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]

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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, the apostle Paul quotes Psalm 51:4.  Both Paul’s quotation of Psalm 51:4 in Romans 3:4 and the Greek Septuagint version of Psalm 51:4 contain the same Greek word nikaō, which means “to prevail, to overcome, to conquer, to be victorious.”  Where the Septuagint version of Psalm 51:4 uses the Greek word nikaō, the Hebrew Masoretic version of Psalm 51:4 uses the Hebrew word zakah, which means “to be pure, to be clean, to be clear.”  A comparison of these two versions of Psalm 51:4 at least suggests the possibility that the idea of “prevailing, overcoming, conquering, being victorious” (Greek nikaō) which is spoken of in Romans 3:4 was understood by the Jewish translators of the Septuagint to be, in its essence, equivalent to the idea of “being made pure, being made clean, being made clear” (Hebrew zakah).  Such an hypothesis tends to be confirmed when we consider the use of that same Greek word nikaō in passages such as Revelation 21:6-7, which speaks of “the water of life” as being awarded to those who have “prevailed” or “overcome”—especially when that passage is read in conjunction with Revelation 22:1, which emphasizes the “clarity” of this same “water of life.”

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”—that is to say, purified by having passed through the experience of the Crucifixion and the inevitably succeeding Resurrection—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.”  (Consider Romans 6:3-5.  Is it merely coincidental that Jesus’s death and rebirth would be compared by Paul to being symbolically cleansed by the baptismal waters?)  This would indicate that the figure of “Jesus”—which I believe should be regarded, at least in part, as an archetype representing all of the schizophrenic “prophets” at once—was understood to “prevail” (think: “be made pure, be made clean, be made clear”) 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”: Greek teleō or teleioō) of “prophecy.”

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“Imprisonment” or “bondage” in the Bible understood as a metaphor signifying the inability to clearly communicate one’s meaning

(The following is modified version of a section found in Chapter 4 of Part I of my “Against the Lie” essay.  In order to appreciate its full significance, I recommend that all of the material—including the notes and the Bible passages that I link to—be read carefully.)

In his epistles, the apostle Paul repeatedly makes reference to “bonds,” or “chains,” or “fetters,” or “imprisonment.”  I believe he likely intended words such as these to be understood by the reader as metaphors, used for the purpose of reminding the reader that what he was writing should not be taken completely at face value.  Furthermore, there are striking similarities between the way of thinking that I believe is being expressed by Paul through the use of these metaphors in his writings (and that I believe is also expressed by other authors of the Bible when they use these same kinds of metaphors), and certain ways of thinking that have sometimes been observed in schizophrenic persons.

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A new interpretive approach: Viewing the Bible as an esoteric critique of esoteric religion

“For Plato ideas are archetypes of the things themselves, and not, in the manner of the categories, merely keys to possible experiences.  In his view they have issued from highest reason, and from that source have come to be shared in by human reason, which, however, is now no longer in its original state, but is constrained laboriously to recall, by a process of reminiscence (which is named philosophy), the old ideas, now very much obscured.  I shall not engage here in any literary enquiry into the meaning which this illustrious philosopher attached to the expression.  I need only remark that it is by no means unusual, upon comparing the thoughts which an author has expressed in regard to his subject, whether in ordinary conversation or in writing, to find that we understand him better than he has understood himself.  As he has not sufficiently determined his concept, he has sometimes spoken, or even thought, in opposition to his own intention.”

—Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (1787), B370 (Norman Kemp Smith, trans.; the emphasis is mine)

I’m going to suggest a very big paradox—one that may at first be difficult to get one’s mind around.  I believe there is actually reason to think that the authors of the Bible may have been using an “esoteric” (i.e., “cryptic”) mode of discourse in their writings with the partially unconscious intention of criticizing the esoteric form of religion (a category in which I would include orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Gnosticism, among many other world religions).

By “esoteric religion,” I basically have in mind any religion whose core, authoritative writings are capable of having and were intended by its authors to have “double meanings”; so that any religion whose authoritative writings are overtly and indisputably allegorical, or parabolic, or obscurely metaphorical, symbolic, or figurative, would qualify as an “esoteric” religion.  And any “mythical” religion would necessarily also be an “esoteric” religion, since “myth” obviously involves obscurely metaphorical, symbolic, or figurative communication.

My personal belief is that the so-called “mythicist” position regarding the life narrative of Jesus, which views that life narrative as myth or allegory, is the correct one; and that means, based on what I just wrote, that I believe Christianity qualifies as an “esoteric religion.”  Even if it were assumed for the sake of argument that the character of “Jesus” was originally based on a single historical individual, so long as it can be shown that there was substantial embellishment, “legend-making,” “myth-making,” and allegorizing occurring in the telling of his life-story, then at some point that just blends into the mythicist position anyway.  So the essential question to be asked is whether or not significant allegorical or mythical elements can be discerned in the Gospel narratives of Jesus’s life story; if they can, the figure of “Jesus” becomes a “mythical” figure—and thus an “esoteric” figure, located at the center of an “esoteric” religion.  Mythicist authors have already made an argument for the position that these allegorical or mythical elements do in fact exist in the supposedly “historical” accounts found in the Gospels and elsewhere in the Bible; so that, in terms of what I am personally trying to do, I do not feel the need to revisit that particular argument except to refer people to the writings of those authors if they still have doubts about the allegorical or mythical nature of the Gospels.

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The connection between the idea of “measuring” or “weighing” and the idea of “meaning”—and what that may imply for the interpretation of Biblical symbolism

I suggested in a previous post that there might be an etymological relation between the English word “meaning” and the English word “moon.”  The reason why there would be a relation between these words might not seem immediately clear; but I think a nexus between the two can be found in the idea of “measuring,” since for ancient peoples the cycles of the moon were the primary means of measuring time.[1]  And the connection between the ideas of “measuring” and “meaning” will, I hope, be made more clear in what follows.

It is thought by scholars that in the ancient Sumerian language, the word ma-na means “a unit of weight measure,” apparently being related to the later Akkadian word manum, meaning “to count.”  And both of these words appear to be related to the Aramaic noun mene, which means “a weighing, a measurement, an accounting, a numbering, a reckoning,” as well as to the Aramaic verb menah, which means “to weigh, to measure, to number, to reckon, to count, to enumerate, to appoint, to assign” (both of which Aramaic words are found used in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament).

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