WHAT HAPPENED TO LOVE
This series of essays result from my quest for method over the course of many years. The search led me on a convoluted journey of discovery that exposed within the Apocalypse even more secrets than James Pryse had revealed.
According to Bible Gateway in the King James Version of New Testament the words "love", "loved" and "beloved" occur 156, 38 and 62 times each respectively. The Gospel of the writer John accounts for 19 occurrences of the word "love" and 19 occurrences of the word "loved". His three epistles account for 28 occurrences of the word "love", 3 occurrences of the word "loved" and 8 occurrences of the word "beloved". Yet in the Apocalypse, which is also attributed to John, the word "love" appears only 2 times, the word "loved" 3 times and "beloved" once.
Clearly, the Apocalypse stands out by its shear bulk (more than 12,000 words) and relative scarcity of the use of the word "love", "loved" and "beloved" from the other writings attributed to John. This is so whether you make the comparison in terms of absolute word count or relative frequency of usage. I wondered why. Why were the concepts and implications of love clearly important and significant in the Gospel and Epistles of John and apparently so remarkably insignificant in the Apocalypse?
Three possibilities presented themselves as the potential answer to this question. First: the author of the Apocalypse was not the same John of the Gospel and Epistles. Second: the message of the Apocalypse differed from that of the Gospel and Epistles of John to such a marked degree that these words were not essential to it. Third: the word "love" and others related to it actually did occur in the Apocalypse but somehow disguised, or encoded within other terms. In light of Pryse's discoveries, this third possibility intrigued me.
As for the first possibility, tradition affirms the author is the same. Although there has not always been agreement. As early as the 2nd century there was wide spread disagreement, especially regarding authorship of the Apocalypse. Some biblical scholars argue that the writings of John, as we now have them, are not the literary production of one man, but rather a group of writers, who may or even may not have known one another or even lived contemporaneously. Accordingly, this editorial group may have taken as their central inspiration some singular and earlier source, or not. They may have composed the writings attributed to John over a period of some twenty-five to fifty years or more, an era spanning the late 1st century to the mid-2nd century. If this hypothesis is correct, it would account for the many stylistic differences between the three groups of writings attributed to John.
As I examine to some extent in this essay, there is evidence within the Apocalypse itself to suggest that it, at least, is indeed the production of more than one individual. That it is based upon earlier source material, in addition to the sources claimed by James Pryse. The evidence that I follow may have consisted of written and oral components from which the authors of the Apocalypse selected, edited and embellished. This earlier source is probably earlier than anything heretofore suggested by conventional scholars or even Pryse. According to Pryse material that may be either the source I refer to or based on it was probably current all during the period that the Mystery Schools were influential in ancient Greece. This time period commenced as early as the eighth or ninth centuries B.C. The material certainly predates the Christian era by many centuries. It may predate the Vedas and in fact be the source and inspiration for them. Although I touch upon this fascinating matter here in the attempt to document its relevance to the hidden meanings of the Apocalypse and tantra, its full development is beyond the scope of this volume.
Although the jury is still out on the true authorship of the Apocalypse, it is apparent that it has some relationship to the other New Testament writings attributed to John. Hence, on the face of it, there is no apparent reason to assume otherwise.
The second possible answer to explaining why there existed a great discrepancy in the use of the word love in the Apocalypse compared to the other writings of John requires comment. It also requires a brief comparison of what we might call the orthodox and esoteric interpretations of Christian doctrine.
Although the simple literal and orthodox interpretation of Christianity differs in various fundamental ways from the esoteric interpretation, in certain respects the two also correspond. As detailed by Pryse, they differ primarily in their understanding of and methods of attaining "salvation," which for both schools of thought essentially entails the permanent liberation from earthly, carnal existence.
For the orthodox, method centers on God and divine saving grace. According to orthodoxy the individual has little input other than to surrender to the work of God, which generally entails adherence to various ritual practices, moral precepts and actions. The specifics of these rules for behaviour and thought vary from sect to sect, but all share a basic core belief system grounded in a literal and historic interpretation of Christian scriptures.
For the Christian esotericist, on the other hand, method involves the yogic physio-psychic and meditative efforts of the individual. For the esotericist, method is founded on the belief that the literal words of scripture are simply symbols encoding secret esoteric instructions. The various esoteric systems, from the first century Gnostics to the present day, though varying from one another in specifics, all adhere to mystical or symbolic interpretations of scriptures and teach or advocate various meditative and physio-psychic practices.
In Christian orthodoxy, love plays a significant role throughout. And many Christians behave in ways best described as motivated by love and benevolence to their fellow men. In fact, orthodox Christianity inculcates love as a fundamental principle.
The Gospel and Epistles of John exhibit and expound this core doctrine of love and compassion most thoroughly of all New Testament writings. The message is very simply that God is love and through the experience of love the individual comes to knowledge of God and ultimately to salvation. Whatever else Christians may claim to believe, and however much they may elaborate, complicate or trivialize their religious beliefs, this core of love remains.
In the esoteric interpretation of Christian doctrine proffered by James Pryse in the Apocalypse Unsealed and also The Restored New Testament the message of the Gospel according to John and the Apocalypse is essentially the same. It is simply presented in different formats. According to Pryse, the Gospel of John takes the form of historical romance, while the Apocalypse is a metaphysical textbook.
Also, as expounded by gnostic esotericism both ancient and modern, the gospel message and the Apocalypse coincide with each other. Extracts from both are used freely and interpreted consistently to support the several gnostic versions of Christian doctrine.
So, in spite of the various literary differences between the Apocalypse and the Gospel and Epistles of John, I found no apparent reason to discount the importance of love in the Apocalypse. From either the orthodox or the esoteric perspective there was no plausible reason to suspect that love played any less significant a part in the Apocalypse than it did in the other writings of John, where it fulfils so important a role.
So I came to a tentative conclusion. Whether or not the specific authors of the Gospel and Epistles of John and the Apocalypse were one and the same, or a group of like minded individuals, the overall message was probably the same or similar in all. In addition, I found no plausible reasons to presume that love played any less important role in the Apocalypse than the other Johannine writings. So, the logical deduction was love must appear in the Apocalypse encoded in secret terms.
In answering my first question about why there is such a discrepancy in the usage of the word "love" in the Apocalypse compared to the other writings of John, a new question arose. What were the author's motives for disguising the word and the concepts included in it? If indeed, as Pryse maintained, the author of the Apocalypse foresaw the eventual loss of the esoteric doctrine at the hands of the churchmen, certainly any teaching about "love", as manifest in the other writings, should have been preserved.
Did the author of the Apocalypse also foresee the loss of the doctrine of "love", whatever it meant in the gnostic context, resulting from the establishment of a church that would soon become more involved in political power than in metaphysical development? Indeed, there is mounting evidence to suggest the origin of exoteric Christianity as a political, theocratic party, in fact a faction of the first century Jewish Zealots. Did such beginnings require "love" to go into hiding? And if so, why?
One possible answer to the question why. The Gospels are simple allegories, that is, narrative stories presenting the ideas and principles of the grand human drama as the biography of Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy readily admits this, despite its emphasis on a literal reading and interpretation as historical fact. An esoteric meaning for "love" could be sanitized easily in such a genre.
On the other hand, the Apocalypse is a metaphysical treatise. The book is masked by symbolical and zodiacal terms and political and Zealot buzzwords to hide its true meaning. But like the Gospels, it simply and dramatically presents the ideas and principles of the human drama in metaphysical terms.
The accounts, therefore, of the Gospels and the Apocalypse must be similar on a fundamental level even if superficially they are dissimilar. In The Restored New Testament, James Pryse demonstrates conclusively the fundamental similarity of the Gospels and the Apocalypse. His work is both thorough and convincing.
But in Pryse's restoration of the New Testament, as in his thorough interpretation of the Apocalypse in the Apocalypse Unsealed, love in any terms remains conspicuous by its absence. In the metaphysical doctrine of yogic self conquest as elucidated by Pryse in both of these studies, there is no mention of love. Only self discipline and mental and physical mortification to an extreme degree are important.
According to the gnostic doctrine presented by Pryse, by turning away from the attachments of life, one finds a higher and worthier goal. This goal is the attainment of deathless existence in an ethereal form far removed eternally from the vicissitudes of carnal life. Love and interaction with the other sex apparently has no place here.
Yet, the Gospels and Epistles, do speak of love in strong terms that leave no doubt about its absolute and continuing necessity. Even in the corrupt state in which we now find the New Testament as whole, the very striking significance of love can not be reasonably denied, whatever its implications.
The word and ideas of "love" as it appears in the Gospels and Epistles allegorically typifies some metaphysical principle. In the Apocalypse the metaphysical principle corresponding to love was for some reason encoded in some other term or terms. This was the simple premise of my search. If it was correct then I knew that "love" must appear in the Apocalypse in its real form, not sanitized as it appeared elsewhere in the New Testament.
In fact, I was very suspicious of the absence of love in the esoteric interpretation of the Apocalypse and Christianity offered by James Pryse. I suspected that there was much more beneath the surface of the Apocalypse than that author realized. In spite of his thorough research, Pryse had either missed something inadvertently or purposely omitted it.
There was another possibility, of course. And that is simply that the author or authors of the Apocalypse intentionally suppressed all references to love in their source material, because it undermined their metaphysical bias. Given the very technical nature of the Apocalypse, the true meaning of love might become available to any who cared to read the book.
The Supreme Identity by Alan Watts inspired me to look deeper into the Apocalypse. The correspondences in terminology between Christian, Hindu and Buddhist doctrine discussed by Watts reinforced my suspicions that Pryse had missed something. I became convinced that even deeper secrets than those exposed by Pryse lay buried in the Apocalypse.[ Validating the Code ] ~ [ What Happened to Love ]
Comments, questions and suggestions are welcome. All submissions are moderated.
Most Recent Comments