The Last Supper

Born of God

Early Christianity

Scholars agree that it was Paul and not Jesus who defined Christianity as it is today. The earliest extant written sources of Christianity date from 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 the evidence of redactions in the Gospels makes scholars agree on very little about Jesus of Nazareth, except that he really existed and preached around 30 AD. Perhaps the earliest written sources have been destroyed on purpose. But why? And is it possible to shed some light on the origins of some of the most peculiar dogmas of Christianity?

Bible: Only God Knows What Jesus Really Said
Bible: Only God Knows What Jesus Really Said. Loesje. Loesje.org.

The earliest Christians may have believed that Jesus was a reincarnation of Adam, that Mary Magdalene was a reincarnation of Eve and that Eve is a Mother Goddess and gave birth to Adam, hence Jesus was the Bridegroom as well as the Son of God. This post is part of a series called God Is A Woman And Jesus Was Her Husband. It is advised to read the following articles first in the order suggested below:

Born of God the Father

The Gospel Of John states that Christians are born of God the Father.1 This suggests that the gender of God has been altered in the texts and that God could be a Mother. But if early Christian leaders have been removing evidence of God being a Mother then how they could have overlooked this? The answer probably is that they didn’t. The Gospels were written in Greek or translated into Greek.

Greek mythology allows for such a peculiarity. The goddess Athena was born from the head of the male god Zeus. Nevertheless, if the original sources from which the Gospels were compiled were oral stories or written texts in Hebrew or Aramaic, this phrase might reveal the gender of God, as being born from a male deity comes from Greek mythology and not from the Jewish tradition. The next question might be why? Such a construct could have made a great compromise at a time when many Christians still knew that God is a Mother.

The Jewish deity Yahweh is male so for Jews it may have been easy to accept the change. For others this may have been different. Syria was one of the first areas outside the Jewish territories where Christianity had spread. The acts of the apostles discuss the church in Antioch in 42 AD.2 As there were a substantial number of Christians in Syria already, it would have taken decades to erase an idea like God being a Mother.

The Gospel of John may have been written to cater this particular need, which may have been to bridge the gap between the newly introduced doctrine of God being a Father and the widespread belief that God is a Mother. The letters of Ignatius of Antioch indicate that the Gospel of John was widely used in the early Syrian Christian community.3 This is the Gospel referring to Christians being born of God the Father. In this gospel Jesus called his mother “woman” and not “mother”.3 Calling her “mother” would have caused confusion if Jesus referred to God as Mother too.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence can be found in the Odes Of Solomon. Ode 19 stands out as it has the following lines:

A cup of milk was offered to me: and I drank it in the sweetness of the delight of the Lord.
The Son is the cup, and He who was milked is the Father.
And the Holy Spirit milked Him: because His breasts were full, and it was necessary for Him that His milk should be sufficiently released.
And the Holy Spirit opened His bosom and mingled the milk from the two breasts of the Father; and gave the mixture to the world without their knowing.4

This clue is important for a few reasons. First, it is an old text. It already existed around 100 AD so it probably was even older. Second, it circulated amongst the earliest Christians in Syria. Third, there are no other Christian texts mentioning any gender related attributes of God. Here God is definitely depicted as female despite being called Father. It gives further substance to the argument that the phrase being born of God points at God being a Mother.

The role of Paul

Paul turned Christianity from an obscure Jewish sect into a religion with universal appeal. He altered the message of Christianity so that it was not only meant for the Jews, but for everyone. To do this he made a few compromises, most likely with the consent of other apostles. The adaptations allowed Christianity to expand outside its Jewish origins. It made Paul a controversial figure with Jewish Christians. Over time the non-Jewish Christians began to outnumber the Jews so that Paul’s views won out in the end.

Jesus referred to himself as the Bridegroom5 and the Kingdom Of God is represented as a wedding banquet.6 Hence, the wedding mentioned in the Gospel Of John could have been Jesus’ marriage. It could explain why his mother was occupied with the lack of wine at the party.7 Jesus started doing miracles at this wedding by turning water into wine.8 If Jesus had been married to God, this marriage may have turned him into the Messiah, and that might explain why he started doing miracles from this point on.

Paul was a Jewish scholar. He may have aimed to bring Christianity more in line with the Jewish religion. God being a woman and Jesus being Her husband didn’t fit into this picture. And so the idea of Jesus being married to the Church may have been invented similar the existing concept of God being married to Israel. This brought up new controversies for Jesus had to become God. These issues were resolved by introducing the Trinity, which is God consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Paul came from Tarsus. A little known fact about Tarsus is that a god named Attis was worshiped there in Paul’s time. Attis was a dying and resurrecting god who was called the Good Shepard. Attis had a great love, Cybele. On their wedding night, he decided to castrate himself as a sacrifice to her. The parallel between this act and Jesus sacrificing himself for Mary Magdalene may have inspired Paul to apply the Attis-like imagery to Jesus. It may have affected Paul to the point that he advocated abstinence and did not marry. If Jesus had not been married, Paul might have used Jesus’ unmarried status as an argument for his position, but he didn’t. This too suggests that Jesus was married.

The next question may be why the early Christian leaders would have dared to alter the gender of God? It is written that Paul experienced a psychosis in which Jesus appeared to him and called him.9 He wasn’t called by Mary Magdalene. Paul joined Jesus’ followers shortly after Jesus allegedly died. According to the Gospels Jesus did all the miracles. Perhaps Jesus was the only person who experienced evidence of Mary Magdalene being God. Paul may not have believed it and other disciples may have had their doubts too. In the imagery created by Paul, Jesus became a god who sacrificed himself for his bride.

Another issue is that the idea of Eve taking Her son Adam as Her husband is lewd. It made the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus problematic. Perhaps Paul and the other disciples removed the evidence of their relationship for that reason.

During the decades between the alleged death of Jesus and the time when the Gospels were written down, a lot of information was lost or distorted. After forty years most first-hand witnesses were gone and different stories were circulating. It wasn’t difficult for Paul to tweak the narrative and it may even have seemed a good idea too. The Gospels do not suggest that the Bride Of Christ was the Church. Yet, 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. Also the seven demons that allegedly troubled Mary Magdalene were not mentioned in the oldest sources of the Gospel of Mark but were added later on.

Equality of the sexes

The surviving records of Jesus’ words and teachings indicate that Jesus believed women to be equal to men. The equality of men and women is rather peculiar within the context of a patriarchal society. Paul saw women as full partners in the Christian movement. The Didache, an early Christian text dating from the first century, implies equality of the sexes. Later on patriarchy was re-established. The texts have been edited to reflect this. For instance, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has been added later.10 It contains the claim that the man is the head of the family.

Gnostic gospels

The Gnostic Gospels portray a close relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. One passage names her as Jesus’ companion.11 Another mentions that Jesus loves her more than the other disciples and kisses her often.12 A third notes that Jesus loved her more than the other women.13 The Gnostic gospels don’t suggest that Mary Magdalene was God nor do they portray a marriage between her and Jesus.

The Gnostics were a group of mystics that claimed to have some secret knowledge about Jesus’ teachings and the nature of reality. Jesus claimed that his kingdom is of another world and can’t be observed.14 The Gnostics believed that our physical reality is a trap forged by an evil creator god that keeps us away from the Highest God. The idea of physical reality being separate from the immaterial world of ideas comes from Greek philosophers like Plato. Greek culture influenced the Jews and the early Christians. Gnosticism stressed the importance of individual experience. Gnosticism was banned after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Gnosticism developed gradually from the second century onwards. The Gnostics and the Church started out from the same sources, probably at a time when the evidence of God being a Mother was already suppressed, but not the evidence of Jesus’ close relationship with Mary Magdalene. The different agendas of both groups brought about different modifications. To the Gnostics a close relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus probably wasn’t a big issue. For the Church this may have been a different story as Christian theology made Jesus divine. An intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene didn’t fit into this picture.

lastsupperdetail

Beloved disciple

The Gnostic Gospels suggest that Jesus loved Mary Magdalene more than the other disciples. Hence, the Beloved Disciple in the Gospel of John may have been Mary Magdalene. One verse mentions Mary Magdalene and the Beloved Disciple separately,15 which may have been a falsification to obfuscate their intimate relationship. Another verse lists three women, namely Jesus’ aunt, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, and then implies that the Beloved Disciple may have been one of them.16 There apparently had been rumours that the Beloved Disciple was immortal.17 This makes sense if the Beloved Disciple was God. The Gospel Of John circulated amongst the early Christians in Syria. This could support the view that this Gospel was written as a compromise at a time when many Christians still believed that God is a Mother.

The contradictions in the accounts of the life of Jesus inspired a number of books like the Da Vinci Code about an alleged conspiracy in the Roman Catholic Church to hide the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. The Da Vinci Code depends on the idea that the person at the right hand of Jesus in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper is not the apostle John but Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene having been the most important person in Jesus’ life is modern knowledge that was not available to Leonardo da Vinci. Yet, it is peculiar that the Beloved Disciple is believed to have been John while John has a female appearance on many renaissance paintings because of his young age as there might be no coincidence in this universe.

This is a major update on a post that has been published previously.

Featured image: Bible: Only God Knows What Jesus Really Said. Loesje.org.

1. John 1:12-13 [link]
2. Acts 11:19-26 [link]
3. John 2:4 [link], John 19:25 [link]
4. The Lost Bible: Forgotten Scriptures Revealed. J.R. Porter (2001).
5. Luke 5:34 [link], Mark 2:19-20 [link], Matthew 9:15 [link]
6. Matthew 22:2 [link]
7. John 2:3 [link]
8. John 2:9 [link]
9. Acts 9:3-5 [link]
10. Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Bart D. Ehrman (2013).
11. Gospel of Philip: There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, who was called his companion. His sister, his mother and his companion were each a Mary.
12. Gospel of Philip: And the companion of the saviour was Mary Magdalene. Christ loved Mary more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Saviour answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her?”
13. Gospel of Mary: Peter said to Mary, “Sister we know that the Saviour loved you more than the rest of woman. Tell us the words of the Saviour which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them”. Mary answered and said, “What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you”. And she began to speak to them these words: “I”, she said, “I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision”.
14. Luke 17:20-21 [link]
15. John 20:1-2 [link]
16. John 19:25-27 [link]
17. John 21:21-23 [link]

Eve in the Garden Of Eden

Mother Goddess Eve

Female figurines have been found during archaeological excavations. The most famous one is the Venus of Willendorf dating from around 23,000 BC. Some scholars believe these figurines depict mother goddesses. And indeed many ancient cultures had mother goddesses associated with fertility. Women give birth and humans in early civilisations may not have known about fatherhood. And so they may have believed that women create life. One of the best known mother goddesses was Isis in ancient Egypt.

Venus of Willendorf
Venus of Willendorf

Women can be sure that their children are their own but for men this is different. When the fathers of children are unknown, there is matriarchy. It has been argued that the worship of mother goddesses disappeared because men desired to control women and their sexuality, perhaps as the result from the transition from hunting-gathering to agriculture when caring for children became a family matter in which men played a greater role.

Hunter gatherers were wanderers so territorial conflicts were less likely to be intense.1 Hunter gatherers could always move on. This changed with the advent of agriculture. Farmers had to defend their property and family. Men may be more willing to defend women and children they consider their own. Men could also walk out when they doubted their fatherhood. This may have given them a position of power so that patriarchy emerged.

The tale of Eve and Adam may originally have reflected the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. The tale may have been edited. Eve may have been the mother of Adam as she was the Mother Of All The Living. This makes more sense than Eve being made out of Adam’s rib. The life of hunter gatherers was more agreeable than the plight of the farmers that came later on.1 The Garden Of Eden provided for everything. Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden to work the ground,2 which was a life of toil.3

Yahweh and Allah were male gods. Before monotheism took over they had a wife and children. Jews and Muslims do not see God as a Father like Christians do, even though there are a few references to God as a Father4 and a Mother5 in the Torah. Remarkably the God of the Christians can give birth6 so perhaps God is a Mother after all. Christians refer to God as Father but there is no Father in the Torah, only Eve is the Mother Of All The Living. The question is what imagined deities of humans can tell about the owner of this universe if there is one. This is a very open question. The predominance of the God Of Abraham might be a clue.

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

The Jews invented the God Of Abraham but this universe might be a virtual reality created by an advanced civilisation to entertain someone we can call God. God could use avatars and appear like an ordinary human to us. The early Christians may have believed that Eve was the mother of all the living, that Mary Magdalene was a reincarnation of Eve, and that Jesus was a reincarnation of Adam. They may have believed that Eve was not made out of the rib of Adam but that Adam was born as a son of Eve so that Adam and therefore Jesus were a Son of God. The Gospels may have been redacted, perhaps because the relationship between Eve and Adam appeared incestuous. And so the birth story of Jesus from Virgin Mary may have been introduced to replace the birth of Adam from Eve.

Eve might be the Mother Goddess of the Bible and God may have devised a scheme to disguise Her identity using Virgin Mary. The veneration of Virgin Mary or Mother Mary existed in early Christianity. It may have been a substitute for the earlier worship of the Mother Goddess Mary Magdalene. Centuries later statues and icons of Mother Mary with the child Jesus have been made similar to those of the Egyptian mother goddess Isis with her child Horus.

This is in violation of the command not to make images for worship.7 Nevertheless, the transgression could be part of the scheme. The Mother Goddess Mary, who may have been eliminated from the Gospels, re-entered the Church via a back door. As many prayers were directed to Mother Mary, she became a proxy for God. The protestant reformation aimed at returning to the roots of Christianity. But their reform was based entirely on the scriptures and ignorant of the possibility of church traditions like Mother Mary veneration being reflections of the original message of Christianity.

Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon
Mother Mary with the child Jesus. Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon.

The creation story in Genesis may have been redacted. The designation ‘mother of all the living’ suggests that Eve may have been a Mother Goddess.8 Genesis 1 already contains a creation story explaining how men and women were created.9 Hence, the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 is at odds with Genesis 1. It is also peculiar that the woman was made from a rib of the man10 as women usually give birth to men. Adam is simply referred to as ‘the man’11 while Eve is referred to as ‘mother of all the living’.12 Adam calling Eve mother of all the living before they had any children suggests tampering. It is also hard to believe that Eve and Adam were the only people as their children married.

Eve being the Mother Goddess makes all these contradictions disappear. And that is remarkable as scholars believe that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 were based on two different traditions. Perhaps the original creation myth was that the Mother Goddess Eve felt lonely and wanted a husband for Herself. And so She created one by giving birth. It seems unlikely that Jesus figured this out all by himself so Mary Magdalene may have told him this. The Quran mentions the creation of Adam extensively but says little about the creation of Eve, hence Eve may not have been created. The Quran primarily blames Adam for the Fall and leaves Eve mostly out of the picture. The Quran claims that Adam listened to the voice of Satan, without implicating Eve.13

Adam seems to have been present while the serpent was talking to Eve.14 So why didn’t Adam participate in the discussion? And why could Eve talk to a snake, and perhaps why could Adam not? Ordinary humans can’t talk to snakes. Serpents have been associated with some of the oldest rituals known to humankind. The serpent is a universal symbol of death, healing, and rebirth. It could represent wisdom, good as well as evil. Mother Goddesses sometimes had serpents as their sidekicks helping them in doing their magic.15

And so the discussion between Eve and the serpent might have been about whether or not Adam could be introduced into their knowledge represented by the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent may have convinced Eve that it was a good idea. Apparently it didn’t work out well. And so Jesus might have sacrificed himself on the cross to redeem himself and mankind as he might have believed himself to be the reincarnation of Adam.

starcrescent

The star and crescent became the symbol for Islam. This symbol has a long history predating Islam and it was formally associated with a Moon goddess. In the Biblical context it has different meaning. In the Biblical story of Joseph the Moon symbolises the woman while the star symbolises the child.16 Hence, the Islamic symbol may represent the Mother Goddess with the child, just like the Madonna with the child Jesus. It could reflect the relationship between Khadijah bint Khuwaylid and her husband Muhammad because she was his boss and so much older that she could have been his mother.

The St. Mary of Zion Church in Ethiopia is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant. It is claimed that the Ark came to Ethiopia with King Menelik after he visited his father King Solomon. Mary of Zion is symbolised by the Ark of the Covenant.17 That is a remarkable coincidence. The ark allegedly was the residence of Yahweh, the God of Israel. This coincidence too may indicate that God is a woman, also for the Rastafarians.

Featured image: Eve in the Garden Of Eden. Henri Rousseau (1906-1910). Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Other images: Venus of Willendorf. Don Hitchcock (2008). Wikimedia Commons; Isis with Horus. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons; Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

1. A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.
2. Genesis 3:23 [link]
3. Genesis 3:17-19 [link]
4. Isaiah 63:16 [link]
5. Isaiah 66:13 [link]
6. John 1:13 [link]
7. Exodus 20:4-5 [link]
8. Asherah – Wikipedia [link]: Some scholars have found an early link between Asherah and Eve, based upon the coincidence of their common title as “the mother of all living” in Genesis 3:20 through the identification with the Hurrian mother goddess Hebat. Asherah was also given the title Chawat from which the name Hawwah in Aramaic and the biblical name Eve are derived.
9. Genesis 1:27 [link]
10. Genesis 2:22 [link]
11. Genesis 2:20 [link]
12. Genesis 3:20 [link]
13. Quran 20:115-121 [link]
14. Genesis 3:6 [link]
15. Serpent (Symbolism) – Wikipedia [link]
16. Genesis 37:9 [link]
17. Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion – Wikipedia [link]