R o l a n d
I thought the note was nicely delivered so that I can pick up on other shades of the information presented in From Paul to Mark: PaleoChristianity
One conversation I think is worth having, now that I've read the book, is whether the term 'Paleochristianity' is really worth adopting.
It seems that there's essentially nothing in the Bible that is either true or original. The Old Testament is entirely fabricated, and is composed entirely of ripped off bits and pieces of Zoroastrian and Hellenic history, mythology, and philosophy. In the New Testament, the gospels are entirely fake, as is the book of Acts. The only part of the NT (and, it seems, the entire Bible) that isn't just made up nonsense are Paul's letters, and even there we have to be careful due to all the interpolations. Further, Paul's letters aren't history per se, but rather spiritual and philosophical doctrine. So it seems to me that the only part of the Bible that really has any value whatsoever are Paul's letters. One could argue that Mark is of literary value, but only as an allegorical work ... I have to admit that when seen as satire, it really is piercingly funny (e.g. in making Judas the apostle who betrays Jesus). But it gives no real insight into the nature of the saviour.
I must confess to feeling a sense of outrage the more I learn about the origins of the biblical narratives. It would be one thing if they were just made up ... and that wouldn't even really annoy me so much: I don't get angry about The Lord of the Rings, and much that is true at a higher level can be communicated in stories that aren't strictly speaking true on the mundane level (so long as you remember the distinction). The source of my annoyance is more a sense of theft:
- the Old Testament is ripped off from Classical and Hellenistic history and philosophy
- the New Testament is ripped off from Caesar
In both cases, the actual history, philosophy, and spirituality of my people were appropriated by an alien tribe, who fabricated fictions shamelessly stolen from what we actually did, and then substituted those fictions for the truth, thereby in effect making themselves out to be of far greater importance in human history than they really are. The more I think about it the more indignant I become. They've convinced the entire world of their crucial historical importance, when it's all stolen valour. In actual reality, it seems like they're just grifters and con-men. They've added absolutely nothing of value and their influence has been, to the contrary, entirely detrimental.
So that goes back to the term 'Paleochristianity'. Both 'Jesus' and 'Christ' are titles, rather than names, and they serve mainly to obscure the identity of the true universal saviour - Julius Caesar. Furthermore, both of these titles are steeped in Jewish thought, in particular the apocalyptic messianism of the 1st centuries BC and AD. This wouldn't be a bad thing in and of itself if it weren't for the fact that 'Jewish thought' is practically a misnomer ... their entire religious corpus is just Classical, Hellenic, and Zoroastrian thought with the serial numbers filed off. Their only contribution has been to run a long con.
Honestly, I'm even a little annoyed with Paul: his whole thing of being solely concerned with the spirit realm, and seeing the physical life and identity of his Christ as being of no real importance, is awfully convenient considering that his project was essentially to convert the 'Christian' (i.e. Caesarian) cult to his version of messianism, which so far as I can tell comes down to appropriating Caesar as the son of the Jewish God. And even that wouldn't be so bad, if Yaweh were truly the origin of the monotheistic idea ... except it's not! The pagans were quite aware of the Logos or Prime Mover, a unitary supreme deity under whom the Olympic pantheon were mere administrators or caretakers; and the Zoroastrians likewise acknowledged a supreme being. So even this idea that Yahweh was some sort of unique discovery on the part of the Israelites is just one more example of intellectual perfidy. From that perspective, Paul's appropriation of Caesar as messiah in Jewish terms doesn't really seem to add a whole lot.
Now, I suppose an argument could be made for running with Paleochristianity because, after all, society is Christian (or post-Christian, really, though still based loosely on Christian ideology), and people need to be met where they are and spoken to in a language they understand. Even non-Christians generally take the New Testament narrative more or less at face value, and while they might not buy the miracles they go along with the vague idea that there was this nice hippy guy in sandals wandering around Palestine being nice to people for a few years, which extraordinary niceness somehow started a major world religion. But I guess the problem with the term Paleochristian is that it reinforces this myth, and in using it, one will constantly have to clarify, "well actually, we don't think anything in the Bible really happened, also the saviour of mankind was really Julius Caesar". But then why use any term referring to Christianity at all? Certainly no believing Christian would consider this stance to be anything they recognize as Christianity, and nor would a non-believer, once it's explained to them. So why not use a different term, which accurately reflects the actual beliefs, doctrine, and history, and its actual origin not in Palestine but in Graeco-Roman antiquity?
I don't have an actual suggestion for the term ('Caesarism' doesn't really get it across, plus it already has a meaning, which isn't really the meaning we'd want....) But I'd be interested to know what others think.
“Only as creators!—This has given me the greatest difficulty and goes on being my greatest difficulty: to recognize that unspeakably more depends on what things are called than on what they are. The fame, name, and appearance of a thing, what it counts as, its customary measure and weight—which in the beginning is an arbitrary error for the most part, thrown over things like a garment and alien to their essence, even to their skin—due to the continuous growth of belief in it from generation to generation, this gradually grows, as it were, onto and into the thing, and turns into its very body. The initial appearance almost always becomes the essence in the end and acts as essence! But only a fool would think it was enough to point to this beginning and to this misty mantle of illusion in order to destroy the world that counts as essential, so-called "reality"! Only as creators can we destroy! But we should also not forget this: creating new names and assessments and apparent truths is eventually enough to create new "things".”