Jesus, Mary and Da'Vinci

by Sentinel 35 Replies latest jw friends

  • Sentinel

    All of your input has made my thread lots more interesting. Thanks everyone!!

    The thing I always remember, is that the "truth" is not just right in front of your eyes, it's something you have to search for. And the path to the "truth" is not easy to stay on either. The Bible has been "right out there" for so long, but is it the real truth? I don't think so. It is some good and interesting reading, and maybe inside, there are some truths,--no doubt, some inspiring guidance; but I cannot accept it as "the word of god". There is just too much missing.

    Perhaps Jesus was not married. Perhaps Mary Magdelen had an obsessive type of attachment to him. Then again?? It really does not sound any more "untrue" than the Bible, and in fact, in many ways, much more feasible. In looking into anything like this--so radical--one must keep an open mind, but look for the good and leave the rest. I am presently deep into one of the three books I ordered from Amazon, and it's definitely not a disappoint.

    We have to remember why the Bible was put together, who put it together, and then things begin to fall into place. It's all about control of masses of people--and NOT by "god".

  • Tatiana

    Thanks Sentinel.....This thread brought up a lot of good points. I'm still trying to decide what to believe, and what NOT to believe.

    I have another book that may provide some interesting reading...

    The Harlot by the Side of the Road...Forbidden Tales of the BIble. By Jonathan Kirsch

    Some excerpts.....

    The Forbidden Bible....."The stories that are retold here will come as a surprise to many readers precisely because, over the centuries, they have been surpressed by rabbis, priests, and ministers uncomfortable with the candor of the biblical storytellers about human conduct, sexual or otherwise. At times, the instruments of censorship have been subtle and even devious, and that's why even regular church- and synagogue-goers may not know these stories, bold and blunt as they are, can be found in the original text of the Bible."

    Who Really Wrote the Bible?

    For some true believers today, the bible is the Revealed Word of God, and nothing else need be said about its authorship. For other believers, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible were conveyed in their entirety 'from the mouth of God to the hand of Moses,' according to the prayerful words still recited in synagogues today. The remaining sacred books of the Bible, according to tradition, were authored by various prophets and kings: Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. King Solomon wrote the Song of Songs; David wrote the Psalms; ans so on.

    A century of modern Bible schlarship suggests otherwise.

    Today, the bIble is regarded by most scholars and critics as a patchwork of legend, lore, and law that was created over a thousand years or so in distant antiquity by countless unknown chroniclers and lawgivers and storytellers, collected and compiled and corrected by generation after generation of editors, (or redactors), and canonized by the ancient rabbis only toward the end of the Biblical era. Thus, even if we regard what we find in the BIble as divinely inspired, the words themselves were spoken aloud by human voices and set down in writing by human hands. What's more, the creation of the bible as envisioned by contemporary scholarship is hardly less miraculous than the account embraced by orthodox believers of various faiths.

    "We are invited to imagine the ancients at some distant and irretrievable moment in history: they have remembered and passed down their sacred stories from generation to generation, but only in the form of songs and poems commited to memory. Some of these stories are so old that no one remembers when or why they were first told; some are borrowed from the faith and folklore of travelers and sojourners, allies and enemies, invaders and conquerors; some are concocted by bards whose motives are not much different from those of Homer or Shakespeare, Mark Twain or Rudyard Kipling."

    "Over the centuries, the storytelling traditions were expanded and elaborated upon by priests and scribes whose goal was to formulate the stories and make them fit into the official faith of ancient Israel. The priests themselves promulgated law codes and prescribed elaborate rituals for high holy days and day-to-day life. At the same time, the archivists and chroniclers in service to the early monarchs began to write down official accounts of royal births and deaths, victories and defeats in wartime, international trade and treaties in peacetime. Then, in times of crisis, along came the seers and sermonizers whom we call Prophets, and thier visions and scoldings and exhortations were added to the sacred literature of ancient Israel."

    "Over the span of several centuries, starting around 1000 B.C.E., and ending sometime after 200 B.C.E., all of these many strands of storytelling, poetry and song, sacred law, priestly ritual, and court history were wrotten down, gathered up, stitched together, and offered to the people of ancient Israel and their posterity in the form of the book that we know as the Bible. Today, the end product of a process that began in antiquity is still regarded by three religions as Holy Writ, and with no less fervor than at any earlier time in the Bible's long history."

    A partial review of his book.....

    Demonstrating meticulous research and an enticing style, Kirsch recounts the rape of Dinah, in which the seducer of Jacob's daughter, along with 300 of his men, are circumcised and then murdered when they are too weak from their surgery to run; the seduction of Judah by his daughter-in-law Tamar; and the murder of Uriah by David, in order that David may have Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. Along the way, Kirsch comments perceptively on the implications of numerous instances of what he calls the "gyno-sadism" of the Bible--women being raped, gang-raped, and murdered. Along with excerpts from the Holy Scriptures according to Maoretic Text, Kirsch retells the stories, places them in the context of the time, and thoroughly addresses levels of meaning for both the ancient and modern readers. Fascinating reading. --Ilene Cooper

    (Excuse any mistakes...I typed it myself. No copy and paste)

    And after alll my double-checking...I spell Sentinel's name wrong!!!)DUH

  • Leolaia

    This summer I was at someone's house and when he heard of my interest in the Bible, he asked me what I thought about Mary Magdalene and he got out the Da Vinci Code and asked me to take a look at it. I had never read it before, and so I read two pages and those two pages contained so many historical inaccuracies and half-truths that I was really stunned, and I told him that the book does not appear to be very reliable, at least as far as the history of the early Church was concerned.

    When we look at the canonical Gospel narratives, it is true that Mary is never presented as a prostitute. This view results from conflating the different female personalities in the Gospels with Mary, particularly the adulterous woman mentioned in the pericope in John 7:53-8:11. This pericope however is not original to John and most Bibles have it offset from the rest of the text to suggest its dubiousness. There is also an interesting story behind this narrative. The long version of the story in this interpolation to John is itself a conflation of two earlier, shorter stories of the incident that circulated in the first two centuries of the church. These stories about a woman "with many sins" is attested in the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Didascalia Apostolorum, the text of the Codex Bezae, and by Papias (tho his work is now lost), and these sources show that the accusation of adultery was not explicit earlier on. In none of these stories however was this repentent woman identified with Mary Magdalene.

    The earliest mainstream Christian traditions about Mary show her as greatly devoted to Jesus....she was one of the few there with Jesus at the cross (when all the other male apostles fled in fear) and she was honored with being one of the first witnesses of the risen Christ and being the discoverer of the Empty Tomb (Mk. 15:40, 16:1-8; Mt. 28:1-10). This is the first hint of division between the Eastern synoptic tradition and that of Pauline Christianity. Paul nowhere mentions Mary and he made Peter the one who first saw the risen Christ (1 Cor. 15:5). Paul's tradition is one that gives Peter precedence over Mary. But many in the mainstream church also continued to view Mary in high esteem. The late II. cent. writer Hippolytus tells a post-resurrection story in which the risen Christ makes a special appearance to the male disciples to tell them they are to accept and revere the women's witness to the resurrection: "Truly it is I who appeared to the women and who desired to send them to you as apostles." Thus Hippolytus calls Mary "the apostle to the apostles." The status of Mary as an apostle is suggested by the mention of other female apostles in early Christian writings, such as of Junia (Rom. 16:7). However the male-centered Church of the II. cent. downplayed Mary's status, encouraged her misidentification as a prostitute, and downplayed the significance of women in general.

    The catholic Church drew mostly on the Pauline, Petrine, and Johannine traditions in Gentile Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy. The churches in these areas mostly appealed to the authority of Peter, Paul, and John. Thus, the importance of Peter as the first to see the risen Christ. Christians living in Syria, Judea, and Egypt drew from a very different sort of traditions. The synoptic Gospel tradition, which probably originated in Syria (Antioch specifically), gave Mary the honor of first seeing Jesus and discovering the empty tomb. In these areas, Mary, Thomas, and James the Just (Jesus' brother, and leader of the Jerusalem church) were viewed as the authoritative figures, while Peter was explicitly not. The Gospel of Thomas originated in Syria, and has some very telling things to say about Peter, Mary, Thomas, and James the Just. There is, for instance, the story of Jesus asking his disciples who they think he is. In the synoptics (Mark 8:27-30, Mt. 16:13-20, Lk. 9:18-22), Peter alone has the right answer in confessing Jesus as the Christ. In the Mt. version, Jesus in fact blesses Peter, tells him he is the rock he will build his church, and says "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." But in the Gospel of Thomas version of the story (GThom 13), Peter has the WRONG answer and he merely says to Jesus: "You are like a righteous angel." Instead, it is Thomas who got the right answer and was given special privilege by Jesus to know some secret wisdom. In another verse, James the Just and not Peter is given as the leader of the Church: "The disciples said to Jesus, 'We know you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?' Jesus said to them, 'Where ever you are, you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.' " (GThom 12). Unlike the Gentile church where Peter was viewed as the authoritative leader, in the Jewish-Christian church of Syria and Judea, James the Just was viewed as the "leader". As for Mary, she is viewed on par with the other disciples. She asks Jesus questions like the other apostles (GThom 21) and Jesus rejects Peter's sexist charge to make Mary leave them: "Simon Peter said to them: 'Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.' Jesus said: 'I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males.' " (GThom 114). This again shows that in the East, Peter was the one who was believed to be out of line.

    The gnostic Gospel of Mary, which circulated along with GThom in the Egyptian Church, makes this acrimony between Peter and Mary very explicit -- with Peter rejecting Mary's authority and revelation from Jesus, and himself misunderstanding the meaning of Jesus' words. There is a very political aim to this. This was a means for the Egyptian gnostic church to assert their own special authority and to invalidate the claims of the mainstream catholic Church. And it isn't just Mary who was specially revered in the East as well. Salome appears quite conspicuously as another prominent female in Jesus' ministry. In the canonical gospels, Salome is only mentioned twice -- as a close associate of Mary, a witness of the crucifixion and the risen Christ. But in the Eastern tradition she is a significant figure in the gospel traditions. In the Gospel of Thomas, Salome has a conversation with Jesus about who he really is (GThom 61). In the Gospel according to the Egyptians, as cited by Clement of Alexandria, Salome has several conversations with Jesus:

    "When Salome asked, 'How long will death maintain its power?' the Lord said, 'As long as you women bear children.' Then Salome said, 'I have done well then in not bearing children.' Wherefore the Lord answered, 'Eat every plant, but that which has bitterness eat not.' " (GEgy 1, 4)

    "When Salome asked when what she had inquired about would be known, the Lord said, 'When you have trampled on the garment of shame and when the two become one and the male with the female is neither male or female.' " (GEgy 5)

    This last statement is reminiscent of what Jesus said in the GThom about Mary Magdalene, and it is also quoted in the mainstream church in the mid-II. cent. tract of 2 Clem. 5:1 of something that "the Lord himself said when asked by a certain person when his kingdom should come." And Salome appears again enigmatically in the Secret Gospel of Mark, quoted in a letter by Clement of Alexandria (early III. cent.): "And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them" (SecMk. 10:46). Again this is another gospel used in Egypt, but of central importance because our own canonical Gospel of Mark is most likely an abridged version of Secret Mark (the original version of Mark was used by the authors of Mt. and Lk. and many of the things they omit from our canonical Mk. are found right in Secret Mark). The Pistis Sophia is another early Gnostic document that centers on Mary and Salome. All this shows that in the East (Syria, Judea, Egypt), Mary and Salome were important figures in the tradition while in the West Gentile churches, these women were downplayed. Luke's Acts of the Apostles, for instance, does not mention Mary Magdalene at all, despite her importance as the first witness of the risen Christ. The catholic Church of the II. cent. thus tried to downplay Mary's role and authority to some extent, while the "heretical" Eastern churches in Syria and Egypt seized upon her special status and used that to undermine the mainstream church's claim to authority through Peter and the male apostles.

    The big question tho is: Did Mary actually have a relationship with Jesus? That is clearly implied in the gnostic Gospel of Mary....but it is not clear whether this tradition is historical or not. Another interesting fact is Hippolytus' designation of Mary as the New Eve. This makes her the counterpart of Jesus as the New Adam. And what is more tantalizing is that his discussion of Mary Magdalene is in the context of a commentary on the Song of Solomon, a very decidedly "romantic" text. So is this a view of Mary Magdalene as the romantic counterpart of Jesus expressed within even the mainstream II.-cent. catholic Church, or was Hippolytus merely making a figurative comparison without literally meaning that Jesus and Mary had a relationship? I don't think it is possible to answer this question, with the evidence at hand. It is too slight. It is not until we get to medieval French tradition which conflates Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany that we find Mary as the married wife of Jesus with children....but that is far, far too late to be of any historical value.

    Leolaia (sorry for the long post!!)

  • Sentinel

    This comes to me, after reading the comments here.

    If one is a total bible believing person, one who thinks it is the words of the divine for us to live by, then one is extremely narrowminded in my opinion. But this is just my opinion. I consider JW's to be in a class of very narrowminded people for the most part, but this is their choice.

    The bible is a conglomerant of a variety of books-poetry-essays-premanitions-dreams-news events, written/located long after the supposed events. If the Bible is so important to mankind--a divine formula for spiritual success, then why wasn't the bible written by Jesus himself? If he is the son of god, and he came here to help us, then why not write a book of the truths we all crave so much?

    There is a big wide world out there, folks, and if we stay within a little protective box of beliefs, we will never see what we are meant to. We have to find a way to get ourselves up out of the box, even if it begins with ripping open one side and just standing on our toes and peeking over the edge with sunglasses on. Once we see over the edge, we will not want to stay in that box unless we are too frightened of ourselves and the unknown to leave our safe little place. We will not grow and we will not change, and we ourselves would be responsible for that choice.

    Human beings are in the age of technology and doors are there for the opening. We can access so much information, and we must feel comfortable as we move along this path, that the things we take on as truth, has a basis for being real. Everyone knows, even now, that the current news is variable--it can change from station to station, however, the truth about something, in that it happened, is right there from many sources. It's all the newsy tid-bits that get messed up...the other things that make an interesting show or program. Therefore, in all of history, truth and fiction come together and we have to sort through all of it. I can only imagine how it was centuries ago, when Jesus was on earth--and Mary and the deciples, etc. But, this is only one tid-bit of a whole world of mankind. History is all over and records from a variety of places will help us to separate the fact from the fiction.

    In general, I prefer non-fiction to fiction as far as reading material, but I will "watch fictional" TV shows and DVD's. I like autobiographies and historical data about some one or some place, or some thing. On top of these forms of input, are my instincts, which have served me well, and this because I believe firmly that I have connected with my soul.

    Everyone is on their journey and it doesn't really matter to me that others might not agree with me, or others might perceive me as a bit too far off on the edge of the tree branch. Discussions like this are for the purpose of exchange of thoughts, ideas and information and I appreciate what everyone has to say. If one needs to believe the bible and needs to believe in a certain religion, than they should do that. But, for those who search for something deeper, new ideas and concepts which are totally contrare to main-stream, this is a great place here to get feedback.

    Thanks everyone. My thread would be a whistle in the wind, if it were not for you....

  • Leolaia

    Hey, i'm just like you...not reading fiction but reading lots of non-fiction. The thing that JWs and fundamentalist X'ians dont get is that the OT was the national literature of ancient Israel, so of course it contained fiction! Fiction writing was not a modern invention, nor does fiction equate the same thing as lies, untruth, and so forth. It's like someone 2,000 years from now insisting that Huckleberry Finn is a historically true story. Sure, archaeology can prolly find that the places mentioned in Huck Finn really existed and that the customs and practices fit right in with the 1800s, but it is still fiction. And that doesn't mean that fiction can't be used to teach moral lessons or religious truths. Yet because moral and religious ideas appear in a book such as Jonah, modern fundamentalists insist that it has to be historical and totally infallible. The justification is the scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 of "all scripture" being inspired of God, interpreted as being literally written by God. Well, Paul (or whoever else wrote 2 Timothy) used the Septuagint (LXX) as his "Bible", and what did it include? All the apocryphal writings like Judith, Tobit, etc. that the Society and fundies reject as "fictional"....if Paul regarded fiction as scripture and suitable for "reproving," why demand "scripture" to be totally free from fiction? I dont get it....


  • JamesThomas

    The greatest harm that can be done is to direct attention away from the Presence of Truth within. For then we suffer an illusory life as separate and broken fragments. Whenever Divinity is placed outside of us, in a person, place or thing -- we lose. We lose sight of the only place Divinity exists and lives: Within the Consciousness which is reading these words even now. Truth/God/Wholeness is that close and that intimate; but we see it not. We look everyplace but here. Let go your gods and goddesses. It's you who stand on Holy ground. The Holy Grail, is your own True-self. Not who we believe ourselves to be, but who and what we are -- Truly. j

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