The History of the Bible
First, a bit of biblical history: The earliest writings that made it into the New Testament (the epistles of Paul and others claiming to be Paul) were written as long ago as year 50. The first gospel written, Mark, is dated year 70. The oldest surviving copies (there are no originals left) of the 66 scrolls assembled by committee to be the official cannon of the Christian church go back only as far as the year 300.
This left plenty of time to repeatedly rewrite the originals any way copyist scribes wanted to, and they did. Regarding rewrites of the Old Testament, the time available for revisionism is huge. No copy of any Old Testament scroll is older than the second century B.C., yet Jewish scholarship says that the Torah was written between 1,446 and 1,406 B.C. That any part of the Bible resembles the original can only be taken on faith.
Nevertheless, the collection of ancient lore called "Bible" somehow persists as the most published and least read document ever to come off a printing press, making it classic literature.
Knowing that it cannot possibly be true history nor the inerrant word of God, scholars of the Bible and students of Unity look at the text for deeper meanings than appear on the surface. We go beyond the physical surface.
Meta means beyond. Physics means physical. Metaphysical interpretation of the Bible means looking deeper into the stories to find personal meaning.
Dear Rev. Jamison
I have been studying the book, THE FIVE GOSPELS, and it appears that Matthew made up the first part of his story to fit the perceived prophesies from the Jewish texts about the messiah. He tries to trace the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham, but if Joseph was not his father, then Jesus would not have been in that lineage, right?
I am glad you have a copy of THE FIVE GOSPELS, by Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and The Jesus Seminar. I highly recommend it to everyone who wants more than the traditional (non-Unity) Sunday School understanding of the early Christian church and the real Jesus (in other words, to anyone who wants the facts!).
The early church stretched the biography of Jesus' beginnings beyond belief, yet there it is in the gospel account. The Jewish line is traced through the father, Judaism being a patriarchal system. Yet, in the linage of Jesus traced back to Abraham in Matthew 1: 1-16, we find two interesting things. At verse 5 we reach Boaz in the list of fathers, where it even says that the son he produced (Obed) was delivered through Ruth. Ruth was not Jewish! Ruth was of the Moab ethnicity. This means the line is no longer "pure" after that point, which I say is a good thing, because it metaphysically implies that Jesus is for everybody, not just the Jews.
The second interesting thing about Matthew's lineage of Jesus is that all the males listed are said to be the father of the next male listed, until we get to Joseph. At the verse in which Joseph appears (16), he is called the husband of Mary, not the father of Jesus. As in a fall of dominoes in which one domino far down the line and still upright is pulled out, the lineage stops just before getting to Jesus, due to the early church insistence that Jesus, like the significant prophets of the other religions around at the time, had to be miraculously born of a virgin. You can't have it both ways. Either Jesus is born of a virgin or he is in the lineage of Abraham, one or the other. Yes, this is just a technicality, and nothing over which to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but for those who want to know the real Jesus, it matters that he was all Jewish, with just a little Moabitess thrown in, and was fathered in the same way we all were.
Return from Bible History to Ask Michael