August 12, 2007 Jesus
Although of a more universal nature, the quest for truth continued in my reading. The Mystery of Jesus and Beyond Belief have given me much to think about and contemplate.
Was Jesus a real person? What of the bible can be backed up by historical fact and what appears to be fiction? The arguments I read are very detailed and very convincing. I could right a book about the books I just read! Perhaps I will do that later, but for now I would like to theorize about Jesus. Taking into consideration the recent book The Jesus Tomb and the novelization of Mary Magdalene by Ki Longfellow—here is my proposition.
Mary was young and unmarried, but perhaps not an actual virgin. Joseph may or may not have been Jesus’ biological father. It may have been simply that Joseph and Mary conceived outside of a legal marriage. Jesus’ manger birth at Bethlehem seems to have been fictionalized in order to fit the earlier prophesy. The taxation and King Harod do not fit the given timeline.
There does seem to be evidence that Jesus spent a long period of time in Egypt. It is possible he learned magic or at least mysticism from the priests there. After a huge hole in his life story, Jesus returned to see his cousin John the Baptist. John the Baptist is associated with the Essences. Thus Jesus was probably influenced by them and may have even spent some time as a Monk among them.
The question then becomes was he the actual messiah? It appears as if he accepted the role, but wasn’t necessarily born into it. It could have been John the Baptist or anyone else. Jesus was special and unique in many ways, but I do not put much stoke in the hype surrounding the idea of a savior. Jesus taught of nonviolence and love. He was divine, but preached that we all the ability to experience God. We all had the potential for greatness. The Jewish Messiah was often envisioned as a great warrior. This clashed with the message that Jesus was trying to convey. So how was he to fulfill the role of messiah without leading an army to war? He knew he had to find another way to be our savior, so he chose to sacrifice himself. He chose to try and convey the idea of death and rebirth be enacting it a most dramatic way. It is as much a symbolic act as a literal one.The problem or flaw in an otherwise perfect plan is that of subjective truth. Each of his disciples interpreted his teaching differently. They argued and squabbled over what was right or who was more loved. Jesus was a patient teacher who settled many arguments during his brief time traveling and teaching.
Peter or Simon Peter was often considered to be Jesus’ successor, yet Judas was special as well. Although Judas betrayed Jesus, he seemed to being doing so under Jesus’ command. Judas understood things that the others did not.
Mary Magdalene was not considered an actual disciple, but appears as if she was the most beloved of Jesus. Reading about the Jesus family tomb supports the rumors that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. When they married is difficult to concern. It may have been in the two year that they traveled together. It may have been after his resurrection—assuming he didn’t actually physically die. Perhaps Jesus just went into hiding and moved to France with Mary and his family!
The tomb suggests that Judas Thomas was his son and not a brother or friend. They theorize that Thomas kept his family ties a secret so that his family would be safe. He didn’t want the Jewish or Roman officials trying to kill his wife and kids.
Legend has it that Mary Magdalene moved to France and bore Jesus a daughter. Their daughter is the Holy Grail according to some. However, if the tomb is authentic then Mary was buried with her husband, son and in-laws. Did Mary Magdalene leave behind a daughter in France before returning to her home land to die? There is no direct evidence, but it would make sense. If Mary and Jesus married and had a son, why couldn’t they have had other children as well?
Judas Thomas may be the author of The Gospel of Thomas. Could Jesus’ son have been the one to prove his father’s words and intentions on paper? Perhaps.
The Gospel of John has drawn a lot of attention as well. John is connected to Thomas in some way. They use similar language and convey a similar message. Could John be a relative of Jesus as well? Perhaps the Gospel of John was written by a brother, cousin or nephew of Jesus himself? Maybe John who wrote the Gospel was also part of the Essences or received the same sort of schooling the Jesus did at least.
And what of the Apostle Paul? One book, The Mystery of Jesus, concluded that Jesus and Paul were one in the same. It hinges on the idea that Jesus took an assumed identity after his so-called death. Of course it could be true, but I do not personally believe it. The Apostle Paul has a similar past to Jesus, yet his tone and message are different. He was a friend of the Apostle Luke apparently, but never personally met Jesus himself. Again, I think Paul perhaps shared a connection to Jesus in some way. Maybe they did meet after Jesus’ resurrection or maybe they simply shared relatives. In any case, I get the feeling that Paul was out to make amends. He wanted to clear Jesus’ name, creating meaning out of his surprising death. It was if he had some personal stake in convincing everyone of Jesus’ divinity.
It is difficult for me to reconcile the gentle, patient, kind and nonviolent Jesus with the impatient and often bitter Paul. Paul is quick to discredit women and focus solely on his message—namely that Jesus died for our sins as our lord and savior. Paul’s interpretation is one that Ireneaus and Constantine monopolized on years later. Is that what Jesus and God had intended upon? Was the intuition of the church, the unifying of ideas the goal all along? Or did Jesus simply seek to free us from the strict laws of Judaism and corrupt government? Christian Orthodoxy promotes obedience and unquestioning fellowship, yet Jesus sought to overturn the powers that be during his brief time. Although he did not rule a kingdom or sit on a throne, he proved powerful enough to unnerve those in control of Jerusalem. He created a stir, yet did not shed blood. He broke the rules and was punished for standing up to those who opposed him. Because he was special this was then acceptable, but those who tried to succeed him were prosecuted. Too many people tried to mimic him and this created a Christianity where obedience is enforced. Jesus was the exception to the rule if you believe Christian Orthodox thinking.
I understand that too much of the Holy Spirit and too many Rapture and too many Prophecies can be confusing and chaotic. The need to unify and protect one’s charges is understandable. Elaine Pagles, who wrote Beyond Belief, makes Bishop Ireneaus somewhat sympathetic, yet he still suppressed many important texts and resorted to the threat of Hell to get people to behave. I do not agree with his methods. I do understand how personal power and direct contact with God can prove difficult to guide, lead and protect. In the end Ireneaus and Constantine did little more than throw a lid on a boiling pot. Control was maintained for a long time, but it never solved the original arguments, debates and disagreements. The Unified Catholic Church was first split between the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox. Eventually Luther came along. Then many years later, the Protestants split into many tiny sects. In America it is possible to live in a small town and come across 10-25 churches in that community alone! Each denomination preaches only a slightly different version of the bible. Every time there is a disagreement, someone goes off and starts their own church. Christianity has infinite varieties on the same few themes. Are they any better for having tried to unify nearly 2,000 years ago?
And now that Gnostic Gospels and other texts have come to light. The Heretics have their say. Now people can choose their truth—a truth that has seeped through the cracks over the years, the truth that was once considered a huge secret. It is now a choice, a personal matter, rather than a political choice. Now wonder if we really wanted to know, if we are really ready for the responsibility.