Friday, November 16, 2012

The Christ Conspiracy, ch. 3, 4

This is just a further documentation of slips in fact-checking. It basically follows the order in the book. Hence, there is no analysis of the more overarching lines of argument. Such an analysis will be given separately.

The writing, as Neil Godfrey as well has pointed out, is rather caustic throughout these chapters. Still, a relevant point is made: the evidence in favor of a historical Jesus is weaker than most Christians will admit, and the practices of the early church do make it difficult to say anything with certainty about the details of these early days.

For the parts she gets right, sources do exist that cover those things without incorporating a lot of misleading thinking in the mix.

3. The Holy Forgery Mill

The truth is that very few early Christian texts exist because the autographs, or originals, were destryed after the Council of Nicaea and the retouching of 506 CE under Emperor Anastasius, which included 'revision' of the Church fathers' work.[1, ch 3]
The source given is Higgins. Considering the quality of his work, I no longer will accept him as a valid source pending further investigation. I have a hard time imagining the Christians of that time even knew which particular early Christian texts were autographs or not, the forensic techniques of identifying such were, believe it or not, way less advanced at the time. Wear and tear could very well account for this as well.

Considering further that schisms had happened earlier, there were manuscripts that Emperor Anastasius had no access to in the eastern churches outside of Roman jurisdiction. As far as I can tell, no one has come up with such an accusation based on comparing Roman and non-Roman manuscripts.
Repeating what would be utter blasphemy, in the 11th and 12th centuries, the "infallible word of God" was "corrected" again by a variety of church officials.[1, ch. 3]
No source given. Considering that the Church already was split in several factions that did not get along, such a "correction" is rather unlikely to have spread throughout all of Christendom anyway, and thus comparative work between the scriptures in the different pre-reformation groups should suffice to restore a rather good 'pre-corrected' version. However, in my reading on matters like these, written by people very critical of the churches, I have not come across this claim anywhere else.

Forgery during the first centuries of the church's existence was thus admittedly rampant, so common in fact that this phrase, "pious fraud" was coined to describe it.[1, ch. 3]
In fact, pious fraud occurs in a Latin work already in 8CE, predating the Christian church by at the very least decades. This occurs in Ovid's Metamorphoses, book IX, although translated as "godly guile" in some translations as well.
Since Acharya dates the earliest Christian works rather late, this phrase predates Christianity by more than an entire century.
Out of these numerous gospels, the canonical gospels were chosen by Church father and Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 120-200), who claimed that the number four was based on the "four corners of the world." In reality, this comment is masonic and these texts represent the four books of magic of the Egyptian ritual. [1, ch3]
Right. A rather unfounded assertion, although it is given a source - yet another of the 19th century kooks she likes to quote, viz. Massey.
Christian forgers even went so far as to produce the "Acts of Pilate", which at one point was considered "canonical." [1, ch3]
I call for sources! When was this ever considered "canonical"? By whom? Where can we find out about this purported canonicity?

4. The Biblical Narrative

Furthermore, in the Gospels Jesus himself makes many illogical contradictions concerning some of his most important teachings. First he states that he is only sent "to the lost sheep of Israel" and forbids his disciples to preaches to the Gentiles. Then he's made to say, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..." [1, ch 4]
Two questions:
Is an indication that someone acted illogically or inconsistently evidence in favor of their non-existence? I do not think we can make such an argument at all!

Secondarily, the Biblical narrative itself accounts for this change, along this line:

  • God sends Jesus to save the lost sheep of Israel
  • the lost sheep of Israel by and large reject him
  • now God has a surplus of salvation that the Jews did not want, and distributes it elsewhere.
However, it is worth taking a look at various Jewish scenarios for the arrival of the Messiah; in general, he is expected to gain kingship over the Jews first, after which the rest of the world will follow/go to war against him/etc (it is not an altogether straightforward scenario). Christianity reinterprets this: he is king of the Jews (although they have not recognized his kingship), so now it is time for the world to follow (or go to war), and in some varieties the Jews will recognize his status as their king later on, etc. 

The particular contradiction present here is easily explained by looking at Jewish eschatology in general - it is a reinterpretation of it, but a reinterpretation that fits a situation where a group of adherents found themselves with a dead messiah that they would not let go of (and maybe had ecstatic visions of).

In fact the Gospel was not designed to be rational as the true meaning of the word "gospel" is "God's spell," as in magic, hypnosis and delusion.[1, ch 4.]
Gospel comes from Old English god spell, indeed. This did not mean the same as god's spell does today - due to sound changes, spelling changes and so on since OE, it corresponds to the phrase good spell. However, there has also happened a change in meaning - spell had a different meaning all the way up to the 15th century, signifying news, messages or even tales, and the word gospel is a calque of a Greek word that cannot be distorted this way. A calque is a literal translation, taking a word or a phrase and translating the elements thereof. Had polyglot been calqued, it would be manytongue(d) or somesuch, as an illustration of the concept. English was until rather recently among the very few modern languages to calque gospel instead of loaning it directly from Greek. (Icelandic apparently does use a calque as well - guðspjall; Old High German had gotspel. Latin too had a calque of the Greek, viz. bona annuntiatio. No spell or magic in there.

The Greek designation is εὐαγγέλιον, evangelion, a word still present in English as well, but only in derived words like evangelical or evangelist. Eu- signifies good, angelion signifies message. That is all there is to it. Distorting facts in this way is problematic and dishonest. Even so, figuring out the authors' intentions by using a designation for their books that appeared centuries later is rather problematic. A scholar of Greek should know this.

 [1] Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy

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