Archive for Apocrypha

Revelation’s Bumpy History

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2010 by chouck017894

The late appearance of the New Testament book Revelation upon the Christian scene, penned c. 135-137 CE, followed closely upon the occurrence of the Jewish insurrection in Jerusalem under Bar Cocheba (132-135).  It was a Jewish insurrection which spread to Cyrene, Egypt,  Cyprus and Mesopotamia.  With this NT book’s  late appearance there is presented an inexplicable psychological change in the character of Jesus from a mild and peaceful teacher into a harsh judgmental figure.  Missing in the new book of Revelation was any attempt to attract or convert Jews to the struggling cult: the emphasis was focused instead on the establishment of a new Jerusalem, a situation that is picturesquely achieved at the end of the lumbering tale (Revelation 21:10).  There is strong but veiled anti-Jewish anger expressed in this tale written during Roman Empire times, and it is revealed in the contention that it is a new Jerusalem that is to be purified and lowered from Heaven; it is not Rome that is to be cleansed and lowered back to Earth.  It should be noted that the work is addressed to a definite group of seven churches, all in the Roman Province of Asia.

It is also worth noting that the description of the new Jerusalem asserts that it is to have a wall surrounding it with twelve gates—three each along the north, east, south and west.  As in the Old Testament tales, where the number twelve is a prime clue in the story, it is a covert way of referring to the Zodiac—as are numerous other descriptions in Revelations.  And clearly the symbolism used, such as the number seven, is common to all Creation myths: 7 angels,  7 horns, 7 stars, 7 seals, 7 vials, 7 plagues, 7 candlesticks, 7 churches, 7 spirits before the throne, and the great beast with 7 heads.  These are not unique to the book of Revelations, for the very same symbols are to be found in the OT book of Ezekiel (4).  Another example of Zodiac plundering opens chapter four where a throne is beheld; “…and one sat upon the throne.”  The one sitting upon the throne was said to have the look  “…of a jasper and a sardine stone and there was a rainbow round about the throne in sight like unto an emerald.”  The mention of these stones—jasper, sardine stone, and emerald—happen to be the gem symbols for Pisces, Gemini and Cancer.  This type of borrowing continues throughout the book.

Much of the symbolism used in Revelation happens to have been common to Apocalyptic tradition of that era, and doubtlessly parts of it were also drawn from ancient Babylonian or Persian mythology.  The Apocryphal vision presented in Revelation was likely also stirred by the old Hebrew tales of Moses (legends which were not canonically approved).  In the unapproved Moses tale it tells of a “war in heaven” which was allegedly fought between angels and Satan’s horde over possession of Moses’ physical body after his death.  The elements of Revelation made the book a divisive work from the start, with many finding its style and brutal scenes as starkly out-of-place with the earlier books of Gospel.

Unfortunately, by the time of “saint” Irenaeus (flourished 170-190), the book began being presented as a prophecy of God’s intention for the world or his plan for the church.  The third century theologian, “saint” Dionysius of Alexandria. c. 260, said of Revelation: “Even if I do not understand, I yet conceive some deeper sense to lie in the words.  Not measuring and judging these things by private reasoning but giving the chief right to faith, I have supposed it to be too high to be comprehended by me.”  But not all Christian cult theologians were so willing to abandon rationality.  For example, by 340 the Christian Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem omitted the book of Revelation from his canon.  In 370, however, Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis (Constantia) of the Island of Cyprus reinstated the book for use.  But then in 375 the Bishop of Nazianzen, in SW Cappadocia, struck the book form his canon.  And in 380 Bishop Philastrius, bishop of Brescia (Lombardy, Italy) omitted Revelation from his canon.  Even “saint” Jerome (about 390) expressed doubt about the book being attributed to John the presbyter.  (The general uniformity of style indicate that was by a singular author, however.)

Even the later reformers such as Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) were doubtful of the book’s authenticity.  In general those who attribute the Fourth Gospel to “saint” John deny that Revelation could have been written by him. 

The message in the Judgment Day tale is defined by local color found in the Roman Empire of the time, and references to contemporary events and issues clearly indicate that it was meant for its own age.  Without doubt the author was strongly connected to the Christian cult circles in Asia, and his purpose was to send forth a message of intimidation and warning to insurgent Jews that Christ would soon be manifest and cleanse the world (the Roman world) of unbelievers. 

At the closing of Revelation, John allegedly beheld “…a holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  This happens to have been lifted out of Gnostic lore of Creation, not some revelation of the new church being the “bride” of the world’s savior.

Time has shown (over 2000 years) that the things allegedly foretold in Revelation is not applicalbe to the world we know today; its imagery simply is not relvant, and more importantly, it holds no spiritual value.

 

The “Original Sin” Scam

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, history, logic, Middle Ages,, random, religion with tags , , , , , , on July 13, 2009 by chouck017894

Some private response to the article “Born in Sin” (July 10, 2009), a theory which is also alluded to as “Inherited Sin” or “Original Sin,” has prompted a few more notes.  Specifically, attention is drawn to the eighteenth ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church that assembled in Trent, Italy on December 13, 1545.  It was a tiresome affair that lasted intermittently until 1563!  Eighteen years!  Indeed, three pontificates, Paul III, Julius III, and Pius IV would sit upon the papal throne before the council would finally fold up shop.

Hammered out among god’s alleged representatives were such things as disciplinary decrees regarding Episcopal duties, the religious orders of the church, the education of the priesthood, and the censorship of books.  Doctrinal decrees were also issued on the Mass, purgatory, the veneration of “saints,” and the doctrine of indulgences.  Thus the long, dragged-out “council” set the corporate standards of the Roman Catholic faith and for practices that remain to this day.  Of course decisions set in place by that council infected even the religious reformation blocs.

For starters, it was in the fourth session (1546) that sacred tradition was put on a par with Scripture, as were also all the books contained in the Vulgate (edited by “saint” Jerome c. 392).  This version of the scriptural presentation is known as the Vulgate because it employed the language of the common people in Jerome’s time.  It contains not only the sixty-six books of the Authorized Version but also eleven books of the Apocrypha, which the Catholic Church holds as being divinely inspired, but which most Protestants reject as not in keeping with the most ancient authority.  In other words, of doubtful religious significance.

At this overly long ecumenical council, there was much haggling whether the story of Susanna and the Elders belonged in Scripture, for example.  Ultimately it wound up as an apocryphal addition to the book  of Daniel (which happens to be a Hebrew retelling of a Babylonian tale).  The Vulgate was then declared to be “authentic,” and affirmed to be canonical.

Now, back to the main point: it was with this council that the no-escape clause of “Original Sin” was heartily embraced.  Dressed in holy phraseology the council announced, “From the fall of man until the hour of baptism the Devil has full power over him and possesses him.”  What a perfect scam: holding all mankind as hostage as blemished from Adam’s nibbling fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Nothing much has been changed in the assessments made in the Middle Ages by the eighteenth council on what constitutes holy “truth.”  In the nineteenth century things were updated with insertion of clarifying additions: added were two definitions of the Immaculate Conception and the declaration of the infallibility of the pope.  It is on such authority that we are told that we can be cleansed of “sin” (life’s inevitable boo-boos) only by a religious business machine.

Revelation, fallacy of

Posted in Astronomy, Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, history, random, religion with tags , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2009 by chouck017894

Written in the occult style, the book of Revelation, penned c. 135-138, is not “revelation” at all but is embellishment upon mystery teachings concerning the dimensions and advancement of creation powers that were ancient even in Roman Empire times.  The occult manner of presentation such as the repeated use of the number seven should be clue enough to alert any reader that the “revealed” information is being presented in a questionable mystical style.  Consider for example—7 angels, 7 horns, 7 stars, 7 seals, 7 vials (of god’s wrath), 7 plagues, 7 candlesticks, 7 churches, 7 letters (to the churches), 7 spirits (before the throne), 7 dooms, 7 heads, 7 kings–and eventually 7 new things.

An important factor to remember about the book of Reveleation is the timeframe of its composition.  The Roman Empire at the time was in an extremely critical state from barbarian invasions and the revolts of subject peoples, especially the Jews.  Emperor Hadrian had been compelled to go to Palestine to put down the insurrection of the Jews that had escalated from 132 under the leadership of Bar Cocheba.  Roman patience was running thin at the decades-long stubborn noncompliance of the Jews.  Revolts had spread even to Cyrene, Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia.  Jerusalem was destroyed by Hadrian’s army and Jews were forbidden to set foot on the site.  It was established by Roman strategists that the spiritual obstinacy and consistent disquiet of the Jews was anchored in their priest-written and self-serving scriptures.  Out of this came the inspiration for the work claimed to have been authored by “Saint John the Divine,” but was more likely the work of a Roman frustrated at Jewish resistance to Roman governance.

The Apocryphal vision presented in Revelation was unmistakably influenced by Hebrew stories such as that of Moses and the “war in heaven” allegedly fought between the archangel Michael and Satan for possession of Moses’ body.  Obviously that tale was not about a mortal man but used Moses as analogous to the primal Earth.  In other words, that tale was cosmology told in occult style.  Among the elements borrowed from that Moses myth and incorporated into Revelation was the attention given to the number seven, as mentioned earlier.

Many of the symbols in  Revelation are also found in Ezekiel; i.e. gates of heaven opening, a throne within, seven lamps, etc.  As in Ezekiel, dead bodies are seen in the street which, after three and a half days, rise and walk.  There are numerous other parallels.  And all of them were borrowed from  more ancient mystery teachings on creation processes and cosmology, but tossed together without proper sequence to present the ecclesiastic deception of man’s downfall if Christianity was not embraced by all. 

Another example out of hundreds of the occult treatment used as Revelation can be discerned in chapter 4 verses 2-3 that describes “…a throne was set in heaven, and one sat upon the throne.  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”  More ecclesiastic deception: these gemstones symbolize the Zodiac constellations Pisces, Gemini, and Cancer.  (See accompanying notes on Gemstones of the Bible.)

Another example of  occult story handling continues in verses 6-7: “…and round about the throne were  four beasts full of eyes before and behind.  And the first beast was  like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had the face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”   Really?   It all sounds suspiciously like the four quarters of the Zodiac (also used by Ezekiel) listed out of sequence—Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, and Scorpio (the eagle was Hebrew symbol for Scorpius).  Why are Zodiac symbols part of  Revelation?  Because in cultures predating the Hebrews, creation-cosmology lessons were taught using the constellations as focus for the lessons.  (As detailed in The Celestial Scriptures: Keys to the Suppressed Wisdom of the Ancients.)

The  book of Revelation is not worthy spiritual material, which is probably why so many other “saints” could not comprehend it.

Institutional Faith

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, history, religion with tags , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by chouck017894

In the timeframe in which Jesus is accounted for in the New Testament there was no word for an institutional-type place of worship. The closest approximation to that idea was the Greek word ekklesie, Latinized as ecclesia, meaning assembly or gathering–from which we give respect to the word ecclesiastical, now used to pertain to church or clerical things. From ekklesie there also evolved the Ecclesiastiucus, a book of the Apocrypha that is also known as “Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach.” And we should not forget the word ecclesiology was coined to mean the study of the Christian Church as an institution. Nor can we ignore the word eccelesiolatry which is a reference to worship of the church, especially extreme devotion to its principles or traditions.

The point of this is that nothing was ever suggested in NT presentation (or OT) that instructed the establishment of an institutional complex where faith could be utilized as a business venture to be presided over by a dogma-mesmerized and material-minded hierarchy. The Christian “fathers,” based in Rome and inspired by the Roman Empire manner of governing, contrived to choose church personnel in a manner that paralleled the “chosen people” of the Old Testament.

Christianity was then presented and marketed by the “founding fathers” as a new revelation of truth, and those men in supposed attendance of Jesus have been characterized as enlightened men and saints by generations of faithful. That the average Christian does not pay any attention to their claimed “holy word” is disclosed by passages in the NT that spoke of the disciples as “unlearned and ignorant men.” The faithful also refuse to note that the disciples brought before Jewish judges were judged to be idioti–idiots. And various cultures within the Roman Empire spoke of the early Christian movement as a “vulgar faith.” Celsus, the second century Platonic philosopher, spoke of the Christians as, “The rude and menial masses, who had hitherto been almost beneath the notice of Greek and Roman culture…”

Many, many men who influenced the early church did not have any particular respect for those whom they attracted. Jerome, for example, called a “saint,” spoke of the fierceness of the followers’ ardor which so frightened those who came to join that they fled in fear saying “…it is better to live among wild beasts than with such Christians.” And Julian (331-363), the Roman Emperor, renounced Christianity comparing them with “…the deadliest wild beasts (that) are hardly so savage against human beings as most Christians are against each other.” Julian also noted, “There is no wild beast like an angry theologian.”

The fanatical Christians, believing in literal mythology, went on to smother rationality, and Europe was plunged into centuries of darkness as the church institution, never dreamed of by Jesus, reigned supreme. Is it any wonder that Jesus chose not to return?