Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The greatest book

The greatest book ever and it cost me 5 pence in a second hand bookshop.

It's a Penguin Classic, translated from the Greek by E V Rieu.

It's a book that has influenced the World's thinking more than any other.

It's a book that may explain, to the careful listener, the mysteries of the Universe.

Rieu considers that the story, written at least 40 years after the events describes, probably contains a few "INTERPOLATIONS and DISTORTIONS." We have to work out which bits sound true and which bits don't. Nobody is quite sure who the authors were.

The book, as you've no doubt worked out, is Penguin's The Four Gospels.

So, what about the content?

Rieu keeps his English simple.

WHAT'S LIFE ALL ABOUT?

Basically you need to know that YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW! THE MORE YOU GIVE, THE MORE YOU GET! Simple.

LIFE AFTER DEATH? REINCARNATION? Rieu's translation from John: "The father RAISES the dead and gives them life."

Note the PRESENT tense, rather than the future tense.

From Luke: "God is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for to Him all people live."

From John: "If the wheat grain does not fall into the soil and die, it stays as it was, a single grain; but if it dies it yields abundantly."

Does that mean reincarnation? A lot of the early Christians (like some Jews and Moslems) certainly believed we are born again, many times.

WHO GETS TO HEAVEN? Moslems? Atheists?

Rieu translates Luke: "(A man asked) 'What must I do to come into eternal life?' (Jesus replied:) 'Love...God..and love your neighbour... Who is my neighbour?...A Samaritan (coming across a man in the gutter) bandaged his wounds...took him to an inn...'"

Nothing there about having to be a Christian, or having to be baptised, or having to belong to some sect! You get to heaven by being the Good Samaritan and helping the person in distress?

THE BASIC TEACHNGS?

Rieu translates from Luke: "He that is least among you all, he is the greatest... Sell your possessions and give in charity... When you entertain, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind..."

From Matthew: "Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant... you are all brothers...love your enemies..." And so on.

This sounds like difficult radical stuff. Where does the bishop in his palace fit in here? Or the family driving up to the church in their Mercedes? The handicapped may be greater than the rock stars and presidents?

WHO IS JESUS SUPPOSED TO BE?

Is he identical with God? Where do we folks come in?

Rieu's translation from John: "(Jesus said) I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you...

"I am the Vine..and my father is the Vine-dresser... Just as the branch alone can bear no fruit but must stay in the vine, so you can bear no fruit unless you stay in me... I am the vine; you are the branches..."

So, Jesus is not identical to God and we are not identical to God, but we can all be linked up?

John has Jesus saying to his God: "I myself have given (my followers) the glory you gave me, to the end that they may be one, as you and I are one, I in them and you in me; that they may be brought to perfect unity..." Sounds almost Buddhist.

The concepts are perhaps difficult, but Rieu's translation makes it a little easier to grasp.

Some questions: WHO AM I? WHY DO KOMODO DRAGONS EXIST? DO WE HAVE FREE WILL?....

The existentialists believe that we have free will; we are free to adopt an attitude to life, a point of view; we are free to become something; we are free to evolve into something...

Were living things in the past free to develop into Komodo dragons or trees or humans? Are we free to become good fathers, good mothers, juvenile delinquents, famous explorers....?

Some people think it is vital that we choose the 'right' path, the right attitude to life. Christianity can be seen as a path.

Existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegarde was one of those who decided to adopt the seemingly 'absurd' Christian point of view...

Rieu helps us to see Christianity more clearly.

In conclusion- Rieu's scholarly yet clearly written translation helps us understand the mysteries of the Gospels and perhaps the mysteries of the universe. I hope Penguin will bring out a new edition.

Postscript: Quantum Theology can be found at- http://www.acns.com/~mm9n/quan/qtheoA.htm

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