Easter is always a time for solemn introspection and for many Christians also a time for meditation on the true essence of religion, faith and the identity of Jesus Christ. In order to understand the nature of the Christ (and the nature of Christianity itself) our first task is to break the stereotypes that so often cloud our judgement. The historical figure of יֵשׁוּעַ or יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yeshua; Yahshuah) was in all probability not white, did not have blue eyes and had a typical near-East physiognomy. It’s about time we changed our vision of the man-God whose followers later changed the history of the world.
Canon & Apocrypha
The development of Christianity as a world religion is fascinating. The development of the texts that make up the core of Christian dogma is even more intriguing. Christian texts are often divided into canonical and apocryphal, with the former making up the texts found in the New Testament Bible, while the latter are the texts which have been relegated to ‘non-Bible’ status. Although authentic, apocryphal texts were simply not accepted by early Church leaders as part of the dogma of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, they reveal discrepancies in the very nature of the Christ, sometime subtle, sometimes radically different.
Nature of the Christ
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas reveals a young (five-year-old) Jesus who is quick to anger and mete out vengeance: “…[Jesus] was going through the village again and a running child bumped his shoulder. Becoming bitter, Jesus said to him, “You will not complete your journey.” Immediately, he fell down and died.” The Gospel of Mary Magdalene however reveals an almost Buddhist-like quality to the Christ: “The Saviour said, All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots. For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone.”
In the Sophia of Jesus Christ, a completely different view of God and his son are presented by Jesus: “The Lord of the Universe is not called ‘Father’, but ‘Forefather’, the beginning of those that will appear, but he is the beginningless Forefather. Seeing himself within himself in a mirror, he appeared resembling himself, but his likeness appeared as Divine Self-Father… I want you to know that First Man is called ‘Begetter, Self-perfected Mind’. He reflected with Great Sophia, his consort, and revealed his first-begotten, androgynous son. His male name is designated ‘First Begetter, Son of God’, his female name, ‘First Begettress Sophia, Mother of the Universe’. Some call her ‘Love’. Now First-begotten is called ‘Christ’.”
The Apocrypha reveal a Christ more complex in character and more powerful in stature. Some reveal a more human and emotional Jesus who gets angry, feels love, pain and attachment. In the Apocrypha, Jesus had his ‘favourite’ disciples: James and Mary Magdalene (not Paul) who he both calls ‘beloved’ and kisses each on the mouth. This is a Jesus Christ who, after rising from the dead, did not wind up his activities but “spent eleven years speaking with his disciples” (Pistis Sophia). He is radically different from the Jesus found in the canonical works of modern Christianity. This is a Christ from a very different cosmogony. If this is the case, could the real Christ please stand up?