Relics, demonology, miracles ...

Egyptian Roots of Catholicism

Jesus Never Existed – Sourcing the Legend


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Kenneth Humphreys

 


25.10.11

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Crackers? No, its really Jesus

christ's real body

'Hosts' holy bread and truly the body of Jesus. The word itself derives from the idea of offering vanquished enemies – the 'hostis' – as a sacrifice to the gods.

The Bible itself prescribes no shape for holy bread.

"The round disk, so frequent in the sacred emblems of Egypt, symbolised the sun."

–Hislop (The Two Babylons, 160)

 

But it doesn't end there:

'Transmutation' – eating Jesus daily. A notion invented in that darkest of centuries, the 9th, when hosts gave rise to 'miracles,' such as bleeding.

The 'bread' itself goes back to the earliest of times.

St. Epiphanius reports early Christian sects as sometimes using the flesh of a foetus, ground and mixed with aromatics; sometimes flour, kneaded with the blood of a child, and even the use of semen and menstrual blood. Nice.

(Epiphanius, "Haer.", c. xxvi, 5; Augustine, "Haer.", xxvi, xxvii)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

monastic city

Monasteries rivaled the towns
(St Catherine's)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choice Cuts

"A good relic would bring people from miles around, and the clergy were quite ruthless in coming by these precious commodities. Saints were cut up, they were sold, they were even stolen."

– B. Gascoigne, A Brief History of Christianity, p58.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pope pharaoh

Pharaoh?

 

Pope?

pope pharaoh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pharaoh Pharaoh?

 

Something crooked here

 

pope Pope?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ankh power

Thotmosis I keeps hold of his ankhs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ankh to cross

6th century Coptic Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Meaningful and eloquent myths and philosophic formulations ... became in their turn garbled traditions, reused by later and lesser authors."

– James Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library, p2.

 

Nestorius and his 'Mother'

After the promotion of Jesus to divine status at Nicaea in 325, leisured pious minds pondered just how, or to what extent, 'the man Jesus' had fused with 'the God Christ.' Nestorius of Antioch, made patriarch of Constantinople in 428, tried to preserve a semblance of reason by arguing that the godman’s human nature, mothered by Mary, had remained completely separate from the godman’s divine nature, which was eternal and did not come through his human mother. He thus favoured Mary as 'Christotokos' or bearer of Christ over 'Theotokos' or bearer of God.

But from the rival bishop of Alexandria, a thug called Cyril, came a different story – and a willingness to use bribery and violence. According to Cyril, schooled in Egyptian traditions, Jesus Christ was God who had 'emptied himself to become fully human.' At a Council of Ephesus, deliberating before the Nestorians arrived, Cyril succeeded in having the 'Antiochans' condemned (they responded by declaring Cyril a heretic in turn).

With gifts of gold to the imperial coffers, the alliance of Alexandria and Rome hounded Nestorius out of office. Greek influence in Rome waned as Egyptian ideas flourished.


Regurgitated fables, reused symbols, recycled sacred space

Where Did They Get Their Ideas From?

Originated in Egypt, copied in Rome

Monasticism.

The first monks were 'solitaries' (hermits) hiding out in the Egyptian desert in time of persecution. When martyrdom was no longer an option increasing numbers of indolent fanatics made the austere life of asceticism and self denial a 'white martyrdom', battling the hordes of Satan on the demon's own turf – the desert.

These demented fools became popular heroes, lauded for keeping Satan busy and in the process protecting less vigilant Christians who might otherwise have fallen into his clutches. As 'pop stars' they were periodically lionized in the cities, particularly when a wrangle over 'theology' needed heavyweight support. Not a few became bishops. As Gibbon observed, they realized that a year or two spent in the desert was a "secret road to wealth and honour."

filthy monks

"A race of filthy animals"
– Gibbon (Decline & Fall, chapter 28)

 

But the reality soon became communities of monks in settlements rivaling in wealth the secular towns. By the 5th century the monks constituted a formidable army of 'black shirts' – periodically storming the cities to smash and burn pagan images and temples. Notable triumphs were the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia, the last pagan teacher in the school attached to the library.

In the 4th century, Athanasius took a posse of monks with him on his sojourn in Rome. After initial shock at the sight of the unkempt bully boys, the popes enthusiastically endorsed the idea of a monastic force. The 6 Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome found their Christian counterpart in an army of thousands of celibates.

With the monks came the black cassock, confessionals, fasting, and penance – and an increasing swarm of demons to keep them busy.

 

Relics

Pickled Heads and Salted Bones. The number and suffering of Egyptian martyrs multiplied exponentially once Christianity became the state religion. Such 'glorious' deaths would be relived a thousandfold – and turned into an immensely profitable business, limited only by commercial competition as shrines proliferated.

Taking his cue from Alexandria, Bishop Ambrose in Milan was one of the first to institute the relic worship in Italy in the late 4th century.

 

Holy Pageants

'Stations of the Cross'. Those who could afford it followed in the imperial footsteps of Empress Helena and made the pilgrimage to the 'Holy places' of Palestine. After the dowager's visitation, the 'Holy Day' of Easter became a 'Holy Week' as the pious perambulated from one tableau to the next, giving offerings and buying relics.

An envious Egyptian church was among the first to construct local facsimiles as pilgrimage points for the hoi polloi.

Taken by the idea, Pope Gregory introduced 'stations' into Rome – and organised large scale processions between them – at the end of the 6th century.

show business

Holy tableaux... pioneered in Egypt, copied in Rome.


Easter Sunday

The Eastern Churches followed the Jewish lunar calendar and marked the resurrection with an annual festival on 14 Nisan, which could fall on any day of the week.

In the West, where the resurrection was marked by a minor ceremony every week, 'Quartodecimans' ('fourteeners') were attacked for 'Jewish practices.'

The Alexandrian ritual was unique, a special annual festival falling on the sun's day – and this was adopted in Rome in the 3rd century.

 

Hymns

Arius of Alexandria continued the ancient Egyptian tradition of hymals, popularising his theology by setting his ideas in verse. Not to be bested, Ephrem of Syria (306-73) wrote 'orthodox' songs to counter the heretic Arius.

In the west, Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan followed suit.

 

Holy Water

The original 'Holy Water' was drawn from the Nile, identified by Egyptian Priests as the 'tears of Isis' weeping for the dead Osiris.

Early Christians gave the water their own blessing and maintained it had curative powers. From the 4th century basins began to appear in churches.

Luxor temple courtyard, re-purposed as Christian Church, then re-converted to mosque.


"In the Nubian Temple of Wadi Sebua the figure of the Apostle Peter was plastered over Amun, and Rameses II now appears to worship him."

– R. E. Witt, Isis in the Ancient World, p279.

 

 

 

 

The Double Whammy – 'Two Christs in One'

A generation after Nestorius, the formula eventually hammered out at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, defied logic quite as perfectly as had the Trinity: the godman it seems had 'two natures' both true, both whole, both perfect. JC had been able to truly suffer agonies and die like any man (an example to us all); but as a dying god his sacrifice redeemed the whole of humanity. The official ("orthodox") policy was thus 'dyophysitic' – and its supporters became known as 'Melkites' ('the king's men'). The 'one-nature' oppositionists were 'monophysite' who were essentially opposed to the emperor.

The theological schism ran along linguistic and racial fault lines and was a focus for pro- or anti- imperial politics. Christianity, the so-called 'faith of unity,' helped fracture and break-up the empire by its finer points of theology. The Aramaic-speaking Patriarchate of Antioch, together with the Armenians and Copts of Egypt, continued to adhere to the monophysite 'heresy' and split from Constantinople after Chalcedon. (To this day they are known as the 'Oriental Orthodox Churches.') In the 7th century many 'monophysites' would find it easy to convert to Islam.

Latin and Greek speaking minorities in Syria, Palestine and Egypt ('Greek Catholic,' 'Maronite') accepted 'Chalcedon' and remained in communion with Constantinople.

In Alexandria itself, the major Greek city, rivalry between Melkite and Coptic churches was intense. Faced with this factionalism within the Egyptian church and rivalry from the other patriarchates in the east, the Coptic Patriarch forged an 'Alexandria-Rome axis' of mutual hostility to Constantinople. In return the bishops of Rome gained an 'Egyptian connection' and access to the colourful elaborations of the Coptic church.

For despite its pretentious claims, the early papacy in Rome also faced competition on all sides. It had learned to profit from the theological disputes in the east by welcoming exiled heretics and 'remaining aloof' from theorising. The Roman Church concentrated instead on 'practicalities': boosting recruitment with an 'open door' policy (it had no problem with contrite apostates, adulterers or murderers) and the development of religious pageantry and monasticism – ideas enthusiastically imported from Egypt.


The 'Pentarchy': late 6th/early 7th century Christian rivals
divided spoils

The 7th century elevation of Rome was greatly assisted by the fall of its rivals: Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, overrun first by the Persians and soon after by the armies of Islam.

The rise of Islam eliminated most of Rome's Christian rivals. Only a battered Constantinople remained. By that time the prison walls of mediaeval Christendom were firmly in place.

 

 

Symbols

Christians did not use the familiar cross emblem for several centuries. Before its 'Egyptianisation' early Christianity used the symbols of the 'fish' and the 'chi-rho.' The Gospels in their original Greek did not refer to any crucifix but used the word "stauros" (Mark 15:21, Matthew 27:32, Luke 23:26, John 19:17), meaning a stake or vertical pole.

 

 

Where Did They Get Their Ideas From?

The Cross of Christ


by mouth

The ankh imparts the breath of life ("resurrection") to a dead pharaoh

 

The ankh cross was associated with Maat, the Goddess of Truth. It also represents the sexual union of Isis and Osiris.

winged cross

sun cross

Sun cross (swastika) – ancient symbol of good fortune.

Winged sun cross – (Nimrud, Iraq, c. 850 BC)

 



Buddhist swastika cross

Greek Cross. The first appearance of a cross in Christian art is on a Vatican sarcophagus from the mid-5th Century.

swastika cross

Irish 5th century grave stone, Aglish, County Kerry (note swastikas).

cross

The ubiquitous ankh (a symbol of life) remained in use throughout the Pharaonic period.

Ankh on Coptic tapestry (5th century AD. British Museum)

Latin Cross ('crux immissa') The Coptic ankh was adopted in Rome during the 4th/ 5th centuries and simplified into the familiar crucifix.

Sarcophagus (Rome,350s)

coptic cross

Coptic Cross. In the 3rd/ 4th centuries the ankh was absorbed into Egyptian Christianity (where it was known as the 'crux ansata' – the 'eyed' or 'handled' cross)

The cross in various forms steadily replaced the earlier Christian symbols. As society became more barbarised and vicious, the cross acquired its 'suffering Jesus' – a man in torture (7th century onwards).

In this form it echoed the ancient scarecrow, a human effigy used to encourage crop fertility.

 

Sources:
William Dalrymple, From the Holy Mountain (Flamingo, 1998)
Michael Walsh, A Dictionary of Devotions (Burns & Oates, 1993)
Dom Robert Le Gall, Symbols of Catholicism (Editions Assouline, 1997)
Leslie Houlden (Ed.), Judaism & Christianity (Routledge, 1988)
Norman Cantor, The Sacred Chain - A History of the Jews (Harper Collins, 1994)
R. E. Witt, Isis in the Ancient World (John Hopkins UP, 1971)
Alison Roberts, Hathor Rising-The Serpent Power of Ancient Egypt (Northgate, 1995)
Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Penguin, 1993)
Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock, Keeper of Genesis (Heinemann, 1996)

 

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Copyright © 2004 by Kenneth Humphreys.
Copying is freely permitted, provided credit is given to the author and no material herein is sold for profit.