We began tapping into this cosmic artery almost exactly a month ago, with a brief reflection on how Jesus might have been understood had he appeared in India instead of Palestine:
"Imagine him surrounded by his Indian disciples on an occasion corresponding to that in which Peter made his confession of faith.... What would an Indian Simon Peter have said in answer to the question, 'Who do you say that I am?'
"I ask you to suppose that the reply would have been, 'Thou art the Son of the living God.'" However, in an Indian context, this would have been understood as Purusha as opposed to Christ (i.e., messiah); instead of Christ-Jesus, the confession (and revelation) would be of Purusha-Jesus.
Of course, in Indian metaphysics, the local self IS (or is not other than) the nonlocal Self, even if few people actually real-ize this experientially. However, Davie suggests that the very possibility of this realization is predicated on the ontologically prior existence of Jesus -- of Jesus Purusha. Thus,
"the primary question is not whether the identity of Atman [read: Son] and Brahman [Father] is personally realized in anyone, but whether it is uniquely dependent on Jesus for realization anywhere. And this can only be so if Jesus is Purusha, and Atman is his very Self..."
It just occurred to me that if we really want to tie this all together, we might relate it to another excellent book, Christ the Eternal Tao. Not sure if I'll have time to do that, so perhaps my prolific colleage, Professor R. E. Viewer, can be of assistance. In one of his nine brief treatises on the subject, he writes
"'Jesus is more Eastern than Western,' said my religion teacher many years ago. That truth rested in the back of my mind for 25+ years. Recently, after three or so years of exploring writings on Orthodox Christianity, this book came under my radar. It carefully presents the idea that the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching) intuitively gained insight into a compassionate, self-giving God -- an inkling into what would later be clarified through the coming of Christ.
"The book is a very thorough presentation of the history of the development of human understanding of God and the fulfillment of this understanding which came with the incarnation of Christ. The second portion of the book is a fascinating, calming journey of poetry in which some of Lao Tzu's ideas are echoed or answered by some of the words of Christ. The similarities are striking!"
"'In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God.' That sentence, the opening of the Gospel of John translated from the Chinese version into English, says it all. Hieromonk Damascene does here what the Church Fathers of the first through fourth centuries did with their ancient Greek heritage: he takes up the ancient spiritual wisdom of the Chinese and uses the insights of long ago to illuminate the New Covenant of the coming of Christ -- the Tao, the Logos -- in the flesh."
The point is, there was (obviously) a historical context for Jesus's appearance, and we have to -- to the extent that it is possible -- separate the merely historical from the truly essential expressed through history. There are times that God makes a vertical ingression and bursts into history, other times when history is just history.
The official Catholic view is that Jesus's appearance in a Greco-Roman context was no accident, but based upon the ideas we're discussing, we could widen this out and place him in a truly world historical context. Looked at in this way, we could stipulate that there exist other revelations, but that Jesus furnishes the missing key that unlocks them.
After all, this is precisely how Jesus is understood in relation to the Hebrew scriptures. For the Christian, these do not stand alone, but are the backward shadow cast by the Omega. Although they existed in some form or fashion long prior to the terrestrial appearance of Jesus, he is nevertheless their explanation, that toward which -- or whom -- they are converging. Only in behindsight could it be seen that Jesus is all over the OT.
(No disrespect to Judaism intended here -- just explicating Christian doctrine; in fact, Voegelin was of the opinion that Christianity actually has two Old Testaments, the Jewish and the Greek.)
Regarding the Greco-Roman OT, consider old Vergil's famous prophecy:
Now a virgin returns, the golden age returns; / now its firstborn is sent to us, down from the height of heaven. / Look kindly, goddess of childbirth, on the birth of this boy; / for him shall the people of iron fail, and a people of gold arise in the world.... / Come soon (for the hour is at hand) to the greatness of your glory, / dear offspring of the gods, great child of Jove himself!
As Balthasar writes, "In Vergil, the subterranean stream flowing from myth into revelation becomes visible for a brief instant" (quoted in Beckett).
Back to Davie: "Thus where Self = Atman and Person = Purusha, the gospel according to Hinduism declares that Jesus is God's Self-in-Person." Furthermore, "if the identity of of Atman and Brahman is actualized historically in Jesus, then the interiority of the godhead is made visible in him."
This would explain how "the self-consciousness of Jesus was such that there is nothing incredible about the statements attributed to him on the subject of his pre-existence," i.e., that before Abraham was, I AM, because before Atman was Purusha IS.
But it probably has nothing to do with the phonetic similarities between Jove and Jehovah, Abraham and Brahman, AUMMMMM & I AMMMMM, or Coon and koan.