[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Historical Jesus

Aug 21, 1996 03:08 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Hi Abrantes,

The following is in response to your last two posts.

>>BOOK III, chapter V (191,217) page 210 HPB states that Paul was
>>the only apostle to receive gnosis from Jesus. But at chapter
>>III (116,145) page 134 she says that Jesus taught magi to John,
>>and at chapter IV (153,185) page 167 she says that Jesus teach
>>his gnosis to SOME disciples (more than one disciple).
>>So, what did HPB want to say? How many disciples receive Jesus
>>gnosis from Jesus himself?

JHE reply:
>>I have already mentioned several times that HPB speaks of three
>>Jesus: an historical, a Biblical and a theological.  Unless
>>those distinctions are made, HPB will appear to contradict
>>herself in every chapter.  In chapter V, HPB is writing here of
>>the historical Paul who received gnosis from the Christ through
>>visions.  The other references you mention concern the Biblical

>So HPB recognices that Jesus (biblical) teached his gnosis to
><some apostles>. At first sight, I thinked that HPB are saying
>that Jesus teached his doctrines to none of his disciples, but
>only to Paul (through visions). Did Peter receive this gnosis?

You will have to quote the passage you have in mind in order for
me to find it.  I have read through this section several times
without finding a passage that say exactly what you are
suggesting.  The closest passage I can find is: "There was but
one apostle of Jesus worthy of that name, and that was Paul."
(II:241).  But this passage does not mention the word "gnosis."
The passage concerning John you have in mind might be:

       But his career at least as a public Rabbi was of a too short
       duration to allow him to establish a regular school of his
       own; and with the exception, perhaps of John, it does not
       seem that he had initiated any other apostle. (II: 147).

This passage is commentary on the Biblical Jesus in light of
ancient practice.  She is suggesting that John would have been
privileged to the deepest of the Biblical Jesus' teachings--
according to the NT story.

But without knowing the exact passage you have in mind, your
comments still lead me to believe that you are still not keeping
in mind some of HPB's basic ideas that she is trying to show when
she is discussing the NT.

1. She considers the Biblical Jesus to be mythical, patterned
after other mythical and legendary figures.
2. She distinguishes between the Biblical Jesus and the Christ.
The former is a mythical figure.  The latter is a metaphysical
abstraction denoting the spirit within all of us.

3. The NT Gospels evolved from a combination of legendary and
mythical traditions.

4. Paul is an historical character, and his authentic writings do
not speak of a historical Jesus, but of the Christ.

5. John the Baptist is an historical character but the Biblical
accounts of his relations with Jesus is fictional.

6. Herod is an historical character, but the Biblical account of
his killing the innocents is fictional and based upon Alexander
Jennaeus' killing of the innocents.

7. Pilate is an historical character, but the Biblical account of
his relations with Jesus is fictional.

8. Some of Jesus' disciples mentioned in the Bible are based upon
historical characters that are discussed in the Talmud.  But
their relationship with the Biblical Jesus is fictional.

Therefore HPB would say that the historical Paul received gnosis
from the *Christ* (not the Biblical Jesus).   She also would say
that the Bible tells us that Jesus' disciples received teachings
from him.  But since HPB argues all through her book that the
Biblical Jesus is mythical, then so is the Biblical account of
his teachings to his disciples.  Therefore one cannot take her
statements about the Biblical disciples on the same level of
meaning as the statements she makes about Paul.   Even here, you
still have to watch for when she is talking about the Biblical
Paul, and when she is talking about the Historical Paul.

So to answer your question: yes, HPB recognizes that the Biblical
(i.e. mythical) Jesus taught his gnosis to some disciples.  But
she does not regard this as an historical event.  She does regard
Paul's receiving of Gnosis from the Christ (not the Biblical
Jesus) as an historical event.  But as we discussed before, the
Greek word "christos" is older than Christianity, and in this
case, not connected to the Biblical Jesus.  As HPB and others
have argued that the historical Paul knew nothing of the Biblical

>BOOK III,chapter IV (153,185) page 163 HPB writes that Peter,
>the apostle of circumcision, preached the doctrines opposed to
>Paul, and describes 2Peter 2:18-31 as a example of such discord.
>HPB describes that Peter did not understand Jesus message. At
>the same time HPB cites Theodoreth that writes "nazarens uses
>the gospel of Peter" and concludes that Peter was a nazarene.
>Referring to Codex Nazarene "Jesus Mesio is Nebu, the FALSE
>Messiah, destroyer the of ancient religion" (chapter III -
>116,145 -page 123). So she concludes that christianity is a
>"heresy within a heresy".

Yes.  The whole thing is a lot like Chinese boxes--each inside
the other.  In the center are the historical characters of Peter
and Paul and the various elements that eventually came together
to form the Biblical Jesus story.  This box is enclosed by the
authentic letters of Paul.  This box is enclosed by the Talmudic
stories of Peter, the Talmudic stories of Jesus, and the Biblical
accounts of Paul (I think I read somewhere that Paul was also
mentioned in the Talmud, but the reference was later disguised
because of Christian objections to it).  This box is enclosed by
the Biblical accounts of Peter, Paul and Jesus, including later
documents not written by Paul.  This Box is enclosed by the
theological interpretations of Jesus, Peter and Paul, based upon
the Biblical writings, the authenticity of which was never

>I think that HPB are opposing two heresies within the judaism:
>the old nazarenes (Peter is included here) and the new heresy:
>the christianity (Jesus is included here, HPB says that Jesus
>was a nazaren reformer).

Yes.  I think HPB is saying that the historical Jesus of Syria
was a Nazarene reformer.

>BUT at page 139 HPB describes the gnostic system of
>Basilides,the follower of doctrines of Matthew and Peter (???)
>(references to Clement of Alexandria, Stromata  VII,XVII) and
>refers to him as teaching the correct doctrine. So, now, Peter
>(Basilides reflects his doctrines in accordance with Clement)
>and Jesus (the false Messiah of Codex) has the same doctrine. We
>have a problem here do you agree?

You will have to quote the passage so that I can find it, else I
cannot comment on it specifically.  However, without seeing the
passage, I would point out that HPB does discuss at length a
Hebrew version of Matthew, described by St. Jerome but rejected
by him.  What I am suggesting here is that Basilides' documents
may not be the same as those in the Bible.  Even if they are,
they may have been different version.  Even if they are the same
version, we have already found in the case of Marcion that it
wouldn't matter anyway, because Marcion's interpretation was
radically different.  We know already that Basilides' ideas are
also very different.  So I don't see anyone being an accordance
with anyone.  For a modern example: both a Jew and a Christian
accept the Book of Genesis.  But Christian Theologians have for
centuries found prophecies of Jesus in this book.  Does that mean
that a Jew who accepts the Book of Genesis should also accept
Christ?  Of course not.

>Solution: There is no contradiction between Jesus and Peter, and
>the negative view given by HPB to Peter is wrong.

There should not be any contradiction between the Biblical Jesus
and the Biblical Peter because they were both formulated under
the same Christian tradition.  But this does not make HPB's
comments concerning the historical personages behind the Biblical
mythology wrong.

>Some more questions about the historicity of Jesus as stated in
>Unveiled Isis, BOOK III chapter III (116-145) page 135 HPB
>refers to Epiphanius, Panarion I,II Haer XXVII,VI that refers to
>idolatry of carpocratians that represented the image of Jesus
>made by Pilate. HPB gives credility to this testimony of
>Epiphanius, so Jesus lived under Pilate.

This passage is on page 150 of Vol. II, Ch. III in the original.
HPB is giving credibility to the testimony she quotes from
Epiphanius: "they kept painted portraits and even gold and silver
images, and in other materials, which they *pretended* to be
portraits of Jesus, and made by Pilate after the likeness of
Christ."  But neither HPB nor Epiphanius are saying that these
images are of a historical Jesus, nor are they saying that they
were really made by Pilate.  Epiphanius uses the word
"pretended", which I have highlighted in the quote.   This quote
in its full context, is part of a larger point HPB is making that
the early Christians objected to graven images of Jesus.   As she
wrote on the preceding page, the only authorized image of Jesus
during the time of Tertullian was a Jackel-headed figure "like
Anubis" carrying a lamb.  The image is of course symbolic, and is
not a portrait of any historical Jesus.

>Unveiled Isis BOOK III chapter III (116-145) page 119 HPB
>reproduce Toldoth that states that Peter was contemporary to
>Jesus. Some lines before, at same chapter HPB refers to Christ
>of Paul (who is the authorship???)  and agrees that Peter lived
>under Nero reign. So Jesus never can be lived one century

The Talmudic Peter lived one century before.  The Biblical Peter
lived under Nero's reign.

>Basilides believed that Jesus was not crucified, but "received
>the form of Simon", so he "did not suffer death, but Simon, a
>certain man of Cyrene". Basilides also accepted Gospel of
>Matthew (Clement of Alexandria Stromata VII,XVII cited by HPB
>Unveiled Isis BOOK III, chapter III, page 139).
>This passage about Simon of Cyrene is present in Matthew 27:32,
>and it seems that Basilides recognizes the description given in
>Matthew about Jesus passion, as authentical (even though his
>interpretation is different from orthodoxy).  Toldoth gives no
>reference about Jesus crucifixion. So, comparing this two
>sources (gospel of Matthew and Toldoth) it seems that Basilides
>recognizes the authenticity of story told in Matthew.

Basilides believed in a Gnostic Jesus, whose historicity is
irrelevant.  But if Basilides did recognize an historical Jesus
who lived under Pilate, what does this prove other than that
Basilides professed a more occult view of the Pilate-Jesus
crucifixion tradition that was already established during his
time.  Basilides' acceptance or rejection of this tradition in
itself neither proves or disproves its historicity, nor does it
necessarily show that Basilides took it from an historical point
of view.


   |Jerry Hejka-Ekins,                      |
      |Member TI, TSA, TSP, ULT                |
         |Please reply to:   |
            |and CC to       |

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application