- Exploring the Inevitable Truth
we know the truth?
truth is knowable.
political editing that has evidently been applied to the New Testament during
the two centuries in which it was written, following the life of Christ Jesus,
doesn't make it worthless, though its content was evidently shaped to serve
the system of empire. Actually it would be surprising if this king of
editing hadn't happened.
So, how do we know that in the face of all the doctoring and
editing of history that there was such a person as Christ Jesus, and what, if
anything, that was passed on to us is true?
According to all evidence the man,
Christ Jesus did exist, and did exist as a powerful spiritual leader who had
probed the deep questions of human experience over a span of thirty years, and
through inspiration, revelation, progressive experiences, had made a name for
himself by preach and healing; who had also projected a divine image of mankind of such profundity and power that it scared the masters
of the Roman empire to such an extend that they killed him for it. In this
sense the greatness of
the achievements of the man can be measured by the effect they had to
shake up the world's largest empire at the time. He evidently caused shockwaves that sent
tremors to the very core of the Roman Empire, which owned the region in which he
lived. But this in itself does not prove that he existed; that we has a
profound healer; and that he had a vital message for mankind. So how do we
know that any of these three elements were real?
scholars regard Paul's epistles (written 50-62) to be the earliest books
written of the New Testament. They are referenced as early as c. 96 by Clement
of Rome. Thirteen epistles
in the New Testament
are traditionally attributed to Paul, of which seven are almost
universally accepted, three are considered in some academic circles as
other than Pauline for textual and grammatical reasons, and the other
three are in
dispute in those same circles. Paul apparently dictated all his
epistles through a secretary (or amanuensis),
who would usually paraphrase the gist of his message, as was the practice
among 1st-century scribes. Paul's letters are largely written to churches
which he had visited, since he was a great traveler, visiting Cyprus,
Minor (modern Turkey),
mainland Greece, Crete,
and Rome. His letters are
full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should
live. Still, he does not tell his correspondents (or the modern reader) much
about the life of Jesus. His most explicit references are to the Last
Supper [1 Cor.
11:17-34] and the crucifixion
and resurrection.[1 Cor.
15] His specific references to Jesus' teaching are likewise sparse,[1 Cor.
raising the question, which is still disputed, as to how consistent his
account of the faith is with that of the four canonical Gospels, Acts,
and the Epistle of
James tell us. The view that Paul's Christ is very different from the historical
Jesus has been expounded by Adolf
Harnack among many others. Nevertheless, he provides the first written
account of what it is to be a Christian, and thereby what Christian
the Bible nor other history books says how or when Paul died. According to
Christian (probably verbal) tradition, Paul was beheaded
in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s at Tre
Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey). By comparison, the
same tradition has Peter recognized as having been crucified
upside-down. Paul's Roman citizenship may have accorded him the more merciful
death by beheading.
Paul, the Apostle
Gospel According to Thomas,
exists a fifth gospel, commonly referred to as the Gospel of Thomas. It is a well preserved early
writing that simply lists Jesus' statements, a sayings-gospel.
It was discovered fairly recently near Nag
Hammadi, in Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as
the Nag Hammadi
language text, the second of seven contained in what modern-day
scholars have designated as Codex II, is composed of 114 sayings
attributed to Jesus.
Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the Canonical
Gospels, while the other sayings were previously unknown.
Gospel of Thomas is very different in tone and structure from other New
Testament apocrypha and the four Canonical
Gospels. Unlike the canonical Gospels, Thomas's gospel is not a narrative
account of the life of Jesus; instead, it consists of logia
(sayings) attributed to Jesus, sometimes stand-alone, sometimes embedded
in short dialogues
or parables. The text contains a possible allusion to the death of Jesus
in logion 65 (Parable
of the Wicked Tenants, paralleled in the Synoptic
Gospels), but doesn't mention crucifixion,
judgement; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus.
Since its discovery, many scholars see it as a proof for the existence of
the so-called Q source,
which might have been very similar in its form as a collection of sayings
of Jesus without any accounts of his deeds or his life and death - a
so-called "sayings gospel".
Thomas, resurrection seems more a cognitive event of spiritual attainment,
of a kind that is involving a certain discipline or asceticism.
differing in approach, scholars argue that several verses in the Gospel of
John are best understood as responses to a Thomasine community and its
beliefs. Pagels, for example, says that John's gospel makes two references
to the inability of the world to recognize the divine light. In contrast,
several of Thomas' sayings refer to the light born 'within'. John
1:9 ("...Light that lights every man born into the world")
acknowledges Thomas' idea of the Light within. John also follows Thomas by
personifying the Light as Jesus. John
14:16 ("I am the way, the truth, and the life...)
the favorable mention of James the Just, generally considered a
"pro-circumcision" Christian, the Gospel of Thomas also
disciples said to him, "Is circumcision useful or not?" He
said to them, "If it were useful, their father would produce
children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true
circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect."
Thomas 8 SV
And Jesus said, "The person is like a wise fisherman who cast his
net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish.
Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw
all the little fish back into the sea, and easily chose the large
fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!"
again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the
lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen
pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good
fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49This is how it will be at
the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from
the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there
will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
that Thomas makes a distinction between large and small fish, whereas
Matthew makes a distinction between good and bad fish. Furthermore,
Thomas' version has only one fish remaining, whereas Matthew's version
implies many good fish remaining. The manner in which each Gospel
concludes the parable is also instructive. Thomas' version invites the reader to draw their own
conclusions as to the interpretation of the saying, whereas Matthew
provides an explanation connecting the text to an apocalyptic end of the
of the lost sheep, which is paralleled by Matthew, Luke, John, and
is the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew
do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders
away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look
for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the
truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine
that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is
not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."
is the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15: 3-7 NIV
Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred
sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the
open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when
he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then
he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with
me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you that in the same way
there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to
is the parable of the lost sheep in Thomas 107 SV
Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred
sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine
and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said
to the sheep, I love you more than the ninety-nine."
is the lost sheep discourse in John 10: 1-18 NIV
tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the
gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The
man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman
opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls
his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all
his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because
they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact,
they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's
voice." 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not
understand what he was telling them.
Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the
sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the
sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through
me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that
they may have life, and have it to the full. 11"I am the good
shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The
hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the
wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf
attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a
hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — 15just
as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my
life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep
pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and
there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father
loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. 18No
one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have
authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This
command I received from my Father."
with many more details: Gospel
the Gospel of Thomas
Gospels of Matthew and Luke were evidently written independently, each using Mark
and a second document called "Q" as a source. Q is defined as
the "common" material found in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark
their reconstructions primarily on the Gospel of Thomas and the oldest
layer of Q, they propose that Jesus functioned as a wisdom sage,
rather than a Jewish rabbi,
speaking, each gospel (and Acts) is anonymous. The Gospel of John is
somewhat of an exception, although the author simply refers to himself as
"the disciple Jesus loved" and claims to be a member of Jesus'
inner circle. The identities of each author were agreed upon at an early
date, certainly no later than the early 2nd century. It is likely that the
issue of the authorship of each gospel had been settled at least somewhat
earlier, as the earliest sources are in complete agreement on the issue.
Indeed, no one questioned the early 2nd century consensus until the 18th
scholars today question the traditional claim that Luke
the Evangelist, an associate of St.
Paul who was probably not an eyewitness to Jesus' ministry, wrote the
Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles. Scholars are more divided though
differential to the traditional claim that Mark
the Evangelist, an associate of St.
Peter who might have been an eyewitness to Jesus' ministry, wrote the
Gospel of Mark. Scholars are more divided over the traditional claim that Matthew
the Apostle wrote the Gospel of Matthew and that John
the Apostle wrote the Gospel of John. Opinion, however, is widely
divided on this issue and there is no widespread consensus.
und der Engel by Rembrandt
authenticity of the historical factuality appears to have been questioned
already in Rembrandt's time who is seen writing the gospels with someone
standing behind his back, whispering in his ear - new history inspired by an
angel, or by a messenger in the service of a different master?
And still, the
question remains: How does one know the truth?
This is an
old question that Plato developed an answer for with the Meno dialog. How
can one Know the Truth? The answer is such that even a slave boy can prove
to to himself some profound geometric truths based on personal experience by
simply doing some basic discoveries of universal principle. What is true can
be replicated, and what is a myth cannot. Inspired by the gospels, a New
England woman was prompted to search for the underlying principles that were
reflected in some of the healing work that the gospels and other stories of
the Bible inspire. She is known as Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian
Science, and the founder of its church, and author of its textbook.
of this experience:
certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of
me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither
was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. - Paul.
The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and
hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. - Jesus.
(Christian Science discovered)
In the year 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life,
Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science. God had been
graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final
revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing.
(Mission of Christian Science)
This apodictical Principle points to the revelation of Immanuel, "God
with us," - the sovereign ever-presence, delivering the children of
men from every ill "that flesh is heir to." Through Christian
Science, religion and medicine are inspired with a diviner nature and
essence; fresh pinions are given to faith and understanding, and thoughts
acquaint themselves intelligently with God. (S&H
Experiments have favored the fact that Mind governs the body, not in one
instance, but in every instance. The indestructible faculties of Spirit
exist without the conditions of matter and also without the false beliefs
of a so-called material existence. Working out the rules of Science in
practice, the author has restored health in cases of both acute and
chronic disease in their severest forms. Secretions have been changed, the
structure has been renewed, shortened limbs have been elongated, ankylosed
joints have been made supple, and carious bones have been restored to
healthy conditions. I have restored what is called the lost substance of
lungs, and healthy organizations have been established where disease was
organic. Christian Science heals organic disease as surely as it heals
what is called functional, for it requires only a fuller understanding of
the divine Principle of Christian Science to demonstrate the higher rule. (S&H
experiences have bee replicated by countless people across more than a century
of healing, mostly by people healing themselves with nothing more than the aid
of her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the
Scriptures. The textbook
itself contains 100 pages of healing experiences as a sample of the kind of
work that had been accomplished.
Jesus had not existed and illustrated what can be accomplished, none of these
healing experiences would likely have been possible, but with the discovery of
the principle for it that was imbedded in Christ Jesus' work, amazing things
have been achieved and rather quite naturally. They seem to tell us that the
related aspects in Jesus' life were likely true. Nevertheless, we have no
knowledge of any man walking on water, or converting water into wine by
spiritual means, or feeding 5000 people with a few loaves, and so forth, which
appeared to have been hoaxes added into the story of Jesus' life for which no principle
exists. We do a lot of this this kind of editing these days, creating science mythologies, like
warming fantasies and the nuclear-fusion power delusion, and so forth.
to be by this path, by the scientific replication in our time of the works
attributed to Christ Jesus, that real story of Christ Jesus is being written.
If an authentic version of the New Testament exists, it is likely that which
is being written today by the spiritual achievements of teaching and healing,
by which the truth becomes knowable.
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