19 December 2011

22 May 2009

Exploring Early Christian and Gnostic Texts

Recently I published the fourth volume in the History Enlightened book series, Exploring Early Christian and Gnostic Texts.

In this book the reader will find an exploration of the surviving texts written and used by the early Christians and Gnostics that were discarded by later generations as heretical and thus excluded from the Christian Bible. In so doing I have made use of the latest academic research to present these texts with commentary that enables an understanding of the societal context, thus equiping the reader who wishes to reflect on the deeper meaning of the texts.

In addition to the main corpus of texts from the early Christian and Gnostic writers, I have included also a sampling of extracts from later writers in the Syriac tradition, and also from Mani and his tradition, together with a few extracts from Muslim writers showing how their traditions have understood the teachings of Issa (Jesus).

Then follows a section entitled ‘Comparative Contemplations’ in which some spiritual themes are followed through to the present day. I contrast early Christian and Gnostic handlings of each theme with extracts from later writers, including the contemporary Indian spiritual teacher, Her Holiness Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.

This is of course a secondary study in English of texts originating mostly in Aramic and Greek. I have thus been dependent on successive generations of scholars who rescued, conserved and assembled the physical fragments, and then translated these texts into English. I have consulted the various English translations available for each text – both those composed in the tradition of the King James Bible, and those of more recent date. I take responsibility for the resulting renderings. In so doing I have made use of the meditative techniques practised by those of the Sahaja Yoga meditation tradition, particularly the technique known as Vibrational Awareness.

I do hope the resulting book is of use to readers. I certainly enjoyed the challenges of the research.

All the History Enlightened volumes are now available as print-on-demand books through lulu.com

04 November 2008

Gospel of the Hebrews

A lost gospel from the late first century CE known only from fragments that have survived in later writings, including those of Origen (185-254), Jerome (347-420), and Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386).
The title may suggest usage by a group of Egyptian Jewish-Christians who wished to differentiate themselves from a nearby group of Egyptian Gentile (ie. non-Jewish) Christians and their Gospel of the Egyptians.
This text is influenced by the mythological and Gnostic-type ideas prevalent in Egypt in the first and second centuries CE.
Originally written in Hebrew (possibly Aramaic), it was later translated into Greek and Latin by Jerome.

03 November 2008

Odes of Solomon

The Odes in their present form clearly have their origins in Jewish hymnal tradition, with Christian overlays, and Gnostic references. Like other texts of this tradition, the Odes are not of course by the much earlier King Solomon (tenth century BCE), merely invoking his memory as a purveyor of wisdom.
It has been suggested that the original language of the Odes was Syriac, a Semitic language spoken in Syria, and therefore the work provides an insight into early Syrian Christianity.
A number of the concepts and expressions found in the Odes have their parallels in the letters of the Syrian writer, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (d.110CE), suggesting that the Odes may have been produced as early as c.100CE. Familiarity with the Gospel of John is also a common characteristic of Ignatius' letters and of the Odes.
The earliest surviving parts of the text are in Greek from the third century, and in Syriac from the fourth century CE.

01 November 2008

Gospel of the Ebionites

A lost text that belonged to the Ebionites, a group of Greek-speaking Jewish-Christians in Palestine, possibly east of the river Jordan.
The only surviving fragments of text are preserved in the form of citations given by Epiphanius of Salamis (315-403) in his Panarion. Unfortunately his statements are hostile, contradictory and confusing.
This gospel is mentioned in the writings of Irenaeus (135-200), so it is likely to date from the first half of the second century.

31 October 2008

Gospel of Thomas

This record of the sayings of Jesus has excited scholars and ordinary readers alike since the discovery of the Coptic text (c.350CE) at Nag Hammadi in the mid-twentieth century.
The Coptic text is the only complete copy to have survived. It is a translation into Coptic from the earlier Greek text (pre 200CE) which has only survived in fragments from three separate copies, two dated to 200CE, and one to 250CE. All four copies have been found in Egypt.
Some scholars have hypothesised that the core of the text may have originated in Aramaic but we have at present no way of evaluating this. It is however probable that Aramaic was the language in which these sayings would have been delivered to their original audience.
If we take the view that this text was assembled by Thomas himself, then we can assume a date in the 40-65CE range.

08 May 2008

Google launch Indic transliteration service

Google India have launched their Indic transliteration service.
Automated transliteration between English and Hindi.
Also available for Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, which are not Indic but Dravidian languages, as Indian bloggers are pointing out.

07 January 2008

A Marathi glossary

A 'mini' glossary for enlightened historians:

Abhanga - Marathi four- or -six-line verse.
Amritanubhava - a text by Gyaneshwara (Jnaneshwara).
Bhaktavijaya and Bhaktilamrita - two important compilations by the 18th century pandit, Mahipati, of information on the Maratha saints.
Bhavarthadipika - also known as the Gyaneshwari (Jnaneshwari), a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita written by Gyaneshwara (Jnaneshwara).
Bharud - dramatic poem in Marathi, much used by saint Eknath.
Charita - a biography of a notable person, thus Eknath Charita.
Dasbodha - the major text by Guru Ramdas.
Devanagari – the standard script for Marathi and several north Indian languages including Hindi.
Gatha - a collection of works by an author, thus Tukaram Gatha.
Johar - a particular form of the bharud used by Eknath.
Kirtan(a) - a sung performance of abhangas, bhajans, bharuds, in the Maratha tradition.
Maharashtradharma - term used by Guru Ramdas to install a sense of integrity and greatness in the Maratha people.
Mahars - the untouchables of Maharashtra. Chokha is their best known saint.
Manache Shloka (Manobodha) - text by Guru Ramdas.
Modi - script used by the commercial classes to write in Marathi in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Pandharpur - town in Maharashtra sacred to the bhakti sants who went (and still go) on pilgrimage to its temple dedicated to Lord Vittala.
Pasayadan - epilogue to the Gyaneshwari.
Povada - a narrative song usually chronicling heroic achievements.
Pratishthana (Paithan) – the capital of the Satavahana (Shalivahana) empire.
Purana - a sacred text
Shalivahana (a.k.a. Satavahana) - royal dynasty in Central India. Paithan (Prathistan) was their capital.
Shloka - verse, similar to a stanza
Skanda - section (chapter) of a purana
Stotra - a prayer
Stotramala - a collection of stotras
Varkari - a devotee of Vittala (the Lord) who goes on annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur.

14 November 2007

John of Jerusalem - again!

Once more: the John of Jerusalem prophecy does NOT exist before its publication in Paris in 1994. No writer in either French or English has mentioned this prophecy in any books or scholarly articles published on the Crusades or the knight orders.

The editor's name given on the 1994 publication, M.Galvieski, is fake (thanks go to the Russian yogi Maxim for researching this), and 'John of Jerusalem' is clearly an elaboration based on the biography (such as we know it) of Brother Gerard Tonque, the first master of the Hospitaller Knights of the Order of John of Jerusalem, who are in fact named after the 3rd/4th century Bishop of the same name.

In my view, this prophecy cannot be regarded as being from the 11/12th century. It is clearly a late 20th century text. As the latter it is of some interest as Dan Costian has noted.