MYSTERY OF MYSTERY
The word "mystery" (in Greek Mysterion) is a key word in Christianity. It appears in the New Testament 22 times in the singular and 5 times in the plural. The following verses indicate that Christianity was originally established as a mystery religion:
"they (the deacons) must hold fast to the mystery of the faith ..."
—1 Timothy 3:9 (NRSV)
"The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven."
—Luke 8:10 (NRSV)
"... the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God ..."
—Ephesians 3:9 (KJV)
"This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church."
—Ephesians 5:32 (KJV)
"... so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ ..."
—Colossians 4:3 (NASB)
Although most members of the Christian clergy would deny it, it is clear that Christianity had its roots in and derived its sacrements from the mystery religions of antiquity. This would be the Pagan origins from Egypt, Greece, and surrounding geographic regions that had interactions and trade with the early Hebrews as they were forming and revising their own customized belief system.
In recent years it has become common for authors to conclude that Jesus Christ was a mythological character based upon wishful thinking of Messianic Hebrews, and then revised by Emperor Constantine of Rome during the Council of Nicea on 325CE. In actuality, the gospel accounts of Jesus Christ are based on the lives of at least 3 distinctly different people, and possibly a fourth. Jesus is a conglomeration of multiple people, including Apollonius of Tyana.
What makes the task of reconstructing events from this time frame so difficult are all of the massive edits done to the Christian scriptures by various Judaizing and Hellenizing sects during the second century. There is also the problem that conspirators committed to the fire and literally burned and destroyed forever anything that they could find that contradicted the approved Roman doctrine after the Council of Nicea was held in 325CE under the supervision of Emperor Constantine.
Christian Scholars and Apologists seeking affirmation for the existence of this religious icon of the Christian faith turned to the only reliable source of Israel's history of that period ... that being the writings of historian Josephus. However, it soon became all too evident that when it came to Jesus, Josephus was moot with the exception of one famous passage, known as the Testimonium Flavianum, in the final chapter of his final book "Antiquities of the Jews."
However, here Josephus is seen affirming that Jesus was indeed the Christ something a pious Pharisaic Jew would never do. So, the debate began. Was it authentic or a latter day Christian forgery? This debate has long been been resolved and it has been determined to have been inserted by later scribes. Therefore, many of the so-called Josephus documentations have to be forgeries. Hence, forgery, and plagiarism played an important role in its creation which makes its value unreliable and suspect. He also mentions Jesus in an account of the death of James, the supposed brother of Jesus.
It has always been assumed that the four canonical gospels represented four independent accounts of the Passion of Jesus, however, with the publication of "Caesar's Messiah" by 'Dead Sea Scroll' archivist Joseph Atwill, it became clear that they actually stem from one continuous narrative which has been broken up into 4 separate gospels. However, each of these stories were originally intended to cover a distinctly different aspect of the events in the life of Jesus and are not attempts at giving independent accounts of the same story.
The gospels have undergone some degree of manipulation to make it seem as if they are 4 complete stories, but originally they were not. The Gospel of Mark once lacked any reference to the resurrection of Jesus, but there are those who believe that a part of the mystical end of the Gospel of John was actually the original ending of Mark. It was only in the late second century that Irenaeus assigned the names of authors to these anonymous works. Hence ... the Gospel "according to ..."
The 3 Synoptic Gospels are more Hebrew in origin and are influenced by Yeshu (Yeshua), the Essene 'Teacher of Righteousness' and social reformer, who was unceremoniously stoned and hung by the 'Wicked Priest' Aristobulus II c 65 BCE.
All we know of the Teacher comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls which indicate that some sort of defining event ocurred among the Essene sect at about that time. The Gospel according to John is a second century Hellenized Gnostic version of a more mythical supernatural Jesus Christ written to appeal to the more secular Greek sensibility.
However, the true esoteric teachings of Jesus are contained in the Synoptics and reflect the authors Zorastrian Pythagorean Essene and Gnostic background. They also contain certain Buddhist, Egyptian, Greek, and Hindu elements and myth pertaining to several subjects. This leads to the obvious question, "Where did they come from?" In order to understand the source from where the Christian scriptures originated, it is important that we start with the teachings not of the Old Testament, but of Zoroaster and Mithra(s), and many Godmen that came before them. But, this is for another day, and another article.
Just a thought ...
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.