Introducing Heresium

I wanted to introduce Heresium, a new Facebook page that is a collaboration between Kristyn Hood, Derreck Bennett, and me.  Kristyn has worked over the past few years administrating Mythicist Milwaukee’s Facebook page – she approached me a couple weeks ago about Heresium, and I am very excited to be a contributor to the page.  Also administering the page is Derreck Bennett, author of Addictus: A NonBeliever’s Path to Recovery.

If you’re on Facebook, please follow us.  We’ll be sharing old and new content, and it’s going to be a great hub and resource for Christ mythicists and people interested in comparative mythology and other secular issues.  If you have content you’ve written, or have an author, blogger, or content creator you want to plug, let us know, and (assuming they pass our rigid filtering rules), we’ll share them on our page.

Heresium’s first chosen cover photo was a painting by 17th century Dutch artist Jan Luyken, which depicts the Apostle John running out of a bathhouse in Ephesus – running from Cerinthus.  The painting is a riff on a story originally told by Irenaeus of Lyon in Against Heresies (AH iii.3.4).  Irenaeus wrote that the Apostle John encountered Cerinthus in a bathhouse in Ephesus, and ran away screaming.

Luyken

Irenaeus is an important historical figure.  Not because of his honesty, or his grand wisdom or logically coherent philosophies; rather, he is important because he was one of the earliest prolific Christian writers whose writings still exist.  Based on tradition, internal clues, and authors who were aware of him, Irenaeus probably wrote at the tail end of the 2nd century.

The anecdote Irenaeus gave about Cerinthus and John is probably not true; but it raises an important point:  Irenaeus must have considered Cerinthus one of the earliest Christian practitioners.  As opposed to Valentinus and Marcion, who Irenaues placed in the mid-2nd century (which I suspect is later than they really were), Cerinthus is clearly put in the 1st.  Irenaeus was concerned about constructing a timeline of Christian history – a timeline which I think has permanently inhibited accurate scholarship on real Christian history.

Ironically, it was following this Cerinthian trail that led me to the unapologetic conclusion that Jesus Christ was not a real, individual historical figure.  The common feature of many early Christians is that they believed that a special Christ Spirit in the sky descended onto a man Jesus – Cerinthus, along with the Ebionites, those presumed “men from James” who were hostile to the Apostle Paul, believed this. In other words, it becomes economical (especially in light of a reasonable skepticism to Irenaeus) to presume that this Spirit-descending view was part of the earliest, or earlier, version of Christianity.

In my opinion, the very most economical conclusion in this matrix is that Jesus Christ was simply an abstraction of the ideal Paraclete, the encapsulator of the Christ Spirit.

We liked this painting as the cover photo for Heresium because it is a great metaphor for the current state of Christianity.  The truth has the Apostles on the run.

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Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

11 thoughts on “Introducing Heresium”

  1. Egad, I must have missed something! When did you fist post this gem “we are able to discern the original Christ, a Spirit which served as a replacement to a physical Jewish temple”? This went off like a bombshell in my mind. Tell me you unpack this in a post of yours I missed!

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    1. I think that a lot of critical scholars see a relationship between the emergence of Christianity and the destruction of the temple in 70CE. But I’ve gotten to see Christianity as a carryover of the Diaspora Jewish movement which began sometime after the supposed Deuteronomic reform, which preceded the destruction of Solomon’s temple by a few decades. The link seems quite obvious to me in 2 Esdras 9-10, where Ezra encounters a grieving woman with ashes in her hair who just lost her son – a clear analog to Asherah and Ba’al in pre-Deuteronomic Judaism (and of course the Canaanite traditions, as well). I think this woman with ashes in her hair is the same woman as is in Rev 12. In 2 Esdras, she turns into the city, just as the woman in Rev 20-21 enters “New Jerusalem”. The woman’s son in 2 Esdras was the temple(!). The fact that Revelation is hostile to the 2nd temple seems to me to be an indication that these Diaspora Jews (pre-Christians) were seeking to bring about the return of the original holy city, along with the Queen of Heaven

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  2. I’m probably one of the few but I think a brotherhood group or mystery faith/s revolving around a “Christ” figure or even a “Chrestus” already exists before the common era but it became more prominent around the middle to end of the 1st century CE. Specifically with the Christ figure, there’s already a minority group among diasporic Jews who are cognizant of Greek and some other eastern philosophies especially with the opening of the Silk road.

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    1. I’m very interested in parallels between Christ and Ba’al, especially in light of Sophia. I agree with you that some pre-Christianity probably existed for a while…I’ve made the case that its origins were pre-Deuteronomic reform….

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      1. I know that Exodus 15 aka the song of the sea is an embellishment of the battle between Ba’al the solar deity vs Yamm the sea monster. Moses represents Ba’al whereas Yamm is the pharaoh. This is one of the reasons why the Pentateuch can’t be dated earlier than the middle of the 1st millennium BCE.

        I think there are extant ugaritic texts that confirms parallels between Jesus and Ba’al which I think some Gnostic sects used like the concept of the divine pleroma battling the evil archons and it may well have come from Canaanites.

        I can’t wait for video gane creators to use Gnostic concepts.

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