Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Taken from an article which I have lost (sorry):
>...Thomas Jefferson that the final book of the New Testament is “merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation, than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”<
This is an interesting point considering the attitude of some of the early Church Fathers who decided what books would be included and which excluded from the Bible. Eusebius, one of the chief supporters and apologists for Constantine (also the Bishop of Caesarea which we today call Israel), was quite clear in stating that there was no way in which the text could be accepted as an actual revelation and taken literally. It simply contradicted everything previously taught in the Gospels. He also was convinced that the John who wrote the book of revelations was not the Apostle John .
He agonized over including the text in the Canon until finally he decided to include it in both lists, the accepted AND the rejected. It is hard to consider that to be a vote of confidence in the authenticity of the work.
Nevertheless, this highly questionable book, which some Fathers of the Church rejected outright, has not only become part of the Canon, it has become the single most important portion of the entire Bible for a significant number of American Christians.
As for me, long before I ever heard of the name Eusebius, I stated, to the intense distress of some family members, that I felt that Revelations was wrongly included and should never have been part of the Gospels, or any part of the Bible. It was more an emotional than a reasoned response, but I am pleased to say that as I have learned more about the history I find more and more reasons to believe that I was correct.
This is yet another reason I find myself so deeply opposed to the beliefs and actions of the Religious Right. They obsess about this one Book more than the rest of the Bible put together. When they do consider the other Books, it is often to interpret them in the light of Revelations; of Revelations taken literally.
No wonder their theology and mine are at such loggerheads.
I find myself much more in agreement with Mr. Jefferson. I have come to doubt all the miracle stories, although I do not necessarily reject them out of hand as he did. Miracles not withstanding, I can certainly agree that I am a Christian in the sense that our third president was a Christian. That is, I believe in the teachings and guidance of Jesus whatever his actual nature might be.
It is a painful irony to note that those of the Religious Right, who so often and so loudly proclaim their love and worship of Jesus, allow his teachings to be completely overshadowed and even poisoned by the bizarre imagery of the Book of Revelations, which, from the very beginning, has been regarded as suspect and even unacceptable.