Early Christianity

Paul's writings created much of what is now modern Christianity. Many true practices of Yeshua's earliest followers, members of his mystery school and church of the Way, were ignored or suppressed.

The roots of modern Christianity do not run as deep as many might think, especially Christians.  A Southern Baptist told me that the King James Version of the Bible was the original Bible, hand-written by God himself. I don't even need to point out the fallacies in that statement.   The differences between ancient, original, primitive Christianity and modern Christianity are profound.  We are left wondering, some of us searching for, what Yeshua of Galilee actually taught.

The doctrines of Christianity were created by Paul, and even the name Christianity was coined by this well-spoken Greek Jew with Roman citizenship who never met Yeshua in person.  Though Paul did later meet Peter and James, Yeshua's brother, they did not get along.  The New Testament records tensions and downright disagreements among them.  

Some references to the tensions between Paul and Peter:

Galatians 2: 11-14

Paul recounts a confrontation with Peter/Cephas and Barnabas over Jewish dietary laws and their mission to the Gentiles.

1 Corinthians 1: 10-17

Paul addresses and chastises factions among the Christian community which identify themselves with specific apostles--Peter/Cephas, Apollos, etc.--instead of identifying as a unified body in Christ himself.

There was a famous conflict over circumcision, whether or not gentile men (who were never circumcised in those days) should have to undergo circumcision upon converting to the new Christian religion.  This argument nearly tore the early church apart, and is recorded in Acts 15.  In order not to alienate the thousands of new gentile converts, Peter and James, Yeshua's brother and the first Bishop of Jerusalem, actually take Paul's side in the debate. Rev. Stephen Andrew, one of our instructors says, "My commentary tells me that there is some dissonance between Luke's account of the story here and Paul's account in Galatians (cited above) Perhaps the interesting thing to point out here is the conflict within the new Church between Jewish Christians who want to preserve the old customs and the Gentile converts."  

The gentile converts were mainly Paul's from Greece and modern-day Turkey, and the Jewish Christians still lived in Jerusalem and modern-day Israel.  After the destruction of the Temple the Jewish-Christians had to flee or be killed by the Romans. The "circumcision war" was settled in Jerusalem at an important first convocation of Christian leaders, Peter and James (Yeshua's brother) were there, and Paul travelled to Jerusalem from Turkey attend.  This famous gathering of the earliest church leaders is now called the first Council at Jerusalem in AD 49.  You can read the run-down of that meeting and the arguments that caused it, here...

Paul was on his own.
Paul was not intimate friends with Yeshua's original followers, students or family.

Paul (and later writings attributed to him) influenced all of the early church fathers.  We can consider them more followers of the Pauline teachings than Yeshua's.  They found his doctrines in his letters, long considered the earliest Christian writings, which now make up the bulk of the New Testament. Paul has a wonderful way with words, a powerful turn of phrase, such as "fight the good fight!" His wonderful Love Chapter in I Corinthians 13 stands as a beautiful example of spiritual poetry.  We can find a lot of inspiring stuff in his writings.  Many bible scholars and form critics say Paul did NOT write those disparaging parts about women.  There were other writers a hundred years after his death that reacted to women in leadership and wanted to stamp it out.  Paul himself does seem to work with a lot of women, a look at Romans 16 shows that 16 people out of 40 he mentions are women.  One of them is Junia, a woman whom he calls an Apostle!  Apostle is a word for only people who studied directly under Yeshua.  This means Junia and the man Andronicus who is mentioned with her, were probably part of Yeshua's larger circle of disciples, which many estimate in the hundreds.  The New Testament records that at one point after the resurrection, Yeshua appeared to a crowd of at least 500 people, all of whom went away convinced and to spread the word, "good news."

As for Paul, his writings are really a montage of several writers.  The good stuff like the love chapter is probably his, but some of what are called the "pastoral letters" advising congregations are by other now unknown authors.  Some of the stuff we must disapprove of are the letters which show marked misogyny (women hating) and other biases.  Such as:

Sex is bad, females are dirty.  Yeshua must be celibate, an unnatural asexual non-man, unsullied by female filth.  Unlike all Jewish Rabbis, Yeshua must be unmarried.  Many of the church "fathers" sought out and destroyed most of the Gnostic texts that proved that Miriam, called Mary Magdalene, was Yeshua's wife and co-Messiah.  

The Doctrine of Salvation--which says we humans are lousy, depraved beings in need of the shedding of divine blood to "save" us--was totally created by Paul (or writings later attributed to him).  The doctrine of depravity of the flesh was from Plato, the most powerful influence on ancient thinking, including Paul.  Neo-platonism furthered the idea of the corrupt dirty flesh which traps the clean spirit or soul.  The body was to be subdued, chastized, even punished. Women, those lust-makers, are the lowest of the low, and don't even have souls.  Many, many "great men" taught that one.  Scholars, even conservative Christian biblical scholars, acknowledge Paul's dabbling in the teachings of the Greek philosophers.  He was into Stoicism and Platonism, but when he went to Athens to preach his own new doctrine, the sophisticated intellectual populace laughed him out.  He was regarded as sort of a silly newbie.  This entire incident is recorded in the New Testament.

Hell:  The Pauline teachings also helped to invent hell, a place unknown to Yeshua and the Hebrew religion.  The Christian church fathers misinterpreted the Jewish parables of Gehenna, a shadowy "void" place of soul transition and departing, and turned Gehenna into Hell.  Almost three hundred years after Paul, the Roman Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity, merged it with his favorite pagan religion, Mithraism, and made it the official Roman Catholic Church. See Mithras for the fascinating similarity between the two religions.

The Devil:  The "official" Christian Church concocted the image of a horned Devil.  They gave him horns like Kernernos and Hern, harmless pagan gods of harvest and forest, who wore the horns as a mark of their kinship with the deer, cows, sheep and goats--all animals we "harvest" for food and/or dairy products, these are all animals with horns.  The Church of the Middle Ages, facing stiff competition with the pagan religion, "demonized" these gods, saying they were really Satan.  They gave Satan, (whose name comes from Shatan, the Hebrew angel of death, "adversary," and "obstacle") horns like the pagan gods of harvest, hoping to totally stamp out their worship.  The old cry, "that's of the devil!" started way back then...

But the people never let go of their Celtic and Teutonic pre-Christian heritage. The Roman Catholic Church eventually had to assimilate a lot of paganism into Catholicism, and so we have Easter (named after a pagan goddess, Aoestre/Ishtar) and Halloween and Yuletide Christmas, all formerly pagan holidays. Even Candlemas, a strict Catholic holiday celebrated Feb. 2nd, was originally a pagan candle-blessing and lighting festival in the heart of winter to coax back the Goddess of spring and fertility.

Was Paul a misogynist homophobe or product of his times?
Below are some intriguing points brought up by Sir Darius, Templar Knight and Mystery School Initiate.  Since Isaac didn't have to die maybe Yeshua didn't either. God was happy with Abraham's offering of Isaac (and did not let him actual shed the boy's blood).  So why would God then demand his own son's blood? Paul is the only original Christian writer credited with "inventing" this doctrine of Yeshua's blood sacrifice being required by the Father to "atone" for the world's sins.  Maybe Paul missed the meaning of the Abraham story in Genesis? Maybe he was so used to seeing blood sacrifices all around him that the idea of Yeshua as the supreme sacrifice seemed to make perfect sense.

Question: What was St Paul's reasoning for saying that men and women were equal? Take a look at 1st Timothy, Chapter 2. How does this contradict St Paul's reasoning? This is one of the reasons it is highly unlikely that St. Paul wrote 1 Timothy.

All are equal because all are in Christ. This is because all of us come from God alone. However, the writer of 1 Timothy is contradicting this very reasoning when he tells believers that women should learn in silence and be submissive, and that they will not teach or have authority over men.

Katia inserts: Paul does say women should be veiled whereas men didn't have this restriction. But this was probably an ingrained cultural thing since prostitutes went unveiled and the women themselves did not want to take off their head coverings (more actually scarves, not face-veils) because they'd be thought of as prostitutes.

I believe Paul did his best to represent God. And God is not a misogynist, a homophobe, anti-Semitic, etc. Paul could have been condemning male prostitution that was related to idolatry. This homosexuality did not involve "love" between the couple but simply was a form of lust. It is highly possible that all the twelve apostles may have thought of homosexuality in a negative connotation. As part of their Jewish culture, Paul and others like him, may have been brought up to view homosexuality as they did.

Just like us, Paul was a product of his culture, and his time. He most likely had witnessed many animal sacrifices, which stressed the importance of the atoning blood. Because of this, it is easy to understand why one would make Yeshua's blood necessary for our atonement. It is interesting to note that even though Abraham did not sacrifice his son, Isaac (there was no shedding of blood), in James 2:21 that very act was considered an offering. In the story of Abraham and his son we have an offering (a sacrifice) without the shedding of blood, and it was so acceptable to God that Abraham was called the friend of God in verse 23. Might it not be possible that Yeshua's willingness to follow his mission to the end (even to death) was a sacrifice? Might not his willingness of offering his own life have been enough to complete his mission without the shedding of blood by his murder on the cross?

Paul may have been mistaken in his views but I do believe he meant well and we should not throw out his writings.

Even though he wasn't perfect his theology and his writings are still valuable today because they are a reflection of a man's faith that lived near the time of Christ and tried to follow in his master's footsteps. To call his writings false teachings may be a little harsh, for that might imply that Paul willingly tried to deceive others. I do not believe this to be the case. Paul's agenda was like any good person's: To Everyone his own truth, and the God within.

Another take on Paul is that he might have been a gnostic.  There are certainly gnostic tenets lurking in some of his writings (I Cor. 2:6, Eph. 6:12). Elaine Pagels wrote a great book exploring this tantalizing topic, The Gnostic Paul.

To read more about Paul and the probability that he did NOT write all the misogynist junk about women should shut up in church and only ask their husbands questions, and that no woman can ever teach a man anything, check out this great lecture by a world reknowned Bible scholar:  The Role of Women in the Church in Paul's Day.

Yeshua, that enigmatic rebel sage, here on a mission from the highest heaven, was a Jew by religion and probably at least partly Jewish by birth, athough we can't be certain. Because Galilee was a pagan province forced by the Maccabees of Jerusalem to convert to Judaism 100 years before Jesus' birth, in all likelihood Jesus had uncircumcised pagan (Syrian, Sumerian, Chaldean, Greco-Persian) great-grandparents. And since the Galileans married amongst themselves, the southern "real" Jews disdaining them as country folk with bad accents, Yeshua may not have actual Hebrew blood in him, although certainly he was middle eastern.  Be that as it may, he was born into a Jewish culture, born to the people of the Book, the Hebrew people had the highest literacy rates on Earth at the time (modern studies still indicate their literacy rates are higher than any other people!  They really get into the "Word").  Yeshua was circumcised, studied the Torah and read at the synagogue like Jewish boys still do today.

But he died a "heretic" Jew, and resurrected as more than a Jew, but still Jewish. This is part of the reason modern Jews don't recognize him as their messiah.  Since Yeshua never quite claimed to be that person, this shouldn't cause any crisis of faith. Yeshua had other things to do besides free the Jewish people from Roman rule. He did not quite fit the bill of the Jewish messiah, though the book of Matthew and most Christians try to prove he does.
And what did he look like?  We are so used to seeing European renditions of him with light-colored wavy or even straight hair and a nice beard in the fashion of the middle-ages. The idea of his appearance didn't all come from European imaginations, however. According to Jewish tradition, King David had red hair. Red hair still pops up occasionally in Jewish families today. Legend (and a whole lot of painters!) says Yeshua had a sort of red-brown hair, too, thus linking him back to the Davidic line, the tribe of Judah. Botticelli painted Mary Magdalene with the most beautiful long wavy red hair and Yeshua with a darker, but still distinctively red shade of hair.  Unfortunately, you can't see that hair color so well in our small version of his painting (left).

Speaking of Tiberius:  tradition also says that sometime after the crucifixion, Tiberius actually had Mary Magdalene to dinner in Rome (or perhaps the Isle of Capri where he lived during most of his reign).  Mary Magdalene was on her way to France, having fled the Holy Lands with her children, who because they were Yeshua's offspring, were also a threat to the Herodian Dynasty and Roman rule in Palestine.  They were caught in flight, in Greece or Rome, and taken for questioning. They pretended to be harmless peasants, no threat at all to the mighty Roman rule, and were released.  A Roman historian reports that much, and posterity thus at least has this proof of the story.

But Mary Magdalene was a powerful woman, and something in her speech, her manner, must have attracted the attention of Tiberius himself.  Or perhaps he just wanted to meet the beautiful wife of the King of the Jews, records say he was quite a lecherous guy.  MM must have handled herself well because she really impressed him.  Even gave him a considerable shock...and now we have colored Easter Eggs.  For details on this 1500 year old story, still taught by the official Eastern Orthodox Church, read Magdala meets Tiberius.

Back to our topic.  So what did Yeshua teach?  The Truth, of course. And the Way. Free thinking, self-value, unshackling the mind from its negative images of itself, and its surroundings.

Yeshua, the Nazarite also may have sought to restore the House of David to power, throwing off the Roman overlords of Palestine, but he probably did not have such political goals for himself.  Many of his followers certainly did have this goal for him..  They wanted him to be the Son of David, their warrior messiah, (which meant anointed prince),  to come in on a white horse and restore the glory of Judaism.  In Jewish eyes, Herod the Great and his sons ruled over them "illegally."  Herod had been placed on the throne by Rome as client king a generation before Yeshua's birth. (See Descendants of Jesus)  Among those who wanted Yeshua to overthrow the Romans was Judas Iscariot, who, frustrated with Yeshua's refusal to reveal himself as god, tried to push the envelope, resulting in the tragedy of a public humiliating execution for the Son of Man.  (Of course Yeshua did not mind dying, he chose to allow his arrest in order to save his followers from being stamped out, hunted down and killed by the Romans for the crime of taking part in a popular revolt to put a King of the Jews on the throne---Palm Sunday was the start of this popular "revolt").

What Yeshua taught was not a dogmatic religion, like Christianity appears today. If it was a religion, it was one with a path and a Way that had not existed since the days of Solomon, and before him Melchizedek, when Yahweh or El Elyon and his Wife were worshipped together as God-the-Father and God-the-Mother.  Yeshua taught the Truth of the Divine Union, and of our Oneness.  

This Union is nicely expressed in the image of the Star of David, also called the Seal of Solomon.  The two triangles, one pointing up (masculine) and one womb-shaped one pointing down, come together to form a six-rayed star.  See Was the Hebrew God also a Woman? for more (shocking!) details of what this star used to symbolize. (Still does in the field of Kabbalah and Jewish mystical study.)

Part of the above was written by Jason Collins, a student of Kabbalah and Mystery School Initiate.  The rest is by Dr. Katia.

***For those of you reading this as part of an assignment, click your "back" button now and continue Catechumen Lesson Three.***

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The Church Exoteric, The Church Esoteric
by Michael Ludwig

The sky grew dark as an unseen wind swept across the region.  A cloudless sky suddenly gave way to the darkest sky the city had ever known.  A large crowd gathered in a frenzy.  Shouts of violence rang throughout the city as a group psychosis moved over the souls who had gathered.  It was a day the city known as Jerusalem would not soon forget.  Was this a trial of a mass murderer?  Perhaps a coup in which the Jews would now free themselves from Roman oppression?  No.  This day, a simple carpenter was sentenced to die.  His crime?  Healing the sick and preaching deliverance to the oppressed.

From a modest life in Galilee, the man Yeshua would rise to be the single most influential mystic of all time.  This man, known as the Messiah or Christ, would forever mark the annals of time with his example and message.

His establishment came to be known as the Christian Church, yet, the church claiming his name scantily resembles that which his early message sought to promulgate.  The toll of history has left its mark upon his work, and as 2000 years now separate the shepherd and his flock, the church writhes in the agony of schism.

There is now a modern movement.  One that seeks to uncover the teachings of this Jewish Mystic and remove the layers of veils that have been placed upon it by the wiles of men.  This movement presents a sword.  The division of the master's teachings and the devices of man must be cut asunder.  The church exoteric must now give way to the church esoteric.

Any message will become distorted through the passing along to latter generation.  Man seems to unable to resist the temptation to add his own perspective to anything he writes or copies.  A fine example of this lies in the game many of us played as children.  A message is whispered to a person who then passes the message along via a whisper to another.  The receiver then repeats the message to another and so on and so forth.  Upon reaching the last person in the line, the message is repeated.  Everyone laughs as the latter message has retained none of its original structure or subject matter.

In the history of the Christian church, this is not a laughing matter.  The evil and treacherous nature of man, as opposed to being changed by the message, was fueled by it.  Men history took the doctrine and molded it to meet their own desires and antics.  The result was the death of millions.  A doctrine which preaches new life, became the way of death.

This writing shall examine several doctrines of the church, their stated origin and the manner in which each has deviated from what many believe to be the true message of the sage and master Yeshua.  This work is dedicated to a Jewish carpenter, who was actually an anointed one of God.  May his true message be honored both now and forever, AMEN!

A fundamental doctrine of the Church is that of the immaculate conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  This doctrine, which was instituted by the Church as late as 1854 when Pope Pious XI declared it to be divinely revealed knowledge, is one that cannot be even remotely tied to the sayings of Yeshua.  The doctrine itself serves as a demonstration of how the Church has taken upon itself the absolute authority to determine what is fact and what is heresy.  The church goes further to define Mary as ever virgin, when it is an historical fact that Jesus had brothers and sisters.  An even more controversial belief is that some of these siblings may not have been younger than him, thus presenting a great challenge to the doctrine of the virgin birth.

An interesting fact can be discovered in the genealogy of Jesus found in the book of Matthew.  Many wonder why this information was even presented there.  Scholars argue that it is included to show that the man Yeshua was of the proper lineage of the Kings of Israel and was therefore entitled to his title of King of the Jews.  This fact is widely accepted by esotericists, but the mystic seeks to dig deeper here.

It is noted that only four women are mentioned in this genealogy. The first is Rahab, who was a harlot.  The second is Ruth, a righteous woman.  The third is Bathsheeba, not mentioned by name, but mentioned as the wife of Uriah, who conceived in an adulterous relationship with King David.  And lastly we come to Mary.  What could be an inner meaning of the mention of these four over the mention of any of the other women who were part of this heritage?

To the esotericist, the message is clear that the true mercy of God is revealed in that even a harlot and an adulteress might be included in the lineage of a King. It can be further stated that their inclusion demonstrates that the spirit of Christ Consciousness chose to manifest from humble and lowly roots in order to tear down man's reasoning concerning the establishment of casts of classes.

In relation to Mary, these passages may give credence to the belief that Mary was not indeed a virgin, but that she had conceived out of wedlock. Were the church to accept this thought, many of its legalisms and condemnations might crumble before our very eyes.  This would in turn, shed a greater understanding on the human sexuality the church has sought to control.

A common teaching labeled by the church as heresy is the belief that the Christ was himself both married and sexually active.  The church has taught that Christ was abstinent in all respects concerning sexual union.  This doctrine eventually led to the adoption of celibacy for all priests and bishops, which was also a doctrine adopted much later in Church history.  In the early church, both episkopi and presbyteri married.

The esoteric church give strong consideration to the woman Mary Magdalene as being the wife of Jesus.  Her mention is scripture cannot be coincidental, as all inspired scripture contains esoteric significance underlying the exoteric or prima facie reading.

Mary Magdalene appears as one who follows Jesus throughout his entire ministry even to his crucifixion.  She is placed with Mary the mother of Jesus at the site of the crucifixion.  Her closeness to Mary the mother resembles that of a daughter-in-law.  Her closeness to Jesus during his ministry is similar to that of a wife.

The esoteric faith teaches that Jesus was an Essene as opposed to a Nazarene.  If the former is correct, it is noted that the Essenes did indeed marry. Would the Christ, a highly initiated member of this order, take a different path?

One of the most controversial issues in the Christian faith is that of the lost years of Jesus.  The canon gives us a period of over twenty years of life that are unaccounted for in the life of the master.  Where was he during these years and what was he doing?  Why did the early council that formed the canon of scripture choose to not include documents about these early life of Christ?  The esoteric Christian may have the answer.

It is noted in the canon that the child Jesus was taken several places in his early years.  The scriptures tell us that an angel warned Joseph to take the child to Egypt to escape the persecution of Herod, who sought the death of any who would threaten his rule.  What significance does Egypt have to the life of the Christ?

It was in Egypt that Jesus was initiated into the Temple mysteries of the Egyptian religion.  In very elaborate detail, Christ was subjected to rituals that portrayed all that he was destined to complete through his ministry.

Another interesting fact about the childhood of Jesus lies in the fact that he was visited by the magi, which has been translated to read "wise men" in most modern translation.  These men were certainly more than wise men, they were magicians of the Persian religion.  These men were the ones assigned with the early training of the Christ child and train him they did.  Here Christ was initiated into Zoroastrian mysteries.

We later read of Yeshua's return to Israel. Here in the land of great mystery and heritage, he was introduced to Jewish mysticism.  As a Nazarene and later an Essene, Jesus was introduced to the mystery religion of his native people.  It is known in esoteric circles that he moved rapidly through the initiations of these sects and became both adept and mage.  The desert experience we read of in the gospels was a ritual of the Essene way.

Another very interesting fact about Jesus that is not found in the canon was his uncle, Joseph of Aramithea.  A merchant by trade, it was certain that he was required to travel much abroad, seeking goods from other lands.  Is it not feasible that the nephew, known to be the anointed one, should be permitted to join his uncle upon certain journeys so as to broaden his experience of the world he came to save?

There are several accounts of the appearance of a man described as Jesus in several surrounding countries.  Everywhere he traveled he was hailed as an anointed one.  It is very possible that during these travels, the Christ participated in the religions of the places he visited.  This would shed greater light upon the universal tone of his message.  Perhaps Jesus was the world's first Universalist?

Occult scientiests believe that Christ did indeed not only study, but did also master the mystery practices of the lands to which he journeyed.  He was believed to have mastered Yoga in India, meditation in Tibet and magick in Egypt.  He is also reputed to have set foot upon the European lands to include Britain.  This study in itself could yield not only an additional thesis or a book, but volumes of text.

Much of what is believed remains yet unproven in light of the scientific method, but reason can surely give credence to the hypothesis surrounding the lost years of Christ.  The point here might very well be stated as such:  it may not be so very important where or what Christ studied.  The most important fact is that somehow, this Jewish carpenter came to mastery of time and space.  He displayed the powers and abilities of the adepti of every mystery school.  He was surely a master.

If he received this knowledge and anointing from on high as a spontaneous gift, or if it was developed over a period of time through various schools, the fact remains that he was a Christ, an anointed one.

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