James M. Pryse: The Book of Revelations and the Mysteries of John

James Morgan Pryse argued that the Apocalypse is a book of spiritual development, and not prophetic history.

Background: James Morgan Pryse

James Morgan Pryse (Wiki page) was an author, theosophist and his brother John founded the Gnostic Society (Gnosis Website) in 1928. In The Apocalypse Unsealed (1910) Pryse published the secret key to decoding the esoteric meaning of the Biblical Book of Revelation. In 1914, The Restored New Testament (The Hellenic Fragments Freed From The Pseudo-Jewish Interpolations, Harmonized, and Done into English Prose) was published.

James M. Pryse calls them priestly criminals, and interprets along the lines of ancient philosophy and psychology.

Pryse’s task was in undermining the whole structure upon which dogmatic theology was built, and restoring the corrupt text approximately to its primitive form. He demonstrates that the Crucifixion, e.g., is Hellenic in form, and embodies some of the profoundest truths of archaic religion.

He wrote the commentaries for elucidation of the spiritual meaning; while attempting to demonstrate that those portions of the New Testament that can be regarded as genuine with exception of a few fragments of the Epistles are prose plagiarisms from ancient Greek sacred poems, and allegorical dramas of the Greek or Eleusinian Mysteries. All the passages the Iesous-myth is connected with the Old Testament are said to be forgeries, given a historical semblance, staged in Judea.

James M. Pryse believed, that the present Gospels we have today were the work of forgers, who used notes from the Greek Mystery-ritual to fabricate a sacred scripture upon which to found a new religion. Pryse comments on the Apocalypse, treating it as a prose version of a Greek Mystery-poem.

James M. Pryse says that it seemed the Gospel writers were conversant with the esoteric meaning of the original ideas of the ancient symbols they convey, but gave it a Jewish coloring to preserve it from being destroyed by the fanatics of the new faith, who were suppressing everything in ancient literature that proved the real origin and meaning of Christianity to be of the Mysteries.

Book of Revelations as not Prophesied History

οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς νομικοῖς,
ὅτι ἤρατε τὴν κλεῖδα τῆς γνώσεως;
αὐτοὶ οὐκ εἰσήλθ
ατε τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἐκωλύσατε.

“Woe unto you, conventionalists, for
you took away the key of the sacred science;
you did not enter
and those who are entering you hindered.”
Luke 11. 52.

The thesis of James M. Pryse on the Gospels and Books in his work are very eye-opening, especially as regards the text termed Apocalypse, he titles The Initiation of Iâonnês. James Pryse’s task was to show, that the Apocalypse is a book of spiritual development, and not as conventionally taken, to be one giving a prophetic account of history and the future.

The first edition was published in 1910, and contains four chapters:

(i.) The Key to the Gnosis;
(ii.)  The Path to Power;
(iii.) The Riddles of “Revelation”;
(iv.) The Initiation of Iâonnês; including copious illustrations.

James Morgan Pryse’s translations, he says are not based on his peculiarities. While differing from the authorised version, they are based broadly on the Greek. It demonstrates how the ablest scholars and theologians in the ranks of the orthodox have failed to disrobe the heavy veil of “Revelations.”

While doing this, James M. Pryse showed, at first theologians and priests took the book as a historical account, then finding no account in history of it. Then, they interpreted it as history of the future (prophecy), but it is purely allegorical and mystical.

It is not only interesting to the theosophist, but it in general challenges the strategic accusations the Christian makes about “heresiological agendas.” It proposes the idea that the primitive Christian influences were based on the secret science, or Gnōsis (γνώσις), and in the original program of the Church; especially known to several fathers who were Initiates.

Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοὶ, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί.” “Many indeed are called, few are chosen.”

The Apocalypse Pryse says, became a weapon of the ecclesiastical powers, but his analysis changes that greatly. James M. Pryse says, it was meant to undo orthodoxy, giving an allegorical and mystical account of Iâonnês, the Seer’s initiation into the perceptive mysteries. The writer of the text claims to have bore witness to the Logos of the God, and of the Anointed Iesous, thus bore witness to the esoteric doctrine, that is the root of Christianity, and of the religions of antiquity, i.e., divine Gnōsis.

James M. Pryse, a theosophist however contended there was truth to the metaphysical ideas underlying the ancient mystery-cults. Not being particularly a mythicist but skeptical, he still finds modern comparisons with, e.g., Dr. Richard Carrier. These persons similarly claim to prove that Christianity is the syncretism of the Hellenic mysteries (particularly the Eleusinian & Bacchic mysteries) and Judaism. James M. Pryse goes beyond, and tries to render the original texts in the language of the mysteries.

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