Thursday, December 23, 2010
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
C O N T A C T
THE CENTER FOR ONTOLOGICAL ACTION
P.O. Box 28983 Bellingham, WA 98228-0983 U.S.A.
MEDITATIONS ON THE NATURE AND MISSION OF JESUS OF NAZARETH,
BASED UPON TRANSLATION OF THE GOSPELS OF MATTHEW AND JOHN
FROM THE ORIGINAL GREEK TEXTS.
Based on the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle and Aland), and the Greek-English Lexicon (Liddell and Scott), among other sources.
Season’s Greetings to one and all!
Many years ago, while briefly in training for the Episcopal ministry at Yale Divinity School, I studied and began translating passages from the New Testament in their original ancient Greek. Combined with my lifelong interests in UFOlogy, the mysterious origins of our species, and spiritual contact with other realms, I eventually focused my efforts on re-discovering the true nature of the birth of the one we know as Jesus of Nazareth, together with his subsequent mission to humanity. What follows is a brief synopsis of my findings.
Since parting ways with the Church (much to their relief, no doubt), I’ve undergone my own fair share of contact experiences. Perhaps these are visits from my own personal magi? Such encounters may extend back into my childhood years, but I’ve yet to explore that possibility. I’ve begun sharing my experiences and thoughts (including the passage you’re about to read) on an ever-expanding HubPages blog here: http://hubpages.com/hub/Making-Contact-Close-Encounters-the-Spirit-World-and-the-Dawning-of-a-New-Age. Please feel free to leave comments or contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Meanwhile, I wish you all peace, joy, love and understanding in the true spirit of this holy season.
©Matthew Thuney 1994, 2002, 2010
This presentation is based upon the translation of nativity narratives and certain Gospel passages relating to Jesus’ nature and mission. These translations are taken from the ancient Greek, directly from the original writings of the first century of the Christina Era (CE).
First, a caveat concerning translations. Common translations as they have been handed down to us (for example, the King James, New International, and Revised Standard versions of the Bible) contain countless inaccuracies due to the additions and accretions resulting from custom and usage over time. The original intent of the actual writers may have been forgotten or ignored in favor of more easily understandable or comfortable interpretations for cultural, religious, and sociopolitical reasons.
The Gospel of Matthew is considered one of the more “historic” Gospels, in that its narrator kept closely to the facts of Jesus’ life, insofar as they are known. Matthew is also referred to as the “Jewish Gospel,” because the author went to great lengths to show that Jesus was indeed the messiah promised in the Old Testament and the Books of the Prophets.
We begin with Matthew 1:16, “Mary was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word, pneuma, translated as “spirit,” actually had several meanings in the first century CE, including “wind, breath, breath of life.” Likewise, agion, rendered in the Bible as “holy,” may more closely be translated as “pure.” Thus, it would seem that the writer of Matthew intended to imply that Mary literally had life breathed into her. This concept of breath as a spiritual force is strikingly similar to many East Indian philosophies of the time – a similarity later reflected in Jesus’ teachings.
In Matthew 2:1 we learn that “Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.” These magoi were probably dream interpreters, enchanters or wizards from the area of Persia. In fact, the phrase magoi apo anatolon is best translated as “wizards from the place where the sun rises.” It may be unsettling to modern-day “Christians” to learn that their Lord was not greeted into this world simply by amorphous “wise men,” but by actual wizards, learned in the ways of magic and divination.
Why did the wizards make their journey to Jesus’ birthplace? According to Matthew 2:2, “For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.” This translation of the Greek word astera as “star” is a particularly egregious error. For astera in this time and context meant basically a “flame, light or fire.” The concept of a star as we know it, as a distant physical body of glowing gas was foreign to this era. What did the magi mean? Simply a very bright, and unexpected, light in the sky.
After meeting with King Herod, the wizards continue on with their search in Matthew 2:9: “The star they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest (elteon estatne) over the place where the child was.” The Greek term here means “came and stood.” This is an odd “star,” indeed! It comes and goes across the sky, then arrives at a standstill directly over a given location. Indeed, this is no ordinary “star” at all, but a highly mobile and maneuverable bright object in the sky.
Meanwhile, an “angel of the Lord” appears to Joseph in a “dream.” Since the idea of the robe-clad, haloed, winged angel is a much later Christianized development, what is meant by the phrase angellos kyriou? Most likely, this refers to a “messenger from above.” We cannot know what appearance this messenger might have taken, only that the Greek term angellos refers specifically to a messenger who was sent from one place to another. In this case, from above to below. And onar is not merely a dream, but specifically a dream vision. Does this all sound somewhat reminiscent of your basic nighttime visitation or close encounter?
Finally, in Matthew 18:3-4, reference is made to the “Kingdom of Heaven.” This is a blatant attempt to Christianize a decidedly pagan reference. The phrase Basileian ton ouranon refers to what was thought to be an actual place in the skies where the gods dwelled, and from where messengers were sent to earth.
The Gospel according to John contains no birth narrative. This is not a “historical” Gospel, since the author of John was more interested in conveying a deep inner meaning than relating facts or complying with Jewish tradition. John is often called the “Gnostic Gospel” because it is thought to contain hidden knowledge (gnosis) which can set the faithful free and give them insight into true spirituality.
In John 3:2, Jesus is called “the Word” (logos). This can mean either that which is said or spoken, or the inward thought itself which precedes the spoken word. Hence, to say that Jesus was the Word and the Word was God is to say that Jesus is both an expression of the Divine (remember the Matthew birth narrative?) and the Divine Itself.
John 3:31 contains the enigmatic “He who comes from above is above all.” “Above” here (anothen) refers not to some mystical heavenly realm, but to a specific place and/or time; as in “right up there” and/or “from the beginning.”
Jesus then says (John 4:34), “My food is to do the will of him who sent me.” The Greek verb here is pempo, “to send forth,” as one might utter a word. Jesus seems to be implying that he was sent forth, or somehow expressed, from one place to another.
Further, in John 5:30, Jesus claims, “I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.” Curiously translated as “will,” thelema is closely associated with terms denoting “charm” or “spell”. It is as though Jesus had been somehow magically created and expressed from another world to our world.
And again, in John 6:38, Jesus reiterates, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, the will of Him who sent me.” This is a crucial passage. Here, katabaino literally means “to come down,” as in dismounting from a chariot or descending a ladder. Jesus wants to make it very clear that he came down from somewhere to represent the Word and to be the Word. What is this Word? Perhaps the incarnation of some sort of spell or enchantment?
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus mentions two separate and distinct beings: One is the Lord (kyrios). This apparently refers to the Lord of the skies, a kind of kingly entity. In more intimate situations, Jesus also talks about a more familiar being, pater), which is translated as Father. However, pater is truly a familiar term, more like “dad.” Essentially, Jesus seems to be saying that his Dad sent him from up above to down here as an expression of – and to bear witness to – the Lord.
So, what may we conclude from these interpretations of the Gospels?
Something pure – a wind or breath of life? – came from outside of Mary and caused her to be with child.
A bright light appeared in the sky and preceded the three wizards to Jerusalem. There, the light stopped and waited while the wizards visited with King Herod. Then, the light resumed its course, leading the wizards to Bethlehem, where the light stopped and stood over Jesus’ birthplace. This light was no star, but obviously an intelligently guided, highly mobile object.
A messenger from the skies came down and paid a visit to Joseph.
Jesus’ Dad came from above, meaning the skies or heavens.
Jesus presented himself as “one sent” from the skies or heavens to the earth. Jesus “came down” to earth.
Jesus’ Dad sent him here to be and to bear witness to the Lord.
A divine contact or “inspiration” resulting in pregnancy . . . an ongoing UFO sighting . . . wizards with strange powers . . . a close encounter with a messenger from beyond . . . an envoy bearing witness to realms beyond our own.
What may we conclude?
Clearly, Jesus was not from here. Therefore, in the strictest sense, Jesus was an alien being.
Perhaps Jesus was some sort of emissary from “out there,” sent to show us that God is not only what is “out there” and “down here,” but the very divine inspiration, the breath of life, the Word that unites both.
Perhaps his Dad sent Jesus to show us how things are “up there.” And to suggest that we might live that way “down here.”
Perhaps, instead of killing Jesus and turning him from teacher into sacrificial lamb, we should have listened to the message and gotten to know the messenger.
Posted by P. Urial at 6:56 PM