‘Paul was a native of Tarsus in Asia Minor, which by his time had surpassed even Athens and Alexandria to become the major centre of Pagan philosophy. It was in Tarsus that the Mysteries of Mithras had originated, so it is unthinkable that Paul would have been unaware of the remarkable similarities…between Christian doctrines and the teachings of Mithras. Paul frequently uses terms and phrases from the Pagan Mysteries, such as pneuma (spirit), gnosis (divine knowledge), doxa (glory), sophia (wisdom), teleioi (the initiated), and so on. He advises his followers to “earnestly seek the greater charismata”. The word “charisma” derives from the Mystery term makarismos, referring to the blessed nature of one who has seen the Mysteries. He even calls himself a “Steward of the Mysteries of God” which is the technical name for a priest in the Mysteries of Serapis.’
Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy: The Jesus Mysteries – Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God?, Thorsons, (2000), Pages 199
Arthur’s Note: It is unusual that I elaborate on one of my ‘response’ emails, but I feel that this subject is worthy of clarification. Although I study the history and content of theistic religions, I do so as an objective academic, as I am not personally invested in any literal acceptance or belief of any of these theological theories. On the other hand, although I am aware of the bigotry, ignorance and sheer (destructive) brutality of various (distorted) forms of religion, I am not ‘anti-religion’ per se, as I recognise that there are good people who follow quietly their chosen paths, and that these ‘paths’ are themselves often peaceful, loving and wise. However, it is also true that ‘politicised’ religions, that is to say ‘religions’ that have, at a point in their history, transitioned as developmental (voluntary) clubs for predominately poor (and illiterate) people, to the status of State religions with unlimited power, have often set about ‘altering’ their histories so as to reflect their new empowered status (creating the false impression that such ’empowerment’ was ‘pre-ordained’, rather than the product of random events and changing conditions, etc). Christianity is no exception to this rule. According to researchers such as Elaine Pagels (and others), the original Christian Church was composed of an ‘outer’ (literalist) school and an ‘inner’ (gnostic) school. Children and beginners would start their education in the ‘outer’ school, learn all the stories, myths and assumed history, before ‘transitioning’ into the ‘inner’ school (at a later date), with a view to meditating upon and contemplating the perceptual ‘essence’ of a theistic god, under the guidance of a qualified master. This was the ‘unified’ Christian Church with the ‘outer’ (literalist) school being viewed as inferior to the superior (gnostic) ‘inner’ school. However, under Emperor Constantine (c. 4th century CE), the members of the ‘outer’ acquired political power and deliberately set about (ironically) ‘divorcing’ their ‘literalist’ school from its underpinnings of ‘gnostic’ theology. This ‘re-writing’ of history saw the ‘gnostic’ school ‘rejected’ and its teachers misrepresented and vilified, whilst its superior meditative insight was disparaged as being ‘unchristian’ and ‘evil’. Although the ‘literalist’ Church Authorities could get away with altering history at a time when very people could read and write, or had direct access to genuine Christian texts, objective scholarship today, can see clearly every deception and sleight of hand! The early ‘literalist’ Christian Church engaged in a ‘propaganda’ offensive designed to ‘destroy’ the authority-structures that preserved the superior ‘gnostic’ school, and replace developmental gnostic ‘wisdom’ with a dogmatic and ‘irrational’ faith! This elevated the ‘unqualified’ and the ‘dim-witted’ above those who had spent decades meditating in caves and peacefully contemplating the sayings of Jesus! The ‘literalists’, however, were not that clever, and today the evidence that St Paul was a gnostic practitioner (and healer) operating from within the ‘inner’ Church is clear for all to see. The ‘literalists’ took the image of Paul and simply ‘transitioned’ him into a ‘literalist’ by concocting at least six Pastoral letters attributed to him (this happened around c. 190 CE), and in so doing, re-invented a diminished and bigoted Paul who espoused ‘literalist’ propaganda from his mouth! ACW (10.8.2020)
Of the thirteen letters attributed to St Paul, seven are considered authentic, and six to be later embellishments (dating from Irenaeus c. 190 CE). These are the six Pastorals to Timothy and Titus. It is only in these six letters that Paul is anti-Gnostic (indeed, Marcion the Gnostic sage says Paul is the only true apostle). The Gnostics count Paul as one of their greatest practitioners and it is curious that the seven Cities Paul wrote his seven authentic letters to around 50 CE – were all known to have developed into well-known centres of Gnostic practice certainly by the 2nd century CE! In Syria a common belief was that Paul travelled with a woman named Thecla who used to baptise all and sundry. This follows the Gnostic tradition of men and women being equal. However, in 1 Timothy 2 v 8-15 Paul is made to deny that women are equal to men, and that women cannot teach. This fake (misogynistic) letter reads in-part:
‘8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.’
But this is only in one of the later (fake) letters! In a similar light, what do you think of Clement – Bishop of Rome – referring to Paul as a heretic (first part of 2nd century CE), and St Peter stating that Paul isn’t an Apostle because he wasn’t with Jesus during his lifetime and didn’t witness the Resurrection? Peter describes Paul’s vision on the raid to Damascus as ‘demonic’.
In answer to your question as to ‘why’ you think this bothers me – this is my answer. I have to work through a different mechanism than simply ‘professing a literal faith’ I do not possess, or am likely to possess. I am accessing two or three books on theology simultaneously (in different formats), making notes and comments as I go. The facts I have relayed to you are there for all to access if the right sources are sought. I assumed you already knew these things, and that I was treading old ground for you, but obviously this is an error on my part. I need to ‘know’ and this is my path of discovery. Anyway, I will not do all the research for you as it sets a bad example (through a lack of respect for the subject and one another), and proves nothing at the end of the day. I am debating with a number of academics, fighting one or two good causes, and keeping-up my normal academic output (which rarely interrupts our dialogue). Disengagement is as important as ‘engagement’ with neither possessing anymore worth than the other. Words are powerful and can ‘free’ and ‘imprison’ with equal force. I have no thesis ‘to nail to the door’ as the ongoing process of assessing and understanding reality does not allow for an ‘either – or’ dichotomy.
Even if I nailed a thesis to the door, you would complain a) about the door, b) about the nails, and c) about the thesis! The oddity here, is that your anti-Protestant ‘sniping’ is misplaced. My Catholic priest friends learn much of what I convey to you at Seminary – but in the past I did not reveal my sources. Furthermore, I also communicate with purely academic scholars of religion who minutely ‘reference’ every observation of irrationality and ahistorical nonsense that religionists swear by. Literalists know nothing about the Earlier Paul and his extensive associations with Gnosticism, or the change in the Church’s perception of him which began around 190 CE – the same time the six Pastoral Letters that have Paul criticising Gnosticism were a) forged, and b) falsely interpreted as ‘real’ and included in the developing Bible. Nothing bothers me particularly about this, it is just interesting facts to know. An objective examination of history shows how an artificially empowered Church in Rome deliberately ‘altered’ its theology to better represent its new ‘worldly’ status. Those who ‘literally’ believe in this reformed propaganda do not like the ‘pre-history’ of the Church to be known. Perhaps they find it embarrassing.
Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy: The Jesus Mysteries – Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God?, Thorsons, (2000), Pages 195-215 – Chapter 8 – Was Paul a Gnostic?