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RastafariSpeaks .com

« on: April 29, 2004, 10:48:51 AM »

Greetings all,

I’ve recently started reading some Gnostic texts, trying to find out why some texts were included in the Bible and others not. I was brought up with mainstream “Paulianity”, and for a long time I’ve had troubles accepting the oppressive teachings attributed to Paul. Even so, I’ve somehow been afraid of challenging and questioning my childhood beliefs. Pauline Christians often threaten you with hell if you question their dogmas….

After reading Dennis Forsythe’s book “Rastafari”, I’ve been exploring the links between Rasta and Christianity. What I have found this far is that Gnostic texts like the Gospel according to Thomas have similarities with Rasta and other spiritualists in the emphasis on knowing oneself, spiritual development, seeking wisdom and rejecting the Babylon system. I am aware that these are originally African and universal spiritual truths.....

The Old Testament apocrypha have more focus on wisdom, include more women than the canonical texts, and also tell of the experiences of the Jews in exile, including the uprising of the Maccabees. New Testament Gnostic texts also focus more on wisdom, teach that God is to be found inside us, include Mary Magdalene as a spiritual teacher, and reject capitalism more strongly than the canonical texts. No wonder the Church Fathers did not wish to grant authority to these texts…..

I’ve been pondering on Paul’s role in corrupting original Christianity. Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 23,6) and a Roman citizen (Acts 16,37). He was converted from persecuting Christians when he met Jesus spiritually. But he continued to invoke his Roman privileges. His Roman citizenship entitled him to demand to be tried before the Emperor in Rome (Acts 22,25-28; 25,10).

Gerald Massey, in “The Historical Jesus”, writes that Paul originally fought against this materialist corruption of Christianity, and that his letters were later changed by the Romans. This would explain the internal contradictions in Paul’s teachings. On the other hand, some Gnostic interpreters argue that it was Gnosticism Paul fought against.

In any case, whether the letters attributed to Paul reflect his own teachings, or were later changed by other Romans, they reflect Roman imperial privilege. Some of the following quotes will sound familiar, I think Paul's arguments have been parafrased by some people on this very board:

1.      Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is he the God of Jews only? Is he not also the God of the gentiles? Yes, of the gentiles also. (Rom. 3,28-29)
2.      For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3,23)
3.      Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (Rom. 13,1)
4.      Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. (1 Cor. 11,9)
5.      Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, so that the doctrine of God and his doctrine may not be blasphemed. (1 Tim. 6,1)
6.      Let God be true but every man a liar. (Rom. 3,4)
7.      Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which comes by faith. (1 Tim. 1,4)
8.      Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you. (1 Cor. 11,2)
9.      Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Cor. 1,10)
10.      If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions. (1 Tim. 6,3-4)
11.      Persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra – what persecution I endured. (2 Tim. 3,11)
12.      I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach any gospel to you other than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1,6-8 )

Maybe the truest words of Paul are the following:

1.      What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. (2 Cor. 11,17)
2.      For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (Rom. 7,15)
3.      Judge among yourselves. (1 Cor. 11,13)

And what did Jesus say?
1.      But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. (Matt. 23,13)
2.      Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel over land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matt. 23,15)
Junior Member
Posts: 592

Higher Reasoning

« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2004, 01:52:00 PM »

I chalk it up to confusion between the teachings of Jesus and the rules of Rome. Many people confuse the 2 and think Roman law is the word of Jesus and visa-versa. I would wage a bet most people are pretty darn confused.

It is the same for those who confuse the mythology and legend of the bible for actual history.

Junior Member
Posts: 227

« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2004, 02:58:23 PM »

I love how you state your opinion as fact, iyah.  We're all guilty of it sometimes, but you have a propensity towards doing it always.


Therefore, become imitators of JAH, as beloved children - Ephesians 5:1
Junior Member
Posts: 227

« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2004, 03:07:59 PM »

Let me comment on the point of this thread, though, since that last post had nothing to do with it.

As far as the Pauline epistles go, Paul writes that he believes he has God's spirit, and certainly many of the things he writes are confirmed by previous scriptures in the 4 main gospels or in the Hebrew scriptures, but there are clearly times when we are asked to make a leap of faith and either: a) believe Paul to be a direct messenger of JAH as a prophet is or b) discount it to being his own opinion.

INI actually do agree with you that quite often the answer is the latter and that Paul is interjecting his own opinions and motives into Christianity, but for the most part, he's writing with the intention of keeping the congregations pure.  ALSO, remember Paul dealt with a lot of politics as a pharisee, and because of that he tends to be verbose and like any other lawyer-type - if you don't agree after 3 sentences, you won't after 30, so he's often beating a dead horse.

All in all, I just want to comment on one instance that shows that Paul was not living in REALITY as the other Christians he wrote were.  He writes that he "wishes they all were as he" but if they are "given to be inflamed with lust, let them marry."  How self-righteous and absurd is that?  Paul is single because he is unattractive and old, not because he's chosen to be, and he's trying to lift that up as a sacrifice he has made to serve JAH and spread the Word.  Instead he ends up coming across as unreasonable and self-righteous (and this is of course not the only instance).  

I'd like to write more on this topic and continue discussing because I have much more to say and I'd prefer to do it while going through some actual scriptures, but time is not permitting right now.  

Good topic tho, Tian...

Therefore, become imitators of JAH, as beloved children - Ephesians 5:1
Senior Member
Posts: 610


« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2004, 11:25:17 PM »

One thing I find interesting is that Gerald Massey, whose work I respect so greatly, celebrates Paul as a great gnostic, because his view of Christ is mystical:after all he never met Jesus in the flesh.
James the Brother of Jesus by Robert Eisenman is a book worth checking out. He uses scripture and the Dead Sea Scrolls to highlight the conflict between Paul and James, Jesus' brother who headed up the 'Christians' in Jerusalem after Jesus' death. Paul even physically assaulted James on the steps of the Temple. James' Christianity was Essene, and thus ultra-orthodox Judaism in many ways.James was not down with going among the Gentiles or any of that. He was furious that Paul taught that there was no need for circumcision...
It was James's murder by the Romans that caused the revolt which led to the destruction of the Temple and scattering of the Jews in 70ad.
Eisenman points out tha not only was Paul a Roman citizen, but that he had ties to the Herods as well.
The weird thing to contemplate is that if not for Paul, the Christian cult in Jerusalem would be no better remembered than all the other Messianic cults of the time. There would probably not be any such thing as a Christian...

Posts: 35

AfricaSpeaks.co m

« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2004, 01:59:13 AM »

Essene, Nazarean viz. JAMES=
"The Way" Judeo, Christian viz. Paul=
"The Church"
Human Potential
A. Self Empowerment  A. Negation of Self
B. Continual rebirth/evolution through initiation/knowledge (gnosis)=enlightenment/gradation to higher level of realization/manifestation/ higher incarnation B. One birth/one rebirth in same incarnation through faith/belief in someone else's effort (i.e. Jesus's)=one shot - all or nothing salvation; failure=eternal damnation
C. Graduation through lifetimes of right thoughts right words right deeds.  C. Only through faith in Jesus's death and resurrection can one be saved. 1. Works are worth nothing 2.Only vicarious blood sacrifice of the innocent can pay for the sins of the guilty!!!
Human Contract with Nature
A. Stewardship of the earth A. Dominion over the earth
B. Passive co-operation and respect for all life B. Aggressive command and control over nature
1. No violence of any kind=no war or aggression of any kind 1. Centuries of so-called righteous wars=all manner of violence inquisitions etc.
2. No forced servitude of any kind=no military no slavery etc.  2. institutionalized forced servitude=militarism slavery etc.
3. No cruelty of any kind=no blood sacrifices or other related cruelties to humans animals etc. Also no meat or hide industries etc.  3. All lower evolutions of nature viewed as natural resources/commerce - therefore animals (having no soul) can be enslaved sacrificed murdered etc. (at will).
Effect on the Course of History
A. Awareness of interdependent co-operation of all ecosystems A. Aggressive domination by human race (led by white Christian males) over all!
B. Ghia balance=world peace! B. Manifest destiny=world chaos!
None of these correlating ills possible under 1. Wars: responsible for torture and death of untold millions.
Essene/Nazarean 2. Forced Servitude: allowed for slavery militarism sexism etc. For centuries.
paradigm known as 3. Cruel dominion over nature: led to extinction of untold numbers of plants and animals.
"The Way"!!! 4. Lack of Vegetarianism:
a) Aids and abets world hunger

16 lbs. of grain=1 edible lb. of beef.
5'000 gallons of water=1 edible lb. of beef.
85% of U.S. topsoil - loss directly related to livestock raising etc.
b). Meat industry: endangers entire ecosystems - particularly in rainforest regions (especially Central and South America)
Amount of meat imported to U.S. annually from Central and South America: 300,000,000 pounds.
Percentage of Central American children under the age of 5 who are undernourished: 75
Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter pound of rainforest beef: 55sq. ft.
Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing etc.: 1,000 per year!!!

None of these correlating ills possible under Essene/Nazarean paradigm known as "The Way"!!! 5. Lack of Self-empowerment:
a) Creates hopelessness
b) Promotes an attitude (the result of which leads to a) lack for the taking of full responsibility for the consequences of one's own actions!

i think ones can tell the difference between Pauls doctrine and James's.

Selassie I /Empress Menen-Y'shua/Mary Magdalene,Perfect Balance
Junior Member
Posts: 592

Higher Reasoning

« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2004, 06:50:33 AM »

I love how you state your opinion as fact, iyah.  We're all guilty of it sometimes, but you have a propensity towards doing it always.

point taken. i would like to know though if Christians were not just following Roman law, would the world look the way it does in these times? if Christians were fulfilling the task of finding the Most High within themselves, of fighting corruption in high and low places? i think the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
Posts: 43

RastafariSpeaks .com

« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2004, 09:57:12 AM »

 Greetings all, and thanks for your replies.


As to confusion between mythology and actual history, I have noticed your posts about the African origins of Christianity. This is a topic I would like to read more about. You have quoted a lot of books that are often hard to find in my country, and I am not sure where to start. Could you recommend some for a start?


It actually surprised me that Gerald Massey had this positive view of Paul as a gnostic.... Thanks for the book recommendation, I will check that out! I am also now looking for a book by the Norwegian theologist Svein Woje, called "Jesus did not die on the cross". I will say more about that after I read it.

In an article, Woje writes that not only Paul fought James, but also Martin Luther wanted the epistle of James (who writes that "faith without works is dead") removed from the Bible. I interpret it this way that the Pauline idea of faith without deeds is a convenient excuse for capitalist oppressors. It also corresponds to the intention ethics prevalent in Western culture, where evil actions are excused by being well-intended. It has been said: "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", and this is reflected in imperialist propaganda of "civilizing" or "developing" Africa, liberating Iraq and similar things.

You asked, would Jesus have been remembered without Paul? It reminds me of the parable of the sower, if you take the tares out, you will also destroy the wheat. Only at harvest time, the two will be distinguished.... Sometimes the good is preserved in the midst of evil......

Out of Zion,

I appreciate your comments.
So about Paul, the options are:
1. Paul's words are the words of God - which I find unacceptable.
2. Paul inserts his own Roman-influenced opinions, unconsciously and with good intentions. (he tries his best, but is influenced by his privileges)
3. Paul inserts his own opinions deliberately, for self-serving purposes.
4. The Roman church fathers changed his original texts, for self-serving purposes.

I am not sure how much it really matters if he wrote it, or others did, or what his intentions were. The problem is that too many confuse these writings with the words of Jesus, which results in, well ... a lot of evil actions.


Thanks for your info. I will need some more time to check that out.....