Reflections on the Christ Myth, part 5: One Hypothesis
by Revilo P. Oliver
RELATIONS BETWEEN Jews and goyim outside Judaea have always been strained and precarious, except when one has attained such complete dominance as to force the other into hypocritical submission. The Jews, in their scattered colonies throughout the civilized world, needed to ensure themselves against resentment, and this need became urgent after the decisive failure to take over the world by force with the putative assistance of a Yahweh who always ran when there was danger.
In the simplest terms, making Judaism respectable in the eyes of their “pagan” neighbors was no longer a matter of inventing sons of Abraham who had been companions of Hercules or of forging letters from a Lacedaemonian king to prove that the Spartans were really a “lost tribe” of Jews. What could be more effective than a christ sent by Yahweh to save the souls of Gentiles?
And if the stupid goyim could be made to believe that a Jewish god was the animus mundi of the Stoic monotheism, and that he had sent his Jewish Son into the world to bring Salvation to the lesser breeds “outside the Law,” this notion could be made the basis of a theology that would sap the virility and rationality of the more intelligent goyim and destroy their ability to detect and resent the depredations of their parasites and their own gradual descent into slavery. The new religion, which would, of course, have to be distinguished sharply from the racial exclusiveness and arrogance of the Judaism with which everyone was then familiar, could be made an hallucinatory drug, an enslaving opiate, that would eventually make its addicts helpless sheep, to be herded for the profit of their shepherds.
If the inventors of Christianity did not envisage this use of it with a foresight and cunning that may seem superhuman, they must have realized in subsequent centuries what a marvelous weapon they had inadvertently forged. This is a drastic hypothesis and will seem novel and implausible to many, but it can be supported by one datum for which it would be hard to suggest another explanation. Once Christianity was launched, the Jews were evidently determined to retain control of it.
That is the most reasonable explanation of the eventual failure of the Marcionist Church, which was a form of Christianity far more plausible than the doctrine that finally triumphed.
Marcion was a wealthy shipowner at Sinope, now the Turkish town of Sinop on the south shore of the Black Sea, but then the largest port and commercial center east of Byzantium. Sinope was founded as a Greek colony and long remained a Greek city, but there had been a continuous influx of other peoples. We have no information about Marcion’s ancestors.
When Christian propaganda reached him, he saw, as all reasonable men must, that the ferocious, vindictive, and cruel god of the “Old Testament” was utterly incompatible with the god of mercy and love preconized by Pauline Christianity, and he accordingly decided that Yahweh was only the Demiurge, creator of the material world, but inferior to the good and supreme god who sent his Son (an avatar of himself) to save mankind from the Demiurge. (34)
Jesus made his appearance in the guise of a man of about thirty, but the ignorant apostles mistook him for a Jewish christ, and the Jews showed their irremediable perversity by crucifying a simulacrum of him (of course, a god could not be killed). He had, however, been recognized by Paul. Marcion had a version of the gospel attributed to “a man from Lucania” (Greek Lonkej, Latin Lucanus, commonly ‘Luke’ in English, as though it were a man’s name), and a collection of letters attributed to Paul that justified Marcion’s theology. He may have had other holy books, and he wrote a work, Antitheses, conclusively proving that Yahweh was the very antithesis of the Pauline god, and that the “Old Testament” was incompatible with Christianity.
He went to Rome, then the capital of the civilized world, but found Judaizing Christians already established there. He founded his own church (c. 150), which naturally appealed to persons susceptible to the new religion but not incapable of thought. His was a comparatively innocuous form of Christianity — one that the late Dr. Hamblin, an erudite and highly intelligent man, tried to revive in our time to provide for the populace a form of Christianity that was not culturally and racially poisonous.
Marcion’s Church did attract a numerous following and it may have been, for a time, the largest Christian sect, with congregations throughout the Empire, but it was the target of the most bitter animosity of the well-financed gang known as Fathers of the Church, who were determined to keep the “Old Testament” as the basis of their cult. The Marcionist Churches declined in the Third and Fourth Centuries, perhaps because they were not sufficiently fanatical and skilled in intrigue, but they survived even after the Fathers of the Church were at last able to start persecuting with the police powers of the captive state at their disposal. (35)
Why the Fathers should have chosen to burden their cult with the onerous and malodorous bundle of fictions of the “Old Testament,” which blatantly contradicted the very doctrine they were peddling, is almost inexplicable, except on the assumption that it was made profitable for them. And we must not forget that, with very few exceptions, we really do not know which early Christian theologians were “converted” Jews or stooges for the Jews, like the contemptible hirelings who now misgovern Germany.
So much for one interpretation of the admittedly fragmentary evidence (as distinct from inferences).
34. One unfortunate consequence of this theory was a dichotomy between the body (material and therefore subject to the Demiurge) and a soul (purely spiritual and so in the domain of the Supreme God). That led to the asceticism and denial of nature that characterized most of the Christian sects and makes them so repulsive to healthy men.
35. The Marcionists were gradually absorbed by the more drastic (and ascetic) church founded by “Manichaeus, the disciple of Jesus Christ,” but Prudentius, a Christian versifier of some talent, writing at the opening of the Fifth Century, could lament in his Hamartigenia that the secular powers had not yet killed all the vile heretics who had been trapped by Marcion’s evil insanity (attoniti phrenesis manifesta cerebri). Modern holy men like to pretend that Mani was not a “Christian,” forgetting that he has as much right to the title as they have.
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