Bible Interpretation – The Missing Link?

 

Did you know that today, four decades after man landed on the Moon a quarter of a million miles away, scientists still know little about the seafloor located just a few miles beneath the ocean surface?

That’s how our world is. There is still so much left for us to learn and understand.

 

That includes the field of Biblical interpretation.

A great deal of study has been conducted on the connections between Babylonian, Sumerian, and Israelite cosmologies. This is because these were neighboring cultures of Israel and it is assumed that they would have the greatest influence on Israel’s beliefs.

 

But this is still an assumption – an old one that might need revising. 

Consider this:

There was also a connection between India and Israel in ancient times.

There is no doubt that there was such a link.

There is documented evidence of trade via ships in those early times and travelers and philosophers sometimes joined those vessels.

For instance, around 2200 BC, the emperor Sargon announced proudly that Indian ships had arrived at his harbor. [1]

 

New evidence is emerging, that perhaps India, had the greatest influence on Israel – or vice versa.

Alternatively, the same data might be interpreted as Israel having a great influence on Indian cosmologies and theologies.

This is because there is substantial evidence showing that early Christian missionaries visited India.

Even as early as around 326 BC Alexander the Great visited India with his troop of army men and philosophers. There is also evidence that an Indian sage named Calanus accompanied Alexander back to Greece.

There was lots of interaction and exchange between east and west in those days.

 

The implications for Biblical interpretation are obvious.

For instance, Diogenes of Sinope seems to have ‘brought Indian-derived ascetic practices’ into Athenian philosophy.

According to Aristoxenus, an Indian yogi visited Athens and met Socrates (around 470-400 BC). This was noted by Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339 AD), a historian and one Christianity’s renowned Church Fathers. [2]

Around 580 BC, the famous explorer, Scylax, visited India. He states that northerners were lighter skinned than southerners and that there were ascetics who lived on a vegetarian diet of wild grains and lived under the sky. [3]

These historical facts prove that eastern and western cultures were certainly aware of each other and almost certainly new something of each other’s beliefs.

Should Bible interpretation take this into account?

 

Below is evidence that such exchange of information really occurred:

1. A core theme of ancient Yoga Literature is of God resting upon the primordial waters. It is here that the cosmic world develops.

A similar description of God presiding over primordial waters appears in Genesis. Here, too, is the location where the ‘world’ develops.

2. The Yoga Literature gives a detailed description of a Global Flood and Worldwide Extinction. It converges with modern science on 20 counts.

The very same cataclysmic episode is also briefly described in Genesis.

3. Ancient Yogis described God’s creation – a single world amongst innumerable worlds – each as consisting of 3 to 14 realms.

Ancient Israelites also described the world as consisting of 3 to 14 realms.

 

The total number of correspondences between Biblical and Yoga cosmologies is TWENTY-TWO. 

They aren’t found directly in the Bible (though they are alluded to in the Bible) but in other ancient literature of the Israelites. The central corpus of this literature is called the ‘Torah.’

Traditionally, it is believed by Jews and Christians that God himself gave the Torah to Moses.

He gave it in two forms. One written, the other oral.

In its written form it comprises the first five books of the Bible, beginning with Genesis.

In its oral form it expounds events briefly described in the written form.

 

Early Israelites believed it was crucial to study the oral tradition if you wished to understand the Bible and know God.

The oral Torah concerning Creation and Genesis was regarded as the most ancient and authentic by early Israelites and Christians alike.

Later passages regarding rituals and legalities, however, did become an area of contention between the two groups.

Often called ‘the law,’ the word Torah actually means ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction.’

Like most, Jesus himself very much accepted this tradition, at least in part.

He was quite emphatic:

 

Don’t think that I came to destroy the law

or the prophets.

I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.

For most certainly, I tell you,

until heaven and earth pass away,

not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke

shall in any way pass away from the law,

until all things are accomplished.

Bible, Matthew 5:17-18

 

 

Today, unfortunately, the ancient oral tradition has slipped out of view.

Later dogmas hog center stage. Proselytizing and propaganda sometimes seem to be the goal.

Ancient cosmology has been forgotten. But that is were the spotlight should be shone.

Below, in  Table 1, you will see exactly why.

It’s a compilation and comparison of what ancient Israelites, Christians, and Yogis believed about our cosmic world.

 

Twenty-Two Correspondences - Tora and Ancient YogaAll these twenty-two characteristics of creation were shared by the ancient Israelites, Christians, and Yogis

The implications are vast and numerous. 

How can so many agreements occur by accident?

These parallels between the cosmic beliefs of India and Israel emphasize the need to reevaluate current methods of Bible interpretation.

There is no doubt that these traditions spoke of one and the same fourteen-layered Cosmic Unit.

Indeed, there is strong evidence that it refers to our magnificent Milky Way Galaxy.

This means that Bible interpretation needs to be modified not only in terms of its correlations with ancient Indian Yoga but also with modern science!

 

There are, nevertheless, some places where the descriptions digress slightly.

This is to be expected since the ancient Sages and Yogis would naturally have their own cultural traditions.

For instance, the Israelites count 7 heavens + 7 earths = 14 realms.

The Yogis count 6 heavens + 1 earth + 7 underworlds = 14 realms. (Not to be confused with the encompassing units – the cosmic worlds.)

However, the Yogis regard the six heavens and central earth under one banner called a vyahriti. This therefore divides the Yogi’s world into seven upper and seven lower realms just like the belief of the early Israelites and Christians.

The reason why the Yogis grouped the earth with the six heavens is because it has the potential to be a heaven!

It can be a Paradise, if we allow it.

Indeed, under the system of eras the Yogis described, the first in the cycle is called the Satya Yuga. This is the ‘Age of Truth.’ During this blessed period, there is no evil or affliction. Earth is a Paradise. It’s like heaven.

Perhaps, what is most rewarding to learn from the oral tradition of the ancient Israelites is that they believed that God created thousands of worlds, not just our planet Earth, and that he visits all of them, interacting with all his creatures.

The belief that, in the whole wide universe God belongs only to some religious groups on our tiny planet, is a new one.

Early Israelites didn’t believe this. They said God is universal.

 

 

It may be said that He [God] rides a light cherub,

and floats in eighteen thousand worlds;

for it is said,

The chariots of God are myriads … .

He is sporting with the leviathan … .

Yes, He sports with His creatures … .

Abodah Zarah, 3b, 22, 11, 13

 

This understanding that God belongs to all is similar to that of the ancient Yogis.

God manifests as Avatars in innumerable forms, in innumerable places, within innumerable cosmic worlds, whenever he so desires.

He belongs to everyone and everything.

He is Universal.

 

References

[1] Thomas McEvilly, The Shape of Ancient Thought: comparative studies in Greek and Indian philosophies, Allworth Press, 2002, p. 4

[2] ibid., p. 10; ap. Eusebius, Prep. Ev. XI.3.8

[3] McEvilly, pp. 7-8

 

 

 

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