Some days I wonder what today’s Yeshua movement would be like if Saul, the persecutor Rabbi hadn’t fallen off his Damascus Road donkey. Suppose the Jewish scholar-policeman had just ‘pulled himself together’ and spurred his trusty ass on towards another religious roundup; how would the Way, later to morph into Christianity, appear in 2013? Call me strange but this somewhat unsettling quirky, what if thinking seems to be part of my Irish psycho-spiritual makeup, so please bear with me!
Many today believe the true Gospel or Good News to be the pure revelation of God as expounded in the writings of Saul. Their reasoning goes something like this:
Yeshua came to teach the Kingdom of God, it was largely rejected by his listeners, and so God and he switched to plan B, that had really been plan A all along viz. his death and resurrection. So far so good to a point. In the early days of the embryonic, Jerusalem, Yeshua community it would appear that his followers, including his ex-disciples didn’t get it quite right! Except for Stephen that is for he, like Yeshua before him, drew the mob violence of the religious establishment upon himself, becoming the first so-called Christian martyr, for only Truth tends to draw the raging genie out of a highly polished sacred lamp.
Yet, the reasoning goes that God still hadn’t got His perfect message out! Even though the Jerusalem gang had lived with Yeshua during his space-time mission and had been taught by him post resurrection over many days, a finer intellect was needed, one who would really get it.
And so we arrive at Saul, aka Paul and his stumbling attempts to understand the One who’d knocked him off his perch as Temple sponsored Inquisitor in Chief. The big transformation in Paul however took place somewhere else, one where most of his old religious paradigm seems to have rapidly gone down the metaphysical drain. This Pauline womb of creativity appears to have been the Arabian, or more accurately, the Jordanian desert, where the new convert claimed to have been caught up into the Jewish Third Heaven and granted unspeakable glimpses of Ultimate Reality. This is where Paul professed to have gained his insights into the whole Yeshua phenomenon, later described by him as my Gospel or Good News‘.
Later writing to his fellow Yeshua followers in Galatia, the new apostle claimed not to have received his teachings from Peter and his Jerusalem friends but directly from the risen Yeshua. Clearly then, the converted Rabbi was what is commonly called a mystic, one who receives direct revelation from Divine Source, rather than the status quo teaching of his contemporaries.
So what, if any, is the big problem?
Wasn’t Paul clearly sent along to lift the message of Yeshua and his former disciples to a whole new level, one that the Gentile would could accept without all those painful Jewish disciplines such as circumcision? Let’s face it; which of us men wouldn’t have signed up to be a Paulian?
Well, looking back at things from our 21st century perspective it’s hard to see the problems, but problems there certainly were once Paul added his mystical mix to the existing Yeshua mythology. Many of us have observed hints of the religious rivalry within the early Yeshua movement as described in the book of Acts, a Pauline stream account of the tensions between his followers and the fledgling movement’s elder statesmen back in Jerusalem with their particularly Jewish take on their risen leader. Let’s be honest: there must be a wee bit of Pauline propaganda in Luke’s Acts narrative; no-one writes to paint their charismatic leader as a ‘heretic’ but rather the bearer of a superior revelation, one that surpasses the previously accepted take on spiritual reality. Paul, In reality Paul was only one among many interpreters of the whole Yeshua event, those who jostled for the label of God sanctioned teacher. The early Yeshua movement was I’m afraid, not one big happy family but a collage of metaphysical takes on the revolutionary Nazarene, one with it’s all too obvious tensions and rivalries.
Three centuries on the Pauline interpretation of Yeshua’s execution and resurrection were later confirmed by the Constantine instigated Counsel of Nicaea as Christian with letters accredited to his authorship later included in the accepted Canon of Holy Writings, known as the New Testament.
So what’s the big deal you say?
Well, may I humbly suggest that Paul’s writings have gained a super status position within Reformed Theology and its modern love children viz. evangelicalism and its Pentecostal and Charismatic offshoots; one that is, all things considered, spiritually unhealthy. Having been raised to the level of Sacred Scripture, Paul’s metaphysical musings infer that the Gospel narrative accounts of Yeshua’s life and teaching don’t quite reveal the Mysteries of the Cosmos. The Tao/Logos in human form did not fully reveal all that needed to be revealed. Neither in fact do the other relatively recently discovered accounts of the early Yeshua movement, in the form of the so-called ‘Gnostic Gospels’.
Am I suggesting that we shouldn’t read Paul’s or his disciples’ take on Yeshua. No not at all. There is clearly something rich and unique within his narratives that reflect the awe and wonder of the mystical Yeshua, the Cosmic Christ to borrow a New Age term. Rather, what I am suggesting is that we have ignored the Gospel narratives, both canonical and excluded, at our peril. Our spirituality has been based on Pauline interpretation, giving us a one-sided limp on our pilgrimage home. Personally I believe that all that we require to come into mimetic salvation with the Divine Source is contained hidden within the overly familiarized Yeshua accounts within the accepted Gospels.
May I humbly suggest that God didn’t grab Rabbi Saul to be ‘the’ authentic interpreter or indeed founder of ‘Christianity’, as many modern Yeshua followers subliminally believe, but to paint a uniquely colored stroke on the multifarious canvas of Divine Truth.
So let’s dip into the rich variety of religious writings that abound around the person of Yeshua rather than remain Paul freaks. To do so will make us more sensitive to our own inner Journey and that of those around us. Life, especially the spiritual life, is full of surprises.
Dylan’s Author page ~ https://www.amazon.com/author/dylanmorrison