Mythos Christos Chapter 1 Sneak Peek

    > Posted - 8-15-2015

Floorboards creaked as Lex Thomasson approached the front of the classroom. Picking up a nub of chalk, he scrawled two words on the slate. He then turned to face his fellow students, most of whom looked bored, distracted, and uncomfortable. Some fanned themselves with notebooks. Though the windows were open, the air in the room was humid and stagnant. But thunder, distant and delicate, murmured rumors of a coming storm, promising to break the fever and end the unseasonable heat wave.

In stark contrast to the students, the professor appeared riveted. He leaned against the window sill, his aged, moist eyes glistening with keen interest. The Oxford don once declared that Lex never failed to find some linguistic pearl he’d never heard of, a rarity for the old professor of ancient languages. He actually rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

Lex felt prepared for his presentation—a literary analysis of two words with similar meanings but from different languages, not an unusual assignment for a master’s level philology course. Yet only now, as he stood facing a group of his peers, did he wonder if he should have chosen a less controversial topic. At least, he thought, it might rouse some of them from their finals week stupor.

“For ancient Greek and Roman story writers,” Lex began, adjusting his glasses and raking nervous fingers through unruly brown hair, “it was not an uncommon practice to draw from earlier myths, legends, and epics as models for their own sagas. Scenes from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey were probably the most common source material for emulation. We’re not talking about outright plagiarism, mind you. Rather, emulation was more of an imitation with alteration to better align with cultural, political, or religious sensibilities of the later writer’s target audience—a transvaluation, in other words, which reflected the shifting values of the times.

“The two words I’ve chosen are actually character names. An interpretation of their linguistic roots reveals they share a similar meaning. Proculus in archaic Latin means literally ‘to proclaim,’ while its Greek parallel, Cleopas, can be defined as ‘to tell all.’ As I’ll demonstrate, it’s not just a happy coincidence the two characters had names with the same definition. Instead, one came from a scene which deliberately emulated a parallel scene from a previous legend.”

Lex studied the faces of his captive audience, hoping he hadn’t lost anyone.

He continued, “According to legend, Rome’s king and namesake, Romulus, was the son of the god Mars and the Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia. When he is unjustly murdered by the first Roman Senate, his corpse vanishes from the tomb and he subsequently appears to his loyal follower Proculus on the road from Alba Longa to Rome. The demigod orders Proculus to announce a message to his fellow Romans—if they are virtuous, they’ll conquer the world.

“Likewise in the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus is killed and his corpse vanishes, he appears to Cleopas on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Jesus, too, orders his follower to proclaim his words.”

A hand shot up, its owner a young man, bearded and unsmiling.

“You’d have us believe,” he challenged, “the Lord’s famous visitation on the road to Emmaus was a mere literary lift from a Romulus tale? As in…Romulus and Remus, the boys raised by a she-wolf?”

Titters of laughter followed.

“The same,” said Lex, his anxiety rising. “I’m merely presenting the commonalities between two ancient literary pieces, the definitions of the names being one example.”

The bearded student rose and turned to the professor. “If I may?”

A few of the students groaned.

With a pained expression the professor waved him on. “Briefly, Mr. Matthews, this is a presentation, not a debate.”

Matthews turned back to Lex. “As a council member of the Campus Crusaders for Christ, I must say I’m a bit dismayed at the misguided nature of your thesis. I mean, how do we know the Romulus legend wasn’t modeled on Luke’s account? That seems to me a more likely scenario.”

Lex shook his head. “We know from the Roman writer Livy, who wrote decades before Jesus was purportedly born, that the death and resurrection of Romulus was celebrated in Rome with an annual public passion play. The myth was therefore pre-Christian.” “Perhaps,” Matthews conceded with a wave of his hand, as though the point was not important anyway, “but the differences between the two accounts outweigh the similarities, which are no doubt coincidental.”

“Of course there are major differences,” said Lex. “In the Gospels Jesus had no twin brother and he wasn’t brought up with wolves. As I said, the story wasn’t plagiarized, it was emulated—imitated but with changes to appeal to a certain sect of Jews. Regardless, the similarities are the subject of my talk, and they’re too numerous to be coincidental. The scenes appear to be parallel myths, the latter intentionally lifted from the former.”

Matthews wouldn’t let the matter drop. He wagged his index finger back and forth. “Your comparisons are false, or at least insignificant and tangential. I’ve heard it referred to as parallelomania.”

“Actually,” countered Lex, “an example of parallelomania would be correlating, say, the number of letters in the names Lincoln and Kennedy—details which are unimportant and acausal. But what I’m discussing is far more significant and has a direct causal link.

“Let’s look at the parallels: Both Romulus and Jesus are born of virgins and are hailed as ‘God,’ ‘Son of God,’ and ‘King.’ Both incarnated in the flesh to establish kingdoms and are killed by a conspiracy of ruling powers. Both of their deaths are accompanied by a supernatural darkness, and both corpses later vanish. Both appear on the road around the break of dawn to close followers whose names literally mean ‘to proclaim.’ Romulus’ ethereal body gleams, befitting his glorious message of empire. Jesus materializes in humble disguise, befitting his message of humility—that virtuous believers will join the spiritual kingdom.”

Lex addressed the class as a whole, who’d been observing the dispute with rapt attention. “You’ll each have to weigh the evidence and make up your own mind as to which is the more likely scenario: emulation or coincidence.”

Matthews then made some remark about faith taking precedence over evidence, but it was drowned out by the class’ unexpectedly raucous applause.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Mythos Christos I hope to give you more soon!