A Hoax for the Ages
When examining the world’s history, there is only one thing that can be said about mankind: society has always longed for answers. Humanity has looked to the stars, to each individual’s unconscious thoughts and to unexplained history to create plausible claims as to why and how humanity was created and universally governed. This created the idea of religion and soon gave life to small cults aspiring to become more predominate than its predecessors. Catholicism is not exempt from this, as it started as a branch of Judaism and eventually changed enough to become a religion in itself. As with any belief, there have been countless amounts of deception to create an illusion of validity. Because the life of Jesus has not been accurately depicted in the Bible and corruption has run rampant throughout the Church’s history, neither the Bible, nor the known story of Jesus, should be the basis of a religion.
Before the Roman Empire accepted Catholicism as a separate religion from Judaism, it left the persecution of its followers to Jewish Religious leaders. Roman authority gave Jews exemption “from participating in ‘Pagan Rituals’” (Carroll, 167). In that same aspect, the Roman Empire left the rituals and laws of the Jews alone. Officials neither acknowledged nor used force against those who had committed crimes against those laws (Roman Paganism, 2-3). Blasphemy “was not an offense in Roman eyes, however seriously it was regarded by the Sanhedrin” who were, at the time, the “Supreme Court of Judea” (Joyce, 13). However unimportant these small facts may sound, it shows that it would have been the Sanhedrin, not the Romans, who would have persecuted Jesus for his religious views, biblically, however this was not the case. Only one other reason would merit Roman involvement in the death of Jesus, if “Jesus’ crucifixion was politically motivated” (Illustrated History, 5). This becomes evident when Jesus is acclaimed to be “Lord of Lords and King of Kings” (NIV, Revelations, 17:14). Though Jesus himself never proclaims this, enough of his followers did that the Roman Empire obviously saw him as a threat. “The basic Christian mistake about Jesus has been taking Jesus out of Judaism” (Harrington, 2). Furthermore, because Jesus was never persecuted by the Sanhedrin Jesus must have been a devout Jew (Joyce, 38). Jesus was a devout Jew, he did not practice as a Christian and, thus, would be considered blasphemous among the religion his existence was based upon. This was not an unpopular concept in the pre-Christian days, as many of these religions “considered sex to be an integral part of the sacredness of life” (Ellerbe, 33). Because this implication can be made, it may also deduct that he was a married man, as any male over the age of 18 who was unmarried or a virgin, was “committing an act against God” (Joyce, 37).
Broadening the scope a bit, the stories surrounding Catholicism holds many parallels to popular ‘pagan’ religions of the biblical times. One particularly popular Indian legend holds shocking similarities to the story of Jesus’ birth. The story is about the Redeemer, Krishna’s, birth and “relates how this coming was annunciated to the virgin Jasoda, who is destine to be his mother. Following this news, Vishnu, the sun god assumed the bodily form and got the virgin with child. At his birth, the shepherds came to adore while the jealous rajahs ordered that every male child born on the same night as Krishna should be killed” (Joyce, 30). To further accommodate the Romans, the Church placed Jesus’ birthday on December 25th, the birthday of the God Mirtha, the ‘Protector of the Empire’ (Ellerbe, 22). Mirtha’s life also held astonishing resemblance to the life of Jesus. Not only in his early life, when shepherds were said “to have witnessed Mirtha’s birth,” but also in his later days; Mirtha divulged in a ‘Last Supper’ before ascending to heaven. This return to heaven corresponds with the spring equinox and “became the Christian holiday of Easter” (Ellerbe, 22-23). In the religion of Mirthaism, the worship of Mirtha, there are also many parallels to the Catholic Religion. “Both regard Sunday as a holy day” (King, 6). Also, in both religions, the ‘converts,’ or people who have begotten the religion as their own, went through a ‘rebirth’ of the soul and an initiation into the religion before being “admitted to the mysteries which brought salvation” (King, 6). It seems curious to find that more than one religion or group held the same, very specific story. As the Church gained in power, it still had to convenience its skeptics, most of whom worshipped many gods. At first, the Church refused to do so, but, in redefining the Virgin Mary, the saints, angels and God, they finally gave consent to a multi-faceted worship (Ellerbe, 38). Constantine’s Council of Nicea altered a “Jewish historical fact,” that one could attain a personal relationship with the Lord, and “produced an implied physical relationship with God, who was then promptly seen by the masses of the faithful as an old man with a long, grey beard” (Joyce, 22). One cannot trust a powerful group when they are lying and bending the truth to create a pure appearance. “The worship of Mary resembled the worship of the faces of the goddess, particularly that of mother/son tradition” (Ellerbe, 24). Moreover, it replaced the three aspects of the goddess, the Virgin, Mother, and Crone, with the form of Mary, leaving out the ability to worship the Crone, but keeping the Virgin and the Mother figure (Ellerbe, 27). Contrary to what the Church had wanted to happen, it “had not subdued the veneration for feminine divinity; it had simply renamed it” (Ellerbe, 27). The Church gave the women what they wanted without empowering them, through controlling how they worship.
To cover up any of Catholicism’s faults and inaccuracies, the Church changed history and facts, as they saw fit. There are several dozen known accounts in history where the Pope, or the ministries, decided to change ceremonies completely. Their justification had been textual evidence that had previously been misinterpreted (Prusak, 1-2). “Constantine convoked the Council of Nicea in 325 AD and demanded that the assembled Bishops should end their squabbles and decide, once and for all, who and what Jesus had been and his true nature” (Joyce, 22). Because this demand came around three hundred years after the death of Jesus, the outcome of the appeal means nothing, as no one in the controversy had any viable facts from which to base his or her opinion. “Within a generation, Jesus was no longer just a learned Rabbi come to restore the Torah” but, “seen by the Christians as the messiah, the anointed one” (Gaffney, 2). The Council of Nicea helped “blind faith” replace “the sprit of historical investigation” (Ellerbe, 45). In the same time period, the Council decided Jesus “was not to be considered mortal” (Ellerbe, 20). Because the Church decided that Jesus was no longer going to be thought of as a man with good intentions, but as a figure close to God, one who should be worshipped. One can only assume the Church knew “religious concepts are irrefutable” and “people are superstitious [Andreyus
] they will believe anything,” in so, one can also assume that they were taking advantage of the masses (Boyer, 5). Additionally, “most Christians” of the time were “of the illiterate poor” and were ignorant of any, more sensible options (Carroll, 167). Combining the senselessness of the masses when it comes to religion, and the masses not being learned, we create a prefect recipe for religious control.
The Catholic Church, when needed, also changed the holy text itself to save face. “Beyond choosing from the many gospels and writings to construct the Bible, the Church edited its message with each translation” (Ellerbe, 16). “Orthodox Christians assembled the Bible not to bring all the gospels together, but rather to encourage uniformity” (Ellerbe, 17). Instead of choosing an accurate accumulation of gospels, the Church created a unified way to inflict power over its followers. Not only have Biblical scholars “noted that almost every page of the Bible whether written in Hebrew, Aramic, or Greek, contain[Ed
] both spelling and grammatical errors” (Robinson, 2). Furthermore, “scholars have shown that all four canonized gospels have been doctored and revised” (Ellerbe, 17). Even though the Church sifted its way through, and discarded incriminating, gospels and stories of biblical times, they still needed to change them, creating the appearance of a major concealment in early Catholicism. It was not until around 1550 that John 3:16 appeared in the bible (Wilkens, 55). “The most reliable early manuscripts and other whiteness do not have Mark 16:9-20” (NIV, Mark 16:8-9). “The tale [John 8:1-11
] is absent from all the most ancient manuscripts” (Joyce, 18). Going beyond the fact that many biblical figures openly admit to certain versions of the bible being changed and altered, one can easily perceive how confessing to small calumniates can give an allusion of a more pure figure. “Rewriting history to erase awareness of such a past has helped those in power deflect criticism” (Ellerbe, 46). For example, “the Fourth Council of Carthage in 398 forbade bishops to even read the books of gentiles” (Ellerbe, 48). One should also note that “the Church amassed inordinate wealth during the Dark Ages,” collectively, this shows how the Church found ways to contain and repress their followers in becoming devout and possibly to further their chances of succeeding in their hoax (Ellerbe, 51).
Although we know the Church has specifically taken time to reconstruct the holy text, we do not know to what extent, only that there have been substantial alterations. In many cases, only speculation can be made because “the editorial pencil had already been drawn through” (Joyce, 97). John Mill conducted a 35-year quest, called Mill’s Apparatus, in finding differences between several different versions of the Bible. He cited 30,000 variations, excluding differences in syntax and word placement. The most surprising factof Mill’s findings was that out of all the ancient languages, Mill could only read Latin (Ehrman, 81). Considering Latin became popular around the time uniformity set in among the Catholic people, one must wonder as to how many more digressions actually occurred prior to Mill’s analysis. “Investigators found that they were not simply dealing with a loose collection of somewhat similar stories. They had discovered two separate works that someone had cut up and combined into one” (Friedman, 51). “Analysis of content and style reveals that the Pentateuch was written by several authors from different traditions over many centuries” (Robinson, 3). The gospels “contradict each other” on “several points,” meaning, whoever attempted to mesh together, did not do so successfully, and created a need to write and re-write pieces of the holy text (Friedman, 50). “In all likelihood, these Christians altered the story of Jesus’s [Sick
] death in order to dissociate Christianity from rebellion against Roman authority” (Ellerbe, 29). Likewise, “the gospels gave little or no hint of the turmoil of the time” (Joyce, 17). Presumably because, in the Roman times, the Church wanted to be united with a superpower. “Just as the orthodox [Church
] wanted to control truth, so they wanted strict control over who could dispense that truth” (Ellerbe, 12). The Church then implied that “the crux lies not so much in the actual history as much as in the testimony of the text themselves” (Mattison, 44). If any person is to rely fully on one single point of view, the concept should allow each person to conduct his or her own investigation on its roots. “Christian theology evolved in such a way that primary emphasis was given to the Church as the community of the saved,” in addition, the Church started an “aggressive program of proselytizing, which led to the Church’s steady growth” (Carroll, 169). At one point, the Church announced that “one should unquestioningly accept and submit to whatever the Church [taught]” (Ellerbe, 11). Apparently, any member of the Church was, from then on, supposed to throw out all but what the Church decided, even if it was contrary to what they perceived the Bible said.
There are several specific occasions where the Bible was adjusted, either by a Pope ordered mandate, or by unknown origins, to construct a wall of power and devotion. In 382, Pope Damascus I commissioned Jerome, a highly praised scholar of the time, to produce an ‘official’ Latin translation, essentially from Greek. Jerome had trouble finding a Latin translation that compared to the “superior Greek manuscript” (Ehrman, 74-75). The Pope wished this to be done so there would be only one ‘true’ translation in Latin, as there were many different existing versions that differed from one another. Jerome came across a particularly tough dilemma; many different sects of Catholicism pressured him to translate Psalms in a way favorable to their division (Wilkens, 77). Considering he was pressured by wealthy leaders and could not find scripts adequate enough for his cause, there is no reason why his version should be any more correct than any other version of the time. “All these subsequent editions…ultimately go back to Eramus’s [Sick] editio Priceps,” unfortunately, “these manuscripts were not the best quality” (Ehrman, 80). A quite distinguishing group of contradictions in the Bible are the gospels; “for example, they describe the same events in different order” (Ellerbe, 17: Friedman, 50-51). Curiously enough, as the aforementioned Council of Nicea and other authoritative Church groups have undoubtedly revised the Bible, they haven’t gotten all the flukes out, even after two thousand years of deceit. The gospels all have inaccurate material and that was not written by the presumed authors and in some cases, parts of the story were stolen practically word-for-word (Joyce, 18). Furthermore, “Matthew’s Gospel is very different from Mark’s. Whereas Mark presents enigmas and paradoxes, Matthew explains everything” in correlation to Mark’s conundrums (Mattison, 32). When incongruities are rampant in the book created to give insight on how to live one’s life, there is no logical reason to believe its teachings.
The manor in which scribes copied the holy text is the most irrefutable reason to question the Bible’s inerrancy. “To save on money the earliest manuscripts of scriptures we possess were in what we called ‘scriptio continua;’ there were no spaces between the words, sentences and paragraphs, and no punctuation” (Wilkens, 55). Problems with scriptio continua had the possibility to manifest atrociously since many scribes “could not distinguish between the syllables” of words and “could not read the text fluently” (Ehrman, 48). For example, “the words ‘godisnowhere’ could mean quite different things to a theist (God is now here) and [to] an atheist (God is nowhere)” (Ehrman, 48). Moreover, it could opt as an easy way to disguise a fact that could potentially deface the purity of the Church, such as Jesus Barrabus. In the known story of Jesus’ death, he was of no relation to the story’s protagonist, however, if scriptio continua wronged the story, he could easily become Jesus’ son. In Biblical times, when the father and son shared the same name, they would often call the son ‘bar Abbas’ meaning ‘son of the Master.’ Knowing this, one can easily comprehend why “the prisoner’s given name” allegedly changed from ‘bar Abbas’ to ‘Barrabas,’ it was done “in order to conceal an embarrassing fact of history” (Joyce, 97). Coinciding with the ‘Devout Jew’ concept, this also creates an infinitely more plausible reason as to why Jesus found his fate on the cross. Equally, it is important to remember those who have written and rewritten the holy text, as “most of the copyists of the Christian texts were not professionals trained for the job, but simply literate Christians of this or that the congregation abled to read and write” (Ehrman, 71). “One would expect errors of all types to creep into the Bible: errors in facts, errors in beliefs, errors in spelling and errors in grammar” (Robinson, 2). “Since the texts were copied locally, its no surprise that different localities developed different kinds of textual traditions” (Ehrman, 72). Proof of, quite possibly, inadvertent changes in the text have furthered the fallibility of the text as a whole.
Clearly, neither the collective works that express Jesus’ life, nor the Church’s pious facade, are valid. Even if they were just in the beginning, two centuries of utter fraud has created a completely different view of Jesus and the Church. The Church has become an image in itself and evolved from the centuries to, not only, stay in power, but also, to stay popular among theologists. Although answers are given in the Catholic religion, they are also contradicted immensely, and therefore, should not be trusted.
~Isabel Anne Ebony