What I’m calling Proto-Christianity is the teachings of the person commonly known as Jesus in the West or contemporarily as Yeshua. There’s sufficient evidence to regard Jesus as an historical figure that founded a ministry based on Judaism and was crucified in substantial concordance with Scriptural prophesies to also be regarded as the Messiah. There’s no compelling evidence of a resurrection nor is there any compelling requirement for the Messiah to resurrect. The actually teachings of Jesus can be somewhat unclear given the lack of real time documentation and subsequent persecution of both Jews and Christians shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion. Also, there’s the problem of the Proto-Orthodox-Christian dissent purging that coalesced Christian thought around one orthodoxy at the detriment to all other perspectives. Fortunately, some early Christian writings survived; I recommend reading the extra biblical Gospels for additional perspectives into the teachings of Jesus.
As a practical matter I consider the parables the most well-founded teachings of Jesus interpreted as they would have been at the time not in the subsequently developed second coming perspective. For example, the parable of the talents is often interpreted in a second coming framework to mean something to the effect of when Jesus returns individuals will be judged on how well they used their talents to expand Christianity; Interpreted straightforwardly however it means something more like not allowing economic forces to rule the economy will bring you nothing but ruin.
The next level of confidence would be the sayings or sermons of Jesus that are substantially duplicated in multiple gospels. As an example in the negative, what seems to be most every Christians’ favorite verse John 3:16 is not well duplicated, in fact I would have to say if Jesus said anything like that the “Him” would be more like “Him that sent me” rather than referring to himself. Realize here we’re talking about all the gospels not just the four in the Bible.
I plan on going through each parable and major sayings/sermons in future posts. After that’s done I’ll return to examining open questions left in this Symtheistic line of analysis, or at least I hope so.
To date I’ve been leaning in the direction of Jesus being an historical person that additional myths and legends were attached to his story over time with shall we say less than inspired motives. That he was perhaps a genius that saw the potential in The Law and Scriptures to bring about a transformation in the approach to ethical behavior and balance between individualism and collectivism. In which case Proto-Christianity that focuses on Jesus’ teachings would be the appropriate path.
Alternatively, the appearance of historicity may just be the result of being closer to the editing phase of the fictional story. That the greatest story ever told is indeed entirely fictional just as Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Noah; but that the editing phase was somewhat recorded unlike those much older stories from Genesis. In which case a Symbolic Christianity would be the more appropriate for Symtheism. Symbolic Christianity would accept the resurrection as a symbolic representation of renewal while realizing it is of course fictional.
Obviously, this is all still an idea in formation, but I’ve been a practicing Christian for the last 20 years with much of this view in place. Hearing Dr. Jordan Peterson speak on Greek Mythology of all things really snapped together a lot of seemingly disparate ideas. Talk about realizing you’ve completely missed the point of something for decades; that was a red pill moment. I’ve always prided myself with the ability to make assessments without much bias whether it be climate, gun control, or ancient aliens (LOL); intellectual honesty is very important to me and all the facts matter (at least to me). The realization that I had completely dismissed Greek Mythology without really giving any thought to any sort of underlying message really threw me for a loop. How could I have been so biased! Anyways, further listening to Dr. Jordan Peterson renewed my interest in religion and appreciation for the Judaeo/Christian tradition. I think we’re in the very early stages of a truly modern religion; one not based on superstition or literal interpretations of these truly ancient stories but one informed by science while preserving the underlying truths embedded in the traditions. I believe Dr. Jordan Peterson’s works will be regarded as the preliminaries of this 21st century religion.