Monday, January 25, 2016
The Bible Unlocked
Sacred texts intrigue me and although they can be difficult to read, I often find little gems that shine like diamonds in my mind. It is as if they have the power of a seed to sprout over time, tickling my brain with a new thought. We can find inspiration in any of these ancient books; The Bhagavad Gita, The Vedas, The Tanach, The Quran or The Bible.
It may have escaped our attention that we are now free to read any of these books. Previously it would have been necessary to be a devotee of a particular faith before we could have access to its sacred texts. Not only that, only a few hundred years ago not many people could read, but also, only the religious leaders were allowed to read these sacred texts to their followers according to certain guidelines.
Today, many sacred texts are freely available on The Sacred Text Archive
The question then arises about how we can understand these texts. This has been my mission for over thirty years. My biography explains my journey. Beginning on New Year’s day in 2003 I first began writing about hidden meanings in the Bible. These hidden meanings are not associated with any religious philosophies; they apply across the board and appeal to many kinds of readers.
I would like to take you on a journey through the Bible, mostly the New Testament, to show you how it can make sense to our modern outlook. I will start by explaining how some of the words translated into English lose their true meaning. I will also introduce some ideas about the makeup of the human being which are necessary if we are to make full sense of what the Bible actually means.
Take this text for instance.
“May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit (pneuma) and soul (psuche) and body (soma) be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Th 5:23
Why would St Paul bother describing us human beings in this way? Never mind what he meant by “kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I will come to that because it doesn’t mean what we think it does).
One of the first hurdles to overcome when reading the Bible is our understanding of the nature of the human being which is usually limited to its physical substance of flesh and blood. A closer look at human nature reveals three different human characteristics; body, soul and spirit, each of which expresses itself differently.
If we think about ourselves and how we function in the world, we know that we are beings who think ideas; have sensations, feelings, and emotions; and we act according to how we think and feel. It is these three essential human faculties; feeling, thinking and acting, that we need to be more conscious of. They are tangible; we experience them every moment of each day. Not only that, each of these three faculties is linked to our body, soul and spirit.
Psuche, from which we have the word psychology, can be translated in the Bible as heart, life, mind or soul, and refers to our soul which gives us our capacity to feeling and sense things. Pneuma can be translated as breath, life, spirit or wind, it is our spiritual nature associated with our ability to think, it is suggestive of thoughts that can blow through our mind. Our body, which is the earthly vehicle of the soul and spirit, in Greek is soma, the centre of human activity and mobility, which we can identify with the human will.
In 2 Corinthians we can see how these bodies are referred to in other ways. It is interesting to note that without our spiritual body we are naked, which is a direct reference to events in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve saw that they were naked.
“For we know that if the earthly tent [physical body] we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God [spiritual body], a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed” 2 Cor 5:1-4
Finally, the words from Thessalonians 1 5:23, “kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” have a very specific meaning, which in broad terms refers to the work we must do to become aware of our full human potential. The word sound is tereo which means to watch, observe, become conscious of. What are we to become conscious of? Ourselves as beings of body, soul and spirit.
Blameless is amemptos, which means perfect, without fault and is a direct reference to our values and motives. Are our actions motivated to benefit ourselves, or for the benefit of everyone? This text is really saying become conscious with good values and motives.
It is surprising to notice how we change when we consider these small things about ourselves. I welcome any comments and experiences that arise for you as you consider these thoughts.
First published on Huffington Post