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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jesus said...

By Suzanne MacNevin

Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6)

Jesus said a lot of things. 99% of it is pure rhetoric. Rhetoric is a technique of persuasion in which basically you make statements that appeal to the listener (or in the bible's case, the reader) and will be generally accepted because it cannot be unproven... because the sentence itself is largely meaningless and open to interpretation (and likely contains a metaphor, a simile or more).

We cannot simply say that "Jesus was a liar." (like most politicians) because that in itself cannot be proven. Maybe Jesus REALLY is the way, the truth and life. Or maybe he was just speaking in riddles.

Until the recent re-discovery of Jesus's tomb in Israel it was never actually proven that Jesus ever existed. Now it has been proven... along with the body of his wife Mary Magdalene and his son. So Jesus was a real person. He was convicted of blasphemy, being a false prophet/etc and died for it. (Whether or not his soul went anywhere after his death is really a matter of faith.)

The interesting thing to me is that now the truth about Mary Magdalene has finally been proven: She was Jesus's wife, and more-so, she bore him at least one son (and possibly more), this opens up the field of feminism to reinterpretations of the Bible and looking for how Jesus treated his wife and gives us more insight into how Jesus felt about women (and equality for women).

For a long time Jesus has actually had a pretty bad reputation with regards to women. There were no female disciples and in one instance in the bible he scolded a woman who wanted to take part in their discussions and essentially told her to go back to the kitchen and stop being disrespectful to males present.

Was Jesus a sexist bigot?

Or has the above story been misinterpreted? Perhaps Jesus was far more liberal.

Again we come back to the issue of rhetoric. So much of what Jesus said is open to interpretation. Anything he said can be used to support different arguments.

For example, Jesus never actually says anything against slavery. And yet we know that during his day and age there were slaves of many different colours living in that part of the world. Jesus never brings up these issues of colour or slavery. Instead he just maintains the status quo. Was Jesus pro-slavery or against it? We will never know.

Rhetoric is not truth,
truth is not fact, and rhetoric is so far removed from fact that it practically the opposite in meaning.

Even if we do sit down and re-read the bible hoping to find new meanings we will always instead find either what we are looking for... or what we're expecting to find but are nevertheless unhappy with.

In Corinthians St. Paul says that women must cover their heads (lest they be considered harlots), that men can divorce their wives but wives cannot divorce their husbands, circumcision is nothing and its the keeping of god's commandments that is important, and homosexuals cannot go to heaven.

Please note that the Book of Corinthians is actually a letter from St. Paul. Jesus himself didn't write the letter. It is not Jesus's words, they are St. Paul's letter. Jesus was illiterate and was long dead by the time the letter was written and it would be hundreds of years before that letter became part of what we now call "the bible".

"Bible Thumpers" (and I do not use the term lightly) like to quote phrases from the bible constantly as if everything in the bible is a FACT (or at very least the truth), and that these so-called "facts" are god-given facts, as if god himself wrote the bible.

The only parts of the bible actually attributed wholly to god is the Ten Commandments. Thats it. Everything else is a combination of mythology and written letters from one prophet to another.

If Christians today simply ignored the bible and paid more attention to the Ten Commandments (perhaps even becoming "Commandment Thumpers") I would be so much more pleased with Christianity as a whole.

Jesus said a lot of things that cannot be proven, but I think we can all find SOME truth in the following:

The Ten Commandments
  1. You shall have no other Gods but me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Respect your father and mother.
  6. You must not kill.
  7. You must not commit adultery.
  8. You must not steal.
  9. You must not give false evidence against your neighbour.
  10. You must not be envious of your neighbour's goods. You shall not be envious of his house nor his wife, nor anything that belongs to your neighbour.
If I may be so bold as to add a few:

Respect your wife as you would your mother and father.
Do not beat your wife with a "rule of thumb" (like the bible says you can).
If you're going to commit adultery and don't want to be stoned to death... get a divorce first.

After all its probably best to be honest that your marriage has failed and end it ASAP so that both of you can stop living a lie.

"God Bless Us, Every One." - Tiny Tim (from Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol".)

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