Monday, November 14, 2005

John 14:6

"I am theway, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)

This verse has always nagged at me because it is so often used to"prove" that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God. Instinctively, I've disagreed with this for as along as I can remember. In my opinion, itis one of the most destructive verses in the Bible because it has beenused throughout the ages to justify intolerence and many moreunpleasant ways of treating those who are not "Christians".

Obviously, I have a huge problem with this because it is so utterly un-Jesus-like (to me, anyway). To use this verse as anything akin to "proof" that would justify exclusivism is in my opinion extremely simplistic.

Additionally, it assumes many things... not the least of which is the unquestioned authority of the community or individual who wrote the Gospel of John. Many traditional scholars attribute authorship of the Gospel of John to the "beloved disciple" of Jesus - John of Zebedee. But this is not anywhere close to being factual. John of Zebedee was apparently beheaded by Agrippa I in 44 CE, long before the Gospel of John was written (sometime around 100 CE).

Without knowing really who wrote the Gospel of John, my tendency would be to read what the writer(s) wrote and reflect upon it... and see in which ways the wisdom points to God, and in which ways it does not. Of course, one can debate endlessly about such things as the meaning, the interpretation, and the authority of Scripture. At some point, you have to simply agree to disagree. I accept that.

What I do not accept are poor or inaccurate translations of theoriginal scripture written in Aramaic or Hebrew.

Note that in the original Aramaic, the word that was translated into the Greek to mean "I" in John 14:6 is "ena-ena". The problem is that ena-ena does not actually mean "I" as we understand it. It does not mean the "individual I", but rather "I-I"... In other words, the "cosmic I", as in "I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3: 13-14).

My understanding of John 14:6 is that Jesus was referring to his Father in heaven... the great "I AM" or Yahweh.

Also, in the original Greek version of this scripture, the word for"comes" is "erchetai"." Erchetai" has a very present tense meaning, feel. It does not apply to all people for all time. In John 14:6, Jesus was speaking to his disciples, trying to comfort them after telling them he would soon die.

My understanding is that the more accurate translation of John: 14:6 is:"Yahweh is the truth, the way, and the life. No one of you here comes to the Father but through me."

Keep in mind, though, I am not an exclusivist. I am a universalist. I believe that there is one Creator of the universe. I believe the Creator reveals truth and enlightenment in different ways to different people in different cultures in different worlds in different galaxies at different times.

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