Tree Of Life, Systems, & Angels & Demons

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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:01 pm

Ry,

I also agree with your model of the tree-of-life....I only find slight disagreement with the labels on each node. I would accept the model more as a representation of reality if the trinity was more accurately portrayed at the top.


Actually, there is a "holy trinity" described within the study of Qabalah and the Tree Of Life that would certainly correspond to these Christian ideas. These three concepts are actually "beyond" (outside...enveloping) the Tree Of Life structure. To use the Star Wars vernacular, these Forces "surround us, penetrate us, and bind the galaxy together". :) We depict these as three "rings" that encircle the TOL and they are given the names:

Ain - The VOID or the VACUUM (Nothingness=Everythingness)
Ain Soph - Infinity in Existence (the IDEA of Infinity)
Ain Soph Aur - The Limitless Light (The Spirit or Breath of God)

I think I should backtrack a bit and modify something I said earlier in this thread. Kether (sephira #1 at the top of the TOL) is not identical with God, because that would mean that God (1) is somehow differentiated from the other aspects of the Tree (even though it emanates impulses downward to the other spheres). Kether actually represents the "First Cause" of God (First Action in some realm of existence...be it the process-based existence or material existence). Kether is the ideal (and idea) of "causing creation". But the "entity" that causes the creation is actually outside the system (just as for any system it receives external energy in order to overcome entropy and create, rather than decay).

So, what we see in the above Ry, is that the "holy trinity" is actually part of the TOL, but it is not PART OF the Tree, but rather it envelops (and organizes) the Tree itself.

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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:56 pm

By the way...

I have always considered that the naming of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) was a clear remnant of a patriachial bias in the Church that sought to diminsh the power of the female archtype. When one looks at the facts of creation (specifically procreation) for how we humans continue our species, it seems to me (and many gnostics) that the most appropriate labeling for any Holy Trinity would reflect:

Father - The male influence (analogous to the electron).
Mother - The female influence (analogous to the proton).
Child - The neutral offspring, which could be male or female (analogous to the neutron).

Clearly, this IS the trinity of Creation...right? Just because a bunch of old men fashioned the story to be male-biased does not mean it is the "correct Christian canon". ;)

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Postby ryguy » Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:02 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:Clearly, this IS the trinity of Creation...right? Just because a bunch of old men fashioned the story to be male-biased does not mean it is the "correct Christian canon". ;)

Ray


Not at all - the trinity is male based because Jesus was born male. Had he been female, it would have been Father-Daughter-Holy Ghost. While society was definitely quite patriarchal at the time (and probably why Jesus was born male to the human population)...that certainly has no bearing on the origins of the holy trinity. In fact, the only bearing it has is in the gender those "old men" used when describing god. However the concept of God is gender-less, as is the holy spirit....so the argument that the trinity is a patriarchal construct isn't really valid.

However - if you were to say that much of the symbolism of the early Church was borrowed from earlier practices and religions, including Paganism, you would be accurate. But that doesn't change the central meaning of the message the disciples were putting forth immediatley after Christ's death and resurrection.

Take the mark of the cross on the forehead (particularly on "ash wednesday", but also before the reading of the gospel). The practice actually came from long before Christ was born:

"Ezechiel 9:4 "...Pass throught the city [through Jerusalem] and mark an X on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are praticed within it..."

An X: literally, the hebrew letter taw, which had the form of a cross....was the practice borrowed from the Jews? Probably. Does it change the meaning of the practice within the context of how the early Disciples intended the symbolism and practice to be defined? Not at all.

-Ry
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Postby ryguy » Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:29 pm

Great analysis of the philosophies of Rene Descartes (another Roman Catholic... lol)

Descartes argues that he has an idea of God as infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, all good, and the creator of everything that exists. He argues that he could not have gotten the idea from himself, for he is finite and thus to have an idea of infinite, there would have to be a cause that is more perfect in reality than the idea. So, Descartes states, “I clearly understand that there is more reality in an infinite substance than there is in a finite one.” [xviii] So, he concludes that God necessarily exists.


More specifically, God existing as "perfection"...and we are but parts of that universe - not a universe created of or from our minds but from infinity, or eternity, which can't come from something finite. Only the finite comes from infinity, not the other way around.

This argues that "God" was around a heck of a long time (infinitely, to be exact...lol) before "we" ever showed up.

Further, Descartes states that because he is finite (and not infinitely powerful and intelligent like God) he is limited. He argues that God made humans in the best possible way and humans are an essential part of the perfect universe. He states, “But I cannot therefore deny that it may somehow be a greater perfection in the universe as a whole that some of its parts are not immune to error, while others are, that if all of them were exactly alike. And I have no right to complain that the part God has wished me to play is not the principle and most perfect one of all.” [xxii]



In addition, Descartes states that his “nature” (which is given to humans by God) teaches him that he has a body, which senses things such as heat and pain (which is caused by an external physical thing). Further, his nature teaches him that there is a connection between him (his mind) and his body. In order to illustrate this, he uses the analogy of a sailor to a ship. He argues that the mind is not related to the body in the way that the sailor is related to the ship, for when we are injured we sense the pain, while the sailor only sees by sight if the ship is damaged. [xxix] Therefore, there is a union between mind and body.

It is important to note however, that there are major differences between the mind and body. The mind is indivisible, unextended, and thinking, while the body is divisible, extended, and unthinking. Further, as Descartes proved in meditation two, his essence is a thinking thing, which can exist without a body. By showing that that mind is indivisible and able to exist without the body, Descartes attempts to show the immortality of the soul. Even when the body dies, the soul continues to exist. [xxx]



Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher who has been called the father of modern philosophy. His school studies made him dissatisfied with previous philosophy: He had a deep religious faith as a Roman Catholic, which he retained to his dying day, along with a resolute, passionate desire to discover the truth. At the age of 24 he had a dream, and felt the vocational call to seek to bring knowledge together in one system of thought. His system began by asking what could be known if all else were doubted - suggesting the famous "I think therefore I am". Actually, it is often forgotten that the next step for Descartes was to establish the near certainty of the existence of God - for only if God both exists and would not want us to be deceived by our experiences - can we trust our senses and logical thought processes. God is, therefore, central to his whole philosophy. What he really wanted to see was that his philosophy be adopted as standard Roman Catholic teaching. Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) are generally regarded as the key figures in the development of scientific methodology. Both had systems in which God was important, and both seem more devout than the average for their era.
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:34 pm

ryguy wrote: However the concept of God is gender-less, as is the holy spirit....so the argument that the trinity is a patriarchal construct isn't really valid.


Can't agree with you there, Ryan. The very text of the Apostle's Creed that each Catholic recites in mass makes it clear at the beginning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostles'_ ... lic_Church

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.


The fact that women are not permitted to become priests is another "testament" to the gender-bias inherent in Church Canon. Do you honestly believe God does not want women to become ordained preachers of His Son's word?

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Postby ryguy » Fri Sep 28, 2007 5:02 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:The fact that women are not permitted to become priests is another "testament" to the gender-bias inherent in Church Canon. Do you honestly believe God does not want women to become ordained preachers of His Son's word?

Ray


I honestly believe that the human construct of the Catholic Church does not want women to become ordained preachers of his son's word. I do not know if that is something Christ would agree with, his apostles were, after all, only male. But again, this could have been due to the constraints of society at the time - and the population's perception of women at the time (an entirely different discussion we can have, if you like...).

I don't see the Catholic Church as infallible...neither did Jesus. Peter failed only minutes after Jesus was taken captive for the crucifixion. Not once - but three times in a row. That was the point Jesus wanted to make very clear...we are not meant to follow a "church" as the way to God...we're meant to follow Jesus.

Again - the term "Father" is a human application to the concept of God. All that proves is that we (the human race) are imperfect. Would the people of that day have accepted God as a figure that wasn't what they considered a form of "authority" as they understood it within their culture of the time? Should God have been referred to as It or She...and would that have helped or hindered Jesus' persuit in simply getting people to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."? Maybe - but the message surely would have fallen upon many more deaf ears.

When we believe only in "self", we deceive ourselves and move further from "perfection". When we accept that we can't do it alone - that we need and even Love(??) that energy or Source that created us - we are rewarded by that "source" with a greater sense of love, with understanding of who we are, and where we came from.

With all of that said - I could be completely wrong. I'm not an authority on this, and accept, Ray, that you could very well be right here, and accurate on just about all of your points. I only speak from my personal experiences and the experiences of others close to me - those experiences have gradually brought me to a place where I feel that sense of happiness, love and "one"-ness with the Universe...some moments it can be overwhelming, to be honest. Especially when you see the same love reflected in people you meet every day, in each act of kindness from total strangers, and in the bonds felt between old and new friends.

We see the imperfections every day, in the news....but those moments when you experience Love - it's like having an opportunity to get a glimpse of Creation...for at least a small moment in time.

-Ry
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Sun Sep 30, 2007 3:51 am

Access Denied wrote:No offense but contrary to the basic principals of Gnosticism (as I understand them) the TOL just seems too formalized to me (i.e. like a religion) and my eyes start to glaze over trying to understand it… as they do with the Gnostic traditions of Myths. :)


I understand, and to some extent I agree esp. when it comes to the more mystic and esoteric correspondences of the TOL. There are many such correspondences that I do not incorporate into my own, personal, "gnostic toolkit" because I cannot draw associations to scientific concepts. :) In my view, the only part of the TOL that should be (?) formalized is its correspondence to the human form as the defacto system architecture. The extension of this architecture to that of the (aphysical) mind is (to me) more a theory because one cannot show physical correspondences to something that is not physical.

I was unaware that Gnostics have taught the TOL for centuries. Perhaps you could provide some references and expand on this more in the TOL thread?


Here is a pretty good page that reviews its place in gnostic teachings:

http://www.gnosticteachings.org/content/view/43/56/

There are also some links at the bottom of this article to some "online courses" which discuss the TOL as a "map" for enhancing gnosis and guiding one as they "climb the tree" in their gnostic journey to return to source.

Here is another good link from the same site, and Ryan will be interested to see that in this correspondence of the TOL the author does, indeed, equate the upper triangle with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

http://www.gnosticteachings.org/content/view/198/43/

There is even an article elsewhere on this site where the author suggests that the apocrypahl "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" is, in essence, a "disguised" discussion of the principles of gnostic thought as outlined by the TOL.

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Postby Access Denied » Mon Oct 01, 2007 2:41 am

Hi Ray,

Thanks for the links. Is this what you mean?

The Qabalistic cosmology is the Christian Gnosis. Without it we have an incomplete system in our religion, and it is this incomplete system which has been the weakness of Christianity. - Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah

Like I said this seems contradictory to the basic principle of Gnosis which is about achieving transcendental knowledge through internal means which by definition doesn’t require any external “system” of knowledge… then again very little religious stuff makes any sense to me. :) Combining Hebrew mysticism with Christian mysticism just seems kind of ironic but I see now it makes perfect sense to some. I found this on Wikipedia which sounds like something Dan would write…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life_(Kabbalah)

Similarities

The Tree of Life bears many similarities to the Christian Gnostic conception of the Pleroma, emanations from the ineffable and self-originating Divine Parent that offer the best possible means of describing God. Each emanation in the Pleroma is born from a more complex emanation before it. Most notably between these two allegories is the final Sephira on the Tree, Malkuth, and the last emanation in the Pleroma, Sophia, whose fall from grace resulted in the physical world.

That was WAY over my head. :)
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Mon Oct 01, 2007 2:41 pm

Hi AD,
Access Denied wrote:Thanks for the links. Is this what you mean?

The Qabalistic cosmology is the Christian Gnosis. Without it we have an incomplete system in our religion, and it is this incomplete system which has been the weakness of Christianity. - Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah


Eh, somewhat. But here are some other quotes from that page that indicate more along the lines of using TOL as a guide to inner enlightenment:

The Kabbalah is a symbol which expresses the structure of creation. Understanding the Tree of Life, one can understand the structure of the universe around us and within us, for it maps the macrocosm and the microcosm and everything in between. However, this understanding cannot be derived soley from reading books and attending lectures.


and

The objective of studying the Kabbalah is to be skilled for work in the Internal Worlds... One who does not comprehend remains confused in the Internal Worlds. Kabbalah is the basis in order to understand the language of these worlds. - Samael Aun Weor, The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah


and

In synthesis, the intuitive Kabbalist studies the writings of the great masters, then investigates to find out for himself, and accepts what he directly experiences as true. Until then, the writings and opinions of others remain as opinions.

To approach this level of comprehension, it is necessary to know how to utilize the consciousness through Self-observation and meditation. When the mind is stable and quiet, the Voice of the Spirit can be heard; it is the voice of the Intuition, and the revealer of all true knowledge.

Therefore the student of Gnosis is encouraged to understand the Kabbalah through intellectual study, but also to go further, and to meditate in order to comprehend the Kabbalah through intuition and direct experience. The one who retains the knowledge solely in the intellect fails to grow.


Like I said this seems contradictory to the basic principle of Gnosis which is about achieving transcendental knowledge through internal means which by definition doesn’t require any external “system” of knowledge…


Well, taken to an extreme does that imply you need NOTHING outside of you? If so, then why are we invested with senses to experience the outside world if not to learn about "systems of knowledge" to help us explore the internal world? I understand what you are saying, AD, but I think it is taking the "definition" of Gnosis (is there really such a def?) to quite an extreme to say one needs nothing from the external world. In fact, as mentioned in one of the above quotes, some Gnostic traditions teach that the purpose of material existence is to make the connections and correspondences between the macrocosm (external) and the microcosm (internal). Such traditions suggest that the TOL is a very good map for doing just that.

The OTO has a ritual called the Gnostic Catholic Mass, and I have attended a couple of them. I think one nice thing about them is the ritual places the male and the female potency at the same level... and indeed they revere the "father-mother-child" as the more appropriate "holy trinity"...given this represents the cycle of eternal human creation.

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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:03 pm

Ry,

I honestly believe that the human construct of the Catholic Church does not want women to become ordained preachers of his son's word. I do not know if that is something Christ would agree with, his apostles were, after all, only male. But again, this could have been due to the constraints of society at the time


Exactly. And these same constraints could have (and likely did!) ensure that Mary Magdalene was not only "demoted" from a potential apostle, but also branded a prostitute. What if the apocryphal texts actually are additional, faithful representations of Jesus's teachings? It is quite possible that the biases of the "early church fathers" were employed to both edit and editorialize the life of Christ to suit their personal and political goals. The fact that many of the aspects of Jesus' story (virgin birth, etc.) match those of "gods" and "saviors" that came before Jesus stands as testament to this. These elements of Jesus' story were not unique at the time, and so their historical veracity should certainly be accepted with a grain of salt... don't you think?

I don't see the Catholic Church as infallible...neither did Jesus. Peter failed only minutes after Jesus was taken captive for the crucifixion. Not once - but three times in a row. That was the point Jesus wanted to make very clear...we are not meant to follow a "church" as the way to God...we're meant to follow Jesus.


Again, that is clearly the message we see in the "Church-approved canon." And the potential fallibiity of the Church can certainly include the wish to edit and editorialize the story of Jesus, if not his message. My own, personal break with the Catholic Church was because I saw the fallacies and "fallibility" of this organization, and I was more interested in learning about the totality of Jesus' message, and how/where he was schooled in his "missing years".

When we believe only in "self", we deceive ourselves and move further from "perfection". When we accept that we can't do it alone - that we need and even Love(??) that energy or Source that created us - we are rewarded by that "source" with a greater sense of love, with understanding of who we are, and where we came from.


Completely agree. And I believe our Creator gave us a rational mind, so that we could codify the tenets of science, as a means to continually explore our connection to that Source.

I only speak from my personal experiences and the experiences of others close to me - those experiences have gradually brought me to a place where I feel that sense of happiness, love and "one"-ness with the Universe...some moments it can be overwhelming, to be honest. Especially when you see the same love reflected in people you meet every day, in each act of kindness from total strangers, and in the bonds felt between old and new friends.

We see the imperfections every day, in the news....but those moments when you experience Love - it's like having an opportunity to get a glimpse of Creation...for at least a small moment in time.


Again, I agree. And for all the wanton escapades of Crowley's life, his Law of Thelema ("Love is the Law. Love Under Will.") speaks to the exact same thing that you are saying here. In my view, Love is that "Force" that propels us to acts of Creation in our own lives.

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Postby ryguy » Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:35 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:Again, I agree. And for all the wanton escapades of Crowley's life, his Law of Thelema ("Love is the Law. Love Under Will.") speaks to the exact same thing that you are saying here. In my view, Love is that "Force" that propels us to acts of Creation in our own lives.

Ray


Yes - with a very big difference...the fruits of Crowley are rotten at the Core...one only needs to observe the results produced in his own life to recognized who and what he is - and what "god" he served.

Crowley only used the word "Love" - he didn't live it. Only one man truly lived it - and as I quoted to Toon when he was hanging around - as one famous man pointed out, only one man has millions upon millions of men and women around the world ready to stand up and die for him...yet unlike any other ruler or person on earth, he never had to raise a finger of force against another human being.

People need to be cognizant of the fruits of those who's teachings we follow...above almost everything else, this is the most important. Because if you don't, there are many, many folks who would lead us down the opposite road. Crowley - unfortunately, followed a different "god" than ours. One would follow his writings at their own peril.

And that's all I have to say about Crowley.

Again, that is clearly the message we see in the "Church-approved canon." And the potential fallibiity of the Church can certainly include the wish to edit and editorialize the story of Jesus, if not his message.


That's the usual argument anyway - however it isn't true. Yes, certain practices were borrowed from older traditions, yes - the politics of the church may have been effected by surrounding culture, but that is where the fallibility ends.

It does not so easily go into "his message" as you attempt to allude to here. There has been a great deal of research on the literal translations of the bible - comparisons to the scrolls, etc... And you want to know what the truth is? The meaning of the sentences do not change significantly if even at all - and definitely the overall plot and story told by each of the apostles varies only in the telling from one man to the next. Just as your perspective about an event would vary from my telling of the same event. However - Jesus' message was never altered or changed, and has stood the test of time. Anyone who says otherwise has unfortunately either been misled, or has misled themselves.

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Postby Access Denied » Tue Oct 02, 2007 4:16 am

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:
Acess Denied wrote:Like I said this seems contradictory to the basic principle of Gnosis which is about achieving transcendental knowledge through internal means which by definition doesn’t require any external “system” of knowledge…

Well, taken to an extreme does that imply you need NOTHING outside of you? If so, then why are we invested with senses to experience the outside world if not to learn about "systems of knowledge" to help us explore the internal world? I understand what you are saying, AD, but I think it is taking the "definition" of Gnosis (is there really such a def?) to quite an extreme to say one needs nothing from the external world.

Ah, I think I see the problem now. Apparently we’re talking about two different uses of the term, yours being more specific while mine being in the more broader sense.

This definition of Gnosis from Wikipedia is what I'm talking about…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosis

Gnosis (from the Greek word for knowledge, γνώσις) is used in English to specify the spiritual knowledge of a saint or enlightened human being. It is described as the direct experiential knowledge of the supernatural or divine. This is not enlightenment understood in its general sense of insight or learning (which in Greek is διαφωτισθούν)[1] but enlightenment that validated the existence of the supernatural.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines gnosis as, 'A knowledge of spiritual mysteries.' From the word gnosis is derived Gnostic and Gnosticism the latter a modern construct referring to one of various eastern schools which claimed to have supernatural knowledge flourishing during the early Christian era. The term being Koine Greek has, nonetheless, a much broader application than being exclusive to any sectarian group. The term is used by Byzantine and Hellenic cultures as a word to mean a special knowledge or insight of the supernatural. In some sense mature understanding or knowledge. It is the knowledge that comes from experience rather than from rational or reasoned thinking as in intuitive knowledge (see gnosiology).

From this…

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:In fact, as mentioned in one of the above quotes, some Gnostic traditions teach that the purpose of material existence is to make the connections and correspondences between the macrocosm (external) and the microcosm (internal). Such traditions suggest that the TOL is a very good map for doing just that.

...it sounds like you’re talking about this particular form of Gnosticism…

Among heresiologists, gnosis denotes different Jewish, Christian or Pagan belief systems of esoteric nature such as, first and foremost, Gnosticism and other dualist systems from the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D., but also Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah, etc. Sectarian groups that denoted that the creator of the cosmos as demiurge was not the true God but a fallen and even sometimes evil being. That the creator god of the Jewish old testament and Hellenistic pagan philosophy was evil as was the cosmos that the creator had fashioned (see the Sethian and Ophite gnostic sects).

...or this one...

The term Gnosis is related to the Sanskrit jnana (as in Jnana Yoga) and to the Hebrew daath, which is the hidden sphere in the Kabbalah, or that knowledge which was only given to the initiated.

…as opposed to this one which I tend to relate to…

In early Christianity gnosis also carried over from Hellenic philosophy into Greek Orthodoxy via St Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus of Rome, Hegesippus, and Origen. Gnosis meaning intuitive knowledge, spiritual knowledge or memory of an experience of God. In relation to theosis (deification) and theoria (vision of God).[4] According [to] Greek Orthodox theology[5] and biblical scripture[6] Jesus proclaimed that he did not teach any secret or hidden knowledge. [*]

No?

AD

[*] Though of course some claim some of his teachings were suppressed and thus became secret or hidden knowlege i.e. the Nag Hammadi Library aka The Gnostic Gospels e.g. the Gospel of Thomas.
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Oct 02, 2007 3:31 pm

ryguy wrote:That's the usual argument anyway - however it isn't true. Yes, certain practices were borrowed from older traditions, yes - the politics of the church may have been effected by surrounding culture, but that is where the fallibility ends.


I am afraid that I cannot agree, Ryan, for I do not believe you can provide evidence to support this assertion. OTOH, in recent years we have seen just how fallible is this human-constructed organization with regard to the protection of pedophiles from prosecution according to regional secular law (in direct violation of Church Canon). Now I would wager that you will say this is "merely" a failing of a human or humans, but the Church itself realizes that it is comprised of its people... it is (allegedly) God's "vehicle" on earth. Indeed, the entirety of Church Canon is, itself, exposed to the fallibility of mankind and our limited ability to perceive "what God wishes of us."

It does not so easily go into "his message" as you attempt to allude to here.


I am afraid it does, and I again refer to Chuch Canon Law, which both modify and extend the message of Christ without His defacto authority. The mere act of issuing an encyclical which proclaims the infallibility of the Pope, a human elected by other fallible humans, is nothing more than setting up an ultimate human authority figure who is claimed to speak for God and of God. In Islam this would amount to heresy. I could also point to a great many encyclicals that are, at least on the surface, quite fallible with respect to Christ's "core message".

There has been a great deal of research on the literal translations of the bible - comparisons to the scrolls, etc... And you want to know what the truth is? The meaning of the sentences do not change significantly if even at all - and definitely the overall plot and story told by each of the apostles varies only in the telling from one man to the next. Just as your perspective about an event would vary from my telling of the same event. However - Jesus' message was never altered or changed, and has stood the test of time.


I could be wrong but I believe it has been shown that at least 3 of the New Testament books were NOT written contemporaneously with the life of Jesus, but rather something like 100 years or more after the events of his life. I will try to find references...

Anyone who says otherwise has unfortunately either been misled, or has misled themselves.


I am sorry you feel that way, Ryan. I understand and respect your belief, and my own father (staunch Roman Catholic that he is) and I have had some discussions about these very topics. And even though he still goes to church religiously (pun intended) he has admitted that there has been a great distortion of Christ's message by the Church, especially as contained within Church Canon. It has actually been enlightening to me, for I always perceived my father as overtly rigid with resect to "what the Church says, goes". But even now, as he crosses his 80th year, he is eagerly studying apocryphal texts... always on the lookout for Christ and His message.

Cheers,
Ray
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:13 am

Hi AD,
Access Denied wrote:Ah, I think I see the problem now. Apparently we’re talking about two different uses of the term, yours being more specific while mine being in the more broader sense.


Yup, I do believe you have codified the differences in how we see (and apply) the term. I understand where you are coming from now! Thanks,

Ray
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Postby ryguy » Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:22 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:I could be wrong but I believe it has been shown that at least 3 of the New Testament books were NOT written contemporaneously with the life of Jesus, but rather something like 100 years or more after the events of his life. I will try to find references...


That's highly controversial and debateable, at best. A more accurate statement might be that they were compiled together into one book over 100 years after Jesus' death. But they were written by the apostles, or their scribes, shortly after his death - though the current dates given by many scholars is between 50 to 60 years after his death, but confirming that these were eyewitness accounts.

From here:

Professor Thiede published his controversial findings in a book called The Jesus Papyrus (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1996), coauthored by Matthew d'Ancona, deputy editor for the comment section of the Sunday Telegraph. Ever interested in restoring public confidence in the authority of the Bible, The Good News presents this interview with Professor Thiede.

GN: Your book, The Jesus Papyrus, concerns itself with the reliability and authenticity of the very origins of Christianity. Do you believe that your discoveries have helped prove that the book of Matthew was written as soon as 20 or 30 years after the crucifixion?

CPT: Yes. In fact, the redating of those papyrus fragments would show that the Gospel of Matthew must have been written some time before the mid-60s of the first century. You see, those fragments are copies; they are from a codex [an early manuscript book], which means that there must have been scrolls before the codex was written. And one of those scrolls must have been the original Gospel of Matthew. So we definitely reach a period before the mid-60s for the original Gospel of Matthew.

GN:Do you believe that the New Testament is essentially an eyewitness account and not a second-century version of an oral tradition?

CPT: The Gospels are accounts that go back to the time of the eyewitnesses. I don't think there can be any historical doubt about this, irrespective of papyri. There are numerous reasons-historical, textual, critical, literary, historical reasons-for a dating of the Gospels to the period of the eyewitnesses.

Now, no historian would say that all four Gospels were written by eyewitnesses. Not even the earliest Church historians claimed as much. For example, Mark's Gospel was written-according to a reliable very early tradition-by a companion, a disciple of the apostle Peter, who was an eyewitness. So you have a secondhand eyewitness account. Luke says in his Gospel and in Acts that he wrote on the basis of eyewitness accounts. He interviewed eyewitnesses and collected written material on the basis of eyewitness accounts, and from this he wrote his own historical Gospel.

The only two Gospels that may be in the strict sense of the term eyewitness Gospels are Matthew-because he, according to a reliable tradition, was in fact the disciple Levi Matthew-and the Gospel of John, where the author himself and his epilogue at the end of the Gospel both say quite clearly that this was an eyewitness who wrote that Gospel.

So we can say that all four Gospels and the book of Acts were written during the eyewitness period-during the time when eyewitnesses were there, could comment on the text, could correct what was written, could refute it or accept it.

[snip...]

Those Barcelona fragments are not quite as important as those in Oxford, because there is less textual information in them, but the important thing is that they belong to chapters 3 and 5 of Matthew's Gospel. So, with fragments from chapters 3, 5 and 26, you can show that these fragments originally did not belong to an early source of the Gospels, but to a complete, full, finished Gospel.

And, if you can date a codex copy of a finished Gospel to the mid-60s, that of course means that the complete Gospel must have been earlier still. In other words, we do date back to the eyewitness period with those particular fragments.

[snip...]

CPT: Contrary to popular opinion, the Gospels do claim to be historical documents and were expected to be understood as historical documents. Luke says so in quite unmistakable terms, and the others say it less directly.

What the Gospels are about is, first of all, telling the story of the historical Jesus. In fact, Luke says, to paraphrase his prologue, "Theophilus, you are already a believer, you are beginning the first steps on your way of faith, and now I'm writing this Gospel, dedicating it to you, so that you have the historical groundwork and basis for your faith." This means that faith is an element of the Gospels, but the historical aspect of who Jesus was and what He did is of equal importance.

[snip...]

Tacitus, for example, is a Roman historian who mentions Jesus and Pontius Pilate. He wrote the history of the Romans in Britain, a work called Agricola. But, first of all, Agricola is a work about the achievements and the greatness of his own father-in-law, Agricola; hence the title of that book. No historian today would say because he praises the achievements of Agricola, who was the procurator of Roman Britain at the time, that it cannot be reliable history.

This combination of a message, like Tacitus praising the glory of the achievements of a father-in-law with sober historical writing, was no contradiction in terms at the time, and this is the attitude displayed by the Gospels.

[snip...]

GN: Aside from papyrology, what other arguments are there to show that the Gospel of Matthew was written before A.D. 70, the date of the fall of Jerusalem?

CPT: The fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple, in A.D. 70 is a watershed event. But by that time, probably already in A.D. 66, the first Christian community had left Jerusalem. And indeed the leader of that community, James the brother of the Lord, had been stoned to death in 62.

Any historian would accept that Luke's Acts of the Apostles was written before the year 62. I for one don't understand why some theologians can't accept this; this dating is pure and straightforward historical logic. One of the threads running through that book of Acts is martyrdom and telling the story of people who were ready to suffer for the Lord, beginning with Jesus and continuing with Stephen being executed in 35.

One of the other most disruptive events in the history of the first Christian community was the stoning of the brother of the Lord, James, in 62. We know this because a reliable historian-reliable in the sense that he wasn't someone who wanted to prove Christianity right at all costs-the Jewish historian Josephus, mentions this stoning and gives us the year.

A few years later, about 64-65 and at the latest in 67, Peter and Paul were executed, martyred after the fire of Rome. None of these events is mentioned in the book of Acts: the death of James, Peter or Paul.

The only sensible explanation is obvious to historians: The book of Acts was written before 62. This, of course, means that the Gospel of Luke must be earlier still, and the Gospels which he used, Mark and Matthew, must be even earlier. So that's a historical and chronological assessment derived from the text itself.


Or from here:

Although there is almost universal agreement that Paul wrote seven of his letters in the period 48-62 AD, scholars are all over the place on the dates of the rest of the New Testament books. The reason for this is that any scheme of dating involves many assumptions and theoretical considerations about which there is wide disagreement. Much expertese boils down to educated guesses which a single archaeological find could overturn. It is safe to say, however, that anyone who questions if the books were written early by the persons named as their authors, can find strong arguments either way by top textual critics.

Nonetheless, as a matter of fact, the majority of textual critics argue for later dates. At one time it was chic to declare many of the New Testament books forgeries written about the middle of the second century or even later. Careful scholarship, argument by argument, demolished that position. Today the trend seems to be to acknowledge most New Testament books as authentic and to accept more moderate dates for them. Even so, disagreement between experts remains great. Two New Testament books are still widely regarded as forgeries, namely 2 Peter and 2 Timothy. This problem of their authorship is similar to the theory that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare. No amount of evidence ever settles that question although, being much closer to our own era, Shakespeare has much better documentation. If 2 Peter and 2 Timothy are forged, we have the improbable case of two books written by anonymous spiritual giants who despite their evident spiritual depth and calls for the highest virtue were petty enough to lie about their names and their purposes.


When Is the Latest the New Testament Books Could Have Been Written?

The dates for most New Testament Books cannot be moved up much later than 95 AD because at that point they bump into the writings of the early church father Clement of Rome who quoted from many of them. Early in the next century, other church fathers also quoted the New Testament books as did the Gnostics in the middle of the century. Quotes from the New Testament books and allusions to them show that they were already in widespread use during the last decade of the first century and first half of the second century.

[snip...]

Carsten Thiede has dated the Magdalen Papyrus (so called because it is owned by Magdalen College, Oxford University) to 70 AD or earlier. This consists of three scraps of Matthew, written on both sides (Thiede). Initial reaction from scholars was negative (Stanton). Whether Thiede can convince a majority of scholars remains to be seen.

Theories are fine, but can always be argued. Fixed dates are better. An example of writings with fixed dates are the Qumran or Dead Sea scrolls. We know these were sealed in the caves about 68 AD in advance of the Roman invasion which destroyed the temple. Fragments of several New Testament books may have been discovered among the texts found at Qumran. One, known as 7Q5, has been identified as Mark 6:52-53. Although there are two discrepancies in the fragment, both are of a kind that also appear in Coptic (Egyptian) manuscripts. Significantly, that is where early tradition places Mark as bishop. In that same cave was a fragment thought to be from 1 Timothy and another likely from James. (Thiede 32-46; Wenham 177ff).

The value of this find is that if it does represent Mark and if the cave was sealed in 68, it proves that Mark and possibly some other New Testament books were written no later than that date. Stanton argues that the Qumran scholars would not have had copies of Mark, because they would have disagreed with its content. This is a weak argument; my library contains any number of books with which I disagree. I have read them out of curiosity, for understanding, or to refute them. Surely the community at Qumran were no different.


Not sure we really want to get into a debate about biblical dating and historical accuracy here....but I just wanted people to be aware that when they are confronted by the argument that the bible "isn't accurate" or has been modified in translation through the years - that statement isn't an accepted by all scholars and historians. The best evidence that can be shown for that (inaccuracy) is that through translation from language to language over time, some of the words/sentences in the later versions got "lost in translation". However compared to the earliest texts, it's clear that the overall plot, theme, and message has not changed.

And even though he still goes to church religiously (pun intended) he has admitted that there has been a great distortion of Christ's message by the Church, especially as contained within Church Canon. It has actually been enlightening to me, for I always perceived my father as overtly rigid with resect to "what the Church says, goes". But even now, as he crosses his 80th year, he is eagerly studying apocryphal texts... always on the lookout for Christ and His message.


My father is the same - and one area where I differ with him is in the value of the various denominations. He stands rigid to the Catholic Church in many ways. I believe there's equal value in attending Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Episcopal, and Universal or Congregational churches. As for references to the Catholic Church and pedophiles - I ask you, Ray, to point out any large human organization on earth that isn't plagued by such evils, including other religions, Gnostics, or Atheists? Do you expect that Christ himself would be surprised?

http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=1721

The phenomenon of child sexual abuse, in the priesthood and in society at large, is a complex issue that does not admit of simple understandings or simple solutions. It is important that we examine the issue in greater depth; otherwise the church and society will not only repeat past mistakes but also make new mistakes in response. Most important, without a more informed understanding and a more reasoned response, children will be no safer and may, inadvertently, be placed at even greater risk.

[snip...]

When the Archdiocese of Boston reportedly released the names of 80 priests who had sexually molested minors over the last 50 years, people asked, “How can there be so many priests who abuse children? There are only about 800 priests in the archdiocese, so this represents 10 percent of our entire presbyterate!” But the numbers were misleading. On March 15 the official publication of the archdiocese, The Pilot, said the number of substantial allegations was approximately 60, and it is important to note that this number represents the total number of accused priests over 50 years. The editorial estimated that there were probably about 3,000 priests who served in the archdiocese during these 50 years, so the ratio is about 2 percent.

Similarly, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia recently went over its records since 1950. There were 2,154 priests who served during this time frame, and there were “credible allegations” against 35. This is about 1.6 percent. Likewise, the Archdiocese of Chicago reviewed its records. In the past 40 years, out of 2,200 priests who served, about 40, or 1.8 percent, had received credible allegations of abuse.

While one case is one too many, especially when perpetrated by a man with a sacred trust—a Catholic priest—the suggestion that priests are more likely to be child abusers than other males has yet to be established. In fact, the early statistics challenge that assumption and actually imply that the number of priests who molest could be lower. It would be reasonable to believe that the number of adult males who molest minors in society is at least as large. One need only speak with the dedicated and overworked social workers who staff our child protective services around the country to know that the percentage of adult males who molest minors is not insignificant. I conducted a survey of 1,810 adults in the United States and Canada and found that over 19 percent of them had been the victims of sexual molestation by an adult before the age of 18. This suggests that there are many perpetrators of child sexual abuse in our society. While we are shocked, and rightly so, that there would be 60 priests in the Archdiocese of Boston who have molested minors, we should be equally shocked at just how common child sexual abuse is throughout our society.

[snip...]

Another resolution pertains to a more “spiritual” issue. The public expects church leaders to be who we profess to be. That is, they expect us to be people of integrity. We profess to be celibate priests and Christians. When we are neither, the public is scandalized. In recent days, our church has appeared to be neither humble nor chaste. The media will continue to “flog” us until we are duly humbled and chastened. It is a bitter lesson for us to learn. Our fourth resolution therefore must be one of integrity; we must strive to be the humble and chaste Christians that we profess to be. When we fail, we ought to expect a public chastening.

Finally, I add one last suggested resolution. The Catholic Church has some clear and controversial teachings in areas of human sexuality, such as sexual chastity, birth control, abortion, marriage and homosexuality. Modern Americans, Catholics included, disagree with many of these teachings. The profound disagreement gives rise to considerable distrust, hurt and bitterness. I suspect some of the current furor is a gushing forth of much of this pent-up anger. Nevertheless, the church must stand fast with its teachings and endure the wrath that will come in its wake.

The Gospel of Christ will not always be popular, nor can public opinion determine what we teach. Jesus promised his disciples that they would suffer for his teaching. If we are too well thought of by secular society, one might wonder how faithful we are to the challenging Gospel that Jesus gave us. One of my concerns in the current crisis is that the Catholic bishops of this country will be less willing or able to exercise their responsibilities as teachers. It is a duty they cannot shirk, no matter how they are perceived. The final resolution I offer the church is to continue to preach the truth.


What I've noticed often is that dislike of the Catholic Church runs much deeper than simple disagreement with doctrine, most often there's involved a childhood of strict Catholic parents. And while I personally do not hold true to Catholic doctrine all the time - you won't find me with Ash on my forehead on most "Ash Wednesdays" - I also admire the beauty and inherent truth of the overall message the Church teaches. Just as I admire, equally, the same of every Christian denomination.

I believe that the threat that faces society today, the kind of threat that Scarz has been outlining here all along, is greater and of more paramount importance than the disagreements between denominations. Christians in part, and the "good" people of society in entirety, are under intense spiritual attack...and it's time for people to wake up to the pervasive danger that they face every day. The further a person allows themselves to "stray" from the "source", or God - the more vulnerable they are.

-Ry
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