The Book of Mary

 

Paul and Mary

The followers of Jesus grew in number and the congregation of those who followed in his way became strong. Some among the Jews became alarmed and jealous of the traditions of their fathers. “Who is this James and his vagabond band of followers?” they asked.  These were vigilant against the followers of Jesus and sought any opportunity to catch them in blasphemy or violation of the law so they might be stoned or punished.

But James and his followers kept the law in public and they were assiduous in preying in the temple.  Those who were against them were not pacified by this behaviour.  “They pretend to be like us but they are not!  They harbour in their hearts all sorts of blasphemy while openly behaving like good Jews!” (Centuries later this opinion would be echoed by the persecutors of the Gnostics; “They pretend to be like other Christians, they take the same sacraments, yet in their hearts they are heretics!”)

Now one of those who were among this group of persecutors was a man called Saul. He was enraged by the Jesus followers and determined to spy on them and expose their blasphemies. To do so he penetrated one of their sects.  There he was baptised.  There he participated in the outer mysteries intended for those taking their first steps on path to truth.  There he was taught the myth of the crucified Jesus.  There he heard for the first time the secret sayings. But of their inner meaning he knew not, for he had not been reborn, not even with the lesser rebirth of baptism, for he had entered the water with a lying heart.

When the time was right for his purposes Saul exposed the practises and beliefs of those who he had called brother and sister. Many were brought before the priests for judgement and many suffered at their hands. And the enemies and persecutors of the Church of Jesus drew strength and ammunition from the revelations of Saul.

But within Saul, unbeknown to himself, the seed had been sown. The seed grew even as he plotted against the brethren, and ripened even as he cast upon them the fire of his hatred.  Indeed the sowing of the seed itself fed his hatred, for it unleashed many devils within him, and these devils were driven to fury by their premonition of the ending of their realm.

And so the grain grew and one day it was ripe. Who would come with the sickle to gather it into the barns?

What is certain at this point is that Paul experienced the pneumatic resurrection. Jesus appeared before Saul in a vision. He saw Jesus crucified and was crucified with him and went down into darkness.  And in the tomb he experienced the three forsaken by God. And there also Paul saw the angel of the resurrection. “I am your spirit” she told him. “I am the gate through which Jesus will become you”.

As Paul later wrote:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; (Galatians 2) 

The tradition was that Paul’s conversion was spontaneous.  In the Acts Jesus comes to Paul in a blinding vision on the road to Damascus. Although there is little reason to believe anything in the Acts which were written long after the events by one who was not a pneumatic, Paul’s own account records a less dramatic but apparently spontaneous conversion:

And I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not according to man, for neither did I receive it from man nor was I taught it, but through a revelation of Jesus Christ.  You did hear of my behaviour once in Judaism, how I persecuted exceedingly the church of God, and tried to waste it.  Of how I was more advanced in Judaism than many Jews of my own age, being more abundantly zealous of my fathers' deliverances.  And when God was well pleased, having separated me from the womb of my mother, and having called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might proclaim the good news among the nations, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away to Arabia, and again returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1)

Although this seems to rule out the participation of any other person a closer reading shows that this is not the case.  Paul believes that his Gospel comes direct from Jesus Christ. In this belief he is not, as his often presented, out on a spiritual limb and teaching his own visions in preference to the actual teachings of Jesus. The Gospel of the Twin shows that Paul was simply stating what was true in the early Jesus movement about any pneumatic:

Jesus said: I am not thy master, because thou hast drunk, thou hast become drunk from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.

A person having the spring of the spirit inside them does not require any external instruction – indeed to place the words of any teacher above that spring is blasphemy.  

What Paul does not make clear was whether the revelation of Jesus Christ occurred through the medium of any other person.  The early Christians believed that Jesus was present in Mary/Cephas. So the revelation of Jesus Christ could have come through a meeting with Mary, a meeting that resulted in Paul’s own pneumatic resurrection, from which point Paul could see Jesus spiritually himself without the medium of Mary. 

Paul says that he ‘conferred not with flesh and blood’ but then Paul did not believe that Jesus who expressed himself through Mary was ‘flesh and blood’ but a spiritual man.  Also the ‘flesh and blood’ may have referred to the non-spiritual component of his own nature. As the Gospel of the Twin says, What thy right hand shall do, let not thy left hand know what it does. The spiritual right hand set off for Arabia and did not consult the bodily left hand that would have urged self-interested hesitation.

So Saul changed his name to Paul and for three years dwelt in Arabia.  After the three years he came to Jerusalem for fifteen days in order to get acquainted with Cephas/Peter. The visit to Cephas is another piece of evidence that Cephas originally gave him the pneumatic resurrection.  What could be more natural than that Paul should return to visit again the person who had initiated him in the Jesus movement? It is clear that Paul had been on probation for the three years although doubtless Paul himself would not have seen it in these terms. When he returns he is ready to be appointed an apostle and to commence his real mission.

Later in his letter to the Corinthians Paul was to write some of what Mary had taught him:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at one time; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me also, as one born through a miscarriage.  (1 Corinthians 15)

Now Paul in his epistles to the early Christian churches was writing to his two audiences both psychics and pneumatics. He writes a literal message for the psychic who must understand the story of Jesus literally and he writes a spiritual message for the pneumatic who discerns things spiritually. Those who have a literal understanding will interpret this passage as an account of witnesses to the resurrection so that their faith may not be disturbed.  But to the spiritual person it gives a history of early Christianity. For the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was not an historical event but was experienced spiritually by each in turn.  For it was this death, burial and resurrection that brought the rebirth in the spirit.

Paul gives the order in which people came to the crucifixion and resurrection. In this passage the whole history of the early Jesus movement is set out.

First he lists Cephas. It is clear that this person, Cephas, the first person to witness the resurrection of Jesus must be the founder of Christianity. The knowledge shared by only a few is that Cephas is the code name for Mary the Magdalene who is not openly mentioned at all.

Next comes the Twelve whom Cephas/Mary initiated into the resurrection.

Then comes the period when the twelve went out and taught in Jesus’ name.  They sowed and watered and when the crop was ready for the harvest they brought the person back to Mary for the rebirth of the resurrection. Paul records that five hundred brothers (the word would include sisters as well) experienced the resurrection in this time.  Paul writes ‘at one time’ but the meaning may be ‘all together’ or Paul himself may have misunderstood what Cephas has told him.

After this period of the mission a new phase starts with the conversion of Mary’s brother James. This is followed by the initiation of the apostles the last of which was Paul himself.

Paul speaks of his birth as being by a “miscarriage”.  The Greek word ektrwmati comes from the words meaning ‘out’ and ‘wound’. It can mean an abortion or a miscarriage.  Paul’s use of this term might be taken to indicate a spontaneous pneumatic resurrection, one that took place before its natural term and without the presence of a midwife. 

Yet there is a deeper meaning. The birth of the pneumatic resurrection occurs by the crucifixion and death of Christ. It is literally a wounded birth, in the sense of a birth given through blood and suffering and death. It is a miscarriage which yet results in the miracle of life.

There is also a possible connection with the passion story in John where the soldiers stick a spear in Jesus’ side and out flows blood and water.  It could be that this story is a misunderstanding of metaphor that was not originally intended to be taken literally. The fluids recall those emitted from a miscarriage. The blood and water are also deeply symbolic, with the water standing for the spirit.  The water of the spirit flowing out of the wound in Jesus’ side would be a very literal interpretation of ektrwmati.

This word ‘miscarriage’ has given great problems to those who understand the truth of Jesus as a literal story. Why does Paul use this offensive and puzzling term?  To keep their readers asleep translators have resorted to translating it in words that have a range of meanings which are not in the original but which give comfort to the orthodox. So they use terms such as ‘abnormally born’ or ‘untimely born’ which are intended by their psychic translators to convey the idea that Paul’s rebirth took place later or had a different nature from that of the other witnesses to the resurrection.  In this way they suggest meanings to their readers that are simply not in the original words.

Now Paul in his epistles took great pains to hide the identity of Mary.  Cephas is mentioned sparingly, always in male terms, and is not identified explicitly as the founder.  Moreover there is confusion with the apostle Peter.  In Galatians Paul refers both to Cephas and Peter much to the confusion of later copyists who assumed that the Aramaic Cephas and the Greek form Peter referred to the same person. And this confusion was not entirely accidental since both Paul and Mary recognised the necessity of hiding Mary’s identity. So it was that in Galatians one copyist ended up writing Cephas in one place and Peter in another while another copyist might reverse this usage. So it is impossible today to tell, in which places Cephas would have been written and in which places Peter.

Now although Mary could see the spirit was strong in Paul she also doubted him.  “He has been so wedded to the law that even as he proclaims his freedom from the law it warps his thinking. He interprets the crucifixion of the Christ as an offering to redeem us from sin. He fears women even as he despises us. Jesus appearing through a woman is for him an embarrassment and humiliation. He calls me Cephas to my face as if by doing so he can make me male. How fervently he believes that Jesus will appear in his own body and how he longs for this coming!”

Yet when she filled herself with Jesus she knew his purpose. “My brother Paul will be the greatest of our apostles. He will be faithful to Jesus and loyal to Mary.  It matters little if he interprets me through his own understanding for that is only as all men and women do.  It is not how a person thinks of me but how he becomes me that is important.  And Paul burns with my fire.”  

Before Paul left Jerusalem Mary appointed Paul as an apostle, the last of all her apostles.  She sent him away to carry the good news to the non-Jews of the nations.

And Paul was loyal to Mary.  Although he wrote about Cephas but little in his epistles the few quotes show his opinion of her.  In 1 Corinthians Paul writes:

For it was told to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. And I say this, that each one of you says, `I, indeed, am of Paul' or `I of Apollos,' or `I of Cephas,' or ` I of Christ.'  Has Christ been divided?  Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptised in the name of Paul? {1 Corinthians 1}

Paul is addressing the church at Corinth which has fallen into internal factions and divisions.  Apollos is a rival preacher who has been teaching the flock at Corinth and whose teachings are the root of the problem. He has been teaching a version of the good news which is different from Paul’s.

Now ‘Chloe’ is a female Greek name that means young green growth or tender verdure.  It is one of the names of the goddess Demeter. Chloe is an apt description of the male spirit newly reborn – the first green growth of the resurrection, the shooting of the grain that has been harvested and has come to new life.  So when Paul says ‘by those of Chloe’ he is speaking about those of the spirit, the pneumatic elect.

Paul lists himself and Apollos as the two teachers, and then Cephas and Christ as the two authorities. By including Cephas and Christ in his list Paul is exaggerating in order to make the divisions appear absurd. Dividing into factions around Paul and Apollos is as ridiculous, he says, as dividing into factions around Cephas and Christ.  ‘Has Christ been divided?’ he asks rhetorically, meaning can you divide Cephas from Jesus, a question as absurd as asking “Was Paul crucified for you?”. For Jesus is the spirit of Cephas and Christ symbolises the wholeness of a person and their spirit.

The ironic question ‘Has Christ been divided?’ echoes a saying in Thomas:

(72) [A man said] to him: Speak to my brethren, that they may divide my father's possessions with me. He said to him: O man, who made me a divider? He turned to his disciples (and) said to them: I am not a divider, am I ?

There is a further mention of Cephas later in 1 Corinthians:

So then, let no one glory in men, for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things about to be - all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.  (1 Corinthians 3)

In this passage Paul makes a list of contrasting pairs – Paul and Apollos (the two rival preachers), life and death, the present and the future.  In this pairing Cephas is contrasted to ‘the world’ or ‘the cosmos’ or system.  For Paul this world is under the control of evil forces ‘the rulers of this age’.  Cephas offers a way to escape these evil forces, a gateway to another and ultimate reality beyond the world, the reality of Jesus and God the father.

The final reference to Cephas in 1 Corinthians is Paul’s justification of himself as an apostle.

Am not I an apostle? Am not I free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, yet doubtless I am to you; for the seal of my apostleship are you in the Lord.
My defence to those who examine me in this;
have we not the power to eat and to drink?
have we not the power a sister, a wife, to lead about, like the other apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
or only I and Barnabas, have we not the power to not work? (1 Corinthians 9)

In this section Paul is giving his credentials both as an apostle (am I not an apostle?) and more importantly as one of the pneumatic elect (am I not free?).  He gives his defence as if testifying in a court of law and mentions three points.

First that he has the power to eat and drink.  The eating of the bread is the pneumatic becoming Christ, the drinking of the wine is the pneumatic becoming filled with the spirit.

Second he has the power to lead about a sister and wife. The sister and wife is the male pneumatics’ female spirit. (Paul almost always refers to these things from a man’s perspective and takes the male case as encompassing the female case.)  He here links himself to some of the others who have this power – the other apostles, the brethren of the Lord and Cephas. All three groups are included in Paul’s list of the resurrection. One named individual, Cephas, is quoted as the acknowledged pre-eminent example of this power of spiritual union. Of course Cephas does not have a sister and wife but a brother and husband, namely Jesus, but Paul is not about to jeoprdise her cover.

Third is the power of the pneumatic not to work – to be saved by their very nature as a pneumatic and not by ‘works’ like the psychic. This power Paul mentions ironically, for he and Barnabas do nothing but work; they have renounced their pneumatic privileged and lowered themselves to the psychic level for the sake of the task of redeeming the psychics. 

This passage is followed immediately by a discourse on the right of a preacher to be supported by their flock and on his and Barnabas’ renunciation of this right. As ever Paul speaks on two levels, to the psychic as well as the pneumatic, and cloaks his words so as to upset the psychic’s simple faith.

There are the apparent references to Cephas in 1 Corinthians.  But there is another reference that is coded and yet more explicit. 

Moreover, brethren, I would not want you to be ignorant of how all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. They were all baptized by Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ.  (1 Corinthians 10) 

Paul is comparing the early Christians to the Israelites under Moses during the flight from Egypt. He alludes to the two forms of baptism, by the water, and in the cloud.  The cloud is the spirit of god that guided the Israelites so baptism in the cloud is baptism in the spirit. The point he goes on to make is that although they ate the spiritual food and drank the spiritual drink and had been through a form of baptism in both water and the spirit, god was displeased with the Israelites and made them wander 40 years in the wilderness. Likewise, Paul is saying, the early Christians, even those who have been baptised with the spirit, can still displease god by their bad conduct and so may not see the promised land.

The key point is the reference to the spiritual rock.  This is the rock which Moses struck at Rephidim and which, according to a rabbinical legend, actually followed the people around in the form of a fifteen foot high stone gashing water! Why does Paul draw on this absurd legend and equate this rock to Christ?  Paul is alluding to Cephas (meaning “the rock”).  He is equating Cephas to Christ.  Just as the Israelites drunk spiritual water from a rock that was really Christ so the Christians are drinking spiritual water from a rock (Cephas) that is really Christ.  As it says in the Gospel of the Twin:

Jesus said: He who shall drink from my mouth shall become like me; I myself will become he, and the hidden thing shall be revealed to him.

The rock is in itself contemptible just as Cephas, as Mary, is a mere contemptible woman.  Yet it is the instrument of gods will in giving his chosen people spiritual water to enable them to survive the desert.  The Jews also attributed a mystic meaning to the rock.  Philo the Jew says of this rock that it is “the Wisdom of god”. 

 

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