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3. Primary Written Sources of the Mystical Qabalah

G. The Peshitta and the Revelation of John

Unlike Master Mosheh and the Prophet Mohammed, Master Yeshuvah did not record a revelation to be handed down after his departure from human form. He did not come to start a new religion, but to fulfill and revitalize an old one. Master Yeshuvah was a Jew born to Jewish parents; a messianic messenger and redeemer awaited and yearned for by faithful Jews. His life was his message, and it can only truly be understood in Jewish terms. Upon interrogation, the Head Rabbi could find no fault in him. What was there to dispute? When asked what the first of all commandments was, Master Yeshuvah (like Rabbi Hillel did a century before him) unhesitatingly pronounced it to be the Shema, the Affirmation of Unity from Torah Doverim upon which the entire Jewish religion is built. In order of importance after the Shema, he cited the root injunction from Torah to love and acknowledge the innate divinity of all beings:

"Shem Ayn Yisroel YHVH Elohenu YHVH EchaD
Vuh-ahavta et YHVH Elohenu,
Buh-khol levavkha,
Oo-vuh-khol nafshekha,
Oo-vuh-khol muhodekha

"Name Ayn Israel YHVH Thy Elohim YHVH One.
And you shall love YHVH Your Elohim
With all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might."
(Torah Doverim 6:4,5)

Followed by,
"Vuh-ahavta leh-re'akha kamokha."
"And thou shall love your neighbor as your Self."
(Torah Vayiqra 19:18)

But when one reads the stories of Master Yeshuvah's life and teachings as explicated in the four Gospels of the conventional Peshitta, it is no longer a Jewish story that is found there, but preponderantly an admixture of theological dogma developed almost exclusively by Gentiles. Master Yeshuvah had come to reestablish and enliven the universal mystical spirituality that was always present in Judaism, but which had become largely forgotten and covered by the dross of worldliness and contortions of interpretation. But, his simple and clear message of the absolute unity of all existence and spiritual awakening through unconditional love and surrender to the Divine was obscured almost immediately after the passing of his close disciples. A virtual divorce of Christianity from its Jewish roots ensued. Fragmented communities of Christians with different and competing views and agendas quickly crystallized, some composed largely of Palestinian or Hellenistic Jewish Christians, and others of Gentiles from a wide variety of backgrounds whose only knowledge of ancient scripture came from the Greek Septuagint. Starting about forty years after Master Yeshuvah appeared to pass from his physical body, a variety of narratives attributed to close disciples began to appear. In addition to the four accounts that were canonized by the emerging Roman orthodoxy into the Peshitta, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Philip, the Secret Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Mary Magdalena, and other works are still extant in whole or part.

Are the four books contained in the current version of the Peshitta accurate renditions of the life and teachings of Master Yeshuvah, as recorded by four of his closest disciples? That would be highly unlikely. Until the Gospel of Mark appeared several years after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, virtually all information concerning Master Yeshuvah was passed down as an oral tradition, largely in the form of sayings (L. logia) attributed to him. Oral traditions are notoriously prone to distortions and embellishments. In the next thirty years, different communities of Christians produced narratives in the name of Matthew, Luke, John, and also Thomas. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke could well have been intended to be stand-alone replacements for the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Matthew includes 601 verses contained in Mark, either word for word or with carefully crafted changes. Some investigators attribute an additional source for the Gospel of Luke, dubbed the "Q Source."Q" is derived from quelle, the German word for source." Support is growing to include the Gospel of Thomas in the Peshitta as one of the original canonized Gospels.

The single most prominent source that all four shared was the Greek translation of the Tanakh, called the Septuagint, which the Christians had transformed into a book about Master Yeshuvah well before any of the gospel narratives appeared. While the Qumran community and other pre-Christian groups read oracular meanings into the Tanakh in a more general sense, the Christians did so in a very specialized way. Long held traditional Jewish meanings for verses in the Tanakh were replaced by forced interpretations that supported Master Yeshuvah as the fulfillment of the Torah, the writings of the prophets (especially those of Daniel, Isaiah, Micah, and Hosea), and the historical accounts of the kings of Israel. Numerous investigators have pointed out obvious mistranslations and misunderstandings of verses from Tanakh that were appropriated and customized for the biblical justification of gospel narratives. Finally, for various reasons, all of the primary religious texts have suffered from corruption, errors in transcription, omissions, and additions as they were passed down over the centuries. The earliest texts of the canonized Gospels only go back to the fourth and fifth centuries CE.

So, does this mean that the essential teachings of Master Yeshuvah are lost to the world? Definitely not! Again, it is important to remember that Master Yeshuvah did not come to deliver a new message but to renew an old one. He did not come to replace the Torah, but to demonstrate its essence through his life. Hence, the Hebrew scriptures, even without interpretations skewed to support a developing theology, and the Mystical Qabalah provide us with the necessary keys to identify the many gems placed in the setting of the quasi-fictionalized gospel narratives. The Gospels of John and Thomas, in particular, make it clear that the teachings of Master Yeshuvah were firmly rooted in the continuum of Shemite mystical spirituality.

Secondly, there are universal characteristics of messianic appearances that cross all religious boundaries. From time to time in the histories of all religions, the One Ineffable Ground of Being has taken human form to reawaken faith, revitalize the universal teachings upon which they are all based, and renew the efficacy of the succession of Gatekeepers who keep those teachings alive within the respective traditions. Every one of these Messiahs is a manifestation with full power, omniscience, and omnipresence of the same Divine Source, and yet every one is utterly unique and extraordinary. While many of the appearances of Messiah are accompanied by a written revelation or set of teachings, in each case it may be said that the message they came to bring was demonstrated most directly and most poignantly by their lives. And while each of those life stories was unique, they all shared a number of things in common that we may apply in considering the divine life of Master Yeshuvah.

Finally, like every living tradition, the spiritual power of the transmission does not depend primarily upon the written documents, but in the b'rakha (spiritual blessing) of Perfect Trees and the grace of the Divine to quicken one's Holy Spirit (Ruach Ha Qodesh). Mystical Christianity has maintained a continuous lineage of known and mostly unknown saints and mystics over the centuries, who have faithfully passed on the essence of Master Yeshuvah's mystical spirituality. Despite later distrust and suppression by Pauline orthodoxy, mysticism flourished in the early church. Master Yeshuvah taught one set of teachings openly to the public, and another set of secret teachings privately to his most advanced disciples. The Gospels themselves attest to this, and Clement of Alexandria wrote about such a secret teaching as late as the third century CE.

Throne of Glory of El Shadai Of all the Christian mystical literature, the most enigmatic and passionately discussed is the Revelation of John. It opens with a description of John's vision of the Ancient of Days with fiery eyes and a two-edged sword coming from His mouth, etc. The text then goes on to delineate a series of seven sets of seven images. These images have long been regarded as allegorically depicting a linear series of events all occurring in the physical plane, leading to the reemergence of Christ, his vanquishing of Satan, and His ascension as the Lamb of God to the Throne on High in the new Jerusalem. However, from the perspective of the Mystical Qabalah, the series of images listed in the Revelation provide an allusion for the process of mystical awakening through the four worlds in the ascension of a specialized version of the single-column "Tree of Life of the Treasuries of the House of Elohim" .

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