Dueling Jesuses

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Religion / Christianity /
@ K. 1998

Dueling Jesuses
Fundamental Ambiguities
in our most basic semantics

Mission: to begin to deal with the complexity of our concept of Jesus

2008 note: My scholarship here has been improved upon. I’ll have to edit the whole thing when I can. My main error, an important ignorance, was that I didn’t realize that my excellent point about “Christ” also applies to “Jesus”: neither is a name; they’re both titles. Christ is as I said a decade ago; “Jesus” though is another title, meaning “God Saves.”

Also important: JesusNeverExisted.com argues convincingly that there was no Jesus of Nazareth. There were Jesuses galore, including Jesuses who got crucified. I hope to live to do this whole section from scratch.

Scholars pursue distinctions; political and cultural agendas blur them.

Many of us believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, became a carpenter in Nazareth, preached around Galilee, and was crucified in Jerusalem. Many of us refer to him as Jesus Christ.

1999 09 19

I’ve already iterated that many of our most basic words, phrases, and concepts are too complex to be readily definable. Even a word like truth* is a mine field of shabby assumptions. “Jesus Christ” is an oxymoron so complex as to be a blunt tool for almost any purpose. I wish to delineate some of the ambiguities.

This was a K. menu, it will need to be translated to become a pKnatz menu.

Ambiguity Menu
open-ended: this is a beginning, not an end

  • History/Myth
  • Extensional/Intensional
  • Name/Title
  • True/False
  • Real/Fake
  • Natural/Magical
  • Magic Staged Magic
  • Revolutionary/Reactionary
  • Liberal/Conservative

  • Mid 1998

    We’ll say “Christ” or “Jesus” interchangeably, as though they were synonyms — sometimes as though they were identities.

    My name is Paul Knatz. “Paul” is one of my given names. (I don’t use the “first” one, but it’s “August” if you must know.) “Knatz” is my surname. (“pk” is my preferred nickname.) Many people refer to Mahatma Gandhi as though “Mahatma” were a given name. The name was “given” to him; but it is not a “given name.” Mahatma is a title: just as “Queen” in Queen Elizabeth is a title. You will not find “Queen” on Elizabeth’s birth certificate any more than you will find “Mahatma” on Gandhi’s (if Gandhi’s India has such documents). Gandhi himself translated “Mahatma” to mean “big shot.”

    “Jesus” was Jesus’ given name. At least it’s our Hellenized transliteration of his Aramaic given name: “Jeshu” (additionally transliterated into Roman letters). “Christ” is a title: added after his death. Etymologically, through the Greek, it seems to derive from something like “the anointed one.” Today it means considerably more than “big shot.” It means even more than “messiah.” It means

    The Messiah.

    Jesus of Nazareth can be discussed as an historical figure (all of the problems of authenticity of text and so forth applying). His reported utterances can be considered as philosophy, as wisdom, as poetry … or as nonsense.

    Blessed are the poor in spirit:
    for theirs’ is the kingdom of heaven.

    That’s intelligible, isn’t it? It’s at least almost intelligible. Indeed, part of the power of the Sermon on the Mount is in the mistiness note of the meaning.

    Jesus of Nazareth’s reported actions too can be viewed as amenable to reasoned discussion: a part of the “real” world. In contrast, the utterances and actions of Jesus Christ are beyond discussion, beyond consideration. Words of God Himself? Just repeat them by rote — like a kid pledging “the legions” of the flag — and tremble. Words of God must be sheer magic: what “sense” should mere humans make of them? What “meaning” does abracadabra note have? Or Shazam?



    The writing in the teaching sections of this site are forever emphasizing the distinction between extension and intension (*). Jesus of Nazareth would have been such and such a height and weighed however much. His hair could have been brushed, or windblown. His sinews would have felt the heft of his tools. Gravity would finally have tortured his flesh, massing it against the nails. Jesus Christ, in contrast, is without physical substance. It would be impossible to torture or to execute Christ. Christ could feel no pain: not without torturing the word. How a “spirit” could “feel” “love” or “compassion” has also not been satisfactorily explained. (Hmm. Am I implying that “love” and compassion” have been satisfactorily explained among extensional creatures?! No way. I hope you see my point anyway.)

    Once upon a time, early Christians discussed these and related issues with passion and verve. Muddled confusion was sometimes interspersed with insight: inspiration: genius. The Emperor Constantine put the kibosh on that forever when he instituted note Christianity as the official religion of his empire. A few bishops got together, made sure that certain others didn’t know when the important meetings were being held, ignored or shouted down others, barred reason forever, and palmed the resulting creeds onto posterity.

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge called theology “the Queen of Sciences.” Once upon a time, I followed suit. I believed theology to be the quest for truth at its most basic, its most ultimate. What could be more regal? That vision evaporated once I allowed myself to have an adult head and to bring adult vision to bear on the subject. Theology I now see uses the whole arsenal of confidence tricks to buttress inherited (or chosen) superstitions while ignoring centuries of erosion. I’m sorry. There is a Queen of Sciences. It is indeed descended from theology (the way astronomy is descended from astrology). It’s called cosmology. If theologians were genuinely interested in the truth, they’d kneel at the feet of Hawking note They’d let Ferris guide them.

    Still they wouldn’t be as far into the nitty-gritty as twentieth-century man can go. For that, you need Bateson. And Prigogine. For that, you need the King of Sciences. It’s called epistemology.

    Menu Top





    right arrow drawing Jesus
    left arrow drawing Magician




    The following words could have originated here, in my file on mislabeling, lots of places. Does either subject or note belong here among the “Evolution & History” files?
    Can you see it being placed among the “Truth” files? It happens to have made it’s first appearance in the “Social Pathology” directory in my Addiction piece.

    … whether or not you’re a “Christian” should depend far less on whether you believe Jesus [Jesus note to be restored] to have been genuinely God, Christ, this, or that …; and far more depend on how clear it is to you that Herod and Pilate were fraudulent as kings, governors, judges … I believe the Nicene creed should be tossed where it belongs, and be replaced utterly by one question: Who killed Jesus? Any answer other than “We did” entitles you to join Herod and Pilate among the mislabelers.

    See also Jesus as Truth
    The Logical Status of Stories



    Misty Meaning: (Intelligibility)

    9/28/98: Praised during an interview for the clarity of his diction, Richard Burton denied that it was altogether a virtue. He lauded Brando’s controlled variation of articulation. (I recognized his point and thought of Orson Wells.) Burton’s highest praise was reserved for Churchill’s occasional garble.

    I’ve since wondered if Robert Altman heard that interview. He certainly got the message somewhere. He could have gotten it from reading the Bible.


    Actually, “abracadabra” does have a “meaning” intelligible to human sentience. But it’s not “meaning” as we normally mean it. Look at the spelling. Notice that it’s the alphabet: repeated and repeated with a R trill to resonate the measures. Once upon a time, the governor and scribes had the monopoly on the stored grain and on methods of taking its inventory. Around three thousand years ago, some priests broke the monopoly. Priestly literature was born. It wasn’t until Guttenberg and Luther that “the people” got any of it “first hand.” Thus for millennia, “literacy” was a monopoly. Even “broken,” the monopoly was thenceforth “shared” between the two main groups of rulers.

    The Jews were amazingly liberal for the time. Ability to read the scrolls was shared among the adult male tribe members. The Christian Church regressed in that department, the priests reading the scriptures to the congregation. (In Dickens’ Great Expectations, Pip’s lawyer holds all the food at his elbow and serves it out to his guests. The lawyer’s table will never be his guests’ table.)

    Once anything is monopolized new forms of cheating must be invented. Mountebanks can fool the public with anything resembling what the orthodox priests have. If the priests have As and Bs and Cs, that becomes the magic offered by the mountebanks.

    “Hocus Pocus” is of course an illiterate garble of the Latin mass.


    Emperor Constantine: Compulsory Religion

    1998 09 28 What a terrible thing to do to anything of value: to compel allegiance. It may perpetuate its husk, but it kills the cambium, the living, growing core. Constantine made Christianity the law. Love, or we’ll make you sorry you were born.

    He perverted theology in the West. Forever?

    God help the Beatles if their music is ever assigned in school. As Marshall McLuhan wrote: Friends, Romans, and Countrymen: we come to bury Shakespeare, not to praise him. We all have to read a little Shakespeare. We all wind up knowing a few lines by rote. We know it like the Puerto Rican knows “José, can you see, by the dawn’s early light …”

    I wish someone had put a nickel in my piggybank every time I’ve had to watch a movie or play in which some high school girl gets to perform as Juliet. They put her on her balcony. Romeo, we all know is peeping from the bushes.

    Romeo, Romeo: wherefore art thou Romeo?

    We’ve heard it a thousand times. But the dingbat is perennially squinting into the bushes as though Juliet knew he was there and was looking for him. If Shakespeare had wanted her to look for him and to call to him, why in hell would he have written the word “wherefore”? Was he a dingbat too? Can it be that the greatest poet in our language didn’t know how to speak or write English?

    She’s rhetorically questioning his name, his lineage: the fact that he’s from an enemy family. The scene is ruined if you think Juliet knows he hears her. Everything is ruined if you think poetry means larding words to spoil sense.

    We all know that Hamlet offers

    to kill the man that lets me.

    How many college graduate can translate that line into modern English? How many English teachers? (Hint: the old meaning is still current in the jargon of tennis: if the served ball is i>impeded by the net (but proceeds to bounce in legitimate territory), the service is re-essayed. Yes, it’s called a “let.”)

    I’d rather see Shakespeare unread than misread. I’d rather Christianity had remained a jewel to be found rather than fend off the illiterates who knock on my door to “explain” to me matter that they are plainly unable to scan.

    Jesus talked of love. St. Paul wrote of charity. How many people today imagine that because they’ve been compelled to pay taxes, some part of which goes to welfare, other parts to flood relief …, that they’ve done their Christian duty? (In the meantime, these Christians hate the welfare recipients.) I say, if you have two coats and someone has none, you are not a Christian (except in Constantine’s meaning.) The quote referred to is John the Baptist’s, but its spirit clearly foreshadows the tenor of his younger cousin’s message. (I have two coats: exactly two; but no longer claim to be Christian. Well, one’s a jacket.)

    I’d rather see the United States fail than have young men compelled to defend it. Defend what? If we’ve thrown our famous freedom away, what is there worth defending? Somebody’s factory? Let the owner defend it.

    A society worth defending wouldn’t lack for volunteers. A worthwhile society wouldn’t need to tax; worthy citizens would support it. If they don’t, if there are no worthy citizens, then how is the society worthwhile?


    Kneel at the Feet of Hawking:
    1998 09 28 Steven Hawking reports actually being called into the Vatican. No, they didn’t threaten him with torture as they did his forebear, Galileo. Neither did they kneel at his feet and learn a bit of what they’ve been missing. They advised him to watch his step. They begged him not to go too far. Some things should belong to God alone, they opined.

    Even if it’s there to see? Put there by God? There according to the nature of god? Whatever.


    Cosmology Etc.

    About pk

    Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
    This entry was posted in cosmo, religion, social epistemology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    1 Response to Dueling Jesuses

    1. Pingback: *Hose Water Theology « He Dwells — The B'log in My Eye

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