Archive for the Dead Sea Scrolls Category

Uncertainties in Sacred Texts

Posted in Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew scripture, religion, sacred texts, thoughts on February 18, 2017 by chouck017894

For the majority of persons of the western cultures today who have been indoctrinated into the Christian faith systems, few are aware that there is yet to be found any original copies of any of the books which are honored as the New Testament.  There are age-old copies to be sure, but they are just that, copies.  Usually made from copies.  And the Hebrew Scriptures, so proudly declared to be meticulously accurate reproductions of god-dictated holy word, many uncertainties happen to linger there which necessitates footnotes (as in the New Revised Standard Version).  In fact various passages are integrated where translators were uncertain what the original text really was (as for example, in 1 and 2 Samuel).  This presents a tragic predicament for world cultures, because the many uncertainties which continue to hover and cloud all man-written “sacred” texts have been used as models upon which were fashioned each culture’s moral, ethics and spiritual trust.  Thus it is actually sacred uncertainties which have served as foundations for the three by-the-book faith systems which routinely reflect their holiness in constant murderous conflicts.

Basic beliefs, most of which originated in Bronze Age tribal cultures, were heavily colored by fears and superstitions.  In addition, the words which have been handed down through century after century have been altered–sometimes accidentally, more often deliberately–by countless interpreters and translators who put their own spin on the declared meaning in those words.  Predictably the declared meaning said to be god-relayed in those man-written texts was always interpreted from the events of the interpreter’s  particular time frame.  The fundamental philosophy which brought about all the age-old written “holy” works conveniently allowed for such self defensive flexibility and manipulative license.  And it is precisely this philosophical elasticity which stimulates the addictive fascination for what is revered as holy word.  It provides anxious seekers with ego gratification–which is commonly praised and promoted as spiritual fulfillment.  In extreme antiquity the stories were carefully penned to illustrate cosmological and/or life-purpose instruction. Regrettably these were often indirectly–or more often than not intentionally–colored by later scribe’s personal likes, dislikes, envy, jealousies and political aims which consequently provoked irrelevant posturing and theatrics rather than radiating any genuine spiritual enlightenment.

The faithful who cling unquestioningly to “sacred” texts (Hebrew scriptures, New Testament of Quran, as examples) like to believe that those compositions which have been accepted as revealed and sacred, contain no mistakes, no textural booboos, and no faulty assessments.  But every such textural “holy” work was produced by human hands, and even the most faithful humans fall far short in cosmic awareness to serve as infallible spokesmen for the perfection and broad diversity which is the creative and sustaining power which is the all-enfolding Source.

The discovery in 1947 of a number of parchment scrolls which contained Hebrew and Aramaic scriptural texts and liturgical writings of an asectic community which dated from c. 250 BCE to about 70 CE are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The intensive research on these scrolls brought to light the startling fact that those texts, which are around a thousand years older than any previously known “old texts” contained a stockpile of significant differences from the Hebrew Scriptures which are today considered to have always been inviolable.  Time and circumstances since the era of the Scrolls’ authorship brought with them alterations that resulted in textural content which became more or less standardized only around 1000 CE.  Thus the western world today has become victim to what may be termed sacred shell games.

Genuine history is routinely forgotten in what has become accepted as holy word.  For example, the OT book  of Esther was rewritten from an older version which some scholars have said had been composed by some Roman source.  Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph (c.50-132 CE) was one of the most eminent teachers of his timeframe, and he headed the school at Jaffa: It was he who rewrote the text known as Esther.  And the Jewish code known as the Mishnah was developed by him partly on the basis of his own teachings.  In the original Roman account of the Esther tale there was a character named Haman (or Aman or Hamin) who vows to kill all Jews.  Some scholars say that Haman was modeled upon a Roman aristocrat named Arius Piso.  The Jewish holiday feast of Purim was established ostensibly to celebrate the deliverance of the Jews from the alleged massacre by Haman.  The rewritten book of Esther and the association  of Haman with Roman aristocracy therefore served as the covert reminder to all Jews of the alleged conspiracy of the Romans to destroy the Jews.

Once a faith system has compiled its self-serving literary collection and stamped it as “canon” (an ecclesiastical code or laws), that man-written anthology has been advertised and marketed as containing all knowledge which is ever necessary for a believer to attain godly protection, salvation or entrance into Paradise.  Thus have sacred theatrics and man-devised by-the-book directives been set in place as the edifying mechanism over mankind’s social and spiritual evolution (or lack thereof).

Today, contented that the faith systems which we have been taught as holding divine knowledge and which supposedly extends privileged access into a higher and exclusive domain, we are kept uninformed of how and from what that belief slowly and haphazardly evolved.  Every man-contrived faith system has been built upon the awe and wonder that our ancient ancestors had felt for the celestial panorama which was then unmarred by the light and air pollution we humans produce today.  In our self-enveloped bubble of technology we have been manipulated away from the ancient’s awareness and veneration the universal phenomena, and those observations and practices became intentionally modified and disguised.  Why?  Because the “Pagan” sources from which those holy words were “borrowed” had openly respected such things a solstice periods, time of the equinoxes, phases of the moon, constellation grouping of stars, and their associated cycles of Nature.  These and other such natural observable facts thus played calculated influences in every man-contrived faith system which dominate cultures and societies today, and those natural wonders are camouflaged and smothered under priest-invented “histories” and theatrical rites.

Man!  That is almost enough to drive an atheist to attempt a prayer!  Lord, rest your hand upon the heads of earnest seekers of enlightenment, and your other hand over the mouths of the braying self-possessed proselytizers.