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Christianity under scrutinty
Icon of James the Just who said, "We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God . . . " - [All decided:] "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . . You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things." This is the Apostolic Decree from c. 50 CE, in Acts 15:19-29.

No teachings of Jesus went into the bargain for later non-Jewish followers

Allegedly Lord, and teachings of Jesus Christianity started with the Apostolic Decree in 49 CE, when all the apostles and the Ghost decided that non-Jewish followers should have a better deal than Jews. The whole story is in Acts 15. There are only four requirements for Christians, it says, and no words of Jesus entered into it. That is not so strange, since in the gospel of Matthew he says his teachings are for Jews only (Vermes 2012). Besides, the many different gospels that rid Christianity in the early centuries, appeared only decades and centuries after the council in Jerusalem that Acts 15 tells of and Acts 21:25 confirms. Much-later-added gospels with forbidden teachings for Jews - forbidden by Jesus, that is - were edited also.

The Bible holds that no teachings of Jesus for Jews were needed for non-Jews - that is part of the foundational Christianity: there are only four requirements for non-Jewish followers, it says, and they are understood in the light of the Law of Moses. All the apostles and the Holy Ghost agreed on this:

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. [Acts 15:28-29; emphasis added]

Teachings of Jesus are not included! The Law of Moses covers the first five books of the Bible. Five books. A Christian, on the other hand, has four requirements - You may think immoral sex is a bad thing, and that that having blood food is not. Where did such an idea creep in? Judged by the four requirements (above), a Christian having blood food (black pudding, blood sausage, Brat, Wurtz, etc.) is on thin ice, and so is Christian having immoral sex (adultery). Poultry wrangled to death may pose another problem to all too many, but beer not - not to begin with, at least. [The Blood-Laws]

- Had blood food? On thin ice?

Sheep and Bible words

Teachings of Jesus are not included in the Apostolic Decree (in Acts 15). However, a lot of gospels were written later, and four of them were incorporated in the New Testament when it took shape much later. Textual criticism of the Bible shows bad sides to much of that work, such as putting different words in the mouth of Jesus in different gospels in the same scenes, and forgeries. [Ehrman's studies]

That teachings of Jesus for Jews only entered the Christian gospels are wrongly there, on his word. Many sorts of gospels were written later, in part forged, in the early church. It was a common activity for gospel writers then. Words were in part made up and then edited to look convenient to lots of fools if they were not Jews. Rascal activities long after the death of Jesus founded the four gospels in the New Testament. Dr Bart D. Ehrman (link above) has written many well-received books about it. Many of his book titles give an impression of themes he goes into. [A good deal of Dr Ehrman's books]

Forgery was a common activity among Bible writers.

The granted value of not being a Jesus sheep

Another term for believer is sheep. Jesus and others use it. It is a metaphor. [Matthew 9:12-13; John 10:3]. Sheep may have problems thinking a lot, or far ahead. It should be much better not to be a sheep and not belong to Jesus . . . [Matthew 9:12; Matthew 12:12; John 14:12]. Consider the Jesus quote: "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!" [Matthew 12:12].

Sheep, what is your market value?

Clumsy, clumsy double play

Gospel writers furnished Jesus with an ancestry line through Joseph, while telling he was not his father [Matthew 1:1-16], but that God was, through some angel or God. Jews nudged it could be a Roman soldier. But Jesus wanted to be accepted as a Son of David - of that blood line or house - through Mary's husband. Then he might appear acceptable to Jews as their Messiah, their king. But when he said God was his father, he was put to death for "bad telling", as the Law required, the authorities decided.

The apostle Paul concurred, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for . . . [t]he authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves [Rom 13:1-2]." Jesus did, and was next branded as an insane, demoniac blasphemer and executed as a criminal.

Later, Peter and the other apostles managed to escape from prison by disregarding what authorities wanted. He had a helping angel in the prisonbreak.

The high priest and all his associates . . . arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. [Acts 5:17-19]

There are fall-fit intricacies in the Christian faith. It took centuries in forming, in part through forgeries. In the book Forged (2011), Dr Bart D. Ehrman shows how widely forgery was practiced by early Christian writers, and how Christianity also was condemned in the ancient world as fraudulent and illicit.

Christian forgery was condemned too.

Geza Vermes findings

Further, the Bible scholar Geza Vermes points out:

Fl. During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-8; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5-8). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Vermes 2012)

Take care not to infringe on teachings that are not for you, then. If for no other good reason, then out of respect for Jesus who is credited with saying it. It is not recommended for a non-Jew to call him Lord, Lord, and disrepect his teachings thereby - suggestedly just to follow suit in the wake of antiquity's sly forgeries and vagaries and follies and get a flock to get on in like another sheep. In the light of several sayings for self-molestations and so further in Matthew 5, it cannot be all bad to wake up from a deep sheep sleep toward getting healthy. Jesus is also credited with saying: "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!" [Matthew 12:12]

A word to the wise -

Wheel Should you find a wise critic to point out your faults, follow him as you would a guide to hidden treasure. [Dhammapada, v. 76, abr.]

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"Alleged Lord"?

An eye on Bible concepts

By "Alleged Lord" is meant a gestated figure in the Bible. The Bible says the Lord first was creating all, later his universal approach seemed to get narrowed into the designs or schemes "for all eternity" in the Old Testament - but many of these regulations did not last for long, no matter how watchful and heedful his eye was said to be.

Once the God of the Old Testament had a big-breasted consort in heaven, Asherah, and later she falls away from being regarded. The LORD-concept in the Bible is of the Bible, and may or may not have much in common with an ongoing Real Deal, for sure. So when concept of "the Lord" is used in the following, it is just the Bible's many concepts of "LORD" that are referred to. They are often very self-contradictory on the surface of it.

In the Bible are lots of self-contradictions put in the mouth of God too. The mishmash is found to promote various aims, whether they be of the Old or New Testament, or both, or whether they are used for décor. Suggestion: Where there is a whole lot of bigmouthed talk and many get subservient by it and others profit from them, enemies could be at work.

Big-breasted contradictions abound.

Unseasonable deals of Jesus

No matter what you think for or against a nasty cult who uses the Bible to dupe innocents, lots of innocents, you can still try to preserve the constancy and brightness within you through very swift and deep-going meditation, TM. It also helps to gain peaceful thriving first, and also to solidify truths and truthful dealings over and over. That is what public laws are for, ideally.

In this on-line book you are told what you may encounter if you enrol in a cult or sect, blinded by the neon-light facades against a dark desert background maybe, or just driven to it. Interestingly, Christianity started as a hard, tense and dangerous sect. Millions got executed, and many got martyrised in other ways too. Has Christianity become less marring since then? Perhaps a good reason there are Christians alive, is that they do not follow the injunctions of Jesus to the letter. They do not pluck out their eyes in front of the television screen, do they? They keep their possessions in the face of burglars and robbers, and do not turn the other cheek to fight all the nation's enemies, and so on. And since the teachings of Jesus are for Jews only (Matthew 15:24), feigning, mistaken non-Jewish followers have not really abandoned their natural rights to defend themselves and resist lots of evils from taking over.

Jesusians that are non-Jews, are they a bundle of imposters or not? They do not qualify for his gospel-teachings, and should be glad! They use teachings meant for Jews only, hoping to get lots of benefits by such mischief, but since they do not qualify - according to Jesus - they can go away from him and instead go for good, constructive deals that do not involve slavery and butchery of innocents that Jesus stood up for (Matthew 5:17-19). They are under no obligation to do all that Jesus-commanded evil to themselves and their next of kin either.

Most Christians are "Gentile followers", not Jewish, and got a laxer deal than Jews had got (Acts 15; 21:25). Four out of many alternative gospels were singled out, edited and added later, but sayings of Jesus in them are nowhere told to be imperative by a church decree agreed on by all the apostles and Ghost. What Jesus allegedly said in the four gospels is unreliable, far from accurate, and in part forged. (Cf. the later-added Missionary command at the end of Matthew). As far as we know, sayings of Jesus were put down in writing only long after Christianity was formed and Ghost made a lot of Gentiles Christians by falling on them, so to speak. Some things are essential in that "good ol' religion" of all the apostles and Ghost, but words of Jesus are later additions. Are these curious facts overlooked big time in the church today or not?

The good news is: Unless you are a Jew, you are not fit for the teachings of Jesus, or the other way round. For the common Christian (after the Apostolic Decree in Jerusalem, ca. 50 CE), there are less commands hanging over one's head - none from Jesus - and hence much less to fear. But blood food, wrangled chicken (choked animals) and adultery are bad for common Christians. It is found in Acts 15 and repeated in Acts 21:25. After all, there would not have been any Christianity without the apostles and Ghost that fell over them. They staked out the Church and its "rules of the game". There were only four requirements, and a Ghost to get on board. That is what Acts 15 says, in a nutshell.

What school we went to apparently determines many of our outlooks.

The Unfortunate Jesuist

Jesuists, Jesusists or Jesuans may be people who identify themselves as disciples of Jesus rather than Christians. There is no clear theology of Jesuism, Jesusism or Jesuanism [of course]. [WP, "Jesuism"]

I use the terms only for people who like to think they are disciples of Jesus, and seeking to "follow him" by the gospel words attributed to him and a too credulous faith in some of them. One may pity Jesuists for many reasons, after suspecting the "following Jesus" idea is much like a bubble. It may float in the air until it bursts:

First, Jesus said his words are for Jews only [Matthew 15:24]. If you say OK to that - it is in the Bible -, you have a foreskin problem if you have a foreskin. Two, if you convert to Judaism to be a follower of Jesus - why? There is the less difficult deal for Gentiles (caption above), with Holy Spirit included! Simply put: following Jesus of the Gospels is not being saved, but having the Spirit is. That is the New Testament's ace. Three, if you try to follow Jesus as a Jesusian, there may be easy "gang way out", but rather harsh commands, and his "Away from me," to hypocrites who say they do as he demands, without going all the way. He was not much for hypocrites, see.

As for Christians after the "Christian deal" in Acts 15, there is some vacillation as to what is allowed and not, what is required or not, and "all believe they are saved", even by common congregational agreements. The high hope is that a congregation has the authority to overrule the Apostolic Decree and such things. Such tactics can be be self-deceptive on a large scale. However, if you have got Ghost, put right with God even by having sex with your mate, as the apostle Paul is into (1 Corinthians ), these look like small problems. [Saved by sex, a gift]

Are there Jesusians among Christians today? Some think they have to obey Jesus as common Gentile followers (read: Christians). But Acts 15 disproves them. And there is another problem to tackle: Which words of Jesus in the gospels are really words of Jesus? Followers of Jesus (Jesusians) had better sort it out. After all, there are disagreements around. Which ones seem potent?

To get the least unlikely answers, the biblical scholar Geza Vermes (1924-2013) examined the known sayings attributed to Jesus (up till 2003 CE) and in his book, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus (2005), he scrutinised the Bible sayings attributed to Jesus, who by the way may have spoken Aramaic, since the gospels tell he grew up in what was an Aramaic-speaking tract. Vermes used the three first gospels as his main sources, since the gospel of John is a much later work than the three others and was written for a Hellenistic audience. And among the three first gospels, he regarded Mark to be prime source, as many other Bible scholars do too. Vermez sorted the sayings attributed to Jesus, sought to place them in a first century Jewish context, and got no evidence of verbatim quotations of Jesus.

There are also sayings attributed to Jesus from recently discovered gospels that did not make it to the Bible. Some such sayings are similar to sayings in the gospels, and some sayings are different. Which sayings are reliable, and which are spurious? That is hard to tell for biblical scholars. So what options are left to the poor Jesuist apart from guessing and getting stubborn about it? If there is no firm foundation of reliable, verbatim Jesus quotations around, why follow lots of the the unreliable mishmash in the gospels?

Note that according to John there are very hard words attributed to Jesus, hard teaching that drove most of his disciples away from him, until there were only a little fraction left. But the sixty disciples who left him, had first been sent out and healed the sick and proclaimed stuff. When they returned, Jesus said, "Nothing will harm you [Luke 10:17-20]." - "That was then and not now," the apostle Peter may have found when he was crucified upside down in Rome later.

Words of Jesus are not all universally valid, then. How often have followers thrown mountains into the sea on Jesus' word? In the gospels Jesus seems to promise such great powers to the right followers, and powers of prayer and of having the right Spirit on board. But millions of Christian martyrs learnt too late that said powers failed. Those glorious words about the power of prayer and the Spirit that should remind them of those glorious words - according to gospels - were perhaps not edited into glorious sayings, but mind Jesus said his words were for "Jews only" - or what [Matthew 15:24]? All in all, they might have been disappointed and/or mistaken when they were brutally killed.

I just point at a possibility of having misunderstood. Those who can throw mountains into the sea are the right ones to correct me if I am wrong.

The Jesuans could not be saved by having sex, or could they?

Most Jewish disciples left Jesus. The Spirit and the remaining apostles soon made Christianity a lot easier for non-Jews

Be that as it may, most of the seventy-two apostles of Jesus and his other disciples turned back and no longer followed him - they left Jesus for his hard teaching. "Who can accept it?" they grumbled. [John 6:60-66]

Make sure you get the better deal if there is a better choice than between the plague and cholera. The remaining twelve apostles and the Spirit went for the Apostolic Agreement without even a mention of Jesus and his commands in the "founding document" - very, very little was left of "following Jesus": Small wonder; he had said he came for Jews only and in the gospels insisted on the Law of Moses, that is a Law of Rules for such as Vicarious Sacrifices and Regulated Slavery. It is a set of rules with promises of good times for following those regulations, and some "or else. . ." if not. Not a bit was to be changed of the Regulations for Sacrificing innocents (animals) and holding slaves. What a shame! Jesus represented a hard deal, when you consider that slaves had first been robbed in so many ways, and then bullied, even to death. [WP, "Jesuism"]

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. Truly, till heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law till everything is accomplished. [Matthew 5:17-18]

All the apostles and the guiding Spirit cut through in 50 CE, some time after Jesus had been executed for causing trouble in town during a Passover. Was there smoke without fire? And were there any plausible reasons for calling him insane? Find out; see how diagnoses are made, and apply on Jesus. A little is here, and overwhelming conclusions: [A broad diagnosis of Jesus].

The remaining twelve apostles and the Spirit settled on four requirements for Gentile followers, with no Jesus sayings mentioned in particular (Acts 15). This is the Apostolic Decree, a foundation of the church for Christians. Hence, after Jesus had released the Spirit that descended on the apostles and others after his death, - according to the New Testament -, Christianity flourished without any gospels we know of. The seem to have been written later. According to the New Testament the apostles and earliest Christians had something vastly better, even though many ended up as martyrs with wrong notions that the end of the world was coming soon.

Today it seems that a lot of Christians think eating blood food during Christmas is as is meet and proper. If that is not a derailment from the Apostolic Decree, and adultery too, what is?

The queston that remains is: Is following Jesus a derailment for non-Jewish Christians also? (a). He said his words were for Jews only. He died for Jews, but largely in vain so far. He died in shame and God's sacrifice of him opened the way for the church in time so that millions of others came to be killed too. But all the apostles and the Ghost founded the church in Acts 15 without even mentioning Jesus in the letter to the Gentile followers. And if you would believe the apostles and their guiding Spirit were bad and impotent in founded the church as they did, and that the church has become better since, with added, edited and in part forged gospels and gospel sayings, that could indicate another series of problems.

If interested in essentials, stick to them, but wisely and well.

An overwhelmingly clear diagnosis counts.

Salvation proper, is it had by credulity alone?

"Don't believe all you hear," is folk wisdom. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is another. Accordingly, "Don't put all your basic trust in just one basket of faith and the like." Be versatile enough to avoid getting fooled or enslaved "by faith alone", for example.

Why should you avoid faith-given problems? Because there are many faiths, and all of them hardly help the soul as initially promised by glowing words and gestures. [More: WP, "Faith"]

In religion, salvation is primarily to be "put right with God" - and thus saving of the soul from sin and its consequences. That is "hope-lore"

One thing is what the New Testament says salvation is - God descending on humans. In Christianity, this basic feature is hardly highlighted, and hence salvation stands for such as "being saved from the power of evil", and "being delivered or redeemed from the power of sin and from the penalties following it". Definitions are many. Suppose true salvation is awakening to the Self and thus reaching great freedom? That is salvation to a Hindu. It implies "set free from the cycle of birth and death (samsara)" also. There are other facets of salvation in Hinduism, Jainism and other Indian religions. However, there are also regulated ways to get "there". Higher yoga, also called yoga-meditation, aims toward being set free, saved. (WP, "Salvation") [Soterial quotations]

Great freedom is free from the rounds of births and deaths (samsara) in such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

The art of living

In the church there came to be different opinions as to how to live the life - either to be likely to be saved or bear fruits fit for one's gift of salvation. Opinions on motives differ. That we are "saved by faith alone," is the Protestan faith, which is one of the three largest divisions of Christendom, together with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. On closer inspections the Protestant faiths contain differences. Protestant denominations reject the Roman Catholic doctrine that the bread and wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become in actual reality the body and blood of Christ. However, they also disagree among themselves on various issues. [WP, "Protestantism"]

"Pray and work" sums up the Catholic stand. Not just any prayers and not just any kind of work are meant by it. As you may know, there were long-lasting bloody, religions wars between Protestants and Catholics, until a stalemate or deadlock came about. If you think religious people are always loving and nice, think twice.

Christian unity, as advocated in a gospel, was lost if it ever was found. Disagreements among Christians started before the great schism between the Eastern and Western Catholics, between Catholics and Protestants and their long-lasting religious wars - and may be traced to some twenty gospel writers too. (There were that many gospels around, and Gnostics.

God of the Bible was for genocides

Why on earth band with a dangeros sacrificer? The Bible stresses fear him. Jesus says in the gospels he and his Father are one. Therefore fear and not come near - if you are of healthy mind, that is.

A mentally unhealthy fellow may turn to gangs that make further ill and insane. [Matthew 9:12-13]

God of the Bible is described in it as hateful, a times intent on indiscriminate killing of "both the righteous and the wicked" holocausts, massacres, regulated slavery, ritual sacrifices of innocent animals. There is a terrible victimisation of innocent animals who are slaughtered to let sinners go free one more year, on and on (Leviticus 16), and later sacrifice Jesus who did not seem to think he had done nothing particularly wrong. God's own in the first centuries CE were martyrised too.

The Bible also says that devoting things and persons to the God of the Bible was supposed to be an irrevocable giving over of them, often by totally destroying them [Exodus 22:20 - NIV note]. Savagery takes many forms. Not everything that is called holy is good and decent.

Why not try to do better than banding with baddies?

Slaughter is a big thing in the Bible.

A man who knows he is a living sacrifice is a victim

The Bible's God is not all right for sacrificing innocents. "You've lost that loving feeling" for other creatures if you jubilate over it, calling it the road to salvation. That could be the unhealthiness that makes you caught in the nets that were thrown over Gentiles to make many of them sacrifices.

"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy . . ." wrote Paul. [Rom 12:1; cf. Rom 3:25]

Even more pregnantly, In Acts 10,

the apostle Peter fell into a trance, saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. A voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." . . . "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." This happened three times.

Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision when the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you . . . I have sent them."

They were Gentiles - or treif (non-kosher, unclean) food from heaven, to "kill and eat" by letting the Ghost come on them - according to the vision and words and events. That is how Christianity was born - - the Holy Spirit was poured out on Gentiles so they spoke in tongues and the apostle Peter said, "They have received the Holy Spirit just as we." [Acts 10:10-47, extracts]

A Christian is allegedly "set apart", so that his life is no longer completely his own. He has lost something it would be wise to keep. About the nazirite Samuel in the Old Testament: "His whole life he will be given over to the Lord." [1 Samuel 1:11-3:19, abridged;]

But when Samuel died, he was conjured up from the ground, and not coming down from heaven. Here is a story of it.

Saul said, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her."

The woman asked him, "Whom shall I bring up for you?"

"Bring up Samuel," he said. Samuel had died by then.

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice, saying, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground." Saul knew it was Samuel. Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? . . . The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines."

At once Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear. [1 Samuel 28, extracts].

Samuel was down in the ground and not up in a castle in heaven in shining robes after being a sacrifice, a "soldier of the Lord" or something like that. It may or may not remind of the rabbi who said on his deathbed that there was something he regretted. "All my life I tried to be like Moses, but not myself," he said.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde plumbs downsides and facades of humans and being saved from harm, at least.

The serious issue of salvation and what sorts of salvation that suit us, may be summed up better by help of the Apannaka Sutta. [Four types of religions sorted out]

[More on the sombre sides of being "set apart"]

The delicate rabbi harm, being given over as a living sacrifice - mercy.

Guessing all right?

What can we say of Jesus in the Bible?

1. He sanctioned the Law of Slavery and victimisation (Sacrifice) of innocents. (Matthew 5:17-19)

2. He did not teach good folks to defend themselves against bad guys or robbers. To the contrary. (Matthew 5:39-42) He wanted the bad ones to be given houses, riches, and so on. That is a consequence of telling "turn the other cheek" and so on. Do not think Jesus was too stupid to take such further developments into account.

3. Luckily, his teachings (words) were for Jews only, he says in Matthew 15:24. Respect that and be free from stifling, uncalled-for mishmash.

Still, years, many decades and centuries after the apostles and the Spirit that Jesus had promised (in gospels) started Christianity in ca. 50 (Acts 15 describes it), some writers wrote stories and phrases ascribed to Jesus. Their versions do not always agree. Not in everything. That is strange, considering that they had been promised a Spirit of Truth to remember them of everything Jesus had said. Different versions are not all truthful - not all of them, and maybe none, theoretically speaking. Further, in addition to the four gospels in the Bible, there are many other gospels around from the early centuries. Some sayings are similar, and some not.

Which to choose? Make it simpe for yourself; seek to stick to a favourable lot "at the start, in the middle, and at the end", as Gautama Buddha specifies it. Why stand up and say that you follow Jesus when you disobey him on many harsh points, and do not show by miracles either that you are a genuine follower? Dragging words by Jesus for Jews into later Christianity bred plots, neuroses, led to cascades of victims and martyrs.

The sad fact is that many who thought they could do miracles on the word of Jesus for Jews only, failed. Some have drowned too, trying to walk on water, for example. The farce is better shown by this: Most prayers tend to go unanswered. Just check within fit time limits how many percent of a congregation's prayers go unanswered. The point is that adding inappropriate words for Jews only to gullible members of a Christian church gave rise to millions of martyrs, contrary to gospel promises that crept in or were added as a canon. They also thought the end of the world was close by, on the word of Jesus. They were wrong once again.

But who can trust in forgeries, divergent versions and much else among those who allegedly had got a reminding Spirit of Truth without bearing truth-fruits alone? There are forgeries in the four gospels among the later additions. The missionary command is a good example of forgery. [Joseph Wheless shows how]

If you cannot wave goodbye to low forms of religiousness, will a battered or mobilised credulity make for a better life and hereafter? Some doubt it.

Do not let unsound forgeries take a hold on you, or you risk being misled.

TO TOP

Scholarly, Finally

Geza Vermes, a bit modified photo by Sam Frost
Bible scholar Geza Vermes

The Catholic ◦Bible scholar Geza Vermes (1924–2013) was described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time. Part of his work was historical Jesus research, which enabled him to deduct about Jesus as a Jew among other Jews in Jewish history in the light of Jewish theology -, and to gauge gospels in such a light.

Also, when Vermes tried to find authentic gospel sayings of Jesus, it floundered. He shows how in a book (Vermes 2005). Vermes further concluded that Jesus did not reach out to non-Jews, and it stands out from the gospels.

The historical Jesus was very much different from the later-developed ideas of "Christ of faith", he also says, and shows how the sources describe Jesus differently, how the descriptions (appellations) of a once executed Jew got more and more glorious when he after decades and centuries was described by people who did not know him - which is a feeble basis. They developed a Christology about him that was much alien to the first gospels and Jewish theology and culture.

* Christology: a branch of theology concerned with the person, attributes, and deeds of "Christ" - a term that was blown out of proportions.

In a Nutshell

The following summary is for most part based on Vermes 2010, with a little basic information from his 2005 added.

Twig

The culprit

What is known about Jesus? Very little. His life is recounted in the four Gospels recorded between 40 and 80 years after his death. — The primary culprit is Jesus himself . . . as he wrote nothing, we have to rely on secondary evidence. (Vermes 2010:35) ["Secondary" is at best.]

Which sayings attributed to Jesus in the gospels are likely to be authentic? Can we distinguish with confidence between the doctrines shaped to the needs of the developing Christian church and its edited and partly forged gospels and the original views laid out by Jesus himself? Vermes shows in The Authentic Gospel of Jesus (2005) a way to approach the problem and not find no definitive answers anyhow: He goes to the oldest gospel of the four, and after sorting out the most plausible sayings, says it is futile to claim that the actual words in the Gospels represent any verbatim sayings of Jesus.

There we are. Vermes also points out that many of the sayings of Jesus make sense only in the perspective that the Kingdom of God was to come in his lifetime. Since that did not happen, changes were made to the gospels decades later to justify the delay by forgeries. "The religion of Jesus as summarised by Vermes is almost unrecognisable when compared with modern Christianity," one of the book reviewers has observed.

What a scholar points out, may go unrecognised for too long.

The message of Jesus is for Jews and according to the Law of Slavery

The texts are clear: the apostles of Jesus were ordered not to seek to persuade non-Jews. – Jesus' message, which was directed towards Jews alone, was centred on the Law of Moses. — He addressed his message to 'the house of Israel' alone and expressly forbade his disciples to approach non-Jews. (Vermes 2010:37; 41)

The Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of, was for Jews only - Gentiles would be excluded.

The Law that Jesus vouches for in Matthew 5:17-19, regulates slavery and many other untoward things, such as killing the false prophet when his prophesy does not come true, and a pregnant, unmarried mother "for not having screamed" when she was made pregnant under some conditions - [For sure, Jesus and his mother]

Close to God, a Jewish teacher, worker of miracles and not divine?

Did Jesus think that he was of divine nature? — The phrase 'son of God' was current among Jews and was synonymous with 'son of Israel' or 'a Jew very close to God'. (Vermes 2010:38)

Church tradition tended to attribute the maximum of significance to the honorific titles applied to Jesus by the evangelists. [But] Jesus always forbade his disciples to proclaim him the Messiah. Further, the title 'Lord', Kyrios in Greek, pointed to the emperor. (Vermes 2010:56)

What did the Galileans imply when they addressed Jesus as 'Lord', or Mar in Aramaic? The title could refer to a variety of persons: to a secular dignitary, to the head of the family, to an authoritative teacher, to a prophet and to a miracle-worker. (Vermes 2010:57)

There was no Jewish emperor.

"Son of God" showed being favoured

The appellation 'Son of God' in the Hellenistic world was the title of the deified Roman emperor and synonymous with God in early Christianity, but it "is nowhere attested in that sense in Judaism." It is, however, capable of carrying at least five other meanings. It can designate an angel in the superhuman world. In the terrestrial domain, each Jew was entitled to call himself 'son of God' . . . . But in the post-exilic age only the Jews "whose heart was circumcised" and filled with Holy Spirit were allotted that name. It was used metaphorically as the son of the living God. Some charismatic contemporaries of Jesus were referred to as sons of God as well. Further, in Jewish parlance 'son of God' implies divine favour rather than the sharing of the divine nature. (Vermes 2010:57; 58, passim)

The Messiah was known also as a 'Son of God', the title of the Jewish king in biblical times, but it was never taken by Jews in the literal sense. The claim that Jesus was also a political Messiah is unfounded. If he had been condemned as an enemy of the state, his followers, too, would have been attacked by the Romans, but they were not. (Vermes 2010:45)

"Son of parlance" and "Son of God" often means the same, but without any direct sonship.

The provo executed

Why was Jesus executed? Because he did the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time. The wrong thing was the affray he created in the merchants' quarter in the Temple. The wrong place was the Temple itself where enormous crowds assembled, forming a potential hotbed of revolution. The wrong time was the week before Passover, when multitudes of pilgrims turned Jerusalem into chaos at the Feast of Liberation. Jesus further "displayed before the priestly authorities" "a provocative attitude" — In short, Jesus died. (Vermes 2010:24; 38; 45-46 passim.)

A tragic Passover feast - an omen of Easter joy to come.

Such people, such deification

Jesus' deification was progressive. The first Jesus, the Jesus of the Synoptics, was a healer and a teacher. In the Acts of the Apostles he was a prophet, Lord and Messiah. . . . Finally, the Gospel of John written between 100 and 110 CE, . . . turned him into a supernatural being, the eternal Word of God, a stranger from heaven. (Vermes 2010:38; 39)

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke . . . are not perfect sources as they have been retouched by a doctrinal brush. — Mark (composed c. 70 CE), Matthew and Luke (between 80-100 CE) reflect considerably older traditions though These Gospels do not depict Jesus as divine; on the contrary, he is even quoted there as objecting to be called good. — He was not meek and mild. He could be impatient and angry. (Vermes 2010:45: 20; 46; 163)

The essence of the Jesus story is recorded in Mark, the earliest of the Gospels. — The four Gospels, written between some 15 to 55 years after Paul, in the form of biographies, formulate Jesus' teaching adapted for the needs of the early church. (Vermes 2010:41; 53)

Jesus was not the only charismatic of his age. Some of his fellow saints [Honi and Hanina ben Dosa] were also famous for their miraculous powers. They were reputed to have brought rain and prevented famine, cured the sick and kept the demons under control. Like Jesus, they were revered as latter-day prophet Elijahs. (Vermes 2010:22)

The depicted Jesus: angry, behaving badly. And Jesus said he did not come to herd morally sound persons as if they were sheep, because they had sinned too much to remain healthy. By the way, meeting angry demons might be a sign of having behaved badly (A big, tantric lesson in the Tibetan Book of the Dead).

It took off

By the end of the first century, Christianity had lost sight of the real, badly behaving Jesus and of the original meaning of his message. Paul, John and their churches replaced him by the Christ of faith . . . Within decades the message of the historical Jesus was transferred from its Aramaic-Hebrew linguistic context . . . to the primarily Greek-speaking pagan Mediterranean world . . . As a result, the new church, by then mostly Gentile, soon lost awareness of being Jewish; indeed, it became progressively anti-Jewish. . . . Jesus, the charismatic religious Jew, was metamorphosed into the transcendent object of the Christian faith (Vermes 2010:30-31)

During the second and third centuries, the leading teachers of the church, trained in Greek philosophy, such as Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement, Origen and Athanasius of Alexandria, substituted for the existential manifesto of Jesus advocating repentance and submission to God a programme steeped in metaphysical speculation on the nature and person of the incarnate Word of God and on the mutual tie between the divine persons of the Most Holy Trinity [as] there was no longer any Jewish voice in Christendom to sound the alarm. (Vermes 2010:31)

Within a relatively short period no Jew was able to find acceptable the new encultured doctrines of Jesus presented by the church. . . . Thereafter the growing anti-Judaism of the church further distanced Christian culture from the world of Jesus. (Vermes 2010:32)

That Jesus was a Jew means not only that he was born into the Jewish people, but that his religion, his culture, his psychology, and his mode of thinking and teaching were all Jewish. (Vermes 2010:33)

When by the mid-second century Jesus failed to return, Jewish Christianity progressively faded away, while St Paul's Gentile church survived and after Constantine set out to flourish – albeit in a form that I believe would have perplexed Jesus the Jew. (Vermes 2010:58)

The church soon distanced Christian culture from the world of Jesus and other Jews.

Interesting folklore stories in the gospels?

The account of Jesus' birth is missing entirely from the Gospels of Mark and John, and appears in a radically different form in Luke, where there is no mention of a star, wise men or Herod, nor of the murder of the innocents and Jesus' escape to Egypt. (Vermes 2010:84)

Matthew's Gospel was written in about 80-90 CE for Christians who were not of Jewish provenance. Vermes finds that a contemporary of Matthew, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100 CE), reports, and later rabbinic literature confirms, a folk tale which was in circulation in New Testament times. It relates to the birth of Moses and his miraculous escape from the hands of Pharaoh of Egypt. (Vermes 2010:84, 85)

Matthew's account of the Nativity – the basis of all Christmas celebrations – appears in a quite different light when it is considered as the product of a particular Jewish linguistic, literary and religious context (Vermes 2010:87).

The doctrine of the miraculous conception and birth of a God-man was based on a remarkable mistranslation into Greek – willful or otherwise – of Isaiah's original, quite specific Hebrew words. As for the episode of the massacre of the innocents and escape to Egypt, its similarity to the rabbinic story of the birth of Moses is so striking that it hardly can be attributed to coincidence. In both we find dreams, a murderous king advised by interpreters of sacred writings, and the frustration by divine intervention of wicked plans. (Vermes 2010:87)

The awesomely influential Nativity story in the first book of the New Testament is a speculative, rather than a historical text . . . an amalgam of flawed Greek-Christian scriptural references, and of 'birth tales' current in Judaism in the first century CE. The story with which we are all so familiar is not fact, but folklore, Vermes holds. (2010:87)

Tales told for folks to believe in, may not be true. It should pay to check carefully. Scholars try to.

Common Buddhism

Buddhists are taught to be steadily kind somehow. There is a meditation way for it. That is different from sacrificing lots of animals.

Gautama Buddha taught that to overcome dukkha, stress, suffering, etc., Great Awakening is the one thing. Attaining Great Awakening (maha-bodhi), Buddha realised that one can attain that supreme state by meditation and living normally or well. He etched out a common path (arya-marga) for all of it, and crowned by spiritual Awakening. [The Gentle Middle Way]

The prime moral code of Buddhism contains these five "Kill not, Steal not, indulge not in Harmful Sexual Conduct, Lie not, and do not Intoxicate oneself with stupefying drugs or liquor." The are deeply related to ancient Egyptian moral, as seen in the the Maat confessions, and the much later Ten Commandments of Egypt-raised Moses, if the Bible has got it right.

Buddha, further, discourages dogmatic credulity. He taught that parents are to have their children educated, and also that one should not gullibly believe anything spoken by any sages, written in any scriptures, or affirmed by any traditions, if it does not accord with sound, proper testing and good reason. [Kalama Sutta]

Buddhists throughout the world generally agree on these issues. [◦See Dharma Fellowship: "A Statement of Universal Buddhism", 2005-2015]

Much in Buddhism is fit for self-help too.

Contents


Christianity Scrutiny, Literature  

You may find many of the good points above enlarged on in one or several of the following, selected books. Ehrman books have got a wide reading, and he himself a solid reputation as a Bible scholar. (It's a tip)

Black, David Alan, and David S. Dockery, eds. New Testament Criticism and Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991.

Burkett, Delbert, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Jesus. Chichester, West Sussex, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Ehrman, Bart D. Forged: Writing in the Name of God: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Ehrman, Bart D. How Jesus became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne, 2014.

Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them). New York: HarperCollings, 2009.

Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It into the New Testament. London: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Ehrman, Bart D. Studies in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. Paperback ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Friedman, Richard E. Who Wrote the Bible? New York. Summit, 1987.

Hurtado, Larry W. How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus. Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2005.

Manser, Martin H., main ed. Classical and Biblical Allusions. New York: Facts On File, 2003.

McKenzie, Steven L. How to Read the Bible: History, Prophecy, Literature – Why Modern Readers Need to Know the Difference, and What It Means for Faith Today. London: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Stewart, Robert B. The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart D. Ehrman and Daniel B. Wallace in Dialogue. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011.

Van Voorst, Robert E. Jesus outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2000.

Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2005.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

West, Martin L. Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique Applicable to Greek and Latin Texts. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1973.

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