Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Gods of Eden - Ch.12

The Jesus Ministry

THE STORY MOST people know of Jesus is told in the New Testament. The New Testament, like much of the Old Testament, is in many places a greatly altered version of the original accounts on which it is based. In addition, probably less than 5 percent of all that Jesus and his original followers taught is found in the Bible.

Many of the changes and deletions to the New Testament were made by special church councils. The editing process began as early as 325 A.D. during the First Council of Nicea, and continued well into the 12th century. For example, the Second Synod [church council] of Constantinople in 553 A.D. deleted from the Bible Jesus's references to "reincarnation"—an important concept to Jesus and his early followers. Later, the Lateran Councils of the 12th century added a tenet to the Bible that was never taught by Jesus: the concept of the "Holy Trinity." The Christian church did not limit itself to changing a few ideas, it also rejected entire books. The church destroyed many documents and records which contradicted the radical changes that were made to Christian doctrine by these councils. Fortunately, the original writings which survived the editing process still offer valuable clues and insights into the life of Jesus.

Many writings rejected by the church councils found their way into a book known as the "Apocrypha" ("hidden writings").* The Apocrypha consists of writings which were adjudged to be of dubious origin or quality by the church. Some of the material was rightfully rejected. Other Apocryphal works, however, were omitted simply because they contradicted the official church version of Jesus's life on several crucial details. These are details which, if carefully researched, would offer a somewhat different outlook on the life of Jesus from the one presented in the authorized Bible.

According to the Apocrypha, the story of Jesus begins with his maternal grandparents, Joachim and Anna. Joachim was said to be a priest in a Hebrew temple. Joachim and Anna were happily married except for one problem: they had not been able to produce any children. This was a source of considerable embarrassment to them. Bearing children, especially sons, was quite important in that era.

One day Joachim was standing alone in the fields when an angel appeared. The angel was described as giving off a tremendous amount of light and striking fear into Joachim by its appearance. The angel canned Joachim and told him not to be ashamed any longer because an angel would cause Anna to become pregnant. The only stipulation for this honor was that Joachim and his wife must surrender their child to be raised by the priests and angels at a temple in Jerusalem.

Everything went according to plan. At the age of three, Joachim and Anna's little girl, Mary, was taken to the temple and left there. Mary was a beautiful child who remained devoted to the priests and angels for about the next eleven years. When Mary and her peers in the temple became 12 or 14 years of age (two different ages are given by two


* Not to be confused with "apocalypse," which is a "revelation."

different sources), it was time for them to go back out into the world and get married.

Mary was not free to pick her own husband, however. Her mentors chose one for her. The mate picked for Mary was a very old man by the name of Joseph. Joseph did not agree at first to the marriage because he was quite old and had already had children of his own. After efforts were made to change his mind, Joseph consented to the match and went to his home in Bethlehem to prepare his house for his new wife. Mary went to the home of her parents, Joachim and Anna, in Galilee to make herself ready.

While Mary was in Galilee, an angel named Gabriel appeared before her, announcing that she would give birth to the new Messiah. Mary was confused:

She said, How can that be? For seeing, according to my vow [of chastity], I have never had sexual contact with any man, how can I bear a child without the addition of a man's seed?

To this the angel replied and said. Think not, Mary, that you will conceive in the ordinary way.

For, without sleeping with a man, while a Virgin, you will conceive and while a Virgin you will give milk from your breast.

For the Holy Ghost will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, without any of the heats of lust.

So that to which you will give birth will be only holy, because it only is conceived without sin, and being born, shall be called the Son of God.

Then Mary, stretchingforth her hands, and lifting her eyes to heaven, said, Take notice of the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done to me what you have said.

MARY VII: 16-21

Several researchers believe that stories of "virgin births" may be based upon instances of artificial insemination. Virgin birth means only that the woman did not become impregnated by a man, but was caused instead to bear a child through the action of an "angel." If we consider that many New Testament "angels" are Custodians, artificial insemination becomes a distinct possibility.

The above conversation between Mary and her "angel" expresses a strong moral and spiritual belief connected to the act of conception. Impregnation by an "angel" was deemed holy and desirable, but conception by human means was often considered sin. To someone engaging in artificial insemination, there would be a practical reason for creating such a distinction. Artificial insemination helps guarantee control over the physical characteristics of a future baby, something that cannot be assured in random human mating. By artificially inseminating two or more generations in a row, the purity of the final product is greatly increased. This is practiced today by animal breeders who closely control the insemination and breeding of livestock from generation to generation in order to bring forth bigger, better, and purer animals. In this respect, it is significant that the human offspring of alleged virgin births were often described as physically unflawed and unusually beautiful in appearance. While some of this flattery was no doubt due to the tendency of followers to view their religious leaders in the best possible light, the stories of angel-induced pregnancies over consecutive generations, such as the tale surrounding Jesus, would strongly suggest a breeding effort. This discussion is not meant to cast disrespect on the personality of Jesus by suggesting that his body was bred like a cow, but that is the picture which emerges.

The disdain expressed to priests by Biblical "angels" for the human method of conception was apparently based upon mere practical concerns to ensure good breeding, but it was nevertheless taken to heart by early priests and became a major element of many monotheistic religions. In Biblical days, human beings were also heavily propagandized as very sinful to justify the barbaric treatment humans suffered at the hands of their Custodial "God" and "angels." By extending this concept of sinfulness to the human method of procreation, every person conceived through human sexual intercourse was to be considered born in sin and therefore spiritually condemned. What a frightful dilemma this created! Every time a man and woman conceived and gave birth to a child, they had condemned a spiritual being; yet the human drives which produce children are strong. The religious teaching of automatic spiritual condemnation because of human procreation generated a powerful conflict between the drive for spiritual freedom and the physical drive to reproduce. The result was intense anxiety on the subject of sex and an increase in non-procreative sexual activity such as homosexuality, auto-eroticism, non-procreative forms of intercourse, pornography, voyeurism, and abortion. The irony in this is clear. Those religions which have most strongly condemned the "inherent sin" in all human beings have also been those which have most vocally opposed non-procreative sex. 

These teachings had another important effect. They helped reduce human resistance to engaging in war. It is easier for a religious person to kill someone if he believes that the victim is inherently sinful. 

Fortunately, most people today no longer believe that human conception is innately sinful, including most clergy. If anything, giving birth to children is seen as an event of happiness, and that is as it should be. Despite this, we still find some of the old ideas lingering. A small number of philosophers, psychiatrists, religious leaders and sociologists continue to proclaim that human beings are inherently "bad" or "evil," be it on religious or "scientific" grounds. This contributes little to our culture except to keep sexual anxiety and warfare alive.

After Mary's experience with the angel, Joseph travelled from his home in Bethlehem to pick up Mary in Galilee. To his chagrin, Joseph discovered that his young bride was already several months pregnant. Thinking that Mary had become a whore, Joseph made preparations to abandon her. An angel intervened and convinced Joseph that Mary was still a virgin. Joseph stayed with Mary in Galilee until her ninth month of pregnancy. In the ninth month, Joseph and Mary set off for Joseph's home in Bethlehem to have the child there. According to the Apocrypha, the couple did not reach Joseph's home in time. Mary went into labor near the outskirts of Bethlehem and a shelter had to be located for her immediately. What they found was a cave. In that cave young Jesus was born:

And when they came by the cave, Mary confessed to Joseph that her time of giving birth had come, and she could not go on to the city, and said, Let us go into this cave.

At that time the sun was nearly down.

But Joseph hurried away so that he might fetch her a midwife; and when he saw an old Hebrew woman who was from Jerusalem, he said to her, Please come here, good woman, and go into that cave, and you will see a woman just ready to give birth.

It was after sunset, when the old woman and Josephreached the cave, and they both went into it.

And look, it was all filled with lights, greater than the light of lamps and candle, and greater than the light of the sun itself.

The infant was then wrapped up in swaddling clothes, and sucking the breast of his mother St. Mary.

INFANCY 1:6-11

The unusual lights in the cave indicate to some people the existence of high-tech lighting of some sort. This may not be surprising when we discover that other apparent high-tech phenemona surrounded the birth of Jesus, such as the so-called "Star of Bethlehem."

Nearly everyone in the Christian world knows the tale of the three wise men who followed a bright star to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Most Christians believe that this unusual star, known as the "Star of Bethlehem," was supernatural in origin—a creation of God. Some scientists, if they have not dismissed the story as a religious myth, believe the Star to have been Halley's comet making a low pass over Earth, or a rare alignment of Venus and a bright star. Several UFO writers, on the other hand, assert that the Star of Bethlehem was an aircraft which led the three wise men from their homes in Persia to Bethlehem in the same fashion that Moses and the Hebrew tribes had been guided by an airborne "Jehovah" earlier in history. Surprisingly, the Apocrypha itself best supports the UFO theory. An Apocryphal book quotes one of the three wise men:

After leading the three wise men to Jesus's birthplace, this remarkably intelligent "star" accompanied them home again: 

"... the light of which they followed until they returned into their own country” (Infancy 3:3).

The preceding passages offer additional evidence of Custodial involvement in the breeding and birth of Jesus. Who, then, were the three wise men? They are generally said to have been mystics and astrologers. Clearly they were indoctrinated in the Brotherhood messiah prophecies, else they would not have made the journey. Significantly, they hailed from Persia – a stronghold of Zoroastrianism and Aryanism at the time.

Many Christians believe that Jesus was born in an animal stall inside of Bethlehem city. In fact, it says so in the New Testament's Book of Luke. Proponents of the cave birth story, however, state that Jesus was not taken to the stall until several days after he was born. Mary had reportedly hidden Jesus there because of a threat to his life from King Herod, a local monarch who was alarmed by the Hebrew Messiah prophecies.

If it is true that Jesus was born in a cave, why would the writer of Luke and other early church leaders claim that Jesus's first bed was a manger?

It was the intention of those who backed Jesus to proclaim him the Hebrew Messiah. For that assertion to be true, they needed to prove that Jesus was a direct descendant of Hebrew King David. Such a lineage was required by the Hebrew prophecies. A number of religious historians, however, have concluded that Jesus belonged to a Hebrew religious sect known as the "Essenes." Joachim, Anna, and Mary may have all been members of Essene temples. The cave birth would tend to reinforce that conclusion because the Essenes were well known for using caves as shelters and hospices. If Jesus was an Essene, he could not have been a descendant of King David. This is why:

The Essenes were outwardly Jewish, but they also studied the Zend Avesta of the Zoroastrian religion and reportedly practiced Aryanism. This would help explain the visit of the three Persian wise men to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. It further appears that being Aryan was a requirement to becoming an Essene. Jesus himself was white-skinned and redheaded. Because of the racial prerequisite to becoming an Essene, no true Essene could have been a direct descendant of King David because the Hebrew tribes had a different lineage.

Much of what we know today about the Essenes comes from a famous mid-20th-century archaeological discovery: the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Scrolls are a library of very old documents dating from the first century A.D. They were written by members of an Essene community and hidden by them in caves near the Dead Sea. The Scrolls were discovered in 1947 (or possibly 1945) by a young Bedouin tribesman.

According to historian John Allegro, who analyzes the Scrolls in his book, The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes had many characteristics of a secret society. For example, a person's admission into the Essene Order was accomplished only after several years probation. The Essenes practiced initiation rituals in which they swore to never divulge their secret teachings. They also held confidential the names of the "angels" said to be living among the Essenes in their closed communities. Essene priests often called themselves "The Sons of Zadok" after high priest Zadok, who had served in the temple of Solomon.

In light of these discoveries, it is not surprising that several Brotherhood branches had claimed long before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Essene organization was a branch of the Brotherhood in Palestine, perhaps the Brotherhood's most important offshoot in that region. Albert MacKey's History of Freemasonry, published in 1898, confirms this by reporting that the Essenes had a system of degrees and used a symbolic apron.

There is much evidence that Jesus remained an Essene throughout his adult life. Historian Will Durant, writing in his work, Caesar and Christ (The Story of Civilization, Part III), points out that the Essenes were the only sect with a Jewish tradition that did not oppose Jesus's early attempts at religious innovation. Of the three major Hebrew sects existing in Palestine at that time, Jesus condemned only the Pharisees and the Sadducees for their vices and hypocrisy, not the Essenes. The Essenes and Christians shared many traits in common: they held similar beliefs about living in "The Last Days," shared common meals, owned property communally, engaged in ritual baths and baptisms, and had some organizational points in common. Remarkable similarities between several Dead Sea Scroll doctrines and New Testament writings have also been noted. Historians point to Jesus's close personal friendship to John the Baptist. Many baptismal and ascetic (self-denial) practices of the Essenes were shared by John. While John did differ in other respects from what we know today of standard Essene practices, the similarities are strong enough to suggest that John was himself an Essene. Finally, we have the active presence of "angels" reportedly guiding both the Essenes and Jesus's ministry.

Despite the strong evidence, some theologians still dispute that Jesus was an Essene. Their objections are based primarily on the fact that many of Jesus's teachings contradicted Essene ways. There was a good reason for that contradiction. Jesus, though an Essene, had come into contact with the Indian maverick movement and, as a result, had become a rebellious maverick himself. He tried to forge ahead with a religious philosophy which was often at odds with his Essene sponsors, and he would suffer for it.

Most New Testament information about Jesus's life covers only the three years immediately prior to his crucifixion. Those were the years of Jesus's public ministry. During that time, Jesus did not live inside the Essene communities for the simple reason that he was engaged in a traveling ministry which would occupy him until his crucifixion. Every Essene was given, or created for himself, a "calling" or life's goal to pursue. Jesus pursued his as a teacher on the road.

In both the New Testament and Apocrypha, the life of Jesus seems to be fairly well covered up until about the age of 5 or 6. Then, abruptly, there is a complete void of information about where Jesus went or what he did. We find in the New Testament one episode of Jesus appearing before Hebrew scholars at the age of 12, followed by an eighteen year silence in which Jesus's activities are unaccounted for. Suddenly, at about the age of 30, Jesus re-emerged and launched his short and tumultuous religious career. Where had Jesus gone, and what had he done, during the unknown years?

Most Christians believe that Jesus spent his teens and young adulthood working for his father as a carpenter. No doubt Jesus did occasionally visit his father and learn carpentry on those visits. Many historians, however, feel that there was much more happening in Jesus's life and they have tried to discover what else Jesus might have done during those critical years when his thoughts, personality, and motives were developing. As it turns out, Jesus was being intensively trained for his future religious role.

It was common for Essene boys to enter an Essene monastery at about the age of 5 to begin their educations. This will account for Jesus's sudden disappearance from history at that age. Some researchers believe that Jesus was brought up and educated in the Essene community above Haifa by the Mediterranean Sea. He apparently remained there until his teens. At the age of 12, he made a trip to Jerusalem in preparation for his bar mitzvah the following year. It was during that trip that Jesus had the debate with Hebrew scholars. Jesus then vanished from history again. Now where did he go?

Several years ago I happened to see an intriguing film documentary by Richard Bock entitled, The Lost Years. This film regularly shows up on local American television stations around Christmas and Easter. It is well worth watching. The film suggests that Jesus journeyed to Asia where he spent his teens and early adulthood studying the religions practiced there. One source from which the filmmaker drew this remarkable conclusion was the "Legend of Issa," a very old Buddhist document purportedly discovered in the Himi Monastery of India by Russian traveler Nicolas Notovitch in 1887. Notovitch published his translation of the Buddhist legend in 1890 in his book, The Unknown Life of Jesus.

According to the Buddhist legend uncovered by Notovitch, a remarkable young man named "Issa" had departed for Asia at the age of thirteen. Issa studied under several religious masters of the East, did some preaching of his own, and returned to Palestine sixteen years later at the age of 29. The significant parallels between the lives of "Issa" and Jesus have led to the conclusion that Issa was, in fact, Jesus. If true, such a journey would certainly be omitted from the Bible because it contradicts the idea that Jesus had achieved spiritual enlightenment solely by divine inspiration.

If Jesus was an Essene and he travelled to Asia under Essene sponsorship, and if the Essenes indeed followed an Aryan tradition, we would expect Jesus to be sent to study under the Aryan Brahmans of the Indian subcontinent. According to the Legend of Issa, that is precisely what happened:

In his fourteenth year, young Issa, the Blessed One, came this side of the Sindh [a province in Western Pakistan] and settled among the Aryas [Aryans]. . . .'

Upon Jesus's arrival, "the white priests of Brahma welcomed him joyfully"2 and taught him, among other things, to read and understand the Vedas, and to teach and expound sacred Hindu scriptures. This joyful reception quickly turned sour, however, because Jesus insisted upon associating with the lower castes. That led to friction between the young headstrong Jesus and his Brahmin hosts. According to the legend:

But the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas [members of the military caste] told him that they were forbidden by the great Para-Brahma [Hindu god] to come near to those who were created from his belly and his feet [the mythical origin of the lower castes];

That the Vaisyas [members of the merchant and agricultural caste] might only hear the recital of the Vedas, and this only on the festival days, and

That the Sudras [one of the lower castes] were not only forbidden to attend the readings of the Vedas, but even to look on them; for they were condemned to perpetual servitude, as slaves of the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and even the Vaisyas.

But Issa, disregarding their words, remained with the Sudras, preaching against the Brahmins and Kshatriyas.

He declaimed strongly against man's arrogating to himself the authority to deprive his fellow-beings of their human and spiritual rights. "Verily," he said, "God has made no difference between his children, who are all alike dear to Him."

Issa denied the divine inspiration of the Vedas and the Puranas [a class of sacred writings]. .. .3

The white priests and warriors were so angered that they sent servants to murder Jesus. Warned of the danger, Jesus fled the holy city of Djagguernat by night and escaped into Buddhist country. There he learned the Pali language and studied sacred Buddhist writings ("Sutras"). After six years, Jesus "could perfectly expound the sacred [Buddhist] scrolls."4

The Issa legend has some remarkable implications. It portrays Jesus as a sincere religious reformer who found himself turning against the Custodial/Aryan traditions in which he had been raised. His sympathies went instead to the maverick Buddhists. The Buddhist influence in Jesus's teachings are evident in the Bible, as in Jesus's "Sermon on the Mount" which contains some philosophy strikingly similar to the Buddhism of his day.

After fifteen or so years in and about Asia, Jesus travelled back to Palestine via Persia, Greece, and Egypt. According to one tradition, Jesus was initiated into the higher ranks of the Brotherhood in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. After completing that initiation, Jesus returned to Palestine, now a man of 29 or 30. Immediately upon his return, Jesus embarked on his public ministry.

The rift between Jesus and his Aryan hosts in India did not, at first, seem to adversely affect Jesus's relationship to the Essene Order. It did not take long, however, for trouble to erupt. Jesus did not share the ascetism of his Essene brothers and downplayed the importance of ritualism for achieving spiritual salvation. Jesus was surrounded by Essene sponsors who strongly believed in the coming of a Messiah and they were determined to have their investment, Jesus, proclaimed that new Messiah. Jesus forbade them to do so. According to historian Will Durant, Jesus "repudiated all claim to Davidic descent"5 and for a long time "forbade the disciples to call him the messiah.. . ."6 Most historians attribute those actions to the political climate of the time. Palestine was under Roman occupation and the Romans took a dim view of the Hebrew prophecies because of their political overtones. Jesus did not wish to run afoul of the Romans, or so the thinking goes.

There is, however, a much better reason why Jesus did not want to be proclaimed the Hebrew Messiah. He knew that the proclamation was untrue and he was being honest about it. Jesus wanted to bring to Palestine a genuine spiritual science of the type the mavericks were still attempting in India. Jesus therefore became a rebel inside of the very Brotherhood organization backing him. Jesus's greatest mistake was believing that he could use the channels of the corrupted Brotherhood network to spread a maverick religion, even if he had many close friends and loved ones in the Essene Order.

Jesus never had time to establish his maverick religious system because some of his Essene backers and, according to the Bible, even some Custodial "angels," quickly got him into trouble by proclaiming him the Messiah. It did not take the Romans and some Hebrew leaders long to arrest Jesus and put him on trial. The Hebrews objected to his unorthodox religious ideas and the Romans his alleged political pretensions. A mere three years after beginning his ministry, Jesus was reportedly nailed to a cross. Although there is evidence that Jesus did not die on the cross but survived to live out the rest of his life in seclusion, the crucifixion ended his public ministry and paved the way for his name to be used to implant the very Judgment Day philosophies he had opposed.*

Jesus's problems cannot be blamed on his backers alone, however. Certainly Jesus's own errors contributed to his downfall. Despite his maverick leanings, Jesus was unable to entirely undo within himself a lifetime of indoctrination as an Essene. There is good Biblical and Apocryphal evidence that Jesus tried to mix Custodial dogma with maverick tenets. This will cause any honest attempt at spiritual reform to fail. The Bible also indicates that Jesus taught some of his lessons through a system of mysteries. Jesus's only hope had been to break completely with the Essene Order and its methods, but it is easy to understand why he had not done so. His life, family, and friends were too much a part of that organization.

Although Jesus had a large enough following to invite attention, he did not preach long enough to enter the history books of his own time. His fame grew after the crucifixion when his disciples traveled far and wide to establish their


*A set of documents dating from around 400 A.D.—the Nag Hammadi scrolls—were discovered in Egypt in 1945. The scrolls are hand-inscribed copies of earlier original manuscripts. Many or all of those originals were written no later than 150 A.D., i.e. before the standard New Testament gospels were penned. Some scholars believe many of the Nag Hammadi scrolls to be as authentic, and less altered, than the accepted Gospels of the New Testament. According to the Nag Hammadi, Jesus was not nailed to a cross, but another man, Simon, had been cleverly substituted to suffer Jesus's fate. Whatever the truth of this might be, what is important to us is simply that the crucifixion signaled the end of Jesus's public ministry.

new apocalyptic sect. With the continued help of their Custodial "angels," Christian missionaries made Jesus a household name and created a powerful new faction that would further divide human beings into battling groups.

The successful effort to make Jesus the figurehead of a new Judgment Day religion brought about the most famous apocalyptic writing in the western world: the Revelation of St. John. This work, which is also known as the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse, is the last book of the New Testament. It leaves Christians with the same type of dire prophecy that the Hebrews had been left with at the end of the Old Testament: the coming of a great global catastrophe followed by a Day of Judgment. The Book of Revelation is well worth taking a closer look at.

- pages 120-134, The Gods of Eden, by William Bramley

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