What did Jesus really teach?
Over the centuries, especially the early ones, his message has been mistranslated, misunderstood, and just plain misrepresented.
But there are 4 ways you can get to the root of Jesus' message.
And when you do, you find that what the Christ really said has a lot less to do with the Christian religion, and a lot more in common with Wicca Spirituality, than you might expect.
Four Ways to the Truth
Other than a time machine, or instant enlightenment (when all that can be known, is known), we have four main ways to excavate what the Christ really taught...
Jesus' Authentic Teachings
These days there is a greatly renewed interest in what the Christ actually taught, as opposed to what the church authorities tell us.
(And judging by the state of the world, none too soon!)
Some Christians object to this kind of study of the Gospels, but many Christians see it as a gift to Christianity.
Far from demeaning the word of Jesus by digging through all the layers of lies, this study liberates the real teachings ... and shows a message that is as powerful and enlightened today as it was 2000 years ago!
This, then, is indeed a timeless and universal faith.
If you want to know what Jesus really taught , and what Christianity would be like if it actually followed the Christ rather than Paul and the Roman Emperor, check out The Jesus Sayings: A Quest for His Authentic Message, by Rex Weyler.
This is a wonderful and highly inspirational book.
One of the best parts, in my opinion, is the appendix in The Jesus Sayings that offers different versions of his teachings, according to different groups of scholars.
All those are very different from what modern orthodox Christianity teaches. (No problem... modern orthodox Christianity is very different from the first centuries after Christ, too.)
Still, most have common themes. And these have much to offer any spiritual seeker.
The Direct Translations
It has been said that the Bible is the most-bought -- yet least-read -- book, ever.
Surprisingly few people actually read the Bible for themselves, and even fewer read the entire book.
Part of the reason is undoubtedly that it’s not an easy read. Much of the message is obscured through grandiose language. And it's more like poetry than prose -- evocative, symbolic stories that must be savoured to be understood.
Yet, often, the "conversational-style" translations of the Bible are misleading, since they convert already-mistranslated material into current idiom. Every translator knows that with each translation, you lose something of the meaning.
It's really eye-opening to read a translation the original Greek, directly into modern English!
Suddenly the teachings of Jesus become a lot more clear, and more accurate, than in books translated ...
from Greek...Every translation alters the meaning, as anyone who speaks more than one language knows. It's like the children's game of Telephone. You whisper something into someone's ear, who whispers it to someone else, and it passes along the line.to Latin...to Old English...to Modern English.
Even with the best of intentions, by the time it gets to the last listener, the message is so distorted it may bear no resemblance to the original at all.
Probably the best resource for a clear translation is The Unvarnished New Testament by Andy Gaus.
Gaus' translations use not only the original language, but earnestly avoids oversimplifying and using standard Christian concepts in place of the actual original word.
This kind of direct translation clears up a lot of the confusion and inconsistency we find in the Gospels.
In this way, the true teachings of Jesus are lifted from the weight of misunderstanding that has nearly buried them.
For instance, in translating the Greek word hamartia, Gaus stays close to the original meaning from archery, "missing the mark." Essentially, "sin" doesn't mean a flaw in your being nor a crime against God.
To sin is to "make a mistake."
This book entirely changed how I thought of Jesus and his teachings! It was here that I really began to recognise the wisdom buried in the Gospels.
There is some debate over the validity of this text, since it's unclear what source material Gaus used. Nonetheless, even the critics agree that it is refreshingly easy to read and for the most part, conveys the message much closer to the spirit in which it was written.
The Lost Gospels
Another resource every Christian needs to read, if they want to find the Christ's actual teaching, is the Gnostic Gospels.
The Nag Hammadi Library is the most well-known and most important of the Gnostic Gospels. It includes the most important contributions to the Good News (in my opinion): the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary.
The Nag Hammadi Gospels, forbidden by the self-appointed church leaders, were buried for centuries, to protect them from the mass book-burnings instigated by the Church. Thus they were spared the extensive doctoring that the other Gospels went through, as religious doctrine and political need dictated.
The Gospel of Thomas appears to be written by Jesus' brother, who was his designated successor. It seems to be much closer to the original teachings than any of the 4 sanctioned gospels.
It is also recognised by scholars as a major source document of three of the orthodox gospels -- the Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
And the Gospel of Mary -- Jesus' most spiritually-advanced disciple -- gives an unmatched depth of spiritual insight and inspiration. As well as bringing back the feminine voice of Jesus' teachings, which the Church has so completely bleached away.
Uncover The Esoteric Teachings
The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light, by Tom Harpur, has been mentioned many times already in these articles. It's a foundation for a deep, spiritual understanding of what Jesus was teaching.
The Pagan Christ declares that any historical facts, if they even exist, are entirely beside the point. The Bible isn't history; it's mythology ... in the deepest sense of the word ...
... the essential ability of myths to change states of consciousness and to impart sublime truths accessible in no other way. ...Reading the teachings of Christ in the context of spiritual enlightenment, as The Pagan Christ offers, elevates what has often been a base superstition to its true potential as a path to the Divine.
Live the Truth
Whether you're a Wiccan interested in other spiritual traditions, a Christian seeking a deeper level of spirituality, or a Christian Witch aiming to meld the two paths into one, it is vital and enlightening to discover for yourself the real Christ behind all the fiction.
All four channels of study are, I believe, crucial to anyone who wishes to know what Jesus really taught, and what true Christianity is really about.
But reading is only the first part.
The next step, the crucial one, is to live what you know.
And that's no more than what Jesus himself has said.
Sharing the good stuff with other seekers is a way of paying it forward. Thanks so much! :-) a
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