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Saturday, June 10, 2006

 

More issues coming to light because of "The Da Vinci Code"

Namaste. The recent discussion here about The Da Vinci Code brings up more things of interest to this forum than most may realize. May I suggest that the issues raised by Elaine Pagels are only partly of the concern "the Church" has, and the idea that "there was no Jesus" is another red herring designed to "throw a false scent" and distract from a far more serious skeleton in their closet. What would that be? Let's follow the work of some other historians and scholars to see.

Flavius Josephus was a first-century Roman historian whose works are still extant, and giving allowance for adjustments historians always make in favor of their employers (in this case the Roman empire) we find some unusually interesting things in his works. He writes of a conversation where one person is asking about the nature of Jews. Remember now that Jesus and his contemporaries were considered Jews—the word (and religion of) "Christianity" was invented by Paul and was first heard in Greece after Jesus had long left the scene. Neither the word nor religion are from Palestine where the original disciples of Jesus lived. So what is a Jew? Josephus tells us (paraphrasing): that a Jew is a most amazing character, but if one actually wants to know the complete nature of something he must know its origin. The Jews, he says, are derived from the Indian philosophers! In other words, they were followers of Vedic culture. This comes as no particular surprise to members of this forum, but of course we find that that culture has changed dramatically over time, so that it now looks entirely different.

If Jesus was a Jew what kind of Jew was he? According to Robert Eisenman, religious historian at Cal State Univ, Long Beach, there were basically two main divisions of Jews occupying Palestine in the early first century. There were the Pharisees, who were cooperating with the occupying Roman forces, and who held control over the main temple, where they engaged in endless slaughter of animals performed as sacrifice and atonement. There was another group that lived outside the city of Jerusalem, near the Dead Sea in a community known as Qumran. Eisenman, and others, tell us that the place called Nazareth did not exist at that time; you cannot find it on maps of the time. Jesus' being called a Nazarene, instead of being a reference to his birthplace, referred to his association with the people of the Qumran community who were referred to as Nazarenes, Ebionites, Zaccarii, and by other appellations, all referring to the same group, or different parts of the same group of Jews.

The Nazarenes not only held the Romans in contempt, but the Pharisees as well. They were convinced that their scripture, the Torah, had been falsified up to a thousand years earlier and they were trying to reestablish their factual religion. They believed that God was kind and loving Being, and that He was replaced by this blood-thirsty character, Jehovah, who was always smiting someone or other, thundering in a tent, and demanding blood sacrifices. Blood sacrifices were an anathema to the Nazarenes were strict vegetarians. They also held that the Deity was both masculine and feminine (Radha Krishna, Sita Rama, etc.), they understood the eternal nature of the self (soul), and that self-realization and God realization were synonymous. There had many other traits identical with vaishnava siddhanta. They were interested in reestablishing their long lost religion and culture, and to live accordingly, but both the Pharisees and the Romans were making that difficult. Jesus was esteemed as their patriarch (acharya), and his role was to determine what was true and what was false in the Torah, and to replace the false teachings with the true principles of religion. As a leader of this sometimes militant group that sought independence from Rome, he was crucified—a punishment reserved for political crimes alone. This group, the Nazarenes, were actually followers of the Eternal Religion, otherwise known as sanatana dharma.

So the reason "the Church" is so concerned is that once people begin digging into the factual history of Jesus they are going to find out that not only is he not what they have made him out to be, as Pagels also concludes, but that he and his followers were followers of sanatana dharma. That opens up an entirely new can of worms that historians, religionists, and scholars the world over have worked in concert to keep closed.

The fact is that Jesus and the Ebionites were vaishnavas, and this can be understood from the nature of their beliefs and practices as revealed not only by the Egyptian Nag Hammadi texts, but the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were made available only in the early 90's. The Dead Sea Scrolls are directly from the Ebionites, and offer direct references to the practices and beliefs. For this reason, although they were discovered in 1949, they were held in abeyance by a cabal of scholars for more than forty years. It was largely due to Eisenman's efforts that the scroll material became available to scholars, giving us immediate access to the followers of Jesus without any interpretation by a motivated and controlling church.

Regarding the existence of the factual Jesus, Eisenman shows that there is little indeed written about Jesus, but there is a great deal of information about his brother, James. Both are referred to by name in the Nag Hammadi texts. For many long and detailed reasons he concludes that whatever James was, Jesus also was, and James was indeed a follower of the eternal religion.

For a very detailed analysis please consult Robert Eisenman's 1,000 page tome, James, Brother of Jesus. And for a much more livelier (and shorter) read, regarding the collusion and mystery behind the discovery and release of the scrolls, get Bagent and Leigh's Dead Sea Scroll Deception . Bagent and Leigh are also authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which aims at understanding the historical Jesus as opposed to the Jesus of faith, and is one of the main source books for Dan Brown's best seller. See also Hans Joachim Schoepes' Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early Church.


Dhanesvara Das


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