Sunday, July 31, 2016
The Bible a New Perspective
In coming to terms with my psychic experiences, there was no ignoring the bible, a book filled with stories of scientifically impossible things which modern people were always trying to explain away as some perfectly natural phenomenon. I used to be a big fan of this type of thing. The Red Sea parted due to the gigantic volcanic explosion that blew the Greek island of Thera almost off the map. The seven plagues of Egypt were biological events having to do with the flooding of the Nile and parasites. That kind of thing fascinated me.
It was time to give the bible the once over with an open mind about psychic phenomenon. I started with the bible because I was most familiar with it, as opposed to any other religious document. The truth is I was only passingly familiar with the bible.
The New Testament turned out to be the best place to start my quest to reevaluate the bible in light of my new science of the psychic world. So much of the Old Testament is very ancient and each book has such a complex history, that it would be a life time of work to try to tease an understanding of the psychic threads from the old prophets.
How funny and distressing it was to read about the Jesus Seminar, which was a group of religious leaders who, like me, didn't believe in the supernatural. Well, I was not alone in my skepticism. But I had seen the mystery in everyday life that psychics had access to, and all my former assumptions about what was true in the bible were open to modification.
The question I wanted to settle for myself was how reliable were the gospel's testimonies about Christ's miracles and his rising from the dead. Was the reality of a supernatural God actually empirically believable in a modern scientific world?
This in itself is a gigantic undertaking, but I did my best to satisfy my intellect. My first question was where did the bible come from. Sounds easy, but it's a long, complicated story. Suffice to say that thousands of brilliant scholars of ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin have spent their lives studying fragments of ancient biblical texts, papyri, and many other sources to obtain the most accurate reading of the New Testament Gospels.
There are disputes about many of the details, but for my purposes, I was able to assure myself that the texts we have are close enough to the original texts to be trusted. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, there are lots of reliable, first person sources and records for the gospels from very shortly after Christ was crucified.
I read so many books and often got only one small insight out of the whole book. The best overall book I read was 'Who Is Jesus' by Darrell L. Bock. 'Can We Trust the New Testament' by John A. T. Robinson is also pretty good.
The picture I constructed from all this various research was of a Mediterranean world that was far more sophisticated and advanced than I'd imagined. At the same time, in those ancient days, they were more inclined to believe in supernatural causes for things than we are today. Things like thunderstorms and droughts were believed to be acts of God, as indeed, we still often refer to them today. Soothsayers and prophets and the idea that some people can perform miracles was more easily accepted back then, than it would be today.
I had to believe that if there were third grade teacher looking people today who could hunt out murderers from unseen Polaroids, as I had seen on the TV show SENSING MURDER, there were similar people in the time of Jesus, doing the same sort of things and subject to far less skepticism than they would be today.
Jesus, then, must have been someone quite a magnitude above this type of 'seeing,' or the things he did wouldn't have seemed so remarkable to his contemporaries. It appeared to be very likely that he was something much more than a knowledgeable rabbi who told subtle and profound parables.
As I read the letters of Paul, I was very impressed by his intelligence. He was a highly educated, sophisticated Jew from a cosmopolitan city, who was also a Roman citizen. In the end, it was those letters, written so soon after the Crucifixion, that persuaded me that something very unusual had indeed happened. Clearly, Paul was a man of substance in his community and a deep thinker, and he was satisfied by the testimonies he heard from the disciples, and by his vision on the road to Damascus, that Christ was the son of God and had come back from the dead. I am not enough of a scholar to understand exactly what was meant in those times by the phrase 'son of God.' But it seems to me, at the very least, to imply a very close relationship with the very greatest of powers of the universe, otherwise referred to as God.
Now that I had accepted that the world according to science was a very incomplete world model, I gave a lot more credence to the New Testament claims of miracles, like bringing Lazarus back from the dead, the angels at the tomb, and Christ risen from the grave. The New Testament could be looked at as partly a simple reporting of the significant events of the life of Jesus, and his attempt to make clear the spiritual meaning of his miracle acts.
Once you accept that the rules of science are somehow embedded in a larger supernatural construct, the New Testament becomes a really interesting document of ordinary men and women, who witnessed probably the most extraordinary event in mankind's history, relating what they saw and thought about it. The story of what they saw is so amazing, that it is not surprising that over two thousand years later, people are still enthralled by it.
To say that this was a life changing event would be a huge understatement. However, I did not shed my clothes and run around the streets shouting Eureka! But, subtly, every day, I thought in new ways about everything and everyone, wondering what I really believed was going on in this life.