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Dark Knowledge Paperback – March 18, 2011
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At last, we arrive at the "dark knowledge" of the title, which is that Jesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin not for blasphemy but for homosexual acts (with John the evangelist, witnessed by Judas). In spite of the author's claim to have proved this with mathematical certainty, I suspect that few will find it convincing. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But the author does provide interesting speculation and commentary on how this would explain various things in the gospels. I've always been puzzled, for example, on exactly what was the nature of Judas Iscariot's "betrayal" of Jesus: after all, since everybody knew who Jesus was, an identification was hardly needed! The author's comments are worth reading, on subjects such as Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, the woman taken in adultery, the beloved disciple, and others.
Ironically, the author is totally unaware of the existence of the Secret Gospel of Mark, a document which (if authentic) quite conclusively proves his thesis. Regrettably, most scholars now regard Secret Mark as a modern forgery (see the wikipedia article on it), but it would have been interesting to see Low's interpretation of it. In recent decades, there have been numerous attempt to portray Jesus as a fully sexual person. In the 1980's, for example, Michael Baigent and his colleagues made a case for his being heterosexual and married to Mary Magdalene. And more recently there have been several books depicting Jesus as homosexual in some sense (see the references in the previous review here). One of the delights of Christianity is that the complex and often contradictory picture of Jesus that we get from the ancient sources allows everyone to find their own understanding of who he really was, and this book is worth reading for the author's original and thought-provoking slant on it.
"Dark Knowledge" by Kenneth Low uses rational arguments to disprove much of the conventional wisdom about Christ. According to Low, Jesus was not heterosexual, not celibate, and not happy with his own identity.
The whole book is an analysis of why Jesus was executed. The standard explanation is that Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. Low dismisses this as too implausible to be believed. Instead he comes to a startling conclusion: Jesus was killed for committing homosexual acts.
Low is a retired physician living in Davis, California and "Dark Knowledge" is his first work. His odd but intriguing book offers no information about the author other than his name. Low's blog explains that he keeps his background a mystery so that his arguments can be judged purely on their own merits. However Low does admit on his blog, " `Dark Knowledge' is really a work of vision that is the product of my own personal journey."
Low presents evidence that Jesus must have been homosexual because he was an unmarried man who surrounded himself with men, including John, his beloved male disciple and sexual partner. Still Low is also clear that Jesus was divine. The following quotation illustrates Low's viewpoint and detached tone:
"In His childhood, Jesus Christ came into His awareness of being the Son of God. His magical authority and other attributes were given to Him as His birthright. As He came into sexual awareness, He discovered Himself to be a homosexual. His awareness of being the Son of God precluded any possibility of denying His sexuality out of some external concern and He began to be sexually active. He was evidently discovered to be a homosexual by people in His hometown and He must have been sharply rebuked and ostracized. He left Galilee and wandered on an endless soulful sojourn seeking a reconciliation of His divinity with His homosexuality." (p. 276)
Low goes on to describe how Jesus brought his life and ministry to its "inevitable conclusion" in Jerusalem. "Just as He couldn't escape his homosexuality, neither could He keep it a secret forever," (p. 276) he writes. Low's version of the Passion story unfolds this way: Judas revealed the "dark knowledge" of Jesus' homosexuality to the religious authorities, causing a sudden loss of public support for Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus was "overwhelmed with sorrow because He was filled with shame" about his soon-to-be-revealed homosexual acts. At his trial the normally eloquent Jesus gave evasive answers because, although he was an expert at religious debate, he couldn't deny the truth of his homosexuality. Wanting to be punished, he pleaded guilty in exchange for dropping the charges against his sexual partner.
One of the most fascinating parts of the book is Low's demonstration of how Jesus' theology was shaped by being queer. Low argues that Jesus came to identify with the poor and disenfranchised because he was gay:
"As the Son of God, Jesus Christ had discovered Himself to be a homosexual and had found celibacy impossible... He also understood that homosexuality was a sexual crime under the Law of Moses. His feeling was that His homosexuality was something He needed to passively accept and He was cast in the role of the disobedient Son of God. His feeling of self-worth required that He find meaning in His disobedience and He came to view Himself as an advocate for the sinful disobedience of the world." (p. 286)
Some of Low's conclusions seem questionable, especially his assertion that "no one is ever really reconciled with his or her sexuality." If Jesus was truly divine, then surely he could have found a way to unite sexuality and spirituality, an idea that I explore in my novels Jesus in Love and At the Cross (Jesus in Love). Low also seems to assume that each gospel were written by a single eyewitness, an idea disputed by most Bible scholars. Unlike Low, I find it believable that Jesus could have been executed for blasphemy. Even today LGBT Christians still receive death threats from Christian conservatives who accuse them of blasphemy. Despite its flaws, "Dark Knowledge" makes for stimulating reading and a darkly illuminating vision of a gay Jesus.