Friday, 6 May 2016

Would the Christ Come from Galilee?

          Let it be supposed that we have arrived at a theatre where a drama is being performed. That we arrive part way through the performance is of no consequence as the various motifs have been played and replayed, in various guises, from the beginning of human time. And it is likely that they will continue to be played for the foreseeable future. Let us then be seated and read our theatre notes. At the top of the page is an outline of the plot of the act we will be watching.

Title:       The Gospel of John 7:40-52. [Reproduced from the previous post, for reference.]

Scene 1:
40. Some of the crowd who had been listening said, "He is indeed the prophet,"
41. and some said, "He is the Christ," but others said, "Would the Christ come from Galilee?"
42. Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from
Bethlehem, the village where David was?"
43. So the people could not agree about him.
44. Some wanted to arrest him, but no-one actually laid a hand on him.

Scene 2:
45. The guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees [the Sanhedrin] who said to
  them, "Why haven't you brought him?"
46. The guards replied, "No-one has ever spoken like this man."
47. "So," the Pharisees answered, "You, too, have been led astray?
48. Have any of the authorities [the Sanhedrin] come to believe in him? Any of the Pharisees?
49. This rabble knows nothing about the Law - they are damned."
50. One of them, Nicodemus - the same man who had come to Jesus earlier - said to them,
51. "But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgement on anyone without first giving him
      a hearing and discovering what he is doing?"
52. To this they answered, "Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself:
      prophets do not arise in Galilee."

Of course, like any good drama, there are various levels and subplots to engage our attention. Let us begin with the main characters.

The Sanhedrin:      The name by which the Elders and Pharisees are known. This body, which hasn't received a very good press in the Christian world over the years, is the guardian of orthodoxy. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. When faced with a problem the Ego finds a solution, an approach, and continues to value and judge all future and apparently similar problems in the same way, no matter how inappropriate its response may be. This ego is the self-appointed adjudicator of what is right and what is wrong, what is theirs and what is ours, the very essence of duality.

The Rabble:          This false, virtual Ego-state requires help in its proxy confrontation with the true, real self, and enrols the thoughts, emotions and physical senses. Thoughts and emotions are transient and usually uncontrolled, having no leader except the self-serving ego.

Jesus the Nazarene:     This is the figure with whom the Sanhedrin are locked in this timeless confrontation. In the 'out there' world there is much about this man that remains completely unknown, but it may be assumed that most of his time was spent preaching in Galilee, a hotbed of religious and political agitation. In the 'in here' world he represents that part of us that is real, our true selves. Though knowledgeable, our real, higher selves are unorthodox [protestant in the original meaning of that word] in the paths they choose to travel in order to find truth.

The Disciples:              The Nazarene also needs make use of the conscious attributes of the ego but in an organised, truth or reality-oriented way. Of course, nothing is one hundred percent, black and white.

          We live in a universe of probabilities, and so it is not surprising that we find a Nicodemus in the ego-state, just as we will find a Judas Iscariot owing allegiance to the higher self. I would add the further point that each actor on the stage must play their part according to the script. It would, therefore, be highly inappropriate to assume a judgemental stance against or for any of the actors in the drama.

          In Scene 1 we observe the crowd, or less strident rabble, the agent of the ego, trying to get some sense out of its experience of something beyond itself. There is an appeal to the Law, to the Scripture, to fundamentalist orthodoxy. But answer is there none. And how could the Truth possibly arise from any other source but logic, rationale and reason, it asks? Some part of the ego always wishes, self-protectively, to trap and imprison this truth. There seems always to be the desire, even compulsion, to lock spiritial reality safely away even though its ability to do so is ultimately an illusion. "But no one actually [or could] lay a hand on him."
          In Scene 2 we are well and truly back with the ego which is demanding why the real self has not been tamed and imprisoned. Why? Because this truth is something quite beyond the illusions that are normally accepted as our truth. Although the enquiring mind may discern hints of truths beyond the mundane, again it is the rationale of the ego to discount such exploratory questing. "You, too, have been led astray? If we the authorities are not convinced, how can you be?"
          Then the questioning Nicodemus enters the argument. For me, he epitomises the other side of the never-ending inner debate about spiritual truth. As a party to that debate, I have found myself in the same position as the crowd and the guards. What is the Christ? Is it identical to the higher self, or is it some power that infuses the higher self? The possible answers to those questions require more data before I give my response.

          There are two characters that I have not discussed so far. One is the Christ, which I will leave for future writings. The other is the observer of the drama. As we look around the theatre we will notice that each of us seems to be the only observer of this drama. This I-awareness is perhaps the most important part of the play. Without that, what would be the point of enacting the drama?
          As with any drama, we sometimes miss some of the plot details, or even some of the subplots. Often, particularly through discussion and further thought, those missed details come to light at some future time. I trust that this will be the case here.
          Now I will address the question, "Are you a Galilean too?" Insofar as I am non-fundamentalist, and non-religious in the orthodox meaning of that word, I suppose I do tend towards being a Galilean. Yet I must also admit to not being entirely free of egoistic machinations and instincts. I further think that it is that position in which the I-awareness is bound to find itself. It must neither be so focused on the higher self that it is oblivious of the ego and its power, nor so focused on the ego that it is lulled into a not-I sleeping state.
          The foregoing is how I interpret the given scriptural passage. To be of any real value, I think the chosen method of analysis must prove to be consistent. Logic, rationale, even perhaps reason, may be flouted, but not consistency.


  1. Hi Tom,
    Although I've read this several times I still can't seem to fathom the question, never mind find an answer. I'm not even sure I know what an ego is anymore - a spiritual, psychological reality or a social institution?
    Some years ago (like 20+) during which I spent more years reading the conversations/talks by Advaita masters it was Nisargadatta Majaraj who told his listeners that Dvaita was for people who preferred the intellectual exercise of finding the Ultimate whereas others were better off practicing Bhakti yoga - that of direct faith that the answers will be provided. I knew right away I was one of those despite the fact I still like to consider such questions and enjoy reading your posts.
    All the best

  2. Hi Tom,
    At the very least from your well thought out approach one becomes more open to the rich and complex issues. I think one can appreciate the lengths the writer went to give reason for those of the Johannine movement to trust in the efficacy and nobility of the enduring “Christ”, notwithstanding the impending (or maybe it already happened) destruction of the temple and ongoing persecution.

    But returning to your interesting post I must reiterate one again I am no expert on all of such matters but let me hopefully add few points that may be of interest: The message of Jesus potentially could have upset the tenuous nature of truce which allowed the Jewish nation to exist under their elaborate court system and maintain their practices in exchange that long suffering inhabitants continued to pay their exorbitant taxes to Rome.
    Hence the Sanhedrin exercised control of the Jewish nation with a nod of approval from Rome since any risk of revolt was contained by this ongoing arrangement.

    Enter Jesus to this expectation a messiah would deliver the citizens from the roman yoke and you have an ongoing fear of revolt. But whilst acknowledging Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher he also seemed to take delight in being “of the world” as in the “Son of Man” (possibly a reference from the Book of Enoch and the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah) and so it seems to me his primary thrust was as a teacher of ethical behaviours for the “here and now”. Hence this tension between the eschatological (the messianic end of time prophesies from the OT) and the “here and now” was confusing to the disciples and the rabble at large just as it remains a mystery to-day. Furthermore most of his activity in his short life seems to have been directed to many small groups, including of course the disciples, who he sent off on their marching orders to go far and wide.
    My assumed understanding of your use of the word ego in this context and in response to the question by Susan is to assume you use this term to denote how one responds rationally to the outside world in accord with our consciousness. Consciousness as you would know is a slippery state but given our various levels of awareness I think by necessity it is always a mixture of the ego and that which is considered spiritual. Put another way existence by necessity of survival, must comprise a mixture of the ego (self) and the spiritual or what we might say is our higher self? In this respect it extends to all humanity in various stages of awareness and is nor dependent on beliefs which nevertheless may make positive contributions.
    Best wishes

    1. Susan and Lindsay, thank you for your comments. We (Lucy, Elphie and I) are going away for a few days, a break that in the present blogging circumstances has come at a good time. I will, among other things, consider further your comments and address another matter which is coming to the fore.

      I do not have a psychological need to 'know', but do seem to feel a need to communicate. But in the end, that which I feel a need to pass on to my readers lies between me and God. It may well be that I must demonstrate a 'be preparedness' to let go of this need I have. I trust that by the time we return, I will have the answer I seek.

      Once again, I thank you for your comments, and all that has been shared between us in the past.

  3. Tom, I take a strictly non-scholarly and very subjective approach to the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, and generally pick passages which are meaningful to me while skimming over the rest. In the story of Jesus as told in the evangelists' versions, what I extract is not so much the story itself in its various 'acts' but the sense of a person, an exceptional individual, whose mere presence and existence was perhaps more significant than any words or miracles attributed to him. So, while the psycho-spiritual analysis of the story of his life is certainly thought-provoking and also a welcome change from traditional religious interpretations, I can't quite connect to this because of my own rather simplistic (or naive)approach. This is in no way a criticism of the study you've undertaken but an admission of my own limitations in this area. As I've mentioned in the past, where spiritual matters are concerned (and by 'spiritual' I mean those matters which can neither be measured or proved by rational means alone) I seem to always return to playing the role of my cartoon alter ego Augustine in her "interviews" with God. It's a limited approach, I know, but it's true to myself. I would like very much to say something more relevant to what you've generously communicated, but I just don't know how.

    1. Hullo Natalie; I quite understand your approach to the Bible, and that's fine. However, I can't help feeling that my understanding of holy writ falls short of realising the potential of what is there. That other people have a different approach from mine is totally acceptable, except - and here's the problem for me - it feels as if I am living in the Tower of Babel. And maybe I should feel that way!

      I am keenly aware that my investigations, coupled with posting, are taking up too much precious time. I have gardening and house renovation to do; I wish to continue to "improve my conscious contact with God, as I understand him"; and continue my efforts in painting. Candidly, and I have thought this through at some length, I don't have any time and effort left for anything else. So it is with a sense of sad relief that I conclude my posting efforts have been put on indefinite hold. Of course we will still communicate as we do from time to time. Friendships are not so easily let go.

  4. Dear Tom, I completely understand and I too feel more and more that my time needs to be compressed into less and less activities, save for those that truly matter. But there's absolutely no question that friendship is and will always remain on the short list of what truly matters. I'm tremendously grateful and happy to be a friend of yours and Lucy's. Of course we'll still communicate and, I hope,meet up gain in the real world.

  5. Dear Tom,
    I was shocked to read your comment about having suffered a recent house fire. While I'm very thankful to know the three of you escaped harm I'm concerned about just how much you may have lost.
    Apologies for not emailing but I'm not sure of your address. I do hope you're well and send my best wishes for your peace and happiness.
    Love, Susan

    1. Dear Susan.

      Am sending you an email.

      Love Tom.