Stories of the origins of Christianity and the myths of Jesus are an ongoing fascination.
There are two competing visions of Jesus, well articulated in this post from Medium (limited free access).
There is the Jesus of Faith, which was created by the Roman Church when it became an institution linked to political power through the Emperor Constantine. Personal salvation comes through faith.
Then there is the Jesus of Wisdom, understood by many early Christians, suppressed as heretics by Church dogma, leading to inquisitions and crusades. This Jesus was rediscovered through the Gospel of Thomas, found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, probably of earlier origin than the canonical gospels. Personal revelation comes through seeking within. This ‘gnostic’ Jesus shows the spiritual possibilities of a Christianity that was and could have been.
As the article says
In our current world in which Christianity dies and languishes enslaved to the dogmatic nature of the Jesus of Faith, the Jesus of Wisdom, the enlightened teacher, represents an opportunity for redeeming Christianity through an entirely new but old pathway — even older than the canonical gospels.
From my perspective, the Jesus of Wisdom rings true as a world teacher in a great tradition which includes the Buddha, Lao Tsu and many others; the Jesus of Faith appears but a pale reflection, the creation of a (successfully) self-perpetuating institution.
And yet, we could see the polarity between these two perspectives on Jesus as the creative element that has ensured the survival of the Roman Church over millennia. History shows ever emerging movements of renewal, from the wisdom perspective, through such as St Francis of Assisi, the leaders of the great monastic movements, even the current Pope Francis.
This is surely in the nature of all human institutions – the wise perception and transcending of current dogma that has outlived its usefulness. Neoliberal capitalism, take note.
Anyway, which is your Jesus?
Featured image is from Jesus Pantocrator from Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, from the above referenced article.
Source: Dianelos Georgoudis.
Thanks to SciMed‘s New Renaissance Newsletter for bringing the article to my attention.