Ways of Christ

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Part 4, additional topics;
The Old Testament; and contributions to the dialogue with other religions

The Old Testament, the Jewish Religion and Jesus Christ ....

with excerpts from the main text, and additions.

This additional page is a contribution towards a better understanding of the Old Testament, and the inter-religious dialogue - including deeper spiritual aspects. The books of the Old Testament are not described here as comprehensively as the Gospel and the Acts (Pentecost) in our main texts. Nevertheless, more contributions to this common heritance of Jews and Christians are possible in the future.

The relation between the Holy Scriptures.

Jesus Christ and his disciples often referred to the Holy Scriptures their listeners knew of. This includes the Old Testament. It contains a history of creation, books on the history of the Jews, laws, prophetic messages, Apocrypha, etc. Jesus and the disciples explained that their work was not intended to nullify the contents of the Old Testament, but that they had not mainly come to interpret the Scriptures either. Life in direct contact with God and Christ is at stake. (See also "Basics of ethical values" and the main text of "ways-of-christ.net".) These results with new viewpoints, as compared with the Old Testament.

In the New Testament there are many indirect references to other religious persuasions of their time. E.g. John's Gospel obviously speaks often to those familiar with Gnostic philosophies, in order to explain them the diverging Christian teachings, using their own "language". A simple example of this is, "He is the true light..." in John 1. Some of Paul’s letters etc. took into account the knowledge that people had of the old mysteries, which were sometimes more familiar to them than the Jewish traditions. A person who is unfamiliar with such other philosophies would not notice it. These passages of the New Testament don't condemn the non-Jewish Scriptures altogether. Condemnations are only directed against concrete types of degenerated cults and their misuses, in order to warn people of such paths. The older and more correct method of evangelism (missionization) was to talk to people in a way they could understand, instead of expecting them to forget their whole background - which is more likely to produce additional breaks in their psyche instead of redemption, which heals breaks and makes people whole. People of other origins were not expected to take up the whole Jewish tradition - and were treated equally. Nevertheless there were quarrels about that question among the disciples, which still occur today.

At that time, Jesus' work in this form required the background of a belief in God, and the hope for a great change both in Israel and the rest of the world, as predicted by the prophets. However, it has become possible since that time, to present Christian teachings on the basis of other religious traditions, instead of those in the Old Testament. For instance, in the first centuries there were trials in this direction based on the monotheist Religion of Zarathustra (Zoroaster). (...) We will not, however, attempt to judge those trials here.

Apart from the Hebrew bible, the Jewish religion also produced several more scriptures, such as the Talmud with the jurisprudence of the Mischna and the commentaries (Gemara) - these were created both in the versions of Babylon and of Jerusalem. There are severe problems when the corresponding parts of Judaism attempt to apply the 613 laws (Halacha) formalistically, instead of looking at a situation in the light of God’s love, free of prejudices. Handling church law and even secular law schematically, may produce similar problems. There are also basic scriptures of special schools, especially the mystic esoteric books of kabbalism Zohar (Sohar) / Sepher Jezirah. These books are said to have originated in the 13th century; however, they may date back to even older traditions. They are even reminiscent of ancient Egypt. Today, Jewish mysticism exists too .

The doctrines of God.

"The God of Abraham" was experienced as the personal God of the family, the tribe and the people of Israel; and as the God of the universe as well. This belief got its strict monotheistic shape (one God only) in the course of time, repeatedly invoked by the prophets.*
In the beginning, the Old Testament calls God "Elohim". This means "divine Creator's Spirits" - and not material extraterrestrials with genetic engineering or anything like that, as some books speculate today. (Partially problematic influences seem to have appeared on the scene later.) The semitic words "Elohim" and "Allah" (Islamic) have surely the same linguistic origin; "El" of the Canaanites too.

The name Jahweh/Jehovah appears later in the Old Testament. When God came "closer" during the various epochs, it is said, according to mystical and humane sources like J. Lorber or R. Steiner, that the experience of God as Jehovah came up. Only the translations always use the same names for God and the experiences of people of various epochs are missed because of this. The real experience of God as Jehovah has probably sometimes been clouded over and even negative beings might sometimes have been nothing more than misled people. Many modern confusing theories would find their solution, if this viewpoint would be noted. It is a phenomenon in many religions, that e.g. people of weak faith , who were full of hate, were not ready to change their opinions through the words of prophets, . So not every story in the Old Testament necessarily refers to the real "Jahweh" and to "YWHW" as described by Prof. J. J. Hurtak / USA. But that does not mean that each incident reported in the Old Testament can be evaluated with today's human logic. God knows better than we do, what he does and why - and what he wants people to do and why.

The Messianic belief and Christ.

"Christos" is the word for the prophesied "Meshiah", already mentioned in the "Septuaginta", the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, written by Jews for Jews around (about) the 3rd/2nd century BC. So this is no "fiction" of St. Paul, as some modern writers had believed. The scrolls found in the caves near the Dead Sea (Qumran) show that pious Jews in the decades and centuries before Christ had been awaiting a messianic Kingdom of peace, as it is outlined in Jesaja 11; see also Jer. 31, 31-34. But already at that time there were various opinions concerning the nature of the Messiah - just as the disciples of Jesus had difficulties understanding that the new "Kingdom" would not simply be a national rebellion against the Romans, but a spiritual development changing everything - a "Kingdom of Heaven". See the Letter to the Hebrews.

The community of Qumran is often said to have belonged to the Essenic Order, the third school among the Jews of that time besides the Pharisees and the Sadducees. More correctly, it was an independent community, close to the essenic teachings. They had good contacts to all kinds of different schools; not only to the peaceful Essenians, but to independent, militant "Zelotes" too,  and to the Pharisees at Jerusalem (who gave them the index of the temple's treasury; obviously the Qumran people were looked on as very trustworthy, in spite of having different opinions.) The "statute of the community" 1QS contained descriptions of the awaited Messiah. They were even awaiting two Messiahs or two family trees of the Messiah. (According to the law of that time, Jesus fitted the description: Joseph from the house of David and Mary from the priestly line of Aaron this point of view was also mentioned by Carsten Peter Thiede, who is working on the scrolls for the Israeli authority for antiquities.)
It seems that the prophecy of Micah 5,1, that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, was not noticed or not considered to be important by the messianic movement of that time.  Nevertheless, Matthew, for instance, mentions this origin of Jesus. Some rashly called this an "invention" of Matthew, because Jesus was said to have his home at Nazareth, which is far away. **

The passage in prophet Daniel 9:25 is often related to Christ: 69 "weeks" from the instruction to build the second Jerusalem - see Nehemia 2:18; around 445 BC - to the death of the (2nd) "Anointed". If these "weeks" are actually "weeks of years" (compare the "sabbatical years"), this would indeed point to the time around the crucifixion of Jesus, around 29.

Common jointly concepts about Jesus, held by Jewish and Christian theologians.
Many modern Jewish and Christian researchers have come to the following mutual conclusions concerning Jesus: 
- That he was a real historical person, who was born at Nazareth in Galilee, the son of Joseph and Mary and grew up in a house with brothers and sisters.
- That he was baptized by the preacher John the Baptist and after that, felt called to act publicly and in this context built up the Jesus-movement.
- That, as an itinerant preacher, he taught how to pray to the one God and called on the people to repent in the face of the approaching Divine Kingdom.
- That he did many miracles of healing, for instance of people suffering from mental diseases and that he was accepted especially by those less fortunate in the society of the time, such as the poor, women and the sick.
- That he came into conflict with Jewish scholars in Galilee and Jerusalem until being put to death violently by the Romans.

Certain controversial differences of opinion remain between Jews and Christians:
- Whether Jesus was the prophesied Messiah - but there are the Messianic Jews too, who accept Jesus as their Messiah; 
- and how exactly the relation between Jesus and God is.
- How to consider the crucifixion and resurrection.
- How to understand the Christian concept of the more comprehensive "People of God" extending beyond the Jews.
(However, beyond that, there are some Jews and Christians with extreme criticism against each other; but in the interreligious dialogue, they don't play any significant role.)

An idea comes from R. Steiner and is difficult to grasp for a theology limited to a definition of Christianity or Judaism as religious organisations, but possibly all the more interesting for other cultures. That is, Christ as an entity, which was known to high pre-Christian sages, who expressed himself as Vishwas Karman of the Hindus, as the Ahura Mazda of the Parsees, the sun-like being Osiris of the Egyptians, the celtic Belemis = Baldur and Apollo. See the chapter "In the beginning was the Word" of the main text of "Ways of Christ" too.
You may also look up Rudolf Steiner's Christology, among other things the collection of lectures: (check if available already in English):"Spiritual beings in celestial bodies", in 1912;"Preliminary stages for the mystery of Golgatha", in 1913, in 1914";"From Jesus to Christ", in 1911;"Christology". **)

Later, 2000 years ago, we see the physical incarnation of Christ on earth as a yardstick at a turning point in the world’s evolution, taking this and mankind on himself and including them into his life again. The former cults were partially degenerated as Christianity later became superficial, though an investigation in this direction would be interesting. Christ would show himself as something, which does not fit with the role sometimes intended for him as a power guarantor of a separated religious community, a being which just represents refreshed humanity, the "new Adam" of Golgotha.

Who is not sure concerning the identity of Jesus / the Messiah / and Christ, may ask God in prayer for more insight.

*) See Hans Küng, Judaism: Between Yesterday and Tomorrow for a study of the development of Judaism from the origin to the tragedy 1933-1945 and the present time. He attempts an integrated research that accepts the contents of the Scriptures as a contextual source, in spite of archaeology and critical theological research, which gives some Christians and Jews pause for thought. (We don’t accept all the consequences resulting from the historico-critical research. For instance, some events surrounding Jesus appear largely to be only subjective experiences. However, Küng is open to an open, not yet explored kind of reality of such experiences.

** It would also be important for the time of the Old Testament for research to get useful clues, if inspired, visionary writings were taken into account and understood in their special nature. In this case besides Rudolf Steiner, for instance, Anna Katharina Emmerich, "Das Geheimnis (Die Geheimnisse) des Alten Bundes" (German; possibly in English too).
Concerning the time before the central Asian flood and the time of the New Testament, see for instance the books of the mystic Jakob Lorber: www.lorber-verlag.de (there are many books translated into English too); and Rudolf Steiner. If one accepts the testimony of Christian mysticism, one can completely forget the theories of some other writers, saying that Jesus would never have existed as a real person, or that he was nothing more than an itinerant preacher.

Table: "Archetypes" (models, symbols)  from the earliest history -elucidated by the bible- to Jesus, and to the future.


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