Jesus was hung on a tree?
Anyone, (who has read “Division”), wondered why I suggested a tree could be used as a Christian symbol? In fact, why a tree at all? How did I get to a tree being the anchor of their faith to fight the Dracyl? Why not a fish, a spear, a mummified head, a turnip, a sock? And, perhaps more importantly, was it right for me to make up a Christian symbol, or am I going to be cast to the fires as a heretic??
Ever since I read Sepulchre by James Herbert as a young soldier, I’ve been interested in the interweaving of ancient legend and religion. I devoured that book and was fascinated when he introduced the fact that a whole rook of Old Testament legends, stories I’d always accepted as Christian history, were in fact Sumerian. This shocking revelation opened up a whole new aspect of religion to me.
I’d never given the church any thought up to this point. Church to me was a duty I performed when my name was up on orders to turn up. Sunday morning parade, inspection, bit of a mumbled sing song, snooze during the sermon then back to barracks, job done. I simply accepted it as a part of life. Then along came Mr. Herbert and in one smart passage he managed to rattle me out of my spiritual coma.
The Creation, Adam and Eve, The Flood, The Tower of Babel were originally put down in texts that stretched far back to the dawn of true civilisation. Not direct copies but stupendously close. Christianity, the creed I’d so blithely accepted with nigh on bovine indifference, had simply robbed ’em!
Now, at that time my thinking processes were very much different to now. Yes, I was interested in the idea that Christianity held ancestry in other religions, just as I was interested in the Third Reich, learning the drums and Warsaw Pact arms and equipment. However, those enthusiasms wilted like lettuce in a microwave under the glaring intensity of the NAAFI pub sign. I simply couldn’t find it in my self to leave my great social life and pursue these interests.
So nothing more happened in that direction, especially as none of my mates would have been interested anyway. Imagine the scene:
Kev, (Drinking buddy): Beer Reg?
Me: Yeah, Guinness, did you know that a lot of the Old Testament stories were based on other even older religious texts?
Kev: Go to bed mate, you’ve had enough.
Get the picture?
Then, fifteen years later, I discovered the internet and a whole world of information, both good and bad suddenly opened up to me. Old interests were sparked, ideas took flame and I unexpectedly learned that you could type with two fingers just as well as with one, if you practised.
Apart from the Third Reich and vampires, I also knew that I wanted to somehow include the whole Sumerian/Biblical mish-mash thing in my weighty tome, but how? The Nazis and the vampires I’ve already explained, but what about the Bible?
Whilst bumbling through Wikipedia I came across the demon Lilith. Lilith is mentioned in so many cross-religious threads that I had to use her, so I did. She was, apparently, the first wife of Adam but was banished from Paradise for being too assertive as she refused to lie under Adam, (as in, nudge nudge wink wink). Intriguingly, Lilith was supposed to have been the first Biblical vampire who drank the blood of Abel after Cane had slain him. In the Sumerian texts she was a sort of demonic hand-maiden to the Sumerian Goddess of love, Inanna, and bizarrely she also lived in a tree.
Now I knew I needed an artefact to focus the fight against the Dracyl and the tree idea attracted me right from the start. Right there, with a tree as the focal point, I had a link to Lilith and Sumeria. However, the only Christian bark-wrapped greenery I knew of was a Christmas tree, and that was hardly the dark, brooding force of all-conquering power I was looking for.
So I started to dig for something else. There was of course the Tree of Knowledge, the shrub that Eve took the fruit off for Adam’s dinner, (the naughty minx), but that seemed so… lame, somehow. So I dug some more and I’d almost given up when that Eureka moment struck again! I found some passages relating to Christ being hung on a tree.
Acts 5:30 “Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree”
Acts 10:39 “whom they slew and hanged on a tree”
Acts 13:29 “they took him down from the tree”
1 Peter 2:24 “who his own self bare our sins in his
own body on the tree”
Paul: Galatians 3:13 “Christ… being made a curse upon us…
Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”
The inspiration was saved, now I just had to sell it.
So, is it alright to do it then or am I in the doodoo?
It would be wrong on so many levels for me to claim that Jesus wasn’t crucified. Just as it would be wrong for me to say that he was hung on a tree and cite these tracks from the Bible as proof. For me, there is no proof to be had from a book that was written two thousand years ago; a book born out of the strife, egos and schisms of an upstart cult.
In my humble opinion, the modern Bible is not the word of God as the fundamentalists would have us believe.
There, I’ve said it now and I can’t take it back.
Why do I say that? Well here are my reasons and believe me, this is an extremely superficial glossing over of what is an exceedingly deep topic.
The oldest known Bible to date is the “Sinai Bible” in the British Museum. There are, unbelievably, 14,800 differences from the modern Bible in its ancient bindings. Think about it, 14,800 divergences from what is written in the contemporary text. Imagine being asked to copy a book and you make that many changes? You’d be fired, or sued even! So what does that say about the claim that the Bible is “The word of God”?
Let’s dig deeper.
If we look back, the basis for the Christian doctrine as we know it today was set down by Constantine the Great, at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. However, the decisions on which stories or gospels should actually make it into the New Testament weren’t made until AD 367, forty two years after!
Uhu, I hear you asking yourself, so why was it necessary to edit the Bible?
Well, before that time, the Hebrew bible wasn’t essentially seen as the word of God, it was more of a guide as to how to be Christian. In an effort to hone their course, Saint Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, in his Easter letter of 367, listed the books that were to be included in the New Testament. His main reason was to exclude his favourite hate, an offshoot of the faith called Arianism, (named after its founder Arius and not some discredited, laughable racial theory), nevertheless, his suggestions stuck.
So even here, not 500 years after Christ’s martyrdom, we have discrepancies and arguments as to what he truly did in life and more importantly, what should actually go into his biography. So would it really be wrong of me to suggest that Christ was hung from a tree and not on a cross? Would everyone be up in arms about it, bearing in mind the slip shod way his life was recorded?
Then we have the saga of the translation.
The King James Bible is often toted as the original Bible (or word of God?) and all subsequent English versions as cheap impostors. So how was this paragon of translating purity actually reworked into the English language?
In 1607 King James 1st commissioned a gaggle of translators to render the Bible into English. Two years and nine months later, the work was ready for the printing press but James was still not happy. Himself a minor scholar of limited ability, it was clear that he did not have the talent, skill, time nor inclination to read and prepare it for publication. So he gave the manuscript to the most celebrated whiz kid of that timet; enter Sir Francis Bacon.
Bacon took a year to pound the differing styles of the translators into some kind of uniformed pattern, employing the rhythms, syntax and mannerisms that were so popular in Shakespearian England at the time.
Mmmmm…. wait a minute, so he changed it then?
Over fifty translators had slaved over the wording for nigh on three years to perfect the conversion of its ancient passages into the English language, and Bacon changes it, using the “Dictionary of Slang” of that time to make it more, “Popular”?
Yes, but wait, it gets better.
The Bible used by those fine English scholars to translate into English, (before it was so horribly molested by that pervert of the written word, Bacon), was in Greek. The Greek copy was originally translated from the Aramaic … which was translated from the Hebrew; do you see where this is leading? See a pattern here?
So basically, who knows what the original word of God was?
Nobody, that’s who.
The original scrolls that held the words that have conquered the world have long been lost to the annals of time and nobody, this side mortality, will ever know what they truly said.
However, I digress. The Tree.
So where did the Christian connection for the tree come from? Well, the Greek word for the object used by the Romans to kill Jesus is Staurus, which Mr. Bacon changed to cross. However, the actual translation is not Cross, it’s Pole, or… (ta da!) TREE!!
Look, it’s vague but if Dan Brown can change places, people and facts for his books, then I’ll gladly use someone else’s inaccuracies to help me, because that’s how we role in fiction-land 🙂
I have merely dipped the tip of the toenail of my little toe into the subject and anyone who knows the field of study will probably point out a rook of mistakes in “Division, (not 14,800 though, I hasten to add).
“Division of the Damned” is a story, a work of fiction and I just wanted to highlight the reasons and the facts (coughs) behind the legend of the book.
Thanks for reading this and I hope you enjoy the book, (if you buy it).
Richard Rhys Jones