2015-09-21

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by Neil Godfrey

Comments have been reopened on my latest past on Plato and the Bible — Thanks to E.Harding for alerting me to their locked status. Have no idea what happened there, why or how the option was turned off for a while.

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Neil Godfrey

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16 Comments

  • John MacDonald
    2015-09-23 23:00:59 GMT+0000 - 23:00 | Permalink

    I was going to post the most ingenious comment you ever heard, but I forgot what it was in the time it took you to re-open the comments. lol

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-09-24 00:03:11 GMT+0000 - 00:03 | Permalink

      Your comment at http://vridar.org/2015/08/24/bibles-presentation-of-law-as-a-model-of-platos-ideal/#comment-73238 was an interesting overview of the evidence for the literary/mythical sources of New Testament stories. If you add a few links to that and indicate more clearly the sections that are quotations and add it here or email it to me I’ll copy it as a main post.

      • John MacDonald
        2015-09-24 01:16:43 GMT+0000 - 01:16 | Permalink

        My original interest in investigating Euripides’ “Bacchae” was as the source Plato used for coming up with the idea of ‘The Noble Lie’ in “The Republic” and “Laws.” In “The Bacchae” on this topic, Euripides writes “Even though this man (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him the son of Semele, for this would make it seem that she was the mother of a god, and it would confer honour on all our race.” Euripides’ “The Bacchae.”

        Later on, I read Seneca’s claim that “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

        When I put these two things together (Euripides and Seneca), I began to wonder if the original Christians invented the Jesus story to sell to the masses to make the world a more ethical place. Was this a cause they would have died for?

        Learning more about the exegetical techniques the writers of The New Testament used to create their writing, I learned that much of the writing was constructed out of allusions to the Septuagint and to classical Greek writing. I thought that “The New Testament” had an “exoteric” side (lots of exciting miracles) that would make it an easy sell to the masses, and an “esoteric” side which would make it an easy sell to “learned” Jews and Greeks (Jesus as the fulfillment of Hebrew scriptures and Greek religion).

        In any case, concerning these interests, I began to see that Euripides’ “Bacchae” was used in an exegetical (Robert M. Price would label this process Haggadic Midrash) way to create some of The New Testament:”

        In the play ‘The Bacchae’ parallels can be drawn as to general overarching themes, as well as to specific details of the New Testament Narratives. In Freke and Gandy’s book “The Jesus Mysterieshttp://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Mysteries-Was-Original-Pagan/dp/0609807986/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443055975&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Jesus+Mysteries ,” several striking parallels are drawn out between The New Testament and the ‘Bacchae,’ the latter being a much earlier work. Consider these quotes from “The Jesus Mysteries” by Freke and Gandy”

        “(1) According to the gospels, Jesus is an innocent and just man who, at the instigation of the Jewish high priests, is hauled before the Roman Governor Pilate and condemned to die on spurious charges. Exactly the same mythological motif is found five centuries earlier in Euripides’ play The Bacchae, about Dionysus. Like Jesus in Jerusalem, Dionysus is a quiet stranger with long hair and a beard who brings a new religion. In the gospels, the Jewish high priests don’t believe in Jesus and allege that ‘His teachings are causing disaffections amongst the people.’ They plot to bring about his death. In The Bacchae, King Pentheus is a tyrannical ruler who does not believe in Dionysus. He berates him for bringing ‘this new disease to the land’ and sends out his men to capture the innocent godman … Like the Jewish high priests who are appalled at Jesus’ blasphemous claim to be the Son of God, King Pentheus rants in anger at stories of Dionysus’ divine parentage … Like Jesus, Dionysus passively allows himself to be caught and imprisoned … The guard relates the wondrous things he had witnessed Dionysus perform and warns King Pentheus: ‘Master, this man has come here with a load of miracles.’ The king, however, proceeds to interrogate Dionysus who, like Jesus before Pilate, will not bow to his authority. When Pilate reminds Jesus that he has the power to crucify him, Jesus replies, ‘You would have no authority at all over me, had it not been granted you from above.’ Likewise Dionysus answers the threats of Pentheus with: ‘Nothing can touch me that is not ordained.’ Like Jesus, who said of his persecutors, ‘They know not what they are doing,’ Dionysus tells Pentheus, ‘You know not what you are doing, nor what you are saying, nor who you are.’ … As Jesus is led away to crucifixion, he warns the crowd not to weep for him, but for themselves and their children, who will suffer for the crime of his execution (cf. Luke 23 v 28-30) … As he is led away, Dionysus, likewise, threatens divine vengeance.”

        “(2) Before his death, Jesus celebrates a symbolic ‘Last supper’ of bread and wine. [the author here doesn’t note that this is also a symbolic celebration. In the Gospel of Judas this is made more explicit when Jesus wanted to shrug off this painful mortal coil, just as Socrates did when he offered the rooster to Asclepius] In The Bacchae, Euripides calls bread and wine the ‘two powers which are supreme in human affairs,’ the one substantial and preserving the body, the other liquid and intoxicating the mind. The ancients credited the Mystery godman with bringing to humanity the arts of cultivating grain and the vine to produce bread and wine.”

        “(3) As [Joseph Campbell] writes, ‘To drink wine in the rites of Dionysus is to commune with the god and take his power and physical presence into one’s body.’ In the Christian rites of the Eucharist Jesus is said to symbolically become the wine drunk by the participant in the ritual. Likewise, Euripides tells us that Dionysus becomes the wine and is himself ‘poured out’ as an offering. In some vase representations, bread and wine are shown before the idol of Dionysus. Just as in the Eucharist a Christian is given ‘redemption’ in the symbolic form of a wafer biscuit, in the Mysteries of Dionysus the initiate was presented with makaria (‘blessedness’) in the form of a cake.

        “(4) In Euripides’ The Bacchae, King Pentheus tries to insult Dionysus by describing him as ‘the god who frees his worshipers from every law [cf. St. Paul],’ but Dionysus replies, ‘Your insult to Dionysus is a compliment.’”

        “(5) A Letter To Philip explains that although from the time of the incarnation Jesus suffered, yet he suffered as one who was ‘a stanger to this suffering.’ This teaches that the incarnate Higher Self (represented by Jesus) seems to suffer when the eidolon suffers, but in reality is always the untouched witness. In The Acts of John Jesus explains ‘You heard that I suffered, but I suffered not. An unsuffering one was I, yet suffered. One pierced was I, yet I was not abused. One hanged was I, yet not hanged. Blood flowed from me, yet did not flow.’ … Five hundred years previously Euripides portrayed King Pentheus as binding Dionysus, while actually he was not. As Dionysus says: … ‘He thought he was binding me; But he neither held nor touched me, save in his deluded mind.”

        We also find striking parallels to ‘The Bacchae’ indicated in Robert Price’s

        encyclopedia article New Testament Narrative As Old Testament Midrash (2004 – the article is online here: http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_midrash1.htm ):

        In terms of Dionysus in general, we read from Price

        “Gospel of John, Water into Wine (2:1-11)

        Though the central feature of this miracle story, the transformation of one liquid into another, no doubt comes from the lore of Dionysus, the basic outline of the story owes much to the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17:8-24 LXX. The widow of Zarephath, whose son has just died, upbraids the prophet: “What have I to do with you, O man of God?” (Ti emoi kai soi, 17:18). John has transferred this brusque address to the mouth of Jesus, rebuking his mother (2:4, Ti emoi kai soi, gunai). Jesus and Elijah both tell people in need of provisions to take empty pitchers (udria in 1 Kings 17:12, udriai in John 2:6-7), from which sustenance miraculously emerges. And just as this feat causes the woman to declare her faith in Elijah (“I know that you are a man of God,” v. 24), so does Jesus’ wine miracle cause his disciples to put their faith in him (v. 11).”

        In terms of The Bacchae, Price writes

        “Acts of the Apostles

        Pentecost (2:1-4ff)

        The whole scene comes, obviously, from the descent of the Mosaic spirit upon the seventy elders in Numbers 11:16-17, 24-25, with an assist from Euripides’ The Bacchae, where we read “Flames flickered in their curls and did not burn them” (757-758), just as tongues of fire blazed harmlessly above the heads of the apostles (Acts 2:3). Ecstatic speech caused some bystanders to question the sobriety of the disciples, but Peter defends them (“These are not drunk as you suppose” Acts 2:15a), as does Pentheus’ messenger: “Not, as you think, drunk with wine” (686-687).”

        “Paul’s Conversion (9:1-21)

        As the great Tübingen critics already saw, the story of Paul’s visionary encounter with the risen Jesus not only has no real basis in the Pauline epistles but has been derived by Luke more or less directly from 2 Maccabees 3’s story of Heliodorus. In it one Benjaminite named Simon (3:4) tells Apollonius of Tarsus, governor of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia (3:5), that the Jerusalem Temple houses unimaginable wealth that the Seleucid king might want to appropriate for himself. Once the king learns of this, he sends his agent Heliodorus to confiscate the loot. The prospect of such a violation of the Temple causes universal wailing and praying among the Jews. But Heliodorus is miraculously turned back when a shining warrior angel appears on horseback. The stallion’s hooves knock Heliodorus to the ground, where two more angels lash him with whips (25-26). He is blinded and is unable to help himself, carried to safety on a stretcher. Pious Jews pray for his recovery, lest the people be held responsible for his condition. The angels reappear to Heliodorus, in answer to these prayers, and they announce God’s grace to him: Heliodorus will live and must henceforth proclaim the majesty of the true God. Heliodorus offers sacrifice to his Saviour (3:35) and departs again for Syria, where he reports all this to the king. In Acts the plunder of the Temple has become the persecution of the church by Saul (also called Paulus, an abbreviated form of Apollonius), a Benjaminite from Tarsus. Heliodorus’ appointed journey to Jerusalem from Syria has become Saul’s journey from Jerusalem to Syria. Saul is stopped in his tracks by a heavenly visitant, goes blind and must be taken into the city, where the prayers of his former enemies avail to raise him up. Just as Heliodorus offers sacrifice, Saul undergoes baptism. Then he is told henceforth to proclaim the risen Christ, which he does … Luke has again added details from Euripides. In The Bacchae, in a sequence Luke has elsewhere rewritten into the story of Paul in Philippi, Dionysus has appeared in Thebes as an apparently mortal missionary for his own sect. He runs afoul of his cousin, King Pentheus who wants the licentious cult (as he views it) to be driven out of the country. He arrests and threatens Dionysus, only to find him freed from prison by an earthquake. Dionysus determines revenge against the proud and foolish king by magically compelling Pentheus to undergo conversion to faith in him (“Though hostile formerly, he now declares a truce and goes with us. You see what you could not when you were blind,” 922-924) and sending Pentheus, in woman’s guise, to spy upon the Maenads, his female revelers. He does so, is discovered, and is torn limb from limb by the women, led by his own mother. As the hapless Pentheus leaves, unwittingly, to meet his doom, Dionysus comments, “Punish this man. But first distract his wits; bewilder him with madness… After those threats with which he was so fierce, I want him made the laughingstock of Thebes” (850-851, 854-855). “He shall come to know Dionysus, son of Zeus, consummate god, most terrible, and yet most gentle, to mankind” (859-861). Pentheus must be made an example, as must poor Saul, despite himself. His conversion is a punishment, meting out to the persecutor his own medicine. Do we not detect a hint of ironic malice in Christ’s words to Ananias about Saul? “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16).”

        I originally presented the thesis that Christianity was a “Bacchae/Plato based Noble Lie” in an essay that I sent to Freke and Gandy called the “Pious Fraud.” Gandy, who was responsible for the research on “The Bacchae” in “The Jesus Mysteries” liked the essay very much, as did Dr. Barrie Wilson (Professor of theology, New York), and Dr. Tom Harpur (author of “The Pagan Christ.” I originally published the essay on the website “Case Against Faith,” and later expanded the essay into an allegorical narrative published on “Case Against Faith called “The Eternal Return:” if you want to read my narrative “The Eternal Return” it is here: http://www.caseagainstfaith.com/the-eternal-return.html

        Some apologists like R. Joseph Hoffmann have struck back hard and fast against reductionists like Price, MacDonald, Brodie, Helms, Miller, Freke/Gandy, etc who argue “The New Testament” is modelled on “The Septuagint” and “Greek Classics.” One of the most popular apologetical books currently in circulation is Paul Rhodes Eddy and Greg Boyd, ‘The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Legend-Historical-Reliability-Tradition/dp/0801031141/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443056902&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Jesus+Legend ,’ primarily arguing that there would not have been a paganizing influence on the Jews of Jesus’ time. In his review of this book, entitled the Jesus Mirage http://www.centerforinquiry.net/jesusproject/articles/the_jesus_mirage , Price makes the very poignant counterpoint that

        “Another egregious case of Janus apologetics, facing both ways at once, is Boyd’s and Eddy’s argument that the resurrection of Jesus cannot have been borrowed from polytheistic mythemes. Their first step is to circumscribe a magic zone from about 165 BCE to 70 CE when there was no Jewish inclination, but rather the reverse, to accept Hellenistic influence. They figure that the Hasmonean victory over the Seleucid Hellenizers put an end once and for all to the temptation to Hellenize. Hellenization began to rear its ugly head again only after the Roman victory over Jews. This strikes me as a gratuitous assumption. Indeed, the fact that there is during their magic period much evidence of Jewish anti-Hellenistic Zealotry surely means the “danger” of influence continued. You don’t strengthen the fortifications when there is no enemy at the door. And no evidence of Hellenization? What about the astrology of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Ah, er, it’s not what it looks like! The presence of horoscopes at Qumran doesn’t mean the sectarians actually used or believed in them, say the apologists. Perish the thought! It was probably because they needed them to write scholarly refutations of them! And second- to third-century synagogues with mosaics of Hercules, Dionysus and the Zodiac? Purely decorative, that’s all. Come on! Obviously, you don’t decorate your house of worship with images of gods you find abhorrent! And this was just at the time Yavneh Judaism was getting stronger and stronger! Judaism just was not a solid monolith even at this time, much less in Jesus’ time .. … Our authors find it necessary to misrepresent Margaret Barker, too. She argues very powerfully (in The Older Testament and The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God) that popular Judaism had not embraced the monotheism of the Exilic prophets yet, even in spite of priestly indoctrination and interdiction. She ventures that Jesus as the resurrected Son of God was a direct survival of Israelite polytheism. Boyd and Eddy cannot seem to get through their learned heads that Barker is not talking about a Jewish embrace of pagan mythemes. Her point is that mythemes the rabbis later reinterpreted (explained away) as pagan were always indigenously Israelite, shared with Canaanite neighbors, not borrowed from them. Thus there is no need to posit some repulsive borrowing from hated paganism to account for easy Jewish familiarity with dying and rising gods. Ezekiel knew the daughters of Jerusalem were engaged in ritual mourning of the slain god Tammuz even in the days of the Exile. Baal and Osiris were well known in Israel, too.”

        I feel the evidence suggests, then, that the reductionists do have a prima facie case that a paganizing / Jewish midrashic (if you want to call the process that) influence was present in creating “The New Testament.” This possibility then allows for the stronger assertion a la Price, Freke/Gandy, Robert Alter, John Bowman, Thomas L. Brodie, John Dominic Crossan, J. Duncan M. Derrett, Earl Doherty, C.F. Evans, Randel Helms, Frank Kermode, Dennis R. MacDonald, Dale Miller and Patricia Miller. Liliann Portefaix, Wolfgang Roth, William R. Stegner, Rikki E. Watts, and many others that there is ample evidence that ‘haggadic midrash’ was rampant in the writing of the New Testament.

        • John MacDonald
          2015-09-24 03:55:19 GMT+0000 - 03:55 | Permalink

          Could it be that The New Testament writers were pretending Jesus was fulfilling all kinds of Old Testament scripture and Greek scripture in order to sell “Him” and win converts? They were certainly in the business of winning converts and selling their message:

          (A) 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

          (B) The Great Commission

          16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

          (C) Sending out Emissaries

          Just as Moses had chosen twelve spies to reconnoiter the land which stretched “before your face,” sending them through the cities of the land of Canaan, so does Jesus send a second group, after the twelve, a group of seventy, whose number symbolizes the nations of the earth who are to be “conquered,” so to speak, with the gospel in the Acts of the Apostles. He sends them out “before his face” to every city he plans to visit (in Canaan, too, obviously).

          To match the image of the spies returning with samples of the fruit of the land (Deuteronomy 1:25), Luke has placed here the Q saying (Luke 10:2//Matthew 9:37-38), “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few; therefore beg the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers into his harvest.”

          And Jesus’ emissaries return with a glowing report, just as Moses’ did.
          (Deuteronomy 1; Luke 10:1-3, 17-30)

          • Neil Godfrey
            2015-09-24 05:15:05 GMT+0000 - 05:15 | Permalink

            Not so likely to be “fulfilling” scriptures in the sense of “fulfilling prophecy” because the scriptures were not “prophesying” most/all of the things written about Jesus. He was depicted as a “greater than” Moses, Dionysus, etc, however.

            • John MacDonald
              2015-09-24 05:32:33 GMT+0000 - 05:32 | Permalink

              Yes.

              Perhaps the use of Haggadic Midrash was “Giving Jesus the fine pedigree of being embedded in the Hebrew scriptures and Greek religion – and at the same time being greater than the heroes of both of these.”

              Quite the selling point.

            • John MacDonald
              2015-09-24 06:10:12 GMT+0000 - 06:10 | Permalink

              Just one last thought:

              To be fair to my point about Jesus fulfilling scripture, it wouldn’t have mattered to the original Christian writers if a particular passage in the Hebrew scripture was a prophesy about Jesus or not. Even if a particular Hebrew scripture passage wasn’t even a prophesy, the first Christian writers could still have “hijacked it (so to speak),” and treated it like it was a prophesy about Jesus. For instance, the first Christian writers took Hosea 11:1 (“Out of Egypt I have called my son”) out of context to make it a prophesy about Jesus, even though “son” in the original Hebrew scripture referred to “the Jewish people.” Who is to say? The first Christian writers probably wanted to both show that Jesus was fulfilling all kinds of “prophesies” (because he didn’t fit the traditional expectations of a Jewish messiah), and that he was greater than all the prophets and heroes of old in the Hebrew and Greek traditions.

  • John MacDonald
    2015-09-24 01:27:49 GMT+0000 - 01:27 | Permalink

    I didn’t space the link to “The Jesus Mysteries” by Freke and Gandy properly so it didn’t show as a link in what I posted. Here it is: http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Mysteries-Was-Original-Pagan/dp/0609807986/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443055975&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Jesus+Mysteries

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-09-24 02:22:52 GMT+0000 - 02:22 | Permalink

      Thx — will post later this evening my time.

  • Mark Erickson
    2015-09-24 03:03:03 GMT+0000 - 03:03 | Permalink

    OMG! I just updated to iOS 9 on my iPad, but I’m guessing you fixed the code to show the sidebar starting at the top of the page. Bravo to either Apple or Tim!

    • Mark Erickson
      2015-09-24 03:08:37 GMT+0000 - 03:08 | Permalink

      Minimum threading width fixed too, what will I complain about now? Aaack!

    • Tim Widowfield
      2015-09-28 19:22:02 GMT+0000 - 19:22 | Permalink

      I can’t take credit. But it may not be Apple’s doing — it could be that WordPress tweaked the mobile theme.

  • John MacDonald
    2015-09-24 16:06:34 GMT+0000 - 16:06 | Permalink

    And it was well known among the wise and the rulers in the ancient world how much of a good thing it could be to invent a God for political reasons: see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/07/1350043/-Ancient-Egypt-Inventing-a-God

    • John MacDonald
      2015-09-24 16:34:59 GMT+0000 - 16:34 | Permalink

      It is not hard, then, to imagine that the first Christians fabricated the Jesus Story, inspired by the following line from Euripides “Bacchae:” where Cadmus says “Even though this man (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him the son of Semele, for this would make it seem that she was the mother of a god, and it would confer honour on all our race.”

      This is what Nietzsche meant when he asked: “Have I been understood? – Dionysus versus the Crucified” (EH 14.9)

      My two favorite quotes from antiquity are:

      1. “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

      2. “Even though this man (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him the son of Semele, for this would make it seem that she was the mother of a god, and it would confer honour on all our race.” – Euripides’ “The Bacchae”

      These two quotes tell us everything we need to know about what was really going on with religion in ancient history.

      This may seem a terrible idea, especially to socialists, but a noble lie to reduce violent crime, dishonesty, lust and hatred can have all-round benefits, if it works. Lenin’s “subordination of morality the class struggle” replaced confession and candles with Chistka and Cheka.

      As I said, there is a very interesting line in Euripides’ ‘The Bacchae’ where Cadmus says “Even though this man (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him the son of Semele, for this would make it seem that she was the mother of a god, and it would confer honour on all our race.” This makes one wonder, given the parallels between Jesus and ‘The Bacchae,’ if the New Testament writers had picked up on this theme and created the “Son of God” story as a political ploy in order to restore the Jewish people to their “rightful” place in the world – The dying rising godman of myth that everyone in the pagan world always talked about, except with a impressive Jewish pedigree, and this one was a real, existing human being!

      There is more to this supposition than one might suspect at first. Although this is not well known, in the bible, lying is permitted under special circumstances when it is done in the service of God. In the Old Testament book of Joshua 2:4-6 (the Hebrew name for Jesus, interestingly), the prostitute Rahab (the one mentioned earlier as part of Jesus’ bloodline) is praised for an act of lying. We read “And the woman [Rahab] took the two men and hid them and said thus: There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were; and it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark that the men went out; whither the men went I wot not; pursue after them quickly, for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house and hid them with the stalks of flax” This was later picked up on in the New Testament in the book of James at 2: 25, where it is said that Rahab was righteous because of telling this lie in the service of God: “Was not Rahab, the harlot, justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” Was this mention of Rahab by James and her presence in the royal bloodline a secret among the writers that they knew the story itself was a deliberate fraud? Recall the words of Pope Pious X, quoted in John Bale, Acta Romanorum Pontificum “For on a time when a cardinall Bembus did move a question out of the Gospell, the Pope gave him a very contemptuous answer saying: All ages can testifie enough howe profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to us and our companie.”

      The permission of lying under special circumstances would not separate the Hebrew and Christian scriptures from other ancient spiritualities. It would actually put them all very much in line. The justification of lying hypothesis is very interesting. It resonates with much in spirituality … even shamanism …where the neophyte is taken in with ‘magic’ to attract their attention and then is taken to the Truth… and the understanding that what they initially through was magic was simply deception … and the recognition of how early they were deceived.

      Justified lying occurs a lot in ancient spirituality. Confucius, in the ‘Analects,’ indicates “The Governor of She said to Confucius, ‘In our village we have an example of a straight person. When the father stole a sheep, the son gave evidence against him.’ Confucius answered, ‘In our village those who are straight are quite different. Fathers cover up for their sons, and sons cover up for their fathers. In such behaviour is straightness to be found as a matter of course.’ (13.18)” The Holy Lie also has a history of societal structuring intentions. For example, The pious fraud or noble lie is present in Plato’s Republic in Book 2, Sections 414-7, where Plato says a functional stratified society could be realized if they could convince the people of the lie that everyone from different levels of society were created by God to exist in a certain level of society.

      This is also true of the Code of Manu. Roger Berkowitz says of the Manu based society, that its division of society into four castes, each with its own particular obligations and rights, is a desired end because it reflects the natural order of society. He says ‘“The order of castes, the highest, the most dominant Gesetz, is only the sanction of a natural-order, natural legal- positing of the first rank, over which no willfulness, no ‘modern idea’ has power. It is nature, not Manu or the Brahmin legislators, that divides the predominantly intellectual from those who are predominantly physically or temperamentally strong, and both of these from the mediocre, who are extraordinary in neither intellect nor strength. The Indian caste system is an artifice, a Holy Lie—but it is a lie that serves natural end.’

      Similarly, we see the permission of lying in Islam. In the Pro-Muslim book ‘The Spirit of Islam,’ Afif A. Tabbarah writes, concerning the mandates of Muhammed,

      ‘Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable andbetter for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than tellingthe truth. To this effect, the Prophet says: ‘He is not a false person who (through lies) settlesconciliation among people, supports good or says what is good.’

      It is often supposed that lying is prohibited by the bible, but the situation is more complex than that. As we saw in the case of Rahab, it is permissible in special cases, if it is done in circumstances in the service of God and his people. We see, for example, in the Old Testament, Exodus 1: 18-20 “And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men-children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives.”; 1 Kings 22: 21-22 “And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him .. I will goforth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him and prevail also; go forth and do so.”; 2 Kings 8:10 “And Elisha said unto him, go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the Lordhath showed me that he shall surely die.”

      Suppose a group of people a long time ago believed adamantly in a world-view that was impossible because their world was under Roman Rule and subject to a Jewish system that they no longer believed in. Suppose that they would have done anything, even give their lives, to bring about what they considered to be a proper way of life, but did it in such a way that they knew one day, when the world had changed and become a learned, civilized place of their design, their spiritual offspring would be able to see through what they had done and be able to continue on their way of life without needing to believe in the superstition surrounding it.

    • John MacDonald
      2015-09-25 14:35:07 GMT+0000 - 14:35 | Permalink

      There’s nothing inherently improbable in the idea that Christianity started out as a cult worshiping a celestial being, or the more unorthodox position that the “Jesus stories” were simply “made up” to support “political” or “social ethic” ideals. Serapis (Σέραπις, Attic/Ionian Greek) or Sarapis (Σάραπις, Doric Greek), for example, was invented as a Graeco-Egyptian god. The Cult of Serapis was introduced during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm.

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