THE CASE OF THE MISSING MESSIAH
by ALVIN BOYD KUHN, Ph.D.
The case of the missing messiah
Souls migrate to earth
Groping amid shadows
The voice of ancient Egypt
Wisdom hidden in a mystery
A ghostly voice from the past
Critique of the esoteric view
The coming of messiah
Was Jesus the founder of Christianity?
Scriptural writing was allegorical
Precariousness of the evidence
How was the logos made flesh?
Where was god before 33 A.D.?
In 1944 the author of this essay published his volume "Who Is This King of Glory?" It stood as perhaps the most forthright and uncompromising critique of the fundamental tenets of Christianity that has been put forth up to that time, or even to the present. It assembled and correlated a vast body of documentary and factual data which, if it could not be successfully confuted, rendered the verdict of the non-historicity of the Gospel narrative and its central figure, Jesus of Nazareth, final and no longer controversial. Its thousands of readers are almost unanimous in the conviction that it closed the case beyond debate and on the negative side. In the wide sweep of its searching survey, all that hitherto had, in the general mind of religionists, been assumed to stand as solid historical substantiation of the physical life and exalted preaching of the Nazarene personage disappeared completely from view; or at any rate was seen as incompetent to testify in the category of historical evidence. While on the other side, the more minute the examination of the data adduced, the higher the mountain of evidence piled up in disproof. In fact, when the question was canvassed with the lens of a discerning knowledge of ancient esoteric practice and schematism in the inditing of religious literature, it was found that there was virtually no evidence that could be accredited as factually historical in support of the existence of Jesus. And just as surprisingly it was seen that all the evidence that could rate as historically authentic was marshalled on the contra side. In fine, all the evidence bore heavily against the thesis, and what had been assumed to be evidence for it vanished into the mists of allegory.
This astounding determination of course found little acceptability in orthodox religious ranks. It seemed incredible that all Christian scholarship, all theological erudition, over some eighteen centuries could have been either unconscionably blind or hopelessly stupid, or consciously knavish, that it could either have totally missed the discovery of this glaring error, or could have successfully conspired to suppress the truth and permit the Christian system of beliefs based on the life of this dramatic character dominate the mind of the most progressive half of present humanity for nearly two millennia. There is no question but that this complication in what is undoubtedly the most significant and fateful item in the field of religious hypnotization in the Western segment of humanity is both supremely incredible and totally incomprehensible to the general mind. That one scholar, working almost alone and in obscurity, should now establish beyond dispute (though it will be disputed) what the learned gentry of the world had missed for so many centuries, is likewise a prediction that will not find credence anywhere. This observation, however, need not appear so exceptional a phenomenon, since the discoverer is ever the one who singly has come upon some secret, some great truth, that all the world has missed. It is the presupposition in all discovery.
The debate is one that could hold the fate of our world in the balance. It would be difficult to adduce a general theosophical concept more fateful for the world (or the Occidental half of it) than the idea that man must discount his own powers, indeed surrender them abjectly, and look for his salvation to a power exterior to his own proper endowment, and not integral with that endowment, in all the crises in his history. The question whether man is the architect of his own destiny under universal cosmic law, or must turn to an outside power to plead for his salvation, is ultimately the most crucial psychological determinant in the realm of his conscious being. It represents the difference between his acting in the first case resolutely on the highest knowledge and wisdom available to him, and in the second instance, defaulting in any action and cowering in craven spirit at the feet of the postulated saving power, begging for a blessedness he frankly confesses he does not merit.
The eminent psychologist Jung has now elucidated the disastrous psychological determent of holding the Messiah-Savior concept as presented by the religionists. It is the simplest of logical theses, that by as much as the human focuses his interest, his faith, his yearnings, his cries of distress upon a power extraneous to himself, by precisely so much does he commit to atrophy a power that all true religion has predicated as innately potential within himself. And it is as mathematically as precise in its operation as it is logically sound in theory. In proportion as you use a crutch you will lose a muscle.
Probably in the end the division of ancient religion into the two categories of exoteric milk for babes in wisdom and esoteric meat for stronger minds, was fundamentally one that made religion a matter of the science of personal development of the individual’s own inner spiritual capabilities; or made it a cultus of powers localized in gods or deific powers external to man’s own nature. The capable and the instructed were taken into the mysteries of the spiritual kingdom within; the less capable were taught "in parables", that is, regaled with stories that could be apprehended for initial benefit in their bald literal form, so framed as to carry obvious moral lessons. When Christianity made its appeal to the mass of the ignorant populace, it purveyed this sort of teaching, which shortly it permitted to be taken and canonized as the truth of the Gospels. Hence the religion of exoteric teaching that in popular conception reduces always to factual untruth, came to dominate the Christian world, the esoteric sense being sequestered with the few philosophers in their secret studios.
Therefore the question of the historicity of Jesus is for the West the most vital and critical one in the field of religious philosophy. It needs no abstruse psychological dissertation to establish the point that the fateful issues of history now as always hinges upon whether human groups are moved to resolute and forthright action on the knowledge that their problems must be met and solved by the best initiative they are capable of, or whether, though Sons of God in their own right, they can stand inert and helpless, while crying to their supernal deity to save them the trouble of saving themselves.
The cultus of an external divinity binds man’s hands tight in the pleading attitude of prayer. This form of religious expression certifies man’s surrender of his divine potential to an outside power. A digest of the whole argument can be put forth in the sharp and graphic statement that the issues of history depend upon the human choice in religion between our acting upon our own initiative in dependence upon our own powers, and our running in prayer to an overlord of life localized somewhere in the cosmos. The running to God with all our problems in prayer, as Jung says, keeps the potential divinity within ourselves in the weakness of its childhood. By ignoring it we leave it unexercised and undeveloped; we give it no chance to exert its fledgeling energies and thereby grow.
It is true to the last degree of verity that mankind will never rise to the status of conscious lordship over its destiny until it turns from the worship of gods exterior to itself and cultivates the deific forces all too latent within its own nature. Shocking as it is going to be to the pious, but psychologically true past debate, it must be stated that it is precisely this hypostatized figure of the historical Jesus that stands between man and his own divinity, and blocks the path of each human to his God. For while he fills all their vision and receives the full meed of their devotion, they, as Jung says, neglect to make real the divine power needing attention and cultivation within themselves. Not until "he" is removed out of the way will Western man come at last to the realization that whatever salvation is available to him will be that released by the birth of the Sun of Righteousness, rising with healing in his wings, from out the depths of his own combined human and divine natures.
An errant religious bent that turned the heart and mind of the West to seek sanctification from a power localized outside the human individual, gave rise to the cult of miracle, evinced strongly in most religions, but excessively in Christianity. Not the power at work in the natural order, but a power able and disposed to manifest supernatural phenomena became the focus of religious unction. It was along this path that religion proceeded from the grounds of a sound and efficacious spiritual science to the overweening eccentricities of a pseudo-magic. In this diversion from true line it transferred the seat of spiritual culture from the inner courts of the human nature and endowment to the outer thrones of a power always dubiously localized. The most succinct form in which this disastrous transfer can be expressed is to say that it caused man to look for "miracle" outside himself and not within himself. From the limited purview of the human it is no overworking of poetic or mystical propensity to aver that life is all miracle. The mortal who does not find ground of eternal and ever-deepening wonder at the stupendous magnitude, order and majesty of nature and the cosmos, is lacking in all the rudiments for any culture. There is no end of marvel as well outside man’s little sphere of personal being as in the depths of his own selfhood. Both should elicit his adoring reverence.
But it is ever the miracle within the human soul that religion, as distinct from secular human physical science, must cultivate and place in living control of life, if human life is to be harmoniously related to the world, to the body, to the orderly course of evolutionary progress. There is not observable any power in the world of physical nature, such as it is asserted the ancient uncivilized tribes of the forest and the sea isles personalized djinns, kobolds, salamanders, pixies, gnomes, dragons, elves and nature sprites, wood nymphs, dryads, oreads and Pan-Gods, that in any direct way co-act with or effect the conscious ordering of the individual human life. The final initiative and the responsible authority in the shaping of our life reside deep within, proceeding from an inner core of consciousness.
Even the most unbending Fundamentalist orthodoxy must see that its basic concept of sin, through which man forfeited his right to any divine consideration and made his salvation dependent only on cosmic "mercy", is itself disqualified dialectically if it is asserted at the same time that the power that alone can save man is a power outside and beyond his own range of control. For sin is not sin if it is not perpetrated in violation of conscious control and responsibility. And responsibility can be charged only against an agency that is in conscious control of the order and process infringed. The error and illegitimacy of the sin theology reside in the fact that it at one and the same time charges the human (and from the very first moment of his creation) with the responsibility of obedience to divine law and amenability to the penalties of its violation, yet refuses to commit into his hands the crucial and final power to save himself from sin. In the same breath it asserts that man will be punished for sin, but that the saving power is not in his hands, but in God’s. Christian theology has ever held this anomalous, this self-conflicting doctrinism, which indeed makes indigestible hash of all its vaunted message of salvation. Out of one corner of its mouth it threatens its devotees with the horrendous penalties of sin; yet from the other corner it protests that no power within themselves can save them from sin, that they are in fact doomed to sin, and must cast themselves on the mercy of a power immeasurably beyond their reach, in the hope that their pleadings may chance to be favorably countenanced by an arbitrary and, from the record of his dealings with his people in the Old Testament, a whimsical, capricious, jealous and vengeful Deity.
The inherent absurdity in all this arises, however, from the same stupid blunder, the wretched failure of esoteric genius in the first Christian centuries, the mistaking of outward representations of inner deific powers in man for outer deities themselves, which gave rise to the idea of man’s sinning against a power outside himself.
The ancient exalted arcane science of the soul rested on the principles of knowledge underlying the origin, constitution and destiny of the divine essence of spirit incorporated successively in mortal bodies. It dealt primarily with the interrelations subsisting between the four basic elements of his conscious existence, sensation, emotion, thought and spiritual aspiration, for out of these interrelations came the evolution of his inner bodies making possible the expansion of his conscious being. The deeper intricacies and involvements of this science were the secret teaching of the arcane spiritual brotherhoods, and were perforce confined to men of the highest development.
The point of great moment is that nowhere was there in the manuals of this great science the predication of the need of any item, element or factor of force, in any form or degree essential to the perfect operation of the telestic technique, for which the aspirant had to look outside himself. All the agencies necessary for the normal perfection of the theurgic unfoldment were in man’s own hands, innate elements in his own constitution. Nowhere was there the postulation of the need for the human to reach out beyond his own endowment, to grasp at a power whose extraneous aid would be decisive or in any way crucial for his success. It was the science of man himself, soul and body, and the soul itself being the God-potential lodged within the area of his own range of consciousness, and needing only to be cultivated to its growth to glory. For the injection of any exterior influence to modify or implement the transaction, there was no need, there was indeed no place. The idea of his having to plead with a God without, when he already sheltered the god within, was a development only made disastrously possible by the fatal debacle of sense and sanity that turned sublime esoteric truth into a reason-devastating theology.
In the true soul science there is, therefore, no place for the concept of salvation through any force, potency or agency impingeing upon man from outside, and above all from a radiation engendered by and in the physical body or life of any one man in history. The predication of such a force has afflicted the mass consciousness of the Western world with the most direful of all tragic delusions ever to derange the human reason. Those who contribute to the perpetuation of this delusion do but prolong the crucifixion of the Christos still nailed on the cross of low human grossness, bestiality and ignorance.
The "present writer" has no wish to be considered an iconoclast, much less an "anti-Christ", nor even an anti-Christian. He has no fell purpose to smash sacred images, either physical or mental, that have dominated, whether for good or evil, the minds and hearts of humans.
But--since many of the readers of this essay will be those who look to the stars in the heavens for the rationale of human actions and character traits--he may state that he was born in the last moments of the sun’s occupancy of the sign of Virgo,--September 22--and that the ordinary account of the characteristics of the Virgo native as found in any authentic work on the zodiacal significances, positively reads like a description of his mental traits and qualities. Being a pronounced Virgo, then, he will not shrink from the imputation of being powerfully influenced or motivated by the pronounced flair of the Virgian, the passion to have things as exactly right and true as it is humanly possible to get them. When, of course,, this predilection is not exercised with proper intelligence and balance, the Virgo person can become a meddling, nagging, censorious dog-in-the-manger sort of critic and snarler at everything. But--if the general principles of astrology can be relied upon to point to true intimations--even here he has the ground for presumptive defense against the charge of scurrilous and crass criticism that will seem almost sacrilegious to many, in the odd fact that his birth moment fell almost precisely on the cusp between the sign of the critical mind and the sign of Libra, the Balance. So that it may be presumed that he has the natural proclivity to exercise the function of meticulous logical analysis with due and rightful balance of all factors entering into any problem. Virgo is "ruled" by Mercury, god of the swift and nimble mind, and all in all, this brand of intellectual quality is quite likely to discern alike both the massive aberrancies of common thought (and in certain things the mass-ideation is always wrong!) and the subtle fallacies that persist in traditional obsessions of belief.
The statement in the Upanishads of India referring to the great universal mind-principle of the Atman pervading all things, that "by sharp and subtle intellect is He beheld", must allude to the Mercurial mind. It has unfortunately to be said, with only too much historical testimony to corroborate it, that in particular the religious life of mankind, where the forces of even the most consecrated devotion, faith and loyalty are predominantly in play, has been tragically twisted all awry by lack of the balance that should have been supplied by keen functioning of the intellectual faculty. The sapient Sages who laid down the canons of wisdom for the ancient Egyptians called the Christ-mind, which they prefigured as the seed power of our divine nature implanted in the very flesh of humanity, to germinate, grow, blossom and flower to glorious beauty in the course of evolution, the "Lord of the Balance", a configurated representation of one of the twelve radiations of his power. For his advent and eventually full release of power is to bring "peace" to the chaotic turbulence of the lower sensual, emotional and irrational elements that cause the Biblical "tempest" on the sea of human life and which can be subdued to beneficent function by the superior intellectual principle. This is St. Paul’s war of the "law which is in my members" against the law of the mind, and only with the coming in every life of the kingly rulership of the diviner reason over the seven "elementary powers" that generate the "seven deadly sins" will "peace" spread its benign mantle over the confused and disorderly human scene.
The tragedy of the debacle which ensued in that fateful third century and laid its palsy upon the mind and soul of Western man ever since, lies in the fact that the splendor of truth and the beauty and glory of illuminated consciousness that inhered potentially in the creeds, doctrines, rituals and the Scriptures of the ancient world only to be perpetuated in frightful distortion in the Christian upsurge, have been lost or turned into inane senselessness for the millions in the ensuing centuries. The extent of this loss and tragedy is beyond all calculation. The birth of that genius of grace and charity that will well up and set the human heart athrob to the impulses of love and beauty, and which, as old Egypt averred, comes continuously, periodically ever more and more, might have by now been far advanced if stolid ignorance had not held in thrall the surgent forces of the spirit, and turned the brilliant semantic ideographs of divine truth into the absurdities of alleged "history".
The transformation, the transfiguration of man can take place only through the marriage of soul and sense within the inner core of the human consciousness. As the Christian creed--an ancient formulary taken over from old Pagan runes and rituals--so well says, speaking of the descent of the son-units of God-soul into the life of the human body, the Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in heaven, and born of the Virgin Mary, mother-matter, body, on earth. "Begotten, not created" the creed says; i.e. begotten in heaven "before all worlds", but created on earth, as indeed all things are. They are conceived in mind, then created in matter. Where and where only must it be seen that this father-conception and mother-birthing of the Christ can be consummated? The answer sets irrevocably the seal of truth on every word of this essay: it can be consummated only within the heart, mind and body of every human being on earth individually and consciously.
The idea that it could be accomplished by one-only Son of God, a man not of our human order, vicariously for us all--and we needing only to "believe" this theorization to win its full efficacy for ourselves--must be written down as close to the crowning fatuity of all religious maundering. No god was ever sent to earth to transfigure man by saving him the evolutionary work of transfiguring himself. And no man will be rightfully, happily, efficiently oriented to this task unless and until he knows that within his own mind and in his very body of flesh resides that Christ-child who is in fact his own sonship from his Father. Through that realization, and through it only, can and will his entire dynamic of psychic energy be focused, like the sun’s rays through a lens, upon the seed-power of Christly consciousness and cause it to burst into flame. How sagely the ancient Egyptians spoke of the soul of Christhood coming to earth "to kindle a fire in the underworld".
The ancient Sages and Seers depicted the Christ-nature as a living flame dampened and often almost extinguished by the water of the fleshly corpus, or as a unit of divine soul shut up here in the body as in a prison, grave or tomb. In the Greek language body (soma) and tomb (sema) are the same word. These knowing philosophers represented the soul as a bird in a prison or a cage beating its wings ineffectually against its clammy dungeon walls. How is it to be freed, how is the imprisoned splendor to be released? In the Bible allegory it is declared that the soul must convert its gaoler, who with a change of heart will then let it out. This is the task of the outer man, the human, who alone and in the domain of his personal life can liberate the deity whose benignant rays of living love will transfigure him.
The infinite tragedy of the West’s religion is that, by directing the eyes and the devotion of its millions of believers to the image of a carnalized dramatic figure of two thousand years ago, he is all too likely to be missing from his place in their lives, in their hearts and minds.
THE CASE OF THE MISSING MESSIAH
In the swirl of the confusion still prevalent in human society it is tragically true that the unenlightened human mind conceives and fastens upon its plastic substance images believed to be the shapes of truth, which it worships as idols in its addiction to the propensity to follow hallowed ideals. It turns its ideals into idols. Much is owed in our modern day to the eminent psychologist C. G. Jung for his astute discernments in the consciousness of the human psyche of the presence and dominance of such "images" in the directional life of the world. These type-forms are for the most part the psychic deposit in mass mind of formulated and set immemorial traditions, generally alleged to have been derived from some divine source and in time fixated in tribal or national life by hoary custom. An almost universal legend of the provenance of a body of supernal wisdom vouchsafed to early humanity by beings rated as gods or celestials of superhuman order has prevailed in the consciousness of the ancient world as a whole. The sources of this world-wide persuasion of a divine heritage of human wisdom have been by modern savants consistently attributed to the childish imagination of primitive people, grasping in infantile ignorance at a comprehension or explanation of natural phenomena by anthropomorphic analogies. Thus thunder was conceived to be the roar of God’s angry voice, and lightning the fiery blaze of his wrath. But unless the time called ancient is pushed vastly farther back than the three to five thousand years at which we place it in current supposition, the "primitive" view of the origins of religious customs must be abandoned.
Possibly as much as ten thousand years B.C. there were already extant some of the world’s "sacred Scriptures", and the theoretical characterization of these revered tomes as documents of primitive child-mindedness is rebuffed by their obvious quality of philosophical, spiritual and ethical profundity and sagacity, expressed in the sublimest forms of literary beauty. They have won and held right down to the present the almost universal reverence of the most cultured elements of mankind. Indeed the homage paid to them has passed the bounds of regard for any work of assumedly purely human production and has taken on the psychological character of worship of a thing considered superhuman and hence called divine.
It is extremely likely that the best present sagacity in attempting to determine the origins of mundane culture-systems has not at all rated at its true interpretative value the challenging fact that the races of the earth have with virtual unanimity in past ages considered human life to be overshadowed, and in a more or less overt fashion ruled by the intelligence or intelligences of a world "above" that of the earth. Could human life on the planet have been generated and given initial push to self-dependence by the grades of divine beings standing next above man in the evolutionary hierarchy? In animal orders the young generation is parented and reared through youth by its progenitors, then cast adrift to fend for itself, with little knowledge of its connection with ancestry. Speaking from the large implications of analogy, it could well have been that the race of mortal men was thus fathered by the lower orders of the hierarchies of the gods, given rudimentary codes and formularies of wisdom by them, and then sent out to battle the elements of an evolutionary career with their own inherent capabilities. The accredited wise Scriptures were in all likelihood devised by our progenitors of a higher race as moral and spiritual primers for us, their children of a new creative cycle on this planet. Children of God, or of the gods, we are called in those Scriptures. And these Scriptures also refer to themselves as books expressing the diviner wisdom of gods, even hinting at their dictation by gods to "holy men of old", men high enough in culture at any rate to have been able to transcribe their sapient codes.
One of the Chaldean Oracles proclaims, with the human soul as the speaker: "I am a child of earth and the starry skies, but my race is of heaven alone." Since to be here on earth at all the soul must consider itself as the product of both a heavenly unit of spiritual essence and a physical earthly body, it has to include earth in its dual parentage. But since it can belong to no permanent line of being by virtue of its physical body, which disintegrates at death, it must assert that its true racial home is in celestial worlds, where its evolutionary gains in lives in lower worlds are garnered in imperishable "spiritual" bodies, as the ancient wisdom asserts.
SOULS MIGRATE TO EARTH
But, precisely as happens in the case of the individual human child, the youthful race of potential divinities had not at the start developed maturity of either consciousness or knowledge to enable it to utilize the codes of primal wisdom given it by its godly parents, and instead plunged into the adventure of bodily life in nearly complete oblivion of its celestial home ties and in initial incomprehension of the manuals of instruction handed to it by its progenitors. Wayward youth, faced with the enticing delight of bodily existence under its own power, turned at first almost wholly extrovert to enjoy the Lila of conscious life, paying little heed to the astute prescriptions for a well-ordered, restrained philosophical governance of its activities. In the exuberance of sensuous existence and the incitements of the physical procreative function and earthly interests, the young souls, as Plotinus tells us, "swung away as far as they were able", forgetting their origin in the palaces of the cosmic King of Life in worlds above. Like wild youths bent on adventure they plunged headlong into the exercise of their divine prerogative of creation at their own level, being young gods (junior gods, Plato calls them) sent forth from their Father’s house to try their hands at building a world of their own.
Only, said the Demiurgus, or Father-power, you must build your own little world in the image of the one I have created. You must not let errant fancy carry you off into the creation of bizarre worlds irrationally conceived. "See that thou build it after the pattern I have shown thee in the Mount, the pattern of the heavens." If you observe the modes and fashions of the physical universe in which I have sent you to grow into the mastery of life, you will detect the order and frame of the minor universes you are to fabricate.
In his great doctrine of the "oblivion of souls" and the consequent necessity of recovering the lost memory of celestial archetypes--oblivion and then "reminiscence"--Plato has presented the basic paradigm of human knowledge. Man has lost his Paradise and must recover it. However, it is a prime principium of all understanding of this basic element of knowledge that the descending Children of God do not exchange, as it were, the real gold of conscious bliss for the vile dross of earth. They lose nothing that they had ever intrinsically won by their own conscious exertion, which is now and eternally the only condition under which power or blessedness can be won. As babes and children of God in the heavenly kingdom, they lived only the dreamy life of yet unconscious felicity, as children do here. Bliss, to be enjoyed in all the fullness and sweetness of ecstatic delight, must have been consciously won in a polarized balance against opposition. The Christ consciousness must have been brought to birth in the soul’s battle against the Satanic tempter and tester. It must undergo on earth the trial by water, air and fire, the four grades of sensible experience. It must come forth tempered to finest mettle from the ordeal in the fiery furnace of human bodily passions, lusts of the flesh and desire and pride of life. Old Egypt’s books speak of the weighing of the soul in the balance of polarized energies here on earth--mistaken for some locale in the post-mortem state--and calls the place of judgment "the lake of flame and the sea of fire."
Thus, through the immaturity of youth and their translation from the unconscious potential of heavenly felicity to the initial stages of conscious existence, the incarnating souls found themselves confronting the world at the beginning of their active life in self-consciousness with no knowledge of the fundamental archai, or fixed principles ordained by their cosmic Father for the course of all conscious life. The pattern to which they would have to conform their creative operations within the sphere of their individual and collective activity, was at the start unknown to them. By virtue of their progenation from their Father and their inheritance of his nature which had been germinally imprinted upon the inner core of their constitution, they carried within themselves the seed potential of all possible knowledge of the pattern to be unfolded. But since this inner core was deeply buried under a series of coarser vestures, which soul had to put on as proper garments to meet the changed conditions of energic life on each lower level in their descent from "pure" being into conditioned modes of lower existence, the clarity of the primordial pattern was obscured to their vision. Greek philosophy in particular and with the clearest voice speaks of this obfuscation of our potentially divine vision by the soul’s descent into the "dark meadow of Ate" and the gloomy realms of a Plutonic underworld, wherein, as in the Proserpina myth, souls have to spend the half of each cycle of existence. The soul wanders long through the dim hall and darksome corridors of this benighted underworld, guided only by the Ariadne’s thread of the inherent instinct for truth, which speaks always more surely as experience brings greater knowledge.
GROPING AMID SHADOWS
A philosophical preamble of this sort has been necessary to clarify at the start the situation in reference to which alone it is possible to understand how and why the codes and majestic formulae of primordial truth, embodied in myth, drama, allegory, symbol, number graph, constellational pictography and finally in the sacred Scriptures, have become distorted in meaning, and from being helpful manuals guiding humanity safely along its evolutionary road, have been corrupted into the most calamitous misconceptions in all the history of human groping for knowledge. And beyond challenge as to its truth there stands in the historical record of our mundane culture the most horrendous of all misconceptions, the sad outcome of a decline of literary genius and philosophical sagacity about the second century of the Christian era, the incredible but actual confusion of the central character representing the potential divinity in our human nature with a supposititious man of flesh, the Christ in one physical body. The central figure of our innate godhood and type of our eventual evolutionary glorification as Christs, had been in all the ancient Mystery cult dramatizations, indeed was never absent from the ritualistic representations, nor was it misconceived in its reference to our own divinity. No one, even the most ignorant, ever mistook it, or "him" to be a historical person. Not until there had fallen on the collective mind of the near-Eastern world that incredible blight of philosophical genius which alone made possible the perpetration of the most fatuous and fatal blunder ever to obsess the human intelligence,--the mistaking of the dramatic-ritualistic figure of our potential Christliness for one man asserted to have lived in the period that was later fixed as the beginning date of recorded historical time.
How the truth of this direful episode in the course of the race’s history is ever to be brought convincingly home to the sober sense of the Western world is a question of the utmost gravity. So great will be the shock to traditional thought, so stern and rebuking will be the blow to our pride of knowledge, so severe the condemnation of our stupidity in our failure to discern the difference between allegory and history, so stinging the realization that the scholars of seventeen centuries could have been duped by a ruse of esoteric methodology employed by the Sages of antiquity, that the task of bringing the academic world to recognize and admit its colossal error will seem hopeless. Human life is largely a conflict between fixated persuasions, indoctrinations, established norms and dispositions of the collective mass-mind, on the one side, and sound reason on the other, and the latter often remains bound in subservience to the sway of the former for ages in spite of obvious considerations to the contrary. Those overriding predilections throttle the rational operations of the mind and hold it in bondage to the power of irrational elements that are fixed in sensual and emotional habitudes, or subject to the sheer automatism of custom. It will seem preposterous that such unconscionable ineptitude as was necessary to originate and then perpetuate so stupendous and tragic a mistake as was that of turning a spiritual principle or grade of consciousness into a man of flesh could have gained the day at any time and have completely subverted the profound spiritual-mystical sense of the Scriptures into ridiculous travesty of truth. That this is what has in fact occurred becomes positively clear and overwhelmingly demonstrated to any mind that will go deeply enough into the extant evidence to see its inevitable truth.
The rebuke to the crass stupidity of so many centuries of theological scholarship, great and incredible as it really is, will be as nothing in comparison with the fatality of the blow which it will administer to the basic tenets of the Christian faith. It will demonstrate that Christianity was originated in ignorance and was exploited and perpetuated by ignorance. A writer of obvious high status, Allan Upward, actually was impelled on the evidence to write that Christianity has the unenviable distinction of being perhaps the only religion that was founded completely on the fraudulent exploitation of false premises. The fine Swedish scholar, Georg Brandes, published a book entitled Jesus a Myth. Some forty years or more ago a coterie of capable investigators, J. M. Robertson, W. B. Smith of Tulane University, Arthur Drews in Germany, Dupuis in France, and others, put out books aiming to present the case for the allegorical interpretation of the Gospels and other Biblical books. The famous work of D. F. Strauss, published in 1835, The Life of Jesus, advanced the same thesis and threw the theological world into a stir of excited controversy. Renan’s equally famous Life of Jesus further embroiled the situation in turmoil. Possibly a hundred scholars of great learning have been led by their studies and researches to put out books questioning and many overtly denying the existence of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Their aggressive essays have carried sufficient weight of data and argument to have elicited books from the orthodox ecclesiastical side in efforts at refutation. And in reading these one really begins to be aware of the want of solid evidence, or even of convincing argumentative material to assure us of the historical authenticity of the Gospels. The case against the historical truth of the New Testament grows ever stronger, its defense grows ever less convincing. And in our own day we have a declaration from an authority within the Christian scholastic ranks whose utterance can not fail to command both attention and respect from all parties. Dr. Albert Schweitzer is justly rated as among the most eminent theologians of the Christian Church. His statement is put forth near the end of a work which demonstrates to any reader the stupendous range and thoroughness of its author’s survey of the whole field of literary criticism of the New Testament. Indeed his book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, stands as unquestionably the most searching, as well as the most perspicacious, work ever produced on this vast and complicated subject. We give his declaration for its startling significance and the weight of its incontestable authority. Taken from page 398 of his book, it reads thus:
"The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence.
He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism and clothed by modern theology in a historical garb."
This, then, is the grand upshot of the life study of one of the most consecrated, learned and respected Christian theologians. Yet it will be disregarded in ecclesiastical circles as if it had never been uttered. And the hierarchical power of the Christian Church will continue broadcasting the legend of its origination by the physically born Son of the Creator of the Universe, dispatched to earth in the year 1 A. D.
But beyond cavil the scholar who has presented the most telling body of evidence in the case for the non-historicity of Jesus and the non-historical basis of virtually all Bible books, is one whose monumental writings assemble such a prodigious mass of data of the most overwhelmingly conclusive character that the vested interests of the ecclesiastical world have had to put the stamp of official disapproval and repudiation upon his challenging books. Too dangerous to publicize his data by public refutation, his books have been given the treatment of silence. This scholar is Gerald Massey, and his six great volumes under the titles of The Book of the Beginnings, The Natural Genesis, and, greatest of all, Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World, each work in two volumes. When one goes studiously through these truly revealing tomes, the mass and character of the data presented leave only one conclusion possible: the existence of the Gospel figure of Jesus, considered as a man human born, is not a predication that can be accepted by a rational mind.
Considered from many points of view, these books of Massey are among the most strategically important ever written, since they establish beyond cavil the baselessness, the complete falsity of the claims and basic theses on which the historical edifice of the great Christian religion is grounded.
THE VOICE OF ANCIENT EGYPT
Rated as a minor poet in any history of English literature, Gerald Massey devoted forty years of his life to the study of the Egyptian backgrounds of the Jewish-Christian Scriptures. While never gaining the recognition due him as a great Egyptologist, it is obvious to any open-minded reader that he came many percentage points closer to understanding what the sage tomes of ancient Egyptian religious literature were really talking about than the greatest of the reputed savants in that field. With a mind emancipated by his discoveries from the inveterate persuasion of all previous study that ancient religious documents were childish mythology or crudely reported history, he was the first scholar to pierce through the veils of Egyptian nature symbolism to descry the forms of cosmic truth and spiritual law adumbrated by living naturographs. Finding here the lost keys to recondite significance in constructions that had been mistaken for outlandish history, he was able to redeem the great mass of Egyptian lore from imputed infantilism of primitive thought to the sublimest of esoteric formulations.
The picture of real history portraying the unfoldment of Christianity from antecedent religious and philosophical backgrounds, as it came out in ever clearer outline to his discerning mind, was one of the most thrilling and portentous that it was ever the lot of a scholar to envisage. The Christian hierarchy had for some seventeen centuries cried aloud the legend of the provenance of their religion from the life and teachings of the cosmic Logos, who was declared to have appeared for the first and only time (with hints of a second appearance proclaimed by many groups to be impending in the always immediate future) about the year one of the new era that was later dated from this alleged event. But the English scholar, scanning the great field of ancient literary production, was amazed to discover that virtually the entire body of extant documents in which the tradition of the birth and life of this Logoic personage was recorded, was to be found in the newly recovered and translated literature of old Egypt, dating back to as much as five thousand years B.C. One can imagine the shock and consternation, tempered by the thrill of discovery, experienced by this scholar, as piece by piece, book by book, the volume of literature asserted to have been first written by a half dozen men between the years forty to eighty of this first Christian century turned up under his eye in the vast mass of writing that had lain for some twenty-five centuries buried out of sight in ancient Egyptian tombs, temples and pyramids. We can vividly relive his experience, his amazement, his overwhelming sense of having brought to light a secret that would shatter a tradition that had gripped a third of the world for two millennia, that might shake kings loose from their thrones and overthrow the reign of an ecclesiastical system that had dominated the lives, both personal and political, of some billions of human beings by a baseless fabrication of historical assertion. What a sense of isolation must have been his as he stood in contemplation of the evidence which for the moment he and he alone held in his hands! For one has only to read those massive works of scholarly erudition to realize that at some one moment of his lifetime of research and brooding over the wondrous revelation of Egypt’s forgotten wisdom, Gerald Massey stood face to face with the realization, and with the positive evidence, that it was finally and conclusively impossible that he could be wrong in his deductions. A towering mountain-heap of solid facts had by then crushed out all possibility of his having arrived at an erroneous judgment. The case stood before him clear and indubitable; every item that might still support and save the Christian claims was closed off and ruled out. The whole Christian fortress lay in ruins before him. How was he to tell this story to the Christian world, that would regard it as a scholar’s madness? How could he make the world see it? His heart must have sunk under the recognition that he could never bring other men to see what he had seen so clearly. All, too plain was the fact that the mighty power of an established religious tradition and the terrible grip of a sanctified ecclesiastical system on the stolid mental inertia of the masses under the hypnotic control of a venerated priestcraft, all would block the reception of his epochal and revolutionary pronouncement. He would be the great modern Cassandra, doomed to be greeted by dumb unbelief when he announced his world-shaking discovery.
And so it has been. His fearsome apprehensions have been more than fulfilled. For its own very life the entrenched ecclesiastical system had to let his books relapse into desuetude. Yet, as affairs stand in the world today, the only chance for the survival of sane religion may be contingent upon their renaissance.
It has always been that when truth affronts the settled mores or dominant mental idols of the great human masses, it has to stand, as the Christians allege their personal Messiah stood before those who blindly disregarded his message, a helpless Lamb of God led to the sacrifice. Nevertheless it will in time be registered on the tablets of mundane history,--this shame of the failure of a world of potentially great sagacity to sense and profit by the epochal revelations of submerged truth in Gerald Massey’s prodigious labors and brilliant discernments, possibly surpassing for momentous significance the work of any scholar in centuries. Such has ever been the blighting power of indoctrinated religious fixations upon the common human mind. It is nothing to the Church of Christ that this great student of religion (and others in lesser degree) confronted it with a crushing array of incontestable facts, with a mass of documentary evidence tracing ninety percent of all its alleged first-century literature directly back to ancient Egyptian sources. When pietism becomes vested in gold and power and fixed habitudes of belief, an unwelcome and disturbing truth will knock in vain at its temple doors. And so it has been that the invaluable gift of truth and light made by this devotee of conscientious scholarship haunts only the dark recesses of second-hand bookshops and from that obscure academy seeks to spread its hidden radiance of truth out to a few stray researchers, who themselves lack the time, the patience or the insight to rediscover his brilliant legacy.
It is no rebuttal of this estimate of Massey’s greatness and depreciation of the immense value of his contribution, to specify that he committed two blunders, or formulated two misconceptions, in his vast reconstruction of the sagacious ancient Egyptian wisdom. He had gone so incredibly far in his repudiation of Christian theological orthodoxy that he could not dream that his negation of old beliefs had to go still farther to complete overthrow of practically all the fundamentals of Christian dogma. He therefore clung to two determinations of Christian systematism, the first of these being the mistaken meaning of the words "death", "the dead" and "to die"; the second being also the Christian mislocation of the Greek "Hades", the Christian "hell", the Hebrew "Sheol" and the ancient Egyptian "underworld", or "nether earth" of "Amenta". He never quite came to the perception that would have thrilled him all afresh, that this fabled "underworld" of mythology and religious drama was all the time this good earth of ours; and that the "dead" are those souls that inhabit these tombs of a living "death", our familiar physical bodies. (In Greek body is soma and tomb is sema, essentially the same one word, implying that the body is the tomb of the soul incarnating in it). The body is the "grave" of the soul in the ancient philosophical sense that souls descend into mortal bodies and there lie long in a seed-like torpidity--or "death"--until they are resurrected in a new "germination" (as the Egyptians called it) and renewal of growth.
The discovery of the recondite significance of these two basic items of ancient dramatic ritualism was missed by Massey, and is the achievement of only very recent studentship. While his apprehension of them would have lifted his books to a still loftier pinnacle of brilliance and lucidity, it is quite true to say that his failure to discern them does not too materially reduce the value of his splendid work. Never, perhaps, can his contribution be surpassed in the service it renders in demonstrating that all the Christian documents asserted to have been written about the hypothecated Jesus personage in the years shortly following his "life" in the first century A.D. were all the while extremely ancient literature of Egyptian religion. If scholarship finds that the "life", the acts, the sayings, the date of personal existence ascribed to a character claimed to have lived in the first century A.D. were all written down in documents of a remote antiquity, there is but one conclusion open to fact. The merit of the demonstration, the proof of this stupendous realization belongs to Gerald Massey above all others, though his work has had a vast supplementation by other writers, notably Godfrey Higgins in his monumental work, The Anacalypsis. If the world was not asleep in a vast hypnotization under the power of a tradition sanctified by time alone, it would recognize and repay its inestimable debt to Massey. It is a felt obligation of the present scribe to emphasize it to all who have a prime concern for truth.
Theologians have gone on for all these centuries speculating, controverting, wrangling over a thousand points of interpretation that arise in the study of the "life" of the predicated Jesus figure in the Gospels, when all the while Massey’s gigantic contribution held the keys to the resolution of every question. His voluminous work supplied a formula, the use of which would quickly have ended every debate. The line of the studious (mostly) German Bible exegetists from Reimarus to Albert Schweitzer in the course of their unwearied and sleuth-minded investigations into the whole body of Bible and even Apocryphal literature, have done a really thorough job of analysis, sifting and comparing of data, weighing fact against fact, canvassing possibilities or probabilities, building or demolishing theses on conjecture, surmise, presumption, straining the imaginative faculty to reconstruct situations outlined or projected by the narrative, hinting at scribal errors or the fraudulent machinations of copyists and redactors in the manipulation or mutilation of Gospel texts, seeking with often remarkable mental ingenuity to introduce rational order and acceptable understanding into the whole of the literary corpus on the basis of which Christianity was erected,--and in the end they virtually one and all confess that the entire predicament remains the more entangled, confusing and insoluble the deeper it is gone into. They find the problem grows ever more complex and indeterminable the more exhaustively it is explored. It ends in a vast mass of pure speculation (as Schweitzer has said) and virtually resolves into a guessing contest, the award of merit, but no decision, going to the cleverest guesser.
The more honest of the scholars admit at the outset that they have no firm ground of historical data to build upon, and that the whole effort must rest on the ingenuity of the speculative mind to discover some principles under which the scant facts of "history" can be subsumed with fair plausibility. Most, if not all, have found the task a hopeless one. A mind of conscientious integrity like Schweitzer’s was forced in the end to throw up the whole matter in despair, declaring that the Jesus personage was a creation of the imagination of theologians. Jesus’ alleged life, its acts and influence, Schweitzer saw all too clearly, were a web spun out of the theological spider’s body. He had the courage to say so. It was the same despairing outcome that led another eminent German exegetist, Baur, to fling out in the height of his mental impasse over the problem the really honest conclusion to which he had been forced:
"There was no Jesus of Nazareth."
And all this is what needs to be said now, what honesty should have led all investigators to say, and what nothing but a blind stupidity bred by the hallucination of a complete false indoctrination has prevented the thousand of scholars over eighteen centuries of Christian dominance from seeing and proclaiming. It can be said with full truth that every Christian exegetist who set himself the task of writing a "Life of Jesus" or a "Life of Christ" over all these centuries proceeded from and built his work upon the sheer assumption that the Gospels were factual histories written in the first century A.D., and that the historical existence of the man Jesus was a fact established beyond question or debate. Not a single one of them ever questioned his right to speak of this character with the designation of the third personal singular pronoun "he", which of course is applicable legitimately only to a known living person, when as a matter of simple fact, now more and more demonstrable, the existence of the man of flesh to whom the pronoun was made to refer had never been established on grounds of historical factual evidence. None of the host of biographers has ever had the perspicacity to discern that all proper reference to the Christ character and function, whose activity in the life of mortals was the theme of all ancient religious literature, could justifiably only speak of this power with the pronoun "it", or "It," if the capital was needed to carry the deific significance. Never had the mind of one of these writers opened to the discernment of the actual fact that the entire difficulty of the whole exegetical problem sprang from the terrible mistake, perpetrated by an age of ignorance, of mistaking the impersonal divine "It" for the personalized "He".
Massey was perhaps not alone in sensing this mistake, but he stands virtually alone in having buttressed the proof of it with impregnable scholarship in more than sufficient quantity. The full, free and frank threshing out of the vast contribution of his studentship could have led to the final insights that would have provided the only rational and unchallengeable principles of solution. He had discovered the one formula, the one prescription that alone resolves all confusion into clarity, all inconsistency and contradiction into rational agreement, all incomprehension into lucid understanding. And that key datum is the simple fact that the Gospels of the New Testament are not, and never were intended to be, veridical histories of first century events, were never the biographies of a living man, whether divine-human or human-divine, of that first century period; and that the Jesus figure was just the dramatized, ritualized type-character of our divine nature, mistaken after centuries of gross ignorance for a man of flesh.
When the mass mind has been long obsessed by an indoctrinated persuasion in the aura of religious sanctity, it remains impervious to all considerations from the side of reason. Had a stultification of this sort not occluded the mentality of the Western world under the influence of Christianity over the centuries, one item alone must at some time have broken into the perspective of studentship and demonstrated in a startling way the non-historical, the non-biographical character of the Gospel books. The convincing evidentiality of this one item, if sagaciously envisaged, can best be seen in the light of its relation to a supposititious modern eventuality. Let it be supposed that tomorrow’s newspapers should publish the announcement of the discovery in some near-East land of a "fifth Gospel", clearly related to and supporting the four of the New Testament, and apparently genuine and authentic. What would be the value of such a document discovered today? It would arouse the thrilled interest of all the Christian world; it would be held to be of priceless value; and it would be studied to the last syllable for additional new light and new clues to the life of Jesus. It would outvalue the Rosetta Stone and would be sequestered in some great museum.
Yet from Irenaeus, first Bishop of the early Christian faith in France, writing as early as the second century A.D. we have the statement that there was a "multitude of Gospels" extant in his day, and not only the four chosen for special reasons to go into the Canon at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Some fifteen thereabouts of these have come down to us, but they have been held to be of little consequence, and have been thrust aside as "Apocrypha." These were held in such slight estimation of value that they have been suffered almost to disappear and some such have undoubtedly been lost, the "Gospel of the Egyptians" being one of them. (It may be well to clarify the meaning of this word "Apocrypha". It has come to mean books that were not considered sufficiently in line with orthodox doctrine to be accredited or sponsored by the Church. Its true original meaning was quite different: it designated books that portrayed the profoundest esoteric truth in forms too recondite for the masses and that consequently were designedly held back from the people at large).
This situation, on reflection, presents such anomalies as to provoke in any thinking mind a critical observation that is of potential menace to all Christian claims based on the Gospels as reputed histories,--and all Christian claims are so based. It at once inspires the serious question, why, out of a large number of Gospels, only four were considered to tell the real story of the Savior’s life and were chosen for canonization, while the others were disregarded as not even worth saving. The answer is obvious and it is full of grave portent for the Christian claims as to the divine origin of the faith. For it proclaims in the most voluble, if tacit terms, that "Gospels" in those early centuries were not considered to be the biographies of one, or of any, living earthly person, but were held as the literary forms of a universal dramatical representation of the experience of our divine souls in the mortal body here on earth, ritualistic Mystery scenarios of mystic imagery and poetic pageantry, depicting the descent of our units of divine Sonship into the dark underworld of physical existence, their immersion in the deep dungeon, pit, grave and tomb of the fleshly body, their temptation, trial, suffering and "death" on the cross of matter’s opposition to spirit, and their eventual purgation, glorification (transfiguration), resurrection out of these bodily "graves" and ascension to their Father, who in the first place sent them forth to win the crown of conscious immortal life in their own right.
The "multitudes of Gospels" afloat in the world of the near-East in Irenaeus’ day were certainly not supposed to be the factual chronicle of the life of the Galilean peasant-God, or they would have been treasured in every last word and verse. And reflection brings us face to face with the next item that logically emerges from this discernment, the fact that on every open presumption in the case, the four which received the vote of certification for the Christian Bible were picked for the reason that in them the allegorical character of the dramatization was less openly, less patently discernible as it was in most of the others, being presented in a form which simulated a historical narrative. When it is remembered, or at any rate once succinctly determined as fact, that the very methodology of ancient religious writing of "holy Scriptures" employed the aid of semantic devices, nature symbolism (as in the New Testament parables), ingenious mythicism, adroit number graphologies (as three, seven, twelve and forty), and in some instances concealed the profoundest truths under the guise of legends, fables and paralogues, in short aimed to depict the deepest and most occult recognitions of spiritual truth and the realities of a higher conscious exaltation of our human nature, all under the construction of a human narrative, which also was then enacted either as a mystery play or as ritual, then and only then will the stupefied Christian mentality awaken from its childish enchantment to recognize that the Gospels are not histories of first century people and their actions. They will realize, as Massey so "massively" proves, republications, rescripts, reeditings of clusters of very ancient documents of wholly allegorical-ritual character, with the scenes and actors standing as the several type-models of the divine-human elements in the constitution of nature. For this determination, which many have often, but never with adequate evidence, surmised, Massey has assembled his gigantic volumes of indefeasible proof. He thereby merits almost the rating of potential savior and redeemer of the Western mind from an aeonial obsession of error which has in fact derationalized its intellectual sanity.
WISDOM HIDDEN IN A MYSTERY
In and under the lethal power of the mental hypnotization of the West by the historical interpretation of the Gospels, even the clearest statements, not to mention the covert, but plain hints at their allegorical character found in the Scriptures themselves, have signally failed to open blind mental eyes to the representative methodology of the ancient writings. In his Epistle to the Galatians (Chap. 4), St. Paul declares outright that the Abraham-Sarah-Hagar-Isaac-Ishmael story in the Old Testament "is an allegory". In Revelation (11:8) the mystic seer makes the staggering statement that "our Lord" "was crucified" in a "city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt", thus, if true, overtly contradicting the whole narrative of the trial and crucifixion of the personal Jesus in Jerusalem. In II Timothy (2:18) St. Paul states that the brethren should "shun profane and vain babblings" of such false teachers as Hymenaeus and Philetus, "who, concerning the truth have erred, saying the resurrection is past already," when, according to the very corner-stone assertion of the Christian faith, who at another place says that the whole Christian System of belief is vain and empty "if Christ be not risen," would write to the brethren warning them to give no heed to vain babblers who claim that the resurrection has already occurred and is now a past event! Likewise can we look to them to explain why the "beloved disciple" John, writing on the isle of Patmos (as alleged) in his age, should so far have forgotten the events of Passion Week, in which he had himself participated as the dearest friend of the crucified Galilean, as to have written that our Lord was not crucified in Jerusalem, but in a city named Sodom and Egypt, and a city to be thought of only "spiritually",--another translation giving it as "mystically"? Only rarely does any exegetist venture to glance, and then only tangentially, at such verses in their own Christian Scriptures. Never do they sense or face the patent implications as verifying a non-historical rendering of the writings. However, they display shamelessly their duplicity, when confronted with situations in which a historical literalness is too egregiously absurd, or involves elements of flat self-contradiction, by taking refuge from the obvious untenability of their position in recourse to admitted allegory. Yet the claims of allegory are denied when it seems possible to avoid the admission. Had they scanned the ancient field as thoroughly as Massey has done, they would have learned that in the remote time when spiritual Scriptures were conceived and put in literary form, allegory, along with myth, drama and ritual devices, was the method universally employed by the "inspired" originators of these venerable tomes of a transcendent wisdom and knowledge.
Writers among the ancient learned rabbins of Jewry state the case for the esoteric nature of Scriptural compositions when they specify three distinct levels at which the sacred graphs may be read, roughly described as the physical, mental and the anagogical (highest mystical), and that he who reads them only literally and factually is of all men the greatest "fool and simpleton". Only such men, they assert, attempt stupidly to read them thus. It is clear that the refusal of the Jewish party to go along with the early Christian sweep toward the new religion based on the "carnalized" Christ (as Massy calls it) was simply due to their knowledge that these misguided ignorant people were taking their venerated Scriptures wrongly by reading them literally. The Jewish haggada, the halaka, mishna and gemara, the Talmud and the Torah, were never taken historically until ignorance in time overtook the Jewish mentality as it had the Christian. The Encyclopedia Britannica in its article on the Essenes says of them that "they preserved in their libraries the writings of the ancients and read them with great reverence, but not without an allegorical interpretation." This is a tremendously significant datum, the importance of which is going to loom larger on the horizon of Scriptural science, more particularly perhaps as the consequence of an amazing new discovery of ancient documents which may vindicate the Essene approach to Biblical literature.
The academic world of the West is at this moment agog with interest both expressed and suppressed over the astounding discoveries of obviously pre-Christian documents running into the hundreds in caves some short distance back from the waters of the Dead Sea in Jordania. Through this discovery, the result of a Bedouin shepherd boy’s fortuitous impulse to toss a stone into the mouth of a cave near which one of his goats had wandered, we now actually have in our possession the great bulk of one at least of those Essene libraries. The books are in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic and Iranian. All that is wanting in our ability to turn these almost incredible discoveries to the fullest profit for our enlightenment is our willingness, or our genius, to read these hoary documents "not without an allegorical interpretation". (The books already put out by the most eminent scholars investigating the scrolls stand as a sad attestation of their blindness to the allegorical method. If this does not give way to a more esoteric conception of ancient sacred writing, we may lose the entire value of the sensational discovery.) But the scrolls at any rate introduce a totally new force of evidence that holds the possibility of compelling a most radical revision of the postulated foundations of Christianity. As one scholar expresses it, the appearance from out the remote past of these antique documents carries with it the potentiality not only of enforcing a great revolution in the traditional assumptions of Christianity, "but a whole torrent of revolutions".
There is not space here to enter into any comprehensive dissertation on these remarkable finds, but a summary of the stronger implications in the case might be condensed in the general statement that the books found in the great jars in the Dead Sea caves add close to overpowering testimony to the thesis that Christianity owes less and less to occurrences allegedly taking place in the early part of the first Christian century, and more and more to literary units that were extant certainly antecedent to "the time of Christ". If one might seize upon the phrase just used to present the new situation epigrammatically, it might be said that if the first thirty-three years of the first century A.D. may be legitimately dubbed the "time of Christ", certainly the period reaching back as far as the third century B.C. might just as justifiably be termed the "time of the Christos".
Fully equal in calamitous consequences for world religion with the transposition of the pronoun "It" to the pronoun "He," was the similar transposition of meaning from the prior use of the Greek term Christos (rather always ho Christos, the Christos) over to the Anglicized "Christ". For the shift of terms eventuated ultimately in a shift of the meaning, with practically the fate of millions of Europe’s best people determined by the issue, from the Christos as a spiritually immanent principle of divine consciousness germinating in the hearts and minds of all humanity, over to "Christ", the man of Galilee. The first meaning sanified, rationalized and exalted all human understanding of the significance and value of our earthly life, as the nursery bed of an experience that would birth the Christ(os) in all mankind; the second demeaned, derationalized and depressed all such human conceptions by depriving all humanity save one lone individual of the divine potential. For the exaltation and apotheosization of one solitary man to cosmic grandeur and exclusive Godhood inevitably reduced all others to spiritual poverty. His exaltation to celestial status and unique relation to the Father debased all other humans, for none could rise to stand beside the solitary paragon. The wretchedly bungled translation of the Greek monogenes as "only-begotten", in reference to the Christos principle, became, when that immanent principle was transmogrified into the carnalized man of Judea, the bond of a mental hypnotization that crucified all afresh the divine initiative and prerogative of man’s inalienable intellectual genius.
The transplantation of the meaning from an immanent Principle (fully deserving the capital P) to a man of flesh is the nub and core of the history of Western religion for the centuries since the third. That it has eluded the discernment of the whole of Christian studentship until Massey’s eye caught it, is a story of incredible opacity of intellectual vision that has now to be told. Quite independently of Massey’s illuminating revelation, however, and in this case without the same profound support of Biblical research and exegesis, the same great fact has been brought to light through purely psychological insight by our age’s most eminent psychoanalyst, the now venerable Carl G. Jung, of Zurich, Switzerland. His statements lifting the veil of misguided pietism from off the face of Christian misconception and exposing the psychiatric weakness of the orthodox Jesus-of-Nazareth thesis, are set forth in several of his most recent books. One briefer excerpt from these states the matter trenchantly and can be cited as the gist of the discernment:
"The Imitatio Christi (the imitation of Christ) will forever have this disadvantage;
we worship a man as a divine model, embodying the deepest meaning of life,
and then out of sheer imitation we forget to make real the profound meaning present in ourselves.
"If I accept the fact that a god is absolute and beyond all human experience, he leaves me cold.
I do not affect him, nor does he affect me. But if I know, on the other hand,
that God is a mighty activity within my own soul, at once I must concern myself with him."
Here is the heart, the gist and digest of what might be called the psychology of the whole religious history of the West since the Christian movement swept over its terrain. The Pagan world was motivated religiously by the spirit of Pantheism or Deism, which through common stolidity of the masses became warped badly into forms of animism and undue veneration of symbolic images, approaching fetishism in the crudest tribal civilizations. "By sharp and subtle intellect is He beheld," avers a Hindu Upanishad. And where intellect is not sharp and subtle--unfortunately this condition is all too ubiquitous--the popular mind shifts meanings always from a true inner or esoteric form of apprehension and experience out to the more objective periphery of sensual interpretation and produces the grossly unspiritual exoteric versions. Ancient theological sagacity distinguished between the two forms or levels of human recognitions of truth, so that the more capable initiators of religious systems organized religious teachings in two modes of presentation, namely the Greater and the Lesser Mysteries. Paul distinguishes the "milk for babes" from the "meat for strong men" in mental capability.
For a brief first epoch of its existence even Christianity had its inner and its outer schools, and kept even such a document as the creed in secrecy from the laity for the first centuries. Later, as is so dramatically stated by the Theosophical scholar, G. R. S. Mead, the whole mass of the plebeian population that (largely from the hope of economic and political deliverance from the oppression of Rome) had flocked into the Christian movement, overwhelmed the minority esoteric influence in the Church, broke open all the spiritual treasure-chests of occult teaching and scattered their sacred revelations abroad to the multitude, which, true to the Biblical allegory, became the swine that trampled the precious pearls of wisdom in the mire of ignorant fanaticism. The decay of philosophical insight that the Periclean Age of Greece had sharpened to such acuity and subtlety had progressed downward to such abject incomprehension of the allegorical representations of high mystical truth by the time of the third century A.D., that the few upholders and transmitters of the occult hierarchical teachings in the early Church could no longer hold ground against the pressure of exoteric unintelligence, and so it came about that the Christian movement was torn completely away from its original rootage in Pagan esotericism, and was swept far out on the sea of crude popular and always ignorant misinterpretation of august antique documents.
This, in fine, stands as the greatest cultural catastrophe in world history. Its incidence virtually blinded all later Christian view and negatived all possibility of discerning the primal spiritual verity of the Scriptural constructions. For it achieved the fatal goal of focusing all spiritual and psychological insight upon the one primary "Exhibit A" of the Christian system, the man of Galilee, as the locus of all value in the Christian life. With its gaze centered completely on him, the institution of the Christian faith became blinded, like a horse with blinkers, to the presence and blessing of deity around it on every side, and particularly within the individual himself. Jesus, so to say, blocked out of sight, hid from view, the occult truth of the Christos power in common man; he obstructed all view of the inner world, since to ignorance any idol of physical form can occlude all vision of the noumenal abstraction which it may legitimately be intended to depict. So it has come about, as Jung sees so clearly now, that when Christianity condensed all deity in the Carpenter-paragon of divine virtue, it destroyed its chance to develop its keener vision of the Christos immanence.
A GHOSTLY VOICE FROM THE PAST
Prof. Edmund Wilson, brilliant scholar and author of one of the books dealing with the Dead Sea Scrolls, notes with keen sense of its significance the reluctance of all the prominent religious parties, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, to face up to the possible implications of these new-found antique documents, and to admit the ostensible evidence of their age. All are in fact trembling with fear of the outcome of the impact of these books on their traditional basic claims. Having a quite realistic sense of the unsubstantial historical foundations of their systems of faith, they stand in fear of such documents, because the very dating of their existence throws a potential monkey-wrench of veridical historical fact into the fragile machinery of their almost wholly supposititious origination. Prof. Wilson analyzes the substance of their fears in saying that "these new documents have thus loomed as a menace to a variety of rooted assumptions, from matters of tradition and dogma to hypotheses that are exploits of scholarship." "One feels," he says again, "a certain nervousness, a reluctance to take hold of the subject and to place it in historical perspective." The Jewish side is afraid, he intimates, that the books will impair the authority of the Masoretic text, which dates from as late as the ninth century A.D., and would not welcome the appearance of evidence that the "religion of Jesus" could have grown in a natural way out of certain trends and "pressures" in Judaism itself.
On its side the Christian wing fears "that the uniqueness of Christ is at stake," quoting a Dr. Brownlee. The essence of this concern is very simply the dread that it may now be demonstrable that Christianity arose out of the development of trends having their motivating root causes in actual historical and quite human situations in the realms of both outward physical conditions and inward esoteric philosophies, without the need of assuming the miracle of a special gratuitous and magnanimous act of God to implement the salvation of the human race in that particular epoch. In short the menace and the alarm grow in face of the possible outcome of the testimony the books will present to prove that the entire context of the Gospels, on which documents alone Christianity stands--or falls--may be found traceable to extant antecedent literature of Judaic or Egyptian origin. What a horrendous and devastating denouement it would be if these documents establish beyond dispute that Christianity can be completely accounted for in every item, aspect and feature of its composition without the presence or the contribution or the driving incentive furnished by the alleged only-begotten Son of God! How shattering to all Christian assumption it would be if it can now be demonstrated that the religion this Son of God is claimed to have founded on a completely new revelation of truth unknown before, probably drew its every fundamental tenet, doctrine and rite from a religious culture immediately antecedent and environmental to it! How staggering the blow it must receive when every "new truth" he is claimed to have uttered as unique wisdom from the skies, every new principle of ethic and maxim of mystic power he is declared to have enunciated as the new dispensation to supplant the old order of evil for evil, is found to have been recited in the Mystery dramas by the character representing the Sun-God Messiah in many lands centuries ahead of him! And how inexplicable the stunning realization that if he was the immaculately born and only Son of the cosmic God, when he did come to earth to lift the "curse" off humanity’s destiny, and to inject a new evolutionary force into the aura of the earth to inoculate the lower nature of man with a sanctifying healing potency, the best literary tack he could think of, the highest eloquence he could command, was to repeat the already extant verses of antique rituals and the dramatic speeches of figures in the ancient Mystery plays which had been recited from immemorial antiquity in Egypt and other lands!
The Essene library books are now available to clinch the proof of many a surmise, many a conviction that has taken hold of the intelligence of more than one honest scholar, that Christianity owes nothing to special divine events of the first thirty-three years of the "Christian" era, and that it owes everything to a natural development, under the particular circumstances prevailing at that epoch in the religious situation. In fine, they now stand at hand with possibly inexpugnable evidence that Christianity was not a product of a unique missionary effort of God’s only Son on this earth, but arose out of forces extant in the religious world of that time. They are ready to establish the fact that, not only was his presence and his message not necessary for the launching of the "first true religion"; they were not even essential to the event. It is clear that this religion could and would have been what it has become, as well without him as with him. So far from being the creator of this religion, its formulator and promulgator, it could have, and with practical certainty did, come forth without him.
It is a world-shaking revelation the Dead Sea Scrolls promise to bring to light. Yet it will merely add corroboration to what Gerald Massey has already revealed. The difference is that the work of Massey can be ignored, slighted, misrepresented and kept from the concentrated focus of general attention, and so suppressed or committed to desuetude. Not so the new-found Essene library. Scholarship is so alerted en masse to the implications of the new study that they will not be able to be concealed. (This is not to say that the parties menaced by the texts of the old books will not be found resorting to all subtle measures either to destroy actual portions of the scrolls or to twist the translations, or otherwise evade the issues of an honest scrutiny. This is to be expected, as past history confirms its likelihood).
The eye of scholarship is eagerly scanning the Essene scrolls as they are read for mention of the man Jesus. The presence or absence of his name in the books is a point about which many questions and decisions would center. If their dating is accepted as of the last centuries B.C., there would be no expectation of finding him mentioned, and his non-appearance in the volumes would constitute no argument against his existence in the first century A.D. Naturally the life of a person is hardly expected to appear in histories written before his time. (Yet this astounding phenomena is precisely what Massey has proved to be the case with the Jesus Character,--his words and deeds are actually found in the oldest Egyptian books long antedating his day). But much speculation is already being ventured as to the relevance of certain characters found in the Old Testament books, such as the "Suffering Servant" of 53 Isaiah, and similar figures which are claimed to be the prophetic prototype of Jesus, who was to be their fulfillment in history. All this leads into abstruse and involved problems with which scholarship will have to wrestle long and in the main fruitlessly.
A frank discussion of the great question of the actual existence of Jesus of Nazareth would have to handle the case in its large aspects so as to meet and counter the claims and postulations of the whole Christian theology and Christian Biblical exegesis, Old and New Testaments alike. A critique of the subject, however, would have to resort to some quite exceptional considerations if it is to take into account and meet certain points of view advanced by that special segment of religious study which might be called the esoteric or occult view. Cult groups such as Rosicrucians, Theosophists, Anthroposophists and others more or less imbued with the same basic philosophy, approach the question of the historical Christ from the background of certain premises of understanding or of ancient teaching which condition their quest of a proper answer in specific ways that need to be scrutinized. Although this perspective is different from that of Christian orthodoxy, it is to be feared that it, too, has involved itself in certain anomalous and untenable commitments and conclusions, and needs drastic reconsideration.
CRITIQUE OF THE ESOTERIC VIEW
This view, in the main, is not committed to a completely historical interpretation of the Scriptures, as is orthodoxy. But, on the other hand, neither is it completely assured of the allegorical nature of their composition. Its position is thus a sort of compromise between the historical and the allegorical methodology. And it is this indecisiveness that puts its exegetical theses and conclusions in jeopardy of both inconsistency and illogicality.
While the orthodox view holds that the Old Testament recites ancient Jewish history and the New gives early Christian history, there has always been a murmur of dissenting opinion from a minority line of scholars who claim that the Bible is only properly read as allegory. This dissent has waxed strong enough at times to draw rebuttal from the ecclesiastical side. Strauss’ famous Life of Jesus in 1835 threw so much consternation into the ranks of the churchly forces because he put forth a vigorous case for the allegorical character of the sacred literature. Orthodoxy has been able to fight off the attack from this angle; or at any rate it pursues its even course and maintains its historical position mainly by ignoring the proddings of the allegorists. The latter have never been able to marshal convincing force behind their contention, because they have, until now, lacked the keys of philosophical and theological exegesis by which they could have released the full power and weight of their assault. Those decisive keys were lying rusting in the tombs and temples of old Egypt for two and a half millennia. But now with Massey’s prodigious clarification and the correction of his two pardonable oversights referring to the "deadness of the soul in the body, and not the demise of the body itself"--those keys are now refurbished for use in opening the doors to admit into the dark labyrinth of the Bible’s cryptic signification the full light of clear understanding. With the application of these keys to the present Jewish-Christian Bible, to the Apocrypha and to the now recovered books of the Essene monasteries, a new day of rational religion is about to dawn upon the world.
Esotericism, too, in much the same way, but considerably less disastrously, is, like orthodoxy, hung up midway between the history and the allegory of Scriptures. It has to a great extent been pushed into this anomalous position by the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, founder of the modern movement to revive the ancient theosophical philosophy. She has with apparent full commitment declared for the allegorical rendering of the Bibles, and she has even gone some distance into the province of their reinterpretation on the allegorical basis. Yet she speaks of the "time of Moses", when, if the Old Testament stories are allegories, there could have been no Moses as a man. Likewise she compromises, though still diverging in ways from the orthodox view, on the historicity of a Jesus personage. Stating at one place (The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, p. 2) that "Christ, the true esoteric Saviour, is no man, but the divine principle in all humanity", she elsewhere posits the historical existence of a Judean Adept, of the Jesus name, and rates him among the minor Boddhisatvas, or at any rate a human Master spiritually evolved. Theosophical leaders, and in their wake the Theosophical membership (likewise the Rosicrucian and Anthroposophical bodies and other esotericists) have followed this presentation in the large. So that the general consensus of the so-called occult religions must be said to hold a divided opinion on the subject, maintaining that the Scriptures are in their literary form allegorical productions, yet rest on at least a basis of historical fact.
How much of the narrative is history and how much is allegory thus becomes the nub of the whole question. But little do the esotericists seem to realize that the entire power, utility and influence of the Bibles as moral and spiritual guides hinge upon our having some dependable determinations resting upon specific data in the case. The matter indeed stands much as the American nation stood when Lincoln declared that it could not exist half slave and half free; the Theosophical conception of the deity that is dramatized in every Bible likewise can not exist half subjective and half objective in human consciousness. Ambiguity impairs the dynamic potential of a moral-spiritual system.
And, after all, the point at issue is not one that can support a divided opinion. Some questions can have a choice of alternative, yet tenable solutions. Not this one. The matter of the existence or non-existence of a certain man in human history is not dual in nature. Either Jesus, the Gospel Figure, was a person in human body, or he was not. "He" can not be both a man and a purely typal character in a literary production. Oddly enough, religious opinion, both orthodox and occult, maintains the singular position that "he" was both these. There seems to be no difficulty in either camp of accepting "him" in the role of our divine model, the dramatic representation of the god-nature in our constitution. But, the claim is, "he" was this living divine model in a fleshly body, born in Palestine about the year 1 A.D., and ostensibly the carpenter in the Gospels. It is stoutly maintained that nothing less than the embodiment of the divinity in an actual human personality could carry dynamic effectiveness for the uplift of the world. Thus esoteric philosophy has constituted "him" both the typal dramatization and the living embodiment of our divinity. Christianity declared "him" to be the only mortal ever to embody this divinity; esotericism does not assent to this exclusive limitation of the Christ power which is to deify all men. Christianity grounds its claim to being the world’s supreme religion of dynamic efficacy on the thesis that it alone presents to the world this one and only divine model in our own human form. It asserts that no model of our perfection but a living one could exert saving power in our lives.
Precisely at this point and directly on it, the ancient philosophical Pagan and the Christian worlds differ and diverge. It is of the utmost momentousness that the issue here outlined and at stake be delineated and envisaged with the sharpest clarity. Be it stated, then, that never had there been a time in at least some thousands of years immediately prior to the "time of Christ" in which the great mystico-spiritual religions did not present to their millions of votaries the dramatic figure of our immanent potential of sonship of God. Never--contrary to all ignorant Christian assertion--had the precise model, type and picture of our inner divinity been absent from religious ritual and worship, or wanting in doctrinal formulations. The Sages of old, men of the stature of those who structuralized the ancient systems of theology in the Scriptures, had been at the utmost pains in the exercise of a veritable superhuman dramatic genius to put into every myth, every apologue, every rite, ceremony and stage drama the characteristics, the nature and the experience of the divine segment of God’s own potential glory that he had implanted as seed in the bodies of the superior animal races, to be his own children and eventually gods in their right. "Ye shall be as gods," he assured them.
Concerned the ancient seers and "prophets" were, then, that no man seeking knowledge of his nature and destiny should miss it if he was earnest enough to knock at the doors of the Mystery Brotherhoods, or enter the cult associations that were functioning in the various Near-East lands. These abounded in associations of the kind, the just-discovered Essenes being among the best of them. The list of such spiritual enterprises runs into scores, from distinctly ritualistic orders to schools and academies of philosophical bent. There were the Orphic Mysteries, the Eleusinian, the Dionysian Mysteries, the Mithraic, the Manichaean, the cults of Osiris, Isis, Serapis in Egypt, of Sabazius, Atis, Cybele, Adonis, Zagreus in the Syrian world, of Ishtar (to whom even Solomon built a temple), Marduk (Ishtar and Marduk becoming Esther and Mordecai in the Hebrew rendering) in Judea; the schools of Pythagoras, Plato, Mandaism and Therapeutism of varied orders, the outstanding colonies of the Essenes, whose libraries have now tumbled down out of antiquity upon our very heads. Search deeply enough into the profundities of the teachings and ceremonials of these groups and one will find at the heart of all of them the glorified type-figure of our divinity-to-be. Utterly a base and baseless canard it is, then, that the Christians bandy about, of mankind’s having had no ensampler or true picture of its divinity until God awoke to the needs of his world about the year 1 A.D. and sent his only Son to put on exhibit for the first time a model of our perfected life.
Ah but,--cry the orthodox--these were only images, lifeless representations, powerless to inspire mortal men to strive for the attainment of the virtues of the living Christ. Jesus showed us by his life in the flesh how our path to divinity was to be trod. His life is true, it is realistic, it is actual; it generates our love, our loyalty, our worship, our yearning to measure up to the beautiful ideal. And, be it succinctly stated, in this express sentiment rests all the claim that the Christian faith advances to elicit the devotion of the world to its tenets. This is, in fact, its one sole point of appeal sharply different from those of other religions. It alone possesses and offers to mankind the historical Son of God.
How will the cult of the non-historical Jesus meet this claim and this asserted postulate of Jesus’ existence? The Pagan world antecedent to the year 33 A.D. of course, can have no voice in the debate, because the subject of the debate, either historically real or not, had not then come to earth. The question is no question, has no pertinence, at least until after the first claims of a nascent Christianity came to expression. And these claims were first heard only after about the second century A.D.
THE COMING OF MESSIAH
It may be a fairly sobering consideration for religionists of all segments of Christianity that, although the ancient world had for ages predicted and anticipated the advent of Messiah--it was indeed the main element in a universal religious doctrinism, veritably the hope of the world--it never took the form of a belief of its fulfillment in the birth of a human babe from mortal mother until well onto three centuries after the alleged date of the Jesus birth in "Bethlehem". (Bethlehem is, at any rate, as the "house of bread", a figurative designation of the human body, in which of course the divine "babe" of our infant divinity must have its birth--where else?). When one wonders, will the religious mentality be brought to see the telltale significance of the fact that not until the grossest ignorance had overridden the surviving esotericism in the early Christian movement was the advent of the Messiah traduced into the terms of a human birth?
Messiah was to come; yes, never was the idea absent from ancient expectation. But never until a decadent third century of Christian fanaticism had stultified the mass mind of the Judean world was Messiah’s appearance expected in the form of a mortal babe. Many myths, legends, the occult tradition portrayed under varied but appropriate forms of imagery the birth of the Christos in a stable or a cave, amidst the animal orders, the child of virgin matter (mother, mater, Mary). But it remained for purblind exoteric misconception from about the third century to supplant the spiritual Christos, as an inner light coming to its shining in all humanity, with the human babe in the Bethlehem cowstall. It was only the abject default of ordinary intelligence in handling the old books of occult truth that precipitated the catastrophe, that fatal blunder of taking beautiful poetry-drama for eccentric actual occurrences. It gives us an idea of the deplorable depths to which general philosophical discernment had sunk some four hundred years after its peak of glorious flowering in Plato’s day. As long as the capable genius of Pagan philosophy prevailed and dominated the general consciousness, there was never a thought that the Messianic advent would be historicized in the person of a son of man, or indeed of its occurring as an overt event at any specific time. The sagacious Egyptians always spoke of it as "ever coming", "coming continuously and periodically", "coming daily", "coming each year", referring of course to the gradual evolution of the Christ consciousness in the minds and hearts of all mankind. So it is quite the truth to assert--and history supports it--that the particular elements of belief which gave birth to Christianity were a rank growth out of the soil of ignorance.
Christianity challenges the world since the third century at least to accept its claims as to the existence of this unique historical personage, the carpenter of Galilee. And it bases its egregious claims to being the one true and dynamic religion in the world because it injects this personage, as God’s only Son, into the stream of history. Does the non-Christian world have an adequate rebuttal to the Christian argument for the unique psychological power of this personalized God in our human life? On a surface view the Christian asseveration that Jesus as a living embodiment of our divinity exerts a psychological dynamism for the exaltation of human life that no merely dramatic model could ever do is a strong one; it has won the assent of the millions of Christian followers over these centuries. It has seemed reasonable to their grade of intelligence. Can the Pagan position be supported which, in lack of any such living incarnation of God in the flesh, asserted that the dramatic but non-living example of our divine nature was as efficacious for motivating the divine aspirations of humanity as the life of any man could be? The Pagan philosophical answer to the question would have had to be a positive "yes", for its answer was formulated before "Jesus" had become an element in the debate, before there was any debate about it. And its answer was as good after the alleged "life" of the Jesus personage as before it.
If the redemption of humanity from animal grossness to divine graciousness was in any degree contingent upon the human birth of a babe in Judea in the year 1 A.D., there is no need, no warrant, no utility in religion as a science of soul development implemented by mankind itself. For this throws the redeeming force outside man’s initiative, places it beyond his control, except in the narrow and inadequate sense that he must "accept" it. If the salvation of the race was to be effectuated by one personal human, all the inner self-initiated resources of the mind and heart of all humanity would be rendered of no avail, in fact superfluous and irrelevant. Such indeed is the never-failing affirmation of the cult of the Christian Jesus, since it declares unequivocally that there is no other way under heaven whereby a mortal may be saved than through the intermediary offices of the physically born man of Galilee. The fervent assertion of this cult is that man’s best righteousness is as filthy rags in the estimation of the great All-Father of the universe. If Jesus does not intercede to save us, we are not saved, is the authoritative preachment of this Western religion.
C. G. Jung, the top-most psychologist of our day, has reported the answer and it has been given here. The utmost that a mortal can do in the presence of a paragon of the virtue and divine perfection of man in God is to imitate the model as best he may, says this eminent authority. But in the very effort at imitation, he makes clear, the devotee slants the psychological efficacy of his effort directly away from the locale where it needs focusing, namely, in the inner core of the individual’s own consciousness, where--rather than in ancient Judea--lies the seed-power of incipient Christhood awaiting development. The postulates of the Christian system, if not by immediate instruction, then surely by the direct implications of its theology, expressly disengage the implementation of man’s salvation from any dependence upon man’s own exertions, or even from his achievement of an evolution of his own powers. In point of fact it positively asserts that man’s own efforts, faculties and human powers stand blocking the way to his divinization and must be surrendered and eliminated before the Christ power can become dominant and exert its saving grace. In terms of the most uncompromising and unequivocal decisiveness, Christian doctrinism positively puts human salvation outside the area of man’s own initiative, or his own accomplishment. Without the Judean personage man can not be saved, for he can not save himself. And if Christian doctrinal statements, reiterated a thousand times and never rescinded, do not bind the system to what they assert, the faith should close its doors.
Ah, but, it is rejoined, the human heart must "believe on" this man and his function, if the power of this Christ is to be made available and effective for his salvation. Here, certainly, the Christian theology runs out in the unsubstantiality of a mere word. For if the eternal destiny of the members of a whole race on a planet is contingent upon a mere mental pose, an attitude of mind that may be nothing much more than a sudden rush of feeling, persuasion of an idea or even a play of fancy, then again its shallowness, its insufficiency, its ineptness is glaringly obvious. If eternal salvation is to be won for the price of a mere turn of mental assent in the direction of a propagated theological persuasion, the thing affronts man’s budding instinct of divinity, slaps his own intellectual integrity in the face, insults his divine faculty of reason, and cuts the root of any and all motive to self-advancement in the scale of being. It stamps the seal of worthlessness, of futility, of negation on all self-initiated effort at uplift.
And, if the crucial efficacy in human salvation is this "belief" on the power that was manifested in and through this one man, why would not the same efficacy to transform human life be released by the belief, whether or not the power had been manifested through him? The nub of the debate seems at this point to narrow down to the question of whether the operative efficacy of the Christ-power is contingent upon the recipient’s psychological attitude--belief--or upon the once-upon-a-time manifestation of the power through the one man Jesus. Christianity asseverates that it depends upon both its manifestation in Jesus and the belief of Christian devotees. If this power is to be rated as a psychological influence of a given character, frequency, wave length, and, like any other such radiation, able to be brought to manifest expression when an instrument of requisite nature and construction is developed to register it, what, it must be asked, stood in the way of its manifestation at any time in the cognitive or mystical sensibilities of any mortal the moment his apparatus of brain, nerves and inner bodies became sufficiently sensitized to vibrate to the impact of that radiation in consciousness? Why could the power not become effective for human uplift until it had first manifested in this one man? Christian theologism, caught in the dilemma of this predicament, weakly protest that to be sure there could have been and doubtless were "good men" before the year 33 A.D., but still no one had quite achieved the divine life before Jesus opened the door into the Christian sheepfold. Does Christianity maintain still that the power of righteous life, divine aspiration, selfless love and regimes of self-discipline and moral rectitude would not generate their natural product, a spiritualized and so-far divinized grade of consciousness if the alleged events in Galilee had not happened two thousand years ago? Obviously, to be consistent, it would have to stand on a straight "no", in answer, because it has without end declared that all man’s best righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of God. But logic can lay hold of no principle which would make the efficacy of righteousness dependent upon its having been--only once--channeled through a carpenter in Judea.
It seems to have remained for Jung also to voice the verdict of rational intelligence on this Christian theology, and it is a most negative verdict indeed. If Christianity offered the world the only historically personalized Christ in our flesh, it at the same time and by the very gift disinherited common humanity of its divinity. For it sequestered man’s single divine agency in a far-off event and in a wholly inaccessible locale, and paradoxically it asked its following to imitate a paragon which it simultaneously declared none could ever hope to equal. If Christianity offered a real world-savior in our flesh, it offered him in such form that all chance of man’s attainment of the ideal was precluded. A far-away imitation, as Jung states, left man leagues short of equating the exalted ideal. The devotee was in fact discouraged even from attempting, yes, even from hoping to match the idolized model.
The Pagan, on the contrary, while it offered mankind the purely pictured, allegorized and dramatized ensampler, did at least foster the positive presumption that indeed the figure of human perfection was put before men as the idealization of what man could become, and not what he never could hope to match. It was put forth with every incitement to the devotee to identify himself with it. For the restoration of the power of a Christian religion, it will have to be seen that Jung is right: the point of crucial importance is not whether the ensampler’s typal figure is dramatized or personalized, just a picture of our perfection or a living personal demonstration of that perfection. For the deification of the worshipper its virtue and efficacy are wholly contingent upon our ability to make the living demonstration ourselves. The ultimate question in the debate is and always must be the birth of the Christos in us. Its birth under any other circumstance or anywhere else than in the life of all humans is a matter of insignificance and irrelevance. Anything less than that, if not a deception, is at best a futility, the teasing of man with an impossible vision in the skies.
The anomaly in the case comes to view in the paradoxical operation of the two directions of the incentive. The orthodox view still insists that the living model--Jesus--exercises a greater driving power than any non-living picturization could do, because of our sympathy with a man of our own humanity, which incites us to aspire to be like him, while the mere type-figure in the abstract leaves us less moved. Yet the effect actually works out in almost contrary fashion. For Christian dogma steps in and puts up the impassable bars between us and that dream of being like him. It asserts that we can not even be worthy of receiving his grace; we must simply cling to the hope that he will stretch forth his hand and save us.
On the contrary, the Pagan, who was never enticed with the alleged example of a one and only Christ in the flesh, lived in the constant understanding that he could, and in the due course of earnest endeavor, would become a duplicate of the exalted divine type. In the case of the Christian the divine model absorbed the whole of the worshipper’s adoration, and the latter was rendered negative and made, as it were, static and immobile inwardly. With the philosophical Pagans the model was made abstract, a typal representation; but the living dynamic that could exalt the human participant was focussed in the worshipper himself.
And, furthermore, the psychology generated in the two cases needs study for the discernment of still another divergent outcome. Again it is a corroboration of Jung’s courageous delineation to consider that the greater moral effect is bound to flow from a dramatic figurism to that locale where the personal meaning is understood to become relevant. Say what Christians will, the comparison between the mental-emotional reactions of a Christian and his Pagan forebear, will accentuate in unmistakable vividness the greater moving power of the Mystery ceremonials and initiations than that released in Christian worship, from the observation of the effects of both forms. It was the actual experience in the Mystery rituals that the candidates and initiates were thrilled to the profoundest depths of their sensible natures in undergoing the dramatic run of the scenic representations. One must ask why this was so. The answer gives us the decisive determinant in the whole argument: it was because the instructions given by the hierophants in these Brotherhoods left never a doubt in the mind of any participant that the dramatized experience of the model divine figure was at every step and turn of the play exactly typal of his and of our living experience.
In Christian worship the body of sensible afflations, the feelings and the sympathy go quite in the opposite direction; that is, they go out from the consciousness of the worshipper to the figure of the Galilean Christ. All our burdens of feeling, thought, sympathy and love go out from the hearts of devotees and are concentrated upon the person of Jesus. If one questions this let him go through the services of any Christian Church during Passion Week. In the Pagan worship there was no such figure haunting the thought or consciousness or imagination of the participant. Therefore there was no diverting image, no distraction from the one and only focus of meaning and pertinence which the rituals were designed to accentuate,--the consciousness of each member himself.
From the accounts of such men as Cicero, Plato and others, it seems warrantable to make the claim that the psychological efficacy of these ancient Mystery ceremonials exercised a salutary moral purification and a spiritual catharsis upon the lives of the sharers of the ceremonies which were far and away more dynamic than what one sees--or fails to see--accruing to the pew occupants in the Christian services. The basic reason, that should truly startle all Christian theologism, is obviously that the worship-forms were enacted in the never-absent realization that they depicted most movingly the experience of the Christos in the actors themselves, the meaning being never referred to the figure of any man outside in the historical scene. It must be seen as beyond all debate and cavil that a ritual whose every feature strikingly adumbrated and by the subtlest of dynamic suggestiveness touched the inner consciousness of the actors as being their own intimate experience, must exercise a far more potent psychological effect than any amount of sentimental sympathy or adoration poured out upon a person outside in history.
The ancient world of philosophy and religion consistently asserted that it was a blasphemy of the holiness of life for man to worship any power outside himself. This did not preclude what we would in rebuttal declare to be the mighty transcendent power manifesting in the universe exterior to our life. But ancient sapiency discerned that all being and power manifesting universally were of one kind, comprehending both his life and that of infinite magnitudes of being outside him in the one same totality and unity. If ancient man centered upon his inner selfhood the adoration of heart and mind, it was because he knew himself to be integrally in and of that all-embracing Oneness, but that the germ of consciousness innate within his own core of being was for him the one avenue of access to the magnified core of the universal being. He focused his attention upon that inner unit of total being. He knew that within himself and there alone were the instrumentalities and the directive agency that could integrate his unit life with that of the Whole. The sweep and swirl of the external universe in its vast reaches and magnitudes beyond his little sphere would be of intimate relevance to him only as he reverenced, cherished and fructified the tiny fragment of the Whole which constituted his area of supervision. No amount of veneration directed outward upon the cosmos could impregnate the individual life and make it productive, if at the same time the consciousness within the unit creature did not flower beautifully within its own garden. Adoration of the mighty works of the cosmic Deity will hardly arise until a reverence for the divinity ensconced within the single unit has been brought to birth.
WAS JESUS THE FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY?
It has ever been considered an unanswerable and clinching argument of "occult" students that it would have been impossible for Christianity to take its rise and run on to great growth and expanding power without the historical presence of some outstanding personage, some man, who had been there to give it an impetus and focus interest to a point of specific unit strength to make it a movement able to generate wide interest and gather following. How are we to account for the rise and sweep of such a mighty current of force without the initial push of some dominating figure? Religions do not take form out of the air without human agency. It seems impossible to these people that a new religion could have been launched, inaugurated, solidified and stabilized for growth, as it were, gratuitously, with no great figure present to furnish driving force to its movement. It must have been the work of some great man.
The specious force of this argument has been cogent enough to hold the minds of esotericists to the affirmation of the existence in Galilee of the figure accredited by nearly universal Christian belief as Jesus the Nazarene. It is to be shown here that the position not only rests on pure theory, wholly wants evidence to support it, is completely untenable from more than one angle, but is entirely and directly controverted by a series of facts and considerations which overthrow it at every turn.
Christianity, the occult theorists assert, was a new religion; it was neither Judaism, Gnosticism (in spite of the fact that its first and most intelligent promoters were Gnostics!), Manichaeism, Essenism, Platonism, Orphism, Mithraism, Hermeticism, Chaldean Magism or any of the existing and environing cult religions of the Time. It was a new and totally unique expression of religious pietism and doctrinal systematism. It must therefore have been the formulation of some prominent person or agency that came forward with a totally new and different body of truth-teaching to promulgate. This is the thesis behind the argument under discussion. Almost it might be reduced to the self-proving theorem that if it for the first time in world history proclaimed the preachment that the Deity sent his only-begotten Son down into the world to save it by the magical power of the only message ever transmitted from heaven to man, it could not have assumed this form unless indeed it had been brought and disseminated by that divinely commissioned Son himself. For who else would know about a heaven-initiated mission and purpose of the sort but the One sent with the message? It has thus ever seemed to be a matter of stating the case in such a way that it could not have been conceived and so stated unless it was true. The elucidation and analysis here set forth indeed constitutes the basic psychology on which the great Christian religion rests. Since the framework of the theology could not have been the sort of thing humans would invent of themselves, there must have been the messenger from the superworld to have originated it.
The first counterblast to this seemingly indubitable conclusion comes forth in the form of a shocking fact that flatly contradicts the nub element in the theorization just propounded. It has by now been more than abundantly demonstrated as a fact, provable to any one who will compare Christian with pre-Christian literature of Judea, Chaldea, Egypt and other ancient lands, that in blunt truth, Christianity introduced to the world not one single item, doctrine, revelation of moral and spiritual truth that had not already been in the cult religions and the sacred books of antiquity for long antecedent time! Some change of expression there is, and variation in modes of representation of the old truths, but it is still true to say that there is not one single presentment of ancient spiritual light and wisdom in the Christian literature that is not matched by, and obviously taken from, pre-extant books, rituals or liturgies of the old Pagan religions. This will sound like arrant and scurrilous blasphemy in the ears of orthodoxy. Therefore we repeat: it is demonstrable and provable to any one who will go into it and survey the extensive ground where lies the massed evidence. And denial of its factual truth by one who has not examined that great body of evidence is not admissible in the case. It rests on evidence; opinion based on no acquaintance with the evidence is disqualified.
Madame H. P. Blavatsky accentuates the force of this datum in a singularly strong passage, in which she says that we have the sorry spectacle of a grandiose anti-climax to the whole Christian drama in the fact that when, at the apex of history’s sublime culmination in the coming of the whole world’s breathlessly awaited Messiah, the very Logos of God himself, to thrill humanity with the celestial heralding of the Kingdom of God on earth, to deliver the message from the Father of the universe that would cause all nature even to shout aloud its joy over the redemption of the human race from darkness to divine light, all that this majestic Prince of the Aeons could do when he came into the world was to plagiarize, in his great cosmic code of righteous principle, the sayings, or Logia, of one or another of some twenty antecedent Messianic characters! Not a new, not a purely heavenly note did he strike to enlighten the mundane mind and sweeten the course of human life. Every statement he made had been uttered before him by other teachers, and in some instances far more fully and clearly expressed!
But the world before him, we hear the religious theorists parroting, had lived under the old Pagan dispensation of strict legalism in religion, the lex talionis, the law of an eye for an eye and evil for evil. It was Jesus who brought the second and higher dispensation, the great and liberating Law of Love. What must be said as to this traditional assertion is that it, too, crashes to meaninglessness under the impact of the solid and impregnable fact that it, likewise, is simply not true. Neither was there an old dispensation that made legalism a universal practice, that knew not nor gave play to the power of love as motive of human action; nor was it true that this Jesus brought love as the fulfillment of all law into the counsels of religion for the first time in history. All the assertions underlying the frame of this argument are as factually unfounded and untrue as the claim that Jesus brought a message of completely new truth.
It eventuates, then, that not only was the foundation and spread of the new religion not dependent upon the initial impulse from a dominant personage, but, even assuming that this Gospel figure may have originated the movement, he used only the material of philosophy, ethics and theology that was not his own contribution in any original sense whatever, but was extracted from the literature of religious systems on all sides about him. It was dependent upon him for nothing new or newly enlightening or freshly inspiring. For he only expatiated upon the extant wisdom and the traditions of his past.
It must be seen, then, that the theory, apparently so well recommended to an uncritical and somewhat naive approach, smashes to bits on the hard fact that, even if the Jesus figure lived and preached as the orthodox case assumes, it is conceivable that he might indeed have fomented a popular upheaval of religious cast, but in it used none but old "standard" material as the gist and content of his "message".
It has never seemed to strike the intelligence or the logical sense of any one in the exegetical field that the dialectic of such a situation can work backward as well as forward, so to say. The premises of the orthodox logic have been broadly these: history shows there was a great stir and final consolidation of a new religious movement bringing new truth (or alleged to have done so); it takes an outstanding or dynamic personage to produce such a development; therefore the assumption is warranted that such a great character then lived and brought the new movement. All logical process depends for its correctness, first upon the truth of its premises, then on the truth and accuracy of its reasoning methodology. First, then, the orthodox first premise must be corrected to bring it into conformity with the truth of fact, namely, that while there was a great religious ferment in the first century that brought Christianity, it did not bring any new truth. Likewise the second premise, that such a movement could have come only as the result of the presence and activity of some outstanding person, while it is a quite reasonable assumption, need not necessarily have been true in the case of Christianity,--since other causes could conceivably bring such a result. (And it can be shown that in fact other causes did launch the movement). Therefore, the syllogism, with premises amended to be in line with the truth of fact, would work out to a dead end for the Christian, and as well the esoteric, claims that the movement could not have come without the activity of Jesus. For it would then read about as follows: First premise: There was a great agitation in the first century that brought Christianity. Second premise: It introduced nothing new in the religious world. Conclusion: Therefore there is no necessary implication that a great figure preaching new truth had anything to do with it. The basis of the assumption that there must have been on the scene a teacher of great wisdom and stature has always rested on the belief or the tradition that the movement thus launched brought a whole new code of moral and spiritual truth and law. Now that this tradition is blasted by the sheer fact of history (known and acceptable, however, as yet to few), the conclusion which rested on its presumptive truth is no longer supportable.
The absence of a new message does not of itself preclude the possibility of there having lived a dynamic near-divine personage at the time. All we adduce is that it disqualifies the argument that the wondrous new message proves the existence of the messenger. If any message was given, it was neither new nor wondrous beyond earlier messages of similar nature. At any rate no new message has been historically discoverable, though the Christian world has believed that it was. Research brings to light nothing but old, indeed very ancient, Pagan formulations in the entire body of Christian doctrinism.
About 1945, Dr. John Haynes Holmes, of the Community Church in New York City, preached and printed two sermons which should have created widespread excitement and led to definite action of more or less drastic character. The first was entitled: Christianity’s Debt to Judaism: Why Not Acknowledge It? In it he adduced that Christianity owed its (alleged) founder, Jesus, to the Jews (he might have added also its actual founder, St. Paul, a Jew); secondly, it derived five-sixths of its Bible--the Old Testament--from the Jews; thirdly it owed everything that its (alleged) founder, Jesus, said, did and functioned as, to the Talmud, the Mishna, the Gemara, the Midrash, the Torah and other haggadoth (sacred books) of the Jews. The inference stands that what Christianity did not derive from the Jews was practically nothing at all.
It is quite likely that the evidence forthcoming from the Dead Sea Scrolls will add considerable strength to this determination.
His other sermon was entitled: The Religion of the Pharaoh Akhnaton. In it he expatiated upon the singular historical fact that at a date some thirteen hundred years B.C. the young son of Amenhotep, coming to the throne before the age of thirty, introduced into the priestly religion of old Egypt the elements of a reform movement which on examination prove to fall so closely in line with the highest, purest and truest character of Christianity that Dean Weigal, of the Yale Divinity School, has pronounced them fully equal in spiritual loftiness to anything in Christianity. The fact that one of the most prominent clergymen in New York City could release two such absolutely disruptive disclosures of factual truth as these, and see them make not even a ripple of impact upon the religious thought of the day,--in fact see them ignored and forgotten, doing nothing to loosen the grip of centuries-old falsehood in belief and tradition--is conclusive evidence, not only of the stolid inertia of the mass mind, but also of the fear of the whole priestly fraternity that new truth will undermine the structure of its dominance of popular credulity.
Millions of dollars are annually appropriated to further religious education, with the objective of empowering it with greater dynamism to vivify a deeper spiritual culture. One must ask what is the good of expending a largesse of wealth to bring forth new and challenging truth and understanding, if the new light thus generated is to be suppressed and forgotten. Why were these two most significant disclosures of a New York minister, both substantial enough to challenge the truth of basic Christian claims, not broadcast and dealt with for their eventual edification of present religion?
The answer, unfortunately and distressingly, is that every clergyman is so keenly aware of the tenuous and precarious nature of the historical claims on which his religion and his Sabbath preachments rest, that he chooses to remain silent and to let the general public remain as silent as it will when such disclosures are made. Now we have the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, mutely eloquent of many things which likewise challenge the historical claims of Christianity. And Prof. Edmund Wilson, in his fine little book, The Scrolls From the Dead Sea, makes an astonishing statement that reflects again the fear of the established religious hierarchy of facing any such new evidence when he says that New Testament scholars evince almost without exception a reluctance to be interested in these new-found documents. He says that substantially they have boycotted the whole subject of the scrolls.
If it was duly recognized, this aspect of things, so often, in fact invariably redemonstrated in every turn of affairs that threatens conventional religionism, is what should arouse the world of intelligence to a demand that a fair investigation be given these scrolls and that chicanery and duplicity be excluded from their handling. Nor is it too late for the academic world to undo the gross injustice which the world of theological scholarship has inflicted upon the prodigious contribution of Gerald Massey, whose brilliant studies in the field of comparative religion have given us perhaps the greatest light ever released upon the mighty literature lying behind the Old and New Testaments. If Christianity is to survive--and it is being throttled to death in half its former area of the world at the moment--it must survive as truth, not as a compound of some basic truth, a great body of eccentric half-truth, and a mass of sheer preposterous untruth that has been built up on a false historical reading of the Gospels. To survive and wield beneficent power to elevate mankind, it must undergo a far more thorough-going sweep of reformatory spirit than that which swirled it out of the clutch of Roman tyranny in the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. If it can purge itself of inherent falsehood, tear the poison of hypocrisy and bigotry out of its heart and cleanse its soul with the cathartic virtue of the whole white light of truth, it may endure the assault that threatens it now and become a benignant influence in the world that needs such a purgation. If it will not do this, it is, as Edward Carpenter said in his Pagan and Christian Creeds, almost certainly doomed to extinction.
SCRIPTURAL WRITING WAS ALLEGORICAL
A not inconsiderable number of competent scholars have pursued the very thrilling quest of the origins of Christianity. What all of them have encountered is a mass of belief, legend, tradition, so-called "prophecy" and an almost irreducible minimum of authentic history. Joseph Warschauer, an eminent European exegetist, in the first sentence in his book, The Historical Life of Christ, which aims to uphold the historicity of Jesus, says that of this great character whose life was to change all human history we know practically nothing at all. But, he surprisingly adds, exactly because we know little or nothing of him, we really know everything of him! It is indeed the oddest of circumstances that while those of his own generation, including St. Paul, Philo, Apollonius and even Josephus, never apparently heard of this man’s existence, nor did any one speak of the Messiah as a man of our humanity close on to two hundred years after his day, writers who delineate his life and actions nineteen hundred years after the alleged event, can tell graphically of his every activity, reveal his every motive, portray his personal features, with life-like precision. This it is that impelled Dr. Albert Schweitzer to pronounce as the final conclusion of his life-time study of the Gospel literature, that the figure of this Jesus of Nazareth is purely a fabrication of the free imagination of the theologians. Warschauer’s paradoxical remark about our knowing everything of Jesus because we know nothing, stands to us as evidence that, given a few basic data which the Gospels (taken as history--which they are not) supply, the whole story of this assumed life has been built up to conform to what Christian theology demanded to buttress its doctrines and its asseverations. To put it in brief, Jesus had to be made the kind of figure that would harmonize as beautifully and impressively as possible with the presuppositions of the Messianic personage and event. The very paucity of the historical material made this task the easier, since it freed the theological imagination from the limitations and restraints of factual data.
But this opportunism did not reckon with the phenomenal scholarship of Gerald Massey, who pulled from under the feet of this engaging enterprise of fancy the rug of what little data the four Gospels of the New Testament had provided, by revealing that some nine-tenths of the Gospel literature was nothing but ancient Egyptian spiritual allegorism that had finally slipped out from the custodianship of the Mystery cults and Essene societies and had been re-edited and reissued about the early centuries of Christian history. Over the first two centuries of that history it was the defense and the boast of the Christian party leaders that the new religion was in no wise a departure from or a movement hostile to antecedent Pagan religion. Justin Martyr, the chief apologist for Christianity in the second century A.D., is at pains to show that the new development was completely in accord with the premises of Pagan worship. Also a little later its exponents were claiming that it was the unfoldment of Judaism into the fulfillment of that religion’s own prophesies of the coming Messiah.
In his work just referred to, Joseph Warschauer, writing as said, to fortify the thesis of Jesus’ personal existence, takes the odd tack of discounting what amounts to about three-fourths of the recorded "events" in the Gospels’ narrative of Jesus’ life, explaining them on other grounds than factual occurrence. They were introduced into the story, he claims, as poetic embellishment of the bare facts of the hero’s life, lyric legend, romantic tradition, ancient prophecy, the irrepressible outcropping of the poetic tendencies of the Hebrew religious spirit. It is surely a strange strategy in an author’s labor to strengthen a given thesis, if in doing so he sets out to disqualify about three-quarters of his available supporting data. Most of the "miracles", the expulsion of demons from obsessed persons, the natural phenomena attending the birth and the crucifixion episodes, some elements of Jesus’ preaching, the Logoic role of the Nazarene and other items, Warschauer pushed aside as inadmissible for historical evidence in the case. On the quite infinitesimal residue of assumed authentic history Warschauer stakes the case for Jesus’ existence and influence on history. Other scholars are agreed that this is too frail and unsubstantial a base on which to rest the claims of the Christian faith.
One of the greatest of modern German theologians, Johannes Weiss, affirms that no longer now, as in the days of our pious forefathers, can faith rest placidly assured on the assumed true historicity of a Gospel narrative "full of contradictions and impossibilities".
Indeed if one were to search through the voluminous literature on the career of Jesus for evidence of its non-historical character, one would surprisingly cull more from books designed to maintain the historical thesis than he would find in works aimed at demonstrating the allegorical structure.
Reverting to the position of the parties advancing the esoteric view of the Jesus question, we find the matter complicated by a number of other considerations springing from a differing predication of elucidative principles. As said before, the schools of occultism maintain that the Jesus figure, who, they say, appeared in that first Christian century, was one of a line of "Masters" who were members of the spiritual hierarchy of the world, living in one of his advanced incarnations to revive and perpetuate the recondite truth of the spiritual life, was of course a historical personage. Some of the prophets of this thesis definitely identify him with, or as, Apollonius of Tyana; some others make him to have been Jehoshua ben Pandira, a figure mentioned in the Talmud and the Babylonian Gemara, who is dated at about 115 B.C. Others assert that he was neither of these two, but was his own proper Jesus self. Some existing evidence gives ground for the theory that Apollonius is the historical person behind the Biblical characters of both Jesus and Paul. The evidence that at any rate he was the real personage behind the shadowy figure of St. Paul is strong enough to deserve weighty consideration. The occult theorists, however, explain the status and mission of this "Master Jesus" quite apart from the role and function of the Gospel Jesus of the churches. Their position might be formulated in the statement that he was the Jesus of the spiritual hierarchy and not the Christian Jesus of the Gospels, the only-begotten Son of God and member of the cosmic Trinity. It is asserted that he incarnated in the Judean life not for the purpose of founding the Christian ecclesiastical system, but to restate and revivify the everlasting truths of occult wisdom, being one of those periodical Avatars which the Great White Lodge of the Himalayas send out to keep alive the tradition of the great secret knowledge of spiritual truth.
It is the allegation of this occult theory that this particular Master of the Wisdom lived in Judea at the time at which the Gospels presumably place the life of the founder of Christianity, and that through a habitual bent of the religious mind of that day there came to be accreted about him the traditional legends and sacred allegories which had from earlier times been the almost universal embellishments of all Messianic literature. The claim thus makes the Master Jesus of the esotericists stand as ostensibly the historical prototype of the Gospel Jesus. This predication holds that the real Jesus was not, so to say, the Gospel Jesus, but was the personage in history whom legend and poetic tendency turned into the Christian Master. As definitely as one can determine what is all too loosely put forward in the Theosophical construction, it stands about as outlined here.
But those advancing this elucidation have apparently not realized the difficulty of maintaining it in the face of certain factual data and a host of considerations that arise to challenge it. The thesis tacitly but by direct implication leaves its proponents holding that their Master Jesus and the Gospel Jesus are one and the same person, even though he is scanned from two different angles, the Christian and the Theosophic. It assumes that first century religionism simply dressed up the Avataric Master in the robes and dignities of the cosmic Logos. If the claim does not go quite as far as this, it at any rate leaves the esoteric devotees broadly assuming that the Jesus character in the Gospels is there because his story rests upon the factual existence and healing and teaching career of the Theosophical Master.
Right here, however, the thesis encounters obstacles of so concrete a character as to jeopardize seriously its chances of holding its ground. In the first place there is found virtually no evidence whatsoever for the living existence of either the Master of occult wisdom or the cosmic Son of God in human person. When one discusses a question of history, the one and only veridical basis of judgment is evidence. The Christian party confesses and deplores the lack of evidence in support of its contention as to the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, but, as shown, has expanded the modicum of assumed historical evidence into a mountain of "proof". On its part, the side of occultism advances the evidence of clairvoyance, the extrasensory power of reading the impressions imprinted on the "akashic ether" of sub-atomic essence, or what might be called the indestructible photographic memory of nature. On the hypothesis that capable development and psychic faculty makes possible the ability to fix the eye of higher vision upon past events, the claim has been advanced that persons of such highly trained capabilities have looked back upon the events of the period of history in question and have thus, by immediate vision, certified the existence of the hierarchical Master Jesus, who, these have stated, was a man of such purity of life that he had won the quite exceptional privilege of yielding up his body for a period of three years to the tenancy and use of the great spiritual Lord of the World, an entity of cosmic greatness under the name of the Hindu Lord Maitreya, his own individual self-conscious principle being held in a state of suspended consciousness in a monastery in Lebanon.
Thus one party rests its claims on scanty evidence, all of very dubious character--the other bases its hypothecations on evidence furnished by clairvoyance. Of the veridical sort of evidence that historical judgments require for credibility and common human acceptance, there is flatly none to help either side. The assumed evidence adduced to uphold the orthodox Christian contention evaporates into empty air when the sunlight of Massey’s (and others’) inexpugnable data of comparative religion spreads its clear rays over the scene and dissolves the mists of ignorant and unsupportable assumption. For this research establishes the fact that the Gospels of the New Testament are not literary productions of the first century A.D., but are rescripts of old, old books of the Egyptians. Therefore they can not be the history of any man living in that first century. Had such a man--that man--lived and been able to read the books of Egyptian religious lore--already at that time lying unread and unreadable for five hundred years, and destined to remain so for two thousand years more--he would have been amazed to find his own "life", as Christians believe he lived it, detailed in particular, his sayings already written in musty documents, his virtues extolled, his cosmic function delineated, his magical acts recounted, all a bit surprising to him. He would have had to marvel at finding himself the fulfillment of world prophecy, discovering that he was in fact the heaven-sent Messianic hope of the world. (Let the reader of this brochure reflect at this point that this, precisely this, is what hundreds of authors of the life of Jesus have asserted that he did come to realize in all serious actuality, as they one and all speculate at what time in his career it was that he knew of a certainty that he was the Messiah, Son of God, and second member of the Trinity).
PRECARIOUSNESS OF THE EVIDENCE
This invincible datum neither the orthodox faction nor the occult side has reckoned with in any realistic way. Obviously it would show the claims of both parties practically "null and void" for assured acceptance. The whole question, the entire debate, rests upon the dating of the four documents known as the Gospels of the Christian New Testament. Always the assumption has been that they were written as original literary productions in the years between about forty and eighty of the first century A.D. As already set forth, no doubt to the surprise of most readers, Massey’s work alone dispels this view with an overwhelming marshalling of data of comparative religion. Eusebius himself says that the New Testament Gospels and Epistles are old books preserved by the Essenes in their libraries. The now available Dead Sea Scrolls seem certain to validate his statement. With the certification of this item, the status of the whole Christian religion becomes increasingly precarious. The documents threaten to support what Massey revealed so authoritatively, and this turn of the current of history threatens the basic and distinctive Christian claims.
As to the confirmation of the existence of Jesus, the Master of occult power, by clairvoyance, the equally precarious nature of this type of evidence need hardly be descanted upon. It could be true; it could be faulty in part; it could be completely erroneous. Not to be discounted gratuitously or summarily as wholly incompetent, it yet stands outside the pale of the brand of evidence that world opinion demands. From the very side that has adduced it as possessing authentic value have come repeated admonitions that evidence of so subjective a character is ever to be accepted with the utmost caution and circumspection, as being egregiously subject to error and deception. It is at best highly questionable, and indeed is always to be held suspect until it can advance factual data that will supplement its purely internal testimony with objective fact. And, if its data are found to run afoul of positive factual historical evidence, they must stand as disqualified.
It is to be noted that in the case of the evidence submitted by clairvoyance no such supplementary supporting testimony has been offered. It rests upon sheer individual assertion alone. This renders it tenfold suspect. One need not be held captious, carping, unduly suspicious, or of a closed mind, to express at least the mild wonder why those who have asserted their clairvoyant verification of the existence of Jesus have left their declarations stand at the point of sheer pronouncement that the Master lived at the time specified. One must be permitted to think that if they could see him in his personal life at any time, they must have seen him in his environment, seen him in relation to the circumstances of his immediate existence. They must have noted his person, his features, stature, complexion, type, eyes, dress and speech. They must have heard him speak, heard him say something that would give some light on his life, work and mission. Without such powers of observation they would have to be challenged to validate their ability to identify him at all.
Add to that, they would have to be challenged to demonstrate how they could identify a person thus clairvoyantly seen with a character alleged to have lived at that epoch, whom, however, they had never seen, whom they had no way of knowing--unless of course by previous exercise of clairvoyance. No court would permit the submission of testimony of a witness as to the identity of a defendant brought before him unless the witness could prove that he had seen or known the defendant before. It is certainly within the pale of legitimate privilege that a skeptical world should demand to be shown how a modern clairvoyant, no matter of what probity, could presume to identify any ancient personage, let us say Plato or Cicero, if such was brought within the range of clairvoyant vision, if he had not lived at the same time as these characters, or had at least seen photographs or other likenesses of them. In the case of Jesus, either Master or Logos, it is as certain as anything like that can be, that no likeness of his personal figure was ever made or remained in existence. Therefore nobody could identify him. And all evidence resting on subjective visioning is thus summarily ruled out of court.
If the claiming clairvoyant investigators had positively seen the person in such situations and under such circumstances as would have tended to give some certitude to their vision, it is odd that they have not considered it worth while to adduce at least some of the attendant features, matters of incident, coincident data, which would give their testimony something of the semblance of veridical realism, things minor and/or major that would have lent presumptive validity to their seeing. Had such been given, it would have lent something in the way of credibility to their reports. It could be evaluated for what it seemed worth, much or little. But we look in vain for the offering of any such circumstantial testimony. It is alleged, and in occult circles widely believed that the clairvoyance of certain persons has demonstrated the existence of the Master Jesus, and the assertion stands without any subsidiary support. On such grounds it must be asked whether these persons accredited with extraordinary psychic gifts should ask us to accept their reportings when they offer us nothing in support of their asseverations.
When the matter of identification of a given person is under scrutiny, it is in point to note that no one ever seems to have taken a factual or realistic view of this matter of identification of the man Jesus from another approach, which certainly must be considered to be vital to the whole theses of Jesus’ personal existence. The Church that he is said to have founded claims for him, a man of our human flesh, the sole and unique character of the Logos of God, the cosmic mind of the total universe. The Gospel narrative discloses of course that he was not generally recognized in this superhuman and celestial character. . . . Yet it is revealed that by certain persons, and eventually by the disciples, he was recognized as the cosmic Logos, the Messiah of the ages, the fulfillment of world prophecy and apocalyptic expectation. In reading the Gospels we are led to accept as factual the account of this recognition. It is dramatically portrayed that Peter, for instance, at one moment of exalted heightening of inner vision, suddenly knew that this Jesus person he was consorting with was no ordinary human of our earthly race, but was of cosmic stature. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." We are led to feel that Jesus infused some ray of overwhelming dynamism into the gaze he might be thought to have fixed on the disciple at the moment, which spoke with convincing power of the Messianic presence in the man beside him.
The question must arise in this connection, however, how is a cosmic Messiah or the Logos of creation to be recognized when embodied in the form of an ordinary human? How is the Messiah-Logos to be identified from a man of the human estate? What marks or distinctive aspects does this Messiah wear, by which a fisherman might "spot" him as of an order infinitely transcending humanity? How is it to be understood and accepted that Galilean peasants could tell, when this man came walking down the village street, took an order to make a kitchen table, or stepped of a Sabbath into the synagogue, that he was the Lord of Creation? How did they know, how could they know? And if this Jesus were to fulfill the loud predictions of his Fundamentalist followers and descend to earth for his "second coming" in this modern age, how could he persuade the world, or even those followers, that he was that personage assumed to have been historically delineated in the four Gospels?
But we hear our argument shouted down with the reminder that this matter presents no difficulties: why he himself declared it; he announced his Messianic function! So he did, so he did,--if the Gospels recite true history. And what blind fatuousness of obsessed minds it must be that prevents pious devotees in their literal acceptance of the Scriptures from seeing that this claim puts the dunce cap of final folly on the head of the misguided Fundamentalist! Is there still left in minds thus bewitched a remnant of power to visualize in full realism the unconscionable actuality of any man’s stalking forth in human society on this earth and formally announcing himself as the cosmic Sun of Righteousness, God’s only Son, the world Cosmocrator? Can these absurdly conditioned minds create in imagination what would happen if some man, be he a Washington, an Emerson, a Lincoln, a Churchill, even the acknowledged greatest and best beloved and most exalted of our race, should stand forth and proclaim in utter seriousness that he was the one Son of the eternal Father, sent to earth to charge its history and open the till then closed door to human salvation? The moment such a one presumed to wrap himself in this mantle, all public confidence in his sanity would be destroyed and he would be summarily rushed off to the nearest mental sanatorium. Were he the true Messiah indeed, the last thing he would think of doing would be to attempt to proclaim it to the world, for common sense would indicate that it would invite immediate ridicule and defeat of his mission. It is beyond the bounds of the remotest possibility in the case that any man could ever declare himself to be this cosmic personage in human frame, and be believed. And, as things go in the world, it would be only those of virtually imbecile intelligence who could be persuaded to hear him seriously. And from what meager data that real history furnishes us on the period in which he is believed to have lived, it was just about this grade of mental puerility that inspired the originally esoteric upsurge of the Christian movement to hate learning, burn books, murder students of occult spirituality and convert the Bible allegories of mystic truth into senseless and preposterous "events".
It should be evident to all who, following the sage advice of ancient philosophers, look beneath the surface meaning of the words of the Scriptures for a deeper understanding of its message, that the theses which in the main the modern "occult" movements have endorsed, accepted and sponsored in their cult teachings, thus stand in most precarious situation, if indeed they are not fully disqualified by the open logic in the case. There may have been--who can know?--one character of near-Christly grade of evolved spiritual consciousness living in the early part of the first century; there may even have been twenty persons of this status alive then. What age can we think of in which there may not have been exalted humans approaching the summit of divine development? Some members of our humanity, and more and more of them, must be nearing the point of graduation into divinity. This must be postulated if there is such a thing as spiritual evolution.
But that the antique sacred writings of ancient Egypt, giving birth to a great flood of documents extant from two to five thousand years ago, with elements in man’s constitution depicted in all of them, should ever have been mistaken for the factual history of a man, or men and women, living at a specified epoch, is something that Massey’s stupendous work has at any rate made utterly inadmissible. The Jesus in the Gospels--and it is to be remembered that Eusebius says these were ancient books of the Essenes--can not have been a living man. No man’s life has been written down in books some thousands of years before he lived. The living experience of a Christly grade of consciousness, however, could be, and was, dramatically delineated in the old books; and it could be seen to apply, and was meant to apply, to those who have lived, those now living and those who will live hereafter. Such a frame of reference, it can now be seen from the mountain peak of a great mass of evidence, is exactly what the sacred Scriptures of antiquity were written to structuralize.
It is not a diversion from the main theme, then, to set forth that possibly nine-tenths of the material embodied in the Christian Scriptures has been taken for ancient Jewish history, when in truth those documents are almost entirely a collection of aboriginal mythical constructions. So obvious is this to competent students who have surveyed this field long and searchingly, that one writer, Kalthoff, has declared it his well-considered opinion (Entstehung des Christentums) that:
"The sources from which we derive our information concerning the origin of Christianity are such that in the present state of historical research no historian would undertake the task of writing the biography of an historical Jesus."
And he adds to this a similar observation (Ibid, p. 10):
"To see behind these stories the life of a real historical personage would not occur to any man if it were not for the influence of rationalistic theology."
This is an observation of subtle discernment. The simple but deplorable truth is that the very perpetuation of priestly and ecclesiastical religionism made it a psychological necessity that the mass mind (of the West) be conditioned to an aura and posture of humility, faith and pious tradition--which Kalthoff here calls "rationalistic theology",--so as to be kept perpetually susceptible to the influence of the Christian doctrinism. It is true to say that every mind thus indoctrinated reads the Gospels and interprets them as it were, through the haze and mist of a psychic mirage of entrenched pious "belief". If these minds could first dispel this artificially agglomerated psychic fog which arises the moment thought throws itself into the posture of pietism, they would clearly discern that those Gospels surely do not read like history. Pietists read them under the spell of a mystical glamor. They become to them a divine fairy-tale that is believed. For assuredly they can not stand up as history. Frequently the writers, even when upholding the historicity of Jesus and the general Gospel narrative, say in reference to this or that item of the story, "Whatever else this incident may be, it certainly is not and can not be history."
HOW WAS THE LOGOS MADE FLESH?
The development of the theme to this point brings us at last to the crowning realization that from the very first and all through the history of religion should have enlightened the understanding of both the ecclesiastics and the occult societies. It must be said in fairness to the latter group that they have not so glaringly erred on this point as have the orthodox.
Still they do not escape its challenge. We have said that there may have been one man of divine or near-divine status living in the first Christian century. There may have been a score of them, or a thousand. In fact there is found to have been born in about the same year as that of Jesus’ birth a Master of Wisdom so outstanding that his fame for knowledge, godliness, healing power and superhuman character resounded throughout the near-Eastern world, whereas nobody for about two centuries seems to have heard of the man of Galilee. And there is a growing opinion among astute scholars that when the Jesus personage began to be written about in the third century, the reference was in fact to this other assumedly living man, who was none other than Apollonius of Tyana, with whose life the religious theorists had confused the figure that came to be called Jesus. The presuppositions in the case grow more intriguing the deeper this matter is gone into.
But whether there was one "Messiah", or two, or seven or a score (and among those who were actually pushed forward for the honor might be named Jehoshua ben Pandira, Marcion, Apion, Mani, Montanus, Simon Magus and several others, as was St. Francis of Assizi in the twelfth century, a new Avatar being expected every six hundred years, with several claiming the role for themselves today), the final consideration that should have dictated sanity instead of gullible fatuity in the understanding of the advent of deity on this earth, is the recognition of the simple fact that the second Person of the cosmic trinity, that unimaginable Logos that, as John says, was with God and was God, never could be incarnated in the frail body of a six-foot physical man on earth! The idea that it could, a notion generated out of rabble ignorance in that benighted third century and made dominant over the whole of Christendom ever since, has been probably the most devastating delusion that ever hypnotized the mind of a great segment of the human family. The Logos could be and was made flesh, yes, but only in a profoundly recondite sense, and certainly not in the full measure of its universal extent and power, and never in the body of one mortal. The unthinkable power that has created and still ensouls, still vivifies the total of all worlds, solar systems, galaxies,--how could this power ever be conceived to have focused its illimitable energies in the compass of one human body on this globe? To bandy about and take seriously any assertion to this effect requires first the complete drugging of good human minds with a lethal hypnotization. It has come as the perpetuation of the doltish folly of early Christian fanaticism and has grown into the most disastrous hallucination perhaps of all history. The body of the Logos is the entire physical universe or galaxies of universes, not the tiny frame of a human. Says the oft-quoted couplet of Alexander Pope:
"All things are parts of one stupendous whole,
Of which the body Nature is, and God the soul.
If God is the soul, or spirit, of the universe, the Logos, his Son, is its mind. It is that total cognitive power that gives plan, order, purpose and meaning to the whole creation. To maintain that this power gathered itself up, so to say, in a nutshell and condensed its entire dynamism and intelligence in one fleshly body on this most insignificant among quintillions of planets and systems, is to insult the human intellect.
The principia of a great and luminous Greek philosophical systematism must be studied before it can sanely be conceived how the Logos was made flesh. This illuminating exegesis of cosmic principles expounds how the supreme powers of primordial Being, when projected forth in creative work, "proceeded from on high as far as to the last of things". These streams of living energy, "rivers of vivification", carrying a mental mold or form of ideation,--the archetypal ideas of the Logos mind--in their vibratory expression, radiate outward and "downward" in space to impress these forms on plastic matter. Then, as a serially increasing density of matter is encountered,--analogized by the conversion of invisible water vapor into cloud, then into mist and rain, then into liquid and finally into ice--the original homogenous energy is broken into diversified modifications, and the total quantum of its force is spent in an infinity of minor expressions, each embodying finally a tiny fragment of the primal power. To use the fine Greek expression for it, "the gods distribute divinity". Each higher being receives his quantum of the power from above him in the scale, transforms it into lower potency and passes it on down to the grade next below him, which repeats the process in the further dissemination, with, however, a reduction of the force at each descent. It should not be a task overtaxing modern acumen to grasp the idea that the One Creative Fire of universal mind-power has to break itself up into infinite fragments (represented by the "dismemberment" of the gods in all ancient mythologies and Scriptures) in order to distribute its energy radiations out to vitalize the lives of its creatures to endless multiplicity.
It is all dramatized so unmistakably in the Gospels, when the Jesus figure takes a loaf, and after giving thanks to God, breaks it into fragments, giving a piece to each of his disciples, saying that they must "eat his body" if they would come into the inheritance of eternal life. Once this "distribution of divinity" is grasped in the stately simplicity of its reference to the lodgment of a seed of the god-life in each mortal, it should not be hard to understand that the Logos was made flesh, not conceivably in its entirety, but in the tiny units of its potential entirety, in the galaxies of heaven, in the solar systems, the planetary bodies, and finally in the bodies of mortal man. Indeed, all lesser creatures are the possessors and wielders of that respective measure and expression of life’s one primal power and intelligence that each grade of bodily organization could entertain and manifest.
The ancient philosophies give us the amazing detail of this magnificent cosmographic structuralism, even naming the grades and orders of the several levels of graduated organic beings, from the great Gods to lesser gods, archangels (the primary seven), archons, angels, heroes, souls, the "thrones, principalities and powers" mentioned in the New Testament, "He maketh his angels messengers and his ministers and flame of fire." What is to be clearly apprehended before sanity can interpret aright the Scriptural language, is that ho Christos, "the Christ" of Greek religious parlance, is that minute fragmentation of the spiritual Monad, itself a further fragmentation of the Logos, which can find embodiment and expression in the life of one individual human being. In the same breath in which one would say that the Logos could not possibly be embodied in the physical frame of a mere man on earth, one can just as truly say that each human life does embody a tiny ray of that infinite Logoic power, which indeed is that power’s seminal essence, destined in eons of evolving growth to attain the fulness of its potential greatness and glory. The Logos was made flesh, not in one man, but as potential deity in all men. The religion that postulated its incorporation in one man only thus deprived all other men of its benison. No creature can endure more of divine radiant energy than the capacity of its vessel will accommodate. No man in Galilee or anywhere else ever sustained in his corporate life more than a mortal’s allotment of the infinite Logos. So that in no rational sense could one individual human being, born of woman, be the Logos of God. And catastrophically it has to be said, in that fatal and disastrous sense has the Christian Church promulgated its doctrine of perverted truth.
But how joyous and thrilling an item of knowledge it will be, then, for every son and daughter of man, to realize that each life is ensouled by a germinal seed-portion of the cosmic Logos, the same being that nucleus of rational intelligence, that genius of divine love, that, through an acquaintance with the beneficent laws of the universal order, can guide life upward to happiness and beauty! But if we are told, as Jung says, that the whole order and quantum of Divine Grace was embodied in some strange and incredible way in but one exceptional and solitary Son of God, and he a man of our ordinary human grade, the predication is both unfair, incomprehensible and finally to us without import. As the psychologist so courageously insists, if it is to be a power relevant to us and vital, indeed (as the Church shouts) crucial for us, it must be a power indwelling in us, and not only in one who could after all not live our lives for us.
If this clear realization does not soon dispel the fogs of corrupt and distorted doctrinism, the world is doomed to go on for ages longer suffering every woe of psychiatric delusion, befuddlement, disappointment and defeat. The continued celebration at the winter solstice of the alleged birth of the one and only man overshadowed by the divine nature will but accentuate and perpetuate the spiritual disfranchisement of all humans. That celebration will never release its true potential of beauty and efficacy to bring the Christ-love into the world until it is realized in full truth that the Yule festival should hail and adore the advent of the Christos, "the King of Love and Light", in all human hearts and minds. As Angelus Silesius, a mystic of the twelfth century, expressed it:
"Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born;
But not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn;
The cross on Golgotha thou lookest to in vain
Unless within thyself it be set up again."
When we can bring the gifts of the gold of love, the frankincense of sweet charity and brotherliness and the fragrant myrrh of graciousness in daily living to the Christ-child lying cradled in the manger of our very bodies, where indeed we, the animal humans, can "eat" by spiritually digesting it, his spiritual body, then will we be the "wise men" who come to welcome the advent of the Messiah on earth. It is thus seen that Christianity has given the world an ideology that has made all its movement spiritually "eccentric". That is, it has put the central pivot of all moral and spiritual motion away off center, far out near the periphery of the turning wheel of life. For it has made a supposititious life of one man in Galilee two thousand years ago the focus of all Christian devotionalism, when the true focus should be within the heart and soul of each individual worshipper. There alone it can be truly centralized.
WHERE WAS GOD BEFORE 33 A. D.?
By an odd coincidence the turning on of our radio recently brought to our astonished ears a sentence in an address by the popular evangelist, Billy Graham, which provided us with most timely material for this the next paragraph. What he let slip in a moment of uncritical oratory is indeed notable and well deserves the treatment it called forth. Said he: "God stepped into human history in the person of his Son in Galilee."
It is desirable to call attention to the fact that the evangelist was uttering here no idea peculiar to his own thinking. He was but reiterating a pronouncement that faithfully echoes the doctrines of orthodox theology. He was not inventing a new and catchy slogan. What, then, must be our opinion of the status of a theology that in twenty centuries has been purveying this item of creedology which, on critical examination proves to be a flagrant misconception utterly repugnant to the most rational intimations of the mind?
To speak of God stepping into world history at a given moment in history’s age-long course is to set at defiance the whole consensus of sane and instinctive human opinion and natural logic. For by direct and irrefutable implication it asserts that God had not been in human history until the date of the birth of his Son in Judea. This implication is inescapable, since one can not step into anything unless one is outside it. The meaty slogan iterated here by the fervent exhorter to godliness commits the Christian theology to the incredibly stupid and wholly inadmissible corollary that God had not been an influential agency in world history until the first century of the era designated to signalize an event that there is no credible evidence whatever to substantialize. In this and other subsidiary items of belief the Christian theologism has perpetrated the most fatal breach of the logical sense of the human mind, flouting the race’s invincible conviction of the immanence of Deity throughout the whole range of history. If God only stepped into the life history of his children in the year 30 A.D., the ineluctable conclusion is that he had not been concerned in it before that date. Further it can be said that if God was not a force, indeed the all-ruling force, in human history until the first century A.D., there can be accredited no meaning to history in toto. A world history, with any period of it not considered as under the governorship of the Creator, has no claim to being a meaningful phenomenon, can not be made amenable to rationalization as a philosophy of history. Had the first century really marked the entry of God into human history, there should have been a complete regeneration of the nature of man and an epochal advance in the spiritual cultures of the world. All ancient Messianic theory in fact laid heavier stress upon the expectation of the coming of the kingdom of God, and the reign of peace and a return to paradisiacal blessedness, even the apocalyptic consummation of all things, rather than upon the birth of a personalized Son of Heaven. The Jewish conception of the event envisaged the coming of Messiah as the fulfillment of the destiny promised by God to Father Abraham, and it was therefore to be consummated by the exaltation of the Hebrew race. Christians erred in looking for it in the birth of a babe; the Jews erred in looking for it in the apotheosization of their nation. The world is still looking for it in the growth to kingship of the Christ-spirit in the hearts of all men. Not until the spirit of Christos rises to dominant power in the conscious living of earth’s citizens will the Christ be born, Messiah reign.
The arrant misconception of the significance, as well as the modus, of the coming of Messiah arose as one of the freakish products of first century ignorance. More than once a single phrase in the old formularies of cosmic interpretation, misconceived and then misapplied to ostensible "history", has victimized common ideation with a demonstrable falsity. The principles of the esoteric science, dragged out of the Mystery associations and twisted out of all semblance to their inner mystical purport, filled the general Christian mind with a precipitate of the weirdest fallacies and virtually derationalized thinking power. Tragically every phrase embodying occult truth, carrying a lofty, abstruse and mystically apprehensible beauty and significance to capable intellects, came inevitably in the popular level of conceptuality to purvey a grossly literal and factual meaning, that was not only an utterly wretched travesty of its true sense, but a thing wholly untrue as fact.
To illustrate what is asserted here one need look at two items of ancient esoteric teaching, the crucifixion of deity on the cross, and its death and resurrection. These transactions truly relate to the living experience of the divine Christos principle in its incarnation in human lives. But when they became twisted by the rabble mind into the physical nailing of a personal Christ’s quivering body on a wooden cross, his demise in body and then that body’s awakening and walking out of a rocky tomb on a Galilean hillside, they are no longer true, but are falsehoods--blunt, bald and blank. Likewise it is true that we are saved by the Christ’s divine blood shed for the remission of sins; but when the metaphysical "blood of the Lamb" is converted into the gory streams issuing from the speared side of a man’s physical body on a cross on a given day in history, it becomes the most repulsive and revolting of absurdities. The "blood" of gods and Christs spoken of in the old Scriptures is a reality, being the dynamic currents of mental and spiritual power coursing through the bodies of higher cosmic beings. The one thing it can not possibly be is any man’s human body blood. On these counts the Christian theological interpretation has frightfully blundered in ways that reveal the utmost poverty of knowledge imaginable. It is more than childishly inept and imbecile. And what Western humanity has suffered from these and concomitant distortions of esoteric truth is a tale of tragedy infinitely shameful and harrowing.
The entire theme here under discussion has come into its present form as the result of the inevitable conversion of occult mystico-spiritual truth when its ingenious formulations and representations were purveyed to the masses of uncritical people. Christianity, as has been shown, was itself a vicious revolt of the herd mind in its early day against all higher learning, all esoteric religious cultism, all philosophical and intellectual culture. Its mobs of ignorant zealots overrode the headship of the churches, crushed the esoteric minorities, closed up the Platonic Academies, put an end to the Mystery schools, and swept in frenzied fanaticism to the burning of the Alexandrian library (perhaps the most costly crime in history) and to the fiendish murder of Hypatia, scraping the flesh off her bones with oyster shells as she knelt before an altar in the temple.
It should be a sobering reflection that when one upholds the literalized meaning of Gospel "history", one is aligned with the side of those ignorant zealots. Clement of Alexandria, the great scholar Origen, as well as other leaders in the early Christian surge expressly maintained the allegorical interpretation of the Bible. Christianity indeed took its rise in the atmosphere of sage esoteric interest. But three hundred years had not passed after Origen’s day until his discerning esoteric renditions were swept out of the Christian doctrinal system and a curse was pronounced upon any one reading his books, all available copies of which were destroyed. Mass ignorance swept in a fell besom of obliteration upon the great ancient interest in the wisdom of the gods, that, as Paul says, was "hidden in a mystery", and a sheer husk of religionism, unctuous with heavy morbid pietism due to the "sin complex", and driving its fanatical dupes into orgies of blood-lust, rack-torture and fire-vengeance against the most intelligent students for fifteen hundred years, fed the unintelligent masses in Christian Europe on arid and jejune caricatures of truth. Need we wonder why a present world still stands in imminent danger of self-extermination, when religious hallucination has aligned vast human groups against other human groups, depriving the good mortal mind-sense of otherwise well-disposed people of its native instinct for right and truth?
Esotericists, bent nobly on emendation of this outrageous distortion of inner wisdom formulations, have gone some way along the path of repudiation of crude exoteric beliefs towards restoration of credible, logical and edifying restatement of exalted wisdom and knowledge. But they have so far failed to grasp the full measure of that debacle of sense, sanity and understanding that, from the fatal third century A.D., wrenched all sound esoteric science away from its true home in the enlightened mentality of initiates and illuminati and plunged the entire body of inner teaching down into the muck and mire of common dullness, wreaking havoc upon its true nobility and beauty. Only when it is realized how incredibly low the human mind has sunk in its turning the glorious wine of spiritual truth into the "vinegar" of literalized untruth,--the Book of the Dead of old Egypt speaks of "the bread that has gone stale, and the beer that has gone sour" (!)--will it be known how drastic and sweeping must be the reconstruction of the whole sorry ruin.
Pietism will protest, devotional fervor will register outrage, ecclesiastical power will rage and threaten, but one fact will stand as an impregnable rock in the storm of controversy: search diligently as you will through all the literature and the history of the "time of Jesus", you will find no record, no historical evidence, of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. The figure of the man whose "life" and "teachings", as every Christian historian of him piously asserts, changed the course of human history and elevated the nature of the human race, is missing. The great Messiah on whose "life and works" the Christian faith purports to have been built, is missing. "He" himself is recorded as having declared that the apocalyptic consummation of all things in a universal cataclysm would take place before the end of the generation in which he "lived". If "he" was the Anointed of God, the universal intelligence-power that was with God from the foundation of the worlds, it must be reckoned as singular indeed that he had not intelligence and prophetic vision sufficient to keep him from committing himself to this egregious blunder! If he was the fulfillment of the world’s hope for the divinization of mankind, his mission must be written down as the most lamentable anticlimax and universal disappointment of the ages. For "he" himself said that he came to bring not peace, but a sword, and a candid view of world history since that time evidences that, instead of bringing to mankind a halcyon age of peace and happiness, the movement "his" alleged visitation launched upon the tide of history has, more than any other single influence, drenched the area it dominated in blood. The mighty transfiguration of human life that all ancient Messianic tradition looked for with the coming of Messiah is nowhere to be seen. It could hardly be disputed that the two thousand years following "his" advent have recorded the foulest inhumanity of man to man ever to defame the pages of history. And the appalling, the frightening fact in this regard is that the most horrendous of this chronicle of atrocities were perpetrated in the name and actuated by the love of this gently Jesus. Under the inspiration of no other religion in the world does history exhibit so shameful a vitiation of good human motive into the ghastly flare of bigotry, fanatical zealotry, superstition, murderous frenzy, war and slaughter, deceit and greed of power as burgeoned out in centuries of European life under the spur of the Christian faith. And so anaemic was its vaunted divine message that in some seven hundred years after its launching, the near-East countries where it allegedly had its birth swept it summarily aside and flocked to the standard of Mohammed. Likewise it is staggering to realize in our modern day that two of the nations whose entire life had been most completely dominated by this Christian power and saturated by its spirit for some thirteen centuries, Germany and Russia, suddenly in our own generation threw off the spell of its time-hallowed tradition and stamped it violently in the dust. It indeed would almost seem to have been demonstrated that the violence and savagery of inhuman motive was in exact proportion to the completeness of a nation’s dominance by the Christian spirit, for Spain, the country most abjectly subjected to the influence of this religion, shows in her record of the Inquisition, her war with Protestantism in the Netherlands and her incredibly brutal and consciousless mistreatment and slaughter of the American natives in Cortez’ conquest of Mexico and Pizarro’s similar adventure in Peru, a degradation of the human spirit shocking and shameful to the last degree.
The frightful debacle of sense and sanity that ensued in the centuries following the upsurge of Christianity has been recognized by many. It is found reflected in the third verse of E. H. Sears’ wording to the beautiful and well-known Christmas carol, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" which we give here:
"Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angels’ strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The tidings which they bring;
O hush ye noisy men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
It is history’s verdict: Christianity did less to bring peace on earth, good will among men, and more to bring hatred and strife, than any religion one can study. Could all this corruption of the normal human instinct for good have come because this religion turned the focus of man’s devotion away from the locale of its homely operation in the common human heart and centered it upon this shadowy figure of a man fabricated of the straw and moonbeams of the theological imagination, as Albert Schweitzer has asserted? So indeed has our greatest modern psychologist, Jung, intimated. With minds freed at last from the obsessions of ecclesiastical bias and hypnotizing pietism, so have some hundreds of able, learned, conscientious scholars declared frankly the same opinion.
The tragedy of the debacle that ensued in that fateful third century and cast its blight upon the mind and happiness of humanity in the West ever since, lies in the fact that the beauty, the splendor and the glory of a higher life for all men that lay hidden germinally in the creeds, doctrines, rituals and Scriptures of antiquity, which Christianity perpetuated but also distorted into frightful caricature of their real meaning, have been lost for the millions in these ensuing centuries. The extent of this tragic loss is beyond calculation. The birth of that radiant light of charity and grace that will cause the human heart to throb to the impulses of love and beauty, and which, as old Egypt said, comes continuously, steadily and with increasing power, might by now have been far advanced if ignorance had not held in thrall the gently forces of the spirit, by turning the luminous ideographs of divine truth into senseless "history".
The transfiguration of man can take place only through the operations of the growth of the soul within the inner core of our human consciousness. As the Christian creed--an ancient formulary taken over from the old Pagan rituals--so well says, in speaking of the descent of the divine units of God-Mind into the flesh of human bodies, the Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in heaven and born of the Virgin Mary, mother-matter-body, on earth. Verily it was "begotten, not created", as the creed states; that is, begotten in the heaven of spirit conception, but having to be created on earth. This power was conceived in cosmic mind, but created in earthy matter. Where and where only must it be seen that this father-conception and mother-birthing of the Christos can be consummated? The answer sets irrefutably the seal of truth on every word of this essay: it can be consummated only within the heart, mind and body of every human on earth individually. The idea that it can be accomplished vicariously for all of us by one-only Son of God, a man of our flesh but not of our humanity, and we needing only to "believe" this theorization to win its full blessing for ourselves, must be written down as close to the supreme fatuity of the religious mind. No Son of God was ever sent to earth to transfigure man by some remote magic and save him from the evolutionary task of transfiguring himself. And no man will be rightly, happily and successfully oriented to this task until he knows that within his own mind, yes, within his very body, dwells the divine power that must be florified in him. When this is known with certitude he will begin to focus his entire dynamic of psychic energies upon stirring the god’s latent nature into its awakening. How sagely the ancient Egyptians spoke of kindling a fire in the underworld, of causing a burning within the sea! For every man’s inner life is a flaming forge of living fires, and within that "crucible of the great house of flame" the figure of the Christ must be molded and shaped to its shining beauty.
Crowning the whole analytical structure, two items of dialectical cogency arise out of the springs of thought to challenge the factuality of the existence of the historical Jesus of the Gospels. The first is the reflection that appears to negate with finality the allegation that the spirit, soul or mind, or ego of the spiritual Lord Maitreya first extruded the ego-consciousness of the man Jesus from his body and then, somewhat in the fashion of a schizophrenic obsession, took possession of the nerves, brain and body of the agent so as to bring his divine power and intelligence in direct relation to the world of events in the first century, the better to perform the task of releasing the age-old message of Avataric delivery at periodical junctions in human history.
In substance this presentment of occult theory appears to be the same as that prevalent in the early days of the Christian movement, having been chiefly advanced by one Cerinthus, a member of the Nazarene-Ebionite sect of Jewish Christians. It is described and denounced by three or four of the earliest Christian historians in their books entitled Against Heresies, and has sometimes been called "The Heresy of Cerinthus". Its major thesis was that at the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River the divine spirit of Christos obsessed the man Jesus and exalted his nature to Christhood. The Christ-soul remained active in the life of Jesus until just before the crucifixion and death of the latter, when it withdrew so as to evade the pains which it would have suffered in connection with the physical body’s tortures. It was an element in the debate as to whether the soul of the Christ suffered physical pain when the Jesus body was impaled on the cross. The question had arisen as to whether God the Father suffered when his Son, identical with him in substance, was nailed on the cross. It was the dispute over what was called Patripassionism, or the suffering of the Father.
To any who knows that the Scriptures are collections of spiritual allegories of the soul’s experience in fleshly incarnation, it is clear that the whole series of such theories, dogmas and doctrines, over which Church Councils wrangled with tigerish fierceness for some two centuries, arose out of the unintelligent mental efforts of the early Christian parties to comprehend the mystery of the allegory of the baptism. In its simplest sense it is a dramatization of the soul’s going down under the water of the physical body in incarnation. It symbolically prefigured naturally the introduction of a higher grade of consciousness into man the merely human being, introducing potentially the power of godhood into the order of human life. If the terms are properly understood, it might be expressed as the overshadowing of the human grade of consciousness by the mind of divinity. But where ignorance dominates to the point at which mystical representations have become transmogrified into supposed factual events in the lives of given characters, it is but a short step for a naive mind to translate it all into the belief that the spirit-soul of a divine personage, Christ or Lord Maitreya, was projected into the body of a human individual. And this form it obviously took in the minds of such ignorant speculators as Cerinthus. The wreckage of sane human understanding through the miscarriage of ancient allegorical writing into assumed history is so far beyond the comprehension of people generally that the sheer statement of its staggering results in religious history would be incredible.
As has been intimated earlier, the revival of the technological foundations of the arcane soul-science of the ancient occultists had put modern students in this field in possession of resources enabling them to explain psychic and mystical phenomena in ways that were not available to the less sophisticated efforts of orthodox religion. Esoteric science sees man as composed of a congeries of bodies (seven in all, four lower ones developed and in function, three unevolved to conscious use as yet), physical, astral, mental and spiritual, the more sublimated and ethereal interpenetrating the lower coarser ones; i.e., their finer atoms occupying the interstitial spaces within coarser ones. Modern atomic discovery makes the postulation of such a situation tenable, if not plausible. Occult theory then finds itself free to juggle the possibilities envisaged in this basic psychic anatomy, and credits superior powers to Adepts and the spiritual hierarchy in manipulating the interrelation of one or other of man’s finer bodies in various ways, making semi-legitimate such a theory as that of Cerinthus.
Let it be assumed that Life may have more complicated resources in such things than we normally are cognizant of. Still we are not free to plunge into predications against which considerations based on obvious factual knowledge would weigh heavily. We know how empirically, how delicate is the balance between all the forces, functions and faculties, physical, biological, physiological, nervous, emotional, intellectual and those of higher essence in the human constitution. There is perhaps too little knowledge of the phenomena connected with the interplay of these elements of more attenuated essences in the human make-up to justify apodictical judgments. Nevertheless, on the basis of our very competent medical knowledge of the always delicately balanced harmony of forces in the psycho-physical economy of bodily life, it is quite within reason to claim that such an infusion of tremendously higher voltages of psychic dynamism as that contemplated in the thesis of the Lord Maitreya’s entry into even the best of normal human bodies, no matter how "pure", would subject the brain and nerve mechanism of the latter to a strain that would throw all functioning of the usual forces into violent disturbance. This is indeed to state the case with great restraint. It might be legitimate even to assert that such a supercharge of psychic energies would "blow out the fuse" of the receiving mechanism. It is psychological knowledge that even such a matter as the impact of a single new idea, a sweeping new insight,a new force of inspiration, a dynamic resolve, a bright vision of higher achievement can throw the whole psychic battery into unbalanced relations and endanger equilibrium. Sudden news, either good or bad, has killed people on the instant.
What the possibilities would be that must be postulated in the case of the sudden complete displacing of the normal voltages of the subject’s usual psychism with those of an immensely more powerful charge must be considered as an item demanding some explication, and not left to blind blank presupposition. And not only must this predicament be satisfactorily explained, but both the rationale and the legitimacy, as well as the mechanics of the deprivation of the subject entity of his own physical body and its abnormal experience in yielding it to another being, with all the extraordinary procedures the transaction would involve, must be met with something more acceptable than unctuous credulity. And why a higher entity would be considered as having to resort to the bizarre strategy of ensouling the body of a human being in order to do a bit of work in the world, when it would appear more naturally reasonable to expect that it could come to earth in an appropriate body of its own, attuned to its own vibrational rates, must be answered with some show of actual data of elucidation.
And no matter how speciously explained by the adventitious resources of the more detailed recondite psychic science, it is going to remain to common thought an eerie and abnormal method in the realm of nature. Doubtless the religious mind is prepared to accept extraordinary techniques in the domain of angelology, and spiritistic phenomena can be expected to present marvels of accomplishment; but it is straining an elastic credulity when the theory exchanges souls in a living historical personality. Is the alleged divinest transaction in world history to be understood as just a case of supernormal schizophrenia? With all its trappings of pious sacrosanctity, this is a mite too exotic for general religiosity.
The second of the two considerations is a point that likewise will carry home to common thinking through the force of a similar aberrancy upon the general mind. Once an intellect is released from the hypnotic obsession of beliefs indoctrinated in childhood, and given enough effort at sober reflection, it will seem as weirdly illogical to pivot the salvation of the human race on the agency of a transfiguring power implemented through the historical person and life of one man of the human order, as it would be to predicate that God would provide for the elevation of the mineral kingdom through a power expressed and implemented by one particular paragon mineral; or the exaltation of the vegetable kingdom through the special power released in one particular plant or king tree; or the higher advance of the animal orders through the dynamic expressed in the life and body of one perfected animal. Perhaps no analogue could more vividly spotlight the irrationality of the basic tenet of the world-savior theory, when it involves any measure of the vicarious salvation function, than this. It should be seen and universally admitted that any force that is to "save" or "redeem" or exalt in grade of being the members of a race, a species, a grade of life, must be one that is made operative distributively throughout all the individuals of the category. Its embodiment or expression in one sole member of the group, whatever influence it might exert by way of example, will mean nothing in factual efficacy for the rest.
How the force exhibited in the one exemplar can be made available and effective for all the others is the nub of the question; and neither in theology nor in life has there ever been proffered by any religion a rational techniquewhich grounds this supposititious transmission on acceptable science. Paul’s injunction to "let that same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" comes closer to being a rational statement of the assumed transfer of power from the living Christ to all his "believers". But this is still whole worlds removed from the status of a transmission of force from the exemplar to the recipient, in the sense of its being a tapping into the exemplar’s own quantum of force, and draining one’s share off for oneself. The force that he embodied is, as far as all others are concerned, a universal force, as free to all others as to him; and its receptivity or expression by others is conditioned on their development of the requisite evolutionary organs or faculties, irrespective of whether the exemplar demonstrated their full exploitation or not. In no remotest sense is our receptivity to it dependent upon its prior manifestation in him (except always in the limited function of a paragon to be copied).
In no sense do we or can we get it from him; it is free (as all Scriptures aver over and over) to all who can generate the necessary paraphernalia for its deployment from out the depths of their own inner potentiality. It is not a something to be appropriated from any external source, or from a source supplied by any one human. Like anything developing out of seed potential, it is generated from an inner seed core of being. Its manifestation in any one individual member of the human race becomes a light glowing in darkness, and it beams forth as a goad, an inspiration for others to bring the same light to shining within their own sphere of life. But in no actual sense is it communicated from one to another in its living substance; never certainly does its manifestation by any one depend upon its having once shone in one sole epiphany of its beauty and glory. True indeed is it that its shining forth in the mass of humans is a matter of communal influence, its glow in each helping to bestir its companion glow in the lives of all others in common relation to it. But this, so far from validating the preachment of its dependence upon one sole exemplar, expressly confirms its universality and distributive function.
In final statement, never could its flaming forth in one personal life be the only torch from which, exclusively, it could be communicated to all others. The brightness of the Father’s glory, as it rises to irradiate the life of any son of man, is as authentic a beam of divine light in the darkness as that which, according to a twisted theology, gleamed only in the life and person of one Jesus of Nazareth. And its beauty beaming on the countenance of any humble mortal, or on the brow of any philosopher exalted to Spinozistic "intellectual love of God", is to its degree as veridical a paragon of its power and majesty as would have been its manifestation in the case of this Jesus. By all the certitude of fact and logic alike, its implementation for the exaltation of humanity could never have been effectuated through its shining in one man only of our order.
Too small the channel, too remote the conduit, too narrow the gate has Christianity made for the river of blessing that is to inundate the lowly life of man and elevate him to the kingdom of the gods. How idiotic for the human mind to believe that we must look to one spot in Judea and to one special run of unnatural incredible events in that spot at a given epoch in world history, for the springs of our evolutionary drive to a higher grade of consciousness and blessedness of being!
Under the seductive influences of pietistic religion the spirit of man has down the centuries yielded all too readily to priesthood’s glamorous siren exhortation to surrender all personal, all human initiative toward a diviner life and turn all the psychic power of man’s nature outward in pleading to a divinity asserted to have lived in mortal form two thousand years ago. Jung has now sharply delineated the tragic error of this exhortation. Before him our oracular Emerson had enunciated the same profound truth. Said he: "Man is weak to the extent that he looks outside himself for help. It is only as he throws himself unhesitatingly upon the God within himself that he learns his own power and works miracles. It is only when he throws overboard all other props and leans solely upon the God in him that he uncovers his real powers and finds the springs of success."
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