Reviving Adam

The Sacrificial Rituals of the Indo-Āryans and the Early Christians

Alexander Jacob


sacrificial, rituals, alexander jacobFrom the beginning of the nineteenth century the historicity of the Christian story has been questioned by several scholars who have preferred to consider it as the historicisation of a primordial myth.[1] This is hardly surprising given the scientifically impossible details of the Christ story. Though it must be added that it is precisely its value as myth that endows this story with a numinous power that is lacking in the more sociologically oriented cults of the Jahvist and Arab tribes who formulated and follow the related Semitic religions of Judaism and Islam.

I have also recently [2] argued for an understanding of this story as a transformation of an Indo-European myth by certain groups of Jews who must have been exposed to the Indo-European cosmological views during their exile in Babylon in the sixth century B.C. The similarity of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ to those of Dionysus, Marduk, Osiris is too obvious to need emphasis.[3] It may be somewhat more instructive now to observe the similarities between the original religious rituals that were employed by groups following the Āryan and the Semitic traditions.

In my study of Indo-European ritual, Brahman, I have suggested that the Āryan cosmological religion is indeed older than those of the Hamites (Egyptians/Sumerian), since, although the earliest attested religions are those of the Hamites, Ham is, in the early Jahvist version of Genesis, considered to be the “youngest son of Noah”.[4] However, it is possible that both the Āryan and Hamitic religions may have derived from a proto-Dravidic/Druidic source,[5] since Manu, the first man in the Sanskritic Purānas, is considered to be a King of Dravida.[6] The proto-Dravidians themselves may have been part of an antique proto-Hurrian branch of the Indo-Europeans.[7]

It is likely also that the cosmological and philosophical insights that inform all the ancient Nostratic religions (and primarily the Japhetic, Semitic and Hamitic)[8] were developed originally through yogic meditation, as the Brahmānda Purāna I,i,3,8, for instance, declares. It is significant in this context that, in the Mahābhārata, Shalyaparva, 44, Skanda or Muruga, the Dionysiac god of the Dravidians, is described as being endowed with yogic powers while his father Shiva is in Mbh, Anushāsanaparva, 14, addressed as the “soul of yoga” and the object of all yogic meditation. Since it is most likely that the original Nostratic, or Noachidian, race was indeed a proto-Dravidian/proto-Hurrian one, it is probable that this profound yogic knowledge of the universe is characteristic of it.

Āryan origins and fire-worship

The particular form of worship that marks the Japhetic Āryan branch of this family however is the adoration of sacred fire. The principal tribes of the eastern Āryans are the Iranians, Indians, and Scythians.[9] Of these, the Indians and Iranians seem to have preserved best, in their oral hieratic linguistic tradition, the philosophical import of the ancient cosmology of the proto-Dravidians/Hurrians. So it would be helpful to consider here the conduct and significance of their particular sacred rituals.

A brief account of the beginnings of fire-worship among the Indians and Iranians may be in order. We may recall Herodotus’ statement that the Iranians did not worship fire originally.[10] In the Purānas, too, Pururavas, the early Aila [=Elamite?] king, is said to have obtained sacrificial fire from the “Gandharvas”,[11] who also taught him the constitution of the three sacred fires of the Āryans.[12] Pururavas is stated in the Puranas to be an Aila king of Pratishthana and the Ailas themselves are designated as Karddameyas, which relates them to the river Karddama in Iran, particularly in the region of Balkh.[13]

The fact that the Pururavas are said to have learnt the fire-rituals from the Gandharvas suggests that the early Hurrians of Elam and the earliest Iranians did not worship fire and learnt it from a more northerly wave of Āryans who must have, at a very early date, moved eastwards from their Armenian homeland. However, even the Gandharvas are included among the Aila [=Elamite?] dynasties in the Purānas, which suggests that these Āryans too were a northern and eastern branch of proto-Hurrians identifiable as Japhetites. The Japhetic tribes that moved northwards to the Pontic-Caspian steppes created the Yamnaya culture there[14] which is considered the major source of the Āryan tribes.[15]

The Gandaridae are also mentioned by Herodotus (III,91) as one of the Indian tribes of the seventh satrapy of Darius I (550-486 B.C.) and can be located near the Bactrians of the 12th satrapy. The archaeological evidence of the early Gandharvas may be that found in the Gandhara Grave culture of the Swat settled from 1700-1400 B.C., which followed the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC). The occupants of the BMAC may have been related to the same family as the later Gandhara. Since the Gandhara culture also bears the first evidence of cremation rituals in South Asia, we may consider them to have indeed consolidated the Vedic customs of the Indo-Āryans. Cremation is evidenced also in the Andronovo culture.[16] At the same time, the neighbouring Bishkent culture, which is contemporaneous with the Gandhara and is related to the northern BMAC type, exhibits also a curious quasi-Scythian custom of inhumation involving the removal of the entrails and their replacement with clarified butter which may have persisted among the Vedic Indians, as is suggested by Shatapatha Brāhmana XII,v,2,5.[17]

Elaborate fire-altars are evident in the ruins of the BMAC complex which correspond to the Āryan fire-sacrifices. The temples also contain rooms with “all the necessary apparatus for the preparation of drinks extracted from poppy, hemp and ephedra” that may have been used for the soma-rituals.[18] The BMAC may have thus been the centre of cultural contact between the proto-Dravidian/Hurrian peoples of Mundigak and the later Indo-Āryans. It is interesting to note too, in this context, that the Avesta (which is geographically centred in eastern Iran) mentions the Māzanian daevas as worshippers of the Indian gods. According to Burrow, Māzana is known in Iranian sources as the territory between the southern shore of the Caspian Sea and the Alburz mountains.[19] It may be related also to Margiana and the Indo-Āryan culture noted there. The Pururavas who adopted fire-worship from the Gandharas may thus represent an Elamite branch of the proto-Āryan family, while the Gandaridae, who may have arrived from the south-east Caspian region (since the BMAC culture is apparently derived from the latter)[20] may be a typically Indo-Āryan, north-eastern branch of the same family.

Though fire-worship is characteristic of the Indo-Āryans, it was maintained by other members of the Japhetic branch of the Indo-Europeans too. For fire-worship is observed also in the Prussian-Lithuanian cult of szwenta (holy fire), while the Scythians too worshipped a goddess called Tabit whose name may be related to the Sanskrit ‘tapti’ denoting heat. The Greeks and Romans also maintained a cult of hestia or vesta.[21]

That the Indic Vedic culture itself may have been developed after an original formulation at a proto-Indo-Iranian stage is suggested by the greater elaboration of the name of the god Tvoreshtar amongst the Iranians – representing the older religion of the proto-Āryans – compared to the Vedic Tvashtr. Indeed, many of the characteristic traits of the rituals of ancient India derive from an Indo-Iranian period as is attested by the similarity of the terms, yajna/yaja, soma/haoma,mantra/manθra, nama/nəmô. Even the term atharvan has only an Iranian etymology âθravâ.[22]

In the Vedic scriptures the Indo-Āryans are fully identified with fire-worship. Indeed, the Āryans designated the Dasyus or non-Āryans as Anagni, the fireless. The reference in Manusmrithi X:43-45 to “the Dravidas, the Kāmbojas, the Yavanas [Ionians], the Sakas [Scythians], etc.” as Kshatriya races which have sunk to the level of Shūdras on account of their neglect of the sacred rites and the authority of the Brāhmans suggests that Brāhmanism, though based on the spiritual insights of the proto-Dravidians, was formulated by the Indo-Āryans as an exclusive fire-worshipping cult.

However, it should also be noted that this Āryan fire-worship is employed in a religion which formed the basis of the solar religions of the Sumerians or Egyptians as well. In the Sumerian religion too, the chief solar god An is equated (in an Assyrian exegetical text)[23]to Girra, the fire-god and Re in Egypt is the same as the solar force, Agni.[24] So that it is possible that the adoration of the solar force as divine fire may have been an integral part of the original proto-Dravidian religion that was shared by Semites, Japhetites and Hamites.

The Prisca Theologia

The original religion of the ancients was based on a spiritual vision of the formation of the cosmos. According to this cosmogonic scheme, – which I reconstructed in my work Ātman,[25] after the cosmic deluge which marks the end of the first cosmic age (kalpa), the Divine Soul, Ātman, within the cosmic ocean (the Abyss) gradually recreates the cosmos assuming the form of an Ideal Macroanthropos, or Cosmic Man (Purusha). The breath or life-force (Vāyu/Wotan) of the cosmic Man first unites with matter (Earth) to form a closely united complex of Heaven (the spiritual substance of the Purusha) and Earth. But the temporal aspect (Kāla, Chronos) of the rapidly moving breath or wind also separates the two elements, an event represented as a castration of the Purusha. The semen that falls from the castrated phallus impregnates the Purusha himself with a Cosmic Egg from which emerges the manifest cosmos comprised, again, of Earthly substance and Heavenly light (Brahman). This luminous Brahman is also represented anthropomorphically as a Cosmic Man.

However, this light, represented in anthropomorphic form, continues to possess a stormy quality which is a persistence of Chronos in the manifest cosmos. This force, represented as Zeus/Seth/Ganesha, shatters the light and forces it to descend to the lower regions of Earth, where it lies moribund as, for instance, Osiris. However, the same storm-force has, in its assault on the manifest light, swallowed the divine phallus and it eventually revives the moribund light in the underworld with its potency. Separating the substance of Earth, into which the cosmic light has sunk, into the earthly regions and heaven of our own universe, it emerges through the cleft between the two into the mid-region of the stars as a universal Tree, or Phallus, of Life. The seeds of the animal life of this newly formed universe are then emitted within our galaxy and stored within the moon, while the solar force of the Cosmic Man which informs human life is finally manifested above the top of the Tree/Phallus as the sun.

Āryan Rituals

The fire-based rituals of the Indo-Āryans are based on the original sacrifice of the Ideal cosmic macroanthropos, Purusha, as well as on its repetitions in the manifest cosmos and in the underworld, for it is these sacrifices that result in the formation of the sun.[26] The primary aim of the Vedic ritual is thus to restore the disintegrated Purusha and, especially, his solar energy. As Gonda pointed out with regard to the construction of the Vedic fire-altar,

In building the great fireplace one restores and reintegrates Prajāpati [Purusha], whose dismemberment had been the creation of the universe, and makes him whole and complete. At the same time and by means of the same ritual act, the sacrificer, who is identified with Prajāpati (cf. Shatapatha Brāhmana VII,4,15) constructs himself a new social personality and secures the continuance of his existence.[27]

The sacrifice of the Purusha which initiated the formation of the universe was most probably originally imitated in the ancient Indo-European religions by a human sacrifice.[28] Human sacrifice is indeed archaeologically evidenced in the early Bronze Age (fourth millennium B.C.) Luhansk site in the Ukraine which forms part of the Yamnaya culture associated with the Āryans. It is attested among the ancient Germanic peoples too and discernible (in Caesar’s writings) among the Celts, as well as among the Scythians, and Thracians.[29] Among the Indo-Āryans the human sacrifice is naturally called a Purushamedha (sacrifice of the Purusha).

The essential purpose of a sacrifice, however, is self-sacrifice and the sacrifice of a human involved in the proto-Vedic Purushamedha must originally have been conducted as a substitute for the sacrifice of the sacrificer himself, since the sacrificer is, in all Vedic sacrifices, identified with the victim. As Heesterman states, “self-sacrifice is an all-but-ubiquitous theme in the ritual brāhmana texts, the victim as well as the other offerings being regularly equated with the sacrificer”.[30] That is why the victim in the Purushamedha was originally exclusively a brāhman or a kshatriya, since only these two castes were qualified to act as representatives of the Purusha and to conduct sacrifices.

The sacrificial victim is also always a male[31] since only his energy can substitute for the phallic force of the Purusha that fills the universe with its life. We have observed in our survey of the cosmological bases of sacrifices that the entire evolution of the material universe arises from repeated castrations, and preservations, of the divine phallus, first in the Ideal realm of the Purusha, then in the early cosmos of Brahman and, lastly, in the material universe, as the Tree of Life that arises from the underworld and extends to the heavens. If what is most important in the Purusha is his phallic power, as is evident also in the Hesiodic account of the castration of Ouranos by Chronos,[32] it is probable that the sacrifice originally focused on the victim’s phallus, as we observe, for example, in the custom of the veneration of the penis of a slaughtered stallion among the ancient Nordic peoples.[33] Similarly, in the Equus October ceremony in ancient Rome a race-horse was slaughtered and its tail (standing no doubt for its penis) was brought to the regia.[34]

Over time, however, the human victim was substituted with animals that equally represented the energy of the divine phallus, thus a horse or a bull, and finally with lesser animals such as sheep and goats. Indeed, at the time of the composition of the Shatapatha Brāhmana, the most common substitute was the goat (SB VI,2,1,39). In all cases, however, the original significance of the sacrifice as a self-sacrifice is never forgotten, as many of the processes of the Vedic sacrifices as well as many of the accompanying Vedic chants reveal.

Just as the death of Osiris is followed by his revival in our universe as the sun, the Indo-European religious sacrifices too betoken not only a self-sacrifice of the sacrificer but also a solar rebirth which they allow the sacrificer to undergo as a brāhman, or one who has realised the solar virtue of his soul. In the Indian horse-sacrifice, Ashvamedha, for instance, the horse represents the sun which has been lost and must be recovered. Thus SB XIII,3,1,1 declares:

Prajâpati’s eye swelled; it fell out: thence the horse was produced; and inasmuch as it swelled (ashvayat), that is the origin and nature of the horse (ashva). By means of the Asvamedha the gods restored it to its place; and verily he who performs the Asvamedha makes Prajâpati complete, and he (himself) becomes complete; and this, indeed, is the atonement for everything, the remedy for everything.

This is the same significance that attaches also to the Osirian funereal rites, especially the mouth-opening ritual.[35] For the assault on the solar force by Seth is referred to as the damage or robbing of the “Horus eye” [the sun] which must be restored to Horus the Elder/Osiris.

By transfiguring the sacrificer into the solar force, the sacrifice simultaneously bestows immortality on him. The nectar of immortality that sacrificers seek for by toil and penance is indeed Soma (SB IX,5,1,8). The underlying motif of the Soma sacrifice is one related to the pressing, or killing of the Purusha, as SB II,2,2,1 suggests: “in pressing out the king [Soma] they slay him”. This may have a special phallic connotation as well since the soma juice is akin to the seminal power of Prajāpati which serves as the source of the sun. Thus the sacrifice, though representing the death of the sacrificer, also signifies the production of Soma, the nectar of immortality. The sacrificer’s spiritual rebirth is essentially akin to that of the solar force Agni that we have observed above.

The ultimate aim of the original Indo-European sacrifices, modelled after the cosmic sacrifice of the Purusha, however, must have been the liberation of the self from the illusions of the material fabric in which it is entangled and the direction of the energy of man into the divine consciousness. This is indeed the principal aim of yogic ascesis as well, which, according to Heesterman, is an internalisation of the sacrifice. However, since yoga is likely to have preceded fire-sacrifices since it is the basis of the cosmic vision that informs both, it is more probable that the fire-sacrifices were a later externalisation of yogic practice rather than that the latter was an internalisation of the former.


One of the most important of the rituals of the ancient Indians is the Agnicayana,[36] which recreates the birth of the universe in the form of Prajāpati as well as the trifold birth of Agni as Agni (the fiery force that sinks to the underworld)-Vāyu (the life-force that emerges from the underworld)-and Āditya (the sun). The first rites of this ceremony are dedicated to the engendering of Agni as the elemental solar fire. This is done through an initial sacrifice of five forms of animal life, starting with a human. These five victims also symbolise the five layers of the altar that is to be built in the course of this ceremony (SB VI,2,1,16). After the initial animal sacrifices, the fire-pan (ukha) is fashioned, which is considered to be the “ātman” (soul) of the fire-altar. It is four-sided to represent the four quarters of the universe.

The first major step in this ceremony (SB VI,2,2,27) is the symbolic pouring of his seed by the sacrificer into the fire-pan representing a womb. As SB VI,2,2,22 declares “there is seed here in the sacrifice”. SB X,4,1,1-2 explains that the pouring of the seed of the sacrificer into the fire-pan as into a womb is the same as the pouring of the seed of Prajāpati.

Agni is later looked for in the clay (SB VI,3,3) and dug up (SB VI,4,17) and then deposited on an antelope-skin representing Earth (also called the “sacrifice”) and a lotus-leaf representing the Sky (“the womb”), for the first birth of Agni is from Heaven, the second from Earth and the third from the Waters surrounding Earth.[37] Agni is now poured as seed into the lotus-leaf (SB VI,4,3,6).

Then Agni is created for a second time from Earth, represented now by the fire-pan (SB VI,5,1,11-12), which is the “earthen womb for Agni” (SB VI,5,2,21). Milk is poured into it and Agni is generated as Vishnu (SB VI,6,6,2,16).

The sacrificer then fashions the “seed” of Agni for a third time in the form of a winged solar bird (SB VI,7,2,5). Next he takes the Vishnu strides which formed the expanded universe (SB VI,7,2,10). The ashes of the fire in the fire-pan are then thrown into water (SB VI,8,2,2), since the last birth of Agni is from the Waters.

Then follows the construction of the three hearths, the circular gārhapatya hearth representing the earth of our universe and the world of men (SB VII,I,1) and the square āhavanīya representing the heavens and the world of the gods (SB VII,2,2). The air of the Mid-region is represented by the āgnīdhrīya fire (SB VII,1,2,12). During the building of the gārhapatya hearth, the (uterine) fire-pan (ukha) is impregnated with sand to simulate the conception of Agni (SB VII,1,1,41-42). In addition, a Nirriti hearth is built representing the corruption and evil that have to be removed from the sacrifice (SB VII,2,1).

This is followed by the construction of the vedi, also representing earth, and the mahāvedi, representing heaven (SB VII,3,1,27). The catvala (pit/womb) represents the original site of the sun before it moved to the heavens of our universe (Jaiminiya Brāhmana I, 86,7). The area on which the fire-altar is to be constructed is scattered with sand representing seed in order to fill the figure of Prajāpati with seed (SB VII,3,1,42).

The construction of the fire-altar is begun a year (suggesting a year’s gestation period) after the fire-pan (ukha) is prepared . The process of constructing the five layers of the fire-altar is described in SB VII,4,1-VIII,5,1. A lotus leaf representing Earth is placed in the centre of the altar site and on it a gold plate that the sacrificer has been wearing for a year. On top of this plate, which represents the orb of the sun, a gold man representing the Purusha finally manifest within the sun (SB X,5,2,6) is placed facing the east. The sacrificer sings over the gold man to transfer his virility or semen into it (SB VII,4,1,24). SB X,4,1,6 equates the gold plate with Indra symbolising kshatra (sovereignty) and the gold man with Agni symbolising brahman (priesthood). The identification of the yajamāna with the gold man stresses the identification of the sacrificer with Agni as the Purusha.

Then the Purusha sāman is sung and the laying of the bricks is begun, the first being the svayamātrrina (‘the naturally pierced’) placed on the gold man to allow him to breathe. Within the first layer of the altar are buried the fire-pan (representing a womb), a living tortoise and a mortar and pestle (representing a penis in a womb). The tortoise, an avatār of Vishnu, represents the form of our universe comprising heaven and earth.[38] Thus the fire-pan and the lotus leaf are considered to be “female”[39] and the “womb” which the sacrificer impregnates in order to generate Agni, the solar force, as Āditya, the sun.

Next, after a square mortar (ulūkhulaka) made of udumbara wood is installed at the ‘northern shoulder’ of the fire-altar, the fire-pit (ukhā) is placed in the middle. The fire-pan that was used by the sacrificer for carrying around the fire for a year is buried in the first layer, and the heads of the five sacrificial victims are placed in it, the human head in the middle of the fire-pit, the head of a horse towards the west, of a bull towards the east, of a ram towards the south, and of a goat towards the north, while seven pieces of gold are laid in the seven orifices of the human head.[40] The bricks of the altar are animated by vital breaths represented by certain bricks called “breath-holders” (prāna-bhrt).

The altar indeed represents the cosmic body of Agni as Purusha, and the layers of bricks represent the various breaths of the Purusha. The feet of the Purusha represent earth, his legs intermediate space, waist the mid-region, chest intermediate space and head heaven.[41] The lowest level of the altar in which the image is embedded represents the Svarloka (Heaven), the third level the Bhuvarloka (the Mid-region of the stars), the fourth level Brahman and the immortal regions, and the fifth the Bhurloka (Earth). However, although vertically the altar represents the Purusha, horizontally it represents the solar force in the form of a sun-bird with outstretched wings facing the east. The fire-altar in the form of a sun-bird that may fly to the heavens[42] thus represents the virile Purusha that is transformed into the sun.

After the completion of the five layers, the altar is sprinkled with gold-chips to confer a golden form to the “body” of the Purusha (SB X,1,4,9)[43] as well immortality on Agni (SB VIII,7,4,7). Layers of soil are then scattered in between the layers of bricks to represent the Purusha’s marrow, bones, sinews, flesh, fat, blood and skin (SB X,1,4).

Then a hymn to propitiate the fierce form of Agni, Rudra, is chanted (SB IX). This is followed by the chanting of sāman hymns representing the immortal vital airs (SB IX,1,2,32). The chanting of these hymns is said to make the priests who chant as well as the sacrificer “boneless and immortal” (SB IX,I,2,34). Then follow chantings of several hymns aimed at making the head, the right wing, the left wing, the breath, the tail and the heart of the sun-bird immortal (SB IX,1,2,35-42).

After the generation of Agni as the sun-bird Āditya, Agni is led to the fire-altar (SB IX,2) and installed there (SB IX,3). The aim of the Agnicayana ritual is the flight of Āditya, the sun, to the heavens.[44] The sacrificer too is thereby borne by the altar, or the sun-bird, to heaven. However, the sacrificer does return to the earth (represented by the gārhapatya hearth) after his journey to the otherworld. As Tull points out, the purpose of the construction of the fire-altar, is “to reunify man’s material being with the essential aspect of existence and thereby regain the original state of wholeness”.[45]

Jewish origins

The elaborate sacrificial ritual we have just studied gives us an idea of the magico-symbolic nature of the religious worship of the ancient Indo-Europeans. The prisca theologia of the Indo-Europeans informing these Indo-Āryan rituals was a polytheistic one in which the various transformations of the divine Soul Ātman through its fiery energy Agni are worshipped as individual deities. This is in stark contrast to Hebrew monotheism, which should more properly be designated as a mono-nationalism based on the tribal cult of Yahve the god of the Hebrews. The Hebrews are a branch of the Semitic Arameans who are recognisable in the nomadic “habiru” of the ancient Near East who were considered as dangerous and subversive mercenaries and brigands.[46] The radical difference between Hebraic monotheism, which began and continues today not so much as a worship of any universal spiritual forces but, rather, as a political doctrine of mono-nationalism (that is, the unique concentration on the history of the Israelites as the destiny of mankind) and ancient henotheism is that the latter is a genuinely universal religion based on the scientific and philosophical understanding of the cosmos, whereas the Abrahamic revolution represents a repudiation of this religiosity for an obscurantist anthropocentric – and Judeocentric – ethics.

The Jewish aversion to cosmological religion is indeed confirmed in the references to Abraham’s career as a religious leader in Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities, I,157:[47]

[Abraham] began to have higher notions of virtue than others had, and he determined to renew and to change the opinion all men happened then to have concerning God; for he was the first that ventured to publish this notion, That there was but one God, the Creator of the universe; and that, as to other [gods], if they contributed anything to the happiness of men, that each of them afforded it only according to his appointment, and not by their own power.

However, as Renan pointed out in his Histoire Générale et Système Comparé des Langues Sémitiques (1863), monotheism, far from representing a higher stage of religious consciousness, is

en realité, le fruit d’une race qui a peu de besoins religieux. C’est comme minimum de religion, en fait de dogmes et en fait de pratiques extérieures, que le monothéisme est surtout accommodé aux besoins des populations nomades.[48]

The historical record of the Jews itself was completed as the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) by around the third century B.C., though it may have been begun shortly after the Babylonian exile of the sixth century B.C. In its monotheistic glorification of the history of the Jewish tribes the Hebrew Bible naturally ignores the spiritual bases of the older polytheistic cosmogony.

The Kabbalah

However, some evidence of cosmological mysticism appears even among the Jews in their Kabbalistic works such as Sepher Yetzirah (The Book of the Creation) and the Zohar (The Book of the Light), which were composed in the first centuries A.D. In all probability these works too, like the Gnostic ones and the early notions of a Christian messiah, were derived from the Assyrians among whom the Hebrews were exiled in the 6th century B.C.[49] and contain some insights into the original cosmological bases of the first few sections of Genesis.

The Kabbalah begins with the ineffable Deity Ein Sof (corresponding to Ātman) and posits two trinities emanating from him, representing the Ideal Man (Adam Kadmon) and the Cosmic Man. The first, ideal trinity is constituted of Being (Eheieh) also called Kether or the Crown, conceived of as a point Arich Anpin, the ideal light constituted of a Father, Chokmah (also called Jahve) and a Mother, Binah (also called Elohim), and their progeny, a male hypostasis called Chesed (also called El) and a female one called Geburah (also called Eloh). The last two together produce the second, cosmic trinity ruled by;

1. Tiphereth or the King (also called Eloha), who corresponds to the brilliant divine Consciousness of Brahman and also to the cosmic Christ. The King rules over
2. a male hypostasis Netzah (also called Jahve Sabaoth) and a female Hod (also called Elohim Sabaoth) who in turn produce
3. Yesod (also called El Chai), corresponding to Re as Osiris, and the female world of matter Malkuth (also called Shekinah) corresponding to Isis.

The final effect of this cosmic evolution which is the creation of the sun is not elaborated upon in the Kabbalah. However, we note that the Kabbalistic conception of Jahve is indeed loftier than the biblical one where Jahve is considered as the creator of the earthly Adam and god of only the Jewish tribes.

Unfortunately, Judaism has by and large subordinated the Kabbalistic exegeses to the literal study of the Torah and Talmud, which are mundane records of early Jewish political and social life devoid of any spiritual focus. The lack of any strong development of the Kabbalah as a mainstream Jewish cult indeed confirms the foreign origins of the system and its quasi-polytheistic cosmogonical model has not succeeded in transforming the ethno-political obsession of the Hebrews which gave the revolutionary religion of Abraham its first and most typical form.

Christian origins

As regards the Christian cult, the fact that it too was derived from Indo-European cosmogonical notions, and dates back, like the Kabbalah, to the time of the Babylonian exile, is clear from the contemporary Gnostic cosmological descriptions of the Christ as the cosmic macro-anthropomorphic manifestation of the Idea of God,[50] as well as in the extraordinary story of the death and resurrection of the Christ himself, since this can only be a historicisation of the cosmic drama of the descent of the solar force (Osiris) into the underworld and its later emergence as the sun (Horus the Younger) of our solar system. Another proof of the mythological basis of the Christ story is the employment of a “carpenter” as the father of Jesus, since this figure corresponds exactly to the formative force Tvashtr (Tuisto among the Germans) of the cosmic Man, Purusha, for the Indo-Iranian name Tvoreshtar also signifies a carpenter. It is Tvashtr who forms the seed of the light of the universe which appears as Brahman, whereas the impregnation of the material substrate of the cosmos is undertaken by the breath of the Purusha, represented as the wind-deity Vāyu (Ir.Wāta/Germ.Wotan), who corresponds to the Christian Holy Spirit. As we know, at the Council of Ephesus of 431 A.D., the Virgin Mary too was confirmed as the mother not of a human son but, rather, of God (that is, of the Cosmic Christ), while the Lateran Council of 469 clarified that Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

The translation of this cosmological myth of Jesus, which is the same as that of Helios/Brahman, into a historical tale set in Roman times in Judaea is perhaps the work of a certain group of Jews called the Essenes who later called themselves Evangelists and, more particularly, of Paul, who wished to make the Christian cult an international Jewish one by adding a final chapter to the Jewish history of the Old Testament. The Essenes are described by Josephus (1st c. A.D.) as being a philosophical group that believed in the immortality of souls, a doctrine not adhered to by Jews in general and who were ruled by severe ideals of simple and righteous communal living.[51] The Essenes, according to the bishop Epiphanius of Salamis (4th c. A.D.),[52] included the Nazarenes whose practices retained many of the old Jewish ones except that they did not believe that the Laws that Moses received were those followed by the Jews.[53]

The originators of the Christian religion were probably also related to the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls[54] who maintained a belief in a “Teacher of Righteousness” dated to the second century B.C. who would guide the erring Jews in “the hidden things in which Israel had gone astray”.[55] Evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls may have been the work of the Essenes is particularly provided in the repeated references in these scrolls to the Jews as “the breakers of the Covenant”.

As for the contribution of the Jew Saul of Tarsus, who converted to Christianity and called himself Paul, it must be noted that he was, contrary to common belief, not more Judaic than his counterpart Peter but less. For, whereas the latter insisted on obedience to the Mosaic Law, Paul advocated a degree of freedom from it.[56] This is evident in the dispute regarding circumcision in Acts 15, wherein Peter maintained the need for adherence to this custom whereas Paul argued against it. The early Christian thinker, Marcion of Sinope (2nd c. A.D.),[57] too pointed out that the reference to false apostles in Galatians was indeed directed to Peter, James and John, the so-called “Pillars of the Church”. Irenaeus and Tertullian however argued against Marcionism’s elevation of Paul and stated that Peter and Paul were equals among the apostles.

Marcion himself manifested a deep-seated aversion to the materialistic and nationalistic characteristics of Judaism. He was revolted by the Hebraic conception of Yahwe as a tribal god who sanctions all manner of crimes to his chosen Israelites and so he, like the Gnostics, differentiated the supreme deity (whom he identified with the Heavenly Father of Christianity) from a demiurge identified with Yahwe. The sins of the mankind created by Yahwe had to be expiated by the sacrifice of the Incarnate God, Christ, in order that all men may inherit eternal Life. Unfortunately, Marcion was excommunicated by the Petrine Roman Church, which reinforced its Judaic connections in forming an orthodox “Catholic” (universal) Church.

Christian Ritual

Although the Jews rejected the cosmological religions of Mesopotamia, there is continuing evidence of their regular performance of sacrificial rituals (korban) using animal victims, especially in the Temple at Jerusalem. The sacrifice of Christ celebrated in the Christian mass is indeed the culmination of this long tradition since it restores to the Jewish sacrifices the cosmological significance that they had lacked. That the Christian eucharist (thanksgiving) ceremony or ‘mass'[58] is actually a sacrificial ritual is made clear by the appellation employed for it by the East Syriac and West Syriac Churches. “qurbana”or “qurbono”, which is the equivalent of the Jewish “korban”. The Christian sacrifice is derived from the Paschal sacrifice of the Hebrews which was first performed on the night of the exodus from Egypt. For it was the blood of the sacrificed lamb sprinkled on the door-posts of the Israelites in Egypt that allowed the Lord to pass over these houses while conducting His massacre of the first-born of the Egyptians. However, the substitution of Christ for the sacrificial lamb constitutes a revolution against the Jewish religion since, by proclaiming Christ as the Messiah who gave his life for the world, it makes the Christians the redeemed Jews while the Jahvist Jews continue unredeemed in their constant expectation of a saviour. This is one reason why the Christian liturgy often uses passages from the Hebrew Bible – such as the Sanctus borrowed from Isaiah 6:3 – without sensing any contradiction.

The mass was undoubtedly the principal sacrament among the early Christians. The resurrection of Christ celebrated in the Mass is indeed a revival of the heavenly nature of the first Adam (Purusha) whose “fall”, as we have seen, was occasioned by his intimacy with Earth. Thus, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians 15:21-22 we read: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The epistle goes on to explain the cosmic drama at greater length but simplifying the original Adam into an “earthly” entity on account of his association with Earth:

44 … There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

The earliest Christian rite that is attested is that of the St. James Liturgy,[59] which was used originally in Jerusalem, perhaps in the Greek language, and then transferred to the patriarchate of Antioch when it was translated into Syriac. An important section of this rite is that where the priest, making the sign of the cross on the gifts, says:

Holy art Thou, King of eternity, and Lord and giver of all holiness; holy also Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom Thou hast made all things; holy also Thy Holy Spirit, which searches all things, even Thy deep things, O God: holy art Thou, almighty, all-powerful, good, dread, merciful, most compassionate to Thy creatures; who didst make man from earth after Thine own image and likeness;[60] who didst give him the joy of paradise;

for this is a reference to the creation of Adam/the Purusha, who is also, as we have seen, formed of a union of the spiritual substance of “Heaven” with the material substance of “Earth”. The “fall” of Adam is a reference to the castration of the Purusha effected by Chronos on account of his aversion to his father’s lascivious union with Earth. The priest then continues:

and when he transgressed Thy commandment, and fell away, didst not disregard nor desert him, O Good One, but didst chasten him as a merciful father, call him by the law, instruct him by the prophets; and afterwards didst send forth Thine only-begotten Son Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, into the world, that He by His coming might renew and restore Thy image;

This is a description of the production of the supreme Light of Consciousness that is Brahman, who is identifiable with the Cosmic Christ and the Kabbalistic Tiphereth.

We know from our reconstructed scheme of the Indo-European cosmogony that Brahman is indeed felled by the continuing stormy aspect of Chronos in the manifest cosmos called Zeus/Ganesha. The result of this assault is the descent of the Heavenly Light to the underworld, which is discernible in the first part of the following sentence in the Christian rite:

Who, having descended from heaven, and become flesh [Yesod/Osiris] of the Holy Spirit and Virgin Godmother Mary [Malkuth/Isis] …

The ordeal of Osiris/Dionysus in the underworld that we have observed in the pagan myths is then made to correspond to the earthly life and passion of Christ:

and having sojourned among men, fulfilled the dispensation for the salvation of our race; and being about to endure His voluntary and life-giving death by the cross, He the sinless for us the sinners, in the night in which He was betrayed, nay, rather delivered Himself up for the life and salvation of the world.

The ordeal represented in the Christian rite as an earthly historical one meant to improve humanity is thus the ordeal that the heavenly light undergoes in order to purify itself of its material dross and emerge in the atmospheric space between the Earth and Heaven of our own universe as the sun. However the reference to the “power of the precious and life-giving cross” in this liturgy[61] brings to mind the import of the cross as an Indo-European phallic symbol. In Germanic mythology too the tree serves as the locus of the great self-sacrifice of the god Odin/Wotan/Wata to himself, which is a repetition, as it were, of the original killing of Ymir, the First Man/Purusha:[62]

I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself.[63]

It is as a result of this sacrifice – akin to the ordeals of Osiris, Marduk, Tammuz and Christ – that Odin achieves knowledge of the magical runes.

An even more precise understanding of the crucifixion and the of the significance of the cross itself emerges in one of the early Syriac hymns, the Haw Nurone hymn,[64] which demonstrates the significance of the Christian sacrifice in considerable detail. The Haw Nurone hymn first declares that the Christian altar is fashioned like the chariot of the cherubim. And is surrounded by multitudes of the heavenly hosts. On this altar is laid the Body of God’s Son and Adam’s children in their hands administer It. Instead of a man clad in silk, stands the (priest), and distributes alms among the needy. If envy existed among the angels the cherubim would envy human beings.

The Christian altar therefore has the same significance as the altar constructed by the brāhmans in the Agnicayana ritual which seeks to restore the mutilated Purusha. The reference to the shape of the altar as resembling “the chariot of the cherubim” should be glossed by the instructions given to Solomon by his father David in 1 Chron. 28:18:

And, for the altar of incense, refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

The Ark of the Covenant itself is the one that preserves the stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments (Exod.25:10ff). However, in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches,[65] Mary is referred to as the “Ark” in that she bore Christ, just as the original Jewish ark bore the Mosaic Law. So the reference in the Christian hymn to the “chariots of the cherubim” and the Ark here suggests that the Christian sacrifice, unlike the Jewish ones, is aimed at producing not the Law of the Old Testament but the Christian solar god who is also the god of Love, since his original form as the Cosmic Christ is the same as that of the Indo-European Brahman/Helios, who is regularly identified with Eros.[66]

More interestingly, the hymn now directly refers to the cross as the “Tree”, which is of course the “tree” or “axis” of the universe that is now being formed from the restored phallus of the Purusha/Adam so that the sun which it bears within it may emerge at the top:

Where Zion set up the Cross to crucify the Son, there grew up the Tree which gave birth to the Lamb.

The final value of the manifestation of Christ therefore – after his original appearance as the cosmic Light (Tiphereth/Brahman), and then as a suffering victim in the underworld (represented by the early Christians as the passion of the “human” Christ at the hands of the Hebrews and Romans) – is as the “resurrected” sun of our universe. The reference to the “Lamb” in this passage is to the Old Testament sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham, which is considered by the Christians as a prototype of the sacrifice of the Christ:

Where the nails were firmly driven in the Son’s hands, there Isaac’s hands were bound for an offering. Welcome priest who carries his Lord’s Mysteries, and with thy right hand, life is given to mankind.

The solar nature of the resurrected Lamb of Christianity may itself be observed in the occasional Christian use of the term “sun of righteousness”[67] for Christ.[68]

The climactic point of the Christian sacrifice is the magical transformation of the bread and wine of the Holy Communion into the body and blood of Christ. Already in the second century A.D. St. Irenaeus of Lyons made it clear that “the bread which is produced from the earth is no longer common bread once it has received the invocation of God; it is then the Eucharist consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly.”[69] This is due to the inspiration of the Word of God, “When the … cup and the man-made bread receive the Word of God, they become the Eucharist of the blood and body of Christ”.[70] The vivifying principle of the Word of God is the Holy Spirit, as Clement of Alexandria (ca.150-215) declared: “To drink of the blood of Jesus is to partake in the Lord’s immortality for the Spirit is the vital principle of the World, as blood is of flesh”.[71]

This participation in the Christian mass endows an individual with immortality or eternal life, as St. Irenaeus continues to explain: “So also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible but have the hope of the resurrection to eternity”.[72] This is of course an exegesis of the Gospels, for, as Jesus declares in John 6:54, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day”. Jesus particularly contrasts the nourishment he offers with the manna that the Hebrews were said to have received from their God while they travelled in the desert (Exod 16): “This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever”. This gift of immortality is stressed by the early Christian father St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107 A.D.) who stated that the sacrament is “the medicine of immortality and the antidote to prevent us from dying”.[73]

Indeed, the mass is meant to even physically transform the individual who participates in it. As the fourth century bishop St. Cyril of Jerusalem declared in his Mystagogical Lectures, after receiving the wine during the Communion, the participant should: “while the moisture is still upon [his] lips, touch it with [his] hands and bless [his] eyes and forehead and the other organs of sense.”[74] And he further exhorts his reader: “And make your face shine so that, having it unveiled with a pure conscience, you may, like a mirror, reflect the glory of the Lord and proceed from glory to glory, in Jesus our Lord.”[75] This illumination may have something to do with the common Levantine practice of ritual purification with water and the contemporary Christian use of “holy water” to bless supplicants, but it also resembles practices in Tantric Hinduism (derived from Yogic and Vedic rituals) where the adept, after elaborate yogic purification of his bodily elements, undertakes a divinisation of his body through the utterance of magical mantras at the same time as he touches various parts of his body.[76]

We see from this comparison of the religious rituals of the Āryans and the early Christians that, in spite of the apparent geographical and cultural differences between the religions of the eastern Indo-Āryans and the middle-eastern Christians, both of them are indeed informed by the same cosmological myth of the “fall” of the Ideal Man, his descent into the underworld (earth) and his “resurrection” into the heavens as the sun. The primacy of the mass as a Christian sacrament corresponds to that of the various solar sacrificial rituals of the brāhmanical religion. On the other hand, despite ancient coincidences with Jewish Kabbalistic lore, the dimly developed cosmological aspect of the symbolism of the Kabbala and the relative insignificance of Kabbala itself in relation to Jahvist Judaism reveal the incompatibility of Christianity with any form of Judaism, which is rather considered by the former as a perverse rejection of the fulfilment of the Scriptures. Indeed, while Judaism and, to a certain extent, Islam may be considered Abrahamic religions “in Reinkultur”, Christianity has more complex origins than facile references to “Judeo-Christianity” might suggest. And it is clear also that it was not just the spread of Christianity among the Greeks of southern Europe or the Germanic tribes of the Holy Roman Empire that endowed it with certain “pagan” characteristics but, rather, Christianity as a “mystery” religion possessed from its very inception an unmistakably Indo-European cosmological basis.

Also by Alexander Jacob – The Grail: Two Studies


[1]The list of scholars who sought to explain Christianity as part of an earlier mythology perhaps begins with Charles Dupuis’ Origine des tous les cultes, ou la réligion universelle, 1795.

[2]See A. Jacob, Ātman, Hildesheim: Georg Olms Velag, 2005, and Brahman , Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2012.

[3]See A. Jacob, Ātman, p.199f.

[4]See The Interpreter’s Bible, I:560.

[5]For the identification of Dravidic with Druidic see A. Jacob, Brahman, pp.134ff.

[6]See Bhāgavata Purāna VIII,24.

[7]For the Hurrians, see E. Speiser, Mesopotamian Origins (1930), A. Ungnad, Subartu (1936), I. Gelb, Hurrians and Subarians (1944), G. Wilhelm, The Hurrians (1989).

[8]Although the hypothetical Nostratic race may include other races as well that were influenced by the primordial proto-Dravidian/Druidic/Hurrian tradition, I focus mostly on the three branches of the Noachidian family.

[9]The Scythians form an integral part of the Indo-Iranian group, but their spiritual tradition seems to have been less developed (see A. Jacob, Ātman, p.41f).

[10]See Herodotus, Histories, I,132.

[11]See F.E. Pargiter, Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London: Milford, 1922, p.309. In the Mbh I, 75, Pururavas is said to have brought the three kinds of sacrificial fire from the Gandharvas.

[12]The three fires represent the “underworld” of Earth, Heaven, and the “Mid-region” of the stars of our universe (see below p. ).

[13]See Rāmāyana VII,103,21ff.

[14]W. Bernard suggested that the human remains from Period I of Gandhara bore resemblances to those of Bronze Age and early Iron Age crania of 2500 B.C. – A.D. 500 from the Caucasus and Volga region as well as from Tepe Hissar in Iran (see K.A.R. Kennedy, “Have Aryans been identified in the preshistoric skeletal record from South Asia?” in G. Erdosy, (ed.) The Indo-Aryans of ancient South Asia, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995, p.49).

[15]See A. Parpola, “The Problem of the Aryans and the Soma” in G. Erdosy , op.cit., p.356.

[16]Ibid., p.366.

[17]Ibid., p.365.

[18]Ibid., p.262.

[19]See E.Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate, Oxford: OUP, 2001, p.130.

[20]See J.P. Mallory and V.H. Mair, The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the mystery of the earliest peoples from the West, London: Thames and Hudson, 2008, p.262.

[21]Plutarch informs us that “Numa is said to have built the temple of Vesta in circular form as protection for the inextinguishable fire, copying not the fire of the earth as being Vesta, but of the whole universe, as centre of which the Pythagoreans believe fire to be established, and this they call Hestia and the monad” (Numa, II).

[22]See P. Kretschmer, Kuhns Zeitschrift 55, p.80; cf. J. Gonda, Religionen Indiens I: Veda und älterer Hinduismus, Stuttgart, 1960, p.107.

[23]RA 62-52,17-8 (see A. Livingstone, Mystical and mythological explanatory texts of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986, p.74).

[24]See A. Jacob, Ātman, Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2005, p.185.

[25]For a detailed study of this cosmogony see A. Jacob, op.cit.

[26]For a detailed study of the ancient Indo-European rituals, see A. Jacob, Brahman.

[27]See J. Gonda, Prajāpati’s rise to higher rank, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1986, p.16f.

[28]See A. Jacob, Brahman, Ch.I.

[29]K. Rönnow, (“Zur Erklärung des Pravargya”) pointed to the significant evidence of human sacrifice among the Germans, Celts, Scythians and Thracians and suggested that it must have been practised even by the Greeks and Indians, in spite of the dearth of such evidence among them (see B. Lincoln, Myth, Cosmos and Society, p.172).

[30]J.C. Heesterman, The broken world of sacrifice: An Essay on ancient Indian Ritual, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, p.173.

[31]This is reflected even in the Hebrew Paschal sacrifice (see below), where the lamb necessarily has to be a male one.

[32]See Hesiod, Theogony, I, 170ff.

[33]See ‘Volsa pattr’ in Óláfs saga helga.

[34]See J. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, p.330.

[35]See A. Jacob, Brahman, p.211f.

[36]The Agnicayana rituals are described in SB, Books VI-X (cf. also KYV V-VI). They are also detailed in the Shulba Sutras.

[37]For a detailed description of the Indo-European cosmology underlying the rituals see A. Jacob, Ātman and Brahman.

[38]See M. Biardeau, Le sacrifice dans l’Inde ancienne, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1976, p.18.

[39]See H.W. Tull, The Vedic Origins of Karma, Albany: SUNY Press, 1989, p.87f.

[40]See H.T. Bakker, “Human sacrifice (Purushamedha), construction sacrifice and the origin of the idea of the ‘man of the homestead (Vāstupurusha)” in H.N. Bremmer (ed.) The strange world of human sacrifice, Leuven: Peeters, 2007, p.183.

[41]H.J. Tull, op. cit., p.93.

[42]See A. Michaels, Hinduism past and present, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004, p.249.

[43]We see that although there is very little idolatry among the ancient Āryans, the geometric form of the Vedic altar nevertheless possesses a palpable anthropomorphic quality that is manifest more fully in the worship of sacred idols among the Hamites – the Egyptians, Sumerians and later Indians (see A. Jacob, Brahman, ).

[44]See H.W. Tull, op.cit., p.95f. In SB X,2,1 the contraction and expansion of the wings of the sun-bird are depicted as being incorporated into the construction of the fire-altar.

[45]See H.W. Tull, op.cit. p.101; cf. SB X,1,4,1.

[46]See J. Bottero, Le problème des habiru, Paris, 1954; cf. S. Smith, Early History of Assyria, London: Chatto and Windus, 1928, p.192. The equation of “habiru” with “Hebrew” is confirmed by Philo the Jew’s explanation of the latter term as “migrant” (De Migratione Abrahami, 20).

[47]The Abrahamic Hebrewswere probably forced to leave Mesopotamia, as Josephus’ further statement suggests: “For which doctrines, when the Chaldeans, and other people of Mesopotamia, raised a tumult against him, he thought fit to leave that country; and at the command and by the assistance of God, he came and lived in the land of Canaan. And when he was there settled, he built an altar, and performed a sacrifice to God.” Cf. Philo the Jew’s De mutatione nominum, 72-6.

[48]E. Renan, Histoire Générale et Système Comparé des Langues Sémitiques, Paris: Levy, 1863, p.432.

[49]The Sepher Yetzirah dates from around the 2nd century A.D. and contains Babylonian, Egyptian and Hellenic cosmogonic notions. The Zohar was first published in 13th century Spain by Moses de Leon, who attributed the work to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of the 2nd c. A.D. However, much of it may date back to the time of the Babylonian Talmud.

[50]A philosophical explanation of the Gnosic Adamas, the First Man, and the Son of Man is provided by the second century document of the Gnostic Naassenes that is cited by Hippolytus of Rome (170-235) in his Philosophumena.

[51]See Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Bk.II, Ch.8.

[52]See Epiphanius, Panarion, I, 19.

[53]Some of whom migrated to India along with St. Thomas to found the Syriac Orthodox Church of Malabar, whose members are to this day called “Nasrani” or Nazarenes.

[54]Pliny the Elder (Historia Naturalis V, 17) refers to the Essenes as living a monastic life along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, close to where the Scrolls were discovered.

[55]See the Cairo Damascus Document, 3, 12-15.

[56]This view of the conflict between Peter and Paul was first presented by Ferdinand Baur (1792-1860) of the Tübingen School of theology in his Kritische Untersuchungen über die kanonischen Evangelien, ihr Verhältniss zu einander, ihren Charakter und Ursprung (1847). For Paul’s rejection of the Jewish Law see James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: A Study of the Origins of Antisemitism, N.Y.: Meridian, 1964, pp.53ff.

[57]Most of Marcion’s doctrines are to be gleaned from Tertullian’s tract Adversus Marcionem, which.rejects the dualism of Marcion’s in favour of a strict monotheism.

[58]The term ‘mass’ is derived from the conclusion of the Latin liturgy which states “Ite, missa est” (go, this is the dismissal).

[59]James is said to have been a “brother” of Christ, though it is not clear if this is a familial or fraternal appellation.

[60]My italics.

[61]“Exalt the horn of Christians by the power of the precious and life-giving Cross”.

[62]See, for instance, ‘Vafþrúðnismál’ in the Poetic Edda.

[63]‘Havamal’, 138.

[64]See the Syrian Orthodox hymns recorded at with translation at

[65]See, for instance, the 16th century Litany of Loreto, where Mary is addressed as the “Ark of the Covenant”.

[66]See A. Jacob, Brahman, pp.7,34.

[67]This term is taken from the last OT book of Malachi 4:2: “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in its wings”.

[68]See for instance the blessing, “Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from before your path” used in certain Anglican Prayer Books.

[69]St. Irenaeus of Lyons, ‘Against Heresies’, 4.17.5-4.18.6, quoted in Mike Aquilina, The Mass of the early Christians (2007), p.98.

[70]’Against Heresies’, 5.2.2, in Aquilina, op.cit., p.98.

[71]Clement of Alexandria, ‘The Teacher’, 2.2, quoted in Aquilina, op.cit., p.135.

[72]St. Irenaeus of Lyons, ‘Against Heresies’, 4.17.5-4.18.6.

[73]St. Ignatius of Lyons, ‘Ephesians’ 20, in Aquilina, op.cit., p.72.

[74]St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Lectures, 5, quoted in Aquilina, op.cit., p.202.

[75] Ibid., 4, quoted in Aquilina, op.cit., p.195. Cf. also Rom 12:1: “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

[76]See A. Jacob, Brahman, p.226.

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