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Thursday, October 31, 2013

When truth and myth collide

Hence one religion of two sects (Essene Jews and Nazarene Jews) eventually broke into two separate religions 400 years after Jesus and about 200 years before Islam. And then Islam, which also started as a sect of the religion of Abraham, soon divorced from the two Jewish sects to become a third religion after Muhammad turned his back on Jerusalem -- the original Kiblat -- and adopted Mekah as the new Kiblat.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
There are three comments (see below) responding to my articles over the last week or so regarding the story of the creation of humankind (that is reported in particular in Genesis) that I would like to talk about.
I find that Christians -- just like Muslims -- do not know their religion. What they know is what they have heard in church -- just like Muslims know their religion based on what they have heard in the mosques. But then all these are mere stories that lack documentary evidence. And then they argue that there is evidence, which are the holy books.
Fine, the evidence that all these events did happen may be found in the holy books, as they argue. But where is the evidence that these books are holy, meaning that they came from God and not from man?
We must remember that the Old Testament Bible was still being written up to 200 years before the birth of Christ (meaning they were writing the history of humankind thousands of years after the event). But then where was this source of reference? The only evidence that some of what they say happened actually did happen was not discovered until almost 2,000 years later between 1946 and 1956 in Qumran.
And the evidence to all these events, the Dead Sea Scrolls, that was discovered just 50-60 years ago, not only confirms some of these stories but also points to some flaws in what we had believed for 2,000 years.
Genesis reports that humankind started 4,000 years before the birth of Christ. However, between Genesis and Exodus there is a gap of 400 years in the story of humankind. Then there is a further gap of 400 years between the end of the Bible’s story on humankind and the birth of Christ. So there is a total gap of 800 years in the 4,000 years history of humankind (400 years between Genesis and Exodus and 400 years before the birth of Christ).
Today, when we talk about the three Abrahamic faiths, we talk about Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Quran makes a reference to the followers of Moses and the followers of Jesus who follow the way of Abraham as being the true submitters. (In fact, the Quran talks about the followers of Moses and the followers of Jesus and not the followers of Muhammad). Furthermore, the Quran refers to Jews as ‘Yahudi’ and Christians as ‘Nasrani’.
In that sense the Quran got it right because, at the time of Herod Archelaus, the Ethnarch of Judea ('Judea' is Hebrew but will be ‘Yahudia’ if in Greek), and Jesus, the Jews were divided into two groups -- the Jews of Judea/Yahudia (the Essene Jews) and the Jews of Nazareth (the Nazarene Jews). Hence Yahudi (Judea/Yahudia) and Nasrani (Nazareth) is the correct way to refer to the two groups of Jews. And this is what the Quran calls them.
It was not until 200 years after the birth of Christ when the Nazarene Jews began to separate from the Essene Jews. And by 400 years after the birth of Christ, the Nazarene Jews took on their own identity and doctrine and divorced totally from the Essene Jews.
Hence one religion of two sects (Essene Jews and Nazarene Jews) eventually broke into two separate religions 400 years after Jesus and about 200 years before Islam. And then Islam, which also started as a sect of the religion of Abraham, soon divorced from the two Jewish sects to become a third religion after Muhammad turned his back on Jerusalem -- the original Kiblat -- and adopted Mekah as the new Kiblat.
Hence even Islam faced Jerusalem first before turning to Mekah and this resulted in a separation of Islam from Judaism and Christianity.
The Gospel of the Nazarenes more or less sealed the split between the Essene Jews and the Nazarene Jews. This first and ‘ground-breaking’ Nazarene gospel was written in Hebrew and was written about 100 years after Jesus. In the year 177, Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon, challenged the writings of the Nazarenes and even went so far as to say that Jesus had practiced the wrong religion (or had committed heresy) in his treatise, Adversus Haereses (Against Heresy).
One of the Qumran scrolls, Aramaic Apocalypse, actually confirms that Nazarene Judaism (now called Christianity) is a breakaway from Essene Judaism. Hence, in short, Jesus was considered a heretic who had deviated from true Judaism.
The bottom line is, around 200 years after Jesus, the two Jewish sects of Judea and Nazareth began divorce proceedings and, another 200 years later, the divorce became final and Nazarene Judaism became known as Christianity. Then, another 200 years later, along came a third group that took some of the Judaism beliefs and some of the Christianity beliefs and thereafter emerged a third group under the name of Islam.
My final note is that Christians say they follow the New Testament and not the Old Testament. But then all the stories from the time of the creation of humankind up to the time of the creation of the nation of Israel are in the Old Testament. Are you saying the Christians reject all these stories?
When Jesus Christ asked his apostle to spread the news, it is not just about the old testament, it is about how the old testament points to him, the savior and redeemer.
- When Adam and Eve sinned, they covered themselves with fig leaves but God covers them with animal skin, signified that sin must be repaid by blood and only God (Jesus) can repay it.
- When God judge the world with flood, he asked Noah to build an ark so that all who believe and enter the ark would be save, again pointing the God's salvation plan in Christ.
- When Abraham near sacrifice Isaac on the altar, this point to the actual sacrifice that God made with His son for the sin of the world.
- When Joseph brothers betrayed him but later was saved and forgave by Joseph, this point to the betrayal of the world of Christ but His grace and mercy remained.
The old testament is the preparation for the coming savior, the new testament is the revelation of the savior.
Darren, October 30, 2013
With all due respect, there is no version 1 or 2 or 3. This may be your opinion but for Christians this is our faith. It is an insult to us when Islam is seen as the next evolution of our faith since it is not. It seems like the new trend now. Previously Islam was seen as the true faith while Christianity was not but now it is being referred to as the perfection of the one religion. Maybe there will be a 3rd squeal - 10 or 20 years down the road.
The Bible may be fallible but it is also very powerful. Like it or hate, people will talk about it. I'm a logical thinking person and always use the scientific approach. So I'm very well aware of it. But that does not stop me from reading through scriptures and passages that has given me inspirations, hope, strength and at times comfort.
You can dictate and deduce all you want but every follower of Christ knows that He is the Son and there will be none after him until judgement day.
'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword, forgive lest ye not be forgiven, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' - these are some of the virtues that we try our best to live with and not just words read from a book and used as quotation.
As always the problem has never been the written word but the person who interprets it and acts upon it.
mentora, October 30, 2013
I think the writer is being too logical in his thinking re the route Moses took in leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Remember there was no GPS in those days. They relied on the stars to find their way in the desert. Also, I don't think any of the Jews that left Egypt got to the Promised Land. Even Moses was denied this privilege and till today none can find his grave. After the idolatry and bad behaviour of the Jews like honouring the golden calf they were deemed unfit to reach their final destination. I think Joshua led the people instead of Moses and by then after 40 years of wandering in the desert the next generation was the ones who entered the Promised Land. About whether Moses existed and the Exodus happened, I doubt 3 world religions can be wrong about this truth. It is only us and our feeble minds who think we know better, at times even more superior than God!
Angel, October 30, 2013

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