Treading the Winepress
Yeshua and Dionysius

These pages are about the relationship between Yeshua and Dionysus and how the relationshipe between them holds a key to understanding the eucharist, the miracles, his strange relationship with the women and his status as the True Vine.

Fig 12.1: Christ squeezed in the wine-press distributing his blood to the faithful 15th century
15th cent German manuscript (Jones 7)

12.1 Prologue:

Noah is the Hebrew Dionysian ancestor of the great flood, who suffered the fate of castration at the hands of his son of Canaan: Gen 9:20 "And Noah began to be an husbandman and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, . And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him."

Jesus, who claimed to be the vine itself, suffered a simlar fate at the hands of the Idumean Herod: John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman." Luke 23:11 "And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate."

The desert in which John the Baptist preached and baptised lay on the border with Edom, the Nabataean kingdom, devoted husbandmen, whose god Duchares the "Lord of the Winepress" of Isaiah 63, was a form of Dionysus.

12.2 The Bread of Heaven and the True Vine: Tammuz and Dionysus

The earliest and most ancient invocation to Jesus in Christianity is believed to be "Jesus is Lord", and more specifically "Come Lord Jesus." (Spong 1994 144)

In Elis a dancing chorus of women invoked the god with the words: "Come, Lord Dionysus." He is described as "the god who comes, the god of epiphany, whose appearance is far more urgent, far more compelling than that of any other god." (Otto).

There are many, many aspects of the enigma of Jesus, from his epiphany on the Day of the festival of Dionysus, through the "true vine", the Eucharist, his virgin birth from a mortal mother and a transcendental father, his sudden coming and the violence of his death in a tragic passion drama, just as Dionysus was torn to pieces and was the progenitor of Greek tragedy, his magical nature, his band of supporting women, his destiny to be the ruler of the world as the son of the father God, and last but not least the presence of Duchares a form of Dionysus as the God of Edom, which attest to a secret tradition or inner mythology of Dionysus in Jesus.

The winnowing fan is characteristic of both Tammuz and Dionysus the dying gods of bread and wine who are combined in the two substances of the eucharist. Luke 3:16 "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable."

Fig 12.2: The Miracle at Cana (Wilson I).

John 2:1 "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."

The Epiphany is a feast of the Christian calender celebrated on January 6. The word comes from the Greek and means "manifestation," "appearance," or "revelation." The observance originated in the Eastern church, and at first celebrated the total revelation of God in Christ. Later it focused upon two events of Jesus' ministry, his baptism (Mark 1:9-11) and the changing of the water into wine at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-12). Interestingly, a similar festival of Dionysus, the wine god, was kept on this day in the Aegean Islands and Anatolia. When the observance of January 6 spread to the West, it became associated with the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12), an event that in the West originally formed part of the Christmas observance (Grollier).

The date the Church celebrates the feast of the miracle of Cana is 6 January, the feast of the Epiphany. Epiphania means "appearance" in Greek and refers to the revelation of the Lord's power. In pagan antiquity 6 January was the day celebrating the revelation of a different divine power and wine miracles performed by a different god: It was the feast of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine: In fact the motif of the story, the transformation of water into wine, is a typical motif of the Dionysus legend, in which this miracle serves to highlight the god's epiphany. And hence it is timed to coincide with the date of the feast of Dionysus, from January 5 th to 6 th. In the ancient Church this affinity was still understood, when . the 6 th of January was taken to be the day that the marriage feast was celebrated at Cana. . Plainly put, in the legend of the marriage at Cana Jesus reveals his divine power in the same way that stories had told of the Greek god Dionysus (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 81).

The 6th of January became for Christians the feast of the power revelation (epiphany) of their God, thereby displacing the feast of Dionysus's epiphany. As Bultmann says, "No doubt the story [of the marriage feast at Cana] has been borrowed from pagan legends and transferred to Jesus". On his feast day, Dionysus made empty jars fill up with wine in his temple in Elis; and on the island of Andros, wine flowed instead of water from a spring or in his temple. Accordingly, the true miracle of the marriage feast at Cana would not be the transformation by Jesus of water into wine, but the transformation of Jesus into a sort of Christian wine god (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 81). In fact the 'water into wine' is also stated to be one of the first of the many bizarre miracles of Dionysus (Briffault 3 130).

John took the miracle of the wine from a collection of Jesus' miracle stories. . The first one was the wine miracle and is also registered as such in John (2:11: "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee"). The second miracle in the collection is the cure of the son of the official in Capernaum, and it is likewise labeled in John as number two (4:54: "This was now the second sign that Jesus did").

The Parable of new wine of the sacrificial bridegroom: Mark 2:18 "And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."

The parable of the vinyard owner: Mark 12:1 Thomas 65: "A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our's. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others."

Q : Luke 7:31, Matt 11:16, [Thomas 47]: "And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children."

This Nazirite or possibly Essene position of John regarding wine is healded in his birth Luke 1:15 "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." The contrasts declared by Jesus from John's teaching show such considerations do not apply to Jesus.

Thomas 13: Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like." Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out." And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?" Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things I which he told me, you will pick up stones and I throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."

Thomas 28: Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent."

Thomas 40: Jesus said, "A grapevine has been planted outside of the father, but being unsound, it will be pulled up by its roots and destroyed. "

Like many other Gods including Ba'al of Canaan, Yahweh smoothed the troubled waters of chaos. However Dionysus is specifically a god of the sea, who miraculously turned pirates into dolphins. Jesus is likewise the fisher of men who not only calms the troubled waters but even walks upon them:

Mark 4:37 "And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." A similar story is told about Jewish boy in the Talmus (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 95).

Mark 6:48 "And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out."

It is notable that the latter event came just after the episode of feeding the five thousand: 6:41 "And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men."

This event can be seen as a massive eucharist of breaking small portions of bread and feeding the flock with good tidings of the Kingdom of God. However, as Spong (1994 195) notes, the link between the loaves, and fishes and walking on the water also falls in the shadow of second Isaiah 51:10 Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; . The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name." This reference can be considered in relation to the Dionysian references of Isaiah 63.

Fig 12.3: The Last Supper - Leonardo da Vinci

12.3 The Body and Blood of the Eucharist

The passover meals in the synoptics and John differ. According to the synoptics , just before his death Jesus celebrated the passover seder with his disciples, and during the meal he instituted the Eucharist. The latter on the one hand belongs to the tradition of the seder, but on the other, as the meal of the "new covenant," is meant to replace the Passover meal of the "old covenant." The Passover meal is seen by the Synoptics as it already had been in Paul very early. Jesus gives himself, his flesh and blood, as a meal:

1 Corinthians 11:23 "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." The apocalyptic purpose of the eucharist is then revealed "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."

Of course body in this sense is soma.

John Spong (1994 204) notes the four key ritual stages: took, blessed (gave thanks), broke and gave, which are repeated in all but John where he merely took and gave.

The Last Supper: Mark 14:22 "And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

According to John, on the other hand, Jesus never spoke the words instituting the Eucharist before his death. Rather, Jesus himself is the slaughtered paschal lamb. Jesus could not celebrate the Passover seder as the Last Supper, because by that time he was already dead.

Although the Last Supper in John is a pre-Passover non-Eucharist meal, the Jesus is nevertheless the 'bread of heaven' as a greater mana and the 'true vine' and exhorts in the Synagoge of Capernaum to eat his flesh and drink his blood: John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 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.

Fig 12.4: The Eucharist 2nd century fresco Priscilla catacomb (Wilson I).

John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."

The bread and wine are also blessed in the Jewish Passover, but this is a family affair, wheras the Christian Communion in the tradition of the Last Supper had only men, like the sacred repasts of the Essene new covenant.

Passover is an ancient Jewish feast, but its origins are unknown. It was one of the three greatest Jewish festivals, the so-called pilgrimage festivals, namely, Passover, Shavuoth (Pentecost, fifty days after Passover), and Succoth, the feast of Tabernacles (first half of October). Passover was celebrated among the Jews in memory of their divine rescue during the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12). God spared every house whose doorposts were marked with the blood of a lamb. In all other houses he killed the first-born, both of humans and of animals . Thus blood protected man and beast from being killed. Blood has a redemptive effect. Christianity presses this macabre thought to its macabre limit with the theological interpretation of Jesus' death.

The Jewish Kiddush blessing at the Sabbath, or the eve of a major festival, has close and obvious correspondence to the blessing of the Eucharist:

Passover was celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Nisan, the month when spring began. The months began with the new moon. The first day after the evening when, following the new moon, a bit of the crescent moon was visible once again was the first day of the month. Thus Passover was always celebrated under a full moon. . The Jewish day began, not as it does with us, at midnight, but in the evening, at dusk. The new day was there when the first stars could be seen. This new day was said to have "shone forth." Hence, Passover, too, lasted from evening to evening. By our system of reckoning, which measures days from midnight to midnight, the Passover meal took place on the "eve" of Passover.

Damascus Rule: "Whenever as many as ten shall gather together for a banquet, they shall take their seats in order of precedence, nd the priest and the messiah shall preside. The company may not touch the bread and the wine till the priest has blessed them and taken some - after which the Messiah first takes some, then the others in order of rank."

Luke 22:24 "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."

Bultmann assumes that the primitive Christian "meals weren't really cultic celebrations, but an expression and bond of fellowship in the sense of Jewish tradition and the historical Jesus himself. They were transformed into sacramental celebrations by Hellenistic Christianity"(Theologie des Neuen Testament 1951, P. 149). This of course is represented by some researchers as sourcing from the Pauline heresy. However it is only a small movement of position from the celebration of the expected return of the Lord with bread and wine to a full-blooded Dionysian feast - of the flesh and blood of the resurrecting redeemer. John has many quite Essene sayings in his vision of light and dark and still we find this carnivorous motif.

Fig 12.5: The Last Supper - Church of the Nativity Bethlehem (Phaidon)

The Didache or Doctrine of the Two Ways was initially an early Christian text, but reflects strongly the Manual of Discipline. You have the baptism . and you have the sacred repast, which involves broken bread and a cup of wine: "We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy Vine of David thy child . and concerning the broken bread: We give thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy child" (Didache, IX, LLC, The Apostolic Fathers, P. 323). The Christian atonement is missing here and although attributed to Jesus may thus have arisen later. Also known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, this work was composed in the first half of the 2nd century. The Didache makes no reference to the death of Jesus and has no notion of a divine, sacramental food.

The Ebionites (deserving poor) an ancient Jewish Christian sect closely associated with Jesus' brother James who was the first bishop of Jerusalem interpreted the Eucharist as a memorial of Jesus, substituting a chalice of water for the chalice of blood. They did not view Jesus' death as a bloody act of atonement. Irenaeus observed that in denying the virgin birth - the power of the most high "they deny the heavenly wine and wish to know nought but the water of this world" (Ranke-Heinemann 1992 173, Wilson I 154, Grollier). The Ebionites followed the Elchasaite vision of the Christ as the recurrent 'secret Adam' a supernatural figure which embued Jesus at his baptism (adoptionist) and left him at the crucifixion.

The adherents of Mithraism gathered at cultic meals, which so closely resembled the Christian Eucharist that Justin (d. ca. 165), for example, considered them a diabolical imitation: "The Apostles in their memoirs, which are called Gospels, have handed down what Jesus taught them to do; that He took bread and, after giving thanks, said: 'Do this in remembrance of Me; this is my body.' In like manner, he took also the chalice, gave thanks, and said: 'This is my blood'; . The evil demons, in imitation of this, ordered the same thing to be performed in the Mythraic mysteries" (1 Apology 66). Tertullian (d. after 220) found it diabolical that the followers of Mithra "at the idolatrous goings-on and in so malicious a fashion put into words even the actions by which the sacraments of Christ are performed" (De praescriptione haereticorum 40). The followers of Mithra were in no way imitating the Christian Eucharist; it was the other way around (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 273).

Fig 12.6: Christos Helios (Wilson I)

12.4 Darkening the Sun of Righteousness

Jesus was called the Sun of Righteousness, the Light to the gentiles. Dionysus is the dark side of the sun, opposite Apollo at Delphi, the tragic aspect of Jesus' passion. Mark 15:33 "And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour." This apparent quotation of a solar eclipse is mythical because passover is on the full moon.

Jesus identification with Mithra including his birth date being attached to the Julian winter solstice is further indication of his link with the sun.

"The people say the sun dances on this day [Easter morning] in joy for a risen Saviour. Old Barbara Macphie at Dreimsdale saw this once, but only once, in her long life. And the good woman, of high natural intelligence, described in poetic language and with religious fervour what she saw or believed she saw from the summit of Benmore: 'The glorious gold- bright sun was after rising on the crests of the great hills, and it was changing colour - green, purple, red, blood-red, white, intense white, and gold-white, like the glory of God of the elements to the children of men. It was dancing up and down in exultation at the joyous resurrection of the beloved Saviour of victory.' To be thus privileged, a person must ascend to the top of the highest hill before sunrise, and believe that the God who makes the small blade of grass to grow is the same God who makes the large, massive sun to move" (Carmichael, Alexander "Carmina Gadelica", Floris 1994)

12.5 Dining with the Risen Christ

John Spong (1994 198-209) notes that the sacred meal is not just a ritual instituted by the living Jesus but is also the central motif in the manifestation of the resurrected Christ in which "their eyes were opened" just as did Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit: Luke 24:30 "And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. . And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, . And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread."

Luke also conveys the sacred meal as a central motif in the coming Kingdom: 22:28 "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom".

Spong comments as follows (1994 205): "Luke was saying, it seems to me that eating and drinking at the Lord's table was part of what it meant to be in the Kingdom of God. That in turn seems to suggest that in the act of eating and drinking in the name of the Lord, here and now, we are sharing a foretaste of that kingdom. Perhaps in such a setting our eyes might well "be opened" to behold the one ."

Fig 12.7: The Supper at Emmaus - Caravaggio (Hendy 127)

The epilogue to John likewise shows Jesus revealed by sharing the sacred meal: 21:12 "Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead." Spong (1992) suggests the siting of htis event in Galilee is consistent with his mission and manifestation being primarily there.

In Acts likewise, the link between the sacrifice of the accursed and experiencing the resurrected Christ through eating and drinking the sacred substance with the redeemer is the central key : 10:39 "And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead."

12.6 The Liberator

In Acts 9:5 we find a remark that Jesus is supposed to have made to Paul as he lay on the ground: "It hurts you to kick against the pricks". This is a quotation from The Bacchae by Euripides (d. 406 B.C.). It's no surprise to find a quotation from ancient literature; the only peculiar thing is that Jesus should quote a Greek proverb to Paul while speaking Aramaic ("in the Hebrew language"). But the really strange thing is that with both Jesus and Euripides we have the same "familiar quotation" and the same situation. In both cases we have a conversation between a persecuted god and his persecutor. In Euripides, the persecuted god is Dionysus, and his persecutor is Pentheus, king of Thebes. Just like Jesus, Dionysus calls his persecutor to account: "You disregard my words of warning . and kick against necessity [literally'against the goads'] a man defying god". . Jesus even uses the same plural form of the noun (kentra) that Euripides needs for the meter of his line (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 163).

In 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul once again speaks of his encounter with the risen Christ. This passage is usually translated as, "Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. . He means that something happened in which the presence of the Revealer was experienced existentially. This experience means more than an "appearance," more than a miraculous seeing and hearing. There is no way to define such perception and knowledge, which transcend every element of the senses, which embrace all of existence. But it's certain that such an encounter with Jesus, as Paul describes it, has nothing in common with the Damascus Show in Acts. In Galatians 1:15 Paul describes the moment with the words "when he . was pleased to reveal his Son to me".

The Acts of the apostles were mighty . when they prayed, there was an earthquake (4:31). When necessary, it could quake again, so as to free them from their chains and open their prison doors: "But around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's fetters were unfastened" (16:25-26). The scene continues as in The Bacchae (which Jesus had already quoted on the occasion of Paul's conversion). Euripides writes of the maenads who were being kept in the city's prison: "The chains on their legs snapped apart / by themselves. Untouched by any human hand, / the doors swung wide, opening of their own accord" (Euripides, The Bacchae, in Euripides V, 11. 447-48; p. 192; cf 11. 497-98).(Ranke-Heinmann 1992 169).

The Dialogue of the Saviour conveys an image of the destruction of womanhood clearly echoing the birth of Dionysus in the destruction of Semele by Zeus' bolt of lightning, revealing himself to her as he did to Hera: Matthew said: "Destroy the works of womanhood" . The Lord said ."Now a true word is coming forth from the Father [to the abyss] in silence with a [flash of lightning] giving birth] (Robinson 254).

Fig 12.8: Nabataean tragic mask of Duchares with dolphin (Glueck)

12.7 Duchares: the Nabatean Dionysus

The key reference to the second coming, in which Christ appears in glory is Revelation 19:11-16 where 'I saw heaven opened . he was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood . out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword . he treadeth the winepress'. This reference is derived from a passage of Isaiah 63:1-4 'Who is this that cometh from Edom that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? . I have trodden the winepress alone . their blood shall be scattered on my garments . and the year of my redeemed has come'.

Both of these references are exclusively Dionysian in character, both in the winepress and the blood of vengeance of the redeemer as we shall see. The reference to Edom also indicates a specific knowledge of the Nabatean Duchares, God of Gaia who was a form of Dionysus.

The territory of the desert round Machaerus where John baptised and was imprisoned is right on the border with Nabatea whose exampansion had pushed many of the Idumeans further west into sourthern Judea. Herod was of Idumean descent. John the Baptist appears to have been sacrificed as a surrogate king for Herod at a feast after challenging his marriage to Herodias. The cast-off wife was the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea.

The Lexicon Talmudicum and Talmud babli Sanhedrin 106b, 43a, 51a and the Toldoth Jeshu states (Graves 1946 6, 1953 23, 288):
Commentators refer to Jeshu-ha-Notzri [Jesus of Nazareth] by mention of the wicked kingdom of Edom, since that was his nation... he was hanged on a Passover eve... He was near to the kingdom [genealogically]. Likewise the Qur'an refers to Jesus as Isa after Esau the red man of Edom. It thus appears that both the Jews and the Arabs recognised the Edomite character of Jesus' mission in a way not understood by Christians themselves.

Balaam the lame was 33 years old when Pintias the Robber [Pontius Pilate] killed him... They say that his mother was descended from princes and rulers but consorted with carpenters.

He was lamed while trying to fly [as were Jacob and Ba'alam].

The Mishnah (Baraitha and Tosefta) note the following passages highlighting the tension between conventional Jews and Jesus' followers (Wilson I 62-4): "It has been taught: On the eve of the Passover they hanged Yeshu ... because he practised sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray ... Our Rabbis taught Yeshu had five disciples Mattai, Nakkai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah.

Rabbi Elizah ben Damah is cited asking that Jacob came to heal him in the name of Yeshu[a] ben Pantera. He died being forbidden to do so.
A disciple of Yeshu the Nazarene is cited in Sepphoris capital of Galilee saying "It is written in your Torah 'Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot ...' How about making it a privy for the high priest? Thus did Yeshu ... teach me 'For the hire of a harlot hath she gathered them, And unto the hire of a harlot shall they return', from the place of filth they come, and unto the place of filth they go"

The Jewish citing of Jesus as son of a Roman 'Pantera' [panther] has been cited as another term of derision insinuating Dionysian heritage but a Roman gravestone has been found in Bingerbrück Germany for Julius Abdes Pantera an archer of Sidon, dating from the appropriate early Imperial period.

Another Sanhedrin entry 103a by Rabbi Hisda comments on Psalm 91:10 "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling" that "Thou shalt have neither a son nor a disciple who will publicly let his food burn (forfeit his salvation in a public display) like did Jesus the Nazarene". Rabbi Abbahu taught "If a man say unto thee 'I am God' he lieth; if he saith 'I am the Son of Man' he will live to rue his words; and if he saith 'I ascend into Heaven' he will not bring to pass that which he saith". These early entries portray an antagonism which in itself explains the attitude in the gospels is not merely anti-Jewish polemic but genuinely records a spiritual tension that arose from the Crucifixion.

Fig 12.9: The Blood of the Redeemer Giovanni Belinni (Hendy 55).

In the Stabat Mater hymn to Mary it says: "Make me drunk with the cross and blood of your son" The Bishop of Aachen comments: "Upon meeting the first person in the morning, I see the Blood of the Redeemer flowing down on him, and I'll know then that we are the redeemed" (Ranke-Heinmann 1992 274-5).

Saint Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) often had visions of blood when the priest raised the chalice during mass. She would see Christ's blood spilling over the altar. Of all drinks she preferred red vinegar, because it reminded her "of the blissfull suffering of Jesus. ' When the host was broken before her eyes, she saw it turn blood red. Upon taking communion she tasted blood in her mouth and had the sense "of receiving Christ, very small and bloody." For Catherine, the wine in the Eucharist was more important than the bread, because it expressed better the sacrificing of a victim. For this reason she always wanted to drink from the chalice at mass.


12.8 Yahweh by Jove!

Although revulsion at the head of Zeus in the Temple of Jerusalem was a cause of the Maccabean uprising, Yahweh shares an affinity with Jove viz Zeus as an ancient weather god of the thunderbolt which is more ancient than identification with any planet. Such an affinity in the minds of the common people in folk festivals continued to underly the new view of Yahweh brought back from the exile. Jerusalem, Absalom and Solomon share a root, common to the Near East from Danaan Greece and Crete (Salmoneus) through the Phoenicians (Selim) to the Assyrians (Salman), which is usually associated with peace - shalom, just as does Aphrodite's dove, appears to represent the sacred king Salmah as the seasonal sun (Graves 1948 332).The Greeks consistently described the rites and worship of the Jewish god as forms of the worship of Zeus Sabazius or Dionysius as the ancient barley god in the Passover and Dionysus Liber god of wine in Tabernacles. Plutarch notes barley sheaves, new wine, torch dances until cock crow, libations, animal sacrifices, and religious ecstasy, noting the prohibition against pork parallels Adonis's killing by a boar. At the end of Tabernacles the priests announced "Our forefathers in this place turned their backs on the sanctuary of god and their faces to the East, adoring the Sun; but we turn to God". Dionysus as the darkened Sun is seasonally resurrected in his solar aspect. Tacitus similarly comments "some maintain the rites of the Jews were founded in honour of Dionysus" (Graves 1948 335-6).

The Edomite Dionysus of Revelation

This personage is clearly referred to in Isaiah 63:1 "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come".

We thus see immediately that the terrible Lord of the apocalypse, the Christ of the second coming is standing directly in this Dionysian tradition in Revelation 19:13: "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords".

Both of these references are exclusively Dionysian in character, both in the winepress and the blood of vengeance of the redeemer as we shall see. The reference to Edom also indicates a specific knowledge of the Nabatean Dionysus Dhu Shara.

This type of language was also central to the earliest aspects of Christianity even before the four gospels we use for our main picture of Jesus were ever written. The earliest and most ancient invocation to Jesus in Christianity is believed to be "Jesus is Lord", and more specifically "Come Lord Jesus." (Spong 1994 144). This is precisely the maranatha - "The Bridegroom cometh".

This same language has always been central to the rites of Dionysus. In Elis a dancing chorus of women invoked the god with the words: "Come, Lord Dionysus". He is described as "the god who comes, the god of epiphany, whose appearance is far more urgent, far more compelling than that of any other god". (Otto W).

To Dionysus ? The Epiphany of Miraculous Dread