“And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” -Exodus 24:7
The term Pseudepigrapha is a technical or scholarly term that refers to a work that is written under a false name or pseudonym. It’s use gets murky because it can refer to a work in which the author merely seeks to hide his or her identity for anonymity or to avoid persecution, or are attributing their doctrine to a famous figure. It is further clouded by the fact that H. R. Charles and James H. Charlesworth each published collected volumes of Pseudepigrapha, giving the unlearned the the notion of an “acceptable canon” of Pseudepigrapha. Many works in the canons themselves are regarded as Pseudepigrapha.
Again, there is no quick and easy answers for the discerning Gospel student, as the Gospel and truth are not intended to lend themselves to easy answers, but create opportunities to implement the principles of the gospel and gifts of the Spirit on an individual basis. To this end, I am creating possibility by counteracting the existing bias.
To illustrate, the five Books of Moses are viewed by scholars as pseudepigrapha in the general sense, though rarely referred to that way. Few non-believers if any think that Moses wrote them. However, it is accepted that there is likely both oral and written accounts that are much older and at least the oral may go back to the time of Moses himself, if he ever existed.
The true believer has reasons to maintain the actual existence of Moses that scholars are not permitted to entertain. We maintain the reality of revelation by virtue of our own personal revelations, and note that the existence of Moses was sustained by prophets and Christ himself which we believe had access to divine knowledge, not obtained through the five senses.
This knowledge is technically, therefore extra-sensory perception. We ought not be influenced by how terms are used and by whom, but adhere to technical accuracy, otherwise we become the unwitting subjects of thought control. Orthodox teachers will denounce E.S.P. while overlooking the fact that the process is the foundation of their religion. The source is true question. We maintain that the world does not supply the ultimate answers to where we come from and how we found ourselves in the material universe, or what lies beyond, and that these answers must come from a higher source. We test that source by love, as Christ says it is the foundation of all the Law and the prophets.
Now, from our religious history, we do not accept prophets because they have authority to begin with. Each of the prophets either had no position of authority to begin with or rejected it in favor of the new revelation they received. They were called out from common people by a mystical experience. They rather asserted the word of the Lord having no authority, and we must test their word by our own witness. Often the people of their day rejected them and killed them. Christ laments that a prophet is often not accepted in their own town or in their own home, and that the very people who honor old prophets because they came to be supported by tradition are the very type that killed them then and in the present. We then are encouraged to reject tradition and and discern in the living now. We should not accept or reject because of what family or friends think, because if we are not willing to forsake family and friends, Christ says we are unworthy of him. This must be a personal experience.
We are warned not to lean on our own understanding, meaning the understanding we now have may not be accurate, and the scriptures are not intended to be subject to private interpretation. But what is a private interpretation?
A private interpretation is what you work out in your own mind alone. Although God gave us minds and wants us to use them, he does not want us to lean on them. He has given us His Spirit to guide this process. In fact, He is the living Word, and his Spirit teaches us the truth of all things. By reading and studying the words of Christ, and taking them into our minds, they clean them out and conform them into the mind of Christ. It is a submission to his will, a humbling and selfless practice, and a spiritual evolution. When we read while seeking and submitting to His Spirit, the result is not a private interpretation, but a revelation.
Christ is quoted as saying “Call no one father.” However, it should be noted that the word for father and chieftain is the same word, so the subsequent translation need look for clues as to the meaning. The patriarchs are all sustained as father: Father Adam, Father Abraham and so forth, and we can’t have any fault for calling our mortal father, father. Christ is rather talking about leadership. People tend to lean upon human teachers of the Law and the Gospel instead of seeking God, the author of it. As recorded in Deuteronomy, when God would speak to the people, they said, “No, but to Moses be your word. We will obey him.” That was the old paradigm because the people could not handle the responsibility of being in communion with God. Christ offered a better way. He said, “If you don’t believe in me, then believe in what I do.” Look for the truth that you are ready to receive. But everything he taught led people closer to communion with God and when he left, He promised to send his Spirit to be their teacher.
This did not abolish the Law and Prophets as some mistake, because the the Spirit that gave the Law will not contradict himself. But it will give us a newer and deeper understanding of the Law and Prophets and may lead us to reject or reverse some changes and interpolations by the hands of corrupt authorities. The authorities in Jesus’ day and in all ages reject the power of God. They have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof. They hold to traditions which are corrupt, and do not seek revelation. Because they receive none, they accept none from others, which leads them to stone the prophets. As Christ says, they are like the dog who sleeps in the animal trough, and who doesn’t feast upon the word of the Lord or allow the other animals to feast either. True priests would be canals for revelation, but as recorded in the Gospel of Philip, these human authorities are “dry canals.”
The Gospel is centered upon revelation. We know nothing of the higher realms but by revelation, and we know nothing of what is true or untrue but by the same process. Nothing vacates our responsibility to grow in this regard, not tradition, not human authorities, not the acceptance of the people or of friends. We must each come to know God ourselves in order to be saved. Every Law, every doctrine, every book of scripture and individual part thereof is a practice in perfecting personal revelation. Fear and doubt are the tools of the adversary to drive the wedge between you and your Creator, who gives you power and a sound mind.
The only way to discern between your revelation and your private interpretation is to ask if it benefits your higher self or your lower self. Is it meant to give you fleshly security or spiritual development? Is it selfish or selfless? Is it love or is it fear?
Are you brave enough to contradict history and common consent? We may find ample examples of history being inaccurate, or woven from whole cloth, but it is still not easy to suggest a something is wrong on no greater evidence that our own revelation, which others may be forced to regard as intuition or self deception. Remember, we are not here to be liked or respected by the world. We are here to transcend and free ourselves of the need to be liked and respected. The resulting true spiritual freedom is of greater value and leads to our exaltation.
From his upcoming book “A Companion to Scripture.”
Click here for Part 2.