This god was Herakles, the "Only-Begotten One," and the Saviour. And it is he who was chosen as a model by the ingenious Fathers. Hercules — called Alexicacos — for he brought round the wicked and converted them to virtue; Soter, or Saviour, also called Neulos Eumelos — the Good
ff Lib. 1, c. 2; "Lib. de Princ," in "Procoem. Advers. Praxeam," c. ii. JJ "De Fide et Symbol."
Shepherd; Astrochiton, the star-clothed, and the Lord of Fire. "He sought not to subject nations by force but by divine wisdom and persuasion," says Lucian. "Herakles spread cultivation and a mild religion, and destroyed the doctrine of eternal punishment by dragging Kerberus (the Pagan Devil) from the nether world." And, as we see, it was Herakles again who liberated Prometheus (the Adam of the pagans), by putting an end to the torture inflicted on him for his transgressions, by descending to the Hades, and going round the Tartarus. Like Christ he appeared as a substitute for the pangs of humanity, by offering himself in a self-sacrifice on a funereal-burning pile. "His voluntary immolation," says Bart, "betokened the ethereal new birth of men. . . . Through the release of Prometheus, and the erection of altars, we behold in him the mediator between the old and new faiths. . . . He abolished human sacrifice wherever he found it practiced. He descended into the sombre realm of Pluto, as a shade . . . he ascended as a spirit to his father Zeus in Olympus."
So much was antiquity impressed by the Heraklean legend, that even the monotheistic (?) Jews of those days, not to be outdone by their contemporaries, put him to use in their manufacture of original fables. Herakles is accused in his mythobiography of an attempted theft of the Delphian oracle. In Sepher Toldos Jeschu, the Rabbins accuse Jesus of stealing from their Sanctuary the Incommunicable Name!
Therefore it is but natural to find his numerous adventures, worldly and religious, mirrored so faithfully in the Descent into Hell. For extraordinary daring of mendacity, and unblushing plagiarism, the Gospel of Nicodemus, only now proclaimed apocryphal, surpasses anything we have read. Let the reader judge.
At the beginning of chapter xvi., Satan and the "Prince of Hell" are described as peacefully conversing together. All of a sudden, both are startled by "a voice as of thunder" and the rushing of winds, which bids them to lift up their gates for "the King of Glory shall come in." Whereupon the Prince of Hell hearing this "begins quarrelling with Satan for minding his duty so poorly, as not to have taken the necessary precautions against such a visit." The quarrel ends with the prince casting Satan "forth from his hell," ordering, at the same time, his impious officers "to shut the brass gates of cruelty, make them fast with iron bars, and fight courageously lest we be taken captives."
But "when all the company of the saints . . . (in Hell?) heard this, they spoke with a loud voice of anger to the Prince of Darkness, 'Open thy gates, that the King of Glory may come in,' " thereby proving that, the prince needed spokesmen.
"And the divine (?) prophet David cried out, saying: 'Did not I, when on earth, truly prophesy?' " After this, another prophet, namely holy Isaiah spake in like manner, "Did not I rightly prophesy?" etc. Then the company of the saints and prophets, after boasting for the length of a chapter, and comparing notes of their prophecies, begin a riot, which makes the Prince of Hell remark that, "the dead never durst before behave themselves so insolently towards us" (the devils, xviii. 6); feigning the while to be ignorant who it was claiming admission. He then innocently asks again: "But who is the King of Glory?" Then David tells him that he knows the voice well, and understands its words, "because," he adds, "I spake them by his Spirit." Perceiving finally that the Prince of Hell would not open the "brass doors of iniquity," notwithstanding the king-psalmist's voucher for the visitor, he, David, concludes to treat the enemy "as a Philistine, and begins shouting: 'And now, thou filthy and stinking prince of hell, open thy gates. . . . I tell thee that the King of Glory comes . . . let him enter in.' "
While he was yet quarrelling the "mighty Lord appeared in the form of a man" (?) upon which "impious Death and her cruel officers are seized with fear." Then they tremblingly begin to address Christ with various flatteries and compliments in the shape of questions, each of which is an article of creed. For instance: "And who art thou, so powerful and so great who dost release the captives that were held in chains by original sin?" asks one devil. "Perhaps, thou art that Jesus," submissively says another, "of whom Satan just now spoke, that by the death of the Cross thou wert about to receive the power over death?" etc. Instead of answering, the King of Glory "tramples upon Death, seizes the Prince of Hell, and deprives him of his power."
Then begins a turmoil in Hell which has been graphically described by Homer, Hesiod, and their interpreter Preller, in his account of the Astronomical Hercules Invictus, and his festivals at Tyre, Tarsus, and Sardis. Having been initiated in the Attic Eleusinia, the Pagan god descends into Hades and "when he entered the nether world he spread such terror among the dead that all of them fled!"* The same words are repeated in Nicodemus. Follows a scene of confusion, horror, and lamenting. Perceiving that the battle is lost, the Prince of Hell turns tail and prudently chooses to side with the strongest. He against whom, according to Jude and Peter, even the Archangel Michael "durst not bring a railing accusation before the Lord," is now shamefully treated by his ex-ally and friend, the "Prince of Hell." Poor Satan is abused and reviled for all his crimes both by devils and saints; while the Prince is openly rewarded for his treachery. Addressing him, the King of Glory says thus: "Beelzebub, the Prince of Hell, Satan the Prince shall now be subject to thy dominion forever, in the room of Adam and his righteous sons, who are mine . . . Come to me, all ye my saints, who were created in my image, who were condemned by the tree of the forbidden fruit, and by the Devil and death. Live now by the wood of my cross; the Devil, the prince of this world is overcome (?) and Death is conquered." Then the Lord takes hold of Adam by his right hand, of David by the left, and "ascends from Hell, followed by all the saints," Enoch and Elias, and by the "holy thief."+
The pious author, perhaps through an oversight, omits to complete the cavalcade, by bringing up the rear with the penitent dragon of Simon Stylites and the converted wolf of
f Nicodemus, "Apocryphal Gospel," translated from the Gospel published by Gryn^us, "Orthodoxographa," vol. i., tom. ii., p. 643.
St. Francis, wagging their tails and shedding tears of joy!
In the Codex of the Nazarenes it is Tobo who is "the liberator of the soul of Adam," to bear it from Orcus (Hades) to the place of LIFE. Tobo is Tob-Adonijah, one of the twelve disciples (Levites) sent by Jehosaphat to preach to the cities of Judah the Book of the Law (2 Chron. xvii.). In the kabalistic books these were "wise men," Magi. They drew down the rays of the sun to enlighten the sheol (Hades) Orcus, and thus show the way out of the Tenebrx, the darkness of ignorance, to the soul of Adam, which represents collectively all the "souls of mankind." Adam (Athamas) is Tamuz or Adonis, and Adonis is the sun Helios. In the Book of the Dead (vi. 231) Osiris is made to say: "I shine like the sun in the star-house at the feast of the sun." Christ is called the "Sun of Righteousness," "Helios of Justice" (Euseb.: Demons. Ev., v. 29), simply a revamping of the old heathen allegories; nevertheless, to have made it serve for such a use is no less blasphemous on the part of men who pretended to be describing a true episode of the earth-pilgrimage of their God!
"Herakles, who has gone out from the chambers of earth,
Leaving the nether house of Plouton!" *
"At THEE the Stygian lakes trembled; Thee the janitor of Orcus
Feared. . . . Thee not even Typhon frightened. . . .
Hail true Son of Jove, Glory added to the gods!"t
More than four centuries before the birth of Jesus, Aristophanes had written his immortal parody on the Descent into Hell, by Herakles.} The chorus of the "blessed ones," the initiated, the Elysian Fields, the arrival of Bacchus (who is Iacchos — Iaho — and Sabaoth) with Herakles, their reception with lighted torches, emblems of new life and RESURRECTION from darkness, death unto light, eternal LIFE; nothing that is found in the Gospel of Nicodemus is wanting in this poem:§
"Wake, burning torches . . . for thou comest Shaking them in thy hand, Iacche, Phosphoric star of the nightly rite! "**
But the Christians accept these post-mortem adventures of their god, concocted from those of his Pagan predecessors, and derided by Aristophanes four centuries before our era, literally! The absurdities of Nicodemus were read in the churches, as well as those of the Shepherd of Hermas. Ireneus quotes the latter under the name of Scripture, a divinely-inspired "revelation"; Jerome and Eusebius both insist upon its being publicly read in the churches; and Athanasius observes that the Fathers "appointed it to be read in confirmation of faith and piety." But then comes the reverse of this bright medal, to show once more how stable and trustworthy were the opinions of the strongest pillars of an infallible Church. Jerome, who applauds the book in his
J "Frogs"; see fragments given in "Sod, the Mystery of Adonis."
** Aristophanes, "Frogs."
catalogue of ecclesiastical writers, in his later comments terms it "apocryphal and foolish"! Tertullian, who could not find praise enough for the Shepherd of Hermas when a Catholic, "began abusing it when a Montanist."*
Chapter xiii. begins with the narrative given by the two resuscitated ghosts of Charinus and Lenthius, the sons of that Simeon who, in the Gospel according to Luke (ii. 25-32), takes the infant Jesus in his arms and blesses God, saying: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace . . . for mine eyes have seen thy salvation"+ These two ghosts have arisen from
* See Preface to "Hermas" in the Apocryphal New Testament. f In the "Life of Buddha," of Bkah Hgyur (Thibetan text), we find the original of the episode given in the Gospel according to Luke. An old and holy ascetic, Rishi Asita, comes from afar to see the infant Buddha, instructed as he is of his birth and mission by supernatural visions. Having worshipped the little Gautama, the old saint bursts into tears, and upon being questioned upon the cause of his grief, answers: "After becoming Buddha, he will help hundreds of thousands of millions of creatures to pass to the other shore of the ocean of life, and will lead them on forever to immortality. And I — I shall not behold this pearl of Buddhas! Cured of my illness, I shall not be freed by him from human passion! Great King! I am too old — that is why I weep, and why, in my sadness, I heave long sighs!"
It does not prevent the holy man, however, from delivering prophecies about the young Buddha, which, with a very slight difference, are of the same substance as those of Simeon about Jesus. While the latter calls the young Jesus "a light for the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel," the Buddhist prophet promises that the young prince will find himself clothed with the perfect and complete enlightenment or "light" of Buddha, and will turn their cold tombs on purpose to declare "the mysteries" which they saw after death in hell. They are enabled to do so only at the importunate prayer of Annas and Cai'aphas, Nicodemus (the author), Joseph (of Arimathea), and Gamaliel, who beseech them to reveal to them the great secrets. Annas and Cai'aphas, however, who bring the ghosts to the synagogue at Jerusalem, take the precaution to make the two resuscitated men, who had been dead and buried for years, to swear on the Book of the Law "by God Adonai, and the God of Israel," to tell them only the truth. Therefore, after making the sign of the cross on their tongues,} they ask for some paper to write their confessions (xii. 21-25). They state how, when "in the depth of hell, in the blackness of darkness," they suddenly saw "a substantial, purple-colored light illuminating the place." Adam, with the patriarchs and prophets, began thereupon to rejoice, and Isaiah also immediately boasted that he had predicted all that. While this was going on, Simeon, their father, arrived, declaring that "the infant he took in his arms in the temple was now coming to liberate them."
After Simeon had delivered his message to the distinguished company in hell, "there came forth one like a little hermit (?), who proved to be John the Baptist." The idea is suggestive and shows that even the "Precursor" and "the the wheel of law as no one ever did before him. "Rgya Tcher Rol Pa"; translated from the Thibetan text and revised on the original Sanscrit, Lalitavistara, by P. E. Foncaux. 1847. Vol. ii., pp. 106, 107. J The sign of the cross — only a few days after the resurrection, and before the cross was ever thought of as a symbol!
Prophet of the Most High," had not been exempted from drying up in hell to the most diminutive proportions, and that to the extent of affecting his brains and memory. Forgetting that (Matthew xi.) he had manifested the most evident doubts as to the Messiahship of Jesus, the Baptist also claims his right to be recognized as a prophet. "And I, John," he says, "when I saw Jesus coming to me, being moved by the Holy Ghost, I said: 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world' . . . And I baptized him . . . and I saw the Holy Ghost descending upon him, and saying, 'This is my Beloved Son,' etc." And to think, that his descendants and followers, like the Mandeans of Basra, utterly reject these words!
Then Adam, who acts as though his own veracity might be questioned in this "impious company," calls his son Seth, and desires him to declare to his sons, the patriarchs and prophets, what the Archangel Michael had told him at the gate of Paradise, when he, Adam, sent Seth "to entreat God that he would anoint" his head when Adam was sick (xiv. 2). And Seth tells them that when he was praying at the gates of Paradise, Michael advised him not to entreat God for "the oil of the tree of mercy wherewith to anoint father Adam for his headache; because thou canst not by any means obtain it till the Last Day and times, namely till 5,500 years be past."
This little bit of private gossip between Michael and Seth was evidently introduced in the interests of Patristic Chronology; and for the purpose of connecting Messiahship still closer with Jesus, on the authority of a recognized and divinely-inspired Gospel. The Fathers of the early centuries committed an inextricable mistake in destroying fragile images and mortal Pagans, in preference to the monuments of Egyptian antiquity. These have become the more precious to archeology and modern science since it is found they prove that King Menes and his architects flourished between four and five thousand years before "Father Adam" and the universe, according to the biblical chronology, were created "out of nothing."*
"While all the saints were rejoicing, behold Satan, the prince and captain of death," says to the Prince of Hell: "Prepare to receive Jesus of Nazareth himself, who boasted that he was the Son of God, and yet was a man afraid of death, and said: 'My soul is sorrowful even to death' " (xv. 1, 2).
There is a tradition among the Greek ecclesiastical writers that the "Heretics" (perhaps Celsus) had sorely twitted the Christians on this delicate point. They held that if Jesus were not a simple mortal, who was often forsaken by the Spirit of Christos, he could not have complained in such expressions as are attributed to him; neither would he have cried out with a loud voice: "My god, My god! why hast thou for saken me?" This objection is very cleverly answered in the Gospel of
* Payne Knight shows that "from the time of the first King Menes, under whom all the country below Lake Mreris was a bog (Herod., ii., 4), to that of the Persian invasion, when it was the garden of the world" — between 11,000 and 12,000 years must have elapsed. (See "Ancient Art and Mythology"; cli., R. Payne Knight, p. 108. Edit. by A. Wilder.)
Nicodemus, and it is the "Prince of Hell" who settles the difficulty.
He begins by arguing with Satan like a true metaphysician. "Who is that so powerful prince," he sneeringly inquires, "who is he so powerful, and yet a man who is afraid of death? . . . I affirm to thee that when, therefore, he said he was afraid of death, he designed to ensnare thee, and unhappy it will be to thee for everlasting ages!"
It is quite refreshing to see how closely the author of this Gospel sticks to his New Testament text, and especially to the fourth evangelist. How cleverly he prepares the way for seemingly "innocent" questions and answers, corroborating the most dubious passages of the four gospels, passages more questioned and cross-examined in those days of subtile sophistry of the learned Gnostics than they are now; a weighty reason why the Fathers should have been even more anxious to burn the documents of their antagonists than to destroy their heresy. The following is a good instance. The dialogue is still proceeding between Satan and the metaphysical half-converted Prince of the under world.
"Who, then, is that Jesus of Nazareth," naively inquires the prince, "that by his word hath taken away the dead from me, without prayers to God?" (xv. 16).
"Perhaps," replies Satan, with the innocence of a Jesuit, "it is the same who took away from me LAZARUS, after he had been four days dead, and did both stink and was rotten? . . . It is the very same person, Jesus of Nazareth. . . . I adjure thee, by the powers which belong to thee and me, that thou bring him not to me!" exclaims the prince. "For when I heard of the power of his word, I trembled for fear, and all my impious company were disturbed. And we were not able to detain Lazarus, but he gave himself a shake, and with all the signs of malice, he immediately went away from us; and the very earth, in which the dead body of Lazarus was lodged, presently turned him alive." "Yes," thoughtfully adds the Prince of Hell, "I know now that he is Almighty God, who is mighty in his dominion, and mighty in his human nature, who is the Saviour of mankind. Bring not therefore this person hither, for he will set at liberty all those I held in prison under unbelief, and . . . will conduct them to everlasting life" (xv. 20).
Here ends the post-mortem evidence of the two ghosts. Charinus (ghost No. 1) gives what he wrote to Annas, Caiaphas, and Gamaliel, and Lenthius (ghost No. 2) his to Joseph and Nicodemus, having done which, both change into "exceedingly white forms and were seen no more."
To show furthermore that the "ghosts" had been all the time under the strictest "test conditions," as the modern spiritualists would express it, the author of the Gospel adds: "But what they had wrote was found perfectly to agree, the one not containing one letter more or less than the other."
This news spread in all the synagogues, the Gospel goes on to state, that Pilate went to the temple as advised by Nicodemus, and assembled the Jews together. At this historical interview, Caiaphas and Annas are made to declare that their Scriptures testify "that He (Jesus) is the Son of God and the Lord and King of Israel" (!) and close the confession with the following memorable words:
"And so it appears that Jesus, whom we crucified, is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and true and Almighty God. Amen." (!)
Notwithstanding such a crushing confession for themselves, and the recognition of Jesus as the Almighty God himself, the "Lord God of Israel," neither the high priest, nor his father-in-law, nor any of the elders, nor Pilate, who wrote those accounts, nor any of the Jews of Jerusalem, who were at all prominent, became Christians.
Comments are unnecessary. This Gospel closes with the words: "In the name of the Holy Trinity [of which Nicodemus could know nothing yet] thus ends the Acts of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which the emperor Theodosius the Great found at Jerusalem, in the hall of Pontius Pilate among the public records"; and which history purports to have been written in Hebrew by Nicodemus, "the things being acted in the nineteenth year of Tiberius Cxsar, emperor of the Romans, and in the seventeenth year of the government of Herod, the son of Herod, king of Galilee, on the eighth before the calends of April, etc., etc." It is the most barefaced imposture that was perpetrated after the era of pious forgeries opened with the first bishop of Rome, whoever he may have been. The clumsy forger seems to have neither known nor heard that the dogma of the Trinity was not propounded until 325 years later than this pretended date. Neither the Old nor the New Testament contains the word Trinity, nor anything that affords the slightest pretext for this doctrine (see page 177 of this volume, "Christ's descent into Hell"). No explanation can palliate the putting forth of this spurious gospel as a divine revelation, for it was known from the first as a premeditated imposture. If the gospel itself has been declared apocryphal, nevertheless every one of the dogmas contained in it was and is still enforced upon the Christian world. And even the fact that itself is now repudiated, is no merit, for the Church was shamed and forced into it.
And so we are perfectly warranted in repeating the amended Credo of Robert Taylor, which is substantially that of the Christians.
I believe in Zeus, the Father Almighty,
And in his son, Iasios Christ our Lord,
Who was conceived of the Holy Ghost,
Born of the virgin Elektra,
Smitten with a thunderbolt,
Dead and buried,
He descended into Hell,
Rose again and ascended up on high,
And will return to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Nous,
In the Holy circle of Great Gods,
In the Community of Divinities,
In the expiation of sins,
The immortality of the Soul
And the Life Everlasting.
The Israelites have been proved to have worshipped Baal, the Syrian Bacchus, offered incense to the Sabazian or
Esculapian serpent, and performed the Dionysian Mysteries. And how could it be otherwise if Typhon was called Typhon Set,* and Seth, the son of Adam, is identical with Satan or Satan; and Seth was worshipped by the Hittites? Less than two centuries B.C., we find the Jews either reverencing or simply worshipping the "golden head of an ass" in their temple; according to Apion, Antiochus Epiphanes carried it off with him. And Zacharias is struck dumb by the apparition of the deity under the shape of an ass in the temple! +
* Seth or Sutech, "Rawlinson's History of Herodotus," book ii., appendix. viii., 23.
f The fact is vouchsafed for by Epiphanius. See Hone, "Apocryphal New Testament"; "The Gospel of the Birth of Mary."
In his able article "Bacchus, the Prophet-God," Professor A. Wilder remarks that "Tacitus was misled into thinking that the Jews worshipped an ass, the symbol of Typhon or Seth, the Hyk-sos God. The Egyptian name of the ass was co, the phonetic of Iao"; and hence, probably, he adds, "a symbol from that mere circumstance." We can hardly agree with this learned archeologist, for the idea that the Jews reverenced, for some mysterious reason, Typhon under his symbolical representation rests on more proof than one. And for one we find a passage in the "Gospel of Mary," is cited from Epiphanius, which corroborates the fact. It relates to the death of "Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, murdered by Herod," says the Protevangelion. Epiphanius writes that the cause of the death of Zacharias was that upon seeing a vision in the temple he, through surprise, was willing to disclose it, but his mouth was stopped. That which he saw was at the time of his offering incense, and it was a man Standing In The Form Of An Ass. When he was gone out, and had a mind to speak thus to the people, Woe unto you, whom do ye worship? he who had appeared unto
El, the Sun-God of the Syrians, the Egyptians, and the Semites, is declared by Pleyte to be no other than Set or Seth, and El is the primeval Saturn — Israel.} Siva is an Ethiopian God, the same as the Chaldean Baal — Bel; thus he is also Saturn. Saturn, El, Seth and Kiyun, or the biblical Chiun of Amos, are all one and the same deity, and may be all regarded in their worst aspect as Typhon the Destroyer. When the religious Pantheon assumed a more definite expression, Typhon was separated from his androgyne — the good deity, and fell into degradation as a brutal unintellectual power.
Such reactions in the religious feelings of a nation were not unfrequent. The Jews had worshipped Baal or Moloch, the Sun-God Hercules,§ in their early days — if they had any days at all earlier than the Persians or Maccabees — and then made their prophets denounce them. On the other hand, the characteristics of the Mosaic Jehovah exhibit more of the moral disposition of Siva than of a benevolent, "long-suffering" God. Besides, to be identified with Siva is no small him in the temple took away the use of his speech. Afterward when he recovered it, and was able to speak, he declared this to the Jews, and they slew him. They (the Gnostics) add in this book, that on this very account the high priest was commanded by the law-giver (Moses) to carry little bells, that whensoever he went into the temple to sacrifice, he whom they worshipped, hearing the noise of the bells, might have time enough to hide himself, and not be caught in that ugly shape and figure" (Epiph.).
J "Phallism in Ancient Religions," by Staniland Wake and Westropp, p. 74. § Hercules is also a god-fighter as well as Jacob-Israel.
compliment, for the latter is God of wisdom. Wilkinson depicts him as the most intellectual of the Hindu gods. He is three-eyed, and, like Jehovah, terrible in his resistless revenge and wrath. And, although the Destroyer, "yet he is the recreator of all things in perfect wisdom." * He is the type of St. Augustine's God who "prepares hell for pryers into his mysteries," and insists on trying human reason as well as common sense by forcing mankind to view with equal reverence his good and evil acts.
Notwithstanding the numerous proofs that the Israelites worshipped a variety of gods, and even offered human sacrifices until a far later period than their Pagan neighbors, they have contrived to blind posterity in regard to truth. They sacrificed human life as late as 169 B.C.,+ and the Bible contains a number of such records. At a time when the Pagans had long abandoned the abominable practice, and had replaced the sacrificial man by the animal,} Jephthah is represented sacrificing his own daughter to the "Lord" for a burnt-offering.
The denunciations of their own prophets are the best proofs against them. Their worship in high places is the same as that of the "idolaters." Their prophetesses are counterparts of the Pythie and Bacchantes. Pausanias speaks of women-
* "Phallism in Ancient Religions," p. 75.
f Antiochus Epiphanius found in 169 B.C. in the Jewish temple, a man kept there to be sacrificed. Apion, "Joseph. contra Apion," ii., 8. J The ox of Dionysus was sacrificed at the Bacchic Mysteries. See "Anthon," p. 365.
colleges which superintend the worship of Bacchus, and of the sixteen matrons of Elis.§ The Bible says that "Deborah, a prophetess . . . judged Israel at that time";** and speaks of Huldah, another prophetess, who "dwelt in Jerusalem, in the college";++ and 2 Samuel mentions "wise women" several times,}} notwithstanding the injunction of Moses not to use either divination or augury. As to the final and conclusive identification of the "Lord God" of Israel with Moloch, we find a very suspicious evidence of the case in the last chapter of Leviticus, concerning things devoted not to be redeemed. . . . A man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast. . . . None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death . . . for it is most holy unto the Lord"§§
The duality, if not the plurality of the gods of Israel may be inferred from the very fact of such bitter denunciations. Their prophets never approved of sacrificial worship. Samuel denied that the Lord had any delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices (1 Samuel, xv. 22). Jeremiah asserted, unequivocally, that the Lord, Yava Sabaoth Elohe Israel, never commanded anything of the sort, but contrariwise (vii. 21-24).
But these prophets who opposed themselves to human sacrifices were all nazars and initiates. These prophets led a party in the nation against the priests, as later the Gnostics contended against the Christian Fathers. Hence, when the monarchy was divided, we find the priests at Jerusalem and the prophets in the country of Israel. Even Ahab and his sons, who introduced the Tyrian worship of Baal-Hercules and the Syrian goddess into Israel, were aided and encouraged by Elijah and Elisha. Few prophets appeared in Judea till Isaiah, after the northern monarchy had been overthrown. Elisha anointed Jehu on purpose that he should destroy the royal families of both countries, and so unite the people into one civil polity. For the Temple of Solomon, desecrated by the priests, no Hebrew prophet or initiate cared a straw. Elijah never went to it, nor Elisha, Jonah, Nahum, Amos, or any other Israelite. While the initiates were holding to the "secret doctrine" of Moses, the people, led by their priests, were steeped in idolatry exactly the same as that of the Pagans. It is the popular views and interpretations of Jehovah that the Christians have adopted.
The question is likely to be asked: "In the view of so much evidence to show that Christian theology is only a pot-pourri of Pagan mythologies, how can it be connected with the religion of Moses?" The early Christians, Paul and his disciples, the Gnostics and their successors generally, regarded Christianity and Judaism as essentially distinct. The latter, in their view, was an antagonistic system, and from a lower origin. "Ye received the law," said Stephen, "from the ministration of angels," or eons, and not from the Most High Himself. The Gnostics, as we have seen, taught that Jehovah, the Deity of the Jews, was Ilda-Baoth, the son of the ancient Bohu, or Chaos, the adversary of Divine Wisdom.
The question may be more than easily answered. The law of Moses, and the so-called monotheism of the Jews, can hardly be said to have been more than two or three centuries older than Christianity. The Pentateuch itself, we are able to show, was written and revised upon this "new departure," at a period subsequent to the colonization of Judea under the authority of the kings of Persia. The Christian Fathers, in their eagerness to make their new system dovetail with Judaism, and so avoid Paganism, unconsciously shunned Scylla only to be caught in the whirlpool of Charybdis. Under the monotheistic stucco of Judaism was unearthed the same familiar mythology of Paganism. But we should not regard the Israelites with less favor for having had a Moloch and being like the natives. Nor should we compel the Jews to do penance for their fathers. They had their prophets and their law, and were satisfied with them. How faithfully and nobly they have stood by their ancestral faith under the most diabolical persecutions, the present remains of a once-glorious people bear witness. The Christian world has been in a state of convulsion from the first to the present century; it has been cleft into thousands of sects; but the Jews remain substantially united. Even their differences of opinion do not destroy their unity.
The Christian virtues inculcated by Jesus in the sermon on the mount are nowhere exemplified in the Christian world. The Buddhist ascetics and Indian fakirs seem almost the only ones that inculcate and practice them. Meanwhile the vices which coarse-mouthed slanderers have attributed to Paganism, are current everywhere among Christian Fathers and Christian Churches.
The boasted wide gap between Christianity and Judaism, that is claimed on the authority of Paul, exists but in the imagination of the pious. We are nought but the inheritors of the intolerant Israelites of ancient days; not the Hebrews of the time of Herod and the Roman dominion, who, with all their faults, kept strictly orthodox and monotheistic, but the Jews who, under the name of Jehovah-Nissi, worshipped Bacchus-Osiris, Dio-Nysos, the multiform Jove of Nyssa, the Sinai of Moses. The kabalistic demons — allegories of the profoundest meaning — were adopted as objective entities, and a Satanic hierarchy carefully drawn by the orthodox demonologists.
The Rosicrucian motto, "Igne natura renovatur integra," which the alchemists interpret as nature renovated by fire, or matter by spirit, is made to be accepted to this day as Iesus Nazarenus rex Iud^orum. The mocking satire of Pilate is accepted literally, and the Jews made to unwittingly confess thereby the royalty of Christ; whereas, if the inscription is not a forgery of the Constantinian period, it yet is the action of Pilate, against which the Jews were first to violently protest. I. H. S. is interpreted Iesus Hominum Salvator, and In hoc signo, whereas IHS is one of the most ancient names of Bacchus. And more than ever do we begin to find out, by the bright light of comparative theology, that the great object of Jesus, the initiate of the inner sanctuary, was to open the eyes of the fanatical multitude to the difference between the highest Divinity — the mysterious and never-mentioned IAO of the ancient Chaldean and later Neo-platonic initiates — and the Hebrew Yahuh, or Yaho (Jehovah). The modern Rosicrucians, so violently denounced by the Catholics, now find brought against them, as the most important charge, the fact that they accuse Christ of having destroyed the worship of Jehovah. Would to Heaven he could have been allowed the time to do so, for the world would not have found itself still bewildered, after nineteen centuries of mutual massacres, among 300 quarrelling sects, and with a personal Devil reigning over a terrorized Christendom!
True to the exclamation of David, paraphrased in King James' Version as "all the gods of the nations are idols," i.e., devils, Bacchus or the "first-born" or the Orphic theogony, the Monogenes, or "only-begotten" of Father Zeus and Kore, was transformed, with the rest of the ancient myths, into a devil. By such a degradation, the Fathers, whose pious zeal could only be surpassed by their ignorance, have unwittingly furnished evidence against themselves. They have, with their own hands, paved the way for many a future solution, and greatly helped modern students of the science of religions.
It was in the Bacchus-myth that lay concealed for long and dreary centuries both the future vindication of the reviled "gods of the nations," and the last clew to the enigma of Jehovah. The strange duality of Divine and mortal characteristics, so conspicuous in the Sinaitic Deity, begins to yield its mystery before the untiring inquiry of the age. One of the latest contributions we find in a short but highly-important paper in the Evolution, a periodical of New York, the closing paragraph of which throws a flood of light on Bacchus, the Jove of Nysa, who was worshipped by the Israelites as Jehovah of Sinai.
"Such was the Jove of Nysa to his worshippers," concludes the author. "He represented to them alike the world of nature and the world of thought. He was the 'Sun of righteousness, with healing on his wings,' and he not only brought joy to mortals, but opened to them hope beyond mortality of immortal life. Born of a human mother, he raised her from the world of death to the supernal air, to be revered and worshipped. At once lord of all worlds, he was in them all alike the Saviour.
"Such was Bacchus, the prophet-god. A change of cultus, decreed by the Murderer-Imperial, the Emperor Theodosius, at the instance of Ghostly-Father Ambrosius, of Milan, has changed his title to Father of Lies. His worship, before universal, was denominated Pagan or local, and his rites stigmatized as witchcraft. His orgies received the name of Witches' Sabbath, and his favorite symbolical form with the bovine foot became the modern representative of the Devil with the cloven hoof. The master of the house having been called Beelzebub, they of his household were alike denounced as having commerce with the powers of darkness. Crusades were undertaken; whole peoples massacred. Knowledge and the higher learning were denounced as magic and sorcery. Ignorance became the mother of devotion — such as was then cherished. Galileo languished long years in prison for teaching that the sun was in the centre of the solar universe. Bruno was burned alive at Rome in 1600 for reviving the ancient philosophy; yet, queerly enough, the Liberalia have become a festival of the Church,* Bacchus is a saint in the calendar four times repeated, and at many a shrine he may be seen reposing in the arms of his deified mother. The names are changed; the ideas remain as before."+
And now that we have shown that we must indeed "bid an eternal farewell to all the rebellious angels," we naturally pass to an examination of the God Jesus, who was manufactured out of the man Jesus to redeem us from these very mythical devils, as Father Ventura shows us. This labor will of course necessitate once more a comparative inquiry into the history of Gautama-Buddha, his doctrines and his "miracles," and those of Jesus and the predecessor of both — Christna.
* The festival denominated Liberalia occurred on the seventeenth of March, now St. Patrick's Day. Thus Bacchus was also the patron saint of the Irish.
f Prof. A. Wilder, "Bacchus, the Prophet-God," in the June number (1877) of the "Evolution, a Review of Polities, Religion, Science, Literature, and Art."
"Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one's mind, that is the teaching of the Awakened. . . .
"Better than Sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, better than lordship over all the worlds is the reward of the first step in holiness."
Dhammapada, verses 178-183
"Creator, where are these tribunals, where do these courts proceed, where do these courts assemble, where do the tribunals meet to which the man of the embodied world gives an account for his soul?"
Persian Vendidad, xix. 89
"Hail to thee O Man, who art come from the transitory place to the imperishable!"
Vendidad, farg. vii., 136
"To the true believer, truth, wherever it appears, is welcome, nor will any doctrine seem the less true or the less precious, because it was seen not only by Moses or Christ, but likewise by Buddha or Lao-tse."
Unluckily for those who would have been glad to render justice to the ancient and modern religious philosophies of the Orient, a fair opportunity has hardly ever been given to them. Of late there has been a touching accord between philologists holding high official positions, and missionaries from heathen lands. Prudence before truth when the latter endangers our sinecures! Besides, how easy to compromise with conscience. A State religion is a prop of government; all State religions are "exploded humbugs"; therefore, since one is as good, or rather as bad, as another, the State religion may as well be supported. Such is the diplomacy of official science.
Grote in his History of Greece, assimilates the Pythagoreans to the Jesuits, and sees in their Brotherhood but an ably-disguised object to acquire political ascendancy. On the loose testimony of Herakleitus and some other writers, who accused Pythagoras of craft, and described him as a man "of extensive research . . . but artful for mischief and destitute of sound judgment," some historical biographers hastened to present him to posterity in such a character.
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