In this week’s show our guest is Robert Conner author of Jesus the Sorcerer and the website Magic in Christianity. His articles “The Romans meet Jesus” and “Faking Jesus” are featured on disinfo.com and Scribd respectively.
We discuss the topic Magic & The Supernatural in the early church focusing on Jesus’ relation to Greek Culture and how the apostle Paul borrowed ideas from some of the mystery cults in the Mediterranean. We also discuss sourcery and demonology in the Greco/Roman culture of that time.According to Gershon Scholem, the late expert in Jewish mysticism, Jewish Gnosticism did not exist since as Kabbalistic literature did not develop until later centuries. Mr. Conner discusses the work of Elaine Pagels,’ an expert in the Gnostic Gospels, as she wrote the most extensive work on Gnosticism in Paul’s writings.
Our topic is very controversial in nature, especially as our guest discusses information that can be misconstruded by some. For example: when discussing how early Christians commited acts of vandalism in the Roman Empire he is reporting accounts from Roman leaders who are antagonistic to the nascent Jesus movement. Regarding Jesus claims the aspect of fulfilled prophecy is a debatable topic that is not covered in this series. In this show we also do not discuss the impact of Christianity on human history or the traditional Christian interpretation of world events.
Our guest shares the worldview of the apocalyptic groups which were part of first century Judaism. However, he does not address claims scholarly concerns that the gospels are not historically reliable sources, but apologetic missionary tracts which make it difficult to do a historical reconstruction of the events that transpired.
At first impression it appears that in some of his works he claims that the Gnostics were the majority of Jesus followers. This is one of the controversial points of his argument since it is part of the justification for his view of Jesus and his followers using magic to gain members. Gnosticism is known as secretive in nature, not evangelistic as many groups in that time period and beyond.
I asked our guest regarding the sexuality of Jesus and his followers because in his booklet Faking Jesus he alludes to the accusation of some Roman leaders that the early Christians were immoral in their relationships. This type of personal attack on the opposition is common among groups struggling for political power. The demonization of the other is the easiest way to neutralize your opponents views.
Mr. Conner also does not address the differences between the Gnostic perspective of God and the biblical one. This is an important topic that I will try to bring up in our future interviews. I am also interested in discussing the Gospels’ birth narratives which have many parallels in other cultures.
Many academic would disagree with his view that later Christians manipulated the scriptures; instead some scholars see the Hebrew Bible as inspiration for many different views. One examples is the Essenes at Qumran who reinterpreted the scriptures to meet their theological needs, but this does not mean they were heretical for doing this since it took centuries for classical Judaism to develop.