As I have mentioned, there was a reason that I have been slightly incommunicado for the last couple of weeks. I have been doing a lot of reading and then expanded this to actually reading the Bible -King James Version. A few reasons really, some listed below:
1) I have never read it all, only those bits covered in 5 years of Religious Education at school, which seemingly didn’t really amount to much.
2) After reading 11 books in a series about a lady vicar in Herefordshire, it helped fill in the gaps.
3) Similarly, admiring all the elaborate frescoes in Italian churches depicting scenes from such, it gives you some context.
4) On that basis I was curious to know more about John the Baptist, who (apart from Caravaggio’s romanticised portrait of him in his youth, comes across as a social outcast, a cross between a goat-herder and a modern day hippy.
5) Know thine enemy!
6) I had nothing particularly better to do.
So in context then, this is me according to, I believe, Rafael in one of the chapels in the Vatican, where the walls and ceiling frescoes are dedicated to Christianity overcoming the heathens:
So, with nothing but time, I read from cover to cover, well almost, there were a few bits that I skipped through; Numbers, I think, where it lists the genealogy of the peoples of Israel; Psalms, as they were just different prayers and songs in how to worship or show appreciation; Some of the repetitive bits in Paul’s letters to Romans, Greeks and the like.
So being of the inquisitive persuasion, also non-prejudiced as best I can after consistently being on the receiving end of hard line religion for being gay, though I do think Popey has said something favourable recently and I have missed it. I present my observations of the book and please feel free to correct and or inform as to my misgivings, coming at present from a Pagan point of view.
a) The Adam and Eve argument. God created man and woman on day six after populating the earth with all the animals and everything else and gave dominion of such to man. He then took a day off on day seven, the Sabbath, and then the following week created his garden of Eden that contained basically one of everything that was good to look at and included the Tree of Knowledge, the one with the Apple. He then created Adam, referred to later as his first son, out of the dust of the land specifically to tend to Eden. Finding that actually there was no-one to tend to Adam, he then created Eve. This is totally separate to the Rest of the World. So man already exists outside of Eden and therefore outside of the whole Adam and Eve arguments. When then the whole Apple thing happened and off they went outside of Eden, this lineage became the Israelites, but also the lineage of the different tribes of Israel, as in Canaanites. So in fact the Rest of the World is still going on outside of the Old Testament.
b) My understanding is that the Jewish religion don’t accept Jesus as the Son of God but as a priest (Hebrews) and so therefore follow the Old Testament. If they did this then to the word of God, where in heaven do they get all their animals from to sacrifice? And more importantly where are they doing it? The word says they should be doing all the blood-letting on the altar and then smoking the meat on it, either ox, lamb, goat, pigeon or turtle dove. This is their only way of relinquishing their sins if they don’t believe Jesus took them away. I don’t see any of this happening so how have they resolved themselves in modern day? If they can ‘bend the rules’ to accommodate this, how do they justify? What would they have done in the foot and mouth era?
c) No-one can go before an altar with any physical blemish, yet there isn’t a Jesus outside to fix them before going in. Anyone that has any blemish, i.e. any physical or mental disability is unclean before the sight of God (well I am already on the back foot there!).
d) How does a house get leprosy?
e) Adultery. This one I found quite interesting with a touch of hypocrisy. Though shalt not commit adultery, as in a man can’t sleep with another man’s wife. You can however take as many wives as you like, I think it was David who had 600 wives. Not only the wives, but if your wife has a handmaiden you get to have her too. I think Moses’ lineage included children from handmaidens as well as wives. So as long as you don’t sleep with another man’s ‘property’ as it were, as the taking of a wife means taking charge or responsibility of her and handmaidens etc, you are pretty much able to do as you please. Unless you are the wife or the handmaiden.
f) This brings me on to David of David and Goliath fame, he of Michelangelo’s subject, and the subject of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ Christmas Carol. David went on to be one of the greatest Kings of Israel, the city being Jerusalem and he accomplished quite a lot in his lifetime, not least evading his father-in-law’s many attempts to kill him. So of this great man of the Bible and therefore the whole Christian based religion, why is it never mentioned the fact that he was actually in love with his brother-in-law Jonathan? Numerous times their relationship is mentioned, the fact that they were of one soul, a way in which the Bible also relates to man and wife, saying that the one-soul business equates responsibility between the two as they are inseparable. It also states later after Jonathan’s death that the love between them was ‘more than that of a woman’ (perhaps this is why he had so many wives that he was over-compensating).
g) Wealth will not get you in to heaven so what is it with all these reliquaries laden with gold, silver and precious stones encapsulating the remains, or bits of, stuck in churches? Isn’t that emphasising the wealth? Also, on the point of dead bits, Jesus quite emphatically states that dead is dead, and his father is the God of the living, so don’t go on about it. They aren’t really dead anyhow, cos they are all going to be resurrected when he comes back, so there doesn’t really seem a point of covering them in gold and sticking them in a church which is then going to just send them to hell for being rich anyway.
h) The Old Testament is over two thirds of the Bible and coverage of what Jesus actually did was about an eighth of the New Testament, the rest of it was how people went off and did other stuff afterwards. Also after birth, fleeing to Egypt and returning, not a lot was recorded until really the last year of his life, and the majority in the last three months. However, with the ‘water in to wine’ miracle, it was asked of by Mary his Mother, who obviously knew what he could do, by way of Jesus’ reluctance to do it in public as he was ‘not yet come’, which kind of belies the fact that he must have spent the previous 20 years practising at home (David Blaine?).
i) The Book of Revelations. All I read was a list of instructions to the seven churches of Asia, mostly Turkey, by Paul, who was inclined to scare them in to submission by letter based on the fact that he himself was ‘not allowed to go unto Asia’. It then follows a complete load of confusing codswallop that I don’t think anybody that isn’t on LSD could possibly hope to interpret. Even the seven plagues thrust on to Egypt were almost believable, though actually anyone in their right mind would probably have released the Israelites after four. And why didn’t he bring them back to Israel a bit sooner when there was only about 600 of them after he had wiped out the majority for being naughty? Isn’t that Genocide? No similarity between God and Hitler intended – honest!
j) As I said, the New Testament is about three hundred pages long in this version, with Jesus making up about an eighth so how did so many strands of Christian religions pop up, if not to be ‘false prophets’ as discussed by the man himself?
k) Timing in the Bible is quite different, I am not sure but there was possibly ten months in a year? That is to say that a lot of the people in the Old Testament lived to 120 years old or more. If that is the case, and though I didn’t see mentioned anywhere the specifics of Jesus returning in 2000 years time, shouldn’t that then have already happened a couple of hundred years ago or am I just misquoting Chris De Burgh?
l) Black Pudding. It is a mortal sin to eat blood as that is the life of a being and therefore God’s, it having to be spilt on the ground or at the altar. Or I suppose a blue steak or anything raw. Or coneys, which are rabbits according to Tolkien, and anything in the sea that does not have fins AND scales, which to my reckoning includes shellfish and whales, or essentially mammalian.
m) Job. What was all that about? It is referenced later on as the patience of Job, so I assume it was because he had to sit there listening to some guys prattle on about why he should be depressed and want to die and he must have been really, really naughty. But I didn’t read anywhere that he was given an explanation as to why his devoutness had brought on the temptation of the devil to piss him off, thereby justifying his life up to that point, saying ‘there, there. Not your fault’. But more importantly NOT the actions of his God.
n) Idols. Thou shalt not worship false idols, you can only worship me, which none of you have seen (but I made you in my image). What have we been doing then in the churches across the world, building statues and effigies and things to worship at? In the tabernacle, there is only an altar. I understanding paintings and frescoes of the Bible, even if it is just to humanise the book for those that cannot read so they can identify with it, even though the majority of such is emphasising the wrath of God if you don’t do as you are told in the commandments.
o) There were twelve disciples, then eleven after Judas topped himself (and was labelled an anti-christ even though he was actually carrying out God’s work to get Jesus to the cross and therefore die so that he could be resurrected and fulfill the prophecies), but there are only a handful of them that write down what they did after (not even the one that was brought in after to make it back up to twelve). And the majority of it was Paul whittling on about how well his devotees had done (though could do better), not actually recounting much of what Jesus had done or said to back up his words.
I could go on but I am already waffling a bit and I appreciate the length of this post. Those of you with a religious persuasion please feel free to comment and fill me in on the gaps. In the meantime I shall leave you with this image, found in the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian in Rome, where even the guide asked ‘fact or fiction’. Supposedly the footprints of Christ in the sand after he appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus. And everyone who knows me, knows how I feel about THAT ‘Footprints in the Sand’ poem…