The historical origin of Christianity

There has never been a man that ever walked the earth in human form of any race, creed or colour by the name of Jesus Christ.

On the main, I agree with the above statement. What I find hard to believe is how Williams gets to this conclusion. He argues that Jesus is the apotheosis of O-Serapis who was in another age Ptolemy 1 (Soter). I am putting the horse before the cart!

It should be noted from the very word go this book is very Afro-Centric. His audience is Africans or people of African descent, not in the evolution sense which would make everyone African but according to common usage-Negroes. He is, by writing this book hoping to awake in them an awareness of how Judaism, Christianity, Islam – man made religions- as he refers to them have been and continue to be used to subjugate them. It is short on references but very big on claims. In fact, each claim he makes is a PhD dissertation on its own. So instead of dismissing it forthright, I think some of them deserve to be looked into a little deeply. I wouldn’t call it a scholarly work nor a theological treatise. The way to view it is as research questions or hypothesis in need of proof.

He starts by quoting a book, Dictionary of the Bible by McKenzie S.J who wrote

The writing of the life of Jesus has been the major problem of NT scholarship for more than 100 yrs; after numerous shifts of opinion, the consensus of scholars is that the life of Jesus cannot be written.

He says to get to Jesus we must start at 332 BCE with the invasion of Alexander the Greek into Egypt. On the demise of Alexander, Ptolemy I, Soter, takes to the throne and demands admission into the Egyptian pantheon of deities. The Melchite Copts made a composite god- Osiris and Apis- and gave the name Oserapis later Serapis. He says this development goes on till we get to Ptolemy V, Epiphanes (Eucharistos).
The next important event in the history of Christianity, he writes, are the five council meetings viz, council of Niceae 1, council of Constantinople, council of Ephesus, council of Chalcedon, council of Constantinople II.
The Donatist Schismatic Controversy, the Donation of Constantine and the strong statement by Arius he says are the three main reasons for the calling of the first council. He says there was never an Edict of Milan, that this is forgery or work of fiction to be precise.
Among the statements I find hard to believe is the claim that

If you are told about a Jesus Christ, Christians or Christianity before the council of Ephesus or Chalcedon (431, 451 CE) or of a Christian church before the building of the world’s first Christian church, the Hagia Sophia (531-537 CE) you are being misled.

Of the councils, the Council of Ephesus he says is the most important. It is in this council that we have Theotokos- Virgin Mary- installed following problems arising from the preaching of Nestorius and his followers. Serapis was also transformed to the Messiah (Christos) with the help of the Melchite Copts.

The council of Chalcedon 451CE among other things defined one Christ, perfect god and man, consubstantial with man, one soul being into two natures, without division or separation and without confusion or change.

If the foregoing hasn’t sent you to the library near you, the claim that the name Jesus came into being 1565yrs after the image and name Serapis were created in Egypt. The name Iesus was first applied to the icon during the Council of Lyons, 1245CE. To buttress his point, he does a brief historical survey of the development of the letter J.

Tertullian, Augustine were they Copts? The Clementine letters or the letters of Paul, if what we have today refer to Jesus, was this done after the fact? At what stage in history do we have a single book known as the bible as we currently have it?

I will end my post, as he ends his book, with a quote

To discover to the world something which deeply concerns it, and of which it was previously ignorant; to prove to it that it had been mistaken on some vital point of temporal or spiritual interest, is as important a service as a human being can render to his fellow creatures, and the most precious gift which could be bestowed on mankind.


The gospel of Thomas and the quest for historical Jesus

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Practical atheism?

That’s not what one gets when they read this post by Fr. Jerry. It is like he has created straw men against whom he has argued almost successfully against, where almost is the keyword.

Whereas the problem of evil is a serious challenge to the being of an all loving and powerful god, I don’t often hear, as the priest claims, of people who say they no longer believe in god because there’s so much evil and suffering. That, I think, is a creation of the good priest. It’s true the crucifixion has little appeal but that is not reason enough to be atheistic.

The priest says, and I haven’t seen the memo

As a rule, atheists invoke the supremacy of science.

which is not supported by fact. Atheism, being limited to lack of belief in deities, does not need any scientific claims to buttress it. There have been atheists throughout the ages when science was not advanced as it is today. I could argue, on the contrary that atheism really is about rationality. You do not need to invoke any scientific principle to question the lack of evidence for deities.

He goes ahead to say

True atheists view science as a means by which to solve certain technical problems, to make life easier, or to reduce suffering.

which may mean only true atheists resort to science. The not true atheists don’t rely on science or they don’t exist.

The good priest tells us the christians know it is god teasing them with mystery. This is a claim made without any supporting evidence. We must take the priest’s word for it.

The priest, having told himself the universe must have a creator, throws a swipe at the atheists and tells us

Atheists typically explain creation with the purported science of the big bang theory. Matter was contained in a capsule the size of a walnut, and Bang! the universe began to expand.

which is interesting given, first, that the idea of a big bang has its origins in the works of a catholic monk and two that several scientists have explained the term big bang was used as a place holder. The atheist can have no opinion on the big bang or origins of the universe without contradiction.

The good priest, however doesn’t stop at the big bang. He tells us

After eons of evolution, an amoeba became a fish, a fish became a lizard—and down the line—finally, a monkey gave birth: not to a monkey, but to the first potential atheist.

and one is made to ask who taught him evolution. Was his teacher this bad?

He tells us, the christian believes, god created the universe ex nihilo. But he doesn’t stop there. He lies. He says

But Adam and Eve wanted to play the part of God, to tell God what good and evil is.

The good book doesn’t at any point claim the two ignoramuses wanted to tell god what is good and evil. This is not possible since they only came to know of good through eating of  the tree of knowledge of good and evil, a tree which, if it was planted in the garden is all god’s fault. There was always the option of keeping the seeds in god’s pocket or not mentioning it altogether. But the priest is not interested in reason, no, he tells us

Original Sin, therefore, is the choice to become a practical atheist—to claim the authority of God on our own.

Let’s not forget that the idea of original sin is a creation of the church of Rome. And nowhere do we read in the bible Adam and Eve claiming the authority of god anywhere. To call them practical atheists for eating a fruit, is to me an insult to human intelligence. Adam and Eve, if they existed, did not need persuasion to know there was a god. It was impossible for them to be atheists. I mean, for fucks sake, they lived next door to god.

The priest to bring Jesus into the picture, tells us

Without a Savior to overcome evil, all of us would be condemned to the fires of Hell

which is  ridiculous. God creates hell so it can punish humans for small infractions that it made it possible for them to commit? If we believe the priest, without eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge, there would be no death. One must ask the good priest why then, does god send the two hapless fellows from the garden before they eat of the tree of life? Or are we to assume, the gods would have left them feast on the tree of life and become like them?

The Epicurean principle of “seek pleasure and avoid suffering” is seen by the priest as not good enough for a moral life. He says it can be argued that is how the atheist lives their lives. Sometimes one can withstand suffering, if it is for a short duration and the gains are greater, for example, the pain of having a tooth removed or a surgery to remove a growth. It is suffering for which no benefit can be accrued that we must question as rational beings, such as, what good comes out of the rape of a child?

One would think, if you listened to the priest only, that only atheists have abortions or are pro-choice. The good priest, not tired of attacking straw men, writes

To avoid personal suffering, antiseptic and murderous violence—where the screams are unseen, silent, and without legal repercussions—is permissible as a matter of “choice.”

I don’t know about you, but I am yet to hear of any moral absolutes set up by the atheists anywhere in the world. I was not around when there was a sexual revolution in the 60s in the US? Was it atheists who led it? But then again what is wrong with sexual freedom?

One wonders whether the priest is arguing for sexual misconduct, like the priests have been found to have been guilty of in several places around the world when he says

The practical atheist insists on the supreme value of choice and consent as the only proper boundaries for his sexual pursuits.

Are we to read this as an argument against consent?

I do not, for the life of me, know which atheist the priest has in mind. Maybe it his own creation. He writes

 [..]He may appeal to science—except when science interferes with his lifestyle.Then the moral principles of the atheist allow for the distortion of authentic science in pursuit of his pleasures.

How, tell me, is this statement by Justice Kennedy

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

the true definition of original sin? Does it exclude the christian from defining his or her life as having meaning only in the belief and obedience to gods? Or does it stop the Muslim from deriving meaning from his belief in the supremacy of the Koran and hadiths? Is the priest trying to be a thought cop? He wants a situation where the church defines the concept of existence, meaning and any contrary opinion is heresy and ripe for the stake, as in the days of old.

One would think all the conflicts in the world are because people have been atheistic. The good priest not to be outdone in creating straw-men writes

Of course, the cumulative result of such uncompromising selfishness is what a comfortable atheist detests: injustice, conflict, hatred, murder. An honest atheist is unable to justify selfless acts of virtue. Without God, the chaos of an atheistic world would be normative.

Anyone who has read a little bit of history is aware of the many injustices committed in the name of god. The Catholic killing the protestant, both of them killing the Jews and finally, the Muslim killing all of them. To then pretend this is all because there are atheists is to tell a bold faced lie.

There is no paradox between there being no god and people being just, kind or loving. These traits are important for life in community. Societal life would be impossible if all we did was kill each other. We would be extinct. You need no gods to explain this. Common sense, which the priest seems to have quit its use, is enough to give insights into this.

The sacrifice of a soldier in battle is for most times stupid. Most often, soldiers go to war to fight people who have done them no wrong on the behest of some functionary who is having a beer or wine at their expense. That said, the soldier is trained to do just that. It would be thought of them as cowards if they didn’t make sacrifices here and there. It is expected that a father should rescue their child from danger. To say we only do this because of a god is to reduce all human feeling and response to belief in chimeras.

The story of the crucifixion is not one of love but of depravity. It is to make a virtue of violence. Besides, in the story, the fellow comes back. And if Jesus is a god as the catholic wants us to believe, then how does a god dying affect humanity?

While I agree we should reflect on our individualism, but it shouldn’t be replaced by belief in chimeras. It is must be about practicalities of life. We should see ourselves as members of a community with different beliefs and cultures and work towards living in harmony with one another.

As others saw us- being an analysis of grassroots imperialism in 19th and early 20th century Africa.

Bethwell A. Ogot in his book History as destiny and history as knowledge, from which the above title is a chapter, writes in the introduction of the book, that

To tell the story of a past so as to portray an inevitable destiny is for humankind a need as universal as tool-making

He defines historicity as the need to picture to oneself what is destined, the belief that the past determines the future while historiography submits its report to the probable and its assumptions to the verifiable.

This blog is not concerned with a review of the whole book but will limit ourselves to one chapter of the book that retells of how the white people saw us, where, us here refers to Africans and specifically to Kenyans. If I should mention other groups, it will only be tangentially.

To start with, he notes that during the C19, a vast amount of negative propaganda and stereotypes about Africans and Africa was generated in order to justify imperialism. Referring to works by Mudimbe and Miller, he notes, from the earliest contact, Africa has been imprinted with European constructs, such that at some moments, Africans were represented as noble while at others monstrous.

People like Lewis Krapf, Rebmann, he writes, came to Kenya to introduce civilization which they mistakenly equated with Christianity. It has been said, and I think correctly, that Christianity was the precursor of colonialization, that the missionaries prepared the grounds for the colonial administration wherever they went.

He notes, one of the areas of contention was what civilization meant. To one group of whites, following the Enlightenment philosophers held the view that it was essentially concerned with the way society was organized. In this view, civilization was equated to capitalism where private property, the state and commerce are fully developed. The other group of whites, like Krapf and Rebmann mentioned earlier, saw the negro as primarily fallen man. Krapf argued that temporal and spiritual benefits could only reach E. Africa through European intervention making him one of the precursors of imperialism.

The representation of Africa as a tribal continent, he writes, is a white people construct. Since ethnic groups exist in societies such as Ireland, Belgium, Spain and so on, one fails to understand why the whites referred to ethnic groups in Africa derogatorily as tribes. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that ethnic groups and identities are historical creations- they are created by human beings. Ethnicity, in this view, is the consciousness of cultural difference.

To the whites named above and others, regions and people without states are therefore supposed to have no history worth the name. Another Christian missionary working in the Kenyan coast argued slavery was not, after all, the unqualified evil abolitionists thought it was, but that it was better to eradicate it gradually. Another missionary, D Lugard, argued Africans do not appreciate personal freedom.

The idea of Africa as a dark continent, as has been written elsewhere, finds it origins in the philosophies of Hume who wrote there was scarcely a civilized nation of negro complexion while JJ Rousseau proclaimed that blacks were mentally inferior by nature. I want to point in passing that when the Enlightenment philosophers wrote man was a rational being, they limited man to mean white privileged males. Rooted in pseudo-objectivity, male scientists claimed that men were the bearer of reason and rationality while women’s temperament was adversely affected by their dominant reproductive organs which were linked to the central nervous system. Women did not count, they were temperamental and of course, as we have seen already, the negro had no place in their view of nature, in fact, to them, the African was living close to nature. He writes, and I quote

In investigating the savage, the west set up a mirror in which it might find a tangible, if inverted self-image. Non-Europeans filled out the nether reaches of the scale of being, provided the contrast against which a cultivated might distinguish himself. On this scale, the African was assigned a particular base position.

A young Scot, Thompson, travelling through Kenya went even further to rank the different African ethnic groups he interacted with in different evolutionary scales. He, for example, had the Maasai on a loftier position than Wa Kwafi from the coast, who, to him, seemed to have acquired a strain of Negro blood. He didn’t stop there, he ranked the Njemps lower on the scale below Maasais though praised them for their honesty and reliability. The question the author asks at this point is, why should honest, peaceful, hard working agriculturists be ranked lower in human evolution than some thieving, war-like nomads?

The question of nudity, with respect to morality puzzled many Europeans travelers, missionaries and scholars. Dr. Oswald doing some work for the British Museum, was most troubled that despite their nudity, the Luo were a happy cheerful race, living in a state of nature, and at the same time with a high standard of morality. This was only a puzzle because in the European conception of the African, he was immoral. Despite this, he still had space to argue that they were primitive contemporary ancestors of the Scots who should be civilized.

Our author concludes thus

Among the whites in Africa, there was virtual unanimity that in the community of nations Africans were children.

 

This strain of thought can be seen in many interactions between whites and Africans where they refer to Africans as boy, regardless of age.

To these white people,

The African was emotional, excitable, impulsive, had a happy go lucky nature and lacked forethought.

Krapf, mentioned already, believed

Africans will never achieve anything in philosophy or in theoretical branches of science.

The appropriate end to this post is a quote of Mark Twain

There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man’s notion that he is less savage than other savages.

Or better yet

The only difference between the average civilized man and the average savage is that the one is gilded and the other is painted.

Why is Luke considered an inspired book

When the author so assertively says in the introduction

Inasmuch as a number of writers have essayed to draw up a narrative of the established facts in our religion 2 exactly as these have been handed down to us by the original eyewitnesses who were in the service of the Gospel Message, 3 and inasmuch as I have gone carefully over them all myself from the very beginning, I have decided, O Theophilus, to write them out in order for your excellency, 4 to let you know the solid truth of what you have been taught.

He is relaying what he has read or others have said. And nowhere does he claim inspiration from anywhere, not even from a joint.

Whose work is he referring to? Who had written these earlier gospels and why doesn’t he mention their names?

And if he has gone carefully through them, let’s for the sake of argument say it was Mathew he read, why does his genealogy of Jesus H. Christ differ from it?

There are 7 miracles only Luke knows where he got. Did he make them up? If he is a historian, does he treat of history when he writes of miracles? Should we take him seriously as a historian?

Colonialism was good. WTF

Kevin, tells us

-I am against simplistic moral equivalence (that is, “denying that a moral hierarchy can be assessed of two sides in a conflict”). Colonialism had its positive side: roads, agriculture, sanitation, hospitals, orphanages, democracy, schools, and, the Bible. Were these not the will of God?

-Regarding Iraq, please see, “OBAMA’S RETREAT FROM WAR MADE MATTERS WORSE,” at [link ignored]

Those preliminary concerns being addressed, I believe God loves everyone as much as He loves Jesus. God is love. He sent Jesus to die for all, because He has predestined all for life.

As to the question of war, the greater reality must eclipse the lesser. Please also see,

“A Christian Response To North Korea,” at [link ignored]

And for lack of a better word, FUCK you Kevin. You are as immoral as the god you worship.

African Religion vs Christianity?

Or is it something else?

A friend brought to my attention this tweet

We are not interested in that for the time being, but the debate that ensued on her facebook page is of interest to us and is the basis of this post and it’s title.

She set the ball rolling when she wrote, in response to the tweet,

folly of culture without consciousness: the dead are reminding us to get off the land; not bribe them with rituals.

which in my view, if the newspaper article is believable, makes a lot of sense. So when she is told by Eva

the dead are quiet dead. Any interaction with them is with dark forces

I am quite shocked at how unaware Africans can be. There is a lot of interaction between the dead and the living in our cultures. Take for example, the naming process. Most people are given names of the remembered dead and this has never been said by anyone to be an interaction with dark forces. My friend, Wandia, is right in her assertion. In most African traditions, desecration of graveyards is believed to have potential of disturbing the unity of the community and thus, the dead would have to be appeased if such a thing were to happen.

When Eva writes, in part,

It’s folly also if as Christians we do not highlight the in-congruence of these “cultural” (scare quotes in the original)  practices with out faith.

is actually laughable. For one, Christians are always praying at ground-breaking of new construction sites. The only difference between what the elders would be doing and the Christians is in the utterances, but the practice is similar. Two, I sympathize with Eva. She has eschewed her African traditional religion without taking a moment to investigate it. She has been told Christianity is right and she is willing to go with it.

Wandia, says it better than I, when she writes

[..]if you can apply such intellectual skills every Sunday listening to sermons bout Jews in Israel 2000 years ago who have nothing to do with your own history, you can do it for your own culture.

In response, without even taking a pause to reflect on Wandia’s response, Eva writes

Of course, Africa cultures are laden with metaphors. The practice of necromancy is however not a metaphor, and even if ignorantly presumed to be one, is odious and an abomination to God. But as the bible also indicates in Deut 27, cursed also is the man who moves his neighbors boundaries (land theft) as is the case here. Also, and I can speak authoritatively for myself if for no one else, what came out of the land of the Jews 2000 years ago has much to do with my own history and present and future than whatever “culture” I was born into. Period.

And with this, I can say without fear of contradiction, the colonialist project succeeded fully. Necromancy or the process of divination, to refer to it differently, was and has been the African way of knowing. Diviners were important members of the society. The community; the living dead, the living and the yet to be born- have to live in harmony. This is the African way. And she is right, though, not the way she means it but the colonial/ slavery project has succeeded in making her believe whatever is African is dark. She can’t even bring herself to write culture without scare quotes.

Again Wandia is right when she writes in response

[..]It is [possible to refute such stupidity using African culture, and that is what I was trying to do.

There has been talk a lot of finding African solutions to African problems. If we cannot bring our cultural histories to address some of the challenges facing us today, we really are lost. We have become a people without a history.

Eva writes, in attempt to backpedal

Indeed, our cultures are capable of condemning witchcraft, but can they do so about necromancy, what with pouring libations to dead spirits, consulting them on burial spots, etc..? I don’t think so… I was raising a flag about what you probably wrote in light touch regarding the dead reminding us to get off the land because I have seen Christians ensnared in these practices without realizing their in-congruence with their professed faith.

my irony meter went burst. I will have to order another. First, she displays her ignorance of African Religion. Two she conveniently ignores the similarity of christian practice with the cultural practices. As a bible believing christian, she must be committed to accepting, as Mathew wrote, that graves opened and the dead walked into town. She is here busy condemning African traditions she knows nothing about.

I agree with Wandia’s closing remark,

The problem is with taking libations literally as feeding the dead. Every society needs to remember those who left before the living, and while Europeans did it through sculptures and monuments, we did it by acknowledging our ancestors and telling our oral histories. We can still maintain the act of remembering while condemning those who want to endorse injustice and greed using African culture. We can still use Christianity for those who believe, but for those who don’t, we must insist the justice, public spaces and environmental conservation are also African concepts.

and add, without fear of contradiction, that Eva is blind to the prayers said to saints(sic) who, to the best of my knowledge, are all dead. I don’t think she condemns that practice. Eva/ Eve is not an African name. She has been made to believe she needs a Christian name. She has forgotten her roots. She has swallowed Christianity is the one true™ religion. Everything African then is dark, primitive and need to be forgotten quickly and erased from history. How misguided can we be?

A god who can flood the whole earth, or send earthquakes to destroy cities cannot be appealed to for conservation. I would argue, the African’s relationship to his environment and the community is more dynamic, more pragmatic and earthbound than the Christian ethic.

Let the African be a Christian, but while at it, let them educate themselves on the content of African Religion. Let the investigate the methodology that was used by the missionary to spread his religion and only then, should they pass judgement on African practices. Doing so while ignorant of the level and extent of brainwashing the missionary used is not only irresponsible but reckless.