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

Re: Historic Jesus

Sep 04, 1996 10:29 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Hi Abrantes and Alan,

     We have been away for five days, but on returning, I have
enjoyed reading the discussion between you two.  I can't afford
the time to get into anything detailed, but I can comment briefly
and from the top of my head to the last ten exchanges:

ABRANTES (From Aug. 28):

>>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?

>Jerry, you referred to two passages that I mentioned: "There was
>but one apostle of Jesus worthy of that name, and that was
>Paul."(II:241) and "with the exception, perhaps of John, it does
>not seem that he (Jesus) had initiated any other apostle". (II:
>147) The last one is not difficult to find because if my page
>210=your page 241, and my page 134=your page 147. Then my page
>167 probably is around your 180 and 198 pages (around 13 and 31
>pages of difference) at chapter IV.

     The important issue here is that when HPB was speaking of
Paul, she means an historical person who lived in the first
century A.D., and claimed to have received a gnosis of the
Christ.  The historical Paul, HPB argues, was an initiate from
Tarsus (where a mystery school was located).  As an initiate, the
word `Christos' was an important and powerful term from the Greek
mysteries.  HPB argues that Paul never knew of such a person as
the Jesus described in the NT, as this legend was still evolving
at the time that he wrote.
     When HPB writes of John the Apostle, she is writing about a
legendary person who was initiated by a legendary Jesus.  I hope
this is clearer.

>Yes, you are correct. I mistaked when mentioned that II:241
>there is the word <gnosis>. But indeed this seems clear to me,
>because at chapter II (start60, end 110) page 86 HPB mentions
>that Paul was initiated in greek mysteries. She also refers to
>2Cor12:3, and cites Cyril of Jerusalem (Cathecheses xiv,26),
>concluding that Paul was initiated by Jesus through visions
>(even though the word <gnosis> never appear at this passages...)

Yes, HPB's argument is that Paul was initiated into the Greek
Mysteries (at Tersus), and there he would have received gnosis of
the Christos.  But this has nothing to do with any Jesus--whether
of the Bible nor of the Talmud, nor of the Todoth.  Christos is a
term from the Greek mysteries, and was not associated with the
Biblical Jesus until a later time.

>Jerry wrote:
>>1. She considers the Biblical Jesus to be mythical, patterned
>>after other mythical and legendary figures.

[Abrantes writes:]
>So HPB are saying that ALL four gospels are a forgery. This
>person, biblical Jesus never existed. She recognices only the
>existence of another Jesus, living one century before, as told
>by Toldoth. Correct?

     "Forgery"?  Abrantes, it appears to me that you are trying
to make a very black and white picture out of something that I
believe HPB is trying to show to be a complex canvas of endless
shades of gray.   I would not call the Gospels forgeries, nor
does HPB?  Would you call the ILIAD a forgery?  After all, we now
know that Troy (Ilium) really existed and a battle took place
around 1402 B.C., but that does not mean that the particulars in
Homer's account are an accurate record of what happened or what
anybody said.  Some of the characters may have been complete
fictionalizations to bring out important points in the story.
Other characters may have real people who lived around that time,
or 100 or so years earlier or later but never were connected with
the war.  But for the purpose of the story, they were
incorporated.  This kind of writing (or legend making) was a
perfectly normal way to tell stories.  Nobody thought of this
kind of story telling as "lying" or making "forgeries."   It was
a way of creating entertainment for the purpose of passing on
spiritual teachings, most of which are in metaphor.  In this kind
of story telling, certain formula story fragments are used over
and over again because of their potent effect.  For instance
being born of a virgin.  See stories of Sampson, the Buddha,
Mithra and even the historically undeniable Alexander the Great,
where the same element is used.
     Yes, HPB is saying that the Biblical Jesus did not exist,
but was evolved for many stories.  Yes she does insist that the
Jesus mentioned in the Talmud and of the Toldoth stories was an
historical person.  But she does not go so far as to say that
everything written about this person is true.  We know now that a
man we call "Robin Hood" really existed, but the legends about
him have to be taken with a grain of salt.

>Toldoth have a passage that says:
>Yeshu was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the
>Passover and of the Sabbath.
>When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had
>possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that
>no tree should hold him.  He had failed to pronounce the
>prohibition over the carob-stalk[9], for it was a plant more
>than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for
>afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, "His body
>shall not remain all night upon the tree." They buried him
>outside the city.
>Observe the passage <death on the sixth hour on the eve of the
>This is exactly what we read in Matthew 27:45 and Matthew 27:62.
>What is the most ancient text? Toldoth or gospel of Matthew?
>What did <pattern after other mythical and legendary figures>?

"What is the most ancient text"?  According to the first century
Rabbis of the Talmud, the story of the first century B.C.E. Jesus
was taken from Temple records that were lost when the Romans
destroyed the second temple in 70 C.E.  So their claims for this
story were not based upon stories heard here and there, but are
based upon accounts of actual records.   The original reason for
writing the Talmud was to preserve as many of these old records
as possible in order to continue the very culture that the Romans
tried to destroy.  Therefore the Jesus story was not included in
the Talmud as some kind of revenge against Christians (who at
that time were hardly distinguishable from themselves), but only
to preserve the family records.  Two Talmuds were written.  One
by the Jews who remained near Jerusalem, and the other was
compiled by the Jews who fled to Babylonia.  The same story was
preserved in both versions, but Christian pressure forced its
removal from the Jerusalem version.  If the Jewish claim that the
early Talmud was taken from actual records at the Temple is true,
then the story of the 100 B.C.E. Jesus must be the oldest story.
     But if your question is, who have the most ancient copy of
their respective stories--Then it is the Christians.  But this is
not the fault of the Jews.  For almost one thousand years, the
Christians routinely sacked and burned Jewish writings that were
kept in libraries and synagogues.  But the Jews continued to make
new copies and managed to keep ahead of the destruction and
Christian persecutions.  The earliest physical fragment of the
Toldoth story dates from the thirteenth century C.E., and the
present day Talmud is taken from a fifteenth century Italian
version, printed in Genoa.   You see, it wasn't until the
fifteenth century that the Christians finally agreed to stop
burning Jewish writings (at least in Italy), and for the first
time allowed to Jews to print and distribute the Talmud without
     As for the Talmud versus the Biblical account of Jesus'
death, last I have heard, the Jewish account of the Talmudic
Jesus being hung from a tree is considered more authentic to
Jewish custom at the time.  Crucifixions were done only by the
Romans.  Even then, a crucifixion was never performed on a cross.
The Romans either used a pole or a wooden frame shaped like the
Greek letter Tau.   Therefore, once again, the Jewish story,
whether authentic or not, is a more accurate account of how
executions were performed.
     You asked what other "mythical and legendary figures" follow
this pattern?  Well, from off the top of my head:

1.  The Buddha was betrayed by one of his disciples and was

2. Deliah betrayed Sampson to the Philistines, where he died with
his arms outstretched between two pillars.

3. Krishna charged the clergy with ambition and hypocrisy, and
fell victim to their vengeance.

>JHE wrote:
>>Yes.  I think HPB is saying that the historical Jesus of Syria
>>was a Nazarene reformer.
>This is not the biblical Jesus, but the talmudic Jesus, correct?

     Well, correct as far as the Talmudic Jesus is supposed to be
more correct than the Biblical Jesus.

>>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?
>Jerry replied:
>>You will have to quote the passage so that I can find it, else
>>I cannot comment on it specifically.
>The passage: "Basilides stated that he took ALL HIS DOCTRINES
>from the apostle Matthew and PETER, through Glaucias, his
>disciple" chapter III (start116,end145) page 139. Probably it
>corresponds to your page II:152. Jerry mentions that the gospel
>of Matthew used by Basilides was different from that used by
>church. But this is not the point. The point here is that HPB
>recognices that Basilides preached the correct doctrine and
>follows the doctrines that learned from Peter.
>But at 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.  At chapter II(60,110) page 87 she states that
>Peter saw Paul as magician, a man polluted with the gnosis, the
>wisdom of greek mysteries. Again she opposes Paul and Peter.

     I'm sorry, but I can't find the passage on or around page
II:152 either.   But regardless of the passage, I'm confused
concerning the point you are trying to make.  Are you trying to
make a case that Basilides believed in the Biblical Jesus?  OK,
for the sake of argument, what if he did?  How does that make the
Biblical Jesus any more authentic?

>>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
>JHE replied:
>>The Talmudic Peter lived one century before.  The Biblical
>>Peter lived under Nero's reign.
>In another mail I develop the argument that biblical Peter
>founded the church in Rome at first century, AND NO RESPECTABLE
>HISTORIAN REFUSE THIS FACT. So, biblical Peter lived at first
>century. And HPB recognices, mentioning the Talmud that Jesus
>and Peter was contemporary. So how can she neglect the historic
>evidences about Peter? (the references are given in another

     Abrantes, I'm afraid that I will have to side with Alan on
this one.  The historicity of Peter ever being in Rome is indeed
very much in doubt.  I even recall my old Theosophy teacher (who
died 15 years ago) mentioning this on many occasions, so this is
hardly a new piece of scholarship either.  Rather, she would say,
as does Alan, that traditions concerning Peter in Rome were
developed by early church fathers for obvious political reasons.
But I will leave this string of the discussion to you and Alan.


   |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