I can set my calendar by it. With winter sliding into spring, someone surfaces with an attack upon Christianity. Last year it was our friends at The National Geographic Society who provided previously discovered Gnostic writings for us. This year the Discovery Channel provides the story.
In this year’s episode, the family tomb of Jesus has been discovered. Well not quite discovered as these ossuaries were found over fifteen years ago. Nevertheless, the Discovery Channel airs a story admittedly produced not by scholars, but by entertainers. Still, unsuspecting people are probably taken in by the story.
Something about these ossuaries looks odd to me. More than odd; its trail of symbols leads me to Athens, not Bethlehem.
Look at the ossuary of the person named Mary pictured at the top of this post. I know that people now suspect the name is actually Mary kai Martha, or Mary and Martha. One notices a fair amount of incised symbolism. In fact, almost all decoration is placed upon this particular ossuary. As a rule of thumb, people spend more time applying design to objects with more importance than to those of lowered esteem. This is just good art history. In general, the higher the value of an object the greater use of design to highlight its importance among peers.
One must come to the conclusion that this Mary must be a more important figure than the supposed Jesus, based upon the elaborate use of decoration and design. The Jesus ossuary is devoid of meaningful ornamentation, and this places it in relative obscurity among the others. This seems odd to me. Jesus would have been the central figure credited with creating this new religion, not Mary. In this family cluster the Mary figure was the central figure. This particular Jesus was just an ordinary person.
As I look more closely at the Mary ossuary, I notice symbols which seem very out of place. If these ossuaries do indeed represent the founding family of Christianity the symbols are seemingly out of place.
The most common Jewsih symbol of the 1st century was the menorrah candlestick. But along the center of the Mary ossuary are not Jewish or early Christian symbols, but two sets of strange,vertical circles, in sets of three. The central thing to note about these circles is that they all contain a point within them. The point in a circle is a classic Gnostic symbol. This is what decorates the Mary ossuary.
In the world of the mystical, drawing geometric symbols like the point in the circle into designs and placing them upon objects is considered sacred geometry. Sacred geometry is the practice of incorporating symbolic forms into art or places of interest with the understanding that such forms will attract, or focus, spiritual energy or powers toward the item. Some attempt to ward off evil such as Amish hex signs. Others such as the occult pentagram desire to draw power closer. A circle surrounding the pentragram contains the power, and one without sets it free. It’s all in how the symbols are drawn, according to those who believe.
The point in a circle motif that decorates the Mary ossuary is a symbol that predates Christianity. It is not linked to biblical symbolism, but to the mystical, and occult, practices of Pythagoras, who was from Greece. This particular symbol is also called a Monad. The Monad was used to symbolize a number of different things. It usually represents the First, or absolute beginning. It is a symbol that can refer to the sun deity, and often the Ra of Egypt in particular. The symbol has been used consistently from the time of Pythagoras to our era and examples can still be found in a number of secret societies. The Masons, for example, make use of the symbol in some rituals.
The larger set of symbols found on the Mary ossuary seem to have a similar pedigree. Flanking the sets of Monads, one finds two large symbols that appear to be circles with lines intersecting like the spokes of a wheel. These two symbols appear to be Pythagorean as well, as they are exact representations of what is called the Decad.
The Decad is a symbol created by Pythagoras to express the association between heaven and earth. It also represents more sacred geometry to the Pythagorean mystic.
A third mysterious symbol is found above the door to the crypt. The authors of the Jesus Tomb seem perplexed about the meaning, and tend to lump the chevron and the circle together as one. By making this simple error, one would certainly be at a loss to understand the symbolism as it does not exist anywhere in any culture. However, the circle standing by itself is perfectly consistent with the other symbols. The circle is also a Pythagorian emblem of sacred geometry and describes the unending nature of eternity. In its full form, it is a serpent eating its own tail. Called Ouroboros, it is also used, as the others, in esoteric Gnosticism. The chevron may merely be an architectural devise to highlight and protect the circle motif.
Placing these three sets of symbols in context, one asks if they do have meaning or are merely decoration? This has a simple answer. Do the symbols in a Pythagorean context make actual sense for an ossuary? It seems obvious that an ossuary carrying a symbol of a singular deity, the point in a circle, as well as a symbol uniting heaven and earth, the Decad, is indeed appropriate for a burial. It makes sense to put an emblem of eternity outside a crypt. But what are these Pythagorean symbols doing on the first family of Christianity, or even good Jews for that matter?
This is where the trail gets interesting. These ossuaries are mysteriously devoid of anything related to early Christianity or even Judaism for that matter. Already in the later years of the first century one begins to find the formation of early symbolism being created by Christians. These symbols revolve around the anchor, the lamb, a figure holding a lamb, and eventually a fish. These can be more fully viewed by a cursory study of early catacomb art in Rome.
Is it not odd that the nucleus of this first family would forgo the natural formation of distinguishing symbolism and adopt the sacred geometry of a system considered pagan by early Jewish thought? Jesus spent his time refuting the pagan views of Pythagoras. It seems bizarre and incredulous that the early church would then link this family in death to this occult school of thought. It is beyond imagination that they would highlight the Mary figure and reduce the Jesus figure to relative obscurity.
More likely, these ossuaries represent a Jewish family cluster that had adopted a Pythagorean and Gnostic world-view. This was all too common in a syncretistic and Hellenistic society. They chose to highlight their tombs with pagan symbols representing their esoteric philosophy, rather than use Jewish symbolic form. It is very simple, indeed.
As Amos Kloner, the archeologist who led the excavation in the 1980’s stated, “their movie is not serious.”