israel only – such as “I will never leave you or forsake you” and apply them to ourselves. The Christians took those OT promises made to Israel and applied them to the Church, to the Christians, but we have to extend the bounds further. Non-Christians may be bold enough to take those promises of God’s faithfulness and apply them to themselves. They only need to take hold of their own noses and decide whether or not they are human, and if they are, then the promises of God’s love belongs to them too. This logic of love reminds me of that great old British song, “Wider still and wider, shall thy bounds be set.” This is a matter of taking monotheism and “God is love” to is logical and inevitable end.
Daniel Boyarin is a leading Jewish theologian who has written a very challenging little book called The Jewish gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. In this book Boyarin shows that the basic Christology of the early Christians was not essentially new. He shows that in Jewish thinking, the Messiah was pre-existent, divine, and a suffering figure too. All those ideas about the Messiah were already in existence before Jesus arrived. The new thing of the Christians was that they claimed these things for Jesus. Boyarin also makes parallels between the Jewish religious myths and some other religious myths in that world where there was a belief in a Supreme Deity (such as El) who also had a consort; a kind of lesser divinity (Baal was one example of that). When the Christians first claimed divinity for Jesus, this was not taken in the later Athanasian sense of Deity in the absolute and highest sense.
In attitudes to the Sexual Life, it ought to be clear that Judaism on the whole, being a non-ascetical religion, was superior to Christianity which always had a tendency toward man-hating, world-denying asceticism. Coupled with this, Judaism focussed on this life and this world. This world was a good creation. Eating was good. Sex was good. The task of God’s people was to improve “the land”, to develop it into a Promised Land etc. The real link to the change that resulted in the birth of Christianity was Jewish Apocalyptic which borrowed heavily from Zoroasterism. In apocalyptic, the focus was changed from this earth to heaven. Christianity was focussed on heaven. The scoundrel “Matthew” loved this word heaven, and put it in the mouth of Jesus – (“great is your reward in heaven” “lay up your treasure in heaven”) – all of which was part of turning Jesus into someone who had just stepped out of a Greek myth. Christianity was about hating the world. It was “a present evil world.” ”Love not the world nor the things of the world.” There was a strong ascetical tendency; a man-hating, world-denying tendency in Christianity from the beginning, (Remember the comment of the Emperor Julian: “O pale Galilean, you have conquered.”) Christianity became anti-sexual. It turned both Mary and Jesus into asexual persons. It bred Monasticism, it bred celibacy and the sexual corruptions within the RC today are the fruit of it. Until very recently, no Christian scholar would have dared interpret the Jewish book The Song of Solomon according to its face value. The worst misogyny ever was found in the writings of the Church Fathers, culminating in Augustine and Jerome.
Did Jesus have a sexual life. Of course he did. Did he get 23 of his X chromosomes from a male father? Of course he did. Did he have a wife? Yes, and she was buried with him in the same tomb as Tapiot – with recent DNA testing showing she was not a blood relative of Jesus.
Did he have a son? Yes, and apparently his name was Judah, according to what was found in the Tapiot tomb.
Why is nearly everybody so reluctant to look seriously at what was discovered in that tomb, the biggest archaeological find in history?
Because they are wedded to a myth that says that the bones of this man were not left on this earth like everyone else born on this earth. Even Israel today wants to seal the Tapiot tomb – it makes too much money from the Christian myth!!
It is just silly to believe in Swensmark just as it would be silly to try to worship Mandela or Martin Luther King. We can only judge their contribution by what they said. We can only accept and treasure their valid insights. May I be so bold and heretical as to say, it is a mistake to believe in Jesus in the way that all this has meant in the Christian religion. As the book “Good Jesus Bad Jesus” illustrates, if you take some of the sayings attributed to Jesus, he would certainly be a bad person to follow. Jesus refused to cite any authorities for what he said, and when it came to the core new stuff, that is his doctrine of God, he was pretty well out on his own like a shag on a rock.
It was more conventional in that era of Jesus to focus on the Who said it – the authority thing – rather than the What was said. That was the basis of all Christology. It is reported that Jesus spake with authority (although he never appealed to any authority). It was not a messianic authority, however. The authority of what was said was in what was said. Same as with any speaker of truth –whether Galileo, Newton, Einstein.
The prostitutes, shepherds, and marginalized or so-called sinners who did not know or could not keep Torah, and the Samaritans and the uncircumcised, were all despised by the “righteous”. They were seen as enemies of all the good guys who had God on their side. In that sense they were enemies; outsiders you could not eat with. Jesus spoke of people who invited only their friends to a party, and those friends would them invite them to their parties in return. That standard was the kind of love practiced by just about everybody; to love your own kind or your own group. It was tribal love over love for the outsider, the marginalized and the prostitutes.
When you appreciate how factious the Jews were at the time of Jesus, how factious and vicious the sects of Jews were to one another as they fought among themselves even while the Romans armies were at their gates (being apocalyptically convinced God would favour and deliver them). The enemy in the time of Jesus were Samaritans like the ones in that village whom the disciples wanted to zap, and those who belonged to other sects or parties. The Dead Sea Scrolls describe how the Sectarians in the desert (not unlike the ones in the book of Revelation) really hated other Jews – the elite or priestly cast in Jerusalem above all. Conventional love, which Jesus repudiated, was drawing a little circle of people entitled to your love, who would love you back, and treating the rest like enemies. The real test was, would these people be invited to supper? For a pious Jew at that time would only break bread as brothers together before God, and one would not eat bread with a sinner, a marginalized, a Samaritan, a Gentile, or shepherd. All these were enemies just as much as the Romans who occupied Palestine.
Most of apocalyptic literature, beginning with the book of Daniel and including a large sections of the NT is based on a religious fraud- like the Book of Daniel pretending to be the legendary Daniel of the 6th centuary BCE writing history and fortelling historical events in Second century in advance. For centuries the Church passed off the NT books as having apostolic authority when the accounts of Jesus were written up by authors in the third generation, leaving us without a single eyewitness to the historical Jesus. These unknown authors, sometimes posing as apostles, shaped the tradition to suit their own religious and political agendas. They are on about Christology, something totally alien to the message of the historical Jesus. There is very little salvageable material. I am convinced that working over or appealing to the Biblical material just gets in the way of an uncluttered view of the core message of Jesus.