This came to me by way of someone watching one of my recent interviews on YouTube and I think it is interesting enough to warrant some discussion:
I have been studying the mythicist position for a while now, and although I’m not a scholar or historian, I have a perspective that they often miss: studying and understanding the OT & NT stories as allegories that are symbolic of esoteric teachings.
The Exodus is an allegory for liberation of consciousness:
Egypt is slavery to old patterns/conditioning and the material world, God “remembering his covenant” with his people is getting back in touch with the higher Self, the wandering in the desert is the dying off of old ways, and the Promised Land is the new free state of being. Ancient Israel cracked this code and represented it as their national myth – Jesus is the retelling of this myth for individuals and the freeing of this knowledge for everyone.
“Paul” understood this when he says, “…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) and “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” (Colossians 3:11)
Christ is symoblic of the awakened and creative Self – aka “The Promised Land.”
In terms of the New Testament, the symbols are as follows:
Temple Cult = Egypt and its false gods
Ministry = Miracles and Giving of the Law
Crucifixion = Killing off of old generation
Resurrection = New generation enters Promised Land
Yahweh saves Israel from slavery of Egypt.
Jesus saves Israel from slavery of the Law.
By updating the Exodus narrative by using an individual (Jesus) instead of a nation (Israel), the NT retells the psychological truth of the Exodus for everyone. One becomes free by becoming like Jesus – realizing they are “Son of God” (Israel is called God’s firstborn in Exodus 4:22).
Just a rough overview and glad to explain further, interested in hearing your thoughts!
I think this is a really interesting theory. Obviously, we don’t want to find patterns in the Rorschach prints that clearly aren’t there – let’s not have parallelomania – but on the other hand, this isn’t so much a parallel as a piece of outright theology. In a sense, this is more than mere allusion.
Now, it’s not that this is unheard of – the parallels of Jesus to Moses are legion because, well, the Gospel writers were explicit about it (see gMatthew in particular). Jesus comes out of Egypt in gMatthew like Moses in Exodus, and goes into the wilderness like the Hebrews in Exodus. We also have gLuke’s transfiguration, featuring Moses.
When John has Jesus quite literally being the paschal lamb in his Passover sacrifice, you know the Exodus will be playing some kind of role.
Many Christian thinkers, and resulting websites, see this theology and run with it – because it seems to be intended. At the end of the day, early Christians were Jews seeing Jesus in a distinctly Jewish context. As one Christian website/podcast observes:
And we begin to see what it means a bare twenty verses later when in Luke 9:51 we read, “When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up,” — that is, his departure through the cross, the burial, the resurrection, and the ascension, taken up to heaven — “he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” And then from there on — and this is chapter 9: you are barely a third of the way through the book of Luke — from there on, you are reminded five times that Jesus has resolutely set his face to Jerusalem.
This is sometimes called Luke’s travel narrative. And that is put in your face again and again and again until he arrives in Jerusalem in Luke 19. And so, everything that is said and done, all the parables, all the miracles, everything that is said and done is under the impending anticipated exodus. His travel to Jerusalem means he is heading for the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, his exodus as the true Israel, taking his people, as it were, in triumphant array into the new heaven and the new earth.
So, this becomes part of the way of thinking of Christ as the one who effects our exodus, likewise, from sin and judgment and who brings us into the Promised Land. And that is why, without even pausing for a blink of an eye, the apostle Paul can say, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Passover, of course, is what takes place at the time of the exodus. The people of God are instructed to sacrifice the Passover lamb and then put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and the lintel. Those in the house are safe, but everywhere else families lose their firstborn son.
Now, Christ is our Passover in that he has guaranteed that the angel of wrath, the destruction of right judgment, passes over us because Christ has borne our place. This is an exodus theme.
So I don’t think that the person who contacted me is onto something quite “out there”, or original, even, because I think this is quite an important part of Christological theology. Now, the exact details of the symbolism and representation of ideas might differ from some of the established theories.
It’s all good, interesting stuff – and many thanks to him for bringing this to my attention. What does this say about historicity? Well, I tend to think that parallels or overtly symbolical and theological narratives are a-historical. This is theology not history, as I spend a lot of time saying in my books.
When I am faced with such complex layers of allusion and symbolism, my “it’s not history” klaxon goes off. A lot.
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