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The Bible and Jesus
- or -
Pagans and Christians
by SpringWolf
Pagans and Christians:
A lot of people ask me what I think of the Bible and Christians. How do most pagans feel about Christianity and other non-pagan paths. I of course cannot speak for every pagan, but perhaps I can give a generalized opinion of the pagans I know personally.
Sweet Synergy - Jospehine WallFirst let me say that I respect Christians, Jews and even Muslims. There are even some Christians I have a great deal of admiration for. Pope John Paul II, Billy Graham and Joel Osteen for example. In my view people of faith hold their beliefs within themselves, near and dear to their heart. Some are very passionate about their beliefs, while others are content to believe as they choose and think little more about spiritual path after that. People are people regardless of what spiritual path they walk. So all religions have their supporters, detractors, conservatives and zealots. Some good, some not so good and some really down right terrible. No matter what faith you practice, human nature is always the same.
Many people assume that because you're pagan you hate Christians and that's just not so. I respect the Bible, and it's teachings. I may not believe everything Christians do, but we do share concepts. Respecting and being good to each other is one of those. Some people think that because Christians persecuted Witches so vehemently, we pagans are at war with them. Again, not so. Most Pagans I know respect the Christian doctrine and respect the choice of those to follow that doctrine. Pagans just have a different perspective on that doctrine and therefore often have more of a critical eye on it's stories and teachings.
In fact I recommend that all pagans read the Bible, at least a version prior to the King James version. Understanding others start with understanding their beliefs. It can give you insight into their point of view and put into context the verses they use to debate their position. In other words, "know thy opponent as ye know thyself"; it's helpful to know as much or more about the main source of their fight against pagans to debate your position. Reading someone else's doctrine doesn't mean you're going to be converted to their beliefs. It simply gives you information and knowledge to intelligently discuss your beliefs vs. theirs and find common ground between the two. And there is a lot of common ground between both religions.
That brings us to the main points of this article. What is the view of the Bible and Jesus from a pagan perspective. Again, I can't speak for all Pagans, just myself and those I know.
The Bible:
The Bible is a great book in principle. There are some great lessons to be learned from it's storytelling. But I think it's unwise to take any written book at face value and strict literal terms. The world evolves, humans learn and expand their understanding of the universe and our place in it. Because of this, spirituality must also grow and expand with that understanding. To me, it's some what hypocritical to take some parts of the Bible literally and not others. In today's age, few people would approve of selling one's daughter to the highest bidder for marriage or slavery as an example.
It's also important to remember the origins of the book and it's evolution. Jews, Muslims and Christians all share the same history of their individual religions that are in general recanted in the Old Testament. for Christians, the Torah for the Jews and the Quran for Muslims. While the Old Testament, the Torah and the Quran are not exactly the same, they are speaking about many of the same events and people. But let's stick to the Christian Bible.
According to Christian scholars, the New Testament was written by the prophets 50 years after the death of Jesus. Each prophet put down on paper the memories of their lives and times with Jesus. Now I don't know about you, but I can't remember each single detail and word said in a conversation 6 months ago, much less 50 years ago. But let's assume that Yahweh worked through the prophets to put the events and words on paper. To me that sounds like Yahweh channeled through the prophets and helped them write these books. Even if these writings were channeled, they are still an interpretation of what the prophet heard or felt. So these were the interpretation of events told by the prophets. But there is still much we can get from these early writings.
Over time, the pages of these books became worn and began to crumble. So followers of the day copied the words onto new parchment to preserve the words of the prophets. But it had been so long since their initial writing that the language was not quite the same. So these followers also updated the language of these books. In some cases they had to interpret the words and meaning and hope their interpretation was accurate. Now the Bible is an interpretation of an interpretation of the Prophets. But it's still a good book.
This interpretation of language is where we start to get away from the initial meaning of the book. Things like The Elohim said, (Genesis 1:26) "Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves". Now in the day, Elohim is a plural word, including male and female, and should properly be translated as "Gods" or "Pantheon". This is a word that's used in many ancient texts to talk about the Christian "God". In various interpretations of these early books, the word Elohim was altered to just "God".
Let's continue for a moment with the Elohim and God. These early books written by the prophets talk about how Yahweh, an individual member of the Pantheon, goes out to establish his own special botanical and zoological Garden in Eden. Followed by making his own .man to inhabit it (Genesis 2:7): "Yahweh fashioned a man of dust from the soil".
Later in the Bible we learn that (Genesis 4:16) "Cain left the presence of Yahweh and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden". We can assume that the phrase "left the presence of Yahweh" implies that Yahweh is a local deity, and not omnipresent as the Elohim appear to be. We discover that Cain settled among the people of Nod, and married one of the women of that country. Here, for the first time, is specifically mentioned the "other people" who are not of the lineage of Adam and Eve. So where did these people come from? There is no other mention of the Nod or explanation of how they got here on Earth. So we can again assume they were put here in the image of the Elohim, and by the Elohim. Not being children of Yahweh, we can surmise that some of these people were indeed the first pagans.
Interpretations can alter not only the story, but also the real meaning behind the story. Whither it's done on purpose as we'll see next, or simply out of necessity. So let's continue with our story of the evolution of the Bible.
Hundreds of years later Constantine decided to proclaim his kingdom Christian. This was thrilling to the early Christians who were persecuted for their beliefs. At the time two priests, Alexander and Arius, were publicly debating the status of Christ. According to Arius, if Jesus was begat by God then Jesus had a beginning and therefore it also meant that he didn't exist until that beginning. Many disagreed with this concept saying that Jesus was one within Yahweh. This position was headed by Alexander.
Now this issue doesn't make sense to me, and it seems to be a contradiction to the basis of their story. Yahweh tells Mary that he has given her a son, His son. It doesn't say God became human through the womb of Mary. The Council of Nicea was established to deal with this debate that threatened to divide Christianity. While the debate continued after the Council meeting, the side of Arius losses favor during the politicking and Alexander seemingly wins the argument.
Not long after, the second gathering of the Council was established to establish a single source of Prophet stories, ie: the Bible. During and in between these two Council meetings, a good deal of debate raged about certain teachings and meanings. Another great debate was that of the Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. If the 10 Commandments were to be the law of the religion than no God comes before Yahweh. But by anointing Jesus, Christians are in part putting Jesus before Yahweh. Some argued that God is God and there is no other. Identifying a Trinity is too much the like pagans who revered the God, Goddess and Godhead, or the Triple Goddess Maiden, Mother and Crone. The debate raged, a vote was taken and the Council declared the Holy Trinity of The Father, Son and Holy Ghost as reverent to their faith.
The Council debated additional concepts, meanings and words of the original prophets. They also debated which Prophets to allow into their codex and which to leave out. I've been surprised to learn that many Christians believe the Bible contains ALL the books of the Prophets and they are unaware that there are others.
The Council put down on paper their interpretation of these Prophet books. Some decisions as to what the text meant were determined by vote. It may also be important to note that not all the Bishops of the day were at this all important Council meeting. Only about 300 Bishops participated. Some stayed away because they disagreed with Alexander/Arius decision, others stayed away because they were not made aware of the gathering and still others were simply not able to attend based on distance and ability. To me this is a significant point in time for Christianity. Basing it's doctrine on politics, some unethical happenings and vote. But here we have an interpretation of an interpretation of the interpretation of the prophets. And this is the first Bible.
Through the centuries others laid claim to their own interpretations and rewrites of this first selection of books and writings. Eventually we get to a King who takes the throne and calls for a new writing of the Bible. Putting the teachings and words into common language for the peasants of his kingdom to read and follow. Until this point only scholars and priests read the Bible. At one time in history it was heresy for anyone else to read the words of the Bible. The common people merely followed the teaching of their Bishop or Priest. But things had been changing and King James came along to set forth his Council. This was a time when breaking the laws of the King meant going against the Church. Breaking the law of Church meant breaking the law of the King. It was important for his common people to know what they could and couldn't do, and he commissioned what some say is the first commoners version of the Bible.
Like their predecessors before them, they of course had to make interpretations of the gospel to meet the culture and language of the day. These are some of the most destructive alterations to the Biblical story. The King James version of the Bible implemented some of the biggest changes to the Christian story that are greatly impacting our society today. Modern interpretations of the Bible have taken their lead from the King James version and are just as destructive as those made by King James. Impacting our culture, politics, propaganda, bigotry and future. These are just a few we can point out here.
In Romans 16:3: Paul refers to Priscilla as another of his "fellow workers in Christ Jesus." Other translations refer to her as a "co-worker". But still other translations attempt to downgrade her status by calling her a simple "helper". The original Greek word is "synergoi", which literally means "fellow worker" or "colleague."
One example of a questionable translation would be in Romans 16:1, where Paul introduces Phoebe as "deacon." Paul uses the same Greek word for himself in the sense of a preacher, a minister, and the same word appears in Ephesians 6:21 where it refers to a male and is normally translated "minister." However, in English translations, "deacon" is translated as "deaconess" or slave when in reference to Phoebe -- a woman.
One of the biggest debates today is the modern translation of Leviticus 18:22 "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with woman kind: it is abomination." This verse is interpreted directly as "And with a male thou shalt not lie down in beds of a woman; it is an abomination. That is, "rather than forbidding male homosexuality, it simply restricts where it may occur."
And of course there's the one that's near and dear to Pagans. Exodus 22:17 "Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live". The verse was written with the word makesofha, and was really mistranslated at the time. Many scholars have noted that makesofha means "poisoner" and the verse was written in the modern text inappropriately.
In addition, many verses taught today are taken out of context and hold varying meanings when this occurs. One good example of this is John 4:4 "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." This verse is commonly taught today as meaning that God is greater than Satan. However in verse 1 of this chapter, the one in the world is defined as being a false prophet. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." is a more accurate translation. The words "spirit" and "spirits" in this context refer to intelligent beings - men, not demons or Satan.
Even though many of the details in the original books of the Prophets have been obscured and lost, the general concepts in the Bible are well intended. For the most part it is an interesting read, but many pagans believe it should not be taken so literally. Especially since it contains a number of contradictions, misinterpretations and alterations.
The Teacher Jesus:
Many pagans believe that Jesus did live at one time. That he was a great priest, healer and teacher of his faith. But that's as far as most pagans take it. Many fundamentalists say that Jesus is the only way to God. Well in the general context, this could be true if we remember that Jesus is the son of Yahweh. In which case Yahweh gave the life of his only begotten son for the sins of his followers. But what about the other people? What about the people of Nod or those that did not follow Yahweh? What about the children of the Elohim?
There is also debate about the interpretation of this text. Jesus discussed the stations of "The Way" (John 14:2) "There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you.” Now this passage actually says a lot. Jesus is telling his prophets that there are MANY places in Heaven. But that he is going to prepare a certain place for those who follow him.
One of the early versions of the bible took the Greek word monh, meaning "resting stations" and translated into Latin as mansio. It went through the King James version as "mansion", and so the original connection to Nazarene teachings was obscured. Again we can see a hinting to the Elohim having many places to dwell in after death. If you want to dwell with Jesus and his Father Yahweh, then follow his path to his dwelling. If not, there are many dwellings in the after life where you will be welcomed by the Elohim.
Pagans have no desire to discount Christians and their beliefs. All we ask is that non-pagans, Christians, Jews and Muslims offer us the same respect we offer them. We are all trying to live a positive good life, being kind to each other and living with our own spiritual connection to what we see as the Divine. Through this understanding, we can gain tolerance, wisdom and peace.
Christian Witches and Christian Wicca:
Contrary to intolerant beliefs within the Witchcraft community; both do exist. There are Christian Witches and Christians Wiccans. And I'll try to explain the difference and the concepts of each here.
"Witch" is not specific to any one religion. It's merely a label for a person who practices the Science of Energy Manipulation - what most call Magik. You'll notice I don't spell it magic. There's a difference between stage magic and spiritual magik. "Witch" as a label can exist any a variety of religions, not just pagan ones.
Christian Witches - are Christians who practice magik. Typically you'll find these folk in central and south America. But they do exist all over the world. They believe in Divine Magik, but they also accept Jesus as their savior and lord. They are devout Christians, who simply also believe in magikal practices.
Christian Wiccans - as a label, this one gets a lot of attacks. Many narrow minded neo-pagans don't see how these 2 can coexist. But those who understand the concepts of both religions, have found a way to combine the two in a wonderful view of harmony and coexistence. Christian Wiccans believe in the same concepts as neo-pagans. From reincarnation to karma and magik. Just as a Wiccan will chose a particular deity to honor, so do Christian Wiccans. But Christian Wiccans work with Christian Deities specifically.
Instead of seeing Zeus as the Godhead, a Christian Wiccan will chose Jehovah.
Instead of choosing Aries as the God, they'll choose Jesus.
Instead of choosing Athena as the Goddess, a Christian Wiccan will chose Mary.
In this approach Mary is the embodiment of the Goddess, Jesus the God and Jehovah as the Godhead. It's a very compatible trinity that works well for many people. From this concept, the Christian Bible is still a book of faith; but it takes on different interpretations. It's also important to note that Christian Wiccans do not believe in the King James version of the bible. They see it as a bastardization of the scriptures that was modified for political reasons. They are quick to point out that previous interpretations of the bible actually support the concept of the divine trinity and magik as a positive force in one's life.
Additional Reading:
You may also like to read some of these sources that were used to write this article. They also discuss topics such as this in detail and are very interesting.

Source: 1
Created: 10.30.2007        Updated: 01.09.2009