Archive for Gnostics

Birthplace and Delivery of Christianity

Posted in belief, Christianity, faith, religion with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2013 by chouck017894

The New Testament character of “saint” Paul occasionally dropped little bits of information that later generations would fail to notice, or perhaps they chose to ignore them.  A case in point is his offhand statement that Christianity had actually begun in the city of Antioch (Acts 11), which was then part of Syria, but is now known as Antakya in southern Turkey.  So what was this “saint” referring to?

Antioch was founded c. 300 BCE on the left bank of the Orontes River, and was named by Seduces (1) Nicator in honor of the founder’s father, King Antiochus III the Great.  The settlement and two other nearby colonies were populated largely by Macedonians.  The region was occupied by Pompey in 64 BCE, and Antioch rapidly developed into the largest and most important Roman city in the region, attaining its greatest glory under the Roman emperors.  In the first century CE Antioch was the third largest city of the Roman Empire, and served as the capital of the proconsul province of Syria.  The city would grow in Roman Empire times to become one of the most sumptuous cities in the world due to the fact that it lay on the intersection of trade routes from the Euphrates to the sea, from El Bika to Asia Minor.  It was, therefore, a melting pot of numerous religious cultures as well.  Antioch in the Roman Empire times could boast of a great library and a noted school of philosophy.  And there, too, was traditionally celebrated the yearly death and resurrection of the Babylonian harvest god Tammuz, also known by the Phenician word Adonis, which meant “Lord.”  This Pagan faith had considerable influence on Jewish thought–remember, Ezekiel is said to have roundly rebuked the women of Jerusalem outside the gate of his temple for weeping for the dead Tammuz (Jerome, Epistle 58, ad Paulinium).

There existed in Antioch as well a group of Greek Gnostics who recognized and honored the universal “Logos,” which they identified and revered as the Chrestos, the Life Principle (creative “word”).  From their Chrestos or Chrest this esoteric group referred to themselves as Chrestianoi.  It is from this Greek Gnostic sect’s identity that the authors of Acts introduced the term Chrest, which through the timeframe of Acts composition became written variously as Chrest, Chreist, or as Christ.  Indeed the manner of spelling the word actually identified a specific author through a code of numerical value of the letters!  True history shows that the reference of Jesus as Christ did not become standardized until around 300 CE.  So the Chrestianoi predated by about 300 years the Jesus cult movement, which 600 years later became standarized as Christian.  As Paul acknowledged, the true founding place of Christianity was actually Antioch, and not a region of Palestine nor the city of Rome.

In the timeframe when Paul allegedly visited Antioch on a mission among Antiochene Jews, a famine occurred in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30), and Paul and Barnabas are said to have been sent there with famine relief by the new Antiochene church.  How the new fledgling church could have afforded to do this goes unexplained.  But more pressing to Paul was his wish to discuss the issue concerning observance of the Mosaic Law by gentile converts (Acts 15) in regard to the question whether or not men’s genitals had to be circumsized.  To Roman and Pagan seekers the scarring of mens penises seemed a bizarre passport into God’s good graces.

This alleged discussion among the apostles and elders in Jerusalem is referred to as the Apostolic Council, and is said to have taken place in front of the assembled church of Jerusalem.  And here is was that Peter is alleged to have saved the day by purportedly referring to his own experiences with converted gentiles: he is said to have declared that the converts had already received the Holy Spirit apart from the Law.  Considering how strict Simon-Peter was characterized in regard to Judaic Law, this would have been a near-profane assertion from him.  But then the disciple James is claimed to have stepped forward with proof-texts “from the prophets” which he said did indirectly support Peter’s interpretation of the Holy Spirit’s allowance.  James then further  smoothed things over by suggesting a set of minimum obligations for gentiles to follow, and James’ proposal was adopted and became incorporated into what is referred to as the Apostolic Decree, which was then dispatched to the churches in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.  The obligations that were proposed strangely echoed verses 17-18 (chapter 10) from the priest written book of Leviticus which concerned certain demands directed to the aliens residing in Israel in that prehistory Leviticus timeframe. The adjusted requirements in the Apostolic Decree thus demanded abstinence from idolatry, blood, meat from animals that had been strangled, and sexual immorality.  All theses no-no requirements, however, managed to gradually get watered down into a minimal moral code referred to as the “golden rule.”  Oddly, in Galatians 2:11-14 the impression is given that the question of necessary obligations for converts had not really been been resolved between Paul and Peter.

Unfortunately, the authors of Acts in the earliest versions, in which the character of Paul alluded to the universal Logos (Chrest), did not appeal to the Jewish mentality which leaned through training toward narrow, literal and strict tenets.  This necessitated editing the earlier Pauline theology in which Antioch Gnosticism could be grafted upon Jewish roots.  And this is the whole basis of what became known as the Peter-Paul controversy.  In the earliest writings attributed to Paul there was no expression of a belief in a personal Christ: the tenor was always in regard to a principle, which the Gnostics spoke of as the Chrestos.  The indelible impact that the auxiliary apostle Paul afforded for the emerging church was the blending of the Jewish ideas of Law and submission with the Gnostic interpretations of life, death and resurrection which became the groundwork of Christian doctrine.

A curious fact lingers over the Pauline influence and the Antiochene flavoring that evolved as the Christian faith system, and that is the fact that the early apologist and prodigious writer for the Christian movement, “saint” Justin Martyr (c. 100-165), never mentioned Paul!  That is a most peculiar silence.  But then as late as 254 there were lingering debates over the authenticity of the epistles attributed to Paul.

Gnostic vs. Judaic/Christian

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, Bible, culture, history, naturalism, nontheism, religion with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by chouck017894

The writings we refer to today as the Old Testament were regarded by Gnostics as the accounts of Jehovah’s crimes against humanity. Jehovah (Yahweh) was not accepted by them as the true god but was assessed as the identity of a Demiurge (creator of the material world).  Such OT characters as Abraham, Moses and the like were regarded as the henchmen of Jehovah who were dedicated to misdirecting the souls of humans into matter and ignorance. This, of course, was considered heretical by the Jewish priests and Christian fathers. But the Gnostics believed that inquiry into spiritual truth was of  more spiritual value than brainless adherence to priest-concocted rituals and ceremonies.

Of the Gnostics themselves very little is known of their true doctrines, with most of the accounts of them provided by opponents and detractors, thus those accounts are probably not too reliable. Because the Gnostics did not regard matter-life to be the true residence of the human spirit they tried to avoid creating material evidence of their entrapment in this material plane. Any writing or illustrative work on Gnostic belief was regarded with contempt, for it was judged by them to provide the means of engendering new errors. As a result there is very little true Gnostic literature or artifacts available for study.

Despite the accounts by opponents and detractors whose interest was promotion of their own belief systems, Gnosticism was, for the most part, centered on the highest ethic. That their concept of ethics was held to be judged from an amoral perspective is difficult to comprehend by modern western religions that insist that everything is to be classified as either good or evil, black or white, or positive or negative. Sex, for example, was not deemed a horrendous wrongdoing by them as western religions chose to pretend and have used to chain people to dogmas through a sense of guilt. Sex was held by the Gnostics to be strictly the business of consenting partners or participants. As Basilides, and Alexandrian Gnostic master of the early first century CE said, “The perpetration of any voluptuous act whatever is a matter of indifference”–to the highest powers.

Indeed, consensual sexual activity was held with positive regard in the little that is known of Gnostic theology, for it was recognized as the means of experiencing the indiscriminate Life Force. The sexual impulse was understood by them to be the highly personal energy field that can open a release from the constricting pressures of this matter world. In other words, sex was seen as a means of re-creating their identity within the universal creative powers –the primary intent of sexual activity. And since the Gnostics sought to avoid entrapping others in this material plane crafted by the Demiurge, procreation was regarded as less than of secondary importance. To the Gnostics the command to go forth and multiply was the enticement to moral and ecological disaster.

Maybe they were on to something.

“Father” of Christian Theology

Posted in Atheist, Bible with tags , , , , , , , on March 30, 2009 by chouck017894

A thin veneer of eroticism covers not only a number of O.T. myths but also spread an ugly scar over the early Christian movement. Much of that is traceable to Augustine (born 354 CE), often referred to as “The Father of Christian Theology.” It was “saint” Augustine who, around 386, figured out a means of luring spiritual seekers into a sacred scam: his inspiration was to turn each seeker against themselves by making them feel guilty about being imbuded with sexual desires or being grateful for physical blessings.

The caliber of this “saint’s” divine inspiration is displayed in his statement that all humans are born between feces and urine. Instead of accepting this means of embodiment as part of “intelligent design,” Augustine seized upon this perceived godly goof to startle and stampede the gullible into chains of guilt.

In other words, Augustine used suggestive anti-life propaganda, such as in his Confessions and his major work The City of God, to achieve respect and power for himself. It was a cunning scheme of inventing problems and disharmony where they need not exist.

Before switching over to the young struggling Christian movement, Augustine had been a Manichaean auditore, one of two classes of Manichaean disciples. As noted in my book Time Frames and Taboo Data: A History of Mankind’s Misdirected Beliefs, the clergy of the Manichaean sect were organized similarly to the Christian ministry and the sect condemned marriage and sexual indulgence of any type. This undoubtedly contributed to Augustine’s saintly interpretations. From his Manichaean involvement Augustine construed the doctrins of “sin,” divine grace, and predestination. With additional input by “saint” Jerome (c.340-420), who also preferred the perverse titillation of guilt-fear and lamentation to thoughts of creation’s unity, “sin” became enshrined as the main theme in the Christian message to the world.

And Augustine, like the religious fanatics of today, expressed his devotion to the Lord and Savior with outbursts of hatred for all the Creator’s diverse expressions of life. For example, the Gnostics, the seekers and keepers of truth and wisdom in his time, Augustine chose to portray as enemies and waxed indignately, “The enemies thereof I hate vehemently; O that thou wouldst slay them with thy two-edged sword!” Obviously he paid no attention to the early teachings that were attributed to Jesus, such as love one another.

Augustine always inferred that God kept him posted on everything, even of the inhabited areas of planet Earth. Thus he said authoritatively, “It is impossible there should be inhabitants on the opposite side of earth, since no such race is recorded in Scriptures among the descendants of Adam.”

This “Father of Christian Theology” demonstrates the depth of pretention that is still the hallmark of Christian extremists. He would, for example, declare with fundamental certainty that “…all diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to demons; chiefly do they torment first-baptized Christians, yea, even the guileless new born infant.”

Such is the “saintly” wisdom that is being clung to by fundamentalists and claimed as revealed truth and holy word.