The Shout Of Paul’s Silence

Chapter XII

The development of the theme has now brought the discussion face to face with another particular in the volume of testimony that has only been denied its validity as a final crushing blow to the historical view of Jesus by resort to the most specious casuistry and the most dogged denial of reason. It is an item that is so tell-tale in its silent eloquence, so dangerous in its implications, that ecclesiastical policy simply dare not permit its witness to be heard openly in the court. This menacing particular is St. Paul’s silence about the personal Jesus. Himself almost contemporary with Jesus, and at any rate on the scene of Christ’s life within a few decades after its notable events, and still more, an enthusiastic convert to the new faith following a short period of persecution of its devotees, and fired with an unquenchable zeal for its propagation, he surely must have hounded down all the authentic data regarding the life and acts of the great Divine Founder of his adopted religion with indefatigable eagerness. The likelihood in this direction must have been increased a hundred-fold by the little-mentioned fact that he says in one of his Epistles that he spent two weeks (a fortnight) with Peter (Cephas)! If these things happened on the plane of objective actuality, the most elementary imagination can picture the realistic connotations of it all. Two weeks with Peter! Is it thinkable that the zealous young convert would pass the two weeks of this extraordinary opportunity without plying the impetuous Peter with an endless string of questions as to every detail of all that he had personally witnessed in connection with the series of Gospel events? What did Jesus do here and say there? How did he look, feel, act on this occasion and on that? What were the grand high points in the Savior’s career, in the disciple’s opinion? What about this, that and the other? The fancy thrills at the electric tension of interest that would have been generated in a meeting between these two! If it also was historical . . . But then,--the scholarly imagination thrills also with just as tense an amazement over the incomprehensible fact that, with all the data of his personal Master’s life stored away and glowing in his mind, the dynamic Paul, when he came to sit down and write fifteen Epistles to the young "churches" and congregations of the faith, should never once venture to mention to his brethren the man Jesus! Here is the incontestable, the unanswerable fact. This is the datum that stares the proponents of historicity into silence. Before it sophistry fails and argument goes dumb. There is no answer to this testimony of silence on the side of the orthodox position. If Jesus lived as claimed, and Paul lived and wrote as claimed, it is beyond all cavil unthinkable that the apostle would have left a total blank in his Epistles on the subject of the personal Jesus. Ingenuity can bring up--and has done so--a variety of specious "reasons" to "explain" Paul’s silence about his Master. But when they have exhausted their plausibility, they have not laid the ghost of the insistent question nor reduced the pressure of its threat to the orthodox position one whit. It stalks the claim of Jesus’ existence like a mocking specter and no legerdemain can exorcise it. The fact stands in all its glaring significance: St. Paul never once mentions the man Jesus! And Paul is the earliest witness among Bible writers, the one nearest to Jesus, says Bacon.

The average man mildly versed in the Bible is amazed when told that Paul does not mention Jesus, for everywhere the assumption prevails that he did. If the matter is broached to a Bible student he will make rebuttal with Paul’s own words: "This Jesus whom we have seen," and other passages in the Epistles that sound like testimony to the Galilean’s existence,--this Jesus in whom Paul glories and whose witness he bore through pain and travail. How can anyone say that Paul does not mention Jesus?

To be sure, Paul speaks of Jesus. But even the theologians agree that this Jesus of Paul’s Epistles is not a man of flesh. The Jesus Paul dilates upon is the spiritual entity in the core of man’s inner being. He is the Christ principle, and not the man.

While this is generally enough conceded by exegetists, the reader may need some assurance on the point. Our first witness is the Yale Divinity School publicist, Benjamin W. Bacon, who in his Jesus and Paul (p. 57) is positive in his position: Paul is the first Bible writer in the first century and he definitely knows no Christ except one not after the flesh. If he had posited a personal Christ, Christianity would not have survived his day.

Evidently Bacon does not adhere to the general Christian belief that Jesus became a historical person in Christianity because early Christianity had knowledge of his existence. It is important to notice that he thinks Paul’s preachment of a personal Jesus would even have killed Christianity. Here is Bacon declaring that the very element of the new faith which others affirm is the innermost genius of its essence and its very raison d’être is the thing that would have killed it at the start. Others claim it was the tradition of the living Jesus that made it live to become the world power of later years, and that Paul’s Hellenism and his spiritual-Christos conception would have killed it. What a confusion we see here in the counsels of Christian theology! One school asserts that the early promulgation of the thesis of a historical man-Christ would have destroyed Christianity in its very birthing, and that Paul’s Hellenization of its doctrines saved it. Opposed to this is the general claim that Christianity sprang to life because of its preachment of the personal Christ in the flesh and the asseveration of countless divines that it lived by escaping the esotericism of Hellenic philosophical systems. Compounding these two aspects of Christian thought, we have the net conclusion that the Hellenism that would have destroyed Christianity actually saved it; and the historical thesis that gave it its very being would have killed it. Such illogical entanglements are inevitable so long as the effort is not sincerely to get at the truth, but to make a case for a traditional position on little or no solid foundation of true data.

Bacon adds that it was not the teachings and miracles which we find related in the Gospels that are the bastions and supports of Paul’s doctrine, since, he declares, Paul neither possesses these, nor even seems to care for their story. Again the cat escapes the bag, for here is admission of high authority that Paul knew nothing or cared nothing for the Gospel story of Jesus’ living career that had allegedly founded the faith he had enthusiastically embraced! It is commonly assumed in Christian circles that of course Paul knew all that the Gospels relate and that this body of history was the basis of his espousal of the faith. But it is clear that the Epistles are in no way related to, or an outgrowth or denouement of, Gospel "history." They would probably be in literature if no personal Jesus had ever lived. They trace to quite another source, which Bacon is frank to tell us of: since Paul is addressing men to whom the conception of the Mystery religions is the commonplace of religious expression, it should occasion no surprise if he uses their phraseology. He employs the familiar esoteric symbols to portray his own exalted experience and thinks his own immortality achieved in terms of Mystery arcana. Paul’s language is the vernacular of the Mystery cults. No one familiar with the philosophy of personal redemption through absorption into the nature of dying and risen Christhood can fail to recognize this. The fact can hardly be controverted.

Therefore it will be seen from what a background and in what a philosophical milieu Paul presents his preachment of the attainment of Christhood. It is as detached and remote from Gospel "history" and all its implications as could well be imagined for a body of fifteen Epistles that were to take their place in the same canonical Bible as the complement and companions of those same Gospels! If the general Christian presumption is that Paul’s contribution to the scriptures reinforces the Gospel story of Jesus’ life, that presupposition has a strong ostensible warrant in the sheer fact that the Epistles are put in on the heels of the Gospels, and certainly not for the purpose of nullifying, but assumedly to reinforce the witness and message of the Gospels. What must be the surprise, then, of the general Christian body to be told that Paul’s Christianity is Hellenic theosophy and philosophy, Orphic-Platonic Mystery cultism, almost indeed Hindu Yoga mysticism, with no immediate relation or reference to the Gospel life of Jesus! And this ever bitterly condemned pagan cultism is what saved Christianity beyond Paul’s time for later burgeoning into Occidental favor, we are gravely told!

The Yale theologian goes on to identify large and grand aspects of Paul’s doctrinism as Hellenic philosophy and Mystery teaching, and even goes so far as to say that Paul’s Christianity includes elements that Jesus did not teach! Jesus taught no such doctrine as that of transfiguration by conformation to the likeness of the glorified Lord. According to Paul the adoption of the Christ mind effects a moral new creation here upon the earth, causing the devotee to live no longer unto himself but unto him who died and rose again for man’s redemption. It effects also a reclothing with a spiritual body, so that mortality is swallowed up in life. This, says Bacon, is not part of what Jesus taught in Galilee, but it is emphatically Paul’s own vision of the risen Christ. Paul is speaking of what he knows because he has seen it, and to express it he is forced to resort to the rich phraseology of the Mystery cults!

This is well conceived by Bacon; but that inevitable narrow contempt for all things pagan and pre-Christian that Christianity has engendered in its adherents asserts itself a little further on in Bacon’s work and inspires him to make one of those unfounded assertions which in numberless instances, in sermons and books, indicate nothing more than an inveterate determination on the part of Christian theologians not to admit that any other religion had truth and wisdom equal to that found in their own faith. Bacon admits that Paul borrowed the language that gave majestic expression to the realities of his own (or any man’s) divinization from Greek religion. But suddenly realizing that this is impliedly verging on the most egregious praise and glorification of the Mystery religion and imperiling the cherished superiority of Christianity over other systems, the expositor must quickly hedge and retrench. He hastens to assert that Paul’s teaching from Hellenistic religion and that the moral ideal presented to the votary of the Mysteries is poor and empty when compared with that of the Sermon on the Mount. Imagine, cries Bacon, the difference between being infused with the mind, or ethical spirit of Jesus, and the mind of an Attis, a Dionysus, or an Asclepios! "Partaking in the nature of" the divinity, "the life in the spirit," "living in Christ," "living the life that is hid with Christ in God," the terms that clothed in words the rapturous experiences of Mystery devotees,--what, Bacon asks, would they all amount to beyond mere magic and superstition, if the convert did not also know the spirit of Jesus? The aspirant must realize a sense of his death to sin and of this union with the Father that can come only through the absolute self-dedication of Jesus. He must be redeemed by adopting the mind of Christ and not that of a pagan god.

It is not often that dignified discussion or scholastic critique calls for or excuses the flat denial of the truth of an argument. But there is little left to do with such a line of sophisticated apologetic save to say it is bluntly not true. More than one item in the statement of Bacon is off the line of truth. To begin with it is disingenuous and logically vapid to speak of the superiority of Paul’s teaching to the figures of speech borrowed from Greek theology in which he expresses it. There is no point in contrasting Paul’s thought with the forms of speech that utter it. It is well enough known that mind is greater than the capacity of language to express it. Paul chose the best available forms at his command, and those were drawn from his intimate association with the Mystery ritual.

Then follows the inevitable allegation of the poverty of pagan teaching beside the shining splendor of the Sermon on the Mount. This has become decidedly hackneyed in the past fifteen years, or since western universities have instituted courses of real study in Oriental religions and have seen something of the profundity and grandeur of religions which it was until then the old Christian custom to despise. But it is worse than hackneyed; it is not true. Christian prejudice has hitherto prevented that frank, sincere and open-minded examination of pagan systems which would have brought to light the true magnificence of other religions. The proper answer to the smallness and error of the slight that Bacon casts on Greek Mystery morality and spirituality is simply to say that a thousand fair-minded scholars and students have more recently looked at both Christian and ancient pagan systems and have been unable to detect any superiority at all of Christian over pagan faiths. Indeed the consensus of much high opinion is that the palm and laurel would have to be accorded to the pagan.

So when Bacon asks us to imagine the abyss of difference between being filled with the mind of Christ and the mind of Dionysus, the frank reply must be that we see no difference at all. It is only because modern theological professors do not seem to know that in Dionysus, Atys, Bacchus, Adonis, Zagreus, Sabazius and others the Greeks had already expressed everything that a Christian can possibly think of as embodied in his Jesus, that they blunder into instituting comparisons and discovering huge gaps of difference that exist only in their own imaginations. If all the acumen of sixteen centuries of Christian scholasticism has not sufficed to instruct Occidental theologians in the simple fact that the pagan sun-god figures were not historical persons, but were typal characters prefiguring Christly nobility of perfected humanity, and were in fact the very prototypes, pre-extant in literature, of the Jesus personage himself, it would seem as if the credentials of Christian publicists to sit in judgment on pagan representations could be stoutly challenged. So much abject failure and incompetence must go far to disqualify further right to pronounce judgment in this field.

Augustine said that Socrates, antedating Christianity by five hundred years and feeding his mind on the contemplation of the (to Bacon) mean attributes, the poor and empty moral and spiritual natures, of pagan gods, was as grand a Christian as any Churchly saint or martyr. And he said that the pagan brand of Christianity was as lofty and pure a type of it as the kind he knew. He himself received the Christian doctrine of the Trinity from Plotinus, who had fed his mind on the attributes of the pagan divinities and was steeped in Hellenistic rational religion and esotericism. It is because Bacon thinks that Attis and Asclepios were mere tribe-made conceptions of semi-crude humanism that he feels safe in rating them as less authentic and less pure models of divine character than Jesus. It is time that Christian critics who indulge in these gratuitous slurs upon non-Christian systems be told that if they would learn to penetrate through the outward veil of myth and allegory that shrouds these gods from vulgar scrutiny they would find to their astonishment and humiliation that the moral and spiritual grandeur of these typal figures takes no second place in comparison with the nobility of Jesus. How can the mind of one of them be superior to that of the others when they are all, in deepmost essentiality, one and the same? All the solar deities were the embodiments of the same divine majesty. To assert that one of them is superior to another is just to put on display one’s ignorance of comparative religion.

But lastly the desperate nature of Bacon’s argument is shown by the perilous resort to which he is driven to make a point for his thesis. To prove Greek inferiority he has had to reduce a number of the phrases which express Christian ideality at its loftiest to a low rating because Paul draws them from the discredited poor and empty Hellenistic mystical cult systems. In our turn we ask you to imagine, if you can, the glaring inferiority and baseness of the phrase "partaking of the nature of" the divinity, "the life in the spirit," "the life hid with Christ in God," and such others used by Paul. If these are inferior then Christianity at its highest is inferior, for these Greek pietistic expressions are and have been for centuries current coin to describe the most exalted reaches of the mind of man toward supernal heights in the Church of Christ. But in the twisted logic of a Christian apologist they are classed as base products of a despised Hellenistic pagan culture of the spirit. If Christian mental clarity and moral purity were of so uniquely superior a quality above all paganism, why for some twelve subsequent centuries did the schools of Christian theologians have to go back to two pagan thinkers, Plato and Aristotle, to discover the principles of truth and organic rational structure upon which they could base any dialectical systematization of Christian theology itself? The mind that was in Christ Jesus was apparently not substantial enough or not capably enough known to save Christianity the need of partaking of the mind that was in Plato and Aristotle! Many a claim of cloistered theologians is belied by the record of history.

Bacon quotes Dr. Morgan, who claims that the risen Christ of Paul represents a generalized picture of the historical Jesus. It seems apparent that this word "generalized" is here doing duty as an apology for failure to use the overt words "non-personal" or "non-historical." Dr. Morgan is saying that those features of Jesus which make him so real, and so human--he might have gone on to "so winsome"--pass out of sight in Paul’s treatment of the character. Paul’s Christ has not the inexhaustible richness or human lovableness of the reputed historical personage. Naturally it would be obvious that if Paul was philosophically, in the spirit of Greek rationalism, delineating the power, functions, grandeur and majesty of the Christly principle in the soul of man, changing man’s nature and winning his life to intelligent godliness, he would not be likely to touch the chords of such sympathies and emotions as are awakened by recital of personal human contacts, trials, pains and joys. This is to compare a keen dialectical analysis of a doctor of philosophy with the cooing smile of a babe in the cradle. You obviously can not have the one and the other in the same individual at the same time. Touching human emotion is out of place in a logical or intellectual tournament. And logic has little to do with the baby’s fetching charm. One wonders when it will dawn upon the orthodox mind that, to be sure, Paul’s Jesus lacks human quality for the very substantial reason that in Paul’s understanding he was not a human person at all. Only by elaborate metaphor would Paul’s description of a principle of mystic exaltation be clothed in terms of touching human appeal. This is the one substratum fact which explains and resolves all the puzzles and conundrums of the argumentative problem, yet it is the last one the apologists will look at.

And speaking of touching human qualities, it is a grave question whether the unthinkable amount of human sympathy, some of it pleasantly amiable and consolatory, but masses of it gruesome, maudlin and morbid, which the millions of votaries in Christianity expend every year over the babe in the stable at Christmas, and over the horrible scenes when the man of sorrows finally agonizes in physical torture on the Golgotha cross on Good Friday, is psychologically noble and edifying in any way, or whether it is not a futile, moronish and altogether misplaced and degrading wastage of precious psychic force. If Jesus was not personally in history, it is all sheer fatuity and nonsense, a colossal expenditure of costly human emotion over events that never happened. The amount of sentimental gush over the sweetly human side of Jesus, the picture of him saying "Suffer little children to come unto me" while holding one in his arms and two on his knees,--the total amount of hypothetical coddling of Jesus the man as a likeable person of sanctified presence, is enough to deserve the designation "mawkish." The efficacious leaven of the Christ spirit in any man will make him likeably human, of course. And the Jesus character, in this facet, is the type of this humaneness. But to affect surprise because Paul does not introduce a picture of winsome personableness in his dialectical exposition of the nature of Christlikeness is to miss utterly what Paul is dilating upon.

Then Dr. Morgan says that it was to this winsome, touching, appealing human figure of Jesus the man that the churches turned after the death of the Apostle and that the preservation of the Synoptic Gospels meant nothing less than the saving of Christianity. Long search would not have brought to light for the purposes of this work a statement from an argumentative opponent that so fully vindicates and corroborates the general context of this study. But Dr. Morgan sees in a different light and puts a different interpretation upon the great fact he announces. He presents the turn from the mystical Christ to the personal Jesus as a salutary manifestation, wholly beneficial to Christianity, and indeed its savior. The view of this work places an altogether different, a quite unfavorable, construction upon it. Paul had striven to limn and color in the most graphic language available--which evidently he judged to be the phraseology of the Mystery religions!--the Christ he knew, the power and grace of the Christ of the inner chamber of human consciousness. To do so he pictured the Christ of the Greek Mystery dramatization. While Pauline Christology, Gnostic esotericism and Mystery initiation doctrine held the Christian movement for two and a half centuries up to a high intellectual and philosophical level, it was Paul’s type of Christos that inspired this lofty achievement. Intelligence restrained the uprush of the ignorant masses’ literalized and carnalized conception of the Christ that was so soon to swamp all cultured spiritual ideology in the movement. But with the Apostle gone and the uncultured masses streaming into the Church, with the Gnostics ousted as heretics and the voices of intelligence repressed into silence, the sad and fatal turn of Christianity from the loftiness of spiritual realizations to the basest degradation perhaps known in all religious history marched on to consummation of its tragedy. How fatally right Dr. Morgan is, neither he nor his Church has ever known. To its own catastrophic desolation the Christian movement did surely enough turn from the higher and fuller conception of the Christ as the ever-coming world Messiah of a divine spirit transfiguring humanity, to the winsome-gruesome personal Jesus. This happened when its personnel had fallen to so low an intellectual ebb--amply testified to by leading writers of the time--that compromise had to be made with its incapacity to rise to a more spiritual conception of an Avatar, and the calamitous substitution of the euhemerized Christ that would have shocked Clement, Origen, Philo, Ammonias and Paul had to be pronounced blessed, if the thousands who could reach no higher were to be held in the fold. Only too true is it that when Paul was gone the Church took that fatal plunge into a vitiated and utterly false exotericism that perpetrated the unbelievable debacle resulting from the personalizing of a purely dramatic figure. This step was indeed the "salvation"--rather the initial establishment--of historical Christianity; that Christianity that reduced purely spiritual doctrines to as low a level of mental skullduggery as not even the naked sons of the forest and the sea isles had ever been guilty of doing; that Christianity which closed the academies of the most illumined wisdom the race has known, burned libraries with fiendish fury, pronounced its own most philosophical students heretics, perpetrated centuries of the most barbarous cruelty in religious persecution ever known in the world, and founded a civilization that at last has consummated its perversion of guiding wisdom by plunging all the world into the climactic holocaust of slaughter in human history. The turning of the Christian masses from the spiritual Christ to the man Jesus indeed "saved" Christianity, which is no more than to say that it perpetuated that kind of Christianity, certainly one that was both derationalized and despiritualized. It utterly wrecked the true Christianity of the ancient Sages, who have given to the world the priceless legacy of lofty truth and tested wisdom. Christian proponents will continue to read victory and blessedness into this saddest of all debacles in the cultural life of the world, for the legend of Christian superiority must be maintained at all costs.

The implications of this confusion in the thinking of Bacon and Dr. Morgan should not escape observation. Bacon has been quoted as saying it was Paul’s Greek Mystery systematism that saved Christianity; Dr. Morgan avers that salvation came through the preservation of the Synoptic Gospels with their personalized Master. As the Synoptics rest on a thesis that is in the main diametrically opposite to that of the Johannine and Pauline writings, we have here two eminent Christian exegetists arguing that Christianity was saved by two forces as nearly opposed to each other as could well be. These two views are seen to clash today; how bitterly they clashed in the earliest days of Christian history, and with what lamentable consequences the one prevailed over the other must be later included in our study.

Notice has already been taken of Bacon’s declaration that we have in Mark not a biography, not a history, but a selection of anecdotes, and those not for the purposes of history, but for spiritual edification. If Paul’s Jesus is not a man, and Mark not Jesus’s biographer, pretty nearly one third to one half of New Testament support of the historical Jesus is gone already! More of Bacon’s fine material must be scrutinized in this chapter, as it expresses with great aptness just those points in the case that badly need review. For the moment other data bearing on Paul’s silence must be presented.

There is Klausner, who remarks the significance of Paul’s giving testimony to the existence of Jesus (he evidently assumes that Paul is referring to Jesus as a person) and scans Jesus’ influence on Paul, but admits that Paul shows no interest in the events of the Savior’s career. He quotes a writer (name not given) who says:

"To Paul’s mind the center of interest was not the teacher, the worker of miracles, the companion of publicans and sinners, the opponent of the Pharisees; it was the crucified Son of God raised from the dead, and none other."

A phrase picked from many similar ones in Massey’s work reads: "the Jesus of Paul, who was not the carnalized Christ."

Drews briefly in one place refers to Paul, "who," he says, "knew no historical Jesus."

"Instead of preaching the Jesus of the historicalized Gospels, Paul preaches the doctrine of the mystic Christ," writes Mead.

Grethenbach (Secular View of the Gospels, p. 243) remarks on the tell-tale fact that in its very earliest stage of propagation the legend of the miracles performed by Jesus is absent from the writings which came from or are accredited to those who were closest to him, and are found only in later accounts by Gospel authors whose names are wholly suppositious.

"As for Paul it might appear from his own ardent avowal that had he ever heard of these prodigies done for Jesus and by him, he (Paul) would not have hesitated to use them for the great glory of God (Romans 3:7-8); and his silence about them comes with the force of absolute denial."

In Paul’s own account of his conversion he writes in this remarkable fashion:

"Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood; neither went I up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me; but I went away into Arabia."

"Flesh and blood" is a strange expression by which Paul indicates that he did not confer with the Christian folks at Jerusalem or elsewhere. It indeed sounds very much like a garbled mistranslation of a Mystery or ritual phrase referring to the soul’s no longer having consort with the flesh of incarnation after its conversion from carnal appetencies. And if Jerusalem is taken in its Mystery signification of the city of heavenly peace, the whole passage can not illegitimately be regarded as an epitome of the soul’s transformation, its choice of a middle path, going neither to flesh and blood, nor retreating to heavenly Nirvana, but going away into the intermediate region between Egypt, signifying the flesh, and Jerusalem, the spirit, or into Arabia. It should be remembered, if scholastics begin to snicker at such a suggested rendition, that Mount Sinai, the middle point of meeting between man and God, is placed by Paul himself in Arabia, as seen in the fourth chapter of Galatians. If this reconstruction of the lost original esoteric meaning is correct--and it is more likely than many will think, for ancient method handled allegorism in just such fashion--it is good case and example of how the historicizers of the spiritual myth turned allegory into history. By turning it back again one can begin to see what the original formulation may have been.

Again Paul almost categorically denies that he is preaching a Gospel of a living Jesus when he says:

"I made known to you, brethren, as touching the Gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man (or from a man), nor was I taught it, save through revelation of the Christ revealed within."

Massey comments that in short, Paul’s "Christ was not at all that Jesus of Nazareth whom he never mentions, and whom the others preached, and who may have been, and in all likelihood was, Jehoshua ben Pandira, the Nazarene."

As to the Christ in the Epistle to the Hebrews, a document claimed to have been written by Paul, Massey says:

"Now in this Epistle the Christ is non-historical, he is the Kronian Christ, the Aeonian manifestor, of mythical, that is, astronomical prophecy; he is after the order of Melchizedek, who was ‘without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.’"

It would seem that we have in this characterization of Melchizedek, after whose "order" the Christ was, enough to convince any but mystically derationalized "believers" that there could be nothing humanly personal and individual about Melchizedek, and inferentially about the Christ, as of his kind and nature. There are those who think and assert that Melchizedek was a man. He could no more be a man than righteousness could be a man, or liberty or virtue be a lady. By name he is the "King of Righteousness," as in Hebrew melchi is "king" and zedek is "righteousness." "He" is that "spirit of truth" which, when it has fully swept into all hearts and minds, will lead us all into truth and establish the kingdom of righteousness upon earth. The description of him as without father and mother and genealogy, certainly does not refer to human father and mother and ancestry. It means that "he" is "born" or generated from that highest form and level of spiritual being which is yet undifferentiated into spirit (father) and matter (mother), and is called in the arcane nomenclature "parentless." In the highest worlds there is neither marriage nor sex to induce it. Out of this pure essence comes the unit of soul and consciousness that is to descend into matter, marry it and through union with it generate the cosmos. This is why it can be further described as being "before the worlds," "before the foundation of the earth," "before Abraham," "in the bosom of the Father," "in the womb of creation." "A" (Greek alpha privative) means "not." Brahm is the Eternal and Absolute. A-Brahm (Abraham) is therefore "not the Absolute," but of course the first emanation from the Absolute, the first form of manifestation that is not the Absolute and Infinite, but the manifestation of the relative--and to us the real. Melchizedek, the power of the spirit of rightness and the great aeonial Messiah, ever-coming from the beginning of man, that could by no possibility "come" at any one moment, since it must come to all men as they slowly grow in grace, or in any one personality, since it must dwell in all alike, is that genius to which all Christified men will give body and instrumentality as humanity is redeemed and glorified.

It is in the sense and reference just elucidated that Paul therefore admonishes Titus and Timothy to give no heed to "fables and endless genealogies," and to "shun foolish questionings and genealogies." Of course Paul would warn them away from "genealogies," since it was not likely that one in a thousand of the laity would grasp the impersonal significance of the word, and since Paul knew that the popularization of what would be misconceived as lineal ancestry instead of spiritual descent would certainly lead to the disastrous outcome of the personalizing of the Christos. Paul’s warning was against an aspect of esotericism that he saw clearly enough would act as a trap. He was merely guarding the esoteric purity of the loftier conception, and advising Titus and Timothy to do the same. As Paul was (Bacon and others admitting it) fully steeped in Mystery cultism, he was simply acting as any Mason would do today, cautioning his confreres against using the secret vocabulary indiscreetly. It is notable that genealogies are absent from John, the one Gospel that preached the Christos as the ray of the cosmic Logos, and not the man. This is quite consonant with what would be expected. Presenting Christ as non-human and impersonal, it would omit the externally hazardous "genealogies." Marcus the Gnostic eliminated the genealogies from Luke! The Docetae, a sect preaching the purely spiritual Christ, "cut away the genealogies in the Gospel after Matthew." (Epiphanius.) Tatian also struck them out. He had first accepted them, but when he learned better, rejected the gospel of the Christ made flesh. "Barnabas, who denied the human nature of Christ, assures us that it was according to the error of the wicked that Christ was called the Son of David"--in the literal exoteric sense, doubtless. Paul also tells us that no "man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit" (I Cor. 12:3). Marcion does not connect Jesus with Nazareth. Paul’s Christ is nowhere called Jesus of Nazareth, nor is he born at Bethlehem,--the town, but in Bethlehem, the "house of bread," the sign of Pisces, in the astrological symbolism.

There is a ludicrous mixture--as was to be expected and inevitable--of the historical Jesus and the spiritual Christ in the first Epistle of Paul to Timothy, where Jesus Christ is spoken of as he "who, before Pontius Pilate, witnessed the good confession"; and half a dozen lines later, Paul’s Jesus is the "Lord of Lords dwelling in the light unapproachable, whom no man hath seen nor can see." Massey comments that this is the Christ of the Gnosis who could not be made flesh to stand in the presence of Pontius Pilate. Let the reader note, from the analysis of the name "Pontius Pilate" made earlier in the work, how difficulty such as this vanishes the moment the esoteric non-historical rendition is adopted in place of the historical. Slight and inconsequential as this matter may seem in an instance of the kind, it is the key to the redemption of the Christian religion from its theological irrationality. It may be indeed the key to the salvation of all religion, now threatened as never before with total obscuration.

It is time to meet and answer a typical orthodox retort to the implications of Paul’s silence about Jesus. We find such a rebuttal in Shirley Jackson Case’s The Historicity of Jesus. This is a representative work, written by an outstanding modern theologian, of the University of Chicago Divinity School. Case speaks first of Paul’s having acquaintance with relatives and friends of this Jesus. A little later he discusses the claims of scholars and Paul’s own (apparent) statement that he had "seen Jesus our Lord" (I Cor. 9:1). He cites Paul’s incidental remark to the Corinthians that "we have known Jesus after the flesh" as proof that he had actually seen the earthly Jesus. Then he affirms that Paul had come into intimate contact with individuals of note, and a host of others unknown to us by name, who had contacted Jesus. There is of course no evidence anywhere for the claim that Paul had met many persons who had seen or heard Jesus. It is just the assumption--and no more--that if Jesus lived and did what the Gospels report, Paul, living immediately after the events, must naturally have heard, known or contacted the historical aftermath of occurrences that had made such a stir in Palestine at the time. This gratuitous presupposition Case uses as the warrant for his further presumptive statement that this knowledge and first-hand acquaintance would have made it impossible for Paul to mistake a primitive doctrine about an anthropomorphized god for belief in the actual existence of a historical individual. We have to admit, is Case’s argument, that Paul stood too close to the age which professed to know Jesus to be successfully hoodwinked on the historical question. If Jesus never lived, it is not at all probable that even the most enterprising propagandists could have succeeded in persuading Paul of the reality of this mythical person in the generation to which Paul himself belonged. Paul everywhere takes for granted the existence of Jesus, whose memory was fresh in men’s minds; and also a good part of his attention is given to resisting opponents who claim superiority over him because they have been, or have received their commission from men who have been, personal companions of Jesus--a fact, says Case, which Paul never denies, though he disputes the legitimacy of the inference regarding superiority which they deduce from the fact.

It is certainly permissible to state that Case’s conclusions from the premises in this facet of the argument are not dialectically supportable. We have ourselves mentioned Paul’s statement that he spent a fortnight with Peter. Even without that it would be reasonable to think that he may have known and associated with others who had been close to Jesus--assuming that he lived. For argument’s sake, we may concede the major premise of Case’s reasoning: that Paul could have known many who had met Jesus. But the deductions Case draws from the premises seem wholly unwarrantable. Paul need not mention Jesus because everybody already knew of his existence, is the tacit claim. Such knowledge was a commonplace and there was no occasion to refer to it. Because Jesus was a definite historical character, his life and personal doings need never be spoken of. Paul could dilate at great length upon the fundamentals of the religion Jesus assumedly founded and had no need to speak of the founder! Jesus was the inspiration of the greatest religion on earth, a man whose life was so epochal that history was redated from his birth, a man whose preachment of the first divine wisdom vouchsafed to men was to free the human race from the bondage of sin and evil, a man whose mission was so mighty that stars beckoned and angels choired, and heavenly halleluiahs mingled with earthly songs to celebrate the descent of deity to the planet,--and when Paul descants with holy enthusiasm upon the marvels of this world-changing message, he found no occasion to speak of the man who was the genius of it all! For Paul to write fifteen Epistles, basic treatises on the religion that this man founded, and find no reason to refer even once to anything he said or did, would be on the order of one’s writing a thorough treatise on the American Revolution and never once mentioning George Washington,--forsooth because everybody knows that Washington had something to do with it! This is the sort of reasoning that Case is treating us to. Of course everybody knows that Jesus, like Washington, was there; so there was no need to mention him. The fact that Paul wrote profound discourses on the religion established by Jesus and does not mention him, proves that Jesus lived! This is a new way for a historian to put a man in history--to remain silent about him. Herodotus or Gibbon or Macaulay does not mention Proxon; therefore Proxon must have lived. The best way to promulgate the religion Jesus founded is not to mention the founder! But, says Bacon, Paul’s writings do not even dissertate on the teachings of Jesus primarily. Therefore, on Case’s line of reasoning, it must have been in Paul’s mind that the best way to advance the new Jesus-inspired faith was to write letters on it that leave out both the founder and his teachings! Scholars admit that it was Mystery cult teaching that Paul expatiates upon, and not specifically "Christian" cultism at all, in the ecclesiastical sense. All this, Case would argue, proves the existence of Jesus. All this is logical ribaldry, but it becomes tragic when it is realized that the whole of post-third-century Christianity rests upon the silly foundation of that sort of "logic."

From the standpoint of human sentiment alone, it surely would seem as if such high motivations as gratitude, reverence, honor, and the like, by which it can be assumed with perfect logic that Paul would have been actuated toward the man who was the author and finisher of his ecstatic faith, would have prompted him to express at least an occasional outburst of praise and thanksgiving toward the man himself, instead of confining all his tribute of high feeling toward the purely abstract principle of Christhood. But again the apologists may allege that Paul’s reverence for the man was so supreme that it awed him into silence. It is in congruity with every high human presumption in the case to assume that had Paul known of a surety about Jesus’ existence, no amount of pressure of any kind could have deterred this impetuous apostle from pouring out his lavish meed of adoration upon the life that had transfigured his own being. He would have been ashamed not to do so. If Paul knew Jesus had been there, how do we account for this unchristian churlishness and repression of such a man’s natural gratitude?

Every implication of the situation would argue that if Jesus lived and Paul had known Peter and others closely allied to Jesus, nothing could have prevented him from extolling the wise words and miraculous achievements of his idol to the highest point his pen could exalt them. That is the only reasonable presumption permissible in the case; to keep silent would be the extraordinary, the bizarre and illogical thing. There is no dodging the fatally damaging involvements of Paul’s silence about Jesus. Even if Case’s contention were true, that Paul keeps silent because he and the people he was writing to took Jesus’ life for granted, that still would not explain Paul’s characterization of the Jesus he does speak about as a spiritual principle, and not a personality. If Paul knew of Jesus’ existence so well that he need not prove it by any reference to it at all, there would be all the more and not less reason for his describing him as a man. Why would Paul descant only upon the impersonal Christos, if he knew all the while that the personal Christ had just been present in his own land! Why write of him only as a psychological entity, when Paul knew him as a man?

Thus it is glaringly preposterous for Case (and others) to construe Paul’s silence as evidence for the historicity, or to excuse Paul’s failure to mention the Galilean on unwarranted deductions from premises that are themselves only daring conjectures. But there is one other premise that Case posits that proves to be quite untrue. He asserts that Paul stood close to the age that professed to know Jesus. It is true that Paul stood close to the age in question, but it is not true that this age "professed to know Jesus." Data already adduced have established the strange fact that the age of Paul was as silent as was Paul himself about Jesus the man. It was a later age that proclaimed the historical Jesus, later by at least three or four generations. Over a century had to elapse before the legend of the human babe and miracle-worker found voice. Paul and his and Jesus’ own age were alike silent. Philo and Josephus were close at hand in the same age, and writing volubly of just such things as were vitally concerned with what Jesus represented, and they are silent, save for the tiny squeak of some daring interpolator in Josephus’ book.

As to the argument that no one could have persuaded Paul about the reality of this mythical person Jesus, it again is the weirdest pass at logic, for no intelligent person ever needs to be "persuaded" about the reality of a mythical figure. No person conversant with the Mystery teachings, as was Paul, could fail to know the difference between a mythical hero and a living mortal. Millions of the intelligentsia of many ages of ancient times were acquainted with the mythical personages without once falling into the stupid error of taking them for living persons, as the Christians did, or charged the pagans with doing. The Christians of Paul’s type most certainly did not. Case’s point is just another instance of the groundless fatuity that features the debate on that side, based on abject failure to apprehend the genius of ancient allegorism.

It is worth the time to examine several bits of Paul’s writing that point with great decisiveness to the apostle’s spiritual Christ conception. In I Cor. 7:29 he speaks of "waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ." What is the point of their waiting any longer for a revelation that every Christian preacher and writer shouts to the world had come with the historical appearance of Jesus of Nazareth? What an anomalous situation--the long-expected Avatar of the ages had at last come in the person of this Jesus! He was here, he had wrought his marvels, proclaimed his message, the odor of his sacred presence was still in the air, when Paul wrote! Yet Paul says they are still waiting for the revelation, the Epiphany, the showing forth in Israel! He had come, and apparently his own had not recognized him. What a miscarriage, what blindness, for Paul and his age to miss him, and to keep pathetically looking ahead in expectation when he had been just now behind them, at their very elbow!

Again in I Cor. 7:4-5 ff. Paul writes of "judging nothing before the time, until the Lord come." A row of exclamation points would hardly mark the significance of this verse. Case himself cites Paul’s writing to the Philippians his confidence that God, who had begun a good work in them "will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ." Further he counts on them to remain "void of offence unto the day of Christ," and encourages them to stand fast. How could the apostle write such things pointing to the future for fulfillment if he knew that the Messiah had just been among them?

Massey points out that according to James (5:7, 8) the coming or presence of the Lord was still being awaited. He pleads: "Be ye patient" until "the coming of the Lord," for "the coming of the Lord is at hand"--when it had just taken place! From Peter (3:10) Massey quotes:

"The day of the Lord will come like a thief, when the heavens will vanish with crackling roar, the stars will be set ablaze and melt, the earth and its works will disappear."

The Lord had come, and in spite of an earthquake and a darkened sun and other convulsions of nature, the good old earth had kept on in its course. It is important to note in passing that secular history records none of these supremely extraordinary natural phenomena, which we must assume would have been the case had they occurred. It is quite worth noting what Gibbon has to say on this score in his great history of the Roman Empire:

"But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan philosophical world to these evidences which were presented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ and his apostles and of their disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the Church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and pursuing their ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world. Under the reign of Tiberius the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects or received the earliest intelligence of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers in a laborious work has recorded all the great phenomena of Nature, earthquakes, meteors, comets and eclipses which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe." Etc. (D. and F., p. 443.)

Again Paul’s characterization of Jesus as "the first-born," "the first-born of all creation," "the first-born from the dead," "the first-born among many brethren," would not fit a personal Galilean. "Now hath Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept." But, Massey asks, in what sense? It is impossible, he avers, to apply such descriptions to any historical person. No historical Jesus could be the first-born from the dead. In the gross exoteric sense this would mean that no man in all preceding centuries had risen out of his physical grave in a body of any kind, physical or spiritual. In a somewhat more exalted esoteric sense it would mean that Jesus was the first in all the history of humanity ever to rise as a spiritually glorified being from his body of clay in his final transfiguration into immortality. It would mean that no one before Jesus had ever accomplished the resurrection of his spiritual body out of the earthly body of this death, which is the true meaning of the resurrection. But in any of the possible eventualities that fulfilled resurrection doctrine, taken historically, it is unthinkable and presupposes vast injustice on the part of God to the millions antedating 33 A.D., that no mortal had ever achieved spiritual victory up to that time. One has to go over to the deeper esoteric sense to catch the rational significance of the statement that Jesus was the first fruits of them that slept. For obviously the Christ-type of consciousness is the first power of divine rank that is awakened to full and immortal function out of the deep sleep of age-long incubation in matter into which the living energies of spirit are plunged at the beginning of each cycle. The Christ-mind is the first perfected fruitage on the tree of life and nature. This is precisely what is embodied in many cryptic constructions in sacred lore, representing the tree in Adam’s garden as bearing the Christ as its topmost and richest fruit. The golden bough on the tree or the bright star on the highest tip of the Christmas pine carries the meaning still. After long ages of gestation in her womb, Mother Nature in her old age (Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth!) brings forth the Christ consciousness, as the first divine fruitage of the natural order. With this knowledge and conception sane comprehension can at last replace prevalent logical dementia.

Paul also speaks of "building up the body of Christ, until we all attain unto the unity of Faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man; unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." How could each of us build up the body of Christ, if he be a physical man? If we take such a saying of Paul as that he "knew a man in Christ," we at once run into ludicrous impertinence if we think of Christ as a man. What it would be to be "in" a Christ who is physical, would be difficult to say. Does the orthodox protagonist pronounce this a silly and preposterous argument? But he could call it silly only on the presupposition that of course the phrase means to be "in" Christ in the purely spiritual sense of being in the vibration of the same mind and soul that Christ manifested. But that is to admit nearly all that this work stands for: that the Christ is a spiritual nature in us, and not a man in history. Orthodox strategy falls back on the definition of Christ as spiritual principle whenever the argument would take a disadvantageous turn on the personal rendering, but jumps back to the latter when it seems safe to do so. But the Christ is either one or the other. The one excludes the other and the vacillation back and forth between the two prevents the fixing of one clear and determinate meaning to the term. It is beyond question that the word "Christ" means the flower of divine consciousness in man and nothing else whatever. All ancient sacred books presented a type of this beauteous development in man’s organism at the summit of his growth, and--ignorance later mistook the figure for a man. This is the whole--tragic--story.

That the life, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the Son of God were distinctly not behind Paul, but still to come as a consummation for all humanity is indubitably indicated by Paul himself in II Timothy (2:16-18) where he says:

"But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker; of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.""

What testimony from the scriptures themselves could be more cogent than this? Paul is warning his Christian brethren to quit the silly talk about the resurrection being accomplished once and for all for humanity, through the exoterically misapprehended physical resurrection of the man-Christ. It was as if Paul cautioned them to be on their guard against countenancing and enhancing the disastrous vogue of the exoteric exploitation and garbling of deeply esoteric material. There is every reason to think that this is the true picture of the import behind Paul’s words here, a picture which we owe chiefly to Massey’s clear vision.

Then we come to the matter of Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus, which is the chief reliance of the flesh-worshipping party in the debate. This incident is supposed to clinch the verdict for the historicity. What doubt can there be when Paul saw Jesus in his vision, and the appearance of the Master to him was so overwhelmingly genuine that it led to Paul’s conversion? How can Jesus’ existence be doubted when he actually appeared to Paul (and others)?

But the matter is not so simple. It involves much that needs understanding. Was the apparition to Paul the wraith of the dead Jesus or the spirit-body of Jesus still living? Massey cites data of much cogency to intimate that the vision came to Paul while Jesus was still living, if facts of Gospel "history" be considered. He shows by data from the Acts that Paul’s conversion, supposed to have occurred after the year 30 A.D. at the earliest, must have occurred as early as 27 A.D. He reasons as follows: Paul stated that after his conversion he did not go up to Jerusalem for three years. Then after fourteen years more he went again up to Jerusalem with Barnabas. This second visit can be dated by means of the famine, which is historic, and known to have occurred in the year 44, at which time relief was conveyed to the brethren in Judea by Barnabas and Paul. If we take seventeen years from the 44, the different statements go to show that Paul had been converted as early as 27 A.D. The conversion then could not have been by a spiritual manifestation of the supposed personal Jesus, who was not then dead, and further had not at that time been regarded as, or converted into, a living person of the later canonical Gospels.

But that point can be let go, as a bit indecisive. Modern Spiritualists and Theosophists can supply plentiful data as well as a full-fledged rationale of spiritual science to make it possible for Jesus, living in 27, or dead in 33, to "appear" to Paul in vision. Whether spirit or wraith, little is the difference. But a far more vital point is one which, of course, the pro-flesh debaters have never commented upon. Quite--and refreshingly--unlike medieval and modern visionaries who see the radiant figure of "Jesus" in their inner world, Paul distinctly does not make the unconscionable mistake of the latter by asserting the identity of the figure or personage of his vision with an allegedly former living character whom he had never seen. We have covered this point in the first chapters. He simply designates the figure appearing to him as the Lord Jesus Christ, which can be seen to stand here for a generic name of such a type of radiant manifestation, apart from any necessary connection with any former or present living personality. Ancient Egyptian necrological science predicated that the gods and the elect of perfected humanity could appear to men in whatsoever garments of solid or etheric matter they chose. They could appear in many different forms, clothed in flesh or clothed in light. Paul, with his Mystery cult associations, must have been familiar with these possibilities in a commonplace way. It was enough for him to know that he had experienced a spiritual vision, that an apparition of a celestial-appearing figure, an angel of light, had flashed across his inner eye. He did not presume to tie the vision back to any earthly personage, particularly to an individual he had never seen. He only says that the radiant light of the Christos enfolded and blinded him.

Strange as this may sound to theological ears, there is much solid reason to suspect that the whole episode of Paul’s great vision was the rescript almost verbatim of a portion of Mystery dramatism. For Paul says that the stunning, blinding radiance of Christly glory threw him with his face to the ground, after which a voice out of the light spoke to him and said, "Stand on your feet, Paul." This hardly seems like personal history; for in the Mystery philosophy the descent of the divine soul into incarnation in the early human beginning stage sent it into the bodies of animals who yet walked on all fours, with face to the ground. And as the Christ consciousness gradually asserted its rulership, the humanized animal forms slowly rose to their feet, upright! For the god-soul to incarnate at the beginning of the cycle was for it to fall to earth with its face to the ground, and then the divine voice within spoke and bade it stand up on its feet as the upright human-divine! It is not hard to presume that an age saturated with the effort to dramatize mythical typology would have introduced into the Mystery ceremonial just such a typical representation of the soul’s descent into lowly animal body and its resurrection to the upright human status.

Furthermore the transformation was accompanied by a change of name--Saul to Paul, as Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel. "A new name shall be given unto" the Christified human, carved on a white stone, says Revelation. The whole recital may not unwarrantably be construed as a bit of the initiatory ritualism of the Mystery societies, which was itself just a dramatic typing of the transformation of man, starting with his face to earth in brute body, and rising from his animal nature to spiritual stature, when he received his new baptism. In all probability it stood at first as pure typism in Paul’s writings, and may have been made over into an alleged personal experience of his by the hands and fancies of those redactors who transmogrified sublime mythicism into startling history.

In Myth, Magic and Morals (pp. 6-9 ff.) F. W. Conybeare says that Paul’s Christ is an a priori construction of his own, owing little or nothing to the historical man of Nazareth, and to those who knew that man and cherished his memory. The most that Paul owed to him was the name Jesus. Paul’s Jesus is an ideal superhuman Savior, destined from the beginning of the world to play an ecumenic role. Paul, he says, shows no acquaintance with the Sermon on the Mount or with the parables.

Paul could not remember in another instance of mystic vision of his (I Cor. 12:1 ff.) whether certain experiences occurred to him "in the body or out of it, I know not; God knoweth,"--twice repeated. This can serve as the legitimate foundation for the suggestion that Paul’s ecstatic vision may have been one of those super-conscious experiences which many people have had, so detached from objective reality that they can by no possibility be related to actual events in the world at all.