Sunday, October 28, 2012

© Eso A.B.

Bogo+mil = in Slavic: God-dear; also God-lover.

The story of Jesus Christ is a made to order story. Something like the speech written by a presidential speechwriter. This is not to say that some of the story is not true.

The creation of the Jesus Christ story began at the time when oral tradition was still dominant, though story writing had made its presence felt. Whoever wrote the story, knew that a written story, flying in the wind like a starch-soaked piece of paper or cloth, was going to stick to our hair, and  become a ‘fixed’ story. When the written word arrived and stuck to us, it spelled disaster for the art of story telling. By becoming written, a story became permanent, as if no other version or interpretation was henceforth possible. Some people then even attributed such stories to God, while the writer was only a monk or nun taking a dictation,

With the written story, the written version became the ‘sanctioned’ version (the version ‘blessed’  and approved by the authority of the Pope), and, therefore, not be recalled. The ‘written word’ covered with wet glue was blown by circumstances into our faces, and no one could remove it. The story became as if a living mask. If anyone tried to remove it, our skin came off with it, because it was done by lashes with hazel tree sticks.

This is not to say that some oral stories were not copied verbatim, word for word, from an oral recitation, or that these stories were not later burnt as heretical. The burning of books was not invented by the Nazis, but by the progenitors of Western civilization, the neo-, post-, and orthodox-Christians.* In the early morning hours these walked through the cobble stoned streets of Constantinople and--let us imagine, cried: “God, God, God! Let ‘only one thought’ remain, ‘many thoughts’ be extinguished.”

A similar fate later visited words set in ink. Whereas in the oral tradition a word would lend itself to many interpretations and pronunciations, once a story was written by the monks, it was believed to have always been written and pronounced in the same way. For example, in the Latvian language, the word ‘arahys’(arājs) means plowman; however, if the same word were to be pronounced ‘ahrahys’ (ārājs), the first vowel being stretched, the word came to mean an ‘outsider’. Since it did not suit the sponsors of the monks that the people of the wood call thee plowmen the prince sent to teach them 'agriculture’, be known as ‘outsiders’, the boyars’ pronunciation (and therewith a different meaning) remained: hence the outsiders became known as plowmen.

Thus, the word ‘outsider’ (it rhymes with Aryan ) is likely of Baltic origin. This make sense, because the original inhabitants of Latvia, contrary to official assertions that they were agriculturalists, were people who lived in the wood, subsisted on berries, mushrooms, and such roots as they learned to plant in the soft earth, which they found under the roots of fallen trees. This is where they grew their famous “turnips”. The very name suggests the plant was grown under a tree upturned by a storm. To the original inhabitants of the Latvian woods, a plowman was an outsider (ārietis). rather than one of their own. These people of the wood were most likely herders of animals as were the reindeer herders, the Evenks, of Tartaria

The change from oral story to a story ‘fixed’ by writing on materials like birch bark, leather, or imported parchment paper began in earnest about the middle of the 12th to 14th centuries. One of the reasons for the increased popularity of writing was its potential to ‘fix’ in the popular mind (then the mind of woodsmen and herders) the elites’ version of the story of Jesus, not to mention other tales and ‘written’ events.

The oral tradition never disappear altogether. Even after the change from oral story telling to written story telling had taken place, evidence before a court was given verbally—even though it was read from a written text. The written word, however, gained overall the upper hand and became a formal requirement. This was especially true when it came to the verdict of judges, because a written verdict could not be manipulated (humanized) as readily as the word of an oral transmission.

This is how everything that was written came to be believed as originating with God Himself, the Supreme Judge. If the infallible neo-Christian Pope said “no” to a book, the book was burnt. Later, if a judge pronounced a death sentence, gave “no” to a life, the man or woman lost his-her life, too.

‘Fixing’ a story was disastrous for a tradition that relied on the malleability of the ‘spirit’ of fairness, especially on the “spirit of kindness” of the law. It is only from the time of the introduction of the written word that the public developed the habit of differentiating between “the letter of the law” and “the spirit of the law”. Most litigants know that their own and the attorney of their opposition always fixate on the “written” version of the law. The lawyers overemphasize the written law in order to emphasize its firmness and ‘fairness’—be it so or not. Today “laws” are written by legislators, and the 'law makers'  often benefit from it while the public does not gain any benefit whatsoever.

While views over the function of a law may change over time, setting a new “precedent” or different interpretation, usually such changes require “clever” and (not surprisingly) highly paid lawyers who have the ability to persuade judges and juries that a written law may be attributed another meaning than the one heretofore. The necessity—in the name of fairness or prejudice—to override the “written law” is the reason why there are superior courts, courts of appeal, and Supreme courts.

The story about Jesus Christ, the orthodox version (the only version of the story said to exist) is a story fixed and glued to the skin of our minds by written letters. Nevertheless, we may surmise that before the story of Jesus became ‘fixed’, there used to be another or oral version of it.

This ‘other story’ is recorded in Anna Comnena’s (b. 1083) history of her father—Alexius I—Emperor of the Byzantine empire at the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th centuries. Her book is called “The AleXiad” (X capitalized by author).

Though this author’s rethought story of the death of Jesus is not likely to be accepted by orthodox Christians, the story of “Basil the Physician” is likely a fragment of the original story of the last days of Jesus. As the link informs us, Basil (the name means ‘king’) was tied to a stake and burnt; however, in Comnena’s story, we are told that he was pushed into a large pit of fire. This happened in the year of 1118, when Anna was thirty-five years old.

The different ways of dying by fire is reason why the exact nature of Basil’s-Jesus’ death remains uncertain. This is because death by fire is a ritualized form of death [there was also death by roasting the body and limbs (to give the event voice, smell and flavor), to putting many heretics together in a house or shed and putting fire to the roof]. Pushing a heretic into a deep pit had the advantage that one cannot easily jump out of it.

It is said that death by being tied to a stake on top of a pile of wood was invented by the Inquisition, an institution said to have been established by the Dominican monks in the year 1184 in Languedoc, now a province in southern France. Such a death by fire was known as auto-da-fe (an act of faith), which suggests that by the 12th century, human sacrifice and public execution were conflated into one event. It was an effective way, to discredit all forms of sacrifice (self-sacrifice including), and increase the ‘worth’ of the written word , at least, by the value of a ‘square’.

In the case of Basil the Physician, Anna Comnena writes that he was executed by being thrown into a large pit filled with furiously burning beams of wood. Let us try to remember that this was still a time when enough trees grew round about Constantinople to fill a large pit with beams of wood with ease. Many of the witnesses at the auto-da-fe were no doubt people who lived in the nearby woods, whence Jesus The Bogomil most likely, too, came. It is not just a happenstance that Jesus is said to have been a carpenter.

Writes Anna 503-504):

“…the Bogomils were there in force, watching their leader Basil. Far from giving way, it was obvious that he despised all punishment and threats, and while he was still some distance from the flames he laughed at them and boasted that angels would rescue him from the midst of the fire. He quoted David, softly chanting, ‘It shall not come nigh thee; only with thine eyes shalt thou behold’ (Psalm 91:8). But when the crowd stood aside and let him see clearly that awe-inspiring sight (for even afar off he could feel the fire and saw the flames rising and shooting out fiery sparks with a noise like thunder, sparks which leapt high in the air to the top of the stone obelisk which stands in the centre of the Hippodrome), then for all his boldness he seemed to flinch before the pyre. He was plainly troubled. Like a man at his wits’ end he darted his eyes here, now there, struck his hands together, and beat his thighs. And yet, as affected though he was at the mere sight of it, he was still hard as steel; his iron will was not softened by the fire, nor did the messages sent by the emperor break his resolve.

“While he was talking marvels and boasting that he would be seen unharmed in the midst of the flames, they took his woolen cloak and said, ‘Let’s see if the fire will catch your clothes!’ And straightway they hurled it into the centre of the pyre. So confident was Basil in the demon that was deluding him that he cried, ‘Look! My cloak flies up to the sky!’ They saw that this was the decisive moment, lifted him up and thrust him, clothes, shoes and all, into the fire….”

It is at this point that we hear Jesus cry (Matt. 27:46): “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me!?”

Many have wondered about the meaning of these words. Do they mean that Jesus did not believe in God? Had God left Jesus to face his troubles alone? And what if there is no God to hear the cry and all the cry represents is the anxiety and pain of an unrequited lover? No less importantly, does Jesus’ cry echo the cry of Basil The Bogomil King?

The answer to our uncertainty may be found in the long forgotten fact that Jesus loved God, but like many of us who love God, he was not sure God existed. Jesus behaved as if God existed, because he loved the idea of God so much, that he did not know how to behave as if God did not exist. Therefore, in a manner of saying, Jesus for all his life had been a supplicant to his own idea of God and gave up his life to that God.

*Neo-, post-, and Orthodox Christianity: a form of Christianity first established by the Benedictine monks of Cluny Abbey in France. Neo-Christianity, basing itself on a radically retold and rewritten story of Jesus Christ, changed an open-ended faith into a closed circle in which people like Basil and his adherents were held to be  heretics (unbelievers) and, therefore, were subject to excommunication and  death and all kinds of depravations, including surrender of personal property.


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