The world’s oldest cold case is now almost two thousand years old and counting.  What makes this case peculiar is a lack of information, the lack of a victim and possibly the lack of a crime being committed. I’m talking about the missing body of Jesus, of course.

 

The crucifixion

After the crucifixion, the body of Jesus was presumably placed in a tomb near the crucifixion site. A couple of days later, the tomb was found open and the body was gone. I refer to it as “The Case of the Missing Body.” Not long after the body went missing, Jesus was seen by some of his friends (and others) but from there the trail went cold and Jesus was never seen or heard from again. From a forensic standpoint, the missing body makes it impossible to determine the cause of death (assuming that there was one). It’s circumstantial evidence only. So, let’s see if that evidence might lead somewhere.

For starters, we should consider some strange facts in the case, as follows:

  • On the cross, Jesus was given a sponge soaked in vinegar because he was thirsty.
  • Jesus died after just a few hours on the cross.

Observations: The point of a crucifixion was for the person to die a slow, painful death.  It’s, therefore, inconsistent that the person would be given something to quench his thirst; and Pontius Pilate couldn’t understand how Jesus could have died so soon when people take days to die on the cross.  Even the other two men crucified with Jesus were still alive when Jesus supposedly died.

The crucifixion, itself, doesn’t make sense on several levels. First of all, the crucifixion took place in a private garden that was at a distance from any onlookers (Luke 23:49). The reason that doesn’t make sense is because a crucifixion was always done in public to dissuade others from also being troublemakers.

Aside: The fact that the crucifixion was not public meant the it would have been possible for someone to manipulate the events. Certainly, the fact that onlookers were kept at a distance means that any testimony concerning the crucifixion is suspect.

Secondly, after Jesus was given the sponge, he lost consciousness.  So, whatever was on the sponge probably caused him to lose consciousness if not, in fact, kill him. There are probably only two possibilities for what was on the sponge – a drug or a poison. So, we should be asking who had access to the spear that was used to give Jesus the vinegar. Who was at the foot of the cross when the crucifixion was taking place in a private garden when onlookers were only able to watch from a distance?

Aside: According to the gospels of both Matthew and Mark, it wasn’t Mary or Mary Magdalene as they watched from afar.

Finally, according to Mark 15:42, Jesus was crucified “the day before the Sabbath.” The crucifixion began just hours before sundown, at which time no Jew could then handle a dead body.  Since it was highly unlikely that anyone would expire on the cross in just a few hours, there was no point in starting a crucifixion at that time…unless you expected that you would be able to take that person down early from the cross because of the approaching Sabbath.

 

The mystery

A mysterious figure surrounding the crucifixion was someone referred to in the Bible only as Joseph of Arimathea. The Bible says that he was a wealthy and influential man, a member of the Sanhedrin, and that the crucifixion took place in a garden on his private property (as was the tomb). Strangely enough, though, the crucifixion is the only time that the Bible mentions such an important figure. Here’s what little the Bible does tell us about the man. It was Joseph of Arimathea who brought a very large amount of myrrh and aloe (75 pounds by one account and 100 pounds by another), which also have medicinal uses, to the tomb wherein the body of Jesus was laid. It was Joseph of Arimathea who was referred to as a secret disciple of Jesus (John 19:38).  Lastly, it was Joseph of Arimathea who asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, which was contrary to Roman law.

Aside: There is no proof that the body of Jesus was ever inside the tomb.  Remember it was Joseph of Arimathea and another disciple, Nicodemus, who supposedly put the body there and rolled a stone in front of the entrance to the tomb, with no witnesses to that event. Furthermore, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were arguably the last persons to see the body of Jesus when they brought the myrrh and aloe to the tomb.

The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus adds another layer of mystery to the investigation. You wonder if anyone truly recognized Jesus; certainly not Mary Magdalene who thought he was a gardener, not the disciples who spent two days with Jesus and yet thought he was a total stranger, and not Paul who only heard a voice which he could not recognize.

 

Beyond the Bible

Given that the New Testament accounts were written by anonymous authors years after-the-fact and given that the gospels contradict each other on key “facts”, it was necessary to look at other religious scriptures of the day, which were excluded from the Bible, for possible clues.

Gnostic writings indicate that Joseph of Arimathea was, perhaps, James, the brother of Jesus. In that case, the name Joseph would have actually been an Essenes title given to the second born of a dynastic succession.  That would make some sense, then, that Pontius Pilate might have released the body of Jesus if it was to an important member of Jesus’ family.  With respect to the crucifixion being held on private property, that also makes sense only if (1) Joseph of Arimathea was the brother of Jesus and (2) that Joseph and Pilate were friends, as it states in the Gospel of Peter.  As for Joseph of Arimathea being Jesus’ brother, Joseph of Arimathea was said to have been a secret disciple of Jesus and James, the brother of Jesus, did become the leader of the Nazarene movement post-crucifixion.  It all sort of ties together.

However, the biggest find might just have come from the Gospel of Peter, a work that was held in high regard during early Christianity but was left out of the Bible. In the Gospel of Peter 37-38, we find that the soldiers guarding the tomb reported back to Pilate that, “…and the sepulchre was opened and both of the young men entered in. When therefore those soldiers saw… again three men come out of the sepulchre, and two of them sustaining the other….” So, perhaps we have the smoking gun. Someone took the body of Jesus, seemingly alive, out of the tomb.  It was shortly thereafter that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found that the body, and the guards, were missing.  The guards were missing because they presumably had gone back to report to Pilate that the body was taken out of the tomb.  Soon thereafter, Jesus, or someone pretending to be Jesus, made an appearance to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb. So, that sequence seems to fit together nicely.

Aside: Lending credibility to the report in the Gospel of Peter is the fact that in early Christianity some Christians believed that the body of Jesus was stolen out of the tomb. Therefore, the author of the Gospel of Matthew felt it was important to try to deflect that story (see Matthew 28:11-15).

 

Solving the case

There is no proof in the Bible of a resurrection. The only account in the Bible of the resurrection is in the Gospel of Mark which even the Catholic Church admits is a very late addition.  Validating that admission is the fact that there is no account of a resurrection in the oldest versions of the Gospel of Mark (e.g. the Sinai Bible). If there was no resurrection, then Jesus did not rise up to Heaven and as Paul rightly concluded, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile….” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

So, where’s the body? Well, there are only two possibilities as to what happened to the body of Jesus – either he died on the cross and someone stole the corpse or he survived the crucifixion and died, and was buried, sometime thereafter.  Both are plausible possibilities.

Of course, it is possible that Joseph of Arimathea took the corpse since he had access to it (and presumably put it in the tomb), although we have no way of knowing whether he did put the body in the tomb or not.  So, it’s possible that the guards might have been guarding an empty tomb the whole time.  Then again, maybe the rumors of someone stealing the corpse from the tomb is true.  I have to presume, however, that there would have been some account somewhere of someone stealing a corpse – and there isn’t.  In addition, the body of Jesus has never been recovered.

It was Sherlock Holmes who once said that, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So, the only possibility that we are left with is that Jesus survived the crucifixion. The question is whether or not there is enough evidence to convince us that he did survive the crucifixion.  So, let’s recap.

  • There is no proof that Jesus died on the cross.  In fact, even Pilate doubted the report of Jesus’ death.
  • There is no proof of a resurrection.
  • Jesus could have been helped from the tomb, as it was reported in the Gospel of Peter (or, perhaps, his body was never in the tomb in the first place).
  • Jesus was seen by a number of people after the crucifixion.

So, how did the events unfold, then? Although it cannot be conclusively proven, the logical choice for the person who gave Jesus the drug while he was on the cross is none other than Joseph of Arimathea, especially given that he was possibly the brother of Jesus. It was his garden so it would only be natural that he might be there, and since he was friends with Pilate he would undoubtedly have had access to the proceedings. He’s also the one that asked Pilate for the body, he’s the one that buried (or disposed of) the body and he’s the one who brought the myrrh and aloe to the tomb (or wherever the body was laid). If two men did help Jesus to get out of the tomb, what better candidates do you have than the two disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. After all, these events took place on the private property of Joseph of Arimathea.

However, the clincher appears to come from none other than early church father Irenaeus. In his famous work “Against Heresies,” Irenaeus wrote that Jesus went to India after the crucifixion and lived to an advanced age. Jesus’ return to India, after the crucifixion, is confirmed in the Acts of Thomas which is based on the evangelistic mission to India of the disciple Thomas.  Further, the 15th century Persian historian Mir Khwand wrote that after the crucifixion Jesus lived for a while near Damascus, Syria at a place referred to as Mayuam-i-isa, which literally means “The place where Jesus lived.”

Any number of people were reported to have seen Jesus after the crucifixion. If there was no resurrection, he therefore must have survived the crucifixion. This is confirmed by the Bible, itself. It says that Jesus told Mary Magdalene at the tomb that he had not yet risen. Maybe, Sherlock Holmes was right. As improbable as it may have seemed originally, Jesus apparently did survive the crucifixion.

 

Epilogue

I do believe, however, that there is a deeper mystery that is disguised by the gospel stories. It’s a story about an apocalyptic prophet whose own religious mission had failed. The claim that Jesus was the messiah fell on deaf ears among the Jews since clearly Jesus did not fulfill Old Testament prophecy, prophecies which were written by Jewish holy men.

Therefore, he tried to become relevant by faking his death and then directing some of his supporters to claim that he was resurrected, and therefore divine. Jesus turned his attention to the West and convinced Paul to preach, what was essentially a blend of Judaism and paganism, to the gentiles. That’s the backstory about the appearance of Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul actually met with and then became an apostle of a flesh-and-blood Jesus who had survived the crucifixion. Paul needed to have a cover story as to why he started to preach Christianity when he was previously persecuting Christians. He couldn’t just say that Jesus was alive because people would then come looking for him. So, he concocted the story of a vision with a Jesus.

Through Paul’s efforts, the divinity of Jesus would eventually become an accepted fact within the Christian community. Thereafter, Paul went on to martyrdom, Christianity went on to conquer Western Civilization and Jesus… went on to India.

 

“The real Jesus would not have died for a cause, but he might have faked his death to promote such a cause.” – The Ethical Warrior, The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Secret

11/13/2017

The enduring question is this: How can a religion be built around someone who does not figure prominently in that religion’s holy book? I’m talking about Christianity and Jesus, of course.

In order to better understand this question, one has to first go back to the beginning – to Qumran and the origins of Christianity. In biblical times, a small, monastic group of Jews (usually referred to as Essenes) lived in isolation, in the wilderness near the Dead Sea in a place called Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found there some 60 years ago, make quite clear that the origins of Christianity lie in Qumran.

The Essenes were very religious and lived their lives strictly according to the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible (Old Testament). It was out of this community that Jesus and most of the disciples would come. Jesus is commonly referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, but Nazareth is a corruption of the term Nazarene as the Qumran people were sometimes called Nazarenes.

 

Fast forward to immediately after the crucifixion

At that time, the Nazarenes carried on the teachings of Jesus through what was called the Jerusalem Church, which was under the direction of James, the brother of Jesus. It was called the Jerusalem Church because Qumran was considered by the Nazarenes to be the “New Jerusalem.”

After the crucifixion, there were competing versions of the story of Jesus (see Luke 1:1-4). For example, the Jerusalem Church was highly critical of Paul for his false teachings (see the Book of Acts).  In 325 AD, some three hundred years later, a vote of sorts was taken at the Council of Nicaea to finally settle the debate between the competing factions as to which version of Jesus would make it into the Bible. The losers in the vote got branded as heretics.

 

The resurrection

Central to church theology is the story of the resurrection. The mystery of the resurrection is a riddle wrapped inside of an enigma. The only meaningful resurrection account in the Bible is found in the Gospel of Mark and that account does not include any details with respect to the actual resurrection itself. This is where the mystery deepens as almost no one during the time of Jesus believed in a physical resurrection. Yet, there it is anyway in the Gospel of Mark. So, let’s look at what the beliefs of the time about the resurrection actually were:

The disciples

The disciples, themselves, were Jewish and they lived their lives by the Torah. According to prophecy, the messiah that the disciples were expecting was a flesh-and-blood man (like King David), rather than a divine messiah who could resurrect himself after he had died.

Paul

Paul did not believe in the resurrection of the physical body, but rather the spiritual body alone (e.g. he never mentions Jesus having been resurrected in the flesh). Given Paul’s concept of a Christ risen into a new, spiritual body, the resurrection becomes simply an article of faith – a path to inner spiritual knowledge. For example, Paul stated that the body that rises is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 44) and that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 50).

Origen

Early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria (in On First Principles) said that the resurrection related to the spirit, not the mortal body. He considered the concept of a physical resurrection to be for those that did not have eyes to see and ears to hear. The eyes to see and ears to hear, of course, is a famous parable attributable to Jesus. In other words, the resurrection of a physical body was strictly a surface story for the unenlightened.  The real story of a spiritual resurrection could only be understood by those that were very enlightened (and had been initiated into the Mysteries).

Other biblical writers

The gospels of Luke, Matthew and John do not have a resurrection story nor do the epistles of James and Jude, both brothers of Jesus. Of course, there are stories of appearances of Jesus in the gospels but there is no way of knowing if he had died and had been resurrected or if he had simply survived the crucifixion.

Jesus

According to Christian theology, Jesus was crucified, dead and buried (in a tomb).  Later, the tomb was mysteriously opened and Mary Magdalene was told that Jesus had risen. However, immediately thereafter, Mary Magdalene saw Jesus outside of the tomb and Jesus said that he had not yet risen (John 20:17). Obviously, then, he was still alive.

 

Even the one account of the resurrection in the Gospel of Mark has been called into question. The oldest bibles, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, do not include a resurrection story in the Gospel of Mark (the resurrection story in Mark can only be traced back to the Vulgate which is a late 4thcentury text). Further, the authors of the gospels of Luke and John do not contain a resurrection story even though they used copies of Mark (an earlier work) as a source. Therefore, the original Gospel of Mark could not have had a resurrection story in it. It had to be added very late in the game (after the Council of Nicaea in AD 325). Therefore, a central tenet of Christian faith is essentially missing from the Gospels.

Aside: The additional verses added to Mark say that Jesus ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father. One has to ask the question: Who observed this? Exactly who was in heaven to know that Jesus sat next to God and that he specifically sat on the right side of God? Furthermore, how could you possibly give such a commentary without covering the real story – describing God himself?

So, why does any of this matter? Well, without a resurrection, there is no proof that Jesus was divine. The secret concerning Jesus and Christianity is that the church didn’t need the spiritual teachings of Jesus. They simply wanted a messiah in order to sell their religion to the masses.  Accordingly, Christianity would become the new pagan religion of the gentiles.  To gain new converts, they offered up the idea of a universal messiah who they said had come to save the entire world.  In stark contrast, the prophets wrote about the coming of a Jewish messiah who would come specifically to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel. It’s a dirty little secret that you’re not supposed to know…but, of course, now you know.

 

Epilogue

Incidentally, an empty tomb (see above) proves nothing other than Jesus’ body was not there. There is nothing mysterious about his body being “missing” since when Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb, the tomb was open and immediately thereafter she found Jesus standing outside of the tomb. So, his body was not inside the cave/tomb as he was already outside of it. Obviously, he could have been risen at that time only if he had already died first. However, as the Gospel of Philip says, “Those who say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died.”  To understand that passage from the Gospel of Philip, you need to know that the author was concerned with the spirit rather than the body. The physical world was simply something that had to be overcome by resurrecting one’s spirit while they were in the physical world.

So, too, the message of early Christian luminaries like Paul and Origen were hidden under a veil of allegory and symbolism. Only the highly enlightened who were initiated into the Mysteries might be able to comprehend the underlying message.  Similarly, Jesus’ teachings were disguised as parables.  The bible clearly shows that even the disciples could not understand his message. So, why do Christians today believe that they understand his teachings when the disciples didn’t. After all, for the last two thousand years, all that Christians have ever gotten is a bible.

 

 

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:”

    – Paul (1 Corinthians 2:7)

 

“He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them (the masses)…This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.'”

    – Jesus (Matthew 13:11,13)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arab Israel

07/24/2017

Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Arab Israel. Isn’t Israel suppose to be the homeland of the Jews? What’s wrong with this picture?

The other day, terrorists at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem attacked and killed two Israeli policemen. What is not widely reported, though, is that the two Israeli policemen were actually Arabs, members of the Druze minority sect. Yes, Arab Israeli policemen.

People who have not visited Israel recently would never suspect that Israel has become such a boiling pot of diversity.  It’s one of the few  places in the world where diversity actually has had some success. Two of the largest groups of Israel citizens, about 20% of the population each, are Arabs and people of Russian ancestry. Those of Russian ancestry are generally not religious which means that nearly 40% of Israelis do not practice the Jewish faith (Judaism). In addition, there is a large group of secular (non-religious) Jews as well as atheists, Christians and a plethora of minor faiths such as Bahai. It’s fairly safe to say then that a majority of Israeli citizens do not practice the Jewish faith.

As for Israel being a Jewish homeland, that’s true but incomplete.  It is a homeland for Jews, but it isn’t the “homeland” of the Jews. The homeland of the Jewish people is actually the ancient kingdoms of Judea and Samaria which lie next door (immediately east of what is now Israel). Israel was formed by the United Nations out of a swamp-infested tract of land that ran along the Mediterranean plus the Negev Desert. It wasn’t much to write home about and it certainly wasn’t the historical Jewish homeland.

That true homeland of Judea and Samaria for the most part encompasses what is referred to as the West Bank (the lands lying immediately west of the Jordan River). For example, Bethlehem, Masada, Jericho, Qumran and Jerusalem were part of ancient Judea and Samaria. Of course, the West Bank was ceded by Jordan to Israel as the result of Jordan losing the Six-Day War in 1967 and have effectively been part of Israel ever since, a period of 50 years.  Does anyone really think that Israel will give up their homeland after having these lands for the last 50 years?

As for the Arabs who live in Israel and are citizens of Israel, with all the rights of Israeli citizens, they enjoy a better life than in any Arab nation in the Middle East.  Second place isn’t even close.  Arab women, especially, have freedom in Israel that is unparalleled throughout the Middle East. I recently met an Arab waiter in Israel who was moonlighting from his day job as a school teacher to pay for his daughter to go to medical school. Education for an Arab woman! Are you kidding, and a doctor to boot.

Arab Israel isn’t what you think it is nor as it has been portrayed by the media. Some Arabs are Israeli policemen who sometimes die for their “country.” They are represented in the Israeli Knesset (Congress/Parliament) and an Arab sits on the Israeli Supreme Court. Maybe, the world should take notice of the Arab Israeli dynamic.  They just might learn something from it.

Here’s the three things that you need to know about the Bible, at least from one person’s perspective:

What’s the most important part of the Bible?

That’s easy. It’s Genesis. Why? Because, above all, man needs to understand his place in the universe. That is, why do I exist?

What’s the most interesting part of the Bible?

It’s Genesis, again. Why? Because we get to eavesdrop on God during the creation process.

What is the importance of the Bible to religion?

This one is trickier. It’s moral authority. That is, man needs to be able to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong and arguably this can only come from God.

 

With respect to Christianity, Genesis is central to their faith. So, there are three things that one ought to know about Genesis, as follows:

The God of Genesis is the God of the Hebrews

The God of Genesis is Yahweh who is the Hebrew God. In fact, Christianity does not have a God that is unique to its own religion.

Genesis is not an original Christian story

That is, like Yahweh, Genesis was borrowed from Judaism.

The author of Genesis is unknown

Genesis was written by Jewish scribes shortly after the Babylonian exile (6th century BC), however, the exact author(s) is unknown. Contrary to popular belief, though, it was not written by Moses.

 

All of which leads to three things that one ought to know about Christianity.

Who were the very first Christians?

Obviously, the disciples, themselves, were the very first Christians (i.e. followers of Christ).

What did the disciples believe in?

The disciples’ beliefs were based on their first-hand experiences from being around Jesus. What Jesus taught them, they taught others. The disciples were Jewish and they lived their lives strictly in accordance with the Jewish Written Law, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). The scriptures that they studied were from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament); as for the New Testament scriptures, they had not yet been written as of that time.

Who decided the official church doctrine?

There was a lot of diversity in early Christian thinking. After much debate, the core tenets of Christianity were officially decided by a series of church councils beginning with the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, which was convened under the auspices of the Roman Emperor, Constantine I.

 

All of which takes us back to the literal beginning…to Genesis. That is, what makes Genesis so important to Christianity? Does it answer the age-old questions of how and why were we created?

How were we created?

Well, for starters, Genesis has an explanation of how life was created. The Bible’s concept of God creating the heavens and earth is sometimes referred to as Creation Out of Nothing. Interestingly enough, that concept is actually supported somewhat by science whose own Big Bang Theory is also, essentially, creation out of nothing.

Why were we created?

Almost everyone I know has, at one time or another, wanted to know the reason for their existence. That is, what is the meaning of life? Genesis has a reason, but it isn’t exactly what you might think or have been taught to believe. Genesis actually says that man was created to care for the Garden of Eden.  As for the woman, she apparently was an afterthought as she was created later (to be a companion for man).

 

In search of God

Man has been forever in search of his origins, in search of his creator; in other words, in search of God. God, of course, is the main character of the Genesis story.  However, there are some age-old questions that Genesis doesn’t answer about him.  For example, although much has been said about God, we still don’t know what God looks like. How could that information have possibly been left out of the Genesis story…unless the author didn’t know.

Further, did Adam really have a fireside chat with God and did Eve really have a conversation with a talking snake? The answer to those questions is that Genesis should not be read literally (rather it’s allegorical in nature).  Luminaries such as Paul, St Augustine, Philo of Alexandria and Origen all agreed that certain parts of Genesis should not be read literally. Accordingly, down through the years, there have been a myriad of interpretations concerning the Creation.  Even people who still read Genesis literally have different interpretations from each other.

As a result, everyone has an opinion and they say that they’re the only one that knows the truth. Perhaps, in the final analysis, that’s the only thing that you really need to know about the Bible.

 

Epilogue

The Hebrew scribes that penned Genesis no doubt relied on older sources for their story.  Among other reasons, I can say that with full confidence because Genesis was written some 3,000 years after-the-fact. Yes, 3,000 years if you can even imagine that. Besides, as the Talmud says, some Genesis passages were taken from tradition (in other words older belief systems) or older writings. So, Genesis, while it may be an interesting read, is not even an original rendering of the creation story.

 

“For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”

– Origen, Christian theologian

Paradise Lost

09/21/2015

Man has been forever in search of Shangri-La, or paradise as most people think of it. The Bible’s rendering of the Garden of Eden story was not the first written story on the subject – far from it. Hundreds of years earlier, the ancient Sumerians wrote The Epic of Gilgamesh which is considered by some scholars to be the first great work of literature, as well as an influence on the Bible and the epic works of Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey).

However, the Bible story is the one that most everyone knows and loves. It centers around a man named Adam and a woman named Eve.  Interestingly enough, they were both referred to as adam, since adam was not a name but rather a designation for mankind (see Genesis 5:2). Adam was created first and Eve was created (cloned, as it were) afterwards out of Adam, even though Adam was a man and Eve was a woman.  No doubt, the author of Genesis had little to no understanding of genetics.  

 

The Tree of Knowledge

At first, God gave every tree to man (Genesis 1:29) but later put one tree, the Tree of Knowledge, off-limits. The change of heart was not exactly what you would expect from an omniscient being. However, the Bible later reveals God’s concern. That is, in Genesis 3:22, we learn: “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” So, God was afraid that man, who was created in his own image and likeness, would become exactly like him, a god.  Is that even possible? There’s really only two ways to slice it; either man was created with the potential to be a god or the god of Genesis was not really God (the prime creator). Take your pick.

Aside: According to the Bible, the serpent confirmed that God was afraid of man partaking of the Tree of Knowledge, as follows: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5).”

An interesting part of the story is that God told Eve, under no uncertain circumstances, that they would die if they ate from the Tree of Knowledge. When God found out that they had eaten the fruit of the tree, he punished them for their disobedience even though, at that point, they could not have comprehended the difference between right and wrong.

Aside: Where’s the morality in that?

 

Good guys and bad guys

Further, God also punished the serpent for telling the truth (as opposed to God who lied about dying if one ate from the tree). Every story has to have a bad guy and in this case the serpent was so honored. After all, if there was evil in the world, someone else other than God had to be blamed. Never mind that an all-knowing God created both man and the serpent. So, obviously, the god of Genesis was the source of evil no matter how you look at it. Besides, as it says in the Bible, “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it (Amos 3:6)?”

In the mythologies of cultures around the world, the serpent/snake/dragon has been revered and even considered sacred. In Greek mythology, which predated the writing of Genesis, Ladon was the serpent-like dragon that was coiled around the tree in the garden of the Hesperides protecting the divine golden apples. Sound familiar?

Aside: Jesus, himself, said that men should be as wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16).

Upon further reflection, the worst dude in Genesis is hardly Cain. Rather, it’s God himself. If you don’t believe me, let’s recap:

  • God promised man all the trees in Creation, and then reneged concerning The Tree of Knowledge.
  • God lied about dying if man ate from The Tree of Knowledge.
  • God punished Adam and Eve unfairly for what they unknowingly did.

The clincher is that when God saw that man had “become evil”, he wiped out almost his entire Creation from the face of the earth.

Aside: So, I’m pretty sure that when Moses received the Ten Commandments from God that Moses might have asked God about why man should have to keep commandments which God, himself, violated and God probably replied, “Do as I say and not as I do.”

 

Final thoughts

Why did God kick man out of the Garden, anyway? It couldn’t be because of eating the apple since that story was a complete subterfuge. After all, what kind of a god would have expected that man would know the difference between good and evil even though he was denied access to The Tree of Knowledge? The real answer as to why man was banished from the Garden of Eden was to deny him access to the other “tree”, The Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22). You wouldn’t want your creation to live forever just like you, would you?

Obviously, being all-knowing, God knew in advance that the entire affair would unfold exactly the way it did. Actually, he knew even before he created mankind. Yet, he created man anyway, promised him paradise and then took it all away. That’s the real story of the adams’ family, a talking snake and how paradise was lost. John Milton would have been proud.

 

 

 

 

In my last post The Pascal Wager, I may have left you hanging a little bit (intentionally). I said that Christianity does not have its roots in the Old Testament. To understand this, you have to go back to the beginning – of the Old Testament, that is.

However, first let’s digress and spend a minute discussing the core teachings of Christianity. Since Christianity comes in many different forms and flavors (denominations, that is), there is a difference in beliefs between some of these denominations. Despite their differences, they mostly (most, but not all) believe in the concepts of the Trinity, Original Sin and salvation through Jesus.

The problem is that none of these concepts can be found in the Old Testament, notwithstanding later reinterpretation by the Church.  The Old Testament was written by Jews, about Jews and for Jews. It was never even intended to be read by gentiles. If you want to adopt the Old Testament, that’s one thing but adopting only certain parts is intellectually dishonest. Otherwise, Christianity should also have adopted (among other things) Jewish law, which is based on the Torah. The fact is that Jesus and the disciples led their lives according to the Torah and if people are to be followers of Jesus they need to follow in his footsteps. Don’t you think?  After all, Jesus said that he had come to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17).

 

Back to the beginning

The concept of Original Sin is linked to the story of Adam and Eve which is sometimes referred to as “The Fall of Man.” Unfortunately for those who want to hang their hat on that story, it’s wholly allegorical in nature. Anyway, who believes in talking snakes? The allegorical nature of Genesis was confirmed by early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria who had this to say about the Genesis story, “For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”

So, exactly why does Christianity have a need to have a concept like Original Sin as a central tenet of their faith? Why, indeed? If Jesus didn’t teach it, how is it possible that it ever became such a big part of Christian theology? The answer is that without Original Sin there is no logic as to why Jesus had to die on the cross. He had come to save us (as the story goes) from the consequences of our sins. However, Jesus would have never had to make the sacrifice if we never had to be saved in the first place.

The reality is that Original Sin is a byproduct of Church dogma. As for the Bible, it actually refutes the concept of Original Sin.  For example, in Deuteronomy 24:16, it clearly states that: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”  Even the god of Genesis denied the possibility of Original Sin. He stated that man is inclined towards evil but is not sinful by nature (see Genesis 8:21). Of course, the whole issue is moot because Judaism doesn’t believe in Original Sin and they wrote the Old Testament – it’s their bible.

Aside: Even Jesus didn’t believe in Original Sin as can be clearly seen in John 9:2-3, as follows: “And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'”

 

A question of moral authority

Above all, what’s required in any religion is moral authority. Anybody can stand on the street corner and pontificate about the Creation. However, who would believe him? Even more to the point, who would put some money in his hat because he supposedly imparted some divine wisdom? However, what if you put the fear of eternal damnation in people? Would they put some money in the hat (read: church coffers) if you offered them salvation from their sins? Many would, of course, has history has clearly demonstrated.

So did man really have to be saved? One could argue, I suppose, that if man violated God’s laws that he should be punished. However, who is to say what those laws are or if, in fact, any person violated them? This all presupposes, of course, that there is a God and that he has laws and that he would want to punish his creation with eternal damnation for any violations.

So, there remains the question of man’s violation of God’s laws because without any violation, salvation would not be necessary. Remember, religion requires moral authority. Therefore, it needs to be proven that a violation did happen, and that God, in fact, condemned man. Enter Adam and Eve.

Now, the Genesis story does provide some elements of moral authority. For example, God tells man not to eat from the tree, man disobeys and God punishes him. Of course, there are a number of things wrong with the story, not the least of which is that it was allegorical. Further, the story was written by an unknown author(s). Like the person on the street corner (see above), why should anyone believe him?

Then there’s the “damnation conundrum.” By that, I mean that salvation is only relevant if man was originally condemned to eternal damnation. In Genesis, we find that God did punish man but it’s not exactly what you might think. According to the Bible, this was God’s punishment:

To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful

labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will

rule over you.’  To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from

the tree about which I commanded you, You must not eat from it, Cursed is the ground

         because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It

will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the

sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it

you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’”

– Genesis 3:16-19

Therefore, according to the Bible itself, man never was condemned to hell.  How’s that for a lack of moral authority?

At this point the logic becomes rather irrefutable. Since there was no eternal damnation, salvation is not required. No salvation means that a savior is not necessary. No savior means that a religion is not needed. On a more practical note, no religion means that tithing is no longer mandatory. Hallelujah! Now that’s something that I can truly sing praises about.

 

Epilogue

Religions are all different, but they generally have one thing in one common. They provide their believers with the hope of an afterlife. I refer to it as the selling of salvation. When someone says “come to my tent”, you have no reason to go unless they offer you something; especially since you will no doubt be contributing to their coffers. So religions must convince you that God talks to them, and to them alone, and that he has revealed what the afterlife is like and what you have to do to receive eternal salvation. After all, without the promise of an afterlife, who needs religion?

 

 

“One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.”

– Brian McLaren, Christian pastor and writer

 

 

 

The Pascal Wager

09/07/2015

In the seventeenth century, Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher and mathematician, devised what has been referred to as The Pascal Wager. The Pascal Wager laid out the probability of the impact on one’s life if they accepted or rejected the idea of God. Christians like to point to the Pascal Wager as if to say, “What do you have to lose if you convert to Christianity?” The inference is that if Christianity is right you’ll be saved (if you converted) and, if they’re wrong, you’ve lost next to nothing.

Without getting into the ramifications of the logic of the Pascal Wager itself, I believe that Christianity has overlooked a very important point of a philosophy which they have embraced. You see, Pascal (a Christian himself) stated that, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible.” Let that soak in for a moment. Stated in other words, man has absolutely no idea what God is like (assuming, of course, that he even exists). The Gospel of John is somewhat in agreement with The Pascal Wager in this regard, as it says that no man has ever seen God. Yet, despite this, deists are absolutely certain that they know God.

The Old Testament is a particularly sticky wicket. The reason is that the Old Testament is actually the Jewish Bible, which Christianity adopted as part of their own Bible. It’s a twisted road as how we got from Judaism to Christianity, but it goes something like this. Jesus and the disciples were Jewish. They led their lives according to the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Many years after the crucifixion of Jesus, their small, religious sect would morph into Christianity.

However, here’s where the road gets treacherous.  Although Christianity arose out of Judaism and adopted the Jewish Bible as part of their own Bible, there are surprisingly major differences between Christianity and Judaism, as follows:

  • Christianity believes in the Trinity, Judaism does not.
  • A core concept of Christianity is Original Sin, which they claim arose from Adam and Eve. Judaism does not have such a concept. Further, the Adam and Eve story was theirs. They wrote it. Yet, Christianity claims that they fully understand the story, but the people who wrote it don’t.  How bizarre is that?
  • The god of Judaism is a quasi-physical life form that made appearances to various people like Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and Joshua. The God of the New Testament, according to Paul and John, is an invisible spirit.
  • Christianity has a divine messiah (Jesus) which they consider to be a universal messiah for the whole world. They believe that the coming of their messiah was foretold in the Old Testament. The problem is that the Old Testament prophecies were written by Hebrew (Jewish) prophets concerning the coming of a Jewish messiah. This Jewish messiah was to be simply a man rather than some divine entity, like say the Son of God, and he would be both king and messiah much like King David was.  Interestingly enough, one of the most important Old Testament prophecies was that the Jewish messiah would come to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel as opposed to the universal messiah that Christianity was expecting.

Christianity arose from Judaism, it’s true, although to be even more precise Christianity hijacked Judaism.  Yes, hijacked. That is, they adopted it but then radically changed it. For example, Christianity borrowed the god of the Old Testament (and changed him in the New Testament), they borrowed the messiah concept of the Old Testament (and then totally changed it) and for good measure they discarded the core concept of Judaism, the Torah. To add insult to injury, they took a story about a talking snake, which was meant to be allegorical in nature, and turned it into a literal interpretation complete with a concept (Original Sin) which is not even mentioned in the Torah.

Bottom line: Even though Christianity claims that their religion has its roots in the Old Testament – it really doesn’t.

Exactly how did we get in such a mess, anyway? Well, for starters, Christianity claims to have a more perfect understanding of the Old Testament than the people who wrote it (Jewish holy men). For example, assume that you had written a great work, like The Wizard of Oz, and that you were explaining to a group of people who the Wizard of Oz really was (since he was the man behind the screen that nobody ever saw). Imagine how you might feel if someone in the group jumped up, claiming that they knew all about the Wizard, although they had never met him, and that they disagreed with your explanation even though the Wizard was a character that you had personally made up.  That’s Old Testament reinterpretation in a nutshell.  It’s always convenient to prove one’s religious dogma by claiming that the Bible means what you say it does, as opposed to what the words actually say.

So, the next time you hear someone say that God is omnipotent, omnipresent or omniscient, just remind them that The Pascal Wager states that God is infinitely incomprehensible. According to Pascal, there is no way for us to know what God is like; He transcends the power of human conception (i.e. the finite cannot conceive of the infinite). Yet, some have been so arrogant and presumptuous as to state otherwise. No doubt, Pascal is rolling over in his grave.

 

Epilogue

The concept of Original Sin is antithetical to the core beliefs of the Torah.  This is confirmed in Deuteronomy 24:16, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”  Even the god of Genesis denied the possibility of Original Sin. He stated that man is inclined towards evil but is not sinful by nature (see Genesis 8:21).

“Since no one really knows anything about God, those who think they do are just troublemakers.”

– Sufi mystic Rabia Basri

The Two-Faced God

08/31/2015

Both Paul and John wrote that God was an invisible spirit. Yet, other parts of the Bible say otherwise. So which is right?

According to the Bible, you have any number of people who physically encountered God, starting with Adam and Eve and including Ezekiel, Daniel, Abraham, Isaiah, Joshua, Moses and Jacob (who supposedly wrestled with God) and then, of course, there is Revelation. Isaiah is an interesting case because the renown prophet described God as seated on a throne wearing a long, flowing robe – and absolutely nothing else. If you’re reading the Book of Isaiah, you’re waiting for the prophet to describe his once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the Ancient One and all he has to say about God is that he was seated on a throne wearing a robe. There were so many things about God that people were dying to know… and yet he basically said nothing! How is that possible?

It kind of makes you wonder if Isaiah actually met God. Even if one accepts his story at face value, Isaiah obviously didn’t know what God looked like so how did he know that it was really God? It was an other-worldly apparition, to be sure, but God? Why not an angel, a demon or the devil himself (perhaps in disguise)?

Aside: Perhaps it was even the Gnostics’ evil Ialdabaoth himself.

Yet, Paul and John said that God was spirit and John elaborated by saying that no man had ever met God. That raises questions about the veracity of the stories about people having contact with God.  Were theses stories pure fiction, such as one’s minister opening his sermon with “and last night God talked to me”, or might they have been based on real-life events, events where the participants might have believed that they had come in direct contact with the Absolute?

For most people, the answer to this question is irrelevant. As Stuart Chase so aptly put it, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” In any event, though, the God of the Bible has been shown to be a two-faced god.  On the one hand he is a physical life form who is jealous, vengeful and prone to violence; on the other hand he is an invisible spirit who is described as being all-loving. With two such totally disparate concepts, the Bible could hardly be considered to be the unerring Word of God.

 

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (emphasis mine)

 – Romans 1:21-25

This is the last of my four part series on Genesis – Making Sense Out of Genesis, The Debate, Why Genesis Is Not Believable and lastly Why They Believe.

The origin of religious belief is simple; it’s because they were told to believe.

In Saudi Arabia, people grow up with Islam because they are told to. They are told that Islam is the Word of Allah. Questioning of their faith is not allowed. The same picture develops in other parts of the world. In India, they are primarily Hindus, in China they are Buddhists, in Israel it’s Judaism and in western civilization mostly Christianity, despite having freedom of religion. I say despite freedom of religion because where I grew up Catholics and Protestants would live next door to one another and yet their kids would also be Catholics and Protestants, respectively. So a person’s religion is simply based on the religion of their parents whose religion was based on the very same religion of their parents, and so on. It’s a social phenomenon based on cultural indoctrination. Rarely, does anyone ever question their faith.

If you’ve ever seen a video of life inside a madrassa, you know exactly what I mean. In a madrassa, young children are taught to recite from their holy book by chanting scripture. They don’t even know what the words mean. Actually, it’s not important what the words mean. It’s only important that one follows along with the mindless exercise. The same picture repeats itself at The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. As adults, these very same children who were taught to mindlessly chant from their holy book are still doing the same thing. Talk about brainwashing.

Behind every belief system is a subconscious need to believe, or perhaps more accurately – to belong. That’s how clubs and cults operate. It’s also how the family system works. People are social creatures who need to belong (whether they realize it or not). The price of belonging is to follow the rules. In religion, it’s to be true to your faith – or to be more exact, to its dogma that was formulated by who knows who a couple of thousand years ago.

The beliefs of the various religions have some similarities and some things which are totally different. However, they generally have one thing in common. The origins of their beliefs usually started with some sort of extraterrestrial intervention. That is, Joseph Smith (the Mormon religion) received writings from an angel, Mohammed (Islam) received a revelation from an angel, Zoroaster (Zoroastrianism) received his holy Commandments on the top of a sacred mountain as did Moses (Judaism) and Paul (Christianity) had an unearthly encounter with Jesus. In cults, the usual story is that the leader is supposedly the reincarnation of some holy person, as if there even is such a thing. Of course, there would have been no way for any of  them to know for certain who or what they were dealing with. They simply accepted what they were told from some extraterrestrial entity. That is, that they were led to believe that they were being visited by an angel, by God or by Jesus, as the case might be.

So believing is easy. We all do it, all the time. Knowing the truth is altogether another matter. As wise a man as Socrates realized that the truth is ultimately unknowable. With respect to religion, the Pascal Wager sums this up quite nicely as follows, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible.” Further, in the field of science, Einstein realized that the universe (creation) was unknowable, even to him. Despite this, religions of all stripes claim that they, above all others, are privy to the Word of God and believe that their holy book is the one and only authentic Book of God. In the final analysis, religion is really a no brainer for most people. Knowingly or unknowingly, they just accept what they’re told and they have faith that it’s right. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith.

 

” How can you say that you are wise and that you have the LORD’s teachings? The scribes have used their pens to turn these teachings into lies.”

– Jeremiah 8:8

 

 

In my last post, I said that there was a debate about Genesis, but in reality there is no debate. Genesis simply is not believable.   Let’s break it down.

  • According to the chronology given in the Bible, Adam and Eve were created some 5,000 years ago. Science says that man (homo sapiens sapiens) was created at least 100,000 years ago, if not much longer. For that matter, there is no scientific evidence of a global flood (as stated in the Bible) in the last 5,000 years.
  • Scholars aren’t exactly sure just who wrote Genesis. If Moses wrote the Pentateuch, which includes Genesis, then he wrote about something (Genesis) that occurred some 2,000 years before he was born. That’s akin to someone trying to write the New Testament today. It would also have been pretty difficult for him to have written the entire Pentateuch because parts of it relate to periods after he had already died! Since no one knows who wrote Genesis, why should anyone believe it? In fact, scholars are not even sure who compiled the Old Testament (or exactly when for that matter). One thing is absolutely true, though. That is, Genesis was not written until long after the events were suppose to have occurred; events that had no eyewitnesses.
  • Who was there at the very beginning to hear the words that God supposedly uttered in Genesis 1? Obviously, no one was there. Man hadn’t even been created yet.
  • Adam and Eve were seemingly created simultaneously (see Genesis 1:27).  So how was it then that Eve was created from Adam’s rib? For that matter, the Bible says that both Adam and Eve were called adam (Genesis 1:27) as it was, in reality, not a name but rather a designation for a human life form. Yet, that distinction is never made clear in Genesis.
  • God gave the Tree of Knowledge to man for food (see Genesis 1:29) and then later prohibited him from eating from it (see Genesis 2:16,17). This after he said that all of creation was good. Obviously, then, Creation wasn’t perfect as God had created something which had to be placed off-limits to man. As it turns out, the creation of man wasn’t perfect either as God later decided to destroy his own imperfect creation with the Great Flood.
  • To believe in the Genesis story, one has to believe in talking snakes. Further, God created the serpent so God is obviously the source of evil in the world (according to the Bible itself).
  • Cain, the first child, was banished from the garden and left and found himself a wife. Further, before Cain left the garden God put a mark on him to protect him from enemies. According to the Bible, there would be no one for Cain to have married nor would he have had any enemies because nobody else existed – there was just Adam, Eve and Cain (with Abel having been killed by Cain).

I could go on but at that this point you have either stopped listening or its patently obvious to you why Genesis doesn’t make any sense. One last point, though. Christianity holds that man is the point of Creation. Long ago, scientific theory stated that the sun rotated around the earth, with man then the center of the universe (creation). Of course, that wasn’t true, was it?

However, the Bible says that man was created to till the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:15). His fate, then, was to be a worker, tending to the garden. The Bible further confirms this saying, “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground…” (Genesis 2:5) – emphasis mine. In the very next sentence in Genesis, God creates man.

Further, the garden was only a small part of Creation -“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden” (Genesis 2:8). Man hardly had dominion over all the animals and all the plants. All that he was supposed to do was to tend to this one garden.

Real or not, why should the Genesis story matter? Well, the central tenet of Christianity is salvation and the Garden of Eden story (eating of the apple) is the stated basis of the Original Sin concept. Without a need for salvation, there is no reason for a messiah. Bottom line: No original sin, no salvation, no messiah, no Christ…no Christianity.

 

Epilogue

The writers of Genesis did not believe in the concept of Original Sin. It’s antithetical to the core principles of Judaism. Even more to the point –

  • Jesus didn’t believe in it: “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responded by saying, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” – John 9:2,3
  • Paul didn’t believe in it: “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.” – Romans 5:14
  • The Bible doesn’t support it: “ … and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth….” – Genesis 8:21

 

“For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”

– Origen of Alexandria (the first theologian of Christianity)