Reinterpreting the Word of God
The question for the ages is: Why is the Bible the Word of God? The answer is because the people who believe in the Bible say it is. Okay, so where exactly is the proof then? Well as Stuart Chase so aptly put it, “ For those who believe, no proof is necessary….”
No proof is necessary, you say? Why not? The answer is that when you’ve been indoctrinated with a belief system, your mind doesn’t require it; and doesn’t want it either! Proof is irrelevant when it comes to belief. So that if a person comes face to face with an indication that their belief system may be wrong, they simply ignore it or rationalize it away. One does not dare question their belief systems because to do so would be to undermine their own state of mind. Psychologically, you believe in a religious belief system not because it is correct but rather because you have a need to believe (in something, indeed in just about anything). Ludwig Feuerbach best explained it thusly, “Religion is the dream of the human mind.”
However, I have good reason to believe that there is a lot more to the Bible than what meets the eye. Sure, it has lots of inaccuracies and inconsistencies, as well as translation errors, and yes the interpretation of the actual words leave much to be desired. There’s that word – interpretation. It pops up every time one talks about religion. In Judaism for example, their faith is based on the Talmud, which is an interpretation of the Torah. The Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, is accepted at face value by most Christians but in Judaism it needs “interpretation”. Maybe, the question should be that if Judaism says the Torah needs to be reinterpreted, why don’t the Christians agree with them. After all, Jewish people wrote it!
Aside: No doubt that’s what George Bernard Shaw was referring to when he said that, “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says – he is always convinced that it says what he means.”
The Israelites didn’t believe that Jesus qualified as the messiah based on their own definition of a messiah; that in turn was based on their own tradition of prophecy. However, Christianity reinterpreted the Old Testament prophecies in order to have Jesus as their messiah. I say reinterpreted because Judaism would never have accepted a divine messiah since it has no basis in the Old Testament or in their culture, historically speaking.
Interpretation is the key. Holy books seemingly always have to be interpreted, and later reinterpreted to agree with the ideology du jour. Just go and talk to a Christian fundamentalist to see what I mean. That said, I’m going to try a little interpretation of my own.
The origins of the Israelites
The Old Testament wasn’t written down until the first century BC. That’s roughly 3,000 years after Adam and Eve, according to the chronology given in the Bible. Prior to that, the Old Testament stories were passed on orally from one generation to the next. So the oral traditions of the Israelites would have been handed down from their ancestors. According to the Bible, the patriarch of the Israelites/Hebrews was Abraham. Therefore, their culture, their history and their belief systems were handed down from or through him. Abraham, himself, was a Sumerian meaning that his family was from the area now generally known as Iraq (southern Iraq to be precise). We know that because the Bible said that he came originally from Ur (which was a city/state in what was then called Sumer). Therefore, the oral tradition of the Israelites had to have come from Sumerian history/mythology. The point to all of this is that the Genesis story is of Sumerian origin.
Here’s what people fail to understand and, if they understand it, they don’t realize the implications. That is, the Israelites were descendants of the Sumerians. To be more precise, they were Sumerians!
The Sumerians were the first advanced civilization on the planet (that we know of) and their writings are the oldest ever found. The Sumerians were far more advanced than even the great Greek civilization which came over 1,000 years later. The Sumerians wrote the very first creation story, the title of which was Enuma Elish (sometimes referred to as The Seven Tablets of Creation). Their creation story was written on six clay tablets with the seventh tablet devoted to honoring the Creator. That, of course, is exactly how the writer(s) of Genesis described the six days of creation with the Sabbath falling on the seventh day. The Sumerians also wrote the very first Flood story which was entitled the Epic of Gilgamesh. Both the Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh are closely paralleled by the accounts of the Bible, which were written much later than their Sumerian counterparts.
It was the very same Sumerian gods mentioned in the Enuma Elish who brought with them this advanced civilization (wholly intact). By wholly intact, I mean that the Sumerian civilization appeared suddenly out of nowhere, with no antecedent whatsoever. History and civilization literally began in Sumer and the Sumerian knowledge and traditions would eventually be passed down to the Israelites. Keep in mind, the term Israelites came into being after Abraham. Before that they were known as Hebrews and in Abraham’s early days they lived in Sumer and were known as Sumerians. Yes, the Israelites were Sumerians.
Reinterpreting the Word of God
So when Judaism became a formal religion in the first century BC, the Levite priests reinterpreted the creation story to suit their new ideology (monotheism). At that time, Jehovah/Yahweh was converted from a tribal god (one of many) to the one and only god. However, if one understands that the Old Testament creation story is a retelling of Sumerian writings then it gives you a totally different picture of the genesis of man. Later, when Christianity subsequently adopted the Old Testament as gospel, they also accepted (unbeknownst to them) the old Sumerian gods which had been morphed into a single monotheistic god by Judaism. Oh, the strange twist and turns of biblical reinterpretation!
To complicate matters further, the Sumerian gods were not actually gods at all, but rather actual flesh and blood beings who looked very similar to us (homo sapiens). We know that because we have pictures which the Sumerians drew of their gods, along side of humans. The Sumerian writings clearly reflect that it was the Sumerian gods who created mankind, and not some divine Creator. All of which means that we really were created in the image and likeness of the “gods”.
Aside: It’s no wonder that that part of the story had to be suppressed because how could you have possibly built a religion around it.
However, that’s just the beginning of the story. Christianity became a formal religion in the 4th century AD. Some of the basis for their belief system comes from the New Testament. Here’s where things get very interesting. During that time, it was traditional for religious works to be written in what is referred to as a midrashic style of storytelling (e.g. see 2 Chronicles 24:27, International Standard Version). Midrash was a style of writing in which an old story is retold using contemporary figures. As such, it was never intended to be a history lesson. Actually, just the opposite was true as the writer would use a reconstructed story to drive home a point about morality. Therefore, these stories could not be read verbatim and were never intended to be taken literally. The true story was hidden beneath the surface and could only be understood by a handful of people who were spiritually advanced. Even Jesus’ disciples were unable to understand his parables.
Aside: Parables is a good example of midrashic writing and it was used extensively in both the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus.
Yet, despite this, a whole religion (Christianity) grew up around these gospel stories. One has to ask how was it possible for this to have happened. The answer is remarkably very simple – very few people understood the real message of the gospels and those that did intentionally left the masses in the dark. Further, the teachings of Jesus are, for the most part, not even included in the Bible. Actually, many of the writings about Jesus, for example the Gospel of Thomas, were intentionally left out of the Bible. After all, we wouldn’t want everyone to know about a mystical Jesus who taught about matters of the spirit (rather than the physical world), would we?
In the final analysis, neither Jesus nor the disciples ever taught Christianity. They were Jews and they followed the Torah. So the Old Testament was never about salvation but rather about the Law (the Torah). As for Christianity itself, it began as Roman Catholicism after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, under the auspices of Emperor Constantine. It was conceived as a pagan-type religion so it could become the Roman imperial theology, a religion which would appeal to most Roman citizens (i.e. gentiles). As for modern-day Christianity, it has been about Christ in name only (i.e. accept Christ as your personal savior and be saved). Therefore, since you are already assured of salvation, there is no need for you to live your life based upon the teachings of Jesus.
Down through the ages, esoteric wisdom has always been reserved for the select few and therefore hidden from those who were not spiritually prepared to receive it. I refer to it as the “secret religion”. This secret wisdom, whether taught by Krishna, Buddha, Plato or Jesus was always conveyed behind a veil of allegory and symbolism. So, of course, it had to be withheld from the masses (see Ephesians 3:3,5; Romans 16:25; Corinthians 2:6-8 and Matthew 13:11). By definition then, the mysteries of the Kingdom of God could never have been included in the Bible. The Bible was intended solely for the masses, whereas this secret wisdom was taught, as church father Clement of Alexandria said, “to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.”
Like Adam and Eve, before they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, the vast majority of people today are spiritually naked. Their understanding of God is based solely on church dogma and a holy book. Those who know better would like to keep it that way. They prefer that the masses never learn about any secret religion. But, of course… now you know.
“ If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.”
It seems that Voltaire got it half right. To be more precise, though, God does exist but man invented him anyway. Isn’t reinterpretation a wonderful thing?