The Birth of Christos
In searching for an historical Christos within the community it may be best to give details of the times.
Herod the Great reigned from 37 BC and died in 4 BC. To the contemporary Jewish writers their history would be cyclical ever enlarging and ascending. They needed to document a remembrance from the time of Judas Maccabees’ great victory to the impending decline. So here is a quick point summary of the historical facts as we know them:
- From Judas Maccabees the Hasmoneans ruled God’s people with a fist of iron.
- Civil war soon broke out. Hyrcanus and Aristibulus looked towards Rome for support (just as many Jews had looked to Alexander – 1 Macc.). There was a chasm between the starving indebted poor in the countryside and the landed aristocracy.
- In 63 BC Judea became a distant Roman province. The local Jewish leaders, the landed aristocracy, comprising the priestly class, maintained control. Judea was a very small population, very insignificant and was at the far end of the Roman imperium.
- In the circumstances Rome liaised directly with the Sanhedrin’s high priest. Rome’s only influence was through the Temple establishment.
- The Sanhedrin did not have to worship the emperor. They maintained their independence, their temples unmolested.
- The Romans never pressed the Jews on their concept of One God.
- Herod the Great was appointed in 37 BC. Herod was a young Jewish nobleman from Idumea. His father Antipater had full administrative powers without Roman interference. Herod became a very energetic supporter of Rome. He became known as a client-king.
- Herod’s reign is known for excess and brutish acts of cruelty. He massacred nearly every member of the Sanhedrin, replaced the Temple priests. He redistributed power to a new class of Jews. He was allowed to rule as he saw fit.
- Many rebellious Jewish sects arose in his reign but there was no insurrection in Herod’s tenure.
- The Pharisees, lower and middle class rabbis and scholars, interpreted the laws for the populace requiring strict obedience.
- The Sadducees were from wealthier landowning families but were a separate entity from the Temple priests.
- Herod initiated colossal monumental building and public works. He coerced tens of thousands of peasants into day labour projects. He permanently changed the physical landscape. He built infrastructure markets, theatres, palaces and ports (Caesarea Maritima), fortresses (Masada and Herodium) all modelled in alignment to classical Hellenic style.
- He introduced crushing taxes. He built Hellenised gymnasia, Greek amphitheatres, and Roman baths at Jerusalem with Roman colonnades. Coins bearing Greek letters circulated and pagan insignia appeared.
- Herod’s palace was built with a Roman golden eagle over its portal.
- Insurrection broke out on the death of Herod in 4BC – bandits and zealots, and numerous sects splintered. Insurrections began and regional towns burnt.
- Tradition has it that a child was born at this time and lived for approximately 40 years.
Was there a Historical Christ?
Searching for a historical Christ has always been challenging. Outside the NT there is no trace of him. Josephus’ skimpy passage reference in Antiquities comes well after Paul’s Epistles – late 40-50s AD and the very sophisticated and highly structured book of Revelation – 70 AD. John of Patmos’s technique is uniquely differentiated and completely reliant on the OT as source of his metaphors – 7 messengers, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 plagues, sacred and civil 1260 days, man-child, the beasts (Saul (lion), David (bear), Solomon (leopard- 666), Israel (10 tribes -horns) and Judah (7 kings – heads), the dragon, Babylon the Great and much more. Neither of these formative narratives mentioned a contemporary historical figure – as it was never about a person, rather a unity of purpose of the populace. They directed their work to Jews, about Jewish governance, not to outsiders. Their concern was always about their Jewish distinctive way of life and survival.
Some commentators claim Jesus was part of a large family that included at least four bothers – James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and say this is attested to by the later gospels and the letters of Paul. To do this they claim it is correct and deny Mary’s perpetual virginity. These theorists fail to realise Jesus was a personified story – derived from Ruth’s Mary (bitterness), Joseph (increaser, son of supplanter Jacob, of the multitude), Hezekiah (Immanuel – the man-child) of the O.T. stories. Paul was declaring “his” gospel to counteract the resurgence government and religious order – of literalism, that became orthodoxy and eventually traditional Christianity.
To Paul, history was not a matter of uncovering facts, but of revealing truths and the only truth that mattered was that the population was in severe bondage, persecuted into indebtedness to the landed aristocracy. When for example Paul said “save James the Lord’s brother” – Gal. 1:19 he was out to preach “his” personified gospel to the 97% illiterate, those not scribes and scholars. He was now out to reinvigorate the despondent masses. His work is purely a personified story and his virgin (bitterness – without God) could go on to family life. Within that family, members could be differentiated and the personalities like James and Peter would need coverage. He was not out there telling a factual literal story. There was no history as we know it today. It was always a discovery of truth of the ascent of the human race. He always placed truth first and foremost and used stories to tell “his” gospel. The truth was that people, the cosmological creation, were impoverished. Evolution was always supposed to be enrichment.
Then we have Mark’s gospel which is quite unsatisfactory to most Christians. There is no infancy narrative. No genealogy. No mother, no father, no progeny. There is no resurrection. Then we have Matthew and Luke written later between 90 and 100 AD. These have conflicting infancy narratives. They contain a series of elaborate resurrection narratives which Christian readers claim great satisfaction. Scholars claim Mathew and Luke must have relied upon an earlier document named Q (German for Quelle), or “source”. There is no copy of this document, no proven existence.
Now the Synoptics (viewed together) is greatly at odds with the fourth gospel, John written later from 100-120 AD. My aim, in later articles, is to show how John’s fourth gospel supports Paul and John of Patmos. Like Paul, Johns gospel shows no interest in Jesus’s physical birth. Jesus is an eternal presence from the beginning of time, being the primal force from which all creation sprang. Christianity cannot understand this characteristic personification “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” – John 1:3. So Jesus, a personification, was of the priesthood of Melchisedec, without parents, eternal. This is quiet alienated from the western golden calf espoused in the Jesus saves slogan – “he saved a wretch like me”.
Now commentators go on to say this establishes two facts:
- Jesus was a Jew. That Rome crucified Jesus on a cross despite the NT stating that Christ was hanged on a tree – they fail to understand the crossing of the Jewish payment made by Paul and the community.
- Rome is then blamed by this scholarship for everything ignoring the fact that it was a Jewish book written for Jews. The synoptics fail to mention the most catastrophic act of 70 AD by Rome. Rome was never the subject of the writers. Commentators forget Paul journeyed to Rome and lived there in peace for two years until his death.
To traditional scholarship these two fundamental tenets substantiate their whole belief system. Jesus is never mentioned without Rome predominating – look at any website.
Such simplistic scholarship is woefully inadequate as it avoids the following:
- Paul’s epistles deny an historical Christ. Paul’s writings are all about his epiphany – about his Christos. Paul, a Pharisee, renounced his complete past allegiance to the Jewish oppressive style of governance. Paul found Christos in the rebellion of the populace – starting from the reign of Herod the Great– taxes, forced poverty, great labour building works – cities, ports, migration from rural to urban centres and subsequent Massacre of the Innocents.
- Paul knew that the Pharisees and Sadducees adopted Christ as an historical figure – something wayward Christianity clasps onto. It was exceedingly convenient for the Pharisees who preached an afterlife. It was convenient to the Sadducees who wanted to ensure no further insurrection. Paul glorified Christos, the energy displayed by the populace and extravagantly by many zealots and bandits. Rebellion had occurred in many towns after Herod’s death. Rome still left the administration to the Jews and the procurators were not appointed to the fourth decade. And then very unsuccessfully with little influence and rapidly changed.
- John of Patmos started Revelation with the words “The revelation of Jesus Christ” – Rev. 1:1. Revelation is highly structured and must have been in formation for several decades. It drew metaphors and allegories from past recall of oral history and written history over the past millennium. Both Paul and especially John of Patmos were concerned about the Ascent of Mankind – not simply evolution, not science, not mathematics, not medicine all remarkably advancements. It was action “Today”. Paul was focused on the unison of the cosmological with its consciousness. Mindfulness had enabled oral recollections (remembrance) to be written down of previous bondages (Egyptian, Babylonian, and Grecian). Form had to be created from chaos and the writers used numerous types, antitypes to construct archetype, to create reflective form. The hunter gather society had evolved from a perceived sacred-civil balance. After phonetics the inkhorn became the greatest weapon opposing possessiveness and the masculine warrior milieu. It was their solitary weapon and was named the “Word of God” by John of Patmos. Jesus Christ was the composite personified name for the “Word of God” as experienced – the anointing (Christos) of the increaser (Joseph) – fathering further the multitude. A sudden light from the east struck Paul. John of Patmos carried on that acute perception universally dimensioning on his travels.
The later Synoptics confirm that it was the governance of the Jewish race, acquiescence and duplicity of government, that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The writers of the synoptics of course deliberately never mentioned Rome, never the event of 70 AD, even though writing later than their apocalyptic catastrophe. Their sole purpose was to document what lead to the fall of the Jewish nation. In their eyes it was the complicity of governance. It was a repetition of the last seven kings of Judah after Hezekiah, leading to Babylonian captivity. Hezekiah, Immanuel, the man-child, Wonderful, Counsellor had initiated the rebuilding of the Temple. Then evil government corruption of the seven kings brought decline. Contemporary life was also a sequel to many Jews joining with Alexander bringing “virtuous” Grecian culture to the forefront in Jerusalem. The Synoptics did not concern the later Roman tightening its grip in the decades after the persecution of Christos. The Jewish nation would again fall to a foreign power and all the good work of Judas Maccabees came to nought under the jaundiced Pharisees and Sadducees.
The first synoptic of Mark, down played by Christianity, never documented a genealogy. Paul said it was a “generation”. Mark’s gospel never mentioned the resurrection. Paul and John of Patmos knew there was no possibility of resurrection after the crushing defeat of the Jewish popular arising. Also there was no one person to resurrect. No possibility of resurrection. John of Patmos saw the decline of the seven churches. Society had gone backwards and the Sanhedrin now succumbed and liaised with the recurring appointment of Roman procurators. When government becomes harsh the populace has to revolt or suffer restriction. But life comes from the populace.
The gospel of Mark was clearly just a condemnation of the Pharisees and Sadducees:
- “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes” – Mark 1:22
- “What thing is this? what new doctrine is this?” – Mark 1:27
- “And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful? … The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” – Mark 2:24–27
- “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” – Mark 3:6
- “That seeing they may see, and not perceive” – Mark 4:12
- “For Herod feared John, knowing he was a just man” – Mark 6:20
- “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” – Mark 7:5
- “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” – Mark 8:15
- “And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him” – Mark 10:2
- “and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they condemn him to death, and shall deliverer him to the Gentiles” – Mark 10:33
- “have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner” – Mark 12:10
- “And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians” – Mark 12:13
- “Then come unto him the Sadducees … If a man’s brother dies …” – Mark 12:18–19
- “And they lead Jesus away to the high priest” – Mark 14:53
- “Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done?” – Mark 15:14
Paul’s Christos – Labour
To end here are some of Paul’s saying to confirm that it was the Holy Ghost of inner man (labour) that Paul came to see as Christos:
- “not run in vain, nor labour in vain” – Phil. 2:16
- “I laboured more abundantly than they all” – 1 Cor. 15:10
“which labour with me in the gospel” – Phil. 4:3
- “Whereunto I also labour, striving” – Col. 1:29
- “your work of faith, and labour of love” – 1 Thes. 1:3
- “brethren, our labour and travail” – 1 Thes. 2:9
- “tempted you and our labour be in vain” – 1 Thes. 3:5
- “to know them that labour among among you” – 1 Thes. 5:12
- “wrought with labour and travail nightly” – 2 Thes. 3:8
- “we both labour and suffer reproach” – 1 Tim. 4:10
- “who labour in the world of doctrine” – 1 Tim. 5:17
- “labour therefore to enter into rest” – Heb. 4:11
- “to forget your work and labour of love” – Heb. 6:10
John of Patmos also came to the same conclusion that to find Christ you had to find Christos:
- “know thy works and thy labour” – Rev. 2:2
- “and for my namesake hast laboured” – Rev. 2:3
Alternatively Paul used other sayings to find the inner Christos:
- “the just shall live by faith” – Rom. 1:17
- “God imputeth righteousness without works” – Rom. 4:6 – implies there is no need for egotistical works, dead works, church doctrine, just simple acknowledgement.
- “Christ died for us” – Rom 5:8 – the anointing, the atoned populace, was the ensample of the labour of love of the inner spirit.
- “we are under grace” – Rom 6:14 – we are not held to any man made manipulation, under grace we each are free.
- “God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” – Rom. 6:23 – the ascent of man, the atonement, the anointing (Christos) increases (Joseph) – giving mankind the baton to run the race of life.
- “we should serve the newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” – Rom. 7:6. Paul was urging all the populace to maintain the rage and abolish the laws of the Sanhedrin and the corruption and strictness of governmental decrees. Be free to ascend.
- “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death” – Rom. 7:24.
- “ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father” – Rom. 8:15. There is no reference to a solitary figure – but adoption of the Spirit.
Once you place Paul’s writings in the post persecution catastrophe and see Paul’s epiphany not under the doctrine the dead works of the Pharisees and Sadducees the priests and the landed aristocracy then all of Paul’s statement are seen in the new light arising from the eastern direction each and every day.
Paul knew that this awakening was a labour of love of being “I am” and it is “our” God and “my” Christ whatever that may be.