THEOSOPHY, Vol. 57, No. 2, December, 1968
(Pages 44-53; Size: 30K)
(Number 14 of a 36-part series)
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME(6)
PETER AND PAUL
THE majority of critics show that Peter never was at Rome at all; the reasons are many and unanswerable. Perhaps we had best begin by pointing to the works of Justin Martyr. This great champion of Christianity, writing in the early part of the second century in Rome, where he fixed his abode, eager to get hold of the least proof in favor of the truth for which he suffered, seems perfectly unconscious of St. Peter's existence!! Neither does any other writer of any consequence mention him in connection with the Church of Rome, earlier than the days of Irenæus, when the latter set himself to invent a new religion, drawn from the depths of his imagination.
The very apostolic designation Peter is from the Mysteries. The Hierophant or supreme pontiff bore the title peter, or interpreter. The names Phtah, Peth'r, the residence of Balaam, Patara, and Patras, the names of oracle-cities, pateres or pateras and, perhaps, Buddha, all come from the same root. Jesus says: "Upon this petra I will build my Church, and the gates, or rulers of Hades, shall not prevail against it"; meaning by petra the rock-temple, and by metaphor, the Christian Mysteries; the adversaries to which were the old mystery-gods of the underworld, who were worshipped in the rites of Isis, Adonis, Atys, Sabazius, Dionysus, and the Eleusinia. No apostle Peter was ever at Rome; but the Pope, seizing the sceptre of the Pontifex Maximus, the keys of Janus and Kubelé, and adorning his Christian head with the cap of the Magna Mater, copied from that of the tiara of Brahmâtma, the Supreme Pontiff of the Initiates of old India, became the successor of the Pagan high priest, the real Peter-Roma, or Petroma.
The Roman Catholic Church has two far mightier enemies than the "heretics" and the "infidels"; and these are -- Comparative Mythology and Philology. There never was nor ever will be a truly philosophical mind, whether of Pagan, heathen, Jew, or Christian, but has followed the same path of thought. Gautama-Buddha is mirrored in the precepts of Christ; Paul and Philo Judæus are faithful echoes of Plato; and Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus won their immortal fame by combining the teachings of all these grand masters of true philosophy. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good," ought to be the motto of all brothers on earth. Not so is it with the interpreters of the Bible. The seed of the Reformation was sown on the day that the second chapter of the Catholic Epistle of James, jostled the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the same New Testament. One who believes in Paul cannot believe in James, Peter, and John. The Paulists, to remain Christians with their apostle, must withstand Peter "to the face;" and if Peter "was to be blamed" and was wrong, then he was not infallible. How then can his successor (?) boast of his infallibility? Every Kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every house divided against itself must fall. A plurality of masters has proved as fatal in religions as in politics. What Paul preached was preached by every other mystic philosopher. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage!" exclaims the honest apostle-philosopher; and adds, as if prophetically inspired: "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
For such men as Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Apollonius, and even Simon Magus, to be accused of having formed a pact with the Devil, whether the latter personage exist or not, is so absurd as to need but little refutation. If Simon Magus -- the most problematical of all in an historical sense -- ever existed otherwise than in the overheated fancy of Peter and the other apostles, he was evidently no worse than any of his adversaries. A difference in religious views, however great, is insufficient per se to send one person to heaven and the other to hell. Such uncharitable and peremptory doctrine might have been taught in the middle ages; but it is too late now for even the Church to put forward this traditional scarecrow. Research begins to suggest that which, if ever verified, will bring eternal disgrace on the Church of the Apostle Peter, whose very imposition of herself upon that disciple must be regarded as the most unverified and unverifiable of the assumptions of the Catholic clergy.
The erudite author of Supernatural Religion assiduously endeavors to prove that by Simon Magus we must understand the apostle Paul, whose Epistles were secretly as well as openly calumniated by Peter, and charged with containing "dysnoëtic learning." The Apostle of the Gentiles was brave, outspoken, sincere, and very learned; the Apostle of Circumcision, cowardly, cautious, insincere, and very ignorant. That Paul had been, partially, at least, if not completely, initiated into the theurgic mysteries, admits of little doubt. His language, the phraseology so peculiar to the Greek philosophers, certain expressions used but by the initiates, are so many sure ear-marks to that supposition. Our suspicion has been strengthened by an able article in one of the New York periodicals, entitled Paul and Plato, in which the author puts forward one remarkable and, for us, very precious observation. In his Epistles to the Corinthians he shows Paul abounding with "expressions suggested by the initiations of Sabazius and Eleusis, and the lectures of the (Greek) philosophers. He (Paul) designates himself an idiotes -- a person unskilful in the Word, but not in the gnosis or philosophical learning. 'We speak wisdom among the perfect or initiated,' he writes; 'not the wisdom of this world, nor of the archons of this world, but divine wisdom in a mystery, secret -- which none of the Archons of this world knew.'"
What else can the apostle mean by these unequivocal words, but that he himself, as belonging to the mystú (initiated), spoke of things shown and explained only in the Mysteries? The "divine wisdom in a mystery which none of the archons of this world knew," has evidently some direct reference to the basileus of the Eleusinian initiation who did know. The basileus belonged to the staff of the great hierophant, and was an archon of Athens; and as such was one of the chief mystú, belonging to the interior Mysteries, to which a very select and small number obtained an entrance. The magistrates supervising the Eleusinians were called archons.
Another proof that Paul belonged to the circle of the "Initiates" lies in the following fact. The apostle had his head shorn at Cenchrea (where Lucius, Apuleius, was initiated) because "he had a vow." The nazars -- or set apart -- as we see in the Jewish Scriptures, had to cut their hair which they wore long, and which "no razor touched" at any other time, and sacrifice it on the altar of initiation. And the nazars were a class of Chaldean theurgists. We will show further that Jesus belonged to this class.
Paul declares that: "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation."
This expression, master-builder, used only once in the whole Bible, and by Paul, may be considered as a whole revelation. In the Mysteries, the third part of the sacred rites was called Epopteia, or revelation, reception into the secrets. In substance it means that stage of divine clairvoyance when everything pertaining to this earth disappears, and earthly sight is paralyzed, and the soul is united free and pure with its Spirit, or God. But the real significance of the word is "overseeing," from optomai -- I see myself. In Sanscrit the word evâpto has the same meaning, as well as to obtain.(1) The word epopteia is a compound one, from Epi -- upon, and optomai -- to look, or an overseer, an inspector -- also used for a master-builder. The title of master-mason, in Freemasonry, is derived from this, in the sense used in the Mysteries. Therefore, when Paul entitles himself a "master-builder," he is using a word pre-eminently kabalistic, theurgic, and masonic, and one which no other apostle uses. He thus declares himself an adept, having the right to initiate others.
If we search in this direction, with those sure guides, the Grecian Mysteries and the Kabala, before us, it will be easy to find the secret reason why Paul was so persecuted and hated by Peter, John, and James. The author of the Revelation was a Jewish kabalist pur sang, with all the hatred inherited by him from his forefathers toward the Mysteries.(2) His jealousy during the life of Jesus extended even to Peter; and it is but after the death of their common master that we see the two apostles -- the former of whom wore the Mitre and the Petaloon of the Jewish Rabbis -- preach so zealously the rite of circumcision. In the eyes of Peter, Paul, who had humiliated him, and whom he felt so much his superior in "Greek learning" and philosophy, must have naturally appeared as a magician, a man polluted with the "Gnosis," with the "wisdom" of the Greek Mysteries -- hence, perhaps, "Simon(3) the Magician."
As to Peter, biblical criticism has shown before now that he had probably no more to do with the foundation of the Latin Church at Rome, than to furnish the pretext so readily seized upon by the cunning Irenæus to benefit this Church with the new name of the apostle -- Petra or Kiffa, a name which allowed so readily, by an easy play upon words, to connect it with Petroma, the double set of stone tablets used by the hierophant at the initiation, during the final Mystery. In this, perhaps, lies concealed the whole secret of the claims of the Vatican. As Professor Wilder happily suggests: "In the Oriental countries the designation Peter (in Phoenician and Chaldaic, an interpreter) appears to have been the title of this personage (the hierophant).... There is in these facts some reminder of the peculiar circumstances of the Mosaic Law ... and also of the claim of the Pope to be the successor of Peter, the hierophant or interpreter of the Christian religion."(4)
As such, we must concede to him, to some extent, the right to be such an interpreter. The Latin Church has faithfully preserved in symbols, rites, ceremonies, architecture, and even in the very dress of her clergy, the tradition of the Pagan worship -- of the public or exoteric ceremonies, we should add; otherwise her dogmas would embody more sense and contain less blasphemy against the majesty of the Supreme and Invisible God.
An inscription found on the coffin of Queen Mentuhept, of the eleventh dynasty (2250 B.C.), now proved to have been transcribed from the seventeenth chapter of the Book of the Dead (dating not later than 4500 B.C.), is more than suggestive. This monumental text contains a group of hieroglyphics, which, when interpreted, read thus:
Baron Bunsen shows this sacred formulary mixed up with a whole series of glosses and various interpretations on a monument forty centuries old. "This is identical with saying that the record (the true interpretation) was at that time no longer intelligible.... We beg our readers to understand," he adds, "that a sacred text, a hymn, containing the words of a departed spirit, existed in such a state about 4,000 years ago ... as to be all but unintelligible to royal scribes."
That it was unintelligible to the uninitiated among the latter is as well proved by the confused and contradictory glossaries, as that it was a "mystery"-word, known to the hierophants of the sanctuaries, and, moreover, a word chosen by Jesus, to designate the office assigned by him to one of his apostles. This word, PTR, was partially interpreted, owing to another word similiarly written in another group of hieroglyphics, on a stele, the sign used for it being an opened eye.(5) Bunsen mentions as another explanation of PTR -- "to show." "It appears to me," he remarks, "that our PTR is literally the old Aramaic and Hebrew 'Patar,' which occurs in the history of Joseph as the specific word for interpreting; whence also Pitrum is the term for interpretation of a text, a dream." In a manuscript of the first century, a combination of the Demotic and Greek texts, and most probably one of the few which miraculously escaped the Christian vandalism of the second and third centuries, when all such precious manuscripts were burned as magical, we find occurring in several places a phrase, which, perhaps, may throw some light upon this question. One of the principal heroes of the manuscript, who is constantly referred to as "the Judean Illuminator" or Initiate, is made to communicate but with his Patar; the latter being written in Chaldaic characters. Once the latter word is coupled with the name Shimeon. Several times, the "Illuminator," who rarely breaks his contemplative solitude, is shown inhabiting a cave, and teaching the multitude of eager scholars standing outside, not orally, but through this Patar. The latter receives the words of wisdom by applying his ear to a circular hole in a partition which conceals the teacher from the listeners, and then conveys them, with explanations and glossaries, to the crowd. This, with a slight change, was the method used by Pythagoras, who, as we know, never allowed his neophytes to see him during the years of probation, but instructed them from behind a curtain in his cave.
But, whether the "Illuminator" of the Græco-Demotic manuscript is identical with Jesus or not, the fact remains, that we find him selecting a "mystery"-appellation for one who is made to appear later by the Catholic Church as the janitor of the Kingdom of Heaven and the interpreter of Christ's will. The word Patar or Peter locates both master and disciple in the circle of initiation, and connects them with the "Secret Doctrine." The great hierophant of the ancient Mysteries never allowed the candidates to see or hear him personally. He was the Deus-ex-Machina, the presiding but invisible Deity, uttering his will and instructions through a second party; and 2,000 years later, we discover that the Dalaï-Lamas of Thibet had been following for centuries the same traditional programme during the most important religious mysteries of lamaism. If Jesus knew the secret meaning of the title bestowed by him on Simon, then he must have been initiated; otherwise he could not have learned it; and if he was an initiate of either the Pythagorean Essenes, the Chaldean Magi, or the Egyptian Priests, then the doctrine taught by him was but a portion of the "Secret Doctrine" taught by the Pagan hierophants to the few selected adepts admitted within the sacred adyta.
We must once more return to that greatest of all the Patristic frauds; the one which has undeniably helped the Roman Catholic Church to its unmerited supremacy, viz.: the barefaced assertion, in the teeth of historical evidence, that Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome. It is but too natural that the Latin clergy should cling to it, for, with the exposure of the fraudulent nature of this pretext, the dogma of apostolic succession must fall to the ground.
There have been many able works of late, in refutation of this preposterous claim. Among others we note Mr. G. Reber's, The Christ of Paul, which overthrows it quite ingeniously. The author proves, 1, that there was no church established at Rome, until the reign of Antoninus Pius; 2, that as Eusebius and Irenæus both agree that Linus was the second Bishop of Rome, into whose hands "the blessed apostles" Peter and Paul committed the church after building it, it could not have been at any other time than between A.D. 64 and 68; 3, that this interval of years happens during the reign of Nero, for Eusebius states that Linus held his office twelve years (Ecclesiastical History, book iii., c .13), entering upon it A.D. 69, one year after the death of Nero, and dying himself in 81. After that the author maintains, on very solid grounds, that Peter could not be in Rome A.D. 64, for he was then in Babylon; wherefrom he wrote his first Epistle, the date of which is fixed by Dr. Lardner and other critics at precisely this year. But we believe that his best argument is in proving that it was not in the character of the cowardly Peter to risk himself in such close neighborhood with Nero, who "was feeding the wild beasts of the Amphitheatre with the flesh and bones of Christians" at that time.
Perhaps the Church of Rome was but consistent in choosing as her titular founder the apostle who thrice denied his master at the moment of danger; and the only one, moreover, except Judas, who provoked Christ in such a way as to be addressed as the "Enemy." "Get thee behind me, SATAN!" exclaims Jesus, rebuking the taunting apostle.
There is a tradition in the Greek Church which has never found favor at the Vatican. The former traces its origin to one of the Gnostic leaders -- Basilides, perhaps, who lived under Trajan and Adrian, at the end of the first and the beginning of the second century. With regard to this particular tradition, if the Gnostic is Basilides, then he must be accepted as a sufficient authority, having claimed to have been a disciple of the Apostle Matthew, and to have had for master Glaucias, a disciple of St. Peter himself. Were the narrative attributed to him authenticated, the London Committee for the Revision of the Bible would have to add a new verse to Matthew, Mark, and John, who tell the story of Peter's denial of Christ.
This tradition, then, of which we have been speaking, affirms that, when frightened at the accusation of the servant of the high priest, the apostle had thrice denied his master, and the cock had crowed, Jesus, who was then passing through the hall in custody of the soldiers, turned, and, looking at Peter, said: "Verily, I say unto thee, Peter, thou shalt deny me throughout the coming ages, and never stop until thou shalt be old, and shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee and carry thee wither thou wouldst not." The latter part of this sentence, say the Greeks, relates to the Church of Rome, and prophesies her constant apostasy from Christ, under the mask of false religion. Later, it was inserted in the twenty-first chapter of John, but the whole of this chapter had been pronounced a forgery, even before it was found that this Gospel was never written by John the Apostle at all.
The anonymous author of Supernatural Religion, a work which in two years passed through several editions, and which is alleged to have been written by an eminent theologian, proves conclusively the spuriousness of the four gospels, or at least their complete transformation in the hands of the too-zealous Irenæus and his champions. The fourth gospel is completely upset by this able author; the extraordinary forgeries of the Fathers of the early centuries are plainly demonstrated, and the relative value of the synoptics is discussed with an unprecedented power of logic. The work carries conviction in its every line. From it we quote the following: "We gain infinitely more than we lose in abandoning belief in the reality of Divine Revelation. Whilst we retain, pure and unimpaired, the treasure of Christian morality, we relinquish nothing but the debasing elements added to it by human superstition. We are no longer bound to believe a theology which outrages reason and moral sense. We are freed from base anthropomorphic views of God and His government of the Universe, and from Jewish Mythology we rise to higher conceptions of an infinitely wise and beneficent Being, hidden from our finite minds, it is true, in the impenetrable glory of Divinity, but whose laws of wondrous comprehensiveness and perfection we ever perceive in operation around us.... The argument so often employed by theologians, that Divine revelation is necessary for man, and that certain views contained in that revelation are required for our moral consciousness, is purely imaginary, and derived from the revelation which it seeks to maintain. The only thing absolutely necessary for man is TRUTH, and to that, and that alone, must our moral consciousness adapt itself."
We will consider farther in what light was regarded the Divine revelation of the Jewish Bible by the Gnostics, who yet believed in Christ in their own way, a far better and less blasphemous one than the Roman Catholic. The Fathers have forced on the believers in Christ a Bible, the laws prescribed in which he was the first to break; the teachings of which he utterly rejected; and for which crimes he was finally crucified. Of whatever else the Christian world can boast, it can hardly claim logic and consistency as its chief virtues.
The fact alone that Peter remained to the last an "apostle of the circumcision," speaks for itself. Whosoever else might have built the Church of Rome it was not Peter. If such were the case, the successors of this apostle would have to submit themselves to circumcision, if it were but for the sake of consistency, and to show that the claims of the popes are not utterly groundless, Dr. Inman asserts that report says that "in our Christian times popes have to be privately perfect," but we do not know whether it is carried to the extent of the Levitical Jewish law. The first fifteen Christian bishops of Jerusalem, commencing with James and including Judas, were all circumcised Jews.
In the Sepher Toldos Jeshu, a Hebrew manuscript of great antiquity, the version about Peter is different. Simon Peter, it says, was one of their own brethren, though he had somewhat departed from the laws, and the Jewish hatred and persecution of the apostle seems to have existed but in the fecund imagination of the fathers. The author speaks of him with great respect and fairness, calling him "a faithful servant of the living God," who passed his life in austerity and meditation, "living in Babylon at the summit of a tower," composing hymns, and preaching charity. He adds that Peter always recommended to the Christians not to molest the Jews, but as soon as he was dead, behold another preacher went to Rome and pretended that Simon Peter had altered the teachings of his master. He invented a burning hell and threatened every one with it; promised miracles, but worked none.
How much there is in the above of fiction and how much of truth, it is for others to decide; but it certainly bears more the evidence of sincerity and fact on its face, than the fables concocted by the fathers to answer their end.
We may the more readily credit this friendship between Peter and his late co-religionists as we find in Theodoret the following assertion: "The Nazarenes are Jews, honoring the ANOINTED (Jesus) as a just man and using the Evangel according to Peter." Peter was a Nazarene, according to the Talmud. He belonged to the sect of the later Nazarenes, which dissented from the followers of John the Baptist, and became a rival sect; and which -- as tradition goes -- was instituted by Jesus himself.
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:
Dogmatism is much closer to skepticism than we imagine.... For the dogmatics, quite as much as for the skeptics, the essential thing is their eopche (suspension of judgment) -- with this difference: that the skeptic, when he has had enough of trying to untie the Gordian knot of existence, declares, "We know nothing and can know nothing; it is useless to struggle," while the dogmatic says, "I already know all that is necessary to know; accept what I know and be content."
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
GOD: Where? Who? What?
(Part 15 of a 36-part series)
Back to the
"Christianity in the Light of Theosophy"
complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
SIX (6) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(6) 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.
Back to text.
(1) In its most extensive meaning, the Sanscrit word has the same literal sense as the Greek term; both imply "revelation," by no human agent, but through the "receiving of the sacred drink." In India the initiated received the "Soma," sacred drink, which helped to liberate his soul from the body; and in the Eleusinian Mysteries it was the sacred drink offered at the Epopteia. The Grecian Mysteries are wholly derived from the Brahmanical Vedic rites, and the latter from the ante-vedic religious Mysteries -- primitive Buddhist Philosophy.
Back to text.
(2) It is needless to state that the Gospel according to John was not written by John but by a Platonist or a Gnostic belonging to the Neo-platonic school.
Back to text.
(3) The fact that Peter persecuted the "Apostle to the Gentiles," under that name, does not necessarily imply that there was no Simon Magas individually distinct from Paul. It may have become a generic name of abuse. Theodoret and Chrysostom, the earliest and most prolific commentators on the Gnosticism of those days, seem actually to make of Simon a rival of Paul, and to state that between them passed frequent messages. The former, as a diligent propagandist of what Paul terms the "antitheses of the Gnosis" (1st Epistle to Timothy), must have been a sore thorn in the side of the apostle. There are sufficient proofs of the actual existence of Simon Magus.
Back to text.
(4) Had we not trustworthy kabalistic tradition to rely upon, we might be, perhaps, forced to question whether the authorship of the Revelation is to be ascribed to the apostle of that name. He seems to be termed John the Theologist.
Back to text.
(5) See de Rougé: "Stele," p. 44; PTAR (videus) is interpreted on it "to appear," with a sign of interrogation after it -- the usual mark of scientific perplexity. In Bunsen's fifth volume of "Egypt," the interpretation following is "Illuminator," which is more correct.
Back to text.