If I am going to write a longer article about this, one that is a bit more researched i think I might as well write it on my own
space, to further plug my own crap that I write on here.
So to start:
Christianity "How to be anal with a crucifix and at the same time play the devils advocate"
1 Jesus didn't ever exist. Jesus did exist.
For further references please see:
Doherty, Earl (1999). The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible (Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985) p. 355
Eddy, Paul R. and Boyd, Gregory A. The Jesus Legend. Baker Academic, 2007, pp. 24–27.
Christopher M. Tuckett, "Sources and Methods" in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus (London: Cambridge University Press, 2001) p.
So what the fuck?
Well, you see even the very existance of a historcial jesus is highly controversial and debated on two sides of an academic fence.. Depending on whether you take a theological stance, trying to find archaeological evidence and real historci evidence to back up your faith that Jesus was wandering about or an atheist stance different things will be found.
Look at this highly interesting tidbit:
White, L. Michael. From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins, 2004, pp. 3–4:
"This is one of the problems with the story. We have no writings from the days of Jesus himself. Jesus never wrote anything, nor do we have any contemporary accounts of his life or death. There are no court records, official diaries, or newspaper accounts
that might provide firsthand information. Nor are there any eyewitnesses whose reports were preserved unvarnished. Even though they may contain earlier sources or oral traditions, all the Gospels come from later times. Discerning which material is early and which is late becomes an important task. In fact, the earliest writings that survive are the genuine letters of Paul. They
were written some twenty to thirty years after the death of Jesus. Yet Paul was not a follower of Jesus during his lifetime; nor does he ever claim to have seen Jesus during his ministry."
or how about this one
Rolf Torstendahl professor at Uppsala University, Sweden writes "…the historian in this case, as in so many others, will say neither "The evidence is that he lived there and then" nor "The
evidence is that he did not live there and then". The logical possibility of the existence of Jesus (at the religiously assumed
place and time) cannot be denied, but the evidence seems to be too weak to give such a statement a minimum probability..... "Theologians as Historians the statement by historian Rolf Torstendahl, p 197,retrieved 9/12/10
So, some scholars are saying one thing, and other equally respected scholars are saying something else?
Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press, 2002, p. xxiii. writes:
"Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically."
Stanton is clearly LYING! why? Because he is a Christian, or for some other reason is only willing to finds proofs for the existance of Jesus.
The others? They are evil atheist pig-dogs who just want to destroy our vauable beliefs!
Did jesus exist? The answer is maybe. good that we got that out of the equation since it is fucking obvious that depending on your agenda, as with ALL social/Philosophical fields (those not based on hard maths) the agenda will influence the outcome, and even if there is no historical evidence thebible wil lways be pointed at, or some random historicist to either provde or disprove
the existence or non-existens of Jay-man
2 John the baptizer did baptize. if he existed.
Simillar arguments as above. *yawn*
3 Christianity as a mystery cultus, A cult of jesus, a social reform, an esoteric teaching or fucking bullshit?
Oh My, this one is hard. Its so hard it gets my dick hard. Why? Because all evidence we have about christianity comes either from its critics or from people who thought it was neat, and the best ting is that the sorces are just as "reliable" and open for debate as the above.
I'll subdivide this into some bits then shall I?
A) early texts talking about Christianity and its forms
Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger all write about christianity and the forms it takes. Are they reliable source? Not really, no.
The fun thing is that Christian, xhristi, hristo, Christeus etc usually refers to followers of Christ (the annointed).
We have jewish "sources as well"
Flavius Josephus (c. 37–c. 100), a Jew and Roman citizen who worked under the patronage of the Flavians, wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in 93 AD. In these works, Jesus is mentioned twice, though scholars debate their authenticity. The one directly concerning Jesus has come to be known as the Testimonium Flavianum. In the first passage, called the Testimonium Flavianum, it is written:
About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly
loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.
Concerns have been raised about the authenticity of the passage, and it is widely held by scholars that at least part of the passage has been altered by a later scribe. The Testimonium's authenticity has attracted much scholarly discussion and controversy of interpolation.
Louis H. Feldman counts 87 articles published during the period of 1937–1980, "the overwhelming majority of which question its authenticity in whole or in part."Louis H. Feldman, "Josephus" Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 990–91
B) Gnosticism, Christianity and proto-Christianity and a weird jewish sect
OOpps what is this? Yupp, Christianity as we know it didn't fully come into existence untill around 90-130 A.D.
Most Scholars, again dubiously, claim that the early church was the apostolic church led by jesus' Disciples. Now, as Jesus may or may not even have existed, that means that the disciplies may or may not have existed or may of may not have created the idea of Jesus.
You know to back them up.
So at first we have some odd jews runnig around doing stuff in the name of the anointed king of Judea. A messianic figure. even a curcsory understanding of Judaism will allow you familiarity with the idea of the messiah.
Cohen, Abraham (1995)  (paperback). Everyman's Talmud: The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages. Neusner, Jacob (paperback
ed.). New York: Schocken Books
Orthodox Judaism claims these 13 beliefs today for instance
The existence of God
God's spirituality and incorporeality
God alone should be the object of worship
Revelation through God's prophets
The preeminence of Moses among the prophets
God's law given on Mount Sinai
The immutability of the Torah as God's Law
God's foreknowledge of human actions
Reward of good and retribution of evil
The coming of the Jewish Messiah
The resurrection of the dead
So, right Christianity as a weird jewish sect? Check.
Some people even claim that there was not much difference between Judaism as we know it and this proto Christianity, they were simply different sects in that era
For reference see
"Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism" by Daniel Boyarin in The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 92, No. 3/4 (Jan. - Apr., 2002), pp. 586-588
Shall we add the fact that this Era was extremely mixed and was a frickin' cultural melting pot? Hellenistic influences and Greek magical papyri etc. all show a lovely melting pot. Judaism got its kabbalitsic theories, who knows what Mithraistic Appollonian crap might have entered and either created this proto Christian jewish sect, or perhaps transmuted it. If Jesus existed and if he thus had disciples. Like The rosicrucians maybe having been founded by Christian Rozenkreutz and maybe not.
C) Proto-Christianity a Cult of the mystery?
When comparing christianity with coexisting things we notice very strong similarities with a mystery cult, see:
"Klauck, Brian; McNeil (2003), The Religious Context of Early Christianity" for further reference
There is one problem however. Mystery Cults were special. not any idiot could join. some were for women or men only, soldiers only etc.
Therefore some wise-ass people claim, based on the above mentioned sources that are highly subjective sorces proto-christianity was not a standard mystery cult.
Seeing as we know NOTHING for certain about proto-christianity lets take this view to
Early christianity, not the jewish proto stuff but the real deal that we know a bit more about comes form 40+ A.D.
reference Tyndale Bible Dictionary, pp. 266, 828
We know they rejected certain Jewish practices like circumcision and as the religion became formalised more and more things were
turned into dogma. We know for example that to become a jew you used to have to get the skin on your penis chopped off. Dangerous and hygienic in a desert environment, no?
But to be a christian you got baptized, in nice fresh clean water. we do know that baptism, or immersion in water was not something unique to proto/early christianity, it was something they used, as did other sects.
Studying the earliest forms of christian worship we come to some strange conclusions.
Bruce Metzger. The canon of the New Testament. 1997
for some easy to digest references.
The thing is > in order to parttake of the sacrament, depending how that specific church understood the term, issues with which among other things led to the formation of different denominations, you only had to get baptised and accept Christ.
Nifty, huh? water over the head, accept the trinity and presto, you are able to parttake in the body of GOD and thus make yourself godlike.
Sounds like a mystery to me, but hey fuck do I know.
You are what you eat after all. No need for purity and other tasks that require your mind like the other mystery cults. Still, strangely this stillseems like a magical mystery that is being celebrated.
I have not found a single reference that claims that the eucharist was the equivalent of a secret masons handshake, thus it seems that it was a religious / spiritual act.
I rest my case on this one.
D) True teachings of a profound character, or fucking bullshit?
Due to the fact that the early history is shrouded in academic fog and historical crap it is hard to know anything for certain.
We Know that :
there was a hellenic influence.
Gnostic, platonic, greco-egyptian, magickal, roman, sortoff jewish and sortoff Christian movements coexisted. This is historical fact.
The links can be further studied in the below texts aside from what I already mentioned above
Jüdische Schriften aus hellenistisch römischer Zeit, hrsg. von W.G. Kümmel und H. Lichtenberger, Gütersloh 1973ff.
Gerhard Delling: Die Begegnung zwischen Hellenismus und Judentum, in: Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, Bd. II 20.1
The Greek magical Papyri in Translation (The papyri date mostly from the second century B.C. to the fifth century or so A.D.)
We also know that:
Jesus may or may not have existed;
Messinaic cults in Judaism existed;
Proto gnosticism was already in existence as yet another fucked up sect;
Because Jesus may not have existed the apostles didn't exist either , or were just the people who dreamed up the new sect;
We know that
Early - Christianity, when the dogma started to coagulate, celebrated a mystery in the form of an eucharist.This was open to christians only.
What we do not know and can take stabs at based on available sources, yet again this is as much a mater of opinion as whether Jay-man even existed:
Early christianity when it started with congregatons and rituals was overseen by someone with a claim to an apostolic link
2 we can guess that people were just as stpid and gullible as they are today, yet somehow wanted to have a reason to choose to be a christian, instead of any of the other available religions
3 based on no 2 above we can guess that there was some form of teaching used for this end > whether proto christian jewish historical or made up doesn't matter
4 once someone accepted to be a christian they were able to be a part of the christian community and celebrations of the mystery in some form.
5 due to this very hastily written essays poi9nts above we can deduce that bishops/priests knew someting that the members did not know or have something that the members did not have allowing them to act with apostolic power. there fore to be a priest required an initiation of a kind.
add a few hundred years to this and you have the council of Nicea. and the appropriation of christianity as the state religion of the Holy Roman Empire, which leads to forced christianisation, further cross-breeding with beliefs and practices and presto you
have christanity, more or less as it is today.
So, is christianity a mystery cult as the eleusian mysteries? of course not.is christianity a cult of the mystery?
yes, in its pre institutionalised form.
However all this is dependent on whether you work from the point of view of jay-man existing or not existing, whihc leads to whether you accept the apostolic chruch as a myth or as dogma, whether you believe that something spiritual actually is imparted during the mass or not.
Taken to its extremenes
Christianity could be a massive age old elaborate hoax by a bunch of people who wanted to manipulate people using religious imagery to accomplish some for of social event,
it could also be the gospel truth and jesus was God incarnate yet coexisting as god beyond and the holy spirit here to change the world.
Likely however, it is an amalgamation of proto christian jewsih sect+hellenic mystery magico-mystery traditions+hero cult+brainwashing+dash of true enlightenment and gnosis by some adherents+dogma and church law+roman regulations+decline of civilisation.
Is Christianity today Exoteric?
Is there esoteric christianity as well?
Does the exoteric element go back to its beginning?
Depending on who you ask. Most likely proto-jewish christianity was just as "enlighetend" as any of the other jewish sects that may or may not have been mixed with the pervading Hellenistic knowlegde base.
Has there always been an esoteric element?
Depending on who you ask. Most likely when the early aspects of the tradition broke
away from the other jewsish sects it soaked up elements from the other hellenic religions that it is undeniable to see the links with and then hopefully managed to grab some true gnosis as well.
However this is all disproven becauseJjesus loves you all and he gave his life for your sins and to save you from having to sacrifice your foreskins to be the chosen people, so lets just accept this all sheall we?
Unless he didn't exist.
The devil will now stop being a lawyer.