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Jesus’ explanations related to The Parable of the Three Vinedressers
44a. [Jesus said] “Truly I say to you, that on the day of judgement many will say to God, ‘Lord, we have preached and taught according to Your law.’ Against them even the stones will cry out, saying ‘When you preached to others, with your own tongue you condemned yourselves, O workers of iniquity.’
“As God lives,” continued Jesus, “he who knows the truth and yet works the contrary will be punished with such grievous penalty that Satan himself will be moved with compassion for him. Tell me, now, has our God given us the law for knowing or for doing? Truly I say to you that all knowledge has for end that wisdom that works out what it knows.”
COMMENT: Several elements in this passage emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus and remind us that this is a Jewish Christian gospel. “Your law” is, of course, the Torah, and GBar admits no daylight between the teachings of Jesus and the Judaism enshrined in the scriptures/Tanach. Nevertheless, the careful reader will see clues that the gospel may be over-reacting to threatening elements that were un-Jewish. For example, why is it necessary that the gospel repeats, almost ad nauseam, the rhetorical introduction “As God lives”? Who, after all, was denying that very basic fact?
It is an interesting question. Now, it so happens that Buddhism (in the pre-Mahayana versions that existed at the turn of the era and before) does not endorse the existence of any god. It is also my theory—set forth in posts on this website, as also in my book NazarethGate (Chapter 14)—that the original Jesus (that is, Yeshu ha-Notsri) was mightily influenced by Buddhism during his long exile in Egypt (see NazarethGate pp. 419 ff). When Yeshu returned to Israel, he brought with him a new and very threatening religion, a gnostic blend of Buddhism and Judaism. That new religion was the seedbed of Christianity.
If the foregoing explanation is correct, then GBar has accepted only the Jewish elements of Jesus/Yeshu’s message and has repudiated the Buddhist, gnostic, and atheistic elements. This might explain why the gospel remonstrates over and over again that indeed “God lives,” and that the true believer needs to cleave to the Torah.
At the same time, GBar recognizes Jesus as the great prophet of Truth, and it joyfully transmits many of his parables, sayings, and teachings. The gospel is, then, looking at its religion’s founder through Jewish lenses—rejecting what does not align with august Jewish tradition, and accepting what does.
b. “Tell me, if one were sitting at table and with his eyes beheld choice meats, but with his hands should choose unclean things and should eat those, wouldn’t he be mad?”
“Yes, assuredly,” answered the disciples.
Then said Jesus, “O mad beyond all madmen are you, O man, who with your understanding knows heaven, yet with you hands chooses earth; who with you understanding knows God, yet with your heart desires the world; who with your understanding knows the delights of paradise, yet with your works chooses the miseries of hell.
“Brave soldier, indeed, who leaves behind the sword and carries only the scabbard into battle!”
c. “Now, do you not realize that he who walks by night desires light, not only to see the light but also to see a good road, that he may journey safely to the inn?… True is the proverb of the camel, that it will not drink clear water because it does not wish to view its own ugly face. So it is also with the ungodly who works evil—he hates the light lest his evil works should be known. But he who receives wisdom and still works poorly and, which is worse, uses his wisdom for evil—he is like one who uses what is given to slay the giver.”
COMMENT: The above three explanations of Jesus are new and contain beautiful sayings not otherwise known. These sayings have the ring of authenticity, and they merit equal study alongside sayings of Jesus in the canonical gospels.
The above passages are intimately related to the immediately preceding Parable of the Three Vinedressers. They have one central target: the person who knows what is good and yet, in the face of that knowledge, obstinately chooses what is evil.
This is the eleventh post in this series on the Gospel of Barnabas. We have now reached Chapter 77—yet we are only approximately one third way through this very long gospel. In all, GBar contains 222 chapters and 245 pages in English translation (per the Ragg edition).
I have decided to take a hiatus from the Gospel of Barnabas, to resume perhaps later this year, 2020. I have learned that such large undertakings require patience and should be approached in stages. In a year or two you should expect that the entire Gospel of Barnabas will have been covered on this website.
In the meantime, other pressing matters of interest to students of early Christianity present themselves. One such matter is my thesis, never fully examined on this site, that Yeshu ha-Notsri was the true founder of Christianity. This issue is so fundamental, and so important, that I will be interrupting consideration of GBar in order to devote several posts to the actual evidence for Yeshu ha-Notsri as the founder of Christianity. The first post in that series will be next.