A recent review of Prometheism has become an opportunity for me to address the question of Christianity head on, in a decisive and definitive manner. Richard (Rik) Storey’s review, “Prometheism – A Libertarian Religion”, published in The Warden Post on January 30th of 2021, is so superficial that it really does not deserve a response. The following reply to the review’s central question, “Why Not Christ?” (rather than Prometheus), will certainly give Storey’s admittedly “reactionary” misreading of my book much more traction than it has received and than it merits.
I am willing to let that happen because, around the same time that Storey published his review, I began to notice that a number of otherwise intelligent people in my intellectual circles seemed to be losing their minds and giving their hearts to Jesus Christ – or at least cynically entertaining the possibility of using Christianity as an ideological umbrella. I prefer not to call out anyone by name, but this tendency needs to be confronted before those who exemplify it wind up misguiding “the movement.” We call it the “the movement” these days because after the implosion of the Alt-Right, the New Right, which increasingly includes anti-“woke” disaffected leftwing thinkers, is in the midst of a serious identity crisis. It is in this desperate search for an overarching identity to unify disparate factions and deeply divergent schools of thought that some are turning to a reaffirmation of Christianity – in certain cases out of sincere (albeit pathetic) spiritual desperation and in other cases with a view to political expediency.
In the wake of what many of us believe was a massive election fraud perpetrated by a Deep State that has now seized total control of the US government with the help of an entirely coopted and controlled media (including Fox News), in light of the total destruction of freedom of speech and expression, and a declaration of a “domestic war on terror” against dissenters who have been painted with the broad brush of “white supremacy”, defining an ideological basis for longterm resistance – and eventual revolution – has become a priority. Those who are deluded enough to believe that #Trump2024 or for that matter #Tucker/Tulsi2024 or #Rand/Tucker2024 or any such near-term correction is a solution are of no concern to me here. Rather, I am concerned with the thinkers who understand that we are, in all likelihood, going to see two and a half terms of President Kalama Harris (i.e. until the year 2033) as the face of an orchestrated deconstruction of the United States of America, which frankly, has already been so corrupted at every level of its constitutional structure – including the Supreme Court – that the country has lost its legitimacy as a sovereign nation, let alone as a superpower. What has me worried are those people in “the movement” who think that the right response to this grim reality is to move further in the direction of Populism, at least as a machination for the seizure of power. In America, when your aim is resisting leftist cultural relativism and a cancel culture that has become genocidal in its will to “abolish whiteness,” becoming more populist means becoming more Christian – with a focus on the southern Bible Belt.
I have always had my problems with Traditionalists on the Right, to the extent that I’ve been quite clear in identifying my thought as explicitly Counter-Traditional (in Guenon’s sense), but I hardly imagined the day when I would see Traditionalists (even the most Catholic among them) sink to the level of becoming such rabble-rousers that they reach out to American Evangelical Christians or somehow see these despicable scum as constituting their “base.” To be clear, I am not accusing Richard Storey, who identifies himself as a “Catholic reactionary”, of doing this. Again, Storey’s “review” of Prometheism is only an opportunity to clarify matters regarding Christianity as such and in general. Let me say a few things about the “review” first, though, by way of an introduction.
The pith of Storey’s “critique” of Prometheism has to do with the classic philosophical categories of Truth, Beauty, and Justice – or, to put it in more contemporary terms, the relationship between ontological, epistemological, aesthetic, ethical, and political positions and claims. Storey asserts that my empiricist ontology and epistemology, which he insultingly compares to that of Jordan Peterson (does Peterson really even have an ontology?), fails to ground my aesthetic judgments, which consequently become arbitrary, and most importantly, this alleged misunderstanding of “Truth” leads to an ethics and politics that is libertarian in the most rootles, subjective, and decisionist way. Storey even sees my adoption of the Prometheus figure as nothing more than a placeholder for a Hobbesian Leviathan in a political theology comparable to “the divine command theory of Islam.” Despite his claim to have “put a lot of thought” into this “review”, Storey has not done his homework.
To begin with, Storey fails to understand the place of Prometheism in my philosophical oeuvre. The book is little more than a fleshed out manifesto, akin to The Futurist Manifesto of F.T. Marinetti or the Manifesto of Surrealism penned by Andre Breton – with the one very significant difference that this manifesto is written by an actual philosopher. By contrast with 99% of so-called “philosophers” in academia today – who are mere “professors” of philosophy – I actually agree with Storey in his classical commitment to the criterion that a “philosopher” worthy of the name should think in all three formal dimensions of Truth, Beauty, and Justice and that the concepts of ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, and politics consequent to this contemplation ought to be internally consistent and even possessed of something resembling an organic unity. Throughout seven books to date, published over the course of the past five years, I have developed a handful of original philosophical concepts, which have just this kind of unity as part of what Gilles Deleuze described as a single “plane of consistency” or “plane of imminence.” These concepts are: (1) Being Bound for Freedom; (2) The Spectral Revolution; (3) World State of Emergency; (4) Novel Folklore; (5) Destructive Departure from Worldview Warfare. That some of my books have titles named after these concepts, and others have chapters titled based on them, does not mean that those are the only places where I develop one or another of these ideas. Almost all of these concepts are developed to some degree in every one of my books to date.
It is even more ridiculous to expect that the aesthetic, ethical, and political propositions of Prometheism would be thoroughly grounded by an ontological and epistemological framework intrinsic to that book than it is to expect Karl Marx to defend the deepest grounding for his analysis of Capital in The Communist Manifesto. Taking up Marx’s manifesto as a banner of revolt, without having read any of his more serious writings, is perfectly fine. It is, in fact, what he and Engels were aiming for with that booklet. But to critique Communism as an economic and political theory on the basis of The Communist Manifesto, without having read Capital, is preposterously presumptuous and embarrassingly irresponsible. Prometheism is not the founding text of Prometheism. That would be Prometheus and Atlas (Arktos 2016).
Had Storey even attempted to seriously grapple with that groundbreaking philosophical text he would not have so easily misinterpreted so much of what I wrote in Prometheism. To be clear, Prometheism does not lend itself to such misinterpretations. They are a product of projections from Storey’s own dogmatically entrenched belief system and some very confused second-hand scholarship that he leans on to shore up his makeshift worldview (more on this, momentarily). But struggling to understand Prometheus and Atlas would have disrupted these projections and dogmatic distortions, forcing him to actually “put a lot of thought” into fathoming my arguments and aims.
For example, far from being a mere aesthetic figurehead adopted by fiat to authorize a “libertarian religion” as artificially contrived as Robespierre’s Cult of the Supreme Being, in my thought Prometheus is revealed from out of a profound contemplation of the essence of technological science and its revolutionary world-historical power. This is not an exclusively Heideggerian analysis. In Prometheus and Atlas it is developed in a context that draws as much from Immanuel Kant, F.W.J. Schelling, Henri Bergson, William James, and even Ludwig Wittgenstein as it does from Martin Heidegger. Furthermore, in the essay “Philosophy, Science, and Art” that appears in Lovers of Sophia, which essay preceded Prometheus and Atlas and was its matrix, it becomes clear that Gilles Deleuze’s concept of “aesthetic ideas” and their relationship to scientific theories and philosophical concepts was indispensable to my recognition of “Prometheus” as the spectral essence of Technoscience. This development even owes something to Marx’s conception of the spectral, and to the place that Prometheus had in his life, as is evident from my essay “Prisoners of Property and Propriety” (published in Lovers of Sophia), which also predates Prometheus and Atlas.
Had Storey taken the time to see what “Prometheus” means in these earlier writings, he would have understood (even if not accepted) that in my thought Prometheus is a living, active force at work in the world through the transformative power of technological science that we mistakenly believe to be value-neutral and objective. He would have realized that, from the start, the question “Why Prometheus, Why Not Christ?” is nonsensical in this context. Prometheus is not a savior figure set forth to deliver us from the demonic danger of the Technological Singularity. Prometheus is the daemonic specter of the Singularity. The question, which I am raising, is what relationship we want to have to Prometheus and whether, as Heidegger suggested, the passively destining power of technology can be consciously owned and thereby transformed and redirected in its essence – which is a poetic essence, one which precedes the distinction between poesis as technical craft and as creative art.
The ontology and epistemology in the background here is very subtle, complex, and novel. While it would be well beyond the scope of this response to even summarize it, this much can be said rather succinctly: I draw on the ontology of F.W.J. Schelling, Henri Bergson, and William James, as well as empirical research by Rupert Sheldrake and Cleve Backster to develop a notion of formal structures and of formative causation that is not purely transcendental in a Platonic or Kantian sense but that involves a quasi-Aristotelian recognition of non-efficient types of causality and purposiveness at work in nature. In Prometheism, this idea of what “ideas” are is further developed in a critical dialogue with Carl Jung and his confused conception of “archetypes.” All of this is lost on Storey, so naturally he cannot begin to understand what I even mean by “Prometheus” and he reduces this titanic specter to a Hobbesian Leviathan.
You would think that if Storey were going to bring up the Leviathan of Hobbes in a review of Prometheism he would have been responsible enough to go take a look at what I have to say about the political theory of Thomas Hobbes in a tome (several times the size of Prometheism, and even longer than Prometheus and Atlas) which I titled Iranian Leviathan (Arktos 2019). There, I subject Hobbes to a scathing critique that is much more penetrating than what Storey himself has to say about Hobbes in his essay, “Modern Statism as Western Gnosticism” – a piece that sets forth the intellectual framework on the basis of which Storey thinks he is “critiquing” Prometheism, a framework that is not his own but that Storey has inherited at third hand from secondary sources whose confusions and perversely convoluted interpretations of Gnosticism, Hobbes, theology, and political theory he has made his own.
In Iranian Leviathan, I expose the soulless materialism that lurks behind Hobbes’ cynical appropriation of Christianity, and how his disingenuous defense of absolute monarchy actually prepares the way for rootless modern positivist conceptions of law and the state. But Leo Strauss could have told you that much. What is most relevant about my critique of Leviathan when it comes to Storey’s idiotic misreading of me is that I draw on Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben, Max Weber, and the ancient Iranian political theory of Mithraic Imperium in order to contrast Hobbes’ soulless simulacrum of monarchism with a conception of the Divine Right of Kings based on the mystical unity of sacred and royal glory (Persian farré izadi and farré kiâni) as expressed in the shamanic charisma of a true king who, when he is the founder or revolutionary re-former of a state, is also a sacrificial figure. By the end of Iranian Leviathan, I argue that the last true king (Persian Shahriâré Râstin) that we have had in this sense was Adolf Hitler. (That is not a value judgment, but an analysis of political form.) No one who contemplates these parts of Iranian Leviathan (which is as much a book of political theory as it is a “monumental history” in the Nietzschean style) could come away with the misperception of my political philosophy as “libertarian.”
If there are parts of Prometheism that appear as if they are “libertarian”, then perhaps the reader who is interested in advancing a serious critique of the book ought to read a little more carefully and take care to set this book into the broader and deeper context of my more substantive writings. I am an esoteric writer in the way that Plato was, and so when a passage like the following one immediately precedes the presentation of a political platform that superficially resembles certain features of Libertarianism, a serious reader (and certainly one looking to level a serious critique) ought to pause and think twice:
So what would a Prometheist society look like? What would the policies of a Prometheist regime consist of? It is possible to venture some provisional suggestions, at least with a view to the transitional phase on the way towards a radical transformation of consciousness and an engineered psycho-biological evolutionary leap into a positively Posthuman condition. The following rough sketch of Prometheist policies, which admittedly borders on sloganeering, is not meant to be a definitive platform… (p. 216)
Please note the lines that I have italicized here for emphasis (which is not in the original). If the Spectral Revolution leads to the end of private property, how am I libertarian? Undoubtedly, mean spirited morons will now take this question out of context and claim that “Jorjani is for abolishing private property.” No, I am not. But my in-depth discussion of the Spectral Revolution in Prometheus and Atlas, as well as in the essay “Prisoners of Property and Propriety” in Lovers of Sophia, made it clear why the culmination of convergent advancements in technological science, including Parapsychology breakthroughs considered as techne, will necessarily mean the end of any kind of society with private property. In fact, it would mean a society without any type of enforceable privacy whatsoever – even the privacy of one’s own thoughts or emotions. How, in the face of this prospect, we might be able to defend individuality and the creativity that it makes possible, is one of the most fundamental questions around which my ideas revolve.
Not only is a “libertarian” interpretation of Prometheism indefensible in light of the conception of Divine Right monarchy developed in Iranian Leviathan and the development of the concept of the Spectral Revolution in Prometheus and Atlas, it is also the case that in World State of Emergency I engage in an explicit critique of Libertarianism and of modern liberal democratic political theory in general. In Chapter 2 of that book, titled “Planetary Emergency”, I dynamite the foundation of liberalism – including its libertarian variant – on the basis of a conception of sovereign authority that I adopt from Carl Schmitt before adapting it into one element of my own concept of a “world state of emergency.” No one can come away from reading World State of Emergency, the one of my books most focused on political philosophy, with the misconception that I am a libertarian. My political thought is more Schmittean than Schmitt in its understanding of the nature of sovereign authority.
In this connection it is worth noting that Storey’s claim in Modern Statism as Western Gnosticism that Schmitt thought a reaffirmation of Catholicism was the proper grounding for a future political order is a terrible disservice to Schmitt. If he ever made such a claim, it belongs in the category of stupid self-undermining remarks made by serious thinkers to the detriment of our appreciation of their deepest insights. Carl Schmitt is best understood as someone who rigorously demonstrated what a Nietzschean or Heideggerian political theory would look like, on the basis of a Heraclitean worldview that he shared with those fellow Germans. The ontological significance of strife in Heraclitus is the common denominator of those elements of the political thought of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Schmitt, which I adopt and adapt, and this Heraclitean ontology is far from proto-Christian. It is positively diabolical.
That brings me to the question of the Satanic as compared to the Gnostic, and to the confusedly convoluted interpretive framework that Storey uses to misunderstand Prometheism in a way that will reaffirm his dogmatic and admittedly “reactionary Catholic” faith. This framework is laid out in his essay Modern Statism as Western Gnosticism, Part 1 and Part 2, published in the Arktos Journal. Like a good Catholic scholastic who shields himself from the stark truth by getting lost in layers of “interpretive” apologetics, Storey is entirely dependent on secondary sources here for his claims about what Gnosticism is and how it relates to modern theories of state power as compared to the traditional political position of the Catholic Church. I could go on at great length about how badly mistaken those theorists are who Storey allows to lead him astray. These include Henrik Bogdan and Jacques Barzun, but the main culprit here is Eric Voegelin whose widely influential interpretation of Gnosticism is a total disaster.
Following Voegelin and these other scholars, Storey claims that modern theories of the state, which are at least implicitly totalitarian (whether in the form of Liberalism or Communism) and have a positivist conception of law, are not only based on the denial of an objective nature and natural law, but that this denial is Gnostic. On the one hand, Storey and the scholars that he is leaning on claim that Gnostics have a materialistic and deterministic view of the world, one which denies human free will just as it rejects any natural order. On the other hand, they claim that those who consider themselves a Gnostic “elect” have a pathologically willful ambition to remake the entire world – including any putative “human nature” – replacing what was presumed to be a “natural” order with an artificial structure that is total or totalitarian in scope, in the context of which freedom and fulfillment can finally be attained. Supposedly, every elitist secret society with political ambitions from antiquity up through the Renaissance and Enlightenment – even including Nietzsche – has been motivated by this kind of Gnosticism, including the French Revolution.
This is patently absurd. Only an unthinkingly dogmatic Catholic would brand as “Gnostic” every esoteric current in the West other than the Church’s misappropriation of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus. It is even more preposterous than the medieval Catholic persecution of every heterodox heretic as a “Manichee.” While Gnosticism is admittedly the most diverse and eclectic religious movement in history – and it has a long history, if we begin in classical Alexandria and end in medieval Occitan – there are certain essential characteristics shared by almost every Gnostic sect. These are all fundamentally at odds with Storey’s analysis, which again is not his own but that of Voegelin and company.
To begin with, Gnosticism is neither materialist nor determinist. The Gnostic rejection of the material world is a rejection on the basis of an affirmation of a spiritual world, the pleroma. Owing a huge debt to Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism also fundamentally affirms free will. It is non-Gnostic Christianity, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, that has a problem of free will on account of its claim that God is omnipotent and omniscient. The transcendent “Wise One” of Gnosticism, modeled on Ahura Mazda, is not such an entity. S/he does not encompass the fallen, material world. Granted, in some Gnostic systems, the archons are associated with deterministic astrological influences, but the entire point of these systems is that the person who strives for gnosis is on a quest to overcome these archontic forces and be liberated from them. Such forces only operate through lower, animalistic passions and reactive emotions. Finally, and most importantly, all Gnosticism worthy of the name categorically rejects political power as an expression of archontic influence.
The kind of “elitist” political project of forging a utopia governed by an Illuminati that we see in Plato’s Republic is a project that has been totally abandoned by Gnosticism, despite how much else Gnostics may owe to Plato’s metaphysical account of the demiurge and the relationship between the material world and non-material realities. From the Gnostic standpoint, “the god of this world” will always be evil and, as I will demonstrate below, the Bible is clear that this is the “Lord God” of Abraham and Moses. Any political project like the French Revolution can have nothing whatsoever to do with Gnosticism, in principle. Never mind the fact that a penetrating analysis of the French Revolution, of the kind that I carry out in “Reason and Terror”, Chapter 3 of Prometheus and Atlas, reveals that the horrific mayhem of the Cult of Reason and Reign of Terror was an outgrowth of Christian pathology and duplicitous Jesuit machinations that intended to nip Liberty in the bud by setting up the psychotic Cartesian paradigm.
While we are on the subject of the French Revolution, let it be noted that Storey says this about what the revolutionary regime did to Catholics: “Having fled the unspeakable atrocities committed against Christians and clergy during the French Revolution, Barruel wrote against it from the safety of England.” But he glosses over the medieval inquisitorial Catholic holocaust of entire towns of pacifistic Cathars in southern France with the following one-liner: “There are some instances where no direct connection can be confirmed, such as the prevalence of Cabalists in Provence at the same time that the Gnostic Cathars problematically arose to trouble the unity of the Church in Southern France.” His wanting to brand the French revolutionaries as Gnostics is pure projection based on a subconscious shame over what Catholics did to actual Gnostics in France.
Storey can forgive me for psychologizing here, since my psychoanalysis of his apologetics is certainly less niggardly and condescending than what he has to say about my Iranian heritage and its relationship with Prometheism:
For full disclosure, I am a reactionary Catholic and I am also very fond of Jason Reza Jorjani, whose work I have quoted and with whom I have had friendly correspondence. He does not share my view of Christ, to the extent that he is not fond of Goethe’s Faust and the Spenglerian coining of the psychopathic European spirit as “Faustian” – note, Faust repents and goes to heaven, thus baptising the restlessly persistent soul of our Indo-European heritage. Given the history of Jorjani’s people, as an Iranian man with more than a little bitterness left in his mouth about anything remotely Semitic about my religion, his attitude is entirely understandable. I, nevertheless, have as much time and patience for Jorjani as the story of Faust could encourage…
If Storey had read Iranian Leviathan or even watched the numerous video interviews where I discuss the main ideas in this book, he would have realized how simplemindedly mistaken he is in thinking that, as an Iranian, I have such a pathological hatred of Islam that my view of Christianity is tainted by it. Maybe if I had been incarnated in the Islamic Republic of Iran I could not have escaped developing such a pathology. But I was born and raised in New York City – a different kind of Babylon – where I have spent almost all of the past 40 years, as an Iranian-American with a mother, who is also a native New Yorker, of Northern European ancestry. I am hardly the kind of “Iranian man” that Storey imagines, and Rik should know that by now (as he notes, we have long been acquainted on social media). Far from being pathologically opposed to Islam, in Iranian Leviathan I take a very nuanced and sophisticated view of the geopolitical utility of Shi’ism as a quasi-Imperial state ideology for modern Iran. More importantly, my scandalous interpretation of the occulted origin of Islam and its hidden aim involves claims that could never be made by the kind of person who would reactively dismiss Christianity simply because Jesus and the Gospels were incorporated into the theology “revealed” to Muhammad.
Since I have quoted the passage above in full, let me also make a few remarks on what Storey – so condescendingly – says about me with reference to Faust. He is right that I find Goethe’s version of the Faust tale to be pathetically disappointing, especially considering that this is the same Goethe who wrote a beautiful poem about Prometheus. Faust, especially Part II, is a story that ultimately appeals to someone who wants to have his cake and eat it too. I am reminded of the saying of Rasputin to the effect that: “To be saved, one must first become a sinner.” I am writing this lengthy piece to put to rest any hopes on the part of Storey and other more intelligent and insightful individuals on the Right that I will ever be welcomed up into their Christian heaven as a “baptised” Faust. I belong in hell. As Nietzsche said, that is where all the interesting people are.
Storey should not have accused me of Gnosticism, he ought to have branded me a Satanist. He is wrong when he concludes his “review” of Prometheism with the claim “Jorjani, like Jordan Peterson, must decide which side of the fence he will come down on – traditional Christianity or Western gnosticism; there is no third way.” The definition of Gnosticism that he has adopted from Voegelin is overly broad to the point of attributing to Gnostics the very characteristics and aims that Gnostics see in the demiurge and his archons, and on account of which Gnosticism has refused to seize political power. The Gnostics actually accept the way this world works. They just want out of this world and into another, higher world that is also conceived of as unchanging.
The “third way,” which is neither Catholic nor Gnostic is Satanic – from a Christian standpoint. I have chosen to call it “Prometheist” (Prometheus + Theist) for a number of reasons, explained in numerous interviews. To briefly restate a couple of them: The figure of Prometheus is older than that of Lucifer and not dependent upon Christianity. Also, there is a rampant misconception of the Satanic – especially among conservatives or those on the Right – which sees the prevailing power elite in the word as adherents of Satanism. That kind of delusion, which is endemic to QAnon today and which fanned the flames of the “Satanic Panic” in the 1980s, has no relationship with any of the serious literature about Satan or Lucifer – from the Bible through John Milton to Jack Parsons. Lucifer is in hell, like Prometheus chained to the rock in the earlier iteration of the Satan archetype. The unjust Lord who put him there is the ruler of this world.
That is the view that you will have to consider if you put the time and effort into seriously reading the five sections of this piece, all of which are ultimately aimed at answering the central question posed by Storey’s review of Prometheism, namely “Why Not Christ?” I am about to tell you why not. It is an answer once and for all, which will draw a red line between my philosophical project and anyone who thinks that Christian Populism is a path forward – whether in its Evangelical form in America, its Catholic form in Europe, or even Russian Orthodoxy.
The first section makes the case that the biblical Jesus was sent by the same Lord God who banishes Adam and Eve from Eden and who commands the biblical prophets from Abraham and Moses to Joshua and Job. The second section is an examination of the character or ethos of this God as exemplified by everything from the Tower of Babel to the Conquest of Canaan, the Exodus, and the trials and tribulations to which Job was subjected. The third section looks at passages in the Gospels where Jesus contradicts the message of the Old Testament that he endorses in so many other passages, with these contradictions being interpreted as a textbook example of cognitive dissonance. Gnosticism is presented as a rationalization developed to cope with this dissonance. The fourth section demonstrates that Westerners owe nothing whatsoever that is positive in their civilization to Jesus Christ, and that every development of Western Civilization usually misattributed to Christianity has some pagan Aryan origin, in most cases an origin in Mithraism, or in the cultures of Indo-European “barbarians” associated with Mithraism. The final section focuses on the catastrophic harm that Christianity did to the higher intellectual culture and techno-scientific development of our civilization, resulting in the thousand-year long intellectual retardation of medieval Europe. All of this material has been adapted from my various books, and retailored for a direct critique of Christianity. Anyone who wants scholarly references for the various claims made here should refer to those texts, especially Iranian Leviathan with respect to the debt that Christianity and medieval European culture owe to Mithraic Iranians.
- JESUS, SON OF ABRAHAM
Jesus says that he has come to confirm that preached by the Jewish prophets before him and to fulfill the law of the Torah, which law he claims will be valid in its every injunction until the end of the world. (Matthew 4:4; 5:17-20) The following verses sum up his relation to Judaism:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)
He describes following the law as the ‘straight path’ and suggests that all others stray towards destruction. (Matthew 7:12-14) However, he demands that the spirit of the law be obeyed and not merely the letter of the law. (Matthew 15:7-8) One’s righteousness must be more profound than that of the religious lawyers. (Matthew 5:20) For one who observes the spirit of the law, certain infractions are forgiven such as eating what is unclean (Matthew 15:10–19) or doing good works on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:11–12).
Jesus tells people not to praise him, but to know that there is one God, and He alone is ‘good’ and worthy of worship. (Matthew 19:16-17) He also repeats the first of the Mosaic commandments to this effect. (Mark 12:28) Jesus uses a miraculous power given to him by God in order to heal the sick, lame and possessed and even to raise people from the dead. (Matthew 10:1,5-8; Mark 5:35-43) Especially in light of these miraculous signs having been shown to them, those who witness Jesus’ ministry, and do not repent, are cursed by him. (Mathew 12:34; 17:17) He damns town after town that rejects his message and that of his apostles to a terrible judgment from God, a destruction worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24) Please note, with a view to what will follow in the next section, that Jesus endorses the destruction of these cities by his father, Yahweh, the Lord of the Elohim.
We hear Jesus tell people not to fear their adversaries, who can only kill their bodies, but to fear God who can send both their bodies and souls to burn in Hell. (Matthew 10:28) People are also warned to perpetually be on guard, in fear and hope, for the coming Day of Judgment, which will arrive when they are least expecting it. (Matthew 24:42-51) On that day when the angels descend from heaven to reap the harvest of men and their deeds (Matthew 13:34-43), everyone will be held accountable for every word they have ever spoken (Matthew 12:36), and every person will be rewarded with heaven or punished with misery in hellfire according to their own actions (Matthew 16:27; 13: 47-50).
In response to Peter’s question about what those who have sacrificed their families to follow Jesus (more on this in the next section) will gain, we see that Jesus and his devout disciples will themselves act as judges deciding on the reward or damnation of the souls of the 12 tribes of Israel:
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Matthew 19:27-29)
Indeed, this Jesus acknowledges himself to be a messenger sent to a specific community, the Israelites. (Matthew 15:22-28; 10:5-6) From the opening lines of the book of Matthew, Jesus is identified as “the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1) A detailed genealogy is produced to root him firmly in the Abrahamic tradition. In Luke 1:55, even before Jesus is born, the Lord on whose behalf Gabriel has promised Mary that she will conceive “the Son” of this God is clearly identified as the Lord of Abraham: “As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”
When the three men from the East come to Israel following the Star, they explicitly state that they have come in search of the King of Jews. (Matthew 2) Of course, later, when he is executed, the inscription above his head nailed to the cross reads: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” (Matthew 27:37) Just after Jesus is born, and his mother Mary has to go through the period of ritual purification stipulated in the commandments of the Torah, he is welcomed into the world as Jew:
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses was accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord… And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord… (Luke 21-23)
During his childhood, Jesus sneaks away from his parents, who after three days of searching for him, “found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers [i.e. with respect to the Tanakh or Jewish Bible]. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 3:46–49) So the Jewish temple is the place of the business of Jesus’ Father and he is already so well instructed in the Jewish scriptures that he can carry on an extensive conversation with the rabbis.
Jesus is intended to redeem the Jews but in the end he accuses them, and especially their religious leaders, of having forsaken their covenant with the Lord. As a consequence, says Jesus, His kingdom will be taken away from them, ‘the chosen people’, and instead whoever from whatever nation who is faithful shall join the prophets in dwelling there. (Matthew 8: 8,10-12) In John 14:2 we are given a more specific reference to the “many mansions” that have been prepared for the faithful in the heavenly house of Jesus’ Father.
Jesus even interacts with biblical prophets who are his forerunners, such as Moses. In the so-called Transfiguration incident, Jesus introduces his disciples to both Elijah and Moses on a mountaintop is another instance wherein a bright luminous object appears, and it is the white light of this object that makes the face and garments of Jesus shine so brightly; it acts both as a conveyance for these apparently still-living ancient prophets and to broadcast the message, once again: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1–8) It is, presumably, by means of such conveyances that those who believe in Jesus will journey to the celestial abodes prepared for them.
From start to finish, the formative phase of the Christian religion is just as thoroughly conditioned by manifestations of the UFO-type as the careers of the Jewish prophets who paved the way for the coming of this alleged Messiah. Some of these biblical Close Encounters will be detailed in the following section, but to begin with let us glance at those that are specifically relevant to the birth and ministry of Jesus.
Mary conceives after a visitation, and perhaps an insemination, by Gabriel that she finds terrifying; he appears plainly in the form of a man just as the elohim of old. (Luke 1:26–29) The relevant passages of scripture are clear that the so-called “star” that the three Magi from the Persian Empire followed to the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem is a moving luminous object under apparently intelligent control and not an actual star or planet that crosses the heavens in a fixed manner together with other stars; it finally stops flying and comes to stand over where the newborn child is so that the shepherds there are also filled by fear at its radiant glory. (Matthew 2:9; Luke 2:9)
When Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan, “the heavens were opened” and the spirit of God descends in physical form, flying down like a dove – in other words, relatively motionless despite its wings being spread – before assuming a stationary position and hovering directly over him. (John 1:32; Luke 3:22) Regarding the metaphor of the “dove” it is worthy of note that it is directly connected to the pillar of fire and “cloud” of Exodus in a verse from Isaiah that reads: “Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?” (Isaiah 60:8) A voice emanates from the object to declare, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”, whereupon Jesus is lifted straight up out of the water and carried into the sky – as if by a tractor beam – to be deposited some distance away, in the desert wilderness, where he is to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 3:16–4:1) This kind of abduction and dislocation by the “whirlwind” that God rides in would often happen to Elijah. (II Kings 2:16)
The same ‘angels’ or elohim that are present at the birth of Jesus, that saw to his needs during his lifetime (Matthew 4:11), and one of whom Mary Magdalene encounters at the open tomb on Easter Sunday (Matthew 28:1–7), are also present at the so-called Ascension wherein the resurrected Jesus is carried up and away by a UFO for the last time before the promised Second Coming and in full view of his astonished disciples who are gazing skywards with their mouths agape. (Acts 1:6–11)
Nor did the interventions cease with the departure of Christ. The text of Acts 9, 22, and 26 when taken together make it quite clear that the other men who were traveling with Paul on the road to Damascus, while he was still a chief Jewish adversary of the nascent Christian movement, experienced the same stunning light descending from the sky, brighter than the sun. Moreover, the voice that Paul hears is not one readily identifiable by him, so that the interpretation that he was simply experiencing a pang of conscience translated into an auditory hallucination is unwarranted. It is only once Paul asks the voice emanating from the luminous aerial object what lordly person it is that says, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” that he receives the answer that it is Christ. Apparently Jesus was still traveling around in his heavenly Father’s aerial object that he boarded at the Ascension.
- WHO’S YOUR DADDY, JC?
By now it is clear that, despite the claims of Marcionites and other Gnostics (whose apologetics will be addressed in section 3), the text of the Gospels in any standard Bible found throughout the West clearly indicates that Jesus is the son of the Lord of Abraham and other Jewish prophets. Granted, that Lord has apparently decided to make some modifications to the Revelation that he disclosed to Abraham, which is of course nothing new. Even in the Old Testament, what was “revealed” to Moses was not coextensive with the original Abrahamic revelation in an isomorphic manner. Furthermore, by the time we get to later prophets such as Job, there are clearly doctrinal developments beyond the Mosaic Law. It is at the Lord’s discretion that He reveals (and conceals) what he wills to whomever he pleases whenever he pleases to do so. That being the case, what is of most concern to us here is the character (ethos in Greek) of the Lord of Abraham and Father of Jesus. Let us begin at the beginning, where Storey does, with what happens in the Garden of Eden.
The first thing that we will notice by carefully attending to the text of the Tanakh or Old Testament, rather than the history of subsequent interpretations that have overlaid and occluded it, is that the so-called ‘God’ of this scripture is not a single omnipotent and omniscient deity. Two Hebrew words are predominately used for ‘God’ in the Old Testament, elohim and adonai. The latter, adonai, is a title; it simply means ‘Lord’ as in a feudal lord or chieftain. The Hebrew word elohim is the plural of el and its translation as ‘God’ in the Old Testament is terribly misleading; it actually means “the gods” or as your edition puts it in Genesis 6 ”the divine beings”. The word elohim is derived from ellu, which means: “the shining”. So the gods of the Old Testament are literally “The Shining Ones.” Interestingly, this is exactly the same descriptor that the Hindus use to refer to the “gods” of their pantheon. They are called devas and the Sanskrit words deva (god) or devi (goddess) also mean, “shining one”.
There are numerous passages throughout the Old Testament where it becomes clear that the ‘Lord’ or adonai of the Israelites is simply the chieftain of a band of gods, comparable to Zeus as the leader of the Olympian pantheon of the Greeks. The earliest and most important of these passages are in the book of Genesis. They concern the humanoid form of the elohim and the godlike potential of mankind. At Genesis 1 :26-27 we read: And elohim said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … And elohim created man in their image, in the image of elohim He [adonai] created him; male and female He [adonail created them.”
Most translations obscure the distinction between the creator, who is the Lord of the elohim or “the gods”, and the gods and goddesses in whose image men and women were created by translating elohim as ‘God’ (singular), whereas it is really plural in the text, and by conflating this ‘God’ with “He” which refers to the Lord (adonai) or chieftain of the elohim. In fact, the phrase “chief of the gods” or adonai elohim, which is improperly translated as “the Lord God”, appears repeatedly in the Torah. (It is also noteworthy that since this passage precedes the creation of Eve as a “helper” to Adam at Genesis 18-24, it is possible that the elohim in whose image man was originally created were androgynous or hermaphroditic beings. (This was the view of many Gnostics who thought that sexual difference had to be overcome in order to realize our divine potential.) The other evident implication of the statement that mankind was wrought in the image of the elohim is that we have the potential to be gods.
In fact, the second passage in Genesis where it is very clear that we are dealing not with an all-knowing or all-powerful ‘God’ but with gods who are ruled by a single sovereign has to do with the first step taken by man – or rather, by woman – to realize this godlike potential. At Genesis 3:4-6, the serpent explains to Eve that the Lord of the elohim lied when he told her and Adam that eating of the “tree of knowledge” and the “tree of life” in ”the middle of garden”, or even touching them, would result in death. Rather, “You are not going to die,” the serpent explains, “but God knows that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings [elohim] who know good and bad.” Once they have eaten of the “tree of knowledge” of good and evil, Adam and Eve make loincloths for themselves to hide their nakedness.
Now, this is not on account of prudishness. When we are told at Genesis 2:25 that the “two of them were naked … yet they felt no shame” we have to remember that in the culture and epoch to which this scripture belongs nakedness was a sign of slavery. Slave laborers went about naked. Humans were created “because … there was no man to till the soil” in the garden of the gods at Eden. (Genesis 2:5)
When the newly enlightened couple hears the sound of the Lord approaching they hide themselves. Once again it is clear that ‘God’ is a man, one walking about in Eden, who might not notice the couple hiding in the bushes: “They heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of day; and the man and his wife hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat of the tree from which I had forbidden you to eat?” (Genesis 3: 8-11)
Now the Lord’s reaction to this supposed transgression of seeking knowledge and defying enforced ignorance is also very revealing of the all-too-human character and motivations of the elohim. (Genesis 3:15-19) The serpent is cursed for enlightening man. Its legs are taken away so that it has to crawl in the dust of the earth, and this suggests that before being punished in this manner it was a Dragon – a suggestion that will be confirmed in the New Testament (Revelation 12:8) when Satan is referred to as “the great dragon… that old serpent.” Eve or womankind is punished with pain in childbearing and subservience to men – to fathers, husbands, and brothers. Men are sentenced to hard labor, quite literally to working themselves to death. Most revealing, however, are these lines from Genesis 3:22-24: “And the chief elohim (or: the leader of the gods) said, “Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and bad, what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!” So the leader of the gods banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken. He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.” This god is jealous and fearful that the men who have been created in the image of the gods that he rules might actually live up to their godlike potential – in other words, that they might become his equal. The cherubim or angelic beings that, together with some blazing sword-like device (akin to a double-bladed light saber), guard the tree of life are there to prevent human beings from attaining the immortality of the gods in addition to the godlike ability to know or discern things, such as good and evil, from one another.
Apparently, not all of the gods agreed that we should be punished for having sought knowledge and prevented from attaining the godlike immortality that is our birthright. This brings us to the third passage in Genesis where the humanoid character of the elohim and their leader becomes clear. It is one of the most fascinating passages in the entire Tanakh. The key lines, in Genesis 6:1-8, read as follows:
When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, the divine beings [elohim] saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and took wives from among those that pleased them … It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth – when the divine beings [elohim] cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on earth, and His heart was saddened. The Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the men whom I created – men together with beasts, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I regret that I made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.
What follows is the account of Noah’s flood. A few things are immediately apparent here. First, the elohim – who are obviously subject to sexual lust – are capable of mating with human women so as to spawn a hybrid race of “heroes” or as the Greek translations of the Old Testament have it, a race of “giants.” The word Nephilim derives from the Hebrew root nph-l meaning “fall”, so that it has been interpreted as “the fallen” ones, i.e. the elohim or gods who descended from the heavens or the stars to spawn the gigantic hybrids. This reading is the source of the term “fallen angel” since the so-called ‘angels’ of later Christian tradition are simply the elohim or “the gods” themselves.
Others have interpreted Nephilim to mean those who cause men to “fall” in battle – i.e. violent conquerors or slayers, namely the giants or titans themselves. In any case, what is clear is that some among the elohim rebelled against the Lord by spawning an earthly civilization that was superhuman and, from the Lord’s perspective, preoccupied with wicked and evil deeds. In fact, the Lord finds the godlike empowerment of mankind on the earth so offensive that he “regrets” the entire Creation and decides to wipe it clean with the deluge that Noah is chosen to survive. What kind of ‘God’ makes a mistake like this? Certainly, not one who is omniscient and omnipotent.
Something seems to be missing here. In only a few lines the Bible tells us that the Lord has suddenly decided to wipe out the entirety of Creation? What are these evil acts on the part of the rebel gods or fallen angels and their titanic offspring that have supposedly consumed humanity and that constitute a defiance of divine laws? Should not more have been said about them, especially given the fact that it is clearly stated that they began to take place after gods came down and interbred with humans?
Well, as it turns out more was said, but it was excised from the Bible as many other parts of it were over time. The text is known as the Book of Enoch. This is the same Enoch referred to at Genesis 5:21-24: “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he begot Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years; and he begot sons and daughters. All the days of Enoch came to 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him.” What this mysterious passage means is made clear in the Book of Enoch, where this prophet is taken up and away into the heavens in one of the chariots of the elohim and is shown apocalyptic scenes of the future judgment of the world. It details the rise of a hybrid civilization of demigods on the Earth. It is made clear that the gods who breed with mortal women are an army of angels who revolt against the Lord and attempt to enlighten humans by teaching them all kinds of arts and sciences. This especially improves the lot of women, whose innate psychical superiority to men is cultivated to turn them into powerful sorceresses, and who are taught both methods of birth control and of abortion so that they can take pleasure in sex as they wish and with whom they wish. It is probably with a view to this antediluvian liberation of women that the Bible specifically targets female practice of the occult arts in that famous injunction at Exodus 22:17 that was used by those in Europe and America who burned witches at the stake for centuries: ”Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live.”
There is a war between the hybrid human civilization that the rebel angels spawn and the army of the Lord, and these giants lose. Their civilization is wiped out in a worldwide deluge and the fallen angels themselves are bound to remain incarcerated beneath the Earth. Later in European history, John Milton develops this theme of war between God and the rebel leader Lucifer in Paradise Lost. One mention of the war amongst the gods in the Bible itself is at Revelation 12: 7-9: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Once humanity builds itself back up again after the Flood, what seems to be a cosmopolitan civilization – an urban culture with a single world language – undertakes a project to build something like a tower by means of which they will be able to ascend to the heavens. The Lord is once again afraid and jealous of their progress and decides to destroy this unified human civilization, scatter its survivors, and set them against each other. Here are the passages on the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11:1-9:
Everyone on earth had the same language and the same words … And they said, “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world.” The Lord came down to look at the city and tower that man had built, and the Lord said, “If, as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they may propose to do will be out of their reach. Let us, then, go down and confound their speech there, so that they shall not understand one another’s speech.” Thus the Lord scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confounded the speech of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Babel or Babylon was the site of the great ziggurat or multi-tiered step pyramid that was intended to be a “stairway to heaven.” Bab means “gateway” or “portal” in the Semitic languages and El as we have seen means “shining one” or “god”, so that Babylon might be the place of the shining portal or the gateway to godhood – clearly a door that the Lord does not want man to walk through.
Babylon lies at the heart of Mesopotamia, and it is from this land that the next two figures central to the account of Genesis emerge. We are told that both Abraham and his nephew, Lot, are from “Ur of the Chaldeans.” (Genesis 11:28) The Chaldeans of Ur were Mesopotamians, dwelling in nearby Babylon, in what is now Iraq. Frequent reference is also made to Elam and its king, Chedorlaomer, who leads a confederation of chieftains in a great battle during Abraham’s lifetime. (Genesis 14) The Elamite kingdom was the oldest civilization of present-day Iran, a land that would soon be dominated by the Persians. Mention is made of the Hittites as well, another Aryan tribe who were ancestors of the Iranian Medes. At one point, later on, the Hittites even refer to Abraham as the elect of the Lord among them. (Genesis 23:3-6) In the opening of Genesis 24 we are also told that Abraham demands his servants send for a wife from his native land, namely Ur, for his son Isaac. So the line of Abraham, including Ishmael (whom Abraham fathers by his wife’s servant, Hagar), issues forth from the area between Iraq and Iran – a cradle of civilization and the core of what would centuries later become the Islamic world.
This is significant because the Lord not only promises to make the descendants of Abraham, whose wife is thought to be sterile, into a nation as multitudinous as the stars, but the angel who meets Hagar in the desert promises to do the same for Ishmael, who marries an Egyptian woman, “a wild ass of a man; His hand against everyone, And everyone’s hand against him; He shall dwell alongside of all his kinsmen.” (Genesis 16:11) At no point in the course of human history have the Jews constituted a significant percentage of the earth’s population, but if we take the Muslims to be the great nation that the Lord promises to make of the descendants of Ishmael (Genesis 21:13, 18), then the prophecy concerning the descendants of Abraham appears to be one that was fulfilled. Three major “pagan” civilizations in this part of the world would have to be destroyed by those in the line of Abraham for this to come to pass: Babylonia, Egypt, and Persia. Note that Egypt also features in the origin story of Abraham, who takes refuge from a famine in Canaan there for a while, during the course of which he gets wealthy – apparently with the Lord’s blessing – by whoring his wife to the Pharaoh. (Genesis 12:14-20)
After leaving Mesopotamia for Canaan, the land that would become Israel, Abraham and his nephew Lot agree to spread out. (Genesis 13) Lot settles in Sodom, which was on the plain of Jordan together with its twin city of Gomorrah. Both men have encounters with the Lord that further illuminate the very finite, humanoid character of the Abrahamic God who sends Jesus as a Messiah.
One evening the Lord visits Abraham to promise him the land of Canaan and a multitude of descendants who would eventually prosper despite a prophesied period of four centuries of slavery in Egypt. This encounter elapses from the hours just before sunset into the twilight and the early nighttime. ‘God’ appears in the guise of a real estate agent, so that when Abraham asks how he knows that he has closed his contract with his god, the Lord replies that he should provide him with an animal sacrifice. (Genesis 15) The acceptance of this sacrifice, which Abraham does not allow birds of prey to devour, is the first of many instances in the Bible where we are given a strange account of a machine that the chroniclers of the tradition seem somewhat at a loss to accurately describe within their cultural context: “When the sun set and it was very dark, there appeared a smoking oven, and a flaming torch which passed between those pieces.” (Genesis 15:17)
Also take note of the fact that the Lord demands that Abraham, his kinfolk, and all of his slaves be marked in their flesh – like cattle – as a sign that they now belong to Him. Anyone who refuses to be branded in this way will be totally ostracized from his family and the community at large. Making this mark, namely circumcision, not only on Abraham’s family but also on his slaves is apparently more important to the Lord than asking Abraham to free his many slaves. (Genesis 17) This is tantamount to evidence of the Lord’s approval of the institution of slavery.
The next visitation of the Lord is even stranger, if we have been falsely conditioned into abstractly thinking of the Abrahamic ‘God’ as an all-knowing and all-powerful Creator of the cosmos. Three men appear outside Abraham’s tent and the Lord is clearly one of them: “The Lord appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said, ‘My lords, if it please you, do not go on past your servant.”‘ (Genesis 18:1-5) As Abraham and his wife Sarah hurry to cater to these guests, one of them tells Sarah that, despite being an old and “withered” woman far past menopause, when he returns in the following year she will have had a child by her 100-year old husband. While she conceals any outward expression of how ridiculous she finds this, the man is able to read her mind and confronts her for faithless skepticism with the rebuke: “Is anything too wondrous for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:9-15)
The three men then take Abraham up to a hill wherein they can overlook the plain of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham’s nephew Lot has settled. Since he has now been chosen as an insider, the Lord decides to reveal to him the divine plan for the imminent destruction of these cities whose inhabitants are supposed to have become so sinful that the outcry against them has reached the Lord. The transition from this scene, where the three men are with Abraham, to the next one wherein the two elohim – the “angels” or literally messengers of the Lord – enter the town of Sodom to retrieve Lot is key. The text of Genesis 18-19 reads: “The [three men] set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Abraham walking with them to see them off… The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. …The two angels arrived in Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.”
In other words, the Lord is definitely one of the three men who visit Abraham and Sarah at their encampment. While he remains behind with Abraham, he sends his two lieutenants into Sodom to evacuate Abraham’s nephew and his family before he subjects Sodom and Gomorrah to an aerial attack. The details in the description of this fiery assault from the sky witnessed by Abraham as Lot and his family head for the hills are noteworthy:
As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city. Still he delayed. So the men seized his hand, and the hands of his wife and two daughters – in the Lord’s mercy on him – and brought him out and left him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.” But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lord! You have been so gracious to your servant, and have already shown me so much kindness in order to save my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Look, that town there is near enough to flee to; it is such a little place! Let me flee there – it is such a little place – and let my life be saved.” He replied, “Very well, I will grant you this favor too, and I will not annihilate the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, flee to there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Hence the town came to be called Zoar [“a little place”]. As the sun rose upon the earth and Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulfurous fire from the Lord out of heaven. He annihilated those cities and the entire Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the ground. Lot’s wife looked back, and she thereupon turned into a pillar of salt. Next morning, Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and, looking down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of the Plain, he saw the smoke of the land rising like the smoke of a kiln. Thus it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain and annihilated the cities where Lot dwelt, God was mindful of Abraham and removed Lot from the midst of the upheaval. Lot went up from Zoar and settled in the hill country with his two daughters, for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar; and he and his two daughters lived in a cave. (Genesis 19:15-30)
This cannot but evoke, in the mind of a modem reader, the image of a mushroom cloud and the poisonous radioactive fallout following a nuclear strike. Although one of the gods promises Lot that the little town nearby Sodom and Gomorrah will be spared, he is still afraid to dwell there on account of its proximity to the recently destroyed cities. What natural catastrophe could prompt such a fear after it had destroyed the two cities? While Lot and his daughters make it to a cave where they are safe from the proverbial ‘fallout’ in the days after the strike, Lot’s wife who turned back undergoes a strange transformation that the chronicler grasps at a metaphor in order to express – perhaps it is a deadly metamorphosis akin to that suffered by victims of atomic mutation.
Just as the three men eat and drink the meal prepared by Sarah, the two of them that continue on to Sodom also eat a feast and have their dirty feet washed. They are carnal enough to be lusted after by the men of Sodom, although they have the seemingly magical power to blind this mob with a flash of light once the mob attempts to storm Lot’s house. (Genesis 19:11) Interestingly, Lot’s sons-in-law find the warnings from the men ridiculous and think that Lot is joking when he asks them to leave with him before the city is destroyed by the Lord. (Genesis 19:12-14) This means that, despite their telepathic and psychokinetic abilities, there was nothing so evidently ‘divine’ about these men that they would be believed without question. The elohim who act as “angels” or messengers of the Lord in the Old Testament, for the most part, do not have wings. This is a much later artistic convention.
Finally, as in the case of the place of slaves in the covenant of Abraham, we have to ask about the ethics of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Before the two of the three “men” arrive at Sodom, Abraham negotiates with their leader who stays behind, namely the Lord, over how many righteous people would have to be in this supposedly wicked city in order for the Lord to spare it for their sake. Abraham gets the Lord to keep lowering the number. (Genesis 18: 22-32) However, in the end we know that only Lot and his family are forcibly evacuated by the Lord’s two agents, and at that not his whole family but only his daughters. His sons stay behind and his wife turns back. This means that the Lord considers Lot the only righteous man in Sodom. But how virtuous is a man who offers up his two virgin daughters to be raped by a mob of lecherous men gathered around his house? (Genesis 19:6-8)
After the destruction of Sodom, the same man has sex with these two daughters. We are told that they get him so drunk that, on two nights in a row, he does not realize that he is having sex with first his older daughter and then his younger one. (Genesis 19 :31-3 5) Now this is an old man. If he were that drunk he would not have been able to go through with the act so that he fathered children by both of these girls. Is it then not much more likely that Lot is spared because he is the nephew of Abraham rather than on account of his own virtue?
This, however, only begs the question of Abraham’s own virtue or lack thereof? No episode in the narrative of Genesis is more relevant to this question than the famous (or infamous) offering up of Isaac as a sacrificial animal. The story is told in Genesis 22, which begins with these lines:
Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test. He said to him, “Abraham,” and he answered, “Here I am.” And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.”
Once Abraham arrives at Mount Moriah and begins to ascend with the firestone and knife, having left his servants behind with their mules, Isaac, who is carrying the logs on which, unbeknown to himself, his father plans to sacrifice him, the boy hauntingly asks:
“Father! … Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22: 7-8)
The narrative reaches its culmination with Abraham’s evident willingness to murder his son on the command of the Lord, and the Lord’s approval of this sign of Abraham’s absolute obedience, as expressed through one of His angels:
They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son. Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham! ” And he answered, “Here I am.” And he said, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me … Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your favored one, I will bestow My blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed My command.” (Genesis 22:9-12, 15-18)
All of this is as much as to say that the conquest of the world by the Abrahamic peoples, the Judeo-Christians and the Muslims, with the support of a Lord who appears now for the first of many times to come as a heavenly or celestial warlord, is founded on the willingness of Abraham to unquestioningly slaughter his own son as if he were a sacrificial animal in obedience to a voice from the sky.
The final testimony to the very human character of the gods of Israel, including their Lord, which I would like us to dwell on in Genesis is the encounter between Isaac’s son Jacob and the god who wrestles with him by the ford of a river. The context for the story is that Jacob, who steals the blessing of his brother Essau from his father Isaac, makes a journey to a land by the name of Paddan-aram to work for his uncle Laban, and then after many years of labor heads back to Canaan a wealthy man with Laban’s two daughters as his wives. (Genesis 27-28)
Let it be noted, if only in passing, that Jacob’s interactions with his uncle over these two women are among the most blatant displays of the Biblical view that women are nothing more than property to be handed over from their father to their husband. Jacob works for Rachel instead of for ‘cash’ and Laban shrewdly decides to use Jacob’s lust as an opportunity to get rid of Leah as part of the same package-deal, since she is not likely to bring in much on her own in the market for wives. (Genesis 29:17-27) Later on Rachel and Leah define themselves as property when asked by Jacob to seek the monetary aid of their father: Then Rachel and Leah answered him, saying, “Have we still a share in the inheritance of our father’s house? Surely, he regards us as outsiders, now that he has sold us and has used up our purchase price.” (Genesis 31:14-15)
On his way back to Canaan, Jacob sends his wives ahead with his other property across the river Jabbok, some of which is meant to serve as a peace offering to his slighted brother Essau. Earlier in his journeys, Jacob has already had a dream of angels ascending and descending a “ramp”, “stairway”, or “ladder” that he takes to be ”the gateway to heaven” from one of the abodes of God on the earth (Genesis 28: 12-17) and he has also encountered angels in person. (Genesis 32:2-3) These events are heralds of the striking vignette that we are presented with at Genesis 32:25-33, when he spends the night alone at the riverbank after having sent his property, including his wives, ahead of him:
Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he wrenched Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he answered, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” Said the other, “What is your name?” He replied, “Jacob.” Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel (Yisra-El), for you have striven with beings divine [El-ohim] and humans, and have prevailed.” Jacob asked, “Pray tell me your name.” But he said, “You must not ask my name!” And he took leave of him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, meaning, “I have seen a divine being face to face [or “I have seen the face of God”], yet my life has been preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping on his hip. That is why the children of Israel to this day do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip, since Jacob’s hip socket was wrenched at the thigh muscle.
The importance of this event cannot be overestimated, since it is the origin of the name of the nation of Israel whose chronicle this scripture is meant to be in the first place. The word Israel, which includes El or “a god” – the singular of elohim – means “having striven (or wrestled) with a god and come out alive.” This feat is all the more remarkable on account of the fact that this god is evidently a dirty wrestler; he dislocates Jacob’s hip so that he can have an unfair advantage. Take note of how the god wants to be released before the morning light fully illuminates his face and figure and remember how he refuses to identify himself by name. This will become more significant as we now tum to Exodus.
In Moses’ first encounter with elohim he is spoken to from amidst a luminous object that settled within a thicket, an object whose white light is so striking that Moses is astonished that it does not burn the thicket as would a fire (which is the only thing within his sphere of knowledge, that is capable of producing such a light). (Exodus 3:2) As we have seen, the elohim of the Old Testament are simply visiting strangers who have unusual abilities, like being able to render fertile an old woman such as Abraham’s wife Sarah (Genesis 18:1,2) set Jacob’s hip bone out of joint simply by touching it (Genesis 32:24-25), or strike down the Sodomite mob amassed at Lot’s house by projecting a blinding flash of light, sometime shortly before the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are subjected to aerial bombardment by the elohim. (Genesis 19)
It is with a contest in the use of such unusual abilities that the foundational narrative of the religion of Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad begins. Moses and his associate Aron are in Pharaoh’s court, demanding freedom for their people, and a battle in the display of psychic abilities ensues between them and Pharaoh’s practitioners of alchemy (al-khemi, “the art/craft [i.e. techne] from Khemit”; Khemit being the indigenous name of Ancient Egypt). They both throw down their rods or ‘magic wands’ and have them turn into serpents. (Exodus 7:8–13) It becomes clear that both sides are adept in wielding the ‘serpent power’ and so the Lord eventually resorts to plagues and the overnight slaughter of innocent Egyptian newborns in order to intimidate Pharaoh to free the Jews.
When the Lord hears the cry of his people the Israelites and decides the time has come to free them from slavery in Egypt, He himself ‘hardens Pharaoh’s heart’ and that of his courtiers into the unbelievably obstinate stubbornness we see as Pharaoh fails to take a lesson from the plagues administered and cleansed through Moses. The Hebrew Lord claims to have done this in order that it might provide an excuse to show ‘His signs’ to mock and strike fear into the hearts of the Egyptians. (Exodus 10:1-2) We then hear that even though most of the common Egyptian people take kindly to Moses and the Israelites, the Lord punishes them terribly for the (divinely predetermined) recalcitrance of Pharaoh and his royal court. Their innocent firstborn children are mercilessly slaughtered as Egyptian mothers and fathers are left crying out in terror like never before into the darkness of the desert night. (Exodus 11:3-7)
Apparently, familiar with the malevolent use of psychic ability, and regretful of having been intimidated by such parlor tricks, Pharaoh repents of this decision to free the Jewish servants and sends his army into the Sinai desert in pursuit of them on their way to the “promised land”. Throughout their years-long exodus in the Sinai, the Israelites are led by a purposively guided aerial object that appears as “a pillar [‘ammud, column] of cloud” by day and as “a pillar [or column] of fire” by night. (Exodus 13:21,22) The column is low-flying enough for them to observe its cylindrical structure, which has a steel-grey “cloud”-like hue during the day and glows with a fiery light after sunset. We are told that the Lord, in all his glory, is inside (aboard?) the pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 16:10; 14:24). The “tent of the meeting” – the center-point of the Israelites’ pitched camp during the exodus – is set up and removed, based on where the cylindrical object comes to a halt and hovers at a stationary position (Exodus 40:33-38) or where it occasionally even touches down (Numbers 9:17).
There is one particular night when the object does not emit its usual fiery glow. The Egyptian army has come up the rear of the Israelites, who are effectively cornered at the Red Sea, with no place to run unless they can cross it somehow. “The cloud” then takes a position between the Egyptians and the Israelites, and remains there throughout the night, as if to block the Egyptians from attacking the Israelites and – by effectively ‘turning off its light’ – it prevents the Egyptians from even seeing the Israelite camp as they might have, had the object been hovering above them in its usually luminous nocturnal mode that allowed the Israelites to march at night. (Exodus 14:19,20; 13:21) The following morning the Israelites awake to see the object hovering over the Red Sea, and directly beneath it is a channel cut into the Sea with the water neatly piled up into walls on either side. (Exodus 14:24; 14:22; 15:8)
Even more surprisingly, when the Israelites cross the channel – probably expecting to be wading knee deep in mud – they find that the seabed is dry and firm underfoot. (Exodus 14:22) Once the Egyptian army enters the channel in pursuit of the Israelites, Moses is told (telepathically?) by the Lord to raise his hand over the sea (as if he were about to command it by his own ‘magical’ powers), whereupon two very striking events take place. First, the Egyptians appear as if they are suddenly struggling greatly. Their horses look as if they require the strain of a gallop just to move at all, and their chariots are crushed as if under an invisible weight that rips their wheels off. (Exodus 14:24,25) Then the walls of water on either side of the Egyptians gives way, collapsing the channel through the Red Sea, but only in the area behind the Israelites who are still advancing through the artificial channel. (Exodus 14:26-29) (All of the phenomenological descriptions of the channel are consistent with the projection of some kind of anti-gravitational beam from out of the cylindrical object hovering over the Sea. Such a beam might have pressed down so hard on the seabed after having cleared the water aside into walls, that it compressed all the moisture out of the mud into a dry crossing path. The beam could then have been phased out at its center, to allow the Israelites to cross, and then filled in again to crush the Egyptians by artificially increasing their weight, before the beam was removed altogether in that portion of the channel, so as to drown Pharaoh’s army.)
Our narrative culminates, and its socio-political significance becomes clear, once the Israelites arrive at Mount Sinai. The cylindrical object comes down upon the mountain in an illuminated state, causing great tremors and raising up smoke or dust. (Exodus 19:16-18) This cannot be a description of volcanic activity because the pillar comes down and sits at the top of the mountain (which would have been blown open by a volcanic eruption). (Exodus 19:20) The Israelites are warned in advance not to come too close to the mountain when ‘the cloud’ lands on it (Exodus 19:12, 21, 24), and Moses – although apparently shielded in some way from said danger – would return to the people with a peculiar glow about him after prolonged proximal exposure. (Exodus 34:29-35) Finally, Moses actually enters ‘the cloud’ (Exodus 24:15-18), and comes out having received stone tablets that the Lord has engraved with commandments (Exodus 24:12) that are to ground, not only the political state of the Jews, but the entire Abrahamic tradition of revealed religion – Jesus included.
Of course, Moses broke the first set of tablets in a rage, upon finding that his people had reverted to boisterous pagan rites during his long stay inside the object on the mountain. After pleading with the Lord not to destroy the entire Israelite camp as a punishment, and in order to assuage the Lord’s anger with a lesser punishment, Moses rounds up his faithful men and has them massacre hundreds of their own brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children, all for some singing and dancing around the idol of a golden calf. (Exodus 32) In evident approval of the massacre, the Lord then descends again in ‘the cloud’ to meet with Moses and engrave a second set of tablets. (Exodus 34:5) Specific orders are also given for the construction and style of furnishing for a Tabernacle to house the stone tablets engraved with the Law, and once constructed, the Tent of the Meeting would be filled with light from the pillar at night and elohim would even come down into the structure to receive sacrifices and give commands in person, face to face or “mouth to mouth”. (Exodus 40:34, 38; Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:4-8) At one point, angered with the Israelites, the Lord strikes out from the Tabernacle and sets fire to parts of the Israelite camp. (Numbers 11:1)
What was on the tablet inscribed by the Lord on Mount Sinai? While it is commonly thought that the tablet featured ten commandments, the text of Exodus, especially taken together with Leviticus and Deuteronomy, clearly states that the ten widely known commandments – set apart by subsequent tradition as “the Decalogue” – were only the first ten of a much more extensive set of commandments constituting an entire system of ‘divinely revealed’ law and order. Let us begin with the broadest of these fundamental principles, one that encompasses the others: Justice.
To the Lord of Moses ‘Justice’ is synonymous with the commensurate recompense delivered up to a person that has wronged another in the community: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:23-35) It would appear that we are presented with a cold but rigorously logical system whereby each person is held accountable for the precise measure of his or her own transgression against others. However, in the opening lines of the Lord’s greatest decree to Israel, in fire and smoke upon Mount Sinai, we learn that those who violate the laws of the Lord thereby place a curse upon their blood descendants which endures for centuries, while the grandchildren of the righteous are graciously rewarded for no good deeds of their own: “I the Lord your God am an impassioned [or jealous] God, visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and fourth generations of those who reject Me, but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:5-6) Thus in the Torah’s conception of Justice, one is not judged on the basis of one’s own conscience, but on the basis of the community’s obedience to the Lord.
We see the code of supposedly commensurate Justice established in the Torah at work more specifically in the regulations defining property rights. In the forbidding of a person to covet or steal another’s house, wife, slaves, beasts of burden or goods, we have an implicit declaration that each person has an exclusive right to private property (Exodus 22:1-4). This means that ‘things’ can be inscribed with a person’s ownership, and a person defined by the things that he owns. Only the latter can explain the sanction of killing a thief caught in the act by the owner of the property he was attempting to steal (Exodus 22:1-4), for the only other sanctioning of killing is as a recompense for having murdered a person. Thus for a Hebrew to violate a man’s property was to profoundly violate his sense of self. If a thief is not caught in the act, he is to pay back double what he stole, or if he cannot afford to do so he will be sold into slavery. (Exodus 22:1-4) Indeed, the right to property includes ownership of people, as well as objects, and the right to treat them brutally as property: “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod, and he dies there and then, he must be avenged. But if he survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, since he is the other’s property.” (Exodus 21:20; my emphasis).
While it is disturbingly odd today to think of woman’s rights as part of the question of private property, it is so defined within the Torah. For Moses and his Lord, women, one half of the human race, were in the last analysis the most prized property of their fathers, husbands and masters. We see that a man ‘wears’ his women like adorning garments when the Lord commands that: “No man shall marry his father’s former wife, so as to remove his father’s garment.” (Deuteronomy 23:1) In the very code given by the Lord on Mount Sinai we hear him sanction the ‘selling’ of women: “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not [ever] be freed as male slaves are.” (Exodus 21:7) In this form of economic exchange women who have lost their virginity are not only considered damaged goods, they are publicly shamed then stoned to death for having spoiled their father’s property and challenged his authority over use of their sexuality. (Deuteronomy 22:13,20-21) If the man who seduced the woman is known this fate can be avoided if he pays her ‘bride-price’ to her father, whether or not the father actually gives her to him to take home. (Exodus 22:15-16) Women who are engaged and then raped and are too afraid to cry out for help are condemned to death. In this case the rapist is also condemned to death but only because he stole another man’s property. (Deuteronomy 22:23) Most shockingly, if a woman is raped in a deserted place and tries to cry out but there is no one to hear her she is not killed, but the rapist must “pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver” and is forced to marry her and forbidden from ever divorcing her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) The Lord of Israel apparently gives no thought to how she might feel about being forced to live under the authority of her rapist, and sleep in his bed, every night for the rest of her life. Of course, while women’s sexuality is the property of one man, men are entitled to take many wives to entertain themselves so long as they are wealthy enough not to diminish the food, clothing or conjugal rights of those that they already possess (Exodus 21:10-11).
One might note in the passage above that women are provided for by men, and some might make an argument that their duties towards men are justified on this basis. However, it is only because a woman is forbidden from participating in the public sector that a man must provide for her, not necessarily because she does not want to work to meet her own needs. This ban of women from public and religious offices (often indistinguishable in the Temple-state) is on account of the severe impurity the Lord thought her to incur during her monthly period. Not only is it forbidden to touch a menstruating woman, but anything that she touches, sits on, or otherwise comes into contact with is contaminated by her. If these objects are touched by someone else, that person contracts the impurity and can in turn pass it on to others, until the contaminated person bathes and washes thoroughly and then waits for the sun to set. (Leviticus 15:19-27) We might note that a woman is also considered unclean after giving birth, and that the period of both severe and minor contamination for giving birth to a girl (two-weeks and sixty-six days) is double that for a boy (seven days and thirty-three days). (Leviticus 12:1-5)
Perhaps it is in part due to this kind of impurity that women are outsiders in the relationship between Man and his Lord. The Lord of Israel only speaks to women concerning their husbands and sons, and very rarely at that. When Moses first hears the Lord he is told: “Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: The Lord, the god of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you…” (Exodus 3:15; my emphasis) Covenant makers are always only men. In fact a woman with spiritual power, sorcery the like of which Moses practices, is to be killed: “You shall not tolerate a sorceress.” (Exodus 22:17)
One of the so-called ‘Ten’ Commandments that stand at the heart of the Torah is: “…Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12) We also learn at Mount Sinai that it is a commandment whose violation is punishable by death: “He who insults his father or his mother shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:17) Later on in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 the subject is broached in more vivid detail and we learn that the specific circumstances of the death sentence for disobedience to one’s parents are that the person is brought into the public square, before the town elders, to be shamed and then stoned to death by the men of the community.
After the rite of circumcision, which symbolizes the Lord’s covenant with Abraham, the most important aspect of worship defined by the Torah is arguably the observance of the Sabbath. It commemorates the completion of the Lord’s cosmic creation. (Exodus 20:8-11) It is to be a day “…of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.” (Exodus 31:12-15) The Sabbath also symbolizes the Lord’s ‘consecration’ of Israel, and it is clear throughout the Torah that this God may have created heaven and earth, but he is the Lord of the Hebrews. They are his “treasured possession among all the peoples.” (Exodus 19:5) Aside from circumcision and the Sabbath, dietary laws and those governing ritual purity play a huge role in Judaism. Virtually the entire book of Leviticus in the Torah concerns itself with them. Animals such as camels, damans, hares, swine, sea creatures that are not fish, and some types of birds are unclean and forbidden to eat, or even to touch. (Leviticus 11:2-19)
The Lord defines Israel as a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), in other words, as a Temple-state. The heart of Israel is the “Tent of Meeting” or later “the Holy of Holies”, a most sacred space where the Ark of the Covenant is housed. This is the official place where the Lord descends to meet with the priesthood, and thereby speak to Israel. (Exodus 29:42) The Lord ordains the line of Aaron as the priests who guard the Lord’s tabernacle, and He even decrees how their robes and adornments are to be made. (Exodus 28:1-5) The priests’ clothing is to include “linen breeches” to “cover their nakedness”, which if it were at all revealed in the “Tent of Meeting” would mean a vengeful death sentence from the Lord. These regulations regarding the ordination of the priesthood are to be eternally inviolable. (Exodus 28:42-43)
The chief task of the priests is to administer the many kinds of bloody sacrifices that the Lord demands. One standard sacrifice, which is to be carried out “throughout the generations”, is of two lambs a day, one in the morning and one at evening. Precise mixtures of spices and wine are offered up into the fire together with the lambs, so that the odor of the offering would be pleasing to the Lord. (Exodus 29:38-41) There are even traces within the Torah of a tradition that may later have been purged from the text, that of human sacrifice of first born children to the Lord. (Exodus 22:28-29)
Moses was not the only one of the Israelites who was permitted to be inside the Tabernacle while the elohim were visiting it. Joshua was also allowed to do so as a young man. (Exodus 33:11) So it is unsurprising that after the death of Moses the Lord appoints him the next leader of the Israelites (Joshua 1:5), the general who will actually conquer the land that Moses merely promised them. Success in this conquest is contingent on strict obedience to the law that was revealed to Moses. (Joshua 1: 6–8) The Lord commands Joshua to leave the livestock and other possessions of the Israelites (including their women) on the near side of the Jordan river and to send an army of “fighting men” across it to conquer the land. (Joshua 1:14) When Joshua conveys this directive to his men they swear to obey his commands just as they obeyed those of Moses, so long as he is “strong and resolute”, and they also threaten to put to death anyone who disobeys the orders of Joshua – that would include anyone who might conscientiously dissent with respect to the plan to invade and conquer Canaan. (Joshua 1:16–18)
The seizure of the fortified city of Jericho is to be the beachhead of the Israelite invasion of Canaan and it begins when two spies enter the city on a reconnaissance mission. These find refuge in the house of a harlot named Rahab, who relates to them how the entire population is already intimidated by the Israelites on account of having heard of the ‘miracles’ performed by the Lord on their behalf – such as the parting of the Red Sea. (Joshua 2:9–11) In exchange for her collaboration, including her misdirection of a search party trying to capture the spies, the spies promise Rahab that her family will be spared by the invading Israelites as long as they do not step outside of her house – “which is to be marked with a crimson cord. (Joshua 3:13–19) Later we learn that only Rahab and her household are spared in the destruction of Jericho. (Joshua 1:17, 22, 24–25)
On the way towards Jericho, the Israelites are told to march at a fixed distance behind the Ark of Covenant – which is being carried by priests wearing special garments – and the Ark apparently acts as a pathfinder or guidance system to help the Israelites march along a route that they have never traveled before. (Joshua 3:1–4) As they are encamped along the Jordan river, Joshua tells his people to purify themselves since the Lord is about to, once again, “perform wonders” in their midst. (Joshua 3:5) The first of these wonders concerns the manner in which the Israelites are to cross the Jordan River into the territory that Lord has promised to them and intends to help them conquer. Here is what Joshua relates to his people concerning this impending act of God:
“Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God… you shall know that a living God is among you, and that He will dispossess for you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the Ark of the Covenant of the Sovereign of all the earth is advancing before you into the Jordan. Now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from each tribe. When the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the Lord, the Sovereign of all the earth, come to rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan – the water coming from upstream – will be cut off and will stand in a single heap.” (Joshua 3:9–13)
The text of this chapter goes on to explain the distinctly paranormal, not to say ‘supernatural,’ character of this event:
Now the Jordan keeps flowing over its entire bed throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the bearers of the Ark reached the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the Ark dipped into the water at its edge, the waters coming down from upstream piled up in a single heap a great way off, at Adam, the town next to Zarethan; and those flowing away downstream to the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) ran out completely. So the people crossed near Jericho. The priests who bore the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant stood on dry land exactly in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed over on dry land, until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan… As soon as the priests who bore the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant came up out of the Jordan, and the feet of the priests stepped onto the dry ground, the waters of the Jordan resumed their course, flowing over its entire bed as before. (Joshua 3:15–16, 4:18)
In other words, Joshua’s crossing of the Jordan River is described in similar terms as the parting of the Red Sea by ‘the cloud’, except that since it is a flowing river rather than a sea, the water is dammed up into an invisible wall only on one side of the Israelites. The Lord tells Joshua to demand that the Israelites commemorate this wonder by setting up a monument of twelve stones in the drained out riverbed of the Jordan, one for each of Israel’s twelve tribes. (Joshua 4:1–9) These stones, which are supposed to have been there underwater to the day this narrative was put into writing, constitute a sacred site or consecrated place. Ask yourself what then it is that makes a place consecrated to the “Sovereign of all the earth”?
Or listen to the prophet Joshua when explains that: “In time to come, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of those stones?’ tell your children: ‘Here the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry land.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you crossed, just as the Lord your God did to the Sea of Reeds, which He dried up before us until we crossed. Thus all the peoples of the earth shall know how mighty is the hand of the Lord, and you shall fear the Lord your God always.” (Joshua 4:21–24)
As “forty thousand shock troops” cross the Jordan “at the insistence of the Lord, to the steppes of Jericho for battle” we are told that: On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, so that they revered him all his days as they had revered Moses. (Joshua 4:13–14) This establishes that the same Lord guiding Moses is now acting as the supreme commander of Joshua’s troops as they begin the conquest of Canaan (the land that is to become Israel) with the sacking of Jericho.
If there were any remaining doubt as to the fact that the plunder, rape, and wholesale slaughter of an entire civilian population that we are about to witness is taking place under the order of the Lord of the elohim – the Father of Jesus – the next episode in the book of Joshua makes this crystal clear. On the far side of the river crossing, a man claiming to be the “captain of the Lord’s army (the word ‘host’ means military force)” meets Joshua in order to brief him on coordinating with the Lord for the military task ahead. (Joshua 5:13,14) The very human-like appearance of this god is clear from the fact that at first Joshua thinks that he might be an enemy soldier. (Joshua 5:13) Once it becomes clear who this is, Joshua prostrates himself face down on the ground in front of the god who is standing there with his sword drawn and asks: “What does my lord command his servant?” and the “captain of the Lord’s army” asks Joshua to remove his sandals in respect because, on account of his very presence, the ground on which they are standing is holy ground. (Joshua 5:14–15) All of this amounts to a deputizing of Joshua and a divine mandate for his mission.
The Lord’s intervention here, however, continues in an even more direct fashion. He gives specific instructions to Joshua, again involving use of the Ark, to bring down the legendary fortifications of Jericho so that the Israelites can storm the city. This is the second of the promised “wonders”. The Lord’s Ark has already been used as a navigational instrument and as the source of a force capable of repelling water. Now it is used as a sonic weapon: it interacts with vibrations of sound, possibly amplifying and concentrating the sonic waves before directing them at the walls of Jericho. The Lord gives specific instructions for how this is to be accomplished:
“Let all your troops march around the city and complete one circuit of the city. Do this six days, with seven priests carrying seven ram’s horns preceding the Ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. And when a long blast is sounded on the horn – as soon as you hear that sound of the horn – all the people shall give a mighty shout. Thereupon the city wall will collapse, and the people shall advance, every man straight ahead.” (Joshua 6:2–5)
The Israelites follow these instruction and after marching around the city the designated number of times with the Ark of the Covenant carried at their head, the army of Israel – who have been ordered to remain silent until the last circuit on the last day – shout out at once on the order of Joshua, when the ram’s horns are sounded, and the walls of Jericho suddenly come crumbling down. (Joshua 6:20)
This allows for the army of Israel to rush in and capture the city. Here is what we are told about the conduct of the men under Joshua’s command, and thus ultimately under the command of the Lord of the elohim: “They exterminated everything in the city with the sword: man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and ass. …They burned down the city and everything in it. But the silver and gold and the objects of copper and iron were deposited in the treasury of the House of the Lord. Only Rahab the harlot and her father’s family were spared by Joshua… For she had hidden the messengers that Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. …The Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.” (Joshua 6:21–27) So every civilian, including innocent children, were slaughtered in a lighting war directed by the Lord himself and accomplished with his wondrous instrument, the Ark. The only persons judged worthy of survival are the family of a prostitute who treasonously collaborated in the slaughter of her fellow citizens, again, including the women and children in her city.
We are told that the conquest of the rest of Canaan by the Israelites, who turn Canaan into the land of Israel by decimating its native population, proceeds in a comparably merciless manner. One more particularly noteworthy episode in the course of this conquest takes place when the king of Jerusalem (this is Jerusalem before it becomes an Israelite city) assembles an alliance five kings, himself included, to meet Joshua’s army and halt their advance. In the face of this massive alliance Joshua remains undismayed:
Joshua addressed the Lord; he said in the presence of the Israelites: “Stand still, O sun, at Gibeon, / O moon, in the Valley of Aijalon!” / And the sun stood still / And the moon halted, / While a nation wreaked judgment on its foes / … Thus the sun halted in midheaven, and did not press on to set, for a whole day; for the Lord fought for Israel. Neither before nor since has there ever been such a day, when the Lord acted on words spoken by a man. (Joshua 10:12–14)
Once Joshua and his men capture the five kings allied against them, he has his officers place their feet on the kings’ necks as a sign of victory and then he impales the five kings on stakes throughout the evening before throwing their corpses in a cave. (Joshua 10: 24–27)
Not all of the prophetic figures in the Bible are as unquestioningly obedient as Joshua. In the books of Ezekiel and Job we see, in the first case a prophet, and in the second case his close companions, questioning the Lord’s conception of Justice, Law, and Order. In neither case does this end well for those who second guess God. Let us begin with the book of Ezekiel, where we also see some of the clearest depictions of what are now recognizable as phenomena of the Close Encounter type – namely UFOs or UAPs – as “vehicles” of the Lord.
Ezekiel is chosen by the Lord as a prophet of the tribulations that Israel will suffer on account of its defiance of the law and order that the elohim revealed through Abraham and Moses. One of the main concerns of the book of Ezekiel is to give an account of the transgressions for which the Israelites are being punished. Especially relevant in this regard are Ezekiel 6, 8, 16, and 23. These passages charge the Israelites with setting up altars to gods other than the Lord of the elohim, burning precious oils and scent-producing materials as incense in honor of these fetishes, shaping the gold granted by the Lord as war booty into phallic objects that feature on these altars and that they used as dildos, decorating these altars with fine fabrics and the images of various animals or gods in the shamanic shape of animals (like the golden calf during the exodus in the desert, which was a symbol of Hathor), building these shrines in various natural settings (mountaintops, large trees, springs, etc.), carrying out ritual sexual acts or orgies, emulating the peoples surrounding them by engaging in such pagan practices, and intermixing with these various aliens – in other words, abandoning their revealed law in favor of an eclectic cosmopolitan culture.
Throughout Ezekiel 16, the Lord uses some very sexually charged language to compare Jerusalem to a whore on account of these syncretizing practices. Of particular interest in this chapter is the idea that the Lord found the people of Israel in a state of extraordinary vulnerability, like a naked and abandoned girl child. He claims that this girl, whom He took it upon Himself to become the guardian of until she became a beautiful and self-confident woman, repaid him by playing the whore and, moreover, a “self-willed whore” who does not serve men for money but freely takes whatever lovers she wishes for her pleasure. (Ezekiel 16:30–34)
Since Ezekiel as a whole is especially concerned with the Babylonian exile community and the conquest of Israel by the Babylonians (Ezekiel 11–12), the language of this chapter can be seen to foreshadow that of the “whore of Babylon” (i.e. the goddess Ishtar) later on in the Bible. This is also the implication of the verses in Ezekiel 23 that compare the two great Israelite territories of Samaria and Jerusalem to two whores who lust after and breed with Assyrian and Chaldean governors and warriors from greater Babylonia. This cosmopolitanizing harlotry is compared to the early Egyptian influence on the Jews.
The Lord repeatedly describes these allegedly perverse “abominations” as acts of “rebellion” and he goes so far as to call the Israelites a uniquely “rebellious” people. He demands that Ezekiel prophecy to Israel the vengeance that he is going to exact on them and he reveals some of these acts of vengeance to the prophet in visions of the future. So the prophet Ezekiel is exemplary of prophecy in the sense of a warning of things to come. At Ezekiel 4–5 and 37 we see the Lord instructing Ezekiel in the use of sympathetic magic to help actualize these prophecies. These are essentially the same methods that, when used without the Lord’s authorization, are condemned as sorcery or black magic. The episode of sorcery at Ezekiel 37 is especially noteworthy since it prefigures the resurrection of the dead in Christianity. The Lord carries Ezekiel to a valley filled with dry bones and he is told to utter incantations over them that cause them to reassemble, be covered with flesh, and filled with the breath of life. The specific language of a future opening of the graves and a raising-up of the dead is first used here.
Two of Ezekiel’s prophecies are of particular note insofar as they have been especially influential on Christian expectations of a future Apocalypse. These are the prophecies concerning Gog of Magog and the Third Temple at Jerusalem. We are presented with these, respectively, at Ezekiel 38–39 and 40–45. These prophecies are supposed to concern “the distant future” (38:8) when the Israelites, after having been scattered all over the world, are reunited in the land Israel – at the center of the world – where they live with great wealth amassed in towns without walls or gates. On this “distant day” when the people of Israel are living in apparent security (14–16), there will be an invasion of Israel by a leader named Gog from an empire called Magog to the east and north of Israel – which apparently includes Persia among other unidentifiable kingdoms. (5) This is the territory at the heart of the present-day Islamic world. This massive ground invasion of Israel will result in raging fires and earthquakes as part of a battle that liters Israelite territory with corpses and incinerates the cities of Magog. Following this a Third Temple will be built in Jerusalem. Ezekiel is taken to the future and given a tour of this temple by a copper man who measures all of its proportions for him. It is in this context, from Ezekiel 40–45 that we meet with some of the best examples of the biblical idea of the “sacred and the profane” – a phrase explicitly introduced at Ezekiel 44:23. The plan of the temple and of the society that it is intended to sanctify exemplifies a notion of spaces and objects in them that are clearly demarcated as sacred and separated off, sometimes by numerous buffers, from profane areas. We even have the introduction of a sacred system of weights and measures for commerce. (Ezekiel 45) Ezekiel reveals the template for the future Kingdom of God on the earth.
Several things are particularly worthy of note with respect to the prophecies of Ezekiel. Firstly, at Ezekiel 17 the Lord asks Ezekiel to “propound a riddle and relate an allegory to the House of Israel.” This allegory in which a vine or tree and two eagles feature as symbols the significance of which the Lord himself interprets is significant insofar as it allows us to see that the author of this text is very clear on the distinction between an allegory with symbolic significance, which is set apart as such, and non-allegorical narratives characteristic of most of the prophecies in the book. This example is also relevant to the biblical literature in general. The authors of these books of the Bible were in many cases aware of what is allegorical or symbolic imagery and so we are distorting the text if we read narratives that are intended to be historical, including those setting forth a precognitive history of a future yet to come, as purely allegorical or symbolic rather than factual.
Secondly, when Ezekiel prophesies he appears to be very directly under the control of the Lord. Towards the end of Ezekiel 3 we are told that the Lord makes Ezekiel mute except at times when he is to convey a specific message on behalf of the elohim. The prophet is, quite literally, struck dumb and unable to speak in his own voice. This foreshadows the Muslim claim that Muhammad was chosen by the Lord in part because he was illiterate and untrained in the poetic arts, so he supposedly could not have composed the Quran on his own. Several passages throughout the book of Ezekiel also speak of the prophet being controlled, in body and mind, as if he were a puppet. (Ezekiel 2:1–2) He is fed a scroll featuring the “lamentations, dirges, and woes” that he is going to speak like an old computer being fed a punch card. (Ezekiel 2:9–10) Overall, the impression we are given of Ezekiel is that of a ventriloquist’s dummy.
Thirdly, and most importantly, Ezekiel is ethically appalled by some of the things that the Lord reveals that He intends to do to the Israelites. We see this very clearly at Ezekiel 9, especially 9:8–11, when, in a passage reminiscent of Abraham (unsuccessfully) negotiating with the Lord for sparing the inhabitants of Sodom, the prophet Ezekiel asks the Lord in horror how or why he could treat people the way that he intends to. The specific act of vengeance that catalyzes Ezekiel’s protest is the Lord’s command to five armed men accompanied by a sixth who is a scribe dressed in the manner of a Levite priest to go through the city and murder everyone including old men, women, and little children, who do not object to the various practices of pagan idolatry that the Israelites are engaging in:
Then He called loudly in my hearing, saying, “Approach, you men in charge of the city, each bearing his weapons of destruction!” And six men entered by way of the upper gate that faces north, each with his club in his hand; and among them was another, clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. They came forward and stopped at the bronze altar. Now the Presence of the God of Israel had moved from the cherub on which it had rested to the platform of the House. He called to the man clothed in linen with the writing case at his waist; and the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who moan and groan because of all the abominations that are committed in it. To the others He said in my hearing, “Follow him through the city and strike; show no pity or compassion. Kill off graybeard, youth and maiden, women and children; but do not touch any person who bears the mark. Begin here at My Sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the House. And He said to them, “Defile the House and fill the courts with the slain. Then go out killing. I remained alone, I flung myself on my face and cried out, “Ah, Lord God! Are you going to annihilate all that is left of Israel, pouring out Your fury upon Jerusalem?” He answered me, “The iniquity of the Houses of Judah and Israel is very very great, the land is full of crime and the city is full of corruption. For they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.’ I, in turn, will show no pity or compassion; I will give them their deserts.” And then the man clothed in linen with the writing case at his waist brought back word, saying, “I have done as You commanded me.”
Before Ezekiel registers this complaint we have already been told that the Lord plans to annihilate his ‘chosen’ people by letting loose pestilence or diseases upon them, subjecting them to a famine on account of which they will turn to cannibalism, and setting numerous foreign armies against them to slay them by the sword and drive them into exile in disparate lands; the Lord seems very proud of the fact that he will do all this in wrathful passion and without showing the least bit of compassion for anyone:
Thus said the Lord God: “I set this Jerusalem in the midst of nations, with countries round about her. But she rebelled against My rules and My laws… On account of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have never done… Assuredly, parents shall eat their children in your midst, and children shall eat their parents. I will execute judgments against you, and I will scatter all your survivors in every direction. Assuredly, as I live – said the Lord God – because you defiled My Sanctuary with all your detestable things and all your abominations, I in turn will shear you away and show no pity. I in turn will show no compassion: One third of you shall die of pestilence or perish in your midst by famine, one-third shall fall by the sword around you, and I will scatter one-third in every direction and will unsheathe the sword after them. I will vent all My anger and satisfy My fury upon them; and when I vent all My fury upon them, they shall know that I the Lord have spoken in my passion. I will make you a ruin and a mockery among the nations roundabout you, in the sight of every passerby. And when I execute judgment upon you in anger and rage and furious chastisement, you shall be a mockery and a derision, a warning and a horror, to the nations roundabout you: I the Lord have spoken.” (Ezekiel 5:5–15)
One way that the Lord intends to spread disease seems to be by making the Israelites eat unclean bread that they have to bake on their own excrement, so that he is in effect telling them to “eat shit and die.” (Ezekiel 4:12–13) Another, obviously, would be children eating their parents and vice versa.
Ezekiel has numerous distinct encounters with Unidentified Flying Objects and the beings associated with them and he describes these on at least ten occasions in his book, often referring back to the first encounter at the Chebar Canal in Babylonia to assert that the phenomena witnessed are the very same as those experienced there. These ten instances are Ezekiel 1:4–28; 3:12–15, 22–27; 8:2–4; 9:3; 10:1–21; 11:22–25; 37:27; 40:2–4; 43:1–7; 44:1–4. By setting these complex and often confusing descriptions side by side we can form a somewhat adequate phenomenological description of the objects and beings in question. It would be helpful to analyze the account of the sights, sounds, and sensations that Ezekiel experienced in terms of the visual appearance of the objects and associated beings, their situation in terms of surrounding environment and their effect on their environs, and their capabilities to interact with persons. There seem to be three or four types of objects described, although a couple of these might be the same object or objects viewed from different vantage points or under varied conditions.
The first is a fiery “whirlwind” with a glowing amber light within it. This is a flying object that makes a roaring or whooshing sound. It may also cause the earth to tremble. This whirlwind can abduct a person and carry him up and away against his will, depositing him elsewhere – for example, on a mountaintop or a different city – in a state of shock and disorientation. The second object is a “wheelwork” consisting of four freestanding wheels that can revolving in any direction, each of which is cut through by another such wheel. In other words, each of the four wheels described consists of two rings, one set within the other, each revolving in any direction – so that the two rings revolving together often appear as if they are cutting through each other. This sounds something like a gyroscope. The wheels are described as made of a material similar to beryl – a crystalline material. They have markings that look like eyes inscribed all around them. These wheels are flying objects that can move in any one of the four cardinal directions at any point in their flight. This means that they can alter direction instantaneously – without veering or swerving, like contemporary UFOs. Although there does not appear to be any material connection between the four wheels they seem organizationally associated into a “wheelwork” consisting of all of them, and it is possible for a man to step within this wheelwork.
Each of these wheels is associated with a being of humanoid form, except that they have four faces (that of a human, a lion, a bull, and an eagle) each facing in one of the four directions, and they have two pairs of wings, one pair extending outward to touch the wingtips of the other “cherubs” and two wings that cover their arms and hands when these are not extending toward someone or something. When their wings move, for example during ascent into the sky, loud sounds like the “din and clattering” of an army are heard. This sound is described as the voice of the Almighty, when he speaks.
These beings handle objects like hot coals inside the wheelwork, and flashes of lighting and fire flare up around them. Note that these winged beings, which are identified as “cherubim”, are the same beings that the Lord appoints to guard the garden of the elohim at Eden, with similar rotating fiery swords or thunderbolts. At one point, one of them gives some of the glowing coal-like things to a man. Whenever these beings move, the wheels adjacent to them move as well, and vice versa; we are told that this is because the “spirit” of the beings is in the wheels.
Another object closely associated with these wheels is a platform that appears somewhat like sapphire. Above the platform is a fiery being whose upper parts are human in shape but whose lower extremities fade into fire. In the upper part of the being, the fire seems contained in a man-shaped glassy form or perhaps the fiery-appearing man is inside a glassy dome. There is a great deal of rainbow-colored light radiating around this being. One final type of object described seems to be the very same pillar of cloud from the Exodus. This is also a flying or hovering object that, at one point, comes to rest within the court of the Temple at Jerusalem and, when it does so, it illuminates the entire area – just as the pillar of cloud did when it became a pillar of fire by night guiding the Israelites through the Sinai desert by its light. The voice of the Lord is said to emanate from within this cloud. It is also associated with its own type of being, a man who looks like he is made of copper and who guides Ezekiel around the Third Temple precisely taking all of its measurements and teaching him its blueprint. I cannot help but to think of this metal man as a robot or android, especially since his sole task is precise measurement.
The phrase “the Presence of the Lord” is used with reference to one or more of these objects, and in one instance we have a description of the roaring sound and rumble as this “Presence of the Lord” lifts off from where it is standing and takes to the sky. (Ezekiel 3:12) At Ezekiel 37:27 the translators of the Jewish Publication Society’s scholarly edition of the Bible have clarified that this word “Presence” literally means: “dwelling place” – i.e. the Lord of the elohim is inside the object referred to and seems to be using it to travel from place to place and interact with the prophet and others. It is clear from numerous passages that this Presence, within which the Lord is located, moves from one distinct place to another:
“But when the Presence of the Lord moved from the cherubs to the platform of the House, the House was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the radiance of the Presence of the Lord. The sound of the cherub’s wings could be heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of the Almighty when he speaks… Then the Presence of the Lord left the platform of the House and stopped above the cherubs. And I saw the cherubs lift their wings and rise from the earth, with the wheels beside them as they departed; and they stopped at the entrance of the eastern gate of the House of the Lord, with the Presence of the God of Israel above them. They were the same creatures that I had seen below the God of Israel at the Chebar Canal; so now I knew they were cherubs.” (Ezekiel 10:4-5, 18–20)
“Then the cherubs, with the wheels beside them, lifted their wings, while the Presence of the God of Israel rested above them. The Presence of the Lord ascended from the midst of the city and stood on the hill east of the city.” (Ezekiel 11:22–23)
“Then he led me to a gate, the gate that faced east. And there, coming from the east with a roar like the roar of mighty waters, was the Presence of the God of Israel, and the earth was lit up by His Presence. The vision was like the vision I had seen… by the Chebar Canal. Forthwith, I fell on my face. The Presence of the Lord entered the Temple by the gate that faced eastward.” (Ezekiel 43:1–4)
“Then he led me back to the outer gate of the Sanctuary that faced eastward; it was shut. And the Lord said to me: This gate is to be kept shut and is not to be opened! No one shall enter by it because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.” (Ezekiel 44:1–2)
Passages such as these explicitly state that the Lord of Israel is a finite being that occupies one or another definite space at any given time. Moreover, setting them in the context of the other passages cited above, we see that He does so by means of a conveyance that gives off light when it flies and produces loud sound and vibrations when it is lifting off or landing.
Our last character study of the Lord God who sends Jesus into the world as his son and Messiah is from the Book of Job, where Satan makes a very provocative appearance. Job is a very wealthy man who is also exceedingly virtuous, indeed we are told that the “man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) He is “blessed” with vast landholdings, abundant livestock, and thriving children, so much so that he “was wealthier than anyone in the East.” (Job 1:2–3) Job is, however, perpetually concerned for the righteousness of his children and on this account, as well as in a sign of gratitude for all he has, Job often offers up sacrifices and prayers to the Lord. (Job 1:4–5) The book of Job begins with the elohim or the gods assembling before their Lord together with a figure referred to as ha-shaytan or Satan, which in Hebrew means “the Adversary.” (Job 1:6–8)
The Lord is proud to have such a devoted servant as Job and is bragging about this to the other gods. Satan replies that Job is only so faithful because God has secured such a comfortable life for him and his family. If his prosperity were to be taken away, argued the Adversary, even Job would curse the Lord. So as to test Satan’s claim, the Lord authorizes him to destroy all of Job’s property and to stop short only of laying a hand on his person. (Job 1:9–12)
We are then told that military raids and seemingly natural catastrophes are conjured up to divest Job of all of his property. The most important point here is that this destruction of property, which the Lord has authorized, includes not only the theft of livestock and the destruction of buildings, but also the murder of Job’s sons and daughters – including the slaughter of some “boys” who were tending his sheep. (Job 1:13–19) In other words, these people are viewed as his property rather than as persons in their own right. Their death is “collateral damage” in this test of the unconditional quality of Job’s faith.
Despite this sudden stroke of terrible misfortune, the now impoverished Job refuses to curse God since he sees everything he had as having been granted by the Lord and therefore being Lord’s to take away as He pleases: “Then Job arose, tore his robe, cut off his hair, and threw himself on the ground and worshipped. He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20–21)
At this point, the Adversary among the elohim ups the ante on the Lord by claiming that a man can tolerate the loss of property but if a hand is laid on his own person he will surely blasphemy on account of what he is forced to suffer for no apparent misdeed. Answering this challenge, the Lord gives Satan permission to severely afflict Job’s body and deprive him of his health. (Job 2:1–8) Job finds himself covered by foul-smelling boils from head to toe and he sits around in terrible pain covered in ashes and scrapping his skin with potshards; even his servants won’t go near him and his wife asks him why he doesn’t just curse God and put himself out of his misery. (Job 2; 19:15–18) Nevertheless, he replies to her: “You talk as any shameless woman might talk! Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil?” (Job 2:10)
At this point Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar three of Job’s friends arrive together with a younger man named Elihu. They can barely recognize their friend in this poor wretch. For the first seven days and nights of their visit they sit with Job silently, in respect for the evidently unspeakable misery that he is suffering. (Job 2:11– 13) Finally, Job cries out cursing the day he was born, and he begins to question God as to why he has been made to suffer so terribly despite his extraordinary righteousness as compared, for example, to people who seem to thrive even though they are wicked. Yet, this does not amount to cursing God. Rather, Job’s lamentations underline the unquestionable authority of the Lord. These verses often involve the imagery of finding oneself in an unwinnable legal trial against God and the impossibility of questioning the Almighty’s sense of justice:
“Indeed I know that it is so: / Man cannot win a suit against God. / If he insisted on a trial with Him, / He would not answer one charge in a thousand. / Wise of heart and mighty in power – / Who ever challenged Him and came out whole? – / …Who performs great deeds which cannot be fathomed, / And wondrous things without number. / He passes me by – I do not see Him; / He goes by me, but I do not perceive Him. / He snatches away – who can stop Him? / Who can say to Him, “What are You doing?” / God does not restrain His anger; / Under Him Rahab’s helper’s sink down. / How then can I answer Him, / Or choose my arguments against Him? / Though I were in the right, I could not speak out, / But I would plead for mercy with my judge. / If I summoned Him and He responded, / I do not believe He would lend me His ear. / For He crushes me for a hair; / He wounds me much for no cause. / He does not let me catch my breath, / But sates me with bitterness. / If a trial of strength – He is the strong one; / If a trial in court –”who will summon Him for me? / Though I were innocent, / My mouth would condemn me; / Though I were blameless, He would prove me crooked. / I am blameless – I am distraught; / I am sick of life. / It is all one; therefore I say, / “He destroys the blameless and the guilty.” / When suddenly a scourge brings death, / He mocks as the innocent fail. / The earth is handed over to the wicked one; / He covers the eyes of its judges. / If it is not He, then who? (Job 9:1–24)
The hopelessness of arguing with the Lord is emphasized in a number of lines wherein Job conceives of Him as the Almighty in a much more literal sense than we see in the earliest layers of the Tanakh. God is viewed not only as powerful enough to have command of all natural phenomena, but also as the one who bestows any wisdom that we can hope to have – a wisdom, moreover, that is so limited as to never afford us sufficient knowledge to judge God. Passages such as these verge on a denial of free will, especially when they are taken together with ones that explicitly state that the will of the Lord is the cause of both the righteous acts of men and the wicked ones on account of which they are, nonetheless, punished:
…But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; / The birds of the sky, they will tell you, / Or speak to the earth, it will teach you; / The fish of the sea, they will inform you. / Who among all these does not know / That the hand of the Lord has done this? / In His hand is every living soul / And the breath of all mankind… Whatever He tears down cannot be rebuilt; / Whomever He imprisons cannot be set free. / When He holds back the waters, they dry up; / When He lets them loose, they tear up the land. / With Him are strength and resourcefulness; / Erring and causing to err are from Him. …God hands me over to an evil man, / Thrusts me into the clutches of the wicked… Darkness covers my eyes / For no injustice on my part / And for the purity of my prayer!” …Yet know that God has wronged me; / He has thrown up siege works around me. / I cry, “Violence!” but am not answered; / I shout, but can get no justice.” (Job 12:7–16; 16:11,17; 19:6–7)
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all speak against their friend Job for what they take to be blasphemy on his part. The common denominator in the various speeches that they deliver is that God cannot punish someone in the manner that Job has been afflicted without that person having sinned in some way. God rewards the just and punishes the unjust. Period. This means that, despite his claim to be “blameless”, Job must have committed sins sufficient to account for his afflictions, although the men are at a loss to identify what these sins could possibly have been in the life of such an evidently righteous man.
Elihu, the younger man accompanying these three older friends of Job, has deferred to them on account of their seniority but once they are finished with their speeches he expresses his frustration over their inadequate responses to Job’s lament, prefacing this with the claim that age is not necessarily a measure of understanding. (Job 32) Elihu’s response seems to epitomize what is soon revealed more explicitly as the moral of the story – might makes right, god works in mysterious ways, and the humanly unforeseeable end will justify the divine means:
Therefore, men of understanding, listen to me; / Wickedness be far from God, / Wrongdoing, from the Almighty! / For he pays a man according to his actions, / And provides for him according to his conduct; / For God surely does not act wickedly; / The Almighty does not pervert justice. / Who placed the earth in His charge? / Who ordered the entire world? / If He but intends it, / He can call back His spirit and breath; / All flesh would at once expire, / And mankind return to dust. / If you would understand, listen to this; / Give ear to what I say. / Would one who hates justice govern? / Would you condemn the Just Mighty One?” …Do you think it just / To say, “I am right against God”? …Surely it is false that God does not listen, / That the Almighty does not take note of it. / Though you say, “You do not take note of it,” / The case is before Him; / So wait for Him. / But since now it does not seem so, / He vents his anger; / He does not realize that it may be long drawn out. / Hence Job mouths empty words, / And piles up words without knowledge. / …See, God is beyond reach in His power; / Who governs like Him? / Who ever reproached Him for His conduct? / Who ever said, “You have done wrong?” / Remember, then, to magnify His work, / Of which men have sung, / Which all men have beheld, / Men have seen, from a distance. / See, God is greater than we can know… / He keeps turning events by His stratagems, / That they might accomplish all that He commands them / Throughout the inhabited earth, / Causing each of them to happen to His land, / Whether as a scourge or as a blessing. / … Inform us, then, what we may say to Him; / We cannot argue because [we are in] darkness. / Is anything conveyed to Him when I speak? / Can a man say anything when he is confused? / …The splendor about God is awesome. / The Almighty – we cannot attain to Him; / He is great in power and justice / And abundant in righteousness; He does not torment. / Therefore, men are in awe of Him / Whom none of the wise can perceive. (Job 34–37)
This moral of the story is confirmed when the Lord finally appears to Job in person amidst a whirlwind. God essentially asserts that his almighty power is sufficient justification for whatever he does with it: He compares his power over the “Leviathan” to the helpless terror of man and even of other gods in the face of this “behemoth” – a hulking, grass-eating creature that is a swamp-dweller and also seems capable of plunging into the depths of the sea, which some have speculated is a primordial sea monster (like the Plesiosaur) that is responsible for cryptozoological sightings at places such as Loch Ness or Lake Champlain:
Then the Lord replied to Job out of the tempest and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel, / Speaking without knowledge? …Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations… Have you ever commanded the day to break… Have you penetrated to the sources of the sea, / Or walked in the recesses of the deep? / Have the gates of death been disclosed to you? / Have you seen the gates of deep darkness? / Have you surveyed the expanses of the earth? … Can you tie cords to Pleiades / Or undo the reigns of Orion? / Can you send up an order to the clouds / For an abundance of water to cover you? Can you dispatch the lightning on a mission / And have it answer you, “I am ready”? / Who put wisdom in the hidden parts? / Who gave understanding to the mind? / Who is wise enough to give an account of the heavens? … Shall one who should be disciplined complain against the Almighty? …Would you impugn My Justice? / Would you condemn Me that you may be right? / Have you an arm like God’s? / Can you thunder with a voice like His? / Deck yourself now with grandeur and eminence; / Clothe yourself in glory and majesty. / Scatter wide your raging anger; / See every proud man and bring him low. / See every proud man and humble him, / And bring them down where they stand. / Bury them all in the earth; / Hide their faces in obscurity. / Then even I would praise you / For the triumph your right hand won you. / Take now behemoth, whom I made as I did you… He is the first of God’s works; / Only his Maker can draw the sword against him… Can you draw out Leviathan by a fishhook? …Can you fill his skin with darts / Or his head with fish-spears? / Lay a hand on him, / And you will never think of battle again. / See, any hope of capturing him must be disappointed; / One is prostrated by the very sight of him. / There is no one so fierce as to rouse him; / Who then can stand up to Me? …His protective scales are his pride, / Locked with a binding seal. / One scale touches the other; / Not even a breath can enter between them. / Each clings to each; / They are interlocked so they cannot be parted. / His sneezings flash lightning, / And his eyes are like the glimmerings of dawn. / Firebrands stream from his mouth; / Fiery sparks escape. / Out of his nostrils comes smoke / As from a steaming, boiling cauldron. …Divine beings are in dread as he rears up; / As he crashes down, they cringe… His underpart is jagged shards; It spreads a threshing-sledge on the mud. / He makes the depths seethe like a cauldron; / He makes the sea [boil] like an ointment-pot. / His wake is a luminous path; / He makes the deep seem white-haired. / There is no one on land who can dominate him, / Made as he is without fear. / He sees all that is haughty; / He is king over all proud beasts.” (Job 38, 40–41)
Job accepts this argument that God’s might makes him Right and that a measly little mortal such as himself ought not to have questioned the Lord:
“See, I am of small worth; what can I answer You? …I know that You can do everything, / That nothing you propose is impossible for You. / Who is this who obscures counsel without knowledge? / Indeed, I spoke without understanding / Of things beyond me, which I did not know. / Hear now, and I will speak; / I will ask, and You will inform me. / I had heard You with my ears, / But now I see You with my eyes; / Therefore, I recant and relent, / Being but dust and ashes.” (Job 40:4, 42:2–6)
We are told that the Lord restores Job’s fortune and gives him even more than he had at first, although there is no explanation given for how it could possibly have been just to murder the little children that are viewed as part of his property that is slated for destruction. (Job 42:9–16) They are certainly not “restored.” Meanwhile, God chastises the three men who claimed – against Job – that the Lord had to always be just and that Job must be being punished for some sin he committed. He demands that they atone for this blasphemy. (Job 42:7–8) Their crime is having presumed that God has to abide by any standard of Justice beyond himself; again, this emphasizes that the Lord’s supposedly almighty Power is its own justification. In the end Job’s lamentations reaffirm his righteousness by recognizing this.
- COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
As was clearly demonstrated in the first section, there are many passages in the Gospels where Jesus unequivocally endorses the Jewish Bible, including its “Law”, and where he is identified as the culmination or fulfillment of the Abrahamic prophetic line. There are, however, numerous passages in the Gospels that blatantly contradict the Torah. In other words, passages in which Jesus quite simply contradicts himself. Furthermore, these passages involve statements so extreme that they target the pillars of every civilized society: criminal justice, private property, and even the family. It is astounding that conservatives can embrace the Bible, and in Jesus in particular, despite these unambiguous statements. Not only are the statements unambiguous, they are also unequivocal in their demand for “perfect” adherence. Every one of the passages to follow in this section should be prefaced by these sayings of Jesus:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
“But as many as received him [Jesus], to them gave he power to become the children of God… Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12–13)
“For whosoever shall do the will of God; the same is my brother, my sister, and my mother.” (Mark 3:35)
The famous passages on non-violence from the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ begin, in Matthew’s version, begin with the words: “Ye have heard that it hath been said: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you…” (Matthew 5:38-45) The teaching that is presented in the following verses is radically at odds with the Torah’s general conception of Justice.
“And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other…” (Luke 6:29) Abiding by this injunction requires only physical non-violence. One can still hate a transgressor or even wish the person dead, but one does not physically retaliate against them.
“…[F]orgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) To ‘forgive’ goes beyond a refusal of physical retaliation for perceived abuse at the hands of another, but it still entails judging the other, and their acts against oneself, to be wrong or misguided in the first place. Something that is not a transgression cannot be ‘forgiven’.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) In the injunction not to even ‘judge’ others we see that something more is meant by forgiveness in the previous citation than the relative sense in which we are accustomed to the word. The ‘forgiveness’ must be such that others are always already forgiven. One cannot even look at others or their actions with a judgmental eye, no matter how much our dear ones or we ourselves suffer at their hands.
“… [D]o good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you…” (Luke 6:27-28) Here we see that this refusal to judge those who do wrong or abuse us cannot only be passive but must be active. Since in general we are meant to help people in the world, we must help those who hurt us just as readily as everyone else. Furthermore, to “Love your enemies…” (Luke 6:27) means that doing good through one’s words, deeds or even thinking well of our self-sworn adversaries is not enough. One must actually ‘love’ them in one’s heart. In other words, one must passionately sense oneness with them just as much as with our other ‘neighbors’ (fellows).
Finally, in the injunction to “…resist not evil…” (Matthew 5:39) we see that it is not only one’s own ‘enemies’, or individual transgressors against society, whose violence one must absorb into one’s all-embracing love, but ‘evil’ itself as a principle and force in the world. By this is meant all of the greatest atrocities: murder, rape, child rape, infanticide, genocide, mutilation, torture, and the like. The reason to do so, according to Jesus, is that God is as kind and giving to the ‘evil’ and ‘unjust’ as to the ‘good’ people of the world, and so by making God’s ‘Justice’ our own we will be rewarded by being the ‘children of God’: “…That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) “But love your enemies…and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” (Luke 6:35)
We see the code of commensurate Justice established in the Torah at work more specifically in the regulations defining property rights. In the Gospels we see Jesus completely disavow this notion of private property. He declares the pursuit of wealth to be diametrically at odds with obedience to God (Luke 16:3), and says that it is virtually impossible for the rich man to enter the ‘kingdom of God’ (Matthew 19:24). Those who wish to follow Jesus must give up absolutely everything that they ‘own’ (Luke 14:33), preferably by selling it and giving the revenue as alms to the poor (Matthew 19:21). While this injunction is directed at those who would be his ‘disciples’, in the Sermon on the Mount he preaches to masses of ordinary people: “…and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.” (Luke 6:29-30) Taken together these two statements essentially destroy the notion of ‘private property’ altogether. Everything that one ‘has’ belongs to anyone else to take when they wish and one is not to ask for it back.
Jesus preached that for the kingdom of God to come the family must be abolished. He says that his message is not one that seeks to artificially “impose” peace, but a sword that tears families apart by dividing blood relatives from each other, presumably based on which of them understand and take up its revolutionary call and which of them do not. In the same breath it is also compared to a fire, which blazes in the heart of the seeker and consumes his household in strife (Luke 12:49-53). In fact, Jesus assumes that a profound person who understands his call will necessarily have contempt for the superficial kin to which s/he was bound by no choice of he/r own or by senseless deeds done while still blind. This is a part of the general contempt for one’s ordinary life that is a prerequisite of embarking on Jesus’ dangerous path to doing God’s will alone: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
Those who leave their ignorant family members behind will find true spiritual kin among others who have paid the same price to serve God. Jesus sets the example for this himself by publicly disowning his ignorant mother Mary and his brothers, to whom Jesus is an embarrassment who they have come to condescendingly ‘take back home for his own good’. Refusing to acknowledge their presence or even know who they are, he tells his followers that they, who do God’s will are his true kin. (Mark 3:31-35) When one man wants to follow Jesus but asks to first be allowed to bury his newly deceased father, he is told to “Let the dead bury their dead” and when another man who wants to follow Jesus asks to first take leave to say farewell to his family back at home, he is told that he does not have the necessary commitment to be a follower because he did not leave them behind then and there without a second thought. (Luke 9:58-62) These acts surely constitute insults to one’s mother, father and siblings, of the highest degree possible – transgressions that carried the death penalty in Jewish law.
Anyone who insists that there must be some way to reconcile these statements of Jesus with those quoted in the first section, or to square them with decent conduct in a civilized society in general, is suffering from cognitive dissonance. This is a psychological state of acute discomfort caused by the attempt to hold contradictory ideas, beliefs, or values to be true at the same time. The extreme stress of this state, predominately on a subconscious level, is usually relieved in one of three ways – which are not mutually exclusive.
One response is an attempt at rationalization that adds new elements of belief that one pretends were part of the original, contradictory information in the hope that these artifices will smooth over blatant contradictions or make them appear to be aspects or facets of a larger and more complex phenomenon. The second response is when, without necessarily adding any new elements, a cognitively dissonant person tries to blind himself or herself to the most glaring contradictions between their tacitly held beliefs, ignoring those features of their dogma or internalized data that clash most sharply with one another and instead emphasizing platitudes with the least degree of dissonance. Third, and finally, a person suffering from cognitive dissonance will abandon attempts at rationalization, or at selective blindness, and instead irrationally commit to blindly in believing patently contradictory statements, ideas, or values “on faith.” In fact, deliberately induced cognitive dissonance is a technique used to destroy a person’s rational faculties by forcing that person into just such a position where the stress of psychological dissonance and failed rationalizations can only be resolved by commitment to “blind faith.”
In the history of Christianity – whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant – the latter response to the cognitive dissonance of the Gospels has generally prevailed, although the Catholic Church in particular has resorted to taking Plato and Aristotle hostage in order to engage in some level of rationalization along the lines of the first of these three responses to cognitive dissonance. However, there was one type of Christianity that categorically rejected “blind faith” in favor of a very bold attempt at the elimination of dissonance by means of rationalization. This was the approach of the Gnostics.
Contrary to what Storey claims in his ‘review’ of Prometheism, it is not an approach that I endorse. Rather, the Gnostic interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is as pathological as the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant versions of Christianity. The only thing that can be said for it is that since it is much more honest, Gnostic Christianity nakedly exposes the lengths to which one must go in order to render the Gospel of Jesus remotely coherent. The symptomology of the disease that is Christianity can be seen more clearly in Gnosticism than in other sects, and this is probably why the Gnostics had to be eliminated by their fellow Christians – who wanted to hide their sickness from the gentlemen of the Classical world who they aimed to convert.
I said that I do not endorse the Gnostic standpoint. Let me qualify that statement. There is one fundamental insight of Gnosticism that I do find tremendously useful. In order to definitively resolve the cognitive dissonance caused by attempting to parse the blatantly contradictory statements attributed to Jesus Christ, the Gnostics simply identified the God of the Old Testament, namely Yahweh or Jehovah as the Demiurge and chief of a group of evil archons who help this deluded and sadistic Lord manipulatively tyrannize over humanity. In other words, they flat out rejected the many things that Jesus said, and that the editors of the canonical Gospels wrote, that unequivocally identify him as an Abrahamic messiah who is here to fulfill the Torah. Since there would be hardly anything left in the Gospels once one edit all of this out of one’s conception of Jesus, the Gnostics had to write alternate Gospels – and they wrote tens of them, all of which were rejected by the Council of Nicea. One of the four accepted Gospels, John, does overlap considerably with some of these Gnostic Gospels, especially Thomas, and there is one passage of John in particular that the Gnostics seized upon to make their case that the God of the Jews is the Devil. At one point, addressing a group of Jews who disbelieve in his Gospel, Jesus says:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” (John 8:44–45)
There is, to my mind, great value in this Gnostic viewpoint – whether or not it was authentically held by any historical figure named Jesus. If what this expresses is an internal Jewish critique of the monstrous inhumanity and despicable servility of Judaism as we find it exemplified by Old Testament prophets from Abraham through Job (and especially in the murderous cult leader, Moses), then such a recognition (or confession) is very useful indeed. That is, however, as far as I go in being a fellow traveler with any Gnostics.
The Gnostic rationalization that aims to resolve the cognitive dissonance of anyone who grapples with the incoherent Gospel of Jesus Christ includes several other fundamental features that I not only reject, but that my philosophical writings have explicitly targeted, critiqued, and deconstructed. These include: (1) a metaphysical dualism according to which the material world is a fallen realm distinct from a spiritual plane, or pleroma, where perfection and eternal life are possible; (2) that all political power is archontic in nature and that socio-political struggle to bring about revolutionary change in this world will inevitably turn one into a tool of the archons; (3) these archons, and those who refuse to be saved from being their servants, are as irredeemably Evil as the demiurge, since there is a fundamental dualistic moral opposition at work in the world. Even the most monistic of the diverse Gnostic sects, the Valentinians, tended to hold these three positions, although they attempted to resolve these metaphysical and ethical dualisms with a view to an eventual reintegration of fallen or alienated aspects of existence back into the Godhead in line with the apocalyptic eschatology that they, together with Christianity in general, adopted from Zoroastrianism.
According to the Gnostics, the radical pacifism and voluntary poverty preached by Jesus in the Gospels follows from a recognition that Nature is a prison and this world is a fallen existence to be altogether transcended. This earthly world belongs to those who rule by force, the evil archons of a deceptive demiurge. It is beyond saving and to fight archons on their own terms is to remain ensnared by them. Power and property belong to the fallen life of the flesh, and the spirit exiled in this world must transcend them on its way back home.
One of the passages where this is most clear is from the Gospel of John 3:5: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” This calls to mind saying 112 from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas: “Jesus said, ‘Damn the flesh that depends on the soul. Damn the soul that depends on the flesh.” The spirit of saying 87 from Thomas seems similar: “How miserable is the body that depends on a body, and how miserable is the soul that depends on these two.” There are numerous passages on the duality of Spirit and Flesh that canonical gospels, such as John, share in common with Gnostic texts such as the Gospel of Thomas. As in a Gnostic scripture titled The Revelation of Adam, these passages suggest that we are strangers or exiles in this material world. We did not come from here and our goal is to return to where it is that we came from.
This view of the truly spiritual person as an alien in this world can be seen at John 17:16 in the canonical gospels: “For they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” It is also a view found in several passages of the Gospel of Thomas. In saying 49 Jesus says: “Congratulations to those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again.” In saying 75, Jesus says: “There are many standing at the door, but those who are alone will enter the bridal suite.” In saying 80, Jesus says: “Whoever has come to know the world has discovered the body, and whoever has discovered the body, of that one the world is not worthy.” This is a repetition, with slight variation, of saying 56 wherein Jesus says: “Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy.” Saying 86 from the Gospel of Thomas, which is paralleled by Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 in the canonical gospels, depicts the truly human being as homeless in this material world in a way that animals are not: “Foxes have their dens and birds have their nests, but human beings have no place to lay down and rest.”
This Jesus is that embraced by the Gnostics who believed that the Jewish creator god is the Devil and arch-deceiver. He is here to abolish organized religion and free the spirits of the elect from the material world of pain and power. These Gnostics were for a time dominant in the cosmopolitan capital of the Greco-Roman world, the city of Alexandria. Their scriptures were consigned to flames after the Council of Nicea and only rediscovered in a cave in Nag Hammadi Egypt in 1945. Some of them, such as the Gospel of Thomas, are as old or older than the gospels of the New Testament. Despite this initial attempt at suppression, the anti-Jewish Gnostic Jesus was also worshipped by the Bogomils of Southeastern Europe and the Cathars of southern France – so that the Catholic Church first invented the institution of the Holy Inquisition in order to exterminate them and only later applied it to Jews, Muslims, and Protestants.
By the Middle Ages some of the Gnostics equated their Christ or Messenger of Light with Lucifer, whom they in turn distinguished from Satan, which is a polemical term that simply means “the adversary.” These were the Cathars whose culture was centered at Occitan in what is now the Mediterranean coast of France. Recently, they have been popularized as the protectors of the Holy Grail. The Grail – which will be discussed at greater length in the next section – was a pagan symbol that was adopted by Christianity, like so much of the rest of its symbolism. Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival and Richard Wagner’s adaptation of it inspired Otto Rahn’s researches, which culminated in his first book, Crusade Against the Grail. According to Rahn, the Grail was in the possession of the Cathars of Montségur, whose eradication was the principal motivation for the Catholic Church’s establishment of the Holy Inquisition.
Cathar is a word of Greek origin, meaning “pure.” The Cathars were Gnostic Dualists who thought that the material world had to be transcended altogether and that Jesus was not a corporeal being, but an emissary of the Light, who had come to teach the elect how to purify themselves and attain his state of being. He most certainly was not a Jew, since the God of the Jews is the demiurge who created the material world in order, together with his archons, to blind and imprison the souls of the elect. For example the Cathar saint, Esclarmonde, which Otto Rahn takes to have been “one of the noblest women of the Middle Ages” believed that Jehovah was actually Satan himself.
The Cathars were the perfect underdogs. They fought against the Judeo-Christian perversion of Christ’s true teaching knowing that it was a futile battle, at least in this world, one that could only end in martyrdom. Ritual suicide was prominent among them, as a more noble death than falling into the impure hands of the enemy. According to Otto Rahn, the Cathars were Luciferians. Rahn argued that certain Cathars escaped the destruction of Montségur with the Grail – which came into the hands of the Templars, who then used it to finance and build so many of the great cathedrals of Europe in only a hundred years (1170–1270 CE). This Templar tradition was bolstered by Fulcanelli in his 1925 Le Mystère des Cathédrales. Before founding the Thule Gesellschaft, Baron Sebottendorf was a member of a Germanenorden occult lodge that claimed to be an underground survival or revival of the Knights Templar.
As late as January 1938, Rahn gave a lecture based on his second book, Lucifer’s Court at the Dietrich Eckart House in Dortmund, Westphalia, which a local newspaper summarized in the following terms: “The Albigensians were exterminated. 205 leading followers of Lucifer were burnt on a huge pyre by the Dominicans in the South of France after a large-scale priestly Crusade in the name of Christian clemency. With fire and sword, the Lucifer doctrine of the Light-Bearer was persecuted along with its followers.” The Holy Inquisition and the Crusades were invented to exterminate these fellow ‘Christians’ and such torturous persecution and conversion by conquest was only later applied to Jews and Muslims.
In Lucifer’s Court, Rahn recounts the Mexican legend of how Montezuma mistook Cortez and his conquistadors for the “white god” Quetzalcoatl (also known as Kukulkan or Viracocha in the Andes) who had promised to return some day with his entourage of refugees from Tullan – the homeland of the white gods that had been subsumed by ice, i.e. Thule or Atlantis. The “feathered serpent,” or dragon, was the symbol of these gods. This is also an ancient Germanic symbol; it appears, for example, on the flag of the Saxons (in gold on a blue field) at the battle of Hastings. The Serpent, which is one of the Judeo-Christian representations of the Devil, is a sacred symbol of the Aryans.
According to Rahn, these gods had also gone to the Andes Mountains in South America, because they stood above the floodwaters unleashed by the great cataclysm that had rendered their homeland uninhabitable. Rahn heaps scorn on Cortez and his gang as emissaries of the Church, rather than of the Light-Bringer, Lucifer or the Gnostic Christ, whose return the Aztecs had been expecting. Rahn discovered other traces of the way of the stars and doctrine of the Light, for example among the Celts and the Persian mystics, and took these to also be signs of a suppressed tradition of reverence for Lucifer, the Light-Bearer. Rahn concluded that the deity of love, i.e. Venus/Mehr, and the Light-Bearer Apollo/Mithras, were the same figure as Lucifer – who is the accursed “Apollyon” that appears in the Apocalypse of John as the Antichrist ruling the world in the end times. This brings us to the relationship between Christianity and Mithraism, which was becoming the dominant religion of the entire Aryan world when the evangelists of the Gospel of Jesus appeared in the Roman Empire.
- CHRISTIANITY AND ARYAN CULTURE
Everything positive about the seemingly “Christian” contribution to the evolution of European culture – in every domain from mysticism and chivalry to art and architecture – is actually Mithraic in origin. Not only had Mithraism become dominant during the last years of the pagan Roman Empire, but many of the so-called “barbarians” who invaded the collapsing Imperium after its Christianization were not Germanic people but Iranian “Alans” (Sarmatians) or Gothic-Iranian hybrids such as the “Saxons” (who were half-Scythian).
This was a second wave of Mithraism in Europe, which brought all of the praiseworthy elements of what became Medieval European culture together with it. Had Europe not been Christianized, we would still have had “Gothic” art and architecture, Grail Mysticism, and Arthurian Chivalry – but without the destruction of the intellectual sphere of Greco-Roman Philosophy, Science, and Technology. Moreover, the establishment of Mithraism in Europe before the Islamic Conquest of Second Persian Empire (which included Northern India) in 651 BCE, could potentially have led to the unification of the entire Indo-European world under a single industrious Aryan Imperium speaking Latin, Greek, Persian, and Sanskrit.
Mithra (Old Persian Mitra, Middle Persian Mehr) means “sun,” “friendship,” and “love.” The earliest inscription referring to Mithra is in a contract between the Hatti king Shuppiluliuma and the north Mesopotamian Mitanni ruler Kurtiwaza, which dates to circa 1375 BCE. Mithra is also apparently depicted as a bull-slayer on a Mittanni royal seal around 1450 BCE. The Mitanni were from the Indic branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-Europeans and they entered Mesopotamia as a military elite before invading India (in other words, the Sanskrit language of these invading Aryans came to India from a cradle between Anatolia and the Caucasus). Mithra’s name also appears in the earliest of the Vedas (not native to India), which are dated to about 1500 BCE. In these earliest contexts he appears as the god of oaths and contracts. Oath breakers may attempt to flee, but no one can outrun his Justice, any more than a person can hide from the sun’s light. Yaldâ or the Winter Solstice was seen as the death and rebirth of Mithra, whom Mithraists would help to be reborn on the following day (originally December 25th), by staying up through the longest night (shabé yaldâ) and eating red or “solar” fruits such as watermelons and pomegranates.
Anahita is the female counterpart of Mithra, and she is invoked together with the war god on Achaemenid inscriptions. Like Mithra, she drives a chariot with four horses into battle against the daevas. This also suggests that she is an Ashura or Ahura, a titan (or titaness). The four horses of her chariot are rain, snow, hail, and wind. Anahita was “the great virginal-wanton-motherly-warrior goddess.” She is one of those goddess figures who was mysteriously conceived of both as a virgin and as a mother. Anahita was hailed as the “Mother of the Lord,” which is the source of the Virgin Mary later being called “the Mother of God.” In Lydia, the cult of Anahita was assimilated into that of the great mother goddess Cybele. The largest Mithraeum in the entire Near East, which was at Kangavar, in Western Iran, bore the following dedication to “Anahita, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of the Lord Mithras.”
The “Persian religion” of Mithraism was deliberately injected into the continental European Empire of the Romans by their Parthian rivals as a means of psychological warfare and social engineering. One of the main instruments for this was an ostensibly pirate Navy based in Cilicia. The pirates of Cilicia were no ordinary pirates. At the zenith of their power, having established particularly close relationships with the aristocracy and intellectual elite of the port cities of the Roman Empire, they controlled the entire Mediterranean. They were known for their strange mix of scientific/intellectual erudition and cut-throat enterprise. The inviolable oath of loyalty taken by Mithraists, and enforced by a merciless lord of contracts, would have been appealing to pirates, bands of thieves, or mercenary soldiers. It is also not hard to understand that a deity thought to control the stars would be revered by mariners, who are most dependent on the stars for navigation.
According to Apian, the Cilician pirates were actually a black ops or false flag Parthian Navy established by Mithradates II, who ruled from 88–66 BCE (when he was defeated by Pompey). Whenever he was in danger of shipwreck, Mithradates had no hesitation in transferring himself to the Cilician pirate fleet, who would safely sail him to his destination. In his book Piracy in the Ancient World, H.J. Ormerod claims that the Romans considered the war against Mithradates equivalent to the crackdown on Cilician piracy in the Mediterranean. Franz Cumont was one of the first scholars to note that the pirates of Cilicia played a significant role in introducing the Persian mystery religion to the Roman Empire. Cumont colorfully remarks: “Supported by its bellicose religion, this republic of adventurers dared to dispute the supremacy of the seas with the Roman colossus.” By the time they were somewhat restrained by Pompey, the pirates of Mithra had already done their work.
The “Jolly Roger” or skull and crossed-bones pirate flag is Mithraic in origin. The crossed bones represent the Greek letter chi or the X of the intersecting zodiacal circle and celestial equator, and the skull designates this earthly plane of astrologically marked time as the realm of fateful death. The mock interment rituals of the Skull and Bones fraternity can be traced back through Freemasonry all the way to the ordeals of being buried alive that the initiate into the first grade of Mithraism, the grade of the Raven, had to undergo in order to transcend this realm of death.
By the end of the Parthian period, Mithraism was the dominant religion within the Roman military and even counted a few Caesars among its initiates. Roman centurions were stationed in places other than their region of origin, and moved often, so that any one legion of them was “a sort of microcosm of the empire.” These included soldiers who were natives of countries where Mithraism was dominant, for example, Cappadocia, Pontus, Commagene, Syria, and Cilicia. Besides recruiting centurions from territories often governed by the Parthians, the Romans on occasion even recruited defeated Parthian cavalry into their own ranks. These recruits formed brotherhoods to preserve their Mithraic religion, and owing to the humanistic character of Mithraism, these brotherhoods were open to their fellow Roman soldiers, men who no doubt found the mysteries of the Orient alluring – especially when the god in question was believed to secure martial victory. When these converts were transferred, they themselves recruited others to the faith in a realm of Roman military power extending from the Black Sea to the Scottish highlands and the Sahara desert. Aside from the Cilician pirates, there were Mithraic initiates in the Roman Navy itself and these spread Mithraism across Europe through the river systems that ran through Rome’s continental empire. No less than 420 Mithraea have been unearthed, from the Middle East to northern England.
Throughout the Roman Empire, Mithra was unequivocally referred to as “the Persian god” and Romans, often suspiciously, saw Mithraism as “the Persian cult.” Firmicus Maternus, writing circa 350 CE, sees Mithraism as a Persian fifth column, and he also makes interesting observations about the Gorgonic goddess figure in Mithraism:
The Persians and all the Magi who dwell in the confines of the Persian land give their preference to fire and think it ought to be ranked above all the other elements. So they divide fire into potencies, relating its nature to the potency of the two sexes, and attributing the substance of fire to the image of a man and the image of a woman. The woman they represent with triform countenance, and entwine her with snaky monsters. …The male they worship is a cattle rustler, and his cult they relate to the potency of fire, as his prophet handed down the lore to us, saying: mysta booklopies, syndexie patros agauou (initiate of cattle-rustling, companion by hand-clasp of an illustrious father). Him they call Mithra, and his cult they carry on in hidden caves. …Him whose crime you acknowledge you think to be a god. So you who declare it proper for the cult of the Magi to be carried on by the Persian rite in these cave temples, why do you praise only this among the Persian customs? If you think it worthy of the Roman name to serve the cults of the Persians, the laws of the Persians…
Firmicus Maternus was a devout Catholic and his book on The Error of Pagan Religions looks back on Mithraism as a diabolical invention. Caesar Julian, “the Apostate” (336 AD), was a Mithraist who attempted to disestablish Christianity and establish Mithraism as the official religion of the Roman Empire. From this it is clear that Mithraism was very close to becoming the dominant religion of the Roman Empire, rather than Christianity. Moreover, although it was never a state religion, the religious influence of Mithraism in Rome was as institutional as that of the Church as it rose to power. Like Churches today, Mithraic communities were juridical bodies capable of holding property. Private benefactors would put up the cost of digging the subterranean chambers, or would volunteer their own cellars. The similarities of Mithraism to Christianity frightened the Christian writers who became aware of them, and they resorted to claiming that the devil, who had the demonic power to attain foreknowledge of the coming of Christ, had imitated elements of what would become Christianity and introduced them into the world so as to denigrate Christ’s gospel and misguide people.
The Mithraic Communion feast was the prototype of the Christian sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, with sacred wine and circular loaves of bread marked with an equilateral cross. The equilateral cross inside of a circle (what is contemporarily known as the Celtic cross) was probably the main symbol or standard of the religion. The Mithraic Communion was a banquet held with Mithra to celebrate his imminent ascension. Mithra is the “savior and conductor of the soul,” who assists the ascension of the soul just as he does the rising sun. Sunday, or the day of the sun, was the holiest day of the week for Mithraists. Each of the seven planets was associated with a day of the week, with a particular metal, a degree of initiation, and a certain potency. The planet of the day of the week was invoked in front of its effigy in the crypt on that day.
The egalitarian spirit that later became characteristic of socialistic and progressive movements in European civilization, and which is mistakenly believed to have begun with Christianity in the late Roman period, is actually a legacy of Mithraism. Merchants were on an equal footing with upstanding citizens, who treated slaves as their equals and in this occult order even a common soldier who had attained the highest rank of initiation could be looked up to by an emperor. So-called “aristocracy” based on wealth was replaced by a spiritual aristocracy wherein all brothers pledged loyalty to one another, and a slave could even be a wealthy man’s superior depending on their respective grades of initiation. This is why the French Revolution adopted the red Mithraic hat as a “liberty cap.” This “Phrygian cap” was also the basis for the mitre (Latin mitra) worn by Christian bishops and abbots, another element of Mithraism adopted by Christianity. It survives in popular culture as the red Santa Claus hat and even as the hat of the smurfs, who not accidentally live amongst mushrooms and are engaged in a struggle against tyranny.
The evergreen tree ornamented with red and white, which became the Christmas tree, was originally a Mithraic symbol as well. The evergreen tree was a symbol of Truth in ancient Iran (especially the Sarv). It hosts the psychedelic mushroom Amanita muscaria, which is red and white. This mushroom was ingested by Mithraists, particularly admixed with wine, as crushed psychedelic mushrooms still are today in rural parts of Iran where crypto-Mithraic rites survive. The tricolor of the Iranian flag shares the green, white, and red commonly associated with the Christmas season on account of this origin. White, red, and green also stand for the three main castes in ancient Iranian society: royalty, the warrior caste, and the farming peasantry. One finds this color scheme on the flags of many nations of ethnically Iranian origin, including Tajikistan, Kurdistan, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The legacy of Mithraism in Rome is to account for its also having become the flag of Italy.
One of the major sources of Mithraic influence on the formation of Christianity must have been Paul (formerly Saul), who was from Tarsus. According to Plutarch, Mithraism entered the Roman world in Tarsus, the capital city of the province of Cilicia, from which the Cilician pirates get their name. The lion attacking the bull was an important symbol of the city of Tarsus. According to Strabo (64 BCE–21 AD), Tarsus had “surpassed Athens, Alexandria, or any other place” in terms of its educational system, and the influence that Philosophy or the sciences had on social order and political administration. Two of the chief administrators of the University of Tarsus, Athenodorus and Nestor, became political leaders of the city. It is fair to characterize it as a city-state that was ruled by a university. Stoicism was the predominant philosophical school in Tarsus, and one of the main beliefs of the Stoics is that a conflagration will engulf the world at the end of a Great Year. It should go without saying that the Stoics, for whom Heraclitus was an intellectual wellspring, adopted this idea under Persian influence in the first place. This idea can be seen reflected in numerous Gospel passages. For example:
I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled? (Luke 12:49)
Jesus said, “I have cast fire upon the world, and behold, I am guarding it until it blazes.” (Thomas 10)
Whoever is near me is near the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom. (Thomas 82)
Jesus says: “Men indeed think I have come to bring peace to the world. But they do not know that I have come to bring the world discord, fire, sword, war.” (Thomas 16)
“Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
Many Mithraic ideas besides that of an apocalyptic global conflagration were appropriated by Christianity in its formative phase. For example, the third grade of Mithraic initiation, the grade of Miles or the soldier, is the basis for the Christian rite of confirmation and the chrism of Ash Wednesday. Its symbols are the lance and the helmet, and its astrological sign is the planet Mars. The initiate, decked out in leather military attire and a breastplate, is conscripted to serve as a soldier of Mithra on the cosmic battlefield. The crown of earthly kingship and worldly power is presented to the initiate on the point of a sword in the form of a wreath. He places this on his head, but then throws it off as he proclaims “Mithra is my Crown; my Crown rests with my god.” At this point the initiate’s face is slapped and he is given a brand on the forehead by his immediate superior, a brother of the grade Leo. This brand or seal takes the form of an ashen X and represents the xvarneh or farr, the divine royal glory, flaming from the forehead of Mithra. We see on the sarcophagus of the Emperor Hostilian, Trajan’s youngest son, that he was a Mithraic initiate branded on the forehead with this X. Thereafter the soldier of Mithra (Christ) would refuse to wear a crown of any kind, including a wreath crown at banquets, phrasing his refusal to whomever wanted to bestow him with one in the following terms: “It belongs to my god.” The Christian theme of Christ resisting the temptations of the devil for ruling the kingdoms of this world, and his later statement in the course of being questioned by Pilate, namely “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), probably have this Mithraic rite as their true origin. We could add to that injunction these sayings of the same spirit from the Gospel of Thomas:
Jesus said, “Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy.” (Thomas 56)
Jesus said, “Let one who has become wealthy reign, and let one who has power renounce it.” (Thomas 81)
The other main symbol of Christianity besides the cross, and the one that was used by the earliest Christians at least as much as the cross, if not more, is also Mithraic in origin. The geometric symbol of the Vesica Pisces, stylized by early Christians as a fish, evokes at least two powerful ideas that connect it to Mithraism. First of all, Mithra is the Lord of Precession. The tauroctony image is a legacy of Mithraism at its historical origin, in the epoch of the transition between the Age of Taurus and the Age of Aries. By the first century AD, Mithraists would have needed a new symbol that would appropriately signal Mithra shifting the star globe of the body of Zorvan (the Persian version of Chronos), the Sepehr, from a spring equinox in Aries to a spring equinox in Pisces. What better symbol of the astrological age of Pisces than the fish. Secondly – and perhaps on a metaphysical level, this is even more important – the Vesica Pisces also symbolizes a mediation between two opposed spheres, in other words Mithra as the mediator between Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda) and Ahriman.
This brings us to the most radical teaching attributed to Christ, which makes little sense in a Judeo-Christian context, against the backdrop of the Jewish Bible or “Old Testament,” but makes perfectly good sense in the context of Mithraism. That is the aforementioned set of maxims that includes “Resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39) and “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27). Orthodox and Catholic Christians ensconced these sayings in the context of a Sermon on the Mount, which includes the servile and spineless injunctions to “turn the other cheek” and forgive every act of violence or injustice suffered at the hands of others. Of course, this did not stop them from carrying out brutal inquisitions and persecutory crusades. In their original Mithraic context, these maxims of not resisting evil and loving one’s enemies mean something completely different, which can only be understood with a view to what has been revealed throughout this chapter as the hidden cosmological, metaphysical, psychological, and sociopolitical content of the Mithraic mysteries. Moreover, the teaching needs to be placed in the context of other Gnostic sayings that kaleidoscopically reveal the light of the Unconquerable Sun of God, the light that continues to illumine the human mind even in the most encompassing heart of darkness.
Members of a Mithraic secret society were bound together by oaths of loyalty that demanded greater devotion to one another than to their own kin, and the soldiers – or pirates – who became initiates were often far away from their families and even from their native country. In this case, water was actually thicker than blood. Those baptized into a Mithraic way of life were born again of a different mother. This ought to be considered as the context for understanding the following words put into the mouth of “Jesus,” despite their evidently radical contradiction of Judeo-Christian “family values.” Luke 12:49–53, which is mirrored by Saying 16 in the Gospel of Thomas, reads:
Perhaps people think that I have come to impose peace upon the world. Little do they know that I have come to set the earth on fire, that I bring the sword of division, conflict, and war. For there will be five in a house that is divided, with three of them against the other two, and vice versa: The father will be divided against his son, and the son against his father, the mother against her daughter, and the daughter against her mother, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law against one another, and each of them will stand alone.
The significance of setting the earth on fire has been addressed above, so let us focus on the destruction of the family.
The same message is repeated over and over again in the Gospels. Luke 14:26 reads, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Saying 55 of the Gospel of Thomas employs an almost identical turn of phrase, “Whoever does not hate father and mother cannot be a disciple of me, and whoever does not hate brothers and sisters and bear the cross as I do, will not be worthy of me.” The cross that is being referred to here is not the one on which Jesus was crucified. This is clear both from the fact that the Christ saying this has yet to be crucified, and from the fact that Thomas is a Gnostic gospel and the Gnostics do not even believe that Jesus died on the cross. “The cross” that the Gnostic savior is referring to – rather than the formulation “his” cross, which is a corruption of this saying in the later, canonical gospels – is the one and only cross that there is to bear in this world: the crossing of the celestial equator by the ecliptic, which was the main symbol of Mithraism and was represented by the crossed bones beneath a skull. It is Time and Death.
As the Lord of Time and primordial progenitor of both the first-born Ahriman and the late-comer Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda), Zorvan (Chronos) is an androgynous deity. Restoring the shattered unity of the godhead through a Mithraic mediation between Ahrimanic and Mazdean forces also requires the devotee of Mithra to overcome the gender binary. We see this in the initiation rite for the second degree in a Mithraic secret society, the degree of the Nymph or the Veiled One, wherein the male initiate becomes a transvestite. In this connection, note Saying 22 from the Gospel of Thomas:
Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing babies are like those who enter the kingdom.” They said to him, “Then shall we enter the kingdom as babies?” Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter the kingdom.”
Mithraism has been accused of being an all-male religion, and Franz Cumot claimed that the alleged exclusion of women from Mithraic “brotherhoods” put the cult at a disadvantage in terms of its proselytizing power as compared to early Christianity. First of all, if this were true, it would only be true of the shape that Mithraism took in the more patriarchal Roman Empire, as compared to its original Iranian form – both among the Parthians and their Achaemenid predecessors, and especially among the northern Iranians. The feminine or, at the very least, androgynous aspects of Mithra “himself,” which are preserved in Roman iconography, are traces of a primordial tradition in which Mitra was a goddess figure – one and the same as the Sarmatian or “Amazon” archetype of Artemis or Satana. When this Mitra was appropriated by the somewhat more patriarchal Persians, the feminine aspect of the deity was split off and recast as the mother and companion of Mithra, namely Anahita. The cult of Anahita is as integral to the classical Iranian form of Mithraism as Mithra and Zorvan.
Furthermore, in point of fact, there is ample reason to question the claim that women were not part of Mithraic “brotherhoods” even in the Roman Empire. First of all, a burial inscription concerning a woman named Aelia Arisuth, which was found in a Roman tomb in North Africa, uses phrases to honor her that suggest she was a Mithraic initiate. In De Abstinentia, Porphyry mentions female initiates who were counterparts of male Mithraists of the lion grade. These counterparts of the “lions” (Persian shiré mardân) were called “hyenas.” This is because the hyena species is matriarchal and female hyenas have suggestively male genitalia. As Robin M. Weare observes:
It is true that the female hyena’s genitals look just like the male’s; she has a huge clitoris she can erect at will and even has a sack of fibrous tissue that looks like testicles. This has led to the notion that hyenas can change sex!
…The notion that hyenas changed sex from male to female and back again and again dates back at least to ancient Greece, although Aristotle refuted it. The idea probably comes from the fact that the genitals of the two sexes look nearly identical. In fact, Europeans often associated hyenas with sexual “perversion,” especially homosexuality. …[T]here are cultures that believe some witches can turn themselves into hyenas.
It is in the context of such beliefs that we should read the otherwise cryptic Saying 114 of The Gospel of Thomas, which is the last saying in the book, and should be placed alongside Saying 22 above. The passage begins with the misogynistic Simon Peter remarking, in reference to the presence of Mary Magdalene among the first rank and inner circle of the male disciples of Christ, “Let Mary leave us, for females are not worthy of life.” In response to this Jesus says, “Behold, I shall guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
While seeming to be patriarchal on the face of it, this passage ought to be interpreted in the context of the metaphor of sex-changing matriarchal hyenas as well as the injunction in Saying 22 for males to become female just as females become males – so that the gender binary is alchemically overcome in a superior and trans-human form of embodiment. What is meant here by Mary being guided to “become male” is a maleness defined by what is called Javânmardi or mardânegi in Persian, a quality that the Sarmatian women of the northern Iranian realm had in equal or even greater measure than their male counterparts.
Sarmatian women are the people mythologized by the ancient Greeks as “Amazons” – the clan from which the American super-heroine Wonder Woman hails. Excavations around the Black Sea, where Greek heroes were said to have encountered these warrior women, have revealed the graves of Sarmatian women buried with their armor.
The origin of the term Amazon is debated. Some think that it is a linguistic corruption of the Iranian Hame-Zan or “all women.” This, however, is debatable, since the Sarmatians were not actually a society consisting only of women. It is just that the patriarchal Greeks were so shocked by a society where women were warriors and even rulers that they mythologized the Sarmatians as a man-hating matriarchal society. Others believe “Amazon” is a Greek word meaning “without breast,” coined to describe the alleged Sarmatian practice of cutting the left breast off in order to pull back a bow more effectively. The Sarmatians, together with their Scythian cousins, were the greatest archers in history. Their goddess is also depicted as an archer.
Whether or not it is accurate, the Greek etymology is interesting insofar as Artemis, the archer, was the chief deity of the Amazons. The majority of Greek writers who refer to Anahita, the Virgin Mother of Mithra, equate her with Artemis. Roman authors also identified Anahita with Artemis/Diana. For example, Tacitus refers to her as the “Persian Diana.” The most famous surviving statue of Artemis depicts her with many breasts. These could be the severed breasts of the warrior women being offered to the goddess. Then again, these ‘breasts’ have also been interpreted as testicles, since the castration of males was practiced in the cult of Artemis. This probably terrified the Greeks into telling tall tales about what would happen to men who fell into the hands of the Amazons. The reality is that the males who underwent this ritual were trying to emasculate themselves so as to become fit receptacles for the overpowering force of the divine feminine; they also grew their hair long and wore women’s clothing as part of an effort to attain feminine intuition or psychic abilities that were known to be stronger in women than in men. It is somewhat paradoxical that although she is a virgin goddess, Artemis is also the “child’s nurse” (kourotrophos) and “nurse of children” (paidotrophos), a goddess who presides over childbirth.
Young Sarmatians would be subjected to various other initiation rituals, such as a trial of strength wherein a horseback rider would have to pull a sword up out of earth, where it had been firmly planted. Taken together with the worship of cruciform sacred swords with special names set on stone altars, this is the origin of the chivalric symbol of the “sword in the stone.”
The Amazon queen Otrera was the founder of the original Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This is where Heraclitus took refuge after the anti-Persian coup in Ephesus, instead of accepting Darius the Great’s invitation to become the court philosopher of Iran. Artemis appears to be an Iranian name meaning “Truth, the Immortal” or the “Undying Right Order,” a contraction of Artâ (i.e. Ashâ), meaning “Truth” or “Right Order” and Ameshâ or “immortal” as in the Ameshâ Spentâs. Iranians symbolized Artâ as an undying fire, and Artemis was also the torch-bearing (propolos) “crafty…infernal one” who is a light-bearer or light-bringer (selasphoros, phosphorus). She brings the light into darkness with the crescent Moon and the planet Venus, also known as “the morning star” or Lucifer. This crescent Moon and ‘star’ was her most widely recognized symbol. The hunting bow of Artemis resembles the new moon; she sometimes wore a lunar crescent as her crown, which, put through her hair, made her appear to have horns; and she was referred to as shooting arrows from her “silver bow.”
The word Satan made its way into Hebrew and Arabic but it is actually Iranian in origin. It is another name of the female deity of the Sarmatians, whose honorific title was Artâ Ameshâ (Artemis) or “Immortal Truth.” Satana is something like the greatest of the Gorgons, and is depicted entwined by serpents or with serpentine limbs. Her cult survives in Ossetia to this day. She is the guardian of a Holy Grail, the mythical cup of Shah Jamshid (jâmé jâm) by staring into whose depths one can observe anything going on in any part of the world (jâmé jahân-namâ). Satana dwells under a lake and is responsible for anointing great heroes. It is this goddess figure who travels with the Alans deep into Europe and becomes the “Lady of the Lake” of the Arthurian grail legends. The Sarmatians or Alans believed that Satana emerged, sacred sword in hand, from a realm beneath the waters – whether those of a sea or lake – a realm wherein heroes are raised before being sent as saviors into this world of ours. Like Anahita, Satana wears white garments. Satana and the Dame du Lac are the same goddess figure, and both are northern Iranian versions of Anahita.
The oldest version of the Dame du Lac of ‘Celtic’ Brittany is in fact Anahita or Artemis. Anahita was responsible for carrying out the investiture of the Achaemenid sovereigns. Like Mithra, she is depicted in reliefs bestowing the farr to a monarch bearing a broadsword. Bestowing the royal glory upon a broadsword-bearing king, such as Arthur, is also one of the main functions of the Lady of the Lake in the chivalric mysticism that was brought to Britannia by the Alans. The Dame du Lac conferring Excalibur upon King Arthur is an investiture by the bearing of a sacred broadsword, in accordance with the most archaic Iranian tradition. Anahita stands to the left of the sovereign and raises her right hand to him, just as the Dame du Lac does in some depictions of her investiture of King Arthur, such as is preserved in the artwork of Aubrey Vincent Beardsley. Âbân Yasht, the fifth Yasht of the Avesta, is devoted to Anahita, who is also known as Âbân or “the waters.” Therein the goddess is described as “a beautiful, glorious, tall and strong woman, mistress of all waters of the earth and the source of the cosmic ocean,” as well as “the sources of fertility for humans, animals, and plants, and the purifier of the seed of all men and the wombs of all women.” Similarly, the Lady of the Lake of the Arthurian legends is the guardian of a realm of “eternal spring… eternal joy… eternal youth… eternal health.”
A Sarmatian prototype has been found for almost every major theme and symbol in this tradition, from the legend of Lancelot, to the Lady of the Lake, the Sword in the Stone, serpentine and dragon symbolism, the kingly glory of the Holy Grail, and the idea of a Once and Future King (the Saoshyânt Bahrâm Varjâvand, Avenger of Mithra, in the original Iranian version). The mistaken attribution of the Arthurian mythos and Grail mysticism to the Celts is understandable considering the intimate kinship of the Celts and the Nordic Iranians, whether Scythians or Sarmatians. The Gaelic text Lebor Gabala Erenn claims that the Scots Irish are of Scythian origin. Of the bard and record keeper Fenius Farsaid, it says that his father, a man named Baath Mac Magoc Iathfed, was of “the men of Scythia” and that “from him came the Gael.”
This is particularly interesting in light of the fact that on the western side of the Caspian Sea coast in northern Iran, which was an area heavily trafficked by Scythians since the Median period, there are a group of people known as Gelacs who speak a language called Gelac. A study comparing this northern Iranian language to Gaelic might yield very interesting results. It has already been noted by linguists that despite its (mistaken) classification as a Centrum branch of the Indo-European languages, Gaelic actually has many parallels to the Scythian language, as well as some grammatical features and vocabulary that are shared with Thracian.
Both Scythian and Thracian are part of the Satem branch of Indo-European languages that were spoken in an area of southeastern Europe and the Caucasus dominated by Iranian Scythians and Sarmatians for most of antiquity. Here are just a couple of examples. The word for hen is cearc in Gaelic and kark in the Ossetian, Kurdish, and Hyrcanian (Gilaki and Mazandarani) languages that are heavily influenced by, or descended from the Scythian language. Then there is the name of Ireland itself, Erin, which comes from Eire or Aire. In both Gaelic and Old Persian this word means “freeman” or, by extension, one not enslaved to or in the service of anyone, namely a “nobleman.” In other words, Eire-an is Ir-an, the land of the free or realm of the noblemen. The Gelacs of northern Iran share a number of cultural traits in common with the Irish, including their peculiar wit and sense of humor. They also play the bagpipe or Nay-anbân, the origin of which is generally acknowledged by musicologists to be Iranian. In Pre-Islamic times they even wore clothes with plaid patterns. Not incidentally, their region of the Caspian coast is very rainy and densely forested. Moreover, Gelacs believe their local forests to be inhabited by paeris or faeries.
The wisdom goddess Satana was the mother of these Nârtik or “Nordic” people. The name Satana is a compound of the Old Iranian words Sat or “one hundred” (which is still Sad in contemporary Persian) and na or “mother”. This is meant to signify that she is “the mother of a hundred sons,” namely the Narts. The Narts had great feasting and drinking halls called Nykhas that are the same as those of the Scandinavians, which became the basis for the conception of Valhalla in “Nordic” religion. In Iranian Vâl Hâl would mean “highest enjoyment” or “loftiest state of being.” The Alans would introduce the long-hall banqueting culture to Medieval Europe. Batraz was the leader of this superhuman Nartik race. The story of the love affair between Guinevere and Lancelot is based on the romantic rapport of Satana with Batraz, who is her own son in a spiritual as well as a biological sense. The parallels to the “Arthurian” mythos that we find in the Japanese legends of the swordsman Yamato Takeru can most likely be accounted for by a common Scythian origin, since we know that the Scythians reach deep into northeastern Asia.
These prototypical Iranians of the Caucasus, who resemble Europeans in every respect, never mixed with the various non-Iranian peoples that some of the Persians interloped with, such as the Elamites and Babylonians. The Cyrus Cylinder draws a racial distinction between Iranians and those governed by them in a way that suggests that black hair was not common in the phenotype of Iranians at the time of Cyrus: “And he [Cyrus] shepherded with justice and righteousness all the black-headed people, over whom he [Marduk] had given him victory.” As exemplars of the original Iranian ethnic stock, the Scythians possessed “Caucasian features” including “tall stature,” with numerous corpses recovered from kurgans being “over six feet tall,” as well as “blondish hair, and fierce eyes” that were often blue or green. From the Roman perspective the Scythians were so Germanic in appearance, and so much more ‘Nordic’ in phenotype than the majority of Italians themselves, that it became common for Romans to refer to the Germanic Goths as simply another group of Iranians. The remains found in the graves of Goths are so similar to those found in Scythian burials that anthropologists often cannot tell them apart. It was only much later in their history, especially in the areas near China, that Scythian warlords interbred with their Asian slaves to produce Mongoloid or Turkic offspring.
The Scythians had a predominately oral culture, so their arts and crafts are key to unlocking their mentality, worldview, and way of life. These northern Iranians loved to work in gold. Their gold-crafted objects, such as hairbrushes or mead horns, are richly decorated with sculptured figures and motifs – including accurate depictions of the people themselves. Scythian gold is full of depictions of both men and women wearing shirts and trousers. As the predominant horseback riders of antiquity, these northern Iranians invented pants. Their fashion of clothing is one of the many cultural elements that they introduced into Europe. A layman untrained in art history would easily mistake most of the imagery on Scythian gold for European artwork. The people look ‘Germanic’, some of the lyrical design elements call to mind Celtic weave patterns, and animals such as griffins and reindeer have an ornate proto-Gothic flare to them that would remind a Westerner of Norse art. Except that all of the Iranian imagery in this style predates the European points of comparison.
The Persian art of the Achaemenid Empire was an imperial style that explicitly aimed at a cosmopolitan synthesis of the art of many non-Iranian (i.e. non-Aryan) peoples who became subjects of the empire, including the Elamites, Babylonians, Assyrians, and ancient Egyptians. So the purest form of ancient Iranian art is actually Scythian. Consequently, to the extent that we want to see the Iranian soul, including that of the earliest Persians, reflected in arts and crafts, we need to look to the north.
Furthermore, since the Parthians eventually branch off of the Scythians and engage in an Iranian Reconquista of the Hellenized territories of what was the Achaemenid Empire, Parthian art and architecture must also be considered a development of the Scythian style. It is a terrible mistake on the part of both art historians and Iranologists to consider Parthian sculptures or buildings “European” in style and attribute this solely to the Seleucid legacy. On the contrary, Parthian art is Scythian art elevated to a monumental scale. Parthian sculptures, in particular, are much more Scythian than they are Greek.
If they call to mind late Roman or Gothic European art, that is because beginning in late antiquity the European continent was overrun by a group of Scythians or Sarmatians called the Alans. Gothic “cathedrals” are a natural architectural evolution of Scythian and Sarmatian decorated tents, including the cross-structured plan (since the cross was the sacred symbol of Mithraism). Even the iconography in these cathedrals (such as the forward-facing enthroned Christ with a hallow-crowned head, flanked by angels) owes so much to Mithraic artistic conventions that developed in Parthian and Sassanian Iran that the Christian narrative content is essentially secondary to the aesthetic forms depicted in the stained glass and carved into the stones.
The similarities between the style of Celtic art and the older motifs found on the gold crafts products of the Scythians and Sarmatians are so striking and extensive that, given the massive penetration of northern Iranians into continental Europe, a mere parallel is out of the question. The weave patterns and lyrical depictions of chimerical animals so characteristic of Celtic art are very likely Iranian in origin. It is also noteworthy that this artistic style influenced the rise of “Gothic” art and architecture in Europe precisely in the period when the shattered Roman Empire was inundated by Alans, who represented the last wave of northern Iranians mass-migrating into Europe. The European culture of chivalry would have been inconceivable without the Scythian, Sarmatian, and Alanic influence on the Germanic “barbarians” and Vandals who, only together with these Iranians, conquered large parts of France and established Visi-Gothic and Goth-Alanic Spain. (More on Goth-Alania or “Catalonia” below.)
The Sarmatians not only mixed with the Germanic population of Europe, they also heavily intermixed with various groups of Slavs and shared broad swaths of territory with them. The Serbs (Sorbs) and Croats of the former Yugoslavia are both ethnic groups of northern Iranian origin. Croat is an Iranian word that is the origin of cravat or neck-tie, an Iranian fashion item that, together with pants, belt, jacket, and all other main elements of post-Roman ‘Western’ fashion, was brought into Europe by Iranian horseback riders. Poland is Sarmatian, not Slavic, in its ethnic foundation and the Iranian influence on heraldry and the chivalric martial tradition among the Poles remains evident.
When Marcus Aurelius defeated one invading group of Alans in the second century AD, instead of killing them he recruited them as elite guards to defend the empire against “the barbarians.” This is quite interesting, since it suggests that Marcus Aurelius, who was a philosopher as well as a Caesar, had sufficient discernment to recognize not only the extraordinary military competence of these Sarmatians, but also the fact that they ought not to be lumped in with half-savage aliens such as the Germans and Celts, who were threatening the civilized order of imperial Rome.
The Alan tribes that invaded Gaul featured horseback-riding women warriors who were both capable archers and who also wielded broadswords. Legends about these women warriors survived in Ferdowsi’s Shâhnâmeh, for example the legend of Gordafarid, whose combat with Rostam’s son, Sohrab, is famous in Greater Iran: “As she was turning in her saddle, [Gordafarid] drew a sharp blade from her waist, struck at his lance, and parted it in two.” The Sarmatians or Alans who were settled in Britain by Marcus Aurelius were settled in the area of Chester and RiBCEhester, with their 5,000 cavalry being given the task of guardian Hadrian’s Wall. They were put under the command of a Roman general by the name of Artorius Bastus, whose name, Anglicized to “Arthur,” became associated with the legendary king of the Alans.
What the Alans brought with them was the ‘Arthurian’ culture of Chivalry, which is known in Iran as Javânmardi or Farhangé Pahlavâni. The stories of Guiw and of Kay-Kavus that have survived in the Shâhnâmeh of Ferdowsi are derived from Scythian or Sarmatian legends that were the basis for the development of the legends of “Gawain” and “Kay” in Britain. Batraz had to pull a sacred broadsword out of a tree and the Sarmatians had a ritual of thrusting swords into the earth or into stones piled into a platform on the earth, and then setting up a trial of strength to pull this sword from out of where it had been lodged. Pahlavâns or Iranian chivalric knights customarily thrust their qamehs or daggers into the earth before dueling. Batraz asks his comrade Sainag-Alder to throw his sword into the ocean after his death, just as Arthur makes a similar request of Percival that the latter throw Excalibur into the lake. In both cases a goddess figure rises up out of the water to catch the magical sword.
The name “Alan,” widely adopted by Europeans, is a variant of Arân. In the phonetics of Iranian languages l and r are interchangeable (think of the way that Japanese people pronounce the word “really”). So Arâni or a “person from Arân” became Alâni. The word Arân is simply a different pronunciation of Irân, i.e. “Aryan,” one local to the Caucasus, which is where the Sarmatians originally lived. Note that white people are referred to as “Caucasians” because many scholars of Indo-European linguistics and anthropology believe the Caucasus region, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, to be the point of origin for the entire Aryan or Indo-European community. So the Sarmatians, close cousins of the Scythians, are the Aryans who remained for much longer in the cradle of the “Indo-European” community while others branched out into northern India, Western Europe, and of course, the “Iranian plateau” (which only then became “Iranian”). Their only remnant today is the nation of Ossetia. Ossetians refer to their language as Iron, in other words, “Iranian.” That it calls the metal “iron” to mind is not at all incidental; ironwork may have begun here.
The Sarmatians invented scale armor. Lance-wielding knights in shining armor are Iranian in origin and only became a feature of European cultures much later, through direct Sarmatian or Alanic influence. Actually, the contrived Greek etymology for the name of these people reflects the fact that Europeans had never seen scale armor before, let alone people covered in it from head to toe and riding on horses that were also armored. It reminded the Greeks of snake scale. This, taken together with the fact that the standard or war banner of the Sarmatians was a dragon, compelled the Greeks to refer to the Sarmat as Sauromatae, a word with the same Greek root as “Dinosaur,” which conveys the sense of “lizard people” or reptilians. The whole European lore of people with “dragon blood” begins here, since it is these same “reptilians” who, after the fall of the Roman Empire, assumed leadership of the other “barbarians” and formed the leading aristocratic houses in large parts of Germany, northern Italy, France, and Spain.
Together with the Goths, the Alans formed a kingdom in Spain that was named Goth-Alania, the pronunciation of which eventually became “Catalonia.” This was the point of origin for the Troubadour culture, which spread throughout the rest of Spain and French Occitan. The bloodline of the Carolingian dynasty traces back to these Iranians, and they also served as top advisors to the Merovingian kings. Alan families settled in Gaul (France) as early as the fifth century and maintained their dominance until the 1200s, and it is in this place, during this period, that the Grail romances were written. The Goths, Franks, and Celts lived under the Alan elite, as village peasantry, and were also employed as shock troops.
Together with the Germans, the Alans served as the upper echelon of the Crusader knights, and these Iranians also fought to defeat Attila the Hun so as to protect Europe from non-Aryans. The infamous Order of the Dragon (Draculae) was Sarmatian in origin. Together with neighboring Bulgaria, so-called “Hungary” was actually part of the core Sarmatian homeland around the Black Sea, before the Turkic Huns invaded this part of Sarmatia and replaced its Indo-European language and Aryan culture with a Finno-Ugric one. In other words, Hungary was more European when it was still solidly Iranian. To this day, the Hungarians and Bulgarians retain the tricolor flag common to other Iranian territories, from Persia and Kurdistan to Tajikistan. Ancient Greek and Roman maps mark the region of Hungary and Bulgaria as inhabited by the Roxalanoi or “white Alans.”
All of this is driving at the point that Jesus Christ and his disciples added nothing whatsoever to European culture. Every positive development of European culture that has been misattributed to the Christian religion that was institutionalized after the Council of Nicea in 325 CE is actually attributable to some other factor internal to the Aryan world, especially to the spirituality, traditions, and aesthetics of Mithraism, which fellow Indo-Europeans brought to Europe in two waves – the first during the pagan Roman Empire and the second in the course of the “barbarian” invasions.
Furthermore, the claim that these mass migrations of Celtic, Germanic (especially Gothic), and northwestern Iranian (Alanic and Saxon) people into the Mediterranean core of the Roman Empire is what led to the destruction of a high level of civilization is absolutely indefensible. On the contrary, had Christian Church (then not yet divided by the Catholic and Orthodox schism) not waged war against the “pagan” literature, arts, and sciences of European “heathens”, this infusion of fresh “barbarian” blood would have actually accelerated the advent of the modern industrial age. The following, and final, section will make this argument on the basis of two factors: first, the genetic characteristics of the white “barbarians” with relevance to cultural creativity and intellectual production and, second, the state of intellectual culture, science, and technology in places such as Roman Alexandria.
- CHRISTIANITY AS RETARDATION
In his book, Human Achievement, Charles Murray has brought together a treasure trove of evidence for the genetic superiority of Europeans in the domains of science and technology, literature and the arts, exploration and voyages of discovery. When one defines “the explorer” as a distinct category that is not to be confused with conquerors who crossed vast swathes of land, such as Genghis Khan (or Alexander), one finds that there are only about 15 non-European men out of a total number of approximately 300 explorers in recorded human history. These explorers include naval navigators who sailed previously uncharted seas, and thereby discovered new lands, mountain climbers who scaled peaks, the vistas of which had never been beheld by anyone before them, as well as those individuals who led expeditions to conquer the poles of the Earth, both in the Arctic and Antarctica. Whether these men were ancient Greeks, with their extraordinary maritime culture, or the Vikings who made it to America long before Christopher Columbus, or Renaissance Italians such as Amerigo Vespucci, after which “America” was named, Portuguese and Spanish merchants, British mountain climbers in Africa and India, Germans in the jungles of the Amazons or the Himalaya mountains, or their Germanic kindred in Scandinavia who braved the Antarctic and named large swaths of the frozen continent – they were almost all white men.
This is entirely inextricable from the incomparable accomplishment of whites – European and American – in the arts, literature, the sciences and technological innovation. For example, from out of painters and other visual artists of which we have any historical records, whether in Western, Islamic, Indian, or Asian histories, 479 were Westerners as compared to a total of 293 from all non-Western cultures combined (the total population of which far exceeds that of the West, meaning that the 479 Western artists represent a much larger percentage of the population of their own civilization and not just of the world at large). When it comes to great works of literature, 835 Western writers penned works that became historic whereas East Asia, India, and the Muslim world taken together only produced 293 notable authors (again, despite having a much larger combined population than Europe and its colonial territories in the Americas). The imbalance is even more significant in music, although harder to compare with any precision, since non-Western cultures do not even have a tradition of music composition with identifiable individual composers (at least not until they were Westernized very late into modernity).
Finally, as far as science and technology are concerned, “white supremacy” is undisputed. Even when taking the considerable accomplishments of the “Islamic Golden Age” into account, where it must be admitted that 90% of the scientists and inventors were Persians who at that time (800–1100) were still genetically (and not just linguistically) Indo-European, we still arrive at the conclusion that 97% of techno-scientific achievements in history are by white men – whether in Europe, North America, or Russia. This does not include the negligible number of Jews, whose contributions, especially in late modernity, are always overstated.
What is also evident from this statistical analysis is that IQ is only one part of this puzzle when it comes to comprehending the excellence of Faustian man. It should go without saying that, with an IQ that is in some cases 20 to 30 points below that of Westerners, the native peoples of Africa, Arabia, and India (as compared to the small Aryan minority who brought higher culture there) could not possibly hope to compete with Faustian man in any area of human achievement. However, the Chinese have a very high average IQ, comparable to the most intelligent Western populations, but as can be seen most clearly in their attempts at exploration, they lack all of the other personality traits that account for Faustian achievement. What one gleans from the chronicles of the voyages of Cheng Ho, and the burning of the Chinese ships that may have made it to the Americas, is a terror in the face of the unknown and its potential for destabilization of society. “May you live in interesting times,” is a Chinese curse.
This genetic evidence for the excellence of European (or broader Indo-European) achievement as compared to that of other genetically clustered populations is already a very strong piece of evidence in favor of the thesis that the decline of European greatness between the Christianization of Rome and the Italian Renaissance had nothing to do with the mass migration of whites into the heart of the Roman Empire – the same Nordic/Germanic and Anglo-Saxon whites who would be most responsible for the greatest achievements of “Faustian” modernity. Rather, Christianity was a mind virus that resulted in the debilitation of mental retardation of European civilization for centuries – a disease that is still distorting our culture and rendering us vulnerable to a program of deliberately degenerative deconstruction at the hands of resentful, slavish souls.
In The Anti-Christ, Friedrich Nietzsche recognizes the spirit of Science as the antithesis of the Christian mentality. Christianity, in Nietzsche’s view, extols foolish ignorance and condemns the “wisdom of this world” as sinful. In fact, as Nietzsche recognizes, the Bible begins with the story of a jealous god who is terrified at the human attainment of knowledge of life, of Nature, as symbolized by the Serpent and by the serpentine woman, Eve (Hava), whose Hebrew name means “life.” By contrast, the Promethean advocate of Science strives in the spirit of the Antichrist as the mortal enemy of God:
A religion like Christianity, which is at no point in contact with actuality, which crumbles away as soon as actuality comes into its own at any point whatever, must naturally be a mortal enemy of the ‘wisdom of the world’, that is to say of science…
Paul wants to confound the ‘wisdom of the world’: his enemies are the good philologists and physicians of the Alexandrian school – upon them he makes war. In fact, one is not philologist and physician without also being at the same time anti-Christian.
…Has the famous story which stands at the beginning of the Bible really been understood – the story of God’s mortal terror of science? …God had created for himself a rival, science makes equal to God… Moral: science is forbidden in itself – it alone is forbidden. Science is the first sin, the germ of all sins, original sin. This alone constitutes morality. – ‘Thou shalt not know’ – the rest follows. …all thoughts are bad thoughts. Man shall not think. …Distress does not allow man to think. …And none the less! Oh horror! The structure of knowledge towers up, heaven-storming, reaching for the divine – what to do! – The old God invents war, he divides the peoples, he makes men destroy one another… War – among other things a great mischief-maker in science! – Incredible! Knowledge, emancipation from the priest, increases in spite of wars. – And the old God comes to a final decision: ‘Man has become scientific – there is nothing for it, he will have to be drowned!’
In The Anti-Christ Nietzsche identifies the Jewish mentality as an epitome of the falsification of life that one sees in the conception of the Fall as a rightful punishment for the sin of knowledge-seeking that was committed in Eden. This is reiterated in The Birth of Tragedy. Given that the Promethea trilogy of Aeschylus was a supreme work of the tragic age of the Greeks that Nietzsche so admired, and that becomes the subject of The Birth of Tragedy, it ought to be no surprise that we find his most extended meditation on Prometheus there. He contrasts the Prometheus mythos of the Aryans with Semitic religiosity in the most striking terms. The passages deserve quoting at length:
Let me now contrast the glory of activity, which illuminates Aeschylus’ Prometheus, with the glory of passivity… Man, rising to Titanic stature, gains culture by his own efforts and forces the gods to enter into an alliance with him because in his very own wisdom he holds their existence and their limitations in his hands. But what is most wonderful in this Promethean poem, which in its basic idea is the veritable hymn of impiety, is the profoundly Aeschylean demand for justice. The immeasurable suffering of the bold “individual” on the one hand and the divine predicament and intimation of a twilight of the gods on the other…
In view of the astonishing audacity with which Aeschylus places the Olympian world on the scales of his justice, we must call to mind that the profound Greek possessed an immovably firm foundation for metaphysical thought in his mysteries, and all his skeptical moods could be vented against the Olympians. The Greek artist in particular had an obscure feeling of mutual dependence when it came to the gods; and precisely in the Prometheus of Aeschylus this feeling is symbolized. In himself the Titanic artist found the defiant faith that he had the ability to create men and at least destroy Olympian gods, by means of his superior wisdom which, to be sure, he had to atone for with eternal suffering. The splendid “ability” of the great genius for which even eternal suffering is a slight price, the stern pride of the artist – that is the content and soul of Aeschylus’ poem…
But Aeschylus’ interpretation of the myth does not exhaust the astounding depth of its terror. Rather the artist’s delight in what becomes, the cheerfulness of artistic creation that defies all misfortune, is merely a bright image of clouds and sky mirrored in a black lake of sadness. The Prometheus story is an original possession of the entire Aryan community of peoples and evidences their gift for the profoundly tragic. Indeed, it does not seem improbable that this myth has the same characteristic significance for the Aryan character which the myth of the fall has for the Semitic character, and that these two myths are related to each other like brother and sister. The presupposition of the Prometheus myth is to be found in the extravagant value which a naïve humanity attached to fire as the true palladium of every ascending culture. But that man should freely dispose of fire without receiving it as a present from heaven, either as a lightning bolt or as the warming rays of the sun, struck these reflective primitive men as sacrilege, as a robbery of divine nature. Thus the very first philosophical problem immediately produces a painful and irresolvable contradiction between man and god and moves it before the gate of every culture, like a huge boulder. The best and highest possession mankind can acquire is obtained by sacrilege and must be paid for with consequences which involve the whole flood of sufferings and sorrows with which the offended divinities have to afflict the nobly aspiring race of men. This is a harsh idea which, by the dignity it confers on sacrilege, contrasts strangely with the Semitic myth of the fall in which curiosity, mendacious deception, susceptibility to seduction, lust – in short, a series of pre-eminently feminine affects was considered the origin of evil. What distinguishes the Aryan notion is the sublime view of active sin as the characteristically Promethean virtue. With that, the ethical basis for pessimistic tragedy has been found: the justification of human evil, meaning both human guilt and the human suffering it entails.
…Whoever understands this innermost kernel of the Prometheus story – namely, the necessity of sacrilege imposed upon the titanically striving individual… [who, like] the swelling… tide… takes the separate little wave-mountains of individuals on its back, even as Prometheus’ brother, the Titan Atlas, does with the earth. This Titanic impulse to become, as it were, the Atlas for all individuals, carrying them on a broad back, higher and higher, farther and farther, is what the Promethean and the Dionysian have in common.
Returning to The Anti-Christ, there Nietzsche observes how the Church links the Christian embrace of ignorance as bliss with an affirmation of submissive weakness. As a world-historical force, Christianity has made war on the rare and higher type of person who seeks knowledge and worldly wisdom above all else. Nietzsche, who was by profession a classicist, sees the classical world as having, after centuries of struggle, established a foundation for the flourishing of this type in Alexandrian Rome. Here all of the key elements of the scientific orientation towards life were already developed.
Alexandria was a Greek colony established in Egypt and named after Alexander of Macedon. Aristotle personally tutored Alexander, who went on to reverse the power dynamic between the Greeks and Persians and to colonize not only the core of the Persian Empire, but Egypt and northern India as well. Alexander died young, at the age of 33 in Babylon, before having a chance to secure the long-term political unity of his new empire. Alexander’s generals divided up his empire after his death. Nevertheless, his dream of establishing a cosmopolitan world civilization was realized in some measure insofar as the cultural milieu that he created with his conquests allowed for a hybridization of the Greek way of life and thought with cultures of the colonized peoples to produce what is known as “Hellenistic” (vs. Hellenic) civilization. The cultural capital of this cosmopolitan civilization was Alexandria, in northern Egypt. This territory had fallen under the command of General Ptolemy, who went on to establish his own Ptolemaic dynasty there. The Ptolemies were great patrons of the arts and sciences, in many ways establishing the model of aristocratic patronage of the quest for knowledge and technical innovation that was resurrected by the Medici family and others during the Italian Renaissance.
Numerous scholars from Athens and elsewhere in the classical world were drawn to the Museum that Ptolemy established in Alexandria. This “Museum” or temple dedicated to the Muses featured a library that, by some estimates, contained some half a million scrolls. The Ptolemies even forced ships docking at the port of Alexandria from the far corners of the Hellenistic world to turn over any books that they might have on board to be copied by the librarians of the Museum before they could resume their journeys.
Among the hundreds of thousands of scrolls in the Library of Alexandria was the work of Aristarchus of Samos (310–230 BCEE) who, working in the Pythagorean tradition, had rejected the Platonic and Aristotelian model of the cosmos and devised a heliocentric model of the solar system that correctly placed the Earth in orbit around the Sun.
Meanwhile, a geographer and mathematician by the name of Eratosthenes (fl. 235 BCEE), who headed the Library of Alexandria himself, had managed to calculate the earth’s circumference to within a very small margin of error of the number that we now know to be correct. Eratosthenes arrived at a figure of 252,000 stades or 24,000 miles, strikingly close to the true number of 24,901. Consistent with the Alexandrian spirit, on the basis of his discoveries concerning the dimensions of the spherical earth Eratosthenes not only argued that it could be circumnavigated by sailors but also that such voyages could act to demolish racial prejudices and promote universal human brotherhood.
We know that, among other eclectic cultural influences, Babylonian astrology and astronomy made it to Alexandria and was assimilated by Greek astronomers in such a way as to effect a fundamental advance that left obsession with aesthetic considerations such as the geometrical form of the cosmos behind in favor of more accurate quantitative measurements and predictions of celestial phenomena. It also spurred the design of high precision instruments geared to this purpose. By the first century BCE, a device designed to measure the apparent diameter of the sun and moon. The astrolabe, with its stereographic projection, had been invented. The precession of the equinoxes had been discovered and the rising and setting times of the major constellations at a given location had been determined together with times of the equinoxes and solstices. Such advances in knowledge, facilitated by technical innovation, not only afforded the Hellenistic peoples more accurate calendars but also allowed for the compiling of massive star catalogues or atlases of the heavens. These would draw on observations going back hundreds of years to calculate the average length of the lunar month to within one second of the modern value, and to predict solar and lunar eclipses for any given location.
Although Aristarchus had grasped that the Earth actually revolves around the Sun, his heliocentric model had less predictive power than the most sophisticated refinement of the Earth centered one. The Alexandrian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (fl. 150 CE) introduced a number of innovations to the Platonic/Aristotelian model of the cosmos to arrive at the system that would not be overthrown until the Copernican Revolution in the sixteenth century.
Ptolemy [not to be confused with the General and founder of the dynasty] was answering a challenge that is supposed to have been first posed by Plato, namely whether the occasionally retrograde motion of the planets and the variations in speed that they undergo in their apparent orbits around the Earth could somehow be translated into a composite of uniform and perfectly circular motions. Yet, while Plato may have set this task on account of aesthetic assumptions about the perfection of the celestial realm, of the same kind that seduced Parmenides into thinking that the One must be spherical in shape, Ptolemy would have to carry out this task in a way that retained the new standard of quantitative precision in predictive power that was set by the Hellenistic assimilation of Babylonian astronomical techniques. We must also bear in mind that the kind of trigonometry used to make accurate predictions in this époque could not readily be applied to shapes other than circles.
Advances in astronomy are obviously also going to call for breakthroughs in optics. Early in the Alexandrian period, Euclid (fl. 300 BCEE) developed optics into a science that drew on the geometrical principles of the Elements for which he is most famous. In a propositional form similar to that of this earlier and more widely known work, Euclid’s Optica analyzed an object’s appearance based on its spatial relationship to the observer, with special emphasis on a geometrical cone of vision with its base on the visible object and its vertex in the eye of the perceiver. Rays extending from the vertex to the object at various angles marked the elements of the first scientific theory of perspective or the apparent size of an object viewed as a function of the angle from which it is perceived. This is a development with significant psychological implications, considering the broader connotation of perspectival perception in the context of the rising cosmopolitan inter-cultural context of the Greeks in the wake of Alexander’s conquests.
In fact, Claudius Ptolemy was actually working at the Museum in Alexandria when he used Euclid’s groundwork to elaborate a more sophisticated optical science. Again, we are dealing with an astronomer who is elaborating optics for the purpose of astronomical observation. In his Optica Ptolemy did not restrict himself to Euclid’s narrow geometrical approach. Rather, Ptolemy’s theory of vision included explicit consideration of the physiological and psychological dimensions of the visual process in a way that allowed for experimental tests with quantitative results. Although he adopts Euclid’s cone of vision, he extends it to account for both monocular and binocular vision and interprets its rays as physically real. These rays take on the color of objects and transmit visual information on the shape, size, and location of objects back to the brain of the perceiver. Most impressively, Ptolemy develops a comprehensive account of reflection and refraction in surfaces such as mirrors and bodies of water, developing equations that accurately project, for example, by exactly what angle a stick will appear ‘bent’ when it is refracted in water or how an image will be distorted in both concave and convex mirrors of spherical or cylindrical shape.
Optics was by no means the only area of scientific experimentation in the Hellenistic milieu of Alexandrian civilization. It only stands to reason that mechanics would yield the greatest hands-on efforts in the laboratory and ones that would lead most directly to technological innovation. Drawing from Mechanical Problems considered by the school of Aristotle, Archimedes (287–212 BCEE) laid out the principles of mechanics in the form of Euclidean proofs and the way in which he mathematized nature in terms of the dynamical movement of the parts of things set an example that, while it fell on deaf ears throughout the Middle Ages, would be a powerful influence on the founders of modern science. Archimedes is said to have designed machines capable of lifting naval vessels out of water and burning these ships using focused beams of light produced by an array of mirrors. Researchers at Alexandria cited his work extensively and used it for their own mechanical inventions. One of these was Hero of Alexandria who designed the first steam engine and gear train; he also wrote a treatise on robotics.
The cosmopolitan atmosphere of Alexandria made it possible for the Ptolemies to break with conservative Greek funerary traditions in allowing human autopsies at the laboratories of the Museum and Library beginning in the third century BCEE, which led to vital advances in medicine and biological science. Hippocrates of Cos (ca. 460–370 BCE) is usually regarded as the founder of Greek medicine in a formal sense, although physicians such as Aristotle’s father had been practicing for centuries before his time. It is to Hippocrates that we owe the “Hippocratic oath” of modern medical practice. Beginning with Hippocrates, “seizure” producing diseases such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy that had been seen as the product of being seized by a god were given naturalistic explanations; a very conscious attempt was made to put “witch-doctors, faith-healers, quacks and charlatans” out of business by establishing standards for formal medical study and private practice.
As in Pre-Socratic Physics, the key turn here was toward naturalistic accounts that assume that nature acts uniformly and according to universal principles that are not subject to the caprice of supernatural entities. Within this framework, disease is often diagnosed as some imbalance in the body due to an interference with its natural state such as blockages of veins or the overabundance or dearth of some bodily fluid or humor. Standard examination procedures were established, including the examination of the patient’s face, eyes, hands, posture, breathing, sleep, and emissions and excretions from all bodily orifices. This served not only to diagnose the disease responsible for symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, fever, convulsions, tumors, and lesions, but also to discern the pathology of the disease in question so as to offer a prognosis of its probable future course. In addition to diagnosis and prognosis, classical physicians were of course also in the business of treating various ailments, especially with the regulation of diet, exercise, sleep, and sex, special baths and massages, and hundreds of herbal medicines used as laxatives, purgatives, emetics, narcotics, expectorants, balms, and powders.
The Greeks who inaugurated the Olympic games, founded many of the sports still practiced in Western civilization, and so sports medicine was a key part of the practice of physicians. Modern physicians have been quite impressed with the skill with which their Greek predecessors administered treatment of wounds, fractures, and dislocations. Despite the emphasis on naturalistic diagnosis, we must remember that Greeks as brilliant as Plato and Aristotle understood Nature very differently from modern materialists and so practices such as dream healing remained an important part of Hellenistic medicine.
Unfortunately, Greek medical writings of the Alexandrian period seem to have been among the greatest casualties of the holocaust of the writings of classical antiquity epitomized by the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the city whose relatively liberal atmosphere allowed medical practice to advance most rapidly. We have considerable writings from early Greek medical practice, centered on places such as Athens, and then there is a black hole in our knowledge until the early Christian period. We are often left to reconstruct the brilliant innovations of the intervening period from later and often biased authors. Two of the most accomplished physicians of the Hellenistic period were actually based in Alexandria. Herophilus (d. ca. 255 BCEE), a native of Asia Minor, came to Alexandria to work under the patronage of the first two sovereigns of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Galen who was born in 129 CE at Pergamum (another center of learning in the classical world) traveled widely in Asia Minor, Corinth, and the Greek mainland before settling in Alexandria during the most productive phase of his career. He would go on to become the personal physician of famous Roman gladiators and three Caesars in Rome: Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, and Septimius Severus. The aforementioned legality of human autopsy in colonial Alexandria under the Ptolemies, which broke with traditional Greek and Roman religious customs, allowed these men to make tremendous advances in anatomy. They mapped the brain and nervous system, including its connection with the spinal cord; distinguished veins from arteries in the heart and carefully examined the function of its valves; they described the ovaries and Fallopian tubes, laying the foundation for the practice of obstetrics. Galen is known to have even carried out brain surgery. Great physicians such as Herophilus, Erasistratus, and Galen did not go unchallenged. While they were respected by those who studied their works, both their method and their findings were also challenged by independent investigations that yielded a healthy debate in the scientific literature of the Hellenistic period.
The connection between political authoritarianism and scientific progress in this cosmopolitan cultural milieu was very real. When in 307 BCEE Demetrius Phaleron, a student of Aristotle’s Lyceum was overthrown as dictator of Athens, a city with a strong democratic tradition (and one whose democracy had sentenced Socrates to death), Demetrius was invited to Alexandria by Ptolemy and probably influenced the latter’s plans to establish his own center of learning there. It would become the intellectual beacon of the entire classical world, a spiritual complement of Alexandria’s famous lighthouse, until the Christian seizure of the Roman Empire ushered in the dark ages. Roman emperors such as Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius endowed imperial chairs for teachers of philosophy. Caesar Marcus Aurelius (reign, 218–222 CE), an accomplished philosopher himself, endowed chairs for each of the four major schools of thought. The Platonic, the Peripatetic (Aristotelian), and Epicurean schools, all competitors to his own Stoic path to knowledge, were equally encouraged by him.
The extraordinary intellectual culture of the Hellenistic period, centered on Alexandria, was brought to an end with the Judeo-Christian takeover of the Roman Empire. In the first third of the fourth century AD, around the year 325 CE, the Caesar Constantine adopted the Christian religion and convened a council at Nicea to organize the fractious religion into an established Church with a clearly defined canon and dogma. The city of New Rome was named Constantinople in his honor and became the capital of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium. Within a generation of Constantine’s Christianization of the Roman Empire, which established a persecuted fringe cult as the official state religion, Bishop Cyril of Alexandria was waging a vicious campaign to establish Christian dominance over this beacon of scientific learning in the pagan world.
At that time Hypatia of Alexandria (335–405 CE) was the director of the Neo-Platonic Academy in the city and, in that capacity, a key guardian of its Museum and Library. That such a status was attainable by a woman at that time in human history attests to the extraordinarily progressive and humanistic cultural milieu of Alexandrian civilization. Although she was very attractive and garnered many suitors, Hypatia was more interested in pursuing scientific exploration than in the household duties of a married woman. Cyril saw her as an epitome of pagan impiety, not only because she was an independent woman with a prominent position in the public sphere but also because she was so accomplished in the sciences that the rising Judeo-Christian Church viewed as worldly vanity by comparison to the content of its revealed scriptures. Cyril accused Hypatia of witchcraft on account of her work with celestial instruments such as the astrolabe.
Under Cyril’s orders, Hypatia was seized by a Christian mob on her way home, stripped naked and flayed to death. Her skin was scraped off her flesh with shards of pottery and seashells, until she bled to death. Then they took her corpse and torched it on a pyre in a herald of the future witch burnings. The Christian mob went on to burn the Library of Alexandria to the ground and to smash the idols of the Serapium, the temple to Serapis – the patron deity of the Museum and Library, whose cult the Ptolemies had set up as a synthesis of Greek and Egyptian beliefs. Half a million scrolls went up in flames.
What we know of the accomplishment of classical antiquity in the arts and sciences, such as the voluminous writings of all the Greek dramatists, the Pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle, is about 1% of what was contained in that library and at other sites that suffered similar, albeit less dramatic fates, during the rise of the Church of Rome. That percentage has been calculated based on a detailed study of every textual reference, on the part of Classical authors and writers of the early Christian period, to books that did not survive into the Middle Ages or to authors whose entire corpus of writings perished in the Christian cultural genocide of European civilization. Bishop Cyril was canonized as a saint. So the classical age ended and the medieval dark age of Europe began.
Since the destruction of the classical academies, scientific geniuses and heroic spirits have been viciously persecuted and inquisitorially tortured as something intolerably lower than what the Hindus call Chandala – those that they tolerate as “untouchables.” The harbingers of the Superman have been associated with everything Evil. In Nietzsche’s view, it is now time for a reversal of this grotesque Christian inversion of a rightful ethical order wherein those with the strength to boldly seek wisdom and knowledge are recognized as sovereign. He intends for the true Chandala to retake their rightful place as robots that build a broad foundation for the self-directed evolution of the intellectual elite beyond the merely ‘human’ and into a superhuman condition. Whoever said that interdependence entailed equality had no sense of relations in nature or the evolutionary force of life.
In The Gay Science and The Will to Power, Nietzsche elaborates on this interdependence of the “last man” and the Promethean “masters of the earth.” There he sees the transformation of the teeming rabble into a machine as a platform on which a new nobility of renaissance men erect a new world order unifying Science, Art, and Politics:
So many things have to come together for scientific thinking to originate… Their effect was that of poisons… Many hecatombs of human beings were sacrificed before these impulses learned to comprehend their coexistence and to feel they were all functions of one organizing force… artistic energies and the practical wisdom of life will join with scientific thinking to form a higher organic system in relation to which scholars, physicians, artists, and legislators – as we know them at present – would have to look like paltry relics of ancient times.
…Inexorably, hesitantly, terrible as fate, the great task and question is approaching: how shall the earth as a whole be governed? And to what end shall “man” as a whole – and no longer as a people, a race – be raised and trained? …as the consumption of man and mankind becomes more and more economical and the “machinery” of interests and services is integrated ever more intricately, a counter-movement is inevitable… the production of a synthetic, summarizing, justifying man for whose existence this transformation of mankind into a machine is a precondition, as a base on which he can invent… this higher form of aristocracy… that of the future… a hothouse for strange and choice plants.
What Nietzsche was prophesying here, with this description of the Übermensch as a product of future techne, is the superhuman Promethean race that my writings are working to conjure into the world as we approach the imminent Technological Singularity. My “Prometheism” is, in this sense, not only a legitimate heir to Nietzsche’s project but the very same Anti-Christian messianic baptism by fire that he heralded as some kind of Satanic John the Baptist. The coming Prometheist World Order can only be led by The Anti-Christ.