Virgin Mary

The veneration of the Virgin Mary probably existed in early Christianity. In Christian theology, she is the New Eve. God announced that there would be enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Christians read this as a prophecy predicting the coming of Jesus as the seed of the woman could represent the virgin birth of Jesus. The church fathers may have invented the virgin birth story of Jesus to replace the birth of Adam from Eve. Later developments turned the Virgin Mary into a surrogate mother goddess.

Isis with Horus
Isis with Horus. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Church recognised the Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of God.’ Christians made statues and icons of the Virgin with the child Jesus similar to those of the Egyptian mother goddess Isis with her child Horus. And so, the Mother Goddess Mary, eliminated from the Gospels, may have re-entered the Church via a back door. As Christians prayed to the Virgin, she became a proxy for God.

Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon
Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon.

The Protestant Reformation aims at returning to the scriptural roots of Christianity. And so, Protestants do not venerate the Virgin Mary. For Protestants, the scriptures are the only source. In this way, they may have lost the essence of Christianity. The Mary-with-child imagery could refer to Jesus as the Son of God the Mother. The Virgin Mary appeared more often than Jesus, and she performed more miracles than the other saints. Many Roman Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary rather than God or Jesus.

The Quran dedicates chapter 19 to her. Some Muslims indulge in arcane numerological explanations as to why the number 19 is special because the Quran refers to this number in the chapter named Hidden Secret. And so, the Quran may hold a hidden secret related to this number. Perhaps, the Virgin Mary plays a central role in the greater scheme.

The star and crescent became the symbol of Islam. This symbol has a long history predating Islam as it was associated with a Moon goddess. In the Bible, the Moon refers to the woman and the star to the child (Genesis 37:9). Hence, the Islamic symbol may represent the Madonna with the child Jesus or the relationship between Khadijah bint Khuwaylid and Muhammad. She was fifteen years older, so She could have been his mother.

The St. Mary of Zion Church in Ethiopia is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant. Legend has it that the Ark came to Ethiopia with King Menelik after he visited his father, King Solomon. The Ark of the Covenant symbolises Mary of Zion. The Ark is supposed to be the residence of Yahweh, the God of Israel, but apparently, Her name is Mary.1

Featured image: Madonna and Child, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. Public Domain.

Other images: Isis with Horus. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain; Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

1. Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. Wikipedia.

The last Adam

Adam is called the Son of God (Luke 3:38), and Jesus is named the Firstborn of all Creation (Colossians 1:15). An obvious question to ask is, was Jesus Adam? The usual interpretation of Jesus being the Firstborn of All Creation is that Jesus already existed with God, even before Creation, and therefore, he was not Adam. The words Firstborn of All Creation suggest that there may be more to it. Jesus could be Adam, and Adam may have been born. A fuller explanation requires an investigation into Jewish and Christian theology, which is the topic of a separate post:

How Jesus became God

An investigation into how Christians turned Jesus in to God.

Paul compared Jesus to Adam. In Romans, he writes, ‘Just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.’ (Romans 5:19) And in 1 Corinthians, he says, ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive.’ Jesus became the redeemer for Adam’s transgressions. An obvious question is what could have motivated Jesus to sacrifice himself for Adam’s mistakes? His actions are better understood if he believed himself to be Adam. That may be why Paul called Jesus the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Christianity teaches that Jesus existed before Creation, but that may not be what early Christians believed. The likeness of Jesus to Adam in Paul’s early letters may point to an earlier doctrine still prevalent around 55 AD, which could be that Jesus was Adam.

The Quran strengthens the idea that Jesus could be Adam. Jesus was like Adam in the way he was created (Quran 3:59). More importantly, several Quran verses state that God ordered the angels to prostrate before Adam (Quran 2:34, 7:11, 15:28-29, 17:61, 18:50, 20:116, 38:71-74). It is remarkable because angels are higher beings than humans. Satan refused because he did not want to bow for a creature made from dust. The Quran stresses it several times so that it could be significant. As Christians believe that Jesus is the Lord who will command humankind, this suggests that Jesus could be Adam. The Quran also claims that Jesus will return (Quran 43:61).

Latest revision: 23 April 2022

Mohammed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel

Religious experiences and miracles

The Jewish people still exist after 2,500 years, while they did not have a homeland for most of the time. That is a remarkable feat, most notably because the Jews are supposed to be God’s chosen people. It is also a bit of an enigma that Christianity replaced the existing religions in the Roman Empire. Somehow the message of personal salvation through Christ caught on. A pivotal moment was the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312 AD. He made Christianity the favoured religion in the Roman Empire. A few centuries later, a small band of Arab warriors created an empire stretching from the Atlantic to India, spreading a new religion called Islam. Is it a realistic scenario that the illiterate camel-driver Muhammad became a crafty statesman after he had seen an angel? We only know this world, so we cannot answer that question. Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same deity. Our universe could be a simulation, and the fates of Judaism, Christianity and Islam could be implausible historical developments. In other words, God might be the best explanation. Only, we do not know whether or not these events are plausible.

When Islam arrived on the scene, there already was widespread monotheism as Christians and Zoroastrians in the area believed in an all-powerful creator. Muhammad had met Jews and Christians on his travels, so he was familiar with these religions. Before that, Christianity had faced an uphill struggle. While the Roman state suppressed this religion, pagans left their gods behind and accepted the Christian God as the only true God. And they did so in large numbers. That begs for an explanation, even though the conversion to Christianity was a gradual process that took centuries. The number of Christians increased at an average rate of 2-3% per year between 30 AD and 400 AD. Each Christian may have converted just one or two persons on average, but over time, exponential growth made Christianity grow from 30 followers in 30 AD to 30 million in 400 AD. There appears nothing supernatural about this process until you realise that the most often cited reason for conversions were stories about miracles Christians did.1

An early miracle was Jesus appearing to a few of his followers after his crucifixion. Christians believe that Jesus appeared in the flesh, but perhaps his disciples had visions of him. The New Testament also accounts for some miracles the disciples allegedly performed. These stories may have been exaggerated, but miracles are a consistent theme in Christianity, even today. And so, there may be more to it than science can explain. On message boards, people tell stories about prayers heard and miraculous healings. Chance is not always a plausible explanation. And it seems unlikely that Christians consistently lie about these matters. I also have a tale to tell, even though it is not as spectacular as some of the stories you can find elsewhere.

At the final secondary school exams, I had the highest average grade in my class. I was good at every subject. There was one notable exception, explaining literature. It was about guessing the hidden intentions of authors. My scores were consistently poor, probably the poorest of the entire class on average. I considered guessing other people’s motives and decoding hidden messages in texts a waste of time. Authors often marvelled at what literature experts found out about their intentions from the books they had written. And I was not good at it. With the exams nearing, I began to fret. I asked my teacher to give me some additional practise exams. A teacher could only dream of such a fanatic pupil, so he was helpful, but the grades remained as poor as before.

Before the final exam, I prayed to God that the grade would not be too bad. My result on the exam turned out to be the best of everyone, only matched by a girl who flaunted her interest in art and literature. My teacher was amazed and suggested that the extra lessons had made a difference. Another girl became curious about this peculiar feat and said to me, ‘You have a mysterious way of winning in the end.’ I was too embarrassed to tell her about the prayer. It was selfish to pray for a higher grade, and I did not need it to pass. Starving people in Africa needed God’s help much more than I did. It could not be that God granted my wish, or could it? I was a Roman Catholic but unwilling to accept religious interpretations when other explanations suffice. When I was doing the test, the questions appeared more concrete than usual, so it was easier for me to answer them. And so, coincidence seemed more likely at the time.

Many people have seen the Virgin Mary. She appeared several times in Venezuela. In 1976, she showed herself to Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini, who received special powers. She could tell the future, levitate, and heal the sick. In Egypt, Mary had appeared at a Coptic Church between 1983 and 1986. Muslims also have seen her there. There have been many more Virgin Mary appearances. The most notable one was in Portugal at Fatima on 13 October 1917. The sun spun wildly and tumbled down to earth before stopping and returning to its normal position, radiating in indescribable beautiful colours. More than 50,000 people witnessed the miracle. They had gathered in response to a prophecy made by three shepherd children that the Virgin Mary would appear and perform miracles on that date.2

Jesus also appeared from time to time, but less frequently than the Virgin. An intriguing account comes from Kenneth Logie, a preacher of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Oakland, California, in the 1950s. In April 1954, Logie was preaching at an evening service. During his sermon, the church door opened, and Jesus came walking in, smiling to the left and the right. Then he walked through the pulpit and placed his hand on Logie’s shoulder. Jesus spoke to him in a foreign tongue. Fifty people have witnessed the event. Five years later, a woman gave testimony when she suddenly disappeared, and Jesus took her place. He wore sandals and a glistering white robe and had nail marks on his hands. His hands were dripping with oil. After several minutes, Jesus disappeared, and the woman reappeared. Two hundred people have seen it. It was on film as Logie had installed film equipment because strange things were going on.2

In virtual reality, this is possible. When it appears that God has heard your prayer, that could be part of the script. In that case, God did not listen to your prayer. Instead, you were supposed to pray, and the fulfilment of your request was supposed to occur. It is like a meaningful coincidence happening. Many prayers are in vain, so a wish fulfilled does not prove the existence of God. But some stories are incredible, and mere chance seems a poor explanation. And in a simulation, there is little difference between the appearances of Christ, the Virgin Mary, deceased loved ones, UFOs, angels and ghosts.

Feature image: Mohammad receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. Miniature illustration on vellum from the book Jami’ al-Tawarikh, by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 AD. Public Domain.

1. The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World. Bart Ehrman. Simon & Schuster (2018).
2. How Jesus Became God The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee. Bart Ehrman. HarperCollins Publishers (2015).

John the Evangelist from the 6th-century Rabbula Gospels

The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is strikingly distinct from the other Gospels of the New Testament. In the first three Gospels, Jesus appears human. In the Gospel of John, he appears godlike. Biblical scholars have long believed that the Gospel of John is from a later date than the other gospels and that Christians had already deified Jesus by then. But Christians were already worshipping Jesus as a godlike creature very early on. In the Epistle to the Philippians, Paul cites a poem stating that Jesus is God in nature (Philippians 2:6-11). Scholars believe it is an older poem dating from the earliest days of Christianity.1 Another theory is that the Gospel of John originally was written by someone close to Jesus.

The first three Gospels probably contain stories about Jesus that circulated among the public. A small group of insiders may have known more about the nature of the relationship between God and Jesus. This insider account, after heavy redactions, may have become the Gospel of John. This Gospel likely has undergone several redactions and reviews. Viewing it in this way comes with a few interesting insights.

To understand the following paragraphs, you may read the following:

The identity of God

The Gospels state that Jesus had a personal and intimate relationship with God. Scholars agree that the Gospels have been edited.

Platonic birth

Christianity may at first have had a separate creation myth in which Eve was God, gave birth to Adam, and then took him as Her husband. The account of the fall may also have been different. The Christian account of creation and fall may have contradicted the Jewish scriptures. Eve giving birth to Adam and taking him as her husband also carries a lewd suggestion. The tale of Eve and Adam is a myth, so it probably never happened, but people did not know that at the time.

And it may have had problematic consequences in early Christian communities. In the first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul writes, ‘It is reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud!’ (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). The scribes may have watered down this controversial fragment. And so, this man may have slept with his mother. The Christians in Corinth were proud of it, perhaps because this man followed the example of Christ.

Hence, the scribes may have taken out the creation myth, and under the influence of Platonic thinking, the Word became flesh in the form of Jesus (John 1:1-14). If Jesus is Adam, and all of humanity descends from Eve and Adam, one can imagine that without him, there is no life. And if Adam was a child of Eve, we are all children of God, and because God is a woman, Christians are born of God (John 1:13).

If you are already born, you have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. The meaning appears spiritual. Only, when arguing with Jesus, the Pharisee Nicodemus noted that you cannot enter a second time into your mother’s womb to be born again (John 3:4). Nicodemus may have correctly understood what Jesus meant, which is that Christians are figuratively born of God’s womb. Jesus then gave it a spiritual meaning in his answer, ‘No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.’ (John 3:5)

The wedding

There was a wedding in Galilee (John 2:1-10). Jesus was there, as were his mother and his disciples. When the wine was gone, his mother said to Jesus that there was no more wine. That would not have been his concern unless he was the bridegroom. Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.’ It could mean that Jesus was not the bridegroom and was about to be married too. He called his mother ‘woman’. That makes sense when he considered God his Mother. Jesus started doing miracles at this wedding by turning water into wine. Perhaps, he became the Christ through this wedding. Hence, it may have been his wedding, and the scribes may have changed the narrative to make it appear that it is not.

And then John comes with a statement not found in the other Gospels, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said: ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The Bride belongs to the Bridegroom. The friend who attends the Bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the Bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:27-30) Apparently, Jesus was the Messiah because he was the Bridegroom in a heavenly marriage. The other Gospels also indicate that Jesus was the Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19 and Luke 5:34). The Gospel compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who prepares a wedding banquet for his son (Matthew 22:2).

I and the Father are one

Jesus called God Father, making himself equal with God, so the Jews wanted to persecute him, the Gospel of John says (John 5:16-18). Jesus made other claims in this vein. If the Gospel of John is a heavily redacted insider account, these claims may reflect Jesus’ own words. For instance, if Jesus believed himself to be Adam, he could have said that before Abraham was born, he existed (John 8:58). The wording in the Gospel of John implies that he claimed to be God, but that may not have been what Jesus said.

And then comes an intriguing assertion, ‘I and the Father are one.’ (John 10:30) It appears that Jesus claimed to be God. And so, the Jews wanted to stone him for blasphemy (John 10:33). But marriage is a way to become one with another person (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6). If Jesus had implied that he was married to God, it would still have been blasphemy to the Jews. And if Mary Magdalene had remained in the background to let Jesus do Her bidding, and Jesus believed himself to be Adam from whom all of humanity descends, then Jesus may have said something similar to, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6)

Love is a central theme: ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’ (John 15:9-12) That is an unusual amount of love. But if Jesus was God’s husband, it makes sense. That brings us to the loving and intimate relationship that Mary Magdalene and Jesus may have had. The Gospel of John features an enigmatic beloved disciple.

The beloved disciple

Perhaps, Mary Magdalene became Jesus’ most beloved disciple in an early redaction of the text. That could still have raised questions, so later redactions may have turned the beloved disciple into the anonymous author of the gospel and a separate person distinct from Mary Magdalene. This perspective can provide us an explanation that resolves a few contradictions. One of those contradictions is the following fragment, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there and the disciple he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

The fragment states that four women were near the cross. If you take the text literally, then the beloved disciple must be one of these four women because the first sentence does not mention the beloved disciple. The most likely candidate is Mary Magdalene. And if Mary Magdalene was God, then Jesus may have said to Her, ‘Mother, here is your son.’ And then to his birth mother, ‘Here is your Mother.’ A few arguments can support this view. First, it is more plausible that Mary Magdalene took Jesus’ birth mother into Her home than a male disciple. And second, the Gospels suggest that Simon Peter was Jesus’ favourite apostle. For instance, Jesus had asked him to take care of the sheep (John 21:15-18). Only, he had fled the crucifixion scene (Mark 14:50-52), so he was not present.

According to Paul, Simon Peter saw the resurrected Jesus first, and then Jesus appeared to the other disciples (1 Corinthians 15:4-6). It probably is a statement of faith handed over to Paul. It might be the truth because it was an early belief dating from only a few years after Jesus’ death. And it agrees with the idea that Simon Peter was Jesus’ favourite disciple. The Gospel of John tells a different story. It claims that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. She then ran to Simon Peter and the beloved disciple and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’ So Peter and the beloved disciple went to the tomb. The beloved disciple came there first. He saw the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went into the tomb (John 20:1-6).

Then the beloved disciple went in. And he saw and believed (John 20:8). Apparently, the beloved disciple saw and believed, but two men were inside. Strangely, it is not mentioned that Simon Peter saw and believed. If the scribes had added the beloved disciple to the story later, it probably was Simon Peter who saw and believed. An empty tomb alone would not have made him think that Jesus had risen. And so, he may have seen Jesus there, apparently alive.

The Gospel of John tells that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first (John 20:11-18). If Mary Magdalene had become the beloved disciple in an earlier redaction, then it was only natural that Jesus first appeared to Her and not to Simon Peter. The scribes may have changed the story accordingly. When, in a later redaction, Mary Magdalene and the beloved disciple became separate individuals, the narrative changed again. And so, the beloved disciple saw something and believed, while Mary Magdalene saw Jesus first but had trouble believing it. After that, Jesus appeared to the disciples (John 20:19-23). If we follow this explanation, Paul may tell the truth in 1 Corinthians 15. It also implies that Mary Magdalene set in motion the resurrection beliefs by bringing Simon Peter to the tomb.

The resolution of this contradiction comes with a thought-provoking conclusion. Most likely, Jesus did appear to his disciples, and probably already on the third day after the crucifixion. When Paul joined the Christian movement a few years after the resurrection supposedly happened, this was an established belief among the disciples. A group of first-hand witnesses probably remember what happened and the number of days between two events of such importance that occurred only a few years earlier. And if Mary Magdalene was God, that might explain why Paul does not mention Her name in his epistles.

Figuratively speaking

The Gospel of John contains a remark that you can easily overlook, ‘Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.’ (John 16:25) Why should Jesus not speak plainly about God? Possibly, the scribes who redacted this gospel and performed the sex change on God have been aware of what they were doing and realised that the truth would come out one day.

Latest revision: 3 May 2022

1. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher. Bart D. Ehrman (2014). HarperCollins Publishers.

How Jesus became God

Before he was born, a visitor from heaven told his mother that her son would be divine. Unusual signs in the heavens accompanied his birth. As an adult, he left his home to become a travelling preacher. He told everyone not to be concerned about their earthly lives and material goods but instead to live for the spiritual and eternal. He gathered several followers who believed he was the Son of God. He did miracles, healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. He aroused opposition among the ruling authorities, and they put him on trial. After he departed from this world, he appeared to some of his followers, who later wrote books about him. This story is not about Jesus of Nazareth but Apollonius of Tyana, Bart Ehrman tells us in his book How Jesus Became God.1

In ancient times, critics used the similarities between the tales about Jesus and Apollonius to question and mock Christianity. In the ancient world, there was no chasm between the divine and the earthly realm. Kings were often called sons of the gods. The miracles attributed to Jesus are not exceptional either. There were other men of which people said that they did similar deeds. Legends about people spring up easily. You only have to observe what happens on the Internet and social media. People believe and spread ostentatiously false claims. Finding out the facts later can be an arduous task. And success is not guaranteed. It has been the work of biblical scholars for centuries.

Miraculous and virgin births occur in other religions too. Claiming to be the Son of God was not unusual either. Julius Caesar pretended to be a descendant of the goddess Venus. Of Alexander the Great, it was said that his father was the Greek supreme god Zeus. Kings in the ancient world often claimed to be descendants of the gods. That gave them legitimacy for who dares to go against the will of the gods? Jewish kings were also Sons of God. So, if Jesus called himself Son of God, this could mean the king of the Jews. And it probably was seen that way by the Jewish and Roman authorities.

About Jesus, much remains unclear. The Gospels date from decades after Jesus’ death and scholars believe that they are based on stories that are passed on orally. Oral storytelling is notoriously inaccurate but scholars believe that the Gospels at least partially describe what Jesus actually said and did. Much is plausible given the time and place in which he lived. The Gospels also tell us things that Christians would not have made up because it contradicts their teachings.1 And, the Gospels are copied from earlier sources that are now lost. The time gap between the events and these sources is smaller, so fewer errors may have crept in.

Paul could have written about what transpired. He knew several first-hand witnesses so he had insider knowledge. It seems that he did not. But why? There may have been reasons not to write about what happened or to destroy these accounts. Perhaps, the events were too disturbing. It may have taken Paul nearly two decades to come to terms with what he found out about the relationship between God and Jesus. The first three Gospels are remarkably similar and do not say much about this relationship. Scholars believe that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are based on the Gospel of Mark and another text with the sayings of Jesus. Only, the troubling insider knowledge may not have disappeared. It may have been worked upon instead to become the Gospel of John.

Jesus most likely did claim to be the Son of God. According to the Gospels, Jesus called God ‘Father’. And, he may have been the Bridegroom in a marriage representing the Kingdom of God. All the synoptic Gospels hint at Jesus being the Bridegroom. Perhaps Jesus believed that he would become king, but he never directly claimed to be king of the Jews. He did not deny it either. But why? We cannot know that with certainty as Paul of Tarsus probably invented Christianity. Still, we may get close. Paul joined the Christian movement early on. He knew the apostles and other first-hand witnesses personally. Hence, only his interpretation may stand between us and Jesus’ teachings. Paul was a devout Pharisee with knowledge of the Jewish religion and scriptures as well as Greek thought and philosophy.

To understand the following paragraphs, you are advised to read the following post:

The identity of God

The Gospels state that Jesus had a personal and intimate relationship with God. Scholars agree that the Gospels have been edited.

The Jewish religion of the imagined deity Yahweh and its scriptures may be an obstacle to our knowledge of God. To understand God, we may need to take the perspective of this universe as the creation of an advanced humanoid civilisation to entertain one of its members. Hence, there could be more to the mysterious apocalyptic prophet who felt a close relationship with God and started a new religion with over two billion followers today. Christianity began as a branch of Judaism, a religion defined by its scriptures. Religious claims have to be justified by referring to the scriptures. Their scriptures outline how Jews, Christians and Muslims see the owner of the universe. So if God is a woman who married Jesus, and Jesus had preached somewhere else, for instance, in Egypt or China, then Christianity would have been a completely different religion.

Christianity is called the religion of love. God is love, Christians claim. Christianity paints a different picture of God than Judaism and Islam. Those religions present a vengeful warrior God. So, how is this to be explained? The God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is believed to be the same. Perhaps Jesus knew God personally, and maybe God is not the deity the Jews imagined. Paul likely went at great length to bring the new religion in line with existing Jewish doctrine while being as truthful as possible. To many religious people, the scriptures are infallible. Paul could have obfuscated the most controversial parts of what he discovered by making cryptic references to the scriptures. Viewing it in this way makes sense.

Biblical scholars tend to be agnostic about God and reason from what they can establish from historical sources. Christians, on the other hand, believe that Yahweh is Jesus’ father. Both groups see Jesus within the Jewish context. And Jesus looked at himself in this way too. That may turn out to be a handicap as Yahweh is the imagined deity of the Jews, and not necessarily the all-powerful Creator of this universe. It may be better to view Yahweh as the cloak behind which our Creator is hidden. The most pressing problem for Paul may have been that God is a woman who had a romantic relationship with Jesus. Only to suggest so was considered blasphemy. And so, Jesus became married to the Church like God was married to the Jewish nation. It made Jesus eternal and godlike. That was not a great leap if he was Adam, God’s eternal husband. Jesus still lives, Paul believed, as he had seen Jesus in a vision.

The Book of Daniel comes with an enigmatic individual who will bring final judgement and start God’s kingdom. In Daniel’s vision, it was a human being coming with the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13). His kingdom will be everlasting, and all rulers will worship and obey him (Daniel 7:27). Daniel did not think of Jesus, but that did not stop Christians from applying it to Jesus. Jesus himself may not have thought that he was this person called Son of Man. On several occasions, Jesus mentioned the Son of Man as if he is someone else.1 In other instances, Jesus appeared to imply that he is the Son of Man. Scholars reason that the latter is what Christians believed so that the former more is likely is what Jesus said. That is because your belief can affect how you interpret words. It was however not far-fetched to think that Jesus would be the Son of Man as Jesus mentioned him while there was no other qualifying candidate to fill this position.

Jesus may have thought himself to be in the position of Adam or perhaps even the reincarnation of Adam. Adam was God’s son (Luke 3:38) and Jesus the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15) or firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29). People understand these words in relation to the Jewish scriptures, but they may be cryptic references to Adam being born first as the son of Eve, and Jesus being the reincarnation of Adam. It may also apply to the phrase ‘born of God’ (John 1:13) as all of humanity is born of Eve if you consider Adam to be Eve’s son. They together are the mythical ancestors of humanity. From this perspective, it makes sense that the message of Christianity applies to all of humanity like Paul inferred.

The firstborn son was of importance in traditional agricultural societies for the inheritance of land and the leadership of the family clan. The Jews were no exception. The theme occurs on numerous occasions in the Hebrew Bible. The story of Jacob and Esau is well-known. King David was also called God’s firstborn son (Psalm 89:27). Far more interesting is that the Jewish nation Israel is God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22) as Israel is also God’s bride (Isaiah 54:5, Hosea 2:7, Joel 1:8). It presented Paul with an escape as God married his firstborn son in this way. In a similar vein, Jesus became married to the Church like God was married to Israel. And so Jesus may have become God as the Christians became Jesus’ people like the Jews are Yahweh’s people.

That is not as problematic as it may seem. A widely held belief among the Jews was that there are two powers in heaven.1 In Genesis, God speaks in the plural, ‘Let us make humankind in our image.’ It may reflect a polytheist past of the Jews, in which they believed that the gods created the universe. If you presume this universe to be a simulation created by an advanced humanoid civilisation for the entertainment of one of its members, then it makes perfect monotheist sense too. The beings of this civilisation are the gods and the owner of this universe is God. The Jews did not see it this way. Instead, this phrase produced speculation about the existence of a godlike sidekick working alongside God.

The Hebrew Bible claims that God appeared to people from time to time. For instance, some people saw God sitting on a throne (Exodus 24:9-10) while no one has ever seen God and lived (Exodus 33:20). Others saw the Angel of the Lord, who is also God, and survived. Abraham and Hagar are among those who have seen the Angel, and the Hebrew Bible then tells us that they have seen God. Hence, the Angel of the Lord is God but not God himself. Otherwise, they would not have survived.1 And so there must be two gods, an invisible all-powerful Creator and his visible godlike sidekick. From this perspective, Jesus could be the Angel of the Lord and the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).

Many Jewish scholars like Paul were influenced by Greek philosophy. In Platonic thinking, there is a sharp divide between ideas and matter. The spiritual world of ideas is superior in the Platonic view. God is pure spirit, the most superior being. For Platonists, ‘spirit’ can use words to produce matter. Platonic reasoning thus agreed with Judaism as God created all things by using words. And so, words must have existed before creation. The Jewish philosopher Philo lived at the same time as Jesus. He asserted that the Word is the highest of all beings, the image of God, according to which and by which the universe is ordered. Philo called the Word the second god. The Word is thus God’s sidekick. The Gospel of John starts in a similar fashion, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ Here, the Word had become Jesus.

In Proverbs, Wisdom speaks and says that she was the first thing God created. And then God created everything else with the help of Wisdom alongside him (Proverbs 8:22-25). She is a reflection of the eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness (Wisdom 7:25-26). Wisdom is female because the Greek word for wisdom is female. Wisdom was present when God made the world and is beside God on his throne (Wisdom 9:9-10).1 And so, there are two contenders for being God’s sidekick, the Word and Wisdom. Or perhaps, there are two sidekicks. If the Word has become Jesus then Wisdom could be the Holy Spirit, and we might arrive at the Trinity.

Eve gave birth to Adam. What to do with this? It contradicts the Jewish scriptures. And the scriptures are sacred. So, why not claim that Jesus was born from a virgin instead? After all, Jesus was Adam, and Eve was a virgin when She gave birth to Adam. And God’s name was Mary like Jesus’ mother while God was also Jesus’ Mother. That may have been convenient for those inventing a scheme to work around this issue. And so, Jesus may have become born from the Blessed Virgin Mary instead. Early Christians may have understood Jesus’ virgin birth as code for Eve being the mother of Adam.

Virgin births were not a theme in Judaism even though Christianity teaches otherwise. Isaiah wrote that a young woman will give birth to a son as a sign that God will destroy Judah’s enemies (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah addressed king Ahaz in the eighth century BC and did not think of Jesus who was to come seven centuries later. In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible available in the first century AD, ‘young woman’ was translated as ‘virgin’. The author of the Gospel of Matthew used it to forge a prophecy of Jesus’ virgin birth. In this respect, it is remarkable that the Quran consistently calls Jesus Son of Mary and not Son of God, thus implying that Jesus had no father. It could be code for God’s name being Mary.

The basis for the claims of Christianity in the Jewish scriptures is problematic at best. The facts contradicted the scriptures, and the efforts to resolve these logical difficulties helped to turn Jesus into God. It should not surprise us that early Christians disagreed on the issue of Jesus being God and that most Jews did not buy into it either. If Jesus had preached in Egypt and had claimed that his wife is the goddess Isis, the all-powerful Creator and that he was the reincarnation of her son Horus, his teachings may have been preserved unscratched, but it may not have worked for what God had in mind. Egypt was a polytheist nation that could have adopted another cult alongside the existing ones. The Jews, however, were monotheists with established scriptures. It made Christianity, and later Islam, uncompromisingly monotheist too. Converts had to renounce all other gods. That allowed Christianity and Islam to wipe out the other religions, first in the Roman Empire, and later everywhere else where Christianity and Islam became dominant. And if this universe comes with an all-powerful owner, that may have been the plan all along.

Featured image: Christ Pantocrator in Hagia Sophia. Svklimkin (2019). Wikimedia Commons.

1. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher. Bart D. Ehrman (2014). HarperCollins Publishers.