In response to: “The Way Forward: A New Christianity, Partition, and a General Operational Plan”

Amalric de Droevig’s “The Way Forward: A New Christianity, Partition, and a General Operational Plan” is not the first time that advocates of white interests launch attacks on Christianity. The writers for The Counter Currents and The National Vanguard — to name just two of them — are doing the same. Detractors of Christianity among the ranks of white activists seem not to notice that they are playing into the hands of those — yes, Marxist, leftist, and liberal circles — which hold Christianity in low regard and would like to see it gone or transformed into something Christian in all but name.

When Christianity was at its best and its strongest in Europe, it kept the Jews down, the Muslims out, and the Whites in, to paraphrase the familiar phrase about NATO. It is only when Christianity became weaker and weaker that it stopped performing its role. Until that time Christians — Christian knights and monarchs along with Christian priests and theologians — were never squeamish about waging wars and forcefully converting others or driving other faiths out. They did all those things with their motives rooted in the Scripture! Think of Charlemagne (mentioned in Amalric de Droevig’s text), think of the Crusaders, think of the Teutonic Knights, think of Jeanne d’Arc, think of the Gott mit uns legend on the belt buckles of the German soldiers during the two world wars, think of… — you name it.

Jeanne d’Arc incited the French Christians to fight the English Christians; the (German) Teutonic Knights waged wars against the Christian Polish state, and while the former resorted for spiritual help to Jesus Christ, the latter did the same invoking the Mother of God; the Czech Hussites reciprocated cruelty upon cruelty in their fight against the German Catholics; German Protestant Christians of the 16th and 17th century relished in butchering German Catholic Christians and vice versa; the list is long, and I am only recalling these facts to show that in none of the historical events did it ever occur to Christians to turn the other cheek and to show meekness. Rather, they readily burnt opponents at the stake or dispatched them in thousands with little or no remorse.

This turn-the-other-cheek attitude has been cleverly induced into the minds of theologically and psychologically feeble Christians by the Saul-Alinsky type of Christianity’s opponents. Remember one of his precepts from The Rules for Radicals? If an organization that is opposed to us states that it will answer each and every letter, heap it with thousands of letters! They will neither be capable of processing them, nor — if they try to do so — will they be able to continue their activity. The same has been done with Christianity, and theologically and psychologically feeble Christians. Christians constantly heard this, “Turn the other cheek! Turn the other cheek! Turn the other cheek!,” and you know what? Christians have swallowed it lock, stock, and barrel! The Saul-Alinsky type of opponent of Christianity acted just like the devil tempting Christ, and quoting Scripture. But wait! What did the Saviour do? He paid the devil back in the same coin: quotation against quotation. So easy, and yet … so hard for present-day Christians.

In a thousand-or-so-pages-thick Scripture you can find quotes for anything you please. The Teutonic Knights, mentioned above, would reference all their military actions to the Bible, justifying conquests and the use of specific kinds of weaponry. Try reading Peter von Dusburg’s Chronicon Terrae Prussiae: page after page after page there are long passages justifying war and the use of swords, spears, shields, bows etc., all rooted meticulously in the Bible. Again, did Jeanne d’Arc talk about turning the other cheek? By no means. Instead, she insisted she had been commanded by God — the Christian God! — to militarily drive out the English from France. Somehow — as far as I know — even though she was later tried, no one advanced the argument that she had violated the precepts of Christianity while advocating war, and — mind you! — there were theologians and priests among her accusers. Why didn’t even they roll out such a crushing argument? It somehow did not occur to them.

So once again, alluding to the paraphrase of the strong Christian creed keeping the Jews down, the Muslims out, and the Whites in: why did Muslims not relocate to Europe at the time when Christianity was Christian apart from the military invasion of Spain? Well, they would not have been accepted and certainly they would not have been able to mingle in Christian societies. They would not have been allowed to build mosques, and so on. Were marriages between Christians and Muslims thinkable at that time? God forbid! Not merely because they were formally forbidden, but because it would not have occurred to a deeply believing Christian to commit such a sacrilege. It gets even more interesting at this point. Christians who cared about their faith at that time could hardly imagine marriages across Christian sects. The readers will be familiar with the strongly anti-Catholic sentiment in the United Kingdom; they may not know, though, that Russian tsars and grand dukes of the 18th and 19th century very frequently married German princesses. The point is that none of these princesses was Catholic — though Germany and its the ruling houses were split in this respect among Catholics and Protestants — and before those women became imperial or ducal spouses, they needed to convert to Orthodoxy. Catholics, you see, would have refused to convert (which by the way exposes what a debilitating effect Protestantism had on the White man’s world). One of the Polish kings would have been accepted as the Russian tsar (at the beginning of the 17th century) if only he had converted to Orthodox Christianity. He didn’t. Zero tolerance. Zero understanding or acceptance of the other, even the other Christian. Creed can be a strong vaccine against aliens, a strong immunological system. A non-Christian Rishi Sunak as a head of a Christian state was unthinkable at that time!

Speaking of Russia, the readers will have known about the Pale of Settlement for Jews; perhaps they do not know that there were certain military decorations that could not be granted to Russian Muslim subjects of Russia’s central Asian provinces. Why am I mentioning all this? To show that the problem lies not in the Christian faith, but in the feebleness of the mind and general effeminacy on the part of Christians, and also in the clever doings of its enemies who exploit selected biblical passages and foist their interpretation on the churches that are foolish enough to accommodate them.

Turn the other cheek… Why not, Crescite et multiplicamini (Be fruitful and multiply)? Why not, “I have not brought peace but war?” Why not go and convert all the peoples? Why not, “Who has not believed is already condemned?” Why not the Old Testament’s (the part of Scripture that Protestants are so enamored of), “Stone him to death! Stone him to death!” for almost everything?

I hope you see the point. Feeble-minded, effeminate Christians have been presented with an anti-Christian interpretation of their own belief by anti-Christians and you know what? Christians swallowed it whole with gratitude!

Amalric de Droevig points to ancient Romans and Greeks having prosperous and flourishing societies that operated without Christianity, but they have disappeared. Where’s the advantage? They grew weak without Christianity (though some put the blame on Christians, which is by no means convincing). Why? Because they stopped believing in what they had believed earlier. Take another example: communism. It crashed in the USSR, but has not in China. Yes, I know, China is sort of capitalist, but still the communist party holds the reigns of power and Marxism-cum-Maosim is the national “creed.” The Soviets gradually stopped believing — BELIEVING — in their “religion,” so they ended up enslaved by their enemies who had been programming the Russian minds for decades that McDonald’s and blue jeans — to put it symbolically — are worth giving up Yuri Gagarin or the Motherland Calls (Родина-мать зовёт).

Consider that also the Soviet Union tried hard to eradicate Christianity in the hope of creating a powerful society and it all came to nothing. Rather, Christian revival is being promoted nowadays in Russia, with President Vladimir Putin calling on Russians to crescite et multiplicamini et replete terram (Russicam) or, to quote the original: “Large families must become the norm, a way of life for all Russia’s peoples,” and “Yes, the Church is separate from the state [but] I would like to note in this context that the Church cannot be separated from society or from people.”

Indeed, it cannot. The West is dying because it has given up on its faith. In an effort to do away with Christianity, which is allegedly guilty of the West’s decline, some try to replace it with Christianity under a new guise. I’m thinking for instance of the National Vanguard and its symbol, which is one of the runes that is just a warped Christian cross. I wonder why of all the runes they selected this one. Their website too is full of anti-Christian sentiment, as if Christianity were to blame for the collapse of the Western world. What they level their guns at are Christians in name only, readers of the Bible and followers of Christian gurus. To a cradle Catholic like myself, such Christianity is weird, to say the least. True, today the Roman Catholic Church increasingly resembles Protestant denominations, but that’s precisely what I am trying to draw the reader’s attention to: the Church has been infiltrated and taken over. The latest papal encyclicals are about ecology and immigration rather than morality and salvation. Is it still Christianity?

In Poland, generally thought of as a Catholic country (along with Italy, Spain, Austria and Ireland, maybe less so France) young people — also among intellectuals — have begun to follow the example of their Western counterparts to ceremoniously make an act of apostasy, and to brag about it on social media. Do you think these are the people who would like to preserve the White race? They had parted with Christianity long before they made the act of apostasy and they are all progressivist, leftist, and globalist. They want us to abandon our faith.

My diagnosis of the problem? It is not the religion of the White man that is to be blame, but the religion’s perception and re-interpretation that have been foisted on Christians incapable of true theological reflection. The churches (and all other White institutions, such as universities) have been taken over and turned into their opposites by clever mindsuckers. Rather than going along the wishes of the mindsuckers, i.e., destroying the remnants of what we, as Whites, still possess, we would do better to reclaim those institutions, and become (again) proud and defiant, and stand our ground. It is easy to roll out counterarguments. Turn the other cheek? Look, Christ did not turn the other cheek when he was slapped in the face during the trial. All people are good and deserving blessing? Quite the contrary is true: there are sons of perdition, individuals for whom it would be better not to have been born because — genetically? — they are incapable of doing good, and so on. You get the point. Do not let the Rules for Radicals operate against you.

Christianity has not become one hundred percent Christ and zero percent Charlemagne; rather, Charlemagne was one hundred percent Christian (“I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”), while the White Man’s World is on its last legs because it is becoming zero percent Christian. That’s what the historical record says, does it not?

Jacek Szela
/yah-tsek shel-lah/

Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Greco-Roman Antiquity New Perspectives on The Lordship of Jesus, Judaism, and the “Truthiness” of Christianity, Part 4

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Conclusion: Relevance to Anglos

What lessons should crypto-Anglo White or Christian nationalists take away from the first-century Jesus movement?  First, notice that this movement emerged among a people in which the diaspora population outnumbered their co-ethnics in Judea.  In addition, both at home and in the dispersion, Jews were experiencing a spiritual identity crisis.  Perhaps Paul’s mission to resurrect the lost sheep of Israel has unexpected relevance to those of us who long for the restoration of the lost tribes of Greater Britain.[i]

Paul’s push for the resurrection of Israel presupposed a deep-seated, ancestral inseparability of ethnicity and religion.  That is to say that the family, the tribe, the nation can, jointly and severally, serve as the syngeneic medium through which the divine, God or the gods, expresses itself in the collective life of a people.  For his followers, the messianic myth of Jesus Christ incarnated the perfected telos of national Israel.  Today, it is impossible to imagine the renaissance of British race patriotism apart from the reunion of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity with an ancestral religion.  Such an ethnoreligious revival must develop both within the Anglo-Saxon diaspora and its ancestral homeland (where the native English and Celtic peoples are undergoing demographic replacement at the hands of a hostile plutocratic elite).

The sacred mythology of Jesus the Christ inspired Paul’s ethnoreligious movement.  The resurrection of British race patriotism, too, must draw on ancestral traditions of sacral kingship rooted in both history and Arthurian legend.  A counter-cultural ethnoreligious movement across the Anglosphere could summon into being our own long-awaited messiah, the Patriot King prophesied by Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke during the Financial Revolution of the eighteenth century.[ii]

British race patriotism could find legitimate expression once again, not in the godless transnational corporate welfare states now mismanaging the Anglosphere, but through a patriot prince devoted to the spiritual welfare of the British peoples.  The modern counterpart of the first-century Jesus movement could emerge in the form of an Angelcynn Network of ekklesia.  Its members would work to secure the independence of the British monarchy in its constitutional role as defender of the faith.  The chief aim of the Angelcynn movement would be to re-consecrate the Crown as head of reformed Anglican churches throughout the Anglosphere, including the USA.  Clearly, King Charles III is unlikely to seek or accept such a role.  The goal must therefore be to shame some honourable man among his heirs and successors into defending the ethnoreligious identity and biocultural interests of the Anglo-Saxon peoples outside and apart from the governments of the historic White Commonwealth.

Such a movement would revise and reform, not reject, the Christian heritage of the Anglican church.  Rather, Jesus and Paul would recover their rightful place in the Angelcynn tradition.  As historical figures, Jesus and Paul would be honoured as Israelite ethnoreligious patriots.  They must also continue to be exalted for their divine agency in consummating the covenantal history of Israel.  Drawing inspiration from both, Anglo-Saxons world-wide could begin the process of exalting gods of our own.  It is long past time, for example, to “translate” Alfred the Great, recognizing him, at long last, as an English David, a Son of God in his own right, who modelled his English kingdom on Old Covenant Israel.

As a practical matter, such an ethnoreligious strategy means that “nationalists” such as Joel Davis and Stephen Wolfe (to name but two) must come out of the WASP closet.  In Australia, Joel Davis would no longer conceal his Anglo-Saxon identity under a White skin suit worn within a supposedly secular political space.  One might also hope that he would cease to profess a universalist Catholic faith altogether detached from his ethnic identity.  Stephen Wolfe, on the other hand, foreswears his ancestral WASP identity in favour of a civic-minded Americanism.  His inner faith, however, exalts the supernatural truths of a worn-out Augustinian metanarrative; his Lord Jesus is a cosmic Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly City of God.  Like other members of the invisible race, Wolfe eschews both Whiteness and Anglo-Saxondom.  Here in the City of Man, he retains “Anglo-Protestantism” only because it is the “true religion” of creedal Christianity.  Every other earthly source of ethnoreligious identity is adiaphorous, a matter of indifference in the eyes of God.

As a spiritual diet, this is thin gruel indeed.  Looking instead to the original Jesus movement for inspiration, WASPs can and must rise from the dead.  We desperately need a messianic new covenant Angelcynnism.  Come, Patriot King.  Come!

[i] The idea of Greater Britain dates from the mid- to late nineteenth century at the peak of British imperialism.  Historians now look back upon the Greater Britain project as a failed utopian vision.  Could a Greater Britain really rise from the dead, like the first-century idea of Israel, within an Anglo-Saxon diaspora under the thumb of the transnational corporate welfare state?  As one might expect, recent scholarship provides ample grounds for pessimism.  See, Sir John Robert Seeley, The Expansion of England: Two Courses of Lectures (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2005) [Original Edition, 1891]; John Wolffe, God and Greater Britain: Religion and National Life in Britain and Ireland, 1843-1945 (London: Routledge, 1994); and two books by Duncan Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007); and idem., Dreamworlds of Race: Empire and the Utopian Destiny of Anglo-America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020).

[ii] See, “The Idea of a Patriot King,” in David Armitage, (ed.) Bolingbroke: Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 217-294.

Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Greco-Roman Antiquity New Perspectives on The Lordship of Jesus, Judaism, and the “Truthiness” of Christianity, Part Three

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The “Truthiness” of Christianity 

In short, Miller “challenges the classic conception of what many regard as the most sacred narrative of Western civilization, namely, that the New Testament stories of Jesus’ resurrection provided alleged histories variously achieving credibility among their earliest readers.”  Instead, he provides “the first truly coherent case that the earliest Christians comprehended the resurrection narratives of the New Testament as instances within a larger conventional rubric commonly recognized as fictive in modality.”  Modern scholarship, by contrast, mistakenly assumes that these texts were intended to present “a credible, albeit extraordinary account of an historical miracle.”  On that assumption, one may then approach the question “from one of two polarized loci: (1) with a faith-based interest in honoring (defending) the most sacred tenet of Christianity; (2) with an atheistic interest to disprove the claims of orthodox Christian doctrine.”  Both positions are unsound.  The first thesis mistakenly supposes that gospel writers proposed the resurrection of Jesus as a historical reality; the second, antithetical, possibility is that the narrative was peddled as an early Christian hoax.  In dialectical terms, Miller advances an “authentic synthesis (tertium quid): the early Christians exalted the leader of their movement through the standard literary protocols of their day, namely, through the fictive, narrative embellishment of divine translation.”[i]

It should be obvious that a sincere, honest response to Miller’s investigation by Christian nationalists such as Stephen Wolfe will demand “a fearless, rational, unwavering commitment to the pursuit of truth.”[ii]  Unfortunately, Christians, generally, appear ill-equipped to meet this intellectual challenge.  Faith-driven presentations of the gospel resurrection tales seem historically plausible only so long as one’s audience knows nothing of their classical literary provenance.  The quarantine protecting the New Testament resurrection stories from exposure to their ancient cultural analogues is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon.

Given Wolfe’s personal preference for the work of older theologians, he has been isolated from critical currents in contemporary New Testament scholarship.  On social media, Wolfe has expressed admiration for the work of the early twentieth-century Orthodox Presbyterian scholar, J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937).  My guess is that Machen has influenced Wolfe’s understanding of the twin “supernatural truths” which upon which his case for Christian nationalism is grounded: “Jesus is Lord” and “Christianity is the true religion.”  In 1921 Machen published a study entitled The Origins of Paul’s Religion.  There, he argued that the truth of Christianity was to be found in a study of its origins.  Machen acknowledged Jesus as the Founder of Christianity but, because He Himself wrote nothing and “the record of his words and deeds is the work of others,” Machen turned to the testimony of Paul as “a fixed starting point in all controversy.”  As Paul was such a central figure in the early history of the Jesus movement, Machen was confident that if one could “explain the religion of Paul … you have solved the problem of the origin of Christianity.”[iii]

Gresham Machen

According to Machen, the religion of Paul “was something new.”  His mission to the Gentiles “was not merely one manifestation of the progress of oriental religion, and it was not merely a continuation of the pre-Christian mission of the Jews.”  Certainly, “the possession of an ancient and authoritative Book” was “one of the chief attractions of Judaism to the world of that day.”  Authority in religion was in short supply.  Paradoxically, however, “if the privileges of the Old Testament were to be secured … the authority of the Book had to be set aside.  The character of a national religion was … too indelibly stamped upon the religion of Israel.”  At best, Gentile converts could “only be admitted into the outer circle around the true household of God.”  For Paul, Machen declares, Gentile freedom (i.e., from the law) “was a matter of principle.”  This principle had, of course, been “anticipated by the Founder of Christianity, by Jesus Himself.”  But, if so, the doctrine of Gentile freedom was based “upon what Jesus had done, not upon what Jesus, at least during His earthly life, had said.”  It was unclear what He intended with respect to the universality of the gospel.  The “instances in which He extended His ministry to Gentiles are expressly designated in the Gospels as exceptional.”  Certainly, as far as his disciples were concerned, “Gentile freedom, and the abolition of special Jewish privileges, had not been clearly established by the words of the Master.”  This meant that there was “still need for the epoch-making work of Paul.”[iv]

Machen contends that Paul’s distinctive achievement was not the geographical expansion of the Church.  Seas or mountains were not “really standing in the way of the Gentile mission.”  Instead, it was “the great barrier of religious principle.”  Paul “overcame the principle of Jewish particularism in the only way in which it could be overcome; he overcame principle by principle.”  The real apostle to the Gentiles, Machen believed, was Paul the theologian, not Paul the practical missionary.  It was his achievement to exhibit “the temporary character of the Old Testament” by enriching the historical, logical, and intellectual understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Consequently, “Gentile freedom, and the freedom of the entire Christian Church for all time, was assured.”[v]

Machen declares that, by convincing others, Jews, and Gentiles alike, that Jesus is Lord, Paul compelled the religion of Israel to go forth “with a really good conscience to the spiritual conquest of the world.”  Henceforth, “when Christian missionaries used the word ‘Lord’ of Jesus, their hearers knew at once what they meant.  They knew at once that Jesus occupied a place which is occupied only by God.”  In the final chapter of his book, Machen defends “the historical character of the Pauline message.”  The religion of Paul, he concludes, “was rooted in an event … the redemptive work of Christ in his death and resurrection.”  It was based on “an account of something that had happened … only a few years previously.”  The facts of that event, the death and resurrection of Jesus, “could be established by adequate testimony,” Machen writes.  Moreover, “the eyewitnesses could be questioned, and Paul appeals to the eyewitnesses in detail” (cf., 1 Cor. 15:3-8).  He staked everything on the truth of what he said about Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection.  Machen poses the issue in uncompromising terms: If Paul’s account of that event “was true, the origin of Paulinism is explained; if it was not true, the Church is based upon an inexplicable error.”[vi]

Richard C. Miller’s mimetic criticism of the gospel resurrection narratives presents defenders of Machen’s Christian apologetic, such as Stephen Wolfe, with a stark choice.  If the Resurrection of Jesus was, as a matter of fact, just one among many classical fictive narratives of divine translation, in what sense (if at all) can one still proclaim that “Jesus is Lord” and that “Christianity is the true religion?”  Neither Paul’s nor Machen’s appeal to “eyewitness” testimony will be sufficient to close the case.  That possibility has been foreclosed by Miller’s detailed examination of the “eyewitness” tradition that became “the political protocol in the consecration of those most supremely honored in Roman government” during the Julio-Claudian dynasty.[vii]

The legendary example of Julius Proculus, the alleged “eyewitness” to the post-mortem appearance of Romulus, contributed to the “senatorial tradition of the eyewitness to the apotheosis of the Roman emperors” between 27 BC and 284 AD.  The chief historians of the period typically devoted considerable space to the tale.  The “senators (as an act of consecration), plebes, and successors assigned glory and deification to a deceased emperor through the process of formal “eyewitness” testimony to the monarch’s translation.”  For example, following the death of Caesar Augustus, “the Roman senators carried an effigy of his body in grand procession to the Campus Martius, the location where Romulus achieved apotheosis.”  In accordance with the structured requirements of the translation fable, this “public funeral did not involve the actual corpse of the emperor, but a substituted wax effigy.”  According to tradition, “the witnesses must not find any charred bones, once the pyric flames have gone their course.”  The scenario also provided for a prominent eyewitness “who took oath that he had seen the form of the Emperor on its way to heaven, after he had been reduced to ashes.”[viii]

One suspects, however, that Anglo-Protestant evangelicals are unlikely to be impressed by such scholarly skepticism as to the historicity of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus.  Faith-based conservative evangelicals still condemn as a “heretic” any supposed Christian questioning—what Stephen Wolfe might call the “supernatural truth” of—the futurist eschatology outlined in various creeds.  Accordingly, Pastor Douglas Wilson (whose Canon Press publishes Wolfe’s book on Christian nationalism) recently joined many other religious leaders in signing an open letter which calls upon Gary DeMar (head of the American Vision ministry) to recant his alleged refusal to affirm “the future, bodily, and glorious return of Christ, a future, physical, and general resurrection of the dead, the final judgement of all men, “and the tactile reality of the eternal state.”  DeMar was accused of denying “critical elements of the Christian faith” by declining to label full preterism as “heretical”[ix] (preterists hold that all of God’s promises to Old Covenant were fulfilled at the time of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD).[x]

But what is “truth?”  A correspondence theory of truth holds that a statement “is true if it corresponds to the facts; and, conversely, if it corresponds to the facts, it is true.”  It would be difficult to maintain that any of the propositions put to Gary DeMar by his critics satisfies a correspondence theory of truth.  On the other hand, the scholarly field of “mimetic criticism” lends credibility to a coherence theory of truth.  Here, truth is defined “as a relation not between statement and fact, but between one statement and another.”  On this view, “no actual statement … is made in isolation: they all depend upon certain presuppositions or conditions and are made against a background of these.”[xi]  A practitioner of mimetic criticism such as Richard C. Miller might agree, therefore, that it is true that Romulus, Caesar Augustus, and Jesus Christ were all resurrected (or translated) from the dead through exaltation to divine status.  But would Wolfe or Pastor Wilson concede that Jesus’ resurrection, along with the Second Coming of Christ, are truths anchored, not in history as it happened, but in the realm of myth, legend, or fiction?  If not, creedal Christianity is characterized, at best, less by its demonstrable “truth” than by its “truthiness.”

Was Paul a Jew, an Israelite, or a Christian?

It may still be, however, that the religion of Jesus and Paul was true in another, pragmatic, sense.  Miller hints at this issue when he observes that “the mythic dimensions of cultural stories, rather than being the mere arbitrary product of a supposed whimsical human imagination, arise out of the innate anthropological, psychic disposition of the peoples who produce and value them.”  In other words, myths “arise out of the subconsciously discerned survival and adaptive needs” of individuals and groups in relation to their “social and physical environment.[xii]  Robyn Faith Walsh more pointedly observes that Paul was “constructing a myth of origins for his audience.”  Many of his rhetorical strategies were “constituent of Paul’s larger project of religious and ethnopolitical group-making.”  She characterizes Paul as “a religious and ethnopolitical entrepreneur” for whom “ethnicity is not a blunt instrument; it is an authoritative frame for achieving cohesion among participants, and one that calls for a sense of shared mind and practice.”  Accordingly, Paul “proposes that God’s pneuma is intrinsically shared among his addressees, binding them together.”[xiii]  On a purely pragmatic view, Paul’s ethnotheology became true or false depending upon whether it worked.  Of course, any assessment of the degree of practical success achieved by Paul and the Jesus movement turns on our understanding of the goals they pursued.

Practitioners of mimetic criticism, such as Walsh, Miller, and Dennis R. MacDonald, locate New Testament writers within the discursive realm of Greco-Roman literature.[xiv]  They show that the work of Paul and the gospel writers functioned as a strategy for constructing new, or resurrecting old, social identities, aiming in the first instance at Hellenized Jews and God-fearing Gentiles in both Judea and, more broadly, throughout the Dispersion.  Other scholars have moved beyond literary analysis to examine the geopolitical breadth of the movement’s aims as well as the deep historical roots of its ethno-religious identity.  Together, both approaches effectively undermine J. Gresham Machen’s claim the “universalism of the gospel” was incarnate in both Jesus, whose redemptive work made possible the Gentile mission, and Paul, who discovered the true, theological significance of Gentile freedom.[xv]

Certainly, Machen found it difficult to deny that Jesus attached an ethnic identity to the God of Israel.  He conceded that Jesus’ disciples would not have been “obviously unfaithful to the teachings of Jesus if after He had been taken from them they continued to minister only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”[xvi]  Closer to our own day, another prominent Pauline scholar, James Dunn acknowledged that Jesus recognized the covenantal boundary around Judaism by “his choice of twelve to be his closest group of associates, with its obvious symbolism (12 = the twelve tribes)” and in “the picture of the final judgement in terms of the twelve judging the tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28/Luke 22:30).”  But, like Machen, Dunn gives Paul credit for making clear the importance of “Gentile freedom.”  Paul brought the universal significance of the gospels into the light of day.  He taught that “faith in Christ is the climax of Jewish faith, it is no longer to be perceived as a specifically Jewish faith; faith should not be made to depend in any degree on the believer living as a Jew (judaizing).” [xvii]

But did Paul really refuse to require his Gentile converts to judaize as Dunn claims?  This raises an even more fundamental question: What were the goals of Paul and the Jesus movement?  Were Jesus and Paul on the same page with respect to those goals?  Jesus certainly looked forward eagerly to the imminent end of the age and the promised restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel.  He was not alone.  “Whether in the diaspora or (however defined) in the homeland,” restoration theology occupied a prominent place in the Jewish mind in the first century.  Diaspora Jews may have lived in pleasant and prosperous circumstances but they never “dropped traditional restoration eschatology in favor of a more positive perspective on the dispersion.”  In fact, educated Hellenistic Jews regularly portrayed diaspora as exile.  At the same time, most believed that “the diaspora would ultimately turn out for the best.”  Staples suggests that “exile and diaspora simultaneously serve[d] as punishment for sin and the means for redemption, the greater good brought out of redemptive chastisement.”[xviii]  Amidst such a tense but expectant socio-cultural atmosphere, Jesus’ direction to his disciples to serve the lost sheep of Israel launched an apocalyptic, ethno-religious movement aiming to resurrect the twelve tribes of Israel.

But how could Paul’s mission to the Gentiles serve the goals of a restorationist theology focused on the idea of Israel?  The standard Christian answer turns on a reading of Romans 11:25–26.  There, Paul suggests that the salvation of “all Israel” will not happen “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”  Creedal Christian theologians, such as Manchen and Dunn, interpret such passages as downplaying the specifically, and narrowly, Jewish restoration eschatology in favour of an apocalyptic vision embracing the whole of humanity.  Dunn, for example, writes that Paul’s “apocalyptic perspective … looked beyond the immediacy of the situation confronting his mission and the Israel of God.”  In doing so, he “set the local or national crisis of Israel’s identity within a cosmic framework.”  The coming Kingdom of God “had a universal significance.”  Like Machen, Dunn maintains that Paul was against “Jewish privilege” and in favour of Gentile freedom and equality in the eyes of God.  “No national or ethnic status, or we may add, social or gender status (cf. Gal. 3:28), afforded a determinative basis for or decisive assurance of God’s favour.”  That universalist principle applied not just to Israel but to the world at large.[xix]

Paula Fredriksen and Derek Lambert of MythVision

Paula Fredriksen takes issue with this interpretation of Paul’s mission.  She flatly rejects any reading of Paul’s letters from which he “emerges as the champion of universalist (‘spiritual’) Christianity over particularist (‘fleshly’) Judaism.”  She sets herself in opposition to scholars such as Machen and Dunn for whom “Paul stands as history’s first Christian theologian, urging a new faith that supersedes or subsumes the narrow Ioudaϊsmos of his former allegiances.”  In her view, far from superseding his Jewish identity, Paul preached “a Judaizing gospel, one that would have been readily recognized as such by his own contemporaries.”  His “core message to his gentiles about their behavior was not ‘Do not circumcise!’  Rather, it was “Worship strictly and only the Jewish god.”  He required Gentile “ex-pagans” to abandon the “lower gods” of their kinfolk.  They would retain their native ethnicity but live, in a certain sense, outside and apart from their co-ethnics.  Having received the holy spirit, these Gentiles “were to live as hagioi, ‘holy,’ or ‘sanctified’ or ‘separated-out’ ethne, according to standards of community behavior described precisely in ‘the Law.’”  But he did not expect, much less require, Gentile males to undergo circumcision.  On the other hand, he nowhere “says anything about (much less against) Jews circumcising their own sons. … He opposed circumcision for gentiles, not for Jews.”  Israel must remain Israel.  God’s coming Kingdom “was to contain not only gentiles, but also Israel, defined as that people set apart by God by his Laws (e.g., Lev 20.22–24).”[xx]

Paul, according to Fredriksen, “maintains and nowhere erases the distinction between Israel and the nations.”  At the same time, however, his rhetoric erases “the distinctions between and among ‘the nations’ themselves.”  The nations or “ethnē function as a mass of undifferentiated ‘foreskinned’ idol-worshippers (if outside the movement) or of ‘foreskinned’ ex-idol-worshippers (if within).”  The God of Israel is also the god of other nations as well.  “But the nations by and large will know this only at the End.”  And the point to bear in mind here is that “Paul, a member of a radioactively apocalyptic movement, sees time’s end pressing upon his generation now, mid-first century.”[xxi]  Moreover, “for Paul, the more intense the pitch of apocalyptic expectation, the greater the contrast between Israel and the nations.”  It was this “ethnic-theological difference between Israel and the nations, the nation’s ignorance of the true god, is what binds all of these other ethnē together in one undifferentiated mass of lumpen idolators.”  At the End, “this sharp dichotomy is resolved theologically, but not ethnically: Israel remains Israel, the nations remain the nations (cf. Isa 11.10; Rom 15.10).”[xxii]

According to Paul’s “eschatological arithmetic” the world consists of the seventy nations listed in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10) and the twelve tribes of Israel.  At the End, all “will, somehow, receive Christ’s pneuma” (spirit).”  Gentiles-in-Christ (who Fredriksen describes as “eschatological Gentiles”) will “rejoice with saved Israel, but they do not ‘become’ Israel. … Even eschatologically—that is, ‘in Christ’—Jews and Gentiles, though now in one ‘family’ are not ‘one’.”[xxiii]  Yet, paradoxically, while Paul’s ethnē-in-Christ are not-Israel, they are not only “enjoined to Judaize to the extent that they commit to the worship of Israel’s god alone and eschew idol-worship,” they “must behave toward each other in such a way that they fulfill the Law.”  For Paul, “the only good gentile is a Judaizing gentile.”[xxiv]

Clearly, there are unbridgeable differences between Fredriksen, a convert to Judaism, on the one hand, and Anglo-Protestants such as Machen, Dunn, and Pastor Doug Wilson, on the other.  But, on one issue, at least, they all agree: both Jesus and Paul must be considered failed prophets.  Fredriksen is confident that “the historian and theologian know something that the actors in this [eschatological] drama could not; namely, that Jesus Christ would not return to establish the Kingdom within the lifetime of the first (and, according to their convictions, the only) generation of his apostles.”[xxv]  Unsurprisingly, atheistic/agnostic scholars such as Bertrand Russell, Bart Ehrman, and Richard C. Miller share that view.

Consequently, few scholars of any stripe, Jewish, Christian, or non-believer, will appeal to a pragmatic theory of truth to uphold the truth of the eschatology of the first-century Jesus movement.  Fredriksen even expresses surprise that Paul remained convinced even at mid-century that the End would come within his own lifetime: How, after a quarter-century delay, could he reasonably assert that ‘salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed?’”[xxvi]

Despite Fredriksen’s incredulity, Paul’s expectations turn out to have been reasonable on the assumption that he looked forward to the end of the Old Covenant age, not the end of the world.  Tom Holland, to cite but one prominent scholar, suggests that both Jesus and Paul framed their eschatological expectations as a New Exodus.  Paul insisted “that Israel’s experience of Exodus whether from Egypt or Babylon was only a rehearsal of the forthcoming eschatological salvation.”  Israel was separated from God and “shut up under Sin,” refusing to heed the message of the gospel.  Israel herself “was now behaving like Pharoah” in opposing the Exodus of the people of God.  In the mimetic character of that New Exodus, Paul could hardly be surprised that forty years would elapse before judgement was visited upon Old Covenant Israel and “the holy city, new Jerusalem” came “down from God out of heaven” (Rev. 21:2).[xxvii]  And, remembering the death of Moses, Paul must have known that he might not live to see that day (Deut. 34:1-8).  In other words, prima facie, a pragmatic case can be made for the credibility of the eschatology foreshadowed in the religion of Paul.  Certainly, the covenant eschatology of Don K. Preston and other preterist biblical scholars does just that.[xxviii]

The work of Jason A. Staples on Paul and the resurrection of Israel lends additional support to the biblical truth of both restoration theology and covenant eschatology.  It is important here to note the difference between Staples’ thesis and Fredriksen’s claim that both Jesus and Paul were working “within Judaism.”  Fredriksen has no doubt that Paul was “an ancient Jew, one of any number of whom in the late Second Temple period expected the end of days in their lifetimes.”  She is no less confident that, in Paul’s mind, “whether ‘now’ (mid-first century) or in the (impending) End time, ‘Israel’ is the Jews.”[xxix]  Staples calls both propositions into question.  He points out that Paul prefers “to identify himself as ‘of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin’ (Phil 3:5; Rom 11:1; 2 Cor 11:22) rather than using the more generic term ‘Jew’.  In addition, Paul frames his ministry in ‘new covenant’ language, suggesting the centrality of the restoration of all Israel to his gospel.”[xxx]

Paul’s “new covenant” theology echoes Jeremiah 31:31 but, Staples reminds us, “Jeremiah’s prophecy primarily concerns the reconstitution of all Israel—that is, that both Israel and Judah will be restored by means of God’s writing the law on their hearts.”  This implies, however, that “the covenant will be madeonly with Israel and Judah,” given that Gentiles are not mentioned in the prophecy.  But it turns out “that faithful Gentiles (those with ‘the law written on their hearts’; see Rom 2:14–15) are the returning remnant of the house of Israel, united with the faithful from the house of Judah (cf. the ‘inward Jews’ of Rom 2:28–29).”  It matters not “whether Paul actually imagines that all redeemed Gentiles are literal descendants of ancient Israelites.”  Gentile inclusion was to be the means of Israel’s promised restoration because the seed of the northern tribes was mixed “among the Gentiles—thus God’s promise to restore Israel has opened the door to Gentile inclusion in Israel’s covenant.”  Staples cites Hosea 8:8 to sum up the situation: “Israel [the north] is swallowed up; they are now in the nations [Gentiles] like a worthless vessel.”[xxxi]

By means of this process, God has provided for the salvation of the Gentiles by scattering the northern tribes “among the nations only to be restored.”  By this means, the new covenant also “fulfills the promises to Abraham that all nations would be blessed, not ‘through’ his seed (i.e., as outsiders) but by inclusion and incorporation in his seed (Gal 3:8).”  These faithful Gentiles need not, however, “become Jews (that is, Judah) in order to become members of Israel—rather they have already become Israelites through the new covenant.”

Go to Part 4.

[i] Richard C. Miller, Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity (New York: Routledge, 2015), 180–182.

[ii] Ibid., 182

[iii] J. Graham Machen, The Origins of Paul’s Religion; The James Sprunt Lectures Delivered at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, Leopold Classical Library, [Original publication, 1921], 4-5.

[iv] Ibid., 12-15.

[v] Ibid., 17, 19.

[vi] Ibid., 13, 316.

[vii] Miller, Resurrection and Reception, 75.

[viii] Ibid., 66-75.

[ix] “An Open Letter to Gary DeMar of American Vision,”

[x] See, e.g., Don K. Preston, Who is this Babylon? (Ardmore, OK: JaDon, 2011) and

[xi] W.H. Walsh, Philosophy of History: An Introduction (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), 73, 76.

[xii] Miller, Resurrection and Reception, 104.

[xiii] Walsh, Origins of Early Christian Literature, 37-39.

[xiv] Dennis R. MacDonald, Synopses of Epic, Tragedy, and the Gospels (Claremont, CA: Mimesis Press, 2022).  This reference work based on MacDonald’s mimetic criticism provides a comprehensive collection of parallels between New Testament writers and classical Greco-Roman literature.  There is no space here to discuss those examples.

[xv] Machen, Origin of Paul’s Religion, 13-14.

[xvi] Ibid., 15.

[xvii] Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 114, 133.

[xviii] Staples, The Idea of Israel, 204, 208.

[xix] James D.G. Dunn, The New Perspective on Paul, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: William B.Eerdmans, 2008), 328-329.

[xx] Fredriksen, Paul, 108, 111-113.

[xxi] Paula Fredriksen, “Paul, Pagans and Eschatological Ethnicities: A Response to Denys McDonald,” (2022) 45(1) Journal for the Study of the New Testament 51, at 56.

[xxii] Fredriksen, Paul, 114-116.

[xxiii] Ibid., 88; Matthew Thiessen and Paula Fredriksen, “Paul and Israel,” in B. Matlock and M. Novenson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies 365, at 378.

[xxiv] Fredriksen, Paul, 117, 125.

[xxv] Paula Fredriksen, “Judaism, the Circumcision of Gentiles, and Apocalyptic Hope: Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2,” (1991) 42(2) Journal of Theological Studies 532, at 533.

[xxvi] Ibid., 533 n.4.

[xxvii] Tom Holland, Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey of the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings (Fern, Scotland: Mentor, 2004), 211.

[xxviii] Don K. Preston, “We Shall Meet Him in the Air:” The Wedding of the King of Kings! (Ardmore, OK: JaDon, 2010).

[xxix] Paula Fredriksen, “What Does it Mean to See Paul ‘within Judaism’?” (2022) 141(2) Journal of Biblical Literature 359, at 379; Fredriksen, “Reply to McDonald,” 60 (emphasis added).

[xxx] Staples, “What Do the Gentiles Have to Do with ‘All Israel,’” 378.

[xxxi] Ibid., 380-381.

Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Greco-Roman Antiquity New Perspectives on The Lordship of Jesus, Judaism, and the “Truthiness” of Christianity, Part Two

Go to Part 1.

What Do We Know About Jesus and His Movement?

For Christians such as Stephen Wolfe, the declaration that “Jesus is Lord” signifies that Jesus is God.  It is, however, not at all obvious that the historical Jesus considered himself to be a divine being, on a par with the ruler of all creation, the Lord of lords and King of kings.  Nor did his disciples.  James Dunn contends, however, that the “earliest forms of the Jesus tradition were the inevitable expression of their faith in Jesus.”  The first forms of that disciple faith were not yet the “Easter faith, not yet of the gospel as it came to be expounded by Paul and the other first apostles.”  They were nonetheless “born of, imbued with, expressive of [a] faith” produced by “the impact Jesus had made severally upon them.”  Dunn insists that there is no point in scholarly efforts to distinguish the “historical Jesus” from the Christ of faith.  There is only one Jesus available to us; namely, “Jesus as he was seen and heard by those who first formulated the traditions we have.”  According to him, “we really do not have any other sources that provide an alternative view of Jesus or that command the same respect as the Synoptic Gospels in providing testimony of the initial impact made by Jesus.”[I]

But, of course, the earliest written versions of the pre- and post-Easter disciple faith did not appear until twenty or so years after the death and reported resurrection of Jesus.  Dunn appeals to a process of oral transmission to bridge the gap between the death of Jesus in 30 AD and the earliest manifestation of a written tradition of faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  He assumes that “the great majority of Jesus’ first disciples would have been functionally illiterate.”  So, too, would most of the earliest followers of the Jesus movement.  Accordingly, we cannot assume that Jesus himself was literate.  That being so, “it remains “overwhelmingly probable that the earliest transmission of the Jesus tradition was by word of mouth.”  Inevitably, therefore, oral faith tradition was a group tradition “used by the first churches and [was] presumably at least in some degree formative of their beliefs and identity.” [II]

Having grown accustomed to the written forms of the Jesus tradition, we naturally prefer such literary explanations.  While Dunn presents a case for confidence in the oral histories lying behind the written gospels, he acknowledges the “brutal fact…that we simply cannot escape from a presumption of orality for the first stage of the transmission of the Jesus tradition.”  As a “living tradition” of oral performances, the early Jesus tradition must have been both stable and variable, fixed and flexible.  Dunn maintains, however, that the variability of the oral tradition “is not a sign of degeneration or corruption.  Rather, it puts us in touch with the tradition in its living character, as it was heard in the earliest Christian groups and churches, and can still be heard and responded to today.”[iii]

Dunn’s thesis begs at least two important questions.  One such issue, whether the earliest ekklesia of the Jesus movement can properly be described as “Christian,” will be dealt with below.  The other is whether the gospels really were histories or biographies.  In other words, did they transmit a true and historical witness to the characteristic features of the Jesus tradition, thereby reflecting “the original impact made by Jesus’ teaching and actions on several at least of his first disciples?”[iv]  On this issue, Dunn reflects the conventional approach to the Synoptic gospels.  Ever since the nineteenth century, most scholars have characterized the gospel authors as literate spokespersons for their religious communities.

Robyn Faith Walsh, however, doubts that the gospel writers were engaged in “documenting intragroup ‘oral traditions’ or preserving the collective perspectives of their fellow Christ-followers (e.g., the Markan, Matthean, or Lukan ‘churches’).”  Instead, she argues, “that the Synoptic gospels were written by elite cultural producers working within a dynamic cadre of literate specialists—including persons who may or may not have had an understanding of being ‘in Christ’.”  Her recent work on early Christian literature compares “a range of ancient bioi (lives), histories, and novels” to the gospels, concluding that the latter works “are creative literature produced by educated elites interested in Judean teachings, practices, and paradoxographical subjects in the aftermath of the Jewish War” (66–73 AD).[v]

Walsh contends that the gospel writers were not “strictly concerned…with writing histories.”  Nor, however, should their works be treated “principally as religious texts.”  New Testament scholars, she believes, “muddle” the social context in which the gospel writers worked by presuming antecedent “oral traditions, Christian communities, and their literate spokesmen.”  Like Dunn, they “continually look for evidence of socially marginal, preliterate Christian groups…treating the gospel writers not as rational actors but as something more akin to Romantic Poets speaking for their Volk.”[vi]

In contrast, Walsh approaches the gospels as a classical scholar “would any other kind of Greco-Roman literature.”  She observes that “Greek and Roman authors routinely describe themselves writing within (and for) literary networks of fellow writers—a competitive field of educated peers and associated literate specialists who engaged in discussion, interpretation, and the circulation of their works.”  Given “such a historical context, the gospel writers are not the ‘founding fathers’ of a religious tradition.”  Rather, they are better understood as “rational agents producing literature about a Judean teacher, son of God, and wonder-worker named Jesus.”  The gospels, therefore, “represent the strategic choices of educated Greco-Roman writers working within a circumscribed field of literary production.”[vii]

Walsh calls into question Christianity’s own myth of origins, treating it as an example of the “invention of tradition.”[viii]  Unlike Dunn, she rejects the “limiting perspective that accepts the first-century Jesus movement as a recognizable and coherent social formation.”  It is only the “uncritical acceptance of Christianity’s myth of origins” that authorizes the assumption that “Christianity” emerged in the first century as a “spontaneous, cohesive, diverse, and multiple” movement.  She does acknowledge that “it is possible that the authors of the Synoptic gospels were associated in some measure with a group of persons either interested in or actively participating in practices pertaining to the Jesus or Christ movement.”  But, “ultimately,” she says, that “remains conjecture.”[ix]

Speaking of conjecture, it is significant that Walsh blithely asserts that the Synoptic gospels were produced in the “aftermath of the Jewish War” while, in the next paragraph, remarking that her study does “not scrutinize dates for these writings.”[x]  The cognitive dissonance created by the juxtaposition of those two statements immediately called to my mind the vivid impression left by the professor in my first-year honours history class as he repeatedly and forcefully emphasized the importance of accuracy in the dating of historical documents and events.  This is a perennial issue in New Testament scholarship.  Despite the existence of several solid studies dating, not just the Synoptic gospels, but the New Testament, as a whole, to the period prior to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70, it is commonplace for scholars to assign later dates to the book or books under discussion.[xi]  Studies of the Book of Revelation are particularly prone to this practice since a post-70 date allows scholars to ignore the destruction of Jerusalem and instead to treat the book as a prophecy of the doom awaiting the Roman empire, the papacy, or modern-day America.  Agnostics and atheists who, by definition, deny the credibility of biblical prophecies of a providential divine judgement on Old Covenant Israel also have an obvious incentive to assume late dates for the New Testament writings as do theologians committed to a futurist eschatology.

Walsh clearly prefers a late date for the Synoptic gospels.  On her account, their authors were independent of oral tradition, producing creative literature by employing the conventional tools of their trade.  The stories they crafted were “beholden to the dictates of genre, citation, and allusion” arising from within a circle of peers.  No mere reflection of oral tradition, their literary choices presented “an idealized view of Jesus and his life using details more strategic than historical.”  Consequently, their work now presents scholars seeking to reconstruct the past based on such creative literary artefacts with a problem: “how can we meaningfully distinguish between fiction and history?”  But is it necessary to choose between “oral tradition” emanating from functionally illiterate, religious “communities” and the “creative literature” produced by gospel authors who “were similarly trained and positioned, working within cadres of fellow, cultural elites?”[xii]

Walsh doubts that whatever faith might have been engendered by Jesus among his disciples and those who heard their stories was sufficiently powerful to inspire a spontaneous, cohesive, and autonomous ethnoreligious movement operating in his name before the Jewish War.  Given such skepticism, Walsh’s assumption of a late date for the gospels makes sense.  By the late first century, if Hellenistic writers had little more than Paul’s letters to work with, they clearly would have been on their own in fleshing out the story of a Judean Christ.

But there is a strong case for an early date for each of the Synoptic gospels.  Moreover, something like Walsh’s literary community of educated Hellenized Jews was certainly present in both Judea and the diaspora well before AD 70.  Members of a Hellenistic Jewish intelligentsia already steeped in the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Bible must have been influenced by a widespread sense of impending doom spreading among first-century Jews of all social classes.  Writers steeped in such an apocalyptic interpretation of restoration theology would have been well-placed to serve as “organic intellectuals” and publicists for the embryonic Jesus movement in major urban centres throughout the empire.[xiii]  Such an ethnoreligious movement had little need for well-researched and fully documented biographies of the historical Jesus.  Instead, the authors of the Synoptic gospels competed with other writers (and each other) to generate idealized mythic portrayals of a god-like messiah come to usher in the kingdom of God.

Jesus as Lord

In Mark, the shortest and probably the first of the Synoptic gospels, the very first verse identifies Jesus as the Son of God.  For Christians, ever since the Council of Nicaea in the early fourth century, “Son of God has been the key title for Christ.”  As such, it “has all the overtones of the full-blown Trinitarian formula— ‘Son of God’ means second person of the Trinity, ‘true God from true God, begotten not made,’ etc.”  But, as James Dunn points out, this was not the case in Jesus’ lifetime.  In the Hebrew Bible “it could be used collectively of Israel…or in the plural in reference to angels, the heavenly council…or in the singular of the king.”  Indeed, more generally still, the title could be used to characterize anyone “who was thought to be commissioned by God or highly favoured by God.”  Even in relation to Jesus, “initially at least, ‘son of God’ did not necessarily imply any overtones of divinity.”[xiv]  In time, of course, the title, as applied to Jesus, did suggest that he was divine in some sense.  But, even though first-century Jews “believed that there was only one God Almighty,” as Bart Ehrman reminds us, “it was widely held that there were other divine beings—angels, cherubim, seraphim, principalities, powers, hypostases.”  Moreover, there was no impassable gulf between the human and the divine.  “Angels were divine, and could be worshipped, but they could also come in human guise.”  Conversely, it was possible for humans to become angels or demi-gods.[xv]

What about Jesus?  In all three Synoptic gospels, when (1) Jesus is baptized by John; (2) the heavens were torn asunder; (3) a voice from heaven was heard; (4) the voice declared Jesus to be his Son; and (5) the Spirit descended.  Similarly, the temptation narratives which follow agree that (1) the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness; (2) Jesus’ sojourn there lasted forty days; and (3) he was tempted by Satan.  Whether Matthew and Luke predate the gospel of Mark or expand upon it, their temptation stories provide essential insight into how Satan tempted Jesus in the desert.  They reveal the psychic fault line within Jesus’ messianic consciousness.  The Son of God is bound by filial loyalty to the Father; yet Jesus is also by right the uncrowned king of the Jews, and presumably of a restored Israel as well.  Hence, he is bound by religious obligations rooted in blood, law, and tradition to share and respect the worldly ambitions of his tribe and people.  In Mark’s mythic image of Paradise Restored, Jesus remains curiously passive while Satan actively works his wiles.  By contrast, in Matthew and Luke, Jesus resolutely resists three powerful temptations.[xvi]

Knowing that Jesus has fasted for forty days and nights and is bound to be famished, Satan challenges him to demonstrate that he really is the Son of God by commanding that the stones at his feet be made bread (Matt. 4:2).  Satan’s first temptation calls to mind John the Baptist’s rebuke to the Pharisees and Sadducees several verses earlier in the text.  There, John warns them “not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham (Matt. 3:9).  John expects the carnal pride displayed by these representatives of the Jewish religious establishment to be followed by a fall.  Anticipating Paul’s mission to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11), John is certain that the ethnoreligious movement soon to be launched by Jesus will produce so many children of Abraham (according to the spirit) that Abraham’s seed (according to the flesh) will be provoked to jealousy.  In effect, when tempting Jesus to flaunt his miraculous powers as the Son of God, Satan serves as a stand-in for the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Having failed in his first attempt, the tempter holds out another enticement calculated to fire the imagination of first-century Jewish Zealots keen to restore Israel to her former imperial glory.  Satan takes Jesus to the top of the highest mountain, pitching the prospect of dominion over all the kingdoms of the world if only he will “fall down and worship me (Matt. 4:9; Lk. 4:7).  Jesus rejects this temptation as well.  Nor is he moved to weaken his determination not to tempt God when Satan sets him upon a pinnacle of the Jerusalem temple, inviting Jesus to prove that he is the Son of God by jumping off the edge, trusting in angels to save him from certain death (Matt. 4:5-7; Lk 4:9-12).

Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 help us to see that Satan’s three temptations reflect the irrepressible conflict between the two personae incarnate in Jesus’ messianic consciousness, the exalted Son of God, and the historical king of the Jews.  During those forty days in the desert, Jesus struggled to reconcile those potentially contradictory roles.  In both gospel narratives, Jesus resolves his messianic identity crisis.  In doing so, he learns how to preach the Word to his people—the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 10:6)—in accordance with the will of the Father.  He also learns that Satan will dog his footsteps to the cross and beyond.  Clearly, the temptation narratives in the Synoptic gospels encapsulate the world-historical conflict between the spiritual Israel of God and Old Covenant Israel according to the flesh.  In fact, the seismic shift in the foundations of the cosmic temple during the first century drove the entire cast of characters in the gospels towards the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.[xvii]

It is a mistake to read the temptation stories as an account of the sort of existential crisis that might face any human being in any time and any place.[xviii]  Jesus faced those temptations, not because he was a human being but as a remarkably gifted and devout Jewish holy man descended through the royal line of David from the seed of Abraham.  Scot McKnight demonstrates that “Jesus’ God is the national God of Israel, not some abstract universal deity.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he is the God of David and of the prophet; he is the God of the Maccabees and of John the Baptist.”  Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God was animated not “by an abstract religious feeling but [by] a concrete realistic vision for God’s chosen nation.”  It “concerned Israel as a nation and not a new religion”.  Accordingly, “[w]hen Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the kingdom to come (Matt 6:10), he surely had in mind more than an existential encounter with the living God that would give his followers an authentic experience”.  For McKnight, it follows that “[t]he most important context in which modern interpreters should situate Jesus is that of ancient Jewish nationalism.”[xix]

Both John and Jesus “had one vision for their contemporary Israel, and that was for Israel to become what God had called it to be.”[xx]  For Jesus, God was not a universal deity.  Israel stood in a covenantal relationship with the Father known to no other nation.  Throughout the narrative of the Hebrew Scriptures, “God never destroys his offspring…but rather pursues them in order to bring them to perfection.”[xxi]  The telos of that covenantal history was to be perfected in the Lord Jesus and the righteous remnant of Old Covenant Israel; they alone were the true Israelites, forever separated from the false Israelites when the nation faced its final judgement (Matt 13:41-43).  Jesus’ messianic mission was “to lead Israel away from a national disaster and towards a redemption that would bring about the glorious kingdom.”  From the time of his confrontation with Satan in the wilderness it became clear to him that he would have “to offer himself consciously and intentionally to God as a vicarious sacrifice for Israel in order to avert the national disaster.”[xxii]

But there was more than one vision of Israel’s destiny in the popular imagination of first-century Judaism.  Steeped in a tradition of chauvinistic religious rhetoric dating back to the Maccabean revolt in the second century BC, most first-century Judeans scoffed at the notion that “true Israelites” were not “destined to be part of God’s eschatological people…on the basis of heredity.”  They rejected the charge made by John the Baptist and Jesus that Israel according to the flesh had “forfeited their enjoyment of covenant blessings and was in exile “because of unfaithfulness and sinfulness.”  Certainly, they did not believe that “God was forming a new people” based solely on repentance, righteous obedience, and covenant faithfulness.”[xxiii]

Most first-century Jews were confident that the God of Israel would rest forever in a temple made by hands in Jerusalem.  Few took seriously Jesus’ warning that in their lifetime a newly inaugurated kingdom of God would pronounce final judgement on Old Covenant Israel and throw the “false Israelites” into the flames of hell. (Matthew 13:40-43).  Jesus knew his fellow Jews longed instead for the restoration of national Israel according to the flesh.  Indeed, inspired as he was by his own national vision for Israel, he shared the messianic longing resonating within the blood faith of his people.  In his heart of hearts, Jesus could not properly deny the satanic spirit of the Maccabees and the zealots a fair hearing.[xxiv]  Indeed, Jesus saw that spirit at work even in his disciples, most notably on the occasion in Mark 8:31–33 when he administered the sternest possible rebuke to Peter: “Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”[xxv]

To put the matter plainly, it was not his generic humanity tempting Jesus with bread, universal dominion, and independence from the Father.  Rather, it was his inner Jew.  The historical Satan emerged within the breast of the historical Jesus Christ.  As a charismatic personality, at ease in crowds, recognized in childhood as the king of the Jews, and by the Father as his Son, Jesus could hardly fail to empathize with all but the most grandiose aspirations of his own once-holy people.

Did Jesus Think He Was God?

In the New Testament, Jesus is often given the title “Christ,” a Greek translation of the Hebrew word for messiah, meaning “one who is anointed.”  As with a “Son of God,” to be anointed was to be “chosen and specially honoured by God…in order to fulfill God’s purposes and mediate his will on earth.”  Both titles could be “used to refer not to a divine angelic being, but to a human being.”  Some Jews “deeply committed to the ritual laws given in the Torah” had the idea that the messiah would appear as a great and powerful priest who would serve as a future ruler of Israel, interpreting and enforcing the law of God.  More commonly, first-century Jews looked forward to the appearance of a messiah as a mighty warrior who would overthrow the oppressors who had taken over the promised land, thereby restoring both the Davidic monarchy and the nation of Israel.  Others held to a more apocalyptic vision in which the coming of the messiah would bring a new creation, not just a political revolution, but “the Kingdom of God, a utopian state in which there would be no evil, pain, or suffering of any kind.”[xxvi]

According to Bart Ehrman, it seems likely “that Jesus’s followers, during his lifetime, believed that he might be this coming anointed one.”  But they certainly did not expect him to die and rise from the dead.  Nor did Jesus.  But he did think of himself as the messiah.  He did expect to become the king of Israel, not by means of political struggle or military victory, but when God intervened in history to destroy the forces of evil and to make Israel a kingdom once again ruled through his messiah.  He prophesied, publicly and privately, that the kingdom would arrive when the Son of Man came in judgement against everyone, and everything opposed to God.  In fact, Ehrman observes, “Jesus told his disciples—Judas Iscariot included—that they would be seated on twelve thrones ruling the twelve tribes of Israel in the future kingdom.”  Ehrman is convinced that “Jesus must have thought that he would be the king of the kingdom of God soon to be brought by the Son of Man.”  Everyone knew that the future king of Israel would be the anointed of God, the Messiah.  “It is in this sense that Jesus must have taught his disciples that he was the messiah.”[xxvii]

Both Jesus and his disciples expected that the messiah was destined to defeat the enemy; instead, the putative messiah was “arrested, tortured, and crucified, the most painful and publicly humiliating form of death known to the Romans.”  Such an outcome “was just the opposite of what Jews expected a messiah to be.”  But then “they came to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and this reconfirmed what had earlier been disconfirmed.”  Their faith was restored: “He really is the messiah.  But not in the way we thought!”[xxviii]

Dr. Bart Ehrman

Ehrman hastens to add that, while the historical Jesus did think of himself as “a prophet predicting the end of the current evil age and the future king of Israel in the age to come,” he never—not in the Synoptic gospels at least—called himself God.  Of course, in the gospel of John, “Jesus does make remarkable claims about himself.”  For example, in John 8:58, “Jesus appears to be claiming not only to have existed before Abraham, but to have been given the name of God himself.”  Ehrman argues that not only was the gospel of John produced later than the Synoptics, but verses, such as Jesus’ proclamation that “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), “simply cannot be ascribed to the historical Jesus.”  Instead, Ehrman tells us, “What we can know with relative certainty about Jesus in that his public ministry and proclamation were not focused on his divinity; in fact, they were not about his divinity at all.”  Rather, they were about what “the kingdom that God was going to bring.  And about the Son of Man who was soon to bring judgement upon the earth.”[xxix]

But, if the historical Jesus never claimed to be God, how did this messianic Judean prophet become a Hellenized cosmic Christ?  That story, Ehrman explains, begins with the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  “It was only afterward, once the disciples believed that their crucified master had been raised from the dead, that they began to think that he must, in some sense, be God.”[xxx]  Before his death, the followers of Jesus believed that he was the messiah, the king of the future kingdom.  After the discovery of the empty tomb, they were convinced that he had been exalted to the heavenly realm.  It was then that they knew he was the future king and fully expected him to come from heaven to reign as the Son of Man.  In his role as the Son of Man, Jesus would have been understood to be a divine figure.  Indeed, in one sense or other, in all four of his exalted roles—as messiah, as Son of God, as Son of Man, and as Lord—Jesus was divine.  But, in no sense did his followers understand Jesus to be God the Father.  Ehrman emphasizes that:

whenever someone claims that Jesus is God, it is important to ask: God in what sense?  It took a long time indeed for Jesus to be God in the complete, full, and perfect sense, the second member of the Trinity, equal with God from eternity, and “of the same essence” as the Father.[xxxi]

How Did Jesus Become God?

Even if Jesus did not become fully God until the fourth century, his divine status was assured at the resurrection.  As a historian, however, Ehrman does not think “we can show—historically—that Jesus was in fact raised from the dead.”  When “it comes to miracles such as the resurrection,” he declares, “historical sciences simply are of no help in establishing exactly what happened.”  In other words, Ehrman is not saying “that the resurrection is what made Jesus God.”  Rather, “it was the belief in the resurrection that led some of his followers to claim he was God.”  In short, Ehrman denies the historicity of the resurrection.  As far as he is concerned it never happened.  As for the empty tomb, it too is no more than legend.  Victims of crucifixion were not given proper burials.  Indeed, he claims there is good reason to accept “the rather infamous suggestion,” made by John Dominic Crossman, “that Jesus’s body was not raised from the dead but was eaten by dogs.”[xxxii]

Other historians make the similarly unorthodox suggestion that the facticity of the empty tomb and resurrection narrative may not have mattered, as such, to those who constructed it.  Richard C. Miller, for example, contends that the gospel resurrection narratives were never intended to demonstrate historical truth through research and evidence.  Sometime around 150 AD Justin Martyr admitted as much in his 1 Apology.  As summarized by Miller, the burden of Justin’s Christian apologia was as follows: “We, O Romans, have produced myths and fables with our Jesus as you have done with your own heroes and emperors; so why are you killing us?”  This appears to be an admission “that the earliest Christians had composed Jesus’ divine birth, dramatically tragic death, resurrection, and ascension within the earliest Christian Gospel tradition as fictive embellishments following the stock structural conventions of Greek and Roman mythology.”[xxxiii]  In other words, the gospel accounts of the risen Jesus differ in detail but not in kind from fables surrounding antique Mediterranean demigods such as Hermes, Dionysus, and Heracles, as well as emperors such as Caesar Augustus.

Indeed, Miller observes, Justin’s argument does “not even qualify as an ‘admission’ per se but merely arose as a statement in passing, as though commonly acknowledged both within and without Christian society.”  Justin’s point, however, was not just that there was “nothing unique” or sui generis about the “dominant framing contours of the Jesus narrative.”  His apology also “asserted that the classical pantheon was, in truth, a cast of demons.”  Nor was this assertion the product of a reasoned line of argument.  Rather, Justin flatly declared “that the gods were to be understood as wicked and impious.  Only out of ignorance did the classical world regard such demons as deities.”  It might seem that the Greeks were saying the same things as the Christians but, Justin affirms, the Greek legends “arose by the inspiration of ‘evil demons’ through the ‘myth-making of the poets’” By contrast, Justin simply pronounces the Christian narratives to be “true” without providing any further evidence or reasoned argument to support his claim.[xxxiv]

This was a rhetorical rather than philosophical or historical strategy.  Justin was attempting “to assign archaic precedence to Judeo-Christian tradition.”  He simply proposed “that demons inspired the classical writers to produce lies or fictions that proleptically mimicked the Christian Gospel narratives.”  Miller suggests that Justin’s apology marked a step beyond the task facing the gospel writers in the first century.  That is to say that, at first, the gospel “stories succeeded inasmuch as they were capable of appropriating, riffing on, and engaging the conventions of the classical literary tradition” in ways which appealed to an audience comprising both Hellenistic Jews and Gentile God-fearers in diaspora synagogues.  By the middle of the second century, however, “early Christians had their sights on a higher prize: a comprehensive cultural revolution of the Hellenistic Roman world.”  In this strategic context, it was no longer “enough that Jesus should join the classical array of demigods. … [H]e must obtain a sui generis stature, while condemning all prior Mediterranean iconic figures.”  Such ambitions placed new demands on the rhetorical style of Christian apologetics, requiring “an underlying shift in the proposed modality of the Gospel narratives, moving along the continuum from fictive mythography towards historical fact.”[xxxv]

At their appearance in the first century, however, the gospels, the letters of Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles already reflected a “fundamental metanarrative or theme” which amounted to “the systematic abrogation of nearly every isolationist, separatist practice of early Judaism.”  According to Miller, “the forms of these urban early Christian constructions were, more often than not, at their core lifted from the structures of classical antique culture, often with a mere outward Judaistic decor.”  The resurrection narratives of the New Testament were “first composed, signified, and sacralized in the Hellenistic urban world of Roman Syria, Anatolia, Macedonia, and Greece, these works typically reflected and played on crudely stereotypical myths of Jewish Palestine.”  Their syncretic language reflected the adaptation by early Judeo-Christian theology of antique Greco-Roman forms such as “Zeus-Jupiter, with his own storied demigod son born of a mortal woman.”[xxxvi]

So outlined in the neutral scholarly language of “comparative analysis,” it is easy to miss the explosive significance of Miller’s thesis.  But, simply by refusing to apply the definite article in reference to the allegedly “unimaginable miracle” which is collectively supposed to be “the singular impetus for the birth of Christianity, Miller challenges the fundamental presuppositions of contemporary Christian apologetics.  He denies that one can speak, in the context of Greco-Roman antiquity, of the Resurrection, the Empty Tomb, the Event, the Mystery.  He condemns the tacit agreement according to which classicists designate and relinquish to New Testament scholars a uniquely partitioned and sacralized discursive space surrounding “the question of the historicity of Jesus’ narrated resurrection.”  His own study identifies “a detailed, shared conventional system between the Gospel resurrection narratives” and what are known to classicists as “the extant translation narratives of Hellenistic and Roman literature.”[xxxvii]

Miller subsumes the “resurrection” language of the Gospels under the broader “translation topos” found in Hellenistic and Roman cultures.  He demonstrates how the latter “tradition functioned in an honorific capacity.”  In other words, “the convention had become a protocol for honoring numerous heroes, kings, and philosophers, those whose bodies were not recovered at death.”  He points to “the translation of Romulus … as the quintessential, archetypical account for a pronounced ‘apotheosis’ tradition in the funerary consecration of the principes Romani.”  The Romulus fable relates how the

legendary founding king of Rome, while mustering troops on Campus Martius, was caught up to heaven when clouds suddenly descended and enveloped him.  When the clouds had departed, he was seen no more.  In the fearsome spectacle, most of his troops had fled, but the remaining nobles instructed the people that Romulus had been translated to the gods.  An alternate account arose that perhaps the nobles had slain the king and invented the tale to cover up their treachery.  Later, however, Julius Proculus stepped forward to testify before all the people that he had been eyewitness to the translated Romulus, having met him travelling on the Via Appia.  Romulus, according to this tale, offered his nation a final great commission and again vanished.[xxxviii]

Miller provides a lengthy catalogue of similar translation fables and contends that such tales “provide a mimetic background for the Gospel narratives.”  Like Robyn Faith Walsh, Miller finds that Greek, Roman, and first-century Hellenistic Jewish writers competed, not just with each other, but with older authors such as Homer to mimic, improve upon, and embellish existing examples of the translation topos, or genre.  He argues, very persuasively, “that the textualized Romulus indeed figured prominently within early Christian resurrection narrative construction.”  He then discusses what such mimetic, rhetorical performances “achieved within the cultural milieu of a Romano-Greek East, that is, in the primitive centuries of the rise of Christianity.”  In a distinctly understated fashion, Miller remarks that his “book also tacitly delivers a rather forceful critique of standing theories regarding the likely antecedents of the early Christian ‘resurrection’ accounts.”  In particular, he takes careful aim at modern Christian apologetics which deny any antecedents.  He attributes such efforts to endow the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with a sui generis status to “a perspective typically arising out of ‘faith-based discourse.’” [xxxix]

Miller “sets forth a more satisfying thesis, a model that more comprehensively explains the available data, namely that such narratives fundamentally relied upon and adapted the broadly applied cultural-linguistic conventions and structures of antique Mediterranean society.”  In this cultural context, the early Christian resurrection tale functioned “as an ideology and not as an argued event of history.”  Early Christian writers, Miller writes, “did not attempt a case for the historicity of the resurrection of their founding figure.”  Instead, Jesus was deployed in the gospel resurrection narratives as “a mythic literary vehicle.”  Miller defines “myth” as “a sacred narrative or account” that served to frame the present for the Jesus movement.  The resurrection myth functioned, like the Greco-Roman translation fable, “to undo tragic loss, reclaiming the hero in a modal reverie of heroic exaltatio.”[xl]

Miller argues that the innovation of the Gospel postmortem accounts did not reside in the employment of the translation fable convention per se, but in the scandal of the application of the embellishment to a controversial Jewish peasant, an indigent Cynic, otherwise marginal and obscure on the grand stage of classical antiquity.”  Jesus emerges as a mythic literary figure in the gospels rather than as a historical actor.  As Miller puts it, the risen Jesus became the iconic “image of a counter-cultural ideology” through the conscious appropriation by the gospel writers of the literary protocols of the ancient Hellenistic Roman world.[xli]  In accordance with such protocols, Paul and the gospel writers presented Jesus as unique, not because he was exalted as a god following his death, but because he was better than the other gods of the classical world.

[I] James D.G. Dunn, A New Perspective on Jesus: What the Quest for the Historical Jesus Missed (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 25, 31.

[II] Ibid., 41, 36, 43.

[iii] Ibid., 53, 125.

[iv] Ibid., 69-70.

[v] Robyn Faith Walsh, The Origins of Early Christian Literature: Contextualizing the New Testament within Greco-Roman Literary Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021), xiii-xiv.

[vi] Ibid., 3-6.

[vii] Ibid., 5-6.

[viii] Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).

[ix] Walsh, Origins of Early Christian Literature, 32-33, 35.

[x] Ibid., xiii-xiv.

[xi] Cf. John A.T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1976) and Jonathan Bernier, Rethinking the Dates of the New Testament: The Evidence for Early Compostion (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2022).

[xii] Walsh, Origins of Early Christian Literature, 4-6.

[xiii] The term “organic intellectuals” was coined by the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), but it is not at all anachronistic when transposed into the context of an ethnoreligious movement with geopolitical ambitions in the first century.  See, Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, (eds. and trans.) Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (New York: International Publishers, 1971), 5-23.

[xiv] Dunn, Partings of the Ways, 170-171.

[xv] Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (New York: Harper One, 2015), 83.

[xvi] Andrew Fraser, Dissident Dispatches: An Alt-Right Guide to Christian Theology (London: Arktos, 2017), 424-446.

[xvii] On the Old Testament account of the creation of the cosmic temple, see John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Dover Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009).

[xviii] See, e.g., Helmut Thielicke, Between God and Satan: The Temptation of Jesus and the Temptability of Man [orig. ed., 1938] (Farmington Hills, MI: Oil Lamp Books, 2010).

[xix] Scot McKnight, A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1999), 69, 83, 6, 10.

[xx] Ibid., 6.

[xxi] Anthony D. Baker, Diagonal Advance: Perfection in Christian Theology (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), 77.

[xxii] McKnight, New Vision, 147, 13.

[xxiii] Ibid., 62, 110-115.

[xxiv] Ibid., 136-137, 146-147, 96.

[xxv] Mark does not identify Satan’s three temptations in 1:13, but in 14:30 (just before standing trial before the Sanhedrin) Jesus predicts, accurately, that a satanic impulse will cause Peter to “disown me three times” before the cock crows twice.  Shortly afterward, the disciples fall asleep three times while on guard duty, revealing the tempter within at work again with a suite of counter-Trinitarian snares likely to entrap Jesus’ closest followers (Mark 14:37-41).

[xxvi] Ehrman, How Jesus Became God, 113-115.

[xxvii] Ibid., 115-119.

[xxviii] Ibid., 116-118.

[xxix] Ibid., 124-128

[xxx] Ibid., 128.

[xxxi] Ibid., 208-209.

[xxxii] Ibid., 132, 157.

[xxxiii] Richard C. Miller, Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity (New York: Routledge, 2015), 2.

[xxxiv] Ibid., 1-3.

[xxxv] Ibid., 4-5.

[xxxvi] Ibid., 12-13.

[xxxvii] Ibid., 15-16 (emphasis added).

[xxxviii] Ibid., 16.

[xxxix] Ibid., 16.

[xl] Ibid., 16-17, 158, 162.

[xli] Ibid., 180.

Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Greco-Roman Antiquity New Perspectives on The Lordship of Jesus, Judaism, and the “Truthiness” of Christianity, Part One


On the dissident right down-under, the intellectual, spiritual, and moral bankruptcy of mainstream Australian “conservatism” is a well-worn topic.  Everyone expects conservatives to cuck when the question of White genocide or the great replacement is raised.  Should attention shift away from racial politics to the relationship between politics and religion, however, most conservatives and radical rightists reveal a shared loyalty to a secular regime separating church and state.

This became evident to me while listening to a recent podcast discussion between Blair Cottrell (a photogenic, patriotic chad and working-class, “tradie,” activist from Melbourne) and Sydneysider Joel Davis (an on-line activist of a more educated and intellectual bent. [1] At first, both stuck to the usual script, agreeing that Anglo-Australian (or White) nationalism will never become a serious contender for state power in Australia so long as the Labor-Liberal duopoly retains its long-established stranglehold on mainstream party politics.  But then, the conversation briefly strayed off the beaten path.  Frankly clutching at straws, Cottrell wondered whether religion—Christianity, in particular—might offer an alternative medium for fruitful nationalist activism, outside and apart from the state.  Davis immediately demurred, advising against mixing religion and politics.  While avowing his personal faith in Catholicism as the “true religion,” he worried that making race a religious issue (or vice versa) would undermine the already fragile unity of the embryonic nationalist movement among White Australians.

In a supposedly secular society such as contemporary Australia, such a view passes as the conventional wisdom.  Significantly, what goes unmentioned here is the relationship between ethnicity, specifically Anglo-Australian, or White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) ethnicity, in its relationship to both state and church.  This is especially remarkable in Australia where WASPs are still a (shrinking) majority of the population.  How, then, did religion become separated from Anglo-Australian ethnonationalism?  Indeed, how was Anglo-Australian ethnicity itself relegated to the margins of political discourse on the dissident right?  Why should an Anglo-Protestant ethnic majority adopt instead a generic “White” or “European” racial identity?   Why should they forswear their collective birthright to an ancestral stock of social, cultural, and spiritual capital—the common blood, language, and religion—generated in the course of a unique history played out on a global stage?

After all, not so very long ago, Irish Catholics in Australia and elsewhere routinely employed the church in pursuit of their ethnic interests, in opposition, if need be, to their Anglo-Protestant “fellow Whites.”  Interestingly, the secularization of politics in Ireland has coincided with the accelerating demographic displacement of the Irish people.  Apart from the Irish, do Jews not mix religion and politics?  Who can deny that Judaism is an ethnoreligion with a distinctive political theology of its own grounded, nowadays, in the Holocaust mythos?  Significantly, in Canada, “Holocaust denial” is now a crime under a newly enacted blasphemy law which came hot on the heels of the 2018 repeal of blasphemy laws originally intended to protect the Christian religion.[2]  In the rest of the Anglosphere, social conventions alone still enforce public respect for Jewish political theology by governments, the corporate sector, and society at large.  Moreover, synagogues have long been a significant vehicle for Jewish ethnopolitical action.  What prevents Anglo-Protestants from viewing “their” churches in a similar light?

It is not that either Catholic or Anglo-Protestant churches seek to build a wall between religion and politics (understood as who gets what, when, where, and how).  Rather, they refuse to mix religion with ethnicity (much less race).  Or to be more precise, while countenancing ethnic congregations for non-White minorities, churches expect Anglo-Protestant parishioners to maintain a strict separation between their “ethnicity” and their “religion.”  Christian clerics, across denominations, turn a blind eye to the enchanted world of Greco-Roman antiquity, where religion, as such, did not actually exist.  In fact, in the Roman empire of the first century, not even Jesus (or his apostle Paul) distinguished religion from ethnicity.

For Jews, no less than Samaritans, Greeks, and Romans, one’s identity, fate, and destiny derived from kinship with the gods of one’s family, tribe, and city.  “What modern people think of as ‘religion,’ ancient people articulated and experienced as family inheritance, [and] ‘ancestral custom.’”  In such a world, “ethnic distinctiveness and religious distinctiveness are simple synonyms, and native to all ancient peoples.”  Moreover, Paula Fredriksen adds, “ancient peoples, Jews included, did not ‘believe’ or ‘believe in’ their ancestral customs.  They enacted them; they preserved them; they respected them; they trusted or trusted in them.” In pre-Christian antiquity, the two key populations were gods and humans.  Ancient societies “could thrive only if gods were happy.  Cult was the index of human loyalty, affection, and respect.”  Just as “cult was an ethnic designation,” so too “ethnicity was a cult designation.”  In other words, “gods ran in the blood.  Peoples and their pantheons shared a family connection.” [3]

Accordingly, it was only because Jesus of Nazareth was acknowledged as the Son of Israel’s God that he could expect to be exalted as King of the Jews.  Indeed, he declares explicitly that he “was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). How then can Anglo-Protestants, or even Anglo-Catholics, deny the religious roots of their racial kinfolk both “at home” and “abroad” in the Anglo-Saxon diaspora?  The contemporary Anglo-Protestant diaspora resembles the dispersion of Hellenistic Jews among whom the apostle Paul worked during his mission to the God-fearing pagans of the Roman Empire.  Indeed, Paul sought to reconnect with those “lost Israelite sheep” during that mission.  As we will see, Jesus and Paul shared an ethno-theology in which the history of Israel according to the flesh was the medium through which the spiritual destiny of the Israel of God was to be fulfilled.

What prevents churches throughout the Anglosphere from developing an ethno-theology enabling White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) to recover a shared ethnoreligious spirit of meaning, value, and purpose?  I believe that Blair Cottrell had some such intuition at the back of his mind during his discussion with Joel Davis.  Joel, by contrast, confines (dare I say, dooms) the Anglo-Australian nationalist movement to a secular, explicitly “one-dimensional” strategy of racial politics.  Looking back on the Jesus movement of the first century, however, I am convinced that the regeneration of deracinated, spiritually anemic Anglo-Australians will require a multi-pronged and transnational, three-dimensional movement.  The goal must be to reinvigorate the historic bonds of religion, race, and ethnicity within and between the peoples of the British diaspora.  Nothing less than a broad spectrum, deep-seated renaissance of British race patriotism will overcome the soul-destroying, nihilistic materialism of globalist plutocracy.  Any such Great Awakening in our time requires a religious reformation reconnecting Anglican (and other Anglo-Protestant) churches to their ancestral roots in the Angelcynn church fostered by Alfred the Great (849–899).

The Problem with Christian Nationalism

Why then, have I criticized the American-style Christian nationalism championed by Stephen Wolfe?[4]  Certainly, in many respects, we are on the same side.  Not only is Wolfe opposed to the globalist regime headquartered in Washington D.C. and New York, but he is also critical of the evangelical Protestant establishment.  Before publication of his best-selling book on Christian nationalism, Wolfe had already written a series of online articles deploring “the sorry state of evangelical rhetoric.”[5]  There he charged that American evangelicals have become addicted to the use of shopworn rhetorical devices designed to capture the moral high ground from their critics without ever having to take them seriously.  Most obviously, virtue-signalling Christians routinely remind those advocating an end to mass Third World immigration that we must “love our neighbours.”  Wolfe rightly complains that serious moral and political discourse, is impossible so long as such rhetorical devices are automatically invoked to short-circuit debates with anyone who could lead evangelicals down the path to ethnonationalism.

Wolfe presents a persuasive critique of “christianizing rhetorical devices.”  He refers there to the evangelical habit of grounding arguments in what they take to be “an undeniable Christian truism” (e.g., “all of us are made in the image of God”).  This rhetorical tactic forces opponents “to contend with an undeniable statement offered for a predetermined moral conclusion.”[6]  For my own part, I first began to push back against the unreflective moral certitude of Anglo-Protestant discourse when, as a bookish teen-ager in small-town Ontario, I discovered the English philosopher Bertrand Russell.

A callow youth with an embryonic goatee, I relished my new-found vocation as the village atheist.  I was amazed by the ease with which I could confound church-going classmates with talking points I lifted from Russell’s treasure trove of skeptical essays.[7]  Still, I was no more a militant atheist than Russell himself, being much more taken by his skeptical agnosticism.  After high school, as I studied history through to an honours degree and graduate school, I simply lost interest in the milk-and-water sermonizing style of Anglo-Protestantism, Canadian-style.[8]

Not until my late twenties was my childhood Sunday School receptivity to Christianity fortuitously rekindled.  Having, at long last, graduated from law school in Canada in the mid-seventies, I seized the opportunity to avoid the grind of legal practice by teaching law in Australia.  Fortunately, I soon landed a job in a new law school in Sydney where I developed and convened a first-year foundation course on the history and philosophy of law.  That course was based on the premise that the common law tradition grew out of a Greco-Roman civilization reshaped by the triumph of Christianity.  So, while remaining an unchurched agnostic, I gradually absorbed the sort of cultural Christianity now stoutly defended by Stephen Wolfe.

Not long afterwards, while working on a master’s degree at Harvard Law School, I discovered the fascinating interplay between Anglo-American Protestantism and the classical republican traditions shaping the federal constitution of what seemed, by comparison with European absolutism, the almost stateless character of American civil society.  Although it has attracted accusations of authoritarian statism, Wolfe’s Christian nationalism owes a lot to the Anglo-Protestant evangelical tradition of anti-institutional populism.  Long story short: American constitutional history has been shaped by the political theology of evangelical Protestantism which exalted the double majesty of the Divine Economy and good King Demos.  Over the years, I have written good deal on that subject.[9]  Decades later, after leaving legal education behind (let us say, involuntarily) I began to wonder, as Blair Cottrell did above, whether Christianity, particularly the Anglican church, could ever develop an effective response to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual crisis of WASP managerial, professional, and political elites.  I persuaded myself that I should at least get some skin in the game by getting baptized in a local Anglican church.  Having lamented the collapse of English Canadian nationalism as a young man, I am now deeply disturbed by the disastrous decline of WASP hegemony everywhere in the Anglosphere.[10]  Embarking on a search for the spiritual roots of that crisis, I decided to earn a degree in theology.

I therefore possess personal, political, and professional interests in the prospects for an ethnoreligious solution to the existential crisis now facing the Anglo-Saxon peoples.  Unfortunately, Wolfe rests his own case for Christian nationalism upon an a priori faith in a pair of “undeniable Christian truisms.”  Hoping to establish the legitimacy of a Christian nation ruled by a Christian prince, he simply asserts the truth value of two “mixed syllogisms” which combine natural law with certain “supernatural truths,” or theological presuppositions revealed by grace.  He claims, for example, that the catchphrase “Jesus is Lord” is a “universally true statement.”  Likewise, the proposition that “Christianity is the true religion,” grounded as it is in revelation rather than reason, requires no argument.[11]  But surely, even if one accepts the presupposition that those statements are “true,” one is entitled to ask: “In what sense are they true?”  What if the most that can expect to find in such “undeniable Christian truisms” is some sort of “truthiness[12]?

Wolfe’s political theory of Christian nationalism aims to secure the Lordship of Jesus by resurrecting blasphemy and Sabbatarian laws designed to drive atheism and heresy from the public sphere.  In principle, this political program knows no borders.  If Christianity is the true religion, it must be “a universal religion—a religion for all nations.”  But, Wolfe concedes, “it does not eliminate nations.”  Rather, Christianity completes, indeed, it perfects nations as well as individual recipients of divine grace.[13] A non-Christian nation (or person) is, therefore, an imperfect nation (or person).

So long as America retained its identity as a Christian nation, Wolfe contends, it was entitled to defend itself against advocates of atheism and immorality.  And so, it did.  For example, even in secular and cosmopolitan New York City and, as late as 1940, concerned citizens successfully campaigned to prevent Bertrand Russell from taking up a teaching position at the City College in the fields of logic, mathematical theory, and the philosophy of science.  The justification for this violation of academic freedom: As the author of notorious (but, to many, high-minded, measured, and persuasive) essays such as those collected in my broken-backed copy of Why I Am Not a Christian, Russell was allegedly an unrepentant advocate of atheism, public nudity, and free love.[14] Clearly, at that time, American Anglo-Protestants had few qualms about using state power to enforce creedal conformity.  The churches then were still a force to be reckoned with and Wolfe clearly hankers after those days.

But that was then; this is now.  In the past fifty years or so, Protestant churches and their denominational theological colleges have offered little resistance, and more than a little support and encouragement to the rise of Woke America.  Wolfe, of course, recognizes that the ascension of an evangelical “Christian Prince” to state power is unlikely to occur anytime soon.  Nor does he expect “really existing,” mainstream Protestant churches to enter the political arena themselves, fighting to reverse the browning of America, overturn the gynocracy, or dismantle the Global American Empire (GAE).  At most, churches might be third-party beneficiaries of a lay, pan-Protestant, nationalist movement combatting demonic powers and principalities on their behalf.  A more counter-intuitive threat to Globohomo is hard to imagine.

Nevertheless, Wolfe has become a prominent figure on social media, regularly sniping at an evangelical establishment on board with the globalist agenda of the transnational corporate welfare state.  In his view, the globalist regime threatens both his religion and his nation.  As a Reformed Presbyterian political theorist, however, Wolfe rides two unruly horses—ethnicity and religion—simultaneously.  Only by keeping both his ethnic identity and his religious faith on a steady diet of blood thinners can he keep his seat.  But any Christian nationalism worthy of the name must recognize, sooner or later, that strong gods demand the unapologetic fusion of race, ethnicity, and religion.

Religion and Ethnicity: Then and Now

On Wolfe’s political theory, ethnicity is, by nature, a particularistic phenomenon situated within earthly kingdoms governed by civil magistrates, the realm Augustine of Hippo described as the City of Man.  Reformed theology and Protestant churches, on the other hand, are oriented by grace towards a heavenly kingdom, the eternal City of God, where the Lord Jesus reigns, sitting at the right hand of the Father.  Civil magistrates must accommodate the ethnic identities, needs, and interests of his subjects, but the triune God of Reformed theology is colour-blind.  Many New Testament scholars now contend, however, that this presupposition contradicts an undeniable historical truism fundamental to the cosmology shared even by Jesus of Nazareth and Paul, his apostle to the Gentiles.  In the enchanted realm of Greco-Roman antiquity, religion and ethnicity were indistinguishable; they were literally syngeneic, originally a Greek word signifying both kinship and citizenship.

In those days, every member of the same genos shared a family connection extending “not only horizontally, between citizens of the Hellenistic polis; it also extended vertically between heaven and earth.”  In short, Greco-Roman cities “were not secular spaces.  They were family-run religious institutions.”[15]  That enchanted world was saturated with gods; every forest and river, every family, tribe, and city had its own gods who must not be offended lest they visited retribution on those subject to their supernatural powers.  For Jews, Greeks, and Romans, one’s religion was not about beliefs, creeds, and confessions of faith.  In the world we have lost, religion was synonymous with the ritual rites and obligations prescribed by one’s mythological ethnic identity and ancestral allegiances.[16]

Wolfe, however, is loath to ground Christian nations in a syngeneic fusion of religion and ethnicity.  Instead, he thinks of ethnicity as the “phenomenological topography” of a “people in place.”  Rather grudgingly, Wolfe acknowledges that ethnicity may run in the blood.[17]  But Christian identity, he believes, transcends primitive notions of kinship with the ancestral gods of family, tribe, or nation.  Like Wolfe, Anglo-Protestants generally remain stubbornly resistant to the notion that spirit is fused together with blood, indissolubly, in holy communion with the water of life (1 John 5:8).

At the same time, Wolfe’s Christian political theory remains resolutely old-fashioned in its respect for ecclesiastical authority.  Anglo-Protestantism may be a bloodless religion, but it still adheres to ancestral creeds formulated in late antiquity by the Church Fathers.  Notably, in preparation for his book, Wolfe immersed himself in the works of seventeenth-century Reformed theologians largely unknown to more than a few of his fellow Anglo-Protestants.  Even more anachronistic is his reliance upon the Thomist tradition of natural law dating back to the Middle Ages.  Biblical exegesis, on the other hand, is conspicuously absent from his work.  Like most Anglo-Protestants, he is content to leave that task to the pastors and theologians who stand behind the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Nor has he engaged with the growing body of contemporary New Testament scholarship ready, willing, and able to challenge the foundational “supernatural truths” of Wolfe’s old-time religion.

Wolfe’s brand of Christian nationalism will need more than recycled theological truisms dredged up from dusty Calvinist tracts to gain traction outside the echo chambers of pious evangelicalism.  Mindlessly repeating that “Jesus is Lord” carries little weight outside that charmed circle.  Similarly, after four centuries of experience with Anglo-Protestantism, it will be a hard sell to persuade Moslems, Jews, and nihilistic atheists, much less millions of marginalized White men, that “Christianity is the true religion” destined to “perfect” the already perfectly fictional “American nation.”  As Wolfe recognizes himself, the conventional attachment to a non-creedal, unchurched, cultural Christianity reaches its vanishing point when one’s nation turns into a gay disco.

Indeed, already in 1940, it was evident that Bertrand Russell was far from being a lone skeptic in opposition to the merely voluntary Protestant establishment.  At home, religious diversity was an established fact: Catholics, Jews, and Mormons had secure beachheads in America.  Abroad, the country would soon join godless Soviet communists in its war on Germany.  Hardly surprisingly then that, within a few decades after the war, the USA was to be utterly transformed by a civil rights revolution and its corollary, mass Third World immigration.  Mainline Protestant churches put up only token resistance before they obediently fell in line with the entire progressive agenda.

Nowadays, secular humanists, rationalist skeptics, mythicists, historicists, and atheists aplenty have found influential platforms in the religious studies departments of major American universities.  Offering challenging new perspectives on once undeniable Christian truisms, they present a solid prima facie case for free thought in religious matters.  Their claim that the “supernatural truths” asserted by Christian churches rest less on reason and revelation than on myth and fable cannot easily be swept under the carpet.

Pushed beyond the pale by both evangelical theological seminaries and mainstream Protestant churches, independent preterist scholars and dissident churches question the creedal promise that, some time in our future, the Lord Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”  Conservative evangelicals insist that Jesus will return physically (“as a 5̍ 5̎ Jewish man,” in Don K. Preston’s wry phrase) riding on clouds of glory, at the end of the Christian age, to usher in a new heaven and a new earth.  By contrast, preterists employ a Hebrew hermeneutic in defending their persuasively biblical covenantal eschatology.  They hold that the Parousia (i.e., the Second Coming of Jesus Christ), occurred, as prophesied in the Old and New Testaments, with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70.  Hence, many New Testament scholars, skeptics and preterists alike, can agree that, for those of us in the present, the futurist eschatological hope, as preached in the creedal churches (though differing as to its pre-millennial, post-millennial, or amillennial timing) is little more than a chimera.

Do bible-believing preterists and skeptical scholars deserve a respectful hearing from creedal Christian nationalists?  In principle, Stephen Wolfe approves the restoration of Sabbatarian and blasphemy laws to exclude political atheism and public heresy “from acceptable opinion and action.”[18]  Wolfe publicly affirms creedal orthodoxy on eschatology; he “looks to the future coming of Christ (Tit. 2:13)” and hopes “for the glorification of the body promised to us in Christ (Phil. 3:21).”[19]  One cannot but wonder whether he would vote to convict preterists such as Don K. Preston were he to sit on a jury in a prosecution for public heresy.

Don K. Preston

Wolfe certainly believes that “public heresy has the potential to harm other’s souls by causing doubt or distraction or by disrupting public peace.”  According to his Christian political theory, therefore, the civil “magistrate, who must care for the souls of his people, may act to suppress that heresy.”  Note as well that Wolfe agrees in principle with Francis Turretin, his favourite seventeenth-century theologian, that arch-heretics “publicly persistent in their damnable error … can be justly put to death.”[20]  Having endorsed Don K. Preston’s views on fulfilled eschatology, repeatedly and in public, I fear that a “Christian prince” would convict me of arch-heresy.  I can only hope that he might find it imprudent to condemn me to death.

Anglo-Protestant “nationalists” proposing to outlaw atheism and heresy could ease the minds of those who might be accused of public atheism by explaining just how the historical Jesus became the eternal Lord of the Anglo-Saxon, British-descended peoples.  WASP agnostics will ask why only a bloodlessly cosmic “Christianity” can be their “true religion.”  Looking further afield for potential defendants, Wolfe’s pan-Protestant program to enshrine the “supernatural truths” of creedal Christianity into public and criminal law is sure to generate powerful pushback from a multitude of other groups.  Massive resistance will come, not just from mild-mannered academics and pious preterists, but from marginalized Muslims, deeply entrenched Jewish elites, miscellaneous unbelievers, and moral degenerates, not to mention businesses, large and small, which profit from the abolition of Sunday blue laws and the concomitant licencing of atheistic, materialist nihilism seven days a week.

Note as well that the heretical theological voices discussed below have found mass audiences on, inter alia, YouTube channels such as MythVision Podcast.[21]  Many Christian nationalists such as Stephen Wolfe (as well as White nationalists who happen to be Christian, such as Joel Davis in Australia) are themselves adept in the use of social media.  But, wedded as they are to the “supernatural truths” enshrined in traditional church creeds, they are certain to be pushed onto the political and intellectual defensive.  Indeed, as we have seen, Davis prudently prefers not to mix his Catholic religion with his ethnopolitics.  And for good reason, since what churchgoers take to be the most self-evident of theological truisms—the notion that Jesus and the apostle Paul were Christians—is now up for debate.  Certainly, among contemporary New Testament scholars, no consensus supports the proposition that Jesus was sent or that Paul was called to found a new religion, especially one cleansed of his own ethnic identity.

Jews, Judaism, and the Idea of Israel in the First Century AD

My argument is an ethno-theological interpretation of the origins and outcome of the Jesus movement in the first-century world of Greco-Roman antiquity.  In a nutshell, Jesus and Paul inspired a dissident ethnoreligious movement “within Judaism”; neither presented himself as the Founder of Christianity.  The movement first emerged in Judea after the death and reported resurrection of Jesus.  By the time Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman armies in AD 70, the gospel had been carried to the ends of the known world through the social networks and synagogues established within the far-flung diaspora of Hellenistic Jews.

Not all Jews, either in Judea or in the diaspora were supporters of the Jesus movement.  The Jesus movement was at odds with ethnonationalist Judeans involved in a long-simmering rebellion against Rome, leading to the Jewish wars in 66AD.  Those Judean nationalists followed in the footsteps of the Maccabean rebellion against Hellenistic influence in the second century B.C.  During his ministry, Jesus also came into conflict with the leaders of the Temple cult centred on Jerusalem.  The Jesus movement stood for an ethno-theology with two central features.  First, its aims were explicitly geopolitical in scope, extending beyond Judea to the entire known world (oikumene); and, secondly, the movement was driven by the sense of urgency inherent in its apocalyptic eschatology.  Both Jesus and Paul taught that the “end of the age” was nigh.  They and their followers looked forward to the long-promised but now imminent restoration of “all Israel” in a new heaven and new earth.

The suggestion made in the previous paragraph that the Jesus movement developed “within Judaism” is a deceptively simple claim.  To the modern mind, the term “Judaism” connotes a “religion” which itself is misleading.  Moderns associate “religion” with a set of doctrines pertaining to the nature of the divine or supernatural realm.  Even the term “Judean” is anachronistic when used to signify an “ethnicity” as distinct from the modern category of “religion” supposedly implicit in the word “Jew.”  But, as we have already seen, the very attempt to distinguish religion and ethnicity in the ancient world is itself anachronistic.[22]  In particular, it makes no sense to distinguish the ethnic and religious aspects of Jewishness in this period.  In translations of ancient texts, however, the English word ‘Judaism’ is often supplied in place of phrases literally denoting “the ancestral traditions, laws, and customs of the Jews.”  This suggests that the “various elements that constitute our religion” were “inextricably bound up with other aspects of their life.”  In the Greco-Roman world, generally, there were “a variety of modes in which people could think about and interact with the divine world,” including ritual and myth.  These aspect of ancient life “overlapped and interacted in various ways” without forming the sort of “integrated system” or “unified understanding of the divine” that we call “religion.”[23]

Certainly, there were no ancient Hebrew or Aramaic words which correspond to our ‘Judaism’.  There were Greek and Latin words that appear to do so (namely, Ίουδαϊσμός and Iudaismus) but, before the period 200–500 AD, they are used only a very few times, in Greek, most during the Maccabean period of the second century, BC.  The very restricted usage of that Greek word for Judaism usually occurs “in explicit or implicit contrast with some other potential affiliation, movement, or inclination.”  This brings us to Hellenism and its cognate verb, Hellenize.  The basic meaning of Hellenize was “to express oneself in Greek,” occurring “chiefly in contexts where there are doubts about the speaker’s ability because he is a foreigner or uneducated.”[24]

Significantly, the first attestation of the word Hellenism is in the same second-century BC text that hosts the first occurrences of the word ‘Judaism’.  The latter word “appears to have been coined in reaction to cultural ‘Έλληνισμός’ (Hellenism).  In that context, ‘Judaism’ signified “a certain kind of activity over against a pull in another, foreign direction,” specifically Hellenism which “introduced foreign ways—Greek cultural institutions, education, sports, and dress—into Jerusalem.”  It therefore refers to “a defection that threatens the heart and soul of Judean tradition.”  The Maccabean revolt “was a counter-movement, a bringing back of those who had gone over to foreign ways: a “Judaizing” or Judaization, which the author of 2 Maccabees programmatically labels Ίουδαϊσμός (Judaism).[25]

The term ‘Judaism’, therefore, has a double meaning corresponding to the difference between what anthropologists call an etic meaning, derived from an external or observer’s point of view and the emic or insider’s view that a first-century Jew would have as a participant in his own collective way of life.  From that emic point of view, it makes no sense to distinguish between ethnicity and religion.[26]  A further source of confusion over terms such as ‘Jew’ and ‘Jewishness’ has to do with the difference between modern and ancient understandings of the relationship between Jews, Judeans and the idea of Israel.  Jason Staples points out that moderns usually presume that, after the Babylonian Exile, the term ‘Israel’ is synonymous with ethnic Jews.[27]  In fact, historically speaking, “Israel is an entity larger than (but including) the body of ethnic Jews.”  Here, ‘Jews’ or ‘Judeans’ “refers to persons descended from the southern kingdom of Judah [whether they live outside Judea or not], which is only a part of the larger historical entity called Israel.”  By contrast, “Israel” is a polyvalent term with at least four distinct references in the Hebrew Bible: (1) the patriarch Jacob/Israel; (2) “the nation composed of his descendants, that is, all twelve tribes of ‘Israel,’ including Judah”; (3) the northern kingdom, the ten tribes of the “house of Israel,” excluding the southern kingdom, the “house of Judah”; and (4) the returnees from Judah after the Babylonian Exile.[28]  The Ioudaioi (Judeans) were the only Israelites who returned from Babylon.  According to the late first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, the other ten tribes were scattered “beyond Euphrates till now and are a boundless multitude, not to be estimated by numbers.”[29]

Keep in mind that the Hebrew Bible came into being after the disappearance of those ten lost tribes.  This fact is crucial to an understanding of the Jesus movement in the first century.  Staples emphasizes that “the Hebrew Bible is scripture collected and edited by Jews, for Jews, about Israel.”  He observes that “interpreters have been too quick to assume that the (actual) Jewish audience of these texts is the same as the Israel to which the texts are rhetorically addressed.”  Instead, most of Israel existed only in the historical imagination after the Babylonian Exile.  Accordingly, “through the collection and redaction of the prophetic literature and authoritative historical narratives that ultimately comprised the Hebrew Bible, exilic and post-exilic Jews established a continual reminder of the broken circumstances of the present, constructing an Israel not realized in the present.”  These early Jews, in other words, located “themselves in a liminal space between the memory of a past ‘biblical’ Israel and the hope for a future restored Israel.”  They created a “restoration eschatology” which looked forward, not to “the end of the world, but rather the end of the present age and the dawn of a new one.” In that new creation “all Israel” was to be restored by the in-gathering of all twelve tribes of the Dispersion into Zion.[30]  The Lordship of Jesus the Christ was closely associated with the longed-for restoration of “all Israel.”

Although the ten lost tribes remained but a ghostly presence during the first century, a highly visible Jewish diaspora had been a well-established historical presence in major centres of the Greco-Roman world for hundreds of years.  In fact, the Hellenized Jews of the diaspora greatly outnumbered those living in Judea.  Rodney Stark estimates that while there were about one million Jews in Palestine, there were somewhere between four and six million to be found in wealthy and populous urban communities throughout the Roman empire.  Indeed, “Jews had adjusted to life in the diaspora in ways that made them very marginal vis-à-vis the Judaism of Jerusalem.”  The result was that  the Hebrew language skills of most Hellenized Jews “had decayed to the point that the Torah had to be translated into Greek.”  The Septuagint itself, therefore, became another medium through which Hellenistic perspectives found expression.  Jews of the diaspora were Hellenized to the point that they needed the sort of cultural compromise allowing a Jew to remain a Jew while claiming full entry into “the elect society of the Greeks.”  As for the other side of the ethno-cultural divide, many so-called God-Fearers, or Gentile “fellow-travellers,” were attracted to Hellenized Jewish traditions and customs, especially their moral teachings and monotheism, without being willing to “take the final step of fulfilling the Law” by giving up their own cultic gods and undergoing circumcision.[31]

Stark suggests that, when Jewish authorities decided not to require god-fearing Gentiles to observe the Law in full, they went some way towards the creation of a “religion” free of ethnicity.[32]  This claim is seriously misleading.  Paula Fredriksen observes that it was “a normal aspect of ancient Mediterranean life” to show respect for gods not one’s own, for Jews no less than pagans.  To forge “an exclusive commitment to a foreign god, however—an act unique to Judaism in the pre-Christian era—was tantamount to changing ethnicity” and, hence, would have been perceived as an act of disrespect to the gods of the host city.  At the same time, however, majority cultures were “religiously commodious.”  Interested Gentiles “were free to frequent Jewish gatherings,” assuming “whatever Jewish practices, traditions, and customs they wished, while continuing unimpeded in their own cults as well.”[33]

The Jesus movement therefore found receptive audiences throughout the Hellenized Jewish diaspora among both Jews and Gentiles.  Even so, Stark contends, the movement “offered twice as much cultural continuity to the Hellenized Jews as to Gentiles.”[34]  On this point, Stark’s interpretation gains added force if one takes the view, contra Stark, that the first century Jesus movement developed “within Judaism” and, hence, pre-dated the “parting of the ways” which marked the historical beginning of Christianity proper in the second century.[35]  Given “the marginality of the Hellenized Jews, torn between two cultures,” the Jesus movement “offered to retain much of the religious content of both cultures and to resolve the contradictions between them.”  Not only were diasporan Jews “accustomed to receiving teachers from Jerusalem,” but movement missionaries (such as Paul) “were likely to have family and friendship connections with at least some of the diasporan communities.”  The Jesus movement, in short, built a distinctly Hellenized religion on Jewish foundations, injecting “an exceedingly vigorous other-worldly faith” into the abstract universalism of Platonic philosophy.[36]  It was in that cross-cultural context that Jesus became God.

Go to Part 2.

[1] The Joel & Blair Show

[2] Andrew Fraser, “Friend or Foe? The Holocaust Mythos, Global Jesus, and the Existential Crisis of Anglican Political Theology,” (2022) Vol. 22(3) The Occidental Quarterly 63.

[3] Paula Fredriksen, “Divinity, Ethnicity, Identity: ‘Religion’ as a Political Category in Christian Antiquity,” in Armin Lange,, Comprehending Antisemitism through the Ages: A Historical Perspective (Open Access: De Gruyter, 2021), 101-120, at 102-103; idem, “Judaizing the Nations: The Ritual Demands of Paul’s Gospel,” 56 New Testament Studies 232, at 234-235.

[4] Andrew Fraser, “Sweet Dreams of Christian Nationalism (But What About the Protestant Deformation, Globalist Churches, and Jewish Political Theology?),” 2023(2) The Occidental Quarterly 37.

[5] Stephen Wolfe, The Case for Christian Nationalism (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2022); idem, “The Sorry State of Evangelical Rhetoric,”

[6] Ibid.

[7] Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays (London: Unwin Books, 1960).

[8] Pierre Berton The Comfortable Pew: A Critical Look at Christianity and the Religious Establishment in the New Age (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1965).

[9] See, Andrew Fraser, The Spirit of the Laws: Republicanism and the Unfinished Project of Modernity (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), esp. 31-40, 129, 216; The WASP Question: An Essay on the Biocultural Evolution, Present Predicament, and Future Prospects of the Invisible Race (London: Arktos, 2011), 241; and Reinventing Aristocracy in the Age of Woke Capital: How Honourable WASP Elites Could Rescue Our Civilisation from Bad Governance by Irresponsible Corporate Plutocrats (London: Arktos, 2022) 16.

[10] Cf. George Grant, Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1988 [orig. ed. 1965).

[11] Wolfe, Christian Nationalism, 120, 183.

[12] Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: a truthful or seemingly truthful quality that is claimed for something not because of supporting facts or evidence but because of a feeling that it is true or a desire for it to be true.

[13] Wolfe, Christian Nationalism, 26.

[14] Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian, Edited with an Appendix on the “Bertrand Russell Case” by Paul Edwards (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957).

[15] Paula Fredriksen, “How Jewish is God? Divine Ethnicity in Paul’s Theology,” (2018) 137(1) Journal of Biblical Literature 193, at 194-195.

[16] Fredriksen, “Divinity, Ethnicity, Identity,” 106.

[17] Wolfe, Christian Nationalism, 134-137.

[18] Ibid., 384-387.

[19] Stephen Wolfe, “The Church Among Nations,” August 1, 2023, American Reformer

[20] Wolfe, Christian Nationalism, 387-388, 391.


[22] See also, Jason A. Staples, The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021), 17-18.

[23] Steve Mason, “Jews, Judeans, Judaizing, Judaism: Problems of Categorization in Ancient History,” (2007) 38 Journal for the Study of Judaism 457, at 480, 482.

[24] Ibid., 463-464.

[25] Ibid., 464-467.

[26] Ibid., 458-460.

[27] Staples, Idea of Israel, 25.

[28] Jason A. Staples, “What Do the Gentiles Have to Do with ‘All Israel’? A Fresh Look at Romans 11:25-27,” (2011) 130(2) Journal of Biblical Literature 371, at 373-375.

[29] Quoted in Staples, Idea of Israel, 49.

[30] Ibid., 89, 94-95.

[31] Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (New York: Harper One, 1996), 57-58.

[32] Ibid., 59.

[33] Paula Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagan’s Apostle (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 2017), 54, 60.

[34] Stark, Rise of Christianity, 59.

[35] See, generally, James D.G. Dunn, The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity (London: SCM Press, 1991); cf. Paula Fredriksen, “What ‘Parting of the Ways’? Jews, Gentiles, and the Ancient Mediterranean City,” in Adam H. Becker and Annette Yoshiko Reed, The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 35-63.

[36] Stark, Rise of Christianity, 59-62.

Myth or the Great Hoax: The Origins of Modern Demonology

We all use mythical language, although we seldom admit it. In contrast to concepts which are the hallmarks of modern discourse, myths are based on images and symbolic forms of speech. In the mythmaking narrative images change and vary over historical time and place although their driving force remains constant in the identity building process of peoples, tribes, nations, including political movements. Many Christians, along with many atheists and agnostics, who deride as surreal ancient Greek myths, resort to their own self-made myths, adorning them with their own pack of metaphors and imagery. In a sharp contrast to the historically recorded end-of-time, single-God revelation religions, such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity, European myths surfacing in epics, folk tales, legends or sagas have the advantage of overstepping the historical timeframe. They fuse the past present and future in one whole, offering the hope of gods’ return and announcing the rebirth of a vanished or destroyed political order.

The man of the myth discovers his freedom not in the possibility of building up his own history, but in the fact of being free vis-à-vis history.  It is in the abolition, relativization and reinterpretation of history that he finds his freedom.[i]

Ancient Europeans who believed in myths had a profound historical consciousness. Yet—unlike Christians, Jews or Muslims, let alone unlike modern political true believers—they could neither grasp nor embrace a linear historical and “unique” narrative announcing the beginning of time and the end of time. To a traditional man, of the myth, history, with its incessant flow of time, is always open. The belief in a plurality of gods means also the ability of accepting the plurality of ideas, the plurality of different truths and consequently rejecting a single religious or political dogma.

The tragic side of life is a cornerstone of ancient myths, as depicted in ancient Greek epics and dramas. However, one never spots in ancient mythical prose or poems signs of religious and political nihilism. The man of the myth is essentially a historical optimist: he believes in the return of historical cycles that will also bring about the return of the hero and witness the rebirth of gods, even if the sky is doomed to fall with the entire cosmos swept in chaos. One of the sharpest American scholars of the twentieth century, Joseph Campbell, understood well the subconscious human desire for the world of the myth, myths being “like dreams, revelations of the deepest hopes, desires and fears, potentialities and conflicts, of the human will.” [ii]  The mythical world is anchored in all of us, as can be witnessed by an ever-growing interest in the mythical characters inhabiting J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels or George Lucas’ movie Star Wars, as well as in the proliferation of hundreds of science fiction movies.

Despite his insight into various faces of mythmaking Campbell was not spared from demonization by new mythmakers who labeled him with their own mythicist vocabulary an “antisemite and racist.” [iii]

Vice, or better yet, virtue signaling squads of the modern morality police, such as the SPLC or the ADL, were quick to shove Campbell into the realm of underground demons.

Resorting to a mythical language is also a prime goal of modern political demagoguery. The word ‘myth’ is often used incorrectly in defaming a political adversary. This word, when used in political discourse carries a derogatory meaning, bearing no resemblance to the ancient belief in mythos. Today its verbal derivatives are widely used to delegitimize the beliefs of a political opponent, often having the goal of ruining his reputation in the public eye by painting him as some kind of a conspiracy theorist. The problem with conspiracy theorists, regardless whether they come from the Left or the rightwing political spectrum is that they can never be refuted with any empirical, forensic and contradictory argument.

To a very extent that conspiracy theories claim to “explain” everything, rejecting out of hand any contradiction and any argument put forward against them is seen either as a proof of their opponents’ “naivete”, or a simple plot by conspiracy theorists aiming to prevent them from being exposed. Any contradiction any denial only becomes an additional proof of the existence of conspiracy.”[iv]

Many conservative and nationalist authors in their own description of leftwing opponents have popularized expressions such as the “myth of progress,” the “myth of Marxism,” “the myth of multiculturism.” On their part, left-leaning authors accuse nationalists and conservatives of believing in the myth of race and the myth of Jewish world conspiracy. Many Jewish and liberal authors, however, seldom tire from resurrecting their own conspiracy-laden language depicting and evoking the mythical and ever lurking “white supremacist,” anti-Semite, or Neo-Nazi bent on destroying the liberal democratic order. Even if White anti-Semites and Neo-Nazis were to disappear, the Liberal System would need to reinvent them over and over again – similar to the ex-Soviet Union and its former client states who, in order to justify their repressive nature, constantly kept resurrecting the myth of the Fascist Evil.

Without using over and over again the modern myth of the Absolute Cosmic Evil, allegedly incorporated today in the eternal Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist, the Liberal System would fall part.

To the word of the myth, one could substitute more hyperbolic verbal constructs such as the “big lie,” the “grand hoax,” or “political theology,” or even “fake news,”—expressions which are quite trendy among conservative and nationalist authors. While the Left likes to denounce the “myth of the White race” as a sign of pseudoscientific and retarded mindset, the Right, by contrast, denounces the liberal and communist myth of egalitarianism as a belief contrary to the laws of evolutionary biology.

Credo quia absurdum, or the belief in the Big Lie.

The line between a belief in the big lie and a belief in some kind of a myth is often blurred. It is wrong to assume that only a few bad people impose their political lies on a credulous or stupid populace. Very often it is savants and allegedly great minds who are believers and instigators of surreal political myths, strange beliefs, bizarre victimhood stories which they usually discard after some time and replace them with new trendy myths or hoaxes. Often masses deliberately accept new political myths because it is all too human to take wishful thinking for granted. In the study of crowd hysteria, Gustave Le Bon observes how masses accept political myths without ever reflecting upon their disastrous consequences:

Crowds being only capable of thinking in images are only to be impressed by images. It is only images that terrify or attract them and become motives of action.[v]

It can be the mythic imagery of the shining communist future, or the myth of the end of the world caused by the Covid pandemic that can whip up masses into political frenzy or justify the most severe forms of political repression.  Religions, as well as modern beliefs and ideologies are also heavily interwoven with mythical scenes. Often those who ridicule beliefs in the mythical nature of the scenes from the Bible or from Homer’s Iliad are receptive to modern myths of a Marxist classless paradise on earth or the nature of permanent economic growth in Liberalism. One may recall intellectual enchantment with the Freudian-Marxist mystique by hundreds of thousands of US and European college professors in the first half of the twentieth century and extending even after psychoanalysis had lost all scientific credibility and communism had resulted only in political repression and economic stagnation. By the end of the century, these professors had no qualms in replacing their former ideologies with new myths of the free market and the myth of the invisible hand.  The capitalist myth aptly called “monotheism of the market” by the French philosopher Roger Garaudy, suggests the belief in permanent economic growth as the only salutary objective of human existence.[vi]

But one must be careful when reading Garaudy’s texts, as well as those of hundreds of other popular academics and authors preaching formulas of religious or political salvation. Garaudy was a reputable World War II antifascist resistant fighter, later a high-ranking French communist party member and a renowned intellectual—before he turned into a devout Muslim toward the end of his life. For his revisionist and anti-Israeli writings, he was also charged and convicted by the French courts with anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, claiming it to be a “Jewish myth.”[vii] Regardless of what one may think of Garaudy’s  many astute observations about Israel, Jews, and American decadence, recanting his once upon-a-time mythical persona and accepting the other mythical opposite is not a sign of integrity of character.

Many revisionist scholars critical of Jews and their social status depict the Jewish World War II victimhood as a new secular religion containing its own legions of saints, sacraments, salvagers and survivors. What strikes one is the following: while one may openly downplay, deride and minimize the number of victims of communist killing fields during the Ukrainian Holodomor, the Croat Bleiburg, the Gulag sewage system in the ex-Soviet Union, or the millions of killed German civilians, during and after World War II without facing legal troubles, critical debates on the Jewish Holocaust story must stay off limits—an excellent marker of the power of the Jewish community.

But even authors complaining about legal duplicity regarding the narrative of Jewish victimhood are seldom consistent. Many of them believe in good faith in the immaculate conception of Virgin Mary and various surreal miracles performed by Jesus and his early Jewish disciples. They would never consider their faith in Jesus a myth, let alone, a hoax, a fraud, or a conspiracy theory.  They reject the claims by anti-Christian authors “that Jesus was a deliberately constructed myth, by a specific group of people with a specific end in mind,”[viii] as David Skrbina wrote recently.

Neither do the faithful ones who believe in the Jesus story want to hear the arguments purporting that the history of Christianity is replete with serial killings of infidels as well as lengthy inter-Christian religious wars. It remains difficult for them to admit that Christianity emerged in Judaism and that until the end of the Second Temple and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, all the way till the end of the second century, Christianity was just one of the several infighting Jewish sects in the Roman empire.

Christianity remained Jewish Christianity. As we move into the second century not only certain Christian sects can be described as ‘Jewish-Christian’, but Christianity as a whole can still properly be described as ‘Jewish Christianity’ in a justifiable sense.[ix]

The prominent Christian theologian Adolf Harnack also traces the roots of Christianity to Judaism, claiming that “it was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple which seems to have provoked the final crisis, and led to complete breach between the two parties.”[x]

The debate on mythical Jewish-inspired origins of Christianity is largely avoided by modern White Christian conservatives and White Christian nationalists. It must be noted though that the most critical analyses of Christianity over the last century and half have not come from the Left, but primarily from conservative and nationalist authors, especially in Germany and France. Particularly in Germany during the National-Socialist regime, from 1933 to 1945, there was a flurry of well-researched books and scholarly pieces by hundreds of academics dealing with the interrelationship between race and religion. Most of those authors contend that there is a causal link between Judaism-Christianity and their modern secular offshoots in the modern myth of Communism and Liberalism

We cannot expect that Christian religion, which originated from Jewish racial heritage, and which today still feels constrained by a baptism commandment issued 2000 years ago in the Jewish land, will atone for the guilt of the German soul.[xi]

It is a great setback that the works by German religious scholars, regardless of the demonic, or rather demonized nature of the National-Socialist epoch when their works were published, have not yet received a proper scholarly evaluation. Nor are the books on the racial makeup of a man, tribe or a people and how it affects the choice of his religion easily accessible. This raises the question of genetic and racial proclivity of any racial ingroup toward accepting or rejecting a foreign religious or political myth. Wilhelm Hauer a prominent religious scholar in National-Socialist Germany, noted:

For one thing, there is no longer any doubt today that race means not only body forms, but also forms of the soul and the spirit. And secondly, religion is not just a matter of the absolute truth, but also of various forms of truth by the bearers of religion.[xii]

Each racial group has its own vision of afterlife including its own notion of truth, or for that matter its acceptance of the big lie. Accordingly, to a large extent it is racial heritage of each man that shapes his world view. Between the German notion of “reality (Wirklichkeit) and “truth” (Wahrheit) there is a sharp distinction that needs to be made.

In addition, it is with great modesty of which Indo-European man is aware: we possess reality while being also possessed by it, but we are eternally on the way to truth, if by this we mean the knowledge of finitude. The absolute truth in the sense of final possession of the deepest mysteries is nonexistent. Such possession would mean the death of the living spirit. [xiii]

Why did early Europeans in the ancient Roman Empire out of hundreds of different cults and sects, each with its own myth, metaphor or allegory, embrace a small Middle Eastern Judaic cult will remain a riddle. Starting with the second century, many Oriental cults had already spread like wildfire in the Roman Empire, cults such as the Persian Mithra cult among Roman soldiers and the Egyptian Isis and Serapis cult, very popular in the high echelons of the Roman imperial court.[xiv] But they did not last long.

Wilhelm Nestle, a German philologist and expert on the mindset of early Greeks and Romans, writes in one of his essays published in the quarterly Archiv für Religionswissenschaft that late Greco-Roman pagan thinkers were hostile to the idea of the messiah insofar as they recognized in messianic prophesies a presumptuous claim by the Jews to future world domination.”[xv]

Nestle, along with many other German scholars in the first half of the twentieth century  voices amazement at how prominent and large European tribes and peoples had fallen prey to a strange Oriental cult preached by a small and insignificant tribe in Judea.

It seems incomprehensible that God did not send the messenger of his revelation to a large and famous people, but to the Jews in a small corner of the Earth, and that despite being omniscient he left his “son” to be shamefully punished by bad people. [xvi]

It does not make much sense to criticize inordinate Jewish political, social, and intellectual influence and popularity, which among other things can still be observed in the writings of a Jewish-born Karl Marx and his modern followers, or modern Jewish neocons dominating the U.S. foreign policy establishment, while at the same time accepting Christian scripts and screeds  which were originally written by Jewish prophets. This is a clearcut case of spiritual and political neurosis that the entire West has been victim of over the last 2000 years.

Seen from the secular perspective, the strong and unwavering support of Israel today by the United States is part of the predictable political theology based on the myth of self-chosenness borrowed from the Jewish Old Testament.[xvii]  It has served over the last one hundred years as a legal justification for its messianic do-good diplomatic efforts, but also its military engagements all over the world. The mythical “city on the hill,” the “manifest destiny” and the recent launching of “diversity” programs are essentially mythical derivatives from the Bible cloaked in modern languages.

It would be false to ascribe the mythical mindset or the religious mindset to one race or to one group of people only.  The myths of the nation and nationalism have  plunged European peoples into incessant and bloody civil wars, from Troy to the Thirty Years War, from the American Civil War to World War II and likely to the upcoming Third World War.

Myth, be it bad or good, is not a privilege of any people or race. Some of the sharpest Western minds who detected best the myth of the communist and liberal   myths were devout Catholics. We owe much to the early Catholic author Joseph de Maistre who criticized the French Revolution of 1789 and who was among the first to debunk the abstract globalist myth of “human rights.” Also, there are legions of Catholic writers who are critical of liberal modernity, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Molnar and many, many others.

One must also mention a Catholic conservative expert in the international law and a noted political scientist Carl Schmitt, who was very popular in Weimar Germany, National-Socialist Germany and post-World War Germany, and who is now a household name of the New Right and the Alt-Right both in the U.S. and E.U. To him we owe the statement that “all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts.”[xviii]


[i] Alain de Benoist, „Mythe“, Krisis, (Paris, numéro 6, Octobre, 1990), p.8.

[ii] Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space; Metaphor as Myth and as Religion (Novato: New World Library), p.27.

[iii]  „ After Death the Writer is accused of Anti-Semitism “, The New York Times (Nov 6, 1989).

[iv] Alain de Benoist, „Psychologie du Conspirationnisme“, in Critiques-Théoriques (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme), p. 96.

[v] Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd; A Study of the Popular Mind (London: T. Fisher Unwin,1920), p.76.

[vi] Roger Garaudy, Avons-nous besoin de Dieu ? (Paris: Ed. Desclée de Brouwer 1993), p. 205.

[vii] Roger Garaudy, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne  (Paris: Samizdat, 1996).

[viii] David Skrbina, The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years (Detroit: Creative Free Press, 2019), p. 23.

[ix] James D. G. Dunn, The Partings of the Ways (London: SCM Press, 2006), p. 307.

[x] Adolf Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, Vol. I (NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908), p. 63.

[xi] Robert Luft, Die Verchristung der Deutschen (1937 Archiv-Edition, Verlag  Dietrich Bohlinger 1992), p. 74.

[xii] Wilhelm Hauer, Religion und Rasse (Tübingen:  JCB Mohr (Paul Siebeck, 1941), p. 6.

[xiii] Ibid., Hauer, p.48.

[xiv] Franz Cumont, Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism (1909 Eugene, OR:Wipfs and Stock Publishers, 2003).

[xv] Wilhelm Nestle, „Die Haupteinwände des antiken Denkens gegen das Christentum“, in Archiv für Religionswissenschaft, Vol. XXXVII, Book 1 (Leipzig: BG Teubner, 1941), p.61

[xvi] Ibid., p.87.

[xvii] T Sunic, Homo americanus; Child of the Postmodern Age, with preface by K. MacDonald and postface by A. de Benoist  (Arktos, 2017).

[xviii] Carl Schmitt, Political Theology (1934 Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press 1985), p.36.

Marx, Moses and the Pagans in the Secular City, Parts 1 & 2

Intro: Below is my essay published first in 1995 in quarterly CLIO (A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History). In view of century-long and still ongoing scholarly disputes about the genesis of totalitarian temptations, intellectual repressions, as well as modern “wokeism” in the EU and US – it may be worthwhile to reexamine the  debate between proponents  of monotheism and polytheism (“mono-poly”!) from a new vantage point. Which is the genuine religious and intellectual homeland of Whites in America and Europe?  Athens or Jerusalem? The Bible or Homer?

* * *

With the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity, the period of pagan Europe began to approach its end. During the next millennium the entire European continent came under the sway of the Gospel — sometimes by peaceful persuasion, frequently by forceful conversion. Those who were yesterday the persecuted of the ancient Rome became, in turn, the persecutors of the Christian Rome. Those who were previously bemoaning their fate at the hands of Nero, Diocletian, or Caligula did not hesitate to apply “creative” violence against infidel pagans. Although violence was nominally prohibited by the Christian texts, it was fully used against those who did not fit into the category of God’s “chosen children.” During the reign of Constantine, the persecution against the pagans took the proportions “in a fashion analogous to that whereby the old faiths had formerly persecuted the new, but in an even fiercer spirit.” By the edict of A.D. 346, followed ten years later by the edict of Milan, pagan temples and the worship of pagan deities came to be stigmatized as magnum crimen. The death penalty was inflicted upon all those found guilty of participating in ancient sacrifices or worshipping pagan idols. “With Theodosius, the administration embarked upon a systematic effort to abolish the various surviving forms of paganism through the disestablishment, disendowment, and proscription of surviving cults.”(1) The period of the dark ages began.

Christian and inter-Christian violence, ad majorem dei gloriam, did not let up until the beginning of the eighteenth century. Along with Gothic spires of breathtaking beauty, the Christian authorities built pyres that swallowed nameless thousands. Seen in hindsight, Christian intolerance against heretics, Jews, and pagans may be compared to the twentieth-century Bolshevik intolerance against class opponents in Russia and Eastern Europe-with one exception: it lasted longer. During the twilight of imperial Rome, Christian fanaticism prompted the pagan philosopher Celsus to write: “They [Christians] will not argue about what they believe-they always bring in their, `Do not examine, but believe’. . .” Obedience, prayer, and the avoidance of critical thinking were held by Christians as the most expedient tools to eternal bliss. Celsus described Christians as individuals prone to factionalism and a primitive way of thinking, who, in addition, demonstrate a remarkable disdain for life.(2) A similar tone against Christians was used in the nineteenth century by Friedrich Nietzsche who, in his virulent style, depicted Christians as individuals capable of displaying both self-hatred and hatred towards others, i.e., “hatred against those who think differently, and the will to persecute.”(3) Undoubtedly, early Christians must have genuinely believed that the end of history loomed large on the horizon and, with their historical optimism, as well as their violence against the “infidels,” they probably deserved the name of the Bolsheviks of antiquity. As suggested by many authors, the break-up of the Roman Empire did not result only from the onslaught of barbarians, but because Rome was already “ruined from within by Christian sects, conscientious objectors, enemies of the official cult, the persecuted, persecutors, criminal elements of all sorts, and total chaos.” Paradoxically, even the Jewish God Yahve was to experience a sinister fate: “he would be converted, he would become Roman, cosmopolitan, ecumenical, gentile, goyim, globalist, and finally anti-Semite. “(!)(4) It is no wonder that, in the following centuries, Christian churches in Europe had difficulties in trying to reconcile their universalist vocation with the rise of nationalist extremism.

Pagan Residues in the Secular City

Although Christianity gradually removed the last vestiges of Roman polytheism, it also substituted itself as the legitimate heir of Rome. Indeed, Christianity did not cancel out paganism in its entirety; it inherited from Rome many features that it had previously scorned as anti-Christian. The official pagan cults were dead but pagan spirit remained indomitable, and for centuries it kept resurfacing in astounding forms and in multiple fashions: during the period of Renaissance, during Romanticism, before the Second World War, and today, when Christian Churches increasingly recognize that their secular sheep are straying away from their lone shepherds. Finally, ethnic folklore seems to be a prime example of the survival of paganism, although in the secular city folklore has been largely reduced to a perishable commodity of culinary or tourist attraction. (5) Over the centuries, ethnic folklore has been subject to transformations, adaptations, and the demands and constraint of its own epoch; yet it has continued to carry its original archetype of a tribal founding myth. Just as paganism has always remained stronger in the villages, so has folklore traditionally been best protected among the peasant classes in Europe. In the early nineteenth century, folklore began to play a decisive role in shaping national consciousness of European peoples, i.e., “in a community anxious to have its own origins and based on a history that is more often reconstructed than real. “(6)

The pagan content was removed, but the pagan structure remained pretty much the same. Under the mantle and aura of Christian saints, Christianity soon created its own pantheon of deities. Moreover, even the message of Christ adopted its special meaning according to place, historical epoch, and genius loci of each European people. In Portugal, Catholicism manifests itself differently than in Mozambique; and rural Poles continue to worship many of the same ancient Slavic deities that are carefully interwoven into the Roman Catholic liturgy. All over contemporary Europe, the erasable imprint of polytheist beliefs continues to surface. The Yule celebration represents one of the most glaring examples of the tenacity of pagan residues. (7) Furthermore, many former pagan temples and sites of worship have been turned into sacred places of the Catholic Church. Lourdes in France, Medjugorje in Croatia, sacred rivers, or mountains, do they not all point to the imprint of pre-Christian pagan Europe? The cult of mother goddess, once upon a time intensely practiced by Celts, particularly near rivers, can be still observed today in France where many small chapels are built near fountains and sources of water. (8) And finally, who could dispute the fact that we are all brain children of pagan Greeks and Latins? Thinkers, such as Virgil, Tacitus, Heraclitus are as modern today as they were during the dawn of European civilization.


1. Charles Norris Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (New York: Oxford UP, 1957), 254-55, 329.

2. T. R. Glover, The Conflict of Religion in the Early Roman Empire (1909; Boston: Beacon, 1960), 242, 254, passim.

3. Friedrich Nietzsche, Der Antichrist, in Nietzsches Werke (Salzburg/Stuttgart: Verlag “Das Berlgand-Buch,” 1952), 983, para. 21.

4. Pierre Gripari, L’histoire du méchant dieu (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 1987), 101-2.

5. Michel Marmin, “Les Piegès du folklore’,” in La Cause des peuples (Paris: édition Le Labyrinthe, 1982), 39-44.

6. Nicole Belmont, Paroles paiennes (Paris: édition Imago, 1986), 160-61.

7. Alain de Benoist, Noël, Les Cahiers européens (Paris: Institut de documentations et d’études européens, 1988).

8. Jean Markale, et al., “Mythes et lieux christianisés,” L’Europe paienne (Paris: Seghers, 1980), 133.


Marx, Moses and the Pagans in the Secular City (part 2)

Modern Pagan Conservatives

There is ample evidence that pagan sensibility can flourish in the social sciences, literature, and arts, not just as a form of exotic narrative but also as a mental framework and a tool of conceptual analysis. Numerous names come to mind when we discuss the revival of Indo-European polytheism. In the first half of the twentieth century, pagan thinkers usually appeared under the mask of those who styled themselves as “revolutionary conservatives,” “aristocratic nihilist,” “elitists”-in short all those who did not wish to substitute Marx for Jesus, but who rejected both Marx and Jesus.(9) Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger in philosophy, Carl Gustav Jung in psychology, Georges Dumézil and Mircea Eliade in anthropology, Vilfredo Pareto and Oswald Spengler in political science, let alone dozens of poets such as Ezra Pound or Charles Baudelaire-these are just some of the names that can be associated with the legacy of pagan conservatism. All these individuals had in common the will to surpass the legacy of Christian Europe, and all of them yearned to include in their spiritual baggage the world of pre-Christian Celts, Slavs, and Germans.

In the age that is heavily laced with the Biblical message, many modern pagan thinkers, for their criticism of Biblical monotheism, have been attacked and stigmatized either as unrepentant atheists or as spiritual standard-bearers of fascism. Particularly Nietzsche, Heidegger, and more recently Alain de Benoist came under attack for allegedly espousing the philosophy which, for their contemporary detractors, recalled the earlier national socialist attempts to “de-christianize” and “repaganize” Germany. (10) These appear as unwarranted attacks. Jean Markale observes that “Naziism and Stalinism were, in a sense, also religions because of the acts that they triggered. They were also religions insofar as they implied a certain Gospel, in an etymological sense of the word . . . Real paganism, by contrast, is always oriented towards the realm of sublimation. Paganism cannot be in the service of temporal power.”(11) Paganism appears more a form of sensibility than a given political credo, and with the exhaustion of Christianity, one should not rule out its renewed flourishing in Europe.

Paganism Against the Monotheist Desert

Two thousand years of Judeo-Christian monotheism has left its mark on the Western civilization. In view of this, it should not come as a surprise that glorification of paganism, as well as the criticism of the Bible and Judeo-Christian ethics-especially when they come from the right-wing spectrum of society-are unlikely to gain popularity in the secular city. It suffices to look at American society where attacks against Judeo-Christian principles are

frequently looked at with suspicion, and where the Bible and the Biblical myth of god’s “chosen people” still play a significant role in the American constitutional dogma. (12) Although the secular city has by now become indifferent to the Judeo-Christian theology, principles that derive from Judeo-Christian ethics, such as “peace,” “love,” and “universal brotherhood,” are still showing healthy signs of life. In the secular city many liberal and socialist thinkers, while abandoning the belief in Judeo-Christian theology, have not deemed it wise to abandon the ethics taught by the Bible.

Whatever one may think about the seemingly obsolete, dangerous, or even derogatory connotation of the term “European paganism,” it is important to note that this connotation is largely due to the historical and political influence of Christianity. Etymologically, paganism is related to the beliefs and rituals that were in usage in European villages and countryside. But paganism, in its modern version, may connote also a certain sensibility and a “way of life” that remains irreconcilable with Judeo-Christian monotheism. To some extent European peoples continue to be “pagans” because their national memory, their geographic roots, and, above all, their ethnic allegiances-which often contain allusions to ancient myths, fairy tales, and forms of folklore bear peculiar marks of pre-Christian themes. Even the modern resurgence of separatism and regionalism in Europe appears as an offshoot of pagan residues. As Markale observes, “the dictatorship of Christian ideology has not silenced those ancient customs; it has only suppressed them into the shadow of the unconscious” (16). The fact that all of Europe is today swept by growing nationalism bears witness to the permanency of the pagan sense of tribal historical memory.

In European culture, polytheistic beliefs began to dwindle with the consolidation of Christianity. In the centuries to come, the European system of explanation, whether in theology or, later on, in sociology, politics, or history gradually came under the sway of Judeo-Christian outlook of the world. David Miller observes that Judeo-Christian monotheism considerably altered the Europeans’ approach to the social sciences as well as to the overall perception of the world. In view of these changes, who can reassure us about our own objectivity, especially when we try to understand the pagan world with the goggles of the postmodern Judeo-Christian man? It is no wonder that when paganism was removed from Europe the perceptual and epistemological disruptions in sciences also followed suit. Consequently, with the consolidation of the Judeo-Christian belief, the world and the world phenomena came under the sway of the fixed concepts and categories governed by the logic of “either-or,” “true or false,” and “good or evil,” with seldom any shadings in between. The question, however, arises whether in the secular city-a city replete with intricate choices and complex social differences that stubbornly refuse all categorizations-this approach remains desirable. (13) It is doubtful that Judeo-Christian monotheism can continue to offer a valid solution for the understanding of the increasingly complex social reality that modern man faces in the secular city. Moreover, the subsequent export of Judeo-Christian values to the antipodes of the world caused similar disruptions, yielding results opposite from those originally espoused by the Westerners, and triggering virulent hatred among non-Western populations. Some authors have quite persuasively written that Christian ecumenism, often championed as the “white man’s Christian burden,” has been one of the main purveyors of imperialism, colonialism, and racism in the Third World. (14)

In the modern secular city, the century-long and pervasive influence of Christianity has significantly contributed to the view that each glorification of paganism, or, for that matter, the nostalgia of the Greco-Roman order, is outright strange or at best irreconcilable with contemporary society. Recently, however, Thomas Molnar, a Catholic philosopher who seems to be sympathetic to the cultural revival of paganism, noted that modern adherents of neo-paganism are more ambitious than their predecessors. Molnar writes that the aim of pagan revival does not have to mean the return to the worship of ancient European deities; rather, it expresses a need to forge another civilization or, better yet, a modernized version of the “scientific and cultural Hellenism” that was once a common reference for all European peoples. And with visible sympathy for the polytheistic endeavors of some modern pagan conservatives, Molnar adds:

The issue is not how to conquer the planet but rather how to promote an oikumena of the peoples and civilizations that have rediscovered their origins. The assumption goes that the domination of stateless ideologies, notably the ideology of American liberalism and Soviet socialism, would come to an end. One believes in rehabilitated paganism in order to restore to peoples their genuine identity that existed before monotheist corruption. (15)

Such a candid view by a Catholic may also shed some light on the extent of disillusionment among Christians in their secular cities. The secularized world full of affluence and richness does not seem to have stifled the spiritual needs of man. How else to explain that throngs of European and American youngsters prefer to trek to pagan Indian ashrams rather than to their own sacred sites obscured by Judeo-Christian monotheism? Anxious to dispel the myth of pagan “backwardness,” and in an effort to redefine European paganism in the spirit of modern times, the contemporary protagonists of paganism have gone to great lengths to present its meaning in a more attractive and scholarly fashion. One of their most outspoken figures, Alain de Benoist, summarizes the modern meaning of paganism in the following words:

Neo-paganism, if there is such a thing as neo-paganism, is not a phenomenon of a sect, as some of its adversaries, but also some of the groups and chapels, sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes awkward, frequently funny and completely marginal, imagine … [What worries us today, at least according to the idea which we have about it, is less the disappearance of paganism but rather its resurgence under primitive and puerile form, affiliated to that “second religion,” which Spengler justifiably depicted as characteristic of cultures in decline, and of which Julius Evola writes that they “correspond generally to a phenomenon of evasion, alienation, confused compensation, without any serious repercussion on reality. (16)

Paganism, as a profusion of bizarre cults and sects, is not something modern pagan thinkers have in mind. A century ago, pagan philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had already observed in Der Antichrist that, when a nation becomes too degenerate or too uprooted, it must place its energy into various forms of Oriental cults, and simultaneously “it must change its own God” (979). Today, Nietzsche’s words sound more prophetic than ever. Gripped by decadence and rampant hedonism, the masses from the secular city are looking for the vicarious evasion in the presence of Indian gurus or amidst a host of Oriental prophets. But beyond this Western semblance of transcendence, and behind the Westerners’ self-hatred accompanied by puerile infatuation with Oriental mascots, there is more than just a transitory weariness with Christian monotheism. When modern cults indulge in the discovery of perverted paganism, they also may be in search of the sacred that was driven underground by the dominating Judeo-Christian discourse.

From Monotheist Desert to Communist Anthropology

Has monotheism introduced into Europe an alien “anthropology” responsible for the spread of egalitarian mass society and the rise of totalitarianism, as some pagan thinkers seem to suggest? Some authors appear to support this thesis, arguing that the roots of tyranny do not lie in Athens or Sparta, but are traceable, instead, to Jerusalem. In a dialogue with Molnar, de Benoist suggests that monotheism upholds the idea of only one absolute truth; it is a system where the notion of the enemy is associated with the evil, and where the enemy must be physically exterminated (cf. Deut. 13). In short, observes de Benoist, Judeo-Christian universalism, two thousand years ago, set the stage for the rise of modern egalitarian aberrations and their modern secular offshoots, including communism.

That there are totalitarian regimes “without God,” is quite obvious, the Soviet Union for example. These regimes, nonetheless, are the “inheritors” of the Christian thought in the sense as Carl Schmitt demonstrated that the majority of modern political principles are secularized theological principles. They bring down to earth a structure of exclusion; the police of the soul yield its place to the police of the state; the ideological wars follow up to the religious wars. (17)

Similar observations were echoed earlier by the philosopher Louis Rougier as well as by the political scientist Vilfredo Pareto, both of whom represented the “old guard” of pagan thinkers and whose philosophical researches were directed toward the rehabilitation of European political polytheism. Both Rougier and Pareto are in agreement that Judaism and its perverted form, Christianity, introduced into the European conceptual framework an alien type of reasoning that leads to wishful thinking, utopianism, and the ravings about the static future.(18) Similar to Latter-day Marxists, early Christian belief in egalitarianism must have had a tremendous impact on the deprived masses of northern Africa and Rome, insofar as it promised equality for the “wretched of the earth,” for odium generis humani, and all the proles of the world. Commenting on Christian proto-communists, Rougier recalls that Christianity came very early under the influence of both the Iranian dualism and the eschatological visions of the Jewish apocalypses. Accordingly, Jews and, later on, Christians adopted the belief that the good who presently suffer would be rewarded in the future. In the secular city, the same theme was later interwoven into modern socialist doctrines that promised secular paradise. “There are two empires juxtaposed in the space,” writes Rougier, “one governed by God and his angels, the other by Satan and Belial.” The consequences of this largely dualistic vision of the world resulted, over a period of time, in Christian-Marxist projection of their political enemies as always wrong, as opposed to Christian-Marxist attitude considered right. For Rougier, the Greco-Roman intolerance could never assume such total and absolute proportions of religious exclusion; the intolerance towards Christians, Jews, and other sects was sporadic, aiming at certain religious customs deemed contrary to Roman customary law (such as circumcision, human sacrifices, sexual and religious orgies). (19)

By cutting themselves from European polytheistic roots, and by accepting Christianity, Europeans gradually began to adhere to the vision of the world that emphasized the equality of souls, and the importance of spreading God’s gospel to all peoples, regardless of creed, race, or language (Paul, Galatians 3:28). In the centuries to come, these egalitarian cycles, in secularized forms, entered first the consciousness of Western man and, after that, entire humankind. Alain de Benoist writes:

According to the classical process of the development and degra-dation of cycles, the egalitarian theme has entered our culture from the stage of the myth (equality before God), to the stage of ideology (equality before people); after that, it has passed to the stage of “scientific pretension” (affirmation of the egalitarian fact). In short, from Christianity to democracy, and after that to socialism and Marxism. The most serious reproach which one can formulate against Christianity is that it has inaugurated this egalitarian cycle by introducing into European thought a revolutionary anthropology, with universalist and totalitarian character. (20) One could probably argue that Judeo-Christian monotheism, as much as it implies universalism and egalitarianism, also suggests religious exclusiveness that directly emanates from the belief in one undisputed truth. The consequence of the Christian belief in theological oneness-e.g., that there is only one God, and therefore only one truth-has naturally led, over the centuries, to Christian temptation to obliterate or downplay all other truths and values. One can argue that when one sect proclaims its religion as the key to the riddle of the universe and if, in addition, this sect claims to have universal aspirations, the belief in equality and the suppression of all human differences will follow suit. Accordingly, Christian intolerance toward “infidels” could always be justified as a legitimate response against those who departed from the belief in Yahve’s truth. Hence, the concept of Christian “false humility” toward other confessions, a concept that is particularly obvious in regard to Christian attitude toward Jews. Although almost identical in their worship of one god, Christians could never quite reconcile themselves to the fact that they also had to worship the deity of those whom they abhorred in the first place as a deicide people. Moreover, whereas Christianity always has been a universalist religion, accessible to everybody in all corners of the world, Judaism has remained an ethnic religion of only the Jewish people. (21) As de Benoist writes, Judaism sanctions its own nationalism, as opposed to nationalism of the Christians which is constantly belied by the Christian universalist principles. In view of this, “Christian anti-Semitism,” writes de Benoist, “can justifiably be described as a neurosis.” Might it be that the definite disappearance of anti-Semitism, as well as virulent inter-ethnic hatred, presupposes first the recantation of the Christian belief in universalism?

Notes :

9. About European revolutionary conservatives, see the seminal work by Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland, 1919-1933 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1972). See also Tomislav Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right, prefaced by Alain de Benoist(Arktos: 2011).

10. See notably the works by Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts (München: Hoheneichen Verlag, 1933). Also worth noting is the name of Wilhelm Hauer, Deutscher Gottschau (Stuttgart: Karl Gutbrod, 1934), who significantly popularized Indo-European mythology among National Socialists; on pages 240-54 Hauer discusses the difference between Judeo-Christian Semitic beliefs and European paganism.

11. Jean Markale, “Aujourd’hui, l’esprit païen?” in L’Europe paienne (Paris: Seghers, 1980), 15. The book contains pieces on Slavic, Celtic, Latin, and Greco-Roman paganism.

12. Milton Konvitz, Judaism and the American Idea (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1978), 71. Jerol S. Auerbach, “Liberalism and the Hebrew Prophets,” in Commentary 84:2 (1987):58. Compare with Ben Zion Bokser in “Democratic Aspirations in Talmudic Judaism,” in Judaism and Human Rights, ed. Milton Konvitz (New York: Norton, 1972): “The Talmud ordained with great emphasis that every person charged with the violation of some law be given a fair trial and before the law all were to be scrupulously equal, whether a king or a pauper” (146). Ernst Troeltsch, Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen and Gruppen (1922; Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1965), 768; also the passage “Naturrechtlicher and liberaler Character des freikirchlichen Neucalvinismus,” (762-72). Compare with Georg Jellinek, Die Erklärung der Menschen-und Bürgerrechte (Leipzig: Duncker and Humblot, 1904): “(t)he idea to establish legally the unalienable, inherent and sacred rights of individuals, is not of political, but religious origins” (46). Also Werner Sombart, Die Juden and das Wirtschaftsleben (Leipzig: Verlag Duncker and Humblot, 1911): “Americanism is to a great extent distilled Judaism (“geronnenes Judentum”)” (44).

13. David Miller, The New Polytheism (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 7, passim.

14. Serge Latouche, L’occidentalisation du monde (Paris: La Découverte, 1988).

15. Thomas Molnar, “La tentation paienne,” Contrepoint, 38 (1981):53.

16. Alain de Benoist, Comment peut-on etre païen? (Paris: Albin Michel, 1981), 25.

17. Alain de Benoist, L’éclipse du sacré (Paris: La Table ronde, 1986), 233; see also the chapter, “De la sécularisation,” 198-207. Also Carl Schmitt, Die politische Theologie (München and Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot, 1922), 35-46: “(a)ll salient concepts in modern political science are secularized theological concepts” (36).

18. Gerard Walter, Les origines du communisme (Paris: Payot, 1931): “Les sources judaiques de la doctrine communiste chrétienne” (13-65). Compare with Vilfredo Pareto, Les systèmes socialistes (Paris: Marcel Girard, 1926): “Les systèmes métaphy-siques-communistes” (2:2-45). Louis Rougier, La mystique démocratique, ses origines ses illusions (Paris: éd. Albatros, 1983), 184. See in its entirety the passage, “Le judaisme et la révolution sociale,” 184-187.

19. Louis Rougier, Celse contre les chrétiens (Paris: Copernic, 1977), 67, 89. Also, Sanford Lakoff, “Christianity and Equality,” in Equality, ed. J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapaman (New York: Atherton, 1967), 128-30.

20. Alain de Benoist, “L’Eglise, L’Europe et le Sacré,” in Pour une renaissance culturelle (Paris: Copernic, 1979), 202.

21. Louis Rougier, Celse, 88.