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Jul 28, 2022Liked by John Carter

John, I normally eschew this kind of topic. But I started reading and now am anxious for part II. Certainly beyond anything to which I have been exposed -- and somewhere in my long-ago past I have a theology degree, too...

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Cool. It's valuable to have a theologian in this kind of discussion. If I get anything obviously wrong, don't hesitate to point it out.

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master and margharita, Bulgakov

communism rules in the depths by questioning the existence of Jesus Christ

but as Dostoevsky said, even if it were proved to be all a fabrication, an amazing, unparalleled feat of poetic interpolation....(which by the way is far less likely than Jesus being a historical figure)...he would still believe in Jesus Christ as the highest, the redeeming saviour of mankind. why? because dostoevsky being a great writer understood that we are all fictions anyway....all figments of our own imagination. so if everything is a fiction, the best story has the highest value....

in any case, Jesus Christ lived and is a real figure to this day. He was prophesied as coming for centuries by hebrew prophets, and he came just as they (much maligned themselves) said he would.

that we are talking of Jesus Christ today - 2000 years later, the fact he is central to what is going on in the west, in the world....this is proof enough of his reality and immortality.

the key to all this well-intentioned sophistry being made redundant...ie true progress, true belief/faith/gnosis, is to ask for proof with a sincere heart. you will get it, i got without even asking!

once you have experienced God directly, theological tete a tetes are rather pointless, but they are, nevertheless, opportunities to train oneself to think better.

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Jul 29, 2022·edited Jul 29, 2022Author

As I said, but you may have skimmed by: it's Jesus I doubt. Not Christ.

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This is also similar to the position of many new-age gnostic scholars, like john lamb lash eg. It's theologically sound but it doesn't convince. at root is a very deep skepticism of patriarchal authority and the veracity of the claims upon which it is founded. but Jesus Christ transcends any notion of temporal authority transferring it totally and directly to the individual. now this would be a strange ruse for power to play - deliberately and permanently undermining itself.

by the way the nag hammadi codex is full of references to Jesus Christ as a historical figure - the gnostics sure didnt doubt his existence.

the bible is still the most revolutionary and problematic text for power...and i would expect the anti-Christian rhetoric to increase in intensity. the reformation was literally the people getting the chance to read for themselves in their own language the words of Jesus Christ. And this changed the world.

the proof of truth, as Jung says, is, is it effectual? - does it transform the individual?

there is no real line between fact and fiction: it is all fiction, all a selection, all the work of man, and sometimes the work of man and God (inspiration) together. the bible is far from the only book to be divinely inspired. "not I but the father within me", as henry miller says.

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I'm the last person to be skeptical of patriarchal authority, believe me. But that's rooted much more deeply in our culture than the Bible. It was the essence of the original Old Time Religion. Read The Ancient City.

100% agree on efficacy being the key thing. I'll have words to say about that in the final chapter.

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Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

To touch on Buddhism a bit since you brought it up,the version that exists across the west is diametrically opposed to the ascetic blood and soil type Buddhism that exists in the east.Listen to Myanmar monks speak of Islam as a parasitic and violent religion and then try to imagine any western ''Buddhist'' say something similar.

This is largely because western Buddhism in general (and American in particular) is just Judaism with a coat of paint.It's infiltrated and run entirely by jews who have the well known ethnical grievances and subversive tendencies we all adore.They have holocaust memorial visits and other philosemitic activities that would shame anyone who takes the faith seriously.Not only is the western model based on a fringe sect,it's also endlessly permissive with nothing like a moral core that one would find in the real deal.Eastern Buddhists don't look favourably on LGBT issues or the endless obsession with blacks or the obvious ethnic flagellation of whites as a whole.

The eastern model is ironically closer to how medieval Christian monks lived.Religious studies,simple food,prayer/meditation,manual labor.A far cry from the political kvetching one finds in the anglo lands.

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I once worked with a woman (very much a SJW) who identified herself as a "Tibetan Buddhist". The poor woman had abandoned her ancestral Irish Catholicism for a rival faith run by ascetic monks with a world-denying faith that gloried in the enserfment and exploitation of peasant-farmers. Old wine and new bottles, IMHO.

Contemporary Western Buddhism is a perfect example of how ideas spread across cultures, like opportunistic viruses infecting those partial to whatever strain of misinterpretation appeals for whatever reason. Christianity spread outside the Roman Empire via missionaries who followed heresies. St Patrick was a Pelagian, the missionaries who converted the Visigoths were follows of Arius, while the Christianity of Sassanid Persia was mostly Nestorian. Culturally authentic forms of Buddhism would have little chance of attracting many followers in the West at present. Christianity itself was formed out of the confusion of traditions that were taken out of context and given new meanings to suit those in charge of the early church.

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Western Buddhism or New Age?

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Manna from heaven. I'm going to retcon my inner motivations for including that bit about Cato's half-sister in my comment on Rolo's blog to be that I included it secretly wishing to have you describe it--as only you could. Not disappointed! LOL.

Just one thing. My opinion on Caesar being a class traitor has been refined recently. I don't think he was. He actually exemplified all the Roman virtues--even as a politician. It's the pond scum optimates who were traitors to Rome and her history, and their own position. They didn't hate him because he betrayed his position. It was because he was 69x the Roman they could ever hope to be. Simply put, he was better than them, at pretty much everything. And they couldn't stand seeing him get exactly what he deserved because of it: everything.

If you haven't yet, you have to check out Robert Morstein-Marx's "Julius Caesar and the Roman People." Just came out last year, and it's mad good. He's a bit more sympathetic to Cicero (but never approaches gag-inducing levels of worship typical of many poser classicists), but he absolutely shreds Cato. So very pleasing, because Cato was the epitome of a sanctimonious little shit.

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I'm gonna have to check out that book.

You're absolutely correct that Caesar embodied republican virtue in its best, most traditional form. Had he been born two centuries earlier he'd have fit right in. Instead, the patricians had degenerated into a corrupt parody of the ideals they publicly praised and privately ignored. So, yes, in that sense the real class traitors were them. But, in the sense that the Roman ruling class was composed of such men, they certainly saw Caesar as a class traitor.

Plus ça change.

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Oh, and that WAS one of the best descriptions of Cicero! He was definitely a gormless prick.

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Simply odious.

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Julius Caesar as the source of Jesus -- I'd never heard that before, but you make some interesting points, and now I can't wait to see how you develop it further. It is a fascinating possibility, and doesn't seem so crazy after reading your article.

I don't know if you've heard of or read Bart Ehrman. He wrote a book, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, and did a "Great Courses" series on the historical Jesus, in which he basically arrives at the conclusion that Jesus probably existed as as an apocalyptic religious figure who studied under and was baptized by John the Baptist, probably predicted the imminent end of the world and the coming of the "Son of Man" (from the Book of Daniel) but likely did not identify himself as the Son of Man and almost certainly never referred to himself as God, definitely got crucified by the Romans but probably was left on the cross to rot and/or was dumped in a mass grave with others who were crucified. His analysis largely relies on just the New Testament writings, and he makes a strong case there for which details are more credible than others. He dismisses the Josephus and pretty much all apocryphal writings as later forgeries, with the possible exception of the sayings in the Coptic gospel of Thomas. Anyway, his analysis seems strong to me (I have done a poor job summarizing here), but with so many New Testament details about Jesus being ahistorical, maybe Julius Caesar is a potential source for some of that legendary material. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on this!

Another historical figure that Bart Ehrman compares Jesus with is Appollonius of Tyana, which is very interesting.

Ehrman is interesting because he started out as a fundamentalist but his studies and analysis led him away from that, and he went where the evidence led.

His blog also has some fascinating stuff about early Christianity and the New Testament: https://ehrmanblog.org/

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Ah yeah I meant to mention Apollonius, although I don't have much to say on the subject other than that he's also been suggested as a Jesus model.

The apocalyptic prophet thing isn't crazy either. I'll be going into that a bit in chapter 3. There was a lot of that going around in Judea at the time, but the tl;dr is that it doesn't quite fit because those guys were violent maniacs that had nothing in common with Jesus really aside from being Jewish preachers. There also isn't really a logical path from some rando street preacher in a backwater inhabited by a hated minority to a world religion enthusiastically embraced by the entire Roman empire.

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Jul 29, 2022·edited Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

A point about apocalypticism. Technically this refers to a species of literature that was used to record or communicate beliefs via imagery and narrative that are closer to fantasy literature than anything else. The apocalyptic texts of both Old and New Testaments served as political pamphlets and chronicles for very explicit purposes that are almost limitless in their obscurity today. But I would never assume that the original authors or readers/listeners were confused about any of the meanings or references. The value of apocalyptic literature to subsequent generations is that it lends itself to supporting just about anything....it is rocket fuel for mobilising people.

A word of caution about making assumptions re cultural appropriation: many, perhaps most, Jews in the ancient world lived outside of Judea proper. At one stage 10% of the Roman Empire were Jews of one sort or another. Pre-Exilic Judaism was not a single religion, but a spectrum of beliefs, cults and communities deeply divided by politics, language and culture. Judaic beliefs were incorporated into syncretic religious practices across both the Roman and Persian empires.

The rationality/urgency of developing a state-approved or elite-sponsored Judaic cult for Greek speaking Jews or near-Jews would have derived from the potential danger that the conversion of non-Jews posed to the status quo. In the Hellenistic era Judaism (if one can even speak of a single religion) was a proselytising faith. The nobility in several of the Semitic provinces of the Persian empire had converted to one or other form of Judaism, most famously the royal family in Adiabene. Many centuries after Christ, the Eastern Roman Empire lost control of most of the Near East to tribes following a cult that had metabolised both Judaic apocalyptcism and Old Testament tradition.

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Exactly correct regarding the nature of apocalyptic literature.

Your point about the political utility of a Judaic cult that would ease the assimilation of Judaic peoples into the imperial community anticipates one of the directions this essay will go in.

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It just occurred to me that there was a degree of symmetry to the formation of religious traditions in the ancient world. Christianity was developed or curated to pacify the western rim of the Near East by breaking with the established traditions specific to one people, while modern post-Second Temple Judaism developed further east in Mesopotamia (which became the centre of gravity of the Jewish world until the high middle ages) to maintain the loyalties of a native population formed by the same traditions (originally brought by exiles, later adapted and successfully proselytised to neighbours). In both cases the process was possible because the people involved in finalising the relevant texts were urban dwellers subject to cultural and political forces that they could not disrupt and to which they had to accommodate. The social and cultural distance from agriculture and the ancient fertility rites that had shaped religion originally created opportunities for the accelerated evolution of narratives via 'revelation', 'prophecy'.

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You make a good point about there not being a logical path from backwater street preaching to world religion. I guess that would be true no matter who Jesus actually would have been historically. Of course, Paul was really the guy that took Christianity to the pagan masses; without him it would have probably stayed a small sect within the ancient Jewish world.

What you said about apocalyptic preachers being violent maniacs made me think of Terry Gilliam's hilarious performance as a street preacher in Life of Brian: https://youtu.be/hmyuE0NpNgE

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Life of Brian is one of the greatest movies ever made.

Don't worry - Paul plays a big role in this story.

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Yes, to Life of Brian -- on so many levels.

I was already interested in what you have to say on this theme, but with Paul in the mix, you just raised my interest exponentially. He's always been such a fascinating person to me, probably because he seems so contradictory in his life and writings, yet profound enough that the apparent contradictions may just be deep paradoxes pointing to an unsayable truth. He strikes me as almost gnostic in some of what he says in some passages, yet he does seem to really believe like a fundamentalist at times; though some of that may be later insertions or pseudonymous writings in his name. But the letters that are generally agreed to be his seem to me to contain a strange mix of fundamentalism and gnosticism. I've never been able to figure him out.

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Have you read Ashworth's "Paul's Necessary Sin"?

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No, but I will check it out. Thanks for the reference!

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A further word on apocalypticism, a lot of the imagery in Biblical literature and especially the sensitive apocrypha and pseudoepigraphic texts refers directly to astronomical phenomenon, including the all-important precessional cycle of the zodiac. In the early 19th c. an Anglican Archbishop in Ulster figured out that some of the texts referring to Enoch must have been written by someone in or around the Caspian Sea. His argument rested on references to celestial observations.

The astral connection was always important because the stars and visible planets were connected with specific gods and each of the gods were linked particular states and cities ruled by kings who claimed descent from those gods. The famous reference to Lucifer in Isaiah was intended for the King of Babylon...this was first properly established in the 17th c.

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Personally, the best answer to the question of “historical” Jesus or not was given by Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”. - Seriously, behind the comedy the Python crew were actually spot on with the historical background to events in the film.

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Life of Brian should be required viewing for everyone, for all sorts of reasons.

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Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

So does this tie into Michael Hudson's book. Where he argues it wasn't forgive them their sins, but instead forgive them their debts.

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Perhaps. I'll say this much - if you're a hard-pressed broke peasant on the edge of selling yourself into slavery, debt forgiveness means a whole hell of a lot more than sin forgiveness.

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Jul 29, 2022·edited Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

Perhaps it's semantics. After all, to settle one's debts is essentially a way to avoid the sin of theft (i.e the result of breaking the oath, in which case one obtains something of value for something of lesser-than-agreed value, or for nothing). Of course it gets more complicated, when usury agents are involved. But I think the general model could be exported outside the monetary context. If I had to boil sin down in the crucible, I'd say "broken promises" would be the final residue.

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Re Hudson and debt-forgiveness, I'd say no. The financial context of the New Testament story about the money-changers in the Temple is not a reference to debt at all. The money-changers enabled pilgrims to make offerings using coins minted for that purpose, that is, coins which did not contain graven images that were potentially offensive. The original meaning of the parable was antinomian, to disparage the established Temple authorities and diminish the significance of following Mosaic law to the letter.

The Church's ban on loaning money at interest came only in the middle ages. At that stage the parable would have become useful in fabricating the image of Christ as anti-finance.

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Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, have you looked at Hudson's argument?

It is not based solely on money lenders in the template, but debt in the ancient world, compound interest and the debt forgiveness, (or debt Jubilee), first mentioned in the bible Lev 25. The ancient world since since Hammurabi understood that compound interest would grow out of control till it took so much out of the real economy to service, economies|societies would collapse - so a debt jubilee would happen around every fifty years - or with a new ruler. Hudson argues that the controversy of Jesus was his first sermon proclaimed a jubilee and that the phrase 'forgive them their sins' is a mistranslation. And it was that the message that got Jesus killed - not the religion.

While it is somewhat different to John Carter's argument - I was struck at the similarity between the themes of Hudson's argument and Caesar's known views. Some historian's and Hudson itself, argue that Rome fell because of its takeover by creditor elites. Historically no monarchy or government has survived takeover by creditor elites | oligarchs.

My interest in economics, in New Zealand (in the 1984) our 'insulated economy' was abandoned for neoliberal economics, known as rogernomics here. Unemployment went from an average of 500 people per annum for nearly thirty years to about 82,000 unemployed in ten years - which brought + ingrained associated social problems. Jane Kelsey describes this as the FIRE economy, an economy dominated by Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. NZ's GDP is propped up by real estate prices, and productive industry has collapsed. So I can say that John Carter's comment above is true - debt forgiveness matters more than ones forgiveness of sin.

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That isn't just NZ. The false, parasitic economy of FIRE has taken over every western country, and we're all much the poorer for it. As you note, it's a struggle that's been going on for thousands of years.

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There is no single struggle, per se. The issue recurs in vastly different circumstances across the ages.

The takeover of the US by FIRE was made possible (perhaps inevitable) given changes in the economy from the 60s (changes in the rate of productivity growth, changes in the rate of profitability across specific industries) plus a series of political and social changes. The US has used debt as an instrument of statecraft in its foreign affairs since WW1 (the UK did this too).

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I'd say the two most salient events were the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 and Nixon's abandonment of the gold standard in 1972. The latter in particular seems to be associated with a large number of very bad societal trends.

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The creation of the Bank of International Settlements in 1930 and the IMF in 1945 were arguably equally significant. Finance is a global system and has been so for over a century. Too few understand just how fully integrated it is. Standard commercial and household/personal banking are fully integrated into a system that connects just about all economically active people on the planet. Control over the key institutional nodes of connection is essential for regime survival. Without the global markets to soak up US debt the system would have melted down by now.

Nixon's decision marked a turning point. The decision was a masterpiece of geopolitical cunning that extended and fortified US hegemony and set the US up for eventually developing the capacity to force the USSR to call off the Cold War (the Malta Summit of 1989), albeit at an escalating domestic cost.

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Jul 30, 2022·edited Jul 30, 2022Liked by John Carter

I have read some of Hudson's earlier works (which are extraordinarily good) but not the one on debt forgiveness. My reply was formed only on a very narrow focus on one parable. The possibility that Jesus had a 'jubilee' agenda makes sense...it would certainly have explained the hostility of the Roman authorities and the Herodian elite.

This angle of inquiry would go a long way towards explaining why it was the Judaic regions of the Mediterranean that proved so difficult for Rome in the period of Jesus and thereafter. Second Temple Judaism had retained the the original jubilee-expectation originally developed in the temple-states and city-states of the Near East while Judaism (unlike paganism) functioned as a self-consciously national force, maintaining expectations of social cohesion and reciprocity between creditor and debtor that were unworkable within the framework of Roman economic policy. This would explain the very distinctive class war quality of the whole situation very well.

Should John wish to explore debt-forgiveness in the ancient world, he'd be well advised to look up Hudson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cosetlrgytA

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Mythologies often receive this kind of treatment. That said, As we can smell the whiff of truth lurking in the background behind these myths while finding no calibration source other than our own experience to measure the stories against, and precious little science, we are left high and dry.

One frequent stumbling point are those pesky miracles. It does not really help to have staunch believers exhorting one to “have faith” when the reports cannot be cohered with our own epistomy.

Well, it turns out that there is evidence of “miracles,” acts which for most are not possible, which arise from ancient practices that were able to withstand the entropy of ages passing. I refer to the work of Dr. William Tiller, a professor at UCLA who arranged for a series of meditations populated with adepts.

The adepts were given specific directions as to the outcome desired and the rituals performed before, during, and after and were precise. Here are some of the projects on which they engaged:

1. Meditate on a jar of PH 7 purified water and lower the PH to 6.0. It was successful. Remember here that wine and vinegar are related.

2. Meditate on a group of juvenile fruit flies to promote their health and happiness. The result was that the flies grew faster and larger and more survived to adulthood.

There were several others with increasing wow factors. But you see the point. Since these conscious acts of “creation” were independently verified, let us take them at face value.

So it is possible to imagine a great adept who could return the sick to their healthy form, turn water into wine, even perhaps raise the dead. It all depends on the proper spiritual context for these skills and the clear mind and will to accomplish them. Most of the people who do not hold that these things are possible have not tried to develop them.

So with this in mind, if we review the ancient stories against the backdrop of modern physics, as Farrell shows in “the Cosmic War”, we can see that the hopelessly garbled ancient stories have a basis in science (which is repeatable and consistent measurements and results).

Lastly, as the Fall of Mankind has proceeded, his language has been reduced, and his powers have declined in pace with it. The ancients spoke languages that were analogical (a weak example is ancient Chinese), multiple level, using the full consciousness of expression. So, boiling down Logos to modern English results in a difficult to believe muddle.

So these are some of the challenges this kind of discussion faces. But let’s have it, as it is alot better than watching the creep state pretend everything is great while the columns fall around them like the final scene in the Fall of Atlantis.

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I certainly don't fully rule out apparently miraculous phenomena - although if they occurred they merely point to our model of reality being insufficient (which, of a necessity, it is). But, as an empiricist, I tend to want to explain things in terms that don't require 'magic' - meaning things that go outside of reality as I understand it.

In any case, take this discussion as a bit of fun. The hypothesis that I'm going to unfold isn't necessarily true - that's unkowable. But I do think it's very interesting.

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Clarke taught that sufficiently advanced tech is indistinguishable from magic. My bet is we were visited by aliens. We just haven't been interesting enough for any of them to introduce themselves.

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I may well write about this at some point.

Lack of interest is one possibility. Camouflage has other implications in nature, however.

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Jul 30, 2022Liked by John Carter

<E.T. (Edward Teller) looks worried>

💬 Von Kármán must have been talking.

😎

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Jul 29, 2022·edited Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

there was no sense in my reading of your post that would lead me to believe that you were ruling out the stories. dr. Tillers work was highly empirical. again it doesn’t get us to our central thesis, which is the question of whether Yeshua was an amalgam.

another thing that must be kept firmly in mind when discussing Christianity is the issue of the two Europe’s. The Christianity that emerged in the west was combined with paganism, Roman politics, and the mythologies of Western Europe. It was much different in the east. The east seems to have stayed closer to the original patristic tradition. There were fewer mistakes. And that’s one reason why that faith in the East remains so strong.

For Further reading, try “God, History, and Dialectic”, volume 1.

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"The east seems to have stayed closer to the original patristic tradition. There were fewer mistakes."

That presumes that the pagan elements in Catholicism are mistakes ... and that there's anything original about the Biblical tradition itself. Russell Gmirkin's work makes a strong argument that the Torah is largely inspired by Hellenistic philosophy and mythology.

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The Torah reflects many ancient sources. It reads like a Reader’s Digest condensed book. Chapter one reflects not only the Hellenes, but also the Olmec. Chapter two comes to us straight out of Sumeria. It is as if many cultures recorded the same events, and after the great cataclysm and the receding civilization, they took to preserving knowledge through stories, which became garbled over time.

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Of course you are right. It would take a long time to explain why the decisions in the west were unfortunate.

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It's complicated, isn't it?

Personally I have more respect for the Orthodox, in a contemporary context, than the modern Catholic Church. Orthobros have a tradition and principles and that's a lot right there.

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the main problem for the west was the complete absorption of dialectic, which has had significant consequences for the west (and everyone else.).

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Good points, but when it comes to the Gospels, two separate issues, I think. In other words, the presence of miracles (contra rationalists) is not reason to dismiss them. But that's not to say the stories are real either. Marks miracle stories are all highly symbolic, and many directly inspired by OT stories. In a time when miracles were widely accepted as possible and real, their presence could be simply a matter of verisimilitude.

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Understanding that mind (even God mind) can rearrange reality is not “contra rationalism”. It has been scientifically proven. Those that deny these results are the contra rationalist faction. What is called rational today is really just material experience. Also, the term is either or dialectic, instead of analogical “quadlectic.” Both reason and miracles exist together.

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Agreed, kind of. When I wrote contra rationalism I did not mean contra reason. Just contra the self-styled rationalists who have historically called themselves rationalist, and denied these very things for so-called "rationalist" reasons. Yeah, they may be fundamentally irrational in actual fact, but I don't mind calling them by what they've called themselves for several hundred years.

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Thank you for the clarification, and if my response was perceived as critical of you, That was not my intent.

I do admit to a certain amount of passion away from materialism and its anti-human qualities.

Many many books have been written on reason and faith. If you do the work, faith grows into deep knowledge and a more perfect freedom. That’s not to say it’s for everyone, only available to everyone.

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No problem, Kelly. Thank you!

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Another AI-inspired portrait, using just the Arles bust: https://www.reddit.com/r/ColorizedStatues/comments/i92t37/julius_caesar_arles_bust_using_artbreeder/

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Top commenter there is right, strong Daniel Craig vibes.

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Jul 31, 2022·edited Jul 31, 2022Liked by John Carter

Greetings John. I'm so happy I came upon your current series of articles , and it's a very intriguing, pertinent and relevant matter. Your writing skills are admirable. Our history has been muddied by lies and deceit that what you are doing to unravel it all is quite a herculean endeavor, but one the world sorely needs. Now this brings me to the dilemma I face and the kind request I'm attaching to it. These article will reach many an audience, of various nations and cultural backgrounds, I have no doubt about that. I'm from Africa, born and raised. The use of certain words, although are common in current normal, casual talk usage in the Western world, are very much felt as quite intrusive, embarrassing, unnecessary, uncomfortable and even rude. I was and still am hesitant to Tweet this first article of the series (although I did Tweet the second one) knowing the audience it will reach - Parents and their children, elderly, simple conservative humble people etc, because of the reaction they would have to the use of the *F* word, when describing Cato and Caesar's interaction. As I said, I believe these articles will reach a wide audience and should be considerate of their various backgrounds. So, a kind and humble request, and if you feel it's reasonable - Could you please use or restate that part of the article. Otherwise, eagerly looking forward to the rest of the series. Sincere Regards.

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Heh. Cultural differences are a funny thing. F-bombs don't even make us blink here, such is the state of the degraded West. Since you ask so very nicely, I can edit that out.

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Awwww...You are too gracious sir...Thank you. Gracias. 🥰

Since I'm now in the limelight and taking advantage of my 2 seconds of internet relevance and blitz😁 , I would love your commentaries/article/thoughts - only if you think it's worth the time and efforts and interest - on something not directly connected to the current thread, but of near similar dynamics I think.

And this is on none other than Elvis Presley, and not the superficial on the surface Elvis touted by Mainstream everything, but Elvis the spiritual seeker of the divine within. Apart from very few who have talked of this aspect of Elvis, I think the most well known is Larry Geller (Elvis' friend and personal hairdresser), who claims in the Appendix of one of his books on Elvis ' If I Can Dream: Elvis' Own Story ' that " Throughout his Life, Elvis Read over a thousand different works, encompassing a wide range of subjects related to philosophy, spiritual teachings and esoteric arts. His private collection, largely lost or destroyed since his death, consisted of nearly a thousand books, three hundred of which he took with him wherever he went...." he further lists the titles of Elvis' favorite books which he read and reread and distributed to friends.. The books listed are just a phenomenal collection. The last book he was holding and reading when he died was "The Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus" by Frank O. Adams.. about the Shroud of Turin.

How many know or care about this aspect of Elvis ?

At the very least, for all the joy his radiance brought to us, We owe him this much - To let the world know the real, genuine, true Elvis Presley.

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deletedJul 31, 2022Liked by John Carter
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Well now I'm torn. Some hate it, some love it. What to do?

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deletedJul 31, 2022Liked by John Carter
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... forgive me?

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Hahaha

To wonder whether to be forgiven or to be bestowed upon "Clementia Caesaris", is in itself an acknowledgement of a mistake, or at least a suspicion of such....

To rephrase Nina Rose's question : What would Caesar Do..?

And you provide the best answer in your own unique articulate way, which I'll just copy paste from the article -

" His clemency only went so far. In general, he would give his enemies precisely one chance to redeem themselves. Should they renege on their friendship and renew their enmity, Caesar would simply revert to time-honoured Roman custom and ruin them utterly. “Welp, we tried this the easy way.” "

Ave

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Ho boy! Maybe you're a girl? You've got some brains reeling through the RAM!!! Thank you for your absolutely beautiful choice of words, and poignant explanations of stuff we never thought would come to fruition! Merci mec, même si tu es une nana! It is a delight to read your thoughts! Serious hugs from Québec.

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Jul 29, 2022·edited Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

I initially promised myself not to comment until I've read the theory in its entirety. And I'll mostly keep to that.

First, I'm glad these comments haven't devolved into the explosive spike in popcorn futures I feared it might. If explorations and thought experiments alone count as heresy, then exposure to such heresy is preferable to the mechanical invocations of the faithful. In my understanding of the situation, the less we find ourselves grappling with the mysteries of God, the greater the likelihood that we've made a separate peace with something diabolical.

Second: Yes, Horatio; the story of Jesus Christ sure-as-fuck is "wondrous strange." I can think of no story more infuriating to wrestle with (and I've read a ton of infuriating bullshit over the years). The notion that a person (who I've seen some in these comments lament as a "street preacher", but a philosopher-artist in my own reckoning) could have manifested in anything like the form presented by the Gospels should rightly beggar belief.

Not just the miracles, mind you, but the entire arc of this person's story thus far, which extends well past the natural lives not just of any possible contemporary, but of whole empires, languages and architectures of thought. It would be like a Powerpoint business plan, at the start of which you show one of those public domain photos of a smiling office drone, and at the end a detailed schematic for a Dyson sphere factory. Some motherfucker tries to sell me on that shit, and I throw them right out of the building. How could any of it possibly be real?

And that's all I'll say for now. :)

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Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

Jesus was a common name. There are several others in the Bible, even an OT character with a book named after him - Joshua. But the name does mean Savior, and generally all Hebrew names had meanings.

Your discussion doesn’t (yet) address the biblical complications of having been written in at least three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, in that chronological order. Greek was the English of its time, and it’s quite understandable that Hebrews would have used it among themselves. The point being that “christos” is merely the Greek translation of “mâšiyaḥ” into Greek both referring to anointing, (smearing) with oil.

Nothing to see here as far as an invented title of a fictional person.

Your discussion doesn’t (yet) deal with the substantial Hebrew background of the historical claim. You even leave Judaism out of your list of world religions. But this has to be addressed, right?

I admit finding the theory you present as pretty far fetched, but I’m attracted by dissonant voices - it’s probably how I ended up here. So from as deep a place of skepticism of your view as is possible — say on, young man, say on.

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Honestly, I find the fact that the New Testament was written mostly in Greek, rather than Aramaic, to be a bit weird. Greek was indeed the lingua franca, but one would expect a Jewish cult to write first in their own language, and later to translate. Maybe the originals were lost? But that's speculation. As far as we know the documents were originally written in Greek.

As to Judaism being a world religion, I don't think it qualifies. It gets lumped in with Islam and Christianity, but their numbers are not and never were enough to qualify as a major faith. Were it not for the connection to Christianity and Islam, Judaism would be entirely irrelevant. Frankly, leaving Zoroastrianism out was a larger oversight, historically speaking.

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The Jews were already scattered from previous dispersions by the time of Jesus, and Israel was always a very cosmopolitan nation compared with other ancient nations. Christianity grew from the root of Israel and was therefore a proselytizing and world focused religion from the outset. The Psalms are full of Jahweh’s concern to be glorified “among the gentiles,” and Jahweh could be either merciful or judgmental on the gentile nations. But individually, full adoption/conversion was hindered by the requirement of male circumcision. This severely limited the number of adult males willing to fully embrace the Mosaic law, and many who believed in Jahweh contented themselves with being orbiting God-fearing gentiles.

Christianity only endured for a short time as an exclusively Jewish cult. Even during that time, great efforts were made to convert unbelieving Jews. However, some Jewish converts believed that circumcision was required for Gentiles professing faith in Jesus, ie. they had to essentially become Jews. This, and the keeping of the Mosaic laws concerning diet, animal sacrifice, etc. formed the major controversy until the destruction of Jerusalem finally put an end to the Temple sacrifices and destroyed what had been the Mosaic religion for centuries. But even before the destruction of Jerusalem, just 40 years after Jesus death, circumcision, the dietary laws, animal sacrifices and the Jewish holy days were waived for gentile converts. (I know you are deeply skeptical of history, biblical history even more so, but if you’re going to reject it, at least you should reject it as it’s presented.) Peter is described as violating the dietary laws by eating with gentiles shortly after Jesus’ death, and Paul’s entire campaign of proselytizing gentiles depended on the repudiation of circumcision.

But the point is that due to the scattering of the Jews and the likely erosion of a common language, Greek was naturally used. For the Jews of the dispersion, neither Hebrew (very difficult language) nor Aramaic were their first languages. Coupled with the radically proselytizing nature of Christianity, Greek was a completely unsurprising choice.

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Jul 29, 2022·edited Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

John, you are certainly keeping the newsletter fresh with new topics. There are several points that may be worth considering.

Firstly, the Jesus of the Gospels is a composite figure. There were most likely several figures named Jesus with disparate, even contradictory political and theological characteristics that inevitably confused those who are looking for a single person from which to spin a consistent or stable religious agenda. In this, the history of the New Testament repeats that of the Old, in which an understanding of god is developed from contrasting sources and traditions within the Israelite amphictyony (portions of which were of Canaanite origin, others Mesopotamian and some possibly Egyptian).

Secondly, the geopolitics of the Near East needs to be taken into account. The hostility of the Gospels towards the Pharisees is difficult to account for, given the fact that the ethical teachings of Jesus were identical to those of the Pharisees themselves, until you remember that the expression Pharisee derives from a Hebrew/Aramaic expression for 'Persianizer'. The Pharisees were following the lead of the Jewish community in Mesopotamia (where around 40% of the population was Jewish) and historically the Judean temple-state had been an enthusiastic client/ally of successive Persian dynasties. At one stage of their empire the Persians even garrisoned parts of Egypt with Jewish troops. Later, at the time of the Gospels the Jewish community inside the western rim of the Persian empire were wealthier, freer and more content than their counterparts in Judea. The authors of the Gospels were also clearly hostile to the Temple hierarchy, the Sadducees who led the priestly caste. The Sadducees were likely also secretly pro-Persian (though for purely political reasons, rather than religious ones).

Rome was in almost non-stop rivalry with both Arsacid and later Sassanid Iran and stigmatising those with real or potential loyalties or interests towards Persia/Iran would have been a priority for anyone pushing a pro-Roman agenda.

Thirdly, we know absolutely nothing about the Zealots except from their enemies, above all Flavius Josephus (a Judean aristocrat who switched sides and ended up living in Rome). The Jewish rebellions against Rome were not so much religious movements, but uprisings against land-owners and officials that escalated into wider upheavals. The only remotely comparable phenomenon in the classical world were the slave uprisings in peninsular Italy and Sicily in late Republican times (the so-called Servile Wars). Comparisons with the Taliban are misleading. In general, analogical thinking will very quickly lead anyone astray on subjects as remote or complex like this.

Finally, given your interest in heterodox or controversial approaches, you may be interested in the work of Morton Smith (https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/gospel-secrets-biblical-controversies-morton-smith/) or Joseph Atwill (http://www.caesarsmessiah.com/).

If you ever have the time or opportunity, Carl Gustav Jung apparently wrote some rarely-read stuff on Christ the man (as opposed to his widely read stuff on Christ the archetype) which explained the psychic significance of the Virgin Birth narrative in historical context. This was presumably informed by Jung's understanding of fertility rites, the cult of Isis and and the somatic-cognitive experience of ritual spirit possession and ego-inflation.

For what it is worth, I suspect that the historical Jesus was born into something like a mystery-cult that drew on heterodox, Egyptianising, interpretations of the Old Testament and the garbled details got written up as a polemic for the edification of Greek-speaking Jews living through the upheavals of the late first and early second century. Successive generations of readers then spun it all into dogma. Good luck sorting out the confusion.

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The composite literary figure is an important component of this, as you'll see. Atwill's hypothesis also plays a role here.

I strongly agree that none of this can be understood outside of a political context, given that religion and politics were tightly intertwined at that time (as indeed continues to be the case, albeit somewhat more subtley than during antiquity). I'll confess to knowing more about the Roman empire than about the Persian, and your perspective there is valuable.

Josephus is practically the definition of an unreliable narrator. And that's without taking into account later redactions and insertions. Sorting through his history of the Jewish war is an epistemic nightmare, but unfortunately it's practically all we have to go on.

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Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

Fascinating— thanks for writing about it.

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Jul 29, 2022Liked by John Carter

I am unable to comment with the clarity and depth of the other posters, but doesn't Caesars treatment of Vercingetorix argue against your narrative?

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I agree, it wasn't at all in character. My guess is that Caesar made a calculated move that the scale and gravity of Vercingetorix's revolt couldn't be allowed to pass without reprisal. But that's speculation on my part. You're right to point out the inconsistency, although I'd argue it's with Caesar's character as demonstrated in numerous other incidents.

Long story short, none of us always live up to our own ideals.

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Plus there's the fact that his policy of clemency primarily had to do with other Romans. His character was probably such that he could even inspire adoration from Gauls, and he probably exaggerated his kill count in his commentaries, but when it came to actual war (against foreigners, not his own countrymen), his rules were different.

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That's an important distinction. Given the behavior of Sulla, it was still quite a departure from Roman norms.

Still, I have the impression that once a people had been conquered, his goal was for them to ultimately become Roman citizens. There are examples in the commentaries of his applying the clemency principle to the Gauls ... although in some cases it was still pretty harsh, as in the incident where he had a tribe's hands cut off rather than having them put to death or taken as slaves. Mercy doesn't necessarily mean no punishment is applied, I guess; in context, it can just mean that the punishment is much less than what could have been done.

All that said, I don't consider the Vercingetorix incident to have been Caesar's proudest moment.

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