From the Norwegian book "Christendom or Psychology", Oslo 1996:
About the beginning of the end times and the birth of the new world, Avesta tells that when the new age is near, a virgin shall bathe in the lake in the East. There she will conceive and give birth to Saoysant – the Saviour. According to ancient Persian belief this is none else than Zarathustra himself returning to fulfil life’s victory over death and evil.
In this final awesome battle, Saoysant shall be victorious. Afterwards, he lets a new world come forth where there shall be no old age and death, where there shall be eternal life and eternal growth – and the ultimate freedom. The dead will rise from their graves and eternal life shall be bestowed upon all life. Between light and darkness – truth and lies – there should be an everlasting and bitter struggle until the end time. In this struggle, man should stand on the side of goodness. Fairness, kindness, faithfulness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, tilling the soil and extermination of snakes, Toads and other vermin were the weapons whereby the fight would be fought. Lies were the most base of all vice. Light, fire and the Sun were worshipped as manifestations of Mazda – while Arihman rested in an abyss, in eternal darkness.
This is all thoughts and concepts that seem so familiar from Christendom. There is much that makes it conceivable that it came there via the Essene society, the beginning of which dates to about 150 BCE.
The Essenes were a closed mystery society in Israel and Syria. There is not much that is known about them. They certainly had a rich literature within their society. Our main source of knowledge about them is Josephus and the Jewish religion philosopher Philo in Alexandria. Philo writes in:
Quod omnis probus liber:
“Greece had its seven wise and their successors. Persia still has its researchers of nature – the contemplative magi’s – and India its moral-philosophic sophists. Nor do Syria and Israel where the numerous Jewish tribe lives, such people who have made virtue their highest goal. Among those, some are called Essean, about 4000 of number.
They have got their name because of their holiness, since they believe that the main idea of religion is to serve God, not by slaughtering sacrificial animals, but by dedicating their hearts to God as a holy sacrifice.
They live together in villages and avoid the big cities to get away from sin and crime so prevalent there, since they know they are as much to fear as unhealthy, polluted air and all the contagious and deadly diseases that come from this. They live partly by farming, partly by handicraft. They treat themselves as well as their neighbours with kindness without amassing money or large land estates. They seek only to provide for their daily bread. They are almost the only people who live unprotected, yeah, without money, and they are considered rich more because of their approach to life than because of any surplus of wealth, since they rightly claim – that simplicity is the greatest gain. Javelins, Arrows, swords, helmets, armour and shields they do not make, nor other weapons or tools used in war. Among them, not one shall be found who engage in such activities as may me misused by people, even if they may belong to the peaceful trades. Therefore, they never dream about becoming merchants or brokers, since they abhor everything that may tempt them into greediness. Slaves are not found among them, they are all free and serve each other. They reject all authority, not only because it violates equality, but as it is something godless because they are against violation of nature’s law that give birth to everybody as equals and raise all as true brothers. Now, this blood-brotherhood is being broken by greed, giving rise to disagreement instead of peace, hatred instead of love.
Logic, as a part of philosophy, they leave to the sophists, since it is not required for gaining virtue. Investigation of nature is left to the high-flying sophists except for what applies to the study of the nature of God and the creation of the universe. It is only to the morals and right conduct that they apply all their power guided by the law of the forefathers, which nobody can fathom who has not been touched by the spirit of God.
They are constantly being taught these laws, but particularly on the seventh day which the hold sacred and let all work lie. They then go to their sacred places which they call Synagogues, and here they are seated in a certain order according to their age and prepare to listen. One reads loudly from the holy books, after which one of the more experienced explains the unclear passages. B e c a u s e m o s t
o f t h e i r s c r i p t u r e s a r e o f s y m b o l i c o r a l l e g o r i c
o f t h e i r s c r i p t u r e s a r e o f s y m b o l i c o r a l l e g o r i c
c o n t e n t *) such as with the ancient philosophers. They are being taught piety, holiness, fairness and how to treat individual or common affairs, knowledge of the true good or evil or indifference, how to chose the good and flee from evil; all this they treat from a threefold point of view – namely love of God, virtue, and their neighbour. That they feared God is witnessed by their chastity that last all their life – their abstaining from swearing and lies – and their belief in God as the cause of all that is good, but not to anything evil. That virtue lies close to their hearts is demonstrated by how they despise money, honour and indulgence, their withdrawn and sparse life, their pronounced thriftiness, simplicity, self-control, kindness, piety, law-abiding and steadfastness. Their love of their neighbours is displayed by their good will, their unbelievably strange equality and their communal ownership that something needs to be said about.
Firstly, nobody owns a house, it belongs to all; their common dwelling places are open even to strangers that observe the same order of life. Further they share common money chests and share all expenses; they even have common clothes and share their food in communal meals. Such a communal order in matters of housing, way of life and meals are not found anywhere else. And this is easily understandable, for they leave to the community all that they earn without keeping anything for themselves. In this manner they provide for themselves and each other all that everyone needs. The sick and unable to provide for themselves are not left alone but are provided for by the community.”
*) emphazised here.
In the account by Josephus it says that the Essenes at sunrise prays ancient prayers in aid of the Sun, as it were. Their meals were holly acts initiated with various rites of cleansing. They are calm, steadfast and trustworthy. They believe that the body perish, but that the soul has eternal life.
On entering the order they are issued an axe, a white robe and a linen cloth that they use at community meals. This Essean community thus shows many traits that seem to be of Persian origins, among them the ethical attitude and the worship of the Sun. In the centuries before the common era the countries neighbouring Israel had many sects and secret societies heavily coloured by Babylonian and Persian influence. An ascetic attitude towards life was a prominent feature of these societies, and the idea that the soul is bound to matter as in a prison from where it may be liberated by rites of cleansing and a life of forsakenness, was not unknown. A so the secret Pythagorean societies in Greece shared a view similar with the Essean – probably because of the common oriental source.
Many have meant that Jesus himself either came from such an Essene society or that he had been influenced by their teachings. Certainly his teachings differ form the Essene, but that may be because he had liberated himself from their strict laws about unimportant matters, instead accentuating the essentials. The spirit that we find in the Essene order have much in common with what we find in Christendom, and undeniably, early Christendom shared many of the characteristics of a mystery society.
It is possible that there may be a connection between the Essean order-axe, and Jesus and Joseph’s capacity as woodworkers. Common woodworkers they certainly were not, - that is symbolic parlance. Jesus himself is described as a timber-man. The word used in the sources is the Greek Tekton – i.e. builder of houses. The corresponding Jewish word is banaim, builders of houses, maybe bricklayers. This word, banaim, is on some ways connected with the higher degrees in the Essean order – possibly as a collective designation for the initiates into the higher grades.
Paul also belongs to the “world builders” – he is described as a maker of tents. The word tent is being employed many places as a metaphor in the so-called “Damascus manuscript”, to be covered later.
In later years many new finds have been made that seem to confirm a connection between the Essene order or a closely related society – and Christendom. The pieces of the puzzle are becoming so many that this supposition begins to assume a high degree of probability.
It lies close to hand to suppose that the Jewish scribe Saulus – the cosmopolite, born in Asia Minor of Jewish parents in a Greek environment and with status as a Roman citizen – have organized the substance of the Essean teaching into a world religion of a universal character. He was to begin with one of the most aggressive in pursuing the Christians. He was sent to Damascus in pursuit, a prominent place for the movement must have had one of its main stays – to suppress them with violence. Such an aggressive attitude always will be labile, since it covers a doubt in the justification for one’s own cause. It is possible that he got second thoughts when seeing the standfastness and enthusiasm displayed by the Christians when faced with oppression.
Near Damascus, he is overwhelmed by a vision that causes him to become converted to the new lore. The episode incidentally has two different versions in the Bible. In Acts IX-7 it says that those that were with him heard the voice, but saw nothing. In Acts XXII-9, on the contrary, it says that his companions did see the light, but they did not hear the voice.
Another peculiarity in connection with Paul’s conversion is mentioned in the letter to the Galatenans, where he underscores that he has not received the teaching from any human being, but by means of revelation, something that maybe reveals his mystic nature. In connection with this, we may also remember his experience of light. In chapter 1. verse 17. it says that after his Damascus experience he did not go back to Jerusalem to the apostles there, such as described in Acts chapter 9., but that he instead first went to Arabia and from there again
back to Damascus where he stayed for three years before going down to Jerusalem, where he only saw Peter of the Apostles and stayed with him for fifteen days.
Ii it is a very strange fact that he immediately after his conversion did not go to Jerusalem – or at least that this other version is mentioned. For such strange information must be of significant importance.
It lies close to hand to think that after his conversion, Paul first needed to be initiated into the order and become educated in their teachings and interpretations – in Arabia and in Damascus.
The new finds that was made in the summer of 1947 at the northern end of the Dead Sea, seems to confirm that Cristendom stems from the Essene order or a closely related religious society. Additionally, the new findings shows a connection to the well known Damascus script that was found in the cellar of a synagogue in Cairo in 1896*) , that previously have resisted placement in a idea-historical context; the new find strongly suggest that this Damascus script stems from the Essene order
The first finds by the Dead Sea consisted of 8 parchment scrolls written in Hebrew and Aramaic – covered with wax and asphalt for preservation. Probably, the movement to which the scrolls belonged, been threatened with oppression and eradication. The scrolls were sold to a Jewish antiquity dealer in Bethlehem. Parts found their way to the university in Jerusalem, while the rest was bought by the Syrian monastery of Mark in Jerusalem, where the Americans were given the opportunity to take photographs of them.
One of the scrolls – entitled “The New Pact” - contains an account of the closing of a pact where “the children of light” promise to stand united in the fight against “the children of darkness” and not cave in for evil rule. This promise is being acknowledged by all of “the children of light” in the presence of priests and Levites with a solemn: Amen! Amen!
*) Published by S. Schechter: Documents of Jewish Sectaries – Fragments of a Zadokite Work. Cambridge 1910.
Language and syntax is closely related to the contents of the Damascus script and The Ascent of Moses, which we already know.
The main character in the Damascus scroll is the Teacher of Righteousness or perhaps more correctly translated_ He who teaches that which is right – The only one – The oldest teacher. He is identical to the founder of the society – the giver of Law who interprets the Law – The anointed from Aaron and Israel. He revealed to the society his holy spirit. Their messiah should be descended from Aaron and Israel, not from Judea, that represented FRAFALLET and should be haunted by wrath. They could not acknowledge Messiah as the son of David, since David had broken the law of the forefathers.
The movement left Judea and according to sources settled in Damascus where the new pact was made. Their leader – The sole teacher - died, but would someday return.
This sect organized in various cities and tent-camps. A city – it is not known where – housed their sanctities. The sect built their teaching on the Old Testament – in particular the Pentateuch that was given a particular interpretation, but also on a number of the Pseudepigraphia as for instance the book of Jubilee. The sect also must have been in possession of Pseudepigraphia that since have been lost.
This sect were in opposition to the Pharisees, to polygamy – the reason for king David’s unpopularity – to remarriage after divorce as long as the former wife were still alive. Through his Anointed, God made known his holy Spirit.
Dupont-Sommer, professor at Sorbonne, published in 1950 a book about the new find and the Damascus script, where the connection with the Essean society is given a thorough treatment. He is convinced that such a connection exist, and he makes the assumption that the scroll “The New Pact” have been the source of the New Pact – on Christian platform. He writes in his book: Les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte:
“All of The New Jewish Pact advice and prepare The New Christian Pact. The Gaelic teacher as he appears to us in The New Testament turns out as a strange reincarnation of The Teacher of Righteousness.
As him, he preaches repentance, modesty, love for one’s neighbour, purity. As him, he commanded to observe the Law of Moses,, all of the law, but the law perfected in accord with his own particular revelation. As him, he was the chosen and God’s Messiah – Messiah as the saviour of the world. As him, he was subjected to animosity from the priests in the Sadducees’ party. As him, he was convicted an executed. As him, he pronounced the verdict on Jerusalem, which, for having sentenced him to death, was seized and burned by the Romans. As him, he founded a society of believers that with burning desire await his glorious homecoming.
Just as in the Essean society, in the Christian Church the sacrament is the most important of the rituals where the priests preside. In both, there is at the head of each diocese an overseer – “bishop”. The ideal is in both churches above all unity, the coming together in charitable work.
All these similarities – I cannot here fully cover the subject – constitute an almost hallucinatory likeness. This question also raises itself: Which of the two sects – the Jewish or the Christian – are oldest? The answer leaves no doubt: The Teacher of Righteousness died about 65/63 BCE. Jesus – the Nazarean - died 30 years CE. Everywhere likeness forces or invite to presume a loan, the loan has been by Christendom. But on the other hand, the faith in Jesus, as formed by the new church, can hardly be explained without a real, historical activity by a new prophet, e new Messiah that have flared anew and become the focus of human adoration.”
Returning to Paul, the emphasis on his connection with Damascus hardly is just coincidental. Professor Frank Cross jr. at Harvard that has participated in later excavations of Dead Sea scrolls, have by and by became convinced that Damascus was a code word used by the sect for the society’s headquarters at the Dead Sea.
Then, we may understand the peculiar comment in Paul’s letter to the Galatians – that he did not immediately go to the Apostles in Jerusalem, but went to Arabia and Syria for three years. All of Paul’s written production incidentally is full of oriental Gnosis and mystery expressions, thus he often speaks of “Christ in me”.
Paul is a parallel to Aaron who was spokesman for Moses, as Paul has become with respect to Jesus and his teachings. The later excavations at the Dead Sea fully confirm the supposition that the sect was an Essean society.
The literature about these findings has become very large.
The times at the beginning of the Common Era were favourable for a new or renewed religion. And Christendom found the soil fertile as soon as it had been planted in the world. To understand one of the reasons for its rapid spreading in the first centuries after Jesus’ death, one also need to know a little about the Roman worship of the emperor that so to speak had prepared the ground for the success of the gospel.
The Roman Empire had to a large extent torn down national and cultural differences between the peoples, that had become included more or less solidly in a great common with an international language – Koine-Greek. The mercantile-political interrelationships reached levels never before attained. Greek spirit and Greek culture attempted keeping the parts together as a whole.
In these times of turmoil, when the peoples felt rootless because they had been uprooted from their former national and religious context, a deep deterioration ensued in the religious and moral life. Moral ruin and sadness spread in ever widening circles. People turned away from the gods of their forefathers. But through the din of the fall sounded the longing for the great peace, justice and agreeable living conditions.
With emperor Augustus, hope seemed to enter among all the despair. A new age announced it’s coming. The emperor was praised by the poets as a saviour sent from heaven. A national-Roman era began; reverence for the gods of old was restored. With Emperor and court in the lead, writers and artists followed in the work of restoration.
The ancient cult was started with Augustus himself as Pontifex Maximus. Temples were restored and new ones were built. But the old religious ideas were no longer alive – it all turned out as a more or less empty game or political powerplay.
Far more success befell an entirely new trait in the religious life - namely the worship of the Emperor himself as god. This worship of the emperor also had its roots in the past. It is known already from Babylon, and not least from Egypt, where the Pharaoh since about 3000 BCE had the title: The good god. Besides, he was considered as being the son of the Sun-god. Also the Persian kings were regarded as gods or half divine beings. The Greek honoured their great men and philosophers with divine adoration. Platon, for example, soon after his death began to be seen as the son of Apollo. Aristotle even had an altar built for him. Alexander the great was accorded divinity as the secont Dionysos and son of the god Amon. Seleukids as well as ptolomeians let themselves be adored as gods or saviours. Emperor Augustus’ official title was Emperor of emperors – chosen by Ptah and Nun – the son of the sun – forever living. In the year 9 BCE when the Julian calender was introduced in the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and the beginning of the year be moved to the emperor’s birthday, 23. September, it was written: “What could be more pleasing and useful than the most divine Emperors birthday that we rightly may consider as equivalent with the beginning of everything? He gave the whole world, that otherwise would have perished, a new look. – The day of the birth of the god was for all the world the beginning of all the good tidings that he has brought.”
Temples were built to honour him. On Alexandrian coins he was depicted as the Son of God. The emperor himself nevertheless displayed some restraint with respect to his status as god. Thus, he rejected the title of “Lord” in a religious context. Gradually it became customary for emperors to be declared gods – by the senate. No fewer that 27 emperors thus became proclaimed gods.
The title “Lord” or “God” was often used as an official title while they still were alive.
The emperors were accorded miraculous powers, the sick were healed; they could provide rain in times of draught and so on. Worship of the emperor became a part of the official religion of the state aimed at uniting the various peoples of the Roman Empire into one. All citizens were obliged to participate in this worship of the emperor, even if they were allowed to indulge in private religious worship as well. This international cult of emperor worship with its terminology undoubtedly contributed to preparing the soil for the acceptance of the gospel of Christ with its universal ideas and monotheism.
Also the great mystery-religions had broken boundaries between the peoples. The widespread acceptance that the mysteries of Osiris – Isis – Attis – Adonis – and Dionysos had, witness to the needs they had to satisfy.
Christianity was however to have its most dangerous enemy in the Persian mysteries of Mithra that had spread throughout the entire Roman Empire. Incidentally, a Mithra-temple from the time the Romans occupied England has recently been excavated in London. But Christendom brought something additional that the other religions lacked.
It was not only because of favourable political constellations that the teaching of Christ won – it won by its own strength, the universal human character of the lore and the universal need present for a religion that can liberate man’s bound possibilities and provide unification of outer and inner life.
Al creation of symbols – be it dream, art or religion builds on the past and its elements. It therefore is quite in order that old building blocks are used. What is new is the way the individual elements are arranged in a way that the contents and the total picture becomes new and in accordance with the development of consciousness and man’s fundaments. Therefore, it does not diminish the quality of a religion if elements from other or earlier religions are used. The main point is a new order – new contents – a new perspective – such that the religion becomes an adequate means of expressing man’s inner life and the right direction for development.
Christendom was a reorganization, new ordering and further development of the religious language. It represents a displacement of accent from the “Law” to the spiritual-emotional area, and now in the direction of intellect and logos, such that it may represent all areas of life. Only the culture that is able to orient itself in accordance therewith, have the potential for renewal and survival.
The inner aspect of Christendom.
Christ may a thousand times have been born in Bethlehem, but if not born in yourself,
your soul will be lost;
On the cross of Calvary he will hang in vain,
unless it is raised anew in yourself
In the four gospels of the Bible we find the account of Jesus’ life and teaching. There exist no contemporary document that may confirm his existence. The first to mention him is the Roman historian Tacitus, who mentions him in a brief remark in one of his books that he wrote about 115 CE. It is possible that his knowledge stems from Christian sources. Anyway, his information is of little or no value in the way of evidence for the historical validity of the character of Jesus.
In reality, it is a quite peripheral question whether Jesus have lived or not. The character of Christ in the Christian religion is of symbolic value – and as spokesman for timeless and fate-determinant lows and truths. It may sound paradoxical, but Christendom would be clearer and idea-historically of greater importance if it could be proven that he had not lived, or at least that his life had not been exactly as described in the Bible. Each individual then would become responsible for himself, for his own liberation and development. The intentions of Christendom then with far more ease might become a reality, because then one would not have the entirely literal content to lead astray to the degree that we see now.
If Christendom should depend on an outer historical one-time event, it would for example be of equal importance to determine the historical data for the Holy Spirit, which also has been accorded a literal action in history – in the shape of tongues of fire.
When Christendom wants to depend only on a historical claim, it builds on sand. If evidence suddenly would be presented, showing that the historicity of Jesus is not true, the entire framework would collapse. And it will, given the way it is conceived and preached today.
The Essean society by the Dead Sea is such a threat, because it is the missing link with other religions.
Ten thousands of fragments from hundreds of scriptures now have been excavated and shines new light into the dark corners.
It is becoming clear that Christendom is not the original contribution to world history that has been thought.
We find with this Qumran-sect – who did not call themselves Esseans – but “The society of the new pact” – familiar ideas, doctrines, sentences and ceremonies. Even passages from the Sermon on the Mount are found in these caves – written long before the birth of Christ.
These finds undoubtedly will revolutionize our view of Christendom and its contents.
It is no longer possible to claim that it came into the world caused by supernatural action. That is no longer belief - but SUPERSTITION.
The importance of Christendom lies on quite another level. And its reality is of quite a different character than we to this day have believed end tried to live up to.
The impact of Christendom form now on lies in that it may begin to engage the inner man and thereby also be relevant for mankind’s living together in a quite different and more far reaching manner than before.
Christendom may from now on become existential and relevant for everyday life and men’s structure in constructive manner that may liberate the individuals and prepare the ground for a global living together.
The elements of Christendom and its symbols, being of common human character may take hold in each of us and give development of society a new direction
Christendom thereby would become of immensely greater importance than it is today – and it would get fundamentally new perspectives, when its idea-historical importance is being accepted and understood.
The sooner the theologians dare leave the lost bastions and assume new, safe positions that can stand attacks by materialism, power struggle and everyday baseness – the better they may serve their calling as spiritual guides and birth helpers for citizens of the world.
These are thoughts of the scope required by the atomic age - if we are to survive!
The reality of Christendom is of mental and idea-historical nature. It therefore is independent of a historical reality for its symbols. Religions are a language of symbols; as long as this is not recognized it will be conceived literally and as a historical phenomenon – with the fatal misunderstandings that follows from this.
It is clear that the gospels were not written while Jesus was alive, not even shortly after his death. None of the gospel-handwritings that we have are originals, they are all copies; the oldest – a small papyrus fragment – was written in the first part of the second century and contains only a few verses of the gospel of St. John.
With respect to chronology the commonly accepted view is that the gospel of St. Mark is the oldest, written probably between the years 70 and 80. Yjen comes the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and Acts probably written around the years 80 to 100. The apocalypse of John probably was written shortly before the centennial, with the gospel of the same name originating a little before or after the same time.
The oldest scripts in the New Testament are believed to be the letters of Paul, with the earliest maybe written about 50 CE.
The three first gospels Matthew – Mark and Luke are called the synoptic, i.e. they may be seen simultaneously. To facilitate the work of analysing the material, they were ordered in three parallel columns since their contents were rather similar; they could then be looked at simultaneously, in other words, they were syn-optic
It is believed that after Jesus’ death, some of his words and accounts of his acts were written down. Such a collection of “sayings”; Oxyrynchus, were found in Egypt in 1897. It was a rather small papyrus fragment containing Jesus-words that are not found in the Bible. For example:
Unless you forsake the world, you will not find the kingdom of God; and if you do not observe the Sabbath, you will not see the Father.
I came forth in the world and revealed myself to the world, and I found them all drunk and no one sober among them. And my soul worries about man’s children, for they are blind in their hearts and see not themselves their poverty.
Jesus says: and so on.
In all probability, the gospels of Matthew and Luke are created from Mark and a collection of “Jesus-words.”
If all that the two gospels share with Mark is removed, what remain is mostly just such Jesus-words.
Since much of this are common to both Matthew and Luke, there is ample reason to believe that they have been created from the older gospel of Mark and a compilation of speeches, the so-called “Logia-source” as this hypothetical, but most likely collection of sayings has been called. The author of the gospel of Matthew has ordered the logia-stuff in 6 large speeches, placed where Mark provide an opening for that by first having referenced a few words by Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is one of these logia-compilations. Smaller logia-groups have also been put at various places in the gospel bearing his name. The author of the gospel of Luke, on the contrary, has placed the major part of the logia in two inserts – “the small” and “the large”, also called the travel account, with an account of Jesus being travelling for Galilee to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter.
It is not only the ordering of the logia that is different, they also differ somewhat from each other. This may be because two closely related collections of speeches have been used. The gospel of Mark probably was written by Mark – the apostle Peter’s interpreter. His mother’s house in Jerusalem became the meeting place for the first Christian congregation. This gospel of Mark probably was written with a pagan-Christian public in mind. The last twelve verses about the resurrection of Christ, are considered as later additions.
The author of the gospel of Mathew is unknown. It must have been written for pagans or Jewish-Christians outside of Israel. It attempts to portray Jesus’ life such as it was prophesised by the prophets. Therefore, the Sermon on the Mount becomes a parallel to Moses’ lawgiving on Mt. Sinai – likewise, the 40 days fast are known traits both from Moses and Elias. The author of Matthew stresses that Jesus’ acknowledge the Law of Moses, it just needs to be interpreted correctly.
The author of the gospel of Luke, who most likely also wrote Acts, may be identical to the gentile Christian “physician” that accompanied Paul on some of his travels. It probably also is aimed at gentile Christians. Universalism is more pronounced there than with the other synoptics. Therefore, this gospel contains an account about the 70 disciples (corresponding with the concept of the 70 elders and the 70 peoples) in addition to the apostles. Another characteristic trait that may be mentioned is that this gospel more than the others emphasize the dangers of wealth and material abundance.
The gospel of John is quite different both in form and content than the three synoptics. This also applies to such things as the location for Jesus’ activities. While the three first gospels places this in Galilee and lets Jesus go to Jerusalem for the last Easter, with John, the life of Jesus is mainly placed in Judah, and the account centred on five visits to Jerusalem during Jewish celebrations. The contents are universalistic and philosophically coloured, they were probably aimed at the Greek world, which to a large extent was influenced by the spiritual content of the mystery religions. *)
These four gospels gradually gain greater and greater authority to the detriment of the other gospels, as for instance the gospel of Peter, the Egyptian gospel and so on. About 170 CE, Tatian, a disciple of Justitianus compiled the gospels of Matt, Mark, Luke And John into a single script, the so-called Tatians gospel harmony, that became used by the Syrian church for centuries.
Quite early, the four lasting gospels must have become established practice to the detriment of the others. The church father Irenaeus tries to give an explanation for this. The number shall correspond with the four corners of the earth, the four major winds, the four faces of the Cherubs and God’s four pacts – with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Christ. But the reason it became four gospels instead of one, certainly also have causes. Among other things, one or more of these quite likely had gained popularity in certain dioceses, therefore there would be reluctance towards abandoning any of them also for this reason. Also, it is highly probable that it was considered of value to have a many-voiced apostolic witness. Both the gospels of Matt and John bore the name of an apostle, Mark was connected with the apostle Peter, as his interpreter. And Luke was a disciple of Paul.
The letters are mainly selected on grounds of the desired apostolic authorship. They were quite sceptic towards scripts that did not bear the name of an apostle. Therefore, the New Testament canon finally included scripts considered as having been written by men of apostolic times. Thus, the Hebrew-letter was included because it was thought to have been written by Paul. *)
*) For the many prophesies, parallels and discrepancies in the gospels, reference may be made to, among others, Werner Harenbergs’ articles in “Der Spiegel”, no’s. 15 and 16 – 1966.
*) Recently, new doubts have been raised about whether Paul actually have written all the letter attributed to him. His letters have been analysed by a computer loaded with statistical data. The results seems to confirm that only 4 or maybe 5 letters, namely Romans, 1. 2. Corinthians, Galateans, and possibly also Philemon are written by one and the same person, supposed to be Paul, but of course no evidence for this exist.
A large number of apocryphal scripts by and by were taken out, for example The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, The herd of Hermas, the gospels Peter, Andreas, Thomas and so on. The Apocalypse of John remained controversial for a long time, at least within the Greek-Roman church.
The New Testament as we know it, is the account of the house builder from Nazareth. It is his lore and life buit into a mystical framework of essential symbols about life, death and resurrection, the ancient images of the human mind about development towards consciousness and harmonic conduct of life, individually as well as collectively. Jesus reveals the pattern of how mankind is made. We should all realize the impulse of Christ. It is alive in us; we just have to provide conditions for growth.
The Saviour revealed man’s inner pattern by his life and by his lore – he had come to the world to witness for truth. He showed mankind the sign of Jonah – the mystery of death – resurrection – and life – transported from the sea to Calvary, i.e. from subconscious to consciousness.
After the death of Jesus, myth and legends soon began to be woven. The web became more detailed and artistic as time went by; the patterns were not quite new, even if the embroidery shows many original traits. Jesus himself, his life and acts, were placed in a mythological frame that should tie him together with God and the past as a fulfilment of prophecy. While Mark and John are silent about Jesus’ family lineage, Matt and Luke present each their particular family tree, but they are quite different for each other. The purpose in both cases was to try and prove that Jesus belonged to the royal lineage of David – a requisite for the true Messiah. But Jesus was also associated with God, he was not a regular human being. Therefore he was conceived by the Holy Ghost - thereby Joseph, supposed to be of David’s lineage was ousted. But thereby, the connection with David’s lineage also is broken.
By the end of the 19th century some interest was awakened when in an ancient Syrian hand-script the following text was discovered: “Jacob begat Joseph, Joseph to whom Mary, the virgin, was engaged – begat Jesus. Many wanted to see that as evidence that the virgin birth was something that had been added later in the history of Christendom. Even Paul seems not to have known about it. But the account of the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus is not affected by these words in the Syrian script, for all the rest of the chapter remains unchanged. The most likely explanation is that the copying scribe just mechanically repeated the same syntax as he already had been using 39 times before in the family tree..
The Biblical account of the wondrous virgin birth that belonged within the frame of the great divine characters, probably stems from the apocrypha of late Judaism and the sects behind them – a concept that they most likely had adopted from other religions. It is a certainty that they had the old traditions behind them in the near Orient.
If the birth of Jesus and all that is connected with it had been supernatural in nature, it seems quite impossible to understand that his mother and closest associates did not acknowledge his divine nature. On the contrary, they thought he was mad.
Christ did not correspond with the Jews’ official concept of Messiah; therefore they have never recognized him as such. The Messiah of Christendom is lord of a world of Spirit and in the Kingdom of God that is in each and everyone of us.
The shape given to the character in the New Testament probably has a number of different sources. The society behind “The New Pact” did for example not expect him as a descendant of David.
At a certain time the Jews had two different expectations of Messiah. One was the concept of Messiah as the son of David – Messiah ben David – an earthly, literal ruler. This expectation lives on in Judaism.
The other Messiah-concept in particular related to the Northern kingdom, was the expectation of the Anointed as the Son of Joseph – Messiah ben Joseph – a concept that soon disappeared from official Judaism *)
But just this version must have found its way into Christendom, possibly via some mystery sect. It is worth noting that Jesus is said to stem from the heathen Galilee – from the Northern kingdom.
Many parallels can be found between the legend of Joseph and the life of Jesus – traits that are too numerous for them to be just a coincidence.
Jesus had 12 apostles, and later the 70 disciples were sent out – something that goes back to the cosmic heroes of the Zodiac, the tribes of Israel, the “elders” of the nation, and the number of peoples. When Judah falls away, Matthias is first chosen in his place – later, Paul arrives as the 13th. Jacob’s sons counted 12. When Jacob went to Egypt with all his house, there were 70 souls altogether. Joseph’s two sons, Manasse and Ephraim become included among the brothers. When Joseph dies, the number becomes 13. Also here, two are added to the original number – and the sum is the same, 13.
Joseph was an interpreter of dreams – of symbols – One-who-reveals—secrets as he also was called. Jesus often spoke in parables and images that he translated and interpreted. Both had insight into the world of symbols.
And they became themselves symbols.
Joseph was sold for 20 shekel of silver – as suggested by Judah. Jesus was betrayed by Judas – the Greek form of Judah – for 30 pieces of gold. The different numbers probably are significant for succeeding steps of development. Joseph and his work is in the domain of the soul and the material world – corn was his means of liberation. Jesus and his world are at the spiritual level. Thought – spirit – has become conscious road to salvation and decisive reality. This is underscored also by Jesus, according to legend, being placed in a manger. Corn – the plant – is replaced by Man.
*) See: Das alte Testament in Licht des alten Orients by Alfred Jeremias, Leipzig 1930.
Joseph was thrown in the empty well that became the entrance to glorification. Jesus was placed in an empty crypt at Calvary, the name of the roof of the skull covering the brain. Jesus and his lore therefore lie entirely on the level of spirit. Man’s consciousness and soul have become alpha and omega.
Both Jesus’ birth and death are connected with the name of Joseph, since the crypt belonged to a Joseph of Aramitea, Joseph and his father both went to Egypt – as did also Jesus and his father. This heavy emphasis on the Nile-country expresses a unity between Judaism, Christendom, Egyptian mystery religion and the monotheism that had its origins in Egypt. We may remember that Joseph was married to the daughter of the high priest in the city of the Sun – Heliopolis –On.
Joseph was preferred before his brothers by his father. Among other things, he was given a royal robe. Jesus for his part stood in a particular and loving son-relationship with his heavenly father. Also the robe of Jesus was particular. It was without seams – woven as one piece – the symbol of spiritual coherence and unity of the soul. The robe of Jesus did not look like the emperors – his kingdom was not of this world.
Joseph went obediently to his brothers in Sikem, even if he knew the dangers – a parallel to Jesus trip to Jerusalem. For both of them, blood was used as evidence for their death; Joseph’s bloody, torn robe was shown to his father. And blood and water flooded out of the wound of the Saviour.
In Reuben’s speech of defence one may recognize Pilate. Ruben, as the oldest of the brothers should have been in command in the same way as Pilate had command over Jesus – as representative of the Roman Empire.
Joseph resisted the temptations of Potifar’s wife – a theme being the main motif of a very popular and widely read Egyptian story.
Nor did Jesus fall when tempted by the devil. But it may be noted that the temptation facing Jesus was of an entirely different character – spiritual values were at stake.
Both Joseph and Jesus were imprisoned and accused of crimes of which they were innocent. The one was imprisoned for 3 years, the other spent 3 days – a number probably related to the cycles of the moon. It takes 3 days from the smallest no to the newest new. In the prison, Joseph met pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. One was released to freedom; the other killed and hung on a tree. We recognize the two bandits on the cross – one would be going to paradise. That the cupbearer was to survive must be because he represented wine – the spiritual principle. In earlier times it was thought that there was a spirit – spiritus – that cause the particular effect.
On the other hand, the baker symbolise the material – corn must perish. Further development would continue with the great successor to Joseph.
Both Joseph and Jesus begin their work at 30, probably as an expression of maturity. For both of them, debasement and suffering became the starting point and the road to glory. Joseph also was called Zofnat- Paneah, - the World’s saviour, a title also applied to Jesus. The two saviours both were thought to be dead. But death was not real – it was of a symbolic nature. “Death” was a necessary prerequisite for the ensuing glory.
Joseph was of a forgiving nature; he did not return is brothers evil. It was also the principle of Jesus to break the power of evil by meeting it with love and understanding.
Joseph’s identity was long held hidden from the brothers until he gave himself away to them. It also lasted long before Jesus revealed to them his identity – as Messiah.
There is in the legend of Joseph also an element of a consciously arranged accusation – leading to “arrest” – “trial” – and clarification with a consolidation of the house of Jacob with joy – a parallel to what took place at Jesus’ death. We refer to the account of how a silver beaker was placed in the bag of one of the brothers at his departure from Egypt.
The travelling party was apprehended – ransacked - the whole party was returned – with the ensuing result.
Dr. Hugh Schonfield – well known Jewish historian- who also have written the books “The Jew of Tarsus – a Life of Paul” – “Saints against Caesar” – “The Authentic New Testament” (Schonfield’s own translation of the new testament) – “The Secrets of the Dead Sea Scroll” and “The Bible was right” , shortly before Christmas 1965 sent a torch into the religious debate with the book “The Passover Plot” – or “The Easter Plot”.
Schoenfeld has ever since his younger days and throughout a long career as researcher been occupied with Jesus and his relationship with the religious and social conditions in Palestine at the beginning of the current era.
Sconfield makes the supposition that Jesus, being from “heathen land”, Galilee was a person deeply and seriously worried about the salvation of his people from fall and destruction. The land was occupied by the Romans who ruled with iron, blood and crucifying.
He studied the religious scriptures very thoroughly, and by and by, he came to the conclusion that he was the Messiah intended to save his people. He knew all that had been predicted about him in the holy scriptures and therefore could proceed according to that.
Schonfield is of the opinion that Jesus – who also had learned from the Essenes and other sects, - particularly the Nasarenes, - made a carefully prepared plan for action – to culminate in death on the cross – which he intended to survive according to a carefully thought out plan – of which incidentally the apostles were not informed so that he had to rely on helpers outside of apostolic circles.
The plan was carefully made such that Jesus calculated that court proceedings and crucifying would be executed in a way that would ensure he would hang on the cross only for a few hours- because the next day would be Sabbath. The law required the bodies to be removed by then.
This execution method was preferred by the Romans, and it was not by itself fatal. Death came after a prolonged time because of pain, exhaustion, thirst and hunger. It all went according to plan. Schonfield assumes that Jesus by a helper was given some kind of anaesthetic from the sponge that he was given, so that it would seem like he was dead. The story tells that shortly thereafter, he gave up his spirit.
After having been taken down, he should be taken care of by his helpers - so that he might survive. In this manner Jesus thought that the prophecies would be fulfilled – they do not say that the Messiah necessarily should die – but that he should be spared death.
But the plan failed on an important and unforeseen point. A Roman soldier not being convinced that Jesus was dead, pierced his side with a lance – and his life could not be saved.
Schonfield seems strangely enough not to have been aware of the parallel between Jesus and the Legend of Joseph, - but the moment of the fake accusation seems to support the supposition about a connection – perhaps the way Schonfield suggests.
The clear parallel between these two saviour-characters that nobody before seems to have been aware of – becomes clearer with the continued study of the Dead Sea scrolls. The British scientist John Allegro, lecturer in the Old Testament at the University of Manchester and member of the 8-man team working on the translation of the scrolls, in January 1966 made a statement that the study of the scrolls may lead to the conclusion that for instance the apostles are not historical persons – but rather mythological characters signifying among other things positions of office in the sect of the Essenes – for instance the one entrusted with the handling of money.
Judas is in John XIII, 29 described as the one carrying “the purse”, i.e. the keeper of the money. In Aramaic, this is “ish sacariob” – the name Iskariot is easily recognizable.
There now seems to be sufficient grounds for the view that the gospels also are a framework around the central secrets of existence with the Jesus-figure and the Christ-impulse at the centre.
As a curiosum, it may be mentioned that in 1883, an exhibit of three ancient parchment scrolls found in a cave by the Dead Sea, was shown in the British Museum. The find was however considered a forgery, and nobody knows what happened to these scrolls.
All the common elements that I have mentioned show that traits from the legend of Joseph must have been used in creating the mythical framework around Jesus. They share too much in common that it may be just coincidental.
The symbols of the latter version are to some extent been applied in a new manner in another setting – another aspect. Evolution has progressed to a new level, with emphasis shifted from the body-soul sector to man as a spiritual being. Corn therefore no longer serves as the means of salvation. The mission of the character of Joseph has come to an end. The new saviour of the world should work on the level of mentality.
A discontinuity in time had arrived, when man should realize himself as a being of spirit.
The cupbearer – representative of the spirit - shall satisfy the possibilities of man – therefore he was given free. One character has retained his function quite unchanged, namely Juda – Judas, the one who sets suffering in motion – the prerequisite for realization, liberation and the new life. In this respect, man can hardly be expected to change. The greed for money – materialism – even then got suffering going.