Saturday, October 12, 2013

How Caesar Domesticated Jesus

To anyone who really studies the early history of Christianity, and takes care to sort out the facts from the versions that are generally promoted by the Christian churches, it should be clear that there was a process of domestication that went on. This notion began to be formulated (again) around the time of the enlightenment, and in fact Thomas Jefferson was a proponent. He recognized that there was some heavy editing in what became the New Testament, courtesy of the influence of St. Paul, whom he regarded as an impostor and a fraud.

There have been countless alternative theories of who Jesus was and some are more outrageous than others, but several reflect the idea that somehow or other there was an active effort by the Roman Empire to coopt him. One fun book was Thijs Voskuilen's Operation Messiah which makes Paul out to be a Roman Spy. Now we have a new angle, Jesus was made up by the Romans altogether. This is the thesis of the book Caesar's Messiah, by Joseph Atwill. This seems to go even a step further. All of these speculations are possible only because so little of the New Testament is "historical" in the modern sense, and there is a dearth of verifiable information. A good place to find out more might be this review on The Raw Story.

What makes all these attempts so interesting is that they pick up on something that is immediately obvious if we study the extant material, particularly since we have the Thomas Gospel. Christianity was invented after Jesus, and for those of us who know A Course in Miracles, and in particular also the connection with the Thomas gospel as it is explored in Gary's books - it is incredibly evident that the church version of Jesus was the creation of late comers on the scene, and that his teachings were completely altered in the process. The signature comment in that process was perhaps the one by Paul, when he comes to the conclusion that the resurrection was an event of the body, not of the spirit, when all Jesus taught was that we were to first seek the Kingdom (i.e. Spirit), and all the rest would be given to us - so the primacy of the body is nowhere in evidence in Jesus' teachings, but since it is threatening to the ego, it speaks for itself that there would be an attempt to domesticate him by declaring that his resurrection was a bodily event, so that an idol could be made out of his body, and the crucifixion.

In Gary Renard's third book, Love Has Forgotten No One, we find yet more discussion of all the forms in which the same things go on with A Course in Miracles today. Or, as Gary recently pointed out humorously in a podcast, it might be refreshing if self-proclaimed Course teachers and events stuck to teaching A Course in Miracles. But, humor aside, it should not surprise us that the truth is so threatening to the ego, for the idea of separation is simply null and void if there is no separation, which is what the atonement teaches. If truth is one, there are no separate truths, and no individuality. This is incredibly threatening to the ego. Like everything else, when we become aware of that perceived threat, we can do two things with it. We can either project it outside and act on it, including changing the teaching that poses this threat, or, we can go inside and ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to look at our upset (I'm never upset for the reason I think!), and change our mind about it.

It does not matter what version of historical events makes more sense to you, but the content is very clear. Jesus taught one thing, and Christianity taught something else, and in fact incorporated the whole ego teaching of sin, guilt and fear into the words of Jesus, changing them beyond recognition. On the rebound this leads to the phenomenon of the church not knowing what to make of the Thomas Gospel, for the Jesus of the Thomas gospel sounds more like a Buddhist (as Gary likes to express it) than like a Christian. The reason again is obvious: he never was a Christian, he was bombarded into one posthumously. This very point also makes it clear why we need a relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit to complete our journey, for the ego never ever would permit us to do the steps that would set us free, and keeps threatening us with death and destruction, when all we would find on the other side of that little gap would be peace and happiness. Only through the development of trust can we finally take the last steps, after which the last step is taken by God.