In this note I am going to do something that even I think is a bit odd and irregular. That I think is even a bit out-of-place for this type of note. I am going to use as one of my flow-in-flow-out points of reference a hypothetical writing task involving real, living and controversial people. I have in several notes recently revealed a long time secret esoteric interpretation of the New Testament. Now, just suppose it were to be commercially published outside of this little blog in the world of free access with only 499 possible subscribers as I type these words. What would be among the highest and best and most appealing uses for me? Where might it be best released?
Probably if Mel Gibson bought partial rights to the notes here as part of a prequel to Passion of the Christ called Life of the Christ that would be close to the best. Really my preferences would be that specific. Why?
Because he can make a good movie and movies reach lots of people who are hard to reach.
Because he cast real ethnic Jews in many roles and they look right.
Because he used original languages, imperfectly but better than almost anyone else.
Because both he and I might make some money and I could use it.
Because he seemed to interface effectively with a large section of the Christian community.
Because even though he filmed in Malta he got a better feel of the period at least than most.
I often watch media presentations about Jesus that are just plain horrible in my honest opinion. Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth and the Passion by Gibson stand out as among the best I have seen. Screenwriting is highly collaborative. I have done a good bit of work in newspapers and it is pretty collaborative too but not nearly as much as screenwriting. But all writing is related to a larger world than the page. I think that such a set of relations is often not given enough respect as being very hard to trace and analyze. On the other hand some quite literate critics and some illiterate dismissers also treat the nature of literature’s relationship to the real world as being hard to establish. They simply argue that it has no real significance.
There is no substitute for practice in writing. Jesus reading in the synagogue then preaching. teaching fro long periods of time at a relatively regular feeding of multitudes and training his Apostles and high ranking disciples. In that rhythm were produced stories and words that still compel many of us like no other words. Shakespeare, writing for a play editing when it did not work and then eventually producing one worth copying down and putting in the company chest. Such works have endured. Faulkner earned more money over almost the whole course of his life from screenwriting in Hollywood than from writing novels in Mississippi. Hemingway cranked out war reportage and did many stories in the first person about fishing and traveling. From that routine of work the literary Hemingway emerged. Enduring literature is born from the grind of human interaction, nature and writing more often than not. Writers write. they keep writing and they keep improving in a struggle to realize their dreams on paper and express their real life insights in their dreams.
Northrup Frye, a distinguished literary critic wrote a book about the influence of the Bible on literature and called it “The Great Code”. I was influenced by that book and enjoyed a great deal but its name has no overt connection to the esoteric interpretation of coded frames in the Bible which I have been writing about lately. rather he makes the important point of how scripture is a vital core and framework of understanding for subsequent literature especially English literature.
There is a great deal of the Gospel account which is best understood by the fact that Jesus was a literate story-teller and orator who by distributing wealth on a fairly large-scale while being interesting attracted a significant number of writers to his movement. Probably there were as many as hundred pamphlet like texts about him produced by those who knew him. St. John’s Gospel ends as follows:
“Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain untill I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just “What if I want him to remain until I come? (What concern is it of yours?)” ”
“It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are so many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the world could contain books that would be written.” John 21: 20-25
In this passage the we who believe and are writing the gospel we have seem to suggest pretty clearly that they have known St. John who knew Jesus and have received an oral tradition from him. They suggest that John also wrote a book which is the basis of the current Gospel of John which they have edited. Finally they make very much the noises that one might make when there are many documents one did not get to include in a history and so one apologizes to the authors of those texts and tries to find an excuse for not included the tidbits and themes that one may have taken great trouble to make available. I am not sure that Mel Gibson could get a real clear feel for that across to his audience but he might do better than some have done. There is a chance that even I would feel the richness of the work outweighed its flaws.
John was an episcopos and an Apostle within the Church but though he is not named with Judas (definitely not Iscariot), Joseph, Simon and James as one of Jesus’s brothers by the people of Nazareth he was also a relative of Jesus and one of Jesus’s purposes in telling Mary that John was her son and she is his mother is to designate John as heir of such privileges within the house of David as he has it in his power to give. This is limited compared to some systems but John is now the man of the house in which his mother is matron which is temporal and not the nascent Christian church. I am aware that the public Christian church has never had a tradition that the holy family adopted anyone but in our esoteric tradition Judas and Simon were cousins whose mother was a descendant of the Maccabees and a fairly prominent one. Their father was a Zealot and a devoted one despite being a Davidian of prominence. He was crucified and while the family was in Egypt and then when they returned the mother and children came to live in a small house that Joseph built on the edge of his struggling compound. She died before Jesus reached adulthood. They were adopted but in a rather more loose and House of David way than other Jews would have used. It was through them that Jesus acquired his first ties ti the Maccabean element in Israel. James and Joseph the other brothers of Jesus were not blood brothers of Simon and Judas. While Catholic prayers seem to emphasize Joseph as not having had sexual relations with anyone it is our esoteric tradition that Joseph was Joseph’s son by levirate marriage to another relative who had lost a husband while they were in Egypt. She raised him as the dead man’s son until her own death and then without parent or siblings he was also adopted. Note that when the people of Nazareth mention his family they are ready to stone Jesus. He had tow near relatives who had met violent deaths and in the ancient world people frankly found it easier to kill people in that class. Modern people do as well but they are not as open about it. Jesus’s family business and household were substantial and although there were many dependents Jesus’s designated heir had more leisure to write books than some living in the relative communism of the early church. To modern ears this sound s hypocritical. But there would have been no church movement without the funds drawn from Jesus’s household at various times and in various ways.
The Gospels also make it as clear as they can that the Herodian dynasty regarded Jesus’s family as a very major threat. They remained more or less continuously at war with them. Herod the Great orders the killing of Bethlehem’s little boys to get Jesus. Herod Antipas is only a quarter-king but as Tetrarch he kills John Jesus’s cousin who is known as the Baptist. When he first hears of the ministry of Jesus he mentions killing John right away and then asks to meet Jesus. Everyone knew Jesus had a better claim dynastically to any Jewish throne anywhere than any Herodian did.
Jesus’s household was clearly not rich. Zealot assaults on cashiered mercenaries at the time of the death of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem involved members of the House of David and Herodians were killed to in part as revenge for Herod’s atrocity in the most ancient seat of the House of David. This sort of conflict was not only unequal, easily terrifying and cruel it was very expensive for the Davidians. Though he generated a lot of wealth as an adult they were poor when he was born and always had many expensive burdens to bear. Nonetheless, John could afford to write.
Jesus grew up with double entendres and stealth as part of his extended family lore and his way of life. Jesus’s only land based attack is not mentioned in the Bible at all and is perhaps the most gruesome and shocking to modern sensibilities. Jesus recovered from his fasting and prayer, meeting with the Essene emissaries, leading the demon assassins into the lion’s den and he immediately met with Simon the Zealot, a group of unmentioned zealots and relatives and relates his tale of the Devil’s camp. There are pens of captives, huge supplies, torture chambers, guards and time is of the essence. He gets a handful of people to accompany him only one of whom will become an Apostle. He agrees to position them around the camp at night with an emphasis on opening the cages of the captives and setting them on horses and asses kept there with supplies and scattering to the winds. Then they are to take the loot they can killing such guards as they can and bring the loot to a place agreed upon. With about a dozen or so men he assigns all but one to this task.
The only assistant he takes with him is led to a prearranged spot with cages of birds dragging tiny bundles of fire starter on string and a couple of donkeys. The assistant set the fires and released the bird and as they flew over the camp the fire reached the strings and they were burnt through creating tiny bombs. All of this took place at night and so it had a stunning visual effect. The birds were then freed as well by the fire and disappeared. This was timed to occur when the first guard sounded an alarm in the main camp. The men in the larger group would attack at that time. Then the assistant would sling stones dipped in poison at those guards moving near his position. Jesus would be the only many leading an assault on the main cam. The only human assaulting it. Using asses dragging meat and a relationship with the now man-eating lions he led a pride of recently man-eating lions into the camp. The camp had literally a thousand armed men. The other smaller camp was unusually filled with camels and donkeys and packs of booty and unusually lightly guarded had many things not been very unusual the raid on the adjoining camp would have failed but as it happened the camp lost all its prisoners many trade animals and lots of supplies and wealth. A few prisoners were armed by the raiders and died fighting but only one raider died and not on site. When the guards from the main camp arrived they found burning tents dead bodies and little else.
Jesus held back in shadows with a sling and a bag of stones. Whenever a guard drew a bow or a spear effectively against a lion he hit the guard with a stone not caring much if he killed, wounded or stunned. He simply supported the lions letting the blood and food smells of the camp drive them into a frenzy. When groups assembled to attack or defend against a lion he picked a few targets and hit them. He kept this up for a very long time. Then with fires in both camps and the howls of men and the roars of lions he slipped away to meet his men. He never returned to the camp again. He never got a full report on the damage. But when he did return to the meeting place he had enough supplies to begin his public program. The skirmish itself is now lost to all history but there were laid the economic foundations of the Jesus movement.
Jesus then gave the real life speech on which the parable of the talents would be based (see Matthew 25: 14-30). Keeping a double share of the loot himself he divided the rest equally among his followers. Reminding them that he also expected there support within the coming campaign. Further any loot they could not take at that time he agreed to take on an opposite understanding — He would give them back a portion of the value he could realize from the loot upon demand after a reasonable delay. How much was this fortune? It was a significant loss to the fabulously rich demons but it was almost an immeasurable fortune to the struggling House of David. Through his interview with the Devil Jesus knew that the Devil saw three primary men to be eliminated in order to destroy Galilee. One was himself. The other was the most successful fisherman on the Lake — Peter. The last was Jesus’s mortal and hereditary enemy Tetrarch Herod Antipas. Jesus used the fortune in several ways, first he ordered several large loads of wood and supplies through his Household’s carpentry shop and then fabricated the platforms he had already envisioned for dealing with the swine. He used a silent partner to fund his distant cousins James and John to pay off their own debts and then to buy a share of Peter’s business. Thus unknown to any becoming their partner. He paid to have many amphora of fine wine switched with the ablutions water at the wedding of friends having hard times, all of this was wine seized in the raid.
While waiting for the wood to arrive he converted the now empty bird cages to fish cages with hidden compartments and hid a different currency of coin in each of the cages. These coins also helped to anchor the cages by weighing them down. However, there were animals, saddles, weapons and clothes he could not safely use or sell. Through Simon the Zealot he found that Chuza was in trouble with his Lord Herod Antipas for both using court funds to support Zealots and skimming some off for himself. Jesus met with Chuza and Simon and came up with a system where Jesus would send loot to Chuza who had the only institution in Galilee large enough to launder the goods. Jesus would take a fraction of the real value of the loot and allow Chuza to make a cut so long as both the debt incurred by the Zealots and his enemy’s own treasury were also enriched. All three in this set, Joanna, Chuza and Simon would sign off on each transaction. Joanna would bring Jesus and his disciples payment disguised as gifts and then encourage others of women of means to give to his ministry as well(see Luke 8:1-3). This real life experience was the basis of the parable of the wily steward(see Luke 16: 1-15).
Jesus then contracted with foreign merchants so that trade with Galilee would not fail. He ordered lumber, millstones and anything related to bread-making and wineskins. He also bought up most local production of these same items. He traded a brand new millstone in Galilee for anyone who would give him a used stone and a ruined or cracked stone. He traded a new wineskin filled with fine wines from his booty for anyone who would give him two badly used wineskins with any wine in any quantity enough to slosh audibly. He also contracted to build the ovens he would use. He was nearly broke except for a half dozen platforms, a collection of millstones, old wineskins of bad quality, a set of secret ovens and some very part-time help he could demand. With these resources and a handful of new disciples who barely knew him he prepared to face down one of the world’s greatest foes.
The basic schematic of the raids is laid out in my note titled “Easter & War”. As the calming of the storm would indicate, Jesus and his Apostles would cross the seas in a life threatening storm and only then. They would free the captive and drive the swine into the water they would slaughter and butcher the swine bringing only the fish shaped meat pieces to land. Jesus and Peter were seen on one of these platforms in the walking on water. The porkfish were baked on skeletons both of leftover feedings and form the piles of unusable fish fishermen left around. These piles on the shore are mentioned in Jesus’ parable of the net. Jesus always asked people to pass up food to be shared out at his meetings. The normal thing was that a good amount of food was passed up and mixed with the available supply of porkfish. The feedings mentioned in the gospel are manifestations or signs ( and therefore also risky) because the manufactured famine had reached such a point that the people in the crowd had only tiny amounts of food to contribute to the feeding.
Jesus used rituals, parables, acts of charity, instructions and acts of war all overlayed in the same framework of facts. While this gets even more complicated as it passes through layers of writers it was immensely complicated as he lived it. Yet on the other hand this redundant meaning approach made things simple, increased security and aided in his moral teaching ministry. while the phrase “pearls before swine” for example had a history it was used because the bones of the swine tangled in old nets and strings and sunk under water were like white underwater pearls. Some acts of his war are told in parables outside the ordinary form and also repeat technical instructions. Jesus wants his Apostles to find spiritual meaning in the work they do which is largely illegal by most standards. The teaching on scandal is the best example of this style of work.
Imagine the platforms on which Jesus and Peter walked on water as large wooden squares of planks mounted on a heavy timbered cross. The central section over the centermatched cross beams is not platformed. There a ring of pig bladders and skins are inflated and secured under the edge of the platform. A similar rim of inflatables is on the edge of the platform. An odd tube of old nets, sackcloth and trash is weighted down from its open mouth to the lake floor with a small rock. Int hat tube all intestines, pigs trotters, skins, heads and notable pig organs are thrown. Once the butchering is done a millstone is secured around the neck of the tube which is then tied.This is then thrown in and drag the tube down compressing the pig wastes. Later the platform is moved and the place will be the site of several great catches. All of this is done mostly so that Jewish children can eat porkfish and not starve to death while also avoiding scandal.
With that factual scenario in mind listen to the following quote from Matthew 18: 6-9,
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause sin! Such things must come but woe to the one through whom they come! If your hand or foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna.” An honest and thoughtful reading will show many parallels unlikely to be coincidental.
Not every aspect of Jesus’s life is documented in some close code on the one hand or retelling in recorded parable on the other. For example the Gospels mention that he sent the sick to be examined by priests, that the manufactured mud pastes for eyes, that he encouraged people to give clothes to the poor and that he was involved with both baptism and healing baths. But there is no real evidence for what I propose as a normal Historical Jesus meeting per se. All lepers and sick people would be gathered first. A divider would go from the shore and into the the lake, dividing men and women bathers. All donated clothes gathered by his traveling followers from others would be given to those with the worst clothes. Those worst clothes would be burnt in the fire pits which heated the ovens elsewhere where the porkfish was made. A very unique and kind of crude but sophisticated soap would be given to the bathers. All those who were free of visual uncleanness after bathing and getting new clothes would be released into the crowd and told to confirm their healings with the authorities. Those still not well would receive what salves and bandages were available and be sated separately near Jesus. He would speak for a while and call for gifts of food to be offered to the front. His Apostles and others would mix these foods with porkfish and other goods they had and redistribute the greatly increased food supply to all after Jesus blessed it. Then Jesus would speak again after all had eaten and listened he would bless those in the section of seating for the sick and many would get well ( though obviously here Christians and atheists must see my scenario differently). Then he would encourage people to go to a section in the middle of the crowd to exchange any gifts that they might have brought with those in need. While this was going on he would allow questions from the crowd. After all of that he would usually dine with a prominent local resident for supper. This would be an all day affair requiring the work of dozens of people. He may have had between 12 and 30 of these days.
Jesus and his disciples hit each of a number of camps twice in raids and had a secondary feeding in most cases by moving small pigs to a wild site where they could forage and slaughtering them later. On each raid they freed all captives not killed in the fighting and used captives they armed with captured weapons though more captives were not fighters. The huge herds of swine also were deliberately chosen because as omnivores that helped create the famine by eating any human food available and not just grass. The demons also had a science of using the swine to foul as much drinking and fishing water as possible.Jesus and his disciples all veiled their faces during these raids.
These raids and feedings created the framework around which the rest of his public ministry coalesced. However, as Herod Antipas killed John the Baptist and began to track Jesus it became harder for Joanna to bring her payments. Pilate desecrated the great Temple in Jerusalem killing Galileans during worship and the Temple guard who had killed many armed foreigners did not dare risk an open battle. Then he was spotted walking on water. It is in this crushingly intense historic period of his life ( and not at some later date) that two things begin to happen. Jesus begins to state repeatedly that he will be crucified in Jerusalem and he increasingly supports and defends his reputation as a Messiah and a the Son of God. Son of God is a term rarely used for human kings in the Old Testament when they have a special mission from God but Jesus begins to push even this most lofty of claims to a higher place. He often spends all night alone in prayer. It is here that the Christ emerges whom atheists find it difficult to admire. However, the literary beauty of his teaching reflecting on all his life is still very sharp and sweet. As a verbal artist he is admirable to any one.
I chose the Mel Gibson prequel device partly because I do not wish to deal with the last week in this note. Gibson’s prequel should go to the Last Supper but I will leave off here. What I have to say about the unknown life of Jesus is largely said in covering these earlier months and years. The Gospels are a rich trove of insights even if not always understood as I see them. However, I hope that as long as we have biographies of Christ in various media there will be some I think are artistically worthy of the subject. I also hope that we will always have such biographies.