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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Parallels between the “Odyssey paradox” and the “Bible paradox”

In his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Houghton Mifflin, 1976), Princeton psychologist Julian Jaynes makes an argument that in the second millennium B.C., mankind began a gradual transition from a “bicameral” or unconscious mode of thought to a subjectively conscious mode of thought, with this process accelerating in the first millennium B.C.  Prior to this “breakdown of the bicameral mind,” according to Jaynes’ argument, all human beings were more or less severely schizophrenic, unreflectingly obeying the directives issued by the “voices” that they “heard” in their own minds, which were perceived by ancient peoples to be the voices of the “gods,” but which Jaynes believes originated in the right hemisphere of the brain.  What Jaynes calls subjective “consciousness” emerged over a number of centuries as those “voices” increasingly went silent (for most people anyway), as the left hemisphere of the brain became increasingly independent of the right hemisphere, and was no longer so dominated by it.

I don’t agree with Jaynes’ overall thesis in its entirety, or with all of the more specific arguments that he makes in the course of developing that thesis.  However, I do think the themes and ideas with which he deals in the book are extremely important ones, especially including the basic proposition that people in ancient times were generally more “schizophrenic” than people in modern times—which would help to explain why, as I claim in my own writings, the sacred religious scriptures that have come down to us from ancient times appear to be essentially schizophrenic in nature.  The relationship between schizophrenia or psychosis and ancient or traditional religion—which can also be described as “esoteric religion”—is an exceedingly important one, and deserves a great deal more attention than it currently receives.  Because of the continuing importance of these ancient scriptures in modern culture due to the survival of “traditional religion” or “esoteric religion,” the predominantly “schizophrenic-like” thinking of ancient peoples is still exerting its impact on humanity even in our own time.

As I was re-reading parts of the book, one passage in particular jumped out at me, since I found it so eerily reminiscent of my own admittedly perplexing theory that there is an anti-esotericist and therefore self-neutralizing message unconsciously embedded in the esoteric writings of the Bible—a state of affairs that I sometimes refer to as the “Bible paradox.”  Jaynes writes,

Continue reading “Parallels between the “Odyssey paradox” and the “Bible paradox””

Is all of human civilization built upon a foundation of psychosis?

(The following is taken from one of the footnotes in the “full version” of my essay “Against the Lie.”)

If there is one thing I hope to convey to the reader, it is the extreme importance to society of the subject matter of schizophrenia itself, especially as it pertains to religion, so that readers who share an anti-esotericist perspective can research it more than I have been able to do.  I would also like to emphasize that the problems and traits associated with schizophrenia cannot be conceptually limited to those persons who have been officially diagnosed as “schizophrenic.”  The striking similarity between religious esotericist modes of communication and schizophrenic modes of communication simply cannot be written off as trivial.  And esotericist modes of communication underlie all of the world’s traditional religions—which in turn underlie all of human civilization.  That means that if esotericist religion is a problem that all human beings have in common, then so too is schizophrenia.  Nobody can live in human society without having been psychologically harmed by such a state of affairs.  As such, I do not think it would go too far to say that all of human civilization as we know it is at least somewhat “schizophrenogenic,” i.e., schizophrenia-producing.

Related to this, consider what the authors of the medical journal article “The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered” write in their conclusion:

We suggest that some of civilization’s most significant religious figures may have had psychotic symptoms that contributed inspiration for their revelations.  It is hoped that this analysis will engender scholarly dialogue about the rational limits of human experience and serve to educate the general public, persons living with mental illness, and healthcare providers about the possibility that persons with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic-spectrum disorders have had a monumental influence on civilization.

(Evan D. Murray, Miles G. Cunningham, and Bruce H. Price, The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 24:4, Fall 2012, p. 424.)

However, I wish to note that my own view is that it is the authors of the ancient esoteric writings who should be considered to have been at least somewhat psychotic, and to have been the persons who received the “revelations,” rather than the characters that they wrote about (such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus).

I also wish to note that my opposition to esoteric religion is not based on my necessarily having made any determination that the esotericist authors of the sacred scriptures of the world’s traditional religions somehow crossed “the rational limits of human experience”; nor any determination that we ought to extend what we conceive those limits to be.  My opposition is instead based on the fact that those authors failed to communicate their experiences and revelations—whatever they were—in a way that was unambiguous and that would not be likely to mislead or unnecessarily confuse the general readership of their writings; and my opposition to esoteric religion is also based on my belief that by effectively requiring people to immerse themselves in writings of that kind—as the world’s traditional religions all do—those religions tend to promote the development of psychosis in society.

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”)”

The “spirit of Jesus” viewed as a substitute for the “unclean spirit”

Let’s compare Mark 1:26 with Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46.

The first of these passages, describing the exorcism of a demon from a man that was performed by Jesus, says,

And the unclean spirit [to pneuma to akatharton] convulsed (the man) [or “shook him,” or “tore him in pieces,” or “pulled him apart”: sparassō], and, crying out [or calling out: phōneō] with a loud voice [or “great voice,” or “loud speech,” or “loud language”: phōné megalé], came out [ex-erchomai] of him.

The next passage, Mark 15:37, describing Jesus’s death, says,

And Jesus let out [or yielded up: aphiémi] a loud cry [or “loud speech,” or “loud language”: phōné megalé] and expired [or, “breathed out his spirit,” or “expelled his spirit“: ek-pneō].

The same event of Jesus’s death is described in Luke 23:46:

And Jesus, crying out [or calling out, or summoning, or speaking (loudly), or speaking (clearly), or giving utterance: phōneō] with a loud voice [phōné megalé], said, “Father, into your hands I commit [or deposit, or entrust: para-tithémi] my spirit [pneuma]!”  And, having said this, he expired [or, “breathed out his spirit,” or “expelled his spirit“: ek-pneō].

A comparison of the passages suggests that the “spirit” (pneuma) of Jesus may have been understood to correspond to the “unclean spirit” (pneuma akathartos) that had been in the demon-possessed man; and also that the first passage, Mark 1:26, may have been meant to prefigure the Crucifixion passages—so that, perhaps, the “spirit” of Jesus was understood to have temporarily “taken on the role” of the “unclean spirit,” so to speak, or to have been temporarily “working undercover” under the guise of the “unclean spirit”—with the “unclean spirit” understood, at least in one sense, as a spirit of “mixed meanings,” as opposed to one of “pure meanings” or “single meanings.”  (The “hiddenness” or “concealment” of the “spirit of Jesus” or “Holy Spirit” is indicated, for example, by the use in Matthew 13:33 of the Greek word eg-kryptō, meaning “to hide, to conceal,” in reference to “leaven,” which I think was probably meant to signify the “Holy Spirit.”)

In other words, according to such an hypothesis, the “spirit” of Jesus would have been made to serve as a substitute for the “unclean spirit” so that it could eventually displace it with the occurrence of the symbolic “Crucifixion and Resurrection”; and if that is correct, then “the spirit of Jesus” would have been understood to function as something analogous to a “brood parasite” such as the cuckoo bird.  (However, I stress that much of this thinking, if it in fact existed at all, may have been taking place at an unconscious level of thought.)

The same connection between the idea of an “exorcism” of an “unclean spirit” and the “Crucifixion and Resurrection” can be found by comparing Mark 9:25-29 with the passage immediately following, Mark 9:30-32.  Notice that the events spoken of in the first passage seem to be prefiguring the events spoken of in the second, focusing especially on the use of the same Greek word an-istémi, meaning “to rise up, to raise up, to stand up, to resurrect,” in both Mark 9:27 and Mark 9:31.  (Also notice that Mark 9:32 indicates that even Jesus’s “disciples” did not understand what the symbolic “Crucifixion and Resurrection” signified—so we should not assume its true intended significance to be obvious.)

The “Crucifixion” might thus have been understood to have achieved a kind of large-scale “exorcism”—that is, the driving out of the “unclean spirit” or “impure spirit”—and, with that, the bringing into being of the “purity of speech” or “purity of language” associated with the “spirit of Jesus” or “Holy Spirit.”  In other words, the “Crucifixion” would have been symbolizing (consciously or unconsciously) the driving out of that “unclean spirit” which was the motive force behind religious esotericism as a whole and in general, as well as behind schizophrenia and psychosis—i.e., “lunacy” or “demon-possession”—as a whole and in general.