THE THEOLOGY OF THE MIND
a Return to Sanity in Religion
"As a man thinketh, so is he --" Solomon Paraphrased.
by Dr. Bob Holt, MD March 11, 2014
The English word VISION can mean many things, some of them real and some of them imaginary, but for the purposes of this lecture I will concentrate on two major meanings which I will define as follows:
1- A CLEAR VIEW of things as they are in the real world in which we live and breathe and work and reproduce and eventually die after we hopefully make our mark upon this real world that will be helpful to our children and others living on in this real world. This CLEAR VIEW began to be seen by most of us as babies within days after we first opened our eyes, and our baby brains began to function as designed to function by either an original Creator God or by Evolution, or by both. Over a time-span of many years, we each learned to interpret what our eyes saw and our brains processed in ways that allowed us to continue living with varying degrees of success. This success was greatly helped or hindered by the people who taught us or attempted to teach us.
2- A MORE SYMBOLIC or FANTASTIC VIEW of things as they may or MAY NOT BE in the real world in which we actually live, which may occur in our sleep in a dream or while we are awake but ignoring what our eyes are actually seeing. Most children learn to do this early on in their lives in a process we call “day-dreaming”, and modern toy-makers and publishers of computer software capitalize handsomely by selling modern games that have become addictive to even adults, and sometimes prevent these adults from earning a living or achieving much success along the lines that others can achieve.
These GAME VISIONS can indeed threaten the survival of both individuals and
societies if acted upon in ways that are inappropriate or unrealistic.
THE GOAL of this and the following lectures in this SEMINAR is not to declare the second of these two types of Vision to be totally bad, evil, or counterproductive, but to allow those who have unwittingly lost control of their lives to unscrupulous individuals both past and present to regain control of their lives and futures if they indeed wish to do so. Indeed, I am an advocate of a balance between both types of visions, and try to utilize both in ways that forward progress towards my life goals.
A third type of Vision, or perhaps it can be better described as a sub-type of the second type of Vision, is the type of Fantasy Experience that we all achieve while watching realistic movies, television shows, and computer generated Games. None of these were possible until rather recently. I can remember, and some of my hearers can remember when color television became cheap enough and common enough that it could be assumed that most people had watched color movies of the Hollywood type in their own homes. That was long enough ago that whole generations have grown up that can hardly imagine what it was like not to have a television blaring in their living room, bedroom, and sometimes even their kitchen. Now it’s computer games, play-stations, cell-phones, and the latest i-phones and tablets. We can now be enveloped in a Fantasy World during as much of our waking hours as we desire.
I’m proposing in this lecture that a first-century CE group of Religious Monks or Holy Men called the ESSENES understood our minds and human nature well enough to plan ahead for 2000 years, and provide us with a VISION (second meaning) that made CHRISTIANITY the major controlling force of this period of time in the Western World. I’ll attempt to show you that, although Saul of Tarsus seems to be the painter of this picture, the architect of what is sometimes called by Religious Critics the Pauline Gospel, he was manipulated by other ESSENES with a far greater understanding of what they were doing than is apparent from the surface story told in Bible Acts. Two of these ESSENES were Jesus Christ and another ESSENE Teacher sometimes call Ananias.
Saul of Tarsus is introduced to Bible Readers in Acts chapter 9, which we will discuss in a few moments, and is said in that chapter to have been blinded by a light from heaven, and heard a voice talking to him out of this light. He interpreted this voice as being the voice of the by then dead but resurrected Jesus, who had ascended to heaven by then, even before the Feast of Pentecost in the year he was crucified, and was thought to be sitting on the right hand of God. Now, years later, other people walking or riding horseback with Saul heard the same voice, but did not see Jesus, as apparently Saul did. Jesus, in this vision to Saul changed his mind, and redirected his course of action, and Saul became the Apostle Paul, the 13th Apostle, the Apostle to the Gentiles. And conveyed this vision of a Crucified Son of God to the rest of us.
The Apostle Paul preached this new Vision he had of Christ (vision in the second or perhaps third sense I have defined before) to the Gentile world of his day, but not in a significant way, in Judea and in Jerusalem, leaving this area to two other Apostles of Jesus, Peter and John, who, since the Feast of Pentecost in the year Christ had been crucified, had been converting lots of Jews to believe that Christ was the Son of God.
By the middle of Acts chapter 9, Paul is now preaching the same thing to Gentiles in Damascus. Acts 9:19, 20 “Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were in Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
An educated man, capable of preaching in fluent Greek as well as the Aramaic of the common people, Saul, as Paul, soon simplified his message to the Gentiles to be that of a God allowing his own Son to be crucified as a Sacrificial Lamb, so that everyone, including Gentiles, could be saved from the results of their sinful lives, and live eternal lives instead of being tormented in Hades or Hell as the Gentiles believed. Believers in Christ would live, like the Greek and Roman gods in heaven, the home of the gods, forever and ever and ever. It was a good message, and inviting message, and all us Gentiles, or at least a significant number of us Gentiles have bought into it, subscribed to it, and believe it to be absolutely true and certain.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Did Paul teach that we must follow the teachings of Christ? Not really. Others may have done that, but not Paul. Did Paul teach any of Jesus’ parables? Not really. Did Paul teach the prophecies of Jesus, such as the long Olivet prophecy of Matthew 24? Doesn’t even mention it! Did Paul preach that Jesus was coming again? He mentions it, but it’s a long ways off, and its relatively unimportant. But Jesus crucified? By far the most important thing that Paul can teach you, and that Christ’s death is a sufficient payment to a wrathful God, the Judge of all the Universe, so that if you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior you can and will live on and on throughout eternity like God and the angels. Period. Enough said. Paul’s Vision of Christ. All you need to know and believe in.
In the winter of 1987 I trained to become an actor in the Worthy is the Lamb Passion Play scheduled to be put on in the newly refurbished Crystal Coast Amphitheatre at Cape Carteret, on the coast of North Carolina not far from Jacksonville, where the Marine base Camp LaJeune is located. I was an Emergency Room Physician in the Onslow Memorial Hospital, where we saw a lot of marines on the weekend. The hospital needed more doctors to take care of weekend traffic, and I was one of those extra doctors. Although I lived several counties away, and quite a few miles from the Carolina Coast, I could spend time there learning my part in the Passion Play and realistically schedule time in the summer of 1988 to actually participate in this play – written and directed by J. T. Adams and his wife. Adams had put on this very same play in Texas before producing and directing it at the Crystal Coast amphitheatre. The Play was titled Worthy is the Lamb, and it was, as has been done so many times before in the 2000 years since Christ died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead, a depiction of these events, and of the Apostle Paul’s Vision of Christ, the vision that Paul evidently first saw clearly on the road to Damascus and in the weeks following that event. As a member of the cast of Worthy is the Lamb I had in my possession audio recordings of this play and you’ll now hear some of these recordings of the passion play version of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(Worthy is the Lamb – crucifixion and resurrection)
The ESSENES, whose leaders and prophets are responsible for the doctrines, practices, rituals, and prophecies being practiced and promoted during the time when Jesus and Peter and Paul lived, allowed them to promote a specialized form of ESSENISM to be later called Christianity to the Gentiles of the Roman Empire, knowing this form of ESSENISM to be a “delusion”. We need to now define a “delusion” as being a specialized type of the second type of “vision” I defined above. This type being malevolent or unethical in that it is based on lies or distorted facts, not the truth, and is designed to cause its hearers and followers to go places and do things they would almost certainly not go or do if they had not been caused to believe these lies, and perceive the world in a way that is delusional. When the process of fooling these people is complete the followers themselves can be called delusional and are living in a fantasy world that may, and often does, bear little resemblance to the real world in which we, as human beings, are born, and are expected to live and function appropriately. The “Pauline Gospel” was seen by the other Essenes as a means to create among Paul’s Gentile converts such a fantasy world. And Paul himself warned the other Essenes not to fall into the trap of believing what he and Peter were teaching as being the truth because he knew he was intentionally promoting lies.
"Promoting lies” is to my religious listeners a harsh accusation, so I’ll soften it here by saying that “promoting fantasies” might be more accurate, or “creating a fictional world” might be even less threatening a terminology. Or even more modern, we might say that Paul was like a very clever writer of computer software that allowed a lot of potential game players to play exactly the type of game a lot of them wanted to play. The analogy with game-playing of the modern type still applies in that modern children, teen-agers, and adults can and do choose to play these games, and willingly place themselves in the fantasy world of their choice. Usually knowing the price they will pay for this opportunity, and the reward they will enjoy for playing well, and taking into account, sometimes at least, the lost time, and loss of opportunity to do other things with the time or money spent.
In the specialized case of the “Pauline Gospel” usually whole lives are devoted to playing the game, and the reward offered is “Eternal Life”, which is supposed to more than compensate for losing much or all of the life lost by playing this game, and this “Eternal Life” will be lived in “Heaven” a place imagined to be a lot better than that life the players are turning their backs on here and now.
Having now defined what I am talking about, I’ll turn to the Bible, which the Essenes have heavily edited, and try to prove from the Bible what I have just said, and by doing so give those of my hearers who wish to do so, a chance to look at their priorities, and make appropriate adjustments. I’ll start with Paul’s own vision on the Road to Damascus, a “Vision of Christ”, described in Acts 9:1 23.
Acts 9:1 “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” (Here is one of the relatively few texts in the book of Acts that definitely and unequivocally connects the “disciples of the Lord” with the group called “the way”, which was one of several names for the large religious group of Jews Josephus identifies as ESSENES in his histories, and Pliny the Elder calls Hessenes in his encyclopedia. Very important, since it is evidence Saul, later to be known as Paul, was an Essene both before and after his “Vision of Jesus”.
3 “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus:---“ (trotting horse)(whinnying of horse) -- “and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: (space sound) 4 “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
5 “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (This is generally interpreted to mean that Saul’s conscience was bothering him while he was persecuting Jesus’ followers.)
6 “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
7 “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”
(So far this story bears a marked resemblance to more modern stories involving a teen-age French girl named Bernadette in Lourdes, France, and a group of Portuguese shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, and about the same time, in 1844, a Millerite teen-ager named Ellen Harmon in Vermont and Maine, USA. These are all apparition stories.
An apparition is a type of ghost. A three-dimensional image of a person or shape that is not a real person but is caused to appear by some type of technology or angel, god, or demon to fool human beings into believing they are seeing and talking to a real person,
beast, or image when nothing like they’re seeing is actually there where they are looking. In modern times we are able to construct such apparitions ourselves using lights and projected images in certain types of protected places or environments. They are like mirages one might see while driving down hot desert roads, where an otherwise invisible layer of air acts like a screen on which pictures of water or vegetation appear in our minds. Definitely visions of the second type, but visions manipulated by someone or something that knows what they are doing and has a definite agenda in mind for those seeing these apparitions.
In Saul’s story, as narrated by Luke, the author of this Bible book, Saul and his companions, presumably on horseback, are seeing apparitions and visions and hearing audible voices telling them what to do – visions of the type that fit my second initial definition. But Saul’s story in Acts is not yet over, and someone else named Ananias receives a vision of his own without being blinded as apparently Saul was initially blinded by this unexpected “light from heaven” followed by hearing the “voice of Jesus”.
10 “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.”
11 “And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go unto the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for behold,
he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”
13 “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.”
15 “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
17 “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou comest,—(here’s that ESSENE – specific terminology “the way” used here again to show that Ananias was an Essene also, as were Jesus and Saul) –“has sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat (partook of the ESSENE “Holy Meal” of bread and wine with the other Damascus Essenes), he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were in Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
The story I have just related, quoting directly from the Bible, is well-known as the story of the CONVERSION of Saul or “Paul”, and it is generally assumed that Saul did see a “vision” or “apparition” of Jesus Christ, which caused him to completely change his religious beliefs and he thereafter became a promoter of Christianity, not Judaism, and indeed became the major Theologian of what became known as the Pauline Gospel. According to this view, the Vision of Christ the Christian Church today is presenting to the entire world is the Apparition Vision of Christ Paul received as a miracle on the Road to Damascus. Indeed it is commonly believed and preached that the Apostle Paul never really met in person the Real Jesus Christ, the man who was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, and who walked the dusty roads of Palestine for over thirty years. And who told certain parables and is responsible for certain sayings recorded in the four gospels. Paul’s Jesus is in some important ways different from the Jesus of the four gospels, and I will show in this seminar that Paul’s Jesus is not REAL and never was REAL, and is, in fact, a delusion.
However, the ESSENES, who are the ones responsible for this story in Acts 9:1-20, were a very clever bunch of Radical Holy Men of the first century CE, as I have said, already, and Luke, the author of the Biblical Book Acts, was one of their major writers, and he knew how to carefully construct stories on two levels. A surface level that can be read as historical and true to events as they actually happened, although unusual and miraculous and magical. But this surface level is contrived and dishonest and to put it plainly, a lie. Luke is intending to delude his readers on this level, to cause them to believe a delusion. In this case the delusion is that Saul on the way to Damascus saw an apparition of Jesus Christ. Modern critics, accepting Luke’s account at face value, explain away the details of what Luke’s Saul saw as being a product of Saul’s own imagination, and therefore Saul’s Vision of Christ is imaginary, and Saul, as Paul, gets credit for inventing this Jesus, and building his theology on this invention.
Christian Theologians outside this critical group of scholars accept that this was a real apparition however, (this being of course an oxymoron) and that this real apparition taught Paul to accept the Vision of Christ as the REAL CHRIST he should present to the world, and subsequently did present to the world. The Christ that Christians now all accept as being the REAL CHRIST.
However, in this seminar I will teach you the possibility of an alternative view. That Saul who became the Apostle Paul not only met the real Jesus Christ of history, the man born in Bethlehem (actually Qumran near Bethlehem), walked the desert roads between Jerusalem and Qumran near Bethlehem, and that in this story told by Luke in chapter 9 Jesus as a real human not an apparition was indeed speaking to Saul, person to person, and convincing him to change his Essene theology to another form of Essene theology to later be labeled Christianity. This real story is there in the text, but in a hidden form, which must be looked for and dissected out, like a medical student learns to dissect a cadaver in medical school to become a real doctor licensed to practice medicine on the rest of us. We have been taught Paul’s conversion by amateurs all these years. Now it’s time to listen to a professional!
Before I can do this, however, if I am to have an audience that is inclined to listen to me at all, I must first convince all or most of you that there was indeed group of religious Jews in the First Century CE who were labeled as ESSENES by Josephus and Hessenes by Pliny, and at least some of you that Jesus, and Peter, and later Paul belonged to this group. This will be quite difficult for those of you who have depended for your religious education and teaching on ordinary conventional priests and ministers of all denominations, because they have all stone-walled, covered up by an almost complete wall of silence and denial, that Essenes ever existed, or supposing that they might have existed, that Jesus ever met or listened to any of them. Or failing at this point, each will insist that in any case, if Essenes did exist and if Jesus listened to anything they had to say at all, this has nothing to do with Christianity, and therefore nothing at all to do with your salvation through your belief in Jesus Christ.
A Select Group of Listeners
We live in modern times, not the Dark or Middle Ages, and some of you have learned to adapt to the idea that there is a vast world out there outside your home, your street, and your city, and you have been even farther away than the capital of your county and your state. Even some of those who have never ridden on an airplane believe that airplanes exist, and that it is possible to get on one and arrive in an airport in a far-off destination, such as New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo, Japan, London, England, or Biijing, China. Even though none of these places are mentioned in the Bible.
Some of you watched the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and had no problem with believing that these things were happening on the other side of a round or spherical world, even though the world of the Bible was thought to rest on pillars (1 Samuel 2:8, Job 9:6) and the Bible sky was held up by other pillars (Job 26:11). Isaiah obviously believed the Earth had four corners (Isa. 11:12) but did not say God had shown him that this was absolutely true. But John, in Revelation saw angels standing on the four corners of the earth (Revelation 7:1), holding the four winds of the earth, “that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” Not a problem, since the world back then was flat, hampering sea navigation up until the time of Columbus, because Bible-believing sailors were fearful they might sail over one of the edges and be lost forever. The Bible back in the Middle Ages was generally thought to be inerrant and is still believed to be inerrant (incapable of having any errors of any sort) even today by a vast number of people, even though both insects and birds are said to have four legs, instead of two legs for birds and six for insects in Leviticus 11:20, 21.
“All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.” (Good advice, who’d eat a four-legged chicken?) Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.” (Not to worry, since almost all insects have six feet, you insect-eaters have a lot to choose from without facing the Rabbi’s disapproval. Except those Rabbis that can’t count! Some of which obviously wrote the Book of Leviticus!)
Whenever I mentioned the Essenes to my friend and co-worker Pentecostal Bishop Eulis Jack Cates, he would say – “Show me the world “Essene” in the Bible, and I’ll believe that they existed.” He could have also said, using the same reasoning, “Show me the text that says Jesus talked to Essenes, learned from Essenes, and preached Essene sermons, and I’ll believe that it’s possible he did that.” This is unlikely since the word does not appear in Strong’s concordance, but the proper explanation is most probably that the Essenes, a very large group according to both Josephus and Pliny, never called themselves by that name, even in their own literature.
After over 50 years of playing along with this game of denial on the part of almost all priests and ministers, the 1993 Oxford Bible Companion, about as good an authority as one can find has this to say about the Essenes on page 393.
“Essenes. Largely due to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, the best known group from ancient sources is the Essenes. (There you go – from not known at all, from total denial, to “best known” ) . The identification of the Qumran community with Essenes is not found in the Scrolls; rather, the impressive agreement of the evidence in the scrolls with that of the other key sources for Essenes (the Roman geographer Pliny the Elder, Philo, and Josephus) makes highly probable the identification of the Qumran community as Essenes. Still, discrepancies remain and the portrait that emerges is far from complete. Both Philo and Josephus number the Essenes at more than four thousand and say that Essene communities were found throughout Palestine. Pliny locates a major settlement of the Essenes on the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, between Jericho and En-gedi, which all but names the site at Qumran. That site could accommodate about two hundred members at any one time; the majority of Essenes must have lived elsewhere. Both the Scrolls and Josephus seem to provide for two orders of Essenes: celibate men and those who married and had families. It is presumed that Qumran was a celibate community of Essenes and may have served as a center for Essenes from other locations – though the evidence does not rule out other interpretations. The history of the group is only imprecisely known. The Essenes may have originated in the early second century BCE. Even though the Qumran site was destroyed in the war against Rome, because the majority of Essenes lived at other settlements it is not impossible that the group persisted after 70 CE, though evidence to support their survival is hard to find.
Both the Qumran community and the other Essene groups were tightly organized. Those living outside of Qumran offered hospitality to other members, and in general the Essenes studiously avoided contact with outsiders. The penalties were severe for those who violated the rules and purity regulations of the community and for those who denigrated the community in any way. The Essenes were hierarchically organized according to seniority, standing within the community, and “perfection of spirit,” with priests at the top. Admission to the group entailed a graduated process over two or three years, which was carefully regulated; there was also provision for expulsion. Full membership involved some form of communal property (even though there appears to have been some private ownership allowed), as well as communal meals and communal funds. The Essenes rigorously kept the Sabbath. The evidence concerning the attitude of the Essenes toward animal sacrifice and Temple worship is confusing. Possible interpretations include: there were times in the history of the group when they sent offerings to the Temple and times when they did not; or, the Qumran community dissented from the official Temple ritual, whereas the other Essene communities did not. Among their beliefs were theological determinism, present participation in “eternal life” as well as one which extended beyond the grave, and the notion of a final and universal conflagration.”
My friend Linda Preston, noting that her Pastor at the Beverly Hills Baptist Church never mentioned the Essenes that I was talking about quite often, finally came to believe that there were indeed Essenes, and that Jesus could hardly have avoided them, when she discovered on the map of Jerusalem in her King James Bible, that the Essene Gate and the Essene Quarter are plainly labeled next to the Temple on that side of Jerusalem facing the Kidron valley and the Mount of Olives. Evidently the Garden of Gethsemane was a common gathering area for Essenes in Jesus’ time.
The Damascus Covenant
Obviously, all these priests and ministers of the Gospel who appear to know little or nothing about the Essenes are in this condition of willing ignorance because they prefer to be. If they really know what Jesus himself believed and practiced some might feel it necessary to compare what they are preaching to the actual beliefs of the Essenes, and only Seventh-day Adventists would come close. And what a sad day that might be for all those others paid their salaries by other denominations, and told what they can and cannot preach to congregations quite comfortable with doctrines carved in stone long before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves not far from Qumran.
But to those of us whose livelihood and prospects for a comfortable retirement does not depend on keeping quiet about the Essenes, the Biblical Story of Paul’s conversion on the outskirts of Damascus rings a bell. Among the places where there were large Essene communities outside Qumran and the Essene Quarter of Jerusalem, Damascus is one of the best known. This because of the Dead Sea Scroll called the Damascus Covenant.
The Oxford Bible Companion also discusses the Damascus Covenant briefly in its large section on the Dead Sea Scrolls on page 159 (second column). “The sectarian compositions found in Qumran reflect a secretive community about whose life much is still unknown. The main information is found in the so-called Manual of Discipline (in Hebrew, “The Rule of the Community”), detailing the daily life, behavior, and hierarchy of the sect. The principle source for the history of the community is a letter supposedly written by its leader, the “Teacher of Righteousness,” to the priests of Jerusalem, outlining points of difference between both groups (4QMMT). Other details can be learned from the Damascus Covenant, which tells about the beginning of the sect’s existence, and from pesherim. The special laws of the community are outlined in the Damascus Covenant and in smaller legal collections.” The Oxford Companion to the Bible does’t quote the Damascus Covenanant more extensively, having a lot more material to cover, but this passage I have just quoted is sufficient to indicate that the authors attach a lot of significance to this Dead Sea Scroll, and we can safely assume there was an Essene community in Damascus, and what they wrote was important, and it’s not foolish or insane for me and others before me to assume that Saul of Tarsus was an Essene and was on his way to reason with other Essenes at Damascus who were involved in what to him was a dangerous course of action. To listen to and follow an Essene “Messiah” named Jesus, even though he had been crucified and was supposedly safely dead and buried and safely in some grave somewhere no longer able to lead his fellow Essenes astray with new ideas and doctrines not approved by Essene high priests and their authorized messenger and perhaps executioner, Saul of Tarsus.
The story told in Acts 9:1,2 makes perfect sense in the framework of an episode in Essene politics involving only the execution of Essene religious decisions of a hierical type to be carried out against other Essenes flouting the authority of their overseers in Jerusalem. The Oxford Bible Companion describes such a hiercchy headed by “priests” and also mentions the power of this priestly hierarchy to expel people in their organization for any infringement of their rules. Outside this framework it’s a pretty improbable story. That Jewish priests in Jerusalem could order, by letters carried by Saul, ordinary Roman citizens to be seized, chastised, and supposedly even executed, seems so unlikely as to appear even ludicrous. So now lets turn to the explanation of Dr. Barbara Thiering PhD, whose opinions are studiously ignored by those scholars who support the idea that Jesus was so “out of it”, and so utterly filled with his own “Gospel” given him directly from God, that he paid absolutely no attention to the Essenes around him everywhere he went. In her controversial 1992 book Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, on page 132.
“Between Jerusalem and Damascus, a young man called Saul often had occasion to travel. He was a fervent nationalist who thought Gentiles should be kept in a very low status (in the Essene hierarchy), as being far inferior to Jews. The sympathy shown to Gentiles by the high priest Jonathan Annas-Stephen was regarded by him as weakness, while Jesus, the bastard brother of James, was simply a renegade, a traitor to his nation, treating Gentiles as if they were as good as Jews. One day, Saul vowed he would rid the mission of such compromisers, ensuring that only the purest form of Judaism was taught. Only then would come the day, promised by God through prophecy, when the Romans would be wiped off the face of the earth and the Jewish world empire would prevail.”
Acts 9:1 “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues (Essene meeting places), that if he found of this way, whether they were men or women (the Damascus Covenant allowed married Essenes), he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”
And then it happened. Paul’s Vision of the Christ. The Crucified Son of God who would be able to change the world for 2000 years. The Christ on which the Catholic Dogma of the Divine Trinity would be built in 325 AD at Nicaea in France. The Christ on which the Ultimate Religious Vision of the 21st century is also based, the Vision of the Returning Trinitarian Christ is also based. Able and willing to destroy this present world, and create a completely New Earth. In which dwell only his disciples and their converts. Living on in perfect bliss and harmony and love forever and ever."
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7
3 "Let no man DECEIVE YOU by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that MAN of SIN be revealed, the son of perdition;--"
4 "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
5 "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"
6 "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time."
7 "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."
8 "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:--"
9 "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,"
10 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
11 "And for this cause God shall send them STRONG DELUSION, that they should believe a lie:--"
12 "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO CALL SEXUALLY MOLESTING CHILDREN A SIN OTHER THAN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST ON EARTH? THE HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, WHOSE FIRST POPE PETER HAS THE KEYS
TO HEAVEN AND HELL?
SPECIFIC LIES AND DELUSIONS
As can we also, if we chose to do so! And we need not discard the Bible to follow this ALTERATIVE Religion, because it also is taught in the Bible!
We can be FREE to THINK, and CHOOSE what we wish to become - following the MOTTO or Proverb --
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Theology of the Mind