OLD and New Testaments From 597 BC onwards the Old Testament was regarded by the Jews as a religious document. The Christians till about 150 CE continued to hold the Old Testament as their religious book. Testament means covenant with God and later it came to mean the holy scripture—particularly Bible. Bible has two variations, the earlier one respected by the Jews and the later by the Christians.
The New Testament or Bible is a compilation of records. There were many versions of the life and sayings of Jesus in circulation. This is shown by St Luke’s Gospel. The process of compilation, editing, revising and translating continued till 400 CE when the Bible known as Codex Sinaiticus was adopted. Another 4th century Bible is Codex Vaticanus. The Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Ephrami Rescriptus are 5th century versions.
New researches after the discovery of Dead Sea scrolls and some old scrolls in Nag Hammadi in Egypt have shown that the Biblical versions have been edited to serve the interest of the Church.
The Church and the apostles have chosen the version or edition that was to be circulated. It was only in the 2nd century that Jesus was recognised as a messiah and in the 4th century he was declared as son of God.
The third edition of Coverdales bible was printed in 1537 with the King’s most gracious licence and was the first official Bible in England. Coverdale had commenced his translation at the instigation of Thomas Cromwell.
The authorised version now in use in English was published in 1611. A revised version of the New Testament appeared in 1881. Old Testament was revised in 1884 and Apocrypha in 1895. Apocrypha are books not included in Jewish and protestant scriptures. This revision invited severe criticism.
It was Cromwell who first authorised an English Bible for use. It was called the Great Bible.
The Puritans favoured the Geneva Bible which did not support the Divine right of Kings. The Anglicans favoured a strong role for the King in relation to Church. King James I supported the Anglicans.
In 1604 King James I called the Hampton Court Conference for translating the Bible from original sources and to print it without annotations. This new version would only be used in all churches in England. Earlier, some Bibles were in circulation with varying annotations. The King James Bible was completed in 1611. Oxford University had the monopoly to publish it.
The Bible did not arrive from heaven by fax or e-mail. The Bible is a product of man not God. Man created it as a historical record. It has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the Bible.
More than 80 Gospels were considered for the New Testament and only a few were chosen including Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Irony is that Bible was collated by Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great who was a pagan.
Genesis is the first book in the compendium of books written between 1000 BC and 350 BC known as Hebrew scriptures or the Old Testament of Bible.
The oldest set of writings are ascribed to Moses. They are known as Pentateuch meaning 5 books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). These books had many authors and they were written mostly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic. The full set of Hebrew scriptures comprises 39 books.
The New Testament is made of 27 books. They tell about the life and teachings of Jesus. These works were first written in Greek by multiple authors during the 1st and 2nd centuries. The writers were not contemporary of Jesus.
Christian church adopted certain tactics to popularise the faith. Circumcision and dietary restrictions were dropped. Roman Emperor Aurelian had marked December 25 as the birthday of the Sol invictus (unconquered Sun). He followed the popular pagan feast day. In 273 CE Christians chose 25th December as the birthday of Jesus.
It must be remembered that the new Testament in English is a result of compilation and translations from old languages e.g. Greek, Aramaik, Hebrew etc. spanning several centuries.
The doctrine of virgin birth owes its origin to a mistake by a translator. In the Old Testament Issaiah 7:14 the Prophet Issaiah says to King Ahaz of Judah “Behold, ha’almah shall conceive and bear a son…”. In the New Testament Gospel of Matthew this prophesy is told thus “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son.” The Hebrew word almah (Old Testament) was translated in New Testament as partheos, which means virgin. The correct expression for almah would have been “young woman”. It has no relation to virginity.
It seems that the authors of New Testament followed septuagint—the translation of Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek.
With the spread of christianity in Europe there was a demand for translation of Bible in local languages. The Church initially was opposed to translation in crude vernacular languages. It also held the view that only the clergy be allowed to read the Bible. There was debate over which writings should be included and which be omitted. Passages were to be selected for promoting political agenda.
The earliest translation of scriptures from Hebrew to Greek are called Septuagint. It was translated by Jews in Alexandria during the period 275–100 BC. 70 scholars translated it which gave it the name Septuagint. When Christians started using it and made revisions in it the Jews felt disconcerted and gave up using it in 70 BC. By 100 AD the Old Testament was translated in Syriac spoken in a part of Turkey. In the 4th century it was translated into Coptic, a language of Egypt (now UAR). Around this time Gothic, Ethiopian, Slavonic, Arabic and Armenian versions were prepared.
In 405 AD a Roman scholar Esubius, popularly called Jerome, translated it into vulgar Latin (the spoken language of a part of Roman Empire). His translation was based on earlier Greek, Hebrew and Latin sources. The Church did not approve his efforts. He had to flee and move to Palestine where he completed his work. It is known as Vulgate because the language used is Vulgar Latin. Later it became the accepted Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.
English Translations of Bible
John Wycliff translated the Vulgate into English in the year 1382. Wycliff desired to make the Bible readable by the common Englishman. The Church opposed the view. Wycliff was forced to resign from Oxford where he was a teacher. Forty four years after his demise his bones were dug out of his grave and burnt under the order of the Pope. He was declared a heretic for translating the Bible into English.
Martin Luther of Germany was a reformist. In 1517, he criticised the Catholic Church for sale of pardons, called indulgences, for sins. Those who purchased indulgences were assured by the Pope that they would not be punished in hell. In 1522, he published a German translation of the New Testament. He expressed doubts about the authenticity of many of the earlier books. Luther had to run across Europe to save his life from the Church. But he freed the Bible from the Clergy and unknowingly unified the German language.
In the 16th century an Englishman William Tyndale was inspired to translate the Bible in English, even though in his day the nobles spoke French and the language of learned discourse was Latin. Tyndale dare not publish it in England so he published it in Germany. It was secretly under print in 1525 but some how it leaked and the Catholic Church destroyed it. Tyndale took the risk again and his version was printed the next year. His translation was based on the Latin translation made by Erasmus in 1516.
English Church took no time in condemning the English rendering of the New Testament by Tyndale. He was declared a heretic and his arrest was ordered. He went underground and succeeded in publishing English translation of 5 books of Moses in 1530. Ultimately he was caught, tried and ordered to be strangled. His body was not interred but ordered to be burnt. So in 1536 AD Tyndale paid the price for translating the Bible.
Christianity and Science
Copernicus received a copy of his book on 24th May 1543 on his death bed. It was printed in Nuremberg. The title was Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies. (The book and its title were in Latin). It differed from the view of the Church that the Sun and the planets revolve round the earth.
The Church supported the view that earth was the centre of universe. The Sun and the planets revolved around it. This was contained in a book Almagest collected by Ptolemy in 2nd century CE.
Giordino Bruno was born in 1550 at Naples. He was a monk but believed in the Copernican theory that the earth and planets revolve round the Sun. He fled at the age of 24 from his monastery fearing prosecution for heresy. In Venice he was arrested by the Inquisition. For six years he was kept in dungeons and tortured to make him recant. He was a courageous soul who refused to deny the truth. He talked of infinite space and infinite number of worlds. On 17th February 1600 he was burnt at the stake. He preferred a spirited death to a cowardly life.
Galileo looked at the planets and stars through a telescope and supported the views of Bruno. The Church declared telescope as an instrument of devil which created visions to mislead man. It was banned.
Galileo persisted in his experiments and viewing. In 1616 he was condemned by the Church which declared Copernican theory as heresy. He promised not to teach his views but later wrote a dialogue which became the cause for his accusation. He faced the Inquisition. The Church compelled him to recant the truth. Even after that he was kept in prison for 9 years. His condition was pitiful. He had become blind but the Church had no mercy for the heretic.
Newton lost interest in mathematics when he turned 44. In Cambridge he was engrossed in Biblican studies. He wrote studies in Biblical chronology based on the premiss that the world was created in 4004 BC.
When Darwin’s Origin of Species saw the light of the day in the later part of 19th century it was bitterly opposed by the Church. It was through the indomitable efforts of Thomas Huxley in the 1860s that the Church was subdued.
The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were dominated by the Church. Until 1854 no dissenter could go to any of them. Till 1878 only those who followed the Church of England could be appointed to a teaching post. A student who had doubts in the creation as stated in Genesis was ordered to confirm to the views of the Church. In 1877 Prussia forbade the teaching of evolution in schools.
Holy Inquisition and Intersect Violence
Pope is the head of the Church and representative of God on earth. Any person who desires to approach God can do so only through Pope. Every Pope was interested in converting and propogating christianity, for this way his area of influence and money power grew. But the people specially those living in far flung villages who were not involved in the pursuit of power and pelf did not care much for christianity. They clung to their ancestral faith. The Pope called them pagans and villains. Pagan now came to mean a follower of polytheistic religion or a person who has no religion or who is given to sensual pleasures. Earlier it meant a civilian or a country dweller. Similarly a villager became a villain. In order to exterminate the pagans Pope innocent in CE 1200 ordered a crusade against Albigensian heretics. Albigensians were a catharistic sect of southern France. This sect had faith in Christ but did not subscribe to the view that he was a human who died.
This inquisition wiped out the Albigenesian heretics, practically the entire population of the Rhone valley. (So what Hitler adopted as final solution—extermination of Jews—was copied from the Popes.)
In 1215 the Roman Catholic Church established the Inquisition. It was practised by Spain with great zeal. It is estimated that between 1481 and 1834 over 35,000 were burnt at the stake or killed in some other manner.
The Pope planned to liquidate Knights Templar. He undertook an operation to quash them. Pope Clement issued secret sealed orders to be opened simul-taneously by his soldiers all across Europe on Friday, October 13 of 1307. On that day countless Knights were captured, tortured mercilessly and finally burnt at stake. Echos of the event still resonate. To this day Friday the 13th is considered unlucky.
In 1572 on St. Bartholomews Day 50,000 French Protestants were killed. This persecution ended only when Henry IV proclaimed the Edict of Nantes in 1598. In 1685 the Edict of Nantes was repealed. As a consequence some 5 million French Protestants found safety outside France. It was only in 1787, two years before the French Revolution, that the persecution was stopped by the Edict of Toleration. In England during the reign of Henry VIII and Queen Mary persecution was widely practised with the sanction of the crown.
Even after these Inquisitions people adhered to their old religious belief and practices. The Christian Church named it witchcraft. Called it the cult of the Devil or Satan. It condemned their rituals as immoral orgies (though the church simultaneously adopted many of their rites).
In 1424 the first witch was burnt in Rome. In 1484 Pope Innocent ordered punishment to the witches. Historians estimate that in Europe 3,00,000 persons were killed on the ground of witchcraft.
Joan of Arc (1412–1431) was only 17 when she fought for France against the Briths. When she was 19 she was burnt at the stakes. She was declared a witch by the Roman Catholic Church. In her trial a Bishop was the judge. In 1920 the same church has made her a saint. She was burnt because she was not a christian and after 500 years she is revered as a saint.
King James I of England (1603–1625) was openly against witchcraft. He encouraged the active hunting of witches in England and Scotland. His efforts resulted in painful death to thousands of old women. Frequently the test adopted was ducking. The suspect was tied to a chair and dumped in the village pond. If she floated she was guilty because water would not accept an impure or sinful body. If she sank she would generally drown before being pulled out as innocent.
The last trial for witchcraft was held in 1712. It was abolished in 1736 by an Act of Parliament. France also abolished it around the same time but it continued in Spain till 1788.
The Christian Church sought to compel the people professing other faiths to embrace Christianity by applying torture. In the 5th and 11th centuries dissenters were persecuted. In 1252 CE the Pope ordered that heretics should be tortured. A large number of non-believers and dissenters were burnt or strangulated.
One of the most infamous Inquisitors was Thomas Torquemada (1420–1498). He was Inquisitor General of Spain for 18 years during which period 10,220 persons were burnt. Torture had the authority and permission of the Church. It was abolished only in 1816 (Battle of Waterloo 1815).
The usual form of torture were breaking on the wheel, burial alive, impaling on stakes, tearing with red hot pincers. (Some of them are shown in London in Madam Tussad’s). Torture was abolished in Germany in 1831. It was prohibited in Prussia by a law made in 1805.
It is interesting to note that in English legal system torture was permitted to extract a submission to trial by jury from the accused. It was called peine forte et dure. Increasingly heavy weights were put on the chest of the accused till he agreed. It seems to have been abolished in 1827.
Sectorial Laws in England
After reformation Catholics in England were banned from entering London, travelling more than 10 miles from home and owning horses worth more than 10 pounds. Catholics too indulged in persecution. Queen Mary, the catholic daughter of Henry VIII tried hard to demolish the Church of England. Archbishop Thomas Cranner, Bishop Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer were among the many persons who were burnt at stake during her reign (1553 to 1558).
Pope Pius issued a bull (Papal order) excommunicating and deposing Queen Elizabeth I.
Pope Sixtus V gave his support to Spanish Armada which went on a campaign to conquer England. It is another matter that the fleet was defeated and destroyed in 1558 before it could reach the English shore.
Laws were enacted restricting the rights of Catholics from the reign of Elizabeth I to the death of George II in 1760. Catholics got the right to vote in 1832. Catholics were allowed to celebrate mass openly from 1791.
By Statute of 1534, Henry VIII (King of England) was declared to be the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England—A few years later another Act provided that the Archbishops, Bishops etc. could exercise jurisdiction only by, under and from the King. Appeals to Rome were abolished in 1533.
Elizabeth I’s Statute did not claim for her quite the same authority as that of Henry VIII but it claimed to be the Supreme Governor over all causes and persons to the exclusion of any foreign power.
Ecclesiastical Law in England
During the reign of Henry II the powers of the Church and Papacy suffered erosion. Ecclesiastical courts (Courts constituted by Church) had earlier been outside the control of the King. The law administered was the canon law laid down by Pope and the Councils etc. Final appeal lay to Papal curia at Rome. These courts claimed exclusive jurisdiction in the matters of discipline of clergy, the ceremonies and doctrines of Church and over all matrimonial and testamentary (Wills) causes.
During Henry II’s reign it was enacted that clerks (clergyman) accused of serious crimes would be charged in lay courts but if they prove that they are clerics they would be sent to church for trial. The Archbishop of Canterbury (Thomas Backet) was opposed to this move. It was one of the grounds of his quarrel with the King which resulted in his murder in 1170. After this Henry agreed that if a clerk is convicted by the Church the lay courts could not punish him. This concession gave rise to benefit of clergy. Trials of criminous clerks became something of a farce. Acquittal was a foregone conclusion. Gradually the privilege was extended to all who had any connection with the Church. The Royal courts established a test to find out whether the claimant was a clergyman. The test was ability to read. Gradually it meant only reading of verse I of 51st Psalm (which came to be known as neck verse). This test became a fiction. Any male could claim the privilege. Women were not entitled to benefit of clergy. It was in 1547 that the benefit of clergy was taken away in cases of murder, burglary and housebreaking. Only by 18th century a large number of felonies were ‘unclergyable’. Benefit of clergy was finally abolished in 1827.
In the middle ages any real property descended on his death to his legal heirs in accordance with common law. Personal property could be disposed of by a will. If a person died intestate it would devolve not on the legal heirs but on his next of kin. The ecclesiastical courts decided the validity of a will and granted probate.
It is interesting to note that the Church courts enjoyed punitive jurisdiction over all persons in question of faith and morals i.e. any person could be punished for heresy or immorality. This jurisdiction has never been abolished though after the growth of religious tolerance it has disappeared.
Evolution of Certain Tenets
The date of Easter and divinity of Jesus was voted upon and decided in the Nicaean Council 325 CE. Until then Jesus was viewed as a mortal prophet, only a man. But recognising Jesus as son of God was proposed, voted and adopted in the Council of Nicaea. This served two purposes—It precluded pagan challenges to Christianity because Jesus was a deity not a human being and secondly Christians would now redeem themselves only via the established channel—The Roman Catholic Church.
Because Jesus was upgraded more than 300 years after his death, all writing chronicling him as a mortal had to be rewritten. Constantine, the Roman Emperor, commissioned and financed a new Bible which omitted all the Gospels which showed Jesus as a human being and embelished those that made him Godlike. The earlier Gospels were proscribed, gathered and burnt.
Appolonicus of Tyana, a contemporary of Jesus, was a genuine miracle worker. A handred years after his death a Treek scholar Philosotratus wrote a biography of the mystic. When Christianity became State religion (325 CE) all the writings of Philostratus were burnt.
Soon after Christianity came as a belief Celsus, a scholar of Rome, undertook research on the lineage of Jesus and wrote a book. His inference was that Jesus was son of Panthera, a Roman soldier. After 325 CE all copies of his book were burnt.
A person who chose the forbidden Gospels was called heretic. In Latin Haereticus means ‘choice’. Those who chose the original history were the first heretics.
The official religion of Rome was Sun worship. SoI Invictus or the invincible Sun was worshipped and Constantine was its head Priest. Three centuries after Christ there was a constant war between Christians and pagans. In order to save Roman empire from division Constantine decided in 325 CE to unify Rome under a single religion—Christianity. Constantine fused pagan symbols, dates and rituals into Christianity.
Pre Christian God Mithras, called the Son of God and the Light of the World was born on 25th December. He was resurrected 3 days after his burial in a rock tomb. 25th December is also the birthday of Osires, Adonis and Dionysus. Originally Christianity followed the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday. Constantine shifted it to the veneration day of Sun—Sunday.
Constantine held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Coptic Scrolls
Some of the gospels which Constantine attempted to destroy were found around 1950 and are called Dead Sea Scrolls. They were found in a cave near Qumran. Similarly Coptic scrolls were found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. These scrolls have established that the Bible contains fabrications and those who compiled and edited it had their own political agenda.
The Pope tried very hard to suppress the publication of these scrolls. These scrolls prove that Christ was not a celibate and his wife was Mary Magdalene. The Church suppressed it for it conflicted with the divinity of Christ and role of Church. Church was the only vessel through which a man may access the divine.
History is always written by winners. The looser is obliterated.
The Church is very influential. It is still working to keep the world in dark. For 2000 years it has concealed a truth successfully.
Violence against Women
The church had a deceitful and violent history. Their brutal crusade to reeducate the pagan and feminine worshipping religions, spanned three centuries, employing methods as inspired as they were horrific.
The Catholic Inquisition published the book which arguably could be called the most blood soaked publication in human history. Malleus Maleficarum or the witches hammer … instructed the clergy how to locate, torture and destroy them. Those deemed witches by the Church included all female scholars, priestesses, gypsies, mystics, nature lovers, herb gatherers and any woman suspiciously attracted to the natural world. Midwives were also killed for using medical knowledge to care the pain of child birth—a suffering that was God’s rightful punishment for Eve’s partaking of the Apple of knowledge. During 300 years of witchhunt the church burnt at the stake an astounding five million women.
The Role of Pope in the genocide of Jesus and in forgery
During World War II, Pius XII was the Pope. He did not lift a finger to protest against the Nazi massacres of innocent and hapless jews. After defeat of Germany the Pope actively assisted many Nazi leaders to escape trial and execution. They were arranged safe haven in South American countries—all of them Roman Catholic. Pope Pius XII was widely believed to be lackey of Hitler. On 16th July 1933 he signed an agreement with Hitler supporting his views on jews.
If the Pope had called Germany’s 2 crore Catholics not to cooperate with the Hitler and the Nazis, perhaps the jews would have survived. On the other hand the Pope played a central role in the holocast which brought death to 60,00,000 jews. The Pope signed an agreement with Hitler which the Fuhrer himself regarded as a great achievement. Even when jews were seized from the shadow of Vatican and sent to death camps, Pius XII did nothing.
Pope John Paul II was friendly with dictators. He described Chile’s dictator Pinochet and his wife as an ‘exemplary christian couple’. The Pope knew that Pinochet had murdered thousands of socialists and democrats. When the dictator was arrested in UK for crimes against humanity the Pope called for his release. He promoted the lie that condoms are useless in preventing HIV and AIDS. All rural African churches repeated this from the pulpit. God knows how many Africans were condemned to a slow and agonising death.
The Pope owns a bank called Banco Ambrosiano (Vatican bank). Its misdeeds were exposed in 1982. One director committed suicide after fleeing to London. Another fled to the USA but was caught and sent back for trial to Rome in 1996.
The Vatican supports its authority to rule in Rome on a document called Donation of Constantine also called Donatum Silvestri (Sylvester was the Pope at that time). This document was first relied on in 700 CE by Pope Stephen. Doubts were cast in the 15th century over the authenticity of the document. It was odd that Constantine gave authority over his capital New Rome (later known as Constantinople and now Istanbul) even before it was founded. By the 18th century it was generally accepted that the deed was a forgery. Voltaire called it the boldest and most magnificent forgery.
Conversion by force
In China the British, American and the French fought many battles with the Chinese. In 1724 the Chinese had prohibited conversion to Christianity. After winning the battles they dictated terms of treaties which invariably included a commitment to re-legalise Christianty in China. The French assumed responsibilities of the church. Till then the missionaries had their printing process etc. at nearby countries. They were swiftly planted in China by the London Missionary Society. Increasing number of missionaries were entering China and fanning out in the backward areas. In Beijing they removed the Chinese Gods from a temple and occupied it. This was an overnight surruptitous operation. Conversious mostly took place for economic benefits. The convert would give up local customs and traditions. This resulted in a reaction against Christianity. The tide of anger and resentment exploded as the Boxer rebellion of 1900. Thousands of foreigners well killed but ultimately the Chinese were defeated and humiliated. The retaliation by the western powers was extremely cruel and inhuman. Lacs of civilian Chinese were herded and exterminated.
India was a vast country with huge population so the British did not resort to conversion by sword as did the Muslims before them. But in the small enclave of the Portugese Goa things were quite different. Diago de Boarda, a priest and his advisor Vicar General, Miguel Vazz prepared a 41 point plan for torturing the Hindus. The viceroy issued an order in 1566 to implement the plan. In 1567 a compaign was lodged and 300 temples were destroyed.
In the rest of India the Missionaries attempted to convert through English education. Macaulay’s minute expressly states that the purpose of English education is that there will not be a single idolator in the respectable classes of Bengal thirty years hence.
Government machinery including the judiciary was blatantly used for proselytisation. Choicest abuses and filthy language was used for Hindus and their Gods.
In the whole of North and South America crores of local inhabitants were mercilessly killed or converted. The ancient civilization of the Mayas, Incas and others were completely wiped out.