How Often Did Jesus (Or The People Who Made Him Up) Get High?

How Often Did Jesus (Or The People Who Made Him Up) Get High? February 19, 2015


The Suspicion

Have you ever read the Gospels and wondered, “I wonder if whoever this came from was high when they thought of that?”

I have.  Like, for example, there’s the part where he says, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.”  It sounds nice.  But nobody follows it, because it’s ridiculous.  I’ve yet to find a Christian that will happily take an insult that way.

But it is just the thing I’d be able to imagine some guy saying, chilling with his buddies, smoking a blunt, and just letting the fumes take over his mind as he’s sitting back saying things like, “Love your enemies, man, do good to them, and give to them without expecting, like, anything back, man.  Yeah…” as he takes another long drag, looks down at the blunt and meditatively muses “consider the lilies….”

I can see it.  So I was curious about it this evening.  What was the likelihood that Jesus, if he existed, got high?

It’s actually pretty high, according to some.  I mean, we know, already, that Jesus was prone to endorsing mind-altering states. His first miracle, famously, was turning water into wine after the guests had had a lot to drink.  Apologists try to point out that, in context, the wine was actually not that potent.  I suppose that’s possible.  But I also suppose it’s possible was just, y’know, wine.  Jesus made it, and all the book says is that it was good; it doesn’t specify the alcohol content.

Anyways, there was that other really trippy experience in the desert.  Forty days and forty nights without food or drink.  That could make any human being see things, and Jesus (again, if he existed) did  — he saw Satan, who took him to the top of the temple and showed him the entire world, asked him to turn stones into bread, and asked him to bow down to him.  Then at the end of it, these angels came and ministered to Jesus.

Is it just me, or does that sound like a really bad psychedelic trip?  I mean, think about the credibility.  Was anyone else there? No.  You had to just take Jesus’s (or whoever  made him up’s) word for it that this story happened.  I mean, if my buddy said this, the question would, at the very least, occur to me…especially if he seemed sincere.  Was there any chance, any at all, that he was high?

And the answer, apparently, is yes.


The Chances That Jesus (If He Existed) Got High Are Pretty High

According to a couple articles I read, a primary ingredient used in anointing oil may have been cannabis, which was growing wild in Jesus’ area at the time.  It’s a bit of a controversial point, but it seems to be a strong possibility.

And it has a lot of explanatory power, if you think about it.  A lot of the sick people in the New Testament were magically healed after they had this cannabis-oil poured on them.  The Bible also speaks of the disciples being anointed with this cannabis oil.  And cannabis can have its effects when absorbed through the skin.  So if you poor cannabis-oil on someone, you could literally make them high.

Suddenly, it seems, the miracles begin to, possibly, make a lot more sense.

Turns out there’s a small field in this subject.  Looking around on the net, I found that the idea was popularized by Chris Bennett in an article called “Was Jesus a Stoner?” that was written in 2002.  Now, if you go to that site, you’ll see that, to put it mildly, it’s a bit biased — the site is called High Times.  Not exactly the most reliable…but the article does rely, in part, on the research of a Carl P. Ruck, who is a professor of classical mythology at the respected Boston University, and he has impeccable credentials.  The part of the article that discusses Ruck’s opinion is so interesting I couldn’t help but just quote it for you, quickly, below:

Carl P. Ruck, the scholar who coined the term “entheogen,” is a professor of classical mythology at Boston University, and has researched the history of psychoactive substances in religion for over three decades, working with such luminaries as the father of LSD, Albert Hoffman; entheobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, and mycologist R. Gordon Wasson. On the subject of Old Testament cannabis use he explains:

“There can be little doubt about a role for cannabis in Judaic religion…. There is no way that so important a plant as a fiber source for textiles and nutritive oils and one so easy to grow would have gone unnoticed… the mere harvesting of it would have induced an entheogenic reaction.”

Ruck comments further on the continuation of this practice into the early Christian period: “Obviously the easy availability and long-established tradition of cannabis in early Judaism… would inevitably have included it in the [Christian] mixtures.”

Hmmmm….I thought.  This might actually be legit.  

So I looked up Dr. Carl P Ruck.  Turns out that he wrote an article entitled “Was There A Whiff Of Cannabis About Jesus?”  Here are a couple parts that stood out:

So, did Jesus use cannabis? I think so. The word Christ does mean “the anointed one” and Bennett contends that Christ was anointed with chrism, a cannabis-based oil, that caused his spiritual visions. The ancient recipe for this oil, recorded in Exodus, included over 9lb of flowering cannabis tops (known as kaneh-bosem in Hebrew), extracted into a hin (about 11 pints) of olive oil, with a variety of other herbs and spices. The mixture was used in anointing and fumigations that, significantly, allowed the priests and prophets to see and speak with Yahweh.

Residues of cannabis, moreover, have been detected in vessels from Judea and Egypt in a context indicating its medicinal, as well as visionary, use. Jesus is described by the apostle Mark as casting out demons and healing by the use of this holy chrism. Earlier, from the time of Moses until the later prophet Samuel, holy anointing oil was used by the shamanic Levite priesthood to receive the “revelations of the Lord”. The chosen ones were drenched in this potent cannabis oil.

Early Christian documents found in Eygpt, thought to be a more accurate record than the New Testament, portray Jesus as an ecstatic rebel sage who preached enlightenment through rituals involving magical plants.

In addition, wine itself often had hallucinogenic properties in those days, according to the article.  Ruck also states:

 Ancient wines were always fortified, like the “strong wine” of the Old Testament, with herbal additives: opium, datura, belladonna, mandrake and henbane. Common incenses, such as myrrh, ambergris and frankincense are psychotropic; the easy availability and long tradition of cannabis use would have seen it included in the mixtures.

So, remember the last supper?  it might have actually been a tale of people getting high….

Before, I was just messing around.  A bit of a joke.  But now that things were getting a bit more serious, I was more genuinely interested in whether this was legitimate.  This had gone from a joke I might mess around with among friends, to a real possibility that I might use in debates with apologists.  Because if Jesus was using cannabis in his healings…in my mind, that’s a very probable scientific explanation for some of the reactions that were experienced.

Maybe “Jesus” Wasn’t A Person — Just Another Word For Being High Off Mushrooms 

I kept digging. On Ruck’s page at Boston University, his highlighted book, Entheogens, Myth, and Human Consciousness, was written in 2013.  I checked it out.  I found it a bit melodramatic…in the beginning, the preface, a preacher named Rev. Richard Immanuel states the following:

We will not have to wait long to see consequences from this work, because the speed of the Internet is in place. The shock wave from this book will travel like a tsunami and will wash upon every shore where false temples have been built. The astounding collection of knowledge in these chapters contains the parallel impact of the revelation in Cosmology, that we see only one percent of what we call the Universe. Ninety-nine percent is invisible to us. The cosmological conundrum mirrors the metaphysical crisis of belief.

I told you it was melodramatic.  I cracked the book open.  It was a fascinating read.  It theorized that the “forbidden fruit” of the Bible was parallel to the Greek concept of the forbidden fruit of the tree…which was rooted in a mushroom.  Combined with other discussion about the dawn of consciousness in human beings being joined to human experimentation with altered mental states of drugs, the heavily hinted implication seems to be that the Biblical story of Adam and Eve is, basically, a tale of people who took from the “fruit of the tree” — which was mushroom — and had a trippy experience.  And, to tell you the truth, that made a lot of sense to me (plus, it made me laugh).  I swear I’m not making this up.  Here, see for yourself in this hyperlinked free sample.

In addition, I found, in another book he wrote in 2011, on pages 151-152, that not only was the wine possibly containing psychedelic properties, but the bread eaten at the passover may have as well.  To paraphrase, Ruck discusses how the wine and bread were seen as connected to a deity in both pagan and Judaic circles, and it was easier to see it as connected to a deity if you added a little…inspiration to it.

And so now I had cannabis-laced oil that soaked through skin, possibly making the disciples, Jesus, and those he “healed” a bit high through the effects; some indication that the wine drunk may have had psychedelic properties; and some indication that the bread eaten at Passover  may have been laced with psychedelic properties (that last one, according to Ruck, actually happened as recently as 1956 in Yemen Passovers, as a continuance of a long tradition).  I also had a well-credentialed professor of that time period basically saying, “Yeah, Jesus probably got high every once in a while.”

And the implication hinted at here is that Jesus may have used the experience from the drugs to associate strong feelings with himself, as these feelings were usually associated with some spiritual deity.  As when Jesus said (in words that seem as if they would make more sense if he were high),  

Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

And, I found, that wasn’t all.  A bit more digging revealed to me a book called The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross that was written in 1970 by John M. Allegro, who was a respected archaelogist and scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls…until he wrote that book and basically was laughed out of academia in reaction.  In the book, he states that — get this — Jesus never existed, and was instead was a code word to describe the experiences of a cult that used mushrooms to create their experiences.  So Jesus did not only get high in this thinking — he was, literally, the definition of “high.”  For this outrageous hypothesis he basically left before being fired from academia…however, others have more recently dug up this hypothesis.  One is John A. Rush, an instructor at Sierra College, a community college in Northern California.  Yeah, not impressive, but he revisits the discussion in this book and also discussed in an interview on YouTube here.  Also, Ruck seems to have endorsed the thesis in the reprint of the book that occurred in 2010. Less scholarly than either of these, it seems, is the uncredentialed Judith Anne Browne, daughter of Allegro, who tries to defend her father’s reputation by revisiting his thesis in John Marco Allegro: Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Also passionate, but still not very scholarly, is a 2009 book by enthusiastic pagans Andrew Rutajit (who lives about an hour from me, in Dallas, Texas) and Jan Irvin called Astrotheology and Shamansim: Christianity’s Pagan Roots.  And that’s the tip of the iceberg; a search for “Jesus mushrooms” currently turns up 856, 000 hits.  If you want to read more, knock yourself out.

Wrapping It Up (No Pun Intended)

Although it may well be the case, I’m not completely sure that there’s enough evidence, yet, to conclude that Jesus was dreamed into being, as these proposers (and others, like Richard Carrier in a more probable theory) claim — although the burden of proof for that existence is definitely on the Christian.  But I do find that the theory that Jesus took psychedelic drugs and used cannabis-based oil in his “miracles” seems more probable than people walking on water, getting sight after being born blind, and a sane person saying some of the things Jesus said.  It’s definitely more probable that Jesus and the Disciples were high (maybe even when recording or relating past events to Gospel writers like John Mark?) than that the events happened.  And this goes on top of other problems individuals like respected scholar Bart Ehrman, Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has noted.

So next time you find you catch a Christian struggling with a scripture like “turn the other cheek” when they want to retaliate, or looking for a loophole where Jesus says, “give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” and thus see how impractical such scriptures seem to be as they try to do interpretation gymnastics, maybe you can add your own interpretation.

“What if Jesus said that while high off a blunt?  Or Jesus never existed, and it was made up by some guys on psychedelics? Maybe you’re taking the whole thing too seriously.”

It’s much more probable than what’s in the book, right?  I mean, the whole thing kinda reads like a powerful trip, if you’re honest about it…IJS.

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