Abrahamic Religions - History, Theology and Texts



Judaism
Christianity
     Old Testament
     Dead Sea Scrolls / Qumran Library
     Q
     Didache
     Codex Sinaiticus
     New Testament
     King James Bible
     Peshitta
     Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Canon
     Gospel of Mary / Berlin Gnostic Codex
     Nag Hammadi Library
     Gospel of Barnabas
     Crusades and their Historical Legacy
     The Protestant Reformation
     Christianity and Colonialism
     Mormonism and The Church of Latter Day Saints
     Haile Selassie I and Rastafarianism
Islam
     Nation of Islam

Last Updated: 21 May 2014  

Judaism

Judaism is described on Wikipedia at the link below. It was formed in roughly 2000 BC by the covenant between Abraham and God. It is one of three Abrahamic religions that regard Abraham as one of their prophets, the other two being Christianity and Islam. Discussion on the New Testament and Old Testament and how they related can be found in the section on Christianity below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism

http://whatjewsbelieve.org There are various texts in Judaism including the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament), Talmud and Mishna, Haggada, Kabbalah, Midrash and other works from the Middle Ages and also modern works. These texts can be read on line at the link below.

www.sacred-texts.com/jud/index.htm

The Hebrew Kabbalah is defined below. It is a series of books claimed to represent Jewish mysticism and esoteric knowledge about God not mentioned in the Tanakh or Old Testament. It is labelled dualistic by many critics because of its split between a good power and an evil power.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabbalah

The earliest documents which are generally acknowledged as being Kabbalistic come from the 1st Century AD, but it is suspected that the Biblical phenomenon of prophecy may have been grounded in a much older oral tradition which was a precursor to the earliest recognisable forms of Kabbalah. Some believe the tradition goes back as far as Melchizedek. There are moderately plausible arguments that Pythagoras received his learning from Hebrew sources. There is a substantial literature of Jewish mysticism dating from the period 100AD - 1000AD which is not strictly Kabbalistic in the modern sense, but which was available as source material to medieval Kabbalists. On the basis of a detailed examination of texts, and a study of the development of a specialist vocabulary and a distinct body of ideas, Scholem has concluded that the origins of Kabbalah can be traced to 12th. century Provence. The origin of the word "Kabbalah" as a label for a tradition which is definitely recognisable as Kabbalah is attributed to Isaac the Blind (c. 1160-1236 C.E.), who is also credited with being the originator of the idea of sephirothic emanation. Prior to this (and after) a wide variety of terms were used for those who studied the tradition: "masters of mystery", "men of belief", "masters of knowledge", "those who know", "those who know grace", "children of faith", "children of the king's palace", "those who know wisdom", "those who reap the field", "those who have entered and left". Jews often state the Kabbalah is the secret knowledge given by God to Adam and to Moses, which was 'secretly' encoded in the Old Testament (Tanakh) - hints at mysticism - but which was explicitly recorded in Kabbalistic texts much later.

Many Christians regard the Kabbalah as a series of occult and spiritualist texts, the knowledge received in visions whilst in a 'trance'. It has been linked to Hermeticism and the Hermetic Qabalah (a Western European Hermetic 'religion' largely based on the Jewish Kabbalah), the magical/occult tradition, and in particular made up a major part of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn theology and practice. Some may argue that this is not the fault of the Kabbalah if it is adopted by occultists, however one could argue that for it to be used in this manner there must be some underlying Hermetic magical quality to it. The Kabbalah was adopted in certain Christian circles starting from the 13th Century onwards, there known as Christian Kabbalah or Cabbalah, and was as stated was later adopted by the Rosicrucians, Freemasons and Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (as the Hermetic Qabalah).

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/kabblah_cabala.htm

www.kheper.net/topics/Kabbalah/JudaicKabbalah.htm

www.webcom.com/gnosis/jskabb1.htm

www.kheper.net/topics/Hermeticism/GoldenDawn.htm

www.kheper.net/topics/Kabbalah/ChristianKabbalah.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermetic_Qabalah

http://www.kheper.net/topics/Hermeticism/Qabalah.htm

The Kabbalah is explained and defended by a Jew at the link below.

www.jewfaq.org/kabbalah.htm

A look at Kashrut or Jewish law regarding dietary practices, and Kosher food, can be found at the links below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_foods

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/kashrut 

Christianity

Various Biblical and non-canonical Christian texts are examined below. This section reflects a general exploration of my (previous?) Christian faith. I have endeavoured to examine some of the more debated issues about Christianity and theological and canonical issues and problems, and to look at them from both sides, for the benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike. The purpose of all the questions raised in the text of this section is really to probe the reader into asking questions about what one actually believes in and considering the meaning of what one believes, and to explore Christianity from all possible angles. It is not necessarily intended to direct the reader to certain specific beliefs, to 'attack' Christianity, but to adopt an open mind and consider various alternative interpretations. The reader does not necessarily have to accept any or all of these premises. I have adopted the philosophy that by being honest about the history of one's religion and also by examining its origins and inconsistencies, one can try to explore what constitutes spiritual truth and what a faith is/was really about; and be certain about those areas one can be certain about, and keep an open mind (relatively speaking) about those areas that one cannot. I do not view inconsistencies within the theology or religious texts of a Religion or known historical wrongdoings as a reason to necessarily dismiss the faith behind a religion. One's approach does not have to be all or nothing. 

Old Testament

The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible (aka Tanakh) was written and compiled between the 12th and 2nd Century BC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Testament

The Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation for both public reading and private study. The MT is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent decades also for Catholic Bibles. The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the seventh and tenth centuries CE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masoretic_Text

The Septuagint (aka LXX) is the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, translated in stages between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC in Alexandria. The Septuagint also includes some books not found in the Hebrew Bible.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint

Many people believe that the first 5 books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), known as the Pentateuch, were actually written by Moses in Sinai desert around 1000 BC. The Pentateuch are sacred books to Jews, Christians and Muslims. However, it would appear according to archaelogical evidence and from early manuscripts, that the first 5 books were most likely written in 800 BC. If so, then they were probably written by intellectuals and theologians of the time. There were 4 different versions of each of the 5 books, each with slightly different interpretations. The theory goes that the four versions of each book were combined, even though they didn't fully agree, into one single version.

The Pentateuch was influenced by the King Hezekiah of Judah, who ruled a country containing different branches of monotheism. He no doubt wished to unite the people, to worship only at the temple, and to create a single Jewish religion. The victory of Jerusalem over the Assyrians was apparently due to the Jews paying off the Assyrians who were on the verge of conquering Judah. The Bible records it as a great victory. Perhaps the Biblical account contains a little 'spin'. Politics has always played a major part in religion. According to Dr Robert Beckford, King Hezekiel was murdered by another King who he met with, rather than dying of disease.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezekiah

www.varchive.org/tac/hezekiah.htm

www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/bible.html

The exodus of the Jews from Egypt is not supported by historical and archaelogical facts. This is however not to say that it did not occur in some form.

Other books were added to the Tanakh (Old Testament) and perhaps written to give the Jews hope and pride in difficult times. It was really only when the book of Isaiah was written that the Old Testament became not just a 'Jewish' book but a book for all nations, and prophesied for the first time the coming of a new King of Israel, who would be a King for all nations. There was perhaps some spin here too, but that is not to say that any of these books weren't written with people inspired by God and with revelations from God.

Prior to the religion of Abraham, Jewish religion had arguably been about being dependent on external forces or deities for own's survival, whereas Judaism brought with it a sense of personal responsibility, in the sense that one was responsible for one's own destiny, guided by whether one sinned or not. Archeological evidence suggests that Judaism was not as widely practiced amongst the Jewish people as we once believed. It does not appear to have been widely taken up until around 500 B.C., pagan religions instead being practised by the majority of Jews up until this point. It is not until the exile in Babylon, many Jews converted to Babylonian paganisn. However the idea of the Jewish people being God's chosen people started to became popular, as it gave them hope, and their situation confirmed the concept of sin, that they had not embraced God's message and were being punished for their sins. Thus, rather than give up Judaism in adversity, it took hold stronger than before. It is in exile that the Jewish unifying and arguably Nationalist monotheistic religion was born and was to influence the majority of the people on the planet in one form or other. 

Dea Sea Scrolls (aka Qumran Library)

The Dea Sea Scrolls were discovered in 11 different caves in the area of the ruins of Qumran at the northern part of the Dea Sea (in Israel), between 1947 and 1956. The documents have been dated to between the 2nd Century BC and the 1st Century AD. The Scrolls so far discovered represent a library of 900+ documents, making up as many as 350 separate works in multiple copies, many of which are represented only by fragments. Cave 4 alone contained 520 texts in 15,000 fragments. When they were first discovered and studied, many fragments were incorrectly matched up, and modern imaging technology will no doubt help the correct matching of fragments in the present and future. The Dea Sea Scrolls were hidden by the Essenes probably in the 4th Century before they were defeated by the Romans. The Essenes were an ascetic, mystical Jewish Sect that predated Christ. Contrary to popular opinion, Judaism was not as homogeneous as some imagine, with a number of different Sects. The Dea Sea Scrolls consisted of a number of copies of books from the Old Testament and alternative versions. It is likely that the books found in the Old Testament are based on combining a number of older historical versions written by different authors. The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) also contain a number of other non-canonical writings. Translations of parts of the DSS can be found at the Gnosis web site below.

www.religiousstudies.uncc.edu/jdtabor/dssfacts.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea_Scrolls

www.webcom.com/gnosis/library/scroll.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essenes 

Q

Jesus life and teachings were communicated verbally in the 20 years or so after his death. Christianity at that time was very much an oral tradition. It was only as the Apostles began to die that gradually religious books began to appear. The first Christian text is reputed to be called 'Q' which the NT synoptic gospel writers (of the first three gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke) allegedly based their writings upon. John's Gospel was written slightly later and is considered to be 'slightly Gnostic' by some in that it contains certain Gnostic elements, although clearly not the Gnostic cosmology.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/q.html 

Didache

The earliest non-canonical Christian texts which still exists today is viewed to be the Didache. The Didache was discovered first in 1056, and again in 1873. It is believed to have been written either in the 2nd or 3rd Century AD. A translation can be found at the first of the two links below.

http://reluctant-messenger.com/didache.htm

www.earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache 

Codex Sinaiticus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Sinaiticus

The Codex Sinaiticus is a 4th century uncial manuscript of the Greek Bible which was written between 330 and 350 AD. It originally contained both the OT and NTs but only parts of the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) survive, along with a complete NT, the Epistle of Barnabas, and parts of The Shepherd of Hermas - the implication being that the latter two books may have been considered Biblical canon by the editors of the codex. It is the only uncial manuscript with the complete NT text.

Hoskier counted 3036 differences between the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, but apart from these differences, they are in general agreement with one another:

- Matthew: 656
- Mark: 567
- Luke: 791
- John: 1022
Together: 3036.

The following books of the Old Testament have some verses missing:

- Genesis: 23:19 - 24:46
- Numbers: 5:26 - 7:20
- 1 Chronicles 9:27 - 19:17
- Ezra-Nehemiah (from Esdras 9, 9).

Text New Testament omitted several passages:

- Matthew: 12:47, 16:2-3
- Mark 16:8-20
- Luke 22:43-44 marked by the first corrector as doubtful, but a third corrector removed that mark.
- John 5:4, John 7:53-8:11 (Pericope adulterae), and John 21:25
- Romans doxology followed after 16:23, v. 24 omitted.

As can be read from Mark, the omission of verses 8 to 20 from chapter 16, removes all of the post-resurrection narrative, after Jesus meets the disciples in the garden outside the tomb.

www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080721/lf_nm_life/bible_internet_dc

The Codex Sinaiticus Project - an international collaboration between the British Library, National Library of Russia, St Catherine's Monastery and Leipsig University Library - with the goal of reuniting the entire manuscript in digital format. The current books united within the scope of the project to date are listed at the link below. Translations are being made and may not be available at the time of writing this. It is however possible to view the actual Greek scrolls.

www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en/project/webcontents.aspx 

New Testament

Many people also believe that the Canonical Gospels of the New Testament were written 40 years or so after Christ died by the disciples and close brothers of the disciples.

The four canonical gospels were written to different audiences. They are four different views of Jesus. There are facts and sayings missing from some that are mentioned in others. Their focus and 'purpose' is different, not that there should really be an agenda with a gospel.

Each gospel is by no means a complete record of the life, actions and sayings of Jesus. For example, Luke 2:1-20 tells the story of a group of shepherds that after having been visited by an Angel of the Lord, went to look for Jesus who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. The 'babe' had been recently born. There was no room at the inn in Bethlehem, so one can assume this took place in or immediately outside Bethlehem. It is not specified where the manger was, and in what type of building. Matthew 2:1-14 examines the story of the visit of the 'wise men' (not Kings), who followed the star to Bethlehem, bearing gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. They visited the 'young child' of Jesus in a 'house'. It is not stated how old Jesus was at this time. The wise men 'stood over' him. Now some consider these two accounts contradictory. However, the way most people interpret the accounts is that Jesus was visited by shepherds in or around Bethlehem when newly born. Mary and Joseph then settled down in Bethlehem, after the census had taken place (we assume). When the child was very young, perhaps a few years old or so (we assume), he was visited by the three wise men. After this, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with Jesus to escape Herod's men. These accounts are not inconsistent but require a little extrapolation. It is odd that Luke and Matthew do not both mention these two events.

It could be argued that other, non-canonical gospels also contain facts about the sayings or actions of Jesus, such as the Gospel of Thomas (from the Nag Hammadi library). However, this is difficult to prove, but it is not inconceivable. This is discussed elsewhere.

In only small respects is there any discrepency between them however (e.g. the events following Jesus' resurrection). The fact that the gospels don't completely fit together is not really the point. They were books written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit, but obviously who being flesh had views, interpretations and had a point to get across. That doesn't mean that they are not true of course. To take all these books, and the old testament books as literal historical facts might be considered unwise by some. Large parts are historical facts, but they are not all totally historically correct according to historical records and archeological evidence. The spirit and religious teachings could be considered to be what the Bible is really about. To dismiss the Bible because of any historical inaccuracy would be foolish and missing the point.

The Canonical Gospels could today be integrated into one 'super' gospel (which wouldn't be that hard to do - which is something that happened with the early Aramaic Peshitta Bible). For historical reasons, this will probably not be done in any formal capacity. They were included as four separate gospels to try to make the Bible as universally acceptable as possible, back in the fourth century AD.

Some scholars argue that there has been a degree of amalgamation of different versions of each of the four gospel books which may have been circulating during the fourth century, as well as a little creative editing, to tailor the books to their target audience and to emphasise certain aspects of Jesus background or life. For example, the birth of Jesus in the current city known as Bethlehem may not actually be correct, and his real birthplace may well be further north. However, Jesus had to be shown to be born in the City of David, with the connection to David being emphasised. Unfortunately we may never know as part of the ruins of the village in question has been asphalted over by a main road!

www.archaeology.org/0511/abstracts/jesus.html

www.religioustolerance.org/xmaswwjb.htm

It is postulated that Luke's account of the census being the reason for the pregnant Mary to have come to Bethlehem as being incorrect, examining the writings of contemporary Jewish Historian Josephus, who recorded the activities of Herod in great detail, but never once mentioned an empire-wide census.

www.ankerberg.com/Articles/editors-choice/EC1205W3C.htm

The Roman Emperor Constantine came up with the first formal Bible in 310 AD - Codex Vaticanus. Those books that we now know as the New Testament were formalised and agreed by the Catholic Church, in the Codex Vaticanus, to provide a unity and consistency as to what Christians should actually be reading (or rather be read in churches, as the public distribution of Bibles in people's own language would not occur for 500-1000 years later!) It is likely that those books that emphasized certain aspects of Jesus' nature were included, perhaps John being included as a compromise in some capacity (containing certain gnostic concepts but not the gnostic cosmology). The formation of the 'Bible' is discussed in the section below on Early Christianity.

Obviously there was much debate over what stayed in and what went out, and it is likely that books were removed or omitted that had fallen in disuse by early Christians, that has been written relatively late in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, that didn't quite meet with full agreement and which didn't fit the politics of the early Church.

The Jerome Bible could be perhaps considered a somewhat dubious translation of Greek into Latin. It was the first Latin Vulgate Bible available in Western Europe and was an important version in Western Christianity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome

The Bible was kept in Hebrew, Greek and Latin only until around 1500, and was generally read and translated to Church congregations. No Bibles in other languages were available and Christians in general did not have Bibles to refer to or to study. They had to rely on the interpretation of the Bible versions from Church. The Churches of Western Europe were keen to keep hold of the Bible and thus retain a degree of monopoly and also control over their congregations.

In 1370 in England, John Wycliffe translated the Jerome Bible into English. The Wycliffe Bible was the first English Bible and it was actually illegal! Wycliffe was an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church in the early 14th Century and was a precursor to the Protestant Reformation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_wycliffe

Tindal, translated the original Greek and Hebrew Manuscripts into English in the early 1500s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Tindal

The history of the Bible was discussed in a documentary by Dr Robert Beckford.

www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/bible.html 

Authorised Version of the Bible

Tindal's English version of the Bible was used by King James in 1604, who wanted to unite the Country and also have his own Bible separate from the Catholic Church. So he took this last translation, took a big team of English Biblical scholars encompassing all the different camps, and came up with an amalgamation. The resulting King James Version, a.k.a. KVJ, Authorised Version (AV), was finalised in 1611. It was 85% Tindal.

King James was himself a Freemason. Please see the links below for more information.

www.moriel.org/articles/discernment/ruckmanism/king_james_founder_freemason_lodges.htm

The KJV Bible was unchanged until about 1900 when various newer English Bibles were produced.

The AV Bible with Apocrypha can be read for free at the link below.

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/kjv.browse.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version

The Authorised Version of the Bible issued by King James in 1611 did include the Apocrypha and it was the formal Bible for use in Protestant England! It was widely adopted by both Protestants and Catholics alike. The 1611 AV Bible was originally issued including the Apocrypha (aka The Maccabees Bible), which were deemed to be non-essential but still spiritually inspired books to be included in this Bible.

The Bible has been translated into a number of different versions since the 1611 Bible, e.g. New American Standard Version, New International Version, Revised Standard Version, and Good News Bible are amongst the most popular. The New King James Bible is a version of the King James Bible translation reputed using more modern English. There are various arguments for and against this version as it makes rather unusual changes. My personal opinion is that if you want to read the KJV, then read the KJV and not the NKJV. If you want to read a modern Bible, then read a modern Bible. Please see the section below on Christianisation for more information.

The KJV Bible is now to be retranslated by a group of Vatican approved scholars, incorporating certain elements of the 'Dea Sea Scrolls'. These are literally only certain passages from the books written/stored by the Essenes, one of many Jewish Sects around before the birth of Christ. The Dea Sea Scrolls of course are different versions of books belonging to the Old Testament, and were written at a time of the Roman occupation of Judea. They do not affect the New Testament, which is probably the main area of contemporary debate. They certainly would never include the Nag Hammadi Library, which is reflective of the Gnostic tradition, and mainly concern the events of the New Testament and include completely new gospels and Codexes describing the Gnostic Cosmology, which the Catholic Church, or indeed most other churches, would never accept. It is perhaps ironic that the KJV is now to be re-written by Catholics, whereas in 1611 it's construction was instigated by Protestants. A certain number of Freemasons were involved in the writing of the 1611 Bible, so it will be interesting to see if any Freemasons will again be involved in the re-translation of the KJV. Hopefully it will not make the same 'errors (of judgement)' that the NKJV made.

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/sep/11/books.humanities

I am not knowledgeable enough about the Essenes to ascertain what the general view is amongst Christians. They appear to have displayed some elements of Christianity and ascetism even before the birth of Christ. What influence they actually had on Christianity is hard to determine.

It should be noted that some contemporary scholars consider the Apocrypha (the 'optional books' in some editions of the KJV), those books most often used by Catholics than any other denomination, to reflect the more 'warrior' side of Judaism and Christianity, and these books were used/included by those that wanted to emphasise the dominance side of Christianity. I do not have an opinion about this at this stage. Perhaps this applies to some books of the Apocrypha, but certainly not all e.g. the tale of Daniel in the lion's den. Some of the Apocrypha books seem to me to be 'missing parts' of the Old Testament, whereas others do perhaps seem 'supplemental' in nature. 

Peshitta

The Peshitta is the version of the Bible written in Syriac (an Eastern Aramaic language):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peshitta

The Peshitta Old Testament is the earliest piece of Syriac literature of any length, probably originating in the second century. Whereas the majority of the Early Church relied on the Greek Septuagint, or translations from it, for their Old Testament, the Syriac-speaking church had its text translated directly from the Hebrew text, similar to the proto-Masoretic texts. In some passages the translators have clearly used the Greek Septuagint. Supporters of the Peshitta OT argue that the Greek translation of the Hebrew is problematic in places.

The Peshitta New Testament is a reworking of Old Syriac texts (combined with some Western and some Byzantine renderings) to form a unified version of the scriptures for the Syriac-speaking churches, in the early 5th Century. It however does not include the books 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation. Almost all Syriac scholars agree that the Peshitta gospels are translations of the Greek originals. A minority viewpoint is that the Peshitta represent the original Aramaic New Testament (Aramaic being the actual language of Jesus and his disciples and the first Christian Churches in the East); the Greek New Testament being a translation of the 'original Aramaic NT'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aramaic_primacy

The Peshitta, lightly revised and with missing books added, is the standard Syriac Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition: the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syrian Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Indian Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, the Mar Thoma Church, the Syro-Malabar Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

There are a number of translations of the Peshitta into English, including the Younan Bible, Lamsa Bible, Murdock Bible, Etheridge Bible and Khabouris Codex.

www.aramaicpeshitta.com

The most complete of these versions is arguably The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts, aka the 'Lamsa' Bible, first issued in 1933. This was translated from the original Aramaic Peshitta by Dr George Lamsa. It is argued that this version of the Bible is truer to the original texts. The Lamsa Bible uses ancient Aramaic scrolls for its translation, but in places reverts to the King James Bible where translation becomes difficult. The main area of contension is in the dying words of Jesus, in Matthew 27:46, which the Lamsa Bible translates differently. KJV:"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" vs the Lamsa Bible: "My God, my God, for this I was spared!"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamsa_Bible

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_M._Lamsa

The Lamsa Bible can be read on line at the links below. The first link is the OT, the second being the NT.

www.aramaicpeshitta.com/OTtools/LamsaOT.htm

www.aramaicpeshitta.com/AramaicNTtools/dr_george_lamsa_bible.htm 

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Canon

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia, that was formerly part of the Coptic Orthodox church until 1959, which it was granted its own Patriarch. It is one of the few pre-colonial churches of Sub-Saharan Africa, and is the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches. It is thought to have been formed in 346 AD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_church

www.ethiopiantreasures.toucansurf.com/pages/religion.htm

Some have observed that the Ethiopian Church is a shining example of Christianity working with the traditions of Judaism. The Ethiopian Church regards the Old Testament as as sacred as the New Testament, if not more so. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians observe many Jewish customs such as dietary customs and indeed circumcision, and some believe that Jewish practices and culture in the area predate Christ, which is not unfeasible or that unlikely given the history of the Jewish people. Perhaps the Jewish people should take note that it is possible to embrace both Judaism and Christianity together in a number of forms.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Canon contains a total of 81 books, including the books accepted by other Orthodox Christians.

- The Narrower Canon includes Enoch, Jubilees, and 3 books of the Meqabyan
- The Broader Canon includes all the Narrower Canon, plus 2 Books of the Covenant, four Books of Sinodos, A Book of Clement, and Didascalia.

www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/Text/Canon/ethiopican.html

No one has printed the Broader Canon since the early 1900s. The Haile Selassie Version of the Bible, published in 1962, contains only the Narrower Canon. 

Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)

The Gospel of Mary was acquired by a German scholar in 1896 in Cairo, Egypt. It is known as the Berlin Gnostic Codex. It is written on a 5th Century papyrus but may have originally been written in the 2nd Century AD. It could be viewed as evidence of the Catholic Church suppressing the truth about the role of women in the early church, as evidence of the political struggle between recognition of the Apostles after the death of Christ, or alternatively as total rubbish and a fabrication (wishful thinking). Some regard it as a 'evidence' of Jesus having a relationship and children but this is pure speculation and has no basis in any historical evidence whatsoever.

www.webcom.com/gnosis/library/marygosp.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mary 

Nag Hammadi Library

The Nag Hammadi Library was discovered at Nag Hammadi, which is close to the River Nile in Egypt, in 1945. Many of these were damaged in storage by white ants who ate parts of the scrolls, but all in all they have been preserved in remarkable condition considering the time elapsed. These scrolls date back roughly to 4th Century (at the time of writing of these copies), although the exact date of the writing of the original versions is a matter of debate and could be much earlier, for example the 2nd Century. They were written in Coptic and not Aramaic like the original synoptic gospels. A list of Codexes and scrolls of the NH library can be found at the Nag-Hammadi web site below. The translated versions of the Nag Hamadi library, can be found on the Gnosis.org web site below and on various other web sites.

The Nag Hamadi Library contains 'lost' gospels. Some argue that they are 'lost' and others that they were purposely excluded from the Biblical Canon because they deviated with the accepted view of Jesus and the Trinity in Christian tradition and existing texts of the time. Many of the Gnostic Codexes arrived much later than the synoptic gospels for example. Some of gospels, like The Gospel According to Thomas ('The Secret Sayings of Jesus'), contain minor Gnostic references and some Gnostic concepts and elements (more than in the Gospel of John in the Bible for example), but certainly not the whole gnostic cosmology. Whilst still contested, they are not considered as controversial as some of the others. An analysis of the Gnostic content and ideas in the Gospel of Thomas can be found in the Gnosticism section below. The Gospel According to Thomas is probably the most widely accepted scroll of the Nag Hammadi library and certainly the most complete, accessible and readable.

Other gospels of the Nag Hammadi library are more contentious and contain more controversial Gnostic elements, and more clearly contradict the teachings of the Bible. Some are clearly dualistic or even pagan in interpretation. Some, like the Gospel of Philip, focus more on Jesus' humanity and his relationship with Mary Magdalene, which contradicts the account in the Canonical Gospels - this is in a sense more controversial and political than those texts with a just few Gnostic Elements in them. This is discussed below.

The Nag Hammadi Library is clearly very diverse, and it is up to the individual as to which are given any credibility and which are to be ignored as just someone's opinion and idealised view of how they would like the teachings of Jesus to be (i.e. an excuse to promote the Gnostic message). The Nag Hammadi library has been adopted by Gnostics and Gnostic Christians, but also by many Christians who are not Gnostic Christians.

The Nag Hammadi library is defined and translated below.

www.nag-hammadi.com/manuscripts.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nag_Hammadi_library

www.gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html

www.nag-hammadi.com 

Gospel of Barnabas

The disciple Barnabas is reputed to have written a gospel documenting the 'real' Jesus. Muslim academics claim that the Gospel of Barnabas dates back to perhaps the first century, and claim it was accepted as Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria until 325 AD. Saint Iranaeus (130-200 AD) is claimed to have been a staunch opponent of Paul and his ideas about Jesus and is claimed to have quoted frequently from this gospel in his writings.

www.soundvision.com/Info/Jesus/inIslam.asp

www.wrestedscriptures.com/a08islam/gospelchange.html

The Gospel of Barnabas can be read at the link below.

www.barnabas.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=34&Itemid=61

Two versions of the Gospel of Barnabas have been found, one in Spanish and one in Italian, not Aramaic or Hebrew. Experts have dated it to the 14th or 16th Century at the earliest. The text contains a number of anachronisms and geographical errors. It is generally believed to be a Medieval forgery, a pseudepigraphical work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Barnabas

It is likely that Muslim academics are confusing the Gospel of Barnabas with the Epistle of Barnabas, written in the first Century, or perhaps even the Acts of Barnabas, or have not paid any attention to the document's analysis and associated scrutiny thereof.

The Epistle of Barnabas was written between AD 70 and 135. It is traditionally ascribed to the Barnabas who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, though some ascribe it to another apostolic father of the same name, a 'Barnabas of Alexandria', or simply attribute it to an unknown early Christian teacher. Toward the end of the second century Clement of Alexandria cites the Epistle. It is also appealed to by Origen. Eusebius, however, objected to it and ultimately the epistle disappeared from the appendix to the New Testament, or rather the appendix disappeared with the epistle. The epistle generally sided with the Pauline view of Christianity and is not considered Gnostic in general. Perhaps the association of the Epistle of Barnabas with Clement of Alexandria is behind the Muslim academic claim that the 'Gospel of Barnabas' was part of the accepted canon of the Churches of Alexandria at this time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_of_Barnabas

The Acts of Barnabas has been identified by its use of language as a 5th Century AD work. The text of the pseudepigraphical (falsely attrituted work of the) Acts of Barnabas claims to identify its author as 'John Mark', the companion of Paul, as if writing an account of Barnabas, the Cypriot Jew who was a member of the earliest church at Jerusalem. The convert Saul was welcomed into the apostolic community through the services of Barnabas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_Barnabas

Saint Irenaeus was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, now Lyons, France. He was an early church father and apologist, and first great Catholic theologian. His writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He was a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna, who was said to be a disciple of John the Evangelist. His most famous book 'Against Heresies' (180 AD) was a detailed attack on Gnosticism. More recent findings from Nag Hammadi however show that Irenaeus' view of Gnosticism and his claims were highly inaccurate. Perhaps Muslim academics believe he quoted from the Epistle of Barnabas, which they are perhaps confusing with the Gospel of Barnabas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irenaeus

This is not to say that the Muslim view of Jesus is necessarily wrong, but that the evidence cited could be considered as highly flawed and inaccurate.

Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus and the concept of the Trinity, but believe Jesus to be a prophet, a man born of immaculate conception of Mary and the Holy Spirit; a man who was miraculously endowed by God and able to perform miracles; and who did not die on the cross; there being no physical resurrection but Jesus was carried up to God in a spiritual resurrection.

Qur'an 4:156-157: (156)And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. (157) But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise.

Muslim academics claim that Paul changed Christian doctrines and incorporated Pagan Roman Traditions and Platonic philosophy. Paul is considered to have added the following ideas to Christianity:

1) That Jesus is the Son of God
2) The concept of Atonement
3) The renunciation of the Law of the Torah

It is claimed that Paul did this to try to win over the Gentiles (non-Jews) and that the actual followers of Jesus and those who had known Jesus strongly resisted these ideas. This does not sound implausible, however, the evidence cited is flawed. Muslim academics often point to the Gospel of Barnabas as evidence of the above. 

Crusades and their Historical Legacy

Islam, Christiantiy and Judaism co-existed in relative harmony in Cordoba, the cultural and scientific capital of Europe, during the Moorish occupation of Andalucia in Spain during the 10th Century, for example, and one should not assume that they are incompatible on religious or cultural grounds by default, on account of modern historical events, nor that fundamentalism and politicisation is by default part of these faiths. Of course, Cordoba was not the model of religious harmony, as non-Muslims were generally treated like second class citizens, and there was an underlying resentment of the Muslim occupation. But beyond this, there was a great deal of harmony in the society, more than we see anywhere today. Once the Moors left Spain, Christian kings, whilst on occasion spoiling Mosques to Christianise them as a kind of insult to Islam and a representation of religious victory, were in many cases still inspired by Moorish architecture and culture, which was often viewed as being more evolved and superior. For example, the 14th Century Alczar palace was build in the same style as the Alhambra. Southern Spain would cease to be the cultural and scientific centre of Europe. One might even argue that Spanish palate for pork and pork based food products was perhaps a reaction to the Islamic past, and a sign of cultural and religious defiance. The Crusades can be seen as an inferior or more backward culture attacking a more sophisticated one (in terms of philosophy, education, science and culture). During the latter half of the last millennium, Islamic countries and empires have been in decline with Europe and later the Americas rising to economic dominance in the world. Christianity itself has declined as well as Islam, and it is possible that in the Middle East there is a socio-economic rivalry of the West, and a jealousy of prosperity which is used by unscrupulous religious and political figures for politicial end, turning it into a religious issue.

The Crusades of the Holy Land by Roman sponsored forces were never viewed by the Arabs as being a religious war, despite the religious rhetoric, but merely as a brave attempt at imperialistic style conquest. Whilst there were some religious fundamentalists amongst their ranks, most of the Crusaders were motivated by money (being very poor) and the chance to sack and pillage those they defeated, and in some cases to rape their women (not unlike the Vikings). Raiding loot has been a common theme amongst invading armies for several millennia. King Richard's Crusaders, whilst on route to the Holy Land, stopped off at Lisbon and the soldiers attacked the city, looting, killing Jews and Muslims, burning down homes and raping women. Many were arrested and only released when their ships were about to leave dock.

The Muslims reconquest of the Holy Land and Bizantium was also just a conquest for land and spreading Islam. It was not anti-Christian as such. Indeed for all the religious rhetoric of the Crusaders, the Christian inhabitants of the captured territories got along very well with the Islamic inhabitants. The Crusaders were not really embodying Christian values in any sense nor seeking to spread Christianity as they actually invaded and sacked the Orthodox Christian captial Constantinope (named after the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine)! Ironically, the Byzantine Empire, the largest Christian Empire at the time, had requested the assistance of the Pope against invading Muslim forces. It was really just about showing who was boss and settling old scores as much as capturing land and seizing wealth. Recruits were motivated by fictitious stories of acts of barbarism by moslems against Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem, and by promises of salvation if one died in combat in this 'Holy War'. The Crusades were pitched by the Pope and religious leaders as a Holy War, as opposed to necessary/defensive war that was still sinful (as had been the previous attitude towards war by Christian church leaders). They inspired an unprecedented level of religious fanaticism and desire for bloodshed in the name of religion. There were even isolated incidents of cannibalism, documented by both Christian forces and Islamic historians of the time, impaling 'pagan' (i.e. Muslim) children on spits and boiling them - although such incidents were probably very rare and were no doubt a result of starvation. Butching men, women and children was quite commonplace (by both sides) during the Crusades. Yet the Crusaders were far from widely accepted as righteous warriors by Christians at the time, and the Byzantines were initially horrified by the first Crusaders that arrived on their doorstep.

It should be noted that Saladin, the Kurdish ruler and most powerful leader in the Middle East of the day, recruited muslims using similar religious rhetoric as the Crusaders in order drum up support for the recapture of the Muslim city of Jerusalem and land of Palestine for its original inhabitants; and for his own benefit, to extend his empire and make a name for himself. He was however regarded highly by King Richard at the time and was close friends with many senior European figures. He had no wish to slaughter the Crusaders and their communities, but merely to recapture the land and re-establish 'muslim' control or his control over the territories. Although recruiting on religious grounds, he was not anti-Christian, and was aware of the history of Christianity in the Middle East, in Jerusalem, and indeed that Syria had been Christian (not from the West but from Jerusalem) long before it became a Moslem nation. Saladin was the most successful Muslim leader in Islamic history in terms of conquest of land, and is regarded as a hero by many Muslims today. Many Muslim political leaders have identified with him (in their dreams!) However, he is not the anti-Christian and anti-Zionist figure that he is made out to be by modern Muslim extremists. Such people conveniently ignore the facts about him and history, and choose to reinterpret history for their own benefit.

The Crusades were very much forgotten in the Middle East once the Crusaders were driven out and the lands recaptured, pushing Muslim control even further north than ever before, and actually capturing much of the Byzantine Empire and beyond. Memories of the Crusades were awakened again however during the European Colonial period, when empires spread into Northern Africa and India, although there really is no comparison between the Crusades and Colonial rule. During the WWI, the Germans sided with Austro-Hungary and the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which controlled Jerusalem, and when the Allied Forces came to Jerusalem, leaders were very conscious about the sensitivity about the Crusades. However, the Western media was very quick to draw parallels and make insensitive comments about the latest Crusade. The subsequent British occupation and management of Palestine was handled rather badly, and the influx of Jews and expulsion of Palestinians from their land and separation of Muslims from Jews was regarded as similar to Crusader settlements and expulsion/slaughter of Muslims. Israelis or Zionists were later compared with and thought of as Crusaders by many Islamic Extremists.

Today there is still a huge amount of insecurity and ill feeling in the Muslim world towards the west, and the perception is that the Crusades never actually ended. This is a modern interpretation of what the Crusades were about. Indeed it is just socio-economic ill feeling essentially and feeling of emasculation. Muslim countries resent having anything thrust up on them or that comes from the 'West', even if it is actually what they want (e.g. democracy or economic development), as a matter of principle. By addressing these socio-economic issues and encouraging the countries in question to be seen to be developing initiatives themselves, they will be more lively to succeed, and arrive at a point of greater religious tolerance and mutual understanding between two of the great monotheistic religions that have more in common than they would like to admit.

Some view the Crusaders, pretending to represent Christian values, but really just after land and stealing wealth, are similar to the interventions of the West in the Middle East, for example, the invasions of Iraq on the pretext of anti-terrorism but 'in actuality' an attempt to secure oil resources and open the country up to corporate interests. However, this is a very expensive theft, and the value of the oil has been paid many many times over by American tax payers and the lives of inhabitants and Western soldiers alike.

Modern Islamic fundamentalism and indeed terrorism associated with Al Qaeda can be seen as the Crusader ethic living on today. The Christian instigators of the Crusades were the creators of modern Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in a sense. Al Qaeda capitalise on the ill feeling about the Crusades in the Muslim world by referring to Westerners (including any Christian denomination and indeed anyone European or American) as Crusaders, manipulating people's feelings to gain support, wanting to expel the 'Crusaders' from 'Muslim soil' (as they did 1000 years ago) regardless of whether they are there to protect democracy or not. There is still a fundamental lack of cultural appreciation about the effect of the Crusades in the minds of modern Muslims, and the actual slaughter that went on during the Crusades, on the request of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church seems to have conveniently forgotten about this. Westerners use the term 'Crusade' in casual conversation to mean a committed effort to do a particular task, unaware of its offensive connotations amongst Muslims. If we were to describe an attempt to eradicate inefficiency in the office as a 'holocaust', we might find it similarly distasteful. Modern conflict in Palestine is clearly fuelled to some extent by perceptions of the Crusades, with an Islamic Extremist desire to 'expel all infidels from the Holy Land', i.e. modern day Jews. Of course, not all or indeed most Muslims do not share this view, but many are manipulated by extremists into joining their cause. George W. Bush displayed his lack of cultural appreciation and ignorance in his famous speech after 911, when he talked of a 'Crusade...a war on terror'. This was not heard favourably by the Muslim world, many of whom believe the Crusades are still in effect on some level today, hear such a statement from the world's biggest superpower, and 'world policeman', and Christian nation (debatable if you view the Constitution). We surely should expect more professionalism from our politicians that such ignorant and incompetent outbursts, which cause huge damage to international relations and probably indirectly increased the death toll of fighters on all sides in the Iraqi conflict. We are still experiencing the hangover of 'religious' violence today, and appreciating that will help to some extent to bring together warring peoples and increase religious tolerance and mutual cultural respect. 

The Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther (1483-1546), the founder of Lutheranism and arguably the founder of Protestantism also, started his campaign against the Catholic Church by writing a paper on why 'indulgences' (pardons that were sold to Catholics that were signed by the Pope and which claimed to forgive all one's sins) were wrong, which struck a chord with Germans at the time. He was not really looking however to reform the Catholic Church (or join the Orthodox Church instead), but sought to fight the Catholic Church and reject it. He did not see that one needed a mediator between himself and God, one's relationship being a personal one. He went ahead and translated the Bible into German, which was previously only available in Latin and translated and read out to congregations by Priests. He also controversially called the Roman Catholic Pope the Antichrist. He was excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther

Ironically his legacy was not one of increased spiritual insight and understanding, but to a large extent one of bloodshed and division. Many centuries of conflict between Protestants and Catholics unfolded which still persists to this day in places like Northern Ireland. Protestantism was persecuted in many countries before it took hold. For example, in France, in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of August 1572, Catholics (mainly ordinary people) annihilated between 30,000 and 100,000 Huguenots across France in an act of 'cleansing spiritual rot' from their communities that might result in adverse judgement from God and going to Hell.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Bartholomew%27s_Day_massacre

During the Protestant Reformation, many newly formed Protestant countries persecuted and massacred the Catholics. This was partly fueled by religious zeal, Protestants believing Catholics to be servants of the Antichrist, and by killing Catholics one was doing God's work and even perhaps going to heaven; a little like Catholic Crusaders before them felt that by butchering Muslims and Orthodox Christians they were doing the same. The Protestant Reformation in England was only instigated by Henry VIII for sexual reasons, in that he wanted a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and to marry Ann-Boleyn, so she could bear him a son, whom he later had beheaded anyway. Henry did not take the news from Rome well that he could not divorce, so decided to make himself the head of the Church of England. He had little interest in Lutheranism before this, and in fact strongly opposed Luther's ideas and was vehemently Catholic. However, he liked to get his own way, and went on to persecute Catholics in England, having many executed who refused to convert to Protestantism, and raiding the wealth of the Catholic Church in England (which was often used for the service of the community, e.g. maintaining libraries etc.) for his own benefit. Even today, many extremist Protestant Priests still insist that the Pope is the Antichrist and resent Catholic dogma, but seem strangely unrepentent about their own form of religious persecution that was thrust upon Catholics only a few hundred years ago. Luther was not to know what would happen as a result of what he started, but it can be said that whilst there were many positive aspects to the Protestant Reformation, there were equally many disasterous aspects that are still being felt today with anti-Catholic feeling and prejudice in many West European countries. Some estimate that one million people were slaughtered during this time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_reformation 

Christianity and Colonialism

The Protestant Reformation arguably also lead to secularism and free market capitalism, which one may regard as being a good thing or not! Today Christianity is associated with the West and with capitalism, but this is a very Western Centric way of looking at Christianity. Of course, traditionally, Christianity, whilst initially a Middle Eastern religion, with Middle Eastern protagonists, spread outwards to North East Africa, but also further north, to the Gentiles, into Europe. Here it remained the predominant religion of both Eastern and Western Europe. Christianity was thus seen by many as the 'white European's religion' for the next in its first 1800 years. During that time , the majority of it at least in Western Europe being Catholic, was spent homogenising the faith and stamping out variants and different types of Christian faiths, or indeed other faiths, including anything resembling witchcraft, Gnosticism, the Cathars and so on; and fighting Islamic forces (at various times - being more a territorial issue than a religious issue). The Knights Templar even fell victim to this themselves, although mainly for political and economical reasons (they were too wealthy and powerful). Whilst earlier there had been a Catholic vs Orthodox struggle, it later turned into a Protestant vs Catholic struggle.

During the colonial era, Western Europeans, when setting up new colonies, set about trying to convert the native populations they encountered in India, Africa and Central and South America to their own denomination of Christianity. However this was not just Christianity, it was a Western European interpretation of it. Jesus and Mary had always been seen as being 'white'. And much of the healing and driving out of spirits had disappeared from European Christianity. The colonial powers sought to exploit and control the local populations, but also sought to control their minds and souls too, by converting them to Christianity. The Colonial invaders saw their subjects often with disdain, being culturally inferior and as pagan heathens, knowing what was best for them. In Western Africa, nearly 30 million were sold as slaves (by local 'black' rulers and Muslim traders). In Latin America, entire populations were nearly wiped out by disease that the Spanish and Portugese invaders brought with them. Not too dissimilar in concept to today's Western Nations and indeed the United Nations interfering in the national problems of developing countries and indeed in the Middle East.

The colonial powers sought to displace indigenous culture, replacing it with their own, and try to make the locals more European - including forcing Christianity on local populations. This was however not very successful a strategy until the local populations were able to take Christianity and make it their own, i.e. assimilating it into their own culture and to some extent their old pagan (or existing) religious and cultural traditions (Christianisation). The figures of Jesus and Mary were no longer white faces, but were made to represent the local indigenous peoples. In Africa, many of the indigenous peoples did not take up European style Christianity as it had little relevance to them, and they felt that it was fake or theoretical in some sense, i.e. if you cannot touch it, feel it, taste it or see it, it is not real. Therefore the God of the Europeans was not real. It was only really when indigenous priests spread the message of God, having an understanding of indigenous pagan traditions, culture and religion, that they were able to communicate the faith to people in a way that they could relate to and understand. Pagan Africans believed in spirits and healing, and this is why charismatic Christian denominations like Pentecostalism has spread so widely. In fact, one in four Christians are Pentecostal and/or Charismatic. And now 1/3 of the world's population is Christian. But not as many of us know it. Those ethnocentric Christians who like quiet and orderly Church services where people are not behaving too enthusiastically may have started to become worried and feel 'threatened'. For a long time they felt they were the proprietors of Christianity, but that is no longer the case.

Whilst this overall trend may have many good points, including increased passion in religion, vitality and 'power', more experience of the Holy Sprit, i.e. a more intimate relationship with faith, it may also have some negative characteristics (or positive depending on your perspective), including intolerance towards homosexuals and other religions, liberalism, freedom of interpretation of the Bible and the personal relationship with God, belief in the Bible being the literal word of God (i.e. creationism and a somewhat 'anti-scientific' bias, or at least only endorsing science that does not contradict the Bible), etc. How opponents of this view could argue that Europeans have only become more secular and liberal in their outlook because their faith has lost much of its meaning and power and they are looking for ways of supplementing it because it is a hollow shell of its former self and if they were truly religious, then they would not be so concerned with such matters and would focus more on God.

I am not certain of the origin of American Evangelical Christianity, as to whether it is homegrown or whether it has actually been imported from South America or Africa and 'Americanised' into the 'white causasian' communities. This has however been exported to Europe in recent years. Evangelicals are often looked on with some distaste by traditional European Christians, as being uncontrolled and hysterical, rejecting traditional hymns in favour of modern compositions, acoustic guitar based 'worship music', gospel influences, and indeed the speaking in tongues, people falling over and even animal noises.. However, traditional Protestant and Catholic Christians could be viewed as missing a large part of the message of the Bible about the Holy Spirit, and their services being excessively dull, restrainted and emotionally and spiritually constipated.

Now ironically we have a situation where Europe is no longer the main home of Christianity. Logic would dictate that the Middle East should be the stronghold of Christianity, but it never really was. Clearly some nations were Christian (from after the time of Christ) until they were overrun by Muslim invaders, but they were more the exception than the rule. But now we have a situation where Latin America, Asia and in particular Africa, are actually where the Christianity is growing the fastest, and is being re-exported back to Europe. There are more Anglicans in Africa than there are in Western Europe. Therefore it is only logical that these Anglicans should expert more and more influence on the Anglican church as a whole. African Christians view themselves as representing the original Christianity, and Europe as having lost it's way, and looking to convert Europe back to proper Christianity! This is something the colonial rulers of the past perhaps had never counted on happening!

However, as mentioned above, not all Christian nations outside of Europe had Christianity thrust upon them. This is a very European-centric perspective. Syria was a Christian nation for many years. Indeed, Lebanon still is. Egypt and Ethiopia were also Christian nations, from the middle of the first Century AD, ironically whilst Rome was still party to pagan rulers. The Orthodox Church is said to predate the Roman Catholic Church, and is considered the first Christian Church - the Catholic Church being a later evolution of it, which the Orthodox churches never fully assimilated with, resulting in the formal Great Schism in the 1054. It should be noted that Orthodoxy has not been responsible for the crimes against humanity to the same (if any) extent that Catholicism and Protestantism have been in historical terms, for misguided, divisive and insecure reasons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East-West_Schism

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name of the largest Christian church in Egypt. Egypt is named as the place in the New Testament that the Holy family sought refuge after fleeing from Judea. The Egyptian Church is more than 19 centuries old. Egypt is frequently referenced in the Old Testament.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_Orthodox_Church_of_Alexandria

The first Christians in Egypt were mostly Alexandrian Jews (e.g. Theophilus). The church was founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist, believed to be the apostle, the author of the Gospel of Mark, and a companion of Saint Peter. He is believed to have been the first Bishop of Alexandria and the first Pope of Alexandria. He is regarded as the founded of African Christianity and his evangelistic symbol is the lion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Mark

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia, that was formerly part of the Coptic Orthodox church until 1959, which it was granted its own Patriarch. It is one of the few pre-colonial churches of Sub-Saharan Africa, and is the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches. It is thought to have been formed in 346 AD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_church

www.ethiopiantreasures.toucansurf.com/pages/religion.htm

Some have observed that the Ethiopian Church is a shining example of Christianity working with the traditions of Judaism. The Ethiopian Church regards the Old Testament as as sacred as the New Testament, if not more so. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians observe many Jewish customs such as dietary customs and indeed circumcision, and some believe that Jewish practices and culture in the area predate Christ, which is not unfeasible or that unlikely given the history of the Jewish people. Perhaps the Jewish people should take note that it is possible to embrace both Judaism and Christianity together in a number of forms.

www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/Text/Canon/ethiopican.html

Many Afro-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans regard Ethiopia and Egyptian churches as an inspiration, as Africans choosing Christianity and not having it thrust upon them; and indeed Ethiopia which was the only nation to stand up to colonial invasion until the 2nd world war.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity differs in many respects to its Western European counterpart, Catholicism and Protestantism. One of the main differences is in approach. In Orthodoxy, one of the main principles is to spiritually become closer together, to become one with God, and more Christ-like, whereas Catholicism always held that God was intangible and could never be directly experienced by mere sinners or mortals. Eastern Orthodoxy is rich in symbolism and metaphor in its rituals, full of feeling and sensation, whereas Protestantism is rather dry and intellectually-based in comparison.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Orthodox_Church 

Mormonism and the Church of Latter Day Saints

'Mormonism is a term used to describe the religious, ideological, and cultural elements of certain branches of the Latter Day Saint movement, and specifically, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The term derives from the word Mormon, which was originally used as a pejorative term to describe those who believe in the Book of Mormon, a sacred text that adherents believe to be "another testament of Jesus Christ" and testifies of the Bible as part of the religion's canon. Today, Mormonism is used in reference to the Utah-based LDS Church, including cultural Mormons, several smaller denominations, and sects of Mormon fundamentalism whose adherents embrace the term despite opposition by the LDS Church. Most other Latter Day Saint movement denominations oppose use of the term in reference to their faith, and such usage is now rare even though that is what they have been called until modern usage.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism

www.ontruth.com/ldsatonement.htm

The Book of Mormon can be read on line at the link below.

http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/contents

Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS, produced a work in 1835 called The Book of Abraham. This he claimed was based on his divine gift for translation, whereby he translated an Egyptian scroll, which he claimed was 'a translation of some ancient records ... purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus'. The scroll itself when properly translated was of course nothing of the sort. It would appear that Joseph Smith had gotten a little carried away with his religious zeal and had started to exhibit slightly psychotic behaviour - where it is not uncommon to believe that one has superpowers. It is possible that he was lying of course but I favour the former explanation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham

Mormonism does not have a concept of the Trinity, but instead has an Arianist view of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as separate Gods. Mormonism is regarded as Polytheistic by many Christians, which although acknowledged by Mormons, only one God is actually worshipped. Please see the Monotheism page for more information about different versions of the Trinity and Arianism.

'The relationship between Freemasonry and the Latter Day Saint movement began early in the history of Mormonism. Mormonism began during the wave of Anti-Masonry that struck the United States in the 1830s and 1840s. Despite this, Joseph Smith, Jr. and many of the Church founders were Freemasons, and started a lodge in Nauvoo, Illinois in March of 1842. There are some similarities between Mormon temple worship and symbolism and the stories and symbols of Freemasonry, though there are also many unique aspects to both that are also worth considering. In modern times, the LDS Church holds no position for or against the compatibility of Masonry with LDS doctrine.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemasonry_and_the_Latter_Day_Saint_movement

Mormonism can be seen as an all American Christianity, compared with other types of Christianity that were imported from Europe. This differs from the imported variants and denominations as it views the (native?) American people as being the lost tribe of Israel, descended from the Prophet Lehi, that migrated to the Americas in 600 B.C. There is no historical record to justify these claims. There is no archeological evidence to back this up. Except for the Book of Mormon, the final section written by Mormon in approximately 400 A.D., which Chronicles the history of this lost tribe of Israel between 600 B.C. and 400 A.D, and the revelation of Jesus Christ to this 'people' after his death and until 400 A.D. As the Old Testament, this book is deemed to have been written directly by 'prophets'. There was only one copy apparently in existence which was scribed onto Gold Plates by Moroni, the son of Mormon, and buried in 421 A.D. on a hill in New York state, to be 'discovered' by the child Joseph Smith in 1827. Joseph Smith claimed to have been informed of their existence in 1823 by the 'angel Moroni', but not permitted to find them until 1827. The Book of Mormon was written in 'reformed Egyptian' and was translated by Joseph Smith reputedly with divine assistance and in record time, verbally giving the translation over to scribes to record. The angel Moroni took back the plates in 1828, as he felt that Joseph had given them over to the hands of the wicked. He gave the plates back to Joseph though, allowing him to complete the translation before 'giving them back to the angel'. There is therefore no evidence of the plates nor of this lost tribe of Israel but for Joseph Smith's dictation. The testimony of a small handful of witnesses to attest that the plates were real does exist, but Jospeh was very secretive and did not wish to show them to many people at all, to keep them from the 'hands of the wicked'. Is this story credible? Or was it an attempt by Joseph Smith to create an all American type of Christianity, that gave America a Biblical significance and ethnic religious identity, and direct lineage to the ancient Israel, which it lacked as a recent European colony and displacement of Native Americans in the New World, with little history or tradition beyond the modern.

www.jefflindsay.com/BOMIntro.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_plates

Where did these people live, how did they live and where are the remnants of their ancient towns and cities? Where are their traditions to be found (pre 1800s)? This would imply that American WASPs are a mixture of European settlers from the last few hundred years, and Jews who had been there concurrently with native Americans since 600 B.C. No record of discovering non-Native Americans in North America by the European immigrants exists. Jesus is deemed to have appeared to both the aspostles in Israel and also to the 'lost tribe of Israel' in America. Jesus is often depicted in Mormon art as looking all American (WASP) in appearance, and very smart. The figure of Jesus is seen to be re-interpreted and appropriated by each culture that adopts Christianity. Is this realistic? Polygyny is a form of Polygamy, whereby a man is allowed to take multiple wives or sexual partners concurrently (as opposed to a woman being allowed to take multiple male partners or husbands).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygyny

Polygyny was a core practice by the early LSD church. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormonism, himself had 34 wives. This practice continues to this day within Fundamentalist Mormonism. LDS Polygyny is defined and discussed at the links below.

www.religioustolerance.org/lds_poly.htm

www.lds-mormon.com/mormon_polygamy.shtml

www.polygamy-faq.com/history.php

www.polygamy-faq.com/chronology.php

One example of Polygyny is the Mormon fundamentalist hamlet of Centennial Park in Arizona, where most of the 1500 inhabitants live a polygynist lifestyle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_fundamentalism#Centennial_Park_group

A Mormon web site justifying polygyny is found below.

www.mormon-polygamy.org

'Christian' web sites examining polygyny are found below.

www.chick.com/bc/1985/mormonism.asp

www.bible-truth.org/LDSpolygamy.html

www.geocities.com/plygkid

A fringe mormon brewery company outside of Salt Lake City has 'amusingly' created its own Polygamy Porter beer!

Many inverted pentagrams have been carved onto both the exterior and interior of the Mormon temple in Nauvoo, Illinois. Several are located on the perimeter of the temple and as many as 138 inverted stars can be found in the assembly room. Representations of the sun could be compared with contemporary usage of the Sun God and Illuminist representations of Ancient Egyptian Mysticism.



Source: Unknown.

This is discussed at the link below. Mormons state that this symbol has had a positive, non-occult connotation for a long time, and only recently been appropriated by Satanists. However, Mormonism began in the 19th Century, and the occult use of the pentagram in witchcraft long predates this. The inverted pengram as a symbol of Satanism has probably only existed for the last couple of hundred years. Anyone care to clarify?

www.mrm.org/topics/mormon-temple/nauvoo-pentagrams

As can be seen in the section above, the pentagram was in use by both Christians, Jews and pagans prior to the adoption of it by the Mormons. However, the Mormons adopted the inverted pentagram, which was used by the Jews in and around 400 BC, but which was mainly used as a magical symbol from the 16th Century onwards. Christianity never used an inverted pentagram to represent the wounds of Christ.

A common argument used by Mormons is that the Swastika was a symbol of the Sun God or 'good luck' in Tibet and India, but was appropriated by the Nazi Party of German in the 1930s and had a negative connotation ever since. Whilst partially correct, this does not take into account that the Nazis actually changed the Swastika symbol, but turning it through 45 degrees and dispensing with the four dots. Adolf Hitler and other senior Nazis had a fascination with the occult and occult symobls. One could also argue from a Christian perspective that the 'Sun God' is perhaps the same as 'Satan' in any case, although this is of course open to debate by those of other faiths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika 

Haile Selassie I and Rastafarianism



Haile Selassie I lived from 1892 to 1975. Born with the name Tafari Makonnen, he was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He was also head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He was instrumental in the formation of the African Union and was regarded generally as a masterful statesman, within Ethiopia and indeed in Africa. He resisted modernisation and was regarded by some as keeping Ethiopia in the dark ages. His fall from Grace began probably in 1972, when a severe famine broke out, mostly in Wollo, northeastern Ethiopia, as well as in some parts of Tigray, which has been estimated to have killed 40,000 to 80,000 Ethiopians between 1972-74. In 1974 he was deposed in a Soviet-backed Communist revolution and he died in 1975.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haile_Selassie_I_of_Ethiopia

He was seen by Rastafarians as being the God incarnate (as being the return of the Messiah (the Second Coming and part of the trinity), despite having mortal parents and never actually stating that he was God - and there not having been a Final Judgement and the End of the World as prophecised in the Book of Revelation (which was supposed to follow the return of Jesus the Messiah). Rastafarians are the only Christian sect of significance that believe the Second Coming has already taken place, and that we are already in Judgement Time (i.e. the Last Judgement). This is not quite how the New Testament describes the return of Christ and the end of days, as both events happen together. Christians and Moslems on the other hand are still waiting for the return of Jesus from Heaven.

One may perhaps view Rastafarianism from the Judaic perspective, in that God cannot become man, and man cannot become God, and in this sense, Rastafarianism displays elements of Paganism. Until his visit to Jamaica in 1966, he had never confirmed nor denied that he was divine. During his visit he specifically declined to refute the Rastafari belief that he was God. He no doubt liked the veneration and attention. After his return to Ethiopia, he dispatched Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq Mandefro to the Caribbean to help draw Rastafarians and other West Indians to the Ethiopian church and, according to some sources, denied his divinity. Rastafarians by large denied that the bones that were buried at his funeral in 1975 (attended by Rita Marley) were actually his, and some deny that he actually died at all.

Haile Selassie I claimed a lineage from King Solomon and also the House of David.

www.imperialethiopia.org/solomonids.htm

Haile Selassie's wife is reputed to be a descendent of Muhammed.

www.imperialethiopia.org/sharifs.htm

Rastafarians use Biblical names such as "Lord of Lords", "King of Kings" and "Conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah" for Haile Selassie I. These terms had been used throughout history to describe Ethiopian Emperors, but with the crowning of Haile Selassie I they were seen as evidence that supported his divine status.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rastafarianism

The Wollo region had regular famines, but none were as severe as that which struck in 1972-1974. One might argue that someone who is 'God' would have been 'all seeing' and more aware of what was going on in his own country. In addition, one could argue that someone who had luxurious feasts and a high standard of living whilst 80,000 people starved to death cannot really be representative of a caring God or in any sense Divine. This was going on during other famines also. Whilst he enjoyed much success in his earlier career as a politican and leader, he was by no means perfect and perhaps prevented infrastructure development from taking place that might have averted all the aforementioned famines.

Except for the Wollo Famine, he was regarded very highly by 'black' Africans and Jamaicans, as a figure of African unity (the famine is conveniently forgotten by Rastafarians). It is likely that his lineage and role in African politics held him in high regard as figure of 'black'/Afro-Caribbean political and social influence.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., National Hero of Jamaica (1887-1940), was a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, Black nationalist, orator, and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. He promoted independent 'black' commerce and industry, and the emigration of 'blacks' to Africa. He also held that 'whites' were an inferior race and that God was 'black'. He was arrested in 1922 for mail fruad and deported to Jamaica. Marcus Garvey was also regarded as a key figure in the 'black' struggle, and is regarded by Rastafarianism as being a prophet (along with Bob Marley). Garvey is also highly regarded by the Nation of Islam.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Garvey

A discussion on 'black' ideology and the use and inspiration of 'black' power amongst 'black' people in the last two centuries in helping to boost the self-image of Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Americans, and counter many of the negative psychological consequences of the legacy of slavery and a lack of economic power, but also perpetuating racial tension and racism on both sides (i.e. exploring both positive and negative aspects), and how it relates to Anthropological theories on 'race' and 'ethnicity', can be found in the Psychology section under Identity and Difference. Clearly, 'black' consciousness has considerably evolved and there is no arguably no need for such racialist/racist ideologies any longer, with a number of positive 'black' role models in a variety of careers for the youth to aspire to (although arguably not quite enough!)

Whilst many of us may well enjoy Reggae and some aspects of the attitude and spirituality of Rastafarians, I find it personally difficult to take the belief in Haile Selassie I being God seriously and finds the use of marijuana by Rastafarians rather dubious, although in many senses its use is much more psychologically healthy than its use by non-Rastafarians who use it as a drug to 'get high'. I also take issue with the racial exclusivity of Rastafarianism, which is not a sign of a worthwhile religion in his opinion. It could also be argued that Haile Selassie never listened to Reggae music, was an Orthodox Christian and did not smoke marijuana, and liked to drink wine and eat Swedish meatballs in moderation. Why should the religion that was inspired by him preach what he never actually practised himself? Perhaps Rastafarians should just consider becoming Orthodox Christians! Perhaps Rastafarians see their religion as just an 'add on' to Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity that does not conflict with this base belief. Or perhaps not.

It should be noted that the Biblical Jesus (fact or fiction) never lived in a Palace, and did not live a luxurious lifestyle. Is it befitting for an 'incarnation of God' to live in such a luxurious manner when his fellow citizens are starving? And can religion and politics ever really co-exist comfortably in this sense? Can the 'incarnation of God' really be a stateman, diplomat and husband? If God actually ruled your country, then you would expect perfection in some sense, as God is perfection and all knowing. Perhaps the weakest link might be the civil servants employed by 'God', but then 'God' would not probably need very many, being all knowing, and would know which ones were worth keeping. Being all knowing would surely make being an Emperor much easier and more effective. Does Haile Selassie's performance as an Emperor really suggest his actually being 'God'? Or was he just put on a pedestal as he was down to earth, had 'good breeding', and did a great deal for Africa as a whole (largely), despite his obvious errors, faults and arguably his cowardice (during the Fascist invasion). Black people, especially Afro-Caribbeans, at that time were clearly looking for a spiritual leader and perhaps he fitted the bill.

Haile Selassie was an honorary member of a large number of Orders of Knighthood from a large number of countries around the world. A full list can be found on Wikipedia. These connections did not however bring Ethiopia any assistance from the League of Nations nor from Europe during the Italian Fascist invasion of Ethiopia from 1935-36. Haile Selassie even fled the country for French Somaliland on 2 May 1936, during the Italian invasion, which was resented by many Ethiopians, who were expecting their emperor to be a warrior. It was only when Italy entered WWII on the side of Nazi Germany in 1940 that support from the British arrived. The Fascists were eventually completely driven out in 1941. It should be noted that Haile Selassie fled the country

www.country-studies.com/ethiopia/mussolini's-invasion-and-the-italian-occupation.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Italo-Abyssinian_War

Portuguese Military Order of Christ, formed in 1318, was the heritage of the Knights Templar, after the Knights Templars were suppressed in 1312. The Order of Christ and the Knights Templar had a history in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Both secret/private societies are said to have been precursors to Freemasonry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Christ_(Portugal)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_templar

The Knights Templar had a base in Ethiopia under Emperor Lalibela, who later expelled them. While in Ethiopia, the Templars were said to have borrowed heavily from the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. For example, the Templar Cross pattee is that of the Ethiopian Church. Templars also wore a cord around their necks in imitation of the religious cord owrn by Ethiopian Christians, known as the Matab. Ethiopian Christians believe that as St Peter was baptising in the River Jordan, he would cut a string from his prayer shawl to tie around the newly baptised person's neck. Coptic tradition is still to give out such cords at baptisms, and it is also popular in Slavic Orthodox Churches to wear Crosses on string cords, rather than chains. Perhaps their long white robes were reminiscent of the prayer shawls worn by Coptic Ethiopian Christians. The Templars bought back to Europe the riches and traditions from Africa, including chess and various medical practices.

www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/articles/alex_roman/masons.htm

It can thus be said that Ethiopia as a whole had 'pre-masonic' connections to the Knights Templar, the precursor to Freemasonry.

A history of religion in Ethiopia can be found at the links below.

www.bethel.edu/~letnie/EthiopiaHomepage.html

www.imperialethiopia.org/religions.htm

Was Haile Selassie I a Freemason? There is no real evidence to suggest that he was. There is a Masonic Lodge called the House of Haile Selassie. It was reputed to have adopted this name because of the relationship between Haile Selassie and King Solomon. A spokesperson for the lodge has stated that Haile Selassie I was never a member of any Freemason movement with the western concept of a lodge. Does this imply that he was in a African context? Or does it imply that he was never a Freemason of any kind?

According to Gregory Stephens in his book On Racial Frontiers, on page 164, Jospeh N. Hibbert, born in 1894, emigrated from Jamaica to Costa Rica at the age of 17. There was a large contingent of Jamaicans in Central America, and it was here that he became a member of the Masonic Lodge, The Anicent (Mystic) Order of Ethiopia. He returned to Jamaica in 1931 to preach the divinity of Haile Selassie. He was a key figure in the Rastafari movement. Joseph N. Hibbert has his roots in the Ethiopian Baptist Church, which was founded by George Lisle in the 18th Century. Ironically then Hibbert was brought up as an Ethiopian Baptist and not Ethiopian Orthodox, Haile Selassie having been the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lisle_(Baptist)

In his book 'Dread Jesus', William David Spencer proposes that Archibald Dunkley and Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert were among the preachers that inspired the Rastafari movement, and that both were members of the "Ancient Mystic Order of Ethiopia", a fraternal order derived from Prince Hall Freemasonry. Spencer believes that several key elements of the Rastafari movement derive from this practices in this lodge, including the name "Jah", from the word 'Jah-Bul-On'.

www.cesnur.org/testi/rasta.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jahbulon

Timothy White, in his book Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley, on page 12, asserts that both Archibald Dunkley and Joseph Hibbert were members of the 'ulta-secret Egyptian Masonic Order known as the Great Ancient Brotherhood of Silence.

Jahbulon or Jabulon is a word which was first used in some of the rituals of Royal Arch Masonry in the 1700s. In addition, according to Francis X. King, the word is used in rituals of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), a Thelemic Order created by the Freemason and Occultist Aleister Crowley in 1904.

According to the author Stephen Knight, following Walton Hannah, the word is a compound of three gods worshipped in the ancient Middle East, Jah (= Yahweh), Ba'al and On, a name in Genesis in the Bible (in "Potiphar priest of On"), the Hebrew form of the Ancient Egyptian name of the city of Heliopolis.

http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/jabulon.html

Rastafarians claim that 'Jah' is a shortened version of Jahweh, the Latin spelling for the Hebew Yahweh or YHWH. Of course, whether the use of 'Jah' is a shortened version of Jahweh or Jahbulon is a matter of debate, and would could perhaps argue it is a shortened version of other words beginning with 'Jah' based on circumstantial evidence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahweh

There are allegations of racism in Freemasonry and attempts to discourage 'black lodges'. It is likely that certain elements within clandestine 'black' freemasonry lodges wished to 'deify' the 'black' race to some degree, to have a black deity-type figure, to promote black consciousness in opposite to the dominant white economic and social culture of the day.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name of the largest Christian church in Egypt. Egypt is named as the place in the New Testament that the Holy family sought refuge after fleeing from Judea. The Egyptian Church is more than 19 centuries old. Egypt is frequently referenced in the Old Testament.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_Orthodox_Church_of_Alexandria

The first Christians in Egypt were mostly Alexandrian Jews (e.g. Theophilus). The church was founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist, believed to be the apostle, the author of the Gospel of Mark, and a companion of Saint Peter. He is believed to have been the first Bishop of Alexandria and the first Pope of Alexandria. He is regarded as the founded of African Christianity and his evangelistic symbol is the lion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Mark

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia, that was formerly part of the Coptic Orthodox church until 1959, which it was granted its own Patriarch. It is one of the few pre-colonial churches of Sub-Saharan Africa, and is the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches. It is thought to have been formed in 346 AD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_church

www.ethiopiantreasures.toucansurf.com/pages/religion.htm

Some have observed that the Ethiopian Church is a shining example of Christianity working with the traditions of Judaism. The Ethiopian Church regards the Old Testament as as sacred as the New Testament, if not more so. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians observe many Jewish customs such as dietary customs and indeed circumcision, and some believe that Jewish practices and culture in the area predate Christ, which is not unfeasible or that unlikely given the history of the Jewish people. Perhaps the Jewish people should take note that it is possible to embrace both Judaism and Christianity together in a number of forms.

'The [Ethiopian Orthodox] Tewahedo Church Canon contains 81 books. This canon contains the books accepted by other Orthodox Christians.

- The Narrower Canon also contains Enoch, Jubilees, and three books of the Meqabyan
- The Broader Canon includes all of the books found in the Narrower Canon, as well as the two Books of the Covenant, four Books of Sinodos, A Book of Clement, and Didascalia.

www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/Text/Canon/ethiopican.html

There have been no printings of the Broader Canon since the beginning of the twentieth century. The Haile Selassie Version of the Bible, which was published in 1962, contains the Narrower Canon.'

Many Afro-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans regard Ethiopia and Egyptian churches as an inspiration, as Africans choosing Christianity and not having it thrust upon them; and indeed Ethiopia which was the only nation to stand up to colonial invasion until the 2nd world war. 

Islam

Islam is the religion started by the prophet Mohammed who taught in the 7th Century AD. The teachings of the Qur'an are deemed to have been passed onto Mohammed by God, although the book was written after his death.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam

The Qur'an or Koran can be read/listened to on line at the link below.

www.quranexplorer.com

Halal or 'permissible' food is defined at the link below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal

Islam regards Jesus as a prophet, and Muslims look forward to the second coming of Jesus. There are however differences between the concept of Jesus in Christianity as stated in the Bible and those stated in the Qur'an. Islam regards Jesus as a wise prophet, created by immaculate conception, given God's power to heal the sick and resurrect the dead, and who was not crucified or physically resurrected but taken up by Allah (spiritually). Islam recognises the prophets of the Old Testament. If this version of Jesus' story was true and one considers the amount of distortion that would have to have taken place of the New Testament Scriptures, then is it not reasonable assume that a similar amount of distortion could have taken place in the writing of the Qur'an, also written after the death of the respective 'prophet'? Is there any text that one can thus rely 100% on? Or must all be interpreted by the individual?

www.soundvision.com/Info/Jesus/inIslam.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_view_of_Jesus'_death

Articles and lectures by Islamic scholar Dr El-Essawy can be found at the links below.

www.el-essawy.com/isprt/reconcilable.html

www.el-essawy.com/isprt/spirituality.pdf

www.el-essawy.com/TheNatureofGodpart1.ram 

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam (NOI) was founded in 1930 by 'Wallace D. Fard', the synthesis of four movements, Black Nationalism, Black Freemasonry, Islam & Christianity. Malcolm X, a key figure in the NOI, later renounced the NOI's racist ideology and embraced Sunni Islam, and was subsequently murdered by 3 NOI members in 1965. Whilst the Nation of Islam was an inherently racist organisation from the outset, and held its founder 'W.D. Fard' to be Allah (in a similar manner to Rastafarians believing Haile Selassie to be God) and other similar pagan beliefs, it has evolved, and has embraced more mainstream Islam (not regarding Fard as Allah etc.), although still differing from mainstream Islam in certain respects, believing that Elijah Muhammed is a prophet from God etc. and is still somewhat race oriented ('black' was the original race). One may however question the credentials of any organisation that has regarded a 'mere mortal' human being as God, and even an ex-petty criminal (allegedly) to be God. Perhaps this was a case of overcompensating. It is not as if Jesus was a gangster prior to his ministry. Information regarding the NOI can be found at the links below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation_of_Islam

www.ontruth.com/NationofIslam.htm

www.noi.org


© 2006-2014 Fabian Dee