[Vol. 2, Page 167]
"Nothing better than those MYSTERIES, by which, from a rough and fierce life, we
are polished to gentleness (humanity, kindness), and softened." -- CICERO: de Legibus, ii., 14.
"Descend, O Soma, with that stream with which thou lightest up the Sun. . . .
Soma, a Life Ocean spread through All, thou fillest creative the Sun with beams." -- Rig-Veda, ii., 143. ". . . the beautiful Virgin ascends, with long hair, and she holds two ears in her hand, and sits on a seat and feeds a BOY as yet little, and suckles him and gives him food." -- AVENAR.
IT is alleged that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, and yet it contains the account of his own death (Deuteronomy xxxiv. 6); and in Genesis (xiv. 14), the name Dan is given to a city, which Judges (xviii. 29), tells us was only called by that name at that late day, it having previously been known as Laish. Well might Josiah have rent his clothes when he had heard the words of the Book of the Law; for there was no more of Moses in it than there is of Jesus in the Gospel according to John.
We have one fair alternative to offer our theologians, leaving them to choose for themselves, and promising to abide by their decision. Only they will have to admit, either that Moses was an impostor, or that his books are forgeries, written at different times and by different persons; or, again, that they are full of fraudulent interpolations. In either case the work loses all claims to be considered divine Revelation. Here is the problem, which we quote from the Bible -- the word of the God of Truth:
"And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name of JEHOVAH was I not known to them" (Exodus vi. 3), spake God unto Moses.
A very startling bit of information that, when, before arriving at the book of Exodus, we are told in Genesis (xxii. 14) that "Abraham called the name of that place" -- where the patriarch had been preparing to cut the throat of his only-begotten son -- "JEHOVAH-jireh"! (Jehovah sees.) Which is the inspired text? -- both cannot be -- which the forgery?
Now, if both Abraham and Moses had not belonged to the same holy group, we might, perhaps, help theologians by suggesting to them a convenient means of escape out of this dilemma. They ought to call the reverend Jesuit Fathers -- especially those who have been missionaries in India -- to their rescue. The latter would not be for a moment disconcerted. They would coolly tell us that beyond doubt Abraham had heard the name of Jehovah and borrowed it from Moses. Do they not maintain that it was they who invented the Sanscrit, edited Manu, and composed the greater portion of the Vedas?
Marcion maintained, with the other Gnostics, the fallaciousness of the idea of an incarnate God, and therefore denied the corporeal reality of the living body of Christ. His entity was a mere illusion; it was not made of human flesh and blood, neither was it born of a human mother, for his divine nature could not be polluted with any contact with sinful flesh.* He accepted Paul as the only apostle preaching the pure gospel of truth, and accused the other disciples of "depraving the pure form of the gospel doctrines delivered to them by Jesus, mixing up matters of the Law with the words of the Saviour."**
Finally we may add that modern biblical criticism, which unfortunately became really active and serious only toward the end of the last century, now generally admits that Marcion's text of the only gospel he knew anything about -- that of Luke, is far superior and by far more correct than that of our present Synoptics. We find in Supernatural Religion the following (for every Christian) startling sentence: "We are, therefore, indebted to Marcion for the correct version even of 'the Lord's Prayer.' "***
If, leaving for the present the prominent founders of Christian sects, we now turn to that of the Ophites, which assumed a definite form about the time of Marcion and the Basilideans, we may find in it the reason for the heresies of all others. Like all other Gnostics, they rejected the Mosaic Bible entirely. Nevertheless, their philosophy, apart from some deductions original with several of the most important founders of the various branches of Gnosticism was not new. Passing through the Chaldean kabalistic tradition, it gathered its materials in the Hermetic books, and pursuing its flight still farther back for its metaphysical speculations, we find it floundering among the tenets of Manu, and the earliest Hindu ante-sacerdotal genesis. Many of our eminent antiquarians trace the Gnostic philosophies right back to Buddhism, which does not impair in
* Tertullian: "Adv. Marci," iii. 8 ff.
** "Sup. Rel.," vol. ii., p. 107; "Adv. Marci," iii. 2, § 2; cf. iii. 12, § 12.
*** "Sup. Relig.," vol. ii., p. 126.
the least either their or our arguments. We repeat again, Buddhism is but the primitive source of Brahmanism. It is not against the primitive Vedas that Gautama protests. It is against the sacerdotal and official state religion of his country; and the Brahmans, who in order to make room for and give authority to the castes, at a later period crammed the ancient manuscripts with interpolated slokas, intended to prove that the castes were predetermined by the Creator by the very fact that each class of men was issued from a more or less noble limb of Brahma. Gautama-Buddha's philosophy was that taught from the beginning of time in the impenetrable secresy of the inner sanctuaries of the pagodas. We need not be surprised, therefore, to find again, in all the fundamental dogmas of the Gnostics, the metaphysical tenets of both Brahmanism and Buddhism. They held that the Old Testament was the revelation of an inferior being, a subordinate divinity, and did not contain a single sentence of their Sophia, the Divine Wisdom. As to the New Testament, it had lost its purity when the compilers became guilty of interpolations. The revelation of divine truth was sacrificed by them to promote selfish ends and maintain quarrels. The accusation does not seem so very improbable to one who is well aware of the constant strife between the champions of circumcision and the "Law," and the apostles who had given up Judaism.
The Gnostic Ophites taught the doctrine of Emanations, so hateful to the defenders of the unity in the trinity, and vice versa. The Unknown Deity with them had no name; but his first female emanation was called Bythos or Depth.* It answered to the Shekinah of the kabalists, the "Veil" which conceals the "Wisdom" in the cranium of the highest of the three heads. As the Pythagorean Monad, this nameless Wisdom was the Source of Light, and Ennoia or Mind, is Light itself. The latter was also called the "Primitive Man," like the Adam Kadmon, or ancient Adam of the Kabala. Indeed, if man was created after his likeness and in the image of God, then this God was like his creature in shape and figure -- hence, he is the "Primitive man." The first Manu, the one evolved from Swayambhuva, "he who exists unrevealed in his own glory," is also, in one sense, the primitive man, with the Hindus.
Thus the "nameless and the unrevealed," Bythos, his female reflection, and Ennoia, the revealed Mind proceeding from both, or their Son are the counterparts of the Chaldean first triad as well as those of the Brahmanic Trimurti. We will compare: in all the three systems we see
* We give the systems according to an old diagram preserved among some Kopts and the Druses of Mount Lebanon. Irenaeus had perhaps some good reasons to disfigure their doctrines.
THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE as the ONE, the primordial germ, the unrevealed and grand ALL, existing through himself. In the
INDIAN PANTHEON. Brahma-Zyaus.
THE CHALDEAN. Ilu, Kabalistic En-Soph.
IN THE OPHITE. The Nameless, or Secret Name.
Whenever the Eternal awakes from its slumber and desires to manifest itself, it divides itself into male and female. It then becomes in every system
THE DOUBLE-SEXED DEITY, The universal Father and Mother.
IN INDIA. Brahma. Nara (male), Nari (female).
IN CHALDEA. Eikon or En-Soph. Anu (male), Anata (female).
From the union of the two emanates a third, or creative Principle -- the SON, or the manifested Logos, the product of the Divine Mind.
IN INDIA. Viradj, the Son.
IN CHALDEA. Bel, the Son.
OPHITE SYSTEM. Ophis (another name for Ennoia), the Son.
Moreover, each of these systems has a triple male trinity, each proceeding separately through itself from one female Deity. So, for instance:
IN INDIA. The Trinity -- Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, are blended into ONE, who is Brahma (neuter gender), creating and being created through the Virgin Nari (the mother of perpetual fecundity).
IN CHALDEA. The trinity -- Anu, Bel, Hoa (or Sin, Samas, Bin), blend into ONE who is Anu (double-sexed) through the Virgin Mylitta.
IN THE OPHITE SYSTEM. The trinity consisted of the Mystery named Sige, Bythos, Ennoia. These become ONE who is Abrasax, from the Virgin Sophia (or Pneuma), who herself is an emanation of Bythos and the Mystery-god and emanates through them, Christos.
To place it still clearer, the Babylonian System recognizes first -- the ONE (Ad, or Ad-ad), who is never named, but only acknowledged in thought as the Hindu Swayambhuva. From this he becomes manifest as Anu or Ana -- the one above all -- Monas. Next comes the Demiurge called Bel or Elu, who is the active power of the Godhead. The third is the principle of Wisdom, Hea or Hoa, who also rules the sea and the underworld. Each of these has his divine consort, giving us Anata, Belta,
and Davkina. These, however, are only like the Saktis, and not especially remarked by theologists. But the female principle is denoted by Mylitta, the Great Mother, called also Ishtar. So with the three male gods, we have the Triad or Trimurti, and with Mylitta added, the Arba or Four (Tetraktys of Pythagoras), which perfects and potentializes all. Hence, the above-given modes of expression. The following Chaldean diagram may serve as an illustration for all others:
Triad / Anu, Bel, Hoa. / Mylitta -- Arba-il, or Four-fold God,
become, with the Christians,
Trinity / God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, / Mary, or mother of these three Gods since they are one, or, the Christian Heavenly Tetraktys.
Hence, Hebron, the city of the Kabeiri was called Kirjath-Arba, city of the Four. The Kabeiri were Axieros -- the noble Eros, Axiokersos, the worthy horned one, Axiokersa, Demeter and Kadmiel, Hoa, etc.
The Pythagorean ten denoted the Arba-Il or Divine Four, emblematized by the Hindu Lingham: Anu, 1; Bel, 2; Hoa, 3, which makes 6. The triad and Mylitta as 4 make the ten.
Though he is termed the "Primitive Man," Ennoia, who is like the Egyptian Pimander, the "Power of the Thought Divine," the first intelligible manifestation of the Divine Spirit in material form, he is like the "Only-Begotten" Son of the "Unknown Father," of all other nations. He is the emblem of the first appearance of the divine Presence in his own works of creation, tangible and visible, and therefore comprehensible. The mystery-God, or the ever-unrevealed Deity fecundates through His will Bythos, the unfathomable and infinite depth that exists in silence (Sige) and darkness (for our intellect), and that represents the abstract idea of all nature, the ever-producing Cosmos. As neither the male nor female principle, blended into the idea of a double-sexed Deity in ancient conceptions, could be comprehended by an ordinary human intellect, the theology of every people had to create for its religion a Logos, or manifested word, in some shape or other. With the Ophites and other Gnostics who took their models direct from more ancient originals, the unrevealed Bythos and her male counterpart produce Ennoia, and the three in their turn produce Sophia,* thus completing the Tetraktys, which will emanate Christos, the very essence of the Father Spirit. As
* Sophia is the highest prototype of woman -- the first spiritual Eve. In the Bible the system is reversed and the intervening emanation being omitted, Eve is degraded to simple humanity.
the unrevealed One, or concealed Logos in its latent state, he has existed from all eternity in the Arba-Il, the metaphysical abstraction; therefore, he is ONE with all others as a unity, the latter (including all) being indifferently termed Ennoia, Sige (silence), Bythos, etc. As the revealed one, he is Androgyne, Christos, and Sophia (Divine Wisdom), who descend into the man Jesus. Both Father and Son are shown by Irenaeus to have loved the beauty (formam) of the primitive woman,* who is Bythos -- Depth -- as well as Sophia, and as having produced conjointly Ophis and Sophia (double-sexed unity again), male and female wisdom, one being considered as the unrevealed Holy Spirit, or elder Sophia -- the Pneuma -- the intellectual "Mother of all things"; the other the revealed one, or Ophis, typifying divine wisdom fallen into matter, or God-man -- Jesus, whom the Gnostic Ophites represented by the serpent (Ophis).
Fecundated by the Divine Light of the Father and Son, the highest spirit and Ennoia, Sophia produces in her turn two other emanations -- one perfect Christos, the second imperfect Sophia-Achamoth,** from hakhamoth (simple wisdom), who becomes the mediatrix between the intellectual and material worlds.
Christos was the mediator and guide between God (the Higher), and everything spiritual in man; Achamoth -- the younger Sophia -- held the same duty between the "Primitive man," Ennoia and matter. What was mysteriously meant by the general term, Christos, we have just explained.
Delivering a sermon on the "Month of Mary," we find the Rev. Dr. Preston, of New York City, expressing the Christian idea of the female principle of the trinity better and more clearly than we could, and substantially in the spirit of an ancient "heathen" philosopher. He says that the "plan of the redemption made it necessary that a mother should be found, and Mary stands pre-eminently alone as the only instance when a creature was necessary to the consummation of God's work." We will beg the right to contradict the reverend gentleman. As shown above, thousands of years before our era it was found necessary by all the "heathen" theogonies to find a female principle, a "mother" for the triune male principle. Hence, Christianity does not present the "only instance" of such a consummation of God's work -- albeit, as this work shows, there was more philosophy and less materialism, or rather anthropomorphism, in it. But hear the reverend Doctor express "heathen" thought in
* See "Irenaeus," book i., chap. 31-33.
** In King's "Gnostics," we find the system a little incorrect. The author tells us that he followed Bellermann's "Drei Programmen uber die Abraxas Gemmen."
Christian ideas. "He" (God), he says, "prepared her (Mary's) virginal and celestial purity, for a mother defiled could not become the mother of the Most High. The holy virgin, even in her childhood, was more pleasing than all the Cherubim and Seraphim, and from infancy to the maturing maidenhood and womanhood she grew more and more pure. By her very sanctity she reigned over the heart of God. When the hour came, the whole court of heaven was hushed, and the trinity listened for the answer of Mary, for without her consent the world could not have been redeemed."
Does it not seem as if we were reading Irenaeus explaining the Gnostic "Heresy, which taught that the Father and Son loved the beauty (formam) of the celestial Virgin"? or the Egyptian system, of Isis being both wife, sister, and mother of Osiris-Horus? With the Gnostic philosophy there were but two, but the Christians have improved and perfected the system by making it completely "heathen," for it is the Chaldean Anu -- Bel -- Hoa, merging into Mylitta. "Then while this month (of Mary)," adds Dr. Preston, "begins in the paschal season -- the month when nature decks herself with fruits and flowers, the harbingers of a bright harvest -- let us, too, begin for a golden harvest. In this month the dead come up out of the earth, figuring the resurrection; so, when we are kneeling before the altar of the holy and immaculate Mary, let us remember that there should come forth from us the bud of promise, the flower of hope, and the imperishable fruit of sanctity."
This is precisely the substratum of the Pagan thought, which, among other meanings, emblematized by the rites of the resurrection of Osiris, Adonis, Bacchus, and other slaughtered sun-gods, the resurrection of all nature in spring, the germination of seeds that had been dead and sleeping during winter, and so were allegorically said to be kept in the underworld (Hades). They are typified by the three days passed in hell before his resurrection by Hercules, by Christ, and others.
This derivation, or rather heresy, as it is called in Christianity, is simply the Brahmanic doctrine in all its archaic purity. Vishnu, the second personage of the Hindu trinity, is also the Logos, for he is made subsequently to incarnate himself in Christna. And Lakmy (or Lakshmy) who, as in the case of Osiris and Isis, of En-Soph and Sephira, and of Bythos and Ennoia, is both his wife, sister, and daughter, through this endless correlation of male and female creative powers in the abstruse metaphysics of the ancient philosophies -- is Sophia-Achamoth. Christna is the mediator promised by Brahma to mankind, and represents the same idea as the Gnostic Christos. And Lakmy, Vishnu's spiritual half, is the emblem of physical nature, the universal mother of all the material and revealed forms; the mediatrix and protector of nature, like Sophia-Achamoth, who is made by the Gnostics the mediatrix between the Great
Cause and Matter, as Christos is the mediator between him and spiritual humanity.
This Brahmano-Gnostic tenet is more logical, and more consistent with the allegory of Genesis and the fall of man. When God curses the first couple, He is made to curse also the earth and everything that is on it. The New Testament gives us a Redeemer for the first sin of mankind, which was punished for having sinned; but there is not a word said about a Saviour who would take off the unmerited curse from the earth and the animals, which had never sinned at all. Thus the Gnostic allegory shows a greater sense of both justice and logic than the Christian.
In the Ophite system, Sophia, the Androgyne Wisdom, is also the female spirit, or the Hindu female Nari (Narayana), moving on the face of the waters -- chaos, or future matter. She vivifies it from afar, but not touching the abyss of darkness. She is unable to do so, for Wisdom is purely intellectual, and cannot act directly on matter. Therefore, Sophia is obliged to address herself to her Supreme Parent; but although life proceeds primally from the Unseen Cause, and his Ennoia, neither of them can, any more than herself, have anything to do with the lower chaos in which matter assumes its definite shape. Thus, Sophia is obliged to employ on the task her imperfect emanation, Sophia-Achamoth, the latter being of a mixed nature, half spiritual and half material.
The only difference between the Ophite cosmogony and that of the St. John Nazarenes is a change of names. We find equally an identical system in the Kabala, the Book of Mystery (Liber Mysterii).* All the three systems, especially that of the kabalists and the Nazarenes, which were the models for the Ophite Cosmogony, belong to the pure Oriental Gnosticism. The Codex Nazaraeus opens with: "The Supreme King of Light, Mano, the great first one,"** etc., the latter being the emanation of Ferho -- the unknown, formless LIFE. He is the chief of the AEons, from whom proceed (or shoot forth) five refulgent rays of Divine light. Mano is Rex Lucis, the Bythos-Ennoia of the Ophites. "Unus est Rex Lucis in suo regno, nec ullus qui eo altior, nullus qui ejus similitudinem retulerit, nullus qui sublatis oculis, viderit Coronam quae in ejus capite est." He is the Manifested Light around the highest of the three kabalistic heads, the concealed wisdom; from him emanate the three Lives. AEbel Zivo is the revealed Logos, Christos the "Apostle Gabriel," and the first Legate or messenger of light. If Bythos and Ennoia are the Nazarene Mano, then the dual-natured, the semi-spiritual, semi-material Achamoth must be Fetahil when viewed from her spiritual aspect; and if regarded in her grosser nature, she is the Nazarene "Spiritus."
* See "Idra Magna."
** "Codex Nazaraeus," part i., p. 9.
Fetahil,* who is the reflection of his father, Lord Abatur, the third life -- as the elder Sophia is also the third emanation -- is the "newest-man." Perceiving his fruitless attempts to create a perfect material world, the "Spiritus" calls to one of her progeny, the Karabtanos -- Ilda-Baoth -- who is without sense or judgment ("blind matter"), to unite himself with her to create something definite out of this confused (turbulentos) matter, which task she is enabled to achieve only after having produced from this union with Karabtanos the seven stellars. Like the six sons or genii of the Gnostic Ilda-Baoth, they then frame the material world. The same story is repeated over again in Sophia-Achamoth. Delegated by her purely spiritual parent, the elder Sophia, to create the world of visible forms, she descended into chaos, and, overpowered by the emanation of matter, lost her way. Still ambitious to create a world of matter of her own, she busied herself hovering to and fro about the dark abyss, and imparted life and motion to the inert elements, until she became so hopelessly entangled in matter that, like Fetahil, she is represented sitting immersed in mud, and unable to extricate herself from it; until, by the contact of matter itself, she produces the Creator of the material world. He is the Demiurgus, called by the Ophites Ilda-Baoth, and, as we will directly show, the parent of the Jewish God in the opinion of some sects, and held by others to be the "Lord God" Himself. It is at this point of the kabalistic-gnostic cosmogony that begins the Mosaic Bible. Having accepted the Jewish Old Testament as their standard, no wonder that the Christians were forced by the exceptional position in which they were placed through their own ignorance, to make the best of it.
The first groups of Christians, whom Renan shows numbering but from seven to twelve men in each church, belonged unquestionably to the poorest and most ignorant classes. They had and could have no idea of the highly philosophical doctrines of the Platonists and Gnostics, and evidently knew as little about their own newly-made-up religion. To these, who if Jews, had been crushed under the tyrannical dominion of the "law," as enforced by the elders of the synagogues, and if Pagans had been always excluded, as the lower castes are until now in India, from the religious mysteries, the God of the Jews and the "Father" preached by Jesus were all one. The contentions which reigned from the first years following the death of Jesus, between the two parties, the Pauline and the Petrine -- were deplorable. What one did, the other deemed
* See "Codex Nazaraeus," i., 181. Fetahil, sent to frame the world, finds himself immersed in the abyss of mud, and soliloquizes in dismay until the Spiritus (Sophia-Achamoth) unites herself completely with matter, and so creates the material world.
a sacred duty to undo. If the Homilies are considered apocryphal, and cannot very well be accepted as an infallible standard by which to measure the animosity which raged between the two apostles, we have the Bible, and the proofs afforded therein are plentiful.
So hopelessly entangled seems Irenaeus in his fruitless endeavors to describe, to all outward appearance at least, the true doctrines of the many Gnostic sects of which he treats and to present them at the same time as abominable "heresies," that he either deliberately, or through ignorance, confounds all of them in such a way that few metaphysicians would be able to disentangle them, without the Kabala and the Codex as the true keys. Thus, for instance, he cannot even tell the difference between the Sethianites and the Ophites, and tells us that they called the "God of all," "Hominem," a MAN, and his mind the SECOND man, or the "Son of man." So does Theodoret, who lived more than two centuries after Irenaeus, and who makes a sad mess of the chronological order in which the various sects succeeded each other.* Neither the Sethianites, (a branch of the Jewish Nazarenes) nor the Ophites, a purely Greek sect, have ever held anything of the kind. Irenaeus contradicts his own words by describing in another place the doctrines of Cerinthus, the direct disciple of Simon Magus. He says that Cerinthus taught that the world was not created by the FIRST GOD, but by a virtue (virtus) or power, an AEon so distant from the First Cause that he was even ignorant of HIM who is above all things. This AEon subjected Jesus, he begot him physically through Joseph from one who was not a virgin, but simply the wife of that Joseph, and Jesus was born like all other men. Viewed from this physical aspect of his nature, Jesus was called the "son of man." It is only after his baptism, that Christos, the anointed, descended from the Princeliness of above, in the figure of a dove, and then announced the UNKNOWN Father through Jesus.**
If, therefore, Jesus was physically considered as a son of man, and spiritually as the Christos, who overshadowed him, how then could the "GOD OF ALL," the "Unknown Father," be called by the Gnostics Homo, a MAN, and his Mind, Ennoia, the SECOND man, or Son of man? Neither in the Oriental Kabala, nor in Gnosticism, was the "God of all" ever anthropomorphized. It is but the first, or rather the second emanations, for Shekinah, Sephira, Depth, and other first-manifested female virtues are also emanations, that are termed "primitive men." Thus Adam Kadmon, Ennoia (or Sige), the logoi in short, are the "only-begotten" ones but not the Sons of man, which appellation properly belongs to
* "Irenaeus," 37, and Theodoret, quoted in the same page.
** Ibid., i, xxv.
Christos the son of Sophia (the elder) and of the primitive man who produces him through his own vivifying light, which emanates from the source or cause of all, hence the cause of his light also, the "Unknown Father." There is a great difference made in the Gnostic metaphysics between the first unrevealed Logos and the "anointed," who is Christos. Ennoia may be termed, as Philo understands it, the Second God, but he alone is the "Primitive and First man," and by no means the Second one, as Theodoret and Irenaeus have it. It is but the inveterate desire of the latter to connect Jesus in every possible way, even in the Haeresies, with the Highest God, that led him into so many falsifications.
Such an identification with the Unknown God, even of Christos, the anointed -- the AEon who overshadowed him -- let alone of the man Jesus, never entered the head of the Gnostics nor even of the direct apostles and of Paul, whatever later forgeries may have added.
How daring and desperate were many such deliberate falsifications was shown in the first attempts to compare the original manuscripts with later ones. In Bishop Horseley's edition of Sir Isaac Newton's works, several manuscripts on theological subjects were cautiously withheld from publication. The article known as Christ's Descent into Hell, which is found in the later Apostles' Creed, is not to be found in the manuscripts of either the fourth or sixth centuries. It was an evident interpolation copied from the fables of Bacchus and Hercules and enforced upon Christendom as an article of faith. Concerning it the author of the preface to the Catalogue of the Manuscripts of the King's Library (preface, p. xxi.) remarks: "I wish that the insertion of the article of Christ's Descent into Hell into the Apostles' Creed could be as well accounted for as the insertion of the said verse" (First Epistle of John, v. 7).*
Now, this verse reads: "For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." This verse, which has been "appointed to be read in churches," is now known to be spurious. It is not to be found in any Greek manuscript," save one at Berlin, which was transcribed from some interpolated paraphrase between the lines. In the first and second editions of Erasmus, printed in 1516 and 1519, this allusion to these three heavenly witnesses is omitted; and the text is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century.** It was not
* See preface to the "Apocryphal New Testament," London, printed for W. Hone, Ludgate Hill, 1820.
** "It is first cited by Virgilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century, and by him it is suspected to have been forged."
mentioned by either of the Greek ecclesiastical writers nor by the early Latin fathers, so anxious to get at every proof in support of their trinity; and it was omitted by Luther in his German version. Edward Gibbon was early in pointing out its spurious character. Archbishop Newcome rejected it, and the Bishop of Lincoln expresses his conviction that it is spurious.* There are twenty-eight Greek authors -- Irenaeus, Clemens, and Athanasius included, who neither quote nor mention it; and seventeen Latin writers, numbering among them Augustine, Jerome, Ambrosius, Cyprian, and Pope Eusebius, who appear utterly ignorant of it. "It is evident that if the text of the heavenly witnesses had been known from the beginning of Christianity the ancients would have eagerly seized it, inserted it in their creeds, quoted it repeatedly against the heretics, and selected it for the brightest ornament of every book that they wrote upon the subject of the Trinity."**
Thus falls to the ground the strongest trinitarian pillar. Another not less obvious forgery is quoted from Sir Isaac Newton's words by the editor of the Apocryphal New Testament. Newton observes "that what the Latins have done to this text (First Epistle of John, v.), the Greeks have done to that of St. Paul (Timothy iii. 16). For, by changing [o] into [th], the abbreviation of [theos] (God), in the Alexandrian manuscript, from which their subsequent copies were made, they now read, "Great is the mystery of godliness, GOD manifested in the flesh"; whereas all the churches, for the first four or five centuries, and the authors of all the ancient versions, Jerome, as well as the rest, read: "Great is the mystery of godliness WHICH WAS manifested in the flesh." Newton adds, that now that the disputes over this forgery are over, they that read GOD made manifest in the flesh, instead of the godliness which was manifested in the flesh, think this passage "one of the most obvious and pertinent texts for the business."
And now we ask again the question: Who were the first Christians? Those who were readily converted by the eloquent simplicity of Paul, who promised them, with the name of Jesus, freedom from the narrow bonds of ecclesiasticism. They understood but one thing; they were the "children of promise" (Galatians iv. 28). The "allegory" of the Mosaic Bible was unveiled to them; the covenant "from the Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage" was Agar (Ibid., 24), the old Jewish synagogue, and she was "in bondage with her children" to Jerusalem, the new and the free, "the mother of us all." On the one hand the synagogue and the law which persecuted every one who dared to step across the narrow
* "Elements of Theology," vol. ii., p. 90, note.
** Parson's "Letters to Travis," 8vo., p. 402.
path of bigotry and dogmatism; on the other, Paganism* with its grand philosophical truths concealed from sight; unveiling itself but to the few, and leaving the masses hopelessly seeking to discover who was the god, among this overcrowded pantheon of deities and sub-deities. To others, the apostle of circumcision, supported by all his followers, was promising, if they obeyed the "law," a life hereafter, and a resurrection of which they had no previous idea. At the same time he never lost an occasion to contradict Paul without naming him, but indicating him so clearly that it is next to impossible to doubt whom Peter meant. While he may have converted some men, who whether they had believed in the Mosaic resurrection promised by the Pharisees, or had fallen into the nihilistic doctrines of the Sadducees, or had belonged to the polytheistic heathenism of the Pagan rabble, had no future after death, nothing but a mournful blank, we do not think that the work of contradiction, carried on so systematically by the two apostles, had helped much their work of proselytism. With the educated thinking classes they succeeded very little, as ecclesiastical history clearly shows. Where was the truth; where the inspired word of God? On the one hand as we have seen, they heard the apostle Paul explaining that of the two covenants, "which things are an allegory," the old one from Mount Sinai, "which gendereth unto bondage," was Agar the bondwoman; and Mount Sinai itself answered to "Jerusalem," which now is "in bondage" with her circumcised children; and the new covenant meant Jesus Christ -- the "Jerusalem which is above and free"; and on the other Peter, who was contradicting and even abusing him. Paul vehemently exclaims, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son" (the old law and the synagogue). "The son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of
* The term "Paganism" is properly used by many modern writers with hesitation. Professor Alexander Wilder, in his edition of Payne Knight's "Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology," says: "It ('Paganism') has degenerated into slang, and is generally employed with more or less of an opprobrious meaning. The correcter expression would have been 'the ancient ethnical worships,' but it would be hardly understood in its true sense, and we accordingly have adopted the term in popular use, but not disrespectfully. A religion which can develop a Plato, an Epictetus, and an Anaxagoras, is not gross, superficial, or totally unworthy of candid attention. Besides, many of the rites and doctrines included in the Christian as well as in the Jewish Institute, appeared first in the other systems. Zoroastrianism anticipated far more than has been imagined. The cross, the priestly robes and symbols, the sacraments, the Sabbath, the festivals and anniversaries, are all anterior to the Christian era by thousands of years. The ancient worship, after it had been excluded from its former shrines, and from the metropolitan towns, was maintained for a long time by the inhabitants of humble localities. To this fact it owes its later designation. From being kept up in the Pagi, or rural districts, its votaries were denominated Pagans, or provincials."
the free woman." "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. . . . Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing!" (Gal. v. 2). What do we find Peter writing? Whom does he mean by saying, "These who speak great swelling words of vanity. . . . While they promise them liberty, they themselves are servants of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. . . . For if they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, they are again entangled therein, and overcome . . . it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them" (Second Epistle).
Peter certainly cannot have meant the Gnostics, for they had never seen "the holy commandment delivered unto them"; Paul had. They never promised any one "liberty" from bondage, but Paul had done so repeatedly. Moreover the latter rejects the "old covenant," Agar the bondwoman; and Peter holds fast to it. Paul warns the people against the powers and dignities (the lower angels of the kabalists); and Peter, as will be shown further, respects them and denounces those who do not. Peter preaches circumcision, and Paul forbids it.
Later, when all these extraordinary blunders, contradictions, dissensions and inventions were forcibly crammed into a frame elaborately executed by the episcopal caste of the new religion, and called Christianity; and the chaotic picture itself cunningly preserved from too close scrutiny by a whole array of formidable Church penances and anathemas, which kept the curious back under the false pretense of sacrilege and profanation of divine mysteries; and millions of people had been butchered in the name of the God of mercy -- then came the Reformation. It certainly deserves its name in its fullest paradoxical sense. It abandoned Peter and alleges to have chosen Paul for its only leader. And the apostle who thundered against the old law of bondage; who left full liberty to Christians to either observe the Sabbath or set it aside; who rejects everything anterior to John the Baptist, is now the professed standard-bearer of Protestantism, which holds to the old law more than the Jews, imprisons those who view the Sabbath as Jesus and Paul did, and outvies the synagogue of the first century in dogmatic intolerance!
But who then were the first Christians, may still be asked? Doubtless the Ebionites; and in this we follow the authority of the best critics. "There can be little doubt that the author (of the Clementine Homilies) was a representative of Ebionitic Gnosticism, which had once been the
purest form of primitive Christianity. . . ."* And who were the Ebionites? The pupils and followers of the early Nazarenes, the kabalistic Gnostics. In the preface to the Codex Nazaraeus, the translator says: "That also the Nazarenes did not reject . . . the AEons is natural. For of the Ebionites who acknowledged them (the AEons), these were the instructors."**
We find, moreover, Epiphanius, the Christian Homer of The Heresies, telling us that "Ebion had the opinion of the Nazarenes, the form of the Cerinthians (who fable that the world was put together by angels), and the appellation of Christians."*** An appellation certainly more correctly applied to them than to the orthodox (so-called) Christians of the school of Irenaeus and the later Vatican. Renan shows the Ebionites numbering among their sect all the surviving relatives of Jesus. John the Baptist, his cousin and precursor, was the accepted Saviour of the Nazarenes, and their prophet. His disciples dwelt on the other side of the Jordan, and the scene of the baptism of the Jordan is clearly and beyond any question proved by the author of Sod, the Son of the Man, to have been the site of the Adonis-worship.**** "Over the Jordan and beyond the lake dwelt the Nazarenes, a sect said to have existed already at the birth of Jesus, and to have counted him among its number. They must have extended along the east of the Jordan, and southeasterly among the Arabians (Galat. i. 17, 21; ii. 11), and Sabaeans in the direction of Bosra; and again, they must have gone far north over the Lebanon to Antioch, also to the northeast to the Nazarian settlement in Beroea, where St. Jerome found them. In the desert the Mysteries of Adonis may have still prevailed; in the mountains Aiai Adonai was still a cry."*****
"Having been united (conjunctus) to the Nazarenes, each (Ebionite) imparted to the other out of his own wickedness, and decided that Christ was of the seed of a man," writes Epiphanius.
And if they did, we must suppose they knew more about their contemporary prophet than Epiphanius 400 years later. Theodoret, as shown elsewhere, describes the Nazarenes as Jews who "honor the Anointed as a just man," and use the evangel called "According to Peter." Jerome finds the authentic and originalevangel, written in Hebrew, by Matthew the apostle-publican, in the library collected at Caesarea, by the martyr Pamphilius. "I received permission from the Nazaraeans, who at Beroea of Syria used this (gospel) to translate it," he
* "Super. Relig.," vol. ii., p. 5.
** Norberg: Preface to "Cod. Naz.," p. v.
*** Epiph.: "Contra Ebionitas."
**** See preface, from page 1 to 34.
***** Ibid., p. 7, preface.
writes toward the end of the fourth century.* "In the evangel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use," adds Jerome, "which recently I translated from Hebrew into Greek,** and which is called by most persons the genuine Gospel of Matthew," etc.
That the apostles had received a "secret doctrine" from Jesus, and that he himself taught one, is evident from the following words of Jerome, who confessed it in an unguarded moment. Writing to the Bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, he complains that "a difficult work is enjoined, since this translation has been commanded me by your Felicities, which St. Matthew himself, the Apostle and Evangelist, DID NOT WISH TO BE OPENLY WRITTEN. For if it had not been SECRET, he (Matthew) would have added to the evangel that which he gave forth was his; but he made up this book sealed up in the Hebrew characters, which he put forth even in such a way that the book, written in Hebrew letters and by the hand of himself, might be possessed by the men most religious, who also, in the course of time, received it from those who preceded them. But this very book they never gave to any one to be transcribed, and its text they related some one way and some another."*** And he adds further on the same page: "And it happened that this book, having been published by a disciple of Manichaeus, named Seleucus, who also wrote falsely The Acts of the Apostles, exhibited matter not for edification, but for destruction; and that this book was approved in a synod which the ears of the Church properly refused to listen to."****
He admits, himself, that the book which he authenticates as being written "by the hand of Matthew"; a book which, notwithstanding that
* Hieronymus: "De Virus.," illust., cap. 3. "It is remarkable that, while all church fathers say that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, the whole of them use the Greek text as the genuine apostolic writing, without mentioning what relation the Hebrew Matthew has to our Greek one! It had many peculiar additions which are wanting in our evangel." (Olshausen: "Nachweis der Echtheit der sammtlichen Schriften des Neuen Test.," p. 32; Dunlap: "Sod, the Son of the Man," p. 44.)
** Hieronymus: "Commen. to Matthew," book ii., ch. xii., 13. Jerome adds that it was written in the Chaldaic language, but with Hebrew letters.
*** "St. Jerome," v., 445; "Sod, the Son of the Man," p. 46.
**** This accounts also for the rejection of the works of Justin Martyr, who used only this "Gospel according to the Hebrews," as also did most probably Titian, his disciple. At what late period was fully established the divinity of Christ we can judge by the mere fact that even in the fourth century Eusebius did not denounce this book as spurious, but only classed it with such as the Apocalypse of John; and Credner ("Zur Gesch. des Kan.," p. 120) shows Nicephorus inserting it, together with the Revelation, in his "Stichometry," among the Antilegomena. The Ebionites, the genuine primitive Christians, rejecting the rest of the apostolic writings, made use only of this Gospel ("Adv. Haer." i., 26), and the Ebionites, as Epiphanius declares, firmly believed, with the Nazarenes, that Jesus was but a man "of the seed of a man."
he translated it twice, was nearly unintelligible to him, for it was arcane or a secret. Nevertheless, Jerome coolly sets down every commentary upon it, except his own, as heretical. More than that, Jerome knew that this original Gospel of Matthew was the expounder of the only true doctrine of Christ; and that it was the work of an evangelist who had been the friend and companion of Jesus. He knew that if of the two Gospels, the Hebrew in question and the Greek belonging to our present Scripture, one was spurious, hence heretical, it was not that of the Nazarenes; and yet, knowing all this, Jerome becomes more zealous than ever in his persecutions of the "Haeretics." Why? Because to accept it was equivalent to reading the death-sentence of the established Church. The Gospel according to the Hebrews was but too well known to have been the only one accepted for four centuries by the Jewish Christians, the Nazarenes and the Ebionites. And neither of the latter accepted the divinity of Christ.
If the commentaries of Jerome on the Prophets, his famous Vulgate, and numerous polemical treatises are all as trustworthy as this version of the Gospel according to Matthew, then we have a divine revelation indeed.
Why wonder at the unfathomable mysteries of the Christian religion, since it is perfectly human? Have we not a letter written by one of the most respected Fathers of the Church to this same Jerome, which shows better than whole volumes their traditionary policy? This is what Saint Gregory of Nazianzen wrote to his friend and confidant Saint Jerome: "Nothing can impose better on a people than verbiage; the less they understand the more they admire. Our fathers and doctors have often said, not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity forced them to."
But to return to our Sophia-Achamoth and the belief of the genuine, primitive Christians.
After having produced Ilda-Baoth, Ilda from , a child, and Baoth from , the egg, or , Baoth, a waste, a desolation, Sophia-Achamoth suffered so much from the contact with matter, that after extraordinary struggles she escapes at last out of the muddy chaos. Although unacquainted with the pleroma, the region of her mother, she reached the middle space and succeeded in shaking off the material parts which have stuck to her spiritual nature; after which she immediately built a strong barrier between the world of intelligences (spirits) and the world of matter. Ilda-Baoth, is thus the "son of darkness," the creator of our sinful world (the physical portion of it). He follows the example of Bythos and produces from himself six stellar spirits (sons). They are all in his own image, and reflections one of the other, which become darker
as they successively recede from their father. With the latter, they all inhabit seven regions disposed like a ladder, beginning under the middle space, the region of their mother, Sophia-Achamoth, and ending with our earth, the seventh region. Thus they are the genii of the seven planetary spheres of which the lowest is the region of our earth (the sphere which surrounds it, our aether). The respective names of these genii of the spheres are Iove (Jehovah), Sabaoth, Adonai, Eloi, Ouraios, Astaphaios.* The first four, as every one knows, are the mystic names of the Jewish "Lord God,"** he being, as C. W. King expresses it, "thus degraded by the Ophites into the appellations of the subordinates of the Creator; the two last names are those of the genii of fire and water."
Ilda-Baoth, whom several sects regarded as the God of Moses, was not a pure spirit; he was ambitious and proud, and rejecting the spiritual light of the middle space offered him by his mother Sophia-Achamoth, he set himself to create a world of his own. Aided by his sons, the six planetary genii, he fabricated man, but this one proved a failure. It was a monster; soulless, ignorant, and crawling on all fours on the ground like a material beast. Ilda-Baoth was forced to implore the help of his spiritual mother. She communicated to him a ray of her divine light, and so animated man and endowed him with a soul. And now began the animosity of Ilda-Baoth toward his own creature. Following the impulse of the divine light, man soared higher and higher in his aspirations; very soon he began presenting not the image of his Creator Ilda-Baoth but rather that of the Supreme Being, the "primitive man," Ennoia. Then the Derniurgus was filled with rage and envy; and fixing his jealous eye on the abyss of matter, his looks envenomed with passion were suddenly reflected in it as in a mirror; the reflection became animate, and there arose out of the abyss Satan, serpent, Ophiomorphos -- "the embodiment of envy and of cunning. He is the union of all that is most base in matter, with the hate, envy, and craft of a spiritual intelligence."***
After that, always in spite at the perfection of man, Ilda-Baoth created the three kingdoms of nature, the mineral, vegetable, and animal, with all evil instincts and properties. Impotent to annihilate the Tree of Knowledge, which grows in his sphere as in every one of the planetary regions, but bent upon detaching "man" from his spiritual protectress, Ilda-Baoth forbade him to eat of its fruit, for fear it should reveal to mankind
* See King's "Gnostics," p. 31.
** This Iove, Iao, or Jehovah is quite distinct from the God of the Mysteries, IAO, held sacred by all the nations of antiquity. We will show the difference presently.
*** King's "Gnostics."
the mysteries of the superior world. But Sophia-Achamoth, who loved and protected the man whom she had animated, sent her own genius Ophis, in the form of a serpent to induce man to transgress the selfish and unjust command. And "man" suddenly became capable of comprehending the mysteries of creation.
Ilda-Baoth revenged himself by punishing the first pair, for man, through his knowledge, had already provided for himself a companion out of his spiritual and material half. He imprisoned man and woman in a dungeon of matter, in the body so unworthy of his nature, wherein man is still enthralled. But Achamoth protected him still. She established between her celestial region and "man," a current of divine light, and kept constantly supplying him with this spiritual illumination.
Then follow allegories embodying the idea of dualism, or the struggle between good and evil, spirit and matter, which is found in every cosmoogony, and the source of which is again to be sought in India. The types and antitypes represent the heroes of this Gnostic Pantheon, borrowed from the most ancient mythopoeic ages. But, in these personages, Ophis and Ophiomorphos, Sophia and Sophia-Achamoth, Adam-Kadmon, and Adam, the planetary genii and the divine AEons, we can also recognize very easily the models of our biblical copies -- the euhemerized patriarchs. The archangels, angels, virtues and powers, are all found, under other names, in the Vedas and the Buddhistic system. The Avestic Supreme Being, Zero-ana, or "Boundless Time," is the type of all these Gnostic and kabalistic "Depths," "Crowns," and even of the Chaldean En-Soph. The six Amshaspands, created through the "Word" of Ormazd, the "First-Born," have their reflections in Bythos and his emanations, and the antitype of Ormazd -- Ahriman and his devs also enter into the composition of Ilda-Baoth and his six material, though not wholly evil, planetary genii.
Achamoth, afflicted with the evils which befall humanity, notwithstanding her protection, beseeches the celestial mother Sophia -- her antitype-- to prevail on the unknown DEPTH to send down Christos (the son and emanation of the "Celestial Virgin") to the help of perishing humanity. Ilda-Baoth and his six sons of matter are shutting out the divine light from mankind. Man must be saved. Ilda-Baoth had already sent his own agent, John the Baptist, from the race of Seth, whom he protects -- as a prophet to his people; but only a small portion listened to him -- the Nazarenes, the opponents of the Jews, on account of their worshipping Iurbo-Adunai.* Achamoth had assured her son, Ilda-Baoth, that the
* Iurbo and Adunai, according to the Ophites, are names of Iao-Jehovah, one of the emanations of Ilda-Baoth. "Iurbo is called by the Abortions (the Jews) Adunai" ("Codex Nazaraeus," vol. iii., p. 73).
reign of Christos would be only temporal, and thus induced him to send the forerunner, or precursor. Besides that, she made him cause the birth of the man Jesus from the Virgin Mary, her own type on earth, "for the creation of a material personage could only be the work of the Demiurgus, not falling within the province of a higher power. As soon as Jesus was born, Christos, the perfect, uniting himself with Sophia (wisdom and spirituality), descended through the seven planetary regions, assuming in each an analogous form, and concealing his true nature from their genii, while he attracted into himself the sparks of divine light which they retained in their essence. Thus, Christos entered into the man Jesus at the moment of his baptism in the Jordan. From that time Jesus began to work miracles; before that, he had been completely ignorant of his mission."*
Ilda-Baoth, discovering that Christos was bringing to an end his own kingdom of matter, stirred up the Jews against him, and Jesus was put to death.** When on the Cross, Christos and Sophia left his body and returned to their own sphere. The material body of the man Jesus was abandoned to the earth, but he himself was given a body made up of aether (astral soul). "Thenceforward he consisted of merely soul and spirit, which was the reason why the disciples did not recognize him after the resurrection. In this spiritual state of a simulacrum, Jesus remained on earth for eighteen months after he had risen. During this last sojourn, he received from Sophia that perfect knowledge, that true Gnosis, which he communicated to the very few among the apostles who were capable of receiving the same."
"Thence, ascending up into the middle space, he sits on the right hand of Ilda-Baoth, but unperceived by him, and there collects all the souls which shall have been purified by the knowledge of Christ. When he has collected all the spiritual light that exists in matter, out of Ilda-Baoth's empire, the redemption will be accomplished and the world will be destroyed. Such is the meaning of the re-absorption of all the spiritual light into the pleroma or fulness, whence it originally descended."
* King: "The Gnostics and their Remains," p. 31.
** In the "Gospel of Nicodemus," Ilda-Baoth is called Satan by the pious and anonymous author; -- evidently, one of the final flings at the half-crushed enemy. "As for me," says Satan, excusing himself to the prince of hell, "I tempted him (Jesus), and stirred up my old people, the Jews, against him" (chap. xv. 9). Of all examples of Christian ingratitude this seems almost the most conspicuous. The poor Jews are first robbed of their sacred books, and then, in a spurious "Gospel," are insulted by the representation of Satan claiming them as his "old people." If they were his people, and at the same time are "God's chosen people," then the name of this God must be written Satan and not Jehovah. This is logic, but we doubt if it can be regarded as complimentary to the "Lord God of Israel."
The foregoing is from the description given by Theodoret and adopted by King in his Gnostics, with additions from Epiphanius and Irenaeus. But the former gives a very imperfect version, concocted partly from the descriptions of Irenaeus, and partly from his own knowledge of the later Ophites, who, toward the end of the third century, had blended already with several other sects. Irenaeus also confounds them very frequently, and the real theogony of the Ophites is given by none of them correctly. With the exception of a change in names, the above-given theogony is that of all the Gnostics, and also of the Nazarenes. Ophis is but the successor of the Egyptian Chnuphis, the Good Serpent with a lion's radiating head, and was held from days of the highest antiquity as an emblem of wisdom, or Thauth, the instructor and Saviour of humanity, the "Son of God." "Oh men, live soberly . . . win your immortality" exclaims Hermes, the thrice-great Trismegistus. "Instructor and guide of humanity, I will lead you on to salvation." Thus the oldest sectarians regarded Ophis, the Agathodaemon, as identical with Christos; the serpent being the emblem of celestial wisdom and eternity, and, in the present case, the antitype of the Egyptian Chnuphis-serpent. These Gnostics, the earliest of our Christian era, held: "That the supreme AEon, having emitted other AEons out of himself, one of them, a female, Prunnikos (concupiscence), descended into the chaos, whence, unable to escape, she remained suspended in the mid-space, being too clogged by matter to return above, and not falling lower where there was nothing in affinity with her nature. She then produced her son Ilda-Baoth, the God of the Jews, who, in his turn, produced seven AEons, or angels,* who created the seven heavens."
In this plurality of heavens the Christians believed from the first, for we find Paul teaching of their existence, and speaking of a man "caught up to the third heaven" (2 Corin., xiii.). "From these seven angels Ilda-Baoth shut up all that was above him, lest they should know of anything superior to himself.** They then created man in the image of their Father,*** but prone and crawling on the earth like a worm. But the heavenly mother, Prunnikos, wishing to deprive Ilda-Baoth of the power
* This is the Nazarene system; the Spiritus, after uniting herself with Karabtanos (matter, turbulent and senseless), brings forth seven badly-disposed stellars, in the Orcus; "Seven Figures," which she bore "witless" ("Codex Nazaraeus," i., p. 118). Justin Martyr evidently adopts this idea, for he tells us of "the sacred prophets, who say that one and the same spirit is divided into seven spirits" (pneumata). "Justin ad Graecos"; "Sod," vol. ii., p. 52. In the Apocalypse the Holy Spirit is subdivided into "seven spirits before the throne," from the Persian Mithraic mode of classifying.
** This certainly looks like the "jealous God" of the Jews.
*** It is the Elohim (plural) who create Adam, and do not wish man to become "as one of US."
with which she had unwittingly endowed him, infused into man a celestial spark -- the spirit. Immediately man rose upon his feet, soared in mind beyond the limits of the seven spheres, and glorified the Supreme Father, Him that is above Ilda-Baoth. Hence, the latter, full of jealousy, cast down his eyes upon the lowest stratum of matter, and begot a potency in the form of a serpent, whom they (the Ophites) call his son. Eve, obeying him as the son of God, was persuaded to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.* It is a self-evident fact that the serpent of the Genesis, who appears suddenly and without any preliminary introduction, must have been the antitype of the Persian Arch-Devs, whose head is Ash-Mogh, the "two-footed serpent of lies." If the Bible-serpent had been deprived of his limbs before he had tempted woman unto sin, why should God specify as a punishment that he should go "upon his belly"? Nobody supposes that he walked upon the extremity of his tail.
This controversy about the supremacy of Jehovah, between the Presbyters and Fathers on the one hand, and the Gnostics, the Nazarenes, and all the sects declared heterodox, as a last resort, on the other, lasted till the days of Constantine, and later. That the peculiar ideas of the Gnostics about the genealogy of Jehovah, or the proper place that had to be assigned, in the Christian-Gnostic Pantheon, to the God of the Jews, were at first deemed neither blasphemous nor heterodox is evident in the difference of opinions held on this question by Clemens of Alexandria, for instance, and Tertullian. The former, who seems to have known of Basilides better than anybody else, saw nothing heterodox or blamable in the mystical and transcendental views of the new Reformer. "In his eyes," remarks the author of The Gnostics, speaking of Clemens, "Basilides was not a heretic, i.e., an innovator as regards the doctrines of the Christian Church, but a mere theosophic philosopher, who sought to express ancient truths under new forms, and perhaps to combine them with the new faith, the truth of which he could admit without necessarily renouncing the old, exactly as is the case with the learned Hindus of our day."**
Not so with Irenaeus and Tertullian.*** The principal works of the latter against the Heretics, were written after his separation from the Catholic Church, when he had ranged himself among the zealous followers of Montanus; and teem with unfairness and bigoted prejudice.****
* Theodoret: "Haeret."; King's "Gnostics."
** "Gnostics and their Remains," p. 78.
*** Some persons hold that he was Bishop of Rome; others, of Carthage.
**** His polemical work addressed against the so-called orthodox Church -- the Catholic -- notwithstanding its bitterness and usual style of vituperation, is far more fair, considering that the "great African" is said to have been expelled from the Church of [Footnote continued on next page]
He has exaggerated every Gnostic opinion to a monstrous absurdity, and his arguments are not based on coercive reasoning but simply on the blind stubbornness of a partisan fanatic. Discussing Basilides, the "pious, god-like, theosophic philosopher," as Clemens of Alexandria thought him, Tertullian exclaims: "After this, Basilides, the heretic, broke loose.* He asserted that there is a Supreme God, by name Abraxas, by whom Mind was created, whom the Greeks call Nous. From her emanated the Word; from the Word, Providence; from Providence, Virtue and Wisdom; from these two again, Virtues, Principalities,** and Powers were made; thence infinite productions and emissions of angels. Among the lowest angels, indeed, and those that made this world, he sets last of all the god of the Jews, whom he denies to be God himself, affirming that he is but one of the angels."***
It would be equally useless to refer to the direct apostles of Christ, and show them as holding in their controversies that Jesus never made any difference between his "Father" and the "Lord-God" of Moses. For the Clementine Homilies, in which occur the greatest argumentations upon the subject, as shown in the disputations alleged to have taken place between Peter and Simon the Magician, are now also proved to have been falsely attributed to Clement the Roman. This work, if written by an Ebionite -- as the author of Supernatural Religion declares in common with some other commentators**** -- must have been written either far later than the Pauline period, generally assigned to it, or the dispute
[Footnote continued from previous page] Rome. If we believe St. Jerome, it is but the envy and the unmerited calumnies of the early Roman clergy against Tertullian which forced him to renounce the Catholic Church and become a Montanist. However, were the unlimited admiration of St. Cyprian, who terms Tertullian "The Master," and his estimate of him merited, we would see less error and paganism in the Church of Rome. The expression of Vincent of Lerius, "that every word of Tertullian was a sentence, and every sentence a triumph over error," does not seem very happy when we think of the respect paid to Tertullian by the Church of Rome, notwithstanding his partial apostasy and the errors in which the latter still abides and has even enforced upon the world as infallible dogmas.
* Were not the views of the Phrygian Bishop Montanus, also deemed a HERESY by the Church of Rome? It is quite extraordinary to see how easily the Vatican encourages the abuse of one heretic Tertullian, against another heretic Basilides, when the abuse happens to further her own object.
** Does not Paul himself speak of "Principalities and Powers in heavenly places" (Ephesians iii. 10; i. 21), and confess that there be gods many and Lords many (Kurioi)? And angels, powers (Dunameis), and Principalities? (See 1 Corinthians, viii. 5; and Epistle to Romans, viii. 38.)
*** Tertullian: "Praescript."
**** Baur; Credner; Hilgenfeld; Kirchhofer; Lechler; Nicolas; Ritschl; Schwegler; Westcott, and Zeller; see "Supernatural Religion," vol. ii., p. 2.
about the identity of Jehovah with God, the "Father of Jesus," have been distorted by later interpolations. This disputation is in its very essence antagonistic to the early doctrines of the Ebionites. The latter, as demonstrated by Epiphanius and Theodoret, were the direct followers of the Nazarene sect* (the Sabians), the "Disciples of John." He says, unequivocally, that the Ebionites believed in the AEons (emanations), that the Nazarenes were their instructors, and that "each imparted to the other out of his own wickedness." Therefore, holding the same beliefs as the Nazarenes did, an Ebionite would not have given even so much chance to the doctrine supported by Peter in the Homilies. The old Nazarenes, as well as the later ones, whose views are embodied in the Codex Nazaraseus, never called Jehovah otherwise than Adonai, Iurbo, the God of the Abortive** (the orthodox Jews). They kept their beliefs and religious tenets so secret that even Epiphanius, writing as early as the end of the fourth century,*** confesses his ignorance as to their real doctrine. "Dropping the name of Jesus," says the Bishop of Salamis, "they neither call themselves Iessaens, nor continue to hold the name of the Jews, nor name themselves Christians, but Nazarenes . . . The resurrection of the dead is confessed by them . . . but concerning Christ, I cannot say whether they think him a mere man, or as the truth is, confess that he was born through the Holy Pneuma from the Virgin."****
While Simon Magus argues in the Homilies from the standpoint of every Gnostic (Nazarenes and Ebionites included), Peter, as a true apostle of circumcision, holds to the old Law and, as a matter of course, seeks to blend his belief in the divinity of Christ with his old Faith in the "Lord God" and ex-protector of the "chosen people." As the author of Supernatural Religion shows, the Epitome,***** "a blending of the other two, probably intended to purge them from heretical doctrine"****** and, together with a great majority of critics, assigns to the Homilies, a date not earlier than the end of the third century, we may well infer that they must differ widely with their original, if there ever was one. Simon the Magician proves throughout the whole work that the Demiurgus,
* See Epiphanius: "Contra Ebionitas."
** The Ophites, for instance, made of Adonai the third son of Ilda-Baoth, a malignant genius, and, like his other five brothers, a constant enemy and adversary of man, whose divine and immortal spirit gave man the means of becoming the rival of these genii.
*** The Bishop of Salamis died A. D. 403.
**** "Epiphanius," i., 122, 123.
***** The "Clementines" are composed of three parts -- to wit: the Homilies, the Recognitions, and an Epitome.
****** "Supernatural Religion," vol. ii., p. 2.
the Architect of the World, is not the highest Deity; and he bases his assertions upon the words of Jesus himself, who states repeatedly that "no man knew the Father." Peter is made in the Homilies to repudiate, with a great show of indignation, the assertion that the Patriarchs were not deemed worthy to know the Father; to which Simon objects again by quoting the words of Jesus, who thanks the "Lord of Heaven and earth that what was concealed from the wise" he has "revealed to babes," proving very logically that according to these very words the Patriarchs could not have known the "Father." Then Peter argues, in his turn, that the expression, "what is concealed from the wise," etc., referred to the concealed mysteries of the creation.*
This argumentation of Peter, therefore, had it even emanated from the apostle himself, instead of being a "religious romance," as the author of Supernatural Religion calls it, would prove nothing whatever in favor of the identity of the God of the Jews, with the "Father" of Jesus. At best it would only demonstrate that Peter had remained from first to last "an apostle of circumcision," a Jew faithful to his old law, and a defender of the Old Testament. This conversation proves, moreover, the weakness of the cause he defends, for we see in the apostle a man who, although in most intimate relations with Jesus, can furnish us nothing in the way of direct proof that he ever thought of teaching that the all-wise and all-good Paternity he preached was the morose and revengeful thunderer of Mount Sinai. But what the Homilies do prove, is again our assertion that there was a secret doctrine preached by Jesus to the few who were deemed worthy to become its recipients and custodians. "And Peter said: 'We remember that our Lord and teacher, as commanding, said to us, guard the mysteries for me, and the sons of my house. Wherefore also he explained to his disciples, privately, the mysteries of the kingdoms of the heavens.' "**
If we now recall the fact that a portion of the Mysteries of the "Pagans" consisted of the aporrheta, or secret discourses; that the secret Logia or discourses of Jesus contained in the original Gospel according to Matthew, the meaning and interpretation of which St. Jerome confessed to be "a difficult task" for him to achieve, were of the same nature; and if we remember, further, that to some of the interior or final Mysteries only a very select few were admitted; and that finally it was from the number of the latter that were taken all the ministers of the holy "Pagan" rites, we will then clearly understand this expression of Jesus quoted by Peter: "Guard the Mysteries for me and the sons of my
* "Homilies," xviii., 1-15.
** "Clementine Homilies"; "Supernatural Religion," vol. ii.
house," i.e., of my doctrine. And, if we understand it rightly, we cannot avoid thinking that this "secret" doctrine of Jesus, even the technical expressions of which are but so many duplications of the Gnostic and Neo-platonic mystic phraseology -- that this doctrine, we say, was based on the same transcendental philosophy of Oriental Gnosis as the rest of the religions of those and earliest days. That none of the later Christian sects, despite their boasting, were the inheritors of it, is evident from the contradictions, blunders, and clumsy repatching of the mistakes of every preceding century by the discoveries of the succeeding one. These mistakes, in a number of manuscripts claimed to be authentic, are sometimes so ridiculous as to bear on their face the evidence of being pious forgeries. Thus, for instance, the utter ignorance of some patristic champions of the very gospels they claimed to defend. We have mentioned the accusation against Marcion by Tertullian and Epiphanius of mutilating the Gospel ascribed to Luke, and erasing from it that which is now proved to have never been in that Gospel at all. Finally, the method adopted by Jesus of speaking in parables, in which he only followed the example of his sect, is attributed in the Homilies to a prophecy of Isaiah! Peter is made to remark: "For Isaiah said: 'I will open my mouth in parables, and I will utter things that have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.' " This erroneous reference to Isaiah of a sentence given in Psalms lxxviii. 2, is found not only in the apocryphal Homilies, but also in the Sinaitic Codex. Commenting on the fact in the Supernatural Religion, the author states that "Porphyry, in the third century, twitted Christians with this erroneous ascription by their inspired evangelist to Isaiah of a passage from a Psalm, and reduced the Fathers to great straits."* Eusebius and Jerome tried to get out of the difficulty by ascribing the mistake to an "ignorant scribe"; and Jerome even went to the length of asserting that the name of Isaiah never stood after the above sentence in any of the old codices, but that the name of Asaph was found in its place, only "ignorant men had removed it."** To this, the author again observes that "the fact is that the reading 'Asaph' for 'Isaiah' is not found in any manuscript extant; and, although 'Isaiah' has disappeared from all but a few obscure codices, it cannot be denied that the name anciently stood in the text. In the Sinaitic Codex, which is probably the earliest manuscript extant . . . and which is assigned to the fourth century," he adds, "the prophet Isaiah stands in the text by the first hand, but is erased by the second."**
It is a most suggestive fact that there is not a word in the so-called
* "Supernatural Religion," p. 11.
** Hieron.: "Opp.," vii., p. 270, ff.; "Supernatural Religion," p. 11.
sacred Scriptures to show that Jesus was actually regarded as a God by his disciples. Neither before nor after his death did they pay him divine honors. Their relation to him was only that of disciples and "master"; by which name they addressed him, as the followers of Pythagoras and Plato addressed their respective masters before them. Whatever words may have been put into the mouths of Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and others, there is not a single act of adoration recorded on their part, nor did Jesus himself ever declare his identity with his Father. He accused the Pharisees of stoning their prophets, not of deicide. He termed himself the son of God, but took care to assert repeatedly that they were all the children of God, who was the Heavenly Father of all. In preaching this, he but repeated a doctrine taught ages earlier by Hermes, Plato, and other philosophers. Strange contradiction! Jesus, whom we are asked to worship as the one living God, is found, immediately after his Resurrection, saying to Mary Magdalene: "I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God!" (John xx. 17.)
Does this look like identifying himself with his Father? "My Father and your Father, my God and your God," implies, on his part, a desire to be considered on a perfect equality with his brethren -- nothing more. Theodoret writes: "The haeretics agree with us respecting the beginning of all things. . . . But they say there is not one Christ (God), but one above, and the other below. And this last formerly dwelt in many; but the Jesus, they at one time say is from God, at another they call him a SPIRIT."* This spirit is the Christos, the messenger of life, who is sometimes called the Angel Gabriel (in Hebrew, the mighty one of God), and who took with the Gnostics the place of the Logos, while the Holy Spirit was considered Life.** With the sect of the Nazarenes, though, the Spiritus, or Holy Ghost, had less honor. While nearly every Gnostic sect considered it a Female Power, whether they called it Binah, , Sophia, the Divine Intellect, with the Nazarene sect it was the Female Spiritus, the astral light, the genetrix of all things of matter, the chaos in its evil aspect, made turbido by the Demiurge. At the creation of man, "it was light on the side of the FATHER, and it was light (material light) on the side of the MOTHER. And this is the 'two-fold man,' "*** says the Sohar. "That day (the last one) will perish the seven badly-disposed stellars, also the sons of man, who have confessed the Spiritus, the Messias (false), the Deus, and the MOTHER of the SPIRITUS shall perish." ****
* Theodoret: "Haeret. Fab.," ii., vii.
** See "Irenaeus," I., xii., p. 86.
*** "Auszuge aus dem Sohar," p. 12.
**** "Cod. Naz.," vol. ii., p. 149.
Jesus enforced and illustrated his doctrines with signs and wonders; and if we lay aside the claims advanced on his behalf by his deifiers, he did but what other kabalists did; and only they at that epoch, when, for two centuries the sources of prophecy had been completely dried up, and from this stagnation of public "miracles" had originated the skepticism of the unbelieving sect of the Sadducees. Describing the "heresies" of those days, Theodoret, who has no idea of the hidden meaning of the word Christos, theanointed messenger, complains that they (the Gnostics) assert that this Messenger or Delegatus changes his body from time to time, "and goes into other bodies, and at each time is differently Manifested. And these (the overshadowed prophets) use incantations and invocations of various demons and baptisms in the confession of their principles. . . . They embrace astrology and magic, and the mathematical error," (?) he says.*
This "mathematical error," of which the pious writer complains, led subsequently to the rediscovery of the heliocentric system, erroneous as it may still be, and forgotten since the days of another "magician" who taught it -- Pythagoras. Thus, the wonders of healing and the thaums of Jesus, which he imparted to his followers, show that they were learning, in their daily communication with him, the theory and practice of the new ethics, day by day, and in the familiar intercourse of intimate friendship. Their faith was progressively developed, like that of all neophytes, simultaneously with the increase of knowledge. We must bear in mind that Josephus, who certainly must have been well-informed on the subject, calls the skill of expelling demons "a science." This growth of faith is conspicuously shown in the case of Peter, who, from having lacked enough faith to support him while he could walk on the water from the boat to his Master, at last became so expert a thaumaturgist, that Simon Magus is said to have offered him money to teach him the secret of healing, and other wonders. And Philip is shown to have become an AEthrobat as good as Abaris of Pythagorean memory, but less expert than Simon Magus.
Neither in the Homilies nor any other early work of the apostles, is there anything to show that either of his friends and followers regarded Jesus as anything more than a prophet. The idea is as clearly established in the Clementines. Except that too much room is afforded to Peter to establish the identity of the Mosaic God with the Father of Jesus, the whole work is devoted to Monotheism. The author seems as bitter against Polytheism as against the claim to the divinity of Christ.** He seems
* Theodoret: "Haeret. Fab.," ii., vii.
** "Homilies," xvi., 15 ff.; ii., 12; iii., 57-59; x., 19. Schliemann: "Die Clementinem," p. 134 ff; "Supernatural Religion," vol. ii., p. 349.
to be utterly ignorant of the Logos, and his speculation is confined to Sophia, the Gnostic wisdom. There is no trace in it of a hypostatic trinity, but the same overshadowing of the Gnostic "wisdom (Christos and Sophia) is attributed in the case of Jesus as it is in those of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.* These personages are all placed on one level, and called 'true prophets,' and the seven pillars of the world." More than that, Peter vehemently denies the fall of Adam, and with him, the doctrine of atonement, as taught by Christian theology, utterly falls to the ground, for he combats it as a blasphemy.** Peter's theory of sin is that of the Jewish kabalists, and even, in a certain way, Platonic. Adam not only never sinned, but, "as a true prophet, possessed of the Spirit of God, which afterwards was in Jesus, could not sin."*** In short, the whole of the work exhibits the belief of the author in the kabalistic doctrine of permutation. The Kabala teaches the doctrine of transmigration of the spirit.**** "Mosah is the revolutio of Seth and Hebel."*****
"Tell me who it is who brings about the re-birth (the revolutio)?" is asked of the wise Hermes. "God's Son, the only man, through the will of God," is the answer of the "heathen."******
"God's son" is the immortal spirit assigned to every human being. It is this divine entity which is the "only man," for the casket which contains our soul, and the soul itself, are but half-entities, and without its overshadowing both body and astral soul, the two are but an animal duad. It requires a trinity to form the complete "man," and allow him to remain immortal at every "re-birth," orrevolutio, throughout the subsequent and ascending spheres, every one of which brings him nearer to the refulgent realm of eternal and absolute light.
"God's FIRST-BORN, who is the 'holy Veil,' the 'Light of Lights,' it is he who sends the revolutio of the Delegatus, for he is the First Power," says the kabalist.*******
"The pneuma (spirit) and the dunamis (power), which is from the God, it is right to consider nothing else than the Logos, who is also (?) First-begotten to the God," argues a Christian.*****
"Angels and powers are in heaven!" says Justin, thus bringing forth a purely kabalistic doctrine. The Christians adopted it from the
* "Homilies," iii., 20 f; ii., 16-18, etc.
** Ibid., iii., 20 ff.
*** Schliemann: "Die Clementinem," pp. 130-176; quoted also in "Supernatural Religion," p. 342.
**** We will speak of this doctrine further on.
***** "Kabbala Denudata," vol. ii., p. 155; "Vallis Regia."
****** "Hermes," X., iv., 21-23.
******* Idra Magna: "Kabbala Denudata."
******** Justin Martyr: "Apol.," vol. ii., p. 74.
Sohar and the heretical sects, and if Jesus mentioned them, it was not in the official synagogues that he learned the theory, but directly in the kabalistic teachings. In the Mosaic books, very little mention is made of them, and Moses, who holds direct communications with the "Lord God," troubles himself very little about them. The doctrine was a secret one, and deemed by the orthodox synagogue heretical. Josephus calls the Essenes heretics, saying: "Those admitted among the Essenes must swear to communicate their doctrines to no one any otherwise than as he received them himself, and equally to preserve the books belonging to their sect, and the names of the angels.* The Sadducees did not believe in angels, neither did the uninitiated Gentiles, who limited their Olympus to gods and demi-gods, or "spirits." Alone, the kabalists and theurgists hold to that doctrine from time immemorial, and, as a consequence, Plato, and Philo Judaeus after him, followed first by the Gnostics, and then by the Christians.
Thus, if Josephus never wrote the famous interpolation forged by Eusebius, concerning Jesus, on the other hand, he has described in the Essenes all the principal features that we find prominent in the Nazarene. When praying, they sought solitude.** "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet . . . and pray to thy Father which is in secret" (Matthew vi. 6). "Everything spoken by them (Essenes) is stronger than an oath. Swearing is shunned by them" (Josephus II., viii., 6). "But I say unto you, swear not at all . . . but let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay" (Matthew v. 34-37).
The Nazarenes, as well as the Essenes and the Therapeutae, believed more in their own interpretations of the "hidden sense" of the more ancient Scriptures, than in the later laws of Moses. Jesus, as we have shown before, felt but little veneration for the commandments of his predecessor, with whom Irenaeus is so anxious to connect him.
The Essenes "enter into the houses of those whom they never saw previously, as if they were their intimate friends" (Josephus II., viii., 4). Such was undeniably the custom of Jesus and his disciples.
Epiphanius, who places the Ebionite "heresy" on one level with that of the Nazarenes, also remarks that the Nazaraioi come next to the Cerinthians,*** so much vituperated against by Irenaeus.****
* Josephus: "Wars," II., chap. 8, sec. 7.
** See Josephus; Philo; Munk (35). Eusebius mentions their semneion, where they perform the mysteries of a retired life ("Ecclesiastic History," lib. ii., ch. 17).
*** "Epiphanius," ed. Petau, i., p. 117.
**** Cerinthus is the same Gnostic -- a contemporary of John the Evangelist -- of whom Ireraeus invented the following anecdote: "There are those who heard him (Polycarp) say that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and [Footnote continued on next page]
Munk, in his work on Palestine, affirms that there were 4,000 Essenes living in the desert; that they had their mystical books, and predicted the future.* The Nabatheans, with very little difference indeed, adhered to the same belief as the Nazarenes and the Sabeans, and all of them honored John the Baptist more than his successor Jesus. The Persian Iezidi say that they originally came to Syria from Busrah. They use baptism, and believe in seven archangels, though paying at the same time reverence to Satan. Their prophet Iezed, who flourished long prior to Mahomet,** taught that God will send a messenger, and that the latter would reveal to him a book which is already written in heaven from the eternity.*** The Nabatheans inhabited the Lebanon, as their descendants do to the present day, and their religion was from its origin purely kabalistic. Maimonides speaks of them as if he identified them with the Sabeans. "I will mention to thee the writings . . . respecting the belief and institutions of the Sabeans," he says. "The most famous is the book The Agriculture of the Nabathaeans, which has been translated by Ibn Waho-hijah. This book is full of heathenish foolishness. . . . It speaks of the preparations of TALISMANS, the drawing down of the powers of the SPIRITS, MAGIC, DEMONS, and ghouls, which make their abode in the desert."**** There are traditions among the tribes living scattered about beyond the Jordan, as there are many such also among the descendants of the Samaritans at Damascus, Gaza, and at Naplosa (the ancient Shechem). Many of these tribes have, notwithstanding the persecutions of eighteen centuries, retained the faith of their fathers in its primitive simplicity. It is there that we have to go for traditions based on historical truths, however disfigured by exaggeration and inaccuracy, and compare them with the religious legends of the Fathers, which they call revelation. Eusebius states that before the siege of Jerusalem the small Christian community -- comprising members of whom many, if not all, knew Jesus and his apostles personally -- took refuge in the little town of Pella, on the opposite shore of the Jordan. Surely these simple people, separated for centuries from the rest of the world, ought to have preserved their traditions fresher than any other nations! It is in Palestine that we have to search for the clearest waters of Christianity, let alone its source. The first Christians, after the death of Jesus, all joined together for a time, whether
[Footnote continued from previous page] perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed forth from the bath-house . . . crying out, 'Let us fly, lest the bath-house fall down, Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, being within it' " (Irenaeus: "Adv. Haer.," iii. 3, § 4).
* Munk: "Palestine," p. 525; "Sod, the Son of the Man."
** "Haxthausen," p. 229.
*** "Shahrastani"; Dr. D. Chwolsohn: "Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus," ii., p. 625.
**** Maimonides, quoted in Dr. D. Chwolsohn: "Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus," ii., p. 458.
they were Ebionites, Nazarenes, Gnostics, or others. They had no Christian dogmas in those days, and their Christianity consisted in believing Jesus to be a prophet, this belief varying from seeing in him simply a "just man,"* or a holy, inspired prophet, a vehicle used by Christos and Sophia to manifest themselves through. These all united together in opposition to the synagogue and the tyrannical technicalities of the Pharisees, until the primitive group separated in two distinct branches -- which, we may correctly term the Christian kabalists of the Jewish Tanaim school, and the Christian kabalists of the Platonic Gnosis.** The former were represented by the party composed of the followers of Peter, and John, the author of the Apocalypse; the latter ranged with the Pauline Christianity, blending itself, at the end of the second century, with the Platonic philosophy, and engulfing, still later, the Gnostic sects, whose symbols and misunderstood mysticism overflowed the Church of Rome.
Amid this jumble of contradictions, what Christian is secure in confessing himself such? In the old Syriac Gospel according to Luke (iii. 22), the Holy Spirit is said to have descended in the likeness of a dove. "Jesua, full of the sacred Spirit, returned from Jordan, and the Spirit led him into the desert" (old Syriac, Luke iv. 1, Tremellius). "The difficulty," says Dunlap, "was that the Gospels declared that John the Baptist saw the Spirit (the Power of God) descend upon Jesus after he had reached manhood, and if the Spirit then first descended upon him, there was some ground for the opinion of the Ebionites and Nazarenes who denied his preceding existence, and refused him the attributes of the LOGOS. The Gnostics, on the other hand, objected to the flesh, but conceded the Logos."***
John's Apocalypsis, and the explanations of sincere Christian bishops, like Synesius, who, to the last, adhered to the Platonic doctrines, make us think that the wisest and safest way is to hold to that sincere primitive faith which seems to have actuated the above-named bishop. This best, sincerest, and most unfortunate of Christians, addressing the "Unknown," exclaims: "Oh Father of the Worlds . . . Father of the AEons . . . Artificer of the Gods, it is holy to praise!" But Synesius had Hypatia for instructor, and this is why we find him confessing in all sincerity his opinions and profession of faith. "The rabble desires
* "Ye have condemned and killed the just," says James in his epistle to the twelve tribes.
** Porphyry makes a distinction between what he calls "the Antique or Oriental philosophy," and the properly Grecian system, that of the Neo-platonists. King says that all these religions and systems are branches of one antique and common religion, the Asiatic or Buddhistic ("Gnostics and their Remains," p. 1).
*** "Sod, the Son of the Man."
nothing better than to be deceived. . . . As regards myself, therefore, I will always be a philosopher with myself, but I must be priest with the people."
"Holy is God the Father of all being, holy is God, whose wisdom is carried out into execution by his own Powers! . . . Holy art Thou, who through the Word had created all! Therefore, I believe in Thee, and bear testimony, and go into the LIFE and LIGHT."* Thus speaks Hermes Trismegistus, the heathen divine. What Christian bishop could have said better than that?
The apparent discrepancy of the four gospels as a whole, does not prevent every narrative given in the New Testament -- however much disfigured -- having a ground-work of truth. To this, are cunningly adapted details made to fit the later exigencies of the Church. So, propped up partially by indirect evidence, still more by blind faith, they have become, with time, articles of faith. Even the fictitious massacre of the "Innocents" by King Herod has a certain foundation to it, in its allegorical sense. Apart from the now-discovered fact that the whole story of such a massacre of the Innocents is bodily taken from the Hindu Bagaved-gitta, and Brahmanical traditions, the legend refers, moreover, allegorically, to an historical fact. King Herod is the type of Kansa, the tyrant of Madura, the maternal uncle of Christna, to whom astrologers predicted that a son of his niece Devaki would deprive him of his throne. Therefore he gives orders to kill the male child that is born to her; but Christna escapes his fury through the protection of Mahadeva (the great God) who causes the child to be carried away to another city, out of Kansa's reach. After that, in order to be sure and kill the right boy, on whom he failed to lay his murderous hands, Kansa has all the male newborn infants within his kingdom killed. Christna is also worshipped by the gopas (the shepherds) of the land.
Though this ancient Indian legend bears a very suspicious resemblance to the more modern biblical romance, Gaffarel and others attribute the origin of the latter to the persecutions during the Herodian reign of the kabalists and the Wise men, who had not remained strictly orthodox. The latter, as well as the prophets, were nicknamed the "Innocents," and the "Babes," on account of their holiness. As in the case of certain degrees of modern Masonry, the adepts reckoned their grade of initiation by a symbolic age. Thus Saul who, when chosen king, was "a choice and goodly man," and "from his shoulders upward was higher than any of the people," is described in Catholic versions, as "child of one year when he began to reign," which, in its literal sense, is a palpa-
* "Hermes Trismegistus," pp. 86, 87, 90.
ble absurdity. But in 1 Samuel x., his anointing by Samuel and initiation are described; and at verse 6th, Samuel uses this significant language: " . . . the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man." The phrase above quoted is thus made plain -- he had received one degree of initiation and was symbolically described as "a child one year old." The Catholic Bible, from which the text is quoted, with charming candor says in a foot-note: "It is extremely difficult to explain" (meaning that Saul was a child of one year). But undaunted by any difficulty the Editor, nevertheless, does take upon himself to explain it, and adds: "A child of one year. That is, he was good and like an innocent child." An interpretation as ingenious as it is pious; and which if it does no good can certainly do no harm.*
If the explanation of the kabalists is rejected, then the whole subject falls into confusion; worse still -- for it becomes a direct plagiarism from the Hindu legend. All the commentators have agreed that a literal massacre of young children is nowhere mentioned in history; and that, moreover, an occurrence like that would have made such a bloody page in Roman annals that the record of it would have been preserved for us by every author of the day. Herod himself was subject to the Roman law; and undoubtedly he would have paid the penalty of such a monstrous crime, with his own life. But if, on the one hand, we have not the slightest trace of this fable in history, on the other, we find in the
* It is the correct interpretation of the Bible allegories that makes the Catholic clergy so wrathful with the Protestants who freely scrutinize the Bible. How bitter this feeling has become, we can judge by the following words of the Reverend Father Parker of Hyde Park, New York, who, lecturing in St. Teresa's Catholic Church, on the 10th of December, 1876, said: "To whom does the Protestant Church owe its possession of the Bible, which they wish to place in the hands of every ignorant person and child? To monkish hands, that laboriously transcribed it before the age of printing. Protestantism has produced dissension in Church, rebellions and outbreaks in State, unsoundness in social life, and will never be satisfied short of the downfall of the Bible! Protestants must admit that the Roman Church has done more to scatter Christianity and extirpate idolatry than all their sects. From one pulpit it is said that there is no hell, and from another that there is immediate and unmitigated damnation. One says that Jesus Christ was only a man; another that you must be plunged bodily into water to be baptized, and refuses the rites to infants. Most of them have no prescribed form of worship, no sacred vestments, and their doctrines are as undefined as their service is informal. The founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther, was the worst man in Europe. The advent of the Reformation was the signal for civil war, and from that time to this the world has been in a restless state, uneasy in regard to Governments, and every day becoming more skeptical. The ultimate tendency of Protestantism is clearly nothing less than the destruction of all respect for the Bible, and the disruption of government and society." Very plain talk this. The Protestants might easily return the compliment.
official complaints of the Synagogue abundant evidence of the persecution of the initiates. The Talmud also corroborates it.
The Jewish version of the birth of Jesus is recorded in the Sepher-Toldos Jeshu in the following words:
"Mary having become the mother of a Son, named Jehosuah, and the boy growing up, she entrusted him to the care of the Rabbi Elhanan, and the child progressed in knowledge, for he was well gifted with spirit and understanding.
"Rabbi Jehosuah, son of Perachiah, continued the education of Jehosuah (Jesus) after Elhanan, and initiated him in the secret knowledge"; but the King, Janneus, having given orders to slay all the initiates, Jehosuah Ben Perachiah, fled to Alexandria, in Egypt, taking the boy with him.
While in Alexandria, continues the story, they were received in the house of a rich and learned lady (personified Egypt). Young Jesus found her beautiful, notwithstanding "a defect in her eyes," and declared so to his master. Upon hearing this, the latter became so angry that his pupil should find in the land of bondage anything good, that "he cursed him and drove the young man from his presence." Then follow a series of adventures told in allegorical language, which show that Jesus supplemented his initiation in the Jewish Kabala with an additional acquisition of the secret wisdom of Egypt. When the persecution ceased, they both returned to Judea.*
The real grievances against Jesus are stated by the learned author of Tela Ignea Satanae (the fiery darts of Satan) to be two in number: 1st, that he had discovered the great Mysteries of their Temple, by having been initiated in Egypt; and 2d, that he had profaned them by exposing them to the vulgar, who misunderstood and disfigured them. This is what they say:**
"There exists, in the sanctuary of the living God, a cubical stone, on which are sculptured the holy characters, the combination of which gives the explanation of the attributes and powers of the incommunicable name. This explanation is the secret key of all the occult sciences and forces in nature. It is what the Hebrews call the Scham hamphorash. This stone is watched by two lions of gold, who roar as soon as it is approached.*** The gates of the temple were never lost sight of, and the
* Eliphas Levi ascribes this narrative to the Talmudist authors of "Sota" and "Sanhedrin," p. 19, book of "Jechiel."
** This fragment is translated from the original Hebrew by Eliphas Levi in his "La Science des Esprits."
*** Those who know anything of the rites of the Hebrews must recognize in these lions the gigantic figures of the Cherubim, whose symbolical monstrosity was well calculated to frighten and put to flight the profane.
door of the sanctuary opened but once a year, to admit the High Priest alone. But Jesus, who had learned in Egypt the 'great secrets' at the initiation, forged for himself invisible keys, and thus was enabled to penetrate into the sanctuary unseen. . . . He copied the characters on the cubical stone, and hid them in his thigh;* after which, emerging from the temple, he went abroad and began astounding people with his miracles. The dead were raised at his command, the leprous and the obsessed were healed. He forced the stones which lay buried for ages at the bottom of the sea to rise to the surface until they formed a mountain, from the top of which he preached." The Sepher Toldos states further that,unable to displace the cubical stone of the sanctuary, Jesus fabricated one of clay, which he showed to the nations and passed it off for the true cubical stone of Israel.
This allegory, like the rest of them in such books, is written "inside and outside" -- it has its secret meaning, and ought to be read two ways. The kabalistic books explain its mystical meaning. Further, the same Talmudist says, in substance, the following: Jesus was thrown in prison,** and kept there forty days; then flogged as a seditious rebel; then stoned as a blasphemer in a place called Lud, and finally allowed to expire upon a cross. "All this," explains Levi, "because he revealed to the people the truths which they (the Pharisees) wished to bury for their own use. He had divined the occult theology of Israel, had compared it with the wisdom of Egypt, and found thereby the reason for a universal religious synthesis."***
However cautious one ought to be in accepting anything about Jesus from Jewish sources, it must be confessed that in some things they seem to be more correct in their statements (whenever their direct interest in stating facts is not concerned) than our good but too jealous Fathers. One thing is certain, James, the "Brother of the Lord," is silent about the resurrection. He terms Jesus nowhere "Son of God," nor even Christ-God. Once only, speaking of Jesus, he calls him the "Lord of Glory," but so do the Nazarenes when writing about their prophet Iohanan bar Zacharia, or John, son of Zacharias (St. John Baptist). Their favorite expressions about their prophet are the same as those used by James when speaking of Jesus. A man "of the seed of a man," "Messenger of Life," of light, "my Lord Apostle," "King sprung of Light," and so on. "Have not the faith of our Lord JESUS Christ, the Lord of Glory," etc.,
* Arnobius tells the same story of Jesus, and narrates how he was accused of having robbed the sanctuary of the secret names of the Holy One, by means of which knowledge he performed all the miracles.
** This is a translation of Eliphas Levi.
*** "La Science des Esprits," p. 37.
says James in his epistle (ii. 1), presumably addressing Christ as GOD. "Peace to thee, my Lord, JOHN Abo Sabo, Lord of Glory!" says the Codex Nazaraeus (ii., 19), known to address but a prophet. "Ye have condemned and killed the Just," says James (v. 6). "Iohanan (John) is the Just one, he comes in the way of justice," says Matthew (xxi. 32, Syriac text).
James does not even call Jesus Messiah, in the sense given to the title by the Christians, but alludes to the kabalistic "King Messiah," who is Lord of Sabaoth* (v. 4), and repeats several times that the "Lord" will come, but identifies the latter nowhere with Jesus. "Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord . . . be patient, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (v. 7, 8). And he adds: "Take, my brethren, the prophet (Jesus) who has spoken in the name of the Lord for an example of suffering, affliction, and of patience." Though in the present version the word "prophet" stands in the plural, yet this is a deliberate falsification of the original, the purpose of which is too evident. James, immediately after having cited the "prophets" as an example, adds: "Behold . . . ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord" -- thus combining the examples of these two admirable characters, and placing them on a perfect equality. But we have more to adduce in support of our argument. Did not Jesus himself glorify the prophet of the Jordan? "What went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. . . . Verily, I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist."
And of whom was he who spoke thus born? It is but the Roman Catholics who have changed Mary, the mother of Jesus, into a goddess. In the eyes of all other Christians she was a woman, whether his own birth was immaculate or otherwise. According to strict logic, then, Jesus confessed John greater than himself. Note how completely this matter is disposed of by the language employed by the Angel Gabriel when addressing Mary: "Blessed art thou among women." These words are unequivocal. He does not adore her as the Mother of God, nor does he call her goddess; he does not even address her as "Virgin," but he calls her woman, and only distinguishes her above other women as having had better fortune, through her purity.
The Nazarenes were known as Baptists, Sabians, and John's Christians. Their belief was that the Messiah was not the Son of God, but simply a prophet who would follow John. "Johanan, the Son of the Abo Sabo Zachariah, shall say to himself, 'Whoever will believe in my justice
* "Israelite Indeed," vol. iii., p. 61.
and my BAPTISM shall be joined to my association; he shall share with me the seat which is the abode of life, of the supreme Mano, and of living fire' " (Codex Nazaraeus, ii., p. 115). Origen remarks "there are some who said of John (the Baptist) that he was the anointed" (Christus).* The Angel Rasiel of the kabalists is the Angel Gabriel of the Nazarenes, and it is the latter who is chosen of all the celestial hierarchy by the Christians to become the messenger of the 'annunciation.' "The genius sent by the 'Lord of Celsitude' is AEbel Zivo, whose name is also called GABRIEL Legatus."** Paul must have had the sect of the Nazarenes in mind when he said: "And last of all he (Jesus) was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (1 Corinth., xv. 8), thus reminding his listeners of the expression usual to the Nazarenes, who termed the Jews "the abortions, or born out of time." Paul prides himself of belonging to a haeresy.***
When the metaphysical conceptions of the Gnostics, who saw in Jesus the Logos and the anointed, began to gain ground, the earliest Christians separated from the Nazarenes, who accused Jesus of perverting the doctrines of John, and changing the baptism of the Jordan.**** "Directly," says Milman, "as it (the Gospel) got beyond the borders of Palestine, and the name of 'Christ' had acquired sanctity and veneration in the Eastern cities, he became a kind of metaphysical impersonation, while the religion lost its purely moral cast and assumed the character of a speculative theogony."***** The only half-original document that has reached us from the primitive apostolic days, is the Logia of Matthew. The real, genuine doctrine has remained in the hands of the Nazarenes, in this Gospel of Matthew containing the "secret doctrine," the "Sayings of Jesus," mentioned by Papias. These sayings were, no doubt, of the same nature as the small manuscripts placed in the hands of the neophytes, who were candidates for the Initiations into the Mysteries, and which contained the Aporrheta, the revelations of some important rites and symbols. For why should Matthew take such precautions to make them "secret" were it otherwise?
Primitive Christianity had its grip, pass-words, and degrees of initiation. The innumerable Gnostic gems and amulets are weighty proofs of it. It is a whole symbolical science. The kabalists were the first to embellish the universal Logos,****** with such terms as "Light of Light," the
* "Origen," vol. ii., p. 150.
** "Codex Nazaraeus," vol. i., p. 23.
*** "In the way these call heresy I worship" (Acts xxiv. 14).
**** "Codex Nazaraeus," vol. ii., p. 109.
***** "Milman," p. 200.
****** Dunlap says in "Sod, the Son of the Man": "Mr. Hall, of India, informs us that he has seen Sanscrit philosophical treatises in which the Logos continually occurs," p. 39, foot-note.
Messenger of LIFE and LIGHT,* and we find these expressions adopted in toto by the Christians, with the addition of nearly all the Gnostic terms such as Pleroma (fulness), Archons, AEons, etc. As to the "First-Born," the First, and the "Only-Begotten," these are as old as the world. Origen shows the word "Logos" as existing among the Brachmanes. "The Brachmanes say that the God is Light, not such as one sees, nor such as the sun and fire; but they have the God LOGOS, not the articulate, the Logos of the Gnosis, through whom the highest MYSTERIES of the Gnosis are seen by the wise."** The Acts and the fourth Gospel teem with Gnostic expressions. The kabalistic: "God's first-born emanated from the Most High," together with that which is the "Spirit of the Anointing"; and again "they called him the anointed of the Highest,"*** are reproduced in Spirit and substance by the author of the Gospel according to John. "That was the true light," and "the light shineth in darkness." "And the WORD was made flesh." "And his fulness (pleroma) have all we received," etc. (John i. et seq.).
The "Christ," then, and the "Logos" existed ages before Christianity; the Oriental Gnosis was studied long before the days of Moses, and we have to seek for the origin of all these in the archaic periods of the primeval Asiatic philosophy. Peter's second Epistle and Jude's fragment, preserved in the New Testament, show by their phraseology that they belong to the kabalistic Oriental Gnosis, for they use the same expressions as did the Christian Gnostics who built a part of their system from the Oriental Kabala. "Presumptuous are they (the Ophites), self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of DIGNITIES," says Peter (2d Epistle ii. 10), the original model for the later abusive Tertullian and Irenaeus.**** "Likewise (even as Sodom and Gomorrah) also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise DOMINION and speak evil of DIGNITIES," says Jude, repeating the very words of Peter, and thereby expressions consecrated in the Kabala. Dominion is the "Empire," thetenth of the kabalistic sephiroth.***** The Powers and Dignities are the subordinate
* See John i.
** Origen: "Philosophumena," xxiv.
*** Kleuker: "Natur und Ursprung der Emanationslehre bei den Kabbalisten," pp. 10, 11; see "Libri Mysterii."
**** "These as natural brute beasts." "The dog has turned to its own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (22).
***** The types of the creation, or the attributes of the Supreme Being, are through the emanations of Adam Kadmon; these are: "The Crown, Wisdom, Prudence, Magnificence, Severity, Beauty, Victory, Glory, Foundation, Empire. Wisdom is called Jeh; Prudence, Jehovah; Severity, Elohim; Magnificence,El; Victory and Glory, SABAOTH; Empire or Dominion, ADONAI." Thus when the Nazarenes and other Gnostics of the more Platonic tendency twitted the Jews as "abortions who worship [Footnote continued on next page]
genii of the Archangels and Angels of the Sohar.* These emanations are the very life and soul of the Kabala and Zoroastrianism; and the Talmud itself, in its present state, is all borrowed from the Zendavesta. Therefore, by adopting the views of Peter, Jude, and other Jewish apostles, the Christians have become but a dissenting sect of the Persians, for they do not even interpret the meaning of all such Powers as the true kabalists do. Paul's warning his converts against the worshipping of angels, shows how well he appreciated, even so early as his period, the dangers of borrowing from a metaphysical doctrine the philosophy of which could be rightly interpreted but by its well-learned adherents, the Magi and the Jewish Tanaim. "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,"** is a sentence laid right at the door of Peter and his champions. In the Talmud, Michael is Prince of Water, who has seven inferior spirits subordinate to him. He is the patron, the guardian angel of the Jews, as Daniel informs us (v. 21), and the Greek Ophites, who identified him with their Ophiomorphos, the personified creation of the envy and malice of Ilda-Baoth, the Demiurgus (Creator of the material world), and undertook to prove that he was also Samuel, the Hebrew prince of the evil spirits, or Persian devs, were naturally regarded by the Jews as blasphemers. But did Jesus ever sanction this belief in angels except in so far as hinting that they were the messengers and subordinates of God? And here the origin of the later splits between Christian beliefs is directly traceable to these two early contradictory views.
Paul, believing in all such occult powers in the world "unseen," but ever "present," says: "Ye walked according to the AEon of this world, according to the Archon (Ilda-Baoth, the Demiurge) that has the domination of the air," and "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the dominations, the powers; the lords of darkness, the mischievousness of spirits in the upper regions." This sentence, "Ye were dead in sin and error," for "ye walked according to the Archon," or Ilda-Baoth, the God and creator of matter of the Ophites, shows unequivocally that: 1st, Paul, notwithstanding some dissensions with the more important doctrines of the Gnostics, shared more or less their cosmogonical views on the emanations; and 2d, that he was fully aware that this Demi-
[Footnote continued from previous page] their god Iurbo, Adunai," we need not wonder at the wrath of those who had accepted the old Mosaic system, but at that of Peter and Jude who claim to be followers of Jesus and dissent from the views of him who was also a Nazarene.
* According to the "Kabala," Empire or Dominion is "the consuming fire, and his wife is the Temple or the Church."
** Colossians ii. 18.
urge, whose Jewish name was Jehovah, was not the God preached by Jesus. And now, if we compare the doctrine of Paul with the religious views of Peter and Jude, we find that, not only did they worship Michael, the Archangel, but that also they reverenced SATAN, because the latter was also, before his fall, an angel! This they do quite openly, and abuse the Gnostics* for speaking "evil" of him. No one can deny the following: Peter, when denouncing those who are not afraid to speak evil of "dignities," adds immediately, "Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusations against them (the dignities) before the Lord" (ii. 11). Who are the dignities? Jude, in his general epistle, makes the word as clear as day. The dignities are the DEVILS!! Complaining of the disrespect shown by the Gnostics to the powers and dominions, Jude argues in the very words of Peter: "And yet, Michael, the Archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee" (i. 9). Is this plain enough? If not, then we have the Kabala to prove who were the dignities.
Considering that Deuteronomy tells us that the "Lord" Himself buried Moses in a valley of Moab (xxxiv. 6), "and no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day," this biblical lapsus inguae of Jude gives a strong coloring to the assertions of some of the Gnostics. They claimed but what was secretly taught by the Jewish kabalists themselves; to wit: that the highest supreme God was unknown and invisible; "the King of Light is a closed eye"; that Ilda-Baoth, the Jewish second Adam, was the real Demiurge; and that Iao, Adonai, Sabaoth, and Eloi were the quaternary emanation which formed the unity of the God of the Hebrews -- Jehovah. Moreover, the latter was also called Michael and Samael by them, and regarded but as an angel, several removes from the Godhead. In holding to such a belief, the Gnostics countenanced the teachings of the greatest of the Jewish doctors, Hillel, and other Babylonian divines. Josephus shows the great deference of the official Synagogue in Jerusalem to the wisdom of the schools of Central Asia. The colleges of Sora, Pumbiditha, and Nahaidea were considered the headquarters of esoteric and theological learning by all the schools of Palestine. The Chaldean version of the Pentateuch, made by the well-known Babylonian divine, Onkelos, was regarded as the most authoritative of all; and it is according to this learned Rabbi that Hillel and other Tanaim after him held that the Being who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, on Mount Sinai, and who finally buried him, was the angel of the Lord,
* It is more likely that both abused Paul, who preached against this belief; and that the Gnostics were only a pretext. (See Peter's second Epistle.)
Memro, and not the Lord Himself; and that he whom the Hebrews of the Old Testament mistook for Iahoh was but His messenger, one of His sons, or emanations. All this establishes but one logical conclusion -- namely, that the Gnostics were by far the superiors of the disciples, in point of education and general information; even in a knowledge of the religious tenets of the Jews themselves. While they were perfectly well-versed in the Chaldean wisdom, the well-meaning, pious, but fanatical as well as ignorant disciples, unable to fully understand or grasp the religious spirit of their own system, were driven in their disputations to such convincing logic as the use of "brute beasts," "sows," "dogs," and other epithets so freely bestowed by Peter.
Since then, the epidemic has reached the apex of the sacerdotal hierarchy. From the day when the founder of Christianity uttered the warning, that he who shall say to his brother, "Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire," all who have passed as its leaders, beginning with the ragged fishermen of Galilee, and ending with the jewelled pontiffs, have seemed to vie with each other in the invention of opprobrious epithets for their opponents. So we find Luther passing a final sentence on the Catholics, and exclaiming that "The Papists are all asses, put them in whatever form you like; whether they are boiled, roasted, baked, fried, skinned, hashed, they will be always the same asses." Calvin called the victims he persecuted, and occasionally burned, "malicious barking dogs, full of bestiality and insolence, base corrupters of the sacred writings," etc. Dr. Warburton terms the Popish religion "an impious farce," and Monseigneur Dupanloup asserts that the Protestant Sabbath service is the "Devil's mass," and all clergymen are "thieves and ministers of the Devil."
The same spirit of incomplete inquiry and ignorance has led the Christian Church to bestow on its most holy apostles, titles assumed by their most desperate opponents, the "Haeretics" and Gnostics. So we find, for instance, Paul termed the vase of election "Vas Electionis," a title chosen by Manes,* the greatest heretic of his day in the eyes of the Church, Manes meaning, in the Babylonian language, the chosen vessel or receptacle.**
So with the Virgin Mary. They were so little gifted with originality, that they copied from the Egyptian and Hindu religions their several
* The true name of Manes -- who was a Persian by birth -- was Cubricus. (See Epiph. "Life of Manes," Haeret. lxv.) He was flayed alive at the instance of the Magi, by the Persian King Varanes I. Plutarch says that Manes or Manis means Masses or ANOINTED. The vessel, or vase of election, is, therefore, the vessel full of that light of God, which he pours on one he has selected for his interpreter.
** See King's "Gnostics," p. 38.
apostrophes to their respective Virgin-mothers. The juxtaposition of a few examples will make this clear.
HINDU. Litany of our Lady Nari: Virgin (Also Devanaki.)
EGYPTIAN. Litany of our Lady Isis: Virgin.
ROMAN CATHOLIC. Litany of our Lady of Loretto: Virgin.
If the Virgin Mary has her nuns, who are consecrated to her and bound to live in chastity, so had Isis her nuns in Egypt, as Vesta had hers at Rome, and the Hindu Nari, "mother of the world" hers. The virgins consecrated to her cultus -- the Devadasi of the temples, who were the nuns of the days of old -- lived in great chastity, and were objects of the most extraordinary veneration, as the holy women of the goddess. Would the missionaries and some travellers reproachfully point to the modern Devadasis, or Nautch-girls? For all response, we would beg them to consult the official reports of the last quarter century, cited in chapter II., as to certain discoveries made at the razing of convents, in Austria and Italy. Thousands of infants' skulls were exhumed from ponds, subterranean vaults, and gardens of convents. Nothing to match this was ever found in heathen lands.
Christian theology, getting the doctrine of the archangels and angels directly from the Oriental Kabala, of which the Mosaic Bible is but an allegorical screen, ought at least to remember the hierarchy invented by the former for these personified emanations. The hosts of the Cherubim and Seraphim, with which we generally see the Catholic Madonnas surrounded in their pictures, belong, together with the Elohim and Beni Elohim of the Hebrews, to the third kabalistic world, Jezirah. This world is but one remove higher than Asiah, the fourth and lowest world, in which dwell the grossest and most material beings -- the klippoth, who delight in evil and mischief, and whose chief is Belial!
Explaining, in his way, of course, the various "heresies" of the first two centuries, Irenaeus says: "Our Haeretics hold . . . that PROPATOR is known but to the only-begotten son, that is to the mind" (the nous). It was the Valentinians, the followers of the "profoundest doctor of the Gnosis," Valentinus, who held that "there was a perfect AION, who existed before Bythos, or Buthon (the Depth), called Propator. This is again kabalistic, for in the Sohar of Simon Ben Iochai, we read the following: "Senior occultatus est et absconditus; Microprosopus manifestus est, et non manifestus" (Rosenroth: The Sohar Liber Mysteries, iv., 1).
In the religious metaphysics of the Hebrews, the Highest One is an abstraction; he is "without form or being," "with no likeness with anything else."* And even Philo calls the Creator, the Logos who stands next God, "the SECOND God." "The second God who is his WISDOM."** God is NOTHING, he is nameless, and therefore called Ain-Soph -- the word Ain meaning nothing.*** But if, according to the older Jews, Jehovah is the God, and He manifested Himself several times to Moses and the
* Franck: "Die Kabbala," p. 126.
** Philo: "Quaest. et Solut."
*** See Franck: "Die Kabbala," p. 153 ff.
prophets, and the Christian Church anathematized the Gnostics who denied the fact -- how comes it, then, that we read in the fourth gospel that "No man hath seen God AT ANY TIME, but the only-begotten Son . . . he hath declared him"? The very words of the Gnostics, in spirit and substance. This sentence of St. John -- or rather whoever wrote the gospel now bearing his name -- floors all the Petrine arguments against Simon Magus, without appeal. The words are repeated and emphasized in chapter vi.: "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he (Jesus) hath seen the Father" (46) -- the very objection brought forward by Simon in the Homilies. These words prove that either the author of the fourth evangel had no idea of the existence of the Homilies, or that he was not John, the friend and companion of Peter, whom he contradicts point-blank with this emphatic assertion. Be it as it may, this sentence, like many more that might be profitably cited, blends Christianity completely with the Oriental Gnosis, and hence with the KABALA.
While the doctrines, ethical code, and observances of the Christian religion were all appropriated from Brahmanism and Buddhism, its ceremonials, vestments, and pageantry were taken bodily from Lamaism. The Romish monastery and nunnery are almost servile copies of similar religious houses in Thibet and Mongolia, and interested explorers of Buddhist lands, when obliged to mention the unwelcome fact, have had no other alternative left them but, with an anachronism unsurpassed in recklessness, to charge the offense of plagiarism upon the religious system their own mother Church had despoiled. This makeshift has served its purpose and had its day. The time has at last come when this page of history must be written.