I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Investigating Scriptures and the Search for Lost Text of the Bible

In 2006 the novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was produced on film  and because of the public interest in the fictional work based upon certain historical facts, as well as conjecture that has been argued by scholars for a long time, there was a great deal of controversy over the content. A well acted and directed film, it soon became the big discussion on the Internet and there are some websites that still exist today that concern the subject material in one form or another. This information being provided as background information.

After being released and previewed at the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival, May 17th, 2006, the film was criticized by the Roman Catholic Church and bishops urged Christians to boycott the film orchestrated by the Vatican curial department by Archbishop Angelo Amato. Some of the earliest showings had protesters outside the movie theaters and critical rhetoric was prolific. 

Yet it became the second highest grossing movie of 2006 in global circulation. The film’s soundtrack was composed by Hans Zimmer and was nominated for the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. During the filming in England (Lincolnshire) protesters led by a Roman Catholic nun, 61-year-old Sister Mary Michael from Our Lady’s Community of Peace and Mercy in Lincoln and spent 12 hours praying on her knees outside the cathedral because she viewed the film as blasphemous, as well as heresy that the film was being made at a holy place.
Cardinal Francis Arinze created a documentary called The Da Vinci Code: A Masterful Deception where he asked that legal action be taken against the film makers. It was considered blasphemy against the Church.
In the film, the Opus Dei was spotlighted in the film as a clandestine organization of the Church and a statement was released in February of 2006 that requested that Sony Picturesconsider editing the film (before it was released) so as not to use that Catholic organization’s name. An open letter by the Japanese Office of Opus Dei proposed that Sony Pictures include 
a disclaimer on the film adaptation as a sign of respect towards the figure of Jesus Christ, the history of the Church, and the religious beliefs of viewers
The organization also encouraged the studio to clearly label the movie as fictitious and that any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence. Sony Pictures refused to include the disclaimer. The film was based upon a novel of fiction and was registered as so at the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. During a preview for movie critics in Cannes, the conclusion of the film received boos instead of applause.
The film critic website, Rotten Tomatoes, gave the film a low score and explained:
What makes Dan Brown’s novel a best seller is evidently not present in this dull and bloated movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.
The critic Michael Medved gave the film two stars out of four and stated:
…all the considerable acting talent in the film is wasted …the plot twists and sudden reverses …seem silly, arbitrary, and entirely contrived – never growing organically out of the story-line tripe that could not conceivably cause a single member of the flock to turn aside from the faith.
As controversial as the Shroud of Turin, the Dan Brown novel illustrates the overly sensitive reactions of the Roman Catholic Church’s history that it didn’t consider that the novel was categorized as fiction. The film did not state, which the Hollywood producers usually do, that the film was based on actual incidents or real events, as well – and thus Sony Pictures did not find the need to include a disclaimer as the Opus Dei organization requested.
Dan Brown took questions that have been asked and argued between historians and scholars – as well as the clergy when they were not imprisoning or burning people for heresy for several centuries over subjects like the real relationship of Mary Magdalene, the Apostles and how much was really the “doctrine” of Jesus the Christ from Nazareth, Christian artifacts like the Shroud aforementioned, the robe that Jesus wore that was gambled for at the crucifixion, and the Holy Grail – the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper. Mixed in with questions concerning what scriptures were left out of the authorized version of the Bible – and why. The not-so-noble history of the papacy. Questions about several other things. Archaeology has provided many answers to these questions, and we would have more answers about many things if certain texts and books were not destroyed by the early Christian Church.
With this background presented, I will now examine recent articles concerning these and other questions.
First, Roger BoltonBBC, UK, wrote on October 6th, 2008:
What is probably the oldest known Bible is being digitized, reuniting its scattered parts for the first time since its discovery 160 years ago. It is markedly different from its modern equivalent. What’s left out? The world’s oldest surviving Bible is in bits.
For 1,500 years, the 
Codex Sinaiticus lay undisturbed in a Sinai monastery, until it was found – or stolen, as the monks say – in 1844 and split between 
EgyptRussia,Germany and Britain.
Now these different parts are to be united online and, from next July, anyone, anywhere in the world with internet access will be able to view the complete text and read a translation. …
Codex, probably the oldest Bible we have, also has books which are missing from the Authorised Version that most Christians are familiar with today – and it does not have crucial verses relating to the Resurrection.
The fact this books has survived at all is a miracle. … Today, 30 mainly 
Greek Orthodox monks, dedicated to prayer, worship there, helped as in ages past by the Muslim Bedouin. For this place is holy to three great religions: JudaismChristianity and Islam; a land where you can still see the Burning Bush where God spoke to Moses.
The monastery itself has the greatest library of early manuscripts outside the 
Vatican – some 33,000, and a collection of icons second to none.
Not surprisingly, it is now a 
World Heritage Site and has been called a veritable 
Ark, bringing spiritual treasures safely through the turbulent centuries. In many people’s eyes the greatest treasure is the Codex, written in the time of the first Christian Emperor Constantine. When the different parts are digitally united next year in a £1m project, anyone will be able to compare and contrast the Codex and the modern Bible.
The Codex contains two more books than found in the New Testament.
One is the little-known Shepherd of Hermas, written in Rome in the 2nd Century – the other, the Epistle of Barnabas. This goes out of its way to claim that it was the Jews, not the Romans, who killed Jesus, and is full of anti-Semitic kindling ready to be lit. “His blood be upon us,” Barnabas has the Jews cry. …
And although many of the other alterations and differences are minor, these may take some explaining for those who believe every word comes from God. Faced with differing texts, which is the truly authentic one? …
The Bible we now use can’t be the inerrant word of God, … since what we have are the sometimes mistaken words copied by fallible scribes. …
Other differences concern how Jesus behaved. In one passage of the Codex, Jesus is said to be “angry” as he healed a leper, whereas the modern text records him as healing with “compassion”.
Also missing is the story of the woman taken in adultery and about to be stoned – until 
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (a Jewish sect), inviting anyone without sin to cast the first stone. Nor are there words of forgiveness from the cross. Jesus does not say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Fundamentalists, who believe every word in the Bible is true, may find these differences unsettling. But the picture is complicated. Some argue that another early Bible, the Codex Vaticanus, is in fact older. And there are other earlier texts of almost all the books in the Bible, though none pulled together into a single volume. Many Christians have long accepted that, while the Bible is the authoritative word of God, it is not inerrant. Human hands always make mistakes. …
Leonardo Da Vinci is a well-known historic figure in history, as depicted in the novel and film entitled The Da Vinci Code. The entire plot revolves around a secret organization protecting an important secret hidden in an ingenious device that Leonardo DaVinci created. [See Codec]
Michael Baigent published a book in 1982 entitled Holy Blood, Holy Grail, in which the author describes a secret organization called the Priory of Sion. According to the author, Michael Baigent, Leonardo and other members of this group had access to information not revealed to many, which includes the alleged marriage of Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene. Of course, the main reason of secrecy should be evident to those who know the history of the Roman Catholic Church – the first organized entity of Christianity, and became the most powerful. However, Michael Baigent discusses them as legends.
The Da Vinci Code details the famous Da Vinci painting The Last Supper that was completed in 1498 and depicts a scene from the scripture John 13:24 when Peter asks the Beloved Disciple to ask Jesus for the identity of his betrayer. The Gospel of John is the only one that mentions this – no other Gospel in the New Testament has any reference to it. Most theologians believe that Saint John, the Apostle, is the Beloved Disciple and Peter is, in the painting, sitting next to Jesus, but there is another figure that appears to be standing between Peter and Jesus and Peter is whispering something in the ear of the this disciple. This is mentioned in the book by Dan Brown, as well as in the writings of theorists or those who have studied the personage of Mary Magdalene.
Ramon K. Jusino wrote an article that discusses what he believes is the story behind the painting that is not obvious to most and may have been overlooked by some. In the article, Jusino discusses the hypothesis that Mary Magdalene was probably the one called the Beloved Disciple. One thing that is certain, the figure described in the painting is a woman. Based on this and other details, Jusino states that Mary Magdalene is not only the Beloved Disciple described, but also the real author of the Fourth Gospel – the Gospel of John.
As the Dan Brown story states, Renaissance artists made it the practice or custom to leave hidden messages in their artistic works. It was probably to keep from the eyes of the Church authorities, which could lead to serious repercussions because such ideology or questioning meant to be accused of subversion. Even today it could lead to heated arguments and possibly anger from clergy or the Church itself. The discussion presented by Ramon Jusino, especially concerning another Renaissance painting by Perugino correlates with what Dan Brown used in the background of his novel. I will leave this research to the interested readers of this topic.
I will discuss what I have discovered during my long period of research for my manuscripts that lead to just such a hypothesis that Mr. Jusino describes in the next issue, and in the meantime you might want to read the book by Phillip Jones Griffiths – Beloved Disciple: The Misunderstood Legacy of Mary Magdalene.

 Ron Howard directed the film and was upset over the critic reviews. The film received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director. The same day the film was released, a spoof of the movie was made entitled The Norman Rockwell Code. It didn't stop the producers from making a sequel because the box office revenues stood out against the critics' opinions.
 Archaeology was at its infancy and had not formed into a real science – it usually consisted of fortune seekers, historians – but no real archaeologists like we know today. Also there were no international laws to protect antiquities at the time or an established procedure to handle artifacts.
 This is exciting news to me who spent years researching, and while I have books with transcribed and translated text from scriptures from several religions, mostly Christianity and Judaism, like the Haq Hammadi LibraryLost Books of the Bible and the Coptic Dead Sea Scrolls – this would be a welcome addition to my research material that also includes medieval works involving the scriptures as well as the doctrines of the Church.
 I have only read second party transcriptions of the Codex, so this will be an excellent opportunity for those interested in history or the beginnings of Christian theology.
 The Codex Vaticanus, in my research of writings of notable scholars and historians, as well as archaeology reports that state that it is indeed the oldest yet found. It contains the complete copy of the Septuagint; however, the Maccabees (1-4) and the Prayer of Manasseh are not included. The big controversy between theological scholars is on page 1512 of the Codex Vaticanus, in the margins beside Hebrews 1:3, with the note
Fool and knave, can’t you leave the old reading alone and not alter it
This is the section that clearly demonstrates that the medieval scribes of the scriptoriums were not so dedicated to copying verbatim (intentional or not) the scriptures from their collective libraries. The manuscript has been kept in the Vatican Library and before the 19th Century scholars were not allowed to study it, much less edit it. It wasn’t until 1889 that a photographic facsimile was published and made the codex available to all researchers. The Catholic EncyclopediaNew Advent, provides a excellent detailed story of the Greek Codex Vaticanus and analysis.


John said...

re: "Mary Magdalene is not only the Beloved Disciple described, but also the real author of the Fourth Gospel"

The idea that the Apostle John was the beloved disciple (the author of the fourth gospel) comes from the same place -- non-Bible sources, and both ideas fly in the the face of scripture.

The biblical evidence can easily disprove both the John hypothesis and the Mary Magdalene hypothesis.

Those who think that the truth in the Bible is more worth investigating than some lost text that is not in the Bible should investigate a presentation of this evidence that is posted at:

Keith Allen Lehman said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts/ideas ...
No mention of John the Apostle except for this quoted material, which was directing toward Mary Magdalene.
The Church, a long time ago, decided (for various reasons of their own) to leave out texts. Both the canon texts and non-canon texts are helpful in studying the historical and philosophical aspects of the period - keeping in mind that much that was written was written long after Jesus' death. Archaeological and cross-examination of other texts of the period help in piecing together the historical aspect of scriptures.
Scholarly evidence has reconfigured the thoughts of who wrote what in the New Testament.
Your website is interesting, but unrelated to the material presented.

Keith Allen Lehman said...

One other thing: the canonized Bible is not the only source of information for a researcher - and shouldn't be.