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MISCELLANEOUS CONCLUDING REMARKS – by ML

Book 1: Massive Parallelisms


In my trilogy’s first book, Buddhism’s Relation to Christianity ( 2010 ), there are a
number of radical articles and reviews of radical works, all of them having a bearing on
the many significant parallelisms between Buddhism and Christianity. Here is one more
important example of a significant parallelism:
For instance, when we consider the parallelisms between the Buddhist story of ‘Änanda
asking for a drink of water from the outcaste woman at the well’ and the Christian episode
of ‘Jesus asking for a drink of water from the Samaritan woman at the well’ (John 4:4-26),
there are serious questions of whether the Buddhist story influenced the New Testament
story, or vice versa.
The story of ‘Änanda and the Outcaste Woman at the Well’ is the one and only such
story, involving ‘man’, ‘woman’, and ‘well’, in all of Buddhist literature. However, in the
‘Old Testament’ (Septuagint) there are a number of episodes of men meeting women at the
well – all but one of them concerned with man-woman “fructification” – and even this
exception (1 Samuel 9:3-14) is treated as an “aborted” betrothal type-scene – the possible
fructification was unavailed in this episode, striking “a faintly ominous note”:
The deflection of the anticipated type-scene somehow isolates Saul, sounds a faintly
ominous note that begins to prepare us for the story of the king who loses his kingship
who will not be a conduit for the future rulers of Israel, and who ends skewered on
his own sword.*
_______________
*Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1981),
p. 81.
Alter’s statement that Saul “will not be a conduit for the future rulers of Israel” simply
informs us that this “aborted” betrothal type-scene foreshadows the king’s failure to ensure
for himself a long line of future royal descendants.
Thus, consider such betrothal type-scenes in the Jewish Bible as:
Genesis 24:12 ff. (Rebecca [Isaac]),
Genesis 29:1 ff. (Rachel & Lea [Jacob]),
Exodus 2:15 ff. (Sepphora [Moses]),
1 Samuel 9:3 ff. (no one [Saul]),
Ruth 2:8 ff. (Ruth [Boaz]).
All of these betrothal type-scenes convey the bedrock belief in the Jewish Bible, itself,
that it is a great blessing for a woman to become pregnant and give birth to children – and
for their tribes to have myriad descendants!
But consider how different the so-called ‘betrothal type-scenes’ have become in the
Buddhist and Christian ‘Women at the Well’ episodes. Änanda asks Prak®itï, the outcaste
woman at the well, for a drink of water, and she becomes sexually infatuated with him.
With the help of his supernatural anti-sex powers and the Dharma, the Buddha manages to
protect Änanda from her advances and eventually to convert the young woman to the
disciplined, celibate life of a Buddhist nun (!), where she is able to overcome her former
sexual infatuation, replacing it with pure sisterly love for Brother Änanda. So no children!

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The episode of the ‘Samaritan Woman at the Well’ is also clearly not in the positive
tradition of the “Old Testament” betrothal type-scene. Jesus is not as overtly critical of sex
as is the Buddha, but there is absolutely no sense, either, of Jesus acting as a marriage
counselor for the Samaritan woman. So the Buddhist and Christian ‘Women at the Well’
episodes are monastic, celibate negative inversions of “Old Testament” (pro-married sex)
betrothal type-scenes. Of course, these stories are allegorical, not historical.
While the authors of the New Testament gospels have generally fashioned their stories
in fundamental relation to stories in their “Old Testament” (Septuagint), John’s negative
inversion of the ‘Woman at the Well’ episode strikes a distinctly divergent note.
Now, Western scholars in general have concerned themselves only with John 4:4-26’s
relation to the “Old Testament”, being either unaware of the similar Buddhist version of
the ‘Woman at the Well’ episode, or if aware, dismissing it as irrelevant. Aiken doesn’t
mention the parallelisms between the Buddhist and Christian ‘Women at the Well’ stories
in his book, The Dhamma of Gotama the Buddha and the Gospel of Jesus the Christ (1900).
The Buddhist episode,‘Änanda and the Outcaste Woman at the Well’, is in early Sanskrit
versions of the Divyävadäna and then, ca. 7th / 8th century CE, in the Chinese language and
later translations from Chinese into Tibetan. David Rounds, in the opening Abstract of his
article, “Rescuing Änanda: An Overview of the Åüra≥gama Sütra”, Religion East & West 7
(October 2007), pp. 75-95, stresses the importance of this Mahäyäna work in East Asia:
Abstract: The Åüra≥gama Sütra, little known in the West even among Buddhists,
is nevertheless a major text in the Mahayana tradition of East Asia, where for many
centuries it has been widely esteemed for its compelling narrative, its rhetorical
brilliance, and its profound examination of the workings of the mind.
And on p. 79:
[T]he Åüra≥gama has been widely accepted in China as canonical for well over a
thousand years.
Anyone wishing to make a serious study of this sütra, in English translation, may consult
The Åüra≥gama Sütra: With Excerpts from the Commentary by the Ven. Master Hsüan Hua
– A New Translation (Ukiah, CA: Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2009).
Prof. James A. Benn reviewing this publication in the Journal of Chinese Philosophy
38, 4, (2011), pp. 673-675, noted that, compared with the other translations of it available
in English, the BTTS’s publication is the best. Yet, he says, it still doesn’t make full use of
the most recent academic research available. Benn even expresses his view, shared with
some other academics, that this sütra was not a Chinese translation of any Indian work:
Because of conflicting evidence regarding its provenance, and because the text seems
to owe so much to other sources, modern scholars (including myself) have concluded
that the work is not a translation of an Indian scripture but an “apocryphal” sütra
that was fabricated in China at the beginning of the eighth century.1
_______________
1
See my recent article for some of the issues involved and a brief overview of
previous scholarship on the text: “Another Look at the Pseudo-Åüra≥gama Sütra,”
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 68, no. 1 (2008): 57-89. [Benn’s footnote]

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The presumption by Benn and some other scholars that the Chinese version of the
Åüra≥gama Sütra was fabricated in China – not based on any Indian version/s –
seems threatened by a recent (December 6, 2017) posting by Wikipedia of an academic
note (2010) from China, with the following information about this sütra:

The dating of this Indian palm-leaf manuscript to the Tang Dynasty would fit in
with the fascinating possibility that it was the famous Chinese Buddhist monk,
Xuanzang, touring the whole of India, in the seventh century CE, from North to
South, in order to collect manuscripts, who brought this same Sanskrit sütra back
with him, when he returned to China.
But whether or not the South Indian palm-leaf manuscript in the Peng Xuefeng
Memorial Museum turns out to be verified as an original Sanskrit version of the
Åüra≥gama Sütra, I support Rounds and Ven. Master Hsüan Hua on other grounds.
The scholars who have doubted that there was a Sanskrit original for this Chinese
sütra must be asked certain questions: From where do they think this sütra’s framing
story of ‘Änanda and the Outcaste Woman at the Well’ came from? Are these scholars
aware of the studies of the parallelisms between the Buddhist and Christian versions?
Have they read Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative? Or J. Edgar Bruns’
“Ananda: The fourth evangelist’s model for ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’?”?
After all, the Fourth Gospel, significantly, is the only gospel which has the story of
the ‘Samaritan Woman at the Well’ – and Bruns’ article convincingly reveals the
intimate relation which exists between Buddhist and Christian ‘Women at the Well’
episodes.
From my paradigmatic frame, the answers to these question are as follows:
The story of ‘Änanda and the Outcaste Woman at the Well’ and the New Testament’s
story of the ‘Samaritan Woman at the Well’ were both created in the same century
CE (the second) – and both of them, by Buddhist literary scholars (disbanded
Therapeutæ) who were still associated, at least peripherally, with the Great Library
of Alexandria – an association which stretched back some 400 years to the early
part of the third century BCE. Around the beginning of the second century CE,
the disbanded Buddhist Therapeutæ morphed into “primitive Christians”. Thus the
source of both the Buddhist and (crypto-Buddhist) Christian ‘Women at the Well’
stories can be traced back to that literary womb house, the Royal Library of
Alexandria. Therefore, the Åüra≥gama Sütra’s framing story of Änanda and Prak®itï
and its Mahäyäna elaboration, were certainly not fabricated ab initio in China!

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As I see it, the development of Mahäyäna begins, in the early third century BCE,
with the first arrival of Buddhist scholars in Alexandria, where the monks would have
been faced with the expectation of Alexandrians that they would join the Greek and Egyptian
citizens in their regular worshiping of, and sacrificing to, the city’s syncretistic idols.
But the Buddhists were no idol worshipers, and their paramount precept was to abstain
from killing any sentient creature!
I have already argued, earlier, that in order to avoid such a calamitous situation,
the Buddhists became Judaism’s first ‘semi-proselytes’, as the Jews were the only citizens
of the city who were reportedly exempted from this idol worshiping.
I have also argued that in becoming the Jews’ first ‘semi-proselytes’, the Buddhist
monks were hiding their real intentions of hoping to propagate Buddhism! Though the
monks seemed, also, to have been open to incorporating congenial ideas they found in the
Jewish Bible in its Greek translation, the Septuagint.
Three aspects of the Buddhist scholars’ decision to become ‘semi-proselytes’ of Jews –
a decision which, years later, transformed crypto-Buddhism into “Christianity”– need to
be emphasized:
1) This plainly demonstrates their acceptance of the principle of the ‘White Lie’,
though it was given the euphemistic title of ‘Upäya-Kauåalya’ (‘Skill-in-Means’).
2) This acceptance of the principle of ‘Upäya-Kauåalya’ opened the floodgates,
in later centuries, for all kinds of questionable behavior by even Bodhisattvas:
it becomes all right under certain circumstances for Bodhisattvas to kill people,
or to abrogate the principle of celibacy and cohabit with a woman for years!
Do we not see the same principle at work in the earliest Christian heresies?
3) But the strangest of all fictions is one in which I have identified the true meaning
of the phrase which Albert J. Edmunds discussed (see above, pp. 33-35), in 1906,
concerning the Buddha / Christ remaining on earth “unto the end of the æon”:
ho Christos menei eis ton aiöna = tathägato kappaµ ti††heyya
the Christ abides to the æon[’s-end] Tathägata to-æon[’s-end] remains

A kindred sentiment appears at the conclusion of Matthew:


“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the æon.”
Even though I am greatly indebted to Edmunds, surely one of the great theologians of the
twentieth century, I believe he did not understand the depth of this Buddhist phrase which
the author of the Fourth Gospel used. It is an ultra Mahäyäna phrase! The greatest problem
the Mahäyänists faced was that their inflated vow to defer their individual parinirvä∫as until
after all beings have been “saved” by ‘the end of the æon’ (Päli, kappa; Sanskrit kalpa)
would seem to endanger the very reputation of the Buddha, himself. After all, he remained
on earth for only 80 years – never again to be reborn!
Had Edmunds understood this context, he never would have translated John 12:34 as:
“We have heard out of the law, that the Christ abideth forever [eis ton aiöna, for the æon]”
(see above, page 33 [his meta-page 13]). Edmunds’ use of the word ‘forever’ mistranslates!
And he doesn’t challenge the word ‘eternity’ in the translation of the Armenian version of
John 12:34, in the 2nd paragraph of his note 18 on his meta-page 26 [my page 36], above.

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Donald S. Lopez, Jr., in “A Prayer for the Long Life of the Dalai Lama”, Buddhism in
Practice: Abridged Edition, ed. by Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Princeton Readings in Religions
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), pp. 133-134, gives, in brief, an account of a
Mahäyänist story whose author’s effort to throw blame on poor Änanda is almost comical:
The Buddha is said to have remarked to his attendant and cousin, Änanda, that a
buddha has the power to prolong his life almost indefinitely. Änanda, however, did
not take the hint and beseech the Buddha to live for an eon. Some time later the
same day, the Buddha announced to Änanda that he would die three months hence.
Änanda immediately reminded the Buddha of his earlier remark and implored him
not to pass into nirvä∫a but rather remain in the world for the welfare of all beings.
The Buddha explained that he would have prolonged his life if Änanda had only
asked him earlier, but that now it was too late, the time for making such a request
had passed. His impending death, says the Buddha, is the fault of Änanda, and he
goes on to remind him of all the times in the past that he had suggested to Änanda
that he could live for an eon, and that each time Änanda had failed to ask him to do
so (Dïgha Nikäya II.115-20).
If someone were to ask me how I know that the Buddhist principle of ‘Upäya-Kauåalya’
was not in use before the third century BCE, my answer would be ‘I don’t “know” in any
conclusive, direct way – I am only theorizing abductively, indirectly’. Let me, therefore,
present my hypothetical answer in the form of a theorem:
Alexandrian Library Theorem No. 6 which proposes that prior to the third century BCE
arrival of Buddhist scholars in the Royal Library, Buddhism had no such principle as
‘Upäya-Kauåalya’.
I am not simply claiming this out of thin air. I wonder how many Buddhist scholars have
read Professor J. Duncan M. Derrett’s articles, “Privileged Lies,” Brahma-vidya: Adyar
Library Bulletin 44-45, Festschrift for K. K. Raja (1980-1981), pp. 285-292, as well as his
“Mußä-väda-virati: A Piece of Buddhist Casuistry,” Vishveshvaranand Indological Journal
18 (1980), pp. 277-284, both of which studies were then superseded by his online article
“Musäväda-virati and ‘privileged lies’ ”, Journal of Buddhist Ethics 13 (2006), pp. 1 -17.
Let me quote the opening Preamble of Derrett’s 2006 article which comments on the
rules of early Buddhism against ‘lying’. The Preamble concludes with the declaration
that, in early times, rules allowing privileged lies are “totally missing from Buddhism”:
Preamble
The four components of micchä-väcä (“wrong speech”)2 – that is lies (specifically
“conscious lying”), vulgar abuse, backbiting, and idle chatter – can hardly ever
have hindered the average talker. However, “A liar should have a good memory”
(a maxim used by Quintilian). The Cretans were famous for lying (Titus 1:12) and
the Parthians were champion liars (Horace, Epistle 2.1, 112). The Old Israel was,
we are told complacently, well equipped with lies, and proud of it.3 People who are
lacking independence will find lying essential. Malicious comments, too, find ready
ears (Horace, Satires 1.3, 38-75). Modern “soaps” present characters of all ages
lying imaginatively and with verve. Early Christians developed the virtue of
truthfulness on slender authority, for so had their Jewish background.4 Judeo-
Christianity presented “false accusation” as a malady (Luke 19:8; 2 Timothy 3:3;

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Titus 2 :3 ) and how to punish false witnesses preoccupied their predecessors
(Deuteronomy 19:16, 18; Psalms 7:12, 35:11; Temple Scroll 61:7-11). We may compare
the Vinaya’s rich material on “wrong speech” with the meager Jewish halakhic
(traditional normative) and sectarian material on the same subject, for if they are of
equal antiquity they are quite dissimilar, and each may throw light on the other.5
A key is to be found in “privileged lies,” present in Judaism, Christianity, and even
more significantly in Hinduism, but totally missing from Buddhism. [Emphasis added]
Notes
2
Majjhima-nikäya, iii.73; cf. väcäya adhammacariyä-visamacariyä (Majjhima-
nikäya, i.286). To practice “right speech” (sappurisä väcä) is to abstain from the
entire series (Majjhima-nikäya, iii.23; cf. 230).
3
E. Hershey Sneath (1927:183) with abundant citations. W. D. Paterson in
J. Hastings (1900:113). Emphasis may be placed on John 1:47.
4
2 Samuel 15:6; Psalms 7:14, 15:2, 24:4, 34:13-141, 120:3, 119:118; Proverbs
19:22, 30:6; Isaiah 59:13; Hosea 7:1; Micah 2:11. Neziqin 13.50-62 in Lauterbach
(1961:105) (stealing hearts of people).
5
Popular works on Buddhist ethics include Tachibana (1980, ch. 18) and
Saddhatissa (1970:106-108). These abstain from comparison save that Tachibana
gives abundant references to Hindu “privileged lies” at p. 250, n. 1.
References
Hastings, J. (ed.). Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3. Edinburgh: Clark, 1900.
Lauterbach, J. Z. (ed.). Mekilta of Rabbi Ishmael, vol. 3. Philadelphia: Jewish
Publication Society of America, 1933, 1961.
Saddhatissa, H. Buddhist Ethics. London: Allen & Unwin, 1970.
Sneath, E. Hershey. The Evolution of Ethics. New Haven: Yale University Press,
1927.
Tachibana, S. The Ethics of Buddhism. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926, 1980.
Derrett continues in the next paragraph after his Preamble:
¶ A privileged lie cannot exist where (1) lies are totally forbidden, or (2) lying is so
common that no excuse for it is expected. A lie is “privileged” where it is commonly
excused, granted that lying in general is reprehended. A good illustration is to tell a
terminally ill patient that there exist hopes of his recovery. In a system knowing
privileged lies these are usually harmless to the hearer. The answer “Not at home”
is conventional, a piece of politeness. “I do not know” may well be a lie, but may
avoid much trouble. In Buddhism, where there are no privileged lies, one may
conclude that lies are so injurious that no convenience can excuse lying. One may
confirm this from other indications, but to tell the tale a series of comparisons is
called for. If Judaism and Christianity provide material, Hinduism, approximating
to the matrix from which Buddhism sprung, is more interesting. If Hindu “privileged
lies” may do calculable harm, the victim’s convenience is ignored.
Of course, Derrett, in stating above that “In Buddhism, [...] there are no privileged lies”,
is only referring to the earliest stages of Buddhism – before the Mahäyäna “heresies”.

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In early Theraväda Buddhism no one would have argued against each precept of the
five, eight, or ten series of precepts being held as an uncompromising ideal for a person’s
behavior – and this began well over two thousand years before Kant came up with his
Categorical Imperative. But with the rise of the Mahäyäna schools of Buddhism, all kinds
of loopholes were dreamt up.
In Mahäyäna, not only the Buddha, himself, is often given the extraordinary deference
due to a king, but prominent monks are arrayed in splendor and are considered worthy of
sitting on the highest of seats! So much for Buddhist Precept No. 9! However, the much
later crypto-Buddhist “St. Luke” shows a preference for the earlier Theraväda attitude:
Luke 22:25-26
[Jesus said to his disciples:] 25 In this world, kings lord it over their subjects;
and those in authority are called their country’s “Benefactors”. 26 Not so with you:
on the contrary, the highest among you must bear yourself like the youngest,
the chief of you, like a servant. – The New English Bible
I’ve suggested that Mahäyäna started first in Alexandria, in the early third century BCE,
when Buddhism, there, adopted the principle of ‘upäya-kauåalya’ as a necessary instrument
of Buddhist proselytism in the West. Buddhism, then, for a period of almost three centuries,
went underground, masquerading as a Jewish co-ed monastic sect, the Essenes / Jessæans,
in both Egypt (the Therapeutæ) and in Palestine (the Qumranite monks and nuns and
their married followers – the laity – spread around the country). The Essenes / Jessæans,
in Egypt and Palestine, finally metamorphosed into Christianity, around the beginning of
the second century CE.
What would disprove my ‘Alexandrian Library Theorem No. 6’ is persuasive evidence
of Buddhism’s use of the term ‘upäya-kauåalya’ prior to the third century BCE.
Prestige of Plato’s Ideas Influenced Buddhist Acceptance of ‘Upäya-Kauåalyanism’
Neil Godfrey’s article, “How Plato Inspired Moses: Creation of the Hebrew Bible”
< https://vridar.org/2018/11/13/plato-and-the-creation-of-the-hebrew-bible-2/ >
which comments on one of Russell E. Gmirkin’s epoch-making books, Plato and
the Creation of the Hebrew Bible [PCHB] (New York: Routledge, 2016), is filed under
‘Gmirkin: Plato and Creation of the Hebrew Bible’, in Godfrey’s blog, ‘VRIDAR ’:
“Plato’s Laws provides the only example in antiquity of an ethical or
national literature comparable to the Hebrew Bible. . . .”
One may therefore reasonably propose that the biblical authors not only found
in Plato’s Laws a blueprint for the creation of a persuasive legal code, but a
mandate and program for the creation of an authoritative national literature
intended to supplement and bolster the laws of the Torah. (Gmirkin, 264)
After having demonstrated the many details, themes and values that the books of
the Hebrew Bible share with Greek literature, practices and ideas, Russell Gmirkin
concludes with a chapter examining how closely the biblical canon appears to match
Plato’s recommendations for a national curriculum. There are certainly Canaanite
and Mesopotamian fingerprints in the “Old Testament” but these Scriptures are unlike
anything else produced in the ancient Near East. The Hellenistic heritage explains
that difference.

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The ancient Judean and then Christian authors used to say that Plato got his best
ideas from Moses. Gmirkin’s thesis is that the evidence points to the borrowing
being in the other direction, that the Judean authors of the Bible found their inspiration
in Plato.
I doubt that any Westerner can read Plato’s Laws and not at some point think of
a comparison with the Bible. I certainly could not avoid the comparisons. [...]
Laws had an ancient and divine origin
Gmirkin [...] emphasizes the importance to Plato that the new laws should not
appear to be innovations. On the contrary, myths had to be composed to give the laws
an air of great antiquity and divine origin. The peoples’ ancestors, it must be taught,
had always kept these laws. PCHB quotes one of several key passages from Laws:
If there exist laws under which men have been reared up and which (by the
blessing of Heaven) have remained unaltered for many centuries, so that there
exists no recollection or report of their ever having been different from what
they now are, then the whole soul is forbidden by reverence and fear to alter
any of the things established of old. By hook or by crook, then, the lawgiver
must devise a means whereby this shall be true of his State. (Plato, Laws
7.798a-b) (Gmirkin, 254)
Plato was imagining a brand new colony being established with a perfect start. The
citizens were to be new arrivals into the territory and to be taught that they were the
descendants of the original inhabitants divinely commissioned to restore the ancient
city or “nation”. The new settlement was to be divided into twelve nominal tribes.
Laws to be presented through a charter myth
A third goal was to create a charter myth for those divine laws in the dramatic
narrative form of a foundation story that forged a powerful sense of national
identity in those who adopted this literary narrative as their own historical
past as descendants of the ancient children of Israel. The refounding of the
Jewish nation in the early Hellenistic Era, with new civic and religious
institutions and a new constitution and laws, was thus successfully portrayed
as a new edition of the ancient writings of Moses, the divine legislator, educator
and founder of the ancient Jewish nation, in line with the Platonic legislative
agenda. (Gmirkin, 262)
Gmirkin argues that a Judean scribal elite took up the task of fulfilling Plato’s ideal
from around the year 270 BCE in the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt. It follows
that the books comprising the Jewish Scriptures were composed within a relatively
short span of time and not, as has long been believed, over centuries.
Although Plato’s Laws promised eternal fame to any legislator who followed
his bold legislative plans (12.969a-b), Plato also said it was essential that the
legislators contrive to portray the laws as having been observed for untold
centuries (7.798a-b), a goal that would seemingly require the legislators to
obscure their role to future generations. The incompatible objectives of
legislative fame and anonymity was historically achieved for the Seventy of
ca. 270 BCE, who were credited with the Septuagint and honored at Alexandria
by subsequent generations as inspired prophets and legislators on a par with

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the seventy elders at Mount Sinai (Philo, Life of Moses 2.41-42), but in the
role of translators, not authors. (Gmirkin, n. 113, p. 289)
And it worked
Plato imagined his ideal colony settling in a brand new (unoccupied) land,
beginning with the young who had been separated from their parents, in order to
work. Falling short of such an “ideal”, the Jews have nonetheless been known as the
“people of the book”. Their identity, their history, their religion, their ethics and
laws, are all defined by “the book”, a book which has long been known to contain
echoes of Plato.
Jewish, Christian and “pagan” authors alike more-or-less independently
rediscovered the extensive and striking commonalities between Plato and
the Hebrew Bible. It is remarkable how often scholars in the Hellenistic and
Roman eras were compelled to comment on the striking parallels between
the Hebrew Bible and Greek literature, especially Plato’s dialogues.
Comparisons between Platonic philosophy and biblical teachings were
made by Jewish intellectuals such as Aristobulus (fl. ca. 150 BCE), Philo of
Alexandria (20 BCE - 50 CE), and Flavius Josephus (37 - ca. 100 CE); Church
Fathers such as Justin Martyr (ca. 150 CE), Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-
215 CE), Eusebius of Caesarea (263-339 CE), and Augustine (354-130 CE);
and even Gentile writers such as the Neo-Pythagorean philosopher Numenius
of Apamea (second century CE). Virtually every scholar in antiquity who
was proficient in both Platonic and Mosaic writings agreed that there was a
direct relationship between the two. (Gmirkin, 271)
Book 2: Literary Sources of the New Testament
In my trilogy’s second volume, Mythicism: A Seven-Fold Revelation of the Buddhist
‘Branch’ Grafted onto Jesse’s ‘Lineage Tree’ (2013), the literary sources influencing the
books of the New Testament – an absolutely extraordinary variety of them – are discussed
by a number of distinguished scholars.
In five Sections of the second book, Mythicism, five distinct literary sources of the
New Testament were presented in the following order: 1) the Greek “Old Testament”
(the Septuagint); 2) classical Greek Homeric epics; 3) ancient Egyptian scriptures, written
in hieroglyphics; 4) Buddhist scriptures, written in the Indian languages of Päli and
Sanskrit; and 5) historical works of Philo of Alexandria, Flavius Josephus, and others.
The order in which I will now be dealing with these five literary sources is as follows:
1) Greek “Old Testament”; 2) Buddhist scriptures; 3) Greek (and Latin) classics;
4) ancient Egyptian scriptures; and 5) one of Philo of Alexandria’s historical works.
This is, roughly, the chronological order in which scholars have, over the last two centuries,
taken up the serious study of how each one of these types of sources has provided material
for composing the twenty-seven historical-fictive books of the New Testament.

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First: The “Old Testament” (Septuagint) as a Source of New Testament Narratives
In Mythicism (pp. 41-70), Robert M. Price’s reprinted article there, “New Testament
Narrative as Old Testament Midrash”, is a masterpiece of Biblical research. The following
statement is Price’s later reflection on the overall message of that article:
[...] I realized, after studying much previous research on the question, that virtually
every story in the gospels and Acts can be shown to be very likely a Christian rewrite
of material from the Septuagint, Homer, Euripides’ Bacchae, and Josephus. [...]
A literary origin is always to be preferred to a historical one in such a case. And that
is the choice we have to make in virtually every case of New Testament narrative.
I refer the interested reader to my essay “New Testament Narrative as Old Testament
Midrash,” in Jacob Neusner and Alan Avery-Peck, eds., Encyclopedia of Midrash
[Vol. 1 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2005)]. Of course I am dependent here upon many fine
works by Randel Helms, Thomas L. Brodie, John Dominic Crossan, and others.
None of them went as far as I am going. It is just that as I counted up the gospel
stories which I felt each scholar had convincingly traced back to a previous literary
prototype, it dawned on me that there was virtually nothing left. None tried to argue
for the fictive character of the whole tradition, and each offered some cases I found
arbitrary and implausible. Still, their work, when combined, militated toward a wholly
fictive Jesus story. [...] There may once have been a historical Jesus, but for us there
is one no longer. If he existed, he is forever lost behind the stained glass curtain of
holy myth. At least that’s the current state of the evidence as I see it.*
_______________
*Robert M. Price, “The Quest of the Mythical Jesus”, Jesus Project – Center
for Inquiry; Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion. Retrieved
[by Wikipedia, on] 28 March 2017.
This same mimetic dependence of the New Testament on the Old, is also meticulously
analyzed, in another selection under Section I of Mythicism, by Catholic scholar-priest,
Prof. Thomas Brodie, whose remarkable book, Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus
(Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012), is reviewed by the noted scholar, René Salm,
who comments below on Fr. Brodie’s now circumscribed and censored life:
Thomas L. Brodie
Father Thomas Brodie is, to my knowledge, the first mythicist priest who has
not been defrocked, excommunicated, or worse. He still wears the collar and can be
seen at annual SBL conferences. But he, unfortunately, is no longer permitted to
teach or publish. What a pity, for Fr. Brodie’s decades-long, careful, and detailed
research convincingly shows that the New Testament gospels are heavily indebted
to Jewish scripture – and that Jesus is a mythical figure based on Old Testament
prototypes.
Now, let’s consider this for a moment. Fr. Brodie is a Jesus mythicist, but he is
also the quintessential insider as far as the establishment is concerned: a Catholic
priest, highly trained, fully credentialed, founder-director of the Dominican Biblical
Institute, and with a slew of erudite books and articles to his credit. For the tradition,
the 2012 appearance (as he was nearing retirement) of Beyond the Quest for the

399
Historical Jesus was the first shudder of a nightmare coming true. For with Brodie
it is no longer possible to maintain that Jesus mythicism is strictly an “outside”
phenomenon with no standing in academe.
James F. McGrath
Some Christian apologists, however, refuse to accept this disturbing turn of events.
They still play a very old record where anybody who doubts the historical existence
of Jesus must be a crackpot. Thus, James McGrath can blog a rather hysterical
review of Beyond that treats Brodie more like an uncouth peasant than an erudite
scholar. That Thomas Brodie is far more accomplished than his detractor adds irony
to McGrath’s following over-the-top comments:
. . . bizarre results of taking that approach to the extreme . . . into the realm
of unchecked paralellomania [sic] . . . bizarre extremes . . . botches ancient
authorship completely . . . illustrates the bankruptcy of Jesus mythicism, and
the fact that it has the potential to ruin careers. . . .
Good grief. Well, one has to wonder whose careers McGrath is really worrying
about. . . . After all, he seems to equate the “bankruptcy of Jesus mythicism” with
“the fact that it has the potential to ruin careers.” Maybe that’s what really bothers
him. Perhaps it’s not the bankruptcy of Jesus mythicism (were that even true) that
concerns this super-entrenched pundit, so much as mythicism’s potential to ruin
his career! That is, his legacy, at any rate. . . .*
_______________
*Quoted from René Salm’s critical article, entitled, “Brodie, McGrath, and the
increasing polarization of biblical studies – Pt. 2”, on Salm’s blog, Mythicist Papers:
< www.mythicistpapers.com/2016/.../the-increasing-polarization-of-biblical-studies-pt-2 >;
accessed: 12 Dec. 2018.
Second: Buddhist Scriptures as a Source of New Testament Narratives
In Mythicism, there are ten short reports from Christian Lindtner which were added to his
paradigm-shifting series of eleven “News Bulletins” printed in Buddhism’s Relation to
Christianity. The radical theory underlying all of Lindtner’s articles, is the claim that the
four canonical gospels, “perhaps even the New Testament as a whole”, are, in large part,
imitations (à la Dennis R. MacDonald’s mimesis) of Buddhist stories. This theory of
Lindtner’s was first heralded in an address he gave at an international gathering in Sarnath,
India, in November, 1998, which address was subsequently expanded and then published
as a pamphlet by the Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust, under the title “Buddhism in Relation
to Science and World Religions” (1999).
From many angles of research covered in the three books of my trilogy, the books of
the New Testament are shown to be historical fiction. Though these books are profound
works of literature, they are still works of fiction. And since the New Testament narratives
are replete with allusions to Buddhist stories, as well as to stories in the Septuagint, and
to Homer’s epics, and to the narratives of Euripides, Sophocles, and Plato, among others,
and in the Book of Revelation, to ancient Egyptian narratives, and, finally, to historical
accounts of Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus, it becomes incumbent on researchers
to examine carefully and extensively the well-documented studies of Buddhist influence
on Christianity.

400
Let me emphasize the statement above as follows: In the Vive Voce Examination room
of every Ph.D. candidate doing research on fundamental aspects of ‘Origins of Christianity’
– anywhere in this wide world – there is a large Buddhist elephant present, whose presence
generations of learned professors have either been oblivious of – or are studiously ignoring.
But it really is the duty of such professors to demand of all candidates that they take into
account – and explain – the truly massive parallelisms between Buddhism and Christianity.
It’s time to discard the rhetoric of ‘parallelomaniacs’ (which only provokes the counter-
slur of ‘parallelophobiacs’!).

To those scholars possessing a knowledge


of Sanskrit, and whose minds have not been
limited by traditional boundaries of
Christianity, the very name ‘Gnosticism’
should most strongly suggest to them its
relation to Buddhism. Etymologically, the
word comes to us from Greek. The cognate
word for ‘gnosis’ in Sanskrit is ‘jñäna’, whose
derivative form ‘prajñä’, had, by the first
century CE , come to be enshrined in the
Sanskrit titles of Mahäyäna Buddhism’s most
sacred series of scriptural works, the
Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñä-päramitä)
literature.
Thus it was that Buddhist monks, who
arrived in the Greek kingdoms with their
‘upäya-kauåalyan’ approach to spreading
Buddhism, must have deliberately avoided
identifying themselves with any foreign, pagan
name or term such as ‘Buddha’ or ‘bodhi’.
(Repeated from p. 190, above)

As an illustration of scholars who may be limited by a


lack of knowledge of Sanskrit and Buddhism in their
study of the terms ‘gnosis’, ‘Gnostics’, and
‘Gnosticism’, I reproduce, on the next four pages,
the first two pages of an article by M. David Litwa.
Each of his two pages is repeated twice. In the second
repetition of each page I have substituted bolded
Buddhist expressions for all of Litwa’s ‘gnosis’ words.
I hope that this illustration may be enlightening.
For the details supporting this enlightenment, please
re-read Edward Conze’s brilliant, 3-page article,
“Prajñä and Sophia”, above, pp. 195-197.

401
M. David Litwa, “You Are Gods: Deification in the Naassene Writer and Clement of Alexandria”,
Harvard Theological Review 110:1 (2017), p. 125: [Bolding of Litwa’s ‘gnosis’ words added]

You Are Gods: Deification in the Naassene Writer and Clement of Alexandria
M. David Litwa
Introduction
Currently there is no widespread agreement on what constitutes gnosis or the gnostic
identity in the ancient world.1 The best option, it seems, is to offer a polythetic
classification wherein gnostic thinkers or groups possess a range of characteristics
without any one group or thinker possessing all of them.2 Yet even if widespread
agreement on a set of characteristics were attained, it still would not explain how
gnostic groups emerged, developed, and crafted their own specific identities.
The situation is somewhat different for gnostic thinkers and groups that explicitly
identified themselves as Christian. In this case, we possess abundant comparative
material with other contemporary Christian groups variously called “catholic” and
_______________
1
David Brakke argues that one can use the term “Gnostic” in a narrow sense to identify
a particular Christian group in antiquity (The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early
Christianity [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010] 1-89). In contrast, Geoffrey
S. Smith attempts to prove that “the Gnostic school” and the “Gnostics” are heresiological
constructs “designed to consolidate a variety of unaffiliated Christian groups into one coherent
and manageable category” (Guilt by Association: Heresy Catalogues in Early Christianity
[Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015] 152). European scholars continue to use “gnosis” /
“gnostic” as global terms, with full recognition that these terms are heuristic and part of
secondary (scholarly) discourse (e.g., Roelof van den Broek, Gnostic Religion in Antiquity
[Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013]).
2
For polythetic classification, see J. Z. Smith, Imagining Religion from Babylon to
Jonestown (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982) 4-5. The characteristics need not
be solely doctrinal, but should involve ritual practice, disposition, and mythmaking. See the
“idealized cognitive model” of April D. DeConick (“Crafting Gnosis: Gnostic Spirituality
in the Ancient New Age,” in Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World: Essays in
Honour of John D. Turner [ed. Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus; NHMS 82; Leiden:

The reason that “currently there is no widespread agreement on what constitutes gnosis or
gnostic identity in the ancient world” is because most Western theologians remain ignorant
of Buddhism. Even the Catholic theologian-priest, Fr. Prof. Charles F. Aiken, who deeply
studied Buddhism for his doctoral dissertation, The Dhamma of the Buddha and the Gospel
of Jesus the Christ (published in 1900), was yet unable to break free of Catholic dogma to
grasp significant influences between Buddhism and Christianity. Aiken represents a deep,
but blindered, erudition.
Fr. Prof. J. Edgar Bruns became the very first Catholic theologian-priest to affirm the
profound influence of Buddhism on Christianity, beginning with his very first major book,
The Art and Thought of John, published in 1969, and then in two more books and several
articles, particularly in his amazing study, “Ananda: The fourth evangelist’s model for
‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’?”.

402
I (ML) have replaced all original ‘gnosis’ words in Litwa’s text, below,
with the bolded Buddhist expressions in these brackets { }:

You Are Gods: Deification in the Naassene Writer and Clement of Alexandria
M. David Litwa
Introduction
Currently there is no widespread agreement on what constitutes {budhi} or the
{crypto-Buddhist} identity in the ancient world.1 The best option, it seems, is to
offer a polythetic classification wherein {crypto-Buddhist} thinkers or groups
possess a range of characteristics without any one group or thinker possessing all of
them.2 Yet even if widespread agreement on a set of characteristics were attained, it
still would not explain how {crypto-Buddhist} groups emerged, developed, and
crafted their own specific identities.
The situation is somewhat different for {crypto-Buddhist} thinkers and groups that
explicitly identified themselves as Christian. In this case, we possess abundant compar-
ative material with other contemporary Christian groups variously called “catholic” and
_______________
1
David Brakke argues that one can use the term “{crypto-Buddhist}” in a narrow sense
to identify a particular Christian group in antiquity (The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity
in Early Christianity [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010] 1-89). In contrast,
Geoffrey S. Smith attempts to prove that “the {crypto-Buddhist} school” and the “{crypto-
Buddhists}” are heresiological constructs “designed to consolidate a variety of unaffiliated
Christian groups into one coherent and manageable category” (Guilt by Association: Heresy
Catalogues in Early Christianity [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015] 152). European
scholars continue to use “{budhi}” / “{Buddhist}” as global terms, with full recognition that
these terms are heuristic and part of secondary (scholarly) discourse (e.g., Roelof van den
Broek, Gnostic Religion in Antiquity [Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013]).
2
For polythetic classification, see J. Z. Smith, Imagining Religion from Babylon to
Jonestown (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982) 4-5. The characteristics need not
be solely doctrinal, but should involve ritual practice, disposition, and mythmaking. See the
“idealized cognitive model” of April D. DeConick (“Crafting Gnosis: Gnostic Spirituality
in the Ancient New Age,” in Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World: Essays in
Honour of John D. Turner [ed. Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus; NHMS 82; Leiden:

Fr. Prof. Thomas L. Brodie, as we have seen, is distinguished by being the first Catholic
theologian-priest to affirm (in his 2012 book, Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus)
that Jesus was not a historical person! The Church authorities promptly removed Brodie
from his roles of professor and publishing researcher. And though, in this day and age,
priests who hold such heretical ideas are not burned at the stake, such actions by the Church
against him are totally medieval in nature!
The purpose of my three books on the relation of Buddhism to Christianity has been
to proceed further than either Bruns or Brodie by arguing along with Christian Lindtner
that Christianity really is one of the many limbs of that great Western branch of Buddhism
– crypto-Buddhism. The term ‘gnostic’, after all, is intimately related to the Mahäyäna
term ‘prajñä’ of Prajñäpäramitä fame.

403
126 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW [Litwa’s ‘gnosis’ words have been bolded]
“(proto-)orthodox.” Using such comparative material gives us a better sense of how
one set of gnostics (the Christian ones) emerged and understood the world, sacred texts,
and divine reality in light of competing Christian discourses.
As a tool of comparison, the theme of deification is key. Deification appears in
myths of salvation told by both gnostic and catholic Christians. In these myths, Christians
transcend normally irrefragable human limitations (death, ignorance, subjection to the
passions). Comparing Christian stories of deification is thus one way to tap into a larger
network of similarities and differences between competing Christian movements in the
second century CE.
In this essay, I focus on two roughly contemporary thinkers who cultivated a gnostic
Christian identity: the Naassene writer and Clement of Alexandria.3 Their identity-forming
praxis, as seen in similar mythmaking, allows us to meaningfully classify them as both
Christian and gnostic. Why they generated a similar mythology is based largely on their
absorption of a platonizing metanarrative assisted by a hermeneutic that comprehensively
understood textual and historical phenomena in light of their Christ myth. The goal of
my comparison is to indicate structural points of similarity in Christian gnostic myths
and mythmaking in order to show the process of gnostic Christian identity formation in
action.4
To focus my comparison, I concentrate on the Naassene and Clementine
interpretations of Ps 82:6 (LXX 81:6: “I have said: you are gods, all of you children of
the Most High”).5 Such a focus not only streamlines an ocean of data, but isolates a
particular practice important for identity formation. As is well known, Christians formed
their identities by inscribing themselves into the epic of Jewish scripture.6 By examining
how two thinkers generated a myth of deification from the same Jewish text, we catch
them in the act of constructing similar gnostic Christian identities.
_______________
3
For Clement and gnosis, see Salvatore R. C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria: A Study of Christian
Platonism and Gnosticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971) 142-89; Peter (Panayiotis) Karavites,
Evil, Freedom, and the Road to Perfection in Clement of Alexandria (VCSup 43; Leiden: Brill, 1999)
139-74; Arkadi Choufrine, Gnosis, Theophany, Theosis: Studies in Clement of Alexandria’s
Appropriation of His Background (Patristic Studies 5; New York: Peter Lang, 2002) 21-32; Andrew C.
Itter, Esoteric Teaching in the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria (VCSup 97; Leiden: Brill, 2009)
194-211; Holger Strutwolf, “Theologische Gnosis bei Clemens Alexandrinus und Origenes,” in Zugänge
zur Gnosis: Akten zur Tagung der Patristischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft vom 02.-05.01.2011 in Berlin-
Spandau (ed. Christoph Markschies and Johannes van Oort; Leuven: Peeters, 2013) 91-112, at 93-100;
Brakke, Gnostics, 32-34.
4
The argument is thus not that Clement and the Naassene writer shared similar doctrines, but that
they shared a similar soteriological myth that made sense of their doctrines. Cf. Brakke, Gnostics, 41-45.
5
For a recent introduction to Ps 82 in its Hebrew Bible context, see Peter Machinist, “How Gods
Die, Biblically and Otherwise: A Problem of Cosmic Restructuring,” in Reconsidering the Concept of
Revolutionary Monotheism (ed. Beate Pongratz-Leisten; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011) 189-240.
6
Karen King identifies “the ‘correct’ relationship to Jewish Scripture” as “the single most important
factor in defining normative Christian identity” (The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First
Woman Apostle [Santa Rosa: Polebridge, 2003] 155).

404
126 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW [Litwa’s ‘gnosis’ words have been {Buddhized}]
“(proto-)orthodox.” Using such comparative material gives us a better sense of how
one set of {crypto-Buddhists} (the Christian ones) emerged and understood the world,
sacred texts, and divine reality in light of competing Christian discourses.
As a tool of comparison, the theme of deification is key. Deification appears in
myths of salvation told by both {forms of crypto-Buddhists, the so-called Gnostics} and
catholic Christians. In these myths, Christians transcend normally irrefragable human
limitations (death, ignorance, subjection to the passions). Comparing Christian stories
of deification is thus one way to tap into a larger network of similarities and differences
between competing Christian movements in the second century CE.
In this essay, I focus on two roughly contemporary thinkers who cultivated a {crypto-
Buddhist} Christian identity: the Naassene writer and Clement of Alexandria.3 Their
identity-forming praxis, as seen in similar mythmaking, allows us to meaningfully classify
them as both Christian and {crypto-Buddhist}. Why they generated a similar mythology
is based largely on their absorption of a platonizing metanarrative assisted by a
hermeneutic that comprehensively understood textual and historical phenomena in light
of their Christ myth. The goal of my comparison is to indicate structural points of similarity
in Christian {crypto-Buddhist} myths and mythmaking in order to show the process of
{crypto-Buddhist} Christian identity formation in action.4
To focus my comparison, I concentrate on the Naassene and Clementine
interpretations of Ps 82:6 (LXX 81:6: “I have said: you are gods, all of you children of
the Most High”).5 Such a focus not only streamlines an ocean of data, but isolates a
particular practice important for identity formation. As is well known, Christians formed
their identities by inscribing themselves into the epic of Jewish scripture.6 By examining
how two thinkers generated a myth of deification from the same Jewish text, we catch
them in the act of constructing similar {crypto-Buddhist} Christian identities.
_______________
3
For Clement and {budhi}, see Salvatore R. C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria: A Study of Christian
Platonism and Gnosticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971) 142-89; Peter (Panayiotis) Karavites,
Evil, Freedom, and the Road to Perfection in Clement of Alexandria (VCSup 43; Leiden: Brill, 1999)
139-74; Arkadi Choufrine, Gnosis, Theophany, Theosis: Studies in Clement of Alexandria’s
Appropriation of His Background (Patristic Studies 5; New York: Peter Lang, 2002) 21-32; Andrew C.
Itter, Esoteric Teaching in the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria (VCSup 97; Leiden: Brill, 2009)
194-211; Holger Strutwolf, “Theologische Gnosis bei Clemens Alexandrinus und Origenes,” in Zugänge
zur Gnosis: Akten zur Tagung der Patristischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft vom 02.-05.01.2011 in Berlin-
Spandau (ed. Christoph Markschies and Johannes van Oort; Leuven: Peeters, 2013) 91-112, at 93-100;
Brakke, Gnostics, 32-34.
4
T he argument is thus not that Clement and the Naassene writer shared similar doctrines, but that
they shared a similar soteriological myth that made sense of their doctrines. Cf. Brakke, Gnostics, 41-45.
5
For a recent introduction to Ps 82 in its Hebrew Bible context, see Peter Machinist, “How Gods
Die, Biblically and Otherwise: A Problem of Cosmic Restructuring,” in Reconsidering the Concept of
Revolutionary Monotheism (ed. Beate Pongratz-Leisten; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011) 189-240.
6
Karen King identifies “the ‘correct’ relationship to Jewish Scripture” as “the single most important
factor in defining normative Christian identity” (The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First
Woman Apostle [Santa Rosa: Polebridge, 2003] 155).

405
In the opening paragraph of his Introduction, Litwa proclaims that “[E]ven if wide-
spread agreement on a set of characteristics [of ‘gnosis’ or the ‘gnostic identity’ in the
ancient world] were attained, it still would not explain how gnostic groups emerged,
developed, and crafted their own specific identities.”
If, in the West, theologians and historians of the origins of Christianity would take into
account, and study in depth, the full range of potential Buddhist influences, from the East,
on the origins of Christianity – something which I have been attempting to chart in great
detail throughout the course of three books – then, I believe, such an explanation of how
“gnostic groups emerged, developed, and crafted their own specific identities” will become
apparent, and will be verified “by this token: that it will solve many riddles”!
Thus, in contrast to Litwa, I maintain that a widespread agreement on the set of
characteristics of ‘gnosis’ / ‘budhi’ or the ‘gnostic identity’ / ‘crypto-Buddhist identity’ is
attainable, as well as a credible explanation of how “gnostic [/ crypto-Buddhist] groups
emerged, developed [in the West], and crafted their own specific identities”.
Third: Greek and Latin Classics as Sources of New Testament Narratives
Dennis MacDonald has written an unprecedented series of books revealing the incredible
influence that classical Greek and Latin works have had on New Testament narratives:
The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark (2000);
Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? (2003);
The Gospels and Homer: Imitations in Mark and Luke-Acts (Vol. I) (2014);
Luke and Vergil: Imitations of Classical Greek Literature (Vol. II) (2014);
The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides (2017);
Luke and the Politics of Homeric Imitation: Luke-Acts as Rival to the Aeneid (2019).
In Dennis MacDonald’s interview with Austin Cline, shortly after the publication of his
first book, in 2000 (cf. above, p. 215), MacDonald was asked this question:
[H]ow would you explain how the author [of the Gospel of Mark] could possibly
consciously structure the writing of the Gospel based on the story and symbolic
patterns in BOTH Homeric epics and the Septuagint?
MacDonald answered (above, p. 216):
. . . Mark is an equal opportunity imitator. Mark’s indebtedness to the Septuagint
(the Hebrew Bible in Greek) is profound, extending well beyond the explicit citations.
I hope someday someone will write a commentary that takes into account all of the
literary influences, including, in my view, Homer and at least one play of Euripides
I have not yet studied sufficiently. [Bolding added]
As one can see from MacDonald’s publications listed above, spanning nearly twenty years,
he, himself, has splendidly fulfilled the hope he had with respect to taking into account the
influences of Greek – and even Latin – classics. But as for being aware of “all of the
literary influences”, MacDonald has made no mention of Buddhist or ancient Egyptian
literary influences, let alone such additional literary influences as the astronomical /
astrological (zodiacal) – cf. Bill Darlinson, The Gospel and the Zodiac (London: Duckworth
Overlook, 2007). If MacDonald’s questioner was surprised that the Gospel of Mark’s author
could juggle allusions to TWO literary sources such as the Homeric epics and the Septuagint,
what would his reaction have been to the author’s juggling FIVE, SIX, or more sources?

406
There are explosive seeds of cognitive dissonance hiding among these usually
unacknowledged, surprisingly large number of different literary sources being re-worked
in a process of multiple levels of mimesis by New Testament narratives.
Fourth: Ancient Egyptian Literary Sources of New Testament Narratives

A Brief Summary, So Far


The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible)
should be considered the major, obvious literary source of Jewish
material emulated by the authors of New Testament Narratives.
Classical Greek and Latin literary sources: Prof. Dennis
R. MacDonald has single-handedly raised the study of these
sources of New Testament narratives to an entirely new level.
Dr. Christian Lindtner, in 1998, was the first scholar to note
massive Buddhist literary sources of New Testament narratives.
Egyptian literary sources: Dr. John H. C. Pippy, has single-
handedly directly challenged the theological establishments with
his book, Egyptian Origin of the Book of Revelation (2nd ed.,
2011). These establishments, however, have simply ignored it.
There is, nevertheless, a sizable number of well-qualified
Egyptologists who, in their research of the Egyptian religion,
and its relation to Judaism and Christianity, have been presenting
views which have generally been in consonance with Pippy and
his arguments. But the Egyptologists refrain from arguing
directly with scholars of other disciplines – and theologians are
usually only too happy to ignore the Egyptologists, in return.
So much for interdisciplinary cooperation! On the next two
pages I name some of these Egyptologists, and give short quotes
from their published works which indicate their important views
on the question of Egyptian literary influence on New Testament
narratives.

While Pippy has concentrated only on the Egyptian literary influence on the narratives of
Revelation, D. M. Murdock, in her book, Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Christ Connection
(Seattle: Stellar House Publications, 2009), has dealt with the influence of Egyptian religious
writings on narratives throughout the New Testament.
To emphasize the significance of Murdock’s work, I have reproduced, on the next two
pages, quoted passages by several well-known Egyptologists, weighing in on important
Egyptian literary influences on New Testament narratives, which have been selected from
a much longer list quoted in Murdock’s book, and which were later included in my book,
Mythicism (2013), pp. 98-102.
Please Note below: ‘CIE’ abbreviates Murdock’s book, Christ in Egypt.

407
• Swiss Prof. Erik Hornung (Egyptologist), The Valley of the Kings1 (1990), p. 9, wrote:
[I]t is not improbable that even early Christian texts were influenced by ideas and
images from the New Kingdom religious books. [Quoted in CIE, p. 7]
_______________
1
In English, The Valley of the Kings: Horizon of Eternity (New York, New York: Timken
Publishers, 1990); in German, Das Tal der Könige (München: C.H. Beck, 2002).
• Hornung, in The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West 2 (2001), p. 73, summarized:
Notwithstanding its superficial rejection of everything pagan, early Christianity
was deeply indebted to ancient Egypt. In particular, the lively picture of the ancient
Egyptian afterlife left traces in Christian texts; thus, among the Copts, and later in
Islam, we encounter a fiery hell quite like that of the Egyptians. The descensus
[descent into hell] of Jesus, which played no role in the early church, was adopted
into the official Credo after 359, thanks to apocryphal legends that again involved
Egypt. Christ became the sun in the realm of the dead, for his descent into the
netherworld had its ultimate precursor in the nightly journey of the ancient Egyptian
sun god Re. . . . [Quoted in CIE, p. 429; emphases added]
_______________
2
English translation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001); German original
edition, Das esoterische Ägypten (München: C.H. Beck, 1999).
______________________________
• German Egyptologist Dr. Siegfried Morenz, in Egyptian Religion3 (1973), p. 251, stated:
The influence of Egyptian religion on posterity is mainly felt through Christianity
and its antecedents. [Quoted in CIE, p. 506]
_______________
3
English translation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973); original German edition,
Ägyptische Religion (Stuttgart: W. Koblhammer ,1960).
______________________________
• German Egyptologist Prof. Jan Assmann, in Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt 4
(2005), pp. 115-116, remarked:
“Salvation” and “eternal life” are Christian concepts, and we might think that the Egyptian
myth can all too easily be viewed through the lens of Christian tradition. Quite the
contrary, in my opinion, Christian myth is itself thoroughly stamped by Egyptian tradition,
by the myth of Isis and Osiris, which from the very beginning had to do with salvation
and eternal life. It thus seems legitimate to me to reconstruct the Egyptian symbolism
with the help of Christian concepts. As with Orpheus and Eurydice, the constellation
of Isis and Osiris can also be compared with Mary and Jesus. The scene of the Pietà,
in which Mary holds the corpse of the crucified Jesus on her lap and mourns, is a
comparable depiction of the body-centered intensity of female grief, in which Mary is
assisted by Mary Magdalene, just as Isis is assisted by Nephthys. Jesus also descended
into the realm of death, though he did not remain there. . . . Osiris remained in the
netherworld, but he was resurrected and alive. [Quoted by ML; emphasis added]
_______________
4
English translation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); original German edition,
Tod und Jenseits im alten Ägypten (München: C.H. Beck, 2001).
______________________________

408
• Egyptologist Dr. Ogden Goelet, Jr., translator, along with Dr. Raymond O. Faulkner,
in the sumptuous book, The Egyptian Book of the Dead 5 (1998), p. 18, stated:
The Book of the Dead promised resurrection to all mankind, as a reward for righteous
living, long before Judaism and Christianity embraced that concept. [Quoted in CIE,
p. 376]
_______________
5
The Egyptian Book of the Dead , 2nd edition (San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books
LLC, 1998).
______________________________

• Egyptologist Dr. Bojana Mojsov, in her book, Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God 6
(2005), p. xii, “summarized the Christian effort nicely, bringing it all back to Alexandria,
[. . .] the crucible of Christianity”:
When the Greeks established themselves as rulers in Alexandria (332-30 BC),
they continued to worship Osiris as Sarapis and passed his cult on to the Romans.
Through the Greeks the Hellenized version of the Osiris myth endured in Western
culture. [. . .] It was in Roman Alexandria (30 BC - AD 394) that the new Christian
religion blossomed, inspired by the writings of the Egyptian, Greek and Jewish
philosophers. [Quoted in CIE, p. 431]
_______________
6
Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2005.
______________________________

• The British Classicist Dr. Reginald E. Witt, in Isis in the Graeco-Roman World 7 (1971),
p. 272, stated:
In Hopfner’s invaluable collection of the literary sources, Isis needs more pages
of the Index than any other name. A brief glance at her attributes as there listed
reveals her sharing titles with the Blessed Virgin whom Catholic Christianity has
ever revered as Mother of God. Some of these resemblances may be set aside at
once as commonplace. Yet so many are the parallels that an unprejudiced mind
must be struck with the thought that cumulatively the portraits are alike. Indeed,
one of the standard encyclopedias of classical mythology specifically deals with
‘Isis identified with the Virgin Mary’.
Let us observe a few of the resemblances. Isis and Osiris, as we have so often
seen, are mythologically interfused. In the language of the Roman Church the Blessed
Virgin Mary is ‘sister and spouse of God: sister of Christ’. Christian writers identify
Sarapis with Joseph and then make Isis ‘wife of Joseph’. Like her heathen forebear
the Catholic Madonna wears a diadem. She too is linked with agricultural fertility.
[. . .] [Quoted in CIE, p. 166]
_______________
7
Isis in the Graeco-Roman World (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1971);
republished under the title, Isis in the Ancient World (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1997). [This is peer approval! – ML]
______________________________

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Fifth: Historical Works as Literary Sources of New Testament Narratives
To illustrate how a crucial, fictive episode of the ‘Passion of Jesus Christ’, in the Gospel of Matthew,
is surely a Christian rewrite of an episode in an earlier written historical work, let me reproduce the
astonishing visual juxtaposition of strangely resonant passages from two wildly different written
works: Matt. 27:26-29 and Philo’s historical work, Flaccus, VI.36-39 – first presented by Kenneth
Humphreys, and which was then reproduced by me on p. 286 of Buddhism’s Relation to Christianity.
It is an extraordinarily peculiar example of mimesis:
The Mocking of a Real Jewish King[1]
The death of Herod the Great’s son, Philip, in 34 AD, left the tetrarchy of Panias and Batanæa without a
local king. In 39, Caligula sent Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peræa, into exile. Caligula now
turned to Herod the Great’s grandson, Herod Agrippa, for a client king, and Agrippa was made ruler of
all the Jewish lands apart from Judæa.
On the voyage home from Rome, this new King of the Jews, stopped over in Alexandria where his
presence in the city provoked anti-Jewish riots. Agrippa became the target of ridicule and lampoon.
Philo described the course of events in his work named for the anti-Jewish governor of Egypt, Flaccus.
His work was familiar to the early Christians when decades after his [Philo’s] death they composed the
gospels. One passage of Flaccus contains a curious pre-figuring of several famous verses found in the
Gospels. . . .
[2]
The Works of Philo Judæus – Flaccus, VI
__________________________________ Matthew
_______
(36) There was a certain madman named Carabbas 27:26Then released he Barabbas unto
. . . this man spent all his days and nights naked in them: and when he had scourged Jesus,
the roads, minding neither cold nor heat, the sport he delivered him to be crucified.
of idle children and wanton youths;
(37) and they, driving the poor wretch as far as the 27:27Then the soldiers of the governor
public gymnasium, and setting him up there on high took Jesus into the common hall, and
that he might be seen by everybody, flattened out a gathered unto him the whole band of
leaf of papyrus and put it on his head instead of a soldiers.
diadem, and clothed the rest of his body with a
common door mat instead of a cloak and instead of 27:28And they stripped him, and put
a sceptre they put in his hand a small stick of the on him a scarlet robe.
native papyrus which they found lying by the way-
side and gave to him;
(38) and when, like actors in theatrical spectacles, he
had received all the insignia of royal authority, and
had been dressed and adorned like a king, the young
men bearing sticks on their shoulders stood on each
side of him instead of spear-bearers, in imitation of the 27:29 And when they had platted a
bodyguards of the king, and then others came up, crown of thorns, they put it upon
some as if to salute him, and others making as though his head, and a reed in his right
they wished to plead their causes before him, and hand: and they bowed the knee
others pretending to wish to consult with him about the before him, and mocked him, saying,
affairs of the state. Hail, King of the Jews!
(39) Then from the multitude of those who were stand-
ing around there arose a wonderful shout of men calling
out Maris!; and this is the name by which it is said that
they call the kings among the Syrians; for they knew
that Agrippa was by birth a Syrian, and also that he was
possessed of a great district of Syria of which he was the
sovereign. . . .
_______________
[1]By Kenneth Humphreys (< www.jesusneverexisted.com/philo.html >). These 2 footnotes are ML’s.
[2]The Works of Philo Judæus, The Contemporary of Josephus, trans. fr. the Greek by Charles Duke
Yonge, Vol. IV, Work 31: A Treatise against Flaccus, Section VI: (London: H.G. Bohn, 1855), pp. 68-70;
INTERNET ARCHIVES: Canadian Libraries < http://www.archive.org/details/theworksofphiloj04yonguoft >.

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So much for the five major literary sources of the New Testament which were presented
in my book, Mythicism. But there are also important zodiacal (astrological) literary aspects
embedded in New Testament works, which have, for example, been researched by Count
M. Volney (1796), David Fideler (1993), D. M. Murdock (2004), and Bill Darlison (2007).
However, Christian theologians and historians of primitive Christianity, have generally
rejected such research.
I printed the full episode of “Jesus as the New ‘Sun God’ ”, Robert M. Price’s podcast
in Mythicism, pp. 36-38. Here are extracts: Floyd’s questions and Price’s concluding remarks.

Jesus as the New ‘Sun God’


Transcribed extracts from Robert M. Price’s THE BIBLE GEEK Podcast of August 8, 2011
(Prof. Price reads a written communication from Floyd and then comments on it.)
Floyd: In my studies of Christianity, I have come across web sites that claim that the
gospels contain solar mythology where Jesus is seen as the Sun traveling through
the zodiac for a one year period. One web site made the following claims that I
thought were quite revealing. . . . [p. 36] [. . .]
The problem I have with these claims is that I am not aware of a critical scholar that
has endorsed [this solar myth theory. Are the proponents of this theory] simply
reading astrology into the gospels? Or do you think the authors have actually written
the gospels this way? Are you aware of any scholars that have endorsed this view or
have written books about it? [p. 37] [. . .]
Price: O.K., now what is my qualm about the Solar Myth Theory of the origin of the
Gospel Story? Well, I look at the astrotheology theory and I do find it attractive
because I am convinced that this kind of thinking reveals several Old Testament
characters to have been sun-gods, ultimately just sun-myths: Enoch, Esau, Elijah,
Isaac, Moses, and so forth. And, here you’ve pointed out even more evidence that
Jesus would fit the category. So that sounds good. But I have to admit that some of
the stuff that Christian Lindtner and others say about a Buddhist origin of the gospels
– that is strangely compelling, too. But then there are a lot of different theories, and
I have to admit at this point, it’s an embarrassment of riches. I don’t know that you
can combine all of these theories. And it’s like I’ve said before in print, the competing
models of a historical Jesus – there’s so many of them! – and it can be plausibly
argued that they kind of cancel each other out. I’m afraid that may happen with the
different versions of the Christ-Myth Theory. Can any of them be all that compelling
if too many of them are equally compelling? I wonder about that. The solar-
mythologists are making a pretty good case, I think – but since so many others
with seemingly incompatible myth theories are doing the same thing, I’m kind of left
thinking, “Gee, I don’t know!” Well, of course, I said that from the beginning. I’m
not a dogmatist. I don’t know that there was no historical Jesus – or that there was
one. I’m simply trying on the paradigms, imposing them on the evidence tentatively
to see what seems to fit. And you’ve shown it fits pretty well in this case. So I take it
as a quite legitimate and powerful scholarly view. But I am not surprised that con-
ventional scholars, many of whom have some kind of conventional Christian affiliation
or at least ingrained upbringing, cannot bring themselves to see it that way. [p. 38]

411
Robert Price mentions (on p. 38) that Count M. Volney, in his book, The Ruins:
Or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires (1796), is one of the earliest persons to propound
the idea of solar mythology as giving rise to the origin of the Gospel story.
1) For Volney, Jesus is, like the Old Testament characters, Enoch, Esau, Elijah,
Isaac, and Moses, really only a historicized version of the solar deity.
2) But, Price says, there are so many competing theories about the origins of
Christianity, that there is what he calls ‘an embarrassment of riches’.
3) Price: “I don’t know that you can combine all of these theories.”
4) “It’s like the competing (incompatible) models of the ‘historical Jesus’, they kind
of cancel each other out.”
5) Price: “I’m not a dogmatist. I don’t know that that there was no historical Jesus –
or that there was one.”
The central issue in trying to answer the question of how Christianity came into existence,
according to my understanding, lies in the nature of the paradigm one chooses to accept as
Christianity’s most truthful historical context. As far as the mythicists are concerned,
the proper answer to the “origin” question, I feel, should be based on the clear-cut
foundational fact of the discovery by literary analysis that all the works of the New Testament
are works of historical fiction! This is the historical context: The anonymous authors of
the gospels, epistles, and Revelation, had all been writing historical fiction. Of course,
such a revolutionary “revisionist paradigm” would tend to be summarily dismissed by the
traditionalists – and by those who kowtow to tradition.
The problem that Murdock was not able to overcome was that she was ready to accept
a number of very different originators as jointly (and vaguely) giving rise to Christianity.
She was not able to single out the group that truly gave rise to Christianity, nor explain
what the actual historical framework (paradigm) was within which any group was operating.
Whereas, Price has chosen the other extreme: he is doubtful of the whole panoply of sources!
– thus his ‘embarrassment of riches’. I’m sympathetic with Price’s caution. The pursuit of
answers to the problems of the history of religion is not like seeking answers in mathematics.
But I’m not as diffident as Price has been – or as G. A. Wells, before him.
Thus, from my point of view, Murdock’s presenting solar mythicists as being in some
way originators of Christianity was mistaken. The true originators were Buddhist literary
scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, who drew on a wide variety of literary sources (including
astrological sources) from the Royal Library to create the books of the New Testament.
Beside solar mythicism, other literary sources, likewise, fail to reveal the true originators
of Christianity: the Septuagint, Greek and Latin literary works, ancient Egyptian scriptures,
the historical works of Philo, Josephus, et al., together with all the lesser literary genres
which are alluded to in the New Testament. By using all these sources, Buddhist / crypto-
Buddhist scholars created works of the New Testament as well as many Buddhist scriptures.
References (listed chronologically)
Books about Zodiacal and Solar Theories and the Origin of Christianity
Count M. Volney (1796), The Ruins: Or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires (New York, NY:
E. Duyschink & & Co.).
David Fideler (1993), Jesus Christ, Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism
(Wheaton, IL: Quest Books).
Acharya S (D. M. Murdock) (2004), Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled (Kempton,
IL: Adventures Unlimited Press).
Bill Darlison (2007), The Gospel and the Zodiac: The Secret Truth About Jesus (London: Duckworth
Overlook).

412
Some final miscellaneous
observations to conclude
this book:

413
Païtava (Afghanistan) Buddha – Musée Guimet, Paris.

414
Schist roundel from Khol Shams.
This image of the Seated Buddha
has two clearly distinguishable
parasols being held above the
Buddha’s head, thus confirming
the identity of the two defaced
objects held above the head of the
standing Buddha, on the facing
page, even though their shafts
appear so unnaturally massive!
Indian Museum, Kolkata

← History of the Standing Buddha*


Joseph Hackin excavation, 1924 (French Archaeological Delegation
in Afghanistan). Buddhist foundation at the north of Kabul, Begram area.
. . . When it was discovered, Joseph Hackin wrote:
“It seemed as though it were new and gilded; the face,
the first part to be dug out, glinted in the setting sun. It was the
beautiful golden light that adorns the image of the Blessed One
in the legend. But the marvel faded, for very rapidly, the gold
leaf vanished, it flaked off. There was rushing all around us,
the Mullah hurried to our assistance.”
Material Schist
Measurements Width 45 cm. Length 81 cm.
Where it was made Afghanistan
Creation date AD 3rd century
Function Décor of a Buddhist Foundation, Païtava
Acquisition French excavation in 1924
Owner State property, France
Museum Musée National des arts asiatiques Guimet
_______________
*Museum information via Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces, 2013.

415
← Note: 2 Indian gods (Brahmä [Creator] and Indra
[King of the gods]) are reduced in size and to the
menial function of holding parasols over the sacred
head of the Buddha, who is performing the dual
miracle of producing fire and water from his body.

← Note: 2 seated Buddhas +1 standing = Trikäya!

← Note: Vajrapäni, left side; cornucopia holder, r.


← Note: supporting Nemesis griffins on both sides.

c. 3rd c. 2nd
century century
CE CE

Goddess Nemesis as a female Griffin. Nemesis, in her human form.


Brooklyn Museum – Courtesy Wikipedia The Louvre - Courtesy Wikipedia
Both forms of this goddess show her with the ‘Wheel of Fate’, which, as we have seen
in the Epistle of James 6:3, becomes the ‘Wheel of [re]Birth’ (“trochon tës geneseös”).
Of course, this very ancient Egyptian symbol was inherited first by the Greeks, and then,
in third century BCE Alexandria, passed on to the Buddhists, becoming their ubiquitous
‘Dharma Chakra’ (the ‘Wheel of Rebirth’), the ‘Enforcer of the Law of Karma’, which,
around the beginning of the second century CE, the crypto-Buddhist Essenes / Jessæans
retained when they metamorphosed into earliest Christianity!
Both wheels, in the above Egyptian Nemesis figures, have eight spokes, which number
also happens to be a very common number of spokes for the Buddhist Dharma Chakras –
perhaps because of the importance of the ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ in Buddhism.

416
=

Ankh “Cross” – MET/ Wikipedia


The ‘Ankh’ symbol has been reflected in the whole sculpture
of the famous Païtava standing Buddha, according to the
brilliant insight of Professor Arputharani Sengupta.

Christian Pendant of Maria, Note: the little ‘Ankh-Cross’ symbol in the center of its face.
Roman Empress Consort (398-407 CE ). Illustrations Courtesy of Wikipedia

On this agate cameo pendant, with gold, emeralds, and rubies, at the Louvre Museum,
“[b]oth faces of the pendant have inscriptions cut in very low relief, arranged spoke-like
around a central ansate cross [i.e., ‘ankh-cross’]. The inscriptions read, on both sides:

417
HON+ORI[US], MARIA, STEL+ICHO, SER+HNA, VIVA+TIS, and, on the other: STEL+ICHO,
SERENA, EUCH+ERI[US], THERM+ANTIA, VIVA+TIS. The inscriptions are in the shape of
christograms, with the loop of the Rho made by the name of Maria on one, Serena on the
other side. . . .
The cameo inscriptions leave no doubt for whom the object was destined – Maria, daughter
of the patrician Stilicho and of Serena, a niece of Theodosius I, and sister of Eucherius
and Thermantia. She was married in Milan, in 398, at a very young age [c. 11], to Honorius
[age 13], the [young] emperor of the West. It is quite possible that this reliquary was given
to her on that occasion. . . .
The pendant was discovered in February 1544 during work at St. Peter’s in Rome, in the
Chapel of St. Petronilla, or “the Chapel of the Kings of France,” along with a lavish group of
gems and precious vases in the marble sarcophagus of a young woman whose body was
wrapped in fine cloth of gold. She was identified as Maria.”*
_______________
*< www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/empress-maria >, accessed 17 Nov 2018.
Two observations by ML:
First, ‘VIVATIS’ means, ‘May they live!’ – which is really dramatic, as this word on
both sides of the pendant, forms the horizontal bar of the cross to which Jesus’ hands were
nailed – signifying the trust that through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross they all would attain
life in Heaven.
Second, the name of Maria’s mother in the photograph of the pendant on page 417
looks as though it has been misspelled by the craftsman: ‘SERHNA’. But no! What may
look to us like the Roman uppercase letter ‘Aitch’ is, in fact, the craftsman’s bi-lingual
discrimination he has made between the sounds of the first two vowels of the name by
using the uppercase Greek letter ‘Eta’ for the second vowel.
After Maria’s wedding, the near future turned out to be deeply tragic for herself and for
her own family. Nine years later, she died childless, in 407.
* * * * * * * * *
A final miscellaneous observation:
Alexandrian Library Theorem No. 7: What is considered today to be the ancient classical
Indian theater, actually developed out of the interaction, in the third century BCE,
within the Library of Alexandria, of Indian scholars with their ephemeral oral-literate
tradition of Indian drama and the already centuries-old Greek drama tradition of
written-literacy. Indian drama could not have been committed to writing before the
Mauryan Period (i.e., before the third century BCE), as there was no writing in Indian
languages for at least the previous one thousand years. Nor is there any evidence
whatsoever, from the pre-Mauryan Period, that Indian dramatic dialogues were
scrupulously committed to memory, and kept in memory by repeated repetition from
year to year, as were the religious literary works of the Brahmins and the Buddhists.
To get an idea of this contrast between oral-literacy and written-literacy, consider the
realm of music with its contrast between jazz (no written or memorized scores) and Western
classical music (almost always with written scores – even if sometimes memorized!).
What I am now proposing here in the above theorem is that, in the pre-Mauryan Period,
Indian drama, like jazz, had no written or strictly memorized dialogues based on writing.
Whereas, in the Mauryan Period, in the Great Library of Alexandria, Indian scholars’ eyes

418
had been opened to the dazzling written heritage of the Greek dramatists – a lively heritage
backed up architecturally and performatively by the almost obligatory Greek-style theaters
in the numerous new cities which had been built across Alexander’s empire, right up to the
Indian territory on its eastern border. Shouldn’t we expect that great Indian playwrights
– as play-writers – would soon create their own written masterpieces?
Further, if there was a well-known story, for instance, based on an episode in one of the
Indian epics, which was to be used in repeated dramatic performances over several nights,
all the actors were probably free to improvise each night in both dialogue and action as
they proceeded through the drama. Of course, there would have had to have been some
kind of balance between acknowledging a fixed skeleton plot of the play’s development
and the freedom for improvising within that set form – and the Sütradhära or Sütradhärinï
(the chief actor / director [m. or f.]) would have had authority to control that balance.
This balance in drama is roughly analogous to the partial freedom each different instrument
has in a jazz concert when it takes the lead in developing musical themes. Is it any wonder
that Indian musicians and actors, being partly or majorly true composers in their own
right, within their own “agrammatic” (but therefore ephemeral) world, might look down
on having to reproduce the “canned” (fixed in writing) music and “canned” dramas of
‘play-writers’. (Of course, it was in the Royal Library of Alexandria where Indian literary
scholars became aware of the glorious written dramas of the Greeks, stretching back
centuries [Æschylus’s earliest noted drama was reported to have been staged in 499 BCE],
and it was probably not long after the mid-3rd century BCE, that India would have its own
great play-writers.)
* * * * * * * * *
POSTSCRIPT
Communication received from Russell Gmirkin:
On pages 393 ff. you discuss the Buddhist principle of the “White Lie” which you suggest
may have arisen in third century BCE Alexandria. In my discussion of the biblical
construction of the Mosaic foundation myth, I mention Plato’s famous development of
the idea of the “Noble Lie,” which might constitute a parallel. Quoting from a book of
mine in progress.
As Plato said, it was acceptable to make up lies about the distant past, “since knowledge
about such events was impossible” (Plato, Republic 2.382a-e). This non-falsifiability of
stories set in distant antiquity opened up an opportunity for the ruling class to construct
myths that might conceivably be true and which could be claimed as in fact true. Indeed,
the philosophical truths that such noble lies might convey could be considered truer
than stories based in actual fact that promoted beliefs that were philosophically or
theologically unsound (Belfiore 1985).
Elizabeth Belfiore, “ ‘Lies Unlike the Truth’: Plato on Hesiod, Theogony 27,”
Transactions of the American Philological Association 115 (1985), 47-57.
Gmirkin’s note is important! It suggests how Plato’s thought could have had a profound
effect on the Buddhist scholars who had been invited to the Royal Library of Alexandria,
in the third century BCE. There cannot be a university without having written works dealing
with a “universal” variety of subjects. So prior to the Mauryas, ‘agrammata’ India could
have had no universities. It was only when Buddhist scholar monks had come to Alexandria,
with access to the Library’s unprecedented collection of written works, that Buddhism was
able to fashion its Western crypto-Buddhist form (as Semi-Proselytes of the Jews). END

419