Wednesday, June 13, 2007

THE MAN AND THE SCAM

These passages are the last I have taken from Holy Blood, Holy Grail to titillate your interest in, perhaps, reading the entire book. It was from this book that the book, The DaVinci Code, was made and upon that book, the movie was made. The following snippet briefly outlines how the Christian “message” and the man, Jesus, became separate. You have to read the entire book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, to understand some the references which are included in these paragraphs.

[SNIP]
We were well aware, of course, that our scenario did not concur with established Christian teachings. But the more we researched, the more apparent it became that those teachings, as they have been passed down through the centuries, represent only a highly selective compilation of fragments subjected to stringent expurgation and revision. The New Testament, in other words, offers a portrait of Jesus and his age that conforms to the needs of certain vested interests—of certain groups and individuals who had, and to a significant degree still have, an important stake in the matter. And anything that might compromise or embarrass these interests—like the "secret" Gospel of Mark, for example—has been duly excised. So much has been excised, as a matter of fact, that a sort of vacuum has been created. In this vacuum speculation becomes both justified and necessary.

If Jesus was a legitimate claimant to the throne, it is probable that he was supported, at least initially, by a relatively small percentage of the populace—his immediate family from Galilee, certain other members of his own aristocratic social class, and a few strategically placed representatives in Judaea and the capital city of Jerusalem. Such a following, albeit distinguished, would hardly have been sufficient to ensure the realization of his objectives—the success of his bid for the throne. In consequence he would have been obliged to recruit a more substantial following from other classes—in the same way that Bonnie Prince Charlie, to pursue a previous analogy, did in 1745.

How does one recruit a sizable following? Obviously by promulgating a message calculated to enlist their allegiance and support. Such a message need not necessarily have been as cynical as those associated with modern politics. On the contrary, it may have been promulgated in perfectly good faith, with thoroughly noble and burning idealism, But despite its distinctly religious orientation, its primary objective would have been the same as those of modern politics—to ensure the adherence of the populace. Jesus promulgated a message that attempted to do just that—to offer hope to the downtrodden, the afflicted, the disenfranchised, the oppressed. In short, it was a message with a promise, If the modern reader overcomes his prejudices and preconceptions on the matter, he will discern a mechanism extraordinarily akin to that visible everywhere in the world today—a mechanism whereby people are, and always have been, united in the name of a common cause and welded into an instrument for the overthrow of a despotic regime. The point is that Jesus' message was both ethical and political. It was directed to a particular segment of the populace in accordance with political considerations. For it would only have been among the oppressed, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, and the afflicted that he could have hoped to recruit a sizable following. The Sadducees, who had come to terms with the Roman occupation, would have been as loath as all the Sadducees throughout history to part with what they possessed, or to risk their security and stability.

Jesus' message, as it appears in the Gospels, is neither wholly new nor wholly unique. It is probable that he himself was a Pharisee, and his teachings contain a number of elements of Pharisaic doctrine. As the Dead Sea Scrolls attest, they also contain a number of important aspects of Essene thought. But if the message, as such, was not entirely original, the means of transmitting it probably was. Jesus himself was undoubtedly an immensely charismatic individual. He may well have had an aptitude for healing and other such "miracles." He certainly possessed a gift for communicating his ideas by means of evocative and vivid parables—which did not require any sophisticated training in his audience, but were accessible, in some sense, to the populace at large. Moreover, unlike his Essene precursors, Jesus was not obliged to confine himself to forecasting the advent of a Messiah. He could claim to be that Messiah, And this, quite naturally, would have imparted a much greater authority and credibility to his words.

It is clear that by the time of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem Jesus had recruited a following. But this following would have been composed of two quite distinct elements—whose interests were not precisely the same. On the one hand, there would have been a small nucleus of "initiates"—immediate family, other members of the nobility, wealthy and influential supporters, whose primary objective was to see their candidate installed on the throne. On the other hand, there would have been a much larger entourage of "common people"—the "rank and file" of the movement, whose primary objective was to see the message, and the promise it contained, fulfilled. It is important to recognize the distinction between these two factions. Their political objective—to establish Jesus on the throne-would have been the same. But their motivations would have been essentially different.

When the enterprise failed, as it obviously did, the uneasy alliance between these two factions—"adherents of the message" and adherents of the family—would seem to have collapsed. Confronted by debacle and the threat of imminent annihilation, the family would have placed a priority on the single factor that, from time immemorial, has been of paramount importance to noble and royal families—preservation of the bloodline at all costs, if necessary in exile. For the "adherents of the message," however, the family's future would have become irrelevant; for them survival of the bloodline would have been of secondary consequence. Their primary objective would have been perpetuation and dissemination of the message.

Christianity, as it evolves through its early centuries and eventually comes down to us today, is a product of the "adherents of message." The course of its spread and development has been too widely charted by other scholars to necessitate much attention here. Suffice it to say that with Saint Paul "the message" had already begun to assume a crystallized and definitive form, and this form became the basis on which the whole theological edifice of Christianity was erected. By the time the Gospels were composed, the basic tenets of the new religion were virtually complete.

The new religion was oriented primarily toward a Roman or Romanized audience. Thus, the role of Rome in Jesus' death was, by necessity, whitewashed, and guilt was transferred to the Jews. But this was not the only liberty taken with events to render them palatable to the Roman world. For the Roman world was accustomed to defying its rulers, and Caesar had already been officially instated as a god. In order to compete, Jesus-whom nobody had previously deemed divine—had to be deified as well. In Paul’s hands he was.
[PASTE]

1 comment:

Biby Cletus said...

Hi i just surfed in searching for interesting facts on Essenes in the blogs.
you have a cool blog. Do keep up the good work. I'll be back for more. i live
far from where you live. its nice to be able to see what people from across
the world thinks.

On a related note perhaps you might find the following article interesting.
we are currently doing a series of posts on essenes and their culture and i'll
like to hear your take on the subject via comments. See ya there....

Historical
Facts on Essene Culture


Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.
Bijoy Cletus - Kerala, India