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A reader asked us for a look at a site owned by one Joseph Macchio titled Orthodox Suppression of Original Christianity.
Bad stuff? That doesn't say it well enough.
- This is a man who thinks Kersey Graves is a reliable source; need I say more? I don't. But I will.
- This is a man who takes late, Gnostic/heretical documents at their word, and rejects the canonical works, with absolutely no concern for what actual textual and manuscript evidence indicates about them (he doesn't even TRY to argue for early dates for documents he favors; he just argues for conspiracy and cover-up, and that is all he thinks he needs.
- This is a man who says that "original Christianity" was a Gnostic religion that taught inner Christ-consciousness. Never mind that this would never have swayed in first-century Jewish Palestine, while what he calls "orthodox" meshes extremely well with that setting (is that a coincidence?).
- This is a man who buys the "Jesus went to India when he was 13" thesis, relying on sources scholars dismiss as useful (Notovich, Muslim texts, etc).
- This is a man who thinks that the doctrine of the resurrection of the body was invented by Irenaeus late in the second century. He seems to not know that the Jews believed in this in Palestine of the first century...once again, rather inconveniently meshing much better with, er, the orthodox view.
- Yes, this is a man who thinks "Jesus is God" was invented at the Council of Nicea (wrong, of course)
- This is a man who says things like: The leaders of "orthodox Christianity" soon became mind-controllers and mind- reformers and, convinced that they represented the original and pure stream of Christianity, eventually developed through voluminous writings and church councils a pseudo-theology which was passed off as authentic.
Of course, once again, all of this is on shaky epistemic ground (relying on demonstrably late documents, etc. -- we'll fact-check a few pieces here and there as we proceed, as usual).
- This is a man who believes that Jesus was executed by "the powers of Church and State" (!) because he taught this Christ-consciousness doctrine. This doctrine by the way is found in the NT for those who "possessed the keys to the interpretation of these writings" -- which apparently are not they keys used by credentialed NT scholars, of whom, Macchio cites none.
Now how about some of those documents Macchio relies on? He says we "possess no autographs of the four gospels." The same goes for all ancient documents, but no one has turned Tacitus into a mystic on that basis yet; and though he notes that the "oldest, complete copy of the New Testament goes back to the fourth century" he fails to note that this is far better than for any other ancient document, in terms of gaps between original and earliest copy.
After the usual arguments about editing and interpolation that he of course has no textual-critical evidence for, we get his list of documents, and he admits that they are all lost or partly lost. Now of course it is not explained how, if they are lost, we know that they contained what must have been "original" Christianity. For all we know, "The Gospel of Perfection" could have said that Jesus sold real estate.
But in the end Macchio relies most heavily on the fraud perpetrated by Notovich (for an expose' on that issue, see here; not surprisingly, Macchio believes at face value Notovich's claim that the Catholic church has multiple copies of this work, or works with references to it).
- This is a man who follows the usual "NT teaches reincarnation" credo
- This is a man who thinks "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit dwelleth in you?" supports the idea of "Christ consciousness". Of course, we do have the context of NT pneumatology to tell us this is nothing of the sort, and it'd be worth explaining except that no doubt the NT has been "edited" as convenient. He also uses Ps. 82 the same way the Mormons do (see Ch. 7 of The Mormon Defenders for that one).
- This is a man who accepts an early date for Notovich's gospel find, based on nothing more than that what the alleged Tibetian lama said about when it was written and their alleged reports of "traders" from Tibet who also witnessed the crucifixion. It must be nice to not have to actually have a manuscript to subject to paleographic scrutiny.
- This is a man who relies on very late documents like the Apocryphon of James for the idea that Jesus spent a lot of time on earth after he rose from the dead. He also misuses the Irenaeus "50" quote and cites fringe authors who believe Jesus survived the crucifixion. (On that, see here.)
- And as noted, this is a man who takes Kersey Graves as reliable (even the Secular Web knows better than this); you can satisfy yourself as to his lack of authority with the subject matter here.
- This is a man who prefers "theosophical writer A. Besant" as a source, as opposed to classical scholars, for verification of a "crucifixion mystery ritual". Conveniently, that certain beliefs are not found in critical places like Judaism is explained away by saying that there were adherents to undocumented "esotreric" variations.
- This is a man who reads 2 Cor. 12:2-5 in terms of an "etheric body" even though no such doctrine in found anywhere in first century Jewish anthropology. That same anthropology tells is that words like Paul's "I am crucified with Christ" are not Paul speaking of having stigmata (!) or any "mystery" scenario, but of his identification with his social ingroup led by Jesus.
- This is a man who says that the "lost tribes" of Israel settled in India. (See here -- they were never lost.)
Do I really need to say more? No -- simply ignore Macchio's material. It is far, far outside the bounds of responsible research.