Jesus and Minas Coptic icon dating from 6th or 7th century

From Jesus to Christianity

An enigma

Understanding Jesus of Nazareth and Christianity requires understanding the time and place in which Jesus lived and Christianity emerged. But that may not be enough. Christianity is more enigmatic than Judaism and Islam. Jesus may have believed he was the Son of God and that he had eternal life. Muhammad and the Jewish prophets did not view themselves in this way. This universe could be a virtual reality created by an advanced humanoid civilisation. Therefore, we might exist for entertainment an it may not be an accident that the religions of the God of Abraham came to dominate the planet.

Jesus seemed to have believed that he had a special relationship with God that no other prophet ever had. He may have thought that he had eternal life and a bond with God from the beginning of Creation until the End Of Times. Jesus may have had his reasons for these remarkable beliefs for 2,000 years later he turned out to be the founder of a religion with 2.2 billion followers. Also 1.8 billion Muslims believe he will return. It is an enigma that remains to be explained, unless you assume that Jesus was delusional and that the spread of Christianity and Islam were just historical accidents.

Apart from an historical account, a plausible explanation for Jesus’ beliefs may be needed to understand Jesus as well as the spread of Christianity and Islam. The earliest extant sources of Christianity were written decades after the alleged death of Jesus. Early Christians depended on oral traditions and writings that do no longer exist. Oral recounting is notoriously inaccurate and there is evidence of redactions in the New Testament. And so scholars agree on very little about Jesus of Nazareth, except that he really existed and preached for a few years around 25 AD.

In search of the Jesus of history

The German scholar Hermann Samuel Reimarus realised there is a difference between what Jesus did and preached and what his followers came to believe about him. Around 1760 AD Reimarus was the first to investigate the historical Jesus. He claimed that Jesus could only be understood in the context of first-century Judaism and that Jesus was a typical Jewish apocalyptic prophet of his time.1 For instance, in Matthew Jesus claimed that he didn’t come to abolish the Jewish laws or the prophets:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.2

This statement from Jesus clearly differs from the teachings of Christianity. There are several other discrepancies. This raised questions for scholars to work on in the centuries that followed. They were in search of the historical Jesus and tried to deal with questions like who was Jesus and how can his teachings and the beliefs of early Christians be explained in the context of first-century Judaism?

Reimarus was influenced by the Deists who believed there is a Creator and that there should be a rational explanation for religion. The Creator has defined the laws of nature and therefore has no need for the supernatural. The Deists also claimed that the universal religion of the future should emerge from rational explanation rather than revelation. Revelation is without evidence and can never be credible to everyone.

Jesus and the early Christians were influenced by Jewish traditions like the Pharisees and the Sadducees but also by Greek culture and philosophy. Other religions already had concepts like virgin birth and sons of god. Scholars nowadays surmise that Christianity took over those concepts but it remains an mystery why Jesus seemed to have believed that he was God’s immortal son and why he was called the Bridegroom.

It also remains a mystery why Jesus was so respectful of women. Jewish culture in the first century was decidedly patriarchal. Some Jewish writers of Jesus’ time, such as Philo, taught that women should never leave the home except to go to the synagogue.3 Jesus spoke to women in public.4 He was also compassionate for women and respected their dignity, even when they were sinful.5 In doing so Jesus ignored traditional Jewish law. Plausible explanations for his conduct have yet to be found.

The missing link

The missing link in the research of the scholars is God. Science doesn’t assume anything about God and for good reason. But if this universe is created by an advanced humanoid civilisation for entertainment then leaving God out of the picture would be a serious flaw while researching the origin of religions. Perhaps God is a real person from this advanced civilisation who can use avatars to appear like an ordinary human to us.

Including God in the explanation can solve a few mysteries. Mary Magdalene may have been an avatar of God. She may have made Jesus believe that she was the reincarnation of Eve and he was the reincarnation of Adam. She may have told Jesus that Eve was not made out of Adam’s rib but that Adam was born as the first son of Eve. Jesus was son of God because Adam was and because he was Adam’s reincarnation. In this way Eve is Mother of all the living and Christians are born of God.

Who was Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene has become a bit of a cult figure as there is a lot of mystery surrounding her. She may have been the most important person in Jesus’ life.

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This is an explanation that doesn’t require revelation. The technology to make virtual realities and the romantic desires of women in combination with the available evidence in the scriptures can make it appear plausible. There is evidence suggesting that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, even though it is never explicitly stated that he was.

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.

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The prophet Muhammad married his boss Khadijah. He remained her loyal servant, and perhaps in more than one way. Like Jesus, Muhammad may have been married to God.

Khadijah, mother of the believers

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid was a wealthy merchant and Muhammad’s employer. Muhammad was twenty-five and Khadijah was forty when she proposed to him. Their marriage was both happy and monogamous.

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According to the Jewish scriptures God ordered Abraham to grant the wishes of his wife Sarah. Hence, Sarah may have been an avatar of God. Even though historical evidence for their existence is lacking, several Jewish prophets may have been married to God.

Sarah, mother of the Jews

The will of God coincided with the wishes of Sarah several times. God summoned Hagar to return to her mistress Sarah and God told Abraham to send Hagar away when Sarah wanted this.

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The role of Paul

Paul of Tarsus turned Christianity from an obscure Jewish sect into a religion with a universal appeal. He modified Christianity so that it was not only meant for the Jews, but for everyone. To that aim he made several compromises, for instance that gentiles didn’t have to follow all the rules of the Jewish religion. This allowed Christianity to spread more easily but it made Paul a controversial figure with Jewish Christians. Over time the gentile Christians began to outnumber the Jews so that Paul’s views won out.

Paul and his followers may have tried to resolve the conflicts between existing fractions of Christians with a unifying theology. On the one hand they brought Christianity more in line with the Jewish theology by making God male and invisible. This might have prompted him to make Jesus the Bridegroom of the Church instead of the Bridegroom of God. By referring to the Jewish concept of God being married to Israel, and replacing Israel by the Church, Jesus may have become deified in this new theology. Jesus being married to God may also explain why Christians believe that God is love.

God is love

There is an explanation why Christians believe that God is love. Only, there may be something very troubling about this love.

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Paul may have turned Jesus into a god who sacrificed himself for his bride who in a sense was also his mother as he was believed to be the reincarnation of Adam and Mary Magdalene was believed to be the reincarnation of the Mother Goddess Eve.

Mother Goddess Eve

According to the Bible Eve was called ‘mother of all the living’ by Adam before they had any children. It is also odd that Eve was made out of the rib of Adam. Eve may have ben a Mother Goddess and Adam may have been Her son.

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Paul came from Tarsus where the mother goddess Cybele was worshipped. Her husband was also her son, a shepherd named Attis. Attis castrated himself as a sacrifice to her. Attis’ self-mutilation, death and resurrection represent the fruits of the earth which die in winter only to rise again in the spring. The parallels between Attis and Jesus, the Good Shepherd, may have inspired Paul to apply an Attis-like imagery to Jesus.

At the time the gospels were written most first-hand witnesses were gone and different stories were circulating. It may therefore have been possible for the Church Fathers to destroy or modify texts that didn’t fit in the new narrative. The Gospels do not suggest that the Bride Of Christ was the Church. It may not have been Paul who brought his up. Ephesians, the letter in which this idea is introduced, appears to have been written a decade after Paul’s death by one of his followers. The modifications in the gospels were probably done in several stages over several decades.

Gospel of John

The Gospel of John differs from the other gospels. For instance, it contains the phrase ‘born of God’, suggesting that God could be a Mother. Is is also the gospel in which Jesus calls his mother ‘woman’. That makes sense if the word ‘mother’ was reserved for God. This gospel also contains a few references to a Beloved Disciple. And the gospel suggests that there had been rumours that the Beloved Disciple was immortal.

Born of God

The phrase ‘born of God’ can be found in the Gospels and the letters of the Church Fathers. It is now believed to have a spiritual meaning but the origin may have been quite different. The God of Christianity could be a woman.

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The Gospel of John is believed to have been written around 100 AD but it contains some historical accuracies not found in the other gospels that contradict this late date. Therefore this gospel might have been based on an earlier source written by a first-hand witness.1 Scholars believe the Gospel of John has been redacted three times.

Perhaps the role of Mary Magdalene has been changed from God into the Beloved Disciple in the first redaction. In a subsequent redaction the evidence of Mary Magdalene being the Beloved Disciple may have been removed. And a third redaction may have been needed to tie up some loose ends. The Gospel of John may have been part of an early distinct tradition in Christianity in which God was a Mother.

Featured image: Jesus and Minas Coptic icon dating from 6th or 7th century. Clio20 (Anonymous). Wikimedia Commons.

1. Jesus Christ: The Jesus of History, the Christ of Faith. J.R. Porter (1999). Duncan Baird Publishers
2. Matthew 5:17-18 [link]
3. Jesus’ Extraordinary Treatment of Women. Franciscan Media. [link]
4. Luke 7:11-17 [link]
5. Luke 7:36-50 [link], John 8:3-11 [link]

God is love

Christians believe that God is love. Only, there may be something about this love that the church fathers found to be so troubling that they didn’t want us to know about it. If you know what it is, Christianity suddenly makes a lot more sense, and you may be able to guess what the future religion will look like. Love is such a central theme in Christianity that this religion came to be known as ‘the religion of love’. According to the Gospel, Jesus said we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”1

Paul is believed to be the author of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. It probably was written around 54 AD. There is little doubt that Paul wrote this letter himself, except for a passage claiming that the man is the head of the family, which several scholars believe to be a later addition. This letter may therefore be one of the earliest written sources of Christianity. It contains a remarkable poem:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.2

According to Paul, love is more important than faith and good works. But why? Christians believe the answer is:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.3

Christians believe in eternal life. The question is why? Jesus may have died on the cross but Christians believe he still lives because God loves the world. The author of the Gospel of John, who probably was not the Apostle John according to several scholars, may also have written the First Epistle of John, but scholars don’t agree on that either. In this epistle the author shares his views on the love of God:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.4

If you’re not a Christian, you might wonder why this was necessary? The idea that God loves us, and the proof being that God sent his one and only son into the world as a sacrifice for our sins, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Christians claim that Adam sinned and that we are all cursed for that, but then came Jesus who allowed himself to be crucified, so that we can all be saved. It seems that God could easily have chosen another path. And what about the peculiar phrase ‘born of God’? Could God be a woman?

Jews and Muslims don’t believe that God has a son. They also don’t believe that Adam’s transgression requires such a sacrifice. When God allegedly ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son and Abraham was about to comply, God allegedly called it off. So what might justify this? There may be something about the relationship between God and Jesus that is removed from the scriptures. The odds are that it has something to do with love because that is what Christianity is all about. Ephesians gives a possible clue:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.5

Christians believe that Jesus was married to the church because of this verse. There is an issue with this view. The church didn’t exist when Jesus lived. It is inconsistent in time. A historian might call this an anachronism. The verse suggests that this was a love like in a marriage. The Gospels imply that Jesus was married6 but the identity of the bride is never mentioned. And the verse claims that husbands have to love their wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, a peculiar thought.

There is a possible explanation that makes sense. God could be a woman. This universe could be a virtual reality created by an advanced civilisation to entertain someone we call God. And God could could use avatars in Her own story and appear like an ordinary human to us. The love the Gospels expound on is the love of God. Hence, the bride may have been God. God appearing in a human form may have been another issue the early church fathers had to deal with because the Jewish God was invisible and allegedly had once appeared in a cloud.

The most likely candidate for being the avatar of God is Mary Magdalene. She may have convinced Jesus that she was the reincarnation of Eve and that he was the reincarnation of Adam and that Eve was not made out of a rib of Adam but that Adam was a son of Eve. And so Jesus may have believed he had eternal life and would not die.

Perhaps this view can shed some light on Jesus’ views on marriage. It appears that Jesus believed marriage to be a bond forged by God:

Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman? It says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.” So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.7

At this point Jesus deviated from Moses’ law:

Because of your hard hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives. It was not like that from the beginning.8

That is remarkable because Jesus claimed he was not going to abolish the law. Jesus’ followers then argued it would be hard for men to love their wives in this way. Jesus replied:

Not all men are able to do this, but only those to whom it has been given.9

Jesus appeared to have had a high standard on marriage. Surviving records of Jesus’ words and teachings suggest that Jesus believed women to be equal to men. The equality of the sexes appears peculiar within the context of a patriarchal society. Paul also saw women as equal partners in the Christian movement. The Didache, an early Christian text dating from the first century, implies equality of the sexes.

At some point patriarchy has been re-established. The letters of the early church father may have been rewritten for that reason. For instance, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has been added later.10 It claims that the man is the head of the family. A similar claim is made in the First Epistle to Timothy.11 Scholars believe this letter was written later on and not by Paul like the letter claims.

A woman might like to see a man sacrifice himself to prove his love for her. And you may never love God enough. Christians see Jesus as a sacrificial lamb.12 It might appear that God didn’t even care for Jesus. So if someone ever finds himself in the same position as Jesus may have found himself in, he might at first not be enticed by the proposition, until he accepts that he has no choice, and that he could be the luckiest man that ever existed. Perhaps he should look at the bright side of life.

 

Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughin’ as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you
And

Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life

– Monthy Python, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Jesus may have had no choice so he probably wasn’t stupid or deluded. And it isn’t hard to love someone who has taken you hostage and has complete control over you. It is called the Stockholm Syndrome. No other man may have had a love like this and his life may not have had much of a purpose without it. We all die and perhaps a short and wonderful life is to be preferred over a long and miserable one.

Featured image: SpongeBob SquarePants. Nickelodeon. [copyright info]

1. Mark 12:30-31 [link]
2. 1 Corinthians 13 [link]
3. John 3:16 [link]
4. 1 John 4:7-10 [link]
5. Ephesians 5:25 [link]
6. John 3:29 [link], Matthew 9:15 [link], Mark 2:19 [link], Luke 5:34 [link]
7. Matthew 19:4-6  [link]
8. Matthew 19:8 [link]
9. Matthew 19:12 [link]
10. Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Bart D. Ehrman (2013).
11. 1 Timothy 2:12 [link]
12. 1 Peter 1:18-19 [link]

Lucretia Garfield. Library Of Congres

The identity of God

Scholars claim that Jesus was one of the end time prophets travelling around in Israel and Palestine in the first century. He stood at the cradle of Christianity, a global religion with more than two billion followers, an enigma that baffles historians. Six centuries later, in an equally astounding turn of history, a small band of Arab warriors created an empire stretching from the Atlantic to India. They spread a religion called Islam. These historic turns made the God of Abraham the dominant deity on the planet, which may help to fulfil a promise allegedly made to Abraham.1

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Jews invented their deity Yahweh. Yahweh was one of the countless gods humans have imagined. Nevertheless, this particular Jewish deity became the dominant god on this planet and it doesn’t appear to be an accident. This universe might be a virtual reality created by an advanced civilisation for the purpose of entertaining someone we call God. And God might use avatars and appear as an ordinary human to us.

Jesus is an enigma. Perhaps he knew God personally. That is possible if God can have an avatar and appear like an ordinary human. The Gospels state that Jesus had a personal and intimate relationship with God. Scholars agree that the Gospels have been edited.2 Apparently God the ‘Father’ can give birth.3 Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom and Son of God. Jesus felt that he had an eternal bond with God and that he was special to the point that no one comes to God except through him.4

So what might that mystery be? The first Christians may have believed that Jesus was a reincarnation of Adam and that Mary Magdalene was a reincarnation of Eve and that Eve was not made out of the rib of Adam but that Eve gave birth to Adam. Eve is called Mother of All the Living,5 Adam is named Son of God6 while Jesus is the firstborn of all creation.7 Adam may have been born and Jesus may have been his reincarnation.

Initially Christianity might have been about the marriage between Mary Magdalene and Jesus representing the Kingdom of God. The love of God Jesus was speaking of8 may have been the love of a Goddess for her husband. This could explain why Christians believe that God is love.9 It may shed some light on Jesus’ assertion that he is one with God10 as marriage is the way to become one with another person.11

It makes no sense that a woman was created from the rib of a man. It makes more sense that the woman gave birth to the man. Mary Magdalene may have convinced Jesus that Eve was the mother of Adam. The Quran mentions the creation of Adam extensively but tells little about the creation of Eve. The Quran states that Jesus’ creation is like that of Adam and that they were both created from dust.12 It may indicate that Adam was born as the first son of the virgin Eve and that God can perform such miracles as the Quran also contends that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin.13

The Jewish scriptures allow for the idea that Abraham was a husband of God like Joseph, Moses and David. Muhammad may have been God’s husband too. At the age of twenty-five he married his boss, the merchant Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid. She was a widow and she was much older than Muhammad. Khadijah was the first to convert to Islam after he had his first vision. Her support was invaluable to his mission. Avatars of God may have played a significant role in history. And God could still be dwelling amongst us and appear like an ordinary human to us, today!

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home?
Just trying to make his way home
Like back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the Pope maybe in Rome
And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah

– Joan Osborne, What If God Was One Of Us

Featured image: Lucretia Garfield. Library Of Congres.

1. Genesis 12:3 [link]
2. Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Saviour. Bart Ehrman (2016). Harper Collins Publishers.
3. John 1:12-13 [link]
4. John 14:6 [link]
5. Genesis 3:20 [link]
6. Luke 3:38 [link]
7. Colossians 1:15 [link]
8. John 17:23-26 [link]
9. John 10:30 [link]
10. Mark 10:8 [link], Matthew 19:5 [link]
11. 1 John 4:16  [link]
12. Quran 3:59 [link]
13. Quran 3:47 [link]