Thursday, March 15, 2012
Review: Christ's Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity
Christ's Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity by Eric Zuesse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Disclosure: I received a complimentary eBook version of this text from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from the author: Christ’s Ventriloquists is a work of investigative history. It documents and describes Christianity’s creation-event, in the year 49 or 50, in Antioch (present-day Antakya, Turkey), 20 years after Jesus had been crucified in Jerusalem for sedition against Roman rule. On this occasion, Paul broke away from the Jewish sect that Jesus had begun, and he took with him the majority of this sect’s members; he convinced these people that Jesus had been a god, and that the way to win eternal salvation in heaven is to worship him as such. Paul here explicitly introduced, for the first time anywhere, the duality of the previously unitary Jewish God, a duality consisting of the Father and the Son; and he implicitly introduced also the third element of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost.
This work also explains and documents the tortuous 14-year-long conflict Paul had had with this sect’s leader, Jesus’s brother James, a conflict that caused Paul, in about the year 50, to perpetrate his coup d’état against James, and to start his own new religion: Christianity.
Then, this historical probe documents that the four canonical Gospel accounts of the words and actions of “Jesus” were written decades after Jesus, by followers of Paul, not by followers of Jesus; and that these writings placed into the mouth of “Jesus” the agenda of Paul. Paul thus effectively became, via his followers, Christ’s ventriloquist.
A work such as this can be documented and produced only now, after the development (during the past 70 years) of modern legal/forensic methodology. Previously, the only available methods, which scholars have used, simply assumed the honesty-of-intent of all classical documents, especially of canonical religious ones, such as Paul’s epistles, and the Four Gospels. Only now is it finally possible to penetrate deeper than that, to reach the writer’s intent, and not merely his assertions, and to identify when this intent is to deceive instead of to inform. Whereas scholars have been able to discuss only the truth or falsity of particular canonical statements, it is now possible to discuss also the honesty or deceptiveness of individual statements. This opens up an unprecedented new research tool for historians, and Christ’s Ventriloquists is the first work to use these new methods to reconstruct, on this legal/forensic basis, not just how crimes took place, but how and why major historical events (criminal or not), such as the start of Christianity, actually occurred.
The author explains: “What I am doing in this work is to reconstruct from the New Testament the crucial events that produced it, without assuming whether what the NT says in any given passage is necessarily true or even honest. Instead of treating the NT as a work that ‘reports history,’ the NT is treated as a work whose history is itself being investigated and reported. Its origin goes back to this coup d’état that Paul perpetrated in Antioch in the year 49 or 50 against Jesus’s brother James in Jerusalem, whom Jesus in Jerusalem had appointed in the year 30 as his successor to lead the Jewish sect that Jesus had started. The Gospel accounts of ‘Jesus’ reflected Paul’s coup d’état – not actually Jesus, who would be appalled at the Christian concept of ‘Christ.’ That concept was radically different from the Jewish concept of the messiah, and Paul knew this when he created it.”
My Thoughts: Zuesse first contacted me about 2 ½ years ago to ask me to beta-read this book; unfortunately, I had a health crisis and forgot about it until recently, when I heard from him again that this book is due to be released soon. After apologizing for my oversight, I set out to read this book. In many ways, this book reminded me of The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby, a book where the author sets out to show that it was Paul who invented Christianity, not Jesus. However, Zuesse goes beyond this, to show how Christianity is nothing like what Jesus himself taught, nor it is anything like Jesus would desire; Zuesse shows that Jesus’ message has been twisted, changed and corrupted into a completely different religion.
I was impressed by the work that went into this book, and think is will be an important step in helping people to realize that Paul is not the have-all and be-all answer to religion. Unfortunately, I think that the people who would most benefit from reading this book will likely refuse to do so, as it will threaten their faith and belief systems, and since their faith and belief systems are so weak as to not be able to stand up to any threats, they will therefore refuse to even acknowledge the existence of said threats, due to their fear. Or, at least, that is the only reason I can come up with for so many people refusing to read works that threaten their point-of-view. However, Zuesse had an interesting point to make in the book – are people worshiping Jesus, or are they worshiping the Roman Catholic church (which is the entity to have canonized the scriptures) and the scriptures they put together? If a person claims to be worshiping Jesus, then they owe it to Jesus to read this book and discover how his message has been corrupted. But I digress....
Zuesse spends the majority of the work dissecting the book of Galatians in the New Testament, showing internal inconsistencies, as well as inconsistencies between what Paul says here and what he says elsewhere, as well as showing how he deliberately misrepresents passages in the Old Testament in order to fool Gentiles into joining his cult. Paul carefully constructs his argument, and then claims that the Laws put forth in the Old Testament – which were very clearly stated to be eternal and never to be added to or removed from – were now null and void by misrepresenting what, exactly, the Messiah of the Jews was and was meant to be. It’s fascinating to watch the way that Paul twists and bends words and meanings. The argument that Zuesse puts forth is quite well-done, although I ended up wondering if all those who seek to worship Yahweh are going to have to radically change their lifestyles, as it seems the true way to worship Yahweh is through the laws and covenants of the Old Testament. Well, but you’ll see what I mean if you have the courage or curiosity to read this book.
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