Tag Archives: Easter

EASTER SILENT FILM: LIFE AND PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST (1907)

Since today is BOTH Easter Sunday AND April Fool’s Day I figured people might think my usual Easter examinations of Apocryphal Gospels were just made-up April Fool’s Day pranks. Instead I went with this 1907 silent film about Jesus from the cradle to the crucifixion. 

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TWO MORE ALTERNATE EASTERS

CrossBalladeer’s Blog examines two more ancient works which – if they had been deemed “authentic” (LMAO) – might have resulted in very different versions of Easter celebrations.

THE GOSPEL OF THE EGYPTIANS – This Apocryphal Gospel is also referred to as The Gospel According to the Egyptians. This particular work is dated to around the 100s A.D.

The surviving references to this Gospel center around conversations between Jesus and one of his female followers – Salome. The gist of the material is the Gnostic condemnation of procreation, since in their view the reproductive process does nothing but entrap even more spiritual matter in the physical world created by Yaldabaoth, the Demiurge.

Jesus calls for humanity to reject and despise “the shameful garment” called the body. He also hinted that once spiritual matter returns to the Pleroma that all duality will cease, including the notions of male and female, which will no longer be separate states of being.    

One of the key sayings in The Gospel of the Egyptians is found when Jesus tells Salome “Death will endure as long as women give birth.” This concept is also alluded to when Jesus says “I have come to destroy the works of the female,” referring, of course, to all of us since our bodies – our physical prisons to the Gnostics – all emerged from the wombs of women.   Continue reading

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COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY: THE GOSPEL OF NICODEMUS

Balladeer’s Blog continues examining various accounts of dead and resurrected deities, as is customary at this time of year.

facepalm jesusTHE GOSPEL OF NICODEMUS – Despite the title of this gospel, Nicodemus doesn’t even show up until section five. This alternate scripture started out as The Acts of Pilate, and covered the story of Christ’s trial and execution from the point of view of Pontius Pilate. This half of the gospel serves the purpose of making Pontius Pilate look even more reluctant to prosecute Jesus than the canonical gospels do. Continue reading

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BAAL: DEATH AND RESURRECTION

BaalSpring is the time of year that always puts me in mind of the many dead and resurrected deities who were featured in various seasonal myths around the world. This is a look at Baal, but if you want more dead and resurrected gods and goddesses click HERE  

BAAL

Pantheon: Canaanite

The Tale: Baal, the storm god of the Canaanites, had emerged triumphant in his war with the sea god Yam and became very hubristic. He insisted he had authority even over Mot, the god of death and warned Mot that the only places on Earth that he could visit were the deserts.

Infuriated, Mot invited/ dared Baal to visit him in his subterranean realm, the land of the dead. Baal accepted the dare/ invitation lest he lose face and once there Mot fed him the food of the dead – mud – thereby trapping Baal in the Netherworld.

With Baal thus imprisoned no rains fell on the Earth and drought consumed the world, killing vegetation and the animals who fed on that vegetation, then the animals who fed on THOSE animals, etc.

In an interesting variation on these other seasonal myths in the story of Baal the “dead season” is not winter but summer, which, given the intense heat in that part of the world, was potentially more destructive to nature than winter. Continue reading

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THE GOSPEL OF JUDAS

Jesus laughingIt’s the time of year when Balladeer’s Blog highlights comparative mythology, both in terms of other cultures’ dying and resurrected deities or in this case by showcasing alternate gospels that Christian authorities of long ago deemed to be non-canonical. 

THE GOSPEL OF JUDAS – Yes, it’s the “tell-all” memoir of the figure remembered as the traitorous apostle. Among the many explosive aspects of this gospel is the credence it gave to the long-argued possiblity that Judas  lived on for a time after Jesus’ death and may have even had disciples of his own, like the other followers of Jesus when they dispersed.

The other gospels generally depict their attributed author (yeah, right) as being the apostle who was closest to Jesus and who understood his teachings the best. The Gospel of Judas plays the same game, even going so far as to imply that Judas alone was privy to a particularly secret teaching of Jesus. 

This “secret” is a full-on, flat-out Gnostic interpretation of Jesus and his mission. Jesus is shown laughing at the disciples’ misunderstanding of who he really is and identifies the god of the Old Testament with the Demiurge. The “Savior” is even referred to in connection with the goddess Barbelo from Gnostic myths. Continue reading

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THREE POTENTIAL ALTERNATE EASTERS

Jesus ResurrectedTry imagining how different modern-day Easter celebrations might be if any of the following Gospels had been deemed “authentic” (lol) instead of just the traditional four. This continues Balladeer’s Blog’s annual examination of the Apocryphal Gospels that provide the best opportunities for comparative mythology. 

THE GOSPEL OF PETER – This Gospel was in wide use in the Middle East until at least the 2nd Century A.D. Its contents would still be completely unknown if not for a fragment of the Gospel being discovered in the tomb of a Christian monk in Egypt late in the 1800s.

In The Gospel of Peter when Jesus emerges from his tomb upon being resurrected he is the size of a giant “whose head reaches above the Heavens” and is being helped from the tomb by a pair of equally giant-sized angels. Next the Cross itself emerges from the tomb for some reason and a voice from the Heavens asks “Have you preached to those who are sleeping?” The cross speaks and replies “Yes.”   Continue reading

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INANNA: DEATH AND RESURRECTION

InannaSpring is the time of year that always puts me in mind of the many dead and resurrected deities who were featured in various seasonal myths around the world. This is a look at Inanna, but if you want more dead and resurrected gods and goddesses click HERE  

INANNA 

Pantheon: Sumerian (The Babylonians called her Ishtar) 

The Tale: Inanna the fertility goddess and queen of the heavens was looking to extend her reign to the land of the dead. She descended into the Netherworld, which was ruled over by her sister, the goddess Ereshkigal. Fighting on the death goddess’ own turf was foolish and Ereshkigal won the controntation and either nailed Inanna to a wall of her palace or impaled her on a stake, Vlad the Impaler style.

With Inanna thus imprisoned, vegetation died from the withering heat of summer, which could get even worse in that part of the world, where droughts could be so intense that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were the only bodies of water that would NOT get dried up. The usual drought cycle continued, with vegetation dying, then animals who lived off it dying, etc. In the case of Inanna her dominion over sexual fertility also added the angle that males and females of all species lost all interest in sex and reproduction as well.   Continue reading

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EVEN MORE ALTERNATE EASTERS

Jesus ResurrectedTry imagining how different modern-day Easter celebrations might be if any of the following Gospels had been deemed “authentic” (lol) instead of just the traditional four. This continues Balladeer’s Blog’s annual examination of the Apocryphal Gospels that provide the best opportunities for comparative mythology. 

THE GOSPEL OF PETER – This Gospel was in wide use in the Middle East until at least the 2nd Century A.D. Its contents would still be completely unknown if not for a fragment of the Gospel being discovered in the tomb of a Christian monk in Egypt late in the 1800’s.

In The Gospel of Peter when Jesus emerges from his tomb upon being resurrected he is the size of a giant “whose head reaches above the Heavens” and is being helped from the tomb by a pair of equally giant-sized angels. Next the Cross itself emerges from the tomb for some reason and a voice from the Heavens asks “Have you preached to those who are sleeping?” The cross speaks and replies “Yes.”   Continue reading

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DEAD AND RESURRECTED DEITIES OF THE DISTANT PAST

Persephone and pomegranateSpring keeps trying to arrive but this bitter winter refuses to give up just yet. Our nationwide longing to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of winter made this a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring. The celebration of those myths at this time of year plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold.  Continue reading

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LEGENDS OF THE SPRING: A LOOK AT THOSE SEASONAL MYTHS WHICH HAVE THE SAME THEME

Persephone and pomegranateSpring keeps trying to arrive but this bitter winter refuses to give up just yet. Our nationwide longing to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of winter made this a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring. The celebration of those myths at this time of year plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold.  Continue reading

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