The Gospel of Impurity
The Biblical racial and doctrinal purity hoax
🔼When cousins marry
Contrary to popular belief, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the natural precursor of Christianity but rather that of our modern scientific tradition — ancient priests were much more alike our modern engineers than our modern pastors — and any quest for dogmatic purity has nothing to do with believing all the right stuff but rather with holding the razor of intellectual rigor to the stubbles of one's biases and prejudices. Any statement of faith is a graven image and demonstrates a dead mind. The signature quality of a living mind is that it celebrates new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:23).
A "believer" will assert that his biases are in fact the truth but then, racial purity is achieved by marrying one's cousin, which is the same thing and has the same intellectual result. Nature rewards those who increase entropy, exalt every valley and lower every mountain, and this is why both science and the Gospel are both without bounds and demand great personal discipline in order to maintain purity of thought. So yes, on one hand all is in, whereas on the other, all is out. It takes some mental juggling to sort what goes in which hand, but the result is a kind of global refinement that's worth all the trouble.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is of course intimately involved with the Jews, or more broadly, the Israelites, or even broader, the Hebrews, and these peoples are often regarded as seeking racial and religious purity, but only by folks who are as uninformed (or insidious) as those who push the supposition that Christianity is the rightful heir to the gospel. It's simply not true, as the following paragraphs will tell.
When in the 6th century BCE the Persian emperor funded the restoration of Jerusalem's temple it was briefly financially beneficial to be a Jew, which is how many an imposter lined up to be considered and the genuine Jews were compelled to check people's backgrounds (Ezra 2:62). In most other times, Jews were on the receiving end of the stick and were forced to assume cultural rigor in order to preserve a collective identity. But never had there been any kind of exclusive elitism among Jews. The idea that some chosen people — the good guys, the guys who subscribe to the one and only true statement of faith — go to heaven and the rest will burn in hell, is typically Christian and ultimately pagan (specifically Roman and most recently National Socialistic). It was never Jewish and is certainly not a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Neither the Gospel nor science has anything to do with joining the right gang or believing the right stuff, and everything with surviving in a world that operates through invisible (Hebrews 11:1), immutable (Isaiah 14:27), but thoroughly knowable rules (Psalm 119:33) that have neither mercy (Ezekiel 5:11) nor preference (Romans 2:11) and will surely get their way lest the whole universe collapses (Matthew 5:18).
🔼Freedom is everything
Our English word "gospel" comes from "good-spell" and means "good news". This good news of Jesus Christ was first told in the first century in Judea, which at the time was suffering greatly from Roman occupation. The four gospels that are part of the modern Bible stem from the time directly after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, when tens of thousands of Jewish men, women and children were crucified in retaliation for resisting the Roman monopoly on violence and taxation. With their last hopes on effective opposition dashed to bloody smithereens, with their country in shambles, with their temple wrecked and with their population being tortured to death or sold into slavery, it took quite an act of audacity to come up with anything called "good news." But they did. And by the obvious evidence of its rapid propagation and ultimate longevity, it was very quickly recognized by a whole lot of very discouraged Jews that this good news was very good indeed.
The good news was actually not all that new, but rather a specialized continuation of what the Hebrews had pondered and celebrated since their very beginning, about 2,000 years earlier (Galatians 3:8). The apostle Paul — who wrote just prior to the emergence of the gospel genre, when the Jewish Revolt was but brewing and the destruction of Jerusalem could still be averted — put it this way: "It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set you FREE" (Galatians 5:1).
Thinking that freedom comes from one specific religion or one specific teaching or one specific warrior or one specific emperor is silly. Freedom is a sustained condition, not merely the ability to choose but rather the ability to keep the ability to choose. And that requires wisdom. Freedom follows an intimate knowledge and deep mastery of the environment in which the freedom is exercised, and for us humans that is the whole of everything; all of nature, all of science, all of human culture, all of psychology, all of statecraft: everything. And all perspectives help and all ideas are worth validating.
Hence the proverbially wise king Solomon lectured not on spirituality and speculation but on "trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows on the wall, of animals and birds and creeping things and fish" (1 Kings 4:33). And Solomon's temple of YHWH became a world-center of learning to which scholars and political leaders from all over the world flocked and contributed (1 Kings 10:24-25). Hence too Paul stated that "in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3) and urged his audience to "carefully examine all things" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
It's silly to think that Christ is limited to Christianity because Christ gives understanding in all things (2 Timothy 2:7) and in Christ everything is summed up (Ephesians 1:10). In Christ everything is believed (1 Corinthians 13:7), everything is clean (Luke 11:41), everything is pure (Titus 1:15), and everything is allowed (1 Corinthians 6:12). Everything is Christ's (Matthew 11:27), and in Christ everything happens (Mark 9:23). The Holy Spirit investigates everything (1 Corinthians 2:10), talks about everything (John 4:25), and teaches everything (John 14:26).
In Christ, we assess everything, and mature in all things (Ephesians 4:15). Everything is in his hands (John 13:3). Everything is under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:27, Ephesians 1:22, Hebrews 2:8). Christ inherits all things (Hebrews 1:2), subdues all things (Philippians 3:21), sustains all things (Hebrews 1:3) and reconciles all things (Colossians 1:20). All things work together for good to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:28) and all things are theirs (1 Corinthians 3:21).
🔼The Gospel of Sovereignty
The word Christ comes from the Greek verb χριω (chrio), to smear or anoint. Ritualistically, the act of anointing was performed upon people who had no earthly superior and were as such sovereigns. These were kings, priests and prophets, and Israel was designed to be a "kingdom of priests," or a "Sovereign State of Sovereigns" or a "Christhood of Christs" (Exodus 19:6).
A Christ is someone who is a sovereign: someone who is entirely autonomous, entirely responsibly for their own actions, and who answers only to the Creator and the natural laws that govern his creation (which is known as the Word or Logos, which is what Christ embodies). In Hebrew this verb is משח (mashah), and the derived noun is the familiar word משיח (mashiah), or Messiah. These words were never reserved for Jesus but are applied to all sovereigns, i.e. all kings, priests and prophets in the Bible.
In the first century, the name Jesus was proverbially common (there are five men named Jesus in the New Testament alone) and since Jews had no surnames, people were commonly designated after the town they came from, or — in case one was an academic — the town where one was educated and intellectually formed. The literary tradition that began to discuss Jesus could have dubbed him "Jesus of Bethlehem," since that was the town of his important ancestor king David, or even "Jesus of Jerusalem," since that was the city of his heavenly Father. But instead they called him Jesus of Nazareth, and Nazareth was either not an actual place or else so inconsequential (both to be from or to be educated at) that no other author in the first few centuries after Christ mentions it.
It's not even clear where the name Nazareth comes from but it looks like a Niphal participle of the verbs זרע (zara') or זרה (zara), both meaning to scatter. That means that the term Jesus Christ of Nazareth is faithfully paraphrased as John Doe the Sovereign from All Over the Place, and that obviously covers more than just one person, even more than all Christians, all Jews or the whole of Israel. It covers the whole human world through all the ages.
Jesus Christ — John Doe the Sovereign — is the fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham, whose blessing would extend to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). Much later, Jesus of Nazareth would speak of drawing all men to himself, when he was lifted up from the earth (John 12:32), which brings to mind the tower of Babel, which was raised to reach the heavens and prevent humanity's scattering (Genesis 11:4). The people who built the tower of Babel attempted to centralize humanity by means of industry and technology, rather than by embodying the Word, and failed like the highly similar Roman attempt would in the Middle Ages. Both failures caused a broad societal collapse, followed by an extended Dark Age, followed by a Renaissance.
To mark the promised resurrection, Abraham initiated circumcision. But instead of making the covenant an inclusive and elite affair, he circumcised himself, his son Ishmael, and all the men who worked for him, both born and bought into his household (Genesis 17:23), and those were hundreds of men: in Genesis 14:14, Abraham took a mere 318 of them to chase some bad guys.
🔼The pattern of impurity
The pattern of redemption, of which the Bible so famously tells, follows the pattern of living growth, with absorption on one end and excretion on the other. The story starts when Adam eats the fruit, Cain is excreted, and Seth becomes the head with which the story continues. Seth's descendant Noah absorbs the animals, Ham is excreted and Shem becomes the head. What Shem's descendant Eber absorbed isn't clear but from his son Joktan came the Babylonian tower-builders, who were excreted, while the story continued with Joktan's brother Peleg, from whom came Abraham.
Arch-father Abraham, the first so-called Hebrew (or Eberite), was a born and bred Babylonian, and so were his wife, the wife of their son Isaac, and the wives of their grandson Jacob (the one who was eventually named Israel). Instead of staying pure and faithful to his native culture and religion, he took off to Haran (that's Assyria), Canaan and Egypt until he finally settled, not on his elitist own but rather with Mamre the local Amorite. And if that wasn't impure enough, Abraham ultimately even merged his convictions with that of an indigenous Canaanite priest of El Elyon named Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18).
After Abraham, the focus of the story continues to narrow and follows Isaac rather than Ishmael, then Jacob rather than Esau. And the head keeps chomping.
When the Israelites were still merely a large family, they likewise did not stay pure but absorbed all the women and children of Shechem, a comparably sized Hivite family (Genesis 34:29). Upon their Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites again did not stay pure but dragged along a "mixed multitude" of non-Israeli fellow-slaves (Exodus 12:38). And upon the destruction of Midian, they assumed 32,000 Midianite virgins (Numbers 31:18 and 31:35).
Jacob's most beloved wife was the Babylonian Rachel, who bore him Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and thus the Israeli tribes they sired, were one quart Babylonian, one quart Israeli and half Egyptian because their maternal grandfather was an Egyptian high priest of the sun at Heliopolis (Genesis 41:50-52).
From the half-Egyptian tribe Ephraim came Joshua, after whom Jesus was named (Numbers 13:8, see 13:16). Jesus' father-by-law was called Joseph, who was from Judah (and was thus a Jew) but Jesus' human genes came from Mary, who was a close kin of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who was a Levite (Luke 1:5, see 1:36). Jesus was therefore a Jew by law but not by descent. The same went for the best friend of Joshua, namely Caleb (Numbers 13:6), whose father was Jephunneh the Kenizzite (Numbers 32:12), and the Kenizzites were a non-Hebrew tribe native to the Levant long before Abraham settled in Canaan (Genesis 15:19).
Caleb's city became Hebron (Joshua 14:14), a Canaanite town, which in turn became the capital of David's Israel (2 Samuel 2:1), before he moved his government to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6). Jerusalem, in turn, was not Jewish but was conquered from the indigenous Jebusites and originally given to the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 1:21).
The tribe of Benjamin, from which would come Israel's first king Saul, Judah's saviors Mordecai and Esther, and finally the apostle Paul, nearly died out but was kept going with a forced influx of 400 non-Israeli virgins from Jabesh-gilead (Judges 21:12, see 21:18) and an untold number of Shiloh (21:21).
The paternal grandmother of king David, whose dynasty would culminate in the Christ, was a Moabite lady named Ruth (Ruth 4:22). Solomon's mother Bathsheba was first the wife of Uriah the Hittite and may very well have been Hittite herself (2 Samuel 11:3). That's not unthinkable because by the time of David, Jerusalem was home to a substantial remnant of Philistine Gittites, a group of Cherethites who possibly were refugees from Crete, and a tribe of Pelethites of unclear heritage (2 Samuel 15:18).
Israel's formative years happened in slavery in Egypt. Their liberator and first leader, Moses, spent the first third of his life in Egypt and the second in Midian, which was in Arabia. Much later, the newly converted Paul too went first to Arabia before he went to Jerusalem (Galatians 1:17). Moses' first wife Zipporah was from Midian and her father, Reuel or Jethro, was a Midianite priest of untold religious allegiance (Exodus 2:16).
Marred by social chaos, Israel began to stratify under the management of Jethro, Moses' priestly father in law. That means that it was this Arabian priest who introduced the idea that every man should personally know the entire law that organized the whole nation (Exodus 18:20).
This simple but brilliant principle obviously reflects the call for individual sovereignty, and is a precursor of both the gospel and science. This signature principle is Jewish only because an Arab planted it at the heart of Israel, which was not a racially, culturally or even theologically "pure" group but a widely diverse hotchpotch of slaves, wash-outs and remnants of pretty much all the ancient nations in the region.
🔼A heart of stone
Israel organized further around its core legislation, which was engraved upon two corresponding sets of stone and kept in a box in a special tent at the heart of the people. This wasn't a fluke of religious flight but a natural phenomenon, self-similar to DNA stored in a prokaryote's nucleoid. Later scholars discovered that the design of both the box and the tent were unmistakably Egyptian. The tent closely resembled the war-tent of Pharaoh Rameses II, and back then, YHWH was still considered a "man of war" (Exodus 15:3).
Israel's national identity derived from the idea that God dwelled in a tent in their midst, but the invention of tent-living was not made by Israel or even any of Israel's most distant ancestors, but by Jabal, a descendant of Cain (Genesis 4:20).
This tent, or tabernacle, ultimately evolved into the celebrated temple of king Solomon, which wasn't "purely" Judaic either but rather a joint venture with the Phoenicians, whose king Hiram supplied all the materials, most of the workers and an essential master craftsman also named Hiram (1 Kings 5:9, 7:14). Modern archeology has revealed that the Biblical description of Solomon's temple comfortably matches the standard Canaanite temple style of the 10th century BCE, and would have fitted right in. Solomon's realm grew to massive proportions but a single temple can only grow so big.
Solomon's temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, and a replacement temple was built by Zerubbabel. But although Zerubbabel and his men did the heavy lifting, the actual temple was commissioned, designed and funded entirely by king Cyrus the Great of Persia (Ezra 6). Later this second temple was expanded (or replaced, rather) by Herod the Great, who was not a Jew but an Idumean and a hated Roman collaborator to boot. His temple, nevertheless, remained a global hotspot at which people from all over the world convened (Acts 2:9-11, 8:27).
And one day, of course, king Herod received a visit from a group of exited foreign dignitaries who spoke of a newly born King of the Jews. We don't know much about these men but the evangelist Matthew calls them Magi (Matthew 2:1), which was a fairly common term to describe the Persian scholarly caste; folks extremely learned in sciences such as astrology, mathematics, statecraft, medicine and agriculture, and additionally so skilled in literature and technology that their name resulted in our English word "magic."
Matthew leaves no two ways about it: the Magi had deducted from their astrological observations of the night sky that the Christ — the Word in the Flesh, i.e. natural law manifested by humanity — was born. The evangelist Luke obviously speaks of the same people, but calls them "shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night" (Luke 2:8). With this he refers to the Jews who had remained in Persia when many of their fellows returned to Judea to build the second temple. This remnant had flourished and formed a network of many separate wisdom schools, that nevertheless maintained one single corpus of verified dogma through intense correspondence.
🔼Like silver refined in a fire
It was long argued that the Bible had fallen out of the heavens fully formed, but that view is now largely abandoned and was never embraced by people who actually knew the Bible. After all, the Bible itself tells the story of how the Word came to be in the world as the story of a baby that was born to common people — a child whose parents worried over him, and who had to learn the ropes just like everybody else (Luke 2:52). Hence David too proclaimed that the voice of the Lord hadn't boomed loud and clear from the heavens for all to hear, but was rather like silver that was refined in a furnace, seven times over (Psalm 12:6).
When David compared the Word to refined silver, he knew very well what that entailed. Someone who wanted silver, first had to know which rock would yield it, where to find such rock and how to retrieve it. And then he had to have the broad technological sophistication to build a furnace, a device that would allow him to make a fire hotter than any fire that occurs naturally. Moreover, since this man spent all his time extracting and purifying silver, he would have to be part of a community that would support his quest. That means that he had to be surrounded by people who would feed him and clothe him and keep him safe. And he in turn needed a way to explain to them what he was up to and why that was such a good idea.
Ever since archeologists unearthed vast libraries of long gone cultures of ancient Egypt, the Hittites in Turkey and the Sumerians in Iraq, we know beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt that the Biblical stories about Israel's patriarchs were based on narrative silver that was harvested and purified from the entire known world, from Egypt to Persia and far beyond. Likewise, the later prophets clearly made use of their knowledge of the Greek poet Homer, not always in favor but certainly as a respectful dialogue with appreciated neighbors.
In the New Testament, Jesus himself incurred the wrath of the Jews of Nazareth by stating that not the widows of Israel but one of Zarephath of Sidon in Phoenicia received the Word though Elijah, and that not the lepers of Israel were cleaned by Elisha but rather Naaman of Syria (Luke 4:25-27). Likewise, Paul made it clear beyond the need for further debate that not merely the sanctioned canon but the whole of human writing is God-breathed and useful for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16). And sure enough, via the respectful citations of Paul, sayings and assertions of very pagan poets made their way into the Bible, most notably Epimenides (Titus 1:12) and Aratus (Acts 17:28).
Conversely, not everything that Paul wrote was automatically canonized without scrutiny: most famously, Paul's Very First Letter to the Corinthians is hinted at in 1 Corinthians 5:9 but isn't part of our New Testament. Likewise, works of Jewish currency that never made it into the canon, nevertheless show up quoted in the New Testament, most notably the story of Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8) and the Book of Enoch (Hebrews 11:5, Jude 1:14).
Conversely, several venerable Hebrew works that were once considered canon, were at some point stripped for their silver but otherwise abandoned: the Book of the Wars of YHWH (Numbers 21:14-15), the Book of Jashar (2 Samuel 1:18), the book of Nathan the Prophet (1 Chronicles 29:29), the Book of Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29), the Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Chronicles 9:29), the Visions of Iddo the Seer (1 Chronicles 9:29), the Records of Shemaiah the Prophet (2 Chronicles 12:15), the Complete Works of King Solomon (1 Kings 4:32) and The Book of Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), the Book of the Matters of the Days of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29) and the Book of the Matters of the Days of the Kings of Israel (1 Kings 14:19).
🔼A heart of flesh
Consciousness has always been a bit of a mystery, also because we moderns think in words, and for language to emerge there need to be large groups of people who try to get into each other's heads. That means that consciousness as we know it is in fact a singular social phenomenon that is manifested in many individuals. Said otherwise: every individual consciousness is a node of a network, and this network creates the nodes as much as the nodes create the network. Society is not a mechanical thing that is governed by a few levers but rather a living consciousness that is governed by deeply complex layers upon layers of over- and undercurrents and inexplicable whirls and eddies.
Science is a tool with which we create a global consciousness, and the first spark of humanity's special (= species-wide) self-awareness is what is celebrated in the Christmas story. Young parents often take joy in observing their baby discover its own body. The infant will notice its own hand fly by and first be startled, but then realize that it can somewhat control that strange flopping thing. When a parent touches the hand, the baby senses with a shock of realization that, yep, that's part of me; there is a me in me.
The baby will be clothed and fed, and it will sleep and joyfully fill its diaper, and grow and learn manners and develop Theory of Mind. And over the years the child will appropriate knowledge and become a person with a mind of its own that will never stop absorbing and turning new ways and becoming new things all together.
And it will know that purity depends not on homogeneousness, but rather on the shared focus of all its elements, the more diverse the better. Absorption needs only to be governed by taste and experience. Excretion is a natural process and takes no effort at all, it needs not to be decided and that which is excreted has no objections to going its way. No sane person would consider chopping off a limb simply because it serves no obvious function (ear lobes, uvula), and discomfort from any bodily manifestation that arises from a genetic consensus at the cellular level (one's physical gender, for instance) can only be remedied at the cellular or social levels but certainly not at the bodily one.
Every human being has about as many cells with a shared DNA as cells with different DNA. The first set is what you call you (the cells that collectively generate your soul or consciousness) and the second set are all your microbes. These microbes don't share your soul but without them you would die. That means that any properly functioning society should be expected to consist of as many natives as aliens. And the natives in turn should be expected to comprise a properly functioning immune system that (a) is lucidly aware of the shared DNA, (b) takes great joy in reviewing alien DNA, and (c) recognizes incompatible DNA from afar and knocks it out.
An inability to fight off a viral enemy is a leading indicator of getting cancer. A society that doesn't know itself will first get confused and then fall apart.
And to be slightly less poetic and more to the point: during the Holocaust an estimated 11 million non-Jews and 6 million Jews were murdered. These Jews, however, famously maintained their own network of synagogues and yeshivas, which functioned within society as a lymphatic system. The presence of lymph in a human body was recognized long before Christ but its actual system wasn't discovered until the 18th century and its function was still largely a mystery until the 20th century. Many observers have commented on the obvious connection between a Jewish background and the propensity towards receiving Nobel prizes, but still the actual social function of the Jewish sub-stratum remains sorely underestimated.
The problem humanity has and which is killing us today is that the destruction of Europe's Jewry and Social Microbial Complex has opened a gaping hole in our societal immune system and we really need to coax these systems back into existence (Zechariah 12:10). Unfortunately, perhaps, both the Social Lymphatic Priesthood and the Social Microbial Complex have to emerge spontaneously and naturally, and cannot be designed by a central committee or government. What facilities these re-emerging social systems will want to occupy (temples, bowling alleys, gaming arcades?) may not be clear but they can only arise when all humans are free to pursue their inklings (within reasonable bounds).
What is clear, however, is that any kind of purity comes not from pursuing radical standards but rather from investing in the weak and the disenfranchised, not from sterile agriculture but from radically reducing the amount of meat we consume (and giving up pig all together). We're getting sick from stress and we really need to get serious about a weekly Sabbath. We need to start listening to our scientists rather than our politicians and product-peddlers, and quit gathering under the banners of bullies like children in a school yard.
Whether humanity lives or dies is unclear at this point in time but what is clear is that the choice is entirely up to us. Here at Abarim Publications we say: Let's choose life (Genesis 18:26, Deuteronomy 30:15, Jonah 2:9).