Our Home Church group has finished our nearly 18-month study of the Book of Matthew, and I think one of the things I loved the most about it was the new knowledge we all gained as we learned more about the Jewish culture that Jesus was born into, and how it affected our understanding of Scripture. It broadened so much of the teachings we had all grown up with and exposed our 21st Century Western bias. So now that we've finished the first Book of the New Testament, we decided to go back to the first Book of the Old Testament, Genesis.
There is so much about Genesis that I think has been ignored and set aside by pastors, teachers and even Christian apologists because it is either controversial (Genesis 6:1-4, for example), or there is not enough information in the modern canon to come to a conclusive agreement or understanding. And once again, as I stated last post, I am a Christian contrarian and I am willing to dig deep, consider ancient writings and resources, and trust the Holy Spirit to reveal God's Truth to me, even if a source is outside the divine Holy Book we call the Bible. I will also state again that I sometimes think we 21st Century Christians are arrogant in our notion that our current dogma and doctrines are somehow superior just because we think we are more advanced than ancient peoples. But I also think that this prideful perspective limits the vastness of God's influence and activity in the world; from the ancient civilizations to the present.
So, I invite you to join me as our faithful group attempts to uncover some of the questions that we've never dared ask in our Sunday School classes for fear we would be chastised. We will all be studying Genesis in the Bible, which for me is the core and central key to my research. But as we advance through what I consider one of the most important books of the Bible, I will be surrounded with the Book of Jasher, the Book of Enoch, the Complete Works of Josephus, and The Genesis 6 Conspiracy by author, Gary Wayne. The Bible will be my guide, but these other references will be the bread crumbs that lead me to additional knowledge, and ultimately back to the Bible. As I've so often said, everything in the Bible is about the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit .... but everything about Them and the history of their relationship with mankind is not in the Bible. I do not expect that all my questions will be answered because God is infinite and there will always be more to learn about Him. However, I do expect to know more of Him as the dirty veil Satan has put over our religious eyes is removed. And everything will be vetted through Scripture and Holy Spirit's counsel.
To begin with, let me explain why I consider the Books of Jasher and Enoch to be credible resources. Both are referenced in the Bible, and although I understand that our current Bible has gone through many translations and transformations through the centuries, I believe that what we have is still divinely inspired and God is still speaking through it for our edification and sanctification. The original manuscript of the Book of Jasher [or the Book of the Just, or Upright Man, as it has also been known] has been lost to history, and there have been forgeries down through the centuries. I have the Ancient Book of Jasher by Dr. Ken Johnson, in which he states, "The Book of Jasher was never considered to be inspired by God. It is simply an accurate history book". In that sense, it fills in so many of the gaps that our modern Bible has in the Genesis story -- specifically in the life of Abraham, for instance; all the while retaining the core truth presented in the Bible, along with God's righteous principles.
Dr. Johnson writes that according to rabbinic legend, the Book of Jasher and several other ancient non-biblical Hebrew texts were brought from Jerusalem to Spain after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. One of the officers of Titus, Sidrus by name, was a believer in the God of the Hebrews. He made sure several sacred texts made it out of Jerusalem and into the Spanish city of Sevilia for safe-keeping. The sepharidic rabbis kept the texts safe and in the year AD 1613, the first official printed Hebrew copy of the Book of Jasher was published in Venice, Italy. The first translation from the Hebrew version of Jasher into English was completed in AD 1840. Again, it is a history book that relates ancient events in the history of the Hebrew race, and is referenced in Joshua 10:13, 2 Samuel 1:18 and 2 Timothy 3:8.
The Book of Enoch, on the other hand, is part of the liturgical canon of the Ethiopian Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches, but not included in Protestant canon. I find it interesting that it is quoted nearly verbatim in Jude, where it references the Genesis 6 incursion of fallen angels. Because Genesis 6:1-4 is so hotly debated in the Church [if it is ever discussed at all!], the First Book of Enoch is often declared heretical, even though it provides the story of Enoch being visited by evil Watchers [messengers] to intercede on their behalf for those evil deeds done on earth. He is also the recipient of how Satan gained access to the sacred knowledge God imparted to Adam and corrupted it, resulting in the origins of evil on the earth that we are still experiencing today. NOTE: the 2nd and 3rd Books of Enoch are considered forgeries and not credible.
So, I relate all this to let you know why I'm going on this journey. Genesis is the key to understanding the rest of the Bible. It holds so many gems of the origins of our faith; precepts and clues to why events unfold in the Bible the way they do, and the reasons for God's actions. But I want to start this series of revelations with sharing why it is important to understand Pre-Biblical history. Yes, the writings that became the Books of Jasher and Enoch existed before the Bible came into existence, but did you know that there is more evidence of God in the ancient stories and legends that we tend to dismiss as myths, fables, folk tales, and fantasy? Before I dive into even the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, we must consider what ancient history tells us about God.
I think most Christians are either afraid to look at the myths and legends because it seems heretical and pagan, or a religious spirit whispers that those tales have nothing to do with our God, and therefore we might displease Him. But when you dive into their belief systems, you find some amazing similarities to stories in the Bible. I know, I know .... this often gives rise to agnostics and atheists who claim that our faith is just an extension of ancient fables. But did you ever consider that perhaps these legends were true? That it was God's way of communicating with ancient civilizations in language, experiences, and names/titles that were relevant to their time in history?
Let's consider a race of people from the region of southern Mesopotamia known as Sumer. These Sumerians were considered creators of civilization as modern humans understand it (existing between 4100 -1750 BC). They were known for their innovations in language, governance, architecture and more. There are quite a few Sumerian legends and writings that are similar to modern belief systems; they refer to an Age where "heroes of old" or superhuman deities [part man, part god] reigned over mortal man. In their writings, they spoke of a race of giant aliens from the planet Niburu, called the Annunaki. The word "Annunaki" means "Princely offspring" and "Those of royal blood". According to the Sumerians, the Annunaki were children created from the union of the supreme deity of their civilization, the god Anu, and Ki, who was the goddess of Earth. Is anybody else thinking of the pagan worship of Mother Earth that still exists today, or of the History channel's Ancient Aliens?
The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh is recognized as the earliest surviving notable literature [written 2100 - 1200 BC], and the second oldest religious text. It consists of five Sumerian poems chronicling the history of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk. In the second half of the epic, Gilgamesh undertakes a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life. He eventually learns that "Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands". Keep in mind this was written a couple of thousand years before Christ's birth!
We also have the Greek legends of Titans as demigods of great strength, power, and height. All civilizations down through the centuries have shared some form of ancient legends of a powerful, giant-like race that were half-god, half-man -- not dissimilar to the Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4. I do not relate these ancient legends to you in an effort to refute the account in Genesis 6, but rather to validate it! I believe God has been speaking to man down through the ages of the same event. Every civilization, age and epoch has recorded it, either in writing or oral form because it is true! They might have different names [as they became known in their own cultures and languages] but the nexus of all these stories -- from the Sumerians through Greek literature through Genesis and Revelation to even American Indian lore -- is that the ancient transcripts found in the Assyrian cuneiform tablets, the mythologies, and the legends from antiquity have a common theme with the Genesis account in Chapter 6.
What are we to make of this? Do we dismiss it as mere mystery as the secularists wish? Do we disregard it as being unworthy of study as those with scientific minds suggest? Are they all just fanciful imaginations of men who need something greater than themselves to believe in? As I go forward with where my study is taking me, I promise you that standard theology will no longer apply. Will you be willing to view God as bigger and greater and older and more sovereign than you've ever considered Him? Set aside any doubts or skepticism that you might have from this incomplete and oversimplified post that I've written. I just wanted to give you a starting point to begin this journey with me and see if you are able to read the Book of Genesis in a new light; a profound Light of greater Truth. I hope you're as excited as I am!
John 1:1 In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (the eternal Message, the creative Word, and the Living Expression of God made visible), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.