How we can know that Paul never regarded “Jesus Christ” as a flesh-and-blood person

In Galatians 1:11-12 the apostle Paul writes,

For I make known to you, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught (it), but (I received it) through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Notice that Paul seems to be implying that a gospel received “from man,” at second-hand, is inferior to a direct revelation from Jesus Christ.  And that idea seems to be consistent with Galatians 1:15-20, in which Paul goes on to write,

But when it pleased God—the one who separated me from my mother’s womb and who called me through his grace—to reveal his Son in me so that I might announce the good news about him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to the apostles (who were apostles) before me, but I went off into Arabia, and again returned to Damascus.  Then, after three years [!], I went up to Jerusalem to become personally acquainted with Cephas [i.e., “Peter”; see John 1:42], and I stayed with him for fifteen days.  But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the brother of the Lord [which is almost certainly a kind of metaphorical “title,” not the literal description of a biological relation; cf. John 20:17, Philemon 1:1, and Galatians 1:11, quoted just above].  And take heed, (in) the things I write to you, (I swear) before God, I do not lie.

Notice that Paul is saying all this as if it gave added credibility to his claim of having received a revelation from Jesus Christ, and to the content of that revelation.  He apparently didn’t want people to think that he was just passing along second-hand “revelation stories” that he had heard from others.  Moreover, it seems that Paul didn’t feel that he had much to learn from the other apostles, since anything he learned from them would have been merely “according to man.”  He had already had his own personal, direct revelation—just as the other apostles had had theirs.  (In fact, I think it’s reasonable to surmise that having had a personal, direct revelation from “Jesus Christ” is what was considered to make an “apostle” an apostle.)

As far as I am concerned, this passage provides virtually irrefutable proof that Paul did not regard “Jesus Christ” as an actual, historical, flesh-and-blood individual.  Note that Paul makes a point of saying that after Jesus was revealed to him, he did not go to see any of the other apostles in Jerusalem.  Instead, he waited three years before going to see them.  If Paul understood Jesus to be an historical individual, one whom Paul now believed to be the one and only eternal Son of God, wouldn’t he have made it his absolute top priority in life to go as quickly as possible to the disciples/apostles who personally knew Jesus and spent time with him, so that he could learn everything that he possibly could about Jesus’s life and teachings from those who had witnessed everything first-hand?  Wasn’t Paul concerned that some of them might die or forget some important things during that lengthy period of three years?  Not all that much, it seems.

A Christian may be inclined to suggest that Paul, as a result of his personal revelation from Jesus Christ, must have already learned everything about Jesus Christ and his teachings that was possibly worth knowing.  But how could he have known that to be true without first having spoken with the other apostles to find out what exactly Jesus had taught them, and what they had personally witnessed of his life, death, and resurrection?  I would also ask that same Christian why, according to the traditional Christian account, God bothered to reveal himself in the flesh at all—if that is indeed an inferior and unnecessary way of going about revealing himself to human beings.  Why didn’t God just reveal himself directly to all of the apostles in the form of “visions”?  Well, I’m arguing that—at least according to how Paul saw things—that’s exactly what God did.

Galatians 1:15-20 shows that whatever exactly Paul understood “Jesus Christ” to mean—and it is admittedly evident that some notion of “Jesus Christ” did have great significance for Paul—it is not even conceivable to the mind of a reasonable person that Paul understood him to be an historical, flesh-and-blood individual.

The figure of Jesus seen as the “cut-off member” of the Jewish “body”

I ask you to be a bit patient as I go about helping you to see what appears to be an esoteric meaning contained in one of Jesus’s parables—a meaning which, if I am correct in believing that it was probably intended by the authors of the Gospels (whether consciously or unconsciously), would be quite remarkable.  I recommend that the first time you read the Bible passages quoted below, that you only read the text in red, and skip the bracketed material.  I also recommend that you not refer to the endnotes the first time you read the post.

The particular parable I have in mind can be found in Matthew 5:29-30, in which Jesus says,

And if your right eye causes you to be offended [or to stumble, or to offend, or to become indignant, or to be led into temptation, or to get stuck, or to get tripped up; more literally, to be ensnared: skandalizō], pluck it out [or pull it out, or lift it out, or take it out, or rescue it: ex-aireō][1] and cast [or send: ballō] (it) away from [apo] you.  For it is profitable [or advantageous: sympherō] for you that [hina] one [hen] of your members [melos] should perish [or be ruined, or be destroyed: apollymi, a word that appears to be derived from apo-lyō, which can mean “to cut loose, to detach, to cut off, to cut away”], and (the) whole [holos] (of) your body [sōma] not be cast [or sent: ballō] into Gehenna [or hell: geenna].[2]  And if your right hand[3] causes you to be offended [or to stumble: skandalizō], cut it off [ek-koptō] and cast [or send: ballō] (it) away from [apo] you.[4]  For it is profitable [sympherō] for you that [hina] one [hen] of your members [melos] should perish [apollymi], and (the) whole [holos] (of) your body [sōma] not go away [ap-erchomai] into Gehenna [or hell: geenna].[5]

Compare the quoted passage to John 11:47-53, which says,

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together [syn-agō] the Council [or Sanhedrin: synedrion] and said, “What do we do (now)?  For this man does many signs.  If we let him go on in this way, everyone will believe [or be persuaded: pisteuō] unto him, and the Romans will come and will take away [or destroy: airō] from us both the (holy) place and the nation [or people: ethnos].”  But one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You understand nothing at all.  Nor are you considering that it is profitable [sympherō] for us that [hina] one [heis] man [anthrōpos] should perish [or die: apothnéskō] for the sake of the people [laos, not ethnos], and (the) whole [holos] (of) the nation [ethnos, not laos] not be destroyed [or perish, or be ruined, or be lost: apollymi].”  And he said this not of his own accord [more literally, “from himself”], but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die [apothnéskō] for the sake of the nation [ethnos]—and not for the sake of the nation [ethnos] alone, but also so that he might gather together [syn-agō] into one the children of God who had been scattered [dia-skorpizō].[6]  So from that day (on) they made plans [or purposed: bouleuō] to put him to death [apothnéskō].

In other words:  One “member” of the “body” of the people would be made to “perish” in order to benefit the “whole.”

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The “unclean foods” parable in the Gospels: Jesus lying again

In my writings on this site I repeatedly make the argument that all of the traditional religions practice “esotericism,” meaning that they knowingly make splits between an “outer meaning” and one or more “inner meanings” in their “sacred” communications.  The “outer meaning” is made freely available to “the multitude” or “the profane,” while the (different) “inner meaning” is reserved for the “elect” or “chosen” or “initiates.”  In other words, religions of this type are okay with misleading people.

Here’s an example of what I mean taken from the Bible.  (As you read what I write below, please keep in mind that I don’t believe “Jesus” was an actual, historical, individual, flesh-and-blood human being; I think he was functioning as a fictional, idealized collective representation of the authors of the Gospels, and persons like them.  So by my criticism of “Jesus,” what I am really trying to do is indicate the fact that the authors of the Gospels were oblivious to their own moral flaws—flaws stemming from their approval of religious esotericism—in so far as they were not able to recognize the defects displayed in their own imagined vision of how “the perfect man” would act.)

And having called the multitude to him again, (Jesus) said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and comprehend:  There is nothing outside the man that by going into him can make him unclean, but the things going out of the man are the things making the man unclean.  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”  [Mark 7:14-16.]

Yes, I have ears to hear!  The meaning of the passage is perfectly obvious:  Jesus is telling us that there’s no such thing as a “ritually impure food,” since it’s what comes out of us, after we eat, that makes us unclean.  And after all, isn’t that why we wash our hands after using the toilet?  Just some sound advice from Jesus on the matter of personal hygiene, that’s all.

But wait.  The passage then continues:

And when he had entered the house away from the multitude [or commoners, or crowd: ochlos], his disciples asked him (the meaning of) the parable.  And he said to them, “So are you also without comprehension?  Do you not understand that everything going into the man from outside cannot make him unclean, since it enters not his HEART but his BELLY, and GOES OUT into the latrine, (thus) purifying all foods?”  And he said, “What GOES OUT of the man, that is what makes him unclean.  For from within, out of the HEART of man, go forth evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”  [Mark 7:17-22.]

Ohhhhh, now I get it.  The first passage was only giving us the “exoteric meaning”—and, being “common,” I unfortunately got taken in by it.  Stupid me.  But now that we have additionally learned the “esoteric meaning,” we understand that mere food cannot make a person “unclean” after all—not even, it would seem—that is, assuming we are strictly following Jesus’s exact words and giving those words their ordinary “surface level” definitions—not even at the stage when the food “goes out” of the “belly” of the person “into the latrine” in the form of excrement.  We now know that it is what comes “out of the heart” that makes a person “unclean” or “defiled”; at least, that’s the only kind of “uncleanliness” or “defilement” that seems to be of concern to Jesus.  So does that mean Jesus is telling us that if we’re true “disciples,” we needn’t be all that concerned with washing our hands after using the latrine, since using the latrine doesn’t actually make us “unclean” or “defiled” in any way that we ought to consider especially significant?  It would seem so—at least, so long as we choose to take at face value what Jesus says to his “disciples.”  (But it must be stressed that to do that might be just as big a mistake as we now know it was for us to take at face value what Jesus had just said to “the multitude.”  For the most part, however, I will ignore that line of thinking in the present context, since to explore it in any depth would only exponentially increase the confusion involved in trying to make sense of the passages quoted above; I will only mention in passing the possibility that words such as “food” and “belly” and “hands” and “washing” may have been intended by the author to be understood as having esoteric meanings of their own.  In other words, it’s important that the reader at least be aware of the possibility of various levels of meaning existing simultaneously—perhaps overlapping with each other at certain points, but perhaps not at others.)

It may sound like I’m merely being facetious (and maybe somewhat boorish at the same time) when I offer the suggestion that Jesus seems to be implicitly telling his disciples that it’s not especially important for them to “wash their hands” after using the “latrine.”  But my suggestion actually begins to appear less outlandish when the quoted verses are read in the context of the almost immediately preceding verses of Mark 7:1-8, in which we are told that at least some of Jesus’s disciples were refusing to wash their admittedly “unclean hands” before they ate.  (Regardless of how “hypocritical” the “scribes and Pharisees” may have been, I still would have been appreciative that they were washing their hands and utensils before eating.  I don’t wish to get too graphic, so I’ll say nothing more than remind the reader that toilet paper did not exist in ancient times.  And, incidentally, if anyone thinks that I’m being excessively vulgar simply by talking about these matters at all, just remember that the vulgarity comes from the Bible, not from me; it was Jesus who first brought up the subject matter of “latrines” and digested food.  Moreover, I’m quite certain that this particular double meaning regarding “the things going out of the man” was meant to be noticed and appreciated by the more “discerning” reader—although, needless to say, prim and proper Christian clergymen have never allowed themselves to devote too much careful thought to what is going on here, even though it’s all to be found in their very own Holy Bible.)

Now, did you notice the little bait-and-switch pulled by Jesus in the two passages quoted above?  Pay close attention to the technique, because esotericists do stuff like this on a regular basis.  Jesus himself later admits to his disciples that the parable he told to “the multitude” involves “food”—that’s what “goes into the man from outside.”  (And once again, if you require even more proof that “food” was the intended reference, remember that Jesus also explicitly mentions “bellies” and “latrines” when speaking to his disciples.)  So, since Jesus is admittedly thinking about “food” as being that which “goes into the man from outside,” and since Jesus also speaks to the multitude of “the things going out of the man,” the reasonable member of “the multitude” would—if that member made what, it just so happens, is the correct assumption that Jesus did in fact have “food” in mind—also assume, for the sake of consistency, when Jesus speaks of “the things going out of the man,” he must be referring to “excrement” (or, less likely, “vomit”).

But no—without bothering to make anyone in the multitude “privy” to the secret “esoteric meaning” of his parable, he surreptitiously allowed his “food” reference—along with what would appear to be the reasonable understanding of “the multitude”—to just pass away “into the latrine,” so that, when alone with his disciples, he could instead talk about something entirely different:  namely, “what goes forth out of the heart,” which according to him consists of evil mental tendencies and vices.  In short, what Jesus did was to suddenly “switch body organs,” so to speak, behind the backs of “the multitude.”  And they had been given absolutely no reason to expect that he would do so.  But even in spite of that fact, Jesus still feels justified in expressing impatience with and contempt for “the multitude” by saying to his disciples, “So are you also without comprehension?”—as if the multitude’s “lack of comprehension” was their problem, rather than a result of Jesus’s own difficulty at communicating—in public, anyway—in a clear, honest, and straightforward way.

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Why did Jesus lie?

John 11:11-14 says,

(Jesus) said to (his disciples), “Our friend Lazarus is taking his rest [or, ‘has fallen asleep’: koimaō], but I go (to him) that I might awaken him [or, ‘bring him out of sleep’: ex-ypnizō, derived from hypnizō, which means ‘to put to sleep’ and is in turn derived from the word hypnos, meaning ‘sleep’].”  Therefore his disciples said to him, “Lord, if [ei] he is taking his rest [or, ‘has fallen asleep’: koimaō] [in other words, “If what you are telling us is in fact true”], he will be kept safe [or made safe, or saved, or rescued, or preserved: sōzō, related to the Greek word sōtér, meaning ‘savior’].”[1]  Now Jesus had spoken [ereō] about his death [thanatos], but it seemed [or appeared: dokeō, related to the word doxa, which can mean either “opinion” or “glory”][2] to them that he was speaking [or “meaning”: legō] about the rest [koimésis, derived from the word koimaō] of sleep [hypnos].  So then Jesus told them plainly [or openly, or forthrightly: parrésia], “Lazarus has died [apo-thnéskō, related to the word thanatos, meaning ‘death’].”

Carefully observe the Greek words being used, and notice how Jesus’s disciples initially took everything that he said at face value.[3]  The disciples’ supposedly incorrect “interpretation” of what Jesus said was essentially nothing other than a straightforward restatement of what Jesus had himself told them.  In other words, what Jesus “really meant” was something other than what he actually said.[4]

Continue reading “Why did Jesus lie?”

The Crucifixion understood as equivalent to the fall of Babel/Babylon; both events being understood to signify the end of religious esotericism (i.e., cryptic “prophecy”)

At one point in Romans 3:1-8 (which I plan to discuss in the near future), Paul quotes Psalm 51:4.  A comparison of the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Septuagint versions of Psalm 51:4 suggests that the “overcoming, prevailing, conquering, being victorious” (Greek nikaō) spoken of in Romans 3:4 was understood by the translators of the Septuagint to be equivalent to “being made pure, being made clean, being made clear” (Hebrew zakah).  This should be kept in mind when considering the use of the Greek word nikaō in passages such as Revelation 21:6-7 (especially when that passage is read in conjunction with Revelation 22:1).

Such an equivalence between the idea of “overcoming” or “prevailing,” and “being made pure” or “being made clear,” would also tend to reinforce the hypothesis that I offered in a previous post that the purified “spirit of Jesus” may have been regarded by the authors of the New Testament as something that would ultimately come to replace the “unclean spirit” or “impure spirit.”  This would indicate that the figure of “Jesus”—which I believe should be regarded as an archetype representing all of the schizophrenic “prophets” at once—was understood to “prevail” (i.e., “be made clean, be made clear, be made pure”) at the symbolic moment of his “death” on the Cross.  And I think that it was Jesus’s speech or language that was, more than anything, understood by the authors of the New Testament to have been made “pure” or “clean” or “clear” at that symbolic moment—that is, from the perspective of those listening to him—when he finally gave the “great shout” or “loud cry” that he had been holding back prior to that.  (Cf. Matthew 10:27.)

I think the belief of the authors of the New Testament was that non-schizophrenics would acquire the ability to speak in “schizophrenese” to some extent, even at the same time as their doing that would provide the schizophrenic “prophets” with a greater feeling of safety, giving them the freedom to speak less schizophrenically themselves.  I think the hope or expectation of the authors was that the two groups would “meet each other half-way,” so to speak—and doing this is what would accomplish the “fulfilling” (or “completing,” or “finishing,” or “perfecting,” or “bringing to an end”: teleō or teleioō) of “prophecy.”

Continue reading “The Crucifixion understood as equivalent to the fall of Babel/Babylon; both events being understood to signify the end of religious esotericism (i.e., cryptic “prophecy”)”