Monday, June 21, 2010

The Good Samaritans

I find it truly amazing that no matter how many centuries may pass in the blink of an eye, there is always one issue of permanence that is a guaranteed constant in this universe and that is that amongst Jews, regardless of which sect I might be referring to, we will argue to the point of death, with no other rewarding purpose it would seem than the sheer enjoyment of the argument itself, the revelling in the sheer pettiness we can exhibit, and the thrill of the irrational behaviour we can exemplify. And what is even more amazing is that the underlying principle behinds most of these confrontations is the assertion by one of the participants that they are a 'better Jew' than the other. I'm not certain what a 'better Jew' actually means in the true scales of our lives. If it's reference to superior mastery of the Torah, then I'm afraid we're all merely students when it comes to that assertion. It will take longer than a lifetime to even consider oneself qualified in practicing Torah let alone mastering it. Perhaps it'a a reference to being somehow closer to God than the other person but I don't know where they would find the yardstick to make that assertion either. In history, very few have ever approached God and in all likelihood there will be just as few in our future. Then again, it might be an issue with birthright, but as I've explained in several other articles, carrying the Hebraic genes does not necessarily mean you're of a decent character and we must remember we are judged on our actions, not on our line of descent. God made no distinction between the natural born Jew and the one that coverted to Judaism. David as a descendant of Ruth was proof enough of that. Even the product of a convert could become King of Israel which should end that argument quickly. And finally I heard it said that it is a matter of which Torah you read and in which language, a clear reference to the slight variations that exist amongst the various sects. As Karaites, depending upon which community we originated from there are Torahs in different langauges such as Arabic, Tartaric, English, and of course Hebrew. We may wish to believe that the Hebraic version is a 100% reproduction of the original handed down by Moses to the elders but with human involvement that essentially would be an improbability if not an impossibility. Therefore, for anyone wishing to establish the superiority of one version of the Torah over another, in truth it cannot be done since all of our various versions in their multitude of languages are based on the original document which no longer exists. Fortunately Karaism has always promoted a policy of supporting the Torah to be written in whichever language was primary in the town or city where Karaites were domiciled. As a result, you have Karaite Torahs in all the languages mentioned previously and these are all based on the Masoretic Text (MT). But this raises another interesting issue; what if a Torah was based on the Samartian Text. Would that make those following it any less Jewish than their MT counterparts? I think not, for as we examine the commonalities between Karaism and Samaritanism, we see that to do so would only be condeming ourselves.

Samaritan History

Embattled, surrounded, practically forced to the point of extinction, the Samaritan community has hung on its efforts to survive against insurmountable odds. And survive they have for 2700 continuous years even though doing so meant they bore the wrath and animosity of their Judaic brethren. That is not to say that it was without justification. The attempt on their part to convince Alexander the Great to attack Jerusalem so that they could seize the city and raze it to the ground was not an act that could be easily overlooked or forgiven. Once more, it would appear that the bitter rivalry as to "Who's a Better Jew," syndrome that I spoke of previously had its roots long ago in our development. Even in 330 BCE it would still seem to have been a major component and flaw of our character whether Samaritan or Judean. Why such intense hatred between brothers can only be consigned to the bitter feud that evolved from the splitting into the two kingdoms during the reign of Reheboam. We may think of the northern kingdom being accursed by God, but when you take into consideration the sheer number of prophets that were based in the north you realize that God had not abandoned them, so what right had we to do so?

And after the fall of Israel in the north, did those of us in the south try to rescue the remnant? Did we offer them shelter against the onslaught of assimilation? Did we give them aid to remain vigilant against the introduction of the foreign religions into their services? Did we offer them priests from the overflowing numbers that filled the upper city of Jerusalem? The answer was no to all of these. The decision was made to let the remnant of the northern kingdom perish because the seeds of animosity had been sown too deep to harvest anything but a foul crop. But the north didn't evaporate as had been expected. Two new families filled the void left behind by the fall of kings, these were the Tobiads and the Sanballets. Together they re-established a working government and economy, preserving the religious practices in the gathering place on Mount Gerzim and therbey presenting a true challenge to the south.

With the return of the socially elite accompanying Ezra the high priest from Babylon, the opportunity existed to heal the rift once and for all. Under the guize of religion the offer of the Samaritans to help build the Temple and reunite with their southern brethren was rejected but the reality is that the politics was a more significant factor in this decision. During the time of their absence, the aristocracy of the south had lost much of their wealth and now the real power in the region were these two northern families. Even Ezra would have been challenged by the fact that the services in the north still were under the direction of descendants of the High Priest Hilkiah, equal if not superior to his own standing. As such, jealousies would have fuelled the ancient hatreds as much or more than any rational justification.

Samaritans and Karaite Beliefs

It must be remembered that once rejected, the Samaritans would have dug in their heels and clung tenaciously to the ancient laws and customs in an effort to demonstrate that they performed the services and practices of the religion to a superior degree than their southern neighbours who were busy reforming the religion upon their return from exile. Not unlike the Sadducees in the south, the Samaritans would have centred their religious structures and performance around the priestly perogatives, maintaining a centralized religious cult as had been the way of the past. We know from the experience in the south that as soon as the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed the Pharisees asserted their control over the day to day life of the people, removing the exclusive rights of the priests and then going on to rewrite the entire body of the law to conform to their own interpretations and beliefs, which they later called the Talmud. How can we be so certain? From the work of Geiger on the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan which served as a depository for the remnants of the ancient Sadducean-Samaritan-Karaite traces of the ancient halakah. The ancient and therefore presented by God through Moses Halakah that was suppressed by the Pharisees and intentionally concealed from the Jewish population. So it can be assumed that the model of Samaritan practice and law closely resembled the pre-Pharisaic period which would then suggest that it would have been very Karaite in its conduct just as Geiger concluded. Written around the time that the Talmud and its new laws or halakah were being introduced, Pseudo-Jonathan was written by someone determined to preserve the old ways and much of its content reflects the ante-Pharisaic traditions. Geiger demonstrated that these 'anti-traditional' laws are both common to Karaites and Samaritans. As an example, the interpretation of Leviticus 19:24 by the rabbis regarding the the fruit of the tree in its fourth year is said to be like the second tithe, to be transported and consumed by the owner within the walls of Jerusalem. But in Pseudo-Jonathan it translates 'kodesh helolim' to mean that it is to be given to the priests or redeemed by its owner, exactly as both the Samaritans and Karaites interpret it.

Another point of agreement between Karaites and Samaritans regards the observation of the fiftieth day after the waving of the sheaf (omer) that it is to be offered on the morrow after the sabbath. The rabbanites interpret it to mean on 'the day after the holy convocation' which to them means the 16th of Nisan but the Sadducees saw it to mean the day after the weekly sabbath that occurs during the feast of unleavened bread so that the Feast of Weeks is celebrated always on the first day of the week. This Sadducean interpretation is the same as that used by the Samaritans and Karaites.

The list of similarities is quite extensive and it only demosntrates that both the Karaites and Samaritans practice and interpret the Torah identically in many circumstsnces. To do so can only mean that the interpretations of both sects is based on the Sadducean interpretation which was the origianl halakah of Judaism. Therefore to reject Samaritanism as a recognized path of Judaism by a Karaite would be in a sense like rejecting ourselves.

Neither Add Nor Subtract

Moses prohibited us from adding or subtracting from the Torah. Since the Samaritans we can assume were strict in their observance of this prohibition since their history has always been one of trying to prove themselves 'holier' than their southern brethren, then it becomes difficult to explain why there exist what Rabbanites have labelled as Samaritan additions to the Masoretic Text which forms the Samaritan Torah. But to rely on the Rabbinical statement that there were additions would be not dissimilar to believing Abraham Ibn Daud, the Rabbanite author of the Sefer ha-Kabbalah written in 1161 when he states that only rabbinical Judaism can be validated by its claim of being an uninterrupted tradition and all the rest such as Islam, Christianity, Karaism and Samaritanism are heresies. According to Ibn Daud, all heresy stems from Samaritianism and as a result of their errors there is a continued presence of unreformed idolatry exisiting in the world. In fact, Ibn Daud claims that the high priests Zadok and Boethus, the two major influences upon Karaism prior to Anan ben David both took refuge amongst the Samaritans and assumed the leadership of their temple on Mount Gerzim. Though Ibn Daud is erroneous in his claims, he does provide one kernel of truth and that is there are connections and similarities between Karaism and Samaritanism.

Firstly, it should be established that the Samaritan Torah is longer than the Masoretic Text. It is written in the Samaritan alphabet which is different from the Hebrew alphabet which didn't get widely used until the exiles in the south returned from Babylon. There alone should be the first clue that the Masoretic Text in its Hebrew alphabet was a rewriting from the older alphabet which provided the first incidence of change. Following the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which often were in agreement witht the Samaritan version of the Torah, it became somewhat more evident that the Masoretic text may have been the one that changed, primarily through deletions. Of the approximately six thousand instances in which the Samaritan and the texts Masoretic Texts differ, the Septuagint (LXX) version agrees with the Samaritan in two thousand of those cases. We can see an example of this from Exodus 12:40 where both the Samaritan and the LXX state, "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers which they had dwelt in the land of Canaan and in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years." This differs from the Masoretic Text which only reads that the soujourning of the Children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was 430 years. Historically, the Samaritan version would be more accurate as we know from the transition of the 17th to 18th dynasties in Egypt, there probably was only about a two hundred year period where the enslavement would have taken place, and probably another hundred years where the descendants of Joseph became established in positions of power prior to the changeover. Clearly the Masoretic text experienced a loss, most likely through scribal error, of this vital information providing an inaccurate history of the duration of the slavery. But that is not the only difference in Exodus that is quite noticeable. In Chapter 6 in the Samaritan version, the people are quoted complaining to Moses that he should leave them alone to stay in Egypt and serve the Egyptians whereas that line doesn't occur until Exodus 14:12 in the Masoretic text, when the Children of Israel were already marching in the desert. When examined, it actually makes sense that they did say this when Moses first appeared to them, refusing to accept his leadership rather than recount it much later as an afterthought.

Gramatically there are also differences between the two texts. Those improper gender differences that exist in the Masoretic text are not present in the Samaritan version which has appropriate gender agreement. This again suggests that the translation into Hebrew was being performed when the language was still young and being adjusted to, as in the post exilic period when it came out of Babylon.

One of the more interesting differences between the two texts is the use of the name Benjamim in the Samaritan Torah versus Benjamin in the Masoretic Text. At first one would point to the failure of the Samaritans to accurately record the name of one of Jacob's sons, but when one reads Genesis 44:20 in which his brothers explain to Joseph that their father has a son of his old age, that their brother is called בן ימים or 'the son of many days referring to his fathers old age at the time of his birth it makes more sense than being the 'son of the right hand'.

In Exodus 15:3 the Masoretic text says that "the Lord is a Man of War" whereas the Samaritan version reads as, "the Lord is mighty in War". It is surprising that the Lord would have been represented as a man, giving fuel to later Christian doctrines that claimed God could appear as a man. To do so was a lessening of God's stature, reducing him to an inferior creature like ourselves. Once again I have to think the Samaritan version may be more accurate and the Masoretic Text was a scribal error.

Therefore I think it is necessary that we examine the accusation of heresy on the part of the Samaritans and think that perhaps the heresy was on the part of the Rabbanites who have actually subtracted from the original Torah. That being the case, then how can we actually fight over the superiority of one text over another, of one Jew being preferred over another. These are things we do not know and because of our separation through our arguments and our fighting amongst ourselves for countless centuries as a result may never know. Let us practice instead what Anan ben David has encouraged us to do all along, read everything and make a decision based on rational, educated decision making processes and avoid the hystrionics that have done nothing but divide and weaken us as a people. I recall the words of Abraham Lincoln that "A house divided cannot stand," and I look at our house with it's shakey framework and fear that we will bring it crashing down through our own devices. As Karaites it is our duty to seek the truth. We must look beyond the deceptions, the distortions and the inaccuracies and find the true essence of God's words, whether it lies in the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Torah, or even scrolls still to be found in the desert that we do not yet know.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Misreading Isaiah

Some of the most interestings remarks I receive regarding my articles are from Rabbanites. They are also in many ways some of the most ludicrous. For example, one such protagonist wanted to argue that Karaites have offered little in comparison to the great achievements in Jewish literature by the Rabbis who were writing and compiling material (the Talmud) from the second century AD onwards. He then goes on to say that Karaites didn't write anything of renown until the eighth century AD, thereby supporting his argument that there were six centuries of Rabbinical literary achievements and even some Karaite writers suggested that their followers should read some of this Rabbinical documentation. That was the sum total of his argument for the superiority of Rabbinical Judaism. That it had six centuries of writing in advance of Karaism and that Karaites were urged to read that material. Whoah! I don't know if I can debate against such an advanced and credible argument (dripping sarcasm). First of all, the greatest of all Karaite scripture is the Torah. Yes, I will call that Karaite since it is the heart of Boethian and Zadokite teachings which were the forerunners of Karaism. And since Karaism relies only on the Tanach (original 24 books which include the Torah) unlike Rabbinic Judaism which relies more heavily on the Talmud which in many instances negates what is written in the Torah (as some of my articles have pointed out), then by all rights it can be claimed and supported that the original Karaite scriptures are from the twelfth century BC and therefore are far oldelr than these much later Rabbinic writings. As for Karaites reading Rabbinic documents, how fortunate that we practice a religion that is tolerant of other sects, and as Anan ben David, our spiritual founder encouraged us to do in the eight century, to read everything and then make our own personal decisions based on the Torah. My protagonist missed to point of how enlightened we Karaites are as contrasted to the narrow scope of the Rabbanites, whom still in their daily prayer of reciting the Amidah, curse the names of Boethus and Zakok and pray for the demise and destruction of their followers. Since Karaism was the natural evolution of the religious doctrines established by these two second century BC priests, it only naturally follows that these Rabbanites are also praying for our demise and destruction as Karaites. How enlightened is that?

But todays article is not about Rabbinical Jewish followers and their inability to see and comprehend that they are the anomoly that resulted within Judaism, not Karaites. What I'll be discussing today is again from the works of one of the great Karaite scholars and writers, Isaac ben Abraham of Troki, whom the Rabbanites would like to pretend was one of theirs but sadly for them, he was not and he openly declared himself a Karaite so that there would be no mistake when referring to his works. Just one more point to make for those Rabbanites that still think the weightiness of Rabbinical writing is justification for its superiority; it was never a matter of how much is written but a case of how well it was written. And in that regard, Troki's Hazuk Emunah is one of the great books of Jewish wisdom.
The Misunderstood Virgin

Much is made of Isaiah 7:14 by Christian scholars when they read, "Therefore the Lord shall give unto you a sign; behold the young woman is with child and she will bear a son and she will call his name Emanuel.(God is with us)" For most Christians this one verse is the evidence they claims supports their entire faith. They proclaim that this son born to a young virgin was none other than Jesus and that the prophet Isaiah had predicted his arrival six centuries earlier.

The first evidence of something not right should be the reference to 'the young woman' by the prophet. He used the word Almah which does not in any manner refer to a young woman that has not had sexual relations with a man. We find the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 24:14 when Eleazar is sent back east to find a wife for Isaac and is instructed that "there shall be a young woman who cometh out to draw water." There certainly was no reference to the girl's virginity, only her youthfulness. And just to emphasize the point further, we would hardly refer to a young man as being a virgin, so in 1 Samuel 17:58, when the prophet asks, "Whose son is this lad," he uses the word Alem which is the masculine form of the word Almah. And we would hardly suggest that when in Isaiah 54:4 the prophet says, "And thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth," that he was acutally saying, "And thou shalt forget the shame of they virginity," because he used the word Alumim to indicate youth. So as it should be obvious to my Messianic and Christian readers, the reference to a virgin giving birth was a total distortion of what was actually written.

That being the case, then what is 7:14 actually about? To provide that answer, it is necessary that one reads what precedes this statement. It wasn never intended to be taken out of context and only when read in conjuction with the earlier sentences of the chapter does it start to make sense. The chapter is about King Ahaz, the king of Judah, and what decisions he needed to make concerning the alliance by Pekah, King of Israel and Rezin, King of Syria who were preparing to attack Jerusalem. Isaiah went to Ahaz in order to tell him not to fear, God would be on his side. A sign would be given to Ahaz to show him that God would not abandon him and it was this child that would prove to be this sign. Ahaz, who saw the immediate danger on his borders would hardly care about a sign that only manifested itself six centuries later. The urgent danger was then and there and Ahaz needed to know that his kingdom was going to survive. So who was this young woman with child? It was none other than Isaiah's young wife. And when she gave birth he named the child Emmanuel and later also called his son, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Speed the plunder and hasten the spoil). Why the second name or title? Because Isaiah wanted to reassure the king that not only would his kingdom be saved but in turn both the Kingdoms of Israel and Syria would be crushed. As far as prophecies go, this one may have been self-fulfilling because at the same time Ahaz was being reassured by the prophet he was also being counselled to ally himself with Tiglath-Pilezar, King of Assyria. And as we know from Kings 16:9, Tiglath-Pilezar hearkened unto him and went up against Damascus and took it and slew Rezin. We also know form verse 30 that Hosea led a coup against Pekah shortly afterward, putting the king to death and reigning in his stead.

So now that you have a better historical perspective, read the prophecy again in Isaiah 7:14 and recognize what was actually being prophesized. When you appreciate that it had nothing to do with Jesus, you then have to reconcile all the other misunderstood concepts related to the virgin birth. Of course, there will be those that refuse to accept this interpretation even though it is crystal clear, arguing that we never have a reference from Isaiah that he first called his son Emmanuel. The only reference to naming the son is in the next chapter and then he is called by the Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz name and no other. The fact that he was called Emmanuel is implied from Isaiah 7:16, "for before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorest shall be forsaken of both the kings." It is obvious which two kings the prophet is referring to and there can be no question that the significance of naming him, "God is With Us," was to provide Ahaz with the confidence that he would withstand their assault. In the next chapter when describing the events around Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, he uses the same references of the child being too young to know what's happening, a clear indication that he's talking about one and the same child in both accounts.

For those that still wish to believe that Isaiah 7:14 was still in reference to Jesus, then let's examine why the name Emmanuel was never applied to the son of Joseph and Mary. Firstly, the significance of God is With Us is entirely different from the meaning of Yeshua, or Saviour. In fact the indication of God's presence is not necessarily equivalent to his being a saviour in that capacity. In fact in Luke 2:21 we find at the naming ceremony following his circumcision, the baby was named Jesus because that was the name given to him by the angel while he was still in the womb. It is strange that had he been fulfilling the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah, that it did not say that he was named Emmanuel by the angel while he was in the womb. In that way they could have easily explained his being named Jesus after his birth without negating the possibility he was called differently at time of conception. But they didn't and in so doing they did negate any such possibility.

So with this in mind, let us reflect on whether it was ever intended by the early Christian followers that Jesus was to be seen as a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. It would appear that any linkage to Emmanuel was a much later development. And if there was no linkage intended then the entire concept of the virgin birth was not intentional either and merely something that was contrived at a much later date when certain individuals decided to take Christianity in an entirely different direction from its early leaders.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Arian Heresy

“Whenever we are witness to the great assemblies of self appointed learned and great men we can expect the world to shake and quake in fear.

One doesn’t have to dig deep into the history of mankind to see that the quotation is as valid today as it was sixteen hundred years ago. Whether it is an assembly for political change, religious institution, a war council or even a modern day assembly like the United Nations, the truth is that the outcome more than often results in the inevitable destruction and devastation that only mankind can unleash upon his own species. We are guilty of the most heinous crimes yet we appear doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past.

What is it that drives us to unequalled levels of cruelty against our fellow man in order to exercise our narrow minded pursuit to exercise our will over that of others, to both the detriment and neglect of others, as long as it satisfies our own selfish needs? How is it that we can cloak are misguided intents beneath a shroud of liberalism or humanitarianism even though from the outcome it is obvious that our imposition of our myopic view only causes greater suffering to the many while the few we have protested to protect are minor in significance and very often worth.

It today's PC, mixed up world, it would appear that in our efforts to appear humanitarian, we have forgotten the meaning of a word which implied the ‘taking care of the human race’ not the interests of an individual or a small group that are opposed to the good of society. To safeguard a minority bent on evil, destructive and anti-social programs is to be anything but humanitarian. From criminals to activists, they are still simply people that feel they have the right to exercise their rights illegally and often violently. We must reexamine the misguided concepts that have pervaded our legal, political and religious structures. We must protect the majority as long as that majority does not persecute or harass the minority. And most importantly we must act in the public good if we are to survive as a species. These last few points are easily forgotten when minorities obtain power and a voice well beyond their proportion and measure and a majority remains both passive and silent. Such was the case with Christianity as it moved towards being granted state recognition. But rather than learn from the mistake of Church development, the error has been perpetrated and perpetuated for countless centuries into modern times and these new minorities, vocal well beyond their numbers, have inherited the legacy of enforcing their will upon the majority simply because they have gained the support of high ranking officials, political pawns, acceptable violence and a legal system that has abandoned the Mosaic Laws with no sentence or sensibility behind its enforcement.

The Arian Church

This setting of an impossible goal led many to fall into the ever widening net of heresy. One of its victims that it ensnared was a questioning priest in Alexandria by the name of Arius. Arius could not understand how God, being so pure and good have any direct contact with the real world. To do so would mean that the Lord would willingly allow himself t be contaminated by impurity and imperfection and that was unacceptable. How could he or his followers believe in a God anything less than perfect? Therefore he concluded, Jesus could not be a version of the same being. He would have had to have been something completely different; an intermediary with a divine spark but not then or ever a manifestation of God himself. That being the case, Arius continued to teach his followers that Jesus was a being completely separate from the Father and therefore should not be worshipped as such. Immediately, the Bishop of Alexandria called for the excommunication of Arius before he could do irreparable harm.

Concerned that this Arian heresy would tear apart the Church that he had so neatly stitched together, the Emperor Constantine summoned the great council in 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea. With close to two hundred bishops from all over the empire, Constantine insisted by the end of the assembly they must have a unified decision on the direction of Christianity, a document we have come to know as the Nicene Creed.

The Attainment of Power

Following Constantine’s Edict of Toleration written 311 AD, the power of religious authority was concentrated in the hands of one church and one church alone, that being the Catholics, then regarded as the official Church of Rome. The word ‘Toleration’ in the title was a misnomer since it was obvious the Catholic Church was proposed as the universal church and all others were discluded from the equation. With the balance of power to determine the future direction of Christianity, the Catholic Church immediately switch its policy from safeguarding the traditions from misinterpretation to that of eliminating deniers of the Truth. What this meant to the early adherents of Judeo-Christian traditions that they could no longer deny the divinity of Christ. To do so would be to refuse the Trinity and accept the Unity of God. Those churches that believed Yeshua was a man in whom the spirit of God dwelt had to adopt the belief that Jesus was a divine spirit that assumed human flesh. And in so doing the belief in Jesus as the Son of God had to be upheld otherwise you could not belong to this new Orthodox Church. The difficulty in accepting the ideology that the Father and Son were actually different designations of the same being was overcome in one of two ways. Either you accepted it at face value, never to question it again, or you were to be branded a heretic and either killed or banished. Doubt, disbelief, endless questioning were all silenced rapidly.

Enforcement of these beliefs to the elimination of all others could only be met by growing resistance. A Yeshua without humanity became an unattainable goal. Why worship a being that couldn’t possibly be a role model for other human beings, since as God he was incapable of performing or contemplating a sin. Perfection couldn’t be tainted and therefore any relevance as a role model was negated. The Jesus of this old-new church was out of touch with the common people.

The Final Solution

Homoousios was the word that became doctrine at the assembly in Nicaea. Translated it meant ‘of one substance.’ That was their final decision that the Father and Son were from one substance and Yeshua’s divinity was never to be questioned again. In reality, the decision failed to decide anything. Those that still believed as Arius taught refused to accept the final decision and publicly stated so. As for Arius, he was publicly humiliated, excommunicated and exiled but that resolved little. Even though the majority stood against Arius, he challenged them on their creation of a terminology ‘homoousios’ which was nowhere to be found in either the Old or New Testaments. Therefore, similar to Karaites like myself whom accuse the Rabbanites of constantly inventing religious doctrine to suit their own needs, Arius did likewise to his Catholic brethren. In their defense the Bishops passed a ruling that they too could be divinely inspired and therefore they were permitted to create new doctrine. Now legally backed by their newly established power they were confident they could mold Christianity any way they so desired and in feeling thus, they introduced the dogma of immaculate conception which had no religious foundation in any of the sacred books but they no longer required sacred writings to establish the rules.

Constantine found himself sitting in a quagmire. By initially agreeing with the Council’s doctrine he had given them powers far in excess of any they held previously. By instilling within them the ability to create religious doctrine and dogma based entirely on their own feelings at the time, he had turned them into rivals rather than subordinates. The Nicaean Creed was received well in the West but the Eastern Bishoprics struggled with its introduction since they had the greatest concentration of adherents from the early Judeo-Christian Churches and those members refused to accept the incorporation of absolute power into the hands of the clergy.

Fearing what he had done, Constantine in 328 AD recalled Arius from exile and supported the Arian policies or anti-Nicene party but it was too late.

Absolute Confusion

For the next four hundred years Arianism survived but wherever it raised its head it was hunted down, tortured and eradicated. The Catholic Church was determined to eliminate this threat no matter how long that might take fearing that the policies of Arius called into question their power and the divine nature of Yeshua. As soon as the populace began to question those doctrines then it would spell the end of the control over the minds and bodies of men. Arianism served a purpose; it reinforced the establishment of Orthodox doctrine. Each and every time that the threat of Arianism arose, the Chatholic Church felt compelled to hold a council and introduce even more legislation to safeguard their empire. Most aren’t even aware of the next Nicene Creed, the one that took place in 381 AD. From that the Church obtained, “For us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was made man.” There was also the new swearing of allegiance to the “Holy Ghost, the Lord and the Giver of Life.” But that didn’t succeed in being taken on very well by the congregations and eventually became replaced by the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” much easier for most to recite. The concept of the Holy Ghost had to be introduced because Arius refused to believe that the Spirit that infused Jesus was a part of God, insisting that it was no higher in its creation than that of an angel. In this way, the Church ensured that no part of their Trinity could be questioned as being anything less than God.

But by creating this new omnipotence and infallibility of Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost a new threat was created. These were referred to as the “divine mysteries”, unanswerable questions that were beyond man’s comprehension and therefore not required to be answered by the clergy. If God actually manifested Himself on earth, then why had nothing actually improved? If God gave forgave man all his sins, then why did he sin more than ever with each passing year? If had tasted the suffering of mankind during his experience in human flesh then why did he permit man to suffer so? All these divine mysteries and yet so few divine answers, for no other reason that anything divine had been totally eradicated from this new Christianity which claimed to be Orthodox yet had by the end of the fifth century as I have elucidated in these articles removed anything that may perchance have been the original Christian beliefs based on its Jewish heritage. What was left was a hollow shell filled with only the whims and desires a handful of sacrilegious men. What was also clear by the end of the fifth century was that the man in charge was the Bishop of Rome, a position as history has shown could be bought, stolen, killed for and above all, abused. And from that point in time was when the questions should have been asked. Was there ever an original Christian teaching that an institutional Church was the true path? Hardly, the use of the Greek word ‘ecclesia’ in Jerusalem actually translated as an assembly, suggesting leadership would only be via elders, not by something called a church which the Greek now is translated as. Was a single man ever destined to be considered the voice of God? Though James had assumed the mantle of leadership following his brother’s death, at no time did he claim his words to be infallible as the Pontiff of Rome now claimed. Error compounded upon error and every time a spiritual leader appeared that attempted to turn back the clock, he was branded as a heretic and his followers persecuted to death. And therein lies the root cause of so much which has gone wrong with our institutions of today. When the guiding light that a quarter of the world looks towards was based on principles that barely represented the original directives then it follows that all subsequent institutions wallow in their own ineptitude having nothing upon which to define their morality. Like a pendulum, they will swing wildly from end to end seeking the balance but never able to find that point of equilibrium since they are constantly out of sync with every other organization and institution. Without harmony there can be no balance. Without a return to the original beliefs there is no chance to find the guiding light. Without knowledge and understanding of whence we came there can be no comprehension of what we were destined for. And without Karaism there is no way of recognizing what it is we have all lost so long ago.