Saturday, 21 November 2009

Jesus V's The Religion of Christianity

Jesus V’s The Religion of Christianity

Jesus is a rough English translation of the Greek, Iesous (Joshua), which is in turn a transliteration of the Hebrew, Yeshua or Yehoshua, which means ‘Yahwah will save’ and is the opposite to Immanuel, another name he famously holds, which means ‘God with us’. The name Jesus was very common to Jews both before and during the most famous man known by it.

His other most popular titles include the ‘Son of Man, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace and the Saviour’. In the first case, the Reverend R.J Campbell, writes-

‘His favourite self-designation was Son of Man. Much has been written about this choice of a title, but it does not seem to have excited any wonderment in his followers, nor is there any obscurity in his use of it. It was an Old Testament phrase used of a prophet as representative of a particular age and people, and as the vehicle of God’s message’.

(R.J Campbell, The Life of Christ)

The ‘Son of God’ similarly means ‘agent, representative, protector of God’s message, vice regent, messenger and prophet’. In the age that Jesus lived, ‘Son of God’, in Palestine to Jews also meant ‘Servant of God’, ‘One who is faithful in God’s service’ and is close and dear to God like a son to a father.

Jesus himself said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers; they will be called Sons of God’.

(Matthew 5: 9). In another passage, ‘angels’ are addressed as ‘Sons of God’. Job 1: 6 reads-

‘Now there was a day when the Sons of God came to present themselves before their Lord, and Satan also came among them’.

In the same sense, the phrase is not new or unique to Christianity. ‘Father’ was used to refer to God in Israel several centuries before Jesus in respect to his position as the Creator and Cherisher and ‘Son of God’ (and Sons of God and Children of God) to those who accepted God and His Message.

‘King David’ was given this title (Psalms 2: 7), his son and successor, ‘King Solomon’ was given this title (1 Chronicles: 22: 10), ‘Adam’ was given this title (Luke 3: 38) and even a nation of men and women, ‘Israel’ was awarded this designation (Exodus, 4: 22)

‘Messiah’ was an ancient office and employed to describe ‘kings of Israel’ (all Jews of course) and one messiah was even a gentile, ‘Cyrus of Iran’, who may have been Zoroastrian and hence a believer in two gods; one good and the other evil. All were anointed with oil upon assuming the throne as was the definition of the word (‘to anoint’, ‘anointed’ and the most popular for Christianity ‘the anointed one’).

‘The Prince of Peace’ is an interesting title. Jesus is stated to have said, ‘He that has no sword, let him sell his garments and buy one’. (Luke 22: 36). In another passage he said, ‘I have not come to send peace, but a sword’ (Matthew 10: 34).

‘The Saviour’ is perhaps more intriguing and revealing given that fifteen of the most common twenty-two characteristics of the ‘mystery cults’ and pagan religions are relevant to Jesus in connection to the title.

At least sixteen saviours were recorded with varying semblances to the overall model before the advent of Jesus. Most were born of virgins on 25th December, were a ‘Son of God’ and almost all were crucified or executed and returned from death within days. Some celebrated a form of ‘last supper’ with their followers just before their deaths, initiated the Eucharist and were one of three gods in a trinity.

Hercules, Nimrod, Romulus (the founder of the Roman Empire), Mithras and even the Pharaohs of Egypt held the title and possessed some of the 22 characteristics popular to any claimant. However, Oedipus was the champion of them all, being the only one to possess all the traits of ‘a saviour’.

Outside of the Greco-Roman World (that included Egypt and Iran who had their own ‘Saviours’, separate from Rome and Hellenistic Culture) which Jesus lived in, traces of ‘The Saviour’ can also be found in ancient India and China in addition to the Inca and Aztec civilisations.

It is the image, personality and memory of Jesus that features as the hallmark of Christianity, not his commands, recommendations, prohibitions, solutions or even his personal judgements.

Even if his followers were to look upon him as their model and become like him in his attire, outward appearance and manners, the memory of him would give some credibility and significance to remembering him at all.

If the latter was true, then the vast majority of Christians would think of it as correct to not consume alcoholic beverages, abstain from giving and taking interest, eating pork and gambling on a social level.

On a personal level, Christian societies would allow and encourage a multiplicity of wives for one husband, the veiling of women, the growing of the beard for men and circumcision for male infants. However, it is true the Christians forbid and discourage most of what he encouraged while encouraging most of what he discouraged.

Similarly, where today are the maxims he taught to his disciples. To ‘be poor’, to ‘leave the temptations of the world’ and to ‘turn the other cheek?’

Jesus taught pacifism, the Christians of today have rejected this outright. In fact, it was quietly disposed of in the early centuries of Christianity and is one of the most embarrassing episodes of its history.

“Heaven and the Earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away, but of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in the heaven nor the Son but the Father".

(Mark 13: 31-32)

It can be inferred from this outline, God is One and He is neither an angel nor a man. In addition, He is more powerful and knowledgeable than all others and finally only He (God) knows when both the Heaven and the Earth will pass away.

Jesus as ‘the Son’ is inferior to God the Father since he does not possess omniscience ‘knowledge of all things’ that the latter has.

In another passage, Jesus said to Mary Magdalene to report to his followers, ‘I ascend unto my father and your father; and to my God and your God’.

(John 20: 17)


‘Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Immanuel, which being interpreted is God with us'.

(Isaiah 7: 14)

The above is a common translation of a verse in Isaiah.

Compare the above with the text below which was delivered by an angel of God to Joseph in a dream about Mary, the mother of Jesus.

‘she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew)

The angel informs Joseph Mary will have a son and they should call him Jesus, not Immanuel. God says in one verse to call the son Immanuel, in another the same God asks them to call him Jesus. It is nonsensical to assume it refers to the same baby and God is speaking to or about the same parents.

Let us examine Immanuel. ‘Immanuel’ is a title used in defence of the divine status ascribed to Jesus in history. The name is employed once in the Old Testament and is noticeably spoken of also in only one verse (Matthew 1: 23) in the New Testament (NT) to describe Jesus.

In fact, it is not mentioned anywhere in the NT. No one calls Jesus by that name in the Gospels, questions him about its possible relation to him (or anyone else) and he himself does not use it personally (or speak of its prophetic relevance to himself).

The passages in Isaiah use the Hebrew word ‘almah’ which means ‘young woman’ while Matthew uses the Greek word ‘parthenos’ which conveniently for Christians means ‘virgin’.

The Verses in Isaiah with select Hebrew words reads-

“Therefore, my Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold, ha-almah [the or a] [young woman or virgin] harah [is pregnant or is about to become pregnant or shall conceive], and bear a son, and [she or you] shall call his name Immanuel."

Christians have taken the meanings which they are satisfied with as being set in stone and discarded everything that could shatter their foundation. The ‘young woman’

Below are a variation of the same verse from Jewish sources-

Therefore, my Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the maiden will become pregnant and bear a son, and she will name him Immanuel’.

(ArtScroll Tanach, Stone Edition)

‘Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman is with child, and she will bear a son, and shall call his name 'Immanu-el'.

(The Jerusalem Bible, Koren Publishing)

‘Assuredly, my Lord will give you a sign of His own accord! Look, the young woman is with child and about to give birth to a son. Let her name him Immanuel’.

(JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH)

‘Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel’.

(Judaica Press Tanach)

‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the young woman is with child, and she will bear a son, and shall call his name Immanu-El’.

(Soncino Press Tanach)

The Original Hebrew version of Isaiah however reads as transliterated-

‘Hinneh ha-almah harah ve-yeldeth ben ve-karath shem-o immanuel’. The word almah is part of the Hebrew phrase ha-almah hara, meaning "the almah is pregnant."

Since the present tense is used, it is argued that the young woman was already pregnant and hence not a virgin. As such, the verse cannot be cited as a prediction of the future.

Mary wasn’t born yet, even if Christians argue Jesus was. Since Mary did not then exist, she could not have been pregnant with Jesus.

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