[Marxism] Which prophets really existed ?

Greg McDonald gregmc59 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 27 12:55:34 MDT 2012


According to the Pali canon, the Buddha never acknowledged a divinity.
Whenever asked to expound on what occurs after death, the Buddha
simply remained silent.

G.

On Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 2:16 PM, dan <d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr> wrote:

> Apart from Mormonism and Bahaism, the founders of all major world religions
> are really extremely hazy figures, whose exact words and deeds, let alone
> existence, is beyond our ken.
>
> After the death of the founder, schisms inevitably break out as different
> factions vie with each other to take up the undisputed leadership of the
> movement.
>
> IT is clear that early Christians were divided between competing claims
> regarding apostolic successorship, the "12 Disciples" (whoever they were)
> being, according to the book of Acts, initially quite hostile to St Paul's
> mission to the gentiles. Paul refers to James as "Jesus' brother", but this
> is probably a later interpolation, an echo of an ancient feud.
> And according to the Gospels, John the Baptist was a figure who commanded
> much loyalty and thus needed to be "brought down a peg". "Some say your are
> Elijah, others that you are John the Baptist" the Disciples tell Jesus. And
> then there is the incredible editing of the story of the Baptism of Jesus by
> John the Baptist. In Mark, Jesus is simply baptized by John, in the other
> gospels, later editors feel the need to introduce a white dove and a booming
> voice from heaven declaring : "This is my beloved son".  The earliest
> Christian community was obviously trying to assimilate the followers of John
> the Baptist and his "voice in the desert" predication (The followers of John
> the Baptist, known as "Mandaeans" still exist in Iraq although their numbers
> have dwindled due to Islamic persecution). During the three centuries in
> which the NT was put together, some scribes felt it necessary to make Jesus
> John's cousin and have the pregnant mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth,
> declare to Mary that "she felt her baby move in her womb when he was near
> Mary's son".
> The incredible confusion surrounding who first saw Christ resurrected and
> where, is part of the same attempt to make different sectarian sources
> coincide. Did he simply reappear as a mighty spectre to the crowds of
> wailing devotees ? Did he come back in the flesh and instruct the Disciples
> for a period of several weeks ? Did he appear as a vision to St Paul who
> apparently did not have much truck in what the "Disciples" knew (he spent
> less than a week with them after his conversion, and even this meeting with
> the Disciples is probably a later interpolation) ?
> Did a historical Jesus exist ? Yes and no. Yes as there were many wandering
> mystics at the time ("Leave your Father and Mother and follow me", "If
> someone strikes you on the left cheek, turn the right, and if someone steals
> your coat, give him your shirt", "let the little children come to me",
> "blessed are the meek", "do not seek treasures on earth where thieves and
> rust will take it away", "do not worry about tomorrow, the birds do not sow
> or reap", "love thine neighbour as yourself". As I do not have the KJV at
> hand my rendering of these famous biblical passages is ungainly, but no
> matter.) All these central sayings are certainly an amalgamation of the
> words of wise men in the fashion of John the Baptist and other hermits and
> wandering ascetics. Did God become Man and die on the cross for the
> salvation of Mankind, no. The whole Jesus narrative was constructed over a
> period of several generations, encapsulating an important Middle-Eastern
> concept : the dying and resurrecting God of Vegetation in whose honour
> mysteries were performed and who could lead his devotees to eternal life
> having himself been resurrected ( Attis, Dionysos, Cybele, Osiris, Mithras,
> etc., etc.) On top of this was added a Hellenistic, or rather
> Jewish-Hellenistic, concern with Logos and Sophia, with God needing to
> become incarnate in order to restore the creation to a state of perfection
> because of the separation between God and the material world.
> All the 19th century rationalizations of "Jesus as a Revolutionary Zealot
> crucified by Rome" or "Jesus as a Sage who was transformed into a God by his
> followers" are just that, 19th century rationalizations. They bear the mark
> of 19th century Positivism, betray the need to fit the Christian narrative
> into a Liberal or Socialist framework. The claims that there exists
> "documentary evidence for the existence of Christ" is quite simply false,
> and this has been known since the publications of the Tübingen School's
> "Hoch Kriticismus" scholarship in the late 19th century. Not a single
> contemporary author of the 1st century AD records the existence of Christ,
> and the three exceptions have been proven to be very late Byzantine
> forgeries. The Christ as Myth position, on the other hand, is the most
> satisfactory explanation given the social dynamics of the -100 to +300 era.
> The Virgin Birth is a familiar mytheme (and a late addition, given that the
> gospels have to go to great lengths to reconcile Christ's birth at Bethleem
> with his Nazarene origin, introducing the incredible story of the "Roman
> census", the visitation by the Magii from the East, the massacre of the
> Innocents by Herod and the flight to Egypt, etc. none of which have any
> historical basis).
>
> The succession to Muhammad's prophethood was equally troubled and bloody.
> Would it be his descendants, those of his tribe, or his most trusted
> disciples who would become the leaders of the Ummah ?
>
> Buddha's succession was initially similarly uncertain, according to murky
> reminescenses of a conflict between his cousin and his "most trusted
> disciples". In later Buddhist hagiography, Buddha's cousin would become a
> symbol of evil and corruption.
>
> In Mormonism, Joseph Smith was succeeded by his son, but prophet Young took
> over the leadership of the faithful and created a schism that persists to
> this day in Mormonism.
>
> In Bahaism, the Bahai was succeeded by his son, but  his eldest grandson,
> Shoghi Effendi <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoghi_Effendi>, took over,
> producing a will superseeding the Bahai's original will in which he
> entrusted the movement to his son.
>
> In comparison, the struggle to succeed Hubbard at the head of Scientology
> was less open, even though scores of believers left the official Church of
> Scientology and set up smaller sects "in the true spirit of LHR".
>
> So it seems much of the content of a religion is attributable, not only to
> the founder's teachings, but to the manner in which his earthly succession
> is resolved. Indeed, his successors will be the ones setting down the
> founder's words into scripture and they will be the ones tasked with
> organizing the faithful into a coherent community. Only after his death will
> important matters both theological and eminently practical be set in stone,
> and the subsequent movement, having survived its charismatic founder, become
> a world religion ready to influence the destiny of millions of people.
>
> From the perspective of Sociology of Religions, it is the founder's death
> which severs the direct link with God, and brings a religious movement into
> the realm of fallible mortals. Various groups and individuals will have to
> work hard to prove that they are the heirs to the original teaching and can
> indeed interpret these revelations through their own divinely-inspired
> understanding of what the founder meant.
>
> A world religion is thus a complex construction, encorporating many
> divergent views and notions. The need for a scriptural base means that many
> different texts and narratives will slowly coalesce while redactors attempt
> to forge a coherent whole by sidelining aspects of the founder's teachings
> that are difficult to reconcile with the newborn religion's immediate goals.
>
> This is the only way Historical Materialists can view any religion, as a
> product of its time and as the result of conflicting interests leading to
> the emergence of an authority figure who takes on the role of an "Ideal,
> All-Knowing Father". Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Smith, Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri
> et al., all acknowledged that they were both divinely inspired and yet
> subject to human desires. One can always find a passage from the holy books
> of all these religions pointing to the fact that the Individual must
> exercise his own powers of reason in order to find the truth.
>
> The wisdom and the Law laid out by the Father Figure become an ideological
> weapon in the hands of those seeking political dominance. All the more
> reason to directly confront the central authority figure within any given
> religion as the ability to distance oneself from Religion goes hand in hand
> with the ability to distance oneself from a given social order and social
> hierarchy.




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