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Mystic Emotions, Spirituality, Fables, Bibles — (briefly)

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(Dec. 25th, and ff.)

I have heard today (Christmas Day) from a few people who are absent contact with their kids or in this fight (I am the former today and most holidays).

It is very cold and rainy here, and I am not in a position to assemble a proper post, but for the sake of the day, these passages are from one of my blogs, JesusLordChrist:

I started that blog to honor and speak about the conflict between spirituality (as I experience it, and understand its connection with the written/spoken Bible) and what I see and experienced with the visible institutions, and religions loosely calling themselves “churches” or “Christianity,” and the behaviors promoted and encouraged among those who attend and support. Over the years I have come to the  conclusion that, much as I appreciate the artistic endeavors over the centuries, and who wouldn’t like a nice sense of community — those accoutrements are not worth hanging around places which are both demeaning to women as a whole, AND dangerous to them, plus to children as well.

Add to this the collaboration with abusive and many times fraudulent government programs as I have been documenting herein, and they are just not worth it.  Some are reactionary against women having the vote; and if one balances the soup kitchens and charitable work they do, with the damages, who would weigh it in the balances?  Then, some are simply cults….

To me, understanding the language and its expression is key.

Regarding the next passage, which is held to be a prophesy of the Messiah, a.k.a. to be Jesus, I can understand how people would want these qualities in a leader.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” (Isaiah 11:1-5)

(For its context: search tools.

http://bible.cc too many crappy versions, but also interlinear etc.
http://blueletterbible.org easier to navigate, fewer options?)

[much of this segment added 12/26, which is now a wet but sunlit day in my area.  Yesterday was nasty as to weather; a good place to stay in your home — which too many people don’t have; or with your family for some social/emotional warmth — which plenty more don’t have either. ]

Unfortunately these days, we do not have those qualities in our leaders, and will be needing to acquire them ourselves.  ….

We could all use a lot more of these qualities in 2013.  Isaiah prophesied that these came from the “spirit of the Lord,” right:

wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

Oh, you don’t like that last one, perhaps?  Would you prefer wisdom and understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, etc. — just without that LORD part?
And yet the scriptures really do say, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and that the fool says in his heart, “there is no God.”  In James, believers are coached to quit backpatting themselves because they actually believe in God with this phrase:
 in James 2 in an extended (harrangue) on not having “respect of persons,” faith & works, etc.  in general, hypocrisy:

14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Back to Isaiah:  It was prophesied that this Branch out of a root of Jesse (Jesse being in the line of David) would have the spirit of the Lord upon him, which was exactly what Jesus declared was the situation in Luke 4:18 in announcing his ministry:  “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he hath anointed me to preach deliverance to the captives,….” (etc.)  It was understood that those qualities were spiritual qualities and they came from the LORD.  Isaiah 11, as above:

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth

To the extent there are social communications, sooner or later, there are going to be what we call “judges” or a council of elders; when there are disputes, someone has to settle them.   What better qualities can one have than understanding, not being swayed by appearances, the ability to tell hearsay from truth, and having seen and heard, know where righteousness actually is in any situation!
Who, longing to see some family members, or to have ongoing destructions in their lives (or familys’ lives) stopped, lacking the ability and force to do so personally — would not want an honest, ethical judge whose word would speak power into the situation and rectify it?
But with no reproof, no consequences, there’s not really judgment.  So no one wants to really take responsibility for this part?

“and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked”

So,  maybe the wicked can be reformed, transformed, or coached into being nice people, so no one will really stand up to them?  As someone who has lived many years with no one even speaking up against (certain activities that are socially — supposedly — condemned, indeed, criminal), I learned that my life, safety, and literally the law itself — were so context-specific as to be meaningless; and definitely not mine-only.  They were there, actually for a semblance of obedience (as are churches today, and all their moral code) for those who feel like obeying them.  It’s basically there for decoration and can be taken down periodically and at will as needed.
Moreover, (while I’m here) is there any question that “rod of his mouth” and “with the breath of his slips shall he slay,” — that this is figurative, dramatic speech, but has an element of reality (truth) to it when a leader speaks whose utterances are literally carried out?  If so, then why can’t the average Christian who carries this book around in a dog-eared version, actually understand when it’s intended to be figurative,  when literal?

Unfortunately these days, we do not have those qualities in our leaders, and will be needing to acquire them ourselves.  ….

I have lived long enough to deal with many types of spirituality — but at some point in time we need to quit screwing around and face the issues of Good and Evil, True and False, and either develop OR obtain, if you will, a “spiritual understanding.”

With this quick (not “slow” and not “dull”) of understanding, many, many people with leadership qualities, and resolve, and commitment — need to not only exhibit those qualities, but identify and stand against state religions based on lies and myths call them what they are, and be willing to risk the consequences — mostly social, definitely financial (those two being related) and also physical quit subscribing, and convince by reason (not force, not charm) others to also quit subscribing.

When people are intentionally, deliberately, and consciously lying – and propagating such lies by force and for profit — it’s very late in the game, but the only “moral” stance is to resist, boycott, speak against, and withstand at all points possible.   

We will be faced with consequences eventually.  Where do you stand on these primary issues?  

Right now, for example, I believe these are ultimately spiritual — not social — qualities.  And that what we see institutionally or socially, are expressions of that.

I also (pending further good information) am hanging with the description of evil as the utter absence of good, definition of it, or intent to work good — and I also believe that good comes from “God” in the form of holy spirit.  Therefore, the intent to lie in order to defraud someone would be evil.  The intent to threaten or derail people who seek the truth (of a given situation) from finding out about it (i.e., covering up wrongdoing) is of course evil.

If one party has no standard or measure for what is right, or just, there are some issues on which communication is not about to happen, when life and death is at stake, and then it’s only a matter of power.

Emotion // Passion is good, not bad, and I believe changes people.  I am far more afraid of people who utterly lack it, and only have a cold, calculated design in mind than of those who are on some sort of rampage so as not to think clearly.  At some point, should enough of the American public wise up to what’s been done with their wealth, assets, and currency by those in public office (I’m talking at the top levels primarily) get beyond being manipulated into emotions which cloud the ability to see clearly — those sociopaths should also be afraid of our clear-headed intention to see the truth of what’s going on,  as well.

The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science.
Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man.
To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties – this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment.
In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.

On Science, Awe, and Humility

Spirituality =/= Religion. One breathes life. Religion is tradition, to “tie it back,” literally.

“Mere unbelief in a personal God is no philosophy at all.”
Albert Einstein, letter to V. T Aaltonen, May 7, 1952, Einstein Archive 59-059; from Alice Calaprice, ed., The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 216.
“I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
Albert Einstein, to Guy H. Raner Jr., September 28, 1949; from Michael R. Gilmore, “Einstein’s God: Just What Did Einstein Believe About God?,” Skeptic, 1997, 5(2):64.

“Mere unbelief in a personal God is no philosophy at all.”
Albert Einstein, letter to V. T Aaltonen, May 7, 1952, Einstein Archive 59-059; from Alice Calaprice, ed., The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 216.


A sampling of manuscripts from a BibleAncient Bibles On-Line

1390 Wycliffe NT Erasmus Greek Latin Erasmus Greek NT
1522 September Luther NT 1530 Luther NT 1535 Coverdale Bible
1537 Matthews Bible 1541 Great Bible 1549 Matthews Tyndale Bible
1550 Stephanus Greek NT 1551 Taverneres Bible 1552 Jugges Tyndale NT
1557 Geneva NT 1563 Foxes Book of Martyrs 1568 Bishops Bible
1569 Spanish Bear Bible 1583 Noblest Geneva Bible 1599 Hugh Polyglot
1611 KJV First Edition 1709 1st English American 1731 Wycliffe NT
 1841 Hexapla




… Like the state and in bed with it,religionenslaves and places heavy yokes and burdens on people. Overall, it eventually starves them.
My personal stance on Jesus, who was this man,  supposedly born — or at least we are to collectively pretend he was for social bonding and commercial reasons at this season on December 25th– goes like this, and I feel is pretty straightforward in the Bible, at least.  The logic in me entails that if any person is going to claim to believe in Jesus and in the Bible, this should start with the basic ability to read it.  When I later (after reading this book in more depth AFTER initial heart-level/verbal commitment ) learned that I was supposed to believe in something called a “Trinity,” I settled the matter to my satisfactions by going through the gospels, and Acts, and the “epistles’ (after quickly realizing the word doesn’t occur in it) and simply classify what it said versus what others said it said — and there is a consistency in the language (believe it or not).

~DAVID/Psalm 110 “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” ~JESUS/Matthew 22:42 ( to Pharisees) “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” (of David) “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord? (quotes Ps 110)..If David call him Lord, how then is he his son?”

Many years later, I had much, much, (much, much, much) more personal experience within churches after standing up to violence in the home, and with other (women) who had also gone through this.  I had experience as a single mother attempting to speak in churches in a way that (actually) was permitted to, sometimes, women without children, or in a way that I was “allowed” to speak (though not freely, particularly not in my own marriage, which was abusive) with a husband nearby, or with that profile — “married.”
Basically, these institutions can’t handle intelligent competent women speaking scripture — however those that do, are also bought into the mainframe fallacies built into the theology not by reason, but by force, approximately 1800 years ago.  See Constantine.
This habit of religion + state force has not ceased since.  As we should know by now — the two main businesses governments (including religious institutions) are in is:
  • military expansion = exploitation
  • with the plunders of expansion/exploitation building monuments (take a look around!), sometimes built by conquered populations (bulk physical labor and brain labor as well).
  • these monuments — along with holidays in which we congregate around them — are visible manifestations that the national religion should be worshipped, sacrificed to, honored, tributes should go to it,and occasionally humans and children be sacrificed to it.
Indeed, the national ability to “let’s just pretend” as many people KNOW but still pretend about the date of December regarding the birth of Christ; as even more parents KNOW but still pretend for blending in with the community, in Santa Claus, after which when children are older, they reveal that they have lied to their kids for the sake of social and commercial acceptance — has many parallells in the state religion of, like obedient, occasionally unruly, but basically “buying the central ideology” of the state, do not face up to the fact that it’s not really “Santa Claus.”
As such, I believe that everyone (whether a “believer” or not) should understand the texts of other religions — and their ruling paradigms in order to understand that language, which is again, a common human language of the emotions, psyche, and associations (society) — which of course includes commerce.  This includes war, obviously.
Incomplete, just wanted to get my two bits out today.  Let’s talk about this later… about the pros and cons of subscribing to myths.  It should be understood (and is clear from history) that when one fails to join up, there can be serious consequences to “excommunication.”
As I say, let’s talk about this later.  Once certain myths start to fall off, I’m telling you, the desire for less adulterated truth increases; in fact you are hungry for it.
“DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER” is a Marketing Myth sponsored by a certain cartel.
Yet how many of us still emotionally connect the ring with the commitment?
This myth is no longer that secret — the secret’s already out.
Google it — I got among others, a link to DeBeers with a pop-up “Select Your Region” (!!) (International, US, UK, or France), “DeBeers Diamond Jewelry, Diamond Engagement Rings,  Wedding Rings & More” (on the window frame for that webpage), or,
a reference to an old James Bond movie, or an expose; (2004, The Economist//good read!)

The cartel isn’t for ever

An Israeli tycoon is helping to force De Beers to surrender its control of the world’s diamond market

Jul 15th 2004 | JOHANNESBURG AND WINDHOEK | from the print edition

HOW much turmoil can the diamond industry sustain without shattering? On July 13th in an Ohio court De Beers, the world’s largest producer of rough stones, finally pleaded guilty to charges of price-fixing of industrial diamonds and agreed to pay a $10m fine, thereby ending a 60-year-long impasse. De Beers executives are at last free to visit and work directly in the largest diamond market, America.

A few days earlier, on July 9th, the first case of successful industry self-regulation against trade in so-called “conflict diamonds” took place when Congo-Brazzaville was punished for failing to prove the source of its diamond exports. And on June 28th Lev Leviev, an arch-rival of De Beers, opened Africa’s biggest diamond-polishing factory in Namibia.

Behind all these events lies sweeping change in an industry that sells $60-billion-worth of jewellery alone each year. For generations it has been run by De Beers as a cartel. The South African firm dominated the digging and trading of diamonds for most of the 20th century. Yet the system for distributing stones established decades ago by De Beers is curious and anomalous—no other such market exists, nor would anything similar be tolerated in a serious industry.

Self-regulation, my eye!  When industries are talking about that, the real intent is probably cooperating on licensing (and controlling) an industry among themselves, shortly before it’s about to go down out of internal corruption and embarrassment.  In my opinion, that is.
Here’s another, dated 2008 — and talking about artificial production of diamonds (i.e., semiconductor research) that even the experts can’t tell apart, forcing DeBeers to go through some more hoops to distinguish theirs as “natural” as opposed to artificial.  I’ve quoted it up to the part where it reads, basically, would this affect your purchase of the luxury items? (I’m also by inclusion, linking to the Edward Jay Epstein expose, which should be read to understand commerce/government relationship in general.  Mr. Epstein, for reference, also wrote a controversial expose on Watergate, he’s definitely an “investigative reporter”!!!  This was posted at “TierneyLab” which a 2010 notice says, is now shut down.
TierneyLab - Putting Ideas in Science to the Test
June 23, 2008, 7:29 am

Diamonds or Oil, Is a Cartel Forever?


Diamond created in lab by Apollo Diamond
These gems were grown in the lab of Apollo Diamond by allowing carbon dioxide to crystallize over a diamond seed in a heated vacuum chamber. (Courtesy Apollo Diamond)

As Lab readers were debating Malthusianism and oil reserves, I noticed a couple of interesting items about diamonds, one of the most expensive and restricted resources on Earth.

The diamond cartel has survived more than a century, making it what Edward Jay Epstein calls “the most successful cartel arrangement in the annals of modern commerce.” The DeBeers cartel has kept prices of diamonds artificially high by limiting supply (and by creating demand through marketing like its 1947 slogan, “A diamond is forever.”)

Lately, though, the cartel has been under strain. “Cartel-free” diamonds are being mined and sold in Canada, where huge reserves have been discovered. (For an engrossing account of the epic quest to find diamonds near the Arctic Circle, see Kevin Krajick’s “Barren Lands.”) And now, as Ulrich Boser explains in Smithsonian, there’s a whole new threat: “virtual diamond mines” that are creating diamonds in laboratories that even the expert eye of a jeweler can’t distinguish from one found in the ground.

One of the leading companies, Apollo Diamond in Massachusetts, was created by a veteran of semiconductor research at Bell Labs who developed a chemical vapor deposition process to grow nearly flawless clear diamonds in the lab. The company has come up with slogans like “Nature, Perfected” and “A diamond is for everyone.” So far it’s not exactly pricing the stones for everyone — it’s more or less going along with the De Beers pricing scheme and not giving discounts more of more than 15 percent off the prices of mined diamonds.

But as more diamonds are grown in other labs, the competition may lead to price-cutting. (You can read about diamond-growing technologies a Times article by Anne Eisenberg). As Vanessa O’Connell reported in the Wall Street Journal, some veterans in the diamond industry are worried that diamonds could go the way of pearls: today 95 percent of pearls sold are cultured.

The DeBeers cartel is fighting the new competition by marketing their diamonds as “natural” and stressing their lineage, claiming that there’s an “inherent value” in stones that are millions of years old instead of the recent creations of a laboratory. Would you find that argument compelling when you’re shopping for diamonds?

OK, if not — then how about “Marriage is forever?”  (that is, apart from Mormons and other groups whose spirituality believe it outlasts death, making it unbelievable practical problems for those left on earth… and an inherent conflict with the laws of the United States of America, which permit divorce.)
But we all seem to long for someone to believe, with us, that marriage is forever, and that a very nice diamond somehow signifies this.  Hence the support of an international, and extremely violent, extortionist and devious cartel, thank you “Cecil Rhodes” and friends, whose profits were poured into restoring the British empire and commandeering some of the cream of the crop of American brainpower for an Oxford-based honors program to be trained up in how to help facilitate this — is emotionally tied to the act of marriage and with it, engagement rings.

OK now, how about this one?  Talk about a short, pithy phrase!

Jesus Christ, the same Today, Yesterday, and Forever

(vv. 7 & 8, in context, see link to the entire chapter).

When in fact, somewhere around 100 – 200 A.D., the Jesus Christ preached became “God” and in an exchange of tolerance and power for blending in that monotheism which best supports the needs of unifying an empire, and centuries of bookburnings and bannings, martyrs, etc., turned more towards politically incorrect interpretations of “jesus” than towards the heart of the spiritual and ethical matters.

While many do not agree with the JC the same phrase, or the Diamonds are Forever mantra — how many are willing to detox from it, quit buying and quit subscribing?

Moreover, who’s willing to put in a little time to tell myth from reality, realizing that it’s actually pretty lonely without choosing the local myth –as MOST human relationships are arranged around lots and lots of them!

The question to be asked: what would it cost me, personally, to detach from the worst of the lot (if not all of them) — is there a central “truth” which is higher, or more foundational, than the one that constitutes these ways of organizing reality, which doesn’t require, to sustain itself, the highest reaches of idiocy and the lowest depths of violence, bloodshed, and slavery.

I think that we’d best think about this, or the gap between experiential basic truth — and fabricated theology — is going to continue getting even higher than the wealth gaps (globally) between rich and poor, higher than the distance between the ground and the tallest cathedral spire.  What are those unshakeable realities – and do they involved spiritual matters — on which humans can survive.

I went looking for a book called “The Changing Faces of Jesus” (a book I have) and this seems to be a fair review of it, for further references.  The reviewer appreciates the author, but challenges him on “cherry-picking” sources.  It should be noted the unique position its author, Geza Vermes, was in, which you can look up in his biography.  His scholarship exceeds the normal, and from more than one point of view; I am interested in books like this particularly where conversions in (or out of) “Judaism” are involved:


The Changing Faces of Jesus – The Jesus He Wants to Find

In one sense, the final chapters of Geza Vermes’ book The Changing Faces of Jesus[i] are unnecessary.  Chapters one and two dealt with the Jesus described in the Gospel of John, chapters three and four with the Jesus of Paul, chapter fivewith the portrait of Jesus found in the Acts of the Apostles, and chapter sixcovered the Jesus described in the synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke.  Finally now in chapters seven and eight, Vermes describes the Jesus he believes to be the ‘real’ and ‘historical’ Jesus.

But he’s been doing this all along – holding this portrait up against the various portraits of Jesus he describes in the different parts of the New Testament.  The only new thing in these chapters is that Vermes is grounding this portrait of the ‘real and historical’ Jesus in “the realities of the Jewish world of his day.” This way, explains Vermes, is the only chance we have to “transform Jesus into a lifelike character.”  In another section Vermes describes the job of the historian as “to reconvert the Christ of the Gospels…into the real tangible, flesh-and-blood person who once used to walk on the rocky dusty paths of the first century rural Galilee.”[ii]  In these chapters Vemes quotes extra-biblical sources like the writings of the historian, Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the writings of the rabbis in the Mishnah to recreate the milieu of Jesus’ time and place, to retrieve the atmosphere that he breathed, so that we can “catch a glimpse of what he really was.[iii]
I think his choice of verbs here is particularly illuminating.  According to Vermes, we must “transform” Jesus and “reconvert” Jesus because the gospel writers have “concealed” and “disguised” him.[iv]   Though Vermes has described himself as an objective and neutral historian, [v] it’s apparent that he does have an agenda.  This isn’t a criticism or fault.  But he should be open and up front about it. Pretending to be unbiased is bad form and bad history.   It is true that the gospel writers have not written unbiased objective histories or modern biographies of Jesus.  We do need to read the gospels carefully, keeping in mind the Jewish context of Jesus’ life, but I am not convinced by Vermes’ arguments that primitive Christian church so completely obscured the historical Jesus.
{{(NOTE:  This book seems to have grabbed the blogger’s attention — there is another installment.  I do see from other posts that the author believes Jesus is God)}}:
But here Vermes seems to disparage the authors of the three synoptic gospels for not being “professional historians in search of critical objectivity…”[iii]  As if that were even possible!   Throughout this chapter on the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels (chapter 6) Vermes presents himself as an unbiased scholar sorting through the stories and titles and teachings of Jesus in order to present to us the  true and historical “portrait of Jesus intended by the Synoptics.”[iv]  But the Jesus he presents as the Jesus “intended by the Synoptics” is stripped of most of what the synoptic gospels present.
Jesus struggle with the various religious and political groups within Israel of the first century A.D. [v]is radically diminished.  Instead of facing antagonism from the multiple factions of leadership, Vermes says that the true, historical Jesus only faced opposition from the Temple authorities in Jerusalem during the last week of his life.[vi]  He dismisses any synoptic description of conflict with the Pharisees saying, “…any substantial presence of the Pharisees in Galilee in early first century A.D. is at best unproven and in general highly improbable.”[vii]
That bold statement took me by surprise – so I did a bit of digging and found that his assertion isn’t as solid as he makes it sound.  It is, in fact, the complete opposite conclusion reached by other New Testament scholars.

I was going to say more, but it got so interesting, so political, and so current (not to mention, LONG), that I decided that material belongs on another post.

This commentary (Guardian.uk) at least tells something of who Geza Vermes is — and I’m posting it here.  Follow-up may be on this blog or, literally, any other one; I’ll let you know.  They are all interrelated anyhow!

Christian Beginnings by Geza Vermes – review

Rowan Williams finds a beautiful and magisterial early history still leaves some puzzles unsolved

Illustration by Clifford Harper/Agraphia.co.uk

Detail from an illustration by Clifford Harper/agraphia.co.uk

Religions that claim universally relevant and abidingly truthful revelations have a clear interest in showing that their history is one of continuity. If you believe that your vision of God and reality in general is in some sense a gift from outside the human psyche, it won’t do to allow unlimited adjustments to that vision. But all human language does adjust to historical change, even when trying to stay the same; as Cardinal Newman observed, to say the same thing as your ancestors said, you may well need to say something apparently very different. So how do you resolve the question of what is genuinely an “unfolding” of the original vision and what is an arbitrary elaboration that distorts that vision?

Geza Vermes is the unchallenged doyen of scholarship in the English-speaking world onthe Jewish literature of the age of Jesus, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls. In a series of deeply learned and lucid books, he has opened up the subject to non-specialist readers, offering some provocative and searching questions for Christian readers of their scriptures. In this book, he takes the story a little further forward, to trace the evolution of a distinctively Christian vocabulary up to and including the era when the first Christian creeds were being formulated. His subtitle flags up the climax of the story, at the Council of Nicaea in 325, when what he describes as a “revolutionary new formula” was agreed – thanks largely to pressure from a Roman emperor newly sympathetic to the Christian faith, and as eager as any contemporary politician to make it serve the cause of social cohesion.

The shape of the narrative as he tells it is one that most Christian scholars will recognise. In the beginning, Jesus of Nazareth, a charismatic wonder-worker whose profile has some parallels with fairly well-known Jewish saints and sages of his period, proclaims a radically simplified version of the law of Moses and the religion of the Hebrew prophets, with a special stress on the claims of those who think of themselves as having no claims – the destitute, the marginal, the failed. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of all is the way in which Jesus puts at the centre of his world the child, the one who responds without reserve to an unreserved gift of love. “Neither biblical nor post-biblical Judaism,” Vermes notes, “make of the young an object of admiration.” The early community of Jesus’s followers is shaped by charismatic phenomena – healing, prophetic ecstasy – tight corporate discipline, the expectation of the end of the world, and certain social rituals that reinforce the strong family-like bonds of the group. Parts of the family open up to non-Jews, others don’t. The language used about Jesus never goes beyond that appropriate to “a man of high spiritual dignity”.

What follows is a steady drift away not only from the religion of Jesus and of the first generation but, more seriously, a loss of interest in the essence of “charismatic Judaism” with its suspicion of formalism and its intimacy with God – and an increasingly negative attitude to Judaism as such. The greater the dignity ascribed to Jesus, it seems, the stronger the urge to denigrate and disown his Jewish identity and the Jewish faith itself. With the help of imported mythical, literary and philosophical categories, the Christian community develops a complex system of cosmology in which Jesus has become a co-creator, a pre-existent divine being manifested on earth. It is, in Vermes’s words, often a “poetic” achievement, a “majestic synthesis”; but it is undeniably something different from the religion of Jesus and the religion of Jesus’s first followers.

I said a moment ago that this is not an unfamiliar account for scholars of Christian origins. It has much in common with the picture elaborated in the great theological schools of the European universities, especially in Germany, from the late 19th century onwards. What makes Vermes’s version new is his refusal to follow these earlier scholars in their negativity towards Judaism and in the fact of his unparalleled familiarity with the entire spread of Jewish thinking in the age of Jesus and Paul. His Jesus is very much the representative of an intensified version of Mosaic and prophetic faith, set against a Jewish world that is dramatically diverse and bubbling with new and radical bids for defining Jewish identity.

When people like this write on such a topic, I tend to listen.  While comparing with other sources, this person worked extensively on the Dead Sea Scrolls (lived through some serious wars), is international in scope and draws from two major religions in his own life experience, as follows:

Geza Vermes — Wikipedia

Vermes was born in Makó, Hungary, in 1924 to Jewish parents. All three were baptised as Roman Catholics when he was seven. His mother and journalist father died in the Holocaust. After the Second World War, he became a Roman Catholic priest, studied first in Budapest and then at the College St Albert and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, where he read Oriental history and languages and in 1953 obtained a doctorate in theology with a dissertation on the historical framework of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

He left the Catholic Church in 1957; and, reasserting his Jewish identity, came to Britain and took up a teaching post at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He married Pamela Hobson in 1958. In 1965 he joined the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University, rising to become the first professor of Jewish Studies before his retirement in 1991.

In 1970 he became a member of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue of London.[4] After the death of his first wife in 1993, he married Margaret Unarska in 1996 and adopted her son, Ian Vermes.
[edit]Academic career

Vermes was one of the first scholars to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls after their discovery in 1947, and is the author of the standard translation into English of the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (1962)[5]

He is one of the leading scholars in the field of the study of the historical Jesus (see Selected Publications, below) and together with Fergus Millar and Martin Goodman, Vermes was responsible for substantially revising Emil Schurer’s three-volume work, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ,[6] His An Introduction to the Complete Dead Sea Scrolls, revised edition (2000), is a study of the collection at Qumran.[7]
He is now Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford but continues to teach at the Oriental Institute in Oxford.

He has edited the Journal of Jewish Studies[8] since 1971, and since 1991 he has been director of the Oxford Forum for Qumran Research at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies[9] He inspired the creation of the British Association for Jewish Studies (BAJS) in 1975 and of the European Association for Jewish Studies (EAJS) in 1981 and acted as founding president for both.
Vermes is a Fellow of the British Academy; a Fellow of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities; holder of an Oxford D. Litt. (1988) and of honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh (1989), University of Durham (1990), University of Sheffield (1994) and the Central European University of Budapest (2008).

He was awarded the Wilhelm Bacher Memorial Medal by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1996), the Memorial Medal of the city of Makó, his place of birth (2008) and the keys of the cities of Monroe LA and Natchez MI (2009). He received a vote of congratulation from the U.S. House of Representatives, proposed by the Representative of Louisiana on 17 September 2009.
In the course of a lecture tour in the United States in September 2009, Vermes spoke at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, at Duke University in Durham NC, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD, and at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and at Baton Rouge.
On 23 January 2012 Penguin Books celebrated at Wolfson College, Oxford, the golden jubilee of Vermes’s The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, which has sold an estimated half-a-million copies worldwide. A “Fiftieth anniversary” edition has been issued in the Penguin Classics series.

I’d say we might want to hear some perspective from this author. I do note, however, he’s studying Jesus, but does not consider himself Christian.  Another extended study I ran across (today) is labeled “Jesus was not a Jew’  (Facts are Facts) and discusses at length the parallels between the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, the Talmud (allegedly completely the same as in that time, having been developed between 200BC and 500 AD) and as such, is very relevant.  This other study, while less linguistically scholarly than, say, I might expect from Vermes, is certainly logical, does make sense, and does deal with both changes in language, in the meanings of words over time, and Bible versions.

Actually the studies shed light on each other.

There is no factual foundation in history or theology today for the implications, inferences and innuendoes that the Greek “Ioudaios”, the Latin “Iudaeus”, or the English “Judean” ever possessed a valid religious connotation. In their three respective languages these three words have only indicated a strictly topographical or geographic connotation. In their correct sense these three words in their respective languages were used to identify the members of the indigenous native population of the geographic area known as Judea in the lifetime of Jesus. During the lifetime of Jesus there was not a form of religious worship practiced in Judea or elsewhere in the known world which bore a name even remotely resembling the name of the political subdivision of the Roman Empire; i.e., “Judaism” from “Judea”. No cult or sect existed by such a name.

It is an incontestable fact that the word “Jew” did not come into existence until the year 1775. Prior to 1775 the word “Jew” did not exist in any language. The word “Jew” was introduced into the English for the first time in the 18th century when Sheridan used it in his play “The Rivals”, II,i, “She shall have a skin like a mummy, and the beard of a Jew”. Prior to this use of the word “Jew” in the English language by Sheridan in 1775 the word “Jew” had not become a word in the English language. Shakespeare never saw the word “Jew” as you will see. Shakespeare never used the word “Jew” in any of his works, the common general belief to the contrary notwithstanding. In his “Merchant of Venice”, V.III.i.61, Shakespeare wrote as follows: “what is the reason? I am a Iewe, hath not a Iewe eyes?”

In the Latin St. Jerome 4th century Vulgate Edition of the New Testament Jesus is referred to by the Genitive Plural of “Iudaeus” in the Gospel by John reference to the inscription on the Cross,”Iudaeorum”. It was in the 4th century that St. Jerome translated into Latin the manuscripts of the New Testament from the original languages in which they were written. This translation by St. Jerome is referred to still today as the Vulgate Edition by the Roman Catholic Church authorities, who use it today.

Jesus is referred as a so-called “Jew” for the first time in the New Testament in the 18th century. Jesus is first referred to as a so-called “Jew” in the revised 18th century editions in the English language of the 14th century first translations of the New Testament into English. The history of the origin of the word “Jew” in the English language leaves no doubt that the 18th century “Jew” is the 18th century contracted and corrupted English word for the 4th century Latin “Iudaeus” found in St. Jerome’s Vulgate Edition. Of that there is no longer doubt.

As history rolls forward, I don’t believe that ignorance on the origins of various religions, what they’re warring about, and what they’ve each done to their respective texts, is really optional.  Nope, not any more…..

And I didn’t even get to the post, “surrendingislam” which actually has been teaching me things about how banks work, and shedding yet more light on the influence of Great Britain on world history to this date, including how it tends to operate… over the decades.

Surrendering Islam:  The Subversion of Muslim Politics Throughout History unto the present day. Check out the series of links on the left:

Whatever we believe about the respective religions, we are going to have to deal with people who are convinced they are real — and world leaders expert at playing off one against the other, AND world leaders who are also very much influential in media spin.

This appears to be the book on-line.  The portion of interest to me (in particular) was about the Wahhabis, and how a particular sect was selected (including by a British spy, it says) to generate strife, and how this became associated with Saudi Arabia.  I’m a beginner in this field, needless to say.



It is obvious that this is going to intercept with the theme of the Diamonds.  I cannot vouch for anything regarding this book, but I do plan to read it in 2013 for sure.  Intersects with the theme of this blog, amazingly….  For example….under the 911 segment (and obviously dated, but still)” we’re getting into Bush presidency territory….

Sami Baarma, a top executive of the Saudi National Commercial Bank (NCB), sits on the board of Mahfouz’s Middle East Capital Group (MECG), which also had on its board Sheikh Bakhsh. In addition, Baarma sits on the board of the Carlyle Group, which had former President George H. W. Bush as a senior advisor. Carlyle is the eleventh largest military contractor in the U.S., and a leading contributor to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Former President George H.W. Bush visited Saudi Arabia at least twice to successfully court bin Laden family financing for the Carlyle Group.

The Carlyle Group’s relationships with prominent Saudis is particularly murky considering that, despite assertions that Osama is estranged from the family, the documentary records contradict the claim. According to the Wall Street Journal:

Among its far-flung business interests, the well-heeled Saudi Arabian clan – which says it is estranged from Osama – is an investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specializing in buyouts of defense and aerospace companies. Through this investment and its ties to Saudi royalty, the bin Laden family has become acquainted with some of the biggest names in the Republican Party. In recent years, former President Bush, ex-Secretary of State James Baker and ex-Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci have made the pilgrimage to the bin Laden family’s headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Mr. Bush makes speeches on behalf of Carlyle Group and is senior adviser to its Asian Partners fund, while Mr. Baker is its senior counselor. Mr. Carlucci is the group’s chairman. Osama is one of more than 50 children of Mohammed bin Laden, who built the family’s $5 billion business, Saudi bin Laden Group, largely with construction contracts from the Saudi government… 205

The long-time Chairman of the Carlyle Group, Frank Carlucci, was not only a former Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration, but a Deputy Director of the CIA during the Carter Administration. As the Second Secretary in the US Embassy in the Congo during the time of the reign and consequent assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Carlucci was intimately involved in the US efforts to overthrow Lumumba’s government. In 1974, Frank Carlucci headed the American CIA operation to overthrow the Lisbon socialist government. He had been Chief of Sears Roebucks international operations, an actual espionage operation, and later a top official of the American intelligence.


Society WILL be organized somehow — but as reality changes (and technology), it seems the older myths seem to increase in value; for one they seem to calm the natives….

It is the (moral) responsibility of EVERY generation to understand how the technology of the previous one was dynamically changed to unfreeze, change, and/or refreeze the myths of the previous ones, and to seek to understand how myths are promoted and propounded — and for what purpose.  ONly by seeing the process of change over time (HINT:  Watch the Language, Follow the Money, and when Governmental Structures change, notice it!) — can we tell where it’s headed.

Either that, or we can read the prophecies uttered by those involved in the change, or possibly even the prophets themselves, when they are speaking about human nature.

Like I said Let’s talk about this some more later (see also my username!)

Written by Let's Get Honest|She Looks It Up

December 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm

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