Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Strange Day in Australian Politics

For the last few weeks now I've been tuning out the news cycle, or, perhaps better, managing my access to it. I'd pretty much stopped watching TV news as the ABC seemed to do no more than channel the Murdoch feed and I've cut back seriously on my radio listening, again to mostly screen out the news updates (although I'm also really appreciating the silence - I might write about that at some stage).

What we've had now for a while is an intense media blitzkrieg against the federal Labor government, constant harping, distortions and outright lies. On one level I wasn't surprised. A fact of life about Australian is that a Coalition gov't is perceived by the powers that be as the natural order of things, whereas Labor is a fluke, a mistake, a temporary necessity, whatever. I saw it before in the days of Whitlam back in the 70s and I also saw the Hawke-Keating governments cop their own fair hiding too. The first two to three years of Hawke I remember being very nervous because of the way the media was going out for him. This time round I wasn't surprised but this time, as I said, I'd decided to screen it out. There's nothing I can do about it, it's mostly lies fuelled now by the mining sector's determination to scuttle the new resource tax that the gov't wanted to implement.

So I was quite surprised this morning to see on my flatmate's blog that there was a leadership challenge being mooted against the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Later this morning I found a Crikey update in my email saying that Julia Gillard was now PM. At the Caucus meeting this morning Rudd hadn't put himself forward for the leadership and Julia got the job unopposed.

So right now I feel quite strange. I must admit to liking Julia Gillard, much more than I ever did Rudd himself and even though I disagree with her on some of her policies. Well, maybe they weren't her policies as such but the government's policies which she as Education minister was responsible for implementing. So I've looked forward to the day when she would become Prime Minister of the country, our first female PM.

But at the same time I'm alarmed. Rudd was toppled towards the end of the first term of the Labor government. An election is due and must be held in the next few months (I think by no later than April next year). The Opposition really are a talentless rabble and they are led by the so-called Captain Catholic, Tony Abbott, a really nasty piece of work, who I must say gives me the willies. The thought of them getting back into government really scares the shit out of me. They're nasty and clueless, dominated by climate change denialists and with an ugly penchant to play racism and xenophobia with asylum seekers and a particularly nasty tendency to play vicious class war politics against the poor and unemployed, especially if they're young. Is it a particular feature of Anglo-Saxon politics, this beating up the poor that's been around since the poor laws of the Tudor monarchy in the 16th century and is a recurring part of British, Australian and US politics (I can't speak for Aotearoa/NZ or Canada) or do other nations likewise make beating up the poor a key part of their conservative politics?

I have to say that, apart from perhaps the Apology, nothing so became Rudd as his going. You can watch his final press conference here. I can only say, Kevin why didn't you speak like this before? Superb stuff! In fact you've laid out the Government's re-election platform summing up the achievements of the first term magnificently. I'm also intrigued that Rudd isn't leaving politics at the next election (although Lindsay Tanner is which is most unfortunate) and may even have a role in Julia Gillard's Cabinet. If that happens then we will have a most interesting political situation, which could even be healthy for the body politic. I hope so.

And, Julia, remember why Kevin seemed to get into trouble over the last couple of months. It was because he had been perceived by many as abandoning key principles, not being prepared to take the fight up to the Opposition, not just the Lib-Nats, but the serious Opposition of the wealthy and powerful vested interests such as the mining companies, the Murdoch press and the big end of town. Perhaps why I'm so uneasy is that I have a horrible feeling that I've just witnessed a coup orchestrated by those very same vested interests through their commentariat lackeys of the press.

When I heard the news of our new PM, I said a prayer for her and for the Government and I also said one for Kevin too. While I might be critical of a lot what they and he have done, at the same time this country has been so much the better for their time in office and I hope for all our sakes that they will remain in office for quite a few years to come. The alternative is the stuff of nightmares.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who's responsible for Christianity's 'Fall'?

I've just lately been reviewing a paper for Religion, a rather fascinating piece on the Marxist classicist Geoffrey E M St Croix. Much of his work explored the dynamics of class struggle in the ancient world ancient and classical Greece. I won't go into the paper I reviewed here suffice to say it focuses on St Croix's studies of early Christianity and the role of class in the 'corruption' if not 'fall' of Christianity from the halcyonic radical days in the lifetime of Jesus to the hierarchical church of the later Roman Empire. The author points out that St Croix runs a Fall narrative of early Christian history. The Guardian obituary I've linked to on St Croix above states that as far as St Croix was concerned

St Paul replaced Plato as his "greatest enemy of the human race", and later that distinction went to Jahweh, the Old Testament Jehovah,

Now I don't mind the old Plato; well at least the younger Plato, before he wrote Laws, and so long as you read him critically (I rather like an Irigarayan lens). He is a crucial figure for any study of love between men, the ethics, spirituality, philosophy thereof. He was a profound influence on ancient culture including what would become Judaism, Christianity and Islam (the Islamic republic of Iran is modelled on Ayatollah Khomeini's reading of Plato as much as it is on anything in the Qu'ran and Hadiths).

But I'm not writing about Plato here but rather Paul, or the Paul of the Fall mythos of Christian historiography. Perhaps more than any other religion (except, perhaps, the 'secular' Marxist/Communist cults, which I regard as a variant of Christianity anyway), Christianity seems haunted by a sense that it does not live up to, does not sustain the power, the purity, the beauty of that time when heaven and earth touched in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Christianity is perennially haunted by a sense of absence, of loss - 'Maranatha!" 'come now Jesus' (or alternatively 'come Jesus but not yet').

And, of course, if there has been a Fall, an absence, then there must be someone to blame. For a long time Constantine has been a favorite scapegoat. That Constantine took over the Church and corrupted it is a fairly old trope. For many Protestants, if the Pope didn't corrupt Christianity it was Constantine, whose corruption enabled that of the Papacy (an idea which no doubt would surprise old Constantine himself). The Da Vinci Code really worked that trope hard even making Constantine responsible for the Christian Bible and the deification of Jesus (Christian biblical canons didn't get stabilised until many centuries after Constantine and Jesus was worshipped long before Constantine was even thought of). Many Catholics shared that point of view too - it let the Pope off the hook, to a certain extent. As a young radical Catholic myself I remember how Constantine was blamed for Christianity abandoning its original pacifism to become a warmongering religion. Certainly Constantine integrated Christianity into the Roman state in what I would term a mutual takeover operation. Sometimes, too, Constantine would share the blame with Augustine. After all, Augustine was liked by those heretics, Luther and Calvin, and he had been a Manichee and he had some very bad ideas about sex. His ideas on predestination were also subsequently rejected by the Church. The fact that Calvin would later run with them only showed what a bad influence Augustine was.

Many Protestants pushed Christianity's 'Fall' back further to some vague period post the New Testament or apostolic period, in the late 1st and 2nd centuries. Pentecostals believe that it was the loss of the Holy Spirit that caused Christianity to go astray but that now, in the charismatic movement which began at the start of the 20th century, the true Christianity has been restored. Ironically, Pentecostalism has been around long enough now that many Pentecostals see that some kind of Fall has happened there, too, in the last two to three decades. Instead of the outpourings of the Spirit, Pentecostal/charismatic churches have become home to rock concert/moshpit feel good Christianity or really 'wild' phenomena such as the Toronto Blessing and being stoned/drunk on the Spirit.

Over the last two centuries another candidate for leading Christianity astray has emerged, Paul of Tarsus. St Croix is not unusual in his estimation of Paul. His view is a common one amongst treatments of early Christianity. If Paul didn't invent Christianity himself then he remade it in such a way that it lost all the radical vision of its founder. Paul is blamed for the deification of Jesus, for mythologising or churchifying Christianity, for misogynising Christianity, for homophobising Christianity. Paul changed a revolutionary movement into a religion and all the rot set in.

Now clearly Paul was an important figure for early Christianity. The New Testament is either dominated by him or is designed to contain him (after all he was popular with the 2nd century Gnostic teachers too). He is most important for Christianity finally being able to relinquish the Mosaic law, enabling it too spread more easily amongst Gentiles (and perhaps just as much amongst Jews too). We also only have letters from Paul - whether or not he wrote all of them I think is immaterial. With the likely exception of the Pastorals, I think they are all in Paul's name and authority, if not from his hand. And I also think that quests for the authentic Paul are no more than attempts to find a more palatable Paul, to let him off the hook of his inconsistencies, errors and prejudices. In which case I'm quite happy to let the Pastorals stand under Pauline authority, as much as Romans, all the more to keep Paul uncomfortable, problematic, a goad to kick against.

But did Paul mark the Fall of Christianity? No. I would argue that the Fall, if such there was, began at the start in Jesus' own lifetime. This 'Fall' is no more than the dynamics of resistance appropriation and assimilation which operate in every movement, religious and otherwise. The idea of a primitive purity is a romantic fantasy. Jesus and his followers were part of an ancient society and had to live in it as much as anyone else. Jesus might have been somewhat an itinerant in his public career but according to the Gospels he had his benefactors too. Not only Joseph of Arimethea, Nicodemus, but also certain women of means such as Joanna and Susanna too. According to Luke, Joanna was wife to the manager of Herod's household! It's easy reading the Gospels to think that all Jesus did was wander around preaching and working miracles until he fell foul of the powers that be. However the Gospels aren't biographies but theological portraits instead. That's why making movies or writing novels about the life of Jesus are so hard to do. None of the Gospels, canonical and non-canonical alike, are interested in presenting a biography of Jesus. Their key concern is presenting who Jesus is, his significance for us the evangelists' audience, and they do so by telling of his teachings and his deeds. For the canonical and some of the other Gospels, the most important of his deeds are his death and resurrection. These events (and also the birth narratives) have an inherent narrative flow that stories of miracles interspersed with parables and preaching don't have. These stories can be arranged and re-arranged in all sorts of ways; if you look at any synopsis of the canonical Gospels it's clear to see. What these stories aren't doing, though, is providing a clear historical narrative of what Jesus did and how he did it and when.

Their effect then is to paint a romantic picture of someone who appears to live simply, itinerantly, carefree. But that is simply an effect, the Gospels aren't interested in what happened in between the parables and the preaching and the miracles and so we don't see it. They're also not interested in plotting his psychology, how he came to know what he knew, how his understanding of himself and his teachings developed. We aren't told about the day to day life, either, of the community around him, his community of followers or of those in his broader support base.

I have little doubt Jesus was a radical but, at least from some of the sayings attributed to him, he was no fool. To put it another way he was strategic about the when and how he would challenge the authorities, particularly the Temple (which was clearly in his sights). While Jesus might have been a peasant I doubt he was either illiterate or poor. The teachings attributed to him in the Gospels are quite sophisticated and show a sharp intelligence, a wittiness and a theological depth. This was no country bumpkin. Jesus picked his times strategically. He certainly did not randomly stir things up without thought of the consequences to innocently or naively stumble into the hands of his enemies. I also think it most likely he aroused messianic expectations in his lifetime, it's the only way to explain his execution. He may well have miscalculated at the end but he may also have embraced the destiny waiting for any messianic figure under Roman rule, re-contextualising it instead in terms of (Day of) Atonement and (associated) Suffering Servant theologies. In other words, Jesus was not simply a political figure, he was first and foremost a religious figure and understood his role in religious terms (albeit with political and social implications). Compare and contrast with Simon bar Kochba, the next Jewish Messiah (Christ) who lived a century later or Alexander Jannaeus who lived over a century earlier, the first Priest-King (Lord's Anointed or Christ) of Jerusalem since the Iron Age. Their roles are more clearly political albeit with religious implications. While bar Kochba is acclaimed Messiah by the great Rabbi Akiva (ben Joseph) he leaves no religious teachings and no cult, whereas Akiva is considered one of the "earliest founders of Rabbinic Judaism... and one of the most central and essential contributors to the Mishnah" Jesus is much more like Akiva than bar Kochba; he is also much more like that other divisive Messiah, the 17th century Sabbatai Tzvi.

One of the greatest temptations in any work on Jesus and Christian origins is to create a Jesus very much like ourselves. Since the Enlightenment, you could say there has been the quest for the rational Jesus, a Jesus that could sit comfortably in Western liberal capitalist societies. Thomas Jefferson 'demythologised' the Gospels to create an Enlightenment Jesus for the new Republic and in the 19th century we get the various Lives of Jesus by such as Strauss and Renan. This Jesus is a kind of philosopher or sage, an idealistic bourgeois. In the late 20th century we get a similar Jesus in the work of the Jesus Seminar. Here we have a peasant sage, itinerant radical, almost Californian, hippie figure. It's not quite clear how or why he ends up crucified, he's such a vanilla figure. It's even harder to figure out how, after his execution, he becomes divine. How does the sage, the Jesus of liberal rational dreams, become the Son of God?

Well, along came Paul, of course. It's a nice binary, sweet Jesus and nasty Paul, and, yes, the Pauline sections of the New Testament, have some much more uncomfortable elements than the Gospels (except for rich people, for whom the Gospels contain a lot of uncomfortable stuff). It's all too easy to make Paul the villain of the piece; he dominates the New Testament, perhaps even more than Jesus does. He is also a central figure in resolving the role of the Mosaic law, Christianity and Gentiles. After Paul, it is no longer necessary for Gentiles to be subject to the Law if they become Christian; it's also not necessary for Jews or Samaritans who become Christian to be subject to the Law either. That's a major change, a significant change. But did Paul invent Christianity? No, it was already there, in some respects you could say it even invented Paul (as my colleague Ed Conrad would say). He gets jumbled up with John and Matthew and Mark and the author of Hebrews, not to mention Peter and Jude and, for a while, with Clement, Barnabas and Hermas too. And if he's not their author(ity) then someone gives him the Pastorals too (and Laodiceans and 3 Corinthians).

I find the binary too neat and tidy and I also think it exists to let Jesus off the hook. Is it really so unimaginable that Jesus invented his own mythology rather than it being imposed upon him by latter day Pauls or Johns or even Constantines? But that makes Jesus rather alien and strange. My own personal view is that if we had a time probe and could snatch Jesus from 1st century Palestine and bring him forward in time we would find him a most bizarre and disturbing figure, not the sweet sage of bourgeois imagination. I'm sure that the authorities of our time wouldn't hesitate to certify him insane (and also Paul, and John and Mary Magdalene and Peter and Joanna and Thomas and Susanna and Matthew and Mark and Junia and Mary his mother and James and probably old Rabbi Akiva and Sabbatai Tzvi too if they were likewise caught up in our time probe). Certainly I can see how a first century Jew could consider himself (or herself), and be considered by other Jews, a heavenly being, a divine being, the divine being. I can also see how that person could decide that their messianic role was to fully instantiate in their own person, no animal substitute, the Atonement ritual of the High Priest, on earth, in the heavenlies (where there is no animal substitute). In other words, objectively that person takes on religiously motivated suicide. I can see that. It fits my readings of 'Old Testament' and studies of ancient Judaism (and subsequent Judaism too).

So how did Christianity 'fall'? Who is to blame? No one and everyone. If there was no 'fall' it could not have survived. There is no such thing as a pure and pristine original Christianity. It's impossible to recreate the 'Church of New Testament times', we don't know enough about it for a start, all we have is an affect of the text. The 'Fall' of Christianity is itself simply the affect of Christian adaptation and translation for new cultures, new times. With adaptation comes appropriation too. Christianity is Romanised, Hellenised, Germanised, Africanised, Armenianised, Slavonicised... But appropriation works both ways too. The cultures, societies, philosophies and theologies that appropriate Christianity are appropriated by Christianity too. The various ruling classes might adopt Christianity as a powerful spiritual juju but they can't get rid of that radical heart, a source, disturbing and uncomfortable but integrally part of that spiritual juju, from which its power is derived, precisely because it disturbs and challenges.

I said earlier, that Christianity, perhaps more than any other religion, is haunted by a loss, an absence. Maranatha! Come Lord! the joyous cry within the Eucharist, the aching cry otherwise; and it is this loss, this yearning, this hope too that is part and parcel of that radical heart, destabilising, undermining the boundaries. The hope, the yearning, the radical destabilising are all part and parcel of the mythology and without it they fall apart and fade away.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lady Zeus? Curious parallels between Jesus and Ganymede

I'm currently re-reading James Davidson's The Greeks & Greek Love, a fascinating and bulky (nearly 600 pages) study of ancient Greek homosexualities. I'm not going to write about his main thesis or, perhaps better, his key arguments. You can get a bit of a sense from an essay he wrote back in 2007 for the Guardian. But for now I'm interested in some small details he gives about the story of Zeus and Ganymede and make some connections with ancient West Semitic religion and its resulting biblical world.

For those who don't know, Zeus is the High God of the ancient Greek pantheon. Ganymede is the beautiful youth who was carried off to the heavens, in Homer's Iliad by the gods but in later accounts and later representations by Zeus himself, sometimes in the form of an eagle. Zeus fell in love with Ganymede and so the youth was made immortal and ageless, dwelling in Olympus as the High God's cupbearer (a role previously filled by Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and Hera). According to the Iliad, Ganymede was a prince of Troy and Davidson details similar stories of divine abductions of mortals many of which seem to take place in the region near Troy. One such abduction is of Tithonus, a relative, in some accounts a brother, of Ganymede. He is carried away by the "serial rapist" (Davidson's term) Eos, the goddess of Dawn. Riding the dawn skies in her chariot, winged Eos, carries Tithonus away and grants him immortality but forgets to grant him agelessness. He gets progressively older and more decrepit and eventually she turns him into a cicada.

Briefly Davidson considers other parallels to Ganymede further east - Anatolia, Mesopotamia and the biblical world. An example Davidson gives from the latter is Elijah who gets carried away in a fiery chariot recalling for me more Tithonus carried off by Eos than Ganymede himself. I was struck, however, by the parallels between Enoch and Ganymede but Enoch doesn't get a mention by Davidson. In standard bibles today, Enoch only gets the briefest mention too. His main appearance is in Genesis where he is the father of Methuselah. Genesis also tells us that "Enoch walked with God, then he was no more because God took him" (5.24). He also gets a couple of references in the New Testament. He is cited as a prophet in Jude 14-15 while Hebrews tells us "By faith Enoch was transferred, that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had transferred him; for before his transference he had the witness that he had pleased God well." (Hebrews 11:5). So basically Enoch, a prophet from primordial time, is taken away by God and does not know death but gains immortality and agelessness in the heavenly realms. The books of Enoch give us a lot more information about Enoch as a prophet and his translation to, and new life in, the heavenly realm which I will come back to later. But just briefly about the books themselves 1 Enoch is the oldest being in five parts, the oldest dating back to the 3rd century BCE. It seems to have been very popular at Qumran and was also influential in early Christianity and is indeed part of the Ethiopian Bible. 2 Enoch most likely dates from the 1st century CE and only exists in Slavonic, being preserved in Russia, and in several recensions but has never been part of any biblical canon. Neither of these books of Enoch are specifically Christian but they have only been preserved by Christians. 3 Enoch is a Rabbinic mystical text from the 6th century CE.

Returning to Ganymede, Davidson considers evidence that Ganymede might not have been of Trojan origin but Greek instead. There are two references in ancient literature to Ganymede as a Greek. One locates him at Chalcis on Euboea which, as well as having a temple to Olympian Zeus, also had a sacred grove dedicated to Ganymede. It was also regarded as the site where the youth was carried off to the heavens. The other site is in the Peloponnese, the city of Phlius, where there was a sanctuary "nestling in a grove of cypresses... dedicated to a goddess called Dia, also called Hebe" (191). However the ancient writer Pausanius was told by locals that the goddess "most anciently... was (called) Ganymeda" (ibid). Yes, a female Ganymede who had also disappeared "or at least there was no cult image... not even a secret one" (ibid). According to Pausanius, the sanctuary was very ancient "going way back" (ibid). Davidson then tells us that back in Bronze Age Greece, the Mycenaean period in the second millennium BCE, many of the later deities of Greece were worshipped including Zeus/Dios and Poseidon. But he also tells us that Zeus and Poseidon and possibly other deities too were worshipped in both genders, thus Dia/Lady Zeus and Posideia/Madame Poseidon. Lady Zeus/Dia survived into the Classical and later periods in out of the way places like Phlius.

According to Davidson that the unique female Ganymede appears in a sanctuary of Lady Zeus is too much of a coincidence. He raises the possibility that perhaps "Zeus and Ganymede were once aspects of a single deity like Dia/Ganymeda" (192). He says "we could generate a nice little tetragram of relationships: Lord Zeus (Dios), his youth Ganymede, Lady Zeus (Dia) and her youth (Hebe) Ganymeda" (ibid). This tetragram immediately recalled for me a similar tetrad in West Semitic religion as found at Ugarit in the second millennium BCE. Here we have El, the High God, and Athirat (Asherah) together with Ba'al and his sister/consort Anat. Nick Wyatt says that these two pairs represent androgynous dyads of divinity and both pairs are connected, Ba'al and Anat are alter egos of the primary dyad of El and Athirat. El and Athirat represent the divine at a macrocosmic level while Ba'al and Anat are the divine at a microcosmic level. If El and Athirat can be seen as in parallel to Zeus and Lady Zeus can Ba'al and Anat be seen as a parallel to Ganymede/a?

Interestingly, the 5th century BCE Jewish community at Elephantine in southern Egypt worshipped Yahweh (Yahu/YHWH) together with a consort, Anat-Yahu. In the biblical world Yahweh and Ba'al are rivals; El is also there as the Most High and so is Asherah who is worshipped in the Jerusalem Temple and is most notably always associated with sacred groves, including one in Jerusalem. So we have that same Ugaritic tetrad here except that Yahweh has replaced Ba'al. So can Yahweh be likewise seen as a parallel to Ganymede?

If so, it comes most strikingly through the parallel between Ganymede and Enoch, a parallel which will also incorporate Jesus. But Davidson has a bit more to say about Ganymede and Zeus which is worth considering before I further explore the parallels. He makes the point that perhaps everyone has been too hung up on the sexual side of the relationship between god and boy to see the significance of the relationship. Instead, he points out, this is a story of apotheosis. Ganymede "is a unique figure in Greek religion, a mortal on Olympus. It was the very nectar served by Ganymede and the ambrosia, the food of the gods..., that kept the gods gods, that kept them up there (on Olympus)" (196). He continues, the Greeks "would see in Ganymede a pure once-mortal boy mediating between earth and heaven, a resonant symbol of human and divine exchange, a uniquely remarkable figure... a mortal removed from the earthly sphere and chosen by the most awesome of the gods to perform holy offerings in his presence. Here sacrifice and the food of the gods are as one" (197). He underlines his argument by noting that in the Greek city of Aegion there was the custom of holding a beauty contest of adolescent youths, the winner being appointed as priest of Zeus, an office he held until the hair began to darken his upper lip and jaw. Furthermore, in many of their images Zeus and Ganymede are wearing yarmulkes. These are now seen as Jewish headgear but it seems they were once regarded as a sign of holiness across the ancient Mediterranean.

Davidson has plenty more to say about Ganymede, including exploring the way Plato recalibrates the dynamics of the love between the god and the boy in the Phaedrus. But what came as a big surprise for me was the discovery that the ancient Jewish philosopher and Torah commentator, Philo of Alexandria, used the image of Ganymede in his work. Here Davidson draws on a short paper by John Dillon published back in 1981 in the Classical Quarterly, "Ganymede as the Logos".

It is the image of Ganymede as the wine-steward or wine-pourer, that Philo draws on (Ganymede is identified with the constellation Aquarius, the water-pourer). On three occasions Ganymede appears in this context in Philo's work. In Quod Deus sit Immutabilis, 155-8, he compares God's grace to nectar and ambrosia and says

He is not, then, going to drink from a cistern, to whom God has granted unmixed draughts of intoxication, either from the hand of one of his servants among the angels, whom he has designated to be his wine-steward , or even from his own hand, without the mediation of anyone between the donor and receiver
The wine-steward is a Ganymede image, the ambrosia of Olympus, here the wine of divine grace

There are two more striking images in Philo's Somneia.

Who, then is God's wine-steward? It is he who pours the libation of peace, the truly great High Priest who first receives the loving-cups of God's perennial bounties, then pays them back when he pours a libation of that potent undiluted draught, himself (2. 183).
Here the wine-steward is turned into the great High Priest who serves in the heavenlies and who is represented on earth by the High Priest in the Temple. As Dillon observes

For Philo, the figure of the High Priest (of whom the ideal example is Moses himself) is a mediator between God and man, a representation of the Logos immanent in the world.

And further on in Somneia, Philo explicitly uses the same Ganymede image in reference to the Logos

And who can pour over the happy soul which proffers its own reason as the most sacred cup, the holy goblets of true joy, except the cup-bearer of God, the master of the feast, the Word (Logos)? not differing from the draught itself, but being itself in an unmixed state, the pure delight and sweetness, and pouring forth, and joy, and ambrosial medicine of pleasure and happiness; if we too may, for a moment, employ the language of the poets (2.249)

John took a fairly standard (according to Daniel Boyarin) 1st century Jewish hymn to the Logos and Christianised it, or maybe more appropriately, Jesusified it to serve as the introduction to his gospel. So this last passage from Philo already serves as a link from Ganymede to Jesus. But the High Priestly role gives a direct link to Enoch the prophet in Genesis who was carried up to heaven. Here is what Jubilees, another ancient text that didn't get into any canons apart from the Ethiopian Bible, has to say about Enoch

And he was taken from amongst the children of men, and we conducted him into the Garden of Eden in majesty and honour, and behold there he writeth down the condemnation and judgment of the world, and all the wickedness of the children of men. And on account of it (God) brought the waters of the flood upon all the land of Eden; for there he was set as a sign and that he should testify against all the children of men, that he should recount all the deeds of the generations until the day of condemnation. And he burnt the incense of the sanctuary, (even) sweet spices, acceptable before the Lord on the Mount. For the Lord hath four places on the earth, the Garden of Eden, and the Mount of the East, and this mountain on which thou art this day, Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion (which) will be sanctified in the new creation for a sanctification of the earth; through it will the earth be sanctified from all (its) guilt and its uncleanness throughout the generations of the world. (Jub 4:23-26)

Here we have Enoch as both the heavenly scribe, as well as the High Priest offering incense to the Lord, to ensure some sort of sanctification of the earth, a form of atonement. The first two books of Enoch give very detailed accounts of this same process - the prophet is carried off to the heavens where he is anointed and vested to become an angelic and (high) priestly being. In subsequent rabbinic tradition, too, Enoch on his ascent to heaven is transformed into the great angel Metatron and in 3 Enoch is termed the lesser Yahweh beside the Lord, the greater Yahweh. In many respects Enoch's story more explicitly and spectacularly is one of apotheosis, deification than that of Ganymede but the core of both is the same principle - a human/mortal who wins the favour of a god and is taken to heaven and there transformed into a heavenly, a divine being to sit or stand beside the Most High God.

These Enochian themes of apotheosis/deification, heavenly high priesthood, grace and atonement are also central to the Christian portrait/understanding of Jesus, so crucial, in fact that I'm inclined to regard them as coming from the source, Jesus himself. Thus Enoch also serves to link Jesus and Ganymede. Jesus is further linked, via Philo's applying Ganymede imagery likewise to the Logos.

It's clear from his book that Davidson has a somewhat jaundiced view of Christianity. Given that he's a gay man it's quite understandable. But Davidson does note how prominent Ganymede imagery was in late medieval and Renaissance Christendom. He notes wryly that the image of Ganymede's abduction is actually on the doors of St Peter's in Rome. Given the bitter contemporary debates about Christianity and homosexuality I'm sure many conservative Christians might look askance at Ganymede's image on the entrance to the most important church in Western Christendom. But ironically it would seem that there is no more appropriate place for Ganymede to be seen. Perhaps the Ganymede story can be seen as a pagan prefiguring of the Christ story. And perhaps Ganymede might enable Christians to see just how much the homo-amorous, homo-erotik inheres in the very divinising dynamics the Christ story itself.