Saturday, August 01, 2009

Jesus Crackers and Simulated Cannibalism?

the above found by image googling "Jesus Crackers"

I was in the 5 to 7 age range when I questioned much of religion. It had less to do with a corpulent nun with a disdain for washing, who had a large hairy mole on her face who had a thing for holding me on her lap burning my nose with offensive smells wafting up from under her dress, and it had more to do with being asked to eat crackers being told they were the body of Jesus and the wine was the blood of Jesus. I didn't know what a cult was back then, but was wondering why all these people around me were blindly “whacked”.

What if all religions were based on an ancient form of cartoons, fables and tall tales passed down by word of mouth?

We're shown artwork from ancient civilizations, but why aren't we shared the text of what real people were writing about just before the supposed birth of Christ? What is really being said in the Dead Sea Scrolls? Are all organized religions afraid of some real information getting out?

“The parallels between Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness of the Dead Sea Scrolls goes to show how patterns of stories and beliefs get intertwined into making a religion.” - a quote [from here].

What are the Dead Sea Scrolls in a nutshell? [answer]

What do we know, basically, about the “Teacher of Righteousness”? [more information]

The Google people may hold the key to censorship on the whole world wide web. What if someone, or some very powerful group are angered by the above, will all of what I have written here be deleted? If talking about one religion, Islam, can get an author listed as “kill on sight”, what can a person get for “talking shit” about all religion?

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The Dead Sea Scrolls are documents (thousands of fragments) found in caves in the deserts of Palestine around Jerusalem, during the 1940’s-50’s, written by Jewish sectaries who fled to the wilderness in opposition to the prevailing powers at Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple, approximately 200 B.C. Samuel Sandmal, notes that it is clear the community of Qumran arose because of the dissatisfaction of how the priests were running the Temple.

It had divine sanction, they did not.1 The scrolls contain instructions on how to live in order to be the receivers of a new covenant the sect felt was coming. In other words the documents seem to have an apocalyptic orientation. Every book of the Bible is represented except the Book of Esther, as well as many apocryphal books, commentaries on these books with their particular application to the sect (arguably the Essenes), sectarian materials on how to join the sect, etc.

What most puzzles the scholars and historians of antiquity is the "Teacher of Righteousness". Why? As Geza Vermes notes, "Unfortunately, as the most vital topic of all, the question of the identity of the Teacher of Righteousness, we can be nothing like as clear."2 The term Teacher of Righteousness is not a scriptural one, though it could be based on the analogy of the term Teacher of Falsehood (cf. Isaiah 9:14-15; Habakkuk 2:18).3

It is one of the great mysteries of identification; great because here was a prophet-figure out of Israel’s long illustrious prophetic heritage that was completely unknown. Here was a prophet whom God had revealed his secrets to. This Teacher of Righteousness according to A. Robert Leaney, was specifically gifted to receive the secrets and mysteries of God as were all the prophets of ancient Israel. He was God’s mouthpiece for the community. He interpreted scripture with regard to their contemporaneous situation without regard to origin or context of that scripture. The Teacher of Righteousness founded the Qumran Community.4

This Teacher of Righteousness had enemies, his main antagonist being the "Wicked Priest". So the question of the identity of such major figures in the lives of the Qumran sect, how those lives were lived, what they said, did, and wrote, thrown upon us with no prior warning, has caused a sensation.

History and Background

The era of history we are dealing with depends on the dating of the scrolls. Generally speaking the range is thought to be from 200 B.C. to 70 A.D. Scholars trying to identify the Teacher of Righteousness have two questions which help to give context to the era in which he supposedly lived.

1) Who were the Kittim that the scrolls refer to as the Qumranites enemies?

2) Who were the historical personalities of the second and first centuries B.C. who fit the descriptions of the Teacher of Righteousness and his persecutors, the Wicked Priest and the Man of the Lie?5

We’ll deal with the Kittim below. First we analize the various interpretations of who the Teacher was as he was the main object of the Qumranites’ veneration.

The massive Diaspora (Dispersion) of the Jews had been occurring from the eighth century B.C. In Israel (Palestine) itself, although the Hebrew Torah (the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible) remained paramount, the Greek influences were apparent by 600 B.C. Fourth century silver coins from the Persian province of "Yehud" imitate Greek issues for trading with the Greeks.6

One of the Yehud coins bearing the name "Yehezkiyo", has been considered as belonging to the late Persian period, as has one with a longer inscription, "Yehezkiyo ha-pehah". A new series of coins with the legend "Yehudah" also have a portrait of Ptolemy I. Ptolemy didn’t mint his coins with his portrait until 305 B.C.. The coin suggests a continuity of Judaea as a political unit into the Ptolemaic period.7

The Greek influence did not occur until Alexander the Great took the country from the Persians in 332. This Greek influence affected the Jewish monotheism in Palestine, of which the two dominant groups here were the Pharisees and Sadducees.8

The Ptolemies of Egypt annexed Palestine after Alexander’s death, and saw Palestine as a temple state, hence recognizing the High Priests as the rulers of the country, albeit under Ptolemaic suzerainty.9

With the victory of the Seleucid monarch Antiochus III over Panion (Banyas) in 200, the monarch annexed Judaea from Egypt, hence Palestine was now in control of the Seleucids, not the Ptolemies. Antiochus IV the successor, gave the High Priesthood to Jason in exchange for tribute. Jerusalem was made into a city of the Greek type (175-172), but in 167 Antiochus IV rededicated the Temple of the Hebrew God Yahweh to Olympian Zeus. Thus came the Maccabean uprising led by Judas Maccabaeus of the house of Hasmon, which led to the Jewish independence politically, under Hasmonian rule.10

We learn further from II Maccabees that Antiochus dedicated the Temple to Olympian Zeus and the temple on Mt. Gerizim was dedicated to Zeus Xenius. Orgies involving intercourse with women (i.e. ritual prostitution?) to place in the Temple precincts. Unlawful sacrifices were made on the Altar of Burnt Offering. The royal birthday was celebrated, as were the feasts of Dionysius. Chapter 10 reveals that pagan altars had been placed in the agora of Jerusalem and sacred precincts established.

I Maccabees reveals that many Israelites sacrificed to idols and that the king’s order involved the construction of altars, sacred precincts, and shrines for idols. The "Abomination of Desolation" was set on the Altar. The Abomination was a pagan altar placed on the Altar of Burnt Offering. Diodorus, under the impression that the Temple contained a cult-statue of Moses, as Founder, records that Antiochus sacrificed a sow to him on the open-air altar. "All that we can be certain of is that the Temple was dedicated to Zeus Olympius, the favoured god of Antiochus, and that sacrifices of pigs were carried out on a pagan altar constructed over the Altar of Burnt Offering."11 [more]


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