Christ-Hero of the Monomyths by Suresh Shenoy by Suresh Shenoy - Read Online

Book Preview

Christ-Hero of the Monomyths - Suresh Shenoy

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

Notes

Foreword

A Personal Response to the book, Christ-Hero of the Monomyths

This response has to be personal, very personal, for three reasons. I am not a classical scholar. I am not a scripture scholar. I am a deeply committed Christian.

I do however have immediate rapport with the central theme of the book. Like many of my confreres, I dedicated myself to the infinite possibilities for rethinking the nature of the church, opened up by the Second Vatican Council and was encouraged by the support I received from the laity, the real community of faith. Yet the church as an Institution was determined there would be no significant change.

From this background, I respond warmly to your view that the guidance of the literary genres of the scriptures is far more reliable than the dogmatic assertions and so-called infallible teachings of the church. The church has never been comfortable about integrating with the wisdom that is shared by the whole of humanity. It has always claimed superior wisdom sourced in divine revelation.

The most challenging aspect of your book for me is the dichotomy between Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus the Christ,( as Adolf Harnack put it, between 'Jesus of history' and the 'Christ of faith'). I had, of course, been aware of the distinction but not of the extent to which it is basic to an understanding of the church as an institution.

Although it is not central to the theme of your study, I particularly liked the way you dealt with Old Testament perceptions and communication techniques especially with reference to Yahweh's constant interventions in the history of Israel. Reconciliation of the conflict between good and evil continues to be our daily challenge, although our understanding of our world and its people has moved a vast distance away from that of the Old Testament. In a quiet way, your writing never loses sight of the vein of goodness running through both sacred and secular histories.

The Infancy Narratives as a Monomyth was a beautiful chapter to read and the thoroughness of the research raised these narratives to a new level of coherence and credibility for me. With reference to that, I found the way you assembled information in each chapter in quite precise detail but short space very helpful. This technique kept you as the writer and me as the reader on the same wavelengths.

The Monomyths of the Messianic Hero and the Suffering Hero really confirmed the worth of studying the New Testament as Literature rather than as Sacred Scripture. It means, as you say, we can get closer to the thoughts of the authors. The textual truth of the Synoptic Gospels, despite the interpolations, then becomes the essence of faith in every Christian faith community rather than the magisterial pronouncements.

After working through the Synoptics, I found myself wondering how one would deal with John's more sophisticated writing. I was then quite exhilarated by your identification of metaphor as the key to accessing his writing, especially the distinction between the lexical and the ontological metaphor.

John's Gospel helps us to recognize the limits of science and logic and to open our awareness of the reality beyond of metaphor, poetry and mystery.

Pat Crudden

Acknowledgements

Readers of my first book, The Four Fabulists: the Literary Genres of the Gospels and the Acts of Apostles were generous in their appreciation of the content and the presentation of the book. They also agreed with the thesis and expressed their conviction that most of the scripture scholars would also concede it. I am grateful to each of them for their encouragement.

Some of my readers suggested that I go further into the content of the Gospels and investigate to what extent their content was ‘fictitious’ and how the Gospel writers had succeeded in hiding it so effectively and for so long. They helped me to find the direction I needed for my second book, The Divine Christ: Christian Myths, Mysteries and Magic, now revised in Smashwords Edition as Christ-Hero of the Monomyths.

A writer always has an appropriate audience in mind while putting his thoughts down. I am pleased that the readers I had before me were the right ones. The same readers in the first book are my audience in the second book, which is a sequel to the first. I hope they will continue to read and reflect on the content of the book and let it shape their response to Jesus of history.

The religious women and men and committed Catholics who received a jolt from the first book will have time to adjust after the sequel. It will help them to re-orientate themselves away from the institutional Church, the guardian of the fictitious deposit of faith, and stop despairing. They can now, in good conscience, turn to the Community of Jesus to which they truly belong. Having cleared their minds of all residual doubts about fake claims of the old hierarchic Church, they can now focus wholeheartedly on the Way of Jesus and watch with joy as the new People of God unfolds its wings through them.

I wish to acknowledge the support of my family. Premila and Prakash Shenoy have excelled in designing the cover. I thank them both. To my friend, Pat Crudden, I owe thanks for the Foreword he wrote for the book. The quality of Pat as a person shines in the words he penned for me and my book.

A group of my readers do not wish to be individually acknowledged. They are the priests and the religious committed to their calling and their ministry. They are more skilled than the trapeze artistes are in walking the tight rope. I wish to congratulate them for their patience and fidelity. Like Simeon, they look forward to the dawn out of the dark Night.

Finally, to my wife, Elvira, I owe my thanks. Her convictions and her deep faith in Jesus of Nazareth have been a continuing inspiration for me in my research as in my life.

S. A. Shenoy

Melbourne

August 23, 2015

Introduction

The Four Fabulists: the Literary Genres of the Gospels and Acts of Apostles was my first investigation into growing doubts about the inspiration and the sacred character of the New Testament as Scripture.[1] This study is revised and published in Smashwords Edition as The Gospels feign Classical Histories (2015). Reflective readers of this study urged me to go further into the ‘fictional’ and the ‘fictitious’ and discover how the Gospel writers introduced them into the content and presentation of their texts.

The Gospels feign Classical Histories convincingly demonstrates that the Gospels and the Acts of Apostles each replicated specific ancient models in the Greek and Roman classical histories. Given that incontestable literary fact, there had to be ancient models to follow where the Gospel writers converted the fictional and the fictitious into their texts. A search for such models resulted in this book, The Divine Christ: Christian Myths, Mysteries and Magic now revised as Christ-Hero of the Monomyths in Smashwords Edition (2015).

The main thesis of this book is that the New Testament authors, particularly the Synoptics, shaped the content of their writings as well as its presentation on the Egyptian and Mesopotamian myths. John created a myth of Jesus Christ wholly his own.

Jesus, who is both the direct and the indirect subject of this study, has had two identities. First, he is Jesus of Nazareth as 'Jesus of History' and the second, Jesus the Christ as the 'Christ of faith'.

The first was the historical person, the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter, and the brother of James, Joseph, Simon and Jude and of the unnamed sisters. He lived in Galilee and labored at his father’s trade. He was an observant law-abiding Jew. In his twenties, he attempted a reform of contemporary Judaism from within.

Corruption in Judaism at the time had resulted from Jewish priestly aristocracy compromising principles for policy of accommodation with the heathen Romans. Any reform of Judaism was bound to affect the Roman interests both financial and political. In his zeal, Jesus of Nazareth fell afoul of the Jewish and the Roman authorities for two different reasons but with a single outcome, his execution. His crucifixion was a supreme penalty of a political rebel against Rome despite the roots in religious reform.

The second identity of the Christ of faith is as Son of God. It is distinct from the first. It is a later development since Paul of Tarsus who progressively made him a god from A.D. 48. Matthew, Luke and John mockingly took up Paul’s innovation and gave it prominence by denying Jesus of history authentic humanity. They went about their subversion of Paul by confusing the two identities as if they were identical.

The Greco-Roman Church continued to ignore the 'genres disjunction' in the Gospels and the latent subversive intent of the Evangelists. Such a practice has continued to our own day. ‘Lord Jesus’ may mean Jesus the Christ and/or Jesus of Nazareth. In reality, they are two irreconcilable identities but of one human person.

The subversion of Paul's teaching on Jesus by the Evangelists was not uniform in style. Mark was the only one of the four writers to allow some degree of recognition of the humanity of Jesus, as 'Jesus of Nazareth'. Nevertheless, each of the four Gospel writers in choosing to write their narratives of Jesus the Christ as classical histories, has made him a ‘fictitious’ persona As such Jesus the Christ became an imaginary construct. He necessarily lacked historicity. Therefore, the Christian Faith centred on the fictional Jesus Christ cannot claim facts of historicity for its basis.

This book, Christ-Hero of the Monomyths, aims to raise awareness of the keenly interested readers or active members of every denomination of Christianity regarding the foundations of their Faith. Those who consider themselves as the witnesses to the Faith have a two-pronged approach to those with a questioning bent of mind. They claim either that the Christian Faith has unshakable historical foundation supported by solid scholarship of over two thousand years, or the circular argument, that Faith does not need any justification other than Faith itself. It is a gift of God freely given and accepted with profound humility and gratitude. To ask for factual or historical justification, for this group, is to be ungracious towards the Divine Giver and to cast doubts on the integrity of the Church. Put simply, it is a sin of intellectual pride.

The claim for genuine historical foundation for the Christian Faith bases itself on the historical veracity of the New Testament to begin with and on the support of the writings of the Fathers of the Church including the teachings of the Popes and the Councils down the centuries.[2] The Epistles do not provide any historical foundation for the Faith. They are personal thoughts and musings of what is of interest to the writers. The Gospels and the Acts of Apostles are demonstrably imitations of the classical histories in genre with their own conceptual designs. They have a few historical details. Even these undergo imaginative reshaping to such an extent that they cease to be historical and degenerate into the ‘fictional’ and the ‘fictitious’.

What theological and scriptural scholarship has done over many centuries is to uphold and excuse the beliefs and practices of the authoritarian Roman Church. Under pain of excommunication and isolation, the scholars have been singing the same cacophony again and over again. They have lost freedom of thought and expression from the time Christianity became the State Religion of the Empire. More damagingly, they seem to have lost the courage of their convictions. Tap on the ‘solid scholarship’ you can hear it profoundly hollow.

The other approach to the doubters is to deny any need for justification for the Faith. ‘It’s a matter of Faith. Your eternal salvation depends on it,’ seems to excuse one from the obligation to explain why anyone should accept anything at all on blind trust. To link one’s eternal salvation to unquestioning Faith is to demean the concept of salvation itself. Religious practices and rituals arising from irrational Faith are indeed superstitious. They are meaningless and cannot be rationally justified.[3]

If Faith is the gift of God, so is our intellectual curiosity to ask questions and try to make sense of God and his relationship with us. These two need not be opposed to each other. Yet when Faith is blind and its basis is unquestionable and irrational, it turns into as an insult to our humanity. It is opposed to reason. On the other hand, when intelligent study and reflection sustain Faith, they transform it into a lifelong commitment to worthy values, the core of which is the Golden Rule. Such Faith and reason go hand in hand. Such Faith is an honour to God whom Jesus introduces to us as ‘our Father in heaven’.

The Christian Churches of myriad hues have lost credibility through their want of integrity. They have failed repeatedly to acknowledge the ‘fictional’ and ‘fictitious’ foundations of their Faith. They have denied truth to their faithful. ‘Blind mouths’ themselves, they have fed their followers tall stories as divine revelation about the divinity of Jesus Christ and the whole of the ‘deposit of Faith’.[4] A deceptive Church can never be authentic and credible. Its claim to authority to teach infallibly on matters of faith and morals is forfeit. Such an organization trapped as it is in the nets of power and wealth, renders its very existence parlous indeed!

My two books jointly are an effort at creating an awareness of the bases of Christian Faith. They single-mindedly aim to help searching Christians to distinguish fact from fiction. I have tried to provide the service not through more dogmas, anathemas and sentimental trivia, but in seriously studying the genres of the Gospels and the Acts and in identifying the myths, mysteries and magic in them.

My motivation has its source in my commitment to Jesus of Nazareth and in my experience of living as a practicing Catholic for almost seventy-nine years. As I grew in age (and hopefully in wisdom!), I discovered that the centre of my Faith was Jesus of Nazareth and not the Christ, that Jesus Christ was a pretender foisted on the back of Jesus of Nazareth by institutionalised Christianity and its champion and founder, Paul of Tarsus!

I am now sharing my discovery with you, my readers. The Gospels feign Classical Histories has answered the question about the genre of the books that comprise the core of the New Testament. The genre identifies what kind of texts the books are and how to read them for meaning the authors intended to communicate. Christ-Hero of the Monomyths, by going beyond the genre of classical histories into the genre of monomyth, helps to dissect further the content and the presentation of the books so that their fictional nature can no longer be a matter of doubt.

The first Chapter, A Crumbling Venetian Mask, is a fanciful story about the current state of the Church. It traces the crumbling process of Christianity from the time it took a wrong turn and chose to follow Paul of Tarsus. The circular story travels down from the time of historical Jesus, distorted as the Christ. It follows the betrayal of Jesus of Nazareth by Paul and a series of betrayals by aliens calling themselves the ‘Vicars of Christ on earth’. The narrative touches our own times and threatens to snake into the future like an actual circular story.

At the root of Christianity, there is a falsehood that Christ is God Incarnate and that the New Testament is the Word of God. Equally real is its heathen heart. It becomes increasingly evident as we progress through the study of magic, mysteries and myth in the Gospels and the rituals of Christian worship.

The second chapter on the Christian Magic and Mysteries deals with the meaning and characteristics of magic. It notes the difference between sympathetic and antipathetic magic and gives a brief exposé of the Babylonian and Egyptian antecedents of it. These find their way into the Bible and the New Testament, in particular into the Gospels and the Acts of Apostles. Mysteries are ritualized magic. The Roman Church and the Orthodox too, have Sacraments and Sacramentals all of which are magical applications or extensions.

The third Chapter on the Heathen Myths in Christianity explains the meaning and characteristics of myths and goes into the pre-Biblical myths. There it explores the most influential Babylonian and Egyptian myths. Next, an analysis of the three important Biblical myths follows. These are the creation myth of the Genesis, Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac and the Ten Commandments. These embody the rejection and/or correction of the pre- Biblical myths. This discussion leads to myths in the New Testament. Chronologically, Paul of Tarsus sets the precedent, while the Gospels, the Acts and the non-Pauline Epistles follow it.

The fourth Chapter on Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke demonstrates that the Gospels do not merely refer to pagan myths; they structurally imitate them in mythologizing the infancy of Jesus Christ. The pattern they follow is of the classic monomyth sequence of three movements and seventeen phases.

The fifth Chapter on the Public Life of Jesus Christ is what the three Synoptics together work at a complete sequence of the monomyth. The genre tells us that the public life is fictitious as it is humanly impossible. However, the myth sequence shows us how the Gospel writers went about to make their narrative fictitious.

The sixth Chapter on the Passion of the Christ also follows the same monomyth sequence. Every Synoptic makes his contribution. It is the last of them, Luke, who makes a sustained effort to complete the whole sequence. If the Passion of the Christ is a monomyth, then the unavoidable conclusion is that it is sadly ‘fictitious’ too. The only residual historical detail is that Pontius Pilate, the Procurator of Judaea from A.D. 26 to 36, sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. Everything else is an imaginary and imaginative overlay to create a near perfect Euripidean tragedy.

The seventh chapter explores the myth of Christ unique to John. In the ‘signs’ he uses the two levels of the text, the foreground and the subtext, to present a telling attack on the heathen gods and goddesses. In the ‘words’, John once again impressively expresses the basis of his faith in Jesus Christ and in the ‘deeds’ he gives the final understanding of what ‘belief’ in Jesus Christ really meant to him. However, the Christ myth is entirely John’s original creation. One may admire John’s literary creativity, yet not necessarily subscribe to his faith.

The eighth Chapter on the Christian Creed exposes how the myths traced to Paul of Tarsus and the New Testament gradually metamorphose into ‘Symbols of Faith’. These are the creedal formulae, carefully crafted, not to clarify the truth but to obfuscate it. They ensure that everybody says the same things word for word. If this reminds my readers of training a parrot to speak, it certainly is not far from the truth.

The ninth Chapter is an exposé of the Values of Jesus of Nazareth. They together may rightly be termed as the Way of Jesus. Once again, the Christ of faith must necessarily be distinguished from Jesus of history. By carefully panning off the dross of the ‘fictional’ and the ‘fictitious’, we are able to gather together the priceless Golden Rule, the values of Jesus of history. These relate to God, to ethics, to the community, to the individual self and to material goods. The values of Jesus come under the overarching Great Commandment.

The tenth Chapter on Jesus and Christianity reflects on how traditional Christianity is alien to the thinking of Jesus of Nazareth. It takes the reader into areas such as the concept of God, the Son of God, the Church, the Christian Mysteries, the Ten Commandments and the After-Life, as it asks what Jesus of Nazareth would have made of them. There are his surprising thoughts to consider.

The eleventh Chapter on the Community of Jesus closes this study. It draws the conclusions together and asks if the Community of Jesus can coexist with the Roman Catholic hierarchical Church. The answer is in three parts. The Community of Jesus and the authoritarian superstructure, with a theocratic Pope as its head, cannot coexist. The good news is that the Community of Jesus as the People of God is alive and active, while the superstructure is only a façade, once pretty, yet lifeless as a crumbling Venetian mask.

The architecture, art, music, liturgical theatre and literature, despite their inspiration from heathen mythology, do not pose any harm unless taken literally. The Community would need to be constantly aware that these are pagan myths in action. With right perspective, they can lift the participants to heights of aesthetic joy.

Finally, the true core of the Church is distinct from the façade. It is the Community of Jesus. It is ever young, active and growing. It will survive when the façade has crumbled away into dust as the ravages of decadence become increasingly apocalyptic. Something relevant shall replace it.

The title, Christ-Hero of the Monomyths, is intended to draw attention to the heathen origins of Christ and of Christianity. Some of the fundamentalist Christian sects have accused the Roman Catholic Church of being heathen and idolatrous, even worse. In all truth, heathenism and the consequent idolatry originate in the New Testament itself through its myths and magic. The Roman Church has been a willing apostle of heathenism, so have been all the Christian denominations and sects. There is no good reason for any of them to feel superior to the others. They ought to look into the mirror before they cast the stones at the others.

To be aware of such origins helps to appreciate what is truly valuable in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. We can now take him more seriously and honour him, love him and follow him more closely.

The audience of this book is primarily general readers. If they are Christians and sincere seekers after the truth and quite troubled by