Ancient Mesopotamia is the area corresponding to modern-day Iraq and to a lesser extent northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and smaller parts of southwestern Iran. It is also known as the 'land of rivers" because it is located in the area between the two rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates, which were already mentioned as early as in the book "Genesis" from the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), that is known as "Bereesjiet" in the Torah. The Tanakh was adapted later by Christianity in the Old Testament and therefore its content is (with the exception of a few passages from the Book of Daniel which had been written in Aramaic) hardly different from the original Old-Hebrew text. The books are ordered differently however.
Map of the ancient near east.
Certain ancient Mesopotamian myths, including the myths of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians, have remarkable similarities with the stories of the Tanakh and the Old Testament. It is known that these ancient Mesopotamian stories are much older and sometimes even more detailled. For example: The story about the person Utnapistim from the Gilgamesh epic is very similar to the flood story that is mentioned in the book of Genesis in the Bible and the Tanakh. This would imply that, these "Bible stories", probably would have their roots in those earlier myths - instead of a diversion, what often had been thought.
The Bible is essentially a compilation of ancient texts, selected by the early church fathers. These texts deeply illustrate the beliefs and dogmas of an ancient culture. However, texts that people weren't supposed to read - because they were not in accordance to the current general Christian orthodox belief - were labeled as uncanonical and were purposely left out in the Bible, and this includes all works that were seen as apocryphal and Gnostic, like the "Book of Enoch", even though the canonical text Genesis 5:24 makes a very shortly reference to this man called Enoch:
"Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away."
The full version of the book of Enoch was once thought to be lost, but fortunately this book was later discovered again within the Ethiopian version of the Bible, where this book never had been excluded.
Possibly, one might think that it could affect the stability and integrity of the Christian community as these books, which are still criticized within the orthodox Christian community, were to be officially added to the Bible.
Already since in the days of early Christianity there was the division between traditional Christianity and Gnosticism. Just because the oldest known scriptures (the Nag Hammadi codices) are typically Gnostisic in nature, it is clear that early Christianity was originally much closer to the Gnostic teachings compared to the traditional Christian teachings that at a certian time became the national religion of Rome and which from there did spread to other countries. The consequence was that the Roman Catholic Church became a very powerful organization in a number of European countries and its inhabitants - often followers of Pagan nature religions - were forced to convert themselves to the new religion of Christianity, otherwise one was sentenced to death.
Within the traditional Christian conceptions of God, there is an unbridgeable distance between man and God, what is quite different in Gnosticism. The fundamental difference between the traditional Christian view and Gnosticism is that in Gnosticism everything and everyone is part of a total unity that is known in the gnosticism as the "All", or "the Father". On a certain level, Gnosticism and Buddhism are quite similar. Possibly, this could be because of influences of eastern mysticsm. Dutch philosopher and translator, Bram Moerland, described some typical Gnostic concepts (between quotation marks):
Like a beam of light is related to the sun, so man is also related to the Source.
We have "the features of the Father".
We are the "heirs of the Father".
to the traditional Christian view, Jesus Christ is the only Son of God,
while Jesus himself declared several times in the ancient "Gnostic" texts that
people are also sons (and daughters) of the Most High (God). The
reader who understands will notice these kind of messages also in
the canonical texts in the Bible. The problem was however that most
people did not properly understood or could believe this. When the
once wanted to stone Jesus he asked them why they wanted to kill him.
Then they answered: "Because you, a mere man, claim to be God" (John
10:33). Jesus then answered them by quoting Psalm
82:6 which says:
From the texts from the Bible and from the Gnostic texts, it is evident that Jesus of Nazareth knew he was also a son of God, and when he did proclaim this explicitly - as it was his goal to raise the consciousness of the people - he was ultimately crucified on behalf of blasphemy by the Romans. As many Roman emperors were declared as gods by the Roman Senate (generally after their death), those in power were not especially keen on the idea that people would see themselves as part of God and therefore equal to each other.Also according to the traditional Christian community, is the Bible the unchanging "Word of God" and there would never had been any alterations in the Bible. There is however enough evidence that - during the past centuries - many portions of the texts had been ommitted or changed. By comparing the texts from the modern day Bible to the older versions from the Nag Hammadi writings it is actually clear that the original texts differ from the later canon at many thousands of points. (See for many examples the book (Dutch): "Valsheid in geschrifte: de gespleten pen van bijbelschrijvers" (2003) by Jacob Slavenburg.)
In fact, the part of the Bible we know today as the New Testament is actually a translation based on the Greek versions of these writings, as the original Hebrew and Aramaic writings were believed to be lost until the Nag Hammadi writings were discovered. We now know that the name "Jesus" is actually a Greek "conversion" for the Aramaic/Hebrew name: "Yeshua", as both names are verbal derivatives that have the same meaning: "to rescue" or "to deliver". This however does not have to mean that "Yeshua" was really his usual name by which he was called.
In the year 2011, a research group from Canada announced that they found a whole new way to interpret the ancient Hebrew texts of the Old Testament. According to their findings, they discovered that each letter is not a letter at all, but a full word, and what was believed to be a word, is actually a sentence-like description, which supplies the definition of the word. This whole new approach would reveal much more details compared to the already known translation. This is significant because the most versions of the esoteric teachings of the Kabballah already stated before that each letter, every word, number and accent of the Tenach would contain a hidden meaning. The Chronicle Project stated on their website that are also in the proces of translating the original Aramaic texts that we know today as texts that are part of the New Testament. (See this CNN iReport from the 23th of May 2011, and their website www.thechronicleproject.org for more information.)
Since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi writings it is clear that the church as institution is very a conservative one that chooses to deny this kind of developments over any progress that could possibly cause some change of their own statements and visions. Possibly they think such changes would destabilize the institution but it would appear that actually the opposite is true; Many people lost faith in the Christian Church because it is not receptive for progression, adaptation and renovation, and as a result of this it does not blend that well in these modern times of free thinking and freedom of belief.
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