|Gerald Massey's Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ: A Critique|
Having taken a look at some works of Alvin Boyd Kuhn, a main source for Tom Harpur's Pagan Christ, we move to his second-favorite source, and one of Kuhn's favorite, Gerald Massey. The subject here is Massey's essay, "The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ".
Massey, like Kuhn, is highly effective at saying in 5000 words what could have been said in 50. Thus as with Kuhn we pare the excess and get right to the points. But we also add a special feature: as we close, we will challenge readers of Massey and Harpur to produce documentation for claims made by Massey -- that Massey himself provides no documentation for.
Massey begins with a claim that, as Kuhn also said, Egpytian discoveries have shown that "much of the Christian History was pre-extant as Egyptian Mythology" and an assurance that though he can read hieroglyphics, "nothing offered to you is based on my translation" and that "scholars of indisputable authority" back his understanding. If this were so, one is puzzled by Massey's pointed lack of documetation and references, and indeed, the names of these scholars. But none are offered; and Massey goes on to offer a main point, thus:
The personal existence of Jesus as Jehoshua Ben-Pandira can be established beyond a doubt. One account affirms that, according to a genuine Jewish tradition "that man (who is not to be named) was a disciple of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia." It also says, "He was born in the fourth year of the reign of the Jewish King Alexander Jannĉus, notwithstanding the assertions of his followers that he was born in the reign of Herod." That would be more than a century earlier than the date of birth assigned to the Jesus of the Gospels! But it can be further shown that Jehoshua Ben-Pandira may have been born considerably earlier even than the year 102 B.C., although the point is not of much consequence here.
We may recognize this as coming from the historically worthless document, the Toledeth Jeshu. This Massey connects also to an earlier Talmudic account of Jesus (which we talk about here), which he admits offers no date, but based on the Toledeth Jeshu supposes could go back to 70 BC. As noted in the first article, the Toledeth is dated to hundreds of years after that time. As we note in the second article, however, even the Talmud is of marginal worth as a source for the historical Jesus.
After more description of the contents of the Toledeth Jeshu, Massey admits, oddly, that:
The Jewish writers and Rabbis with whom I have talked always deny the identity of the Talmudic Jehoshua and the Jesus of the Gospels. "This," observes Rabbi Jechiels, "which has been related to Jehoshua Ben-Perachia and his pupil, contains no reference whatever to him whom the Christians honour as God!" Another Rabbi, Salman Zevi, produced ten reasons for concluding that the Jehoshua of the Talmud was not he who was afterwards called Jesus of Nazareth.
And yet, Massey neither lists (much less answers) these reasons; instead, without pause, he proceeds right to:
Jesus of Nazareth (and of the Canonical Gospels) was unknown to Justus, to the Jew of Celsus, and to Josephus, the supposed reference to him by the latter being an undoubted forgery.
Not that such non-citation is unusual:
The "blasphemous writings of the Jews about Jesus," as Justin Martyr calls them, always refer to Jehoshua Ben-Pandira, and not to the Jesus of the Gospels. It is Ben-Pandira they mean when they say they have another and a truer account of the birth and life, the wonder-working and death of Jehoshua or Jesus. This repudiation is perfectly honest and soundly based.
It is not clear whether the above is intended to be a quote from Justin -- online, it appears only in Massey's works, and those who quote him -- but again, there are no names of these works, and it is also likely that Massey wants us to think that Justin said ALL of this (about Ben-Pandira as well).
But Massey continues connecting the Toledeth Jesus with the Talmudic Jesus:
The only Jesus known to the Jews was Jehoshua Ben-Pandira, who had learnt the arts of magic in Egypt, and who was put to death by them as a sorcerer. This was likewise the only Jesus known to Celsus, the writer of the "True Logos," a work which the Christians managed to get rid of bodily, with so many other of the anti-Christian evidences.
May we have a quote from Celsus, or at least a reference? No, this is all we get:
Celsus observes that he was not a pure Word, not a true Logos, but a man who had learned the arts of sorcery in Egypt. So, in the Clementines, it is in the character of Ben-Pandira that Jesus is said to rise again as the magician.
This is an accurate representation of what Celsus did say of Jesus, but Massey carefully avoids the point that nothing on Celsus puts Jesus in 70 BC.
And what of the "Clementines"? The word is used to refer to a rather significant body of work, of two sets: The Homilies and the Recognitions. Neither is dated in modern times earlier than the fourth century (see here). Even if this reference is accurate (and Massey no doubt knew that no one would bother to read the whole body of Clementines and find out), it is too late to be of any importance. It surprises not at all that Massey avoids discussion of the date or authenticity of his sources.
But here is the conclusive fact: The Jews know nothing of Jesus, the Christ of the Gospels, as an historical character; and when the Christians of the fourth century trace his pedigree, by the hand of Epiphanius, they are forced to derive their Jesus from Pandira! Epiphanius gives the genealogy of the Canonical Jesus in this wise:--
Jacob, called Pandira, Mary=Joseph--Cleopas, Jesus.
This proves that in the fourth century the pedigree of Jesus was traced to Pandira, the father of that Jehoshua who was the pupil of Ben-Perachia, and who becomes one of the magicians in Egypt, and who was crucified as a magician on the eve of the Passover by the Jews, in the time of Queen Alexandra, who had ceased to reign in the year 70 B.C.--the Jesus, therefore, who lived and died more than a century too soon.
The above is yet more unjustified mixing of characters; but what about Epiphanius? Yes, again, no work os named, no line cited; but this one does seem to be genuine, albeit mishandled, for what was happening is that Epiphanius was trying to explain a passage in Origen in which Origen rebutted Celsus' claims that a soldier named "Panthera" -- likely, a ribald pun on parthenos (virgin) -- was Jesus' father. Epiphanius' retort is merely a creative response in which he (gullibly, perhaps) accepts Celsus' slander as fact.
Ironically, then, Massey claims that it is "not the Jews, then, but the Christians, who fuse two supposed historic characters into one" (it is Massey himself who has arbitrarily created the fusion) and from this, proceeds to find the same "Jesus" in Irenaeus (misusing the "Jesus was 50" comment -- which he connects to the TJ with the vague argument that "Jehoshua Ben-Pandira may have been between 50 and 60 years of age when put to death".)
Then Massey argues that these two images of Jesus were at the root of the battle between Paul on one hand and James and Peter on the other. No support is given for this in the least, other than vague reference to Paul to "another Gospel" (on that, see here, which includes a reply to Massey), and an alleged comment in "the Book Abodazura" claiming that James followed the other Christ.
What is this book? There's no telling: No reference exists to it anywhere online except in Massey's writings and in those of persons who quote him. Nor does OCLC list any book with such a title.
Without explanation, Massey claims, "The historical Herod, who sought to slay the young child Jesus, is known to have died four years before the date of the Christian era, assigned for the birth of Jesus." Maybe he thinks Jesus is held to have been born in the year 0, but that was not the case, even in Massey's day; the typically assigned date was between 6 and 4 BC, within Herod's lifetime.
From here, having assumed to have disposed of a historical Jesus (what? what about Tacitus, Lucian, etc?), Massey now proceeds to make his link to Egyptian lore. The first cite he makes is the famous Luxor inscription, which thanks to an atheist, we may now dismiss as evidence. So much as well for Massey's attempt to compare them to the Gospels. Nevertheless:
In human sociology the son of the mother preceded the father, as son of the woman who was a mother, but not a wife. This character is likewise claimed for Jesus, who is made to declare that he was earlier than Abraham, who was the typical Great Father of the Jews; whether considered to be mythical or historical. Jesus states emphatically that he existed before Abraham was. This is only possible to the mythical Christ, who preceded the father as son of the virgin mother; and we shall find it so throughout. All that is non-natural and impossible as human history, is possible, natural and explicable as Mythos.
From this it is clear that Massey had no correct conception of Christology at all; he does not know that the Incarnation was that of pre-existent, hypostatic Wisdom, in the person of the human Jesus. Now:
The birth of Christ is astronomical. The birthday is determined by the full moon of Easter. This can only occur once every 19 years, as we have it illustrated by the Epact or Golden Number of the Prayer Book. Understand me! Jesus, the Christ, can only have a birthday, or resurrection, once in 19 years, in accordance with the Metonic Cycle, because his parents are the sun and moon; and those appear in the earliest known representation of the Man upon the Cross! This proves the astronomical and non-human nature of the birth itself, which is identical with that of the full moon of Easter in Egypt.
But nowhere is it ever "proved" that the "birth of Christ is astronomical" and all the rest merely is a follow-up to an unsubstantiated premise. The Metonic cycle is a real thing -- but what are these "earliest known" representations? Names? Dates? Source? We'd suggest that Massey gives none, because there are none; he simply makes these things up. (Besides, note as well how Massey just arbitrarily makes "birthday" and "resurrection" the same thing.)
Much ado follows about a Dec. 25th date of Jesus' birth; little need be said here, since that assignment is not something we defend or believe, so that even if Massey is right about Horus' birthdate (I noted once, The one reference I have found to a birth of Horus has him born on the 31st day of the Egyptian month of Khoiak -- the mythers have a one in 365 chance that this matches Dec. 25th), he is still wrong. Allusion is also made to the difference in crucifixion chronology which we address here. Likewise is connection to Dec. 25th made to Mithras:
Plutarch also tells us how the Mithraic Cult had been particularly established in Rome about the year 70 B.C. And Mithras was fabled as having been born in a cave. Wherever Mithras was worshipped the cave was consecrated as his birthplace. The cave can be identified, and the birth of the Messiah in that cave, no matter under what name he was born, can be definitely dated. The "Cave of Mithras" was the birthplace of the Sun in the Winter Solstice, when this occurred on the 25th of December in the sign of the Sea-Goat, with the Vernal Equinox in the sign of the Ram. Now the Akkadian name of the tenth month, that of the Sea-Goat, which answers roughly to our December, the tenth by name, is Abba Uddu, that is, the "Cave of Light;" the cave of re-birth for the Sun in the lowest depth at the Solstice, figured as the Cave of Light. This cave was continued as the birthplace of the Christ.
But as we have noted, Mithras was NOT "born in a cave" but from a rock; and Massey did not have more knowledge than today's greatest experts on Mithraism, who say we know almost nothing of Mithraic doctrines, much less do they ever say "the cave was consecrated as his birthplace". The connection further to this alleged cave as "the birthplace of the Sun" is also, thereby, a fabricated leap.
The name of "Abba Uddu" I find confirmed, again, nowhere but from Massey.
You will find it in all the Gospels of the Infancy, and Justin Martyr says, "Christ was born in the Stable, and afterwards took refuge in the Cave." He likewise vouches for the fact that Christ was born on the same day that the Sun was re-born in Stabulo Augiĉ, or, in the Stable of Augias.
No cite for this, again; and online this quote appears only in Massey or sources using Massey. Thankfully it is not hard to find this one; in his Dialogue with Trypho (78) Justin actually says:
But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him. I have repeated to you," I continued, "what Isaiah foretold about the sign which foreshadowed the cave; but for the sake of those who have come with us to-day, I shall again remind you of the passage." Then I repeated the passage from Isaiah which I have already written, adding that, by means of those words, those who presided over the mysteries of Mithras were stirred up by the devil to say that in a place, called among them a cave, they were initiated by him.
Thus Massey misquotes Justin, who says nothing about Jesus being born in a stable and taking refuge in a cave; rather, the cave was the place where the manger was -- this, reflective of indeed a known practice in Palestine of using caves as stables. But of the connection to Augeus, there is no sign at all.
Now the cleansing of this Stable was the sixth labour of Herakles, his first being in the sign of the Lion; and Justin was right; the Stable and Cave are both figured in the same Celestial Sign. But mark this! The Cave was the birthplace of the Solar Messiah from the year 2410 to the year 255 B.C.; at which latter date the Solstice passed out of the Sea-Goat into the sign of the Archer; and no Messiah, whether called Mithras, Adon, Tammuz, Horus or Christ, could have been born in the Cave of Abba Uddu or the Stable of Augias on the 25th of December after the year 255 B.C., therefore, Justin had nothing but the Mithraic tradition of the by-gone birthday to prove the birth of the Historical Christ 255 years later!
There is little here but a pastiche of undocumented assertions and invalid connections, rushed by as quickly as possible so as not to inspire questions or examination. Where do we get this whole notion of a "solar messiah"? Massey merely forces his astrological interpretation, then from it forces a deduction that Justin took the whole thing from Mithraic tradition (and yet, we found no evidence at all that Mithra was assigned such a birthdate, certainly not until well after the time of Jesus).
In their mysteries the Sarraceni celebrated the Birth of the babe in the Cave or Subterranean Sanctuary, from which the Priest issued, and cried:--"The Virgin has brought forth: The Light is about to begin to grow again!"--on the Mother-night of the year. And the Sarraceni were not supporters of Historic Christianity.
Really? Who are the Sarraceni, and when do these alleged "mysteries" show up in historical records? Massey is oddly silent about this, and he ought to be -- "Sarraceni" is the name of a Muslim group; though various academic sources online suggests that the name (spelled with but one R; Massey's spelling is in error) was also given to Arab peoples in general from an earlier date. Nevertheless this information is useless, offering neither date nor context for this alleged priestly cry (it appears online, again, only in Massey's writings) and in any event obscuring somewhat: Christianity did find some roots among Arabs prior to the advent of Islam -- let us remember that Muhammed opposed the power of the Byzantine Empire, which ruled several Arab lands.
The birthplace of the Egyptian Messiah at the Vernal Equinox was figured in Apt, or Apta, the corner; but Apta is also the name of the Crib and the Manger; hence the Child born in Apta, was said to be born in a manger; and this Apta as Crib or Manger is the hieroglyphic sign of the Solar birthplace. Hence the Egyptians exhibited the Babe in the Crib or Manger in the streets of Alexandria.
They did? When? And where did Massey get this about "Apt, or Apta"? It is merely inserted with no explanation, as though we are to take Massey's word for it. Massey goes on to draw a connection to the "three kings" but nothing in Matthew says that the magi were kings, or that there were three of them.
Massey then make a connection to the figure of Oannes, which we have addressed here. That said, we are faced from this point with the same type of effort, again and again and again: Massey asserts some obscure fact or connection, without a shred of documentation; he then connects this fact to other equally non-documented fact or claim. For this reason, we now resort to the following measure. We shall select certain claims of fact from here on, and unless we find something to verify them, we will ask questions of those who think Massey a worthwhile source and challenge them to produce documentation for these claims.
A source here written by an academic writer does indicate, The Messiah whose appearance will, according to Jewish legend, bring a wonderful fruitfulness to the whole world, is called in one ancient collection of Jewish legends Nun, "fish." The fish served as a symbol for the Messiahs of several peoples. The source listed is Yalqut Re'euveni, Psalm 72, but this is not the Talmud: It is a collection of Kabbalist (Jewish esotericists) midrashic material first published in Prague in 1660 (see here). As a source for beliefs in the critical times in question, this is of no relevance.
This is from 2 Esdras 13:25-26 --- thanks to a reader who found it! -- but it doesn't "foresee" anything unless Massey thinks it did typologically.
Foreseen? I find no verfication, other that sites of questionable reference, that this quote is real; though it does fit in with what reliable sources say Berosus wrote about, topically. That said, other sources add more to this quote, and looked at in context, it's rather not useful for Massey:
This Being in the day-time used to converse with men; but took no food at that season; he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and every kind of art. He taught them to construct houses, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and showed them to collect fruits; in short he instructed them in every thing which could tend to soften manners and humanise Mankind. From that time so universal were his instructions, nothing has been added by way of improvement. When the sun set, it was the custom of this Being to plunge again into the sea , and abide all night in the deep....'
Foreseen? Berosus refers to a being of the past. And there's also a description preserved by Berosus, according to some folks who use this:
The whole body of the animal was like that of a fish; and it had under a fish's head another head, and also feet below, similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish's tail. His voice, too, and language, were articulate and human; and a representation of him is preserved even to this day.
One wonders why Massey managed to omit these additions, if they are genuine.
This is taken also from 1 Esdras, and requires creative exegesis to get to. And Massey merely stretches a single event in the life of Jesus to a regular practice, and calls it "retiring" when it is no such thing; and then invents wholesale the idea that the walking on water "demonstrates his solar nature" -- how?
Through a series of unsubstantiated esoteric contrivances:
We are told that his disciples being on board a ship, "when even was come, in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went unto them walking upon the sea." Now the fourth watch began at three o'clock, and ended at six o'clock. Therefore, this was about the proper time for a solar God to appear walking upon the waters, or coming up out of them as the Oannes. Oannes is said to have taken no food whilst he was with men: "In the daytime he used to converse with men, but took no food at that season." So Jesus, when his disciples prayed him, saying "Master, eat," said unto them, "I have meat to eat that you know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me."
The time is correct, but Jesus did not "come out" of the water (the story has him on land, coming out across the water) and Massey reaches all the way over to John 4:34, and an episode not even connected with the story of the water walk (and never mind that Jesus DID eat at other times).
Monuments? What monuments, where? T
This is addressed here, as well as Massey's claim that Jesus in Revelation has female breasts.
Really? In what source, please?
This wouldn't mean a a lot even if true, no more than it meant much that Massey's friends said hello to him on the street. But luckily this item is described online here and sure doesn't sound much like anything Jesus did, and the "recognition" (in bold) sure is different:
An interesting papyrus of the Ramessid period relates the story of a wonderful cure effected by Khonsu. It happened that the Pharaoh, "the Horus, he who resembles Tum, the son of the sun, the mighty with scimitars, the smiter of the nine-bow barbarians", &c., was collecting the annual tribute from the subject kings of Syria. The Prince of Bakhten, 1 who brought many gifts, "placed in front of these his eldest daughter". She was very beautiful, arid the Pharaoh immediately fell in love with her, arid she became his "royal wife".
Some time afterwards the Prince of Bakhten appeared at Uas (Thebes) with an envoy. He brought presents to his daughter, and, having prostrated himself before the "Son of the Sun", announced:
"I have travelled hither to plead with Your Majesty for the sake of Bent-rash, the younger sister of your royal wife; she is stricken with a grievous malady which causes her limbs to twitch violently. I entreat Your Majesty to send a learned magician to see her, so that he may give her aid in her sore distress."
Pharaoh said: "Let a great magician who is learned in the mysteries be brought before me."
As he desired, so was it done. A scribe of the House of Life appeared before him, and His Majesty said: "It is my will that you should travel to Bakhten to see the younger daughter of the royal wife."
The magician travelled with the envoy, and when he arrived at his journey's end he saw the Princess Bentrash, whom he found to be possessed of a hostile demon of great power. But he was unable to draw it forth.
Then the Prince of Bakhten appeared at Uas a second time, and addressing the Pharaoh said: "O King, my lord, let a god be sent to cure my daughter's malady!"
His Majesty was compassionate, and he went to the temple of Khonsu and said to the god: "Once again I have come on account of the little daughter of the Prince of Bakhten. Let your image be sent to cure her."
Khonsu, "giver of oracles" and "expeller of evil spirits", nodded his head, assenting to the prayer of the king, and caused his fourfold divine nature to be imparted to the image.
So it happened that the statue of Khonsu was placed in an ark, which was carried on poles by twelve priests while two chanted prayers. When it was borne from the temple, Pharaoh offered up burning incense, and five boats set forth with the ark arid the priests, accompanied by soldiers, a chariot, and two horses.
The Prince of Bakhten came forth from his city to meet the god, accompanied by many soldiers, and prostrated himself.
"So you have indeed come," he cried. "You are not hostile to us; the goodwill of the Pharaoh has caused you to come hither."
Khonsu was then carried into the presence of the Princess Bent-rash, who was immediately cured of her malady. The evil demon was cast out, and it stood before the god and said: "Peace be with you, O mighty god. The land of Bakhten is your possession, and its people are your slaves. I am your slave also. As you desire, I will return again to the place whence I came. But first let the Prince of Bakhten hold a great feast that I may partake thereof."
Khonsu then instructed a priest, saying: "Command the Prince of Bakhten to offer up a great sacrifice to the evil spirit whom I have expelled from his daughter."
Great dread fell upon the prince and the army and all the people when the sacrifice was offered up to the demon by the soldiers. Then amidst great rejoicings that spirit of evil took its departure and went to the place whence it came, according to the desire of Khonsu, "the giver of oracles".
Then the Prince of Bakhten was joyful of heart, and he desired that Khonsu should remain in the land. As it happened, he kept the image of the god for over three years.
Nor is there any connection with pigs here, though Massey tries to find one:
Also the God Khunsu is Lord over the pig--a type of Sut. He is pourtrayed in the disk of the full moon of Easter, in the act of offering the pig as a sacrifice. Moreover, in the judgment scenes, when the wicked spirits are condemned and sent back into the abyss, their mode of return to the lake of primordial matter is by entering the bodies of swine. Says Horus to the Gods, speaking of the condemned one: "When I sent him to his place he went, and he has been transformed into a black pig."
Never mind that we are jumping from sending demons into a herd of pigs, to sacrificing a single pig, in an entirely different context; never mind the switch for Khunsu to Horus. We'd like some documentation on any of this, but elsewhere, Massey equivocated when he reported instead:
Adar was likewise "Lord of the Pig," just as Khunsu is the personified lord over the pig of Typhon in the disk of the moon at full (Zodiac of Denderah). This is the god who, as Adonis, was slain by the pig or boar at one season of the year, but who was victor over it in the first of the six upper signs, which is the sign of Pisces in the Zodiac of Denderah
In other words, Khunsu is by no means "lord over the pig" any more than I would be "lord over the pig" when I went down the local BBQ joint to eat some pork ribs. In terms of the "black pig" Massey fails to report it is the evil god that Seth who, while fighting Horus, changed himself into a black pig; this was not a "mode of return to the lake of primordial matter" but a willful transformation by Seth. That exact quote by Horus is also found nowhere online but from Massey.
The quoted phrase once again appears only in Massey, and no one else seems to have heard of "Rem Rem" either.
As an aside, we continue to bypass arbitrary esoteric commentary Massey offers ("The scene between the Christ and the Woman at the Well may likewise be found in the Ritual. Here the woman is the lady with the long hair, that is Nu, the consort of Seb--and the five husbands can be paralleled by her five star-gods born of Seb.") But if Massey reader want to meet a challenge, find us these quotes in original sources:
In the chapters on "Celestial Diet" in the Ritual, Osiris eats under the sycamore tree of Hathor. He says, "Let him come from the earth. Thou hast brought these seven loaves for me to live by, bringing the bread that Horus (the Christ) makes. Thou hast placed, thou hast eaten rations. Let him call to the Gods for them, or the Gods come with them to him."
This is reproduced as miracle in the Gospels, performed when the multitude were fed upon seven loaves. The seven loaves are found here, together with the calling upon the Gods, or working the miracle of multiplying the bread.
I'll believe it when I see a source outside Massey that shows that Osiris was ever called by this title. He's the only one.
Will Massey's readers meet these challenges? Somehow, I doubt it.