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Sermon on the Wire…

For thousands of years, humankind has celebrated the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere as a party-down event.  Observing that the sun was returning to the northern sky, prompted people to celebrate another year of spring birth, summer growth, and autumn harvest.  The bacchanal usually lasted several days.

By the time Christianity came along, there were no surprises as yet another religion usurped the various holidays throughout the year as ecumenical observances.  Since the celebrations could hardly have been stopped, they decided to co-opt them.  The winter solstice became Christmas, the spring equinox became Easter, etc.

Constantine, the Emperor of the Roman Empire, had adopted Christianity.  In the Edict of Milan (313 c.e.), he granted Christians (and all others) the right to practice their religion, and ordered that previously confiscated Christian property be returned.  He was also a major contributor of buildings and money himself.

A number of Christian factions arose in the Empire.  As emperor and pontifex maximus (head of the priesthood), Constantine called certain bishops together in Nicaea for a conference to create a single document to unite the Church.

They set about creating the Christian Bible from select manuscripts and others that were transcribed, written and rewritten, that would eventually become the state religion of the Holy Roman Empire.

All of the manuscripts and beliefs that were not authorized were labeled as heresies and ordered destroyed.  Belief in them was punishable by death.  Even back then, the state and its minnions had their “national security” and “Patriot Act.”

They composed the Old Testament from the Torah and other early Jewish chronicles.  The New Testament contained the sayings of Yeshua ben-Yosef (given the title, Jesus Christ), and liberally embellished with certain Pauline histories.  This became known as the Nicene Creed.

   (Bearing in mind that Paul of Tarsus was a zealous Jew who was also a Roman citizen, had essentially founded the Gentile version of Christianity.  He himself was never an apostle of Jesus, had been rejected by the original apostles, and had never even met Jesus in life.  In 1604, King James I had his own version created to conform with the Church of England, of which he was Chief Cleric.)

Fast forward to Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson, like many of the early Founding Fathers, was a Deist.  He did not believe that Jesus was a man-God.  While he was attracted to the philosophy of Jesus in the Bible, he considered the miracles, etc., as so much myth.

Jefferson created his own Bible by taking the King James Version and cutting out all the miracles and supernatural embellishments.  He called it The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth.

Then, lo and behold, in 1945 an original manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas was discovered in Egypt.  It was found by a farmer digging at the base of a cliff for fertilizer in a sealed jug.  It was comprised of 12 books, or codices, in papyrus wrapped in leather.  Its composition pre-dated the Nicene conference, and helped explain which writings were “modified.”  (A type of early “WikiLeaks”?)

What is most remarkable about the Gospel of Thomas is the fact that Jefferson had quite accurately paralleled what was composed some 1,700 years earlier!

Missing from the Gospel of Thomas are all the miracles and the whole guilt trip and duty to state and church thru a belief system of sin, sacrifice and salvation.  Thomas’s Gospel makes no claim to a virgin birth, Jesus never performs a miracle, never calls himself the Son of God, and never claims that he will have to die for the sins of humankind.

Instead of heaven, Jesus locates the kingdom of God right in front of us.  And Thomas’s Jesus is one hard dude on rich folks.  Unlike the edited versions of Mathew and Luke, Jesus warns against lending money for interest, and that “Buyers and merchants will not enter the places of my father.”

Small wonder that the emperor and his Nicene select wanted all of these original writings purged.  All in all, Jesus comes out more as a philosopher for minorities, the poor, and prisoners, not a shill for the state and its masters.

On the other hand, believe what you will…  Happy Holidays!

Dr. Publico

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