(BEING CONTINUED FROM 7/1/12)
Fig 12.6: Christos Helios
12.4 Darkening the Sun of Righteousness
Jesus was called the Sun of Righteousness, the Light to the gentiles. Dionysus is the dark side of the sun, opposite Apollo at Delphi, the tragic aspect of Jesus’ passion. Mark 15:33 “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” This apparent quotation of a solar eclipse is mythical because passover is on the full moon.
Jesus identification with Mithra including his birth date being attached to the Julian winter solstice is further indication of his link with the sun.
“The people say the sun dances on this day [Easter morning] in joy for a risen Saviour. Old Barbara Macphie at Dreimsdale saw this once, but only once, in her long life. And the good woman, of high natural intelligence, described in poetic language and with religious fervour what she saw or believed she saw from the summit of Benmore: ‘The glorious gold- bright sun was after rising on the crests of the great hills, and it was changing colour – green, purple, red, blood-red, white, intense white, and gold-white, like the glory of God of the elements to the children of men. It was dancing up and down in exultation at the joyous resurrection of the beloved Saviour of victory.’ To be thus privileged, a person must ascend to the top of the highest hill before sunrise, and believe that the God who makes the small blade of grass to grow is the same God who makes the large, massive sun to move” (Carmichael, Alexander “Carmina Gadelica”, Floris 1994)
12.5 Dining with the Risen Christ
John Spong (1994 198-209) notes that the sacred meal is not just a ritual instituted by the living Jesus but is also the central motif in the manifestation of the resurrected Christ in which “their eyes were opened” just as did Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit: Luke 24:30 “And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. . And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, . And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.”
Luke also conveys the sacred meal as a central motif in the coming Kingdom: 22:28 “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom”.
Spong comments as follows (1994 205): “Luke was saying, it seems to me that eating and drinking at the Lord’s table was part of what it meant to be in the Kingdom of God. That in turn seems to suggest that in the act of eating and drinking in the name of the Lord, here and now, we are sharing a foretaste of that kingdom. Perhaps in such a setting our eyes might well “be opened” to behold the one .”
Fig 12.7: The Supper at Emmaus – Caravaggio (Hendy 127)
The epilogue to John likewise shows Jesus revealed by sharing the sacred meal: 21:12 “Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.” Spong (1992) suggests the siting of htis event in Galilee is consistent with his mission and manifestation being primarily there.
In Acts likewise, the link between the sacrifice of the accursed and experiencing the resurrected Christ through eating and drinking the sacred substance with the redeemer is the central key : 10:39 “And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.”
In Acts 9:5 we find a remark that Jesus is supposed to have made to Paul as he lay on the ground: “It hurts you to kick against the pricks”. This is a quotation from The Bacchae by Euripides (d. 406 B.C.). It’s no surprise to find a quotation from ancient literature; the only peculiar thing is that Jesus should quote a Greek proverb to Paul while speaking Aramaic (“in the Hebrew language”). But the really strange thing is that with both Jesus and Euripides we have the same “familiar quotation” and the same situation. In both cases we have a conversation between a persecuted god and his persecutor. In Euripides, the persecuted god is Dionysus, and his persecutor is Pentheus, king of Thebes. Just like Jesus, Dionysus calls his persecutor to account: “You disregard my words of warning . and kick against necessity [literally’against the goads’] a man defying god”. . Jesus even uses the same plural form of the noun (kentra) that Euripides needs for the meter of his line (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 163).
In 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul once again speaks of his encounter with the risen Christ. This passage is usually translated as, “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. . He means that something happened in which the presence of the Revealer was experienced existentially. This experience means more than an “appearance,” more than a miraculous seeing and hearing. There is no way to define such perception and knowledge, which transcend every element of the senses, which embrace all of existence. But it’s certain that such an encounter with Jesus, as Paul describes it, has nothing in common with the Damascus Show in Acts. In Galatians 1:15 Paul describes the moment with the words “when he . was pleased to reveal his Son to me”.
The Acts of the apostles were mighty . when they prayed, there was an earthquake (4:31). When necessary, it could quake again, so as to free them from their chains and open their prison doors: “But around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s fetters were unfastened” (16:25-26). The scene continues as in The Bacchae (which Jesus had already quoted on the occasion of Paul’s conversion). Euripides writes of the maenads who were being kept in the city’s prison: “The chains on their legs snapped apart / by themselves. Untouched by any human hand, / the doors swung wide, opening of their own accord” (Euripides, The Bacchae, in Euripides V, 11. 447-48; p. 192; cf 11. 497-98).(Ranke-Heinmann 1992 169).
The Dialogue of the Saviour conveys an image of the destruction of womanhood clearly echoing the birth of Dionysus in the destruction of Semele by Zeus’ bolt of lightning, revealing himself to her as he did to Hera: Matthew said: “Destroy the works of womanhood” . The Lord said .”Now a true word is coming forth from the Father [to the abyss] in silence with a [flash of lightning] giving birth] (Robinson 254).
Fig 12.8: Nabataean tragic mask of Duchares with dolphin (Glueck)
The key reference to the second coming, in which Christ appears in glory is Revelation 19:11-16 where ‘I saw heaven opened . he was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood . out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword . he treadeth the winepress’. This reference is derived from a passage of Isaiah 63:1-4 ‘Who is this that cometh from Edom that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? . I have trodden the winepress alone . their blood shall be scattered on my garments . and the year of my redeemed has come’.
Both of these references are exclusively Dionysian in character, both in the winepress and the blood of vengeance of the redeemer as we shall see. The reference to Edom also indicates a specific knowledge of the Nabatean Duchares, God of Gaia who was a form of Dionysus.
The territory of the desert round Machaerus where John baptised and was imprisoned is right on the border with Nabatea whose exampansion had pushed many of the Idumeans further west into sourthern Judea. Herod was of Idumean descent. John the Baptist appears to have been sacrificed as a surrogate king for Herod at a feast after challenging his marriage to Herodias. The cast-off wife was the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea.
The Lexicon Talmudicum and Talmud babli Sanhedrin 106b, 43a, 51a and the Toldoth Jeshu states (Graves 1946 6, 1953 23, 288):
Commentators refer to Jeshu-ha-Notzri [Jesus of Nazareth] by mention of the wicked kingdom of Edom, since that was his nation… he was hanged on a Passover eve… He was near to the kingdom [genealogically]. Likewise the Qur’an refers to Jesus as Isa after Esau the red man of Edom. It thus appears that both the Jews and the Arabs recognised the Edomite character of Jesus’ mission in a way not understood by Christians themselves.
Balaam the lame was 33 years old when Pintias the Robber [Pontius Pilate] killed him… They say that his mother was descended from princes and rulers but consorted with carpenters.
He was lamed while trying to fly [as were Jacob and Ba’alam].
The Mishnah (Baraitha and Tosefta) note the following passages highlighting the tension between conventional Jews and Jesus’ followers (Wilson I 62-4): “It has been taught: On the eve of the Passover they hanged Yeshu … because he practised sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray … Our Rabbis taught Yeshu had five disciples Mattai, Nakkai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah.
Rabbi Elizah ben Damah is cited asking that Jacob came to heal him in the name of Yeshu[a] ben Pantera. He died being forbidden to do so.
A disciple of Yeshu the Nazarene is cited in Sepphoris capital of Galilee saying “It is written in your Torah ‘Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot …’ How about making it a privy for the high priest? Thus did Yeshu … teach me ‘For the hire of a harlot hath she gathered them, And unto the hire of a harlot shall they return’, from the place of filth they come, and unto the place of filth they go”
The Jewish citing of Jesus as son of a Roman ‘Pantera’ [panther] has been cited as another term of derision insinuating Dionysian heritage but a Roman gravestone has been found in Bingerbrück Germany for Julius Abdes Pantera an archer of Sidon, dating from the appropriate early Imperial period.
Another Sanhedrin entry 103a by Rabbi Hisda comments on Psalm 91:10 “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” that “Thou shalt have neither a son nor a disciple who will publicly let his food burn (forfeit his salvation in a public display) like did Jesus the Nazarene”. Rabbi Abbahu taught “If a man say unto thee ‘I am God’ he lieth; if he saith ‘I am the Son of Man’ he will live to rue his words; and if he saith ‘I ascend into Heaven’ he will not bring to pass that which he saith”. These early entries portray an antagonism which in itself explains the attitude in the gospels is not merely anti-Jewish polemic but genuinely records a spiritual tension that arose from the Crucifixion.
Fig 12.9: The Blood of the Redeemer Giovanni Belinni (Hendy 55).
In the Stabat Mater hymn to Mary it says: “Make me drunk with the cross and blood of your son” The Bishop of Aachen comments: “Upon meeting the first person in the morning, I see the Blood of the Redeemer flowing down on him, and I’ll know then that we are the redeemed” (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 274-5).
Saint Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) often had visions of blood when the priest raised the chalice during mass. She would see Christ’s blood spilling over the altar. Of all drinks she preferred red vinegar, because it reminded her “of the blissfull suffering of Jesus. ‘ When the host was broken before her eyes, she saw it turn blood red. Upon taking communion she tasted blood in her mouth and had the sense “of receiving Christ, very small and bloody.” For Catherine, the wine in the Eucharist was more important than the bread, because it expressed better the sacrificing of a victim. For this reason she always wanted to drink from the chalice at mass.
12.8 Yahweh by Jove!
Although revulsion at the head of Zeus in the Temple of Jerusalem was a cause of the Maccabean uprising, Yahweh shares an affinity with Jove viz Zeus as an ancient weather god of the thunderbolt which is more ancient than identification with any planet. Such an affinity in the minds of the common people in folk festivals continued to underly the new view of Yahweh brought back from the exile. Jerusalem, Absalom and Solomon share a root, common to the Near East from Danaan Greece and Crete (Salmoneus) through the Phoenicians (Selim) to the Assyrians (Salman), which is usually associated with peace – shalom, just as does Aphrodite’s dove, appears to represent the sacred king Salmah as the seasonal sun (Graves 1948 332).The Greeks consistently described the rites and worship of the Jewish god as forms of the worship of Zeus Sabazius or Dionysius as the ancient barley god in the Passover and Dionysus Liber god of wine in Tabernacles. Plutarch notes barley sheaves, new wine, torch dances until cock crow, libations, animal sacrifices, and religious ecstasy, noting the prohibition against pork parallels Adonis’s killing by a boar. At the end of Tabernacles the priests announced “Our forefathers in this place turned their backs on the sanctuary of god and their faces to the East, adoring the Sun; but we turn to God”. Dionysus as the darkened Sun is seasonally resurrected in his solar aspect. Tacitus similarly comments “some maintain the rites of the Jews were founded in honour of Dionysus” (Graves 1948 335-6).
The Edomite Dionysus of Revelation
This personage is clearly referred to in Isaiah 63:1 “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come”.
We thus see immediately that the terrible Lord of the apocalypse, the Christ of the second coming is standing directly in this Dionysian tradition in Revelation 19:13: “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”.
Both of these references are exclusively Dionysian in character, both in the winepress and the blood of vengeance of the redeemer as we shall see. The reference to Edom also indicates a specific knowledge of the Nabatean Dionysus Dhu Shara.
This type of language was also central to the earliest aspects of Christianity even before the four gospels we use for our main picture of Jesus were ever written. The earliest and most ancient invocation to Jesus in Christianity is believed to be “Jesus is Lord”, and more specifically “Come Lord Jesus.” (Spong 1994 144). This is precisely the maranatha – “The Bridegroom cometh”.
This same language has always been central to the rites of Dionysus. In Elis a dancing chorus of women invoked the god with the words: “Come, Lord Dionysus”. He is described as “the god who comes, the god of epiphany, whose appearance is far more urgent, far more compelling than that of any other god”. (Otto W).
(TO BE CONTINUED)