Sunday, May 16, 2010

How I Successfully Disproved What Has Passed Itself Off as Christianity For the Last Eighteen Hundred Years in My Last Post

I have had been dealing with some terrible news lately. Someone very close to me has been diagnosed with lymphoma at only forty years of age. It's been pretty rough but one of the things that has been keeping me going is the fact that I have managed to pull an ancient relic from the mud of history. No I am not talking about the work I am involved with off the coast of Alexandria although it is certainly related to the overall effort to come to terms with the influence of the Egyptian city over the development of Christianity.

If you haven't read my last post already, you should do so right now. Either scroll down the page or click on the link here. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the most important things written on the subject of Christian origins written in some time.

If you want me to sum it up for you, let me say that I have demonstrated the REAL ground out of which Christianity developed.

Again, the short form answer is that I have established the foundation for understanding the development of Christianity out of Alexandrian cultural milieu.

The truth is that THERE IS NO REAL HISTORY of Christianity. What there is instead is a redressing of our inherited myths, fables and essentially made up stories to EXPLAIN AWAY the truth about the religion.

Let's face it, no one outside of the Catholic faith believed a word of the Acts of the Apostles. But even those who did accept its authenticity can be all demonstrated to have had the same incredible mental lapse all at the same time about where the true headquarters of Christianity was located.

Just think about it. The Acts of the Apostles makes ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that Antioch rather than Alexandria was the true home of Christianity. After all - at least according to its idiotic claims - this is where Peter and Paul buried the hatchet after Paul 'condemned' Peter to his face.

Now I don't want to get distracted by whether or not the attempt of Acts to harmonize the differences between the schools of Peter and Paul are believable or not. I don't believe that they are. But then even if we suspend our disbelieve we have something even more incredible to explain away.

Even though Acts essentially says that Antioch was the proper home of Christianity and Antioch has a claim to be 'the original See of Peter' there isn't even an attempt to explain how or why everyone in the earliest period of Catholic Christianity - viz. the late second and early third centuries - went along with the completely contradictory idea that Rome was not only the proper headquarters of Christianity, but that it was also the true see of St. Peter.

In other words, it is always amazing when an argument which has absolutely no basis in scripture manages to muscle its way into a tradition and displace a perfectly reasonable argument based on a commonly held set of writings.

That we should hold Rome to be the center of Christendom is hardly surprising. We live almost two thousand years removed from the original events of the gospel. A lot has happened since that time and, moreover, there WAS a consistent and ultimately successful effort in the late second and third centuries to argue on behalf of the sanctity of Rome and its status as the See of St. Peter.

It has never amazed me of course that a city and its residents would have accepted self-serving but ultimately false claims like this. What has never been explained before is how it is that the whole of the contemporary world bought into the idea that Rome was the center of Christianity and the See of St. Peter when no scripture in the holy canon of the Catholic Church can be brought forward to support that claim.

Most scholars just shrug their shoulders and 'get on with more important business.' I have always taken this to be the beginning of my understanding that the fact that Rome was the POLITICAL CENTER of the Empire - i.e. the home of Caesar - HAS TO BE PART of the explanation. In other words, the Roman government had an interest in keep an eye on this rapidly expanding religion and 'helped' make that argument seem 'more believable' to Christians by persecuting faiths which put forward arguments to the contrary.

I have always defied people to come up with an alternative explanation to this 'conspiracy theory.' For example, how is that Clement of Alexandria after reading and accepting Acts goes on to 'understand' that Rome was both St. Peter's See and the home of Christianity. If it was possible to develop arguments WITHOUT a basis in scripture, why not argue for the authority of his own tradition in Alexandria?

The point is that this kind of puzzling irrationality exists not only in Alexandria but everywhere in the Empire. Learned men keep reading Acts and 'understanding' somehow that Rome was the See of Peter and the proper home of the Christian faith. It's utterly amazing.

Of course when you start placing the late second and early third centuries under a microscope you can start to see evidence of a persecution of anyone connected with the faith of Alexandrian Christianity.

There is a consistent pattern of Alexandrian Christians being brought to Rome for 'questioning' Some of the people are clearly identified as 'heretics' (Valentinus, Cerdo). Some of the people are clearly identified as being high ranking officials in the Alexandrian Church (Theophilus) Some of the people are clearly identified as suffering punishment or even martyrdom (Apollonius, Origen).

In spite of all the murkiness a definite pattern does emerge from the surviving material. Whether coincidental or not, the growing severity of the Alexandrian persecutions into the late third century occur as a Roman Church which DID NOT suffer any notable martyrdoms went on to reach its political zenith in the same period.

Now I did not write this post to rehash many of my familiar arguments about how the Imperial cabal helped redefine Christianity. It is enough to say that the history of what Alexandrian Christianity looked like BEFORE this ultimately successful reshaping effort has never been written or even attempted.

The only real materials that we have available to us to make sense of this period are (a) the hostile and ultimately reworked original lectures of Irenaeus about two principle types of Egyptian heretical schools (viz. the schools of Valentinus and Mark), (b) a handful of Alexandrian oral traditions which have made their way down to us often times in a corrupt form, (c) the contents of Clement's Letter to Theodore which happens to allude to the contemporary Alexandrian liturgy and its relationship to 'scripture,' (d) my discovery of the original Alexandrian Episcopal throne of St. Mark in Venice and (e) the potential discovery that the original headquarters of the Alexandrian faith - the Church of St. Mark - sat next to or on top of the old Ptolemaic Jewish temple in the Boucolia.

When these materials are put together we might possibly have the beginnings of an understanding of the forgotten faith of Alexandria.

For the point of all my labors is to develop an explanation for the historical development of Christianity THAT ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE. That's the real problem folks. You have 'Judaism' over on one side of the page and 'Christianity' on the other AND THERE IS NO WAY TO RECONCILE ONE WITH THE OTHER without Alexandria.

Seriously. It is absolutely impossible to get beyond the BASIC LINGUISTIC DIFFICULTIES associated with reconciling a 'Jerusalem Church' with what we see emerging at the time of Polycarp - viz. a 'Gentile Church.' How was it ALL the earliest writers cite the LXX? Is there any proof that the LXX was employed outside of Egypt? The list of problems just builds from here.

Indeed, as I have noted many times before that I - as a Jew - staring at the 'orthodoxy' which emerges in the late second century HAVE DIFFICULTIES SEEING ANYTHING CONNECTED WITH JUDAISM WHATSOEVER. Of course all the white folks tell me that this was God's intention (i.e. to reject the excessive 'legalism' of Judaism). But why is it then that there is such an extensive citation of Jewish scriptures even in the Marcionite literature?

It seems pretty bizarre to hold that God needed to raise 'legal experts' to make the argument that 'legalism' was dead. The whole paradigm that we end up getting stuck with - i.e. that God HAD TO DESTROY the religion he established with Moses and replaced it with a religion of 'loving one another' never made any real sense to anyone. It was essentially a cop out for those too stupid to make any better sense of the mess our ancestors left us.

I can tell you what the followers of Mark put forward instead. I demonstrated it in my last post if you were smart enough to follow along at home.

It went something like this.

There is the true God in heaven and then this other hypostasis who made the world (in other words Mark starts with assumptions of Alexandrian Judaism). The hypostasis who made the world wasn't as smart as the Holy Spirit inside of him or with him so as he is creating this poor copy of heavenly things he doesn't really understand what he is producing.

The followers of Tatian for instance point to his request for light. But the basic idea is something that every literary critic worth his salt has engaged in - viz. that the author doesn't fully understand the work that he authored.

So remember the way that we demonstrated that the followers of Mark said that he taught that certain Aramaic words like hyl and amen were ciphers and whose hidden meaning was only unlocked by taking the ordinal value of each letter and adding them up together? As such both hyl and amen add up to thirty (H + Y + L = 8 + 10 + 12 = 30 + 1 + 14 + 15 = A + M + N).

Well Irenaeus also keeps referencing the idea that this interest in the thirty is connected with number of days in a 'full' πλήρης month. We learn elsewhere that the followers of Mark think that the year is SUPPOSED to be made up of twelve months of thirty days each or exactly three hundred and sixty days where, according to Agapius's source "360 gods existed from all eternity; they all gathered together and created the world, and each of them governed it in turn; power belonged to each of them for one day a year during which he was the sole master of it." When we scrutinize the report of Irenaeus it immediately becomes clear that Agapius's source is correct; this is an accurate report about the Marcosians.

So how can we explain why these strange claims about the number 360? It all starts to fall together when we consult the words of 'saintly Elder' against Mark cited in Book One of Against All Heresies which read:

Marcus, thou former of idols, inspector of portents,
Skill'd in consulting the stars, and deep in the black arts of magic,
Ever by tricks such as these confirming the doctrines of error,
Furnishing signs unto those involved by thee in deception,
Wonders of power that is utterly severed from God and apostate,
Which Satan, thy true father, enables thee still to accomplish,
By means of Azazel, that fallen and yet mighty angel,--
Thus making thee the precursor of his own impious actions

Everyone who has ever read the description of the Marcosians has read these lines. Most have been struck by the number of times Marcus is called a 'magician.' The context for this statement in made clear in these lines. He's involved in astrology - viz. "Skill'd in consulting the stars, and deep in the black arts of magic." Why does astrology solve the context of the reference to 360? Let me quickly explain.

The traditional method used to divide the signs and determine rulership, by using the Triplicities is called the decanates.

The ruler of the decan of the rising sign in the progressed chart has a great deal of influence over the whole life, for the time in question, particularly if there are any aspects made by that ruler, or if the planet is strong in the natal chart. The influence of the decan is often similar to the conjunction.

Each zodiac sign governs 30 degrees of the natal chart. Twelve zodiac signs at 30 degrees each constitute the complete natal chart encompassing 360 degrees.

Each sign is divided into three divisions of 10 degrees, each sign has 3 decans, one for each division of 10 degrees. Each decan has a ruler which becomes the sub ruler of the sign or the co-ruler of that sign. Once you are familiar with the Triplicities (fire, earth, air, water), it will be easier for you to determine the sub-rulers of each decan.

Each decan of a sign will be in the same triplicity (fire, earth, air, water) as the sign itself. They are arranged in the same order as they appear in the zodiac. The first decan of Aries is Aries, ruled by Mars. The second decan is Leo, ruled by the Sun, the next fire sign in the zodiac. So the second decan of Aries is ruled by the Sun. The third decan of Aries would be the next fire sign after Leo, which is Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter. Each decan is of the same Triplicity - the fire element. The first decan of Taurus is Taurus, ruled by Venus. The second decan of Taurus is Virgo, ruled by Mercury. The third decan of Taurus is Capricorn, ruled by Saturn. Each decan is of the same Triplicity - the earth element.

Zodiac Sign

Aries – Fire
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Mars
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Sun
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Jupiter

Taurus – Earth
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Venus
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Mercury
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Saturn

Gemini – Air
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Mercury
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Venus
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Uranus

Cancer – Water
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Moon
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Pluto
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Neptune

Leo – Fire
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Sun
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Jupiter
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Mars

Virgo – Earth
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Mercury
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Saturn
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Venus

Libra – Air
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Venus
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Uranus
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Mercury

Scorpio – Water
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Pluto
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Neptune
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Moon

Sagittarius – Fire
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Jupiter
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Mars
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Sun

Capricorn – Earth
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Saturn
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Venus
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Mercury

Aquarius – Air
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Uranus
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Mercury
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Venus

Pisces – Water
Ruler of first decan.............0° - 10° - Neptune
Ruler of second decan......10° - 20° - Moon
Ruler of third decan...........20° - 30° - Pluto

An Example: Your progressed ascendant 15° Virgo, the decan of 15° Virgo is Saturn. If I were to cast your chart, I would see that Mercury rules your chart and Saturn is co-ruler. Therefore, Mercury has rulership over your chart and the decan shows that there are Saturn influences in your personal circumstances. There may be more attention to duty and details under Saturn’s influence. You may be more ambitious and work hard for recognition or reward. There will be more patience and perseverance now. What you do achieve now will come through your hard work and efforts. Your success and its timing also depends on other influences in your chart and the aspects made to your Ascendant, its ruler Mercury, co-ruler Saturn, and your Midheaven (career).

The point is that this is what Irenaeus is getting at. This is his explanation for why the Marcosians had a 360 day calendar. There might be something to it of course but the more obvious answer is that the calendar of the Church of Mark was based on the 360 day calendar of Egypt just as the modern Coptic tradition of St. Mark still maintains a 360 day calendar of 12 months.

Once again only a blind person could avoid seeing that the Mark Irenaeus identifies as a heretic must have been connected somehow with St. Mark the head of the Church of Egypt. I am not quite so sure whether the Marcosians were DIRECTLY involved in astrology. To be certain the IDEA they accepted that the 360 day calendar was HISTORICALLY connected with decans and other astrological terminology and belief. I might even accept that the ancient followers of St. Mark believed that the astrological watchers were real.

I suspect that the EMPHASIS among the followers of Mark to their Egyptian brethren was that the 30 was the source of the 360. There is a whole chapter in Irenaeus's account which denies exactly this understanding (cf. AH ii.8). The point however is that we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that that the Marcosian interest was specifically in the power of the thirty - cf. "they refer to only thirty AEons, and declare that the vast multitude of things which are embraced within the creation are images of those that are but thirty" (AH ii.7.7). The 360 isn't even specifically referenced in Irenaeus.

As we noted in our last post, the redemption baptism of the followers of Mark is developed around the historical understanding of HYL or 'angels' - a term which embodied the ogdoad (8), decad (10) and duodecad (12) 'bundled' as one triacontad (30) see my last post - being present in the Red Sea as the ancient Israelites crossed.

Anyway more to follow ...

Email with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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