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Why the Gospels are difficult to understand.

Our knowledge about Jesus Christ, his life and teachings is derived mainly from the Canonical Gospels believed to have been written by apostles Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

Outside of these four gospels, there is practically no existing source of information about Jesus-that is, until the lost Gnostic gospels were accidentally discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in a cave near Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt, in 1945.

The four Canonical gospels are a remarkable religious work written around 60 or 70 years after the death of Jesus Christ. There is no universal agreement among Bible experts on when these were actually written, or on the true identities of the authors. Christian tradition assumes they were written by the four aforementioned apostles. So be it.

Double meaning

These gospels are difficult to understand because Christ's words can be interpreted in several ways. He himself said that He does not speak the same way to the masses and to his disciples.

Jesus said in Matthew (13:10-13): 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given... The reason I speak to them in parables is that seeing they do not perceive and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand!'

If Jesus' words have double meaning, one obvious and the other hidden, why is it that Christian Church officials never explain these two meanings? They always preach as though there is only interpretation of His teachings, and only their interpretation is correct. All the others are considered erroneous or false teachings. This stand has led to religious dogmatism and fanaticism.

Those with different views or interpretations are considered heretics or false prophets. In the Middle Ages, anyone who opposed the official teachings were persecuted, tortured and burned at the stake. Their books were also confiscated and burned.

Heretics

Today these people are no longer tortured, persecuted or burned. They are merely ostracized and labeled heretics or false teachers.

According to Russian mathematician and mystic P.D. Ouspensky in his monumental book, 'A New Model of the Universe,' the Christian gospels cannot be understood, no matter how intelligent a person is, unless he has the key to their deeper meaning.

One could only understand its outer meaning, meant for the public or the masses.

'The New Testament,' according to Ouspensky, is 'an introduction to the hidden knowledge or the secret wisdom... unless they are rightly understood, nothing can be understood.'

Ouspensky pointed out that the four Gospels 'are written for the few, for the very few, for the pupils of esoteric schools. However intelligent and educated in the ordinary sense a man may be, he will not understand the Gospels without special indications and without special esoteric knowledge.'

Ousepensky added, 'Church Christianity, from the very beginning, contradicted in many respects the ideas of Christ himself. Later, the divergence became wider. It is by no means a new idea that Christ, if born on earth later, not only could not be the head of the Christian Church, but probably would not be able even to belong to it, and in the most brilliant periods of the might and power of the Church would certainly have been declared a heretic and burned at the stake.'

Ouspensky wrote 'A New Model of the Universe' in 1931, long before the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic gospels in 1945, which echo the above idea about the difference between Christ's teachings and that of the emerging Orthodox Christianity. Instead of the Gnostic teachings being heretical, the Gnostics considered the Orthodox Church's hierarchical structure to be going against Christ's real teachings.

If one chooses to believe only the teachings of the Orthodox Church, and ignore the more authentic Gnostic gospels found in Nag Hammadi, so be it. Everyone should be entitled to his own opinion.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 11, 2017
Words:721
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