Friday, November 11, 2005

Jesus not the "Messiah"

The idea of the "Messiah" was a strong, powerful, and influential superstition among the Hebrew people. Historically, a few fanatics and cultists have even claimed to have been the "Messiah." The guy named Sabbatai Zevi made this claim around 1666, for example. Similar claims were made for, and by, Isaac Luria (died 1572), and many others.

The "brand" of this superstition that was popular aroung the first century, during the time of Jesus, was this: The "Messiah" would be a very bloody and violent general in the Jewish army that would slaughter and massacre hundreds of thousands of Romans and others to get independent political sovereignty for Israel.

Jesus was, in stunning contrast, a man of total peace, who recommended that we "love" our "enemies." He never made the claim to have been this "Messiah." Still, many made the claim later. To understand why this is so, we must understand two facts: 1) The writers of the Christian Scriptures were Jews, some of whom were still responding to, and
believing in, the old Jewish order, despite the Christian and mystical revelation; and 2) Many later writers made additions to, and subtractions from, the original ancient writings that became the "Bible."

This was deemed to be perfectly "moral," although it was "lying," as long as it presented the "truth." In an effort to present their interpretation of "truth," these basically honest people made emendations, corrections, and additions to the Christian Scriptures. They added and deleted when it seemed right to them. The ancient documents passed through many, many hands. So, even if Jesus did not say something, it was "okay" to quote him as having said it, as long as it was "the truth."

So, in a short time, a new superstition was added to the historical one about the "Messiah." That secondary superstition was that Jesus himself was the long-awaited "Messiah." This concept became very strongly rooted in the new Christian community at an early time, certainly before 200 CE.

To understand early Christians, we must look at the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Among the Christians of the first two centuries, two conflicting groups arose: 1) Those who wanted to present, and reinterpret, all Christianity as a variant, or evolution, of Judaism; and 2) The majority, including gnostics, who wanted to sever all ties
with Judaism, and who stated that the Christian God was nothing like the antique, archaic, human-formed Jehovah. Christians, they said, did not worship that old god, and these Christians went so far as completely to dispose of the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament"). These texts, they correctly argued, had been written for members of a different religion, who worshiped a different god.

The "Judaizers" were the ones who wanted to remake the new religion into a facellift, and correction, or evolution, of Judaism. These were the ones who, in the first century, argued against Paul that Christians should observe the traditional festivals, holy days, sabbath, circumcision, and other Jewish religious practices. The Judaizers lost the battle, as Paul demonstrated clearly that Christianity was not an outgrowth of Judaism, but a completely new religion. History has proved this to be true, and shown that the Judaizers were wrong. For Christianity has different teachings, an entirely different Bible, and a different god from Judaism.

Still, in the start of the new religion, there was enough confusion that most early Christian writers among the orthodox assumed that the god of ancient Judaism was indeed the same God known by Christians. This was only one of several serious errors that crept into "official" or "orthodox" Christianity. (This was the Christianity of the Catholic
Church.) Also, the Church officially adopted select teachings of the Jews, including the superstition-- an attempt to blend Judaism and Christianity-- that Jesus was the Messiah.

The teachings about the "Messiah" were Jewish, not Christian, teachings. So, it only makes good sense to go to the Jews, who are the real experts on their own teachings, and ask them. Every single orthodox Jewish writer who has ever written on the subject denies that Jesus was the "Messiah."

So, the experts have spoken. We need to respect, and not simply ignore, the voices of these professional religious people, for they know much, much more about Judaism than any Christian!

People of the Christian tradition are still woefully ignorant of the relationships between Judaism and Christianity. They often speak as if Jesus were an official "rabbi," and this demonstrates their terrible ignorance. For they are dead-wrong. For Jesus was never appointed a "rabbi" by the official religious establishment of his time. In fact,
the word "rabbi" was not even used in the first century, so that would be an anachronism!

Also, many Christians, in total absence of a good education in history, speak as if they actually believe that Christianity was a peaceful outgrowth of Judaism, a form of Judaism. This they do because they are ignorantly convinced, but not by reason, that the god of the Hebrew Scriptures is also the God of Jesus. What they conveniently forget, however, is that the loyal people of Jehovah, the Hebrew god, including their scholars, were the ones who plotted the murder of Jesus! And, during the first two centuries, Jews and Christians were deadly enemies! Judaism tried to extinguish Christianity!

The modern person, of course, cannot defend anti-Semitic bigotry on this basis. That is evil and sinful no matter how it might be "dressed up." All bigotry is hateful and antiagapic (against Love). But we must recognize the historical fact that Christianity split off from Judaism. Why? One important reason is that Christianity began as a mystical faith, and Judaism was a legalistic religion. Then as now, the two did not mix. But even more importantly, the transcendental and "separate" Jehovah was incompatible with the God that was "within."

Since they are nonmystical, with a couple of exceptions, the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament") are not widely used by mystics today. Certainly, in enlightenment, we abandon not only the destructive Jehovah-myth, but the plethora of ignorant superstitions that often come with it. The idea of a historical person who will be a "Messiah" to the
Jewish people is among these. The mystic simply has no need for any "middle man" standing between herself and her God, Who is Love.

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