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Christ in Egypt: Conclusion 
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Post Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
I am jumping to the Conclusion because it contains arguments that summarize main issues in the book, especially on why this material is so controversial.

Readers of Christ in Egypt and those who are just interested in the discussion at Booktalk should understand the political dimension of this research. Establishing that orthodox Christianity is based on systemic fraud and censorship, and that the Gospel story of Jesus Christ is primarily a construction of historical imagination, is deeply controversial. Murdock is the target of academic and theological bullying and suppression because of the challenge the material she has unearthed presents to vested interests. Apologists routinely call her names, attack distinguished scholars for supporting her work, such as Robert M. Price, and suggest her work should be ignored. None of this vilification is based on rational argument and analysis, but rather rests on desperate efforts to sustain illogical and false Christian dogma, centered on the blind belief in the Biblical fiction of Christ as a literal historical man. Remember, these people who criticize Murdock without reading her books often themselves hold to beliefs for which there is zero evidence, such as the existence of supernatural entities.

Her detractors seek to maintain an immutable, fixed and absolute dogma, ignoring “how myths are changed and altered to suit the audience.” (p515) By contrast, Murdock is scrupulous in searching for evidence to justify her assertions regarding the evolution of religious belief. In the two centuries since Egyptian religion became accessible through the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, the controversial nature of the material discovered has been subject of a successful rear-guard action by Christians, already reeling from the blows inflicted by Galileo and Darwin, and finding that Egyptian scholarship was an easier target than astronomy or evolution. Murdock asserts that “we are just now starting to see the implications of these finds” (p499), against a heavy backdrop of suppression, ridicule and censorship of serious objective scholarship. She gives the example of William Cooper, a nineteenth century scholar who presented “proofs of the merging of the Egyptian and Christian religions” and “was extremely disappointed by the weak reaction he received”. Similarly, Gerald Massey’s “massive works remain mostly unknown” despite being “substantially correct in both his facts and his conclusions.” (p502) The situation is that ‘information has been rigorously censored … Cooper’s brilliant lead was ignored and his fascinating leads left unfollowed.” (p503) This censorial attitude has a long Christian pedigree, such as the deletion of the comments of Clement of Alexandria comparing the twelve apostles to the signs of the zodiac, and of the comments by Epiphanius on pagan virgin mother rituals.

Rational people tend to look at this debate with disdain, since the miraculous supernatural worldview of conventional religion has been refuted by science. This rational response tends to see religion as obsolete, so people wonder why Murdock bothers to explore the contradictions within dogma. The point of interest in this material is that human thought exhibits continuous evolution from earliest times, and there is much to be learned about modern psychology and politics from exploration of ancient psychology and politics. Religion remains central to human culture. In fact there is more mythology within supposedly rational attitudes than is generally understood. Even science has its myths, such as the view that science supersedes religion, when the reality is that their concerns only partly overlap. By exploring the continuity between Christianity and older myth, Murdock helps to lay the groundwork for a rational understanding of religion, which is not the same thing as the atheist effort to abolish religion entirely.

The conclusion to Christ in Egypt (pp498-521) helps to explain the emotional origins of the political controversy within theology that Murdock’s work has prompted. Scholars who raised this material were sacked and jailed in the nineteenth century, and subject to “every sort of vitriolic and libellous epithet imaginable” (p505) by defenders of Bibliolatry. As a result of this exclusion, institutional scholars are still able to say this material is only of interest to “outsiders” who can be ridiculed and ignored, simply because the scholarly community excludes anyone interested in the mythic origins of Christianity from their professional circles!

The situation is that “censors have removed material threatening to their faith – a common occurrence that reduced much of the ancient world to rubble, the wrecked pieces of which we are only now putting back together.” (p504) This reconstruction effort is the primary goal of Christ in Egypt. “Scholarly timidity" has led many to hint at ideas they dare not voice, often in tantalizing concluding questions like breadcrumb trails. Entire genres of literature, such as Hermeticism, are still treated with disdain and denounced. “Because of cherished beliefs and biases, entire premises have been overlooked or rejected, such as looking for the influence of Hermetic literature on Christianity.” (p506) One interesting scholar, Morenz, cautioned against seeking out Egyptian parallels, advice that reflects a well-founded fear of persecution. As DM Murdock has commented here at Booktalk, much good material in other languages remains unavailable in English translation.

A key question is whether New Testament theology developed the idea of Christ from a historical Jesus, or, as Murdock argues, if the idea of a historical Jesus arose from a mythic theory of a cosmic Christ. Conventional opinion that Jesus Christ was the founder of Christianity assumes that Christianity started with the historical Jesus, and the theology of the eternal Christ was developed to explain the actual events. Yet major ancient theologians Augustine and Eusebius say that Christianity had existed ‘from the beginning’. Unlike modern apologists, ancient theologians did not dishonestly deny parallels, such as the widespread prior belief in virgin birth, but ascribed them to the devil. Egyptologist Budge says the Egyptian influence on Christianity ‘would fill a large volume’. But, as Murdock observes, “vested interests clamped down and rendered this worthy endeavour nearly impossible.” (p499)

In Murdock’s view, which I share, the truth is the reverse of the conventional assumption. Christianity started with the myth of the eternal Christ, ‘God’s anointed’, and gradually embellished this myth with fictional historical detail in order to use it as the basis of a mass political movement to subvert the Roman Empire. Ancient groups such as the Gnostics and Docetics held that Christ only seemed to come in the flesh, but their views were brutally suppressed and their books were burnt. The Bible deceptively puts the Gospels before Paul’s Epistles, even though the Gospels were not finalised until as much as century after the time of Paul. Paul makes only scattered reference to Jesus as historical, with nothing that corroborates the Gospel stories of miracles, parables and family. Even Paul’s brief mentions of the Last Supper and the cross and resurrection read more like hearsay embellished from cosmic myth. Major Christian theologian Justin Martyr does not “ever mention the canonical gospels by name, as if he had never heard of them.” (p519)

The conclusion of Christ in Egypt shows how Christians have routinely distorted history by claiming that pagan doctrines were based on Christianity, when the truth is the reverse. The Egyptian ideas of Osiris returning from the dead, of Isis as a virgin mother, and of the battle between Horus and Set, were already ancient and widely known by the time they were incorporated into the story of Christ. Suppressing these myths required intensive coordinated effort. That Christianity succeeded in brainwashing the world for nearly two thousand years is a testament to the fragile nature of human politics and psychology, in the modern world as much as in the ancient.

The fragility of religious psychology is shown by Murdock’s observation that popular Egyptian religion was also conservative and intolerant, subject to ‘the fashion of the day’. Conservative intolerance in more recent times reflects what Murdock calls an “enduring trauma” (p512), for example in “virulent dislike” of astronomy/astrology. So Frazer, in the major work The Golden Bough, aggressively rejects the idea of Osiris as a sun god, ignoring abundant Egyptian evidence linking Osiris to the sun. (I must say, this reminds me of Milton’s claim in Paradise Lost that Osiris and Isis are devils.) Murdock’s point here is that the widespread practice of wilful suppression should be kept in mind in analysing this material.

“The history of religion shows a continual wave of ideas that mutate.” (p515) Denial of this observation is at the root of monotheism, which Murdock therefore calls “an inferior and intolerant method of governance … based on … strength … rather than … correctness.” The key question in assessing religious claims is ‘who benefits?’

The concluding remarks of Christ in Egypt are worth considering: “The comprehension of the astrotheological and nature-worshipping perception behind the world’s religious ideologies greatly benefits humanity in a number of ways … we are free to develop true human community based not on neurotic and psychotic “religious” pathologies … but on shared common experiences and reference points, such as the mysterious and marvellous planet upon which we all live.” (p521)



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
Robert, the big question seems to be: Do the New Testament Gospels report something or do they report nothing at all? You and D.M. Murdock appear to take the latter position.
They do not report, because they are entirely made up, even though historical personages play a part in them and they mirror some later history about which there is no doubt. No matter, those people are only used in the fictional framework devised by the usurpers of the 'original' scriptures that presumably said nothing about a figure named Jesus.

This is not an easy question to answer because of two admissions that I must make. One, no miracles and no resurrection occurred. We can say this simply on the basis of Lockean "right reason." And two, the great stir that the Bible reports Jesus making must also be false, a product of later legend-making. Otherwise it's likely that we'd have more non-biblical, documentary evidence that Jesus existed.

For me, untutored though I am in the background in which you and Murdock are immersed, these books of the Bible can still be seen as describing, in however an altered way, a historical situation. In deconstructing the texts, I think it's possible to strip away the primary sense that the texts convey to a reader. That is a key datum in itself, that if discarded loses some essentials rather than gets down to them.

Robert Wright, in The Evolution of God, fully acknowledges the debt to Egyptian and Greek myth, yet he retains a historical Jesus. The gospels do rather compellingly tell of a situation in which a supposed Messiah, leader of a devoted if not very large group, is ignominiously killed by the Romans. Oops. What now happens to the movement? In whom do the followers place all their hopes that what Jesus told them he would bring about, would now be able to happen? It's not hard to imagine intense psychological stress and fear producing reports of supernatural doings after Jesus died. This was in an age that readily accepted spirits and after-death existence. This would be where the elements from other mythologies made their entrance.

What does mythicism have to say about the Jewish need to produce a Messiah? I've heard a lot about Hellenizing influences on Judaism, but little about Judaism itself. The idea is that before Christ was ever thought of, the messiah was a key belief in Judaism. This called for a literal man, and Jesus may have been one such candidate man whom the populace accepted.

As I've also said, the Gospels' insistence on an actual Jesus is consistent with the hatred of Jews that Christians stirred up. Would you agree that this, at least, is reporting of actuality? And would this hatred have been likely to develop if the Gospel writers did not believe that Jesus was murdered and that the Jews were responsible? This would make for some strange fiction under the circumstances. Since what we have here is probably the most consequential religious break-up in history, it seems reasonable to think in terms of immediate political realities rather than gradual mythologizing.

Maybe I don't understand what is being claimed about some gospels existing quite early on among Alexandrian Jews, with these writings later becoming the Gospels. To me, the Gospels seem clearly purpose-built to convey an argument about Jesus being God. Subtracting that purpose from the Gospels leaves us with...what?

Anyway, thanks for being the guide for Murdock's book. It's not that I doubt the indebtedness to earlier religions that she documents. It's more about the character of the NT books that I take issue with. I think it's entirely possible for her to be substantially correct about the provenance of Christian beliefs, yet to be mistaken that this precludes a conjunction of history and myth that we see in those strange books of the Bible.


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Last edited by DWill on Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
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This is not an easy question to answer because of two admissions that I must make. One, no miracles and no resurrection occurred. We can say this simply on the basis of Lockean "right reason."


Can you explain this for me?



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
DWill wrote:
Robert, the big question seems to be: Do the New Testament Gospels report something or do they report nothing at all? You and D.M. Murdock appear to take the latter position.
They do not report, because they are entirely made up, even though historical personages play a part in them and they mirror some later history about which there is no doubt. No matter, those people are only used in the fictional framework devised by the usurpers of the 'original' scriptures that presumably said nothing about a figure named Jesus.
I wouldn’t say they report nothing at all, rather that they report something different from the surface message. If the story of Christ is an allegory for the sun, as in the gods of Egyptian mythology, then this is a real hidden meaning. As Churchill said of Russia, the Gospel tales are a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. My view is that there is a compelling and coherent answer to the riddle in astrotheology, the view that the early Christians understood Christ primarily against stellar mythology. But this early esoteric vision did not fit with the popular needs of the times, and was swept aside once it was no longer understood and needed. There are however enough traces of this origin to reassemble the fragments of the jigsaw puzzle.

I am currently reading an account of the Jewish war with Rome. It truly is astounding that Josephus, the main historical source for the period, was commander of the Jewish rebels in Galilee, the supposed home of Jesus of Nazareth, and discusses a range of important people in the period leading up to the war and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but provides no corroboration whatsoever for the New Testament, whether for the stories of Acts or the Gospels. Paul’s Epistles contain so little history as not to really matter, with only the barest hints at a historical Christ, with only hearsay status.

The same problem of the incredible missing Jesus appears with the work of Philo, who as Murdock points out anticipated the Christian theology of the Word, and was probably the main source for the Gospel of John. Philo was a main Jewish advocate to Rome, and his main works were written in the two decades immediately after the supposed date of the passion, yet he appears not to have heard of Christ. This is incredible.

My view on all this is that the Gospels must be interpreted against the political needs of syncretic religion of Egypt in the second century. The time of Christ was then far enough in the past that no one was alive who could refute the fantasy, The story of the ‘one who died for all’, Christ as the forgiving redeemer, met deeply felt emotional needs, especially in view of the massive trauma arising from the Roman destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The key objective was to produce texts that were believable, if miraculous, and this objective was pursued with great attention to detail in the psychological portraits of Christ. Those who challenged the fantasy, such as the Docetic heretics who said the story of Christ was spiritual and not historical, were regarded as party poopers, to be condemned and ignored. People believed what they wanted to believe.

But now, in the cold light of history, outside the power of the church, the idea that Josephus and Philo would not have mentioned Christ if he existed, and the fact that major early second century theologians would apparently not have heard of the Gospels, indicates something extremely fishy.

There is a big precedent for the invention of Christ in King Josephus’ invention of David as a great king in the 7th century BC, as uncovered by archaeology such as the work of Israel Finkelstein. Convenient stories had earlier been invented in the Bible and passed off as true history. This precedent raises the major suspicion that this is exactly what happened with Christ, who had to be invented to solve the problem of messianic yearning produced by his failure to actually exist in history.
Quote:
This is not an easy question to answer because of two admissions that I must make. One, no miracles and no resurrection occurred. We can say this simply on the basis of Lockean "right reason." And two, the great stir that the Bible reports Jesus making must also be false, a product of later legend-making. Otherwise it's likely that we'd have more non-biblical, documentary evidence that Jesus existed.
All the ‘evidence’ is late and either fraudulent or unreliable. The miracles and resurrection are allegory for cosmic myth, but had the history added to make them popularly believable.
Quote:

For me, untutored though I am in the background in which you and Murdock are immersed, these books of the Bible can still be seen as describing, in however an altered way, a historical situation. In deconstructing the texts, I think it's possible to strip away the primary sense that the texts convey to a reader. That is a key datum in itself, that if discarded loses some essentials rather than gets down to them.
The historical situation was that Israel confronted Rome in the biggest war of the Empire. Transmuting this world historical clash into a symbolic story of one man enabled people to cope with the trauma. Deconstructing does not need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but should rather be seen as a constructive effort to uncover the reality behind the myths. If this helps to put Christian ethics into a true framework it enables us to consider the texts honestly, instead of through the hypocrisy of Christian dissembling about their false commitment to truth.
Quote:

Robert Wright, in [i]The Evolution of God[i/], fully acknowledges the debt to Egyptian and Greek myth, yet he retains a historical Jesus. The gospels do rather compellingly tell of a situation in which a supposed Messiah, leader of a devoted if not very large group, is ignominiously killed by the Romans. Oops. What now happens to the movement? In whom do the followers place all their hopes that what Jesus told them he would bring about, would now be able to happen? It's not hard to imagine intense psychological stress and fear producing reports of supernatural doings after Jesus died. This was in an age that readily accepted spirits and after-death existence. This would be where the elements from other mythologies made their entrance.
A more credible picture is that there were numerous messianic pretenders in the first century. These were combined into the single story of Jesus in the second century, as a popular framework for the eternal cosmic vision. Again, if Acts and the Gospels were credible, their omission from independent contemporary records is extremely fishy. So much of the story is obviously reconstructed using mythic blueprints from Israel and Egypt that any actual sources from the first century have more the character of anecdotes put in to make the story more believable, rather than evidence of a single figure as source.
Quote:

What does mythicism have to say about the Jewish need to produce a Messiah? I've heard a lot about Hellenizing influences on Judaism, but little about Judaism itself. The idea is that before Christ was ever thought of, the messiah was a key belief in Judaism. This called for a literal man, and Jesus may have been one such candidate man whom the populace accepted.
If the populace accepted Jesus, why did the relevant historians not notice?

This question of Jewish messianic yearning is extremely interesting. Wright and Finkelstein explain it in the need of a small country surrounded by big empires to use monotheism as source of security and unity.

The book I mentioned above, The Jews Against Rome by Susan Sorek, claims that Essenes predicted the messiah would arrive in 26 AD, as predicted by the prophet Daniel (chapter 9). This is a very interesting claim against the astrotheological framework of the precession of the equinox from Aries to Pisces, which actually happened in that decade. If the prophecy of Daniel of the ‘seventy weeks’ was astrotheological, there was a scientific observational basis to predict the messianic turning point of the ages would occur at the time of Christ. This astronomical framework could well have provided the mythic source for the subsequent embroidery of the historical tales.
Quote:

As I've also said, the Gospels' insistence on an actual Jesus is consistent with the hatred of Jews that Christians stirred up. Would you agree that this, at least, is reporting of actuality? And would this hatred have been likely to develop if the Gospel writers did not believe that Jesus was murdered and that the Jews were responsible? This would make for some strange fiction under the circumstances. Since what we have here is probably the most consequential religious break-up in history, it seems reasonable to think in terms of immediate political realities rather than gradual mythologizing.
The anti-Semitism grounded in texts such as Matthew’s blood libel could well have been based on a view that the Jews were extremely stupid to go to war with Rome, allowing the destruction of their culture. But that is a very complex question, and the attitude of Christians towards Jews is highly ambiguous to say the least, given the conflicting views. On the one hand we have the blood libel and the attack on the Jewish religious authorities as a brood of vipers, but on the other hand we have the claim that Jesus came to fulfil the Jewish law.
Quote:

Maybe I don't understand what is being claimed about some gospels existing quite early on among Alexandrian Jews, with these writings later becoming the Gospels. To me, the Gospels seem clearly purpose-built to convey an argument about Jesus being God. Subtracting that purpose from the Gospels leaves us with...what?
It leaves us with a syncretic popular religious vision aimed at subverting the legitimacy of the Roman Empire, in a way that would retain essential ideas from a range of older myths in an integrated and believable historical package..
Quote:

Anyway, thanks for being the guide for Murdock's book. It's not that I doubt the indebtedness to earlier religions that she documents. It's more about the character of the NT books that I take issue with. I think it's entirely possible for her to be substantially correct about the provenance of Christian beliefs, yet to be mistaken that this precludes a conjunction of history and myth that we see in those strange books of the Bible.
Your argument is possible, and the Christ Myth Theory remains an unproven hypothesis. Perhaps Jesus truly did fly under the radar of history as the genius avatar of Christian dogma, only to be documented generations after his life. However, as we delve further into the cosmic framework of mythology, I have the firm view that the mythicist argument will grow stronger as the most plausible account for all the facts. This is a classic and major example of paradigm shift, with the old literal paradigm groaning under the weight of its inconsistencies with observation, and a new paradigm gradually finding its theoretical logic.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
This is not an easy question to answer because of two admissions that I must make. One, no miracles and no resurrection occurred. We can say this simply on the basis of Lockean "right reason."


Can you explain this for me?

"Right reason" might not be a quote from Locke, but a historian I was reading uses it when speaking of Locke as representative of Enlightenment thinkers. (Actually I think the words are Cicero's.) At any rate, some of the Enlightenment guys believed that revelation wasn't any longer good enough for defining the nature of God. God had to be discovered through nature, which had equipped men with the means of discerning the true laws that God had instituted.
Carl Becker wrote:
From the record of human activities in all times and in all places, as well as from the established laws of the material universe, it would be easily possible to verify and to substantiate the verdict of right reason. Whatever the Bible might say, right reason could reject miracles because they were contrary to common sense and the observed procedure of the physical world. (From What Did the Declaration Declare, ed. Joseph J. Ellis, 1999.)

I'm using such a basis, though without the foundation in God, when I say that miracles can be rejected.


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Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:09 am
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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
The entire history can be rejected in addition to the miracles, however.


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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
A document incorporating actual historical personages or events doesn't reflect a necessary correlation with the facts of history.

Take, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire hunter" for example.

http://www.amazon.com/Abraham-Lincoln-V ... 038&sr=8-1

It has always been the route of liars to use real life events as the basis for the most outrageous falsehoods. Back in those days, when almost nobody could check into their claims, they mostly got away with it.

Well, thinking about it. I guess they still mostly do get away with lying their asses off. Even with the most powerful communal database in history at our fingertips... only a very small proportion of the population checks up on the things they are told.


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Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: Conclusion
It's possible for someone to read CiE, understand the "collegia" brotherhood network in place, know about the church structure already in place before Christainity with the Therapeuts, and understand Philo's "Logos" theology where God's son is the archangel, and yet also see an historical Jesus being brought into the picture behind all of that. Some one could claim that Jesus went to Alexandria in his youth and was raised in and around the Therapeutan community before returning to Israel. But once again that goes back to having no credible evidence whatsoever to support such a claim.

The only honest approach to the Christ myth is to simply say, "I don't know for sure." No one does. Maybe an historical person started this religion and maybe an historical person didn't. There's plenty of evidence showing a late arrival of this myth far removed from any first hand witness or corroborating contemporary sources. And with a life so insignificant as to draw no attention from the Jewish authorities or Romans to document, I wonder what does it matter any ways? The person described in the gospels is mythological. That's not the real person, if there even was a real person in the first. And until I find something in the way of credible evidence for an historical core, I'll continue to leave Jesus as every bit mythological as Santa Claus, King Author, or even God for that matter...


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