6 September 2001
OOR JESUS EN SY VOLGELINGE ...
“In a little hilltop village they gambled for my clothes...”
Daar was eens baie Jode in Yeoville in Johannesburg woonagtig. Die meeste van hulle het koers gekies. Een sinagoge is oorgeneem deur die Ethiopiese Kerk, ’n ander een het ’n kleuterskool geword; die ander staan leeg. Soms sien mens nog op ’n Saterdagoggend ’n paar Joodse omies in hulle swart pakke en hoedens loop. Op die hoek by die swembad het ’n swart ou eenkeer gesing “Here comes the men in black,” maar die omies met die lang baarde het nie links of regs gekyk nie.
Mens kan steeds slapbandboeke (meestal gemors) by die straatmark koop, maar Yeoville se stuk of vier boekwinkels het almal hulle deure gesluit. Ten minste twee van die boekwinkels se eienaars was Joods. Die een boekwinkel het ’n uitverkoping gehou, en daarna die oorblywende boeke in ’n stapel op die vloer gelos sodat mense verniet daarvan kon neem. My seun het met een van die gratis boeke by die huis aangekom, en ek het daardeur begin blaai. Dis geskryf deur die Jood Max I Dimont, en in 1962 deur Signet uitgegee, en het baie herdrukke beleef. Dimont is in Finland geskool, maar het later na Amerika verhuis.
Die boek se titel is Jews, God and History, en dit probeer die 4000-jaaroue geskiedenis van die Jode weergee. Dit begin met Tera, die vader van Abram, wat met sy familie wegtrek uit Ur van die Chaldeërs (in die destydse Babilonië) na Haran (vandag deel van Turkye). Tera het op 250-jarige ouderdom gesterf. Daarna het God aan Abram verskyn en ’n verbond met hom aangegaan en hom belowe dat die land tussen die rivier van Egipte en die Eufraatrivier aan hom en sy nageslag sou behoort. Die Here het Abram se naam verander na Abraham en die besnydenis ingestel.
Die boek beslaan byna 500 bladsye, en is baie onderhoudend geskryf. Ek besef dat dit waarskynlik eensydig na die Joodse geskiedenis kyk. Maar waarby ek eintlik wil uitkom, is die manier waarop Jesus in hierdie boek uitgebeeld word. Verskoon as ek in Engels uit die boek aanhaal. Ek sal graag kommentaar daarop wil hoor. (Ek sê nie alles wat Dimont in sy boek geskryf het is die waarheid nie, maar ek wil dit gebruik om mites rondom Jesus te bevraagteken. En om veral die rol wat Paulus gespeel het om die Christelike kerk te versprei te bevraagteken, toe hy klaarblyklik Jesus se leer verdraai het.)
Hierdie brief is omtrent 4 600 woorde lank, maar dit lees maklik, ek belowe :-) ... lees asseblief tot aan die einde.
Volgens die boek wys die Dooie See-Rolle, wat in 1947 ontdek is, dat ‘Christianity‘ minstens 200 jaar voor Jesus se geboorte reeds bestaan het. Jesus was its greatest and noblest spokesman, not its originator. Alles dui daarop dat Jesus vir jare in ’n Esseense klooster onderrig is. "What astounded scholars was the incredible resemblance of Essene Judaism as revealed in the Dead Sea Scrolls to early Christianity.
In the troubled land of Judea, in the first century AD, bleeding under Rome‘s tyrannical rule, many prophets, preachers, and holy men, representing most of the twenty-four religious sects in the country at the time, went about proclaiming the coming of a messiah who would deliver the Jews from the evil of the Roman yoke. Each sect preached its own brand of salvation, but the most numerous of these itinerant prophets and preachers were the Essenes. History has shown us that the most important of them all was Jesus."
Ek gaan nou lang, ononderbroke stukke uit Jews, God and History aanhaal, maar dis baie interessant, so lees gerus voort (eers oor Jesus, dan oor Paulus):
"Jesus‘ public life as a saviour begins with his baptism. His ministry lasts but one year according to the Synoptic Gospels, and three years according to John, depending on how one interprets the reference to the number of Passovers mentioned in that Gospel.
There was nothing different or un-Jewish in the teachings of Jesus. He was a liberal; he was against all injustice, in the tradition of the Prophets. He taught the observance of the Mosaic law, compassion for the poor, mercy, and tolerance. He spoke in a soft voice and with a loving heart. He was an inspiring teacher who expressed himself in crystal-clear parables. His message went straight to the heart of his listeners. He was an oasis of comfort in a desert of Roman misery. The humble people flocked to him to take solace in his words, to find comfort in his vision, and to take heart in the hope he held out. Nothing he preached, taught or said was in contradiction to what other Jewish prophets, rabbis, or sects said or taught. Jesus was not in danger from the Jews. He was in danger from the Romans, for it was no longer safe to teach justice in a land ruled by terror. Judea was sitting on a powder keg of an incipient rebellion, and the Roman cure was to seize all suspects and flay them alive or crucify them head down.
In the year 33 AD Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the Feast of Passover. Excitement ran high. A rebellion in the provinces had just been quelled. Rumours of another rebellion were rife. People were talking about a new messiah who had arrived in the city on the colt of an ass, in the manner Jewish legend prophesied. To the Romans this talk of a messiah spelled trouble. These messiahs could inflame the people with words quicker than a torch could set fire to paper. Any small incident might incite the Jews to another rebellion. The procurator to Judea, Pontius Pilatus, left his mistress in Caesarea, the administrative capital, to come to Jerusalem. He brought his legionnaires with him, ringing the city with steel.
The messiah the people were talking about was Jesus. This was the political atmosphere into which he stepped when he made his decision to come to Jerusalem. His destination was the Temple. His aim was the reform of some of its practises. From a political viewpoint, he had chosen the worst possible time to hasten Temple reforms.
A point which New Testament readers forget, or are not aware of, is that it was the Prophets who began the reformation of the Temple cult, 800 years before Jesus. In the days of Jesus there existed, side by side, two Judaisms, one the Judaism of temple and sacrifice, the other the Judaism of synagogue and prayer, just as two Christianaties exist side by side today, one Catholic, the other Protestant. Jesus, then, was not the first reformer of the Temple cult. When he appeared on the scene, the reforms instituted by the Prophets were already doing away with the entire Temple cult itself. In this dying Temple cult, Jesus aimed to do away with two practises, the selling of sacrificial animals and the handling of money on Temple grounds.
It was a long-established custom in those days to sell sacrificial doves and pigeons outside the Temple, just as it is the custom to sell candles and crosses inside churches and cathedrals today. As Jewish pilgrims came from many lands to offer their sacrifices in the Temple, it was also a custom for vendors to make change from one currency to another as a service to these pilgrims. Some Sunday-school textbooks hint that there was gambling involved, an understandable elaboration, but this theory is not supported by any of the four Gospels. Jesus objected, not to the making of change, but to the handling of money on Temple grounds, just as he might object to the custom of handling money inside churches and cathedrals today when collection plates or baskets are passed to worshippers.
When Jesus arrived at the Temple, smashing the tables of the vendors and driving the money-changers down the Temple stairs, those Jews who wanted these services were as outraged as Christians would be today if someone were to storm into their churches during Easter services, smash the candles and crosses offered for sale, and drive the gentlemen passing the collection plates down the church steps. Does anyone doubt that such an intruder would be arrested at the orders of the priest or minister? Yet the Jews did not arrest Jesus at this time. They wanted no trouble with the Romans and hoped the incident would be forgotten.
But this hope was not to be realized. News of the commotion in the Temple tensed the Romans. Was this the event that would set off a riot? An uprising? A rebellion? Responsible Jewsh citizens, fully aware of the danger of the slaughter, rapine, and torture which would take place if the Roman legions were unleashed, might have felt that Jesus should be restrained until after Passover, until the excitement had died, until the legionnaires had departed and the semisiege lifted. Cautiously they waited to see what would happen. The adherants of Jesus were now for the first time beginning to speak of him openly as ‘king of the Jews‘ and as ‘the Messiah‘, further arousing the suspicions of the Romans. The Jews, according to the Gospels, arrested Jesus on the third day after his appearance at the Temple.
Twelve eventful hours in the history of mankind took place. The only accounts we have of the twelve hours which followed the arrest of Jesus are contained in the Four Gospels, which were written forty to ninety years after the event itself. Their many contradictions aside, the Gospel accounts essentially say this: Jesus was arrested at night by orders of the Sanhedrin, the highest court in the land, and condemned to death by the Sanhedrin for the crime of blasphemy, or religious corruption, at the palace of the High Priest with the aid of suborned witnesses. The Gospel versions then go on to relate that Pontius Pilate, who had to approve the sentence, did so most reluctantly because he was afraid of the Jewish multitude.
Any person familiar with Jewish judical procedure in Biblical times will find it difficult to take the Gospel accounts literally. According to Jewish law at that time, no one could be arrested at night. It was illegal to hold court proceedings after sundown on the eve or the day of the Sabbath or a festival. The Great Sanhedrin could convene only in the Chamber of Hewn Stones, never in the palace of a High Priest or any other dwelling. Nor could the Sanhedrin initiate an arrest.
A historian familiar with the cruelty and rapacity of Pontius Pilate will find it equally difficult to accept the portrayal of Pilate as a tender and merciful judge, zealous for the welfare of one Jew. In fact, Pilate‘s cruelty and rapacity became so notorious that the Emperor Tiberius had to remove him because he brought dishonour to Rome. It demands too much credulity to think that this Pontius Pilate, a Roman general in command of many legions surrounding the city, was cowed by a Jewish ‘multitude‘ armed with nothing more fearful than phylacteries (small amulets wrapped around one arm during prayer).
Does it not seem more probable that Jesus was arrested by the Jews to protect him from the Romans (who never had any compunction about crucifying one Jew more or less), that this protective arrest was to no avail, and that the Romans demanded that the Jews turn Jesus over to them for punishment? There is evidence in the Gospels themselves for such a theory. According to the Gospels, it was the Roman soldiers who scourged and tortured the body of Jesus. It took Roman fiendishness, not Jewish compassion, to press a crown of thorns on his head, and to hang the mocking sign ‘King of the Jews‘ on his body.
The Gospels themselves related that it was the Jewish multitude that wept at the scene of his crucifixion, not the Romans. The Romans were busy playing dice for his mantle. All the internal evidence points to a Roman atrocity, not a miscarriage of Jewish justice. Jews never in their history crucified anybody, nor ever demanded crucifixion for anyone. In fact the Jews came out in the defence of the Christians, as evidenced in the New Testament itself. Acts 5:34-39 states that the Pharisee Rabbi Rabban Gamaliel openly opposed the Roman persecution of the Christians. Josephus mentions that when James, the brother of Jesus, was executed by the Romans, it was none other than the Pharisees who risked their lives by protesting his wanton killing.
With Jesus dead, Christianity seemed doomed. It was saved by the Jewish doctrine of resurrection. Jews throughout Judea were familiar with the idea of resurrection after death, and freely speculated about the hereafter. We find innumerable references to this in the apocryphal writings of the Pharisees and in the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Essenes, written at least a century before the time of Jesus."
En nou bespreek hierdie boek (Jews, God and History, deur Max I Dimont) die rol van Paulus):
"In the first two decades after the death of Jesus, from 30 to 50 AD, all Christians were Jews, and Christianity as a Jewish sect differed little from the many other Jewish sects. New converts came mostly from the ranks of other Jews, and those pagans who joined the new religion had to become Jews first before they could be accepted into the Christian faith. All Christians were regarded as Jews in the same way that a Catholic turned Protestant, or a Protestant turned Catholic, is still regarded as a Christian. The great schism between Christians and Jews did not occur until after 50 AD, when the Christian sect was taken to the pagans and made a world religion. This was both the decision and the accomplishment of one man, another Jew, the real builder of the Christian Church. His name is Saul of Tarsus, generally known by Christians as Paul. He became to Jesus what the Talmud became to the Torah — a commentary and a way of life.
To the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul was a man ‘whose superstition was equaled by his cunning‘. To Martin Luther, he was a ‘rock of strength‘. Paul was born about the same time as Jesus. He was a citizen of Rome, intellectual and arrogant. He was educated in Roman law and Greek philosophy, yet he was a devout and observing Jew, a Pharisee. He journeyed to Jerusalem at about the same time Jesus came to preach in that city, but they never knew each other. In Jerusalem, Paul also came in contact with the works of Philo and was greatly influenced by them. He could have become a great scholar of the Torah. History made him a Christian saint.
If Paul had lived today, he might have ended up on a psychiatrist‘s coach. Throughout his life he was overwhelmed with an all-pervasive sense of guilt which pursued him with relentless fury. From early paintings and from descriptions in New Testament accounts, both his and others‘, we have a rather repellent physical portrait of him. Ernest Renan characterized him as ‘the ugly little Jew‘. Paul was of slight stature, bowlegged, blind in one eye, and probably had some deformity of body. He was given to recurrent attacks of malaria, had repeated hallucinations, and some scholars believe he was subject to epilectic seizures. He was celibate, exhorted others to celibacy, and advocated marriage only in extreme instances.
In his early years Paul was bitterly opposed to the new Jewish sect, Christianity. He attacked its members savagely, even appearing as a witness (and probably in the stoning of) that sect‘s first martyr, Stephen, who had been the first to proclaim that Jesus was equal to God. In spite of his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, the cure from blindness, and conversion to Christianity, little is heard of Paul for fourteen years, until a disciple named Barnabas, in the year 45 AD, asks Paul to accompany him on a journey for the new Church. It is now that Paul‘s remarkable missionary work begins, and he soon surpasses his mentor, Barnabas.
After his return from this first mession Paul made his fateful decision to break with the Jews. Twice he had appealed to the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem to make him an apostle, and twice it had refused him this honour. Then he had a quarrel with James, the brother of Jesus, about the procedure in converting pagans. Paul felt that pagans should become Christians directly, without first being converted to Judaism. Rebuffed by the apostles of the Church, and defeated in his views on new converts by the brother of Jesus, Paul made three decisions which eliminated the Jewish element from the Christian sect and made it a separate religion.
Since the Jews would not have Christianity, Paul took it to the pagans. To make it easier for them to join his new religion, he made a second decision, that of abandoning Jewish dietary laws and the rite of circumcision. His third decision was to substitute Christ for the Torah, and this was the most crucial one, for it caused the final and unalterable break between the Father and the Son religions. The Jews believed then, as they do now, that man can know God only through the word of God as revealed in the Torah. The Paul doctrine stated that man could know God only through Christ. The schism between Jew and Christian was total.
After his break with the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem and his fight with James, Paul set out on his now famous missionary journeys, and it was at this time that he changed his Jewish name of Saul to the Roman name of Paul. On most of his journeys he was accompanied by one or two companions, Silas and Timothy, the latter of whom he had personally circumcised. It was also during these journeys, between 50 and 62 AD, that he wrote the Pauline Epistles. These are the earliest Christian writings; the Gospels did not appear until later, the first in 70 AD, the fourth around 120 AD.
The accounts of the history of Christianity in the Pauline Epistles and the Gospels, especially as the latter relate to the trial of Christ, become understandable now that we realize they were written not for the Jews but for the pagans. They were written for the Thessalonians, the Galations, the Corinthians, the Romans, the Colossians, the Philippians, the Ephesians. It is understandable that neither Paul nor the Gospel writers would want to antagonize those whom they were seeking to convert, or anger the rulers whom they had to mollify, especially since they could be punished for such offences by being thrown to the lions or being crucified head down.
As Paul journeyed from city to city, from country to country, he used the synagogue as a pulpit for his missionary sermons, for the synagogue was a most tolerant institution, permitting many divergent views. Paul, however, was not as tolerant: ‘... If any man preach any other gospel unto you than you have received [from me] let him be accursed‘ (Galatians 1: 9). Paul did more than take Christianity away from the Jews. Slowly he changed early Christianity into a new Pauline Christololgy.
To the early Christians, Jesus had been human with divine attributes conferred upon him after resurrection. To Paul, Christ was divine even before birth. To the early Christians, Jesus had been the Son of God. To Paul, Christ was coequal and cosubstantial with God. Jesus had taught that one learned to love God by loving man. Paul taught that one learned to love Christ by incorporating him into oneself. Paul also shifted the early emphasis from Jesus the messiah to Christ the redeemer of sin. Paul‘s thinking was dominated by the concept of original sin. According to Paul, man was contaminated by the guilt of Adam, the first sinner. Man could find redemption from sin only through Christ, the first ‘atoner‘, that is, the first one to atone for man‘s sins through his expiatory death.
So powerful was the Pauline appeal to the pagans, that within fifteen years they outnumbered the Jews in the Christian sect. The Jewish Christians became known as the Ebionites — ‘poor ones‘ — and soon fell into obscurity. Christianity was no longer a Jewish sect, for Paul had abandoned the Mosaic tradition.
Where did Paul get his organizing ability? We don‘t know that any more than we know where Trotsky got his organizing ability. Just as Trotsky, the Russian-Jewish ghetto intellectual, took a bedraggled, beaten Russian Czarist Army and transformed it into a victorious Red Army, so Paul, the Roman-Jewish cosmopolitan intellectual, took a handful of dispirited disciples of Christ and transformed them into the Church militant. At the time of Paul‘s death in 62 AD, when according to tradition he was beheaded by order of Emperor Nero, Christianity was a world movement to be reckoned with by the Roman Empire.
It was a miracle that the Christians survived their first three hundred years. One schism after another within their ranks threatened to obliterate them. In this early struggle for survival, the Christians had no time for the Jews. Wrangling over the many doctrinal viewpoints cropping up concerning the nature of the divinity of Christ and his relation to God, the Father, occupied all their energies."
Die boek beskryf voorts hoe die Romeine die Christene drie eeue lank vervolg het:
"A good portion of their membership was eaten by lions in the Roman amphitheatres, which was the Roman cure for Christianity, instituted by Nero and continued for three more centuries. When a Christian accused of being a subversive was brought before a Roman tribunal, he was given the choice of life, by denying he was a Christian, or death, by affirming it. Usually he chose life by recanting his Christianity."
"There is no mystery attached to when and how the Christians assumed power in the Roman Empire. The year was 324, and it was Emperor Constantine the Great who gave them that power. At the beginning of the fourth century the Christians were the largest single religious body in the empire, though they were still a minority. This large, cohesive plurality could have been a stabilizing influence in propping up his tottering empire. He followed the axiom: ‘If you can‘t lick ‘em, join ‘em.‘ Accordingly, he not only recognized Christianity as a legal religion, but also made it the only regal religion in the land. The Christians at this time did not number over 20 percent of the total population.
Accession to power did not bring peace to the Church; one wave of trouble after another threatened to drown it. In giving the Church political power, Constantine also bequeathed it a dubious heritage — Oriental despotism. At the Church Council of Nicaea, which he convoked in 325, a creed, known as the Nicene Creed, was adopted; after that, all Christians had to believe in its principles; all other opinions were banned and declared heretical. The monopolistic character of the early Church was set. Whereas in the past the Christians had settled their sectarian differences by conciliation, they now resorted to the sword to enforce religious conformity. Edward Gibbon estimates that the Christians killed more of their own number in the first hundred years after coming to power than did the Romans during the three previous centuries."
Daar‘s hy. Ek het nou klaar aangehaal uit Dimont se boek. Ek wil graag afsluit met ’n bladsy uit Friedrich Nietzsche se boek The Anti-Christ. So betreur hy die skade wat die Christendom aan Europa gedoen het:
"The whole labour of the ancient world in vain: I have no words to express my feelings at something so dreadful. — And considering its labour was a preparation, that only the substructure for a labour of millennia had, with granite self-confidence, been laid, the whole meaning of the ancient world in vain! ... Why did the Greeks exist? Why the Romans? — Every prerequisite for an erudite culture, all the scientific methods were already there, the great, the incomparable art of reading well had already been established — the prerequisite for a cultural tradition, for a uniform science; natural science, in concert with mathematics and mechanics, was on the best possible road — the sense for facts, the last-developed and most valuable of all the senses, had its schools and its tradition already centuries old! Is this understood? Everything essential for setting to work had been devised — methods, one must repeat ten times, are the essential, as well as being the most difficult, as well as being that which has habit and laziness against it longest. What we have won back for ourselves today with an unspeakable amount of self-constraint — for we still have bad instincts, the Christian instincts, somewhere within us — the free view of reality, the cautious hand, patience and seriousness in the smallest things, the whole integrity of knowledge — was already there! Already more than two millennia ago! And good and delicate taste and tact! Not as brain training! Not as ‘German‘ culture with the manners of ruffians! But as body, as gesture, as instinct — in a word, as reality ... All in vain! Overnight merely a memory! — Greeks! Romans! nobility of instinct, of taste, methodical investigation, genius for organization and government, the faith in, the will to a future for mankind, the great Yes to all things, visibly present to all the senses as the Imperium Romanum, grand style no longer merely art but become reality, truth, life ... And not overwhelmed overnight by a natural event! Not trampled down by Teutons and other such clodhoppers! But ruined by cunning, secret, invisible, anaemic vampires! Not conquered — only sucked dry! ... Covert revengefulness, petty envy became master! Everything pitiful, everything suffering from itself, everything tormented by base feelings, the whole ghetto-world of the soul suddenly on top! — One has only to read any of the Christian agitators, Saint Augustine for example, to realize, to smell, what dirty fellows had therewith come out on top. One would be deceiving oneself utterly if one presupposed a lack of intelligence of any sort on the part of the leaders of the Christian movement — oh they were shrewd, shrewd to the point of holiness, these Church Fathers! What they lack is something quite different. Nature was neglectful when she made them — she forgot to endow them with even a modest number of respectable, decent, cleanly instincts ... Between ourselves, they are not even men. ... If Islam despises Christianity, it is a thousand times right to do so: Islam presupposes men ...
Christianity robbed us of the harvest of the culture of the ancient world, and it later went on to rob us of the harvest of the culture of Islam. The wonderful Moorish cultural world of Spain, more closely related to us at bottom, speaking more directly to our senses and taste, than Greece and Rome, was trampled down (I do not say by what kind of feet): Why? because it was noble, because it owed its origin to manly instincts, because it said Yes to life even in the rare and exquisite treasures of Moorish life! ... Later on, the Crusaders fought against something they would have done better to lie down in the dust before — a culture compared with which even our nineteenth century may well think itself very impoverished and very ‘late‘. — They wanted booty, to be sure: the Orient was rich. ... But let us not be prejuduced! The Crusades — higher piracy, that is all!"
Sjoe, my vingers is voorlopig moeg getik.