THEOSOPHY, Vol. 57, No. 10, August, 1969
(Pages 301-306; Size: 18K)
(Number 22 of a 36-part series)
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME(5)
JESUS: A Great Reformer
AFTER nineteen centuries of enforced eliminations from the canonical books of every sentence which might put the investigator on the true path, it has become very difficult to show, to the satisfaction of exact science, that the "Pagan" worshippers of Adonis, their neighbors, the Nazarenes, and the Pythagorean Essenes, the healing Therapeutes, the Ebionites, and other sects, were all, with slight differences, followers of the ancient theurgic Mysteries. And yet by analogy and a close study of the hidden sense of their rites and customs, we can trace their kinship.
It was given to a contemporary of Jesus to become the means of pointing out to posterity, by his interpretation of the oldest literature of Israel, how deeply the kabalistic philosophy agreed in its esoterism with that of the profoundest Greek thinkers. This contemporary, an ardent disciple of Plato and Aristotle, was Philo Judæus. While explaining the Mosaic books according to a purely kabalistic method, he is the famous Hebrew writer whom Kingsley calls the Father of New Platonism.
It is evident that Philo's Therapeutes are a branch of the Essenes. Their name indicates it -- Asaya, physician. Hence, the contradictions, forgeries, and other desperate expedients to reconcile the prophecies of the Jewish canon with the Galilean nativity and godship.
Luke, who was a physician, is designated in the Syriac texts as Asaia, the Essaian or Essene. Josephus and Philo Judæus have sufficiently described this sect to leave no doubt in our mind that the Nazarene Reformer, after having received his education in their dwellings in the desert, and been duly initiated in the Mysteries, preferred the free and independent life of a wandering Nazaria, and so separated or inazarenized himself from them, thus becoming a travelling Therapeute, a Nazaria, a healer. Every Therapeute, before quitting his community, had to do the same. Both Jesus and St. John the Baptist preached the end of the Age;(1) which proves their knowledge of the secret computation of the priests and kabalists, who with the chiefs of the Essene communities alone had the secret of the duration of the cycles. The latter were kabalists and theurgists; "they had their mystic books, and predicted future events," says Munk.
Dunlap, whose personal researches seem to have been quite successful in that direction, traces the Essenes, Nazarenes, Dositheans, and some other sects as having all existed before Christ: "They rejected pleasures, despised riches, loved one another, and more than other sects, neglected wedlock, deeming the conquest of the passions to be virtuous," he says.
These are all virtues preached by Jesus; and if we are to take the gospels as a standard of truth, Christ was a metempsychosist or reincarnationist -- again like these same Essenes, whom we see were Pythagoreans in all their doctrines and habits. Iamblichus asserts that the Samian philosopher spent a certain time at Carmel with them. In his discourses and sermons, Jesus always spoke in parables and used metaphors with his audience. This habit was again that of the Essenians and the Nazarenes; the Galileans who dwelt in cities and villages were never known to use such allegorical language. Indeed, some of his disciples being Galileans as well as himself, felt even surprised to find him using with the people such a form of expression. "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" they often inquired. "Because, it is given unto you to know the Mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given," was the reply, which was that of an initiate. "Therefore, I speak unto them in parables; because, they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand." Moreover, we find Jesus expressing his thoughts still clearer -- and in sentences which are purely Pythagorean -- when, during the Sermon on the Mount, he says:Give ye not that which is sacred to the dogs,Professor A. Wilder, the editor of Taylor's Eleusinian Mysteries, observes "a like disposition on the part of Jesus and Paul to classify their doctrines as esoteric and exoteric, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God 'for the apostles,' and 'parables' for the multitude. 'We speak wisdom,' says Paul, 'among them that are perfect' (or initiated)."
Neither cast ye your pearls before swine;
For the swine will tread them under their feet
And the dogs will turn and rend you.
In the Eleusinian and other Mysteries the participants were always divided into two classes, the neophytes and the perfect. The former were sometimes admitted to the preliminary initiation: the dramatic performance of Ceres, or the soul, descending to Hades.(2) But it was given only to the "perfect" to enjoy and learn the Mysteries of the divine Elysium, the celestial abode of the blessed; this Elysium being unquestionably the same as the "Kingdom of Heaven." To contradict or reject the above, would be merely to shut one's eyes to the truth.
Thus, in common with Pythagoras and other hierophant reformers, Jesus divided his teachings into exoteric and esoteric. Following faithfully the Pythagoreo-Essenean ways, he never sat at a meal without saying "grace." "The priest prays before his meal," says Josephus, describing the Essenes. Jesus also divided his followers into "neophytes," "brethren," and the "perfect," if we may judge by the difference he made between them. But his career at least as a public Rabbi, was of a too short duration to allow him to establish a regular school of his own; and with the exception, perhaps, of John, it does not seem that he had initiated any other apostle.
The accusations against Jesus of practicing the magic of Egypt were numerous, and at one time universal, in the towns where he was known. The Pharisees, as claimed in the Bible, had been the first to fling it in his face, although Rabbi Wise considers Jesus himself a Pharisee. The Talmud certainly points to James the Just as one of that sect.(3) But these partisans are known to have always stoned every prophet who denounced their evil ways, and it is not on this fact that we base our assertion. These accused him of sorcery, and of driving out devils by Beelzebub, their prince, with as much justice as later the Catholic clergy had to accuse of the same more than one innocent martyr. But Justin Martyr states on better authority that the men of his time who were not Jews asserted that the miracles of Jesus were performed by magical art -- the very expression used by the skeptics of those days to designate the feats of thaumaturgy accomplished in the Pagan temples. "They even ventured to call him a magician and a deceiver of the people," complains the martyr. In the Gospel of Nicodemus (the Acta Pilate), the Jews bring the same accusation before Pilate. "Did we not tell thee he was a magician?" Celsus speaks of the same charge, and as a Neo-platonist believes in it. The Talmudic literature is full of the most minute particulars, and their greatest accusation is that "Jesus could fly as easily in the air as others could walk." St. Austin asserted that it was generally believed that he had been initiated in Egypt, and that he wrote books concerning magic, which he delivered to John. There was a work called Magia Jesu Christi, which was attributed to Jesus himself. In the Clementine Recognitions the charge is brought against Jesus that he did not perform his miracles as a Jewish prophet, but as a magician, i.e., an initiate of the "heathen" temples.
It was usual then, as it is now, among the intolerant clergy of opposing religions, as well as among the lower classes of society, and even among those patricians who, for various reasons had been excluded from any participation of the Mysteries, to accuse, sometimes, the highest hierophants and adepts of sorcery and black magic. So Apuleius, who had been initiated, was likewise accused of witchcraft, and of carrying about him the figure of a skeleton -- a potent agent, as it is asserted, in the operations of the black art. But one of the best and most unquestionable proofs of our assertion may be found in the so-called Museo Gregoriano. On the sarcophagus, which is panelled with bas-reliefs representing the miracles of Christ,(4) may be seen the full figure of Jesus, who, in the resurrection of Lazarus, appears beardless "and equipped with a wand in the received guise of a necromancer (?) whilst the corpse of Lazarus is swathed in bandages exactly as an Egyptian mummy."
Had posterity been enabled to have several such representations executed during the first century when the figure, dress, and everyday habits of the Reformer were still fresh in the memory of his contemporaries, perhaps the Christian world would be more Christlike; the dozens of contradictory, groundless, and utterly meaningless speculations about the "Son of Man" would have been impossible; and humanity would now have but one religion and one God. It is this absence of all proof, the lack of the least positive clew about him whom Christianity has deified, that has caused the present state of perplexity. No pictures of Christ were possible until after the days of Constantine, when the Jewish element was nearly eliminated among the followers of the new religion. The Jews, apostles, and disciples, whom the Zoroastrians and the Parsees had inoculated with a holy horror of any form of images, would have considered it a sacrilegious blasphemy to represent in any way or shape their master. The only authorized image of Jesus, even in the days of Tertullian, was an allegorical representation of the "Good Shepherd," which was no portrait, but the figure of a man with a jackal-head, like Anubis. On this gem, as seen in the collection of Gnostic amulets, the Good Shepherd bears upon his shoulders the lost lamb. He seems to have a human head upon his neck; but, as King correctly observes, "it only seems so to the uninitiated eye." On closer inspection, he becomes the double-headed Anubis, having one head human, the other a jackal's whilst his girdle assumes the form of a serpent rearing aloft its crested head. "This figure," adds the author of the Gnostics, etc., "had two meanings -- one obvious for the vulgar; the other mystical, and recognizable by the initiated alone. It was perhaps the signet of some chief teacher or apostle." This affords a fresh proof that the Gnostics and early orthodox (?) Christians were not so wide apart in their secret doctrine. King deduces from a quotation from Epiphanius, that even as late as 400 A.D. it was considered an atrocious sin to attempt to represent the bodily appearance of Christ. Epiphanius brings it as an idolatrous charge against the Carpocratians that "they kept painted portraits, and even gold and silver images, and in other materials, which they pretended to be portraits of Jesus, and made by Pilate after the likeness of Christ.... These they keep in secret, along with Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, and setting them all up together, they worship and offer sacrifices unto them after the Gentiles' fashion."
All this points undeniably to the fact, that except a handful of self-styled Christians who subsequently won the day, all the civilized portion of the Pagans who knew of Jesus honored him as a philosopher, an adept whom they placed on the same level with Pythagoras and Apollonius. Whence such a veneration on their part for a man, were he simply, as represented by the Synoptics, a poor, unknown Jewish carpenter from Nazareth? As an incarnated God there is no single record of him on this earth capable of withstanding the critical examination of science; as one of the greatest reformers, an inveterate enemy of every theological dogmatism, a persecutor of bigotry, a teacher of one of the most sublime codes of ethics, Jesus is one of the grandest and most clearly-defined figures on the panorama of human history. His age may, with every day, be receding farther and farther back into the gloomy and hazy mists of the past; and his theology -- based on human fancy and supported by untenable dogmas may, nay, must with every day lose more of its unmerited prestige; alone the grand figure of the philosopher and moral reformer instead of growing paler will become with every century more pronounced and more clearly defined. It will reign supreme and universal only on that day when the whole of humanity recognizes but one father -- the UNKNOWN ONE -- and one brother -- the whole of mankind below.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
TRUTHFULNESS -- ITS PLACE IN EVOLUTION
To explain the above caption I shall begin with a simple syllogism. Mankind's progress depends on full co-operation among men. We cannot co-operate fully, unless we are truthful to one another. Therefore, for the progress of mankind, truth-speaking is essential. Truthfulness adds a sixth sense to the five which men are endowed with and unites all mankind into one integrated unit....
The tongue is given to men to help one another with the truth as seen and not to mislead one another. Writing was invented to spread truth and not to retard civilization by untruth....
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
JESUS: Various Views
(Part 23 of a 36-part series)
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FIVE (5) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(5) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
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(1) The real meaning of the division into ages is esoteric and Buddhistic. So little did the uninitiated Christians understand it that they accepted the words of Jesus literally and firmly believed that he meant the end of the world. There had been many prophecies about the forthcoming age. Virgil, in the fourth Eclogue, mentions the Metatron -- a new offspring, with whom the iron age shall end and a golden one arise.
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(2) The descent to Hades signified the inevitable fate of each soul to be united for a time with a terrestrial body. This union, or dark prospect for the soul to find itself imprisoned within the dark tenement of a body, was considered by all the ancient and is even by the modern Buddhists, as a punishment.
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(3) We believe that it was the Sadducees and not the Pharisees who crucified Jesus. They were Zadokites -- partisans of the house of Zadok, of the sacerdotal family. In the "Acts" the apostles were said to be persecuted by the Sadducees, but never by the Pharisees. In fact, the latter never persecuted any one. They had the scribes, rabbis, and learned men in their numbers, and were not, like the Sadducees, jealous of their order.
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(4) King's Gnostics, p. 145; the author places this sarcophagus among the earliest productions of that art which inundated later the world with mosaics and engravings, representing the events and personages of the New Testament.
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