FOUR SIGNS

The New Testament was very carefully written.

Why do I say that?  Because of the sacred numbers.  Because of all the quotes and references taken from the Hebrew Bible.  Someone very carefully wove a story around those passages from the more ancient texts and around those numbers.  How much of the New Testament story is history, how much symbolism, how much imagination – people have been trying to figure that out for a long time.

Are the many discrepancies and contradictions put there on purpose?  In other words, was the New Testament crafted very deliberately to include puzzles?  For sure, after nearly 2,000 years I’d expect some of the textual problems to be simply errors or editing.  But I’m still looking for puzzles where the reader is presented with a problem and has to sort through it, thereby gaining some insight.

What is a good example of an inconsistency in the New Testament that might be very deliberate?  I’ll make a guess here and say that the sign posted above the Crucified is a good example.  The original sign said what it said – presumably a short simple statement.  That we end up with four different versions of something that should have been easy to remember and report correctly, may indicate a deliberate distortion of the facts – to keep the reader off-balance?

In the King James Version, the translator provides us with these variations of the sign:

Matthew 27:37

THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS

Mark 15:26

THE KING OF THE JEWS

Luke 23:38

THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS

John 19:19

JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS

Do I gain some insight as I realize the sign changes with each book of the Gospel?  No, but I get an impression of impermanence, of other-worldliness, of mystery.  It makes me want to read more to find out what sort of story this is – why is it the way it is?

Four signs for the cross

By coincidence, I came across a description of four gigantic statues of the ancient pharaoh Ramses II in Egypt, each statue originally about 70 feet tall, all four in a row.  All representing him supposedly.  All the same appearance or nearly so originally?  He ruled circa 1300 BCE.  What could be the point of four iterations of the same thing?  (Now at Abu Simbel.)

In an Eastern religious drawing I recall something similar with the image of the deity repeated many times, each image stacked against the next, indicating what?  I guess it is supposed to show the deity transcending time and space.  Or maybe various incarnations.  But I can only guess at the intended meaning of the multiple images.

I see the New Testament as four iterations of the same thing made for a purpose.  Either instruction, to convey mystery, as a literary form, etc.  I don’t believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by four independent witnesses as testimony.  It’s not written like that.  At least it’s not my idea of testimony.

Are there discrepancies in what I write?  I expect so.  But the shear volume of conflicting ideas in the New Testament would seem to indicate the conflicts are intentional to a certain extent.  Yes, possibly there were many authors and many editors and “too many cooks spoil the broth.”  But there was an official church organization of sorts that early on could have ironed out wrinkles in the texts.  For the most part, it would seem they didn’t.  Isn’t that amazing?  They had sense enough to appreciate the richness in that jumble of ideas.

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One Response to FOUR SIGNS

  1. care4earth says:

    Was the sign written in Aramaic, Greek, Latin or Hebrew? Certainly not in English!
    Different languages might explain variations.

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