After my last blog post, I did a lot of research into Zoroastrian history, how it affected Judaism and Christianity, and then research onto Jewish and Christian history itself, and finally I became a bit obsessed with trying to trace the root of all religions back to earliest recorded history. And what I discovered was interesting.
Being brought up in a Christian household I’ve always assumed that the things written in the bible actually more or less happened (even if they seemed miraculous), but I kinda thought about it for once and researched all these supposed events in history and found out that a lot of the biblical stories are greatly distorted and mythologized.
For example, in the bible it states that the temple was ripped in half when Jesus died on the cross. In actuality the temple was destroyed years later as a result of Roman invasion. It seems basic logic to question these things, but I never had. So it was an eye opener to me. I have committed myself to the path of knowing Jesus, truly knowing him as he really is, apart from superstition and mythology and what not. I want to know him as both the physical man he was and the divine being he is (whatever that entails). And Jesus nudged me and said “do research into me, if you truly want to know who I am”. So that’s what I’m doing.
Anyway, what I found interesting about Zoroastrianism is that it did actually majorly influence Judaism, and in fact most of the old testament wasn’t even written until the Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians in about 600BC. So a lot of their mythology comes from Persian tradition, which was originally polytheistic much like Hinduism, with roots into ancient Mesopotamian culture and religion(dated to around 2500 BC). What I find most interesting though, is that all recorded religious history goes back to Sumer and the areas around the Levant almost 6,000 years ago, and then things go dead quiet. So what does that mean? Ancient civilization did seem to pop out from the Middle East, either that the Middle Eastern homo sapiens evolved to be able to write first… or perhaps as a race humanity really has only been around about 6,000 years as young earth creationists say? But I would probably put that down to extraterrestrial activity myself, and the seed theory (which to be honest, is much more plausible than the Genesis mythology).
Then of course, another Middle Eastern religion was that of the Canaanites which originally Judaism evolved from. El was the head deity of the Elohim, the ‘sky father of the gods’, so to speak, with Yahweh being his favorite most righteous son. El in Jewish/Canaanite mythology appointed each nation their own governing deity, Yahweh being the governing deity of Israel. It wasn’t until Judaism encountered Zoroastrianism as the first monotheistic religion in exile that their religion changed focus to the ‘one true god’, which was naturally their governing deity, Yahweh. With all the other gods(sons of El) falling into the background. So in a sense, the Jewish God is actually a mix of El, Yahweh, and Mazda (the Zoroastrian deity who was originally known as Ashur in Mesopotamian culture, the patron/governing deity of the city of Ashur its name sake, and hence one of many gods).
What’s interesting too is that the first original recorded religions(including Hinduism too) were anthropomorphic explanations for nature, and for example, the sea and sun and earth and animals were deified. Making the innate need for religion these days pretty much useless, as we have science to explain how nature works. To be honest, part of my desire to go all the way to first recorded religion was to see what is actually the original and hence therefore ‘true’ religion, but now after researching I don’t think it works that way. I think as humans our concept of religion and spirituality has gradually evolved over time, and I believe in progressive revelation and pluralism, e.g., that God speaks to all different cultures, nations, and religions in their own way.
So bringing this back to Christianity. Between the old and new testaments, the Greek and Romans invaded the middle east and thus became influenced by both a lot of paganism, and western philosophy. So we have a Persian Zoroastrian-influenced Judaism that originally started off in Polytheistic Canaan and then through a shift in governing power developed into a new Grecian/Roman religion. Zoroastrianism invented the concepts of heaven/hell, salvation, judgement day, ect, whilst the Jews never believed in any of that stuff and just believed death was the end. So Christianity picked up those Zoroastrian concepts, and added Greek philosophy to it, meanwhile trying to convince the rest of the world it’s still foundationally Jewish. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Enter Jesus. He was a Jew, perhaps an Essene who was devoted to God and the ascetic/monk-ish lifestyle, who has an unknown biological father, but is often said to be from the line of David on his biological side (which can only come from the dad’s side in those times), regardless whether or not Joseph was his true biological father or not. I think all rational people can say that a virgin birth just isn’t possible, or if it is then there’s some science-y explanation we just don’t understand yet, the closest parallel I can think of being how some animals are hermaphrodites and can reproduce on their own instead of needing a mate. But we know Mary was his mother, possibly more sinful than the bible makes out to be if she had an affair (likely since the true father isn’t really known).
Anyway, so from logical reasoning and historical religious study I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus was born a normal human Jew, from the line of David (thus making him naturally a ‘King’), with the calling of Prophet, and Priest, which is in line with the Messianic prophecy about the Jewish savior, but of course most Jews see him as a false prophet. Because originally the Jewish prophecy said nothing of God incarnating in the flesh, but that the Messiah would be a normal man who reunited Israel as a powerful nation and would bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. Perhaps Jesus thought he was this Jewish Messiah, or in the Greek ‘Christ’, which solely means ‘anointed one’… which all Jewish kings and prophets had been, anointed. So Jesus preached a lot on the Kingdom of Heaven for this reason.
But then the Hellenistic Jews turned his teachings into a whole new religion, mixing pagan mythology (like the cults of Dionysus and Mithras) with Persian Judaism. Which created Christianity, with a division of the Jews believing Jesus was a false prophet, and the Christians believing he was the true Messiah (of course the Christian understanding of Messiah is completely different to how the Jews originally understood it, and thus warped). Personally, although I am more Christian (mostly because of my belief in Jesus due the vision I had of him), I understand the word Christ or Messiah more in line with the original Judaic understanding. Not only that, but a lot of supposed Jewish revelations of Jesus’ coming into the world were actually nothing to do with Jesus, but Christianity again took those teachings and twisted them.
What I think is more plausible is that Jesus had a special mission from God, as a pure human, but also a representation or manifestation of the divine (whether from before he incarnated, or perhaps from ‘adoptionism’, the belief that he was so righteous that God adopted him as his son at his baptism, a view that was mostly held by the early church but eventually labelled as heretical) – I think it’s probably a mix. I don’t know where the ‘son of God’ stuff came from, because Jesus never called himself that, and the trinitarian theology wasn’t established till about 300AD. The only book Jesus refers to himself as the son of God is in John, which is the latest of the gospels written and therefore most inaccurate (also not to mention the beginning chapter is just full of Grecian philosophy, such as the concept of the Logos as part of the Divine Hypostasis).
In fact the first gospel to be written was Mark, which too is hypothesized to have been mostly plagiarized from some earlier source along with Luke. But in the earliest version we have of Mark Jesus is portrayed more as human than God. The son of God and then Jesus = God stuff only came later. And then we have the Pauline epistles which, I think are God-inspired, but again not accurate. First, I think Jesus was only meant to be a Jewish prophet. But his ‘fame’ spread far and wide, making Christianity now the largest religion on Earth with one third of the entire population worshiping him. But I think this is an error, as nowhere is there any evidence for Jesus being equal to God. In fact, I think God is completely unknowable to humans, as his very nature is transcendent (as well as immanent).. I think I still take a panentheistic view of reality. But I don’t think these days that anyone can become God. I think God is God, Jesus is Jesus (aka, the ‘anointed one’), and humans are humans. God is outside of humanity, but still within us somewhere. And Jesus is one of the many ‘anointed ones’ in history, aka, one of many divine kings, prophets, and priests, of which many cultures would call ‘gods’ (remember the ‘sons of El’ in Canaan? Well Jesus actually never referred to God as Yahweh, but as El).
So basically this is all so fascinating to me, learning the history of Christianity as a whole, and how Jesus ties into it. Personally I think he is ‘A’ Jewish Messiah (not ‘THE’), as Zoroastrianism predicted three sayoshants, Jesus being the second, and the third being at end times, making him a divine being in the heavenly hierarchy, and someone I can get to know, have a relationship with, rely on, and depend on as my intermediary to God or the Ultimate Being, but not necessarily the only Son of God born of a virgin and resurrected on the cross. It is more likely that his disciples saw spiritual visions of him after his death, in his spiritual body (bit of Gnostic thought there).. although I won’t rule it out. But I feel closer to Jesus right now after having researched all this, like I know him as a person as well as a divine being much better.